Page images
PDF
EPUB

Witch.

It may be
That I can aid thee.
Man,

To do this thy power
Must wake the dead, or lay me low with them.
Do so—in any shape—in any hour-
With any torture—so it be the last.

Witch. That not in my province; but if thou
Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do
My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes.

Man. I will not swear-Obey! and whom? the spirits
Whose presence I command, and be the slave
Of those who served me-Never !
Witch.

Is this all ?
Hast thou no gentler answer ?—Yet bethink thee,
And pause ere thou rejectest.
Man.

I have said it.
Witch. Enough !I may retire then-say!
Man.

Retire !

[The Witch disappears. Man. (alone). We are the fools of time and terror: Days Steal on us and steal from us ; yet we live, Loathing our life, and dreading still to die. In all the days of this detested yokeThis vital weight upon the struggling heart, Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain, Or joy that ends in agony or faintnessIn all the days of past and future, for In life there is no present, we can number How few-how less than few-wherein the soul Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back As from a stream in winter, though the chill Be but a moment's. I have one resource Still in my science—I can call the dead, And ask them what it is we dread to be : The sternest answer can but be the Grave,

And that is nothing ;-if they answer not-
The buried Prophet answered to the Hag
Of Endor ; and the Spartan Monarch drew
From the Byzantine maid's unsleeping spirit
An answer and his destiny-he slew
That which he loved, unknowing what he slew,
And died unpardon’d—though he call'd in aid
The Phyxian Jove, and in Phigalia roused
The Arcadian Evocators to compel
The indignant shadow to depose her wrath,
Or fix her term of vengeance—she replied
In words of dubious import, but fulfillid.
If I had never lived, that which I love
Had still been living ; had I never loved,
That which I love would still be beautiful-
Happy and giving happiness. What is she?
What is she now ?-a sufferer for my sins-
A thing I dare not think upon--

--or nothing.
Within few hours I shall not call in vain-
Yet in this hour I dread the thing I dare :
Until this hour I never shrunk to gaze
On spirit, good or evil—now I tremble,
And feel a strange cold thaw upon my heart.
But I can act even what I most abhor,
And champion human fears.—The night approaches.

[Exit.

ASTARTE.

(MANFRED, Act ii. Scene 4.)

The Hall of ArimanesArimanes on his Throne,

a Giok of Fire, surrounded by the Spirits. Enter the DESTINIES and NEMESIS; then MANFRED. A Spirit,

What is here?
A mortal !—Thou most rash and fatal wretch !
Bow down and worship !
Saund Spirit.

I do know the man-
A Magian of great power, and fearful skill !
Third Spirit. Bow down and worship, slave!—What,

know'st thou not Thine and our Sovereign ?-Tremble, and obey ! All the Spirits. Prostrate thyself, and thy condemned

clay, Child of the Earth! or dread the worst. Max.

I know it; And yet ye see I kneel not. Fourth Spirit.

'Twill be taught thee. Mar, 'Tis taught already ;-many a night on the earth, On the bare ground, have I bow'd down my face, And strew'd my head with ashes; I have known The fulness of humiliation, for I sunk before my vain despair, and knelt To my own desolation.

Fifth Spirit. Dost thou dare Refuse to Arimanes on his throne

What the whole earth accords, beholding not
The terror of his Glory ?-Crouch ! I say.

Man. Bid him bow down to that which is above him,
The overruling Infinite—the Maker
Who made him not for worship-let him kneel,
And we will kneel together.
The Spirits.

Crush the worm !
Tear him in pieces !-
First Destiny.

Hence! Avaunt !--he's mine. Prince of the Powers invisible !

This man
Is of no common order, as his port
And presence here denote; his sufferings
Have been of an immortal nature, like
Our own ; his knowledge, and his powers and will,
As far as is compatible with clay,
Which clogs the ethereal essence, have been such
As clay hath seldom borne ; his aspirations
Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth,
And they have only taught him what we know-
That knowledge is not happiness, and science
But an exchange of ignorance for that
Which is another kind of ignorance.
This is not all—the passions, attributes
Of earth and heaven, from which no power, nor being,
Nor breath from the worm upwards is exempt,
Have pierced his heart; and in their consequence
Made him a thing, which I, who pity not,
Yet pardon those who pity. He is mine,
And thine, it may be—be it so, or not,
No other Spirit in this region hath
A soul like his-or power upon his soul.

Nemesis. What doth he here then ?
First Des.

Let him answer that.
Man. Ye know what I have known ; and without
I could not be amongst ye : but there are
Powers deeper still beyond—I come in quest
Of such, to answer unto what I seek.

power

Nem. What would'st thou ?
Man.

Thou canst not reply to me.
Call up the dead-my question is for them.

Nem. Great Arimanes, doth thy will avouch
The wishes of this mortal ?
Ari.

Yea.
Nem.

Whom would'st thou Uncharnel ?

Man. One without a tomb-call up Astarte.

NEMESIS.

Shadow! or Spirit !

Whatever thou art,
Which still doth inherit

The whole or a part
Of the form of thy birth,

Of the mould of thy clay,
Which return'd to the earth,

Re-appear to the day !
Bear what thou borest,

The heart and the form,
And the aspect thou worest

Redeem from the worm.
Appear !-Appear !-Appear !
Who sent thee there requires thee here !
[The Phantom of ASTARTE rises and stands in

the midst. Man. Can this be death? there's bloom upon her

cheek;

But now I see it is no living hue,
But a strange hectic-like the unnatural red

« PreviousContinue »