Himself Could Not Have Believed More Faithfully In The Direct
And Immediate Intervention Of An Avenging God.
The pain in
one's stomach incident to unripe gooseberries, no less than
the consequent black dose, or the personal chastisement of a
responsible and apprehensive nurse, were but the just
visitations of an offended Deity.
Whether my religious proclivities were more pronounced than
those of other children I cannot say, but certainly, as a
child, I was in the habit of appealing to Omnipotence to
gratify every ardent desire.
There were peacocks in the pleasure grounds at Holkham, and I
had an aesthetic love for their gorgeous plumes. As I hunted
under and amongst the shrubs, I secretly prayed that my
search might be rewarded. Nor had I a doubt, when
successful, that my prayer had been granted by a beneficent
Let no one smile at this infantine credulity, for is it not
the basis of that religious trust which helps so many of us
to support the sorrows to which our stoicism is unequal? Who
that might be tempted thoughtlessly to laugh at the child
does not sometimes sustain the hope of finding his 'plumes'
by appeals akin to those of his childhood? Which of us could
not quote a hundred instances of such a soothing delusion -
if delusion it be? I speak not of saints, but of sinners:
of the countless hosts who aspire to this world's happiness;
of the dying who would live, of the suffering who would die,
of the poor who would be rich, of the aggrieved who seek
vengeance, of the ugly who would be beautiful, of the old who
would appear young, of the guilty who would not be found out,
and of the lover who would possess.
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