Title: The World's Greatest Books — Volume 17 — Poetry and Drama
Editor: J. A. Hammerton
Release date: January 10, 2014 [eBook #44640]
Credits: Produced by Kevin Handy, Matthias Grammel and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Portrait of Molière
Goetz von Berlichingen
Iphigenia in Tauris
She Stoops to Conquer
Marion de Lorme
The King Amuses Himself
The Legend of the Alps
Pillars of Society
Every Man in His Humour
Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim
Nathan the Wise
On the Nature of Things
Epigrams, Epitaphs, and Poems
New Way to Pay Old Debts
The Doctor in Spite of Himself
(Molière: Continued in Vol. XVIII)
A Complete Index of The World's Greatest Books will be found at
the end of Volume XX.
The Emperor Maximilian
The Bishop of Bamberg
Goetz von Berlichingen
Adelbert von Weislingen
Elizabeth, wife to Goetz
Franz von Sickingen
Marie, his sister
Hans von Selbitz
Adelheid von Walldorf
Franz, page to Weislingen
George, page to Goetz
Max Stumpf, Sievers,
Metzler, Link, Kohl,
Scene I.—Forest; a poor hut in the background. Goetz and George.
Goetz: Where can my men be? Up and down I have to walk, lest sleep should overcome me. Five days and nights already in ambush. But when I get thee, Weislingen, I shall make up for it! You priests may send [Pg 2] round your obliging Weislingen to decry me—I am awake. You escaped me, bishop! So your dear Weislingen may pay the piper. George! George! (Enter George.) Tell Hans to get ready. My scouts may be back any moment. And give me some more wine!
George: Hark! I hear some horses galloping—two
—it must be your men!
Goetz: My horse, quick! Tell Hans to arm!
[Enter Faud, who reports to Goetz that Weislingen is
approaching. Exit Goetz and his men.
George: Oh, St. George! Make me strong and brave! And give me spear, armour, and horse!
Scene II.—Hall at Jaxthausen. Elizabeth and Marie.
Marie: If I had a husband who always exposed himself to danger, I should die the first year.
Elizabeth: Thank God, I am made of harder stuff! God grant that my boy may take after his father, and not become a treacherous hypocrite, like Weislingen.
Marie: You are very bitter against him. Yet report speaks well of him. Your own husband loved him, when they were pages together to the margrave.
[The gay tune of a wind-instrument is heard.
Elizabeth: There he returns with his spoil! I must get the meal ready. Here, take the cellar keys and let them have of the best wine! They have deserved it.
[Exeunt. Enter Goetz, Weislingen, and men-at-arms.
Goetz (taking off his helmet and sword): Unstrap my cuirass and give me my doublet! Weislingen, you've given us hard work! Be of good cheer. Where are your clothes? I could lend you some of mine—a neat, clean suit, which I wore at the wedding of my gracious lord the Count Palatine, when your bishop got so vexed with me, because I made him shake hands with me, unknown, after having taken two of his ships a fortnight before on the Main.
Weislingen: I beg you to leave me alone.
Goetz: Why? Pray, be cheerful. You are in my power, and I shall not abuse it. You know my knight's duty is sacred to me. And now I must go to see my wife.
Weislingen: Oh, that it were all a dream! In Berlichingen's power—and he, the old true-hearted Goetz! Back again in the hall, where we played as boys, where I loved him with all my heart! How strangely past and present seem to intermingle here.
[Enter Goetz, and a man with jug and goblet.
Goetz: Let us drink, until the meal is ready. Come, you are at home. It is a long time since we last shared a bottle. (Raising his goblet) A gay heart!
Weislingen: Those times are past.
Goetz: Heaven forbid! Though merrier days we
may not find. If you had only followed me to Brabant, instead of taking to that miserable life at court! Are you not as free and nobly born as anyone in Germany? Independent, subject only to the emperor? And you submit to vassals, who poison the emperor's ear against me! They want to get rid of me. And you, Weislingen, are their tool!
Goetz: No more of it! I hate explanations. They only lead to deceiving one or the other, or both.
[They stand apart, their backs turned to each other. Enter Marie.
Marie (to Weislingen): I come to greet and to invite you in my sister's name. What is it? Why are you silent both? You are host and guest. Be guided by a woman's voice.
Goetz: You remind me of my duty.
Weislingen: Who could resist so heavenly a hint?
Marie: Draw near each other, be reconciled! (The men shake hands.) The union of brave men is the most ardent wish of all good women.
Scene I.—A room at `. Marie and Weislingen.
Marie: You say you love me. I willingly believe it, and hope to be happy with you and to make you happy.
Weislingen: Blessed be your brother and the day he rode out to capture me!
Goetz: Your page is back. Whatever his news, Adelbert, you are free! All I ask is your word that you will not aid and abet my enemies.
Weislingen: I take your hand. And may I at the same time take the hand of this noblest of all women?
Goetz: May I say "yes" for you, Marie? You need not blush—your eyes have answered clearly. Well, then, Weislingen, take her hand, and I say Amen, friend and brother! I must call my wife. Elizabeth! (Enter Elizabeth.) Join your hand in theirs and say "God bless you!" They are a pair. Adelbert is going back to Bamberg to detach himself openly from the bishop, and then to his estates to settle his affairs. And now we'll leave him undisturbed to hear his boy's report.
[Exit with Marie and Elizabeth.
Weislingen: Such bliss for one so unworthy!
Franz: God save you, noble sir! I bring you greetings [Pg 5] from everybody in Bamberg—from the bishop down to the jester. How they are distressed at your mishap! I am to tell you to be patient—they will think the more impatiently of your deliverance; for they cannot spare you.
Weislingen: They will have to. I'll return, but not to stay long.
Franz: Not to stay? My lord, if you but knew what I know! If you had but seen her—the angel in the shape of woman, who makes Bamberg a forecourt of heaven— Adelheid von Walldorf!
Weislingen: I have heard much of her beauty. Is her husband at court?
Franz: She has been widowed for four months, and is at Bamberg for amusement. If she looks upon you, it is as though you were basking in spring sunshine.
Weislingen: Her charms would be lost on me. I am betrothed. Marie will be the happiness of my life. And now pack up. First to Bamberg, and then to my castle.
Scene II.—A forest. Some Nuremberg merchants, who, attacked on their way to the Frankfurt Fair by Goetz and his men, have escaped, leaving their goods in the hands of the knights. The page George has, however, recaptured two of the merchants as Goetz and his men enter.
Goetz: Search the forest! Let none escape!
George (stepping forward): I've done some preparatory work. Here they are.
Goetz: Welcome, good lad! Keep them well guarded! (Exit his men with the merchants.) And now, what news of Weislingen?
George: Bad news! He looked confused when I said to him, "A few words from your Berlichingen." He tried to put me off with empty words, but when I pressed him he said he was under no obligation to you, [Pg 6] and would have nothing to do with you.
Goetz: Enough! I shall not forget this infamous treachery. Whoever gets into my power shall feel it. (Exit George.) I'll revel in their agony, deride their fear. And how, Goetz, are you thus changed? Should other people's faults and vices make you renounce your chivalry, and abandon yourself to vulgar cruelty? I'll drag him back in chains, if I can't get him any other way. And there's an end of it, Goetz; think of your duty!
[Enter George with a casket.
George: Now let your joke be ended, they are frightened enough. One of them, a handsome young man, gave me this casket, and said, "Take this as ransom! The jewels I meant to take to my betrothed. Take them, and let me escape."
Goetz (examining the jewels): This time, Marie, I shall not be tempted to bring it to you as a birthday gift. Even in your misfortune you would rejoice in the happiness of others. Take it, George. Give it back to the lad. Let him take it to his bride, with greeting from Goetz! And let all the prisoners free at sunset.
Scene I.—Pleasure-garden at Augsburg. The Emperor, the Bishop of Bamberg, Weislingen, the Lady Adelheid, Courtiers.
Emperor: I am tired of these merchants with their eternal complaints! Every shopkeeper wants help, and no one will stir against the common enemy of the empire and of Christianity.
Weislingen: Who would be active abroad while he is threatened at home?
Bishop: If we could only remove that proud Sickingen and Berlichingen, the others would soon fall asunder.
Emperor: Brave, noble men at heart, who must be spared and used against the Turks.
Weislingen: The consequences may be dangerous. [Pg 7] Better to capture them and leave them quietly upon their knightly parole in their castles.
Emperor: If they then abide by the law, they might again be honourably and usefully employed. I shall open the session of the Diet to-morrow with this proposal.
Weislingen: A clamour of joyful assent will spare your majesty the end of the speech.
[Exit Emperor, Bishop, and Courtiers.
Weislingen: And so you mean to go—to leave the festive scenes for which you longed with all your heart, to leave a friend to whom you are indispensable, to delay our union?
Adelheid: The gayer, the freer shall I return to you.
Weislingen: Will you be content if we proceed against Berlichingen?
Adelheid: You deserve a kiss! My uncle, Von Wanzenau, must be captain!
Weislingen: Impossible! An incompetent old dreamer!
Adelheid: Let the fiery Werdenhagen, his sister's stepson, go with him.
Weislingen: He is thoughtless and foolhardy, and will not improve matters.
Adelheid: We have to think of our relatives. For love of me, you must do it! And I want some exemptions for the convent of St. Emmeraru; you can work the chancellor. Then the cup-bearer's post is vacant at the Hessian Court, and the high stewardship of the Palatinate. I want them for our friends Braimau and Mirsing.
Weislingen: How shall I remember it all?
Adelheid: I shall train a starling to repeat the names to you, and to add, "Please, please." (Exit Weislingen. To Franz, whom she stops as he crosses to follow his master): Franz, could you get me a starling, or would you yourself be my starling? You would learn more rapidly.
Franz: If you would teach me. Try. Take me with you.
Adelheid: No, you must serve me here. Have you a good memory?
Franz: For your words. I remember every syllable you spoke to me that first day at Bamberg.
Adelheid: Now, listen, Franz. I shall tell you the names which I want you to repeat to your master, always adding, "Please, please."
Franz (seizing her hand passionately): Please, please!
Adelheid (stepping back): Hands are not wanted. You must lose such bad manners. But you must not be so upset at a little rebuke. One punishes the children one loves.
Franz: You love me, then?
Adelheid: I might love you as a child, but you are getting too tall and violent.
Scene II.—Hall at Jaxthausen. Sickingen and Goetz.
Goetz: So you want to marry a jilted woman?
Sickingen: To be deceived by him is an honour for you both. I want a mistress for my castles and gardens. In the field, at court, I want to stand alone.
Selbitz: Bad news! The emperor has put you under the ban, and has sent troops to seize you.
Goetz: Sickingen, you hear. Take back your offer, and leave me!
Sickingen: I shall not turn from you in trouble. No better wooing than in time of war and danger.
Goetz: On one condition. You must publicly detach yourself from me. The emperor loves and esteems you, and your intercession may save me in the hour of need.
Sickingen: But I can secretly send you twenty horsemen.
Goetz: That offer I accept.
Scene III.—A hill with a view over a fertile country. George and Goetz's men cross the stage, chasing the imperial troops. Then Selbitz is carried on, wounded, accompanied by Faud.
Selbitz: Let me rest here!—and back to your master; back to Goetz!
Faud: Let me stay with you. I am no good below; they have hammered my old bones till I can scarcely move. (Exit soldiers.) Here from the wall I can watch the fight.
Selbitz: What do you see?
Faud: Your horsemen are turning tail. I can see Goetz's three black feathers in the midst of the turmoil. Woe, he has fallen! And George's blue plume has disappeared! Sickingen's horsemen in flight! Ha! I see Goetz again! And George! Victory! Victory! They are routed! Goetz is after them—he has seized their flag! The fugitives are coming here! Oh! what will they do with you?
Selbitz: Come down and draw! My sword is ready. I'll make it hot for them, even sitting or lying down!
[Enter imperial troops. Selbitz and Faud defend themselves until Lerse comes to their rescue, attacking the soldiers furiously, killing some and putting the rest to flight. Enter Goetz, George, a troop of armed men.
Selbitz: Good luck, Goetz! Victory! Victory!
How did you fare?
Goetz: To George and Lerse I owe my life; I was off my horse when they came to the rescue. I have their flag and a few prisoners.
Selbitz: Lerse saved me, too. See what work he has done here!
Goetz: Good luck, Lerse! And God bless my George's first brave deed! Now back to the castle, and let us gather our scattered men.
Scene I.—Jaxthausen. A small room. Marie and Sickingen.
Sickingen: You may smile, but I felt the desire to possess you when you first looked upon me with your blue eyes, when you were with your mother at the Diet of Speier. I have long been separated from you; but that wish remained, with the memory of that glance.
Sickingen: Good luck!
Marie: Welcome, a thousand times!
Goetz: Now quickly to the chapel! I've thought it all out, and time presses.
Scene II.—Large hall; in the background a door, leading to the chapel. Lerse and men-at-arms. Enter Goetz from chapel.
Goetz: How now, Lerse? The men had better be distributed over the walls. Let them take any breastplates, helmets, and arms they may want. Are the gates well manned?
Lerse: Yes, sir.
Goetz: Sickingen will leave us at once. You will lead him through the lower gate, along the water, and across the ford. Then look around you, and come back.
[Enter Sickingen, Marie, Elizabeth, from chapel. Drums in distance announce the enemy's approach.
Goetz: May God bless you and send you merry, happy days!
Elizabeth: And may He let your children be like you!
Sickingen: I thank you, and I thank you, Marie, who will lead me to happiness.
Goetz: A pleasant journey! Lerse will show you the way.
Marie: That is not what we meant. We shall not leave you.
Goetz: You must, sister! (To Sickingen) You understand? Talk to Marie; she is your wife. Take her to safety, and then think of me.
[Exeunt Lerse, Sickingen and Marie. Enter George.
George: They approach from all sides. I saw their pikes glitter from the tower.
Goetz: Have the gate barricaded with beams and stones.
[Exit George. A trumpeter is dimly heard from the distance, requesting Goetz to surrender unconditionally.
Goetz refuses angrily, and slams the window. Enter Lerse.
Lerse: There is plenty of powder, but bullets are scarce.
Goetz: Look round for lead! Meanwhile, we must make the crossbows do.
[Distant shooting is heard at intervals. Exit Goetz with crossbow.
Lerse (breaking a window and detaching the lead from the glass): This lead has rested long enough; now it may fly for a change.
Goetz: They have ceased firing, and offer a truce with all sorts of signs and white rags. They will probably ask me to surrender on knightly parole.
Lerse: I'll go and see. 'Tis best to know their mind.
[Goes out and returns shortly.
Lerse: Liberty! Liberty! Here are the conditions. You may withdraw with arms, horses, and armour, leaving all provisions behind. Your property will be carefully guarded. I am to remain.
Goetz: Come, take the best arms with you, and leave the others here! Come, Elizabeth! Through this very gate I led you as a young bride. Who knows when we [Pg 12] shall return?
[Exeunt Goetz and Elizabeth, followed by George. While the men are choosing arms and preparing, Lerse, who has heard shouting and firing without, looks through the window.
Lerse: God! They are murdering our master! He is off his horse! Help him!
Faud: George is still fighting. Let's go! If they die,
I don't want to live!
Scene III.—Night; anteroom in Adelheid's castle. Weislingen, Franz, Adelheid, with a retinue of masked and costumed revellers.
Weislingen: May I, in these moments of lightheartedness, speak to you of serious matters? Goetz is probably by this time in our hands. The peasants' revolt is growing in violence; and the League has given me the command against them. We shall start before long. I shall take you to my castle in Franconia, where you will be safe, and not too far from me.
Adelheid: We shall consider that. I may be useful to you here.
Weislingen: We have not much time, for we break up to-morrow!
Adelheid (after a pause): Very well, then; carnival to-night, and war to-morrow!
Weislingen: You are fond of change. A pleasant night to you!
Adelheid: I understand. You would remove me from the court, where Charles, our emperor's great successor, is the object of all hope? You will not change my plans. Franz!
Franz (entering): Gracious lady!
Adelheid: Watch all the masks, and find out for me the archduke's disguise! You look sad?
Franz: It is your will that I should languish unto death.
Adelheid (apart): I pity him. (To Franz) You are true and loving; I shall not forget you!
Scene IV.—Heilbronn Town Hall. Imperial Councillor and Magistrates, UsherS, Goetz.
Councillor: You know how you fell into our hands, and are a prisoner at discretion?
Goetz: What will you give me to forget it?
Councillor: You gave your knightly parole to appear and humbly to await his majesty's pleasure?
Goetz: Well, here I am, and await it!
Councillor: His majesty's mercy releases you from the ban and all punishment, provided you subscribe to all the articles which shall be read unto you.
Goetz: I am his majesty's faithful servant. But, before you proceed, where are my men; what is their fate?
Councillor: That is no business of yours. Secretary, read the articles! (Reads): I, Goetz von Berlichingen, having lately risen in rebellion against the emperor———
Goetz: 'Tis false! I am no rebel! I refuse to listen any further!
Councillor: And yet we have strict orders to persuade you by fair means, or to throw you into prison.
Goetz: To prison? Me? That cannot be the emperor's order! To promise me permission to ward myself on parole, and then again to break your treaty.
Councillor: We owe no faith to robbers.
Goetz: If you were not the representative of my respected sovereign, you should swallow that word, or choke upon it!
[Councillor makes a sign, and a bell is rung. Enter citizens with halberds and swords.
Councillor: You will not listen—seize him!
[They rush upon him. He strikes one down, and snatches
a sword from another. They stand aloof.
Goetz: Come on! I should like to become acquainted [Pg 14] with the bravest among you.
[A trumpet is heard without. Enter Usher.
Usher: Franz von Sickingen is without and sends word that having heard how faith has been broken with his brother-in-law, he insists upon justice, or within an hour he will fire the four quarters of the town, and abandon it to be sacked by his men.
Goetz: Brave friend!
Councillor: YOU had best dissuade your brother-in-law from his rebellious intention. He will only become the companion of your fall! Meanwhile, we will consider how we can best uphold the emperor's authority.
[Exeunt all but Goetz. Enter Sickingen.
Goetz: That was help from heaven. I asked nothing but knightly ward upon my parole.
Sickingen: They have shamefully abused the imperial authority. I know the emperor, and have some influence with him. I shall want your fist in an enterprise I am preparing. Meanwhile, they will let you and your men return to your castle upon the promise not to move beyond its confines. And the emperor will soon call you. Now back to the wigs! They have had time enough to talk; let's save them the trouble!
Scene I.—Forest. Goetz and George.
Goetz: No further! Another step and I should have broken my oath. What is that dust beyond? And that wild mob moving towards us?
Lerse (entering): The rebel peasants. Back to the castle! They have dealt horribly with the noblest men!
Goetz: On my own soil I shall not try to evade the rabble.
[Enter Stumpf, Kohl, Sievers, and armed peasants.
Stumpf: We come to ask you, brave Goetz, to be our captain.
Goetz: What! Me? To break my oath? Stumpf, I thought you were a friend! Even if I were free, and you wanted to carry on as you did at Weinsberg, raving and burning, and murdering, I'd rather be killed than be your captain!
Stumpf: If we had a leader of authority, such things would not happen. The princes and all Germany would thank you.
Sievers: You must be our captain, or you will have
to defend your own skin. We give you two hours to
Goetz: Why consider? I can decide now as well as later. Will you desist from your misdeeds, and act like decent folk who know what they want? Then I shall help you with your claims, and be your captain for four weeks. Now, come!
Scene II.—Landscape, with village and castle in distance. Goetz and George.
George: I beseech you, leave this infamous mob of robbers and incendiaries.
Goetz: We have done some good and saved many a convent, many a life.
George: Oh, sir, I beg you to leave them at once, before they drag you away with them as prisoner, instead of following you as captain! (Flames are seen rising from the distant village.) See there! A new crime!
Goetz: That is Miltenberg. Quick, George! Prevent the burning of the castle. I'll have nothing further to do with the scoundrels.
George: I shall save Miltenberg, or you will not see me again.
Goetz: Everybody blames me for the mischief, and nobody gives me credit for having prevented so much evil. Would I were thousands of miles away!
[Enter Sievers, Link, Metzler, peasants.
Link: Rouse yourself, captain; the enemy is near and in great force!
Goetz: Who burnt Miltenberg?
Metzler: If you want to make a fuss, we'll soon teach you!
Goetz: You threaten? Scoundrel! [He knocks him down with a blow of his fist.
Kohl: You are mad! The enemy is coming, and you quarrel.
[Tumult, battle, and rout of the peasants. Then the stage gradually fills with gypsies. Goetz returns wounded, is recognised by the gypsies, who bandage him, help him on to his horse, and ask him to lead them. Soldiers enter and level their halberds at Goetz.
Scene III.—Adelheid's room. Night. Adelheid. Franz.
Franz: Oh, let me stay yet a little while—here, where I live. Without is death!
Adelheid: Already you hesitate? Then give me back the phial. You played the hero, but you are only a boy; A man who wooes a noble woman stakes his life, honour, virtue, happiness! Boy, leave me!
Franz: No, you are mine. And if I get your freedom I get my own. With a firm hand I shall pour the poison into my master's cup. Farewell.
[He embraces her and hurries away.
Scene IV.—Rustic garden. Marie sleeping in an arbour. Lerse.
Lerse: Gracious lady, awake! We must away. Goetz captured as a rebel and thrown into a dungeon! His age! His wounds!
Marie: We must hurry to Weislingen. Only dire necessity can drive me to this step. Saving my brother's life I go to death. I shall kneel to him, weep before him.
Scene V.—Weislingen's hall.
Weislingen: A wretched fever has dried my very marrow. No rest for me, day or night! Goetz haunts my very dreams. He is a prisoner, and yet I tremble before him. (Enter Marie.) Oh, heaven! Marie's spirit, to tell me of her death!
Marie: Weislingen, I am no spirit. I have come to beg of you my brother's life.
Weislingen: Marie! You, angel of heaven, bring with you the tortures of hell. The breath of death is upon me, and you come to throw me into despair!
Marie: My brother is ill in prison. His wounds—his age——
Weislingen: Enough. Franz! (Enter Franz in great excitement.) The papers there! (Franz hands him a sealed packet.) Here is your brother's death-warrant; and thus I tear it. He lives. Do not weep, Franz; there's hope for the living.
Franz: You cannot, you must die! Poison from your wife. [Rushes to the window, and throws himself out into the river.
Weislingen: Woe to me! Poison from my wife! Franz seduced by the infamous woman! I am dying; and in my agony throb the tortures of hell.
Marie (kneeling): Merciful God, have pity on him!
Scene VI.—A small garden outside the prison, Goetz, Elizabeth, Lerse, and prison-keeper.
Goetz: Almighty God! How lovely is it beneath Thy heaven! Farewell, my children! My roots are cut away, my strength totters to the grave. Let me see George once more, and sun myself in his look. You turn away and weep? He is dead! Then die, Goetz! How did he die? Alas! they took him among the incendiaries, [Pg 18] and he has been executed?
Elizabeth: No, he was slain at Miltenberg, fighting like a lion.
Goetz: God be praised! Now release my soul! My poor wife! I leave you in a wicked world. Lerse, forsake her not! Blessings upon Marie and her husband. Selbitz is dead, and the good emperor, and my George. Give me some water! Heavenly air! Freedom!
Elizabeth: Freedom is only above—with thee; the world is a prison.
Lerse: Noble man! Woe to this age that rejected thee! Woe to the future that shall misjudge thee!
[A] The story of "Goetz von Berlichingen" was founded on the life of a German soldier of fortune who flourished between 1480 and 1562. The possibilities of his biography inspired Goethe (Vol. IV, p. 253) with the idea of doing for Germany what Shakespeare had done for mediæval England. In a few weeks he had turned the life into a series of vivid dramatic pictures, which so engrossed him that he "forgot Homer, Shakespeare, and everything." For the next two years the manuscript lay untouched. In 1773 he made a careful revision and published it anonymously under the title of "Goetz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand"; it is in this form we possess the work now. At a still later period, in 1804, Goethe prepared another version of the play for the stage. The subject-matter of "Goetz" is purely revolutionary. Goetz, the hero himself, is a champion of a good cause—the cause of freedom and self-reliance. He is the embodiment of sturdy German virtues, the Empire and the Church playing the unenviable role of intrigue and oppression. As a stage play, "Goetz" is ill-constructed, but otherwise it stands a veritable literary triumph, and a worthy predecessor to "Faust." This epitome has been prepared from the German text.
Thoas, King of Tauris
The scene throughout is laid in a grove before Diana's temple in Tauris.
Thoas: To-day I come within this sacred fane,
Which I have often entered to implore
And thank the gods for conquest. In my breast
I bear an old and fondly-cherish'd wish,
To which methinks thou canst not be a stranger:
I hope, a blessing to myself and realm,
To lead thee to my dwelling as my bride.
Iphigenia: Too great thine offer, king, to one unknown,
Who on this shore sought only what thou gavest,
Safety and peace.
Thoas: Thus still to shroud thyself
From me, as from the lowest, in the veil
Of mystery which wrapp'd thy coming here,
Would in no country be deem'd just or right.
Iphigenia: If I conceal'd, O king, my name, my race,
It was embarrassment, and not mistrust.
For didst thou know who stands before thee now,
Strange horror would possess thy mighty heart,
And, far from wishing me to share thy throne,
Thou wouldst more likely banish me forthwith.
Thoas: Whate'er respecting thee the gods decree,
Since thou hast dwelt amongst us, and enjoy'd
The privilege the pious stranger claims,
To me hath fail'd no blessing sent from heaven.
End then thy silence, priestess!
Iphigenia: I issue from the Titan's race.
Thoas: From that same Tantalus, whom Jove himself
Drew to his council and his social board?
Iphigenia: His crime was human, and their doom severe;
Alas, and his whole race must bear their hate.
His son, Pelops, obtained his second wife
[Pg 20] Through treachery and murder. And Hebe's sons,
Thyestes and Atreus, envious of the love
That Pelops bore his first-born, murdered him.
The mother, held as murderess by the sire,
In terror did destroy herself. The sons,
After the death of Pelops, shared the rule
O'er Mycenæ, till Atreus from the realm
Thyestes drove. Oh, spare me to relate
The deeds of horror, vengeance, cruel infamy
That ended in a feast where Atreus made
His brother eat the flesh of his own boys.
Thoas: But tell me by what miracle thou sprangest
From race so savage.
Iphigenia: Atreus' eldest son
Was Agamemnon; he, O king, my sire;
My mother Clytemnestra, who then bore
To him Electra, and to fill his cup
Of bliss, Orestes. But misfortunes new
Befel our ancient house, when to avenge
The fairest woman's wrongs the kings of Greece
Round Ilion's walls encamp'd, led by my sire.
In Aulis vainly for a favouring gale
They waited; for, enrag'd against their chief,
Diana stay'd their progress, and requir'd,
Through Chalcas' voice, the monarch's eldest daughter.
They lured me to the altar, and this head
There to the goddess doomed. She was appeased,
And shrouded me in a protecting cloud.
Here I awakened from the dream of death,
Diana's priestess, I who speak with thee.
Thoas: I yield no higher honour or regard
To the king's daughter than the maid unknown;
Once more my first proposal I repeat.
Iphigenia: Hath not the goddess who protected me
Alone a right to my devoted head?
Thoas: Not many words are needed to refuse,
The no alone is heard by the refused.
Iphigenia: I have to thee my inmost heart reveal'd.
My father, mother, and my long-lost home
With yearning soul I pine to see.
Thoas: Then go!
And to the voice of reason close thine ear.
Hear then my last resolve. Be priestess still
Of the great goddess who selected thee.
From olden time no stranger near'd our shore
But fell a victim at her sacred shrine;
But thou, with kind affection didst enthral
Me so that wholly I forgot my duty;
And I did not hear my people's murmurs.
Now they cry aloud. No longer now
Will I oppose the wishes of the crowd.
Two strangers, whom in caverns of the shore
We found conceal'd, and whose arrival here
Bodes to my realm no good, are in my power.
With them thy goddess may once more resume
Her ancient, pious, long-suspended rites!
I send them here—thy duty not unknown. [Exit.
Iphigenia: O goddess! Keep my hands from blood!
Orestes: When I implor'd Apollo to remove
The grisly band of Furies from my side,
He promised aid and safety in the fane
Of his lov'd sister, who o'er Tauris rules.
Thus the prophetic word fulfils itself,
That with my life shall terminate my woe.
Thee only, friend, thee am I loath to take,
The guiltless partner of my crime and curse,
To yonder cheerless shore!
Pylades: Think not of death!
[Pg 22] But mark if not the gods perchance present
Means and fit moment for a joyful flight.
The gods avenge not on the son the deeds
Done by their father.
Orestes: It is their decree
Which doth destroy us.
Pylades: From our guards I learn
A strange and god-like woman holds in check
The execution of the bloody law.
Orestes: The monarch's savage will decrees our death;
A woman cannot save when he condemns.
Pylades: She comes: leave us alone. I dare not tell
At once our names, nor unreserv'd confide
Our fortunes to her. Now retire awhile.
[Exit Orestes. Enter Iphigenia.
Iphigenia: Whence art thou? Stranger, speak! To me thy bearing
Stamps thee of Grecian, not of Scythian race.
[She unbinds his chains.
The gods avert the doom that threatens you!
Pylades: Delicious music! Dearly welcome tones
Of our own language in a foreign land!
We are from Crete, Adrastus' sons; and I
Am Cephalus; my eldest brother, he,
Laodamas. Between us stood a youth
Whom, when our sire died (having return'd
From Troy, enrich'd with loot), in contest fierce
My brother slew! 'Tis thus the Furies now
For kindred-murder dog his restless steps.
But to this savage shore the Delphian god
Hath sent us, cheer'd by hope. My tale is told.
Iphigenia: Troy fallen! Dear stranger, oh, say!
Pylades: The stately town
Now lies in ruins. Many a hero's grave
Will oft our thoughts recall to Ilion's shore.
There lies Achilles and his noble friend;
[Pg 23] Nor Palamedes, nor Ajax, e'er again
The daylight of their native land beheld.
Yet happy are the thousands who receiv'd
Their bitter death-blow from a hostile hand,
And not like Agamemnon, who, ensnared,
Fell murdered on the day of his return
By Clytemnestra, with Ægisthus' aid.
Iphigenia: Base passion prompted then this deed of shame?
Pylades: And feelings, cherish'd long of deep revenge.
For such a dreadful deed, that if on earth
Aught could exculpate murder, it were this.
The monarch, for the welfare of the Greeks,
Her eldest daughter doomed. Within her heart
This planted such abhorrence that forthwith
She to Ægisthus hath resigned herself,
And round her husband flung the web of death.
Iphigenia (veiling herself): It is enough! Thou wilt again behold me.
Iphigenia: Unhappy man, I only loose thy bonds
In token of a still severer doom.
For the incensed king, should I refuse
Compliance with the rites himself enjoin'd,
Will choose another virgin from my train
As my successor. Then, alas! with nought,
pave ardent wishes, can I succour you.
But tell me now, when Agamemnon fell,
Orestes—did he share his sire's fate?
Say, was he saved? And is he still alive?
And lives Electra, too?
Orestes: They both survive.
Half of the horror only hast thou heard.
[Pg 24] Electra, on the day when fell her sire,
Her brother from impending doom conceal'd;
Him Strophius, his father's relative,
Received with kindest care, and rear'd him up,
With his own son, named Pylades, who soon
Around the stranger twin'd love's fairest bonds.
The longing to revenge the monarch's death
Took them to Mycenæ, and by her son
Was Clytemnestra slain.
Iphigenia: Immortal powers!
O tell me of the poor unfortunate!
Speak of Orestes!
Orestes: Him the Furies chase.
They glare around him with their hollow eyes,
Like greedy eagles. In their murky dens
They stir themselves, and from the corners creep
Their comrades, dire remorse and pallid fear;
Before them fumes a mist of Acheron.
I am Orestes! and this guilty head
Is stooping to the tomb and covets death;
It will be welcome now in any shape.
[Orestes retires. Iphigenia prays to the gods, and
Orestes: Who art thou, that thy voice thus horribly
Can harrow up my bosom's inmost depths?
Iphigenia: Thine inmost heart reveals it. I am she—Iphigenia!
Orestes: Hence, away, begone!
Leave me! Like Heracles, a death of shame,
Unworthy wretch, locked in myself, I'll die!
Iphigenia: Thou shalt not perish! Would that I might hear
One quiet word from thee! Dispel my doubts,
Make sure the bliss I have implored so long.
Orestes! O my brother!
Orestes: There's pity in thy look! oh, gaze not so—
'Twas with such looks that Clytemnestra sought
[Pg 25] An entrance to her son Orestes' heart,
And yet his uprais'd arm her bosom pierced.
The weapon raise, spare not, this bosom rend,
And make an outlet for its boiling streams.
[He sinks exhausted. Enter Pylades.
Pylades: Dost thou not know me, and this sacred grove,
And this blest light, which shines not on the dead?
Attend! Each moment is of priceless worth,
And our return hangs on a slender thread.
The favouring gale, which swells our parting sail,
Must to Olympus waft our perfect joy.
Quick counsel and resolve the time demands.
Iphigenia: They hasten to the sea, where in a bay
Their comrades in the vessel lie concealed,
Waiting a signal. Me they have supplied
With artful answers should the monarch send
To urge the sacrifice. Detested falsehood!
Arkas: Priestess, with speed conclude the sacrifice!
Impatiently the king and people wait.
Iphigenia: The gods have not decreed that it should be.
The elder of these men of kindred-murder
Bears guilt. The dread Erinnys here within
Have seized upon their prey, polluting thus
The sanctuary. I hasten now to bathe
The goddess' image in the sea, and there
With solemn rites its purity restore.
Arkas: This hindrance to the monarch I'll announce.
[Exit Arkas. Enter Pylades.
Pylades: Thy brother is restor'd! The fire of youth
[Pg 26] With growing glory shines upon his brow.
Let us then hasten; guide me to the fane.
I can unaided on my shoulder bear
The goddess' image; how I long to feel
The precious burden! Hast thou to the king
Announced the prudent message as agreed?
Iphigenia: The royal messenger arrived, and I,
According to thy counsel, fram'd my speech.
Pylades: Danger again doth hover o'er our heads.
Alas! Why hast thou failed to shroud thyself
Within the veil of sacerdotal rights?
Iphigenia: I never have employed them as a veil.
Pylades: Pure soul! Thy scruples will alike destroy
Thyself and us. Come, let us be firm.
Nor with incautious haste betray ourselves.
Iphigenia: It is an honest scruple, which forbids
That I should cunningly deceive the king,
And plunder him who was my second father.
Pylades: Him dost thou fly, who would have slain thy brother.
If we should perish, bitter self-reproach,
Forerunner of despair, will be thy portion;
Necessity commands. The rest thou knowest. [Exit.
Iphigenia: I must obey him, for I see my friends
Beset with peril. Yet my own sad fate
Doth with increasing anguish move my heart
To steal the image, sacred and rever'd,
Confided to my care, and him deceive
To whom I owe my life and destiny!
Let not abhorrence spring within my heart!
Thoas: Fierce anger rages in my riven breast,
First against her whom I esteem'd so pure;
Then 'gainst myself, whose foolish lenity
[Pg 27] Hath fashion'd her for treason. Vain my hope
To bind her to me. Now that I oppose
Her wish, she seeks to gain her ends by fraud.
Wherefore delay the sacrifice; inform me!
Iphigenia: The goddess for reflection grants thee time.
Thoas: To thee this time seems also opportune.
Iphigenia: Are we not bound to render the distress'd
The gracious kindness from the gods received?
Thou know'st we are, and yet wilt thou compel me?
Thoas: Obey thine office, not the king.
Iphigenia: Oh, couldst thou see the struggle of my soul,
Courageously toward the first attack
Of an unhappy doom which threatens me;
Must I implore a miracle from heaven?
Thoas: Extravagant thy interest in the fate
Of these two strangers. Tell me who they are.
Iphigenia: They are—they seem, at least—I think them Greeks.
Thoas: Thy countrymen; no doubt they have renewed
The pleasing picture of return.
Iphigenia (after a pause): Attend,
O king, and honour truth in me. A plot
Deceitfully and secretly is laid
Touching the captives thou dost ask in vain.
They have escaped. The eldest is Orestes,
Whom madness seized, my brother; Pylades,
His early friend and confidant, the other.
From Delphi, Phoebus sent them to this shore,
To steal away the image of Diana,
And to him bear back the sister thither.
And for this, deliverance promised he
The Fury-haunted son.
Thoas: The traitors have contrived a cunning web,
And cast it round thee, who, secluded long,
[Pg 28] Giv'st willing credence to thine own desire.
Iphigenia: No, no! I'd pledge my life these men are true;
And shouldst thou find them otherwise, O king,
Then let them perish both, and cast me forth.
[Enter Orestes, armed.
Orestes (addressing his followers): Redouble your exertions! Hold them back!
And keep a passage open to the ship!
(To Iphigenia) We are betray'd; brief time remains for flight!
[He perceives the king.
Thoas: None in my presence with impunity
His naked weapon wears!
Iphigenia: Do not profane
Diana's sanctuary with rage and blood.
In him revere the king, my second father!
Orestes: Will he permit our peaceable return?
Iphigenia: Thy gleaming sword forbids me to reply.
[Enter Pylades, followed by Arkas, with drawn swords
Pylades: Do not delay, our friends are putting forth
Their final strength!
Arkas: They yield; their ship is ours!
Thoas: Let none annoy the foe while we confer.
Thoas: Now, answer me; how dost thou prove thyself
The priestess' brother, Agamemnon's son?
Iphigenia: See here, the mark on his right hand impress'd
As of three stars, which on his natal day
Were by the priest declar'd to indicate
Some dreadful deed therewith to be perform'd!
Thoas: E'en though thy words had banish'd every doubt,
Still must our arms decide. I see no peace;
Their purpose, as thou didst thyself confess,
[Pg 29] Was to deprive me of Diana's image!
Orestes: The image shall not be the cause of strife!
We now perceive the error which the god
Threw o'er our minds. His counsel I implor'd;
He answer'd, "Back to Greece the sister bring,
Who in the Tauris sanctuary abides."
To Phoebus' sister we applied the words,
And she referred to thee.
Iphigenia: Oh, let thy heart
Be moved by what an honest tongue has spoken.
Look on us, king; an opportunity
For such a noble deed not oft occurs!
Thoas: Then go!
Iphigenia: Not so, my king! I cannot part
Without thy blessing, or in anger from thee.
Thoas (extending his hand): Fare thee well!
[B] Goethe's fascinating and noble drama, "Iphigenia in Tauris," was first written in prose, and recast into verse in 1786. Inspired partly by his feelings towards Frau von Stein, whom Goethe "credited with knowing every trait of his being," and partly by the "Iphigenia in Tauris" of Euripides, the play is totally different from anything that had as yet come from his pen. Although it lacks some of the pomp and circumstance of the best Greek tragedy, it is written with great dignity in the strictest classical form, admirably suggesting the best in French classical drama. The prominent motive of the piece is the struggle between truth and falsehood. "It is," one critic has remarked, "a poetic drama of the soul." On its production at Weimar, the German public received it indifferently.
Anton Antonovitch, governor of a small town
Anna Andreyevna, his wife
Marya, their daughter
Luka, director of schools
Khelstakov, a St. Petersburg official
Osip, his servant-man
Bobchinski and Dobchinski, independent gentlemen
A Judge, A Charity Commissioner, A Postmaster
Police Superintendent and Constables
A Waiter at the Inn
Scene.—A room in the Governor's house. The Governor, a coarse and ill-educated official, and several functionaries of the town.
Governor (addressing the functionaries): I have bad news. An inspector-general is coming from St. Petersburg. You must see that your various departments are set in order. The hospital must be tidied up and the patients must be provided with nice white night-caps. The school-teachers must coach up the scholars in their subjects.
[Enter Bobchinski and Dobchinski breathlessly.
Bobchinski: What an extraordinary incident!
Dobchinski: A startling announcement!
All: What is it? What is it?
Bobchinski: I will tell you correctly. After you had received the letter from St. Petersburg, I ran out to tell the postmaster what it had announced. On the way Dobchinski pressed me to go into the inn for refreshment. Into the restaurant came an elegant young man with a fashionable aspect. The landlord told us he was an official on his way from Petersburg to Saratov, and that he is acting strangely, for he has been here more than a fortnight, and pays for nothing.
Governor: Good lord! Surely it cannot be he! Been here a fortnight? May heaven help us. You, sirs, get all your departments in proper trim. In the meantime I will take a stroll round the town, and satisfy myself that travellers are treated with due respect.
The governor orders the police to see that the street leading to the inn is well swept. He threatens to punish severely any of the townspeople who shall dare to bring complaints of any kind to the visiting official.
Scene.—A small room in the inn. Osip lying on his master's bed.
Osip: Devil take it! I am famishing. It is two months since we left St. Petersburg. This master of mine has squandered all his money on the way, and here we are penniless. The old man sends his son money, but he goes on the racket with it till all is spent, and then he has to pawn his clothes almost to the last rag. And now this landlord declares he will let us have nothing more to eat unless we pay in advance. Ah, there's the knock.
[He gets off the bed. Khelstakov enters.
Khelstakov: Go down and ask for something to eat.
Osip: No. The landlord will not let us have it. He says we are swindlers, and he threatens to have you put in prison.
Khelstakov: Go to the devil! Call the landlord. (Osip goes.) How fearfully hungry I am. And I was cheated at cards and cleaned right out at Penza by that infantry captain. What a miserable little town this is. They give no credit at the provision shops.
Waiter: The landlord asks what you want.
Khelstakov: Please bring my dinner at once. I must be busy directly I have dined.
The waiter replies that the landlord refuses to supply anything more, and seems likely to complain to the governor. But presently dinner is brought in. To Khlestakov's great consternation Osip announces that the governor has come and is asking for him.
Khelstakov: What? The landlord has reported me! I'll put on an aristocratic air, and ask him how he dares——
Governor, entering in trepidation and saluting humbly, astonishes him by profuse offers of hospitality and entertainment, though when at first mention is made of taking him to other [Pg 33] quarters, the guest in horror ejaculates that he supposes the gaol is meant, and he asks what right the governor has to hint at such a thing.
Khelstakov (indignantly): How dare you? I—I—I am a government official at St. Petersburg. I—I—I——
Governor (aside): Good heavens, what a rage he is in! He knows everything. Those confounded merchants have told him all.
Banging the table, Khelstakov declares he will not go to the gaol, but will complain to the Minister of the Interior; and the governor, trembling and terrified, pleads that he has a wife and little children, and begs that he may not be ruined. The ridiculous misunderstanding on both sides grows more confused every minute. The governor pours forth the most abject apologies; declares that if the people accuse him of oppression and extortion, and even of flogging women, they are a slandering mob.
Khelstakov: What have I to do with your enemies or the women you have flogged? Don't attempt to flog me. Now, look here, I will pay this landlord's account, but just now I have not the money. That is why I am staying here.
Governor (aside): Sly rogue, trying to mystify me! (Aloud) If you really are short of money, I am ready to serve you at once.
The visitor says that he will in that case borrow 200 roubles, and the money is readily handed over; in fact, the governor quietly slips in 200 extra roubles. The governor, convinced that the inspector-general is simply determined to keep up his incognito, resolves to act accordingly, and to tell falsehoods appropriate for mutual deception. He invites the guest to visit Various institutions, and a round is made.
Scene.—A room in the Governor's house. Governor, Khelstakov, and other functionaries.
Khelstakov: Fine establishments! In other towns they showed me nothing.[Pg 34]
Governor: In other towns I venture to say that the officials think most about their own profit; here we only aim at winning the approbation of the government.
Khelstakov: That lunch was very good! The fish was delicious! Where was it that we lunched? Was it not at the hospital? I saw the beds, but there were not many patients. Have the sick recovered?
Governor: Yes. Since I became governor they all get well like flies, not so much by doctoring as by honesty and regularity. Thank God, everything goes satisfactorily here! Another governor would undoubtedly look after his own advantage; but, believe me, when I lie down to sleep, my prayer is, "O Thou my Lord, may the government perceive my zeal and be satisfied." So I have an easy conscience.
Khelstakov: Are there any clubs here where a game at cards could be had?
Governor: God forbid! Here such a thing as a card-club is never heard of. I am disgusted at the sight of a card, and never dealt one in my life. Once to amuse the children I built a house of cards, and had accursed dreams all night.
Luka (aside): But the villain cheated me yesterday out of a hundred roubles!
Introduced to the governor's wife and daughter, Khlestakov addresses them in the manner of a gallant from the metropolis, and chatters boastfully of his influence, his position, and his connections. His house is the first in St. Petersburg. Meantime, the various functionaries meet in the house of the governor to concert measures for propitiating this great courtier. They resolve to present him with a substantial token of regard. With great trepidation they wait on him.
Judge (entering very nervously): I have the honour to present myself. I have been judge here since 1816, and have been decorated with the Vladimir of the Fourth Class.
Khelstakov: What have you there in your hand?
Judge (in bewilderment drops banknotes on the floor): Nothing.
Khelstakov: How nothing? I see some money has been dropped.
Judge (trembling and aside): O heaven, I am already before the tribunal, and they have brought the cart to take me into exile.
Khelstakov picks up the notes, and asks that the money may be lent him, as he has spent all his cash on the journey. He promises to return it as soon as he reaches home, but the judge protests that the honour of lending it is enough, and he begs that there shall be no injunction against him.
Next to present himself is the postmaster, in full uniform, sword in hand. After a little conversation with this functionary, Khlestakov thinks he may just as well borrow of him also, and he forthwith mentions that a singular thing has happened to him, for he has lost all his money on the way, and would be glad to be obliged with the loan of three hundred roubles. It is instantly counted out with alacrity, and the postmaster hastily retires. Also, in a very nervous state, Luka, the School Director, the Charity Commissioner, Bobchinski and Dobchinski, come to pay their homage, and Khlestakov borrows easily from each in turn.
Khelstakov (alone): There are many officials here; it seems to me, however, that they take me for a government functionary. What fools! I must write about it all to Tryapitchkin at Petersburg; he will write sketches of it in the papers. Here, Osip, bring me paper and ink! I will just see how much money I have got. Oh, more than a thousand!
While he is writing a letter Osip interrupts him with earnest assurances that it will be prudent to depart speedily from the town; for people have been mistaking him for somebody else, and awkward complications may ensue. It is really time to go. There are splendid horses here, and these can be secured for the journey. Khlestakov consents, tells Osip to take the letter to the post, and to obtain good posthorses. Suddenly some merchants present themselves with petitions, bringing with them gifts of sugar-loaves and wine. They pour forth bitter complaints against the governor. They accuse him of constant and outrageous extortion. They beg Khlestakov to secure his deposition from office. When they offer the sugar-loaves and the wine, Khlestakov protests that he cannot accept bribes, but if they would offer him a loan of three hundred roubles that would be another matter. They do so and go out.
[Enter Marya nervously.
Khelstakov: Why are you so frightened?
Marya: No; I am not frightened. I thought mamma
might be here. I am disturbing you in your important
Khelstakov: But your eyes are more attractive than important business.
Marya: You are talking in St. Petersburg style.
Khelstakov: May I venture to be so happy as to offer you a chair? But no; you should be offered a throne, not a chair! I offer you my love, which ever since your first glance——
Marya: Love! I do not understand love!
He kisses her on the shoulder, and, when she rises angrily to go, falls on his knees. At that moment her mother enters. With a show of indignation she orders Marya away.
Khelstakov (kneeling at her feet): Madame, you see I burn with love.
Anna Andreyevna: But permit me, I do not quite comprehend you. If I am not mistaken, you were making a proposal to my daughter?
Khelstakov: No; I am in love with you.
Anna Andreyevna: But I am married!
Khelstakov: That is nothing. Let us flee under the canopy of heaven. I crave your hand!
Marya enters, and seeing Khlestakov on his knees, shrieks. The mother scolds her for her bad manners, and declares that he was, after all, asking for the daughter's hand. Then enters the governor. He breathlessly begins to bewail the base, lying conduct of the merchants who have been slandering him, and swears he is innocent of oppressing anybody.
To his profound amazement, Anna informs her husband that the great man has honoured them by asking for their daughter's hand. On recovering from his amazement, he sees the couple kissing, and gives them his blessing. Osip enters at this juncture to say the horses are ready, and Khlestakov informs the governor that he is only off to visit for a day a rich uncle. He will quickly return. He presently rides off after affectionate farewell expressions on both sides.
Scene.—As before. The Governor, Anna Andreyevna, and Marya. A police-officer enters.
Governor (addressing the policeman): Ivan Karpovitch, summon the merchants here, brother. Complaining of me, indeed! Cursed lot of Jews! Little turtle doves! Ascertain who brought petitions; and take care to let them know how heaven has honoured the governor. His daughter is going to marry a man without an equal in the world; who can achieve everything, everything, everything. Let everybody know! Shout it out to everybody! Ring the bells! Devil take it; now that at length I triumph, triumph I will!
The police-officer retires. The governor and Anna indulge in roseate prospects of their coming prosperity. Of course they will not stay in these mean surroundings, but will remove to St. Petersburg. Suddenly the merchants enter. The governor receives them with the utmost indignation, assails them with a shower of vituperation. They abjectly entreat pardon. They promise to make amends by sending very handsome presents, and they are enjoined not to forget to do so. The wedding gifts are to be worthy of the occasion. The merchants retire crestfallen, and callers stream in with profuse congratulations. Anna, with studied haughtiness, makes them fully understand that the family will now be far above them all. All the people secretly express to each other their hatred and contempt for the governor and his family.
Postmaster (breathlessly entering with an open letter in his hand): An astonishing fact, gentlemen! The official which we took for an inspector-general is not one! I have discovered this from a letter which he wrote and which I saw was addressed "Post Office Street." So, as I said to myself that he had been reporting to the authorities something he had found wrong in the postal department, I felt a supernatural impulse constraining me to open the letter.
Governor: You dared to open the letter of so powerful a personage?
Postmaster: That is just the joke; that he is neither powerful nor a personage. I will read the letter. (Reads) "I hasten to inform you, my dear Tryapitchkin, of my experiences. I was cleared out of everything on the way by an infantry captain, so that an innkeeper wanted to put me in prison; when, owing to my Petersburg appearance and dress, the whole town suddenly took me for the governor-general. So now I am living with the governor, enjoy myself, and flirt with his wife and daughter. These people all lend me as much money as ever I please. The governor is as stupid as a grey gelding. The postmaster is a tippler. The charity commissioner is a pig in a skull-cap."
Governor: I am crushed—crushed—completely crushed. Catch him!
Postmaster: How can we catch him? I, as if purposely, specially ordered for him the very best post-carriage and three horses.
Governor: What an old fool I am! I have been thirty years in the service; not a tradesman nor contractor could cheat me; rogues upon rogues have I outwitted; three governors-general have I deceived!
Anna Andreyevna: But this cannot be, Antosha. He is engaged to Mashenka.
Governor (enraged): Engaged! Rubbish! Look, look; all the world, all Christendom, all of you look how the governor is fooled! Fool, fool; old driveller that I am! (Shakes his fist at himself) Ah, you fat-nose! Taking a rag for a man of rank! And now he is jingling his bells along the road. Who first said he was an inspector-general? Answer!
[All point to Bobchinski and Dobchinski, who fall to
accusing each other. A gendarme enters.
Gendarme: The inspector-general sent by imperial command has arrived, and requires you to attend him immediately. He awaits you at the inn.
[Thunderstruck at this announcement, the whole group
remained as if petrified, and the curtain falls.
[C] Nicolai Vasilieyitch Gogol is famous not only as the prince of Russian humorists, but as the real founder of both the modern drama and the novel in Russian literature. He was born on March 31, 1809, in the province of Poltava, in South, or "Little," Russia, and died at Moscow on March 3, 1852. His life was replete with romantic episodes. After a short career on the stage, in St. Petersburg, followed by the tenure of a minor Government office, he returned to the South, and at once found his true vocation and achieved a wide popularity by a collection of stories and sketches of Cossack life, entitled "Evenings at a Farm House," which appeared in 1830. Other "Cossack Tales" rapidly followed, including the famous "Taras Bulba"; in recognition of which, and of his project for writing a history of Russia in the Middle Ages, he was rewarded with a chair of history at St. Petersburg. This he held but for a short time, however. Turning his attention to comedy, Gogol now produced the drama "The Inspector-General" ("Revizor") in 1836, the play achieving a tremendous success on the stage in the spring of the same year, whilst in 1842 his novel entitled "Dead Souls" embodied the fruits of the same idea in fiction. The play is intended to bring a scathing indictment against the corruptions and abuses of officialism and administration. The following epitome has been prepared from the original Russian.
Sir Charles Marlow
Scene I.—Mr. Hardcastle's house. MR. and MRS. Hardcastle.
Mrs. Hardcastle: I vow, Mr. Hardcastle, I hate such old-fashioned trumpery.
Hardcastle: And I love it; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine, and I believe you'll own I've been pretty fond of an old wife.
Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, you're for ever at your old wife. I'm not so old as you'd make me. I was twenty when my son Tony was born, and he's not come to years of discretion yet.
Hardcastle: Nor ever will, I dare answer; you've taught him finely. Alehouse and stable are his only schools.
Mrs. Hardcastle: Poor boy, anyone can see he's consumptive.
[Tony is heard hallooing.
Hardcastle: Oh, very consumptive!
[Tony crosses, and Mrs. Hardcastle follows him out.
Enter Kate Hardcastle.
Hardcastle: Blessings on my pretty innocence! What a quantity of superfluous silk hast thou got about thee, girl!
Kate: But in the evening I am to wear my housewife's dress to please you; you know our agreement, sir.
Hardcastle: By the bye, I shall have to try your obedience this very evening. In fact, Kate, I expect the young gentleman I have chosen to be your husband, this very day; and my old friend his father, Sir Charles Marlow, soon after him. I shall not control your choice, but I am told that he is of an excellent understanding.
Kate: Is he?
Hardcastle: Very generous.
Kate: I believe I shall like him.
Hardcastle: Young and brave.
Kate: I'm sure I shall like him.
Hardcastle: And very handsome.
Kate: Say no more; he's mine.
Hardcastle: And, to crown all, he's one of the most reserved and bashful young fellows in the world.
Kate: That word has undone all the rest, still I think I'll have him. (Exit Hardcastle.) Reserved and sheepish. Can't he be cured? (Enter Miss Neville.) I'm glad you came, my dear. I am threatened with a lover, the son of Sir Charles Marlow.
Miss Neville: The most intimate friend of Mr. Hastings, my admirer; and such a character. Among ladies of reputation the modestest man alive, but with others——
Miss Hardcastle: And has my mother been courting you for my brother Tony, as usual? I could almost love him for hating you so.
Miss Neville: It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anyone but himself.
Scene II.—An alehouse. Tony Lumpkin carousing with the village riff-raff. Marlow and Hastings arrive, and inquire the way to Mr. Hardcastle's house. Tony tells them they cannot possibly reach the house that night, but directs them to it as an inn.
Tony: The old Buck's Head on the hill, one of the best inns in the whole county. But the landlord is rich and just going to leave off business; so he wants to be thought a gentleman, and will be for giving you his company. Ecod, he'll persuade you that his mother was an alderman, and his aunt a justice of the peace. I'll just step myself, and show you a piece of the way.
Scene.—The hall of Hardcastle's house. Marlow and Hastings have just arrived at the supposed inn, and the supposed innkeeper is paying hospitable attention to their belongings. Enter Marlow and Hastings.
Hastings: Upon my word, a very well-looking house; antique, but creditable.
Marlow: The usual fate of a large mansion. Having just ruined the master by good housekeeping, it at last comes to levy contributions as an inn.
Hastings: Good and bad, you have lived pretty much among them; and yet, with all your experience you have never acquired any show of assurance. How shall you behave to the lady you have come down to visit?
Marlow: As I behave to all other ladies. A barmaid, or a milliner—but to me a modest woman dressed out in her finery is the most tremendous object in creation. An impudent fellow may counterfeit modesty, but I'll be hanged if a modest man can counterfeit impudence. I shall bow very low, answer yes and no, and I don't think I shall venture to look her in the face. The fact is, I have really come down to forward your affair, not mine. Miss Neville loves you, the family don't know you, as my friend you are sure of a reception, and——Here comes mine host to interrupt us.
Hardcastle: Heartily welcome once more, gentlemen; which is Mr. Marlow? Sir, you are heartily welcome.
Marlow: He has got our names from the servants
[Marlow and Hastings converse together, ostentatiously ignoring Hardcastle's attempts to join in with a story of Marlborough at the siege of Denain.
Marlow: My good friend, a glass of that punch would help us to carry on the siege.
Hardcastle: Punch sir! (Aside) This is the most unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with. Well, here, Mr. Marlow, here's to our better acquaintance.
Marlow: A very impudent fellow, but a character;
I'll humour him. Sir, my service to you. (They drink.)
Well, now, what have you in the house for supper?
Hardcastle: For supper! (Aside) Was ever such a request to a man in his own house!
Marlow: Yes, sir; supper. I begin to feel an appetite.
Hardcastle: Sure, such a brazen dog——Sir, I believe the bill of fare is drawn out; you shall see it. (The menu is produced and discussed in scathing terms. Then Marlow insists on seeing himself that the beds are properly aired.) Well, sir, I will attend you. This may be modern modesty, but I never saw anything so like old-fashioned impudence.
[Exeunt Hardcastle and Marlow.
Hastings: This fellow's civilities begin to grow troublesome. (Enter Miss Neville.) Miss Neville, by all that's happy!
Miss Neville: My dear Hastings!
Hastings: But how could I have hoped to meet my dearest Constance at an inn?
Miss Neville: An inn! You mistake. My aunt, my guardian, lives here. How could you think this house an inn?
Hastings: My friend, Mr. Marlow, and I were directed hither by a young fellow——
Miss Neville: One of my hopeful cousin's tricks.
Hastings: We must keep up the deception with Marlow; else he will fly.
Hastings has planned to elope with Miss Neville; she wishes first to get into her own hands her jewelry, which is in Mrs. Hardcastle's possession. As they complete their plot Marlow enters.
Hastings: My dear Marlow, the most fortunate event! Let me present Miss Constance Neville. She and Miss Hardcastle have just alighted to take fresh horses. Miss Hardcastle will be here directly. Isn't it fortunate?
Marlow: Oh, yes; very fortunate, a most joyful encounter; but our dresses, George! To-morrow will be every bit as convenient. Let it be to-morrow.
Hastings: Pshaw, man! Courage, courage! It is but the first plunge.
[Enter Kate as from a walk. Hastings introduces
Kate (after a pause): I am glad of your safe arrival, sir. I am told you had some accidents by the way.
Marlow: A few, madam. Yes, we had some. Yes, a good many. But should be sorry, madam—I mean glad—of any accidents that are so agreeably concluded. George, sure you won't go?
Hastings: You don't consider, man, that we are to manage a little tête-à-tête of our own.
[Exeunt Hastings and Miss Neville.
Marlow: I am afraid, madam, I—hem—grow tiresome.
Kate: Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave consideration. You were going to observe——
Marlow: I was about to observe, madam—I was—I protest, I forgot——
Kate: Something about hypocrisy—this age of hypocrisy.
Marlow: Ah, yes. In this age of hypocrisy there are few who—a—a—— But I see Miss Neville expects us; shall I——
Kate: I'll follow you. If I could teach him a little confidence!
Mrs. Hardcastle, Miss Neville, Hastings and Tony enter. In pursuance of their plot, Constance engages Tony in a determined flirtation, to his extreme disgust, while Hastings wins the heart of Mrs. Hardcastle by extravagant flatteries. On the pretext of bringing the "dear, sweet, pretty, provoking, undutiful boy" to a better mind, Hastings gets rid of the ladies, and then offers to take Miss Neville off Tony's hands. Tony joyfully engages to help the elopement, and procure Miss Neville's jewels.
Scene.—As before. Enter Tony with a casket.
Tony: Ecod, I've got 'em. Cousin Con's necklaces, bobs and all. My mother shan't cheat the poor souls out of their fortin. Here's (enter Hastings) your sweetheart's [Pg 45] jewels. If I hadn't a key to every drawer in my mother's bureau—— Never you mind me. Zounds, here she comes. Keep 'em. Morrice! Prance!
[Exit Hastings. Enter Miss Neville, and Mrs. Hardcastle,
who refuses to let her ward have her jewels.
Mrs. Hardcastle: They are missing, I assure you. My son knows they are missing, and not to be found.
Tony: I can bear witness to that. I'll take my oath on't.
Mrs. Hardcastle: In the meantime you can use my garnets.
Miss Neville: I detest garnets.
Tony: Don't be a fool! If she gives 'em you, take what you can get. I've stolen your jewels out of the bureau. She's found it out, ecod, by the noise. Fly to your spark, and he'll tell you all about it. Vanish!
[Exit Miss Neville.
Kate has reported Marlow's bashfulness to Hardcastle, who has told another tale. She has since learnt Marlow's blunder, and that he has taken her in her "housewife's dress" for the barmaid. She has resolved to test him in this character. She enters at the same time as Marlow, who is studying his notebook.
Kate: Did you call, sir?
Marlow (not looking up): No, child.
Kate: Perhaps it was the other gentleman?
Marlow: No, no, child, I tell you! (Looking up.) That is—yes, I think I did call. I vow, child, you're vastly handsome.
Kate: Oh, la, sir, you'll make me ashamed!
Marlow: Suppose I should call for a taste of the nectar of your lips?
Kate: Nectar? Nectar? We keep no French wines. (He tries to kiss her.) Pray keep your distance. I'm sure you didn't treat Miss Hardcastle so. Are you a favourite among the ladies?
Marlow: Yes, my dear. At the ladies' club up in town they call me their Agreeable Rattle. Do you ever work, child?
Kate: Ay, sure. There's not a screen or a quilt in the house but bears witness to that.
Marlow: You must show me your embroidery.
[As he seizes her hand, Hardcastle enters. Exit Marlow.
Kate persuades her father to give her an hour
to clear Marlow's character.
Scene.—As before. Hastings has passed over the jewels to Marlow's care. The unconscious Marlow has told him that the servant by his order has placed them in charge of the landlady. Enter Hardcastle, solus.
Hardcastle: My house is turned topsy-turvy. His servants are drunk already. For his father's sake, I'll be calm. (Enter Marlow.) Mr. Marlow, sir, the conduct of your servants is insufferable. Their manner of drinking is setting a very bad example.
Marlow: I protest, my good friend, that's no fault of mine. They had my positive orders to drink as much as they could.
Hardcastle: Zounds, I shall go distracted! I'll stand it no longer! I desire that you and your drunken pack shall leave my house directly.
Marlow: Leave your house? I never heard such cursed impudence. Bring me my bill.
Hardcastle: Nor I, confound me if ever I did!
Marlow: My bill, I say.
Hardcastle: Young man, young man, from your father's letter I expected a well-bred, modest visitor, not a coxcomb and a bully. But he will be down here presently, and shall hear more of it.
Marlow: How's this? Surely I have not mistaken the house? Everything looks like an inn. The barmaid, too. (Enter Kate.) A word with you, child. Who are you?
Kate: A poor relation, sir, who looks after the guests.
Marlow: That is, you're the barmaid of this inn.
Kate: Inn? Oh, la! What brought that into your head? Old Mr. Hardcastle's house an inn!
Marlow: Mr. Hardcastle's house? Mr. Hardcastle's? So all's out. I shall be laughed at over the whole town. To mistake this house of all others—and my father's old friend. What must he think of me! And may I be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the barmaid. I mistook—but it's all over. This house I no more show my face in. By heaven, she weeps! But the difference of our birth, fortune, education—an honorable connection would be impossible, and I would never harbour a thought of any other. Farewell. [Exit.
Kate: He shall not go, if I have power to detain him. I will undeceive my father, and he shall laugh him out of his resolution.
The second couple are about to take flight without the jewels, by Tony's help, when he receives a note from Hastings, which—not knowing its source—he hands to his mother to decipher. She resolves to carry Miss Neville off forthwith, to place her in charge of her old Aunt Pedigree, in the coach prepared for the elopement. Tony being ordered to attend them on horseback, hits on an expedient which he does not reveal, but contents himself with bidding Hastings meet him two hours hence in the garden. The party start on their journey.
Scene I.—Sir Charles Marlow has arrived, and the two elders have been making merry over the blunder; both are now eager for the marriage. But they are mystified by Marlow's assertion that he is indifferent to MISS Hardcastle, and his assertion is corroborated by what Hardcastle saw.
Scene II.—The back of the garden. Enter Tony, booted and spurred, meeting Hastings.
Tony: Ecod, five-and-twenty miles in two hours and a half is no such bad driving.
Hastings: But where are your fellow-passengers? Where have you left the ladies?
Tony: Why, where I found 'em! Led 'em astray, man. There's not a pond or a slough within five miles of the place but they can tell the taste of; and finished with the horsepond at the back of the garden. Mother's confoundedly frightened, and thinks herself forty miles off. So now, if your own horses be ready, you can whip off with my cousin, and no one to budge an inch after you.
Hastings: My dear friend, how can I be grateful.
Tony: Here she comes—got up from the pond.
[Enter Mrs. Hardcastle.
Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, Tony, I'm killed—shook—battered to death! That last jolt has done for me. Whereabouts are we?
Tony: Crackskull Common by my guess, forty miles from home. Don't be afraid. Is that a man galloping behind us? Don't be afraid.
Mrs. Hardcastle: Oh, there's a man coming! We are undone!
Tony (aside): Father-in-law, by all that's unlucky! Hide yourself, and keep close; if I cough it will mean danger.
Hardcastle: I am sure I heard voices. What, Tony? Are you back already? (Tony laughs.)
Mrs. Hardcastle (running forward): Oh, lud; he'll murder my poor boy! Here, good gentleman, whet your rage on me. Take my money, take my life, good Mr. Highwayman, but spare my child.
Hardcastle: Sure, Dorothy, you have lost your wits? This is one of your tricks, you graceless rogue. Don't you remember me, and the mulberry-tree, and the horsepond?
Mrs. Hardcastle: I shall remember it as long as I live. And this is your doing—you——
Tony: Ecod, mother, all the parish says you've spoilt me, so you may take the fruits on't.
Miss Neville thinks better of the elopement, and resolves to appeal to Mr. Hardcastle's influence with his wife. This improved plan is carried to a successful issue, with great satisfaction to Tony Lumpkin.
Scene III.—The hall. Sir Charles Marlow and Hardcastle witness, from concealment, the formal proposal of Marlow to make the supposed "poor relation" his wife. They break in.
Sir Charles: Charles, Charles, how thou hast deceived me! Is this your indifference?
Hardcastle: Your cold contempt? Your formal interview? What have you to say?
Marlow: That I'm all amazement. What does it mean?
Hardcastle: It means that you say and unsay things at pleasure; that you can address a lady in private and deny it in public; that you have one story for us and another for my daughter.
Marlow: Daughter? This lady your daughter? Oh, the devil! Oh—!
Kate: In which of your characters may we address you? The faltering gentleman who looks on the ground and hates hypocrisy, or the bold, forward Agreeable Rattle of the ladies' club?
Marlow: Zounds, this is worse than death! I must
Hardcastle: But you shall not! I see it was all a mistake. She'll forgive you; we'll all forgive you. Courage, man! And if she makes as good a wife as she has a daughter, I don't believe you'll ever repent your bargain. So now to supper. To-morrow we shall gather all the poor of this parish about us; the mistakes of the night shall be crowned with a merry morning.
[D] The Life of Goldsmith, by John Forster, may be found in Volume IX of the World's Greatest Books (see also Vol. IV, p. 275). "The Mistakes of a Night, or She Stoops to Conquer," appeared at Covent Garden, in March, 1773. So convinced was George Colman that the public would endure nothing but sentiment, that he could hardly be induced to accept the play, and was extremely nervous about its success, almost until the fall of the curtain on the first night. Nevertheless, its success was immediate and decisive, and it became established as a stock piece. The play loses nothing by the suppression of sentimental passages between Hastings and Miss Neville, without which Colman would certainly have declined it altogether. Apart from the main argument—the wooing of Kate Hardcastle—the plot turns on the points that Tony Lumpkin is the son of Mrs. Hardcastle by her first marriage, and that Constance Neville is her niece and ward, not her husband's.
[E] Heinrich Heine was born on December 13, 1797, at Düsseldorf, the son of Jewish parents. After quitting school he was sent to Frankfort to the banking establishment of an uncle, but a commercial career failed to appeal to him, and in 1819 he entered the University of Bonn, with a view of studying for law. His thoughts, however, were given to poetry; and 1822 saw the publication of his first volume of poems. Up to this time he was largely dependent upon the generosity of his uncle. Thus, in order to fulfil his obligations, he entered the University of Göttingen, where he obtained his degree of law, having previously qualified himself for practice by renouncing the Jewish faith for Christianity. A voluminous prose-writer, a wonderful satirist, and an ardent politician, Heine's present-day fame rests largely on his poetry, and especially the wonderful lyrical pieces. "Atta Troll" (1846), which has been described as the "Swan-song of Romanticism," was written in the hey-day of his activities, and admirably conveys something of the temper and genius of its many-sided author. Heine died on February 17. 1856.
To appease Phoebus, Agamemnon restored the captive daughter of the sun-god's priest, allotted to him for spoil; but took Briseis from Achilles to replace her. Achilles vowed to render no more aid to the Greeks, telling his mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, what had befallen, calling on Jove to aid his vengeance.
To satisfy Thetis, Jupiter sent a false dream to Agamemnon, the king of men, persuading him that Troy should now fall to his attack. Beguiled by the dream, Agamemnon set forth in battle array the whole Greek host, save that Achilles and his followers were absent. And the whole host of Troy came forth to meet them. Then Menelaus challenged Paris to single combat; for the twain were the cause of the war, seeing that Paris had stolen away Helen, the wife of Menelaus. Truce was struck while the combat should take place. Paris hurled his javelin, but did not pierce his foe's shield; Menelaus, having called on Jove,
Thereupon the truce was treacherously broken by Pandarus, who, incited by Minerva, wounded Menelaus with an arrow; and the armies closed with each other. Great deeds were done by Diomedes on the Greek side. But Hector had gone back to Troy to rouse Paris; on the walls his wife Andromache saw him.
After this, Hector fought with Ajax, and neither had the better. And after that the Greeks set a rampart and a ditch about their ships. Also, Agamemnon would have bidden the Greeks depart altogether, but Diomedes withstood him. And in the fighting that followed, Agamemnon showed himself the best man among the Greeks, seeing that neither Achilles nor Diomedes joined the fray; and the Trojans had the better, driving the Greeks back to the rampart, and bursting through, so that they were like to have burnt the Greek ships where they lay, led on by Hector. To and fro swayed the tide of battle; for while Jove slept, Neptune and Juno gave force and courage to the Greeks, and the Trojans were borne back; Hector being sore hurt with a stone cast by Ajax. But Jove, awaking, restored Hector's strength, sending Apollo to him. Then Apollo and Hector led
The archery of Teucer, brother of Ajax, was dealing destruction among the Trojans, when Jove broke the bow-string; and thereafter the god stirred
On the Grecian side Ajax
It seemed that even Ajax would be overborne. But Patroclus, the loved friend of Achilles, saw this destruction coming upon the Greeks, and he earnestly besought Achilles, if he would not be moved to sally forth to the rescue himself, to suffer him to go out against the Trojans, bearing the arms of Achilles and leading his Myrmidons into the fray. Which leave Achilles granted him.
Bearing the armour of Achilles, save the spear which none other could wield, Patroclus sped forth, leading the Myrmidons.
The Trojans, taking Patroclus for Achilles, were now driven before him and the other Grecian chiefs. Patroclus slew Sarpedon, king of Lycia, and the fight raged furiously about the corse. The Trojans fled, Patroclus pursued. At last Phoebus Apollo smote his armour from him; Euphorbus thrust him through from behind, and Hector slew him. Ajax and Menelaus came to rescue Patroclus' body; Hector fled, but had already stripped off the armour of Achilles, which he now put on in place of his own. Again the battle waxed furious about the dead Patroclus until Menelaus and Meriones bore the corpse while the two Ajaces stood guard.
Now, when the ill news was brought to Achilles, he fell into a great passion of grief; which lamentation Thetis, his mother, heard from the sea-deeps; and came to him, bidding him not go forth to the war till she had brought him new armour from Vulcan. Nevertheless, at the bidding of Iris, he arose:
In this wise was the dead Patroclus brought back to Achilles. But Thetis went to Vulcan and besought him, and he wrought new armour for Achilles—a shield most marvellous, and a cuirass and helmet—which she bore to her son. And the wrath of Achilles against Agamemnon was assuaged; and they two were reconciled at a gathering of the chiefs. And when by the counsel of Ulysses they had all well broken their fast, the Greeks went forth to the battle, Achilles leading. Now, in this contest, by Jove's decree, all the Olympian gods were suffered to take part.
Now Achilles fell upon the Trojan host, slaying one after another of their mighty men; but Æneas and Hector the gods shielded from him. Twelve he took captive, to sacrifice at the funeral of Patroclus. And he would have stormed into Troy itself but that Phoebus deceived him, and all the Trojans fled within the walls save Hector. But when he saw Achilles coming, cold fear shook Hector from his stand.
They ran thrice about the walls, until Hector, beguiled by Athene in the form of his brother Deiphobus, stayed to fight Achilles. Having cast his lance in vain,
Achilles smote Hector through with his javelin, and thus death closed his eyes. Then, in his wrath for the death of Patroclus, Achilles bound the dead Hector by his feet to his chariot,
Which piteous sight was seen from the walls by Priam and Hecuba; but Andromache did not know that Hector had stayed without, until the clamour flew
Thus all Troy mourned; but Achilles dragged the slain Hector to the slain Patroclus, and did despite to his body in his [Pg 77] wrath; and made ready to hold high obsequies for his friend. And on the morrow
Fit feastings were held, and games with rich prizes, racings and wrestlings, wherein the might of Ajax could not overcome the skill of Ulysses, nor his skill the might of Ajax. Then Thetis by the will of the gods bade Achilles cease from his wrath against Hector; and suffer the Trojans to redeem his body for a ransom. And Iris came to Priam where the old king sate: the princesses his seed, the princesses his sons' fair wives, all mourning by. She bade him offer ransom to Achilles; and then, guided by Hermes, Priam came to the tent of Achilles, bearing rich gifts, and he kneeled before him, clasping his knees, and besought him, saying:
Moved by compassion, and by the message which Thetis had brought him, Achilles accepted the ransom, and suffered Priam to bear away the body, granting a twelve days' truce. And Troy mourned for him, Andromache lamenting and Hecuba, his mother. And on this wise spake Helen herself.
So the body of Hector was laid upon the fire, and was burnt; and his ashes were gathered into an urn of gold and laid in a grave.
[F] Of the personality of Homer, the maker of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," those great epic poems which were the common heritage of all Greeks, we have no knowledge. Tradition pictures him as blind and old. Seven cities claimed to be his birthplace. Probably he lived in the ninth century b.c., since the particular stages of social life which he portrays probably belong to that era. Beyond this, all is conjecture. The poems were not written down till a later date, when their authorship was already a matter of tradition; and when what we may call the canon of the text of the epics was laid down in the sixth century b.c., it may be readily supposed that they were not in the exact form which the master-poet himself had given them. Hence the ingenuity of the modern commentator has endeavoured to resolve Homer into an indefinite number of ballad-mongers, whose ballads were edited into their existing unity. On the whole, this view may be called Teutonic. Of the "Iliad," it suffices to say that it relates events immediately preceding the fall of Troy, at the close of the tenth year of the siege undertaken by the Greeks on account of the abduction of Helen from Menelaus by Paris. Of Chapman's translation we shall speak in the introduction to the "Odyssey."
Years had passed since the fall of Troy, yet alone Ulysses came not to his home in Ithaca. Therefore many suitors came to woo his wife Penelope, devouring his substance with riotous living, sorely grieving her heart, and that of her young son, Telemachus. But Ulysses the nymph Calypso had held for seven years an unwilling guest in the island of Ogygia. And now the gods were minded to bring home the man—
Then came Pallas Athene to Telemachus, and bade him take ship that he might get tidings of his sire. And he spake words of reproach to the company of suitors. To whom
The suitors suffered Telemachus to depart, though they repented after; and he came with Athene, in disguise of Mentor, to Nestor at Pylos, and thence to Menelaus at Sparta, who told him how he had laid hold on Proteus, the seer, and learnt from him first of the slaying of his own brother Agamemnon; and, secondly, concerning Ulysses,
Laden with rich gifts, Telemachus set out on his return home, while the suitors sought to way-lay him. And, meantime. Calypso, warned by Hermes, let Ulysses depart from Ogygia on a raft. Which, being overwhelmed by storms, he yet made shore on the isle of Phæacia; where, finding shelter, he fell asleep. But Pallas visited the Princess Nausicaa in a dream.
She went with her maidens, with raiment for cleansing, to the river, where, having washed the garments,
He prayed her then for some garment, and that she would show him the town. Then she, calling her maidens, they brought for him food and oil and raiment, and went apart while he should cleanse and array himself.
Then, fearing the gossip of the market-place, she bade him follow afoot with her maidens, giving him directions how he should find her father's palace, which entering,
Nausicaa and her maidens went forward, Ulysses following after a time; whom Pallas met, and told him of the King Alcinous and the Queen Arete. Then he, being wrapped in a cloud which she had set about him, entered unmarked; and, the cloud vanishing, embraced the knees of Arete in supplication, as one distressed by many labours. And they all received him graciously. Now, as they sat at meat, a bard sang of the fall of Troy; and Alcinous, the king, marked how Ulysses wept at the tale; and then Ulysses told them who he was, and of his adventures, on this wise.
After many wanderings, we came to the isle of the Cyclops, and I, with twelve of my men, to his cave. He coming home bespake us.
At morn, he drove forth the flocks, but barred the entry again, having devoured two more of my comrades. But we made ready a great stake for thrusting out his one eye. And when he came home at night, driving in all his sheep,
Other Cyclops gathered, to inquire who had harmed him; but he—
But we, ranging the sheep three abreast, were borne out under their bellies, and drove them in haste down to our ship; and having put out, I cried aloud:
So we escaped; but the Cyclop stirred up against us the wrath of his father Neptune. Thereafter we came to the caves of Æolus, lord of the winds, and then to the land of the giants called Laestrygones, whence there escaped but one ship of all our company.
She called them in, but Eurylochus, abiding without, saw her feast them, and then turn them with her wand into swine. From him hearing these things I hastened thither. But Hermes met me, and gave me of the herb Moly, to be a protection against her spells, and wise counsel withal. So when she had feasted me she touched me with her wand.
Now she restored them, and knowing the will of the gods, made good cheer for us all, so that we abode with her for one year. Nor might we depart thence till I had made journey to the abode of Hades to get speech of Tiresias the Seer. Whereby I saw made shades of famous folk, past recounting. Thence returning, Circe suffered us to be gone; with warning of perils before us, and of how we should avoid them.
And escaped only in part. Then came they to the island where are fed the Oxen of the Sun; and because his comrades would slay them, destruction came upon them, and Ulysses alone came alive to the isle of Calypso.
Now, when Ulysses had made an end, it pleased Alcinous and all the Phæacians that they should speed him home with many rich gifts. So they set him in a ship, and bore him to Ithaca, and laid him on the shore, yet sleeping, with all the goodly gifts about him, and departed. But he, waking, wist not where he was till Pallas came to him. Who counselled him how he should deal with the Wooers, and disguised him as a man ancient and worn.
Then Ulysses sought and found the faithful swine-herd Eumæus, who made him welcome, not knowing who he was, and told him of the ill-doing of the suitors. But Pallas went and brought back Telemachus from Sparata, evading the Wooers' ambush.
Eumæus departing, Pallas restored Ulysses to his own likeness, and he made himself known to Telemachus, and instructed him.
Telemachus welcomed the wayworn suppliant; the feasting Wooers, too, sent him portions of meat, save Antinous, who
The very Wooers were wroth. Which clamour Penelope hearing, she sent for Eumæus, and bade him summon the stranger to her; but he would not come till evening, by reason of the suitors, from whom he had discourteous treatment.
Now Ulysses coming to Penelope, did not discover himself, but told her made-up tales of his doings; as, how he had seen Ulysses, and of a robe he had worn which Penelope knew for one she had given him; so that she gave credence to his words. Then she bade call the ancient nurse Euryclea, that she might wash the stranger's feet. But by a scar he came to be discovered by the aged dame. Her he charged with silence and to let no ear in all the court more know his being there. As for Penelope, she told him of her intent to promise herself to the man who could wield Ulysses' bow, knowing well that none had the strength and skill.
On the morrow came Penelope to the Wooers, bearing the bow of her lord.
Then Telemachus set up the axe-heads, and himself made vain essay, the more to tempt the Wooers. And while they after him strove all vainly, Ulysses went out and bespake Eumæus and another herd, Philoetius.
Then Ulysses claiming to make trial of the bow, the Wooers would have denied him; but Penelope would not; whereas Telemachus made a vow that it was for himself and none other to decide, and the guest should make trial. But he, handling it while they mocked, with ease
Then the rest cried out upon him with threats, while they made vain search for weapons in the hall.
Then the Wooers made at Ulysses and Telemachus, who smote down first Eurymachus and then Amphinomus. But a way to the armoury having been left, the Wooers got arms by aid of a traitor; whom Eumæus and Philoetius smote, and then came to Ulysses and his son. Moreover, Pallas also came to their help; so that the Wooers, being routed—
Now all the Wooers were slain, and they of the household that were their accomplices; and the chamber was purified.
But as for the Wooers, Hermes gathered the souls of them together, and, as bats gibbering in a cavern rise, so came they forth gibbering and went down to the House of Hades.
[G] Of the "Odyssey" it may be said with certainty that its composition was later than that of the "Iliad," but it cannot be affirmed that both poems were not composed within the life-time of one man. It may be claimed that the best criticism declines to reject the identity of authorship of the poet of the "Iliad" and the poet of the "Odyssey," while admitting the probability that the work of other poets was incorporated in his. We have given our readers the translation by George Chapman, Shakespeare's contemporary, with which may be compared the fine modern prose translation by Professor Butcher and Mr. Andrew Lang. On the other hand, Alexander Pope's verse rendering has nothing Homeric about it. It may be regretted that Chapman did not in the "Odyssey" retain the swinging metre which he used in the "Iliad." The poem relates the adventures of Odysseus (latinised into Ulysses) on his homeward voyages, after the fall of Troy.
[H] Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus), who was born near Venusia, in Apulia, in 65 b.c., and died in 8 b.c., was a southern Italian. When twenty, Horace was a student of philosophy at Athens. A period of poverty-stricken Bohemianism followed his return to Rome, till acquaintance with Virgil opened a path into the circle of Mæcenas and of the emperor. His literary career falls into three divisions—that of his "Epodes" and "Satires," down to 30 b.c.; that of his lyrics, down to 23 b.c., when the first three books of the "Odes" appeared; and that of the reflective and literary "Epistles," which include the famous "Art of Poetry," and, with sundry official odes, belong to his later years. Horatian "satire," it should be observed, does not imply ferocious personal onslaughts, but a miscellany containing good-humoured ridicule of types, and lively sketches of character and incident. So varied a performance as satirist, lyrist, moralist and critic, coupled with his vivid interest in mankind, help to account for the appeal which Horace has made to all epochs, countries, and ranks. Of the translations of Horace here given, some are by Prof. Wight Duff, and have been specially made for this selection, whilst a few are by Milton, Dryden, Cowper, and Francis.
Scene.—Rome, on the Sacred Way. The poet is walking down the street, composing some trifle, in a brown study, when a person, known to him only by name, rushes up and seises his hand.
Bore (effusively): How d'ye do, my dear fellow?
Horace (politely): Nicely at present. I'm at your service, sir. (Horace walks on, and as the Bore keeps following, tries to choke him off.) You don't want anything, do you?
Bore: You must make my acquaintance, I'm a savant.
Horace: Then I'll think the more of you. (Horace, anxious to get away, walks fast one minute, halts the next, whispers something to his attendant slave, and is bathed in perspiration all over. Then, quietly to himself) Lucky Bolanus, with your hot temper!
Bore (whose chatter on things in general, and about the streets of Rome in particular, has been received with dead silence): You're frightfully keen to be off. I've noticed it all along. But it's no good. I'm going to stick to you right through. I'll escort you from here to your destination.
Horace (deprecatingly): No need for you to make such a detour. (Inventing fibs as he goes along) There's someone I want to look up—a person you don't know, [Pg 96] on the other side of the river—yes, far away—he's confined to bed—near Cæsar's Park.
Bore: Oh, I've nothing to do, and I don't dislike exercise. I'll follow you right there. (Horace is as crestfallen as a sulky donkey when an extra heavy load is dumped upon its back. The Bore continues) If I know myself, you'll not value Viscus more highly as a friend, or Varius either; for who can write verses faster, and more of them, than I can? Who's a greater master of deportment? As for my singing, it's enough to make even Hermogenes jealous!
Horace (seizing the chance of interrupting): Have you a mother—any relatives to whom your health is of moment?
Bore: Not one left. I've laid them all to rest.
Horace: Lucky people! Now I'm the sole survivor. Do for me! The melancholy fate draws near which a fortune-telling Sabellian crone once prophesied in my boyhood: "This lad neither dread poison nor hostile sword shall take off, nor pleurisy, nor cough, nor crippling gout. A chatterbox will one day be his death!"
Bore (realising that, as it is the hour for opening the law course, he must answer to his recognisances, or lose a suit to which he is a party): Oblige me with your assistance in court for a little.
Horace: Deuce take me if I've strength to hang about so long, or know any law. Besides, I'm hurrying, you know where.
Bore: I'm in a fix what to do—whether to give you up or my case.
Horace: Me, please.
Bore: Shan't! (Starts ahead of Horace, who, beaten at every point, has to follow. The other opens conversation again.) On what footing do you and Mæcenas stand?
Horace (haughtily): He has a select circle, and thoroughly [Pg 97] sound judgment.
Bore (unimpressed): Ah! No one ever made a smarter use of his chances. You'd have a powerful supporter, a capable understudy, if you'd agree to introduce your humble servant. Deuce take me if you wouldn't clear everybody out of your way.
Horace (disgusted): We don't live on the terms you fancy. No establishment is more honest than his, or more foreign to such intrigues. It does me no harm, I tell you, because this one has more money or learning than I. Everybody has his own place.
Bore: A tall story—hardly believable.
Horace: A fact, nevertheless.
Bore: You fire my anxiety all the more to be one of his intimate friends.
Horace (sarcastically): You've only got to wish. Such are your qualities, you'll carry him by storm.
Bore (on whom the irony is lost): I'll not fail myself. I'll bribe his slaves. If I find the door shut in my face I'll not give up. I'll watch for lucky moments. I'll meet him at street corners. I'll see him home. Life grants man nothing without hard work.
[Enter Fuscus, a friend of Horace. Knowing the Bore's ways, he reads the situation. Horace furtively tugs at Fuscus's gown, pinches him, nods and winks to Fuscus to rescue him. Fuscus smiles, and with a mischievous fondness for a joke, pretends he does not understand.
Horace (angry with Fuscus): Of course, you did say you wanted to talk over something with me in private.
Fuscus: Ah, yes, I remember; but I'll tell you at a more convenient season. (Inventing an excuse with mock solemnity.) To-day is the "Thirtieth Sabbath." You wouldn't affront the circumcised Jews, would you?
Horace: I have no scruples.
Fuscus: But I have. I'm a slightly weaker brother—one, of many. Pardon, I'll talk about it another time.
[Exit, leaving Horace like a victim under the knife.
Horace (to himself): To think this day should have dawned so black for me!
[Suddenly enter the Plaintiff in the suit against the Bore.
Plaintiff (loudly to the Bore): Where are you off to, you scoundrel? (To HORACE) May I call you as a witness to his contempt of court?
[Horace lets his ear be touched, according to legal form. The Bore is hauled away to court, he and the Plaintiff bawling at each other. The arrest attracts a large crowd.
Horace (quietly disappearing): What an escape! Thank Apollo!
Charles V. of Spain
Don Ruy Gomez
Date of action, 1519.
Scene—King Charles and some of his noblemen are creeping into the courtyard of the palace of Don Ruy Gomez de Silva at Saragossa. It is midnight, and the palace is dark, save for a dim light coming from a balcony window.
The King: Here will I wait till Doña Sol comes down.
Guard every entrance. And if Hernani
Attempts to fight you need not kill the man.
Brigand although he is, he shall go free,
If I can win his lady.
Don Ricardo: Shoot the hawk
If you would keep the dove. The mountaineer
Is a most desperate outlaw.
The King: Let him live.
If I were not so passionately in love
With Doña Sol I would help Hernani
To rescue her from her old guardian.
To think that Don Ruy Gomez should have kept
So beautiful a girl a prisoner,
And tried to marry her! Had Hernani
Eloped with her before I fell in love
I would have praised his courage.
[The balcony window opens, and as the noblemen retire, Doña Sol comes down.
Doña Sol: Hernani!
The King (holding her): Sweet Doña Sol.
Doña Sol: Oh, where is Hernani?
The King: I am the king, King Charles. I worship you,
And I will make you happy.
Doña Sol: Hernani!
Help! Help me, Hernani! [She tries to escape.
The King: I am your king!
I love you, Doña Sol. Come, you shall be
Doña Sol: No.
The King: Princess.
Doña Sol: No.
The King: Queen of Spain!
Yes; I will marry you if you will come.
Doña Sol: I cannot; I love Hernani.
The King: That brigand is not worthy of you. A throne
Is waiting. If you will not come with me,
My men must carry you away by force.
[While he is talking Hernani appears.
Hernani: King Charles, you are a coward and a cur!
Doña Sol (clasping him): Save me!
Hernani: I will, my love.
The King: Where are my men?
Hernani: In my hands. I have sixty followers
Waiting out there. And now a word with you.
Your father killed my father; you have stolen
My lands and titles from me; and I vowed
To kill you.
The King: Titles? Lands? Who are you, then?
Hernani: But meeting Doña Sol, I lost all thought
Of vengeance. Now I come to rescue her,
And find you in my path again—a wretch
Using his strength against a helpless girl.
Quick! Draw your sword, and prove you are a man!
The King: I am your king. I shall not fight with you.
Strike if you want to murder me.
Hernani: You think
I hold with the divinity of kings?
Now, will you fight?
[Striking him with the flat of his sword.
The King: I will not. Murder me,
You bandit, as you murder every man
That you desire to rob! Cross swords with you?
A common thief? No; get to your trade.
Creep round; assassinate me from behind!
[King Charles fixes his fierce, hawk-like eyes on the young brigand. Hernani recoils, lowers his sword; then, moved beyond himself by the strength of character [Pg 113] displayed by The King, he breaks his blade on the pavement.
Hernani: Be off, then.
The King: Very well, sir. I shall set
A price upon your head, and hound you down.
Hernani: I cannot kill you now, with Doña Sol
Looking at us. But I will keep my vow
When next we meet.
The King: Never shall you obtain
Mercy, respite, or pardon at my hands.
Doña Sol: Now let us fly.
Hernani: No; I must go alone.
It means death! Did you see King Charles's face?
It means death. Oh, my love, my sweet, true love!
You would have shared with me the wild, rough life
I lead up in the mountains: the green couch
Beneath the trees, the water from the brook.
But now I shall be hunted down and killed.
You must not come. Good-bye.
Doña Sol: Oh, Hernani!
Will you leave me like this?
Hernani: No, I will stay!
Fold your arms closely round me, love, and rest
Your dear head on my shoulder. Let us talk
In whispers, as we used to, when I came
At night beneath your window. Do you still
Remember our first meeting?
[There is a clash of bells.
Doña Sol: Hernani,
It is the tocsin!
Hernani: No; our wedding-bells.
[Shouts are heard. Lights appear in all the windows.
The noise of the bells grows louder. A mountaineer
runs in, with his sword drawn.
The Mountaineer: The streets are filled with soldiers.
Doña Sol: Save yourself!
Here is a side gate.
The Crowd (out in the street): Bring the brigand out!
Hernani: One kiss, then, and farewell.
Doña Sol (embracing him): It is our first.
Hernani: And it may be our last. Farewell, my love!
Scene—Don Ruy Gomez, an old, grey-haired, but superb-looking man, is standing in the hall of his castle in the Aragon mountains.
Don Ruy Gomez: Only an hour, and then she is my wife!
I have been jealous and unjust, and used
Some violence. But now she is my bride
She shall know how a man can love.
[A Page enters.
Page: My lord,
There is a pilgrim at the gate, who craves
Don Ruy Gomez: Let him in. On this glad day
Give friend or stranger welcome. Is there news
Page: King Charles has routed him
And killed him, so they say.
Don Ruy Gomez: Thank Heaven for that!
My cup of happiness is full. Run, boy!
Bid Doña Sol put on her wedding-gown,
And as you go admit my pilgrim guest.
[The Page retires.
Would I could let the whole world see my joy!
[Hernani enters, disguised as a pilgrim.
Hernani: To you, my lord, all peace and happiness!
Don Ruy Gomez: And peace and happiness to you, my guest!
Where are you bound for?
Hernani: For Our Lady's shrine.
[Doña Sol enters, arrayed in a wedding-dress.
Don Ruy Gomez: Here is the lady at whose shrine I pray.
My dearest bride! Where is your coronet?
You have forgotten it, and all the gems
I gave you as a wedding gift.
Hernani (in a wild, loud voice): What man
Wishes to gain ten thousand golden crowns?
This is the price set upon Hernani.
[Everyone is amazed. Tearing off his pilgrim robe, he
shows himself in the dress of a mountaineer.
I am Hernani.
Doña Sol: Ah! he is not dead!
Hernani: Ten thousand crowns for me!
Don Ruy Gomez: The sum is great.
I am not sure of all my men.
Hernani: Which one
Will sell me to King Charles? Will you? Will you?
[The retainers move away from him. Doña Sol makes an imploring gesture; she is speechless with fear.
Don Ruy Gomez: My friend, you are my guest, and I will slay
The man that dare lay hands on you. I come
Of noble race. And were you Hernani
Or Satan, I would keep the sacred law
Of hospitality. My honour is
A thing I prize above all else on earth,
And King Charles shall not stain it while I live!
Come, men, and arm, and close the castle gate.
[He goes out, followed by all his retainers. Doña Sol remains, her face white with anguish. Hernani [Pg 116] glares at her.
Hernani: So he has bought you, this old wealthy man!
Bought you outright!
Oh, God, how false and vain
All women are!
Doña Sol: When I refused the throne
Offered me by King Charles, was I then false?
Is this an ornament vain women wear
Upon their wedding day?
[She takes a dagger from her bosom.
They told me you were killed! I have been dressed
For marriage, but against the bridal night
I kept this dagger.
Hernani: Slay me with it, love!
I am unworthy of you! Blind and mad
Was I to doubt the sweetest, bravest soul
That ever walked in beauty on this earth.
Doña Sol (clasping him in her arms): My hero and my lover, and my lord,
Love me, and love me always!
Hernani: Unto death.
[As he embraces her, Don Ruy Gomez enters.
Don Ruy Gomez: Judas!
Hernani: Yes. Draw your sword and take my life.
But spare your bride, for she is innocent.
I came to carry her away, but she
Refused to follow me.
Doña Sol: It is not true.
I love him. Slay us both, or pardon us!
Don Ruy Gomez: You love him, Doña Sol? Then he must die.
[There is a sound of trumpets outside. A Page enters.
The Page: His Majesty King Charles is at the gate,
With all his army.
Don Ruy Gomez: Open to the king!
Doña Sol: Nothing can save him now!
[Don Ruy Gomez presses a spring in the wall, and a door opens into a hiding-place.
Don Ruy Gomez (to Hernani): Here you are safe.
Hernani: Surrender me! I am a prisoner now,
And not a guest.
[He enters the hiding-place. Don Ruy Gomez closes it.
The Page: His Majesty, the King!
[King Charles enters, followed by his soldiers. Doña Sol covers herself hastily in her bridal veil.
The King (to the soldiers): Seize all the keys, and guard the gates!
(To Don Ruy Gomez) My lord,
I hear that you are sheltering my foe,
The brigand Hernani.
Don Ruy Gomez: Sire, that is true.
The King: I want his head—or yours.
Don Ruy Gomez: He is my guest.
I come of men who are not used to sell
The head of any guest, even to their king.
The King: Why, man, he is your rival! You resolved
To help me hunt him down. You gave your word.
Don Ruy Gomez: But now he is my guest.
The King: He shall be found,
Though every stone in all your castle walls
Fall ere I find him.
Don Ruy Gomez: Raze my castle, then;
I cannot play the traitor.
The King: Well, two heads
Are better, some men say, than one. My lord,
I must have yours as well as Hernani's.
Arrest this man!
[As the soldiers come forward, Doña Sol throws up her veil and strides up hastily to King Charles.
Doña Sol: You are a wicked and cruel king!
The King: What? Doña Sol? (In a whisper)
It is my love for you
That stirs in me this passion. You alone
Can calm it. (To Don Ruy Gomez)
Until you deliver up
Hernani, I shall keep your lovely ward
Doña Sol (taking the dagger, and hiding it again in
her bosom): It will save him! I must go!
[She goes up to King Charles and he leads her out.
Don Ruy Gomez runs to the wall to press the spring. Doña Sol turns as she passes through the door, and stops him by a wild glance. He waits, with heaving breast, till the hall is empty, and then lets Hernani out.
Don Ruy Gomez: The king is gone. Here are two swords. Now fight.
Hernani: No! You have saved me! No. I cannot fight.
My life belongs to you. But ere I die
Let me see Doña Sol.
Don Ruy Gomez: Did you not hear
What happened? Till I give you up, King Charles
Holds her as hostage.
Hernani: Fool! He loves her.
Don Ruy Gomez: Quick!
Call up my men! To horse! Pursue the king!
Hernani: Leave it to me. I will avenge us both.
My way is best—a dagger in the dark.
Let us go forth on foot and track him down.
Don Ruy Gomez: And when your rival dies?
Hernani (taking a horn from his belt): Then claim your debt!
My life belongs to you. At any time
You wish to take it, sound upon this horn,
And I will kill myself.
Don Ruy Gomez: Your hand on it!
Scene—Charles of Spain, who has just been elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, is kneeling by the tomb of Charlemagne in the underground vault at Aix-la-Chapelle.
Charles: O mighty architect of Christendom,
Inspire me now to carry on thy work!
Ah, let me with the lightning of thy sword
Smite the rebellious people down, and make
Their kings my footstool! Warrior of God!
Give me the power to subjugate and weld
The warring races in a hierarchy
Of Christian government throughout the world!
[The tramp of many feet is heard.
Here my assassins come! Oh, let me creep,
Thou mighty spirit, into thy great tomb!
Counsel me from thy ashes; speak to me;
Instruct me how to rule with a strong hand,
And punish these wild men as they deserve!
[He hides in the tomb: the Conspirators enter.
Their Leader: Since Charles of Spain aims at a tyranny,
We, whom he threatens with his power, must use
The only weapon of defence still left—
Assassination! Here, before the tomb
Of Charlemagne, let us decide by lot
On whom the noble task shall fall to strike
The tyrant down.
[The Conspirators write their names on pieces of parchment, and throw them into an urn. They kneel down in silent prayer. Then their leader draws one of the names.
The Conspirators: Who is it?
Their Leader: Hernani.
Hernani: I have won! I hold thee now at last!
Don Ruy Gomez: No, I must strike the blow!
Take back your life,
Take Doña Sol, but let me strike the blow!
[He offers Hernani the horn.
Hernani: No! I have more than you have to avenge.
Their Leader: Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, you shall strike
The second blow if the first fail. And now
Let us all swear to strike and die in turn,
Until Charles falls.
The Conspirators: We swear!
Charles (coming out of the tomb): You are dead men.
[The great vault is lighted up by torches, and a band of soldiers who have been hiding behind the pillars surround the Conspirators.
Charles (to a soldier): Bring in the lady. (To Hernani)
What is your true name?
Hernani: I will reveal it now that I must die.
Don Juan of Aragon, Duke of Segorbe,
Duke of Cardona, Marquis of Monroy,
Count Albatera, and Viscount of Gor,
And lord of scores of towns and villages
Whose names I have forgotten. You, no doubt,
Remember all of them, Charles of Castile,
For they belong to you now.
[The soldier returns with Doña Sol. She throws herself at the emperor's feet.
Doña Sol: Pardon him!
Charles: Rise, Duchess of Segorbe and Cardona.
Marquise of Monroy—and your other names, Don Juan?
Hernani: Who is speaking thus—the king?
Charles: No. It is the emperor. He is a man
Different from the king (turning to the astonished Conspirators); and he will win
Your loyalty, my friends, and your good aid,
[Pg 121] If God in His great mercy will but guide
His erring feet along the pathway trod
By Charlemagne. Don Juan of Aragon,
Forgive me, and receive now from my hands
A wife full worthy of you, Doña Sol.
[The two lovers kneel at his feet. Taking from his neck the Golden Fleece, he puts it on Hernani.
The Spectators: Long live the emperor.
Don Ruy Gomez: I have the horn.
Scene—A terrace by the palace of Aragon. It is midnight, and the guests are departing from the marriage feast of Hernani and Doña Sol.
Doña Sol: At last, my husband, we are left alone.
How glad I am the feast and noise is done—
Hernani: I, too, am weary of the loud, wild joy.
Happiness is a deep and quiet thing,
As deep and grave and quiet as true love.
Doña Sol: Yes, happiness and love are like a strain
Of calm and lovely music. Hernani,
Listen! (The sound of a mountain horn floats on the air.)
It is some mountaineer that plays
Upon your silver horn. [Hernani staggers back.
Hernani: The tiger comes!
The old, grey tiger! Look! In the shadows there!
Doña Sol: What is it frightens you?
[The horn sounds again.
Hernani: He wants my blood! I cannot!
[Don Ruy Gomez enters, playing on the horn like a madman.
Don Ruy Gomez: So you have not kept your word.
"My life belongs to you. At any time
You wish to take it, sound upon this horn
And I will kill myself." You are forsworn!
Hernani: I have no weapon on me.
Don Ruy Gomez (offering a dagger and a phial):
Which of these
Do you prefer?
Hernani: The poison.
Doña Sol: Are you mad?
Hernani: He saved my life at Aragon. I gave
My word of honour I would kill myself
When he desired.
[He raises the phial to his lips, but his wife wrests it from him.
Doña Sol (to her guardian): Why do you desire
To kill my husband?
Don Ruy Gomez: I have sworn no man
Shall marry you but me. I keep my oath!
[With a wild gesture Doña Sol drinks half of the poison, and hands Hernani the rest.
Doña Sol: You are two cruel men. Drink, Hernani,
And let us go to sleep!
Hernani (emptying the phial): Kiss me, my sweet.
It is our bridal night.
Doña Sol (falling beside him on the ground): Fold me, my love,
Close in your arms. [They die.
Don Ruy Gomez: Oh, I am a lost soul!
[He kills himself.
[I] Victor Hugo (see Vol. V, p. 122) occupies an anomalous position among the great dramatists of the world. He is really a poet with a splendid lyrical inspiration; but he combines this in his plays with an acquired but effective talent for stage-craft. "Hernani" is the most famous play in the European literature of the nineteenth century. This is partly due to the fact that it was the first great romantic drama given on the French stage. When it was produced, on February 25, 1830, there was a fierce battle in the theatre between the followers of the new movement and the adherents of the classic school of French playwriting. Little of the play itself was heard on the first night. The voices of the players were drowned in a storm of denunciations from the classicists, and counter-cheers from the romanticists. The admirers of Victor Hugo won. "Hernani" is certainly the most romantic of romantic dramas. The plot is striking, and full of swift and astonishing changes, but the characters are not always true to life. Nevertheless, "Hernani" is a fine, interesting, poetic melodrama, with a rather weak last act. The gloomy scene with which it closes lacks the inevitability of true tragedy. Had the play ended happily it would undoubtedly have retained its popularity.
Marion de Lorme
The Marquis de Saverny
The Marquis de Nangis
The Comte de Gasse
L'Angely, the King's Jester
Soldiers, Officials, and a crowd of people
Scene—A street in Blois in 1638. Some officers are sitting in the twilight outside a tavern, chatting, smoking, and drinking. They rise up to welcome the Comte de Gasse.
Brichanteau: You come to Blois to join the regiment?
We all condole with you. What is the news
Gasse: The duel has come in again. Richelieu
Rochebaron: That's no news. We duel here,
To pass the time away.
Gasse: But have you heard
Of the incredible, mysterious flight
Of Marion de Lorme?
Brichanteau: We have some news,
Gasse, for you. Marion is here.
Gasse: At Blois?
You jest! The Queen of Beauty? Marion
In a place like this?
Brichanteau: Saverny was attacked
Last night by footpads. They were killing him,
When a man beat them off, and took our friend
Into a house.
Gasse: But Marion de Lorme?
Brichanteau: It was her house. Saverny's rescuer
Was the young man with whom she is in love.
Rochebaron: What is the man like?
Brichanteau: Ask Saverny that.
The Town Crier (arriving with a crowd):
"Ordinance. Louis, by the grace of God,
King of France and Navarre, unto all men,
To whom these presents come, greeting! We will,
Ordain, and rule, henceforward, that all men,
Nobles or commoners, who break the law
By duelling, whether one survive or two,
Shall be hanged by the neck till they are dead.
Such is our good pleasure."
Gasse: Hang us like thieves.
[Two officers of the town fix the edict to the wall, and the Crier and the crowd depart. Saverny enters. The street grows dark.
Saverny: Fair Marion de Lorme has left her house.
I cannot find her.
Gasse: What was the man like?
Saverny: I do not know. On entering the house
I recognised sweet Marion, and began
To speak to her. Before I could turn round
And thank the man to whom I owed my life,
He knocked the candle over. I withdrew,
Seeing I was not wanted. All I know
Is that his name is Didier.
Rochebaron: It smacks
Of vulgar origin. To think a man
With such a name should carry Marion off—
Marion, the queen of beauty and of love!
Saverny: There may be men with greater names, but none
With greater hearts. To leap from Marion's arms,
And fight with footpads for a stranger's life!
The thing's heroic! I owe Didier
A debt that I would pay, if need there was,
With all my blood. I wish he were my friend!
[L'Angely, the King's jester—a mournful-looking creature—comes and sits with the officers. He is followed by a tall, pale, handsome young man. It is Didier.
Didier: The Marquis of Saverny! So the fop
Called himself. Oh, the easy, impudent air
With which he spoke to Marie! And I saved
The creature's life. If I meet him again——
Didier: Here's my man.
Gasse: Have you observed
The edict against duelling, on pain
Saverny: Hanging? Hang a gentleman?
[Pg 126] You jest! That is a punishment for serfs.
Brichanteau: Well, read the edict underneath the lamp.
Saverny (annoyed at Didier for staring at him):
Go, read it for me, pale face!
Saverny: Yes, you.
Didier (rising): It is an ordinance that punishes
By gibbeting all squabbling noblemen.
Having done all you wanted, may I claim
A slight reward? Will you now fight with me?
Saverny: Certainly. Where?
Didier: Here. Who will lend a sword?
L'Angely: For this wild folly, take a fool's sword, friend,
And in exchange, bequeath to me, for luck,
The bit of rope that hangs you.
Didier (taking his sword): Now, marquis!
Saverny: Sir, at your service.
[As their swords clash, Marion de Lorme appears.
Didier fighting): Stop! Help! Help! Help!
[In answer to her cries the town guard arrive.
The Captain of the Guard: Down with your swords! What! Duelling beneath
The edict of the king! You are dead men.
[Didier and Saverny are disarmed and led away.
Marion: What has he done?
[L'Angely points to the edict: she reads it.
Oh, when I called for help
Death came! Is there no way to rescue him?
The king is kind at heart, he will forgive——
L'Angely: But Richelieu will not! He loves red blood,
The scarlet cardinal, he loves red blood!
Marion: You frighten me! Who are you?
L'Angely: The king's fool.
Marion: Ah, Didier! If a woman's feeble hand
Can save you, mine shall do it! [She departs.
L'Angely (picking up the sword he lent to Didier):
Ha! Ha! Ha!
It was not I that played the fool to-night!
Scene—A hall in the castle of Chambord. King Louis XIII., a grey-haired, weak-minded man, is sitting, pale and sorrowful, in a chair of state. L'Angely stands beside him.
The King: Oh, it is miserable to be a king
That lives but does not govern. Richelieu
Is killing all my friends. I sometimes think
He wants their blood to dye his scarlet robes.
L'Angely: He works for France, sire——
The King: Yes, and for himself.
I hate him. Never did a king of France
Govern with so tyrannical a hand
As he now does. A single word from me
And all his pomp and splendour, all his power,
Would vanish. But I cannot say the word;
He will not let me. Come, amuse me, fool!
L'Angely: Is not life, sire, a thing of bitterness?
The King: It is. Man is a shadow.
L'Angely: And a king
The miserablest creature on this earth.
The King: It gives me pleasure when you speak like that.
I wish that I were dead. In all the world
You are the only man I ever found
Worth listening to. I often wonder why
You care to live. What are you? A poor fool—
A puppet that I jerk to make me laugh.
L'Angely: I live on out of curiosity.
The puppet of the king, I sit and watch
The antics of the puppet of the priest!
The King: Yes, that is what I am. You speak the truth.
Could Satan not become a cardinal,
And take possession of my very soul?
L'Angely: I think that's what has happened.
The King: He loves blood,
The cardinal! It was the Huguenots
Yesterday that he wanted to behead,
And now it is the duellists. Blood! Blood!
He cannot live unless he lives in blood.
[L'Angely makes a sign. Marion de Lorme and the Marquis de Nangis enter.
The King: For whom?
Nangis: And the Marquis of Saverny.
They are two boys of twenty years of age—
Two children—they were quarrelling, when some spies
Posted by Richelieu ...
Marion: Pardon them, my king!
You will have pity on them. Two young boys,
Caught in a boyish quarrel! No blood shed.
You will not kill my Didier for that!
You will not! Oh, you will not!
The King (wiping the tears from his eyes): Richelieu
Has ordered that all duellists be hanged.
You make my head ache. Go. Leave me!
It must be so, for he has ordered it.
[L'Angely signs to Marion to hide herself in the dark hall. She does so. Nangis goes out.
The King (yawning): I wish they would not come and worry me.
Amuse me, L'Angely, for I am sad.
[Pg 129] Can you not talk to me of death again?
That is a pleasant subject. Your gay talk
Alone enables me to bear with life.
L'Angely: Sire, I have come to say farewell to you.
The King: Farewell? You cannot leave me! Only death
Can end your service to a king.
L'Angely: 'Tis death
That ends it. You condemn me to be hanged,
Since you refuse to pardon those two boys.
For it was I who made them fight. I lent
My sword to Didier.
The King (sadly): Oh, my poor fool!
So they will break your neck as well! Farewell!
Life will be dull without you. When you die,
L'Angely, come and tell me how it feels,
If you can, as some dead men do return
In ghostly form to earth.
L'Angely (to himself): A pleasant task!
The King: No! It would frighten me if you came back.
You must not die. L'Angely, do you think
That I could master Richelieu, if I wished?
The King: Some paper!
[L'Angely gives him some; he hurriedly scrawls a few words, and hands the writing to the fool.
I have pardoned all of you.
L'Angely (running to Marion): Here is the pardon.
Thank the king for it.
The King (as Marion throws herself at his feet):
I must not! Give the paper back to me!
Richelieu will be angry.
Marion (thrusting the pardon in her bosom): You must tear
My heart out ere you take it from me, sire!
The King (lowering his eyes, dazzled by her beauty):
Are you a sorceress? You frighten me!
[Pg 130] Keep it and go!
Marion (as she departs): My Didier is saved!
The King: At last I have shown Cardinal Richelieu
That I am King of France—
L'Angely: Who in a fright
Made a mistake, and once did what was right!
Scene—A field by the castle of Beaugenoy. A great gap has been made in the outer wall, through which looms the castle-keep. Two workmen are covering the gap with a vast black cloth.
A Workman: If they would hang the two young gentlemen
Outside the wall, the cardinal could see
The execution without breaking down
The ramparts in this way.
His Mate: Could he not come
Through the great gate?
A Workman: What! In a litter borne
By four-and twenty men? No! Richelieu
Travels in greater state than any king.
He enters, like a conqueror, through the breach
Made in the castles of our noblemen.
He means to kill them all, they say.
His Mate: And now
He comes in his great litter through this wall,
To see these poor boys hanged? What cruelty!
A Workman: Now come and see the gallows we have built.
[As they depart, Marion arrives at the castle gate. She knocks, but before the door opens, Laffemas, Richelieu's agent, gallops up.
Marion: An order from the king.
The Gatekeeper: You cannot pass.
Laffemas: An order from the cardinal.
The Gatekeeper: Pass in.
Marion: I have a pardon for two prisoners!
Laffemas: And I the document revoking it!
The cardinal is coming here to-night
To see the execution. It is fixed
For nine o'clock.
Marion: Then there is no more hope!
Oh, God! Oh, God! My Didier must die!
Nothing can save him!
Laffemas: You can, Marion.
Yes, you can still! I will let Didier escape
If, Marion, you will——
Laffemas: Then he dies!
Marion: And if he lives, I lose him. (A long silence.)
He shall live.
[She goes into the castle with Laffemas. Didier and Saverny appear, guarded by the jailer and his men. It is now night.
The Jailer (in a whisper to Saverny): You can
escape. The Marquis of Nangis
Has made all preparations for the flight.
Saverny: For both of us?
The Jailer: No; only you. And that
May cost me my own life.
Saverny: Well, save my friend.
The Jailer: I cannot.
Saverny: Then I must remain with him.
(To Didier) They will hang us, friend, to-night.
Didier: Are you sure,
Saverny, she is Marion de Lorme?
On your honour, are you sure?
Saverny: Yes, I am.
I cannot understand you, Didier.
Are you not proud to think that you have made
[Pg 132] So great a conquest?
Didier: And I thought she was
As innocent as she was beautiful!
Saverny: She loves you. You should be content with that.
You will not die while Marion de Lorme
Lives. And I hope that she will not forget
I am your friend, but come and save me, too.
[It grows darker Saverny falls asleep. Marion comes out of the gate carrying a bundle, and accompanied by Didier.
Marion: Put on these clothes. Richelieu has arrived;
Can you not hear the guns announcing him?
Didier: Raise your eyes! Raise your eyes, and look at me!
What sort of man, think you, am I? A fool,
Marion (trembling, as she fixes her eyes passionately
on his): I love you Didier,
More than my life. Your eyes are terrible.
What have I done? Am I not your Marie?
Didier: Marie? Or Marion de Lorme?
Forgive me! I—I—meant to tell you all.
I feared to lose you if you learnt my name.
You had redeemed me by your love. I longed
To raise all memories of my former self,
And live a new life with you, Didier.
For, oh, I love you, and I love you still,
Deeply and truly! Didier, be kind,
Or you will kill me!
Didier: How have you obtained
This favour for me? Why is Laffemas
Risking his neck by letting me escape?
Marion: Not now! I cannot tell you now!
[Pg 133]Fly! Fly!
Hark, they are coming! Do not stop to speak.
Didier: No; I have no wish to live!
Thank God, here is the headsman!
[A Headsman, carrying his axe, appears with a crowd of soldiers, officials, and Saverny.
Marion (falling to the earth): Didier!
Saverny: What a shame
To rob me of my sleep!
The Headsman (grimly): The time has come
To put you both to bed.
Saverny (gaily): A headsman! Good!
I like the axe much better than the rope.
Didier (embracing him): Good-bye, my friend!
Marion (clinging to him): And me! Didier, me!
Will you not say good-bye to me?
Didier (wildly, as the soldiers drag him off): No! No!
My heart is breaking! Oh, Marie, Marie!
I love you. I was wrong!
Marion: You pardon me?
Didier: I ask your pardon. Think of me sometimes.
Good-bye, my darling. [He is dragged behind the wall.
An Official (catching Marion in his arms as she falls):
All hope is not lost.
Look, here is Richelieu! Go and plead with him.
[The castle guns are fired. The cloth, hiding the great breach in the wall, drops. The Cardinal comes in his gigantic scarlet litter, borne by twenty-four footguards. Scarlet curtains conceal him from the shouting mob.
Marion (dragging herself on her knees to the litter):
In the name of God, oh, my Lord Cardinal,
Pardon these two poor boys!
A Voice (from the litter): No pardon!
[The litter passes on, and the crowd surges through the wall after it. Marion is left alone.
[J] Victor Hugo wrote "Marion de Lorme" in 1829, three months before he composed "Hernani." King Charles X., however, refused to license the play, because of the terrible way in which his ancestor, Louis XIII., was portrayed in it. But after the Revolution of 1830, and the success of "Hernani," the forbidden drama was produced on the stage. Its original title was "A Duel Under Richelieu." The whole play is built around the frustrated duel in which two young men engage against the edict of the great cardinal. This economy of stage-craft makes "Marion de Lorme" a superior work, in point of construction, to "Hernani." And though it may be less picturesque than that more famous example of the romantic drama, it is on the whole a finer effort of genius.
Don Sallust de Bazan
President of the Magistrates
Lackey to Don Sallust
Don Cesar de Bazan
Cousin to Don Sallust
Don Manuel Arias
The Count of Camporeal
Doña Maria, Queen of Spain
A crowd of Spanish Grandees, Counsellors, and Alguazils
Scene—A room in the palace of King Charles II., at Madrid, about 1695.
Don Sallust: So, after twenty years of constant toil,
And twenty years of honour and high power,
The weak hand of a woman strikes me down
Into the dust. Dishonoured and exiled!
And by the queen, a foolish, foreign girl
Ignorant of our ways, who has no fear
Because she has no knowledge. Had she guessed
I had so many weapons of revenge
That I am now perplexed which one to use,
She would have been more careful. Poisoning,
[Pg 135] Of course, is easy; and when she was dead
I could retrieve the power that I have lost.
But I would rather crush and conquer her
Some other way; make her a very slave
Obedient to my slightest wish, and rule
The country in her name. The king is mad,
And she will soon be regent. (Calling) Ruy Blas!
Ruy Blas (appearing at the door): Sir?
Don Sallust: Order my men to gather up and pack
My papers, books and documents! I leave
The palace at the break of day. But you
Must wait here till the queen comes through this room
At morning, on her way to mass. Who's that?
[Don Cesar enters, and he and Ruy Blas look at each other in surprise. Then, seeing he is not wanted, the lackey departs.
Don Cesar: Well, here I am, dear cousin! Have you found,
After a search of twenty years, a post
Worthy of me? Upon the principle
Of setting thieves to capture thieves, I'd make
A splendid captain of your alguazils!
Don Sallust: I know all your remarkable exploits,
My cousin. Were I not chief magistrate,
Your murders, thefts, and acts of brigandage
Would long since have been punished, and Don Cesar,
Count of Garofa—
Don Cesar: He died years ago.
[Pg 136] I now am Zafari.
Don Sallust: Zafari can die,
And Cesar, Count of Garofa, revive,
And dazzle all the ladies of the court
With his fine presence, and the wealth I'll give,
If he will serve me, as a cousin should,
Boldly and faithfully.
Don Cesar: Ah, this sounds well.
Give me a hundred ducats to begin,
And I am your man! What do you want of me?
Some rival quietly despatched?
Don Sallust: I need
A daring, gallant and ambitious man
To help me to avenge myself.
Don Cesar: On whom?
Don Sallust: A woman.
Don Cesar: I have fallen very low,
Don Sallust, but I have not come to that.
Murder may be my trade, but to bring down
A woman by a dastardly intrigue
Is something I would never stoop to do!
I am a wolf, maybe, but not a snake!
Don Sallust: Give me your hand, my cousin! You have come
Out of the ordeal I prepared for you
Better than I expected.
Don Cesar: Then this plot
Against a woman——
Don Sallust: Merely was a test.
I'll give you now the money you require.
A hundred ducats, was it? I will fetch them.
[He departs, and signs to Ruy Blas to enter.
Don Cesar: I knew you in your strange disguise, Ruy Blas.
What are you doing here?
Ruy Blas: Ah, Zafari!
Hunger has now compelled me to adopt
[Pg 137] The livery of a lackey. Don Sallust
To-night engaged me as his servitor,
And brought me here. And I came, Zafari,
Because—— (He hesitates.)
Don Cesar: You wanted food!
Ruy Blas: No. It was love
I hungered for.
Don Cesar: There are some pretty maids
In this great palace.
Ruy Blas: I am mad, mad, mad!
I am in love, Zafari, with the queen—
I, a lackey. Night after night I creep
Into the royal park, and leave some flowers
Upon her favourite seat. This evening
I put a letter with them.
Don Cesar: My poor friend,
You certainly are mad!
Don Sallust (opening the door slightly and pointing
out Don Cesar to three armed alguazils as he
whispers): That is the man. Arrest him when he leaves.
And kill him quickly. [He then enters the room, and
gives a purse to Don Cesar, saying: Here is what
Call on me to-morrow.
Don Cesar (giving Ruy Blas half the ducats):
Come with me.
Be a free man again.
Don Sallust (in an aside): The devil!
Ruy Blas (refusing the money): No;
I never shall be a free man again.
My heart is captive; I must stay on here.
Don Cesar: Well, each man to his fate. Your hand, old friend!
[After shaking hands, he goes out—to his doom.
Don Sallust: No one has seen you yet, I think, Ruy Blas,
[Pg 138] Clad in this livery?
Ruy Blas: No one, my lord.
Don Sallust: Good! Shut the doors, and put on this attire.
[Bringing out the costume of a nobleman of high rank, he helps his lackey to dress in it.
Splendid! You have a very gallant air,
And you will make a perfect nobleman.
Now listen. I've your interests at heart,
And if you will obey me faithfully,
You shall succeed in all that you desire.
But stay. There is a letter I must send
Before I leave Madrid. Write it for me.
[Ruy Blas sits down at the table, and Don Sallust dictates to him:
"My life is in great danger. You alone
Can save me. Come this evening to my house.
No one will recognise you if you use
The side-door by the corner." Now sign it
"Cesar," the name I commonly employ
In love affairs.
Ruy Blas: Shall I address the note?
Don Sallust: Ah, no! I must deliver it myself.
Hark! There is someone coming. 'Tis the Queen!
[Dragging Ruy Blas with him, he opens the door, and says to the noblemen surrounding the QUEEN:
Allow me to present to you, my friends,
Don Cesar, Count of Garofa, my cousin.
Scene.—The Hall of Government in the palace at Madrid, six months after. The Privy Counsellors are sitting,—among them Don Manuel Arias and the Count of Camporeal.
Don Manuel: How quickly he has climbed to supreme power!
General Secretary, Minister,
And now Duke of Olmedo!
Camporeal: It is strange,
A cousin of that fallen president,
Don Sallust, could have won to such a height
Within six months!
Don Manuel: The queen reigns over us
And he reigns, over her.
Camporeal: That is not so.
Don Cesar never sees the queen alone.
I know it. I have had them watched by spies.
They shun each other. Do you know, he lives
By Tormez mansion, in a shuttered house,
With two black mutes to wait on him?
Don Manuel: Two mutes!
He is, indeed, a terrible, strange man.
And now to business! We must re-arrange
Some of the taxes and monopolies.
We want a fair division.
[All the Counsellors seat themselves.
A Counsellor: I must have
The salt monopoly.
Camporeal: No; that is mine!
You have the tax upon the trade in slaves.
I'll change that for the arsenic, if you like.
[Ruy Blas has entered at the beginning of the dispute: after listening some time he comes forward.
Ruy Blas: You vile, rapacious gang of quarrelling thieves!
What! Can you rob the dead? Here by the grave
Of the great empire that was Spain, you sit,
Like greedy vultures, preying on her corpse!
We were the conquerors of the world, but now
Our army dwindled to four thousand men
That never get their arms, their food, their pay,
Is but a mob of brigands, and they live
[Pg 140] By pillaging their wretched countrymen.
Our hardy peasantry is crushed beneath
A load of taxes and monopolies,
But not a ducat of the revenue
Is spent on Spain. Bankrupt in wealth and power,
Dead to all sense of honour, justice, right,
She lies, while you, you foul hyenas, snarl
Over her stricken body.
[Turning to the Count of Camporeal, and the Counsellor who was quarrelling with him, he says sternly:
Let me not see
Either of you again at court.
[As they depart, Ruy Blas speaks to the other consternated Counsellors:
Who will not serve Spain honestly must go.
If there are any who will work with me
In building up our country's power and fame,
On equal laws for rich and poor alike,
I shall be pleased to meet them in this room
In two hours' time.
[All the CounsellorS go out, bowing low to Ruy Blas as they pass by him. When he is alone, the Queen comes from behind the tapestry; her face is radiant with joy.
The Queen: You spoke to them as I would like to speak
Were I a man. Oh, let me take, dear Duke,
This loyal hand, so strong, and so sincere.
Ruy Blas: How did you hear me, madam?
The Queen (showing a secret door): In this place
That Philip made to watch his counsellors.
How often have I seen poor Carlos here,
Listening to the villains robbing him,
And ruining the state!
Ruy Blas: What did he say?
The Queen: Nothing, but it drove him mad at last.
But you! How masterful you were! The voice
With which you thundered still rings in my ears.
I raised the tapestry to look at you.
You towered above them terrible and great,
A king of men! What was it that inspired
Such fury in you?
Ruy Blas: Love for you, my queen!
If Spain falls, you will fall with it. But I
Will save it for your sake. Oh, I am mad!
I love you! Love you with a love that eats
The life out of me! God! What shall I do?
Die? Shall I die? Pardon me! Pardon me!
The Queen: No, live! Live for your country, and your queen!
Both of us need you. For the last six months
I have been watching from my hiding-place
Your struggle with my treacherous counsellors,
And seeing in you the master-mind of Spain, have, without consulting you, advanced
Your interests. And now your strong, pure hands
Grasp all the reins of government and power,
Perform the work entrusted unto you!
Rescue our people from their misery.
Raise Spain up from her grave; restore to her
The strength that made her empress of the world;
And love me as I love you—
Ruy Blas: Oh, my queen!
The Queen: With a pure, steady, honourable love,
Working and waiting with a patient heart
Till I am free to marry you. Farewell!
[She kisses him on the brow, and departs by the secret door.
Scene.—A small, dark room in the house lent by Don Sallust to Ruy Blas. It is late at night, and Ruy Blas is pacing up and down in a state of wild agitation.
Ruy Blas: I only am a pawn with which he plays
Against the queen. He seeks to ruin her
By means of me. No! I will save her yet.
Save her and lose her! Cunning though you are,
Don Sallust, you have overlooked one thing;
Even a lackey will lay down his life
To save a noble woman whom he loves
From ruin and dishonour.
[Going to the table, he pours something into glass.
Oh, my queen!
Never more shall we meet upon this earth.
[As he raises the glass to his lips, The Queen enters.
The Queen: Don Cesar!
Ruy Blas: Oh, my God, my God!
The Queen: Fear not.I shall protect you.
Ruy Blas: What has brought you here?
The Queen: Your letter, Cesar.
Ruy Blas: Letter? I have sent
The Queen: What is this, then? Look and read.
[She gives him the note he wrote for Don Sallust as his lackey.
Ruy Blas (reading it): "My life is in great danger.
You alone can save me."
The Queen (continuing): "Come this evening to my house.
No one will recognise you if you use
[Pg 143] The side door by the corner." Here's your name, "Cesar."
Ruy Blas: Go! Go! It is a plot against you.
I cannot now explain. Fly for your life!
The Queen: But you are in great danger. No! I'll stay,
And help you, Cesar.
Ruy Blas: Go, I tell you! Go!
The letter is not mine. Who let you in?
Don Sallust (striding into the room): I did.
Ruy Blas: Go, madam, while the way is clear.
Don Sallust: It is too late. Doña Maria is
No longer Queen of Spain.
The Queen (in terror): What, then, am I?
Don Sallust: A lady who has sold her throne for love.
Ruy Blas: No!
Don Sallust (whispering to Ruy Blas): I am working in your interests.
(Aloud toThe Queen) Now listen, madam. I have found you here,
Alone with Cesar, in his room, at night.
This conduct—in a queen—would lead the Pope—
Were the fact published—to annul your marriage.
Why not avoid the scandal?
[Taking a parchment from his pocket, he presents it to The Queen.
Sign this deed
Admitting everything, and we can keep
All the proceedings secret. I have put
Plenty of money in the coach that waits
Outside the door. Ride off in it and take
Cesar with you, to France or Portugal.
No one will stop you. But if you refuse
Everything shall be published. Here's a pen.
[He leads the terrified Queen to a writing-table, and puts a pen in her hand. Ruy Blas stands in a corner, motionless and bewildered.
The Queen: Oh, I am lost! Lost, and yet innocent!
Don Sallust: You lose a crown; but think of what you gain—
A life of love and peace and happiness.
Don Cesar loves you, and is worthy of you.
A man of noble race; almost a prince.
[The Queen is about to sign, but Ruy Blas snatches the pen from her hand, and tears up the parchment.
Ruy Blas: You must not sign it! This man lies to you.
I am Ruy Blas, a common serving-man.
[Turning fiercely on Don Sallust.
No more of it, I say! I'll have no more!
You mean, contemptible scoundrel! Tell the truth!
Don Sallust: This creature is, in fact, my serving-man,
Only he has blabbed too soon.
The Queen: Great Heavens!
Don Sallust: No matter. My revenge is good enough.
What do you think of it? Madrid will laugh!
You exiled me, my lady; brought me down
Into the dust. I'll drag you from the throne
And hold you up—the laughing-stock of Spain!
[While he is speaking Ruy Blas silently bolts the door; then, creeping behind Don Sallust, he snatches his sword from the scabbard.
Ruy Blas: Insult the queen again, you wretch, and I
Will kill you where you stand. You foul, black snake,
Crawl in the further room and say your prayers.
[Don Sallust rushes towards the outer door; Ruy Blas pushes him back at the sword's point.
The Queen: You are not going to slay him?
Ruy Blas: This affair
Must be now settled once for all. Go in!
[This to Don Sallust, whom he has now almost driven into the further room.[Pg 145]
Don Sallust: Give me a sword, and let us fight it out.
Ruy Blas: Surely a nobleman would never stoop
To fight a duel with his serving-man?
No! I am going to kill you like a dog!
The Queen: Spare him!
Don Sallust: Help! Murder! Help!
Ruy Blas: Have you done?
[Don Sallust leaps at Ruy Blas, and the two men reel into the further room, and the door closes behind them. The Queen covers her face.
The Queen: Oh, God!
[There is a silence. Ruy Blas returns without the sword.
Ruy Blas (falling on his knees): Pardon me, madam, pardon me!
I am less guilty than I seem. At heart,
I am an honest man. My love for you
Led me into the trap that villain laid.
Will you not pardon me?
The Queen: No!
Ruy Blas: Never?
The Queen: No!
[Staggering to the table, he seizes the glass and drains it.
Ruy Blas: Well, that is over, then.
The Queen (running up to him): What have you done?
Ruy Blas: Nothing. But, oh, to think you loved me once!
The Queen: What was there in that glass? I love you still!
What was it? Poison? Tell me.
Ruy Blas (as she clasps him): Yes, my queen.
The Queen: Then I have killed you! But I love you now!
[Pg 146] More than before. Had I but pardoned you—
Ruy Blas: I should have drunk the poison all the same.
I could not bear to live. Good-bye!
[He falls down, and The Queen holds him up in her arms.
No one will know. That door.
>[He tries to point to it, but sinks back in the agony of death.
The Queen (throwing herself on him): Ruy Blas!
Ruy Blas (reviving at the sound of his name):
Thanks! Thanks! [He dies.
[K] In appearance, "Ruy Blas" is a pendant to "Hernani." In the earlier play, Victor Hugo gives a striking picture of the Spanish nobility in the days of its power and splendour. In the later drama, which he composed in 1838, he depicts in lurid light the corruption into which that nobility afterwards fell. But, as a matter of fact, "Ruy Blas" is a violent party pamphlet with a direct bearing on the French politics of the thirties. It is the decadent French nobility—vanquished in the revolution of 1830—that Hugo really attacks; and Ruy Blas himself is a representative Frenchman of the era of romanticism. Stendhal (Vol. VIII) was the first writer to study this new type of character—the young man of the lower middle classes, full of grandiose dreams and wild ambitions and strange weaknesses, who thought to arrive by intrigue at the high position which the great soldiers of the preceding generation had won on the battlefield. Balzac (Vol. I) elaborated the character in his "Human Comedy"; and Hugo, by ennobling and enlarging it, created the sombre, magnificent figure of Ruy Blas.
François I., King of France
Triboulet, his jester
Blanche, Triboulet's daughter
Saltabadil, an assassin
Maguelonne, his sister
A woman; a man; a crowd of people
Scene.—Triboulet, the ugly little hunchback jester to King François, has stolen from the Louvre to a secluded house in a remote part of Paris. He takes out the key to open the door, then stops and glances round uneasily.
Triboulet: I thought I heard a footstep.
Blanche must go
Back to the country. In this wild, rough town
My little lonely girl may come to harm.
I was a fool to bring her here. A fool!
Ah, if she learns what a vile part I play
In this vile city—sees her father dressed
In patchwork, using his deformities
To make sport for a proud, vain, wicked king.
Oh, how I hate the man who laughs at me!
When I am sick and miserable, and creep
Into some corner to bewail my lot,
He kicks me out into the light, and cries,
"Amuse me, fool!" Some day I shall go mad,
[Saltabadil, who has been following him, comes forward and bows.
Saltabadil: Your servant, sir!
Triboulet (startled): What! Who are you?
Saltabadil: Excuse me. I have watched you for a week
Come to this house at evening. Every time
You seem afraid some foe is following you.
Triboulet (still more startled): What do you want?
Who are you? Go away!
Saltabadil: I want to help you. Do you need a sword?
I am an honest man, and at a price
I'll rid you of your enemy.
Triboulet (relieved by the bravo's air): What price?
Saltabadil: According to the job. If he is armed
'Tis best to get my sister, Maguelonne,
To help me. She will lure him to our house—
Triboulet: I understand.
Saltabadil (confidentially): No noise, you see; no risk.
Give me your custom, sir, and you will find
I do the work better than any man
Triboulet: But at present I've no need—
Saltabadil: Well, think about it. I am Saltabadil.
I wait for clients every day at noon
By the Hôtel du Maine.
Triboulet: Good-night to you.
Saltabadil: Believe me, I am honest. Times are bad;
I have four children, and at least my trade
Is better than mere beggary.
Triboulet: Of course.
One must bring up one's children.
Saltabadil: Thanks. Good-night.
[He departs. Triboulet then opens the door leading into a courtyard, and knocks at an inner entrance. This is opened by a charming young girl, who throws herself into the jester's arms.
Triboulet: My daughter! When I see your sweet, bright face
My grief and trouble vanish. Kiss me, Blanche;
I am in need of love. Have you been out?
Blanche: Only to church. It is so dull in town
[Pg 149] That, were it not for you, dear, I should like
To go back to Chinon.
Triboulet: It would be best;
put now I could not live in solitude.
My darling, I have no one in the world
But you to love me!
[Hiding his face in his hands, he weeps.
Blanche: Father, trust in me.
Tell me your name and calling. Every night
You come by stealth to see me; every day
You disappear. Oh, how it troubles me
To see you weep!
Triboulet: You would be troubled more
If you could see me laugh! No, no, my child!
Know me but as your father; let me be
Something that you can venerate and love.
Blanche: My father!
Triboulet: But I cannot stay to-night;
I only came to see if you were safe.
Good-bye, my darling! Do not leave the house.
[While he is speaking, King François glides into the courtyard, and hides behind a tree there. He is dressed like a student.
Blanche: Good-bye, my father!
The King: Father! Triboulet Her father! What a joke!
Triboulet: May God guard you!
[He kisses her again and departs. Blanche stands at the door watching him, and Dame Berarde, her housekeeper, joins her.
Blanche: I have not told him.
Dame Berarde: What?
Blanche: That a young man
Follows me when I come from church.
Dame Berarde (laughing): You wish
To chase this handsome man away?
Blanche: Ah, no!
1 think he loves me. Oh, when Sunday comes
I shall be happy!
Dame Berarde: I should think he was
Some noble lord.
Blanche: No! Lords, my father says,
Are men of little faith or honesty.
I hope he is a poor young scholar, filled
With noble thoughts rather than noble blood.
How long it is to Sunday! Would he were
Kneeling before me here. I then would say
Be happy, for I——
[The King comes from behind the tree, and kneels before her.
The King: Love you! Say it sweet:
I love you!
Blanche: If my father comes! Ah, go!
The King: Go? When my life is bound to yours? Sweet Blanche,
There is one heavenly thing alone on earth,
And that is love. Glory and wealth and power
Are base and worthless when compared with it.
Blanche, it is happiness your lover brings,
Happiness, shyly waiting on your wish.
Life is a flower, and love the honey of life.
Come, let us taste it, mouth to mouth, my sweet.
[Taking her in his arms, he kisses her.
Blanche: I do not know your name. Are you a lord?
My father does not like them.
The King (confused): Yes.... My name—
Gaucher Mahiet, a poor young scholar.
Dame Berarde: Look!
Someone is coming.
[It is Triboulet. Seeing his daughter in the arms of a man, he rushes forward with a terrible cry. King François leaves Blanche, and, brushing past the [Pg 151] jester, who staggers as he catches a glimpse of his face, hastens away.
Triboulet: The King! Oh, God, the King!
[Then, in a sort of madness, he mutters to himself.
That man that spoke to me ... Hôtel du Maine;
At noon ... yes; in his house ... no noise, no risk ...
Oh, King François, the grave is dug for you!
Scene.—A tumble-down inn on the outskirts of Paris by the edge of the Seine. The scene is represented on the stage in a sort of section, so that the spectator sees everything that goes on in the interior of the inn, as well as on the road outside. Besides this, the building is so cracked and ruined that any passer-by can see into the room through the holes in the wall. It is night. Triboulet and his daughter appear in the road. Saltabadil is sitting in the inn.
Triboulet: I will avenge you, Blanche.
Blanche: He cannot be
False and untrue.
Triboulet (whispering, as he leads her to a hole in the wall):
Come. See with your own eyes,
What kind of man our great King François is.
Blanche (whispering, as she sees only Saltabadil):
I only see a stranger.
Triboulet: Wait awhile.
[As he whispers, King François enters the room by a little door leading from an inner chamber.
[She trembles, and follows with angry eyes the movements of The King.
Triboulet: This is the man you wish to save.
The King (slapping Saltabadil on the back):
Tell Maguelonne to bring me in some wine.
Triboulet: King by the grace of God he is, with all
The wealth and splendour of the land of France
At his command; but to amuse himself
He drinks himself asleep in thieves' kitchens.
The King (singing while Triboulet talks outside):
Oh, woman is fickle, and man is a fool
To trust in her word!
She changes without any reason or rule,
As her fancies are stirred.
A weather-cock veering to every wind
Is constant and true when compared to her mind.
>[While he sings Maguelonne enters with a skin of wine. Saltabadil goes out, and seeing Triboulet, approaches him with an air of mystery. Blanche continues to watch The King.
Saltabadil: We've caught our man! And now it rests with you
To let him live or die.
Triboulet (looking at Blanche): Wait for a while.
The King (to Maguelonne):
Life is a flower and love the honey of life;
Come, let us taste it, mouth to mouth, my sweet.
[He tries to kiss her, but she escapes.
Maguelonne: You got that from a book.
The King: Your dark, sweet eyes
Inspired me! It was only yesterday
We met at the Hôtel du Maine, and yet
I love you with as passionate a love
As if we had been sweethearts all our lives.
Come, let me kiss you!
Maguelonne (sitting herself gaily on the table where
he is drinking): When you have drunk your wine.
[The King empties the flagon of drugged liquor, and with a mocking laugh the girl jumps down and sits on his knee.
The King: Oh, you delicious, fascinating thing.
What a wild dance you've led me! Feel my heart
Seating with love for you!
Maguelonne: And for a score
Of other women!
The King: No, for you alone!
[Blanche cannot bear to look at them any longer. Pale and trembling, she turns away, and falls into her father's arms.
Blanche: Oh, God, how he deceived me! My heart breaks.
All that he said to me he now repeats
To this low, shameless slut. He is a man
Without a soul.
Triboulet (in a whisper): Hush, hush! or he will hear!
You leave him in my hands then?
Blanche: What is it
You mean to do?
Triboulet: Avenge you and myself!
Run home and dress yourself in the boy's clothes
Prepared for you. Take all the gold you find,
And ride to Evreux, and there wait for me.
Blanche (entreatingly): Come with me, father!
Triboulet (sternly): I have work to do,
Terrible work! Do not return for me,
But ride your horse as fast as it will go.
Blanche: I am afraid.
Triboulet: Obey me, Blanche! Good-bye!
[He kisses her, and she staggers away. Triboulet then signs to Saltabadil, who comes running up, and gives him ten crowns in gold.
Triboulet: Here is half of the sum. I'll bring the rest
When you hand me the body in a sack.
Saltabadil: It shall be done to-night.
Triboulet: At midnight, then.
[He goes in. During this scene outside, the drowsy King has been flirting with Maguelonne. She jumps off his knee as Saltabadil enters. Triboulet departs.
Saltabadil: What a wild night! The rain is pouring down
The King (sleepily): You must find me a bed.
Maguelonne (in a fierce whisper): Go! Go!
The King: What? And be drowned? You are unkind, my sweet.
Saltabadil (Whispering to his sister):
Keep him here. We have twenty golden crowns
To earn to-night. (To King François) Sir, you can have my room.
The King: Ah, you are kinder than your sister is!
Show me the bed.
[Saltabadil takes the lamp and leads him upstairs.
Saltabadil: This way.
Maguelonne (in the darkness): Poor, poor young man!
[Saltabadil returns with the lamp. He sits at the table in silence; his sister watches him.
Maguelonne (fiercely): You must not kill him!
Saltabadil: Twenty golden crowns!
Look, here are ten of them! The rest I get
At midnight. Pest! There is no time to lose.
Quick, sew this sack! My client will return
In a few minutes.
[Terrified by his look, she takes up the sack and begins to mend it. There is again a silence, and in the sinister and momentary radiance of the lightning the figure of Blanche is seen approaching the inn. She is dressed in a man's clothes, and booted and spurred.
Blanche: Terrible work to do! I cannot go.
[Pg 155] Father, I cannot! Oh, this horrible dream!
Let me awake from it ere I go mad.
This dream, this horrible dream!
[Seeing the light from the window, she totters up to the hole in the wall and looks in again.
God! it is true!
There they are! There!—the man with murderous looks,
The girl with shameless eyes! Where is the king?
[Her cries are drowned in the thunder.
Maguelonne: Do not kill him.
Saltabadil: Ten more crowns!
Maguelonne: He is worth more than that. Handsome and young,
And noble too, I'll take my oath on it.
Besides, he loves me.
Saltabadil: Get on with the sack.
Maguelonne: You only want the money. Take and kill
The little hunchback when he comes with it.
Blanche: My father!
Saltabadil (angrily): What! Am I a common thief?
Kill my own client? I will have you know,
My sister, that I am an honest man.
I do the work I'm paid for.
[Drawing his dagger, he goes towards the stairs.
Maguelonne (barring the way): Stop, I say!
Or I will go and rouse him.
Blanche: Good, brave girl!
Saltabadil: Well, let us make a bargain, Maguelonne.
If anyone comes knocking at our inn
By midnight, he shall go into the sack.
My client only wants to fling some corpse
Into the river, and on this wild night
[Pg 156] He will not see what he is throwing in.
Maguelonne: It is just on the hour. No one will come.
Cannot you ram this faggot in the sack?
Saltabadil: Who would take that for a limp body? No!
Either a traveller or the man upstairs.
That is all! Will you take the chance?
Maguelonne (weeping): I must.
Blanche: Oh, God, I cannot! No! I am too young.
He does not love me.
[A church-bell begins to chime the hour.
Maguelonne: Hark, a knock!
Blanche (stumbling to the door):
My father hates him.... Perhaps it will not hurt,
If they strike hard and kill me at a blow.
Oh, if he only loved me!
Maguelonne (opening the door): Who is there?
Blanche: Give me a shelter for the night.
Maguelonne: Come in.
[She enters. As she crosses the threshold, Saltabadil raises his dagger, and the curtain falls.
Scene.—The same; but when the curtain rises, only the outside of the inn is now seen. It is unlighted; everything is in darkness.
Triboulet (knocking at the door): Make haste!
Saltabadil (bringing out a sack): Here is your man.
Triboulet (helping him carry it): Give me a light.
I want to see him—is he really dead?
Saltabadil: We must not use a light. We might be seen.
Where is the money?
Triboulet (giving him a bag): Here. (Looking at
the sack) I have you at last!
Long have I waited for this happy hour!
Saltabadil: Come, throw it in the Seine!
Triboulet: I want no help.
Your part is done. Leave me alone.
Saltabadil: Quick, then!
Somebody may come by. Is the man mad?
[Triboulet has knelt down in the mud by the sack. The rain streams on him, and his face, convulsed with hideous joy, is illumined by the lightning. Saltabadil enters the inn and shuts the door.
Triboulet (feeling the sack): Yes! I can feel his
spurs. It is the King!
Now let the heavens break above my head,
And the earth rock and open at my feet!
The vengeance of a clown shakes the whole world!
François, the pivot on which Europe turns,
Is broken. German, Spaniard, and Turk
Can make a slaughterhouse of Christendom.
The King of France is dead!
[Leaping up in a fury, he kicks the sack.
François the First,
Do you remember how you treated me?
Who is the dog now, eh?—the dog to kick
And tumble about to make the courtiers laugh?
You liked my daughter, did you? A clown's brat
Found favour with a king! You stooped too low.
This is the road that you must take.
[He drags the sack to the parapet. While he is doing so, Maguelonne opens the door of the inn and lets out The King, who goes off singing gaily in the opposite direction.
Triboulet (lifting the sack on the parapet, to push
[Pg 158] it over): Go down!
The King: Oh, woman is fickle, and man is a fool
To trust in her word!
Triboulet: Oh, God! Whose voice is that?
[He pulls back the sack.
The King (now unseen in the darkness): She changes without any reason or rule,
As her fancies are stirred.
Triboulet: He has escaped! (Running up to the
inn) Accursed villains, you have cheated me! (He
pulls at the door, but it will not open.)
Who have they put in the sack?
[He returns to it.
Some innocent wayfarer? I must see.
[He tears open the sack, and peers into it.
It is too dark (wildly). Has no one got a light?
[As he is dragging the body out of the sack the lightning irradiates it.
My daughter! God! My daughter! No, Blanche, no!
I sent you to Evreux. It is not her.
[The lightning again flashes out, and clearly shows the pale face and closed eyes of the girl.
Speak, for the love of God! Speak! Oh, the blood!
Blanche, are you hurt? Speak to me! Blanche!
Blanche (opening her eyes): Where am I? Father!
[She tries to rise, but falls back groaning. Triboulet takes her in his arms.
Triboulet: Blanche, have they struck you?
It is too dark to see.
Blanche (in a broken, gasping voice):
The dagger struck me ... but I ...
Saved the king ...
I love him. Father ... have they let him live?
Triboulet: I cannot understand.
Blanche: It was my fault ...
Forgive me ... father, I——
[She struggles, speechless, in the agony of death.
Triboulet (shrieking): Help! Help! Oh, help!
[Rushing to the ferry-bell by the riverside, he rings it madly. The people in the cottages around come running out in wild alarm.
A Woman: What is it? Is she wounded?
A Man: She is dead.
Triboulet (taking the lifeless body in his arms and hugging it to his breast): I have killed my child! I have killed my child!
[L] Victor Hugo was a man with a remarkable aptitude for divining the real course of popular feeling and giving violent expression to it. It was this that made him one of the leaders of the modern republican movement in France. Precluded by his earlier works from attacking the monarchy openly, he set about discrediting it by a series of historical plays in which the French kings were depicted in a sinister light. In "Marion de Lorme" he holds up the weakest of the Bourbons to bitter contempt; in "The King Amuses Himself" ("Le roi s'amuse"), produced in 1832, he satirises the most brilliant of the Valois—François I. The portrait is a clever but one-sided piece of work; it is based on facts; but not on all the facts. It is true that François used to frequent low taverns and mix in disreputable company, but he was also the most chivalrous king of his age, and a man of fine tastes in art and letters. Nevertheless, the play is one of the best of Victor Hugo's by reason of the strange and terrible character of the king's jester, Triboulet. This ugly little hunchback is surely a memorable figure in literature. The horror and pity which he excites as he sits by the river in the storm and darkness, rejoicing in the consummation of his scheme of revenge, have something of that awfulness which is the note of veritable tragedy. The scene is a superb example of dramatic irony.
[M] English poetry of the last eighty years is fine in quality and great in volume, but it would be difficult to maintain that it is the finest and greatest poetry of the period. It was France that produced the master-singer, and with rare generosity both Tennyson and Swinburne acknowledged that Victor Hugo was their superior. The range of power of the Frenchman was marvellous; he was a great novelist, a great playwright, a great political writer; but, above all, he was a poet. His immense force of imagination and narrative power is displayed at its best in "The Legend of the Ages" ("La Légende des Siécles"). The first part appeared in 1859, the second in 1877, and the last in 1883. It consists of a series of historical and philosophic poems, in which the story of the human race is depicted in the lightning flashes of a resplendent imagination. Some of the poems, given here for the first time in English, contain stories as fine as the masterpieces of the great novelists.
Halvard Solness, the Master Builder
Aline Solness, his wife
Dr. Herdal, physician
Knut Brovik, formerly an architect, now in Solness's employment
Ragnar Brovik, his son
Kaia Fosli, his niece, book-keeper
Scene.—A plainly furnished work-room in the house of Halvard Solness. At the back, visible through an open door, is the draughtsman's office, where sit Knut Brovik and his son, Ragnar, occupied with plans and calculations. At the desk in the outer office Kaia Fosli is writing in the ledger. She is young, slight, and delicate-looking. She wears a green shade over her eyes. All three work for some time in silence.
Knut Brovik (rising as if in distress): No, I can't bear it much longer!
Kaia: You're feeling very ill, aren't you, uncle?
Brovik: Oh, I seem to get worse every day!
Ragnar (advancing): You ought to go home, father.
Brovik: Not till he comes! I'm determined to have it out—with the chief!
Kaia (anxiously): Oh, no, uncle! Wait awhile. Hush! I hear him on the stairs.
[They go back to their work. Halvard Solness, mature, healthy, vigorous, comes in.
Solness: Are they gone?
Kaia: No. [She takes the shade off her eyes.
Solness (approaching her and whispering): Kaia! Why do you always take off that shade when I come?
Kaia: I look so ugly with it on.
Solness (stroking her hair): Poor, poor little Kaia———
[Brovik comes into the front room.
Brovik: May I have a few words with you?
[Brovik sends Kaia out.
Brovik: It will soon be all over with me. (Solness places him in an armchair.) Thanks. Well, you see, it's about Ragnar. That weighs most upon me. What's to become of him?
Solness: Your son will stay with me as long as ever [Pg 173]he likes. Brovik: But he wants to have a chance. He must do something on his own account.
Solness: Well, but he has learnt nothing, except, of course, to draw.
Brovik: You had learnt little enough when you were with me, and yet you cut me out. Now, how can you have the heart to let me go to my grave without having seen what Ragnar is fit for? And I'm anxious to see him and Kaia married—before I go.
Solness: I can't drag commissions down from the moon for him.
Brovik: He can have the building of that villa at Lövstrand, if you would only approve of his plans, and retire———
Solness (angrily): Retire? I?
Brovik: From the agreement, that is.
Solness: So that's it, is it? Halvard Solness to make room for younger men! Never in the world!
Brovik (rising painfully): Then I'm to die without any certainty, any gleam of happiness or trust in Ragnar?
Solness: You must pass out of life as best you can.
[Brovik reels. Ragnar enters and takes his father home. Solness detains Kaia.
Solness: You want to marry Ragnar.
Kaia: I cared for him once—before I met you. I can't be separated from you———
Solness: Marry him as much as you please. Make him stay here, and then I can keep you, too, my dear Kaia.
Kaia (sinks down before him): Oh, how unspeakably good you are to me!
Solness: Get up! For goodness' sake get up! I think I hear someone.
[Mrs. Solness enters. She is wasted with grief, but has once been beautiful.
Mrs. Solness (with a glance at Kaia): Halvard! I'm afraid I'm disturbing you.
Solness: Not in the least. What is it, Aline?
Mrs. Solness: Merely that Dr. Herdal is in the drawing-room.
Solness: I'll come later on, dear—later on.
[Exit Mrs. Solness.
Kaia: Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I'm sure Mrs. Solness thinks ill of me in some way!
Solness: Oh, not in the least! You'd better go now, all the same, Kaia. And mind you get that matter about Ragnar settled for me. Please give me Ragnar's drawings before you go. I might glance over them.
Kaia (happy): Oh, yes, please do!
[Mrs. Solness and Dr. Herdal enter.
Mrs. Solness: Halvard, I cannot keep the doctor any longer.
Solness: Well, then, come in here.
Kaia: Good-night, Mrs. Solness.
[Kaia goes out.
Mrs. Solness: She must be quite an acquisition to you, Halvard, this Miss Fosli.
Solness: Yes, indeed. She's useful in all sorts of ways.
Mrs. Solness: So it seems.
[Mrs. Solness goes out.
Solness: Tell me, doctor, did you notice anything odd about Aline?
Dr. Herdal (smiling): Well, one couldn't help noticing
that your wife—h'm———
Dr. Herdal: That your wife isn't particularly fond of this Miss Fosli. There's nothing of any sort in the case, is there?
Solness: Not on my side.
Dr. Herdal: On hers, then?
Solness: Hardly a fair question! Still, you know she's engaged to Ragnar; but since she came here she [Pg 175] seemed to drift quite away from him.
Dr. Herdal: She drifted over to you, then?
Solness: Yes, entirely. She quivers when she comes near me.
Dr. Herdal: Why on earth don't you tell your wife the rights of it?
Solness: Because I seem to find a sort of—of salutary self-sacrifice in allowing Aline to do me an injustice. It's like paying off a little bit of a huge, immeasurable debt I owe her. Oh, I know she thinks I'm ill—crazy. And, I think, so do you.
Dr. Herdal: And what then?
Solness: Then I dare say you fancy I'm an extremely happy man—Solness, the master builder!
Dr. Herdal: You've certainly had luck on your side. First of all, the home of your wife's family was burnt down for you. A great grief to her—but you rose on the ruins. Yes, you've had luck.
Solness: But luck must turn. The younger generation will come knocking at my door. Then there's an end of Halvard Solness, the master builder. (A knock at the door. Starts.) What's that?
Dr. Herdal: Someone is knocking at the door.
Solness (loudly): Come in!
[Hilda Wangel enters. She is dressed in a tourist costume, skirt caught up for walking, and carries a knapsack and alpenstock.
Hilda: You don't recognise me?
Solness (doubtfully): No. I must admit that—just for the moment.
Dr. Herdal: But I recognise you, Miss Wangel.
Solness: Wangel? You must be the doctor's daughter up at Lysanger?
Hilda: Yes. Who else's daughter should I be?
[Solness calls in his wife, an old friend of Miss Wangel's. Hilda asks leave to stay the night. Mrs. Solness consents amiably. She and the doctor go out. Hilda and Solness alone.
Hilda: Mr. Solness, have you a bad memory?
Solness: Not that I'm aware of.
Hilda: Don't you remember what happened up at Lysanger?
Solness: It was nothing much, was it?
Hilda: How can you say that? Don't you remember how you climbed the new church tower when it was finished, and hung a great wreath on the weather-cock; and how I stood with the other white-frocked schoolgirls and screamed, "Hurrah for Mr. Solness?" And you sang up there—like harps in the air! And afterwards you kissed me, kissed me and said in ten years I'd be your princess, and you'd come back and give me a castle in Spain—a kingdom—
Solness (open-mouthed): I did?
Hilda: Yes, you. Well, the ten years are up to-day. I want my kingdom! Out with my kingdom, Mr. Solness! On the table!
Solness: But, seriously, what do you want to do here?
Hilda: I don't want that stupid imaginary kingdom—I've set my heart upon quite a different one.
Solness (gazing at her): I seem—it's strange—to have gone about all these years torturing myself with the effort to recover something—some experience which I seem to have forgotten. What a good thing it is that you have come to me now. I'd begun to be so afraid—so terribly afraid of the younger generation. One day they'll thunder at my door.
Hilda: Then I'd go out and open it. Let them come in to you on friendly terms, as it were.
Solness: No, no, no! The younger generation—it means retribution.
Hilda (with quivering lips): Can I be of any use to you, Mr. Solness?
Solness: Yes, you can. For you, too, come—under a new banner, it seems to me. Youth marshalled against [Pg 177] youth! You are the very one I have most needed.
Hilda (with happy, wondering eyes): Oh, heavens, how lovely!
Hilda: Then I have my kingdom!
Solness (involuntarily): Hilda!
Hilda (with quivering lips): Almost—I was going to say.
[She goes out. Solness follows her.
Scene.—A small drawing-room in the house of Solness. Solness is examining Ragnar Brovik's drawings. Mrs. Solness is attending to her flowers.
Solness: Is she still asleep?
Mrs. Solness (looking at him): Is it Miss Wangel you are sitting there thinking about? She was up long ago.
Solness: Oh, was she? So we've found a use for one of our three nurseries, after all, Aline, now that Hilda occupies one of them.
Mrs. Solness: Yes, we have. Their emptiness is dreadful.
Solness: We'll get on far better after this, Aline. Things will be easier.
Mrs. Solness: Because she has come?
Solness (checking himself): I mean when once we've moved into our new house. It's for your sake I've built it.
Mrs. Solness: You do far too much for me.
Solness: I can't bear to hear you say that. Stick to what I said. Things 'll be easier in the new place.
Mrs. Solness (lamenting): Oh heavens, easier! Halvard, you can never build up a real home again for me. This is no home; It will be just as desolate, as empty there as here.
[Hilda Wangel comes in.
Hilda: Good-morning, Mr. Solness!
Solness (nods): Slept well?
Hilda: Deliciously! As if in a cradle. Oh, I lay and stretched myself like—like a princess. But I dreamed I was falling over a precipice. It's tremendously thrilling when you fall and fall——
Mrs. Solness (ready to go out): I must go into town now, Halvard. (To Hilda) And I'll try to get one or two things that may be of use to you.
Hilda: Oh, you dear, sweet Mrs. Solness. You're frightfully kind——
Mrs. Solness: It's only my duty.
[Mrs. Solness goes out.
Hilda: What made her say that about her duty? Doesn't it sting you?
Solness: H'm! Haven't thought much about it.
Hilda: Yes it does. Why should she talk in that way? She might have said something really warm and cordial, you understand.
Solness: Is that how you'd like to have it?
Hilda: Yes, precisely. (She wanders over to the table and looks over Ragnar's portfolio of drawings.) Are all these drawings yours?
Solness: No; they're drawn by a young man I employ.
Hilda (sits down): Then I suppose he's frightfully clever.
Solness: Oh, he's not bad, for my purpose.
Hilda: I can't understand why you should be so stupid as to go about teaching people. No one but yourself should be allowed to build.
Solness: I keep brooding on that very thought. (Calling her to the window) Look over there; that's my new house.
Hilda: It seems to have a tremendously high tower. Are there nurseries in that house, too?
Solness: Three—as there are here. But there will never be any child in them. We have had children, Aline and I, but we didn't keep them long, our two little boys. The fright Aline got when our old house was burnt down affected her health, and she failed to rear them. Yet that fire made me. I built no more churches; but cosy, comfortable homes for human beings. But my position as an artist has been paid for in Aline's happiness. I could have prevented that fire by seeing to a flue. But I didn't. And yet the flue didn't actually cause the fire. Yet it was my fault in a certain sense.
Hilda: I'm afraid you must be—ill.
Solness: I don't think I'll ever be quite of sound mind on that point.
[Ragnar enters, and begs a few kind words about his drawings to cheer his father, who is dying. Solness dismisses him almost brutally, and bids him never think of building on his own account.
Hilda (when Ragnar has gone): That was horribly ugly—and hard and bad and cruel as well.
Solness: Oh, you don't understand my position, which I've paid so dear for. (Confidentially) Hilda, don't you agree with me that there exists special chosen people, who have the power of desiring, craving a thing, until at last it has to happen? And aren't there helpers and servers who must do their part too? But they never come of themselves. One has to call them very persistently, inwardly. So the fire happened conveniently for me; but the two little boys and Aline were sacrificed. She will never be the woman she longed to be.
Hilda: I believe you have a sickly conscience. I should like your conscience to be thoroughly robust.
Solness: Is yours robust?
Hilda: I think it is.
Solness: I think the Vikings had robust consciences. And the women they used to carry off had robust consciences, too. They often wouldn't leave their captors [Pg 180] on any account.
Hilda: These women I can understand exceedingly well.
Solness: Could you come to love a man like that?
Hilda: One can't choose whom one's going to love.
Solness: Hilda, there's something of the bird of prey in you!
Hilda: And why not? Why shouldn't I go a-hunting as well as the rest? Tell me, Mr. Solness, have you never called me to you—inwardly, you know?
Solness (softly): I almost think I must have.
Hilda: What did you want with me?
Solness: You are the younger generation, Hilda.
Hilda: Which you fear so much——
Solness: Towards which, in my heart, I yearn so deeply.
[In the next scene Hilda compels Solness to write a few kind words on Ragnar's drawings, and send them to Brovik. He entrusts the portfolio to Kaia, and thereupon dismisses her and Ragnar from his service. Mrs. Solness re-enters.
Mrs. Solness: Are you really dismissing them, Halvard?
Mrs. Solness: Her as well?
Solness: Wasn't that what you wished?
Mrs. Solness: But how can you get on without her——? Oh, no doubt you've someone else in reserve, Halvard.
Hilda (playfully): Well, I for one am not the person to stand at that desk.
Solness: Never mind, never mind. It'll be all right, Aline. Now for moving into our new home—as quickly as we can. This evening we'll hang up the wreath—right on the pinnacle of the tower. What do you say to that, Hilda?
Hilda (with sparkling eyes): It'll be splendid to see [Pg 181]you up so high once more. Mrs. Solness: For heaven's sake, don't, Miss Wangel. My husband!—when he always gets so dizzy.
Hilda: He—dizzy? I've seen him with my own eyes at the top of a high church tower.
Mrs. Solness: Impossible!
Solness: True, all the same.
Mrs. Solness: You, who can't even go out on the second-floor balcony?
Solness: You will see something different this evening.
Mrs. Solness: You're ill, you're ill! I'll write at once to the doctor. Oh, God, Oh, God!
[She goes out.
Hilda: Don't tell me my master builder daren't, cannot climb as high as he builds. You promised me a kingdom, and then you went and—well! Don't tell me you can ever be dizzy!
Solness: This evening, then, we'll hang up the wreath, Princess Hilda.
Hilda (bitterly): Over your new home—yes.
Solness: Over the new house, which will never be a home for me.
Hilda (looks straight in front of her with a far-away expression, and whispers to herself. The only words audible are): Frightfully thrilling——
Scene.—A large, broad verandah attached to Solness's dwelling-house. A flight of steps leads down to the garden below. Far to the right, among the trees, is a glimpse of the new villa, with scaffolding round the tower. Evening sky, with sun-lit clouds.
Mrs. Solness: Have you been round the garden, Miss Wangel?
Hilda: Yes, and I've found heaps of flowers.
Mrs. Solness: Are there, really? You see, I seldom go there. I don't feel that it is mine any longer. They've parcelled it out and built houses for strangers, who can look in upon me from their windows.
Hilda: Mrs. Solness—may I stay here with you a little?
Mrs. Solness: Yes, by all means, if you care to; but I thought you wanted to go in to my husband—to help him?
Hilda: No, thanks. Besides, he's not in. He's with the men over there. He looked so fierce, I didn't dare to talk to him.
Mrs. Solness: He's so kind and gentle in reality.
Mrs. Solness: You don't really know him yet, Miss Wangel.
Hilda: Are you pleased about the new house?
Mrs. Solness: It's what Halvard wants. It's simply my duty to submit myself to him.
Hilda: That must be difficult, indeed, when one has gone through so much as you have—the loss of your two little boys———
Mrs. Solness: One must bow to Providence and be thankful, too.
[Dr. Herdal enters and goes in again with Mrs. Solness. She wishes to talk to him about her husband's mad scheme. As they go Solness enters.
Solness: Poor Aline! I suppose she was talking about the two little boys? (Hilda shudders) Poor Aline, she will never get over it.
Hilda: I am going away.
Solness: I won't allow you to. I wish you simply to be here, Hilda.
Hilda: Oh, thank you. You know it wouldn't end there. That's why I'm going. You have duties to her. Live for those duties.
Solness: Too late! Those powers—devils, if you will!—and the troll within me as well, have drawn the life-blood out of her. I'm chained alive to a dead woman!—(in wild anguish) I—I, who cannot live without joy in life.
Hilda: What will you build next?
Solness (shaking his head): Not much more.
Hilda (with an outburst): Oh, it seems all so foolish—not to be able to grasp your own happiness, merely because someone you know happens to stand in the way——
Solness: If only one had the Viking spirit in life——
Hilda: And the other thing? What was that?
Solness: A robust conscience.
Hilda (radiant): I know what you're going to build next.
Hilda: The castle—my castle. Build it for me this moment. The ten years are up. Out with my castle, Mr. Solness! It shall stand on a very great height, so that I can see far—far around. We shall build—we two together—the very loveliest thing in all the world!
Solness: Hilda, tell me what it is.
Hilda: Builders are such very, very stupid people——
Solness: No doubt—but tell me what we two are to build together?
Hilda: Castles in the air! So easy to build (scornfully), especially for builders who have a—a dizzy conscience.
Solness: We shall build one—with a firm foundation. (Ragnar enters with the wreath) Have you brought the wreath, Ragnar? Then I suppose your father's better? Wasn't he cheered by what I wrote him?
Ragnar: It came too late—he was unconscious. He had had a stroke.
Solness: Go home to him. Give me the wreath.
Ragnar: You don't mean that you yourself—no—I'll stop.
Hilda: Mr. Solness, I will stand here and look at you.
[Solness takes the wreath and goes down through the garden. Mrs. Solness, in an agony of apprehension, re-enters and sends Ragnar to fetch her husband back from the new building. She returns indoors.
Solness (re-entering): Oh, it's you, Hilda! I was afraid it was Aline or the doctor that wanted me.
Hilda: You're easily frightened. They say you're afraid to climb about scaffoldings. Is it true you're afraid?
Solness: Not of death—but—of retribution.
Hilda: I don't understand that.
Solness: Sit down, and I'll tell you something. You know I began by building churches. I'd been piously brought up. I thought it was the noblest task, pleasing to Him for Whom churches are built. Then up at Lysanger I understood that He meant me to have no love and happiness of my own, but just to be a master builder for Him all my life long. That was why He took my little children! Then, that day, I did the impossible. I was able to climb up to a great height. As I stood hanging the wreath on the vane, I cried, "O Mighty One, I will be a free builder—I, too, in my sphere as Thou in Thine. I will build no more churches for Thee—only homes for human beings." But that is not worth six-pence, Hilda.
Hilda: Then you will never build anything more?
Solness: On the contrary, I'm just going to begin—the only possible dwelling-place for human happiness———
Hilda: Our castles in the air.
Solness: Our castles in the air—yes.
Hilda: Then let me see you stand free and high up (passionately). I will have you do it—just once more, Mr. Solness. Do the impossible, once again.
Solness: If I do, I will talk to Him once again up there—"Mighty Lord, henceforth I will build nothing but the loveliest thing in the world."
Hilda (carried away): Yes—yes—yes! My lovely, lovely castle! My castle in the air!
[The others go out upon the verandah. The band of the Masons' Union is heard. Ragnar tells Solness that the foreman is ready to go up with the wreath. Solness goes out. The others watch eagerly.
Dr. Herdal: There goes the foreman up the ladder.
Ragnar: Why, but it's———
Hilda (jubilant): It's the master builder himself.
Mrs. Solness: Oh, my God! Halvard, Halvard! I must go to him!
Dr. Herdal (holding her): Don't move, any of you. Not a sound.
Ragnar: I feel as if I were looking at something utterly impossible.
Hilda (ecstatically): It is the impossible that he is doing now. Can you see anyone else up there with him? There is One he is striving with. I hear a song—a mighty song. He is waving to us. Oh, wave back. Hurrah for Master Builder Solness!
[The shout is taken up. Then a shriek of horror. A human body, with planks and pieces of wood, is vaguely seen crashing down behind the trees.
Hilda: My Master Builder!
A Voice: Mr. Solness is dead. He fell right into the quarry.
Ragnar: So, after all, he could not do it.
Hilda: But he mounted right up to the top. And I heard harps in the air. (Waves her shawl, and shrieks with wild intensity) My—my Master Builder!
[N] Henrik Ibsen, poet and the creator of a new type of drama, was born at Skien, in South Norway, on March 20, 1828. Apprenticed first to a chemist at Grimstad, he next entered Christiania University, but speedily wearied of regular academic studies. He then undertook journalistic work for two years, and afterwards became a theatrical manager at Bergen. In 1857 he was appointed director of the National Theatre at Christiania, and about this time wrote, at intervals, plays in the style of the ancient Norse sagas. "The Master Builder" ("Bygmester Solness") belongs to his later efforts, and was completed in 1892. In it many critics discern the highest attainments of Ibsen's genius, and its realism is strangely combined with romance. It is a plea for the freedom of the human spirit; and the terrible drama is wrought out in language of extraordinary symbolism. Hilda Wangel is the "superwoman," who will suffer nothing to stand between her and the realisation of herself. Had Solness been as strong a spirit, the end might have been different. But he has a "sickly conscience," unable to bear the heights of freedom. Here again Ibsen is unique in his estimate of mankind. Nevertheless, his characters are all actual personalities, and live vividly. Ibsen died on May 23, 1906.
Olaf, their son
Martha Bernick, sister of the consul
Lona Hessel, elder stepsister of Mrs. Bernick
Johan Tönnesen, her younger brother
Hilmar Tönnesen, Mrs. Bernick's brother
Dina Dorf, a young lady living at the consul's
Krap, the consul's clerk
Mrs. Rummel and other ladies, friends of the consul's family
Scene.—A large garden-room in Consul Bernick's house. A number of ladies are seated in the room. Aune, who has been sent for by the Consul, is addressed by Krap at the door of the Consul's room.
Krap: I am ordered by the consul to tell you that you must stop those Saturday talks to the workmen about the injury that our new machines will do to them. Your first duty is to this establishment. Now you know the will of the consul.
Aune: The consul would have said it differently. But I know I have to thank for this the American that has put in for repairs.
Krap: That is enough. You know the consul's wishes. Pardon, ladies!
[Krap bows to ladies, and he and Aune go into the street. Rector Rörlund has been reading aloud, and now shuts the book and begins to converse with the ladies.
Rörlund: This book forms a welcome contrast to the hollowness and rottenness we see every day in the papers and magazines, which reflect the condition of the whited sepulchres, the great communities to-day. Doubt, restlessness, and insecurity are undermining society.
Dina: But are not many great things being accomplished?
Rörlund: I do not understand what you mean by great things.
Mrs. Rummel: Last year we narrowly escaped the introduction of a railroad.
Mrs. Bernick: My husband managed to block the scheme, but the papers, in consequence, said shameful things about him. But we are forgetting, dear rector, that we have to thank you for devoting so much time to us.
Rörlund: Do you not all make sacrifices in a good cause to save the lapsed and lost?
Hilmar Tönnesen (coming in with a cigar in his mouth): I have only looked in in passing. Good-morning, ladies! Well, you know Bernick has called a cabinet council about this railway nonsense again. When it is a question of money, then everything here ends in paltry material calculations.
Mrs. Bernick: But at any rate things are better than formerly, when everything ended in dissipation. [Pg 188] Mrs. Rummel: Only think of fifteen years ago. What a life, with the dancing club and music club! I well remember the noisy gaiety among families.
Mrs. Lynge: There was a company of strolling players, who, I was told, played many pranks. What was the truth of the matter?
Mrs. Rummel, when Dina is out of the room, explains to the ladies that the girl is the daughter of a strolling player who years before had come to perform for a season in the town. Dorf, the actor, had deserted both wife and child, and the wife had to take to work to which she was unaccustomed, was seized with a pulmonary malady, and died. Then Dina had been adopted by the Bernicks.
Mrs. Rummel goes on to explain that at that season also Johan, Mrs. Bernick's brother, had run away to America. After his departure it was discovered that he had been playing tricks with the cash-box of the firm, of which his widowed mother had become the head. Karsten, now Consul, Bernick had just come home from Paris. He became engaged to Betty Tönnesen, now his wife, but when he entered her aunt's room, with the girl on his arm, to announce his betrothal, Lona Hessel rose from her chair and violently boxed his ear. Then she packed her box, and went off to America. Little had been heard of Lona, except that she had in America sung in taverns, and had given lectures, and had written a most sensational book.
Scene.—The same garden-room. Mrs. Bernick. Aune enters and greets Consul Bernick.
Bernick: I am not at all pleased, Aune, with the way things are going on in the yard. The repairs are slow. The Palm Tree should long since have been at sea. That American ship, the Indian Girl, has been lying here five weeks. You do not know how to use the new machines, or else you will not use them.
Aune: Consul, the Palm Tree can go to sea in two days, but the Indian Girl is as rotten as matchwood in the bottom planking. Now, I am getting on for sixty, and I cannot take to new ways. I am afraid for the many folk whom the machinery will deprive of a livelihood.
Bernick: I did not send for you to argue. Listen now. The Indian Girl must be got ready to sail in two days, at the same time as our own ship. There are reasons for this decision. The carping newspaper critics are pretending that we are giving all our attention to the Palm Tree. If you will not do what I order, I must look for somebody who will.
Aune: You are asking impossibilities, consul. But surely you cannot think of dismissing me, whose father and grandfather worked here all their lives before me. Do you know what is meant by the dismissal of an old workman?
Bernick: You are a stubborn fellow, Aune. You oppose me from perversity. I am sorry indeed if we must part, Aune.
Aune: We will not part, consul. The Indian Girl shall be cleared in two days.
[Aune bows and retires. Hilmar Tönnesen comes through the garden gate.
Hilmar: Good-day, Betty! Good-day, Bernick. Have you heard the new sensation? The two Americans are going about the streets in company with Dina Dorf. The town is all excitement about it.
Bernick (looking out into the street): They are coming here. We must be sure to treat them well. They will soon be away again.
[Johan and Lona enter. Presently all disperse into the garden, and Bernick goes up to Johan.
Bernick: Now we are alone, Johan, I must thank you. For to you I owe home, happiness, position, and all that I have and am. Not one in ten thousand would have done all that you then did for me. I was the guilty one. On the night when that drunken wretch came home it was for Betty's sake that I broke off the entanglement [Pg 190] with Madame Dorf; but still, that you should act in such a noble spirit of self-sacrifice as to turn appearances against yourself, and go away, can never be forgotten by me.
Johan: Oh, well, we were both young and thoughtless. I was an orphan, alone and free, and was glad to get away from office drudgery. You had your old mother alive, and you had just engaged yourself to Betty, who was very fond of you. We agreed that you must be saved, and I was proud to be your friend. You had come back like a prince from abroad, and chose me for your closest friend. Now I know why. You were making love to Betty. But I was proud of it.
Bernick: Are you going back to your American farm? Not soon, I hope.
Johan: As soon as possible. I only came over to please Lona. She felt homesick. You can never think what she has been to me. You never could tolerate her, but to me she has been a mother, singing, lecturing, writing to support me when I was ill and could not work. And I may as well tell you frankly that I have told her all. But do not fear her. She will say nothing. But who would have dreamt of your taking into your house that little creature who played angels in the theatre, and scampered about here? What became of her parents?
Bernick: I wrote you all that happened. The drunken scoundrel, after leaving his wife, was killed in a drinking bout. After the wife died it was through Martha that we took little Dina in charge.
To the amazement of the Bernicks and some others, Johan makes it known that he has asked Dina to be his wife, and that she has consented. To their further astonishment and annoyance, Lona declares her profound approval of this engagement. Moreover, Lona now challenges Bernick to clear his soul of the lie on which he has stood for these fifteen years. It is a three-fold lie—the lie towards Lona, then the lie towards Betty, then the lie towards Johan. But Bernick shrinks from the terrible shame that would come on him as one of the "pillars of society."
Scene. Consul Bernick's garden-room again. Krap is speaking to the Consul.
Krap: The Palm Tree can sail to-morrow, but as for the Indian Girl, in my opinion she will not get far. I have been secretly examining the bottom of the ship, where the repairs have been pushed on very fast. The rotten place is patched up, and made to look like new, for Aune has been working himself all night at it. There is some villainy at work. I believe Aune wants, out of revenge for the use of the new machines, to send that ship to the bottom of the sea.
Bernick: This is horrible. True, Aune is an agitator who is spreading discontent, but this is inconceivable.
[Krap goes out, and presently Lona Hessel enters.
Bernick: Well, Lona, what do you think of me now?
Lona: Just what I thought before. A lie more or less——
Bernick: I can talk to you more confidentially than to others. I shall hide nothing from you. I had a part in spreading that rumour about Johan and the cash-box. But make allowance for me. Our house when I came home from my foreign tour was threatened with ruin, and one misfortune followed another. I was almost in despair, and in my distraction got into that difficulty which ended with the disappearance of Johan. Then after you and he left various reports were spread. Some folks declared that he had taken the money to America. I was in such difficulty that I did not say a word to contradict the rumours.
Lona: So a lie has made you one of the pillars of society.
Johan (entering): I have come to tell you that I intend [Pg 192] not only to marry Dina Dorf, but to remain here and to defy all these liars. Yesterday I promised to keep silence, but now I need the truth. You must set me free by telling the truth, that I may win Dina.
Bernick (in great agitation): But just reflect on my position. If you aim such a blow as this at me I am ruined irretrievably. The welfare of this community is also at stake. If my credit is not impaired, I shall soon be a millionaire, when certain company projects mature. Johan, go away, and I will share with you. I have staked all I possess on schemes now about to mature, but if my character is impaired, my utter ruin is inevitable.
To the surprise of Bernick, Johan announces that he will go to America, but will shortly return for Dina, and that accordingly he will sail next day in the Indian Girl, the captain having promised to take him. He will sell his farm and be back in two months, and then the guilty one must take the guilt on himself.
Johan: The wind is good, and in three weeks I shall be across the Atlantic unless the Indian Girl should go to the bottom.
Bernick (involuntarily starting): Go to the bottom?
Why should she?
Johan: Yes, indeed, why?
Bernick (very softly): Go to the bottom?
They separate, and Aune enters, and anxiously asks if Bernick is positively determined that the American ship shall sail the next day, on pain of his dismissal. He replies that he supposes the repairs are properly finished, and therefore the Indian Girl must sail. A merchant steps in to say that the storm-signals have been hoisted, for a tempest is threatening. This gentleman says to Bernick that the Palm Tree ought to start all the same, for she is a splendidly-built craft, and she is only to cross the North Sea; but as for the Indian Girl, such an old hulk would be in great peril. But Bernick evades the remonstrance, and no alteration is made in the plans of procedure. The ship is to sail.
Scene.—The same garden-room. It is a stormy afternoon and growing dark.
Bernick is apprised that he is to be most honourably fêted by his fellow citizens who are about to form a procession, and to parade before his house with music. The proudest moment of his life is at hand. But the fact that the sea is running high outside the harbour is causing great agitation to the mind of Bernick. Lona looks in to say that she has been saying farewell to Johan. He has not changed his determination to sail. A strange incident happens. Little Olaf Bernick runs away from home to slip on board the ship and accompany his uncle to America.
Lona: So the great hour has arrived. The whole town is to be illuminated.
Bernick (pacing to and fro in agitation): Yes. Lona, you despise me.
Lona: Not yet.
Bernick: You have no right to despise me. For you little realise how lonely I stand in this narrow society. What have I accomplished, with all my efforts? We who are considered the pillars of society are but its tools after all. Since you came home from America I have been keenly feeling all this. All this show and deception gives me no satisfaction. But I work for my son, who will be able to found a truer state of things and to be happier than his father.
Lona: With a lie for its basis? Think what an heritage you are preparing for Olaf.
Bernick: Why did you and Johan come home to crush me?
Lona: Let me just tell you that after all Johan will not come back to crush you. For he has gone for ever and Dina has gone also to become his wife.
Bernick (amazed): Gone—in the Indian Girl?
Lona: They did not dare to risk their lives in that crazy tub. They are in the Palm Tree.
Bernick rushes to his office to order the Indian Girl to be stopped in the harbour, but he learns that she already is out at sea. But presently Hilmar comes to tell him that Olaf has run away in the Indian Girl. He cries out that the ship must be stopped at any cost. Krap says it is impossible. Music is heard, for the procession is approaching. Bernick, in an agony of soul, declares that he cannot receive anyone. The whole street blazes with the illuminations, and on a great transparency on the opposite house gleams the inscription, "Long live Karsten Bernick, the Pillar of our Society!"
Bernick (at the window, shrinking back): I cannot look at all this. Away with all these mocking words! I shall never see Olaf again.
Mrs. Bernick: You will see him again, Karsten, all right. I have got him. Do you think a mother does not watch? I overheard a few words from our boy which set me on my guard. I and Aune went in the sailing boat from the yard and reached the Indian Girl when she was on the point of sailing, and he was soon discovered hiding away.
Bernick: And is the ship under sail again?
Mrs. Bernick: No. The darkness came on more densely, the pilot was alarmed, and so Aune, in your name, took it on himself to order the ship to stay till to-morrow.
Bernick: What an unspeakable blessing.
Krap: The procession is coming through the garden gate, consul.
Rector Rörlund, at the head of the procession, makes a presentation to Bernick in the name of the committee, and expresses the public esteem and admiration for the consul's services to society. Bernick, to the astonishment of the audience, proceeds to make a full confession of the duplicity and deceit of which he has been guilty. He unreservedly places himself in the hands of the people, who quietly disperse. Bernick at once finds that, whatever the people may think, he has won the sympathy of all his own circle. Lona lays her hands on his shoulder with the words, "Brother-in-law, you have at last discovered that the spirit of Truth and the spirit of Freedom are the real Pillars of Society."
[O] "The Pillars of Society," published in 1877, is perhaps the most conspicuous of the series of psychological dramatic studies through which Ibsen has exercised untold influence on European drama. In it he deals with the problem of hypocrisy in a small commercial centre of industry, and pours scorn on contemporary humanity, while cherishing the highest hopes of human possibilities for the future.
Young Knowell, in love with Bridget
Master Stephen, a country gull
Master Matthew, a town gull
Well-Bred, his half-brother
Kitely, husband to Down-right's sister
Bridget, Kitely's sister
Tib, Cob's wife
Scene I.—In Knowell's house. Enter Knowell, with a letter from Well-Bred to Young Knowell.
Knowell: This letter is directed to my son.
Yet I will break it open.
What's here? What's this?
(Reads) "Why, Ned, I beseech thee, hast thou forsworn
all thy friends i' the Old Jewry? Dost thou
think us all Jews that inhabit there yet? If thou dost,
come over and but see our frippery. Leave thy vigilant
father alone, to number over his green apricots evening
and morning, o' the north-west wall. Prythee, come over
to me quickly this morning; I have such a present for
thee! One is a rhymer, sir, o' your own batch, but doth
think himself a poet-major of the town; the other, I
will not venture his description till you come."
Why, what unhallowed ruffian would have writ
In such a scurrilous manner to a friend!
Why should he think I tell my apricots?
Take you this letter, and deliver it my son,
But with no notice I have opened it, on your life.
[Exeunt. Then, enter Young Knowell, with the letter, and Brain-Worm.
Young Knowell: Did he open it, say'st thou?
Brain-Worm: Yes, o' my word, sir, and read the contents. For he charged me on my life to tell nobody that he opened it, which unless he had done he would never fear to have it revealed.
[Young Knowell moves apart to read the letter. Enter Stephen. Knowell laughs.
Stephen: 'Slid, I hope he laughs not at me; an he do——
Knowell: Here was a letter, indeed, to be intercepted by a man's father! Well, if he read this with patience—— (Seeing Stephen) What, my wise cousin! Nay, then, I'll furnish our feast with one gull more. How now, Cousin Stephen—melancholy?
STEPHEN: Yes, a little. I thought you had laughed at me, cousin.
Knowell: Be satisfied, gentle coz, and, I pray you, let me entreat a courtesy of you. I am sent for this morning by a friend in the Old Jewry: will you bear me company?
Stephen: Sir, you shall command me twice as far.
Knowell: Now, if I can but hold him up to his height!
Scene II.—Bobadill's room, a mean chamber, in Cob's house. Bobadill lying on a bench. Enter Matthew, ushered in by Tib.
Matthew: 'Save you, sir; 'save you, captain.
Bobadill: Gentle Master Matthew! Sit down, I pray you. Master Matthew in any case, possess no gentlemen of our acquaintance with notice of my lodging. Not that I need to care who know it! But in regard I would not be too popular and generally visited, as some are.
Matthew: True, captain, I conceive you.
Bobadill: For do you see, sir, by the heart of valour in me except it be to some peculiar and choice spirit like yourself—but what new book have you there?
Matthew: Indeed, here are a number of fine speeches in this book.
"O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears"—
There's a conceit! Another:
"O life, no life but lively form of death!
O world, no world but mass of public wrongs"—
O the Muses! Is't not excellent? But when will you come to see my study? Good faith I can show you some very good things I have done of late. But, captain, Master Well-bred's elder brother and I are fallen out exceedingly.
Bobadill: Squire Down-right, the half-brother was't not? Hang him rook! Come hither; you shall chartel [Pg 198] him. I'll show you a trick or two you shall kill him with, at pleasure, the first staccato, if you will, by this air. Come, put on your cloak, and we'll go to some private place where you are acquainted, some tavern or so. What money ha' you about you?
Matthew: Faith, not past a two shillings or so.
Bobadill: 'Tis somewhat with the least; but come, we will have a bunch of radish and salt to taste our wine, and after we'll call upon Young Well-bred.
Scene I.—Kitely's house. Kitely explains to Down-Right that Well-Bred, who lodges with him brings riotous companions to the house, which makes him much troubled for his pretty wife and sister. Bobadill and Matthew calling in search of Well-Bred, the former insults Down-Right, and leaves him storming.
Scene II.—Moorfields. Enter Brain-Worm, disguised as a maimed soldier.
Brain-Worm: The truth is, my old master intends to follow my young master, dry-foot, over Moorfields to London this morning. Now I, knowing of this hunting match, or rather conspiracy, and to insinuate with my young master, have got me before in this disguise, determining here to lie in ambuscade. If I can but get his cloak, his purse, his hat, anything to stay his journey, I am made for ever, in faith. But here comes my young master and his cousin, as I am a true counterfeit man of war, and no soldier.
[Enter Young Knowell and Stephen. Brain-Worm, with a cock-and-bull tale of his services in the wars, persuades Stephen to buy his sword as a pure Toledo. Exeunt. Presently, enter Old Knowell, and Brain-Worm meets him.
Brain-Worm (aside): My master! Nay, faith, have at you; I am fleshed now, I have sped so well. Worshipful sir, I beseech you, respect the estate of a poor soldier; I am ashamed of this base course of life, but extremity provokes me to it; what remedy?
Knowell: I have not for you now.
Brain-Worm: Good sir, by that hand, you may do the
part of a kind gentleman, in lending a poor soldier the
price of a can of beer; Heaven shall pay you, sweet worship!
Knowell: Art thou a man, and shamest not thou to beg? To practise such a servile kind of life? Either the wars might still supply thy wants, Or service of some virtuous gentleman.
Brain-Worm: Faith, sir, I would gladly find some other course—I know what I would say; but as for service—my name, sir? Please you, Fitzsword, sir.
Knowell: Say that a man should entertain thee now, Would'st thou be modest, humble, just, and true?
Brain-Worm: Sir, by the place and honour of a soldier.
Knowell: Nay, nay, I like not these affected oaths. But follow me; I'll prove thee.
Brain-Worm: Yes, sir, straight. 'Slid, was there ever a fox in years to betray himself thus! Now shall I be possessed of all his counsels, and by that conduit, my young master.
Scene I.—A room in the Windmill Tavern. Well-Bred, Bobadill, Matthew. Enter Young Knowell with Stephen.
Well-Bred: Ned Knowell! By my soul, welcome!
(Lower) Sirrah, there be the two I writ of. But what strange piece of silence is this? The sign of the Dumb [Pg 200] Man?
Knowell: Oh, sir, a kinsman of mine; he has his humour, sir.
Stephen: My name is Master Stephen, sir; I am this gentleman's own cousin, sir; I am somewhat melancholy, but you shall command me.
Matthew: Oh, it's your only fine humour, sir. Your true melancholy breeds your perfect fine wit. I am melancholy myself, divers times, and then I do no more but take pen and paper presently, and overflow you half a score or a dozen of fine sonnets at a sitting.
Well-Bred: Captain Bobadill, why muse you so?
Knowell: He is melancholy, too.
Bobadill: Why, sir, I was thinking of a most honourable piece of service was performed at the beleaguering of Strigonium; the first but the best leaguer that ever I beheld with these eyes. Look you, sir, by St. George, I was the first man that entered the breach; and had I not effected it with resolution, I had been slain if I had had a million of lives. Observe me judicially, sweet sir. They had planted me three demiculvirins just in the mouth of the breach, but I, with these single arms, my poor rapier, ran violently upon the Moors, and put 'em pell-mell to the sword.
[Enter Brain-Worm, who discloses himself apart, to Knowell and Well-Bred, and reports that Old Knowell is awaiting his return at Justice Clement's house. Exeunt.
Scene II.—At Kitely's. Kitely has gone to Justice Clement's; very anxious about his wife and sister, he has ordered Cash to send him a messenger if Well-Bred comes home with any of his boon-companions. Enter to Cash, Well-Bred, with the party as in the last scene.
Well-Bred: Whither went your master, Thomas, canst thou tell?
Cash: I know not; to Justice Clement's, I think, sir.
Knowell: Justice Clement! What's he?
Well-Bred: Why, dost thou not know him? He is a city magistrate, a justice here, an excellent good lawyer and a great scholar; but the only mad merry old fellow in Europe.
Bobadill: Master Kitely's man, pray thee vouchsafe us the lighting of this match. (Cash takes match, and exits) 'Tis your right, Trinidado. Did you never take any, Master Stephen?
Stephen: No, truly, sir, but I'll learn to take it now, since you commend it so.
Bobadill: Sir, I have been in the Indies where this herb grows; where neither myself nor a dozen gentlemen more of my knowledge have received the taste of any other nutriment in the world for the space of one and twenty weeks, but the fume of this simple only. By Hercules, I do hold it, and will affirm it, before any prince in Europe, to be the most sovereign and precious weed that ever the earth tendered to the use of man.
[Cob has entered meanwhile.
Cob: Mack, I marvel what pleasure they have in taking this roguish tobacco. It's good for nothing but to choke a man, and fill him full of smoke and embers. And there were no wiser men than I, I'd have it present whipping, man or woman, that should but deal with a tobacco pipe.
[Bobadill cudgels him. Enter Cash, who drags off the lamenting Cob. While the rest are conversing, Matthew and Bobadill slip out.
Well-Bred: Soft, where's Master Matthew? Gone?
Brain-Worm: No, sir, they went in here.
Well-Bred: Oh, let's follow them. Master Matthew [Pg 202] is gone to salute his mistress in verse. We shall have the happiness to hear some of his poetry now. He never comes impoverished.
Scene III.—Justice Clement's. Cob finds Kitely and reports the arrival of Well-Bred's party. Kitely hurries home in a panic. Enter Clement with Old Knowell and Formal.
Clement (to Cob): How now, sirrah? What make you here?
Cob: A poor neighbour of your worship, come to crave the peace of your worship; a warrant for one that has wronged me, sir; an I die within a twelvemonth and a day, I may swear by the law of the land that he killed me.
Clement: How, knave? What colour hast thou for that?
Cob: Both black and blue, an't please your worship; colour enough, I warrant you. [Baring his arm.
Clement: How began the quarrel between you?
Cob: Marry indeed, an't please your worship, only because I spake against their vagrant tobacco; for nothing else.
Clement: Ha! You speak against tobacco. Your name?
Cob: Cob, sir, Oliver Cob.
Clement: Then, Oliver Cob, you shall go to jail.
Cob: Oh, I beseech your worship, for heaven's sake, dear master justice!
Clement: He shall not go; I did but fear the knave. Formal, give him his warrant. (Exeunt Formal and Cob) How now, Master Knowell, in dumps? Your cares are nothing. What! Your son is old enough to govern himself; let him run his course.
Scene I.—At Kitely's. Dame Kitely and Down-Right, who, to his sister's great indignation, is reproving her for admitting Well-Bred's companions. Enter Bridget, Matthew, and Bobadill; Well-Bred, Stephen, Young Knowell, and Brain-Worm at the back.
Bridget: Servant, in truth, you are too prodigal
Of your wit's treasure thus to pour it forth
Upon so mean a subject as my worth.
What is this same, I pray you?
Matthew: Marry, an elegy, an elegy, an odd toy.
I'll read it if you please.
[Exit Down-Right, disgusted. The rest listen to Matthew's "elegy," consisting of scraps from Marlowe. As Down-Right re-enters, fuming, Well-Bred is beginning to chaff Matthew. Down-Right interrupts with an attack on the whole company, and threatens to slit Bobadill's ears. Swords are drawn all round, and Knowell is endeavouring to calm the disturbance, when Kitely enters.
Well-Bred: Come, let's go. This is one of my brother's ancient humours, this.
Stephen: I am glad nobody was hurt by his "ancient humour."
[Exeunt all but they of the house. Bridget and Dame Kitely praise the conduct of Knowell, whereupon Kitely conceives that he must be Dame Kitely's lover.
Scene II.—The Old Jewry. Well-Bred has agreed with Knowell to persuade Bridget to meet him at the Tower so that they may be married. Brain-Worm has been despatched to carry out other details of the plot. Meeting Old Knowell with Formal he reports that (as Fitzsword) his connection with OLD Knowell has been discovered; that he has escaped [Pg 204] with difficulty from Young Knowell, and that the father had better hasten to Cob's house to catch his son in flagrante delicto. He then goes off with Formal. Enter Bobadill, Young Knowell, Matthew, and Stephen.
Bobadill: I will tell you, sir, by way of private; were I known to her majesty, I would undertake to save three parts of her yearly charge in holding war. Thus, sir, I would select nineteen more gentlemen of good spirit; and I would teach the special rules, your punto, your reverso, your staccato, till they could all play very near as well as myself. We twenty would come into the field, and we would challenge twenty of the enemy; kill them, challenge twenty more; kill them, and thus kill every man his twenty a day, that's twenty score; twenty score, that's two hundred; five days a thousand, two hundred days kills forty thousand.
[Enter Down-Right, who challenges Bobadill to draw on the spot, and cudgels him while Matthew runs away, to Knowell's enjoyment. Exeunt all. Well-Bred makes the proposed arrangement with Bridget. Brain-Worm, who has stolen Formal's clothes, tricks Kitely and Dame Kitely severally into hurrying off to Cob's house to catch each other in misdoing. Then, meeting Bobadill and Matthew he engages to procure them a warrant against Down-Right, and a sergeant to serve it. Old Knowell, Kitely, and Dame Kitely attended by Cash, meet outside Cob's house, each with their own suspicions; there is a general altercation, while TIB refuses to admit any of them.
Scene III.—A street. Brain-Worm, who has exchanged Formal's clothes for a sergeant's attire. Enter Matthew and Bobadill.
Matthew: 'Save you, friend. Are you not here by appointment of Justice Clement's man?
Brain-Worm: Yes, an't please you, sir; with a warrant to be served on one Down-right.
[Enter Stephen, wearing Down-Right's cloak, which he had picked up in the scrimmage. As they are arresting him, Down-Right enters. He submits to arrest, but has Stephen arrested for wearing his cloak. The whole party marches off to Justice Clement's.
Scene.—Hall in Justice Clement's. Clement, Kitely, Old Knowell.
Clement: Stay, stay, give me leave; my chair, sirrah. Master Knowell, you went to meet your son. Mistress Kitely, you went to find your husband; you, Master Kitely, to find your wife. And Well-bred told her first, and you after. You are gulled in this most grossly all.
[Bobadill and Matthew are ushered in; then Brain-Worm, with Down-Right and Stephen; all make their charges.
Clement: You there (to Bobadill), had you my warrant for this gentleman's apprehension?
Bobadill: Ay, an't please your worship; I had it of your clerk.
Clement: Officer (to Brain-Worm), have you the warrant?
Brain-Worm: No, sir; your worship's man, Master Formal, bid me do it.
Brain-Worm, in fear of some worse penalty, discloses himself. As he reveals one after another of his devices, the delighted Justice begs for him a readily granted pardon from Old Knowell. Finally, he announces that by this time Young Knowell and Bridget are married. Clement despatches a servant to bring home the young couple to dinner "upon[Pg 206] my warrant." Enter Bridget, Young Knowell, and Well-Bred.
Clement: Oh, the young company—welcome, welcome, give you joy. Nay, Mistress Bridget, blush not; Master Bridegroom, I have made your peace; give me your hand. So will I for all the rest, ere you forsake my roof. Come, put off all discontent; you, Master Down-right, your anger; you, Master Knowell, your cares; Master Kitely and his wife, their jealousy.
Kitely: Sir, thus they go from me. Kiss me, sweetheart.
Clement: 'Tis well, 'tis well. This night we'll dedicate to friendship, love, and laughter.
[P] Ben Jonson was born at Westminster in 1573. He was brought up by his stepfather, a master bricklayer, and educated at Westminster School, where he got his learning under Camden. While still a youngster, he went a-fighting in the Low Countries, returning to London about 1592. In 1598 he emerged as a dramatic author with the play "Every Man in His Humour." This was the first of a series of comedies, tragedies, and masques, which rank highly. In human interest, however, none surpassed his first success. Unlike Shakespeare, with whom he consorted among the famous gatherings of wits at the Mermaid Tavern, Jonson regarded himself as the exponent of a theory of dramatic art. He was steeped in classical learning, which he is wont to display somewhat excessively. Besides his dramas, Jonson wrote many lyrical pieces, including some admirable songs, and produced sundry examples of other forms of versification. He died on August 6, 1637.
The poet exclaims against the dreary commonplaces in contemporary poetry, and against recitations fit to crack the very statues and colonnades of the neighbourhood! But he also underwent his training in rhetoric.
It may be asked, why write satire? The reason is to be found in the ubiquitous presence of offensive men and women. It would goad anyone into fury to note the social abuses, the mannish women, and the wealthy upstarts of the imperial city.
There is an endless succession of figures to annoy: the too successful lawyer, the treacherous spy, the legacy-hunter. How one's anger blazes when a ward is driven to evil courses by the unscrupulous knavery of a guardian, or when a guilty governor gets a merely nominal sentence!
It is no time to write fabulous epics when cuckolds connive at a wife's dishonour, and when horse-racing ne'er-do-wells expect commissions in the army. One is tempted to fill volumes in the open street about such figures as the forger carried by his slaves in a handsome litter, or about the wealthy widow acquainted with the mode of getting rid of a husband by poison.
After a vigorous outburst against the degrading scramble among impoverished clients for doles from their patrons, and a mordant onslaught upon the gluttony of the niggardly rich, Juvenal sees in his age the high-water mark of iniquity.
This sharp indictment is put in the mouth of one Umbricius, who is represented as leaving his native city in disgust. Rome is no place for an honourable character, he exclaims.
The worst feature is the predominance of crafty and cozening Greeks, who, by their versatility and diplomacy, can oust the Roman.
The insinuating flatteries of these aliens are so masterfully contrived that the blunt Roman has no chance against such a nation of actors.
Besides, they are dangerously immoral. Their philosophers are perfidious. These sycophant foreigners can poison a patron against a poor Roman client. This leads to an outburst against poverty and its disadvantages.
It is a city where appearance beyond one's means must he kept up; whereas, in the country one need never spend money even on a toga. Everything has its price in Rome. To interview a great man, his pampered lackeys must have a fee.
Then there are risks in a great capital unknown in country towns. There are tumble-down tenements with the buttresses ready to give; there are top garrets where you may lose your life in a fire. You could buy a nice rustic home for the price at which a dingy hovel is let in Rome. Besides, the din of the streets is killing. Rome is bad for the nerves. Folk die of insomnia. By day you get crushed, bumped, and caked with mud. A soldier drives his hobnails into your toe. You may be the victim of a street accident.
In the dark there are equal perils.
Lucky if people throw only dirty water from their windows! Be thankful to escape without a broken skull. A drunken bully may meet you.
And what chance have you, without attendants, against a street rough? Then there is the burglar; and the criminal classes are regularly increased in town whenever the authorities grow active enough to clear the main Italian roads of bandits.
The several passions and aspirations of mankind, successively examined in the light of legend and history, prove how hollow, if not pernicious, are the principal objects of pursuit. Wealth is one of the commonest aims.
What would the "weeping" and the "laughing" sages of ancient Greece have thought of the pageants of modern Rome? Consider the vanity of ambition. It is illustrated by the downfall of the powerful minister Sejanus. On his overthrow, the fickle mob turned savagely upon his statues.
Would you rather be an instance of fallen greatness, or enjoy some safe post in an obscure Italian town? What ruined a Crassus? Or a Pompey? Or a victorious Cæsar? Why, the realisation of their own soaring desires.
Another vain aspiration covets fame in eloquence. But the gift of oratory overthrew the two greatest orators of Greece and Rome—Demosthenes and Cicero. If Cicero had only stuck to his bad verses, he would never have earned Antony's deadly hatred by his "Second Philippic" (see Vol. IX, p. 155).
A different passion is for renown in war. What is the end of it all? Only an epitaph on a tombstone, and tombstones themselves perish; for even a tree may split them!
Consider next the yearning after long life.
The old man rouses feelings of impatient loathing in those around him; his physical strength and faculties for enjoyment are gone. Even if he remain hale, he may suffer harrowing bereavements. Nestor, Peleus, and Priam had to lament the death of heroic sons; and in Roman history Marius and Pompey outlived their good fortune.
Again, there is the frequent prayer for good looks. But beauty is a danger. If linked with unchastity, it leads to evil courses. Even if linked with chastity, it may draw on its possessor the tragic fate of a Lucretia, a Virginia, a Hippolytus, or a Bellerophon. What is a Roman knight to do if an empress sets her heart on him?
Amid all such vanities, then, is there nothing left for which men may reasonably pray?
[Q] Juvenal was born, it is usually believed, at Aquinum, about 55 a.d. He lived to an advanced age, but the year of his death is unknown. Rome he evidently knew well, and from long experience. But there is great obscurity about his career. His "Satires," in declamatory indignation, form a powerful contrast to the genial mockery of Horace (p. 91): where Horace may be said to have a Chaucerian smile for human weakness, Juvenal displays the wrath of a Langland. Juvenal denounces abuses at Rome in unmeasured terms. Frequently Zolaesque in his methods of exposing vice, he contrives by his realism to produce a loathing for the objects of his attack. Dryden rendered into free and vigorous English several of the satires; and Gifford wrote a complete translation, often of great merit. The translation here has, with adaptations, been drawn from both, and a few lines have been incorporated from Johnson, whose two best-known poems, "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes," were paraphrases from Juvenal.
Rejoice, ye sons of earth, in the honour bestowed on man. He who was before all worlds, by Whom all things in this visible creation were made, descended to our earth as your Redeemer. Near Jerusalem, once the city where God displayed His grace, the Divine Redeemer withdrew from the multitude and sought retirement. On the side where the sun first gilds the city with its beams rises a mountain, whose summit He had oft honoured with His presence when during the solitary night He spent the hours in fervent prayer.
Gabriel, descending, stands between two perfumed cedars and addresses Jesus.
Jesus answered not, but regarded Gabriel with a look of divine complacency. He went up to the summit, where were the confines of heaven, and there prayed. Earth rejoiced at the renewal of her beauty as His voice resounded and penetrated the gates of the deep, but only He and the Eternal Father knew the whole meaning of the divine petition. As Jesus arose from prayer, in His face shone sublimity, love, and resignation.
Now He and the Eternal Father entered on discourse mysterious and profound, obscure even to immortals; discourse of things which in future ages should display to man the love of God. A seraph entered the borders of the celestial world, whose whole extent is surrounded by suns. No dark planet approaches the refulgent blaze.
Up to this sacred way Gabriel ascended, approaching heaven, which, in the very centre of the assemblage of suns, rises into a vast dome. When the Eternal walks forth, the harmonic choirs, borne on the wings of the wind to the borders of the sunny arch, chant His praise, joining the melody of their golden harps. During the hymn the seraph, as messenger of the Mediator, stood on one of the suns nearest heaven. The Eternal Father rewarded the choirs with a look of benignity and then beheld the Chief Seraph, whose name with God is The Chosen, and by the heavenly host is called Eloah.
The seraph having descended to the altar of the earth, Adam, filled with eager expectation, hastened to him. A lucid, ethereal body was the radiant mansion of his blessed spirit, and his form was as lovely as the bright image in the Creator's mind when meditating on the form of man in the blooming fields of Paradise. Adam approached with a radiant smile, which suffused over his countenance an air of ineffable and sweetest dignity, and thus with impassioned accents he spoke.
Gabriel descends again to earth, the stars silently saluting him with a universal morn. He finds Jesus placidly sleeping on a bare rock, and after long contemplation, apostrophises all nature to be silent, for her Creator sleeps.
The morn descends over the forest of waving cedars, and Jesus awakes. The spirits of the patriarchs see Him with joy from their solar mansion. Raphael, John's guardian angel, tells Jesus that this disciple is viewing a demoniac among the sepulchres on the Mount of Olives. He goes thither, and puts Satan to flight, who, returning to hell, gives an account of what he knows of Jesus, and determines that He shall be put to death. Satan is opposed by Abaddon. Another grim fiend speaks.
After the council of fiends, all hell approves Satan's determination. Satan and Adramelech return to earth to execute their design. Abaddon, following them at a distance, sees at the gate of hell Abdiel, the seraph who was once his friend, whom he addresses. But Abdiel ignoring him, he presses forward, bewails the loss of his glory, despairs of finding grace, and after vainly endeavouring to destroy himself, descends to earth. Satan and Adramelech also advance to earth and alight on Mount Olivet.
Caiaphas assembles the Sanhedrim, and relates a vision which has terrified him. He declares that Jesus must die, but counsels caution as to the manner of the execution. Philo, a dreaded priest and Pharisee, steps forward, and with great vehemence pronounces the dream of Caiaphas a mere empty fiction, yet joins in counselling the death of Jesus. He declares Caiaphas [Pg 221] a disgrace to the priesthood of God, but that Jesus would abolish the priesthood altogether.
The evil counsel is warmly opposed by Gamaliel and Nicodemus. Judas has a private conference with Caiaphas. The Messiah sends Peter and John into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover. Jesus, going to Jerusalem, is met by Judas. Jesus institutes a memorial of His death. Judas goes out from the supper. Then Jesus prays for His disciples, and returns to the Mount of Olives.
God descends towards the earth to judge the Mediator, and rests on Tabor. The Almighty sends the seraph Eloah to comfort Jesus in Gethsemane by singing a triumphant song on His future glory.
The Messiah is seized and bound. The assembled priests are seized with consternation, but their fears are removed by the arrival of successive messengers. Jesus being taken before Annas, Philo goes thither and brings Him to Caiaphas. Portia, Pilate's wife, comes to see Jesus. She approaches from the Procurator's palace near the hall of assembly, by an arcade lit by lamps.
On false evidence of suborned witnesses Jesus is condemned. Eloah and Gabriel discourse on the Saviour's sufferings.
Gabriel: Eloah! He at whose command the dead
Of the renewed creation shall arise,
The tempest of the resurrection shaking
The earth around, that she with bearing throes
Will yield the dust at His almighty call.
He then with thunders and attendant hosts
Of angels and in terrors clad, that stars
Before Him sink, will judge that sinful world.
Eloah: He said, Let there be light! And there was light.
Thou, Gabriel, sawest how at His command
Effulgent beams rushed forth! With thought profound
He still advanced: and lo, at His right hand
Ten thousand times ten thousand beings bright
Collected, and an animating storm
Advanced before Him. Then the suns
Rolled in their orbits! Then the harmony
Of morning spheres resounded round the poles.
And then the heavens appeared!
Gabriel: And at His word
[Pg 224] Eternal night sank far below the heavens!
Thou sawest, Eloah, how He stood on high
O'er the Profound. He spake again, and, lo,
A hideous mass inanimate appeared
And lay before Him, seeming ruins vast
Of broken suns, or of a hundred worlds
To chaos crushed. He summoned then the flame,
And the nocturnal blaze rushed in the fields
Of everlasting death. Then misery
Existed, which from the depths ascended
In cries of anguish and despondency.
Then was created the infernal gulf!
Thus they communed. Portia no longer could
The Blessed Saviour's sufferings behold,
And lone ascended to the palace roof.
She stood and wrung her hands, her weeping eyes
To heaven uplifted, while she thus express'd
The agitated feelings of her heart:
"O Thou, the First of Gods, who didst create
This world from night of darkness, and who gav'st
A heart to man! Whatever be Thy name—
God, Jupiter, Jehovah, Romulus?
Or Abraham's God? Not of chosen few,
Thou art the Judge and Father of us all!
May I before Thee, Lord, with tears display
The feelings of my heart, and rend my soul?
What is the crime of this most peaceful man?
Why should He thus be barbarously used
And persecuted even unto death
By these inhuman and relentless men?
Dost Thou delight from Thine Olympus, Lord,
To look on suffering virtue? Is to Thee
The object sacred? To the heart of men,
That is not of humanity devoid,
It is most awful, wondrous, and endearing;
But He who formed the stars, can He admire
[Pg 225] And wonder? No, far too sublime is He
To admiration ever scope to give!
Yet th' object must e'en to the God of Gods
Be sacred, else He never could permit
That thus the good and guiltless be oppress'd.
My tears of pity and compassion flow,
But thou discernest suffering virtue's tears
That flow in secret and to Thee appeal.
Great God of Gods, reward and if Thou canst,
Admire the magnanimity He shows."
Peter, in deep distress, tells John he has denied his Master, then departs and deplores his guilt.
Eloah welcomes the returning morn with a hymn, and hails the Day of the Atonement, precious, fair day of oblation, sent by Love Divine.
The Messiah is led to Pilate, and is accused by Caiaphas and Philo. Judas, in despair, destroys himself. Jesus is sent to Herod, who, expecting to see a miracle, is disappointed. After being treated with derision, Jesus is sent back to Pilate, who seeks to save Him, but is persuaded to release Barabbas. Jesus is scourged, arrayed in a purple robe, crowned with thorns, and delivered to the priests, who cause Him to be led to crucifixion. Eloah descends from the throne and proclaims that the Redeemer is led to death, on which the angels of the earth form a circle round Mount Calvary. Jesus is nailed to the cross. One of the two thieves crucified with Him is converted. Uriel places a planet before the sun to obscure the dreadful scene on Calvary, and then conducts to earth the souls of all future generations of mankind.
The Angel of Death descends to address Jesus, Who dies. The earth shakes, the veil of the Temple is rent, the Old Testament saints are raised. The converted thief dies. Joseph of Arimathea begs the body of Jesus, and he and Nicodemus wrap it in spices and perform the interment. Mary and some devout women meet in John's house, to which Nicodemus brings the crown of thorns taken from the body at burial. The interment is solemnised by choirs of risen saints and angels.
[R] Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, who was born at Quedlinburg on July 2, 1724, and died on March 14, 1803, was one of Germany's most famous eighteenth century poets. While studying theology at Jena University, he conceived the idea of a great spiritual epic, and actually planned in prose the first three cantos of "The Messiah," which he afterwards finished at Leipzig. These were published anonymously in the Bremische Beiträge in 1748, the remaining five appearing in 1773. Although the poem perhaps lacks in unity of conception and precision of style, it contains many noble passages that are admitted by critics to mark a very high order of lyrical genius. One of the chief distinctions of Klopstock was that he was the real inaugurator of the emancipation of the German intellect from the superficialism of French literary ascendancy. This distinction was generously acknowledged by Goethe, who rejoiced at Klopstock's success in first striking the keynote of intellectual freedom in the Fatherland. Various odes, Biblical dramas, tragedies, and hymns constitute his other works. The "Messiah" was translated into both English prose and verse by G. Egerstorff, his work being published at Hamburg in 1821.
Saladin, the Sultan
Sittah, his sister
Nathan, a rich Jew
Hafi, a Dervish
Recha, Nathan's adopted daughter
Daya, a Christian woman, companion to Recha
Conrade, a young Templar
Athanasios, Patriarch of Palestine
Bonafides, a friar
Scene I.—Jerusalem. A hall in Nathan's house. Nathan, in travelling dress. Daya meeting him.
Daya: 'Tis he, 'tis Nathan, thanks to God, returned,
Nathan: Yes, Daya, thanks; but why "at last"?
'Tis far to Babylon, and gathering in
One's debts makes tardy journeying.
Daya: Oh, Nathan! How near you came to misery; when afar,
The house took fire, and Recha, 'mid the flames,
Had all but perished.
Nathan: Recha, O my Recha!
Daya: Your Recha, yours? My conscience bids me speak——
Nathan: See what a charming silk I bought for you
In Babylon, and these Damascus jewels.
Daya: I shall be silent.
Nathan: Say, does Recha know
I am arrived?
Daya: This morn of you she dreamed;
Her thoughts have only been with you and him
Who saved her from the fire.
Nathan: Ah, who is he?
Daya: A young knight Templar lately captive ta'en,
But pardoned by the sultan. He it was
Who burst through flame and smoke; and she believes
Him but a transient inmate of the earth—
A guardian angel! Stay, your daughter comes!
Recha: My very father's self! Oh, how I feared
Perils of flood for thee, until the fire
Came nigh me. Now, I think it must be balm
To die by water! But you are not drowned:
I am not burned! We'll praise the God Who bade
My angel visibly on his white wing
Athwart the roaring flame——
Nathan (aside): White wing? Oh, ay.
The broad white fluttering mantle of the Templar.
Recha: Yes, visibly he bore me through the fire
O'ershadowed by his pinions—face to face
I've seen an angel, father, my own angel!
Nathan: A man had seemed an angel in such case!
Recha: He was no real knight; no captive Templar
Appears alive in wide Jerusalem.
Daya: Yet Saladin granted this youth his life,
For his great likeness to a dear dead brother.
Nathan: Why need you, then, call angels into play?
Daya: But then he wanted nothing, nothing sought;
Was in himself sufficient, like an angel.
Recha: And when at last he vanished——
Nathan: Vanished! Have you not sought him?
What if he—
That is, a Frank, unused to this fierce sun—
Now languish on a sick-bed, friendless, poor?
Recha: Alas, my father!
Nathan: What if he, unfriended,
Lies ill and unrelieved; the hapless prey
Of agony and death; consoled alone
In death by the remembrance of this deed.
Daya: You kill her!
Nathan: You kill him.
Recha: Not dead, not dead!
Nathan: Dead, surely not, for God rewards the good
[Pg 229] E'en here below. But ah, remember well
That rapt devotion is an easier thing
Than one good action. Ha! What Mussulman
Numbers my camels yonder? Why, for sure,
It's my old chess companion, my old Dervish,
Daya: Treasurer now to Saladin.
Ay, lift thine eyes and wonder!
Nathan: Is it you?
A Dervish so magnificent?
Hafi: Why not?
Is Dervish, then, so hopeless? Rather ask
What had been made of me. I'm treasurer
To Saladin, whose coffers ever ebb
Ere sunset; such his bounty to the poor!
It brings me little, truly; but to thee
'Twas great advantage, for when money's low
Thou couldst unlock thy sluices; ay, and charge
Interest o'er interest!
Nathan: Till my capital
Becomes all interest?
Hafi: Nay, but that's unworthy,
My friend; write finis to our book of friendship
If that's thy view. I count on thee for aid
To quit me of my office worthily.
Grant me but open chest with thee. What, no?
Nathan: To Hafi, yes; but to the treasurer
Of Saladin, Al Hafi, nay!
Hafi: These twain
Shall soon be parted: by the Ganges strand
I'll with my Dervish teachers wander barefoot,
Or play at chess with them once more!
Nathan: Al Hafi,
Go to your desert quickly. Among men
I fear you'll soon unlearn to be a man. [Goes out.
What? Gone? I could have wished to question him
[Pg 230] About our Templar. Doubtless he will know him.
Daya (bursting in): Nathan, the Templar's yonder, 'neath the palms.
Recha hath spied him, and she conjures you
To follow him most punctually. Haste!
Nathan: Take him my invitation.
Daya: All in vain.
He will not visit Jews.
Nathan: Then hold him there
Till I rejoin you. I shall not be long.
Scene II.—A place of palms. Enter the Templar, followed by a Friar.
Templar: This fellow does not follow me for pastime.
Friar: I'm from the Patriarch: he is fain to learn
Why you alone were spared by Saladin.
Templar: My neck was ready for the blow, when he
Had me unbound. How all this hangs together
Thy Patriarch may unravel.
Friar: He concludes
That you are spared to do some mighty deed.
Templar: To save a Jewish maid?
Friar: A weightier office!
He'd have you learn the strengths and weaknesses
Of Saladin's new bulwark!
Templar: Play the spy!
Not for me, brother!
Friar: Nay, but there is more.
It were not hard to seize the Sultan's person,
And make an end of all!
Templar: And make of me
A graceless scoundrel! Brother, go away;
Stir not my anger!
Friar: I obey, and go.
[Exit. Enter Daya.
Daya: Nathan the Wise would see you; he is fain
[Pg 231] To load you with rewards. Do see him—try him!
Templar: Good woman, you torment me. From this day
Pray know me not; and do not send the father!
A Jew's a Jew, and I am rude and bearish.
I have forgot the maiden; do not make
These palm-trees odious where I love to walk!
Daya: Then farewell, bear. But I must track the savage.
Scene I.—The palace. Saladin and his sister Sittah, playing chess.
Saladin: And checkmate!
Sittah: Nay, nay; advance your knight.
Saladin: The game is yours. Al Hafi pays the stake.
[Enter Hafi, who examines the board.
Hafi: The game's not over yet; why, Saladin,
Your queen can move——
Sittah: Hush, hush! There, go, Al Hafi!
I'll send to fetch my money.
Hafi: She hath never
Claimed aught of what you lose; it lies with me.
While we wait the treasure out of Egypt,
Your sister hath maintained the state alone.
Saladin: Was there none else could lend me, save my sister?
Hafi: I know none such.
Sittah: What of thy friend, the Jew?
The town is ringing with the news of gems
And costly stuffs he hath brought home with him.
Hafi: He would not lend to Saladin. Ah, Prince,
He's envious of your generosity.
That is the Jew! I'll knock at other doors.
Scene II.—The place of palms. Daya and Recha with Nathan.
Daya: He's still beneath the palms.
Recha: Just one peep more.
Nathan: Don't let him see you with me. Best go in.
[Exeunt Daya and Recha. Enter the Templar.
Forgive me, noble Frank.
Templar: Well, Jew; your will?
Nathan: I'm Nathan, father to the maid you saved.
In what can I be useful? I am rich. Command me.
Templar: Nay, your wealth is naught to me.
Yet, this, a coin or cloth for a new mantle,
When this is done. Don't quake; it's strong and good
To last awhile; but here it's singed with flame.
Nathan: This brand. Oh, I could kiss it! Would you send
This mantle to my daughter that her lips
May cling to this dear speck?
Templar: Remember, Jew,
My vows, my Order, and my Christian faith!
Nathan: All lands produce good men. Are we our nation's?
Were Jews and Christians such ere they were men?
And I have found in thee one more who stands
A man confest.
Templar: Nathan, thy hand; I blush
To have mistaken thee. We will be friends.
Hark you, the maid, your daughter, whom I saved,
Makes me forget that I am partly monk.
How say you; may I hope?
Nathan: Your suit, young man,
Must be considered calmly. Give me time
To know your lineage and your character.
A parent must be careful of his child.
Daya: The sultan sends for thee in haste.
Nathan: I'll go.
[Pg 233] Knight, take it not amiss.
Templar: I'll quit you first.
Nathan: 'Tis not alone my Leonard's walk,
But even his stature and his very voice.
Filnek and Stauffen—I will soon know more.
Scene III.—A room in Nathan's house. Recha and Daya. A slave shows in the Templar.
Recha: 'Tis he, my saviour! Ah!
Templar: Thou best of beings,
How is my soul 'twixt eye and ear divided.
Recha: Well, knight, why thus refuse to look at me?
Templar: Because I wish to hear you.
Recha: Nay, because
You would not have me notice that you smile
At my simplicity.
Templar: Ah, no; ah, no.
How truly said thy father, "Do but know her."
Yet now I must attend him. There is danger.
Scene IV.—Saladin's audience chamber. Saladin and Nathan.
Saladin: Draw nearer, Jew. Your name is Nathan?
Saladin: Nathan the Wise?
Nathan: Ah, no.
Saladin: Of modesty
Enough, your words and bearing prove you wise.
Now, since you are so wise, tell me which law
Appears to you the better.
Nathan: Once on a time, eastward, there dwelt a man
Who prized a ring, set with a wondrous opal
That made the owner loved of God and man.
This ring he willed should ever more remain
The heirloom of his house; and to the son
[Pg 234] He loved the best bequeathed it, binding him
To leave it also to his best beloved,
And forward so. At length the ring descended
To one who had three sons he loved alike.
To each in turn the doting father promisèd
The ring, and on his death-bed, sorely grieving
To disappoint two heirs, he had two rings
Made like the first, so close that none could tell
The model from the copies. These he gave
To his three sons in secret, and so passed.
The sequel may be guessed, the strifes, complaints—
For the true ring no more could be distinguished
Than now can—the true faith. Each to the judge
Swore that he had the bauble from his father,
And called his brother forger. Quoth the judge:
"Which of you do his brothers love the best?
You're silent all. You're all deceived deceivers!
None of your rings is true, the true is gone.
Your father sought to end its tyranny.
Let each believe his own the real ring
And vie with others to display its virtue.
And if its power a thousand thousand years
Endure in your descendants, let them then
Before a wiser judge than I appear,
And he'll decide the cause."
Saladin: Even God Himself!
Nathan: Art thou, O Saladin, this wiser judge?
Saladin: Not yet have sped the thousand thousand years.
His judgment seat's not mine. Go, go, but love me.
Nathan: Hath Saladin no further need of me?
Perchance my stores might furnish forth thy wars.
Saladin: Is this Al Hafi's hint? I'll not disown
My object was to ask——
Nathan: Thou shouldst have all
But that I owe a weighty debt to one—
The Templar thou didst spare.
Saladin: I had forgot him.
Nathan: He saved my daughter from the flames.
Saladin: Ah, so? He looked a hero. Bring him hither;
Sittah must see our brother's counterfeit.
Nathan: I'll fetch him. For the rest, we are agreed.
Scene V.—The Place of Palms. Daya and the Templar.
Daya: Knight, swear to me that you will make her yours;
Make both her present and eternal welfare.
Listen. She is a Christian, and no child
Templar: Are you sure of what you say?
Daya: It cost me tears of blood. She does not know
She is a Christian born.
Templar: And Nathan reared
Her in this error, and persists in it?
Oh, it confounds me—go; and let me think.
Scene I.—The cloisters of a convent. Athanasios the Patriarch, and the Templar.
Athanasios: Heaven keep you in your valour, good Sir Knight!
You seek my counsel? It is yours; say on.
Templar: Suppose, my reverend father, that a Jew
Brought up a Christian child, in ignorance
Of her own faith and lineage, as his daughter,
Athanasios: Is this mere supposition, sir?
If in our diocese such impious act
[Pg 236] Were done in truth, the Jew should die by fire.
You will not name the man? I'll to the sultan,
Who will support us.
Templar: I'll to Saladin,
And will announce your visit.
Athanasios: Was it then
A problem merely? Nay, this is a job
For Brother Bonafides. Here, my son!
[Exit Athanasios, talking with the friar.
Scene II.—A room at the palace of Saladin. Slaves bring in money-bags to Saladin and Sittah.
Saladin (to Sittah): Here, pay yourself with that.
And look, I found
This portrait 'midst the heap of plate and jewels.
It is our brother Assad. I'll compare
The likeness with our Templar. Ah, who's there?
The Templar? Bid him enter.
[Enter the Templar.
Thy captive, sire, who's life is at thy service!
Saladin: Ah, brave young man, I'm not deceived in thee.
Thou art indeed, in soul and body, Assad!
Came Nathan with thee?
Saladin: Who? Nathan
Templar (coldly): No.
Saladin: Why so cold?
Templar: I've nothing against Nathan,
But I am angry with myself alone
For dreaming that a Jew could be no Jew.
He was so cautious of my suit that I,
In swift resentment, though unwitting, gave
Him over to the Patriarch's bloody rage.
Sultan, the maiden is no child of his;
[Pg 237] She is a Christian whom the Jew hath reared
In ignorance of her faith. The Patriarch
Foredooms him to the stake.
Saladin: Go to, go to.
The case is scarcely hopeless. Summon Nathan,
And I shall reconcile you. If indeed
You're earnest for the maid, she shall be thine.
Scene III.—The hall in Nathan's house. Nathan and the friar, Bonafides.
Bonafides: The Patriarch hath ever work for me,
And some I like not. Listen. He hath heard
That hereabouts there dwells a certain Jew
Who hath brought up a Christian as his child.
Bonafides: Hear me out. I fear me that I gave
Occasion for this sin, when I, a squire,
Brought you, full eighteen years ago, the babe,
The orphan babe of Leonard, Lord of Filnek.
He fell at Askalon.
Nathan: Ay so; and I,
Bereft by Christians of my wife and sons,
Received the infant as a gift from Heaven,
And made it mine. And now, belike, I suffer
For this my charity. But tell me now,
Was not the mother sister to a Templar,
Conrade of Stauffen?
Bonafides: Let me fetch a book,
In Arabic, I had from my dead lord.
'Tis said to tell the lineage of the babe.
Nathan: Go, fetch it quickly.
Scene IV.—A place of palms. Nathan and the Templar.
Nathan: Who hath betrayed me to the Patriarch?
Templar: Alas! 'twas I. You took my suit so coldly
[Pg 238] That when from Daya I had learned your secret,
I fancied you had little mind to give
A Christian what from Christians you had taken.
I thought to use my knowledge as a lever,
And so, not having you, I put the matter
In problem-wise before the Patriarch.
Suppose he find you out. What then? He cannot
Seize Recha, if she be no longer yours.
Ah! give her then, to me, and let him come.
Nathan: Too late! You are too late, for I have found
Her kinsfolk. Hark you, Recha has a brother.
Templar: Well, he's the man to fit her with a husband.
Of thee and me she'll have no longer need.
Scene V.—Saladin's palace. Saladin and his sister, Sittah, are talking with Recha.
Sittah: Ah! I guessed it.
Recha: Guessed it? What? that I
Am Christian and not Nathan's daughter?
Whose cruelty hath sown this sharp suspicion
In thy fond heart? Ah! if there be two fathers
At strife for thee, quit both, and take a third.
Take Saladin for father! I'll be kind.
Sittah: Brother, you make her blush.
Saladin: In a good hour. Blushing becomes the fair.
But see, our Nathan's coming, with another.
Canst guess, sweet girl? Ay, when he comes, blush crimson.
[Enter Nathan and the Templar.
Come, stickle not for niceties with him.
Make him thy offer, doing for him more,
Far more, than he for thee, for what was that
But make himself a little sooty. Come!
[Seeks to lead her to the Templar.
Nathan (solemnly): Hold, Saladin; hold, Sittah! There's another
Whom I must speak with first—the maiden's brother.
Templar (bitterly): He has imposed a father on her, now
He'll shark her up a brother! Where's the man?
Nathan: Patience sir.
Saladin: Christian, such words as yours had never passed
My Assad's lips.
Nathan: Forgive him, Saladin.
Oh! Christian, you have hid from me your name.
Conrade of Stauffen is no name of yours,
But Guy of Filnek—mark. I tax you not
With falsehood; for your mother was a Stauffen.
Her brother's name was Conrade. He perchance
Templar: Even so the matter stands.
Nathan: Your father was my friend. He called himself
Leonard of Filnek, but no German he.
He had espoused a German.
Templar: Ah! no more,
I beg, but tell me who is Recha's brother.
Nathan: Thou art the man!
Templar: What, I? I Recha's brother?
Recha: My brother—he?
Sittah: So near akin—
Recha (offering to embrace him): My brother!
Templar: (withdrawing): Brother to her!
Recha (to Nathan): It cannot be. His heart
Knows nothing of it.
Saladin: What! not acknowledge
A sister such as she? Go!
Mistake not my amazement. Thy Assad
At such a moment, had done likewise.
[Pg 240] Oh, Nathan, you have taken, you have given—
Yes, infinitely more—my sister—sister!
Nathan: Blanda of Filnek! Guy! My children both!
Sittah: Oh! I am deeply moved.
Saladin: And I half tremble
At thought of the emotion still to be.
Nathan, you say her father was no German.
What was he, then?
Nathan: He never told me that.
But ah! he loved the Persian speech and owned
He was no Frank.
Saladin: The Persian! Need I more? Twas my Assad!
Nathan: Look in this book!
Saladin: Ay! 'tis his hand, even his.
Oh, Sittah, Sittah, they're my brother's children.
[He rushes to embrace them. Sittah also embraces the pair.
Now, now, proud boy, thou canst not choose but love me.
(To Recha) And I to thee am all I sought to be,
With or without thy leave.
Templar: I of thy blood? Then all the tales I heard
In infancy were more than idle dreams.
[Falls at Saladin's feet.
Saladin (raising him): There's malice for you!
Knew it all the time,
And yet he would have let me murder him.
Boy, boy! [They embrace in silence.
[S] Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, one of the greatest names in German literature, was born January 22, 1729, at Kamenz, in Saxon Upper Lusatia, where his father was a clergyman of the most orthodox Lutheran school. After working very hard for five years at a school in Meissen, he proceeded to the University of Leipzig, in 1746, with the intention of studying theology, but he soon began to occupy himself with other matters, made the acquaintance of actors, and acquired a great fondness for dramatic entertainment. This sort of life, however, pained his strict relatives, who pronounced it "sinful," and for a short time Lessing went home. Later he proceeded to Berlin, and while there, formed many valuable literary friendships, and established the best literary journal of his time. "Nathan the Wise" ("Nathan der Weise") arose out of a bitter theological controversy in which Lessing had been engaged. It was written during the winter of 1778-79, and expresses ideas and theories its author had already largely developed in prose. Primarily the play is a strong plea for tolerance, the governing conception being that noble character belongs to no particular creed, but to all creeds, as set forth herein in the parable of the wonderful ring. And thus it follows that there is no sufficient reason why people holding one set of religious opinions should not tolerate others who maintain totally different doctrines. Purely as a drama the play may be disappointing, but regarded as a poem it ranks with the noblest dramatic literature of the eighteenth century. The characters abound in vitality, and some of the passages rise to heights of great splendour. Lessing died on February 15, 1781 (see also Vol. XX, p. 239).
On the night when Evangeline, the beautiful daughter of Benedict Bellefontaine, the richest farmer of Grand-Pré, was to be betrothed to Gabriel, the son of Basil Lajeunesse the blacksmith, the two fathers were engaged in discussing the reason of the presence of several English war vessels which were riding at anchor at the mouth of the Gaspereau. Basil was inclined to take a gloomy view, and Benedict a hopeful one, when the arrival of the notary put an end to his discussion.
The exiles from Acadie landed some on one coast, some on another; and the lovers were separated from one another. Evangeline sought everywhere for Gabriel, in towns and in the country, in churchyards and on the prairies, in the camps and battlefields of the army, and among missions of Jesuits and Moravians. But all in vain. She heard far and distant news of him, but never came upon him. And so the years went by, and she grew old in her search.
[T] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the best-known and best-beloved of American poets, was born at Portland, Maine, on February 27, 1807. The son of a lawyer, he graduated at Bowdoin College at the age of eighteen, and then entered his father's office, not, however, with any intention of adopting the law as a profession. Shortly afterwards, the college trustees sent him on a European tour to qualify himself for the chair of foreign languages, one result of which was a number of translations and his book "Outre Mer." "Voices of the Night," his first volume of original verse, appeared in 1839, and created a favourable impression, which was deepened on the publication in 1841 of Ballads, and Other Poems," containing such moving pieces as "The Wreck of the Hesperus," "The Village Blacksmith," and "Excelsior." From that moment Longfellow's reputation as poet was established—he became a singer whose charm and simplicity not only appealed to his own countrymen, but to English-speaking people the world over. In 1847 he produced what many regard as the greatest of his works, namely, "Evangeline, a Tale of Acadie." The story is founded on the compulsory expatriation by the British of the people of Acadia (Nova Scotia), in 1713, on the charge of having assisted the French (from whom they were descended) at a siege of the war then in progress. The poem is told with infinite pathos and rare narrative power. Longfellow died on March 24, 1882.
Hiawatha was sent by Gitche Manito, the Master of Life, as a prophet to guide and to teach the tribes of men, and to toil and suffer with them. If they listened to his counsels they would multiply and prosper, but if they paid no heed they would fade away and perish. His father was Mudjekeewis, the West Wind; his mother was Wenonah, the first-born daughter of Nokomis, who was the daughter of the Moon. Wenonah died in her anguish deserted by the West Wind, and Hiawatha was brought up and taught by the old Nokomis. He soon learned the language of every bird and every beast; and Iagoo, the great boaster and story-teller, made him a bow with which he shot the red deer. When he grew into manhood he put many questions concerning his mother to the old Nokomis, and having learned her story, resolved, despite all warnings, to take vengeance on Mudjekeewis.
The first exertion which Hiawatha made for the profit of his people was to fast for seven days in order to procure for them the blessing of Mondamin, the friend of man. At sunset of the fourth, fifth, and sixth days Hiawatha wrestled with the youth Mondamin, and on the evening of the seventh day Mondamin, having fallen lifeless in the combat, was stripped of his green and yellow garments and laid in the earth. From his grave shot up the maize in all its beauty, the new gift of the Great Spirit; and for a time Hiawatha rested from his labours, taking counsel for furthering the prosperity of his people with his two good friends—Chibiabos, the great singer and musician; and Kwasind, the very strong man. But he was not long inactive. He built the first birch canoe, and, with the help of Kwasind, cleared the river of its sunken logs and sand-bars; and when he and his canoe were swallowed by the monstrous sturgeon Mishe-Nahma, he killed it by smiting fiercely on its heart. Not long afterwards his grandmother, Nokomis, incited him to kill the great Pearl-Feather, Megissogwon, the magician who had slain her father. Pearl-Feather was the sender of white fog, of pestilential vapours, of fever and of poisonous exhalations, and, although he was guarded by the Kenabeek, the great fiery surpents, Hiawatha sailed readily in his birch canoe to encounter him.
When Hiawatha was returning from his battle with Mudjekeewis he had stopped at the wigwam of the ancient Arrow-maker to purchase heads of arrows, and there and then he had noticed the beauty of the Arrow-maker's daughter, Minnehaha, Laughing Water. Her he now took to wife, and celebrated his nuptials by a wedding-feast at which Chibiabos sang, and the handsome mischief-maker, Pau-Puk-Keewis, danced. Minnehaha proved another blessing to the people. In the darkness of the night, covered by her long hair only, she walked all round [Pg 257] the fields of maize, making them fruitful, and drawing a magic circle round them which neither blight nor mildew, neither worm nor insect, could invade. About this same time, too, to prevent the memory of men and things fading, Hiawatha invented picture-writing, and taught it to his people. But soon misfortunes came upon him. The evil spirits, the Manitos of mischief, broke the ice beneath his friend Chibiabos, and drowned him; Pau-Puk-Keewis put insult upon him, and had to be hunted down; and the envious Little People, the mischievous Puk-Wudjies, conspired against Kwasind, and murdered him. After this ghosts paid a visit to Hiawatha's wigwam, and famine came upon the land.
Hiawatha indeed remained not much longer with his people, for after welcoming the Black-Robe chief, who told the elders of the nations of the Virgin Mary and her blessed Son and Saviour, he launched his birch canoe from the shores of Big-Sea-Water, and, departing westward,
[U] In 1854 Longfellow resigned his professorship at Harvard. "Evangeline" had been followed by "Kavanagh," a novel of no particular merit, a cluster of minor poems, and in 1851 by the "Golden Legend," a singularly beautiful lyric drama, based on Hartmann van Aue's story "Der arme Heinrichs." Leaving the dim twilight of mediæval Germany, the poet brought his imagination to bear upon the Red Indian and his store of legend. The result was the "Song of Hiawatha," in 1855. Both in subject and in metre the poem is a conscious imitation of the Finnish "Kalevala." It was immensely popular on its appearance, Emerson declaring it "sweet and wholesome as maize." If the poem lacks veracity as an account of savage life, it nevertheless overflows with the beauty of the author's own nature, and is typical of those elements in his poetry which have endeared his name to the English-speaking world. With the exception of "Evangeline," it is the most popular of Longfellow's works.
The profoundest speculations on the nature of things are not impious. Let not the reader feel that in such an inquiry he is on guilty ground. It is, rather, true that religion has caused foul crimes. An instance is the agonising sacrifice of sweet Iphigenia, slain at the altar to appease divine wrath.
"Religion could such wickedness suggest." Tales of eternal punishment frighten only those ignorant of the real nature of the soul. This ignorance can be dispelled by inquiring into the phenomena of heaven and earth, and stating the laws of nature.
Of these the first is that nothing is made of nothing; the second, that nothing is reduced to nothing. This indestructibility of matter may be illustrated by the joyous and constantly renewed growth that is in nature. There are two fundamental postulates required to explain nature—atoms and void. These constitute the universe. There is no tertium quid. All other things are but properties and accidents of these two. Atoms are solid, "without void"; they are indestructible, "eternal"; they are indivisible. To appreciate the physical theory of Epicurus, it is necessary to note the erroneous speculations of other Greek thinkers, whether, like Heraclitus, they deduced all things from one such fundamental element as fire, or whether they postulated four elements. From a criticism of the theories of Empedocles and Anaxagoras, the poet, return to the main subject.
This sweetening of verse with: "the honey of the Muses" is like disguising unpalatable medicine for children. The mind must be engaged by attractive means till it perceives the nature of the world.
As to the existing universe, it is bounded in none of its dimensions; matter and space are infinite. All things are in continual motion in every direction, and there is an endless supply of material bodies from infinite space. These ultimate atoms buffet each other ceaselessly; they unite or disunite. But there is no such thing as design in their unions. All is fortuitous concourse; so there are innumerable blind experiments and failures in nature, due to resultless encounters of the atoms.
Man feels an imperious craving to shun bodily pain and secure mental pleasure. But the glitter of luxury at the banquets of the rich cannot satisfy this craving: there are the simpler joys of the open country in spring. But the fact is, no magnificence can save the body from pain or the mind from apprehensions. The genuine remedy lies in knowledge alone.
Particles are constantly being transferred from one thing to another, though the sum total remains constant. In the light hereof may be understood the uninterrupted waxing and waning of things, and the perpetual succession of existence.
Greater or less solidity depends on the resilience of atoms. Their ceaseless motion is illustrated by the turmoil of motes in a stream of sunlight let into a dark room. As to their velocity, it greatly exceeds that of the sun's rays. This welter of atoms is the product of chance; the very blemishes of the world forbid one to regard it as divine. But the atoms do not rain through space in rigidly parallel lines. A minute swerve in their motion is essential to account for clashings and production; and in the ethical sphere it is this swerve which saves the mind from "Necessity" and makes free will possible. Though the universe appears to be at rest, this is a fallacy of the senses, due to the fact that the motions of "first bodies" are not cognisable by our eyes; indeed, a similar phenomenon is the apparent vanishing of motion due to distance; for a white spot on a far-off hill may really be a frolicsome lamb.
The shapes of atoms vary; and so differences of species, and differences within the same species, arise. This variety in shape accounts, too, for the varying action and effects of atoms. Atoms in hard bodies, for example, are mainly hooked; but in liquids mainly smooth. In each thing, however, there are several kinds, [Pg 266] which furnish that particular thing with a variety of properties. Furthermore, atoms are colourless, for in themselves they are invisible; they never come into the light, whereas colour needs light—witness the changing hues of the down on a pigeon's neck, or of a peacock's tail. Atoms are themselves without senses, though they produce things possessed of senses. To grasp the origin of species and development of animate nature, one must realise the momentous importance of the arrangement and interconnection of atoms. Wood and other rotting bodies will bring forth worms, because material particles undergo, under altered conditions, fresh permutations and combinations. One may ask, what of man? He can laugh and weep, he can discuss the composition of all things, and even inquire into the nature of those very atoms! It is true that he springs from them. Yet a man may laugh without being made of laughing atoms, and a man may reason without being made of reasonable atoms!
Mind and soul are portions of the body. While mind is the ruling element, they are both of the nature of the body—only they are composed of exceedingly minute and subtle atoms capable of marvellous speed. Therefore, when death deprives the body of mind, it does not make the body appreciably lighter.
Mind and soul consist of spirit, air, heat, and an elusive fourth constituent, the nimblest and subtlest of essences, the very "soul of the soul." It follows that mind and soul are mortal. Among many proofs may be adduced their close interconnection with the body, as seen in cases of drunkenness and epilepsy; their curability by medicine; their inability to recall a state prior to their incarnation; their liability to be influenced by heredity like corporeal seeds. Besides, why should an immortal soul need to quit the body at death? Decay surely could not hurt immortality! Then, again, imagine souls contending for homes in a body about to be born! Consequently, the soul being mortal, death has no sting.
Men in general forget that death, in ending life's pleasures, also ends the need and the desire for them.
The dead are to be envied, not lamented. The wise will exclaim: "Thou, O dead, art free from pain: we who survive are full of tears."
Universal nature has a rebuke for the coward that is afraid to die. There are no punishments beyond. Hell and hell's tortures are in this life. It is the victim of passion or of gnawing cares that is the real victim of torment.
Amidst this primeval medley of warring atoms there was no sun-disk to be discerned climbing the vault, no stars, or sea, or sky, or earth, or air—nothing, in fact, like what now exists. The next stage came when the several parts began to fly asunder, and like to join with like, so that the parts of the world were gradually differentiated. Heavier bodies combined in central chaos and forced out lighter elements to make ether. Thus earth was formed by a long process of condensation.
The protective quality in such animals as lions is ferocity; in foxes, cunning; in stags, swiftness. Creatures without such natural endowments of defence or utility tend to be the prey of others, and so become extinct.
As yet mankind did not know how to handle fire, or to clothe themselves with the spoils of the chase; but dwelt in woods, or caves, or other random shelter found in stress of weather. Each man lived for himself, and might was right. The stone or club was used in hunting; but the cave-dwellers were in frequent danger of being devoured by beasts of prey. Still, savage mortality was no greater than that of modern times.
The rudiments of humane sentiments sprang, therefore, in prehistoric family life. Language was the gradual outcome of natural cries, not an arbitrary invention. The uses of fire were learned from the lightning-flash and from conflagrations due to spontaneous combustion or chance friction. In time this opened out the possibility of many arts, such as metal-working; for forest fires caused streams of silver, gold, copper, or lead to run into hollows, and early man observed that when cooled, the glittering lumps retained the mould of the cavities. Nature also was the model for sowing and grafting. Those who excelled in mental endowment invented new modes of life. Towns and strongholds were founded as places of defence; and possessions were secured by personal beauty, strength, or cleverness. But the access of riches often ousted the claims of both beauty and strength.
Religious feelings were fostered by visions and dreams; marvellous shapes to which savage man ascribed supernatural powers. Recurrent appearances of such shapes induced a belief in their continuous existence: so arose the notion of gods that live for ever.
[V] To the Roman poet Titus Corus Lucretius (99-55 B.C.) belongs the distinction of having made Epicureanism epic. Possessed by a desire to free his fellow men from the trammels of superstition and the dread of death, he composed his poem, "On the Nature of Things." His reasonings were based on the atomic theory, which the Greek Epicurus had taken as the physical side of his system. In natural law Lucretius found the true antidote to superstition, and from a materialistic hypothesis of atoms and void he deduced everything. Against the futilities of myth-religion he protested with the fervour of an evangelist. On the ethical side, he accepted from Epicurus the conception that the ideal lies in pleasure—not wild, sensual pleasure, but that calm of mind which comes from temperate and refined enjoyment, subdual of extravagant passion, and avoidance of political entanglements. It is appropriate that the life of this apostle of scientific quietism should be involved in obscurity. The story of his insanity, so beautifully treated by Tennyson, may or may not be true. It is hardly credible that a work so closely reasoned was, as a whole, composed in lucid intervals between fits of madness; but, on the other hand, there are signs of flagging in the later portions, and the work comes to a sudden conclusion. The translations are specially made by Prof. J. Wight Duff, and include a few extracts from his "Literary History of Rome."
A tale of the times of old—the deeds of days of other years.
Who comes from the land of strangers, with his thousands around him? The sunbeam pours its bright stream before him; his hair meets the wind of his hills. His face is settled from war. He is calm as the evening beam that looks, from the cloud of the west, on Cona's silent vale. Who is it but Fingal, the king of mighty deeds! The feast is spread around; the night passed away in joy.
"Tell," said the mighty Fingal to Clessammor, "the tale of thy youthful days. Let us hear the sorrow of thy youth, and the darkness of thy days."
"It was in the days of peace," replied the great Clessammor. "I came in my bounding ship to Balclutha's walls of towers. Three days I remained in Reuthamir's halls, and saw his daughter—that beam of light. Her eyes were like the stars of night. My love for Moina was great; my heart poured forth in joy.
"The son of a stranger came—a chief who loved the white-bosomed Moina. The strength of his pride arose. We fought; he fell beneath my sword. The banks of Clutha heard his fall, a thousand spears glittered around. I fought; the strangers prevailed. I plunged into the stream of Clutha. My white sails rose over the waves, and I bounded on the dark-blue sea. Moina came to the shore, her loose hair flew on the wind, and I heard her mournful, distant cries. Often did I turn my ship, but the winds of the east prevailed. Nor Clutha ever since have I seen, nor Moina of the dark-brown hair. She fell in Balclutha, for I have seen her ghost. I knew her as she came through the dusky night, along the murmur of Lora. She was like the new moon seen through the gathered mist, when the sky pours down its flaky snow and the world is silent and dark."
"Raise, ye bards," said the mighty Fingal, "the praise of unhappy Moina."
The night passed away in song; morning returned in joy. The mountains showed their grey heads; the blue face of ocean smiled. But as the sun rose on the sea Fingal and his heroes beheld a distant fleet. Like a mist on the ocean came the strange ships, and discharged their youth upon the coast. Carthon, their chief, was among them, like the stag in the midst of the herd. He was a king of spears, and as he moved towards Selma his thousands moved behind him.
"Go, with a song of peace," said Fingal. "Go, Ullin, [Pg 274] to the king of spears. Tell him that the ghosts of our foes are many; but renowned are they who have feasted in my halls!"
When Ullin came to the mighty Carthon, he raised the song of peace.
"Come to the feast of Fingal, Carthon, from the rolling sea! Partake of the feast of the king, or lift the spear of war. Behold that field, O Carthon. Many a green hill rises there, with mossy stones and rustling grass. These are the tombs of Fingal's foes, the sons of the rolling sea!"
"Dost thou speak to the weak in arms," said Carthon, "bard of the woody Morven? Have not I seen the fallen Balclutha? And shall I feast with Fingal, the son of Comhal, who threw his fire in the midst of my father's hall? I was young, and knew not the cause why the virgins wept. But when the years of my youth came on, I beheld the moss of my fallen walls; my sigh arose with the morning, and my tears descended with night. Shall I not fight, I said to my soul, against the children of my foes? And I will fight, O bard! I feel the strength of my soul."
His people gathered round the hero, and drew their shining swords. The spear trembled in his hand. Bending forward, he seemed to threaten the king.
"Who of my chiefs," said Fingal, "will meet the son of the rolling sea? Many are his warriors on the coast, and strong is his ashen spear."
Cathul rose, in his strength, the son of the mighty Lormar. Three hundred youths attend the chief, the race of his native streams. Feeble was his arm against Carthon; he fell, and his heroes fled. Connal resumed the battle, but he broke his heavy spear; he lay bound on the field; Carthon pursued his people.
"Clessammor," said the king of Morven, "where is the spear of my strength? Wilt thou behold Connal bound?"
Clessammor rose in the strength of his steel, shaking his grizzly locks. He fitted the shield to his side; he rushed, in the pride of valour.
Carthon saw the hero rushing on, and loved the dreadful joy of his face; his strength, in the locks of age!
"Stately are his steps of age," he said. "Lovely the remnant of his years! Perhaps it is the husband of Moina, the father of car-borne Carthon. Often have I heard that he dwelt at the echoing stream of Lora."
Such were his words, when Clessammor came, and lifted high his spear. The youth received it on his shield, and spoke the words of peace.
"Warrior of the aged locks! Hast thou no son to raise the shield before his father to meet the arm of youth? What will be the fame of my sword shouldst thou fall?"
"It will be great, thou son of pride!" began the tall Clessammor. "I have been renowned in battle, but I never told my name to a foe. Yield to me, son of the wave; then shalt thou know that the mark of my sword is in many a field."
"I never yield, king of spears!" replied the noble pride of Carthon. "Retire among thy friends! Let younger heroes fight."
"Why dost thou wound my soul?" replied Clessammor, with a tear. "Age does not tremble on my hand; I still can lift the sword. Shall I fly in Fingal's sight, in the sight of him I love? Son of the sea, I never fled! Exalt thy pointed spear!"
They fought, like two contending winds that strive to roll the wave. Carthon bade his spear to err; he still thought that the foe was the spouse of Moina. He broke Clessammor's beamy spear in twain; he seized his shining sword. But as Carthon was binding the chief, the chief drew the dagger of his fathers. He saw the foe's uncovered side, and opened there a wound.
Fingal saw Clessammor low; he moved in the sound of [Pg 276] his steel. The host stood silent in his presence; they turned their eyes to the king. He came, like the sullen noise of a storm before the winds arise. Carthon stood in his place; the blood is rushing down his side; he saw the coming down of the king. Pale was his cheek; his hair flew loose, his helmet shook on high. The force of Carthon failed, but his soul was strong.
"King of Morven," Carthon said, "I fall in the midst of my course. But raise my remembrance on the banks of Lora, where my father dwelt. Perhaps the husband of Moina will mourn over his fallen Carthon."
His words reached Clessammor. He fell, in silence, on his son. The host stood darkened around; no voice is on the plain. Night came; the moon from the east looked on the mournful field; but still they stood, like a silent grove that lifts its head on Gormal, when the loud winds are laid, and dark autumn is on the plain; and then they died.
Fingal was sad for Carthon; he commanded his bards to sing the hero's praise. Ossian joined them, and this was his song: "My soul has been mournful for Carthon; he fell in the days of his youth. And thou, O Clessammor, where is thy dwelling in the wind? Has the youth forgot his wound? Flies he, on clouds, with thee? Perhaps they may come to my dreams. I think I hear a feeble voice! The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon. I feel it warm around.
"O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun, thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave. But thou thyself movest alone. Who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven; but thou art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course.
"When the world is dark with tempests; when thunder rolls, and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain, for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art perhaps, like me, for a season; thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds; careless of the voice of the morning. Exult thee, O sun, in the strength of thy youth! Age is dark and unlovely. It is like the glimmering light of the moon when it shines through broken clouds and the mist is on the hills; the blast of north is on the plain; the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey."
Daughter of heaven, fair art thou! The silence of thy face is pleasant! Thou comest forth in loveliness. The stars attend thy blue course in the east. The clouds rejoice in thy presence, O moon! Look from thy gates in the sky. Burst the cloud, O wind, that the daughter of night may look forth, that the shaggy mountains may brighten, and the ocean roll its white waves in light!
Nathos is on the deep, and Althos, that beam of youth. Ardan is near his brothers. They move in the gloom of their course. The sons of Usnoth move in darkness, from the wrath of Cairbar of Erin. Who is that, dim, by their side? The night has covered her beauty! Who is it but Darthula, the first of Erin's maids? She has fled from the love of Caribar, with blue-shielded Nathos. But the winds deceive thee, O Darthula! They deny the woody Etha to thy sails. These are not the mountains of Nathos; nor is that the roar of his climbing waves. The halls of Cairbar are near; the towers of the foe lift their heads! Erin [Pg 278] stretches its green head into the sea. Tura's bay receives the ship. Where have ye been, ye southern winds, when the sons of my love were deceived? But ye have been sporting on plains, pursuing the thistle's beard. Oh that ye had been rustling in the sails of Nathos till the hills of Etha arose; till they arose in their clouds, and saw their returning chief!
Long hast thou been absent, Nathos—the day of thy return is past! Lovely thou wast in the eyes of Darthula. Thy soul was generous and mild, like the hour of the setting sun. But when the rage of battle rose, thou wast a sea in a storm. The clang of thy arms was terrible; the host vanished at the sound of thy coarse. It was then Darthula beheld thee from the top of her mossy tower; from the tower of Selama, where her fathers dwelt.
"Lovely art thou, O stranger!" she said, for her trembling soul arose. "Fair art thou in thy battles, friend of the fallen Cormac! Why dost thou rush on in thy valour, youth of the ruddy look? Few are thy hands in fight against the dark-browed Cairbar! Oh that I might be freed from his love—that I might rejoice in the presence of Nathos!"
Such were thy words, Darthula, in Selama's mossy towers. But now the night is around thee. The winds have deceived thy sails, Darthula! Cease a little while, O north wind! Let me hear the voice of the lovely. Thy voice is lovely, Darthula, between the rustling blasts!
"Are these the rocks of Nathos?" she said. "This the roar of his mountain streams? Comes that beam of light from Usnoth's mighty hall? The mist spreads around; the beam is feeble and distant far. But the light of Darthula's soul dwells in the chief of Etha! Son of the generous Usnoth, why that broken sigh? Are we in the land of strangers, chief of echoing Etha?"
"These are not the rocks of Nathos," he replied, "nor this the roar of his streams. We are in the land of strangers, in the land of cruel Cairbar. The winds have deceived us, Darthula. Erin lifts here her hills. Go towards the north, Althos; be thy steps, Ardan, along the coast; that the foe may not come in darkness, and our hopes of Etha fail. I will go towards that mossy tower to see who dwells about the beam."
He went. She sat alone; she heard the rolling of the wave. The big tear is in her eye. She looks for returning Nathos.
He returned, but his face was dark.
"Why art thou sad, O Nathos?" said the lovely daughter of Colla.
"We are in the land of foes," replied the hero. "The winds have deceived us, Darthula. The strength of our friends is not near, nor the mountains of Etha. Where shall I find thy peace, daughter of mighty Colla? The brothers of Nathos are brave, and his own sword has shone in fight! But what are the sons of Usnoth to the host of dark-browed Cairbar? Oh that the winds had brought thy sails, Oscar, king of men! Thou didst promise to come to the battles of fallen Cormac! Cairbar would tremble in his halls, and peace dwell round the lovely Darthula. But why dost thou fall, my soul? The sons of Usnoth may prevail!"
"And they will prevail, O Nathos!" said the rising soul of the maid. "Never shall Darthula behold the halls of gloomy Cairbar. Give me those arms of brass, that glitter to the passing meteor. I see them dimly in the dark-bosomed ship. Darthula will enter the battle of steel."
Joy rose in the face of Nathos when he heard the white-bosomed maid. He looks towards the coming of Cairbar. The wind is rustling in his hair. Darthula is silent at his side. Her look is fixed on the chief. She strives to hide the rising sigh.
Morning rose with its beams. The sons of Erin appear, like grey rocks, with all their trees; they spread along the coast. Cairbar stood in the midst. He grimly smiled when he saw the foe. Nathos rushed forward, in his strength; nor could Darthula stay behind. She came with the hero, lifting her shining spear.
"Come," said Nathos to Cairbar—"come, chief of high Temora! Let our battle be on the coast, for the white-bosomed maid. His people are not with Nathos; they are behind these rolling seas. Why dost thou bring thy thousands against the chief of Etha?"
"Youth of the heart of pride," replied Cairbar, "shall Erin's king fight with thee? Thy fathers were not among the renowned, and Cairbar does not fight with feeble men!"
The tear started from car-borne Nathos. He turned his eyes to his brothers. Their spears flew at once. Three heroes lay on earth. Then the light of their swords gleamed on high. The ranks of Erin yield, as a ridge of dark clouds before a blast of wind! Then Cairbar ordered his people, and they drew a thousand bows. A thousand arrows flew. The sons of Usnoth fell in blood. They fell like three young oaks, which stood alone on the hill. The traveller saw the lovely trees, and wondered how they grew so lonely; the blast of the desert came by night, and laid their green heads low; next day he returned, but they were withered, and the heath was bare!
Darthula stood in silent grief, and beheld their fall! Pale was her cheek. Her trembling lips broke short a half-formed word. Her breast of snow appeared. It appeared; but it was stained with blood. An arrow was fixed in her side. She fell on the fallen Nathos, like a wreath of snow! Her hair spreads wide on his face. Their blood is mixing round!
"Daughter of Colla—thou art low!" said Cairbar's hundred bards. "When wilt thou rise in thy beauty, [Pg 281] first of Erin's maids? Thy sleep is long in the tomb. The sun shall not come to thy bed and say, 'Awake, Darthula! Awake thou first of women! The wind of spring is abroad. The flowers shake their heads on the green hills. The winds wave their growing leaves.' Retire, O sun, the daughter of Colla is asleep! She will not come forth in her beauty. She will not move in the steps of her loveliness!"
Such was the song of the bards when they raised the tomb. I, too, sang over the grave when the king of Morven came to green Erin to fight with the car-borne Cairbar!
[W] No ancient or modern work in the history of literature has excited such wild admiration and such profound contempt as the "Ossian" of James Macpherson. It was Napoleon's favourite work; he carried it with him to Egypt and took it to St. Helena. Byron and Goethe and Chateaubriand were also touched to enthusiasm by it. Its author—or, as some still think, its editor—was a Scottish schoolmaster, James Macpherson, born at Ruthven, in Inverness-shire on October 27, 1736. The first part of the work, entitled "Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated from the Gaelic, or Erse, Language," was published in 1760; "Fingal" appeared in 1762, and "Temora" in the following year. Doctor Johnson said of Macpherson: "He has found names, and stories, and phrases, nay, passages in old songs, and with them has blended his own compositions, and so made what he gives to the world as the translation of an ancient poem"; and this verdict is now confirmed by the best authorities. Nevertheless, "Ossian" is a work of considerable merit and great historic interest. It contains some fine passages of real poetry, such as the invocation to the sun with which "Carthon" concludes, and it has served to attract universal attention to the magnificent Celtic traditions of Scotland and Ireland. Macpherson died in Inverness-shire on February 17, 1796.
Wagner, his servant
Benvolio, Martino, Frederick, gentlemen of the emperor's court
Three Scholars, Cardinals, Lords, Devils, Phantoms, Good and Evil Angels, etc., Chorus.
Scene I.—Faustus in his study, reading a volume on necromancy.
Faustus: All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command: emperors and kings
Are but obeyed in their several provinces;
But his dominion that excels in this
Stretches as far as does the mind of man.
A sound magician is a demi-god.
[Enter Good and Evil AngelS.
Good Angel: O Faustus, lay that damned book aside
And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head!
Read, read the Scriptures—that is blasphemy.
Evil Angel: Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art
Wherein all nature's treasure is contained;
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky,
Lord and commander of these elements.
Faustus: How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Faustus, begin thine incantations,
And try if devils will obey thy hest.
[Thunder. Faustus pronounces the incantation. Enter Mephistophilis.
Mephistophilis: Now, Faustus, what wouldst thou have me do?
Faustus: I charge thee, wait upon me while I live,
To do whatever Faustus shall command.
Mephistophilis: I am a servant to great Lucifer,
And may not follow thee without his leave.
Faustus: Tell me, what is that Lucifer, thy lord?
Mephistophilis: Arch-regent and commander of all spirits.
Faustus: Was not that Lucifer an angel once?
Mephistophilis: Yes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God.
Faustus: How comes it, then, that he is prince of devils?
Mephistophilis: Oh, by aspiring pride and insolence,
For which God threw him out from the face of heaven.
Faustus: And what are you that live with Lucifer?
Mephistophilis: Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer,
Conspired against our God with Lucifer,
And are forever damned with Lucifer.
Faustus: Where are you damned?
Mephistophilis: In hell.
Faustus: How comes it, then, that you are out of hell?
Mephistophilis: Why, this is hell, nor am I out
Think'st thou that I, that saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
Faustus: Go, bear these tidings to great Lucifer:
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against God's deity,
Say he surrenders up to him his soul,
So he will spare him four-and-twenty years,
Having thee ever to attend on me.
Then meet me in my study at midnight,
And then resolve me of thy master's mind. [Exeunt.
Scene II.—The same. Midnight. Faustus. Enter Mephistophilis.
Faustus: Now tell me what saith Lucifer, thy lord?
Mephistophilis: That I shall wait on Faustus while he lives,
So he will buy my service with his soul,
And write a deed of gift with his own blood.
[Faustus stabs his own arm, and writes. At the summons of Mephistophilis enter Devils, who present Faustus with crowns and rich apparel. Exeunt Devils. Faustus reads the deed, by which Mephistophilis is to be at his service for twenty-four years, at the end of which Lucifer may claim his soul.
Mephistophilis: Now, Faustus, ask me what thou wilt.
Faustus: Tell me where is the place that men call hell?
Mephistophilis: Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place; but where we are is hell,
And where hell is, there must we ever be;
And, to be short, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
Faustus: I think hell's a fable.
Mephistophilis: Aye, think so still, till experience change thy mind.
Faustus: If heaven was made for man, 'twas made for me.
I will renounce this magic and repent.
[Enter the Good and Evil Angels.
Good Angel: Faustus, repent! Yet God will pity thee.
Evil Angel: Thou art a spirit; God cannot pity thee.
Faustus: My heart is hardened; I cannot repent.
Evil Angel: Too late.
Good Angel: Never too late, if Faustus will repent.
Faustus: O Christ, my Saviour, my Saviour,
Help to save distresséd Faustus' soul.
Lucifer: Christ cannot save thy soul, for He is just;
Thou call'st on Christ, contrary to thy promise;
Thou shouldst not think on God; think on the Devil.
Faustus: Nor will Faustus henceforth; pardon him for this,
And Faustus vows never to look to Heaven.
Scene I.—Rome. Enter Chorus.
Chorus: Learned Faustus,
To find the secrets of astronomy
Graven in the book of Jove's high firmament,
Did mount him up to scale Olympus' top;
Where, sitting in a chariot burning bright,
Drawn by the strength of yokéd dragons' necks,
He views the clouds, the planets, and the stars.
From east to west his dragons swiftly glide,
And in eight days did bring him home again.
Now, mounted new upon a dragon's back,
He, as I guess, will first arrive at Rome
To see the Pope and manner of his court,
And take some part of holy Peter's feast,
The which this day is highly solemnised.
[Exit. Enter Faustus and Mephistophilis.
Faustus: Hast thou, as erst I did command,
Conducted me within the walls of Rome?
Mephistophilis: This is the goodly palace of the Pope.
Faustus: Sweet Mephistophilis, thou pleasest me.
Whilst I am here on earth, let me be cloy'd
With all things that delight the heart of man.
My four-and-twenty years of liberty
I'll spend in pleasure and in dalliance.
Now in this show let me an actor be,
That this proud Pope may Faustus' cunning see.
[Enter Pope and others in procession; Bruno, nominated pope in opposition by the Emperor, in chains. Faustus and Mephistophilis, impersonating two cardinals, are given charge of the condemned Bruno, whom they liberate and dispatch magically to the Emperor. Subsequently, both being rendered invisible, they amuse themselves at the expense of the Pope and his guests at a banquet; and then depart to the Emperor's court.
Scene II.—Before the Emperor's palace. Benvolio at a window. Enter the Emperor with his train, including Faustus, Mephistophilis, Bruno.
Emperor: Wonder of men, renowned magician,
Thrice-learned Faustus, welcome to our court.
Now, Faustus, as thou late didst promise us,
We would behold that famous conqueror,
Great Alexander, and his paramour,
In their true shapes and state majestical.
Faustus: Your majesty shall see them presently.
Benvolio: Aye, aye, and thou bring Alexander and
his paramour before the emperor, I'll be Actæon
and turn myself to a stag.
Faustus: And I'll be Diana and send you the horns presently.
[Enter a pageant of Darius, Alexander, etc., being phantoms. Exeunt.
Faustus: See, see, my gracious lord!
Emperor: Oh, wondrous sight!
Two spreading horns, most strangely fastened
Upon the head of young Benvolio!
Faustus: Oh, say not so, sir; the doctor has no skill
To bring before the royal emperor
The mighty monarch, warlike Alexander.
If Faustus do it, you are straight resolved
In bold Actæon's shape to turn a stag.
[Pg 288] And therefore, my lord, so please your majesty,
I'll raise a kennel of hounds shall hunt him so—
Ho, Belimoth, Argison, Asteroth!
Benvolio: Hold, hold! Good my lord, entreat for
me! 'Sblood, I am never able to endure these torments.
Emperor: Let me entreat you to remove his horns;
He hath done penance now sufficiently.
Faustus: Being that to delight your majesty with
mirth is all that I desire, I am content to remove
his horns (Mephistophilis removes them), and
hereafter, sir, look you speak well of scholars.
Scene III.—A wood. Benvolio, Martino and Frederick.
Martino: Nay, sweet Benvolio, let us sway thy thoughts
From this attempt against the conjurer.
Benvolio: Away! You love me not, to urge me thus.
Shall I let slip so great an injury,
When every servile groom jests at my wrongs,
And in their rustic gambols proudly say,
"Benvolio's head was graced with horns to-day?"
If you will aid me in this enterprise,
Then draw your weapons and be resolute.
If not, depart; here will Benvolio die,
But Faustus' death shall quit my infamy.
Frederick: Nay, we will stay with thee, betide what may,
And kill that doctor, if he comes this way.
Close, close! The conjurer is at hand,
And all alone comes walking in his gown.
Be ready, then, and strike the peasant down.
Benvolio: Mine be that honour, then. Now, sword, strike home!
For horns he gave, I'll have his head anon!
No words; this blow ends all.
Hell take his soul! His body thus must fall.
[Benvolio stabs Faustus, who falls; Benvolio cuts off his head.
Frederick: Was this that stern aspect, that awful frown
Made the grim monarchs of infernal spirits
Tremble and quake at his commanding charms?
Martino: Was this that damnéd head, whose art conspired
Benvolio's shame before the emperor?
Benvolio: Aye, that's the head, and there the body lies.
Justly rewarded for his villainies. [Faustus rises.
Zounds, the devil's alive again!
Frederick: Give him his head, for God's sake!
Faustus: Nay, keep it; Faustus will have heads and hands,
Aye, all your hearts, to recompense this deed.
Then, wherefore do I dally my revenge?
Asteroth! Belimoth! Mephistophilis!
[Enter Mephistophilis, and other Devils.
Go, horse these traitors on your fiery backs,
And mount aloft with them as high as Heaven;
Thence pitch them headlong to the lowest hell.
Yet stay, the world shall see their misery,
And hell shall after plague their treachery.
Go, Belimoth, and take this caitiff hence,
And hurl him in some lake of mud and dirt;
Take thou this other, drag him through the woods,
Amongst the pricking thorns and sharpest briars;
Whilst with my gentle Mephistophilis
This traitor flies unto some steepy rock
That rolling down may break the villain's bones.
Fly hence! Dispatch my charge immediately!
Frederick: He must needs go, that the devil drives.
[Exeunt Devils with their victims.
Scene I.—Faustus' study. Enter Wagner.
Wagner: I think my master means to die shortly.
He has made his will, and given me his wealth, his
house, his goods, and store of golden plate, besides two
thousand ducats ready coined. I wonder what he means?
If death were nigh, he would not frolic thus. He's now
at supper with the scholars, where there's such cheer as
Wagner in his life ne'er saw the like. Here he comes;
belike the feast is ended.
[Exit. Enter Faustus; Mephistophilis follows.
Faustus: Accursed Faustus! Wretch, what hast thou done?
I do repent, and yet I do despair.
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast;
What shall I do to shun the snares of death?
Mephistophilis: Thou traitor, Faustus, I arrest thy soul
For disobedience to my sovereign lord!
Revolt, or I'll in piecemeal tear thy flesh!
Faustus: I do repent I e'er offended him!
Sweet Mephistophilis, entreat thy lord
To pardon my unjust presumption;
And with my blood again I will confirm
The former vow I made to Lucifer.
Mephistophilis: Do it, then, Faustus, with unfeignéd heart,
Lest greater dangers do attend thy drift.
Faustus: One thing, good servant, let me crave of thee:
Bring that fair Helen, whose admiréd worth
Made Greece with ten years' war afflict poor Troy;
Whose sweet embraces may extinguish clean
Those thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow,
And keep my oath I made to Lucifer.
Mephistophilis: This, or what else my Faustus may desire,
Shall be performed in twinkling of an eye.
[Enter Helen, passing over the stage between two cupids.
Faustus: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!
Her lips suck forth my soul; see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again!
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars:
Brighter art thou than naming Jupiter,
When he appeared to hapless Semele:
More lovely than the monarch of the sky,
In wanton Arethusa's azured arms!
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
Scene II.—The same. Faustus. Enter Scholars.
First Scholar: Worthy Faustus, methinks your looks are changed!
Faustus: Oh, gentlemen!
Second Scholar: What ails Faustus?
Faustus: Ah, my sweet chamber-fellow, had I lived with thee, then I had lived still; but now must die eternally! Look, sirs; comes he not? Comes he not?
First Scholar: O my dear Faustus, what imports this fear?
Third Scholar: 'Tis but a surfeit, sir; fear nothing.
Faustus: A surfeit of deadly sin, that hath damned both body and soul.
Second Scholar: Yet, Faustus, look up to Heaven, and remember mercy is infinite.
Faustus: But Faustus' offence can ne'er be pardoned; the serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but [Pg 292] not Faustus. He must remain in hell for ever; hell, Oh, hell for ever. Sweet friends, what shall become of Faustus, being in hell for ever?
Second Scholar: Yet, Faustus, call on God.
Faustus: On God, whom Faustus hath abjured! On God, whom Faustus hath blasphemed! O my God, I would weep! But the Devil draws in my tears. Gush forth blood, instead of tears! Yea, life, and soul! Oh, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands; but see, they hold 'em, they hold 'em!
Scholars: Who, Faustus?
Faustus: Why, Lucifer and Mephistophilis. O gentlemen, I gave them my soul for my cunning!
Second Scholar: Oh, what may we do to save Faustus?
Faustus: Talk not of me, but save yourselves and depart.
Third Scholar: God will strengthen me; I will stay with Faustus.
First Scholar: Tempt not God, sweet friend; but let us into the next room and pray for him.
Faustus: Aye, pray for me, pray for me; and what noise soever you hear, come not unto me, for nothing can rescue me.
Second Scholar: Pray thou, and we will pray that God may have mercy on thee.
Faustus: Gentlemen, farewell. If I live till morning, I'll visit you; if not, Faustus is gone to hell.
Scholars: Faustus, farewell!
[Exeunt Scholars. The clock strikes eleven.
Faustus: Oh, Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
Stand still, you ever moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease, and midnight never come;
Fair nature's eyes, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
[Pg 293] A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
O lente, lente, currite, noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The Devil will come, and Faustus must be damn'd.
Oh, I'll leap up to heaven: who pulls me down?
See, where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop of blood will save me: O my Christ!
Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
Yet will I call on Him. Oh, spare me, Lucifer!
Where is it now? 'Tis gone.
And see, a threatening arm, an angry brow!
Mountains and hills, come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of Heaven!
Then will I headlong run into the earth;
Gape, earth! Oh, no, it will not harbour me.
Yon stars that reigned at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell.
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist,
Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
But let my soul mount and ascend to heaven.
[The clock strikes the half hour.
Oh, half the hour is past; 'twill all be past anon.
Oh, if my soul must suffer for my sin,
Impose some end to my incessant pains;
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved!
No end is limited to damnéd souls.
Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul,
Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
Oh, Pythagoras' metempsychosis, were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be changed
Into some brutish beast! All beasts are happy,
For when they die
[Pg 294] Their souls are soon dissolved in elements;
But mine must live still, and be plagued in hell.
Curs'd be the parents that engender'd me!
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.
[The clock strikes twelve.
It strikes! It strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
O soul, be changed into small water-drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!
[Thunder. Enter Devils.
Oh, mercy, Heaven! Look not so fierce on me!
Adders and serpents, let me breathe awhile!
Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I'll burn my books. O Mephistophilis!
[Exeunt Devils with Faustus. Enter Chorus.
Chorus: Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned Apollo's laurel-bough,
That sometime grew within this learnéd man.
Faustus is gone. Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise,
Only to wonder at unlawful things,
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits.
[X] Christopher Marlowe was born at Canterbury in February, 1564, the year of Shakespeare's birth. From the King's School he went to Cambridge, at Corpus, and took his degree in 1583. For the next ten years, he lived in London; a tavern brawl ended his career on June 1, 1593. During those ten years, when Greene and Nashe and Peele were beginning to shape the nascent drama, and Shakespeare was serving his apprenticeship, most of the young authors were living wild enough lives, and none, according to tradition, wilder than Kit Marlowe; who, nevertheless, was doing mightier work, work more pregnant with promise than any of them, and infinitely greater in achievement; for Shakespeare's tragedies were still to come. That "Tamburlaine the Great," the first play of a lad of twenty-three, should have been crude and bombastic is not surprising; that "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus" should have been produced by an author aged probably less than twenty-five is amazing. The story is traditional; two hundred years after Marlowe, Goethe gave it its most familiar setting (see Vol. XVI, p. 362). But although some part of Marlowe's play is grotesque, there is no epithet which can fitly characterise its greatest scenes except "tremendous." What may not that tavern brawl have cost the world!
[Y] Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis) was born at Bilbilis, in Spain, about 40 a.d. He went to Rome when twenty-four, and by attaching himself to the influential family of his fellow Spaniards, Seneca and Lucan, won his first introduction to Roman society. The earliest of his books which we possess celebrates the games associated with the dedication of the Flavian amphitheatre, the Colosseum, by Titus, in 80 a.d. Most of his other books belong to the reign of Domitian, to whom he cringed with fulsome adulation. After a residence in Rome during thirty-four years, he returned to Spain. He died probably soon after 102 a.d. Martial's importance to literature rests chiefly on two facts. He made a permanent impress upon the epigram by his gift of concise and vigorous utterance, culminating in a characteristically sharp sting; and he left in his verses, even where they are coarsest, an extraordinarily graphic index to the pleasure-loving and often corrupt society of his day. Martial had no deep seriousness of outlook upon life; yet he had better things in him than flippancy. He wearied of his long career of attendance upon patrons who requited him but shabbily; and with considerable taste for rural scenery, he longed for a more open-air existence than was attainable in Rome. Where he best exhibited genuine feeling was in his laments for the dead and his affection for friends. With the exception of the introductory piece from Byron, the verse translations here are by Professor Wight Duff.
Lovell, an English lord
Sir Giles Overreach, a cruel extortioner
Wellborn, a prodigal, nephew to Sir Giles
Allworth, a young gentleman, page to Lord Lovell,
stepson to Lady Allworth
Marrall, a creature of Sir Giles Overreach
Willdo, a parson
Lady Allworth, a rich widow
Margaret, Sir Giles's daughter
The scene is laid in an English county
Scene I.—A room in Overreach's house. Enter Overreach and Marrall.
Overreach: This varlet, Wellborn, lives too long to
With my close cheat put on him. Will not cold
Nor hunger kill him?
Marrall: I've used all means; and the last night I
His host, the tapster, to turn him out of doors;
And since I've charged all of your friends and tenants
To refuse him even a crust of mouldy bread.
Overreach: Persuade him that 'tis better steal than beg:
Then, if I prove he have but robbed a hen roost,
Not all the world shall save him from the gallows.
Marrall: I'll do my best, sir.
Overreach: I'm now on my main work, with the
The gallant-minded, popular Lord Lovell.
He's come into the country; and my aims
Are to invite him to my house.
Marrall: I see.
This points at my young mistress.
Overreach: She must part with
That humble title, and write honourable—
Yes, Marrall, my right honourable daughter,
If all I have, or e'er shall get, will do it.
[Exit Overreach. Enter Wellborn.
Marrall: Before, like you, I had outlived my fortunes,
A withe had served my turn to hang myself.
Is there no purse to be cut? House to be broken?
Or market-woman with eggs that you may murder,
And so dispatch the business?
Wellborn: Here's variety,
[Pg 307] I must confess; but I'll accept of none
Of all your gentle offers, I assure you.
Despite the rhetoric that the fiend has taught you,
I am as far as thou art from despair.
Nay, I have confidence, which is more than hope,
To live, and suddenly, better than ever.
Come, dine with me, and with a gallant lady.
Marrall: With the lady of the lake or queen of
For I know it must be an enchanted dinner.
Wellborn: With the Lady Allworth, knave.
Marrall: Nay, now there's hope
Thy brain is cracked.
Wellborn: Mark thee with what respect
I am entertained.
Marrall: With choice, no doubt, of dog-whips!
Wellborn: 'Tis not far off; go with me; trust thine eyes.
Marrall: I will endure thy company.
Wellborn: Come along, then.
Scene II.—The country. Marrall assures Overreach that the plot on Wellborn succeeds. The rich Lady Allworth has feasted him and is fallen in love with him; he lives to be a greater prey than ever to Overreach. Angered at the information, Overreach, who has himself attempted in vain to see her, knocks his creature down, mollifying him afterwards with gold.
Scene I.—A chamber in Lady Allworth's house. Lovell and Allworth discovered. Having heard of the mutual attachment of Margaret and Allworth, Lord Lovell has assured the latter that he will help bring it to a successful issue, and that neither the beauty nor the wealth of Sir Giles's daughter shall tempt him to betray Allworth's confidence. Enter Marrall, and with him Sir Giles, who from what he has seen of their behaviour at a dinner given by him in LORD Lovell's honour believes that Lovell wishes to marry Margaret and that Lady Allworth is enamoured of Wellborn. To further this latter match and to prosecute new designs against Wellborn he has lent him a thousand pounds.
Overreach: A good day to my lord.
Lovell: You are an early riser, Sir Giles.
Overreach: And reason, to attend your lordship.
Go to my nephew, Marrall.
See all his debts discharged, and help his worship
To fit on his rich suit.
Lovell: I have writ this morning
A few lines to my mistress, your fair daughter.
Overreach: 'Twill fire her, for she's wholly yours already.
Sweet Master Allworth, take my ring; 'twill carry
To her presence, I dare warrant you; and there plead
For my good lord, if you shall find occasion.
That done, pray ride to Nottingham; get a licence
Still by this token. I'll have it dispatched,
And suddenly, my lord, that I may say
My honourable, nay, right honourable daughter.
Lovell: Haste your return.
Allworth: I will not fail, my lord.
Overreach: I came not to make offer with my daughter
A certain portion; that were poor and trivial:
In one word, I pronounce all that is mine,
In lands, or leases, ready coin, or goods,
[Pg 309] With her, my lord, comes to you; nor shall you have
One motive to induce you to believe
I live too long, since every year I'll add
Something unto the heap, which shall be yours too.
Lovell: You are a right kind father.
Overreach: You'll have reason
To think me such. How do you like this seat?
Would it not serve to entertain your friends?
Lovell: A well-built pile; and she that's mistress of it,
Worthy the large revenue.
Overreach: She, the mistress?
It may be so for a time; but let my lord
Say only he but like it, and would have it,
I say ere long 'tis his.
Overreach: You do conclude too fast. 'Tis not alone
The Lady Allworth's lands; for these, once Wellborn's
(As, by her dotage on him, I know they will be),
Shall soon be mine. But point out any man's
In all the shire, and say they lie convenient
And useful for your lordship, and once more
I say aloud, they are yours.
Lovell: I dare not own
What's by unjust and cruel means extorted:
My fame and credit are too dear to me.
Overreach: Your reputation shall stand as fair
In all good men's opinions as now.
All my ambition is to have my daughter
Right honourable; which my lord can make her:
And might I live to dance upon my knee
A young Lord Lovell, borne by her unto you,
I write nil ultra to my proudest hopes.
I'll ruin the country to supply your waste:
The scourge of prodigals, want, shall never find you.
Lovell: Are you not moved with the imprecations
And curses of whole families, made wretched
[Pg 310] By these practices?
Overreach: Yes, as rocks are,
When foamy billows split themselves against
Their flinty ribs; or as the moon is moved
When wolves, with hunger pined, howl at her brightness.
I only think what 'tis to have my daughter
Right honourable; and 'tis a powerful charm,
Makes me insensible of remorse, or pity,
Or the least sting of conscience.
Lovell: I admire
The toughness of your nature.
Overreach: 'Tis for you,
My lord, and for my daughter I am marble.
My haste commands me hence: in one word, therefore,
Is it a match, my lord?
Lovell: I hope that is past doubt now.
Overreach: Then rest secure; not the hate of all mankind,
Not fear of what can fall on me hereafter,
Shall make me study aught but your advancement
One storey higher: an earl! if gold can do it.
Lovell: He's gone; I wonder how the earth can bear
Such a portent! I, that have lived a soldier,
And stood the enemy's violent charge undaunted,
Am bathed in a cold sweat.
Scene II.—A chamber in Sir Giles's house. Enter Wellborn and Marrall.
Wellborn: Now, Master Marrall, what's the weighty secret
You promised to impart?
Marrall: This only, in a word: I know Sir Giles
Will come upon you for security
For his thousand pounds; which you must not consent to.
As he grows in heat (as I'm sure he will),
Be you but rough, and say, he's in your debt
[Pg 311] Ten times the sum upon sale of your land.
The deed in which you passed it over to him
Bid him produce: he'll have it to deliver
To the Lord Lovell, with many other writings,
And present moneys. I'll instruct you farther
As I wait on your worship.
Wellborn: I trust thee.
[Exeunt. Enter Margaret as if in anger, followed by Allworth.
Margaret: I'll pay my lord all debts due to his title;
And when with terms not taking from his honour
He does solicit me, I shall gladly hear him:
But in this peremptory, nay, commanding way,
To appoint a meeting, and without my knowledge,
Shows a confidence that deceives his lordship.
Allworth: I hope better, good lady.
Margaret: Hope, sir, what you please; I have
A father, and, without his full consent,
I can grant nothing.
[Enter Overreach, having overheard.
Overreach (aside): I like this obedience.
But whatever my lord writes must and shall be
Accepted and embraced. (Addressing Allworth.) Sweet
You show yourself a true and faithful servant.
How! frowning, Meg? Are these looks to receive
A messenger from my lord? In name of madness,
What could his honour write more to content you?
Margaret: Why, sir, I would be married like your
Not hurried away in the night, I know not whither,
Without all ceremony; no friends invited,
To honour the solemmnity.
Allworth: My lord desires this privacy, in respect
His honourable kinsmen are far off;
And he desires there should be no delay.
Margaret: Give me but in the church, and I'm content.
Overreach: So my lord have you, what care I who gives you?
Lord Lovell would be private, I'll not cross him.
Use my ring to my chaplain; he is beneficed
At my manor of Gotham, and called Parson Willdo.
Margaret: What warrant is your ring? He may suppose
I got that twenty ways without your knowledge.
Your presence would do better.
Overreach: Still perverse!
Paper and ink there.
Allworth: I can furnish you.
Overreach: I thank you; I can write then.
[Writes on his book.
Allworth: You may, if you please, leave out the name of my lord,
In respect he comes disguised, and only write,
"Marry her to this gentleman."
Overreach: Well advised.
'Tis done; away—my blessing, girl? Thou hast it.
[Exeunt Allworth and Margaret.
Overreach: Farewell! Now all's cock sure.
Methink I hear already knights and ladies
Say, "Sir Giles Overreach, how is it with
Your honourable daughter? Has her honour
Slept well to-night?" Now for Wellborn
And the lands; were he once married to the widow—I
have him here. [Exit.
Scene I.—A chamber in Lady Allworth's house. Enter Lovell and Lady Allworth contracted to one another. He has told her that only a desire to promote the union of her promising young stepson, Allworth, with Margaret Overreach tempted him [Pg 313] into a seeming courtship of Sir Giles's daughter. She has told him that her somewhat exaggerated courtesies and attentions to Wellborn were an obligation paid to one who in his prosperous days had ventured all for her dead husband. To them enter Wellborn in a rich habit.
Lady Allworth: You're welcome, sir. Now you look like yourself.
Wellborn: Your creature, madam. I will never hold
My life my own, when you please to command it.
Lady Allworth: I'm glad my endeavours prospered. Saw you lately
Sir Giles, your uncle?
Wellborn: I heard of him, madam,
By his minister, Marrall. He's grown into strange passions
About his daughter. This last night he looked for
Your lordship at his house; but missing you,
And she not yet appearing, his wise head
Is much perplexed and troubled.
Overreach (outside): Ha! find her, booby; thou huge lump of nothing.
I'll bore thine eyes out else.
Wellborn: May't please your lordship,
For some ends of my own, but to withdraw
A little out of sight, though not of hearing.
Lovell: You shall direct me.
[Steps aside. Enter Overreach, with distracted looks, driving in Marrall before him.
Overreach: Lady, by your leave, did you see my daughter, lady,
And the lord, her husband? Are they in your house?
If they are, discover, that I may bid them joy;
And, as an entrance to her place of honour,
See your ladyship on her left hand, and make curt'sies
When she nods on you; which you must receive
[Pg 314] As a special favour.
Lady Allworth: When I know, Sir Giles,
Her state require such ceremony I shall pay it;
Meantime, I neither know nor care where she is.
Overreach: No more!
Wellborn: 'Tis all I owe you.
Overreach: I am familiar with the cause that makes you
Bear up thus bravely; there's a certain buz
Of a stolen marriage—do you hear? Of a stolen marriage;
In which, 'tis said, there's somebody hath been cozened.
I name no parties.
[Lady Allworth turns away.
Wellborn: Well, sir, and what follows?
Overreach: Marry, this, since you are peremptory. Remember
Upon mere hope of your great match I lent you
A thousand pounds. Put me in good security,
And suddenly, by mortgage or by statute,
Of some of your new possessions, or I'll have you
Dragged in your lavender robes to the jail.
Shall I have security?
Wellborn: No, indeed, you shall not:
Nor bond, nor bill, nor bare acknowledgment;
Your great looks fright not me. And whereas, sir,
You charge me with a debt of a thousand pounds,
Either restore my land, or I'll recover
A debt, that is truly due to me from you,
In value ten times more than what you challenge.
Overreach: Oh, monstrous impudence! Did I not purchase
The land left by thy father? [Enter servant with a box.
Is not here
The deed that does confirm it mine?
Marrall: Now, now.
Wellborn: I do acknowledge none; I ne'er passed o'er
Any such land; I grant, for a year or two,
You had it in trust; which if you do discharge,
Surrendering the possession, you shall ease
Yourself and me of chargeable suits in law.
Lady Allworth: In my opinion, he advises well.
Overreach: Good, good; conspire with your new husband, lady.
(To Wellborn) Yet, to shut up thy mouth, and make thee give
Thyself the lie, the loud lie! I draw out
The precious evidence. (Opens the box.) Ha!
Lady Allworth: A fair skin of parchment.
Wellborn: Indented, I confess, and labels too;
But neither wax nor words. How? Thunderstruck!
Is this your precious evidence, my wise uncle?
Overreach: What prodigy is this? What subtle devil
Hath razed out the inscription—the wax
Turned into dust? Do you deal with witches, rascal?
This juggling shall not save you.
Wellborn: TO save thee would beggar the stock of mercy.
Overreach (flattering him): Though the witnesses are dead,
Help with an oath or two; and for thy master
I know thou wilt swear anything to dash
This cunning sleight; the deed being drawn, too,
By thee, my careful Marrall, and delivered
When thou wert present, will make good my title.
Wilt thou not swear this?
Marrall: I have a conscience not seared up like yours;
[Pg 316] I know no deeds.
Overreach: Wilt thou betray me?
Marrall: Yes, and uncase you, too. The lump of flesh,
The idiot, the patch, the slave, the booby,
The property fit only to be beaten,
Can now anatomise you, and lay open
All your black plots.
Overreach: But that I will live, rogue, to torture thee,
And make thee wish and kneel in vain to die,
These swords, that keep thee from me, should fix here.
I play the fool and make my anger but ridiculous.
There will be a time, and place, there will be, cowards!
When you shall feel what I dare do.
After these storms, at length a calm appears.
[Enter Parson Willdo.
Welcome, most welcome; is the deed done?
Willdo: Yes, I assure you.
Overreach: Vanish all sad thoughts!
My doubts and fears are in the titles drowned
Of my right honourable, right honourable daughter.
A lane there for my lord!
[Loud music. Enter Allworth, Margaret, and Lovell.
Margaret: Sir, first your pardon, then your blessing, with
Your full allowance of the choice I have made.
(Kneeling) This is my husband.
Allworth: So I assure you.
Overreach: Devil! Are they married?
Willdo: They are married, sir; but why this rage to me?
Is not this your letter, sir? And these the words,
"Marry her to this gentleman"?
Overreach: I never will believe it, 'death! I will not;
That I should be gulled, baffled, fooled, defeated
[Pg 317] By children, all my hopes and labours crossed.
Wellborn: You are so, my grave uncle, it appears.
Overreach: Village nurses revenge their wrongs with curses,
I'll waste no words, but thus I take the life
Which, wretch, I gave to thee.
[Offers to kill Margaret.
Lovell: Hold, for your own sake!
Overreach: Lord! thus I spit at thee,
And at thy counsel; and again desire thee
As thou'rt a soldier, let us quit the house
And change six words in private.
Lovell: I am ready.
Lady Allworth: Stay, sir; would you contest with one distraited?
Overreach: Are you pale?
Borrow his help; though Hercules call it odds,
I'll stand against both, as I am, hemmed in thus.
Alone, I can do nothing, but I have servants
And friends to succour me; and if I make not
This house a heap of ashes, or leave one throat uncut,
Hell add to my afflictions!
Marrall: Is't not brave sport?
Allworth (to Margaret): Nay, weep not, dearest,
though't express your pity.
Marrall: Was it not a rare trick,
An't please your worship, to make the deed nothing?
I can do twenty neater, if you please
To purchase and grow rich. They are mysteries
Not to be spoke in public; certain minerals
Incorporated in the ink and wax.
Wellborn: You are a rascal. He that dares be false
To a master, though unjust, will ne'er be true
To any other. Look not for reward
Or favour from me. Instantly begone.
Marrall: At this haven false servants still arrive.
[Exit. Re-enter Overreach.[Pg 318]
[Exit. Re-enter Overreach.
Willdo: Some little time I have spent, under your favours,
In physical studies, and, if my judgment err not,
He's mad beyond recovery.
Overreach: Were they a squadron of pikes, when I am mounted
Upon my injuries, shall I fear to charge them?
[Flourishing his sword sheathed.
I'll fall to execution—ha! I am feeble:
Some undone widow sits upon mine arm,
And takes away the use of 't! And my sword,
Glued to my scabbard with wronged orphans' tears,
Will not be drawn. Are these the hangmen?
But I'll be forced to hell like to myself;
Though you were legions of accursed spirits,
Thus would I fly among you.
Wellborn: There's no help;
Disarm him first, then bind him.
Margaret: Oh, my dear father!
[They force Overreach off.
Allworth: You must be patient, mistress.
Lovell: Pray take comfort.
I will endeavour you shall be his guardians
In his distraction: and for your land, Master Wellborn,
Be it good or ill in law, I'll be an umpire
Between you and this the undoubted heir
Of Sir Giles Overreach; for me, here's the anchor
That I must fix on.
[Takes Lady Allworth's hand.
[Z] Of all Shakespeare's immediate successors one of the most powerful, as well as the most prolific, was Philip Massinger. The son of a retainer in the household of the Earl of Pembroke, he was born during the second half of 1583, and entered St. Alban's Hall, Oxford, in 1602, but left without a degree four years later. Coming to London, he appears to have mixed freely with writers for the stage, and soon made a reputation as playwright. The full extent of his literary activities is not known, inasmuch as a great deal of his work has been lost. He also collaborated with other authors, particularly with Fletcher (see Vol. XVI, p. 133) in whose grave he was buried on March 18, 1639. It is certain, however, that he wrote single-handed fifteen plays, of which the best known is the masterly and satirical comedy, "A New Way to Pay Old Debts." Printed in 1633, but probably written between 1625 and 1626, the piece retained its popularity longer than any other of Massinger's plays. The construction is ingenious, the dialogue witty, but the dramatis personæ, with the exception of Sir Giles Overreach, are feeble and without vitality.
The poem opens with an invocation to the Heavenly Muse for enlightenment and inspiration.
For nine days and nights the apostate Angel lay silent, "rolling in the fiery gulf," and then, looking round, he discerned by his [Pg 321] side Beelzebub, "one next himself in power and next in crime." With him he took counsel, and rearing themselves from off the pool of fire they found footing on a dreary plain. Walking with uneasy steps the burning marle, the lost Archangel made his way to the shore of "that inflamed sea," and called aloud to his associates, to "Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!" They heard, and gathered about him, all who were "known to men by various names and various idols through the heathen world," but with looks "downcast and damp." He—
The mighty host now circled in orderly array about "their dread Commander."
The exiled host now led by Mammon, "the least erected Spirit that fell from Heaven," proceeded to build Pandemonium, their architect being him whom "men called Mulciber," and here
Here his compeers gathered round to advise. First Moloch, the "strongest and the fiercest Spirit that fought in Heaven," counselled war. Then uprose Belial—"a fairer person lost not Heaven"—and reasoned that force was futile.
Besides, failure might lead to their annihilation, and who wished for that?
They were better now than when they were hurled from Heaven, or when they lay chained on the burning lake. Their Supreme Foe might in time remit his anger, and slacken those raging fires. Mammon also advised them to keep the peace, and make the best they could of Hell, a policy received with applause; but then Beelzebub, "than whom, Satan except, none higher sat," rose, and with a look which "drew audience and attention still as night," developed the suggestion previously made by Satan, that they should attack Heaven's High Arbitrator through His new-created Man, waste his creation, and "drive as we are driven."
This proposal was gleefully received. But then the difficulty arose who should be sent in search of this new world? All sat mute, till Satan declared that he would "abroad through all the coasts of dark destruction," a decision hailed with reverent applause. The Council dissolved, the Infernal Peers disperse to their several employments: some to sports, some to warlike feats, some to argument, "in wandering mazes lost," some to adventurous discovery; while Satan wings his way to the nine-fold gate of Hell, guarded by Sin, and her abortive offspring, Death; and Sin, opening the gate for him to go out, cannot shut it again. The Fiend stands on the brink, "pondering his voyage," while before him appear
At last he spreads his "sail-broad vans for flight," and, directed by Chaos and sable-vested Night, comes to where he can see far off
An invocation to Light, and a lament for the poet's blindness now preludes a picture of Heaven, and the Almighty Father conferring with the only Son.
God, observing the approach of Satan to the world, foretells the fall of Man to the Son, who listens while
The Father asks where such love can be found as will redeem man by satisfying eternal Justice.
Admiration seized all Heaven, and "to the ground they cast their crowns in solemn adoration," when the Son replied
While the immortal quires chanted their praise, Satan drew near, and sighted the World—the sun, earth, moon, and companion planets—
Flying to the Sun, and taking the form of "a stripling Cherub," Satan recognises there the Archangel Uriel and accosts him.
And Uriel, although held to be "the sharpest-sighted Spirit of all in Heaven," was deceived, for angels cannot discern hypocrisy. So Uriel, pointing, answers:
Coming within sight of Paradise Satan's conscience is aroused, and he grieves over the suffering his dire work will entail, exclaiming
But he cannot brook submission, and hardens his heart afresh.
As he approaches Paradise more closely, the deliciousness of the place affects even his senses.
At last, after sighting "all kind of living creatures new to sight and strange," he descries Man.
At the sight of the gentle pair, Satan again almost relents. Taking the shape of various animals, he approaches to hear them talk and finds from Adam that the only prohibition laid on them is partaking of the Tree of Knowledge. Eve, replying, tells how she found herself alive, saw her form reflected in the water, and thought herself fairer even than Adam until
While Satan roams through Paradise, with "sly circumspection," Uriel descends on an evening sunbeam to warn Gabriel, chief of the angelic guards, that a suspected Spirit, with looks "alien from Heaven," had passed to earth, and Gabriel promises to find him before dawn.
Adam and Eve talk ere they retire to rest—she questioning him
Gabriel then sends the Cherubim, "armed to their night watches," and commands Ithuriel and Zephon to search the Garden, where they find Satan, "squat like a toad close to the ear of Eve," seeking to taint her dreams.
Satan therefore starts up in his own person, and is conducted to Gabriel, who sees him coming with them, "a third, of regal port, but faded splendour wan." Gabriel and he engage in a heated altercation, and a fight seems imminent between the Fiend and the angelic squadrons that "begin to hem him round," when, by a sign in the sky, Satan is reminded of his powerlessness in open fight, and flees, murmuring; "and with him fled the shades of Night."
Adam, waking in the morning, finds Eve flushed and distraught, and she tells him of her troublous dreams. He cheers her, and they pass out to the open field, and, adoring, raise their morning hymn of praise.
The Almighty now sends Raphael, "the sociable Spirit," from Heaven to warn Adam of his danger, and alighting on the eastern cliff of Paradise, the Seraph shakes his plumes and diffuses heavenly fragrance around; then moving through the forest is seen by Adam, who, with Eve, entertains him, and seizes the occasion to ask him of "their Being Who dwell in Heaven," and further, what is meant by the angelic caution—"If ye be found obedient." Raphael thereupon tells of the disobedience, in Heaven, of Satan, and his fall, "from that high state of bliss into what woe." He tells how the Divine decree of obedience to the Only Son was received by Satan with envy, because he felt "himself impaired"; and how, consulting with Beelzebub, he drew away all the Spirits under their command to the "spacious North," and, taunting them with being eclipsed, proposed that they should rebel. Only Abdiel remained faithful, and urged them to cease their "impious rage," and seek pardon in time, or they might find that He Who had created them could uncreate them.
Raphael, continuing, tells Adam how Abdiel flew back to Heaven with the story of the revolt, but found it was known. The Sovran Voice having welcomed the faithful messenger with "Servant of God, well done!" orders the Archangels Michael and Gabriel to lead forth the celestial armies, while the banded powers of Satan are hastening on to set the Proud Aspirer on the very Mount of God. "Long time in even scale the battle hung," but with the dawning of the third day, the Father directed the Messiah to ascend his chariot, and end the strife. "Far off his coming shone," and at His presence "Heaven his wonted face renewed, and with fresh flowerets hill and valley smiled." But, nearing the foe, His countenance changed into a terror "too severe to be beheld."
A like fate, Raphael warns Adam, may befall mankind if they are guilty of disobedience.
The "affable Archangel," at Adam's request, continues his talk by telling how the world began. Lest Lucifer should take a pride in having "dispeopled Heaven," God announces to the Son that he will create another world, and a race to dwell in it who may
This creation is to be the work of the Son, who, girt with omnipotence, prepares to go forth.
The six days' creative work is then described in the order of Genesis.
Asked by Adam to tell him about the motions of the heavenly bodies, Raphael adjures him to refrain from thought on "matters hid; to serve God and fear; and to be lowly wise." He then asks Adam to tell him of his creation, he having at the time been absent on "excursion toward the gates of Hell." Adam complies, and relates how he appealed to God for a companion, and was answered in the fairest of God's gifts. Raphael warns Adam to beware lest passion for Eve sway his judgment, for on him depends the weal or woe, not only of himself, but of all his sons.
While Raphael was in Paradise, for seven nights, Satan hid himself by circling round in the shadow of the Earth, then, rising as a mist, he crept into Eden undetected, and entered the serpent as the "fittest imp of fraud," but not until once more lamenting that the enjoyment of the earth was not for him. In the morning, when the human pair came forth to their pleasant labours, Eve suggested that they should work apart, for when near each other "looks intervene and smiles," and casual discourse. Adam replied, defending "this sweet intercourse of looks and smiles," and saying they had been made not for irksome toil, but for delight.
She, however, repels the suggestion that she can be deceived. Adam replies that he does not wish her to be tempted, and that united they would be stronger and more watchful. Eve responds that if Eden is so exposed that they are not secure apart, how can they be happy? Adams gives way, with the explanation that it is not mistrust but tender love that enjoins him to watch over her, and, as she leaves him,
The Fiend, questing through the garden, finds her
Seeing her, Satan "much the place admired, the person more."
The original serpent did not creep on the ground, but was a handsome creature.
Appearing before Eve with an air of worshipful admiration, and speaking in human language, the arch-deceiver gains her ear with flattery. "Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve." She asks how it is that man's language is pronounced by "tongue of brute." The reply is that the power came through eating the fruit of a certain tree, which gave him reason, and also constrained him to worship her as "sovran of creatures." Asked to show her the tree, he leads her swiftly to the Tree of Prohibition, and replying to her scruples and fears, declares—
Eve herself then took up the argument and repeated admiringly the Serpent's persuasions.
At first elated by the fruit, Eve presently began to reflect, excuse herself, and wonder what the effect would be on Adam.
Then, turning to Eve, he tries to comfort her.
The effect of the fruit on them is first to excite lust with guilty shame following, and realising this after "the exhilarating vapour bland" had spent its force, Adam found utterance for his remorse.
Then they cower in the woods, and clothe themselves with leaves.
But passion also took possession of them, and they began to taunt each other with recriminations. Adam, with estranged look, exclaimed:
The Angels left on guard now slowly return from Paradise to Heaven to report their failure, but are reminded by God that it was ordained; and the Son is sent down to judge the guilty pair, after hearing their excuses, and to punish them with the curses of toil and death. Meantime Sin and Death "snuff the smell of mortal change" on Earth, and leaving Hell-gate "belching outrageous flame," erect a broad road from Hell to Earth through Chaos, and as they come in sight of the World meet Satan steering his way back as an angel, "between the Centaur and the Scorpion." He makes Sin and Death his plenipotentiaries on Earth, adjuring them first to make man their thrall, and lastly kill; and as they pass to the evil work "the blasted stars look wan." The return to Hell is received with loud acclaim, which comes in the form of a hiss, and Satan and all his hosts are turned into grovelling snakes. Adam, now in his repentance, is sternly resentful against Eve, who becomes submissive, and both pass from remorse to "sorrow unfeigned and humiliation meek.'
The repentance of the pair is accepted by God, who sends down the Archangel Michael, with a cohort of cherubim, to announce that death will not come until time has been given for repentance, but Paradise can no longer be their home. Whereupon Eve laments.
The Angel reminds her:
Michael then ascending a hill with Adam shows him a vision of the world's history, while Eve sleeps.
The history is continued, with its promise of redemption, until Adam exclaims:
Eve awakens from propitious dreams, it having been shown to her that—
The time, however, has come when they must leave. A flaming sword, "fierce as a comet," advances towards them before the bright array of cherubim.
[AA] John Milton, the peer of Dante as one of the world's master-poets, was born in Bread Street, London, on December 9, 1608, the son of a well-to-do scrivener. Educated at St. Paul's School and at Cambridge, he devoted himself from the first to poetry. The "Ode on the Nativity" was written when the poet was twenty-one. His productions till his thirtieth year were nearly all of a classical caste—"L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," "Comus," "Lycidas." Returning from Continental travels in 1639, Milton became enmeshed in politics, and so continued for twenty years, during which time he wrote much polemical prose, including his "Areopagitica" (see Vol. XX, p. 257) and his "Tractate on Education." After a spell of teaching and pamphleteering, he served as Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and was stricken with blindness at the age of forty-four. Though poor by loss of office after the Restoration, he was never in poverty. He died on November 8, 1674. "Paradise Lost," planned in his youth, was actually begun in 1658, finished in 1665, and published in 1667. The price arranged was £5 down and £5 more on each of three editions, of which Milton received £10, and his widow £8, the rest being unpaid. In English literature "Paradise Lost" stands alone as an effort of sheer imagination, and its literary genius is as haunting as its conception is stupendous.
Having thus introduced his subject, the poet describes, on Scriptural lines, the baptism of John, seen by Satan, "when roving still about the world." The Fiend then "flies to his place" and "summons all his mighty peers"—a gloomy consistory—warning them that the time seems approaching when they "must bide the stroke of that long-threatened wound," when "the woman's Seed shall bruise the serpent's head." They agree that Satan shall return to earth and act as Tempter. In Heaven, meantime, God tells the assembly of angels, addressing Gabriel, that He will expose His Son to Satan, in order that the Son may "show him worthy of His birth divine and high prediction." And the angelic choir sings "Victory and triumph to the Son of God."
Christ then, in meditation, tells reminiscently the story of His life.
This is Satan, and, entering into conversation adjures the Son—
Christ at once discerns who His tempter is and rebuffs him; and the Fiend, "now undisguised," goes on to narrate his own history, arguing that he is not a foe to mankind.
Christ, replying, attributes to Satan the evils of Idolatry and the crafty oracles of heathendom, which have taken the place of the "inward oracle in pious hearts," whereupon Satan, "bowing low his gray dissimulation, disappeared."
Meanwhile the disciples were gathered "close in a cottage low," wondering where Christ could be, and Mary with troubled thoughts, rehearsed the story of His early life. Satan, returning to the council of his fellow fiends, in "the middle region of thick air," reports his failure, and that he has found in the Tempted "amplitude of mind to greatest deeds." Belial advises that the temptation should be continued by women "expert in amorous arts," but Satan rejects the plan, and reminds Belial—
With this aim Satan again betakes himself to the desert, where Christ, now hungry, sleeps and dreams of food.
Here Satan again tempts Him with a spread of savoury food, which Jesus dismisses with the words:
The book closes with the offer of riches, which are rejected as "the toil of fools."
Finding his weak "arguing and fallacious drift" ineffectual, Satan next appeals to ambition and suggests conquest; but is reminded that conquerors
But Satan, sardonically, argues that God expects glory, nay, exacts it from all, good and bad alike. To which Christ replies:
But, argues Satan, it is the throne of David to which the Messiah is ordained; why not begin that reign? Hitherto Christ has scarcely seen the Galilean towns, but He shall "quit these rudiments" and survey "the monarchies of the earth, their pomp and state." And thereupon he carries Him to a mountain whence He can see "Assyria and her empire's ancient bounds," and there suggests the deliverance of the Ten Tribes.
The answer is that these things must be left to God's "due time and providence."
The Tempter now brings the Saviour round to the western side of the mountain, and there Rome
But this "grandeur and majestic show of luxury" has no effect on Christ, who says:
The offer of the kingdoms of the world incurs the stern rebuke:
Still the Fiend is not utterly abashed, but, arguing that "the childhood shows the man as morning shows the day," and that Christ's empire is one of mind, he, as a last temptation from the "specular mount," shows Athens.
Christ replies that whoever seeks true wisdom in the philosophies, moralities and conjectures of men finds her not, and that the poetry of Greece will not compare with "Hebrew songs and harps." It is the prophets who teach most plainly
Finding all these temptations futile, Satan explodes:
So he transports the passive Saviour back to his homeless solitude.
Satan, in anger, begins the last temptation.
Feigning to doubt whether the Saviour is the Son of God, he snatches him up and carries him to where, in
[AB] The origin of "Paradise Regained" has been told authentically. It was suggested in 1665 by Ellwood the Quaker, who sometimes acted as Milton's amanuensis, and it was finished and shown to Ellwood in 1666, though not published till 1671. Neither in majesty of conception or in charm of style can it compare with "Paradise Lost," to which it is, as has been said, a codicil and not a sequel. The Temptation, the reader feels, was but an incident in the life of Christ and in the drama of the "ways of God to man," which "Paradise Lost" introduced with such stupendous imaginative power. Much of the poem is but a somewhat ambling paraphrase and expansion of Scriptural narratives; but there are passages where Milton resumes his perfect mastery of poetic form, under the inspiration that places him among the selectest band of immortal singers.
Manoa, the father of Samson
Dalila, his wife
Hurapha, of Gath
Chorus of Danites
The scene is placed before the prison in Gaza.
Samson: A little onward send thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade.
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil.
Daily in the common prison else enjoined me,
Where I, a prisoner chained, scarce freely draw
The air, imprisoned also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught. But here I feel amends
The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon, their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works. Hence, with leave
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease—
Oh, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an angel, if I must die
Betrayed, captive, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze?
O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrevocably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created beam, and thou great Word,
"Let there be light, and light was over all,"
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?
[Pg 351] The Sun to me is dark
And silent as the Moon,
When she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant inter-lunar cave.
Chorus: This, this is he; softly a while;
Let us not break in upon him.
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffused,
With languished head unpropt,
As one past hope, abandoned.
Which shall I fast bewail—
Thy bondage or lost sight,
Prison within prison
Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!)
The dungeon of thyself;
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou are fallen.
Samson: I hear the sound of words; their sense the air
Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear.
Chorus: He speaks; let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief!
We come, thy friends and neighbours not unknown,
From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale,
To visit or bewail thee.
Samson: Your coming, friends, revives me.
Tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverbed for a fool
In every street?
Chorus: Wisest men
Have erred, and by bad women been deceived;
And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.
In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy country's enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I bear thee witness.
But see! here comes thy reverend sire,
[Pg 352] With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoa: advise
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
Manoa: Brethren and men of Dan, if old respect,
As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend,
My son, now captive, hither hath informed
Your younger feet, while mine, cast back with age,
Came lagging after, say if he be here.
Chorus: As signal now in low dejected state
As erst in highest, behold him where he lies.
Manoa: O miserable change! Is this the man,
That invincible Samson, far renowned,
The dread of Israel's foes?
Samson: Nothing of all these evils hath befallen me
Manoa: True; but thou bear'st
Enough, and more, the burden of that fault;
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying,
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains;
This day the Philistines a popular feast
Here celebrate in Gaza, and proclaim
Great pomp, and sacrifice, and praises loud,
To Dagon, as their god who hath delivered
Thee, Samson, bound and blind, into their hands.
Samson: Father, I do acknowledge and confess
That I this honour, I this pomp, have brought
To Dagon, and advanced his praises high
Among the heathen round. The contest is now
'Twixt God and Dagon. Dagon hath presumed,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God.
Dagon must stoop, and shall ere long receive
Such a discomfit as shall quite despoil him
Of all these boasted trophies won on me,
And with confusion blank his worshippers.
Manoa: But for thee what shall be done?
Thou must not in the meanwhile, here forgot,
Lie in this miserable, loathsome plight,
[Pg 353] Neglected. I already have made way
To some Philistine lords, with whom to treat
About thy ransom.
Samson: Spare that proposal, father; let me here
As I deserve, pay on my punishment,
And expiate, if possible, my crime.
Manoa: Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite;
But act not in thy own affliction, son.
Repent the sin; but if the punishment
Thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids.
Samson: Nature within me seems
In all her functions weary of herself;
My race of glory run, and race of shame,
And I shall shortly be with them that rest
Manoa: I, however,
Must not omit a father's timely care
To prosecute the means of thy deliverance
By ransom, or how else.
Chorus: But who is this? what thing of sea or land—
Female of sex it seems—
That, so bedecked, ornate, and gay,
Comes this way sailing?
Some rich Philistian matron she may seem;
And now at nearer view no other certain
Than Dalila, thy wife.
Samson: My wife! My traitress! Let her not come near me.
Dalila: With doubtful feet and wavering resolution
I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson.
Samson: Out, out, hyena! These are thy wonted arts,
And arts of every woman false like thee—
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray;
Then, as repentant, to submit, beseech
A reconcilement, move with feigned remorse.
Dalila: Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson,
I to the lords will intercede, not doubting
[Pg 354] Their favourable ear, that I may fetch thee
From forth this loathsome prison-house, to abide
With me, where my redoubled love and care,
With nursing diligence, to me glad office,
May ever tend about thee to old age.
Samson: No, no; of my condition take no care;
It fits not; thou and I long since are twain;
Nor think me so unwary or accursed
To bring my feet again into the snare
Where once I have been caught.
Dalila: Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Samson: Not for thy life, lest fierce remembrance wake
My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint.
At distance I forgive thee; go with that;
Bewail thy falsehood, and the pious works
It hath brought forth to make thee memorable
Among illustrious women, faithful wives.
Dalila: I see thou art implacable, more deaf
To prayers than winds and seas. Yet winds to seas
Are reconciled at length, and sea to shore.
My name, perhaps, among the circumcised
In Dan, in Judah, and the bordering tribes
To all posterity may stand defamed.
But in my country, where I most desire,
I shall be named among the famousest
Of women, sung at solemn festivals,
Living and dead recorded, who to save
Her country from a fierce destroyer, chose
Above the faith of wedlock bands; my tomb
With odours visited and annual flowers.
Chorus: She's gone—a manifest serpent by her sting—
Discovered in the end, till now concealed.
This idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest,
Labouring thy mind
More than the working day thy hands.
[Pg 355] And yet, perhaps, more trouble is behind;
For I descry this way
Some other tending; in his hand
A sceptre or quaint staff he bears,
A public officer, and now at hand.
His message will be short and voluble.
Officer: Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
Chorus: His manacles remark him; there he sits.
Officer: Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say.
This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,
With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games;
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some public proof thereof require
To honour this great feast and great assembly.
Rise, therefore, with all speed, and come along,
Where I will see thee heartened and fresh clad,
To appear as fit before the illustrious lords.
Samson: Thou know'st I am an Hebrew; therefore tell them
Our law forbids at their religious rites
My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Officer: This answer, be assured will not content them.
Samson: Return the way thou camest;
I will not come.
Officer: Regard thyself; this will offend them highly.
Samson: Can they think me so broken, so debased
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Joined with extreme contempt! I will not come.
Officer: I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Chorus: He's gone, and who knows how he may report
Thy words by adding fuel to the flames.
Expect another message more imperious.
Samson: Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair,
[Pg 356] After my great transgression!—so requite
Favour renewed, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols.
Chorus: Where the heart joins not, outward acts defile not.
Samson: Be of good courage; I begin to feel
Some rousing motions in me, which dispose
To something extraordinary my thoughts.
I with this messenger will go along—
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great act, or of my days the last.
Chorus: In time thou hast resolved: the man returns.
Officer: Samson, this second message from our lords
To thee I am bid say: Art thou our slave,
And dar'st thou, at our sending and command,
Dispute thy coming? Come without delay;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fastened than a rock.
Samson: Because they shall not trail me through their streets
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.
Officer: I praise thy resolution. Doff these links:
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.
Samson: Brethren, farewell. Your company along
I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them
To see me girt with friends.
Happen what may, of me expect to hear
Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy
Our God, our Law, my nation, or myself.
Chorus: Go, and the Holy One
Of Israel be thy guide.
Manoa: Peace with you, brethren! My inducement hither
Was not at present here to find my son.
[Pg 357] By order of the lords new parted hence
To come and play before them at their feast.
I heard all as I came; I had no will,
Lest I should see him forced to things unseemly.
But that which moved my coming now was chiefly
To give ye part with me what hope I have
With good success to work his liberty.
Chorus: That hope would much rejoice us to partake
Manoa: What noise or shout was that? It tore the sky.
Chorus: Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Their once great dread, captive and blind before them,
Or at some proof of strength, before them shown.
Manoa: His ransom, if my whole inheritance
May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And numbered down. Much rather I shall choose
To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest,
And he in that calamitous prison left.
No, I am fixed not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forego
And quit. Not wanting him, I shall want nothing.
It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
And view him sitting in his house, ennobled
With all those high exploits by him achieved.
Chorus: Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem vain,
Of his delivery.
Manoa: I know your friendly minds, and—O what noise!
Mercy of Heaven! What hideous noise was that
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
Chorus: Noise call you it, or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perished?
Blood, death, and deathful deeds, are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Manoa: Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise.
[Pg 358] Oh! it continues; the have slain my son.
Chorus: Thy son is rather slaying them; that outcry
From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Manoa: Some dismal accident it needs must be.
What shall we do—stay here, or run and see?
Chorus: Best keep together here, lest, running thither,
We unawares run into danger's mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fallen:
From whom could else a general cry be heard?
Manoa: A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Chorus: I see one hither speeding—
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.
Messenger: O, whither shall I run, or which way fly?
The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold?
Manoa: The accident was loud, and here before thee
With rueful cry; yet what it was we know not.
Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.
Messenger: Gaza yet stands; but all her sons are fallen,
All in a moment overwhelmed and fallen.
Manoa: Sad! but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest
The desolation of a hostile city.
Messenger: Feed on that first; there may in grief be surfeit.
Manoa: Relate by whom.
Messenger: By Samson.
Manoa: That still lessens
The sorrow and converts it nigh to joy.
Messenger: Ah! Manoa, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon,
Lest evil tidings, with too rude eruption
Hitting thy aged ear, should pierce too deep.
Manoa: Suspense in news is torture; speak them out.
Messenger: Then take the worst in brief—Samson is dead.
Manoa: The worst indeed! O, all my hope's defeated
To free him hence! but Death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
How died he?—death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell, thou say'st; by whom fell he?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?
Messenger: Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Manoa: Wearied with slaughter, then, or how? Explain.
Messenger: By his own hands.
Manoa: Self-violence! What cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes?
Messenger: Inevitable cause—
At once both to destroy and be destroyed.
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pulled.
The building was a spacious theatre,
Half round on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the lords, and each degree
Of sort, might sit in order to behold.
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their state livery clad.
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamoring their god with praise,
Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient, but undaunted, where they led him,
Came to the place; and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye might be assayed,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still performed
All with incredible, stupendous force,
None daring to appear antagonist
At length, for intermission sake, they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested,
[Pg 360] As over-tired, to let him lean awhile
With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He unsuspicious led him; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head awhile inclined,
And eyes fast fixed, he stood, as one who prayed,
Or some great matter in his mind revolved.
At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud,
"Hitherto, lords, what your commands imposed
I have performed, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld;
Now, of my own accord, such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength yet greater
As with amaze shall strike all who behold."
This uttered, straightening all his nerves, he bowed.
As with the force of winds and waters pent
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsions to and fro
He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this, but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnise this feast.
Samson, with these immixed, inevitably
Pulled down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scaped, who stood without.
Manoa: Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically hath finished
A life heroic.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise or blame; nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies.
I, with what speed the while
[Pg 361] Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend,
With silent obsequy and funeral train,
Home to his father's house. There will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel evergreen and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts enrolled
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valour and adventures high.
[AC] "Samson Agonistes" (that is, "Samson the Athlete, or Wrestler"), Milton's tragedy, cast in a classical mould, was composed after "Paradise Regained" was written, and after "Paradise Lost" was published. It was issued in 1671. No reader with knowledge can avoid associating the poem in a personal way with Milton, who, like Samson, was blind, living in the midst of enemies, and to some extent deserted; and, like him too, did not lose heart on behalf of the life's cause which, unlike Samson, he had never betrayed. As becomes a drama, it has more vigorously sustained movement than any of Milton's works. The familiar story is skilfully developed and relieved, and the formality of the style does not detract from the pity and beauty, while it adds to the dignity of the work.
Martine, Sganarelle's wife
Jacqueline, Lucas's wife, and nurse at M. Géronte's
Lucinde, Géronte's daughter
Léandre, her lover
Valère, Géronte's attendant
Just when the day has been fixed for the marriage of Lucinde, daughter of M. Géronte, she suddenly becomes dumb, and no doctors are found skillful enough to cure her. One day Valère, M. Géronte's attendant, and Lucas, the nurse, are scouring the country in search of someone able to restore their young mistress's speech, when they fell in with Martine, the wife of Sganarelle, a bibulous faggot-binder. Sganarelle, who has served a famous doctor for ten years, has just been beating his wife, and she, in revenge, hearing the kind of person they are looking for, strongly recommends her husband to them as an eccentric doctor who has performed wonderful and almost incredible cures, but who always disclaims his profession, and will never practice it until he has been well cudgelled. Lucas and Valère accordingly go in quest of Sganarelle, and, having found him, express their desire of availing themselves of his services as doctor. At first the faggot-binder vehemently denies that he is a doctor, but at last—thanks to the use of the persuasion recommended by Martine—he confesses to a knowledge of the physician's art, is induced to undertake the cure of Mlle. Lucinde, and, on being introduced at M. Géronte's house, gives proof of his eccentricity as a doctor by cudgelling the master and embracing the nurse.
[Enter Lucinde, Valère, Géronte, Lucas, Sganarelle, and Jacqueline.
Sganarelle: Is this the patient?
Géronte: Yes. I have but one daughter; I should feel inexpressible grief were she to die.
Sganarelle: Don't let her do anything of the kind. She must not die without a doctor's prescription.
Géronte: You have made her laugh, monsieur.
Sganarelle: It is the best symptom in the world when the doctor makes his patient laugh. What sort of pain do you feel?
Lucinde (replies by signs, putting her hand to her mouth, to her head, and under her chin): Ha, hi, ho, ha!
Sganarelle (imitating her): Ha, hi, ho, ha! I don't understand you.
Géronte: That is what her complaint is, monsieur. She became dumb, without our being able to find out the cause. It is this accident which has made us put off the marriage. The man she is going to marry wishes to wait till she gets better.
Sganarelle: Who is the fool that does not want his wife to be dumb? Would to heaven that mine had that complaint! I would take good care she did not recover her speech.
Géronte: Well, monsieur, I beg of you to take all possible pains to cure her of this illness.
Sganarelle (to the patient): Let me feel your pulse. This tells me your daughter is dumb.
Géronte: Yes, monsieur, that is just what her illness is; you have found it out the very first time.
Sganarelle: We great doctors, we know things at once. An ignorant person would have been puzzled, and would have said to you: "It is this, it is that." But I was right the very first time. I tell you your daughter is dumb.
Géronte: But I should be very pleased if you could tell me how this happened.
Sganarelle: It is because she has lost her speech.
Géronte: But, please, what was the cause of the loss of speech?
Sganarelle: All our best authorities will tell you that it is an impediment in the action of her tongue.
Géronte: But, nevertheless, let us have your opinion on this impediment in the action of her tongue.
Sganarelle: I hold that this impediment in the action of her tongue is caused by certain humours, which among us learned men are called peccant humours. For as the vapours formed by the exhalations of the influences which arise in the region of complaints, coming—so to speak—to—Do you know Latin?
Géronte: In no sort of way.
Sganarelle (rising in astonishment): You don't know Latin?
Sganarelle (assuming various amusing attitudes): [Pg 365] Singulariter, nominativo hæc musa, "the muse," bonus, bona, bonum, Deus sanctus, estne oratio latenas? Quare? "Why?" Luia substantivo et adjectivum concordat in generi, numerum, et casus.
Géronte: Oh! Why did I not study?
Jacqueline: What a clever man he is!
Sganarelle: Thus these vapours of which I speak passing from the left side, where the liver is, to the right side where the heart is, it happens that the lungs, which we call in Latin armyan, having communication with the brain, which in Greek we name nasmus, by means of the vena cava, which we call in Hebrew cubile, in their way meet the said vapours, which fill the ventricles of the omoplata; and as the said vapours—be sure you understand this argument, I beg you—and as these said vapours have a certain malignancy—listen carefully to this, I pray you.
Sganarelle: Are gifted with a certain malignancy which is caused—please pay attention——
Géronte: I am doing so.
Sganarelle: Which is caused by the acridity of the humour engendered in the concavity of the diaphragm, it happens that these vapours—Ossabundus, nequezs, nequer, potarinum, quipsa milus. That is just what makes your daughter dumb.
Géronte: No one, doubtless, could argue better. There is but one thing that puzzles me. It seems to me that you place the heart and liver differently from where they are; the heart is on the left side, and the liver on the right.
Sganarelle: Yes, that was so formerly; but we have changed all that, and nowadays we practise medicine by an entirely new method.
Géronte: I did not know that. I must ask you to pardon my ignorance.
Sganarelle: There is no harm done. You are not obliged to be as clever as we are.
Géronte: Certainly not. But what do you think, monsieur, ought to be done for this complaint?
Sganarelle: My advice is that she should be put to bed, and, for a remedy, you must see that she takes plenty of bread soaked in wine.
Géronte: Why so, monsieur?
Sganarelle: Because in bread and wine mixed together there is a sympathetic virtue which causes speech. Don't you know that they give nothing else to parrots, and that they learn to speak by being fed on this diet?
Géronte: That is true. What a great man you are! Quick, bring plenty of bread and wine.
Sganarelle: I shall come back at night to see how she is getting on.
Géronte: Just wait a moment, please.
Sganarelle: What do you want?
Géronte: To give you your fee, monsieur.
Sganarelle (holding out his hand from under his gown, while Géronte opens his purse): I shall not take it, monsieur.
Géronte: I beseech you.
Sganarelle: You are jesting.
Géronte: That is settled.
Sganarelle: I will not.
Sganarelle: I don't practise for money.
Géronte: I am sure you don't.
Sganarelle (after having taken the money): Is it good weight?
Géronte: Yes, monsieur.
Sganarelle: I am not a mercenary doctor.
Géronte: I know that.
Sganarelle: Self-interest is not my motive.
Géronte: I never for a moment thought it was.
Léandre, between whom and Lucinde a mutual attachment subsists, has an interview with Sganarelle, at which he implores the latter's assistance to obtain a meeting with his mistress, and tells him that her dumbness is a mere trick—a sham illness which she has feigned to free herself from a distasteful marriage into which her father wants to hurry her. In consideration of a purse of gold which Léandre gives him, Sganarelle introduces the young lover into M. Géronte's house as his apothecary, and when Léandre asks whether it is not necessary to know five or six long medical words with which to lard his conversation, ridicules the notion, and says that a medical dress is quite sufficient disguise. "I am resolved to stick to physic all my life," says Sganarelle. "I find that it is the best line of all; for whatever we do, right or wrong, we are paid, all the same. Blunders make no odds to us; we cut away the material we have to work with as we choose. A shoemaker, in making a pair of shoes, cannot spoil a scrap of leather without having to pay for it; but in this business we can spoil a man without its costing us a cent. The mistakes are never put down to our account; it is always the fault of the fellow who dies."
[Enter Jacqueline, Lucinde, Géronte, Léandre and Sganarelle.
Jacqueline: Here's your daughter, monsieur. She
wishes to walk a bit.
Sganarelle: It will do her good. Go to her, Mr.
Apothecary, and feel her pulse, and I will consult with
you presently about her malady. (At this point he draws
Géronte to one side of the stage, puts one arm on his
shoulders, places his hand under his chin, and makes him
turn towards him, whenever Géronte wants to see what
is going on between his daughter and the apothecary,
while he holds the following discourse with him to keep
his attention:) Monsieur, it is a great and subtle question
among doctors whether women are easier to cure
than men. I beg you please listen to this. Some say
"no," some say "yes." I say both "yes" and "no";
for as the incongruity of the opaque humours which are
found in the natural temperament of women causes the
[Pg 368] animal side always to struggle for mastery over the
spiritual, we find that the inequality of their opinions
depends on the oblique motion of the circle of the moon;
and as the sun——
Lucinde: NO, I can never change my feelings.
Géronte: Hark! My daughter speaks! O the great virtue of physic! How deeply am I indebted to you, monsieur, for this marvellous cure!
Sganarelle (walking about the stage, wiping his forehead): It is a complaint that has given me much trouble.
Lucinde: Yes, father, I have recovered my speech; but I have recovered it only to tell you that I will never have any other husband than Léandre.
Lucinde: Nothing will shake the resolution I have taken.
Lucinde: All your excellent reasons will be in vain.
Lucinde: All your talk will have no effect.
Lucinde: It is a subject on which I am quite determined.
Lucinde: No paternal power can force me to marry against my will.
Géronte: I have——
Lucinde: You can make every effort you like.
Lucinde: My heart cannot submit to such a tyranny.
Lucinde: And I will sooner throw myself into a convent than marry a man I don't love.
Lucinde (speaking in deafening tone of voice): It is no use. You waste your time. I will not do anything of the kind. I am resolved.
Géronte: Ah! What a wildness of speech! I beg you, monsieur, to make her dumb again.
Sganarelle: That is impossible. All that I can do for you is to make you deaf, if you like.
Géronte: You shall marry Horace this very evening.
Lucinde: I will sooner marry death.
Sganarelle: Let me take this disease in hand. It is a complaint that has got hold of her, and I know the remedy to apply.
Géronte: Is it possible that you can cure this mental malady also?
Sganarelle: Yes; let me manage it. I have remedies for everything, and our apothecary is the man for this cure. (He calls the apothecary, and speaks to him.) You see that the passion she has for this Léandre is quite against the wishes of her father, and that it is necessary to find a prompt remedy for the evil, which will only become worse by delay. For my part, I see but one remedy, a dose of purgative flight suitably mixed with two drachms of matrimony in pills. Go and take a little turn in the garden with her to prepare the humours, while I talk here with her father; but, above all, lose no time. Apply the remedy at once—apply the specific remedy.
[Exeunt Léandre and Lucinde. Enter Lucas and Martine.
Lucas: Your daughter has run away with Léandre. He was the apothecary, and this is the doctor who has performed the operation.
Géronte: Quick, fetch the police, and prevent him from going off! Oh, traitor, I will have you punished by law.
Lucas: You shall hang for this, doctor! Don't stir a
step from here!
[Re-enter Léandre and Lucinde.
Léandre: Monsieur, I appear before you as Léandre, [Pg 370] and to restore Lucinde to your authority. We intended to go off and to get married, but this undertaking has given place to a more honourable proceeding. It is only from your hands that I will receive Lucinde. I have to tell you, monsieur, that I have just received letters from which I learn that my uncle is dead, and that I am the heir to all his property.
Géronte: Monsieur, your virtue merits every consideration, and I give you my daughter with the greatest pleasure in the world.
Sganarelle: Physic has had a narrow escape.
Martine: Since you are not going to be hanged, you may thank me for making you a doctor. It was I who gained you that honour.
Sganarelle: I forgive you the beating because of the dignity to which you have raised me, but be prepared henceforth to show great respect towards a man of my consequence; and remember that a doctor's anger is more to be feared than folk imagine.
(Molière: Continued in Vol. XVIII)
Printed in the United States of America
[AD] Molière, whose real name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin, the name Molière not having been assumed until he had commenced authorship, was born at Paris, January 15, 1622. Almost nothing is known of his early life, except that in his fourteenth year he was sent to the Jesuit Collège de Clermont, in Paris, and that later he studied law. In 1645 he suddenly appeared upon the stage as a member of a company of strolling players, and later, through the recommendation of influential friends, his company gained permission to act before the King. His comedies soon placed him in the front rank of French dramatists, and he is now regarded as perhaps the greatest of all comic dramatists. Of all the learned classes that fell under Molière's merciless lash, none came so completely as the profession of medicine. This is especially the case in "The Doctor in Spite of Himself" ("Lie Médecin Malgré Lui"), which appeared in June, 1666, and in which Molière himself played the role of Sganarelle.
The piece was originally acted with the "Misanthrope," but its immediate and pronounced success justified its being put on the bill alone. Both in conception and in motive the "Doctor" is frankly farcical, yet the lines abound in delicious satire, and on occasions melt from sheer buffoonery into graceful comedy. Molière died on February 17, 1673.