Eothen By A. W. Kingslake

 -   Hard by, near the altar, the holy Virgin was

I had been journeying (cheerily indeed, for the voices of - Page 110
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Hard By, Near The Altar, The Holy Virgin Was Kneeling.

I had been journeying (cheerily indeed, for the voices of my followers were ever within my hearing, but yet), as it were, in solitude, for I had no comrade to whet the edge of my reason, or wake me from my noonday dreams.

I was left all alone to be taught and swayed by the beautiful circumstances of Palestine travelling - by the clime, and the land, and the name of the land, with all its mighty import; by the glittering freshness of the sward, and the abounding masses of flowers that furnished my sumptuous pathway; by the bracing and fragrant air that seemed to poise me in my saddle, and to lift me along as a planet appointed to glide through space.

And the end of my journey was Nazareth, the home of the blessed Virgin! In the first dawn of my manhood the old painters of Italy had taught me their dangerous worship of the beauty that is more than mortal, but those images all seemed shadowy now, and floated before me so dimly, the one overcasting the other, that they left me no one sweet idol on which I could look and look again and say, "Maria mia!" Yet they left me more than an idol; they left me (for to them I am wont to trace it) a faint apprehension of beauty not compassed with lines and shadows; they touched me (forgive, proud Marie of Anjou!) - they touched me with a faith in loveliness transcending mortal shapes.

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