“Those false priests, who, kept in pay by the powerful and happy of this world, their accomplices in every age, instead of asking here below for some slight share of well-being for my unfortunate brethren, dare in thy name, O Lord God, to assert that the poor are condemned to endless suffering in this world—and that the desire or the hope to suffer less is a crime in thine eyes—because the happiness of the few, and the misery of nearly the whole human race, is (O blasphemy!) according to thy will. Is not the very contrary of those murderous words alone worthy of divinity!
“In mercy, hear me, Lord! Rescue from their enemies the descendants of my sister—the artisan as the king’s son. Do not let them destroy the germ of so mighty and fruitful an association, which, with thy blessing, would make an epoch in the annals of human happiness!
“Let me unite them, O Lord, since others would divide them—defend them, since others attack; let me give hope to those who have ceased to hope, courage to those who are brought low with fear—let me raise up the falling, and sustain those who persevere in the way of the righteous!
“And, peradventure, their struggles, devotion, virtue, and grief, may expiate my fault—that of a man, whom misfortune alone rendered unjust and wicked.
“Oh! since Thy Almighty hand hath led me hither—to what end I know not—lay aside Thy wrath, I beseech Thee—let me be no longer the instrument of Thy vengeance!
“Enough of woe upon the earth! for the last two years, Thy creatures have fallen by thousands upon my track. The world is decimated. A veil of mourning extends over all the globe.
“From Asia to the icy Pole, they died upon the path of the wanderer. Dost Thou not hear the long-drawn sigh that rises from the earth unto Thee, O Lord?
“Mercy for all! mercy for me!—Let me but unite the descendants of my sister for a single day, and they will be saved!”
As he pronounced these words, the wayfarer sank upon his knees, and raised to heaven, his supplicating hands. Suddenly, the wind blew with redoubled violence; its sharp whistlings were changed into the roar of a tempest.
The traveller shuddered; in a voice of terror he exclaimed: “The blast of death rises in its fury—the whirlwind carries me on—Lord! Thou art then deaf to my prayer?”
“The spectre! oh, the spectre! it is again here! its green face twitching with convulsive spasms—its red eyes rolling in their orbits. Begone! begone!—its hand, oh! its icy hand has again laid hold of mine. Have mercy, heaven!”
“Oh, Lord! the pestilence—the terrible plague—must I carry it into this city?—And my brethren will perish the first—they, who are so sorely smitten even now! Mercy!”
“And the descendants of my sister. Mercy! Mercy!”