Chapter 76

Hasty farewell - Lofty rock - Wrestlings of Jacob - No rest - Ways of Providence - Two females - Foot of the Cross - Enemy of souls - Perplexed - Lucky hour - Valetudinarian - Methodists - Fervent in prayer - You Saxons - Weak creatures - Very agreeable - Almost happy - Kindness and solicitude.

‘WHERE was I, young man? Oh, I remember, at the fatal passage which removed all hope. I will not dwell on what I felt. I closed my eyes, and wished that I might be dreaming; but it was no dream, but a terrific reality: I will not dwell on that period, I should only shock you. I could not bear my feelings; so, bidding my friends a hasty farewell, I abandoned myself to horror and despair, and ran wild through Wales, climbing mountains and wading streams.

‘Climbing mountains and wading streams, I ran wild about, I was burnt by the sun, drenched by the rain, and had frequently at night no other covering than the sky, or the humid roof of some cave; but nothing seemed to affect my constitution; probably the fire which burned within me counteracted what I suffered from without. During the space of three years I scarcely knew what befell me; my life was a dream - a wild, horrible dream; more than once I believe I was in the hands of robbers, and once in the hands of gypsies. I liked the last description of people least of all; I could not abide their yellow faces, or their ceaseless clabber. Escaping from these beings, whose countenances and godless discourse brought to my mind the demons of the deep Unknown, I still ran wild through Wales, I know not how long. On one occasion, coming in some degree to my recollection, I felt myself quite unable to bear the horrors of my situation; looking round I found myself near the sea; instantly the idea came into my head that I would cast myself into it, and thus anticipate my final doom. I hesitated a moment, but a voice within me seemed to tell me that I could do no better; the sea was near, and I could not swim, so I determined to fling myself into the sea. As I was running along at great speed, in the direction of a lofty rock, which beetled over the waters, I suddenly felt myself seized by the coat. I strove to tear myself away, but in vain; looking round, I perceived a venerable hale old man, who had hold of me. "Let me go!" said I, fiercely. "I will not let thee go," said the old man, and now, instead of with one, he grappled me with both hands. "In whose name dost thou detain me?" said I, scarcely knowing what I said. "In the name of my Master, who made thee and yonder sea; and has said to the sea, So far shalt thou come, and no farther, and to thee, Thou shalt do no murder." "Has not a man a right to do what he pleases with his own?" said I. "He has," said the old man, "but thy life is not thy own; thou art accountable for it to thy God. Nay, I will not let thee go," he continued, as I again struggled; "if thou struggle with me the whole day I will not let thee go, as Charles Wesley says, in his ‘Wrestlings of Jacob’; and see, it is of no use struggling, for I am, in the strength of my Master, stronger than thou"; and indeed, all of a sudden I had become very weak and exhausted; whereupon the old man, beholding my situation, took me by the arm and led me gently to a neighbouring town, which stood behind a hill, and which I had not before observed; presently he opened the door of a respectable-looking house, which stood beside a large building having the appearance of a chapel, and conducted me into a small room, with a great many books in it. Having caused me to sit down, he stood looking at me for some time, occasionally heaving a sigh. I was, indeed, haggard and forlorn. "Who art thou?" he said at last. "A miserable man," I replied. "What makes thee miserable?" said the old man. "A hideous crime," I replied. "I can find no rest; like Cain I wander here and there." The old man turned pale. "Hast thou taken another’s life?" said he; "if so, I advise thee to surrender thyself to the magistrate; thou canst do no better; thy doing so will be the best proof of thy repentance; and though there be no hope for thee in this world there may be much in the next." "No," said I, "I have never taken another’s life." "What then, another’s goods? If so, restore them sevenfold, if possible: or, if it be not in thy power, and thy conscience accuse thee, surrender thyself to the magistrate, and make the only satisfaction thou art able." "I have taken no one’s goods," said I. "Of what art thou guilty, then?" said he. "Art thou a drunkard? a profligate?" "Alas, no," said I; "I am neither of these; would that I were no worse."

‘Thereupon the old man looked steadfastly at me for some time; then, after appearing to reflect, he said, "Young man, I have a great desire to know your name." "What matters it to you what is my name?" said I; "you know nothing of me." "Perhaps you are mistaken," said the old man, looking kindly at me; "but at all events tell me your name." I hesitated a moment, and then told him who I was, whereupon he exclaimed with much emotion, "I thought so; how wonderful are the ways of Providence. I have heard of thee, young man, and know thy mother well. Only a month ago, when upon a journey, I experienced much kindness

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