Page 127 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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I s a b e l G r a h a m ,
by William Henry Herbert. New York, 1848.
Isabel Graham’s suitor, Masterson, is beaten at cards by a
man who claims to be of Italian nobility and calls himself the
Duke of Belgiojose. The Duke attracts wealthy companions be­
cause of his title, and his skill at cards enables him to win
frequently and considerably. Masterson has a sister, Maria, an
heiress. T he Duke agrees to cancel Masterson’s gambling debt
on condition tha t he persuade Maria to marry him.
Sir Grandison Chivers, a visitor from London, also in love
with Maria, recognizes the Duke of Belgiojose to be none other
than Aaron Levi, a Jewish light-weight prize-fighter from London.
Levi is exposed, fights a duel with Masterson and then, with
his cohort and fellow imposter, “Count” Koslosky, leaves the
country for Canada where in a small community they both lead
respectable lives.
P e t e r S c h l e m i h l i n A m e r i c a ,
by George Wood. Philadelphia,
1848.
In an attempt to preach on the theme that Christian love is
more noble than Jewish justice, the author invents a most un­
likely situation in which a rabbi by the name of Ben Jarchi
becomes presiding magistrate in a court. T o this court Peter
Schlemihl is brought for trial. Though innocent, Peter is con­
victed by the rabbi for being a vagabond.
In another case, tha t of a poor young maid who wears the
dress of her mistress to a party bu t returns the dress the next
day, the rabbi adheres strictly to the law by sentencing the young
girl to prison.
T he author, giving vent to his Christian bias, sums up his
purpose in writing this story by stating: “The Law came by
Moses: serious, severe, majestic Moses; bu t Jesus ascended the
spiritual light further than Moses” (p. 249).
T h e W e s t e r n M e r c h a n t ,
by John B. Jones. Philadelphia, 1849.
Moses Tuba l comes to the town of Hanover, buys land and
builds a general store next door to the store of Mr. Shortfield,
narrator of the story. Shortfield, who had opened his store a
few weeks earlier and had been doing a flourishing business,
finds his Jewish competitor highly aggressive. Incident after
incident is related in which each tries to outwit the other in
selling merchandise.
KLEIN / JEWISH CHARACTERS IN EARLY AMERICAN FICTION
117