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Daniel Deronda

Chapter 42
"Wenn es eine Stutenleiter von Leiden giebt, so hat Israel die höchste Staffel
erstiegen; wen die Dauer der Schmerzen und die Geduld, mit welcher sie
ertragen werden, adeln, so nehmen es die Juden mit den Hochgeborenen aller
Länder auf; wenn eine Literatur reich genannt wird, die wenige klassische
Trauerspiele besitzt, welcher Platz gebührt dann einer Tragodie die anderthalb
Jahrtausende wahrt, gedichtet und dargestellt von den Helden selber?"--ZUNZ:
Die Synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters.
"If there are ranks in suffering, Israel takes precedence of all the nations--if the
duration of sorrows and the patience with which they are borne ennoble, the
Jews are among the aristocracy of every land--if a literature is called rich in the
possession of a few classic tragedies, what shall we say to a National Tragedy
lasting for fifteen hundred years, in which the poets and the actors were also the
heroes?"
Deronda had lately been reading that passage of Zunz, and it occurred to him by
way of contrast when he was going to the Cohens, who certainly bore no obvious
stamp of distinction in sorrow or in any other form of aristocracy. Ezra Cohen was
not clad in the sublime pathos of the martyr, and his taste for money-getting
seemed to be favored with that success which has been the most exasperating
difference in the greed of Jews during all the ages of their dispersion. This
Jeshurun of a pawnbroker was not a symbol of the great Jewish tragedy; and yet
was there not something typical in the fact that a life like Mordecai's--a frail
incorporation of the national consciousness, breathing with difficult breath--was
nested in the self-gratulating ignorant prosperity of the Cohens?
Glistening was the gladness in their faces when Deronda reappeared among
them. Cohen himself took occasion to intimate that although the diamond ring, let
alone a little longer, would have bred more money, he did not mind that--not a
sixpence--when compared with the pleasure of the women and children in seeing
a young gentleman whose first visit had been so agreeable that they had "done
nothing but talk of it ever since." Young Mrs. Cohen was very sorry that baby was
asleep, and then very glad that Adelaide was not yet gone to bed, entreating
Deronda not to stay in the shop, but to go forthwith into the parlor to see "mother
and the children." He willingly accepted the invitation, having provided himself
with portable presents; a set of paper figures for Adelaide, and an ivory cup and
ball for Jacob.
The grandmother had a pack of cards before her and was making "plates" with
the children. A plate had just been thrown down and kept itself whole.
 
 
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