The Project Gutenberg EBook of Vondel's Lucifer, by Joost van den Vondel

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Title: Vondel's Lucifer

Author: Joost van den Vondel

Illustrator: John Aarts

Translator: Charles Leonard van Noppen

Release Date: October 7, 2011 [EBook #37659]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Andrea Ball & Marc D'Hooghe at (From images generously made
available by the Internet Archive)







Greensboro, North Carolina
Portrait of Vondel Vondel.

Dedicated by permission

To the

Holland Society of New Vork

Which has ever shown a great interest in the

achievements of the heroic race to which

it proudly traces its origin


To my brother

Charles Leonard van Noppen

Whose inspiring love and self-sacrificing

devotion have made this effort



Translator's Preface
Introduction Dr. W.H. Carpenter
Vondel and His Lucifer Dr. G. Kalff
Vondel: His Life and Times. A Sketch. Translator
The "Lucifer." An Interpretation. Translator

Vondel's Dedication
On His Majesty's Portrait
Vondel's Foreword
The Argument
Dramatis Personæ
Act I. The Peaceful Joys of Paradise
Act II. The Cloud of Conspiracy
Act III. The Gathering Gloom
Act IV. The Seething Seas of Sedition
Act V. Flood and Flame

The Critical Cult
The American Press
From Signed Reviews
The London Press

Letter from the Board of the Queen Wilhelmina Lectureship.

Parallelisms between Vondel and Milton.


Portrait of Vondel Frontispiece
The Falling Morning Star
Apollion's Meeting with Belzebub and Belial
Adam and Eve in Paradise before the Fall
Chorus of Angels
The Exaltation of Man
Gabriel, the Herald and Interpreter of Heaven
The Sorrowing Angels
Michael, God's Field-marshal
The Disaffected Spirits
Rafael Pleading with Lucifer
The Battle in the Heavens
Our First Parents after the Fall
The Rebels in Hell

Translator's Preface.

It is with a feeling of diffidence that I offer to American readers this the first English version of that unknown Titan, Vondel, a poet of whom Southey's words on Bilderdÿk, another Dutch bard, might also have been spoken:

"The language of a state
Inferior in illustrious deeds to none,
But circumscribed by narrow bounds,...
Hath pent within its sphere a name wherewith
Europe should else have rung from side to side."

This translation of the "Lucifer" is the result of years of careful study, and I may therefore be pardoned for calling it a conscientious effort. My object has been to give merely a literal but sympathetic rendering. It has been my aim to preserve the old poet in all his rugged simplicity, for every syllable of this classic has been hallowed by centuries. It is sacred, and every change is but a desecration.

Sacred as is the body of such a poem, yet how much holier is its spirit—the elusive properties of its soul! But how seldom does the translation of a great classic prove other than the breaking of the chalice and the spilling of the wine! Yet if but some faint aroma of its original beauty linger around the fragment of this offering—this version of Vondel's grand drama—I lay down my pen content.

I am aware that less accuracy and a greater freedom might in many places have produced a more ornate and highly finished rendering; but this, it seems to me, would have weakened a poem—a poem whose chief merit is its remarkable virility. Every word in a translation of a classic, not in the original, is but the alloy that lessens the proportion of true gold in the coin of its worth. Felicitous paraphrasing is often only a confession of inability to translate an author into the true terms of poetical equation. Mere prettinesses are surely not to be expected in a poem so sublime and stately. I have therefore followed the text of the original very closely.

The body of the drama was written by Vondel in rimed Alexandrines. This part of the play I have rendered into blank verse—a metrical form far better suited to the English drama, and also more adapted to the genius of our language. It is obvious, too, that this admits of much greater accuracy in the translation.

I have, however, scrupulously adhered to the original metres of all the choruses—most of them very involved and intricate, some modelled after the antique—even to preserving the feminine and interior rimes; for the utility and beauty of the chorus is in its music, and the music consists in both metre and rime. I have also generally followed Vondel's capitalization and punctuation, and his spelling of the names of the characters, as Belzebub, Rafael, Apollion, etc.

With the much discussed question of Milton's indebtedness to Vondel this effort has nothing to do. I mention this merely to show that this version was not made that it might be adduced as proof of Vondel's influence on his great English contemporary. It has a much higher reason to commend it; namely, the intrinsic value of the original as a poem and as a national masterpiece. My desire has been to give Vondel; and Vondel is a sufficient justification.

At the same time, I was not displeased when I received a letter from a distinguished American scholar, stating that this translation also incidentally fills a wide gap in the Miltonic criticism, and that it thus supplies a great desideratum.

With this version of Vondel's masterpiece I have also been asked to give a sketch of the poet and his time, and an interpretation of the drama, since there is so little in English on the subject.

In writing the former, I found much of value in Mr. Gosse's charming essays on Vondel, in his "Northern Studies." I must also acknowledge my great obligations to Dr. Kalff's "Life of Vondel."

Before closing I wish to thank the poets and scholars of the Netherlands for their encouragement. Their kind reception of my effort was a gratifying surprise to me.

I must also take this opportunity to record the kindness of that eminent scholar, Dr. G. Kalff, Professor of Dutch Literature in the University of Utrecht, who, though overwhelmed with professional duties, with the most painstaking care examined every part of my translation, giving me, furthermore, the benefit of his critical observations. The brilliant article on Vondel and his "Lucifer," with which he has favored this volume, is an added reason for my gratitude.

I also thank Dr. W.H. Carpenter of Columbia University for his kind interest in my work, and for his invaluable introduction.

And, finally, to my friends, Prof. Henry Jerome Stockard, the Southern poet; Dr. Thomas Hume, Professor of English Literature in the University of North Carolina; and Dr. C. Alphonso Smith, Professor of English in the University of Louisiana, I also express my thanks for some excellent suggestions.


Vondel's Lucifer in English.

It has become a matter of literary tradition, in Holland and out of it, that the choral drama of "Lucifer" is the great masterpiece of Dutch literature. The Dutch critics, however, are by no manner of means unanimous in this opinion. In point of fact, it has been assigned by some a place relatively subordinate among the works of this "Dutch Shakespeare," as they are fond of calling Vondel at home. No other one, however, in the long list of his dramas and poems, from the "Pascha" of 1612 to his last translations of 1671, the beginning and the end of a literary career, in which one of the greatest of Dutch writers on its history has pronounced the poetry of the Netherlands to have attained its zenith, will, none the less, so strongly appeal to us, outside of Holland, as does the "Lucifer." Vondel's tragedy "Gysbreght van Amstel" may have found far greater favor as a drama, and the poet may possibly in his lyrics have risen to his greatest height; but neither the one nor the other, in spite of this, can have such supreme claims upon our attention.

Why this is so is dependent upon a variety of reasons. It is not solely on account of the lofty character of the subject, nor because we have an almost identical one in a great poem in English literature, between which and the "Lucifer" there is a more than generic resemblance. The question of Milton's indebtedness to Vondel is no longer to be considered an open one, and has resolved itself into an inquiry simply as to the amount of the influence exerted. This is an interesting phase of the matter, and, since it involves one of our great classics, an important one. The two poems, nevertheless, however great this influence may be shown to be, are by no manner of means alike in detail, and one main source of interest to us, to whom "Paradise Lost" is a heritage, is undoubtedly to compare the treatment of such a subject by two great poets of different nationalities. The paramount reason, however, why the "Lucifer" should appeal to us is because it is, in reality, one of the great poems of the world; because of its inherent worth, its seriousness of purpose, the sublimity of its fundamental conceptions, its whole loftiness of tone. When the critics praise others of Vondel's works for excellences not shared by the "Lucifer," they extol him immeasurably, for there is enough in this poem alone to have made its author immortal.

It is a matter of surprise that down to the present time there has been no English translation of "Lucifer," although, after all, its neglect is but a part of the general indifference among us to the literature of Holland in all periods of its history. Why this should be so is not quite apparent; for wholly apart from the important question of action and reaction as a constituent part of the world's literature, the literature of Holland has in it, in almost every phase of its development, sublimities and beauties of its own which surely could not always remain hidden. An era of translation was sure to set in, and it is a matter of significance that its herald has even now appeared.

That the first considerable translation of any Dutch poet into English should be Vondel, and that the particular work rendered should be the "Lucifer," is, from the preëminent place of writer and poem in the literature of the Netherlands, altogether apt.

It is particularly fitting, however, that such an English translation, both because it is first and because it is Vondel, should be put forth, beyond all other places, from this old Dutch city of New York. There is surely more than a passing interest in the thought that, at the time of the appearance of Vondel's "Lucifer" in old Amsterdam, in 1654, its reading public was in part New Amsterdam, as well. Whether any copy of the book ever actually found its way over to the New Netherlands is a matter that it is hardly possible now to determine; but that it might have been read in the vernacular as readily here as at home is a fact of history. Only two years after the publication of the "Lucifer," that is in 1656, Van der Donck, as his title page states, "at the time in New Netherland," printed his "Beschryvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant," in which occurs the familiar picture of "Nieuw Amsterdam op 't Eylant Manhattans," with its fort, and flagstaff, and windmill, its long row of little Dutch houses, and its gibbet well in the foreground as an unmistakable symbol of law and order.

Strikingly enough, too, during the lifetime of Vondel we were making our own contributions to Dutch literature; modest they certainly may have been, but real none the less. Jacob Steendam, the first poet of New York, wrote here at least one of his poems, the "Klagt van Nieuw-Amsterdam," printed in Holland in 1659, and from this same period are the occasional verses of those other Dutch poets, Henricus Selyns, the first settled minister of Brooklyn, and of Nicasius de Sille, first colonial Councillor of State under Governor Stuyvesant. Steendam, after he had returned from these shores to the Fatherland, is still a New Netherlander in spirit, for he continued to sing in vigorous, if homely, verses of the land he had left, which in his long poems, "'T Lof van Nieuw-Nederland," and "Prickel-Vaersen" he paints in glowing colors:

Nieuw-Nederland, gy edelste Gewest
Daar d'Opperheer (op 't heerlijkst) heeft gevest
De Volheyt van zijn gaven: alder-best
In alle Leden.

Dit is het Land, daar Melk en Honig vloeyd:
Dit is't geweest, daar't Kruyd (als dist'len) groeyd:
Dit is de Plaats, daar Arons-Roede bloeyd:
Dit is het Eden.

A translation of Vondel, from what has been said, is, accordingly, in a certain sense, a rehabilitation, a restoration to a former status that through the exigency of events has been lost. While this may be considered from some points of view but a curiosity of coincidence, it is in reality, as has been assumed, much more than that: it is a pertinent reminder of our historical beginnings, a harking back to the century that saw our birth as a province and as a city, to the mother country and to the mother tongue.

Of the literature of Holland, from the lack of opportunity, we know far too little. The translation into English of Vondel's "Lucifer" is not only in and for itself an event of more than ordinary importance in literary history, but it cannot fail to awaken among us a curiosity as to what else of supreme value maybe contained in Dutch literature, and thereby, in effect, form a veritable "open sesame" to unlock its hidden treasures.


Professor of Germanic Philology,
Columbia University, New York.

NEW YORK, April 4, 1898.

Introduction: Dr. Kalff.

When Vondel, in 1653, finished his "Lucifer," he stood, notwithstanding his sixty-six laborious years, with undiminished vigor upon one of the loftiest peaks in his towering career.

A long road lay behind him, in some places rough and steep, though ever tending upwards. What had he not experienced, what had he not endured since that day in 1605 when he contributed a few faulty strophes to a wedding feast—the first product of his art of which we have any knowledge!

After a long and wearisome war, full of brilliant feats of arms, his countrymen had, at length, closed a treaty full of glory to themselves with their powerful and superior adversary. The Republic of the United Netherlands had taken her place among the great powers of the earth. In the East and in the West floated the flag of Holland. Over far-distant seas glided the shadows of Dutch ships, en route to other lands, bearing supplies to satisfy their needs, or speeding homewards freighted with riches.

Prince Maurice was dead. Frederic Henry and William II. had come and gone. De Witt, however, guided the helm of the ship of state; and as long as De Ruyter stood on the quarter-deck of his invincible "Seven Provinces" no reason existed to inspire an Englishman with a "Rule Britannia."

Knowledge soared on daring wings. Art reigned triumphant. The Stadhuis at Amsterdam was nearing completion. Rembrandt's "Night Patrol" already hung in the great hall of the Arquebusiers, and his "Syndics of the Cloth Merchants" was soon to be begun.

Fulness of life, growth of power, and the extension of boundaries were everywhere apparent. The life of the period is like an impressive pageant: in front, proud cavaliers, in high saddles, on their prancing steeds, with splendid colors and dazzling weapons, while silk banners gorgeously embroidered are waving aloft; in the rear, beautiful triumphal chariots and picturesque groups; around stands a clamorous multitude that for one moment forgets its cares in the glow of that splendor, though often only kept in restraint with difficulty.

In the midst of this busy, murmurous scene, Vondel with steady feet pursued his own way; often, indeed, lending his ear to the voices with which the air reverberated, or feasting his eyes upon color and form; often, too, lifting his voice for attack or defence; though still more often with averted glance, and lost in meditation, listening to the voice within.

Life had not left him untried. In many a contest, especially in his struggles against the Calvinistic clergy, he had strengthened his belief on many a doubtful point, developed his powers, and sharpened his understanding.

He had lost two lovely children; his tenderly beloved wife, who lived for him, had left him alone; his conversion to Catholicism had cost him much internal strife, and had brought with it the loss of former friends; his oldest son, Joost, had plunged him into financial difficulties, which resulted in ruin: yet beneath all this his sturdy strength did not fail him.

The fire of his spirit, not suppressed or smothered by the piled-up fuel of early learning, but constantly and richly fed with that which was best, burned with a fierce flame, ever hungry for new food. Treasures of art and knowledge he had gathered, even as the honey-bee culls her store out of all meadows and flowers; for towards art and knowledge his heart ever inclined—towards those muses of whom, in his "Birthday Clock of William Van Nassau," he said:

"For whom all life I love; and without whom, ah me!
The glorious majesty of sun I could not gladly see."

In an awe-inspiring number of long and short poems, he had, since those first lame verses, developed his art; he had taught his understanding to make use of life-like forms in the construction of his dramas; his feelings he had made deeper and more refined; his taste he had ennobled; his self-restraint he had increased; his technique he had made perfect.

Did his Bible remain the fount from which he preferred to draw the material for his dramas, he also gladly borrowed his motifs from the past of classical antiquity, and from the every-day Netherland life around him. His own fiery belief and deep convictions, and irrepressible desire to give vent to them, caused the person of the poet to be seen more clearly in his characters than we observe to be the case in the productions of his masters, the classic tragedians.

"Palamedes" is a tempestuous defence of the great statesman Oldenbarneveldt—a defence full of intemperate passion, bitter reproach, and burning satire. How fiercely glows there, in each word, in each answer, in transparent allusion and in scornful irony, the fire of party spirit! How often, too, do we there hear the voice of the poet himself, as it trembles with tender sympathy or with lofty indignation!

"Gÿsbrecht van Amstel," a subject dearer to the burghers of Amsterdam than most others, is illuminated with the soft glimmer of altar-candles mingled with airy incense. That same light, that same perfume, we also perceive in "Maeghden," "Peter en Pauwels," and "Maria Stuart."

The Christ-like, humble thankfulness of a Dutch burgher falls upon our ears in the "Leeuwendalers," that charming pastoral, in which the wanton play of whistling pipe and reed is constantly relieved by the silvery pure tones of ringing peace-bells.

Does the history of the development of the Vondelian drama teach us more about the man Vondel, it also most clearly shows us the evolution of the artist. Especially after his translation of "Hippolytus" he had weaned himself from the style of Seneca. More and more he became filled with the grandeur of the Greek tragedians, Sophocles and Euripides above all others. Æschylus he had not yet made his own; that hour was not yet come.

In "Gÿsbrecht van Amstel" we feel, for the first time, that Vondel acknowledges the Greeks as his masters, that he strives to follow them in their sublime simplicity; in their naturalness, that never degenerates to the gross; in their freedom of movement, so different from the stiffness of the school of Seneca; in the exquisitely delicate manner in which the lyric is introduced into the drama. In "Joseph in Dothan," "Leeuwendalers," and "Salomon," we behold the poet pursuing the same path, and here the influence of the Greeks is still more perceptible.

We have attempted in a few rapid strokes to give a brief outline of the time in which the tragedy "Lucifer" had its origin, and also of the man, the poet, who created it.

When Vondel first conceived the plan of writing this tragedy is not known. However, it is well known that this subject had early made an impression upon him. In the collection of prints entitled "Gulden Winkel" (1613), for which Vondel wrote the accompanying mottoes, we already find the Archangel whom God had doomed to the pit of hell. In the "Brieven der Heilige Maeghden" (1642), and in "Henriette Marie t'Amsterdam" (1642), we also find mention of the revolt of the Archangel. In the first-named work the strife between Michael and Lucifer, with their legions, is already seen in prototype. About 1650 he had undoubtedly resolved upon a plan to expand this subject into a tragedy.

Was the fallen Archangel for a long period thus ever present to the poet's eye? Did that subject so enthrall him that, at last, he could no longer resist the impelling desire to picture it after his own fashion? For the causes of this interest we shall not have far to seek.

The seventeenth century was, more than almost any other, the age of authority, and "Lucifer" is the tragedy of the individual in his revolt against authority. Vondel, the Catholic Christian, to whom the ruling power was holy—holy because it came from God; Vondel, the Amsterdam burgher, reared in the fear of the Lord, and full of reverence for those in authority as long as his conscience approved; Vondel must thus have been deeply impressed by the thought of the presumptuous attempt of the Stadholder of God, "the fairest far of all things ever by God created," in his revolt against the "Creator of his glory." Out of this deep agitation this tragedy was born.

Only a genius such as that of Vondel or Milton could bring itself to undertake so dubious a task—out of such material to create a poem; only the highest genius could succeed in such gigantic attempt. Only such a poet can translate us on the mighty wings of his imagination into the portals of heaven; can present to us angels that at the same time are so human that we can put ourselves in their place, but who, nevertheless, remain for us a higher order of beings; can dare to bring into a drama a representation of God, without offending His majesty.

With chaste taste the poet has only rapidly sketched the scene of the drama; by means of a few suggestive strokes, awaking in reader and hearer a sympathetic conception: an illimitable spaciousness radiant with light; an eternal sunshine, more beautiful than that of earth, mirroring itself in the blue crystalline, above which hover hosts of celestial angels; here and there in the background, the dazzling pediments, towers, and battlements of ethereal palaces; far away, upon the heights beyond, the golden port, from which God's "Herald of Mysteries" came down into view. The earth lies immeasurably far below; high, high above, "So deep in boundless realms of light," God reigns upon His throne.

In that endless vast live and move the inhabitants of Heaven in tranquil enjoyment. "Grief never nestled 'neath those joyful eaves" until the creation of man. Pride and envy now awake in the breasts of the angels, and their suffering begins.

Lucifer's passionate pride, which in its outbursts occasionally reminds us of the heroes of Seneca; his dissimulation in the conversation with the rebellious angels; his wretchedness when Rafael has opened his eyes to an appreciation of his position; his obstinate resistance and untamed defiance—all this Vondel has portrayed for us in a masterly manner. Belzebub, more than Lucifer, is the real genius of evil, the wicked one. He is this in his inclination towards subtle mockery and sarcasm; in his hypocrisy; in his wily use of Lucifer's weakness to incite him to destruction; in the art with which he, while himself behind the curtain, directs the course of events.

After the grand overture of the drama, wherein men and angels are placed over against one another, we see how, in the second act, Lucifer comes on the scene, mounted on his battle chariot, excited, embittered; and then the action develops itself in a remarkably even manner. The clouds roll together; more threateningly, more heavily they impend; the light that glows from the towers and battlements of Heaven grows tarnished; the seditious angels gradually lose their lustre; the thunder approaches with dull rumblings; one moment it is stayed, even at the point of outbursting, where Rafael, "oppressed and wan," throws himself appealingly on Lucifer's neck; then it precipitates itself in a terrible storm of strife between desperate rage and the powers above. The fall of man is the sombre afterpiece of this intensely interesting drama.

All of this is discussed in verses that know not their equal in nobility of sound, in fulness and purity of tone, in rapidity of change from tenderness to strength, in wealth of coloring.

Through its opulence and beauty this tragedy holds a unique place in our literature. Only "Adam in Ballingschap" can be placed beside it. Only Vondel can with Vondel be compared. If, however, one should compare this production with the best that has been produced in this kind of poetry by other nations, its splendor remains undimmed; beside the masterpieces of Æschylus, Dante, and Milton, Vondel's maintain an equal place.

To this tragedy and to other works of Vondel and of some of our other poets we proudly point, if strangers ask us in regard to our right to a place in the world's literature. It could, therefore, not be otherwise than that a Netherlander who loves his countrymen should be glad when the bar between his literature and that of the outside world is raised; when other nations are furnished occasion to admire one of our national treasures, and are thereby enabled to have a better knowledge of the character and the significance of our people.

We heartily rejoice over the fact that Vondel's drama has been translated into English by an American for Americans, with whom we Netherlanders have from time immemorial been on a friendly footing. We rejoice, too, that this rendering into a language which is more of a world tongue than our own will also give to Englishmen an opportunity to enjoy Vondel's work.

Were this translation an inferior one, or were it only mediocre, we should have no reason to be glad. Then, surely, it were better that the translation had never been made; for to be unknown is better than to be misknown.

But in this case it is otherwise. Although no translation can entirely compensate for the lack of the original, it is, however, possible for the original to be followed very closely. This is well shown by this rendering, which to a high degree possesses the merit of accuracy, while, at the same time, the spirit and the character of Vondel's tragedy are felt, understood, and interpreted in a remarkable manner.

Whoever is in a position, by the comparison of the translation with the original, to form an individual opinion of Van Noppen's work, will probably be convinced, even as I have been, that here an extraordinarily difficult task has been magnificently done. May this translation, therefore, aid in the spreading of Vondel's fame. May it also be followed by many another equally admirable rendering of the poetry and prose of the Netherlands, and may thereby, furthermore, the bond be drawn more closely between America and that land which at one time possessed the opportunity to be the mother-country.


Professor of Dutch Literature,
University of Utrecht.

UTRECHT, HOLLAND, October 10, 1897.


His Life and Times.

"Vondel! thousand thousand voices
Echo answer—grandly sing
Praises to our greatest poet,
Hailing him the poets' king."
Dr. Schaepman.


"Yes, truly, it is a great thing for a nation that it get an articulate voice—that it produce a man who will speak forth melodiously what the heart of it means."

Profounder truth, that keen aphorist, the Sage of Chelsea, never cast into heroic mould.

The consciousness of a great literature is a grander basis for national exaltation than the possession of victorious fleets and invincible battalions. The nation whose highest aspiration and most glorious impulse, whose noblest action and deepest thought, have been crystallized into fadeless beauty by the soul of native genius, has surely more lasting cause for pride than she whose proudest boast is a superiority in mere material achievement.

The everlasting shall always have precedence over the momentary; the time-serving heroics of to-day are the laughter-compelling travesties of to-morrow; the golden colossus of one age is the brazen pigmy of the next. Beauty alone is unfading; art alone is eternal.

"All passes: art alone
Enduring—stays to us;
The bust outlasts the throne;
The coin, Tiberius.

"Even the gods must go;
Only the lofty rime,
Not countless years o'erflow,
Not long array of time."

Happy the country blest with a heritage of noble deeds! Thrice happy she whose glory is a treasury of noble words! Only from great actions can gigantic thoughts be born.

Nowhere was the Revival of Learning more joyfully received than in the Netherlands. At the bidding of the Renaissance, the monasteries, those storehouses of the knowledge of the past, unlocked their precious lore. The classics were now for the first time conscientiously studied; not so much for themselves, as to shed the light of the past upon the present, to furnish suggestions for new discoveries.

Erasmus was but the pioneer of a host of scholars and philosophers. Thomas-à-Kempis was but the forerunner of a race of distinguished literati. The following generation also studied the moderns; and the wonderful genius of Italy, as well as the brilliant talent of France, now lighted up the dark recesses of the Cathedral of Gothic art.

The Reformation, like a tiny acorn, first pierced the rich mould of civil life. Then bursting into the sunshine, it towered into the sky of religious life an imperious oak. The dormant energies of the Low Germans were now kindled into a blaze of creative activity. As in Italy, this first revealed itself in the increased power of the cities, the Tradesmen's Guilds, the Chambers of Rhetoric, and the growing privileges of the citizens; for example, the burghers of Utrecht and of Amsterdam. It next manifested itself in the Universities and in the Church.

Hand in hand with this extraordinary intellectual development went the sturdy manliness of a vigorous national life. It was the era of enterprise and adventure; of invention and discovery. Daring was the spirit, attainment the achievement, of this age—this age that dared all.

Proud in the philosophy wrested from experience, the race sought to extend its intellectual empire even in the domain of transcendentalism. Knowledge, like Prometheus, bound for centuries to the gloomy cliff of superstition, suddenly rent its bonds and stood forth in all of its tremendous strength, gigantic and unshackled; a god, flaming to conquer the benighted realms of ignorance! Imagination, like a fire-plumed steed, preened for revelries, soared to the stars, and roamed unbridled through the boundless deep of space.

The world ran riot for truth. In England, Italy, France, and Spain, as well as in Holland, arose a race of explorers that gave to the earth another hemisphere, and discovered another solar system in the universe of thought.

The world called loud for blood. Truth was not to be attained without sacrifice; freedom was not to be won without battle. Universal struggle was to precede universal achievement. A whirlwind of death now swept over the earth, leaving in its wake carnage and disaster. The passions of men burst asunder the chains of duty and religion, and swooped on the nations with desolating rage.

The world was in travail. Hope was born, error vanquished, tyranny dethroned. The dawn of a new life had come. The night was over. The sparks of war became the seeds of art. The Netherland imagination was suddenly quickened into creative rapture by the contemplation of the heroism of the great Orange and the founders of the Republic.

A generation of fighters is always the precursor of an epoch of singers. The panegyrist and the historian ever follow in the train of the soldier and the statesman; the epic and the eulogy as surely in the path of great deeds as the polemic and the satire in the track of wickedness and folly.

The sculptor and the painter are evoked from obscurity only by the call of heroes. The musician and the poet—the voice of the ideal—stand ever ready to blazon forth the glory of the real. Unworthy actions alone are unsung.

The foundations of the Dutch Republic had been laid by a race of Cyclops, in whose battle-scarred forehead glowed the single eye of freedom. A race of Titans followed, and built upon this firm foundation a magnificent temple of art and science, above whose four golden portals were emblazoned, chiselled in "deathless diamond," the names, Vondel, Rembrandt, Grotius, and Spinoza, the high-priests of its worship.

It is of Vondel, the one articulate voice of Holland, whose heart ever kept time with the larger pulse of his nation, that we would now speak.


Justus van den Vondel was the son of Dutch parents, and was born at Cologne, November 17, 1587. It is curious to note that above the door of the house where the greatest bard of the Low Germans first saw the light hung the sign of a viol, a maker of that instrument having at one time lived there. The poet used to point to this fact as having been prophetic of his poetic future; and it was, surely, not an uninspiring coincidence.

The elder Vondel was a hatter, and had fled to Cologne from his native city, Antwerp, to escape the persecution then raging against the Anabaptists, of which church he was a zealous and devout member.

In Cologne he had courted and married Sarah Kranen, whose father, Peter Kranen, also an Anabaptist, had likewise been driven from Antwerp by the fury of the Romanists. Peter Kranen was not without reputation in his native city as a poet, and had won some distinction in the public contests of the literary guilds, of one of which he was a shining ornament. So it seems that our poet drank in the divine afflatus, as it were, with his mother's milk.

It is related that Kranen's wife, being pregnant, was unable to accompany her husband in his hurried flight; and, being left behind, was confined in the city prison, where her severe fright prematurely brought on the crisis. Being strongly importuned by a cousin of the young woman, who was required to furnish security for her re-appearance, the magistrates finally permitted her to complete her travail at her home.

After the birth of her child, when her cousin again delivered her, sorrowful and heavy at heart, into the custody of the jailer, he whispered comfortingly in her ear, "With this hand I have brought you here; but with the other I shall take you away again."

The time of her execution drew nigh. It was intended that she should be burnt at the stake with a certain preacher of her sect. When this became known, the cousin went to the dignitaries of the Church and asked if, in case one of her children be baptized by a Catholic priest, the mother would have a chance for her life. The clergy, ever anxious to welcome an addition to the fold, and more desirous to save a soul than to burn a body, replied that it might be so arranged.

One of the children, a daughter, who was already with the father at Cologne, was then hastily summoned. Upon her arrival, accordingly, she was baptized after the manner of the Catholic ritual, and received into the Church.

The mother, now free, hastened to the arms of her joyful spouse, and the daughter who thus saved her mother's life afterwards became the mother of Vondel.

So even Vondel's Romanism, of which much will be said farther on, might thus be considered as foreshadowed and inherited.

The year of Vondel's birth was also the year of the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, whose tragic end he was destined to celebrate. Shakespeare, the most illustrious poet of the hereditary enemies of Vondel's countrymen, was just twenty-three years old, and had already been married four years to Anne Hathaway. William the Silent, "the Father of his Country," had only three years before, in the flower of his age, been cut off by the red hand of the assassin.

The early childhood of the poet was spent at Cologne. He never forgot the town of his birth, and, after the manner of the poets of antiquity, sang its glories in many an eloquent rime.

After the storm of persecution had spent its fury, the Vondels slowly returned by way of Bremen and Frankfort to the Netherlands. They rode in a rustic wagon, across which were fastened two strong sticks. From these was suspended a cradle, in which lay their youngest child. This simplicity and their modest demeanor and unaffected piety so impressed the wagoner that he was heard to say: "It is just as if I were journeying with Joseph and Mary."

The family first stopped at Utrecht, where the young "Joost" went to school. His early education, however, was very meagre, ending with his tenth year; so that he whose attainments were afterwards the admiration of his scholarly contemporaries, and the wonder of posterity, commenced life with the most threadbare equipment of learning.

Surely the plastic imagination of the boy must have been wonderfully impressed by the grandeur of that gigantic Gothic pile, the Utrecht Cathedral, and its tremendous campanile, pointing like a huge index finger unerringly to God, and towering so sublimely above the beautiful old town and the fertile meadows all around!

In 1597 we find the family in Amsterdam, of which flourishing city the elder Vondel had recently become a citizen, and where he had opened a hosiery shop.

This business must have proved remunerative, as one of his younger children, his son William, afterwards studied law at Orleans, and then travelled to Rome, where he applied himself to theology and letters, a course of study which in that age, even more than to-day, must have been beyond the means of even the ordinary well-to-do citizen.

Though the subject of our sketch was not so fortunate in this respect as his younger brother, yet he made good use of his opportunities; and it is recorded that, even before he had reached his teens, his rimes attracted considerable attention among the friends of the family.

When only thirteen years old, we find his verses complimented as showing unusual promise. It was Peter Cornelius Hooft, the talented young poet, son of the burgomaster of the city, who was at that time pursuing a course of study in Italy, who incidentally made this passing reference in an interesting rimed epistle to the Chamber of the Eglantine at Amsterdam.

This Chamber was one of the literary guilds founded in imitation of the French Collèges de Rhétorique; and it played so important a part in the literary history of the city and in the life of our poet that we ask indulgence if an account of it cause what may seem a little digression.

Under the rule of the House of Burgundy, the French feeling for dramatic poetry had been introduced into the Netherlands. This was fostered, not only by the exhibitions of the travelling minstrels, but also by the impressive and often gorgeous Miracle and Mystery Plays of the clergy. In the wake of these followed the more artistic Morality Plays. These allegorical representations did much to create a purer taste and to waken a greater demand for the drama.

The people suddenly began to take unusual interest in declamation and in dramatic exhibitions; and Chambers of Rhetoric, for the indulgence of this new taste, were soon established in all of the prominent cities of the country.

These societies also began sedulously to cultivate rhetorica, or literature, and soon became nothing less than an association of literary guilds, bound together in a sort of social Hanseatic league, designed for their own defence and for the fostering of their beloved art.

Each was distinguished by some device, and usually bore the name of some flower. They were wont also to compete against each other in rhetorical contests called "land-jewels," to which they would march, costumed in glorious masquerade, and to the sound of pealing trumpets and of shrill, melodious airs.

As was natural, the follies of the Church were too tempting a subject for these Chambers to resist; and many of them, long before the thundering polemics of Luther were heard, had dramatized a stinging satire on the clergy, revealing their vices in all of their hideous coarseness, and making their follies the butt of their unsparing mockery.

When the Reformation, therefore, trumped her battle-cry, there throbbed a responsive echo in the hearts of the Netherlanders, long disgusted, as they were, with the excesses of a dissolute priesthood.

These societies, therefore, exerted no little influence on the social, religious, and intellectual life of the country, and became a powerful aid to the awakening of a national consciousness and to the up-building of the language and the literature.

Among them all, no other attained the distinction of the Chamber of the Eglantine at Amsterdam. This Chamber, whose device was "Blossoming in Love," was founded by Charles V., and to it belonged many of the most prominent citizens of that opulent city. All religious discussions were forbidden within its walls; and there, in that age of religious discord and rabid intolerance, both Catholic and Protestant met together in the worship of Apollo. It was to this honored body that the name of the young Vondel was introduced, and upon him, therefore, its members kept an attentive eye.

We next hear of Vondel as a youth of seventeen. He had, it seems, all the while been assisting his father in the cares of the little hosiery shop; but his mind was with his books, and he employed every spare moment in reading or in study.

About this period a friend of the family was married, and the young poet must needs try his wings. Accordingly, he wrote an epithalamium, which, unfortunately for the poet, still survives. As might have been expected, the too-aspiring youth soared on Icarian wings. However, he was not conscious of this at the time; and lame and faulty as these first efforts are, it may yet be surmised that he felt the thrill of inspiration and the rapture of creating no less than when, in later life, he forged those Olympian thunderbolts that fulmined over Holland, causing tyrants to shake and multitudes to tremble.

Soon after the wedding-verses, Vondel wrote a threnody on the assassination of Henry IV. of France, which was but little better than his former effort.

We hear no more of our young poet till, like the deer-stealing youth, Shakespeare, he stands, in his young and vigorous manhood, blushing at the altar. Maria de Wolff was the name of the bride that the twenty-three-year-old husband had won to share his destiny.

History does not record the circumstances nor the incidents of his wooing; but from what we know of his character, we will venture to say that it was ardently done.

Of the sonnets and the love-verses that this passion must have inspired in the soul of the young poet nothing, unfortunately, seems to be known. He who had, as a boy, written tolerable verses at the marriage of another must surely, as a man, have done something better at his own.

"All the world loves a lover," be he ever so humble. But the loves of the poets are of especial interest.

We therefore confess our disappointment that no record exists wherein we could see the poet in the sweet throes of that heart-consuming passion. But, for all that, we feel that he loved like a poet, and we know that his marriage proved to be a most happy one.

His wife was in full sympathy with his every thought and aspiration, and wisely left her star-gazing husband to write verses while she stayed behind the counter and sold stockings. She was the daughter of a prosperous linen-merchant of Cologne, and was fortunately of a practical turn of mind.

Thus, when Vondel succeeded to the business of his father, she took upon herself not only the management of the shop, but attended to the house-keeping as well.


In 1612 appeared Vondel's first drama, "The Passover." It was the first of that splendid series of Bible tragedies to which, in the field of the sacred drama, neither ancient nor modern times furnish a parallel. This play, which covertly celebrated the recent escape of the Hollanders from the yoke of Spain, was played in the Brabantian Chamber of the Lavender, to which Vondel, whose family came from Brabant, naturally belonged.

This poem showed the results of his years of study, and was far superior to his earlier efforts, indeed, it gave such promise that Vondel was immediately invited to become a member of the Chamber of the Eglantine, and thus at once stood on an equality with the most distinguished literati of the day.

Among these was Roemer Visscher, "the round Roemer," as he was known among his intimates. Visscher was celebrated for his epigrams, and was called "the Dutch Martial." He was a good type of the Dutch merchant of his time, and on account of his wit and jollity was very popular with the other members of the society.

With his friends Coornhert and Spieghel he had taken upon himself the serious task of purifying and enriching his native tongue.

And it is in the works of these three men, who at this time were all well advanced in years, that we first see the promise of a literature and the consciousness of a national destiny.

The stilted and artificial phraseology of the Rhetoricians was soon succeeded by a natural, flowing style. Originality once more asserted its right to a hearing. Nature was studied with enthusiastic contemplation. Art was once more set on her high pedestal and worshipped.

Visscher looked with a philosophic eye on the follies of the day, and his keenest epigrams were pointed with a honied humor that deprived them of their sharpest sting.

But it was more as a patron of letters than as a poet that he deserves to be remembered. At his house all of the young Bohemians of the day were wont to gather, and many the contests of wit and many the battles in verse that took place in this, the first literary salon of the Netherlands.

But there was another attraction at the house of this worthy burgher. The jovial Roemer had two daughters, the blooming but sober Anna and the beautiful and vivacious Tesselschade.

These young women, on account of their many personal charms and numerous accomplishments, furnished a glowing theme to a generation of poets. It is related that they could each play sweetly on several instruments, sing, paint, engrave on glass, cut emblems, embroider, and converse brilliantly.

They were by no means prigs, however, for they also excelled in healthful bodily exercise, as swimming, rowing, and skating; and they were no less discreet and modest than accomplished and refined. Nor must it be forgotten that they themselves also wrote verses full of sweetness and tenderness; verses, too, not without lofty and noble sentiment, that are yet treasured among the brightest gems in Holland's diadem of song.

It was into this charming patrician circle that our middle-class poet was now introduced, and he manfully continued his attempts to remedy the defects in his education, that he might meet the many talented and learned men who came there, on an equal footing.

Vondel was now twenty-six years old, and began to apply himself assiduously to the study of the languages. He took lessons in Latin from an Englishman, and through his great industry he was soon able to read Virgil and Ovid. He also began the study of French, and translated "The Glory of Solomon" of Du Bartas, which he considered a most admirable poem. About the same time he wrote his second tragedy, the "Jerusalem Desolate," which, on account of its severe simplicity and elevated style, was the theme of much favorable comment.

At the house of the Visschers, Vondel was wont to meet, on terms of easy comradery, among other rising young men of the day, the erratic but brilliant Gerard Brederoo, the greatest writer of comedies that Holland has ever produced.

Brederoo was the son of a poor shoemaker of Amsterdam, and on account of his extraordinary talents was eagerly welcomed into the most select circles.

Quite a contrast was the young aristocrat, Peter Cornelius Hooft, of whom we have already spoken. Hooft was a patrician of the patricians, and was the most accomplished and elegant man of his day, the first gentleman of his age.

He had already distinguished himself by several remarkable poems, a superb pastoral, and one or two powerful tragedies.

It was in the field of history and biography, however, that he was to win his greenest laurels. His history of the Netherlands and his biography of Henry IV. of France, written in a terse, forcible, epigrammatic style, have gained for him the appellation of the "Dutch Tacitus." Motley calls him one of the great historians of the world.

Then there was Jan Starter, the son of an English Brownist, who was destined to be one of the sweetest lyrists of his adopted country; and Laurens Reael, another scion of aristocracy, a handsome young man of some poetic power and considerable learning, fated to become the friend of the great Oldenbarneveldt, and, after a splendid career as a soldier, the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies.

Another visitor to this hospitable house was Dr. Samuel Coster, a dramatist of no mean ability, who is now chiefly remembered as the founder of Coster's Academy, an institution founded in imitation of the Accademia della Crusca of Florence.

Anna and Tesselschade were, of course, the centre of this constellation of literary stars, and few of the young men who met at their home left it with heart unscorched by the fierce blaze of love. Vondel was already married; but to the passion that these two beautiful women excited in most of the others, Dutch literature owes its most exquisite love lyrics.

The ardent Hooft wooed the staid Anna only to be rejected. However, the young knight sought and soon obtained consolation elsewhere. Brederoo, with all the fervor of his romantic nature, poured out his soul in a cycle of burning love poems at the feet of the golden-haired and dark-eyed Tesselschade. To her, too, he dedicated his tragedy "Lucelle," calling the object of his adoration "the honor of our city, the glory of our age."

Few women in any epoch have exerted such wonderful influence upon the literature of their time. Not a poet of the day who was not inspired by their beauty and character; not one, furthermore, who did not dedicate to them some production of his genius. And yet they do not seem to have been the least spoiled by such excessive notice. Their good sense and modesty only heightened the excellent impression excited by their beauty and their talents.

How incomplete a sketch of Vondel's life and age would be without a more than passing reference to these accomplished sisters will be better appreciated when we see the poet himself paying court to one of them, charmed not only into a passion of the heart, but also into taking a step which exerted a powerful influence on his life and works.

At the Visschers', in the circle of his friends, the aspiring poet was wont to read the latest effusions of his pen; that he was much benefited by the criticism to which his verses were there subjected cannot be doubted.

His friendship with the most noted men of the day warmed his ambition into a fever of aspiration, and, like Milton, he early determined to devote his whole life to the cultivation of his beloved art.

With the aid of Hooft and Reael he translated the "Troades" of Seneca, which he then sublimated into a tragedy of his own, the "Hecuba of Amsterdam." This evoked considerable praise from the critics of the day. At this time, also, he showed his advancement in technique and his improvement in style by several lyrics of extraordinary merit.

It was thus in the midst of an admiring circle of distinguished friends that we find Vondel cultivating his art. There, in the bosom of that Catholic family, the Visschers, the poets of that age found rest from the storm of religious discord that raged without.

Arminian and Gomarist, Remonstrant and Contra-Remonstrant, were waging that fierce battle of the creeds that is yet the foulest blot upon the fair name of the heroic and tolerant Republic.

Thus the Visscher mansion was the temple of the Muses, where beauty alone was worshipped. Religion was left by the visitor at the threshold. Art alone was the garment that gave admittance to this wedding-feast of poetry and philosophy.


Whether through the contemplation of the fierce dissensions that then raged in the little Republic, or through a natural melancholy of temperament, Vondel now became subject to the most distressing depression.

Occasionally he would flash from his gloom into one of those firebrands of invective that, thrown into the ranks of his enemies, created a blaze of discord from one end of the country to the other; occasionally, also, he was inspired for loftier themes, as his "Ode to St. Agnes," which first showed his tendency towards Catholicism.

Then he would relapse into his melancholy. He lost his appetite and became afflicted with various bodily ills. He seemed hastening into a decline. This lasted several years, during which several important changes had taken place, not only among his friends, but also in the ruling powers of the state.

On the 13th of May, 1618, John van Oldenbarneveldt, the aged Advocate of the States-General, the greatest statesman of his time, and the fiery patriot upon whom had fallen the sacred mantle of William the Silent, was beheaded. He had watched the destinies of the infant Republic with the tender solicitude of a loving shepherd; he was now devoured by the wolves who, in the guise of religion and of patriotism, had crept into the fold. He had given eighty years of devotion to the up-building of his country; he was now to seal that devotion with his blood. He had made his native land a theme of glory among the nations of the earth; he was now accused of selling that glory for the gold which he had always despised.

A thankless generation had, under the cloak of virtue, committed one of the most infamous and revolting crimes in human annals. Where shall we find a parallel? The gray hairs of the man, his learning, his ability, his unsullied life, his splendid achievements in behalf of his native land, his grand renown, his unselfish devotion, his patriotism—all this must be considered when we compare his sad end with the fate of the other political martyrs of history, too many of whom have been unduly exalted by the manner of their death.

Is it to be wondered at that such an important event caused the deep-thinking poet the revulsion that only comes to high-born souls?

Is it surprising, furthermore, that that revulsion found its expression in what is perhaps the finest satirical drama of modern times?

This period was the crisis in our poet's life. The Contra-Remonstrants, or Gomarists, as the extreme Calvinists were called, having disposed of their hated enemy Oldenbarneveldt, had now begun to play havoc with the liberties of the people. Art and literature next suffered through the blasting censorship of their fanatical clergy.

The religious tolerance that had formed the glory of the country only a decade before was now succeeded by a rabid bigotry that with insensate fury cut at the vitals of all that was healthful and inspiring. Life, property, and freedom were in peril. Nothing was safe.

Grotius, "the father of international law," and also so distinguished as a scholar that he was called the "wonder of the age," was imprisoned, with the fate of his friend the great Advocate staring him in the face. From this fate, moreover, he was only saved by the diplomatic ingenuity of his devoted wife, who aided him to escape from his prison at Loevestein, ensconced in an empty book-chest which the unsuspecting warden of the castle thought full of books. Others of note were in hiding or in exile.

The boasted freedom of the freed Netherlands had turned to the direst form of oppression—the tyranny of a religious oligarchy.

And yet it was not an easy victory for the Contra-Remonstrants. Every inch was bitterly contested by their foes in Christ, the moderate Calvinists, or Remonstrants.

This struggle, like the conflicts of the Florentine factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellines, divided the country into two hostile camps. Even those of other religions allied themselves with the one or other of these sects; for sect had now come to mean party. Vondel, with whom religion and patriotism were fused into one white heat, was not long in choosing the party of the Remonstrants—the side of freedom.

We shall hereafter view this remarkable man as the poet militant. For having once taken the sword in hand, he did not let it fall until his arm was palsied by death.

Much as he loved peace, his enemies hereafter took good care that he should never want occasion to defend himself. It must be added, however, that the poet was even more renowned for attack than for defence. He was ever at the head of the onset, ever in the thickest of the fray.

The sword of this crusader for the liberties of his country—the most formidable and dreaded weapon of the age—was a pen; and the production that fell like a bombshell into the Gomarist camp was the allegorical tragedy of "Palamedes, or Murdered Innocence."

Under cover of the ancient legend of Palamedes, which lent itself most readily to such analogy, he had portrayed the murder of the old Advocate, and painted his judges in such strong colors and with such accurate delineation that each was recognized, and forever invested with the shame and infamy he so richly merited.

The greatest excitement prevailed, and the first edition of the poem was sold in a few days. The Goliath of error, slain by the pebble of satire, lay on the ground, gasping in agony. The David who had with one swift arm-swing of thought accomplished this wonderful feat, suddenly found himself the most famous man in both camps.

In the meantime the party in power sought to repress the book; and as the poet was thought to be in danger of imprisonment, or of even a more tragic fate, he was advised by his friends to go into hiding, which he did.

Threats were made against the man who had so rashly dared the fury of those relentless iconoclasts—the reigning Gomarists. It was muttered that he ought to be taken to The Hague to be tried, even as Oldenbarneveldt.

Meanwhile Vondel was concealed at the house of Hans de Wolff, a brother of his wife, who was also married to his sister Clementia. They were, however, afraid to harbor him any longer; and his sister, it is said, upbraided him for his itch for writing, saying that no good could come of it, and that it would be better for him to attend more strictly to his business.

Vondel's only reply was, "I shall yet tell them sharper truths;" and he straightway sat down and wrote some cutting pasquinades. These, however, upon his sister's advice, he threw into the fire, which he afterwards regretted.

He next found shelter in the house of a friend, Laurens Baake, who received him gladly. Here he was hidden several days; and the sons and daughters of his host, being highly cultivated and exceedingly fond of poetry, were much pleased with the society of so distinguished a poet, and for him made things as comfortable as possible. Vondel ever proved grateful for the many favors received at their hands in the hour of his need.

His hiding-place was at last discovered, and he was brought before the court. The plea made by his lawyer in his behalf was that the play "was poet's work and could be otherwise interpreted than was commonly done."

Some of the judges expressed themselves very severely; and if their counsel had prevailed there is no doubt but that the poet's career would have ended with the "Palamedes." However, the old Batavian spirit also asserted itself, others saying that civil liberty was but a mockery when a man was no longer allowed the freedom of speech. The result of the trial was that Vondel was fined three hundred guldens, which was paid by a friend—indeed, by one of the judges themselves—who was secretly favorable to Vondel and his party, and had encouraged the poet to write this very drama. We are here reminded of the fate of the great Florentine. Dante, a patriot, yet an exile, accused of treason, and under sentence of death; Vondel, forced to flee from an oligarchy of unctuous hypocrites, in fear of his life, and arraigned as a fomenter of discord. The ideas of the great Hollander on government, and on politics also, were not unlike the ideal Ghibellinism of the illustrious Tuscan.

Of course, the very nature of the play made it popular, and the various attempts at its suppression only made it more so. Two other editions shortly followed. Within a few years thirty editions were sold. "Nitimur in vetitum semper cupimusque negata."

Prince Maurice, the Stadholder, whose powerful personality on account of his share in the death of the Advocate was also severely handled by the poet, died while Vondel was giving the finishing touches to his drama. Long years afterwards, when the poet was an old man, he was wont to relate how on the very morning that the news came to Amsterdam from The Hague that the Stadholder was on his death-bed, his wife came to the foot of the stairs that led to the room where he was writing, and cried, "Husband, the Prince is dying!"

To which he replied:

"Let him die! I am already tolling his knell."

Frederic Henry, who was the next Stadholder, was known to be at heart in favor of the Remonstrants.

It was reported that the whole tragedy was read to him in his palace, and that he was exceedingly pleased with it, finding much of interest in the various episodes. Strange to say, upon the walls of the room where he heard the drama hung a piece of tapestry upon which the history of the Greek Palamedes was artistically pictured. Pointing to this, the Prince said mockingly, "This tapestry should be taken away, otherwise they might suppose that I also favor the cause of Palamedes."

Apart from its influence on the time, and the interest of its allegorical allusions, the "Palamedes" is a splendid tragedy, and its intrinsic worth alone would make it immortal. One of the choruses, especially, is justly celebrated for its idyllic beauty. It has often been compared to the "L'Allegro" of Milton, and, indeed it bears, in many particulars, much resemblance to that exquisite lyric.


Soon after the completion of the "Palamedes," Vondel was again for a long time in a state of hopeless melancholy. He did not yield to its depressing influence, however, and at the age of forty began the study of Greek, in which he made rapid progress.

He still associated with his fellow-Academicians, though no longer at the home of Roemer Visscher.

This patron of learning had now been dead for several years. Other changes also had taken place. Starter, after the publication of his "Frisian Bower," seized with the spirit of adventure, had enlisted as a private soldier, and died, a few years afterwards, in one of the battles of the Thirty Years' War. Laurens Reael had gone to the Indies, and, after winning the highest honors as soldier and statesman, had come back again to his native land, which he continued to serve in a diplomatic capacity for many years.

Hooft had been honored by Prince Maurice with one of the highest dignities in the state. He had been appointed Judge of Muiden; and here, in his castle, in the society of his lovely wife and beautiful children, he gave himself up to his books. It was here in his "little tower," one of the four turrets of this castle, that he wrote his splendid history. Here he composed many of those charming lyrics that combine the lusciousness of the Italian after which they were modelled, with the domestic sweetness of the Dutch. Here, too, he wrote his great tragedies, "Baeto, or the Origin of the Hollanders," and "Gerardt van Velsen." Hooft was essentially a student and a scholar; a thinker rather than a fighter. He did not, therefore, like Vondel, the burgher, plunge with flaming soul into the conflict. The patrician was too fond of studious contemplation and of elegant ease to allow the discord of the outside world to mar the serene harmony of his retirement.

Brederoo had burnt himself out with the intensity of his passion for his adored, but not adoring, Tesselschade. Poor fellow! after all his poetic wooing and flattering dedications, he had met with the bitter disappointment of a refusal; and, after a meteoric career, died, at the age of thirty-six, a heart-broken man. The delicate lyre-strings on that Æolian harp had been snapped by the rude blast of unrequited love, and from the broken chords now surged the mournful music of the grave. His dazzling genius—eclipsed in its noon-tide splendor by the swift night of death—was quenched forever. Such was the sad but romantic ending of the most brilliant man of his age, the greatest humorist that Holland has yet produced.

And Tesselschade, the beautiful inspirer of this passion? To her, too, time had brought its changes.

Neptune's trident, it seems, had more attraction for her than the lyre of Apollo, whose strings she had so often set into melodious vibration. After being wooed for a whole decade by all the younger poets, she had at last been won by a gallant sea-captain, Allart Krombalgh, and was now living happily in blissful quiet with her husband at Alkmaar.

Tesselschade was now thirty years of age, and had lost none of the extraordinary beauty of early youth. Deep golden hair, of which each tiny thread seemed just the string for Cupid's bow; large dark eyes, darting rays of love, and deep with infinitudes of tenderness; a low but broad, smooth forehead of marble whiteness; an exquisite mouth; a decided chin that spoke of a will reserved; a chiselled nose with delicate, sensuous nostrils—these were the most striking features of a face that was as remarkable for its earnest and captivating expression as for its great beauty and radiant intelligence. Add to this a glowing complexion of wonderful purity, and a slender but symmetrically-shaped figure, and you have a picture of the most beautiful and talented woman of her generation.

All the poets honored the bride with their choicest verses. Elevated as was Vondel's epithalamium, sweet and graceful as was Hooft's, agreeable as were the many other poems that the occasion inspired, the young Constantine Huyghens wrote a eulogy in a tender and delicious strain that surpassed them all.

At Alkmaar the happy couple had an ideal home, exquisitely furnished with pictures and embroidery done by the skilful hands of Tesselschade herself. Here, with art and music, in the midst of the amenities of domestic life, she lived many happy years.

Tesselschade, however, did not give up her passion for poetry. She continued her relations with the charming circle of her admirers, and corresponded with Hooft in Italian.

Even before her marriage she had begun translating the "Gerusalemme Liberata" of Tasso; and now, with the aid of Hooft, the best Italian scholar in the Netherlands, she continued this absorbing work. This version was never printed, and has, unfortunately, been lost.

In 1622 her sister Anna, the friend and correspondent of Rubens, visited Middelburg, the capital of Zealand, where she met the shining lights of the School of Dort, as the didactic writers of the day were called. At the head of these was the celebrated Father Cats—the poet of the commonplace—the most popular, though by no means the greatest, poet of the Netherlands. Simon van Beaumont, the governor, a lyrist of some talent; Joanna Coomans, called the "Pearl of Zealand;" and Jacob Westerbaen also gave her sweet welcome.

Attentions were showered on the honored guest, and her visit gave occasion to that well-known collection of lyrics entitled "The Zealand Nightingale," which was dedicated to her. Upon her return from Zealand, Anna was also married, and from this time forth she slowly ceased her literary relations with the School of Amsterdam, and now gave herself entirely up to domestic duties.

Not so Tesselschade. Her imagination was too intense, her conceptions too vivid, to find any attraction in the realistic didacticism of the Catsian circle. Her muse was not to be restrained by household cares. Her friendship with Hooft and Vondel remained unbroken; and we shall have occasion to meet her again.

Since his "Palamedes," Vondel, overwhelmed with his strange depression, had written but little. In 1630 he burst into a blaze of satire that swept the country like a whirlwind of flame. His poems of this year were entitled Haec Libertatis Ergo, and were of unsparing severity. "The evils of the time," said the poet, "are too deep-seated to be eradicated by a poultice of honey." Like Juvenal and Persius, he did not spare the knife, although he knew that every thrust only made his enemies more bitter and his own position more uncomfortable. His absolute fearlessness was the theme of admiration, not only among his friends, but even among his enemies. The higher the person, the stronger his invective; the more powerful the object of his dislike, the more cutting the edge of his sarcasm.

Never was satire so crushing and at the same time so keen; never mockery so unanswerable, polemic so overwhelming.

A Titan had thrown mountains of irony upon the heads of a thick-skulled generation of vipers. Their discomfiture was so complete that not even a hiss broke from the silence of their annihilation. The whited sepulchres of the sovereign hypocrites of the Republic now stood black as night in the face of noon.

Though a fiery patriot and an enthusiastic adherent of the House of Orange, Vondel received but little favor at the hands of Frederic Henry. This was probably due to the poet's unpopularity with the clergy, and to the hatred that he had excited among the Church party in power—the uncompromising Contra-Remonstrants, whose enmity the Stadholder would doubtless have incurred by an open friendship with aman whose avowed determination it was to accomplish their downfall.

About this time occurred the death of William van den Vondel, a younger brother of the poet, whom he loved most tenderly. This youth had been educated in France and Italy, and possessed extraordinary gifts and many accomplishments. He had also written some poems of great promise, but was now cut off in the flower of his youth by an insidious malady that he had brought with him from Italy, a sickness thought by many to have been due to poison.

The poet never ceased to mourn this idolized brother, and almost half a century later he was heard to say: "I could cry when I think of my brother. He was much my superior."

In the same year Vondel made a journey to Denmark in the interest of his business. Upon his return journey he was the guest of Sir Jacob van Dÿk, the minister from the Court of Sweden to The Hague.

At Van Dÿk's country seat in Gottenburg he wrote a poem in honor of Gustavus Adolphus. This production is chiefly remarkable as foreshadowing several important political events. He prophesied that the great Swede would attack the Emperor of Rome, tread upon the neck of Austria, and bring the Eternal City itself into a panic of fright—all of which happened within four years. He was, however, silent as to the fate of the King, and said nothing about his tragic death in the hour of victory.

So we here, also, see Vondel in the capacity of the classic vates and of the Hebrew seer. Before his piercing ken even the time to come delivered up its hoarded secrets. The past, the present, and the future were the provinces of the grand empire reigned over by his kingly spirit.


The old Chamber of the Eglantine had now fallen into a decline. Many of its choicest spirits had gone over to Coster's Academy; the others, Vondel and his friends, as has already been related, were accustomed to meet for mutual help and criticism at the hospitable home of the Visschers.

After this charming home was broken up, the literary centre of the Amsterdam School was changed to the Castle of Muiden, a few miles from the metropolis.

At the Visschers' the budding talent of the country had been carefully nurtured and placed in the warm sunlight of a mutual and invigorating sympathy; at Muiden, however, it was seen in its full flower.

It was here that the literary genius of the Netherlands reached its highest efflorescence; nor has it ever again reached the sublime standard of those golden days.

Soon after being appointed Judge of Muiden, Hooft had rebuilt the old castle; and now it stood, a romantic structure, crowned with turrets and towers. It was picturesquely situated on an island in the centre of a small lake. A feudal drawbridge connected it with the outside world, and it was embowered in lofty trees and surrounded by gardens and orchards.

There is no more charming picture in literature than that of the aristocratic host of Muiden, with his handsome, intelligent face and his elegant manners, in the midst of his guests, the genius and the flower of the Netherlands—a scene rendered still more interesting by the presence of talented and beautiful women.

Here, beneath the shade of the spreading lindens and the noble beeches, they would lighten the heavy summer hours by games and conversation, and by the discussion of affairs of state.

Or, perhaps, too, they would listen to the classic muse of the learned Barlæus, or to the dramatic recitations of Daniel Mostert; or, occasionally,—O! inestimable privilege!—they would be thrilled by the powerful verses of the sublime Vondel, destined to become the greatest poet of his country. Here, also, they were often enchanted by the tender songs of the beautiful Tesselschade, the Dutch Nightingale, richly warbling her own deep notes, while her nimble fingers swept the guitar; or, perhaps, singing to the accompaniment of the celebrated Zweling, the first great composer of the Netherlands. Or it may be that another sweet singer, Francesca Duarte, would sometimes add her mellow tones to those delightful strains, while the distinguished company applauded with eloquent silence.

Here, too, before her apostasy to the Dort School, came the gentle Anna Visscher to read her noble rimes; while often, also, Vossius, the first Latinist of his age, and Laurens Reael, the renowned statesman, soldier, and erotic poet, would lend the dignity of their presence. Here, furthermore, came the young Huyghens, the most versatile of a versatile race, and one of the most celebrated wits and poets of his day.

The "Muider Kring" ("the Muiden circle"), as this salon is known in the literary history of the Netherlands, is yet the proudest boast and the perennial glory of Holland; for this was the Elizabethan era of Dutch literature. Hooft, as the social centre of a literary constellation, exerted, perhaps, even more influence upon his age by his magnetic personality than by his remarkable writings.


It was amid such congenial surroundings that the genius of Vondel grew to maturity.

Soon after the satires of 1630, he translated Seneca's "Hippolytus," which he dedicated to Grotius. Grotius was still in exile, and the publisher of this translation, fearing the displeasure of the authorities, tore the dedication leaf out of every copy.

Vondel's next effort was the "Farmer's Catechism," which was full of a rollicking humor that, at the same time, was not without its sting. Vossius, in his professional study at Leiden, laughed heartily upon reading it, and it occasioned much mirth among the Arminians, or Remonstrants, everywhere.

Some satirical poems of the same period were much keener, and unmercifully ridiculed the blunders of the government, the general extravagance, and the increase of avarice and ostentation among the citizens.

Shortly after this came his "Decretum Horribile," a powerful polemic against the Calvinistic doctrine of election and predestination as interpreted by the Gomarists. This savage attack on their belief filled the Ultra-Calvinists with rage, and caused the name of the poet to be execrated as the personification of infamy.

Hear his fierce outburst against the great Calvin himself:

"That monster dread that from a poison-chalice
Pours out the drug of hell in unctuous malice;
And makes the gracious God a very fiend."

No wonder that in the eyes of these stern followers of Calvin he was himself a very devil, nor is it extravagant to say that he was hardly less feared by them than his Satanic majesty himself.

From every pulpit the Contra-Remonstrants hurled anathemas at the offending poet.

Not one of their gatherings from which his name did not rise to the throne of divine grace in clouds of execration. Not a preacher of the sect that did not call down the wrath of Jehovah upon the head of the blasphemer who had dared to mock the arrogant tenets of his exclusive faith.

Vondel, however, did not pause in his path one instant, answering their maledictions with stinging satire, and their abuse with overwhelming invective.

Yet it must not be thought that our poet was forever forging thunderbolts of satire at the blaze of his wrath. He also found time for the amenities of life; and thus we often find him in the companionship of those distinguished friends who contributed so much to his pleasure and his growth.

About this period the moribund Chamber of the Eglantine was merged into Coster's Academy, which now became the theatre of the city.

Shortly afterwards Vondel wrote his verses of welcome to Hugo Grotius upon his return from exile—verses full of severe condemnation of the party that had banished him. Then followed a song of triumph for the naval victories over the Spaniards, and several satires against the clergy, who were again fomenting restrictive measures against the freedom of conscience. All of these productions glowed with the fierce jealousy for personal liberty which had become the poet's ruling passion; for his verse ever gave utterance to his dominant emotion. In his own words: "I needs must sing the song that fills my heart."

His "Funeral Sacrifice of Magdeburg" alone was free from this contentious spirit. This was a heroic poem in praise of Gustavus Adolphus, the bulwark of Protestantism, and his splendid victory over Tilly and Pappenheim at Leipsic—that terrible vengeance for the fearful sacking of Magdeburg!

In the beginning of 1632 the illustrious Atheneum of Amsterdam was opened with imposing ceremonies, to which occasion Vondel contributed an excellent poem.

Not long afterwards, Grotius, on account of his too open opposition to his old enemies, was again banished from his fatherland. A price of two thousand guldens was set on his head, which gave Vondel cause for another trenchant pasquinade. He did not, however, dare to publish this, for fear of calling upon himself the same violence that his friend had escaped. Grotius himself wrote Vondel a letter of thanks for his interest in his behalf, adding that it could do no possible good to publish the poem, and that it would therefore be unwise for him to put himself into danger.

An elegy on the death of Count Ernest Casimir and an ode on the triumph of Maastricht saw the light, however, and were much admired by all parties of his countrymen.

Vondel now began his great epic, "Constantine." This poem had for its subject the journey of Constantine to Rome, and was intended to be complete in twelve books, after the model of Virgil's "Æneid." The poet had for several years been preparing himself for this immense undertaking by a thorough study, not only of the great epics of antiquity, but also of those of Tasso and Ariosto.

Besides reading the various Church Fathers and the historians who had written on this period, he also entered into a correspondence concerning the subject with Grotius, who was much pleased to hear of his plan and who also gave him considerable information.

While Vondel was busy with his epic, his wife bore him a son, whom, in honor of his hero, he named Constantine. The child died, however, and not long afterwards the mother also. This terrible affliction cast a gloom over the life of the poet from which he never entirely emerged. Full of pathos is his letter to Grotius stating his loneliness, and adding that all his interest in his epic had departed: "Since the death of my sainted wife, I have lost heart; so that I shall have to give up my great 'Constantine' for the present."

The poet was never able to resume this stupendous work. It was too suggestive of memories of a happiness forever lost. After keeping the manuscript by him for several years, with the vain hope that his interest might be reanimated, he at last destroyed it. It was thus that Dutch literature lost its greatest epic, a poem which would doubtless have added to the renown of the author, and reflected lustre upon his country.

In 1635, Grotius, who was now the Swedish Ambassador to France, published his Latin tragedy, "Sophompaneas," of which Joseph was the hero. Vondel, who was still in his shop in the Warmoesstraat, having laid the "Constantine" aside, and wishing to employ his leisure time, made a Dutch rendering of this play, of which the author wrote Vossius as follows:

"I understand that Vondel hath done me the honor to put my 'Sophompaneas' with his own hand, that is to say, in his artistic manner, into our Holland tongue. I am under great obligations to him, because he, who is capable of so much better things than I, hath now, in his translation of my play, given his labor as a proof of his friendship."

Vondel, in translating, often sought the advice of his friends, saying, "Each judgment views the matter in a different light; and the judgment of one is poor beside the opinions of many." He also said that he found the work of translating serviceable to gain a knowledge of the technique, diction, thought, and peculiarity of an author. Moreover, he discovered that it not only kindled his imagination, but that it also suggested new thought, and was conducive to his own improvement in language and in form. For this reason he translated so many of the classics, of which more will be said at the proper time.

The Academy having become too small for the public that now thronged to the theatre, Dr. Coster sold the building to the regents of the City's Orphan Asylum and of the Old Men's Home. The managers of these charitable institutions, then, as an investment, built a new theatre in its place. Here, twice a week, plays were presented, with great profit to the management.

The new theatre was completed in 1637, and the first drama played on its stage was Vondel's fine tragedy, "Gysbrecht van Amstel." This play had as its subject the defeat of the old hero, Sir Gysbrecht, and his banishment from his native city, Amsterdam, soon after the death of Floris V.

This historical event was supposed to have occurred about Christmastide, and the drama was accordingly presented on New Year's Eve. The "Gysbrecht" is the most popular of all of Vondel's plays, and it is interesting to note that, from the night of its first presentation, two hundred and fifty years ago, until the present time, it has been presented every New Year's Eve on the stage of the theatre of Amsterdam.

Some of the situations in this drama are based upon various episodes in Virgil's "Æneid." One of the characters, also, is made to prophesy the future glory of the city; which, moreover, may easily be interpreted as prophetic of the grandeur of the greater "New Amsterdam" beyond the sea, a circumstance that should give it additional interest to Americans. The "Gysbrecht" was dedicated to Grotius, who acknowledged the honor as follows:

"Sir: I hold myself much beholden to you for your courtesy and your great kindness to me; for you, almost alone—at least there are but few besides you—in the Netherlands, seek to relieve my gloom and to reward my unrewarded services. I have always held your talents and your works in the highest esteem."

He then goes on to speak of the charming proportions of the play, and of the "verses, pithy, tender, heart-melting, and flowing." Then he continues: "The 'Œdipus Coloneus' of Sophocles and the 'Supplicants' of Euripides have not honored Athens more than thou hast Amsterdam."

To Vossius, at Leiden, Grotius also wrote in a no less complimentary strain concerning this production.

We had the privilege of seeing this drama on the stage in Amsterdam one New Year's Eve a couple of years ago, and we confess that it was not until we heard the magnificent recitative of the superb Bouwmeester, the great tragedian of Holland, in this beautiful play, that we fully appreciated the grandeur and the sublimity of Vondel, and the power and the sweetness of the Dutch language.

Part of the Roman ceremonial, with its splendid ritual, is introduced into one of the scenes of the "Gysbrecht;" and this has been taken as foreshadowing Vondel's conversion to Catholicism. Naturally this gave offence to many of the bigots among the Calvinists, who saw in it only the glorification of popery.

Vondel then wrote a tragedy, "Messalina," which, however, he destroyed because some of the actors, while rehearsing their parts, through some adventitious remark of the poet, had inferred that the play possessed a certain political significance, and that it was an allegory picturing forth some of the notables of the day, after the manner of the "Palamedes."

The poet fearing that it might breed mischief, and seeing that it was impossible to rectify the matter, since it had already become a subject of conversation among the actors, begged the parts of the three leading rôles, pretending that he wished to make some important corrections. Having obtained possession of these parts, he took good care to burn them, thus preventing the presentation of the play, and putting a stop to the silly chatter of the players.


His next undertaking was the translation of the "Electra" of Sophocles, being aided in the work by Isaac Vossius, a son of the celebrated Leyden professor, who was himself also a profound scholar. As was usual with this poet, the translation of this tragedy was followed by one of his own, the drama of "The Virgins; or, Saint Ursula." This he dedicated to the city of his birth, Cologne; where, the legend says, a British princess, with eleven thousand other maidens, at the command of Attila, the ferocious Hun, suffered a martyr's death. This tragedy also received the praises of Grotius; and it may safely be said that no man of his time, with the possible exception of John Milton, was so capable of judging according to the rigid rules of the antique as Grotius. For besides being the most learned man of his age, an accomplished Grecian, and an unsurpassed Latinist, he was himself a poet of no mean order.

"The Virgins," notwithstanding its beauty and tenderness, was the cause of much sorrow to the friends of Vondel, in that it unmistakably showed the poet's inclination towards Romanism.

True, as has been narrated, this had for some years been suspected from the tone of several other productions that preceded it; but then it was only a suspicion, now there was no longer a doubt.

Vondel was plainly on the high road to Rome, and it was whispered that he, having become tired of his loneliness, had been attracted by a certain Catholic widow, whose seductive charms were largely responsible for his wavering faith.

The widow here referred to is supposed to have been the fair Tesselschade, the friend of his youth, who, after ten years of wedded bliss, had at one stroke been deprived of both her eldest child and her husband, and was now living with her one remaining child, a daughter, in resigned widowhood at Alkmaar. We are now again to see this remarkable woman as the inspirer of the muse of Holland.

Barlæus in his "Tessalica" wooed her in elegant Latin; and Vondel dedicated to her his translation of the "Electra" of Sophocles, and also his next Biblical tragedy, "Peter and Paul," which was even more decided in its Romanism than its predecessor.

Tesselschade, however, preferred her black widow's weeds to the white raiment of a bride, and continued in her retirement, alone with the memory of her happy past. Her spirit shone only the brighter in its progress through the valley of tribulation to the heights of resignation. She had been chastened by affliction and saddened by sorrow, yet she did not lose heart, but still enjoyed the society of her friends. She still took an admirable part in the drama of life.

In 1639, the French Queen Dowager, Maria de' Medici, paid a short visit to Amsterdam. Tesselschade not only sang a song before her, but also presented her with an Italian poem of her own composition. She had finished her version of the "Gerusalemme," and was now busy translating the "Adonis" of Marini.

The young poets Vos and Brandt, the poetess Alida Bruno, and others of the rising literati, sought her friendship. Tesselschade was still the Queen when the Muses went a-maying, and her sovereignty remained undisputed until the day of her death.

In 1640 appeared Vondel's Biblical tragedy, the "Brothers," which was thought by the critics to surpass all that had preceded it. It was dedicated to Vossius, whose comment upon reading it was, Scribis æternitati. Grotius wrote the poet a letter, and was also loud in his praises, comparing it with the most famous tragedies of antiquity, adding significantly, "and do not forget your great epic, 'Constantine.'" By others this drama was thought to combine the tenderness of Euripides with the sublimity of Sophocles.

In the same year, also, followed two more Biblical tragedies, "Joseph in Dothan" and "Joseph in Egypt," which also occasioned much remark, and were not inferior to the best plays that had gone before.

Vondel was now universally acknowledged to be the greatest poet of the time. The ascent of Parnassus, however, is not as easy as the decensus Averni. By years of study, constant watchfulness, and perpetual striving for self-improvement, and a prayerful devotion to his art—thus alone did he attain the summit of such achievement.

In him was seen purity of diction, clearness and terseness of expression, power of logic, richness and agreeableness of invention, and a style that was at once mellifluous and sublime.

The tragedy, "Peter and Paul," to whose open Romanism reference has already been made, was his next effort, and was soon followed by the "Epistles of the Holy Virgin Martyrs," which were twelve in number, and were dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, whom he called "the Queen of Heaven," and named as Mediator with her divine Son. This was a sufficient acknowledgment of his conversion to the Catholic faith to alienate many of his warmest friends. This, however, though it must have brought much grief to his sensitive heart, did not cause him to regret having made a step that he had so long been meditating.

Before beginning these "Epistles," Vondel had translated many of the epistles of Ovid that he might absorb the grace and the spirit of Ovid's epistolary style. His own effort was deemed not less graceful and spirited. Their literary merit, however, did not, in the estimation of his Protestant friends, compensate for their justification of popery.

Even Hooft, Vondel's life-long friend and brother in art, grew cold; and we find the following reference to this in one of the poet's letters to the Judge of Muiden. Vondel writes: "I wish Cornelius Tacitus a happy and a blessed New Year; and although he forbids me a harmless Ave Maria at his heretical table, yet I shall nevertheless occasionally read another Ave Maria for him that he may die as devout a Catholic as he now shows himself an ardent partisan." Their friendship was yet further broken by other circumstances which had their origin in the first cause of separation.

In 1645, Vondel wrote a lyric poem on a miracle which the Catholics taught had occurred at Amsterdam about the middle of the fourteenth century. This was too much for his Protestant friends, and he became the subject of innumerable lame lampoons and petty pasquinades, in which his espousal of the Catholic legend was coarsely ridiculed.

Hooft, in a letter to Professor Barlæus, also expressed his opinion in the following words: "Vondel seems to grow tired of nothing sooner than of rest. It seems he must have saved up three hundred guldens more, which are causing him a good deal of embarrassment. And I do not know but that it might cost him even much dearer than this; for some hot-head might be tempted prematurely to lay violent hands upon him, thinking that not even a cock would crow his regret."

These productions, however, were only the prelude to a greater work that was to follow—his "Mysteries of the Altar," which was published in the autumn of 1645.

This poem was a glorification of the Mass, and was divided into three books. Vondel, in writing this able work, was assisted by the counsel of the most learned and the most profound men in the Catholic Church. The doctrines of Thomas Aquinas and other celebrated schoolmen, and the teachings of the best modern authorities were here poetically combined, and the poet was hailed on every side as the ablest defender of the tenets of the Church of Rome.

This poem provoked a celebrated reply by Jacob Westerbaen, one of the most noted of the School of Dort, who, while praising the art of the new champion of Catholicism, at the same time attacked his doctrinal position with such piercing analysis and with so great display of theological dogma, that, in the opinion of the Protestants, Vondel was ingloriously vanquished. The Catholics, of course, thought differently.

Jacob, Archbishop of Mechlin, to whom Vondel's poem was dedicated, sent the author a painting with which Vondel was at first greatly pleased. Learning, however, that it was only a bad copy, he gave it away to his sister, no longer wishing to have such a poor reward for so great an undertaking before his eyes.

A prose translation of the works of Virgil was the next thing that this indefatigable worker essayed. This version received the commendation of most of his contemporaries. Barlæus, indeed, found fault with it, saying that it was without life and marrow; adding, cynically, that Augustus would surely not have withheld this Maro from the flames. But, then, Barlæus was such a thorough Latinist that his own language seemed foreign to him. He would have had the translator preserve the peculiarities of the Latin at the expense of his native tongue. And, then, was he not also Vondel's rival for the hand of Tesselschade? Praise from him surely was not to be expected. The universal opinion was that it was a difficult work excellently done. This translation was also the forerunner of a drama. "Maria Stuart" was the name of the tragedy which the bard now offered for the perusal of his countrymen.

The poet represented the unhappy Queen of Scots as perfect and without stain, while her victorious rival Elizabeth was painted in infernal black.

This subject naturally gave the proselyte occasion to display his burning zeal for Rome; and upon the publication of the play a great outcry was raised against both drama and author. Some of Vondel's enemies, indeed, were so incensed, and raised such a commotion, that the poet was brought before the city tribunal, and fined one hundred and eighty guldens; "which," says Brandt, Vondel's biographer, "seemed indeed strange to many, seeing what freedom in writing was allowed at this time, and because, also, even to the poets of antiquity more was permitted than to most others." Abraham de Wees, Vondel's publisher, however, paid the fine, being unwilling that the poet should suffer by that which brought him profit.

Hugo Grotius was now dead, but shortly before his decease he had written several pamphlets whose object it was to effect some reconciliation between Catholic and Protestant. Vondel now translated those portions of these favorable to the papacy, combining them in a polemic called "Grotius' Testament." Whereupon many said that he had now gone too far in his zeal for his adopted church; for it was claimed that upon the statements of Grotius he often put a construction not favored by the context. It was even insinuated by some that he had not acted in good faith.

Brandt himself made this intimation in a preface written by him to an edition of Vondel's collected works which was published in the year 1647. Brandt was then yet a mere youth, and was rankling with the memory of a severe and unjust reprimand that the older poet some time before had given him. He therefore acknowledges in his naïve biography that he eagerly welcomed this opportunity to be revenged upon the distinguished offender, and accordingly made this dose of his gall as bitter as possible. The poet felt the insinuation keenly, and for a long time suspected Peter de Groot, the son of the great lawyer, as the perpetrator of the offending paragraph. Many years afterwards, however, the smart of the wound having departed, the real culprit confessed his sin to the then aged poet, and obtained the asked for absolution.

It was in 1641 that Vondel openly embraced the Catholic faith, though his tendency in that direction had been apparent in his poems many years before. We have already referred to the report that his love for a beautiful and wealthy widow, Tesselschade, had been the main instrument in drawing him from his Protestant moorings, and this was doubtless to some extent true. And yet it is almost certain that Vondel would have embraced the cause of Rome even without the alluring wiles of this fair enchantress.

Many of his relatives, including his brother William, belonged to that faith. Many of his dearest friends also were of that denomination. His daughter Anna, furthermore, had not only entered that church, but had also taken the veil. Moreover, he had long been drifting away from the creed of his early childhood, the Anabaptism of his parents. The severe pietism of that belief had never strongly appealed to him. True, he had espoused the cause of the Arminians, as against their enemies the Gomarists; but it was only because they were the under side, and because their cause was also the cause of civil liberty, that he had entered the lists with them.

The perpetual discord, the disunion, the bickerings, the bitterness, and the persecutions among the different Protestant sects of the period were exceedingly repulsive to him. He did not forget that under the banner of Protestantism his country had triumphed over the common foe. He did not forget that Calvin had been the herald of science and the apostle of liberty. He did not fail to remember the glories of the past. But the contemplation of that proud past only increased his abhorrence of the petty present.

Calvinism had indeed done much for Holland; but the inevitable reaction had come, and its excesses could not be justified. Calvinism had come to mean dogma; and dogma had no attraction for his poetic mind. Calvinism had become the foe of freedom; and freedom was the very breath of this flaming patriot. Calvinism had shown itself an enemy of the arts, of poetry, and of the drama; and these were as the very soul of Vondel.

How could he know that this was only a fleeting gloom, from which the sun of Calvinism would again emerge, radiant with all of its original glory? He was weary—weary of the discord, and longed for peace.

Is it to be wondered at that the poet gradually drifted, even as Cardinal Newman, into a haven that promised such longed-for rest? Is it surprising that he who had so long been chilled by the cold formalism and the frigid austerity of the dogma of the North should now find it agreeable to thaw out his soul in the glow of the religion of the South? Then, too, the beauty of the Catholic ritual, the pomp, the grand processional, the holy days, the glorious music, the noble symmetry of the Roman architecture, the awe-inspiring antiquity of the Church, the magnificence of its domain, the splendor of its organization, allured the imagination of the poet with irresistible power; and his reason followed, a not unwilling captive.

Nor was it the hasty choice of a regretted impulse. Everything tends to show—we have traced the gradual growth in his poems—that it was a long-contemplated step from which, once taken, nothing should ever be able to remove him. It is, therefore, in Vondel that we find one of the most able and ardent champions the Church of Rome has ever had. No saint ever more truly deserved canonization than this high priest of Apollo, flaming with zeal for his adopted faith.

Vondel was a crusader born five hundred years too late—a crusader, too, a lion-hearted defender of the Cross, most of whose battles were fought beneath the brow of Mount Zion and within the very gates of Jerusalem.

Few crusaders, indeed, had fought so long and so well; few had won so many victories, had slain so many enemies, as this indomitable hero of Amsterdam.

Though bitterly opposed to the Contra-Remonstrants, he, however, helped them in decrying the growing spirit of ostentation and the vices of the day. And although he openly sided with the Remonstrants, he never joined them. But as a flower turns its head to the sun, so he, too, gradually turned towards the old belief.

At this period, when Protestants were in turn persecuting heretics and, reveling in their sudden freedom, were indulging in all sorts of fanatical excesses, Catholicism, purified, began to live again. Furthermore, to the poetic temperament of the poet and his stern sense of justice, the bigotry of the Gomarists seemed no less odious than the more open persecutions of the Catholics of the preceding age.

It was thus that Vondel, long tossed upon a sea of doubt, sought anchorage in a harbor where winds were calm. It was thus that this great man was led to take a step which called down upon him for many years hate, aversion, and ridicule.

But in spite of all this he remained true to his new faith, and became a fervid Catholic; one ever consistent and true to his adopted church. Here he could remain undisturbed in his reverence for antiquity, in his worship of beauty, and in his love for poetry and art. Here there was ever a labyrinth of mystery for his aspiring soul to explore. Here the plan of salvation was not reduced to the bare expression of a logical formula.


But we must again make brief reference to the friends of our poet, who one by one preceded him to the grave. First Reael died. Then Hooft and Barlæus soon followed, and were both buried in the New Church at Amsterdam. Above the tomb of each Vondel wrote a short epitaph. But the keenest loss was yet to come. In 1649 Holland lost the brightest jewel in the crown of her womanhood, and Vondel, his dearest friend. Tesselschade, after many sorrows, entered peacefully into rest.

A few years before she had had the misfortune to lose her left eye from a spark that flew out of a smithy as she passed. She bore this sad accident with cheerfulness; but a greater calamity yet awaited her. The pride of her heart, her one remaining child, her beautiful daughter Tesselschade, was suddenly cut off in the bloom of maidenhood. The disconsolate mother struggled in vain against this terrible sorrow. A year later she followed her loved ones to the tomb. She, also, was laid away in the New Church, by the side of the dead Titans of her generation who had so often made her the theme of their inspired song; where, too, Vondel himself, the greatest of them all, was eventually to lie.

For Vondel's beautiful threnody we have unfortunately no space, but shall content ourselves with quoting the first strophe of Huyghens' touching elegy:

"Here Tesselschade lies.
Let no one rashly dare
To give the measure of her worth beyond compare;
Her glory, like the sun's, the poet's pen defies."

Shortly after the death of his dear friend, Vondel gave up his hosiery shop in the Warmoesstraat to his son, while he himself went to live with his daughter Anna on the Cingel, on the outskirts of the city. The poet was now sixty-two years of age, and he doubtless thought to end his days in peace and studious retirement. But the battle of life for him had only just begun. He was never to know the meaning of rest.

About this time Vondel again had occasion for his tremendous invective. We refer to his remarkable series of satires against the anti-royalists of Great Britain.

His odes on "The Regicides of England," "Charles Stuart's Murdered Majesty," "Protector Werewolf" (Cromwell), "The Flag of Scotland," and many other poems on the same subject, breathe the very spirit of war, and glow with the same intense indignation and righteous wrath that characterize the productions of John Milton on the other side. These fierce polemics, winged with rime, were very popular in Holland, where the cause of the royalists was favored.

But it was the Catholic, no less than the royalist, who spoke in these seething satires. That Vondel the republican should assume such a fierce attitude against the would-be republicans of England can only be explained by his fear that in England, even as in Holland, canting bigotry would now usurp the altars of religion, and there, with unholy zeal, sacrifice the soul of art and the spirit of liberty.

Or was it an intuitive dread of a republican and Puritan England that made the Hollander seize these firebrands from his kindling wrath? It may be, for the Commonwealth was not at all friendly towards her sister republic, and ere long the Protector dealt the naval supremacy of the Dutch a blow from which they never recovered.

In 1648 Vondel celebrated the Treaty of Munster by his "Leeuwendalers," a pastoral drama in the style of Guarini's "Pastor Fido;" and more charming pastoral surely never was written, with not one note of strife, not one strident trumpet blast, to jar upon its harmony.

The "Leeuwendalers" is a fitting monument to the heroism of the patriots whose magnificent struggle of eighty-four years against the overwhelming tyranny of Spain had at last been rewarded by this glorious peace.

Not long afterwards, he wrote his excellent epitaph on that brave old sea-dog, Martin Tromp. Save among the clergy, Vondel's Romanism seemed now no longer to cause much comment.

The tragedy of "Solomon," Vondel's following drama, was remarkable for its opulence. At this time, also, his fiery denunciation of the Stadtholder William II. and his party for their attack upon, and their unsuccessful attempt against, the ancient privileges of Amsterdam did much to reestablish him in the good graces of his fellow citizens.


On October 20, 1653, one hundred leading painters, poets, architects, and sculptors of the city of Amsterdam, known as the Guild of St. Luke, assembled in the hall of the Order for their anniversary celebration. This was the historic Feast of St. Luke, and Vondel was the honored guest of the occasion.

The poet was placed at one end of the table, on a high chair, which was to represent a throne. Here he was crowned with laurel as the "Symposiarch," or "King of the Feast," it is said, by the great painter Bartholomew van der Helst. Thus Apollo and Apelles were happily united in the bond of a common sympathy, and all petty dissensions were forgotten in the triumph of art. Poems were read, toasts were made; the ceremonies, as is usual at all the feasts of the Hollanders, closing with their national anthem—"the grand Wilhelmus"—the most affecting and sublime of all national odes, calling up, as it does, memories of a hundred years of martyrdom and of the heroic founder of the Republic.

It was the proudest moment of the poet's life; and we can imagine the depth of his emotion as the glorious laurel graced his battle-furrowed brow. Perhaps, too, the romantic face of Rembrandt was near by, drinking in with his thirsty eyes the picturesque beauty of the scene, unconscious of the crown which fickle destiny had reserved for him. Or it may be that the thoughtful youth Spinoza, silent and abstemious, found there some theme for his revolutionary philosophy.

Yet Vondel was king of them all; crowned with a kingship won by prodigies of valor on the battle-field of life. Every leaf in that laurel wreath was purchased by a thorn. But who thinks of the sharpness of the thorn when caressed by the velvet of the leaf?

So Vondel, in that moment of triumph, forgot his sorrows in his cup of joy, as he drained the sweet present to the dregs.

In return for the honor it had done him, Vondel dedicated his prose translation of the Odes of Horace to the hospitable Guild. He was now sixty-six years old, and was yet in the possession of every bodily and mental power. He was now to give forth his masterpiece—a work for which his whole life had been a constant preparation. We come to the "Lucifer."

This tragedy appeared in 1654 and was the monumental creation of this combatant poet, the crystallization of the Titanic passions of the age. It has, therefore, a significance that can never fade.

On account of the character of the play, which naturally treats of holy subject matter, the clergy at once gave it the benefit of their most strenuous opposition, saying that it was full of "unholy, unchaste, idolatrous, false, and utterly depraved things."

Through their meddlesome interference, the "Lucifer," after it had twice been presented on the stage, was interdicted.

As a matter of course this caused it to be the subject of much comment, and the first edition of one thousand was sold in a week. Petrus Wittewrongel, a native of Zealand, was the most conspicuous among the opponents of this play. His opposition, however, extended to the drama in general, making it the theme of every sermon. According to this Dutch Puritan, the theatre was "a school of idleness, a mount of idolatry, a relic of paganism, leading to sin, godlessness, impurity, and frivolity; a mere waste of time." This bitter attack on his beloved art gave the occasion for Vondel's famous vindication of the drama in his proem to the "Lucifer."

He also wrote two biting satirical poems, "The Passing of Orpheus," and the "Rivalry of Apollo and Pan," both of which were full of humorous raillery and of sarcastic allusions to the round-heads in general and to Wittewrongel in particular.

The force of the "Lucifer" as a picture of the age, of the nation, and of the world, was instantly felt. It was a classic from the day of its birth; and from that time to this it has easily maintained its position as the grandest poem of the language.

The costly and artistic scenic heavens especially prepared for the "Lucifer" were, now that the play was forbidden, stored away as useless—a great loss to the managers of the theatre. Vondel accordingly wrote his excellent tragedy "Salmoneus," founded upon the classic story of the Jove-defying King of Elis, in which this scene, as an imitated heaven, could also be used.

His "Psalms of David," in various metres, was his next venture. These he dedicated to Queen Christina of Sweden, who, like the poet himself, was a proselyte to the Catholic faith, lie also honored her with a panegyric, in return for which the queen sent him a golden locket and chain.

In 1657 we find the poet making another journey to Denmark, where he went to fulfil the unpleasant duty of paying his son's debts. In Denmark he was the recipient of considerable attention, and while there his portrait was painted by the celebrated Dutch artist Karl van Mander, who was painter to the Danish court.


Soon after his return to Amsterdam, the great poet who had celebrated so many distinguished personages, and who had become the pride of his nation, was, by the bankruptcy of his profligate son, brought to the very verge of poverty.

Besides the little Constantine, whose early death we have elsewhere recorded, the poet had three children: one son, Justus, and two daughters, Sarah and Anna. Sarah died in childhood, and Anna, who was said to resemble her father both in intellect and in appearance, lived with him, and was ever a loving and devoted daughter. The son, "Joost," was both stupid and dissolute. His ignorance was so great that, when some one spoke of his father's tragedy, "Joseph in Egypt," he inquired if Joseph was not also a Catholic. During the life of his first wife, a woman of some force, this unworthy son of a distinguished sire kept within due bounds. Shortly after her death, however, he was united to a shallow spendthrift with whom he wasted his substance in riotous living, while the shop, of course, was neglected; and the business, in consequence, soon ruined.

At this the old man was so grieved that, with his daughter, who was yet with him, he moved away to another part of the city.

Here he was many times heard to say, "Had I not the comfort and the quickening of the Psalms"—of which at that time he was making his version—"I should die in my misery." He often also said to his friends, "Name no child by your own name; for if he should not turn out well it is forever branded."

In the meantime the son went from bad to worse. He squandered not only all of his own property, but also much that had been intrusted into his hands by others.

He stood on the point of bankruptcy, with the penalty of imprisonment staring him in the face, when his father, with a keen sense of honor and of family pride, satisfied all creditors by the sacrifice of his own snug little fortune of forty thousand guldens, the savings of half a century.

Friends of the family advised the erring son to go to the Dutch Colonies in the East Indies, there to begin life anew. But he obstinately refused even to listen to such a proposition, and continued his wild career unchecked. The unhappy father was finally compelled to ask the Burgomaster of the city to use the gentle compulsion of the law, which was done.

There are few sadder pictures in the history of letters than that of the old gray-haired poet, bowed down with this greatest of all griefs, the heart-crushing realization of being the parent of ungrateful and criminal offspring, standing on the quay, and bidding, with bitter agony, his unfeeling child a last farewell. We imagine the tear-bedimmed eyes of the heart-broken father straining for one more glimpse of the unworthy but yet beloved son, who, in the far horizon, was perhaps even then carelessly walking the deck of the departing ship, meditating some new and disgraceful profligacy upon his arrival in India. Fortunately he died on the journey, and the poet was doubtless spared much suffering. Too bitterly had Vondel learned, even as Lear, "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"

Of Vondel's fortune nothing remained save the portion that his daughter Anna had inherited from her mother, which was, however, by no means sufficient to support them both. What was to be done? All that the old man could do was to write verses—an art which as an income-producer was well characterized by Ovid's father: "Sæpe pater dixit: Studium quid inutile tentas? Mæonides millas ipse reliquit opes."

Although the poet, in his pride, did not let his want become known, some of his friends who knew the state of affairs secured him a position as clerk in the Bank of Loan at a salary of six hundred and fifty guldens a year. Thus the greatest Dutchman of the age and the most illustrious poet of his country was compelled, after a life of comparative leisure and comfort, at the age of seventy, to earn his living by the sweat of his brow, forced to engage in a labor which to him must have been peculiarly irksome.

The pen, which had been accustomed to the soaring style of tragedy was now chained to the dreary monotony of the ledger; the quill that had so often stung a nation to the quick was now tamely employed in the prosaic balance of debit and credit.

It is said that the poet, however, found it impossible to restrain his muse entirely, and that he sometimes mounted his Pegasus even in the dull interior of the counting-room; for he employed his leisure moments—let us hope there were many—in writing verses.

It has been said, too, that he was reprimanded for this by his employers; but of this there is no proof whatever.

Indeed, Brandt goes out of his way to say that this was overlooked on account of his age, and because he was a poet, and could therefore not be expected to pay such strict attention to business.

It would be easy enough to indulge in a little sympathetic bathos here. The poet's fate was indeed a hard one. Yet his salary, small enough, it is true, when we consider the man and his career, was not the beggarly pittance that the same amount would be now. Six hundred and fifty guldens in the Holland of that day would be equivalent to at least three thousand guldens in the nineteenth-century Amsterdam, or a salary of twenty-five hundred dollars in New York.

Furthermore, this was the only hard mercantile work that the poet ever did. The ten years of drudgery in his old age compensated for a life-time of leisure and literary retirement; for after his marriage at twenty-six, the poet hosier wisely left his business affairs in the hands of his energetic and trustworthy wife. Soon after her death the business devolved on "Joost" the younger, with the disastrous results already narrated.

At the age of eighty the old bard was given an honorable discharge, with full pay, the circumstances of which were not without pathos. When told that he was discharged, and that another had been found to take his place, the poet was dumbfounded and became very sad. But when he learned that his discharge was an honorable one, with a pension, the heaviness left him, and he seemed greatly pleased.

Never, however, was Vondel so near the brow of Parnassus as during these ten bitter years. For this is the period of his greatest literary activity. It was then that his genius ripened into its full maturity.

Among other works produced during this decade were his "Jephtha," a tragedy, with which he himself was much pleased, as fulfilling every requirement of the classic drama; his metrical translations of the "Œdipus Rex," "Iphigenia in Tauris," and the "Trachiniæ;" of Sophocles; the tragedies, "David in Exile" and "David Restored," allegories in which the exile and the restoration of Charles II. were clearly set forth; "Adonis," "Batavian Brothers," "Faeton," and "Zungchin, or, the Fall of the Chinese Empire." Of special interest also, and of unusual literary merit, is his tragedy, "Samson," which, even as Milton's "Samson Agonistes," was perhaps more largely biographical than any other of his poems. The points of similarity between this drama and Milton's tragedy also are many and remarkable.

But the two most important tragedies of this period were his "Adam in Exile" and the "Noah," which together with the "Lucifer" form a grand trilogy. The "Adam," especially, only less sublime than the latter, has more of idyllic beauty, and as a whole is scarcely inferior in power. Here, too, the choruses blend with the action, and are unsurpassed for melody, sweetness, and tenderness, proclaiming their author as the foremost lyrist of his nation.


Vondel was the author of no less than thirty-three tragedies. Only eighteen of these, however, were presented on the stage. Some were deemed objectionable on account of their Biblical subject matter; others because of their leaning towards Catholicism.

The dramatist also suffered from the jealousy of his rivals. One of these, Jan Vos, was one of the managers of the theatre, and attempted to make Vondel's plays unpopular by assigning the most important rôles to inferior players, and also by using old and worn-out costumes. No wonder, then, that the sweeping tragedies of this master spirit began to lose favor with the masses, and that the translations of the French and Spanish plays that now flooded the country, with their extravagant scenery and their flashy innovations, usurped their place.

A few years before his death, Vondel paid a visit to the town of his birth, Cologne, and there saw the very house where he was born. With a poet's whim he climbed into the old wall bedstead in which he was brought into the world, which, of course, also furnished inspiration for a poem.

Brief mention must also be made of Vondel's last religious poems. His sublime "Reflections on God and Religion," which was written in opposition to the Epicurean and Lucretian philosophy of Descartes; his "John, the Messenger of Repentance," which glows with all the fervor and the grandeur of the Apocalypse; his "Glory of the Church," a work as learned as it was elevated, which shows the rise and progress of the Mother Church, would alone be sufficient to entitle Vondel to be considered as one of the great religious poets of the world, and perhaps the most powerful champion of Catholicism that ever entered the lists of controversy.

At the age of eighty-four, Vondel translated Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and also wrote a great number of poems of all kinds—epigrams, lyrics, letters, lampoons, dedications, eulogies, threnodies, hymns, epithalamiums, riddles, and epitaphs—in all of which his pen, sharpened by the practice of nearly three-fourths of a century, excelled.

To the last the aged poet preserved his intense satiric vein. The fire of his spirit burned as fiercely now as in the days of his youth. One of the last poems written by those aged fingers was his noble elegy on the distinguished brothers De Witt, who, in 1672, were assassinated in The Hague by a frenzied mob.

His last production was an epithalamium on the marriage of his favorite niece, Agnes Blok. He was then eighty-seven years old. His physician having cautioned him to rest his brain, he now bade the Muses, whom he had known so long, and whom he had found so sweet a comfort in his hours of sorrow, an eternal farewell.

His health, however, remained good until a few days before his death. His legs first showed signs of weakness, and refused longer to support him. His memory also failed him, and he would often stop still in the midst of a sentence. When he was made aware of this, he was somewhat distressed, for his judgment remained unimpaired to the last, saying, "I am no longer capable of carrying on a conversation with my friends."

Brandt, to whom we are indebted for most of these interesting particulars concerning Vondel, and other friends cheered his last days with their visits. The poet, who now spent most of his waking hours by the cheerful blaze of his hearth, seemed to appreciate this very highly, and whenever they were about to leave, would tell them good-by with a hearty pressure of the hand. Here, too, came Antonides, that brilliant young poet, so untimely cut off, and the painter, Philip de Koning, both of whom the old bard admired greatly.

When in his ninetieth year he had himself taken to the houses of the two Burgomasters of the city, whom with broken words he begged to provide for his grandson Justus, who bore his name, and whose prospects, on account of his father's profligacy and his grandfather's poverty, were anything but promising. The city fathers comforted the poor old man with good words, and he returned to his corner by the hearth, never again to leave it alive.

"Old age," says Brandt, "was now his illness; the oil was lacking; the fire must go out." His limbs became cold and refused to be warmed. Referring to this a few days before his death, he remarked to Brandt, with a humorous twinkle in his large brown eyes: "You might give me this epitaph:

"Here in peace lies Vondel old;
He died because he was so cold."

This was the old poet's last rhyme, surely an humble one for him whose lofty imagery and sublime conceptions are the wonder of his countrymen. He also said to his niece, Agnes Blok, "I do not long for death." She asked, "Do you not long for eternal life?" He replied: "Aye, I do long for that; but, like Elijah, I would fain fly thither." Though now he also began to say: "Pray for me that God will take me out of this life." And when those standing around his bedside asked: "Are you ready now for the terrible messenger to come?" he replied, "Aye, let him come; for, even though I wait longer, Elijah's chariot will not descend. I shall have to go in at the common gate."

After an illness of only eight days, on February 5, 1679, about half-past four in the morning, the old bard fell asleep. He seemed to be wholly free from pain, and died so softly that the friends who stood around his bedside scarcely observed it.

Vondel was aged ninety-one years, two months, and nineteen days. He was nearly double the age of the world's greatest dramatist, was seventeen years older than Euripides, and just as old as Sophocles.

Three days after his death he was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk—the Church of St. Catherine—at Amsterdam, not far from the choir. Fourteen poets were the pall-bearers who carried the great master to his last resting-place. Around his grave were the tombs of most of his literary friends of former years. Here lay Hooft and Barlæus and Tesselschade. Here, too, was the tomb of the noble de Ruyter, his country's most illustrious naval hero. Here, among this company of distinguished dead, among these sculptured busts and mediæval effigies, these monumental tombs and glorious cenotaphs, this greatest of all Hollanders was buried in a simple grave, unmarked by even an epitaph. Three years afterwards Joan Six, one of the Aldermen of the city, had the following time-verse (which gives the year of his death) engraved upon the stone:

VI                       MV  I              V   V     D  LIV     IC
6                       1005 1              5     5    500 5015   1100

Shortly after his decease, Antonides, Vollenhove, and others of the younger poets also honored him with eulogies as the first poet of his age. To the pall-bearers a medallion was given, on one side of which was the image of the poet; on the other, a singing swan, with the year of Vondel's birth and death, and the inscription: "The oldest and greatest poet."


Vondel was of medium height, with a figure well made and compact. His countenance was one of remarkable intelligence, and was characterized by an expression at once earnest and exalted.

In early life his face was pale and thin, but later, after the disappearance of his strange malady, it became broad and full, and of a healthful color, with glowing red cheeks. His forehead, not too high, was broad and commanding, a fit arsenal for those thunderbolts of invective that he knew so well how to employ. One of his eyebrows was slightly higher than the other. Beneath them glowed two deep brown eyes, large and penetrating—eagle eyes, full of fire, as if, naïvely says his biographer, "he had satires in his head." His nose was sensitive and somewhat large; his mouth of medium size, with rather thin lips. He usually wore his hair short, his ears only half covered. On his chin grew a small pointed beard, in early manhood a dark brown, later white with age. Altogether a figure striking and noble, if not grand and imposing—one that long acquaintance would only render the more impressive, for it was stamped with character. Thus the outward man! Would you learn the stature of his soul? Read his magnificent works.

Strange to say, he who was so full of thought and spirit in his writings was still and silent in the presence of others. Once when dining with Grotius, Vossius, and Barlæus—the three most learned men of the age—it is related that during the course of the whole meal the poet said not one word. He was usually grave and taciturn. When he did speak, however, he was intense and pointed.

He was ever modest in his deportment and temperate in his habits. Though living in an age of good fellowship and of royal tippling, when post-prandial drunkenness was the rule rather than the exception, he was never known to have indulged to excess. Like Dante, Milton, and Petrarch, furthermore, his private life was pure. Not one accuser ever threw mud at its whiteness.

His clothes, though in the fashion and in good taste, were always plain and unassuming. He enjoyed the society of artists and men of letters, learning, and judgment. He was extremely popular among his relatives, which speaks well for his heart, and is surely a good index to his true character.

Vondel was a true friend, and was ever ready to prove his devotion, if need be, by the sacrifice of blood and treasure. Such a romantic attachment as that of Dante for Beatrice was doubtless unknown to our poet. His was the more natural ardor of a deep-seated affection. Yet he had the capacity for suffering so characteristic of genius. We know that, like William III., he was profoundly affected by the death of his wife. For several years, indeed, he was in such a melancholy that his thoughts fell still-born from his pen. He wrote little, and destroyed all that he wrote. Life had lost all charms for him. He was, however, awakened from this reverie of sorrow by the bugle blast of war; and only in the roar of the conflict did he forget the sting of grief.

Vondel was in no sense a theologian, and had no patience with hair-splitting distinctions. Though a fervid Catholic, his toleration is shown by his remark that he would not "sit in the Inquisition as a judge of anyone's life."

"There were some hot-headed Papists," he said, "who persecuted the pious of other creeds. It is also true that the Papists of all time have sought to rule the consciences of men. However, some reformers are lately following in their footsteps." In regard to the wonderful legends of the early Church, he remarked that they were "monkish fables written in the dark ages for the ignorant people." That his Catholicism had not lessened his love for freedom or for his country his later poems bear excellent witness.

Though by his bitter lampoons and severe invective he had made many enemies during the course of his long career, yet his popularity is seen in the fact that his memory was honored by men of all creeds and parties. The Jesuits of Antwerp placed his portrait in their cloister among the most illustrious men of ancient and modern times.

He had gathered no riches with his poetry. On the contrary, his losses were far greater than his gains. The most costly gift ever given him was the golden locket and chain from her majesty Queen Christina of Sweden. This present was worth about two hundred dollars. Amelia von Solms, the widow of Frederic Henry, also honored him with a gold medal for a poem on the marriage of her daughter, the Princess Henrietta. For his ode on the dedication of the new Stadthuis, the authorities of Amsterdam honored him with a silver cup. The visiting Elector of one of the German States gave him, for some verses in his honor, "a small sixteen guldens." For his eulogy in honor of the Archbishop of Cologne, the city fathers allowed him thirty guldens.

His daughter Anna, dying before him, willed him her portion, which, with his pension, proved amply sufficient for his maintenance.

A few months before his death he had willed all of his books to a certain priest. Thinking that if they remained with him he might injure his feeble health by reading, he allowed them to be taken away. Afterwards, however, he bitterly regretted this, and, with tears in his eyes, complained to one of his friends that all of his treasures had been stolen, and that now nothing was left him.

In his youth his motto was: "Love conquers all things." Later he signed his productions with the word "Zeal," or "Justice"—the last a play on his name; sometimes, also, with the letters P.L., meaning pro libertate, or with the initials P.V.K.—"Palamedes of Kologne." In some of his works was to be seen a picture of David playing a harp, with the device "Justus fide vivit," to which, of course, could be given a double meaning: "The just man lives by faith," or "Justus lives by his lyre."

Vondel's diligence was phenomenal. Once he remarked in a letter to a friend that the height of Parnassus can only be attained by much panting and sweat, and that attention and exercise sharpen the intellect. The multitude and the excellence of his works prove the worth of his philosophy.

His thirst for knowledge was extraordinary, and he left few corners of that vast field unfilled. To learn the best expressions for each trade and profession he was wont to question all kinds and conditions of men in regard to the words that they used in their trade or calling. Farmers, carpenters, masons, artists, men of every business and profession added to his vocabulary. He thus built up the language, and himself attained a thorough mastery over his native tongue; one never equalled by any of his countrymen, with the possible exception of the poet Bilderdÿk.

He was, moreover, always ready to receive suggestions in regard to his own productions, and often read them to his friends to obtain the benefit of their criticism. This, however, was more true of his translations than of his originals. He took much pleasure, also, in praising the work of others, especially that of the younger poets.

That he was an excellent critic is shown by his prose essays, though he was too impressionable to beauty to be very severe. He was exceedingly modest in regard to his own powers. He considered Hooft the foremost among the Dutch writers of his age, not only on account of his sweet lyrics and stately tragedies, but also because of his historical works.

Constantine Huyghens he praised for his liveliness and fancy, his subtlety, and his wonderful versatility. He also thought highly of Anslo and de Dekker, and particularly of those two young giants, Vollenhove and Antonides. In "The Y Stream" of the latter he saw extraordinary promise, and he thenceforth called the younger poet his son, and was always most tender and fatherly towards him, taking much delight in his company. Of Vollenhove's "Triumph of Christ," he said: "There is a great light in that man, but it is a pity that he is a clergyman." Brandt he called "a good epigrammatist."


Art to Vondel was a revelation of the divine in man, and therefore the best promoter of virtue. Hence his passion for poetry, and his admiration for painting, music, and architecture. How fitting that he who sang the union of the arts:

"Blithe Poesy and Painting fair,
Two sisters debonair,"

should be crowned "king of the feast" by a company of fellow artists!

Vondel was the painter's poet. He wrote numerous inscriptions for paintings. He praises Raphael, Veronese, Titian, Bassano, Giulo Romano, Lastman, Sandrart, Goltzius (the etcher), and Rubens. He apparently preferred the idealists of the Italian school, for he says but little about the realists of the day, Steen, Ostade, Brouwer, and Teniers; nor even concerning those who copied nature like Douw, De Hoogh, and Mutsu. The great Rembrandt he names but twice. In one place he speaks of the portrait of Cornelis Anslo, of which he tamely says, "The visible part is the least of him, and who would see Anslo must hear him." He seems to have been more impressed by the fine portrait of Anna Wymers, for he says: "Anna seems to be alive." Elsewhere, however, he speaks of "the night-owl, who hides himself from the day in his shadows of cobweb;" which is thought to be a covert reference to that magnificent study in chiaroscuro, Rembrandt's "Night Patrol." It is certain, however, that he did not realize the powerful genius of Holland's greatest artist.

Vondel, the admirer of the Italian classics, with their delicacy and regularity, probably could not appreciate the revolutionary splendors of this great magician. Nor is there any evidence to show that any friendship existed between these two men, each the undying glory of his country. And yet in some respects the poet and the painter were strikingly alike. Both were masters of style, and grandly daring and original. Both were in the highest sense creative, and dealt in tremendous effects, soaring from mountain-top of grandeur into the heaven of the sublime. Each was comprehensive and universal; each was a personified mood of his nation and the maker of an epoch. Each suffered poverty in old age.

Yet in one respect the painter had the advantage over the poet. He spoke the universal language of the eye, and thus his message has reached millions who were deaf to his tongue. The political obscurity, on the other hand, into which little Holland was plunged so soon after the meteoric blaze of her brief ascendancy, confined her language to her narrow territory; and Vondel, equally worthy with Rembrandt of the admiration of the world, became a sealed book save to his countrymen. The former, however, was the very life of his time, its recognized voice; the latter was in his life neglected, to become after his death the most illustrious of his race, a name to conjure an age out of obscurity.

Rubens, on the other hand, the poet fully appreciated. In the dedication of his drama, "The Brothers," 1639, he calls the great Fleming "the glory among the pencils of our age."

Music, we know, had a powerful fascination for our poet. He himself played the lute, while his poetry throbs with the very heart of melody. How lovingly he speaks of the divine art of song, that "charms the soul out of the body, filling it with rare delight—a foretaste of the bliss of the angels"!

How keen must have been his enjoyment when at Muiden he heard the lovely singers of that age—the gifted Tesselschade on her guitar, or the talented harpist, Christina van Erp; or when in his home in the Warmoesstraat he heard the patriotic chimes of his beloved city pealing the lingering hours into oblivion! How profoundly, too, must his deep, earnest soul have been stirred by the grandeur of the Psalms, rising on the wings of Zweling's noble melodies to the vaulted arches of the old cathedral where he was wont to worship!


The attitude of a poet toward nature is always of peculiar and absorbing interest. Is it because she is the perpetual fount of ideals, because of her voiceless sympathy with his ever-changing mood, or because her grandeur and loveliness have power to move the deeps of his soul? However it be, the poets have almost without exception found her the source of their inspiration.

Into her rude confessional they pour the unreserved tale of sorrows that no man can understand; and she gently whispers peace. At her feet they lay the guilty story of a soul; the love, the passions of a heart; the joys, the pains, the riotous thoughts of life; and she gently whispers peace. And here, too, Vondel opened his heart, and here he also obtained comfort for the vexing ills of life.

It has been said that man's appreciation of the beauties of nature is proportioned to the degree of his cultivation. In the ruder ages in Holland, as in Germany, the mysterious forces of the physical world and their various manifestations became personified in the good and bad genii of the Teutonic mythology. In proportion as the worship of these genii ceased, nature became appreciated for its own sake. It had first to be divested of the fear-inspiring supernatural. To this Christianity and the accumulating discoveries in science largely contributed.

Karel van Mander first introduced this feeling into painting; and Hendrik Spieghel, into literature. And then came Hooft and Vondel, who in this respect, as in all else, stood far above their contemporaries.

Vondel's enjoyment of nature is not so keen as that of Hooft, but it is far deeper and stronger, and grew steadily to the end of his life. Now and then his descriptions remind one of the brooding landscapes of the "melancholy Ruysdael;" at other times of the creations of Lingelbach and Pynacker, in those striking scenes where Dutch realism and Italian fancy are oddly combined.

Under the influence of Seneca and Du Bartas, according to the artificial fashion of the day, he at first employed high-sounding mythological names as symbols for the things themselves; but he soon outgrew this classical affectation. Already in his "Palamedes," especially in the chorus of "Eubeers," is this feeling for nature apparent. This charming bucolic is the picture of a Dutch landscape. Elsewhere we have mentioned its resemblance to the "L'Allegro" of Milton.

Like the bard of Avon, our poet saw but little of the world. Twice he made a business trip to Denmark, and shortly before his death he paid a visit to Cologne. In addition to this, he made several inland journeys—one to the Gooi:

"Where the grand oak so thickly grows
Beyond rich fields, where buckwheat glows."

To Vondel truly "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." All of his poems, particularly the "Lucifer," are studded with figures of the stars.

The poet drew many of his figures, too, from animal life, as the beasts and the birds in the sustained Virgilian similes in the "Lucifer." What can be more exquisite, also, than his verses on the tame sparrow of the lovely Susanne Bartelot, in the style of the "Passer, deliciæ suæ puellæ" of Catullus?

The north wind he calls "a winter-bird, so cold and rough." The spring is his delight. He is glad when he sees men busy fishing, planting, and hunting, and engaged in all manner of bucolic occupations. In the Norway pines unloaded on the River Y, he sees a forest of masts from which the tricolor of his dear country will be unfurled in every clime.

Would you know his capacity for aesthetic symbolism? Read his superb ode to the Rhine.

Flowers were to him the beautiful symbols of equally beautiful moral truths. What a world of pathos in his voice where he says of Mary Queen of Scots:

"O! Roman Rose, cut from her bleeding stem!"

And where he speaks of the mournful rosemary in the death-wreath of his little daughter Saartje! For little Maria, his darling grand-child, he wishes "a winding sheet of flowers—of violets white and red and purple, blue and yellow." In the garlands of his fancy he ever weaves the blooms of his delight, lilies, violets, roses—white and red—and his national flower, the glorious tulip.

He loved the open heaven and the airy freedom of solitude. "The welkin wide is mine," he says, and like a wild bird adds, "and mine the open sky." He loved the woods, where his ears were caressed by "the blithe echoes of the careless birds."

Long before Shelley he sang of the lark, "wiens keeltje steiltjes steigert" ("whose throat so steeply soars"). Long before Keats he was thrilled by the deep-toned nightingale.

"The shrill-voiced nightingale,
Who at thy casement bower
Pours out his breathless tale,"

reminds him of the questioning soul at the window of eternity," peering through panes on darkness unconfined." Then, again, he likens himself to a nightingale, caged for days in the mournful cold, that bursts into a rapturous melody to see the warm sun melt away the gloom.

His soul communed with nature in her deepest and quietest moods. The peaceful meadow, the calm beauty of the woods, the forest-crowned mountains, the tumultuous sea were all the themes of his song.

Though his feeling for nature was not so fine nor so intense as that of some of the later poets, yet it was deeper and truer. In the world around him he saw but a reflection of the grander world beyond.

Nor was the pantheistic conception strange to him. See the first chorus of the "Lucifer," where he calls God "the soul of all we can conceive;" and the second act, where he speaks of:

"——the farthest rounds
And endless circles of eternity,
That, from the bounds of time and space set free,
Revolve unceasingly around one God,
Who is their centre and circumference.

How like the pantheism of Spinoza, first proclaimed some years later!


Would you know him as a patriot? Hear his splendid tones of jubilation over the victory of his countrymen—a victory where truth and freedom triumphed. Hear his fine odes celebrating the commerce and the progress of the growing commonwealth. Listen to his bursts of patriotism in his "Orange May Song," and where he calls the ancient Greek sea-galleys, "child's play beside ours."

Vondel was a representative Dutchman, and there was a strong national stamp on all that he did. He was a grand type of the burgher of the great Dutch middle class, which has ever been the glory of the Netherlands, and which has given to the world such an illustrious array of soldiers, painters, scholars, poets, and statesmen. In reading him we are continually reminded that we are in the land of dykes and windmills. Thus all of his heroes are invested with Holland dignities. We hear of burghers, burgomasters, and stadtholders; of the dunes, the sea, the dams, the strand, and the green, fertile meadows. Wherever the scene of the play, we always recognize the streets, the canals, the houses, the palaces, and the environs of Amsterdam. This was not due to a lack of historical information, as was the case with Shakespeare, but because the poet desired to bring the truth closer to the hearts of his hearers. The fact, too, that this made the scenic requirements of a play considerably less, thus reducing the expense of presentation, might also have had some influence.

Vondel, furthermore, when representing the past, never forgot the present. It was ever before his eyes. Hence many of his plays were political allegories, and were significant for their bearing upon the time.

The one universal characterization of all of his work, one that glows in every poem, is his love of freedom—the ruling passion of his countrymen. Already in the "Passover "—his first tragedy, written at the age of twenty-six—we hear his cry, "O! sweetest freedom." Soon afterwards, in his lyrics and in "Palamedes," he showed his strong sympathy with Oldenbarneveldt; and during the bitter persecution that followed, when he was forced to fly like a hunted beast from house to house, this spirit grew by the opposition that it fed upon into a fierce blaze, only quenched by death.

Like the Father of Tuscan literature, his thoughts were ever attuned to the spirit of his age. Like Dante, too, he was ever in the heart of the battle. Like him, also, he was not worldly wise, and was naturally of a rebellious temperament. He was himself in perpetual revolt. This was due, however, not to a saturnine disposition, but to a keen sense of justice, and to the idealism of a lofty, cultivated mind. To compel the age to conform to the measure of his own conceptions he often found procrustean methods necessary. Hence his stern aggressiveness against wrong.

He fain would have sat apart in silent contemplation, but he was destined to know neither the Olympic calm of Goethe, nor the sublime serenity of Shakespeare. "The life of the day, like an octopus, grasped him and would not let him go." He drank in the wine of freedom, and his soul was filled with the hunger of strife. His cry now became a battle-cry. Wherever he saw wrong and injustice—and his eyes were ever open—he donned his armor and dealt crushing blows for the cause of the oppressed. Earnest, still, and passionate, great of soul and impressionable of heart, the poet was a born fighter. His whole life was a polemic against tyranny.

His dear fatherland was the alpha and omega of his inspiration, and he was, perhaps, the first Dutchman who deeply felt the consciousness of national power. The next object of his soul's affection was his city, Amsterdam, whose glories he never grew tired of singing. His characterization:

"The town of commerce, Amsterdam,
Known round the circle of the globe,"

might not improperly be reflected upon its new and yet more powerful namesake in the New World, of whose grandeur he might well be deemed the prophet, when, in his "Gysbrecht," with patriotic eloquence he pictures the Amsterdam of the coming centuries. What though the ruling trident has departed from the "Venice of the North," her peerless daughter, far across the seas, yet holds triumphant sway!

In his fiery patriotism Vondel much reminds us of Milton. He also was at heart a zealous republican, though he had a Christian's unshaken reverence for the anointed kings of earth, and for what he thought a God-constituted authority. Hence the "Lucifer," and his relentless opposition to the regicides of England and to Cromwell, "that murderer without God and shame, who dared to desecrate and to assault the Lord's anointed," as he says bitterly in one of his polemics.

Like the great Englishman, the Hollander was also a good hater; and he never spared what he hated. Though charitable, he was uncompromising, and forgave not easily; always, however, deprecating the excesses of the "root and branch" zealots of his own party. Just as Milton, after having joined the Presbyterians, forsook them when they in turn began to persecute the followers of other creeds, so, too, Vondel left the Remonstrants when they crossed the jealous line of freedom.

We are indeed inclined to believe that his strongest trait was his love of justice, which caused him to oppose tyranny under every guise, and to stigmatize the faults of his own church and party with expletives as crushing as those that he hurled against his enemies.

Thus his hatred of the Catholic Spaniards and of the Dutch Gomarists. The bloody persecution of the one was in his eyes no worse than the oppressive hypocrisy of the other. Even his beloved House of Orange drew from him the bitterest opposition when, in Prince Maurice and in William II., it threatened the liberty of his country and the privileges of his beloved Amsterdam. Of him it may truly be said that his eyes were never blinded by party prejudice.

Milton, in an immortal sonnet, blew a trumpet-blast of vengeance for the slaughtered Piedmontese. Why was that trumpet silent w hen his own party perpetrated a similar massacre at Drogheda? Vondel was, indeed, far more magnanimous than his great English contemporary. He had more of "the milk of human kindness."

How strong is our poet's admiration for the founders of the Republic, the fathers of the "golden age," and for that grand race of intrepid discoverers, pioneers, and explorers that pierced every corner of the globe! How, too, flames his soul with pride, when he recounts the brave deeds of those old sea-lions, Tromp and de Ruyter, and their fearless companions, in the fierce battle against the growing English supremacy! Not one of those heroes whom he did not crown with the wreath of an immortal eulogy!

Yet Vondel, even as Dante, was at heart a man of peace. Like his countrymen, he never sought the fray; but when battle was forced upon him, it meant a fight to the death. All his fighting was for peace. In one of his poems he speaks of peace as:

"A treasure—Ah! its worth unknown,
Surpassing far a triumph in renown."

Elsewhere he says, "The olive more than laurel pleases me." He never forgot the high seriousness of his mission. He never lost sight of the dignity of Christian manhood.

Vondel was in a large sense also the poet of Christendom; a crusader, with his face ever towards the New Jerusalem, throned in ethereal splendors. He felt himself a member of that large Christian alliance that Henry IV. wished to found as a barrier against the encroachments of the Turk, the arch-foe of Christendom.

"He comes—the Turk! We stand with winged arms,"

he shouts in one of his poems. Yet he never forgot to pray, also, that the erring ones, both Jew and Gentile, might be brought into the fold of the "true Church."


Of particular interest are the views of so old and so profound a seer on life; for every poet has his scheme of life. What men call genius is, indeed, only the faculty of seeing life through the prism of a temperament, and the poets are preëminently the men of temperament. Vondel, with his earnest, sincere nature, out of the bewildering chaos of his environment soon evolved his own philosophy of existence. "Life, that sad tragedy," the youthful poet calls it in his "Passover." To him already life was a passing pageant, and man, an exile. His epitome of the world's history, moreover, is not unlike the celebrated epigram of Rhÿnvis Feith, another Dutch poet:

"Man, like a withered leaf, falls in oblivion's wave.
We are, and fade away—the cradle and the grave;
Between them flits a dream, a drama of the heart;
Smart yields his place to Joy, and Joy again to Smart;
The monarch mounts his throne; the slave bows to the floor;
Death breathes upon the scene—the players are no more."

His gaze, like Milton's, was ever upward, through the prison-bars of time, into the unconfined vast of eternity. His tone, too, was most glorious when singing "celestial things."

How like the voice of a Hebrew prophet his note of warning, where he cries:

"Batavians, repent;
Think of Tyre and Sidon.
Repent as the Ninevites!
O! mourn your sins!"

And after all this painful revelry of life, this lust of action, and the battle's roar, it is a "haven sweet and still" that his earth-tormented soul longs for. How softly he whispers after his fiery trumpet tones are done:

"O! help me, O my God, to give my life to thee,
My fragile self, my will, my little all. Let me,
O thou beyond compare! O source of everything!
In praises rich and deep thy matchless glory sing!"

In the pensive twilight of old age, he grew more and more conscious of the true everlasting, and his patriotism became the all-embracing one of the "fatherland above." He now began to look forward with child-like faith to the revelations of the resurrection, though not forgetting that:

"The infant of eternity
Must first be cradled in the tomb;"

but believing that from the cerements of mystery shall break a light to lead the soul to heaven.


Vondel, to an extraordinary degree, possessed that keen insight into human nature which is the first requisite of the great satirist. He was the Juvenal of his time. Though his wit is never delicate nor keen, it is, however, sweeping and irresistible. His was no gentle zephyr of irony to tickle the tender cuticle of a supersensitive age, but a very cyclone of mockery to laugh a thick-skinned generation out of folly.

His poetry is ever the instrument of exaltation; and though in its condemnation of evil it often by its directness and frankness gives some offense to the delicate edge of our modern refinement, it is never indecently coarse; it is never a pander to vice.

Indignation more intense, scorn more contemptuous, satire more powerful, invective more tremendous than that glowing in the polemics of this great satirist have never struck fear into the hardened hearts of the wicked. Few men have been so hated; few have been so loved.

Yet the sublime is the true field of this poet, and sublimer thoughts than his were surely never spoken. The grandeur of Job, the glory of the Psalms, and the splendor of the Apocalypse are all to be found in his magnificent Biblical tragedies, that noble series commencing with the "Jerusalem Desolate" of his untried youth, and ending with the "Noah" of his octogenarian ripeness.

The influence of the Bible on his art was prodigious. The Holy Writ was the inexhaustible quarry from which he hewed his master, pieces; throughout whose development may be traced the growth of a human soul. See his paraphrase of the Psalms, if you would know his enjoyment of the serene beauty of holiness.

The artistic truth of all his creations is seen in their elemental objectivity—the portrayal by vivid flashes of feeling and by artful representation of the ever-during and imperishable. In most of his dramas is the sublimity of Æschylus with the fine proportion and the directness of Sophocles. In others, as in the "Leeuwendalers," where he sings the triumph of peace, is the sweetness and the feminine strength of Euripides.

Of Vondel it has truly been said: "Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit;" for to beauty—

"God's handmaid, Beauty,
Whose touch rounds
A dew-drop or a world"—

he ever paid the incense of a passionate devotion.

"Æschylus does right without knowing it," said Sophocles; even so Vondel possessed an unerring instinct for the true; ever stringing the jewelled beads of fancy on the golden thread of truth.

Like Æschylus, too, he was at heart a lyric poet; yet who shall say that in his character delineation, in the sweeping energy of his action, and in the management of his plot, he was not almost equally as admirable?

Like Dryden, Vondel rose very slowly to the stature of his full power. All of his dramas preceding the "Lucifer" show this gradual development; all of those that come later maintain the same standard of excellence.

Like Goethe, the Dutch poet exerted an ennobling influence on the theatre of his country. Like Dante, he was fond of a strong, bold outline, and always chose a direct rather than a circuitous route. Like Shakespeare, he was a keen observer of affairs, a student of life. His works are the rimed chronicles of his age. His was a transcendent genius, not oppressed by excessive culture, and with the creative ever the ruling instinct. To him poetry was the divinest of the arts. It became the ritual of his soul's worship; duty, beauty, and religion were the three strings on his melodious lyre.

His works abound in little scholasticism. Pedantry and affectation were his abomination; pith and vigor, directness and comprehensiveness, the radical elements of his strength. In his works we find a harvest of such glorious themes as store the granary of poet minds; we see everywhere evidences of power. We are ever startled by:

"The lightning flash of an immortal thought,
The rolling thunder of a mighty line."

Vondel's similes are more striking than his metaphors; there is a sustained glow in his imagery. In this respect, also, he shows the Oriental bent of his genius. This is furthermore seen in his personification of the elements of nature and of the stars and constellations, as in the "Lucifer," which gives a barbaric splendor to the play. Few poets, indeed, in any literature, contain such splendid and elevated images.

He, too, could woo discordant sounds to harmony, and wove the consonantal Dutch into mellow meshes of ensnaring sound. A nobleness not devoid of grace, a sublimity not austere, but warm with human sympathy; a manner more remarkable for chaste strength and a rugged symmetry of form than for delicacy or elegance—these are some of the characteristics of his style.

Not for him the sweet felicities of the mincing phraser or the dreamy languors of the riming troubadour. Not for him the gaysome zephyr or the dim, romantic moon. He is ever on the serene altitude of lofty contemplation, or in the valley, battling like a god. He is always deeply serious. He is everywhere sincere. His is the whirlwind and the storm; the noonday glare and the midnight gloom. His is the eagle's bold, epic flight and the lark's wild, lyric soar. No nightingale of sentiment trills her dulcet serenade amid the forest of his song. And yet who can be more tender and affecting, who more truly, softly sweet? All is virile; nothing is effeminate. All is manly, healthful, pure. There is no morbid fever of a brain diseased and foul. There is no pale, misleading will-o'-the-wisp of a heart decayed and bad. There is freshness, there is beauty, there is truth. "Magnificent" is the one word for his manner, "the grand style" of the Netherlands.

His was the sombre Occidental imagination fired with the splendor of the Orient. His poetry is a Gothic cathedral, grand, towering, and impressive, typical at once of the massive ruggedness of the oak and the severe sublimity of the Alp; a Teutonic temple, in whose cloistered corridors we hear the majestic sweep of unseen angels' wings, while the glorious symphony of harps and psalteries, played by countless cherubim, mingling with the rich bass of the organ and the ethereal tenor of invisible choristers, rolls like a flood of celestial harmony through all the deep diapason from heaven to hell.

The word "vondel" in the Brabantian dialect means a "little bridge," which suggests a not inapt analogy; for it was Vondel who bridged the chasm between the crude Mystery and Miracle Plays of the Chambers of Rhetoric, and the "Lucifer," a drama unequalled in the history of Dutch literature. Between the dead abstractions of the Chambers and the warm, concrete life of the sublime Vondelian drama, even as between "Gorboduc" and "Hamlet," lay the experience of one soul.

Hooft, like Heiberg in Denmark and Lessing in Germany, instituted a revolution in the world of taste. But Vondel, even more than Hooft, developed the latent powers of the tongue, enlarged its resources, and fixed its form. His is still the noblest of Dutch diction, possessing that strange virility that defies time.

At the beginning of the century the language was hardly fit for literary use. The school of Vondel in one generation—the first half of the seventeenth century—did for Holland what the thirteenth century had done for Italy and the sixteenth for England. Vondel, no less than Shakespeare, was the creator of an epoch. His influence on his own language was equally as wonderful, his impress on his country's literature almost as great.

To him the poets of the following generations, even the great Bilderdÿk, looked for inspiration. To him also they have ever paid homage.

Like Homer, he also found his Zoilus, but the greatest intellects of his country and his age—and surely few epochs have seen greater—Grotius, Hooft, Vossius, Huyghens, and scores of others of almost equal fame thought him not inferior to the noblest poets of antiquity.

Vondel lived in a memorable epoch and was its personification. It was the Augustan Era of Holland, the Dutch Age of Pericles. Amsterdam, like another Athens, had become the centre of the world's civilization. Nowhere in that age were the arts so sedulously cultivated; nowhere had their cultivation been rewarded by such high attainment.

Science, the world puzzler, opened his toy-box, the universe, and showed its countless wonders. Philosophy, with guessive hand, played at the riddle Destiny, and mild Religion, at the game of War. Literature, the sum of all the arts and all the sciences, shone like the dazzling Arctic sun in its brief midnight noon—one hour of glory in a day of gloom. When the poet died, the epoch died with him. A night of mediocrity now brooded over the marshy fens of Holland. A swarm of poetasters succeeded the race of poets. Originality was banished. Affectation, with his sycophantic wiles, had won the heart of a degenerate generation. Art, like a flower suddenly deprived of the warm kisses of day, pined away in the sterile cold. Genius was dead.

Vondel is preëminently the poet of freedom. The principles sanctified by the blood of his countrymen, and won by nearly a century of the most noble daring and heroic endurance, he, as the voice of his nation, glorified in his beautiful pastoral, the "Leeuwendalers." These same principles also became the rallying shout of the English Revolution of 1688. That same war-cry, reechoing at Lexington and Alamance, swept the American Colonies from Bunker Hill to Guilford Court House like a whirlwind of flame; and tyranny, with shuddering dread, fled to its native lair.

The shibboleth of liberty, first blown with stirring trumpet tones across the watery moors of Holland by the patriot-poet Vondel, was now repeated in deathless prose at Mecklenburg and Philadelphia. A new United States arose like a glorious phoenix from the ashes of the old.

For the American Constitution was but the grand conclusion of that lingering bloody syllogism of freedom, of which the Treaty of Munster was the major premise. And Vondel, inspired logician of the true, unravelling the tangled skein of his country's destiny, also uncoiled the golden thread of our great fate.

Of his magnificent works, the natural heritage of the American people, we here present this choice fragment, the "Lucifer," aglow with the eternal spirit of revolt.

And now we leave our poet. A spotless name, the record of a noble, sacrificing life, a message of beauty, and a treasury of immortal truths—this was Vondel's legacy to his countrymen.


The "Lucifer."

"Away, away, into the shadow-land,
Where Myth and Mystery walk hand in hand;
Where Legend cons her half-forgotten lore,
And Sphinx and Gorgon throng the silent shore."


The Paradise history, as solving the problem of the origin of man and the origin of evil, and as foreshadowing the goal of human destiny, has always been a subject of universal concern; one full of fascination for the imagination of the poet. Few subjects, indeed, have aroused such widely diffused and long sustained interest.

Beginning with the "Creation" of the Spanish monk Dracontius, the Biblical paraphrases of the old English poet Cædmon, and the Latin poem of Avitus, Bishop of Vienna, we see, at different periods, various studies of this absorbing theme, especially in Italy, where a score or more poets and essayists made it the source of their inspiration.

Perhaps the most noted of these was Andrieni (1578-1652), who wrote the "Adamo," a tragedy in five acts, whose subject is the fall of man. This drama, however, is a rather crude affair, such allegorical abstractions as Death, Sin, and Despair being the chief characters.

About the same period, strange to say, the Netherland imagination, not long awakened from its medieval torpor, also became fired with this theme. The youthful Grotius was the first to attempt it in his "Adamus Exul," a Latin drama of considerable merit. This was in 1601, several years before the "Adamo" of Andrieni. Two other Dutchmen of the same generation, both far greater poets than Grotius, were also attracted by this subject. One was the distinguished Father Cats in his idyll, "The First Marriage;" the other was Justus van den Vondel in his "Lucifer."

We would, in passing, call attention to the curious coincidence that so many poets of so many different nations, most of them doubtless without knowledge of the others, should about the same time have chosen this subject of such historical and symbolical importance. For besides the poets mentioned were many others: the Scotchman Ramsay, the Spaniard de Azevedo, the Portuguese Camoens, the Frenchman Du Bartas, and two Englishmen, Phineas Fletcher and John Milton. A more remarkable instance of telepathy is not, we believe, on record.

Of all of the works of the many authors who have treated this theme, only two, however, have withstood the critical test of time; only two have been awarded the palm of immortality. These two are Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Vondel's "Lucifer": the former, the grandest of English epics; the latter, the noblest of Dutch dramas. It is the "Lucifer" that we have been asked to discuss.


The "Lucifer" was published thirteen years before "Paradise Lost." The scheme of the English poem had, however, already been crystallized in the mind of its author for fifteen years. This scheme originally contemplated a drama, which the poet's powerful imagination gradually developed into an epic.

To whom Vondel was indebted for the foundation of his tremendous drama is easily ascertained. He himself mentions his authorities in his admirable and learned preface. Among these were, besides the Holy Writ, the various Church Fathers, the "Adamus Exul" of Grotius, the work of Du Bartas, and a treatise on the fallen angels, by the English Protestant, Richard Baker. His own imagination, however, soared far above the fundamental hints that he received from any of these works on the subject, so that the "Lucifer" is rightly considered one of the most original and comprehensive poems in literature.

To whom Milton was indebted for the idea of his great epic is, on the other hand, not so easy to discover, although generation after generation of critics have thrown upon this problem the searchlight of innumerable essays.

That the "Paradise Lost" is scintillant with many of the brightest gems in the crown of the Greek and Latin classics is apparent even at a cursory reading. That it is also studded with poetic paraphrases of many modern authors has often been asserted.

However, the opportunity for originality was colossal, and Milton's imagination proved equal to the task. The conception of "Paradise Lost" alone makes it the grandest work of the imagination of modern times.

That the English poet occasionally borrowed a thought or a sentence can not be doubted. Besides, he had a wonderful memory, long and tenacious, which involuntarily emptied its gatherings into the flow of his thought and into the stream of his discourse. That this was not always done unconsciously is known from Milton's own confession, where he says: "To borrow and to better in the borrowing is no plagiarie." And that he bettered in the borrowing who can doubt? All that he touched turned to gold; all that he thought came out transfigured. In the alembic of his genius truth became beauty; the mortal, the immortal.

As the "Lucifer" and the "Paradise Lost" are both concerning the same subject, and as they are both founded upon the Biblical account of the creation, it is but natural that they should have much in common. A comparison of the two poems, therefore, we feel sure would bring to light some striking and curious resemblances and many equally strong and remarkable contrasts.

As such comparison would expand this article beyond the prescribed limits, we must leave it to the reader himself. Nor should he, for one instant, forget the fundamental difference between the drama and the epic.

The epic may wander through the dales of Arcady, along description's slow, meandering way, to pluck the roses of beauty and the lilies of sentiment there growing in so sweet abundance. The drama, with vigorous step and bold, unerring eye, pursues a straight path to the mountain-top of its climax, whence, with increasing momentum, it plunges down to its awful catastrophe. It is the difference between narration and action.

We shall have to content ourselves, therefore, by a brief reference to those who have already given this matter their attention.

That Milton was under great obligations to Vondel's drama has been maintained by Dutch men of letters for generations. It has also become the contention of several distinguished English critics. Even as far back as 1825 the poet Beddoes, in a review of "Hayley's Life and Letters" (Quarterly Review, vol. xxxi.), says: "An effect which has hitherto not been noticed was then produced by the Dutch poets. In their school Joshua Sylvester (who lived amongst them) learnt some of the peculiarities of his versification; and if Milton was incited by the perusal of any poem upon the same subject to compose his 'Paradise Lost,' it was by studying the 'Lucifer' and 'Adam in Ballingschap' of Vondel, for he tried his strength with the same great poet in the 'Samson Agonistes;' Vondel being, indeed, the only contemporary with whom he would not have felt it a degradation to vie."

Mr. Edmund W. Gosse, in a brilliant essay entitled "Milton and Vondel," was, we believe, the first Englishman who gave the subject conscientious study.

For this, on account of his knowledge of the difficult Dutch language, he was peculiarly fitted. Mr. Gosse, in his own interesting manner, tells how, during the seventeenth century, the Dutch, then one of the most vigorous languages of Europe, was much more studied than it is to-day; how the patriot Puritan, Roger Williams, having learned the language in Holland during his exile there, taught it to John Milton, then Cromwell's Latin secretary; how Milton also must have heard of the great fame of the "Lucifer," and of the storm of fanatical opposition that greeted its publication, from some of the Dutch diplomats whom it was his place to entertain; how, too, he could hardly have been ignorant of the name of the distinguished author of the drama, since it is known that he was well acquainted with Hugo Grotius, who was a warm admirer and the bosom friend of Vondel.

In addition to these and other reasons, Mr. Gosse then brings forward a plausible array of internal evidence, showing many points of similarity in the construction and in the treatment of the two poems, summing up with the conclusion that Milton was undoubtedly under considerable obligation to his great Dutch contemporary.

Rev. George Edmundson, M.A., of Middlesex, England, a graduate of Oxford, in a scholarly and painstaking work of two hundred pages, entitled "Milton and Vondel—a Literary Curiosity," next took up the subject, carrying the comparison not only into these two poems, but into all the works of Milton and into several others of Vondel.

Mr. Edmundson also discovered many wonderful coincidences and innumerable parallelisms in phrase and in imagery. Inspired with the motto, Suum cuique honorem, he has woven a tissue of most ingenious arguments to prove that Milton borrowed assiduously from the "Lucifer," the "Adam," the "Samson," and other works of Vondel.

Mr. Vance Thompson, in the New York Musical Courier of December 15, 1897, has also added some interesting data to the subject.

With all the conclusions of these gentlemen we are not yet, however, prepared to agree. It is true we have not given the matter the comparative study that they have given it. We would wait, therefore, until we had thought more deeply about it before expressing our final opinion. However, we believe that a critical and impartial comparison of the two masterpieces will neither detract from the glory of Milton nor dim the grandeur of Vondel.


"Lucifer" is not the story "of man's first disobedience," though this is the outcome of the catastrophe. It is the drama of the fall of the angels. Yet man is the one subject of contention. Our first parents are, therefore, kept in the logical background of cause and effect. The creation of Adam, his bliss and his growing eminence, were the prime cause of the angelic conspiracy. The two-fold effect of the revolt was to the rebellious angels loss of Heaven, and to Adam loss of Eden.

Vondel, moreover, follows the doctrines of certain theologians that Christ would have become man even had Adam not sinned. Like Milton, he measures the scene of his heroic action with "the endless radius of infinitude," and by the artful use of terrestrial analogies conveys to the reader that idea of incomprehensible vastness that the transcendent nature of the subject demands. Vondel is, indeed, even more vague; the drama not giving opportunity for detailed description. Both are a wonderful contrast to the minute visual exactness of Dante.

The attempt to reconcile the spiritual qualities of the divine world with the physical properties of this, necessarily introduces some unavoidable incongruities. How can a material conception of the immaterial be given save through the symbols of the real! How else can the unknown be ascertained save through the equation of the known! How else, save by visual and sensuous images, express such impalpable thought!

"Thus measuring things in Heaven by things on earth,"

the poet gives us a finite picture of the infinite; a picture which yet, by means of shadowy outlines and an artistic vagueness, impresses us with the awful sublimity of the illimitable and eternal. The physical immensity of the poem is unsurpassed.

Humanized gods and Titanic passions shadowed by fate upon the immaculate canvas of sacred legend—this is the play. The personality of the author is never seen; yet when we know the man and his life, we cannot but see therein the reflex of his own experience. The scene is in Heaven and never leaves it. When actions occur elsewhere, they are described.

Infinities above the scene of contention, far beyond "Heaven's blazing archipelagoes," where no imagination dares to soar, reigns He

"Before whose face
The universe with its eternity
Is but a mote, a moment poised in space."


"Stand the hidden springs of life revealed,
The wondrous mechanism from earth concealed.
There Nature's primal premises appear
In simple grandeur, deep and crystal clear,
Flowing from out the heart of boundless ocean
Of the eternal Now. With rapt devotion
A myriad ministering forces there await
The summons of His awful eyes of fate,
The mandates of His all-compelling voice."

Far, far below those empyrean vaults is Earth, with its pristine inhabitants. God and man—the Creator and the thing created, the First Cause and the last effect—are both judiciously only introduced into the drama by hearsay.

Deep in the vague immensity lies Chaos, the uninhabited, through which the vanquished rebels are to be hurled to their endless doom.

But the poet also takes us

"Where meteors glare and stormy glooms invest;"

as, leaving Elysium's fields of light, he views

"Hell's punishments and horrors dire,
Its gulfs of woe and lakes of rayless fire,
Where demons laugh and fiends and furies rage
Round writhing victims whose parched tongues assuage
No cooling drops of hope."

Such is the grand perspective from the scene of this stupendous drama.


The play opens as softly as the opening strains of some grand oratorio. The first act is largely descriptive, a picture of the beautiful serenity of Heaven and of the joys of Paradise.

Belzebub, the second devil, first comes on the scene, and, as he stands upon those "heights flushed in creation's morn," by means of a few words, vibrant with suggestion and of far-reaching import, he at once gives us the key to the opening situation, indicating the relative positions of the two chief personages of the drama—the antithesis of Lucifer and Adam.

Apollion has been sent below to gain some tidings of the new race of earth. With speedy wings he soars back through the blue crystalline and past the wondering spheres, bearing a golden bough laden with choice fruit, that apple sweet whose juice is wine of destiny. He is brimming with enthusiasm over the wonders that he has just witnessed.

Belzebub, who has been anxiously awaiting his return, listens intently to his glowing description of the beauty of Eden and its primal innocence, occasionally interrupting with exclamations of wonder. Question after question suggests itself to his excited imagination. At first he is aflame with curiosity, then jealousy begins to tincture his ardor, and his admiration soon changes into mockery.

Apollion then describes the primeval pair and their unalloyed bliss, and confesses that in the delightful blaze of Eve's charms his snowy wings were singed. Indeed, to curb his increasing desire, he covered his eyes with both hands and wings. Even when godlike resolution had impelled him to return on high, he thrice turned back a lingering gaze towards the more than seraphic beauty of the first woman. Far sweeter than even the music of the spheres, those nightingales of space, is this most beautiful note in the song of creation!

Indescribably delicate is his account of the joys of that first marriage:

"And then he kissed
His bride and she her bridegroom—thus on joy
Their nuptials fed, on feasts of fiery love,
Better imagined far than told—a bliss
Divine beyond all angel ken;"

adding, with exquisite pathos,

"How poor
Our loneliness; for us no union sweet
Of two-fold sex—of maiden and of man—
Alas! how much of good we miss; we know
No mate or happy marriage in a Heaven
Devoid of woman."

With Belzebub, that mighty spirit severely masculine, it is the growing power of the new race that furnishes food for thought and ground for an ulterior motive. The prospect of human rivalry impresses him far more than the description of a happiness to which the sexless angels must ever be strangers. His soul is keyed in a grander, more passionless mood. Apollion, however, cannot forget this charming vision of idyllic joy. He repeats the same enchanting strain again and again. He even forgets to answer his chief's questions, and returns to the same fascinating theme in:

"Their life consists
Alone in loving and in being loved—
One sweet, one mutual joy, by them indulged
Perpetually, yet e'er unquenchable."

In this masterly manner the two controlling motives of the play, the envy of man's power, and the jealousy of human happiness, are seen to originate. The latter, however, is soon merged into the former, for Apollion, failing to elicit sympathy with his tenderer emotions, begins to sympathize with the more heroic mood of Belzebub, and even attempts to inflame it by artful suggestion.

The Archangel Gabriel, "The Herald from the towering Throne of Thrones," now approaches, with all the choristers of Heaven, to unfold the last divine decree.

From the mouth of his golden trumpet fall the silvery tones of peace. With jubilant tongue he praises the glorious attributes of the Deity and the boundless beneficence of the Godhead. In yet grander strain he prophesies the ascent of man,

"Who shall mount up by the stairway of the world,
The firmament of beatific light
Within, into the ne'er-created glow:"

and foretells the future incarnation of the Son of God, who, "on his high seat in his unshadowed Realm," shall judge both men and angels.

Here the chorus, after the manner of the antique drama, bursts into a line of pious affirmation. Gabriel then continues his address in a sterner tone. Obedience to the divine command, and honor to the new race is henceforth the bounden duty of the angelic hosts. Then follows a description of the three hierarchies of Heaven, founded upon the doctrine of the Church Fathers, ending with an eloquent iteration of the divine command. As yet all is serene. Even those spirits who soon shall unfurl the black banner of rebellion in that "virgin realm of peace" are yet unaware that within their breasts slumbers a passion that, awaking, will fill those holy courts with the tumultuous discord of revolt.

The ringing echoes of Gabriel's clarion trumpet have scarcely died away, when, throughout the clear hyaline, millions of angelic choristers burst into that sublime hymn of praise—that "anthem sung to harps of gold "—the grandest ever penned:

"Who is it on His Throne, high-seated?"

Triumphant songs and glad hosannahs now float down those "arching voids of empyrean stair." "All that pleaseth God is well" is the devout conclusion of this splendid outburst of celestial praise. Harmony reechoes harmony; and with this glorious ode of jubilation the act comes to an end.


In the second act, the protagonist first comes on the scene, like a god,

"With thunder shod,
Crowned with the stars, and with the morning stoled."

He has until now been artfully kept in the background. Drawn by fire-winged cherubim, he sweeps into view, and voices, in no uncertain tone, his dissatisfaction with the divine decree.

Gabriel, the angel of revelation, is with admirable art now placed over against the Stadtholder. Lucifer would argue—would know the exact nature of Heaven's last decree. Gabriel, however, merely replies to his eager questioning with a dignified affirmation of God's command, and departs, leaving the divine injunction behind.

Belzebub, with untiring malignity, now prods the wounded pride of the fiery Stadtholder, and Lucifer again and again blazes into the most intense and bitter defiance. Listen to this speech, seething with the soul of rebellion:

"Now swear I by my crown upon this chance
To venture all, to raise my seat amid
The firmament, the spheres, the splendor of
The stars above. The Heaven of Heavens shall then
My palace be; the rainbow be my throne;
The starry vast, my court; while down beneath,
The Earth shall be my foot-stool and support;
I shall, then swiftly drawn through air and light,
High-seated on a chariot of cloud,
With lightning-stroke and thunder grind to dust
Whate'er above, around, below doth us
Oppose, were it God's Marshal grand himself;
Yea, e'er we yield, these empyrean vaults,
Proud in their towering masonry, shall burst,
With all their airy arches, and dissolve
Before our eyes; this huge and joint-racked earth
Like a misshapen monster lifeless lie;
This wondrous universe to chaos fall,
And to its primal desolation change.
Who dares, who dares defy great Lucifer?"

Surely the spirit of revolt never found fiercer and more poetical expression! Surely more eloquent and stupendous daring was never uttered than the blasting fulminations of this celestial rebel, who now stands, like a colossus of evil in the realm of good!

The leaders of the conspiracy then meet together and hatch their deep, nefarious plot. Lucifer towers magnificent, the controlling spirit in every plan, full of impelling thought and of tremendous action. Apollion, that "master wit with craftiness the spirits to seduce," and Belial, whose "countenance, smooth-varnished with dissimulation's hue," knows no superior in deception, at Lucifer's command now sow the seeds of dissension broadcast throughout the Heavens. The dialogue between these two celestial rogues shows great dramatic skill, and abounds in subtleties worthy of the chief himself. Their whole plan seems to be:

"Through something specious, 'neath some seeming guised,"

to win first the various chiefs and then the bravest warriors to the standard of the Morning-star; and then with these

"For all eternity
Mankind to lock without the gate of Heaven."

A high-sounding resolve,

"That tinkles well in the angelic ear,
And flashes like a flame from choir to choir."

The chorus of good angels again comes on the stage, and with antiphonal harmonies reveals the growing discontent. How eloquently it pictures the serene beauties of Heaven, now tarnished with "mournful mists from darkness driven!" A beautiful and poetic synthesis of the preceding act!


In the third act, the Heavens are in a blaze of uproar. The rebellion is now widespread; and revolution is imminent. The whole act is one grand antithesis of the loyal and the seditious angels, or Luciferians, as the latter are called. It is strophe and anti-strophe nearly all the way through. It is argument and counter-argument from beginning to end.

With wonderful art, our sympathy for the rank and file of the rebellious spirits is first awakened. One is made to feel that their disaffection is genuine and that their sorrow is unaffected. They represent the dissatisfied people, brought to the verge of frenzy by the wily arts of the demagogue; the howling mob, wanting only the kindling spark to flash into the flame of revolt; the maddened rabble, waiting for the master-spirit to spur them into open revolution.

And the master-spirit appears. Belzebub, by his colossal hypocrisy and diabolical cunning, succeeds in drawing them into an incriminating attitude. Michael, austere and magnificent, approaches at this crisis, and these two chiefs are then thrown into admirable juxtaposition. Michael's grandeur has already been foreshadowed, and his character in every way equals the conception of him that we were led to form.

Like Lucifer, he is preëminently the incarnation of action. He will not argue. He does not appeal. He is a god of battle; not a divinity of words. He is stern and powerful. He is terse and terribly severe; and after a few words full of scathing scorn and ominous with threat, he commands the virtuous angels to part at once from the rebellious horde. He then leaves to learn the will of the Most High.

The disappearance of Michael is the signal for the advent of the head of the rebellion himself. Lucifer now comes opportunely to the front. With great art the meeting of the Field-marshal and the Stadtholder has been avoided. Such a meeting would have brought about a premature crisis. The Luciferians, in a splendid burst of appeal, beg the Stadtholder's protection. To this appeal Lucifer replies in a speech that is sublime in its hypocrisy. He professes blind attachment to God, and proceeds to test their sincerity by skillfully opposing questions of prudence and arguments of peace, while at the same time he admits, apparently with great reluctance, that their grievances are well founded. He hopes, too, that their displeasure will not be accounted as a stain on high, and that God will forgive their righteous resentment.

When, however, he discovers that they are firm in their determination to obtain their rights by force of arms, that they sincerely desire him as their chief, and that at least one-third of all the spirits are already numbered among the rebels, he throws off his mask, and quickly changes front:

"Then shall we venture all, our favor lost
To the oppressors of your lawful right."

He now again appears as the imperious prince of revolt, and at Belzebub's solicitation mounts the throne which the latter has meanwhile prepared for him. Belzebub enjoins the hosts to swear allegiance to Lucifer and to his morning-star, which oath is given with a will, and the act is at an end.

The chorus of Luciferians then extol their leader in an ode breathing defiance and blazing with the flame of rebellion. The clanging tread of a mailed warrior resounds in every line. The note of triumph rings out boldly; and with professions of fealty to their chief, and kindling with adoration for his morning-star, they march off the stage. This ode is a curious medley of antique metres, trochees, dactyls, and spondees, attuned to tumultuous emotion. Boldly regular in its classic irregularity, it echoes and re-echoes with the clamor of battle and the shout of revelry. It is a pæan keyed in the strident chord of Hell.

Scarcely have these fiercely jubilant tones died away, when the good angels follow with a plaintive ode of sorrow that is a striking antithesis to the passionate outburst of hate with which the air is yet reverberating.

Strophe and antistrophe proceed in the same mournful iambic measure, in verses sweetly musical with curious rimes, when suddenly in the epode they break into a livelier strain, and in tripping trochaics give voice to an entirely different mood—a fiery indignation mingled with a deep sense of the grave crisis that threatens the autonomy of Heaven.

Here, too, is a foreshadowing of the transcendent power that shall quell this treason. Nothing can be more original and artistic than these lyrics themselves. Nothing can be more harmonious than their blending with the action. Vondel is never more admirable than here.


In the fourth act the rebellion has become a conflagration:

"The whole of Heaven glows with the fierce blaze
Of tumult and of treachery."

Gabriel, winged with command, comes on the scene, and orders Michael, in the name of God,

"To burn out with a glow of fire and zeal
These dark, polluting stains."

Michael is astounded to learn of the treachery of Lucifer, and, in reply to his inquiries, Gabriel gives a beautiful and pathetic account of the progress of the revolt, and tells how the radiant joy of God became overshadowed with mournfulness. Michael now summons Uriel, his armor-bearer, to his side, and at once proceeds to put on his armor, at the same time shouting his orders to his myriad legions around him. In the twinkling of an eye the celestial host stands in marching array and is rapidly hurried forward.

We are now transported into the hostile camp, where Lucifer is seen questioning his generals as to the number and the disposition of his forces. Belzebub replies with a lucid and highly colored report, saying that the deserters sweep onward with

"A rush and roar from every firmament,
Like a vast sea aglow with radiant lights."

Lucifer is much pleased to learn this, and from his throne addresses his flaming squadrons in a speech bristling with warlike reason and full of indomitable courage.

He fully apprehends the enormity of his offense, and cunningly makes his hearers equal sharers in his guilt. Retreat is now impossible. The celestial Rubicon is crossed. They have already burnt all bridges behind them. "Necessity, therefore," he says, "must be our law." If defeated, God himself cannot wholly annihilate them; while if they chance to win, "the hated tyranny of Heaven" shall then be changed into a state of freedom; nor shall the angels then be forced

"To pant beneath the yoke of servitude forever."

Once more he demands the oath of allegiance, and is about to give the command, "Forward!" when Belzebub espies the beautiful figure of Rafael winging his golden way trough the crystal empyrean on a mission of mercy.

Even Belzebub is touched at this unlooked-for sign of angelic affection, and his tone, usually so sarcastic and so severely deliberate, as he announces his advent, is softened to a transient tenderness. For once he has forgotten his usual mocking air, and this exquisite touch does much to relieve the sombre impression of his tremendous malignity.

Rafael, a celestial St. John, melting with love for the Stadtholder, falls in a paroxysm of grief and tenderness upon his neck. We intuitively feel that some secret bond of sympathy must bind these two angels, so dissimilar in spirit and in character, together.

Lucifer, overwhelming in passion, gigantic in intellect, resistless in will—magnificent in his whole personality; Rafael, sublime in devotion, infinite in pity, immaculate in holiness—the apotheosis of all that is beautiful! Lucifer, whose eyes flash ambition and whose heart flames hate; Rafael, whose gaze is aspiration and whose soul is love! The genius of evil and the spirit of virtue; the proudly wicked and the meekly good! The infernal masculine stands confronted by the heavenly feminine; harsh violence is caressed by loving gentleness, and pride and humility embrace! Truly a masterly antithesis!

In a strain of glorious appeal, Rafael begs Lucifer to desist, and first aims at the weakest point in his armor—his pride. How splendid his description of Lucifer's glory! His former pomp is here artistically pictured to heighten the contrast with his fall.

He next proceeds to threaten, and gives an equally vivid picture of the horrible punishments—"the worm, endless remorse, and ever-during pain"—reserved for him. He then offers his olive branch as a token of divine mercy, and urges immediate acceptance before it is forever too late. Truth offers hope to error on the high-road to despair; peace pours her golden offering at the iron feet of war!

Lucifer, proud in his consciousness of strength, as the chosen head of millions of angelic warriors, one-third of the entire spirit world, is, however, unmoved. He asseverates that he merely wishes to uphold the ancient charter. The standard of revolt is also the banner of right. Duty has called; justice commanded; friendship inspired him to take this step for the protection of the celestial Fatherland. He, too, then,

"With necessity,
The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds."

Hear his own words:

"I shall maintain the holy right, compelled
By high necessity, thus urged at length,
Though much against my will, by the complaints
And mournful groans of myriad tongues."

Rafael stands aghast at the picture of such hardened wickedness. His hairs rise with fear to hear the Archangel's shameless confession, and he promptly accuses him of ambition and of gross deceit.

Lucifer, however, indignantly denies this, and proudly asserts that he has always done his full duty. Rafael then reads aloud his evil purpose as it is written in lurid letters on his heart. The astonished chief no longer denies his lust for power, but claims the prerogative of his position as the Stadtholder of God. At last he is brought to the acknowledgment that the ascent of man is the stone upon which his "battle-axe shall whet its edge."

Rafael, like an angel of light, then pleads with this spirit of darkness in tones of sweetest tenderness. He stands here like a personified conscience. He would be the guardian angel of the great Stadtholder. Not a harsh word escapes the stern lips of the flaming Archangel. His own vast knowledge and his deep heart testify how good are the intentions of his friend. What visions are here called up of the happy days of their friendship, when they basked in the untarnished splendors of Heaven, before a thought of evil had tolled the funeral knell of peace!

Argument after argument, in cumulative progression, falls from the pleader's mellifluous tongue. Lucifer is stern and unyielding. Still Rafael pleads on. For an instant Lucifer falters. Rafael sees his advantage; and not only again offers him his olive branch, but appoints himself as Lucifer's hostage with God —so sure is he of obtaining mercy.

Lucifer is almost overcome; but the thought of his morning-star setting in shame and darkness, and a vision of his enemies defiant on the throne, still steels his heart in its obstinate resolve.

Rafael next pictures for him, in lurid colors, the lake of brimstone down below, whose mouth yawns for his destruction. Once more, for the third time, he offers the Archrebel the branch of peace, and promises full grace.

Lucifer then gives voice to that grand soliloquy, beginning:

"What creature else so wretched is as I?
On the one side flicker feeble rays of hope,
While on the other yawns a flaming horror."

Here he reveals for the first time his inmost heart. This is the crisis of his career—the climax of the whole play. Nowhere is the suspense so keen. One wonders how the Archangel will decide in this critical moment:

"This brevity twixt bliss and endless doom."

His pride of will has in one stroke become a chaos of indecision. We are made to sympathize with his terrible anguish, as the logic of his remorse-throbbing conscience leads him to the bitter adversative:

"But 'tis too late—all hope is past."

The ominous sound of Michael's battle trumpet rudely awakes him from his revery, and forces him to the stern realization of the impending strife. Just at this moment, also, Apollion soars into his presence with the news of the near approach of God's Field-marshal.

Lucifer, however, is as yet too agitated, so soon after his sudden apprehension of the enormity of his crime and of the terrible punishment reserved for him in the probable event of his defeat, to respond with alacrity to the summons. It is with great difficulty that he rouses himself from his soliloquizing mood. He must think; but although he feels far more than his followers that

"The heavy bolt of war should not be weighed
Too lightly,"

and although he well knows that the odds are against him, he has, by the time that his other chieftains approach, quite recovered himself, and at once gives the quick, sharp command of the soldier. The time for action has come. Behind their towering leader, amid the blare of bugles and the trumpet's stirring tones, his serried battalions march with waving banners off the stage.

Of this busy scene Rafael, meanwhile, has been a silent but interested spectator. Now alone in his sorrow, he melts into a compassionate monologue; and, joined by the chorus, gives utterance to that beautiful lyric of grief, that tender prayer so full of the sweet melody of appeal, at the end of the fourth act. Amid the jarring clamor and the frenzied shout of the departing squadrons, this anthem of mercy rises to God like a benediction. Over the passion waves of the tumultuous hell of rebellion around them, their voices tremble like the echoes of a heaven forever lost.

Surely, the emotion of forgiving compassion was never combined with a more musical sorrow. Here, as in all of Vondel's lyrics, there is a perfect harmony between the form and the thought.


At the opening of the last act, Rafael is discovered on the battlements of Heaven. He is in a fever of anxiety to learn the result of the contest, and peers into the empyrean for some sign of a messenger from the field,

"Where armies reel on slopes with lightning crowned."

The glad sounds of approaching triumph fall on his ear. Across the pure hyaline now dart meteoric flashes of light. Each shield of the victorious legions dazzles like a sun:

"Each shield-sun streams a day of triumph forth."

Far in advance of the returning battalions speeds Uriel, "Angel with swiftest wing," bearing the message of victory. With incredible velocity—for he is winged with good news—he flashes through the air, in his "aery wheels" exultingly waving his "flaming, keen, two-edged sword." He has reached the serene altitude of Heaven. He has gained the farthest wall. He is at hand.

Rafael is full of eagerness to hear the details of the fight, the particulars of "this the first campaign in Heaven." Uriel then, "with sequence just," gives a vivid account of the preparations for battle, beginning with the moment when Gabriel first informed Michael of the defection of the Stadtholder.

He tells how the countless loyal legions, at their chief's command, deploy themselves in battle line until they form in serried rank

"One firm
Trilateral host that like a triangle
Thrust out its edges sharp upon the eye."

Michael, the Field-marshal, stands in the heart of this triangle, towering high above his fellows, the personification of judgment,

"With the glow
Of lurid lightnings in his lifted hand."

Splendid is the picture of the infernal host; their squadrons,

"Battalion on battalion, riders pale
On dim mysterious chargers,"

advance in the form of a crescent moon. Belzebub and Belial command the two horns of this formidable array,

"Both standing there in shining panoply,
Vying in splendors grand."

Lucifer himself holds the centre, "the point strategic" of his army, while Apollion behind him bears on high the lofty standard with its streaming morning-star.

Rafael, in his excitement, occasionally interrupts this graphic description with exclamations of wonder, and, as the story of the terrible conflict progresses, also with occasional cries of horror and of pity. Great art is shown in the introduction of these exclamatory pauses into the long account of the battle scene. It not only gives the narrator time to get breath, but voices the feelings of the listener, and intensifies his suspense.

Then follows a brilliant account of the Stadtholder. As the rebel chief is the protagonist, and as the seditious angels furnish the subject matter for the drama, the poet has artistically described them at great length. At last the two armies confront each other. We are now made to see how they

"Panted for strife and for destruction flamed."

Then follows the famous battle scene, which must be read in the poet's own thrilling words. Here is action in every line, a battle stroke in each word.

After the first onset, the celestial legions begin by circling wheels to soar aloft, whence, like a falcon, they shall soon precipitate themselves upon their enemies, who, having also risen, but with heavier sail, are likened to a flock of drowsing herons, thrown into sudden consternation by the sight of their dreaded foe.

Uriel now gives a striking picture of the grand perspective above—the celestial legions, high in the empyrean, arrayed like a shining triangle, the symbol of the Trinity; far beneath, the infernal phalanx, gleaming like a crescent on the turbaned brow of night, the sign of the Turk, whose ferocious hordes, even in Vondel's time, were yet thundering at the gate of Christendom. Thus each army hangs:

"Suspended like a silent cloud,
Full weighted 'gainst the balanced air."

Again the celestial triangle, with terrific force, crashes into the infernal half-moon, and flames of brimstone, red and blue, flash far out into the sky. Thunderbolt on thunderbolt, unchained, leap with angry roar into the surging horde, leaving havoc, ruin, and desolation in their lurid wake. The centre of the half-moon begins to break; and its pointed horns nearly meet together behind the resistless triangle.

Lucifer performs wonderful feats of valor. High on his blazing chariot, he is a conspicuous figure. His fierce team, "the lion and the dragon blue," symbolic of pride and envy, enraged by the battle-strokes rained upon their starry backs, fly forward with fearful strides—the lion, with dreadful bellows, biting and rending; while his terrible mate shoots pest-provoking poisons from his frothy tongue, and,

"... Raving, fills the air
With smoke blown from his nostrils far and wide."

On every side the infernal chief is surrounded by his enemies. They try to overpower him with mere numbers. He parries every stroke, or breaks their force upon his shield. He then waves his battle-axe aloft to fell God's glowing banner, when Michael, clad in glittering armor, "like a god amid a ring of suns," suddenly confronts him.

The Archangel sternly calls upon the rebel Prince to surrender. But Lucifer, unmoved, three times with his war-axe strives to cleave the diamond shield of Michael, wherein blazed God's most holy name. The axe rebounds and shivers into fragments; and we cannot but sympathize with the Archrebel, who is now in a bad plight indeed. The grand catastrophe to which the swift current of his wickedness has been bearing him is at last at hand, reserved with consummate art until the middle of this act.

Michael lifts his terrible right hand, and through the helmet and head of his disarmed but yet unconquered foe he smites his lightnings, cleaving unto his very eyes. The force of this blow is such that Lucifer is hurled from his chariot, which follows him downward, whirling round and round in its descent:

"Thus lion, dragon, driver, all plunge down."

In vain the fierce swarms of warring rebels attempt to stay their chief. Uriel engages Apollion, and succeeds in wresting from him the rebel banner with its morning-star. Belzebub and Belial still fight on; but their legions are all confused. The crescent has now become a disorganized mob,

"And o'er them fell destruction rolls its flood."

In vain Apollion comes back into the field, reinforced by the monsters from the firmament of Heaven, which may be supposed to typify, as Vondel says in his preface, the abuse of the forces of nature by the Devil to effect his evil designs.

Orion, shrieking until the very air grows faint, strives to crush the head of the assault, that

"... Heedless of
Orion or his club, moves grandly on."

The Northern Bears stand upon their haunches to oppose their brutish strength. The Hydra gapes with poison-breathing throats. But, unmindful of all these, the triangle still advances. Numerous other episodes, in the meanwhile, are happening along the line of battle; but the suspense is at last over. The victory of the celestial angels is a glorious fact.

Rafael now gives utterance to exclamations of praise, and asks Uriel concerning the effect of his defeat on the fallen Archangel. Uriel then recounts his terrible punishment, and relates how his splendid beauty was now become, in falling, a complication of seven dreadful monsters, typifying the seven deadly sins. That beast, says the narrator,

"Doth shrink to view its own deformity,
And veils with darkling mists its Gorgon face."

The fate of the protagonist being known, Rafael next wishes to learn what became of the rest of the rebel host. Then follows the account of the tumultuous rout, wherein the fleeing hordes, in their descent to Hell, also undergo a metamorphosis into the forms of strange and uncouth monsters.

At this point the triumphant Michael himself approaches with his victorious legions, laden with glorious plunder. The celestial choristers, strewing their laurel leaves, accompanied by the sound of cymbal, pipe, and drum, now greet him with a song of jubilation which, even more than most of Vondel's lyrics, is peculiar for the intricacy of its rimes.

"Hail to the hero, hail," they cry. The spirit and liveliness of this pæan are eminently suited to voice the long pent-up plaudits of the angels. The regularity of this ode, with its rapid melodious swing, is a marked contrast to the strident enthusiasm and the discordant harmony of the chorus of Luciferians at the end of Act III.

As soon as the joyful reverberations of the battle-hymn have ceased to roll through the interminable arches on high, Michael addresses his legions and the assembled hosts in a speech of great dignity, ascribing the glory of the victory to God alone. He speaks proudly of the spoils of battle, which have already been hung on the bright axis of Heaven.

"No more shall we," says he,

"Behold the glow of Majesty supreme
Dimmed by the damp of base ingratitude."

He next pictures the defeated rebels as:

"...All blind and overcast
With shrouding mists, and horribly deformed."

Then he concludes with stern sententiousness:

"Thus is his fate who would assail God's Throne,"

which the choristers as gravely repeat.

The expected catastrophe has occurred, and the terrible conclusion has been described. In the stormy wake of the sad fall of the angels follows the no less sad fall of man—the loss of

"The primal innocence 'mid Eden's bowers."

The heaving, seething seas of rebellion, "swollen to the skies," have, it is true, subsided; but again they gather momentum for one more wave of disaster, which now breaks upon the shore of Earth, spreading death and desolation throughout the sinless groves of Paradise; for Gabriel now approaches and hurls into the joyful camp a thunderbolt of sad surprise. "Alas! alas!" he cries, breaking into lamentation, "our triumph is in vain;" and he announces the fall of Adam.

Michael is astounded, and shudders as he hears the news. With infinite distress he listens to Gabriel's interesting account of how the overthrow was effected. Gabriel first describes the "dim, infernal consistory" far, far below. Here Lucifer called together all his chieftains, who now

"Unto each other turned abhorring gaze."


"High-seated 'mid his councillors of state,"

the Archfiend, whose character is now shown in its full development, addressed his followers in words full of bitter rage against God—a striking contrast to the dignity of Michael's address.

His heart is now a hell of hate, boiling with passion for revenge. The Heavens must be persecuted and circumvented, and this must be done by the ruin of man. With prophetic eye he pictures his future dominion on earth, and the myriad miseries into which the fall shall plunge mankind. He then promises his fellow-conspirators the future adoration of the human race, when as heathen gods and pagan deities they shall receive the praise of countless multitudes of men.

At this point Michael breaks into fierce execrations, making a vow of summary and condign punishment. Gabriel then continues to relate how Lucifer selected Belial as the most worthy instrument to seduce the happy pair. Belial, taking upon himself the form of the Serpent, succeeds most fiendishly in his unholy mission, first, as in the Biblical account, alluring Eve, who in turn tempts Adam. Their fall and shame and misery are pathetically told. In the midst of this sad story the chorus interjects its wail of sympathy, while Gabriel continues by narrating the colloquy of the hapless twain with God.

Gabriel then gives the woeful details of their penalty, and presents a dismal picture of future wretchedness, against the blackness of which, however, is one bright star—the promise of the Strong One, the Hero who shall crush the Serpent's head.

Gabriel now commands Michael to place all things in their wonted place lest the malicious spirits should "further mischief brew." Michael, the spirit of eternal order, then proceeds to reduce this chaos of evil to final subjection.

He first sends Uriel down,

"To drive the pair from Eden who have dared
Transgress, so rash and blind, the primal law."

His duty it is, also, to force mankind

"To labor, sweat, and arduous slavery."

He is, furthermore, to act as sentinel over the garden and over the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Ozias is enjoined to capture and securely bind the host of the infernal animals with the lion and the dragon, who so furiously raged against the standard of Heaven. Listen to this stern command:

"Sweep from the sky these hordes accursed, and bind
Them neck and claw, and chain them forcibly."

Azarias is entrusted with the key of the bottomless abyss, wherein he is commanded to lock all that assail the powers of Heaven. To Maceda is given the torch to light the sulphurous lake down in the centre of the earth, wherein Lucifer, the evil-breeding protagonist, with poetic justice, so near the scene of his last flagrant crime, is doomed to endless solitary torment; there,

"... In the eternal fire
Unquenchable, with chilling frosts commingled,"

"Amid the bitter blast of memory's regret,"

to suffer the throes of ten thousand hells, and to discover

"How slow time limps upon a crutch of pain,"

through an eternity of keen remorse.

For the last time the chorus comes on the stage, echoing in a brief epilogue the one silvery voice of hope that speaks from that dark conclusion of multitudinous despair.

It, too, gives promise of a brighter dawn, wherein the "grand deliverer" shall cleanse fallen man of the "foul taint original," opening for him a fairer Paradise on high, where the thrones, made vacant by the fall of the angels, shall, as in Cædmon, be filled by the glorified souls of the children of men Thus the spectator is left attuned to the triumph of Christ in the promised reconciliation, and the work of redemption is made complete.

In this noble ending, evil, though not annihilated, is controlled; the good is victorious; and Heaven is once more restored to its pristine holiness. The fallen angels, the imperious lords of Heaven, have been succeeded by the lowly third estate, the human worms whom they so much despised.

Thus here, too, revolution has proved progression. The storm of war has ceased, and above the thunder-mantled sky shines the glorious rainbow of peace.


Like all of Vondel's dramas, the "Lucifer" is after the Greek model; and surely that model was never inspiration for a more splendid tragedy. Vondel's idea of the classic drama was derived from the close study of the ancients and their modern Dutch commentators—Heinsius, Vossius, Grotius, Barlæus, and other Latinists of renown.

The "Lucifer" is a tragedy after Chaucer's own heart:

"Tragedis is to sayn a certeyn storie,
As olde bokes maken us memorie,
Of hem that stood in greet prosperité,
And is yfallen out of heigh degree
Into miserie, and endith wrecchedly."

There is no death, no blood, no murder. It is the drama of a magnificent ruin!

The action of the play, pursuing the straight track of one controlling purpose, and moving with terrible majesty to the goal of an inevitable destiny, also makes it a tragedy in the larger dramatic sense. The wonderful characterization and the overpowering ethical motive also make its application universal. The epico-lyrical quality of this drama, furthermore, gives it a force and cohesiveness unattainable by either epic or lyric.

True, the "Lucifer" as a drama does not deal with men. However, this is a distinction without a difference; for the characters, while they command our awe as divinities not subject to the limitations of this carnal shroud, the body, are yet sufficiently human to elicit our warmest sympathy.

It is, moreover, a play full of heart-agitating passion; and it is addressed, in a most extraordinary degree, to the moral nature—the chief function of all tragedy. Here, too, as in the great drama of the universe, the divine law is the first propelling cause of the action.

The clash of interests and the logical destiny of cause and effect carry the tragic subject without apparent effort to its denouement. The causes are everywhere adequate to produce the effects, and no trivial effects are the result of the huge action; no mountain is set in travail to bring forth a mouse. The disposition of the characters also conforms to our sense of justice, and their development is everywhere within the range of probability.

Besides the main theme, ambition, and the chief object, self-aggrandizement, are various incidental themes and objects which naturally arise out of the circumstances and conditions of the play. This is, however, but natural, and only renders the drama more varied and interesting; these little streams of interest being but tributaries to the main stream of the action, contributing to, rather than retarding, its majestic sweep to the Niagara of its catastrophe.

The drama, though concerning the divine beings of another sphere, conforms, except where tradition or religion has invested these with extraordinary qualities and powers, to the physical requirements of this, thus making it more probable and the action more dramatic.

The dramatist is a veritable illusion-weaving magician, leading the spectator through tortuous mazes of expectation into a labyrinth of suspense. The end is reached, and lo! the path which appeared so bewilderingly crooked is straight and direct, without a turn to its starting point. Everywhere, too, the mind of the reader coöperates with the mind of the poet in his logical appeals to the heart.

The action, moreover, has its mainspring in error, and ends in showing the natural consequences of crime, with a picture of the sin atoned though not unpunished.

Nowhere is the human interest of this drama lessened by grand scenic displays. These are truly splendid; but even such sublime properties as the universe affords only heighten the interest by showing that, after all, "the thinking will" we call the soul is the noblest work of God. As played on the stage, the drama must have had exceedingly simple, though perhaps somewhat costly, accessories.

Nothing in the play is more admirable than the uninterrupted contrast of thought and the constant antithesis of character. Nothing, furthermore, can surpass the inimitable art with which the monologue is handled at the critical moments that determine a character, as in Lucifer's soul-revealing soliloquy in the fourth act. Here the action, though still sweeping irresistibly on, seems to be in perfect poise, while the inmost secrets of the heart are laid bare.

In his dialogue, also, Vondel is simple and direct. The conversation is always used to recall, to suggest, or to display some motive that binds, while, at the same time, it urges, the action. In such scenes, of course, talk is action.

If art is, as some assert, a thing of proportions, then surely this drama is entitled to the highest praise; for its proportions are irreprehensible. If, too, as Ruskin says, "Poetry is the suggestion by the imagination of noble grounds for the noble emotions," as a poem, also, it is unsurpassed. There are, indeed, as many definitions of poetry as there are poets. The "Lucifer" is Vondel's definition.

It is conception that suggests the correlated thought. It is construction that shapes it to the stature of a grand design; and construction is the highest form of the creative intellect; for was it not this same power that framed the templed universe out of the scattered fragments of countless millions of stars? It is in construction, the highest requisite of the dramatist, wherein the "Lucifer" is most grand. The architecture of the play is as symmetrical as a beautiful Greek temple.

There is no obscurity in this classic drama, into which, moreover, the poet has introduced enough of the modern romantic to lend it vivacity and interest. Such a subject could not have been cast save in a classic mould. The romantic drama would not have been equal to the majestic dignity and the stately style demanded by this sublime theme.

Each act, with its own subordinate conclusion, is followed by a chorus which not only fills the pause, but also intensifies, while at the same time it relieves, the suspense. These choruses, noble melodies of retrospect, are yet charged with the rumbling thunder of the coming catastrophe. Each is, as it were, an incarnate conscience, the concentrated echo of the preceding act, gathering around it the action, and blending harmoniously with it.

Vondel is one of the few moderns who grasped the fact that the Hellenic drama originated in rhythmic song, and that around the choral ode should gather the action and the interest of the play. His chorus, therefore, act both as singers and as interpreters of the action, relieving the measured tread of stately tragedy with pauses of musical suspense. Often, also, they break into the dialogue, and act as mediators and as moralists.

The chorus represent the populi of Heaven, and voice the sentiments of the many. The interchange of thoughts between chorus and chorus, and the chorus and the persons, produces variety. To this the swift changes of thought and emotion also contribute.

Here, also, as in the Greek dramas, we observe the proper subordination of the chorus to the protagonist and the chief characters, and of the lyric to the dramatic elements, while through the whole play the length of the speeches is artfully suited to the character and the situation. Much, too, might be said about Vondel's felicities of rime, his sweet feminine rimes, his stately, sonorous hexameters, his trimeters and tetrameters, his frequent use of the various classic metres, and his admirable shifting of the cæsura to suit the feeling of the speaker.

The three unities are here also carefully preserved, which perhaps was the more easily done on account of the divinity of the characters, to which a celerity of movement was natural not possible to mortals.

Hence, the time of the whole drama from the inception of the revolt until the final catastrophe could very probably be included in twenty-four hours. The unity of action we have already spoken of. The unity of place is equally well kept. The "Lucifer," hardly two thousand seven hundred lines, including the choruses, conforms also in respect to length to the classic standard.

The growth of the play is no less wonderful than the characterization, many preparations and conspiracies developing at last into a battle, many scenes into a definite situation; the numberless changes of cause and effect at length resulting in a plot full of the force of an action-impelling motive. Thus from the varied complexities of circumstance and situation is at last evolved the one controlling purpose.

A fine antithesis to the turbulent catastrophe is the quiet climax, Lucifer's soliloquy in Act IV.; where, however, all that precedes is resolved into one intense situation. The advent of Rafael here, furthermore, is an unforeseen complication to heighten the interest.

The end, by suggestive reminiscence of the fading perspective of the beginning, unites the commencement with the close, making the drama an organic whole, whose soul is purpose and whose heart is truth.

The exquisite blending of the action with the characters, each shaping the other, has rarely been equalled. It is the characters, after all, that are the chief interest and that control the action. We see here the strange anomaly of a classic play where the individual shapes the action, and is yet conquered by law.

Here, where the will of a god clashes with the supreme will of the Supreme God, great art is necessary to sustain human interest—to delay the interposition of the superior deity until the very close.

The primary motive, self-exaltation, fails grandly; yet in its failure it brings into partial fulfilment the secondary motive, the fall of man. True, the logical catastrophe does not occasion surprise. It has all along, as in every tragedy, been foreshadowed by circumstances big with fate. Yet Vondel has added the element of surprise, and to a remarkable degree, by the introduction of a second catastrophe, the expulsion of Adam from Paradise, the natural result of the first. Thus curiosity and reason only end with the play itself. One by one, too, the various episodes are seen to spring from the action, which, moreover, requires no introduction of antecedent circumstance to set it in motion.

The ensemble scenes, or groups, a sure test of the great dramatist, are handled in a masterly manner. There is also a delightful retardation which heightens the suspense and delays the catastrophe, until, like an electric cloud, it bursts into the thunder of its own generating.

Each messenger, in the play, brings vividly before the eye of the spectator the consequential scene which he himself has just witnessed—of which, perhaps, he has been a part.

Thus, by the artful use of motive-producing complications, the action, once projected, moves on to its end, where the totality of figures, thoughts, and emotions are drawn into one maelstrom of ruin.

There is no distraction. There is no swerving from the opening to the catastrophe; from the catastrophe to the conclusion, the awful retribution.

As in the tragedy of life, so, too, in this drama, the innocent suffer through the punishment that overtakes the guilty; witness the sorrow of Rafael and the good angels at the fall of their fellows; the sin of Adam and Eve, and the doom pronounced upon their innocent descendants.

The truth of Vondel's poetic conception is seen in the fact that its essential elements are coeval with man and coeternal with the universe. As in Sophocles, we hardly know which most to admire, the balanced proportions of the play, or its general conception. Here, also, we often, in a single sentence, find a synthesis of a situation or a character.

Vondel, moreover, most impressively introduces into the ancient Greek form, with its suggestion of an over-ruling destiny, the modern idea of free will. And he does it so admirably that there is no confusion. Simple in its complexity, splendid in its largeness of design, grand in its harmony, magnificent in its whole conception, the drama sweeps irresistibly through the whole gamut of human emotion.

Such epic breadth and intense lyric concentration have rarely been combined in one poem. Such a drama is, indeed, the sum of all the arts!


Vondel's devils are no devils, until the last act, when they act no more, but are described. Then truly they are the incarnations of Hell's deepest deviltries, and are as splendid in their malignity as they were formerly superb in their wickedness.

The sophistries of these evil spirits are scarcely inferior to those in "Faust." They are the meshes of a gigantic delusion woven by the leaders of the conspiracy around the rank and file of the angels, seducing them from bliss to doom.

Belzebub is the cynic of the play—a compound of Iago and Mephistopheles. This dark contriver of hellish plots is colossal in his malignity. He is the first in Heaven to make a prurient suggestion. He is more fiend than his noble superior. Sleepless, unrelenting, resourceful, alert, he conjures motives of evil even from the tender beauty of the primal innocence. He finds the gall of hate even in the sweet flower of Eden's sinless love. His is the deliberating intellect necessary for the Stadtholder's counsellor; and though slowly unfolding the many sides of his malign nature, he is, we feel, evil from the beginning, grandly diabolical.

Belial, conscienceless and without remorse, is utterly depraved; a vile seducer, the genius of deceit, who does evil for its own sake; a useful tool to serve the baser purposes of the chief devil. Apollion has some gleams of goodness in his nature, but is weak, lustful, and easily influenced by the hope of gain—a type of the traitor. All of the devils, and they are the chief characters of the play, may be supposed to represent the different phases of evil; while the good angels, whose characteristics have been but briefly indicated, show the different attributes of the Deity.

As in the "Œdipus Tyrannus," "the country must be purged," so here, too, the Heavens must be cleansed of "this perjured scum,"—the rebellious angels.

We must now proceed to speak of Lucifer: his all-consuming wrath, his ambition, his pride, and infernal energy. These traits are exhibited in gigantic outlines even before his fall. After his defeat, what can be more impressive than his all-enduring Archangelic passion, glorious in its all-defying mood? Not his the wild outbursts nor the mad ravings of Lear. Every ebullition of his anger is fraught with purpose, and is transmuted into revengeful action. Mind and spirit are, after all, the conquering forces of the universe. Material circumstance and physical environment cannot thwart their design. It is this ennobling consciousness of intellectual power, supplemented by unconquerable and irresistible will, that makes the magnificence of the personality of Lucifer. Like Milton's Satan, he is, we feel, most near a god when he is most a devil.

Lucifer, like Macbeth, is not influenced all at once. With a god-like circumspection, he first weighs every atom of probability. However, when the die is cast and the line of rebellion has once been crossed, he fights to the last ditch.

Lucifer is a sublime egoist—the spirit of negation placed against the limitations of the positive. He is overpowering. No one, even for an instant, dares to dispute his power, not even the grand Michael. His is the unconquerable Batavian heart. He dominates the entire action, and like a magnet draws all the other characters around him. Though jealousy of man is the animating passion of the lower devils and the excuse of the protagonist himself, yet we feel that he uses this merely as a stalking horse for his overweening ambition. Lucifer would become God himself. It is an unwritten law of great tragedy that the villain, though a villain, must be admirable. Lucifer, arch-villain that he is, is superb in his constructive villany—a very god of evil, with resources at his command formidable enough to make or to mar a world, and yet resulting only in his own undoing. Proud in the consciousness of godlike powers, he thinks,

"I have a bit of fiat in my soul,
And can myself create a little world."

His confidence, however, proves to be but the fiat of his damnation.

"There is no fiercer hell than the failure in a great undertaking." Into this hell Lucifer was forever thrust. Yet he is allowed one brief moment of happiness; it is where he proclaims himself a god, and is worshipped by his followers.

Lucifer is the prince of thinkers, and a monarch among actors. His is the intellect to plan and to conceive, and the will to execute; and will is above all the one quality emphasized. As much as he is in this respect supereminent, so much greater the degree of his guilt. Could the force of this faculty have been better shown than in the picture of the fallen Archangel, where, in the agonies of torture and the throes of expiation, he not only deliberates, resolves, and executes, but even exults, as, culling the bitter sweetness of a hopeless hope from the hell-flower of despair, he rejoices in the fiendish triumph that he knows is but the prelude to everlasting doom? Unlike the unconquerable and torture-racked Prometheus, he allows not one sigh to escape from the depths of his anguish; not one moan rises from his abysmal despair. Malediction alone can unlock his implacable lips. From even the caverns of Hell he projects his evil genius back into space to accomplish a predetermined revenge.

Lucifer reasons with Rafael and with Gabriel; but with Michael only war is possible. The two chiefs are too equal in power, too proud, and too warlike to waste time in words. Each, accustomed to command, will brook no authority in the other. The pathos and the tenderness of Rafael, on the other hand, present a strong relief to the sombre passions of Lucifer. It is the ethical portraiture of this drama that is its most powerful feature.

Lucifer, also, in a certain sense, represents the ideal Dutchman—combining in a losing struggle the daring of Civilis and the intellect of Erasmus with the astuteness and magnanimity of William the Silent—a grand hero in a bad cause! Lucifer has indeed "set the time out of joint" for Adam's seed; yet the play also gives promise of the Christ who will again make all things right; there is here, also, a suggestion of the "Paradise Regained."

The drama is ended; the thunders have ceased to roll, and are again chained to the chariot of the Deity; the lightnings once more slumber in the bosom of the night. The battle is over, the air is again pure and clear. The good has been exalted; the bad has been debased. The heart of the spectator, too, has been the scene of the battle of the passions: terror, pity, hope, despair, love, joy, peace have each alternated in brief possession. The katharsis of the soul is accomplished. It has been purified of all that is gross and earthly. It has become spiritualized. It has become conscious of its wings, thrilled with aspiration for the ethereal and for the stars beyond.


It is maintained by several eminent Dutch critics that the "Lucifer" is a political allegory like the "Palamedes" and several other tragedies of Vondel.

Some of these literati have displayed considerable ingenuity in their attempt to prove that it typifies the struggle of the Netherlands against Spain; Orange corresponding to Lucifer, Philip II. to God, Alva to Michael, the Cardinal Granvelle to Adam.

Many of the situations of the play bear out this analogy. Lucifer, like Orange, was the idol of his followers. Both desire to change a hated tyranny to a state of freedom. Both speak grandiloquently of a charter disannulled and of ancient privileges violated.

The simile of the sea dashing in vain against the rock in the battle-scene of the "Lucifer" may be supposed to illustrate the device of Orange: "Sævis tranquillus in undis." The crescent array of the rebels may refer to the shibboleth of the water-beggars: "Rather Turk than Papist."

The lion and the dragon that draw the chariot of the Archfiend are also blazoned upon the crest of the two provinces, Holland and Zealand, which were the chief supporters of Orange. The medley of seven beasts into which Lucifer, in falling, was changed, may be taken to represent the seven Northern provinces that became the Dutch Republic, while the Southern provinces, which remained loyal to Spain, nearly two-thirds of the whole number, may be typified by the faithful angels.

Lucifer renewed the fight three times; so did Orange. Both pretended to fight "pro lege, rege, et grege."

In that age, before successful revolutions had established a precedent, no revolt could hope for success unless by conforming to the maxim "the king can do no wrong"—a cardinal principle in every religion of that day. By this political fiction rebels professed to fight for the king, though really fighting against him. Vondel pictured his revolt after these examples, the most prominent of which was the revolt of his own country against Philip II. Lucifer, however, fell, and Orange triumphed; though the assassination of the latter might be taken as equivalent to a fall. Lucifer accomplished the fall of Adam, even as Orange brought about the expulsion of Granvelle. Alva, like Michael, furthermore, received the charge "to burn out with a glow of fire and zeal" the polluting stains of heresy. Egmont and Montigny, like Gabriel and Rafael, acted as ambassadors.

The cause of the jealousy of the Netherlander, as in the "Lucifer," was the fact that greater privileges were accorded to foreigners (the Spaniards) than to the hereditary princes of the land. As in the drama Gabriel's proclamation is followed by protest and rebellion, so in the Netherlands the unjust edicts of Philip were the primary cause of revolt.

It was the sworn duty of the Stadtholder, William of Orange, even as of the Stadtholder Lucifer, to maintain the laws of his superior. Orange also held a position similar to that of Lucifer. He was the favorite of Charles V., Stadtholder of Holland, and Knight of the Golden Fleece. Each placed himself at the head of the disaffected at their earnest importunity. Each was accused of ambition. Each accomplished his designs by Machiavelian methods, and attained a brief exaltation.

Cardinal Granvelle, who held a position similar to Adam in the drama, was, like him, of low descent; and was honored with greater privileges than even the nobles themselves, who hated him intensely. The opponents of the Cardinal changed the liveries of their servants into motley to mock him; so, also, we hear Lucifer say to his minions:

"Lay off your morning rays and wreaths of light."

The nobles complained of the presence of Spanish troops in the land; so the Luciferians speak of "Adam's life-guard, many thousand strong." The arguments of the drama were also the arguments advanced by the several parties in the Dutch revolt.

The three hierarchies of Heaven in the "Lucifer" correspond to Margaret's three Councils of State. Lucifer, though described as nighest to God, belonged only to the third rank of the hierarchies; just as Orange, though first among the Dutch noblemen, and next to Philip II., was yet subject to the State as Stadtholder.

Brederode, as the head of the aristocrats who went with supplications to Margaret of Parma, bears a close analogy to Belzebub, where the latter says to the Luciferians,

"With prayers ye first and best might gain your end,"

and where, too, he expresses his willingness to act as mediator. In this scheme, furthermore, Apollion would represent Louis of Nassau, and Belial, Marnix St. Aldegonde.

Others see in the drama the career of the great Wallenstein, the ambitious Generalissimo of the Thirty Years' War. In his envy of the son of his emperor, and in his desire to place the crown of Hungary on his own head, an analogy is suggested to Lucifer's attitude to Adam. Even as the celestial rebels swore their chief allegiance, so, too, his generals, after the reverse of Pilsen, when his enemies wished to deprive him of his command, swore him faith and fealty.

Vondel, it is asserted, was conscious of this when he dedicated this drama to Ferdinand the Third, Emperor of Austria, who was no other than the intended King of Hungary who had aroused the envy of Wallenstein, and whose succession to the crown had been so much endangered by the latter's treachery.

But there is yet another view of the subject, which has even more show of probability than either of the others. It is supposed by many that the "Lucifer" was intended to represent the English Rebellion of 1648. Lucifer in this analogy is supposed to represent Cromwell, whom Vondel hated so bitterly and against whom he thundered such tremendous invective. Indeed, there are some external circumstances in support of this theory. Speaking of his lampoons on the great English rebel, the poet says that they were written the same year that he "taught Lucifer his rôle to play." He also says elsewhere that the "Lucifer" was presented,

"Forsooth, as edifying lore,
Wherein proud England hath much store."

If the last supposition be true, the drama is remarkable as prophesying the fall of the Commonwealth, and the Restoration. It would then, moreover, not be uninteresting to compare it with Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel," in which Oliver Cromwell is also one of the chief characters.


Yet we cannot believe that the "Lucifer" is a political allegory. Vondel was no more the poet of the "Palamedes." Those thirty years had wonderfully developed his art. Nor is it an idyllic allegory like the "Comus;" but, like the "Divina Commedia," an allegory of the world. Yet behind the characters of the sacred legend we may also see the national heroes, Siegfried, Beowulf, Civilis, Orange.

The "Lucifer" represents the gigantic and eternal battle of evil with good, with the universe as the battle-field—a type of the unending conflict in which the good finally conquers. We see here the Oriental imagination curbed by the reason of the Occident—the cold, statuesque Greek form aglow with the blazing Hebrew soul. The flaming Seraph of Christianity, winged with truth and armed with the lightning sword of Jehovah and the blasting thunderbolts of Jupiter, sweeps triumphant through the whole drama. Right prevails; wrong is overthrown.

The "Lucifer" is a theory of existence, a scheme of the universe. It is the revolt of the aspiring ideal against the invincible actual. It is the material against the spiritual; the unknown rendered comprehensible by the symbolism of the known.

"From shadowy types to truth; from flesh to spirit"

—this is the order of its progression.

It is the revolution of the speculative against the rule of dogma; an impassioned contemplation of life, in which the whole gamut of human feelings is harmoniously sounded; in which every link in the chain of causation is struck into the music of its meaning; in which the past and the future are mirrored in the present.

It is the struggle of a soul against the unchangeable environment of fate; the drama of the collective human soul aspiring from a chaos of unrest to the unattainable peace of absolute truth.

Furthermore, the tragedy typifies the character of the Hollanders themselves; a people who, as Charles V. once remarked, made "the best of subjects, but the worst of slaves;" a nation that has ever been in revolt, not only against man, but even against the sublime forces of nature; a race that has never known defeat.

The Batavians, who under Claudius Civilis carried on a successful rebellion against the all-conquering eagles of Rome—the only Germans who never bowed beneath the Latin yoke—and their Saxon descendants, who were the strongest foes of the territorial aggressions of Charlemagne, were all flamed with the same unconquerable spirit. It was this spirit, too, that enabled the Hollanders of the seventeenth century, after more than eighty years of terrible conflict, to free themselves alike from the grinding oppression of Spain and the still more oppressive coils of religious tyranny.

The Dutch struggle itself was a terrific drama, of which William the Silent was the protagonist, and liberty the one controlling purpose that animated every character, that impelled every action. It was the details, the reasons, the arguments, and the conditions of this stupendous struggle that were before the poet's mind when he wrote this tragedy.

The "Lucifer," though a symbolic sketch of the age which preceded it, is essentially a drama embodying the spirit of the time in which it was created. It is a reflex of the life of that epoch, the embodiment of the soul consciousness of the "storm and stress" period of Vondel's own life. He himself was in perpetual revolt against the universal practices of his age.

Is it a wonder that men, seeing in it not only a picture of themselves, but also of their time, were at once attracted by its significance?

The Titanic imagination of the "Nibelungen" and the tremendous imagery of "Beowulf" were both the inevitable expression of the tumultuous soul of the Teuton, conscious of a great destiny. This was in the dawn of the nation's childhood.

We next view the race in the pride of its glorious youth, rousing itself, after the sleep of centuries, to gigantic action. From that age sprang the "Lucifer."

We then see it in the maturity of noble, reflecting manhood, whose years have given dignity and strength. "Faust" stands before us as its full expression. And Vondel and Goethe are each the "Seeing Eye" that pierced the hidden mystery of his time. Each in his own way solved the world riddle.

Like "Faust," the "Lucifer" is "ever more a striving towards the highest existence." True, the striving hero has here been hurled to the depths of the lowest abyss; yet is not his motive also the animating spirit of the race, ever onward and upward towards the unattainable?

Like the defeated Lucifer in Hell, the Teuton is ever evolving courage for a new attempt, fired with the hope that never despairs.

"Siegfried," "Beowulf," and "Lucifer," all typify the Anglo-Saxon spirit of revolt, that love of freedom and that strong individualism which has always been the distinguishing characteristic of the Low Germans.

Of the "Lucifer," therefore, it may truly be said, it is the biography of a national soul.


Bibliography of Vondelian Literature.

JOOST VAN DEN VONDEL, SEIN LEBEN UND SEINE WERKE. Von A. Baumgartner, S.J. Freiburg-im Breisgau, 1882. Pages 344-347, synopsis of Vondel's works.

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF VONDEL'S WORKS. J.H.W. Unger. Amsterdam, 1888 (Frederic Muller & Co.). All editions of the "Lucifer" are here mentioned. This volume is in the library of Columbia University.

For the student we would recommend the excellent little edition of the "Lucifer" edited by N.A. Cramer (1891). Price 40 cents. Publisher, W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle, Holland.

BIOGRAPHY OF VONDEL. By Brandt. W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle.

BIOGRAPHY OF VONDEL. By Dr. G. Kalff. W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle.

We also heartily recommend the following studies by Dr. Kalff: "The Literature and Drama of Amsterdam during the Seventeenth Century;" "The Sources of Vondel's Works," in vol. xii. of Oud Holland (magazine); "Vondel as Translator," in Tydschrift (magazine) Voor Nederlandsche Taal en Letterkunde (1894); "Vondel's Self-Criticism," same magazine (1895); "Origin and Growth of Vondel's Poems," same magazine (1896).

VONDEL AND MILTON. August Müller. 1864.


MILTON AND VONDEL: A Curiosity of Literature. George Edmundson, M.A. Trübner & Co., London, 1885.

VONDEL AND MILTON. Edmund W. Gosse. "Northern Studies." Also in "Littell's Living Age," vol. cxxxiii., page 500; and in the "Academy," vol. xxxviii., page 613.

David Haek (1854). JUSTUS VON DEN VONDEL: ein betrag zur geschichte des Niederländischen schriftthums. Hamburg, 1890.

WORKS OF VONDEL, twelve volumes, in association with his life, by Jacob van Lennep.

VONDEL'S LUCIFER. Agnes Repplier. "Catholic World," vol. xlii., page 959.

The Fallen Morning Star The Falling Morning Star

"Praecipitemque immani turbine adegit"

J. van Vondel's


A tragedy



To the invincible Prince and Lord, the Lord Ferdinand the Third, elected Emperor of Rome, Perpetual Increaser of the Empire.

As the Divine Majesty is throned amid unapproachable splendors, so, too, the Sovran Powers of the world, which owe their lustre to God, and are made in the image of the Godhead, are seated on high, crowned with glory. But as the Godhead, or, rather, the Supreme Goodness, favors the least and most humble with access to His throne, so, too, doth the temporal power deem its most insignificant subject worthy to kneel reverentially at its feet.

Inspired with this hope, my muse is encouraged from afar to dedicate to your Imperial Majesty this Tragedy of Lucifer, whose style demands a most liberal degree of that gravity and stateliness of which the poet speaks:

"Omne genus scripti gravitate Tragoedia vincit."

"Sublime in style and deep in tone,
The tragic art doth stand alone."

Though whatever of the requisite sublimity may be wanting in the style will be compensated by the subject of the drama, and the title, name, and eminence of the personage who, the mirror of all ungrateful and ambitious ones, doth here invest the tragic scene, the Heavens; from which he, who once presumed to sit by the side of God, and thought to become His equal, was cast, and justly condemned to eternal darkness.

This unhappy example of Lucifer, the Archangel, and at one time the most glorious of all the Angels, has since been followed, through nearly all the centuries, by various rebellious usurpers, of which both ancient and modern histories bear witness, showing how violence, cunning, and the wily plots of the wicked, disguised beneath a show and pretext of lawfulness, are idle and powerless so long as God's Providence protects the anointed Powers and Dynasties, to the peace and safety of divers states, which, without a lawful supreme head, could not exist in civil intercourse. Therefore, God's Oracle Himself, for the good of mankind, by one word identified the Sovran Power as His own, when He commanded that to God and to Caesar should be rendered the things that to each were due.

Christendom, so often attacked on every side, and at present beset by Turk and Tartar, like unto a ship on a stormy sea, in danger of ship-wreck, demands to the highest degree this universal reverence for the Empire, that thereby the hereditary foe of Christ's name may be repulsed, and that the Realm and its frontiers may be strengthened and rendered safe against the incursions of his savage hordes; wherefore it behooves us to praise God that it pleased Him to continue the Authority and the Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, at the last Imperial Diet, before his father's death, in the son, Ferdinand the Fourth, a blessing which has filled so many nations with courage, and which causes the tragic trumpet of our Netherland Muse to sound more boldly before the throne of the High Germans concerning the vanquished Lucifer, borne along in Michael's triumph.

Your Imperial Majesty's

Most humble servant,


On the Portrait of His Imperial Majesty. Ferdinand the Third.

When Joachim Sandrart van Stokou, out of Vienna, in Austria, honored me with his Majesty's portrait, adorned with festoons and other ornaments.

Deus nobis haec otia fecit.

The Sun of Austria uplifts his glorious rays
From shadow-glooms of art to bless each wondering eye.
Behold him on his throne, high towering in the sky!
Nor doth he scorn to beam on all his glance surveys.

Good Ferdinand the Third, born for the sovran crown.
A Father of the Peace, a new Augustus, shows
His Son the heights whereon the heavenly palace glows;
And teaches how with arms of Peace to win renown.

How blest the mighty realm, how blest their destinies,
O'er which his gracious eyes keep sleepless vigils kind.
And where he holds the Scales for holy Justice blind!
An Eagle brought him sword and sceptre from the skies.

A crown adorns the head which empires grand engage:
This Head adorns the Crown, and makes a golden age.

A Word to All Fellow-Academicians and Patrons of the Drama.

To reïnkindle your zeal for art, and at the same time to edify and to quicken your spirit, the holy tragic scene, which represents the Heavens, is here presented to your view.

The great Archangels. Lucifer and Michael, each strengthened by his followers, come on the stage, and play their parts.

The stage and the actors are, in sooth, of such nature, and so glorious, that they demand a grander style and higher buskins than I know how to put on. No one who understands the speech of the infallible oracles of the Holy Spirit will judge that we present here the story of Salmoneus, who, in Elis, mounted upon his chariot, while defying Jupiter, and imitating his thunder and lightning by riding over a brazen bridge, holding a burning torch, was slain by a thunderbolt.

Nor do we renew here the grey fable of the war of the Titans, in which disguise Poesy sought to make its auditors forget their reckless presumption and godless sacrilege, and to acquire a knowledge of nature instead; namely, that the air and the winds, locked within the hollow belly and the sulphurous bowels of the earth, seeking, at times, an outlet, accompanied by the violence of bursting rocks, and by smoke and steam and flames and earthquakes and dreadful mutterings, are vomited, and, rising heavenwards, again descend, strewing and heaping the surface of land and sea with stones and ashes.

Among the Prophets, Isaiah and Ezekiel assure us of the fall of the Archangel and his faction. In the Evangelist, Christ, truest of all oracles, with His voice, out of the Heavens, enjoins us to hear; and finally, Judas Thaddeus, His faithful apostle; which parables are worthy to be engraved in eternal diamond, and, more worthy still, upon our hearts.

Isaiah cries: "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning! How art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations!

"And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend to Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north:

"I will ascend above the height of the clouds. I will be like the Most High.

"But yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, into the depth of the pit."

God speaks through Ezekiel thus: "Thou wast the seal of resemblance, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. Thou wast in the pleasures of the paradise of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the jasper, the chrysolite and the onyx and the beryl, the sapphire and the carbuncle and the emerald; gold was thy adornment. Thy pipes were prepared in the day thou wast created. Thou didst spread thyself like an overshadowing cherub, and I set thee on the mountain of God. Thou didst walk in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day of thy creation, until iniquity was found in thee."

Both of these parables are spoken, the one of the King of Babylon, the other of the King of Tyre, who, like unto Lucifer in pride and in splendor, were threatened and punished.

Jesus Christ refers to the fall of the rebellious Lucifer, where he says: "I saw Satan like lightning falling from Heaven."

And Thaddeus reveals the fall of the Angels and their crime, and the punishments which followed thereon, without any palliation, briefly, in this manner: "And the Angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved with everlasting chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great God."

Stayed by these golden sayings, and in particular by that of Judas Thaddeus, disciple of the Heavenly Teacher and Ambassador from the King of kings, we receive, as upon a shield of adamant, the darts of the unbelieving who would dare to cast a doubt upon the fall of the Angels.

Besides this, we are strongly supported throughout the whole period of antiquity by the most illustrious of the devout Church Fathers, who, in respect to the plot of this history, are unanimously agreed: though, lest we detain our Academic friends, we shall be content to cite only three places, the first taken out of the holy Cyprian, Bishop and martyr at Carthage, where he writes: "When he who was formerly throned in angelic majesty and accounted worthy by God and pleasing in his sight, saw man, made in God's own image, he burst into malicious hate; not, however, causing him to fall by poisoning him with this hatred, ere he himself was thereby also undone—himself made captive ere he captured, and ruined ere he brought him to ruin. While he, spurred on by envy, robbed man of the grace of immortality once given him, he himself also lost all that he had before possessed,"

The great Gregory furnishes us the second quotation: "The rebellious Angel, created to shine preëminent among hosts of Angels, is through his pride brought to such a fall that he now remains subject to the dominion of the loyal Angels."

The third and last evidence we cull from the sermons of the mellifluous St. Bernard: "Shun pride; I pray you, shun it. The source of all transgression is pride, which hath overcast Lucifer himself, shining most splendidly amongst the stars, with eternal darkness. Not only an Angel, but the chief among Angels, it hath changed into a Devil."

Pride and envy, the two causes or inciters of this horrible conflagration of discord and battle, are represented by us as a team of starred animals, the Lion and the Dragon, which, harnessed to Lucifer's battle-chariot, carry him against God and Michael; seeing that these animals are types of these two deadly sins. For the Lion, king of beasts, encouraged by his strength, in his vanity, thinks no one above him; and envy injures the envied from afar, even as the Dragon wounds his enemy a long way off by shooting poison [from his tongue].

St. Augustine, ascribing these two deadly sins to Lucifer, pictures the nature of the same most vividly, saying that pride is a love of one's own greatness; but envy is a hatred of another's happiness, the outcome of which seems clear enough. "For each one," says he, "who loves his own greatness envies his equals, inasmuch as they stand as high as he; or envies his inferiors, lest they become his equals; or his superiors, because they are above him."

Now, since the beasts themselves were abused and possessed by the damned Spirits, as in the beginning the Paradise Serpent, and in the holy age the herd of swine, that with a loud noise was precipitated into the sea, and since, also, the constellations are pictured on the Heavens in the forms of animals, as hath been thought even by the Prophets, as the Pleiades, or Seven Stars, and Arcturus, Orion, and Lucifer; so may it please you to overlook the elaborateness and the didacticism of this drama, if the unfortunate Spirits upon our stage, by means of the same, help and defend themselves: for to the infernal monsters nothing is more natural than cunning traits and the abuse of all creatures and elements, to the prejudice of the name and honor of the Most High, so far as He shall this permit.

St. John, in his Revelation, typifies the heavenly mysteries and the war in Heaven by the Dragon, whose tail drew after him a third part of the stars, supposed by the theologians to refer to the fallen Angels; wherefore in Poetry the flowered manner of expression should not be examined too narrowly, nor regulated by the subtlety of the schools.

We should also make distinction between the two kinds of characters who contend on this stage; namely, the bad and the good Angels, each kind playing its own rôle, even as Cicero and our inborn sense of verisimilitude teach us to picture each character according to his rank and nature.

At the same time we by no means deny that holy subject matter restrains and binds the dramatist more closely than worldly histories or pagan fables, notwithstanding that ancient and famous motto of the poets, expressed by Horatius Flaccus in his "Art of Poetry" in these lines:

"The painter and the bard did both this power receive,
To aid their art with all that they of use believe."

Though here it is especially noteworthy to state how we, in order to inflame the hate of the proud and envious Spirits the more strongly, did cause the mystery of the future incarnation of the Word to be partially revealed to the Angels by the Archangel Gabriel, Ambassador from God, and Herald of His Mysteries; herein to improve the matter, following not the opinion of the majority of the theologians, but only of a few, because this furnished our tragic picture richer material and more lustre. However, neither in this point nor in other circumstances of cause, time, place, and manner (which we employed to render this tragedy more powerful, more glorious, more natural, and more instructive) has it been our purpose to obscure the orthodox truth, or to establish anything after our own finding or notion.

St. Paul, the revealer of God's mysteries to the Hebrews, extols most enviably—even to the prejudice of the kingdom of the lying and tempting Spirits—the glory, might, and Godhead of the Incarnate Word, preëminent among all Angels in name, in sonship, and in heirship; in the adoration of the Angels; in His unction; in His exaltation at God's right hand; and in the eternity of His rulership as a king over the coming world, as the cause and the end of all things, and as the crowned Head of men and Angels: while the Angels, His worshippers, God's messengers, as ministering Spirits, are sent to serve man, the heir of salvation, whose nature God's Son, passing the Angels by, hath taken upon Himself in the blood of Abraham.

By occasion of this justification, I do not deem it unsuitable here, in passing, to say a few words in vindication of those dramas and dramatists that employ Biblical subjects, inasmuch as they have, occasionally, come into reproach; since, forsooth, human tastes are so various; for a difference in temperament causes the same subject to be agreeable to one which is repulsive to another.

All honorable arts and customs have their supporters and opponents, also their proper use and abuse. The holy writers of tragedy have, among the ancient Hebrews, for their example, the poet Ezekiel, who has left us, in Greek, the exodus of the twelve tribes from Egypt. Among the reverend Church Fathers, they have that bright star out of the East, Gregory of Nazianzus, who, in Greek dramatic verse, hath pictured the Crucified Saviour Himself; as also, not long since, we became indebted to the Royal Ambassador, Hugo Grotius, that great light of the learning and piety of our age, who, following in the track of St. Gregory, hath given us the Crucified One in Latin, for which immortal and edifying labor we owe him both honor and thankfulness.

Among the English Protestants, the learned pen of Richard Baker hath discoursed very freely in prose concerning Lucifer and all the acts of the rebellious Spirits.

It is true that the Fathers of the Ancient Church banished the Christian actors from the community of the Church, and that from that time forth they were strongly opposed to the drama. But let us take into consideration the time and the fact that their reasons for this were far different. At that period the world, in many places, was yet deeply sunken in heathenish idolatry. The foundations of Christianity were not yet well established, and the dramas were played in honor of Cybele, a great goddess and mother of their imagined gods, and were esteemed a serviceable expedient with which to avert the land plagues from the bodies of the people.

St. Augustine testifies how a heathen archpriest, a minister of Numa's ritual and idol service, on account of a deadly pest, first instituted the drama at Rome, sanctioning it by his authority.

Scaliger himself acknowledges that it was established for the health of the people by order of the Sibyls, so that these plays became a truly powerful incentive to the blind idolatry of the heathen, extolling their gods—a cankering abomination, whose destruction cost the first heroes of the Cross and the long-struggling Church so much sweat and blood; but being now long extirpated, hath left in Europe not a vestige behind.

That the holy old Church Fathers, therefore, for these reasons, and also because of their corrupting the public morals, and various open and shameless customs, as the employment of naked boys, women, and maidens, and other obscenities, should rebuke these plays, was needful and commendable, as, in that case, would also be so now. This being considered, let us not hold the good and the usefulness of edifying and entertaining plays too lightly.

Holy and honorable examples serve as a mirror, reflecting for our edification all virtue and piety, and teaching us, at the same time, to shun wickedness and its consequent misery.

The purpose and design of true tragedy is through terror and sympathy to stir the spectators to tenderness. Through the drama, students and growing youth are cultivated in the languages, eloquence, wisdom, modesty, good morals and manners; and these sink into their tender hearts and are impressed upon their senses, conducing towards habits of propriety and discretion, which remain with them, and to which they adhere even until old age; yea, it occurs, at times, that erratic geniuses, not to be bent or diverted by ordinary methods, are touched by this subtle art and by an exalted dramatic style, thus influenced beyond their own suspicion; even as a delicate lyre-string gives forth an answering sound when its companion string, of the same kind and nature, of a similar tone, and strung on another lyre, is caressed by a skilled hand, which, while playing, can drive the turbulent spirit out of a possessed and hardened Saul.

The history of the early Church seals this with the noteworthy examples of Genesius and Ardaleo, both actors, enlightened in the theatre by the Holy Ghost, and there converted; for they, while playing, wishing to mock the Christian Religion, were convicted of the truth, which they had learned out of their serious rôles, filled with the pith of wisdom, rather than with trifling discourse to be mouthed for hours into the air and more vexatious than instructive.

They tell us in regard to Biblical subject matter that we should not play with holy things, and, indeed, this seems to have some show of plausibility in our language, which hath given us the word play; but he that can stammer but a word or two of Greek knows that among the Greeks and Latins this word was not used in this sense; for τραγῳδία [Greek: tragoodia] is a compound word, and really means a goat-song, after the lyric contests of the shepherds, instituted for the purpose of winning a goat by singing, in which custom the tragic songs, and, following them, dramatic plays, took their origin. And if one would, nevertheless, unmercifully bring us to task on account of this word play, what then shall be done with organ play, David's harp and song play, and the play on the instrument with ten strings, and the other kinds of play on flute and stringed instruments, introduced by various sects among the Protestants into their meetings?

He, then, who appreciates this distinction will, while condemning the abuses of the dramatic art, not be ungracious towards the proper use of the same; nor will he begrudge the youth and the art-loving burghers this glorious, yea, this divine, invention, to them an honorable recreation and a refreshing amelioration of the trials of life; so that we, hereby encouraged, may with greater zeal bring Lucifer upon the stage, where he, finally smitten by God's thunderbolt, plunges down into hell—the mirror clear of all ungrateful ambitious ones who audaciously dare to exalt themselves, setting themselves against the consecrated Powers and Majesties and their lawful superiors.


Lucifer Lucifer.

The Argument

Lucifer, the Archangel, chief and most illustrious of all the Angels, proud and ambitious, out of blind self-love envied God His boundless greatness; he also became jealous of man, made in God's image, to whom, in his delightful Paradise, was entrusted the sovereignty of earth.

He envied God and man the more when Gabriel, God's Herald, proclaiming all Angels to be but ministering Spirits, revealed the mysteries of God's future incarnation, whereby, the Angels being passed by, the real nature of man, united with the Godhead, might expect a power and majesty equal to God's own. Wherefore, the proud and envious Spirit, attempting to place himself on an equality with God, and to keep man out of Heaven, through his accomplices, incited to arms innumerable Angels, and led them, notwithstanding Rafael's warning, against Michael. Heaven's Field-marshal, and his legions; and ceasing the fight, after his defeat, he caused, out of revenge, the first man, and in him all his descendants, to fall, while he himself, with all his co-rebels, was plunged into hell and eternal damnation.

The scene is in the Heavens.

Dramatis Personæ.

BELIAL,       }     Rebellious Chiefs.
GABRIEL,           God's Herald of Mysteries.
LUCIFER,           Stadtholder.
LUCIFERIANS,  Seditious Spirits.
MICHAEL,          Field-marshal.
RAFAEL,            Guardian Angel.
URIEL,               Michael's Armor-bearer.



My Belial hence hath sped on aery wings
To see where lingers our Apollion,
Whom for such flight most fit Chief Lucifer
Hath sent to Earth that he might gain for him
A better sense of Adam's bliss, the state,
Where placed by Powers Omnipotent he dwells.
And lo! the time draws nigh that he return
Unto these courts. He cannot now be far.
A watchful servant heeds his master's glance
And, faithful, stays his throne with neck and shoulder. 10


Lord Belzebub, thou Privy Councillor
Of Heaven's Stadtholder, he riseth steep
And wheels from sphere to sphere into our view;
The wind he passes by and leaves a track
Of light and splendor in his wake, where cleave,
His speedy wings the clouds; and now our air
He scents in other day and brighter sun,
Whose glow is mirrored in the crystal blue.
The heavenly globes beneath behold his flight,
As up he mounts, and each with wonder sees 20
His speed and godlike grace. He seems to them
No more an Angel but a flying fire.
No star so swiftly shoots. Behold him now,
Here upwards soaring, and within his hands
He bears a golden bough. The steep incline
He hath accomplished happily.


What brings


I have, Lord Belzebub,
The low terrene observed with keenest eye.
And now I offer thee the fruits grown there
So far below these heights, 'neath other skies 30
And other sun: now judge thou from the fruit
The land and garden which even God Himself
Hath blessed and planted for mankind's delight.


I see the golden leaves, all laden with
Ethereal pearls, the sparkling silvery dew.
What sweet perfume exhale those radiant leaves
Of tint unfading! How alluring glows
That pleasant fruit with crimson and with gold!
'Twere pity to pollute it with the hands.
The eye doth tempt the mouth. Who would not lust 40
For earthly luxury! He loathes our day
And food celestial, who the fruit may pluck
Of Earth. One would for Adam's garden curse
Our Paradise. The bliss of Angels fades
In that of man.


Too true. Lord Belzebub,
Though high our Heaven may seem, 'tis far too low,
For what I saw with mine own eyes deceives
Me not. The world's delights, yea, Eden's fields
Alone, our Paradise excel.


We'll hear what thou shalt say. We'll hear together. 50


I'll pass my journey thither by nor tell
How downward sweeping through nine spheres I sped.
That swift as arrows round their centre whirl.
The wheel of sense revolves within our thoughts
Not with such speed, as I beneath the moon
And clouds dropped down. Where then aloft I hung,
On floating pinions, to survey that shore,
That Eastern landscape far that marks the face
Of that great sphere the flowing ocean rounds,
Wherein so many kinds of monsters swarm. 60
Afar I saw a lofty mount emerge,
From which a waterfall, fount of four streams,
Dashed with a roar into the vale below.
Headlong I steered my course oblique, with steep
Descent, until I gained the mountain's brow,
Whence, resting, all the nether world I viewed,
Its happy fields and glowing opulence.

Apollion's Meeting with Belzebub and Belial "I see golden leaves, all laden with
Ethereal pearls, the sparkling silvery dew."


Now picture us the garden and its shape.


Round is the garden, as the world itself.
Above the centre looms the mount from which 70
The fountain gushes that divides in four,
And waters all the land, refreshing trees
And fields; and flows in unreflective rills
Of crystal purity. The streams their rich
Alluvion bring and nourish all the ground.
Here Onyx gleams and Bdellion doth shine;
And bright as Heaven glows with glittering stars;
So here Dame Nature sowed her constellations
Of stones that pale our stars. Here dazzle veins
Of gold; for Nature wished to gather all 80
Her treasures in one lap.


What of the air
That hovers round whereby that creature lives?


No Angel us among, a breath exhales
So soft and sweet as the pure draught refreshing
That there meets man, that lightly cools his face
And with its gentle, vivifying touch
All things caresses in its blissful course:
There swells the bosom of the fertile field
"With herb and hue and bud and branch and bloom
And odors manifold, which nightly dews 90
Refresh. The rising and the setting sun
Know and observe their proper, measured time
And so unto the need of every plant
Temper their mighty rays that flower and fruit
Are all within the selfsame season found.


Now tell me of man's features and his form.


Who would our state for that of man prefer,
When one beholdeth beings, all-surpassing,
Beneath whose sway all other beings stand!
I saw a hundred thousand creatures move 100
Before me there: all they that tread the earth
And they that cleave the clouds, or swim the stream,
As is their wont, each in his element.
Who should the nature and the attributes
Of each one know as Adam! For 'twas he
That gave them, one by one, their various names.
The mountain-lion wagged his tail and smiled
Upon his lord. And, at his sovereign's feet,
The tiger, too, his fierceness laid. The bull
Bowed low his horns; the elephant, his trunk. 110
The bear forgot his rage. The griffin heard
His call; the eagle and the dragon dread,
Behemoth and even great Leviathan.
Nor shall I tell what praise rings in man's ears,
Amid those warbling bowers, replete with songs
in many tongues; while zephyrs rustle through
The leaves, and brooks purl 'neath their sylvan banks
A murmurous harmony that wearies never.
Had but Apollion his mission then
Accomplished, sooth, in Adam's Paradise 120
He soon had lost all memory of Heaven.


But what, pray, of the twain thou sawest there?


No creature hath on high mine eye so pleased
As those below. Who could so subtly soul
With body weave and two-fold Angels form
From clay and bone? The body's shapely mould
Attests the Maker's art, that in the face,
The mirror of the mind, doth best appear.
But wonderful! upon the face is stamped
The image of the soul. All beauty here 130
Concentres, while a god looks through the eyes.
Above the whole the reasoning soul doth hover,
And while the dumb and brutish beasts all look
Down towards their feet, man proudly lifts alone
His head to Heaven, in lofty praise to God.


His praise is not in vain for gifts so rare.


He rules even like a god whom all must serve.
The invisible soul consists of spirit and not
Of matter, and it rules in every limb:
The brain it makes its seat, and there holds court. 140
It is immortal, nor fears aught of rust,
Or other injury. 'Tis past our sense.
Knowledge and prudence, virtue and free-will,
Are its possessions. Dumb all Spirits stand
Before its majesty. Ere long the world
Shall teem with men. It waits, from little seed,
A harvest rich in souls; and therefore God
Did man to woman join.


Now say me how
Thou dost regard his rib—his lovèd spouse?


I covered with my wings mine eyes and face 150
That I might curb my thoughts and deep delight,
When erst she filled my gaze, as Adam led her
Into their arborous bower with gentle hand:
From time to time he stopped, in contemplation;
And gazing thus, a holy fire began
His pure breast to inflame. And then he kissed
His bride and she her bridegroom: thus on joy
Their nuptials fed—on feasts of fiery love,
Better imagined far than told, a bliss
Divine beyond all Angel ken. How poor 160
Our loneliness! For us no union sweet
Of two-fold sex, of maiden and of man.
Alas! how much of good we miss: we know
No mate or happy marriage in a Heaven
Devoid of woman.


Thus in time a world
Of men shall be begotten there below?


The love of beauty, fashioned in the brain,
Deeply impressèd by the senses keen,
This makes their union strong. Their life consists
Alone in loving and in being loved- 170
One sweet, one mutual joy, by them indulged
Perpetually, yet e'er unquenchable.


Now picture me the bride, described from life.


That Nature's pencil needs, nor lesser hues
Than sunbeams. Perfect are both man and wife;
Of equal beauty they, from head to foot.
By right doth Adam Eve excel in strength
Of form and majesty of bearing, as
One chosen for the sovereignty of Earth:
But Eve combines all that her bridegroom joys: 180
A tenderness of limb and softer skin
And flesh, a lovelier tint and eyes enchanting,
A charming, gracious mouth, a sweeter voice,
Whose power lies in a sound more exquisite;
Two founts of ivory and what besides
No tongue should dare to name, lest Spirits should
Be tempted. And though all the Angels now
Impress our eyes as beautiful and fair.
How ill their forms and faces would appear
If seen within the rosy morning-light 190
Of maidenhood!

Adam and Eve in Paradise before the Fall "Perfect are both man and wife;
Of equal beauty they from head to foot."


It seems that passion for
This feminine creature hath thy heart inflamed.


In that delightful blaze, my great wing-plumes
I singed. Most hard it was for me to rise
And wheel my way to this our high abode.
I parted, though with pain, and thrice turned back
My gaze. There shines no Seraph in the courts
Celestial, here on high, as she amid
Her hanging hair, that forms a golden niche
Of sunbeams that in beauteous waves roll down 200
From her fair head, and flow along her back.
So, even as from a light, she comes to view,
And day rejoices with her radiant face.
Though pearl and mother-o'-pearl seem purity,
Her whiteness even theirs surpasses far.


What profits human glory, if even as
A flower of the field it fades and dies?


So long their garden fruit doth give, shall this
Most happy pair live by an apple sweet,
Grown on the central tree, that nurture finds 210
Beside the stream that laves its tender roots.
This wondrous tree is called the tree of life.
'Tis incorruptible, and through it man
Joys life eterne and all immortal things,
While of his Angel brothers he becomes
The peer, yea, and shall in the end surpass
Them all, until his power and sway and realm
Spread over all. For who can clip his wings?
No Angel hath the power to multiply
His being a thousand thousand times, in swarms 220
Innumerable. Now do thou calculate
What shall from this, in time, the outcome be.


Great is man's might, that thus even ours out-grows!


Soon shall his increase frighten and astound.
Though now his sway stoops lower than the moon,
And though 'tis now determinate, he shall
Yet higher rise and place himself upon
The highest seat in Heaven. If God prevent
Not this, how then can we prevent it? For
God loves man well and for him made all things. 230


What hear I there? A trumpet? Surely then
A voice will follow. Go, see, while we here


The Archangel Gabriel is at hand,
And in his wake the choristers of Heaven,
In the name of Him, the Highest, to unfold,
As Herald from the towering Throne of Thrones,
What there him was enjoined.


We please to hear
Whatever the Archangel shall command.



Give ear, ye Angels all; give ear, ye hosts
Of Heaven. The highest Goodness, from whose breast 240
Flow all things good and all things holy, who
Of His beneficence ne'er wearied grows
And of whose teeming grace the riches never
Shall know decrease; whose might and Being transcend
The comprehension of His creatures all:
This Goodness, in the image of Himself,
Formed man, also the Angels that they might
Together here with Him securely hold
The Realm eterne—the good ne'er-comprehended.
Having the while with faithfulness maintained 250
His firm prescribed law. He also built
This wondrous universe, the world below
Made manifest, and meet for God and man,
That in this garden man might rule and there
Might multiply; acknowledge God with all
His seed; Him ever serve and e'er revere,
And thus mount up, by the stairway of the world,
The firmament of beatific light
Within, into the ne'er-created glow.
Though Spirits may seem pre-eminent, above 260
All other beings, yet God hath decreed,
Even from eternity, that man shall high
Exalted be, even o'er the Angel world;
Him destined for a glory and a crown
Of splendor not inferior to His own.
Ye shall behold the eternal Word above,
When clad in flesh and bone, anointed Lord
And Chief and Judge, mete justice to the hosts
Of Spirits, to Angels and to men alike,
From His high seat, in His unshadowed Realm. 270
There in the centre stands the holy Throne
Already consecrate. Let all the hosts
Angelic then have care to worship Him,
When He shall ride in triumph in, who hath
The human form exalted o'er our own.
Then dimly shines the bright translucent flame
Of Seraphim, beside this light of man,
This glow and radiance divine. The rays
Of Mercy shall all Nature's splendors drown.
'Tis fated thus—and stands irrevocable. 280


All that the Heavens ordain shall please God's hosts.


So be ye faithful, ever rendering thus
Both God and man your service: since mankind
So well belovèd are by God Himself.
Who honors Adam wins his Father's heart.
And men and Angels, issuing from one stem.
Are brothers and companions, chosen for
One lot, the sons and heirs of the Most High,
A stainless line. One undivided will,
One undivided love, be this your law. 290
Ye know how all the Angel hosts into
Three Hierarchies and lesser Orders nine
Are duly separate: of Seraphim
And Cherubim and Thrones, the highest, they
Who form God's inmost Council and confirm
All His commands; the second Hierarchy,
Of Dominations. Virtues. Powers, that on
The mandates of God's secret Council wait
And minister to man's well-being and bliss.
The third and lowest Hierarchy, composed 300
Of Principalities and all Archangels
And Angels, is unto the middle rank
Subordinate, and service finds beneath
The sphere of purest crystalline, in their
Particular charge, that wide is as the vault
Of starry space. And when the world shall spread
Its widening bounds without, shall unto each
Of these some province there allotted be,
Or he shall know what town or house or being
Is to his care committed, to the praise 310
And honor of God's crown. Ye faithful ones,
Ye Gods immortal, go then and obey
Chief Lucifer, bound by your God's commands.
Bring glory to high Heaven in serving man,
Each in his own retreat, each on his watch.
Let some before the Godhead incense burn
And lay before His towering Throne their prayers,
Their wishes and their offerings for mankind,
Singing the Godhead praise until the sounds
Re-echo through the corridors of Heaven, 320
In endless jubilation. Let some whirl
The constellations and the globes of Heaven,
Or open wide the skies, or pile them high
With pregnant clouds, to bless the mount below
With sunshine, or with soft, refreshing showers
Of manna and of pure mellifluous dews;
Where God is by the happy pair adored,
The primal innocence 'mid Eden's bowers.
Let those that air and fire and earth and sea
O'er range, each, in his element, his pace 330
So moderate, as Adam may require;
Or chain in bands the lightnings, curb the storm,
Or break the ocean's fury on the strand.
Let others make a charge of man himself.
Even to a hair the sovran Deity
Knoweth the hairs upon his head. Then bear
Him gently on your hands, lest he should dash
His foot against a stone. Let one now as
Ambassador from the Omnipotent
Be sent below to Adam. King of Earth. 340
That he perform his bounden charge. I voice
The orders to my trump on high enjoined.
To these the Godhead holds you firmly bound.

Chorus of Angels:


Who is it on His Throne, high-seated,
So deep in boundless realms of light,
Whose measure, space nor time hath meted,
Nor e'en eternity; whose might,
Supportless, yet itself maintaineth,
Floating on pinions of repose;
Who, in His mightiness ordaineth 350
What round and in Him changeless flows
And what revolves and what is driven
Around Him, centre of His plan;
The sun of suns, the spirit-leaven
Of space; the soul of all we can
Conceive, and of the unconceivèd,
The heart, the life, the fount, the sea,
And source of all things here perceivèd,
That from Him spring, that His decree
Omnipotent and Mercy flowing 360
And Wisdom from naught did evoke,
Ere this full-crownèd palace glowing,
The Heaven of Heavens, the darkness broke?
Where o'er our eyes our wings extending
To veil His dazzling Majesty,
'Mid harmonies to Him ascending,
We fall before Him tremblingly
And kneel, confused, in awe together.
Who is it? Name, or picture then
His Being with a Seraph's feather. 370
Or is't beyond your tongue and ken?

"Chorus of Angels" "Who is it on His Throne, high-seated?"


'Tis God: Being infinite, eternal,
Of everything that being has.
Forgive us, O! Thou Power supernal,
By all that is and ever was
Ne'er fully praised, ne'er to be spoken;
Forgive us, nor incensed depart,
Since no imagining, tongue nor token
Can Thee proclaim. Thou wert. Thou art
Fore'er the same. All Angel praising 380
And knowledge is but faint and tame.
'Tis but foul sacrilege, their phrasing;
For each bears his peculiar name
Save Thee. And who can by declaring
Reveal Thy name? And who make known
Thine oracles? Who is so daring?
He who Thou art Thou art alone.
Save Thee none knows Thy power transcendent.
Who grasps Thy full divinity?
Who dares to face Thy Throne resplendent, 390
The fierce glow of eternity?
To whom the light of light revealèd?
What's hid behind Thy sacred veil,
From us Thy Mercy hath concealèd.
Such bliss transcends the narrow pale
Of our weak might. Our life is waning;
But Thine, Lord, shall know endless days.
Our being in Thine finds its sustaining!
Exalt the Godhead! Sing His praise!


Holy! holy! once more holy! 400
Three times holy! Honor God!
Without Him is nothing holy!
Holy is His mighty nod!
Strong in mystery He reigneth!
His commands our tongues compel
To proclaim what He ordaineth,
What the faithful Gabriel
With his trumpet came expounding.
Praise of man to God redounding!
All that pleaseth God is well. 410

Act II.



Ye speedy Spirits, stay our chariot now,
God's Morning-star in its full zenith stands;
Its height is reached; and lo! the moment comes
When Lucifer must set before this star,
This double star that rises from below
And seeks the way above, to tarnish Heaven
With earthly glow. No more should ye adorn
Proud Lucifer's apparel with glittering crowns,
Nor gild his forehead with the glorious dawn
Of morning-star, to which Archangels kneel. 10
Another splendor sweeps into the light
Of God, whose radiance drowns our vaunted glory.
As to the eyes of man, below, the sun,
By day, puts out the stars. The shades of night
Bedim the Angels and the suns of Heaven:
For man hath won the heart of the Most High,
Within his new-created Paradise.
He is the friend of Heaven. Our slavery
Even now begins. Go hence, rejoice and serve
And honor this new race like servile slaves. 20
For God was man created; we, for him.
Let then the Angels bend their necks beneath
His feet. Let each one now upon him wait
And bear him even unto the highest Thrones
On hands or wings: for our inheritance
Shall pass to him, the chosen son of God.
We, the first-born, shall suffer in this Realm.
The son, born on that day, the sixth, and made
In the image of the Father, shall attain
The crown. And rightly unto him was given 30
The mighty sceptre, which shall cause even us,
The ones first born, to tremble and to shake.
Here holds no contradiction now: ye heard
What Gabriel's trump spake at the golden port?


O! Stadtholder of God's superior Powers,
Alas! we hear too well, amid the praise
Of choristers, a discord that makes sad
The feast eterne. The charge of Gabriel
Is clear. It needs no tongue of Cherubim
To unfold its sense. Nor was there need to send 40
Apollion below, a nearer view
To gain of Adam's realm beneath the moon.
How gloriously the Godhead dealt with him
Doth well appear. He hath, for his defence,
Even given a life-guard, many thousands strong,
While He supports his rank and dignity,
As if he were the supreme Chief of Spirits.
The massive gate of Heaven stands ajar
For Adam's seed. An earth-worm that hath crawled
Out of the dust—out of a clod of clay 50
Defies thy power. Thou shalt yet man behold
O'er thee exalted, so that thou shalt fall
Upon thy knees and there, abased, adore,
With drooping eyes, his lofty eminence,
His power and high authority. He shall,
When glorified by the Omnipotent,
Yet seat himself, even by the side of God,
Empowered to reign beyond the farthest rounds
And endless circles of eternity.
That, from the bounds of time and space set free, 60
Revolve unceasingly around one God,
Who is their centre and circumference.
What clearer proof need we to see that God
Shall glorify mankind, and us degrade?
For we were born to serve, and man, to rule.
Then henceforth put the sceptre from thy hand:
There is another one below, who reigns,
Or soon shall reign. Put off thy morning rays
And wreaths of light before this sun, or else
Have care to bring him in with songs of joy 70
And triumph and with honors full divine.
We soon shall see the Heavens changed in state.
Behold! the stars look out and from their paths
Retreat, aglow with longing to receive
With reverence this new and coming light.


That shall I thwart, if in my power it be.


There hear I Lucifer and him behold.
Who from Heaven's face can drive the night away.
Where he appears, day's glory dawns anew.
His crescent light, the first and nighest God, 80
Shall ne'er grow dim. His word is stern command;
His will and nod a law by none transgressed.
The Godhead is in him obeyed and served,
Praised, honored, and adored. Should then a voice
More faint than his now thunder from God's Throne?
Than his be more obeyed? Should God exalt
A younger son, begot of Adam's loins,
Even over him? That would most violate
The heirship of the eldest-born and rob
His splendor of its rays. 'Neath God Himself 90
None is so great as thou. The Godhead once
Set thee the first in glory at His feet.
Then let not man dare thus our order great
Profane, nor thus cast down these vested Rights
"Without a cause, or all of Heaven shall spring
To arms 'gainst one.

The Exaltation of Man "Thou shalt not yet man behold
O'er thee exalted, son that thou shalt fall
Upon thy knees, and there, abased, adore,
With drooping eyes his lofty eminence."


Indeed, thou sayest well:
It is not meet for Dominations grave,
Powers well-disposed in state, thus to give up
So loosely their established rights; and since
The Supreme Power is by His laws most bound. 100
To change becomes Him least. Am I a son
Of Light, a ruler of the light, my place
I shall maintain, to no usurper bow,
Not even this Arch-usurper. Let all yield
Who will, not one foot shall I e'er retreat.
Here is my Fatherland. Nor hardships dire
Nor yet disaster nor anathemas
Shall me intimidate, or tame. To die,
Or to gain port around this dreadful cape,
This is my destiny. Doth fate decree 110
That I must fall, of rank and honors shorn,
Then let me fall; but fall with this my crown
Upon my brow, this sceptre in my grasp,
With my own retinue of faithful troops,
And with these many thousands on my side.
Aye, thus to fall brings honor and shall shed
Unfading glory on my name: besides,
To be the first prince in some lower court
Is better than within the Blessed Light
To be the second, or even less. 'Tis thus 120
I weigh the stroke, nor harm nor hindrance fear.
But here, hardby, comes Heaven's Interpreter
And Herald vigilant, with God's own book
Of mysteries, committed to his care.
Most opportune for us his coming hither;
For I would question him. I shall accost
Him then, and from my chariot descend.



Lord Stadtholder, how? Whither bound?


To thee,
O Herald and Interpreter of Heaven.


Methinks I read thy purpose on thy brow. 130


Thou who canst fathom and who canst reveal,
Through the deep-searching light of thy mind's eye,
The shadowy mysteries of God, relieve
Me with thy coming.


What doth burden thee?


The late decision of the ruling Powers,
The new decree made by the Godhead, who
Esteems celestial joys as of less worth
Than earthly elements, oppresses Heaven,
Even from the low abyss the Earth exalts
Above the stars, sets man high in the seat 140
Of the Angels, whom, shorn of primordial powers,
He then commands for human happiness
To sweat and slave. The Spirits once consecrate
To service in empyreal palaces
Shall serve an Earth-worm that from out the dust
Hath crawled and grown; and on his bidding wait,
And see him them excel in rank and numbers.
Why doth the endless Mercy us degrade
So soon? What Angel hath forgot to render
Due reverence? How could the Deity 150
Mingle with base mankind and thus pass by
The nature of His chosen Angels here,
While His own nature and His Being He pours
Into a body?—thus eternity
Unite with its beginning, time, and what
Is highest to what is lowest of the low?
—The great Creator to His creature bind?
Who can the import glean of this decree?
Shall now eternity's bright, quenchless sun
Set in the gathering darkness of the world? 160
Shall we, the Stadtholder of God, thus kneel
Before this shadow power, this puny lord;
And see the countless hosts of souls divine
And incorporeal bow themselves before
A gross and sluggish element upon
Which God hath stamped His Being and majesty?
We Spirits are yet too gross to comprehend
This mystery. Thou, who the key dost guard
Of God's rich treasure-house of mysteries,
Unlock, if so thou mayest, this secret dark 170
From out thy sealèd book: unfold to us
The will of Heaven.


As much as is to us
Permitted to unfold out of God's book:
Much knowledge doth not profit one alway;
Indeed, may damage bring. The Sovran Power
Revealeth only what He deems most fit.
The inner light blinds even Seraphim.
The spotless Wisdom would, in part, her will
Conceal, in part would it disclose. Himself
E'er to submit and to conform unto 180
A well-established law, this best becomes
The subject, who unto his master's will
And charge stands bound. The reason why the Lord
(Which secret we shall know, when first shall pass
A lineage of Earth-born generations)
Who, in the course of time, both God and man
Become, shall reign,—shall sceptre sway, and rule,
Afar and wide, the stars, the sea, the Earth
And all that live, the Heavens conceal from thee:
Time shall divulge the cause. God's trumpet heed: 190
His will thou now hast heard.


Shall then on high
A worm, an alien, wield the greatest power?
Must they who native are to Heaven thus yield
To foreign rule? Shall man then found a throne
Even o'er the Throne of God?


Content thee with
Thy lot, the rank and state and worthiness
Once granted thee by God. For thee He made
The head of all the Hierarchies, though not
To envy others' glory or renown.
Rebellion flattens both her crown and head, 200
Whene'er she rears her crest 'gainst God's commands.
Thy splendor owes its lustre to God's power


Till now my crown hath bowed to none
But God.


Then also bow before this last
Decree of God, who leadeth all that have
Their being from naught, yea, all that e'er shall live,
Unto their end and certain destiny,
Though we may fail to comprehend His plan.


Thus to see man into the light of God
Exalted, to behold him deified 210
With God on His high Throne, to see towards him
The censers swinging 'mid the joyous tones
Of thousand thousand holy choristers,
With one voice pealing symphonies of praise—
Such grandeur doth bedim the lofty splendors,
And diamond rays of our own morning-star,
That dazzles then no more, while Heaven's joy
Shall pine in grief away.


The highest bliss
Alone in calm contentment can be found
And in agreement with God's will, in full 220
Compliance with His law.


The majesty
Of God and of the Godhead is debased,
If with the blood of man his nature ever
Unites, combines, or otherwise is bound.
We Spirits to God and His deep nature come
Far closer, as children from one father sprung;
And are like Him, if unto us it be
Allowed to bring in such similitude
This inequality of endless powers
With those determinate, of definite might 230
With might indefinite. Should once the sun
Err from his orbit's path, and veil himself
Behind a mist, to light the globe of Earth
Through clouds of smoke and darkling damps, how soon
The joys of Earth would die! How would the race
Below then want all light and life! How too
The sun would lack his dazzling majesty,
Circling his daily round! I see the skies
Piled up with gloom, the stars confused with fright.
Disorders fell and chaos, where now law 240
And order reign, should once the fount of light
Plunge with its splendors into some dark fen.
Think not too harshly then, I do beseech
Thee, Gabriel, if now thy trumpet's voice,
The new-made law given by the High Command,
I do resist, or seemingly oppose.
We strive for God's own honor, yea, to give
To God His Right, should I become thus daring
And wander far beyond the narrow path
Of my obedience.


Thou art, indeed, 250
Most zealous for the glory of God's name;
Though truly without weighing well that God,
The point wherein His majesty doth lie,
Far better knows than we. Cease therefore now
This inquisition. For when God as man
Shall have become, He shall this book of His
Own mysteries, now sealed with seven seals.
Himself unseal. To taste the kern within
Is not for thee; thou seest the shell alone.
Then of this long concealment we shall learn 260
The cause and hidden reason, all the while
Deep-gazing; in the unveiled Holy of Holies.
It now behooves us ever to obey
And to revere this rising dawn, to use
Our light with thankfulness until the time
When knowledge in her power shall drive all doubt
Away, even as the sun the night. Now learn
We gradually, with modest reverence,
God's Wisdom to approach. And this to us
Reveals, by slow degrees, the light of truth 270
And knowledge, and requires that, on his watch,
Each shall submit himself to reason's rule,
Lord Stadtholder, be calm. Be foremost, thou,
Now to maintain the law. God sends me hence.
I must away.


I shall observe it well!



The Stadtholder now hears the meaning of
This proclamation grave so proudly blown
By Gabriel's trumpet bold. How well he showed
Thee God's design! whose purpose thou may'st scent:
Thus shall he clip the wings of thy great power. 280

"But here hardby comes Heaven's interpreter." "But here hardby comes Heaven's interpreter."


But not so easily: Ah! nay, forsooth;
I shall have care this purpose to prevent.
Let not a power inferior thus dream
To rule the Powers above.


He maketh threat
Forthwith to crush Rebellion's head and crown.


Now swear I by my crown, upon this chance
To venture all, to raise my seat amid
The firmament, the spheres, the splendor of
The stars above. The Heaven of Heavens shall then
My palace be, the rainbow be my throne, 290
The starry vast, my court, while, down beneath,
The Earth shall be my footstool and support.
I shall, then swiftly drawn through air and light,
High-seated on a chariot of cloud,
With lightning stroke and thunder grind to dust
Whate'er above, around, below, doth us
Oppose, were it God's Marshal grand himself.
Yea, e'er we yield, these empyrean vaults.
Proud in their towering masonry, shall burst
With all their airy arches and dissolve 300
Before our eyes: this huge and joint-racked Earth,
Like a misshapen monster, lifeless lie;
This wondrous universe to chaos fall.
And to its primal desolation change.
Who dares, who dares defy great Lucifer?
We cite Apollion.


He is at hand.



O Stadtholder of God's unbounded Realm,
And Oracle within the Council of
The Gods subordinate, I offer thee
My service and await thy new commands. 310
What now the word—what of thy subject would
Thy Majesty?


It pleaseth us to hear
Thy sense and thy opinion of a grave
And weighty plan that cannot fail to win.
Tis our intent to pluck the proudest plume
From Michael's wings, that our attempt upon
His mightiness shall not rebound as vain.
With his own arm as many oracles
He founds, as ever God Himself hath hewn
From deathless diamond with His hand. Behold 320
Now man exalted to the Heaven of Heavens,
Through all the circles of the spheres, then see
The Spirit world, so deep, so far below,
Even 'neath his footcloth there, like feeble worms
Already crawling in the dust. I joy
To storm this throne with violence, and thus
To hazard by one strong, opposing stroke
The glory of my state and star and crown.


An undertaking truly to be praised!
May it augment your crown and increase gain, 330
Based on such resolution: so I deem
It honors me thus to advise, 'neath thee,
The prosecution of a cause so bold.
Let this result for better or for worse,
The will is noble, even though it fail.
But lest we strive in vain and recklessly,
How best shall we begin so bold a plan?
How safest meet the point of that resolve?


We subtly shall oppose our own resolve.


Sooth, there is pith in that. But what, pray, is 340
Our borrowed might, weighed in the scale against
The Power Omnipotent? Guard well thy crown;
For we fall far too light.


Yet not so light,
But that the matter first shall hang in doubt.


By whom or how or where this plot begun?
Even such intent is treason 'gainst God's Throne.


His Throne we'll not disturb; but cautiously
Mount up the steep incline, and those high peaks,
Ne'er blazed by path and ne'er ascended, climb.
Courage and prudence must, at length, o'ercome 350
And dare all dangers brave.


But not the Power
Omnipotent, nor yet His crown: approach
Thou not too near, or learn in sorrow that
Repentance comes too late. The lesser should
Submissively unto the greater yield.


The great Omnipotent is far beyond
Our aim. Set forces like with like together.
Then learn whose sword is weightiest. I see
Our enemies in flight, the Heavens all ours
By one courageous stroke; our legions, too, 360
O'erladen with the spoil and glorious plunder.
Then let us further now deliberate.


Thou know'st what Michael, God's Field-marshal may:
'Neath his command are all God's legions placed.
He bears the key of the armoury here on high.
To him the watch is trusted, and he keeps
A faithful, sleepless eye on all the camps;
So that of all the galaxies of Heaven
Not even one star, in its celestial march,
Dare move itself the least, nor stir without 370
Its ranks. 'Tis easy to commence; but in
Such warfare to engage exceeds our might,
And drags a train of hardships in its wake.
"What ordnance and what martial enginery
Could e'er avail his legions proud to quell?
Should Heaven's castle ope its diamond port,
Nor stratagem, nor ambush, nor assault
Could bring it fear.


But if our bold resolve
We strengthen with the sword, I see upon
Our standard, raised aloft, the morning-star 380
Defiance flashing till all Heaven's state
And rulership is changed.


The Fieldmarshal,
The valiant Michael, bears with no less fire
And pride God's wondrous name amid the field
Of his great banner, with the sun above.


Though writ in lines of light, what boots a name?
Heroic deeds, as this, are ne'er achieved
With titles, nor with pomp; not by valor, spirit.
And subtle strokes in skill and cunning bred.
Thou art a master-wit with craftiness 390
The Spirits to seduce, them to ensnare,
To lead and to incite howe'er thou wilt.
Thou canst attaint even those among the watch
Of most integrity, and teach even those
To waver who had thought to waver never.
Begin, we see God's legions in two camps
Divided, lords and vassals roused to strife
And mutiny. The greatest part even now
Are blind and deaf, save to their own demands;
And one and all cry loudly for a chief. 400
If thou for us a fourth part canst allure,
"We'll crown thy craft and dexterous management
With place and honor. Go, this plot consider
With Belial, for it must be dark indeed,
Where he shall lose his way. His countenance,
Smooth-varnished with dissimulation's hue,
No master in such deep concealment owns.
My car I now ascend: think ye this over.
The Council hath convened, and now awaits
Our own attendance. We shall call you both 410
Within, as soon as ye shall come. And thou,
Chief Lord, guard with thy trusty followers
This mighty gate that to the palace leads.



God's Stadtholder doth serve himself with us
On high.


We fly together from his bow
Like speeding arrows.


And both aimèd are
Even at one mark, though perilous to reach.


Ere long the Heavens shall crack 'neath our tempt.


Let crack what will, the matter must proceed.


How then this cause to best advantage grasp? 420


The weapons favor us: we first must gain
The guard.


The chieftains first, and with them we
The bravest troops must then succeed in winning.


Through something specious, 'neath some seeming 'guised.


Name thou this thing. Come, say what thou shalt call it.


Our Angel Realm must be maintained, its state,
Its honor, and its privilege, so choose
A chief, on whom each can reliance place.


Thou comprehendest well: no better cause
I wish as seed for mutiny, to set 430
The court against its subjects, throng 'gainst throng.
For each among us is inclined to guard
That honor, rank, and lawful privilege
Unto him given by the Omnipotent
Ere He created man, an after-thought.
The celestial palace is our heritage.
To the Spirits, who above float on their wings,
Who, incorporeal, therefore, ne'er can sink,
This place is more adapt than to the race
Of Earth, too sluggish far to choose against 440
Their nature these clear bows. Here shines the day
Too bright, too strong. Their eyes cannot endure
That splendid light, upon whose glow we gaze.
Then let man keep in his native element,
As other creatures do. Let him suffice
The bounds of his terrestrial Paradise,
Where the rising and the setting of the sun
And moon divide the months and form the year.
Let him observe, in their wide-circling round,
The crystal spheres. Let Eden's pleasant fruits 450
Content him, and its flowers that breathe perfume.
To range from East to West, from North to South:
Let this his pastime be. What needs he more?
We'll ne'er bring homage to an earthly lord.
Thus I resolve. Canst thou more briefly yet
This meaning state?


For all eternity,
Mankind to lock without the gate of Heaven.


That tinkles well in the Angelic ear.
That flashes like a flame from choir to choir
Through Orders nine and all the Hierarchies. 460


So shall we best a pining slowness feign;
Though all our bliss and our deliverance
On speed and expedition hang.


Not less
On dexterous management depends, nor less
On courage and on bravery.


That shall
Increase, as countless bannered bands accede.


They even now are murmuring: then we
Should act with secrecy, share in their hopes,
And nourish their complaints.


And then it were
Most opportune that Belzebub, a chief 470
Of power and eminence, should tender them
His seal, to force their vested Rights and gain
Redress of grievances.


Not all at once,
But gradually, as if by by-paths won.


Then let the Stadtholder himself approach,
And in support of such a proud resolve
Offer his mighty arm.


We soon shall hear,
When in the Council, his opinion
And his intent: then let him for a while
His thoughts dissemble and, at last, spur on 480
The maddened throng, embarrassed for a head.


Upon the head depends the whole affair.
Whatever thy promises, without a chief
They'll ne'er commence so hazardous a cause.


What hath been wonk no need to win again!
Who most hath lost in glory and in state,
Him doth it most concern. Let him precede,
And beat the measure for a myriad feet.


Both equity and reason would demand
He wear the crown; though, ere we deeper go, 490
Let us all dangers weigh and nothing do
Unless all Councillors affix their seals.

Chorus of Angels:


How glares the noble front of Heaven!
Why streams the holy light so red
Upon our face, overspread
With mournful mists from darkness driven?
What sad cloud hath profaned
That pure and never-stained
Clear sapphire, wondrous bright.
The fire, the flame, the light 500
Of the resplendent Power,
Omnipotence? Why doth that glow
Of God as black as blood thus grow
That in our aery bower
So pleased our eyes? O Angels, say
The cause of this deep gloom now dimming
Your radiance? O'er Adam's sway
On choral raptures ye were swimming,
On Spirit breath, amid a glow
That vault and choir and court below 510
And towers and battlements o'erflooded
With showers of gold, while joys unclouded
Smiled from the brows of all that live:
Who is it can the reason give?

Chorus of Angels.


When Gabriel's trumpet, richly sounding,
Inflamed our souls till a new song
Of praise burst forth among
Those dales, with roses fair abounding,
'Mid the celestial bowers
Of Paradise, whose flowers 520
Did ope, joyed by such dew
Of praise, then upwards through
The vast seemed Envy stealing.
A countless host of Spirits dumb.
And wan and pale and sad and grum,
In crowds, dire woe revealing,
Crept slowly past, with drooping eye,
And forehead smooth now frowning rimple.
The doves of Heaven here on high,
Once innocent and pure and simple, 530
Began to sigh, and seemed to grieve
As if e'en Heaven they did believe
Too small since Adam was created,
And man for such a crown was fated.
This stain offends the Eye of Light:
It flames the face of the Infinite.

In love we would yet mingle in their ranks:
Again to calm this restless discontent. 538




How oft belief proves but delusive hope!
Alas! how things have changed. We deemed no rank
Than ours more happy in this rising Realm,—
Yea, thought our state even like unto God's own,
More blessed than Earth and e'er unchangeable.—
Till Gabriel met us with his trumpet bold,
And from the golden port the hosts astounded
With this new-made decree, that shall deprive
The Angels of the good, the highest good,
First from the Godhead's breast to them outpoured. 10
How is our glory dimmed! We now behold
The beauty and the dazzling radiance
That streamed so proudly from our ancient splendor
In darkness quenched. We see the Hierarchies
Of Heaven thrown into confusion strange,
And man to such a rank, to such proud height
Exalted, that we tremble even as slaves
Beneath his sway. O unexpected blow
And change of lot! Ah! comrades in one grief.
Ah! come and gather round in groups and sigh 20
And weep with us together here. Tis time
To rend this shining raiment, meet for feasts,
To voice our plaints; for none can this forbid.
Our gladness fades and our first sorrow dawns.
Alas! alas! ye choristers of Heaven,
O brothers, tear those garlands from your brows
And change the blithesome livery of joy
For sorrow's gruesome garb. Oh! droop your eyes.
Seek shadows even as we; for sorrow shuns
The light. Let each one raise his voice to ours 30
And utter fearful plaints. Drown in your grief;
Sink down in mournful thought. To voice your woe,
The burdened heart relieves. Now joy to groan:
For groaning heals the smart. Now shout aloud,
As with one voice, and follow these our woes:
Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?

Chorus of Angels.

What plaint arises here, unpleasant sound?
The Heavens shrink back in fright. This air on high
Hath not been wont to hear the wail of woe
On sad notes sobbing through these joyful vaults. 40
Nay, wreaths and palms and loud triumphal song
And tuneful harps are far more meet for us.
What can this be? Who crouches here with head
Down-hanging, sad, forlorn, and needlessly
Oppressed? Who gave them food for grief? Who can
The reason guess? O fellow choristers,
Come then, 'tis needful that we ask the cause
Of their lament and this dark cloud of woe,
That robs our splendor of its radiance
And dims and dulls the bright translucent glow 50
Of the eternal feast. Heaven is a court
Where joy and peace and all delights abound.
Grief never nestled 'neath these lucid eaves,
Nor woeful pain. Ah! fellow choristers.
Oh! come, console them in their heaviness.


Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?


Companions dear in our high happiness.
Oh! brothers, why? Oh! sons of the glad Light,
Why thus depressed at heart? Who gave you cause
Thus to complain and thus to mourn? Ye had 60
Begun to lift your heads aloft to Heaven,
To bloom amid the day, whose lustre streams
From God's deep glow. The Heavens brought you forth
To mount in rapid flight from firmament
To firmament beyond, from court to court;
To flit amid the shadeless light content,
In one delightful life, an endless feast;
And e'er to taste the heavenly manna sweet
Of God's eternity, among your friends
In peaceful joys. Oh! why? This is not meet 70
For dwellers of the Spirit world. Oh! nay.
Nor meet for Dominations, Powers, and Thrones,
Nor for the ruling Heavens. Ye gorge your grief,
And sit perplexed and dumb. Give voice to your
Necessity: reveal it to your friends.
Reveal your heart-sore, that we may relieve.

"Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?" "Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?"


O brothers, can ye ask with earnestness
Why we thus grieve? Did ye also not hear
What Gabriel's trump revealed: how we through this
New-given command, down from our state are thrust 80
Into a slavery of Earth and of
As many souls as from a little blood
And seed may haply spring? What have we done
Amiss? how erred, that God a water-bubble,
Blown full of vapid air, exalts. His sons,
The Angels, to abase?—a bastardy
Exalts, formed out of clay and dust? But now
We stood as trusty pillars, consecrate
Unto His court, adorned our various place
As faithful members of His Realm; and now, 90
In one brief hour, we are expelled and shorn
Of all our dignity,—oppressed, alas!
Too sternly and with too much heaviness.
The charter and the primal privilege
Received from God are now by Him repealed.
And there where we had thought to rule with God
And under God, shall now this Adam reign,
Triumphant in his seed and blood forever.
The sun of Spirits hath set for them too soon.
Ah I comrades, hear our sorrow and our woes. 100
Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?


And doth the charge that Gabriel brought from God
You thus disturb? This but a frenzy seems.
Who dares to reprehend the high command?
Who so presumptuous himself against
The Godhead to oppose? To give to God
His honor and His Right, to rest upon
His law, this is our bounden charge. Who dares
To enter here with God's Omnipotence
In such dispute? His word and nod and will 110
Serve as our law and pace and precept firm.
Who contradiction breathes doth break the seal
Of the Most High. Obedience doth please
The Ruler of this Realm far more than smell
Of incense or divinest harmonies.
Ye are (oh! be ye not so vain, we pray,
Of boasted lineage) created more
For such subjection than for rulership.
O brothers, cease this wailing and lament.
And bow beneath the yoke of the Power Supreme. 120


Say rather 'neath the yoke of swarming ants.


Whene'er it pleases Him, ye should submit.


What have we done amiss? The reasons tell.


Amiss? Impatience doth God's crown offend.


Through sorrow we complain, through discontent.


Ye should instead your will resign to God.


We rest upon the Rights given us by law.


Subject to God your Rights and law remain.


How can the greater to the lesser yield?


Who is resigned—to serve God is to rule. 130


Most freely, let but man rule there below.


Though small his lot, man lives in sweet content.


But man is destined for a higher lot.


Ages shall come and go ere this shall be.


An age below is but an instant here.


Thus be it, if it be command supreme.


Far better were this mystery ne'er disclosed.


God in His kindness thus reveals His heart.


Yet kinder towards mankind, now placed above.


Allied with God's own nature, wonderful! 140


O Angels, would that God did pair with you!


What pleases God is ever rightly praised.


How could He thus exalt mankind so high?


Whatever God does, or yet may do, is well.


How man shall dim the crown the Angels wear!


All Angels shall the God incarnate praise.


And worship clay and dust down in the dust?


And praise God's name with odors and with song.


And praise mankind, constrained by higher Powers?



What murmur this? Dost hear a strife of tongues? 150


What throngs lament here, plunged in sable hue.
With veils girt round the breast and loins? None would
Believe that one among the Spirits, amid
The joys unending and the feast eterne,
Could mourn, did we not see this wretched throng
Cast down in woeful grief. What great misfortune,
What dire disaster them disturbs? Oh! how?
O brothers, what doth cause this sad lament?
Who hath offended you? Your Rights we'll guard.
O brothers, speak. Why miserable? the cause? 160


They make complaint of man's approaching state
And triumph, as proclaimed by Gabriel's trumpet;
That he outranks the Angels and that God
Shall join His Being to Adam's—all the Spirits
Thus made subordinate unto man's sway.
This briefly, clearly, states their sorrow's cause.


'Tis hard such inequality to bear.


It almost goes beyond our utmost strength.


We pray your aid this difference to compose.


What remedy? How can we them appease? 170
They rest secure upon their lawful Rights.


What Rights? The same power that ordaineth laws
Hath might to abrogate those laws as well.


How thus can Justice unjust verdicts speak?


Correct God's verdicts, thou! Write thou His laws!


The child doth follow in his father's steps.


To walk where He hath trod is Him to heed.


The change in God's own will doth cause this strife.


While one He setteth on a throne. He casts
Another down: the one least worthy must 180
Unto the son more favored then submit.


Equality of grace would best become
The Godhead. Now the darkness dares to dim
The light celestial, while the sons of night
Defy the day itself.


Whatever doth breathe
May rightly the Creator praises bring,
Who each his being gave and unto each
Gave his degree. Whene'er it pleaseth Him,
The element of earth shall change to air,
To water, or to fire; the Heaven itself, 190
To Earth; an Angel, to a beast; mankind,
To Angels or to something new and strange.
One Power rules over all, and thus can make
The proudest tower become the humblest base.
The least received is in pure money given.
Here is no choice. Here wit and knowledge fail.
In such unlikeness doth God's glory lie.
So see we with things lightest weighed those things
Of greatest weight, which thus e'en heavier grow:
Thus beauty fairer glows o'er beauty glossed, 200
Hue cast o'er hue, the diamond splendor over
The blue turquoise; so see 'gainst odors odors,
The light intense against the glimmer dim,
The galaxies unto the stars opposed.
Our place within the universal plan
Thus to disturb, into confusion all
Things throwing that once God did there dispose
And place; and all the creature may arrange:
This is mis-shapen to the inmost joint.
Cease, then, this murmuring. The Godhead can 210
The state of Angels miss; nor aided is
By others' service; for the glorious Realm
Eterne nor music needs, nor incense, nor
These odors swung, nor harmonies of praise.
Ungrateful Spirits, be still: your base tongues curb.
Ye know not God's design. Be ye content
With your established lot, and unto God
And Gabriel's decree yourselves submit.


Is then the high state of the ruling Spirits
So changeable? They stand on slippery ground, 220
How pitiable their lot! how miserable!


Because a lesser in this Realm shall reign?
We shall remain as now: how are we wronged?


They are the nighest God, their refuge sure
And Father: they upon His breast have lain:
Now lies a lesser one more close than they.


For one to grieve o'er others' bliss shows lack
Of love, and scents of envy and of pride.
Let not this stain upon the purity
And brightness of the Angels thus remain. 230
To strive in concord, love, and faithfulness.
The one against the other here, doth please
The Father, who all things in ranks ordained.


So they maintain the rank the Heavens them gave;
But hardly can endure man's slave to be.


That's disobedience, and from their rank
They thus shall fall away. Thou seest how, too,
The hosts of Heaven, in golden armor clad
And in appointed ranks arrayed, keep watch,
Each in his turn; how this star sets and that 240
Ascends; and how not one of all on high
The lustre dulls of others there more clear,
Nor yet of those more dim; how some stars, too,
A greater, others lesser orbits trace:
Those nearest to Heaven most swift and those beyond
More slowly turn: yet midst this all, among
These inequalities of light, degree,
And rank, of orbit, kind, and pace, thou seest
No discord, envy, strife. The Voice of Him
Who ruleth all this measured cadence leads, 250
That listens and Him faithfully obeys.


The firmament remains, as God decreed.
Had it not pleased Him thus to disarrange
The state of Angels, they would not, as now,
Awake the stars from their harmonious peace,
Nor thus disturb with plaints these quiet courts,


Beware lest thou this discontent shouldst flame.


We would this low'ring cloud might leave our sky
Before it bursts and sets the vast expanse
Of Heaven in flames. They grow in numbers.
Who 260
Shall them appease? Who cometh hitherward?



Alas! alas! where is our bliss departed?


All goeth well: we gain increase. In grief
The Angels now assemble, and in woe
Their heads they droop together. What doth move
You. Angel hosts, with sighs and groans to mourn?
Can, then, the bloom of happiness thus fade?
In peace all to possess that Spirit can wish
From God, the Giver—doth even this content
You not? Ye therefore stand in your own light. 270
And cherish mournfulness, whose cause I can
Nor fathom nor discern. Come, cease your groans,
Nor longer tear your standards and your robes
Without a cause; but clear your clouded face
And darkened forehead with new radiance,
O children of the Light! The voices shrill.
Whose deep-resounding songs the Godhead praise,
Grow faint, displeased that ye should mingle with
Their godlike melody such spurious sounds
And bastard tones. Your bitter moan doth mar 280
The rhythm of the celestial palace till
These vaults re-echo with your woe. The wail
Of sorrow through the highest arches rolls.
From sphere to sphere: nor without crime can ye
By such sad discord thus the growth disturb
Of God's great name and glorious majesty.


Chief Lord, whose potent word unnumbered bands
Would call to arms, thou comest most opportune
To soothe our misery and to prevent
By thy great power this threatened injury 290
And undeserved disgrace. Shall Gabriel
The sacred crown of the holy Angels place
On Adam's head: through Adam's son and heir
Crush God's first-born? 'Twere better far had we
Not been made ere the splendor-dazzling sun
His chariot mounted and in Heaven shone.
The Godhead chose in vain the Spirits as guards
Of these immobile courts, if thus He shall.
Against their vested Rights, Himself oppose;
Who guiltless to resistance are provoked 300
By dire impatience and necessity.
We were rejoicing here, enraptured with
The praise to God outpoured, were bowing low
In deep humility, and worshipping
'Mid burning censers with devotion flamed:—
All-quivering with the rippling notes, the Heavens,
From choir to choir, unto the sound gave ear—
Yea, melted slowly in delicious joy,
With song and harp enchanted—when the trump
Of Gabriel 'mid the rising harmony 310
Blew that decree, and midst the glory fell
This sudden thunderbolt of night. There lay
We all amazed, dispersed, with gloom depressed.
The gladness died away. Hushed were the throats
Pregnant with praise. The youngest son was given
The crown, the sceptre, and the blessing, while
The eldest-born, thus disinherited,
By Majesty Supreme, marked as a slave
Remains. That is the part obedience,
Devotion, love, and faithfulness receive 320
From God's rich treasury, that mourning brings;
That wrath enkindles, and thoughts of revenge,
Grown out of righteous hate, to smother in
His blood this upstart man, ere he shall crush
The Angels in their state; and they be forced,
As base and craven slaves, with fetters bound,
To run before his lash and at his will,
Even as he keeps the beasts beneath in awe.
Chief Lord, thou canst prevent our fall, and by
Our charter yet preserve our Rights: protect 330
Us by thy power. We are prepared even now
To follow 'neath thy standard and command,
To be thy troops. Lead on. 'Tis glorious
To battle for one's honor, crown, and Right.


Methinks that thou art wrong. O King of Lords,
'Twere better to avert this. Give no cause
For mutiny or discord: give no cause
Whereby Rebellion grows. What remedy?
How reconcile you with the Majesty


He doth transgress the holy Right 340
Once to the Angels given.


The lawful Rights
Of subjects to transgress can them inflame,
And fires enkindle that the very air
Would soon consume. How poor a recompense
For stainless faith! How shall we best conduct
Ourselves amid this mournful hopelessness?


'Twill comfort us one bold attempt to make.


What venture this? Adopt a softer pace.


This violence needs, compulsion, and revenge.


We might, mayhap, a safer method choose. 350


Delay would bring us here not gain, but loss.


One should his wrong with reason understand.


Reason doth publish here: we are oppressed.


With prayers ye first and best might gain your end.


This plot to bare would foil its execution.


Scarce can such plot be hidden from the light.


We're gaining fast, and stand in equipoise.


Their chance is best who with God's Marshal fight.


This can be righted ne'er by fright nor moan.


But what say Belial and Apollion? 360


Both are with us, and strengthen our array.


How gained ye them? 'Tis far, indeed, progressed.


The Heavens flow toward us now with teeming floods.


Trust not in armies formed of wavering throngs.


Even now advantage towers, and danger flees.


Who rashly dares should not advantage claim.


All on the issue hangs. Before the event
All judgment errs. The gathered hosts demand
Thee as their leader and their sovran chief
In this our expedition.


But who could 370
Be so bereft of wit as to defend
Your righteous cause, and by such course provoke
The battled hosts of Heaven? Aye, to yourselves
Be ye more merciful. Exempt me from
This charge. I choose to hold a neutral place.
Deliberation will yet make things right.


O! brothers, hear. Through mediators take
Unto God's Throne your supplications sad.
More ground is won by mediation than
Rebellion's steep ascent. With coolness act: 380
With reason and deliberation weigh.
We will on high your Rights defend. Be calm
Ye offend the crown of God, the Lord of Lords.


And ye, our vested Right: be ye less bold.
Lord Belzebub, advance our lawful claim.
Place all the legions now in battle line.
We'll follow thee together.


Stay, O think,
Ye flaming zealots, think, I pray you, farther.
I will precede you to the palace grand,
Unto the Throne, and there our Rights obtain 390
Through peaceful means and mutual covenants,
Made voluntarily and uncompelled.


Be still! be still! thou art by Michael spied.

"Be still! Be still! thou art by Michael spied!" "Be still! Be still! thou art by Michael spied!"



Where are we? What great noise arises here?
This seems a court of tumult and dispute,
Instead of peace, obedience, and faith.
Prince Belzebub, what reasons move thee thus,
Head of rebellious hordes, to aid a cause
So pregnant with such godless treachery,
Against that God the refuge of us all? 400


Mercy, O Michael! Deem us worthy words
Explanatory, ere in zealous wrath
Thou dost thy sentence for God's honor pass.
Impute to us no guilt.


Your innocence
Establish. I shall patiently attend.


The assemblage of so many thousand troops,
Disturbed by God's command, through Gabriel's trumpet
From out the Throne of Thrones proclaimed, demands
Some mediation that shall quench this flame;
Wherefore I came to gain a better sense 410
Of the ground of their complaints, to quell as best
I could this mutiny. But they began
With frantic haste and raving recklessness
To force their clamorous claims upon me. I
Then made attempt their forces to disperse
(Let to my faith these faithful choristers
Their witness bear), to counsel that they pour
Their grievances before God's Throne; but 'mid
This tumult and this clamor, vain my zeal,
As if to calm a sea swollen to the skies. 420
Let now the Field-marshal lead on; we are
Prepared to follow, if he see a way
To smooth this difference.


Who dares oppose
Himself to God and His most holy will?
And who so bold these warlike banners thus
To plant within the virgin Realm of peace?
If ye through envoys wish to treat on high,
For your defence, we will your cause assume
And mediate with God that He forgive:
Or else beware your heads! This ne'er succeeds. 430


And wouldst thou then oppress our holy Right
By force of arms? Unto the Field-marshal
They were not given for such purpose dire.
We rest alone upon our vested Rights.
Most bold and strong is conscious righteousness.


Least righteous he who would rebel 'gainst God.


We serve God. He has for His service found
Us ever worthy. Let the Heavens remain
In their first state. Nor let the honored sons
Of the Fatherland celestial thus be placed 440
Beneath mankind in rank and dignity.
For such disgrace the Thrones and Hierarchies,
The Powers and Dominations, high and low,
Of Spirits, of Angels, and of great Archangels,
Shall ne'er endure. Ah! nay, although, forsooth,
Thy lightning spear should pierce them, breast on breast,
Through their most faithful hearts. From Adam's race
We never shall such bold defiance brook.


I will that each depart, even as I wave
My hand. He God and Godhead doth oppose. 450
Who now, forsworn, 'gainst us shall take his stand.
Depart unto your posts. That is the duty
Of soldiers and of loyal sons of Heaven.
What violence? What impious threat is this?
Who wages war, save 'neath my banner bold,
Doth fight 'gainst God and doth oppose His Realm.


Who wards his Right need fear no violence.
Nature made each defender of his Right.


'Tis my command ye lay your weapons down.
Such gathering breaks your honor and your oath. 460


The hosts Angelic are by nature bound
In union strong. They stand or fall together.
Not one alone is touched in this dispute,
But one and all.


Would ye with weapons then
In such tumultuousness the Heavens embroil?
These were not given you to use 'gainst God.
Abuse your power, then fear the Power Supreme.


The Stadtholder we hourly here await.
In haste he hath been summoned to attend.
We'll venture all. 'gainst Gods arraying Gods, 470
Rather than thus our Rights resign through force.


So great an indiscretion I shall never
From Heaven's Stadtholder await.


It seems
More like an indiscretion thus to place
Those older and first born, like servile slaves,
Beneath the yoke of him, the youngest-born.
But that the Angels now defend their kind,
And here against their peers, in rank and state
And being, contend, is indiscretion called.


O stiff-necked kind, ye are no longer sons 480
Of Light; but rather are a bastard race,
Which yields not even to God. Ye but provoke
The lightning stroke and wrath implacable.
Harden your hearts, lo! what calamity
And what a fall for you reserved! Ye heed
Nor counsel nor advice. We'll see what us
Enjoined is on high by Voice Supreme.
Come, then; I wish now all the choristers
And hosts yet righteous and yet virtuous
To part, at once, from these rebellious throngs. 490


Let part who will; but we shall keep together.


Come follow, O ye faithful choristers,
God's Field-marshal behind.


Depart in peace.



The Field-marshal, in haste, to God hath gone,
Bearing complaint. Keep heart: Prince Lucifer
Speeds hitherward on winged chariot.
Ye should therefore at once deliberate.
Helpless the battled host without a chief:
As to myself, the post is far too grave.


Afar and wide, the Heavens vibrate and shake 500
With the sound of your disputes. The legions stand
Divided, split in twain. The tumult wins
Increase. Our great necessity enjoins
Much prudence here, disaster to prevent.


Lord Stadtholder, of all the Spirits brave.
Retreat and refuge sure, we hope that thou
Shalt ne'er, as Michael, doom the neck of the Angels
To be thrust 'neath the feet of Adam's brood,
And then, as he, go gild and bloom this shame
And insult with the show of equity; 510
And with thy might sustain the bold ascent
Of man, this gross and Earth-born race. To God,
By him so seldom seen, what incense brings he?
Why stand we charged to serve a worm so base,
To bear him on our hands, to heed his voice?
Made God the boundless Heavens and Angels then
For him alone? 'Twere better far had we
Never been made, sooth, had we never been.
Oh! pity, Lucifer, do not permit
Our Order now so low to be abased, 520
And, guiltless, to decline, while man, thus made
The Chief of Angels, e'er shall shine and glow
Amid the splendor inaccessible,
Before which Seraphim as shadows fade,
With dreadful trembling. If thou'lt condescend
So great injustice in this Realm to quell,
And shalt maintain our Rights, we swear together
E'er to support thy mighty arm. Then grasp
This battle-axe. Help us our Rights to ward.
We swear, by force, in majesty undimmed, 530
To set thee on the Throne for Adam made.
We swear with one accord support. Then grasp
This battle-axe. Help us our Rights to ward.


My sons, upon whose faith and loyalty
No stain of treason lies, all that God wills,
All He demands of us, is right: I know
No other law; and stay, as Stadtholder
Of God, His late decree and His resolve
With all my might. This sceptre which I bear,
To my right hand the great Omnipotent 540
Gave, as a mark of mercy and a sign
Of His love and affection for us all.
Doth now His mind and heart to Adam turn,
And doth it please Him now to set mankind
In full dominion us above—them over
Both you and me to crown, though in our charge
We ne'er grew weary, yet what remedy?
Who will oppose such resolution here?
Had He to Adam given an equal rank,
A nature like unto the Angel world, 550
It were supportable for all the sons
Of Heaven, sprung from God's lineage; now let
Them be displeased, if such displeasure be
On high not counted as a stain. However,
There is a danger on each side—to yield
Through fearfulness, or boldly to oppose.
I wish that your resentment He forgive.


Lord Stadtholder, aye, grasp this battle-axe.
Protect our holy Right. We'll follow thee.
We'll follow on. Lead thou with speedy wings: 560
We'll perish, or triumphant overcome.


That breaks our oath and Gabriel's command.


That violates God's self, sets man above.


Let God His honor, Throne, and majesty
Himself preserve.


Do thou preserve thy throne.
As pillars we will stay thee, and the state
Of the Angel world as well. Mankind shall never
Our crown, the crown of God, tread in the dust.


Soon shall the Field-marshal, great Michael, armed
With blessings from on high, 'gainst us appear, 570
With all his host. His army 'gainst your own—
How great the difference!


If not one half.
At least a third part of the Spirits, thou
Shalt sweep with thee, when thou shalt join our side.


Then shall we venture all, our favor lost
To the oppressors of your lawful Right.


Courage, hope, insult, sorrow, and despair,
Prudence and injury and vengeance for
Such inequality, not otherwise
Composed: all this, and what on this depends, 580
Shall nerve our arms to strike the blow.


Even now
The Holy Realm is in our power. Whatever
May be resolved, our weapons shall enforce,
Our arms shall soon compel. Once place us here
In battle rank, and they who waver yet,
Soon toward our side shall lean.


I trust me, then,
This violence with violence to oppose.


Mount, then, these steps. O bravest of the brave!
Lord Stadtholder, we pray, ascend this throne,
That thee we now allegiance may swear. 590


Prince Belzebub, bear witness; also ye,
O Lords illustrious; Apollion,
Bear witness thou, and thou, Prince Belial bold,
That I, constrainèd by necessity
And by compulsion, shall advance this cause.
Thus to defend God's Realm and to ward off
Our own impending ruin.


Then bring on
Our standard, that we may, beneath its folds.
Swear God allegiance and our Morning-star.


We swear alike by God and Lucifer. 600


Now bring the censers on, ye faithful hosts.
Faithful to God. Praise Lucifer with bowl.
Rich with perfume, and flaming candle-sticks:
Him glorify with light and glow and torch.
Extol him then with poem, music, song.
Trumpet and pipe. It doth behoove us now
Him with such pomp and splendor to attend:
Raise, then, sonorous lays to his great crown.

Chorus of Luciferians:

Forward, O ye hosts, Lucifer's minions;
Banners wave! 610
Marshal now your bands, spread your swift pinions—
On, ye brave!
Follow your God where his drumbeats command.
Guard well your Rights and Fatherland.
Help him Michael now hurl to confusion,
War, your mood!
Fighting 'gainst Heaven for Adam's exclusion.
And his brood!
Follow this hero to trumpet and drum.
Protect our crown, whate'er may come. 620
See, oh! see now the Morning-star shining!
In that light
Soon shall our foe's proud flag be declining
Into night!
Now in triumph we crown God Lucifer:
Come worship him; revere his star.

Chorus of Angels:


What sad surprises waken.
Since Heaven's civil war
Burst with divisive jar;
And blindly hath been taken 630
The sword for mad attempt!
Who 'mong celestial legions.
Or wins or falls, exempt
From grief, to view in the regions
Of joy such misery
'Mong their fellows and their brothers:
How some, overcome, would flee,
While in exile wander others?
O sons of God on high,
Where errs your destiny? 640


Alas! where now those erring
Spirits? What sorcery
From their dear certainty
Seduced them, vainly luring
Them from their rank and state?
Led them to wicked daring?
Our bliss became too great,
Too wanton for our bearing;
E'en Heaven's altitude
The Angels were outgrowing; 650
And then came Envy's brood.
Seeds of Rebellion sowing
In the peaceful Fatherland.
Who cools War's lurid brand?


Doth not soon some power transcending
War's fierce flames in bounds enchain,
What will unconsumed remain?
Treason's horrors are impending:
Fires of discord shall profane
Heaven and Earth and sea and plain. 660
Treason seeks her justifying
In her triumph; then she would
God's own mandates be defying:
Treason knows nor God nor blood. 664




The whole of Heaven glows with the fierce blaze
Of tumult and of treachery. I now
Command thee, as ambassador from God,
And His high Throne, to rise without delay
And burn out with a glow of fire and zeal
These dark, polluting stains in God's great name,
And in the name of the unstained Heavens.
Prince Lucifer defies with trump and drum.


Has Lucifer, alas! been faithless found?


The third part of the Heavens swore but now 10
The standard of that fickle Morning-star
Their firm allegiance, perfumed his throne
With incense, even as if he were a God;
And with the blasphemous sounds of godless music
Him praises sang. Now hitherward they come,
Thronging with mighty hordes that threaten all,
How terribly! to burst with violence
The gate that leads unto the armoury.
A crash of tempests fierce and wild doth roar
On every side. The lightnings rage and rave. 20
The thunders, in their travail laboring,
Shake even the ponderous pillars of these courts.
We hear no Seraphim, nor sounds of praise.
Each sits apart, enwrapped in voiceless gloom.
Now hushed at once are all the Angel choirs,
And then again they cry aloud in grief
And in their pity o'er this blind revolt
Of the blessed Angel world, and o'er the fall
Of the Angelic race. Aye, 'tis full time
That thou perform thy charge, that thou observe 30
The sacred oath that thou, as Field-marshal,
Didst swear upon the lightning's lurid edge,
By God's most holy name.

"Each sits apart, enwrapped in voiceless gloom." "Each sits apart, enwrapped in voiceless gloom."


What, then, doth move
God's Stadtholder thus to oppose himself
Against God, as the impious head and chief
Of mad conspirators?


The Heavens know
How loth I am to make in such a way
Defence of God's most righteous cause. But oh!
How terrible the wrath laid up for him!
For we can find no means by which to lead 40
This erring race of blind unfortunates
Along the road, the high-road of their faith.
Myself saw there the radiant joy of God
Itself o'ershadow with a gathering cloud
Of mournfulness, until, at last. His wrath
A flame enkindled in His eyes of light,
Ere He, to ward the threatened blow, gave charge
Unto this expedition. I then heard
Awhile the plea, how there in equipoise
God's Mercy stood against His Righteousness, 50
By weight of reason held. I saw, too, how
The Cherubim, upon their faces fallen.
Cried with one voice, "Oh! mercy, mercy. Lord;
Not justice give." This dire dispute had thus
Been expiated, yea, almost atoned.—
So much seemed God to mercy then inclined.
And reconciliation; but as up
The smell of incense rose, the smoke beneath
To Lucifer, from countless censers swung.
Amid the sounds of trump and choral praise, 60
The Heavens their eyes averted from such sight
And such idolatry, accursed of God
And Spirit and all the Hierarchies above:
Then Mercy took its flight. Awake to arms!
The Godhead summons thee, ere the tumult us
Surprise, to tame by thine own arm these fierce
Behemoths and Leviathans, who thus
Most wickedly conspire.


Come, Uriel, squire!
Haste speedily and bring the lightnings here;
Also my armor, helm, and shield. Then bring 70
God's banner on, and blow the trumpet bold.
To arms! at once, to arms! ye Thrones and Powers,
Who, true and faithful, are with us arrayed.
Ye legions, on! each in his place. The Heavens
Have given command. Now blow the trumpet bold
And beat the hollow drum, and summon here,
In haste, the countless cohorts of the armed,
Blow, then! My armor, I put on; for here
God's honor is concerned. There's no retreat.


This armor fits thy form as if 'twere made 80
With thee. Behold! our glorious banner comes,
From which God's name and ensign grandly beam,
While yon high sun doth promise thee success.
Here come the chiefs, to greet thee as the head
Of the celestial legions that have sworn
God's standard to uphold. Take courage, then,
Prince Michael, thou shalt battle for thy God.


Aye! aye! Keep thou my place on high. We go.


Thy march we'll follow with our thoughts and prayers.



How holds our army? How is it inclined? 90


The army longs, prepared, 'neath thy command,
To plunge at once against Michael's armament.


'Tis true; each waits for Lucifer's command
To haste at once, with speedy wings and arms,
To steal away from our great enemy
His air and wind, and, as he lies confused
In helpless swoon, to chain him forcibly.


How many strong our host? Wherein our strength?


That grows apace and sweeps on toward us with
A rush and roar from every firmament, 100
Like a vast sea aglow with radiant lights.
Indeed, a third part of the Heavens embrace
Our side, if not the half; for Michael's tide.
On every hand, each moment swiftly ebbs.
The half, even of the watch and of the chiefs
That round the palace guard—of every rank.
Of every Hierarchy some—have forsworn
Their lord. Prince Michael, even as we. Behold
Archangels, Cherubim, and Seraphim
Our standards bearing. Even Paradise, 110
Made mournful by the sounds of woe, grows dim
In hue, and its bright verdure fades. Wherever
The eye doth look, there seem signs of decay;
And up above a threatening thunder-cloud
Doth seem to hang. This portent bodes our bliss.
We need but to begin. Already doth
The crown of Heaven rest upon thy brow.


That sound doth please me more than Gabriel's trump.
Attend and listen, ye, beneath this throne;
Attend, ye chiefs; attend, ye valiant knights, 120
And hear our charge, in words both clear and brief.
Ye know how far in our revengeful course,
Against the Ruler of the palaces
Supreme, we have advanced: so that it were
For us but folly to retreat with hope
Of reconciliation; how none dares
To think to purify, through mercy, this
Our stain indelible: necessity
Must therefore be our law, a stronghold sure.
From which there is no wavering nor retreat. 130
Defend ye then, ne'er looking back, with all
Your might, this standard and my star: in brief
The free-created state all Angels own.
Let things proceed howe'er they will, press on
With heart undaunted and with cheerfulness.
Not even the Omnipotence on high hath power
Completely to annihilate the being
That ye have once, for all eternity.
Received. In case ye fiercely shall attack
With your whole force, and pierce with violence 140
The heart of your great foe, and chance to win:
So shall the hated tyranny of Heaven
Into a state of freedom then be changed,
And Adam's son and seed, crowned us above
In honor, with a retinue of Earth
Around, shall not then chain your necks unto
The fetters of a slavish bondage that
Would make you sweat for him and pant beneath
The brazen yoke of servitude forever.
If now ye own me as the head and chief 150
Of your free state, even as just now ye swore
With one full voice beneath this standard bright,
So raise that binding oath again together,
That we may hear; and swear allegiance
And loyalty unto our morning-star,


We swear alike by God and Lucifer.


But see how Rafael with the branch of peace,
Astounded and compassionate, flies down
To clasp thy neck, with hope of peace and truce.



Oh! Stadtholder. Voice of the Power Divine, 160
What thus hath driven thee beyond the path
Of duty? Wouldst thou now thyself oppose
To Him, the source of all thy pomp? Wouldst thou
Now rashly waver, and thus change thy faith?
I hope this ne'er shall be. Alas! I faint
With grief, and hang upon thy neck oppressed
And wan.


Most righteous Rafael!


O my joy.
My longing, hear me now, I pray.


Speak on.
So long it pleaseth thee.


O Lucifer,
Be merciful! Oh I save thyself; nor bear 170
Thy weapons thus 'gainst me, who sadly melt
In tears, and pine in sorrow for thy sake.
I come with medicine and mercy's balm,
Sprung from the bosom of the Deity,
"Who, as within His Council He decreed,
Hath made thee chief of myriad crowned Powers,
And thee, anointed, placed upon thy throne
As Stadtholder. What folly this, that thus
Deprives thee of thy wit? God hath His seal
And image stamped upon thy hallowed head 180
And forehead, where all beauty seemed outpoured,
With wisdom and benevolence and all
That flows in streams unbounded from the fount
Of every precious thing. In Paradise,
Before the countenance of God's own sun,
Thou shon'st from clouds of dew and roses fresh;
Thy festal robes stood stiff with pearl, turquoise.
And diamond, ruby, emerald, and fine gold;
'Twas thy right hand the weightiest sceptre held;
And as soon as thou didst mount into the light, 190
Throughout the blazing firmament and through
These shining vaults the sounds began to roll
Of trumpet and of drum. And wouldst thou now
So rashly hurl thyself from thy great throne?
—Thus jeopardize thy glory, all this pomp?
Wouldst thou thy splendors that the Heavens adorn
And that obscure our glow so heedlessly
Now cause to change into a shapeless lump
And complication of all beasts and monsters
In one, with claw of griffin, dragon's head, 200
And other horrors terrible? And shall
The eyes of Heaven, the stars, see thee so low,
Deprived of all thy power, thy honor, worth,
And majesty, through perjuring thine oath?
Prevent it, O good God, whose countenance,
Amid the Blessed Light, I gaze upon,
Where we, the hallowed Seven, do Him serve,
Before His Throne, and shake and tremble 'neath
That Majesty that on our forehead beams,
That quickens, and that life doth give to all 210
That live and breathe. Lord Stadtholder, let now
My prayers affect thy heart. Thou know'st my pure
Intent, and heart distressed for thee. Tear off
That shining crest so proud, that armor toss
Aside. The battle-axe cast from this hand,
Thy shield then from the other: nay, not thus,
Not higher. Oh! throw it now aside. I pray.
Oh! cast it down. Let fall thy streaming standard
Of thine own free will, also thine outstretched wings,
Before God and His splendor, ere He shall 220
From cut His Throne, the highest firmament
O honor, swoop to grind thee into dust:
Yea, so that of the race of Spirits, nor branch
Nor root, nor life nor even memory,
Remain; unless it be a state of woe,
Of pain, of death and of despair, the worm
Endless remorse, and a gnashing dire of teeth
Should bear the name of life. Submit thou, then.
Cease this attempt. I offer thee God's grace,
Even with this olive-branch. Accept, or else 230
'Twill be too late.


Lord Rafael, I nor threat
Nor wrath deserve. My heroes both by God
And Lucifer have sworn, and under oaths
To Heaven have raised this standard thus aloft.
Let rumors, therefore, far and wide be spread
Throughout the Heavens: I battle under God
For the defence of these His choristers,
And for the Charter and the Rights which were
Their lawful heritage ere Adam saw
The rising sun: yea, ere o'er Paradise 240
The daylight shone. No human power, no yoke
Of man, shall plague the necks of Spirits, nor shall
The Angel world, like any servile slave,
Support the throne of Adam with its neck,
Unfettered now, unless in some abyss
The Heavens shall bury us, together with
The sceptres, crowns, and splendors that to us
The Godhead from His bosom gave, for time
And for eternity! Let burst what will,
I shall maintain the holy Right, compelled 250
By high necessity, thus urged at length,
Though much against my will, by the complaints
And mournful groans of myriad tongues. Go hence,
This message bear unto the Father, whom
I serve, and under whom I thus unfurl
This warlike standard for our Fatherland.


O Stadtholder, why thus disguise thy thoughts
Before the all-seeing Eye? Thy purpose thou
Canst not conceal. The rays flashed from His face
Lay bare the darkness, the ambition that 260
Thy pregnant spirit reveals in all its shape.
And lo! even now its travail hath begun
This monster to bring forth. Where shall I hide
Me in my fright? How rise my hairs with fear!
Thou erring Morning-star, oh! spare thyself!
Thou canst not satisfy Omniscience
With such deceit.


Ambition? Say me, then,
Where hath my duty suffered through neglect?


What hast thou in thy heart of hearts resolved!—
shall mount up from here beneath, through all 270
The clouds, aye, even above God's galaxies,
Into the top of Heaven, like unto God
Himself; nor shall the beams of mercy fall
On any Power, unless before my seat
It kneel in homage down! No majesty
Shall sceptre dare, nor crown, unless I shall
First grant it leave out of my towering throne!"
Oh! hide thy face. Fall down and fold thy wings.
Have care to know a higher Power above.

"Thou erring Morning-star, oh! spare thyself." "Thou erring Morning-star, oh! spare thyself."


How now? Am I not then God's Stadtholder? 280


That art thou, and from the unbounded Realm
Thou didst receive a power determinate.
Thou rulest in His name.


Alas! how long?
Until Prince Adam shall make us ashamed:
When he, placed o'er the Angel world, shall from
The bounteous bosom of the Deity
His crown receive, and take his seat by God.


Even though the sovran Lord should thus divide
His power with His inferiors; though He should
Command that man upon his head shall place 290
The brightest crown; him consecrate the Chief
Of Spirits, o'er all that crown or sceptre bear.
Or e'er shall bear: learn thou submissively
To bow 'neath God's decree.


That is the stone
Whereon this battle-axe shall whet its edge.


Thou'lt whet it rashly for thine own proud neck.
Think where we are. The Heavens can bear no stain
Of pride, hate, envy, or malevolence.
The wrath of Deity doth threaten soon
To wipe this blot away. Here not avails 300
Dissembling. Oh! that I this blasphemy
Could hide from the all-seeing Sun and from
The all-penetrating Eye. O Lucifer,
Where is thy glory now?


My glory was
Long since to Adam given, and to his seed.
I am no longer called the eldest heir,
The son first consecrate.


Prince Lucifer,
Oh! spare thyself: submit unto the wish
Of the Most High. Oh! deem us worthy now
To bear such joyful tidings up above. 310
Each waits with longing eyes for my return.
Before thy splendor I most humbly kneel.
Oh! for the sake of God, beware lest thou
Encouragement shalt give to mutiny,
That on thy will and word doth henceforth turn,
As on its axis. Wouldst thou thus, against
The courts of Heaven, this air so full of peace
And holiness, for the first time disturb
By the clash of countless warring myriads?—
Thus to the sound of trump and drum unfurl 320
These battle-banners bold?—Thyself to God
The matchless wrestler thus oppose?


'Tis we
That are opposed. Were unto Adam's race
But given a rank and throne, even similar
To that the Angels own, 'twere to be borne.
Now fly, instead, o'er all the roofs of Heaven
The sparks blown from this burning in the skies.
Peace! Angels all, and reverentially
Your homage bring, for all that you possess,
To Adam and his seed. To strive 'gainst man 330
Is the Godhead to oppose! Oh! how could God,
Within His heart, so low, so deep degrade
Him whom He for the mightiest sceptre formed:
A worthiness once sanctified to rule,
So sadly thus abase for one so low,
And thus disrobe of all its splendid pomp,
And cause it thus to curse the glorious dawn
Of its ascent—to wish far rather that
It had remained a shadow without hue,
A nothing without life? For not to be 340
Is better thousand times than such a fall.


A vassal's power is no inheritance:
It stands free and apart.


This power is then
No boon, if power it may be called.


Thy place
Maintain: or hast thou then forgot thy charge?
Thy place, as Stadtholder, to thee was given
That in thy wisdom thou mightst keep all things
In peace and order here. And dost thou now.
The perjured chief of blind conspirators.
Put on this coat of mail to fight thy God? 350


Necessity and self-defence compelled
These arms; nor wished we to engage with God.
Reason would speak, even though our arms were dumb.
We fight in Freedom's cause, denied this bliss?


No bliss is glorious, where in one realm
The embattled squadrons of the state must fight
Against their peers. Most pitiful it is,
When brothers of the selfsame order must,
At last, even by their brothers be o'ercome.
Oh! Stadtholder, for our sake, and for fear 360
Of God and of His threatened punishment,
Send hence thy gathered legions, send them hence.
Oh! melt, I pray, beneath my prayers. I hear,
'Tis terrible! the chains a-forging now,
That thee shall drag, when vanquished and bound,
In triumph through the skies. And hark! I hear
A din, and see the hosts of Michael draw
With nearing tread. 'Tis time, yea, 'tis high time,
Thou cease this mad attempt.

What profits it
Even though unto the utmost I repent? 370
Here is no hope of grace.


But I assure
Thee mercy; for I now appoint myself
Thy mediator up above and as
Thy hostage there.


My star to plunge in shame
And darkness: yea, to see my enemies
Defiant on my throne?


O Lucifer,
Beware! I see the lake of brimstone down
Below, with opened mouth, gape horribly.
Shalt thou, the fairest far of all things ever
By God created, henceforth serve as food 380
For the devouring bowels of Hell's abyss—
Flames never satisfied nor quenched? May God
Forbid! Oh! oh! yield to our prayers. Receive
This branch of peace: we offer thee God's grace.


What creature else so wretched is as I?
On the one side flicker feeble rays of hope,
While on the other yawns a flaming horror.
A triumph is most dubious; defeat
Most hard to shun. In such uncertainty,
God and His banner to oppose?—the first 390
To be a standard to unfurl 'gainst God,
His trump celestial and revealed command?
—Of rebels thus to make myself the chief,
And 'gainst the law of Heaven another law
To oppose?—to fall into the dreadful curse
Of a most base ingratitude?—to wound
The mercy, love, and majesty of Him,
The Father bountiful, source of all good
That e'er was given or may yet be received?
How have I erred so far from duty's path? 400
I have abjured my Maker: how can I
Before that Light disguise my blasphemy
And wickedness? Retreat availeth not.
Nay, I have gone too far. What remedy?
What best to do amid this hopelessness?
The time brooks no delay. One moment's time
Is not enough, if time it may be called,
This brevity 'twixt bliss and endless doom.
But 'tis too late. No cleansing for my stain
Is here. All hope is past. What remedy? 410
Hark I there I hear God's trumpet blow without,



Lord Stadtholder, awake! not now the time
For loitering. God's Marshal Michael nears,
With all his stars and legions, and defies
Thee in the open field. The time demands
That thou array for battle. Come, advance!
Advance with us: we see the battle won.


Won? Ah! that is too soon: 'tis not commenced.
The heavy bolt of war should not be weighed
Too lightly.


I saw even in Michael's face 420
The hue of fright, while all his legions pale
Looked backwards. Ah! we long. O doubt it not,
To humble and destroy them. Lo! here come
The various chieftains with our streaming standard.


Each in his rank! Let each his banner ward.
Now let the trump and bugle boldly blow.


We wait upon thy word.


Then follow on,
As I this signal give.


Alas! but now
He stood in doubt suspended: now, despair
Incites him on. In what calamities, 430
Alas! shall soon the proud Archangel plunge
His followers? Now may he nevermore
In joy appear on high unless God shall
In His compassion this prevent. Oh! come,
Ye Heavenly choristers, and breathe your prayers.
It may be that your supplications, rising,
May yet avert this dire, impending blow:
Oft prayer can break a heart of adamant.



O Father, who no incense, gold,
Or hymnal praise dost dearer hold 440
Than the tranquil trust and soul-reposing
Calmness of him who humbly heeds
Thy word, and where Thy spirit leads
Doth leave himself in Thy disposing:
Thou seest. O Author of us all,
Our Spirit-Chief his banners tall
'Gainst Thee so wickedly unfurling;
And how, 'mid roar of trump and drum,
On battle-chariot he doth come,
So blind, and fierce defiance hurling! 450
Ah! heed not their wild blasphemy,
And save from endless misery
The thousand thousand ones deluded,
Who, weak, and woefully misled
By their proud and rebellious head,
Are 'mong his legions now included.


Spare in Thy mercy, spare, ah! spare
The Stadtholder, who now would wear
Thy crown of crowns, who, deifying
Himself, would triumph over all: 460
From such foul stain, oh! where else shall
The cleansing come, him purifying?


Oh! suffer not that soul to die.
The fairest e'er seen by Thine eye
Oh I keep the Archangel e'er in Heaven;
Let him atone this impious deed.
And still retain his rank, we plead
Let not his guilt be unforgiven. 468

Act V.



The whole of Heaven, from base to topmost crown
Of her chief palaces, resounds with joy,
As Michael's trumpets blow and banners wave.
The field is won. Our shields shine splendidly,
Shaping new suns. From every shield-sun streams
A day triumphant forth. Lo! from the fight,
See, Uriel proud, the armor-bearer, comes;
And waves the flaming, keen, two-edged sword,
That, whet with Heaven's wrath and vengeance, flashed,
Amid the fray, through shield and mail and helm 10
Of diamond, left and right, through all that dared
Oppose the all-piercing Power, Omnipotence.
O armor-bearer, most austere, who art
The executioner on high, and dost
With one strong, righteous stroke compose the Wrong
That would rebel against eternal Right,
Blest be thy sword and arm, that thus maintain
And guard the honor of our Angel Realm.
What praise reserved for thee by Majesty
Supreme! Oh! pray relate to us the strife: 20
Unfold to us the management of this,
The first campaign in Heaven. We listen, then,
In expectation rapt.


Your wish inflames
My spirit to begin, this fearful fray
In calmness to describe, with sequence just,
Success the army crowns that fights with God.
The Field-marshal, great Michael (being warned
By the envoy of Heaven, who from above
Flew downward, downward swifter than a star
That shoots athwart the sky, with the tidings how, 30
Against the high decree proud Lucifer
Himself so openly opposed, prepared
To lead his incense-swinging worshippers—
All who his standard and his morning-star
Had sworn their bold allegiance), quickly donned,
At Gabriel's report—that Herald true—
His scaly coat of mail, and with firm voice
He forthwith then gave charge to all his chiefs,
His captains, lords, and officers to place,
In the name of God, the troops in battle rank, 40
That, with united forces and with all
Their strength, they might sweep from the airy vast
Of purest crystalline this perjured scum:
To cast in darkness all those Spirits vile,
Ere unawares they us surprise. Upon
This charge the legions rapidly deployed
Themselves in battle-line, as speedily
As flies the nimble arrow from the bow.
We saw there countless throngs together swarm
In bright array and glowing martial pomp, 50
Until they formed, in serried rank, one firm
Trilateral host that, like a triangle,
Thrust out its edges sharp upon the eye.
We saw a solid mass, like one dense light,
Three-pointed, polished mirror-smooth, even like
To diamond, and a battle-front advance
By God more than by Spirit understood.
The Field-marshal towered in the army's heart,
Full-faced before God's banner, with the glow
Of lurid lightnings in his lifted hand. 60
Who courage would preserve.—would victory
And triumph e'er attain.—should first have care
To make sure of and then to gain the heart.


But where the host accursed that us would storm?


It came into the field of daring full
With all its primal faith, obedience,
Honor, and oath, and what besides, forgot
In this base and presumptuous attempt
'Gainst God, despite our prayers. It swiftly waxed.
And pointed like a crescent moon its ends. 70
It sharpened both its points, and these, even like
Two horns, closed in upon us, as amid
The Zodiac the Bull doth threaten with
His golden horns the other animals
Celestial and the monsters that revolve
Around. Upon the right horn there advanced
Prince Belzebub, whose purpose was to clip
Our spreading wings, and also to keep guard.
The left horn to Prince Belial was assigned.
Thus both stood there in shining panoply, 80
Vying in splendors grand. The Stadtholder,
Now Field-marshal 'gainst God, the centre held
Of this array, that he might guard the key,—
The point strategic of the legions there.
The lofty standard, from whose morning-star
The day did seem to stream, Apollion
Behind him bore, as bravely as he could,
In his full glory seated high to view.


Alas! what dares—what dares the great Archangel
Attempt? Oh! if I only could in time 90
Have brought him to desist. However, now
Describe to me the aspect of their march,
And with what show the Prince his legions led.


Surrounded by his staff and retinue
In green, he, wickedly impelled by hate
Irreconcilable, in golden mail,
That brightly shone upon his martial vest
Of glowing purple, mounted then his car,
Whose golden wheels with rubies were emblazed.
The lion and the dragon fell, prepared 100
For speedy flight, with backs sown full of stars
And to the chariot joined by pearly traces,
Panted for strife, and for destruction flamed.
Within his hand a battle-axe he bore,
And from his left arm hung a glimmering shield,
Wherein his morning-star was artfully
Embossed: thus stood he poised to venture all.


O Lucifer, thou shalt this pride repent.
Thou phoenix 'mongst God's worshippers on high.
How grand thou dost appear amid thy legions, 110
With helm, head, neck, and shoulders eminent!
How gloriously thine armor thee becomes,
As if by nature fitted to thy form!
Oh! Chief of Spirits, no farther go; turn back.


Confronted thus they stood embattled, troop
By troop, each in his air and station placed,
All ranked by files 'neath their respective chiefs,
Both sides arrayed with fairest pomp to view.
When furious drum and clarion trumpet sound,
Their medley resonance nerves every arm 120
And sharpens every sword; and mounts on high
Into the firmament of the holy Light
Supreme, a din whereat a pregnant cloud
Of darts doth burst with pealing thunder-showers
Of fiery hail, a storm and tempest fierce,
That makes afraid the very Heaven and shakes
The pillars of its palaces. The stars
And spheres, perplexed, from their appointed paths
And orbits err, or on their circled watch
Bewildered stand, not knowing where to turn: 130
Or East or West, or upwards or below.
All that is seen is lightning flash and flame;
All that is heard is thunder. What remains
In its primeval place? That which was once
The highest now becomes the thing most low.
The squadrons, when the deep-vibrating shock
Of their artillery's first volleyed roar
Has died away, now struggle hand to hand
With halberd, sabre, dagger, club, and spear.
All stab and slash, that can. All formed by nature 140
For fell destruction and for greedy spoil
Now haste to strike the violating blow.
All thoughts of kin and brotherhood have ceased;
Nor knoweth any one his fellow more.
Above are whirling, like a cloud of dust,
Proud crests of pearl with curlèd locks of hair,
And plumes and wings refulgent with a gleam
Drawn from the singeing lightning's glow. Behold!
In rich confusion mingled, blue turquoise,
With gold and diamond, necklaces of pearl, 150
And all that can adorn the hair or head.
Wings lopped in twain, and broken arrows, whirl
Athwart the sky. A horrid battle-cry
Rises from out the cohorts clad in green:
Their regiments, in danger, are compelled
By our hot onset to retreat. Three times
The maddened Lucifer the fight renews,
And proudly stays his faltering followers,
Even as a rock beats back the ocean surge
That, wave on wave, with foaming rage assails 160
In vain attempt.


Indeed, 'tis something this:
To fight, armed by despair.


Then straightway caused
The valiant Michael all the trumps to sound:
"Glory to God!" His legions, thus made bold
By this their watchword, and by his command,
Begin by circling wheels to soar aloft,
To gain the wind-side of their battling foe,
Who also rises, but with heavier sail,
And finally to leeward slowly drifts:
As if one heavenward a falcon saw, 170
Mounting with pinions bold into the sky.
Ere that the drowsing herons are aware.
Who in a wood, hard by a pleasant mead,
Tremble with fright, when from their lofty nest
They see their dreaded foe. The heron cries,
And, fearful of the falcon's direful claw,
Awaits him on his beak, thus to impale
His enemy's soft breast from there beneath,
When swoops the falcon with unerring wings
Upon his prey.


O Lucifer, for thee 180
What remedy? It seems most terrible!
Now art thou in the open field, where port
Nor wall defend. A horrid whirlwind soon
Shall suddenly swoop down and bury thee
Deep in some gulf and bottomless abyss.


What fair perspective it was, thus to view
A hemisphere or crescent moon beneath,
And up above a point trilateral:
To see the legions, that upon the word
Of their commanding chiefs close in their ranks, 190
Or them deploy, in their battalions stand
As firm as walls of iron, as if they,
With all their ordnance, dumb artillery,
And martial engines, there in equipoise
Were placed, full-weighted 'gainst the balanced air!
They hang suspended like a silent cloud,
A cloud whereon the sun doth pour his beams,
And which he paints with shade and varied hue
And airy rainbows. So then, steeply flown
Aloft, the bold celestial eagle sees 200
God's foe, the hawk, circling his flight beneath.
He strikes his wings together valiantly;
But brooks awhile the hawk's wild wheeling there,
And vain defiance, while he flames ere long
To swoop upon his feathered back and pluck
His glossy plumes: when, in the aery vast,
"With curvèd beak and talons he shall seize
His prey, or drive it, with the wind behind,
Far from his eyes. Thus they precipitate
Themselves, and stream down from their place on high. 210
Even like some inland lake, or waterfall.
In some far, Northern wild, that from the cliffs
Dashes with thundering resonance that frights
The beasts and monsters in deep-hidden dells;
Where from the precipice, rocks, loosened, fall,
With massive torrents and uprooted trees
In countless numbers, that in their fierce plunge
Crush and destroy all that the violence
Of stream and stone and wood cannot withstand.
The point of the advancing column strikes 220
The crescent's centre with assault most fell
Of brimstone, red and blue, and flames, with stroke
On stroke and quick-succeeding thunderbolts
A piercing cry ascends. Their army's heart,
Endangered, now begins, by slow degrees,
To fail support of the accursèd one.
The half-moon's bow, beneath the strain, begins
To crack and break (for the ends together curve);
So that they who the centre hold, must yield
Before that onset fierce, and flee, if soon 230
Deliverance be not brought from their distress.
Prince Lucifer, swift-driven here and there,
Approaches at this cry, and fearlessly
Himself exposes on his car, to show
His valor in this crisis dire. This gives
New heart unto the faltering ones. Then, from
The foaming bit of his now furious team.
He wards the feilest blows and fiercest strokes.
The lion and the dragon blue, enraged,
Leap forward at his word with fearful strides: 240
One bellows, bites, and rends, while poison shoots
Out from the other's forkèd tongue, who thus
A pest provokes, and, raving, fills the air
With smoke blown from his nostrils far and wide.


Now will the burning strike him from on high?


He waves his battle-axe aloft to fell
God's banner, that, descending, darts the beams
And fairer radiance of God's name into
His glowing face. Oh! think what envy then
Him filled, to see this portent on our side. 250
With battle-axe in hand, now here, now there,
He parries every stroke, or breaks their force
Upon his shield, till Michael comes before
Him, clad in glittering armor, like a God
Amid a ring of suns: "Cease, Lucifer;
Give God the victory. Lay down your arms
And standard; yield to God. Come, lead away
This wicked crew, this impious horde. Or else,
Beware thy head!" Thus shouts he from on high.
The Grand Foe of God's name, stiff-necked, unmoved, 260
And more defiant at these words, renews
The fight with haste precipitate, and thrice
With war-axe strives to cleave the diamond shield
Where glowed God's holy name. But who provokes
The Deity shall feel His wrath. The axe
The holy diamond strikes, but lo! rebounds,
And shivers into fragments. Then aloft
His right hand Michael lifts, and through the helm
And head of that rebellious one he smites,
Helped by the great Omnipotent, his lightnings, 270
Cleaving unto his eyes with violence
So great that he falls backward, and is hurled
Down from his chariot, that forthwith follows
Him, whirling round and round in its descent;
Thus lion, dragon, driver, all plunge down.
The standard of the Star doth cease to shine,
When feels Apollion my flaming sword.
Whereon his banner, straightway, he doth leave
As plunder in my hands; while in fierce swarms
Tumultuous their warring myriads 280
Attempt, in vain, to stay the falling Chief
Of all the hosts infernal, and to save
Him from this fate and great calamity.
Here fights Prince Belzebub, and there opposed
Stands Belial. Thus their squadrons are confused:
And with the Stadtholder's important fall
The crescent's bow soon into shivers breaks.
Then comes Apollion into the field,
With all the monsters from the firmament.
The giant Orion shrieks, until the sound 290
The very air makes faint; then with his club
He strives to crush the head of our assault,
That, heedless of Orion or his club,
Moves grandly on. The Northern Bears rear back
Upon their haunches, that their brutish strength
May blindly us oppose. The Hydra gapes
With fifty throats, that vomit poison forth.
I view a gallery of battle-scenes,
All happening in the fray, as far as eye
Can see.

"Thus lion, dragon, driver, all plunge down." "Thus lion, dragon, driver, all plunge down."


Praise be to God! Upon your knees 300
Fall down and worship Him! O Lucifer,
Ah! where now is that fickle confidence?
In what strange shape shall I, alas! behold
Thee soon? Where now are thy proud splendors, that
All other pomp so easily outshone?


Even as bright day to gloomy night is changed,
Whene'er the sun forgets his golden glow,
So in his downward fall his beauty turned
To something monstrous and most horrible:
Into a brutish snout his face, that shone 310
So glorious; his teeth into large fangs,
Sharpened for gnawing steel; his hands and feet
Into four various claws; into a hide
Of black that shining skin of pearl; while from
His bristled back two dragon wings did sprout.
Alas! the proud Archangel, whom but now
All Angels honored here, hath changed his shape
into a hideous medley of seven beasts,
As outwardly appears: A lion proud;
A greedy, gluttonous swine; a slothful ass; 320
A fierce rhinoceros, with rage inflamed;
An ape, in every part obscene and vile,
By nature lewd and most lascivious;
A dragon, full of envy; and a wolf
Of sordid avarice. His beauteous form
Is now a monster execrable, by God
And Spirit and man e'er to be cursed. That beast
Doth shrink to view its own deformity,
And veils with darkling mists its Gorgon face.


Thus shall Ambition learn how vain to tilt 330
For God's own crown. Where stayed Apollion?


He saw his tide ebb when his star declined,
And fled: so fled they all. Then, from above,
The celestial ordnance pours forth shot on shot,
With lightning flash and rolling thunders loud,
Causing the monsters that into the light
Have crawled to swell the rout; and pleased are all.
With God's array, to aid in such pursuit!
O! what a whirl of storms in one resolved!
And what a noisy tumult rises round! 340
What floods sweep by! Our legions, blessed by God,
Advance, and strike and crush whatever they meet.
What cries of pain now burst forth everywhere,
As from the fleeing hordes one hears, amid
This wild confusion and this change of form
In limbs and shapes, their roars and bellowings.
Some yell, and others howl. What fearful frowns
Those Angel faces wear, the mirrors dread
Of Hell's infernal horrors. Hark! I hear
Michael return, triumphant, to display, 350
Here in the light, the spoil from Angels reft.
The choristers now greet him with their songs
Of praise, with sound of cymbal, pipe, and drum.
They come in front, and strew their laurel leaves
'Mid those celestial harmonies around.



Hail! to the hero, hail!
Who the wicked did assail;
And in the fight, o'er his might and his standard.
Triumphant did prevail.
Who strove for God's own crown, 360
From his high and splendid throne,
Into night, with his might, hath been driven.
How dazzling God's renown!
Though flames the tumult fell,
The valiant Michael
With his hand the fierce brand can extinguish:
All mutiny shall quell.
God's banner he doth rear:
Come, wreathe his brow austere.
Now, in peace, shall increase Heaven's Palace: 370
No discord now we hear.
Then to the Godhead raise.
In His deathless courts, your praise.
Glory bring to the King of all Kingdoms:
His deeds inspire our lays.


Praise be to God! The state of things above
Has changed. Our Grand Foe has met his defeat;
And in our hands he leaves his standard, helm,
And morning-star, and shield and banners bold.
Which spoil, gained in pursuit, even now doth hang, 380
'Mid joys triumphant, honors, songs of praise,
And sounds of trump, on Heaven's axis bright,
The mirror clear of all rebelliousness,
Of all ambition that would rear its crest
'Gainst God, the stem immovable—grand fount,
Prime source, and Father of all things that are,
Which from His hand their nature did receive,
And various attributes. No more shall we
Behold the glow of Majesty Supreme
Dimmed by the damp of base ingratitude. 390
There, deep beneath our sight and these high thrones,
They wander through the air and restlessly
Move to and fro, all blind and overcast
With shrouding clouds, and horribly deformed.
Thus is his fate, who would assail God's Throne.


Thus is his fate, who would assail God's Throne.
Thus is his fate, who would, through envy, man,
In God's own image made, deprive of light.



Alas! alas! alas! how things have changed!
Why triumph here? Our triumph is in vain: 400
Ah! vain display, these plundered flags and arms!


What hear I, Gabriel?


Oh! Adam's fallen:
The father and the stem of all mankind,
Most pitiful and sad! brought to his fall
So soon. He is undone.


That bursts even like
A sudden thunder-peal upon our ears.
Although I shudder, yet I long to hear
This overthrow described. Doth then the Chief
Accursed, also on Earth his warfare wage?


The battle o'er, he called his scattered host 410
Unto his side, though first his chieftains bold,
Who to each other turned abhorring gaze;
And then, to shun the swift, all-searching rays
Of the all-seeing Eye, he veiled them round
With gloomy mists, that formed a hollow cloud,
A dark, obscure, and gruesome lair of fog,
Where shone no light, where gleamed no glow of fire
Save what did shine from their own blazing eyes.
And in that dim, infernal consistory,
High-seated 'mid his Councillors of State, 420
With bitter rage 'gainst God he thus began:
"Ye Powers, who for our righteous cause have borne,
With such fierce pride, this injury, 'tis time
To be revengèd for our wrongs: with hate
Irreconcilable and furious craft
The Heavens to persecute and circumvent
In their own chosen image, man, and him
To smother at his birth, in his ascent,
Ere that his sinews gain their promised strength
And ere he multiply. 'Tis my design, 430
Both Adam and his seed now to corrupt.
I know how, through transgression of the law
Him first enjoined, to stain him with a blot
Indelible; so that he with his seed,
In soul and body poisoned, never shall
Usurp the throne from which ourselves were thrust:
Though it may be that some shall yet ascend
On high, a number small and slight; and these
Alone through thousand deaths and suffering
And labor shall attain the state and crown 440
To us denied. Lo! miseries forthwith
Shall follow aft in Adam's wake, and spread,
From age to age, throughout the whole wide world.
Even Nature shall, attainted by this blow,
Almost decay, and wish again to turn
To chaos and its primal nothingness.
I see mankind, in God's own image made,
From God's similitude debased, estranged,
And tarnished, even in will and memory
And understanding, while the holy light 450
Within created is obscured and dimmed:
Yea, all yet in their mother's anxious womb,
That wait with sorrow for their natal hour,
I now, forsooth, behold a helpless prey
To Death's relentless jaws. I shall exalt
My tyranny with e'er-increasing pride,
While you, my sons, I then shall see adored
As Deities, on altars and in fanes
Innumerable that tower to Heaven, where burns
The sacrificial victim, 'mid the smoke 460
Of censers and the dazzling sheen of gold,
In praise most reverential. I see hosts
Of men, whose multitudes are even beyond
The power of tongue to name—yea, all that spring
From Adam's loins—for all eternity
Accursed by their deeds abominable,
Done in defiance of God's name. So dear
To Him the cost of triumph o'er my crown."


Accursèd one, even yet to be so bold
In thy defiance 'gainst thy God! Ere long 470
Thou shalt from us this blasphemy unlearn.


Even thus spake Lucifer, and then he sent
Prince Belial down, that he forthwith might cause
Mankind to fall: who took upon himself
The form of that most cunning of all beasts,
The Serpent, type of wickedness itself,
That he might with a gloss of words adorn
His luring snares, which then those creatures pure
In guileless innocence even thus received,
As, swinging from the tempting bough of knowledge, 480
That lone forbidden tree, he hung aloft:
"Hath God, upon the pain of death, with such
Severity and at so high a price,
Deprived you of the freedom of this fruit?
—The taste of even the choicest tree of all?
Nay, Eve, thou simple dove, indeed thou dost
Mistake. But once behold this apple, pray!
Aye! see how glows this radiant fruit with gold
And crimson mingled! An alluring feast!
Yea, daughter, nearer draw; no venom lurks up 490
In this immortal leaf. How tempts this fruit!
Yea, pluck; yea, freely pluck: I promise thee
All light and knowledge. Come, why shouldst thou shrink
For fear of sin? Aye, taste, and thus become
Equal to God Himself in cognizance,
Honor and wisdom, truth and majesty:
Even though He much may wish thee to deny.
Thus must distinctions be discerned in things.
Their nature, entities, and qualities."
Forthwith begins the heart of the fair bride 500
To burn and to enkindle, till she flames
To see the praised fruit, which first allures
The eye: the eye the mouth, that sighs to taste.
Desire doth urge the hand, all quivering,
To pluck. And thus she plucks, and tastes and eats
(Oh! how this shall afflict her progeny!)
With Adam, and as soon as then their eyes
Are opened and they see their nakedness,
They deck themselves with leaves—with leaves of fig,
Their shame, disgrace, and taint original— 510
And in the trees and shadows hide themselves;
But hide in vain from the all-piercing Eye.
Then gradually the sky grows black. They see
The rainbow, as a warning messenger
And portent of God's plagues, stretched o'er the Heavens,
That weep, in mourning clad. Nor wringing hands,
Nor sad lament, nor cries avail the pair.
Alas! the lightnings gleam, with flash on flash,
And shaking thunders roll there, peal on peal.
And naught is heard but sighs, and naught is seen 520
But fright and gloom. They even their shadows flee;
But ne'er can 'scape that dread heart-cankering worm,
The sting of conscience. Thus, with knees that knock
Together, step by step they stumble on,
Their faces ghastly pale, and eyes, o'er-brimmed
With tears, blind to the light. How spiritless,
They who but now their heads so proudly held!
The sound of rustling leaf or whispering brook,
The faintest noise, doth them confound; the while
A pregnant cloud descends, that bursts and bears, 530
By slow degrees, a light and radiant glow,
Wherein the great Supreme appears in shape
Impressive, thundering with His Voice, that fells
Them to the earth.

—"Nor wringing hands,
Nor sad lament, nor cries avail the pair." "Nor wringing hands,
Nor sad lament, nor cries avail the pair."


Oh! oh! 'twere better far,
Had mankind ne'er been made. This teaches them
By such a juicy fruit to be beguiled.


"O Adam," thunders God, "where art thou hid?"
"Forgive me. Lord; I flee thy countenance,
Naked and all ashamed." "Who taught thee thus,"
Asks God, "thy shame and nakedness to know? 540
Didst dare profane thy lips with the forbidden
Fruit?" "Aye, my bride, my wife, alas! did tempt."
She says, "The wily Serpent hath deceived
Me with this lure." Thus each the charge denies
Of being the cause of their sad wretchedness.


Mercy! What penalty hangs o'er their crime?


The woman, who hath Adam thus seduced,
God threatens with the pains of tears and travail,
And her subjection, and the man with care
And labor, sweat and arduous slavery; 550
The soil, where man, at last, shall find his grave,
With noxious weeds and great calamities;
The Serpent, for the sly misuse thus made
Of his most subtle tongue, shall, o'er the ground,
Upon his belly creep, and live alone
On dust and earth. But as a comfort sure,
In such a misery, to poor mankind
God promises, in truth, out of the seed
And blood of the first woman, to raise up
The Strong One, who shall crush the Serpent's head, 560
This Dragon vile, through deadly hate, by time
Nor yet eternity to be removed.
And though this raging monster make attempt
To bite His heel, yet shall the Hero win;
And from the strife shall come with honors crowned.
I come, in the name of Him, the Highest One,
To thee this sad disaster to reveal.
Forthwith all things in wonted order place,
Ere they, for us, shall further mischief brew.


Come, Uriel, armor-bearer, who dost guard 570
The Right divine and punishest the Wrong:
Take up thy flaming sword: fly down below,
And drive the twain from Eden, who have dared
Transgress, so rash and blind, the primal law.
Go, guard the gate of the Paradise profaned,
And forcibly the exiles drive away
From this rare food, this tree, prolonging life.
Permit not that they pluck the immortal fruit,
Nor their abuse of heavenly gifts allow.
Thou art placed, as sentinel, the garden over, 580
And o'er this tree. Then see that Adam shall
Be driven out, and that from morn to eve
He plough the field, and till the clayey ground
From which, the breath of God once fashioned him,
Ozias, to whose hand once God Himself
With honor did entrust the ponderous hammer
Of bright-hewn diamond made, also the chains
Of ruby and the clamps so sharp of teeth,
Go hence, and capture and securely bind
The host of the infernal animals, 590
Also the lion and the dragon fell,
That furiously against our standards rage.
Sweep from the sky these hordes accursed, and bind
Them neck and claw, and chain them forcibly.
This key of the black bottomless abyss
And all its dungeons is unto your care,
Azarias, enjoined. Go hence, and lock
All that our power assail within those vaults.
Maceda, take this torch, to you this flame
Is given: go light the deep lake sulphurous. 600
Down in the centre of the Earth, and there
Torment thou Lucifer, who hath brought forth
Such numerous horrors, in the eternal fire
Unquenchable, with chilling frosts commingled:
There Grief and Horror and Obduracy,
And Hunger, Thirst, and comfortless Despair,
The sting of Conscience, Wrath implacable,
The punishments given for this mad attempt,
Amid the smoke from God's deep glow concealed,
Bear witness to the blasting curse of Heaven, 610
Passed on this Spirit impious, the while
Shall come the promised Seed, the Reconciler,
Who shall appease the blazing wrath of God,
And in His wondrous love to man restore
All that by Adam's trespass has been lost.

—"The eternal fire
Unquenchable, with chilling frosts commingled." —"The eternal fire
Unquenchable, with chilling frosts commingled."


Deliverer, who thus the Serpent's head
Shalt bruise, and who, at the appointed time,
Shalt fallen mankind cleanse from the foul taint
Original, from Adam's loins derived;
And who again, for frail Eve's offspring, shalt 620
Ope here, on high, a fairer Paradise,
"We shall with longing tell the centuries
Till the year, day, and hour when shall appear
Thy promised Mercy, which its pristine bloom
To pining Nature shall restore, and place
Upon the throne whereout the Angels fell
The souls and bodies Thou hast glorified. 627

The End.

The Critical Cult.

"I consider your version of the Lucifer the most notable literary achievement in American letters in the decade from 1890 to 1900."—Richard Watson Gilder.

"It takes a master to translate a master, and the Lucifer of Leonard Van Noppen is a re-creation of the original work; masterful, comprehensive and in every sense a finished production. Full of poetic fire and the magic of the fitting word, it has the imprint of creative genius in every line and is weighted with the personality of a powerful and vivid imagination."—Francis Grierson.

"Leonard Charles Van Noppen, the translator of Vondel's Lucifer, is a poet of extraordinary power and beauty."—Edwin Markham.

Comparing the author with George Sterling, says Mr. Markham, in his "California, the Wonderful." "In recent poetry only Mr. Leonard Van Noppen's verse is kindred in lavish word-work and ornate architecture to 'The Wine of Wizardry.' Both men create their poesies with large movement and breadth of treatment—with amplitude of sky and prodigiousness of field, with wash of sunset and rainbow, with march of stars."

"I feel glad that any sparks of mine have served to enkindle the cassia, nard and frankincense which so prodigally enrich your own altar. Continue, now, to feed their flames with all those resources which the translator of Vondel showed me so plainly that he possessed. Take up your own creative work while in your prime, and in the end you will gain more nobly won, though none more royally couched, tributes of speech than those you offer me."—Edmund C. Stedman.

"I congratulate you upon your success in the accomplishment of this very interesting piece of work and hope that it will meet with that recognition among scholars which it deserves. I think there is a large culture for the writer."—Henry Van Dyke.

"I received with much pleasure your Vondel's Lucifer, and as I read it, I was much delighted. It is a pleasure to read the English version of this work."—Josef Israels.

"I am much indebted to you for the gift of your very handsome translation of the 'Lucifer,' and I am not a little struck by the evidence of literary ability spread over all parts of the volume. I hope your spirited and scholarly enterprise may meet to the full with the success it deserves."—Edmund Gosse.

"Worthy the genius of Vondel."—Dr. Jan Ten Brink, Professor of Literature, University of Leiden.

"A beautiful book. It is almost like discovering a new Homer."—Nathan Haskell Dole.

"A grand yet exquisite work. It is no flattery to say that the issue of this book is one of the most notable events of the age, yet is it not better than praise of one's effort to feel its significance as a centre of spreading thought and inquiry! To think that you are the first to give Vondel's Lucifer to the English reading world!"—Mary Mapes Dodge.

"I was reading your translation of Vondel last year, and I was very much struck with the resemblance to Milton in form and spirit. The conception of the mental attitude of the fallen angels is one which is certainly very interesting from a psychological as well as a literary point of view."—A. Lawrence Lowell.

"The Lucifer has greatly interested me as a revelation of one at least of the main sources from which Milton gained his ideas. Your preliminary work to me seems to be admirable, and you have certainly rendered a real service both to history and literature."—Andrew D. White.

"I wish to thank you for your translation of Vondel's Lucifer. Shall I confess it? It was long ago since I read that great poet, and your work afforded me all the pleasure of an original. As for your splendid chapter, 'Life and Times of Vondel,' and your thorough and searching Lucifer's Interpretation, they cannot fail to awaken the keenest interest in the English speaking literary world."—Baron Gevers, Minister from the Netherlands to Washington.

"Mr. Van Noppen is a man of great literary power, an authority in Dutch literature and is achieving fame as a translator of the masterpieces of the Dutch language."—Edwin A. Alderman.

"Your book duly came to hand. I was delighted to see the extraordinary attention it got in 'Literature,' and I congratulate you on the wide interest it has awakened."—W.D. Howells.

"Many thanks for your curious and interesting volume, my only chance of making acquaintance with the Batavian author."—Andrew Lang.

"I want to add my small words to the panegyric and tell you with what intense interest and pleasure I have followed your astonishing success. I say astonishing because I wonder how long it is since any one has been able to stir up such keen and general interest over a classic written long ago and in a foreign tongue? How long ago has it been since any classic was so much talked of? When, pray, has a young man made such a contribution to English letters and so interested thinking and scholarly people?"—Willa Cather.

"It has become a matter of literary tradition, in Holland and out of it, that the choral drama of 'Lucifer' is the great masterpiece of Dutch literature. * * * An era of translation was sure to set in, and it is a matter of significance that its herald has even now appeared. The translation into English of Vondel's 'Lucifer' is not only in and for itself an event of more than ordinary importance in literary history, but it cannot fail to waken among us a curiosity as to what else of supreme value may be contained in Dutch literature."—William H. Carpenter, Professor of Germanic Philology, Columbia University.

"We heartily rejoice that Vondel's drama has been translated into English by an American for Americans. Were this translation an inferior one, or were it only mediocre, we should have no reason to be glad, but in this case it is otherwise. Although no translation can entirely compensate for the lack of the original it is, however, possible for the original to be followed very closely. This is well shown by this rendering, which to a high degree possesses the merit of accuracy, while, at the same time, the spirit and the character of Vondel's tragedy are felt, understood and interpreted in a remarkable manner. Whoever is in a position, by the comparison of the translation with the original, to form an individual opinion of Van Noppen's superb work, will probably be convinced, even as I have been, that here an extraordinarily difficult task has been magnificently done."—G. Kalff, Professor of Dutch Literature, University of Utrecht.

"This version of Vondel bridges the gap in the Miltonic Criticism."—Francis B. Gummere.

"Much Esteemed Sir and Friend:

The distinguished octogenarian poet and author, Nicolaas Beets, of Utrecht, Holland, wrote to Mr. Van Noppen as follows:

'Much Esteemed Sir and Friend:

* * * I have furthermore compared your translation in many a striking passage with the original, which I always held in my hand. * * * Whatever was attainable you not only tried to reach most earnestly, but you have even most excellently succeeded in attaining. You have absolutely understood and perfectly rendered the meaning, the action, the spirit and the power of the sublime original. In splendid English verse we read Vondel's soul. Whoever knows Vondel will admit this, and whoever does not at present know him will learn to know and appreciate him from your translation. * * * It is also very plain, from the essays preceding the translation, that you have made a most thorough and comprehensive study of Vondel and of his poetry in connection with the entire field of the literature and history of his time. Though having myself read, and even written, in prose as well as poetry, so much concerning Vondel, I was often so impressed by criticisms and observations in your essays that I felt impelled to revise and complete my own conceptions."

The American Press.

"Mr. Van Noppen has produced a text which, so far as mere suppleness and naturalness go, might be taken for an original production, and his editorial labors have been considerable."—New York Tribune.

"There is reason enough for the publication in English of such a classic as the Lucifer, and it is fortunate that the work could be so artistically done."—Review of Reviews.

"To compare the two poems—Milton's Paradise Lost and Vondel's Lucifer—is as if one should contrast a great chorale by Bach or Mendelssohn with a magnificent hymn-tune by Sir Arthur Sullivan or William Henry Monk. The epic and the drama are both triumphs of skill. Why make comparisons? Rather let the world rejoice in two such possessions."—Philadelphia Record.

"It is particularly fortunate that the first English rendering of the great poem is so ably and conscientiously done. * * * Finally, the poem is illustrated by fifteen drawings in black and white by the famous Dutch artist, John Aarts, which are printed with the text."—The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer.

"If only as a literary, or as a human document, shedding light upon the methods of the greatest of English epic poets, Mr. Van Noppen's work would be of infinite value to all students. But the book which he has translated possesses, besides these adventitious claims to respect, a supreme intrinsic value. It is a drama that is everywhere great, and in passages sublime. * * * That the present translation is a good one he who reads can discern. It is strong, nervous, and rhythmical. It is, above all, good English, not a Teutonized hybrid."—New York Herald.

Mr. Van Noppen's translation is spirited and dignified, and there is a distinct lyric charm, which he has managed to preserve—a rare feat with a translator."—Charleston News and Courier.

"For the reader who desires merely the artistic comment of the pictures that thoroughly illustrate this famous old poem we might add that Mr. Aarts has caught the spirit—the pictorial beauty—of Lucifer as perhaps no other artist of the day could have done. The man himself is a poet, and he has translated into these drawings the majestic tragedy of Lucifer even as Mr. Van Noppen has translated it into stately English verse."—Brooklyn Citizen.

"Literary societies, university extension circles, and reading clubs are all here furnished with a fresh winter theme whose stages are already plotted out for the worker."—Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Vondel's Lucifer is one of the most important contributions ever made to the catholic literature of the English-speaking world. * * * As a specimen of book-making the volume is a model."—St. Louis Church Progress.

"We may consider Mr. Van Noppen's translation as a key that has unlocked a literary treasure and put within our reach a classic of Teutonic literature."—Detroit Free Press.

"The English-speaking literary world is under great obligations to the translator and publisher of this uniquely printed, illustrated, and bound volume."—Richmond Dispatch.

"The present rendering of Lucifer is by Leonard C. Van Noppen, who has made a translation which will link his name with that of the master as Edward Fitzgerald has bound his up with that of Omar Khayyam."—Buffalo News.

"A most meritorious translation of the Dutch poet's sublime tragedy, with a great deal of critical and biographical matter in the introductory sections."—Philadelphia Press.

"This careful translation of the great masterpiece of Dutch literature is one of the important books of the year."—Chicago Tribune.

"As Lucifer is the greatest work of the Dutch poet's, the fine translation and its elegant setting in the beautiful book is most gratifying."—Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"The translation is as literal as it can be made, and the sonorous tongue of its original author is heard through it all"—Chicago Times-Herald.

"The translation is an earnest and faithful rendering of the poet's ideas, and the verse is technically excellent; in fact, the translation may bid for the exalted place of the original in many libraries."—Times-Union, Albany.

"The stately sweep of the original verse has not been lost in the transference from one tongue to another. Mr. Van Noppen has, in addition to his translation of the poem, furnished a sympathetic and interesting memoir of the Life and Times of Vondel, and an elaborate, critical and scholarly Interpretation of the Lucifer."—Brooklyn Times.

"This delightfully printed book is a real work of art, and is a worthy contribution to the history of literature."—Boston Globe.

"Leonard Charles Van Noppen, the translator, has given to English literature another great classic."—Dramatic Magazine, Chicago.

"It is a very interesting event that we have Vondel's Lucifer in a scholarly, an accurate, and an admirable rendering into English."—Wilmington (N.C.) Messenger.

"If we were asked to give our opinion of this version we should express it in one word—'masterly.' The powers of expression and the richness of Vondel's thought, together with the rhythmical beauty of the poem, have been preserved in full. It is a masterpiece, and should have a place in every library."—De Grondwet (Dutch paper), Holland, Mich.

"In the essay on Vondel's Life and Times we have a singularly able and deeply interesting account of the conditions under which Vondel developed. * * * For the poem itself, like many more of the writings of Vondel, it has been recognized as a classic. Nobody can read it and not feel the sublimity of the inspiration that produced it."—San Francisco Chronicle.

"The whole thing is new and interesting—introduction, biography and poem. It opens up Dutch literature, the society of the Eglantine, a social field of poets and writers."—Baltimore Sun.

"Translator, artist and publishers are to be highly commended for the handsome and satisfactory manner in which they have combined to present this celebrated Dutch classic to American readers."—New Orleans Times-Democrat.

"The translator is Leonard Charles Van Noppen, and he is a poet himself in English. This intellectual and temperamental tendency enabled him to make a literal rendering that is not only highly accurate, but that also most admirably conserves the spirit of the original. The book is beautifully illustrated by the Dutch artist, John Aarts. From Mr. Van Noppen's interesting introductory essay on Vondel—a clear, comprehensive, and convincing exposition, as admirable in style as it is valuable in matter—we learn many interesting things concerning this old poet, this unknown Titan, whom the ablest students of literature place on the same plane with Milton, Dante, and Æschylus."—The Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia.

"In almost every, if not in every individual particular, the book is a model of what such a book should be. Intelligent and scholarly editing, thoughtful consideration for all the several needs of students as well as readers, liberal and judicious provision in the matter of accessories, a cultivated and refined taste in decoration, and a true feeling for typographical elegance in each respect of paper, type, margins, edgings, illustrations and binding unite to give this volume a character of genuine excellence and an aspect of chaste elegance such as are not often seen in a single example. The total is a result of such importance and value that we shall describe it item by item."—The Literary World, Boston.

"Mr. Van Noppen's introductory study of the Life and Times of Vondel is masterly in knowledge of the whole literary atmosphere of the day, with its grand galaxy of writers. * * * Therefore this book will serve another purpose besides that of introducing Anglo-Saxon readers to the beauties of Vondel's masterpiece: it will unfold to them as well the history of Holland's great literary period in all its wealth and beauty. In this translation of the drama itself, which is strictly faithful to the original in spirit, he has succeeded in reproducing to a considerable extent the virility, the majesty, of the original."—The Critic,

From Signed Reviews.

"Mr. Van Noppen has laid the student of Milton as well as the student of Dutch literature under weighty obligations by a translation of the drama of Lucifer which is not only true to the sense of its original, but also not unworthy of its fame."—Mayo W. Hazeltine, in New York Sun.

"Vondel's Lucifer is just as readable to-day as it was two hundred and fifty years ago, and in this translation the energetic simplicity of it abides."—George W. Smalley, in New York Herald.

"We prefer to accept Mr. Van Noppen's translation as he offers it for the worth of the poem itself, and that is sufficient for many a century."—George Henry Payne, in The Criterion.

"Mr. Van Noppen's translation of the Lucifer in this book is one for which he claims literalness to a close extent; but its fluency is not the less to be noted. Some of the best and most brilliant passages scarcely seem like a translation, so naturally and choicely do the words proceed."—Joel Benton, in The New York Times' "Review of Books."

"I spent one whole evening comparing Mr. Van Noppen's translation with the original. As far as exactness goes, as far as intimate verbal interpretation of Vondel's verse is concerned, it equals Andrew Lang's wonderful prose translation of the Iliad. By far the most difficult part of this translation must have been that of the lyrics and choral passages (after the Greek mode) with which the drama abounds. Mr. Van Noppen has preserved (at what pains) not only the metre and the rhythm, but also the rhymes, often involute and curiously doubled."—Vance Thompson, in Musical Courier.

"The work evinces not only a mastery of seventeenth century Dutch, but an insight into metrical effects and facility in reproducing them in English. This version could not have come from one who had not drilled himself for years in the theory and practice of English verse. We bespeak for the handsome volume before us a wide circulation. That such a translation has been sorely needed every student of comparative literature knows. That this need has been adequately met every impartial student of Mr. Van Noppen's version will, we believe, readily admit."—Prof. C. Alphonso Smith, Ph.D., in Modern Language Notes, Baltimore, Md., Dec, 1898.

"The intrinsic value of the work makes the publication of Mr. Van Noppen's translation an event of peculiar literary interest."—John D. Barry, in Boston Literary World.

The London Press.

"The dramatic masterpiece of the great Dutch poet of the seventeenth century has found a skilled and vigorous translator in Mr. Leonard Charles Van Noppen, and the sustained volume is further enriched by a careful memoir of the author of Lucifer and by an elaborate critical Interpretation of the poem. Justice is thus at last rendered to a poet of unquestionable genius and inspiration, of whom everything like a fair estimate has hitherto been hardly possible to an English reader. * * * There is no appeal to the groundlings in the style and quality of the verse, which in Mr. Van Noppen's spirited translation has a march of sustained, or, at least, of rarely failing dignity throughout, and in its intercalated choric passages is by no means wanting in lyrical charm. * * * But after half a dozen, a dozen, a score, of similar parallelisms the odds against chance and in favor of design become so overwhelming that the least mathematically minded of men will reject the former hypothesis. The 'long arm of coincidence' is not so long as all that. And, most assuredly, it is not long enough to cover the fact that Milton's Samson Agonistes followed in due course on Vondel's Samson, and that it abounds in evidences that in the matter of dramatic construction, at any rate, to leave the poetry out of the question, he was content to take his Dutch contemporary as his closely followed model."—London Literature.

"It is interesting that the first English translation of Vondel's famous play should be made in America and put forth in the old Dutch city of New York. The volume is a handsome one, elaborately gotten up."—London Daily Chronicle.

"Lucifer is a large, majestic drama, and adorned with several beautiful choric odes."—W.L. Courtney, in London Daily Telegraph.

* * * Milton undoubtedly behaved in a light-fingered fashion at the expense of Vondel, not once or twice, but often. * * * After a long lapse of time this matter is reopened by Mr. Leonard Charles Van Noppen, whose volume in praise and explanation of Vondel is a book of quite uncommon merit and charm, and one absolutely indispensable to students of Milton. * * * Of Mr. Van Noppen's success as a translator there can be only one opinion. We have read his version with surprise and delight. Vondel's Lucifer, in nearly all respects, will prove a veritable treasure for the genuine book-lover."—The London Literary World.

Board of the Queen Wilhelmina Lectureship, Columbia University


We, members of the "Board of the Queen Wilhelmina Lectureship, Columbia University," Professor Doctor G. Kalff, of the University of Leiden; Member Royal Academy of Sciences of Amsterdam; Leiden. President; J. Heldring, of Heldring & Pierson, Bankers, the Hague; J.W. IJzerman, President of the Royal Netherland Geographical Society at Amsterdam, the Hague; Wouter Nijhoff, President of the Dutch Publishers' Association, the Hague; Doctor H.J. Kiewiet de Jonge, President of the General Dutch Alliance, Dordrecht, Hon. Secretary, herewith plead for your co-operation with our endeavors to spread in America a knowledge of our civilization and institutions. Notwithstanding the tremendous influence of Holland upon England and the American Colonies—an influence as yet hardly guessed—the study of the Dutch and their history in the colleges and universities of America is still universally neglected. So little in fact is known of this subject and of Holland's part in civilization that there is even among scholars but little appreciation of the importance of this subject. Only at Columbia University is there any evidence of interest. Here our literary representative, Leonard C. Van Noppen, whom we have selected as the pioneer to blaze the way, has inaugurated several courses in Dutch Literature and given besides lectures on the various periods of its development. Since Columbia has been the first to co-operate with us, will not your institution be the second? If so, will you kindly address Prof. Leonard C. van Noppen, Queen Wilhelmina Lecturer, Columbia University, N.Y.? Mr. Van Noppen will be glad at any time to introduce you to this subject and to lecture on such phases of it as you may deem the most interesting.

We invite your students to our universities. Here is a field which will enrich scholarship with many discoveries. The selection of the Hague as the Capital of Peace has given Holland a new international importance. Your universities have established chairs in Icelandic, Chinese and Russian, subjects whose importance and value are incalculably less than that of Dutch. Is it not time that a beginning be made in this direction? Not even the study of the Spanish, the Italian and the French is so fertile of results as that of the civilization of the Netherlands, which, as the mother of the Teutonic Renaissance, influenced the civilization of the English-speaking world so largely. Prof. Butler will, upon application, be glad to give Mr. van Noppen leave of absence to lecture at your university. Mr. Van Noppen has given courses of lectures on this subject at the Lowell Institute, Brooklyn Institute, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Cincinnati and many other colleges and universities.

We add the following notice of his lecture at Davidson College, N.C.:

"Davidson, April 20.—It is altogether too seldom that our Southern colleges, certainly it is true of Davidson, are privileged to have with them a lecturer of the type seen in Professor Leonard Charles van Noppen of the Queen Wilhelmina Chair of Dutch Literature in Columbia University, who spoke last evening in Shearer Hall and who speaks again this evening and to-night.

"Doctor van Noppen was introduced by Professor Thomas W. Lingle, who in a brief speech told of the lecturers right by virtue of birth and training to speak on the topic selected and for a few minutes in an instructive way pointed out what Holland had contributed to Western civilization and particularly to American life and history, an introduction so full of facts marked with such accurate historical perspective that the Columbia lecturer in making acknowledgment said he felt inclined to take his seat and let Doctor Lingle continue, so familiar did he seem with the subject he himself was to present.

"To say that Doctor van Noppen's lecture was popular, in the ordinary sense of the word, would do it great injustice. It was too comprehensive in its reach, and strong in its grasp, too scholarly, too suggestive of research and prolonged investigation and study, too elaborate in phrase and too masterful in its discriminating use of choice English and ornate diction for any one to call it popular. Its purpose and its value is not of this order. Rather, after listening to such a paper, the scholar is glad that it is doubtless to appear in permanent or book form, where he can study it at leisure. To the college student it serves as a stimulus, an inspiration, an ideal to show him that in his daily routine of class room work he is only laying a foundation on which to build and with which he may begin the higher intellectual life, may start out for himself to read, to investigate and in time reduce to consistent and articulated form the results of his own weeks and months not to say years of patient toil in the great libraries.

"In a very strict sense Doctor van Noppen's first lecture was scholarly and showed clearly that it breathes a university atmosphere and is intended primarily and ultimately for the lecture hall of the Johns Hopkins University, where he is soon to deliver the series. He is just now returning from a lecture tour in the West.

"Beginning with a clever characterization of the people of Holland as a practical one, first reclaiming from the sea a land to live on, and then anchoring it to the continent, in rapid review he showed what a wonderful contribution this little country, less than Maryland, and small in everything but in history, has made to modern Christian civilization. Washed out of the soil of Germany on toward the sea—and no wonder that Germany looks with envious eyes upon it—it is the richest country imaginable. It has a per capita wealth of $12,000 as against America's $4,000. In proportion to population it has done more for civilization than any other nation, not even Greece excepted. Then followed in rapid review the facts of history in substantiation of the claim.

"Conspicuous in the claims and seemingly substantiated was in the influence of Holland in spreading abroad, notably in America, the doctrines of the equality of all men, separation of Church and State, religious freedom, freedom of the press, local self-government.

"Fine was the description of Philip of Spain, of William the Silent. Interesting was the portrayal of the work of the Chamber of Eglantine of Amsterdam, of the men of letters of Leiden and the intellectual forces leading up to and resulting in the great University in Leiden.

"Most striking of all was his brilliant description of the life and work of the great Dutch poet Vondel and the story of how Milton, the greatest of English Epic poets, has been content to follow, imitate and copy from Vondel in his Lucifer where Vondel has shown himself the great dramatist."

The "Baltimore Sun" writes of his lecture at Johns Hopkins:

"Very frequently since the day when Geoffrey Chaucer fashioned his immortal 'Canterbury Tales' upon Bocaccio's 'Decameron,' English poets have been subject to the impeachment of having borrowed (usually without proper acknowledgment) from foreign sources —borrowed material, plot, episodes, characters and, sometimes, language, embodied in whole phrases and sentences. The Elizabethan Age, pre-eminent though it was in creative literary excellence, has not escaped the challenge of its originality. French and Italian influences and writers exercised a strongly formative power upon Drayton, Sidney, Spenser and others of the elect, and even the great Bard of Stratford did not scruple at transmuting the clay of less gifted molders into the gold of his superb coinage.

"But it has not been generally recognized that Milton was such an appropriator. Accordingly, Dr. L.C. van Noppen's lecture showing that the great Puritan poet was indebted to the 'Lucifer' of Vondel, the Dutch author, for the theme, the treatment, the description and even some of the finest passages in 'Paradise Lost,' is a surprise. Yet Dr. Van Noppen makes out a very strong case. The appearance of 'Lucifer' a short time before Milton's Continental tour, which was cut short by the breaking out of the great civil war in England; the strong likelihood that Milton had heard of Vondel and his work through Roger Williams, whose sojourn in Europe had made him acquainted with 'Lucifer,' and who had instructed Milton in modern languages; Milton's association in Paris with Hugo Grotius, one of the most eminent scholars of his time, a countryman and an enthusiastic admirer of Vondel—all combine into a strong chain of circumstantial evidence, which, reinforced by the undeniable similarity and the many parallel passages in the two great works, make a conclusion which is almost imperative.

"But the conceding of Milton's debt to Vondel does not cancel our debt to Milton, whose sublime epic has given pleasure and comfort to scores of readers to whom Vondel's drama has been a sealed volume. Neither does it release our obligation to 'render unto Caesar the things that are Cæsar's.'"

Furthermore, we hope that you will consider the establishment of a chair in Dutch Literature or History and that you, in anticipation of this foundation, will from time to time send us such students as desire to make this subject their specialty. Hoping that you, after a consideration of this matter, will co-operate with us, I am

Respectfully yours for the Board of
the Queen Wilhelmina Lectureship,

H.J. Kiewiet de Jonge,
Hon. Secretary.

DORDRECHT (Holland), November, 1915.

Parallelisms Between Vondel and Milton.

Since Mr. Edmundson's book is out of print, we have been asked to give a list of his parallelisms between the "Lucifer" and Milton. This will give the student the benefit of his comparisons.

Line 13.
PARADISE LOST.—Book III., line 741.

Line 22.
P.L.—{V., 266-272.
{II., 1012.

Line 35.
P.L.—V., 426.

Line 52.
P.L.—{VIII., 107.
{X., 85.

Line 57.
P.L.—II., 104-105.

Line 61.
P.L.—IV., 227.

Line 63.
P.L.—IV., 233.

Line 64.
P.L.—III., 554.

Line 73.
P.L.—IV., 225.

Line 78.
P.L.—VII., 577.

Line 85-95.
P.L.—{VII., 317.
{VII., 333.
{IV., 644.

Line 107.
P.L.—IV., 340.

Line 115.
P.L.—{V., 7.
{IV., 642.
{IV., 238.

Line 131.
P.L.—{IV., 360-365.
{IX., 457.

Line 134.
P.L.—VII., 505-511.

Line 158.
P.L.—{V., 137.
{IV., 689.

Line 174.
P.L.—{IV., 288-306.
{IV., 496.

Line 180.
P.L.—IX., 450-460.

Line 192.
P.L.—IX., 489.

Line 193-195.
P.L.—IX., 460-470.

Line 199.
P.L.—IV., 304-306.

Line 203.
P.L.—VIII., 40-50.

Line 260.
P.L.—III., 276-290.

Line 268.
P.L.—{III., 313-317.
{III., 323-333.

Line 280.
P.L.—V., 602.

Line 326.
P.L.—V., 429.

Line 330.
P.L.—X., 660-670.

Line 364.
P.L.—III., 382.


Line 22.
P.L.—V., line 787-792.

Line 108.
P.L.—{I., 94-98.
{I., 106-111.

Line 110.

Line 118.
P.L.—I., 261-263.

Line 176-180.
P.L.—{III., 380-382.
{VIII., 65-67.
{VIII., 71-75.
{VIII., 168-170.

Line 197.
P.L.—V., 810-825.

Line 343.
P.L.—IV, 1010-1012.

Line 367.
P.L.—II., 188-191.

Line 377.
P.L.{—II., 188-191.
{II., 343-346.
{V., 254.

Line 405.
P.L.—{II., 110-112.
{I., 490.


Line 120.
P.L.—X., 1045.

Line 238.
P.L.—V., 617-627.

Line 572.
P.L.—V., 708-710.


Line 10.
P.L.—V., 708-710.

Line 43.
P.L.—VI., 56-59.

Line 120-155.
P.L.—V., 722-802.

Line 186.
P.L.—III., 383-389.

Line 207.
P.L.—III., 648.

Line 251.
P.L.—IV., 393.

Line 258.
P.L.—II., 188-194.

Line 351.
P.L.—IV., 391-394.

Line 370.
P.R.—IV., 518-520.

Line 410.
P.R.—III., 204.

Line 421.
P.L.—VI., 540.


Line 3.
P.L.—VI., 200-206.

Line 4.
P.L.—VI., 305.

Line 7.
P.L.—VI., 320-323.

Line 8.
P.L.—VI., 250-253.

Line 29.
P.L.—IV., 556-557.

Line 43.
P.L.—VI., 44-53.

Line 54.
P.L.—VI., 61-63.

Line 65.
P.L.—VI., 85-87.

Line 70.
P.L.—IV., 977-980.

Line 85-88.
P.L.—I., 533-540.

Line 94-100.
P.L.—VI., 99-110.

Line 97.
P.L.—XI., 240-241.

Line 101.
P.L.—VI., 754-755.

Line 103.
P.L.—VI., 848-849.

Line 105.
P.L.—I., 286.

Line 111.
P.L.—{I., 84-87.
{I., 588-590.

Line 114.
P.L.—V., 833-845.

Line 115.
P.L.—{I., 68-71.
{VI., 105-107.

Line 124.
P.L.—{VI., 203-219.
{VI., 546.

Line 128.
P.L.—VI., 310-315.

Line 155-161.
P.R.—IV., 18-25.

Line 164.
P.L.—VI., 200-205.

Line 195.
P.L.—IV., 1000.

Line 235.
P.L.—VI., 246-255.

Line 255.
P.L.—VI., 275-278.

Line 269.
P.L.—VI., 324.

Line 275.
P.L.—VI., 390.

Line 290.
P.L.—I., 305.

Line 308.
P.L.—{X., 449-454.
{X., 511-529.

Line 320.
P.L.—X., 510-520.

Line 328.

Line 345.
P.L.—X., 510-520.

Line 347.
P.R.—IV., 423.

Line 353.
P.L.—VI., 884-886.

Line 410.
P.L.—I., 300-310.

Line 412.

Line 416.
P.R.—I., 39-42.

Line 417.
P.L.—I., 192-195.

Line 419.
P.L.—II., 1-5.

Line 426.
P.L.—{I., 120-122.
{I., 178-189.

Line 431.
P.L.—{II., 362-375.
{III., 90-96.

Line 433.
P.L.—IX., 130-134.

Line 455.
P.L.—X., 637.

Line 448.
P.L.—XI., 500-513.

Line 457.
P.L.—I., 367-373.

Line 461.
P.L.—I., 381-390.

Line 488.
P.L.—IX., 575-581.

Line 492.
P.L.—IX., 716-732.

Line 494.
P.L.—IX., 685-687.

Line 499.
P.L.—IX., 679-683.

Line 500.
P.L.—IX., -732-743.

Line 509.
P.L.—IX., 1090-1095.

Line 519.
P.L.—{IX., 780-783.
{IX., 1000-1003.

Line 537-545.
P.L.—Last of Book IX.

Line 553.
P.L.—X., 1051-1055.

Line 560.
P.L.—X., 498-499.

Line 564.
P.L.—XII., 386.

Line 604.
P.L.—II., 595-600.

Line 604.
P.L.—I., 56-63.

Line 606.
P.L.—X., 112.

Line 616-627.—Suggestion of Paradise Regained.

Note.—(1) The word feather, line 370, Act I., is here used by Vondel in the old sense of pen.

(2) The word treason in the epode of the chorus of angels at the end of Act III. more literally means treasonable ambition.

End of Project Gutenberg's Vondel's Lucifer, by Joost van den Vondel


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