A NOTE ON THE BODLEIAN BOWL

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An item in the will of Dr. Richard Rawlinson runs thus : " I give and bequeath to the same University my metal Jewish vessel." And in the same University, in the Ashmolean Museum in connection with the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the vessel has remained till the present day. Dr. Rawlinson died in 1755. He had bought the pot in March 1742 for XI, 5s., at the sale of the Earl of Oxford's pictures and curiosities. The Earl of Oxford had bought it in 1722 on the death of its original owner, Dr. John Covel, Master of Christ's College, Cambridge.

Covel, as may be seen from Bent's Introduction to the Hakluyt Society's volume, " Early Voyages and Travels in the Levant," was a noted Oriental traveller, and his diary contains several interesting, but not very agreeable, remarks about the Jews of the Orient. He was Master of Christ's from 1688 till 1722, but had already returned to Cambridge in 1679, though he did not permanently reside there till some time later. In the interim he had been chaplain at the Hague to Princess, afterwards Queen Mary. Here he gave offence to William by communicating to the English ambassador an account of Prince William's tyrannical treatment of his wife. When William, as King, visited Cambridge in 1689, Covel was Vice-Chancellor, and when Covel, doubtful as to the King's attitude towards him, sent a feeler to the King, William curtly replied that he could distinguish between Dr. Covel and the Vice-Chancellor of the University. In Macray's " Annals of the Bodleian," we are told that Dr. Covel obtained the metal Jewish vessel after it had been found by a fisherman in a brook in Suffolk, about 1698. This date is somewhat inexact, for, as we shall immediately see, the vessel was in Dr. Covel's hands at least as early as 1696. The wrong date was derived from Tovey, who, in his Anglia Judaica, says rightly enough that the bowl was found about forty years before his work was written, which was in 1738. It is also from Tovey that the statement is derived that the pot was found " by a Fisherman as he was dragging in a small brook in Suffolk" (Anglia Judaica, p. 248). There is no other evidence for this assertion, which is apparently without founda? tion. On the basis of this supposition, various romantic embellishments have been invented, such as that the bowl was found in the River Lark, which passes through Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Hence have been derived conjectures as to the association of the bowl with the Jews of Buryconjectures for which I have been unable to find any historical grounds.

But there exist in the British Museum two letters addressed by Isaac Abendana to Dr. Covel. The first of these letters is dated December 23, 1692, from Oxford, and refers to Abendana's last almanac, and to his sending copies for distribution among the heads of the colleges. In this letter Abendana refers to a former visit

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