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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about Zanoni.

“But whence came the irresistible desires of that wild and unholy knowledge?  I knew them not till thine evil eye fell upon me, and I was drawn into the magic atmosphere of thy being!”

“Thou errest!—­the desires were in thee; and, whether in one direction or the other, would have forced their way!  Man! thou askest me the enigma of thy fate and my own!  Look round all being, is there not mystery everywhere?  Can thine eye trace the ripening of the grain beneath the earth?  In the moral and the physical world alike, lie dark portents, far more wondrous than the powers thou wouldst ascribe to me!”

“Dost thou disown those powers; dost thou confess thyself an imposter?—­or wilt thou dare to tell me that thou art indeed sold to the Evil one,—­a magician whose familiar has haunted me night and day?”

“It matters not what I am,” returned Zanoni; “it matters only whether I can aid thee to exorcise thy dismal phantom, and return once more to the wholesome air of this common life.  Something, however, will I tell thee, not to vindicate myself, but the Heaven and the Nature that thy doubts malign.”

Zanoni paused a moment, and resumed with a slight smile,—­

“In thy younger days thou hast doubtless read with delight the great Christian poet, whose muse, like the morning it celebrated, came to earth, ‘crowned with flowers culled in Paradise.’ (’L’aurea testa Di rose colte in Paradiso infiora.’  Tasso, “Ger.  Lib.” iv. l.)

“No spirit was more imbued with the knightly superstitions of the time; and surely the Poet of Jerusalem hath sufficiently, to satisfy even the Inquisitor he consulted, execrated all the practitioners of the unlawful spells invoked,—­

‘Per isforzar Cocito o Flegetonte.’ (To constrain Cocytus or Phlegethon.)

“But in his sorrows and his wrongs, in the prison of his madhouse, know you not that Tasso himself found his solace, his escape, in the recognition of a holy and spiritual Theurgia,—­of a magic that could summon the Angel, or the Good Genius, not the Fiend?  And do you not remember how he, deeply versed as he was for his age, in the mysteries of the nobler Platonism, which hints at the secrets of all the starry brotherhoods, from the Chaldean to the later Rosicrucian, discriminates in his lovely verse, between the black art of Ismeno and the glorious lore of the Enchanter who counsels and guides upon their errand the champions of the Holy Land?  His, not the charms wrought by the aid of the Stygian Rebels (See this remarkable passage, which does indeed not unfaithfully represent the doctrine of the Pythagorean and the Platonist, in Tasso, cant. xiv. stanzas xli. to xlvii. ("Ger.  Lib.”) They are beautifully translated by Wiffen.), but the perception of the secret powers of the fountain and the herb,—­the Arcana of the unknown nature and the various motions of the stars.  His, the holy haunts of Lebanon and Carmel,—­beneath his feet he saw the clouds, the snows, the hues of

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