Ladies and Gentlemen,?When I accepted the honourable post of President of the Jewish Historical Society of England for the current session, my yielding to your request was not devoid of con? siderable reluctance and misgiving. For I was painfully aware that, owing to the manifold responsibilities and unending duties that press upon me, I should have but scant leisure vouchsafed to me to further the interests of your Society. And indeed, from a financial point of view, your choice, I fear me, could not be pronounced a felicitous one. Our treasurer has intimated to me that we do not suffer from a lack of members, but that in the case of our Society, strangely enough, the terms members and subscribers are not exactly synonymous. The glowing desire, characteristic of other societies, to pay subscriptions the moment they become due, is not, I have been told, a distinctive feature of our body. This is a peculiar phenomenon; for surely we give you adequate value for your money, save and except, of course, in regard to the address to which you are doomed to listen this even? ing. The volume of Transactions alone, just published, of which I can speak freely, as it contains no contribution of mine, is surely well worth half-a-guinea And, in addition, you will enjoy the advantage of listening to the instructive papers which will be read during the present session. Surely these and other privileges, touching which you will hear in the course of the evening, are more than an adequate return for the small annual subscription asked of you. I do hope that this gentle reminder will suffice to stimulate the laggards to pay their arrears, and thus triumphantly to disprove the imputation recently made upon us by a high authority on finance, that the clergy are not good men of business.
But one qualification for the post I have the honour to fill I may claim without being guilty of arrogance or conceit: I am fired with a deep and absorbing love for Jewish History and Literature. Anglo Jewish History especially has absolutely exercised a fascination upon me from my earliest youth. When I was yet in my teens I began to prepare an outline history of Anglo-Jewish worthies, and the first lecture I delivered before our working-men in Heneage Lane, as far back as 1869, was on the subject of " The Jews in England."
All history, indeed, should be an inspiring and entrancing theme to every thinking man and woman. It has been truly said that " history makes some amends for the shortness of life." How can we, within the limited span of our existence, gain sufficient experience to quit ourselves worthily amid every trial and in every difficulty? We turn to history, and in
il Her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time,"
we read of the successes and failures both of nations and individuals. We see monuments of glory and beacons of danger set along the shores of