“Wilt thou promise?”
“By their sweet lives, I promise!”
Glyndon looked and believed. He whispered the address to the house whither his fatal step already had brought woe and doom.
“Bless thee for this,” exclaimed Zanoni, passionately, “and thou shalt be blessed! What! couldst thou not perceive that at the entrance to all the grander worlds dwell the race that intimidate and awe? Who in thy daily world ever left the old regions of Custom and Prescription, and felt not the first seizure of the shapeless and nameless Fear? Everywhere around thee where men aspire and labour, though they see it not,—in the closet of the sage, in the council of the demagogue, in the camp of the warrior,—everywhere cowers and darkens the Unutterable Horror. But there, where thou hast ventured, alone is the Phantom visible; and never will it cease to haunt, till thou canst pass to the Infinite, as the seraph; or return to the Familiar, as a child! But answer me this: when, seeking to adhere to some calm resolve of virtue, the Phantom hath stalked suddenly to thy side; when its voice hath whispered thee despair; when its ghastly eyes would scare thee back to those scenes of earthly craft or riotous excitement from which, as it leaves thee to worse foes to the soul, its presence is ever absent,—hast thou never bravely resisted the spectre and thine own horror; hast thou never said, ‘Come what may, to Virtue I will cling?’”
“Alas!” answered Glyndon, “only of late have I dared to do so.”
“And thou hast felt then that the Phantom grew more dim and its power more faint?”
“It is true.”
“Rejoice, then!—thou hast overcome the true terror and mystery of the ordeal. Resolve is the first success. Rejoice, for the exorcism is sure! Thou art not of those who, denying a life to come, are the victims of the Inexorable Horror. Oh, when shall men learn, at last, that if the Great Religion inculcates so rigidly the necessity of faith, it is not alone that faith leads to the world to be; but that without faith there is no excellence in this,—faith in something wiser, happier, diviner, than we see on earth!—the artist calls it the Ideal,—the priest, Faith. The Ideal and Faith are one and the same. Return, O wanderer, return! Feel what beauty and holiness dwell in the Customary and the Old. Back to thy gateway glide, thou Horror! and calm, on the childlike heart, smile again, O azure Heaven, with thy night and thy morning star but as one, though under its double name of Memory and Hope!”