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Some Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller

M. L. Ettinghausen

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Some Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller M. L. ETTINGHAUSEN, Dr. Univ. Paris It would be a pity if you came here this evening misled by the title of this talk, thinking that you were going to listen to extracts from the memoirs of a long-dead octogenarian Jew? ish bookseller. The case is quite different; your lecturer was much flattered to be invited to talk to an historical society of your standing but unfortunately can only offer you extracts from his own memoirs. However, in order that you may not be entirely disappointed, we shall go back a long way, as far back as the year 1531, when Juda Oppenheim and his wife Edel (of the house with the sign of the Red Hart) left Heidelberg and emigrated to Frankfort-on-Main. Their descendants went back to Heidelberg in 1614, after the expulsion of the Jews from Frankfort. Later, part of the family again returned to Frankfort, where the oldest house which they owned in the ghetto was also called the Red Hart. At one time my mother still owned a share in this house, before its destruction with the rest of the ghetto. It would take much too long to recount the sixteenth-century history of the Oppenheim family, so let us jump to the year 1670, when Wolf Oppenheim of Heidelberg (married to the daughter of Aaron of Mainz) took up residence in Frankfort in July 1670. He married a second time in Frankfort and in partnership with his new brothers-in-law dealt in precious stones. This profession was carried on by the family until a few years ago, when my uncles in Paris (who had carried on the old tradition) gave up their business there. One of my favourite quotations is taken from a scene in Racine's Les Plaideurs, where a retired judge, in his old age, is induced to spend his leisure judging domestic occurrences in order to keep him out of mischief. The lawyer for the plaintiff begins his speech with 'Avant la creation du monde', when the old judge interrupts him with the words: 'Avocat, ah! passons au deluge.' Let us therefore leave the flood behind and pass on to more modern times. In 1878, my grandfather Moses Michel Oppenheimer (who was born in 1843) died; and in consequence my mother left Frankfort for Paris to keep house for her four brothers, who, like their father and ancestors, were dealers in precious stones. The firm in Paris, at 7 Rue Lepelletier, just off the Boulevard des Italiens, which bore the name Les Fils de H. Marcus Oppenheimer, was called after my great-great-grandfather Herz Marcus Oppenheimer, born in 1785. In Paris, my mother met my father, then a broker in precious stones, and the result of their marriage was the birth of your lecturer in January 1883. My first literary experience was a sad one. In May 1885 I was taken late at night to see the lying-in-state of that great French poet Victor Hugo, before the State funeral. The Arc de Triomphe, beneath which Victor Hugo's remains were placed, was surrounded by great stands bearing Greek fire. The crowd was kept afar by an outer circle of mounted Cuirassiers, from whose gleaming helmets and breastplates the brilliant flames were reflected. I was carried on my father's shoulders, and was naturally very frightened; that is why I remember that historic occasion. The only other connection with literature in Paris that I can remember was very different. My father was very keen on new inventions and machinery and he had been able to pro? cure one of the earliest showerbaths, consisting of a large tin bath, surmounted by four or five metal poles supporting a small circular cistern containing cold water, the whole contraption being surrounded by heavy, thick indiarubber curtains. I was tempted every morning to go into this horror to receive the contents of the 190</page><page sequence="2">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 191 cistern on my head and body, and, if I did not protest too much, was rewarded by being given a gaily coloured printed broadside of a fairy tale called Feuilles d'Epinal (nowadays very much sought after in France and the object of bibliographical research). I can still remember Little Red Riding Hood, Riquet a la Houpe, and one or two others of Perrault's stories for children. Before leaving Paris for England at the age of 4J, I solemnly exchanged visiting cards with my cousin Blanche Ettinghausen, whose mother was a daughter of the first Sir George Lewis,1 and who later, when she was over 80, was a victim of the Germans at Besancon. I shall never forget (one never seems to forget disagreeable things) crossing the Channel on a paddle-steamer (probably one of those still in use to convey passengers from Lisbon across the Tagus to the railway station on the left bank whence trains leave for the South of Portugal). It was a terribly rough journey for my mother and myself, though my father, who was an excellent seaman, was quite at ease, but I remember being told by my parents years afterwards that when we crossed the Channel I exclaimed: 'Non, Maman, non, je ne veux pas etre matelot.' I might add that in Paris my father was one of the founder-members of the Societe des Etudes Juives, and in England he was one of the first members of this Society. My parents had taken a house in Hove (33 Wilbury Road), from which an excellent view was available of the Hove Cricket Ground. Two streets further away, in First Avenue, Chief Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler and his wife had their residence, and my father became one of the regular attendants at his Sabbath Minyan. Mrs. Adler took a great liking to my mother and very soon we made the acquaint? ance of their children, Marcus Adler, then Actuary of the Alliance Insurance Co., Dr. Hermann Adler, the acting Chief Rabbi, and last but not least, Elkan N. Adler, who was a frequent visitor to our house, a past President of this Society, and a dear friend of mine till his end. My father was a great reader and loved to study languages in the evenings, acquiring some ten in the course of a lifetime. I remember going to a dame's school run by a Mrs. White with her two daughters, where I was promptly nicknamed 'Froggy' by my schoolmates. Soon, under the tuition of a series of gover? nesses, I began to be interested in English books, such as Chatterbox, the earliest volume of which I owned being for 1889. I was also very fond of the Bofs Own Paper and in a Brighton auction my parents were lucky enough to buy for me a complete set of this remarkable paper with its adventure and school stories by Talbot B. Reed, Jules Verne, etc. About the year 1894, my father, who was tired of travelling to and from London five times a week, decided to move to West Kensington and I was sent to Colet Court, the preparatory school for St. Paul's School. Near at hand was the Hammersmith Synagogue, where the Rev. Michael Adler (past President of this Society and contributor to its Trans? actions) was Minister and gave me my first private lessons in Hebrew. At Colet Court I remember my only school fight, with a grand? son of Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, a boy called Joseph. Once at St. Paul's, on the classical side, I started my real interest in book-collect? ing, or borrowing them from the Junior School Library. I was rather small for my age and a schoolmate of mine called Phil Clayton, also rather small, used to go home with me along the Edith Road, where, owing to our diminu? tive size, we had to suffer at the hands of some Fulham roughs. My mother and Clayton's mother put their heads together and lay in ambush for these toughs, who, after being thoroughly shaken by our respective mothers, left us in peace thereafter. Need I say that Phil Clayton is now universally known as the Rev. Tubby Clayton, founder of Toe H. In those days there was no Net Book Agree? ment and booksellers had a very thin time in competition with one another; and not wishing to be a bookseller I made up my mind to be a publisher. At the beginning of my last year at St. Paul's I was transferred from the classical side to the History eighth class, in which a small number of boys were prepared for history scholarships at Oxford or Cambridge. In that class there were Rupert Howarth, son of Sir</page><page sequence="3">192 M. L. Ettinghausen Henry Howarth (the author of the classical history of the Mongols), later to be Secretary to the Privy Council, and Compton Mackenzie, later to be well known as novelist and broad? caster. Failing to get a college scholarship, I was awarded a History Exhibition from the school, which I did not take up as my parents thought that I was still too young for the university. Instead, through my father's con? nection with J. P. Grein, the founder of the Independent Theatre and co-director with him on the Sunday Special, I was taken on by a descendant of the famous Dutch Huguenot family, Mr. Luzac, of Great Russell Street, who was both publisher and bookseller, specialising in Oriental books. After a year's cataloguing, Mr. Luzac sug? gested I should go up to Oxford to get some acquaintance with Oriental languages in order to join his firm later as junior partner. I there? fore began to take lessons in Sanskrit from Dr. Lionel Barnett, then a very young married man and assistant at the British Museum. I shall always think of him with the greatest respect and affection. Going up to Oxford in 1902, I dabbled in Sanskrit with the Boden Professor, Macdonald, in Arabic with Thatcher at Manchester College, and heard lectures on Indian law at the Indian Institute, which, since India has become independent, is now non-existent. In the meantime, through staying at the boarding-house kept by the wife of Mr. Piza, the Secretary of the Spanish community,2 I had made the acquaintance of Israel Solomons, the greatest connoisseur of Anglo-Jewish books and prints, an exquisite bibliophile, and learned contributor to the Society's Transactions. He came up to Oxford several times during my time there and was able to indulge in his favourite occupation, hunting for Anglo Jewish rarities at Blackwells, which at that time was more famous for antiquarian than for new books. For a few shillings Solomons used to be able to pick up the greatest treasures, which he afterwards had bound in full polished calf or morocco by Riviere, that excellent London binder who carried on the tradition of his French forebears. Alas, at a later date, Israel Solomons' unique collections of books, en-^ gravings, bookplates, and his remarkable card index of Anglo-Jewish genealogy all left this country for New York and Cincinnati, where they are now preserved at the Jewish Theo? logical Seminary and Hebrew Union College respectively. Today it would be impossible to make a collection of this kind, because such books, pamphlets, and engravings are no longer in this country in private hands. After Oxford, at the invitation of Professor Sylvain Levi, who was Professor of Sanskrit at the College de France, I moved to Paris to continue Sanskrit studies and to start a thesis on a very dull historical subject, the Life of a seventh-century Indian Emperor, who was, however, also a cultured author. During my stay in Paris I never omitted walking along the Quais of the Seine, where the Bouquinistes used to display their wares. In contrast to the booksellers of today, who dis? play there nothing but rubbish, it was possible in those days to pick up remarkable bargains. I still remember my delight when I picked up the first edition of Heine's Buch der Lieder for one franc, and the following week on the same stall found a much rarer first edition, namely, Goethe's Goetz von Berlichingen, for the same amount. Having the good fortune to sell them both by correspondence to a famous Frankfort Jewish bookseller, Joseph Baer,3 I added considerably to my pocket-money for that month. However, as my speciality was to be Oriental literature, I also visited the offices of the Parisian Oriental publishers and was lucky enough to find remnants of libraries which had been sold by auction 30 or 40 years before, in which important early Chinese books had often been bought in and left unsold. Later, when my interest in Orientalia diminished, I turned these over for sale to Luzacs. During my stay in Paris Mr. Luzac, who had been attacked by meningitis, died, and the business was offered to my father for a very small sum. As I had only just reached the age of 21, he did not think it wise that I should be responsible for running a business which, after so many years of labour and devotion given to it by its former owner, should only be worth so little. Accordingly, returning to London, I</page><page sequence="4">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 193 continued working at the British Museum on my thesis in the Oriental students5 reading room, where my former teacher Dr. Barnett was superintendent. During that time Herbert Loewe,4 Menasseh Grossberg,5 and the great Dr. Christian Ginsburg6 were all readers there. My parents were undecided what the next step should be and, taking the advice of Bernard Quaritch, that great bookseller, they suggested my going to one of the largest German antiquarian booksellers in Frankfort or Munich. As matters turned out, it was to Munich that I went, to Ludwig RosenthaPs Antiquariat, and here I must say something about Ludwig Rosenthal himself, from whom I learned so much. Born in 1840 in a small village near Augs? burg, Ludwig Rosenthal began by walking daily some miles to the nearest village to take Latin and other lessons from the local priest. In 1855 he began his apprenticeship as an antiquarian bookseller at Augsburg, founding his own firm at his native village of Fellheim in Bavaria in 1859. He transferred his business in 1867 to Munich and quickly rose to eminence among the world's antiquarian booksellers. His brothers Jacques and Nathan became his partners in 1874. In 1895 the brothers separ? ated and each of them established his own business in Munich. During the years of my apprenticeship to the antiquarian book-trade in Munich I made the acquaintance of the late Talmudist, Lazarus Goldschmidt,7 who had amassed a magnificent collection, probably the finest ever put together by any man with but one single object in view, of Hebrew incunabula printed before 1501. Each volume was perfect, very different from his second collection, which is now in the Copenhagen Royal Library. Even today I am not sure what the reason was for Goldschmidt's sale, whether he sold the library to buy a house in Berlin or because he wanted to get married. In any case, the details of this great collection, which was unfortunately dispersed to the four quarters of the globe, were preserved for posterity by a special catalogue, which comprised no less than 68 numbers, though some of the items included were merely specimen pages from Spanish and Portuguese printing places. The catalogue itself, which, it seems, was the first to be devoted to Hebrew incunabula, occupied 45 large quarto pages, giving reproductions of 32 specimens of Hebrew type before 1501. Among the treasures which Goldschmidt had collected were some 48 different items, or about half the then known Hebrew incunabula, printed in 16 different towns of Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Among the great rarities was a complete and beautiful copy of the first Hebrew Pentateuch, a copy bound by Gruel in Paris (now in the library of Rabbi Solomon Sassoon). It was printed in Bologna in 1482 on 219 leaves of vellum, with the Commentary of Rashi and Targum Onkelos. At the same time, first editions were offered of the Former and Latter Prophets, printed at Soncino by Joshua Soncino in 1485. Another item of the greatest interest was the Hebrew translation of that medical classic Avicenna, the five books divided into three folio volumes, printed at Naples in 1491. This was apparently the only complete and perfect copy known; as a rule, only single volumes appear of this great work. During the fifteenth century this was the only medical work in Hebrew to be printed, although at that time Jewish physicians occupied very high positions in Italy and were much appreciated. Another rarity was the magnificent Commentary on the Pentateuch of Moses Ben Nachman (Ramban), printed with magnificent type in Rome by three Roman printers, Obadiah, Menasseh, and Benjamin, probably in the year 1475. Although this is not the oldest, it is probably one of the oldest Hebrew printed books and, in my humble opinion, one of the most hand? some. Today it would be impossible to make another collection of early Hebrew books in such perfect condition. Among the customers of Rosenthal I met while in Munich, one of the most mysterious was the Rev. William H. Hechler (1845-1931), who was then Chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna and an eager collector of Luther and other Reformation tracts. As is well known, he played a great part in the early stages of Zionism, introducing Dr. Herzl to the Grand Duke of Baden and indirectly to the Emperor William II.8</page><page sequence="5">194 M. L, Ettinghausen Another customer was Baron Edmond de Rothschild, a regular buyer of the finest engravings, woodcut books, and illuminated manuscripts. I was commissioned by his son Mr. James de Rothschild, m.p., after his mother's death, to make a valuation of the manuscripts in his father's mansion in the Faubourg St. Honore. I also had the task of dividing up this superb collection among the three children of Baron Edmond. In 1913, among foreign visitors to Munich was young ex-King Manuel of Portugal on his honeymoon, who came to the city for the festival seasons of Wagner and Mozart operas. I heard of his arrival and wrote to him, quoting a few books on Portugal that were in the Rosenthal stock. He came immediately and proved to be a very amiable young man, who enjoyed speaking French, which was his mother-tongue, his mother having been the Princess Amelie d'Orleans before her marriage to Dom Carlos. On 30 June 1914 I returned to Munich from a business trip to England, where I used to visit a few important collectors who were buyers of early woodcut books and fine illuminated manuscripts. On the advice of the British Consul in Munich, I did not leave the city on rumours of war, as he promised that if war broke out all British subjects would be enabled to leave under his guidance. However, war did break out and, in spite of the Consular pro? mise, it was impossible to get away. After a few months, on the fateful 6 November 1914, all British subjects in Germany were arrested and transferred to the Ruhleben Internment Camp for British civilians near Berlin, opposite Spandau. Therefore I passed the next four years in the Jewish ghetto which the German War Office had erected within the camp. Acting as camp librarian, I was able to help in getting books from the American Y.M.C.A. in Berlin for two camp libraries, one for fiction and the other for scholarly books to enable the younger civilian prisoners to carry on with their studies. Among my friends in the camp was Geoffrey Pyke, now known as 'the Unknown Genius', who had entered Germany from Denmark while a young undergraduate as the secret corres pondent of the Daily Chronicle, and, given away by the American representative in Berlin, was arrested and confined in a cell in the Berlin prison. He was only able to save his sanity while in solitary confinement by reciting to himself Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark. We nursed him back to health when he was handed over to us in the Jewish barracks. As soon as he was well he changed his quarters to avoid reprisals on the Jewish prisoners, as he planned to escape and succeeded in getting back to England in June 1915. J. W. Bernal has called him 'one of the geniuses of his time'. He was closely associated with Lord Mount batten during the last war and sponsored such things as the 'Weasel Carrier' and 'Habbakuk'. After the war he died, unfulfilled and un? recognised by his fellow-countrymen. On returning to England after the First World War, I plunged once more, after the four years of confinement at Ruhleben, into the world of antiquarian books in London. In the years 1930-1932 the Russian Govern? ment was continuing to dispose of unwanted or duplicate artistic and literary treasures; paintings, furniture, coins, and books were being sent to the auction rooms of France, Germany, and England, very often hap? hazardly, and a suggestion was made that it would be in the interest both of the U.S.S.R. and of collectors and dealers in Europe if some sound advice could be given to the Department in Leningrad responsible for the disposal of surplus treasures. In 1933, a small deputation, of which I formed part, offered to go to Moscow with a view to reorganising the movement of such goods. The offer was accepted and the three of us, of whom I am the only living member, left for Moscow, via Poland. We travelled independently (without the services of the Russian Travel Bureau, Intourist), and agreed to meet at Berlin, where one of my companions, being late, had to jump on the through train to Russia while it was already in motion! Before leaving London I had taken some twenty lessons in Russian and wrote out the phrases which I thought would be most useful, such as 'I would like some plain-boiled potatoes', 'Please give me a cup of tea', 'Have you any plain-boiled fish?'</page><page sequence="6">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 195 Unfortunately these lessons proved of no avail when we got to Russia, as we found that the country was suffering from hunger. There were no potatoes, there was no tea, only a substitute, and there was no fish excepting sturgeon, which was, of course, trefa. I had taken the precaution of bringing with me a large number of tins of sardines, which proved of good use. We had to change trains at the Polish Russian frontier and were surprised to find a dining-car with the most elaborate wood carvings and paintings. Afterwards it turned out to be part of a private train which before the Revolution had belonged to a Russian millionaire. One of my companions was very thirsty and, seeing a decanter, poured out a full glass of what he took to be water; un? fortunately for him it turned out to be vodka? it was absolutely colourless but not painless! On arrival at Moscow we had great diffi? culty in getting from the station to the hotel where we had booked rooms. By chance we met a Jewish employee of Intourist, who offered to take us in his bus; at that time there were only about four taxis in the whole of Moscow. When we reached the hotel the manager came to see me and, speaking both French and German, asked if he could help me. He explained that previously he had been director of the St. Petersburg Opera House but, because of his knowledge of languages and of the outside world, he had been made the hotel manager. I explained my wants and at once found out that there were no boiled potatoes and no boiled fish to be had! He regretted that he was unable to supply my needs, but informed me that his mother-in-law still wore a sheitel and that he had always sent his linen to Paris every week to be laundered there! He begged me to leave him some stiff collars and some ties, which at that time were unprocurable in his city. The only goods we saw on sale in shops in Moscow or Leningrad during our stay there were French marble clocks and suits of armour. There were, how? ever, plenty of new bookshops crowded with would-be customers. All the bookshops were specialised, selling only one class of book. There were no old books for sale and people were living under very difficult conditions, as regards supplies of clothing, shoes, and food. We arrived just as the ice was breaking up on the Moskva River, late in April, and this was heralded as the beginning of spring. The countryside throughout Germany and Poland had been covered with snow to a great depth. We had some difficulty in meeting the head of the Department for Foreign Trade and, in order to use the time to the best purpose, we went to Leningrad. There we visited the Department for the Disposal of Books and found the man in charge was a Hungarian, a former Minister of Education in the short? lived and bloodstained Government of Bela Kun. He was surprised at our coming and said: 'How did you know that we had a Gutenberg Bible for sale?' We were delighted to see the book, which had just been handed over to him by the Leningrad former Imperial Library, and we sold it by cable (within a few days) to a famous Swiss collector. It was the only copy in Russia and had been a duplicate of the one in the Munich State Library. We were unable to buy any books from the Department as their stock consisted chiefly of defective copies of large folio natural history books; these were then not as easy of disposal or as valuable as they would be today. We visited the Winter Palace of course and admired the remarkable collections of Catherine the Great, bought for her in the eighteenth century in London or Paris. On a visit to the former Imperial Public Library at Leningrad we met Mr. Bloch, Keeper of the manuscripts, who was then celebrating his jubilee, after having been Keeper for 50 years. We looked at the exhibition, consisting almost entirely of manuscripts, including the last illuminated prayer-book of Mary Queen of Scots and other treasures. In a corner of the room I noticed a lectern supporting a box with a leather cover. Being of a naturally inquisitive disposition as far as books are concerned, I uncovered the box and found on it the words 'Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus'. One page of this famous manuscript was visible, but that was all. I called the attention to it of my friends, who had never heard of the manuscript before, and</page><page sequence="7">196 M. L. Ettinghausen pointed out the extraordinary interest attached to this, the earliest complete, or practically complete, manuscript of the Old and New Testaments, written on vellum in the first half of the fourth century.9 This manuscript had a long history behind it, and I will endeavour to abbreviate it in a few sentences. In May 1844 a German Biblical scholar named Tischendorf, visiting the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai for the first time, noticed in the hall of the monastery a large basket filled with very old leaves of vellum containing very early Greek writing, which the librarian informed him were to be burnt as rubbish. Among this heap of fragments Tischendorf found some 129 leaves from the Old Testament in Greek, which seemed to him the oldest he had ever seen. The monks allowed him to take away one third of the leaves, which he presented to the King of Saxony. In 1853 he revisited the monastery, but the monks could not or would not tell him anything of the manuscript. On a third visit in the year 1859, the steward of the monastery took down from a shelf over the door of his cell, which was chiefly used for the storage of spare coffee-cups, a bulky parcel which he untied, revealing not merely the rest of the leaves which Tischendorf had rescued 15 years before, but other parts of the Old Testament and the New Testament complete. Before his departure Tischendorf was unable to copy more than the Epistle of Barnabas, but was able to persuade the monks to send the manuscript to a branch Greek monastery in Cairo, where he copied it completely in the space of two months. However, it became obvious that a copy of a manuscript of this early date was insufficient for scholarly pur? poses and he suggested to the monks that they should present the manuscript to the Tsar of Russia, who was the head of the Greek Church. This was arranged and, in consideration of promotion in the Church for the head of the monastery, for a number of Russian decora? tions, and for the sum of 9,000 roubles in cash (?1,350), Tischendorf was allowed to take the manuscript himself to Russia to place it in the hands of Alexander II on 19 November 1859. It was at first deposited in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at St. Petersburg and only after many years was it transferred to the St. Petersburg Imperial Public Library, where it was on view in the Manuscript Department. The Oxford University Press published photo? graphic facsimiles of both Testaments just before the First World War. On returning to Moscow to conclude our negotiations with the Russian Department for Foreign Trade, we were at last enabled to meet the Vice-Commissar for Foreign Trade for discussions over lunch. He turned out to be a Jew who had lived for some years in the Bowery, New York, speaking English with a very strong accent. On seeing that I lunched off a tin of sardines only, he became very interested and explained to me that his previous position had been Quartermaster-General of the Red Army, with headquarters in Bokhara. He said he had been on such excellent terms with the Bokharan Jews that both the chief merchant and the Chief Rabbi of Bokhara had approached him and suggested his marrying a daughter of each of these leading personalities. On his replying that it was not legal for him to marry two wives, the Chief Rabbi impressed upon him that it was perfectly legal in Bokhara, as the dictum of Rabbi Gershom10 against polygamy did not apply to Bokhara. However, the Vice-Commissar was able to prove that he already had a perfectly genuine wife, whom he had left in Russia before coming to Bokhara. On my expressing surprise that the Chief Rabbi and the leading merchant of the city should have been anxious to marry their daughters to a Bolshevik, his reply was: 'Well, I went to synagogue every day for morning prayers.' On being questioned why, as Quarter? master-General, he went to morning prayers, he replied: 'Well, I had to say Kaddish for my mother.' We left Russia after a fortnight with? out any definite conclusion to our negotiations, but satisfied that our warning against hap? hazard sales of valuable books and antiques would be taken into consideration. On the return journey, my two friends went straight back to London, but I remained in Warsaw for the Sabbath. I found it rather dreary, though the accommodation at the leading Warsaw hotel was in fact far superior</page><page sequence="8">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 197 to that at the Hotel National in Moscow, with its ancient Russian furnishings. On Saturday night, in order to make a change, I went to a variety theatre, thinking that I would be able to understand some of the jokes in the revue then being shown, but I found that the little Russian I had learned did not enable me to understand any Polish at all. However, to my surprise, one of the sketches took place at what purported to be Flambaum's Jewish restaurant in Paris, where a visitor called for oysters and started enjoying them, in spite of the Kasher sign on the restaurant window. In the midst of his enjoyment the diner suddenly stopped, sent for the waiter, complained that he had found a hard substance in his mouth, produced it and it turned out to be a pearl. At this stage the customer became less abusive of the waiter and the restaurant manager, who had also been called, and claimed the pearl for himself. After a good deal of discussion among the three, he agreed to pay for the pearl and went off. After he had gone, without more ado the manager ordered the waiter to have another pearl placed in the next dish of oysters! At that time and for many years afterwards, although Flambaum was known to be a restaurant which also supplied Jewish food, it was not recognised by the Paris Gonsistoire as Kasher. After this serio-comic digression at Warsaw, let us return to London, where, some six months later, an emissary from Leningrad called on me and asked whether I considered the Codex Sinaiticus worth a million dollars. I replied that this early manuscript Bible was certainly worth a million dollars, but that I knew of no one having this sum at his disposal who would be willing to spend it for such a purpose. However, I assured the emissary that if the Soviet Government really wanted to sell it at a reasonable price, a buyer could be found. A few weeks later a letter arrived from Paris from a Mr. Ilyin informing me that the Russian Government was prepared to sell the manuscript through him for ?200,000. As at that time the press was full of accounts of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool which was being built, I asked my old friend Stanley Morison, the typographer, who was providing money for the building. He asked me why I wanted to know and I told him that I had an option on the Codex Sinaiticus. He asked permission to speak of it to Sir Frederick Kenyon, former Director of the British Museum and President of the Friends of the National Libraries. Next day Sir Frederick Kenyon came to inquire whether this option on the manuscript at ?200,000 was a fact. He went away reassured, saying that he would see his friends to see what could be done. The following day, he came back with instructions to make an offer for the manuscript, but the offer was only ?40,000. I protested but was urged to pass the offer on and wrote to Paris, receiving, as was only to be expected, a scath? ing reply. Sir Frederick Kenyon again asked for an opportunity to consult his friends, returning with an offer of ?50,000, which, being passed on to Paris, was again refused. But in his reply, Mr. Ilyin said he would show that a compromise was possible and reduced the price by 10%, to ?180,000. Sir Frederick returned, this time with an offer of ?60,000, which naturally was again refused. I then urged him to make the very best offer on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. To my surprise he came back with a bid of ?100,000. The next news from Paris was that Mr. Ilyin's wife was very anxious to visit England and that both he and Mrs. Ilyin had been refused visas by the British Passport Office in Paris. He intimated that if he and his wife could come to England, it might be easier to conclude the matter. I thereupon rang up my old friend (now Sir) John Balfour (nephew of Lord Balfour), who had been a fellow-prisoner with me in Ruhleben Camp, informing him of the situation. He immediately telephoned to Paris, visas were secured for Mr. and Mrs. Ilyin, and I had the pleasure of letting Sir Frederick Kenyon face Mr. Ilyin, thus bringing the matter to a successful conclusion. It was not long before the London evening papers were able to print posters which read 'The Codex arrives in London' and, indeed, the Codex reached its home in the British Museum on 27 December 1933. However, there were then more than a million un? employed in this country and there was an</page><page sequence="9">198 M. L. Ettinghausen angry feeling among many that so much money should be paid out to Russia. Hundreds of letters reached the Museum and the press complaining about the purchase. One came from a workman in the photographic trade, who wrote that he could not see why, when such good cameras were being manufactured in England, it was necessary to spend so much on a Russian Kodak! Another letter, which was received by the Museum, was from two old ladies in the country who warned the Keeper of Manuscripts to be very, very careful when he translated the Codex because they suspected that the Russians had crossed out all the nots in the Ten Commandments. It might be added here that the friends whom Sir Frederick Kenyon consulted about the purchase were two?namely, the then Premier, Ramsay Macdonald, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the whole the Press was very favourable to the purchase and so popular were visits to the Museum to see the Codex that the Central London Railway had special posters printed depicting a leaf of the Codex with words indicating that the nearest stations for visits were the British Museum and Tottenham Court Road. In one year the late Mr. Joshua Podro's newspaper cuttings agency was able to provide us with over 5,000 clippings from newspapers all over the world about the Codex. And all this was the result of a very feeble pleasantry I uttered when we lunched with the Vice Commissar of Foreign Trade in Moscow! When he asked me what we had seen and done in Russia, I told him that we had been to Leningrad, visited the wonderful museums, and said by the way: 'If you ever need any money, just get some brown paper and string and a label and pack up the Codex Sinaiticus and send it to me to London.' He had no idea what the Codex was till I explained to him that it was the earliest manuscript of the Bible. Soon after my return to London in January 1919, I wrote to King Manuel, who by then had settled down in his own Portuguese-style house at Twickenham. He came to see me and confided his secret project of writing an authoritative monograph on his namesake the famous King Manuel the Fortunate, in whose reign at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century Portugal had been at the height of her glory in empire, literature, and art. In order to write this work it was necessary for him to get the important source material and the king decided to try to obtain every book printed in Portugal before 1600, so as to give a complete picture of Portugal from every aspect. As he himself was unable to visit his native land, this entailed frequent visits on my part on his behalf to Portugal and Spain. From 1919 to 1932 I spent much time in searching for the necessary material for the king. Owing to the break-up of some famous libraries, it was possible to obtain books, for the collection at Twickenham, which had not been seen on the book market for 50 or 100 years. In this way the king was so fortunate in his purchases that, after some years had elapsed, I suggested to him that he should publish a Short-Title Catalogue of his collec? tion. In November 1925 he began to work on a catalogue and decided to publish it in November 1926. However, instead of publishing a dry Short-Title Catalogue or bibliography, he used this opportunity to display the past glories of Portugal by describing each book not only bibliographically but by adding to its descrip? tion an essay on the author and the subject of the book in its relation to Portuguese history, science, or literature and its contribu? tion to European civilisation. During my absences from England or when King Manuel was away at Vichy for his yearly cure, he wrote to me regularly about his catalogue and the rare books which he wished to find. Some hundred or more of these letters, published in 1957 by the owners of the copyright, Fundac?o da Casa de Braganza in Lisbon, and edited with a preface by Professor Moses B. Amzalak,11 Rector of the Technical University of Lisbon, form a volume of some 91 quarto pages and show the great interest that King Manuel took in the slightest details connected with his work. King Manuel used to write, first of all in Portuguese, an essay on each book separately and would bring it to me to be typed and for criticism. Although I examined each essay as critically as possible, I could find nothing wrong with them and some of the ideas sug</page><page sequence="10">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 199 gested for the first time by the king were even adopted at a later date by Portuguese biblio? graphers. In the case of the first two books in King Manuel's catalogue, which were Hebrew incunables printed in Lisbon in 1489, the king's work was submitted to Elkan N. Adler, certainly the leading expert, and not only could he find nothing wrong, but he accepted several original suggestions which King Manuel made about the printing of Hebrew books in Portugal. In Volume I of King Manuel's book entitled Early Portuguese Books 1489-1600 (published in 1929), the king wrote a very important introduction which occupied 20 pages. In this scholarly introduction, besides references to the learned Jews of Portugal, he devoted three whole pages to the expulsion of the Jews by King Manuel I. King Manuel deplored the autos-da-fe. Queen Amelie, who loved her only surviving son most dearly, once gave him as a birthday present the excessively rare first edition in Gothic type, printed at Ferrara by Abr. Usque in 1553, of Samuel Usque's Consolagam das Tribulagoens de Israel. In his essay of 76 pages on this book, which was the longest King Manuel wrote on any of his treasures, he gave the fullest possible explana? tion of the expulsion of the Jews and of the reasons of State which forced King Manuel I to decree this cruel act. At the end of his essay King Manuel wrote as follows: 'The expulsion of the Jews was no doubt a necessity imposed upon Dom Manuel by reasons of State; the forced conversion was a Machiavellian measure worthy of Dom Jo?o II and which we cannot approve, though its aim may explain and excuse it. Most writers have represented Dom Manuel as the executioner of the people of Israel in Portugal . . . but the Hebrew chroniclers have called him the Pious King, while in certain families he was known as El Rey Judeo. This appellation was probably known to Gil Vicente in 1532 when his Auto da Lusitania was presented before Dom Jo?o III, for there the Jew Jacob says, with reference to Dom Manuel, "And we have already a King here more holy than King David". 'In 1923, when we had already begun to O study the reign of the Fortunate King, we asked the Portugeesch-Israelietische Gemeente of Amsterdam for information about Dom Manuel's attitude towards the Jews. A letter in our possession from the Secretary of the Amsterdam Community to the Secretary of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of London ?to both of whom we offer our grateful thanks?states that there is nothing on the subject in the Amsterdam archives, which is not surprising, since the Portuguese Jews did not reach the city until 1593, that is, more than seventy years after Dom Manuel's death. We learn, however, that the Jews who went to Amsterdam retained a grateful memory of the king who had done so much for their welfare. It is therefore clear that the aversion of certain writers for Dom Manuel is in no way due to any ill feeling on the part of the Portuguese Jews.' King Manuel?recalling the assassination of his father and older brother in Lisbon in 1908 ?ended his essay with the following paragraph: 'Four centuries had passed since the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal and their forced conversion. An infamous crime, which covered the nation with shame, brought another Dom Manuel, Duke of Beja, to the throne of Por? tugal. 'In his hour of sorrow he received a moving and vehement letter, couched in ancient Portuguese, from the Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam, protesting against the dastardly attack: this message from the descendants of those who had so greatly suffered was indeed a consolation for a bleeding heart, and he who received it will never forget it.' * * * I have never had any reason to regret having chosen to be an antiquarian bookseller rather than a publisher. It has brought me into contact with so many interesting people and so many interesting and lasting friendships. In no other profession would it have been possible for a simple commoner to have made a friend of a king and to have been on such friendly terms with queens, princes, princesses, dukes, French, Spanish, and Portuguese ambassadors, billionaires and men of letters. I could have told you about the family</page><page sequence="11">200 M. L. Ettinghausen relationship with Henri Bergson and Marcel Proust; of long visits in Spanish castles, where I was presented with an eighteenth-century Besamim box with four clock faces to show the times of the exit of Sabbath on four successive weeks; of meeting, on my first afternoon in Lisbon in 1919, with Joshua Benoliel, the Court photographer to King Carlos and the first press photographer in Portugal, who once stopped the royal Corpus Christi procession with his loudly uttered 'Halt!' in order to get a satisfactory photograph for his magazine; of a visit to King Alfonso of Spain's private library; of the purchase of the Christopher Columbus archives from the Duke of Veragua, a direct descendant of the great navigator, who, during the Spanish Civil War, was killed and left by the roadside. This purchase was invalidated by the sudden rise to power of General Primo de Rivera, whose new Council of State did not confirm the sale. But if I were to have done so I am afraid that, as happened some hundreds of years ago at B'nei B'rak,12 someone would come and say to us, 'Behold, the time has arrived for saying the morning Sterna?! \* This paper was delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 13 March 1963. It has been extended and published in book form in the U.S.A. under the title of Rare Books and Royal Collectors (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1966). NOTES 1 Sir George Henry Lewis, the first baronet, was created a baronet 1902 after being knighted in 1893. He was born in 1833, educated at University College, London. Solicitor, 1856; senior member of Lewis &amp; Lewis, solicitors, Holborn. He died 7 December 1911. 2 Judah Piza was a descendant of Rabbi Judah Piza, a member of the Academy Etz Hayim at Amsterdam, the author of Zi?ne Yehudah Dinim de Sehita e Bedica in Portuguese (Amsterdam, 1740), a Hebrew and Portuguese Calendar (Amsterdam, 1769), and a sermon in Portuguese preached on 9 Elul, 1755, entitled 'Serrnao Moral'. Mr. Piza was the son of the well-known Hazan Piza, of Bevis Marks, and became Secretary of the Board of Guardians and of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation. Mrs. Piza, wife of Judah Piza, kept an Orthodox boarding-house in Sutherland Avenue, Maida Vale, London. She was a sister of the Misses Twyman, who also kept a famous Jewish boarding-house at Bournemouth. The Misses Twyman originally came from Ramsgate, where their father, John Crowe Twyman, was a famous professional photo? grapher who converted to Judaism. Among the guests at Piza's boarding-house, still remembered by Mrs. Rosetta Mitrani, Mrs. Piza's eldest daughter, were Israel Solomons and Nahum Sokolow, the Zionist leader and author of the best-known History of Z^omsm- There was also a Brazilian, who came to London with his grand? daughter to consult the late Haham Dr. Moses Gaster on a halakhic question. His parents were childless for many years and they vowed that if they were granted a son to carry on the family name they would make him a Nazarite, and not cut his hair. In consequence of this the old gentle? man had his hair in long plaits coiled round his head and therefore had to be accompanied by his granddaughter, who attended to the dressing of his hair. Mrs. Mitrani was told that Dr. Gaster gave the decision that, as the Brazilian had lived for some eighty-odd years with his hair in plaits, he should continue as before and not have it cut. Mrs. Piza's three children are still with us. 3 See Jewish Encyclopedia (Funk &amp; Wagnall, 1902), Vol. II, p. 430, Baer, Joseph. 4 Herbert Martin James Loewe (1882-1940), grandson of Dr. Louis Loewe (see Dictionary of National Biography; Jewish Encyclopedia), Hon. Fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge, and successor of his teacher Israel Abrahams in the Readership in Rabbinics, devoted his life to Hebrew scholarship in the two older English universities, where his powers of exposition of the teachings of Rabbinic Judaism won the acclaim of the leading figures in contemporary oriental and theological studies. His best-known book, written in collaboration with C. G. Montefiore, was A Rabbinic Anthology (1936). He is also to be remembered for the influence of his personality, and his traditional (yet non-funda? mentalist) devotion to Jewish observance, on Jewish undergraduates in Oxford and Cambridge over four decades. 5 Menasseh Grossberg, student and editor of Hebrew books, lived for some time in Germany. He came to London and was a daily visitor to the Oriental Students' Room at the British Museum. He occasionally functioned as a marriage-broker. His earliest publication was in 1888, and this was followed by at least ten other Hebrew works, the last of these (in the Bodleian Library) being dated 1910. Among them are Responsa (Berlin, 1896), Maimonides, Sefer Rephuoth (London, 1900), Mai monides, Selection of Halakoth (London, 1900). 6 Christian David Ginsburg, ll.d., j.p. for Middlesex, was born 25 December 1831, died 1914. He was one of the original members appointed by</page><page sequence="12">Extracts from the Memoirs of an Octogenarian Jewish Bookseller 201 Convocation for the Revision of the English version of the Old Testament. He published The Massorah in four volumes; Critical and Historical Com? mentaries on the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, 1857; The Kabbalah, 1865; The Massoreth-Ha-Massoreth of Elias Levita in Hebrew, with translation and com? mentary, 1867; Jacob ben Chayim's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English, with notes, 1867; The Moabite Stone, 1870; Translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, conjointly with the late Rev. J. E. Salkinson; Critical Text of the Hebrew Bible, 1894; new edition 1911; Introduc? tion to the Massoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, 1897; series of Facsimiles of Hebrew manuscripts of the O.T., 1897-1898; Relation of Codex Babylonicus to the Present Recension of the Massoretic Text of the Bible, 1899; the Hamburg Stadt-bibliothek Codex No. 1, 1903; Pentateuchus Diligenter revisus juxta Massorah, 1908; Isias, 1909, etc.; and numerous articles in Kitto's Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography and Antiquities, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. 7 Lazarus Goldschmidt was born in 1871 in Plungiany (Lithuania), visited the Yeshiba of Slobodka, near Kovno, studied Oriental languages in Berlin and Strasbourg. At first he devoted him? self to Ethiopic studies but became famous through his edition and translation into German of the Talmud. This was the first translation made by a single person and without monetary help. He revised Jacob Levy's dictionary of the Talmudim in 1924. He came to England as a refugee owing to the Nazi persecution and died in England in 1950. Goldschmidt had been collecting Hebrew Incuna? bula for years and succeeded in obtaining some 48 different items of the then known Hebrew Incunabula printed before 1501 in 16 different towns of Spain and Italy. He had been lucky enough to obtain books printed in 13 of the 16 known printing towns. Goldschmidt had his books bound by the best binders, such as Gruel of Paris and Zaehnsdorf of London. 8 Facsimile reproductions of some of Hechler's letters to the Grand Duke of Baden were published by Hermann &amp; Bessi Ellern, Tel Aviv, 1961. 9 For a short history and description of the manuscript, see The Mount Sinai Manuscript of the Bible, published for the Trustees of the British Museum, 1934. 10 Rabbi Gershom ben Judah, born about the year 960, lived in the year 1013 in Mayence and died in 1028 or 1040. He was the leading Jewish scholar of his period in Europe and forbade polygamy, at first only for the three communities of Speyer, Worms, and Mayence. This ban on polygamy was later extended to the whole of Europe but was not applied to the East. 11 Professor Moses Bensabat Amzalak was born 4 October 1892, and after studying economics and finance at the University of Lisbon was appointed Professor of the Higher Institute of Economics and Financial Sciences in 1931, becoming a Vice Rector of the Technical University of Lisbon in 1931, and Director of the Higher Institute of Economics and Financial Sciences in 1933. Appointed Vice-Rector of the Technical University again in 1944, he became its Rector in 1956, resigning when he reached the age limit in 1963. He has taken part in many negotiations with other countries for commercial treaties and has gone on many missions for the Portuguese Government. He is a member of the Corporative Upper House. He has lectured in many universities outside Portugal such as Strasbourg, Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Poitiers, Lyons, Oxford, London, Jerusalem; and Madrid, and gave a series of lectures in the Aeade* mie de Droit International of The Hague in 1951. He is President of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences. He has some eighteen honorary doctorates, in? cluding Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyons, Toulouse, Paris, Poitiers, etc. He has innumerable decorations, including some from Spain, Poland, Norway, Holland. He is a C.B.E. and Commander of the Legion of Honour. He has published some 250 books and pamphlets, the first in 1911, and is at present undertaking research into the economics of the Bible. 12 Early in the first part of the Passover Hagada, just after the celebrant at the Seder Service begins to explain to the assembled company the answers to the Four Questions asked by the 'youngest present', occurs the following paragraph (variously translated according to the edition of the Hagada used): Tt once came to pass that Ribbi Eliezer, Ribbi Joshua, Ribbi Eleazar the son of Azariah, Ribbi Akiba, Ribbi Tarfon, gathered at a Passover meal in Benei Berak, continued discussing the departure from Egypt all through the night, till their disciples came and said, "Rabbis! the time has arrived for reading the morning Shema".1</page></plain_text>

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