Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter II >> Page 109

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 109

Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription THE LAST DAYS OF THE GOTH. 109
pense ! No ! These serve not me ! I labor not for him ; nor yet for the lovesick and feeble Egiza. They think me their ally—their willing friend—their creature. Fools ! they are mine. The hour is ripening—the church is strengthening amongst the people, and, if the pope will but heed my prayer, it shall have its own armies ! And who shall lead those armies ? Who ?"
His question was answered by himself, as, lifting the crosier from the table, he bore it aloft with his extended arm, as if that moment he grasped the mace of the soldier rather than the sign of peace ; and his eye gleamed with the fierce desire of Uattle which was working in his soul, as the strong thirst of his ambition led him to regard this theatre as that which was preliminary and essential to his full and complete success.
Ay, the crosier shall become a sword—and the sword"
The archbishop paused. He did not venture to conclude the sentence, even to himself. The sceptre was still something of which he might dream, but not speak. There were still uncertainties to overcome, and seas to cross, and church prejudices and popular prejudices to be worked down, by the gradual attrition of events, before the cowled head could surrender to the Gothic horns. The laurels alone could conceal the shaven crown, and make it worthy of the coronet he coveted ; and these were yet to be gathered on the field of strife. These thoughts, and the doubts that came with them, oppressed him, and he turned away to the contemplation of other objects. His toilet was completed, and, bidding his groom provide for him a favorite steed, he set forth on his way to the palace.
To his surprise the archbishop met king Roderick, just as he was about to enter the apartments of the queen. To his greater surprise yet, the king smiled upon him, and spoke in language not merely of condescension but of regard ; as if he had lost entirely from his memory the transactions of the morning. Such are the caprices of tyranny. Indeed, it is the caprices of tyranny which make it tyranny. It is the alternations of power which occasionally soothe and soften its own terrors, that prompt to continued obedience in that spirit which, in the people, would otherwise discard their shackles. Were it not for the hope of amendment, which the insidious smile, the bland indulgence, and the cunningly conceived promises hold forth, resentment would soon correct wrong, and suffering rise into rebellion, and exact justice on fearful terms of rebuke from the reckless oppressor. The successful tyrant is the judicious thunderer.
But such was not Roderick. He loved too much to hear the sounds of his own thunder. He was too fond of witnessing the exhibitions of his own power, and of having it beheld by others ; and in this, in great part, lay the secret of his downfall His bland benignity of manner, on meeting with Oppas, was not the result of any thoughtful policy It was simply in his change of mood that he smiled. Besides, he had gained one, if not all, of his objects. He had extorted the wealth, to obtain which his anger had been admirably pretended ; and with one whose profligacies demanded continual supplies of money, the attainment of so large an amount as had been furnished by Oppas, was a sufficient occasion for good humor. A moment's reflection soon taught this to the archbishop, and he too smiled—and, with more of policy than Roderick, he too appeared to discard from his thought the scene of the