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Chapter I.2
Forse se tu gustassi una sol volta
La millesima parte delle gioje,
Che gusta un cor amato riamando,
Diresti ripentita sospirando,
Perduto e tutto il tempo
Che in amar non si sponde.
Hadst Thou but tasted once the thousandth part
Of joys, which bless the loved and loving heart,
Your words repentant and your sighs would prove,
Lost is the time which is not past in love.
The monks having attended their Abbot to the door of his Cell, He dismissed them with
an air of conscious superiority in which Humility's semblance combated with the reality
of pride.
He was no sooner alone, than He gave free loose to the indulgence of his vanity. When
He remembered the Enthusiasm which his discourse had excited, his heart swelled with
rapture, and his imagination presented him with splendid visions of aggrandizement. He
looked round him with exultation, and Pride told him loudly that He was superior to the
rest of his fellow-Creatures.
'Who,' thought He; 'Who but myself has passed the ordeal of Youth, yet sees no single
stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of strong passions and an
impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to voluntary
retirement? I seek for such a Man in vain. I see no one but myself possessed of such
resolution. Religion cannot boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my
discourse produce upon its Auditors! How they crowded round me! How they loaded me
with benedictions, and pronounced me the sole uncorrupted Pillar of the Church! What
then now is left for me to do? Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my
Brothers as I have hitherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May I not be tempted from
those paths which till now I have pursued without one moment's wandering? Am I not a
Man, whose nature is frail, and prone to error? I must now abandon the solitude of my
retreat; The fairest and noblest Dames of Madrid continually present themselves at the
Abbey, and will use no other Confessor.
I must accustom my eyes to Objects of temptation, and expose myself to the seduction of
luxury and desire. Should I meet in that world which I am constrained to enter some
lovely Female, lovely . . . as you, Madona. . . .!'