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Pausing then, he raised His hand, and pointed where Siverian lay Stretched on the heath. To that old man, said he, And to the mother of the unhappy Goth, Tell, if it please thee,-not what thou hast pour'd Into my secret ear, but that the child For whom they mourn with anguish unallay'd, Sinn'd not from vicious will, or heart corrupt But fell by fatal circumstance betray'd. And if in charity to them thou sayest Something to palliate, something to excuse An act of sudden frenzy when the fiend O’ercame him, thou wilt do for Roderick All he could ask thee, all that can be done On earth, and all his spirit could endure.
Venturing towards her an imploring look,
Wilt thou join with me for his soul in prayer?
He said, and trembled as he spake. That voice
Of sympathy was like Heaven's influence,
Wounding at once and comforting the soul.
O Father, Christ requite thee! she exclaim'd;
Thou hast set free the springs which withering griefs
Have closed too long. Forgive me, for I thought
Thou wert a rigid and unpitying judge ;
One whose stern virtue, feeling in itself
No flaw of frailty, heard impatiently
Of weakness and of guilt. I wrong'd thee, Father !
With that she took his hand, and kissing it,
Bathed it with tears. Then in a firmer speech,
For Roderick, for Count Julian and myself,
Three wretchedest of all the human race,
Who have destroyed each other and ourselves,
Mutually wrong'd and wronging let us pray!
RODERICK AND HIS MOTHER.
(FROM BOOK XV.)
He went resolved to tell his Mother all,
Fall at her feet, and drinking the last dregs
Of bitterness, receive the only good
Earth had in store for him. Resolved for this
He went; yet was it a relief to find
That painful resolution must await
A fitter season, when no eye but Heaven's
Might witness to their mutual agony.
Count Julian's daughter with Rusilla sate;
Both had been weeping, both were pale, but calm.
With head as for humility abased
Roderick approach'd, and bending, on his breast
He cross'd his humble arms. Rusilla rose
In reverence to the priestly character,
And with a mournful eye regarding him,
Thus she began. Good Father, I have heard
From my old faithful servant and true friend,
Thou didst reprove the inconsiderate tongue,
That in the anguish of its spirit pour'd
A curse upon my poor unhappy child.
Thy Christian charity hath not been lost ;-
Father, I feel its virtue:-it hath been
Balm to my heart :—with words and grateful tears,-
All that is left me now for gratitude,
I thank thee, and beseech thee in thy prayers
That thou wilt still remember Roderick's name.
Roderick so long had to this hour looked on,
That when the actual point of trial came,
Torpid and numb'd it found him ; cold he grew,
And as the vital spirits to the heart
Retreated, o'er his withered countenance,
Deathy and damp, a whiter paleness spread.
Unmoved the while the inward feeling seemed,
Even in such dull insensibility
As gradual age brings on, or slow disease,
Beneath whose progress lingering life survives
The power of suffering. Wondering at himself,
Yet gathering confidence, he raised his eyes,
Then slowly shaking as he bent his head,
O venerable Lady, he replied,
If aught may comfort that unhappy soul,
It must be thy compassion, and thy prayers.
She whom he most hath wrong'd, she who alone
On earth can grant forgiveness for his crime,
She hath forgiven him ; and thy blessing now
Were all that he could ask,-all that could bring
Profit or consolation to his soul,
If he hath been, as sure we may believe,
A penitent sincere.
Oh had he lived,
Replied Rusilla, never penitence
Had equallid his ! full well I know his heart,
Vehement in all things. He would on himself
Have wreak'd such penance as had reach'd the height
Of fleshly suffering,-yea, which being told
With its portentous rigoui should have made
The memory of his fault, o'erpower'd and lost
In shuddering pity and astonishment,
Fade like a feebler horror.
I ever deem'd his fall
An act of sudden madness; and this day
Hath in unlook’d-for confirmation given
A livelier hope, a more assurëd faith.
Smiling benignant then amid her tears,
She took Florinda by the hand, and said,
I little thought that I should live to bless
Count Julian's daughter! She hath brought to me
The last, the best, the only comfort earth
Could minister to this afflictëd heart,
And my grey hairs may now unto the grave
Go down in peace.
Happy, Florinda cried,
Are they for whom the grave hath peace in store !
The wrongs they have sustain'd, the woes they bear,
Pass not that holy threshold, where Death heals
The broken heart. O Lady, thou may'st trust
In humble hope, through Him who on the Cross
Gave his atoning blood for lost mankind,
To meet beyond the grave thy child forgiven.
I have a keener sorrow here,One which,-but God forefend that dire event, May pass with me the portals of the grave, And with a thought, like sin which cannot die, Embitter Heaven. My father hath renounced His hope in Christ! It was his love for me Which drove him to perdition.— I was born To ruin all who loved me,-all I loved ! ...
To Roderick then The pious mourner turn'd her suppliant eyes : O Father, there is virtue in thy prayers !I do beseech thee offer them to Heaven In his behalf! For Roderick's sake, for mine, Wrestle with Him whose name is Merciful, That Julian may with penitence be touch’d, And clinging to the Cross, implore that grace Which ne'er was sought in vain. While thus Florinda spake, the dog who lay Before Rusilla's feet, eyeing him long
And wistfully, had recognised at length,
Changed as he was and in those sordid weeds,
His royal master. And he rose and lick'd
His wither'd hand, and earnestly look'd up
With eyes whose human meaning did not need
The aid of speech ; and moan'd, as if at once
To court and chide the long-withheld caress.
A feeling uncommix'd with sense of guilt
Or shame, yet painfullest, thrill’d through the King;
But he, to self-controul now long inured,
Represt his rising heart, nor other tears,
Full as his struggling bosom was, let fall
Than seem'd to follow on Florinda's words.
Looking toward her then, yet so that still
He shunn'd the meeting of her eye, he said,
Virtuous and pious as thou art, and ripe
For Heaven, O Lady, I must think the man
Hath not by his good Angel been cast off
For whom thy supplications rise. The Lord
Whose justice doth in its unerring course
Visit the children for the sire's offence,
Shall He not in his boundless mercy hear
The daughter's prayer, and for her sake restore
The guilty parent ?
Thus having said,
Deliberately, in self-possession still,
Himself from that most painful interview
Dispeeding, he withdrew. The watchful dog
Follow'd his footsteps close. But he retired
Into the thickest grove ; there yielding way
To his o'erburthen'd nature, from all eyes
Apart, he cast himself upon the ground,
And threw his arms around the dog, and cried,
While tears streamed down, Thou, Theron, then hast knop
Thy poor lost master, Theron, none but thou !