Imatges de pÓgina
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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. “Oho!
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 in 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 a heaven-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, altho' 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 antient 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
(Tho' 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
That thus enchains us to permitted ill-
We might be otherwise--we might be all
We dream of happy, high, majestical.

"It remains to know,”

Where is the love, beauty and truth we seek
But in our mind? 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."
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 those 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, tho' I think you might
Make such a system refutation-tight
As far as words go. I knew one ke 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 feller! but if you would like to go
We'll visit him, and his wild ak will show
How vain are such aspiring thecries”.
“I hope to prove the induction otherwise,
And that a want of that true theers, still.
Which seeks a soul of goodness in things il.
Cr in himself or others has bus bowed
His being there are some by acre proud.

Who patient in all else demand but this:
To love and be beloved with gentleness;
And being scorned, what wonder if they die
Some living death? this is not destiny

But man's own wilful ill."

As thus I spoke

Servants announced the gondola, and we

Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea
Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands.
We disembarked. The clap of tortured hands,
Fierce yells and howlings and lamentings keen,
And laughter where complaint had merrier been,
Moans, shrieks, and curses, and blaspheming prayers
Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs
Into an old court yard.

I heard on high,
Then, fragments of most touching melody,
But looking up saw not the singer there—

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Through the black bars in the tempestuous air
I saw, like weeds on a wrecked palace growing,
Long tangled locks flung wildly forth, and flowing,
Of those who on a sudden were beguiled

Into strange silence, and looked forth and smiled
Hearing sweet sounds. Then I: "Methinks there

were

A cure of these with patience and kind care,

If music can thus move
Whom we seek here?"

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but what is he "Of his sad history

I know but this," said Maddalo, "he came
To Venice a dejected man, and fame

Said he was wealthy, or he had been so;

Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him

woe;

H

But he was ever talking in such sort
As you do-far more sadly-he seemed hurt,
Even as a man with his peculiar wrong,
To hear but of the oppression of the strong,
Or those absurd deceits (I think with you
In some respects you know) which carry through
The excellent impostors of this earth

When they outface detection-he had worth,
Poor fellow! but a humourist in his way—___
"Alas, what drove him mad?" "I cannot say;
A lady came with him from France, and when
She left him and returned, he wandered then
About yon lonely isles of desart sand

Til he grew wild-he had no cash or land
Remaining, the police had brought him, here—
Some fancy took him and he would not bear
Removal; so I fitted up for him

Those rooms beside the sea. to please his whim,
And sent him. busts and books and urns for flowers

Which had adorned his life ir. happier hours,

And instruments of music-you may guess

A stranger could do little more or less

For one so gentle and unfortunate,

And those are his sweet strains which charm the weight

From madmer's chains, and make this Hel. appear A hearer of sacred silence, hushed to hear."

Nav. this was kind of vou-he had no claim, As the world says"-"None but the very same Which I on all mankind were 1 as he

Faller to such deep reverse:his melody

I interrupted-now we hear the din

O: madmen, shriek or shriek again begir. ;

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