Memorials of the French — Old Jewish Synagogue — New Jewish Synagogue — Churches — Buschs Monument—English Reformed Church — Departure for Lübeck

Lockstedt, 1st July 1820.
MY DEAR J ****,
THURSDAY was varied with fewer incidents than any day I have yet passed in Germany. Having slept in town the preceding night, I walked out to Lockstedt early in the morning, and devoted several hours to writing. We spent the evening in the suburbs, at the house of a friend with whom you became acquainted a few years since in Ireland.

While lounging yesterday morning in the Exchange-Hall, a quaker was pointed out to me, who has come from England with the view of converting the Hamburg Jews, — and has disseminated a pamphlet among them, drawn up to promote his undertaking. I was afterwards conducted by a young Hanseatic officer round the harbour, and part of the rampart, — where I observed several cannon balls imbedded in the walls of some of the houses — a standing memorial of the French bombardment. I was much disappointed at finding that not a single vestige remained of the famous wooden bridge, which had extended nearly four miles across land and water, between Hamburg and Haarburg. It was built by the French with almost incredible expedition. The value of the timber, and some jealousies subsisting between the inhabitants of the two towns, led — as I have been told — to its demolition, which has been just effected.

The evening was to me one of considerable interest. Being curious to witness the ceremonials of the Israelite worship, I accompanied a friend to the two rival synagogues (or temples, as they are here termed), — for the Jews have so far conformed to the usages of the Christian church, that there is a very formidable schism growing up among them. We first repaired to the sanctuary of that class who strictly adhere to the ancient forms. The interior had rather a mean appearance, with the exception of the altar, which was very magnificent. It was covered with green brocade, richly embroidered; about it were Hebrew inscriptions; and the name “JEHOVAH” appeared above in letters of solid gold. On each side stood ten yellow twisted tapers, and in front a large candelabrum, — beside which lay a fine Hebrew manuscript in folio bound. Before the service commenced, I was amusing myself in turning over the leaves of this manuscript, until I perceived from the grimaces of some of the elder part of the congregation that I was giving offence. There were two tiers of galleries, the upper of which is devoted exclusively to females. In the very centre of the apartment stood an elevated square pulpit, large enough to accommodate several rabbies. These had caps not much differing from those worn by the pensioners in our university (except that the crown was circular instead of square), and a single stripe of black stuff down the back, resembling a perpendicular section of a college gown. A young rabbi began the service, which consisted throughout of singing — interrupted only by intervals of silence, during which all appeared engaged in internal prayer. The voice of this priest was of uncommon strength and flexibility; and his turns and graces quite scientific; but his delivery was so rapid that — although favoured with a book, and tolerably conversant with the language — I was unable to keep pace with him. Frequently, during some of his most erratic flourishes, he on a sudden threw in the following words:—

              „Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.“

Upon hearing these words (which were uttered rather slowly, and in a deep tone,) the whole congregation — young men, old men, and boys — chimed in, so as to produce a somewhat dissonant, but at the same time a wild and awful effect. At one part of the service, the officiating rabbi approached the altar, — and, having thrown a drab cowl over his head, exhibited a variety of silent gesticulations — sometimes advancing, sometimes retiring, and bowing to the right and left.

As we had to visit the heterodox synagogue, in which the new Hamburg temple-service is celebrated, we were obliged to depart before the close. The new temple is very neat in its appointments, and provided with an organ; which is, however, kept concealed by a curtain. The principal decoration consists of a number of massy candlesticks, painted blue and highly gilt. The liturgy adopted here is composed chiefly of hymns in the German language, which are chanted alternately by the rabbi and congregation. Among these Hebrew and Chaldee sentences are occasionally introduced, which are printed in the German as well as in the Hebrew character. In the books of both temples the Masoretic points are employed.

I have this day atoned for my Jewish orgies of last evening by visiting several of the Christian churches. They are in general splendid, embellished with a profusion of pictures, and so studded with confessionals as to resemble Roman Catholic chapels. In one I observed a baptismal font of extraordinary workmanship. I also saw a communion-table, the enclosure of which was surrounded by a brass railing. Every separate rail was presented by a different individual, and the name of the donor always appeared engraved upon his gift.

After going the rounds of the churches, I went to see the monument of Busch — a German Dr. Lucas — who had been a professor of philosophy, and a distinguished member of the Patriotic Society; respecting which I shall send you a line one day or other. The monument — which surmounts a green hillock on the rampart, between the Dammtor and the Steintor (two of the gates), — consists of an obelisk of granite. In the plinths of the base are tablets of serpentine. That facing the north is inscribed — Geburtsjahr [“Year of birth”] 1728; that on the south — Todesjahr [“Year of death”] 1800; that on the east — Von seinen dankbaren Mitbürgern [“From his grateful fellow-citizens”] 1801; that on the west — Dem Freunde des Vaterlandes Johann Georg Busch [“To the friend of his country John George Busch”]. Above the inscription on the east there is a bas-relief — representing the city of Hamburg personified, pouring a libation upon an altar. Within a few paces of the monument a weeping willow was planted, which is now withered.

                                                        3d July.

It is scarcely dawn, and yet I have the pen in my hand again. We are to set out for Lubeck about seven o'clock, and I therefore wish to have this letter finished before our departure.

Yesterday, being Sunday, I went to the English Reformed Church. The service was a compound of the English and Scotch liturgies — a form devised by the clergyman (the Rev. Mr. Fisher,) with the view of uniting into one congregation those few British subjects, whom fortune has assembled at Hamburg. This liberal attempt has however proved abortive, as the minister himself stated when the sermon was over, adding — that he should for the future adhere exclusively to the liturgy of the church of Scotland. After service I walked out hither through Eppendorf. The way was very pleasant, being chiefly across fields. But I must prepare for my tour — from which I am sanguine enough to predict that you will derive some gratification, as well as my companions and myself.
Yours, &c. &c.