« PreviousContinue »
ST. JAMES'S MAGAZINE
AUGUST TO NOVEMBER.
PUBLISHED FOR THE PROPRIETORS BY
HOULSTON & WRIGHT, 65, PATERNOSTER ROW.
All rights of reproduction and translation are reserved.
“AND now, when I stood up to read in the simple village church, with the bright clear faces of the guiltless, simple-minded country-folk looking up to me for instruction in their ignorance, for comfort in their troubles, for guidance through the thorns and brambles of this wilderness world, I knew myself to be the guiltiest wretch within those walls. I abhorred myself as a leper, who had no business in the congregation by reason of his hidden loathsome.
I almost wondered that the earth did not open her mouth, and plunge me into swift destruction, because I dared to bring unhallowed fire to the altar of my God! The calm, loving eyes which everywhere met mine were so many daggers, piercing my soul with unspeakable tortures. I tried to calm my conscience by fastings, by self-imposed penances; but I could get no relief from these. They did but aggravate my misery, for it soon got wind how I abstained from food, how I mortified the flesh, how holy' I was, till the villagers were almost ready to regard me as a saint. No wonder I became humble as a little child ; for never did I speak to a parishioner, however low in the scale of morality, without painfully realising the fact that he was a better man than his minister.
“All this while I was consumed with a burning love for Lucy, which, like a smouldering fire, ate into my very soul. Before the murder I had brought my mind to acquiesce in her preference for Henry. I mistook the apathy of despair for a victory, self-achieved, over my passion; but now that Hope had once more begun to stir within me, Love, revived, and, nourished by her fostering influence, began to lift up its head, to gather strength, until, as with the force of a giant, it had bound and fettered my whole mind in its