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Like his; a stake which rash pursuit of aims
That life affords not, would as soon destroy;
He may convince himself, that, this in view,
I shall act well advised: and last, because,
Though heaven and earth, and all things, were at stake,
Sweet Michal must not weep, our parting eve!
Fest. True and the eve is deepening, and we sit
As little anxious to begin our talk
As though to-morrow I could open it
As we paced arm in arm the cheerful town
At sun-dawn; and continue it by fits
(Old Tritheim busied with his class the while)
In that dim chamber where the noon-streaks peer
Half frightened by the awful tomes around;
And here at home unbosom all the rest
From even-blush to midnight: but, to-morrow!
Have I full leave to tell my inmost mind?
We two were brothers, and henceforth the world
Will rise between us :--all my freest mind?
'Tis the last night, dear Aureole !
Oh, say on!
Devise some test of love-some arduous feat
To be performed for you-say on! If night
Be spent the while, the better! Recall how oft
My wondrous plans, and dreams, and hopes, and fears, Have-never wearied you .. oh, no!.
Recall, and never vividly as now,
Your true affection, born when Einsiedeln
And its green hills were all the world to us,
And still increasing to this night, which ends
My further stay at Würzburg Oh, one day
You shall be very proud! Say on, dear friends!
Fest. In truth? 'Tis for my proper peace, indeed,
Rather than yours; for vain all projects seem
To stay your course: I said my latest hope
Is fading even now. A story tells
Of some far embassy despatched to buy
The favour of an eastern king, and how
The gifts they offered proved but dazzling dust
Shed from the ore-beds native to his clime:
Just so, the value of repose and love,
I meant should tempt you, better far than I
You seem to comprehend-and yet desist
No whit from projects where repose nor love
Par. Once more? Alas! as I forbode !
Fest. A solitary briar the bank puts forth
To save our swan's nest floating out to sea.
Par. Dear Festus, hear me. What is it you wish?
That I should lay aside my heart's pursuit,
Abandon the sole ends for which I live,
Reject God's great commission-and so die!
You bid me listen for your true love's sake:
Yet how has grown that love? Even in a long
And patient cherishing of the selfsame spirit.
It now would quell; as though a mother hoped
To stay the lusty manhood of the child
Once weak upon her knees. I was not born
Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank From aught which marked me out apart from men: I would have lived their life, and died their death, Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny:
But you first guided me through doubt and fear,
Taught me to know mankind and know myself;
And now that I am strong and full of hope,
That, from my soul, I can reject all aims
Save those your earnest words made plain to me ;
Now, that I touch the brink of my design,
When I would have a triumph in their eyes,
A glad cheer in their voices-Michal weeps,
And Festus ponders gravely!
When you deign
To hear my purpose
Hear it? I can say
Beforehand all this evening's conference!
'Tis this way, Michal, that he uses: first,
Or he declares, or I, the leading points.
Of our best scheme of life, what is man's end,
And what God's will-no two faiths e'er agreed
As his with mine: next, each of us allows
Faith should be acted on as best we may :
Accordingly, I venture to submit
A plan, in lack of better, for pursuing
The path which God's will seems to authorize :
Well-he discerns much good in it, avows
This motive worthy, that hope plausible,
A danger here, to be avoided-there,
An oversight to be repaired: at last
Our two minds go together-all the good
Approved by him, I gladly recognize;
All he counts bad, I thankfully discard;
And nought forbids my looking up at last
For some stray comfort in his cautious brow—
When, lo! I learn that, spite of all, there lurks
Some innate and inexplicable germ
Of failure in my schemes; so that at last
It all amounts to this--the sovereign proof
That we devote ourselves to God, is seen
In living just as though there were no God;
A life which, prompted by the sad and blind
Lusts of the world, Festus abhors the most—
But which these tenets sanctify at once;
Though to less subtle wits it seems the same,
Consider it how they may.
Is it so, Festus?
He speaks so calmly and kindly-is it so?
Par. Reject those glorious visions of God's love.
And man's design; laugh loud that God should send
Vast longings to direct us; say how soon
Power satiates these, or lust, or gold; I know
The world's cry well, and how to answer it!
Ist this ambiguous warfare.
That you will grant no last leave to your friend
urge it ?--for his sake, not yours? I wish
To send my soul in good hopes after you;
Never to sorrow that uncertain words,
Erringly apprehended—a new creed,
Ill understood--begot rash trust in you,
And shared in your undoing.
Choose your side :
Hold or renounce: but meanwhile blame me not
Because I dare to act on your own views,
Nor shrink when they point onward, nor espy
A peril where they most insure success.
Fest. Prove that to me-but that! Prove you abide
Within their warrant, nor presumptuous boast
God's labour laid on you; prove, all you covet
A mortal may expect; and, most of all
Prove the strange course you now affect, will lead
To its attainment—and I bid you speed,
Nay, count the minutes till you venture forth!
You smile; but I had gathered from slow thought-
Much musing on the fortunes of my friend-
Matter I deemed could not be urged in vain :
But it all leaves me at my need: in shreds
And fragments I must venture what remains.
Mich. Ask at once, Festus, wherefore he should
Fest. Stay, Michal: Aureole, I speak guardedly
And gravely, knowing well, whate'er your error,
This is no ill-considered choice of yours-
No sudden fancy of an ardent boy.
Not from your own confiding words alone
Am I aware your passionate heart long since