Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XIII: How the Strife Began >> Page 129

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Page 129

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN129
"I deny that for this proceeding they had any sanction from the
Council of Safety."
"Ah! God keep us ! You are a lawyer ! You are a lawyer ! able to
make your own spider webs that only enmesh fools, while you have
secret avenues of escape for yourselves. No! perhaps your Council
of Safety did not say to the `Liberty Boys' do this, in this particular
instance, Tom Browne being the victim; but they chuckled over the
deed. Can you deny that they have sanctioned nay, ordered, this
performance, in Charleston, in many cases, where, asserting the privi-
lege of speech and opinion, which you would deny to all those who
differ from you, men have been borne through the city on carts, clad
as you see me now, amidst the blows and whips and revilings of the
mob; and you looked on, and smiled, and cried out `Well done,
brethren! Liberty demands that Terror shall sit beside her as she
goes in state, and Brutality shall prepare the way for her march even
over crushed bodies and bleeding hearts'?"
Drayton was silent. His conscience smote him with the truth of
the charge. He knew, too well, what Browne could not confidently
assert, that he himself, as chairman of the Council of Safety, had, in
some instances, himself written the orders prescribing this brutal pun-
ishment as the proper agency for suppressing opposition in the city.
The reflection was no way grateful to him, and he felt, for the first
time, the cruel doubt, whether, in the name of Liberty, he had not
consented to the groweest outrage upon Humanity. It was a subject
not to be dwelt upon with complacency in his present or in any situ-
ation. Nor could the art of the lawyer, nor could the natural endow-
ments of the man, provide him with a ready answer to the fierce,
natural eloquence of the outraged victim, thus exhibiting the horrid
proof, in his own person, of the truth of his charge, and illustrating
its terrible cruelties by his own loathsome condition. The madman
had become endowed with a speech of fire, which sped like a light-
ning shaft through the assemblage. He had employed the same mode
of argument with Mark Antony, when he showed the bloody robes
of Caesar in the sight of the Roman populace.
The effect was indescribable, and yet all the parties present had
been familiar with this mode of punishment. It had been adopted
from the British themselves. It had been freely employed by the
leaders among the Regulators and Scovilites, many of whom were