JOURNEY TO HOLLAND
From Florence to London
His second journey is without explicit explanation, but was evidently
undertaken largely for business reasons.
It began on 7 May 1741, when he left for Livorno accompanied by his
brother David Cassuto,
in a carriage, with his trusted servant, Isaac di Tranquillo Gallico,
following on horseback.
They got there that day. There they were to meet Jacob Belillios of
Venice with Abram Jesurum, also from Venice, and Manase di Masia, with
Levi Levi, his servant, both from Sana in Persia .
On 16 May they left Livorno in a caleche for Pisa and 'the Erica' (Lerici),
'which is a joy to see',
where next day they embarked on a felucca for Genoa; it came in sight
on 18 May.
He had been in Genoa in 1723 for six months to choose and to marry his
They sai1ed on, intending to reach Nice, but were driven off course,
and on 19 May they reached S. Remo.
On 20 May the wind improved, and they made Bordighera in the morning.
In the evening they were back to S. Remo. On 21 May they passed Monaco,
Villa Franca, a port belonging to the King of Sardinia,
they reached Nissa (Nice) in Provence at midday in time for the Feast
of Roses, for which they stopped; there the Jews were numerous, with
a ghetto and a beautiful synagogue. On visiting it they were all called
up for the Reading of the Law, and were treated with much courtesy and
lodged in the house of a certain Moscato from Monte S. Savino.
The city was fortified strongly; here they spoke Italian and Provencal,
but French fashions were followed in dress.
On 23 May they left again in their felucca for Antibes and changed to
travel by coach and horse.
On 26 May he reached Marseilles, which is described at length. He left
on Sunday 4 June in three covered carriages drawn by mules, with a saddle
horse and mu1es carrying bells, for Lyon, passing through the County
of Avignon, which belongs to the Pope by the free gift of a King of
It is administered by a Papal Legate, and the Hebrews there wear the
mark. He reached Lyon on 9 June.
Paris, appearing a learned man
On 4 June he reached Paris, the sights and delights of which, with Versailles,
he describes in much detail. He was particularly curious to see the
Royal Library. Since he did not wish to appear less learned than the
other students there, the first thing he did was to put on his spectacles
and ask to take down some Hebrew books, which greatly impressed those
'They took me for a man of depth and much more when I asked for a very
old book of the Talmud, which they then produced for me. Then I sat
at a table, to turn over the pages carefully and note what I showed
I had found appropriate. The Chief Librarian was reasonably well versed
in this language, which he read and spoke with little difficulty'. Then
he looked for some Greek books; he glanced at them but confesses that
he could not understand them, and took out his watch, and explained
that he must leave to return some other day.
He mentions that among the various races in Paris, there are 600 Jews
still, permanently living there, apart from those in transit. Among
the former are some who are very rich, but not all of them are,
as the French think, since they use the expression of a wealthy man
'as rich as a Jew'.
trying to sell a diamond to the king
One day after luncheon at the inn where he was staying he invited some
Knights who wished to eat the food of the Hebrews; they joined him again
in the evening.
Then he went by arrangement to the residence of Cardinal Fleury, having
been introduced to him by his compatriot Sr. Pietro Galli, of Pistoia,
secretary to Abbot Franchini, Tuscan Minister to the French Court. Galli
was an intimate friend of the Cardinal and had lunched with him that
very day, as he often did.
The Cardinal asked jokingly for the diamond which he said Galli had
Cassuto suddenly put it into his hand, stating in answer to his inquiry
that it weighed 225 grains,
but the Cardinal, after consulting his nephew the Duke and other princes
present, refused to recommend it for purchase to the King (Louis XV)
at the present time. The same reply was given by his secretary.
The secretary offered to arrange for the King to see the stone, but
Cassuto declined, and recalled the
story of an Armenian who was offering around the stone del scerimano
and had almost effected the sale through a favourite lady of the King
when the matter came to the notice of the Cardinal who ordered him to
leave the country within twenty-four hours.
But the subject of the great diamond became known to all the Court and
aroused much curiosity but he could not show it to them until the King
had seen it.
And though he attended Court and was addressed by the King as if they
had conversed a hundred times, the King did not desire to see it.
He made a further attempt at showing himself to the King, but without
success, and accordingly on
26 July he left Paris for Calais, arriving there on 28 July at midday
just too late to catch the packet-boat to Dover. He was consequently
unable to leave until 31 July in the evening, when they made the crossing
in eight hours.
At Dover he spent the night, then left for London by way of Canterbury
and Rochester, reaching London on 2 August.
Then follows a long account of London and London life.
There is much about St. Paul's Cathedral, Protestants, nonconformists,
He describes more mundane matters, such as the scandalous habits of
the ladies of the town,
before passing on to dwell on the different districts and their trades
and what is to be bought in the shops.
much struck by the extent of the trade by sea with Portugal, which produces
wine and, through Portugal, gold and precious stones from Brazil and
Peru; ships arrive from Portugal daily and there is a weekly packet-boat
from there; he mentions that the new diamond mine discovered in Brazil
recently and belonging to the King of Portugal is exclusively producing
stones for the London market, and with those from Fort St. George (Madras)
this makes up most of those now available.
This comes in for discussion further below, as will be seen.
Jews in London
A description of the Royal Exchange and the coffee-houses is followed
by that of the synagogues.
He says :
There are two synagogues of the German Jews, and one of the Portuguese,
24 cubits broad and 42 long. Each one has its own management; thus the
income of one is not mixed with that of the other, and each maintains
its own staff and its poor respectively.
Together they are estimated as amounting to about 6,000 souls.
They possess houses and villas, in which they either dwell or lease
to each other.
Many of them ride in carriages, and there are same of them who are wealthy,
with 30, 40, or 50,000 pezzi a year .
'Many of them who do not have [fixed] incomes have large businesses
and one hears of large dowries among them, of 60 or 70,000 pezzi.
Jews may dwell in any part of the City where they wish.
They may practise any sort of trade or craft and open a shop in any
place outside the City in the suburbs, and even in the City if they
have practised the craft seven years under a master, in the same way
as a Protestant may, the limits being those fixed for the City.
'They do not become excited in matters of religion and everyone who
is observant is held in good repute, and when occasion arises each may
speak his mind without concern or fear of being indicted, just as one
may speak about the King, as it seems.
'The Jews have Protestants in their employ as maid-servants, waiters,
servants, and coachmen,
even as wet-nurses, and entrust to them without any trouble their own
little children to be brought up, the suspicion that they might baptise
them never occurring to them. It bas never occurred, and if it should,
they would be severely punished, and such a baptism would be held invalid.
So without concern they send their little girls to Protestant women
teachers, and little boys to Protestant teachers, to acquire manners
and good qualities and learning.
Some possess these assets and are very famous doctors and surgeons,
held in great esteem, others are doctors of law and notaries, who command
public confidence, and their notarial deeds are accepted equally with
those of Protestants.
One hears of no mockery or abuse of Jews as in other countries, where
there is a certain vulgar weakness for persecuting and regarding Hebrews
as something abominable who should be differentiated from the rest by
Catholic law and be despised without distinction of case, terms, occasion,
or quality of persons.
of the Jews in England
is no discrimination between Jew and Protestant in burdens or taxes.
All alike discharge guard duties in the City it falls turn and turn
about on the heads of households,
in which even the great are included, and they can all alike serve as
constables and bear the King's arms, differing only by religion, which
is not discussed.
Each one is esteemed in terms of his action and behaviour as a gentleman,
which is what they most esteem.
Apart from the above-mentioned nationalities, there are in London some
of every nation in the world, as all the world deals with England by
way of commerce. Everyone observes freedom of belief, and as a result
of this freedom one may see them often change and change again, once
or more times, from one religion to the other, according to that which
from time to time suits them best, and in proportion to the studies
that they are making, since they are allowed to read all sorts of books
and particularly the Holy Bible, which they always have ready at their
to Judaism occurs
'I saw during this time two Protestants become Jews and be circumcised,
and two ladies likewise embrace the Jewish religion with great devotion.
The difficulties that the Jews themselves place in the way of those
who wish to become Jews are so great that it would seem impossible that
anyone should resolve to take such a step. But when it is resolved,
it is not taken for an ulterior motive but because they believe that
infallibly they are doing rightly. After all the warnings to proselytes,
when nothing remains but the act of circumcision, and the operation
is to be performed, they bring out a great knife, like that with which
the Jews slaughter cattle, which would put fear in a giant, shining
like crystal, then the brave fellows resign thernselves to endure the
pain in order to embrace the Hebrew religion and to believe in the Hebrew
Law as the true Law.
'Some marriages take place where the husband and the wife are of different
religions; of such the male
children belong to the husband and the female to the wife, and when
they reach an age when they are capable of distinguishing, each may
choose that religion which he or she desires.
There are even
Hebrews with Protestant wives among them. It happened one day that
the Wardens of the Community were at the Bishop's house. He asked them
if the Jews had any shortage of women that they had need of marrying
Protestants; but he did not forbid it them for this reason, as that
would be against the rules of the Reformation'.
next stage: crossing the sea to