Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter V >> Page 95

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Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription THE LAST DAYS OF THE GOTH. 95
Stimulated by the religious fury which filled his bosom, Romano had no desire for sleep ; and, though the hour was late, yet trusting to find Oppas still up, or most probably not giving the doubt a thought, he proceeded to the archbishop's palace. He had been waited for. The latter was too deeply interested in the subject of the monk's mission to resign himself to sleep while the labors of.the priest were yet unconsummated ; and his anxiety to hear, though suppressed by the stronger policy which governed him, was scarcely less active than was that of Romano for speech. It will not need that we should dwell upon their conference. It is sufficient to say that the archbishop, still aiming at an entire control over the mind of the zealot, furnished new arguments and repeated old ones in a novel form, .calculated to inflame his fanaticism, and prevent its rage from subsiding. The religion of the zealot is most commonly the vanity of a strong but unequal intellect, of a mind in which the faculties are not equally balanced—some few, and those, perhaps, the most selfish (such as the imaginative) being too greatly in the ascendant to forbear tyrannizing over the rest ; and whether the man in whom this occurs be of the religion of Jove or Brahma, of Manco Capac or Mahomet, the mere principles of his professed faith will have but little influence in modifying the madness under which he moves. Any religion would serve equally well, in the hands of a cunning prompter, to impel such a person to the foulest crime, who, in its commission, would never for a moment question in their own minds, or suffer others to question, the great service they were rendering to God.
The archbishop was a prompter cunning after this fashion. Cunning, not wis-
. dom, was the art which he employed. The distinction between these two powers is not sufficiently dwelt upon. The former pursues an object, whether it be good or evil, without scrupling to employ in its pursuit every agent that may serve it, whether right or wrong. Wisdom has but one single aim, and that is right ; and she employs but one set of agents, and those are all right. We should have reason always to suspect the propriety of employing any other, since, when was it ever known that the powers of evil came freely to work for the principle of good ? Truth is always single ; and if we kept this fact continually in mind, truth would be a common virtue of the household, which is now a mystery.
But power and perverse passions were the objects for which the archbishop toiled, not virtue ; and the practice of fraud and subtlety, from having been employed by him for the attainment of these objects, became objects of themselves in time, and he derived pleasure from their practice. The pursuit of mischief called for his ingenuity, and the love of the curious and the ingenious is a natural love of man. Had Oppas not aimed at power—had he not craved the satisfaction of passions which, in his instance, were denied—he would still have practiced the cunning with which he controlled and prompted Romano, for a pleasure of its own. But in their use, the creature which they moved was suffered to behold none of the secret springs. The art concealed itself, and the heedless fanatic assumed to himself, as innate disco7eries, the various plans and purposes, every one of which the other had insinuated.. Not a word spoken by Oppas was without its signification ; and when, that night, Romano left him, he went forth, ready, as the minister of Heaven's wrath, to commit any crime that might tend to bring about the purpose which he had constantly in view
That night and the ensuing day was a weary and a painful time to the prisoner. The keeper, Guisenard, came more than once to speak with him. The manner of this man was kind, and in his language he strove to be consoling. He evidently pitied Egiza on account of his youth, and much he wondered that one wearing the holy garments of the priesthood should have been prompted to the attempt at crime