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765

Some such had been, if here a life was reft,
But these were not; and doubting hope is left;
And strange suspicion, whispering Lara's name,
Now daily mutters o'er his blacken'd fame;
Then sudden silent when his form appear'd,
Awaits the absence of the thing it fear'd
Again its wonted wondering to renew,
And dye conjecture with a darker hue.

770

VII.

Days roll along, and Otho's wounds are heald,
But not his pride; and hate no more conceal'd:
He was a man of power, and Lara's foe,
The friend of all who sought to work him wo, 775
And from his country's justice now demands
Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands.
Who else than Lara could have cause to fear
His presence ? who had made him disappear,
If not the man on whom his menaced charge 780
Had sate too deeply were he left at large?
The general rumour ignorantly loud,
The mystery dearest to the curious crowd ;
The seeming friendlessness of him who strove
To win no confidence, and wake no love; 785
The sweeping fierceness which his soul betray'd,
The skill with which he wielded his keen blade;
Where had his arm unwarlike caught that art?
Where had that fierceness grown upon his heart?

For it was not the blind capricious rage

790 A word can kindle and a word assuage; But the deep working of a soul unmix'd With aught of pity where its wrath had fix'd; Such as long power and overgorged success Concentrates into all that's merciless :

795 These, link'd with that desire which ever sways Mankind, the rather to condemn than praise, 'Gainst Lara gathering raised at length a storm, Such as himself might fear, and foes would form, And he must answer for the absent head

800 Of one that haunts him still, alive or dead.

VIII. Within that land was many a malcontent, Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent; That soil full many a wringing despot saw, Who worked his wantonness in form of law: 805 Long war without and frequent broil within Had made a path for blood and giant sin, That waited but a signal to begin New havock, such as civil discord blends, Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends: 810 Fix'd in his feudal fortress each was lord, In word and deed obeyed, in soul abhorr’d. Thus Lara had inherited his lands, And with them pining hearts and sluggish hands; But that long absence from his native clime 815 Had left him stainless of oppression's crime,

And now diverted by his milder sway,
All dread by slow degrees had worn away:
The menials felt their usual awe alone,
But more for him than them that fear was grown; 820
They deem'd him now unhappy, though at first
Their evil judgment augur'd of the worst,
And each long restless night, and silent mood,
Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude:
And though his lonely habits threw of late 825
Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate;
For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew,
For them, at least, his soul compassion knew.
Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high,
The humble pass'd not his unheeding eye;

830
Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof
They found asylum oft, and ne'er reproof.
And they who watch'd might mark that day by day,
Some new retainers gather'd to his sway;
But most of late, since Ezzelin was lost,

835 He play'd the courteous lord and bounteous host: Perchance his strife with Otho made him dread Some snare prepared for his obnoxious head; Whate'er his view, his favour more obtains With these, the people, than his fellow thanes. 840 If this were policy, so far 'twas sound, The million judged but of him as they found ; From him by sterner chiefs to exile driven They but required a shelter, and 'twas given,

By him no peasant mourn'd his rifled cot, 845
And scarce the Serf could murmur o'er his lot;
With him old avarice found its hoard secure,
With him contempt forbore to mock the poor;
Youth present cheer and promised recompense
Detain'd, till all too late to part from thence:

850
To hate he offerd, with the coming change,
The deep reversion of delay'd revenge;
To love, long baffled by the unequal match
The well-won charms success was sure to snatch.
All now was ripe, he waits but to proclaim 855
That slavery nothing which was still a name.
The moment came, the hour when Otho thought
Secure at last the vengeance which he sought:
His summons found the destined criminal
Begirt by thousands in his swarming hall,

860 Fresh from their feudal fetters newly riven, Defying earth, and confident of heaven. That morning he had freed the soil-bound slaves Who dig no land for tyrants but their graves ! Such is their cry-some watchword for the fight 865 Must vindicate the wrong, and warp the right: Religion-freedom---vengeance--what you will, A word's enough to raise mankind to kill; Some factious phrase by cunning caught and spread, That guilt may reign,and wolves and worms be fed! 870

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Now was the hour for faction's rebel growth,
The Serfs contemn'd the one, and hated both:
They waited but a leader, and they found

875
One to their cause inseparably bound;
By circumstance compell’d to plunge again,
In self-defence, amidst the strife of men.
Cut off by some mysterious fate from those
Whom birth and nature meant not for his foes, 880
Had Lara from that night, to him accurst,
Prepared to meet, but not alone, the worst:
Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun
Inquiry into deeds at distance done;
By mingling with his own the cause of all,

885 E'en if he fail'd, he still delay'd his fall. The sullen calm that long his bosom kept, The storm that once had spent itself and slept, Roused by events that seem'd foredoom'd to urge His gloomy fortunes to their utmost verge,

890 Burst forth, and made him all he once had been, And is again; he only changed the scene. Light care had he for life, and less for fame, But not less fitted for the desperate game: He deem'd himself mark'd out for other's hate, 895 And mock'd at ruin so they shared his fate. What cared he for the freedom of the crowd ? He raised the humble but to bend the proud. He had hoped quiet in his sullen lair, But man and destiny beset him there:

900

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