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his countenance; and a convulsion of his whole frame seemed to be overcome by a great effort.
Stories of women carried off, or shut up in the castles of barbarous and wicked Chiefs, were now so frequent, that whenever they recurred, no single character was the exclusive object of suspicion, however defamed. When therefore in the dangerous defiles of Lorraine, the shrieks of females in distress, and their subsequent disappearance, filled families with alarm and despair, the Green Man was no more regarded as one who might be guilty of such an outrage, than a thousand others.
The Duke of Lorraine of that day, Simon II. the seventh Duke, who died in 1207, did all in his power to suppress these dreadful crimes in bis principality. But such were his fatignes, and the anxieties of Government in this tumultuous age, that at last he retired from the world; and sought an asylum in the Abbey of Sultzbrunn.
There was something unaccountable, and magical, in the mingled and half-admiring awe, which this Green Man, in all his supposed Proteus-like shapes, possessed over the whole Principality of Lorraine; and some of the adjoining Provinces of
Germany. He was not always believed to be an Evil Spirit. Girls sometimes wished to meet him in his milder characters of a Minstrel; a Palmer; or a Priest : and would linger of an evening to hear the sweet and affecting songs, that were supposed to proceed from his haunts.
There was a Forest, that run half way up a mountain in Lorraine, whence these songs bad been heard during almost every evening of a whole spring. Girls were accustomed to go out in groups from the city of Toul, towards the latter part of the day, to listen to these sounds. Sometimes they were intermixed with cries of piercing lamentation; and were reverberated across the valley from the opposite ascent. There was not one of these groups, who doubted some aërial agency in this affair.
In one of these excursions a little pocket-book was picked up in a deep wood-path, that made a great noise at the time. It was carried to some of the most learned men of the city, of which the girls were inhabitants; and deciphered with great difficulty in parts; while other parts remained utterly illegible. The whole was written in an agitated, and often abbreviated hand. It contained memorials of the Writer's sentiments under the transient ebullitions of Hope: in the bitterness of Disappointment: in the tortures of a guilty Conscience; and the agonies of Despair. It seemed to proceed from a great mind, originally capable of virtuous and noble emotions: but fallen into appalling crimes; and the former seeds of goodness aggravating the excess of his present torment.
Extracts from them will afford the best materials for the present Story.
“The appetite to enjoy! and curses, damnation, and ruin, in return for the enjoyment! How is this? Brought into a world full of delights: and yet condemned to misery, if we taste them! O vile existence! O horrible humanity! O provoking compound of destructive contradictions! The voice of Music may sound enchantingly; but we must not yield to its inspirations! Beauty may instil her estatic softness in our hearts; but we must turn it to pain by the force of icy repressions! The bowl may sparkle; but we must not drink! The tabor may sound; but we must not dance! The Sun may laugh; and the Moon may smile; and yet we must not yield to their gentle influences !--- It is false:---it cannot be! Pleasures are to taste; and Beauty to enjoy: and life to live!”
“Is it for this then, that I am punished? Despoiled: rendered an outcast: scorned; and spit upon; and starved! I hate the dogs, that fatten on my harvests; drink my vintages; and bathe in my fountains of delight! Revenge; the day of dear revenge, yet shall come, when the edge of the sword shall gorge itself in their hearts' blood !"
“Have they then robbed me of all? Can I not yet carve out gratifications for myself? Nature is open to me: the fields, and the woods, and the sweet songs of birds; and the roar of winds; and the perfume of flowers; and the endless and ever-shifting colours of earth, and air, and skies. But, oh, am I worthy of them? Is it a guilty conscience that can enjoy them?"
“Yet what is guilt? Were it guilt, it could not be joy! But joy it is, even to me! Nor am I hideous, as they would make me! If hideous, why does female Innocence yet listen to me? Why does Love cling to me: and the voluptuous glance dart forth to enrapture me? Sweet Evenings, when my pipe draws the village-maids to listen to me; and the melody of my songs floats on the softening air, till they drink it into their hearts! True; I have sometimes poured out the inebriating poison of seductive and ruinous passion: but often also have I healed the wounds that I have given; and often the wounds of others. I have dealt in the balmy cup of Religion; as well as in the more tumultuous one of Sensual Enjoyment! I have wiped off the tear from Affright; and charmed away the dart from Sorrow!
“But yet this Solitude has days and weeks of comfortless prolixity. Methinks, I love the tumult; and the cheer; and the bold impulses; and even the fever of Society! I live not but in Enterprize: Calm is despair, and death to me!”
“And Thou too, Pretty-One, who now danglest so contentedly by my side! Thou wert shy at first; and weepedst ! but thy tears became thee! Thou shall be my page, Dearest; and carry my harp; and we will go, and seek adventures; and we will see the array of Courts, in our disguise; and its throngs, and its fair damsels; and its glitter of armour: and we will listen to the enlivening sounds of its loud instruments of music; and interpose our Tales of Chivalry and Love, that shall make Knights half unsheathe their Swords; and beautiful maidens tremble with affection!”
“My bosom beats again, with hopes at the enlivening prospect! Thy sweet face, gentle Page, shall win me favour with these damsels; and thy delicate hands shall carry them the Songs that their eyes will devour! Away then with the dull pen! let us apparrel ourselves for the outset; and joy and adventure be with us!"