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A strange but true RELATION how Mr. EDMUND
Curll, of Fleet-street, Stationer, out of an extraordinary Desire of Lucre, went into 'Change-alley, and was converted from the Christian Religion by certain eminent Jews; and how he was circumcised, and initiated into their Mysteries.
AVARICE (as Sir Richard, in the third page of his Essays, hath elegantly observed) is an inordinate impulse of the soul towards the amassing or heaping together a superfluity of wealth, without the least regard of applying it to its proper uses.
And how the mind of man is possessed with this vice, may be seen every day both in the city and suburbs thereof. It has been always esteemed by Plato, Puffendorff, and Socrates, as the darling vice of old age: but now our young men are turned usurers and stockjobbers; and, instead of lusting after the real wives and daughters of our rich citizens, they covet nothing but their money and estates. Strange change of vice! when the concupiscence of youth is converted into the covetousness of age, and those appetites are now become VENAL, which should be VENEREAL. In the first place, let us shew you
of the ancient worthies and heroes of antiquity have been undone and ruined by this deadly sin of avarice.
I shall take the liberty to begin with Brutus, that noble Roman. Does not Ætian inform us, that he
received fifty broad pieces for the assassination of that renowned Emperor Julius Cæsar, who fell a sacrifice to the Jews as Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey did to the Papists?
Did not Themistocles let in the Goths and Vandals into Carthage for a sum of money, where they barbarously put out the other eye of the famous Hannibal ? as Herodotus hath it in his ninth book upon the Roman medals.
Even the great Cato (as the late Mr. Addison hath very well observed), though otherwise a gentleman of good sense, was not unsullied by this pecuniary contagion ; for he sold Athens to Artaxerxes Longimanus for a hundred rix-dollars, which in our money will amount to two talents and thirty sestertii, according to Mr. Demoivre's calculation. See Hesiod in his seventh chapter of Feasts and Festivals.
Actuated by the same diabolical spirit of gain, Sylla the Roman Consul shot Alcibiades the Senator with a pistol, and robbed him of several bank-bills and 'chequer-notes to an immense value; for which he came to an untimely end, and was denied Christian burial. Hence comes the proverb, Incidat in Syllam.
To come near to our own times, and give you one modern instance, though well known, and often quoted by historians, viz. Echard, Dionysius Halicarnasseus, Virgil, Horace, and others : it is that, I mean, of the famous Godfrey of Bulloigne, one of the great heroes of the holy war, who robbed Cleopatra Queen of Egypt of a diamond necklace, earrings, and a Tompion's gold watch (which was given her by Mark Anthony); all these things were found in Godfrey's breeches' pocket, when he was killed at the siege of Damascus.
Who then can wonder, after so many great and illustrious examples, that Mr. Edmund Curll the stationer should renounce the Christian religion for the Mammon of unrighteousness, and barter his precious faith for the filthy prospect of lucre in the present fluctuation of stocks !
It having been observed to Mr. Curll, by some of his ingenious authors (who I fear are not overcharged with any religion, what immense sums the Jews had got by bubbles“, &c. he immediately turned his mind from the business, in which he was educated, but thrived little, and resolved to quit his shop for Change-alley. Whereupon falling into company with the Jews at their club at the sign of the Cross in Cornhill, they began to tamper with him upon the most important points of the Christian faith, which he for some time zealously, and like a good Christian, obstinately defended. They promised him Paradise, and many other advantages hereafter; but he artfully insinuated, that he was more inclin: able to listen to present gain. They took the hint, and promised him, that immediately upon his conversion to their persuasion he should become as rich They made use likewise of several other arguments; to wit,
as a Jew.
* Bubble was a name given to all the extravagant projects, for which subscriptions were raised, and negotiated at vast premiums in 'Change-alley, in the year 1720. A name which alluded to their production by the ferment of the South-sea, and not to their splendour, emptiness, and inutility; for it did not become a name of reproach in this case, till time completed the metaphor and the bubble broke.
That the wisest man that ever was, and inasmuch the richest, beyond all peradventure was a Jew, videlicet, Solomon.
That David, the man after God's own heart, was a Jew also. And most of the children of Israel are suspected for holding the same doctrine.
This Mr. Curll at first strenuously denied; for indeed he thought them Roman Catholics, and so far was he from giving way to their temptations, that to convince them of his Christianity he called for a pork grisking
They now promised, if he would poison his wife, and give up his grisking, that he should marry the rich Ben Meymon's only daughter. This made some impression on him.
They then talked to him in the Hebrew tongue, which he not understanding, it was observed, had very great weight with him.
They now, perceiving that his godliness was only gain, desisted from all other arguments, and attacked him on his weak side, namely, that of avarice.
Upon which John Mendez offered him an eighth of an advantageous bargain for the Apostles' creed, whichhe readily and wickedly renounced.
He then sold the nine-and-thirty articles for a bulls ;
& Bulls and bears. He who sells that of which he is not possessed, is proverbially said to sell the skin before he has caught the bear. It was the practice of stockjobbers in the year 1720, to enter into contract for transferring S. S. stock at a future time for a certain price; but he who contracted to sell had freVOL. VI.
but insisted hard upon black puddings, being a great lover thereof.
Joshua Pereira engaged to let him share with him in his bottomrye; upon this he was persuaded out of his Christian name; but he still adhered to black puddings.
Sir Gideon Lopez tempted him with forty pound subscription in Ram's bubble; for which he was content to give up the four evangelists, and he was now completed a perfect Jew, all but black pudding and circumcision; for both of which he would have been glad to have had a dispensation.
But on the 17th of March, Mr. Curll (unknown to, his wife) came to the tavern aforesaid. At his entrance into the room he perceived a meagre man, with a sallow countenance, a black forky beard, and long vestment. In his right hand he held a large pair of sheers, and in his left a red-hot searing-iron. At sight of this, Mr. Curll's heart trembled within him, and fain would he retire; but he was prevented by six Jews, who laid hands upon him, and unbuttoning his breeches, threw him upon the table, a pale pitiful spectacle.
He now entreated them in the most moving tone. of voice to dispense with that unmanly ceremonial, which if they would consent to, he faithfully pro
quently no stock to transfer, nor did he who bought intend to receive any in consequence of his bargain; the seller was therefore called a bear, in allusion to the proverb; and the buyer a bull, perhaps only as a similar distinction. The contract was merely a wager to be determined by the rise or fall of stock; if it rose, the seller paid the difference to the buyer proportioned to the sum determined by the same computation to the seller.