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With none to check, and few to point in time
The thousand paths that slope the way to crime ;
Then, when he most required commandment, then
Had Lara's daring boyhood govern’d men.
It skills not, boots not step by step to trace
His youth through all the mazes of its race;
Short was the course his restlessness had run,
But long enough to leave him half undone.
And Lara left in youth his father-land ;
But from the hour he waved his parting hand
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,
'Twas 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 Laras' 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 seard 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 dem
nour, 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 aim,
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 lightend o'er his livid fáce.
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-unknown:
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 inquiry 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 gay,
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
Repell’d approach, and show'd him still alone;
Upon his eye sate 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 confest
They deem'd him better than his air exprest.
'Twas strange in youth all action and all life,
Burning for pleasure, not averse from strife ;
Woman—the field—the ocean all that gave
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—“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 opend volume lay, " As if to startle all save him away? “ Why slept he not when others were at rest? 46 Why heard no music, and received no guest? “ All was not well, they deem'd—but where the wrong? “ Some knew perchance--but 'twere 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 ;