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Julian is an Englishman of good family; passionately attached to those philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain moral superstitions, human society may yet be susceptible. Without concealing the evil in the world, he is for ever speculating how good may be made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing out his taunts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is conjectured by his friends to posses some good qualities. How far this is possible the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious.

Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems, by his own account, to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, told at length, might be like many other stories of the same kind: the unconnected exclamations of his agony will perhaps be found a sufficient comment for the text of every heart.

The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme,

The goats with the green leaves of budding Spring,

Are saturated not—nor Love with tears.—Virgil's Gallus.

I RODE one evening with Count Maddalo
Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow
Of Adria towards Venice. A bare strand
Of hillocks heaped from ever-shifting sand,
Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds
Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds,
Is this; an uninhabited sea-side,
Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried,
Abandons. And no other object breaks
The waste, but one dwarf tree, and some few stakes
Broken and unrepaired; and the tide makes
A narrow space of level sand thereon,—
Where 'twas our wont to ride while day went down.
This ride was my delight. I love all waste
And solitary places; where we taste
The pleasure of believing what we see
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be:
And such was this wide ocean, and this shore
More barren than its billows. And, yet more
Than all, with a remembered friend I love
To ride as then I rode;—for the winds drove
The living spray along the sunny air
Into our faces; the blue heavens were bare,
Stripped to their depths by the awakening north;
And from the waves sound like delight broke forth,
Harmonizing with solitude, and sent
Into our hearts aerial merriment .

So, as we rode, we talked; and the swift thought,

Winging itself with laughter, lingered not,

Bat flew from brain to brain. Such glee was ours,

Charged with light memories of remembered hours,

None slow enough for sadness; till we came

Homeward, which always makes the spirit tame.

This day had been cheerful but cold; and now

The sun was sinking, and the wind also.

Our talk grew somewhat serious, as may be

Talk interrupted with such raillery

As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn

The thoughts it would extinguish :—'twas forlorn,

Yet pleasing; such as once, so poets tell,

Tlie devils held within the dales of hell,

Concerning God, freewill, and destiny.

Of all that Earth has been, or yet may be;

All that vain men imagine or believe,

Or hope can paint or suffering can achieve,

We descanted; and I (for ever still

Is it not wise to make the best of ill ?)

Argued against despondency; but pride

Made my companion take the darker side.

The sense that he was greater than his kind

Had struck, methinks, his eagle spirit blind

By gazing on its own exceeding light.

Meanwhile the sun paused ere it should alight

Over the horizon of the mountains. Oh I

How beautiful is sunset, when the glow

Of heaven descends upon a land like thee,

Thou paradise of exiles, Italy,

Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the towers

Of cities they encircle !—It was ours

To stand on thee, beholding it: and then,

Just where we had dismounted, the Count's men

Were waiting for us with the gondola.

As those who pause on some delightful way,

Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood

Looking upon the evening, and the flood

Which lay between the city and the shore,

Paved with the image of the sky. The hoar

And aery Alps, towards the north, appeared

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Through mist—an heaven-sustaining bulwark reared
Between the east and west; and half the sky
Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
Down the steep west into a wondrous hue
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent
Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent
Among the many-folded hills. They were
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear,
As seen from Lido through the harbour piles,
The likeness of a clump of peaked isles.
And then, as if the earth and sea had been
Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen
Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame,
Around the vaporous sun; from which there came
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made
Their very peaks transparent.

"Ere it fade,"
Said my companion, "I will show you soon
A better station."

So, o'er the lagune
We glided; and from that funereal bark
I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark
How from their many isles, in evening's gleam,
Its temples and its palaces did seem
Like fabries of enchantment piled to heaven.
I was about to speak, when—

"We are even
Now at the point I meant," said Maddalo,—
And bade the gondolieri cease to row.
"Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well
If you hear not a deep and heavy bell."

I looked, and saw between us and the sun

A building on an island, such an one

As age to age might add, for uses vile,—

A windowless, deformed, and dreary pile;

And on the top an open tower, where hung

A bell which in the radiance swayed and swung,—

We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue:

The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled

In strong and black relief.—


"What we behold Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,"— Said Maddalo; "and ever at this hour Those who may cross the water hear that bell, Which calls the maniaes, each one from his cell, To vespers."

"As much skill as need to pray In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they To their stern maker," I replied.

"Oho! You talk as in years past," said Maddalo. "'Tis strange men change not. You were ever still Among Christ's flock a perilous infidel, A wolf for the meek lambs. If you can't swim, Beware of providence!" I looked on him, But the gay smile had faded from his eye. "And such," he cried, "is our mortality! And this must be the emblem and the sign Of what should be eternal and divine; And, like that black and dreary bell, the soul, Hung in an heaven-illumined tower, must toll Our thoughts and our desires to meet below Round the rent heart, and pray—as madmen do; For what? they know not, till the night of death, As sunset that strange vision, severeth Our memory from itself, and us from all We sought, and yet were baffled."—

I recall The sense of what he said, although I mar The force of his expressions. The broad star Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill; And the black bell became invisible; And the red tower looked grey; and, all between, The churches, ships, and palaces, were seen Huddled in gloom; into the purple sea The orange hues of heaven sunk silently. We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola Conveyed me to my lodging by the way.

The following morn was rainy, cold, and dim.

Ere Maddalo arose, I called on him;

And, whilst I waited, with his child I played.

A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made;

A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being;

Graceful without design, and unforeseeing;

With eyes—oh speak not of her eyes! which seem

Twin mirrors of Italian heaven, yet gleam

With such deep meaning as we never see

But in the human countenance. With me

She was a special favourite: I had nursed

Her fine and feeble limbs when she came first

To this bleak world; and she yet seemed to know

On second sight her ancient playfellow,

Less changed than she was by six months or so.

For, after her first shyness was worn out,

We sate there, rolling billiard balls about,—

When the Count entered.

Salutations passed:
"The words you spoke last night might well have cast
A darkness on my spirit. If man be
The passive thing you say, I should not see
Much harm in the religions and old saws
(Though / may never own such leaden laws)
Which break a teachless nature to the yoke:
Mine is another faith."—Thus much I spoke,
And, noting he replied not, added—" See
This lovely child; blithe, innocent, and free:
She spends a happy time, with little care;
While we to such sick thoughts subjected are
As came on you last night. It is our will
Which thus enchains us to permitted ill.

We might be otherwise; we might be all *

We dream of, happy, high, majestical.
Where is the beauty, love, and truth, we seek,
But in our minds? And, if we were not weak,
Should we be less in deed than in desire ?"—

"Ay, //we were not weak,—and we aspire, How vainly! to be strong," said Maddalo: "You talk Utopia."

"It remains to know," I then rejoined; "and those who try may find Hmt? strong the chains are which our spirit bind: Brittle perchance as straw. We are assured


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