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As a literary curiosity, and, still more, as a lesson to genius, never to rest satisfied with imperfection or mediocrity, but to labour on till even failures are converted into triumphs, I shall here transcribe the Third Act, in its original shape, as first sent to the publisher:
ACT III.-SCENE I.
A Hall in the Castle of Manfred.
MANFRED and HERMAN.
Man. What is the hour?
It wants but one till sunset,
And promises a lovely twilight.
Are all things so disposed of in the tower
It is well:
Thou may'st retire.
Man. (alone.) There is a calm upon me-
If that I did not know philosophy
To be of all our vanities the motliest,
From out the schoolman's jargon, I should deem
But it is well to have known it, though but once:
Her. My lord, the Abbot of St. Maurice craves To greet your presence.
Enter the ABBOT OF ST. MAURICE.
Peace be with Count Manfred!
Would it were so, Count!
But I would fain confer with thee alone.
Man. Herman, retire. What would my reverend guest?
Abbot. "Tis said thou holdest converse with the things
Man. And what are they who do avouch these things?
Even thy own vassals-who do look on thee
Man. Take it.
I would not pry into thy secret soul;
But if these things be sooth, there still is time
For penitence and pity: reconcile thee
With the true church, and through the church to heaven.
I come to save, and not destroy
Man. I hear thee. This is my reply; whate'er
I may have been, or am, doth rest between
Heaven and myself.-I shall not choose a mortal
Abbot. Then, hear and tremble! For the headstrong wretch
Who in the mail of innate hardihood
Would shield himself, and battle for his sins,
There is the stake on earth, and beyond earth eternal
Man. Charity, most reverend father,
Becomes thy lips so much more than this menace,
It will be perceived that, as far as this, the original matter of the Third Act has been retained.
That I would call thee back to it; but say,
It may be there are
Things that would shake thee-but I keep them back,
And give thee till to-morrow to repent.
I understand thee,-well!
Abbot. Expect no mercy; I have warned thee.
[MANFRED opens the casket, strikes a light, and burns some incense.
The DEMON ASHTAROTH appears, singing as follows:
On the raven-stone,
And his black wing flits
O'er the milk-white bone;
To and fro, as the night-winds blow,
The fetters creak-and his ebon beak
Croaks to the close of the hollow sound;
Merrily, speeds the ball:
The dead in their shrouds, and the demons in clouds,
Abbot. I fear thee not-hence-hence
Avaunt thee, evil one!-help, ho! without there!
Man. Convey this man to the Shreckhorn-to its peak—
To its extremest peak-watch with him there
From now till sunrise; let him gaze, and know
He ne'er again will be so near to heaven.
Set him down safe in his cell-away with him!
Raven-stone (Rabenstein), a translation of the German word for the gibbet, which in Germany and Switzerland is permanent, and 'made of stone.'
Ash. Had I not better bring his brethren too,
Man. No, this will serve for the present. Take him up.
Ash. Come, friar! now an exorcism or two,
And we shall fly the lighter.
ASHTAROTH disappears with the ABBOT, singing as follows:
A prodigal son and a maid undone,
And a widow re-wedded within the year;
Man. Why would this fool break in on me, and force
After the huricane; the winds are still,
Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset:
Doth he so?
I will look on him.
[MANFRED advances to the window of the hall.
Of early nature, and the vigorous race
More beautiful than they, which did draw down
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladden'd, on their mountain tops, the hearts
* This fine soliloquy, and a great part of the subsequent scene, have, it is hardly necessary to remark, been retained in the present form of the Drama.
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief star!
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays!
The Mountains-the Castle of Manfred at some distance-A Terrace before a Tower-Time, Twilight.
HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of MANFRED.
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter; I would give
And couldst say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle
How many years is't?
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.
Ere Count Manfred's birth,
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not
With books and solitude, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time,