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Each trace wax'd fainter of his course, till all
Had nearly ceased his memory to recall.
His sire was dust, his vassals could declare,
'T was all they knew, that Lara was not there ;
Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew
Cold in the many, anxious in the few.
His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name,
His portrait darkens in its fading frame,
Another chief consoled his destined bride,
The young forgot him, and the old had died ;
“ Yet doth he live!” exclaims the impatient heir,
And sighs for sables which he must not wear.
A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace,
The Lara's last and longest dwelling-place;
But one is absent from the mouldering file,
That now were welcome in that Gothic pile.
He comes at last in sudden loneliness,
And whence they know not, why they need not guess ;
They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er,
Not that he came, but came not long before:
No train is his beyond a single page,
Of foreign aspect, and of tender age.
Years had rollid on, and fast they speed away
To those that wander as to those that stay;
But lack of tidings from another clime
Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time.
They see, they recognise, yet almost deem
The present dubious, or the past a dream.
He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime,
Though sear’d by toil, and something touch'd by time;
His faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot,
Might be untaught him by his varied lot;
Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name
Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame :
His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins
No more than pleasure from the stripling wins ;
And such, if not yet harden'd in their course,
Might be redeem'd, nor ask a long remorse.
And they indeed were changed 'tis quickly seen,
Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been :
That brow in furrow'd lines had fix'd at last,
And spake of passions, but of passion past :
The pride, but not the fire, of early days,
Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise ;
A high demeanour, and a glance that took
Their thoughts from others by a single look ;
And that sarcastic levity of tongue,
The stinging of a heart the world hath stung,
That darts in seeming playfulness around,
And makes those feel that will not own the wound;
All these seem'd his, and something more beneath
Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe.
Ambition, glory, love, the common aim,
That some can conquer, and that all would claim,
Within his breast appear'd no more to strive,
Yet seem'd as lately they had been alive ;
And some deep feeling it were vain to trace
At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face.
Not much he loved long question of the past,
Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast,
In those far lands where he had wander'd lone,
And as himself would have it seem unknowir:
Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan,
Nor glean experience from his fellow man;
But what he had beheld he shunn'd to show,
As hardly worth a stranger's care to know;
If still more prying such enquiry grew,
His brow fell darker, and his words more few.
Not unrejoiced to see him once again,
Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men ;
Born of high lineage, link'd in high command
He mingled with the Magnates of his land ;
Join'd the carousals of the great and
And saw them smile or sigh their hours away ;
But still he only saw, and did not share
The common pleasure or the general care ;
He did not follow what they all pursued
With hope still baffled still to be renew'd ;
Nor shadowy honour, nor substantial gain,
Nor beauty's preference, and the rival's pain :
Around him some mysterious circle thrown
Repellid approach, and show'd him still alone;
Upon his eye sat something of reproof,
That kept at least frivolity aloof;
And things more timid that beheld him near,
In silence gazed, or whisper'd mutual fear;
And they the wiser, friendlier few confess'd
They deem'd him better than his air express'd.
'T was strange
in youth all action and all life,
Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife ;
Woman the field the ocean
Promise of gladness, peril of a grave,
In turn he tried — he ransack'd all below,
And found his recompense in joy or woe,
No tame, trite medium ; for his feelings sought
In that intenseness an escape from thought :
The tempest of his heart in scorn had gazed
On that the feebler elements hath raised;
The rapture of his heart had look'd on high,
And ask'd if greater dwelt beyond the sky :
Chain'd to excess, the slave of each extreme,
How woke he from the wildness of that dream ?
Alas! he told not - but he did awake
To curse the wither'd heart that would not break.
Books, for his volume heretofore was Man,
With eye more curious he appear’d to scan,
And oft, in sudden mood, for many a day,
From all communion he would start away :
And then, his rarely call’d attendants said,
Through night's long hours would sound his hurried tread
O'er the dark gallery, where his fathers frown'd
In rude but antique portraiture around:
They heard, but whisper'd 66 that must not be known
The sound of words less earthly than his own.
Yes, they who chose might smile, but some had seen
They scarce knew what, but more than should have been.
Why gazed he so upon the ghastly head
Which hands profane had gather'd from the dead,
That still beside his open'd volume lay,
As if to startle all save him away?
Why slept he not when others were at rest ?
Why heard no music, and received no guest?
All was not well, they deem'd but where the wrong ?
Some knew perchance but 't were a tale too long ;
And such besides were too discreetly wise,
To more than hint their knowledge in surmise ;
But if they would — they could ” around the board,
Thus Lara's vassals prattled of their lord.
It was the night — and Lara's glassy stream
The stars are studding, each with imaged beam;
So calm, the waters scarcely seem to stray.
And yet they glide like happiness away ;
Reflecting far and fairy-like from high
The immortal lights that live along the sky :
Its banks are fringed with many a goodly tree,
And flowers the fairest that may feast the bee;
Such in her chaplet infant Dian wove,
And Innocence would offer to her love,
These deck the shore ; the waves their channel mako
In windings bright and mazy like the snake.
All was so still, so soft in earth and air,
You scarce would start to meet a spirit there;
Secure that nought of evil could delight
To walk in such a scene, on such a night!
It was a moment only for the good :
So Lara deem'd, nor longer there he stood,
But turn'd in silence to his castle-gate;
Such scene his soul no more could contemplate :
Such scene reminded him of other days,
Of skies more cloudless, moons of purer blaze,
Of nights more soft and frequent, hearts that now
no — the storm may beat
his brow, Unfelt — unsparing - but a night like this, A night of beauty, mock'd such breast as his.
He turn'd within his solitary hall,
And his high shadow shot along the wall:
There were the painted forms of other times,
'T was all they left of virtues or of crimes,
Save vague tradition; and the gloomy vaults
That hid their dust, their foibles, and their faults ;
And half a column of the pompous page,
That speeds the specious tale from age to age,
Where history's pen its praise or blame supplies,
And lies like truth, and still most truly lies.
He wandering mused, and as the moonbeam shone
Through the dim lattice o'er the floor of stone,
And the high fretted roof, and saints, that there
O'er Gothic windows knelt in pictured prayer,
Reflected in fantastic figures grew,
Like life, but not like mortal life, to view ;
His bristling locks of sable, brow of gloom,
And the wide waving of his shaken plume,
Glanced like a spectre's attributes, and gave
His aspect all that terror gives the grave.
'T was midnight — all was slumber ; the lone ligat
Dimm'd in the lamp, as loth to break the night.
Hark! there be murmurs heard in Lara's hall
a shriek a fearful call!
A long, loud shriek — and silence did they hear
That frantic echo burst the sleeping ear?
They heard and rose, and tremulously brave,
Rush where the sound invoked their aid to save ;
They come with half-lit tapers in their hands,
And snatch'd in startled haste unbelted brands.
Cold as the marble where his length was laid,
Pale as the beam that o'er his features play'd,
Was Lara stretch'd; his half drawn sabre rear,
Dropp'd it should seem in more than nature's fear;
Yet he was firm, or had been firm till now,
And still defiance knit his gather'd brow;
Though mix'd with terror, senseless as he lay,
There lived upon his lip the wish to slay ;
Some half form'd threat in utterance there had died,
Some imprecation of despairing pride ;
His eye was almost seal'd, but not forsook
Even in its trance the gladiator's look,
That oft awake his aspect could disclose,
And now was fixed in horrible repose.
They raise him - bear him ; - hush! he breathes, he
The swarthy blush recolours in his cheeks,
His lip resumes its red, his eye, though dim,
Rolls wide and wild, each slowly quivering limb
Recalls its function, but his words are strung
In terms that seem not of his native tongue ;