The Wandering Jew — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,953 pages of information about The Wandering Jew — Complete.

“You know, father, that the last days of my childhood, that happy age of frankness and innocent joy, were spent in an atmosphere of terror, suspicion, and restraint.  Alas! how could I resign myself to the least impulse of confiding trust, when I was recommended to shun the looks of him who spoke with me, in order to hide the impression that his words might cause—­to conceal whatever I felt, and to observe and listen to everything?  Thus I reached the age of fifteen; by degrees, the rare visits that I was allowed to pay, but always in presence of one of our fathers, to my adopted mother and brother, were quite suppressed, so as to shut my heart against all soft and tender emotions.  Sad and fearful in that large, old noiseless, gloomy house, I felt that I became more and more isolated from the affections and the freedom of the world.  My time was divided between mutilated studies, without connection and without object, and long hours of minute devotional exercises.  I ask you, father, did they ever seek to warm our young souls by words of tenderness or evangelic love?  Alas, no!  For the words of the divine Saviour—­Love ye one another, they had substituted the command:  Suspect ye one another.  Did they ever, father, speak to us of our country or of liberty?—­No! ah, no! for those words make the heart beat high; and with them, the heart must not beat at all.  To our long hours of study and devotion, there only succeeded a few walks, three by three—­never two and two—­because by threes, the spy-system is more practicable, and because intimacies are more easily formed by two alone; and thus might have arisen some of those generous friendships, which also make the heart beat more than it should.15 And so, by the habitual repression of every feeling, there came a time when I could not feel at all.  For six months, I had not seen my adopted mother and brother; they came to visit me at the college; a few years before, I should have received them with transports and tears; this time my eyes were dry, my heart was cold.  My mother and brother quitted me weeping.  The sight of this grief struck me and I became conscious of the icy insensibility which had been creeping upon me since I inhabited this tomb.  Frightened at myself, I wished to leave it, while I had still strength to do so.  Then, father, I spoke to you of the choice of a profession; for sometimes, in waking moments, I seemed to catch from afar the sound of an active and useful life, laborious and free, surrounded by family affections.  Oh! then I felt the want of movement and liberty, of noble and warm emotions—­of that life of the soul, which fled before me.  I told it you, father on my knees, bathing your hands with my tears.  The life of a workman or a soldier—­anything would have suited me.  It was then you informed me, that my adopted mother, to whom I owed my life—­for she had taken me in, dying of want, and, poor herself, had shared with me the scanty bread of her child—­admirable sacrifice for a mother!—­that she,” continued Gabriel, hesitating and casting down his eyes, for noble natures blush for the guilt of others, and are ashamed of the infamies of which they are themselves victims, “that she, that my adopted mother, had but one wish, one desire—­”

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The Wandering Jew — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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