The Mountains.-- The Castle of MANFRED at some distance.-- A Terrace before a Tower.-- Time, Twilight
HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of MANFRED.
'T is strange enough; night after night
, for years,
He hath pursued long vigils
in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,--
So have we all been oft-times; but from it
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter: I would give
The fee of what I have to come these three years 210
To pore upon its mysteries.
'T were dangerous;
Content thyself with what thou know'st already.
Ah! Manuel! thou art elderly and wise
And could'st say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle--
How many years is't?
Ere Count Manfred's birth,
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.
There be more sons in like predicament.
But wherein do they differ?
I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits;
Count Sigismund was proud, but gay and free-- 220
r and a reveller; he dwelt not
With books and solitude
, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks
And forests like a wolf
, nor turn aside
From men and their delights
Beshrew the hour,
But those were jocund
times! I would that such
Would visit the old walls again; they look
As if they had forgotten them.
Must change their chieftain
first. Oh! I have seen 230
Some strange things in them, Herman.
Come, be friendly;
Relate me some to while away our watch:
I've heard thee darkly speak of an event
Which happen'd hereabouts, by this same tower.
MANUEL. That was a night indeed!
I do remember
'T was twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening; yon red cloud, which rests
's pinnacle, so rested then,--
So like that it might be the same; the wind
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows
Began to glitter with the climbing moon.
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower,--
How occupied, we knew not, but with him
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings-- her
, whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seemed to love
As he, indeed, by blood
was bound to do,
The Lady Astarte
Hush! who comes here?
Enter the ABBOT
Where is your master?
Yonder in the tower.
ABBOT. I must speak with him
'T is impossible; 250
He is most private, and must not be thus
Upon myself I take
of my fault, if fault there be--
But I must see him.
Thou hast seen him once
This eve already.
Herman! I command thee,
Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach.
HERMAN. We dare not
Then it seems I must be herald
Of my own purpose.
MANUEL. Reverend father
I pray you pause.
But step this way,
And I will tell you
further. (Exeunt.) 260