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In Conrad's form seems little to admire,
Though his dark eye-brow shades a glance of fire:
Robust but not Herculean-to the sight
No giant frame sets forth his common height; 200
Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again,
Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men;
They gaze and marvel how-and still confess
That thus it is, but why they cannot guess.
Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale 205
The sable curls in wild profusion veil;
And oft perforce his rising lip reveals i
The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals.
Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien,
Still seems there something he would not have seen: 210
His features' deepening lines and varying hue
At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view,
As if within that murkiness of mind
Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined;
Such might it be-that none could truly tell- 215
Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell.
There breathe but few whose aspect might defy
The full encounter of his searching eye:
He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek
To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek, 220
At once the observer's purpose to espy,
And on himself roll back his scrutiny,
Lest he to Conrad rather should betray
Some secret thought, than drag that chief's to day.
There was a laughing Devil in his sneer,
That raised emotions both of rage and fear;
And where his frown of hatred darkly fell,
Hope withering filed—and Mercy sigh'd farewell!
Slight are the outward signs of evil thought,
Within--within-'twas there the spirit wrought! 230
Love shows all changes-Hate, Ambition, Guile,
Betray no further than the bitter smile;
The lip's least curl, the lightest paleness thrown
Along the govern'd aspect, speak alone
Of deeper passions; and to judge their mien, 235
He, who would see, must be himself unseen.
Then-with the hurried tread, the upward eye,
The clenched hand, the pause of agony,
That listens, starting, lest the step too near
Approach intrusive on that mood of fear: 240
Then-with each feature working from the heart,
With feelings loosed to strengthen-not depart:
That rise-convulse-contend--that freeze, or glow,
Flush in the cheek, or damp upon thc brow;
Then—Stranger! if thou canst, and tremblest not, 245
Behold his soul-the rest that soothes his lot!
Mark-how that lone and blighted bosom sears
The scathing thought of execrated years!
Behold-but who hath seen, or e'er shall see,
Man as himself—the secret spirit free?
XI. Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent To lead the guilty---guilt's worst instrument--His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven. Warp'd by the world in Disappointment's school, 255 In words too wise, in conduct there a fool; Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop, Doom'd by his very virtues for a dupe, He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill, And not the traitors who betray'd him still;' 260 Nor deem'd that gifts bestow'd on better men Had left him joy, and means to give again. Feard-shunn'd-belied-ere youth had lost her force, He hated man too much to feel remorse, And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call, 265 To pay the injuries of some on all. He knew himself a villain—but he deem'd The rest no better than the thing he seem'd; And scorn'd the best as hypocrites who hid Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. 270 He knew himself detested, but he knew The hearts that loath'd him, crouch'd and dreaded too. Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt From all affection and from all contempt: His name could sadden, and his acts surprise; 275 But they that fear'd him dared not to despise :
Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake
The slumbering venom of the folded spake:
The first may turo-but not avenge the blow;
The last expires—but leaves no living foe;
Fast to the doom'd offender's form it clings,
And he may crush—not conquer-still it stings!
None are all evil-quickening round his heart,
One softer feeling would not yet depart;
Oft could he sneer at others as beguiled
By passions worthy of a fool or child;
Yet 'gainst that passion vainly still be strove,
And even in him it asks the name of Love!
Yes, it was love-unchangeable-unchanged,
Felt but for one from whom he never ranged; 290
Though fairest captives daily met his eye,
He shunn'd, nor sought, but coldly pass'd them by;
Though many a beauty droop'd in prison'd bower,
None ever soothed his most unguarded hour.
Yes-it was Love-if thoughts of tenderness, 295
Tried in temptation, strengthen'd by distress,
Unmov'd by absence, firm in every clime,
And yet-Oh more than all!-untired by time;
Which nor defeated hope, nor baffled wile,
Could render sullen were she ne'er to smile,
Nor rage could fire, nor sickness fret to vent
On her one murmur of his discontent;
Which still would meet with joy, with calmness part,
Lest that his look of grief should reach her heart;
Which nought removed, nor menaced to remove- 305
If there be love in mortals—this was love!
He was a villain-ay-reproaches shower
On him-but not the passion, nor its power,
Which only proved, all other virtues gone,
Not guilt itself could quench this loveliest one! 310
XIII. He paused a moment-till his hastening men Pass'd the first winding downward to the glen. “Strange tidings !-many a peril have I past, “Nor know I why this next appears the last ! “ Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear, 315 “Nor shall my followers find me falter here. “ 'Tis rash to meet, but surer death to wait “Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate; "And, if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile, "We'll furnish mourners for our funeral-pile. 320 “Ay-let them slumber-peaceful be their dreams ! “Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams " As kindle high to-night (but blow, thou breeze !) "To warm these slow avengers of the seas. "Now to Medora-Oh! my sinking heart, 325 "Long may her own be lighter than thou art! “Yet was I brave-mean boast where all are brave ! “Ev'n insects sting for aught they seek to save.