|THE FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES OF MOLL FLANDERS||153|
off of the file, as they call it, and that he should not suffer; but it was not possible to convince him that he could be safe any way in the world but by appearing against me; so I was to have three witnesses of fact against me, the master and his two maids; that is to say, I was as certain to be cast for my life as I was that I was alive, and I had nothing to do but to think of dying. I had but a sad foundation to build upon for that, as I said before, for all my repentance appeared to me to be only the effect of my fear of death; not a sincere regret for the wicked life that I had lived; and which had brought this misery upon me, or for the offending my Creator, who was now suddenly to be my judge.
I lived many days here under the utmost horror; I had death, as it were, in view, and thought of nothing, night or day, but of gibbets and halters, evil spirits and devils; it is not to be expressed how I was harassed, between the dreadful apprehensions of death, and the terror of my conscience reproaching me with my past horrible life.
The ordinary of Newgate came to me, and talked a little in his way, but all his divinity ran upon confessing my crime, as he called it (though he knew not what I was in for), making a full discovery, and the like, without which he told me God would never forgive me; and he said so little to the purpose that I had no manner of consolation from him; and then to observe the poor creature preaching confession and repentance to me in the morning, and find him drunk with brandy by noon, this had something in it so shocking, that I began to nauseate the man, and his work too by degrees, for the sake of the man; so that I desired him to trouble me no more.
I know not how it was, but by the indefatigable application of my diligent governess I had no bill preferred against me the first session, I mean to the grand jury, at Guildhall; so I had another month or five weeks before me, and without doubt this ought to have been accepted by me as so much time given me for reflection upon what was past, and preparation for what was to come. I ought to have esteemed it as a space given me for repentance, and have employed it as such, but it was not in me. I was sorry, as before, for being in Newgate, but had few signs of repentance about me.
On the contrary, like the water in the hollows of mountains, which petrifies and turns into stone whatever it is suffered to drop upon; so the continual conversing with such a crew of hell-hounds had the same common operation upon me as upon other people. I degenerated into stone; I turned first stupid and senseless, and then brutish and thoughtless, and at last raving mad as any of them; in short, I became as naturally pleased and easy with the place as if indeed I had been born there.
It is scarce possible to imagine that our natures should be capable of so much degeneracy as to make that pleasant and agreeable, that in itself is the most complete misery. Here was a circumstance than I think it is scarce possible to mention a worse: I was as exquisitely miserable as it was possible for any one to be that had life and health, and money to help them, as I had.
I had a weight of guilt upon me, enough to sink any creature who had the least power of reflection left, and had any sense upon them of the happiness of this life, or the misery of another. I had at first some remorse indeed, but no repentance; I had now neither remorse or repentance. I had a crime charged on me, the punishment of which was death; the proof