XVIII. There was in him a vital scorn of all : As if the worst had fall’n which could befall, He stood a stranger in this breathing world, An erring spirit from another hurld; A thing of dark imaginings, that shaped By choice the perils he by chance escaped ; But 'scaped in vain, for in their memory yet His mind would half exult and half regret : With more capacity for love than earth Bestows on most of mortal mould and birth, His early dreams of good outstripp'd the truth, And troubled manhood follow'd baffled youth ; With thought of years in phantom chase mispent, And wasted powers for better purpose lent ; And fiery passions that had pour'd their wrath In hurried desolation o'er his path, And left the better feelings all at strife In wild reflection o’er his stormy life ; But haughty still, and loth himself to blame, He call'd on Nature's self to share the shame, And charged all faults upon the fleshly form She gave to clog the soul, and feast the worm ; Till he at last confounded good and ill, And half mistook for fate the acts of will : Too high for common selfishness, he could At times resign his own for others' good, But not in pity, not because he ought, But in some strange perversity of thought, That sway'd him onward with a secret pride To do what few or none would do beside ; And this same impulse would, in tempting time, Mislead his spirit equally to crime; So much he soar'd beyond, or sunk beneath, The men with whom he felt condemn'd to breathe, And long'd by good or ill to separate Himself from all who shared his mortal state ; His mind abhorring this had fix'd her throne Far from the world, in regions of her own : Thus coldly passing all that pass'd below, His blood in temperate seeming now would flow : Ah! happier if it ne'er with guilt had glow'd, But ever in that icy smoothness flow'd ! 'T is true, with other men their path he walkid, And like the rest in seeming did and talk'd,

Nor outraged Reason's rules by flaw nor start,
His madness was not of the head, but heart;
And rarely wander'd in his speech, or drew
His thoughts so forth as to offend the view.


nor hate

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With all that chilling mystery of mien,
And seeming gladness to remain unseen,
He had (if 't were not nature's boon) an art
Of fixing memory on another's heart :
It was not love perchance

nor aught
That words can image to express the thought;
But they who saw him did not see in vain,
And once beheld, would ask of him again :
And those to whom he spake remember'd well,
And on the words, however light, would dwell :
None knew, nor how, nor why, but he entwined
Himself perforce around the hearer's mind;
There he was stamp'd, in liking, or in hate,
If greeted once; however brief the date
That friendship, pity, or aversion knew,
Still there within the inmost thought he grew.
You could not penetrate his soul, but found,
Despite your wonder, to your own he wound;
His presence haunted still ; and from the breast
He forced an all unwilling interest :
Vain was the struggle in that mental net,
His spirit seem'd to dare you to forget!


There is a festival, where knights and dames,
And aught that wealth or lofty lineage claims,
Appear -- a highborn and a welcome guest,
To Otho's hall came Lara with the rest.

The long carousal shakes the illumined hall,
Well speeds alike the banquet and the ball ;
And the gay dance of bounding Beauty's train
Links grace and harmony

and harmony in huppiest chain :
Blest are the early hearts and gentle hands
That mingle there in well according bands ;
It is a sight the careful brow might smooth,
And make Age smile, and dream itself to youth,
And Youth forget such hour was past on earth,
So springs the exulting bosom to that mirth!


And Lara gazed on these, sedately glad,
His brow belied him if his soul was sad ;
And his glance follow'd fast each fluttering fair,
Whose steps of lightness woke no echo there :
He lean'd against the lofty pillar nigh,
With folded arms and long attentive eye,
Nor mark'd a glance so sternly fix'd on his
Ill brook'd high Lara scrutiny like this:
At length he caught it, 't is a face unknown,
But seems as searching his, and his alone;
Prying and dark, a stranger's by his mien,
Who still till now had gazed on him unseen:
At length encountering meets the mutual gaze
Of keen enquiry, and of mute amaze ;
On Lara's glance emotion gathering grew,
As if distrusting that the stranger threw ;
Along the stranger's aspect, fixʼd and stern,
Flash'd more than thence the vulgar eye could learn.


“ 'T is he!” the stranger cried, and those that heard
Re-echoed fast and far the whisper'd word.
“ 'T is he!" “ 'T is who?" they question far and near,
Till louder accents rung on Lara's ear;
So widely spread, few bosoms well could brook
The general marvel, or that single look :
But Lara stirr'd not, changed not, the surprise
That sprung at first to his arrested eyes
Seem'd now subsided, neither sunk nor raised
Glanced his eye round, though still the stranger gazed ;
And drawing nigh, exclaim’d, with haughty sneer,
“ 'T is he! — how came he thence? what doth he here?


It were too much for Lara to pass by
Such questions, so repeated fierce and high ;
With look collected, but with accent cold,
More mildly firm than petulantly bold,
He turn'd, and met the inquisitorial tone;
My name is Lara !-

when thine own is known,
Doubt not my fitting answer to requite
The unlook'd for courtesy of such a knight.
'T is Lara ! - further wouldst thou mark or ask ?
I shun no question, and I wear no mask.”

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66 Thou shunn'st no question ! Ponder — is there none
Thy heart must answer, though thine ear would shun ?
And deem'st thou me unknown too? Gaze again!
At least thy memory was not given in vain.
Oh! never canst thou cancel half her debt,
Eternity forbids thee to forget."
With slow and searching glance upon his face
Grew Lara's eyes, but nothing there could trace
They knew, or chose to know with dubious look
He deign'd no answer, but his head he shook,
And half contemptuous turn’d to pass away ;
But the stern stranger motion’d him to stay.
“ A word ! — I charge thee stay, and answer here
To one, who, wert thou noble, were thy peer,
But as thou wast and art nay, frown not, lord,
If false, 't is easy to disprove the word
But, as thou wast and art, on thee looks down,
Distrusts thy smiles, but shakes not at thy frown.
Art thou not he ? whose deeds

66 Whate'er I be, Words wild as these, accusers like to thee I list no further ; those with whom they weigh May hear the rest, nor venture to gainsay The wondrous tale no doubt thy tongue can tell, Which thus begins so courteously and well. Let Otho cherish here his polish'd guest, To him my thanks and thoughts shall be express'd." And here their wondering host hath interposed — 6 Whate'er there be between you undisclosed, This is no time nor fitting place to mar The mirthful meeting with a wordy war. If thou, Sir Ezzelin, hast aught to show Which it befits Count Lara's ear to know, To-morrow, here or elsewhere, as may best Beseem your mutual judgment, speak the rest ; I pledge myself for thee, as not unknown, Though, like Count Lara, now return'd alone From other lands, almost a stranger grown; And if from Lara's blood and gentle birth I augur right of courage and of worth, He will not that untainted line belie, Nor aught that knighthood may accord, deny."

6 To-morrow be it,” Ezzelin replied,
“ And here our several worth and truth be tried ;

life, my

I gage my

falchion to attest
My words, so may I mingle with the blest !
What answers Lara i to its centre shrunk
His soul, in deep abstraction sudden sunk;
The words of many, and the eyes of all

That there were gather'd, seem'd on him to fall;
But his were silent, his appear’d to stray
In far forgetfulness away - away —
Alas! that heedlessness of all around
Bespoke remembrance only too profound.


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“ To-morrow! - ay, to-morrow!” further word
Than those repeated none from Lara heard ;
Upon his brow no outward passion spoke ;
From his large eye no flashing anger broke ;
Yet there was something fix'd in that low tone,
Which show'd resolve, determined, though unknown.
He seized his cloak his head he slightly bow'd,
And passing Ezzelin, he left the crowd ;
And, as he pass'd him, smiling met the frown
With which that chieftain's brow would bear him down :
It was nor smile of mirth, nor struggling pride
That curbs to scorn the wrath it cannot hide ;
But that of one in his own heart secure
Of all that he would do, or could endure.
Could this mean peace ? the calmness of the good ?
Or guilt grown old in desperate hardihood?
Alas! too like in confidence are each,
For man to trust to mortal look or speech;
From deeds, and deeds alone, may he discern
Truths which it wrings the unpractised heart to learn.


And Lara call'd his page, and went his way -
Well could that stripling word or sign obey :
His only follower from those climes afar,
Where the soul glows beneath a brighter star ;
For Lara left the shore from whence he sprung,
In duty patient, and sedate though young ;
Silent as him he served, his faith appears
Above his station, and beyond his years.
Though not unknown the tongue of Lara's land,
In such from him he rarely heard command;
But fleet his step, and clear his tones would come,
When Lara's lip breathed forth the words of home :

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