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account for a chastisement, real alas ! in its severity, no less than in its cause unfathomable.
XXVI It was, the conviction could not be repressed, a loss which in the deepest sense I must acknowledge the ruin of life. But with what strength was possible, I must go forth, (and, arguing thus with myself and withdrawn into the darkness of thought, I looked up and saw with wonder that strange wild landscape, as if Dawn had instantaneously descended in all her plenitude, spread before me in opalescent distinctness)--go forth and bear it manfully. Whether to call the mind's attitude patience, whether resignation, whether idiotic and exhausted despair I knew not, and it concerned me little ; whence the blow had fallen, I would enquire no more, or wage a fruitless contest with the unseen Power, that Nature, (to use the least presumptuous language, whose dealings with her creatures raise our eternal questionings, and baffle them. She also, like some mortal parent, may own to favourite children ; but she compensates, it would appear, elsewhere for that partiality. Indifferent to reproach or to gratitude, what she seems to require from Man is summed up in one narrow word-Acquiescence. To this, every system, when cleared of the tints in which it clothes the world by the crystal lens of truth, Stoic or Epicurean, free or fatalist, Sceptical or Christian, gild it with epithets as we choose, is resolved at last :- Acquiescence. The drift of the · Maker is dark ', events take their course ; evil deepens upon evil, or experience may work a cure, and Time enforce consolation. Man must yield : All at last is Acquiescence.
But however these things might be, fully if not gladly I would accept them henceforth as mysteries ; matters whose cause was concealed, and their issue beyond foresight. I would go forth hoping nothing, fearing
nothing, asking nothing. Submissive without the mockery of pretended resignation to that exquisite anguish, my own Désirée another's- I would take up at least, and if so it might be, bear through the set ways of common life, the mysterious burden of patience without fruit, and the pangs of remorse without guiltiness. And she ....0, at thought of Désirée, there was no space left for prayer or oath, for regret or renunciation, vows to love her still, or to forget her— It could not be otherwise ; aeterno devictus
; vulnere: here was my Fate before me. Vivi adunque, I cried in the words of the passionate Fiammetta : nullo ti puo di questo privare. Years have passed since, and it has been so.
XXVII But meanwhile morning had fully come; I could say already, yesterday I was ignorant of the worst ; yesterday I could hope yet... The rising sun shot prismatic rays, keen arrows, over the serrated Eastern summits; a few hours, and I must be in the world again, within the great city which held Désirée and her fortunes. I looked around, and saw the loftiest peaks and loose rocks scattered against the sky-line accented in the white radiance of dawn into steely clearness : above, the “boat of
Seléné', as Heracleitus named her, like a white keel filled with blue transparent aether, sailing into inscrutable space. I climbed onwards and beyond the voice of the torrent: a great calm was spread on the higher rocks ; a silence as if the Day were collecting its strength for coming conflict. Then a long rampart of distant summits rose into sight, so exquisitely delicate in pearly grey that the white vapour moving in scattered clouds above their serration by contrast appeared earthly and material, whilst the pure sky itself beyond seemed to soften its own hues in reverent and loving rivalry to match the mountain tenderness.
O! swerving for a moment from the fixed decision not
to shrink from the conflict of life or fail before unmanly sorrow, that I were free of these solitudes—that I might live still in society of that one Power which cannot' betray
the heart that loves her'— that I might breathe henceforward this luminous and aethereal air, this “crystal silence', pure of the thick stormy fermentation which frets the atmosphere of man, stirred always by the uproar of action, the shouts of pretentious pleasure, the murmurs of hatred, the ceaseless sighs of the oppressed and the afflicted! Here Nature might bless me also, as she blessed her devoted Wordsworth, with lofty thoughts, with impressions of quietness and beauty; here, if from a Fate beyond even her control, unable to lead me from joy to 'joy', she might be privileged at least to satisfy the * longing for confirmed tranquillity'.... A dark point ap• peared whilst I thought thus, far within the valley below ; in a moment it was an eagle ; He swept above my head, questing for booty; but at the sight of man, curved away into the invisible chambers of the highest heaven with a loud and ominous cry. The mountain echoes took up
the hard iron yelp with seven separate repetitions. Then all
things returned into absolute calm, as if sound itself had ceased to be'; as if the world had passed into miraculous and universal silence. I felt ashamed when the noise of my own footsteps, carrying me back towards the storm and struggle of life, broke in upon a repose so profound and so pathetic.
THE PASSIONATE PILGRIM.
I So I returned to the great city, anxious indeed to avoid any tidings of Désirée, yet ever and again compelled to a sad smile of self-derision, as I found myself endeavouring to gain opportunities of at least hearing her name spoken. But in that endeavour, by mere chance, by the vast number of separate currents of intelligence in London, by the half-conscious forbearance of friends, (I know not which was the cause), I was long unsuccessful. And presently he who imagined that Fate, during the seven years, (for over so long a period has the narrative borne me), had tried him with her worst wormwood, learned now that fresh forms of pain, spectres of more distracting terror, severer tests of endurance, awaited him in this life-long descent through the circles of sadness. Fearful as are, in so many ways, the powers of that mighty engine, I know no trial more terror-striking than this result of vital sorrow, (already noticed) that the balance of the mind appears to fluctuate beneath its continued agency. I do not speak here of the fever and distraction attendant on a first sense of catastrophe ; such effects are in their own nature transient ; — but there is a certain crisis in which, whilst the sad sobriety of reason remains unim
paired, passion, prolonged against circumstance, and at war with Fate, almost passes into disease, and changeful Nature revenges
herself on Fidelity. As colours grow confused to an overstrained eye, so by constancy of desire, too long and too longing, we lose the moral discernment between fact and fancy ;- until things the most sadly certain become incredible to 6an esperance so obstinately strong' that it has become part of the discerning faculty itself, inwoven into the texture of our reason. That I should, for so I supposed it must be, see Désirée no more : that those accents, the familiar music of life from childhood, would never be heard by me again : that the “ so long desired "hand' had clasped another's :--- whilst believing, I could scarcely comprehend it. As with Death and Hell, I might use the words ; but the shock with which they closed in upon the mind seemed to deaden it to the reception of their terrible significance. I refused the society of friends at first; but it was to discover that solitude was thronged with importunate phantoms and the face I should never see again. To shun her sight, and perpetually seek it: to think only of her, yet not bear to think of her : to dread the wakefulness of the night, because haunted by the image of Désirée, the distraction of the day, because this effaced it by fruitless and unconsoling activity: to find that whilst retaining unimpaired the intellectual capacity to enter into imaginative thought and science, philosophy brought no diversion, and Wordsworth no relief, covery which seemed to destroy the last possibility of bearing the weight of the mortal hours :—such were amongst the paradoxes of pain, the choice favours and lessons of adversity. II These experiences were from within.
But returning gradually to the common ways of life, from the routine of business, from the routine of pleasure, from