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Title: Solomon Maimon: An Autobiography.
Author: Maimon, Solomon
Language: English
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_Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy, M'Gill College, Montreal_.





TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE,                                                ix.

INTRODUCTION.--State of Poland in last century,                        1


I.--My Grandfather's Housekeeping,                                     6

II.--First Reminiscences of Youth,                                    19

III.--Private Education and Independent Study,                        22

IV.--Jewish Schools--The Joy of being released from them causes
 a Stiff Foot,                                                        32

V.--My Family is driven into Misery, and an old Servant loses by his
 great Faithfulness a Christian Burial,                               38

VI.--New Abode, New Misery--The Talmudist,                            42

VII.--Joy endureth but a little while,                                49

VIII.--The Pupil knows more than the Teacher--A theft _à la
Rousseau_, which is discovered--"The ungodly provideth, and
the righteous putteth it on,"                                         54

IX.--Love Affairs and Matrimonial Proposals--The
Song of Solomon may be used in the service
of Matchmaking--A new _Modus Lucrandi_--Smallpox,                     59

X.--I become an object of Contention, get two Wives
at once, and am kidnapped at last,                                    65

XI.--My Marriage in my eleventh Year makes me the
Slave of my Wife, and procures for me
Cudgellings from my Mother-in-Law--A
Ghost of Flesh and Blood,                                             74

XII.--The Secrets of the Marriage State--Prince
Radzivil, or what is not all allowed in
Poland?                                                               79

XIII.--Endeavour after mental Culture amid ceaseless
Struggles with Misery of every Kind,                                  89

XIV.--I study the Cabbalah, and become at last a
Physician,                                                            94

XV.--A brief Exposition of the Jewish Religion from
its Origin down to the most recent Times,                            111

XVI.--Jewish Piety and Penances,                                     132

XVII.--Friendship and Enthusiasm,                                    138

XVIII.--The Life of a Family Tutor,                                  145

XIX.--Also on a Secret Society, and therefore a Long
Chapter,                                                             151

XX.--Continuation of the Former, and also Something
about Religious Mysteries,                                           176

XXI.--Journeys to Königsberg, Stettin, and Berlin, for
the purpose of extending my Knowledge of
Men,                                                                 187

XXII.--Deepest Stage of Misery, and Deliverance,                     197

XXIII.--Arrival in Berlin--Acquaintances--Mendelssohn--Desperate
Study of Metaphysics--Doubts--Lectures
on Locke and Adelung,                                                210

XXIV.--Mendelssohn--A Chapter devoted to the Memory
of a worthy Friend,                                                  221

XXV.--My Aversion at first for Belles Lettres, and my
subsequent Conversion--Departure from Berlin--Sojourn
in Hamburg--I drown myself in
the same way as a bad Actor shoots himself--An
old Fool of a Woman falls in Love with
me, but her Addresses are rejected,                                  234

XXVI.--I return to Hamburg--A Lutheran Pastor
pronounces me to be a scabby Sheep, and
unworthy of Admission into the Christian
Fold--I enter the Gymnasium, and frighten
the Chief Rabbi out of his Wits,                                     253

XXVII.--Third journey to Berlin--Frustrated Plan of
Hebrew Authorship--Journey to Breslau--Divorce,                      265

XXVIII.--Fourth journey to Berlin--Unfortunate
 circumstances--Help--Study of Kant's Writings--Characteristic
of my own Works,                                                     279

CONCLUDING CHAPTER,                                                  290


One effect of _Daniel Deronda_ was to make known to a wide circle of
readers the vitality of Judaism as a system which still holds sway over
the mental as well as the external life of men. During the few years
which have passed since the publication of that great fiction, the
interest in modern Judaism has continued to grow. It is but a short time
since the Western world was startled by the outbreak of an ancient
feeling against the Jews, which had been supposed to be long dead, at
least in some of the quarters where it was displayed. The popular
literature of the day also seems to indicate that the life of existing
Jewish communities is attracting a large share of attention in the
reading world. The charming pictures which Emil Franzos has drawn of
Jewish life in the villages of Eastern Galicia, are not only popular in
Germany, but some have been reproduced in a cheap form in New York to
meet the demand of German Americans, and some have also been translated
into English. The interest of English readers in the same subject is
further shown by the recent translation of Kompert's _Scenes from the
Ghetto_, as well as by Mr. Cumberland's still more recent and powerful
romance of _The Rabbi's Spell_. Among students of philosophical
literature a fresh interest has been awakened in the history of Jewish
thought by the revival of the question in reference to the sources of
Spinoza's philosophy. The affinities of this system with the familiar
tendencies of Cartesian speculation have led the historians of
philosophy generally to represent the former as simply an inevitable
development of the latter, while the affinities of Spinozism with the
unfamiliar speculations of earlier Jewish thinkers have been almost
entirely ignored.

In these circumstances a special interest may be felt in the life of one
of the most remarkable Jews of modern times--a life which forms one of
the most extraordinary biographies in the history of literature.

Readers of _Daniel Deronda_ may remember that, in his search among the
Jews of London for some one who could throw light on the sad story of
Mirah, the hero of the novel was attracted one day to a second-hand
book-shop, where his eye fell on "that wonderful bit of
autobiography--the life of the Polish Jew, Solomon Maimon." There are
few men so remarkable as Maimon who have met with so little recognition
in English literature. Milman, in his _History of the Jews_, refers
once[1] to the autobiography as "a curious and rare book," but
apparently he knew it only from some quotations in Franck's _La
Cabbale_. Among English metaphysical writers the only one who seems to
have studied the speculations of Maimon is Dr. Hodgson.[2] Even the new
edition of the _Encyclopedia Britannica_ gives no place to Maimon among
its biographies. And yet he is a prominent figure among the
metaphysicians of the Kantian period. Kuno Fischer, in his _Geschichte
der Neueren Philosophie_,[3] devotes a whole chapter to the life of
Maimon, while the contemporary critics of Kant are dismissed with little
or no biographical notice. Fischer's sketch is just sufficient to whet
curiosity for fuller details; but, amid the dearth of rare literature in
Colonial libraries, I certainly never expected to come, in a Canadian
town, upon "a curious and rare book" of last century, which was known
even to the learned Milman only through some quotations from a French
author. One day, however, in Toronto, in order to while away an
unoccupied hour, I was glancing, like Daniel Deronda, over the shelves
of a second-hand bookseller, when I was attracted by a small volume, in
a good state of preservation, with "S. Maimon's Lebensgeschichte" on the
back; and on taking it down I found it to be the veritable autobiography
which I had been curious to see.

Some account of the work was given in an article in the _British
Quarterly Review_ for July, 1885; but I thought that a complete
translation would probably be welcomed by a considerable circle of
English readers. The book has many attractions. If the development of
the inner life of man can ever be characterised as a romance, the
biography of Maimon may, in the truest sense, be said to be one of the
most romantic stories ever written. Perhaps no literature has preserved
a more interesting record of a spirit imprisoned within almost
insuperable barriers to culture, yet acquiring strength to burst all
these, and even to become an appreciable power in directing the course
of speculation. The book, however, is much more than a biography; it
possesses historical interest. It opens up what, to many English
readers, must be unknown efforts of human thought, unknown wanderings of
the religious life. The light, which it throws upon Judaism especially,
both in its speculative and in its practical aspects, is probably, in
fact, unique. For the sketches, which the book contains, of Jewish
speculation and life were made at a time when the author had severed all
vital connection with his own people and their creed; and they are
therefore drawn from a point of view outside of Jewish prejudices: but
they are penned by one who had been brought up to believe the divine
mission of his people, as well as the divine authority of their
religion; and the criticism of his old faith is generally tempered by
that kindly sympathy, with which the heart is apt to be warmed on
lingering over the companionships and other associations of earlier
years. Maimon's account of Jewish philosophy and theology acquires an
additional value from the fact, that he was caught in the full tide of
the Kantian movement, and he was thus in a position to point out
unexpected affinities between many an old effort of speculative thought
among the Jews and the philosophical tendencies of modern Christendom.

Since writing the above-mentioned article for the _British Quarterly
Review_, I learnt that a volume of _Maimoniana_ had been issued in 1813
by an old friend of our philosopher, Dr. Wolff[4]; and through the
kindness of a friend in Leipsic, I was enabled, after some delay, to
procure a copy. It is a small volume of 260 pages, and adds extremely
little to our knowledge of Maimon. Nearly one third is simply a
condensation of the autobiography; and the remainder shows the author
with the opportunities indeed, but without the faculty, of a Boswell. He
has preserved but few of the felicities of Maimon's conversation; and
what he has preserved loses a good deal of its flavour from his want of
the lively memory by which Boswell was able to reproduce the peculiar
mannerisms of Johnson's talk. Still I have culled from the little
volume a few notes for illustration of the autobiography, and I am
indebted to it for most of the materials of the concluding chapter. All
my additions are indicated by "_Trans._" appended.

The translation gives the whole of the biographical portion of the
original. There are, however, ten chapters which I have omitted, as they
are occupied entirely with a sketch of the great work of
Maimonides,--the _Moreh Nebhochim_, or _Guide of the Perplexed_. Owing
to their somewhat loose connection[5] with the rest, these chapters
excite just the faintest suspicion of "padding;" and at all events there
is no demand for such a sketch in English now, when our literature has
been recently enriched by Dr. Friedländer's careful translation of the
whole work.

In the performance of my task I have endeavoured to render the original
as literally as was consistent with readable English. Only in one or
two passages I have toned down the expression slightly to suit the
tastes of our own time; but even in these I have not been unfaithful to
the author's meaning.

In the spelling of Hebrew and other foreign words I have never, without
some good reason, interfered with the original. But as Maimon is not
always consistent with himself in this respect, I have felt myself at
liberty to disregard his usage by adopting such forms as are more
familiar, or more likely to be intelligible, to an English reader.



The inhabitants of Poland may be conveniently divided into six classes
or orders:--the superior nobility, the inferior nobility, the
half-noble, burghers, peasantry and Jews.

The superior nobility consist of the great landowners and administrators
of the high offices of government. The inferior nobility also are
allowed to own land and to fill any political office; but they are
prevented from doing so by their poverty. The half-noble can neither own
land, nor fill any high office in the State; and by this he is
distinguished from the genuine noble. Here and there, it is true, he
owns land; but for that he is in some measure dependent on the lord of
the soil, within whose estate his property lies, inasmuch as he is
required to pay him a yearly tribute.

The burghers are the most wretched of all the orders. They are not, 'tis
true, in servitude to any man; they also enjoy certain privileges, and
have a jurisdiction of their own. But as they seldom own any property
of value, or follow rightly any profession, they always remain in a
condition of pitiable poverty.

The last two orders, namely the peasantry and the Jews, are the most
useful in the country. The former occupy themselves with agriculture,
raising cattle, keeping bees,--in short, with all the products of the
soil. The latter engage in trade, take up the professions and
handicrafts, become bakers, brewers, dealers in beer, brandy, mead and
other articles. They are also the only persons who farm estates in towns
and villages, except in the case of ecclesiastical properties, where the
reverend gentlemen hold it a sin to put a Jew in a position to make a
living, and accordingly prefer to hand over their farms to the peasants.
For this they must suffer by their farms going to ruin, as the peasantry
have no aptitude for this sort of employment: but of course they choose
rather to bear this with Christian resignation.

In consequence of the ignorance of most of the Polish landlords, the
oppression of the tenantry, and the utter want of economy, most of the
farms in Poland, at the end of last century,[6] had fallen into such a
state of decay, that a farm, which now yields about a thousand Polish
gulden, was offered to a Jew for ten; but in consequence of still
greater ignorance and laziness, with all that advantage even he could
not make a living off the farm. An incident, however, occurred at this
time, which gave a new turn to affairs. Two brothers from Galicia, where
the Jews are much shrewder than in Lithuania, took, under the name of
_Dersawzes_ or farmers-general, a lease of all the estates of Prince
Radzivil, and, by means of a better industry as well as a better
economy, they not only raised the estates into a better condition, but
also enriched themselves in a short time.

Disregarding the clamour of their brethren, they increased the rents,
and enforced payment by the sub-lessees with the utmost stringency. They
themselves exercised a direct oversight of the farms; and wherever they
found a farmer who, instead of looking after his own interests and those
of his landlord in the improvement of his farm by industry and economy,
spent the whole day in idleness, or lay drunk about the stove, they soon
brought him to his senses, and roused him out of his indolence by a
flogging. This procedure of course acquired for the farmers-general,
among their own people, the name of tyrants.

All this, however, had a very good effect. The farmer, who at the term
had hitherto been unable to pay up his ten gulden of rent without
requiring to be sent to jail about it, now came under such a strong
inducement to active exertion, that he was not only able to support a
family off his farm, but was also able to pay, instead of ten, four or
five hundred, and sometimes even a thousand gulden.

The Jews, again, may be divided into three classes:--(1) the illiterate
working people, (2) those who make learning their profession, and (3)
those who merely devote themselves to learning without engaging in any
remunerative occupation, being supported by the industrial class. To the
second class belong the chief rabbis, preachers, judges, schoolmasters,
and others of similar profession. The third class consists of those who,
by their pre-eminent abilities and learning, attract the regard of the
unlearned, are taken by these into their families, married to their
daughters, and maintained for some years with wife and children at their
expense. Afterwards, however, the wife is obliged to take upon herself
the maintenance of the saintly idler and the children (who are usually
very numerous); and for this, as is natural, she thinks a good deal of

There is perhaps no country besides Poland, where religious freedom and
religious enmity are to be met with in equal degree. The Jews enjoy
there a perfectly free exercise of their religion and all other civil
liberties; they have even a jurisdiction of their own. On the other
hand, however, religious hatred goes so far, that the name of Jew has
become an abomination; and this abhorrence, which had taken root in
barbarous times, continued to show its effects till about thirteen years
ago. But this apparent contradiction may be very easily removed, if it
is considered that the religious and civil liberty, conceded to the Jews
in Poland, has not its source in any respect for the universal rights
of mankind, while, on the other hand, the religious hatred and
persecution are by no means the result of a wise policy which seeks to
remove out of the way whatever is injurious to morality and the welfare
of the State. Both phenomena are results of the political ignorance and
torpor prevalent in the country. With all their defects the Jews are
almost the only useful inhabitants of the country, and therefore the
Polish people found themselves obliged, for the satisfaction of their
own wants, to grant all possible liberties to the Jews; but, on the
other hand, their moral ignorance and stupor could not fail to produce
religious hatred and persecution.


My Grandfather's Housekeeping.

My grandfather, Heimann Joseph, was farmer of some villages in the
neighbourhood of the town of Mir, in the territory of Prince
Radzivil.[7] He selected for his residence one of these villages on the
river Niemen, called Sukoviborg, where, besides a few peasants' plots,
there was a water-mill, a small harbour, and a warehouse for the use of
the vessels that come from Königsberg, in Prussia. All this, along with
a bridge behind the village, and on the other side a drawbridge on the
river Niemen, belonged to the farm, which was then worth about a
thousand gulden, and formed my grandfather's _Chasakah_.[8] This farm,
on account of the warehouse and the great traffic, was very lucrative.
With sufficient industry and economical skill, _si mens non laeva
fuisset_, my grandfather should have been able, not only to support his
family, but even to gather wealth. The bad constitution of the country,
however, and his own want of all the acquirements necessary for
utilising the land, placed extraordinary obstacles in his way.

My grandfather settled his brothers as tenants under him in the villages
belonging to his farm. These not only lived continually with my
grandfather under the pretence of assisting him in his manifold
occupations, but in addition to this they would not pay their rents at
the end of the year.

The buildings, belonging to my grandfather's farm, had fallen into decay
from age, and required therefore to be repaired. The harbour and the
bridge also had become dilapidated. In accordance with the terms of the
lease the landlord was to repair everything, and put it in a condition
fit for use. But, like all the Polish magnates, he resided permanently
in Warsaw, and could therefore give no attention to the improvement of
his estates. His stewards had for their principal object the improvement
rather of their own condition than of their landlord's property. They
oppressed the farmers with all sorts of exactions, they neglected the
orders given for the improvement of the farms, and the moneys intended
for this purpose they applied to their own use. My grandfather indeed
made representations on the subject to the stewards day after day, and
assured them that it was impossible for him to pay his rent, if
everything was not put into proper condition according to the lease. All
this, however, was of no avail. He always received promises indeed, but
the promises were never fulfilled. The result was not only the ruin of
the farm, but several other evils arising from that.

As already mentioned, there was a large traffic at this place; and as
the bridges were in a bad state, it happened not infrequently that these
broke down just when a Polish nobleman with his rich train was passing,
and horse and rider were plunged into the swamp. The poor farmer was
then dragged to the bridge, where he was laid down and flogged till it
was thought that sufficient revenge had been taken.

My grandfather therefore did all in his power to guard against this evil
in the future. For this purpose he stationed one of his people to keep
watch at the bridge, so that, if any noble were passing, and an accident
of this sort should happen, the sentinel might bring word to the house
as quickly as possible, and the whole family might thus have time to
take refuge in the neighbouring wood. Every one thereupon ran in terror
out of the house, and not infrequently they were all obliged to remain
the whole night in the open air, till one after another ventured to
approach the house.

This sort of life lasted for some generations. My father used to tell of
an incident of this sort, which happened when he was still a boy of
about eight years. The whole family had fled to their usual retreat. But
my father, who knew nothing of what had happened, and was playing at the
back of the stove, stayed behind alone. When the angry lord came into
the house with his suite, and found nobody on whom he could wreak his
vengeance, he ordered every corner of the house to be searched, when my
father was found at the back of the stove. The nobleman asked him if he
would drink brandy, and, on the boy refusing, shouted: "If you will not
drink brandy, you shall drink water." At the same time he ordered a
bucketful of water to be brought, and forced my father, by lashes with
his whip, to drink it out. Naturally this treatment brought on a quartan
fever, which lasted nearly a whole year, and completely undermined his

A similar incident took place when I was a child of three years. Every
one ran out of the house; and the housemaid, who carried me in her arms,
hurried forth. But as the servants of the nobleman who had arrived ran
after her, she quickened her steps, and in her extreme haste let me fall
from her arms. There I lay whimpering on the skirt of the wood, till
fortunately a peasant passing by lifted me up and took me home with him.
It was only after everything had become quiet again, and the family had
returned to the house, that the maid remembered having lost me in the
flight, when she began to lament and wring her hands. They sought me
everywhere, but could not find me, till at last the peasant came from
the village and restored me to my parents.

It was not merely the terror and consternation, into which we used to be
thrown on the occasion of such a flight; to this was added the
plundering of the house when deprived of its inhabitants. Beer, brandy,
and mead were drunk at pleasure; the spirit of revenge even went so far
at times, that the casks were left to run out; corn and fowls were
carried off; and so forth.

Had my grandfather, instead of seeking justice from a more powerful
litigant, rather borne the injustice, and built the bridge in question
at his own expense, he would have been able to avoid all these evils. He
appealed, however, persistently to the terms of his lease, and the
steward made sport of his misery.

And now something about my grandfather's domestic economy. The manner of
life, which he led in his house, was quite simple. The annual produce of
the arable lands, pasture-lands, and kitchen-gardens, belonging to the
farm, was sufficient, not only for the wants of his own family, but also
for brewing and distilling. He could even, besides, sell a quantity of
grain and hay. His bee-hives were sufficient for the brewing of mead. He
had also a large number of cattle.

The principal food consisted of a poor kind of corn-bread mixed with
bran, of articles made of meal and milk, and of the produce of the
garden, seldom of flesh-meat. The clothing was made of poor linen and
coarse stuff. Only the women made in these matters a slight exception,
and my father also, who was a scholar, required a different sort of

Hospitality was here carried very far. The Jews in this neighbourhood
are continually moving about from place to place; and as there was a
great traffic at our village, they were frequently passing through it,
and of course they had always to stop at my grandfather's inn. Every
Jewish traveller was met at the door with a glass of spirits; one hand
making the _salaam_,[9] while the other reached the glass. He then had
to wash his hands, and seat himself at the table which remained
constantly covered.

The support of a numerous family along with this hospitality would have
had no serious effect in impairing my grandfather's circumstances, if at
the same time he had introduced a better economy in his house. This,
however, was the source of his misfortune.

My grandfather was in trifles almost too economical, and neglected
therefore matters of the greatest importance. He looked upon it, for
example, as extravagance to burn wax or tallow candles; their place had
to be supplied with thin strips of resinous pine, one end of which was
stuck into the chinks of the wall, while the other was lit. Not
unfrequently by this means fires were occasioned, and much damage
caused, in comparison with which the cost of candles was not worth
taking into consideration.

The apartment, in which beer, spirits, mead, herrings, salt and other
articles were kept for the daily account of the inn, had no windows,
but merely apertures, through which it received light. Naturally this
often tempted the sailors and carriers who put up at the inn to climb
into the apartment, and make themselves drunk gratuitously with spirits
and mead. What was still worse, these carousing heroes, from fear of
being caught in the act, often took to flight, on hearing the slightest
noise, without waiting to put in the spigot, sprang out at the holes by
which they had come in, and let the liquor run as long as it might. In
this way sometimes whole casks of spirits and mead ran out.

The barns had no proper locks, but were shut merely with wooden bolts.
Any one therefore, especially as the barns were at some distance from
the dwelling-house, could take from them at pleasure, and even carry off
whole waggonloads of grain. The sheepfold had, all over, holes, by which
wolves (the forest being quite near) were able to slink in, and worry
the sheep at their convenience.

The cows came very often from the pasture with empty udders. According
to the superstition which prevailed there, it was said in such cases,
that the milk had been taken from them by witchcraft,--a misfortune,
against which it was supposed that nothing could be done.

My grandmother, a good simple woman, when tired with her household
occupations, lay down often in her clothes to sleep by the stove, and
had all her pockets full of money, without knowing how much. Of this
the housemaid took advantage, and emptied the pockets of half their
contents. Nevertheless my grandmother seldom perceived the want, if only
the girl did not play too clumsy a trick.

All these evils could easily have been avoided of course by repairing
the buildings, the windows, the window-shutters and locks, by proper
oversight of the manifold lucrative occupations connected with the farm,
as also by keeping an exact account of receipts and disbursements. But
this was never thought of. On the other hand, if my father, who was a
scholar, and educated partly in town, ordered for himself a rabbinical
suit, for which a finer stuff was required than that in common use, my
grandfather did not fail to give him a long and severe lecture on the
vanity of the world. "Our forefathers," he used to say, "knew nothing of
these new-fashioned costumes, and yet were devout people. You must have
a coat of striped woolen cloth,[10] you must have leather hose, with
buttons even, and everything on the same scale. You will bring me to
beggary at last; I shall be thrown into prison on your account. Ay me,
poor unfortunate man! What is to become of me?"

My father then appealed to the rights and privileges of the profession
of a scholar, and showed moreover that, in a well-arranged system of
economy, it does not so much matter whether you live somewhat better or
worse, and that even my grandfather's misfortunes arose, not from
extravagant consumption in housekeeping, but rather from the fact that
he allowed himself by his remissness to be plundered by others. All this
however was of no avail with my grandfather. He could not tolerate
innovations. Everything therefore had to be left as it was.

My grandfather was held in the place of his abode to be a rich man,
which he could really have been if he had known how to make use of his
opportunities; and on this account he was envied and hated by all, even
by his own family, he was abandoned by his landlord, he was oppressed in
every possible way by the steward, and cheated and robbed by his own
domestics as well as by strangers. In short, he was _the poorest rich
man_ in the world.

In addition to all this there were still greater misfortunes, which I
cannot here pass over wholly in silence. The pope, that is, the Russian
clergyman in this village, was a dull ignorant blockhead, who had
scarcely learned to read and write. He spent most of his time at the
inn, where he drank spirits with his boorish parishioners, and let his
liquor always be put down to his account, without ever a thought of
paying his score. My grandfather at last became tired of this, and made
up his mind to give him nothing more upon credit. The fellow naturally
took this very ill, and therefore resolved upon revenge.

For this he found at length a means, at which indeed humanity shudders,
but of which the Catholic Christians in Poland were wont to make use
very often at that time. This was to charge my grandfather with the
murder of a Christian, and thus bring him to the gallows. This was done
in the following way: A beaver-trapper, who sojourned constantly in this
neighbourhood to catch beavers on the Niemen, was accustomed at times to
trade in these animals with my grandfather; and this had to be done
secretly, for the beaver is game preserved, and all that are taken must
be delivered at the manor. The trapper came once about midnight, knocked
and asked for my grandfather. He showed him a bag which was pretty heavy
to lift, and said to him with a mysterious air, "I have brought you a
good big fellow here." My grandfather was going to strike a light, to
examine the beaver, and come to terms about it with the peasant. He
however said, that this was unnecessary, that my grandfather might take
the beaver at any rate, and that they would be sure to agree about it
afterwards. My grandfather, who had no suspicion of evil, took the bag
just as it was, laid it aside, and betook himself again to rest.
Scarcely, however, had he fallen asleep again, when he was roused a
second time with a loud noise of knocking.

It was the clergyman with some boors from the village, who immediately
began to make search all over in the house. They found the bag, and my
grandfather already trembled for the issue, because he believed nothing
else than that he had been betrayed at the manor on account of his
secret trade in beavers, and he could not deny the fact. But how great
was his horror, when the bag was opened, and, instead of a beaver, there
was found a corpse!

My grandfather was bound with his hands behind his back, his feet were
put into stocks, he was thrown into a waggon, and brought to the town of
Mir, where he was given over to the criminal court. He was made fast in
chains, and put into a dark prison.

At the trial my grandfather stood upon his innocence, related the events
exactly as they had happened, and, as was reasonable, demanded that the
beaver-trapper should be examined too. He, however, was nowhere to be
found, was already over the hills and far away. He was sought
everywhere. But the blood-thirsty judge of the criminal court, to whom
the time became tedious, ordered my grandfather three times in
succession to be brought to torture. He, however, continued steadfast in
his assertion.

At last the hero of the beavers was found. He was examined; and as he
straightway denied the whole affair, he also was put to the test of
torture. Thereupon at once he blabbed the whole story. He declared that,
some time before, he had found this dead body in the water, and was
going to bring it to the parsonage for burial. The parson however had
said to him, "There is plenty of time for the burial. You know that the
Jews are a hardened race, and are therefore damned to all eternity. They
crucified our Lord Jesus Christ, and even yet they seek Christian blood,
if only they can get hold of it for their passover, which is instituted
as a sign of their triumph. They use it for their passover-cake. You
will therefore do a meritorious work, if you can smuggle this dead body
into the house of the damned Jew of a farmer. You must of course clear
out, but your trade you can drive anywhere."

On this confession the fellow was whipped out of the place, and my
grandfather set free; but the pope remained pope.

For an everlasting memorial of this deliverance of my grandfather from
death, my father composed in Hebrew a sort of epopee, in which the whole
event was narrated, and the goodness of God was sung. It was also made a
law, that the day of his deliverance should be celebrated in the family
every year, when this poem should be recited in the same way as the Book
of Esther at the festival of Haman.[11]


First Reminiscences of Youth.

In this manner my grandfather lived for many years in the place where
his forefathers had dwelt; his farm had become, as it were, a property
of the family. By the Jewish ceremonial law the _Chazakah_, that is, the
right of property in an estate, is acquired by three years' possession;
and the right is respected even by Christians in this neighbourhood. In
virtue of this law no other Jew could try to get possession of the farm
by a _Hosaphah_, that is, an offer of higher rent, if he would not bring
down upon himself the Jewish excommunication. Although the possession of
the farm was accompanied with many hardships and even oppressions, yet
it was from another point of view very lucrative. My grandfather could
not only live as a well-to-do man, but also provide richly for his

His three daughters were well dowered, and married to excellent men. His
two sons, my uncle Moses and my father Joshua, were married likewise;
and when he became old, and enfeebled by the hardships to which he had
been exposed, he gave over the management of the house to his two sons
in common. These were of different temperaments and inclinations, my
uncle Moses being of strong bodily constitution, but inferior
intelligence, while my father was the opposite; and consequently they
could not work together well. My grandfather therefore gave over to my
uncle another village, and kept my father by himself, although from his
profession as a scholar my father was not particularly adapted for the
occupations of household-management. He merely kept accounts, made
contracts, conducted processes at law, and attended to other matters of
the same sort. My mother, on the other hand, was a very lively woman,
well disposed to all sorts of occupations. She was small of stature, and
at that time still very young.

An anecdote I cannot avoid touching on here, because it is the earliest
reminiscence from the years of my youth. I was about three years old at
the time. The merchants, who put up constantly at the place, and
especially the _shaffers_, that is, the nobles who undertook the
navigation, the purchase and delivery of goods, for the higher nobility,
were extremely fond of me on account of my liveliness, and made all
sorts of fun with me. These merry gentlemen gave my mother, on account
of her small stature and liveliness, the nickname of _Kuza_, that is, a
young filly.[12] As I heard them often call her by this name, and knew
nothing of its meaning, I also called her _Mama Kuza_. My mother rebuked
me for this, and said, "God punishes any one who calls his mother _Mama
Kuza_." One of these _Shaffers_, Herr Piliezki, used every day to take
tea in our house, and enticed me to his side by giving me at times a bit
of sugar. One morning while he was drinking his tea, when I had placed
myself in the usual position for receiving the sugar, he said he would
give it to me only on condition that I should say _Mama Kuza_. Now as my
mother was present, I refused to do it. He made a sign therefore to my
mother to go into an adjoining room. As soon as she had shut the door, I
went to him and whispered into his ear, _Mama Kuza_. He insisted however
that I should say it out loud, and promised to give me a piece of sugar
for each time that it was spoken. Accordingly I said, "Herr Piliezki
wants me to say _Mama Kuza_; but I will not say _Mama Kuza_, because God
punishes any one who says _Mama Kuza_." Thereupon I got my three pieces
of sugar.

My father introduced into the house a more refined mode of life,
especially as he traded with Königsberg in Prussia, where he procured
all sorts of pretty and useful articles. He provided himself with tin
and brass utensils; we began to have better meals, to wear finer
clothes, than before; I was even clad in damask.


Private Education and Independent Study.

In my sixth year my father began to read the Bible with me. "In the
beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Here I interrupted my
father, and asked, "But, papa, who created God?"

"God was not created by any one," replied my father; "He existed from
all eternity."

"Did he exist ten years ago?" I asked again.

"O yes," my father said, "He existed even a hundred years ago."

"Then perhaps," I continued, "God is already a thousand years old?"

"Silence! God was eternal."

"But," I insisted, "He must surely have been born at some time."

"You little fool," said my father, "No! He was for ever and ever and

With this answer I was not indeed satisfied; but I thought "Surely papa
must know better than I, and with that I must therefore be content."

This mode of representation is very natural in early youth, when the
understanding is still undeveloped, while the imagination is in full
bloom. The understanding seeks merely to grasp, the imagination to grasp
all round.[13] That is to say, the understanding seeks to make the
origin of an object conceivable, without considering, whether the
object, whose origin is known, can also be actually represented by us or
not. The imagination, on the other hand, seeks to gather into a complete
image something, the origin of which is to us unknown. Thus, for
example, an infinite series of numbers, which progresses according to a
definite law, is for the understanding an object, to which by this law
definite qualities are attached, and an object just as good as a finite
series, which progresses according to the same law. For the imagination,
on the other hand, the latter indeed is an object; but not the former,
because it cannot grasp the former as a completed whole.

A long time afterwards, when I was staying in Breslau, this
consideration suggested to me a thought, which I expressed in an essay
that I laid before Professor Garve, and which, though at the time I knew
nothing of the Kantian philosophy, still constitutes its foundation. I
explained this somewhat in the following way:--The metaphysicians
necessarily fall into self-contradiction. According to the confession
of Leibnitz himself, who in this appeals to the experiment of Archimedes
with the lever, the Law of Sufficient Reason or Causality is a principle
of experience. Now, it is quite true that in experience everything is
found to have a cause; but for the very reason, that _every_ thing has a
cause, nothing can be met with in experience which is a _first_ cause,
that is, a cause which has no cause to itself. How then can the
metaphysicians infer from this law the existence of a first cause?

Afterwards I found this objection more particularly developed in the
Kantian philosophy, where it is shown that the Category of Cause, or the
form of hypothetical judgments used in reference to the objects of
nature, by which their relation to one another is determined _a priori_,
can be applied only to objects of experience through an _a priori_
schema. The first cause, which implies a complete infinite series of
causes, and therefore in fact a contradiction, since the infinite can
never be complete, is not an object of the understanding, but an idea of
reason, or, according to my theory, a fiction of the imagination, which,
not content with the mere knowledge of the law, seeks to gather the
multiplicity, which is subject to the law, into an image, though in
opposition to the law itself.

On another occasion I read in the Bible the story of Jacob and Esau; and
in this connection my father quoted the passage from the Talmud, where
it is said, "Jacob and Esau divided between them all the blessings of
the world. Esau chose the blessings of this life, Jacob, on the
contrary, those of the future life; and since we are descended from
Jacob, we must give up all claim to temporal blessings." On this I said
with indignation, "Jacob should not have been a fool; he should rather
have chosen the blessings of this world." Unfortunately I got for
answer, "You ungodly rascal!" and a box on the ear. This did not of
course remove my doubt, but it brought me to silence at least.

The Prince Radzivil, who was a great lover of the chase, came one day
with his whole court to hunt in the neighbourhood of our village. Among
the party was his daughter who afterwards married Prince Rawuzki. The
young princess, in order to enjoy rest at noon, betook herself with the
ladies of her court, the servants in waiting and the lackeys, to the
very room, where as a boy I was sitting behind the stove. I was struck
with astonishment at the magnificence and splendour of the court, gazed
with rapture at the beauty of the persons and at the dresses with their
trimmings of gold and silver lace; I could not satisfy my eyes with the
sight. My father came just as I was out of myself with joy, and had
broken into the words, "O how beautiful!" In order to calm me, and at
the same time to confirm me in the principles of our faith, he whispered
into my ear, "Little fool, in the other world the _duksel_ will kindle
the _pezsure_ for us," which means, In the future life the princess will
kindle the stove for us. No one can conceive the sort of feeling which
this statement produced in me. On the one hand, I believed my father,
and was very glad about this future happiness in store for us; but I
felt at the same time pity for the poor princess who was going to be
doomed to such a degrading service. On the other hand, I could not get
it into my head, that this beautiful rich princess in this splendid
dress should ever make a fire for a poor Jew. I was thrown into the
greatest perplexity on the subject, till some game drove these thoughts
out of my head.

I had from childhood a great inclination and talent for drawing. True, I
had in my father's house never a chance of seeing a work of art, but I
found on the title-page of some Hebrew books woodcuts of foliage, birds
and so forth. I felt great pleasure in these woodcuts, and made an
effort to imitate them with a bit of chalk or charcoal. What however
strengthened this inclination in me still more was a Hebrew book of
fables, in which the personages who play their part in the fables--the
animals--were represented in such woodcuts. I copied all the figures
with the greatest exactness. My father admired indeed my skill in this,
but rebuked me at the same time in these words, "You want to become a
painter? You are to study the Talmud, and become a rabbi. He who
understands the Talmud, understands everything."

This desire and faculty for painting went with me so far, that when my
father had settled in H----, where there was a manor-house with some
beautifully tapestried rooms, which were constantly unoccupied because
the landlord resided elsewhere, and very seldom visited the place, I
used to steal away from home whenever I could, to copy the figures on
the tapestries. I was found once in mid-winter half-frozen, standing
before the wall, holding the paper in one hand (for there was no
furniture in this apartment), and with the other hand copying the
figures off the wall. Yet I judge of myself at present, that, if I had
kept to it, I should have become a _great_, but not an _exact_, painter,
that is to say, I sketched with ease the main features of a picture, but
had not the patience to work it out in detail.

My father had in his study a cupboard containing books. He had forbidden
me indeed to read any books but the Talmud. This, however, was of no
avail: as he was occupied the most of his time with household affairs, I
took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded. Under the impulse of
curiosity I made a raid upon the cupboard and glanced over all the
books. The result was, that, as I had already a fair knowledge of
Hebrew, I found more pleasure in some of these books than in the Talmud.
And this result was surely natural. Take the subjects of the Talmud,
which, with the exception of those relating to jurisprudence, are dry
and mostly unintelligible to a child--the laws of sacrifice, of
purification, of forbidden meats, of feasts, and so forth--in which the
oddest rabbinical conceits are elaborated through many volumes with the
finest dialectic, and the most absurd questions are discussed with the
highest efforts of intellectual power; for example, how many white hairs
may a red cow have, and yet remain a _red_ cow; what sorts of scabs
require this or that sort of purification; whether a louse or a flea may
be killed on the Sabbath,--the first being allowed, while the second is
a deadly sin;--whether the slaughter of an animal ought to be executed
at the neck or the tail; whether the highpriest put on his shirt or his
hose first; whether the _Jabam_, that is, the brother of a man who died
childless, being required by law to marry the widow, is relieved from
his obligation if he falls off a roof and sticks in the mire. _Ohe jam
satis est!_ Compare these glorious disputations, which are served up to
young people and forced on them even to disgust, with history, in which
natural events are related in an instructive and agreeable manner, with
a knowledge of the world's structure, by which the outlook into nature
is widened, and the vast whole is brought into a well-ordered system;
surely my preference will be justified.

The most valuable books in the collection were four. There was a Hebrew
chronicle under the title of _Zemach David_,[14] written by a sensible
chief rabbi in Prague, named Rabbi David Gans. He was also the author
of the astronomical book spoken of in the sequel, and he had had the
honour of being acquainted with Tycho Brahe, and of making astronomical
observations with him in the Observatory at Copenhagen. There were
besides, a Josephus, which was evidently garbled, and a History of the
Persecutions of the Jews in Spain. But what attracted me most powerfully
was an astronomical work. In this work a new world was opened to me, and
I gave myself up to the study with the greatest diligence. Think of a
child about seven years of age, in my position, with an astronomical
work thrown in his way, and exciting his interest. I had never seen or
heard anything of the first elements of mathematics, and I had no one to
give me any direction in the study: for it is needless to say, that to
my father I dared not even let my curiosity in the matter be known, and,
apart from that, he was not in a position to give me any information on
the subject. How must the spirit of a child, thirsting for knowledge,
have been inflamed by such a discovery! This the result will show.

As I was still a child, and the beds in my father's house were few, I
was allowed to sleep with my old grandmother, whose bed stood in the
above-mentioned study. As I was obliged during the day to occupy myself
solely with the study of the Talmud, and durst not take another book in
my hand, I devoted the evenings to my astronomical inquiries.
Accordingly after my grandmother had gone to bed, I put some fresh wood
on the fire, made for the cupboard, and took out my beloved astronomical
book. My grandmother indeed scolded me, because it was too cold for the
old lady to lie alone in bed; but I did not trouble myself about that,
and continued my study till the fire was burnt out.

After I had carried this on for some evenings, I came to the description
of the celestial sphere and its imaginary circles, designed for the
explanation of astronomical phenomena. This was represented in the book
by a single figure, in connection with which the author gave the reader
the good advice, that, since the manifold circles could not be
represented in a plane figure except by straight lines, he should, for
the sake of rendering them more clearly intelligible, make for himself
either an ordinary globe or an armillary sphere. I therefore formed the
resolution to make such a sphere out of twisted rods; and after I had
finished this work, I was in a position to understand the whole book.
But as I had to take care lest my father should find out how I had been
occupied, I always hid my armillary sphere in a corner behind the
cupboard before I went to bed.

My grandmother, who had on several occasions observed that I was wholly
absorbed in my reading, but now and then lifted my eyes to look at a
number of circles formed of twisted rods laid on one another, fell into
the greatest consternation over the matter; she believed nothing less
than that her grandson had lost his wits. She did not delay, therefore,
to tell my father, and point out to him the place where the magical
instrument was kept. He soon guessed what was the meaning of this.
Accordingly he took the sphere in his hand, and sent for me. When I
came, he asked me, "What sort of plaything is this?"

"It is a _Kadur_,[15]" I replied.

"What does it mean?" he asked.

I then explained to him the use of all the circles for the purpose of
making the celestial phenomena intelligible. My father, who was a good
rabbi indeed, but had no special talent for science, could not
comprehend all that I endeavoured to make comprehensible. He was
especially puzzled, by the comparison of my armillary sphere with the
figure in the book, to understand how out of straight lines circles
should be evolved; but one thing he could see,--that I was sure of my
business. He therefore scolded me, it is true, because I had
transgressed his command to meddle with nothing beyond the Talmud; but
still he felt a secret pleasure, that his young son, without a guide or
previous training, had been able by himself to master an entire work of
science. And with this the affair came to an end.


Jewish Schools--The Joy of being released from them causes a stiff foot.

My brother Joseph and I were sent to Mir to school. My brother, who was
about twelve years old, was put to board with a schoolmaster of some
repute at that time, by name Jossel. This man was the terror of all
young people, "the scourge of God;" he treated those in his charge with
unheard of cruelty, flogged them till the blood came, even for the
slightest offence, and not infrequently tore off their ears, or beat
their eyes out. When the parents of these unfortunates came to him, and
brought him to task, he struck them with stones or whatever else came to
hand, and drove them with his stick out of the house back to their own
dwellings, without any respect of persons. All under his discipline
became either blockheads or good scholars. I, who was then only seven
years old, was sent to another schoolmaster.

An anecdote I must here relate, which shows on the one side great
brotherly love, and on the other may be viewed as expressing the
condition of a child's mind, that sways between the hope of lightening
an evil, and the fear of increasing it. One day as I came from school,
my eyes were all red with weeping, for which there was doubtless good
cause. My brother observed this, and asked the reason. At first I showed
some hesitation in answering; but at last I said, "I weep because we
dare not tell tales out of school." My brother understood me very well,
was extremely indignant at my teacher, and was going to read him a
lesson on the subject. I begged him however not to do it, because in all
probability the teacher would take his revenge on me for telling tales
out of school.

I must now say something of the condition of the Jewish schools in
general. The school is commonly a small smoky hut, and the children are
scattered, some on benches, some on the bare earth. The master, in a
dirty blouse sitting on the table, holds between his knees a bowl, in
which he grinds tobacco into snuff with a huge pestle like the club of
Hercules, while at the same time he wields his authority. The ushers
give lessons, each in his own corner, and rule those under their charge
quite as despotically as the master himself. Of the breakfast, lunch,
and other food sent to the school for the children, these gentlemen keep
the largest share for themselves. Sometimes even the poor youngsters get
nothing at all; and yet they dare not make any complaint on the subject,
if they will not expose themselves to the vengeance of these tyrants.
Here the children are imprisoned from morning to night, and have not an
hour to themselves, except on Friday and a half-holiday at the Newmoon.

As far as study is concerned, the reading of Hebrew at least is pretty
regularly learned. On the other hand, with the mastery of the Hebrew
language very seldom is any progress made. Grammar is not treated in the
school at all, but has to be learnt _ex usu_, by translation of the Holy
Scriptures, very much as the ordinary man learns imperfectly the grammar
of his mother-tongue by social intercourse. Moreover there is no
dictionary of the Hebrew language. The children therefore begin at once
with the explanation of the Bible. This is divided into as many sections
as there are weeks in the year, in order that the Books of Moses, which
are read in the synagogues every Saturday, may be read through in a
year. Accordingly every week some verses from the beginning of the
section proper to the week are explained in school, and that with every
possible grammatical blunder. Nor can it well be otherwise. For the
Hebrew must be explained by means of the mother-tongue. But the
mother-tongue of the Polish Jews is itself full of defects and
grammatical inaccuracies; and as a matter of course therefore also the
Hebrew language, which is learned by its means, must be of the same
stamp. The pupil thus acquires just as little knowledge of the language,
as of the contents, of the Bible.

In addition to this the Talmudists have fastened all sorts of
extraordinary conceits on the Bible. The ignorant teacher believes with
confidence, that the Bible cannot in reality have any other meaning than
that which these expositions ascribe to it; and the pupil must follow
his teacher's faith, so that the right understanding of words
necessarily becomes lost. For example, in the first Book of Moses it is
said, "Jacob sent messengers to his brother Esau, etc." Now, the
Talmudists were pleased to give out, that these messengers were angels.
For though the word _Malachim_ in Hebrew denotes messenger as well as
angels, these marvel-mongers preferred the second signification, because
the first contains nothing marvellous. The pupil therefore holds the
belief firm and fast, that Malachim denotes nothing but angels; and the
natural meaning of messengers is for him wholly lost. A correct
knowledge of the Hebrew language and a sound exegesis can be attained
only gradually by independent study and by reading grammars and critical
commentaries on the Bible, like those of Rabbi David Kimchi[16] and Aben
Esra; but of these very few rabbis make use.

As the children are doomed in the bloom of youth to such an infernal
school, it may be easily imagined with what joy and rapture they look
forward to their release. We, that is, my brother and I, were taken home
to the great feasts; and it was on a trip of this sort, that the
following incident happened, which in relation to me was very critical.
My mother came once before Whitsuntide to the town where we were at
school, in order to purchase sundry articles required for the house. She
then took us home with her. The release from school, and the sight of
the beauty of nature which at this season displays its best attire,
threw us into such ecstasy, that we fell upon all sorts of wanton
fancies. When we were not far from home, my brother sprang out of the
carriage, and ran forward on foot. I was going to imitate his daring
leap, but unfortunately had not sufficient strength. I fell down
therefore with violence on the carriage, so that my legs came between
the wheels, and one of these passed over my left leg, which was thereby
pitiably crushed. I was carried home half-dead. My foot became cramped,
and I was wholly unable to move it.

A Jewish doctor was consulted, who had not indeed regularly studied and
graduated at a university, but had acquired his medical knowledge merely
by serving with a physician and reading some medical books in the
Polish language, who was nevertheless a very good practical physician,
and effected many successful cures. He said that at present he was
provided with no medicines,--the nearest apothecary's shop was about
twenty miles[17] distant,--and consequently he could prescribe nothing
in the ordinary method, but that meanwhile a simple domestic remedy
might be applied. The remedy was, to kill a dog and thrust into it the
cramped foot; this, repeated several times, was to give certain relief.
The prescription was followed with the desired result, so that after
some weeks I was able to use the foot again, and by degrees I completely

I think it would not be at all amiss, if medical men gave more attention
to such domestic remedies, which are used with good results in districts
where there are no regular physicians or apothecaries' shops; they might
even make special journeys with this end in view. I know many a case of
this sort, which can be in nowise explained away. This however in
passing. I return to my story.


My Family is driven into Misery, and an old Servant loses by his great
Faithfulness a Christian Burial.

My father, who, as already mentioned, traded with Königsberg in Prussia,
had once shipped in a vessel of Prince Radzivil's some barrels of salt
and herrings which he had bought there. When he came home and was going
to fetch his goods, the agent, Schachna, absolutely refused to let him
take them. My father then showed the bill of lading, which he had got on
the shipment of the goods; but the agent tore it out of his hands, and
threw it into the fire. My father found himself therefore compelled to
carry on a long and costly suit, which he had to delay till the
following year, when he would again make a journey to Königsberg. Here
he obtained a certificate from the custom-house, showing that he had
shipped the said goods in a vessel of Prince Radzivil's under the
direction of Herr Schachna. On this certificate the agent was summoned
before the court, but found it convenient not to make an appearance; and
my father gained the suit in the first, second, and third instances. In
spite of this, however, as a consequence of the wretched administration
of justice in Poland at the time, my father had no power to execute
this decision, and therefore from this successful suit he did not even
recover the costs.

To this was added the further result, that by this suit he made Herr
Schachna an enemy who persecuted him now in every possible way. This the
cunning scoundrel could accomplish very well, as by all sorts of
intrigues he had been appointed by Prince Radzivil steward of all his
estates situated in the district of Mir. He resolved therefore on my
father's ruin, and only waited for a convenient opportunity to carry out
his revenge.

This he found soon; and indeed a Jew, who was named after his farm
Schwersen, and was known as the biggest scoundrel in the whole
neighbourhood, offered him a hand. This fellow was an ignoramus, did not
even understand the Jewish language, and made use therefore of Russian.
He occupied himself mainly in examining the farms in the neighbourhood,
and he knew how to get possession of the most lucrative among them by
offering a higher rent and bribing the steward. Without troubling
himself in the least about the laws of the _Chazakah_,[18] he drove the
old legal farmers from their possessions, and enriched himself by this
means. He thus lived in wealth and fortune, and in this state reached an
advanced age.

The scoundrel had already for a long time had his eye on my
grandfather's farm, and waited merely for a favourable opportunity and a
plausible pretext to get possession of it himself. Unfortunately my
granduncle Jacob, who lived in another village belonging to my
grandfather's farm, had been obliged to become a debtor of the scoundrel
to the amount of about fifty rix-dollars. As he could not clear off the
debt at the time when it was due, his creditor came with some servants
of the manor, and threatened to seize the cauldron, in which my
granduncle's whole wealth consisted. In consternation he loaded a waggon
secretly with the cauldron, drove with all haste to my grandfather's,
and, without letting any of us know, hid it in the adjoining marsh
behind the house. His creditor, however, who followed on his heels, came
to my grandfather's, and made search all over, but could find the
cauldron nowhere. Irritated at this unsuccessful stroke, and breathing
vengeance against my grandfather who, he believed, had prevented his
success, he rode to the town, carried to the steward an imposing
present, and offered for my grandfather's farm double the rent, besides
an annual voluntary present to the steward.

This gentleman, joyous over such an offer, and mindful of the disgrace
which my father, a Jew, had brought upon him, a Polish noble, by the
above-mentioned suit, made on the spot a contract with the scoundrel, by
which he not only gave over to him this farm with all the rights
pertaining to it even before the end of my grandfather's lease, but
also robbed my grandfather of all he had,--his barns full of grain, his
cattle, etc.,--and shared the plunder with the new farmer.

My grandfather was therefore obliged with his whole family to quit his
dwelling-place in mid-winter, and, without knowing where he should
settle again, to wander about from place to place. Our departure from
this place was very affecting. The whole neighbourhood lamented our
fate. An old and faithful servant of eighty years, named Gabriel, who
had carried in his arms even my grandfather as a child, insisted on
going with us. Representations were made to him on the severity of the
season, our unfortunate situation, and the uncertainty in which we
ourselves were placed as to our future destiny. But it was of no avail.
He placed himself on the road before the gate, by which our waggons had
to pass, and lamented so long that we were obliged to take him up. He
did not however travel with us long: his advanced age, his grief over
our misery, and the severe season gave him soon the finishing stroke. He
died when we had gone scarcely two or three miles; and as no Catholic or
Russian community would allow him burial in their churchyard--he was a
Prussian and a Lutheran--he was buried at our expense in the open


New Abode, new Misery--The Talmudist.

We wandered about therefore in the country, like the Israelites in the
wilderness of Arabia, without knowing where or when we should find a
place of rest. At last we came to a village which belonged to two
landlords. The one part was already leased; but the landlord of the
other could not lease his, because he had still to build a house. Weary
of wandering in winter-time with a whole family, my grandfather resolved
to take a lease of this house, which was still to be built, along with
its appurtenances, and meanwhile, till the house was ready, to make
shift as well as he could. Accordingly we were obliged to take up our
quarters in a barn. The other farmer did all in his power to prevent our
settlement in the place; but it was of no avail. The building was
finished, we took possession, and began to keep house.

Unfortunately however everything went backward here; nothing would
succeed. An addition came to our misfortunes in my mother's illness.
Being of a very lively temperament and disposed to a life of activity,
she found here the weariness of having nothing to do. This, with her
anxiety about the means of subsistence, threw her into a state of
melancholy, which developed at last into insanity. In this condition she
remained for some months. Everything was tried for her benefit, but
without success. At last my father hit upon the idea of taking her to a
celebrated doctor at Novogrod, who made a specialty of curing mental

The method of cure employed by this specialist is unknown to me, because
I was at the time too young to wish or be able to institute inquiries on
the subject; but so much I can declare with certainty, that in the case
of my mother, as well as most of his patients afflicted with the same
malady, the treatment was followed with success. My mother returned home
fresh and healthy, and from that time she never had an attack of the
same sort.

Immediately after this I was sent to school at Iwenez, about fifteen
miles from our abode, and here I began to study the Talmud. The study of
the Talmud is the chief object of a learned education among our people.
Riches, bodily advantages, and talents of every kind have indeed in
their eyes a certain worth, and are esteemed in proportion; but nothing
stands among them above the dignity of a good Talmudist. He has the
first claim upon all offices and positions of honour in the community.
If he enters an assembly,--he may be of any age or rank,--every one
rises before him most respectfully, and the most honourable place is
assigned to him. He is director of the conscience, lawgiver and judge
of the common man. He, who does not meet such a scholar with sufficient
respect, is, according to the judgment of the Talmudists, damned to all
eternity. The common man dare not enter upon the most trivial
undertaking, if, in the judgment of the scholar, it is not according to
law. Religious usages, allowed and forbidden meats, marriage and divorce
are determined not only by the rabbinical laws which have already
accumulated to an enormous mass, but also by special rabbinical
judgments which profess to deduce all special cases from the general
laws. A wealthy merchant, farmer or professional man, who has a
daughter, does everything in his power to get a good Talmudist for his
son-in-law. As far as other matters are concerned, the scholar may be as
deformed, diseased, and ignorant as possible, he will still have the
advantage over others. The future father-in-law of such a phoenix is
obliged, at the betrothal, to pay to the parents of the youth a sum
fixed by previous agreement; and besides the dowry for his daughter, he
is further obliged to provide her and her husband with food, clothing,
and lodging, for six or eight years after their marriage, during which
time the interest on the dowry is paid, so that the learned son-in-law
may continue his studies at his father-in-law's expense. After this
period he receives the dowry in hand, and then he is either promoted to
some learned office, or he spends his whole life in learned leisure. In
either case the wife undertakes the management of the household and the
conduct of business; and she is content if only in return for all her
toils she becomes in some measure a partaker of her husband's fame and
future blessedness.

The study of the Talmud is carried on just as irregularly as that of the
Bible. The language of the Talmud is composed of various Oriental
languages and dialects; there is even many a word in it from Greek and
Latin. There is no dictionary, in which you can turn up the expressions
and phrases met with in the Talmud; and, what is still worse, as the
Talmud is not pointed, you cannot even tell how such words, that are not
pure Hebrew, are to be read. The language of the Talmud, therefore, like
that of the Bible, is learned only through frequent translation; and
this constitutes the _first_ stage in the study of the Talmud.

When the pupil has been directed for some time in translation by the
teacher, he goes on to the independent reading or explanation of the
Talmud. The teacher gives him a limited portion of the Talmud,
containing within itself a connected argument, as a task in exposition,
which he must perform within a fixed time. The particular expressions
and forms of speech occurring in the passage must either be known by the
pupil from his former lessons, or the teacher, who here takes the place
of a dictionary, explains them to him. But the tenor and the entire
connection of the prescribed passage the pupil is required to bring out
himself; and this constitutes the second stage in the study of the

Two commentaries, which are commonly printed along with the text, serve
as the chief guides at this point. The author of the one is Rabbi
Solomon Isaac,[19] a man gifted with grammatical and critical knowledge
of language, with extensive and thorough Talmudic insight, and with an
uncommon precision of style. The other is known by the title of
_Tosaphoth (Additions)_, and is the work of several rabbis. Its origin
is very remarkable. A number of the most famous rabbis agreed to study
the Talmud in company. For this purpose each selected a separate
portion, which he studied by himself till he believed that he had fully
comprehended it, and retained it in memory. Afterwards all the rabbis
met, and began to study the Talmud in company according to the order of
its parts. As soon as the first part had been read out, thoroughly
explained, and settled according to the Talmudic Logic, one of the
rabbis produced, from the part of the Talmud with which he was most
familiar, anything that appeared to contradict this passage. Another
then adduced, from the part which he had made thoroughly his own, a
passage which was able to remove this contradiction by means of some
distinction or some qualification unexpressed in the preceding passage.
Sometimes the removal of such a contradiction occasioned another, which
a third rabbi disclosed, and a fourth laboured to remove, till the first
passage was explained harmoniously by all, and made perfectly clear. It
may easily be imagined, what a high degree of subtlety is required to
reduce the Talmud to first principles, from which correct inferences may
be drawn after an uniform method; for the Talmud is a voluminous and
heterogeneous work, in which even the same subject often turns up in
different passages, where it is explained in different ways.

Besides these two there are several other commentaries which treat the
subject further, and even make corrections on the two just mentioned.
Indeed, every rabbi, if he possesses sufficient acuteness, is to be
viewed as a living commentary on the Talmud. But the highest effort of
the mind is required to prepare a selection from the Talmud or a code of
the laws deducible from it. This implies not only acuteness, but also a
mind in the highest degree systematic. Herein our Maimonides undoubtedly
deserves the first rank, as may be seen from his code, _Jad Hachazekah_.

The _final_ stage in the study of the Talmud is that of disputation. It
consists in eternally disputing about the book, without end or aim.
Subtlety, loquacity, and impertinence here carry the day. This sort of
study was formerly very common in the Jewish high schools;[20] but in
our times along with the schools it has also fallen into decay. It is a
kind of Talmudic scepticism, and utterly incompatible with any
systematic study directed to some end.


Joy endureth but a little while.

After this digression on the study of the Talmud I return to my story.
As already mentioned, I was sent to school at Iwenez. My father gave me
a letter to the chief rabbi of this place, who was a relation of ours,
requesting him to give me in charge to an able teacher, and to give some
attention to the progress of my studies. He gave me however in charge to
a common schoolmaster, and told me I was to visit him every Sabbath in
order that he might examine me himself. This injunction I punctually
followed; but the arrangement did not continue long; for at one of these
examinations I began to dispute about my lessons and suggest
difficulties, when, without replying to them, the chief rabbi asked me
if I had stated these difficulties to my teacher also.

"Of course," I replied.

"And what did he say?" asked the chief rabbi.

"Nothing to the point," I replied, "except that he enjoined silence on
me, and said, 'A youngster must not be too inquisitive; he must see to
it merely that he understands his lesson, but must not overwhelm his
teacher with questions.'"

"Ah!" said the chief rabbi, "your teacher is altogether too easy, we
must make a change. I will give you instruction myself. I will do it
merely out of friendship, and I hope that your father will have as
little to say against it as your former teacher. The fee which your
father pays for your education, will be given to your teacher without

In this way I got the chief rabbi for a teacher. He struck out a way of
his own with me. No weekly lessons repeated till they are impressed on
the memory, no tasks which the pupil is obliged to perform for himself,
and in which the course of his thoughts is very often arrested for the
sake of a single word or a figure of speech, which has little to do with
the main subject. His method distinguished itself from all this. He made
me explain something from the Talmud _ex tempore_ in his presence,
conversed with me on the subject, explained to me so much as was
necessary to set my own mind in activity, and by means of questions and
answers turned my attention away from all side-issues to the main
subject, so that in a short time I passed through all the three
above-mentioned stages in the study of the Talmud.

My father, to whom the chief rabbi gave an account of his plan with me
and of my progress, went beside himself with joy. He returned his
warmest thanks to this excellent man for putting himself to so much
trouble with me out of mere friendship, and that notwithstanding his
delicate state of health, for he was consumptive. But this joy did not
last long; before a half year was ended, the chief rabbi had to betake
himself to his fathers, and I was left like a sheep without a shepherd.

This was announced to my father, who came and fetched me home. Not,
however, to H----, from which I had been sent to school, but to Mohilna,
about six miles from H----, whither my father had meanwhile removed.
This new change of abode had taken place in the following way.

Mohilna is a small hamlet in the territory of Prince Radzivil four miles
from Nesvij, his residence. The situation of this place is excellent.
Having the river Niemen on one side, and on the other a large quantity
of the best timber for ships, it is adapted equally for trade and for
shipbuilding. Moreover the district in itself possesses great fertility
and amenity. These facts could not escape the attention of the Prince.
The farmer or _arendant_ of the place, whose family for some generations
had been in possession of this lucrative farm, and had become rich by
means of the shipbuilding trade, and the numerous fine products of the
district, took all possible pains to prevent these great advantages from
being observed, in order that he might be able to enjoy them alone
without being disturbed. But it happened once that the prince was
travelling through the place, and was so taken with its beauty, that he
resolved to make a town of it. He sketched a plan for this, and made an
announcement that the place was to be a _Slabode_; that is, every one
was to be at liberty to settle in the place, and drive any kind of
trade, and was even to be free from all taxes for the first six years.
For a long time, however, this plan was never carried out, owing to all
sorts of intrigues on the part of the arendant, who went so far as even
to bribe the advisers of the prince to turn his attention away from the

My father, who saw clearly that the miserable farm of H---- could not
support him and his family, and had been obliged to remain there
hitherto only from want of a better abode, rejoiced very much at the
announcement, because he hoped that Mohilna would offer him a place of
refuge, especially as the arendant was a brother-in-law of my uncle. In
this connection he made a journey to the place with my grandfather, had
a conversation with the arendant, and opened to him his proposal to
settle in Mohilna with his consent. The arendant, who had feared that,
on the announcement of the prince's wish, people would stream in from
all sides, and press him out of his possession, was delighted that at
least the first who settled there was not a stranger, but related to his
family by marriage. He therefore not only gave his consent to the
proposal, but even promised my father all possible assistance.
Accordingly my father removed with his whole family to Mohilna, and had
a small house built for himself there; but till it was ready, the family
were obliged once more to take up their quarters in a barn.

The arendant, by whom at first we were received in a friendly manner,
had unfortunately meanwhile changed his mind, and found that his fear of
being pressed out of his possession by strangers was wholly without
ground, inasmuch as already a considerable time had passed since the
announcement of the prince's wish, and yet nobody had presented himself
besides my father. The prince, as a Polish chief and _Voivode_ in
Lithuania, was constantly burdened too much with State affairs in
Warsaw, to be able to think on the carrying out of his plan himself; and
his subordinates could be induced by bribes to frustrate the whole plan.
These considerations showed the arendant that the new-comer could not
only be spared, but was even a burden, inasmuch as he had now to share
with another what he had before held in possession alone. He sought
therefore to restrict my father, and to disturb him in his settlement,
as much as possible. With this view he built for himself a splendid
house, and succeeded in obtaining a command from the prince, in
accordance with which none of the newcomers should enjoy the rights of a
burgher till he had built a similar house. My father saw himself
therefore compelled to waste his little fortune, which was indispensably
required for the new arrangements, wholly and solely on this useless


The Pupil knows more than the Teacher--A theft _à la Rousseau_, which is
discovered--"The ungodly provideth, and the righteous putteth it on."

My father's condition had thus externally an improved appearance, but so
much the more doubtful did it appear internally on that account. My
mother, notwithstanding her unwearied activity, was able to make only a
very sorry provision for the family. Accordingly my father was obliged
to seek, in addition to his other duties, a position as teacher, in
which he carried on my education; and I must confess that in this
connection I gave him, on the one hand, much joy, but, on the other
hand, not a little vexation. I was then indeed only about nine years
old; still, I could not only understand the Talmud and its commentaries
correctly, but I even took delight in disputing about it, and in this I
felt a childish pleasure in triumphing over my honest father, whom I
thereby threw into no small perplexity.

The arendant and my father lived together like neighbours; that is, they
envied and hated each other. The former looked on my father as a
vagrant, who had forced himself upon him, and disturbed him in his
undivided possession of the advantages of the place. My father took the
arendant for a wealthy blockhead, who, against the consent which he had
granted, which my father might have dispensed with altogether and had
sought merely from the love of peace, endeavoured in every way to
restrict him and to narrow his rights, notwithstanding the fact that he
received actual advantages from his settlement. For from this time
Mohilna had acquired a sort of independence, by means of which the
arendant was spared many expenses and depreciations. There was also a
small synagogue erected, and my father took the position of chief rabbi,
preacher, and director of the conscience, as he was the only scholar in
the place. He lost, indeed, no opportunity of representing all this to
the arendant, and making complaints of his conduct; but unfortunately
this was of little use.

I must take this opportunity of mentioning the only theft which I ever
perpetrated in my life. I often went to the house of the arendant, and
played with his children. Once, when I entered a room and found no one
there, it being summer and the people of the house all busy out of
doors, I spied in an open closet a neat little medicine-box which
appeared to me uncommonly charming. When I opened it, I found, to my
very great sorrow, some money in it; for it belonged to one of the
children of the house. I could not resist the desire to carry off the
little box; but to take the money seemed to me in the highest degree
shameful. But when I considered that the theft would be all the more
easily discovered if I put the money out, full of fear and shame I took
the box as it was and thrust it in my pocket. I went home with it, and
buried it very carefully. The night following I could not sleep, and was
disquieted in conscience, especially on account of the money. I
resolved, therefore, to take it back; but in regard to the little box, I
could not conquer myself: it was a work of art, the like of which I had
never seen before. The next day I emptied the box of its contents, slunk
with them into the room already mentioned, and waited for an opportunity
when nobody was there. I was already engaged in smuggling the money into
the closet; but I had so little skill in doing this without noise and
with the necessary despatch, that I was caught in the act, and forced to
a confession of the whole theft. I was obliged to dig up again the
valuable work of art,--it must have cost about a quarter of a
groschen,--to return it to its owner, little Moses, and to hear myself
called _thief_ by the children of the house.

Another incident, which happened to me and had a comical issue, was the
following. The Russians had been quartered for some time in Mohilna, and
as they obtained new mountings, they were allowed to sell the old. My
eldest brother Joseph and my cousin Beer applied to Russian
acquaintances of theirs, and received in a present some brass buttons,
which, being considered a fine decoration, they got sewed on to their
hose instead of the wooden buttons they had before. I also was
delighted with the decoration; but as I had not the skill to furnish
myself by my own diligence, I was compelled to make use of force. I
applied, therefore, to my father, and demanded that Joseph and Beer
should be required to share their buttons with me. My father, who,
indeed, was extremely fair, but still was fond of me above everything,
said that the buttons were, of course, the rightful property of their
owners, but that, as these had more than they required for their own
wants, it was but fair that they should give me some of those that they
did not require. To my commendation and their confusion he added the
passage of the Bible, "The ungodly provideth, and the righteous putteth
it on."[21] This decision had to be carried out in spite of the protest
of Joseph and Beer; and I had the pleasure of also shining in brass
buttons on my hose.

Joseph and Beer however could not get over their loss. They complained
loudly of the impious wrong which had been done to them. My father, who
wished to get rid of the affair, told them therefore, that, as the
buttons had been already sewed on to Solomon's hose, they must not use
force, but that, if they could get them back again by stratagem, they
were at liberty to do so. Both were pleased with this decision. They
came to me, looked at my buttons, and both at once exclaimed in
astonishment, "Oh! what is that we see? Buttons sewed on to cloth hose
with linen instead of hemp thread! They must be taken off at once."
While they were speaking, they took off all the buttons, and went off
with joy over their successful stratagem. I ran after them, and demanded
that they should sew the buttons on again; but they laughed me to scorn.
My father said to me smiling at this, "Since you are so credulous, and
allow yourself to be deceived, I cannot help you any longer; I hope you
will be wiser in the future." With this the affair came to an end. I was
obliged to content myself with wooden buttons, and to have often
repeated to my mortification by Joseph and Beer, the biblical passage,
which my father had used to my advantage, "The ungodly provideth, and
the righteous putteth it on."


Love Affairs and Matrimonial Proposals--The Song of Solomon may be used
in Matchmaking--A new _Modus Lucrand_i--Smallpox.

In my youth I was very lively, and had in my nature a good deal that was
agreeable. In my passions I was violent and impatient. Till about my
eleventh year, as I had the benefit of a very strict education, and was
kept from all intercourse with women, I never traced any special
inclination towards the fair sex. But an incident produced in me a great
change in this respect.

A poor, but very pretty, girl about my own age was taken into our house
as a servant. She charmed me uncommonly. Desires began to stir in me,
which till this time I had never known. But in accordance with the
strict rabbinical morals, I was obliged to keep on my guard against
looking on the girl with attentive gaze, and still more against speaking
with her, so that I was able only now and then to throw at her a stolen

It happened once however that the women of the house were going to
bathe, which by the usage of the country they are accustomed to do two
or three times a week. By chance my instinct drove me without
reflection towards the place where they bathed; and there I suddenly
perceived this beautiful girl, as she stepped out of the steam-bath and
plunged into the river flowing by. At this sight I fell into a sort of
rapture. After my feelings had calmed down again, being mindful of the
strict Talmudic laws, I wished to flee. But I could not; I remained
standing, as if rooted in the spot. As I dreaded however lest I might be
surprised here, I was obliged to return with a heavy heart. From that
time I became restless, was sometimes beside myself; and this state
continued till my marriage.

Our neighbour, the arendant, had two sons and three daughters. The
eldest daughter, Deborah, was already married. The second, Pessel, was
about my age; the peasantry of the place professed to find even a
certain resemblance in our features, and therefore, in accordance with
all the laws of probability, conjectured that there would be a match
between us. We formed also a mutual affection. But by ill luck the
youngest daughter, Rachel, had to fall into a cellar and dislocated one
of her legs. She herself, indeed, completely recovered, but the leg
remained somewhat crooked. The arendant then started a hunt after me; he
was absolutely determined to have me for a son-in-law. My father was
quite agreeable, but he wished to have for his daughter-in-law the
straight-legged Pessel rather than Rachel of the crooked leg. The
arendant however declared that this was impracticable, inasmuch as he
had fixed on a rich husband for the elder, while the youngest was
destined for me; and as my father was unable to give me anything, he was
willing to provide for her richly out of his own fortune. Besides a
considerable sum which he agreed to give as a portion, he was willing in
addition to make me a joint-heir of his fortune, and to provide me with
all necessaries the whole of my life. Moreover he promised to pay my
father a fixed sum immediately after the betrothal, and not only to
leave him undisturbed in his rights, but also to try and promote his
domestic happiness in every possible way. The feuds between the two
families were to cease from this time, and a league of friendship was to
unite them for the future into one family.

Had my father lent an ear to these representations, he would without
doubt have established the fortune of his house, and I should have lived
with a spouse, who, it is true, had a crooked leg, but (as I found out
some time afterwards when I was tutor in her family) was in other
respects an amiable woman. I should thus have been freed from all cares
in the midst of good fortune, and I should have been able to apply
myself without hindrance to my studies. But unhappily my father rejected
this proposal with scorn. He was absolutely determined to have Pessel
for his daughter-in-law; and since this, as already mentioned, was
impracticable, the feuds between the two families broke out afresh. But
as the arendant was rich, and my father was a poor man, the latter was
necessarily always the loser.

Some time afterwards another matrimonial proposal for me turned up. Mr.
L---- of Schmilowitz, a learned and at the same time a rich man, who had
an only daughter, was so enchanted with my fame, that he chose me for
his son-in-law without having seen me before. He began by entering into
correspondence with my father on the subject, and left it to him to
prescribe the conditions of the union. My father answered his letter in
lofty style, made up of Biblical verses and passages from the Talmud, in
which he expressed the conditions briefly by means of the following
verses from the Canticles, "The thousand gulden are for thee, O Solomon,
and the two hundred for those who keep his fruits."[22] Consent was
given to everything.

My father accordingly made a journey to Schmilowitz, saw his future
daughter-in-law, and had the marriage-contract drawn in accordance with
the terms agreed upon. Two hundred gulden were paid to him on the spot.
With this, however, he was not content, but insisted that in his letter
he had been obliged to limit himself to two hundred gulden merely for
the sake of the beautiful verse which he did not wish to spoil; but he
would not enter into the transaction at all unless he received for
himself twice two hundred gulden (fifty thalers in Polish money). They
had therefore to pay him two hundred gulden more, and to hand over to
him the so-called little presents for me, namely, a cap of black velvet
trimmed with gold lace, a Bible bound in green velvet with silver
clasps, etc. With these things he came home full of joy, gave me the
presents, and told me that I was to prepare myself for a disputation to
be held on my marriage day, which would be in two months' time.

Already my mother had begun to bake the cakes she was expected to take
with her to the wedding, and to prepare all sorts of preserves; I began
also to think about the disputation I was to hold, when suddenly the
mournful news arrived that my bride had died of smallpox. My father
could easily reconcile himself to this loss, because he thought to
himself that he had made fifty thalers by his son in an honourable way,
and that now he could get fifty thalers for him again. I also, who had
never seen my bride, could not particularly mourn her loss; I thought to
myself, "The cap and the silver-clasped Bible are already mine, and a
bride will also not be awanting long, while my disputation can serve me
again." My mother alone was inconsolable about this loss. Cakes and
preserves are of a perishable nature and will not keep long. The labour
which my mother had expended was therefore rendered fruitless by this
fatal accident; and to this must be added, that she could find no place
to keep the delicious cakes from my secret attacks.


I become an object of contention, get two wives at once, and am
kidnapped at last.

Meanwhile the domestic circumstances of my father became every day
worse. He saw himself, therefore, compelled to make a journey to the
town of Nesvij, and apply for a position as teacher there, whither I
also had to follow him. Here he opened under favourable conditions a
school of his own, in which he could employ me as assistant.

A widow, celebrated for her superior talents, as well as for her
Xanthippe-like character, kept a public-house at the extremity of one of
the suburbs. She had a daughter who yielded to her in none of the
above-mentioned qualities, and who was indispensable to her in the
management of the house. Madam Rissia, (this was the widow's name),
excited by my constantly increasing reputation, fixed on me as a husband
for her daughter Sarah. Her family represented to her the impossibility
of carrying out this plan; first, my father's pride, and the demands
which he would therefore make, and which she could never satisfy; then
my fame, which had already excited the attention of the most prominent
and wealthy people of the town; and finally, the moderate character of
her own fortune, which was far from sufficient to carry out such a
proposal. All these representations, however, were of no avail with her.
She had once for all taken it into her head, to have me for a
son-in-law, let it cost her what it might; and she thought, the devil
would needs be in it, if she could not get the young man.

She sent a proposal to my father, let him have no rest the whole time he
was in the town, discussed the matter with him herself on various
occasions, and promised to satisfy all his demands. My father, however,
sought to gain time for deliberation, and to put off the question for a
while. But the time came when we were to return home. My father went
with me to the widow's house, which was the last on our road, in order
to wait for a conveyance which started from that place. Madam Rissia
made use of the opportunity, began to caress me, introduced my bride,
and asked me how I was pleased with her. At last she pressed for a
decisive answer from my father. He was still always holding back,
however, and sought in every possible way to represent the difficulties
connected with the subject.

While they were thus treating with one another, suddenly there burst
into the room the chief rabbi, the preacher, and the elders of the
place, with many of the most respectable people. This sudden appearance
was brought about without any magic in the following way. These
gentlemen had been invited to a circumcision at the house of a prominent
man in this very suburb. Madam Rissia, who knew this very well, sent her
son at once to the house with an invitation to the whole company to
come, immediately after rising from table, to a betrothal at her house.
They came therefore half intoxicated; and as they believed nothing else
than that all the preliminaries of the marriage-contract had been
settled, and that nothing was awanting but to write out and subscribe
the contract, they sat down to table, set my father in the midst, and
the chief rabbi began to dictate the contract to the scribe of the

My father assured them that on the main point nothing had yet been
decided, and that still less had the preliminary articles been settled.
The chief rabbi fell into a passion at this, for he supposed that it was
only a quibble, and that his sacred person and the whole honourable
company were being made sport of. He turned therefore to the company,
and said with a haughty air, "Who is this Rabbi Joshua, who makes
himself of so much consequence?" My father replied, "The Rabbi is here
superfluous. I am, 'tis true, a common man; but I believe, no man can
dispute my right to care for the welfare of my son, and to place his
future happiness on a firm footing."

The chief rabbi was greatly offended with the ambiguity of the
expression, "The Rabbi is here superfluous." He saw clearly that he had
no right to lay down laws to my father in the matter, and that it was a
piece of rashness on the part of Madam Rissia to invite a company to a
betrothal before the parties were agreed on the preliminary articles. He
began therefore to strike a lower tone. He represented to my father the
advantages of this match, the high ancestry of the bride, (her
grandfather, father, and uncle, having been learned men, and chief
rabbis), her personal attractions, and the willingness and ability of
Madam Rissia to satisfy all his demands.

My father, who in fact had nothing to say against all this, was
compelled to yield. The marriage-contract was made out, and in it Madam
Rissia made over to her daughter her public-house with all its
belongings as a bridal portion, and came under an obligation also to
board and clothe the newly-married couple for six years. Besides I
received as a present the entire work of the Talmud with its
appurtenances, together worth two or three hundred thalers,[23] and a
number of other gifts. My father came under no obligation at all, and in
addition received fifty thalers in cash. Very wisely he had refused to
accept a bill for this sum; it had to be paid to him before the

After all this had been arranged, there was a capital entertainment, and
the brandy bottle was vigorously plied. The very next day my father and
I went home. My mother-in-law promised to send after us as soon as
possible the so-called little presents and the articles of clothing for
me, which in the hurry she had not been able to get ready. Many weeks
however passed without our hearing or seeing anything of these. My
father was perplexed about this; and as the character of my
mother-in-law had long been suspicious to him, he could think nothing
else than that this intriguing woman was seeking some subterfuge to
escape from her burdensome contract. He resolved therefore to repay like
with like.

The following circumstance strengthened him in this resolve. A rich
arendant, who used to bring spirits to Nesvij for sale, and to lodge in
our house on his journey through Mohilna, likewise cast his eye upon me.
He had an only daughter, for whom he fixed on me in his thoughts as a
husband. He knew however what difficulties he would have to overcome, if
he were to treat on the subject directly with my father. He chose
therefore an indirect way. His plan was to make my father his debtor;
and as his critical circumstances would make it impossible for him to
clear off the debt, he expected to force him, as it were, to consent to
this union with the view of wiping out the debt by means of the amount
stipulated for the son. He offered my father therefore some barrels of
spirits on credit, and the offer was accepted with delight.

As the date of payment approached, Hersch Dukor (this was the name of
the arendant) came and reminded my father. The latter assured him, that
at the moment he was not in a position to clear off the debt, and begged
him to have patience with him for some time yet. "Herr Joshua," said the
arendant, "I will speak with you quite frankly on this matter. Your
circumstances are growing daily worse; and if no fortunate accident
occurs, I do not see any possibility of your being able to clear off
your debt. The best thing for us both therefore is this. You have a son,
and I have a daughter who is the sole heiress of all my property. Let us
enter into an alliance. By this means not only will your debt be wiped
out, but a sum to be fixed by yourself will be paid in addition, and I
shall take a general care to improve your circumstances so far as lies
in my power."

No one could be more joyous over this proposal than my father.
Immediately a contract was closed, in which the bride's dowry, as well
as the required presents, was decided in accordance with my father's
suggestion. The bill for the debt, which amounted to fifty thalers in
Polish money, was returned to my father, and torn on the spot, while
fifty thalers in addition were paid to him.

Thereupon my new father-in-law went on to Nesvij to collect some debts
there. Unfortunately he had to lodge at my former mother-in-law's. She,
being a great prattler, told him of her own accord about the good match
which her daughter had made. "The father of the bridegroom," said she,
"is himself a great scholar, and the bridegroom is a young man of eleven
years, who has scarcely his equal."

"I also," replied the arendant, "have, thank God, made a good choice for
my daughter. You have perhaps heard of the celebrated scholar, Rabbi
Joshua, in Mohilna, and of his young son, Solomon: he is my daughter's

Scarcely had these words been spoken, when she cried out, "That is a
confounded lie. Solomon is my daughter's bridegroom; and here, sir, is
the marriage-contract."

The arendant then showed her his contract too; and they fell into a
dispute, the result of which was that Madam Rissia had my father
summoned before the court to give a categorical explanation. My father,
however, did not put in an appearance, although she had him summoned

Meanwhile my mother died, and was brought to Nesvij for burial. My
mother-in-law obtained from the court an attachment on the dead body, by
which its interment was interdicted till the termination of the suit. My
father therefore saw himself compelled to appear in court, my
mother-in-law of course gained the suit, and I became again the
bridegroom of my former bride. And now to prevent any similar reversal
of her plans in the future, and to take from my father all occasion for
it, my mother-in-law endeavoured to satisfy all his demands in
accordance with her promise, clothed me from top to toe, and even paid
my father for my board from the date of the betrothal to the marriage.
My mother also was now buried, and we returned home again.

My second father-in-law came too, and called upon my father for the
ratification of his contract. He however pointed out that it was null
and void, as it contravened a previous contract, and had been made by
him merely in the supposition that my mother-in-law had no intention of
fulfilling hers. The arendant seemed to give an ear to these
representations, to yield to necessity, and reconcile himself to his
loss; but in reality he was thinking of some means to get me into his
hands. Accordingly he rose by night, yoked his horses, took me in
silence from the table on which I was sleeping, packed me with all
despatch into his carriage, and made off with his booty out at the gate.
But as this could not be accomplished without some noise, the people in
the house awoke, discovered the theft, pursued the kidnapper, and
snatched me out of his hand. To me the whole incident appeared at the
time like a dream.

In this way my father was released from his debt, and got fifty thalers
besides as a gratuity; but I was immediately afterwards carried off by
my legal mother-in-law, and made the husband of my legal bride. I must
of course confess that this transaction of my father's cannot be quite
justified in a moral point of view. Only his great need at the time can
in some measure serve as an excuse.


My Marriage in my Eleventh Year makes me the Slave of my Wife, and
procures for me Cudgellings from my Mother-in-law--A Ghost of Flesh and

On the first evening of my marriage my father was not present. As he
told me at my departure that he had still to settle some articles on my
account, and therefore I was to wait for his arrival, I refused, in
spite of all the efforts that were made, to appear that evening.
Nevertheless the marriage festivities went on. We waited the next day
for my father, but still he did not come. They then threatened to bring
a party of soldiers to drag me to the marriage ceremony; but I gave them
for an answer, that, if this were done, it would help them little, for
the ceremony would not be lawful except as a voluntary act. At last, to
the joy of all interested, my father arrived towards evening, the
articles referred to were amended, and the marriage ceremony was

Here I must mention a little anecdote. I had read in a Hebrew book of an
approved plan for a husband to secure lordship over his better half for
life. He was to tread on her foot at the marriage ceremony; and if both
hit on the stratagem, the first to succeed would retain the upper hand.
Accordingly, when my bride and I were placed side by side at the
ceremony this trick occurred to me, and I said to myself, Now you must
not let the opportunity pass of securing for your whole lifetime
lordship over your wife. I was just going to tread on her foot, but a
certain _Je ne sais quoi_, whether fear, shame, or love, held me back.
While I was in this irresolute state, all at once I felt the slipper of
my wife on my foot with such an impression that I should almost have
screamed aloud if I had not been checked by shame. I took this for a bad
omen and said to myself, Providence has destined you to be the slave of
your wife, you must not try to slip out of her fetters. From my
faint-heartedness and the heroic mettle of my wife, the reader may
easily conceive why this prophecy had to be actually realised.

I stood, however, not only under the slipper of my wife, but--what was
very much worse--under the lash of my mother-in-law. Nothing of all that
she had promised was fulfilled. Her house, which she had settled on her
daughter as a dowry, was burdened with debt. Of the six years' board
which she had promised me I enjoyed scarcely half a year's, and this
amid constant brawls and squabbles. She even, trusting to my youth and
want of spirit, ventured now and then to lay hands on me, but this I
repaid not infrequently with compound interest. Scarcely a meal passed
during which we did not fling at each other's head, bowls, plates,
spoons, and similar articles.

Once I came home from the academy extremely hungry. As my mother-in-law
and wife were occupied with the business of the public house, I went
myself into the room where the milk was kept; and as I found a dish of
curds and cream, I fell upon it, and began to eat. My mother-in-law came
as I was thus occupied, and screamed in rage, "You are not going to
devour the milk with the cream!" The more cream the better, thought I,
and went on eating, without disturbing myself by her cry. She was going
to wrest the dish forcibly from my hands, beat me with her fists, and
let me feel all her ill-will. Exasperated by such treatment, I pushed
her from me, seized the dish, and smashed it on her head. That was a
sight! The curds ran down all over her. She seized in rage a piece of
wood, and if I had not cleared out in all haste, she would certainly
have beat me to death.

Scenes like this occurred very often. At such skirmishes of course my
wife had to remain neutral, and whichever party gained the upper hand,
it came home to her very closely. "Oh!" she often complained, "if only
the one or the other of you had a little more patience!"

Tired of a ceaseless open war I once hit upon a stratagem, which had a
good effect for a short time at least. I rose about midnight, took a
large vessel of earthenware, crept with it under my mother-in-law's bed,
and began to speak aloud into the vessel after the following
fashion:--"O Rissia, Rissia, you ungodly woman, why do you treat my
beloved son so ill? If you do not mend your ways, your end is near, and
you will be damned to all eternity." Then I crept out again, and began
to pinch her cruelly; and after a while I slipped silently back to bed.

The following morning she got up in consternation, and told my wife,
that my mother had appeared to her in a dream, and had threatened and
pinched her on my account. In confirmation she showed the blue marks on
her arm. When I came from the synagogue, I did not find my mother-in-law
at home, but found my wife in tears. I asked the reason, but she would
tell me nothing. My mother-in-law returned with dejected look, and eyes
red with weeping. She had gone, as I afterwards learned, to the Jewish
place of burial, thrown herself on my mother's grave, and begged for
forgiveness of her fault. She then had the burial place measured, and
ordered a wax-light as long as its circumference, for burning in the
synagogue. She also fasted the whole day, and towards me showed herself
extremely amiable.

I knew of course what was the cause of all this, but acted as if I did
not observe it, and rejoiced in secret over the success of my stratagem.
In this manner I had peace for some time, but unfortunately it did not
last long. The whole was soon forgotten again, and on the slightest
occasion the dance went on as before. In short, I was soon afterwards
obliged to leave the house altogether, and accept a position as a
private tutor. Only on the great feast-days I used to come home.


The Secrets of the Marriage State--Prince Radzivil,[24] or what is not
all allowed in Poland?

In my fourteenth year I had my eldest son, David. At my marriage I was
only eleven years old, and owing to the retired life common among people
of our nation in those regions, as well as the want of mutual
intercourse between the two sexes, I had no idea of the essential duties
of marriage, but looked on a pretty girl as on any other work of nature
or art, somewhat as on the pretty medicine-box that I stole. It was
therefore natural that for a considerable time after marriage I could
not have any thought about the fulfilment of its duties. I used to
approach my wife with trembling as a mysterious object. It was therefore
supposed that I had been bewitched at the time of the wedding; and under
this supposition I was brought to a witch to be cured. She took in hand
all sorts of operations, which of course had a good effect, although
indirectly through the help of the imagination.

My life in Poland from my marriage to my emigration, which period
embraces the springtime of my existence, was a series of manifold
miseries with a want of all means for the promotion of culture, and,
necessarily connected with that, an aimless application of my powers, in
the description of which the pen drops from my hands, and the painful
memories of which I strive to stifle.[25]

The general constitution of Poland at the time; the condition of our
people in it, who, like the poor ass with the double burden, are
oppressed by their own ignorance and the religious prejudices connected
therewith, as well as by the ignorance and prejudices of the ruling
classes; the misfortunes of my own family;--all these causes combined to
hinder me in the course of my development, and to check the effect of my
natural disposition.

The Polish nation, under which I comprehend merely the Polish nobility,
is of a very mixed kind. Only the very few have an opportunity of
culture by means of upbringing, instruction, and well-directed travels,
by which they can best promote at once their own welfare and that of
their tenantry. Most of them, on the other hand, spend their lives in
ignorance and immorality, and become the sport of their extravagant
passions, which are ruinous to their tenants. They make a display with
titles and orders, which they disgrace by their actions; they own many
estates which they do not understand how to manage, and they are at
perpetual feud with one another, so that the kingdom must of necessity
become the prey of its neighbours, who are envious of its greatness.

Prince Radzivil was, as Hettmann in Poland and Voivode in Lithuania, one
of the greatest magnates, and as occupant of three inheritances in his
family owned immense estates. He was not without a certain kindness of
heart and good sense; but, through neglected training and a want of
instruction, he became one of the most extravagant princes that ever
lived. From want of occupation, which was a necessary consequence of
neglect in cultivating his tastes and widening his knowledge, he gave
himself up to drinking, by which he was tempted to the most ridiculous
and insane actions. Without any particular inclination for it he
abandoned himself to the most shameful sensuality; and without being
cruel, he exercised towards his dependents the greatest cruelties.

He supported at great cost an army of ten thousand men, which was used
for no purpose in the world except display; and during the troubles in
Poland he took, without knowing why, the part of the Confederates. By
this means he got himself encumbered with the friendship of the
Russians, who plundered his estates, and plunged his tenants into the
greatest destitution and misery. He himself was obliged several times to
flee from the country, and to leave as booty for his enemies treasures
which had been the gathering of many generations.

Who can describe all the excesses he perpetrated? A few examples will, I
believe, be sufficient to give the reader some idea of them. A certain
respect for my former prince does not allow me to consider his faults as
anything but faults of temperament and education, which deserve rather
our pity than our hatred and contempt.

When he passed through a street, which he commonly did with the whole
pomp of his court, his bands of music and soldiers, no man, at the peril
of his life, durst show himself in the street; and even in the houses
people were by no means safe. The poorest, dirtiest peasant-woman, who
came in his way, he would order up into his carriage beside himself.

Once he sent for a respectable Jewish barber, who, suspecting nothing
but that he was wanted for some surgical operation, brought his
instruments with him, and appeared before the prince.

"Have you brought your instruments with you?" he was asked.

"Yes, Serene Highness," he replied.

"Then," said the prince, "give me a lancet, and I will open one of your

The poor barber had to submit. The prince seized the lancet; and as he
did not know how to go about the operation, and besides his hand
trembled as a result of his hard drinking, of course he wounded the
barber in a pitiable manner. But his courtiers smiled their applause,
and praised his great skill in surgery.

He went one day into a church, and being so drunk that he did not know
where he was, he stood against the altar, and commenced to ----. All who
were present became horrified. Next morning when he was sober, the
clergy brought to his mind the misdeed he had committed the day before.
"Eh!" said the prince, "we will soon make that good." Thereupon he
issued a command to the Jews of the place, to provide at their own
expense, fifty stone of wax for burning in the church. The poor Jews
were therefore obliged to bring a sin-offering for the desecration of a
Christian Church by an orthodox Catholic Christian.

He once took it into his head to drive on the wall round the town. But
as the wall was too narrow for a coach with six horses,--and he never
drove in any other,--his hussars were obliged, with much labour and
peril of their lives, to carry the coach with their hands till he had
driven round the town in this way.

Once he drove with the whole pomp of his court to a Jewish synagogue,
and, without any one to this day knowing the reason, committed the
greatest havoc, smashed windows and stoves, broke all the vessels, threw
on the ground the copies of the Holy Scriptures kept in the ark, and so
forth. A learned, pious Jew, who was present, ventured to lift one of
these copies from the ground, and had the honour of being struck with a
musket-ball by His Serene Highness' own hand. From here the train went
to a second synagogue, where the same conduct was repeated, and from
there they proceeded to the Jewish burial-place, where the buildings
were demolished, and the monuments cast into the fire.

Can it be conceived, that a prince could show himself so malicious
towards his own poor subjects, whom he was in a position to punish
legally whenever they really did anything amiss? Yet this is what
happened here.

On one occasion he took it into his head to make a trip to Mohilna, a
hamlet belonging to him, which lay four short miles from his Residence.
This had to be done with his usual suite and all the pomp of his court.
On the morning of the appointed day the train went forth. First marched
the army in order according to its usual regimental
divisions,--infantry, artillery, cavalry, and so on. Then followed his
bodyguard, Strelitzi, consisting of volunteers from the poor nobility.
After them came his kitchen-waggons, in which Hungarian wine had not
been forgotten. These were followed by the music of his janissaries, and
other bands. Then came his coach, and last of all his satraps. I give
them this name, because I can compare this train with no other than that
of Darius in the war against Alexander. Towards evening His Serene
Highness arrived at our public house in the suburb of the town which was
His Serene Highness' Residence, Nesvij. I cannot say that he arrived in
his own high person, for the Hungarian wine had robbed him of all
consciousness, in which alone of course personality rests. He was
carried into the house and thrown with all his clothes, booted and
spurred, on to my mother-in-law's dirty bed, without giving it a supply
of clean linen.

As usual, I had to take to flight. My Amazons, however, I mean my
mother-in-law and my wife, trusted to their heroic mettle, and remained
at home alone. Riot went on the whole night. In the very room where His
Serene Highness slept, wood was chopped, cooking and baking were done.
It was well known that, when His Serene Highness slept, nothing could
waken his high person except perhaps the trumpet of the Judgment-Day.
The next morning, when he wakened, and looked around, he scarcely knew
whether to trust his eyes, when he found himself in a wretched
public-house, thrown on to a dirty bed swarming with bugs. His valets,
pages, and negroes waited on his commands. He asked how he had come
there, and was answered, that His Serene Highness had yesterday
commenced a journey to Mohilna, but had halted here to take rest, that
his whole train had meanwhile gone on, and had undoubtedly arrived in
Mohilna by this time.

The journey to Mohilna was for the present given up, and the whole train
ordered back. They returned accordingly to the Residence in the usual
order and pomp. But the prince was pleased to hold a great banquet in
our public-house. All the foreign gentlemen, who happened to be in the
place at the time, were invited. The service used on the occasion was of
gold, and it is impossible adequately to realise the contrast which
reigned here in one house, between Asiatic splendour and Lappish
poverty. In a miserable public-house, whose walls were black as coal
with smoke and soot, whose rafters were supported by undressed round
stems of trees, whose windows consisted of some fragments of broken
panes of bad glass, and small strips of pine covered with paper,--in
this house sat princes on dirty benches at a still dirtier table, and
had the choicest dishes and the finest wines served to them on gold

Before the banquet the prince took a stroll with the other gentlemen in
front of the house, and by chance observed my wife. She was then in the
bloom of her youth; and although I am now separated from her, still I
must do her the justice to allow that--leaving, of course, out of
account all that taste and art contribute to the heightening of a
person's charms, inasmuch as these had had no influence on her--she was
a beauty of the first rank. It was therefore natural that she should
please the prince. He turned to his companions, and said, "Really a
pretty young woman! Only she ought to get a white chemise." This was a
common signal with him, and meant as much as the throwing of a
handkerchief by the Grand Sultan. When these gentlemen therefore heard
it, they became solicitous for the honour of my wife, and gave her a
hint to clear out as fast as possible. She took the hint, slipped
silently out, and was soon over the hills and far away.

After the banquet His Serene Highness proceeded again with the other
gentlemen into town amid trumpets, kettle-drums, and the music of his
janissaries. Then the usual order of the day was followed; that is, a
carousal was carried on the whole afternoon and evening, and then the
party went to a pleasure-house at the entrance to the prince's
zoological garden, where fire-works were set off at great expense, but
usually with accidents. As every goblet was drained, cannons were fired;
but the poor cannoneers, who knew better how to handle the plough than
the cannon, were not seldom injured. "Vivat Kschondsie Radzivil," that
is, "Long live Prince Radzivil," shouted the guests. The palm in this
Bacchanalian sport was of course awarded to the prince; and those who
awarded it were loaded by him with presents, not in perishable coin or
golden snuff-boxes or anything of that sort, but in real estate with
many hundred peasants. At the close a concert was given, during which
His Serene Highness fell gently asleep, and was carried to the castle.

The expenses of such extravagance were of course extorted from the poor
tenantry. If this was not sufficient, debts were contracted, and estates
sold to wipe them out. Not even the twelve golden statues in
life-size,--whether they represented the twelve apostles or the twelve
giants, I do not know,--nor the golden table which had been made for
himself, were spared on such emergencies. And thus the noble estates of
this great prince were diminished, his treasures which had accumulated
during many generations were exhausted, and his tenants----But I must
break off.

The prince died not long ago without heirs of his body. His brother's
son inherited the estates.


Endeavour after mental Culture amid ceaseless Struggles with Misery of
every kind.

By means of the instruction received from my father, but still more by
my own industry, I had got on so well, that in my eleventh year I was
able to pass as a full rabbi. Besides I possessed some disconnected
knowledge in history, astronomy, and other mathematical sciences. I
burned with desire to acquire more knowledge, but how was this to be
accomplished in the want of guidance, of scientific books, and of all
other means for the purpose? I was obliged therefore to content myself
with making use of any help that I could by chance obtain, without plan
or method.

In order to gratify my desire of scientific knowledge, there were no
means available but that of learning foreign languages. But how was I to
begin? To learn Polish or Latin with a Catholic teacher was for me
impossible, on the one hand because the prejudices of my own people
prohibited to me all languages but Hebrew, and all sciences but the
Talmud and the vast array of its commentators, on the other hand because
the prejudices of Catholics would not allow them to give instruction in
those matters to a Jew. Moreover I was in very low temporal
circumstances. I was obliged to support a whole family by teaching, by
correcting proofs of the Holy Scriptures, and by other work of a similar
kind. For a long time therefore I had to sigh in vain for the
satisfaction of my natural inclination.

At last a fortunate accident came to my help. I observed in some stout
Hebrew volumes, that they contained several alphabets, and that the
number of their sheets was indicated not merely by Hebrew letters, but
that for this purpose the characters of a second and a third alphabet
had also been employed, these being commonly Latin and German letters.
Now, I had not the slightest idea of printing. I generally imagined that
books were printed like linen, and that each page was an impression from
a separate form. I presumed however that the characters, which stood in
similar places, must represent one and the same letter, and as I had
already heard something of the order of the alphabet in these languages,
I supposed that, for example, _a_, standing in the same place as
_aleph_, must likewise be an aleph in sound. In this way I gradually
learnt the Latin and German characters.

By a kind of deciphering I began to combine various German letters into
words; but as the characters used along with the Hebrew letters might be
something quite different from these, I remained always doubtful
whether the whole of my labour in this operation would not be in vain,
till fortunately some leaves of an old German book fell into my hand. I
began to read. How great were my joy and surprise, when I saw from the
connection, that the words completely corresponded with those which I
had learned. 'Tis true, in my Jewish language many of the words were
unintelligible; but from the connection I was still able, with the
omission of these words, to comprehend the whole pretty well.[26]

This mode of learning by deciphering constitutes still my peculiar
method of comprehending and judging the thoughts of others; and I
maintain that no one can say he understands a book, as long as he finds
himself compelled to deliver the thoughts of the author in the order and
connection determined by him, and with the expressions which he has
used. This is a mere work of memory, and no man can flatter himself with
having comprehended an author till he is roused by his thoughts, which
he apprehends at first but dimly, to reflect on the subject himself,
and to work it out for himself, though it may be under the impulse of
another. This distinction between different kinds of understanding must
be evident to any man of discernment.--For the same reason also I can
understand a book only when the thoughts which it contains harmonise
after filling up the gaps between them.

I still always felt a want which I was not able to fill. I could not
completely satisfy my desire of scientific knowledge. Up to this time
the study of the Talmud was still my chief occupation. With this however
I found pleasure merely in view of its form, for this calls into action
the higher powers of the mind; but I took no interest in its matter. It
affords exercise in deducing the remotest consequences from their
principles, in discovering the most hidden contradictions, in hunting
out the finest distinctions, and so forth. But as the principles
themselves have merely an imaginary reality, they cannot by any means
satisfy a soul thirsting after knowledge.

I looked around therefore for something, by which I could supply this
want. Now, I knew that there is a so-called science, which is somewhat
in vogue among the Jewish scholars of this district, namely the
Cabbalah, which professes to enable a man, not merely to satisfy his
desire of knowledge, but also to reach an uncommon perfection and
closeness of communion with God. Naturally therefore I burned with
desire for this science. As however it cannot, on account of its
sacredness, be publicly taught, but must be taught in secret, I did not
know where to seek the initiated or their writings.


I study the Cabbalah, and become at last a Physician.

Cabbalah,--to treat of this divine science somewhat more in
detail,--means, in the wider sense of the term, _tradition_; and it
comprehends, not only the occult sciences which may not be publicly
taught, but also the method of deducing new laws from the laws that are
given in the Holy Scriptures, as also some fundamental laws which are
said to have been delivered orally to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the
narrower sense of the term, however, Cabbalah means only the tradition
of occult sciences. This is divided into _theoretical_ and _practical_
Cabbalah. The former comprehends the doctrines of God, of His attributes
which are expressed by means of His manifold names, of the origin of the
world through a gradual limitation of His infinite perfection, and of
the relation of all things to His supreme essence. The latter is the
doctrine which teaches how to work upon nature at pleasure by means of
those manifold names of God, which represent various modes of working
upon, and relations to, natural objects. These sacred names are
regarded, not as merely arbitrary, but as _natural_ signs, so that all
that is done with these signs must have an influence on the object which
they represent.

Originally the Cabbalah was nothing but psychology, physics, morals,
politics, and such sciences, represented by means of symbols and
hieroglyphs in fables and allegories, the occult meaning of which was
disclosed only to those who were competent to understand it. By and by,
however, perhaps as the result of many revolutions, this occult meaning
was lost, and the signs were taken for the things signified. But as it
was easy to perceive that these signs necessarily had meant something,
it was left to the imagination to invent an occult meaning which had
long been lost. The remotest analogies between signs and things were
seized, till at last the Cabbalah degenerated into an art of _madness
according to method_, or a systematic science resting on conceits. The
big promise of its design, to work effects on nature at pleasure, the
lofty strain and the pomp with which it announces itself, have naturally
an extraordinary influence on minds of the visionary type, that are
unenlightened by the sciences and especially by a thorough philosophy.

The principal work for the study of the Cabbalah is the _Zohar_, which
is written in a very lofty style in the Syrian language. All other
Cabbalistic writings are to be regarded as merely commentaries on this,
or extracts from it.

There are two main systems of the Cabbalah,--the system of Rabbi Moses
Kordovero, and that of Rabbi Isaac Luria.[27] The former is more _real_,
that is, it approximates more closely to reason. The latter, on the
other hand, is more _formal_, that is, it is completer in the structure
of its system. The modern Cabbalists prefer the latter, because they
hold that only to be genuine Cabbalah, in which there is no rational
meaning. The principal work of Rabbi Moses Kordovero is the _Pardes_
(Paradise). Of Rabbi Isaac Luria himself we have some disconnected
writings; but his pupil, Rabbi Chajim Vitall, wrote a large work under
the title, _Ez Chajim_ (The Tree of Life), in which the whole system of
his master is contained. This work is held by the Jews to be so sacred,
that they do not allow it to be committed to print. Naturally, I had
more taste for the Cabbalah of Rabbi Moses than for that of Rabbi Isaac,
but durst not give utterance to my opinion on this point.

After this digression on the Cabbalah in general, I return to my story.
I learned that the under-rabbi or preacher of the place was an adept in
the Cabbalah; and therefore, to attain my object, I made his
acquaintance. I took my seat beside him in the synagogue, and as I
observed once that after prayer he always read from a small book, and
then put it past carefully in its place, I became very curious to know
what sort of book this was. Accordingly, after the preacher had gone
home, I went and took the book from the place where he had put it; and
when I found that it was a Cabbalistic work, I went with it and hid
myself in a corner of the synagogue, till all the people had gone out
and the door was locked. I then crept from my hiding-place, and, without
a thought about eating or drinking the whole day long, read the
fascinating book till the doorkeeper came and opened the synagogue again
in the evening.

_Shaarei Kedushah_, or _The Gates of Righteousness_, was the title of
this book; and, leaving out of account what was visionary and
exaggerated, it contained the principal doctrines of psychology. I did
with it therefore as the Talmudists say Rabbi Meïr acted, who had a
heretic for his teacher, "He found a pomegranate; he ate the fruit and
threw the peel away."[28]

In two or three days I had in this way finished the book; but instead of
satisfying my curiosity, it only excited it the more. I wished to read
more books of the same sort. But as I was too bashful to confess this to
the preacher, I resolved to write him a letter, in which I expressed my
irresistible longing for this sacred science, and therefore entreated
him earnestly to assist me with books. I received from him a very
favourable answer. He praised my zeal for the sacred science, and
assured me that this zeal, amid so little encouragement, was an obvious
sign that my soul was derived from _Olam Aziloth_ (the world of the
immediate divine influence), while the souls of mere Talmudists take
their origin from _Olam Jezirah_ (the world of the creation). He
promised, therefore, to assist me with books as far as lay in his power.
But as he himself was occupied mainly with this science, and required to
have such books constantly at hand, he could not lend them to me, but
gave me permission to study them in his house at my pleasure.

Who was gladder than I! I accepted the offer of the preacher with
gratitude, scarcely ever left his house, and sat day and night over the
Cabbalistic books. Two representations especially gave me the greatest
trouble. One was the _Tree_, or the representation of the divine
emanations in their manifold and intricate complexities. The other was
God's _Beard_, in which the hairs are divided into numerous classes with
something peculiar to each, and every hair is a separate channel of
divine grace. With all my efforts I could not find in these
representations any rational meaning.

My prolonged visits however were extremely inconvenient to the preacher.
He had, a short time before, married a pretty young wife; and as his
modest little house consisted of a single apartment, which was at once
parlour, study, and bedroom, and as I sat in it at times reading the
whole night, it happened not infrequently that my elevation above the
sphere of sense came into collision with his sensibility. Consequently,
he hit upon a good plan for getting rid of the incipient Cabbalist. He
said to me one day, "I observe that it necessarily puts you to a great
deal of inconvenience to spend your time constantly away from home for
the sake of these books. You may take them home with you one by one if
you please, and thus study them at your convenience."

To me nothing could be more welcome. I took home one book after
another, and studied them till I believed that I had mastered the whole
of the Cabbalah. I contented myself not merely with the knowledge of its
principles and manifold systems, but sought also to make a proper use of
these. There was not a passage to be met with in the Holy Scriptures or
in the Talmud, the occult meaning of which I could not have unfolded,
according to Cabbalistic principles, with the greatest readiness.

The book entitled _Shaarei Orah_[29] came to be of very good service
here. In this book are enumerated the manifold names of the ten
_Sephiroth_, which form the principal subject of the Talmud, so that a
hundred or more names are given to each. In every word of a verse in the
Bible, or of a passage in the Talmud, I found therefore the name of some
Sephirah. But as I knew the attribute of every Sephirah, and its
relation to the rest, I could easily bring out of the combination of
names their conjoint effect.

To illustrate this by a brief example, I found in the book just
mentioned, that the name _Jehovah_ represents the six highest Sephiroth
(not including the first three), or the person of the Godhead _generis
masculini_, while the word _Koh_ means the _Shechinah_ or the person of
the Godhead _generis feminini_, and the word _amar_ denotes sexual
union. The words, "Koh amar Jehova,"[30] therefore, I explained in the
following way, "Jehovah unites with the Shechinah," and this is high
Cabbalism. Accordingly, when I read this passage in the Bible, I thought
nothing else, but that, when I uttered these words, and thought their
occult meaning, an actual union of these divine spouses took place, from
which the whole world had to expect a blessing. Who can restrain the
excesses of imagination, when it is not guided by reason?

With the _Cabbalah Maasith_, or the _practical Cabbalah_, I did not
succeed so well as with the theoretical. The preacher boasted, not
publicly indeed, but to everybody in private, that he was master of this
also. Especially he professed _roeh veeno nireh_ (to see everything, but
not to be seen by others), that is, to be able to make himself

About this trick I was specially anxious, in order that I might practise
some wanton jokes on my comrades. More particularly I formed a plan for
keeping my ill-tempered mother-in-law in check by this means. I
pretended that my object was merely to do good, and guard against evil.
The preacher consented, but said at the same time, that on my part
certain preparations were required. Three days in succession I was to
feast, and every day to say some _Ichudim_. These are Cabbalistic forms
of prayer, whose occult meaning aims at producing in the intellectual
world sexual unions, through means of which certain results are to be
brought about in the physical.

I did everything with pleasure, made the conjuration which he had taught
me, and believed with all confidence that I was now invisible. At once I
hurried to the _Beth Hamidrash_, the Jewish academy, went up to one of
my comrades, and gave him a vigorous box on the ear. He however was no
coward, and returned the blow with interest. I started back in
astonishment; I could not understand how he had been able to discover
me, as I had observed with the utmost accuracy the instructions of the
preacher. Still I thought I might, perhaps, unwittingly and
unintentionally have neglected something. I resolved, therefore, to
undertake the operation anew. This time, however, I was not going to
venture on the test of a box on the ear; I went into the academy merely
to watch my comrades as a spectator. As soon as I entered, however, one
of them came up to me, and showed me a difficult passage in the Talmud,
which he wished me to explain. I stood utterly confounded, and
disconsolate over the failure of my hopes.

Thereupon I went to the preacher, and informed him of my unsuccessful
attempt. Without blushing, he replied quite boldly, "If you have
observed all my instructions, I cannot explain this otherwise than by
supposing that you are unfit for being thus divested of the visibility
of your body." With great grief, therefore, I was obliged to give up
entirely the hope of making myself invisible.

This disappointed hope was followed by a new delusion. In the preface to
the _Book of Raphael_, which the angel of that name is said to have
delivered to our first father Adam at his banishment from paradise, I
found the promise, that whoever keeps the book in his house is thereby
insured against fire. It was not long, however, before a conflagration
broke out in the neighbourhood, when the fire seized my house too, and
the angel Raphael himself had to go up into heaven in this chariot of

Unsatisfied with the literary knowledge of this science, I sought to
penetrate into its spirit; and as I perceived that the whole science, if
it is to deserve this name, can contain nothing but the secrets of
nature concealed in fables and allegories, I laboured to find out these
secrets, and thereby to raise my merely literary knowledge to a rational
knowledge. This, however, I could accomplish only in a very imperfect
manner at the time, because I had yet very few ideas of the sciences in
general. Still, by independent reflection I hit upon many applications
of this kind. Thus, for example, I explained at once the first instance
with which the Cabbalists commonly begin their science.

It is this. Before the world was created, the divine being occupied the
whole of infinite space alone. But God wished to create a world, in
order that He might reveal those attributes of His nature which refer
to other beings besides Himself. For this purpose He contracted Himself
into the centre of His perfection, and issued into the space thereby
left void ten concentric circles of light, out of which arose afterwards
manifold figures (_Parzophim_) and gradations down to the present world
of sense.

I could not in any way conceive that all this was to be taken in the
common sense of the words, as nearly all Cabbalists represent it. As
little could I conceive that, before the world had been created, a time
had past, as I knew from my _Moreh Nebhochim_, that time is a
modification of the world, and consequently cannot be thought without
it. Moreover, I could not conceive that God occupies a space, even
though it be infinite; or that He, an infinitely perfect being, should
contract Himself, like a thing of circular form, into a centre.

Accordingly I sought to explain all this in the following way. God is
prior to the world, not in time, but in His necessary being as the
condition of the world. All things besides God must depend on Him as
their cause, in regard to their essence as well as their existence. The
creation of the world, therefore, could not be thought as a bringing
forth _out of nothing_, nor as a formation of something independent on
God, but only as a bringing forth _out of Himself_. And as beings are of
different grades of perfection, we must assume for their explanation
different grades of limitation of the divine being. But since this
limitation must be thought as extending from the infinite being down to
matter, we represent the beginning of the limitation in a figure as a
centre (the lowest point) of the Infinite.

In fact, the Cabbalah is nothing but an expanded Spinozism, in which not
only is the origin of the world explained by the limitation of the
divine being, but also the origin of every kind of being, and its
relation to the rest, are derived from a separate attribute of God. God,
as the ultimate subject and the ultimate cause of all beings, is called
Ensoph (the Infinite, of which, considered in itself, nothing can be
predicated). But in relation to the infinite number of beings, positive
attributes are ascribed to Him; these are reduced by the Cabbalists to
ten, which are called the ten Sephiroth.

In the book, _Pardes_, by Rabbi Moses Kordovero, the question is
discussed, whether the Sephiroth are to be taken for the Deity Himself
or not. It is easy to be seen, however, that this question has no more
difficulty in reference to the Deity, than in reference to any other

Under the ten circles I conceived the ten categories or predicaments of
Aristotle, with which I had become acquainted in the _Moreh
Nebhochim_,--the most universal predicates of things, without which
nothing can be thought. The categories, in the strictest critical sense,
are the logical forms, which relate not merely to a _logical_ object,
but to _real_ objects in general, and without which these cannot be
thought. They have their source, therefore, in the subject itself, but
they become an object of consciousness only by reference to a real
object. Consequently, they represent the ten Sephiroth, which belong,
indeed, to the Ensoph in itself, but of which the reality is revealed
only by their special relation to, and effect upon, objects in nature,
and the number of which can be variously determined in various points of

But by this method of explanation I brought upon myself many an
annoyance. For the Cabbalists maintain that the Cabbalah is not a human,
but a divine, science; and that, consequently, it would be degradation
of it, to explain its mysteries in accordance with nature and reason.
The more reasonable, therefore, my explanations proved, the more were
the Cabbalists irritated with me, inasmuch as they held that alone to be
divine, which had no reasonable meaning. Accordingly I had to keep my
explanations to myself. An entire work, that I wrote on the subject, I
brought with me to Berlin, and preserve still as a monument of the
struggle of the human mind after perfection, in spite of all the
hindrances which are placed in its way.

Meanwhile this could not satisfy me. I wished to get an insight into the
sciences, not as they are veiled in fables, but in their natural light.
I had already, though very imperfectly, learned to read German; but
where was I to obtain German books in Lithuania? Fortunately for me I
learned that the chief rabbi of a neighbouring town, who in his youth
had lived for a while in Germany, and learned the German language
there, and made himself in some measure acquainted with the sciences,
continued still, though in secret, to work at the sciences, and had a
fair library of German books.

I resolved therefore to make a pilgrimage to S----, in order to see the
chief rabbi, and beg of him a few scientific books. I was tolerably
accustomed to such journeys, and had gone once thirty miles[31] on foot
to see a Hebrew work of the tenth century on the Peripatetic philosophy.
Without therefore troubling myself in the least about travelling
expenses or means of conveyance, and without saying a word to my family
on the subject, I set out upon the journey to this town in the middle of
winter. As soon as I arrived at the place, I went to the chief rabbi,
told him my desire, and begged him earnestly for assistance. He was not
a little astonished; for, during the thirty one years which had passed
since his return from Germany, not a single individual had ever made
such a request. He promised to lend me some old German books. The most
important among these were an old work on Optics, and Sturm's _Physics_.

I could not sufficiently express my gratitude to this excellent chief
rabbi; I pocketed the few books, and returned home in rapture. After I
had studied these books thoroughly, my eyes were all at once opened. I
believed that I had found a key to all the secrets of nature, as I now
knew the origin of storms, of dew, of rain, and such phenomena. I looked
down with pride on all others, who did not yet know these things,
laughed at their prejudices and superstitions, and proposed to clear up
their ideas on these subjects and to enlighten their understanding.

But this did not always succeed. I laboured once to teach a Talmudist,
that the earth is round, and that we have antipodes. He however made the
objection, that these antipodes would necessarily fall off. I
endeavoured to show that the falling of a body is not directed towards
any fixed point in empty space, but towards the centre of the earth, and
that the ideas of Over and Under represent merely the removal from and
approach to this centre. It was of no avail; the Talmudist stood to his
ground, that such an assertion was absurd.

On another occasion I went to take a walk with some of my friends. It
chanced that a goat lay in the way. I gave the goat some blows with my
stick, and my friends blamed me for my cruelty. "What is the cruelty?" I
replied. "Do you believe that the goat feels a pain, when I beat it? You
are greatly mistaken; the goat is a mere machine." This was the doctrine
of Sturm as a disciple of Descartes.

My friends laughed heartily at this, and said, "But don't you hear that
the goat cries, when you beat it?" "Yes," I replied, "of course it
cries; but if you beat a drum, it cries too." They were amazed at my
answer, and in a short time it went abroad over the whole town, that I
had become mad, as I held that _a goat is a drum_.

From my generous friend, the chief rabbi, I received afterwards two
medical works, Kulm's _Anatomical Tables_ and Voit's _Gaziopilatium_.
The latter is a large medical dictionary, containing, in a brief form,
not only explanations from all departments of medicine, but also their
manifold applications. In connection with every disease is given an
explanation of its cause, its symptoms, and the method of its cure,
along with even the ordinary prescriptions. This was for me a real
treasure. I studied the book thoroughly, and believed myself to be
master of the science of medicine, and a complete physician.

But I was not going to content myself with mere theory in this matter; I
resolved to make regular application of it. I visited patients,
determined all diseases according to their circumstances and symptoms,
explained their causes, and gave also prescriptions for their cure. But
in this practice things turned out very comically. If a patient told me
some of the symptoms of his disease, I guessed from them the nature of
the disease itself, and inferred the presence of the other symptoms. If
the patient said that he could trace none of these, I stubbornly
insisted on their being present all the same. The conversation therefore
sometimes came to this:--

_I._ "You have headache also."

_Patient._ "No."

_I._ "But you _must_ have headache."

As many symptoms are common to several diseases, I took not infrequently
_quid pro quo_. Prescriptions I could never keep in my head, so that,
when I prescribed anything, I was obliged to go home first and turn up
my _Gaziopilatium_. At length I began even to make up drugs myself
according to Voit's prescriptions. How this succeeded, may be imagined.
It had at least this good result, that I saw something more was surely
required for a practical physician than I understood at the time.


A brief Exposition of the Jewish Religion, from its Origin down to the
most recent Times.

To render intelligible that part of the story of my life, which refers
to my sentiments regarding religion, I must first give in advance a
short practical _history of the Jewish religion_, and at the outset say
something of the idea of _religion in general_, as well as of the
difference between _natural_ and _positive_ religion.

_Religion in general_ is the expression of gratitude, reverence and the
other feelings, which arise from the dependence of our weal and woe on
one or more powers to us unknown. If we look to the _expression of these
feelings in general_, without regard to the _particular mode of the
expression_, religion is certainly natural to man. He observes many
effects which are of interest to him, but whose causes are to him
unknown; and he finds himself compelled, by the universally recognised
_Principle of Sufficient Reason_, to suppose these causes, and to
express towards them the feelings mentioned.

This expression may be of two kinds, in conformity either with the
_imagination_ or with _reason_. For either man imagines the causes to
be analogous to the effects, and ascribes to them in themselves such
attributes as are revealed through the effects, or he thinks them merely
as causes of certain effects, without seeking thereby to determine their
attributes in themselves. These two modes are both natural to man, the
former being in accordance with his earlier condition, the latter with
that of his perfection.

The difference between these two modes of representation has as its
consequence another difference of religions. The first mode of
representation, in accordance with which the causes are supposed to be
_similar_ to the effects, is the mother of _polytheism_ or _heathenism_.
But the second is the basis of _true_ religion. For as the kinds of
effects are different, the causes also, if held to be like them, must be
represented as different from one another. On the other hand, if, in
accordance with truth, we conceive the idea of _cause in general_ for
these effects, without seeking to determine this cause, either _in
itself_ (since it is wholly unknown), or _analogically_ by help of the
imagination, then we have no ground for supposing several causes, but
require to assume merely a single subject, wholly unknown, as cause of
all these effects.

The different philosophical systems of theology are nothing but
_detailed developments_ of these different modes of representation. The
_atheistic_ system of theology, if so it may be called, rejects
altogether this idea of a _first cause_, (as, according to the
_critical_ system at least, it is merely of _regulative use_ as a
necessary _idea of reason_). All effects are referred to particular
known or unknown causes. In this there cannot be assumed even a
_connection_ between the various effects, else the _reason_ of this
connection would require to be sought beyond the connection itself.

The _Spinozistic_ system, on the contrary, supposes one and the same
substance as immediate cause of all various effects, which must be
regarded as predicates of one and the same subject. _Matter_ and _mind_
are, with Spinoza, one and the same substance, which appears, now under
the former, now under the latter attribute. This single substance is,
according to him, not only the sole being that can be _self-dependent_,
that is, independent of any external cause, but also the sole
_self-subsistent_ being, all so-called beings besides it being merely
its _modes_, that is, particular limitations of its attributes. Every
particular effect in nature is referred by him, not to its proximate
cause (which is merely a _mode_), but immediately to this first cause,
which is the common substance of all beings.

In this system _unity is real_, but _multiplicity_ is merely _ideal_. In
the atheistic system it is the opposite. _Multiplicity_ is _real_, being
founded on the _nature of things themselves_. On the other hand, the
_unity_, which is observed in the order and regularity of nature, is
merely an _accident_, by which we are accustomed to determine our
_arbitrary_ system _for the sake of knowledge_. It is inconceivable
therefore how any one can make out the Spinozistic system to be
atheistic, since the two systems are diametrically opposed to one
another. In the latter the existence of _God_ is denied, but in the
former the existence of the _world_. Spinoza's ought therefore to be
called rather the _acosmic_ system.

The _Leibnitzian_ system holds the mean between the two preceding. In it
all _particular effects_ are referred immediately to _particular
causes_; but these various effects are thought as _connected_ in a
single system, and the cause of this connection is sought in a being
beyond itself.

_Positive_ religion is distinguished from _natural_ in the very same way
as the positive laws of a state from natural laws. The latter are those
which rest on a self-acquired, indistinct knowledge, and are not duly
defined in regard to their application, while the former rest on a
distinct knowledge received from others, and are completely defined in
regard to their application.

A _positive_ religion however must be carefully distinguished from a
_political_ religion. The former has for its end merely the correction
and accurate definition of knowledge, that is, _instruction_ regarding
the first cause: and the knowledge is communicated to another, according
to the measure of his capacity, just as it has been received. But the
latter has for its end mainly the welfare of the state. Knowledge is
therefore communicated, not just as it has been received, but only in so
far as it is found serviceable to this end. Politics, merely as
politics, requires to concern itself about _true religion_ as little as
about _true morality_. The injury, that might arise from this, can be
prevented by other means which influence men at the same time, and thus
all can be kept in equilibrium. Every political religion is therefore at
the same time positive, but every positive religion is not also

Natural religion has no _mysteries_ any more than merely positive
religion. For there is no mystery implied in one man being unable to
communicate his knowledge to another of defective capacity with the same
degree of completeness which he himself has attained; otherwise
mysteries might be attributed to all the sciences, and there would then
be _mysteries of mathematics_ as well as _mysteries of religion_. Only
_political religion_ can have mysteries, in order to lead men in an
indirect way to the attainment of the _political end_, inasmuch as they
are made to believe that thereby they can best attain their _private
ends_, though this is not always in reality the case. There are _lesser_
and _greater_ mysteries in the political religions. The former consist
in the _material_ knowledge of all particular operations and their
connection with one another. The latter, on the contrary, consist in the
knowledge of the _form_, that is, of the end by which the former are
determined. The former constitute the totality of the _laws of
religion_, but the latter contains the _spirit of the laws_.

The _Jewish religion_, even at its earliest origin among the nomadic
patriarchs, is already distinguished from the _heathen_ as _natural
religion_, inasmuch as, instead of the _many comprehensible_ gods of
heathenism, the _unity of an incomprehensible_ God lies at its
foundation. For as the particular causes of the effects, which in
general give rise to a religion, are in themselves unknown, and we do
not feel justified in transferring to the causes the attributes of the
particular effects, in order thereby to characterise them, there remains
nothing but the idea of cause in general, which must be related to all
effects without distinction. This cause cannot even be _analogically_
determined by the effects. For the effects are opposed to one another,
and neutralise each other even in the same object. If therefore we
ascribed them all to one and the same cause, the cause could not be
analogically determined by any.

The _heathen_ religion, on the other hand, refers every kind of effect
to a special cause, which can of course be characterised by its effect.
As a _positive_ religion the Jewish is distinguished from the heathen by
the fact, that it is not a merely political religion, that is, a
religion which has for its end the social interest (in opposition to
true knowledge and private interest); but in accordance with the spirit
of its founder, it is adapted to the theocratic form of the national
Government, which rests on the principle, that only the true religion,
based on rational knowledge, can harmonise with the interest of the
state as well as of the individual. Considered in its _purity_,
therefore, it has no mysteries in the proper sense of the word; that is
to say, it has no doctrines which, in order to reach their end, men
_will_ not disclose, but merely such as _can_ not be disclosed to all.

After the fall of the Jewish state the religion was separated from the
state which no longer existed. The religious authorities were no longer,
as they had been before, concerned about adapting the particular
institutions of religion to the state; but their care went merely to
_preserve_ the religion, on which the existence of the _nation_ now
depended. Moved by hatred towards those nations who had annihilated the
state, and from anxiety lest with the fall of the state the religion
also might fall, they hit upon the following means for the preservation
and extension of their religion.

1. The fiction of a method, handed down from Moses, of expanding the
laws, and applying them to particular cases. This method is not that
which reason enjoins, of modifying laws according to their intention, in
adaptation to time and circumstances, but that which rests upon certain
rules concerning their literary expression.

2. The legislative force ascribed to the new decisions and opinions
obtained by this method, giving to them an equal rank with the ancient
laws. The subtle dialectic, with which this has been carried on down to
our times, and the vast number of laws, customs and useless ceremonies
of all sorts, which it has occasioned, may be easily imagined.

The history of the Jewish religion can, in consequence of this, be
appropriately divided into five great epochs. The first epoch embraces
the _natural religion_, from the times of the patriarchs down to Moses
at the exodus from Egypt. The second comprehends the _positive_ or
_revealed_ religion, from Moses to the time of the _Great Synagogue_
(_Keneseth Haggedolah_). This council must not be conceived as an
assembly of theologians at a definite time; the name applies to the
theologians of a whole epoch from the destruction of the first temple to
the composition of the Mishnah. Of these the first were the _minor
prophets_ (Haggai, Zachariah, Malachi, etc., of whom 120 are counted
altogether), and the last was _Simon the Just_.[32] These, as well as
their forerunners from the time of Joshua, took as their basis the
Mosaic laws, and added new laws according to time and circumstances, but
in conformity with the traditional method, every dispute on the subject
being decided by the _majority of voices_.

The third epoch extends from the composition of the Mishnah by Jehudah
the Saint[33] to the composition of the Talmud by Rabina and
Rabassi.[34] Down to this epoch it was forbidden to commit the laws to
writing, in order that they might not fall into the hands of those who
could make no use of them. But as Rabbi Jehudah Hanassi, or, as he is
otherwise called, Rabbenu Hakades observed, that, in consequence of
their great multiplicity, the laws may easily fall into oblivion, he
gave himself a licence to transgress a single one of the laws in order
to preserve the whole. The law transgressed was that against committing
the laws to writing; and in this licence he defended himself by a
passage in the Psalms, "There are times, when a man shows himself
well-pleasing to God by transgressing the laws."[35] He lived in the
time of Antoninus Pius, was rich, and possessed all the faculties for
such an undertaking. He therefore composed the Mishnah, in which he
delivers the Mosaic laws in accordance either with a traditional or with
a rational method of exposition. It contains also some laws which form
the subject of dispute.

This work is divided into six parts. The first contains the laws
relating to agriculture and horticulture; the second, those which refer
to feasts and holidays. The third part comprehends the laws which define
the mutual relations of the two sexes (marriage, divorce, and such
subjects). The fourth part is devoted to the laws which deal with the
teachers of the law; the fifth, to those which treat of the
temple-service and sacrifices; and the sixth, to the laws of

As the Mishnah is composed with the greatest precision, and cannot be
understood without a commentary, it was natural, that in course of time
doubts and disputes should arise, regarding the exposition of the
Mishnah itself, as well as the mode of its application to cases which it
does not sufficiently determine. All these doubts and their manifold
solutions, controversies and decisions, were finally collected in the
Talmud by the above-mentioned Rabina and Rabassi; and this forms the
fourth epoch of Jewish legislation.

The fifth epoch begins with the conclusion of the Talmud, and extends
down to our time, and so on for ever (_si diis placet_) till the advent
of the Messiah. Since the conclusion of the Talmud the rabbis have been
by no means idle. 'Tis true, they dare not alter anything in the Mishnah
or the Talmud; but they still have plenty of work to do. Their business
is to explain those two works, so that they shall harmonise; and this is
no small matter, for one rabbi, with a superfine dialectic, is always
finding contradictions in the explanations of another. They must also
disentangle, from the labyrinth of various opinions, expositions,
controversies and decisions, the laws which are applicable to every
case; and finally for new cases, by inferences from those already known,
they must bring out new laws, hitherto left indeterminate in spite of
all previous labours, and thus prepare a complete code of laws.

It is thus that a religion, in its origin _natural_ and _conformable to
reason_, has been abused. A Jew dare not eat or drink, lie with his wife
or attend to the wants of nature, without observing an enormous number
of laws. With the books on the _slaughter_ of animals alone (the
condition of the knife and the examination of the entrails) a whole
library could be filled, which certainly would come near to the
Alexandrian in extent. And what shall I say of the enormous number of
books treating of those laws which are no longer in use, such as the
laws of sacrifice, of purification, etc.? The pen falls from my hand,
when I remember that I and others like me were obliged to spend in this
soul-killing business the best days of our lives when the powers are in
their full vigour, and to sit up many a night, to try and bring out some
sense where there was none, to exercise our wits in the discovery of
contradictions where none were to be found, to display acuteness in
removing them where they were obviously to be met, to hunt after a
shadow through a long series of arguments, and to build castles in the

The abuse of Rabbinism has, as will be seen, a twofold source.

1. The first is an _artificial method_ of expounding the Holy
Scriptures, which distinguishes itself from the _natural_ method by the
fact, that, while the latter rests on a thorough _knowledge of the
language_ and the true _spirit of the legislator_ in view of the
circumstances of the time, as these are known from history, the former
has been devised rather for the sake of the laws passed to meet existing
emergencies. The rabbis look upon the Holy Scriptures, not only as the
source of the fundamental laws of Moses, and of those which are
deducible from these by a rational method, but also as a vehicle of the
laws to be drawn up by themselves according to the wants of the time.
The artificial method here, like every other of the same kind, is merely
a means of bringing the new laws at least into an _external connection_
with the old, in order that they may thereby find a better introduction
among the people, be reduced to principles, divided into classes, and
therefore more easily impressed on the memory. No reasonable rabbi will
hold, that the laws, which are referred in this way to passages of the
Holy Scriptures, render the true sense of these passages; but if
questioned on this point, he will reply, "These laws are necessities of
the time, and are referred to those passages merely for this reason."

2. The second source of the abuse of Rabbinism is to be found in the
manners and customs of other nations, in whose neighbourhood the Jews
have lived, or among whom they have been gradually scattered since the
fall of the Jewish state. These manners and customs they were obliged
to adopt in order to avoid becoming objects of abhorrence. Of this sort
are the laws, _not to uncover the head_ (at least in holy places and at
holy ceremonies), _to wash the hands_ (before meals and prayers), to
fast the whole day till sunset, to say a number of daily prayers, to
make pilgrimages, to walk round the altar, etc.,--all manifestly of
_Arabian_ origin.

From hatred also towards those nations that destroyed the Jewish state,
and afterwards made the Jews undergo manifold oppressions, they have
adopted various customs, and among others many religious usages which
are opposite to those of the _Greeks_ and _Romans_.

In all this the rabbis had the Mosaic laws themselves for a model, these
being sometimes in agreement, sometimes in hostility, with the Egyptian
laws which lie at their root, as has been shown in the most thorough
manner by the celebrated Maimonides in his work, _Moreh Nebhochim_.

It is remarkable, that, with all rabbinical extravagancies in the
_practical_ department, namely the laws and customs, the _theoretical_
department of the Jewish theology has still always preserved itself in
its purity. Eisenmenger may say what he will, it may be shown by
unanswerable arguments, that all the limited figurative representations
of God and His attributes have their source merely in an endeavour to
adapt the ideas of theology to the common understanding. The rabbis
followed in this the principle which they had established in reference
to the Holy Scriptures themselves, namely, that _the Holy Scriptures use
the language of the common people_, inasmuch as religious and moral
sentiments and actions, which form the immediate aim of theology may in
this manner be most easily extended. They therefore represent God to the
common understanding as an earthly King, who with His ministers and the
advisers of His cabinet, the angels, takes counsel concerning the
government of the world. But for the educated mind they seek to take
away all anthropomorphic representations of God, when they say, "It was
an act of high daring on the part of the prophets, to represent the
Creator as like His creature, as when, for example, it is said in
Ezekiel (i., 26), 'And upon the throne was an appearance like man.'"

I have disclosed the abuses of the rabbis in regard to religion without
any partiality. At the same time however I must not be silent about
their good qualities, but do them justice as impartially. Compare then
Mahomed's description of the reward of the pious with the rabbinical
representation. The former runs:--"Here (in paradise) there are as many
dishes as there are stars in heaven. Maidens and boys fill the cups, and
wait on the table. The beauty of the maidens surpasses all imagination.
If one of these maidens were to appear in the sky or in the air by
night, the world would become as bright as when the sun is shining; and
if she were to spit into the sea, its salt water would be turned into
honey, and its bitter into sweet. Milk, honey, white wine will be the
rivers which water this delicious abode. The slime of these rivers will
be made of sweet-smelling nutmegs, and their pebbles of pearls and
hyacinths. The angel Gabriel will open the gates of paradise to faithful
Musselmans. The first thing to meet their eyes will be a table of
diamonds of such enormous length, that it would require 70,000 days to
run round it. The chairs, which stand around the table, will be of gold
and silver, the tablecloths of silk and gold. When the guests have sat
down, they will eat the choicest dishes of paradise, and drink its
water. When they are satisfied, beautiful boys will bring them _green_
garments of costly stuff, and necklaces and earrings of gold. To every
one will then be given a citron; and when he has brought it to his nose
to feel its odour, a maiden of enchanting beauty will come out. Every
one will embrace his own with rapture, and this intoxication of love
will last fifty years without interruption. Each couple will obtain an
enchanting palace for a dwelling, where they will eat and drink and
enjoy all sorts of pleasure for ever and ever.[36]" This description is
beautiful; but how sensuous! The rabbis, on the other hand, say, "Above
(in the blessed abode of the pious) there is neither eating nor
drinking, but the pious sit crowned, and delight themselves with the
vision of the Godhead."

Eisenmenger seeks, in his _Entdecktes Judenthum_ (Theil 1., Kap. 8), by
a crass exposition to throw ridicule on the Platonic doctrine of
reminiscence, which the rabbis maintain; but what may not be made
ridiculous in the same way? He also makes sport, with equal injustice,
of other rabbinical teachings. With the Stoics, for example, the rabbis
call wise men _Kings_; they say, that God does nothing without
previously taking counsel with his angels, that is, Omnipotence works
upon nature not immediately, but by means of the natural forces; they
teach, that everything is predestined by God, except the practice of
virtue. These are the subjects of Eisenmenger's mockery; but does any
reasonable theologian find in these anything ridiculous or impious? I
should be obliged to write a whole book, if I were to answer all the
unjust charges and jeers which have been brought against the Talmudists,
not by Christian writers alone, but even by Jews who wished to pass for

To be just to the rabbis it is necessary to penetrate into the true
spirit of the Talmud, to become thoroughly familiar with the manner in
which the ancients generally, but especially the Orientals, deliver
theological, moral, and even physical truths in fables and allegories,
to become familiar also with the style of Oriental hyperbole in
reference to everything that can be of interest to man. Moreover, the
rabbis should be treated in the spirit in which they themselves excused
Rabbi Meïr who had a heretic for his teacher,--the spirit expressed in a
passage already quoted. If justice is thus dealt to the rabbis, the
Talmud will certainly not show all the absurdities which its opponents
are disposed too readily to find.

The rabbinical method of referring theoretical or practical truths, even
by the oddest exegesis, to passages in the Holy Scriptures or any other
book in general esteem, as if they were truths brought out of such
passages by a rational exegesis,--this method, besides procuring an
introduction for the truths among common men, who are not capable of
grasping them on their own merits, and accept them merely on authority,
is also to be regarded as an excellent aid to the memory; for since, as
presumed, these passages are in everybody's mouth, the truths drawn from
them are also retained by their means. Consequently it very often occurs
in the Talmud, when the question concerns the deduction of a new law
from the Holy Scriptures, that one rabbi derives the law from this or
that passage, while another brings the objection, that this cannot be
the true meaning of the passage, inasmuch as the true meaning is this or
that. To such an objection every one is wont to reply, that it is a new
law of the rabbis, who merely refer it to the passage mentioned.

As it is therefore universally presupposed that this method is familiar,
the Talmudists regard it as unnecessary to inculcate it anew on every
occasion. A single example will suffice to illustrate this. One
Talmudist asked another the meaning of the following passage in the
Book of Joshua (xv., 22), _Kinah Vedimonah Veadadah_.[37] The latter
replied, "Here are enumerated the then familiar places of the Holy
Land." "Of course!" rejoined the other. "I know very well that these are
names of places. But, Rabbi ---- knows how to bring out of these,
besides the proper meaning, something _useful_, namely this:--'(Kinah)
He to whom his neighbour gives occasion for revenge, (Vedimonah) and who
yet, out of generosity, keeps silence, taking no revenge, (Veadadah) to
him will the Eternal execute justice.'" What a fine opportunity this
would be for laughing at the poor Talmudist, who derives a moral
sentence from particular names of places, and besides makes in an
extraordinary manner a compound out of the last name, _Sansannah_,[38]
if he had not himself explained that he is seeking to know, not the
_true meaning_ of the passage, but merely a _doctrine_ which may be
referred to it.

Again, the Talmudists have referred to a passage in Isaiah the important
doctrine, that in morals the principal object is, not theory, but
practice, by which theory receives its true value. The passage runs as
follows:--"The expectation of thy happiness"--that is, the happiness
promised by the prophet--"will have for its consequence strength, help,
wisdom, knowledge, and the fear of God."[39] Here they refer the first
six subjects to the six _Sedarim_ or divisions of the Mishnah, which are
the foundation of all Jewish learning. _Emunath_ (Expectation) is Seder
Seraim; _Etecho_ (Happiness) is Seder Moad, and so on. That is to say,
you may be ever so well versed in all these six _sedarim_; yet the main
point is the last, the fear of God.

As far as rabbinical morals in other respects are concerned, I know in
truth nothing that can be urged against them, except perhaps their
excessive strictness in many cases. They form in fact genuine Stoicism,
but without excluding other serviceable principles, such as perfection,
universal benevolence, and the like. Holiness with them extends even to
the thoughts. This principle is, in the usual fashion, referred to the
following passage in the Psalms, "Thou shalt have no strange God in
thee";[40] for in the human heart, it is argued, no strange God can
dwell, except evil desires. It is not allowed to deceive even a heathen
either by deeds or by words--not even in cases where he could lose
nothing by the deceit. For example, the common form of courtesy, "I am
glad to see you well," is not to be used, if it does not express the
real sentiments of the heart. The examples of Jews who cheat Christians
and heathens, which are commonly adduced against this statement, prove
nothing, inasmuch as these Jews do not act in accordance with the
principles of their own morals.

The commandment, "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy
neighbour's," is so expounded by the Talmudists, that we must guard
against even the wish to possess any such thing. In short, I should
require to write a whole book, if I were to adduce all the excellent
doctrines of rabbinical morals.

The influence of these doctrines in practical life also is unmistakable.
The Polish Jews, who have always been allowed to adopt any means of
gain, and have not, like the Jews of other countries, been restricted to
the pitiful occupation of _Schacher_ or usurer, seldom hear the reproach
of cheating. They remain loyal to the country in which they live, and
support themselves in an honourable way.

Their charity and care for the poor, their institutions for nursing the
sick, their special societies for burial of the dead, are well enough
known. It is not nurses and grave-diggers _hired for money_, but the
_elders of the people_, who are eager to perform these acts. The Polish
Jews are indeed for the most part not yet enlightened by science, their
manners and way of life are still rude; but they are loyal to the
religion of their fathers and the laws of their country. They do not
come before you with courtesies, but their promise is sacred. They are
not gallants, but your women are safe from any snares with them. Woman,
indeed, after the manner of the Orientals in general, is by them not
particularly esteemed; but all the more on that account are they
resolved on fulfilling their duties towards her. Their children do not
learn by heart any _forms_ for expressing love and respect for their
parents--for they do not keep French _demoiselles_;--but they show that
love and respect all the more heartily.

The sacredness of their marriages, and the ever fresh tenderness which
arises from this, deserve especially to be mentioned. Every month the
husband is wholly separated from his wife for a fortnight (the period of
monthly purification in accordance with the rabbinical laws); they may
not so much as touch one another, or eat out of the same dish or drink
out of the same cup. By this means satiety is avoided; the wife
continues to be in the eyes of her husband all that she was as maiden in
the eyes of her lover.

Finally, what innocence rules among unmarried persons! It often happens
that a young man or woman of sixteen or eighteen years is married
without knowing the least about the object of marriage. Among other
nations this is certainly very seldom the case.


Jewish Piety and Penances.

In my youth I was of a somewhat strong religious disposition; and as I
observed in most of the rabbis a good deal of pride, quarrelsomeness,
and other evil qualities, they became objects of dislike to me on that
account. I sought therefore as my model only those among them, who are
commonly known by the name of _Chasidim_, or _the Pious_. These are they
who devote the whole of their lives to the strictest observances of the
laws and moral virtues. I had afterwards occasion to remark that these
on their part do harm, less indeed to _others_, but all the more to
_themselves_, inasmuch as they root out the wheat with the tares;[41]
while they seek to suppress their desires and passions, they suppress
also their powers and cramp their activity, so much so as in most cases
by their exercises to bring upon themselves an untimely death.

Two or three instances, of which I was myself an eye-witness, will be
sufficient to establish what has been said. A Jewish scholar, at that
time well known on account of his piety, Simon of Lubtsch, had undergone
the severest exercises of penance. He had already carried out the
_T'shubath Hakana_--the penance of Kana--which consists in fasting daily
for six years, and avoiding for supper anything that comes from a living
being (flesh, milk, honey, etc.). He had also practised _Golath_, that
is, a continuous wandering, in which the penitent is not allowed to
remain two days in the same place; and, in addition, he had worn a
hair-shirt next his skin. But he felt that he would not be doing enough
for the satisfaction of his conscience unless he further observed the
_T'shubath Hamishkal_--the penance of weighing--which requires a
particular form of penance proportioned to every sin. But as he found by
calculation, that the number of his sins was too great to be atoned in
this way, he took it into his head to starve himself to death. After he
had spent some time in this process, he came in his wanderings to the
place where my father lived, and, without anybody in the house knowing,
went into the barn, where he fell upon the ground in utter faintness. My
father came by chance into the barn, and found the man, whom he had long
known, lying half-dead on the ground, with a _Zohar_ (the principal book
of the Cabbalists) in his hand. As he knew well what sort of man this
was, he brought him at once all sorts of refreshments; but the man would
make no use of them in any way. My father came several times, and
repeated his urgent request, that Simon would take something; but it
was of no avail. My father had to attend to something in the house,
whereupon Simon, to escape from his importunity, exerted all his
strength, raised himself up, went out of the barn, and at last out of
the village. When my father came back into the barn again, and found the
man no longer there, he ran after him, and found him lying dead not far
from the village. The affair was generally made known among the Jews,
and Simon became a saint.

Jossel of Klezk proposed nothing less than to hasten the advent of the
Messiah. To this end he performed strict penance, fasted, rolled himself
in snow, undertook night-watches and similar severities. By all sorts of
such operations he believed that he was able to accomplish the overthrow
of a legion of evil spirits, who kept guard on the Messiah, and threw
obstacles in the way of his coming.[42] To these exercises he added at
last many Cabbalistic fooleries--fumigations, conjurations, and similar
practices--till at length he lost his wits on the subject, believed that
he really saw spirits with his eyes open, calling each of them by name.
He would then beat about him, smash windows and stoves under the idea
that these were his foes, the evil spirits, somewhat after the manner of
his forerunner Don Quixote. At last he lay down in complete exhaustion,
from which he was with great difficulty restored, by the physician of
Prince Radzivil.

Unfortunately I could never get further in pious exercises of this sort,
than to abstain for a considerable while from everything that comes from
a living being; and during the Days of Atonement I have sometimes fasted
three days together. I once resolved indeed on undertaking the
_T'shubath Hakana_; but this project, like others of the same sort,
remained unfulfilled, after I had adopted the opinions of Maimonides,
who was no friend of fanaticism or pietism. It is remarkable, that at
the time when I still observed the rabbinical regulations with the
utmost strictness, I yet would not observe certain ceremonies which have
something comical about them. Of this kind, for example, was the
_Malketh_ (Beating) before the Great Day of Atonement, in which every
Jew lays himself on his face in the synagogue, while another with a
narrow strip of leather gives him thirty-nine lashes. Of the same sort
is _Haphorath Nedarim_, or the act of setting free from vows on New
Year's Eve. In this three men are seated, while another appears before
them, and addresses to them a certain form, the general drift of which
is as follows:--"Sirs, I know what a heinous sin it is, not to fulfil
vows; and inasmuch as I have doubtless this year made some vows which I
have not fulfilled, and which I can no longer recollect, I beg of you
that you will set me free from the same. I do not indeed repent of the
good resolutions to which I have bound myself by these vows; I repent
merely of the fact, that in making such resolutions I did not add, that
they were not to have the force of a vow," etc., etc. Thereupon he
withdraws from the judgment-seat, pulls off his shoes, and sits down on
the bare ground, by which he is supposed to banish himself till his vows
are dissolved. After he has sat for some time, and said a prayer by
himself, the judges begin to call aloud, "Thou art our brother! thou art
our brother! thou art our brother! There is no vow, no oath, no
banishment any longer, after thou hast submitted thyself to the
judgment. Rise from the ground and come to us!" This they repeat three
times, and with that the man is at once set free from all his vows.

At serio-comic scenes of this sort I could only with the greatest
difficulty refrain from laughing. A blush of shame came over me, when I
was to undertake such performances. I sought therefore, if I was pressed
on the subject, to free myself by the pretext, that I had either already
attended to it, or was going to attend to it, in another synagogue. A
very remarkable psychological phenomenon! It might be thought impossible
for any one to be ashamed of actions which he saw others performing
without the slightest blush of shame. Yet this was the case here. This
phenomenon can be explained only by the fact, that in all my actions I
had regard first to the nature of the action in itself (whether it was
right or wrong, proper or improper), then to its nature in relation to
some end, and that I justified it as a means, only when it was not in
itself incapable of being justified. This principle was developed
afterwards in my whole system of religion and morals. On the other hand,
the most of men act on the principle, that the end justifies the means.


Friendship and Enthusiasm.

In the place where I resided I had a bosom friend, Moses Lapidoth by
name. We were of the same age, the same studies, and nearly the same
external circumstances, the only difference being, that at an early
period I already showed an inclination to the sciences, while Lapidoth
had indeed a love of speculation, and also great acuteness and power of
judgment, but had no wish to proceed further than he could reach by a
mere sound common sense. With this friend I used to hold many a
conversation on subjects of mutual interest, especially the questions of
religion and morals.

We were the only persons in the place, who ventured to be not mere
imitators, but to think independently about everything. It was a natural
result of this, that, as we differed from all the rest of the community
in our opinions and conduct, we separated ourselves from them by
degrees; but, as we had still to live by the community, our
circumstances on this account became every day worse and worse. 'Tis
true, we noted this fact, but nevertheless we were unwilling to
sacrifice our favourite inclinations for any interest in the world. We
consoled ourselves therefore, as best we might, over our loss, spoke
constantly of the vanity of all things, of the religious and moral
faults of the common herd, upon whom we looked down with a sort of noble
pride and contempt.

We used especially to open our minds, _à la Mandeville_, on the
hollowness of human virtue. For example, smallpox had been very
prevalent in the place, and thereby many children had been carried off.
The elders held a meeting to find out the secret sins, on account of
which they were suffering this punishment, as they viewed it. After
instituting an inquiry it was found, that a young widow of the Jewish
people was holding too free intercourse with some servants of the manor.
She was sent for, but no sort of inquisition could elicit from her
anything beyond the fact, that these people were in the habit of
drinking mead at her house, and that, as was reasonable, she received
them in a pleasant and polite manner, but that in other respects she was
unconscious of any sin in the matter. As no other evidence was
forthcoming, she was about to be acquitted, when an elderly matron came
flying like a fury and screamed, "Scourge her! scourge her! till she has
confessed her sin! If you do not do it, then may the guilt of the death
of so many innocent souls fall upon you!" Lapidoth was present with me
at this scene, and said, "Friend, do you suppose that Madam is making so
fierce a complaint against this woman, merely because she is seized
with a holy zeal and feeling for the general welfare? Oh no! She is
enraged, merely because the widow still possesses attractions, while she
herself can no longer make claim to any." I assured him that his opinion
was thoroughly in accordance with my own.

Lapidoth had poor parents-in-law. His father-in-law was Jewish sexton,
and by his slender pay could support his family only in a very sorry
style. Every Friday the poor man was therefore compelled to listen to
all sorts of reproach and abuse from his wife, because he could not
provide her with what was indispensable for the holy Sabbath. Lapidoth
told me about this with the addition:--"My mother-in-law wants to make
me to believe that she is zealous merely for the honour of the holy
Sabbath. Nay, verily; she is zealous merely for the honour of her own
holy paunch, which she cannot fill as she would like; the holy Sabbath
serves her merely as a pretext."

Once when we were taking a walk on the wall round the town, and
conversing about the tendency of men, which is evinced in such
expressions, to deceive themselves and others, I said to Lapidoth,
"Friend, let us be fair, and pass our censure on ourselves, as well as
on others. Is not the contemplative life which we lead, and which is by
no means adapted to our circumstances, to be regarded as a result of our
indolence and inclination to idleness, which we seek to defend by
reflections on the vanity of all things? We are content with our
present circumstances; why? Because we cannot alter them without first
fighting against our inclination to idleness. With all our pretence of
contempt for everything outside of us, we cannot avoid the secret wish
to be able to enjoy better food and clothing than at present. We
reproach our friends as vain men addicted to the pleasures of sense,
because they have abandoned our mode of life, and undertaken occupations
adapted to their powers. But wherein consists our superiority over them,
when we merely follow our inclination as they follow theirs? Let us seek
to find this superiority merely in the fact, that we at least confess
this truth to ourselves, while they profess as the motive of their
actions, not the satisfaction of their own particular desires, but the
impulse to general utility." Lapidoth, on whom my words produced a
powerful impression, answered with some warmth, "Friend, you are
perfectly right. If we cannot now mend our faults, we will not deceive
ourselves about them, but at least keep the way open for amendment."

In conversations of this kind we two cynics spent our pleasantest hours,
while we made ourselves merry sometimes at the expense of the world,
sometimes at our own. Lapidoth, for example, whose old dirty clothes had
all fallen into rags, and one of whose sleeves was wholly parted from
the rest of his coat, while he was not in a position even to have it
mended, used to fix the sleeve on his back with a pin, and to ask me,
"Don't I look like a _Schlachziz_ (a Polish noble)?" I, again, could
not sufficiently commend my rent shoes, which were quite open at the
toes, because, as I said, "They do not squeeze the foot."

The harmony of our inclinations and manner of life, along with some
difference in our talents, made our conversation all the more agreeable.
I had more talent for the sciences, made more earnest endeavours after
thoroughness and accuracy of knowledge than Lapidoth. He, on the other
hand, had the advantage of a lively imagination, and consequently more
talent for eloquence and poetry than I. If I produced a new thought, my
friend knew how to illustrate it, and, as it were, to give it embodiment
in a multitude of examples. Our affection for one another went so far,
that, whenever it was practicable, we spent day and night in each
other's company, and the first thing we did, on returning home from the
places where we severally acted as family-tutors, was to visit each
other, even before seeing our own families. At last we began to neglect
on this account the usual hours of prayer. Lapidoth first undertook to
prove, that the Talmudists themselves offered up their prayers, not
exclusively in the synagogue, but sometimes in their study-chambers.
Afterwards he pointed out also, that the prayers held to be necessary
are not all equally so, but that some may be dispensed with altogether:
even those, which are recognised as necessary, we curtailed by degrees,
till at last they were totally neglected.

Once, when we went for a walk on the wall during the hour of prayer,
Lapidoth said to me, "Friend, what is going to become of us? We do not
pray now at all."

"What do you mean by that?" I inquired.

"I throw myself," said Lapidoth, "on the mercy of God, who certainly
will not punish his children severely for a slight neglect."

"God is not merely _merciful_," I replied; "He is also _just_.
Consequently this reason cannot help us much."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Lapidoth.

I had by this time obtained from Maimonides more accurate ideas of God
and of our duties towards Him. Accordingly I replied, "Our destination
is merely the _attainment of perfection through the knowledge of God and
the imitation of His actions_. Prayer is simply the expression of our
knowledge of the divine perfections, and, as a result of this knowledge,
is intended merely for the common man who cannot of himself attain to
this knowledge; and therefore it is adapted to his mode of conception.
But as we see into the end of prayer, and can attain to this end
directly, we can dispense altogether with prayer as something

This reasoning appeared to us both to be sound. We resolved therefore,
for the purpose of avoiding offence, to go out of the house every
morning with our _Taleth_ and _Tephilim_ (Jewish instruments of prayer),
not, however, to the synagogue, but to our favourite retreat, the wall,
and by this means we fortunately escaped the Jewish Inquisition.

But this enthusiastic companionship, like everything else in the world,
had to come to an end. As we were both married, and our marriages were
tolerably fruitful, we were obliged, for the purpose of supporting our
families, to accept situations as family-tutors. By this means we were
not infrequently separated, and afterwards were able to spend merely a
few weeks in the year together.


The Life of a Family-Tutor.

The place, where I first occupied the position of family-tutor, was at
the distance of a league from my residence. The family was that of a
miserable farmer in a still more miserable village; and my salary was
five thalers in Polish money. The poverty, ignorance, and rudeness in
the manner of life, which prevailed in this house, were indescribable.
The farmer himself was a man of about fifty years, the whole of whose
face was overgrown with hair, ending in a dirty, thick beard as black as
pitch. His language was a sort of muttering, intelligible only to the
boors, with whom he held intercourse daily. Not only was he ignorant of
Hebrew, but he could not speak a word of Jewish; his only language was
Russian, the common patois of the peasantry. His wife and children were
of the same stamp. Moreover, the apartment, in which they lived, was a
hovel of smoke, black as coal inside and out, without a chimney, but
with merely a small opening in the roof for the exit oi the smoke,--an
opening which was carefully closed as soon as the fire was allowed to go
out, so that the heat might not escape.

The windows were narrow strips of pine laid crosswise over each other,
and covered with paper. This apartment served at once for sitting,
drinking, eating, study and sleep. Think of this room intensely heated,
and the smoke, as is generally the case in winter, driven back by wind
and rain till the whole place is filled with it to suffocation. Here
hang a foul washing and other dirty bits of clothing on poles laid
across the room in order to kill the vermin with the smoke. There hang
sausages to dry, while their fat keeps constantly trickling down on the
heads of people below. Yonder stand tubs with sour cabbage and red
beets, which form the principal food of the Lithuanians. In a corner the
water is kept for daily use, with the dirty water alongside. In this
room the bread is kneaded, cooking and baking are done, the cow is
milked, and all sorts of operations are carried on.

In this magnificent dwelling the peasants sit on the bare ground; you
dare not sit higher if you do not wish to be suffocated with the smoke.
Here they guzzle their whiskey and make an uproar, while the people of
the house sit in a corner. I usually took my place behind the stove with
my dirty half-naked pupils, and expounded to them out of an old tattered
Bible, from Hebrew into Russian Jewish. All this together made such a
splendid group as deserved to be sketched only by a Hogarth, and to be
sung only by a Butler.

It may be easily imagined, how pitiable my condition here must have
been. Whiskey had to form my sole comfort; it made me forget all my
misery. This was increased by the fact, that a regiment of Russians, who
were rioting at that time with every conceivable cruelty on the estates
of Prince Radzivil, was stationed in the village and its neighbourhood.
The house was constantly full of drunken Russians, who committed all
sorts of excesses, hewed to pieces tables and benches, threw glasses and
bottles into the faces of the people of the house, and so on. To give
merely one example, a Russian, who was stationed in this house as guard,
and whose charge it was to secure the house against all violence, came
home once drunk, and demanded something to eat. A dish of millet with
butter was placed before him cooked. He shoved the dish away, and
shouted an order for more butter. A whole small tub of butter was
brought, when he shouted again an order for another dish. This was
brought immediately, whereupon he threw all the butter into it, and
called for spirits. A whole bottle was brought, and he poured it
likewise into the dish. Thereafter milk, pepper, salt, and tobacco, in
large quantities had to be brought to him, the whole being put in, and
the mixture devoured. After he had taken some spoonfuls, he began to
strike about him, pulled the host by the beard, struck him in the face
with his fist, so that the blood flowed out of his mouth, poured some of
his glorious broth down his throat, and went on in this riotous manner
till he became so drunk that he could no longer support himself, and
fell to the ground.

Such scenes were at that time very common everywhere in Poland. If a
Russian army passed a place, they took with them a _prowodnik_, or
guide, to the next place. But instead of seeking to be supplied by the
mayor or the village magistrate, they used to seize the first person
whom they met on the road. He might be young or old, male or female,
healthy or sick, it mattered nothing to them; for they knew the road
well enough from special charts, and only sought an opportunity for
outrage. If it happened that the person seized did not know the way at
all, and did not show them the right road, they did not allow themselves
to be sent astray on this account; they selected the road all right, but
they cudgelled the poor prowodnik till he was half-dead, _for not
knowing the way_!

I was once seized as a prowodnik myself. I did not indeed know the way,
but luckily I hit upon it by chance. Fortunately, therefore, I reached
the proper place, and the only violence I suffered, besides a good many
blows and kicks from the Russian soldiers, was the threat, that, if ever
I led them astray, I should certainly be flayed alive--a threat which
they might be trusted with carrying into execution.

The other places which I filled as tutor were more or less similar to
this. In one of these a remarkable psychological incident occurred in
which I took the principal part and which is to be described in the
sequel. An incident of the same kind, however, which happened to
another person and of which I was simply eye-witness, must be mentioned

A tutor in the next village, who was a somnambulist, rose one night from
his bed and went to the village churchyard with a volume of the Jewish
ceremonial laws in his hand. After remaining some time there he returned
to his bed. In the morning he rose up, without remembering the least of
what had happened during the night, and went to the chest where his copy
of the ceremonial laws was usually kept, in order to take out the first
part, _Orach Chajim_ or the Way of Life, which he was accustomed to read
every morning. The code consists of four parts, each of which was bound
separately, and all the four had certainly been locked up in the chest.
He was therefore astonished to find only three of the parts, _Joreh
Deah_ or the Teacher of Wisdom, being awanting. As he knew about his
disease he searched everywhere, till at last he came to the churchyard
where he found the _Joreh Deah_ lying open at the chapter, _Hilchoth
Abheloth_ or the Laws of Mourning. He took this for a bad omen and came
home much disquieted. On being asked the cause of his disquietude he
related the incident which had occurred, with the addition, "Ah! God
knows how my poor mother is!" He begged of his master the loan of a
horse and permission to ride to the nearest town, where his mother
lived, in order to enquire after her welfare. As he had to pass the
place where I was tutor, and I saw him riding in great excitement
without being willing to dismount even for a little while, I asked him
the cause of his excitement when he related to me the above-mentioned

I was astonished, not so much about the particular circumstances of this
incident, as about somnambulism in general, of which till then I had
known nothing. My friend, on the other hand, assured me that
somnambulism was a common occurrence with him, and that it meant
nothing, but that the circumstance of the _Hilchoth Abheloth_ made him
forebode some misfortune. Thereupon he rode off, arrived at his mother's
house, and found her seated at her frame for needlework. She asked him
the reason of his coming, when he replied that he had come merely to pay
her a visit, as he had not seen her for a long time. After he had rested
for a good while, he rode back; but his disquietude was by no means
wholly removed, and the thought of the _Hilchoth Abheloth_ he could not
get out of his head. The third day after, a fire broke out in the town
where his mother lived, and the poor woman perished in the flames.
Scarcely had the son heard of the conflagration, when he began to lament
that his mother had so miserably perished. He rode off in all haste to
the town, and found what he had foreboded.


Also on a Secret Society, and therefore a Long Chapter.

About this time I became acquainted with a sect of my nation, called the
_New Chasidim_, which was then coming into prominence. _Chasidim_ is the
name generally given by the Hebrews to the _pious_, that is, to those
who distinguish themselves by exercising the strictest piety. These
were, from time immemorial, men who had freed themselves from worldly
occupations and pleasures, and devoted their lives to the strictest
exercise of the laws of religion and penance for their sins. As already
mentioned, they sought to accomplish this object by prayers and other
exercises of devotion, by chastisement of the body and similar means.

But about this time some among them set themselves up for founders of a
new sect. They maintained that true piety does not by any means consist
in chastisement of the body, by which the spiritual quiet and
cheerfulness, necessary to the knowledge and love of God, are disturbed.
On the contrary, they maintained that man must satisfy all his bodily
wants, and seek to enjoy the pleasures of sense, so far as may be
necessary for the development of our feelings, inasmuch as God has
created all for his glory. The true service of God, according to them,
consists in exercises of devotion with exertion of all our powers, and
annihilation of self before God; for they maintain that man, in
accordance with his destination, can reach the highest perfection only
when he regards himself, not as a being that exists and works for
himself, but merely as an organ of the Godhead. Instead therefore of
spending their lives in separation from the world, in suppression of
their natural feelings, and in deadening their powers, they believed
that they acted much more to the purpose, when they sought to develop
their natural feelings as much as possible, to bring their powers into
exercise, and constantly to widen their sphere of work.

It must be acknowledged, that both of these opposite methods have
something true for a foundation. Of the former the foundation is
obviously Stoicism, that is, an endeavour to determine actions by free
will in accordance with a higher principle than passion; the latter is
founded on the system of perfection. Only both, like everything else in
the world, may be abused, and are abused in actual life. Those of the
first sect drive their penitential disposition to extravagance; instead
of merely regulating their desires and passions by rules of moderation,
they seek to annihilate them; and, instead of endeavouring, like the
Stoics, to find the principle of their actions in pure reason, they seek
it rather in religion. This is a pure source, it is true; but as these
people have false ideas of religion itself, and their virtue has for its
foundation merely the future rewards and punishments of an arbitrary
tyrannical being who governs by mere caprice, in point of fact their
actions flow from an impure source, namely the principle of interest.
Moreover, in their case this interest rests merely on fancies, so that,
in this respect, they are far below the grossest Epicureans, who have,
it is true, a low, but still a real interest as the end of their
actions. Only then can religion yield a principle of virtue, when it is
itself founded on the idea of virtue.

The adherents of the second sect have indeed more correct ideas of
religion and morals; but since in this respect they regulate themselves
for the most part in accordance with obscure feelings, and not in
accordance with distinct knowledge, they likewise necessarily fall into
all sorts of extravagances. Self-annihilation of necessity cramps their
activity, or gives it a false direction. They have no natural science,
no acquaintance with psychology; and they are vain enough to consider
themselves organs of the Godhead,--which of course they are, to an
extent limited by the degree of perfection they attain. The result is,
that on the credit of the Godhead they perpetrate the greatest excesses;
every extraordinary suggestion is to them a divine inspiration, and
every lively impulse a divine call.

These sects were not in fact different sects of religion; their
difference consisted merely in the mode of their religious exercises.
But still their animosity went so far, that they decried each other as
heretics, and indulged in mutual persecution. At first the new sect held
the upper hand, and extended itself nearly over the whole of Poland, and
even beyond. The heads of the sect ordinarily sent emissaries
everywhere, whose duty it was to preach the new doctrine and procure
adherents. Now, the majority of the Polish Jews consist of scholars,
that is, men devoted to an inactive and contemplative life; for every
Polish Jew is destined from his birth to be a rabbi, and only the
greatest incapacity can exclude him from the office. Moreover, this new
doctrine was to make the way to blessedness easier, inasmuch as it
declared that fasts and vigils and the constant study of the Talmud are
not only useless, but even prejudicial to that cheerfulness of spirit
which is essential to genuine piety. It was therefore natural that the
adherents of the doctrine spread far and wide in a short time.

Pilgrimages were made to K. M. and other holy places, where the
enlightened superiors of this sect abode. Young people forsook parents,
wives and children, and went in troops to visit these superiors, and
hear from their lips the new doctrine. The occasion, which led to the
rise of this sect was the following.[43]

I have already remarked that, since the time when the Jews lost their
national position and were dispersed among other nations where they are
more or less tolerated, they have had no internal form of government but
their religious constitution, by which they are held together and still
form, in spite of their political dispersion, an organic whole. Their
leaders, therefore, have allowed themselves to be occupied with nothing
so much as with imparting additional strength to this, the only bond of
union by which the Jews still constitute a nation. But the doctrines of
their faith and the laws of their religion take their origin in the Holy
Scriptures, while these leave much that is indefinite in regard to their
exposition and application to particular cases. Consequently the aid of
tradition is of necessity called in, and by this means the method of
expounding the Holy Scriptures, as well as the deduction of cases left
undetermined by them, is made to appear as if specified in determinate
laws. This tradition could not of course be entrusted to the whole
nation, but merely to a particular body--a sort of legislative

By this means, however, the evil was not avoided. Tradition itself left
much that was still indeterminate. The deduction of particular cases
from the general, and the new laws demanded by the circumstances of
different times, gave occasion for many controversies; but through these
very controversies and the mode of their settlement, this body became
always more numerous, and its influence on the nation more powerful.
The Jewish constitution is therefore in its form aristocratic, and is
accordingly exposed to all the abuses of an aristocracy. The unlearned
classes of the people, being burdened with the care of supporting not
only themselves but also the indispensable learned class, were unable to
give their attention to abuses of the kind. But from time to time men
have arisen out of the legislative body itself, who have not only
denounced its abuses, but have even called in question its authority.

Of this sort was the founder of the Christian religion, who at the very
outset placed himself in opposition to the tyranny of this aristocracy,
and brought back the whole ceremonial law to its origin, namely, a pure
moral system, to which the ceremonial law stands related as means to
end. In this way the reformation at least of a part of the nation was
accomplished. Of the same sort also was the notorious Shabbethai Zebi,
who, at the close of last century[44] set himself up as Messiah, and was
going to abolish the whole ceremonial law, especially the rabbinical
institutions. A moral system founded upon reason would, owing to the
deeply rooted prejudices of the nation at that time, have been powerless
to work out a wholesome reformation. To their prejudices and fanaticism
therefore it was necessary to oppose prejudices and fanaticism. This
was done in the following way.

A secret society, whose founders belonged to the disaffected spirits of
the nation, had already taken root in it for a long time. A certain
French rabbi, named Moses de Leon, is said, according to Rabbi Joseph
Candia, to have composed the _Zohar_, and to have foisted it upon the
nation as an old book having for its author the celebrated Talmudist,
Rabbi ben Jochai. This book contains, as stated above, an exposition of
the Holy Scriptures in accordance with the principles of the Cabbalah;
or rather, it contains these principles themselves delivered in the form
of an exposition of the Holy Scriptures, and drawn, as it were, from
these. It has, like Janus, a double face, and admits, therefore, of a
double interpretation.

The one is that which is given with great diffuseness in Cabbalistic
writings, and has been brought into a system. Here is a wide field for
the imagination, where it can revel at will without being in the end
better instructed on the matter than before. Here are delivered, in
figurative language, many moral and physical truths, which lose
themselves at last in the labyrinth of the hyperphysical. This method of
treating the Cabbalah is peculiar to Cabbalistic scholars, and
constitutes the lesser mysteries of this secret society.

The second method, on the other hand, concerns the secret political
meaning of the Cabbalah, and is known only to the superiors of the
secret society. These superiors themselves, as well as their operations,
remain ever unknown; the rest of the society you may become acquainted
with, if you choose. But the latter _cannot_ betray political secrets
which are unknown to themselves, while the former _will not_ do it,
because it is against their interest. Only the lesser (purely literary)
mysteries are entrusted to the people, and urged upon them as matters of
the highest importance. The greater (political) mysteries are not
taught, but, as a matter of course, are brought into practice.

A certain Cabbalist, Rabbi Joel Baalshem[45] by name, became very
celebrated at this time on account of some lucky cures which he effected
by means of his medical acquirements and his conjuring tricks, as he
gave out that all this was done, not by natural means, but solely by
help of the _Cabbalah Maasith_ (the practical Cabbalah), and the use of
sacred names. In this way he played a very successful game in Poland. He
also took care to have followers in his art. Among his disciples were
some, who took hold of his profession, and made themselves a name by
successful cures and the detection of robberies. With their cures the
process was quite natural. They employed the common means of medicine,
but after the usual method of the conjurer they sought to turn the
attention of the spectator from these, and direct it to their
Cabbalistic hocus-pocus. The robberies they either brought about
themselves, or they discovered them by means of their detectives, who
were spread all over the country.

Others of greater genius and a nobler mode of thinking, formed far
grander plans. They saw that their private interest, as well as the
general interest, could be best promoted by gaining the people's
confidence, and this they sought to command by enlightenment. Their plan
was therefore moral and political at the same time.[46] At first it
appeared as if they would merely do away with the abuses which had crept
into the Jewish system of religion and morals; but this drew after it of
necessity a complete abrogation of the whole system. The principal
points which they attacked were these:--

1. The abuse of rabbinical learning. Instead of simplifying the laws and
rendering them capable of being known by all, the learning of the rabbis
leaves them still more confused and indefinite. Moreover, being occupied
only with the study of the laws, it gives as much attention to those
which are no longer of any application, such as the laws of sacrifice,
of purification, etc., as to those which are still in use. Besides, it
is not the study, but the observance of the laws, that forms the chief
concern, since the study of them is not an end in itself, but merely a
means to their observance. And, finally, in the observance of the laws
the rabbis have regard merely to the external ceremony, not to the moral

2. The abuse of piety on the part of the so-called penitents. These
become very zealous, it is true, about the practice of virtue. Their
motive to virtue, however, is not that knowledge of God and His
perfection, which is based on reason; it consists rather in false
representations of God and His attributes. They failed therefore of
necessity to find true virtue, and hit upon a spurious imitation.
Instead of aspiring after likeness to God, and striving to escape from
the bondage of sensual passions into the dominion of a free will that
finds its motive in reason, they sought to annihilate their passions by
annihilating their powers of activity, as I have already shown by some
deplorable examples.

On the other hand, those who sought to enlighten the people required, as
an indispensable condition of true virtue, a cheerful state of mind
disposed to every form of active exertion; and they not only allowed,
but even recommended, a moderate enjoyment of all kinds of pleasure as
necessary for the attainment of this cheerful disposition. Their worship
consisted in a voluntary elevation above the body, that is, in an
abstraction of the thoughts from all created things, even from the
individual self, and in union with God. By this means a kind of
self-denial arose among them, which led them to ascribe, not to
themselves, but to God alone, all the actions undertaken in this state.
Their worship therefore consisted in a sort of speculative adoration,
for which they held no special time or formula to be necessary, but they
left each one to determine it according to the degree of his knowledge.
Still they chose for it most commonly the hours set apart for the public
worship of God. In their public worship they endeavoured mainly to
attain that elevation above the body, which has been described; they
became so absorbed in the idea of the divine perfection, that they lost
the idea of everything else, even of their own body, and, as they gave
out, the body became in this state wholly devoid of feeling.

Such abstraction, however, was a very difficult matter; and accordingly,
whenever they came out of this state by new suggestions taking
possession of their minds, they laboured, by all sorts of _mechanical
operations_, such as movements and cries, to bring themselves back into
the state once more, and to keep themselves in it without interruption
during the whole time of their worship. It was amusing to observe how
they often interrupted their prayers by all sorts of extraordinary tones
and comical gestures, which were meant as threats and reproaches against
their adversary, the Evil Spirit, who tried to disturb their devotion;
and how by this means they wore themselves out to such an extent, that,
on finishing their prayers, they commonly fell down in complete

It is not to be denied that, however sound may be the basis of such a
worship, it is subject to abuse just as much as the other. The internal
activity following upon cheerfulness of mind, must depend on the degree
of knowledge acquired. Self-annihilation before God is only then
well-founded, when a man's faculty of knowledge, owing to the grandeur
of its object, is so entirely occupied with that object, that he exists,
as it were, out of himself, in the object alone. If, on the contrary,
the faculty of knowledge is limited in respect of its object, so that it
is incapable of any steady progress, then the activity mentioned, by
being concentrated on this single object, is repressed rather than
stimulated. Some simple men of this sect, who sauntered about idly the
whole day with pipe in mouth, when asked, what they were thinking about
all the time, replied, "We are thinking about God." This answer would
have been satisfactory, if they had constantly sought, by an adequate
knowledge of nature, to extend their knowledge of the divine
perfections. But this was impossible in their case, as their knowledge
of nature was extremely limited; and consequently the condition, in
which they concentrated their activity upon an object which, in respect
of their capacity, was unfruitful, became of necessity unnatural.
Moreover, their actions could be ascribed to God, only when they were
the results of an accurate knowledge of God; but when they resulted from
a very limited degree of this knowledge, it was inevitable that all
sorts of excesses should be committed on the credit of God, as
unfortunately the issue has shown.

But the fact that this sect spread so rapidly, and that the new doctrine
met with so much applause among the majority of the nation, may be very
easily explained. The natural inclination to idleness and a life of
speculation on the part of the majority, who from birth are destined to
study, the dryness and unfruitfulness of rabbinical studies, and the
great burden of the ceremonial law, which the new doctrine promised to
lighten, finally the tendency to fanaticism and the love of the
marvellous, which are nourished by this doctrine,--these are sufficient
to make this phenomenon intelligible.

At first the rabbis and the pietists opposed the spread of this sect in
the old fashion; but in spite of this, for the reasons just mentioned,
it maintained the upper hand. Hostilities were practised on both sides.
Each party sought to gain adherents. A ferment arose in the nation, and
opinions were divided.

I could not form any accurate idea of the new sect, and did not know
what to think of it, till I met with a young man, who had already been
initiated into the society, and had enjoyed the good fortune of
conversing with its superiors. This man happened to be travelling
through the place of my abode, and I seized the opportunity of asking
for some information about the internal constitution of the society, the
mode of admission, and so forth. The stranger was still in the lowest
grade of membership, and consequently knew nothing about the internal
constitution of the society. He was therefore unable to give me any
information on the subject; but, as far as the mode of admission was
concerned, he assured me that that was the simplest thing in the world.
Any man, who felt a desire of perfection, but did not know how to
satisfy it, or wished to remove the hindrances to its satisfaction, had
nothing to do but apply to the superiors of the society, and _eo ipso_
he became a member. He did not even require, as you must do on applying
to a medical doctor, to say anything to these superiors about his moral
weakness, his previous life, and matters of that sort, inasmuch as
nothing was unknown to the superiors, they could see into the human
heart, and discern everything that is concealed in its secret recesses,
they could foretell the future, and bring near at hand things that are
remote. Their sermons and moral teachings were not, as these things
commonly are, thought over and arranged in an orderly manner beforehand.
This method is proper only to the man, who regards himself as a being
existing and working for himself apart from God. But the superiors of
this sect hold that their teachings are divine and therefore infallible,
only when they are the result of self-annihilation before God, that is,
when they are suggested to them _ex tempore_, by the exigence of
circumstances, without their contributing anything themselves.

As I was quite captivated by this description I begged the stranger to
communicate to me some of these divine teachings. He clapped his hand on
his brow as if he were waiting for inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and
turned to me with a solemn mien and his arms half-bared, which he
brought into action somewhat like Corporal Trim, when he was reading the
sermon. Then he began as follows:--

"'Sing unto God a new song; His praise is in the congregation of saints'
(Psalm cxlix., 1). Our superiors explain this verse in the following
way. The attributes of God as the most perfect being must surpass by far
the attributes of every finite being; and consequently His praise, as
the expression of His attributes, must likewise surpass the praise of
any such being. Till the present time the praise of God consisted in
ascribing to Him supernatural operations, such as the discovery of what
is concealed, the foreseeing of the future, and the production of
effects immediately by His mere will. Now, however, the saints, that is,
the superiors, are able to perform such supernatural actions themselves.
Accordingly in this respect God has no longer preeminence over them; and
it is therefore necessary to find some new praise, which is proper to
God alone."

Quite charmed with this ingenious method of interpreting the Holy
Scriptures, I begged the stranger for some more expositions of the same
kind. He proceeded therefore in his inspired manner:--"'When the
minstrel played, the spirit of God came upon him' (2 Kings iii. 15).
This is explained in the following way. As long as a man is self-active,
he is incapable of receiving the influence of the Holy Ghost; for this
purpose he must hold himself like an instrument in a purely passive
state. The meaning of the passage is therefore this. When the minstrel
(הַמְּנַגֵּן, the servant of God), becomes like his instrument
(כְּנַגֵּן), then the spirit of God comes upon him."[47]

"Now," said the stranger again, "hear the interpretation of a passage
from the Mishnah, where it is said, 'The honour of thy neighbour shall
be as dear to thee as thine own.' Our teachers explain this in the
following way. It is certain that no man will find pleasure in doing
honour to himself: this would be altogether ridiculous. But it would be
just as ridiculous to make too much of the marks of honour received from
another, as these confer on us no more intrinsic worth than we have
already. This passage therefore means merely, that the honour of thy
neighbour (the honour which thy neighbour shows to thee) must be of as
little value in thine eyes, as thine own (the honour which thou showest
to thyself)."

I could not help being astonished at the exquisite refinement of these
thoughts; and charmed with the ingenious exegesis, by which they were
supported.[48] My imagination was strained to the highest pitch by these
descriptions, and consequently I wished nothing so much as the pleasure
of becoming a member of this honourable society. I resolved therefore to
undertake a journey to M----, where the superior B---- resided. I waited
with the greatest impatience for the close of my period of service,
which lasted still for some weeks. As soon as this came to an end,
instead of going home (though I was only two miles away), I started at
once on my pilgrimage. The journey extended over some weeks.

At last I arrived at M----, and after having rested from my journey I
went to the house of the superior under the idea that I could be
introduced to him at once. I was told, however, that he could not speak
to me at the time, but that I was invited to his table on Sabbath along
with the other strangers who had come to visit him; that I should then
have the happiness of seeing the saintly man face to face, and of
hearing the sublimest teachings out of his own mouth; that although this
was a public audience, yet, on account of the individual references
which I should find made to myself, I might regard it as a special

Accordingly on Sabbath I went to this solemn meal, and found there a
large number of respectable men who had met here from various quarters.
At length the great man appeared in his awe-inspiring form, clothed in
white satin. Even his shoes and snuffbox were white, this being among
the Cabbalists the colour of grace. He gave to every new comer his
salaam, that is, his greeting. We sat down to table and during the meal
a solemn silence reigned. After the meal was over, the superior struck
up a solemn inspiriting melody, held his hand for some time upon his
brow, and then began to call out, "Z---- of H----, M---- of R----," and
so on. Every new comer was thus called by his own name and the name of
his residence, which excited no little astonishment. Each recited, as he
was called, some verse of the Holy Scriptures. Thereupon the superior
began to deliver a sermon for which the verses recited served as a text,
so that although they were disconnected verses taken from different
parts of the Holy Scriptures they were combined with as much skill as if
they had formed a single whole. What was still more extraordinary,
every one of the new comers believed that he discovered, in that part of
the sermon which was founded on his verse, something that had special
reference to the facts of his own spiritual life. At this we were of
course greatly astonished.

It was not long, however, before I began to qualify the high opinion I
had formed of this superior and the whole society. I observed that their
ingenious exegesis was at bottom false, and, in addition to that, was
limited strictly to their own extravagant principles, such as the
doctrine of self-annihilation. When a man had once learned these, there
was nothing new for him to bear. The so-called miracles could be very
naturally explained. By means of correspondence and spies and a certain
knowledge of men, by physiognomy and skilful questions, the superiors
were able to elicit indirectly the secrets of the heart, so that they
succeeded with these simple men in obtaining the reputation of being
inspired prophets.

The whole society also displeased me not a little by their cynical
spirit and the excess of their merriment. A single example of this may
suffice. We had met once at the hour of prayer in the house of the
superior. One of the company arrived somewhat late, when the others
asked him the reason. He replied that he had been detained by his wife
having been that evening confined with a daughter. As soon as they heard
this, they began to congratulate him in a somewhat uproarious fashion.
The superior thereupon came out of his study and asked the cause of the
noise. He was told that we were congratulating our friend, because his
wife had brought a girl into the world. "A girl!" he answered with the
greatest indignation, "he ought to be whipped."[49] The poor fellow
protested. He could not comprehend why he should be made to suffer for
his wife having brought a girl into the world. But this was of no avail:
he was seized, thrown down on the floor, and whipped unmercifully. All
except the victim fell into an hilarious mood over the affair, upon
which the superior called them to prayer in the following words, "Now,
brethren, _serve the Lord with gladness_!"

I would not stay in the place any longer. I sought the superior's
blessing, took my departure from the society with the resolution to
abandon it for ever, and returned home.

Now I shall say something of the internal constitution of the society.
The superiors may, according to my experience, be brought under four
heads: (1) the prudent, (2) the crafty, (3) the powerful,[50] (4) the

The highest class, which rules all the others, is of course the first.
These are men of enlightenment, who have attained a deep knowledge of
the weaknesses of men and the motives of their actions, and have early
learned the truth that prudence is better than power, inasmuch as power
is in part dependent on prudence, while prudence is independent of
power. A man may have as many powers and in as high a degree as he will,
still his influence is always limited. By prudence, however, and a sort
of psychological mechanics, that is, an insight into the best possible
use of these powers and their direction, they may be infinitely
strengthened. These prudent leaders, therefore, have devoted themselves
to the art of ruling free men, that is, of using the will and powers of
other men, so that while these believe themselves to be advancing merely
their own ends, they are in reality advancing the ends of their leaders.
This can be maintained by a judicious combination and regulation of the
powers, so that by the slightest touch upon this instrument it may
produce the greatest effect. There is here no deceit, for, as
presupposed, the others themselves reach their own ends by this means

The second class, the crafty, also use the will and the powers of others
for the attainment of their ends; but in regard to these ends they are
more short-sighted or more impetuous than the former class. It often
happens, therefore, that they seek to attain their ends at the expense
of others; and their skill consists not merely in attaining their own
ends, like the first class, but in carefully concealing from others the
fact that they have not reached theirs.

The powerful are men who, by their inborn or acquired moral force, rule
over the weakness of others, especially when their force is such as is
seldom found in others, as, for example, the control of all the passions
but one, which is made the end of their actions.

The good are weak men who are merely passive in respect of their
knowledge and power of will, and whose ends are reached, not by
controlling, but by allowing themselves to be controlled.

The highest class, that of the prudent, supervising all the others
without being under their supervision, as a matter of course rules them
all. It makes use of the crafty on their good side, and seeks to make
them harmless on their other side by outwitting them, so that when they
believe they are deceiving, they themselves are deceived. It makes use,
moreover, of the powerful for the attainment of more important ends, but
seeks, when necessary, to keep them in check by the opposition of
several, it may be weaker, powers. Finally it makes use of the good for
the attainment of its ends, not merely with them but also with others,
inasmuch as it commends these weak brethren to the others as an example
of submission that is worthy of imitation, and by this means clears out
of the way those hindrances that arise from the independent activity of
the others.

This highest class begins usually with Stoicism, and ends with
Epicureanism. Its members consist of pious men of the first sort, that
is, such as have for a considerable time devoted themselves to the
strictest exercise of religious and moral laws, to the control of their
desires and passions. But they do not, like the Stoic, look upon
Stoicism as an end in itself; they regard it merely as a means to the
highest end of man, namely, happiness. They do not therefore remain at
the Stoical stage, but, after having obtained from it all that is
necessary to the highest end, they hasten to that end itself, the
enjoyment of happiness. By their exercise in the strictest Stoicism
their sensibility for all sorts of pleasure is heightened and ennobled,
instead of becoming duller, as it is with gross Epicureans. By means of
this exercise also they are placed in a position to defer every pleasure
that presents itself till they have determined its real worth, which a
gross Epicurean will not do.

The first impulse to Stoicism, however, must lie in the temperament, and
it is only by a kind of self-deception that it is shifted to the account
of voluntary activity. But this vanity imparts courage for actual
undertakings of a voluntary nature, and this courage is continually
fired by their successful issue. As the superiors of this sect are not
men of science, it is not to be supposed that they have hit upon their
system by the guidance of reason alone. Rather, as already said, the
motive was, in the first instance, temperament, in the second, religious
ideas; and it was only after that, that they could attain to a clear
knowledge and practice of their system in its purity.

This sect was therefore, in regard to its end and its means, a sort of
secret society, which had nearly acquired dominion over the whole
nation; and consequently one of the greatest revolutions was to have
been expected, if the excesses of some of its members had not laid bare
many weak spots, and thus put weapons into the hands of its enemies.
Some among them, who wished to pass for genuine Cynics, violated all the
laws of decency, wandered about naked in the public streets, attended to
the wants of nature in the presence of others, and so on. By their
practice of extemporising, as a consequence of their principle of
self-annihilation, they introduced into their sermons all sorts of
foolish, unintelligible, confused stuff. By this means some of them
became insane, and believed that in fact they were no longer in
existence. To all this must be added their pride and contempt of others
who did not belong to their sect, especially of the rabbis, who, though
they had their faults, were still far more active and useful than these
ignorant idlers. Men began to find out their weaknesses, to disturb
their meetings, and to persecute them everywhere. This was brought about
especially by the authority of a celebrated rabbi, Elias of Wilna,[51]
who stood in great esteem among the Jews, so that now scarcely any
traces of the society can be found scattered here and there.


Continuation of the Former, and also something about Religious

After the account of the secret society in the last chapter, this seems
the most appropriate place to state, for the examination of the
thoughtful reader, my opinion about _mysteries in general_, and about
the _mysteries of religion_ in particular.

_Mysteries in general_ are modes of the causal relation between objects
in nature,--modes which are real or held to be real, but which cannot be
disclosed to every man by the natural use of his powers of knowledge.
_Eternal truths_, that is, those necessary relations of objects which
are founded on the nature of our powers of knowledge, however few may be
familiar with them, are not, according to this definition, mysteries,
because any one can discover them by the use of his powers of knowledge.

On the other hand, the results of _sympathy_ and _antipathy_, the
medical _specifics_, and similar effects, which some men fall upon by
mere accident, and which they afterwards find confirmed by means of
observations and experiments, are genuine _mysteries of nature_, which
can be made known to another person, not by the use of his powers of
knowledge, but only either by an accident of the same kind, or by
communication from the first discoverer. If mysteries of this sort are
not confirmed by observation and experiment, the belief in their reality
is called _superstition_.

_Religion_ is a covenant formed between man and another moral being of a
higher genus. It presupposes a natural relation between man and this
higher moral being, so that, by the mutual fulfilment of their covenant,
they advance the interest of each other. If this natural relation (not
being merely arbitrary and conventional) is real, and the mutual
obligation of the contracting persons is founded on this relation, then
it forms a _true_, but otherwise a _false_, natural religion. If the
mutual obligation between man and the higher being or his
representatives is drawn up in a formal code, there arises a _positive_
or _revealed religion_.

The true religion, natural as well as revealed, which, as already
observed, constitutes Judaism, consists in a contract, at first merely
understood, but afterwards expressed, between man and the Supreme Being,
who revealed Himself to the patriarchs in person (in dreams and
prophetic appearances), and made known by them His will, the reward of
obeying it and the punishment of disobedience, regarding which a
covenant was then with mutual consent concluded. Subsequently, through
his representative Moses, He renewed His covenant with the Israelites in
Egypt, determining more precisely their mutual obligations; and this
was afterwards on both sides formally confirmed on Mount Sinai.

To the thoughtful reader I do not need to say, that the representation
of a covenant between God and man is to be taken merely _analogically_,
and not in its strict sense. The absolutely Perfect Being can reveal
Himself merely _as idea to the reason_. What revealed itself to the
patriarchs and prophets, suitably to their power of comprehension, in
figure, in an anthropomorphic manner, was not the absolutely Perfect
Being Himself, but a representative of Him, His sensible image. The
covenant, which this Being concludes with man, has not for its end the
mutual satisfaction of wants; for the Supreme Being has no wants, and
the wants of man are satisfied, not by means of this covenant, but only
by observation of those relations between himself and other natural
objects, which are founded on the laws of nature. This covenant,
therefore, can have its foundation nowhere but in the nature of reason,
without reference to any end.

Heathenism, in my opinion, is distinguished from Judaism mainly by the
fact, that the latter rests upon the _formal_, absolutely necessary laws
of reason, while the former (even if it be founded on the nature of
things and therefore real) rests upon the _material_ laws of nature
which are merely hypothetically necessary. From this the inevitable
result is polytheism; every particular cause is personified by
imagination, that is, represented as a moral being, and made a
particular deity. At first this result was a matter of mere
_Empiricism_; but by and by men had occasion to observe that these
causes, which were represented as particular deities, were dependent on
each other in their effects, and in a certain aspect subordinate to each
other. There thus arose gradually a whole system of heathen theology, in
which every deity maintains his rank, and his relation to the rest is

Judaism, on the other hand, in its very origin contemplated a _system_,
that is, a unity among the forces of nature; and thereby it received at
last this _pure formal_ unity. This unity is merely of _regulative_ use,
that is, for the complete systematic connection of all the phenomena of
nature; and it presupposes a knowledge of the _multiplicity_ of the
various forces in nature. But owing to their excessive love of system,
and their anxiety for the preservation of the _principle_ in its purity,
the Israelites seem to have wholly neglected its application. The result
was that they preserved a religion which was pure indeed, but at the
same time very unfruitful, both for the extension of knowledge and for
its application in practical life. By this cause may be explained their
constant murmuring against the leaders of their religion, and their
repeated relapse into idolatry. They could not, like enlightened nations
at the present day, direct their attention to purity of principle and
useful application of their religion at the same time, and therefore of
necessity they failed either in the one or in the other. Finally the
Talmudists introduced a merely _formal_ application of religion which
aimed at no real end; and by this means they made matters worse and

This religion, therefore, which, by the intention of its founder, should
have formed the Jews into the wisest and most intelligent of nations,
made them by its injudicious application the most ignorant and
unreasonable of all. Instead of the knowledge of nature being combined
with the knowledge of religion, and the former subordinated to the
latter merely as the material to the formal, the former was altogether
neglected; and the principle, maintained in its mere abstractness,
continued without any application.

Mysteries of religion are objects and acts, which are adapted to ideas
and principles, and the inner meaning of which is of great importance,
but which have in their outward form something unseemly or ridiculous or
otherwise objectionable. They must therefore, even in regard to their
outward form, be kept concealed from the vulgar eye, which cannot
penetrate into the inner meaning of anything; and accordingly for it
they must be a double mystery. That is to say, the objects or acts
themselves constitute the lesser mysteries, and their inner meaning the
greater mysteries.

Of this sort, for example, among the Jews, in the tabernacle, and
afterwards in the Holy of Holies in the temple, was the ark of the
covenant, which, according to the testimony of renowned authors, showed
much resemblance to the sacred chest in the innermost shrine of some
heathen temples. Thus we find among the Egyptians the casket of Apis,
that concealed from the vulgar eye this dead animal, which as a symbol
indeed had an important meaning, but in itself presented a repulsive
aspect. The ark of the covenant in the first temple contained, it is
true, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture, nothing besides the
two tables of the law; but of the ark in the second temple, built after
the Babylonian captivity, I find in the Talmud a passage which is too
remarkable not to be adduced. According to this passage the enemies, who
seized the temple, found in the Holy of Holies the likeness of two
persons of different sex embracing, and profaned the sacred object by a
crass exposition of its inner meaning. This likeness was said to be a
vivid sensible representation of the union between the nation and God,
and, in order to guard against abuse, had to be withdrawn from the eye
of the common people, who cling to the symbol, but do not penetrate to
its inner meaning. For the same reason the _cherubim_ also were
concealed behind the veil.

Of the same sort were the mysteries of the ancients in general. But the
greatest of all mysteries in the Jewish religion consists in the name,
Jehovah, expressing _bare existence_, in abstraction from all
_particular kinds of existence_, which cannot of course be conceived
without _existence in general_. The doctrine of the unity of God, and
the dependence of all beings on Him, in regard to their possibility as
well as their actuality, can be perfectly comprehended only in
conformity with a _single system_. When Josephus, in his apology against
Apion, says, "The first instruction of our religion relates to the
Godhead, and teaches that God comprehends all things, is an absolutely
Perfect and Blessed Being, and is the _sole cause of all existence_," I
believe that these words contain the best explanation of the otherwise
difficult passage, where Moses says to God, "Behold, when I come unto
the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers
hath sent me unto you, and they shall ask, What is his name? what shall
I answer unto them?" and God replies, "Thus shalt thou say unto the
children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob hath sent me unto you, for this is my name for
ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."[52] For, in my
opinion, this passage means nothing more than that the Jewish religion
lays at its foundation the unity of God as the _immediate_ cause of all
existence; and it says therefore precisely the same as the remarkable
inscription on the pyramid at Sais, "I am all that is and was and shall
be; my veil has no mortal removed," and that other inscription under the
column of Isis, "I am that which is." The name, Jehovah, is called by
the Talmudists _Shem haezam_ (_nomen proprium_), the name of the
essence, which belongs to God in Himself, without reference to His
operations. The other names of God, however, are _appellative_, and
express attributes which he has in common with all His creatures, only
that they belong to Him in the most eminent degree. For example,
_Elohim_ is a lord, a judge. _El_ is a mighty one, _Adonai_, a lord; and
the same is the case with all the rest. The Talmudists drive this point
so far as to maintain, that the Holy Scriptures consist merely of the
manifold names of God.

The Cabbalists made use of this principle. Having enumerated the chief
attributes of God, arranged them in order and brought them into a system
which they call _Olam Eziloth_ or _Sephiroth_, they not only picked out
an appropriate name for each in the Holy Scriptures, but they made in
addition all sorts of combinations of these attributes in various
relations, which they expressed by similar combinations of the
corresponding names. They could therefore easily expound the Holy
Scriptures according to their method, inasmuch as they found therein
nothing but what they had before put in themselves.

Besides these there may also be mysteries in a religion which consist in
the knowledge that the religion, as understood by enlightened people,
has no mysteries at all. This knowledge may be connected either with an
endeavour to destroy gradually among the people the belief in mysteries,
and to banish the so-called lesser mysteries by publishing the greater,
or, on the contrary, with an endeavour to preserve among the people the
belief in mysteries, and to make the preservation of the lesser
mysteries part of the subject of the greater.

The Jewish religion, according to the spirit of its founder, is of the
first kind. Moses, as well as the prophets who followed him, sought
constantly to inculcate that the end of religion is not _external
ceremonies_, but the knowledge of the true God as the sole
incomprehensible cause of all things, and the practice of virtue in
accordance with the prescriptions of reason.

The heathen religions, on the other hand, show evident traces of the
second kind. Still I am not, like some, inclined to believe that
everything in these was planned for _intentional deception_, but I
believe that the founders of these religions were for the most part
deceived deceivers; and this mode of representing the matter is far more
in accordance with human nature. I am also unable to imagine that such
secret designs could be propagated, by means of a formal tradition, from
generation to generation. And, moreover, what would have been the use of
this? Have not later generations the same faculty as the earlier of
contriving schemes to reach their ends? There are princes who have never
read Macchiavelli, and yet have admirably carried his principles into

With regard to the society of pietists described above I am persuaded
that it had as little connection with the free-masons as with any other
secret society. But conjectures are allowed, and here we have to do
merely with the _degree of probability_. In my opinion there are in
every state societies which are essentially secret, but which externally
have no appearance of being such. Every body of men with a common
interest is to me a secret society. Its aim and principal operations may
be ever so well known, still the _most important_ of these remain
concealed to the uninitiated. Of such a secret society, as of others,
much good as well as evil may therefore be said; and so long as they do
not carry their mischief too far, they are always tolerated.

The Society of Pietists had a similar end in view to that of the Order
of Illuminati in Bavaria, and employed nearly the same means. Its aim
was to spread itself among people wandering in the dark; and it made use
of superstition in a remarkable manner, as means to this end. It sought
chiefly to attract the youth to itself, and by a sort of empirical
knowledge of men, to educate every member to that, for which he seemed
to be destined by nature, and to assign him his proper place. Every
member of the society was allowed to acquire as much knowledge of its
aim and internal constitution, as enabled him to look merely backwards
on his subordinates, but not forwards on his superiors. These superiors
understood the art of communicating truths of reason by means of sublime
figures, and of translating these figurative representations into truths
of reason. It might almost be said of them, that _they understood the
language of animals_--a very important art, which is indispensable to
every teacher of the people. By doing away with a gloomy piety, their
doctrines met with acceptance among the lively youth. The principle of
self-annihilation, taught by them, is, when well understood, nothing
else than the foundation of self-activity. By its means all the modes of
thought and action, which have become rooted by education, habit and
communication with others, and by which human activity is wont to
receive a wrong direction, are to be destroyed, and one's own free mode
of action introduced. Moral and æsthetic feeling can in fact be
preserved and perfected by this principle alone. It is only when ill
understood, that it can be injurious, as I have shown by the example of
this society itself.


Journeys to Königsberg, Stettin and Berlin, for the purpose of extending
my knowledge of men.

My external circumstances were becoming worse and worse. I was unwilling
any longer to adapt myself to my ordinary occupations, and found myself
therefore everywhere out of my sphere. On the other hand, I was also
unable in the place of my abode to satisfy sufficiently my favourite
inclination to the study of the sciences. So I determined to betake
myself to Germany, there to study medicine and, as opportunity offered,
other sciences also. But the question was, how such a long journey was
to be made. I knew indeed, that some merchants in the place of my abode
were soon to make a journey to Königsberg in Prussia; but I had only a
slight acquaintance with them, and could not therefore expect that they
would take me with them for nothing. After much deliberation I fell at
last upon a capital expedient.

I had among my friends a very learned and pious man, who stood in great
esteem among all the Jews of the town. To him I revealed my purpose, and
took him into counsel on the subject. I laid before him my miserable
circumstances, pointed out to him, that, as my inclinations had been
once directed to the knowledge of God and His works, I was no longer fit
for any ordinary occupation; and I represented to him especially, that I
was now obliged to support myself by my scholarship alone, as an
instructor in the Bible and the Talmud, which, according to the judgment
of some rabbis, was not altogether allowable. I explained to him, that
on this account I wished to study medicine as a profane art, by which
means I might be of service, not only to myself, but to the whole of the
Jews in this neighbourhood, as there was no regular physician here, and
those, who gave themselves out for such, were the most ignorant shavers,
who packed men out of the world by their cures.

These reasons produced an extraordinary effect on so devout a man. He
went to a merchant of his acquaintance, represented to him the
importance of my undertaking, and persuaded him to take me with him to
Königsberg on his own vessel. The merchant could refuse nothing to so
godly a man, and therefore gave his consent.

Accordingly I set out with this Jewish merchant for Königsberg in
Prussia. When I arrived there, I went to the Jewish medical doctor of
the place, opened to him my proposal to study medicine, and begged him
for advice and support. As his professional occupations prevented him
from conveniently speaking with me on the subject, and as he could not
understand me well at any rate, he referred me to some students who
lodged in his house. As soon as I showed myself to these young
gentlemen, and opened to them my proposal, they burst into loud
laughter. And certainly for this they were not to be blamed. Imagine a
man from Polish Lithuania of about five and twenty years, with a
tolerably stiff beard, in tattered dirty clothes, whose language is a
mixture of Hebrew, Jewish German, Polish and Russian, with their several
grammatical inaccuracies, who gives out that he understands the German
language, and that he has attained some knowledge of the sciences. What
were the young gentlemen to think?

They began to poke fun at me, and gave me to read Mendelssohn's
_Phaedo_, which by chance lay on the table. I read in the most pitiful
style, both on account of the peculiar manner in which I had learned the
German language, and on account of my bad pronunciation. Again they
burst into loud laughter; but they said, I must explain to them what I
had read. This I did in my own fashion; but as they did not understand
me, they demanded that I should translate what I had read into Hebrew.
This I did on the spot. The students, who understood Hebrew well, fell
into no slight astonishment, when they saw that I had not only grasped
correctly the meaning of this celebrated author, but also expressed it
happily in Hebrew. They began therefore to interest themselves on my
account, procured for me some cast-off clothing, and board during my
stay in Königsberg. At the same time they advised me to go to Berlin,
where I should best attain my object. To make the journey suit my
circumstances, however, they advised me to go by ship from Königsberg to
Stettin, and thence to Frankfurt on the Oder, from which place I should
easily find means of getting to Berlin.

I went therefore by ship, and had nothing for food but some toast, some
herring, and a flask of spirits. I was told in Königsberg, that the
journey might take ten or, at the most, fourteen days. This prophecy,
however, was not fulfilled. In consequence of contrary winds, the voyage
lasted five weeks. In what circumstances, therefore, I found myself, may
be easily imagined. There were in the vessel besides me no other
passengers, but an old woman, who sang hymns all the time for her
comfort. The Pomeranian German of the crew I could understand as little
as they could my medley of Jewish, Polish and Lithuanian. I got nothing
warm to eat the whole time, and was obliged to sleep on hard stuffed
bags. The vessel came also sometimes into danger. Of course the most of
the time I was seasick.

At last I arrived at Stettin, where I was told that I could make the
journey to Frankfurt quite pleasantly on foot. But how was a Polish Jew
in the most wretched circumstances, without a pfennig to buy food, and
without knowing the language of the country, to make a journey even of a
few miles? Yet it had to be done. Accordingly I set out from Stettin,
and as I thought over my miserable situation, I sat down under a
lime-tree, and began to weep bitterly. I soon became somewhat lighter in
heart; I took courage, and went on. After I had gone two or three miles,
towards evening I arrived at an inn thoroughly worn out. It was the eve
of the Jewish fast, which falls in August. Already I was nearly starving
with hunger and thirst, and I was to fast still the whole of the next
day. I had not a pfennig to spend and nothing of any value to sell.

After long reflection it occurred to me, that I must still have in my
coat-pocket an iron spoon, which I had taken with me on board ship. I
brought it, and begged the landlady of the inn to give me a little bread
and beer for it. She refused at first to take the spoon, but after much
importunity she was at last induced to grant a glass of sour beer in
exchange. I was obliged therefore to content myself with this, drank my
glass of beer, and went off to the stable to sleep on straw.

In the morning I proceeded on my journey, having previously inquired for
a place, where there were Jews, in order that I might be able to go into
the synagogue, and sing with my brethren the lamentations over the
destruction of Jerusalem. This was done, and after the prayers and
singing,--about midday,--I went to the Jewish schoolmaster of the place,
and held some conversation with him. He soon discovered that I was a
full rabbi, began to interest himself about me, and procured me a
supper at the house of a Jew. He also gave me a letter of introduction
to another schoolmaster in the neighbouring town, recommending me as a
great Talmudist and an honourable rabbi. Here also I met with a fair
reception. I was invited to the Sabbath dinner by the most respectable
and richest Jew of the place, and went into the synagogue, where I was
shown to the highest seat, and received every mark of honour usually
bestowed on a rabbi.

After the close of the service the rich Jew referred to took me to his
house, and put me in the place of honour at his table, that is between
himself and his daughter. She was a young girl of about twelve years,
dressed in the most beautiful style. I began, as rabbi, to hold a very
learned and edifying discourse; and the less the gentleman and lady
understood it, the more divine it seemed to them. All at once I
observed, to my chagrin, that the young lady began to put on a sour
look, and to make wry faces. At first I did not know how to explain
this; but, after a while, when I turned my eyes upon myself and my
miserable dirty suit of rags, the whole mystery was at once unriddled.
The uneasiness of the young lady had a very good cause. And how could it
be otherwise? Since I left Königsberg, about seven weeks before, I had
never had a clean shirt to put on; and I had been obliged to lie in the
stables of inns on bare straw, on which who knows how many poor
travellers had lain before? Now all at once my eyes were opened to see
my misery in its appalling magnitude. But what was I to do? How was I to
help myself out of this unfortunate situation? Gloomy and sad I soon
bade farewell to these good people, and proceeded on my journey to
Berlin under a continued struggle with want and misery of every kind.

At last I reached this city. Here I believed that I should put an end to
my misery, and accomplish all my wishes. But alas I was sadly deceived.
In this capital, as is well known, no Jewish beggars were allowed.
Accordingly the Jewish community of the place, in order to make
provision for their poor, have built at the Rosenthaler gate a house, in
which the poor are received, and questioned by the Jewish elders about
what they want in Berlin. According to the results of such inquiry, they
are either taken into the city, if they are sick or want employment, or
they are sent forward on their journey. I was therefore conducted to
this house, which was filled partly with sick people, partly with a lewd
rabble. For a long while I looked round in vain for a man, with whom I
might talk about my affairs.

At last I observed a man, who, to judge by his dress, was surely a
rabbi. I went to him, and how great was my joy to learn from him, that
he was really a rabbi, and pretty well known in Berlin! I conversed with
him on all sorts of subjects connected with rabbinical learning; and as
I was very open-hearted, I related to him the course of my life in
Poland, revealed to him my purpose of studying medicine in Berlin,
showed him my commentary on the _Moreh Nebhochim_, and so forth. He
listened to all, and seemed to interest himself very much in my behalf.
But all at once he disappeared out of sight.

At length towards evening came the Jewish elders. Each of the persons in
the house was called, and questioned about his wants. When my turn came,
I said quite frankly, that I wished to remain in Berlin, in order to
study medicine. The elders refused my request point-blank, gave me a
pittance in charity, and went away. The reason of this conduct towards
me in particular was nothing else than the following.

The rabbi, of whom I spoke, was a zealot in his orthodoxy. Accordingly
when he had discovered my sentiments and purposes, he went into town,
and informed the elders about my heretical mode of thinking. He told
them, that I was going to issue a new edition of the _Moreh Nebhochim_
with a commentary, and that my intention was not so much to study
medicine, but mainly to devote myself to the sciences in general, and to
extend my knowledge. This the orthodox Jews look upon as something
dangerous to religion and good morals. They believe this to be specially
true of the Polish rabbis, who, having by some lucky accident been
delivered from the bondage of superstition, suddenly catch a gleam of
the light of reason, and set themselves free from their chains. And
this belief is to some extent well-founded. Persons in such a position
may be compared to a man, who, after being famished for a long time,
suddenly comes upon a well spread table, who will attack the food with
violent greed, and fill himself even to surfeiting.

The refusal of permission to stay in Berlin came upon me like a
thunderclap. The ultimate object of all my hopes and wishes was all at
once removed beyond my reach, just when I had seen it so near. I found
myself in the situation of Tantalus, and did not know where to turn for
help. I was especially pained by the treatment I received from the
overseer of this poorhouse, who, by command of his superiors, urged my
speedy departure, and never left off till he saw me outside of the gate.
There I threw myself on the ground and began to weep bitterly. It was a
Sunday, and many people went, as usual, to walk outside of the city.
Most of them never turned aside to a whining worm like me, but some
compassionate souls were very much struck with the sight, and asked the
cause of my wailing. I answered them; but, partly on account of my
unintelligible language, partly because my speech was broken by frequent
weeping and sobbing, they could not understand what I said.

I was so deeply affected by this vexation, that I fell into a violent
fever. The soldiers, who kept guard at the gate, reported this at the
poorhouse. The overseer came, and carried me in. I stayed there over the
day, and made myself glad with the hope of becoming thoroughly sick, so
as to enforce a longer sojourn in the place, during which I thought I
might form some acquaintances, by whose influence I hoped to receive
protection and permission to remain in Berlin. But alas! in this hope I
was deceived. The following day I rose quite lively again without a
trace of fever. I was therefore obliged to go. But whither? That I did
not know myself. Accordingly I took the first road that I came upon, and
surrendered myself to fate.


Deepest Stage of Misery, and Deliverance.

In the evening I came to an inn, where I met a poor tramp who was a
Jewish beggar by profession. I was uncommonly pleased to meet one of my
brethren, with whom I could talk, and to whom this neighbourhood was
pretty well known. I resolved therefore to wander about the country with
this companion, and to preserve my life in this way, though two such
heterogeneous persons were nowhere to be met with in the world. I was an
educated rabbi; he was an idiot. I had hitherto maintained myself in an
honourable way; he was a beggar by profession. I had ideas of morality,
propriety, and decency; he knew nothing of these. Finally, I was in
sound health, it is true, but still of weakly constitution; he, on the
other hand, was a sturdy, able-bodied fellow, who would have made the
best of soldiers.

Notwithstanding these differences, I stuck close to the man, as, in
order to prolong life, I was compelled to become a vagrant in a strange
land. In our wanderings I laboured to communicate to my companion ideas
of religion and of true morality, while he in return instructed me in
the art of begging. He taught me the usual formulas of the art, and
recommended me especially to curse and swear, whenever I was sent away
without anything. But with all the trouble, which he gave himself in the
matter, his teachings would not take any hold on me. The formulas of
begging appeared to me absurd I thought, if a man was once compelled to
beg help of others, he should express his feelings in the most simple
form. As far as cursing was concerned, I could not understand why a man,
who refused another's request, should draw a curse upon himself; and
then it seemed to me, that the man thus treated would be thereby
embittered, and the beggar be all the less likely to attain his object.
When therefore I went to beg with my comrade, I conducted myself always
as if I were begging and cursing at the same time, but in fact I never
spoke a single intelligible word. If, on the other hand, I went alone, I
had absolutely nothing to say; but from my appearance and conduct could
easily be seen what was wanted. My comrade sometimes scolded me on
account of my slowness in learning his art, and this I bore with the
greatest patience.

In this way we wandered about in a district of a few miles for nearly
half a year. At last we resolved to turn our steps towards Poland. When
we arrived at Posen we took up our quarters in the Jewish poorhouse, the
master of which was a poor jobbing tailor. Here I formed the resolve, at
whatever cost, to bring my wandering to a close. It was harvest-time,
and already began to be pretty cold. I was almost naked and barefoot. By
this vagrant life, in which I never got any regular meals, for the most
part had to content myself with bits of mouldy bread and water, and at
night was obliged to lie on old straw, sometimes even on the bare earth,
my health had seriously suffered. Besides, the sacred seasons and
fast-days in the Jewish calendar were coming on; and as at that time I
was of a somewhat strong religious disposition, I could not endure the
thought of passing in complete idleness this period which others
employed for the welfare of their souls.

I resolved, therefore, for the present at least, to go no farther, and,
at all events if it should come to the worst, to throw myself before the
synagogue, and either die there or excite the compassion of my brethren,
and by that means bring my sufferings to an end. Consequently as soon as
my comrade awoke in the morning, began to make arrangements for a
begging tour, and summoned me to the same, I told him that I would not
go with him at present; and when he asked how I intended to sustain life
in any other way, I was able to answer nothing but "God will surely

I then went off to the Jewish school. Here I found a number of scholars,
some of whom were reading, while others took advantage of the master's
absence to pass the time in play. I also took a book to read. The
scholars, who were struck by my strange dress, approached and asked me
whence I came and what I wanted. Their questions I answered in my
Lithuanian dialect, at which they began to laugh, and make merry at my
expense. For this I cared little. But I recollected that, some years
before, a chief rabbi from my neighbourhood had been appointed to the
same office in Posen, and that he had taken with him an acquaintance and
a good friend of mine as his secretary. Accordingly I asked the boys
about this friend. To my extreme grief I learned that he was no longer
in Posen, as the chief rabbi had been afterwards promoted to the same
office in Hamburg, and his secretary had gone with him to that place.
They told me, however, that his son, a boy about twelve years old, had
been left behind in Posen with the present chief rabbi, who was a
son-in-law of his predecessor.

This information saddened me not a little. Still the last circumstance
gave me some hope. I inquired after the dwelling of the new chief rabbi,
and went to it; but, as I was almost naked, I shrank from entering, and
waited until I saw some one going into the house, whom I begged to be so
good as to call my friend's son out. The boy recognised me at once, and
manifested his astonishment at seeing me here in such a pitiable plight.
I replied, that this was not the time to relate all the misfortunes
which had brought me into this state, and that at present he should
consider merely how he might somewhat relieve my distress.

This he promised to do. He went to the chief rabbi, and announced me as
a great scholar and a pious man, who by extraordinary accidents had
fallen into a very miserable condition. The chief rabbi, who was an
excellent man, an acute Talmudist, and of very gentle character, was
touched by my distress, and sent for me to come in. He conversed with me
a while, discussing some of the most important subjects in the Talmud,
and found me well versed in all branches of Jewish learning. Then he
inquired about my intentions, and I told him that I wished to be
introduced as a tutor into some family, but that meanwhile my only
desire was to be able to celebrate the sacred season here, and for this
short period at least to interrupt my travels.

The good-hearted rabbi bade me, so far as this was concerned, to lay
aside all anxiety, spoke of my desire as a small matter, which it was
nothing more than reasonable to want. He then gave me what money he had
by him, invited me to dine with him every Sabbath, as long as I remained
here, and bade his boy procure a respectable lodging for me. The boy
came back soon, and conducted me to my lodging. I expected this to be
only a small chamber in the house of some poor man. I was therefore not
a little astonished, when I found myself in the house of one of the
oldest Jews of the town, and that here had been prepared for me a neat
little room, which was the study of the master, he and his son being
both scholars.

As soon as I had looked round a little, I went to the housewife, and,
thrusting some coppers into her hand, I asked her to get me some gruel
for supper. She began to smile at my simplicity, and said, "No, no, sir,
that is not our agreement. The chief rabbi has not given you such a
recommendation, that you are obliged to have us making you gruel for
money." She then went on to explain, that I was not only to lodge in her
house, but also to eat and drink with them, as long as I stayed in the
town. I was astonished at this unexpected good fortune; but my delight
was still greater, when after supper I was shown to a clean bed. I could
not believe my eyes, and asked several times, "Is this really for me?" I
can say with truth, that never, before or since this incident, have I
felt such a degree of happiness, as when I lay down that night, and felt
my limbs, which for half a year had been overwearied and almost broken,
recovering their former strength in a soft bed.

I slept till late in the day. I had scarcely risen when the chief rabbi
sent for me to come and see him. When I made my appearance he asked me
how I was pleased with my lodging. I could not find words to express my
feelings on the subject, and exclaimed in ecstasy, "I have slept in a
bed!" At this the chief rabbi was uncommonly pleased. He then sent for
the school precentor, and as soon as this man appeared he said to him,
"Go to the shop of ----, and get cloth for a suit to this gentleman."
Thereupon he turned to me and asked what sort of stuff I liked.
Overpowered by the feeling of gratitude and esteem for this excellent
man I could answer nothing. The tears streaming down my cheeks served
for my only answer.

The chief rabbi also ordered for me some new linen. In two days
everything was ready. Dressed in my new linen and new suit I went to the
chief rabbi. I was going to express my gratitude to him, but could
scarcely get out a few broken words. For the chief rabbi this was a
charming sight. He waived my thanks, and said that I was not to think
too highly of him for this, inasmuch as what he had done for me was a
mere trifle not worth mentioning.

Now the reader may perhaps suppose that this chief rabbi was a wealthy
man, for whom the expense to which he put himself on my account was
really a trifle; but I can give the assurance that this was far from
being the case. He had merely a moderate income; and as he occupied
himself wholly with study, his wife had the management of his affairs,
and especially the charge of housekeeping. Actions of this sort,
therefore, had to be done without the knowledge of his wife, and under
the pretext that he received from other people the money for the
purpose. Moreover, he lived a very temperate life, fasted every day
except Sabbath, and never ate flesh the whole week through.
Nevertheless, to satisfy his benevolent inclinations he could not avoid
making debts. His severe manner of life, his many studies and vigils,
weakened his strength to such a degree that he died about the
thirty-sixth year of his life. His death took place after he had been
appointed chief rabbi in Fördet, to which place he was followed by a
large number of disciples. I can never think of this godly man without
being deeply affected.

In my former lodging at the poor tailor's I had left some trifles which
I now went to fetch. The tailor, his wife, and my former comrade in
beggary, who had already heard of the happy change in my affairs,
expected me with the greatest impatience. It was a touching scene. The
man, who three days before arrived in this poor hut, quite debilitated,
half naked, and barefoot, whom the poor inmates of the house regarded as
an outcast of nature, and whose comrade in linen blouse had looked down
upon him with mockery and contempt,--this man (his fame before him) now
comes into the same hut with a cheerful face, and in reverend garb
dressed as a chief rabbi.

They all testified their joy and surprise at the transformation. The
poor woman took her babe in her arms and, with tears in her eyes, begged
a blessing for him. My comrade begged me very affectingly for
forgiveness on account of his rough treatment. He said that he deemed
himself fortunate in having had such a fellow-traveller, but would hold
himself unfortunate if I would not forgive the faults he had committed
in ignorance. I spoke to them all very kindly, gave the little one my
blessing, handed to my old comrade all the cash I had in my pocket, and
went back deeply affected.

Meanwhile my fame was spread through the whole town by the conduct
towards me of the chief rabbi, as well as that of my new host, who was
himself a scholar, and had formed a high opinion of my talents and
learning from frequent conversations and discussions which we had held
together. All the scholars of the town, therefore, came to see me and
discuss with me as a famous travelling rabbi; and the more intimately
they came to know me, so much the higher rose their esteem.

This period was undoubtedly the happiest and most honourable in my life.
The young scholars of the town passed a resolution at their meeting to
make up for me a salary, for which I was to deliver lectures to them on
the celebrated and profound work of Maimonides, _Moreh Nebhochim_. This
proposal, however, was never carried out, because the parents of these
young people were anxious lest their children should be thereby led
astray, and by independent thinking on religion be made to waver in
their faith. They acknowledged indeed that, with all my fondness for
religious speculation, I was still a pious man and an orthodox rabbi.
But they could not rely upon their children having sufficient judgment,
to be able to enter upon this course without passing from one extreme to
the other, from superstition to unbelief; and therein perhaps they were

After I had spent about four weeks in this way, the man, with whom I
lodged, came to me, and said, "Herr Solomon, allow me to make a proposal
to you. If you are inclined merely to solitary study, you may remain
here as long as you like. If, however, you do not wish to withdraw into
such complete retirement, but are inclined to be of service to the world
with your talents, there is a wealthy man here--one of the most
prominent people of the town--who has an only son, and wishes nothing so
much as to have you for his tutor. This man is my brother-in-law. If you
will not do it for his sake, please do it for mine, and to gratify the
chief rabbi, as he has deeply at heart the education of my nephew, who
is connected by marriage with his family." This offer I accepted with
delight. I came therefore into this family under advantageous conditions
as tutor, and remained with them two years in the greatest honour.
Nothing was done in the house without my knowledge. I was always met
with the greatest respect. I was held in fact to be almost something
more than human.

Thus the two years flowed on imperceptibly and happily for me. But
during the time some little incidents took place, which I believe should
not be altogether omitted in this history.

In the first place the esteem entertained for me in this house went so
far, that _malgré moi_ they were going to make me a prophet. My pupil
was betrothed to the daughter of a chief rabbi, who was a brother-in-law
of the chief rabbi in Posen. The bride, a girl of about twelve years,
was brought to Posen by her parents-in-law at the feast of Pentecost. On
the occasion of this visit I observed that the girl was of a very
phlegmatic temperament and somewhat consumptive. I mentioned this to the
brother of my host, and added with a significant look, that I was very
anxious for the girl, as I did not believe that her health would last
long. After the feast was over the girl was sent home, and a fortnight
afterwards a letter was received announcing her death. On this account,
not only in the house where I lived, but in the whole town, I was taken
for a prophet, who had been able to foretell the death of this girl. As
I wished nothing less than to deceive, I endeavoured to bring these
superstitious people to a different train of thought. I told them that
anybody, who had made observations in the world, would have been able to
foretell the same thing. But it was of no use. Once for all I was a
prophet, and had to remain one.

Another incident occurred in a Jewish house one Friday when they were
preparing fish for the Sabbath. The fish was a carp, and it seemed to
the cook who was cutting it up as if it uttered a sound. This threw
everybody into a panic. The rabbi was asked what should be done with
this dumb fish that had ventured to speak. Under the superstitious idea
that the carp was possessed with a spirit, the rabbi enjoined that it
should be wrapped in a linen cloth, and buried with pomp.

Now, in the house where I lived, this awe-inspiring event became the
subject of conversation. Having by this time emancipated myself pretty
thoroughly from superstitions of this sort by diligent study of the
_Moreh Nebhochim_, I laughed heartily over the story, and said, that, if
instead of burying the carp, they had sent it to me, I should have tried
how such an inspired carp would taste.

This _bon mot_ became known. The learned men fell into a passion about
it, denounced me as a heretic, and sought to persecute me in every way.
But the respect, entertained for me in the house where I was tutor, made
all their efforts fruitless. As I found myself in this way safe, and the
spirit of fanaticism, instead of deterring me, rather spurred me on to
further reflection, I began to push matters a little farther, frequently
slept through the time of prayer, went seldom to the synagogue, and so
on. At last the measure of my sins became so full, that nothing could
secure me any longer from persecution.

At the entrance to the Common Hall in Posen there has been, no one knows
for how long, a stag-horn fixed into the wall. The Jews are unanimously
of the conviction, that any one who touches this horn is sure to die on
the spot; and they relate a multitude of instances in proof. This would
not go down with me at all, and I made fun of it. So one day when I was
passing the stag-horn with some other Jews, I said to them, "You Posen
fools, do you think that any one who touches this horn must die on the
spot? See, I dare to touch it!" Horror-struck, they expected my death
on the spot; but as nothing happened, their anxiety for me was converted
into hatred. They looked on me as one who had profaned the sanctuary.

This fanaticism stirred up in me the desire to go to Berlin, and destroy
by enlightenment the remnant of superstition which still clung to me. I
therefore begged leave of my employer. He expressed the wish indeed,
that I should remain longer in his house, and assured me of his
protection against all persecution. But as I had once for all taken my
resolution, I was determined not to alter it. I therefore bade goodbye
to my employer and his whole family, took a seat on the Frankfurt post,
and set out for Berlin.


Arrival in Berlin--Acquaintances--Mendelssohn--Desperate Study of
Metaphysics--Doubts--Lectures on Locke and Adelung.

As I came to Berlin this time by post, I did not require to remain
outside the Rosenthaler Gate to be examined by the Jewish elders; I
proceeded without any difficulty into the city, and was allowed to take
up my quarters where I chose. To _remain_ in the city, however, was a
different thing. The Jewish police-officers--L. M. of those days was a
terrible fellow,--went every day round all the hotels and other houses
designed for the reception of strangers, made inquiry into the quality
and occupation of newcomers, as well as the probable length of their
stay, and allowed them no rest till they had either found some
occupation in the city, or were out of it again, or--the alternative
goes without saying. I had taken a lodging on the New Market with a Jew,
who was accustomed to receive in his house poor travellers that had not
much to spend, and who the following day received a visit of this sort.

The Jewish police-officer, L. M., came and examined me in the strictest
manner. I told him that I wished to enter into service as a
family-tutor in Berlin, and that therefore the length of my stay could
not be exactly determined. I appeared to him suspicious; he believed he
had seen me here before, and evidently looked on me as a comet, which
comes nearer to the earth the second time than the first, and so makes
the danger more threating. But when he saw by me a _Milloth Higgayon_ or
Hebrew Logic, drawn up by Maimonides, and annotated by Mendelssohn, he
went into a perfect rage. "Yes! yes!" he exclaimed, "that's the sort of
books for me!" and as he turned to me with a threatening look, "Pack,"
he said, "out of Berlin as quick as you can, if you don't wish to be led
out with all the honours!" I trembled, and knew not what to do; but as I
had learnt that there was a Polish Jew, a man of talent, residing in
Berlin for the sake of study, and received with esteem in the best
families, I paid him a visit.

He received me as a countryman in a very friendly manner, asked about my
home in Poland, and what had brought me to Berlin. When I told him in
reply, that from my childhood I had discovered an inclination to the
sciences, had already made myself acquainted with this and that Hebrew
work which touches upon these, and now had come to Berlin in order to be
_Maamik Bechochmah_ (to become absorbed in the sciences), he smiled at
this quaint rabbinical phrase, but gave me his full approval; and after
conversing with me for some time, he begged me to visit him often, which
I very willingly promised to do, and went away rejoicing in spirit.

The very next day I visited my Polish friend again, and found with him
some young people belonging to a prominent Jewish family, who visited
him often, and conversed with him on scientific subjects. They entered
into conversation with me, found much amusement in my jargon, as well as
in my simplicity and open-heartedness; in particular they laughed
heartily at the phrase, _Maamik Bechochmah_, of which they had heard
already. All this gave me courage, and they assured me that I should not
find myself mistaken in the expectation of being able to be _Maamik
Bechochmah_ in Berlin. And when I made known my fear about the
above-mentioned police-officer, they made me pluck up courage by
promising to obtain protection for me from their family, so that I might
remain in Berlin as long as I chose.

They kept their word, and Herr D---- P----, a well-to-do man of
excellent character, of many attainments and fine taste, who was an
uncle of these young men, not only paid me much attention, but also
procured for me a respectable lodging, and invited me to the Sabbath
dinner. Others of the family also sent me meals at my room on fixed
days. Among these was a brother of these young men, in other respects an
honourable man, who was not without attainments. But as he was a zealous
Talmudist, he inquired earnestly whether with my inclination towards the
sciences I had not quite neglected the Talmud; and as soon as he
learnt, that I was so _Maamik Bechochmah_ as to neglect the study of the
Talmud, he gave up sending me my meals.

As I now had permission to remain in Berlin, I thought of nothing but
how to carry my purpose into effect. Accidentally one day I went into a
butter-shop, and found the dealer in the act of anatomising a somewhat
old book for use in his trade. I looked at it, and found, to my no small
astonishment, that it was Wolff's _Metaphysics, or the Doctrine of God,
of the World, and of Man's Soul_. I could not understand, how in a city
so enlightened as Berlin such important works could be treated in this
barbarous fashion. I turned therefore to the dealer, and asked him, if
he would not sell the book. He was ready to part with it for two
groschen. Without thinking long about it I gave the price at once, and
went home delighted with my treasure.

At the very first reading I was in raptures with the book. Not only this
sublime science in itself, but also the order and mathematical method of
the celebrated author,--the precision of his explanations, the exactness
of his reasoning, and the scientific arrangement of his exposition,--all
this struck a new light in my mind.

With the Ontology, the Cosmology, and the Psychology all went well; but
the Theology created many difficulties, inasmuch as I found its dogmas,
not only not in harmony, but even in contradiction, with the preceding
propositions. At the very beginning I could not assent to Wolff's
argument _a posteriori_ for the existence of God in accordance with the
Principle of Sufficient Reason; and I raised the objection to it, that,
inasmuch as, according to Wolff's own confession, the Principle of
Sufficient Reason is abstracted from particular cases of experience, the
only point which can be proved by it is, that every object of experience
must have its sufficient reason in some other object of experience, but
not in an object beyond all experience. I also compared these new
metaphysical doctrines with those of Maimonides, or rather of Aristotle,
which were already known to me; and I could not bring them into harmony
at all.

I resolved therefore to set forth these doubts in the Hebrew language,
and to send what I wrote to Herr Mendelssohn, of whom I had already
heard so much. When he received my communication, he was not a little
astonished at it, and replied to me at once, that in fact my doubts were
well founded, that I should not however allow myself to be discouraged
on their account, but should continue to study with the zeal with which
I had begun.

Encouraged by this, I wrote in Hebrew a dissertation in which I brought
into doubt the foundations of Revealed as well as of Natural Theology.
All the thirteen articles of faith, laid down by Maimonides, I attacked
with philosophical arguments, with the exception of one, namely the
article on reward and punishment, which I conceded merely in its
philosophical interpretation, as referring to the natural consequences
of voluntary actions. I sent this dissertation to Mendelssohn, who was
not a little amazed, that a Polish Jew, who had scarcely got the length
of seeing the Metaphysics of Wolff, was already able to penetrate into
their depths so far, that he was in a position to shake their results by
means of a correct Ontology. He invited me to visit him, and I accepted
his invitation. But I was so shy, the manners and customs of the
Berliners were so new to me, it was not without fear and embarrassment,
that I ventured to enter a fashionable house. When therefore I opened
Mendelssohn's door, and saw him and other gentlefolks who were there, as
well as the beautiful rooms and elegant furniture, I shrank back, closed
the door again, and had a mind not to go in. Mendelssohn however had
observed me. He came out and spoke to me very kindly, led me into his
room, placed himself beside me at the window, and paid me many
compliments about my writing. He assured me, that, if I went on in this
way, I should in a short time make great progress in Metaphysics; and he
promised also to resolve my doubts. Not satisfied with this, the worthy
man looked after my maintenance also, recommended me to the most
eminent, enlightened and wealthy Jews, who made provision for my board
and other wants. Their tables I was at liberty to enjoy when I chose,
and their libraries were open to my use.

Especially worthy of mention among these gentlemen was H----, a man of
many attainments and excellent disposition, who was a particular friend
and disciple of Mendelssohn. He took great pleasure in my conversation,
often discussed with me the most important subjects in Natural Theology
and Morals, on which I expressed my thoughts to him quite frankly and
without disguise. I went over with him in a conversational way all the
systems known to me that are generally denounced, and defended them with
the greatest pertinacity. He met me with objections; I answered them,
and brought in my turn objections against the opposite systems. At first
this friend regarded me as a speaking animal, and entertained himself
with me, as one is apt to do with a dog or a starling that has been
taught to speak a few words. The odd mixture of the animal in my
manners, my expressions, and my whole outward behaviour, with the
rational in my thoughts, excited his imagination more than the subject
of our conversation roused his understanding. By degrees the fun was
turned to earnest. He began to give his attention to the subjects
themselves; and as, notwithstanding his other capabilities and
attainments, he had no philosophical head, and the liveliness of his
imagination generally interfered with the ripeness of his judgment, the
results of our conversations may be readily imagined.

A few examples will be sufficient to give an idea of the manner in which
I conducted a discussion at the time, of the ellipses in my diction
arising from my deficiency in expressions, and of the way in which I
illustrated everything by examples. I endeavoured once to make
Spinoza's system intelligible,--to show that all things are merely
accidents of a single substance. My friend interrupted me and said,
"But, good heavens! are not you and I different men, and do we not each
possess an existence of our own?" "Close the shutters," I called in
reply to his objection. This strange expression threw him into
astonishment; he did not know what I meant. At last I explained myself.
"See," said I, "the sun shines through the windows. This square window
gives you a square reflection, and the round window a round reflection.
Are they on that account different things, and not rather one and the
same sunshine?"

On another occasion I defended Helvetius' system of self-love. He
brought against it the objection, that we surely love other persons as
well as ourselves. "For instance," said he, "I love my wife;" and to
confirm this he gave her a kiss. "That proves nothing against me," I
replied. "For, why do you kiss your wife? Because you find pleasure in
doing it."

Herr A---- M---- also, a good honest fellow, and at that time a wealthy
man, allowed me free access to his house. Here I found Locke in the
German translation, and I was pleased with him at the first hasty
glance, for I recognised him as the best of the modern philosophers, as
a man who had no interest but the truth. Accordingly I proposed to the
tutor of Herr A---- M----, that he should take lessons from me on this
admirable work. At first he smiled at my simplicity in proposing, that
I, who had scarcely got the length of seeing Locke, should give lessons
to him whose native tongue was German, and who had been brought up in
the sciences. He acted, however, as if he found nothing offensive in the
matter, accepted my proposal, and fixed an hour for the lessons. I
presented myself at the time appointed, and began the lessons; but as I
could not read a word of German correctly, I told my pupil to read aloud
paragraph by paragraph in the text, and that then I should give him an
exposition of each. My pupil, who pretended to be in earnest, consented
to this also, to carry on the joke; but how great was his astonishment
when he found, that no joke was to be played in the matter, that in fact
my expositions and remarks, though delivered in my own peculiar
language, evinced a genuine philosophical spirit.

It was still more amusing, when I became acquainted with the family of
Widow Levi, and made the proposal to her son, the young Herr Samuel
Levi,[53] who is still my Maecenas, that he should take lessons from me
in the German language. The studious youth, incited by my reputation,
was resolved to make a trial, and wished me to explain Adelung's _German
Grammar_. I, who had never seen Adelung's Grammar, did not allow myself
to be at all disconcerted on this account.[54] My pupil was obliged to
read Adelung bit by bit, while I not only expounded it, but added
glosses of my own. In particular I found a good deal to take exception
to in Adelung's philosophical explanation of the parts of speech; and I
drew up an explanation of my own, which I communicated to my intelligent
pupil, by whom it is still preserved.

As a man altogether without experience I carried my frankness at times a
little too far, and brought upon myself many vexations in consequence. I
was reading Spinoza. His profound thought and his love of truth pleased
me uncommonly; and as his system had already been suggested to me by the
Cabbalistic writings, I began to reflect upon it anew, and became so
convinced of its truth, that all the efforts of Mendelssohn to change my
opinion were unavailing. I answered all the objections brought against
it by the Wolfians, brought objections against their system myself, and
showed, that, if the _nominal definition_s of the Wolfian Ontology are
converted into _real definitions_, conclusions the very opposite of
theirs are the result. Moreover, I could not explain the persistency of
Mendelssohn and the Wolfians generally in adhering to their system,
except as a political dodge and a piece of hypocrisy, by which they
studiously endeavoured to descend to the mode of thinking common in the
popular mind; and this conviction I expressed openly and without
reserve. My friends and well-wishers, who for the most part had never
themselves speculated on philosophical subjects, but blindly adopted the
results of the systems prevailing at the time as if they were
established truths, did not understand me, and therefore also were
unable to follow me in my opinions.

Mendelssohn, whose usual course was to tack, did not wish to oppose my
love of inquiry, secretly even took pleasure in it, and said, that at
present indeed I was not on the right road, but that the course of my
thoughts must not be checked, because, as Descartes rightly remarked,
doubt is the beginning of thorough philosophical speculation.


Mendelssohn--A chapter devoted to the memory of a worthy friend.

_Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus tam cari capitis?_

The name of Mendelssohn is too well known to the world, to make it
necessary for me here to dwell long on the portraiture of the great
intellectual and moral qualities of this celebrated man of our nation. I
shall sketch merely those prominent features of his portrait, which have
made the strongest impression upon me. He was a good Talmudist, and a
pupil of the celebrated Rabbi Israel, or, as he is otherwise named after
the title of a Talmudic work which he wrote, Nezach Israel (the strength
of Israel),--a Polish rabbi who was denounced for heresy by his
countrymen. This rabbi had, besides his great Talmudic capabilities and
acquirements, a good deal of scientific talent, especially in
mathematics, with which he had attained a thorough acquaintance, even in
Poland, from the few Hebrew writings on this science, as may be seen in
the above-mentioned work. In this work there are introduced solutions of
many important mathematical problems, which are applied either to the
explanation of some obscure passages in the Talmud, or to the
determination of a law. Rabbi Israel of course was more interested in
the extension of useful knowledge among his countrymen than in the
determination of a law, which he used merely as a vehicle for the other.
He showed, for example, that it is not right for the Jews in our part of
the world to turn exactly to the East at prayer; for the Talmudic law
requires them to turn to Jerusalem, and, as our part of the world lies
north-west from Jerusalem, they ought to turn to the south-east. He
shows also how, by means of spherical trigonometry, the required
direction may be determined with the utmost exactness in all parts of
the world, and many other truths of a similar kind. Along with the
celebrated Chief Rabbi Fränkel, he contributed much to develop the great
abilities of Mendelssohn.

Mendelssohn possessed a thorough acquaintance with mathematics; and this
science he valued, not only for its self-evidence, but also as the best
exercise in profound reasoning. That he was a great philosopher, is well
enough known. He was not indeed an originator of new systems; he had
however amended the old systems, especially the Leibnitio-Wolfian, and
had applied it with success to many subjects in philosophy.

It is hard to say whether Mendelssohn was endowed with more acuteness or
with depth of intellect. Both faculties were found united in him in a
very high degree. His exactness in definition and classification, and
his fine distinctions, are evidences of the former talent, while his
profound philosophical treatises afford proofs of the latter.

In his character, as he himself confessed, he was by nature a man of
strong passions, but by long exercise in Stoical morality he had learnt
to keep them under control. A young man, under the impression that
Mendelssohn had done him a wrong, came one day to upbraid him, and
indulged in one impertinence after another. Mendelssohn stood leaning on
a chair, never turned his eye from his visitor, and listened to all his
impertinences with the utmost Stoical patience. After the young man had
vented all his passion, Mendelssohn went to him and said, "Go! You see
that you fail to reach your object here; you can't make me angry." Still
on such occasions Mendelssohn could not conceal his sorrow at the
weakness of human nature. Not infrequently I was myself overheated in my
disputes with him, and violated the respect due to such a man,--a fact
on which I still reflect with remorse.

Mendelssohn possessed deep knowledge of human nature,--a knowledge which
consists not so much in seizing some unconnected features of a
character, and representing them in theatrical fashion, as in
discovering those essential features of a character, from which all the
others may be explained, and in some measure predicted. He was able to
describe accurately all the springs of action and the entire moral
wheelwork of a man, and understood thoroughly the mechanism of the soul.
This gave a character, not only to his intercourse and other dealings
with men, but also to his literary labours.

Mendelssohn understood the useful and agreeable art of throwing himself
into another person's mode of thought. He could thus supply whatever was
deficient, and fill up the gaps in the thoughts of another. Jews newly
arrived from Poland, whose thoughts are for the most part confused, and
whose language is an unintelligible jargon, Mendelssohn could understand
perfectly. In his conversations with them he adopted their expressions
and forms of speech, sought to bring down his mode of thinking to
theirs, and thus to raise theirs to his own.

He understood also the art of finding out the good side of every man and
of every event. Not infrequently, therefore, he found entertainment in
people whose intercourse, owing to the eccentric use of their powers, is
by others avoided; and only downright stupidity and dullness were
offensive to him, though they were so in the highest degree. I was once
an eye-witness of the manner in which he entertained himself with a man
of the most eccentric style of thinking and the most extravagant
behaviour. I lost all patience on the occasion, and after the man was
gone I asked Mendelssohn in wonder, "How could you have anything to do
with this fellow?" "We examine attentively," he said, "a machine whose
construction is unknown to us, and we seek to make intelligible its mode
of working. Should not this man claim a like attention? should we not
seek in the same way to render intelligible his odd utterances, since he
certainly has his springs of action and his wheelwork as well as any

In discussion with a reasoner who held stubbornly to a system once
adopted Mendelssohn was stubborn himself, and took advantage of the
slightest inaccuracy in his opponent's way of thinking. On the other
hand, with a more accommodating thinker he was accommodating also, and
used commonly to close the discussion with the words, "We must hold
fast, not to mere words, but to the things they signify."

Nothing was so offensive to him as an _esprit de bagatelle_ or
affectation; with anything of this sort he could not conceal his
displeasure. H---- once invited a party, in which Mendelssohn was the
principal guest, and he entertained them the whole time with talk about
some hobby of his, which was not exactly of the choicest kind.
Mendelssohn showed his displeasure by never deigning to give the
slightest attention to the worthless creature. Madam ---- was a lady who
affected an excess of sensibility, and as is customary with such
characters, used to reproach herself in order to extort praise from
others. Mendelssohn sought to bring her to reason by showing her
impressively how exceptionable her conduct was and how she ought to
think seriously about improvement.

In a disconnected conversation he took little part himself; he acted
rather as observer then, and took pleasure in watching the conduct of
the rest of the company. If, on the other hand, the conversation was
coherent, he took the warmest interest in it himself, and, by a skilful
turn, he could, without interrupting the conversation, give it a useful

Mendelssohn could never take up his mind with trifles; matters of the
greatest moment kept him in restless activity, such as the principles of
Morals and of Natural Theology, the immortality of the soul, etc. In all
these branches of inquiry, in which humanity is so deeply interested, he
has also, as I hold, done as much as can be done on the principles of
the Leibnitio-Wolfian philosophy. Perfection was the compass which he
had constantly before his eyes, and which directed his course, in all
these investigations. His God is the Ideal of the highest perfection,
and the idea of the highest perfection lies at the basis of his Ethics.
The principle of his Æsthetics is sensuous perfection.

My discussion with him on our first acquaintance referred mainly to the
following points. I was a faithful adherent of Maimonides before I
became acquainted with modern philosophy; and, as such, I insisted on
the negation[55] of all positive attributes to God, inasmuch as these
can be represented by us only as finite. Accordingly I proposed the
following dilemma: Either God is not the absolutely perfect being, in
which case his attributes may by us be not only _conceived_, but also
_known_, that is, represented as realities belonging to an object; or He
_is_ the absolutely perfect being, and then the idea of God is conceived
by us, but its reality is merely _assumed_ as problematic. Mendelssohn,
on the other hand, insisted on the affirmation, with regard to God, of
all realities,--a position which goes very well with the
Leibnitio-Wolfian philosophy, because it requires, in order to prove the
reality of an idea, nothing more than that it is thinkable, that is,
fulfils the law of Non-Contradiction.

My moral theory was then genuine Stoicism. It aimed at the attainment of
free will and the ascendency of reason over the feelings and passions.
It made the highest destination of man to be the maintenance of his
_differentia specifica_, the knowledge of the truth; and all other
impulses, common to us with the irrational animals, were to be put in
operation merely as means to this chief end. The knowledge of the good
was not distinguished by me from the knowledge of the true; for,
following Maimonides, I held the knowledge of the truth to be the
highest good of man. Mendelssohn, on the other hand, maintained that the
idea of perfection, which lies at the basis of Ethics, is of much wider
extent than the mere knowledge of the truth. All natural impulses,
capacities and powers, as something good in themselves (not merely as
means to something good), were to be brought into exercise as realities.
The highest perfection was the idea of the maximum, or the greatest sum,
of these realities.

The immortality of the soul, for me, following Maimonides, consisted in
the union with the Universal Spirit of that part of the faculty of
knowledge which has been brought into exercise, in proportion to the
degree of that exercise; and in accordance with this doctrine I held
those only to be partakers of this immortality, who occupy themselves
with the knowledge of eternal truths, and in the degree in which they do
so. The soul, therefore, must, with the attainment of this high
immortality, lose its individuality. That Mendelssohn, in accordance
with modern philosophy, thought differently on this subject, every one
will readily believe.

His sentiments in reference to revealed or positive religion I can give
here, not as something made known to me by himself, but merely in so far
as I have been able to infer them from his utterances on the subject in
his writings with the assistance of my own reflections. For at that
time, as an incipient freethinker, I explained all revealed religion as
in itself false, and its use, so far as the writings of Mendelssohn had
enabled me to understand it, as merely temporary. Moreover, being a man
without experience, I thought it an easy matter to convince others in
opposition to their firmly rooted habits and long-cherished prejudices,
while I assumed the usefulness of such a reformation to be undoubted.
Mendelssohn therefore was unable to hold any conversation with me on the
subject, since he could not but fear lest, as has happened, and happens
still, in the case of several others, I should pronounce his arguments
in reply to be mere pieces of sophistry, and should attribute motives to
him on that account. From his utterances, however, in the preface to his
_Manasseh ben Israel_ as well as in his _Jerusalem_, it is clear that,
though he did not consider any revealed _doctrines_ to be eternal
truths, yet he accepted revealed laws of religion as such, and that he
held the laws of the Jewish religion, as the fundamental laws of a
theocratic constitution, to be immutable as far as circumstances allow.

So far as I am concerned, I am led to assent entirely to Mendelssohn's
reasoning by my own reflections on the fundamental laws of the religion
of my fathers. The fundamental laws of the Jewish religion are at the
same time the fundamental laws of the Jewish state. They must therefore
be obeyed by all who acknowledge themselves to be members of this state,
and who wish to enjoy the rights granted to them under condition of
their obedience. But, on the other hand, any man who separates himself
from this state, who desires to be considered no longer a member of it,
and to renounce all his rights as such, whether he enters another state
or betakes himself to solitude, is also in his conscience no longer
bound to obey those laws. I assent moreover to Mendelssohn's remark,
that a Jew cannot, by simply passing over to the Christian religion,
free himself from the laws of his own religion, because Jesus of
Nazareth observed these laws himself and commanded his followers to
observe them. But how, if a Jew wishes to be no longer a member of this
theocratic state, and goes over to the heathen religion, or to the
philosophical, which is nothing more than pure natural religion? How,
if, merely as a member of a political state, he submits to its laws, and
demands from it his rights in return, without making any declaration
whatever about his religion, since the state is reasonable enough not to
require from him a declaration with which it has nothing to do? I do not
believe Mendelssohn would maintain that even in this case a Jew is bound
in conscience to observe the laws of his fathers' religion merely
because it is the religion of his fathers. As far as is known,
Mendelssohn lived in accordance with the laws of his religion.
Presumably, therefore, he always regarded himself as still a member of
the theocratic state of his fathers, and consequently acted up to his
duty in this respect. But any man who abandons this state is acting just
as little in violation of his duty.

On the other hand I consider it wrong in Jews, who from family
attachments and interests profess the Jewish religion, to transgress its
laws, where, according to their own opinion, these do not stand in the
way of those motives. I cannot therefore understand the conduct of
Mendelssohn in reference to a Jew of Hamburg who openly transgressed
the laws of his religion, and who was on that account excommunicated by
the chief rabbi. Mendelssohn wanted to cancel the excommunication on the
ground that the church has no rights in civil matters. But how can he
then maintain the perpetuity of the Jewish ecclesiastical state? For
what is a state without rights, and wherein consists, according to
Mendelssohn, the rights of this ecclesiastical state? "How," says
Mendelssohn, (in the preface to _Manasseh ben Israel_, p. 48), "can a
state allow one of its useful and respected citizens to suffer
misfortune through its laws?" Surely not, I reply; but the Hamburg Jew
suffers no misfortune by virtue of the excommunication. He required only
to say or do nothing which legally leads to this result, and he would
then have avoided the sentence. For excommunication is merely tantamount
to saying:--"So long as you put yourself in opposition to the laws of
our communion, you are excluded from it; and you must therefore make up
your mind whether this open disobedience or the privileges of our
communion can most advance your blessedness." This surely cannot have
escaped a mind like Mendelssohn's, and I leave it to others to decide
how far a man may be inconsistent for the sake of human welfare.

Mendelssohn had to endure many an injustice at the hands of otherwise
estimable men, from whom such treatment might least have been expected.
Lavater's officiousness is well enough known, and disapproved by all
right-thinking men.[56] The profound Jacobi had a predilection for
Spinozism, with which surely no independent thinker can find fault, and
wanted to make out Mendelssohn, as well as his friend Lessing, to be
Spinozists, in spite of themselves. With this view he published a
correspondence on the subject, which was never intended to appear in
print, and be subjected to public inspection. What was the use of this?
If Spinozism is true, it is so without Mendelssohn's assent. Eternal
truths have nothing to do with the majority of votes, and least of all
where, as I hold, the truth is of such a nature, that it leaves all
expression behind.

Such an injustice must have given Mendelssohn much annoyance. A
celebrated physician maintained even, that it caused his death; but,
though I am not a physician, I venture to gainsay the assertion.
Mendelssohn's conduct in relation to Jacobi, as well as to Lavater, was
that of a hero. No, no! this hero died in the fifth act.

The acute preacher, Jacob, in Halle published, after Mendelssohn's
death, a book entitled, _Examination of Mendelssohn's Morgenstunden_, in
which he shows that, according to the _Critique of Pure Reason_, all
metaphysical doctrines are to be rejected as baseless. But why does this
concern Mendelssohn more than any other metaphysician? Mendelssohn did
nothing but develop to greater completeness the Leibnitio-Wolfian
philosophy, apply it to many important subjects of human inquiry, and
clothe it in an attractive garb. It is just as if any one were to attack
Maimonides, who has written an excellent astronomical treatise on
Ptolemaic principles, by writing a book with the title, _Examination of
the Hilchoth Kidush Hakodesh of Maimonides_, in which he should seek to
refute his author on Newtonian principles! But enough of this.


My aversion at first for belles lettres, and my subsequent
conversion--Departure from Berlin--Sojourn in Hamburg--I drown myself in
the same way as a bad actor shoots himself--An old fool of a woman falls
in love with me, but her addresses are rejected.

For _belles lettres_ I discovered not the slightest inclination; I could
not even conceive how any man was to form a science of what pleases or
displeases--a matter which, according to my opinion at the time, could
have merely a subjective ground. One day when I was taking a walk with
Mendelssohn, our conversation fell upon the subject of the poets, whom
he recommended me to read. "No," I replied, "I am going to read none of
the poets. What is a poet but a liar?" Mendelssohn smiled at this and
said, "You agree in this with Plato, who banished all poets from his
Republic. But I hope that with time you will think differently on the
subject." And so it happened soon.

Longinus' _On the Sublime_ fell into my hand. The examples of the
sublime which he adduces from Homer, and particularly the celebrated
passage of Sappho, made a deep impression on my mind. I thought to
myself, these are but foolish trifles, it is true, but the imagery and
descriptions are really very beautiful. After that I read Homer himself,
and was forced to laugh heartily at the foolish fellow. What a serious
air, I said to myself, over such childless stories! By and by, however,
I found a great deal of pleasure in the reading. Ossian, on the other
hand, whom I got to read afterwards (of course only in German
translations) produced on me a peculiarly awe-inspiring effect. The pomp
of his style, the impressive brevity of his descriptions, the purity of
his sentiments, the simplicity of the objects described by him, and
lastly, the similarity of his poetry to that of the Hebrews, charmed me
uncommonly. Thus I found also a great deal of gratification in Gessner's

My friend, the Pole of whom I spoke in the preceding chapter, who
occupied himself mainly with _belles lettres_, was greatly delighted at
my conversion. I used to dispute with him the utility of these studies;
and once, when he was reading to me as a model of vigour in expression a
passage of the Psalms, in which King David shows himself a master in
cursing, I interrupted him with the words, "What sort of an art is this?
Why, my mother-in-law--God bless her!--when she was squabbling with a
neighbour woman, used to curse much more wildly than that!"

Now, however, he had his triumph over me. Mendelssohn also and my other
friends were uncommonly pleased at this change. They wished me to devote
myself regularly to the _humaniora_, as without these a man can
scarcely make his own intellectual productions useful to the world. It
was very difficult, however, to convince me of this. I was always in
haste to enjoy the present, without thinking that, by due preparation, I
could make this enjoyment greater and more lasting.

I now found gratification, not only in the study of the sciences, but
generally in everything good and beautiful, with which I became
acquainted; and I carried this out with an enthusiasm which passed all
limits. The hitherto suppressed inclination to the pleasures of sense
also asserted its claims. The first occasion of this was the following.
For many years some men, who were occupied in various kinds of teaching,
had insinuated themselves into the most prominent and wealthy families
of the Jewish nation. They devoted themselves especially to the French
language (which was then regarded as the highest point of
enlightenment), to geography, arithmetic, bookkeeping, and similar
studies. They had also made themselves familiar with some phrases and
imperfectly understood results of the more profound sciences and
philosophical systems, while their intercourse with the fair sex was
marked by studious gallantry. As a result of all this, they were great
favourites in the families where they visited, and were regarded as
clever fellows. Now, they began to observe that my reputation was always
on the increase, and that the respect for my attainments and talents
went so far, that they were being thrown wholly into the shade.
Accordingly they thought of a stratagem, by which they might be able to
ward off the threatened evil.

They resolved to draw me into their company, to show me every
demonstration of friendship, and to render me every possible service. By
this means they hoped, in the first place, as a result of our
intercourse, to win for themselves some of the respect which was shown
to me, and, in the second place, to obtain, from my frank and
communicative spirit, some additional knowledge of those sciences which
as yet they knew only in name. But, in the third place, as they knew my
enthusiasm for everything which I once recognised as good, they expected
to intoxicate me with the allurements of sensual pleasure, and to cool
in some measure my ardour in the study of science, which would at the
same time alienate my friends, my intimacy with whom made them so

Accordingly they invited me into their society, testified their
friendship and esteem for me, and begged the honour of my company.
Suspecting no harm, I received their advances with pleasure, especially
as I reflected that Mendelssohn and my other friends were too grand for
everyday intercourse with me. It became therefore a very desirable
object with me, to find some friends of a middle class, with whom I
could associate _sans façon_, and enjoy the charms of familiarity. My
new friends took me into gay society, to taverns, on pleasure
excursions, at last also to ----;[57] and all this at their own
expense. I, on my side, in my happy humour, opened up to them in return
all the mysteries of philosophy, explained to them in detail all the
peculiar systems, and corrected their ideas on various subjects of human
knowledge. But as things of this sort cannot be poured into a man's
head, and as these gentlemen had no special capacity for them, of course
they were not able to make any great progress by this kind of
instruction. When I observed this, I began to express some sort of
contempt for them, and made no attempt to conceal the fact, that it was
mainly the roast and the wine that gave me pleasure in their company.
This did not please them particularly; and as they were unable to reach
their object with me completely, they tried to reach it at least in
part. They told tales to my grand friends behind my back about the most
trifling incidents and expressions. For instance, they asserted that I
charged Mendelssohn with being a philosophical hypocrite, that I
declared others to be endowed with but shallow pates, that I was seeking
to spread dangerous systems, and that I was wholly abandoned to
Epicureanism. (As if they were genuine Stoics!) They even began at last
openly to manifest their enmity.

All this of course had its effect; and to add to the impression, my
friends observed that in my studies I followed no fixed plan, but merely
my inclination. Accordingly they proposed to me that I should study
medicine, but could not induce me to do it. I observed that the theory
of medicine contains many departments as auxiliary sciences, each of
which requires a specialist for its thorough mastery, while the practice
of medicine implies a peculiar genius and faculty of judgment, that are
seldom to be met with. I observed at the same time, that the most of
physicians take advantage of the ignorance of the public. In accordance
with established usage they spend some years at the universities, where
they have an opportunity indeed of attending all the lectures, but in
point of fact attend very few. At the close of their course, by means of
money and fair words, they get a dissertation written for them; and
thus, after a very simple fashion, become medical practitioners.

As already mentioned, I had a great liking for painting; but I was
advised against this, because I was already well advanced in years, and
consequently might not have sufficient patience for the minute exercises
required for this art. At last the proposal was made to me, to learn
pharmacy; and as I had already obtained some acquaintance with physics
as well as chemistry, I consented. My object in this, however, was not
to make any practical use of my attainments, but merely to acquire
theoretical knowledge. Accordingly, instead of setting to with my own
hands, and thereby acquiring expertness in this art, at important
chemical processes I played the part of a mere spectator. In this way I
learnt pharmacy, yet without being in the position of becoming an
apothecary. After the lapse of a three years' apprenticeship, Madame
Rosen, in whose shop I was apprenticed, was duly paid by H. J. D. the
promised fee of sixty thalers. I received a certificate, that I had
perfectly mastered the art of pharmacy; and this ended the whole matter.

This, however, contributed not a little to alienate my friends. At last
Mendelssohn asked me to come and see him, when he informed me of this
alienation, and pointed out to me its causes. They complained, (1) that
I had not made up my mind to any plan of life, and had thereby rendered
fruitless all their exertions in my behalf; (2) that I was trying to
spread dangerous opinions and systems; and (3) that, according to
general rumour, I was leading a rather loose life, and was very much
addicted to sensual pleasures.

The first of these complaints I endeavoured to answer by referring to
the fact, which I had mentioned to my friends at the very first, that,
in consequence of my peculiar training, I was indisposed for any kind of
business, and adapted merely for a quiet speculative life, by which I
could not only satisfy my natural inclination, but also, by teaching and
similar means, provide for my support in a certain fashion. "As to the
second point," I proceeded, "the opinions and systems referred to are
either true or false. If the former, then I do not see how the knowledge
of the truth can do any harm. If the latter, then let them be refuted.
Moreover, I have explained these opinions and systems only to gentlemen
who desire to be enlightened, and to rise above all prejudices. But the
truth is, that it is not the mischievous nature of the opinions, it is
the incapacity of those gentlemen to comprehend them, coupled with their
reluctance to make such a humiliating confession, that sets them in arms
against me. In reference to the third reproach, however, I must say with
downright honesty, Herr Mendelssohn, we are all Epicureans. The
moralists can prescribe to us merely rules of prudence; that is to say,
they can prescribe the use of means for the attainment of given ends,
but not the ends themselves. But," I added, "I see clearly that I must
quit Berlin; whither, is a matter of indifference." With this I bade
Mendelssohn farewell. He gave me a very favourable testimonial of my
capabilities and talents, and wished me a prosperous journey.

To my other friends also I bade farewell, and in brief but emphatic
terms thanked them for the favours they had shown. One of my friends was
taken aback, when I bade him goodbye, at my using the brief form, "I
hope you will enjoy good health, my dear friend; and I thank you for all
the favours you have bestowed upon me." It seemed to this excellent, but
prosaically poetical man, as if the form were too curt and dry for all
his friendliness towards me. So he replied with evident displeasure, "Is
this all that you have learnt in Berlin?" I made no answer, however, but
went away, booked by the Hamburg post, and departed from Berlin.

On leaving I received from Samuel Levi[58] a letter of introduction to
one of his correspondents. When I arrived in Hamburg, I went to the
merchant to whom this letter was addressed, and delivered it. He
received me well, and invited me to his table during my stay in the
city. But as he knew nothing except how to make money, and took no
particular interest in scholarship or science, he evidently entertained
me merely on account of my letter of introduction, because he had to do
something to gratify his correspondent. As I knew nothing of trade,
however, and besides made no very presentable figure, he endeavoured to
get rid of me as soon as possible, and with a view to that asked me
where I meant to go when I left Hamburg. When I replied that I was going
to Holland, he gave me the well-meant advice to hasten my departure, as
this was the best season of the year for travelling.

Accordingly I took out a passage on a Hamburg vessel that was to sail
for Holland in two or three weeks. For travelling companions I had two
barbers, a tailor, and a shoemaker. These fellows made themselves merry,
caroused bravely, and sang all sorts of songs. In this joviality I could
not take a part; in fact they scarcely understood my language, and
teased me on that account in a thousand ways, though I bore it all with
patience. The vessel glided pleasantly down the Elbe to a village at
the mouth of the river some miles below Hamburg. Here we were obliged to
lie about six weeks, prevented by contrary winds from putting out to
sea. The ship's crew, along with the other passengers, went to the
village tavern, where they drank and played. For me, however, the time
became very dreary, and I was besides so sick, that I nearly despaired
of my recovery.

At last we got a favourable wind, the vessel stood out to sea, and on
the third day after our departure we arrived before Amsterdam. A boat
came out to the ship to take the passengers into the city. At first I
would not trust myself to the Dutch boatman, because I was afraid of
falling into the hands of the crimps, against whom I had been warned in
Hamburg; but the captain of our ship assured me that he knew the boatman
well, and that I might trust myself to him without any anxiety.
Accordingly I came into the city; but as I had no acquaintances here,
and as I knew that at the Hague there was a gentleman belonging to a
prominent Berlin family, and that he had obtained from Berlin a tutor
with whom I was acquainted, I set out for that place in a drag-boat.

Here I took lodgings at the house of a poor Jewish woman, but before I
had time to rest from my journey, a man of tall, spare figure, in untidy
clothing, and with a pipe in his mouth, came in, and, without observing
me, commenced to speak with my landlady. At last she said to him, "Herr
H----, here is a stranger from Berlin; pray, speak to him." The man
thereupon turned to me, and asked me who I was. With my usual
instinctive frankness and love of truth, I told him that I was born in
Poland, that my love of the sciences had induced me to spend some years
in Berlin, and that now I had come to Holland with the intention of
entering some situation, if an opportunity offered itself. When he heard
that I was a man of learning, he began to speak with me on various
subjects in philosophy, and especially in mathematics, in which he had
done a good deal. He found in me a man after his own heart, and we
formed at once a bond of friendship with one another.

I now went to seek the tutor from Berlin, to whom I referred before. He
introduced me to his employer as a man of high talent, who had made a
great figure in Berlin, and had brought letters of introduction from
that city. This gentleman, who made much of his tutor, as well as of
everything that came from Berlin, invited me to dinner. As my external
appearance did not appear to promise much, and I was besides thoroughly
exhausted and depressed by my sea-voyage, I made a comical figure at
table, and our host evidently did not know what to think of me. But as
he put great confidence in the written recommendation of Mendelssohn and
the oral recommendation of his tutor, he suppressed his astonishment,
and invited me to his table as long as I chose to remain here. In the
evening he invited his brothers-in-law to meet me. They were children of
B----, celebrated for his wealth as well as his beneficence; and as
they were men of learning themselves, they were expected to sound me.
They conversed with me on various subjects in the Talmud, and even in
the Cabbalah. As I showed myself thoroughly initiated into the mysteries
of this sort of learning, even explained to them passages which they
regarded as inexplicable, and untied the most complicated knots of
argument, their admiration was excited, and they believed they had come
upon a great man.

It was not long, however, before their admiration turned to hatred. The
occasion of this was the following. In connection with the Cabbalah they
told me of a godly man, who had now for many years been a resident of
London, and who was able to perform miracles by means of the Cabbalah. I
expressed some doubts on the subject, but they assured me they had been
present at performances of the kind during this man's residence at the
Hague. To this I replied as a philosopher, that I did not indeed
question the truth of their statement, but that perhaps they had not
duly investigated the matter themselves, and gave out their
pre-conceived opinions as facts. Moreover, I declared that I must regard
with scepticism the effect of the Cabbalah in general, until it is shown
that that effect is of such a kind as cannot be explained in accordance
with the known laws of Nature. This declaration they held to be heresy.

At the end of the meal the wine-cup was passed to me, that I might, in
accordance with the usual custom, pronounce the blessing over it. This
however I declined with the explanation, that I did so not from any
false shame of speaking before a number of men, because in Poland I had
been a rabbi, and had very often held disputations and delivered sermons
before large assemblies, and, in order to prove this, was now willing to
deliver public lectures every day. It was merely, I explained further,
the love of truth and the reluctance to do anything inconsistent, that
made it impossible for me, without manifest aversion, to say prayers
which I regarded as a result of an anthropomorphic system of theology.

At this their patience was completely exhausted; they reviled me as a
damnable heretic, and declared it would be a deadly sin to tolerate me
in a Jewish house. Our host, who was no philosopher indeed, but a
reasonable and enlightened man, did not mind much what they said; my
humble talents were of more value in his eyes than my piety. Accordingly
they broke up immediately after dinner, and left the house in deep
displeasure; but all their subsequent efforts to drive me from their
brother-in-law's house were fruitless. I remained in it about nine
months, lived at perfect freedom, but very retired, without any
occupation or any rational society.

Here I cannot pass over in silence an event which was remarkable both in
a psychological and in a moral point of view. In Holland I wanted
nothing but an occupation suited to my powers, and naturally, therefore,
I became hypochondriac. From feelings of satiety, not infrequently I
fell upon the idea of making away with myself, and of thus putting an
end to an existence which had become a burden to me. But no sooner did I
come to action, than the love of life always assumed the upper hand
again. Once, at the Feast of Haman, in accordance with the custom of the
Jews, I had banquetted very heartily in the house where I took my meals.
After the feast, about midnight I returned to my lodging; and as I had
to pass along one of the canals that are laid out everywhere in Holland,
it occurred to me that this was a very convenient opportunity for
carrying out the design which I had often formed. I thought to myself,
"My life is a burden. At present, indeed, I have no wants; but how will
it be with me in the future, and by what means shall I preserve my life,
since I am of no use for anything in the world? I have already resolved,
on cool reflection at different times, to put an end to my life, and
nothing but my cowardice has restrained me hitherto. Now, when I am
pretty drunk, on the brink of a deep canal, the thing may be done in a
moment without any difficulty." Already I had bent my body over the
canal, in order to plunge in; but only the upper part of the body obeyed
the command of the mind, trusting that the lower part would certainly
refuse its services for such a purpose. So I stood for a good while with
half the body bent over the water, and propped myself carefully with my
legs firmly planted on the ground, so that a spectator might have
fancied I was merely making my bow to the water. This hesitation
destroyed my whole plan. I felt like a man who is going to take
medicine, but, wanting the resolution required, raises the cup time
after time to his mouth, and sets it down again. I began at last to
laugh at myself, as I reflected that my sole motive for suicide was a
real superfluity for the present and an imaginary want for the
future.[59] I therefore let the project drop for the time being, went
home, and thus brought the serio-comic scene to an end.

Still another comical scene must be mentioned here. At the Hague there
lived at that time a woman of about forty-five, who was said to have
been very pretty in youth, and supported herself by giving lessons in
French. One day she called upon me at my lodging, introduced herself,
and expressed an irresistible desire for scientific conversation. She
declared therefore that she would visit me frequently in my lodging, and
requested the honour of a visit from me in return.

This advance I met with great pleasure, returned her visits several
times; and thus our intercourse became more and more intimate. We
conversed usually on subjects in philosophy and _belles lettres_. As I
was still at that time a married man, and, except for her enthusiasm in
learning, Madam had little attraction for me, I thought of nothing
beyond mere entertainment. The lady, however, who had been a widow now
for a pretty long while, and had, according to her own story, conceived
an affection for me, began to express this by looks and words in a
romantic manner, which struck me as very comical. I could never believe,
that a lady could fall in love with me in earnest. Her expressions of
affection therefore I took for mere airs of affectation. She, on the
other hand, showed herself more and more in earnest, became at times
thoughtful in the midst of our conversation, and burst into tears.

It was during a conversation of this sort, that we fell upon the subject
of love. I told her frankly, that I could not love a woman except for
the sake of womanly excellences, such as beauty, grace, agreeableness,
etc., and that any other excellences she might possess, such as talents
or learning, could excite in me only esteem, but by no means love. The
lady adduced against me arguments _a priori_ as well as instances from
experience, especially from French novels, and tried to correct my
notions of love. I could not, however, be so easily convinced; and as
the lady was carrying her airs to an absurd length, I rose and took my
leave. She accompanied me to the very door, grasped me by the hand, and
would not let me go. I asked her somewhat sharply, "What's the matter
with you, madam?" With trembling voice and tearful eyes she replied, "I
love you."

When I heard this laconic declaration of love, I began to laugh
immoderately, tore myself from her grasp, and rushed away. Some time
afterwards she sent me the following _billet doux_:--


I have been greatly mistaken in your character. I took you for a man of
noble thoughts and exalted feelings; but I see now that you are a
genuine Epicurean. You seek nothing but pleasure. A woman can please you
only on account of her beauty. A Madame Dacier, for example, who has
studied thoroughly all the Greek and Latin authors, translated them into
her native language, and enriched them with learned annotations, could
not please you. Why? Because she is not pretty. Sir, you, who are
otherwise so enlightened, ought to be ashamed to cherish such pernicious
principles; and if you will not repent, then tremble before the revenge
of the injured love of

      Yours, etc."

To this I returned the following reply:--


That you have been mistaken, is shown by the result. You say that I am a
genuine Epicurean. In this you do me a great honour. Much as I abhor the
title of an _epicure_, on the other hand I feel proud of the title of
_genuine Epicurean_. Certainly it is beauty alone that pleases me in a
woman; but as this can be heightened by other qualities, these must also
be pleasing as means towards the chief end. On the other hand, I can
merely _esteem_ such a woman on account of her talents; _love_ her I
cannot, as I have already explained in conversation. For the learning of
Madame Dacier I have all respect: she could at all events fall in love
with the Greek heroes who were at the siege of Troy, and expect in
return the love of their _manes_ that were constantly hovering around
her; but nothing more. For the rest, Madam, as far as your revenge is
concerned, I do not fear it, since Time, which destroys all things, has
shattered your weapons, that is, your teeth and nails.

      Yours, etc."

Thus ended this strange love-affair.

I discovered that in Holland there was nothing for me to do, inasmuch as
the main desire of the Dutch Jews is to make money, and they manifest no
particular liking for the sciences. Besides, in consequence of not
knowing the Dutch language, I was unable to give instructions in any
science. I determined therefore to return to Berlin by Hamburg, but
found an opportunity of travelling to Hanover by land. In Hanover I went
to a wealthy Jew,--a man who does not deserve even to enjoy his
riches,--showed him my letter of introduction from Mendelssohn, and
represented to him the urgency of my present circumstances. He read
Mendelssohn's letter carefully through, called for pen and ink, and,
without speaking a word to me, wrote at the foot:--"I also hereby
certify that what Herr Mendelssohn writes in praise of Herr Solomon is
perfectly correct." And with this he dismissed me.


I return to Hamburg--A Lutheran Pastor pronounces me to be a scabby
Sheep, and unworthy of Admission into the Christian Fold--I enter the
Gymnasium, and frighten the Chief Rabbi out of his Wits.

I made a prosperous journey back to Hamburg, but here I fell into
circumstances of the deepest distress. I lodged in a miserable house,
had nothing to eat, and did not know what to do. I had received too much
education to return to Poland, to spend my life in misery without
rational occupation or society, and to sink back into the darkness of
superstition and ignorance, from which I had hardly delivered myself
with so much labour. On the other hand, to succeed in Germany was a
result on which I could not calculate, owing to my ignorance of the
language, as well as of the manners and customs of the people, to which
I had never yet been able to adapt myself properly. I had learnt no
particular profession, I had not distinguished myself in any special
science, I was not even master of any language in which I could make
myself perfectly intelligible. It occurred to me, therefore, that for me
there was no alternative left, but to embrace the Christian religion,
and get myself baptised in Hamburg. Accordingly I resolved to go to the
first clergyman I should come upon, and inform him of my resolution, as
well as of my motives for it, without any hypocrisy, in a truthful and
honest fashion. But as I could not express myself well orally, I put my
thoughts into writing in German with Hebrew characters, went to a
schoolmaster, and got him to copy it in German characters. The purport
of my letter was in brief as follows:--

"I am a native of Poland, belonging to the Jewish nation, destined by my
education and studies to be a rabbi; but in the thickest darkness I have
perceived some light. This induced me to search further after light and
truth, and to free myself completely from the darkness of superstition
and ignorance. In order to this end, which could not be attained in my
native place, I came to Berlin, where by the support of some enlightened
men of our nation I studied for some years--not indeed after any plan,
but merely to satisfy my thirst for knowledge. But as our nation is
unable to use, not only such planless studies, but even those conducted
on the most perfect plan, it cannot be blamed for becoming tired of
them, and pronouncing their encouragement to be useless. I have
therefore resolved, in order to secure temporal as well as eternal
happiness, which depends on the attainment of perfection, and in order
to become useful to myself as well as others, to embrace the Christian
religion. The Jewish religion, it is true, comes, in its articles of
faith, nearer to reason than Christianity. But in practical use the
latter has an advantage over the former; and since morality, which
consists not in opinions but in actions, is the aim of all religion in
general, clearly the latter comes nearer than the former to this aim.
Moreover, I hold the mysteries of the Christian religion for that which
they are, that is, allegorical representations of the truths that are
most important for man. By this means I make my faith in them harmonise
with reason, but I cannot believe them according to their common
meaning. I beg therefore most respectfully an answer to the question,
whether after this confession I am worthy of the Christian religion or
not. In the former case I am ready to carry my proposal into effect; but
in the latter, I must give up all claim to a religion which enjoins me
to lie, that is, to deliver a confession of faith which contradicts my

The schoolmaster, to whom I dictated this, fell into astonishment at my
audacity; never before had he listened to such a confession of faith. He
shook his head with much concern, interrupted the writing several times,
and became doubtful, whether the mere copying was not itself a sin. With
great reluctance he copied it out, merely to get rid of the thing. I
went then to a prominent clergyman, delivered my letter, and begged for
a reply. He read it with great attention, fell likewise into
astonishment, and on finishing entered into conversation with me.

"So," he said, "I see your intention is to embrace the Christian
religion, merely in order to improve your temporal circumstances."

"Excuse me, Herr Pastor," I replied, "I think I have made it clear
enough in my letter, that my object is the attainment of perfection. To
this, it is true, the removal of all hindrances and the improvement of
my external circumstances form an indispensable condition. But this
condition is not the chief end."

"But," said the pastor, "do you not feel any inclination of the soul to
the Christian religion without reference to any external motives?"

"I should be telling a lie, if I were to give you an affirmative

"You are too much of a philosopher," replied the pastor, "to be able to
become a Christian. Reason has taken the upper hand with you, and faith
must accommodate itself to reason. You hold the mysteries of the
Christian religion to be mere fables, and its commands to be mere laws
of reason. For the present I cannot be satisfied with your confession of
faith. You should therefore pray to God, that He may enlighten you with
His grace, and endow you with the spirit of true Christianity; and then
come to me again."

"If that is the case," I said, "then I must confess, Herr Pastor, that I
am not qualified for Christianity. Whatever light I may receive, I shall
always make it luminous with the light of reason. I shall never believe
that I have fallen upon new truths, if it is impossible to see their
connection with the truths already known to me. I must therefore remain
what I am,--a stiffnecked Jew. My religion enjoins me to _believe_
nothing, but to _think_ the truth and to _practise_ goodness. If I find
any hindrance in this from external circumstances, it is not my fault. I
do all that lies in my power."

With this I bade the pastor goodbye.

The hardships of my journey, coupled with poor food, brought on an ague.
I lay on a straw-bed in a garret, and suffered the want of all
conveniences and refreshments. My landlord, who took pity on me, called
a Jewish physician, who prescribed an emetic which soon cured me of my
fever. The doctor found that I was no common man, stayed to converse
with me for some hours, and begged me, as soon as I recovered, to visit

Meanwhile, however, a young man, who had known me in Berlin, heard of my
arrival. He called on me to say that Herr W----, who had seen me in
Berlin, was now residing in Hamburg, and that I might very properly call
upon him. I did so, and Herr W----, who was a very clever, honourable
man, of a benevolent disposition naturally, asked me what I intended to
do. I represented to him my whole circumstances, and begged for his
advice. He said that in his opinion the unfortunate position of my
affairs arose from the fact, that I had devoted myself with zeal merely
to the acquisition of scientific knowledge, but had neglected the study
of language, and therefore I was unable to communicate my knowledge to
others, or make any use of it. Meanwhile, he thought, nothing had been
lost by delay; and if I was still willing to accommodate myself to the
circumstances, I could attain my object in the gymnasium at Altona,
where his son was studying, while he would provide for my support.

I accepted this offer with many thanks, and went home with a joyful
heart. Meanwhile Herr W---- spoke to the professors of the gymnasium, as
well as to the principal, but more particularly to the syndic, Herr
G----, a man who cannot be sufficiently praised. He represented to them,
that I was a man of uncommon talents, who wanted merely some further
knowledge of language to distinguish himself in the world, and who hoped
to obtain that knowledge by a short residence in the gymnasium. They
acceded to his request. I was matriculated, and had a room assigned to
me, in the institution.

Here I lived for two years in peace and contentment. But the pupils in
such a gymnasium, as may be easily supposed, make very slow progress;
and it was therefore natural that I, who had already made considerable
attainments in science, should find the lessons at times somewhat
tedious. Consequently I did not attend them all, but made a selection to
suit my taste. The Director Dusch I esteemed very highly on account of
his profound scholarship and his excellent character. I therefore
attended the most of his lectures. It is true, the philosophy of
Ernesti, on which he lectured, could not give me much satisfaction, and
just as little did I receive from his lectures on Segner's Mathematical
Compendium. But I derived great benefit from his instructions in the
English language. The Rector H----, a cheerful old man, though somewhat
pedantic, was not altogether pleased with me, because I would not
perform his Latin exercises, and would not learn Greek at all. The
Professor of History began his lectures _ab ovo_ with Adam, and at the
end of the year with a great deal of effort reached as far down as the
building of the Tower of Babel. The teacher of French used for
translation Fenelon's _Sur l'existence de Dieu_,--a work for which I
conceived the greatest dislike, because the author, while appearing to
declaim against Spinozism, in reality argues in its defence.

During the whole period of my residence in the gymnasium the professors
were unable to form any correct idea of me, because they never had an
opportunity of forming my acquaintance. By the end of the first year I
thought I had attained my object, and laid a good foundation in
languages. I had also become tired of this inactive life, and therefore
resolved to quit the gymnasium. But Director Dusch; who began by and by
to become acquainted with me, begged me to stay at least another year,
and, as I wanted for nothing, I consented.

It was about this time that the following incident in my life took
place. My wife had sent a polish Jew in search of me, and he heard of my
residence in Hamburg. Accordingly he came and called on me at the
gymnasium. He had been commissioned by my wife to demand, that I should
either return home without delay, or send through him a bill of divorce.
At that time I was unable to do either the one or the other. I was not
inclined to be divorced from my wife without any cause; and to return at
once to Poland, where I had not yet the slightest prospect of getting on
in the world or of leading a rational life, was to me impossible. I
represented all this to the gentleman who had undertaken the commission,
and added that it was my intention to leave the gymnasium soon and go to
Berlin, that my Berlin friends would, as I hoped, give me both their
advice and assistance in carrying out this intention. He would not be
satisfied with this answer, which he took for a mere evasion. When he
thus found that he could do nothing with me, he went to the chief rabbi,
and entered a complaint against me. A messenger was accordingly sent to
summon me before the tribunal of the chief rabbi; but I took my stand,
that at present I was not under his jurisdiction, inasmuch as the
gymnasium had a jurisdiction of its own, by which my case would require
to be decided. The chief rabbi made every effort through the Government
to make me submit to his wishes, but all his efforts were in vain. When
he saw that he could not accomplish his purpose in this way, he sent me
an invitation a second time on the pretext that he wished merely to
speak with me. To this I willingly consented, and went to him at once.

He received me with much respect; and when I made known to him my
birthplace and family in Poland, he began to lament and wring his hands.
"Alas!" said he, "you are the son of the famous Rabbi Joshua? I know
your father well; he is a pious and learned man. You also are not
unknown to me; I have examined you as a boy several times, and formed
high expectations of you. Oh! is it possible that you have altered so?"
(Here he pointed to my shaven beard). To this I replied, that I also had
the honour of knowing him, and that I still remembered his examinations
well. My conduct hitherto, I told him, was as little opposed to religion
properly understood, as it was to reason. "But," he interrupted "you do
not wear a beard, you do not go to the synagogue: is that not contrary
to religion?" "No!" I replied, and I proved to him from the Talmud that,
under the circumstances in which I was placed, all this was allowed. On
this point we entered into a lengthy dispute, in which each maintained
his right. As he could effect nothing with me by such disputation, he
adopted the style of mere sermonising; but when this also was of no
avail, he began to cry aloud, "_Shophar! Shophar!_" This is the name of
the horn which is blown on New-Year's day as a summons to repentance,
and at which it is supposed that Satan is horribly afraid. While the
chief rabbi called out the word, he pointed to a _Shophar_ that lay
before him on the table, and asked me, "Do you know what that is?" I
replied quite boldly, "Oh yes! it is a ram's horn." At these words the
chief rabbi fell back upon his chair, and began to lament over my lost
soul. I left him to lament as long as he liked, and bade him goodbye.

At the end of my second year I began to reflect, that it would be an
advantage in view of my future success, as well as fair to the
gymnasium, that I should make myself more intimately acquainted with the
professors. Accordingly I went to Director Dusch, announced to him that
I was soon to leave, and told him that, as I wished a certificate from
him, it would be well for him to examine me on the progress I had made,
so that his certificate might be as nearly as possible in accordance
with the truth. To this end he made me translate some passages from
Latin and English works in prose as well as in verse, and was very well
pleased with the translation. Afterwards he entered into conversation
with me on some subjects in philosophy, but found me so well versed in
these, that for his own safety he was obliged to back out. At last he
asked me, "But how is it with your mathematics?" I begged him to examine
me in this also. "In our mathematical lessons," he began, "we had
advanced to somewhere about the subject of mathematical bodies. Will you
work out yourself a proposition not yet taken up in the lessons, for
example, that about the relation of the cylinder, the sphere and the
cone to one another? You may take some days to do it." I replied that
this was unnecessary, and offered to perform the task on the spot. I
then demonstrated, not only the proposition prescribed, but several
other propositions out of Segner's Geometry. The Director was very much
surprised at this, called all the pupils in the gymnasium, and
represented to them that the extraordinary progress I had made should
make them ashamed of themselves. The most of them did not know what to
say to this; but some replied, "Do not suppose, Herr Director, that
Maimon made this progress in mathematics here. He has seldom attended
the mathematical lessons, and even when he was there he paid no
attention to them." They were going to say more, but the Director
commanded silence, and gave me an honourable certificate, from which I
cannot avoid quoting a few sentences. They became to me afterwards a
constant spur to higher attainments, and I hope it will not be
considered vainglory in me to cite the opinion of this esteemed man.

"His capacity," says he, "for learning all that is beautiful, good and
useful in general, but in particular those sciences which require severe
exertion of the mental powers, abstract and profound thought, is, I
might almost say, extraordinary. All those sorts of knowledge, which
demand in the highest degree one's own mental efforts, appear to him the
most agreeable; and intellectual occupations seem to be his chief, if
not his sole, enjoyment. His favourite studies hitherto have been
philosophy and mathematics, in which his progress has excited my
astonishment, &c."

I now bade goodbye to the teachers and officers of the gymnasium, who
unanimously paid me the compliment, that I had done honour to their
institution. I then set out once more for Berlin.


Third Journey to Berlin--Frustrated Plan of Hebrew Authorship--Journey
to Breslau--Divorce.

On my arrival in Berlin I called upon Mendelssohn, as well as some other
old friends, and begged them, as I had now acquired some knowledge of
languages, to employ me in some occupation suited to my capacity. They
hit upon the suggestion, that, in order to enlighten the Polish Jews
still living in darkness, I should prepare in Hebrew, as the only
language intelligible to them, some scientific works, which these
philanthropists were to print at their own expense, and distribute among
the people. His proposal I accepted with delight. But now the question
arose, with what sort of works a beginning should be made. On this point
my excellent friends were divided in their opinions. One of them thought
that the history of the Jewish nation would be most serviceable for this
purpose, inasmuch as the people would discover in it the origin of their
religious doctrines and of the subsequent corruption which these had
undergone, while they would thus also gain an insight into the fact,
that the fall of the Jewish state, as well as all the subsequent
persecution and oppression which they had suffered, had arisen from
their own ignorance and opposition to all rational arrangements.
Accordingly this gentleman recommended that I should translate from
French Basnage's _History of the Jews_; he gave me the work for this
purpose, and asked me to furnish a copy of my translation. The specimen
gave satisfaction to them all, even to Mendelssohn, and I was ready to
take the work in hand; but one of our friends thought that we ought to
begin with something on natural religion and rational morals, inasmuch
as this is the object of all enlightenment. Accordingly he recommended
that for this purpose I should translate the _Natural Religion_ of
Reimarus. Mendelssohn withheld his opinion, because he believed that
whatever was undertaken in this line, though it would do no harm, would
also be of little use. I myself undertook these works, not from any
conviction of my own, but at the request of my friends.

I was too well acquainted with the rabbinical despotism, which by the
power of superstition has established its throne for many centuries in
Poland, and which for its own security seeks in every possible way to
prevent the spread of light and truth. I knew how closely the Jewish
theocracy is connected with the national existence, so that the
abolition of the former must inevitably bring with it the annihilation
of the latter. I saw therefore clearly that my labours in this direction
would be fruitless; but I undertook this commission, because, as already
stated, my friends would have it so, and because I could think of no
other means of subsistence. Accordingly without fixing anything definite
about the plan of my labours, my friends resolved to send me to Dessau,
where I could carry on my work at leisure.

I reached Dessau in the hope, that after a few days my friends in Berlin
would resolve upon something definite about my work: but in this I was
deceived; for, as soon as I turned my back on Berlin, nothing further
was thought of the plan. I waited about a fortnight; but when during
that period I received no communication, I wrote to Berlin in the
following terms:--"If my friends cannot unite upon a plan, they might
leave the settlement of it to my own judgment. For my part I believe
that, to enlighten the Jewish nation, we must begin neither with history
nor with natural theology and morals. One of my reasons for thinking so
is, that these subjects, being easily intelligible, would not be able to
instil any regard for science in general among the more learned Jews,
who are accustomed to respect only those studies which involve a strain
upon the highest intellectual powers. But a second reason is, that, as
those subjects would frequently come into collision with religious
prejudices, they would never be admitted. Besides, sooth to say, there
is no proper history of the Jewish nation: for they have scarcely ever
stood in political relation with other civilised nations; and, with the
exception of the Old Testament and Josephus and a few fragments on the
persecutions of the Jews in the middle ages, nothing is to be found
recorded on the subject. I believe, therefore, that it would be best to
make a beginning with some science which, besides being most favourable
for the development of the mind, is also self-evident, and stands in no
connection with any religious opinions. Of this sort are the
mathematical sciences; and therefore with this object in view I am
willing to write a mathematical text-book in Hebrew."

To this I received the answer, that I might follow my plan. Accordingly
I applied myself with all diligence to the preparation of this
text-book, using the Latin work on mathematics by Wolff as its basis;
and in two months it was finished. I then returned to Berlin, to give an
account of my work, but received immediately from one of the gentlemen
interested the disappointing information, that, as the work was very
voluminous, and as it would entail heavy expenditure especially on
account of the copper-plates required, he could not undertake the
publication at his own expense, and I might therefore do with my
manuscript whatever I chose. I complained of this to Mendelssohn; and he
thought, that certainly it was unreasonable to let my work go without
remuneration, but that I could not require my friends to undertake the
publication of a work which could not calculate on any good result in
consequence of that aversion to all science, which I myself knew to be
prevalent among the Jewish nation. His advice therefore was, that I
should get the book printed by subscription; and of course I was
obliged to content myself with this. Mendelssohn and the other
enlightened Jews in Berlin subscribed, and I received for my work merely
my manuscript and the list of subscriptions. The whole plan, however,
was thought of no more.

On this I fell out again with my friends in Berlin. Being a man with
little knowledge of the world, who supposed that human actions must
always be determined by the laws of justice, I pressed for the
fulfilment of the bargain made. My friends, on the other hand, began,
though too late, to see, that their ill-considered project must of
necessity collapse, because they had no assurance of a market for such
voluminous and expensive works. From the religious, moral and political
condition of the Jews up to this time it was easy to foresee that the
few enlightened men among them would certainly give themselves no
trouble to study the sciences in the Hebrew language, which is very
ill-adapted for the exposition of such subjects; they will prefer to
seek science in its original sources. The unenlightened, on the other
hand,--and these form the majority,--are so swayed by rabbinical
prejudices, that they regard the study of the sciences, even in Hebrew,
as forbidden fruit, and persistently occupy themselves only with the
Talmud and the enormous number of its commentaries.

All this I understood very well, and therefore I never thought of
demanding that the work I had prepared should be printed; I asked merely
remuneration for the labour spent on it in vain. In this dispute
Mendelssohn remained neutral, because he thought that both parties had
right on their side. He promised to use his influence with my friends,
to induce them to provide for my subsistence in some other way. But when
even this was not done, I became impatient, and resolved to quit Berlin
once more, and go to Breslau. I took with me some letters of
introduction, but they were of little service; for before I reached
Breslau myself, letters in the spirit of those which Uriah carried had
preceded me, and made a bad impression on the most of those to whom my
letters of introduction were addressed. As a natural result, therefore,
I was coldly received; and as I knew nothing of the later letters, I
found it impossible to explain my reception, and had made up my mind to
quit Breslau.

By chance, however, I became acquainted with the celebrated Jewish poet,
the late Ephraim Kuh. This learned and high-minded man took so much
interest in me, that, neglecting all his former occupations and
enjoyments, he confined himself entirely to my society. To the wealthy
Jews he spoke of me with the greatest enthusiasm, and praised me as a
very good fellow. But when he found that all his complimentary remarks
failed to make any impression on these gentlemen, he took some trouble
to find out the cause of this, and at last discovered that the reason
lay in those friendly letters from Berlin. Their general tenor was, that
I was seeking to spread pernicious opinions. Ephraim Kuh, as a thinking
man, at once saw the reason of this charge; but with all the efforts he
made, he could not drive it out of the heads of these people. I
confessed to him that, during my first sojourn in Berlin as a young man
without experience or knowledge of the world, I had felt an irresistible
impulse to communicate to others whatever truth I knew; but I assured
him that, having for some years become wise by experience, I went to
work with great caution, and that therefore this charge was now wholly
without foundation.

Irritated by my disheartening situation, I resolved to form the
acquaintance of Christian scholars, by whose recommendation I thought I
might find a hearing among the wealthy men of my own nation. I could not
but fear, however, that my defective language might form an obstacle to
the expression of my thoughts; so I prepared a written essay, in which I
delivered my ideas on the most important questions of philosophy in the
form of aphorisms. With this essay I went to the celebrated Professor
Garve, explained to him briefly my intention, and submitted my aphorisms
to him for examination. He discussed them with me in a very friendly
manner, gave me a good testimonial, and recommended me also orally in
very emphatic language to the wealthy banker, Lipmann Meier. This
gentleman settled a monthly allowance on me for my support, and also
spoke to some other Jews on the subject.

My situation now improved every day. Many young men of the Jewish nation
sought my society. Among others the second son of Herr Aaron Zadig took
so much pleasure in my humble personality, that he desired to enjoy my
instruction in the sciences. This he earnestly begged his father to
allow; and the latter, being a well-to-do enlightened man of great good
sense, who wished to give his children the best German education, and
spared no expense for that object, willingly gave his consent. He sent
for me, and made the proposal that I should live at his house, and for a
moderate honorarium should give his second son lessons for two hours a
day in physics and _belles lettres_, and also a lesson in arithmetic of
an hour a day to his third and youngest son. This proposal I accepted
with great willingness; and, not long after, Herr Zadig asked me, if I
would not also consent to give lessons in Hebrew and elementary
mathematics to his children who had hitherto had for their teacher in
these subjects a Polish Jew, named Rabbi Manoth. But I thought it would
be unfair to supplant this poor man, who had a family to support, and
who was giving satisfaction at any rate; and therefore I declined this
request. Accordingly Rabbi Manoth continued his lessons, and I entered
upon mine.

In this house I was able to carry on but little study for myself. In the
first place, there was a want of books; and, in the second place, I
lived in a room with the children, where they were occupied with other
masters every hour of the day. Besides, the liveliness of these young
people did not suit my character which had already become somewhat
stern; and therefore I had often occasion to get angry at petty
outbursts of unruliness. Consequently, as I was obliged to pass most of
my time in idleness, I sought society. I often visited Herr Hiemann
Lisse, a plump little man of enlightened mind and cheerful disposition.
With him and some other jolly companions I spent my evenings in talk and
jest and play of every sort. During the day I strolled around among the

In other families also I soon became acquainted, particularly in those
of Herr Simon, the banker, and Herr Bortenstein, both of whom showed me
much kindness. All sought to persuade me to devote myself to medicine,
for which I had always entertained a great dislike. But when I saw from
my circumstances, that it would be difficult for me to find support in
any other way, I allowed myself to be persuaded. Professor Garve
introduced me to Professor Morgenbesser, and I attended his medical
lectures for some time; but after all I could not overcome my dislike to
the art, and accordingly gave up the lectures again. By and by I became
acquainted with other Christian scholars, especially with the late Herr
Lieberkühn, who was so justly esteemed on account of his abilities, as
well as for his warm interest in the welfare of mankind. I also made the
acquaintance of some teachers of merit in the Jesuits' College at

But I did not give up wholly literary work in Hebrew. I translated into
Hebrew Mendelssohn's _Morgenstunden_. Of this translation I sent some
sheets as a specimen to Herr Isaac Daniel Itzig in Berlin; but I
received no answer because this excellent man, owing to his business
being too extensive, cannot possibly give attention to subjects that are
not of immediate interest to him, and therefore such affairs as the
answering of my letter are easily forgotten. I also wrote in Hebrew a
treatise on Natural Philosophy according to Newtonian principles; and
this, as well as the rest of my Hebrew works, I still preserve in

At last, however, I fell here also into a precarious situation. The
children of Herr Zadig, in pursuance of the occupations to which they
were destined in life, entered into commercial situations, and therefore
required teachers no longer. Other means of support also gradually
failed. As I was thus obliged to seek subsistence in some other way, I
devoted myself to giving lessons; I taught Euler's _Algebra_ to a young
man, gave two children instruction in the rudiments of German and Latin,
&c. But even this did not last long, and I found myself in a sorrowful

Meanwhile my wife and eldest son arrived from Poland. A woman of rude
education and manners, but of great good sense and the courage of an
Amazon, she demanded that I should at once return home with her, not
seeing the impossibility of what she required. I had now lived some
years in Germany, had happily emancipated myself from the fetters of
superstition and religious prejudice, had abandoned the rude manner of
life in which I had been brought up, and extended my knowledge in many
directions. I could not therefore return to my former barbarous and
miserable condition, deprive myself of all the advantages I had gained,
and expose myself to rabbinical rage at the slightest deviation from the
ceremonial law, or the utterance of a liberal opinion. I represented to
her, that this could not be done at once, that I should require first of
all to make my situation known to my friends here as well as in Berlin,
and solicit from them the assistance of two or three hundred thalers, so
that I might be able to live in Poland independent of my religious
associates. But she would listen to nothing of all this, and declared
her resolution to obtain a divorce, if I would not go with her
immediately. Here therefore it was for me to choose the less of two
evils, and I consented to the divorce.

Meanwhile, however, I was obliged to provide for the lodging and board
of these guests, and to introduce them to my friends in Breslau. Both of
these duties I performed, and I pointed out, especially to my son, the
difference between the manner of life one leads here and that in Poland,
while I sought to convince him by several passages in the _Moreh
Nebhochim_, that enlightenment of the understanding and refinement of
manners are rather favourable than otherwise to religion. I went
further: I sought to convince him, that he ought to remain with me; I
assured him, that, with my direction and the support of my friends, he
would find opportunities of developing the good abilities with which
Nature had endowed him, and would obtain for them some suitable
employment. These representations made some impression upon him: but my
wife went with my son to consult some orthodox Jews, in whose advice she
thought she could thoroughly confide; and they recommended her to press
at once for a divorce, and on no account to let my son be induced to
remain with me. This resolution, however, she was not to disclose till
she had received from me a sufficient sum of money for household
purposes. She might then separate from me for ever, and start for home
with her booty.

This pretty plan was faithfully followed. By and by I had succeeded in
collecting some score of ducats from my friends. I gave them to my wife,
and explained to her that, to complete the required sum, it would be
necessary for us to go to Berlin. She then began to raise difficulties,
and declared at once point-blank, that for us a divorce was best, as
neither could I live happily with her in Poland, nor she with me in
Germany. In my opinion she was perfectly right. But it still made me
sorry to lose a wife, for whom I had once entertained affection, and I
could not let the affair be conducted in any spirit of levity. I told
her therefore that I should consent to a divorce only if it were
enjoined by the courts.

This was done. I was summoned before the court. My wife stated the
grounds on which she claimed a divorce. The president of the court then
said, "Under these circumstances we can do nothing but advise a
divorce." "Mr. President," I replied, "we came here, not to ask advice,
but to receive a judicial sentence." Thereupon the chief rabbi rose from
his seat (that what he said might not have the force of a judicial
decision,) approached me with the codex in his hand, and pointed to the
following passage:--"A vagabond, who abandons his wife for years, and
does not write to her or send her money, shall, when he is found, be
obliged to grant a divorce." "It is not my part," I replied, "to
institute a comparison between this case and mine. That duty falls to
you, as judge. Take your seat again, therefore, and pronounce your
judicial sentence on the case."

The president became pale and red by turns, while the rest of the judges
looked at one another. At last the presiding judge became furious, began
to call me names, pronounced me a damnable heretic, and cursed me in the
name of the Lord. I left him to storm, however, and went away. Thus
ended this strange suit, and things remained as they were before.

My wife now saw that nothing was to be done by means of force, and
therefore she took to entreaty. I also yielded at last, but only on the
condition, that at the judicial divorce the judge, who had shown himself
such a master of cursing, should not preside in the court. After the
divorce my wife returned to Poland with my son. I remained some time
still in Breslau; but as my circumstances became worse and worse, I
resolved to return to Berlin.[60]


Fourth Journey to Berlin--Unfortunate Circumstances--Help--Study of
Kant's Writings--Characteristic of my own Works.

When I came to Berlin, Mendelssohn was no longer in life,[61] and my
former friends were determined to know nothing more of me. I did not
know therefore what to do. In the greatest distress I received a visit
from Herr Bendavid, who told me that he had heard of my unfortunate
circumstances, and had collected a small sum of about thirty thalers,
which he gave to me. Besides, he introduced me to a Herr Jojard, an
enlightened and high-minded man, who received me in a very friendly
manner, and made some provision for my support. A certain professor,
indeed, tried to do me an ill turn with this worthy man by denouncing me
as an atheist; but in spite of this I gradually got on so well, that I
was able to hire a lodging in a garret from an old woman.

I had now resolved to study Kant's _Kritik of Pure Reason_, of which I
had often heard but which I had never seen yet.[62] The method, in which
I studied this work, was quite peculiar. On the first perusal I
obtained a vague idea of each section. This I endeavoured afterwards to
make distinct by my own reflection, and thus to penetrate into the
author's meaning. Such is properly the process which is called _thinking
oneself into a system_. But as I had already mastered in this way the
systems of Spinoza, Hume and Leibnitz, I was naturally led to think of a
coalition-system. This in fact I found, and I put it gradually in
writing in the form of explanatory observations on the _Kritik of Pure
Reason_, just as this system unfolded itself to my mind. Such was the
origin of my _Transcendental Philosophy_. Consequently this book must be
difficult to understand for the man who, owing to the inflexible
character of his thinking, has made himself at home merely in one of
these systems without regard to any other. Here the important problem,
_Quid juris?_ with the solution of which the _Kritik_ is occupied, is
wrought out in a much wider sense than that in which it is taken by
Kant; and by this means there is plenty of scope left for Hume's
scepticism in its full force. But on the other side the complete
solution of this problem leads either to Spinozistic or to Leibnitzian

When I had finished this work, I showed it to Marcus Herz.[63] He
acknowledged that he was reckoned among the most eminent disciples of
Kant, and that he had given the most assiduous application while
attending Kant's philosophical lectures, as may indeed be seen from his
writings, but that yet he was not in a position to pass a judgment on
the _Kritik_ itself or on any other work relating to it. He advised me,
however, to send my manuscript directly to Kant himself, and submit it
to his judgment, while he promised to accompany it with a letter to the
great philosopher. Accordingly I wrote to Kant, sending him my work, and
enclosing the letter from Herz. A good while passed, however, before an
answer came. At length Herz received a reply, in which, among other
things, Kant said:--

"But what were you thinking about, my dear friend, when you sent me a
big packet containing the most subtle researches, not only to read
through, but to think out thoroughly, while I am still, in my
sixty-sixth year, burdened with a vast amount of labour in completion of
my plan! Part of this labour is to furnish the last part of the
_Kritik_,--that, namely, on the Faculty of Judgment,--which is soon to
appear; part is to work out my system of the Metaphysic of Nature, as
well as the Metaphysic of Ethics, in accordance with the requirements of
the _Kritik_. Moreover, I am kept incessantly busy with a multitude of
letters requiring special explanations on particular points; and, in
addition to all this, my health is frail. I had already made up my mind
to send back the manuscript with an excuse so well justified on all
these grounds; but a glance at it soon enabled me to recognise its
merits, and to show, not only that none of my opponents had understood
me and the main problem so well, but that very few could claim so much
penetration as Herr Maimon in profound inquiries of this sort. This
induced me...," and so on.

In another passage of the letter Kant says:--"Herr Maimon's work
contains moreover so many acute observations, that he cannot give it to
the public without its producing an impression strongly in his favour."
In a letter to myself he said:--"Your esteemed request I have
endeavoured to comply with as far as was possible for me; and if I have
not gone the length of passing a judgment on the whole of your treatise,
you will gather the reason from my letter to Herr Herz. Certainly it
arises from no feeling of disparagement, which I entertain for no
earnest effort in rational inquiries that interest mankind, and least of
all for such an effort as yours, which, in point of fact, betrays no
common talent for the profounder sciences."

It may easily be imagined how important and agreeable to me the
approbation of this great thinker must have been, and especially his
testimony that I had understood him well. For there are some arrogant
Kantians, who believe themselves to be sole proprietors of the Critical
Philosophy, and therefore dispose of every objection, even though
intended, not exactly as a refutation, but as a fuller elaboration of
this philosophy, by the mere assertion without proof, that the author
has failed to understand Kant. Now these gentlemen were no longer in a
position to bring this charge against my book, inasmuch as, by the
testimony of the founder himself of the Critical Philosophy, I have a
better right than they to make use of this argument.

At this time I was living in Potsdam with a gentleman who was a
leather-manufacturer. When Kant's letters arrived, I went to Berlin, and
devoted my time to the publication of my _Transcendental Philosophy_. As
a native of Poland I dedicated this work to the king, and carried a copy
to the Polish Resident; but it was never sent, and I was put off from
time to time with various excuses. _Sapienti sat!_

A copy of the work was also sent, as is usually done, to the editor of
the _Allgemeine Litteraturzeitung_. After waiting a good while without
any notice appearing, I wrote to the editor, and received the following
answer:--"You know yourself how small is the number of those who are
competent to understand and judge philosophical works. Three of the best
speculative thinkers have declined to undertake the review of your book,
because they are unable to penetrate into the depths of your researches.
An application has been made to a fourth, from whom a favourable reply
was expected; but a review from him has not yet been received."

I also began to work at this time for the _Journal für Aufklärung_. My
first article was on _Truth_, and was in the form of a letter to a
friend[64] in Berlin. The article was occasioned by a letter which I had
received from this friend during my stay in Potsdam, and in which he
wrote to me in a humorous vein, that philosophy was no longer a
marketable commodity, and that therefore I ought to take advantage of
the opportunity which I was enjoying to learn tanning. I replied, that
philosophy is not a coinage subject to the vicissitudes of the exchange;
and this proposition I afterwards developed in my article. Another
article in the same periodical was on _Tropes_, in which I show that
these imply the transference of a word not from one object to another
that is analogous, but from a relative to its correlate. I wrote also an
article on _Bacon and Kant_, in which I institute a comparison between
these two reformers of philosophy. _The Soul of the World_ was the
subject of another discussion in this journal, in which I endeavoured to
make out, that the doctrine of one universal soul common to all animated
beings has not only as much in its favour as the opposite doctrine, but
that the arguments for it outweigh those on the other side. My last
article in the journal referred to the plan of my _Transcendental
Philosophy_; and I explain in it that, while I hold the Kantian
philosophy to be irrefutable from the side of the Dogmatist, on the
other hand I believe that it is exposed to all attacks from the side of
the Scepticism of Hume.

A number of young Jews from all parts of Germany had, during
Mendelssohn's lifetime, united to form a society under the designation,
Society _for Research into the Hebrew Language_. They observed with
truth, that the evil condition of our people, morally as well as
politically, has its source in their religious prejudices, in their want
of a rational exposition of the Holy Scriptures, and in the arbitrary
exposition to which the rabbis are led by their ignorance of the Hebrew
language. Accordingly the object of their society was to remove these
deficiencies, to study the Hebrew language in its sources, and by that
means to introduce a rational exegesis. For this purpose they resolved
to publish a monthly periodical in Hebrew under the title of [Hebrew:**
], _The Collector_, which was to give expositions of difficult passages
in Scripture, Hebrew poems, prose essays, translations from useful
works, etc.

The intention of all this was certainly good; but that the end would
scarcely be reached by any such means, I saw from the very beginning. I
was too familiar with the principles of the rabbis and their style of
thought to believe that such means would bring about any change. The
Jewish nation is, without reference to accidental modifications, a
perpetual aristocracy under the appearance of a theocracy. The learned
men, who form the nobility in the nation, have been able, for many
centuries, to maintain their position as the legislative body with so
much authority among the common people, that they can do with them
whatever they please. This high authority is a natural tribute which
weakness owes to strength. For since the nation is divided into such
unequal classes as the common people and the learned, and since the
former, owing to the unfortunate political condition of the nation, are
profoundly ignorant, not only of all useful arts and sciences, but even
of the laws of their religion, on which their eternal welfare is
supposed to depend, it follows that the exposition of Scripture, the
deduction of religious laws from it, and the application of these to
particular cases, must be surrendered wholly to the learned class which
the other undertakes the cost of maintaining. The learned class seek to
make up for their want of linguistic science and rational exegetics by
their own ingenuity, wit and acuteness. To form an idea of the degree in
which these talents are displayed, it is necessary to read the Talmud
along with the commentary called _Tosaphoth_, that is, the additions to
the first commentary of Rabbi Solomon Isaac.[65]

The productions of the mind are valued by them, not in proportion to
their utility, but in proportion to the talent which they imply. A man
who understands Hebrew, who is well versed in the Holy Scriptures, who
even carries in his head the whole of the Jewish _Corpus Juris_,--and
that is no trifle,--is by them but slightly esteemed. The greatest
praise that they give to such a man is _Chamor Nose Sepharim_, that is,
_An ass loaded with books_. But if a man is able, by his own ingenuity,
to deduce new laws from those already known, to draw fine distinctions,
and to detect hidden contradictions, he is almost idolised. And to tell
the truth, this judgment is well founded, so far as it concerns the
treatment of subjects that have no ulterior end in view.

It may therefore be easily imagined, that people of this sort will
scarcely accord a hearing to an institute which aims merely at the
cultivation of taste, the study of language, or any similar object,
which to them appears mere trifling. Yet these are not the few educated
men, scattered here and there,--the steersmen of this ship which is
driven about in all seas. All men of enlightened minds, it does not
matter how much taste or knowledge they possess, are treated by them as
imbeciles. And why? Simply because they have not studied the Talmud to
that extent, and in the manner, which they require. Mendelssohn was in
some measure esteemed by them on this account, because in point of fact
he was a good Talmudist.

I was therefore neither for, nor against, this monthly periodical; I
even contributed to it at times Hebrew articles. Among these I will
mention merely one,--an exposition of an obscure passage in the
commentary of Maimonides on the Mishnah, which I interpreted by the
Kantian philosophy. The article was afterwards translated into German,
and inserted in the _Berlinische Monatsschrift_.

Some time after this I received from this society, which now calls
itself the _Society for the Promotion of all that is Noble and Good_, a
commission to write a Hebrew commentary on the celebrated work of
Maimonides, _Moreh Nebhochim_. This commission I undertook with
pleasure, and the work was soon done. So far, however, only a part of
the commentary has as yet appeared. The preface to the work may be
considered as a brief history of philosophy.

I had been an adherent of all philosophical systems in succession,
Peripatetic, Spinozist, Leibnitzian, Kantian, and finally Sceptic; and I
was always devoted to that system, which for the time I regarded as
alone true. At last I observed that all these systems contain something
true, and are in certain respects equally useful. But, as the difference
of philosophical systems depends on the ideas which lie at their
foundation in regard to the objects of nature, their properties and
modifications, which cannot, like the ideas of mathematics, be defined
in the same way by all men, and presented _a priori_, I determined to
publish for my own use, as well as for the advantage of others, a
philosophical dictionary, in which all philosophical ideas should be
defined in a somewhat free method, that is, without attachment to any
particular system, but either by an explanation common to all, or by
several explanations from the point of view of each. Of this work also
only the first part has as yet appeared.

In the popular German monthly already mentioned, the _Berlinische
Monatsschrift_, various articles of mine were inserted, on Deceit, on
the Power of Foreseeing, on Theodicy, and other subjects. On Empirical
Psychology also I contributed various articles, and at last became
associated with Herr Hofrath Moritz in the editorship of the

So much with regard to the events which have occurred in my life, and
the communication of which, I thought, might be not without use. I have
not yet reached the haven of rest; but--

      "Quo fata trahunt retrahuntque sequamur."


The closing words of the Autobiography themselves awaken the desire to
know the sequel of the author's life, and it seems therefore appropriate
to finish the narrative by the sketch of a few facts derived mainly from
the little volume of _Maimoniana_, to which reference has been made in
the preface.

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to state that Maimon's life to the very
end continued to retain the stamp it bore throughout the whole period
described in the preceding chapters. That stamp had apparently been
impressed on it even before he left Poland; and the Western influences,
under which he came in Germany, never altered essentially the character
he brought with him from home.

Even in its external features his life enjoyed no permanent improvement.
Fate had indeed been somewhat hard upon a man of so much genuine culture
and sensibility. Still the chronic poverty, which filled the largest cup
of suffering in his life, was due not wholly to circumstances: it was
partly his own nature or habits that kept him a pauper. This is all the
more remarkable, that there is perhaps no work of moral or religious
instruction which attaches more importance than the Talmud to industrial
pursuits.[67] Saturated as his mind was with Talmudic lore, and
disciplined as his early years had been by Talmudic training, Maimon
could not be ignorant of the advantage which the spiritual life derives
from financial independence on others; and it might therefore have been
expected of him that, like many of the great rabbis, and Spinoza and
Mendelssohn too, he would have devoted himself to some remunerative
occupation, however humble. This would not have been impossible even in
Poland, where the Jews were subject to no disability excluding them from
the common industries of the country; and from the Autobiography it
appears that, even at an early period of his life, he was more than half
aware that his poverty was due, not wholly to the imperious demands of a
higher culture, but to a somewhat selfish indolence.[68] In Germany,
with its more advanced civilisation, it would have been much less
difficult for him to make a tolerable living at some employment. The
Autobiography shows that he was very generously received by a large
circle of influential friends, who took a great deal of pains to secure
for him a position of independence, and that they abandoned their effort
only when they found it in vain. From the _Maimoniana_ also it appears
that some of the most eminent men of his time continued to tender their
friendly services. Among others, Plattner, Schultze (Aenesidemus), and
even Goethe, made advances towards Maimon in a way that was not only
very flattering, but might have been very helpful, if he had so
chosen.[69] But he never got rid of the habit, which he had acquired in
Poland, of depending on others; and the low standard of comfort, to
which he had accustomed himself, left him without sufficient stimulus to
seek an escape from his pauperised condition.

His condition, therefore, never improved. He continued during his later
years to work at various literary employments; but the remuneration he
obtained for these was never sufficient for his subsistence. His works
appealed to a very limited public. He had consequently often to go
a-begging for a publisher, and to content himself with what slight
honorarium the reluctant publishers chose to give.[70] The literary
hack-work, of which he was obliged to do a good deal, brought him no
better return. That sort of labour was probably as poorly paid in Berlin
at the time as in the Grub Street of last century. He was therefore at
times reduced to utter beggary. Many of his earlier friends, as appears
from the Autobiography, had lost patience with him; and some, who had
helped him before, when he was forced by sheer starvation to apply to
them afterwards, treated him as a common beggar, dismissing him with a
copper in charity (_Zehrpfennig_), and at times with unnecessarily cold,
even insulting language.[71] If we add to this the fact, that his
irregular habits often made him the victim of unscrupulous men,[72] it
will not seem surprising that he sometimes fell into a bitter tone and
harsh judgments about his friends,[73] or that he was apt occasionally
to burst out into pretty strong language of general misanthropy.[74]

Perhaps Maimon might have risen out of the chronic destitution, to which
he seemed doomed, if he had cultivated in any degree the virtue of
thrift. But thriftlessness, as the Autobiography shows, had been an
hereditary vice in his family, at least for two generations before him;
and though he gives vivid pictures of its pitiable results in the
households of his grandfather and father, he never made any effort to
rise above it himself. Whenever he obtained any remuneration for his
work, instead of husbanding it economically till he obtained more, he
usually squandered it at once in extravagancies, often of a useless,
sometimes of a reprehensible kind.[75] He points out in his first
chapter, that his grandfather might have been a rich man if he had kept
accounts of income and expenditure. But his friend Wolff, has to confess
that, good mathematician as Maimon was, he never seemed to think of the
difference between _plus_ and _minus_ in money-matters.[76] With such a
character one of Maimon's friends was not far from the truth, when on a
fresh application for assistance, he dismissed him, too harshly perhaps,
with the blunt remark, "People like you there is no use in trying to
help."[77] Certainly help was not to be found in Maimon himself, and it
is difficult to see how he could have avoided the chance of a miserable
death by actual starvation, had it not been that a generous home was at
last opened to him, where he closed his days in comfort and peace.

A character like that of Maimon implied a general irregularity of
life,--an absence of that regulation by fixed rules of conduct, which is
essential to wellbeing. He was not indeed unaware of the importance of
such regularity. "I require of every man of sound mind," he said one
day, "that he should lay out for himself a plan of action." No wonder
that this requirement leads his friend to remark, that it seemed to him
as if Maimon's only plan of life had been to live without any plan at

The irregularity of his habits is strikingly seen in his want of method
even at his literary work. Notwithstanding the technical culture he gave
himself in early life in drawing, he seems never to have reached any
degree of muscular expertness. Wolff remarked his awkwardness in
handling his pen, and his inability to fold a letter with tolerable
neatness.[79] In other respects also he was careless about those
mechanical conveniences by which mental work is usually facilitated. He
was commonly to be seen working at a very unsteady desk, one leg of
which was supported by a folio volume.[80] He did not even confine
himself to any particular place for work. Apparently he spent more of
his day in public taverns than in his private lodging, and he might
often be seen amid the distraction of such surroundings writing or
revising proofs, while, as a consequence, his papers sometimes were
mislaid and lost, and his work had all to be done over again. It was
said of the Autobiography itself that it had been written on an alehouse
bench.[81] He could never understand how any man could do intellectual
work by rule; and therefore, though he had to make his living as best he
could by literature, he never formed the habit of reserving one part of
the day for work. He commonly worked in the morning, at least in _his_
morning, and that, his friend acknowledges, was not very early;[82] but
this itself was evidently no fixed rule. Probably for the same reason he
never adopted the plan, which authors find so serviceable, of first
sketching an outline of a work before it is written out in detail. "I
have," he said one day, "given up, with good result, the habit of making
a draught beforehand. You are not, by a long way, so careful about your
work when you know that you are going to write it over again; you
neglect many a thought, do not write it down, because you believe that
it will occur to you again in copying out, which frequently does not
happen."[83] It is clear, however, that, his opinion to the contrary
notwithstanding, his writings suffered from his unmethodical habits.
"The fact," says the most competent of judges on this subject, "that
Maimon is far from having attained the recognition which his importance
deserves, may be accounted for by the defective condition of his
writings. His extraordinary acuteness was designed, but was not
sufficiently cultivated, to give to his investigations the light and the
force of methodical exposition. He wrote with most pleasure in his
Talmudic fashion, commenting and disputing, without proper sifting and
arrangement of his materials. To these defects must be added the faults
of his style. It is surprising that he learned to write German as he
did. In his writings there are passages in which the thought bursts out
with really resplendent power, and actually forces the language, even
plays with it, in turns of expression that take you by surprise. But a
German author he never became; and as a philosophical author he wanted a
certain sense of order that is indispensable for exposition. He can
sometimes formulate very well, but cannot systematise, and hence his
most important opinions, in which the whole meaning of his position
rests, are often in the course of his writings found in passages the
least lucid and the least prominent."[84]

It is perhaps only saying the same thing of Maimon in another form, that
he had no mechanical memory, that consequently he was apt to forget the
names of persons and of places, sometimes could not remember the name of
the street where he lived, or the day or even the month; and it is not
therefore surprising that he often injured himself by neglecting all
sort of engagements.[85] It may be readily inferred that he was
particularly negligent about all engagements and regulations bearing
upon the mere externals of life. That a man of his condition and
character must have been unusually careless about his personal
appearance, follows as a matter of course, and therefore we may pass
over the references of Wolff to peculiarities of Maimon's dress. He was
usually to be seen out of doors clad in an overcoat which had evidently
not been made for himself, and which, we may suspect, was intended as a
convenient covering for the defects of under-garments, his boots bearing
the weather-stains of many days, and his beard often showing that for a
good while he had forgotten his engagement with his barber. In the
latter years of his life he abandoned the use of a wig, as well as of
powder in his hair, at a time when these changes must have been regarded
as rather daring innovations on prevalent fashion. But in all his
surroundings he showed what, for a man of his intellectual attainments,
seems a most astonishing disregard of sanitary cleanliness and the
comfortable decencies of life. The state of his lodging must have raised
a shudder in any one sensitive to disorder or uncleanliness. He
acknowledged that he was constantly at war with the housemaid on this
subject, as he could never bear to have his room swept and dusted, and
he complained of the perpetual annoyance to which he was exposed in
Amsterdam from the excessive scruples of the people in regard to
tidiness.[86] It may fairly be suspected that the annoyance was
considerably greater, as it was more justifiable, on the other side. His
habits in this respect clung to him to the last, and it was evidently
difficult to keep his surroundings tolerable even in the comparatively
sumptuous home in which he closed his days.

The frank confessions of the Autobiography reveal the fact, that the
irregularity, which characterised the life of Maimon, sometimes led to a
breach of the weightier matters of the law. The habit, which he began in
Poland, of seeking relief from external discomfort and internal
wretchedness in alcoholic stimulation, grew upon him afterwards; and as
his health began to fail, he used to treat his various complaints by a
liberal allowance of various wines and beers which he supposed adapted
to their cure.[87] The liberal allowance was very apt, especially in the
evenings, to exceed all reasonable moderation; and the sleepy
inhabitants of Berlin were not infrequently disturbed by the half-tipsy
philosopher, as he wended his way unsteadily homewards at unseasonable
hours, discoursing on all sorts of speculative themes in disagreeably
loud tones that were occasionally interrupted by the expostulations of a

The peculiarly undisciplined manners of Maimon were occasionally shown
in violent outbursts of various feelings. Too frequently it was an
irritable temper that gave way. The slightest provocation, even the loss
of a game at chess,[89] was apt to cause a painful explosion; and then
his language was certainly far from being restrained by those usages
which are found essential to the pleasantness of social intercourse.[90]
The uncontrollable violence of these outbursts was amusingly exhibited
in the fact, that sometimes he could not command the intellectual calm
requisite for thinking and expressing himself in his acquired German,
and, even though it might be a Gentile with whom he quarrelled, he fell
back on his Judæo-Polish mother tongue, which came to him as if by
natural instinct.[91] It is but fair, however, to add that these
outbursts were often merely the unusually forcible, but not altogether
unjustifiable, utterances of an honest indignation at wrong.[92]

For this strangely educated man, who in his outward manners seemed to
remain a somewhat rude child of nature, was after all ready to yield,
not only to an unkindly irritability, but also to the more genial
emotions. It is pleasing, for example, to know that he had a particular
fondness for animals; and his pets were allowed in his lodging liberties
which, however objectionable to a tidy housemaid, showed at least the
essential gentleness of his heart. Tutored as he was himself in the
severest school of poverty, it is also pleasing to know that he
cherished a kindly sympathy for the poor, and was ever ready to help
them as he could, sometimes at the cost of no small sacrifice to
himself.[93] The finer sensibilities of his nature were also easily
touched by music. Though he had no musical culture, and used to regret
that he had had none, an old Hebrew melody, long after he had broken off
all connection with the Jews, could move him so deeply that he was
obliged, even in company, to seek relief in tears.[94] For in the
uncontrolled simplicity of his nature he allowed his feelings to find
their natural vent without much restraint from circumstances; and
therefore he was seen at times in the theatre excited to loud sobbing by
a tragedy, or to boisterous laughter over a comedy.[95]

Nor is it to be regarded as an unpleasant feature of his character, but
rather as an indication of a wholesome check on the general irregularity
of his life, that, even after he had thrown off all the peculiar
restraints of his national religion, he clung with evident fondness to
many of those rabbinical habits which he had cultivated in his earlier
years. From Fischer's account of the style of Maimon's works we have
seen how his intellectual work was affected by his Talmudic studies. The
criticism is evidently just. Maimon himself had met with it, and
acknowledged its justice. He protested indeed that it did not affect the
truth of his speculations, though he evidently felt its disadvantages,
and laboured at times to acquire a more methodical style.[96]

The rabbinical habits of Maimon, however, were most quaintly seen in
peculiarities of outward manner. Gesticulations customary in the study
of the Talmud he was seen to adopt not infrequently when he forgot
himself in the earnestness of conversation, or when in a company he fell
into a brown study, or even in the studies of his retirement. Thus in
reading Euler's mathematical works or any other book which required
great attention, he would fall into the Talmudic singsong and rhythmical
swing of the body.[97]

It is noteworthy also, that, with all the unrestrained rudeness which
often characterised his manners, Maimon was not without a certain
dignified courtesy; and when the occasion demanded it, he could turn a
polite phrase as prettily as the most accomplished gentleman.[98] There
was, moreover, in Maimon an intrinsic shyness which must have gone a
long way to soften the less amiable side of his social character.[99]
Then it is evident that his conversation, in his better moods at least,
had a charm which made him a welcome guest in any company. Thus, amid
all that may have been repulsive at times, there must have been in
Maimon's character a good deal to attract the friendly companionship of
others. The Autobiography itself, as well as Wolff's little book, shows
that Maimon enjoyed as much as he desired of the cultured society of his
time. Being naturally shy, indeed, he rather shrank from company in
which intercourse is regulated by a somewhat rigid social code; and the
desire of freedom from such restriction often drove him into company of
a much more objectionable kind. He also seems to have entertained a
strong dislike to any excessively demonstrative affection. He himself
was rather curt in his expressions of courtesy or friendliness towards
others, contenting himself generally, on meeting them, with a familiar
nod. The lifting of the hat appeared to him meaningless, and a
deliberate embrace "in cold blood" was intolerable.[100] Yet in many
instances the attachment of his friends was marked with an unusual
degree of warmth, and brought many an hour of sunshine to a life which
otherwise would have been shadowed with insufferable gloom.

Among all Maimon's friends, the most conspicuous place must be given to
the man by whose generous hospitality he was able to close his
chequered life amid the comforts of a luxurious home. While he was
living in a miserable lodging in one of the suburbs of Berlin, he
learned from one of his friends that a Silesian nobleman, Graf
Kalkreuth, who had formed a high opinion of his writings, was anxious to
make his personal acquaintance. After a good deal of delay, Maimon was
at last induced to call upon the Graf at his residence in Berlin.
Fortunately he was very favourably impressed with the character of his
noble friend; and the friendship thus begun led before long to his
taking up his abode permanently with the Graf.[101] The generous
consideration which the host displayed for all the eccentricities of his
guest, made this arrangement one of the happiest for the poor
philosopher, who since his childhood had seldom enjoyed the comforts of
a home.

But it is evident that the hardships of his life had at an early period
begun to tell upon his constitution, and that this was further shattered
by irregular habits in his later years. Symptoms of serious trouble in
the lungs excited his alarm in the winter of 1795, and he was induced to
seek medical advice. Partly from an unwise scepticism in regard to
medicine, partly from his usual failure to adhere to any fixed rule in
his conduct, the services of his physicians commonly ended with the
consultation; he seldom or never acted on their advice.[102] He lived
in indifferent health for five or six years more. When his last illness
overtook him, he was living in the house of Graf Kalkreuth at
Siegersdorf near Freistadt, in Lower Silesia. The only account of him at
this crisis was written by the pastor of Freistadt, for a monthly
periodical of the time, entitled _Kronos_. It forms the close of Wolff's
little book; and as it is the only account, it may be of some interest
here. The pastor, Herr Tscheggey, had made the acquaintance of Maimon
about the year 1795; but their intercourse had become much closer about
six weeks before Maimon's death, when he used to visit the pastor two or
three times a week. On hearing that Maimon had been confined for some
days, the good pastor at once went to see him. He found him in a state
of great weakness, unable to leave his room, and besought him earnestly,
but in vain, to take medical advice. A few days afterwards he called
again, and saw that evidently the end was drawing nigh. Curious to know
whether Maimon in this situation would remain true to his principles, he
gave the following turn to the conversation, which he professes to
report word for word.

"I am sorry to find you so ill to-day, dear Maimon," said the pastor.

"There will perhaps be some improvement yet," replied Maimon.

"You look so ill," his friend proceeded, "that I am doubtful about your

"What matters it after all?" said Maimon. "When I am dead, I am gone."

"Can you say that, dear friend," rejoined the clergyman, with deep
emotion. "How? Your mind, which amid the most unfavourable circumstances
ever soared to higher attainments, which bore such fair flowers and
fruits--shall it be trodden in the dust along with the poor covering in
which it has been clothed? Do you not feel at this moment that there is
something in you which is not body, not matter, not subject to the
conditions of space and time?"

"Ah!" replied Maimon, "these are beautiful dreams and hopes"----

"Which will surely be fulfilled," his friend broke in; and then, after a
short pause, added, "You maintained not long ago that here we cannot
reach further than to mere _legality_. Let this be admitted; and now
perhaps you are about to pass over soon into a condition, in which you
will rise to the stage of _morality_, since you and all of us have a
natural capacity for it. Why? Should you not wish now to come into the
society of one whom you honoured so much as Mendelssohn?"

The zealous pastor says he gave the conversation this turn on purpose,
in order to touch this side of the philosopher's heart. After a while
the dying man exclaimed, "Ay me! I have been a foolish man, the most
foolish among the most foolish--and how earnestly I wished it

"This utterance," observed the pastor, "is also a proof that you are not
yet in complete accord with your unbelief. No," he added, taking Maimon
by the hand, "you will not all die; your spirit will surely live on."

"So far as mere faith and hope are concerned, I can go a good way; but
what does that help us?" was Maimon's reply.

"It helps us at least to peace," urged the pastor.

"I am at peace (_Ich bin ruhig_)," said the dying man, completely

Here Tscheggey broke off the conversation, as the sufferer was evidently
unable to continue it. When he rose to leave, Maimon begged him to stay,
or at least to come back again soon. He came back the following morning,
but found the patient unconscious. At ten o'clock on the same
evening--it was the 22nd of November, 1800--this strangely tossed life
had reached its haven.

"He died at peace," says the kindly clergyman, "though I do not venture
to say from what source the peace was derived. When a few days
afterwards I passed the castle of his noble friend, I looked up with
sadness to the window of his former room, and blessed his ashes." It is
to be regretted that the generous piety of the friendly minister was not
universal, and that the ashes of the unfortunate doubter were only with
a grudge allowed to find a decent resting-place.


[1] Vol. iii., p. 370, note.

[2] See the Preface to his _Philosophy of Reflection_, pp. 16-18.

[3] Vol. v., chap. 7.

[4] The volume bears the somewhat quaint title in full:--_Maimoniana,
oder Rhapsodien Zur Charakteristik Salomon Maimon's_. Aus Seinem
Privatleben gesammelt von Sabattia Joseph Wolff, M.D. Berlin, gedruckt
bei G. Hayn, 1813.

[5] The only logical connection is the fact, that the writings of
Maimonides formed the most powerful influence in the intellectual
development of Maimon. In illustration of this he writes:--"My reverence
for this great teacher went so far, that I regarded him as the ideal of
a perfect man, and looked upon his teachings as if they had been
inspired with Divine Wisdom itself. This went so far, that, when my
passions began to grow, and I had sometimes to fear lest they might
seduce me to some action inconsistent with those teachings, I used to
employ, as a proved antidote, the abjuration, 'I swear, by the reverence
which I owe my great teacher, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, not to do this
act.' And this vow, so far as I can remember, was always sufficient to
restrain me." _Lebensgeschichte_, Vol. ii., pp. 3-4.

[6] That is, of course, the seventeenth.--_Trans._

[7] Maimon himself nowhere mentions the date or place of his birth; but
Wolff says that he was born at Nesvij, in Lithuania, about the year 1754
(_Maimoniana, p. 10_). _Trans._

[8] This word is explained below, at the beginning of the next chapter.

[9] The customary Jewish salutation.

[10] The original is "ein Kalamankenes Leibserdak,"--a provincialism
which, I believe, is substantially rendered in this

[11] Till quite recently it had been almost forgotten that one of the
commonest manifestations of fanaticism against the Jews, especially in
Eastern Europe, was to charge them with the murder of Christian children
for the use of some horrid religious rite, and that scarcely ever was
the dead body of a child found in the neighbourhood of a Jewish
community without some outburst of this cruel suspicion, ending in an
indiscriminate massacre of the Jews by the infuriated mob. It is a
singularly creditable proof of the liberal government of Stephen
Batory,--one of the ablest monarchs who ever sat on the throne of
Poland,--that, so long ago as 1576, he issued an edict prohibiting the
imputation of this crime to the Jews, as being utterly inconsistent with
the principles of their religion. Yet, in spite of this enactment, the
fanatical suspicion continued to display itself at frequent intervals.
Milman supposed it had been finally quelled by the ukase of the Russian
Government in 1835, which went in the same direction as the earlier
prohibition of the Polish king (_History of the Jews_, vol. iii., p.
389). What would have been his astonishment, had he lived to learn that,
half a century after he thought it extinguished, this ancient delusion
was to revive, that an Hungarian court was to spend thirty one days in
the solemn trial of a Jewish family on the charge of sacrificing a
Christian girl in their synagogue, that a learned professor in the
Imperial and Royal University of Prague was to write in defence of the
charge, and that the trial was to form the subject of an extensive
controversial literature in the language of the most learned nation in
the world! An interesting account of this famous trial at Tisza Eszlar,
as well as of the literature connected with it, will be found in an
article by Dr. Wright, on _The Jews and the Malicious Charge of Human
Sacrifice_ in the _Nineteenth Century_, for November, 1883.--_Trans._

[12] It seems that Maimon gives a euphemistic explanation of this word,
as I am told its real meaning makes much more intelligible its extreme
offensiveness to his mother.--_Trans._

[13] The original runs: "Der Verstand sucht bloss zu _fassen_, die
Einbildungskraft aber zu _umfassen_."--_Tr._

[14] That is, _The Branch_ (or _Offspring_) _of David_. See Jeremiah
xxiii. 5; xxxiii. 15; Isaiah xi. 1.--_Trans._

[15] The Hebrew word for a globe.

[16] This rabbi belonged to a family of eminent linguists. The father,
Joseph Kimchi, was one of the numerous Jews who were obliged to flee
from Spain to escape the cruel persecutions of the Mohades about the
middle of the twelfth century. He left two sons who both followed his
favourite studies. The elder, Moses, has the credit of having educated
his younger and more illustrious brother, David, whose Hebrew grammar
and dictionary continued in general use among scholars for centuries.
Kimchi is said to have been powerfully influenced, not only by
Maimonides, but also by Aben Esra, who preceded him by nearly a century,
and who was one of the most learned scholars, as well as one of the most
versatile authors, of his time. (Jost's _Geschichte des Judenthums_,
vol. ii., pp. 419-423; and vol. iii, pp. 30-31).--_Trans._

[17] That is, about 100 English miles.--_Trans._

[18] See above, p. 14.--_Trans._

[19] Solomon ben Isaac, as he is more correctly named, or Raschi, as he
is also called, was an eminent Talmudic scholar of Troyes in the latter
half of the eleventh century. It was his son-in-law, Meïr, and the three
sons of Meïr, who may be said to have begun the Tosaphoth, referred to
in the text.--_Trans._

[20] As it was at one time throughout all Christendom, and probably
under every civilisation at a certain stage of its history.--_Trans._

[21] This seems to be Job xxvii. 17, which in our Authorised Version
runs:--"He (a wicked man) may prepare it (raiment), but the just shall
put it on." Maimon seems to render it from memory:--"Der Gottlose
schafft sich an, und der Fromme bekleidet sich damit."--_Trans._

[22] Evidently viii., 12, rendered in our Authorised Version, "Thou, O
Solomon, must have a thousand (pieces of silver), and those that keep
the fruit thereof two hundred." Maimon translates apparently from
memory, "Die tausend Gulden sind für dich, Salomo, und die Zweihundert
für die, die seine Früchte bewahren." In my rendering of this the
pronoun "his" must be understood in its old English latitude as either
neuter or masculine.--_Trans._

[23] The bulk of the gift explains its costliness. "The Babylonian
Talmud is about four times as large as that of Jerusalem. Its thirty-six
treatises now cover, in our editions, printed with the most prominent
commentaries (Rashi and Tosafoth), exactly 2947 folio leaves in twelve
folio volumes." (E. Deutsch's _Literary Remains_, p. 41).--_Trans._

[24] Maimon gives merely the initial "R" of this name; but as he has
already (Chap. i.) told us that his prince was Radzivil, there is not
much mystery in this artifice.--_Trans._

[25] This horror of memory tormented Maimon to the end of his days. "He
dreamed often that he was in Poland again, deprived of all his books;
and Lucius metamorphosed into an ass was not in a more pitiable plight.
'From this agony,' said Maimon, 'I was usually aroused by a loud cry,
and my joy was indescribable on finding that it was only a dream.'"
(_Maimoniana_, p. 94). "He once received a visit from his brother, for
whom he was deeply affected. Poor as he was himself, Maimon kept him a
long while, gave him clothing and everything else that he could, besides
procuring from some friends enough money to pay his travelling expenses.
Above all, he told me, he was affected at letting his brother go back
into the wilderness; and if he had not had a wife and children at home,
he would have tried to keep him beside himself." (_Ibid._, p.

[26] It was probably a reminiscence of this labour of deciphering, that
led to the following outburst of sympathy:--"One day Maimon read in an
English work, that the author had only commenced to learn the ABC when
he was eighteen years of age, and that the first book which fell into
his hands was one of Newton's works. His master (for he was a servant)
came upon him at this task, and asked, 'What are you doing with that?
you can't read?' 'O yes,' he replied, 'I have learnt to read, and I
began with the most difficult subjects.' Maimon read this in my presence
with tears in his eyes." (_Maimoniana_, pp. 230-1).--_Trans._

[27] Both of these Cabbalists belonged to the sixteenth century. The
former, as his name implies, belonged to Cordova in Spain; the latter,
to the German community in Jerusalem (_Jost's Geschichte des
Judenthums_, Vol. iii., pp. 137-140).--_Trans._

[28] Rabbi Meïr’s teacher was Elisha ben Abuyah, "the Faust of the
Talmud," as he has been strikingly styled by Mr. Deutsch. The Talmud
preserves a beautiful story illustrative of the devoted affection which
Meïr continued to cherish for his apostate master. Four men, so runs the
legend, entered _Paradise_; that is, according to Talmudic symbolism,
they entered upon the study of that secret science with its bewildering
labyrinth of speculative dreams, through which it is given only to a few
rare spirits to find their way. Of these four, "one beheld and died, one
beheld and lost his senses, one destroyed the young plants, one only
entered in peace and came out in peace." The destroyer of the young
plants was Elisha ben Abuyah. Once he was passing the ruins of the
temple on the great day of atonement, and heard a voice within "moaning
like a dove,"--"All men shall be forgiven this day save Elisha ben
Abuyah who, knowing me, has betrayed me." After his death flames hovered
incessantly over his grave, until his loving disciple threw himself upon
it and swore an oath of devout self-sacrifice, that he would not partake
of the joys of heaven without his master, nor move from the spot until
his master's soul had found forgiveness before the Throne of Grace. See
Emanuel Deutsch's _Literary Remains_, p. 15; and Jost's _Geshichte des
Judenthums_, Vol. ii., pp. 102-4.

[29] _The Gates of Light._--_Trans._

[30] "Thus saith the Lord" in the English version.--_Trans._

[31] About 150 English miles.--_Trans._

[32] Highpriest about the time of Antiochus the Great, that is, the
first half of the third century before Christ.--_Trans._

[33] Also named below Jehudah Hanassi or Hakades, died probably in 219
or 220 A.D.--_Trans._

[34] _Rabbina_ is a contraction for Rabbi Abina and _Rabassi_ for Rabbi
Ashe. Maimon puts Abina first, but he was the younger of the two. They
both belonged to the fifth century.--_Trans._

[35] This seems to be Psalm cxix., 126, rendered in our Authorised
Version:--"It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void
thy law." See Mendelssohn's _Jerusalem_, Vol. ii., p. iii., (Samuels'

[36] _Charakteristik der Asiatischen Nationen_, Theil ii., pp. 159-160.

[37] "And Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah" in the English Authorised

[38] Here apparently Maimon makes a slip. He seems to forget the passage
he had selected for illustration; and his eye, if not his memory,
glances at the last word in verse 30, instead of verse 22.--_Trans._

[39] Probably Isaiah xxxiii., 6.--_Trans._

[40] Psalm, lxxxi., 9.--_Trans._

[41] In the original, "Das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten."--_Trans._

[42] In the same way a fool, called Chosek, was going to starve the city
of Lemberg, against which he was enraged; and for this purpose he placed
himself behind the wall, in order to blockade the city with his body.
The result of the blockade, however, was that he nearly died of hunger,
while the city knew nothing whatever of a famine.

[43] In our times, when so much is said both _pro_ and _contra_ about
secret societies, I believe that the history of a particular secret
society, in which I was entangled, though but a short time, should not
be passed over in this sketch of my life.

[44] That is, of course, the 17th century.--_Trans._

[45] _Baalshem_ is one who occupies himself with the practical Cabbalah,
that is, with the conjuration of spirits and the writing of amulets, in
which the names of God and of many sorts of spirits are employed.

[46] As I never attained the rank of a superior in this society, the
exposition of their plan cannot be regarded as a fact verified by
experience, but merely as an inference arrived at by reflection. How far
this inference is well founded, can be determined merely by analogy
according to the rules of probability.

[47] The ingenuity of this interpretation consists in the fact, that in
Hebrew נגן  may stand for the infinitive of _play_, as well as
for a _musical instrument_, and that the prefix כ may be
translated either _as_, in the sense of _when_, or _as_, in the sense of
_like_. The superiors of this sect, who _wrenched passages of the Holy
Scriptures from their context_, regarding themselves as merely vehicles
of their teachings, selected accordingly that interpretation of this
passage, which fitted best their principle of _self-annihilation_ before

[48] Maimon in a footnote here refers, by way of a parallel, to the
interpretation by a Catholic theologian of a passage in Ezekiel (xliv.,
1-2) as an allegorical prophecy of the Virgin Mary; but most readers
will probably prefer to leave the exposition of the allegory to the
imagination of those who choose to follow it out.--_Trans._

[49] A trait of these, as of all uncultivated men, is their contempt of
the other sex.

[50] Of this class I became acquainted with one. He was a young man of
twenty-two, of very weak bodily constitution, lean and pale. He
travelled in Poland as a missionary. In his look there was something so
terrible, so commanding, that he ruled men by means of it quite
despotically. Wherever he came he inquired about the constitution of the
congregation, rejected whatever displeased him, and made new regulations
which were punctually followed. The elders of the congregation, for the
most part old respectable men, who far excelled him in learning,
trembled before his face. A great scholar, who would not believe the
infallibility of this superior, was seized with such terror by his
threatening look, that he fell into a violent fever of which he died.
Such extraordinary courage and determination had this man attained
merely through early exercises in Stoicism.

[51] Born 1720; died 1797. See Jost's _Geschichte des Judenthums_, Vol.
iii., pp. 248-250.--_Trans._

[52] _Exodus_, iii., 13, 14.

[53] These names are taken from _Maimoniana_, p. 108.--_Trans._

[54] The method, in which, as before explained, I had learnt to read and
to understand books without any preparatory studies, and to which I had
been driven in Poland by the want of books, grew to such an expertness,
that I felt certain beforehand of being able to understand anything.

[55] Here there seems in the original an evident misprint of
_Vereinigung_ for _Verneinung_.--_Trans._

[56] The incident referred to was the following. Lavater had translated
into German a work, which had a great reputation in its day, by the
eminent Swiss scientific writer, Bonnet, on the evidences of
Christianity. Out of respect for Mendelssohn, Lavater dedicated the
translation to him, requiring him, however, either to refute the work,
or to do "what policy, love of truth, and probity demand,--what Socrates
would doubtless have done, had _he_ read the work, and found it
unanswerable." Mendelssohn was thus placed in an awkward dilemma. He
could not well let the challenge pass unacknowledged; and yet, owing to
the disabilities under which the Jews laboured all over the world, he
would have seriously imperilled their interests by appearing even to
impugn the evidences of Christianity. He had, moreover, resolved never
to enter into religious controversy. Under the circumstances his reply
was masterly as it was dignified and candid. Lavater saw his mistake;
and it is but due to him to say, that he publicly apologised for it in
the fullest and frankest manner.--_Trans._

[57] This "hiatus _haud_ valde deflendus" is in the original.--_Trans._

[58] This name is taken from _Maimoniana_.--_Trans._

[59] The love of life, that is, the instinct of self-preservation, seems
rather to increase than to decrease with the diminution or uncertainty
of the means of living, inasmuch as man is thereby spurred to greater
_activity_, which developes a stronger _consciousness of life_. Only
this want must not have reached its maximum; for the necessary result of
that is _despair_, that is a conviction of the impossibility of
preserving life, and consequently a desire to put an end to it. Thus
every passion, and therefore also the love of life, is increased by the
obstacles which come in the way of its gratification: only these
obstacles must not make the gratification of the passions _impossible_,
else despair is the result.

[60] "Afterwards when he spoke of Poland, he used to be deeply affected
in thinking of his wife, from whom he was obliged to separate. He was
really very much devoted to her, and her fate went home to his very
heart. It was easy when the subject came up in conversation, to read in
his face the deep sorrow which he felt; his liveliness then sensibly
faded away, he became by and by perfectly silent, was usually incapable
of further entertainment, and went earlier than usual home."
_Maimoniana_, p. 177. He seems, however, at a later period, to have at
least spoken to his friends about marrying a second time; but the
project was never carried out. _Ibid._, p. 248.--_Trans._

[61] He died 4th Jan., 1786.--_Trans._

[62] Kant's work must still have been quite new, as it appeared in

[63] The name is left blank by Maimon, but is known to be that which I
have inserted. See Fischer's _Geschichte der neueren Philosophie_, Vol.
v., p. 131.--_Trans._

[64] Samuel Levi, according to _Maimoniana_, p. 78.--_Trans._

[65] See above, p. 41--_Trans._

[66] The last few pages have been condensed from the original; in which
the author gives detailed information, which seems no longer of any
special interest, about the articles he contributed to periodicals.--

[67] By the kindness of my friend, the Rev. Meldola de Sola, of the
Portuguese Synagogue in Montreal, I am enabled to make an interesting
note on this subject. Among the Talmudic passages enjoining industry are
the following:--"Rather skin a carcase for pay in the public streets,
than be idly dependent on charity," "Rather perform the meanest labour
than beg." As a further evidence of the estimation in which labour was
held by the sages of the Talmud, it may be mentioned that Hillel, before
being admitted to the Great College, earned his livelihood as a
wood-cutter; that Rabbi Joshua was a pinmaker; Rabbi Nehemiah Halsador,
a potter; Rabbi Judah, a tailor; Rabbi Joshua Hasandler, a shoemaker;
and Rabbi Judah Hanechtan, a baker. "Of all things," says Mr. Deutsch,
"the most hated were idleness and asceticism; piety and learning
themselves only received their proper estimation when joined to healthy,
bodily work. 'It is well to add a trade to your studies; you will then
be free from sin,' 'The tradesman at his work need not rise before the
greatest doctor,' 'Greater is he who derives his livelihood from work
than he who fears God'--are some of the most common dicta of the
period." (_Literary Remains_, p. 25, where there are some striking
stories in condemnation of asceticism). Mr. Deutsch elsewhere quotes,
"Rather live on your Sabbath as you would on a week day than be
dependent on others," (_Ibid._, p. 30).--_Trans._

[68] See above, pp. 140-1.

[69] _Maimoniana_, pp. 196-200.

[70] _Ibid._, p. 80.

[71] _Ibid._, pp. 80, 83-4.

[72] _Ibid._, p. 95, note.

[73] _Ibid._, pp. 82-3.

[74] _Ibid._, pp. 154, 157.

[75] _Ibid._, pp. 80, 95, 104.

[76] _Ibid._, p. 84.

[77] _Ibid._, p. 105.

[78] _Ibid._, p. 159.

[79] _Ibid._, pp. 231-2.

[80] _Ibid._, p. 96.

[81] _Ibid._, p. 140.

[82] _Ibid._, p. 96.

[83] _Ibid._, p. 97.

[84] Fischer's _Geschichte der neuern Philosophie_, vol. v., pp. 133-4.

[85] _Maimoniana_, pp. 190-6.

[86] _Ibid._, pp. 90-1.

[87] _Ibid._, pp. 183-8.

[88] _Ibid._, pp. 101-4.

[89] _Ibid._, p. 217.

[90] _Ibid._, pp. 109-112, 208, 212-3.

[91] _Ibid._, p. 87.

[92] _Ibid._, p. 213.

[93] _Ibid._, p. 249.

[94] _Ibid._, p. 88.

[95] _Ibid._, p. 230.

[96] _Ibid._, pp. 86-7.

[97] _Ibid._, p. 89.

[98] See, for example, _Ibid._, pp. 112, 115, 209, 250-1.

[99] _Ibid._, p.

[100] _Ibid._, pp. 165-6.

[101] _Ibid._, pp. 201-210.

[102] _Ibid._, pp. 183-8.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Notes on some Books of Special Interest_





_JAMES HEPBURN, Free Church Minister._ By SOPHIE F. F. VEITCH, Author of
"Angus Graeme, Gamekeeper," etc. 2 vols., Crown 8vo., 21s.

"=A strong story of real life and cannot fail to give Miss Veitch a
prominent position among modern novelists.... The whole story is
exceedingly powerful.="--_Saturday Review._

"The work of fiction which heads the list may fairly be described as =a
singularly powerful and fascinating novel=. Description by comparison is
frequently convenient, though occasionally misleading; but we do not
think we shall convey a wrong impression if we say that 'James Hepburn'
bears a strong resemblance to some of the most vigorous and
characteristic of Mrs. Oliphant's realistic Scottish stories.... James
Hepburn is one of the most truly heroic characters in recent fiction,
with a certain largeness and grandeur in his heroism which are
wonderfully impressive, and yet with a homeliness which never permits
him to slip for a moment outside the range of our imaginative belief. In
creating an ideal character of unmistakable flesh and blood, Miss Veitch
has achieved an unequivocal success, and one or two of the pivot
situations in the book are conceived and presented with such dramatic
power and sympathetic insight, that in virtue of them alone 'James
Hepburn' takes place among the most remarkable and admirable of recent
novels.... There are chapters in 'James Hepburn' of which we feel
convinced that the author of _Scenes of Clerical Life_ would not have
been ashamed.... Such a novel is not only a book to admire, but one for
which to be grateful."--_The Spectator._

"='James Hepburn' is a novel in two volumes, which is quite startling in
the freshness and beauty of its conception.... This book deserves
careful reading; there is much more in it than the mere interest of a
clever story, and only good can result from its influence.="--_Literary

The author of 'Angus Graeme, Gamekeeper,' has produced another Scottish
novel of remarkable power. 'James Hepburn, Free Church Minister,' is at
once a striking character study, a skilful picture of the social life of
a country town and district, and a powerful sensational story. It is in
the first of these aspects that it displays most original vigour.... It
must be admitted to be one of the strongest productions of the fictional
art that have recently appeared."--_Scotsman._

"There can be no question that 'James Hepburn' is the most notable
Scottish story that will be issued in the jubilee year."--_The Christian

"And of this tendency towards pure character-painting and everyday
incident Miss Sophie Veitch promises to be the best exponent. In the two
volumes which contain the story of episodes in the life of James
Hepburn, each character is carefully studied and presented as a finished
masterpiece.... The book is a drama palpitating with intense and real
life, whose author should have a grand professional future."--_Whitehall

"The book deserves the highest praise. Hepburn's relations with Lady
Ellinor--his pure and noble love for her--are fitly crowned by his
splendid self-sacrifice.... The descriptive part of this fine and often
brilliant novel is admirably done."--_London Figaro._

"No one who begins this story will pause till he has seen the hero
through his troubles, and we are sure no one who has done so will think
he has spent his time badly."--_The British Weekly._

_James Hepburn_ is a story of very unusual power, promise, and
desert.... The story of Lady Elinor is exceedingly pathetic; and all her
moods, as she gradually progresses along a path of peril, are described
with a hand at once sure and delicate.--_Academy._

Seldom do we meet with a novel by a comparatively unknown author which
can afford such unalloyed pleasure.... It is not every writer who can,
like Mrs. Oliphant, throw a glamour over the sordid details of
_bourgeois_ life. Amongst the few who can do so Miss Veitch may now
claim to rank; her novel is a remarkable one, and if it does not attain
to considerable popularity the fault will not be with the author....
There is intense pathos in the loyal struggle of the beautiful young
wife who believes herself to be unsympathised with.... We had marked
more than one passage for quotation, but space warns us that the
pleasure must be forgone. We must, however, draw special attention to
Lady Ellinor's withering summary of Radicalism (vol. ii. p. 242). The
novel is one of the very few that follows Mr. Weller's recipe, and makes
us "wish that there was more of it."--_Pictorial World._

"A SUCCESSFUL SCOTCH NOVEL.--It is long since a Scottish novel met with
such a demand or created such a genuine sensation as has attended the
publication of 'James Hepburn, Free Church Minister,' which was issued a
few weeks ago by Mr. Gardner, of Paisley, and which we noticed in the
week of its publication. We hear that already Mr. Mudie has ordered four
separate supplies, the latest being for a large number of copies, so
great is the demand for the story on the part of the subscribers to his
library. Miss Sophie Veitch, the authoress, had already made her mark by
her fine novel of 'Angus Graeme, Gamekeeper.'"--_Daily Mail._

"'James Hepburn,' by Miss Veitch, is a _clever and strong_ novel.... Its
power and literary skill are undeniable."--_World._

"Novel-readers who may think there is not much promise of entertainment
in the title which Sophie F. Veitch has chosen for her new story, will
commit the common blunder of forming an erroneous judgment from
superficial appearances. A more interesting or vigorously-written tale
we have not met with for some time back."--_The Scottish Leader._

"A cleverly written story here includes both interesting incident and
well-drawn character."--_The Queen._

Ready, Price 25s.; Large Paper, 42s.

"The work, taken as a whole, entitles Mr. Donaldson to the gratitude of
all interested in the study of philology, for having performed so
thoroughly and so well a difficult and laborious task."--_Scotsman._

"The soundness of the judgment which he has applied to this portion of
his herculean task is only equalled by the fulness of his knowledge of
those works which cover the whole period of Scottish history, during
which the vernacular was written and spoken by all classes of society. A
very large number of the words in the Supplement are recorded by Mr.
Donaldson for the first time, at least as Scottish words, and of many of
them the explanation will be found nowhere else.... Of Mr. Donaldson's
work, it may safely be said that it is the most complete and scholarly
endeavour that has thus far been made to accomplish a very difficult

"On every page we find evidence that Mr. Donaldson has mastered all the
works that cover the entire period of Scottish history during which the
vernacular was written and spoken by all classes of society. He has,
furthermore, utilised an extensive personal knowledge derived from the
living speech of the people; and alike in the definitions and
illustrations he displays unfailing soundness of judgment, shown
sometimes as much in what he has omitted as in that which is given. An
excellent memoir of Dr. Jamieson, admirable both for the fullness of its
information and the generous warmth of its spirit, adds to the value of
a work without which, we may safely affirm, no Scottish library can
henceforth be regarded as complete."--_Leader._

_IDYLL OF THE CAPTIVE KING; and Other Pieces._ With Etchings. By JAMES
SHARP. Crown 8vo, cloth, 6s.

"The author gives undoubted evidence of his right to be heard, and our
perusal of this volume enables us to commend his wide reading and
knowledge of the world, both in its physical and ethical aspects. It is
needless to add that Mr. Gardner has done his part admirably."--_The
Kelso Chronicle._

"Whether Mr. Sharp's poetry be regarded in the abstract, or as the
product of the hours of leisure of a man of business, much of it is
commendable, and much is genuine and sound in feeling."--_The Scottish

Mr. James Sharp does not miss the occasion in his volume of poems, _The
Captive King_ (Alexander Gardner). His Jubilee Ode, like those of
better-known bards, scarcely represents his poetic powers, as the
following couplet may show:--

      Much as we love the Prince of Wales, the Princess fair, serene,
      We want no other sovereign! We want no other Queen!

"Tullibardine's Bride," though a little diffuse, is a readable narrative
poem based on a Perthshire legend. In other lyrical pieces Mr. Sharp
sustains a patriotic vein with fervour.--_Saturday Review._

Mr. Sharp's lyrics and shorter pieces, are always pleasing in sentiment,
and are often sweet in expression.--_Scotsman._

The book of poems which we introduce to our readers to-day has, we
think, amply justified its issue in the beautiful form in which it is
presented to the public.... This delightful book will do something to
modify that conception, and to show that mercantile pursuits and the
exalted, if traditionally prosaic, dignity of Bailieship are not
incompatible with a successful cultivation of the Muses. In depicting
one of the most tragic chapters in our national annals, Mr. Sharp has
attained charming results in his use of those heroic measures which the
genius of Scott and of Edmonstone Aytoun has made classic, and through
which these masters have made the dim shadows that erewhile flitted
across the stage of Scottish history to stand forth as living men.... We
have directed the attention of our readers to these poems because of
their intrinsic merits.--_Strathearn Herald._

If it be the poet's task to feel pleasure in life and discern beauty in
nature, to praise virtue and rejoice in love, and make his readers do
the same, then Mr. Sharp has succeeded admirably in effecting his
purpose.--_Dundee Advertiser._

Mr. Sharp is seen at his best in his shorter poems. In these, as a rule,
healthy sentiment is expressed in unpretentious verse.--_Academy._


_LAW LYRICS._ Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d.

"The anonymous author of the 'Lyrics'--is he not to be met with among
the sheriffs?--plays his tunes for session and vacation on the
'goose-quill of the law,' and he manages to produce from that ancient
instrument a considerable variety of expression.... His pronounced
national tastes are admirably shown in 'Oatmeal,' etc.; in lyrics like
'Stornoway Bay,' there is the true lyrical gush; while in such poems as
'A Still Lake,' there is revealed an exquisite power of

"For neatness and aptness of expression, it is equal to anything we have
seen."--_Scots Law Review._

"A very agreeable little book for an idle hour. The author shows himself
equally at home in the serious as in the comic."--_Graphic._

"They are exceedingly clever, and brimming over with fun and humour. The
author has earned a right to be called the Laureate of the Law, for
certain it is that he invests the most prosaic of all professions with
quite a halo of poetical interest."--_Nonconformist._

"Unkempt enthusiasm and rollicking good humour are the chief features of
this little volume."--_Academy._

"A charming little book. We should seek the author on the bench, not at
the bar."--_Glasgow Daily Mail._

"Will please not only those 'gentlemen of the long robe' to whom the
tiny volume is dedicated, but a far larger circle. It is a delightful
book of verses daintily got up."--_Glasgow Herald._

"These lyrics will bear comparison with the best work that has been done
in this particular line. Will rival some of the best of Outram's lyrics
in common sense and humour."--_Scottish News._

"The lyrics are written for the most part with sprightliness and ease.
The more serious and imaginative pieces disclose a rich vein of poetic
fancy. There are many who will procure the second edition from a
recollection of the pleasure which the first gave them."--_Journal of

"Will bear comparison with Outram's, Neave's, and Aytoun's. Faultless in
rhythm, and remarkable for rhyme."--_Evening News._

"The picture seems to us exquisite. Altogether, the work proves the
writer to be a true poet."--_Stirling Advertiser._

"The verses are inspirited and inspiring, expressive of the feelings of
many in these golden days of summer. To the second edition the author
has added some sixty pages brimful of the delightful verses which are
found so attractive in the first edition."--_Weekly Citizen._

"One of the two strongest and purest writers in the Scottish vernacular
that have been added to the choir of Northern minstrels during the
present century."--_Christian Leader._

"The admirable _Law Lyrics_ ... bright with strokes of pawky humour, and
abounding in verses each of which contains a picture, the volume is one
which will become a lasting favourite with its readers."--_The Bailie._

"Strongly incentive to hearty honest laughter which makes the heart grow
brighter, while to staid and grave and reverend seigniors the sweet
lark-song-like verses relating to nature, no less form subjects for
reflection."--_Ayrshire Weekly News._

"The little volume is interesting from the first page to the
last."--_Inverness Courier._

"Some of the verses exhibit a power of picturesque description which it
would be difficult to match, except out of the masters of song. Reveal
in attractive style the patriotism which animates the poet, and
establishes a claim additional to that of his undoubted genius, to a
large and appreciative Scotch audience."--_Greenock Telegraph._

"Such pieces as 'Scotch Porridge, etc." are amongst the most felicitous
examples of Scotch poetry we have seen in recent years."--_Brechin

"Strong common sense pervades the whole, and the views of the author are
expressed with a directness, force, clearness, and simplicity, which
leaves nothing to be desired."--_North British Advertiser._

"Of a highly captivating nature, the author being possessed of a keen
sense of the humourous."--_Stirling Observer._

"Equal to anything of their kind known to us after Burns. A very genial
and enjoyable volume."--_Aberdeen Gazette._

"He expresses himself with a felicity and pawky humour that equal Lord
Neaves and Outram at their best, and in several poems the natural grace
and pith of expression remind one more of Burns than any other writer.
This may seem pitching it very high, but in our opinion, the poems will
bear out the assertion. We recommend it to all in the profession of its
author, and to everyone who can appreciate true humour and good
poetry."--_The People's Friend._

"Many of the lyrics which celebrate the charms of rural life and scenery
are extremely fine, displaying as they do rare observing powers, a rich
fancy, and flowing tasteful language."--_Dumfries Standard._

"He is a follower of Robert Burns and finds in the Court, and in the
Temple, an inspiration which the great Scotch poet found in the fields
of Ayrshire."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"He possesses the power of writing simple flowing verse in an eminent
degree."--_Literary World._

of _Natural Law in the Spiritual World_. By Rev. A. WILSON. Crown 8vo,
cloth, 2s. 6d. Post free.

"In a former number of this _Review_ we drew attention to two or three
of the main fallacies of Professor Drummond's shallow but attractive
book. We are glad to see that Mr. Alexander Wilson has, with a
scientific knowledge equal to Professor Drummond's, and with a logical
faculty far superior, subjected it to a far more systematic and
exhaustive analysis. Those who were interested in the dazzling pages of
_Natural Law in the Spiritual World_, but not blinded by their glitter,
will welcome this justification of their doubts in the solid form of
facts and arguments, and those who were fascinated by the Professor's
brilliant rhetoric and imagery will have a rather painful awakening.
They will see the idol shattered which they had to fall down and worship
as a condition of attaining to an intellectual standpoint from which
they might see all known facts in their harmony and continuity. It is,
no doubt, very fascinating to be able to harmonize and to systematize;
but suppose your theory of law, identical in the natural and in the
spiritual worlds, results in the necessity of assuming that man is
nothing more than a part of material nature until he is "converted," and
of believing that the survival of the fittest means the salvation of the
few (according to the analogy of the seeds of an orchid, of about one
person in a generation), would a God who has made men so be the object
of religious feeling, or this spiritual world, with its rare and lonely
tenants, be worth arguing for? It is probable that few readers of this
new "analogy" drew such inferences, but were merely interested in
Professor Drummond's spiritual and scientific gymnastics; but for the
thoughtful few who may have been disturbed by them it is well that he
has been answered by one so capable, both from a Christian and
scientific point of view, as Mr. Wilson."--_Saturday Review._

"It is this fallacy, the presumption that the laws of matter are
continuous through the spiritual universe, that Mr. Wilson finds himself
first called on to meet; and he does so by contending that the principle
of continuity applies only if the spiritual universe be itself material,
and not necessarily even them, inasmuch as there are in the material
universe imponderable bodies to which the law of gravitation, for
example, does not extend.... Mr. Wilson has written a very able, acute,
and temperate criticism, in a thoroughly religious spirit, with perfect
courtesy to his opponent; and we should be glad to think that his work
would be widely read."--_Scotsman._

"... The critique is interesting, clever, earnest, and, we may add,
respectful to Professor Drummond.... Here, we think, Mr. Wilson occupies
a very strong--indeed, an invulnerable position. This is not, however,
so much the critic's own position as that of other writers, but, he
appears to us, in great measure, to recognise and accept it. His own
words farther on are: 'The identification of the natural and spiritual
laws, if taken absolutely, would lead to the confounding together of
mind and body, God and Nature.' ... We are much interested in the
author's criticism of the Professor's arguments touching the subject
which gives the book its title. It forms an earnest and powerful
chapter...."--_Literary World._

"An answer to Professor Drummond, a work of some importance has just
made its appearance. It is certain that Mr. Wilson's able examination of
'Natural Law in the Spiritual World' will attract a good deal of
attention and controversy."--_London Figaro._

"Mr. Wilson, with great vigour and intrepidity, criticises the
Professor's conclusions.... The great question raised by Professor
Drummond's work is that of the relation of the natural law of the
survival of the fittest to the doctrine of election. His critic combats
this conclusion with much acuteness and ability."--_Glasgow Herald._


_DAVID KENNEDY, The Scottish Singer: Reminiscences of his Life and
his Colonial and Indian Tours_. By DAVID KENNEDY, Junr. Demy 8vo, 480
pages, cloth extra, 7s. 6d. Post free.

"These unique musical tours were from time to time described by the
chief musician's son David in different books having reference to the
Colonies, to India, and to the Cape. They have now found a graceful and
appropriate preliminary chapter in the form of a memoir of David Kennedy
himself.... The memoir has been prepared by Miss Marjory Kennedy with
much taste and judgment, and will be read with interest, not only for
the sake of her father's characteristic letters and stories of early
life, but as recalling in various other ways pleasant memories
associated with a family of rare gifts and graces."--_Glasgow Herald._

_LIFE IN SHETLAND._ By JOHN RUSSELL. Crown 8vo, Cloth, 3s. 6d. Post

"Contains a great quantity of very interesting information about
Shetland and its people. By a happy instinct, Mr. Russell has been led
to write about those things which he knows thoroughly--namely, his own
doings and experiences.... There follows the story of the strange
minister at the 'second diet' of a Presbytery meeting who wanted to
propose a toast, but was informed by the horrified moderator that 'God's
people in that part of the country were not in the habit of drinking
toasts.' The rebuked stranger quietly rejoined that he 'had never before
seen God's people drink so much toddy.' Much, both edifying and
entertaining, might be quoted from this unique volume, but enough may
have been said to gain for it the public attention it

"We owe much to men like Mr. Russell, who, without any pretence, note
down what comes under their observation of an interesting nature
regarding curious customs, habits of life, and folk-lore, among the
people with whom they come into contact.... He is never entirely dull,
and we prefer such volumes which bring us into actual contact with a
poor but unsophisticated people to many pretentious stories. We follow
the minister as he goes out and in among the people, suffering hardship,
visiting, catechising, getting up a stock of fifty sermons, relating odd
anecdotes, and noting down peculiarities. We recommend this book to all
who are interested in the subject. It makes luminous to us the obscure
lives and labours of an interesting people."--_Pen and Pencil._

"An interesting and thoroughly realistic picture of life in Shetland is
presented to us in this volume by Mr. Russell, whose sojourn in those
Northern islands gave him good opportunity of observing the place and
the people.... Good stories, and brief observations and remarks on the
geology, natural history, and antiquities of the islands, and the
peculiar manners and customs of the people, ever and anon crop out in
the narrative.... It contains, however, a faithfully accurate and very
reliable description of _Ultima Thule_. And as the reader closes the
volume he will find that he has made acquaintance at once with a
singular country, and a pleasant guide to its chief points of
interest."--_Aberdeen Free Press._

"A bright and entertaining volume, and a valuable volume withal, anent
Shetland and the Shetlanders.... I know no book on Shetland equal to
this of Mr. Russell's. Its style is pointed and racy; the author talks
about what he knows and what he knows intimately. To put the matter in a
word, there isn't a dull page in 'Three Years in Shetland,' from the
title to the sentence at the close in which Mr. Russell expresses the
wish that 'all good things may attend' the islanders among whom he spent
three delightful years."--_Bailie._

"A very readable book about a very interesting people.... A minister, of
course, enjoys altogether exceptional opportunities, and Mr. Russell
seems to have made good use of them. He writes frankly about things as
he found them, which he is perhaps all the better able to do for his
change to the position of an outsider."--_Glasgow Herald._

"It contains some of the best clerical stories--though not always of the
most dignified nature, nor such as will tend to exalt the cloth in the
estimation of rude and irreverent laics--that we have come across, and
it gives very interesting, and for the most part accurate, details of
the everyday life of the people."--_Elgin Courant and Courier._


_LOCH CRERAN. Notes from the West Highlands._ By W. ANDERSON SMITH.
Crown 8vo, cloth, 6s. Post free.

"Readers of Mr. W. Anderson Smith's _Benderloch_ will welcome from the
same pen a second instalment of notes of natural history in the Western
Highlands entitled _Loch Creran_.... The influences of free moorland air
and buoyant water, of a spacious heaven and wide horizon, are with us,
and give zest to the study of fish and fowl and flower that are
liberally displayed. Whether it is the flight of a solitary bunting, or
the habitat of the pipe-fish (_Sygnathus_), the progress of _Myæ_ in the
refluent tide or a nested robin domiciled among strange perils, the
scenic suggestion cannot fail to persuade the senses. A large and
distinctive portion of Mr. Smith's book is devoted to the investigation
of the rich spoil of the dredger, as might be anticipated of so
enthusiastic a student of fish culture, and many of the most interesting
pages describe excursions on the waters of Etive and Creran and
Benderloch, or among the rocky pools and stretches of sand exposed by
the ebbing sea. By sea or land, on the wild hills or among the flowers
and insects of his garden, Mr. Smith has ever something to say that is
worth hearing, and he says it with admirable clearness and
force."--_Saturday Review._

"These charming notes from the Western Highlands are truly fascinating.
Entering into the very spirit of the life and scenery by which he is
surrounded, Mr. Smith gives his readers the benefit of the vast and
out-of-the-way stores of information he has gathered in all branches of
natural history. Each month, as it passes, has a chapter devoted to all
its manifold changes and doings, and we get many glimpses of charming
excursions, not unmixed with danger, when overtaken by those sudden
climatic changes to which that grand wild mountainous coast is often
exposed. An enthusiastic naturalist, the writer does not ride his hobby
to death, but, like a true lover of Nature, his sketches are bright and
fresh, and full of vivid descriptions, interspersed with many curious
anecdotes and facts relating to both the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
No better or more instructive guide to the fauna and flora of the
Western Highlands could be had than Mr. Anderson Smith's most pleasant
book."--_Literary World._

"They will be well rewarded who follow Mr. Anderson Smith along the
sea-shore, the hill-side, or the trouting stream; they will find how
much a quiet and attentive eye can glean from a loving study of the
denizens of earth, air, and water. The book is provided with a good
index, and those who have not leisure or patience to read it through at
a sitting may dip where they please. Like Mr. Smith's dredge, they
hardly ever fail to bring up something of interest."--_Scotsman._

"Students of natural history who read _Benderloch_, by Mr. W. A. Smith,
will give a cordial welcome to _Loch Creran_, another and even more
attractive work by the same observant author. With the exception,
perhaps, of Mr. Jefferson, no living naturalist is gifted with a more
picturesque manner of depicting the habits of birds, beasts, and fishes
than is Mr. Smith.... Then what a vast fund of entertaining instruction
is gathered in these excursions; a royal road to natural history is laid
down by Mr. Smith, and the student follows it leisurely, culling
charming bits of zoological lore here and there. One never knows what a
new day may bring forth when accompanying Mr. Smith on his rambles....
There is, indeed, no end to the curious things observed by Mr. Smith. He
seems only to sleep at home, for, with his waterproof handy, he roams
about all day in the open air, and comes home at night with a
well-filled note-book.... The wealth of interesting matter in this
delightful volume is, however, tempting us beyond our space, and we
think we have collated enough to make all who love the country, its
sights and sounds, and health-giving breezes read the work
itself."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"To those who are familiar with Mr. Anderson Smith's _Benderloch_, no
introduction or recommendation will be necessary on behalf of his new
book, _Loch Creran_. The work is, in fact, as the preface explains,
simply a continuation of the natural history sketches of which
_Benderloch_ is composed.... With what a happy combination of vivacity
and patience, insight and enthusiasm, Mr. Anderson Smith scans the open
pages of that great tome of nature.... Treasure-trove of this kind,
along with notes of a more strictly scientific character, is freely
scattered through Mr. Anderson Smith's pages; and so it will have a
charm for every reader with healthy natural tastes."--_Scottish Leader._

"There are few books in the language more delightful than White's
_Selborne_, and in Mr. W. Anderson Smith that earnest Hampshire
naturalist has a distinguished successor. His most recent volume is
worthy of the author of _Benderloch_, a book which, it may be hoped, is
already familiar to our readers.... The variety of his researches on
land and water prevent monotony. The author has much to tell, and he
explains what he has seen and done without waste of
words."--_Illustrated London News._

"Mr. Anderson Smith's observations extend over 1881-2, and refer mainly
to the natural history of the district, but he deals also with other
aspects of Nature, and his book is well worth reading."--_Times._

"There can be no hesitation in assuring lovers of Nature that in _Loch
Creran_ they will find a work after their own heart.... The charm of the
volume before us is that it is not the hasty outcome of the bookmaker
feverishly eager to piece together into a volume odds and ends of
information. There is an air of leisureliness about _Loch Creran_. Month
by month are given the results of two years' close intercourse with loch
and sea, field and wood. The work is one to be enjoyed by those who
share the writer's tastes and spirit, and not to be rushed by the

"Every page has its charm, something at once to instruct the mind and to
tickle and amuse the fancy. It is not a book to be read through at one
sitting, but one to dip into occasionally and to ruminate over in
pleased contentment. Perhaps its worth will be best appreciated by those
taking a holiday in the country, or, above all, at the seaside. And it
will serve as a very efficient guide to persons beginning the study of
natural history, directing them what and how to observe. Many a capital
story he gives illustrating the remarkable intelligence of the lower
animals. Some of these border upon the marvellous."--_Perthshire
Constitutional and Journal._

"Chatty and discursive, rather than elaborate, the interest in 'Loch
Creran' is well maintained throughout, and the book appeals to the
general reader, by whom it will doubtless be perused with greater
pleasure than a more highly scientific disquisition."--_Pall Mall

"He is a charming companion. His descriptions are vivid and true to
nature--whether he makes us shiver and feel glad of the shelter of the
house, as he tells us of winter's storms and floods, or whether he fills
our hearts with a longing for the freshness and gladness of spring as he
notes the signs of its advent on the shores of Loch Creran."--_Glasgow

_OLD CHURCH LIFE IN SCOTLAND: Lectures on Kirk-Session and Presbytery
Records._ _Second Series._ By ANDREW EDGAR, D.D. Demy 8vo, cloth, 7s.
6d. Post free.

"Antiquaries may welcome the minister of Mauchline as an elder brother
of their craft. We have not seen the first series of lectures, but
certainly these contain much that is queer and quaint. Odd people, these
Scotch folks; but there is a homeliness and a reverence about them which
we greatly value. Our author is evidently of the Established Church, and
knows most about the old customs of that body, of which he writes with a
twinkle in his eye which causes our eye to twinkle also. The grim want
of humour in some of the proceedings is about the same thing as the
presence of humour: you may laugh till you cry, and cry till you laugh;
between the tremendously solemn and the ridiculous there is but a step.
We have been so interested with the lectures that we must get the former
volume. What times those must have been when guests at a funeral began
to meet at ten in the morning, though the body might not be moved till
three or four! Five or six hours! How did they spin them out? No marvel
that the Kirk-Session had to hear charges of drunkenness. Such books as
these are the best of history, leading us indeed into byways and lone
paths which the general historian never traces."--=C. H. Spurgeon.=

_MY COLLEGE DAYS: The Autobiography of an Old Student._ Edited by R.
MENZIES FERGUSSON, M.A., Author of "Rambles in the Far North," &c. 8vo,
cloth, 5s. Post free.

"Mr. Fergusson, either as author or as editor, has well earned our
gratitude by giving us a volume which all may read with enjoyment and
pleasure.... Space and its limits will not allow us to dwell on many
other points of interest to be found in this entertaining volume; but we
cannot pass without mentioning the worthy dame who said, in praise of
her preacher: 'There's ae thing aboot yon man--he's a grand roarer.' Nor
must we forget the careful landlady who was always anxious to know if
her student-lodger was as yet an unengaged man, or, to use her own
graphic phrase, was 'a bund sack set by.'..."--_Literary World._

"We own to a suspicion that in this instance Mr. Fergusson has been his
own literary executor. Whether this be the case or not, he has no
reason to be ashamed of the bequest. The sketches have a pleasant grace
of literary style, and a good deal of power in description of
character-sketching, while there is in the writer a subtle under-strain
of pawky humour, and he has brought together and put permanently on
record a number of traditions of University life in Edinburgh and St.
Andrews that are well worth preservation.... Our old student's
reminiscences of St. Andrews, where he took the theological course after
graduating in arts at Edinburgh, are not less lively or interesting than
those he sets down respecting his Alma Mater; and his book is likely to
take a place both on the shelves and in the enduring regard of many
readers who have had similar experiences and tasted similar pleasures. A
word of praise is due to the excellence of its typography and
get-up."--_Scottish Leader._

"We think the verdict will be that Mr. Fergusson has done well in
publishing this thoughtful book. It abounds in vigorous, and, in many
cases, eloquent delineations of University life; it is sympathetic in
its spirit and catholic in its tone, especially when dealing with such
subjects as the stage, so frequently abused. Its author was a student of
the Universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Oxford, his
reminiscences of which are often humorous, and always interesting. Some
of the anecdotes recorded in this volume regarding the Edinburgh
Professors are exceedingly entertaining.... We venture to predict for
this autobiography a wide circulation."--_Dundee Advertiser._

"The book is eminently readable, very quiet for the most part, but not
without a few touches of gaiety and sprightly humour; and it betokens no
little culture together with a strong poetic tendency. The contents are
almost entirely confined to sketches of life at Scottish Universities,
with some playful personal satire, of which various Professors, some
mentioned by name and others denoted by initials, are the objects in
chief, although the peculiarities of certain landladies whose province
it is, or was, to let lodgings to students at Edinburgh or elsewhere,
come in for their share of more or less satirical delineation. But there
is nothing spiteful, nothing bitter, nothing cynical in the mode of
treatment. Two chapters are devoted to a sketch, brief but graphic and
sympathetic, of academic Oxford, whither the author went to sojourn and
to study for two months."--_Illustrated London News._

"This is a delightful book, calculated to afford much pleasurable
amusement of a quiet kind. It is written in a light sparkling style....
The book itself is an enjoyable one, and perhaps none will read it with
greater relish than the old fogies who see in it much of what they
themselves passed through, and who, by the perusal are led to recall,
with mingled feelings, the aspirations, the freshness, and the frolic of
their own College days."--_Perthshire Constitutional._

"By those who have passed through the Universities it will be read with
considerable pleasure, affording as it does such happy reminiscences of
'College days,' with their grave, plodding seriousness, or that more
boisterous playfulness which is supposed to be the characteristic of
students as a class. Those, again, who are simply outsiders, and have
had no College days whatever, will be charmed by the recital here given
of the doings of the students, and the customs associated with the
respective Universities, the pen-portraits of the several professors,
the opinions expressed regarding men and things, the poetry, original
and selected, and the hundred and one subjects here treated of by a man
of observant nature possessing facility of expression, besides a keen
sense and appreciation of the humorous...."--_Stirling Observer._

"Many a 'varsity man, who has won his decree in the modest 'little city,
worn and grey,' will welcome the appearance of Mr. R. M. Fergusson's
_College Days_. Redolent every page of it, of the class-room, and the
wild Bohemianism of student life, and bristling with the 'classic'
ditties which have so often made the halls of St. Salvator's resound,
here is material for a mental revel in the past."--_Northern Chronicle._

"This series of autobiographical notes deserve recognition, if only
because the style is perfectly natural and perfectly good-natured....
The book contains several capital anecdotes and some excellent
verse."--_London Figaro._

"But after all the charm of the volume lies in the whole life of a
student which is presented to us, for his joys and his troubles, his
amusements and his hard reading, are here written of by one who has
evidently experienced all. Scattered throughout these pages are numerous
verses, some original, some well-known students' songs. The original
verses are very good...."--_Stirling Journal._

"The volume contains some very excellent poems which are worthy of
finding, and doubtless will find, a place as verses to future songs.
There is not a chapter in the book which is not thoroughly
entertaining."--_The Tribune._

"The 'Old Student' has to speak of Scotch Universities, Edinburgh, to
wit, and St. Andrews, while he gives some impressions, gained as an
outsider, of Oxford.... There is much that is interesting and
entertaining, some good stories, and generally a pleasant picture of a
happy and busy life."--_Spectator._

"The writer is always entertaining and kindly, is wise in season, and
also _desipit in loco_, and tells some good stories--professors being
naturally his chief subjects."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

"It is, to say the least, eminently probable that Mr. Fergusson relates
his own experiences in Edinburgh and St. Andrews. He does so in a
sufficiently lively and 'freshman' style.... _My College Days_ is, on
the whole, as readable as any book of the kind that has recently been
published."--_The Academy._

"Mr. R. Menzies Fergusson paints life as he thinks he saw it as a young
man at St. Andrews and Edinburgh, in _My College Days_. This
'autobiography of an old student' contains much interesting
reminiscence, and Mr. Fergusson has perhaps not erred in introducing
into his text specimens of the verse into which some of his Caledonian
student contemporaries were in the habit of dropping occasionally. Mr.
Fergusson's little book should find many a sympathetic reader among
former _alumni_ of the Scottish Universities, for he writes without

'Seldom have we had more pleasure than in the perusal of these
reminiscences of College days. No one who has gone through the
curriculum of a Scotch University can fail to attest the fidelity with
which his experience here finds expression.... 'An Old Student' was
privileged to have more than one _alma mater_. He could boast the
fostering care of Edinburgh, of St. Andrews, and of Oxford, and of all
these he has most pleasant reminiscences. Our author's experiences at
Oxford will repay perusal. The whole book, written in a most happy,
though thoughtful and affectionate strain, must incite the most cordial
sympathy of all whose student days have not been forgotten, while the
general public will peruse it with responsive hearts and a regretful
feeling that they have missed the experiences of which it
treats.'--_Brechin Advertiser._

'The minister of Logie, who made a decided hit with _Rambles in the Far
North_, has attempted a very difficult bit of work in _My College Days_.
This purports to be the MS. legacy of a College friend who died young
after some experience of student life in Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and
Oxford. The fiction will impose upon nobody, although it may shield the
editor from some blame, for while there is mirth and vigour and kindly
reminiscence, there is also some very sharp criticism, and much
reference to Academic dignitaries who are still in the flesh, and may be
sensitive and inclined to sting when they find some of their class jokes
not merely in print but bound in a book.... If certain Edinburgh divines
beguile a leisure hour over these pages, they will for once see
themselves as the keen-witted see them, and be amazed at the impudence
of the rising generation. Everybody who knows Edinburgh will recognise
the portrait of the preacher who is likened to Dr. Andrew Thomson in one
thing--'There's ae thing about yon man, he's a grand roarer.' The St.
Andrews part is full and cleverly done, and will have a charm for most
_alumni_ of the 'College of the scarlet gown,' because it contains a
large number of the songs, original and selected, with which the lobby
of the Natural Philosophy class-room was wont to resound."--_Elgin

"The style is lively, and the descriptions of scenes of student life are
graphic. The account of the election of Rector at Edinburgh will
doubtless interest many, and the chapter dealing with landladies, their
varieties and idiosyncracies, is humorous."--_Morning Post._

"To recent students of our two greatest Scottish Universities--Edinburgh
and St. Andrews--_My College Days_ is charged with intense interest,
though its racy humour and chatty discursiveness will render it
attractive reading to those uninitiated in academic mysteries and
innocent of student frivolities. The life of an Edinburgh student, in
college and out of college, in the class-room, the debating society, the
theatre, and the church, is described with untiring vivacity.... Whether
author or merely editor, Mr. Menzies Fergusson is to be sincerely
congratulated upon his success. Reminiscence is a species of literature
not always instructive, not always even entertaining; in Mr. Fergusson's
hands it becomes both."--_Fifeshire Journal._

"We think the verdict of every impartial reader will be that Mr.
Ferguson has done well in publishing this book. It abounds in vigorous,
and, in many instances, impressive descriptions of University life; it
is enlivened at judicious intervals with original verses, which evince
lyrical power; its style is admirably condensed and clear; it is
sympathetic in its spirit and catholic in its tone, especially when
dealing with such subjects as the stage and its modern exponents by
narrow-minded writers so frequently abused."--_Ayr Observer._

"It is pleasantly written, is full of the fun of student life, full,
too, of its hardships, abounds with excellent stories, is very
discriminating in professional criticism, while scattered throughout the
racy pages are many snatches of jovial college songs recorded nowhere
else.... Altogether the volume is very readable, and no student, at all
events, can find a dull page in it."--_Kelso Chronicle._

Fcap. 4to, 6s.

In this new work on the interesting and mysterious episode of Scottish
History, usually known as the Gowrie Conspiracy, the author has not only
submitted the old materials to a close examination, but also thrown new
light on the subject by the help of letters to be found in the Record
Office, but overlooked or suppressed by former historians, of documents
recently discovered by the Commission on Historical MSS., and also of
important papers preserved in the French Archives.

"_A treasure of almost priceless thought and criticism._"--_Contemporary

In the press. Second Edition, Thoroughly Revised. Cr. 8vo, 338 pp., 7s.





"Mr. Snodgrass has produced a book in which lazy people will find a
great deal to please them. They can take it up at any moment, and open
it on any page with the certainty of finding some bright epigram; they
need not turn down the page on shutting up the volume, as it matters
little where they resume. There is nothing jarring in the whole
book."--_Athenæum, April 19, 1877._

"No Englishman of culture who is unacquainted with Heine can fail to
derive a new intellectual pleasure from Mr. Snodgrass's
pages."--_Contemporary Review, September 1880._

"Mr. Snodgrass would appear to have saturated himself with Heine
literature, to have so caught Heine's mode of thought and his turns of
expression--quaint, droll, swift, and scathing by turns--that the
translator would appear to have had no more difficulty in presenting
Heine as he was to the reader than he would have in presenting his own
thoughts."--_Glasgow Herald, March 31, 1879._

"Mr. Snodgrass, in his 'Wit,' &c., has dime a great service in this
respect, presenting as it were a full-length miniature of the man, clear
and effective, wherein his characteristic expression is faithfully
caught and where, if we look carefully, we can see him as he really was,
for he is made to paint his own portrait."--_British Quarterly Review,
October 1881._

"Mr. Snodgrass has certainly done great service to English literature in
presenting us with a compact little volume like that before

"A word of cordial praise is due to the translator, Mr. J. Snodgrass,
for his admirable performance of a very difficult task. His book is one
to welcome and to keep as a treasure of almost priceless thought and
criticism."--_Contemporary Review, February 1881._

"Mr. Snodgrass is to be thanked for a very seasonable bit of
work."--_Examiner, April 26, 1879._

"We are bound to say that Mr. Snodgrass has done his work exceptionally
well."--_The Literary World, May 9, 1879._

"Mr. Snodgrass has made a valuable addition to English literature in
this volume, and has given us a most attractive and efficient
introduction to the study of Heine."--_The Nonconformist, August 20,

"He has performed his task with skill, tact, and judgment; and it is
easy to perceive that he has a thorough acquaintance with his author and
sympathy for his matter."--_Notes and Queries, April 19, 1879._

"The result of Mr. Snodgrass's attempt has been the production of a
volume which, for variety and interest, may be pronounced one of the
most successful books of the season."--_Aberdeen Journal, March 26,

"In Heine, whose prose writings in German fill well on to a score of
volumes, we find in remarkable combination the best qualities of German
thought, along with the sparkle and brilliancy of an accomplished
Frenchman's style."--_Aberdeen Daily Free Press, April 21, 1879._

"Mr. Snodgrass has done his selection and translation admirably well and
we owe him thanks for a volume which has in it mere wit of the highest
sort, and more political insight, than any book that has lately been
given to the public."--_Vanity Fair, November 8, 1879._

"The compiler of this interesting little volume, Mr. J. Snodgrass is
perfectly right in saying that Heine is chiefly known to English readers
as the author of the 'Book of Songs.'"--_The Week, April 19, 1879._

"The 'English Fragments' have a special interest for the English reader;
but the selection from Heine's prose works in general, most judiciously
made and excellently translated by Mr. Snodgrass, gives a much completer
view of the qualities of the writer's mind."--_Saturday Review._

"Mr. Snodgrass has not essayed to give at all an exhaustive collection
of Heine's witty, wise, and pathetic sayings; but he has selected, in
the order in which they occur in the complete German edition, such
extracts as have specially commended themselves to himself. He has
produced a very enjoyable volume, exactly adapted to the taste of lazy
and luxurious persons, who can just take up the book for five minutes to
read a delightful passage, complete in itself, and not long enough to
fatigue the most fastidious attention."--_Academy, May 31, 1879._


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