Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter IX: Outbreak >> Page 85

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Page 85

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN8
"And why should I not pursue this track, and see whither it shall
lead? Why waste time with those emotions, earning simply the bread
which feeds and the clothes which cover me? Am I not endowed for
better things? Do I not dream of grand debates by night? Do I not
meditate deep issues of argument by day, and do I not involuntarily
speak those things which men call eloquence when they hear? Does
not the strong instinct thus speak perpetually within me, as with irre-
sistible overflow, and would not this seem to prove the natural en-
dowment? Where the instinct is so strong and coercive, would it not
seem to argue in behalf of the gift? Is it not that mysterious some-
thing which in earlier days men called inspiration that sacred mad-
ness which drove poets into prophecy, and established the oracles of
the true God, even in the temples of the heathen!
"But the age no longer suffers the prophet, and scorns the poet!
What then? Shall I be dumb because there be oracles no longer?
Is this man, Drayton, silent because he is recognized only as lawyer
or orator, and not as a prophetic teacher of the future? He can
prophesy! All great men are prophets! The future is read in the
past, and in that volume of humanity which always lies open to him
who has the observing eye, the thinking mind, and the will to shape
his thoughts to action. And his province is also open to me. Why
not pursue my profession? Why not make the law an oracle for my
people? the law, that perfection of man's wisdom, in which he seeks,
though at immeasurable intervals of distance, to emulate the Perfect
Law, which is the true God!
"I must do it!
"And yet, what is the prospect in the present condition of the
country? More stirring necessities are at hand trials for thought
and courage which shall utterly obscure the feebler decrees of courts
and juries, and task the souls of men to the crisis of a mighty revolu-
tion. I behold it looming up in the distance, a shadow which grows
larger every day, and which is destined, I doubt not, to envelope all
our sky! Great Britain will never forego the exercise of that power,
which, knowing the provincialism of the colonies, will not see that
they too possess a power, in their own certain growth, which, after a
long struggle, they shall themselves comprehend, and which shall be
able to breast her own ! In this impending conflict the laws will be
silent!