The Wandering Jew— Volume 8

Contents:
Author: Eugène Sue

Chapter I. The Wandering Jew’s Chastisement.

’Tis night—the moon is brightly shining, the brilliant stars are sparkling in a sky of melancholy calmness, the shrill whistlings of a northerly wind—cold, bleak, and evil-bearing—are increasing: winding about, and bursting into violent blasts, with their harsh and hissing gusts, they are sweeping the heights of Montmartre. A man is standing on the very summit of the hill; his lengthened shadow, thrown out by the moon’s pale beams, darkens the rocky ground in the distance. The traveller is surveying the huge city lying at his feet—the City of Paris—from whose profundities are cast up its towers, cupolas, domes, and steeples, in the bluish moisture of the horizon; while from the very centre of this sea of stones is rising a luminous vapor, reddening the starry azure of the sky above. It is the distant light of a myriad lamps which at night, the season for pleasure, is illuminating the noisy capital.

"No!" said the traveller, "it will not be. The Lord surely will not suffer it. Twice is quite enough. Five centuries ago, the avenging hand of the Almighty drove me hither from the depths of Asia. A solitary wanderer, I left in my track more mourning, despair, disaster, and death, than the innumerable armies of a hundred devastating conquerors could have produced. I then entered this city, and it was decimated. Two centuries ago that inexorable hand which led me through the world again conducted me here; and on that occasion, as on the previous one, that scourge, which at intervals the Almighty binds to my footsteps, ravaged this city, attacking first my brethren, already wearied by wretchedness and toil. My brethren! through me—the laborer of Jerusalem, cursed by the Lord, who in my person cursed the race of laborers—a race always suffering, always disinherited, always slaves, who like me, go on, on, on, without rest or intermission, without recompense, or hope; until at length, women, men, children, and old men, die under their iron yoke of self-murder, that others in their turn then take up, borne from age to age on their willing but aching shoulders. And here again, for the third time, in the course of five centuries, I have arrived at the summit of one of the hills which overlooks the city; and perhaps I bring again with me terror, desolation, and death. And this unhappy city, intoxicated in a whirl of joys, and nocturnal revelries, knows nothing about it—oh! it knows not that I am at its very gate. But no! no! my presence will not be a source of fresh calamity to it. The Lord, in His unsearchable wisdom, has brought me hither across France, making me avoid on my route all but the humblest villages, so that no increase of the funeral knell has, marked my journey. And then, moreover, the spectre has left me— that spectre, livid and green, with its deep bloodshot eyes. When I touched the soil of France, its moist and icy hand abandoned mine—it disappeared. And yet I feel the atmosphere of death surrounding me still. There is no cessation; the biting gusts of this sinister wind, which envelop me in their breath, seem by their envenomed breath to propagate the scourge. Doubtless the anger of the Lord is appeased. Maybe, my presence here is meant only as a threat, intending to bring those to their senses whom it ought to intimidate. It must be so; for were it otherwise, it would, on the contrary, strike a loud-sounding blow of greater terror, casting at once dread and death into the very heart of the country, into the bosom of this immense city. Oh, no! no! the Lord will have mercy; He will not condemn me to this new affliction. Alas! in this city my brethren are more numerous and more wretched than in any other. And must I bring death to them? No! the Lord will have mercy; for, alas! the seven descendants of my sister are at last all united in this city. And must I bring death to them? Death! instead of that immediate assistance they stand so much in need of? For that woman who, like myself, wanders from one end of the world into the other, has gone now on her everlasting journey, after having confounded their enemies’ plots. In vain did she foretell that great evils still threatened those who are akin to me through my sister’s blood. The unseen hand by which I am led, drives that woman away from me, even as though it were a whirlwind that swept her on. In vain she entreated and implored at the moment she was leaving those who are so dear to me.—At least, 0 Lord, permit me to stay until I shall have finished my task! Onward! A few days, for mercy’s sake, only a few days! Onward! I leave these whom I am protecting on the very brink of an abyss! Onward! Onward!! And the wandering star is launched afresh on its perpetual course. But her voice traversed through space, calling me to the assistance of my own! When her voice reached me I felt that the offspring of my sister were still exposed to fearful dangers: those dangers are still increasing. Oh, say, say, Lord! shall the descendants of my sister escape those woes which for so many centuries have oppressed my race? Wilt Thou pardon me in them? Wilt Thou punish me in them? Oh! lead them, that they may obey the last wishes of their ancestor. Guide them, that they may join their charitable hearts, their powerful strength, their best wisdom, and their immense wealth, and work together for the future happiness of mankind, thereby, perhaps, enabled to ransom me from my eternal penalties. Let those divine words of the Son of Man, "Love ye one another!" be their only aim; and by the assistance of their all-powerful words, let them contend against and vanquish those false priests who have trampled on the precepts of love, of peace, and hope commanded by the Saviour, setting up in their stead the precepts of hatred, violence, and despair. Those false shepherds, supported ay the powerful and wealthy of the world, who in all times have been their accomplices, instead of asking here below a little happiness for my brethren, who have been suffering and groaning for centuries, dare to utter, in Thy name, O Lord! that the poor must always be doomed to the tortures of this world, and that it is criminal in Thine eyes that they should either wish for or hope a mitigation of their sufferings on earth, because the happiness of the few and the wretchedness of nearly all mankind is Thine almighty will. Blasphemies! is it not the contrary of these homicidal words that is more worthy of the name of Divine will? Hear, me, O Lord! for mercy’s sake. Snatch from their enemies the descendants of my sister, from the artisan up to the king’s son. Do not permit them to crush the germ of a mighty and fruitful association, which, perhaps, under Thy protection, may take its place among the records of the happiness of mankind. Suffer me, O Lord! to unite those whom they are endeavoring to divide—to defend those whom they are attacking. Suffer me to bring hope to those from whom hope has fled, to give courage to those who are weak, to uphold those whom evil threatens, and to sustain those who would persevere in well-doing. And then, perhaps, their struggles, their devotedness, their virtues, this miseries might expiate my sin. Yes, mine—misfortune, misfortune alone, made me unjust and wicked. O Lord! since Thine almighty hand hath brought me hither, for some end unknown to me, disarm Thyself, I implore Thee, of Thine anger, and let not me be the instrument of Thy vengeance! There is enough of mourning in the earth these two years past—Thy creatures have fallen by millions in my footsteps. The world is decimated. A veil of mourning extends from one end of the globe to the other. I have traveled from Asia even to the Frozen Pole, and death has followed in my wake. Dost Thou not hear, O Lord! the universal wailings that mount up to Thee? Have mercy upon all, and upon me. One day, grant me but a single day, that I may collect the descendants of my sister together, and save them!" And uttering these words, the wanderer fell upon his knees, and raised his hands to heaven in a suppliant attitude.

Suddenly, the wind howled with redoubled violence; its sharp whistlings changed to a tempest. The Wanderer trembled, and exclaimed in a voice of terror, "O Lord! the blast of death is howling in its rage. It appears as though a whirlwind were lifting me up. Lord, wilt Thou not, then, hear my prayer? The spectre! O! do I behold the spectre? Yes, there it is; its cadaverous countenance is agitated by convulsive throes, its red eyes are rolling in their orbits. Begone! begone! Oh! its hand—its icy hand has seized on mine! Mercy, Lord, have mercy! ’Onward!’ Oh, Lord! this scourge, this terrible avenging scourge! Must I, then, again carry it into this city, must my poor wretched brethren be the first to fall under it—though already so miserable? Mercy, mercy! ’Onward!’ And the descendants of my sister —oh, pray, have mercy, mercy! ’Onward!’ O Lord, have pity on me! I can no longer keep my footing on the ground, the spectre is dragging me over the brow of the hill; my course is as rapid as the death-bearing wind that whistles in my track; I already approach the walls of the city. Oh, mercy, Lord, mercy on the descendants of my sister—spare them! do not compel me to be their executioner, and let them triumph over their enemies. Onward, onward! The ground is fleeing from under me; I am already at the city gate; oh, yet, Lord, yet there is time; oh, have mercy on this slumbering city, that it may not even now awaken with the lamentations of terror, of despair and death! O Lord, I touch the threshold of the gate; verily Thou willest it so then. ’Tis done—Paris! the scourge is in thy bosom! oh, cursed, cursed evermore am I. Onward! on! on!"[34]

[34] In 1346, the celebrated Black Death ravaged the earth, presenting the same symptoms as the cholera, and the same inexplicable phenomena as to its progress and the results in its route. In 1660 a similar epidemic decimated the world. It is well known that when the cholera first broke out in Paris, it had taken a wide and unaccountable leap; and, also memorable, a north-east wind prevailed during its utmost fierceness.

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Chicago: Eugène Sue, "Chapter I. The Wandering Jew’s Chastisement.," The Wandering Jew— Volume 8, ed. CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb and trans. Stanley Young in The Wandering Jew—Volume 8 (New York: The Modern Library Publishers, 1918), Original Sources, accessed January 30, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EW53CVSTE2GXZL.

MLA: Sue, Eugène. "Chapter I. The Wandering Jew’s Chastisement." The Wandering Jew— Volume 8, edited by CM01B10.Txt - 149 Kb, CM01B10.Zip - 56 Kb, and translated by Stanley Young, in The Wandering Jew—Volume 8, New York, The Modern Library Publishers, 1918, Original Sources. 30 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EW53CVSTE2GXZL.

Harvard: Sue, E, 'Chapter I. The Wandering Jew’s Chastisement.' in The Wandering Jew— Volume 8, ed. and trans. . cited in 1918, The Wandering Jew—Volume 8, The Modern Library Publishers, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 30 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EW53CVSTE2GXZL.