Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/539

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THE WANDERING JEW AT THE SALPÊTRIÈRE.

the season were exchanged, and the charitable donations were placed in a bag, which was emptied into a sleigh that followed the serenaders. In begging for the poor, request was always made for a chine of pork with the tail attached, called l'échignée, or la chigné. In high good humor, heralded by barking dogs and shouting children, the whole party started for the next house.

Tradition constitutes the archives of a people, the treasures of their faiths and beliefs, the landmarks of their past history. The people's superstitions are, in truth, the people's poetry — crude, grotesque, but surely most pathetic efforts to find shape and substance for images cast by their own innate emotions, fears, and aspirations. These blind searchings after truths that lie beyond the confines of the senses, and outside the domain of logic, possess a deep significance from a human as well as from a literary point of view. These strivings are themselves phenomena to be taken into account before we can solve the problem of life.


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THE WANDERING JEW AT THE SALPÊTRIÈRE.

By M. HENRI COUPIN.

THERE is always something of truth in even the most confused legends. Such is the case, for example, with the widespread legend of the Wandering Jew, which seems at first sight to have been wholly invented, but which can in reality be explained by examples originating in neuropathy. A very curious essay on this subject has been recently published by Dr. Henry Meige, from which we cite a few of the facts.

The beginning of the story of the eternal traveler Cartophilus, Ahasuerus (Fig. 1), or Isaac Laquedem — according to the country in which it is told is familiar. By the account of Matthew Paris, Cartophilus was the bearer of Pontius Pilate's pretorium. When Jesus Christ was passing through the gate, he struck him with his hand, and said: "Go on, Jesus, go faster; what are you stopping for?" Jesus, turning to him, replied, "I am going, but you shall tarry till I come again, and shall be always wandering." According to another version, Ahasuerus is a large man, with flowing hair, a Jew in nationality, a shoemaker by trade, "who was present at the death of Jesus Christ, and has continued in life ever since." Historians agree, whichever version is taken, in representing the Wandering Jew as marching hither and thither, visiting cities hastily, appearing now in Hamburg, now in Moscow, now in Paris, etc., but always with the same aspect. Painters are no less agreed in representing the portraits after a single model; whether executed at Bautzen or at Epinal, in 1600 (Fig. 2)