Chap. X.

Of the Jews.

THAT the Jews stink naturally,[1] that is, that in their race and nation there is an evil savour, is a received opinion we know not how to admit; although concede many questionable points, and dispute not the verity of sundry opinions which are of affinity hereto. We will acknowledg that certain odours attend on animals, no less then certain colours; that pleasant smels are not confined unto vegitables, but found in divers animals, and some more richly then in plants. And though the Problem of Aristotle enquire why no animal smells sweet beside that Parde? yet later discoveries adde divers sorts of Monkeys, the Civet Cat and Gazela, from which our Musk proceedeth. We confess that beside the smell of the species, there may be individual odours, and every Man may have a proper and peculiar savour; which although not perceptible unto Man, who hath this sense, but weak, yet sensible unto Dogs, who hereby can single out their masters in the dark. We will not deny that particular Men have sent forth a pleasant savour, as Theophrastus and Plutarch report of Alexander the great, and Tzetzes and Cardan do testifie of themselves. That some may also emit an unsavoury odour, we have no reason to deny; for this may happen from the quality of what they have taken; the Fætor whereof may discover it self by sweat and urine, as being unmasterable by the natural heat of Man, not to be dulcified by concoction beyond an unsavoury condition: the like may come to pass from putrid humours, as is often discoverable in putrid and malignant feavers. And sometime also in gross and humid bodies even in the latitude of sanity; the natural heat of the parts being insufficient for a perfect and through digestion, and the errors of one concoction not rectifiable by another. But that an unsavoury odour is gentilitious or national unto the Jews, if rightly understood, we cannot well concede; nor will the information of reason or sence induce it.

For first, Upon consult of reason, there will bee found no easie assurance to fasten a material or temperamental propriety upon any nation; there being scarce any condition (but what depends upon clime) which is not exhausted or obscured from the commixture of introvenient nations either by commerce or conquest; much more will it be difficult to make out this affection in the Jews; whose race however pretended to be pure, must needs have suffered inseparated commixtures with nations of all sorts, not only in regard of their proselytes, but their universal dispersion; some being posted from several parts of the earth, others quite lost, and swallowed up in those nations where they planted. For the tribes of Ruben, Gad, part of Manasses and Naphthali, which were taken by Assur, and the rest at the sacking of Samaria which were led away by Salmanasser into Assyria, and after a year and half arrived at Arseereth, as is delivered in Esdras; these I say never returned, and are by the Jews as vainly expected as their Messias. Of those of the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, which were led captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, many returned under Zorobabel; the rest remained, and from thence long after upon invasion of the Saracens, fled as far as India; where yet they are said to remain, but with little difference from the Gentiles.

The Tribes that returned to Judea, were afterward widely dispersed; for beside sixteen thousand which Titus sent to Rome unto the triumph of his father Vespasian, he sold no less then an hundred thousand for slaves.[2] Not many years after Adrian the Emperour, who ruined the whole Countrey, transplanted many thousands into Spain, from whence they dispersed into divers Countreys, as into France and England, but were banished after from both. From Spain they dispersed into Africa, Italy, Constantinople, and the Dominions of the Turk, where they remain as yet in very great numbers. And if (according to good relations) where they must freely speak it, they forbear not to boast that there are at present many thousand Jews in Spane, France, and England, and some dispensed withall even to the degree of Priesthood; it is a matter very considerable, and could they be smelled out, would much advantage, not only the Church of Christ, but also the coffers of Princes.

Now having thus lived in several Countries, and alwaies in subjection, they must needs have suffered many commixtures; and we are sure they are not exempted from the common contagion of Venery contracted first from Christians. Nor are fornications unfrequent between them both; there commonly passing opinions of invitement, that their Women desire copulation with them rather then their own Nation, and affect Christian carnality above circumcised venery. It being therefore acknowledged, that some are lost, evident that others are mixed, and not assured that any are distinct, it will be hard to establish this quality upon the Jews, unless we also transfer the same unto those whose generations are mixed, whose genealogies are Jewish, and naturally derived from them.

Again, if we concede a National unsavourinesse in any people, yet shall we find the Jews less subject hereto then any, and that in those regards which most powerfully concur to such effects, that is, their diet and generation. As for their diet, whether in obedience unto the precepts of reason, or the Injunctions of parsimony, therein they are very temperate; seldom offending in ebrietie or excess of drink, nor erring in gulosity or superfluity of meats; whereby they prevent indigestion and crudities,[3] and consequently putrescence of humors. They have in abomination all flesh maimed, or the inwards any way vitiated; and therefore eat no meat but of their own killing. They observe not only fasts at certain times, but are restrained unto very few dishes at all times; so few, that whereas St. Peters sheet4 will hardly cover our Tables, their Law doth scarce permit them to set forth a Lordly feast; nor any way to answer the luxury of our times, or those of our fore-father. For of flesh their Law restrains them many sorts, and such as compleat our feasts: That Animal, Propter convivia natum,5 they touch not, nor any of its preparations, or parts so much in respect at Roman Tables, nor admit they unto their board, Hares, Conies, Herons, Plovers or Swans. Of Fishes they only tast of such as have both fins and scales; which are comparatively but few in number, such only, saith Aristotle, whose Egg or spawn is arenaceous; whereby are excluded all cetaceous and cartilagineous Fishes, many pectinal, whose ribs are rectilineal; many costal, which have their ribs embowed; all spinal, or such as have no ribs, but only a back bone, or somewhat analogous thereto, as Eels, Congers, Lampries; all that are testaceous, as Oysters, Cocles, Wilks, Scollops, Muscles; and likewise all crustaceous, as Crabs, Shrimps, and Lobsters. So that observing a spare and simple diet, whereby they prevent generation of crudities; and fasting often whereby they might also digest them; they must be less inclinable unto this infirmity then any other Nation, whose proceedings are not so reasonable to avoid it.

As for their generations and conceptions (which are the purer from good diet,) they become more pure and perfect by the strict observation of their Law; upon the injunctions whereof, they severely observe the times of Purification, and avoid all copulation, either in the uncleanness of themselves, or impurity of their Women. A Rule, I fear, not so well observed by Christians; whereby not only conceptions are prevented, but if they proceed, so vitiated and defiled, that durable inquinations, remain upon the birth. Which, when the conception meets with these impurities, must needs be very potent; since in the purest and most fair conceptions, learned Men derive the cause of Pox and Meazels, from principles of that nature; that is, the menstruous impurities in the Mothers blood, and virulent tinctures contracted by the Infant, in the nutriment of the womb.

Lastly, Experience will convict it; for this offensive odor is no way discoverable in their Synagogues where many are,[6] and by reason of their number could not be concealed: nor is the same discernible in commerce or conversation with such as are cleanly in Apparel, and decent in their Houses. Surely the Viziars and Turkish Basha's are not of this opinion, who as Sr. Henry Blunt informeth, do generally keep a Jew of their private Counsel. And were this true, the Jews themselves do not strictly make out the intention of their Law, for in vain do they scruple to approach the dead, who livingly are cadaverous, or fear any outward pollution, whose temper pollutes themselves. And lastly, were this true, yet our opinion is not impartial; for unto converted Jews who are of the same seed, no Man imputeth this unsavoury odor; as though Aromatized by their conversion, they lost their scent with their Religion, and smelt no longer then they savoured of the Jew.

Now the ground that begat or propagated this assertion, might be the distasteful averseness of the Christian from the Jew, upon the villany of that fact, which made them abominable and stink in the nostrils of all Men. Which real practise, and metaphorical expression, did after proceed into a literal construction; but was a fraudulent illation; for such an evil savour their father Jacob acknowledged in himself, when he said,7 his sons had made him stink in the land, that is, to be abominable unto the inhabitants thereof. Now how dangerous it is in sensible things to use metaphorical expressions unto the people, and what absurd conceits they will swallow in their literals; an impatient example we have in our profession; who having called an eating Ulcer by the name of a Woolf, common apprehension conceives a reality therein; and against our selves, ocular affirmations are pretended to confirm it.

The nastiness of that Nation, and sluttish course of life hath much promoted the opinion, occasioned by their servile condition at first, and inferiour wayes of parsimony ever since; as is delivered by Mr. Sandys, They are generally fat, saith he, and rank of the savours which attend upon sluttish corpulency:[8] The Epithetes assigned them by ancient times, have also advanced the same; for Ammianus Marcellinus describeth them in such language; and Martial more ancient, in such a relative expression sets forth unsavoury Bassa.

        Quod jejunia Sabbatariorum
Mallem, quàm quod oles, olere Bassa.

From whence notwithstanding we cannot infer an inward imperfection in the temper of that Nation; it being but an effect in the breath from outward observation, in their strict and tedious fasting; and was a common effect in the breaths of other Nations, became a Proverb9 among the Greeks, and the reason thereof begot a Problem in Aristotle.

Lastly, If all were true, and were this savour conceded, yet are the reasons alleadged for it no way satisfactory. Hucherius,10 and after him Alsarius Crucius,11 imputes this effect unto their abstinence from salt or salt meats;[12] which how to make good in the present diet of the Jews we know not; nor shall we conceive it was observed of old, if we consider they seasoned every Sacrifice, and all oblations whatsoever; whereof we cannot deny a great part was eaten by the Priests. And if the offering were of flesh, it was salted no lesse then thrice, that is, once in the common chamber of salt, at the foot-step of the Altar, and upon the top thereof, as is at large delivered by Maimonides. Nor if they refrained all salt, is the illation very urgent; for many there are not noted for ill odours,[13] which eat no salt at all; as all carnivorous Animals, most Children, many whole Nations, and probably our Fathers after the Creation; there being indeed in every thing we eat, a natural and concealed salt,[14] which is separated by digestions, as doth appear in our tears, sweat, and urines, although we refrain all salt, or what doth seem to contain it.

Another cause is urged by Campegius, and much received by Christians; that this ill savour is a curse derived upon them by Christ, and stands, as a badge or brand of a generation that crucified their Salvator. But this is a conceit without all warrant; and an easie way to take off dispute in what point of obscurity soever. A method of many Writers, which much depreciates the esteem and value of miracles: that is, therewith to salve not only real verities, but also nonexistencies. Thus have elder times, not only ascribed the immunity of Ireland from any venemous beast, unto the staff or rod of Patrick; but the long tails of Kent, unto the malediction of Austin.[15]

Thus therefore, although we concede that many opinions are true which hold some conformity unto this, yet in assenting hereto, many difficulties must arise: it being a dangerous point to annex a constant property unto any Nation, and much more this unto the Jew; since this quality is not verifiable by observation;[16] since the grounds are feeble that should establish it; and lastly: since if all were true, yet are the reasons alleadged for it, of no sufficiency to maintain it.


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}.

1 [Wren: "The Jews anxiously observing the prohibited eating of blood keepe their flesh covered with onyons and garleek till itt putrifie, and contracte as bad a smell as that of rottenes from those strong sawces; and soe by continual use thereof emit a loathsom savour, as Mr. Fulham experimented in Italye at a Jewish meeting, with the hazard of life, till he removed into the fresh air. Teste ipso fide dignissimo."

The good dean, who is as vehemently anti-Semite as he is prodextral (or perhaps more so), uses Mr. Fulham's testimony to refute Browne throughout the remainder of this chapter; this is the note "on page 36" to which he refers repeatedly in his commentary. Nevertheless, even should we grant Mr. Fulham's point, it does not contradict Browne, who is willing to admit that people can smell bad because of their diet, but unwilling to admit that it is a gentilitious or racial property.

In a recent discussion on a city bus, I was informed that white people smell like dogs. An attempt to elicit further information on this point (all white people, or just Americans, or just Anglo-types? Hispanics? Do men smell different from women? Winter and summer?) was unsuccessful.]

2 [According to Josephus, Bellum Judaicum; in VII.v, he says that, along with Simon and John, Titus brought to Rome 700 Jews, "whom he had selected out of the rest as being eminently tall and handsome of body", and, according to VI.ix, Titus captured 97,000 Jews; another 1,100,000 died during the siege.]

3 [Wren: "This cruditye of indigestion is soe cleerly discernable in the breath of children; that he who comes fasting into a great school, shall soon perceave itt, to his smell, most odious"]

4 [In Acts 10:

[9] On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
[10] And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
[11] And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
[12] Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
[13] And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.]

5 Quanta est gula, quæ sibi totos
ponit Apros! Animal propter convivia natum.
[Juvenal I,140-41.]

6 [Wren: See the evidence hereof, p. 36, undeniably prooved.]

7 Gen. 34.

8 [G. Sandys, Relation of a Journey; Wren: "Which Mr. Fulham confirmed as above, p. 36. This is enoughe, leaving the cause to further inquisition."]

9 Νηστείας ὄζειν, Iejunia olere.

10 De sterilitate.

11 Cruc. Med. Epist.

12 [Wren: Which they supply with onyons and garlick, ut supra.]

13 [Wren: This is contraryed by experience. Supra, p. 36.]

14 [Wren: The earthy being separated, leaves the other sweet, not salt. But the many circulations of them acquiring saltnes from the naturall heate, send out that unnecessary saltnes in sweat and teares and urine, and generally in salivation.]

15 [A note by Bailey, in Wilkin: The Kentish men are said to have had long tails for some generations; by way of punishment, as some say, for the Kentish Pagans abusing Austin the monk and his associates, by beating them, and opprobriously tying fish-tails to their back-sides; in revenge of which, such appendants grew to the hind parts of all that generation. But the scene of this lying wonder was not in Kent, but in Carne, in Dorsetshire, many miles off. Others again say it was for cutting off the tail of St. Thomas of Canterbury's horse, who, being out of favour with King Henry II, riding towards Canterbury upon a poor sorry horse, was so served by the common people.]

16 [Wren: It is, ut supra, p. 36.]

This page is dedicated to the memory of Boo the Cat.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional