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Leone da Modena and England

Cecil Roth

<plain_text><page sequence="1">206 leone da modena and england Leone da Modena and England. By Cecil Roth. Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, June 8,1926. The name of Leone da Modena conjures up one of the most fascinating personalities of Italian Jewish history. Infant prodigy and hoary prodigal; Jack of twenty-six trades (which he enumerates with some satisfaction), but master of none ; cynic enough to compose a memorial address upon himself, yet so constitutionally unfortunate as to survive the person designated to deliver it; polemist against his own convic? tions, and practiser against his own precept; fortune-hunter, who lost more than one small competence by gambling, repeatedly condemned the vice, yet remained addicted to it until his last days ; the innovator of the macaronic poems which made equally bad sense in whatever language they were read ; withal a scholar of unusual breadth, a pro? lific writer, and an eloquent preacher?the pride of the Ghetto even though at times its shame. In his days the beautiful Venetian synagogues were thronged with priests, grandees, ambassadors, some? times even princes, who came attracted by the fame of his eloquence : and more than one remained to sit at his feet. Of hie literary produc? tions, perhaps the best known is the Riti Ebraici: a composition of some importance in Jewish literature as being probably the earliest of the books produced by Jews in modern times to describe their religion to the Gentile world, and forerunner of a mighty tribe. The circumstances of the writing of this work?frequently repub lished, and translated into French, Dutch, German, English, Latin, and (paradoxically enough) even Hebrew?are of some interest in relation to Anglo-Jewish history. They are best described in his own words as given in his autobiography?the earliest in the Hebrew language. " Two years previous [to 1637], I had given a certain Frenchman who knew Hebrew, M. Giacomo Gafarelli, a work to read which I had composed more than twenty years ago at the request of an English lord to give to the King of England. In this I had described all the rites and laws and customs of the Jews in their exile at the</page><page sequence="2">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 207 present day : and at that time I took no precautions about inserting in it things in opposition to the censorship, seeing that it was in manu? script and intended for the perusal of persons who are not of the Papal religion." 1 The exact year of composition is not given: but in the first Venice edition it is apparently indicated, below the well-known portrait of the author which serves as frontispiece, as 1616?a date which is in complete agreement with the indications which he himself gives. This accords admirably with other circumstances as we know them. The reigning English monarch was James I, an uncouth figure with a boundless curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. And in 1616 there had just returned to Venice as his ambassador, after an absence of five years, no less a person than Sir Henry Wotton, later Provost of Eton College, scholar, diplomat, and poet: precisely the man who might be expected to interest himself in abstruse branches of learning. It seems probable enough, on the basis of this alone, that Wotton was the " English lord " at whose request Leone da Modena wrote his most famous work, and that there must have been some degree of familiarity between the Venetian Eabbi and the English poet. This hypothesis is borne out by other sources to which hitherto no attention has been paid. Leone da Modena was a great letter-writer". There has recently been published a bulky volume of his correspondence, sent to almost every corner of the civilised world as it was then known?from Amsterdam to Constantinople and from Palestine to Poland.2 That England is not represented was not perhaps to be expected : for though this country already sheltered a few furtive Marrano settlers, it con? tained as yet no settled Jewish community and no Jewish scholars with whom the Venetian Rabbi might have had occasion to exchange views. Yet at the same time it must be remembered that Leone da Modena's acquaintance was not confined to the Jewish world. Though no great Kabbinic scholar, he was a man of unusual versatility and breadth of knowledge, which he knew how to present in an attractive manner ; and he became in consequence the recognised representative 1 Cf. his autobiography, n*lin^ Kahana, Kiew, 1911, p. 56. 2 Blau, Leo Modena's Briefe und Schriftst?cke, Budapest, 1905-6.</page><page sequence="3">208 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. of Jewish scholarship to the Christian world. In Venice, still one of the great commercial, artistic, and intellectual centres of Europe, he had every facility for making himself known. He numbered more than one Christian scholar among his pupils, and remained in corre? spondence with some who had attained high rank in the Catholic Church. It is not, therefore, after all so surprising to find him in epistolary com? munication with an English Protestant; although it is certainly curious to find his letter included, not among his correspondence (where it would have attracted notice long ago), but in a volume of his casuistic responsa, the ZiJcne Jehudah, preserved in manuscript in the British Museum. It is not perhaps too much to say that this is the only Teshubah extant addressed to a Gentile. The letter, in all its Oriental hyperbole, runs as follows : TRANSLATION. (B.M., MS. Add. 27148, f. 24.) " ? xxxii.: To England, to a Gentile there, in the sacred tongue. " Peace to you, 0 wise of heart and great of power, prince and leader! " Who am I, and what is my life, that I have found favour in the eyes of my lord, so that you should speak unto your servant from afar as a man speaks to a friend of understanding ? Yet I am poor and ignoble : in my house there is none of the bread of understanding nor of the garment of wisdom and learning. Doubtless the sapient sons of your people told you of me some years ago, when I was in attendance upon my lord the Ambassador (may God preserve him !) enhancing my worth in their goodness and modesty: for I am no man of fame and wisdom, that my name should have reached a far-off land. In that case, thanks and praise be both to them and to your worship : and from now all my efforts will be devoted to serving you with one accord. To the questions which your honour asked of me I shall reply in due order. The interpretation of the initials YB'nfD&gt; meaning ^Join HJVD D*"1T p**lB&gt; I could not find in your reference: but as far as I recollect from a long time ago, I believe that this occurs where our sages speak of the heave-offering which was given to the priests. This was holy, and no stranger might eat thereof. Accordingly, the four following conditions might apply: niVD (death), that some</page><page sequence="4">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 209 times the one who ate it should have been put to death : G?Din (fifth), that it was necessary to add to it a fifth of the value, as it is written (Leviticus v. 16), ' And he shall add the fifth part thereto ' : (redemption) that sometimes he estimated its value in money: ?nt (strangers), that strangers (i.e. Israelites who were not priests) might not eat it. Thus it appears to me, that this was said with regard to the heave-offering or to some similar oblation, although I have not at present found the interpretation explicitly in any book. However, your worship was wrong in reading the first two words fUVD 5?Dn together, and wnn instead of and in thinking that the mean? ing was ' death by five wounds,' that is, crucifixion : for they drove in nails and smote the side so that there were five wounds, as the Christians say. There is no real ground for this : and the statement was made in reference to the offerings, as I said. But I will inform your honour of something new. According to my opinion, the Jews never put any person to death by crucifixion : for they were not per? mitted nor accustomed to execute sentence excepting by the four penalties of the Court of Justice?stoning, burning, decapitation, and strangling. Crucifixion, however, was the penalty inflicted by the Romans : and even though they were then ruling over Israel, the Jews did not administer their law. As far as the second question goes also, I did not find your worship's reference in the book Alfas : but I believe he says that the offerings were brought when a man committed unwittingly a sin for which the penalty, had he done it deliberately, was stoning, burning, decapitation, or strangling : and not that they inflict these four penalties upon the beast or the offering. This is my opinion on the questions which your honour's understanding has been pleased to ask me, and if I have erred, pray inform me of it. In any matter and at any time and at any place when you know that I have it in my power to serve you, command it and I will do honour to your word when it comes, 'vaulting a wall at your bidding.' It will be an extreme pleasure to me each time your words and commands reach me. I have given the honourable 'bwi (may Grod preserve him !) a copy of my books Midbar Jehudah, which is a collection of sermons which I preached here in my youth: and Leb haAryeh, a little composition on Mnemotechnics: for till to-day there has not been among us Jews any person besides myself alone who has written about this science. These VOL. XI. P</page><page sequence="5">210 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. works I have sent you that you should do me the favour of reading them; for since the great distance prevents me from personal conversation, I will speak to you in this manner. And my prayer is to God, etc." "Index: xxxiii (sic): Reply to a Gentile from England, who sent to ask the interpretation of the initials of an't JVYa K&gt;Dl'n HJV'D?" The principal interest of this letter is, of course, the clear proof it gives of the existence of a certain amount of intercourse between the English Hebraists and the world of Jewish scholarship even before the Readmission. The band of enthusiasts of whom John Lightfoot was foremost did not therefore owe their knowledge exclusively to the instruction of the few apostates who had penetrated into England.3 In this intercourse Leone da Modena was among the pioneers. Not only had his reputation reached so far, but he was in actual corre? spondence with this country?as we shall see, not with one person alone. This is in itself a most important contribution to our knowledge of the history of Hebrew scholarship in England. Yet the matter of the letter is not negligible. It is interesting to find that an English Hebraist had attained a sufficient standard of proficiency to be able to carry on correspondence in the " sacred tongue." It is somewhat amusing, however, to note that Modena, in an endeavour to make his reply as simple as possible, is continually dropping into Italianisms which must have been much more difficult of comprehension than plain, straightforward, Biblical Hebrew would have been. As far as the details are concerned, there are two points which call for special note. One is the Englishman's idea, for which he thought that he found confirmation in the writings of Isaac of Fez (Alfasi), the great Talmudic compendist, that the theory of sacrifice was to inflict upon the animal the punishment which should have been suffered by the sinner who offered it: a sort of early Frazerianism, if one may be permitted the term. Of more importance is the Rabbi's point, which seems almost a pre-echo of nineteenth-century apologetics, that cruci 3 For Hebrew studies in England at this period see Canon Box in The Legacy of Israel, pp. 353-62; Israel Abrahams in Transactions, vol. viii. p. 105, and vol. viii. pp. 98-122 ; G. W. Wheeler in Bodleian Quarterly Record, iii. 144 ; and the remarkable paper showing the interest of John Locke and some of his con? temporaries by Gotthold Weil in Soncino-Bl?tter, i. 199-208.</page><page sequence="6">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 211 fixion was not a Jewish penalty, but exclusively Koman; and hence, by implication, that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus. Curiously enough, it was just about this period that Evelyn came across in Holland, married to an Englishwoman, a certain Burgundian Jew, " a merry drunken fellow," who similarly laid the responsibility for the Crucifixion on the Bomans?no doubt on similar grounds.4 To Modena the interest of his reply was purely academic ; and in consequence he neglects to mention in his copy the name of his correspondent. An English source, however, provides a clue. The Riti, written for James I, was actually first published (as we shall see) only in 1637. Now six years previous to that date, the famous John Seiden speaks in his De Successionibus of current Jewish practice, with the observation : 'c We say this on the authority of a compendium of the rites, life, and customs of the Hebrews written in Italian by Leon of Modena, a Jew, who is to-day (as I have heard) Archisynagogue at Venice. My copy was communicated to me of his great goodness by the eminent and learned William Boswell, who received it from him in autograph." 5 In the Uxor Ebraica published in 1646, Seiden again cites this manuscript, which, according to him, compared very favourably with the printed edition which had appeared in the interval.6 The 4 Diary of John Evelyn, anno 1641. By " Burgundian " Jew, no doubt an Alsatian, or perhaps Avignonese, is meant. There were no Jews in Burgundy proper at the time. The abbreviation explained in the letter is to be found in T.B. Sabbath, f. 25. 5 Dicimus haec ex Leonis Mutinensis Judaei, qui Venetiis hodieque ut audi, Archisinagogus est, conpendio Italice conscripto de ritibus vita et moribus Ebreorum. Exemplar meum pro summa sua umanitate communicavit V. Cl. eruditissimusque, Guglielmus Boswellus, qui ab eo autographum accepit" (De Successionibus, ed. 1631, p. 60). 6 " Hodie vero apud Europaeos Judaeos, veluti, qui Italia ac Germania degunt, infoecundae uxori alia, prolis gratia, idque non sine Pontificis Romani indulto, interdum superinducitur, quod ex R. Leonis Mutinensis, Venetiis Arehisynagogi, de moribus Ebraeorum libello seu Historia de gli Riti Hebraici didici. Manu scripto scilicet illo, quern alibi uti &amp; virum praestantissimum qui mecum communicavit memero. Nam in codice Parisiis dudum impresso id quod de Pontificis Romani indulto heic habetur consult? ut videtur est dispunctum. Et quod de polygamia ibi in ejusdem archetypo olim legebatur, id est in exemplari meo fideliter in Italia tran scripto, ita se habet. Gl' e lecito pigliar piu d* una e quante moglie vonno, pure in Italia &amp; Germania non usano pigliare pi? d'una se non in caso che non habbia con la prima figlioli, che si conosca che to facci per questo, et in Italia hanno usato chiedere</page><page sequence="7">212 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. importance of these citations is obvious. Either we have here a further English intimate of Modena's, or else, as appears more probable, the anonymous correspondent and William Boswell are identical. The latter was a well-known figure in his age?Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge ; member of Parliament for Boston in 1624-5 ; secretary to Lord Herbert of Cherbury and to Dudley Carleton in the embassies of Paris and The Hague ; and finally (from 1630) ambassador at the latter place, with the dignity of knighthood (1633). Besides being a diplomat, he was also a scholar. He was a theologian of repute, in correspondence with Archbishop Laud, and taking a pro? minent part in the Arminian controversy in Holland. His manuscript correspondence shows him to have been deeply interested in Oriental languages, as well as in Anglo-Saxon and in politics. What is more significant is a Discourse of Ancient Ordonances and Cerimonies about Divine Worship preserved among his papers in the British Museum (Add. MS. 6394), and presumably from his hand. In this, the folios are numbered in Hebrew, and other hieroglyphic signs in the same language are strewn about in the margins. The author quotes more? over what " A Babbyne writes " in the matter of separating the tithe, and declares roundly that " then shall I be Babbinicall." All this goes to support the identification of Sir W7illiam Boswell with the English Hebraist who was in correspondence with Leone da Modena. It would appear, then, that the correspondence initiated by the Englishman's inquiry continued, and that Leon followed up his original gift of books by sending him the manuscript of the work written for the eye of his sovereign. There is indeed a direct link between Boswell and Venice in the fact that he himself went on the Grand Tour in Italy in his younger days ; and further, that Sir Dudley Carleton, his official superior, was ambassador at that city during one of Wotton's interludes of office (1610-15) before taking up residence in Holland.7 It is not impossible licenza e pigliare dispensa del Papa. Et sane ab exemplari meo haud paucis nec momenti levioris discrepat editio ilia, cui &amp; Ebraica quibus saepius utitur Leo passim desunt. ..." (Uxor Ebraica, ed. 1646, pp. 72-3). Blau refers to the censored passage of the Biti (IV. ii. 2) in discussing bigamy among Italian Jews at this period (op. cit., pp. 156-7). The full text adds a great deal of point to his remarks. 7 See articles in Dictionary of National Biography.</page><page sequence="8">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 213 that the latter, too, was in touch with Leone da Modena, in spite of the fact that he had, as far as we know, no special theological interests. One might even conjecture that the Riti had been written at his request at the close of his mission, that on his withdrawal Modena had sent the manuscript after him, and that it had fallen into the hands of his secretary. But the character of Carleton (better known as Viscount Dorchester, Charles I.'s Secretary of State at the opening of the Civil War), with his Arminian leanings, is not such as to make it probable that he frequented the Ghetto in Venice or interested himself in such matters; with Wotton, on the other hand (as we shall see), matters were different. Moreover, Modena states explicitly that the letter was sent to England; and it must therefore have been anterior to the period of Boswell's attachment to the embassy of The Hague. In Holland, too, it would have been natural to address inquiries to the flourishing community of Amsterdam, rather than have recourse to distant Venice. All this goes to indicate that the English scholar commenced the intercourse from the solitude of his Cambridge College, of which he became a Fellow in 1606, and where he was perhaps the pupil of Philip Ferdinand or " Rabbi" Jacob, the two apostate Cambridge Hebraists of the commencement of the seventeenth century. The date of Modena's letter is not given ; and since the same omission occurs in the other Responsa included in the volume, it cannot be determined by the relation to the rest of the series. However, the Leb haAryeh, the later of the two works mentioned, was published in 1612 ; and the collection, Zikne Jehudah, in which the letter is con? tained, was compiled in 1630. The letter is to be placed, therefore, some time between these dates?probably nearer the earlier, as from 1620 Boswell spent most of his time out of England. And since Modena refers to his intimacy with the Ambassador as a thing of the past, one may imagine that the correspondence was initiated before Wotton's return to Venice in 1616. We are therefore able to assign the letter, with a strong degree of probability, within the narrow limits 1612 to 1616. The intermediary, or, anyhow, common acquaintance, remains unidentified. He may possibly be Johan de Laet, the Dutch savant and polyhistor with whom Boswell was in constant intercourse in later years?on matters connected with .Oriental studies, among other</page><page sequence="9">214 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. things. Alternatively, one must conjecture that he was an English? man?John Daley, or some such name?-perhaps a Cambridge student going on the Grand Tour, to whom he entrusted his mission to the Venetian Rabbi already known to him by fame. A minor point in this letter, though one not without its importance, is the definite confirmation of the conjecture that Leone da Modena was on terms of intimacy with Sir Henry Wotton. His language is unmistakable : "I was in attendance upon my lord the Ambassador (may God preserve him !)." We know indeed from the memoirs of his grandson that Modena was on terms of familiarity with princes and ambassadors of all peoples, as none had been before him ; and he himself tells us of his intercourse with more than one French, and even Spanish, envoy. As far as Wotton is concerned, we know from other sources that'' his house was in the same street . . . where the Jewish Ghetto is, even the streete called St. Hieronimo," 8 and that he was on terms of familiarity with the cultured Spanish Jews of Venice.9 What more natural than that he should have heard from them of that remarkable prodigy of their community and his eloquence, and should have penetrated one day to the Ghetto to hear him preach ? The visit might have been followed by others : the scholarly ambassador sought the acquaintance of the tolerant Rabbi and invited him to his house?perhaps with the intention of studying the Hebrew tongue. Here he came into touch with other Englishmen; and, when the Ambassador was recalled, Modena did not forget him, as his letter 8 CoryaVs Crudities (Glasgow, 1905), i. 379. 9 Cf. State Papers, Venetian, xv. 216. There are a couple of passages in Wotton's published letters which similarly illustrate his interest in the Jews. Thus he writes from Florence on May 8, 1592, concerning his stay in Rome : " The third edict (from the time of my coming to my departure) was wholly against the Jews, imposing upon them of three things necessarily one ; either to keep against the banditi 400 horse in the Campania, or to maintain the bread at one baiocho (Editor's note : About a halfpenny in English money) the pound, or imbag liare. A proposition scarce to be expected even in tempi santascurim, as the Hebrews say ; but we hear of no execution, for (as some hold) his Holiness besides extreme unction, hath been anointed with Crowns of the Son " (Smith, Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, i. 275). Similarly he writes four months later (ibid., p. 286): " Two bandi are come forth in Rome, the one against the Hebrews, not to chase them away, but to limit their knavery, and in exceeding straight terms. . . ."</page><page sequence="10">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 215 shows. On his return to Venice in 1616 Wotton bethought himself that no gift could be more welcome to his royal master than a treatise on Jewish customs?the more so, since virtually none of that race were to be found in England, and a fortiori in Scotland. We know, indeed, that Wotton was in the habit of flattering him with similar literary novelties?such as, for example, the History of the Council of Trent, by his learned neighbour, Fra Paolo Sarpi, before its actual publication. Thus it was that the Riti Ebraici reached England in manuscript, in a recension somewhat different from that published subsequently in Paris, and with more quotations in Hebrew. Another copy Modena sent subsequently to his English correspondent, William Boswell, who generously presented it to a friend who was able to make better use of it than he himself. Thus it came about that, several years before it appeared in print, John Seiden was able to utilise it, and possessed some oral information as to its author. The work was therefore in circulation in England in manuscript many years before its unauthorised publication in Paris in 1637 by Jacques Gafarell, the scatter-brained French mystic. But it was only in 1650 that it was actually published in the country for which it was originally intended in the poor translation of Edward Chilmead?one of the many har? bingers and preparatives of the Readmission.10 It may well be that 10 The 1650 edition of The Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews was frequently reprinted until 1707, when " Leon of Modena is . . . come into England " in S. Ockley's fresh translation from the French of Reccared Simon, and with his valuable additions, including chapters on the Karaites and the Samaritans. This edition was more than once republished. In the meanwhile the French text, with the addition of a second dissertation and supplement, had been embodied in Picart's Ceremonies et Coutumes Religieuses de tons les peuples du Monde, which was in its turn translated by " A Gentleman some time since of St. John's College, in Oxford." This was published in London in 1733 by William Jackson with Picart's superb plates of Jewish ceremonies, to which were added a number of minor ones by Morellon la Cave. The plates are all, of course, of considerable historic as well as artistic importance, as illustrating most faithfully and vividly Jewish home life in the eighteenth century. Thus in the representation of the Seder, a negro is shown sitting down at table with the family?an obvious indica? tion that the negro slaves of Amsterdam Jews were admitted to the faith. The order of service for the circumcision of slaves is, as a matter of fact, printed in some contemporary prayer books; and there is a certain amount of tumulary evidence pointing in the same direction. Considering the very close intercourse between the communities of Amsterdam and London, it is more than likely that</page><page sequence="11">216 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. there was a flow of books in the other direction as well; for Modena became aware that he had been deemed worthy of mention in Selden's work, and was childishly delighted at the honour.11 At a subsequent period?very likely as a consequence of this?he entered into direct epistolary communication with the great English jurist as well, and an Italian letter from him, since disappeared, was long preserved amongst the latter's correspondence.12 Venice already at the beginning of the seventeenth century was one of the show-places of Europe. The many Englishmen who resorted thither on pleasure or business, having for the first time an opportunity of examining the people of the Old Testament at close quarters, regarded the Ghetto as one of the sights of Venice. Leon of Modena, the Rabbi whose fame had spread even to distant England, must assuredly have been reckoned one of the sights of the Ghetto. Many English travellers of the period, engaged in the Grand Tour of Europe, recorded their impressions of the Venetian Jewry?its quarter, its synagogues, even its services.13 It would not be surprising, there? fore, if in one of these accounts we were to find a description of the famous Rabbi. Now Thomas Coryat, the most characteristic globe? trotter of his day, gives in his Crudities a lengthy account of the Ghetto at Venice as he found it in 1608, and of a certain " learned Jewish the same practice obtained here as well. Owing to the carelessness of the English engraver, the plates of the London edition are printed reversed?that is, as seen in the looking-glass. This has the curious effect that all the characters seem to be left-handed?e.g. in the splendid Hosannah Rabbah procession, in which the Lulab is uniformly carried in the right hand, and the Eihrog in the left. 11 See Autobiography, p. 68. 12 Cf. List of Original Letters to and from Mr. Seiden, in British Museum, Harleian MSS. 7527 f. 57a : " Leon Modena Rabi Hebreo, Italice " (this is obviously to Seiden, as letters from him are accompanied by a note to that effect). It is tempting to believe that it was to Seiden that the Hebrew letter here published was directed; however, as has been seen, it is necessarily anterior to 1630, while Seiden writes of Modena in 1631 by hearsay. The identification is therefore utterly impossible. I am indebted to my brother, Mr. Leon Roth, of the University of Manchester, for having called my attention to this entry. 13 Cf. the account of Laurence Alderney in Hakluyt, ed. 1905, pp. 204-5 ; William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse of the Rare Adventures and Painful Pere? grinations (1906), pp. 367-9 ; Travels of Peter Wendy, p. 92.</page><page sequence="12">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 217 Rabbi " whom he encountered in it. The passage is worth reproducing in full14 : Coryafs Crudities (ed. 1905, i. 370-6). "I was at a place where the whole fraternity of the Jews dwelleth together, which is called the Ghetto, being an Hand : for it is inclosed round about with water. It is thought there are of them in all betwixt five and sixe thousand. They are distinguished and discerned from the Christians by their habites on their heads ; for some of them doe weare hats and those redde, onely those Jewes that are borne in the Westerne parts of the world, as in Italy, &amp;c, but the easterne Jewes being otherwise called the *Levantine Jewes, which are borne in Hierusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople &amp;c. weare Turbants upon their heads as the Turkes do : but the difference is this : the Turkes weare white, the Jewes yellow. By that word Turbent I understand a rowle of fine linenn wrapped together upon their heads, which serveth them in stead of hats, whereof many have bin often worn by the Turkes in London. They have divers Synagogues in their Ghetto, at the least seven, where all of them, both men, women and children doe meete together upon their Sabboth, which is Saturday, to the end to doe their devotion, and serve God in their kinde, each company having a several Synagogue. In the midst of the Synagogue they have a round seat made of Wainscot, having eight open spaces therein,, at two whereof which are at the sides, they enter into the seate as by dores. The Levite that readeth the law to them, hath before him at the time of divine service an exceeding long piece of parchment, rowled up upon two woodden handles : in which is written the whole summe and con? tents of Moyses law in Hebrew : that doth he (being discerned from the lay people onely by wearing of a redde cap, whereas the others doe weare redde hats) pronounce before the congregation not by a sober, distinct, and orderly reading, but by an exceeding loud yaling, undecent roaring, and as it were a beastly bellowing of it forth. And that after such a confused and huling manner, that I thinke the hearers can very hardly understand him : some? times he cries out alone, and sometimes againe some others serving as it were his Clerkes hard without his seate, and within, do roare with him, but so that his voyce (which he straineth so high as if he sung for a wager) drowneth all 14 Coryafs Crudities, ed. 1905, i. 370-6. Subsequent to the writing of this paper, part of this passage was included on its intrinsic merits in Sir A. T. Quiller - Couch's Oxford Book of English Prose. The Jewish interest of Coryat's writings was first pointed out by H. H. Furness in the Variorum Merchant of Venice (Phil? adelphia, 1888). For my knowledge of it I am indebted to Mr. J. Leveen. * They are so called from the Latin word levare, which sometimes signifieth as much as elevare, that is to elevate or lift up. Because the sun elevateth and raiseth it selfe in heigth every morning in the East: herehence also commeth the Levant sea, for the Easterne Sea.</page><page sequence="13">218 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. the rest. Amongst others that are within the roome with him, one is he that cometh purposely thither from his seat, to the end to reade the law, and pronounce some part of it with him, who when he is gone, another riseth from his seat, and eommeth thither to supply his roome. This order they keepe from the beginning of service to the end. One custome I observed amongst them very irreverent and profane, that none of them eyther when they enter the Synagogue, or when they sit downe in their places, or when they goe forth againe, doe any reverence or obeysance, answerable to such a place of the worship of God, eyther by uncovering their heads, kneeling, or any other externell gesture, but boldly dash into the roome with their Hebrew bookes in their handes, and presently sit in their places, without any more adoe; every one of them whatsoever he be, man or childe, weareth a kinde of light yellowish vaile, made of Linsie Woolsie (as I take it) over his shoulders, something worse than our coarser Holland, which reacheth a little below the middle of their backes. They have a great company of candlestickes in each Synagogue made partly of glasse, and partly of brasse and pewter, which hang square about their Synagogue. For in that forme is their Synagogue built: of their candlestickes I told above sixty in the same Synagogue. " I observed some fewe of those Jewes especially some of the Levantines to bee such goodly and proper men, that I said to my selfe our English pro verbe : To looke like a Jewe (whereby is meant sometimes a weather beaten warp-faeed fellow, sometimes a phrenticke and lunaticke person, sometimes one discontented) is not true. For indeed I noticed some of them to be most elegant and sweet featured persons, which gave me occasion the more to lament their religion. For if they were Christians, then could I better apply unto them that excellent verse of the Poet, then I can now. " Gratior est pulchro veniens e corpore virtus. In the roome wherin they celebrate their divine service no women sit, but have a loft or gallery proper to themselves only, where I saw many Jewish women, whereof some were as beautiful as ever I saw, and so gorgeous in their apparel, jewels, chaines of gold, and rings adorned with precious stones, that some of our English Countesses do scarce exceede them, having marvailous long traines like Princesses that are borne up by waiting women serving for the same purpose. An argument to prove that many of the Jewes are very rich. One thing they observe in their service which is utterly condemned by our Saviour Christ, *Battologia, that is a very tedious babling, and an often repetition of one thing, which cloied mine eares so much that I could not endure them any longer, having heard them at least an houre ; for their service is almost three houres long. They are very religious in two things * Mat. 6. ver. 7.</page><page sequence="14">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 219 only, and no more, in that they worship no images, and that they keep their sabboth so strictly, that upon that day they wil neither buy nor sell, nor do any secular, prophane, or irreligious exercise, (I would to God our Christians would imitate the Jewes herein) not so much as dresse their victuals, which is alwaies done the day before, but dedicate and consecrate themselves wholy to the strict worship of God. Their circumcision they observe as duely as they did any time betwixt Abraham (in whose time it was first instituted) and the incarnation of Christ. For they use to circumcise every male childe when he is eight dayes old, with a stony knife. But I had not the oppor tunitie to see it. Likewise they keepe many of those ancient feastes that were instituted by Moyses. Amongst the rest the feast of tabernacles is very ceremoniously observed by them. From swines flesh they abstaine as their ancient forefathers were wont to doe, in which the Turkes do imitate them at this day. Truely it is a most lamentable case for a Christian to consider the damnable estate of these miserable Jewes, in that they reject the true Mesias and Saviour of their soules, hoping to be saved rather by the observa? tion of those Mosaicall ceremonies (the date whereof was fully expired at Christ's incarnation) then by the merits of the Saviour of the world, with out whom all mankind shall perish. And as pitif ull it is to see that f ewe of them living in Italy are converted to the Christian religion. For this I under? stand is the maine impediment to their conversion: All their goodes are confiscated as soon as they embrace Christianity : and this I heard is the reason, because whereas many of them doe raise their fortunes by usury, in so muche that they doe not only sheare, but also flea many a poore Christians estate by their griping extortion; it is therefore decreed by the Pope, and other free Princes in whose territories they live, that they shall make a resti? tution of all their ill gotten gains, and so disclogge their soules and consciences, when they are admitted by holy baptisme into the bosome of Christs Church. Seing then when their goods are taken from them at their conversion, they are left even naked, and destitute of their meanes of maintenance, there are fewer Jewes converted to Christianity in Italy, than in any other country of Christendome. Whereas in Germany, Poland, and other places the Jewes that are converted (which doth often happen, as Emmanuel Tremellius was converted in Germany) do enjoy their estates as they did before. " But now I will make relation of that which I promised in my treatise of Padua, I meane my discourse with the Jewes about their religion. For when as walking in the Court of the Ghetto, I casually met with a certaine learned Jewish Rabbin that spake good Latin, I insinuated my selfe after some fewe termes of complement into conference with him, and asked him his opinion of Christ, and why he did not receive him for his Messias; he made me the same answere that the T?rke did at Lyons, of whom I have before spoken, that Christ forsooth was a great Prophet, and in that respect as highly to be esteemed as any Prophet amongst the Jewes that ever lived</page><page sequence="15">220 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. before him ; but derogated altogether from his divinitie, and would not acknowledge him for the Messias and Saviour of the world, because he came so contemptibly, and not with that pompe and majesty that beseemed the redeemer of mankind. I replyed that we Christians doe, and will ever to the effiusion of our vitall bloud confesse him to be the true and onely Messias of the world, seeing he confirmed his Doctrine while hee was here on earth, with such an innumerable multitude of divine miracles, which did most infallibly testifie his divinitie ; and that they themselves, who are Christs irreconciliable enemies, could not produce any authority either out of Moyses, the Prophets, or any other authenticke author to strengthen their opinion concerning the temporall kingdome of the Messias, seeing it was foretolde to be spirituall: and told him, that Christ did as a spirituall King reigne over his subjects in conquering their spiritual enemies of the flesh, the world, and the divell. Withall I added that the predictions and sacred oracles both of Moyses, and all the holy Prophets of God, aymed altogether at Christ as their onely marke, in regarde hee was the full consummation of the law and the Prophets, and I urged a place of *Esay unto him concerning the name Emanuel, and a virgins conceiving and bearing of a sonne ; and at last descended to the perswasion of him to abandon and renounce his Jewish religion and to undertake the Christian faith, without the which he would be eternally damned. He againe replyed that we Christians doe misinterpret the Prophets, and very perversly wrest them to our owne sense, and for his owne part he had confidently resolved to live and die in his Jewish faith, hoping to be saved by the observation of Moyses Law. In the end he seemed to be somewhat exasperated against me, because I sharpely taxed their superstitious ceremonies. For many of them are such refractory people that they cannot endure to hear any reconciliation to the Church of Christ, in regard they esteeme him but for a carpenters sonne, and a silly poore wretch that once rode upon an Asse, and most unworthy to be the Messias whom they expect to come with the most pompous magnificence and im? periall royalty, like a peerlesse Monarch, garded with many legions of the gallant est Worthies, and most eminent personages of the whole world, to conquer not onely their old country Judaea and all those opulent and flourish? ing Kingdomes, which heretofore belonged to the foure auncient Monarchies (such is their insupportable pride) but also all the nations generally under the cope of heaven, and make the King of Guiane, and al other Princes what? soever dwelling in the remotest parts of the habitable world his tributary vassals. Thus hath God justly infatuated their understandings, and given them the spirit of slumber (as Saint Paule speaketh out of the Prophet Esay) eyes that they should not see, and eares that they should not heare unto this * Cap. 17. ver. 14.</page><page sequence="16">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 221 day. But to shut up this narration of my conflict with the Jewish Rabbin, after there had passed many vehement speeches to and fro betwixt us, it happened that some forty or fifty Jewes more flocked about me, and some of them beg?nne very insolently to swagger with me, because I durst reprehend their religion : Whereupon fearing least they would have offered me some violence, I withdrew my selfe by little and little towards the bridge at the entrance into the Ghetto, with an intent to flie from them, but by good fortune our noble Ambassador Sir Henry Wotton passing under the bridge in his Gondola at that very time, espyed me somewhat earnestly bickering with them, and so incontinently sent unto me out of his boate one of his principall Gentlemen Master Belford his secretary, who conveighed mee safely from these unchristian miscreants, which perhaps would have given mee just occasion to forsweare any more comming to the Ghetto. " Thus much for the Jewish Ghetto, their service, and my discourse with one of their Rabbines." Sectarian considerations on one side, it is difficult to imagine anything more unmannerly than the way in which Coryat forced this disputation upon his courteous interlocutor; and the indignation of the Jews (even if the account is not exaggerated) is readily understood. The Englishman came in for a good deal of chaffing over his attempt at proselytism. A friend sent him a jocular letter addressed " To the English Gentleman that converteth Jewes, &amp;c. in Venice."15 In the Panegyrick Verses prefixed to the Crudities, a number of his acquaint? ances congratulated him on having escaped from the Ghetto intact, and in the frontispiece he is represented fleeing from a turbaned Rabbi with a knife in his hand. This is not, however, intended as a portrait, and gives us no indication as to the latter's identity. But we have a definite clue in Coryat's own account. In spite of the high degree of secular culture among the Jews of Italy, there cannot have been many rabbis in Venice at the time who spoke good Latin. But we happen to know of Modena that he had a good acquaintance with that tongue, for writing purposes as well as for reading.16 Moreover, we 15 Coryafs Crudities, i. 272. It is noteworthy that Immanuel Aboab, one of the most eminent Rabbis of the previous generation, had a disputation with an Englishman at Pisa in 1596 (Nomologia, p. 203 seq.). 16 In an Index of additional responsa at the end of the MS. of the Zikne Jehudah, Modena refers to one upon the laws of primogeniture in Latin (J n"D ? ]smh minn jd man ncyyr)</page><page sequence="17">222 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. have it on the authority of his pupil, the apostate Giulio Morosini, that he used to talk most tolerantly of the founder of Christianity17? not a common thing in an age of persecution ; and, in a letter to an Italian scholar, he vindicated him, not merely as a Jew, but as a Pharisee.18 Most significant of all, he points out in a polemical disser? tation that Jesus is reported nowhere in the Gospels to claim divine attributes.19 On the strength of all this, it is not too much to con? jecture that Modena was the tolerant Rabbi upon whom Coryat forced his ill-mannered controversy, and who considered that " Christ forsooth was a great prophet . . . but derogated entirely from his divinities In this stately passage of English prose, then, we have, almost without doubt, a pen-picture of one of the most prominent, and certainly the most picturesque, of the Rabbis of his time. Perhaps it would be ex? cessive to suggest that this ungracious encounter, followed by the romantic " rescue " by Sir Henry Wotton, was the immediate occasion for the commencement of the intimacy between the Rabbi and the Ambassador at the beginning of the latter's first mission to Venice.20 It has, in any case, been definitely established that the reputation of Leon of Modena penetrated to England, probably by means of the later Provost of Eton College, with whom he was certainly on terms of some intimacy. In this connection it is interesting to call attention to that masterpiece of Jacobean prose, the Complete Angler. Isaac Walton misses no opportunity of introducing the Jews into his writings. Many of his references are indeed from the Old Testament. For example : " And it may be fit to remember that Moses (Lev. xi. 19) appointed fish to be the chief diet for the very best commonwealth that ever was " ; 21 Or more currently : "I will let them "?the 17 Via delta Fede, p. 105. 18 See my paper on " Leone da Modena and the Christian Hebraists of his Age," in the Israel Abrahams Memorial Volume. 19 Magen vaHereb, ? v. 20 It is not out of the question that the Rabbi in question was Modena's contemporary, Benedetto Luzatto. But, apart from other considerations, he was at this time only twenty-five years of age (Blau, op. cit.f pp. 119-20; the Jewish Encyclopaidia is erroneous and self-contradictory on this point), which would seem too young. It is highly probable, it may be remarked incidentally, that Leone da Modena was one of the two Rabbis whom John Evelyn met at a wedding ceremony in the Ghetto at Venice : see his diary for May 6th, 1645. 21 Compleat Angler, ed. Le Gallienne, p. 38.</page><page sequence="18">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 223 lamprey, etc.?"alone, as the Jews do, to whom they are forbidden by their law." 22 " This "?the flounder?" though it be most excellent meat, yet it wants scales, and is, as I told you, therefore an abomination to the Jews." 23 It is true that such references are obvious enough. Yet they illustrate Walton's strong interest in matters Jewish ?it is noteworthy that his disciple and continuator, Charles Cotton, has no such passages. It is to be noted, too, that Walton speaks of the Jew not as a mere antiquarianism, as the majority of his contem? poraries do, but as something living and real. And in one or two passages he goes so far as to cite current usage. Thus in his eleventh chapter, " Observations of the Tench, and how to angle for him," he observes: " This fish hath very large fins, very small and smooth scales, and a red circle about his eyes, which are big and of a gold colour, and from either angle of his mouth there hangs down a little barb. In every tench's head there are two little stones, which foreign physicians make great use of, but he is not commended for wholesome meat, though there be very much use made of them for outward applications. Rondeletius says, that at his being at Rome, he saw a great cure done by applying a tench to the feet of a very sick man. This, he says, was done after an unusual manner, by certain Jews. And it is observed, that many of those people have many secrets yet unknown to Christians; secrets that have never yet been written, but have since the days of their Solomon (who knew the nature of all things, even from the cedar to the shrub) delivered by tradition from the father to the son, and so from generation to generation, without writing, or (unless it were casually) without the least communicating them to any other nation or tribe; for to do that they account a profanation. And yet it is thought that they, or some spirit worse than they, first told us that lice swallowed alive were a certain cure for 22 Compleat Angler, p. 203. 23 Ibid. In addition, Walton is continually quoting Josephus, " the learned Jew," as an example for the writing of autobiography (see the Address to the Header prefixed to the first collected edition of Walton's Lives), or as authority for the existence of the river Sambation, instance of the power of God as manifested in the water (Angler, p. 45). It is interesting to note that in this instance he departs from the actual version of Josephus, of a river which flows only on the seventh day, and speaks of one flowing the whole week except on the seventh day. Commenta? tors point out that this is reminiscent of Pliny's version of a similar supernatural phenomenon. But it is to be noted that it is fully in accordance with the main current of Jewish tradition, from Rabbi Akiba to Menasseh ben Israel, to which the Sambation was precisely the river which rested upon the Sabbath.</page><page sequence="19">224 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. the yellow jaundice. This, and many other medicines, were discovered by them, or by revelation ; for, doubtless, we attained them not by study. . . ."24 Again, in the ninth chapter, " Observations of the Carp ; with directions how to Fish for him," Walton remarks : " The physicians make the galls and stones in the heads of the carps to be very medicinable. But 'tis not to be doubted but that in Italy they make great profit of the spawn*of carps, by selling it to the Jews, who make it into red caviare ; the Jews not being by their law admitted to eat of caviare made of the sturgeon, that being a fish that wants scales, and (as may appear in Lev. xi.) by them reputed to be unclean. . . ." 25 It is puzzling to understand how Walton, in a generation previous to the Resettlement, could have received his intense interest in the Jews and his information with regard to their actual usages. It is noteworthy that his interest was primarily in the Jews of Italy. This is perhaps the clue as to his source. Isaac Walton was a great friend of Sir Henry Wotton. He repeatedly refers to him in terms of the highest commendation: " That under-valuer of money, the late Pro? vost of Eton College, Sir Henry Wotton (a man with whom I have often fished and conversed), a man whose foreign employments in the service of his nation, and whose experience, learning, wit, and cheer? fulness, made his company to be esteemed one of the delights of man? kind." 26 He quotes some of his verses, recounts details of personal intercourse with him,27 and, when the time came, wrote his life, in his own inimitable style. It is to be noted, too, that he uses him as an authority for other Italian matters.28 Having regard for the other's proven interest in Jews and intercourse with them, it does not seem improbable that he was the channel for Walton's information. It is a whimsical chain of intercourse which seems indicated?from the unconventional red-hatted Italian Rabbi cooped up in his narrow Ghetto, through the courtly poet and diplomat, to the quiet country gentleman, and so to the English-speaking world. It must be realised that Walton's few references were not an 24 Angler, pp. 186-7. This medicinal use of lice in cases of jaundice is still popularly credited in Italy. 25 Ibid., pp. 59-60. 26 Ibid., pp. 61, 260. 27 Ibid., pp. 60, 229 . 28 Ibid., p. 212.</page><page sequence="20">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 225 isolated nor an unfruitful phenomenon. They mark a period in that friendly interest in the Jews, which from the commencement of the seventeenth century was continually growing and spreading in England and preparing the way for the Resettlement. Leone da Modena's English correspondence, and the ultimate publication of the English translation of his Riti, could not have been without influence in this direction. Had not the intellectual atmosphere been so propitious, it is doubtful whether the readmission of the Jews could have taken place as it did, and whether it would have had anything like its im? mediate success. Another intimate friend of Isaac Walton's was George Herbert, the greatest of English devotional poets, and author of the famous Temple. This work was imitated after a short interval in the less-known Synagogue ; or, the Shadow of the Temple?probably by Christopher Harvey. The title is interesting in itself as indicating that the term Synagogue had not yet been restricted to a Jewish place of worship. This, however, is not a point which need detain us. A year after the Restoration, Isaac Walton addressed a poem " To my worthy friend, the Author of the Synagogue." Its first lines may be taken as symbolic of the sympathy with which Puritan England regarded the Jews before she knew them personally?a sympathy in the formation of which Leone da Modena on the one side, Boswell, Wotton, and Walton on the other, played their part : " Sir, I loved you for your Synagogue, before I knew your person ; but now I love you more Because I find It is so true a picture of your mind." VOL. XI. Q</page><page sequence="21">226 LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. APPENDIX. rmrr (B.M., Ms. Add. 27148.) nivo n"i Tino rbw mivhwxn raicrn : (mc) Index .onf pnaVoin pnpn p^n *6 dp n-in^^ : /. 24 /?6p pm psp ni p idki nn^ ddpi Ina pimi? "pny -onm jnan ^yn jn tikvo ^ "n w ojk *d nDDn ncbw pao mnnn Dn1? p? wan ,n^i ojki nn yiv min p^ h?k"bodk ipn pn&lt;xn na &gt;n-)pn *j?d "in np? ? )ny wid dki ynDi iwr6 nirrm DPn &gt;pjke&gt; whd *6i ,m onuyi Dnon d&gt;3P ran m V'v wnafe nnyoi/inlwoto Dn1? nm:iPini nnin bin by *\x ,d*pmD pfi6 w an?? -pna ^dd W npa m Wn nayo ton ddp myb ^ an mm own j ?o D3n 7Dnf pna penn nir? 's Va'n'd rinn '?p&amp;n Dma ^y ,pPKn pp&gt;n nipna ninn d*d*d wdd n^p^n &gt;zh ,*6p npon irnn kw1? *rfo* *6 *6 -it pnp nn^nc? d^.-d1? njmiin nonnn p:jn ^"n mnn nup nniK ^nian D^ys^p nn^? ,n^n own nyniK iksoji ,nn wpon cpn n^riDiD Pom n^y ?pDir6 in* n^np PDin ,nn*d i"n onr^ tidkp onr ,owa nnvx mio n^n dwd^ pna ,vbv yyyh nr "id&amp;op ?od*? nnpnDi nty -p ^.-d vn *6pi d^&amp;op^ nny inun pn^an &gt;na*D &amp;6p Dy pi-vpn n awa im vnp w nonn ipm ,PDin PDm ^n1? *pDD pnn mv? wipn nyo -jn^yD d^d^ paon PDn rnp ny y^a nni nnooon wpn^ nn^vn w^nn pdh nn^D ^'-ip iDD owpn m n?w?^? ;nT nrb wi Dipo j?3 pxi ,Dnsun nn ^ nwo m*on *b nh)VD omn^np K^n ?nn ^ "jn^D1? n^k ni^nn dk ;mD^ nm^d ynn? n^? n^on^ wni n^i icnin ^ nn1?1?^ nniKi dik dip iw DJi ,^KDnn na D?n rnp nn^D nn&gt;n nxri ,pjni am nsip n^po ^ nwn .Dn^m D^n DHm^n vn nt toeo ?!? ^i^n d^pid</page><page sequence="22">LEONE DA MODENA AND ENGLAND. 227 d**o nm-npn iKWMfi? tdw sr\vib p? ^nbvD inw no oshx naon tikvd nora^ igww vh pan i? am ik nai?? i? n^po n^n n*n ttdh^ aais? ^ dki im mWi b nanan im nwo jm? iD*y pnpi? ik irnny i\ivh *a nwi jn* i&amp;x DipD fem jdt -im feil my *dib )n^&gt; ^ nwi m&amp;p a^n? inistA mimai nm am idik Tita* min* -imo -iBD i"s* ^y"n far tt&gt;iron ina*? &gt;nna ^nisoi mm ^nna* jDp nun nn?n n1? naoi *nmrQ &gt;D*n d*mn na wbw ni&amp;m pip ?in t&amp;pk wpTriKT norm nn:&gt;&amp;? *d orn ny nnwn m&gt;2 a*Da *dipd |na?n ^y HD imn ^dd ya*D inn pmo *d nn? ,11 nnp^ non ^ nw jud*? ."iai 'n^&gt; w^an *a?i ,n im u im? na ^</page></plain_text>