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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Manfred.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


Scene III

The Mountains—The Castle of MANFRED at some distance—A Terrace before a Tower—Time, Twilight.

HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of MANFRED.

Her. ’Tis 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

His studies 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,

To pore upon its mysteries.

Manuel.’Twere dangerous;

Content thyself with what thou knowest already.

Her. Ah, Manuel! thou art elderly and wise,

And couldst say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle—

How many years is ’t?

Manuel.Ere Count Manfred’s birth,

I served his father, whom he nought resembles.

Her. There be more sons in like predicament.

But wherein do they differ?

Manuel.I speak not

Of features or of form, but mind and habits;

Count Sigismund was proud, but gray and free—

A warrior 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.

Her.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.

Manuel.These walls

Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen

Some strange things in them, Herman.

Her.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

On Eigher’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 seem’d to love,—

As he indeed, by blood was bound to do,

The Lady Astarte, his—

Hush! who comes here?

Enter the ABBOT

Abbot.Where is your master?

Her.Yonder in the tower.

Abbot.I must speak with him.

Manuel.’Tis impossible;

He is most private, and must not be thus

Intruded on.

Abbot.Upon myself I take

The forfeit of my fault, if fault there be—

But I must see him.

Her.Thou hast seen him once

This eve already.

Abbot.Herman! I command thee,

Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach.

Her.We dare not.

Abbot.Then it seems I must be herald

Of my own purpose.

Manuel.Reverend father, stop—

I pray you pause.

Abbot.Why so?

Manuel.But step this way,

And I will tell you further.[Exeunt.