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And surely, if ever there was good cause either for sympathy or interference, that cause may be found in the fiendish oppression of the Jews at Damascus. Our readers are familiar with the story: Yet we doubt if they are familiar with the extent of the malice which dictated this oppression, or of the inhuman means which were invented to gratify it. Let us brieflly recite the facts. An old priest, belonging to Damascus, suddenly disappeared. What became of him no one knew-no trace of him could be discovered. But a charge was made that the Jews had murdered him; and forthwith the most wealthy and influential among them were seized. They were allowed to make no desence. The rulers of Damascus condemned them unheard, and at once applied the torture to wring from them a confession of guilt. The list of tortures applied will best inform us of their demon-like conduct, and for this end we shall enumerate them.
2. Soaking persons in large tanks of cold water in their clothes.
3. The Head Machine, by which the eyes are pressed out of their sockets.
4. Tying up parts of the body, and ordering the soldiers to twist and so contort the limbs, that the sufferers grew mad from pain.
5. Compelling those seized to stand upright for three days, not allowing them to lean against the wall, and having their bodies pierced by the bayonets of sentinels, if they fell down.
6. Dragging them over a court-yard by the ears, until the blood gushed out.
7. Having thorns driven in between their nails, and the flesh of the fingers and the toes.
8. Having fire set to their beards, until their faces are singed.
9. Candles held under their noses, so that the flame rises up into the nostrils.”
Horrible as is this conduct, whether we look at the demoniac malice of the chiefs, or the agony of the tortured Jews, let us dwell upon it only to enquire what good may spring from it: For never could Heaven witness, or man bear such outrage, without instantly and necessarily commencing a process of cure. One result will be to dispel that coldness, that prejudice, that feeling of scorn, which Christians so often manifest towards the Jews. This state of mind, from other causes, was slowly but certainly changing. But this cause
will awaken a true sympathy, and start rapidly into being a nobler, manlier spirit. We cannot witness suffering with indifference: we cannot witness dire wrong committed without uplifting an arm to remove it. But to behold this suffering and this wrong brought about, not from rivalry, or a bold revenge, but from avarice, from a satanic love of pelf, and not to move Heaven and earth to purify and punish it, is a moral impossibility. We may look therefore for a closer union between Jew and Christian. Another result will follow from this persecution, which will be no less beneficial: It will bind together as one man the scattered tribes of Israel. Whithersoever news of this outrage has been borne, it has stirred them up as they have not been stirred up for centuries; and, in their synagogues and in public meetings, by letters and in speeches, they have poured out their feelings, calling upon the powers of the earth to redeem their brethren from oppression, and appealing to their race to make common cause against the chiefs of Damascus. Nor will the appeal be in vain.
The deep voice of sympathy, ringing through all Europe in favor of the oppressed Jews at Damascus, together with their own deeper conviction, burning to utter itself and to act, will scatter prejudice and disarm bigotry, and may wake a power in the plains of Judea which will crush the despotism which exists there, and make that Hebrew land resound once again to Jewish jubilees in solemn worship of their God.
Palestine, in every point of view, stands prominent in Christian story. Destitute of literature or art, bare of the ruined magnificence of the ancient, or of the gorgeous splendor of the modern empires around her; shut out from the stirring and civilizing influences of commerce-standing in all respects insulated and alone,still it is the land above all other lands which most excites our interest and touches our affections. It is the cradle of our religion. There alone in the early ages of the world, was the worship of the living God maintained. Amid the scoffs and scornings and persecutions which that worship occasioned; amid idolatry and under the ban of idolaters—whether broken by oppression, or borne down by a galling slavery,-Palestine was true to the faith and teachings of her fathers. But a higher honor belongs to her. It is the land which gave life and light to all. There, in a rude hamlet, among her sequestered hills, eighteen centuries ago, a being was born, who, by his word and teachings, was to recast society, and rescue man from barbarism. Unknown almost in his day, lost sight of amid the glare of Roman arms
and Grecian art, he still lives, the redeemer of man. Knowing this to be true, who can think of Palestine, of her loneliness, her sorrow, her gloom, without a thrill! He has no human heart who can look upon the birthplace of our religion, and of Jesus, with apathy or indifference.
The Jews, too, of all people whom we know, are the most wonderful. Despised though they have been, despised though they they are--wanderers upon the face of the earth--known everywhere and everywhere oppressed,--still are they linked with earth's mightiest events." They are a peculiar people; and we must regard them with the most intense interesi. Behold them in the
day of their power. They stand alone. Feeling that they are the chosen of God, they hold no intercourse with other nations, and neither give nor ask for sympathy. A proud spirit fires them—a spirit which can brook no contamination, which trusts its own strength; and, in the towering gloom of its pride, defies the scowl of a world. Behold them in the day of their defeat. That spirit is still unbroken. Referring back to their ancient glory, they suffer patiently the direst ills, full of faith that that glory will be theirs again. They resist not; but, centering all their feelings in themselves, the more they are oppressed-returning hate for scorn-a sullen resentment for the world's contumely,they are brethren and men of Palestine still, though born far from that sacred soil, and from each other. Who can view such conduct with indifference, or read the history of such a people with apathy? It would seem, indeed, as if Heaven had meant that the eyes of man should rest upon that land and follow that people. Never since the death of our Saviour has Palestine been free from public calamities. Roman and Barbarian, Saracen and Moslem, and Crusader and Egyptian, in turn have desolated her fair and fertile fields, and marked them by fire and blood. And the Jews—where and what are they? Dwellers in all nations, yet without a country living in all lands, yet united as one nation-fixed in numbers, amid a general increase—what an anomaly, what a contradiction to all the laws of society and human progress, do they present! They have been so visited, and are so marked, we must believe, for a benevolent and glorious end. Let us then glance at the enquiry we have suggested, viz., the return and restoration of the Jews to Palestine—trusting, meanwhile, that our readers, (whether they believe such is to be the result or not,) will so far sympathize with us as to feel it to be a duty to cheer and elevate a race who have shewn such fidelity to their principles.
In discussing this question, it is common to rely upon prophecy. This point we shall not touch. We would not speak lightly of those who conisder this the true issue; we concur, indeed, in the common belief: but there are other considerations, we think, which, to say the least, will have no small agency in determining this matter. The physical force of the Jews, the policy of Europe, the moral conviction of Christian and Jew, on this subject-these are important points, and must be settled upon before we can arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. We shall confine our remarks therefore to these points.
As to the policy of Europe on this question—this is our first topic. The East is becoming the centre of action. It is indeed fairly within the whirl of European politics. It is clear enough therefore, that if Great Britain so willed it, that the Egyptian empire could be severed, and Palestine restored to the Jews without a resort to arms.
How far this power might be disposed so to act, would depend upon the interest which it had at stake, as that alone would determine its policy. What then is the position of Great Britain on this subject? Her possessions in the East are large and valuable. They are one source of her wealth and power, and she would never yield them up while she had the ability to rule over them. Now Russia is extending her boundaries in that quarter of the world in every direction, and seems ambitious to secure universal sway there. Great Britain feels this, and has for years been regularly concentrating her forces in India, not merely to repel invasion, but to avert if possible the further growth of Russia. Still, with all her means, the Autocrat possesses one important advantage. His troops may march from Moscow to the Dardanelles,
may skirt British India, may scale the walls of China, almost without quitting his jurisdiction. Nor can the English Government overcome this advantage, and place itself upon an equality with Russia, unless it has exclusive control over the land routes to the East, and the countries through which they pass. Egypt is the chief route, and therefore, whether reference be had to Russian aggression, or the security of the India possessions, Egypt ought to be under British influence. This is the positionof Great Britain; and thus we may see, not only the causes which have made the East the centre of European politics, but learn also the motives which would induce that Government and all powers opposed to Russia, to encourage the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. In the first place it would not answer to have a strong empire established under Egyp
tian rule, as free ingress and egress in to and out of its dominions, might be denied, and thus make British India more liliable to Russian attack, and less secure from internal commotion. In the second place, it might entangle Great Britain in wars which would not only involve her in enormous expense, but endanger her whole foreign empire. We conclude, theresore, with these great interests at risk, that she will encourage the growth of small kingdoms in the Egyptian empire, that for this end she would willingly limit Egypt to her ancient boundaries, and as willingly restore, or aid in restoring, the Jews to Palestine.
We are confirmed in this view by another consideration. It is the interest of Great Britain in a commercial and economical point of view to bring about this result. Egypt is an agricultural country. It produces cotton, rice and grain, and, under good culture, it might be made to supply all her wants. For obvious reasons it has long been, and is now, a chief object with Great Britain to obtain these articles from her own colonies, or from countries dependent upon her. If, therefore, Egypt could be induced to cultivate them more largely, that object could be at once attained. But to effect so great a change, two things are necessary; First, the natives must own a portion of the soil, and secondly, they must receive the rewards of their labor. As things now are, this is not the case. The Pacha owns the soil, and controls the labor of the country: he is master and lord of both. How is this system to be altered? How are the people to know their rights, and to obtain them? There is but one course: Either the ruling Pacha must be deposed, or his power limited. Now one or both these events we are certain will take place, and British influence is doing no little to speed on their consummation. The very fact, indeed, that the East is becoming the centre of action, must in itself stir up its stagnant mind, and give an impulse to individual effort there which nothing can stop. Egypt feels it already. Habits which were fixed, manners which were thought unalterable, customs which age had hallowed, have yielded, in a great measure, to this influence; and now that steam ships ride in the bay of Alexandria, and steamboats break the waters of the Nile, and the roar of steam cars, dashing over railways, is heard, is it not morally certain that the Moslem power has ceased? Its despotism will burn out by its own fierceness, or be put out by the growing intelligence of the people. Great Britain is directly interested, as we have seen, in hastening this result for political ends; but she is as directly interested for commercial and agricultural