Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter XVIII: Pretty, but Pernicious Prattle >> Page 179

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Page 179

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN179
which would have rendered him less sensitive to the opinion of
others. Much of his weakness lay in this respect; hence the terrible
mortification under which he succumbed because of his failure at the
Augusta meeting. When Sheridan failed in the House of Commons,
he exclaimed, with an oath "I have it in me, and by! it shall
come out ! " The consciousness of intellectual resource, in his case, was
sustained by a will, commencing with his self-esteem, and stimulating
to new effort. The failure of Walter Dunbar had the opposite effect
in depressing his energies, making him doubtful of his own future,
and distrustful of every effort which he should hereafter make to
retrieve his reputation. He now absolutely shrunk from and shud-
dered at the idea of boldly facing the multitude, at the Court House,
or at the hustings, in the renewal of a practice which had been once
his pride, as most successfully begun.
The effect of Angelica's revelations upon him was to bring up
again, in full array before his memory and imagination, the painful
experiences of the few past months the complications in his political
moral; the failure of his speech; the harsh and cruel denunciations
of his father; the disappointment of his friends; the supposed exal-
tations of his enemies; in brief, the thousand humiliations which the
thought of a morbid and ambitious mind will conjure up under such
circumstances, all tending to the same result, that of keeping down
his hope, depressing his energies, and holding ever before him the
mortifying suggestion that he had deceived himself with regard to
his powers, and that the little world in which he lived had lost all
faith in his capacity for performance in the exacting and ambitious
profession which he had chosen. He was no longer an authority
among men; he shuddered at the idea that he had been a fraud upon
himself, as upon them �a mere pretender �a self-deluded imposition.
It was with the greatest effort that he was enabled to preserve
something like calmness of face and temper, in the presence of
Angelica. He writhed beneath the torture which she so unconsciously
inflicted. Before his mind's eye now stood forth prominent, as the
embodiment of all his mortification, the form of Stephen Joscelyn.
He recalled the unwieldy movements of the cripple; his herculean
shoulders; the calm dignity of his face; his noble head and aspect;
his dignified bearing, in spite of his deformity; and he cursed, in the
bitterness of his soul, that tacit assumption and assertion of superiority