- For several days the subject of Mr. Blanchard's doubts and doctrines formed the theme of our discourse. My friend deprecated them most devoutly; and then again he would deplore them, and lament the great evil that such a man might do among the human race. I joined with him in allowing the evil in its fullest latitude; and, at length, after he thought he had fully prepared my nature for such a trial of its powers and abilities, he proposed calmly that we two should make away with Mr. Blanchard. I was so shocked that my bosom became as it were a void, and the beatings of my heart sounded loud and hollow in it; my breath cut, and my tongue and palate became dry and speechless. He mocked at my cowardice, and began a-reasoning on the matter with such powerful eloquence that, before we parted, I felt fully convinced that it was my bounden duty to slay Mr. Blanchard; but my will was far, very far from consenting to the deed.
I spent the following night without sleep, or nearly so; and the next morning, by the time the sun arose, I was again abroad, and in the company of my illustrious friend. The same subject was resumed, and again he reasoned to the following purport: That supposing me placed at the head of any army of Christian soldiers, all bent on putting down the enemies of the Church, would I have any hesitation in destroying and rooting out these enemies? None, surely. Well then, when I saw and was convinced that here was an individual who was doing more detriment to the Church of Christ on earth than tens of thousands of such warriors were capable of doing, was it not my duty to cut him off, and save the elect? "He who would be a champion in the cause of Christ and His Church, my brave young friend," added he, "must begin early, and no man can calculate to what an illustrious eminence small beginnings may lead. If the man Blanchard is worthy, he is only changing his situation for a better one; and, if unworthy, it is better that one fall than that a thousand souls perish. Let us be up and doing in our vocations. For me, my resolution is taken; I have but one great aim in this world, and I never for a moment lose sight of it."
I was obliged to admit the force of his reasoning; for, though I cannot from memory repeat his words, his eloquence was of that overpowering nature that the subtilty of other men sunk before it; and there is also little doubt that the assurance I had that these words were spoken by a great potentate who could raise me to the highest eminence (provided that I entered into his extensive and decisive measures) assisted mightily in dispelling my youthful scruples and qualms of conscience; and I thought moreover that, having such a powerful back friend to support me, I hardly needed to be afraid of the consequences. I consented! But begged a little time to think of it. He said the less one thought of a duty the better; and we parted.
But the most singular instance of this wonderful man's power over my mind was that he had as complete influence over me by night as by day. All my dreams corresponded exactly with his suggestions; and, when he was absent from me, still his arguments sunk deeper in my heart than even when he was present. I dreamed that night of a great triumph obtained, and, though the whole scene was but dimly and confusedly defined in my vision, yet the overthrow and death of Mr. Blanchard was the first step by which I attained the eminent station I occupied. Thus, by dreaming of the event by night, and discoursing of it by day, it soon became so familiar to my mind that I almost conceived it as done. It was resolved on: which was the first and greatest victory gained; for there was no difficulty in finding opportunities enow of cutting off a man who, every good day, was to be found walking by himself in private grounds. I went and heard him preach for two days, and in fact I held his tenets scarcely short of blasphemy; they were such as I had never heard before, and his congregation, which was numerous, were turning up their ears and drinking in his doctrines with the utmost delight; for Oh they suited their carnal natures and self-sufficiency to a hair! He was actually holding it forth, as a fact, that "it was every man's own blame if he was not saved!" What horrible misconstruction! And then be was alleging, and trying to prove from nature and reason, that no man ever was guilty of a sinful action who might not have declined it had he so chosen! "Wretched controvertist!" thought I to myself an hundred times, "shall not the sword of the Lord be moved from its place of peace for such presumptuous, absurd testimonies as these!"
When I began to tell the prince about these false doctrines, to my astonishment I found that he had been in the church himself, and had every argument that the old divine had used verbatim; and he remarked on them with great concern that these were not the tenets that corresponded with his views in society, and that he had agents in every city, and every land, exerting their powers to put them down. I asked, with great simplicity: "Are all your subjects Christians, prince?"
"All my European subjects are, or deem themselves so," returned he; "and they are the most faithful and true subjects I have."
Who could doubt, after this, that he was the Czar of Russia? I have nevertheless had reasons to doubt of his identity since that period, and which of my conjectures is right I believe the God of Heaven only knows, for I do not. I shall go on to write such things as I remember, and, if anyone shall ever take the trouble to read over these confessions, such a one will judge for himself. It will be observed that, since ever I fell in with this extraordinary person, I have written about him only, and I must continue to do so to the end of this memoir, as I have performed no great or interesting action in which he had not a principal share.
He came to me one day and said: "We must not linger thus in executing what we have resolved on. We have much before our hands to perform for the benefit of mankind, both civil as well as religious. Let us do what we have to do here, and then we must wend our way to other cities, and perhaps to other countries. Mr. Blanchard is to hold forth in the high church of Paisley on Sunday next, on some particularly great occasion: this must be defeated; he must not go there. As he will be busy arranging his discourses, we may expect him to be walking by himself in Finnieston Dell the greater part of Friday and Saturday. Let us go and cut him off. What is the life of a man more than the life of a lamb, or any guiltless animal? It is not half so much, especially when we consider the immensity of the mischief this old fellow is working among our fellow-creatures. Can there be any doubt that it is the duty of one consecrated to God to cut off such a mildew?"
"I fear me, great sovereign," said I, "that your ideas of retribution are too sanguine, and too arbitrary for the laws of this country. I dispute not that your motives are great and high; but have you debated the consequences, and settled the result?"
"I have," returned be, "and hold myself amenable for the action to the laws of God and of equity; as to the enactments of men, I despise them. Fain would I see the weapon of the Lord of Hosts begin the work of vengeance that awaits it to do!"
I could not help thinking that I perceived a little derision of countenance on his face as he said this, nevertheless I sunk dumb before such a man, aroused myself to the task, seeing he would not have it deferred. I approved of it in theory, but my spirit stood aloof from the practice. I saw and was convinced that the elect of God would be happier, and purer, were the wicked and unbelievers all cut off from troubling and misleading them, but if it had not been the instigations of this illustrious stranger, I should never have presumed to begin so great a work myself. Yet, though he often aroused my zeal to the highest pitch, still my heart at times shrunk from the shedding of life-blood, and it was only at the earnest and unceasing instigations of my enlightened and voluntary patron that I at length put my hand to the conclusive work. After I said all that I could say, and all had been overborne (I remember my actions and words as well as it had been yesterday), I turned round hesitatingly, and looked up to Heaven for direction; but there was a dimness come over my eyes that I could not see. The appearance was as if there had been a veil drawn over me, so nigh that I put up my hand to feel it; and then Gil-Martin (as this great sovereign was pleased to have himself called) frowned, and asked me what I was grasping at. I knew not what to say, but answered, with fear and shame: "I have no weapons, not one; nor know I where any are to be found."
"The God whom thou servest will provide these," said he, "if thou provest worthy of the trust committed to thee."
I looked again up into the cloudy veil that covered us and thought I beheld golden weapons of every description let down in it, but all with their points towards me. I kneeled, And was going to stretch out my hand to take one, when my patron seized me, as I thought, by the clothes, and dragged me away with as much ease as I had been a lamb, saying, with a joyful and elevated voice: "Come, my friend, let us depart: thou art dreamingthou art dreaming. Rouse up all the energies of thy exalted mind, for thou art an highly favoured one; and doubt thou not that He whom thou servest, will be ever at thy right and left hand, to direct and assist thee."
These words, but particularly the vision I had seen, of the golden weapons descending out of Heaven, inflamed my zeal to that height that I was as one beside himself; which my parents perceived that night, and made some motions towards confining me to my room. I joined in the family prayers, and then I afterwards sung a psalm and prayed by myself; and I had good reasons for believing that that small oblation of praise and prayer was not turned to sin. But there are strange things, and unaccountable agencies in nature: He only who dwells between the Cherubim can unriddle them, and to Him the honour must redound for ever. Amen.
I felt greatly strengthened and encouraged that night, and the next morning I ran to meet my companion, out of whose eye I had now no life. He rejoiced at seeing me so forward in the great work of reformation by blood, and said many things to raise my hopes of future fame and glory; and then producing two pistols of pure beaten gold, he held them out and proffered me the choice of one, saying: "See what thy master hath provided thee!" I took one of them eagerly, for I perceived at once that they were two of the very weapons that were let down from Heaven in the cloudy veil, the dim tapestry of the firmament; and I said to myself. "Surely this is the will of the Lord."
The little splendid and enchanting piece was so perfect, so complete, and so ready for executing the will of the donor, that I now longed to use it in his service. I loaded it with my own hand, as Gil-Martin did the other, and we took our stations behind a bush of hawthorn and bramble on the verge of the wood, and almost close to the walk. My patron was so acute in all his calculations that he never mistook an event. We had not taken our stand above a minute and a half till old Mr. Blanchard appeared, coming slowly on the path. When we saw this, we cowered down. and leaned each of us a knee upon the ground, pointing the pistols through the bush, with an aim so steady that it was impossible to miss our victim.
He came deliberately on, pausing at times so long that we dreaded he was going to turn. Gil-Martin dreaded it, and I said I did, but wished in my heart that he might. He, however, came onward, and I will never forget the manner in which he came! No, I don't believe I ever can forget it, either in the narrow bounds of time or the ages of eternity! He was a broadly, ill-shaped man, of a rude exterior, and a little bent with age; his hands were clasped behind his back and below his coat, and he walked with a slow swinging air that was very peculiar. When he paused and looked abroad on nature, the act was highly impressive: he seemed conscious of being all alone, and conversant only with God and the elements of his creation. Never was there such a picture of human inadvertency! a man approaching step by step to the one that was to hurl him out of one existence into another with as much ease and indifference as the ox goeth to the stall. Hideous vision, wilt thou not be gone from my mental sight! if not, let me bear with thee as I can!
When he came straight opposite to the muzzles of our pieces, Gil-Martin called out "Eh!" with a short quick sound. The old man, without starting, turned his face and breast towards us, and looked into the wood, but looked over our heads.
"Now!" whispered my companion, and fired. But my hand refused the office, for I was not at that moment sure about becoming an assassin in the cause of Christ and His Church. I thought I heard a sweet voice behind me, whispering to me to beware, and I was going to look round, when my companion exclaimed: "Coward, we are ruined!"
I had no time for an alternative: Gil-Martin's ball had not taken effect, which was altogether wonderful, as the old man's breast was within a few yards of him. "Hilloa!" cried Blanchard, "what is that for, you dog!" and with that he came forward to look over the bush. I hesitated, as I said, and attempted to look behind me; but there was no time: the next step discovered two assassins lying in covert, waiting for blood. "Coward, we are ruined!" cried my indignant friend; and that moment my piece was discharged. The effect was as might have been expected: the old man first stumbled to one side, and then fell on his back. We kept our places, and I perceived my companion's eyes gleaming with an unnatural joy. The wounded man raised himself from the bank to a sitting posture, and I beheld his eyes swimming; he however appeared sensible, for we heard him saying in a low and rattling voice: "Alas, alas! whom have I offended, that they should have been driven to an act like this! Come forth and shew yourselves, that I may either forgive you before I die, or curse you in the name of the Lord." He then fell a-groping with both hands on the ground, as if feeling for something he had lost manifestly in the agonies of death; and, with a solemn and interrupted prayer for forgiveness, he breathed his last.
I had become rigid as a statue, whereas my associate appeared to be elevated above measure. "Arise, thou faint-hearted one, and let us be going," said he. "Thou hast done well for once; but wherefore hesitate in such a cause? This is but a small beginning of so great a work as that of purging the Christian world. But the first victim is a worthy one, and more of such lights must be extinguished immediately."
We touched not our victim, nor anything pertaining to him, for fear of staining our hands with his blood; and the firing having brought three men within view, who were hasting towards the spot, my undaunted companion took both the pistols, and went forward as with intent to meet them, bidding me shift for myself. I ran off in a contrary direction, till I came to the foot of the Pearman Sike, and then, running up the hollow of that, I appeared on the top of the bank as if I had been another man brought in view by hearing the shots in such a place. I had a full view of a part of what passed, though not of all. I saw my companion going straight to meet the men, apparently with a pistol in every hand, waving in a careless manner. They seemed not quite clear of meeting with him, and so he went straight on, and passed between them. They looked after him, and came onwards; but, when they came to the old man lying stretched in his blood, then they turned and pursued my companion, though not so quickly as they might have done; and I understand that from the first they saw no more of him.
Great was the confusion that day in Glasgow. The most popular of all their preachers of morality was (what they called) murdered in cold blood, and a strict and extensive search was made for the assassin. Neither of the accomplices was found, however, that is certain, nor was either of them so much as suspected; but another man was apprehended under circumstances that warranted suspicion. This was one of the things that I witnessed in my life, which I never understood, and it surely was one of my patron's most dexterous tricks, for I must still say, what I have thought from the beginning, that like him there never was a man created. The young man who was taken up was a preacher; and it was proved that he had purchased fire-arms in town, and gone out with them that morning. But the far greatest mystery of the whole was that two of the men, out of the three who met my companion, swore that that unfortunate preacher was the man whom they met with a pistol in each hand, fresh from the death of the old divine. The poor fellow made a confused speech himself, which there is not the least doubt was quite true; but it was laughed to scorn, and an expression of horror ran through both the hearers and jury. I heard the whole trial, and so did Gil-Martin; but we left the journeyman preacher to his fate, and from that time forth I have had no faith in the justice of criminal trials. If once a man is prejudiced on one side, he will swear anything in support of such prejudice. I tried to expostulate with my mysterious friend on the horrid injustice of suffering this young man to die for our act, but the prince exulted in it more than the other, and said the latter was the most dangerous man of the two.
The alarm in and about Glasgow was prodigious. The country being divided into two political parties, the court and the country party, the former held meetings, issued proclamations, and offered rewards, ascribing all to the violence of party spirit, and deprecating the infernal measures of their opponents. I did not understand their political differences; but it was easy to see that the true Gospel preachers joined all on one side, and the upholders of pure morality and a blameless life on the other, so that this division proved a test to us, and it was forthwith resolved that we two should pick out some of the leading men of this unsaintly and heterodox cabal, and cut them off one by one, as occasion should suit.
Now, the ice being broke, I felt considerable zeal in our great work, but pretended much more; and we might soon have kidnapped them all through the ingenuity of my patron, had not our next attempt miscarried, by some awkwardness or mistake of mine. The consequence was that he was discovered fairly, and very nigh seized. I also was seen, and suspected so far that my reverend father, my mother, and myself were examined privately. I denied all knowledge of the matter; and they held it in such a ridiculous light, and their conviction of the complete groundlessness of the suspicion was so perfect, that their testimony prevailed, and the affair was hushed. I was obliged, however, to walk circumspectly, and saw my companion the prince very seldom, who was prowling about every day, quite unconcerned about his safety. He was every day a new man, however, and needed not to be alarmed at any danger; for such a facility had he in disguising himself that, if it had not been for a password which we had between us, for the purposes of recognition, I never could have known him myself.
It so happened that my reverend father was called to Edinburgh about this time, to assist with his counsel in settling the national affairs. At my earnest request I was permitted to accompany him, at which both my associate and I rejoiced, as we were now about to move in a new and extensive field. All this time I never knew where my illustrious friend resided. He never once invited me to call on him at his lodgings, nor did he ever come to our house, which made me sometimes to suspect that, if any of our great efforts in the cause of true religion were discovered, he intended leaving me in the lurch. Consequently, when we met in Edinburgh (for we travelled not in company), I proposed to go with him to look for lodgings, telling him at the same time what a blessed religious family my reverend instructor and I were settled in. He said he rejoiced at it, but he made a rule of never lodging in any particular house, but took these daily, or hourly, as he found it convenient, and that be never was at a loss in any circumstance.
"What a mighty trouble you put yourself to, great sovereign!" said I, "and all, it would appear, for the purpose of seeing and knowing more and more of the human race."
"I never go but where I have some great purpose to serve," returned he, "either in the advancement of my own power and dominion or in thwarting my enemies."
"With all due deference to your great comprehension, my illustrious friend," said I, "it strikes me that you can accomplish very little either the one way or the other here, in the humble and private capacity you are pleased to occupy."
"It is your own innate modesty that prompts such a remark," said he. "Do you think the gaining of you to my service is not an attainment worthy of being envied by the greatest potentate in Christendom? Before I had missed such a prize as the attainment of your services, I would have travelled over one half of the habitable globe."I bowed with great humility, but at the same time how could I but feel proud and highly flattered? He continued: "Believe me, my dear friend, for such a prize I account no effort too high. For a man who is not only dedicated to the King of Heaven in the most solemn manner, soul, body, and spirit, but also chosen of him from the beginning, justified, sanctified, and received into a communion that never shall be broken, and from which no act of his shall ever remove himthe possession of such a man, I tell you, is worth kingdoms; because, every deed that he performs, he does it with perfect safety to himself and honour to me."I bowed again, lifting my hat, and he went on. "I am now going to put his courage in the cause he has espoused to a severe testto a trial at which common nature would revolt, but he who is dedicated to be the sword of the Lord must raise himself above common humanity. You have a father and a brother according to the flesh: what do you know of them?"
"I am sorry to say I know nothing good," said I. "They are reprobates, castaways, beings devoted to the Wicked One, and, like him, workers of every species of iniquity with greediness."
"They must both fall!" said he, with a sigh and melancholy look. "It is decreed in the councils above that they must both fall by your hand."
"The God of Heaven forbid it!" said I. "They are enemies to Christ and His Church, that I know and believe; but they shall live and die in their iniquity for me, and reap their guerdon when their time cometh. There my hand shall not strike."
"The feeling is natural, and amiable," said he. "But you must think again. Whether are the bonds of carnal nature or the bonds and vows of the Lord strongest?"
"I will not reason with you on this head, mighty potentate," said I, "for whenever I do so it is but to be put down. I shall only, express my determination not to take vengeance out of the Lord's hand in this instance. It availeth not. These are men that have the mark of the beast in their foreheads and right hands; they are lost beings themselves, but have no influence over others. Let them perish in their sins; for they shall not be meddled with by me."
"How preposterously you talk, my dear friend!" said he. "These people are your greatest enemies; they would rejoice to see you annihilated. And, now that you have taken up the Lord's cause of being avenged on His enemies, wherefore spare those that are your own as well as His? Besides, you ought to consider what great advantages would be derived to the cause of righteousness and truth were the estate and riches of that opulent house in your possession, rather than in that of such as oppose the truth and all manner of holiness."
This was a portion of the consequence of following my illustrious adviser's summary mode of procedure that had never entered into my calculation. I disclaimed all idea of being influenced by it; however, I cannot but say that the desire of being enabled to do so much good, by the possession of these bad men's riches, made some impression on my heart, and I said I would consider of the matter. I did consider it, and that right seriously as well as frequently; and there was scarcely an hour in the day on which my resolves were not animated by my great friend, till at length I began to have a longing desire to kill my brother, in particular. Should any man ever read this scroll, he will wonder at this confession, and deem it savage and unnatural. So it appeared to me at first, but a constant thinking of an event changes every one of its features. I have done all for the best, and as I was prompted, by one who knew right and wrong much better than I did. I had a desire to slay him, it is true, and such a desire too as a thirsty man has to drink; but, at the same time, this longing desire was mingled with a certain terror, as if I had dreaded that the drink for which I longed was mixed with deadly poison. My mind was so much weakened, or rather softened about this time, that my faith began a little to give way, and I doubted most presumptuously of the least tangible of all Christian tenets, namely, of the infallibility of the elect. I hardly comprehended the great work I had begun, and doubted of my own infallibility, or that of any created being. But I was brought over again by the unwearied diligence of my friend to repent of my backsliding, and view once more the superiority of the Almighty's counsels in its fullest latitude. Amen.
I prayed very much in secret about this time, and that with great fervour of spirit, as well as humility; and my satisfaction at finding all my requests granted is not to be expressed.
My illustrious friend still continuing to sound in my ears the imperious duty to which I was called, of making away with my sinful relations, and quoting many parallel actions out of the Scriptures, and the writings of the holy fathers, of the pleasure the Lord took in such as executed his vengeance on the wicked, I was obliged to acquiesce in his measures, though with certain limitations. It was not easy to answer his arguments, and yet I was afraid that he soon perceived a leaning to his will on my part. "If the acts of Jehu, in rooting out the whole house of his master, were ordered and approved-of by the Lord," said he, "would it not have been more praiseworthy if one of Ahab's own sons had stood up for the cause of the God of Israel, and rooted out the sinners and their idols out of the land?"
"It would certainly," said I. "To our duty to God all other duties must yield."
"Go thou then and do likewise," said he. "Thou are called to a high vocation; to cleanse the sanctuary of thy God in this thy native land by the shedding of blood; go thou then like a ruling energy, a master spirit of desolation in the dwellings of the wicked, and high shall be your reward both here and hereafter."
My heart now panted with eagerness to look my brother in the face. On which my companion, who was never out of the way, conducted me to a small square in the suburbs of the city, where there were a number of young noblemen and gentlemen playing at a vain, idle, and sinful game, at which there was much of the language of the accursed going on; and among these blasphemers he instantly pointed out my brother to me. I was fired with indignation at seeing him in such company, and so employed; and I placed myself close beside him to watch all his motions, listen to his words, and draw inferences from what I saw and heard. In what a sink of sin was he wallowing! I resolved to take him to task, and, if he refused to be admonished, to inflict on him some condign punishment; and, knowing that my illustrious friend and director was looking on, I resolved to show some spirit. Accordingly, I waited until I heard him profane his Maker's name three times, and then, my spiritual indignation being roused above all restraint, I went up and kicked him. Yes, I went boldly up and struck him with my foot, and meant to have given him a more severe blow than it was my fortune to inflict. It had, however, the effect of rousing up his corrupt nature to quarrelling and strife, instead of taking the chastisement of the Lord in humility and meekness. He ran furiously against me in the choler that is always inspired by the wicked one; but I overthrew him, by reason of impeding the natural and rapid progress of his unholy feet running to destruction. I also fell slightly; but his fall proved a severe one, he arose in wrath, and struck me with the mall which he held in his hand, until my blood flowed copiously; and from that moment I vowed his destruction in my heart. But I chanced to have no weapon at that time, nor any means of inflicting due punishment on the caitiff, which would not have been returned double on my head by him and his graceless associates. I mixed among them at the suggestion of my friend, and, following them to their den of voluptuousness and sin, I strove to be admitted among them, in hopes of finding some means of accomplishing my great purpose, while I found myself moved by the spirit within me so to do. But I was not only debarred, but, by the machinations of my wicked brother and his associates, cast into prison.
I was not sorry at being thus honoured to suffer in the cause of righteousness, and at the hands of sinful men; and, as soon as I was alone, I betook myself to prayer, deprecating the long-suffering of God towards such horrid sinners. My jailer came to me, and insulted me. He was a rude unprincipled fellow, partaking of the loose and carnal manners of the age; but I remembered of having read, in the Cloud of Witnesses, of such men formerly having been converted by the imprisoned saints; so I set myself, with all my heart, to bring about this man's repentance and reformation.
"Fat the deil are ye yoolling an' praying that gate for, man?" said he, coming angrily in. "I thought the days o' praying prisoners had been a' ower. We hath rowth o' them aince; an' they were the poorest an' the blackest bargains that ever poor jailers saw. Gie up your crooning, or I'll pit you to an in-by place, where ye sall get plenty o't."
"Friend," said I, "I am making my appeal at the bar where all human actions are seen and judged, and where you shall not be forgot, sinful as you are. Go in peace, and let me be."
"Hae ye naebody nearer-hand hame to mak your appeal to, man?" said he. "Because an ye hae-na, I dread you an' me may be unco weel acquaintit by an' by."
I then opened up the mysteries of religion to him in a clear and perspicuous manner, but particularly the great doctrine of the election of grace; and then I added: "Now, friend, you must tell me if you pertain to this chosen number. It is in every man's power to ascertain this, and it is every man's duty to do it."
"An' fat the better wad you be for the kenning o' this, man?" said he.
"Because, if you are one of my brethren, I will take you into sweet communion and fellowship," returned I. "But, if you belong to the unregenerate, I have a commission to slay you."
"The deil you hae, callant!" said he, gaping and laughing. "An', pray now, fa was it, that gae you siccan a braw commission?"
"My commission is sealed by the signet above", said I, "and that I will let you and all sinners know. I am dedicated to it by the most solemn vows and engagements. I am the sword of the Lord, and Famine and Pestilence are my sisters. Woe then to the wicked of this land, for they must fall down dead together, that the Church may be purified!"
"Oo, foo, foo! I see how it is," said he. "Yours is a very braw commission, but you will have the small opportunity of carrying it through here. Take my advising, and write a bit of a letter to your friends, and I will send it, for this is no place for such a great man. If you cannot steady your hand to write, as I see you have been at your great work, a word of a mouth may do; for I do assure you this is not the place at all, of any in the world, for your operations."
The man apparently thought I was deranged in my intellect. He could not swallow such great truths at the first morsel. So I took his advice, and sent a line to my reverend father, who was not long in coming, and great was the jailer's wonderment when he saw all the great Christian noblemen of the land sign my bond of freedom.
My reverend father took this matter greatly to heart, and bestirred himself in the good cause till the transgressors were ashamed to shew their faces. My illustrious companion was not idle: I wondered that he came not to me in prison, nor at my release; but he was better employed, in stirring up the just to the execution of God's decrees; and he succeeded so well that my brother and all his associates had nearly fallen victims to their wrath. But many were wounded, bruised, and imprisoned, and much commotion prevailed in the city. For my part, I was greatly strengthened in my resolution by the anathemas of my reverend father, who, privately (that is in a family capacity) in his prayers, gave up my father and brother, according to the flesh, to Satan, making it plain to all my senses of perception that they were being given up of God, to be devoured by fiends of men, at their will and pleasure, and that whosoever should slay them would do God good service.
The next morning my illustrious friend met me at an early hour, and he was greatly overjoyed at hearing my sentiments now chime so much in unison with his own. I said: "I longed for the day and the hour that I might look my brother in the face at Gilgal, and visit on him the iniquity of his father and himself, for that I was now strengthened and prepared for the deed."
"I have been watching the steps and movements of the profligate one," said he, "and, lo, I will take you straight to his presence. Let your heart be as the heart of the lion, and your arms strong as the shekels of brass, and swift to avenge as the bolt that descendeth from heaven, for the blood of the just and the good hath long flowed in Scotland. But already is the day of their avengement begun; the hero is at length arisen who shall send all such as bear enmity to the true Church, or trust in works of their own, to Tophet!"
Thus encouraged, I followed my friend, who led me directly to the same court in which I had chastised the miscreant on the foregoing day; and, behold, there was the same group again assembled. They eyed me with terror in their looks, as I walked among them and eyed them with looks of disapprobation and rebuke; and I saw that the very eye of a chosen one lifted on these children of Belial was sufficient to dismay and put them to flight. I walked aside to my friend, who stood at a distance looking on, and he said to me: "What thinkest thou now?" and I answered in the words of the venal prophet, "Lo, now, if I had a sword into mine hand I would even kill him."
"Wherefore lackest thou it?" said he. "Dost thou not see that they tremble at thy presence, knowing that the avenger of blood is among them."
My heart was lifted up on hearing this, and again I strode into the midst of them, and, eyeing them with threatening looks, they were so much confounded that they abandoned their sinful pastime, and fled everyone to his house!
This was a palpable victory gained over the wicked, and I thereby knew that the hand of the Lord was with me. My companion also exulted, and said: "Did not I tell thee? Behold thou dost not know one half of thy might, or of the great things thou art destined to do. Come with me and I will show thee more than this, for these young men cannot subsist without the exercises of sin. I listened to their councils, and I know where they will meet again."
Accordingly he led me a little farther to the south, and we walked aside till by degrees we saw some people begin to assemble; and in a short time we perceived the same group stripping off their clothes to make them more expert in the practice of madness and folly. Their game was begun before we approached, and so also were the oaths and cursing. I put my hands in my pockets, and walked with dignity and energy into the midst of them. It was enough. Terror and astonishment seized them. A few of them cried out against me, but their voices were soon hushed amid the murmurs of fear. One of them, in the name of the rest, then came and besought of me to grant them liberty to amuse themselves; but I refused peremptorily, dared the whole multitude so much as to touch me with one of their fingers, and dismissed them in the name of the Lord.
Again they all fled and dispersed at my eye, and I went home in triumph, escorted by my friend, and some well-meaning young Christians, who, however, had not learned to deport themselves with soberness and humility. But my ascendancy over my enemies was great indeed; for wherever I appeared I was hailed with approbation, and, wherever my guilty brother made his appearance, he was hooted and held in derision, till he was forced to hide his disgraceful head, and appear no more in public.
Immediately after this I was seized with a strange distemper, which neither my friends nor physicians could comprehend, and it confined me to my chamber for many days; but I knew, myself, that I was bewitched, and suspected my father's reputed concubine of the deed. I told my fears to my reverend protector, who hesitated concerning them, but I knew by his words and looks that he was conscious I was right. I generally conceived myself to be two people. When I lay in bed, I deemed there were two of us in it; when I sat up I always beheld another person, and always in the same position from the place where I sat or stood, which was about three paces off me towards my left side. It mattered not how many or how few were present: this my second self was sure to be present in his place, and this occasioned a confusion in all my words and ideas that utterly astounded my friends, who all declared that, instead of being deranged in my intellect, they had never heard my conversation manifest so much energy or sublimity of conception; but, for all that, over the singular delusion that I was two persons my reasoning faculties had no power. The most perverse part of it was that I rarely conceived myself to be any of the two persons. I thought for the most part that my companion was one of them, and my brother the other; and I found that, to be obliged to speak and answer in the character of another man, was a most awkward business at the long run.
Who can doubt, from this statement, that I was bewitched, and that my relatives were at the ground of it? The constant and unnatural persuasion that I was my brother proved it to my own satisfaction, and must, I think, do so to every unprejudiced person. This victory of the Wicked One over me kept me confined in my chamber at Mr. Millar's house for nearly a month, until the prayers of the faithful prevailed, and I was restored. I knew it was a chastisement for my pride, because my heart was lifted up at my superiority over the enemies of the Church; nevertheless I determined to make short work with the aggressor, that the righteous might not be subjected to the effect of his diabolical arts again.
I say I was confined a month. I beg he that readeth to take note of this, that he may estimate how much the word, or even the oath, of a wicked man is to depend on. For a month I saw no one but such as came into my room, and, for all that, it will be seen that there were plenty of the same set to attest upon oath that I saw my brother every day during this period; that I persecuted him, with my presence day and night, while all the time I never saw his face save in a delusive dream. I cannot comprehend what manoeuvres my illustrious friend was playing off with them about this time; for he, having the art of personating whom he chose, had peradventure deceived them, else many of them had never all attested the same thing. I never saw any man so steady in his friendships and attentions as he; but as he made a rule of never calling at private houses, for fear of some discovery being made of his person, so I never saw him while my malady lasted; but, as soon as I grew better, I knew I had nothing ado but to attend at some of our places of meeting to see him again. He was punctual, as usual, and I had not to wait.
My reception was precisely as I apprehended. There was no flaring, no flummery, nor bombastical pretensions, but a dignified return to my obeisance, and an immediate recurrence, in converse, to the important duties incumbent on us, in our stations, as reformers and purifiers of the Church.
"I have marked out a number of most dangerous characters in this city," said he, "all of whom must be cut off from cumbering the true vineyard before we leave this land. And, if you bestir not yourself in the work to which you are called, I must raise up others who shall have the honour of it!"
"I am, most illustrious prince, wholly at your service," said I. "Show but what ought to be done, and here is the heart to dare and the hand to execute. You pointed out my relations, according to the flesh, as brands fitted to be thrown into the burning. I approve peremptorily of the award; nay, I thirst to accomplish it; for I myself have suffered severely from their diabolical arts. When once that trial of my devotion to the faith is accomplished, then he your future operations disclosed."
"You are free of your words and promises," said he.
"So will I be of my deeds in the service of my master, and that shalt thou see," said I. "I lack not the spirit, nor the will, but I lack experience woefully; and, because of that shortcoming, must bow to your suggestions!"
"Meet me here to-morrow betimes," said he, "and perhaps you may hear of some opportunity of displaying your zeal in the cause of righteousness."
I met him as he desired me; and he addressed me with a hurried and joyful expression, telling me that my brother was astir, and that a few minutes ago he had seen him pass on his way to the mountain. "The hill is wrapped in a cloud," added he, and never was there such an opportunity of executing divine justice on a guilty sinner. You may trace him in the dew, and shall infallibly find him on the top of some precipice; for it is only in secret that he dares show his debased head to the sun."
"I have no arms, else assuredly I would pursue him and discomfit him," said I.
"Here is a small dagger," said he; "I have nothing of weaponkind about me save that, but it is a potent one; and, should you require it, there is nothing more ready or sure."
"Will not you accompany me?" said I. "Sure you will?"
"I will be with you, or near you," said he. "Go you on before."
I hurried away as he directed me, and imprudently asked some of Queensberry's guards if such and such a young man passed by them going out from the city. I was answered in the affirmative, and till then had doubted of my friend's intelligence, it was so inconsistent with a profligate's life to be so early astir. When I got the certain intelligence that my brother was before me, I fell a-running, scarcely knowing what I did; and, looking several times behind me, I perceived nothing of my zealous and arbitrary friend. The consequence of this was that, by the time I reached St. Anthony's well, my resolution began to give way. It was not my courage, for, now that I had once shed blood in the cause of the true faith, I was exceedingly bold and ardent, but, whenever I was left to myself, I was subject to sinful doubtings. These always hankered on one point. I doubted if the elect were infallible, and if the Scripture promises to them were binding in all situations and relations. I confess this, and that it was a sinful and shameful weakness in me, but my nature was subject to it, and I could not eschew it. I never doubted that I was one of the elect myself; for, besides the strong inward and spiritual conviction that I possessed, I had my kind father's assurance; and these had been revealed to him in that way and measure that they could not be doubted.