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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

For the superstitions and impostures of Rome

two, as there is between that

which is material, and that which is spiritual. A Jew is so thoroughly bound, heart and soul, by the spell which the phenomena of his race exert upon him, that, humanly speaking, it is impossible to make anything of him in the matter of Christianity. And herein, in his own way of thinking, consists his peculiar glory. Such being the case with Christianity, it is not to be supposed that the Jew would forsake his own religion, and, of course, his own people, and believe in any religion having an origin in the spontaneous and gradual growth of superstition and imposture, modified, systematized, adorned, or expanded, by ambitious and superior minds, or almost wholly in the conceptions of these minds; having, for a foundation, an instinct--an intellectual and emotional want--as common to man, as instinct is to the brute creation, for the ends which it has to serve. We cannot separate the questions of race and belief, when we consider the Jews as a people, however it might be with individuals among them. It was as unreasonable to persecute a Jew, for not giving up his feelings as a Jew, and his religion, for the superstitions and impostures of Rome, as it was to persecute a Gipsy, for not giving up his feelings of nationality, and his language, as was specially attempted by Charles III., of Spain: for such are inherent in the respective races. The worst that can be said of any Gipsy, in the matter of religion, is, when we meet with one who admits that all that he really cares for is,
"to get a good belly-full, and to feel comfortable o' nights." Here, we have an original soil to be cultivated; a soil that can be cultivated, if we only go the right way about doing it. Out of such a man, there is no other spirit to be cast, but that of "the world, the flesh, and the devil," before another can take up its habitation in his mind. Bigoted as is the Jew against even entertaining the claims of Christ, as the Messiah, he is very indifferent to the practice, or even the knowledge, of his own religion, where he is tolerated and well-treated, as in the United States of America. Of the growing-up, or even the grown-up, Jews in that country, the ultra-Jewish organ, the "Jewish Messenger," of New York, under date the 19th October, 1860, says that, "with the exception of a very few, who are really taught their religion, the great majority, we regret to state, know no more of their faith than the veriest heathen:" and, I might add, practise less of it; for, as a people, they pay very little regard to it, in general, or to the Sabbath, in particular, but are characterized as worldly beyond measure; having more to answer for than the Gipsy, whose sole care is "a good meal, and a comfortable crib at night."[313]

[313] The following extract from "Leaves from the Diary of a Jewish Minister," published in the above-mentioned journal, on the 4th April, 1862, may not be uninteresting to the Christian reader:

"In our day, the conscience of Israel is seldom troubled; it is of so elastic a character, that, like gutta percha, it stretches and is compressed, according to the desire of its owner. We seldom hear of a troubled conscience. . . . . Not that we would assert that our people are without a conscience; we merely state that we seldom hear of its troubles. It is more than probable, that when the latent feeling is aroused on matters of religion, and for a moment they have an idea that 'their soul is not well,' they take a hom[oe]opathic dose of spiritual medicine, and then feel quite convalescent."

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