Of the Jews.
I HAVE thus given some succinct notices of the history, government, relig|ion, habits, and manners of this ferocious race. I have interspersed reflections, which, I hope, will be received by the learned with candour; and shall now re|sume the thread of my more appropriate narrative.
By unremitted attention to the du|ties of my office and some fortunate operations in surgery, I had now so far ingratiated myself with the director and physicians of the infirmary, that I was al|lowed to be absent any hours of the day, when my business in the hospital permit|ted, without rendering any especial reason Page 179 for my absence. I wandered into all parts of the city, where strangers were permitted to walk, inspected every object I could, without giving umbrage. I some|times strayed into that quarter of the city, principally inhabited by Jews. This cun|ning race, since their dispersion by Ves|pasian and Titus, have contrived to compensate themselves for the loss of Pa|lestine, "by engrossing the wealth, and ten the luxuries of every other land; and, wearied with the expectation of that heavenly king," who shall repossess them of the holy city, and put their enemies be|neath their feet, now solace themselves with a Messiah, whose glory is enshrined in their coffers. Rigidly attached to their own customs, intermarrying among themselves, content to be apparently wretched and despised, that they may wal|low in secret wealth; and secluded, in most countries, from holding landed prop|erty, and in almost all from filling offic|es Page 180 of power and profit, they are gener|ally received as meet instruments to do the mean drudgery of despotic courts. The wealth, which would render a sub|ject too powerful, the despot can trust with an unambitious Jew; and confide secrets, which involve his own safety to a miserable Israelite. whom he can annihi|late with a nod. The Jews transact al|most all the Dey's private business, be|sides that of the negotiations of merchants. Nay, if an envoy from a foreign power comes to treat with the Dey, he may have the parade of a public audience; but, if he wishes to accomplish his embassy, he must employ a Jew: and, it is said, the Dey himself shares with the Jew the very sums paid him for his influence with this politic despot. The Jews are also the spies of the Dey, upon his subjects at home, and the channels of intelligence from foreign powers. They are there|fore allowed to assemble in their syna|gogues; Page 181 and have frequently an influence at the court of the Dey, with his great officers, and even before the civil judge, not to be accounted for from the morality of their conduct. Popular prejudice is generally against them; and the Dey of|ten avails himself of it by heavy amerce|ments for his protection. In the year one thousand six hundred and ninety, he threatened to extirpate the whole race in his dominions, and was final|ly appeased by a large contribution they raised and offered as an expiation of a supposed offence. It was commonly reported, that the Jews in Algiers, at that time, had procured a christian child, which they privately purified with much ceremony, fattened and prepared for a sac|rifice, at their feast of the passover, as a substitute for the paschal lamb. This horrid tale, which should have been de|spised for its absurdity and inhumanity, the Dey affected to credit. He ap|pointed Page 182 several Mahometan priests to search the habitations of the Jews, imme|diately before the feast of the passover, who, discovering some bitter herbs and other customary preparations for the fes|tival, affected to have found sufficient evidence against them; and the mob of Algiers, mad with rage and perhaps in|flamed by the usurious exactions of par|ticular Jews, rushed on furiously to pillage and destroy the wretched descendants of Jacob. Two houses were demolished, and several Jews assassinated before the arrival of the Dey's guards, who quickly dispersed this outrageous rabble. The Dey, who desired nothing less than the destruction of so useful a people, was soon appeased by a large present, and declared them innocent: and, such is the power of despotic governments, that the Jews were soon received into general fa|vour; and the very men, who, the day Page 183 before, proceeded to destroy the whole race, now saw, with tame inaction, sev|eral of their fellows executed for the at|tempt.