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'T was a foolish question.
Mar. But when you were an outcast? - Heaven is
Your piety would not miss its due reward;
The little orphan then would be your succour,
And do good service, though she knew it not.
Her. I turned me from the dwellings of my fathers,
Where none but those who trampled on my rights
Seemed to remember me. To the wide world
I bore her, in my arms; her looks won pity;
She was my raven in the wilderness,
And brought me food. Have I not cause to love her?
Her. More than ever parent loved a child?
Mar. Yes, yes.
I will not murmur, merciful God!
I will not murmur; blasted as I have been,
Thou hast left me ears to hear my daughter's voice,
And arms to fold her to my heart. Submissively
Thee I adore, and find my rest in faith.
Osw. Herbert! confusion! (aside.) Here it is,
[Presents the Horn.
A charming beverage for you to carouse,
This bitter night.
Ha! Oswald! ten bright crosses
I would have given, not many minutes gone,
To have heard your voice.
Your couch, I fear, good Baron,
Has been but comfortless; and yet that place,
When the tempestuous wind first drove us hither,
Felt warm as a wren's nest. You'd better turn
And under covert rest till break of day,
Or till the storm abate.
(TO MARMADUKE aside.) He has restored you.
No doubt you have been nobly entertained?
But soft! how came he forth? The night-mare con-
Has driven him out of harbour?
Did not admit of stronger evidence;
Twelve honest men, plain men, would set us right;
Their verdict would abolish these weak scruples.
Mar. Weak! I am weak-there does my torment lie, Feeding itself.
Verily, when he said
How his old heart would leap to hear her steps,
You thought his voice the echo of Idonea's.
Mar. And never heard a sound so terrible.
Osw. Perchance you think so now?
I cannot do it:
Twice did I spring to grasp his withered throat,
When such a sudden weakness fell upon me,
I could have dropped asleep upon his breast.
Osw. Justice- is there not thunder in the word?
Shall it be law to stab the petty robber
Who aims but at our purse; and shall this Parricide-
Worse is he far, far worse (if foul dishonour
Be worse than death) to that confiding creature
Whom he to more than filial love and duty
Hath falsely trained — shall he fulfil his purpose?
But you are fallen.
Fallen should I be indeed-
Murder - perhaps asleep, blind, old, alone,
Betrayed, in darkness! Here to strike the blow-
[Flings away his sword.
Nay, I have done with you:
We'll lead him to the convent. He shall live,
And she shall love him. With unquestioned title
He shall be seated in his barony,
And we too chant the praise of his good deeds.
I now perceive we do mistake our inasters,
And most despise the men who best can teach us.
Henceforth it shall be said that bad men only
Are brave: Clifford is brave; and that old man
[Taking MARMADUKE's sword and giving it to him.
To Clifford's arms he would have led
His victim- haply to this desolate house.
Mar. (advancing to the dungeon.) It must be
You have guessed right.
Softly; do not rouse him;
The trees renew their murmur: He will deny it to the last.
Come, let us house together.
Within the vault, a spear's length to the left.
[OSWALD conducts him to the dungeon.
[MARMADUKE descends to the dungeon.
Had I not
(Alone.) The villains rose in mutiny to destroy me;
Esteemed you worthy to conduct the affair
I could have quelled the cowards, but this stripling
To its most fit conclusion, do you think
Must needs step in, and save my life. The look
With which he gave the boon - I see it now!
The same that tempted me to loathe the gift.-
For this old venerable grey-beard — faith
"Tis his own fault if he hath got a face
Which doth play tricks with them that look on it:
"T was this that put it in my thoughts that counte-
I would so long have struggled with my nature,
And smothered all that's man in me?— away!-
[Looking towards the dungeon.
This man's the property of him who best
Can feel his crimes. I have resigned a privilege;
It now becomes my duty to resume it.
Mar. Touch not a finger-
What then must be done?
Mar. Which way soe'er I turn, I am perplexed.
Osw. Now, on my life, I grieve for you. The misery
Of doubt is insupportable. Pity, the facts
His staff-his figure-murder!-what, of whom}
We kill a worn-out horse, and who but women
Sigh at the deed? Hew down a withered tree,
And none look grave but dotards. He may live
With aspect so inviting.
To share your triumph?
Is he not eyeless?
These fifteen years-
(Recognises her.) Heavens! my good friend! [To her.
Forgive me, gracious Sir!-
Osw. (to her companions.) Begone, ye slaves, or
will raise a whirlwind
And send ye dancing to the clouds, like leaves.
Enter female Beggar with two or three of her com- You a protector of humanity!
Avenger you of outraged innocence!
(Turning abruptly.) Ha! speak-what thing art
Mar. "T was dark-dark as the grave; yet did I see,
Saw him- his face turned toward me; and I tell thee
Idonea's filial countenance was there
To baffle me-it put me to my prayers.
Upwards I cast my eyes, and, through a crevice,
Beheld a star twinkling above my head,
And, by the living God, I could not do it.
Osw. (to himself.) Now may I perish if this turn
[They retire affrighted. Beg. Indeed we meant no harm; we lodge sometimes In this deserted castle- I repent me. [OSWALD goes to the dungeon-listens-Than make me change my course. returns to the Beggar. (To MARMADUKE.) Dear Marmaduke, Osw. Woman, thou hast a helpless infant-keep My words were rashly spoken; I recal them: Thy secret for its sake, or verily I feel my error; shedding blood That wretched life of thine shall be the forfeit. Beg. I do repent me, Sir; I fear the curse Of that blind man. 'Twas not your money, sir
Is a most serious thing.
Not I alone,
Thou too art deep in guilt.
We have indeed
Been most presumptuous. There is guilt in this,
Else could so strong a mind have ever known
These trepidations? Plain it is that Heaven
Has marked out this foul wretch as one whose crimes
Must never come before a mortal judgment-seat,
Or be chastised by mortal instruments.
Mar. A thought that's worth a thousand worlds!
[Goes toward the dungeon.
That, in my zeal, I have caused you so much pain.
Mar. Think not of that! 't is over- we are safe.
Osw. (as if to himself, yet speaking aloud.) The
truth is hideous, but how stifle it?
[Turning to MARMADUKE.
nay, here are stones and frag
Beg. (going.) There is some wicked deed in hand: [Aside. Would I could find the old man and his daughter. [Exit Beggar.
MARMADUKE re-enters from the dungeon. Osw. It is all over then; your foolish fears Are hushed to sleep, by your own act and deed, Made quiet as he is.
Why forbid ine
Yes, her very look,
Smiling in sleep
A pretty feat of Fancy!
Mar. Though but a glimpse, it sent me to my prayers.
Osw. Is he alive?
What mean you? who alive?
Osw. Herbert! since you will have it, Baron Herbert;
He who will gain his Seignory when Idonea
Hath become Clifford's harlot is he living?
Mar. The old man in that dungeon is alive.
Osw. Henceforth, then, will I never in camp or field
Obey you more. Your weakness, to the Band,
Shall be proclaimed: brave men, they all shall hear it.
Why came you down?
And when I felt your hand upon my arm
And spake to you, why did you give no answer?
Feared you to waken him? he must have been
In a deep sleep. I whispered to him thrice.
There are the strangest echoes in that place!
Osw. Tut! let them gabble till the day of doom.
Mar. Scarcely, by groping, had I reached the spot,
When round my wrist I felt a cord drawn tight,
As if the blind man's dog were pulling at it.
Osw. But after that?
The features of Idonea
Lurked in his face
Psha! Never to these eyes
Will retribution show itself again
Give me your sword
The least of which would beat out a man's brains;
Or you might drive your head against that wall.
No! this is not the place to hear the tale:
It should be told you pinioned in your bed,
Or on some vast and solitary plain
Blown to you from a trumpet.
Why talk thus?
Whate'er the monster brooding in your breast
That horn again - "T What do they here? Osw.
I care not fear I have none, and cannot fear
The whole visible world
Contains not such a monster!
For this purpose
Should he resolve to taint her soul by means
What! dogged like thieves! Which bathe the limbs in sweat to think of them;
Should he, by tales which would draw tears from iron,
Work on her nature, and so turn compassion
[The sound of a horn is heard. is some one of our troop; Listen!
Enter WALLACE and LACY, &c.
Lacy. You are found at last, thanks to the vagrant And gratitude to ministers of vice,
And make the spotless spirit of filial love
Prime mover in a plot to damn his victim
For not misleading us.
Osw. (looking at WALLACE.) That subtle grey- Both soul and body
I'd rather see my father's ghost.
Lacy. (to MARMADUKE.)
We come by order of the band.
You have not heard that Henry has at last
Dissolved the Barons' League, and sent abroad
His Sheriffs with fit force to reinstate
The genuine owners of such lands and baronies
As, in these long commotions have been seized.
His power is this way tending. It befits us
To stand upon our guard, and with our swords
Defend the innocent.
Lacy! we look
But at the surfaces of things; we hear
Of towns in flames, fields ravaged, young and old
Driven out in troops to want and nakedness;
Then grasp our swords and rush upon a cure
That flatters us, because it asks not thought:
The deeper malady is better hid;
The world is poisoned at the heart.
What mean you?
Wal. (whose eye has been fixed suspiciously upon
OSWALD.) Ay, what is it you mean?
Harkee, my friends;
Were there a man who, being weak and helpless
And most forlorn, should bribe a mother, pressed
By penury to yield him up her daughter,
A little infant, and instruct the babe,
Prattling upon his knee, to call him father-
"T is too horrible;
Oswald, what say you to it?
And fling him to the ravens.
Hew him down,
But his aspect
It is so meek, his countenance so venerable.
Wal. (with an appearance of mistrust.) But how,
what say you, Oswald?
Lacy. (at the same moment.) Stab him, were it Before the altar.
What, if he were sick,
Tottering upon the very verge of life,
And old, and blind
Blind, say you?
Osw. (coming forward.)
Are we men,
Or own we baby spirits? Genuine courage
Is not an accidental quality,
A thing dependent for its casual birth
On opposition and impediment.
Wisdom, if Justice speak the word, beats down
The giant's strength; and, at the voice of Justice,
Spares not the worm. The giant and the worm
She weighs them in one scale. The wiles of woman,
And craft of age, seducing reason, first
Made weakness a protection, and obscured
The moral shapes of things. His tender cries
And helpless innocence - do they protect
The infant lamb? and shall the infirmities,
Which have enabled this enormous culprit
To perpetrate his crimes, serve as a sanctuary
To cover him from punishment? Shame! - Justice,
Admitting no resistance, bends alike
But now no longer mine. You know Lord Clifford;
He is the man to whom the maiden — pure
SCENE, a desolate Moor.
Osw. Carry him to the camp! Yes, to the camp.
O, Wisdom! a most wise resolve! and then,
That half a word should blow it to the winds!
This last device must end my work. - Methinks
It were a pleasant pastime to construct
A scale and table of belief-as thus-
Two columns, one for passion, one for proof;
Each rises as the other falls: and first,
Passion a unit and against us—proof —
Nay, we must travel in another path,
Or we're stuck fast for ever;- passion then,
Shall be a unit for us; proof-no, passion!
We'll not insult thy majesty by time,
Person, and place the where, the when, the how,
And all particulars that dull brains require
To constitute the spiritless shape of Fact,
They bow to, calling the idol, Demonstration.
A whipping to the moralists who preach
That misery is a sacred thing: for me,
I know no cheaper engine to degrade a man,
Nor any half so sure. This stripling's mind
Is shaken till the dregs float on the surface;
And, in the storm and anguish of the heart,
He talks of a transition in his soul
"Tis nobly thought;
His death will be a monument for ages.
Mar. (to LACY.) I thank you for that hint. He shall And dreams that he is happy. We dissect
The senseless body, and why not the mind?—
Before the camp, and would that best and wisest
Of every country might be present. There,
His crime shall be proclaimed; and for the rest
It shall be done as wisdom shall decide:
Meanwhile, do you two hasten back and see
That all is well prepared.
As beautiful, and gentle and benign,
And in her ample heart loving even me
Was to be yielded up.
Now, by the head
Of my own child, this man must die; my hand,
A worthier wanting, shall itself entwine
In his grey hairs!
Mur. (to LACY.)
I love the father in thee. You know me, friends; I have a heart to feel, And I have felt, more than perhaps becomes me Or duty sanctions.
We will have ample justice.
Who are we, friends? Do we not live on ground
Where souls are self-defended, free to grow
Like mountain oaks rocked by the stormy wind.
Mark the Almighty Wisdom, which decreed
This monstrous crime to be laid open- - here
Where reason has an eye that she can use,
And men alone are umpires. To the camp
He shall be led, and there, the country round
All gathered to the spot, in open day
Shall nature be avenged.
Wal. We will obey you. (Aside.) But softly! we must look a little nearer. Mar. Tell where you found us. At some future time
I will explain the cause.
SCENE, the door of the Hostel, a group of Pilgrims as before; IDONEA and the Host among them.
These are strange sights — the mind of man upturned,
Is in all natures a strange spectacle;
In some a hideous one-hem! shall I stop?
No. Thoughts and feelings will sink deep, but then
They have no substance. Pass but a few minutes,
And something shall be done which memory
May touch, whene'er her vassals are at work.
Of which I heard them speak, but that I fancy
Has been forgotten.
Idon. (to Host.) Farewell!
St. Cuthbert speed you on your holy errand.
[Exeunt IDONEA and Pilgrims.
Host. Lady, you'll find your father at the convent
As I have told you: He left us yesterday
With two companions;, one of them, as seemed,
When I returned with water from the brook,
I overheard the villains-every word
Like red-hot iron burnt into my heart.
Said one, "It is agreed on. The blind man
His most familiar friend. (Going.) There was a Shall feign a sudden illness, and the girl,
Who on her journey must proceed alone,
Under pretence of violence, be seized.
She is," continued the detested slave,
"She is right willing-strange if she were not!--
They say, Lord Clifford is a savage man;
But, faith, to see him in his silken tunic.
Fitting his low voice to the minstrel's harp,
That such a one,
So pious in demeanour! in his look
So saintly and so pure! Hark'ee, my friend,
I'll plant myself before Lord Clifford's castle,
A surly mastiff kennels at the gate,
And he shall howl and I will laugh, a medley
There's witchery in 't. I never knew a maid
That could withstand it. True," continued he,
"When we arranged the affair, she wept a little
(Not the less welcome to my lord for that)
And said, My father he will have it so.""
Mar. I am your hearer.
This I caught, and more
That may not be retold to any ear.
The obstinate bolt of a small iron door
Detained them near the gateway of the castle.
By a dim lanterp's light I saw that wreaths
Of flowers were in their hands, as if designed
For festive decoration; and they said,
With brutal laughter and most foul allusion,
That they should share the banquet with their lord
And his new favourite.
would be disturbed by this dire news,
And therefore chose this solitary moor,
Here to impart the tale, of which, last night,
I strove to ease my mind, when our two comrades,
Commissioned by the band, burst in upon us.
Mar. Last night, when moved to lift the avenging steel,
I did believe all things were shadows - yea,
Living or dead all things were bodiless,
Or but the mutual mockeries of body,
Till that same star summoned me back again.
Now I could laugh till my ribs ached. O, fool!
To let a creed, built in the heart of things,
Dissolve before a twinkling atom!— Oswald,
I could fetch lessons out of wiser schools
Than you have entered, were it worth the pains.
Young as I am I might go forth a teacher,
And you should see how deeply I could reason
Of love in all its shapes, beginnings, ends;
Of moral qualities in their diverse aspects;
Of actions, and their laws and tendencies.
Osw. You take it as it merits.
General or cham, sultan or emperor,
Strews twenty acres of good meadow-ground
With carcases, in lineament and shape
And substance, nothing differing from his own,
But that they cannot stand up of themselves;
Another sits i' th' sun, and by the hour
Floats kingcups in the brook - - a hero one
We call, and scorn the other as Time's spendthrift;
But have they not a world of common ground
To occupy-both fools, or wise alike,
Each in his way?
Troth, I begin to think so. Mar. Now for the corner-stone of my philosophy: I would not give a denier for the man Who, on such provocation as this earth Yields, could not chuck his babe beneath the chin, And send it with a fillip to its grave.
Osw. Nay, you leave me behind.
Mar. (aside-looking at HERBERT.) And I have loved this man! and she hath loved him! And I loved her, and she loves the Lord Clifford ! And there it ends; if this be not enough To make mankind merry for evermore, Then plain it is as day, that eyes were made For a wise purpose — verily to weep with! [Looking round.
That's excellent! So, you bethought you of the many ways
A pretty prospect this, a masterpiece
Of Nature, finished with most curious skill!
(TO HERBERT.) Good Baron, have you ever practised
Pray tell me what this land is worth by the acre?
Her. How glad I am to hear your voice! I know
Wherein I have offended you; - last night
I found in you the kindest of protectors;
This morning, when I spoke of weariness,
You from my shoulder took my scrip and threw it
About your own; but for these two hours past
Once only have you spoken, when the lark
Whirred from among the fern beneath our feet,
And I, no coward in my better days,
Was alınost terrified.