The Jews are more numerous in Poland than in any other European country, amounting to some four hundred and twenty-five thousand, of whom about four fifths live in towns. They are, as already stated, in the almost exclusive possession of the commerce of the country; they also are the great manufacturers and sellers of spirituous and fermented liquors; advance money on lands and goods ; are the only jewellers and silversmiths ; and carry on all pecuniary dealings. Those in the towns are mostly all burgesses, and they may be said to engross all the most lucrative business. But notwithstanding all this, the majority of the Israelites are extremely poor. They seem also to be in a lower state of civilization than any other class. Even the richer individuals, though they occupy the best houses in the towns, appear to care little for cleanliness or comfort; and the lower orders live in a state of filth and discomfort that would be intolerable anywhere else.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855