A HOMAGE TO MENASSEH BEN ISRAEL

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Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,?When I had the privilege, some years ago, of entertaining the late Professor Graetz in my house, I held many a conversation with him touching the characters of some of the personages,?men of action and scholars??whose portraits he has limned with such consummate mastery in his great " History of the Jews/' And he was wont to observe with respect to them, Ich kenne diese Herren im Schlafrock, "I know these gentle? men in their morning gown"; meaning thereby that, by dint of care? fully studying their writings and probing the hidden springs of their action, he had grown familiar with them, as though they were living acquaintances, whom he had known personally, and with whom he had held sweet converse. I have endeavoured, as far as the stress of public duties permitted me, to study the various writings and to enter into the iuner life of Menasseh ben Israel, so that I might be enabled to know that reverend gentleman in his morning gown, though it may be reasonably questioned whether this dignified Chacham ever allowed himself to be seen in undress.

I deem it right and fitting that on this evening, on which we celebrate the Resettlement of the Jews in England, we should pay our homage to Menasseh ben Israel, who laboured so earnestly and so unselfishly to this end. Can it be denied that we have shown a most blameworthy ingratitude to the memory of the Portuguese divine ? In 1870, lecturing on the Jews in England before our working men, I asked, Why is there not a single institution in our midst bearing his name ? Why have we no edition of his works, no biography of this great and good man, who, though but a humble preacher, neither richly endowed with worldly goods, nor possessed of much influence, laboured so energetically and disinterestedly for the good of his brethren ? One at least of these reproaches has been rolled from us. We now possess a scholarly biography, albeit not an original work, but a translation of the life written by Dr. Kayserling, which was Englished by the Rev. Dr. de Sola Mendes, of New York, and incorporated into the second series of the " Miscellany of Hebrew Literature," edited by our esteemed friend, the Rev. Dr. L?wy. Dr. Friedl?nder has furnished a learned article for the " National Dictionary of Biography," but this monumental work can only be consulted in great public libraries. Lastly, Lady Magnus has included this " patriot and printer " in her Jewish Portraits, which are depicted with that charm and vividness characterising everything that falls from the pen of that gifted lady. But it is a sketch, not a biography. And those who have even but hastily skimmed the subject are well aware of the immense accession of material that has been opened up since the time that Dr. Kayserling published, thirty-three years ago, Menasse ben Israel, sein Leben und Wirken.

And as regards the productions of

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