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Which are forbidden to the search of man ;
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes,
The many 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.
Man. And what are they who do avouch these things?
Abbot. My pious brethren-the scared peasantry— Even thy own vassals-who do look on thee With most unquiet eyes. Thy life's in peril. Man. Take it. Abbot.
Man. I hear thee. This is my reply: whate'er
I 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. 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 and our strong belief
Have given me power to smooth the path from sin
To higher hope and better thoughts; the first
I leave to Heaven, Vengeance is mine alone!'
So saith the Lord, and with all humbleness
His servant echoes back the awful word.
I come to save, and not destroy: I 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
Man. 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-can exorcise
From out the unbounded spirit the quick sense
Of its own sins, wrongs, sufferance, and revenge
Upon itself; there is no future pang
Can deal that justice on the self-condemn'd
He deals on his own soul.
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 atoned:
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.
Man. 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 stanch'd
The gushing throat with his officious robe;
The dying Roman thrust him back, and said-
Some empire still in his expiring glance—
"It is too late-is this fidelity?
And what of this?
'It is too late!'
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 fantasy on earth,
To which frail twig they cling, like drowning men.
Man. Aye-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.
And wherefore so ?
I could not tame my nature down; for he
Must serve who fain would sway; and soothe, 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 disdain'd to mingle with
A herd, though to be leader-and of wolves.
The lion is alone, and so am I.
Look on me! there is an order
Of mortals on the earth, who do become
Old in their youth, and die ere middle age,
Without the violence of warlike death;
Some perishing of pleasure, some of study,
Some worn with toil, some of mere weariness,
Some of disease, and some insanity,
And some of wither'd, or of broken hearts;
Abbot. And why not live and act with other men ? Man. Because my nature was averse from life : And yet not cruel; for I would not make, But find a desolation. Like the wind, The red-hot breath of the most lone simoom, Which dwells but in the desert, and sweeps o'er The barren sands which bear no shrubs to blast, And revels o'er their wild and arid waves, And seeketh not, so that it is not sought, But being met is deadly, such hath been The course of my existence; but there came Things in my path which are no more.
I 'gin to fear that thou art past all aid
From me and from my calling; yet so young,
I still would-
For this last is a malady which slays
More than are number'd in the lists of Fate,
Taking all shapes, and bearing many names.
Look upon me! for even of all these things
Have I partaken; and of all these things,
One were enough; then wonder not that I
Am what I am, but that I ever was,
Or having been, that I am still on earth.
Abbot. Yet, hear me still-
Old man! I do respect Thine order, and revere thine years; I deem Thy purpose pious, but it is in vain : Think me not churlish; I would spare thyself, Far more than me, in shunning at this time All further colloquy-and so-farewell.
Abbot. This should have been a noble creature: he
Hath all the energy which would have made 161
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos-light and darkness,-
And mind and dust,-and passions and pure thoughts
Mix'd, and contending without end or order,-
All dormant or destructive: he will perish,
And yet he must not; I will try once more.
For such are worth redemption; and my duty
Is to dare all things for a righteous end.
I'll follow him-but cautiously, though surely.
MANFRED and HERMAN.
Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset: He sinks behind the mountain.
Doth he so ?
I will look on him. [MANFRED advances to the Window of the Hall.
Glorious Orb! the idol
Of early nature, and the vigorous race
Of undiseased mankind, the giant sons
Of the embrace of angels, with a sex
More beautiful than they, which did draw down
The erring spirits who can ne'er return.—
Most glorious orb! that wert a worship, ere
The mystery of thy making was reveal'd!
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladden'd, on their mountain tops, the hearts
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they pour'd
Themselves in orisons! Thou material God!
And representative of the Unknown—
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief star!
Centre of many stars! which mak'st our earth
Endurable, and temperest the hues
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays!
Sire of the seasons! Monarch of the climes,
And those who dwell in them! for near or far,
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee
Even as our outward aspects ;-thou dost rise,
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well!
I ne'er shall see thee more. As my first glance
Of love and wonder was for thee, then take
My latest look; thou wilt not beam on one
To whom the gifts of life and warmth have been
Of a more fatal nature. He is gone:
HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of
The Mountains-The Castle of Manfred at some distance-A Terrace before a Tower.-Time, Twilight.
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,-
So have we all been oft-times; but from it,
Her. 'Tis strange enough; night after night, for years,