To the Editor:
Edward Alexander’s search for anti-Semites among early 19th-century humanist writers [“George Eliot's Rabbi,” July] unearthed the wrong man in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a philo-Semite, devoting many pages of The Friend to his belief that the early Hebrews were far more cultivated, literary, and individualistic than the early Greeks (Friend 1, 501-24, ed. Barbara E. Rooke  in The Collected Coleridge, vol. 4); translating Hebrew hymns with his friend and collaborator Hyman Hurwitz; and writing the following paean to individual liberty in The Courier, June 18, 1816:
If it be true that the Senate of Lubeck have ordered the Jews settled there to leave that city, we can only remark that Lubeck deserves to be deprived of her title and privileges as a free and independent city. In the first place, it is a direct violation of the 16th Article of the German Confederation, by which it is declared that the Jews should continue in the full enjoyment of all their present rights and privileges, and await a further decision. In the second place, it is a shocking outrage upon the principles of humanity and hospitality. It is not pretended that this expulsion is for any crimes committed. But even that charge could not apply to a whole community—to the aged, the infirm, the female, and the infant. We have ever thought that the treatment which the Jews have received has been a disgrace to all countries and to all nations. The fate of never having a home—of being a people without a people’s country—of being dispersed over every part of the world, is hard enough. But to have superadded the fate of being treated as criminals and outcasts—of having the punishment of guilt without the commission of guilt—of having their very names pass into a synonym for all that is bad and tricking, and false and foul—to be the mock and scorn of the rabble—to have “the very dogs bark at them” as they pass, is a degree of suffering to which no race were ever exposed from the creation of the world. And this has been their lot for ages. If they have been hard and griping in their dealings, may it not have been occasioned by the treatment they have received? To treat men as if they were incapable of virtue is to make them so. If it be said that the Almighty has decreed them to be wanderers and outcasts, we reply that that Divine Being has nowhere told us to persecute them. If we wish to make them Christians, is persecution the best method? Is the severe treatment they have received from Christians the most likely way to dispose them in favor of the Christian Religion? We trust that a better and a kinder system will be adopted, and that if the age we live in, be in deeds, and not only in words, the enlightened age it is said to be, it will be shewn in a juster treatment of the Jews (Essays on his Own Times, ed. David Erdman , 3, 144-5 in The Collected Coleridge, vol. 3).
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