Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter VI: Walter Dunbar >> Page 59

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription CHAPTER VI.
"He has bungled from the beginning," said Stephen Joscelyn, in
a whisper, to his brother; "has begun with an essay, dealing in gen-
eralizations which begin too far off for his subject. In truth, he is
afraid of his subject, and falters already. He lacks directness, and
seemingly all aim and purpose."
"His heart is not in it," said Martin.
"No, indeed, nor his head either! and the headstrong old man
at his elbow is his evil genius. He is doing the very thing which
will make the young man break down prompting him at every
Sure enough ! old Dunbar could be seen to nudge the speaker with
his elbow, to j irk his coat-skirts, and to mutter at his shoulders. The
youth was restive under this annoyance, and it told on what he had
to say. But this was a petty annoyance compared with his main diffi-
culty. As Martin Joscelyn had remarked, "his heart was not in his
subject," and his head was too honest for his heart, and would not
second its enforced utterances. Besides, he had to overcome a pro-
digious lee-way, in the wake of the accomplished speaker who had
preceded him, to say nothing of the consciousness by which he was
oppressed, that the sympathies of his audience were not with him.
But he struggled on nevertheless, with all the effort of a lawyer, to
make if possible the worse appear the better cause. There was in his
speech a strange admixture of polished didactic sentences, with rude
and abrupt turns of language as of thought, which moved Stephen
Joscelyn to say, in a whisper to Martin:
"He has been writing and memorizing his speech, and has for-
gotten parts of it. His case is like that of Hamlet, who had prepared
his apostrophe for the meeting with the ghost, and forgot the best
parts of it in his fright when the ghost did appear."