Scene I—A Study. Books, pictures, and sculpture about the room, interspersed with chemical and other instruments, globes, &c.; a singular blending of science with art, indicating a delicate and speculative organization in the arranger.
Oran, Maurice, and Roger.
Well, well! and so ye deem I love her not,
Ye and the world that love so passing well?—
That still I trifle with her bright young life,
As the wind plays with some frail water-bell,
Wafting it wantonly about the sky,
Till at some harsher breath it breaks and dies?
Nay, not thus far would our reflections go.
Friendship paints not with the foul brush of Conscience!
But thou, a man of dark and mystic aims,
Tracking out Science through forbidden ways,
Leaving the light and trodden paths to grope
’Mid fearful speculations and wild dreams,
May’st hunt thy Will-o’-the-wisp until thou lead’st
Our sister, all unwitting, to her death.
That shalt thou answer unto us. Thy life
Shall be to her life like the sun and shade,
Lost in one setting.
Ay! thou sayest well—
Thou sayest well. How oft a random shaft
Striketh King Truth betwixt the armour-joints!—
One life, one sun, one setting for us both.
Which way, then, tend your fears? What certain
Have all these strokes you level at my ways?
We say that you, against all light received,
Against all laws of prudence and of love,
Practise dark magic on our sister’s soul—
That by strange motions, incantations, spells,
So work you on her spirit that strange sleep,
Sombre as Death’s dark shadow, presently
Steals o’er her fragile body, dulls her sense,
And wraps her wholly in its chill embrace;
That thus, spell-bound, lost to the living world,
She lies till thou again unwind her chain,
And wak’st her feebly to this life of earth.
Thus dost thou peril her, thou blinded man!
Sett’st her dear life against thy moonstruck thought,
And slay’st thy dove on Folly’s altar-steps.
Ay! if you loved her, would your eyes have miss’d
The moonish faintness that o’erlaps her now,
Melting the fresh, full, ruddy glow of health
To loveliness most heavenly, yet most sad?
Her cheeks, where youth once summer’d into roses,
Glow now with faint exotic loveliness,
Not native to this harsh and gusty earth;
And from her large dark eyes there seems to gaze
Some angel with mute, melancholy looks,
As from a casement at this jarring world.