The 19th Century moved inexorably towards the repudiation of the Sanhedrin's avowals to Napoleon, towards the re-segregation of the Jews, towards the re-establishment of that theocratic state in the midst of states, the danger of which Tiberius had depicted before the Christian era began. The struggle was not between “the Jews” and “the Gentiles”; as on the ancient day when the Persian king's soldiers enabled Ezra and Nehemiah to enforce “the new Law” on the Judahites, it was once more between some Jews and some Gentiles and the other Jews and the other Gentiles. The mystery always was that at such junctures the Gentile rulers allied themselves with the ruling sect of Judaism against the Jewish masses and thus against their own peoples, among whom they fostered a disruptive force. This paradox repeated itself in the 19th century and produced the climacteric of our present day, in which all nations are heavily involved.
The emancipated Jews of the West were undone on this occasion, with the mass of Gentile mankind, by the Western politicians, who enlisted, like a Swiss Guard, in the service of Zionism. Therefore this narrative must pause to look “at the Liberals” of the 19th Century, who by espousing Zionism enabled it to disrupt the affairs and deflect the national policies of peoples.
They may best be studied through the founder of their line. “The Prophet” (he claimed the title which Amos angrily repudiated) was Henry Wentworth Monk, by few remembered today. He was the prototype of the 20th Century American president or British prime minister, the very model of a modern Western politician.
To account for this man one would have to revivify all the thoughts and impulses of the last century. It is recent enough for a plausible attempt. One effect of emancipation was to make every undisciplined thinker believe himself a leader of causes. The spread of the printed word enabled demagogues to distribute ill considered thoughts: The increasing speed and range of transport led them to look for causes far outside their native ken. Irresponsibility might pose as Christian charity when it denounced its neighbours for indifference to the plight of Ethiopian orphans, and who could check the facts? Dickens depicted the type in Stiggins, with his society for providing infant negroes with moral pocket handkerchiefs; Disraeli remarked that the hideous lives of coalminers in the North of England had “escaped the notice of the Society for the Abolition of Negro Slavery.”
The new way of acquiring a public reputation was too easy for such rebukes to deter those who were tempted by the beguiling term “liberal,” and soon the passion for reform filled the liberal air, which would not brook a vacuum. The “rights of man” had to be asserted; and the surviving wrongs were most easily discovered among peoples faraway (and, for fervour, the further the better). It was the heyday of the self-righteous, of those who only wanted the good of others, and cared not how much bad they did under that banner. The do-gooders founded a generation, and also an industry (for this vocation was not devoid of material reward, as well as plaudits). In the name of freedom, these folk were in our day to applaud, and help bring about, the re-enslavement of half
Into such a time Henry Wentworth Monk was born (1827) in a farm settlement on the then remote Ottawa River in
Thus young Monk had many emotional needs, crying to be appeased, and his child's mind began to find modern applications in the Old Testament, to which his infant mind was so diligently directed. By “swift beasts,” he deduced, Isaiah meant railways, and by “swift messengers,” steamships. He next decided, at this early age, that he had found the keys to “prophecy” and could interpret the mind of God in terms of his day. He ignored the warnings of the Israelite prophets and of the New Testament against this very temptation; what he found was merely the teaching of the Levitical priesthood, that one day the heathen would be destroyed and the chosen people re-gathered in their supreme kingdom in the promised land.
Men of rank and influence also were toying with this idea that the time had come for them to make up God's mind. When Monk was eleven a Lord Shaftesbury proposed that the great powers should buy
At fourteen he obtained special leave to attend a sermon preached by “the first English Bishop in
Thus he fell into the irreverence which the study of the Levitical scriptures sometimes produces in men who describe them selves as Christians and yet ignore the New Testament. Once they accept the concept of foretellings to be literally fulfilled, they yield, in fact, to the Judaic Law of a political contract which leaves no latitude whatever to God, save in the one point of the time of completion. From that they proceed, in one bound, to the conclusion that they know the time (which God, presumably, has forgotten). At that stage such men believe that they are God. This is the end to which the process must lead them: the denial of Christianity, and of all divinity. This is the profanity to which all leading politicians of the West, in our century, lent themselves; Monk was the original of a multitude.
Even in his remote Canadian habitat he found other prophets. An American Jew, a Major Mordecai Noah, was trying to build a Jewish “city of refuge” on an island in the
All this fired Monk's ardour the more. He decided, in the Old Testamentary tradition, no more to cut his hair or adorn his body until “
Monk might have disappeared from the annals at that point but for a chance encounter which made him publicly known. In this century of world wars, trans-continental and trans-oceanic projectiles, and mass-destroying explosives, the 19th Century counts as a stable, peaceful period of time, unshadowed by fear for the morrow. The student, particularly of this controversy of
A young English painter, Holman Hunt, appeared in
So these two, Prophet. and pre-Raphaelite, concerted a plan to startle the indifferent world. Monk depicted “the scapegoat” to Holman Hunt as the symbol of Jewish persecution by mankind. They agreed that Holman Hunt should paint a picture of “the scapegoat” and that Monk should simultaneously write a book explaining that the time had come for the persecuted to be restored, in fulfilment of prophecy.
(In fact the scapegoat was an ingenious Levitical device, whereby the priest was empowered to absolve the congregation of its sins by taking two kids of the goat, killing one for a sin-offering, and driving the other into the wilderness to expiate by its suffering “all their transgressions and all their sins … putting them upon the head of the goat.” The Prophet and Holman Hunt transformed the meaning into its opposite. The scapegoat for the sins of the Jews was to become the symbol of the Jews themselves; its tormentors, the Levitical priests, were by implication to be changed into Gentile oppressors!)
Holman Hunt went to work; this was a delightful way, both to take a swing at the
Hunt, wearing Arab robes and carrying easel and rifle, was then seen by the Bedouin driving a white goat to the
Monk then produced his Simple Interpretation of the Revelation and the joint undertaking was complete; the world had but to respond. In this first book Monk still tried to wed Levitical politics with Christian doctrine. Historically he stayed on safe ground; he pointed out, correctly, that “the ten tribes” could not have become extinct, but lived on in the mass of mankind: This led him to his “interpretation,” which was to the effect that “the true Israelites,” Jewish and Christian, should migrate to Palestine and establish a model state there (at that point he was far from literal Zionism, and ran risk of being accounted an “antisemite”). His portrayal of the consequences was plain demagogy; if this were done, he said, war would come to an end. But then came the paramount idea (and who knows whence Monk got it?): an International Government must be set up in
Ruskin, too, was the product of early pressures and inner disappointments. Like Wilkie Collins (an excellent craftsman who could not rest content with writing good novels and vainly tried to emulate Dickens's gift for arousing moral indignation), he was not happy to remain in the field where he was eminent but was ever ready to champion (and less ready to examine) anything that looked like a moral cause. Like Monk, he had been drilled in the Old Testament as a child (though by a possessive Puritan mother), and he was recurrently unlucky in love, sometimes humiliatingly so. He was therefore at all times in search of an outlet for unspent emotional impulses. He feared life and the future, so that The Prophet's incessant warnings of wrath to come unnerved him and made him put his hand in his pocket. He had a large audience and yielded to the same impiety as Monk and Holman; as his biographer says (Mr. Besketh Pearson), “he succumbed to the delusion, common to all messiahs, that his word was God's,” and in the end his reason waned, but by then he had enabled The Prophet to preach and wander on.
After the failure of Monk's book Holman Hunt tried again. He began a painting of Jesus, in the synagogue, reading the messianic prophecies and announcing their fulfilment in himself. To make his meaning clear, he used Monk as the model for the figure of Jesus, and the indignation of the elders was to symbolize the world's rejection of The Prophet. Holman Hunt's preliminary study for this picture is in the National Gallery at Ottawa and shows Monk holding in one hand the Bible (open at the Book of the Revelation) and in the other: a copy of the London Times. (I was working in monastic seclusion in Montreal, somewhat bowed down by the nature and weight of the task, when I discovered the picture, and my neighbours were then surprised by the loud noise of mirth which burst from the usually silent room where a former correspondent of The Times bent over his labours).
Thereafter human nature slowly had its way. Holman Hunt sold a picture of the Finding of Christ in the Temple for 5,500 (pounds) and his resentment against life (and the Academicians) mellowed. He found himself unable to ask the tattered Prophet to accompany him to fine houses like those of Val Prinsep and Tennyson. Ruskin was busy with ill-starred loves, and was becoming sceptical as well. Nevertheless, these two sedentary men could not quite forget The Prophet's warnings that they would be destroyed unless they soon effected the restoration of the Jews to
He was about to go when another war broke out, completely confounding him because it was not in any of the places where, interpreting prophecy, he had foretold the beginning of the end of days. It was in the very area from which, according to his published interpretation, salvation was to come:
After a glance at the authorities, The Prophet announced that he had located the error in his calculations: the Civil War was in fact the great, premonitory event. Now something must be done about
The tradition then prevailed in
His appearance gained him a few words of conversation with the President. Mr. Lincoln's harassed eye was arrested by the sight of something peering at him through the undergrowth. He asked who the visitor was, then learning that he was a Canadian come to end the war. Asked for his proposal, The Prophet urged that the South free its slaves against compensation and the North agree to Southern secession, a suggestion which (Monk recorded) “appeared to amuse the President. Mr. Lincoln asked, “Do not you Canadians consider my Emancipation Proclamation as a great step forward in the social and moral progress of the world?”
Monk said this was not enough: “Why not follow the emancipation of the Negro by a still more urgent step: the emancipation of the Jew?” Mr. Lincoln was baffled (the Jews had always been emancipated in
Monk said, “Certainly, Mr. President, the American Jew is free, and so is the British Jew, but not the European. In
Characteristically, Monk had never been to “
In Mr. Lincoln's day the notion that all wars, wherever fought and for whatever reason, ought to be diverted to the aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine was new (today it is generally accepted and put into practice, as the two world wars have shown), and the President was again amused.
He had on hand the cruellest war in Western history, up to that time. Being a man of resource, and versed in dealing with importuners, he rid himself of The Prophet with a good-humoured jest. “My chiropodist is a Jew,” he said, “and he has so often put me on my feet that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen a leg up.” Then, reminding Monk of the war in progress, he begged The Prophet to await its end: “then we may begin again to see visions and dream dreams.” (Another topic for a debating society: was the use of this phrase chance or intention? Mr. Lincoln certainly knew what fate the Old Testament prescribes for “false prophets and dreamers of dreams.”)
Monk returned to
After a lifetime Monk thus stumbled on the fullness of the political plan of world dominion which is contained in the Old Testament, and still thought that he was interpreting divine prophecy. No evidence offers that he ever came in contact with the initiates and illuminates of the grand design. The only recorded Jewish money he was ever offered was a charitable gift of five pounds “if you are personally in want.” He moved always in the company and at the cost of the bemused Gentile “Liberals.”
He was forgotten in the
Such admonitions were not new to The Prophet. His relatives and friends had ever implored him, if he felt called to improve mankind, to look around him at home: the lot of the Canadian Indians, or even of the Canadians, might be bettered. To a man who held the key to divine revelation advice of this kind was sacrilegious, and Monk, by way of various pamphlets, came at length to the idea of a “Palestine Restoration Fund.” For this he borrowed a notion of Ruskin's, originally devised to help Ruskin's own country; namely, that wealthy folk should forfeit a tithe of their incomes for the purpose of reclaiming English wastelands. Monk decided that the tithe should serve a better object: the “return”!
By this time (1875) Ruskin was once more unnerved, first by the death of Rose La Touche and next by the apparent imminence of one more distant war (this time a British-Russian one). Clearly The Prophet was right after all; the “day of troubles” was come. Ruskin signed Monk's manifesto and dedicated a tenth of his income to The Prophet's fund for the purchase of
The Prophet, thus propped on his feet again, was further helped by Laurence Oliphant, a lion of the Victorian drawing rooms whom he had by chance met when he made his way about
In 1880 Holman Hunt, again enjoying deteriorated health, was so alarmed by small warlike episodes in
That was the finish. Ruskin, approaching his end, rudely refused all further part in the fantasy. Oliphant dropped out. The “Bank of Israel” came to nothing. Samuel Butler showed The Prophet the door. Even Holman Hunt at last appealed to him to preach “that there is a God in heaven, who will judge every man on earth” and to desist from pretending in effect that he, Monk, was God. The Jews spoke similarly: one told him, “The land of our forefathers is dead, and
Monk was beyond redemption. In 1884 the Bluecoat boy returned to
Monk's life was wretched and was not redeemed by any true faith or genuine mission. This account of it is given to show how false and foolish the great project was seen to be, and how misguided the men who took it up, against the background of the last century. The fallacy of the whole notion, of Zionism leading to the despotic world-government, is instantly displayed when it is considered in that setting, with Monk and his friends declaiming from the stage. The whole thing then is seen as a picaresque comedy; a farce, not merely because it was unsuccessful, but because it was never serious. What was recommended could not be seriously entertained because its consequences obviously had not been considered and, if calculated, at once were foreseen to be disastrous. Against the background of a time when debate was free and opinion, being informed, might be brought to bear on the matter, these men strut foolishly, leaving only the faint echo of clownish noises in the corridors of time.
Nevertheless, in the present century the entire vainglorious scheme, unchanged, was imported into the life of peoples as a serious and urgent undertaking, transcending the needs of nations. Indeed, it was made a sacrosanct one, for an unwritten law of heresy was set around it which in effect checked the antiseptic force of public discussion, and within this palisade the politicians of the West made a morality play out of The Prophet's claptrap. John Ruskin and Holman Hunt, from whatever bourne the Victorian friends of the oppressed may now inhabit, may look down and see the graves of many dead, and the living graves of nearly a million fugitives, as the first results of their great plan, now in accomplishment.
Monk, had he lived in this century, would have been qualified for important political rank, for support of this cause has become the first condition for admission to the high temporal places. His life was spent in pursuing the lure of an excessive vanity and in the very year of his death, 1896, the fantasy which led him became a political and practical reality, dominating our time. While he went his vagrant way between
[†] Oliphant touched on an interesting point. One interpretation of the numerous prophecies is that the end of the world will follow the “return” of the Jews to
[‡] At that time it hardly reached the mind of the Gentile multitude. In 1841 a Colonel Churchill, English Consul at