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Glad, innocent spirits ; when from the same prayer. SCENE XVI.
We made the same responses, and our eyes
is seated upon straw; he is haggard and wild in Glanced from the book upon thy gentle cheek,
Death an immeasurable distance off!
Now death, stares in any face- a horrid death! Albert. I dare not speak the name, but is it thou? And heaven-oh, I am damned! I have no hope ! Cons. Oh Albert, Albert!
Cons. Say not, dear Albert, that thou hast no Albert. Canst thou speak my name?
hope! Do ye not curse me, thou and my poor mother?
Albert. I have no hope—I tell thee, I have none ! (He bous his head to his knees, and weeps it were abusing mercy to extend it billerly.
To such a wretch as I ! Cons. [kneeling beside him.] Oh God! who art a
But cry to God father to the afflicted,
For pardon, for repentance: he will hear thee! Who art a fount of mercy - look on him!
Alberl. I cannot pray — my tongue has cursed so Pity and pardon him, and give him peace.
long Oh Christ! who in thine hour of mighty woe, I have forgot the words men use in prayer! Didst comfort the poor thief upon the cross,
Cons. Dear Albert, now I fear thee - thou art Bless the bowed sinner in his prison-house !
(She rises. Albert. Thou angel of sweet mercy! woe is me!
Albert. Nay, leave me not! Oh do not, do not Sorrow hath left its trace upon thy cheek
leave me! I am a cursed spoiler, who was born
When we part here, we ne'er shall meet again To wring the hearts that loved me!-oh my mother! That great impassable gulf will lie between us ! My gracious mother! is she changed as thou ?
Cons. Oh Albert, promise me to pray to God Cons. Thy mother! ask not, Albert, of thy mother. Christ died, thou know'st, for sinners! Albert. Ah, she does not forgive me! nor will Albert.
My good angel, God!
Would that my judge were pitiful as thou ! Cons. Albert, thy mother's dead and her last
[A rattling of keys is heard outside the words
door, it opens, and the geoler enters. Were prayers for thee!
Geo. The chaplain is without, and he would pray Albert.
Then I have killed my mother! Yet once more with the prisoner.
The CHAPLAIN enters.
Cons. to Albert,
Now, now farewell! "T was by the will of God, that that dear saint
And may Almighty God look down and bless thee! Went to her blessed rest - 1 mourn her not —
Alberl. [wildly) Farewell, farewell! we shall meet I do rejoice in her eternal peace!
never more! Albert. [Looking on the hand of Constance.) I dare It is a farewell for eternity! not press it to my longing lips —
(Constance, overcome by her feelings, is There is pollution on them - they have sworn
supported out by the chaplain.
Achzib made his escape from the pirate-ship in Upon the peak of a fair, palmy isle,
some way which eluded all detection. He did not, To guide me o'er the waters! long ere this however, think it expedient to enter again the seaShe must have pined, and pined — and she will die port; and as all places were alike to him, with this Heart-broken! Constance, do not look on me
exception, he resigned himself to chance, and took For thou wilt curse me, hate me, spurn me from thee. up his abode in the first considerable city he came to. I am a monster, dost thou fear me not ?
He was so extravagantly elated with his success, Have they not told thee of my cruel sina ?
that he carried himself with so self-satisfied an air as Cons. Albert, I fear thee not - I mourn for thee. to attract the notice of every one. Some said he I knew that thou hadst sinned, but I forgave thee! was newly come into possession of a great fortune, May God forgive thee, and support that maiden! and that money, and the importance it gained for Albert. Thou art not woman, Constance, thou art him, were so novel as to have turned his head; some angel!
said he was the little-great man of a small town, Ah, there were days when we two sate together, where his consequential airs were mistaken for marks
of real greatness ;-others said he was a travelling effectually as the higher motives of more vigorous doctor, who had just taken out a new patent :-while life.” others took him for a marvellously wise philosopher, • True," replied the first speaker, “if the trial who, thinking of anything rather than himself, had came only through the medium of the passions; but acquired this ridiculous carriage in sheer absence of though a man may have arrived at old age unpolmind ;-and others again, supposed him to be a poet, luted by outward sins, yet the temper of his mind inflated with the success of a new poem.
may be the very opposite of virtue. He may doubt Achzib, in the meantime, thinking he had done the goodness of God, though his life has been one enough for the present, determined to have an inter- series of mercies; he may be obstinately uncheered val of rest. He accordingly took a large house, fur- by his love, and unawakened by his daily Provi. nished it sumptuously, and began in reality to be dence. A murmuring, morbid doubting of God's looked upon as somebody. He did not, it is true, goodness is the peculiar weakness of such a mind — hold much intercourse with the citizens, though he and the human being who can have passed through was a most munificent patron of boxers, wrestlers, life, and at last retains such a spirit, is neither guiltand all kind of prize-fighters and gamblers. He oc- less of sin, nor unassailable by temptation.” casionally went on 'Change too, and circulated now But such a case," replied the other, “is extremely and then some spurious lie or other; which, derang. rare. Old age finds a natural aliment in religion; ing all money business, while it made the fortunes and as its ties to the earth are sundered, the very of a few, was the ruin of many. He had considera necessities of its nature unite it more closely with ble dealings also with the usurers; and keeping a heaven." pack of hounds and a noble stud of horses, found oc- “Such a case," persisted his friend, “ may be rare, cupation enough both for day and night. To diver- but alas, it is not beyond the range of human experisify his employments he dabbled in judicial astrology, ence; and the peculiar prayer of such a spirit should and the favourite pursuits of the old alchemists. lle be, • lead me not into temptation !! repeatedly asserted that he had mixed the Elixir "Oh, but," exclaimed the other, with holy enthuVitæ, and also that he could compound the Philoso- siasm, “God, who is boundless and long-suffering in pher's-stone. They who heard this, had an easy way mercy, and who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, of accounting for the money that he appeared always will keep such feeble spirit from trial beyond his to have at command; but he himself well knew that strength; or in his loving-kindness will extend the every stiver was drawn from the bags of the usurer, hand of his mercy to save him, even as the sinking though never destined to find their way back again. apostle was sustained when his faith failed him upon
The life Achzib led, was much to his mind; he the waters !" told lies with the most truthful face in the world, and Achzib rose up before the conclusion of this last cheated in so gentlemanly a style, that he might per observation; taking great praise to himself that wise haps have maintained this life much longer, had he men, such as he, gathered up their advantage from not been accidentally tempted to his fourth trial. even the casual conversation of two strangers.
He was on the Prada, or place of public resort, and seeing two grave persons in deep discourse together, and who seemed unconscious of all that surrounded them, he took a seat near, hoping to hear some secret
THE OLD MAN. worth knowing or telling. Their conversation, however, was entirely of a moral or religious nature ; and
PERSONS. Achzib would soon have been weary of it, had they not branched off to the subject of temptation, and the habits of mind which render a man peculiarly assail- MARGARET, HIS DAUGHTER. able by it.
UGOLIN, THE SUITOR OF MARGARET. “ For instance," said the one, “old age, if beset by ACHZIB, A STRANGER. temptation, could but inadequately resist it, for the mind becomes enfeebled with the body. Youth may
SCENE I. be inexperienced and volatile; middle age engrossed by the world and its pursuits; but is it not the noble A small house just without the gate of the city-an enthusiasm of the one, and the severe uprightness of old and much enfecbled paralytic, sitting by his door the other which makes them often superior to their
in the sun. trials; and which of these does the weakness and Old Man. Supported by Eternal Truth, despondency of old age possess ?"
Nature is in perpetual youth; “ But,” rejoined the other," the passions have As at the first, her flowers unfold, ceased to stimulate in old age. Ambition, love, and And her fruits ripen in the sun, avarice, are the temptations of earlier life. Men do And the rich year its course doth run; not become suddenly vicious in old age, for the habits for nature never groweth old ! of mind and body in men become part and parcel of A thousand generations back themselves; and, if through life these have been Yon glorious sun looked not more bright, regulated by principle, I say not religion, they will Nor kept the moon her silent track preserve age, if it were assailed by temptation, as More truly through the realms of night!
Oh, nature never groweth old,
Tell me,- I fain would go, The Eternal arm doth her uphold!
For I am wearied with a heavy woe! She droopeth not, doth not decay;
The beautiful have left me all alone; Is beautiful as on the day
The true, the tender, from my path are gone! When the strong morning-stars poured out
Oh guide me with thy hand, Their hymn of triumph at the birth,
If thou dost know that land, Of the young, undeclining earth,
For I am burthened with oppressive care, And all the sons of God did shout
And I am weak and fearful with despair! In their immortal joy to see
Where is it? tell me where? It bound into immensity!
Thou that art kind and gentle, tell me where! But man, for whom the earth was made, A feeble worm, doth droop and fade!
Friend, thou must trust in Him who trod before Those fleecy clouds, like hills of heaven,
The desolate paths of life; To them is constant beauty given;
Must bear in meekness as he meekly bore This little flower which at my feet
Sorrow, and pain, and strife! Springs up, is beautiful and sweet
Think how the son of God A thousand years, and this poor flower
These thorny paths hath trod; Will be the same as at this hour!
Think how he longed to go, But man, who as a lord is placed
Yet tarried out for thee the appointed woe: Amid creation, what is he?
Think of his weariness in places dim, A thing whose beauty is defaced
When no man comforted nor cared for him! By age, by toil, by misery!
Think of the blood-like sweat, Wherefore that proud intelligence;
With which his brow was wet, That discontented, reasoning sense
Yet how he prayed, unaided and alone,
In that great agony, “ Thy will be done !"
Christ from his heaven of heavens will hear thy The Eternal and the Infinite ?
prayer! Wherefore this immaterial being
Old Man. My daughter, thou hast brought me Which with the body is at strise ;
back, This powerful pulse of inward life,
For I have erred; my soul is weak, Which ever feeling, hearing, seeing,
It ever leaves the righteous track, Finds nothing that can satisfy ?
Some dangerous, darker path to seek ! Better methinks, the eagle's wing,
God pardon me if I have sinned! Which bears it where its soul would spring,
But my impatient soul doth long Up to the illimitable sky!
To leave this weary flesh behind, Better the desert-creature's might,
And be once more the young, the strong! That makes its life a strong delight,
And when I see, untired, unspent, Than this unquiet bosom-guest
How nature keeps her loveliness, That fills man's being with unrest!
Like some strong life omnipotent, Time was, my life was bright as theirs;
I do abhor my feebleness ; Time was, my spirit had no cloud
And marvel whence it is man's frame, But age the buoyant frame has bowed,
That shrines a spirit strong and bold, And gloomed my soul with many cares !
Which hath a proud, immortal aim, Oh youth, how I look back to thee,
Becomes so bowed and feebly old; As to an Eden I have lost;
Why he keeps not his manhood's strength Thy beauty ever haunteth me
Maturely stately, filled with grace, As an unquiet, lovely ghost,
And rich in knowledge, till at length Which in my arms I would enfold,
He goes to his appointed place; But thou elud'st my feeble hold!
Can God delight or beauty see But hark! my daughter singeth now!
In age's dark infirmity? Sweet words are ever on her tongue,
Take, take me hence! I am grown-weary! And a glad kindness lights her brow:
Life is a prison, dark and dreary!
Oh that my soul could soar away
And drink at ever-living rills,
And cast behind this weary clay,
This life of never-ending ills!
Or if I did, I have forgot;
My senses are so feeble grown, For I would hasten there!
I know not now whom I have known!
Shall have put on its immortality!
Lord, I believe — help thou mine unbelief! Strang. Friend, I would take a seat by you awhile, Strang. Why, what an inconsistency is man! I'm weary with the travel of to-day.
This moment you were murmuring - now you take Old Man. What, are you weary with the jour- Another kind of language, altogether! neying
Old Man. I told you I was weak! I do abhor of one short day? Are you not hale and strong ? Old age, which so enfeebles and chains down Methinks you scarcely are past middle life – My spirit to this miserable matter. When I was your age, I was never weary!
But I doubt not that God is strong to save ; Strang. I do believe you, friend : I can see traces And if I keep my trust in him unbroken, Of vigour that has been; and I have heard
Hle, after death, will crown me as a star, of your herculean strength, long years ago. With an imperishable youth and glory! Old Man. Ay sir, I have been young, but now But I am weak, and age doth wake in me
A spirit of impatience which is sin ! Strang. There was no wrestler like you, no Strang. This fearful spirit of despondency strong swimmer
Which whispers “ this is sin, - and this — and this!" Could breast the billows with you ; you could run Is part of the infirmity of age ; Up to the mountain summit like the goat,
Does not the young man, vigorous in his body, Bounding from crag to crag - you followed then
Think, speak, and act without such qualms of fear? The shepherd's healthful calling, and were known You, in the free exuberance of youth Both near and far, as a bold mountaineer.
Went on rejoicing, like a creature filled Old Man. You had not knowledge of me in my With immortality of strength and beauty; youth?
But as the body, so the spirit weakens, Strang. No, but I oft have heard you spoken of, And thus becomes a feeble, timid thing! As so excelling in athletic sports,
Old Man. I know it!--I have known it all too Men made a proverb of you; afterward,
long! You served your country in its bloody wars,
Strang. Seven years you've been in this most sad And seconding your valour by your arm,
condition Did miracles of bravery.
Old Man. I have - and I was threescore years Old Man. All is over!
and ten Old age has crippled me. I am sunk down
When this infirmity first fell upon me. Into the feeble, wretched thing you see!
Strang. It is a great age, seventy years and seven; Why was I not cut down in that strong prime ? And seven years more you may remain on earth! I loathe this weary wasting, day by day
Old Man. Oh, Heaven forbid, that I for seven I am a load on others as myself!
years more Strang. Age, my good friend, is dark, dark and Should drag on this poor body!- get my life unlovely:
Is crowned with mercies still! 'Tis no new truth discovered yesterday!
How so, my friend? Old Man. I see the young men glorying in their I did suppose you had no mercies left, strength;
I thought that they and youth all went together. I see the maidens in their graceful beauty,
Old Man. I have a child, the child of my old age. And my soul dies within me at the thought
My sons went to the dust in their bright youth — That they must fade, and wither, and bow down, Daughters I had — but they too were, and are not! Like me, beneath the burthen of old age !
But God was pleased to spare unto my nge Strang. It is a gloomy lot that man is born to! This youngest born - this dutiful, dear child, God deals not kindly in afflicting thus;
Who doth so tend my miserable decay, There can be no equivalent for age;
Winning a decent livelihood by toil! Would not the monarch, stricken by the weight Strang. I've seen her, she is fair to look upon : Of fourscore years and their infirmities,
'Tis much she hath not left you for a husband ! Buy youth from the poor pensant at the price
Old Man. Oh, you know not my daughter, to Of twenty kingdoms ? Life should have been given speak thus ! Methinks, exempt from miserable decay;
Is she not dutiful ? - She hath put off Enough that we must lay it down at last. - Year after year, the day of her espousals, But you are silent, friend! Have I not struck That she might tend on my decrepitude ! Into the very current of your thoughts?
Strang. I do bethink me now — she is betrothed Old Man. I know not if such thoughts be wise To the young pastor of a mountain people; and good ;
I've heard it spoken of — I've seen him too; My flesh is weak, and doth so warp my spirit, He is a pale and melancholy man, That I have murmured thus;- but God is wise! Who reads his Bible, and makes gloomy hymns – I know that he afflicts us for our good.
Your daughter often sings them to her wheel. And this I know, that my Redeemer liveth;
Old Man. Ah, me! his crossed affection clouds And though the worm this body shall devour,
his spirit, Mine eyes shall yet behold Him when this mortal And doth impair his health, not over strong!
And thus I know that while my life endures Thou 'rt young-thou 'lt live to feel it many years I must divide two loving, tender hearts !
Sit down beside me, child! But if you heard him pouring forth his faith,
Thou hadst a guest His happy, Christian faith, in burning words, Holding long converse with thee. I was glad, And saw his cheerful life, you would not say For there is little to divert thy thoughts He was a melancholy man!
In this dull place - no horsemen pass this way; Strang. Well, well,
And since the road was cut beneath the mountain, I do not doubt the man is good and kind,
But rarely a foot-traveller. Whence came he ? And in your presence wears a happy face.
Was he some scholar travelling in these parts But I have seen him in his mountain-valley, Or came he from the city ? When the dark fit is on him, sad enough!
I scarce know; Ou Man. God help me! I have sundered them Something he said of dwelling in the city. too long !
But what, I have forgot ; my memory fails me, Strang. True, it must ever wound a generous I am a weak old man! But sing to me nature
Some comfortable hymn - I ever loved To know it is a bar to others' bliss!
Music at sunset in my better days.
Oh Lord! before thy glorious face
My human soul I will abase; And have some profitable talk with you ;
Nor pride myself because I know
The wonders of the earth and skies ! For with old age is wisdom — and instruction
When the stars set, and when they rise; With length of days ; – thus said the wise of yore.
And when the little flower doth blow, Old Man. Come you, and welcome ;-) but rarely
And seasons come and go! The face of any one, for sew prefer
Oh, how can man himself present The converse of the old — they say forsooth,
Before thee, the Omnipotent, His faculties are darkened with his years ;
The Omnipresent Deity, What boots it talking to so old a man!
And not abhor the daring pride Strang. Good night, my venerable friend, - be
Which his poor soul had magnified ;
And not shrink back, appalled to see I hold it as a privilege to talk
How far he is from thee!
Yet, Source of love, and life and light,
Thou dost regard thy creature man;
With mercies dost enrich his lot!
From the first hour his life began,
To its remotest span!
Oh God! I will not praise thee most
For that which makes man's proudest boast Alas, the thought of them brings bitter pangs
Power, grandeur, or unshackled will Across my soul !-- This man knows Ugolin,
But to thy goodness will I raise
My most triumphant song of praise,
ou Man. 'T is a sweet hymn, a comfortable Shame on myself for harbouring such a thought!
My daughter, God is good, though man is weak, MARGARET comes out.
And doubleth of his providence ! Marg. Father, the sun is sinking 'neath the boughs Marg.
He is of yonder lime - and see, the gilded dome He is a god of mercy more than judgment ! Within the city now is lighted up;
But hark! those are the sounds of eventide ; 'Tis late, my father, and the evening air
The booming of the beetle, and the cry, Will chill thy frame !–Give me thy hand, dear Shrill as a reed-pipe, of the little bat; father,
And the low city-hum, like swarming bees; And lean on me, I will support thee in..
And the small water-fall, I hear them now : ou Man. Nay, 't is not chill! these summer eves These mark the closing eve: now come within, are warm ;
I have your supper ready, and will read Let me enjoy the sun while yet I can.
To you awhile in some religious book.