Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter I: Introductory — The Where and When >> Page 6

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription 6JOSCELYN
The city, then but a hamlet, lay below, as now. But the little
group, there and then assembled, looked not forth upon the scene
with those emotions which possessed our party. We were in the full
enjoyment of repose.' We had leisure for the contemplative, and
for the play of such fancies as would have been a mere mockery
in that former day of those earnest and vindictive passions which
were rising in their souls. They were absorbed in the opening of
a grand action �a gigantic tragedy over the proscenium of which
hung an overshadowing fate, with great- black wings, and breath-
ing forth mephitic vapor from its nostrils, which was to overspread
the land with the direst pestilences of war.
Of all these things our little party spoke, for all their results
had been realized. Persops and parties and events were recalled,
and made to pass before 115, like the shadowy spectres that rose
before the vision of Macbeth in the cavern of the witches. It is
for us now, if possible, to recall the events in which these shadowy
forms were to be the actors to clothe them with flesh and blood,
and find for the action its local, habitation and its name. I have,
since that pleasant day in midsummer, gone over the fields) and
possessed myself of the events; have sought from history whatever
details she could afford, and, seeking the aid of other friends among
the old inhabitants, have invoked from the old Druids of tradition,
the domestic record, the personal event, the secret motive, the local
feud, the thousand small details, by which we blend the national
history with little groups, here and there, who played their parts
in its progress, under the goading influences of those various hidden
impulses, passions or vanities which sometimes make men conspicuous
in history against their will. The fruits of these studies and researches
must be sought for in the chapters which follow.
Of the friends who sate with me that midsummer day, but one
survives. The noble intellect of Hammond can no longer teach or
inspire in the circles which honored his mind and manhood. He
has escaped those evils to his country which, in some degree, he
had anticipated; for his was the prophet mind, which, in studies of
the past, shapes the passages of the future; and in the solution,
by a bold induction, of the mysterious problem of humanity, not
unfrequently delivers itself in prophecy.