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Scene. — Wiir-zburg ; a garden in the
environs. i 5 1 2

Festus, Paracelsus, Michal

Paracelsus. Come close to me, dear friends ; Para-
still closer ; thus ! celsus
Close to the heart which, though long time ,^ ^^ .

roll by hisfrien

Ere it again beat quicker, pressed to yours,
As now it beats — perchance a long, long time —
At least henceforth your memories shall make
Quiet and fragrant as befits their home.
Nor shall my memory want a home in yours —
Alas, that it requires too well such free
I'orgiving love as shall embalm it there !
I' or if you would remember me aright, 10

As I was born to be, you must forget
'\ll fitful, strange and moody waywardness
Which e'er confused my better s])irit, to dwell
Only on moments such as these, dear friends I


He dis My heart no truer, but my words and ways

courses More true to it : as Michal, some months

, ° hence,

au umn ^.^^ ^_^^^ ^ ^j^.^ autumn was a pleasant time,'

For some few sunny days ; and overlook
Its bleak wind, hankering after pining leaves.
Autumn would fain be sunny ; I would look 20
Liker my nature's truth : and both are frail,
And both beloved, for all our frailty.

Michal. Aureole !

Paracelsus. Drop by drop! she is weeping

like a child !
Not so ! I am content — more than content ;
Nay, autumn wins you best by this its mute
Appeal to sympathy for its decay :
Look up, sweet Michal, nor esteem the less
Your stained and drooping vines their grapes

bow down.
Nor blame those creaking trees bent with their

That apple-tree with a ^X^nfter-birth 30

Of peeping blooms sprinkled its wealth among !
Then for the winds — what wind that ever raved
Shall vex that ash which overlooks you both.
So proud it wears its berries ? Ah, at length,
The old smile meet for her, the lady of this
Sequestered nest! — this kingdom, limited
Alone by one old populous green wall
Tenanted by the ever-busy flies.
Grey crickets and shy lizards and quick spiders,
Each family of the silver-threaded moss — 40
Which, look through near, this way, and it

A stubble-field or a cane-brake, a marsh


Of bulrush whitening in the sun : laugh now ! He
Fancy the crickets, each one in his house, pictures

Looking out, wondering at the world — or best, f^-|.^
Yon painted snail with his gay shell of dew, friends
Travelling to see the glossy balls high up during his

Hung by the caterpillar, like gold lamps. absence

Michal. In truth we have lived carelessly

and well.
Paracelsus. And shall, my perfect pair! —

each, trust me, born 50

For the other ; nay, your very hair, when

Is of one hue. For where save in this nook
Shall you two walk, when I am far away.
And wish me prosperous fortune ? Stay : that

Shall never wave its tangles lightly and softly.
As a queen's languid and imperial arm
Which scatters crowns among her lovers, but you
Shall be reminded to predict to me
Some great success ! Ah, see, the sun sinks

Behind Saint Saviour's: wholly gone, at last! Tjo
Fcslus. Now, Aureole, stay those wandering

eyes awhile !
You arc ours to-night, at least ; and while you

Of Michal and her tears, I thought that none
Could willing leave what he so seemed to love :
But that last look destroys my dream — that look
As if, where'er you ga/cd, there stood a star !
How far was Wiirzburg with its church and spire
And garden-walls and all things they contain,
From that look's far alighting ?


and Paracelsus. I but spoke

strives to And looked alike from simple joy to see 70

'^^^th"'^^ The beings I love best, shut in so well

From all rude chances like to be my lot,
That, when afar, my weary spirit, — disposed
To lose awhile its care in soothing thoughts
Of them, their pleasant features, looks and

words, —
Needs never hesitate, nor apprehend
Encroaching trouble may have reached them too,
Nor have recourse to fancy's busy aid
And fashion even a wish in their behalf
Beyond what they possess already here ; 80

But, unobstructed, may at once forget
Itself in them, assured how well they fare.
Beside, this Festus knows he holds me one
Whom quiet and its charms arrest in vain.
One scarce aware of all the joys I quit,
Too filled with airy hopes to make account
Of soft delights his own heart garners up :
Whereas behold how much our sense of all
That 's beauteous proves alike ! When I'^stus

That every common pleasure of the world 90
Affects me as himself; that I have just
As varied appetite for joy derived
From common things ; a stake in life, in short.
Like his ; a stake which rash pursuit of aims
That life affords not, would as soon destroy ; —
He may convince himself that, this in view,
I shall act well advised. And last, because,
Though heaven and earth and all things were

at stake.
Sweet Michal must not weep, our parting eve.


Festus. True : and the eve is deepening, and Festus

^' ^' . '"^ Se"s

As little anxious to begin our talk ^j^j^ ^^^^

As though to-morrow 1 could hint of it

As we paced arm-in-arm the cheerful town

At sun-dawn ; or could whisper it by fits

(Trithemius busied with his class the while)

In that dim chamber where the noon-streaks peer

Half-frightened by the awful tomes around ;

Or in some grassy lane unbosom all

From even-blush to midnight : but, to-morrow !

Have I full leave to tell my inmost mind ? no

We have been brothers, and henceforth the world

Will rise between us : — all my freest mind ?

'Tis the last night, dear Aureole !

Paracelsus. Oh, say on !

Devise some test of love, some arduous feat
To be performed for you : say on ! If night
Be spent the while, the better ! Recall how oft
My wondrous plans and dreams and hopes and

Have — never wearied you, oh no! — as I
Recall, and never vividly as now.
Your true affection, born when liinsiedeln 120
And its green hills were all the world to us ;
And still increasing to this night which ends
My further stay at Wijrzburg. Oh, one day
You shall be very proud ! Say on, dear friends !

Festus. In truth ? 'Tis for my proper peace,
Rather than yours; for vain all jjrojects seem
To stay your course : I said my latest hope
Is fading even now, A story tells
Of some far embassy despatched to win


Para- The favour of an eastern king, and how 130
celsus 'X'he gifts they offered proved but dazzling dust
protests j.j^^^ ^^^^^ j.j^^^ ore-beds native to his clime.

Just so, the value of repose and love,
I meant should tempt you, better far than I
You seem to comprehend ; and yet desist
No whit from projects where repose nor love
Has part.

Paracelsus. Once more ? Alas ! As I fore-

Festus. A solitary briar the bank puts forth
To save our swan's nest floating out to sea.

Paracelsus. Dear Festus, hear me. What is
it you wish ? 140

That I should lay aside my heart's pursuit.
Abandon the sole ends for which I live,
Reject God's great commission, and so die !
You bid me listen for your true love's sake :
Yet how has grown that love ? Even in a long
And patient cherishing of the self-same spirit
It now would quell ; as though a mother hoped
To stay the lusty manhood of the child
Once weak upon her knees. I was not born
Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank
From aught which marked me out apart from
men : 151

I would have lived their life, and died their death,
Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny :
But you first guided me through doubt and fear.
Taught me to know mankind and know myself:
And now that I am strong and full of hope.
That, from my soul, I can reject all aims
Save those your earnest words made plain to me,
Now that I touch the brink of my design.


When I would have a triumph in their eyes, i6o He chides
A glad cheer in their voices — Michal weeps, the
And Festus ponders gravely ! ^f Festus

Festtis. When you deign

To hear my purpose . . .

Paracelsus. Hear it ? I can say

Beforehand all this evening's conference 1
'Tis this way, Michal, that he uses : first,
Or he declares, or I, the leading points
Of our best scheme of life, what is man's end
And what God's will ; no two faiths e'er agreed
As his with mine. Next, each of us allows
Faith should be acted on as best we may ; 170
Accordingly, I venture to submit
My plan, in lack of better, for pursuing
The path which God's will seems to authorise.
Well, he discerns much good in it, avows
This motive worthy, that hope plausible,
A danger here to be avoided, there
An oversight to be repaired : in fine
Our two minds go together — all the good
Approved by him, I gladly recognise,
All he counts bad, I thankfully discard, 180
And naught forbids my looking up at last
I'or some stray comfort in his cautious brow.
Wiicn, lo ! I learn that, spite of all, there lurks
Some innate and inex])licable germ
Of failure in my scheme ; so that at last
It all amounts to this — the sovereign jiroof
That we devote ourselves to God, is seen
In living just as though no God there were ;
A life which, ])rompted by the sad and lilinl
I'" oily of man, Festus abhors the most; 100

liut which these tenets sanctify at once,


Festus Though to less subtle wits it seems the same,
persists Consider it how they may.

in his Mkhal. Is it so, Festus ?

"" ^ He speaks so calmly and kindly : is it so ?

Paracelsus. Reject those glorious visions of
God's love
And man's design ; laugh loud that God should

Vast longings to direct us ; say how soon
Power satiates these, or lust, or gold ; I know
The world's cry well, and how to answer it.
But this ambiguous warfare . . .

Festus. . . . Wearies so 200

That you will grant no last leave to your friend
To urge it ? — for his sake, not yours ? I wish
To send my soul in good hopes after you ;
Never to sorrow that uncertain words
Erringly apprehended, a new creed
111 understood, begot rash trust in you,
Had share in your undoing.

Paracelsus. Choose your side.

Hold or renounce : but meanwhile blame me not
Because I dare to act on your own views.
Nor shrink when they point onward, nor espy 210
A peril where they most ensure success.

Festus. Prove that to me — but that ! Prove
you abide
Within their warrant, nor presumptuous boast
God's labour laid on you ; prove, all you covet
A mortal may expect ; and, most of all,
Prove the strange course you now affect, will

To its attainment — and I bid you speed,
Nay, count the minutes till you venture forth !


You smile ; but I had gathered from slow He

thought— If^f^

Much musing on the fortunes of my friend — 220 ^ J
Matter I deemed could not be urged in vain ;
But it all leaves me at my need : in shreds
And fragments I must venture what remains.
Michcil. Ask at once, Festus, wherefore he

should scorn , . .
Festus. Stay, Michal : Aureole, I speak
And gravely, knowing well, whate'er your error.
This is no ill-considered choice of yours,
No sudden fancy of an ardent boy.
Not from your own confiding words alone
Am I aware your passionate heart long since 230
Gave birth to, nourished and at length matures
This scheme. 1 will not speak of Liinsiedeln,
Where I was born your elder by some years
Only to watch you fully from the first :
In all beside, our mutual tasks were fixed
Even then — 'twas mine to have you in my view
As you had your own soul and those intents
Which filled it when, to crown your dearest wish,
With a tumultuous heart, you left with me 239
Our childhood's home to join the favoured few
Whom, here, Trithemius condescends to teach
A portion of his lore : and not one youth
Of those so favoured, whom you now despise,
Came earnest as you came, resolved, like you.
To grasp all, and retain all, and deserve
15y patient toil a wide renown like his.
Now, this new ardour which sup])lant8 the old
I watched, too ; 'twas significant and strange,
In one matched to his soul's content at length


traces With rivals in the search for wisdom's prize, 250
the To see the sudden pause, the total change ;
growing p^yni contest, the transition to repose —
of Para- 1" '"O"^ pressing onward as his fellows pressed,
celsus To a blank idleness, yet most unlike
The dull stagnation of a soul, content.
Once foiled, to leave betimes a thriveless quest.
That careless bearing, free from all pretence
Even of contempt for what it ceased to seek —
Smiling humility, praising much, yet waiving
What it professed to praise — though not so well
Maintained but that rare outbreaks, fierce and
brief, 261

Revealed the hidden scorn, as quickly curbed — ;
That ostentatious show of past defeat.
That ready acquiescence in contempt,
I deemed no other than the letting go
His shivered sword, of one about to spring
Upon his foe's throat ; but it was not thus :
Not that way looked your brooding purpose then.
For after-signs disclosed, what you confirmed,
That you prepared to task to the uttermost 270
Your strength, in furtherance of a certain aim
Which — while it bore the name your rivals gave
Their own most puny efforts — was so vast
In scoi)e that it included their best flights,
Combined them, and desired to gain one prize
In place of many, — the secret of the world.
Of man, and man's true purpose, path and fate.
— That you, not nursing as a mere vague dream
This purpose, with the sages of the past.
Have struck upon a way to this, if all 280

You trust be true, which following, heart and


You, if a man may, dare aspire to know : and de-

And that this aim shall differ from a host signates

Of aims alike in character and kind,
Mostly in this, — that in itself alone
Shall its reward be, not an alien end
Blending therewith ; no hope nor fear nor joy
Nor woe, to elsewhere move you, but this pure
Devotion to sustain you or betray :
Thus you aspire.

Paracelsus. You shall not state it thus : 290
I should not differ from the dreamy crew
You speak of. I profess no other share
In the selection of my lot, than this
My ready answer to the will of God
Who summons me to be his organ. All
Whose innate strength supports them shall

No better than the sages.

Festus. Such the aim, then,

God sets before you ; and 'tis doubtless need
That he appoint no less the way of praise
Than the desire to praise ; for, though I liold 300
With you, the setting forth such ])raisc to be
The natural end and service of a man,
And hold such ])raise is best attained when man
Attains the general welfare of his kind —
Yet this, the end, is not the instrument.
Presume not to serve God apart from such
Appointed channel as he wills shall gather
Tmjierfect tributes, for that sole oiiedicncc
Valued perchance ! He seeks not that his altars
Blaze, careless how, so that they do but blaze. 310
Su|)pose this, then ; that God selected you
To KNOW (heed well your answers, for my faith


but Shall meet implicitly what they affirm)
questions I cannot think you dare annex to such
his smgle- Selection auuht beyond a steadfast will,
_„rnncp An intense hoi)e ; nor let your gifts create
Scorn or neglect of ordinary means
Conducive to success, make destiny
Dispense with man's endeavour. Now, dare

you search
Your inmost heart, and candidly avow 320

Whether you have not rather wild desire
For this distinction than security
Of its existence ? whether you discern
The path to the fulfilment of your purpose
Clear as that jiurpose — and again, that purpose
Clear as your yearning to be singled out
For its pursuer. Dare you answer this ?

Paracelsus \_after a pause~\. No, I have

nought to fear ! Who will may know
The secret'st workings of my soul. What

It be so ? — if Indeed the strong desire 330

Eclipse the aim in me ? — if splendour break
Upon the outset of my path alone.
And duskest shade succeed ? What fairer seal
Shall 1 require to my authentic mission
Than this fierce energy ? — this instinct striving
Because its nature is to strive ? — enticed
By the security of no broad course,
Without success forever in its eyes !
How know I else such glorious fate my own,
But in the restless irresistible force 34"

That works within me ? Is it for human will
To institute such impulses ? — still less,
To disregard their promj)tings ! What should I


Do, kept among you all ; your loves, your cares, Para-

Your life— all to be mine ? Be sure that God ^^^^

Ne'er dooms to waste the strength he deigns j^-^

impart ! mission

Ask the geier-eagle why she stoops at once

Into the vast and unexplored abyss,

What full-grown power informs her from the

Why she not marvels, strenuously beating 350

The silent boundless regions of the sky !

Be sure they sleep not whom God needs ! Nor

Their holding light his charge, when every hour

That finds that charge delayed, is a new death.

This for the faith in which I trust ; and hence
I can abjure so well the idle arts

These pedants strive to learn and teach ; Black

Great Works, the Secret and Sublime, forsooth —
Let others prize : too intimate a tie
Connects me with our God ! A sullen fiend 360
To do my bidding, fallen and hateful sprites
To help me — what arc these, at best, beside
God helping, God directing everywhere,
So that the earth shall yield her secrets up,
And every object there be charged to strike,
Teach, gratify iicr master God appoints ?
And I am young, my Festus, happy and free !
I can devote myself; I have a life
To give ; I, singled out for this, the One !
Think, think! the wide i'.ast, where all Wisdom
sprung ; 37°

The bright South, where she dwelt ; the hope-
ful North,


Festus All are passed o'er — it lights on me ! 'I'is
questions ^\^^^^Q

j.^^j New hopes should animate the world, new light
method ,,, ,,',,- i- .

Should dawn from new reveahngs to a race

Weighed down so long, forgotten so long ; thus


The heaven reserved for us at last receive

Creatures whom no unwonted splendours blind,

But ardent to confront the unclouded blaze

Whose beams not seldom blessed their pilgrimage,

Not seldom glorified their Hfe below. 380

Festus. My words have their old fate and

make faint stand

Against your glowing periods. Call this, truth —

Why not pursue it in a fast retreat,

Some one of Learning's many palaces.

After approved example ? — seeking there

Calm converse with the great dead, soul to soul,

Who laid up treasure with the like intent

— So lift yourself into their airy place.

And fill out full their unfulfilled careers.

Unravelling the knots their baffled skill 390

Pronounced inextricable, true ! — but left

Far less confused. A fresh eye, a fresh hand.

Might do much at their vigour's waning-point ;

Succeeding with new-breathed new-hearted


As at old games the runner snatched the torch

From runner still : this way success might be.

But you have coupled with your enterprise,

An arbitrary self-repugnant scheme

Of seeking it in strange and untried paths.

What books are in the desert ? Writes the sea

The secret of her yearning in vast caves 401


Where yours will fall the first of human feet ? and

Has wisdom sat there and recorded aught reproves

You jiress to read ? Why turn aside from her j-gigctjon

To visit, where her vesture never glanced, of the

Now — solitudes consigned to barrenness wisdom

By God's decree, which who shall dare impugn ? of the

Now — ruins where she paused but would not stay, P^^'

Old ravished cities that, renouncing her,

She called an endless curse on, so it came : 410

Or worst of all, now — men you visit, men,

Ignoblest troops who never heard her voice

Or hate it, men without one gift from Rome

Or Athens, — these shall Aureole's teachers be !

Rejecting past example, practice, precept.

Aidless 'mid these he thinks to stand alone :

Thick like a glory round the Stagirite

Your rivals throng, the sages : here stand you !

Whatever you may protest, knowledge is not

Paramount in your love ; or for her sake 420

You would collect all help from every source —

Rival, assistant, friend, foe, all would merge

In the broad class of those who showed her

And those who showed tliem not.

Paracelsus. What shall 1 say ?

Festus, from childhood I have been ])Ossessed
By a fire — by a true fire, or faint or fierce.
As from without some master, so it seemed,
Repressed or urged its current : this but ill
I'lxprcKses what would I convey: but rather
1 will believe an angel ruled me thus, 430

Than that my soul's own workings, own high

So became manifest. I knew not then



Para- What whispered in the evening, and spoke out
celsus At midnight. If some mortal, born too soon,
^. ^.° Were laid away in some great trance — the ages
timations Coming and going all the while — till dawned
of a great His true time's advent; and could then record
destiny The words they spoke who kept watch by his
Then I might tell more of the breath so light
Upon my eyelids, and the fingers light 440

Among my liair. Youth is confused ; yet never
So dull was I but, when that spirit passed,
I turned to him, scarce consciously, as turns
A water-snake when fairies cross his sleep.
And having this within me and about me
While Einsiedeln, its mountains, lakes and woods
Confined me — what oppressive joy was mine
When life grew plain, and I first viewed the,

The everlasting concourse of mankind !
Believe that ere I joined them, ere 1 knew 450
The purpose of the pageant, or the place
Consigned me in its ranks — while, just awake.
Wonder was freshest and delight most pure — .
'Twas then that least supportable appeared
A station with the brightest of the crowd,
A portion with the proudest of them all.
And from the tumult in my breast, this only
Could I collect, that I must thenceforth die
Or elevate myself far, far above
The gorgeous spectacle. I seemed to long 460
At once to trample on, yet save mankind,
To make some unexampled sacrifice
In their behalf, to wring some wondrous good
From heaven or earth for them, to perish, winning


Eternal weal in the act : as who should dare Describes
Pluck out the angry thunder from its cloud, his early
That, all its gathered flame discharged on him, ^f^^^
No storm might threaten summer's azure sleep :
Yet never to be mixed with men so much
As to have part even in my own work, share 470
In my own largess. Once the feat achieved,
I would withdraw from their oflScious praise,
Would gently put aside their profuse thanks.
Like some knight traversing a wilderness,
Who, on his way, may chance to free a tribe
Of desert-people from their dragon-foe ;
When all the swarthy race press round to kiss
His feet, and choose him for their king, and yield
Their poor tents, pitched among the sand-
hills, for 479
His realm : and he points, smiling, to his scarf
Heavy with riveled gold, his burgonet
Gay set with twinkling stones — and to the East,
Where these must be displayed !

Fettus. Good : let us hear

No more about your nature, ' which first shrank
From all that marked you out apart from men ! '
Paracelsus. I touch on that ; tiicse words but
The first mad impulse : 'twas as brief as fond,
l""or as I gazed again upon the show,
I soon distinguished here and there a shape
Palm-wreathed and radiant, forehead and full

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