86 121 ENGLISH, GEORGE BETHUNE (1787-1828). Autograph Letter Signed written to “Mr. K. L. of the Hebrew Congregation Richmond Virginia.” Eccentric scholar and Christian heretic, George Bethune English answers a Jewish correspondent: “My determined object is to devote every faculty I possess to the destruction of the credit of the New Testament which I look upon as the source of folly, mischief, and fanaticism the most destructive: as having been the parent of all the sufferings of your nation for the last thousand years and more, and as the demure mother of the Inquisition and all its horrors.” Four pages, with integral address panel. * Accompanied by: Two further letters (unidentified). Boston, March 14th,1814. $1500 - $2500 ❧ George Bethune English was a Harvard theology student who wished to understand why the Jews reject Christianity. In time he became convinced that Christianity was untrue: “[My] curiosity was deeply interested to examine a subject… the reasons, which had prevented a people more interested in the truth of Christianity than any other from believing it… After a long, thorough, and startling examination of their Books… [I] was finally very reluctantly compelled to feel persuaded… the [objections to Christianity of the] Jews were clearly too hard [to answer].” (George Bethune English, “The Grounds of Christianity Examined: By Comparing the New Testament with the Old” (Boston, 1813), p. xii). Because of his controversial book, English was expelled from Harvard and excommunicated by his church. English initiated contacts with Jews, including Gershom Mendes Seixas of Shearith Israel in New York. While Seixas found him mildly interesting, he had absolutely no interest in being drawn into an anti-Christian controversy and forbade English from using his name. English took his interest in forging fellowship with Jews and their refutation of the New Testament to Seixas’ son-in-law, Israel Baer Kursheedt who seems not to have shared his father-in-law’s reticence. Eventually English moved on from his dabbling with Judaism and became a practicing Muslim. (A more detailed account of this letter is available upon request). 122 GRATZ, REBECCA (1781-1869). Autograph Letter Signed written to her sister Rachel Gratz, in English. Remarkably intimate letter to Gratz’s sister Rachel, from “Becky” as she here calls herself. Rebecca discusses their mutual friends, siblings, social activity, and repeatedly professes her affection for Rachel and her children. In one tender passage she compares one of her younger sisters to another who had died, she is like “my adored, ever regretted Angel Isabella.” Three pages, autograph address panel on verso. Few tears at folds, stained. Tall 4to. Accompanied by typed transcription. n.p, December 18-19, 1800. $1500 - $2000 ❧ This letter is a fine look into the social life of Rebecca Gratz and the close relationship with her sister Rachel (1783-1823). Indeed after Rachel died, Rebecca took her sister’s six children into her home and raised them herself. Deeply involved in Jewish education and other charitable good works, Rebecca was also highly sociable, and friends with such American literati as Washington Irving. An educated woman who always sought to enrich her own Jewish learning, Rebecca remained a proud and devout Jew amidst a very Christian environment, who never failed to defend her religious beliefs among Gentile friends. Rebecca founded the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1819 to service Jewish woman and children in need, who heretofore, had to rely on the charity of Christians intent on evangelizing their Hebrew brethren in need.