"pale of settlement", 1840, 1868, and 1919

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 11 01:11:59 UTC 2011

Some observations on the Russian Pale.

There is a detailed work from 1884 called The Jewish Question in
Russia, written in Russian by Prince Demidov - San Donato and then
translated into English, which does not use the phrase "Pale of
Settlement" but instead talks about the "limits of Jewish domicile".

The NYTimes in August 1890 published extensive excerpts from a Russian
work called "Laws in Relation to the Jews / Extracts from the Code of
The Russian Empire Dealing With Jews". These translations do not refer
to the Pale, but do clearly use the phrase "Jewish settlement" to
refer to this geographic area.

In October 1890, however, the NYTimes published excerpts from two
articles from other publications, "Blackwood's Magazine" and
"Fortnightly Review", and refers for the first time to the "Pale of
Settlement", putting the phrase in quotation marks.

In looking at several of the 1890/1891 sources, it is possible that
the phrase "Pale of Settlement" is coming out of translations of the
1886 Passport laws, which makes the 1890 date understandable.

BTW, I am not convinced of the 1890 date for the novel. The eBook is dated 1896.


On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 3:18 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "pale of settlement", 1840, 1868, and 1919
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For "pale of settlement", which the OED3, Aug. 2010, defines
> *specifically* as the Russian Pale (pale n.1, sense 4.c), the
> earliest quotation is 1890:
>      The Jews,..as soon as the contract was completed..had to return
> within the 'pale' of settlement.
> Items (1) and (2) below are, I infer, literal references to
> geographical, although not precisely defined, areas -- and are not
> references to the Russian Pale.  To me, the interesting question is
> how these arose -- From the Russian Pale (which seems possible, since
> that was established in 1791)?  Or independently?
> Item (3) does refer to the Russian Pale.
> But I have not found (GBooks) any "pale of settlement" referring to
> the Russian Pale before the OED's 1890, when there are suddenly 6
> apparently-different instances alleged for that year, one from the
> Nation, another in a novel (WorldCat confirms 1890 for this
> novel).  Another interesting question is -- If the Russian Pale was
> established in 1791, why are there no instances in English until 100
> years later?
> ----------
> (1)  1840.
> The finest lakes of Van Diemen's Land are so remote---so far beyond
> the pale of settlement and civilization, that few, save bush-rangers,
> stock keepers, or flock-masters, have visited their delightful shores.
> _Colonial Magazine and Commercial-Maritime Journal ...
> September---December, 1840. Vol. III_. London: Fisher, Son, & Co. [no
> date].  Page 361.  (Page 353 has at the bottom "Vol. III.---No.
> 11".)  [GBooks, Full view.]
> ----------
> (2)  1868.
> At the present day, the A., [Algo'nquins] as well as the Hurons and
> the Iroquois, exist, at least within the pale of settlement, only as
> the shadow of a mighty name, being chiefly confined to several
> miserable villages, with hardly anything of civilisation but its
> individual helplessness.
> _Chambers's Encyclopaedia, a Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for
> the People_. .. Vol. I_  London: W. and R. Chambers, 1868.  Page
> 144.  [GBooks, Full view.]
> ----------
> (3)  1919.
> Still more recently, as a result of the expulsion of the Jews from
> Russia, on account of the enforcement of the pale of settlement, and
> of the May laws of 1882, their number was further increased.
> _The Jews in Poland: Official Reports of the American and British
> Investigating Missions_. Chicago, Ill.: National Polish Committee of
> America, [1920].  "The Morganthau Report. American Commission to
> Negotiate Peace, Mission to Poland, Paris, October 3, 1919."  Page 4,
> col. 2 (Item 4).  [GBooks/Harvard University Library, page images.]
> Interdates OED3 (Aug. 2010)  1890 -- 1927.  The 1890 quotation quotes
> "pale"; the 1927 quotation is "Pale" only, not the full phrase.
> ----------
> Joel
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