Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/346

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But to pass from the antecedents of our Jewish immigrants to the immigrants themselves. Except to some extent from portions of Austria and Roumania, they present little evidence of a state of prosperity that would be believed to be sufficient to excite the envy of the Slavic or Roumanian peasant. In general appearance and demeanor, as well as in the degree of their physical deterioration, they are in the main what might be expected from their civil status and immediate environment in the particular locality whence they come. But, in spite of an unprepossessing exterior and apparent contentment in squalid surroundings, the consciousness and pride of belonging to a superior race is always active and personal ambition is seldom extinct. They and their children have given abundant evidence of the qualities which have won distinction for their race in so many fields. Among them may be found the same active and well-balanced minds and the same tendency to concentration of energy for the accomplishment of the task on hand. They have a nervous make-up that is not easily susceptible to the formation of habits of body or thought, and it would often appear that their mental processes were not of the western order, but, after all, the Hebrew is only a more or less modified Oriental still.

So also they seem to possess to a high degree the power of divesting from the bias of prejudice or self-gratification the conclusions by which a course of action is governed, and to be less inclined than western people to be influenced by precedent or convention in making use of visible means for reaching a desired end. Like the southern Italians, they have a reputation for parsimony, but whereas the Italian in stinting himself and his family feels satisfaction in the thought that he has added an infinitesimal amount to the fund that will lead to the accomplishment of some indefinite future object, the Russian Jew only looks on the increments to his assets, like an athlete's medals, as evidence of contests that have been won and as an incentive, not to further efforts to save, but to increase his capacity to gain. To carry the contrast still further, the Hebrew immigrant in the most unaccustomed and bewildering surroundings never abandons his efforts to think for himself, and if compelled to rely upon guidance he will be as likely to repose a limited amount of confidence in a gentile stranger as in an unknown Jew. Instead of settling personal differences 'out of court' like the Italian, he is constantly in litigation, for he can not resist the temptation to utilize the obvious imperfections of our system of jurisprudence as a means of serving some personal end.

By far the majority of these immigrants have prospered. While still represented in the vocations with which they are commonly