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THERE is no nation under the sun whose history can be more interesting than that of the Jews, particularly that branch of them which, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, emigrated to Spain, and for many centuries lived in that land, which they regarded as their adopted country.

In spite of the insults, the hardships, and the persecutions which they endured in Spain, the sons of Israel cultivated the arts and sciences, fed the lamp of literature, and kept it continually burning for a succession of ages, during which it may be justly said that “darkness covered the greater part of Europe, and gross darkness the people.”

That the Jews of Spain were far more enlightened than the Christians and Mohammedans of that country will appear from the pages of this history. We cannot therefore be surprised that a man of such eminent literary attainments as Don Adolfo de Castro should devote himself to the task of writing it. Task I call it, for that it really was such must be obvious to any one who will give himself the trouble of looking at the numerous authorities (cited in the notes to this Translation) which the Author had to consult; and although this is but a brief history of the Spanish Jews, I make no doubt that its brevity is mainly owing to circumstances over which Don Adolfo had no controul, viz. want of books, records, and documents to throw a light upon it, some of which were in all probability burned, and some carried away from Spain by the Jews at the time of their expulsion from that kingdom by Ferdinand the Unprincipled, otherwise called the Catholic.

The Author of this work has been for some years advantageously known to his countrymen by his literary merits, and within the last twelve months a work of his, entituled “ The History of the Persecution of the Protestants by Philip the Second," has been translated into English by Mr. Parker; to which, perhaps, my translation of the " History of the Jews in Spainmay be regarded as a suitable accompaniment.

Don Adolfo de Castro, unable to defend Queen Isabella’s conduct in establishing the Inquisition, endeavours to palliate it by saying that she acted in compliance with her husband's wishes and the counsels of her confessor!

But is such compliance as this to be accepted as an excuse for a gross violation of God's laws? Are we to be told that a woman, who, pandering to the avarice of a worthless husband and the fanaticism of an ignorant confessor, consents to the foundation of a tribunal calculated to deluge her native land with the blood of thousands of her innocent subjects, and to unjustly deprive the heirs of the unhappy victims of their property, is a person of an amiable and gentle disposition?

Vain is the attempt which English as well as Spanish and Portuguese writers have made to throw a false colouring upon this act of Queen Isabella! The false colouring has worn off and exposed to view the dirt and filth which lay beneath it. The damning act is written with an iron pen in indelible characters !

Does the youthful Queen who now sways the sceptre of the Spanish monarchy desire to transmit her name to posterity as that of the most upright sovereign who ever sat on the throne of a noble kingdom? Then, let it be her first act to make reparation to the Jews for the wrongs done to their race by her ancestors, and especially by her namesake: let her blot out from the statute-books of Spain every penal law that affects the Israelites : let her invite them back to the land which they still regard as the land of their adoption, and confer upon them greater privileges than they have ever enjoyed in any country since the time of their general dispersion.

In the Appendix is given a letter, purporting to have been written to Philip the Second by Árias Montano, entituled “ Instruction for Princes,” &c., which, as the reader will see by note 4 to page 262, is a forged one: although this will not affect the credit of the history, (inasmuch as no fact mentioned in it rests on the authority of the "Instruction," which was published for the purpose of confirming the Author's opinions about the Jesuits,) it is much to be regretted that he should have printed it. Were I to consult my own inclination I should suppress it, but it strikes me that, were I to do so, I should be disingenuous; and were I to publish it without stating it to be a forgery, I should be still more disingenuous.

The Author of this history has omitted, in general, to give the authorities from which his information is derived, a defect which I have endeavoured to supply; but owing to my having been obliged to grope my way in the dark, and to the difficulty of procuring Spanish books, my success, though greater than I had expected, has not been such as I could wish.

Wherever I have had access to the works cited by the Author, I have verified his quotations, except in one instance, (see note 59, page 151), in which he has, perhaps, inadvertently referred to a wrong authority.

In order to avoid the introduction of foreign idioms, as far as possible, into my translation, I placed my manuscript in the hands of a friend (one of the Fellows of Trinity College), not acquainted with the Spanish language, who has kindly read the greater part of it, and, at his suggestion, I have made many alterations, which are, I trust, improvements.

To another friend, W. G. Clark, Esq., Fellow of Trinity College, my best thanks are due for having procured me a copy of Don Adolfo de Castro's work.

King's College, Cambridge, July 5th, 1851.

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