Burton Richard Francis - The jew, the gypsy and el Islam


Author : Burton Richard Francis
Title : The jew, the gypsy and el Islam
Year : 1898

Link download : Burton_Richard_Francis_-_The_jew_the_gypsy_and_el_Islam.zip

GOOD wine needs no bush,” and a good book needs no preface, least of all from any but the author’s pen. This is a rule more honoured in the breach than the observance nowadays, when many a classic appears weighed down and obscured by the unnecessary remarks and bulky commentaries of some unimportant editor. For my part it will suffice to give as briefly as possible the history of the MSS. now published for the first time in this volume. Sir Richard Burton was a voluminous writer. In addition to the forty-eight works published during his life, there remained at his death twenty MSS., some long and some short, in different stages of completion. A few were ready for press; others were finished to all intents and purposes, and only required final revision or a few additions; some were in a state of preparation merely, and for that reason may never see the light. Those in this volume belong to the second category. That so many of Burton’s MSS. were unpublished at the time of his death arose from his habit of working at several books at a time. In his bedroom, which also served as his study, at Trieste were some ten or twelve rough deal tables, and on each table were piled the materials and notes of a different book in a more or less advanced stage of completion. When he was tired of one, or when he came to a standstill for lack of material, he would leave it for a time and work at another. During the last few years of his life the great success which attended his Arabian Nights led him to turn his attention more to that phase of his work, to the exclusion of books which had been in preparation for years. Thus it came about that so many were unpublished when he died. As it is well known, he left his writings, published and unpublished, to his widow, Lady Burton, absolutely, to do with as she thought best. Lady Burton suppressed what she deemed advisable; the rest she brought with her to England. She published her Life of Sir Richard Burton, a new edition of his Arabian Nights, also Catullus and Il Pentamerone; and was arranging for the publication of others when she died (March, 1896). Her sister and executrix, Mrs. Fitzgerald (to whom I should like to express my gratitude for the many facilities she has given me), thought fit to entrust me with the work of editing and preparing for publication the remaining MSS. In the exercise of the discretion she was good enough to vest in me, I determined to bring out first the three MSS. which make up this book. The first part—The Jew—has a somewhat curious history. Burton collected most of the materials for writing it from 1869 to 1871, when he was Consul at Damascus. His intimate knowledge of Eastern races and languages, and his sympathy with Oriental habits and lines of thought, gave him exceptional facilities for ethnological studies of this kind. Disguised as a native, and unknown to any living soul except his wife, the British Consul mingled freely with the motley populations of Damascus, and inspected every quarter of the city—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. His inquiries bore fruit in material, not only for this general essay on the Jew, but for an Appendix dealing with the alleged rite of Human Sacrifice among the Sephardím or Eastern Jews, and more especially the mysterious murder of Padre Tomaso at Damascus in 1840. There is little doubt that his inquiry into these subjects was one of the reasons which aroused the hostility of the Damascus Jews against him; and that hostility was a powerful factor, though by no means the only one, in his recall by Lord Granville in 1871. Burton, however, had collected a mass of material before he left Damascus, and in 1873, the year after he had been appointed Consul at Trieste, he began to put it into shape for publication. It was his habit to collect for many years the material of a work, to mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, and then write it in a few months. This plan he pursued with The Jew, which, with the Appendix before mentioned, was finished and ready for publication towards the end of 1874. In 1875 he came home from Trieste on leave, and brought the book with him, intending to publish it forthwith. But first he asked an influential friend, who was highly placed in the official world, to read the MS., and give him his opinion as to the expediency of publishing it. That opinion was adverse, owing to the anti-Semitic tendency of the book. Other friends also pointed out to Burton that, so long as he remained in the service of the Government of a country where the Jews enjoy unprecedented power and position, it would be unwise, to say the least of it, for him to make enemies of them. ...

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