|Vol. IV, No. 12
Adar 5607, March 1847
London, January 3, 1847.
Sir Moses Montefiore has consented to sit for his portrait, in compliance with a requisition from the Portuguese elders, concerning which I informed you in my last. S. A. Hart, Esq., R. A., a Jewish painter, who has raised himself to considerable distinction by his numerous successful performances has been very appropriately selected as artist for this undertaking. A similar compliment to Lady Montefiore has been suggested in recognition of the eminent share which she is known to have taken in all the noble enterprises of her distinguished partner. In the last number but one of the “Voice of Jacob,” this subject has been argued very warmly; but I do not learn as yet that it has been suitably responded to by the Jewish public generally.
Her Majesty has been pleased to confer the title of Baronet on another eminent member of our faith, the Baron Anthony de Rothschild, as announced a few days ago in the official gazette. A metropolitan evening journal announces the name of the Baron Lionel de Rothschild among the list of liberal candidates for the next general election for the City. I am not aware if this announcement has any foundation in truth, (it has not been as yet contradicted;) but as it is contemplated to make a strong movement in favour of the complete emancipation of the Jews of this country, there is little doubt but that this great city will take the initiative in the agitation of so important a question. The “removal of the Jews’ disabilities bill,” which was passed in the last session, has already led to the election of a Jewish citizen of London, B. Phillips, Esq., of Newgate Street, to the municipal office of Common Councilman for one of the most extensive and populous wards of the city. This gentleman, who is much and deservedly respected, obtained his appointment by a very large majority. The fact that this is the first Jew returned to a municipal office in this city renders the circumstance one of great interest and importance to both Jew and Christian.
The West London Synagogue of British Jews in Burton Street has at length been recognised as a religious place of worship, and is now therefore duly registered as a building wherein marriages can in future be legally solemnized.—The following very interesting extracts are taken from a number of the “Freemason’s Quarterly Review,” being part of a letter from the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Zetland, Grand Master of the Freemasons of Great Britain to the Grand Master of Prussia, on account of the Jewish Freemasons being excluded from visiting any of the Lodges in that country, notwithstanding they may be possessed of authentic certificates from the Grand Lodge of England—the letter proceeds to say,—“The M. W. Grand Master of England, the Rt. Hon. the Earl Of Zetland, received with the deepest feelings of grief the reply made by the R. W. brother Bier, the Grand Secretary, on behalf of the Grand L. R. Y. of friendship, Berlin, to the communications of his Lordship of the 15th December last, inasmuch as that reply announces, that by the existing laws of the Gr. L. R. Y. of Prussia, none but Christian and duly legitimated brethren of recognised Lodges are allowed access to the labours. To this law, it appears that all subordinate lodges are bound to conform, and to exclude as visitors brethren of the Jewish faith, notwithstanding such brothers may take with them the certificate of the Gr. L. of England, and be in every respect as to character unexceptionable; the religious creed being alone the ground of refusal. The Gr . L. of England, by the earliest history and tradition has always declared and observed the universality of Freemasonry, making no distinctions or exclusions on the score of religious faith, a matter into which she never inquires, beyond the point in which all men agree. It is for this reason that she does not sanction or recognise meetings which in some places are holden by assemblies of particular religionists. With these the Gr. L. of E. does not interfere, but she strictly guards by her laws and her practice against the introduction into her lodges of any emblems or decorations which are indicative of particular creeds, deeming them liable to be taken as offensive demonstrations at variance with the true spirit of Freemasonry. * * * But when members, of English Lodges, lawfully admitted, and bearing diplomas from the Gr. Lodge of England, duly authenticated under her seal; are not recognised, and, on the contrary, are rejected merely on account of their particular faith, it becomes the imperative duty of the Gr. Master to vindicate the rights, the honour, and the integrity of the body over which he has been called to preside, whose branches extend to every quarter of the habitable globe. In the discharge of that duty, then, the Grand Master of England protests against the refusal which has been made to acknowledge the legitimate children of a lawfully constituted English Lodge, and at the same time is constrained to recall from his post the R. W. brother the Chev. Esser, as the representative of England in the G. L. R. Y. of Prussia at Berlin. * * * * The Grand Master commands me to add that he has communicated to the Gr. L. the sentiments here conveyed, as well as the course he felt compelled to adopt, and that the Gr. L. with one accord declared its full assent. * * * * * He laments the occurrences which, for a time, unfortunately impede the wonted intercourse.” * * * * Dated London, 4th Sept. 1846.
The periodical from which the above is extracted, among other very liberal and pertinent remarks on this noble letter, and the Berlin reply, observes, “The letter itself,” (meaning the Berlin reply,) “occupying four pages, is not worth recording, and we have no wish to promulgate so un-masonic a document, nor do we wish to place upon record that which we know the Prussian Freemasons are ashamed of.” * * * “In the mean time, it affords us great pleasure to be able to state that the members of the Pilgrim Lodge of London, No. 289, which works in the German Language, and of which the late Prussian representative brother Hebeler was master, have, since the publicity given to the anti-masonic Prussian doctrine, altered their mode of initiation, and do not now compel the candidate to make a declaration of his religion, previously to his being admitted. We were surprised at its not being altered before, considering the immediate P. G. R. of England is a member of the Lodge. The Most Worshipful Master’s determined conduct has already produced a good effect. All honour to him, as well as to brother Henry Faudel, the stalwart champion of the Jewish Freemasons.”
It is proper to add that this gentleman, (Henry Faudel,) is himself a Jew, a partner and brother-in-law to Mr. B. Phillips, the recently elected Common Councilman, of whose appointment I have furnished you with an account above.
The Great Synagogue, Duke’s Place, has had the liberality and good taste to vote an increase of salary to the Chief Rabbi, and the other German Synagogues are expected to contribute in their due proportions. It is proposed also to augment the present inadequate stipends of the Dayanim, who, considering the dignity and importance of their respective duties, have hitherto been but very indifferently paid.—The “Jewish Chronicle” gives a very ample and interesting report of an important meeting held at Liverpool to celebrate the anniversary of the “Hebrew Philanthropic Society,” at which some very eloquent speeches were made on the subject of Jewish Emancipation by the Rev. Dr. Raphall of Birmingham, H. T. Atkinson, Esquire, an eminent Barrister, and several other distinguished Jews and Christians: the great length to which I have already extended this communication precludes the possibility of my making any extract, but as I presume you regularly receive the Anglo-Jewish periodicals; I beg to call your attention to this report as contained in the “Jewish Chronicle.”
The Committee of the Jews and General Literary and Scientific Institution have put forth a very tempting programme for their anniversary fete, which will come off on the 20th inst. I shall endeavour to give you some account of it in my next. The Portuguese Beth Holim Hospital Ball will take place the night succeeding; they are both deserving objects, and will, I trust, meet with the best encouragement. This is also the season for holding the anniversaries of several other Jewish Institutions, namely, the Blind Asylum, Infant School, and Orphan Asylum, each of which is celebrated by a grand Public Ball. I shall refer more particularly to some of these Charities in my future correspondence. O.