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The Stirrings of the 1590s and the Return of the Jews to England

Theodore K. Rabb

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Stirrings of the 1590s and the Return of the Jews to England* Professor THEODORE K. RABB, M.A.,Ph.D. Anyone who stands in this place to talk about Anglo Jewish history in the years around 1600 cannot help but be acutely conscious of the awesome tradition into which he has dared to encroach. Nearly twenty times in the past three-quarters of a century, the Presidency of this Society has been occupied not only by masters but by the very creators of this metier, in whose shadow a new venture into the field 'can but peep to what it would'. Shakespeare, of course, had treason in mind when he wrote of such peeping, but I feel not far distant from that accusation as I trample the ground that has been made to flower so remarkably by the Presidents of whom I just spoke. Those nearly twenty offices were held by only two men, Lucien Wolf and Cecil Roth, but even a quick glance at their writings will convince the reader that, as with Shakespeare, it is hard to believe that such learning and insight was not the work of 20 men. Everyone who follows where they prepared the way will find himself deep in their debt at every turn. I thus come to my subject chas? tened by awareness of the traditions of this forum, the extraordinary heritage of Wolf and Roth, and the fact that it was here, eight years ago, that my father gave his last public talk, just a few months before he died. Anglo-Jewish history in this period is naturally dominated by premonitions of the readmission of 1656. Most of the studies of the era?whether of Dr. Lopez, of marranos and their contacts, of philosemi tism, or of the composition of Cromwell's Council of State?ultimately point towards that decisive event, and in one way or another serve as foretaste or explanation of a seminal moment in both English and Jewish history. What I would like to concentrate on is one essential part of that story : the beginnings of the momentous change in attitude that transformed the virulence of those who applauded The Jew of Malta and The Merchant of Venice into the benign openness of England's leaders under Cromwell. For we should not mistake the magnitude of that transformation?a shift in what the French call menta lites that was as striking as any to be found in historical literature. One has but to recall the bitterness of the 1590s, the decade of chief popularity of Marlowe's and Shakespeare's plays, with their portrayal of the Jew as the incarnation of evil, the antithesis in every measure * Paper delivered to the Society on 12 May 1976. of true Christian virtue, to realise how total was the reversal that, just 60 years later, permitted actual Jews to live amidst Englishmen. Reorderings of outlook on this scale come but rarely in history?the Christian acceptance of the hated Turk in the nineteenth cen? tury, the Franco-German reconciliation in our life? time, are two of but few examples?and one cannot explain fully how such fundamental reorientations occur. The progression is too complex, too reliant on the imponderables of human nature, to permit a neat and complete listing of causes. Some of the basic elements of our particular story have been superbly elaborated by the historians who have spoken before this Society in the past three-quarters of a century, and all I can hope to add to their discoveries is a long footnote. But it is a footnote that takes us to the very beginning, the very first hint, of a crack in the tradi? tional hatred of Jewry. The crucial decade, in my view, was the very 1590s that witnessed the execution of Dr. Lopez, the popu? larity of The Jew of Malta, and the composition of The Merchant of Venice?in sum, perhaps the most strident antisemitism England had seen since the days of the expulsion under Edward I. The juxtaposition of the dawning of reconciliation with this nightmare of hatred may be ironic, but it is by no means uncommon in human affairs; the oft-noticed swing towards balanced moderation that follows fits of extremism brings joy to those who uphold pendulum theories of history. Where England in the 1590s is concerned, however, it is probably sufficient to recognise that ironies and contradictions are part of mankind's nature, and to reiterate the ancient truism that often at the moment of deepest despair the first signs of hope appear. Whence did that hope come? In the first instance, as has long been established, from the influence of the new interest in Hebrew and the Old Testament that was born during the Reformation. Already in the 1540s there was a competent Hebraist occupying a Chair at Cambridge. By the 1590s?our crucial dec? ade?the 'first serious contribution to Jewish scholar? ship to see the light in this country' could be pub? lished.1 Yet two reservations cast doubt on the wider significance of this revival. First, Hebraic learning was by no means an indication of amiability towards Jews. For every Johannes Reuchlin there were dozens of 26</page><page sequence="2">The 1590s and the Return of the Jews to England 27 Sebastian M?nsters and Joseph Scaliger s?great scho? lars who used their learning to denounce the children of Israel. Second, the English Hebraists were hardly men of influence. They occupied exotic positions at Oxford and Cambridge, teaching a language that was considered merely a nice ornament of learning, like Classical Greek today?or should I say 50 years ago. They had minor contact with the powerful, such as Archbishop Cranmer, but no central place in English society. That position changed dramatically in the 1590s, when knowledge of, and admiration for, the Jews found its way?briefly, it is true, but inescapably nonetheless?into the magnum opus of the chief theor? ist of Anglicanism, Richard Hooker. Hooker is not mentioned in Roth's definitive History of the Jews in England, yet I believe he deserves a place of honour? not so much for the power of his views, which were often ambiguous, and certainly limited, but because he represented England's Establishment. By lending his imprimatur to Jewish customs and beliefs, he did more to alter the consciousness of the people who ruled the land than had a dozen Professors of Hebrew or minor theologians. He himself knew Hebrew; he lectured on it at Oxford; and there are Hebrew words in the text of his book. But far more important than these accom? plishments was the attitude that he conveyed. We must remember, at the outset, why Hooker published the bulk of his great work, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie, in the mid-1590s.2 The Anglican Church was under fierce attack from Puritans, who accused it of retaining Popish festivals, customs, and institutions. The Puritans wanted all such 'supersti? tions' and Catholic remnants swept away, leaving a Church of pristine simplicity, unencumbered by Roman traditions and ceremonies. Hooker's answer was an elaborate justification of all the features of Anglicanism to which the Puritans objected, and as part of the defence he cited supporting evidence from Jewish practices precisely because he knew that Puri? tan biblicism put special weight on the Old Testament and 'the people of the Book'. Hooker's elevation of Jews into the role of allies of Anglicanism had obvious far-reaching implications. If I have time only for a few examples, they should be sufficient to demonstrate his commitments: On the adherence to Church law that is necessary so as to endow certain foods with religious meaning: 'Of certain kinds of food thejews sometimes had, and we ourselves likewise have a mystical, religious, and supernatural use, they of their Paschal lamb and obla? tions, we of our bread and wine in the Eucharist.' On the notion that reading the Bible alone, even without preaching, is a sufficient education: 'The Jews have always had their weekly readings of the law of Moses; but that they always had in like manner their weekly sermons upon some part of the law of Moses we nowhere find'?a perception that some might wish to revive today. In response to the assertion that worship should be spontaneous, rather than written down as 'common' prayer, Hooker's argument was more elaborate. If the assertion is true, he wrote, then 'surely we cannot excuse Moses, who gave such occasion of scandal to the world, by not being content to praise the name of Almighty God according to the usual naked simplicity of God's spirit for that admirable victory given them against Pharaoh, unless so dangerous a precedent were left ... for the framing of prayers which might be repeated often, although they never had again the same occasions which brought them forth at the first. For that very hymn of Moses grew afterwards to be a part of the ordinary Jewish liturgy: not only that, but sundry other since invented. Their books of common prayer contained partly hymns taken out of the holy scripture, partly benedictions, thanksgivings, suppli? cations penned by such as have been from time to time the governors of that synagogue. These they sorted into their several times and places, some to begin the service of God with, and some to end,. . . and some to be interlaced between the divine readings of the Law and Prophets . . . [while also] finishing the Passover with certain Psalms... As the Jews had their songs of Moses and David and the rest, so [has] the church of Christ.' Hooker noted, too, that the custom of confirmation went back to Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh; and, when he was defending the use of the wedding ring, he emphasised that analogous customs were honoured by the Jews: 'What rite and custom is there so harmless wherein the wit of man bending itself to derision may not easily find out somew7hat to scorn and jest at? He that should have beheld the Jews when they stood with a four cornered garment spread over the head of espoused couples while their espousals were in the making, he that should have beheld their praying over a cup and their delivering the same at the marriage feast with set forms of benediction might being lewdly affected take thereat as just occa? sion of scornful cavill as at the use of the ring in wedlock among Christians.' Similarly, priests could be justified by reference to the Levites, and tithes by mention of contributions to the Temple. As for the holding and creation of festivals, their necessity 'nature hath taught the heathens, and God the Jews, and Christ us'. Moreover, 'besides the</page><page sequence="3">28 Theodore K. Rabb times which God himself in the law of Moses particu? larly specifies', thejews have added others, 'as namely that which Mardocheus [Mordechai] and Ester did first celebrate in memory of the Lord's most wonder? ful protection, when Haman had laid his enviable plot . . . for the utter extirpation of the Jews even in one day. This they call the feast of Lots because Haman had cast their life and their death as it were upon the hazard of a lot.' Beyond using Jewish customs to help his own case, Hooker found plenty to admire in thejews' practices. Even though he deplored their refusal to recognise Christ, he thought their traditions and history gave Christians much to emulate. He applauded their repeated thanksgivings and recollections of God's mercy; their attachment to fasting; their bringing of synagogues to every congregation; and their very survival, because it was for the best of reasons, the fortitude that comes from God: 'For proof whereof, let but the acts of the ancient Jews be indifferently weighed; from whose magnanimity, in causes of most extreme hazard, those strange and unwonted resolu? tions have grown, which for all circumstances no people under the roof of heaven did ever hitherto match. And that which did always animate them was their mere religion'. Unlike many commentators on Jewry, Hooker hoped for its people's salvation: he wanted nothing said 'whereby the salvation of Jew or Grecian or any in the Church of Christ may be let or hindered'. He urged Christians to learn the best lessons from the Jews, and to work with them rather than against them.3 Not only were these remarks virtually unprece? dented and indeed staggering in their implications for a society accustomed to Barabas and Shylock as per? sonifications of Jews, but they were also neither ob? scure nor unnoticed. The Ecclesiastical Politie was the theological rock on which the seventeenth-century Church of England was built. Its author, a friend of the greatest men in society, a Master of the Middle Tem? ple, and a teacher or inspiration of leaders in both Church and government for over a generation, was at the centre of that circle which formulated and shaped the ideas and attitudes by which the nation lived. Testimony of this kind from Hooker was no passing oddity on the fringe of intellectual life; it was a state? ment of orthodoxy, and hence the first major step in a mental revolution that engulfed not just a few rare spirits but the Establishment itself. For all his importance, however, we must remember that Hooker was still speaking as an arm? chair philosopher. I do not wish to minimise the contribution made by such abstract philosemitic argu merits in changing English attitudes towards the Jews. Yet one must recall that Hooker's impact was re? stricted to those with a taste for theological argu? ment?a large enough immediate constituency, and an even larger indirect one, but certainly not one that reached throughout the political nation. For that effect I think we must look elsewhere, to the second of the two influences I mentioned at the outset, of which philosemitism was but the first. This second influence brings us to books written by men of affairs, and, given the nature of English life in the seventeenth century, I have to say that their word was likely to carry more weight even than Hooker's. It is not always easy to distinguish between the two influences, and I would not wish to make exclusive claims for either set of writings, but the literature based on personal contact with Jews clearly had a special relevance for those who made policy and who worried about practical matters. When more chari? table feelings about the Jews penetrated this coterie, then, in my view, the success of the mental revolution was assured. Once again we must turn to the 1590s, the decade not only of Lopez, of Barabas, of Shylock, and of Hooker, but also of another remarkable figure, Edwin Sandys. Sandys was about as close to the heart of England's Establishment as it was possible to come. His father was Archbishop of York; his best friend was George Cranmer, the grandnephew of another Arch? bishop; the knights and peers of England were his associates; and by the mid-1590s, when he was in his mid-30s, he had studied at both Oxford and the Mid? dle Temple, and had sat in two Parliaments. Now, well placed with both Whitgift, the current Arch? bishop of Canterbury, and Lord Burghley, who was England's Prime Minister in all but name, he was sent to Germany to accompany an embassy headed by the Earl of Lincoln. This was in 1596, and for the next three years he wandered through Europe with Cranmer on an early version of the Grand Tour, studying for a while in Geneva, sending back reports on local affairs to Cecil, Burghley's son and successor, and visiting the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France. Thus far we would have little enough to remark upon, had Sandys not also been Hooker's star pupil and the man who financed the publication of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Politic The connection immedi? ately raises the possibility that this was the avenue whereby Hooker's thought entered the realm of prac? tical affairs. For Sandys was to be deeply involved in Jacobean politics and commerce. After returning to England in 1599, he became an agent for Cecil, a knight in 1603, an M.P. in every Parliament from</page><page sequence="4">The 1590s and the Return of thejews to England 29 1604 to 1626, the dominant 'opposition' figure in the House of Commons throughout these years of unpre? cedented constitutional advance, and a prominent member of the business community as a director of the East India Company and head of the Virginia Com? pany. Yet he still found the time to live up to his inheritance from Hooker, because at the end of his European travels in 1599?within our crucial decade, you will note?he sat down to write a memoir of his journey: not the usual travelogue, but A Relation of the State of Religion in the Western Parts of the World. The heritage of Hooker was certainly visible in this book, but the aims and the achievement were entirely new.4 Sandys's purpose was to describe in actual practice the various religions, notably Catholicism, that he had encountered on the Continent. This was unusual enough at the time, but the book was further, and more remarkably, distinguished by the moderate tone that Sir Edwin adopted. Of course, there was much that he objected to as a good Protestant; but he also found much that was admirable in Roman beliefs and practices, and he did not hesitate to say so. It was the work of a pragmatist, trying to see both sides, and hoping for a reunification of Christendom, but reluc? tantly forced to admit that such hopes were vain. And the same down-to-earth attitude permeated his com? ments on the Jews, to whom he devoted 11 out of his 246 pages. The genre of travel literature to which Sandys's book made a pioneering contribution was decidedly different from the abstract philosemitism of a Hooker, and yet it had a similar result: a new understanding and acceptance ofjews. If this effect was achieved by direct observation rather than by study of the Old Testa? ment, the consequences were no less far-reaching. And once again the 1590s witnessed the first stirrings. The earliest travel record to describe an encounter with Jews by an Elizabethan Englishman was admittedly written in 1581, but it was not published until 1599, when it formed a tiny and easily unnoticed fragment of Richard Hakluyt's magisterial Principal Navigations Voyages Traffiques &amp; Discoveries of the English Nation. Yet credit must be given where it is due. The author of this account, Laurence Aldersey, was a redoubtable London merchant, and one of the founders of the powerful Levant Company. A solidly committed Protestant, he was also a man of practical good sense who set down 12 pages of observations on a journey from Venice to Jerusalem and back again so as to help others who might follow him. Once in Venice, his curiosity about the ghetto, of which he had heard so much, got the better of him, and so, 'for my further knowledge of these people, I went into their synagogue upon a Saturday, which is their Sabbath day; and I found them in their service . . . very devout; they receive the five books of Moses, and honour them by carrying them about their Church'. He de? scribed the Tallith, and noted that 'the Psalms they sing as we do, having no image, nor using any manner of idolatry'. In effect, Aldersey was treating thejews as superior to the detested Catholics, and more like Pro? testants in their observances. Their only 'error', in his view, was their rejection of Christ and the New Testa? ment. Thus, even though Aldersey's opinions were not prominent in the literature of the time, they did mark the beginning of a common-sense approach towards Jewry that was destined, as it multiplied, to transform caricatures like Barabas into believable and acceptable human beings.5 A large advance in that direction was made by the next participant in this tradition, Sandys, who wrote his book in the very year that Aldersey's was pub? lished. This was a major treatment of the subject, set in an extensive study, and hence a much fuller source of information. Moreover, Sir Edwin began his account not with simple descriptions but by explaining the situation of thejews in economic terms?an interpre? tation that he may well have picked up in Germany, because it had been cited in Hesse earlier in the cen? tury, but now invoked for the first time in English. Jews are used, he wrote, 'as the Friars, to suck from the meaner, and to be sucked by the greater; in so much that the Pope, besides their certain tribute, doth some? times as is said impose on them a subsidy of ten thousand Crowns extraordinary'. In other words, the Jews were forced into their peculiar position in society because they served the economic purposes of Popes and governments, who could milk their subjects indir? ectly via Jews, and thus avoid the opprobrium of heavy taxation.6 It has been suggested that persecution of Jews was closely akin to persecution of witches in early modern Europe?precipitated by hatred of outsiders, and fed by stereotypes and the blatant vulnerability of the victims.7 If this was so, then the decline of the witch craze, which has been much studied in recent years, may also offer parallels to the lessening of hostility towards Jews. And it turns out that the recognition of the importance of economic interests was one of the earliest developments promoting a more rational un? derstanding of witchcraft. Here, for example, is how an eye-witness described the forces that animated and then ended an outburst of witch hysteria in the city of Trier in the late sixteenth century: 'Notaries, copyists, and innkeepers grew rich. The executioner . . . went clad in gold and silver; his wife vied with noble dames in the richness of her array . . . Goods were confiscated . . . Many were the reasons for doubting that all were</page><page sequence="5">30 Theodore K. Rabb really guilty. At last, . . . the people grew impover? ished, rules were made and enforced restricting the fees and costs of examinations . . ., and suddenly, as when in war funds fail, the zeal of the persecutors died out.'8 The realisation that material considerations were at work was a significant turning-point in the abatement of witchcraft persecution, and I have no doubt that Sandys's similar perception about the humiliation of thejews had a similar import. Rationa? lity was pushing its way into an area blinded by passion. Not that Sandys broke with the past completely. He continued to see the Jews, as one might expect, as an 'example of God's just severity', and he deplored their obstinacy, their financial wiles, and some of their strange opinions.9 But he was determined to find out about their beliefs and practices in detail, and to pre? sent them as soberly and fairly as he could. That he visited Italian synagogues there can be no doubt; moreover, he was once 'half threatened for no other fault than for debating with a Jew and upholding the truth of Christianity'.10 In this activity he may have been the initiator of a practice that became standard for subsequent English travellers. The most famous example occurred over ten years later, when Thomas Coryate elaborated on Sandys's slightly worrisome experience by claiming that some 50 Venetian Jews became so enraged at his success in debate with a Rabbi?perhaps Leone da Modena himself?that they chased him until he leaped into a passing gondola that just happened to be occupied by the English ambassa? dor.11 Sandys permitted himself no such hyperbole. His research was methodical, and his conclusions straightforward. The Jews' religion, he wrote, 'though somewhat strange to our conceits', because it combined Biblical precepts 'with certain capricious fancies and fables of the Rabbis', is 'yet so handsomely pieced and glued together, that one part seems to hang to the other not absurdly'. If that sounds like a backhanded compli? ment, better was to come. They defend their ideas well, he admitted, 'out of the Bible itself; wherein they are the skilfullest men, I believe, in the world'?a major admission for a biblically committed Protes? tant, and attributed by Sandys to the fact that the education of Jewish children started at the age of three and never ceased throughout their lives. 'Touching God and his nature', he continued, 'their opinions are for the most very honourable and holy', with the exception that they deny the Trinity. 'Touching the nature and condition of man [their beliefs are] very exquisite and for the most part drawing near unto truth'. Sandys was particularly impressed by the Jews' moral code, especially their strictness with blas? phemers and adulterers, and their emphasis on mar? riage and the community. He approved of a good part of their interpretation of the day of judgment, and applauded their strict adherence to fasts and festivals. Of particular interest to him was their concept of a Natural Law that could lead all men to eternal bliss regardless of their religious commitments. What he had in mind here was the Talmudic tradition of the so-called seven precepts given to the sons of Noah, a feature of Jewish learning that Hooker had also admired. For a writer like Sandys, whose whole book was an attempt to show that different Christian Churches had to learn to live with one another, this universality was most appealing?and even the Jews' assumption that special glory was still reserved for the Children of Israel could confirm, by analogy, his own Anglican self-righteousness. One ancient stereotype he was at pains to explode. Contrary to the picture painted by Shakespeare and Marlowe, in which the Jew's miserliness was depicted as the antithesis of Christian charity, Sandys noted that 'they are charitable among themselves, leaving no poor unrelieved, no prisoner unransomed: which'?as he perceived?'makes them good prize upon every pretence'. He admitted that they were hated for the usury into which they were forced, and that they were 'handled as very dogs; yet some of them I have known, men of singular virtue and integrity of mind, seeming to want no grace but the faith of a Christian'. No higher compliment could have been paid by an Elizabethan gentleman. Like Aldersey, Sandys described the service in the synagogue, commenting particularly on the honour shown to the law, 'which they carry about their syna? gogue . . . with many rich ornaments of crowns and sceptres, the children kissing it as it passes by them'. He commended, too, the washing of hands before services and the lighting of lamps to honour God. Going beyond previous observers, he described Tzitzis as well as the TaHith. However, his commitment to accuracy prevented him from being as polite about Jewish decorum as Aldersey had been. 'But for the manner of performing their service, and their beha? viour thereat, it is different from all other that ever I saw. They chant. . . with continual great wagging of their bodies and exultation, as it were in some savage or raging solemnity; sometimes all springing up lightly from the ground, and with as much variety as wild work will receive . . . But for any show of devotion or elevation in spirit, that yet in a Jew could I never discern; but they are as reverent in their syna? gogue as grammar-boys in their schools when their master is absent.' Sandys treated this impropriety as</page><page sequence="6">The 1590s and the Return of thejews to England 31 the mark of a soulless body, but it was clearly a minor foible in his catalogue of virtues and vices. He came finally to the question of why so few Jews had been converted, and he used the opportunity to berate the Catholics. The swearing, the idolatry, and the sinfulness that were visible throughout Italian society only deterred potential converts. According to Sandys, 'one of their greatest Rabbis'?could it already have been Leone da Modena??had said, while arguing the merits of Christianity with him, that the Catholics actually omitted the second com? mandment from the Decalogue so that they could enjoy their idols, their images of saints, their weeping statues, and the like. To compound the problem, in Sandys's opinion, Catholics made no effort to win Jews over. They preached no special sermons?in fact, Sandys may well have known that it was fashionable for Venetian Christians to go and listen to Leone da Modena preach?and they adopted counter-produc? tive measures such as the banning of Hebrew books. Worst of all, they confiscated the property of all converts, which removed whatever inducement might have existed. Sandys's point, although he never stated it expli? citly, was that Protestants would undoubtedly have handled the matter more effectively. It would be fool? ish to claim the book as an argument for the readmis sion of Jews to England, but there is no denying that conversion was a fundamental hope for any believing Christian, and that Sandys's meticulous demon? stration of the Catholics' unsuitability for this great mission led towards an obvious conclusion. The alter? native, the need for Protestant efforts, must have been unmistakable to all his readers. As far as the immediate future was concerned, how? ever, Sir Edwin had only gloom to offer. Thejews were 'unblessed and forsaken'; they were 'worldly, yet wretched;. . . despised and hated'. For the time being, therefore, he had no choice but to 'leave them to the merciful cure of God'. It was not an uplifting message, but at least it was realistic. Sandys had tried to show his countrymen what these strange and fearful creatures were like in real life; he had emphasised notable virtues as well as vices; and he had given a measured, accurate portrayal that could not fail to temper irrationality and start the long process of mental revolution. That Sandys's book was well known is easily demonstrated. It raced through three editions in the year it was published, 1605?which suggests sales into four figures. It was then suppressed by the Court of High Commission for its friendly remarks about Catholics, but reappeared in four new editions between 1629 and 1638. By then it had already gone through one Italian and two French editions?it was to be translated into Dutch later in the century.12 Moreover, there were plenty of manuscript versions circulating in Sandys's lifetime, and if his own in? fluence were not wide enough, he was soon joined by his younger brother, George. I can think of no two brothers who hold a similar place in the story of the Jews' readmission to England, for George's work was not of minor significance. Like his brother, he took a grand tour, a journey which, in his case, brought him to Constantinople and Jerusalem as well as the Continent. His description of the Holy Land in 1610 can still interest the intrepid traveller who enjoys uncovering the continuities in that land's history. George was a formidable voyager, who later settled in Virginia and thus became the first American to have made the trip to Israel.13 Of more direct concern to us is the passage he devoted to Jewry?shorter than his brother's, but pervaded by the same spirit. He, too, was matter-of fact in his descriptions, impressed by the Jews' patience in adversity, uneasy about their facility in business, and delighted that they rejected religious images. He approved the simplicity of synagogues, although he was put off by the 'savage tones', the 'fantastical ges? tures', and the 'ridiculous and continual noddings' of the service. From direct experience he described the Bimah, the Mezuzah, and a reading of the Book of Esther, noting the tradition that, because the Megillah does not contain the name of God, it can be allowed to unroll onto the ground. Like his brother, he approved Jewish abstinence from swearing, and he went on to describe the Jews' actual appearance in details that Sir Edwin had obviously considered unnecessary. George was familiar with their clothing, their observation of the Sabbath, their stress on marriage, their dietary and burial customs, and their women. The last-named he found totally unattractive, and surprisingly involved in work and business. He apparently visited the famous community in Salonika, and much of his account may be based on what he saw there. But it is his attitude that is of chief interest: even tempered, recognising Palestine as the Jews' 'own country', and accepting them as a people like any other, with their own practices and beliefs, more honourable than not.14 George's book was published in 1615, and partly reprinted in Purchas His Pilgrims. Together with Sir Edwin's book, it provided ample testimony for the men who ruled England that traditional opinions about Jews could not be taken seriously. And these were books that permeated the political leadership of the day. If we wish to be more explicit about the audience, we can refer to another of the travel books of the time, the most famous of all, Thomas Coryate's</page><page sequence="7">32 Theodore K. Rahb Crudities. Published in 1611, this became the guide to Europe for young gentlemen?in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography, 'of no book in the English language of the same size and . . . same age is it possible to say that there are not two perfect copies in existence'.15 Not only was it heavily used, but its battering came from the right people. Professor Yardeni's recent article has traced in admirable detail the tolerance and openness that were the hallmark of Coryate's pages on thejews.16 What I can add is an indication of his audience. Over fifty men wrote commendatory verses at the beginning of the first edition. Since Coryate was a well-known figure at Court, particularly among the poets and political critics who made up Prince Henry's circle, it is not too surprising that such luminaries as John Donne, Inigo Jones, and Ben Jonson should have been among his friends. What is interesting is the number of times that his patrons proved to be prominent allies of Sir Edwin Sandys in the Parliaments of James Fs reign and in the Virginia Company, the most fashionable colonial venture of the age. Coryate's chief patron, Robert Phelips, of Somer? set, was almost as important as Sandys himself in the opposition to the Crown in the Commons. So was Sandys's cousin Dudley Digges. Of little less impor? tance were Sandys's fellow Middle Templars, Richard Martin and John Hoskins?indeed, the latter brought about the collapse of the Addled Parliament virtually single-handed. Other Members of Parliament who commended the Crudities included Lewis Lewknor, Henry Goodier, the poet lawyer Christopher Brooke, John Harrington, Henry Poole, the antiquary Sir Robert Cotton, and at least half a dozen more.17 All the so-called opposition groups in Jacobean London? Ralegh's entourage, the Mitre Club, Prince Henry's followers, and Sandys's associates in Parliament and the Virginia Company?were disproportionately represented among those who wrote verses for Cor? yate, and by reading his descriptions they received an education in the reality and respectability of Jewry. It is therefore not surprising that the author of the first English book that openly called for the Jews to regain their land and their respect among nations, published in 1624, should have come from the same group. The work in question, The World's Great Res? tauration, or Calling of the Jews, and With Them of all Nations and Kingdoms of the Earth to the Faith of Christ, was written by Sir Henry Finch, a neighbour of Sandys in Kent, a fellow M.P. and lawyer, and the Recorder of the Borough of Sandwich that returned Sandys to Parliament.18 These were the M.P.s at whose feet the next genera? tion of'country' party Commons men, the architects of the Puritan Revolution like Pym, learned their trade. One may reasonably suggest, therefore that in this travel literature and its consequences lies one of the crucial origins of the readmission of the Jews to England. Here began that essential attack on irrationa? lity without which the Shylockian caricatures would never have been overcome and the Cromwellians could never have acted as they did. If I may return to the analogy with witchcraft hysteria, a great deal of recent work has shown that the decline of witch-hunting was first signalled by a new note of caution, and suspicion of extremism, among the leaders of society. Some of their new attitudes are indicated by the attempt at economic interpretation that I quoted earlier. But their wariness had many other ramifications, including a new stress among lawyers on high standards of evidence, an upper-class revulsion against the dangers of mass unreason, and a renewed emphasis by seventeenth-century intellec? tuals on rationality. The causal progression is what concerns us here: once the elite turned towards re? straint and began to subdue popular excesses, then the attitudes of society at large could change. The vital first step had to be an ideological about-face among men of rank, the political nation. In my view, exactly the same succession of events overtook antisemitism in late Tudor and Stuart England. And the initiators of this particular transformation were Sandys, his friends, and his successors. No less than Hooker with his philosemitism, these pragmatic gentry started to roll back the centuries of hatred and make room for the acceptance of Jewry. And they had the one great advantage that they tried to come to terms with Jews as they really were, not as they were imagined to be. Nearly four hundred years later, that quality, while triumphant in England, is still regrettably elusive in too many nations of the world. They might well take a lesson from the likes of Sir Edwin Sandys. NOTES 1 Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1964),p.l47. 2 Books I?IV were probably published in 1594, though the precise date is uncertain. Book V was definitely published in 1597. Books VI-VIII were not published until 1648 and 1662. 3 The quotations are from the Scolar Press facsimile of the first edition of Books I-V, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (Menston, 1969), which keeps the continuous pagination of Books I?IV and the separate pagination of Book V: Books I-IV, p. 95; Book V, pp. 29, 56-57, 216, 194, 2, and Books I-IV, p. 101. For other references, including some hostile to Jews, see Books I-IV, pp.103, 139, 143, 152-153, 183, 189-191; Book V, pp.14, 23, 44, 168-169, 184-190, 196, 200-201, 203, 205-207, 234-235, and 245-250. Naturally, I do not claim that any of the writers I am discussing in this</page><page sequence="8">The 1590s and the Return of thejews to England 33 paper were uniformly amiable towards Jews. What is remarkable is that they were so positive at all. 4 I am currently preparing a full biography of Sandys. For a discussion of his A Relation, see my 'The Editions of Sir Edwin Sandys's Relation of the State of Religion,' The Hunting ton Library Quarterly, XXVI (1963), 323-336, and 'A Contri? bution to the Toleration Controversy of the Sixteenth Cen? tury: Sandys's "A Relation of the State of Religion",' in Renaissance Studies in Honor of Hans Baron, ed. Anthony Molho and John A. Tedeschi (DeKalb, 111., 1971), 833-847. 5 Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations Voyages Traffiques &amp; Discoveries of the English Nation (London, 1599)?modern edition, Vol. V (Glasgow, 1904), pp. 204^205. 6 A Relation, London, 1632 edition, pp.221-222. Interest? ingly, Sandys also related thejews' situation to the oppression inflicted by society on prostitutes. 7 H. R. Trevor-Roper, Religion, the Reformation &amp; Social Change (London, 1967), pp.109-115. 8 Linden, Gesta Trevirorum, as translated in Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, III (Philadelphia, 1902), No. 4, pp.13-14. 9 A Relation, pp.222-233, passim. Since the main discus? sion of the Jews covers only these few pages, I shall give specific page references only for citations from other portions of the book. 10 Ibid., pM7. 11 Thomas Coryate, Coryats Crudities (London, 1611), p.236. On Leone da Modena, and this episode, see Cecil Roth, 'Leone da Modena and England,' Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, XI (1928), 206-215; idem., 'Leone da Modena and his English Correspondents,' ibid., XVII (1953), 39-43; and Mark R. Cohen, 'Leone da Modena's JRifi: A Seventeenth-Century Plea for Toleration ofjews,'Jewish Social Studies, XXXIV (1972), 287-321. 12 See above, n. 4. 13 There is a modern biography: Richard Beale Davis, George Sandys Poet-Adventurer (London, 1955). 14 A Relation of a Journey begun in An: Dom: 1610 (Lon? don, 1615): the section on thejews is reprinted in Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes (Lon? don, 1625)?modern edition, Vol. VIII (Glasgow, 1905), pp.171-175. The attitude towards thejews expressed here is described more fully in Miriam Yardeni, 'Descriptions of Voyages and a Changed Attitude towards the Jews?the Case of Thomas Coryate,' Tarbiz, XL (1970), 102-103 [Hebrew]. 15 Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. IV, p.1185. 16 Yardeni, 'Thomas Coryate,' loc. cit., pp.84-104. 17 Among the commendators who were Members of Parliament, in addition to those mentioned above, were John Peyton, Rowland Cotton, Robert Yaxley, John Stran geways, Laurence Whitaker, Lionel Cranfield (the future Earl of Middlesex), and Robert Halswell. Both John Donne and Inigo Jones were M.P.s, and a number of the commenda? tors, such as Donne, Cranfield, and Henry Nevill of Aberga venny, were also members of the Virginia Company during Sandys's regime. The commendatory poems are at the begin? ning of the Crudities. For Coryate's other connections, see his letters home from India in 1615, as printed in Purchas His Pilgrimes, Vol. IV (Glasgow, 1905), pp.480-481. 18 On Finch's importance, see Cecil Roth, 'Philo-Semi tism in England,' in his Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (Philadelphia, 1962), pp.10?21, especially p.15.</page></plain_text>