The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner HTML version

Fideli certa merces.
And, alongst the head, it is the same as given in the present edition of the work. I altered
the title to A Self-justified Sinner, but my booksellers did not approve of it; and, there
being a curse pronounced by the writer on him that should dare to alter or amend, I have
let it stand as it is. Should it be thought to attach discredit to any received principle of our
Church, I am blameless. The printed part ends at page 201 and the rest is in a fine old
hand, extremely small and close. I have ordered the printer to procure a facsimile of it, to
be bound in with the volume. [v. Frontispiece.]
With regard to the work itself, I dare not venture a judgment, for I do not understand it. I
believe no person, man or woman, will ever peruse it with the same attention that I have
done, and yet I confess that I do not comprehend the writer's drift. It is certainly
impossible that these scenes could ever have occurred that he describes as having himself
transacted. I think it may be possible that he had some hand in the death of his brother,
and yet I am disposed greatly to doubt it; and the numerous traditions, etc. which remain
of that event may be attributable to the work having been printed and burnt, and of course
the story known to all the printers, with their families and gossips. That the young Laird
of Dalcastle came by a violent death, there remains no doubt; but that this wretch slew
him, there is to me a good deal. However, allowing this to have been the case, I account
all the rest either dreaming or madness; or, as he says to Mr. Watson, a religious parable,
on purpose to illustrate something scarcely tangible, but to which he seems to have
attached great weight. Were the relation at all consistent with reason, it corresponds so
minutely with traditionary facts that it could scarcely have missed to have been received
as authentic; but in this day, and with the present generation, it will not go down that a
man should be daily tempted by the Devil, in the semblance of a fellow-creature; and at
length lured to self-destruction, in the hopes that this same fiend and tormentor was to
suffer and fall along with him. It was a bold theme for an allegory, and would have suited
that age well had it been taken up by one fully qualified for the task, which this writer
was not. In short, we must either conceive him not only the greatest fool, but the greatest
wretch, on whom was ever stamped the form of humanity; or, that he was a religious
maniac, who wrote and wrote about a deluded creature, till he arrived at that height of
madness that he believed himself the very object whom he had been all along describing.
And, in order to escape from an ideal tormentor, committed that act for which, according
to the tenets he embraced, there was no remission, and which consigned his memory and
his name to everlasting detestation.