Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XII: The Fugitive >> Page 120

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Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription I20JOSCELYN
grim spirit had taken possession of his soul, and the demon of Re-
venge, working in his bosom, had clothed himself, in his eyes, with
the character of a religion ! Solemnly dark were the images that filled
his mind, and vexed all the impatient energies of his thought and
fancy, with the direst images of hate. He was attended ever by a
cloud that seemed to him a wing of Fate, and he heard forever a
goading voice in his ears that bade him go forward, whetting the
knife as he went, and preparing for a bloody feast, in which only
could he satisfy the thirst which consumed him, and the hunger
which almost rejected all ordinary food with loathing; and with this
cloud hovering above him, and with this voice of the vulture singing
to all his senses, he pursued his way through the wilderness afoot,
finding common food unfrequently, shelter rarely in human homes,
yet never once suffering from privation, and never to himself ac-
knowledging the exhaustion from which he not unfrequently dropped
by the wayside, or reposed from, on the roots of trees beside some
running water, where he quenched his thirst.
There is an insanity which never loses its wits. It is embodied in
the intensity of a single purpose, good or bad, supported by an ever-
watchful and tenacious self-esteem, in which no vanity mingles. The
madness which comes from vanity, or entertains it in large degree, is
usually witless without purpose ´┐Ża thing of ever-varying caprice, to
be easily diverted from its object. Its objects are those of the child
chasing the butterfly, plucking flowers only to pull to pieces, and led
off by that will-o'-the-wisp, a bodiless Fancy, in the chase of every
fire-fly that flickers about the woods.
The madness of Browne for such it was belonged to the first of
these two classes. The madness lay in the entire concentration of his
whole mind upon the single purpose, and that purpose was in conflict
with law !
But, however erring in direction, all the human faculties were held
well in hand for its support. Browne did not fail, or neglect, to use
all necessary precautions in the prosecution of his object. Whatever
he knew, from thought or experience, his wits, of whatever nature,
were duly exercised, even as required, in the persevering aim which
he had in his mind. Though he slept beneath the tree, he economised
his strength in frequent appeals to sleep, seasonably, taking care never
to travel so far without rest, as to lessen his ability to accomplish his