Imatges de pÓgina
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Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight
Over the horizon of the mountains-Oh!
How beautiful is sunset, when the glow

Of heaven descends upon a land like thee,
Thou paradise of exiles, Italy!

Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the towers
Of cities they encircle!—It was ours

To stand on thee, beholding it: and then,

Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men

Were waiting for us with the gondola.

As those who pause on some delightful way,
Tho' bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood,
Looking upon the evening and the flood,
Which lay between the city and the shore,
Paved with the image of the sky: the hoar
And aery Alps, towards the north, appeared,
Thro' mist, an heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared
Between the east and west; and half the sky
Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
Down the steep west into a wondrous hue
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent
Among the many folded hills-they were
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
As seen from Lido thro' the harbour piles,
The likeness of a clump of peaked isles-
And then, as if the earth and sea had been
Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen
Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame,
Around the vaporous sun, from which there came
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made

Their very peaks transparent. "Ere it fade,"
Said my companion, "I will show you soon
A better station." So, o'er the lagune
We glided; and from that funereal bark
I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark
How from their many isles, in evening's gleam,
Its temples and its palaces did seem

Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heav'n.
I was about to speak, when-" We are even ·
Now at the point I meant," said Maddalo,
And bade the gondolieri cease to row.
"Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well

If

you hear not a deep and heavy bell.”

I looked, and saw between us and the sun
A building on an island, such an one
As age to age might add, for uses vile,-
A windowless, deformed and dreary pile;
And on the top an open tower, where hung
A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung,
We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue:
The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled
In strong and black relief." What we behold
Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower;"-
Said Maddalo," and even at this hour,

Those who may cross the water hear that bell,
Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell,
To vespers."-" As much skill as need to pray,
In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they,
To their stern maker," I replied." O, ho!
You talk as in years past," said Maddalo.
“'Tis strange men change not. You were ever still
Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel,

A wolf for the meek lambs: if you can't swim,
Beware of providence." I looked on him,
But the gay smile had faded from his eye.
"And such," he cried, " is our mortality;
And this must be the emblem and the sign
Of what should be eternal and divine;
And like that black and dreary bell the soul,
Hung in an heav'n-illumined tower, must toll
Our thoughts and our desires to meet below
Round the rent heart, and pray-as madmen do;
For what? they know not, till the night of death,
As sunset that strange vision, severeth
Our memory from itself, and us from all
We sought, and yet were baffled." I recall
The sense of what he said, although I mar
The force of his expressions. The broad star
Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill;
And the black bell became invisible;
And the red tower looked grey; and all between,
The churches, ships, and palaces, were seen
Huddled in gloom; into the purple sea
The orange hues of heaven sunk silently.
We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola
Conveyed me to my lodging by the way.

The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim: Ere Maddalo arose I called on him,

And whilst I waited, with his child I played;

A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made;

A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being;
Graceful without design, and unforeseeing;

With eyes-Oh! speak not of her eyes! which seem

Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam
With such deep meaning as we never see
But in the human countenance.

With me

She was a special favourite: I had nursed

Her fine and feeble limbs, when she came first

To this bleak world; and she yet seemed to know

On second sight, her ancient playfellow,

Less changed than she was by six months or so.

For, after her first shyness was worn out,

We sate there, rolling billiard balls about,
When the Count entered. Salutations past:

"The words you spoke last night might well have cast A darkness on my spirit :-if man be

The passive thing you say, I should not see
Much harm in the religions and old saws,
(Though I may never own such leaden laws)
Which break a teachless nature to the yoke:
Mine is another faith."-Thus much I spoke,
And, noting he replied not, added—" See
This lovely child; blithe, innocent and free;
She spends a happy time, with little care;
While we to such sick thoughts subjected are,
As came on you last night. It is our will
Which thus enchains us to permitted ill.
We might be otherwise; we might be all
We dream of, happy, high, majestical.
Where is the love, beauty, and truth we seek,
But in our minds? And, if we were not weak,
Should we be less in deed than in desire?"—

Aye, if we were not weak,—and we aspire,
How vainly! to be strong," said Maddalo :
"You talk Utopia"-

"It remains to know,"

I then rejoined," and those who try, may find
How strong the chains are which our spirit bind :
Brittle perchance as straw. We are assured
Much may be conquered, much may be endured,
Of what degrades and crushes us. We know
That we have power over ourselves to do
And suffer-what, we know not till we try;
But something nobler than to live and die:
So taught the kings of old philosophy,
Who reigned before religion made men blind;
And those who suffer with their suffering kind,
Yet feel this faith, religion."

"My dear friend,"

Said Maddalo, "my judgment will not bend
To your opinion, though I think you might
Make such a system refutation-tight,
As far as words go. I knew one like you,
Who to this city came some months ago,
With whom I argued in this sort,—and he
Is now gone mad—and so he answered me,
Poor fellow !-But if you would like to go,
We'll visit him, and his wild talk will shew
How vain are such aspiring theories."-

"I hope to prove the induction otherwise,
And that a want of that true theory still,
Which seeks a soul of goodness in things ill,
Or in himself or others, has thus bow'd
His being :-there are some by nature proud,
Who, patient in all else, demand but this-

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