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In which a man may come to his end, whose crimes
Have roused all nature up against him- pshaw! -
Her. For mercy's sake is nobody in sight?
No traveller, peasant, herdsman?
Not a soul:
Here is a tree, raggèd, and bent, and bare,
That turns its goat's-beard flakes of pea-green moss
From the stern breathing of the rough sea-wind;
This have we, but no other company:
Commend me to the place. If a man should die
And leave his body here, it were all one
As he were twenty fathoms underground.
Her. Where is our common friend?
A ghost, methinks
The spirit of a murdered man, for instance-
Might have fine room to ramble about here,
A grand domain to squeak and gibber in.
Her. Lost man! if thou hast any close-pent guilt
Pressing upon thy heart, and this the hour
Like a mendicant,
Whom no one comes to meet, I stood alone;-
I murmured-but, remembering Him who feeds
The pelican and ostrich of the desert,
From my own threshold I looked up to Heaven
And did not want glimmerings of quiet hope.
So, from the court I passed, and down the brook,
Led by its murmur, to the ancient oak
A bold word from you!
Her. Restore him, Heaven!
I came; and when I felt its cooling shade,
The desperate wretch! A flower, I sate me down, and cannot but believe—
Fairest of all flowers, was she once, but now
While in my lap I held my little babe
They have snapped her from the stem-Poh! let her lie And clasped her to my heart, my heart that ached
Besoiled with mire, and let the houseless snail
More with delight than grief- I heard a voice
Feed on her leaves. You knew her well-ay, there, Such as by Cherith on Elijah called;
Old man! you were a very lynx, you knew
The worm was in her-
It said, "I will be with thee." A little boy, A shepherd-lad, ere yet my trance was gone, Her. Mercy! Sir, what mean you? Hailed us as if he had been sent from heaven, Mar. You have a daughter! And said with tears, that he would be our guide: Her. O, that she were here! I had a better guide- - that innocent babeShe hath an eye that sinks into all hearts, Her, who hath saved me, to this hour, from harm, And if I have in aught offended you, From cold, from hunger, penury, and death; Soon would her gentle voice make peace between us. To whom I owe the best of all the good Mar. (aside.) I do believe he weeps-I could weep
I have, or wish for, upon earth — and more
And higher far than lies within earth's bounds:
Therefore I bless her: when I think of man,
I bless her with sad spirit,-when of God,
I bless her in the fulness of my joy!
Whether too much for patience, or, like mine,
Softened till it becomes a gift of mercy.
Mar. Now, this is as it should be!
I am weak!
My daughter does not know how weak I am;
And, as thou see'st, under the arch of heaven
Here do I stand, alone, to helplessness,
By the good God, our common Father, doomed!-
But I had once a spirit and an arın
Mar. Now, for a word about your Barony:
I fancy when you left the Holy Land,
And came to- what's your title- eh? your claims
There is a vein of her voice that runs through his:
Even such a man my fancy boded forth
From the first moment that I loved the maid;
And for his sake I loved her more: these tears-
I did not think that aught was left in me
Of what I have been-yes, I thank thee, Heaven!
One happy thought has passed across my mind.
-It may not be I am cut off from man;
No more shall I be man no more shall I
Have human feelings!-(To Herbert.) — Now for a In story, what men now alive have witnessed,
Mar. The name of daughter in his mouth, he prays!
With nerves so steady, that the very flies
Sit unmolested on his staff. - Innocent!-
If he were innocent - then he would tremble
And be disturbed, as I am. (Turning aside.) I have read
About your daughter!
How, when the people's mind was wracked with doubt,
Appeal was made to the great Judge: the accused
With naked feet walked over burning ploughshares.
Here is a man by nature's hand prepared
For a like trial, but more merciful.
Troops of armed men,
Met in the roads, would bless us; little children,
Rushing along in the full tide of play,
Stood silent as we passed them! I have heard
The boisterous carman, in the miry road,
Check his loud whip and hail us with mild voice,
And speak with milder voice to his poor beasts.
Here will I leave him-here-All-seeing God!
Mar. And whither were you going?
Such as he is, and sore perplexed as I am;
Learn, young man, I will commit him to this final Ordeal!-
To fear the virtuous and reverence misery,
He heard a voice-a shepherd-lnd came to him
Why else have I been led to this bleak waste?
Bare is it, without house or track, and destitute
Of obvious shelter, as a shipless sea.
And was his guide; if once, why not again,
And in this desert? If never - then the whole
Of what he says, and looks, and does, and is,
Makes up one damning falsehood. Leave him here
To cold and hunger!- Pain is of the heart,
And what are a few throes of bodily suffering
If they can waken one pang of remorse?
[Goes up to HERBERT.
Old man! my wrath is as a flame burnt out,
It cannot be rekindled. Thou art here
Led by my hand to save thee from perdition;
Thou wilt have time to breathe and think
Mar. I know the need that all men have of mercy,
And therefore leave thee to a righteous judgment.
Her. My child, my blessed child !
No more of that;
Thou wilt have many guides if thou art innocent;
Yea, from the utmost corners of the earth,
That woman will come o'er this waste to save thee.
[He pauses and looks at HERBERT's staff.
Ha! what is here? and carved by her own hand!
[Reads upon the staff.
"I am eyes to the blind, saith the Lord.
He that puts his trust in me shall not fail!"
Yes, be it so; repent and be forgiven
God and that staff are now thy only guides.
SCENE, an eminence, a Beacon on the summit.
LACY, WALLACE, LENNOX, &c. &c.
Several of the Band. (confusedly.) But patience!
One of the Band.
Curses on that traitor,
Our Captain made a prey to foul device!-
Len. (to Wal.) His tool, the wandering beggar,
made last night
A plain confession, such as leaves no doubt,
Knowing what otherwise we know too well,
That she revealed the truth. Stand by me now;
For rather would I have a nest of vipers
Between my breast-plate and my skin, than make
Oswald my special enemy, if you
Deny me your support.
We have been fooled
But for the motive?
Natures such as his
Spin motives out of their own bowels, Lacy!
1 learned this when I was a Confessor.
I know him well; there needs no other motive
Than that most strange incontinence in crime
Which haunts this Oswald. Power is life to him
And breath and being; where he cannot govern,
He will destroy.
He recks not human law; and I have noticed
That often when the name of God is uttered,
A sudden blankness overspreads his face.
Len. Yet, reasoner as he is, his pride has built
Some uncouth superstition of its own.
Wal. I have seen traces of it.
Now, if the event Should prove as Lennox has foretold, then swear, [He leaves HERBERT on the Moor. My friends, his heart shall have as many wounds
As there are daggers here.
What need of swearing!
One of the Band. Let us away!
A third. Hark! how the horns
Of those Scotch Rovers echo through the vale.
Lacy. Stay you behind; and when the sun is down,
Light up this beacon.
One of the Band. You shall be obeyed.
[They go out together.
To have been trapped like moles! -
Yes, you are right, we need not hunt for motives:
There is no crime from which this man would shrink;
Once he headed
A band of Pirates in the Norway seas;
And when the King of Denmark summoned him
To the oath of fealty, I well remember,
'Twas a strange answer that he made; he said,
"I hold of Spirits, and the Sun in heaven."
Lacy. He is no madman.
A most subtle doctor
Were that man, who could draw the line that parts
Pride and her daughter, Cruelty, from Madness,
That should be scourged, not pitied. Restless minds,
Such minds as find amid their fellow men
No heart that loves them, none that they can love,
Will turn perforce and seek for sympathy
In dim relation to imagined beings.
One of the Band. What if he mean to offer up our
An expiation and a sacrifice
To those infernal fiends!
Osw. Nay, then—I am mistaken. There's a weak- Ill names, can render no ill services,
In recompense for what themselves required.
So meet extremes in this mysterious world,
And opposites thus melt into each other.
Mar. Time, since man first drew breath, has never
With such a weight upon his wings as now;
About you still; you talk of solitude
I am your friend.
What need of this assurance
At any time? and why given now?
You are now in truth my master; you have taught me But they will soon be lightened.
What there is not another living man
Had strength to teach;-and therefore gratitude
Is bold, and would relieve itself by praise.
Mar. Wherefore press this on me?
Because I feel
That you have shown, and by a signal instance,
How they who would be just must seek the rule
By diving for it into their own bosoms.
To-day you have thrown off a tyranny
That lives but in the torpid acquiescence
Of our emasculated souls, the tyranny
Of the world's masters, with the musty rules
By which they uphold their craft from age to age:
You have obeyed the only law that sense
Submits to recognise; the immediate law,
From the clear light of circumstances, flashed
Upon an independent intellect.
Henceforth new prospects open on your path;
Your faculties should grow with the demand;
I still will be your friend, will cleave to you
Through good and evil, obloquy and scorn
Oft as they dare to follow on your steps.
Mar. I would be left alone.
I know your motives!
I am not of the world's presumptuous judges,
Who damn where they can neither see nor feel,
With a hard-hearted ignorance; your struggles
I witnessed, and now hail your victory.
Mar. Spare me awhile that greeting
It may be,
That some there are, squeamish half-thinking cowards,
Who will turn pale upon you, call you murderer,
And you will walk in solitude among them.
A mighty evil for a strong-built mind!—
Join twenty tapers of unequal height
And light them joined, and you will see the less
How 't will burn down the taller; and they all
Shall prey upon the tallest. Solitude!
The eagle lives in solitude!
Ay, look up-
Cast round your mind's eye, and you will learn
Fortitude is the child of Enterprise:
Great actions move our admiration, chiefly
Because they carry in themselves an earnest
That we can suffer greatly.
As time advances either we become
The prey or masters of our own past deeds.
Fellowship we must have, willing or no;
And if good Angels fail, slack in their duty,
Substitutes, turn our faces where we may,
Are still forthcoming; some which, though they bear
Osw. Action is transitory—a step, a blow,
The motion of a muscle-this way or that-
"T is done, and in the after-vacancy
We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
And shares the nature of infinity.
Mar. Truth-and I feel it.
Eternal farewell to unmingled joy
And the light dancing of the thoughtless heart;
It is the toy of fools, and little fit
For such a world as this. The wise abjure
All thoughts whose idle composition lives
In the entire forgetfulness of pain.
-I see I have disturbed you.
By no means
Osw. Compassion!-pity! - pride can do without
And what if you should never know them more! -
He is a puny soul who, feeling pain,
Finds ease because another feels it too.
If e'er I open out this heart of mine
It shall be for a nobler end-to teach
And not to purchase puling sympathy.
- Nay, you are pale.
It may be so.
It cannot live with thought; think on, think on,
And it will die. What! in this universe,
Where the least things control the greatest, where
The faintest breath that breathes can move a world;
What! feel remorse, where, if a cat had sneezed,
A leaf had fallen, the thing had never been
Whose very shadow gnaws us to the vitals.
Mar. Now, whither are you wandering? That a man
So used to suit his language to the time,
The sparrow so on the house-top, and I,
The weakest of God's creatures, stand resolved
To abide the issue of my act, alone.
Osw. Now would you? and for ever? - My young Should thus so widely differ from himself—
It is most strange.
Murder what's in the word!
I have no cases by me ready made
To fit all deeds. Carry him to the camp!-
A shallow project;-you of late have seen
More deeply, taught us that the institutes
Of nature, by a cunning usurpation
Banished from human intercourse, exist
Only in our relations to the brutes
That make the fields their dwelling. If a snake
Crawl from beneath our feet we do not ask
A license to destroy him: our good governors
Hedge in the life of every pest and plague
That bears the shape of man; and for what purpose,
But to protect themselves from extirpation?
This flimsy barrier you have overlea ped.
Mar. My office is fulfilled the man is now
Delivered to the Judge of all things.
Mar. I have borne my burthen to its destined end.
Osw. This instant we'll return to our companions-
O, how I long to see their faces again!
Enter IDONEA, with Pilgrims who continue their journey.
Ere I can shed a tear.
Mar. (exullingly.) She is innocent.
I should make wondrous revolution.here;
It were a quaint experiment to show
The beauty of truth-
This is a happy day. My father soon
Shall sun himself before his native doors;
The lame, the hungry, will be welcome there.
No more shall he complain of wasted strength,
Of thoughts that fail, and a decaying heart;
His good works will be balm and life to him.
Mar. This is most strange!-I know not what it was,
But there was something which most plainly said,
Idon. (after some time.) What, Marmaduke! now That thou wert innocent.
thou art mine for ever.
And Oswald, too! (To MARMADUKE.) On will we to O, heavens! you've been deceived.
With the glad tidings which this day hath brought;
We'll go together, and such proof received
Of his own rights restored, his gratitude
To God above will make him feel for ours.
Osw. I interrupt you
Think not so.
Mar. Idonea, Tha: I should ever live to see this moment!
Idon. Forgive me.-Oswald knows it all-he knows Each word of that unhappy letter fell
As a blood drop from my heart.
"T was even so.
Mar. I have much to say, but for whose ear?
Idon. Ill can I bear that look-Plead for me, Oswald !
You are my father's friend.
Alas, you know not,
And never can you know, how much he loved me.
Twice had he been to me a father, twice
Had given me breath, and was I not to be
His daughter, once his daughter? could I withstand
His pleading face, and feel his clasping arms,
And hear his prayer that I would not forsake him
In his old age-
[Hides her face.
Mar. Patience Heaven grant me patience!
She weeps, she weeps-my brain shall burn for
I was a woman;
And, balancing the hopes that are the dearest
To womankind with duty to my father,
I yielded up those precious hopes, which nought
On earth could else have wrested from me,-if erring,
O, let me be forgiven!
I do forgive thee.
Idon. But take me to your arms. this breast, alas!
It throbs, and you have a heart that does not feel it.
I shall have business with you, Marmaduke;
Follow me to the hostel.
[He embraces her Were I a moralist,
[Addressing them I see I interrupt you;
To bring perdition on the universe.
Idon. Already I've been punished to the height
Of my offence.
I see you love me still,
The labours of my hand are still your joy;
of the hour when on your shoulder
I hung this belt.
[Pointing to the belt on which was suspended
Mercy of Heaven!
What ails you! [Distractedly.
Mar. The scrip that held his food, and I forgot
not To give it back again!
What mean your words?
Mar. I know not what I said—all may be well.
Idon. That smile hath life in it!
This road is perilous;
I will attend you to a hut that stands
Near the wood's edge-rest there to-night, I pray you:
For me, I have business, as you heard, with Oswald,
But will return to you by break of day.
SCENE, A desolate prospect a ridge of rocks — a
Chapel on the summit of one—.
- Moon behind the
rocks-night stormy — irregular sound of a bell –
HERBERT enters exhausted.
Her. That chapel-bell in mercy seemed to guide me,
But now it mocks my steps: its fitful stroke
Can scarcely be the work of human hands.
Hear me, ye men, upon the cliffs, if such
There be who pray nightly before the Altar.
O, that I had but strength to reach the place!
My child-my child-dark-dark-I faint-this wind-
These stifling blasts God help me!
Eld. Better this bare rock, Though it were tottering over a man's head, Than a tight case of dungeon walls for shelter From such rough dealing.
Trees creaking in the wind (but none are here)
Send forth such noises-and that weary bell!
Surely some evil spirit abroad to-night
Is ringing it 't would stop a saint in prayer,
And that what is it? never was sound so like
A human groan. Ha! what is here? Poor man —
Murdered! alas! speak-speak, I am your friend:
No answer-hush-lost wretch, he lifts his hand
And lays it to his heart-(Kneels to him.) I pray you
[A moaning voice is heard. Ha! what sound is that?
What has befallen you?
Her. (feebly.) A stranger has done this, And in the arms of a stranger I must die. Eld. Nay, think not so: come, let me raise you up: [Raises him.
This is a dismal place — well — that is wellI was too fearful- take me for your guide And your support - my hut is not far off.
SCENE, a room in the Hostel - MARMADUKE and OSWALD.
[Draws him gently off the stage.
Mar. But for Idonea! I have cause to think That she is innocent.
Osw. Leave that thought awhile, As one of those beliefs which in their hearts Lovers lock up as pearls, though oft no better Than feathers clinging to their points of passion. This day's event has laid on me the duty Of opening out my story; you must hear it, And without further preface. In my youth, Except for that abatement which is paid By envy as a tribute to desert,
was the pleasure of all hearts, the darling
Of every tongue-
as you are now.
That I embarked for Syria. On our voyage
Was hatched among the crew a foul conspiracy
Against my honour, in the which our captain
Was, I believed, prime agent. The wind fell;
We lay becalmed week after week, until
The water of the vessel was exhausted;
I felt a double fever in my veins,
Yet rage suppressed itself; — to a deep stillness
Did my pride tame my pride; -for many days,
On a dead sea under a burning sky,
I brooded o'er my injuries, deserted
By man and nature;- if a breeze had blown,
It might have found its way into my heart,
And I had been no matter
Mar. Quick-to the point-if any untold crime Doth haunt your memory.
Patience, hear me further!-
One day in silence did we drift at noon
By a bare rock, narrow, and white, and bare;
No food was there, no drink, no grass, no shade,
No tree, nor jutting eminence, nor form
Inanimate large as the body of man,
Nor any living thing whose lot of life
Might stretch beyond the measure of one moon.
To dig for water on the spot, the captain
Landed with a small troop, myself being one:
There I reproached him with his treachery.
Imperious at all times, his temper rose;
He struck me; and that instant had I killed him,
And put an end to his insolence, but my comrades
Rushed in between us; then did I insist
(All hated him, and I was stung to madness)
That we should leave him there, alive! — we did so.
Mar. And he was famished?
Methinks I see it now-how in the sun
Its stony surface glittered like a shield;
And in that miserable place we left him,
Alone but for a swarm of minute creatures
Not one of which could help him while alive,
Or mourn him dead.
Mar. A man by men cast off, Left without burial! nay, not dead nor dying, But standing, walking, stretching forth his arms, In all things like ourselves, but in the agony With which he called for mercy; and even soHe was forsaken?
Osw. There is a power in sounds: The cries he uttered might have stopped the boat That bore us through the water
Mar. You returned Upon that dismal hearing-did you not?
Osw. Some scoffed at him with hellish mockery, And laughed so loud it seemed that the smooth sea Did from some distant region echo us.
Mar. We all are of one blood, our veins are filled At the same poisonous fountain!
'T was an island
Only by sufferance of the winds and waves,
Which with their foam could cover it at will.
I know not how he perished; but the calm,
The same dead calm continued many days.
Mar. But his own crime had brought on him this
His wickedness prepared it; these expedients
Are terrible, yet ours is not the fault.
Osw. The man was famished, and was innocent!
The man had never wronged me.
Mar. Banish the thought, crush it, and be at peace.
His guilt was marked these things could never be
Were there not eyes that see, and for good ends,
Where ours are baffled.