« ElőzőTovább »
but little valued in themselves, are absolutely necessary to keep the whole frame together.
That I may not fall into any common beaten tracks of observation, I shall consider this people in three views : first, with regard to their number; secondly, their dispersion; and, thirdly, their adherence to their religion: and afterwards endeavour to show, first, what natural reasons, and, secondly, what providential reasons, may be assigned for these three remarkable particulars.
The Jews are looked upon by many to be as numerous at present, as they were formerly in the land of Canaan.
This is wonderful, considering the dreadful slaughter made of them under some of the Roman emperors, which historians describe by the death of many hundred thousands in a war; and the innumerable massacres and persecutions they have undergone in Turkey, as well as in all Christian nations of the world. The Rabbins, to express the great havoc which has been sometimes made of them, tell us,
after their usual manner of hyperbole, that there were such torrents of holy blood shed, as carried rocks of a hundred yards in circumference above three miles into the sea.
Their dispersion is the second remarkable particular in this people. They swarm over all the East, and are settled in the remotest parts of China : they are spread through most of the nations of Europe and Africa, and many
families of them are established in the West Indies ; not to mention whole nations bordering on Prester John's country, and some discovered in the inner parts of America, if we may give any credit to their own writers.
Their firm adherence to their religion, is no less remarkable than their numbers and dispersion, especially considering it as persecuted or contemned over the face of the whole earth. This is likewise the more remarkable, if we consider the frequent apostasies of this people, when they lived under their kings in the Land of Promise, and within sight of their temple.
If in the next place we examine, what may be the natural reasons for these three particulars which we find in the Jews, and which are not to be found in any other religion or people, I can, in the first place, attribute their numbers to nothing but their constant employment, their abstinence, their exemption from wars, and, above all, their frequent marriages ; for they look on celibacy as an accursed state, and generally are married before twenty, as hoping the Messiah may descend from them.
The dispersion of the Jews into all the nations of the earth, is the second remarkable particular of that people, though not so hard to be accounted for. They were always in rebellions and tumults while they had the temple and the holy city in view, for which reason they have often been driven out of their old habitations in the Land of Promise. They have as often been banished out of most other places where they have settled, which must very much disperse and scatter a people, and oblige them to seek a livelihood where they can find it. Besides, the whole people is now a race of such merchants as are wanderers by profession, and, at the same time, are in most, if not all, places incapable of either lands or offices, that might engage them to make any part of the world their home.
This dispersion would probably have lost their religion, had it not been secured by the strength of its constitution; for they are to live all in a body, and generally within the same enclosure, to marry among themselves, and to eat no meats that are not killed or prepared their own way. This shuts them out from all table conversation, and the most agreeable intercourses of life; and, by consequence,
excludes them from the most probable means of conversion.
If, in the last place, we consider what providential reason may be assigned for these three particulars, we shall find that their numbers, dispersion, and adherence to their religion, have furnished every age, and every nation of the world, with the strongest arguments for the Christian faith, not only as these very particulars are foretold of them, but as they themselves are the depositaries of these and all the other prophecies which tend to their own confusion. Their number furnishes us with a sufficient cloud of witnesses, that attest the truth of the Old Bible. Their dispersion spreads these witnesses through all parts of the world. The adherence to their religion makes their testimony unquestionable. Had the whole body of Jews been converted to Christianity, we should certainly have thought all the prophecies of the Old Testament, that relate to the coming and history of our Blessed Saviour, forged by Christians, and have looked upon them, with the prophecies of the Sibyls, as made many years after the events they pretend to foretell.
No. 499. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2.
Pers. My friend Will. Honeycomb has told me, for above this half
year, that he had a great mind to try his hand at a Spectator, and that he would fain have one of his writing in my works. This morning I received from him the following letter, which, after having rectified some little orthographical mistakes, I shall make a present of to the public. “ DEAR SPEC., I was, about two nights ago,
very agreeable young people of both sexes, where talking of some of your papers which are written on conjugal love, there arose a dispute among us, whether there were not more bad husbands in the world than bad wives. A gentleman, who was advocate for the ladies, took this occasion to tell us the story of a famous siege in Germany, which I have since found related in my historical dictionary, after the following man
When the emperor Conrade the Third had besieged Guelphus, duke of Bavaria, in the city of Hensberg, the women, finding that the town could not hold out long, petitioned the emperor that they might depart out of it, with so much as each of them could carry. The emperor, knowing they could not convey away many of their effects, granted them their petition ; when the women, to his great surprise, came out of the place with every one her husband upon her back. The emperor was so moved at the sight, that he burst into tears, and after having very much extolled the women for their conjugal affection, gave the men to their wives, and received the duke into his favour.
“ The ladies did not a little triumph at this story, asking us at the same time, whether in our consciences we believed that the men of any town in Great Britain would, upon the same offer, and at the same conjuncture, have loaden themselves with their wives; or rather, whether they would not
have been glad of such an opportunity to get rid of them? To this, my very good friend Tom Dapperwit, who took upon him to be the mouth of our sex, replied, that they would be
very much to blame, if they would not do the same good office for the women, considering that their strength would be greater, and their burdens lighter. As we were amusing ourselves with discourses of this nature, in order to pass away the evening, which now begins to grow tedious, we fell into that laudable and primitive diversion of questions and commands. I was so sooner vested with the regal authority, but I enjoined all the ladies, under pain of my displeasure, to tell the company ingenuously, in case they had been in the siege above-mentioned, and had the same offers made them as the good women of that place, what every one of them would have brought off with her, and have thought most worth the saving ? There were several merry answers made to my question, which entertained us till bed-time. This filled my mind with such a huddle of ideas, that upon my going to sleep, I fell into the following dream.
I saw a town of this island, which shall be nameless, invested on every side, and the inhabitants of it so straitened as to cry for quarter. The general refused any other terms than those granted to the above-mentioned town of Hensberg, namely, that the married women might come out with what they could bring along with them. Immediately the gate flew open, and a female procession appeared, multitudes of the sex following one another in a row, and staggering under their respective burdens. I took my stand upon an eminence in the enemy's camp, which was appointed for the general rendezvous of these female carriers, being very desirous to look into their several ladings. The first of them had a huge sack upon her shoulders, which she set down with great care: upon the opening of it, when I expected to have seen her husband shoot out of it, I found it was filled with china ware. The next appeared in a more decent figure, carrying a handsome young fellow upon her back: I could not forbear commending the young woman for her conjugal affection, when, to my great surprise, I found that she had left the good man at home, and brought away her gallant. I saw the third, at some distance, with a little withered face peeping over her shoulder, whom I could not suspect for any but her spouse, till upon her setting him
down, I heard her call him dear Pug, and found him to be her favourite monkey. A fourth brought a huge bale of cards along with her; and the fifth a Bolonia lap-dog : for her husband, it seems, being a very burly man, she thought it would be less trouble for her to bring away little Cupid. The next was the wife of a rich usurer, loaden with a bag of gold; she told us that her spouse was very old, and by the course of nature, could not expect to live long; and that to show her tender regards for him, she had saved that which the
poor man loved better than his life. The next came towards us with her son upon her back, who, we were told, was the greatest rake in the place, but so much the mother's darling, that she left her husband behind, with a large family of hopeful sons and daughters, for the sake of this graceless youth. “ It would be endless to mention the several persons,
with their several loads, that appeared to me in this strange vision. All the place about me was covered with packs of ribbon, brocades, embroidery, and ten thousand other materials, sufficient to have furnished a whole street of toy-shops. One of the women having a husband that was none of the heaviest, was bringing him off upon her shoulders, at the same time that she carried a great bundle of Flanders lace under her arm; but finding herself so over-loaden, that she could not save both of them, she dropped the good man, and brought away the bundle. In short, I found but one husband among this great mountain of baggage, who was a lively cobbler, and kicked and spurred all the while his wife was carrying him on, and, as it was said, had scarce passed a day in his life without giving her the discipline of the strap.
“I cannot conclude my letter, dear Spec., without telling thee one very odd whim in this my dream. I saw, methought, a dozen women employed in bringing off one man; I could not guess who it should be, till upon his nearer approach I discovered thy short phiz. The women all declared that it was for the sake of thy works, and not thy person, that they brought thee off, and that it was on condition that thou shouldst continue the Spectator. If thou thinkest this dream will make a tolerable one, it is at thy service, from, “Dear Spec., thine, sleeping and waking,