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Or elevate myself far, far above

The gorgeous spectacle. I seemed to long
At once to trample on, yet save mankind—
To make some unexampled sacrifice

In their behalf-to wring some wondrous good
From heaven or earth for them-to perish, winning
Eternal weal in the act as who should dare
| Pluck out the angry thunder from its cloud,
That, all its gathered flame discharged on him,
No storm might threaten summer's azure sleep:
"Yet never to be mixed with men so much
As to have part even in my own work-share
In my own largess. Once the feat achieved,
I would withdraw from their officious praise,
Would gently put aside their profuse thanks :
Like some knight traversing a wilderness,
Who, on his way, may chance to free a tribe
Of desert-people from their dragon-foe;
When all the swarthy race press round to kiss
His feet, and choose him for their king, and yield
Their poor tents, pitched among the sand-hills, for
His realm; and he points, smiling, to his scarf,
Heavy with riveled gold, his burgonet,
Gay set with twinkling stones-and to the east,
Where these must be displayed!


Good: let us hear

No more about your nature," which first shrank

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'From all that marked you out apart from men!"

Par. I touch on that; these words but analyse


That first mad impulse-'twas as brief as fond;
For as I gazed again upon the show,

I soon distinguished here and there a shape
Palm-wreathed and radiant, forehead and full eye.
Well pleased was I their state should thus at once
Interpret my own thoughts :-" Behold the clue
"To all," I rashly said, "and what I pine
"To do, these have accomplished: we are peers!
"They know, and therefore rule: I, too, will know! "
You were beside me, Festus, as you say;

You saw me plunge in their pursuits whom Fame
Is lavish to attest the lords of mind;

Not pausing to make sure the prize in view
Would satiate my cravings when obtained-
But since they strove I strove. Then came a slow
And strangling failure. We aspired alike,
Yet not the meanest plodder Tritheim schools
But faced me, all-sufficient, all-content,
Or staggered only at his own strong wits;
While I was restless, nothing satisfied,
Distrustful, most perplexed. I would slur over
That struggle; suffice it, that I loathed myself
As weak compared with them, yet felt somehow
A mighty power was brooding, taking shape
Within me and this lasted till one night
When, as I sate revolving it and more,

A still voice from without said-" See'st thou not, "Desponding child, whence came defeat and loss? "Even from thy strength. Consider: hast thou gazed


Presumptuously on Wisdom's countenance,

"No veil between; and can thy hands which falter

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Unguided by thy brain the mighty sight "Continues to absorb, pursue their task

"On earth like these around thee-what their sense "Which radiance ne'er distracted, clear descries? "If thou wouldst share their fortune, choose their life, "Unfed by splendour. Let each task present "Its petty good to thee. Waste not thy gifts "In profitless waiting for the gods' descent,

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'But have some idol of thine own to dress

"With their array. Know, not for knowing's sake,

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But to become a star to men for ever.

"Know, for the gain it gets, the praise it brings,
"The wonder it inspires, the love it breeds.
"Look one step onward, and secure that step."
And I smiled as one never smiles but once;
Then first discovering my own aim's extent,
Which sought to comprehend the works of God,
And God himself, and all God's intercourse
With the human mind; I understood, no less,
My fellow's studies, whose true worth I saw,
But smiled not, well aware who stood by me.
And softer came the voice-"There is a way—
""Tis hard for flesh to tread therein, imbued
"With frailty-hopeless, if indulgence first

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Have ripened inborn germs of sin to strength:
Wilt thou adventure for my sake and man's,

Apart from all reward?" And last it breathed

"Be happy, my good soldier; I am by thee,
"Be sure, even to the end!"-I answered not,
Knowing Him. As He spoke, I was endued
With comprehension and a steadfast will;

And when He ceased, my brow was sealed His own.
If there took place no special change in me,
How comes it all things wore a different hue
Thenceforward ?-pregnant with vast consequence-
Teeming with grand results-loaded with fate;
So that when quailing at the mighty range
Of secret truths which yearn for birth, I haste
To contemplate undazzled some one truth,
Its bearings and effects alone-at once
What was a speck expands into a star,
Asking a life to pass exploring thus,
Till I near craze. I go to prove my soul!
I see my way as birds their trackless way—
I shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God send his hail
Or blinding fire-balls, sleet, or stifling snow,
In some time-his good time-I shall arrive :
He guides me and the bird. In his good time!
Mich. Vex him no further, Festus; it is so!
Fest. Just thus you help me ever.
Were it the trackless air, and not a path
Inviting you, distinct with footprints yet
Of many a mighty spirit gone that way.
You may have purer views than theirs, perhaps,
But they were famous in their day-the proofs
Remain. At least accept the light they lend.

This would hold

Par. Their light! the sum of all is briefly this:
They laboured, and grew famous; and the fruits
Are best seen in a dark and groaning earth,
Given over to a blind and endless strife

With evils, which of all your Gods abates?
No; I reject and spurn them utterly,

And all they teach. Shall I still sit beside
Their dry wells, with a white lip and filmed eye,
While in the distance heaven is blue above
\Mountains where sleep the unsunned tarns?


As strong delusions have prevailed ere now :
Men have set out as gallantly to seek
Their ruin; I have heard of such-yourself

Avow all hitherto have failed and fallen.

And yet

Mich. Nay, Festus, when but as the pilgrims faint Through the drear way, do you expect to see

Their city dawn afar amid the clouds?

Par. Ay, sounds it not like some old well-known tale?

For me, I estimate their works and them

So rightly, that at times I almost dream
I too have spent a life the sages' way,

And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance
I perished in an arrogant self-reliance

An age ago; and in that act, a prayer

For one more chance went up so earnest, so Instinct with better light let in by Death, That life was blotted out-not so completely \But scattered wrecks enough of it remain,

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