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MANFRED ( alone. )
There is a calm upon me
Inexplicable stillness! which till now
Did not belong to what I knew of life.
If that I did not know philosophy
To be of all our vanities the motliest,
The merest word that ever fool'd the ear
From out the schoolman's jargon, I should deem
The golden secret, the sought « Kalon, w found,
And seated in my soul. It will not last,
But it is well to have known it, though but once :
It hath enlarged my thoughts with a new sense,
And I within my tablets would note down
That there is such a feeling. Who is there?
My lord, the Abbot of Saint Maurice craves
To greet your presence.
(Enter the ABBOT OF SAINT MAURICE.)
Peace be with Count Manfred !
Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls ;
Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those
Who dwell within them.
Would it were so, Count! But I would fain confer with thee alone.
Herman, retire. What would my reverend guest?
Thus, without prelude :- age and zeal, my office,
And good intent, must plead my privilege ;
Our near though not acquainted neighbourhood,
May also be my herald. Rumours strange,
And of unholy nature, are abroad,
And busy with thy name, a noble name
For centuries ; may he who bears it now
Transmit it unimpair’d!
"Tis said thou holdest converse with the things
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 solitade
Is as an anchorite's, were it but boly.
And what are they who do avouch these things?
My pious bretliren-the scared peasantry-
Even thy own vassals—who do look on thee
With most unquiet cyes. Thy life's in peril.
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 heaven.
I hear thee. This is my reply; whate'er
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!
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.
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 bell of heaven-can exorcise
From out the upbounded spirit, the quick sense
Of its own sins, wrongs, sufferance, and revenge
Upon itself, there is no future paug
Can deal that justice on the self-condemn'd
He deals on bis own soul.
All this is well; For this will pass away, and he 'succeeded By an auspicious hope, which shall look up With calmn assurance to that blessed place, Which all who scek may win, whatever be Their earthly errors, so they be atoned : And the commencement of atonement is The sense of its necessity.-Say onAnd all our church can teach thee shall be taught; And all we can absolve thee, shall be pardon'd.
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 staunch'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 ? »
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 phantasy on earth, To which frail twig they cling, like drowning men.
Ay-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 froin the re-ascended skies, )
Lies low but mighty still. But this is past,
My thoughts mistook themselves.
I could not tame my nature down ; for he
Must serve who fain would sway—and sooth-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 disdained to mingle with
A herd, though to be leader--and of wolves,
The lion is alone, and so am I.