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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/544

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Like the Wandering Jew, again, these neuropathic wanderers are shabbily dressed in a great cloak or a long robe reaching nearly down to the ground. They are nearly always men thirty or forty years old, but whom we might, from the wrinkles on their faces, suppose to be double that age. Their beards are long and uncombed. The beard of the Wandering Jew is, perhaps, the most characteristic trait of his figure. The primitive painters, as our figures show, represented it with great sincerity:

"Never was seen
A man so bearded."

The beards seen in the most ancient engravings are as exactly as possible like those of the sufferers observed by M. Meige; they are curled in all their length or are rolled in ringlets on the sides, where they mingle with the hair, also curled.

The faces of all the neuropaths express suffering, lassitude, and despair; a meager countenance, salient cheek-bones, hollow cheeks, and wrinkled foreheads appear in all the sufferers and all the portraits.

From the pathological point of view wandering neuropaths suffer chiefly from nervous exhaustion—neurasthenia—of which they present all the physical and psychical marks. Hysteria may sometimes be added. The Wandering Jew seems likewise never to have had a firm nervous equilibrium, for every time he had occasion to speak to any one he complained of being persecuted.

Thus, after all that we have just said, the Wandering Jew still exists, and under the same form he assumed in past centuries. His figure, his costume, his manners have preserved the same characteristics through the ages. The Wandering Jew of the legend and the Wandering Jew of the clinics are one and the same type: a wandering neuropath, a perpetual pilgrim, appearing to-day, vanishing to-morrow, and followed soon by another who resembles him in all points; a third will come like his predecessors, and then a fourth, and so on. Cartophilus, Ahasuerus, Isaac Laquedem, Moser B——, etc., are children of nervous pathology. Their resemblances result from attacks of the same malady, and have an identical origin.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.

 


 
A curious phenomenon is sometimes observed near Wetter Lake in Sweden, in the standing still of the Motala River. The flow of water ceases and the bed of the river is dried up, while the water is held back in the lake. It was formerly regarded as a miracle and portent. It is attributed by Block to a sudden sharp frost, which freezes the river to the bottom at a shallow place without allowing time for the formation of mere surface ice. An east wind and the growth of reeds near the outflow of the lake may also contribute to the stoppage.