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Manfred (alone. )

There is a calm upon me—
Inexplicable stillness! which till now
Did not belong to what I knew of life.
If that I did not know philosophy
To be of all our vanities the motliest,
The merest word that ever fool'd the ear
From out the schoolman's jargon, I should deem
The golden secret, the sought « Kalon, » found,
And seated in my soul. It will not last,
But it is well to have known it, though but once:
It hath enlarged my thoughts with a new sense,
And I within my tablets would note down
That there is such a feeling. Who is there?

(Re-enter Hehmak.)
Herman.

My lord, the Abbot of Saint Maurice craves
To greet your presence.

(Enter the Abbot Op Saiht Maukice.)

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

Peace be with Count Manfred!

MANFRED.

Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls;
Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those
Who dwell within them.

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

Would it were so, Count!— But I would fain confer with thee alone.

MANFRED.

Herman, retire. What would my reverend guest?

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

Thus, without prelude :—Age and zeal, my office,

And good intent, must plead my privilege;

Our near though not acquainted neighbourhood,

Way also be my herald. Rumours strange,

And of unholy nature, are abroad,

And busy with thy name, a noble name

For centuries; may he who bears it now

Transmit it unimpair'd!

MANFRED.

Proceed,—I listen.

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

"J is said thou boldest converse with the things
Which are forbidden to the search of man;
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes,
The m;my evil and unheavenly spirits
Which walk the valley of the shade of Death,
Thou communest. I know that with mankind,
Thy fellows in creation, thou dost rarely
Exchange thy thoughts, and that thy solitude
Is as an anchorite's, were it but holy.

MANFRED.

And what are they who do avouch these things?

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

My pious brethren—the scared peasantry—
Even thy own vassals—who do look on thee
With most unquiet eyes. Thy life's in perih

MANFRED.

Take it.

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

I come to save, and not destroy— 1 would not pry into thy secret soul; But if these things be sooth, there still is time For penitence and pity : reconcile thee With the true church, and through the church to heaven.

Manfred. .

I hear thee. This is my reply; whate'cr
1 may have been, or am, doth rest between
Heaven and myself.—I shall not choose a mortal
To be my mediator. Have I sinn'd
Against your ordinances, prove and punish!

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

My son! I did not speak of punishment,

But penitence and pardon ;—with thyself

The choice of such remains—and for the last,

Our institutions aud our strong belief

Have given me power to smooth the path from sin

To higher hope and better thoughts; the first

1 leave to heaven—« Vengeance is mine alone! »

So saith the Lord, and with all humbleness

His servant echoes back the awful word.

MA1SFRED.

Old man! there is no power in holy men,
Nor charm in prayer—nor purifying form
Of penitence—nor outward look—nor fast,
Nor agony—nor, greater than all these,
The innate tortures of that deep despair,
Which is remorse without the fear of hell,
But all in all sufficient to itself

Would make a hell of heaven — c;m exorcise
From out the unbounded spirit, the quick sense
Of its own sins, wrongs, suS'rrance, and revenge
Upon itsclf, there is no future pang
Can deal that justice on the sclf-condemn'd
He deals on his own soul.

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

All this is well;

For this will pass away, and be succeeded
By an auspicious hope, which shall look up
With calm assurance to that blessed place,
Which all who seek may win, whatever be
Their earthly errors, so they be aloned:
And the commencement of atonement is
The sense of its necessity.—Say on—
And all our church can teach thee shall be taught;
And all we can absolve thee, shall be pardon'd.

MANFKED.

When Rome's sixth Emperor was near his last,
The victim of a self-inflicted wound,
To shun the torments of a public death
From senates once his slaves, a certain soldier,
With show of loyal pity, would have staunch'd
The gushing throat with his officious robe;
1 he dying Roman thrust him back and said-
Some empire still in his expiring glance,
« It is too late—is this fidelity? »

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

And what of this?

MANFRED.

I answer with the Roman— « It is too late! »

«,'

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

It never can be so,

To reconcile thyself with thy own soul,
And thy own soul with heaven. Hast thou no hope?
'Tis strange—even those who do despair above,
Yet shape themselves some phantasy on earth,
To which frail twig they cling, like drowning men.

MANFRED.

Ay—father! I have had those earthly visions

And noble aspirations in my youth,

To make my own the mind of other men,

The enlightener of nations; and to rise

I knew not whither—it might be to fall;

But fall, even as the mountain-cataract,

Which having leapt from its more dazzling height,

Even in the foaming strength of its abyss,

( Which casts up misty columns that become

Clouds raining from the re-ascended skies,)

Lies low but mighty still.—But this is past,

My thoughts mistook themselves.

ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.

And wherefore seJ

MANFRED.

I could not tame my nature down ; for he

Must serve who fain would sway—and sooth—and sue •

And watch all time—and pry into all place—

And be a living lie—who would become

A mighty thing amongst the mean, and such

The mass are ; I disdained to mingle with

A herd, though to be leader—and of wolves.

The lion is alone, and so am I.

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