In this work an attempt is made to deal with a considerable portion of the history of Zionism that has hitherto been very imperfectly explored, namely, the origin and development of the Zionist idea principally in England, and partly in France, during the last centuries, among Gentiles and Jews.
In reviewing the gradual evolution of the Zionist idea over such a wide field, I could not restrict the meaning of the term "Zionism" to the Zionist Movement and Organization of the present day. I had to go back to the beginning of this idea, and to extend the meaning of "Zionism" to all aspirations and efforts tending in the same direction. There was in these aspirations, undoubtedly, a diversity of reasons and methods which continues to this day. It is the object of the present work to trace these various currents of the idea so that the reader, passing from period to period, and from section to section, may become acquainted with their relative value and their influence upon one another.
In this book I have striven more especially to consider then attitude of the English people towards Zionism, as revealed in the political history and in the literature of England. The Christian religious idea of the Restoration of Israel having been a subject of pre-eminent interest and importance and an influential factor in shaping public opinion in this country for many generations, the greatest care has been bestowed upon the investigation of this aspect, no less than on that relating to the support and encouragement which Zionism has received in England and in France merely on humanitarian or political grounds, apart from religious aspirations.
While tracing in detail the growth of these sympathies, I have endeavoured to throw some light on the motives and sentiments appertaining to the most significant instances on record.