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Can you renounce a fortune so sublime, Such glorious hopes, your backward steps to steer, And roll, with vilest brutes, thro' mud and slime? No! no!-Your heaven-touch'd heart disdains the sordid crime!"
"Enough! enough!" they cried-straight from the crowd
The better sort on wings of transport fly: As when amid the lifeless summits proud Of Alpine cliffs, where to the gelid sky Snows pil'd on snows in wintry torpor lie, The rays divine of vernal Phœbus play; Th' awaken'd heaps, in streamlets from on high, Rous'd into action, lively leap away, Glad warbling thro' the vales, in their new being gay.
"O, Heaven!" they cried, " and do we once more
Yon blessed Sun, and this green Earth so fair? Are we from noisome damps of pest-house free? And drink our souls the sweet ethereal air? O, thou! or knight, or god! who holdest there That fiend, oh, keep him in eternal chains! But what for us, the children of despair, Brought to the brink of Hell, what hope remains? Repentance does itself but aggravate our pains.'
Meantime a moving scene was open laid; That lazar-house, I whilom in my lay Depainted have, its horrors deep-display'd, And gave unnumber'd wretches to the day, Who tossing there in squalid misery lay. Soon as of sacred light th' unwonted smile Pour'd on these living catacombs its ray, Through the drear caverns stretching many a mile, The sick up-rais'd their heads, and dropp'd their woes awhile.