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familiedocumenten/the travels of Moses Cassuto p.8
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The travels of Moses Cassuto, 1733-1735 and 1741-1743
A unique document is the diary of Moses Vita Cassuto, written in the first half of the eighteenth century and describing his two journeys, one to Palestine and one to England and Holland.
On this page a part of the summary of this diary describing the second stage of this second journey to England and the Netherlands: the crossing of the North sea and staying in Holland

to the first journey to Palestine

second journey: from Florence to London

from London to Amsterdam
from Holland via Germany back to Florence


from London to Amsterdam

parting from London

There follow many pages in which he discourses to his wife on the habits and customs of the Eng1ish and the Londoners in particular, dilating upon such subjects as trade, the Courts of Law, the climate, the use of coal, the Houses of Par1iament, Westminster, St. James's Palace executions, the animals, and many other matters. Concluding thus :
'Many things remain for me to tell of but I wish to leave them to writers who wish to make of them more extended compositions. For me, what I have collected for my own enjoyment is enough, and I merely record and go my way, satisfied to have received honours, favours, and courtesies from innumerable friends, especially from the Portuguese of our Community ; and thus, divided between a coach and a small carriage, on 24 October, two hours before dawn, we left from London for Ervic [Harwich], the principal harbour of this island for those who wish to travel to Holland'.
It was on this part of the journey that he had the good fortune to meet King George II, and though it lies slightly outside the scope of this article, and though historically perhaps of slight importance, the description is worth including in full as an event in his joumey:

crossing the North sea to Holland

'We passed the towns of Inghiston [Ingatestone] and Chelden [Kelvedon], where we spent the night. On the way we saw a camp of 12,OOO English soldiers and some companies of the Horse Guards - all fine fellows, marvellously mounted, who had to serve as an escort for the King, whose return from Hanover was awaited.
'Having arrived at Harwich on the 25th of the month at two of the afternoon, we stayed there till nearly midnight, then embarked in the packet-boat with a following wind, with which we sailed for two hours. But too much good fortune usually lasts but little, and began to change and vex us.
The wind threw us towards an island of Zeeland. As the Captain did not wish to prolong the journey by standing away from it, and argued that he must press on by all means, he decided to tack into the wind. Our torment continued till the night of the 27th, when, thinking that we were near the harbour at Fuslois [Flushing], as in fact he was, he hoisted a jib-sail and waited for the daylight, so as not to strike some sandbanks. Finally, on the early morning of the 28th, the Sabbath day, we entered this harbour of Holland and sheltered in an inn, bath because of the Sabbath and to recover from the fatigues of two days and three nights at sea in that packet, in a crossing that normally is done in twelve hours.

meeting the king of England

'While we were thanking heaven that we had arrived safe and sound, we had the good fortune just then to meet the King of England, returning from Hanover to England, whom we had not actually seen.
In fact, he arrived the same day after lunch in the Palace prepared for him.
Just behind our inn was a post-chaise bearing a lady, a sign that sooner or later the King would be there, since she travels always with him and is never far off; in fact, two hours later, three post coaches appeared with twelve grenadiers in each, forming the King's escort.
They dismounted and quickly drew up in front of the Palace.
Immediately behind them came a carriage with six post-horses containing the King of England and with him two of his gentlemen. Another coach with twelve more grenadiers followed - all of them forming up on one side of the Palace, the others being already on guard at the other side, thus forming two ranks. A salute of artillery was then heard, to which the squadron of twelve warships replied.
It lay some way off the shore under the command of young Admiral Norris, whose duty it was to escort the King to Harwich, the first point of entry to England from these parts.

'The King did not stay more than half an hour in the Palace, then quickly was seen to come out, dressed in scarlet, wearing a powdered black wig. He was of comely appearance, and the two aforesaid gentlemen on either side. But without any other formality, he walked about the place, returning salutes with many curtseys, and again stopping to talk with two ladies, who complimented him with endless curtseys on his arrival.
'The King stayed at Fuslois until the morning, when, as the wind was favourable and everything was ready for his departure, he was seen to leave the Palace quickly and walk a few steps towards the landing-stage of the canal in front of the Palace. He got into a boat, sailed by twelve sailors dressed in velvet. With him were his two gentlemen and the young Admiral Norris, who took the tiller, with his Admiral's staff in his hand, his head covered with a large cap of black velvet with a similar brim.

'They took them to the anchorage, where they embarked on the Royal packet-boat named The Caroline, which was draped in crimson velvet and gold. Then the Admiral boarded the flagship of the squadron and ordered the boat with the twelve sailors to be roused; then hoisting sails, and raising the Royal Standard, to a Royal salute by both sets of guns, they departed, escorting his Majesty.
Thus ended the festivity, in which we had the good fortune to see the King many times, as we had not seen him in London, though we wished to do so'.

Further to Amsterdam

After passing Leiden on 30 October he reached Amsterdam, which is also described in great detail. Among its population of 300,000 persons of all nations he mentions as important the Portuguese and German Jews, who each have their independent synagogues and their own regulations. The Germans, as being in greater number, estimated at 30,000, had eight synagogues and the Portuguese only one, which is considered one of the remarkable sights of the country for its great magnificence, its lights, columns, its Ark of the Law with doors of jacaranda wood.
The institutions and practices of the Sephardi community receive a detailed description.
Most of it, however , is well known and need not be summarised. He was present both at the lavish celebrations at tending a circumcision and at a brief address at the Medrash of Es haim delivered by a visiting personage appealing for funds for captives in Barbary - a discourse wich impressed him so much that he wrote it down in summary form and gives it to us.

He adds that the city of Amsterdam is full of Jews who have taken refuge after having changed their religion in other countries - that is, of Catholics who have abandoned their faith, but of this subject and a similar one he has already spoken when in London, but he finds here the same practices as evidently characteristic of Protestantism.

To The Hague

On 5 December he left Amsterdam for an excursion to The Hague.
Here he put up at the inn of St. Mark, die owner of which was an Italian of Ventimiglia.
Persons of rank stayed there and he made the acquaintance of one of them, the Duke of Arembergh,
the Queen of Hungary's General, who invited him to visit him in his room.
His feIlow-Jews came, according to custom, to visit him and he saw little of the inn except to sleep. Mostly he dined out with a particular one of them, but also with a wealthy German Jew, well received at the Ministry, and in the house of a Portuguese, where he was served with meat on a silver plate and with dessert on porcelain which was antique. This inspired a thought which affords a welcome glimpse of deep human feeling :

'I cannot deny that I was glad, and my heart rejoiced at seeing such grandeur among our people,
but at the same time I thought of our miseries of the Ghetto of Florence and how they live there'.
(see note about the Florentine ghetto*)

The evenings were spent in varied conversations in the houses of friends or paying visits, in which one saw the magnificence of their palaces, their furniture, or rare gardens. One of such visits was to the Comte de Risechoux, Minister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Back to Amsterdam and discussion of the diamond industry

Then he returned to Amsterdam for further lengthy accounts. One of these concerns the diamond trade. Since he was himself in the trade, and it was one which was largely in Jewish hands, his remarks on this subject are of same interest.

'They possess various manual arts and amongst them that of splitting and cutting diamonds and working them both into facets and brilliants.
A thousand persons are employed in this craft.
To them comes a certain part of the raw, or I should say crude, diamonds, unworked, both from the old Oriental mine and direct from the new one in Brazil.
But the greater part of these raw diamonds (which forms the larger part of either mine there in London) is transported under contract to Amsterdam to be worked there.
Here is the biggest centre of all the world, which orders and gives its commissions in Amsterdam.
There would be many more workers in this craft if there were plenty of work, because in the years 1733 and 1734, when the new mine in Brazil became known, the quantity of diamonds for sale was such that they were spoken of as sold in hatfuls.
Then when everyone took to this work, of which there was too much for all, many became masters and apprentices, who today are out of work'.


* The first Ghetto had got two exits, closed by gates, one on Piazza del Mercato and the other on via dei Succhiellinai (via Roma). On the front main door there was the Medicean coat of arms, and the following writing:

"Cosimo de' Medici, Grand-duke of Tuscany, and his Son, the Prince Francesco wanted (pushed by piety) Jews locked up here, separated by Christians, but not expelled, in order they could be subdued to the very light Christ's yoke. 1571".

For the Jews began a long period full of privation, prohibitions and impositions.
Nonetheless the Medici realized that Jews were important for the trade with the mediterranean countries, so allowed them to live freely in Leghorn, the new tuscan harbour. Jews with italian origin were allowed then to live in the enclosure of the quarter, but those with a levantine origin (from Leghorn) were allowed to live outside enjoying many privileges.
In 1571 there were more or less 500 inhabitants, and so remained in the following century too.

In the Ghetto there were two sinagogues, the italian one and the levantine, facing Piazza della Fonte, the only source of air and light, since the most part of the Ghetto was constituted by narrow streets and alleys covered with vaults permitting the uplifting of the houses in order to increase the living place.
There were also all the indispensable services of the community such as: the slaughter-house, the bread and matzos oven, the mikvè, the schools, the confraternity's residence. All of them were submitted to the jus gazzagà, i.e.: the Isle of the Ghetto, so was called the quarter, was Grand-duke's property, but the Jews could transmit to their sons and nephews the right to live in their homes.

Things got worse when, in 1670, Cosimo III ascended the grand-ducal throne. He was a very bigoted man, and, in 1704, decided to widen the Ghetto in order to compel those who lived out of it (108 families) to get in.
The Ghetto Nuovo included the block nearby via De' Pecori with a new exit on Piazza dell'Olio. Nothing changed when Cosimo III died even if the Jews withstood his decision, until, in 1737, the Medici family came to an end, and the Lorena came into power.

The Lorena, influenced by the Illuminism ideas, were well-disposed towards Jews and since 1750 allowed them to buy the buildings where were located the two sinagogues. Since 1755 the gates of the Ghetto were no more closed at the sunset and in 1779 all the houses were put in sale and shops bought by a group of jewish bankers.
When the napoleonic troops came to Italy and in Tuscany too, they brought freedom, equality and brotherhood, the values supported by the French Revolution, and all the prohibitions fell. After the 1815 with the Restoration and the return of the Lorena, even if the ancient prohibitions were restored, freedom was so deep-rooted that in 1848 the gates of the Ghetto were pulled down; nonetheless many Jews, the poorest in particular, went on living in it.


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