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בס"ד

Literary Notices.

 

Records of Israel, by Grace Aguilar, 18mo. pages 139, London, John Mortimer. The readers of the Occident, even those who have not had the pleasure of perusing the Spirit of Judaism, which we published about two years ago, must have been delighted with the occasional contributions from the pen of Miss Aguilar, which form, we believe, the first series of poetical effusions in the spirit of Judaism in the English language. We trust, therefore, that with us, they will hail the new production which Miss A. has given to the world under the above title. It is not large, but it needs not a big book to leave an indelible impression on the mind; and we are sure that that Jewish heart must be flinty indeed which cannot be moved to a sense of ardour by the portraiture of the sorrows and sufferings the Spanish Inquisition (we use no epithet, for not one can express the horror and loathing with which we view it,) caused our unhappy race to experience from its first active institution under the monster Torquemada, by Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492, down to its virtual extinction within late years.

The “Records” are two portraitures of character, drawn with historical accuracy, of the “Edict” in 1492, and the “Escape,” an event laid by the authoress during the great earthquake at Lisbon, in 1755. The characters are merely introduced to give effect to history, not to unfold a romance; the tales are simply, as Miss A. says in her preface, “what their name implies, ‘Records’ of a people, of whose modern history so little is known.” And as such, therefore, they ought to be judged, and not as perfect specimens of “narration,” to which Miss A. did not aspire. There are certainly defects in the work, and we share in the main, the remarks of our contemporary the “Voice of Jacob:”

“We like these tales best of those written by Miss Aguilar on such themes; though fair criticism obliges us to suggest a little more habitual caution in the gifted author’s exposition of what are, in reality, Jewish principles and opinions. In the book before us, we have only observed, that a homicide, (if not a murderer,) is allowed by a Jewish community to escape even without trial! This is certainly anti-Jewish and capable of being wrested into a support of the maudlin and unscriptural disposition, just now fashionable, to evade the universal obligation of the Noachide precept, (Gen. 9. 6,) “whoso sheddeth man's blood,” &c. The simulation of Catholicism is also anti-Jewish, and, although, unhappily, such things have been, (nay, if we may believe Mr. Borrow, still are,) we should have liked to see Miss A. expressing that severe condemnation of such hypocrisy, which we are quite sure she thinks due to it.”

Nevertheless we owe our valued correspondent many thanks for having, in a measure, endeavoured to supply that species of fiction for the rending of our younger branches, which she so well recommends in her Spirit of Judaism.—With these brief remarks, we must take our leave for the present, earnestly recommending the Records to the kindness of our readers.

(To be continued.)