Eight Years in Asia and Africa from 1846-1855 (Classic Reprint)
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Excerpt from Eight Years in Asia and Africa From 1846-1855
One of the most pleasing contemplations of our time is to see abuses, which have existed for thousands of years, corrected and prejudices sanctioned by numberless centuries removed. The sun of enlightenment begins to reach theﬂ'emotest parts of the earth, and warms with its rays objects and conditions, which appeared to have been condemned for ever to an icy death like life. In simple words: Science now more than ever makes its salutary inﬂuence felt, and all that does not rest upon that foundation, finds its very continuation threatened. Whereever it can be applied one knows beforehand to which side victory will finally incline; and it is this conviction that spurs on to ever fresh exertion, and ever inspires fresh courage for continued combat against everything false and bad; whether it appears to us in the form of prejudice, of abuse, of oppression or of vice. The para visited by Herr J. J. Benjamin, the countries of the East, ofi'er to that exertion an immeasurable field; all that debases mankind has held there for centuries an undisturbed sway, and created such confusion in the notions of right and wrong, that for the present one dare not hope for a speedy removal of this fistful cdndition of society. Fanaticism stands forth there in in most repulsive form, and often with bloody finger mcesthehorrorsofitserrorsonthepagesofhistory. Fight, not right, takes the precedence; and he, who poasesses not the former, can never obtain the latter. Before all others it is especially so with the Jews, who, everywhere dispersed, in no place forming a are exposed to all the wretchedness of arbitrary government. Only in a few places, such as Bagdad, do they enjoy a happier condition, and develop there an activity and prosperity, which is as advantageous to themselves as it is for the places in which they have settled. In most places however our Benjamin found his co-religionists crushed under the weight of ar bitrary oppression, here and there even in absolute slavery, others only in name belonging to that great sect, whose traditions have exercised the most abiding inﬂuence upon mankind. The deepest resentment takes possession of the philanthropist at the description of such a condition; and filled with pity he looks around for the means to remedy such a state of things. Happily these lie nearer than a super ficial consideration of the subject would incline us to suppose; they consist first in the removal of prejudices, under which the Jews still groan even in some of the most advanced parts of Europe. Every man of enlightenment, in whatever circle of society he may move, can do his part towards this; and as the great statesman, Lord Stratford de Radcliffe assured the British Parliament on the 27 April 1858, it is our failure hitherto in removing the fetters of prejudice in Western Countries, which binds the hands of the friends of religious freedom and political equality of the Jews in the East. When the furtherance of such a sacred purpose is in question, surely it behoves every enlightened man to contribute joy fully his mite. Arguments in favour of his doing so are not wanting; for the learning of the last years have supplied them abundantly. Moreover the Jews, in every place where they have been put on a footing of equality with other religious sects, have developed an industry, attended by the most happy results for those countries which have ac corded this act of justice; and this has authorised the poli tical economist to ask with good reason: If it would not.
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