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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/318

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

by fire. The princes were also ready, in ease no Court of Inquisition was in existence, to execute this punishment. The Emperor Frederick III caused a young man, who was valuable to him as a servant, and who, after being baptized out of fear turned back to Judaism, to be conducted to the stake, to which he went singing psalms. In Spain and Portugal the observing of some Jewish rite, on the part of a new convert, sufficed to subject him to imprisonment and torture. It was not realized that by this means the Church was being filled with hypocrites, and that numberless profanations, otherwise sought to be avoided in every possible way, unavoidably took place. In her better days the Church regarded an entrance of her walls, accomplished by the influence of slaughter and terror, a disgrace and a sacrilege; but now all, bishops, priests, and laity, worked harmoniously together to imprint this stigma on their Church—above all, in Spain.

A more painful existence than that of a Jew in the middle ages is scarcely thinkable, and, if he had had a knowledge of history, with what longing would he have looked back to the happy time of the Roman Empire! Every day the Jew must be prepared for some act of extortion, or the loss of all his goods, or imprisonment or banishment. Emigration was often impossible, and was in most cases not permitted, so long as the Jew had any remaining possessions which could be taken from him; and when he did undertake it his condition hardly ever improved; it was often "falling out of the frying-pan into the fire." Moreover, he had to pay a high price for permission to live elsewhere, even if it was only for a few years. On the highways of the country his person was as insecure as that of an outlaw.

The whole external history of the Jews for almost a thousand years makes up a succession of elaborate oppressions, of degrading and demoralizing afflictions, of violence and persecution, of wholesale slaughters, with interchanges of banishments and recallings. It is as if the European nations had vied with each other in trying to create the double delusion that the Jews were condemned till the end of time in the decrees of Heaven to the severest helotism, and that the sons of the Gentiles were ordained to act the part of jailers and hangmen to the chosen people of God! Christians knew not how to dispense with them; they were serviceable in many ways; and yet they could not be endured. Their countenances worked like a challenge upon the believer, who was touched by no scruple, and thought it possible to explain the Jews' fixed attachment to their ancestral faith, under the clear light of the gospel, only as a species of wicked obstinacy.

Nevertheless, one feature is striking in the great mass of abusive discourses, arraignments, and declamatory outbursts against the detested people—a feature which, along with endless repetition of the customary phrases, characterizes the ecclesiastical literature of those centuries: and this is, that their moral life, so far as the family, chastity, temperance, and fidelity to obligations go, is never attacked. Along