HC Deb 19 April 1872 vol 210 cc1585-604

, in rising, pursuant to Notice, to call attention to the continued ill-treatment of the Jews of Roumania and Servia in defiance of the Treaties under which those States are constituted, and to move an Address for Papers, said: Sir, as 1 consider it a grave breach of duty on the part of any hon. Member to waste the time of the House, I am desirous in the first instance to give two reasons for thinking that, although the occurrences to which I am about to draw attention took place abroad, and were therefore not within the direct jurisdiction of Parliament, I shall nevertheless not be throwing time away in bringing them to your notice. My first reason is, that they do not fall under the ordinary description of proceedings in foreign countries with which England as a State has no concern; but that they are, as mentioned in my Notice of Motion, a series of infractions of treaties to which this country, together with the other Great Powers, was a party, and that accordingly the British Government and Parliament have a right to express an opinion upon them. My second reason is the earnest desire of the sufferers by these persecutions, that what they have endured should be brought to the knowledge of this House. In 1867 and 1868, when the present Lord Derby, then Lord Stanley, was Foreign Minister, I had the honour of directing to similar events the attention of the House; and those who suffered persecution in the countries to which I refer, thought that the course I had then taken was at least of some temporary advantage to them. Since the renewal of these persecutions, I have received from the Jews in Roumania and Servia the strongest entreaties to bring their cases again under the consideration of the British Government and of Parliament. And, Sir, when I contrast the condition of my religious community here with their condition in Servia and Roumania—when I remember that we are here not only in the enjoyment of all civil and political rights, but that several of us have also the honour of being Members of this Assembly, and can, in this place, make our voices heard, and that, on the other hand, in Servia our brethren are cooped up in one corner of the territory, and that in Roumania they are deprived of all security for their houses, their property, and even their families and their lives—I cannot, I must own, resist the appeal which has been made to me. I do not think I am at liberty to deny to tens of thousands of men of my own race and faith any chance of improving, in however slight a degree, their position, which may arise from the opportunities afforded me by the liberal policy of the United Kingdom, by the confidence of an English constituency, and by the sympathy of the House of Commons with the oppressed. I have said, Sir, that the proceedings of which I complain are a series of infractions of treaties; and in order to establish this so far as respects Roumania, it is fortunately only necessary that I should read a few lines from the Convention of the 19th of August, 1858, under which the Principaltities received their present organization. The 46th Article of that Convention begins as follows:— All Moldavians and Wallachians shall be equal in the eye of the law and with regard to taxation, and shall be equally admissible to public employments in both Principalities. Their individual liberty shall be guaranteed. No one can be detained, arrested, or prosecuted, but in conformity with the law. No one can be deprived of his property, unless legally, for causes of public interest, and on payment of indemnification. Moldavians and Wallachians of all Christian confessions shall equally enjoy political rights. The enjoyment of these rights may he extended to other religions by legislative arrangements. The provision withholding from non-Christians, in the first instance, political rights appears to me to have been very unfortunate, as it tended to foster the idea of the Jews being an inferior race, and to encourage persecution. But this provision ought at least to have had one good effect, by rendering it impossible to contend, as the Roumanian Government, and even its tribunals have some time since attempted to contend, that "all Moldavians and Wallachians" at the commencement of the 46th Article means only Christian Moldavians and Wallachians. The distinction is as clear as language can make it. The Article promises all civil rights, security of property, and even admission to all public employments to all Moldavians and Wallachians irrespective of creed; while political rights were confined, in the absence of subsequent legislation, to Christians. But although this was what was promised, the performance has been different indeed. About 14 years have elapsed since that Convention was entered into. During the last six years of that period, and contemporaneously I am sorry to say with the beginning of the rule of the present Prince Charles—although I must not be understood as attributing any blame to that Prince—persecutions of the Jews commenced. In July, 1867, and April, 1868—[3 Hansard, clxxxviii. 1136 & cxci. 1242]—I brought this subject before the House, and I desire to read a short abstract of what I stated on the latter occasion, because my statements derive an authority which in themselves they could not possess, from their having been made in Lord Stanley's presence, and assented to by him. I said, that in May, 1867, the Roumanian Minister of the Interior, Bratiano, revived, by his own authority, old laws which had been abrogated, forbidding Jews to dwell in rural districts, and directed that they should be expelled from houses and land of which they were lessees or proprietors, and that after they had been driven lawlessly from their homes, he directed that they should be illegally condemned and punished as vagabonds; that in June, 1867, the Court of Appeal at Jassy set aside one of these condemnations, but that the Circular had never been revoked, and that the persecution had from time to time been renewed; that in June, 1867, 200 Jews were beaten at the moment of Prince Charles's entry into Jassy; that in the following month 10 Jews, believed by the Consuls to be native Roumanians, but alleged by the Roumanians to be vagabonds from Turkey, were taken from Galatz to a marshy island in the Danube, where one of them perished; that the survivors were sent back to Galatz by the Turkish authorities, and that in a struggle between the Turkish boatmen, who wished to land the unhappy Jews, and the Roumanians, who would not receive them, they were all thrown into the water, and two were drowned; that in October, 1867, a wholesale expulsion of Jews from the villages round Galatz took place by order of the Prefect; that about the same time the Mayor of Jassy, reviving an obsolete law, which prohibited Jews from keeping Christian servants, fined a respectable banker for disobeying it; that in December, 1867, the death of a child at Kalarsch led to the revival of the mediaeval calumny that Christian blood was used in Jewish ceremonies, and that the propagators of what was shown by the Report of a Government Commission to be a slander were never punished; that early in 1868, 120 families, of most of whose names I had lists, were driven in an inclement season from their houses in the districts of Vaslen and Bacao; and that the Prefects who had authorized these atrocities had been retained, while those free from persecuting tendencies had been removed. The present Lord Derby, then Foreign Secretary, condensing, as he could so well, into a few sentences the facts of a case, said— There is only one other subject to which I will advert, and that is the one which the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Francis Goldsmid) introduced—namely, the persecution, for it is nothing less, of the Jewish race, which is carried on at present in the Principalities. I can assure the hon. Baronet that he cannot feel upon that subject more strongly than I do. I really think it is a question which concerns Christians even more than Jews, because if the suffering falls upon the Jew the disgrace falls upon the Christian. I know of no instance in our times of a series of oppressive acts committed so completely—I will not say merely without any provocation, but, so far as I can see, without any reasonable and intelligible motive whatever. In so far as those acts were connived at, or encouraged by the local officials, or, as I fear must have been the case, in some instances by the Roumanian Government itself, I can only explain that connivance or encouragement by the tendency of a weak, and not very scrupulous, Government, to trade upon the worst popular passions."—[3 Hansard, cxci., 1267–8.] The noble Lord then expressed a hope that the continued representations of the British and other Governments would prove successful; but I regret to say that this hope has been only partially realized. In July, 1869, a series of wholesale expulsions of Jews from rural districts occurred, as to which Mr. Layard, then Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, promised, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Sir David Salomons), that representations should be made by the British Government. Between that time and the present year I am not aware that any remarkable instance of absolute violence occurred; but the Jews were subjected to restrictions, conflicting in many cases with the Roumanian Constitution, and in all with the Convention to which the State owed its existence. They have been excluded from the Bar, from rank in the Army, from educational appointments from medical posts, and, during the last few weeks from the right to employ their co-religionists in the sale of tobacco. I now come to the violent proceedings of the present year. On the 2nd of January last, some silver vessels, valued at 10 ducats, were stolen from the Cathedral of Ismaïl—a town in that part of Bessarabia which was ceded by Russia to Moldavia by the Treaty of Paris of March, 1856—by a Russian named Silber, or Silbermann. The Roumanian Government have thought it worth while, in their answer to a Note from the Consuls, to state that this man was a Jew. I am informed, how-ever, that it is the fact, and that he has admitted in his last examination, that, though a Jew by birth, he has long abandoned his ancestral faith. The thief at various times accused the President of the Jewish Synagogue, the Rabbi, and two other Jewish residents, of having incited him to the act, and the vessels were found in sewers attached to their residences. I need hardly comment on the extreme improbability of the charge. It cannot be supposed that members of a race forming hardly a fifth of the population of the town, and surrounded by persons zealous for what they call religion, though it is very unlike Christianity as understood in Western Europe, would venture on such an act. If gain had been the object, it follows, almost of course, that more valuable articles, which it is admitted were close at hand, would have been taken. If the purpose had been to insult Christianity, and yet to escape unpunished, what short of madness could have led to the instigators of the crime causing to be hidden in the immediate neighbourhood of their own residences the stolen vessels which might have been so easily destroyed? The author of an able statement on this subject, recently published by the Anglo-Jewish Association remarks, that if Joseph's cup was found in Benjamin's sack, it was because Joseph had directed that it should be put there. It might, it seems to me, be still more apposite to cite a newer, though less authentic narrative—Dickens' "Old Curiosity Shop" where Sampson Brass hides a £5 note in the lining of the hat of the boy whom he immediately afterwards accuses of the theft. I insist on the absurdity of the charge against the President and the Rabbi of the synagogue of Ismail, because their unjust condemnation by a Roumanian jury is one of the grievances of which I have to complain, and not because, if the accusation had been true, it could have formed any justification for the outrages on the whole Jewish population which followed in the last week of January, and which are thus described—I am assured not untruly—by the sufferers— An excited mob rushed through the streets, sparing neither infirm old age, trembling women, nor infants at their mothers' breasts. Helpless and unresisting Jews were treated in the most inhuman manner; wives and daughters were violated before the eyes of their husbands and parents; houses were plundered; sacred places were desecrated, and the rolls of the law carried away; even the rest of the dead was disturbed, and the burial place destroyed. Many persons have succumbed to their wounds; dishonoured women are hiding their shame in cellars; sick and wounded men are lying in miserable dwellings, the doors and windows of which are broken down, without a straw mat even on which to stretch their limbs, without a pillow, without covering. Hundreds of others who have been cruelly ill-treated are wandering homeless through the streets, begging at the doors of the few who have been spared, or who have suffered in a less degree. In two other towns where similar outrages have occurred—Vilcow and Cahul—there has not even been the pretext of a preliminary accusation. In Vilcow, a fishing village not far from Ismail, the Jews were driven off and robbed, suffering losses to the extent of £8,000. In Cahul, a town of 7,000 inhabitants, of whom 1,000 are supposed to be Jews, scenes of the same character have occurred. The soldiers attempted to escort the Jews to the barracks; but the mob broke through the soldiers—who did not offer any resistance—and ill-treated the Jews, who are stated to have afterwards remained for three days in the barracks without food. If the matter were not too serious, it might be thought that the municipalities tried to give a touch of comedy to these tragic scenes, for while the unfortunate Jews had been expelled from their houses, robbed of nearly all they possessed, and were dependent for food upon the charity of their neighbours, the municipalities, who had been unable or unwilling to protect them, stuck up on the deserted dwellings the usual forms of notice demanding the payment of taxes. Upon a Government investigation into the charge against the Jews accused of theft at Ismaïl, they were pronounced entirely guiltless, and were set free. A few weeks afterwards, however, they were re-arrested and ordered to undergo a jury trial. Immediately on this taking place, Mr. Peixotto, the United States Consul at Bucharest—a Jewish gentleman who, I understand, was induced by his wish to ameliorate the condition of his oppressed Roumanian brethren to give up an excellent practice as barrister in America, in order to accept the almost unpaid office he now holds—wrote to me that the case of the accused was hopeless, as no Jew would ever be acquitted by a Roumanian jury. The prediction has been verified, for I have, within the last two or three days, received a telegram informing me, not only that the accused Jews have been convicted, but also that the rioters of Vilcow have been acquitted. It may be worth while to observe that all the recent riots have occurred in that part of Bessarabia which was ceded by Russia to Moldavia by the Treaty of Paris. Russia, as we all know, succeeded last year in getting rid of the neutralization of the Black Sea; and we have lately been informed that she contemplates the re-building of the fortifications of Sebastopol. These facts have suggested an idea that she may also desire to get rid of a third portion of the Treaty by resuming possession of this part of Bessarabia. Certain it is that these riots were preceded by the publication of a pamphlet pointing out what a great disadvantage it was to the district in ques- tion to be severed from the great Empire of Russia and annexed to petty Roumania. It has further been surmised, not of course that the Government of Russia, but that some individuals acting in the supposed interests of Russia, had something to do with the instigation of the riots with the view of facilitating the execution of the project referred to, by disgraceful outrages occurring in the coveted district, and demonstrating the incompetency of the Roumanian Government to rule it. On these conjectures I offer no opinion. I content myself with expressing the hope that Russia would show her utter disgust at any such manifestations by joining in the representations which, in my opinion, all the guaranteeing Powers should make to the Roumanian Government. With respect to Servia, nothing new has occurred; but a wrong of some years standing is persevered in, and is still keenly felt by those on whom it is inflicted. The 28th Article of the Treaty of Paris, guaranteeing to Servia full liberty of worship there, has apparently been always understood by the Christian majority of Servians to mean freedom for themselves, together with the right of oppressing the Jews. In March, 1867—[3 Hansard, clxxxvi. 838]—I brought the subject before the House, and stated that the Jews, who, under the rule of Prince Milosch, as well as previously, had been allowed to inhabit every part of Servia, had since 1861 been shut up in a corner of Belgrade. I added that— This conduct of the Servians of influence really originated in a jealousy of Jewish traders, who, either from being more clever in business or from being contented with smaller profits than their competitors, were able to provide the Servian peasants with the necessaries they required on cheaper terms than their rivals. It was thus self-interest which was clothing itself in the garb of religious zeal—a kind of hypocrisy more contemptible than bigotry, if it could not be more mischievous."—[Ibid. 841.] During the same debate, Lord Stanley said— The hon. Baronet has adverted to the most material features of the question, and I believe that his statement is fair and accurate. I am quite sure that the feeling of the House will be unanimous in cordially and sincerely sympathising with the object he has in view. I quite agree that we have a moral right to give advice to the Government and people of Servia.…. I can only confirm what has been stated by the hon. Baronet as to the laws now in force in Servia regulating and restricting the occupations of the Jewish community; and I do not think that the hon. Baronet has characterized those laws in terms which are too strong for the occasion. I am afraid it is impossible to deny that the conduct of the Servian people, in regard to the Jewish community residing amongst them, has been utterly unworthy of a people who reasonably and justly aspire to take their place amongst the civilized communities of Europe."—[Ibid. 844.] He went on to express hopes that the pressure of European public opinion would produce improvement. These hopes have, however, been disappointed. I have within the last few weeks received a communication from Servia describing the severe hardship which the Jews endure from being confined to one quarter of Belgrade, and thus prevented from following their callings; and I have been implored to bring the matter under the notice of the House. And now, Sir, having described, as shortly as I could, the condition of my brethren in Roumania and Servia, I desire to make some few observations which these facts suggest. Our first feeling on our attention being drawn to them, must, it seems to me, be one of astonishment at finding that in the course of a week's journey we might be brought face to face with events which, in Western Europe, we could only have encountered if we had been born six or seven centuries ago; in the reign of Richard I., which was disgraced by tumultuous slayings of Jews in London and York; or under the rule of John, who, when he wanted money, drew, not cheques on his bankers, but teeth from the jaws of the Jew; or in the days of Edward I., who expelled the Jews wholesale from England; or at the time of the alleged crucifixion of Christian children at Gloucester and St. Edmunds-bury; or when the Crusaders, going to the Holy Land to rescue it from the Infidels, prepared themselves for their sacred work by murdering the Jews whom they met on the road. But I submit that it is quite time to inform the Roumanians that, although these acts might suit the 12th or 13th century, similar proceedings cannot be endured in the 19th; that no people can expect to enjoy at once the blessings of civilization and the pleasures of barbarism; that they cannot be permitted, on the one hand, to have a popular representation, and to bargain keenly for the terms on which the locomotive and the railway are to be introduced among them, and on the other hand to revel in the luxuries of beating and robbing, and insulting the wives and daughters of those whose religious opinions they disapprove; and of using a pretence of trial by jury to convict them of serious offences without evidence or against evidence. And I venture to suggest that the time has now arrived when some more decided step should be taken. We have had, during the last six years, enough, and more than enough, of fair promises broken, and of fair hopes disappointed. Under the 27th Article of the Treaty of Paris, and the 8th Article of the Convention of August, 1858, the guaranteeing Powers have the full right to authorize Turkey to intervene for the purpose of restoring internal order in Roumania. If they refrain from so strong a step, it does, I own, appear to me that they should at least make jointly a representation to Roumania, or even send there a Joint High Commission with a view to putting a stop to a state of things which is a discredit to our age, and of which—in Lord Stanley's emphatic words—"if the suffering falls upon the Jew the disgrace falls upon the Christian." I have now, Sir, only to thank the House for the favourable attention with which it has heard me, and to move for the production of all recent Correspondence between Her Majesty's Secretary of State and Her Diplomatic Agents Abroad respecting the condition of the Jews in Roumania and Servia.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that there may be laid before this House, Copies of any Correspondence respecting the condition and treatment of the Jews in Roumania and Servia which have passed between Her Majesty's Secretary of State and Her Diplomatic Agents Abroad, during the present year,"—(Sir Francis Goldsmid,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, it was not because he doubted that there was a sufficient number of hon. Members of the Jewish profession in that House to do ample justice to the cause of the Jews, that he asked to say a few words on this subject; but because it concerned the character of Christian legislators, that some of them should take that oppor- tunity of expressing their indignant abhorrence of the atrocities which had been described by the hon. Baronet the Member for Reading, for it was a stigma on the civilization of the 19th century that such things should be possible in any part of Europe. He had always felt that the treatment of Jews in former days, which, in that respect at least, might be called the "Dark Ages," formed one of the most shameful chapters in the history of Christendom—he was going to say of Christianity. But it was not Christianity that prompted or sanctioned those doings, but a ghastly and cruel superstition which had usurped its name; and certainly one would have hoped that in no part of Christendom at the present day could there have been a repetition of such scenes. But in that respect they had been undeceived by the facts stated by the hon. Baronet, which were given more fully in the pamphlet which had been circulated among hon. Members of the House. He agreed with the hon. Baronet that it was a matter of very little consequence whether the accusations brought against individual Jews were well founded or not. There might be unworthy and dishonest Jews in Roumania, as there were plenty of unworthy and dishonest Christians in Great Britain; but that was no reason why the whole race should be treated as outlaws, banished from their homes, plundered of their property, deprived of their legal rights, their men murdered, and their women subjected to treatment which would not bear description. Moreover, that policy was as stupid as it was atrocious, for they knew that in every country where the Jewish race had been treated with ordinary justice, they had not only contributed largely to its material wealth, but had distinguished themselves highly in philosophy, literature, art, and government. In this country there was no class of the community more orderly, loyal, and law-abiding than the Jews; and if there were in that House any hon. Gentlemen who had formerly opposed—strenuously, and, no doubt, conscientiously—the admission of the Jews to Parliament, he (Mr. Richard) thought they must admit that the consequences which they had anticipated had proved groundless. Were there, he would ask, any hon. Gentlemen in the House of Commons more respected or more entitled to respect than hon. Mem- bers of the Jewish religion? But the question was, what was to be done. The best thing that the members of the Jewish persuasion in this country could do was to make an appeal to the public opinion of the civilized world. It might be asked, what was the use of opinion! He would answer in the words of Lord Palmerston—words all the more forcible because Lord Palmerston was supposed to represent a different policy— It is true it may be asked, what are opinions against arms? My opinion is, that opinions are stronger than arms. Opinions, if they are founded in truth and justice, will in the end prevail against the bayonets of infantry, the fire of artillery, and the charges of cavalry. In accordance with that opinion he believed that the public opinion of Europe would prevail likewise against the unjust laws and persecuting practices of Roumania. If the Jews throughout Europe were to make an appeal to the Christian consciences of the nations, there would, he believed, be such a response as could not fail to smite with terror and dismay those who had been thus persecuting their brethren. At any rate, he hoped that from this House would go forth to-night no uncertain sound, and that it would be understood that they viewed with execration conduct of which, in the words of Lord Stanley, it might be said that "though it was the Jews who suffered, it was the Christians who were disgraced."


said, his hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had with great truth and perfect accuracy depicted the sufferings of his co-religionists in these Principalities. He had hardly exaggerated the sufferings which they had undergone at different times during the last 12 years, but he (Viscount Enfield) thought the points to which the attention of the House ought more properly to be directed were the sufferings and persecutions they had undergone during the present year, and the steps which Her Majesty's Government had taken, either singly or conjointly with the Powers which signed the Convention of the 18th of August, 1868, to mitigate the sufferings of the Jewish population of those districts. On considering what sufferings the Jewish populations of these Principalities had undergone during the last 10 years, he thought it would be a subject of congratulation to both sides of the House that our Foreign Secretary, whether Lord Russell, Lord Clarendon, or Lord Stanley, had always and consistently given strong instructions to the different Consuls residing in the Principality of Servia to bring under the notice of the local authorities the sufferings and persecutions the Jews had undergone, and to express in strong and indignant language the deep regret and mortification which Her Majesty's Government felt that the Jewish population of those parts of the world were subjected to such unmerited sufferings. His hon. Friend (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had, with perfect truth, reminded the House of the Guarantee of the 18th of August, 1868. The 25th Article of that Treaty declared that the Christians of Moldavia and Wallachia should enjoy political rights, but the enjoyment of those rights was to be extended to persons of all other religions by legislative enactment. We had, therefore, the clearest right to demand from the Prince of Servia and from the Prince of Roumania the faithful execution of that treaty, which declared that political liberty should be enjoyed by Jews as well as Christians in those districts. His hon. Friend had narrated the events of the present year of course, from information supplied to him by his own friends; and it was only right that he (Viscount Enfield) should assure the House that, substantially, all his hon. Friend had said had been confirmed by our Consul, Mr. Green. In the early part of January it was true that an act of robbery was committed by a Jew in the Cathedral of Ismaïl, and not only were the feelings of the Christian population aroused, but a violent and unprovoked onslaught made on the Jewish population. But there was this curious fact—that although a robbery was committed, so many valuables were left in the church as to give colour to the statement that robbery was not the object of the act, but sacrilege. The feeling of excitement spread, the Jews were subjected to every sort of indignity, and several lives were lost. The feeling of indignation spread to other towns. At Cahul, near Galatz, the Jews were plundered, and subjected to every sort of indignity; their houses were burnt; they took refuge in barracks; several lives were lost; there were three days' rioting; and if troops had not come from Galatz, in all probability there would have been a wholesale massacre of the Jewish population. Our Consul at once urged the local authority in the strongest manner to repress these disorders. At the request of the American Consul a meeting was held in the House of our Consul, Mr Green, to prepare an appeal to Prince Charles and his Government, to do all in their power to afford sufficient protection to the Jewish population. On the 11th of March, Mr. Green called the attention of M. Catargi, the Roumanian Prime Minister, to the fact that men supposed to have been ringleaders in this riot had not been punished, that false charges continued to be made against the Jews, that they had been thrown into prison, and that the orders of the Government for the restoration of their property had not been complied with. The reply he received was to the effect that it would be necessary to take legal proceedings, that the Prefects of Ismail and Cahul had been dismissed, and that the crime of sacrilege should be punished, if proved against the Jew then in custody. On the 20th of March, Mr. Green further stated to the local authorities the painful impressions which had been created in the minds of Her Majesty's Government by the petition of the Jews to Prince Charles, and that Her Majesty's Government could not but believe that such barbarities had occurred through the remissness of the Roumanian authorities. M. Catargi rejoined that energetic measures had been taken; that the Procureurs of Bucharest and Fochshany had gone to inquire into the subject; but he hoped that many of the Jewish accusations, if not unfounded, were at any rate exaggerated. Mr. Green rejoined that no answer had been returned to the joint Note of the Foreign Representatives of the 19th of February. M. Cartargi said answers should be sent when translations were made. On the 26th of March, Mr. Green reported that 46 of the rioters who had been imprisoned for having taken part in these riots had been set at liberty. He thought the House, therefore, would agree with him that Mr. Green had done all in his power to bring before the Roumanian local authorities their remissness in not punishing the offenders or not taking adequate steps for the pro-action of the Jewish population. On the 12th of the present month, Mr. Green was instructed by telegraph to caution the Roumanian Government against the possible dangers which might arise at the Feast of the Passover on the 22nd instant; and Her Majesty's Government urged him to represent to the authorities, that it was their imperative duty to take every step for the prevention of painful scenes and occurrences. Mr. Green reported a few days since, that the Roumanian Government had promised that adequate means should be taken to prevent a repetition of such scenes; but, not content with this, Her Majesty's Government sent a telegraphic instruction to their Representatives in Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Rome, to invite the powers to whom they were accredited to take the same view, and to send similar instructions to their own Representatives. He therefore hoped his hon. Friend and the House would think that the Government had thus taken every measure in their power to endeavour to impress upon the Roumanian authorities their sense of detestation of the scenes which had taken place, and had even impressed upon those authorities in the most imperative manner—as they were entitled to do—the opinion that it was their duty to give every adequate protection to the Jewish population. The hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard) had said with great truth that there was no class of her Majesty's subjects more loyal, peaceful, and charitable, than the Jewish community in this country; and it should not be forgotten that five months ago, when deep anxiety prevailed respecting the illness of the Prince of Wales, the Jewish population were the first to offer up prayers for the restoration to health of His Royal Highness. It would be a great disgrace to us as Christians if we did not adopt every means in our power to urge upon the Roumanian authorities their duty to bring the offenders to justice. He trusted his hon. Friend would not press for Papers, but would accept an assurance that the Government would continue to do all they could, by remonstrating through their Consul and the other Great Powers, to prevent the Jewish population of Roumania and Servia being again exposed to these persecutions.


considered the statement of the noble Lord to be extremely satisfactory, but suggested that it might be possible to do still more than was intended—to convince the Governments of the Principalities that unless their treaty obligations were carried out we should be prepared to take much more active steps in the matter. He wished to express his detestation of these cruelties, and as sacrilege was an easy way of exciting a semi-Christian population, he hoped the British Government would use its influence in urging such an inquiry as would throw the fullest light on the accusation referred to by the hon. Baronet opposite.


said, this was not a Jewish question, but a question of humanity and of Christianity, and his memory told him that for nearly 10 years there had been similar outrages to those now complained of. If the account which he had read, and which had been confirmed by the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was correct, the occurrences in question would be a disgrace to any civilized country in the world. The Government of Prince Charles appeared to have done all they could in the matter; they had tried to punish the offenders, and taken measures to prevent the recurrence of the offence. During the last 10 or 12 years there had been similar events and similar results; and he thought the time had come when other steps should be taken. By the Treaty of Paris, the Five Great Powers were to guarantee the independence of the Principalities; and, in addition, there was a far more stringent Treaty in which England, France, and Austria agreed to uphold the integrity of the Ottoman Empire against all attacks, collectively and separately. The Sultan was the Sovereign of the Principalities, and the protecting Powers had a right to call upon the Sultan to see that the system of government should be improved; and he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would not be contented with what they had already done, but that they would instruct their Ambassador to act with the other Ambassadors of the Great Powers, and to insist that the Government of Roumania should be brought within the pale of civilization, so that one of the most harmless, industrious, and talented races in the world might be secured from further violence.


said, it might naturally be supposed that he felt a deep personal interest in this matter, affecting, as it did, persons of his own race, and whose religious convictions he shared. He should, however, as an Englishman have felt it to be equally his duty to raise his voice in behalf of the victims of these outrages had they been members of a different religious communion. The blood and treasure of England and France had been expended in the Russian War, and the Jews of both countries had contributed their full quota in that cause. One of the issues of that war, it was believed, was the relief of the Roumanian population from Mahomedan despotism, and that they would, as a semi-independent State, be placed in the enjoyment of constitutional and religious freedom. The Jews, however, were much freer under Turkish rule than they had since been, for since the accession of the present ruler they had been subjected to systematic oppression not exceeded by anything that happened in the worst period of the Dark Ages. For 10 years their houses had been plundered, their synagogues destroyed, their women outraged, their persons assailed, and their lives sacrificed. By a strained interpretation of an article of the new Constitution they had been declared foreigners, disentitled to the political and religious freedom which the Treaty of Paris secured to all natives, and shut out even from the jus gentium which protected foreigners under the old Roman Empire. Without Consuls or foreign Powers to protect them, they had been left at the mercy of a semi-barbarous people, erected by the Great Powers into a semi-independent nation. Religious fanaticism and political intrigue had been levelled at this unoffending race. The only shadow of justification for these outrages, urged in a letter purporting to be written, he was ashamed to say, by an Englishman, was that the Jews were enterprizing and ambitious, and were hated in consequence by the nobles, who were described as indolent and vain. He had yet to learn that indolence and vanity were virtues, and calculated to advance a nation's prosperity and happiness, and that enterprize and ambition were unfavourable to a nation's well-being. Our own and other Governments had made strong remonstrances, and he was sensible of Earl Granville's readiness to do the utmost in his power; but, in spite of repeated representations, the outrages had been repeated, and repeated in an aggravated form. The noble Viscount (Viscount Enfield) had stated, of course, on the authority of the Consul, that the sacrilege at Ismail was committed by a Jew; but, according to information on which he (Mr. Serjeant Simon) could rely, it was committed, if at all, by a person of Jewish birth who, at the ago of 14, was baptized a Christian, and who was a deserter from the Russian Army. This person had, at the instigation of certain Roumanians, stolen a pyx and other sacred articles from a church, and had thrown them into the yard of a house inhabited by a Jewish Rabbi. Inquiry being made into the affair, this deserter from the Russian Army accused, in the first place, his employer, a tailor, of having committed the outrage; but, on being put to the torture, he accused the Rabbi and another Jewish gentleman. Now, it was an historical fact that the Jews had never been guilty of an aggression against the religious opinions of the nations among whom they lived, and it was most improbable that these gentlemen should have been guilty of this outrage in Roumania, where they lived from hour to hour upon sufferance, and have thus called down upon themselves the immediate vengeance of a hostile community. Moreover, a Jewish Rabbi held a high and venerated position, and it was just as probable that a Prelate of the Church of England would be guilty of sacrilege in a Roman Catholic place of worship, as that the gentleman in question should have been guilty of the charge that had been brought against him. The Rabbi and the gentleman, and some others who were charged with him, upon the evidence of this deserter, however, were taken into custody, and were convicted by a Roumanian jury, although the rioters who had pulled down the synagogues and the Jewish houses, who had violated the Jewish women, and had beaten and broken the limbs of the Jews themselves, were acquitted. Could a verdict given by a Roumanian jury under those circumstances of excitement be regarded as conclusive of the guilt of these gentlemen? Who would trust his life, or any interest he might hold dear, to the mercy of such a tribunal? During a long professional career at the Bar, he had had some experience in the verdicts of juries, and they all knew how difficult it was, even in this country, to obtain a right verdict from a jury in times when popular feeling was excited. What confidence, then, could be placed in the verdict of a Roumanian jury under such circumstances as those which they had heard? For his own part, he repudiated and denounced the so-called verdict which had condemned these unfortunate men as utterly valueless in point of truth, and as the result only of a wild fanaticism and of barbarous ignorance. If the evidence upon which the Rabbi and others had been convicted had come before an English Court of Justice, it would not have been deemed by any English Judge, or any jury of Englishmen, sufficient to entitle it even to consideration; the case would have been dismissed at once as unfounded and malicious. Yet it was upon this tainted evidence of a Russian deserter and convert from the Jewish religion, extracted under the pangs of torture, and varied from time to time, that men as honourable and respectable as any who now heard him, had been condemned to three years' imprisonment in a Roumanian dungeon. He called upon the Government of this country, as one of those which guaranteed the Roumanian Principalities, to bring the matter under the notice of the other Guaranteeing Powers, in order that a joint representation might be made to the Roumanian Government, to the effect that such outrages and misdeeds must cease, that they would not be permitted, and that security and freedom must be given, even to the Jews, in a country which was protected by the civilized nations of Europe.


expressed his concurrence in many of the views which had been expressed by his hon. Friends, and said he did not think that the English Government would be acting up to its duty, unless it did more than had been already done in this matter. He considered that, as one of the great Powers which had set up the Roumanian States, they ought to see that the provisions of the Convention were properly carried out, and, at all events, full compensation should be made to those Jews who had suffered loss and outrage. Whatever might be thought of these foreign treaties, he was of opinion that, when under them England had the power of doing an act of justice to a large section of the inhabitants of the Principalities, whom all admitted to be most worthy citizens, it was the duty of the Government to show that England did not enter into them for mere selfish purposes, but that, when necessary, this country would use its great influence to promote the civilization of the rest of Europe.


felt gratified at the statement made by the noble Lord of the proceedings taken by the representatives of the Foreign Office, and hoped that the discussion that had taken place would strengthen the hands of the Government in dealing with the case. England had always listened to the voice of the oppressed, and he trusted that in this case there would be a strong intervention, not by arms, but by representations in order to prevent the occurrence of such persecutions as had been described.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."