« AnteriorContinuar »
didst scheme, and dream, oh Soul, to plant the Dome of thy Felicity.
"Build not, build not!
"Presume not to be the architect of thine own happiness.
"Yet say 'The plan was good and fair. Majestically moulded in the inmost mind, daintily fashioned, and delicately decked by all the richlyministering Hours; how bold, how beautiful, how bravely built, how firmly settled upon fast foundations, how sumptuously solaced with all noble color and harmonious form; with what brightening toil, at what tender touchings, the temple rose, like mounting music, upward, ever upward to the golden cope, the glorious consummation of the perfect plan!'
"But there Bliss settles not.
"She will not dwell in the house that is built with hands. Free as the bird of heaven, she soars from the hand of God; she hovers in the happy air; she 'lights upon the trembling bough. There, poised upon the yielding tremor of the tender stem, amid the dancing leaves, she sings her magic song. And while thou listenest, upon lightest wing she flies away.
"Build not, build not!
"It comes and goes by other laws, this Happiness, for which we labor and so late take rest.
"Sleep!-deedless, aimless, vacant, unmindful. "And on thy dreaming head the perch unsummoned. Know it not. nize it. Whisper not its name. it thine, thou hast lost it."
airy thing will
Fear to recogSoon as thou callest
"With fire from what far-off heights, in glory of light how divine, and with what holy heat, there streams into my soul the clear conception of the sublimest image that man can contemplate on earth!
"Thou that art to the soul as a trumpet sounding from another world-thou in whose untroubled depth of strenuous calm is reserved for the consciousness of man its only consolation, and for his conscience its sole rest-who dare dispute thy prerogative? What else on earth may presume to be thy peer? Thou only, large and sovran Shape, canst fill the perfect orb of Contemplation; thou only, solitary regent of the loftiest law, art worthy to hold unshared dominion in the soul of man.
"For thou art Certainty.
"Where thou standest, there is the vanishing point in the long perspective of deeds; and, whatever the course of the line, in thee is the law and the end.
"What, oh Soul, thou hast power to behold, that thou hast power to be. Seest thou Certainty? It is thine.
"Never shalt thou bring to an end the superhuman struggle. Never at any time shalt thou be able to say of this or of that, 'Enough, it is finished.'
'Regret not; rejoice not; endure.
"Dare not, oh wrestler, to say, 'I have overthrown.' The foe is ever before thee. The cause is unending, eternal, one with the Godhead. Thee no price can pay, no recompense reward. Be thou the creditor of
claims unsummed, whose compt can never be quitted, for the value of deeds wherein dwells a grandeur too proud to be impoverished by profit.
"For a gain to be gotten? for a price to be paid? "What? wilt thou barter sorrow for joy, as a huckster goods for gold?
"Sad were the bargain; for thou art rich, but thy life is a pauper.
"Lock up again, poor world, thy proffered pension for pain. How shalt thou appraise me the price of a pang made perfect? What conditions canst thou add to that which is complete? or what recompense aread to the rejection of reward?
"Fain would I know in what coin of comfort thou wilt weigh me the worth of a consciousness made costly forever by eternities of anguish contained in the triumph of a moment.
"No. The farewells of the soul are immortal. "Now is Forever.
"The felicity rejected from Time has no admittance to Eternity; for Eternity is-not is to be. Therein is neither past nor future; and these are the conditions of requital.
"Nothing is durable but the duty to endure. Duty is the asylum of the soul.
"Oh Venus Libitina! Oh Beauty, beautifying graves! Oh Keeper of the registers of Death! Thou sittest among the sepulchres, yet art not sad. And 'Here,' thou sayest, 'there is calm.' I will believe thee. Yet there is a chilly pallor on thy brows, and
darkness in the circles of thine eyes. Thou, too, hast
"And to this cold goddess, that to her, also, gracefulness may not be wanting, the great Founder of the world has lent, for coy companion, Beauty's humanest handmaiden, Chaste Shame.
"Vex her not with words. Silence is the chastity of action.
"Let no cry be heard. Crush the escaping groan on the yet quivering lips of the desires thou hast strangled. Uncover not the pale faces of thy departed. Utter not their names aloud. Know thyself, and bear to be unknown. Strike down this beggar heart that prowls for alms, and stops men's pity in the public place. Justify the whole endeavor in the perfect deed. Slay thyself and hide the knife.
"Even so. And as, in large compassion of fond eyes young graves set grieving, kind Nature makes mute haste to cast over the hillocks of the recent dead her grassy carpet of the tender green, so silently, and for others' sakes with such a noble haste, do thou, too, hide beneath the serenity of a smiling face the sorrow of thine immortal soul!"
How far the preceding page of the count's journal is a faithful revelation of the actual state of his mind at the time when it was written, may be judged by the following fragment. For the impartiality of the testimony herein contained, the unconscious character of the witness is the best guarantee.
JULIET TO THERESA.
"I am thankful to say that our anxiety about Edmond is over. His vigorous constitution has triumphantly resisted the feverish attacks which at first alarmed us. Though no longer suffering, however, he looks more serious and preoccupied than I ever saw him before. But my timidity and reluctance to tell him of our engagement were utterly unjustified, and I could now kneel to him for pardon for that momentary foolish shyness.
"When father, in our presence (after his recovery), made known to him the vows we had exchanged, my heart fluttered so fast, and I felt so frightened, that I dared not meet his eye, though I felt he was looking at me. But Edmond answered at once, 'What, dear friends, and do you think that this is news to me?— to me, who have known ever so long-ay, long before you suspected it yourselves-that you two dear