The Wandering Jew In England
Categories: OMENS AND PHANTASMS
Scary Books: The Haunters & The Haunted
: "Notes and Queries"
When on the weary way to Golgotha, Christ fainting, and overcome under
the burden of the cross, asked Salathiel, as he was standing at his
door, for a cup of water to cool His parched throat, he spurned the
supplication, and bade Him on the faster.
"I go," said the Saviour, "but thou shalt thirst and tarry till I come."
And ever since then, by day and night, through the long centuries he has
been doomed to wander about the earth, ever craving for water, and ever
expecting the day of judgment which shall end his toils:
"Mais toujours le soleil se leve,
Tourne la terre ou moi je cours,
Toujours, toujours, toujours, toujours!"
Sometimes, during the cold winter nights, the lonely cottager will be
awoke by a plaintive demand for "Water, good Christian! water for the
love of God!" And if he looks out into the moonlight, he will see a
venerable old man in antique raiment, with grey flowing beard, and a
tall staff, who beseeches his charity with the most earnest gesture. Woe
to the churl who refuses him water or shelter. My old nurse, who was a
Warwickshire woman, and, as Sir Walter said of his grandmother, "a most
_awfu' le'er_," knew a man who boldly cried out, "All very fine, Mr
Ferguson, but you can't lodge here." And it was decidedly the worst
thing he ever did in his life, for his best mare fell dead lame, and
corn went down, I am afraid to say how much per quarter. If, on the
contrary, you treat him well, and refrain from indelicate inquiries
respecting his age--on which point he is very touchy--his visit is sure
to bring good luck. Perhaps years afterwards, when you are on your
death-bed, he may happen to be passing; and if he _should_, you are
safe; for three knocks with his staff will make you hale, and he never
forgets any kindnesses. Many stories are current of his wonderful cures;
but there is one to be found in Peck's _History of Stamford_ which
possesses the rare merit of being written by the patient himself. Upon
Whitsunday, in the year of our Lord 1658, "about six of the clock, just
after evensong," one Samuel Wallis, of Stamford, who had been long
wasted with a lingering consumption, was sitting by the fire, reading in
that delectable book called _Abraham's Suit for Sodom_. He heard a knock
at the door; and, as his nurse was absent, he crawled to open it
himself. What he saw there, Samuel shall say in his own style:--"I
beheld a proper, tall, grave old man. Thus he said: 'Friend, I pray
thee, give an old pilgrim a cup of small beere!' And I said, 'Sir, I
pray you, come in and welcome.' And he said, 'I am no Sir, therefore
call me not Sir; but come in I must, for I cannot pass by thy doore.'"
After finishing the beer: "Friend," he said, "thou art not well." "I
said, 'No, truly Sir, I have not been well this many yeares.' He said,
'What is thy disease?' I said, 'A deep consumption, Sir; our doctors
say, past cure: for, truly, I am a very poor man, and not able to follow
doctors' councell.' 'Then,' said he, 'I will tell thee what thou shalt
do; and, by the help and power of Almighty God above, thou shalt be
well. To-morrow, when thou risest up, go into thy garden, and get there
two leaves of red sage, and one of bloodworte, and put them into a cup
of thy small beere. Drink as often as need require, and when the cup is
empty fill it again, and put in fresh leaves every fourth day, and thou
shalt see, through our Lord's great goodness and mercy, before twelve
dayes shall be past, thy disease shall be cured and thy body altered.'"
After this simple prescription, Wallis pressed him to eat: "But he said,
'No, friend, I will not eat; the Lord Jesus is sufficient for me. Very
seldom doe I drinke any beere neither, but that which comes from the
rocke. So, friend, the Lord God be with thee.'"
So saying, he departed, and was never more heard of; but the patient got
well within the given time, and for many a long day there was war hot
and fierce among the divines of Stamford, as to whether the stranger was
an angel or a devil. His dress has been minutely described by honest
Sam. His coat was purple, and buttoned down to the waist; "his britches
of the same couler, all new to see to"; his stockings were very white,
but whether linen or jersey, deponent knoweth not; his beard and head
were white, and he had a white stick in his hand. The day was rainy from
morning to night, "but he had not one spot of dirt upon his cloathes."
Aubrey gives an almost exactly similar relation, the scene of which he
places in the Staffordshire Moorlands. The Jew there appears in a
"purple shag gown," and prescribes balm-leaves.