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speak." All were silent. "I dare not compare myself," continued the aged man, "with him who was in sufferings often, in labours more abundant, in perils often. I have lost—," his voice was choked, and the tears gushed from his eyeless sockets and trembled over his hoary beard, "I dare not now think of what I have lost; but if poverty and persecution, if the slaughter of my family (all but this feeble girl who tries to support me), if blindness, and the cruel spoiling of my goods, entitle me to this wretched priority, hear how I will curse your enemies."
A deep and breathless pause followed his words; the character of Pierre the pastor stood high among, the congregation, and his offer to join in this vituperative and maledictory mode of devotion, that had become, from their adoption of the Jewish phraseology, too much the habit of the Albigeois, was so new, and the excitement caused by it so strong, as for some time to suspend every other feeling.
Boanerges and the deacon Mephibosheth (for Mattathias still stood leaning on his bloody club in the rear of the cavern, like some misshapen and sanguinary idol of ancient superstition,) hurried forwards, and irreverently and urgently pressing their hands on the shoulders of the aged man, exclaimed, " Kneel—kneel." He knelt, and the congregation was hushed. "Bless them, God!" cried Pierre; "bless them to see the many errors of their ways, and to grant to thy persecuted people the permission ' after the way they call heresy to worship the God of their fathers.'"
At these words, so different from what they had expected, a murmur deep and loud burst from the congregation, and Boanerges and the deacon, incensed and disappointed, threw themselves among the assembly, (while Mattathias stood in fierce stillness,) and fed their kindled spirits by every art of inflammation. The tumult increased, and the multitude appeared like the trees of a forest, groaning and tossing under the power of tempestuous winds. Genevieve clung to her father, pale with terrors, which he felt not. "Lead, me hence," he cried, with an energy that made her start; "stand ye there on Mount Ebal to curse— whilst I go up to Mount Gerizim to bless — even though I go alone."
A few feeble voices, that seemed to dread their own sound, repeated, "Thou shalt not go alone;" and as Pierre returned to his retreat, he was followed by a small band of the moderate, the timid, and the irresolute,—those who were still attached to ancient authority, and those whose hearts calamity had crushed, but not embittered ;—by the old, who followed their pastor because they had followed him for forty years,—and by the young, to whom the beauty of Genevieve seemed, amid darkness and desolation, to gleam like a light from heaven.
On the side of Boanerges and his party remained the sanguinary, the melancholy, the enthusiastic, and the despairing,—those whom a fierce attachment to the cause, or the cruelties of their enemies, had led to such acts of atrocity and vengeance, that, feeling reconciliation hopeless, they laboured to render it impossible,—and those who, distinguished by the name of zealous, placed all religion in a creed of exclusion and a practice of hostility, and painted heaven to their imaginations and their hearers as a place whose joys would be exalted by their consciousness of the interminable sufferings of their persecutors and enemies.
Mattathias was called on to address them, and he prepared; but, after a long pause of internal conflict, such was the fierce intensity of his emotions, and so powerful their action on his gigantic frame, that when he at length attempted to speak, the blood gushed from his mouth and nostrils, and he fell prostrate on the floor of the cave. He was borne away; Boanerges and the deacon succeeded to the office of addressing the multitude; and by prayer, by exhortation, by every means that could sustain the energy of high-toned passion, and make excited minds fight their desperate and successful strife with exhausted bodies and worn-out hearts, did they all that long night of physical weariness and mental fever toil to feed the flame that lit it, and cherish,
amid the embers of wasted frames and wandering minds, every spark that could be kindled to a blaze, or emit, even in its ashes, a dismal and smouldering light.
Boanerges began; and when he had exhausted every topic and term of denunciation with which a well-stored memory and an implacable hostility inspired him, he was followed by the deacon, who, pointing to the few who had retired with Pierre, extended the broad anathema of Boanerges, and included within its circumference the feeble hearts and faint hands, and " sinners who went two ways." Then he rehearsed the bitter and emphatic curse of Meroz, and comprehended in it those who had not come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. He proceeded, and wrought up his hearers and himself to a pitch of ferocity which has often armed fanaticism with desperate and successful opposition even to disciplined troops and systematized warfare.
To the exhortation of Boanerges the congregation replied in deep assenting murmurs; but as the deacon finished, those murmurs