Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/498

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
494
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

antiquity the citizen was bound to be of the same religion as his city, but the profession of this religion called for very slight obligations so far as belief was concerned. In matters of faith, the Greek colonies were not at all exacting. It was this very eclecticism which the Jews seemed to hate and made him break with the world about him. The result was that he almost always asked that he be granted special privileges, and almost invariably got them. At the same time he was very careful to insist upon having his common rights, so the result was that he was almost universally hated throughout all the great cities, and was constantly compelled to seek a renewal of his privileges. Very much the same story is repeated in the Byzantine Empire, in Ostrogothic Italy, in Frankish and Burgundian Gaul and in Visigothic Spain. In all these countries the Jew was at first admitted without prejudice, and received on the grounds of political and social equality. In all these countries he subsequently became the object of hatred and persecution.

During the middle ages, when the Jew was truly a wanderer upon the face of the earth, and he scarcely knew which way to turn, he found safe haven in the Kingdom of Poland: in fact, for one hundred years after the charter of King Boleslas in 1264, the Jews had the privilege of mixing freely with the Polish population, and even after the modification of the charter they were never wholly cut off from this privilege. Although Poland never actually persecuted them, and for a long period of time really treated them on an equality with her own people, they have never, as a body, taken any interest in any of the great political and national questions with which she has been so continuously agitated. The German colonist, settled long after the Jew, has lost every trace of his nationality but his name. The Stuarts and O'Rourke's, who sought refuge in the republic from a hostile government, have become as ingrained in the Polish community as the Pole himself, but the Jew is still a stranger.

In France, the Jews enjoyed equal privileges until long after Christianity became an active issue. In Spain they were first admitted on equal terms. The same in England. In all these countries they finally became disagreeable to the mass of the people and restrictive legislation was directed against them. As late as 1879 Germany experienced an active anti-semitic movement. When the cause of the modern anti-Jewish feeling is analyzed, it seems to have about the same basis that it had before the time of Christ. In both cases it has been at bottom essentially a question of manners. The Jew, as a class, is different from the people among whom he has settled, and he has insisted that he be given certain special privileges which serve to emphasize the difference rather than obliterate it. In other words, he is inherently clannish. Wherever this clannishness has been forgotten and he has laid aside, or kept in the background, the customs and mannerisms which mark him as a peculiar person, he has been a welcome addition to the