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(title page) Poems: Descriptive, Dramatic, Legendary and Contemplative, by William Gilmore Simms, Esq. In Two Volumes: Vol. I. I. Norman Maurice, a Tragedy; II. Atalantis, a Tale of the Sea; III. Tales and Traditions of the South; IV. The City of the Silent
(spine) Simms' Poetical Works Vol. I
William Gilmore Simms, Esq. , 348 p., ill.
Call number PS2845 .P6 (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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[Signed] Very faithfully yr
W. Gilmore Simms
[Title Page Image]
[Title Page Verso Image]
|ROBERT WARREN,||his kinsman and enemy.|
|RICHARD OSBORNE,||an attorney and creature of Warren.|
|HARRY MATTHEWS,||a friend of Warren.|
|COL. BLASINGHAME,||a fire-eater.|
|BEN FERGUSON,||a leading politician.|
|COL. MERCER,||Politicians of opposite party.|
|MAJOR SAVAGE,||a friend of Blasinghame.|
|CAPT. CATESBY, U. S. A.,||friend of Maurice.|
|Citizens, Lawyers, &c.|
|MRS. JERVAS,||a widow.|
|CLARICE DELANCY,||her niece, afterwards wife to Maurice.|
|WIDOW PRESSLEY,||a client of Maurice|
|KATE PRESSLEY,||her grand-daughter.|
|BIDDY,||a servant girl.|
SCENE--First, in Philadelphia; afterwards, in Missouri.
A parlor in the house of Mrs. Jervas, in Walnut-street, Philadelphia. Mrs. Jervas and Robert Warren discovered--the latter entering hastily and with discomposure.
It is not well! 'Tis ill! She has refused me!
Has she then dared?
Ay, has she! Something farther--
She does not scruple to avow her passion
For my most worthy cousin, Norman Maurice.
She shall repent it--she shall disavow it,
Or she shall know!--I'll teach her!--
She's a pupil
With will enough of her own to vex a master!
I have a will too, which shall master her!
Is she not mine?--my sister's child?--a beggar,
That breathes but by my charity! I'll teach her,
And she shall learn the lesson set for her,
Or I will turn her naked into the streets,
As pennyless as she came. But, wait and see,--
You shall behold--
Nay, wait till I am gone,
Then use your best severity. She needs it--
Has no sufficient notion of her duty,
But you must make her wiser.
I've treated her too tenderly!
But show her
Some little glimpse of the danger in her path,--
Shame and starvation--
She deserves them both.
And keep my worthy cousin from her presence.
He darks these doors no more! The girl, already,
Has orders to deny him.
You've done wisely.
A little time,--but keep them separate,--
And we shall conquer her;--ay, conquer him too,
For I've a little snare within whose meshes
His feet are sure to fall.
Be ignorant of the mischief till it's over,
And we enjoy its fruits! Meanwhile, be busy,--
Pursue the plan you purpose, and to-morrow,
We shall know farther. I shall use the moments,
'Twixt this and then, in labors which must profit,
Or fortune grows perverse. See you to her,
While I take care of him.
Oh, never fear me--
I'll summon her the moment you are gone,
And she shall know--
That you may summon her--
For we must lose no time--I take my leave.
The pert and insolent baggage! But I'll teach her!
I'll let her know from whose benevolent hand
She eats the bread of charity--whose mercy
It is, that clothes her nakedness with warmth.
[Rings. Enter Biddy.
[Ex. Biddy.]A beggar,
Ay, you would dare me in another fashion,
But you have met your match; and now I tell you,
Clarice Delancy, 'tis in vain you struggle--
What have I done?
Oh! you are ignorant,
And innocent seeming as the babe unborn,
If tongue and face could speak for secret conscience,
That harbors what it should not. So, you dare
Avow a passion for that beggarly Maurice,
Whom I've forbid the house!
Ay, indeed! forbid!
In what has he offended?
His poverty offends me--his presumption.
He has the audacity to think of you
In marriage--he would heir my property;--
The miserable beggar! who, but lately--
And, if the humble Clarice might presume,
There were no fitter husband! From the Fates
I do entreat no happier destiny
Than but to share, o'er all that wealth may proffer,
The beggary that he brings!
But you shall never!
I am your guardian, in the place of mother,
And I will turn you naked from these doors
If you but dare--
Ah! that were guardianship,
Becoming the dear sister of a mother,
Who, when she left her hapless child to earth,
Ne'er dream'd of such remembrance, in the future,
Of what beseem'd the past. I've anger'd you,
But cannot chide myself, because my nature
Does not revolt at homage of a being
In whom no virtue starves. Suppose him poor!
Wealth makes no certain happiness to hope,
Nor poverty its loss. In Norman Maurice
I see a nobleness that still atones for
The lowly fortunes that offend your pride.
None richer lives in rarest qualities,--
More precious to the soul that feeds on worth,
Than all your city glitter. Do you think
To win me from a feast of such delights,
To the poor fare on common things that make
The wealth of Robert Warren? Madam--my aunt,--
I thank you for the bounty you have shown me!
It had been precious o'er most earthly things,
But that it hath its price, at perilous cost
To things more precious still. Your charity,
That found a shelter for this humble person,
Were all too costly, if it claims in turn
This poor heart's sacrifice. I cannot make it!
I will not wed this Warren,--for I know him--
And, if it be that I shall ever wed,
Will wed with Norman Maurice--as a man,
Whom most it glads me that I also know.
Never shall you wed with him while I have power
To keep you from such folly. You're an infant,
That knows not what is needful for your safety,
Or precious for your heart. Be ruled by me,
Or forth you pack. I cut you off forever,
From fortune as from favor.
Sooner than bonds like these!
And this is the return for all my bounty?
But you shall not achieve your own destruction,
If I can help it. This Maurice never darkens
My dwelling with his shadow. He hath made you
Perverse and disobedient--but he shall not
Thrive by your ruin. See that you prepare
To marry Robert Warren.
With the grave first!--
Its cold and silence, and its crawling things,
Loathsome, that make us shudder but to think on,
Sooner than he!--a base, unworthy creature,
Who steals between his kinsman and the friend,
That gave him highest trust and held him faithful,
To rob him of the treasure he most values.
The reptile that keeps empire in the grave
Sooner than he, shall glide into this bosom,
And make it all his own.
Silence, I say!--
Before I madden with your insolence,
And lose the memory of that sainted sister
That left you in my trust.
My poor, dear mother!
She never dream'd of this, in that dark hour
That lost me to her own!
I'm in her place,
To sway your foolish fancies with a prudence
You will not know yourself. Once more I tell you,
You wed with Warren--Robert Warren, only!
[noise without]Ha! That noise?--
[in the hall without.]
'Tis Maurice now.
The insolent! will he dare!
[in the hall without.]
[Entering the room.]Madam--
Was ever insolence--
This conduct, sir--
Would be without its plea at common seasons,--
And he whose purpose was a morning visit,
The simply social object of the idler,
Who finds in his own time and company
The very worst offence, could offer nothing,
To plead for his intrusion on that presence,
Which, so politely, shuts the door against him.
But I am none of these.
What plea, sir?--
Some natures have their privilege--some passions
Demand a hearing. There are rights of feeling,
That art can never stifle--griefs, affections,
That never hear the civil "Not at home!"
When home itself is perill'd by submission.
He's but a haggard that obeys the check,
When all that's precious to his stake of life
Is fasten'd on the string. Necessity
Makes bold to ope the door which fashion's portress
Would bolt and bar against him. 'Tis my fate,
That prompts me to a rudeness, which my nurture
Would else have shrunk from. But that I have rights
Which move me to defiance of all custom,
I had not vex'd your presence.
Ay, madam, the most precious to the mortal!
Rights of the heart, which make the heart immortal
In those affections which still show to earth,
The only glimpses we have left of Eden.
Behold in her,
[pointing to Clarice,]my best apology--
[Takes her hand.]
Can you ask?
Too much, I say. Let go her hand,
And leave this dwelling, sir! I'm mistress here;
And shall take measures for security
Against this lawless insolence.
You are the mistress here;--I will obey you;--
Will leave your presence, madam, never more
To trouble you with mine. You now deny me
The privilege, that never act of mine
Hath properly made forfeit. You behold me
The suitor to your niece. You hear her language,--
How different from your own--that, with its bounty
Makes rich my heart with all the gifts in hers!
Sternly, you wrest authority from judgment,
To exercise a will that puts to scorn
Her hopes no less than mine! I would have pleaded
Your calm return to judgment;--would entreat you
To thoughts of better favor, that might sanction,
With the sweet blessing of maternal love,
The mutual passion living in our hearts;
But that I know how profitless the pleading,
Which, in the ear of prejudice, would soften
The incorrigible wax that deafens pride.
I plead not for indulgence--will not argue
The cruelty that finds in charity
Commission for that matchless tyranny
That claims the right to break the orphan's heart
Because it finds her bread.
[aside to Norman.]
[aside to Clarice.]
[aside to Maurice.]
[to Mrs. J.]
Must needs have utterance in such lowly tones,
As best declare the condition of the heart,
That's muffled for despair. But a few moments
We'll walk apart together.
It is useless!
What need of sorrow ever! Could earth speak,
Prescribing laws to that Divinity,
That still smites rock to water, we should hear,
The universal voice of that one plea,
That claims for man immunity from troubles
Which make proud eyes o'erflow. Who should persuade
His fellow to opinion of the uses
That follow from his tears? What school, or teacher,
Would seek to show that chemistry had art,
To fix and harden the dilating drops
To brilliants as they fall,--such as no crown
In Europe might affect? One finds no succor,
Sovereign to break the chain about his wrist,
From all the fountains that o'ersluice the heart;
Yet will he weep, though useless. He who stands,
Waiting upon the scaffold for the signal,
That flings him down the abyss, still hoards each minute
That niggard fate allows. That single minute
Still shrines a hope;--if not a hope, a feeling,
That finds a something precious even in pain,
And will not lose the anxiety that racks him,
Lest he make forfeit of a something better
Which yet he cannot name. And, at the last,
I, whom you doom to loss of more than life,
May well implore the respite of a moment,
If but to suffer me to count once more,
The treasure that I lose. A moment, madam?
[walks up the stage.]
Oh! you are gracious!
A single moment is a boundless blessing
To him you rob of time! Clarice, my love.
Oh! is it thus, my Clarice--is it thus?
We have been children, Norman, in our dreams
We are the sport of fate!
And shall be ever,
If that there be no courage in our hearts
To shape the fates to favor by our will.
What mean you, Norman
What should Norman mean,
But, if he can, to grapple with his fortune,
And, like a sturdy wrestler in the ring,
Throw heart and hope into the perilous struggle?
What should I mean but happiness for thee,--
Thou willing, as myself? Who strives with fate,
Must still, like him, the mighty Macedonian,
Seize the coy priestess by the wrist, and lead her
Where yet she would not go! Suppose me faithful
To the sweet passion I have tender'd you,
And what remains in this necessity,
But that, made resolute by grim denial,
I challenge from your love sufficient courage,
To take the risks of mine!
Within your eye
A meaning more significant than your words,
Would teach me still to tremble. That I love you,
You doubt not, Norman! That my heart hath courage
To match the love it feels for you--
It hath--it hath!
If that the love be there, as I believe it,
That love will bring, to nourish needful strength,
A virtue that makes love a thing of soul,
And arms its will with wings. Oh! read you not,
Who chides the executioner when he suffers
The victim his last words--though still he lingers
Ere he would reach the last? But a few moments,
And I have spoken all that my full heart
Might not contain with safety.
[retiring up the stage.]
You hear, my Clarice. We've another moment:
But one, it seems, unless your resolution
Takes its complexion from the fate that threatens
And shows an equal will. If then, in truth,
You love me--
Oh! look not thus!
I doubt not;--
And yet, dear Clarice, if indeed you love me,
The single moment that this woman gives us,
Becomes a life;--to me, of happiness,--
To thee, as full of happiness as thou
Might hope to gain from me. She would deny us,--
Would wed thee to that subtle Robert Warren--
I'll perish first!
No need of perishing
When I can bring thee to security.
I knew thy straits--the tyranny which thou suffer'st
Because of thy dependence; and my struggle,
Since this conviction reached me--day and night--
Was, that I might from this condition snatch thee,
And, in thy happier fortunes, find mine own!
I have prepared for this.
What would'st thou, Norman?
I soon shall follow them.
She would spare me,
The argument which shows thee what is needful.
Speak! I have courage equal to my love!
I try thee though I doubt not! If thou lov'st m [illegible]
Thou'lt yield, without a question, to my purpose,
And give me all thy trust.
Will I not, Norman?
Then, with the night, I make thee mine, Clarice!
Steal forth at evening. There shall be a carriage,
And my good hostess, whom thou know'st, in waiting.
Our future home is ready.
Let me think, Norman.
That's as your excellent aunt, who now approaches,
May please:--but, surely, when to my fond pleading
You sweetly vow'd yourself as mine alone,
The proper thought that sanctions my entreaty
Was all complete and perfect.
But Norman, how--
How should I, in your poverty, encumber
Your cares with a new burden?
There is no poverty,
Which the true courage, and the bold endeavor,
The honest purpose, the enduring heart,
Crowned with a love that blesses while it burdens,
May not defy in such a land as ours!
We'll have but few wants having one another!--
And for these wants, some dawning smiles of fortune
Already have prepared me. Trust me, Clarice,
I will not take thee to a worse condition,
In one whose charities shall never peril
The affections they should foster.
Yes, yes--most excellent madam--yes--again!
There's but a single syllable between us,
Your niece hath left unspoken.--My Clarice!
And now I live again!
Well, sir--art done at last?
Done! Ay, madam--done!
You've held me narrowly to a strict account--
And yet, I thank you. You've been merciful
After a fashion which invokes no justice,
And yet may find it, madam. Yet--I thank you!
The word is said that's needful to our parting;
And that I do not in despair depart,
Is due to these last moments. Fare you well!
Be you as safe, henceforth, from all instrusion,
As you shall be from mine. Clarice--farewell!
In earnest of those pleasant bonds hereafter,
That none shall dare gainsay. Clarice--Remember!
Go, Norman, and believe me.
Get you in!
A Lawyer's office in Philadelphia. Richard Osborne at a desk writing. Enter Robert Warren. WARREN, [eagerly.] OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN, [examining papers.] OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. [Exeunt. Evening: Chestnut-street. Enter Maurice with Clarice. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [They enter the house of Maurice. The parlor of a dwelling in the residence of Maurice, handsomely and newly furnished. Enter Warren and Osborne. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. [touching his breast.] Enter Norman Maurice. MAURICE. [To Osborne. OSBORNE. [Giving copy of document. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE, [impatiently to Warren.] [to Osborne,] OSBORNE. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [To Osborne.] [putting it in the fire, and placing his foot on it while it burns. WARREN. MAURICE. [To Osborne. WARREN. MAURICE. [To Osborne.] [Exit Osborne: Warren is about to follow when Maurice lays his hand on his shoulder. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. Enter Clarice from within. WARREN. [Warren rushes out. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Clarice going. [musingly.] CLARICE. [returning.] MAURICE. [embracing her. [Exit Clarice. [Exit within. END OF ACT FIRST. Scene: Missouri. A room in the cottage of Norman Maurice. Enter Maurice and Clarice. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Knock without. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. Enter Widow Pressley and Kate. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. [kissing the child.] KATE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. [Enter Col. Mercer and Brooks. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. [gives letter. MERCER. BROOKS. [they read. MAURICE. MERCER. [reads aloud.] MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. BROOKS. MAURICE. The law office of Richard Osborne. Osborne discovered writing. Enter Warren. WARREN. OSBORNE. [reading.] WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. [Exit Warren. OSBORNE. [Exit Osborne. The house of Mrs. Jervas in Walnut-street. Enter Mrs. J. and Robert Warren. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. [Exit Warren. MRS. J. [Exit. The hall in the cottage of Norman Maurice. Time--midnight. Enter Maurice in night-gown, as just started from his couch. His hair dishevelled--his manner wild and agitated--his whole appearance that of a man painfully excited and distressed. MAURICE. [Enter Clarice. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Dashing the vase to pieces. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [He folds his arm about her, and they leave the apartment, he still looking behind him suspiciously--she looking up to him. The edge of a wood. A cottage in the distance. Enter Robert Warren, Osborne, and Harry Matthews. The former disguised with false hair, whiskers, &c. MATTHEWS. [pointing to cottage.] WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. [aside to W.] WARREN. [aside to O.] OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. [Exit Warren. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. [Exeunt. The interior of the cottage of Norman Maurice. A table spread as if supper were just concluded. Maurice and Clarice discovered seated. Maurice balances a spoon upon the cup. Clarice watches him. CLARICE. MAURICE, [pushing away the cup.] CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Knock at the door--he starts. [Whispers. CLARICE. [Goes toward the door. MAURICE, [interposing.] [Aloud.] Voice without. MAURICE, [throwing open the door.] Enter Robert Warren as before, with valise in his hand. WARREN. MAURICE. [Maurice points her to the supper table. She turns and leaves the room,--Warren follows her with his eye, while that of Maurice observes him. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [His brow slightly contracts.] WARREN. MAURICE, [coldly.] WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [Catches the eye of Warren, which suddenly drops at the encounter. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [To Clarice, who reënters.] CLARICE. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE, [with a smile.] CLARICE. WARREN. [smiles.] MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE, [aside.] WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN, [quickly.] MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [Laying his hand on Warren's shoulder, and eyeing him closely. WARREN, [shrinking and stammering.] MAURICE, [flinging him away and rising.] WARREN. CLARICE, [seizing his arm.] MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. WARREN. [Snatches a knife from the table.] MAURICE. CLARICE, [interposing.] MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE, [hurling the table over.] CLARICE. WARREN. MAURICE. CLARICE, [interposing.] MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. [showing pistol.] MAURICE. [Rushes upon him and wrests the weapon from his hand. WARREN. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Takes Warren by the throat. WARREN. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. WARREN. CLARICE. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. WARREN. MAURICE. [Hurls him out headlong. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Embrace. Ex. Clarice within. MAURICE. [Looks out. [Goes forth. END OF ACT SECOND. A chamber in the dwelling of Harry Matthews, in St. Lo [illegible] Robert Warren and Richard Osborne discovered. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. Enter Harry Matthews. MATTHEWS. WARREN. MATTHEWS, [to Osborne.] OSBORNE. WARREN, [aside to Osborne.] OSBORNE, [aside to W.] WARREN, [aside to Osborne.] [Ex. Matthews and Warren, OSBORNE. [Ex. Osborne. An apartment in the house of Col. Ferguson. Ferguson, Blasinghame, Matthews, Warren, and persons discovered. BLASINGHAME. FERGUSON. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. BLASINGHAME. FERGUSON. BLASINGHAME. FERGUSON. BLASINGHAME. FERGUSON. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. WARREN. BLASINGHAME. WARREN. MATTHEWS. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS. WARREN. [to Blasing.,] BLASINGHAME. FERGUSON. WARREN. BLASINGHAME. MATTHEWS, [to Warren.] BLASINGHAME. WARREN, [to Matthews.] [Exeunt several ways. An apartment in the house of Norman Maurice. He appears seated at a table with books and papers before him. After a pause, he closes his books, folds and ties the papers in a bundle, pushes them from before him and rises. MAURICE, [solus.] [Enter servant. SERVANT. MAURICE. [Enter Savage SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE, [laughs.] MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. [Gives challenge. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE. SAVAGE. [Shakes hands. MAURICE. [Exit Savage. [tap within. [Opens to her, she enters. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [Knock without. Enter Cols. Mercer and Brooks. [Clarice curtsies as they bow, and is about to retire. MERCER. BROOKS. CLARICE. MAURICE. MERCER. MERCER. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. BROOKS. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. BROOKS. MAURICE. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. BROOKS. MERCER. [Exeunt Mercer and Brooks. CLARICE, [embracing him.] MAURICE. [Knock without. CLARICE. MAURICE, [opening.] Enter Widow Pressley and Kate. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. WIDOW. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. [hands him a small dagger. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. [To widow. WIDOW. MAURICE. [Aside to Clarice.] CLARICE, [aside.] MAURICE. [Aside to Clarice. [aloud.] [Exeunt. END OF ACT THIRD. A garden in the rear of the house of Norman Maurice. Walk through a thick shrubbery. Enter Robert Warren and Mrs. Jervas. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. MRS. J. WARREN. [They retire behind the copse. Enter Clarice. CLARICE. WARREN, [coming out behind her.] CLARICE, [seeing him and starting.] WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE, [recoiling.] WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. [Looking vacantly. WARREN. CLARICE, [aside.] [Aloud.] WARREN, [eagerly.] CLARICE. [Exit Clarice, slowly. WARREN. [Exit Warren. The porch of the Court-house of St. Louis. Norman Maurice about to enter, accompanied by the Widow Pressley and Kate, is detained by Mercer upon the threshold. MERCER. MAURICE. [Widow and child enter. MERCER. MAURICE. [going. MERCER. [Enter Catesby. CATESBY, [to Maurice.] MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. [Exeunt within. Enter Blasinghame, Savage, and others. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. [Exeunt within. Enter Ferguson with books and papers, accompanied by Warren. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. WARREN. FERGUSON. [Exit Ferguson within. WARREN. Enter Osborne. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. OSBORNE. WARREN. [Exit Warren. OSBORNE. [Scene closes. An apartment in the dwelling of Norman Maurice. Enter Clarice, reading a note. CLARICE. Open space before the Court-house of St. Louis. Groups of Lawyers and Citizens. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 3D LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. [Shouts in the porch as the people rush out of the Court-house.] 1ST CITIZEN. 2D CITIZEN. 3D CITIZEN. 2D LAWYER. 1ST LAWYER. 2D LAWYER. Enter Maurice, with widow Pressley and Kate, followed by Mercer, Brooks, Catesby, and others. Shouts. WIDOW. MAURICE. [People shout. 1ST VOICE. 2D VOICE. 3D VOICE. MAURICE, [to Mercer.] WIDOW. MAURICE. [Exeunt Widow, Kate, and Mercer. CATESBY, [whispering to Maurice.] Enter Blasinghame with others. BLASINGHAME. [Forces through the crowd, rushes upon Maurice, striking him with a stick. MAURICE. [Seizes Blasinghame by the throat, hurls him to the ground, and stands upon his neck. Shouts of the people. 1ST CITIZEN. 2D CITIZEN. 3D CITIZEN. CATESBY, [interposing.] MAURICE. [Catesby and Savage lift Blasinghame. CATESBY. BLASINGHAME. MAURICE, [confronting him.] SAVAGE, [interposing.] [To M.] MAURICE. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. [Exeunt Blasinghame and Savage. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. END OF ACT FOURTH. A chamber in the house of Col. Mercer. Norman Maurice and Catesby discovered. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. Enter Savage. SAVAGE. MAURICE. CATESBY. SAVAGE. CATESBY. SAVAGE. MAURICE. CATESBY. SAVAGE. CATESBY. MAURICE. SAVAGE. MAURICE, [giving swords.] SAVAGE. CATESBY. MAURICE. SAVAGE. [Exit Savage. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. MAURICE. CATESBY. [Exit Catesby. MAURICE. [Scene closes. The entrance of a thick wood near the dwelling of Norman Maurice. Sunset. Robert Warren discovered. WARREN. [Retires into the wood. Enter Clarice. CLARICE. WARREN, [reënters.] CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. [Aside. WARREN. CLARICE, [eagerly.] WARREN. [Takes the papers from his bosom and waves her to the wood. CLARICE. WARREN. CLARICE. WARREN. [Waving papers and retiring. CLARICE. [Following. WARREN. [Retires from sight, beckoning with the papers. CLARICE. WARREN, [within.] CLARICE. WARREN, [within.] CLARICE. WARREN, [within the wood.] CLARICE. [Exit within: a moment after a cry of agony, and then a sound as of a falling body. Reënter Clarice with papers in her hand, and garments all bloody. CLARICE. [Groan within. [Thrusts them into her bosom. [Exit wildly, looking behind her as she departs. The wood behind Baynton's meadow. Enter from opposite sides, Norman Maurice, Catesby, Surgeon; and Colonel Blasinghame Savage, Surgeon. SAVAGE. CATESBY. SAVAGE. BLASINGHAME. SAVAGE, [to Catesby.] CATESBY. [Maurice and Blasinghame confront each other. MAURICE. BLASINGHAME. MAURICE. [They fight. Maurice disarms him. BLASINGHAME. MAURICE. BLASINGHAME, [folding his arms.] MAURICE. BLASINGHAME, [tottering and turning away.] [Going. SAVAGE, [to Maurice.] [Exit Savage following Blasinghame. CATESBY. MAURICE. [Exeunt. The chamber of Richard Osborne. Enter to him Harry Matthews. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. OSBORNE. MATTHEWS. [Exit Matt. OSBORNE. [Exit. The open street. Ferguson and Matthews. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS, [smiling.] FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. [Exeunt. The interior of the City Hall of St. Louis. A raised platform in the centre. Citizens crowding about it. Chairman presiding and seated with other distinguished men. On one hand, Ferguson and others--opposite, Norman Maurice, Mercer, Brooks, &c. Norman Maurice discovered speaking. MAURICE. CHAIRMAN. MERCER. 1ST VOICE. 2D VOICE. 3D VOICE. BROOKS. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. [Pause. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. FERGUSON. VOICE WITHOUT. Enter Harry Matthews hastily, and in great agitation. MATTHEWS. [Showing dagger. MAURICE. [Seizes the dagger, looks at and drops it. [Aside.] MATTHEWS. FERGUSON. MAURICE. [To Matthews.] MATTHEWS. MAURICE. MATTHEWS. MAURICE. FERGUSON. MAURICE. MERCER. FERGUSON. CATESBY. MAURICE. FERGUSON. OSBORNE, [coming forward.] FERGUSON. OSBORNE. 1. PEOPLE SHOUT. 2. PEOPLE SHOUT. FERGUSON. MATTHEWS. [Exeunt Matthews and Ferg [illegible] PEOPLE, [with cries and hisses.] MERCER, [to Maurice.] BROOKS. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE, [with an effort.] [Osborne comes forward. OSBORNE. MAURICE. [Noise without. Enter Kate, followed by Mrs. Jervas. KATE. MAURICE. KATE. MRS. JERVAS. MAURICE, [with a cry.] [Rushes out. MERCER, [to Catesby.] BROOKS. A chamber in the house of Norman Maurice. Clarice reclines upon a couch. The widow Pressley stands at a little distance watching her. WIDOW. CLARICE. WIDOW. CLARICE. WIDOW. CLARICE. MAURICE, [without.] Enter Norman Maurice. MAURICE. [Seeing her. CLARICE. [Raises herself feebly to his arms. MAURICE. CLARICE. MAURICE. CLARICE. [Dies. MAURICE. (lays her down gently--the papers fall from her bosom. [Sinks down. [Noise and voices without.] PEOPLE. Enter Mercer, Brooks, and others. MERCER. MAURICE. MERCER. MAURICE.
THE first edition of "Atalantis" was published in 1832. It has been subsequently revised, and, I trust, amended. I am not satisfied that the dramatic
form was appropriately adopted, since it leads to expectations which
the character of the poem will scarcely satisfy. The advantage of the dialogue
consists simply in permitting that diversification of the descriptive
portions, which, in a work so purely fanciful, would seem necessary to prevent
monotony.--This poem, with those pieces which follow it, belongs to a
class, the standards of which are almost entirely imaginative. The reader
who looks here for the merely human sentiment, will find himself at fault.
The province of poetry is too various for the application of laws derived
wholly from individual tastes; and he who opens the pages of an author
must always be prepared to ascend that mount of vision from which he has
made his survey. The highest regions of the ideal, are unquestionably such
as belong to the spiritual nature. To this nature, exclusively, verse which
is solely imaginative must commend itself. It is not the less human, though
it may be more remote and foreign, than that which simply appeals to mortal
passions, and the more earthly purposes of man and life. An Islet of the Atlantic Ocean. ATALANTIS AND ONESIMARCHUS. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. [She waves her hand, and Ogré becomes visible.
ONESI. OGRE. ONESI. OGRE. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. [Ogré is led off. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. [aside.] ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. ATAL. ONESI. [Exit Onesi. ATAL.
The same. Atalantis, Nea. NEA. ATAL. ATAL. NEA. ATAL. ATAL. NEA. ATAL. NEA. ATAL. NEA. The Ocean: the islet of Onesimarchus in the background--a ship in the distance, approaching. The Zephyr-Spirit rides upon the billow. ZEPHYR-SPIRIT. [Scene changes to the deck of the ship. Count Leon musing at the side. LEON, [solus.] LEON. Enter Isabel. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. Enter Mendez Celer. MENDEZ. LEON. MEN. LEON. MEN. LEON. MEN. LEON. MEN. LEON. MEN. [Shock--the ship strikes. [Ship strikes again. LEON. MEN. [Vessel strikes heavily upon the rocks. [The master takes a leaden image from his h [broken type] and prostra [illegible] himself before it. Storm rises. LEON. MEN. [Storm increases. Ship strikes with increasing violenc [illegible] LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. LEON. ISABEL. [Shrieks. LEON. MARINER. [The vessel parts. The seamen enter the boat. Leon lifts Isabel into it. MEN. [They leave her--she goes to pieces in their sight. The Boat. MARINER. LEON. [The boat disappears. The ocean waste. ZEPHYR-SPIRIT. The same. Storm. Flight of Sea-Demons, singing. * See Dante, Inferno, Canto vii:--
The Boat. MARINER. LEON. MAR. LEON. ISABEL, [recovering.] LEON. ISABEL. MAR. [The boat strikes and goes to pieces. LEON. ISABEL, [faintly afar off.] LEON. [Scene closes. The Ocean waste. ZEPHYR-SPIRIT. The islet of Onesimarchus. Atalantis, Nea. ATAL.
Hast drawn the paper, Osborne?
It is here.
The copy this?--
And this the original.
'Tis very like! You've done it famously:
One knows not which is which; and Norman Maurice,
Himself, would struggle vainly to discover
The difference 'twixt the words himself hath written,
And these your skill hath copied to a hair.
We shall deceive him.
Why would you deceive him?
Eh! Why? It is my instinct! Are you answer'd?
I hate him! Would you have a better answer?
Why hate him when his kindness still have served you?
This very obligation which hath bound him,
And given us cruel power o'er his fortunes,--
His purse--perhaps his honor--
Is it doubtful, think you, that this fatal writing,
Made public,--will disgrace him?
An error only,--
The thoughtless sport of boyhood--wholly guiltless
Of all dishonest purpose. We have used it,--
You rather--and the profit has been ours!--
Why, if he pays the money as he proffers,
Why treasure still this paper? More--why hate him?
Let it suffice you that I have my reasons!--
And let me tell you, Osborne, that I love not
This sympathy which you show for Norman Maurice.
Beware! who goes not with me is against me!
I'm in your power, I know--
Then let your wisdom
Abate its fond pretension as my teacher!
I'm better pleased with service than tuition;
Will hold you as my ally, not my master!
I have remarked, of late, that you discover
Rare virtues in my cousin! He hath fee'd you;
Employed you as attorney in his cases--
Not more than other counsellors.
It is enough that you are mine!
Is only vigilance! Each look of favor,
Bestow'd on him I loathe, is disaffection
In him that's bound to me.
The real one,--the original--is mine;
The copy you will yield him when he pays you;--
That he will do so, now, I make no question,
Though where his money comes from is my wonder.
The case of Jones & Peters, just determined,
Brings him large fees. Another action,
The insurance case of Ferguson & Brooks,
Secures him handsome profits. Other cases,
Have lately brought him, with new reputation,
Liberal returns of money.
We'll have all!
See that you pile the costs--crowd interest--
Expense of service; tax to the uttermost
The value of your silence and forbearance--
Leave nothing you have done without full charges,
While, what has been forborne, more highly rated,
Shall sweep the remaining eagles from his pure.
What bitterness is yours!
Oh! quite ungracious,
Contrasted with the sweetness of your moods!
Once more, beware! Do as I bid you, Osborne,
Or you shall feel me. Yield him up this copy,
Which we shall see him, with delirious rapture,
Thrust in the blazing furnace,--little dreaming,
That still the damning scrawl that blasts his honor,
Lies here, in the possession of his foe!
Will nothing move you, Warren?
His funeral only,--
To follow--while above his burial place,
I show this fatal paper,--still lamenting
That one with so much talent should have falter'd,
When virtue cried "Be firm!"--Oh! I will sorrow,
So deeply o'er his sad infirmity,
That they who come to weep above his grave,
Will turn from it in scorn. But, get you ready;--
You'll sup with me; and afterwards we'll seek him.
We must look smiling then as summer flowers,
Nor show the serpent crouching in the leaves.
Thou'rt mine, my Clarice.
Wholly thine, my husband.
Now let the furies clamor as they may,
That the capricious fortune which had mock'd
Our blessings with denial, has been baffled
By the true nobleness of that human will,
Which, when the grim necessity looks worst,
Can fearlessly resolve to brave its fate.
Thou'rt mine, and all grows suppliant in my path
That lately looked defiance. We are one!--
This is our dwelling, Clarice:--let us in.
I am amazed.
'Tis certainly a change
From his old lodging-house in Cedar-street.
His run of luck hath crazed him, and he fancies
The world is in his string.
He's not far wrong!
His arguments have made a great impression;
Their subtlety and closeness, and the power
Of clear and forcible development,
Which seems most native to his faculty!
He was born an orator! With such a person--
A voice to glide from thunder into music,
A form and face so full of majesty,
Yet, with such frankness and simplicity,--
So much to please, and so commanding--
You prate as do the newspapers, with a jargon
Of wretched common-place, bestuffed with phrases,
That, weighed against the ballad of an idiot,
Would show less burden and significance.
We'll spoil his fortune--
Hark! He comes.
Be firm now!
See that you do it manfully--no halting.--
You still persist, then?
Ay! when I have him here.
Be seated, sirs.
You bring with you the paper?
It is here, sir.
And here the separate claim--the costs and charges.
'Tis well! This first!--I pay this money, sir,
In liquidation of this wretched paper,
To which my hand appears, and, for which writing,
The world, unconscious of the facts, might hold me
A most unhappy criminal. Your knowledge
Includes this person's agency--my cousin--
As still, in moments of insidious fondness,
It is his wont to call me.
Awhile, awhile, sir! we shall deal directly!--
Betrayed the agency of Robert Warren,
Which does not here appear. He made that guilty
Which in itself was innocent. These moneys,
Procured by him upon this document,
Were all by him consumed. You were his agent,
Perhaps as ignorant of his vicious deed,
As I, who am its victim. Was it so, sir?
I sold for him the bill, sir, knowing nothing,
And still believed it genuine.
He will tell you,
That, what I utter of his agency,
In this insane and inconsiderate act,
Is true as Holy Writ! Speak, Robert Warren!
I have admitted it already, Norman.
Be you the witness of his words hereafter.
Here is your money,--and I take this paper,
The proof of boyish error and misfortune,
But not of crime, in me. Thus, let it perish,
With that confiding and believing nature,
Which gave me to the power of one so base!
You cozen me no more!
And if your agent has the wit to gather
A lesson from your faithlessness to me,
You will not cozen him. Take counsel, sir,
And never trust this man!
Our business ends! Will it please you, leave us now!
Stay you! There must be other words before we part,
Not many, but most needful.
Let me pray you,
To fashion them in less offensive spirit.
Why, so I should, could I suppose one virtue,
A life to leaven a dense mass of vices,
Remain'd within your bosom. You shall listen
Though every syllable should be a sting!
'Twould not offend me greatly, Robert Warren,
If, as I brand thy baseness on thy forehead,
Thy heart, with courage born of just resentment,
Should move thee to defiance! It would glad me,
In sudden strife, to put a proper finish
To thy deep, secret, foul, hostility.
You have no reason for this cruel language.
Look on me as thou say'st the monstrous falsehood;
But lift thine eye to mine--and, if thy glance
Can brazen out the loathing in mine own,
I will forgive thee all! Thou dar'st not do it!
No reason, say'st thou?--Thou, whose arrant cunning,
Hath taken the profits of three toilsome years
To pay thy wage of sin,--and smutch'd my garments,
That else had known no stain!
Have I not
Confess'd that wrong and folly?--
When making thy confession--
So I am!
Traitor! I know thee better! Thy confession
But followed on detection! While thou mad'st it,
The busy devil, dwelling in thy heart,
Was framing other schemes of crime and hatred,
Outbraving all the past. Ev'n while my pity
Was taking thee to mercy, thou wast planning
New evil to my fortunes!
By heaven! you do me wrong.
The very angels look on thee with sorrow,
To see such virtue suffer such injustice!--
But hearken, while I paint another picture:
The fiends exulting in thy ready service,
A voluntary minister of evil,
As, with a spirit born of hell and hatred,
Thou pluck'st the flower of hope from happiness,
To plant the thorn instead.
What crime is this?
I heard thy plea for mercy! I believed thee,
And, as thou wert the child of that dear woman
Who called my mother, sister, I forgave thee,
Most glad to listen to thy deep assurance
Of shame for each sad error. So, I took thee,
Once more, to confidence--my bosom open'd,
And show'd thee, shrined within its holiest chamber,
The image of the being that I loved!--
I led thee to her--taught her to behold thee,
My friend and kinsman; and, misdoubting never,
Still saw thee bend thy footsteps to her dwelling,
Nor dream'd that to the flowers that made my Eden,
Myself had brought the serpent!
What means this?
What! Thou know'st nothing? Thou hast no conjecture
Of what the serpent sought within the garden!
Why, man, he whispered in Eve's innocent ears,
The oiliest nothings,--mingled with such slander
Of him who sought to make himself her Adam,
'Tis false!--I swear! I never did this mischief!
Liar! The oath thou tak'st is thy perdition!
Behold the evidence that proves thy blackness,
In contrast with its purity and truth!
Clarice! Come forth! My wife, sir!
Thus fled the fiend, touch'd by Ithuriel's spear,
Even from the reptile rising to the fiend,
And speeding from the Eden that his presence
Shall never trouble more. Henceforth, dear wife,
Our paradise shall still be free from taint;
A realm of sweetness unobscured by shadow,
And freshening still with flow'rs that take their beauty,
As favor'd still by thine. From this blest moment,
Our peace shall be secure!
And yet I fear,
This bold, bad man.
Bad, but not bold! Fear nothing!
I've pluck'd his sting! Thou know'st the cruel story;
I told thee all,--suppressed no syllable--
Of his perversion of a simple paper,
Wherein, in vain display of penmanship,
I gave him power for practice which he seized on,
Exposing me to ruin. In those embers,
The fatal proof lies buried. I am free;--
And in the freedom I have won from him,
And in the bondage I have sworn to thee,
I write the record of my happiness!
This day I feel triumphant as the hunter,
Who, on the wild steed that his skill hath captured,
Rifle in grasp, and bridle rein flung loose,
Darts forth upon the prairie's waste of empire,
And feels it all his own!
I share thy triumph--
Would share that waste with thee and feel no sorrow,
For all that love foregoes.
I take thy promise--
Will try thy strength, thy courage and thy heart,
As little thou hast fancied! Clarice, dear wife,
With dawn we leave this city.
And leave this city, Norman?
Dost thou fail me?
No! I am thine! My world is in thy love;
I wish no dearer dwelling-place--would ask
No sweeter realm of home! Go, where thou wilt,
I cling to thee as did the Hebrew woman
To him who had his empire in her heart.
I bless thee for this proof of thy affection!
This is the city of thy birth and mine,
But that's our native land alone which suffers
That we take root and flourish;--those alone,
Our kindred, who will gladden in our growth,
And succor till we triumph. Here, it may be,
That, after weary toil, and matchless struggle,
When strength subsides in age, they will acknowledge,
That I am worthy of my bread,--may bid me,
Look up and be an alderman or mayor!--
And this were of their favor. The near neighbors,
Who grew with us, and saw our gradual progress,
Who knew the boy, and all his sports and follies,
Have seldom faith that he will grow the man
To cast them into shadow. We'll go hence!--
Whither, dear Norman?
Whither! Dost thou ask?
Both in God's keeping, Clarice--thou in mine!
I'll tender thee as the most precious treasure,
That city ever yielded wilderness.
I know thou wilt;--but what thy means, my husband
Thou told'st me thou wast poor.
Means! I have manhood!
Youth, strength, and men say, intellect--
You have! You have!
A heart at ease, secure in its affections,
And still the soul to seek each manly struggle!
Wide is the world before me--a great people,
Spread o'er a realm, along whose verdant meadows
The sun can never set. I know this people--
Love them--would make them mine! I have ambition
To serve them in high places, and do battle
With the arch-tyrannies, in various guises,
That still from freedom pluck its panoply,
Degrade its precious rites, and, with vain shadows,
Mock the fond hopes that fasten on their words.
Could you not serve them here?
And oh! they need some saviour here, methinks!
Ay! They do need! But I am one of them,--
Sprung from themselves--have neither friends nor fortune,
And will not stoop, entreating as for favor,
When I would serve to save! They lack all faith
In him who scorns to flatter their delusions,
And lie them to self-worship. In the West,
There is a simpler and a hardier nature,
That proves men's values, not by wealth and title,
But mind and manhood. There, no ancient stocks,
Claim power from precedence. Patrician people,
That boast of virtues in their grandmothers,
Are challenged for their own. With them it answers,
If each man founds his family, and stands
The father of a race of future men!
Mere parchment, and the vain parade of title,
Lift no man into stature. Such a region
Yields all that I demand--an open field,
And freedom to all comers. So, the virtues
Flourish according to their proper nature;
And each man, as he works with will and courage,
Reaps the good fruitage proper to his claim;--
Thither, dear wife!
Thy ready answer,
Completes my triumph! Wings are at my shoulders,
And more than eagle empires woo my flight!
Yet, do I something fear,--Clarice--
Thou'rt not ambitious.
But for thee, Norman;
If that, in service at thy shrine of glory,
Thou dost not lose the love--
That, when my state is proudest, thou shalt be
The one, whom, most of all, these eyes shall look for,
This heart still follow with devoted service.
But, to thy preparations: I will follow;--
Before the dawn we shall have left this city.
His fangs are drawn!--
Yet, somehow, he is present to my thoughts,
As if he still had power. But, let him dare,
Once more to cross my path, and he shall feel
His serpent head grow flat beneath my heel.
ACT II.--SCENE I.
Oh! Norman, this is happiness.
Security in happiness. Our blossoms
Fear not the spoiler. On your cheek the roses
Declare a joyous presence in the heart,
That makes our cottage bloom.
You triumph too,
In favor as in fortune. On all sides
I hear your name reëchoed with a plaudit,
That fills my bosom with exulting raptures
I never knew before.
Ah! this is nothing,
Dear heart, to the sweet peace that crowns our dwelling,
And tells us, though the tempest growls afar,
Its thunders strike not here. The fame I covet
Is still in tribute subject to your joys;
And, these secure--you, happy in my bosom--
My pride forgets its aim! Ambition slumbers
Nor makes me once forgetful of the rapture,
That follows your embrace.
The widow Pressley.
Quick, welcome her.--Poor woman, we will save her.
I joy to hear you say so.--Come in, madam.
Welcome, dear madam; you must needs be anxious;
But still be hopeful. I have brought the action,
And doubt not, from my study of your case,
That we shall gain it--put the usurper out,
And win you back some portion of your wealth.
The truth is on our side,--the evidence
Sustains your claim most amply. We shall gain it!
Alas! sir, but the power of this bad man--
Need not be powerful here.
You know it not;--
His wealth, his violence--
Will scarce prevail.
He buys or bullies justice at his pleasure;
No lawyer here would undertake my case
Lest he should lose a friend or make a foe;
And thus, for fifteen years--
He buys not me,
And scarce will profit by an insolence,
That hopes to bully here.
Oh! sir, I tremble,
And cannot help but doubt. I know your talents;
All people speak of them,--and yet I fear!
With hopes so often lifted and defeated,
How should I dream of better fortune now?
The widow and the orphan find small favor,
In struggle with the strong and selfish man;
And this success you promise--
None may take
The sovereign accent from the lip of Fate
And say--this thing is written certainly--
But, if I err not, madam, better promise,
Of the clear dawn and the unclouded sunshine,
Ne'er waited on the night. I trust the Jury.
They have no fears to nurse, and seek no favors,
As do that class of men, the mean ambitious,
Who, for the lowly greed of appetite,
Or hungering for a state they never merit,
Cringe with a servile zeal to wealth and numbers,
And nothing show but baseness when they rise.
My faith is in the people.
Mine in you, sir.
I will deserve your confidence. This person,
Who robb'd you of your fortune, would but vainly
Attempt to bully me. I am no bully,
But something have I in my soul which strengthens
Its courage, when the insolent would dare
Usurp the rights that I am set to guard.
Be hopeful, madam. Take no care for the morrow,
Though, with the morrow, our great trial comes!
God and his angels keep the innocent,
And, in his own good season, will redress
Their many wrongs with triumph.
Sir, I thank you;--
And this poor child, the child of bitterness,
If not of wrath, shall bless you in her prayers,
That nightly seek her mother in the heavens!
Your name is Kate, they tell me--
a sweet name!
You'll pray for us to-night, Kate. With the morrow,
If my heart's hope do not deceive my heart,
Your prayers shall all be answer'd.--I'll think of her,
And of her sweet and innocent face to-morrow,
When striving with her enemy.
I'll pray, sir,
As if you were my father.
She has none, sir.
Losing or winning, daughter, still in me,
Look for a father who will cherish you.
Farewell, good sir, I have not words to thank you.
You have a heart that overflows with speech,
And swells into your eyes! No more, dear madam:
Be hopeful and be happy. [Exeunt widow and child.
We must gain it.
The proofs are clear--I cannot doubt the issue,--
And still a prescient something at my heart,
Awakes its triumph with assuring accents
That never spoke in vain. But, who are these?
We trust, sir, that you see in us your friends.
Such, since our brief acquaintance, you have seemed, sir,
And mine's a heart preferring to confide;
That still would rather suffer wrong of faith,
Than not believe in man.
You'll find us true;--
And thus it is, that, sure of our good purpose,
We come to counsel with you as a friend.
As friends, I welcome you. Be seated, sirs.
We do regard you, sir, as one to help us,--
In public matters. From our knowledge of you,
We've said among our friends, this is our man;
And, looking still to you to serve our people,
We hear with grief that you are in a peril
Whose straits, perchance, you know not.
You have brought action for the widow Pressley,
For the recovery of a large possession,
Withheld by Colonel Blasinghame--
'Tis true, sir,
You do not know this man.
I've heard of him.
But not that he is one whom men find prudent
To pass with civil aspect, nor confront
With wrath or opposition. He has power,
Such as few men possess, or dare contend with--
Has wealth in great abundance--is a person,
Most fearless and most desperate in battle,
Who better loves the conflict with his fellow
Than any gifts that peaceful life can bring;
Endow'd with giant strength and resolution,
And such a shot, from five to fifteen paces,
As still to shatter, wavering in the wind,
The slenderest wand of willow.
It were not wise to wake his enmity!
We look to you to serve our cause in Congress--
Make him your foe, and he opposes you;
His wealth--his popularity--the terrors,
His very name provokes,--all leagued against you--
You still a stranger.
Patiently, I hear;
And though I feel not like solicitude
With that you show for me, am grateful for it!
And now, sirs, let us understand each other.
I am a man who, in pursuit of duty,
Will hold no parley with that week day prudence
Which teaches still how much a virtue costs.
Of this man, Blasinghame, I've heard already,--
Even as you both describe him. It would seem,
Lest I should fail in utter ignorance,
He took a patient trouble on himself,
To school me in his virtues. Read this letter.
His hand!--his signature!
Well, gentlemen, you see it written there,
What are my dangers if I dare to venture
This widow's cause against him. Favor me,
And read the answer which has just been written.
Sir:--The suit of Pressley vs. Blasinghame will be prosecuted to conclusion, without regard to consequences, with the best strength and abilities of
It is brief, sir.
'Tis a defiance, Maurice!
'Twas meant so, gentlemen. I am a man,
Or I am nothing! This poor widow's cause,
The very insolence of this Blasinghame,
Hath made my own! I'll die for it if need be.
Art principled 'gainst the duel?
If, when my enemy takes me by the throat,
I do oppose him with an homily.
No man shall drive me from society!--
I take the laws I find of force, and use them,
For my protection and defence, as others
Employ them for assault.
You've practised then?
Never shot pistol.
You are very rash, sir!
Ay! but rashness, sir,
Becomes a virtue in a case like this;
And the brave heart, untaught in human practice,
Finds good assurance from another source
That prompts its action right. This letter's written,
And goes within the hour. Let Blasinghame
Chafe as he may, and thunder to the terror,
Of those who have no manhood in themselves;--
He thunders at these portals still in vain!
To-morrow comes the trial--after that!--
But let the future wear what look it may,
I'll find the heart to meet it--as a man!
Then you are firm?
As are the rocks,
In conflict with the sea.
We joy to find you thus!
We'll stand by you through danger to the last.
Ay, Maurice, we are with you.
Friends, your hands!--
I am not used to friendship, but I love it,
As still a precious gift, vouchsafed by heaven,
Next best to love of woman! For this danger,--
Fear nothing! we shall 'scape it! Nay, 'twill give us,
Or truth is not of God, new plumes for triumph!
We're on the track at last, Look at that letter;
It comes from our old comrade, Harry Matthews,
And tells us miracles of Norman Maurice!--
Our worthy cousin has the run of fortune;--
She seems to crown him with her richest favors,
As some old bawd, grown hackney'd in the market,
Adopts a virgin passion in her dotage,
And yields to her late folly, all the profits
That follow'd the old vice. He's growing finely;
But I shall dock his feathers.
Ay, in St. Louis, that great western city,
Our worthy cousin, Norman, has grown famous!
You read what Matthews writes. In one short twelvemonth
He springs above all shoulders.
I look'd for it!
He's not the man whom fortune can keep under.
What! you forget our precious document?
You will not use it now?
Ah, will I not then?
If ever useful, now's the right time for it!
See you not that he rises like an eagle,
Already is in practice with the ablest,
Wins popular favor without working for it,
And stands i' the way of better politicians?
They fit his name to music for bad singers,
To whom none listen save at suffrage time.--
We'll spoil the song for him.
What would you do?
You are dull, Dick Osborne! Have I yet to tell you
That, over all, conspicuous in my hate,
This minion of Fortune stands. His better luck
Hath robb'd me of the prize which most I treasured--
His better genius trampled mine to dust,--
Humbled my pride when at its height, and crush'd me,
Until I learn'd to loathe myself, as being
So feeble in his grasp.
He crushes you no longer!
Can I forget the past? This memory
Becomes a part of the nature o' the man,
And of his future makes a fearful aspect,
Unless he cures its hurts. My path is where
My enemy treads in triumph! I shall seek it,
And 'twill be hard if hate, well leagued with cunning,
Is baffled of his toil. I seek St. Louis!
Beware! You'll make him desperate!
I hope so!
It brings its perils with it! Norman Maurice Will rend his hunter!--
If he be not wary!
But, fear you nothing. You shall go with me,
And see how deftly, with what happy art,
I shall prepare the meshes for my captive.
Me! go with you?--and wherefore?
A small matter!--
While I shall drive the nail, you'll clinch the rivet.
I'd have you there to prove this document!
Spare me this, Warren!
I can spare you nothing.
I do not hate this man! He hath not wrong'd me,
Cross'd not my path, nor, with a better fortune,
Won from me aught I cherish'd.
Me hath he robb'd and wrong'd--me hath he cross'd--
His better fortune still a fate to mine!--
My injury is yours! You love me, Osborne,--
Will do the thing that I regard as needful,
The more especially as you have secrets,
No less than Norman Maurice. We shall go,
Together, as I fancy, to St. Louis!
This is mere tyranny, Warren.
Very like it!
Guilt ever finds its tyrant in its secret,
And, twinn'd with every crime, the accuser stands,
Its own grim shadow, with the scourge and torture.
A dark and damnable truth! Would I had perish'd
Ere I had fallen, and follow'd, as you bade me!
Spare the vain toil to cheat a troubled conscience,
And to your preparations. By the morrow,
We'll be upon the road.
But, for these papers?
Confound the papers! They will wait for us,
But opportunity never! Get you ready,
And hush all vain excuses. If my sway
Be somewhat tyrannous, still it hath its profits:--
Be you but true, and from the Egyptian spoil,
There shall be still sufficient for your toil.
I'm chain'd to the stake! He hath me in his power!--
How truly hath he pictured my estate!--
Thus he who doth a deed of ill in youth,
Raises a ghost no seventy years can lay!
I must submit; yet, following still his lead,
Pray Providence for rescue, ere too late:--
'Tis Providence, alone, may baffle Fate!
Art sure of what you tell me?
Never doubt it!--
Matthews, who writes me, is an ancient friend
Who knows this Maurice well. He sees him often,
Though it would seem that Maurice knows not him.
His rising fortunes favor you! 'Twere well
You sought your niece. You are her kinswoman,--
The nearest,--and the loss of all your fortune,
By failure of the bank--
But Maurice likes me not!
Natural enough! You still opposed his passion;
But things are alter'd now. You've but to show him
'Twas for your niece's good, in your best judgment,
That you denied his suit. But, go to her;--
He's doing well--is popular--grows wealthy;
And now that Fortune looks with smiles on him,
He well may smile on you! You'll live with them,
And we shall meet there.
Did I not love her?
And should he die?--Should accident, or--
I see! I see!
You are my friend, and you will show her--
Ah! trust me, Robert Warren--
We understand each other. You will go,--
Her only kinswoman--to seek her out.
You have but her in the world! Say you have err'd;
It was because you loved her that you strove,
'Gainst one, who, whatsoe'er his worth and talent,
Was not o'erbless'd by Fortune! He may frown,
But cannot well deny you; and, for Clarice--
She will not, sure, repel her mother's sister.
I'll go! I need the succor of my kindred.
We'll meet then; but you must not know me there!
'Tis not my policy to vex my rival,
Provoke suspicion, move his jealousy,
Or startle her by any bold renewal,
Of pleadings late denied. Should you discover
That he who, in their presence, stands before you,
Is other than he seems, you will know nothing;
Since that may spoil your game as well as mine.
You are a deep one!
When I have your counsel!
This Maurice thought but humbly of your judgment.
He knew you not as I do. He was blinded
By his own proud conceit and arrogance,
And held himself an oracle. 'Twere wise
If still you suffer'd him to fancy thus--
Check'd him in nothing--never counsell'd him--
For still I know he holds your wisdom cheaply,
And scorns the experience which might rise against
His own assured opinion. Such a person
Needs but sufficient cord--
And he shall have it!
I'll seek your counsel soon, and you shall teach me
What is our proper action. You will find me
More ready to confide in your experience,
Than him whose cunning seem'd to baffle it.
Farewell then, madam, till we meet again.
Farewell, sir! A most excellent young man!
This Maurice shall not carry it at will,--
He scorns me,--does he? He shall feel me still!
That I should be unmann'd! That a mere dream,
The blear and frightful aspects of a vision,
Should rouse me to such terror,--shake my soul
From the strong moorings of a steadfast will,
And drive it, a mere wreck, upon the seas,
No hand upon the helm! Ah! my Clarice.
I would thou had'st not seen me thus, Clarice.
What means this terror--wherefore did you cry?
Surely I did not.
Yes, a terrible shriek,
As one who rushes desperate on his foe!
No mortal foe has ever from my lips,
Sleeping or waking, forced acknowledgment,
That humbles me like this--
What dost thou mean?
What answer shall I make to thee?--
How tell thee, my Clarice, 'twas a mere dream,
That filled me with that agonizing fear,
Whose shriek thou heard'st. Yet, such a dream, my wife,
As still pursues me with its hideous forms,
And shakes me yet with terror. That a man,
Conscious of strength and will, with conscience free,
Should, in a mere disorder of his blood,
In midnight sleep, feel all his soul unsinew'd,
And sink into the coward!
Thou art none!
Yet such a vision--and methinks I see!--
Hist,--is there nothing crawling by the hearth,
Crouching and winding, and with serpent folds,
Preparing its dread venom?
There is nothing, husband--
The hearth holds only the small jar of flowers.
The reptile ever seeks such crouching place,
And garbs his spotty hide with heedless blossoms,
That know not what they harbor. Fling it hence!
'Twas on the hearth it crouch'd. But, hear me, wife;
That dream! 'Twas of a serpent on our hearth,
Thou heedless, with thy hand upon the flowers,
Disposing them for show. Unseen and soft--
It wound about thee its insidious coil,
And, at the moment when I first beheld,
Its brazen head was lifted, its sharp fang
Was darting at thy heart! 'Twas then I shriek'd
And rush'd upon the monster thus, and smote!--
Heedless of every sting, I trampled it;
But, even as it writhed beneath my heel,
Methought, it lifted up a human face
That look'd like Robert Warren!
What a dream!
I cannot shake it off. Did'st hear a sound Most like a hiss?
Nay, nay! 'twas but a dream!
Come--come to bed.
Why should I dream of him?
You think of him, perchance.
And, as a reptile!
The terrible image still before me crawls--
Oh! that I might, with but a bound and struggle,
Though still at life's worst peril, trample him!
There are instincts of the soul,
That have a deep and true significance,
And, though no more in danger from his malice,
I feel within me that he works unsleeping,
In venomous toils against me.
But, in vain.
Come, Norman, come to bed. You frighten me.
Forgive me! There! I have thee at my lips,
I strain thee to my bosom with a joy
That leaves no rapture wanting--yet, methinks,
I hear a sound of hissing, and still see
Glimpses of folding serpents that, behind,
Crawl after us--
I grieve thee!
I will forget this vision in the blessing
This grasp makes real to rapture. Let us in.
Look!--you may see it now!
There, then, he harbors?
A goodly cottage--he's a man of taste,
Not yet too old for sentiment, it seems;
Loves flowers and shade trees, and around his porches
I fancy that we see some gadding tendrils,
That wanton, with full censers, in his homage!
He should be happy there!
Why, so he is.
You think so?
There's every thing to make him so. He's young--
Is on the road to fortune and to fame,
And has a handsome wife.
The landscape's fair,--
Looks bright beneath the sunshine and exhales
A thousand delicate odors rich in life;
But, sometimes, there's a tempest in the night,
And where's your landscape then?
Be this his case,
It shall not cost me one poor hour of sleep,
For all the coil it makes. This man's our foe,--
Goes with our enemies in polities,
And will, though now he knows it not himself,
Be run, against our crack man, for the Senate.
'Tis only when the man's a favorite,
We take the formal handle from his name
And sing it short for sweetness.
Is he able?
We thought him so till this your Maurice came;--
Since then our favorite loses in the race.
Ben is a lawyer in first practice here
And had the field to himself since I have known him,
Maurice and he have grappled then?
To Ferguson's defeat.
Before the jury?
Ay, every way--before the judge and jury,--
In court and out of court. At public meetings
They were in opposite ranks, and, with each issue,
Maurice hath risen still in popular favor,
While Ferguson declines. It will rejoice us,
If, as you say, you have some history
To floor this powerful foe!
You need not doubt it.
But who are friends to Maurice, here,--the people?
Were it the people only, it were nothing.
They have not yet arisen to self-esteem,
And, kept full fed on vanity, are heedless,
Hugging their shadows, how they lose the substance.
Here, all their sympathies are held by others;
Men of much wealth and some ability,
Who, gladly, in this Maurice find an ally,
And join with him to use him. There's a party
Who long have lacked a leader. Norman Maurice
Brings them the head they seek. He guides their councils,
And, with such prudent skill and policy,
That still they fancy he is but their mouth-piece,
Even while he gives the breath of life to them.
I know that they will run him for the Senate.
Can they elect him?
It is somewhat doubtful.
They never yet succeeded with their man,
Not having had the man to make success.
What they can do for him is not the question,
So much as what he may achieve for them.
I tell you, though not fearful for the issue,
It makes us something anxious. Now,--this secret--
If it be true, indeed, that,--
Be you ready;--
I'll see your friends to-morrow. We'll sleep on it.
To-night, I'll fathom Maurice if I can,
And see how he enjoys his Western life.
Enough! I have him in my power! To-morrow!--
But what's the secret?
It will keep till then.
Be sure, that when your game is to be play'd--
When Norman Maurice, at the height of favor,
Waits but the will to rise up Senator--
A single word shall damn him down to ruin,
And stifle every voice that shouts his name.
Yet, once more, Warren, ere it be too late,
Let me entreat and counsel--
You are doting!
Go you with Matthews, and, should I be missing,
You both can tell whither my steps were bent,
And what my power upon him.
This danger,--for you too must see the danger,--
To feed this foolish malice?
Is it foolish?--
Not when the profit's yours, the pleasure mine;--
And I, if fortune mocks me not with fancies,
Shall find a pleasure in the game I play at,
That you may never dream of! Be you easy--
There's little danger! I've securities
'Gainst him in you, and in his secret fears,
Not less than in the policy I use;
Besides, my habit, does it not disguise me?
He has the eye of an eagle!
His genius--you yourself confess it, Warren--
Hath always, when the final issue came,
Soar'd over you triumphant!
Oh! Good night.
We'll meet again to-morrow!
He'll pay for it!
He runs on ruin!
Not his own, methinks!
His own, though now it seems not. I've an instinct
That tells me Maurice cannot be o'erthrown.
Baffled he may be;--you may torture him--
Deny him his just place and high position,
One or more seasons; but he'll rise at last,
So firmly, that the very hands that struggle
To tear him from his throne, will help to build it.
There are some men to whom the fates decree
Performance,--and this man is one of them!
What was his prospect when I knew him first?
He had no friends,--he had no fellowships,
No heedful care of parents--no tuition;--
He stood alone i' the world--unknown, unhonor'd--
Nay, something hated, as I hap to know,
For that he had some innate qualities,
Of pride, of strength, of soul and character,
That would not let him stoop! In spite of all,
He hath struggled through the strife and the obstruction;
Won friends; won homage; high position won;
And still hath grown, the more erect and noble,
At each assault upon his pride and fortune!
I feel that he must triumph!
You speak well,
The promise of our enemy! You differ,
Somewhat, from Robert Warren; yet, you know
Ay--as Warren's; and I know,
The rise of Maurice is his overthrow!
You muse, my husband.
'Tis with happiness!
Know you, Clarice, that fifteen months have pass'd
Since we were married?
Is it possible!
I had not thought it!
Time is wing'd with pleasure,
When that the heart, reposing where it loves,
Finds strength for fresher love in faith secure!
The world would seem to smile on me at last!
'Till we were wedded, such had been my fortune,
I question'd still the sunshine when it came;
And, in its sudden and capricious beauty,
Still dreaded something sinister and hostile.
But now I feel secure! With you beside me,
A fair, free world before me, and employment,
Grateful at once to intellect and feeling,
Affording thought due exercise for triumph,
Methinks, I have from fate a guaranty,
That she foregoes at last her ancient grudges;
And, it may be, despising our ambition,
Thus easily satisfied with love and quiet,
Turns her sharp arrows on some nobler victim,
Whose young audacity offends her pride!
Sure, Clarice, this is happiness.
It is more!
Such happiness as well might task the fancy,
To wing with words of sweetest poesy.
Then sing for me. I'm in the mood for music;
My heart is glad; my thoughts would wander freely;
Commercing with the indistinct, but sweet.
Nay, Norman, nay: I'm selfish in my gladness;
You sing not; but a something more than music
Swells in the verse that gathers on your lips;--
And this reminds me of the little ballad
You promised me,--once half recited me,
And fain would have me think your heart conceived it
When first it grew to mine!
And I said truly!
Thoughts passing fair had floated through my fancy--
Thoughts born of warmest tastes and pure affections,
Which yet had found no name! I had strange visions
Of grace and feminine beauty, such as never
The world had shown me living. Then I met thee,
And, on the instant, did they take thy image;--
And thus I first knew how, and whom, to love!
These fancies did I body forth in verses,
As one records a vision of the midnight,
That fills his soul with marvels; and the hour,
That brought me first acquainted with thy beauties,
Taught me what name to write above my record,
Which, until then, had none.
Norman--was it mine?
Thine, only, my beloved one!
Now, the verses,
In thy best manner, Norman.
What! repeat them?--
Wouldst ruin me, Clarice, in public favor;
Sap my distinction, lose me my profession,
Draw down the vulgar laughter on my head,
And make grave senators and learned statesmen
Shake reverend brows in sorrow at my folly?
Nay, you mock me now?
Wouldst have a lawyer,--
Subtle, and stern, and disputatious, still,--
Full of retorts and strange philosophies;
Whose dreams by night are of the close encounter
With rival wits and wary adversaries,--
Whose thoughts by day are still upon indictments,
Flaws, fees, exceptions, old authorities,
And worldly arguments, and stubborn juries,--
And all the thousand small details that gather,
Like strings about the giant Gulliver,
Dragging and fettering down to lowly earth
The upsoaring mind that else might scale the heavens!--
Wouldst have him in the vagrancy of fancy,
Possess his soul with spells of poesy;
Having no fear that, lurking at his threshold,
His neighbor Jones or Jenkins, Smith or Thompson,
Some round and fat, but most suspicious client,
Bringing great fees,--his heart upon his action,--
Seeking the sourest aspect in his lawyer,--
Stands, rooted, with strange horror, as he listens
To most ridiculous rhymes, and talk of flowers,
Moonbeams, and zephyrs--all that staple sweetness,
That makes the fancies of young thoughtless bosoms;--
When most he hoped to hear of Chose in action,
Trespass, assumpsit, action on the case,
And other phrases, silly as the rhymester's,--
But that they sound in money, not in music!
No! No!--no poesy! 'Twere loss of client!
Nay, Norman, but you jest now! Speak the verses,
If need be, in low accents.
Lest Jones or Jenkins
Should turn about, possess'd with holy horror,
And seek some other lawyer! You shall have them!
They are yours, Clarice, for, truly, they embody
What still meseem'd the virtues of your nature;--
Tastes, sweet and delicate as evening glories
That tend upon the passage of the day,
And, twinn'd with gleam and shadows, through the twilight,
Betoken, as it were, the unknown beauties,
That make a happier future in the far.
You describe the verses!
It needs I should!
They take a mystic tone and character,
And ask the key-note. You will hardly like them:
Thoughtful, not lyrical, nor passionate,
They need that you should pause upon each accent,
Or they will lose their due significance!
But, next to the grave folly of such doing,
Is the grave preface that still pleads for it.
You lead me erring, Clarice, to these trifles--
You, and the exulting feeling at my heart,
That deems this happiness sure!--Ha! That knock!
Methinks it hath a meaning! A sharp instinct
Tells me that evil at our threshold lurks.
Evil, my husband! Let me open it!
You, Clarice! You mistake me.--
There's an instinct,
That, though it speaks of evil, hath no fear!--
Pardon me this intrusion, but I'm wearied,--
I've travell'd far,--the last seven miles afoot,
Having lost my horse by the way.
You're welcome, sir,
To our poor fare, and shelter of our dwelling
'Till you recover. Clarice, see to it.
I thank you, sir.
Meanwhile, sit down and rest.
Give me your burden. 'Twill require some minutes
To get your supper, make your chamber ready;
'Till then, forget your travel.
You are kind!
How far, sir, are we from St. Louis, here?
Four miles only.
You, perhaps, can tell me
Something of persons living in St. Louis;
I'm a collector from an Eastern city,
And have a claim upon one Harry Matthews.
Or Henry Matthews: is he good, sir?
It may be, sir; I know not!
You know the man?
I have seen him often, sir, but know him [illegible]
The house I represent has had suspicions;--
A Philadelphia house.
A famous city, sir; but you have seen it?
I know it well, sir.
Ah! you've travell'd thither?
Have lived there, sir; and, now I think of it,
It may be you can answer me of persons,
Whom once I knew there;--there was Mrs. Jervas--
A widow, sir, who lived in Walnut-street?
I've heard of her. She lost her fortune lately
By failure of the bank.
And has left the city,
'Twas said, to seek her kindred in the West.
Hear you that, Clarice?
Is it possible?
It cannot be she means--
Perhaps. 'Tis like.
She has a niece and nephew in the West--
'Twas so reported--who have sent for her,
They being very wealthy, she in want.
She has no nephew living, sir.
Ah! you know her, then?
She is this lady's aunt, sir;
And, it may be, this excellent Mrs. Jervas
Comes hither to her niece, who is my wife, sir.
I suppose, that, as the husband of the one,
I may be held a nephew to the other;
And loving, too, makes kindred. Well, Clarice,
You'll make the good lady welcome if she comes,
Which, now, I scarcely question.--Tell me, sir,
Of other persons in that goodly city;--
There was a mute, I knew, one Nicholas Foster,
Whom much I fancied--
A rare machinist,
Though few conceived his talent.
Yet, you knew it!
He's well as ever.
Sully, the master-painter,
A pure, good man, whose exquisite art endows
The beauty with a charm beyond her own,
Caught from his delicate fancy.
He's still famous.
I would you could say fortunate as famous,
As still his art deserves.--I know not why,
But these inquiries sadden me, and yet--
There was one Richard Osborne--
A most obscure one, though of certain merits,
Who might have been distinguish'd, having powers
To raise him into something high and worthy,
But for his evil genius--
Ah! sir! He?--
Were you a student--an anatomist
Of character--instead of a collector;--
Yet would I hear, sir.
He, sir, I mean,
Were one whom it were well to analyze,
Did one design a new philosophy,
And sought in strange anomalies to embrace
The opposite things in nature. Fancy a creature,
Having the external attributes of man,--
The capacious brow--the clear, transparent eye--
The form erect--the voice most musical--
Quick talent, ready art, and specious language,
And something winning in his natural manner,
Beguiling still the unwary to belief--
Yet, as if made in mock of heaven's own purpose,
Having, in place of heart, a nest of vipers;
Whose secret venom, mastering all his powers,
Taints ever his performance--makes his doings,
When most they favor virtue, tend to vice--
Corrupts the word he utters, makes him false,
When most the truth should be his policy,--
And keeps him ever lothely in pursuit
Of purposes most loathsome. Know you, sir,
One Robert Warren?
Me, sir--Warren? No!
Liar and reptile, as thou still hast been,
'Twere thousand times more hopeful to endow
The serpent with the nature of the dove,
To graft the fruit of Eden on the tree,
That, with its bitter, blights the Dead Sea shore--
Appease the tiger's thirst--the leopard's spots
Pluck from his side, and bind him with a straw--
Than change the designing devil at thy heart!
What mean you, sir?
Oh! Norman, wherefore this?
What! See you not? Hath sense of happiness
So totally obscured the sense of wrong,
That memory lacks each faculty, and nature,
Losing the subtle instinct which still counsels
The innocent of his peril, stoops to wanton
With the fang'd viper in his villainous coil.
The dream! the dream! my Clarice. Get thee hence!
Leave me to deal with him. Away!
What! do his looks not answer as the reptile's,
That speak his subtle snare and silent venom!
Doth not his coward crouching show his nature,
As now I stretch the arm of vengeance o'er him?
Must I confer a name upon the victim,
Even in the moment when I strike the blow,
Lest, in their ignorant blindness, men should fancy
This were a kinsman whom in wrath I slew!
Is justice only--
What! See'st not still!
I see! I know!--and yet--
And yet, and yet, and yet! is the child's wisdom!
Shall we not be secure--never find refuge!
Shall hate pursue, and vengeance turn not on him!
Must we be driven from each world of peace,
To burrow with the hill fox and the wolf,
When but a stroke is needful--
Oh! thou must not:
He shares our hospitality--our shelter!
He hath not touch'd the bread and sacred salt,
He shall not claim the Arab's privilege,--
For my sake, Norman, spare him!
Let him go hence; the past is over now.
She counsels wisely, Norman. Lift no hand
Against me, for I come to you in peace.
In peace! In peace! And wherefore this disguise?
Thy fraudulent tale of travel--this false semblance,
False hair, false speech--unless with heart and purpose
False as of old! Didst think, that I, who knew thee,
By such damn'd treachery as thou still hast shown me,
Could be deceived by wretched arts like these?--
My blindness and my confidence so perfect,
That I should sleep and dream, while at my pillow
Thou crep'st at midnight, from the hearth that warm'd thee,
To fasten on my heart! Thou com'st, an outlaw!--
What hinders that I slay thee?--that I take thee,
Thus, by the throat, and, stifling fear and feeling,
Slaughter thee, as a bullock at the altar,
Thy blood would still profane!
Oh! must thy Clarice plead to thee in vain?
Spare him, if but in gratitude to heaven,
For that we prosper in his hate's despite.
'Tis for that very reason I should slay him!
He comes to blight our brief prosperity,
To compass all our sunshine with his cloud,
And taint our flowers with poison.
She counsels thee with wisdom, Norman Maurice;
I am not friendless here. Did aught befall me,
Here, in thy dwelling, to my mortal hurt,
'Tis known that I came hither--'tis known farther,
That I have that to speak against thy fame,
Shall blacken it forever.
Ha, say'st thou that!
Well thou wouldst something more!
Only a word--
And lest thy prudence should not check thy passion,
What! thou hast weapons then!
Now, by my hopes--if it were possible,
To find thee but one moment flush with manhood!--
Look on me, villain, as I now confront thee,
But, lift thine eye to mine, and let thy aim
Be deadly as thy malice! Wretched coward--
Thus do I mock thy impotence.
Spare me, Norman!
Husband, let him live!
Outlaw! that masks him with deliberate purpose--
That seeks by night my dwelling with a lie!--
That lifts his deadly weapon 'gainst my bosom--
Thou stranglest me!
Have pity, Norman!
For thy sake, I spare him!--
Yet feel how better 'twere to crush him now,
Than suffer him--
Oh!--if thou durst
Take name of God in vain to do hell service,--
I'll slay thee with a certainty of vengeance
That leaves no limb unhurt. For well I know
Thy heart is never then less free from malice,
Than when thy lips declare thy innocence.
Hence, ere I change my purpose. I will spare thee,
And fling thee from my threshold, but to show thee
How much I still forbear.
Oh, how I thank thee!
If evil follows on this mercy, Clarice,
Thine is the fault.
Oh, Norman, this man's hate--
While we can tear the falsehood from his brow,
Is nothing, but--
Why should he follow us?
Oh! for some hellish purpose. But go in;
Leave me awhile.
Wilt thou not close the door?
Let it stay wide all night.
You go not forth?
One sleeps not when the wolf is in his close,
Lest that his howl should scare his infant's sleep--
And when I doubt if ill is at my threshold,
'Twere base to sleep upon the pillow of doubt.
But, go you in, dear wife!--you must not hear
The voice in anger you have heard in love.
Leave me awhile. This thing still troubles me,
But should not trouble you. Go to your prayers,
And leave the watches of the night to me.
God still presides o'er all. I see not yet,
The evil that this evil spirit brings,
But trust that we shall lack no help of angel,
Whene'er the struggle comes.
Forget not that my life is in thy hands.
Oh, do not rashly purpose.
What can he mean! That paper is destroy'd;--
Why should I fear his malice? Yet, so truly,
I know his equal baseness and design,
I feel that he hath purposes of mischief,
Which, if he lack'd the agencies of evil,
He ne'er had underta'en. No sleep for me,
When that the dark suspicions in my soul,
Engender still the foe. I must go forth!--
Oh! God, how beautiful the calm o'er earth,--
How soft the night, that, with a veil of brightness
Wraps all the subject creatures--peace and sleep,
Sharing the dreamy blessing, as if evil,
Sped not malignant spirits through the air,
And never flower of earth had cover'd reptile!
ACT III.--SCENE I.
I warn'd you of the peril.
Yet your wisdom
Had scarcely fancied that his glance could fathom
Disguise so good as mine!
I said his eye
Was like an eagle's. It were hard to say,
What, with his mind once roused into suspicion,
It could not penetrate.
'Twould better please me,
If one, who should be in my service only,
Could find my foe less perfect.
And, to do so,
Should prove himself less true.
Oh! your truth,
Were better shown in service than opinion!
My habit was good; and I had been secure,
But that, to sound him, I unseal'd myself;
And, like a witling, answered all his questions,
Of persons whom we once had known together.
Be sure, he first suspected ere he question'd.
'Tis like enough! At all events he floor'd n [illegible]
Disgraced me as he still hath done before
In frequent strife. The mask is thrown aside;
He knows me, here, his enemy; and now--
The open conflict!
What is now the game?
The open conflict he would never shrink from!
Why, when his hand was fix'd upon your throat,
Did you forbear the weapon?
Ask me rather,
Why one is still superior to his fellow;
Why one is brave, another impotent;
Why I am feeble just where he is strong;--
And why, with will to compass his destruction,
My heart still fails me in the final effort!
Such still hath been the sequel of our issues!
He still hath master'd me with such a will,
My spirit droops before him, and I shudder,
To feel, that, with a hate so fix'd and fearful,
I lack the heart to drive the weapon home!--
But I shall do it yet!
And why the conflict,
Thus ever urged with fate so full of peril?
Now, while you may forbear, and pause in safety,
Forego the struggle, which hath still been hopeless;
Give him repose, and leave yourself at peace.
Peace! with these passions!
They will wreck your own!
A something tells me such must be the issue,
In any strife with Maurice.
Vain the counsel--
I cannot leave the conflict!
Will not do so!
While still my hate must go unsatisfied--
My pride,--to say no more of other passions.
Not a word of her!
That still you prosecute this doubtful struggle?
She may, perchance, when she is duly tutor'd,
That, on my whisper, hangs her husband's honor.
This is your purpose, then?
You do not like it?
I am your slave,--the creature of your mood,
More at your mercy far than Norman Maurice,
Since he is innocent and I am guilty;--
What matter what I like?
Why, that's well said!--
Enough for you I must pursue my victims,
While hate conceives a hell for him, or passion
Dreams still of heaven from her! This day, when Maurice
Leaves for the city, I shall seek his dwelling.
Again! untaught by late experience!
You seek his wife then?
Why, not exactly.--
Perhaps you do not know that Mrs. Jervas
Arrived last night at midnight.
How can she
Assist you in this mad pursuit? You tell me
That Maurice still suspects her.
She is my ally;--but, here's Harry Matthews:
He comes to take me to the secret council,
Where other plans mature against our foeman.
You will not breathe this secret to these people?
I will but breathe it.
And withhold the proof?
As suits my purpose. It is very likely,
I shall not call on you till the last hour,
When all is ready for his overthrow!
Of this be sure, Dick Osborne: I will pamper
My several passions as I can, and stint them,
In nothing, that may gratify their rage.
Art ready, Warren?
Will be in a moment!
You'll go with us?
Why not go?
Sufficient, as they tell us, for the day
Its evil; when I can no longer 'scape it,
I'll mix in this conspiracy;--till then,
Let me go idle.
Hark you, Richard Osborne,
No faltering when the moment comes to speak;
The rod that does not yield to me, I break!
And no escape! I dare not run on ruin,
And face the shame with which he threatens me;
Yet, with a tyranny so terrible,
That plies me with its torture night and day,
'Twere better throw increase of weight on conscience,
And, by embrace with deeds of deadlier aspect,
At least secure escape from sway like this!
Had I the heart for it! Could I find the courage!
'Twere but a blow!--a blow! I'll ponder it.
The matter then resolves itself to this--
We know for certain, now, that this man, Maurice,
Will be the opposition candidate:--
Ben Ferguson is ours.
And why not you?
For the best reasons. No! my private business
Needs careful nursing now. This woman, Pressley,
Is like to give me trouble.
Her new lawyer
Is stubborn, then?
He seems to be a man;
And we shall suffer him to prove his manhood!
I wrote him of the merits of my case,
Concluding, with a civil exhortation,
As he was young, and but a stranger here,
That he should spare his teeth, nor peril them,
On nuts too hard to crack.
What said he then?
Oh! with an answer bold enough, I warrant.
He did not know his customer, I fancy.
I think not; and to lesson him a little,
One of my lambs was sent to him this morning--
Joe's a rough teacher, colonel.
As God has made him, Joe. He'll do our business
As tenderly as if it were his own.
But was there not some whisper of a secret
Touching this Norman Maurice, which, if true,
Would render any messages of honor,
Impossible, to him!
I did not hear;--
Unfold your budget.
Harry Matthews, there,
Speaks of a secret in his friend's possession,
That's fatal to this man!
Ha! out with it!
'Twill save a monstrous trouble in our wigwam;
For, to say truth, this man is popular,
Grows every day in strength in the assembly,
And, I confess to you, I have my fears,
Touching the game before us. Our new members
Are not what I would have them; and old Mercer,
Catesby and Brooks, gain daily influence,
Under the cunning counsel of this Maurice.
If we can crush this fellow, who has talent,
And shows more stubbornness than I can relish,
'Twere better done before we lose our headway.
This man disposed of, they can find no other
To take the field with Ferguson.
There is a secret, gentlemen; a dark one
Which, told, were fatal to this Norman Maurice!
I will not tell it now; but wait the moment,
When, over all, conspicuous most, he stands,
With triumph in his prospect, and his spirit,
Exulting in the state he deems secure!
Then will I come between his hope and triumph;
Then show the guilty secret that degrades him,
Confound him with the proofs which now are ready,
And hurl him down to ruin, the more fatal,
For that I suffer'd him to rise so high.
But why not now? The man is high enough!
The secret's mine, sir. When I'm done with it,
I'll bury it as did the Phrygian barber,
Where every reed that whistles in the wind
Shall make it into music for his ear.
Be sure of this, I'll yield it you in season,
Ere Maurice sits a Senator in Congress!
Yes! Let him do that!
Meanwhile, there is a way to save himself.
This Maurice has my message--
He'll not fight!
If he would--
His honor would be rescued by his death?
Scarcely; since 'tis for me to keep the secret,
Or free it, if I please! But, let me tell you,
That Maurice will not shrink from any combat!
I know him well. He is mine enemy,
But let me do him justice. He will fight,
Though all the devils of hell stood up against him.
Look to it, sir;
But Maurice is no common opponent;
And you will need your utmost excellence,
To conquer him when once he takes the field!
Well! that's good news! My lamb is with him now;
We'll hear from him by noon.
Before we part,
'Tis understood we put our troops in motion;
The strife will be a close one! Blasinghame
Hath truly spoken of this new assembly;
It puzzles me to fathom it. This Maurice,
Is, questionless, a man of wondrous power;
And, though I much prefer that we should beat him,
In a fair wrestle, with the usual agents,
Yet this is not so certainly our prospect,
As that we should forego this fatal secret,
That makes our game secure.
You shall have it.
We meet to-night at Baylor's.
You'll be with us?
It may be that your fruit will then be ripe.
Ay, come, sir, with your friend.
Perhaps! We'll see;--
There may be other fruits upon that tree.
It is the curse of insecurity,
That cruel doubt that hangs upon possession
Glides with the midnight to the sleepless pillow,
And, with the laurel wreath that crowns the triumph,
Sows thick the thorns that make the brow to ache!
Did the endowment not imply the service,
Were we not each enjoin'd with a commission,
The task decreed, the struggle thrust upon us,
Making it manhood to comply with duty;
How better far--the treasure in our keeping,
Love at our bosom, peace upon our threshold,
When bliss can never hope increase of rapture,
And fear begins to dream of unknown danger,--
To fly the world--the conflict,--nay, the triumph,
And, bearing off the trophy we have won,
Hush the ambitious spirit in our hearts
That whispers, "Life hath more!" Have I won nothing,
That I should toil, as unrequited Labor
Still hoping yet to win? Am I a beggar,
Who, perilling nothing in each fearful venture,
Stakes all his hopes on change? With goods so precious,
Should I still venture in the common market,
Where Malice stands, with gibe of cruel slander,
And Envy lurks in readiness to steal?--
When the still shelter of the wilderness
The depth of shadow, the great solitudes,
Beckon the heart with promise of their own,
Still singing, "Here is refuge!"
As if the serpent could not find the garden;
As if the malicious Hate, by hell engendered,
Had not an equal instinct, how to fathom
The secret haunt where rapture hopes to hide!
Hate bears a will as resolute as love,
A wing as swift, an eye as vigilant,
And instincts, that, as still they keep it sleepless,
Prompt the keen search when Rapture stops for rest!
A sad presentiment of coming evil
Stifles each generous impulse at my heart,
That ever spoke in confidence. This Warren
Is here for mischief; with what hope to prosper--
That single proof destroy'd--I now divine not.
This woman, coming close upon his footsteps,
Confirms my apprehensions. They are allies--
She false as he, but feeble--his mere creature,
To beat the bush, while he secures the game!
Well! I must watch them with a vigilance
Due to the precious treasure in my trust;
And, swift as justice in avenging mission,
With the first show of evil in their purpose,
Crush them to earth, and--Well?
Major Savage, sir.
Show him in.
Your name is Maurice?
'Tis sir. Yours?
Mine is Joe Savage,--Major of militia.
You got a letter, sir, a week ago,
From Colonel Blasinghame.
And answer'd it!
That answer did not please him, Blasinghame.
I'm sorry for it, sir; but you'll believe me,
When I assure you, that, in penning it,
I never once conceived it necessary
To ask what were his tastes.
Eh, sir: you did not!
Well, let me tell you, those who know him better,
Are something curious never to offend him.
But you, sir, are a stranger--do not know him
So well as others, born here in Missouri--
And so, he sends me to enlighten you.
I thank him, sir.
Well, you have need to do so;
He does not use such courtesy in common,
But usually the blow before the word!
I'm lucky in his new-born courtesy.
You are, sir! He's a rough colt, Blasinghame.
Kicks, does he?
Kicks, sir! Why do you say kicks?
Surely, no act more proper to a colt.
You are something literal, sir. I'm glad of it,
Since 'twill be easier to be understood!
Well, sir, I come to you from Blasinghame.
You know not, sir, in taking up this case
Of mother Pressley's, sir, that you are doing
That which, until your coming, not a lawyer
Had done here in Missouri.
Shame upon them!
Shame, say you? Wherefore, when the right of it
Is all with Blasinghame!
Or with his cudgel!
Something in that, too. Well, sir,--I say!--
Now, as you something seem to know already
Of my friend's mode of managing his case,
I need not dwell upon the policy
Of stopping all proceedings ere the trial;--
In which event I'm authorized to tell you
That Blasinghame forgives your insolent letter,
And spares you as a stranger.
As he is powerful! But what if--having
No such afflicting terror of this person,
So terrible to his neighbors, in mine eyes--
I do reject this liberal grant of mercy.
Then, sir, I bear his peremptory challenge,
Which leaves you, sir, without alternative,
Takes no apology, no explanation,
And only seeks atonement in your blood.
Or his! But that's no easy matter, sir;
He's fought some thirty duels in his time,
Wing'd nineteen combatants, and slew the rest,
Nor had a scratch himself.
Why, we may say,
As Thumb, in the great tragedy--"Enter Thumb,
And slays them all!"
You mock, sir!--
Not a bit, sir!
I marvel only, after hearing you,
That still I have the courage to resist.
You will not, sir?
I fear me that I shall!
What! you accept the challenge, then?
I'll keep it, sir, until this trial's over.
Beware, sir, of evasion.
You, in turn, sir,
Beware of insolence. You have my answer;
When I have gain'd this suit of Widow Pressley.
I'll see to that of Colonel Blasinghame.
I must have your answer now, or--
The door, sir,--
Unless, indeed, you should prefer the window.
Well! You're a man, that's certain! Give us hand.
I'm a rough beast, and like you not the less,
Because you keep a muzzle for the bear;
I feel that you will meet with Blasinghame,
And I shall see it.
Very like you will!
The game becomes of interest!
Art busy, Norman?
Have been. But,--this lady?--
Will you not see her?
Not if I can help it.
She is my only kinswoman, my husband--
You will not drive her from me?
You were my only, Clarice--I your only,
Until her coming! Only to each other,
Was the o'erprecious bond that most endear'd you
To my affections, wife. I cannot suffer
That she should pass between your heart and mine--
She who loves neither.
This cold, coarse, selfish, this dishonest woman,
Who strove to keep us separate--
She pleads, was but, in a mistaken fondness,
To find a suitor, for her favorite niece,
With better hope of fortune than yourself.
Who broke the sacred seal upon our letters,
Mine read,--yours hurried to the flames, unsent--
And would have sold you to this Robert Warren,
She confesses all, and weeps!
Tears of the crocodile! Believe them not.
Plead for her nothing more! I tell you, Clarice,
I cannot hold my table sure and sacred,
With one so false beside me at the board!--
I cannot yield my home, now pure and peaceful,
To such a treacherous heart as that she carries.
My home is not my home, when doubts of safety
Haunt still my thoughts by day, my dreams by night.
She must go hence!
Oh! husband, pardon her!
She urges abject poverty!
More falsehood still!
But we'll provide her;--she shall never suffer,
From cold, or thirst, or hunger, my Clarice.
I will to-day seek lodgings in St. Louis;
But, should her pride?--
She has no right
To nurse her pride at peril of our peace!
No more! I will not mock her poverty,
Offend her pride, reproach her evil doing--
Will speak her kindly, and will care for her,
So long as I have strength for any care;--
But will not suffer, for a single moment,
Her shadow on the sunshine of my house.
If we be welcome,
Your lady need not leave us.
That which brings us,
Is business of your own, no less than ours,--
A grateful business still, we trust, to you--
Which, doing honor to your worth and virtue,
It may be grateful to your wife to hear.
If such its burden, I were glad to linger.
Do so, Clarice!--we, gentlemen, are one!
Marriage, with us, fulfils its ample mission,
Making a mutual need for both our hearts;
Whose sweet dependence knows no other refuge,
Than that which each bestows. It is our fortune,
To have no kindred which may pass between us,
To take from either heart the sweet possession
We hold in one another. But, be seated.
Court now in session, sir, your time is precious,
And this great case of yours, 'gainst Blasinghame,
Comes on to-day?
MAURICE. It does.
A moment then?
Our friends, sir, conscious of your great endowment,
Assured of your just principles and conduct,
Your sense of public trust and public duty,
Have, with unanimous voice, in a full caucus,
Deputed us to bear you their request,
That you will be our candidate for Senator,
In the next Congress.
And we now entreat you,
Suffer this nomination.
Friends, believe me,
I feel with proper sense, this compliment;
And, if my own desire, my young ambition,
Were the sole arbiter to shape my conduct,
Then would I say to you, with hearty frankness,
My wing and eye are set upon the station,
To which your accents now implore my flight.
But, though 'twould give me pride to serve our people,
In any station where their rights are vested,
I have some scruples--
Pray deliver them.
To be a candidate in common usage,
To take the field and canvass with the voter,
To use or sanction fraud--to buy with money,
Or other bribe, the suffrage of the people--
Is to dishonor them--degrade myself!
We ask not this.
It needs not.
Hear me, sirs.
Our liberties are in the popular vote,
Their best security, the popular heart,
Their noblest triumph in the popular will,--
And this can never be expressed with safety,
Until the unbias'd voice of public judgment,
Flinging aside each intermediate agent,
Rises, with proper knowledge of its person,
And cries--"Behold our man!"
You are our man!
Such is already what is spoken loudly
By thousands in Missouri.
I'll not deny it--
If I had one ambition o'er another,
One passion, prompting still a search for power,
'Twas for a station such as this you show me,
Where, standing on the platform of the nation,
I might stand up for man! And so, my studies,
The books I read, the maxims I examined,--
The laws I conn'd--the models set before me,--
All had some eminence like this in view,
That, with my training, should the occasion offer,
I might be ready still! But, in my progress,--
The better knowledge I have learn'd from men--
My doubts increase--my scruples grow--and now,
A sense of duty prompts me to declare,
Though each fond idol of the ambitious nature,
Be, from its pedestal, forever thrown,
I will not seek for office on conditions
Adverse to right and manhood. I will never
Become the creature of a selfish party--
Never use wealth or fraud to rise to power,--
Never use power itself to keep in power,
Nor see in him who favor'd my ascent,
A virtue not his own! Nor can I offer
One tribute to the vulgar vanity!
I will not bow, nor smile, nor deference yield,
Where justice still withholds acknowledgment.
We feel the justice of your sentiments.
They're needful to us now, when all's corruption.
Oh! could we but inform the popular mind.
This can be done where virtue is the teacher,
No students learn so quickly as the people.
They have no cliques to foster--no professions,
Whose narrow boundaries, and scholastic rules,
Frown on each novel truth and principle,
And, where they can, still hunt them down to ruin.
They take a truth in secret to their hearts,
And nurse it, till it rises to a law,
Thenceforth to live forever!
We are agreed--
The people must be taught--what should we teach them?
In politics, to know the proper value
Of the high trusts, the sacred privileges,
They do confide their statesmen. Show to them,
On these depend their liberties and lives,
The safety of their children, and the future!
To yield such trusts to smiling sycophants,
Who flatter still the voter's vanity,
At the expense of his most precious fortunes,
Is to betray the land's security;
To sell the wealth most precious in our keeping,
And, for the thing most worthless, yield to fortune,
What fortune cannot purchase! We must teach,
That he who cringes meanly for the station,
Will meanly hold him in the nation's eye;
That he who buys the vote will sell his own;--
That he, alone, is worthy of the trust,
Who, with the faculty to use it nobly,
Will never sacrifice his manhood for it.
If, with these principles and these resolves,
Thus freely shown you, and invincible,
Our people, through their representatives,
Demand my poor abilities,--'twill glad me,
To yield me at their summons. This implies not
One effort of my own. You, sirs, may make me
A Senator, but not a Candidate.
This suits us well. On your own terms we take you;
We feel with you, a stern necessity
To check the abuse of the elective franchise!
But should we call a meeting to enlighten
The people, in respect to public measures,
You'll not refuse to meet them?
No, sir, surely!
I still have done so, upon all occasions,
Whene'er a novel principle demanded
Thanks, sir! There will be to-morrow
A general meeting at the Capitol,
Without respect to party.
I will be there!
Our quest is satisfied to our desire.
We will no longer trespass. Farewell, madam,
Farewell, sir. We shall meet again at court.
Husband, you triumph! There
should be no care
Upon your forehead now! Last night, you slept not.
And now, you dream! But clouds will come, Clarice,
Still, with the morrow! Care that flies the forehead,
Still finds a secret shelter in the heart!--
That timid knock!
It is the widow Pressley.
Come in, madam!
Oh! sir, the day has come!
That brings you back your property, I trust.
Alas! sir! You encourage me to hope,--
And yet I fear!
It is that we are liable to fear,
That we must hope. If judgment be not erring
No less than justice, madam, mine's a hope
That grows the bolder with each hour of thought.
Be of good heart, dear madam. Check these sorrows,
That wear such needless furrows in your cheeks.
They're old ones, sir, plough'd twenty years ago.
Renew them not!
And yet, if what I hear!--
Oh, sir! they tell me that this cruel man
Hath sworn a horrible oath against your life,
If he should lose his case.
Ah! swears he then!
That looks as if he felt some cause of fear!
Do not make light of it, I do entreat you!
He's a most desperate ruffian when he's thwarted,
And has the blood of many on his hands!
'Twas said he left the army for his murders,
And in his duels--
Let me see,--"of thirty,
Wing'd nineteen combatants, and slew the rest!"
Oh! horrible! How can you jest upon it?
In truth, you smile not!
Do not fear!
I do not think that he will murder me.
Yet be not rash, my husband; take precautions,
What! your dagger, my Clarice,
This pretty Turkish trifle from your bodice,
The blade mosaic--handle wrought in pearl--
The sheath of exquisite morocco, dropp'd
In gold and green! This ornament for masking,
Were a frail weapon for a man's defence!
Nay, keep your dagger, child, I shall not need it.
Be not so confident.
Be not so timid!
Who looks for danger surely happens on it!
My papers there! You go with me, dear madam.
There was a time I kept my carriage!
Be hopeful: you shall keep it once a [illegible]
Such as it glads me to indulge myself,--
Yet, should I err in judgment!
Oh! should you fail!
'Twould break her heart.
'Twere something worse than death!
But we'll not fail!
Hath still a holy sanction for its hope;
And he who strives with justice on his side,
May boldly challenge fortune for success,
If he be true himself!--We will not fail!
The carriage there! Come, madam--for the Court-house!
ACT IV.--SCENE I.
So! So! You heard it all, then?
Glorious! But how did you conceal yourself?
An ante-room conducts us to the hall
Where they were secretly at conference;
Thither, when she descended from my chamber,
I softly follow'd. The convenient key-hole
Gave me the means, at once to hear and see them.
Your foresight shames my thought! And so, this Maurice,
Denies that you shall harbor in his dwelling?
But this you must do! Your security
Lies in his household only! He might promise you
Your lodging in St. Louis,--board and clothing--
Ample provision for your state in future--
But once you free his household of your presence,
He whistles you down the wind. No obligation
Would bind him to the care of you hereafter!
What then? He's very stubborn in his spirit!
Why, to be sure! The very thing, dear madam--
Your sickness will not suffer your removal:
Fatigue of travel, grief, anxiety,
Will have their penalties; and your prostration
Is such, that all the world would say 'twas monstrous
To drive you,--you, a stranger in the country,--
The home of the one kinswoman that's left you!
Your notion is a good one! Norman Maurice
Is not the man to urge the matter on you--
An invalid,--with feeble frame,--hot fever--
Confined to bed,--mind somewhat wandering!--
You're right! Methinks you need no counsel, madam.
I see! 'Twill do!
'Tis excellent! So, Maurice
Accepts the Senatorial nomination,
Though still his pride revolts at working for it.
Well! He's not Senator yet. The widow's case
Will bring its perils too; and, at the finish,
I'll interpose to blight his growing glories,
And show him--Hark! a footstep--
Here she comes!
Auspicious! Here, away; and, while you leave us,
I'll open a brief conference with her.
Meanwhile, 'tis well, you put your scheme in progress;
Take to your bed, and get your nostrums ready;
Spare not your groans and sighs--a little faintness
Might well arrest you suddenly in your speech!
And--but enough. The thicket! Here, away!
Now all my sorrows sink into the sea,
Since Norman rises to such noble height,
The first in his desert and his desire!
Methinks, till now, I doubted of his fortune,
Nor ever felt secure from sad mischance;
The gibe of envious tongues, the jeer of malice,
The snares of bitter foes, and those dark meshes,
That still the treacherous hands of Warren spread!
These do not fright me now, and, though his presence,
So apt with coming hither of my aunt,
Would seem to shadow forth some evil purpose,
Yet can I not esteem it cause of fear,
Since it were vain for such as he to struggle
Against the noble fortunes of my husband.
Indeed! and yet the shaft that slew the lion,
Was but a reed beside the sedgy stream!
The little scorpion issuing from the rock,
First slew the steed whose skull he 'habited.
Thou here again!
If but to teach thee in philosophy!--
A pebble in the hand of shepherd slinger,
Smote, so we learn from Sacred History,
The proudest giant in Philistia's ranks.
And he whose presence still offends a woman,
But little dreams what champion she may call.
I knew your champion absent ere I ventured.
Your highest pitch of voice, and greatest need,
Would never bring him timely to your succor.
What means this threat?
It is no threat, Clarice;--
You will not need a champion when I'm near you.
And if I did, methinks, in Robert Warren
I should be loth to seek one! Why come hither,
My husband's foe, pursuing still his fortunes,
And mine, with bitter malice!
Thee with love!
Who wrongs the husband, cannot love the wife!
Clarice, 'twas in my passionate love for thee,
First grew the passionate hate I bear thy husband!
'Till thou, with fatal beauty, came between us,
He was the twin companion of my pleasures.--
My first associate in each boyish frolic,
We still together went, by hill and valley,
Beside the stream, and through th' untrodden forest,
Having no faith but in our youthful friendship,
No joy, but in the practice shared together.
'Twas thou that changed my kinsman to a rival--
'Twas thou that changed our friendship into hate;
We fell apart, suspecting both, and loathing,
When first our mutual hearts inclined to thee!
He did not hate thee--had no jealousy,
But still confided to thee, even his passion;
And thou--alas! audacious that thou art,
How canst thou still forget that I too know thee,
A traitor to his trust!
Have I denied it?
I would have won thee from my dearest kinsman.
My treachery to him was truth to thee!
And yet 'twas fruitless! Was it not enough
That thou shouldst fail? Why now--
Was every passion to be wreck'd forever,
In that which had denial in thy scorn?
With love denied, was vengeance--
Is it his life thou aim'st at now, or mine!
What then? We're separate forever,--
Our lots are cast apart,--our lives divided,--
Why, when no profit comes to thee--no pleasure,
To us, at this dark crossing of our footsteps--
Why art thou here?--Why vex us with thy presence,
To thy own deep defeat?
In your own thoughts,
Look for the answer to this teeming question.
You know me well--enough of me to know,
Whate'er my vices or deficiencies,
I am no simpleton, but have a cunning
That scarce would keep me profitlessly working,
Still drawing fruitless waters in a sieve!
That I should press upon your husband's footsteps,
Would prove I still had hope of my revenge!
That I should seek thee in thy secret bower,
Would show me still not hopeless of thy love!
Oh! vain and insolent man!
Hold, a little!
If hopeful still of you, 'tis through the prospect
Of vengeance on your husband.
Face him then!
You but increase my eager thirst for vengeance,
When you remind me of the frequent struggle,
Which ended in my overthrow and shame.
Is't not enough, thus baffled and defeated?--
Why thus encounter still the shame and danger?
And if my hope lay only in my fortune--
If still my triumph waited on my strength,
And, to the skill and vigor of mine arm,
I looked to win the vengeance that I covet--
I should forego the conflict, as you counsel,
And leave your world in peace, concealing mine!
Well, sir--you pause!
I would have had your thought
Supply the words of mine; but, as it does not--
Know that I look to other means of vengeance;
Not through my strength, but in his feebleness--
Not in my virtue, but your husband's vices!
Yet, hear me! at this very moment
Your husband seeks the pinnacle of power;
He stands conspicuous in the public eye;
The highest place awaits him in the state--
The highest in the nation! At a word,
I can o'erthrow him from his eminence,
Can make his name a by-word and a mock,
Degrade him from his rank, and, with a secret--
Shallow and impotent, as base and worthless!--
Hence with your secret! Me can you delude not,
Though you delude yourself. I know this secret!
What! Your husband's forgery?
Think not to cheat me with your foul contrivance.
You prated of his skill in penmanship--
Defied it,--placed examples in his eye--
And he, confiding--dreaming not that one,
The kinsman who had shared his home and bosom,
Could meditate a falsehood or a crime--
Wrote, at your bidding, sundry names of persons;
And, with these names, without his privity,
Your hand devised the drafts which got the money--
Your hand expended what your guilt procured,
On your own pleasures, in his grievous wrong--
And he hath paid the debt. The fatal papers,
Which might have been a means of his undoing,
Were burned before mine eyes!
Your eyes deceived you.
I'll not deny your story of the fraud;
But, for the papers--let me whisper you--
They were not burn'd--they live for evidence--
Are now in my possession--damning proofs,
For the conviction still of Norman Maurice.
Oh, false as hell! These eyes beheld them burning.
Hark, in your ear! What you beheld destroyed,
Were but the copies of originals,
The neatly written forgeries of forgeries:
The originals are mine!
Have mercy, heaven!
What will you do with them?
What you determine.
What mean you?
What! can you not conjecture?
No, as I live!
What should I do with them?
Appease my hatred, pacify my vengeance,--
Wait till this still triumphant enemy
Puts foot upon the topmost ring of the ladder,
Then cut away the lofty props that raise him,
And let him down to scorn and infamy.
Another day would make him senator,
But that I step between, and show these papers,
And then the thousand voices in his honor,
Pursue him with their hiss!
Oh, if there be a human nature in thee,
Forbear this vengeance.
If it pleases thee!
How, if it pleases me?
See you not yet?
The alternative is yours to let him perish,
Or win the eminence that still he seeks.
Ay! for nothing less
Than the sweet honey dew that lines thy lips,
The heaven that heaves in thy embracing bosom,
Will I forego this vengeance.
God have mercy!
Yet no! I'll not believe this cruel story;
Thou hast no papers! I must see--
Meet me, Clarice, at sunset, in you thicket.
I dare not. In you thicket--
Dare you, then,
Behold your husband perish?
You but mock.
Wilt have me swear?
What oath would bind a wretch
So profligate in sin? I will not come!
My husband's honor still defies your arts,
And mine defies your passion.
You have doom'd him!
Oh, say not so! You would not have me madden.
I swear it! what I tell you is the truth.--
I have these papers, own this fearful power
Upon his fame and fortune, and will use it--
And--if I come?
And yield you to my passion,
The papers, with the fatal evidence,
Shall all be yours.
Be resolute, my soul!
Heaven help me in this strait and give me courage.
If I have strength and courage, I will come.
Then mine's a double triumph! Fool!--these papers
Shall serve a twofold purpose: win the treasure,
And yet confound the keeper when he wakes!
A word with you, if you please.
Go in, madam,
And find yourself a seat until I come:
I'll follow soon.
This case will keep you late,
And we this evening hold a conference,
Touching the course of the debate to-morrow;--
Were it not better you took bed with us,
And, in the mean while, lest your wife grows anxious,
Advise her, by a billet, of your purpose?
Well thought of. I will do so.
Catesby here tells me--but he comes: here, Catesby.
What's this of Savage?
You've won the Savage heart.
It seems that Blasinghame misdoubts your courage,
And, as you gave no reference on his challenge,
Inclines to violence; and has bid his lambs
Gather about him to behold the sport.
And this in utter scorn of Savage,
Who counsell'd patience till the time is over,
Fix'd by you for your answer. Blasinghame
Growls sullen, and shows Savage a cold shoulder:
'Twas he himself advised that you be watchful.
I thank him, and feel grateful to the Savage.
As for this Blasinghame, he'll have need to growl,
When we have done with him. But farther--Catesby--
Be you convenient, and, when court is over,
Meet us at Mercer's.
I shall stay the trial.
Good. Let us in then.
That's enough, Joe Savage.
Ay, if it answers.
Answers or not, I tell you, still enough.
Your counsel's something quite unlike yourself.
And, for that very reason, may be wisdom.
Perhaps!--but I'm not used to sudden changes [illegible]
I will take farther counsel with myself.
Doubtless, to find the way to wise conclusions.
I wash my hands of the business.
Pray do so!
But, see you Ferguson?
He follows us,
Yonder, with Matthews and the stranger, Warren.
Well, if all fails to bring this Maurice down,
That fellow hath a secret.
What is it?
Why, something that should please you,--quite
For final overthrow of this man, Maurice;
But let us in. I should be rather anxious,
Having at stake a fortune on this trial.
You have it all, sir. At the public meeting
You boldly challenge him with forgery,
Call on me to produce the fatal papers,
And summon Richard Osborne to confirm them.
We'll crush him at a blow.
'Till then, nothing!
The shame must be complete, beyond recovery.
Let him stretch forth his hand to gain the station,
In sight of all, then, in remediless ruin,
Hurl him down headlong.
You are sure of him--
Your facts--your proofs, your persons?
Sure as fate!
You will not fail us?
Would you have me swear?
Have I been wrong'd, and do I hate this Maurice?
Will hate forego the prospect of revenge?
Revenge reject the draught that quenches thirst,
And he who long has dream'd of hidden treasure,
Turn from the golden prize, at last his own?
Not, if the hell that feeds this passion fiercely,
Bestow the needful resolution for it!
And this man, Osborne?
He has had his lesson--
He'll answer when you call him.
All then is true?
As true as need be for a lawyer's purpose,
As for a foe's.
'Tis very pitiful--
For, though I like him not, this Norman Maurice
Is still a man of wondrous qualities;--
But for this lapse from virtue he had been
It is well he is not perfect,
Or he had put humanity to the blush,
By showing, in rough contrast, to her shame.
The meaner value of the coin she carries.
I do not like this business, but our need
Will not permit that we discuss its merits;--
We'll see you with the morrow.
With the hour,
That hears your accusation!
It could not well be better for our purpose.
The mine is sprung, the victim still approaches,
Unconscious, and my hand must fire the train!
But here comes Osborne. I must speak him sternly;
He cannot silence me with womanish scruples,--
He shall not!--Well, our scheme works famously.
Your scheme; not mine!
When will your wisdom, Osborne,
Conceive that scheme of mine is scheme of yours,--
Or should be? Now, then, hear our present purpose.
Ferguson brings the charge!
What! you have told it?
Only to him; and he will keep it safely,
'Till comes the proper moment for explosion.
When our young senator, in public meeting,
Rises to answer to the public summons,
And take the coveted laurel to his brow,
Then will we loose our thunderbolt, whose bursting
Tears him to atoms.
What am I to do, then?
What wretched part must I play in this business?
A minor one, 'tis true, but quite important.
You'll be my echo. When I give the signal,
Confirm my statement and complete our proofs.
Are you not under pledges to his wife,
To yield her up these proofs?
Ay, on conditions.
What of that? Another means of vengeance!
See you not that I strike him, through her virtue,
But not the less denounce him to the public.
I'll wheedle her with a promise to my arms,
Then mock the easy confidence that listen'd
To one she dared despise.
Oh, Warren! Warren!
Whither would you carry me--where go yourself?
To hell, if need be, so I gain my object!--
Achieve the conquest that to me is heaven,
Comprising, as it must, in equal measure,
At once the joys of passion and of hate!
For you--remember, Osborne--no more scruples!
You are mine--soul, body, thought and feeling, mine--
And these shall ply as still my passions counsel,
Or woe betide the rebel.
Better slay me!
Nay, you're not fit to die yet; nor could serve me
Hereafter, half so usefully as now.
At dusk, I keep the meeting with our beauty,
And thence with Matthews to a secret meeting.
Look for me home at midnight; and to-morrow--
Remember! no evasion. Fix'd as fatal,
My will nor brooks dissuasion nor defeat.
Had I the heart to perish, 'twere less pain,
Than bend beneath this scourge and bear this chain.
Not with me till to-morrow! 'Tis an age!
The first night separate since we were married.
Yet better thus. How could I meet my Norman,
Having this deep concealment in my heart,
Nor shudder with a weight of shame, whose crimson
Would set my cheeks on flame! How stifle feeling,
To cling in fondness to his manly bosom,
Nor speak the terrible purpose in my heart,
That said, would stifle his! 'Tis better thus!
Enough, that when I meet him--meet him--yes!--
When his dear voice is sounding in mine ears,
Full of the conscious triumphs that await him,
I then may fling myself upon his breast,
And show the dire necessity that made me
The thing I dare not name,--and plead with him,
For each prompt sacrifice of feminine feeling;
The nerve that rose above the woman weakness,
As still the tribute to his fame and safety.
He will forgive--will bless;--and if he does not!--
Should he recoil from my embrace, and show me
The crimson proof of shame upon my garments,
And cry, "thy hands, that once were white and spotless,
Are red with guilt:"--but no--I dare not think it.
Let me not look that way. Impossible!
Shall I not, while they threaten, steel my heart,
Against this dread necessity, nor tremble,
Though on the altars of his fame and glory,
I bathe this white and innocent hand in crime!
I shudder, yet I shrink not. Give the power,
God, to this heart, against the coming hour!
Didst hear the speech of Maurice in this case?
I never heard the like!
And when he did discourse of Blasinghame,--
His first wrong to the widow--his denial
Of the poor orphan's right--his violence
To those who strove to serve her interests--
The picture that he painted was so monstrous,
That every heart grew cold.
Himself--didst note him?
'Twas another picture!
He sat a spectacle of ghastly fury,
That had moved pity, could we have forgotten
His looks at the beginning of the case.
At first, how bold he seem'd--with what defiance;
Next, with what doubt; then follow'd his dismay--
And last, his fury; while, with impotent rage,
And something, as it seem'd, of shame and horror,
In his own spite at what the other drew,
He crouch'd at last beneath the terrible scourging,
And half escaped from sight.
I saw him clutching
The panel that he lean'd on, as for help,
While, beaded on his forehead, the big sweat
Still gather'd as it fell; and, on his lips
The stain of red that mingled with the foam,
Show'd how he had even bitten through his lips,
In his great agony, and knew it not.
The judge has charged the jury?
He was charging
Just when I left. I could not stand it longer--
As much exhausted at the stern excitement,
As Blasinghame himself.
The up-hill work was pitiful. To follow,
With such a case, a speaker such as Maurice,
Was quite as killing to himself as client.
Nobody heard, or cared to hear, his pleading--
Not even the jury.
What will be the verdict?
Why, who can doubt? The insuppressible groan,
That broke from every breast--the gaze of fury
That blazed in every eye, when, pointing slowly,
And shaking with such dire significance,
The hand of Maurice fix'd on Blasinghame,
As still, with holy horror in his accents,
He spoke his wonder, that, with guilt so hideous,
He still could brave the gaze of man and justice!--
That groan and glance declared the popular judgment,
And such will be the verdict.
Hark! that cry--
Hurrah for Norman Maurice!
The widow's friend!
The people's man forever!
There speaks the popular heart.
A glorious voice,
That makes him senator.
Hark! he comes forth.
Ah! sir. God's blessing on you,--make us happy,
And take the half of all you've got for us!
Not for the world, dear madam! I'll not forfeit
The pure delight I feel in serving virtue
For its own sake! In lifting the down-trodden,
For sake of wrong'd humanity! No more.
Hurrah for Norman Maurice!
The widow's friend!
The people's man forever!
Let us get hence.
Dear madam, take my carriage,
And bear the grateful tidings to my wife;
Remain with her to-day while I am absent;--
To-night, as still it's like, I shall be absent,
Rejoice her with our triumph. She expects you!
I have no thanks--no words,--my tongue is frozen.
'Tis that the thaw is wholly at your heart!
Go hence. Escort her, Mercer, to the carriage.
Look to it, Maurice--here comes Blasinghame!
Where is he! Let me see! Ha, give me way!
Villain, my blows make answer to thy speech!
A blow--and I no weapon! But it needs none--
When, with such powerful passions in my heart,
I feel my sinews fortified with strength,
To drag a thousand tigers to my feet.
Thus, monster, that hast trampled on a people,
Defied their virtues--at their sufferings mock'd--
Thus, with my foot upon thy stubborn neck,
I trample--I degrade thee to the dust!
Hurrah for Norman Maurice!
The people's friend!
The champion of the widow!
Enough, sir. Let him rise. I'll whisper [illegible] him
Where he can find us.
Now, within the hour!
Where is he? Give me way!
Enough of this!
I see! You'll be at Mercer's.
No more! Come, Blasinghame.
Well, you are true, boy, and I did you wrong.
Forgive me! You will see to this. This man
Hath had his cursed foot upon my neck!
You saw it!--ha! You saw it!
He will meet you!
Ha, Joe! Your hand. But when?
Within the hour!
Good! See to it. Ha, ha. Methinks--
Away with me at once; you must not linger.
Methinks I could drink blood. I'm very thirsty.
Come, let us get in trim. Are you a shot?
Ah! that's unfortunate!
You think so?--
Never you matter, Catesby: I will kill him!
ACT V.--SCENE I.
The challenge comes from Blasinghame. This gives us
Advantages, which we should rightly use,
'Gainst one so old in practice.
We shall use them:--
The weapon for example. Mine's the small sword.
The small sword! Blasinghame expects the pistol.
We have the right in this and other matters;--
I waive the rest; but this we must insist on.
'Twas still my fancy, upward from my boyhood,
That, next to lance and spear, the proper weapon
For honorable combat is the sword;--
Admitting grace of movement and decision,
Allowing still discretion to the champion,--
Obeying all the changes of his temper,
And, as the enemy betrayed his purpose,
Giving him power to spare or slay at pleasure,
Or simply to draw blood and to disarm.
You've learn'd to use the weapon?
But a little!
Some confidence, at least, in eye and motion,
Grew from my youthful practice; and a passage,
With the bright rapiers flashing in the sunlight,
Was ever such a pleasure to my spirit,
That I am half content to risk the duel,
For the excitement of the keen dispute!
'Tis long since I have exercised, but nature
Hath so endow'd me, that a play acquired,
I never yet have lost. 'Tis fortunate,
That I have made provision for this practice,
And have with me two reeds of Milan steel,
In all respects so equal, that a swordsman
Would linger long to choose.--But here comes Savage!
Save you, gentlemen.
Your hand, sir. We are ready:
We know your business. Here is Captain Catesby,
Who will discuss with you the needful matters.
Our policy demands the immediate issue,
Lest friends or officers should interpose.
Within the hour,--or, at the least, by sunset,
This meeting should be had.
You cannot have it
Too soon for Blasinghame. You know the man!
Well! what the weapon?
We shall choose the small sword.
The small sword! Why--'tis not the usual weapon.
As much as any other. France and Poland--
Indeed, most countries of the continent,
Where'er society allows the duel,--
And, you know, in Louisiana?--
The pistol's the more equal.
Or Maurice, feeble, and the other strong,
That were, perhaps, an argument, but--
And, if the question's courage, Major Savage,
As I am told your friend is pleased to make it,
Somewhat at my expense, then, let me tell you,
Cold steel will better try the manly bosom,
Than any decent distance with the pop-gun.
If I remember, Colonel Blasinghame
Hath served in the army, worn the soldier's weapon,
And will not scruple at its use in season.
Your words decide it:
You have the right--the small sword be it then.
Here are two noble weapons--better never
Play'd in the spiral and conflicting circle,
Above the head whose life was made the forfeit
In the delirious conflict. Take them with you;
Your friend can choose from them, or note the measure
Of that which I employ.
At sunset, then.
If you will suffer me--there is,
By Baynton's meadow, a sweet bit of copse,
East of it, through which runs an Indian trail:--
It leads us to a patch of open lawn,
Level, and smooth, and grassy--a fit place
For one to fight, or sleep on!
Be it there, then.
And now I leave you, gentlemen: an hour
Remains for preparation ere we meet!
You are the coolest person--for a person
That never was in combat. You will kill him!
Not if I'm cool enough! I fain would spare him,
Now, that I see him not. But when before me,
And I behold in him the insulting tyrant,
That robs the feeble and defies the strong
I feel a passionate anger in my heart,
That makes me long to trample him to dust!
What more, but seek the surgeon and the carriage!
I'm ready when you please.
Within the hour!
My poor Clarice! she sits beside the window,
And with a vacant spirit still looks forth,
Unthinking, yet still dreaming that I come.
What a long night to both--and that to-morrow!
Well! it will chide her tears, and soothe my sorrow.
The sun is at its set, and yet she comes not.
Can she have faltered--what doth she suspect,--
What fear! It sinks, and hark--her footstep.
Now comes our triumph--now!
Oh, if I err,
I that am feeble, and though feeble, loving,--
Devoted, where the sacrifice is needful,--
Willing to die for him whose dear devotion,
Hath made it my religion still to love him--
Oh, God have mercy on the hapless error,
That grows from love's necessities alone!
If in my death his triumph may be certain,
My breast is ready for the knife. I need
No prayer, no prompting to the sacrifice,
That saves him from the wreck of all his hopes,
And honor with them. Let me now not falter!
Forgive me, Heaven, in pity to the weakness
That knows not how to 'scape. If it be crime,--
The deed, which I have brooded o'er, until
My shuddering fancy almost deems it done--
By which I do avoid the loathlier crime;
Let not the guilt lie heavy on my soul,
As solemnly I do profess myself,
Most free from evil purpose, and most hating
That which meseems the dread necessity
That shadows all my fortune! God have pity,
And show the way, that still unseen before me,
Lies open for my rescue! Ha, 'tis he!
Methinks, Clarice, you come reluctantly.
Your husband's fate--the dangers that await him,
That do appear so terrible to me,
Would seem to touch you not.
I'll not believe it!
I tell you I must see these fatal papers--
Must feel them--spell and weigh each syllable,
Ere I believe you!
Said I not you should?
Show me them. I'm here.
Come hither, then.
What! in the deeper darkness of the wood?
What! dost forget my recompense?
Wouldst thou the naked heaven behold our pleasures?
Oh, Heaven! sustain me! Let me not go mad;
That I may hear unmoved this foul assailant,
Nor show, to baffling of my hope and purpose,
The loathing that I feel!
The proof is ready--
Wherefore dost thou linger?
Ha! then thou hast it--
Here, in thy bosom--here, in yonder wood.
Even as thou sayest--here, within my bosom;
But 'tis in yonder wood that thou shalt see it.
Give me to see them.
Show me! I come!
Yet farther. Follow me!
By yon red oak, where the dark thicket spreads,
Where silence, and her twin, security,
Brood ever, and declare for loving hearts
Their meet protection in this lonely shade.--
Thither, then; I follow thee!
Thou dost implore thy fate! I follow thee
Where shadow and silence both invoke with speech,
Too potent for my feeble prayer and plaint,
A shadow and a silence yet more deep!
They awfully declare a hideous worship
Where Horror sits supreme, and summons me
To make befitting sacrifice. My soul,
Be firm of purpose now. Nerves, do not falter,
When that I do demand your resolute office.
I dare not call on Heaven to help my weakness,
But from the indulgent mercy, born of Heaven,
Implore the saving grace I may not merit.
Ha, then, I come to thee.
Fool! thou entreat'st a Fury to thy arms,
And not a woman. Thou wouldst have my love--
Partake of my embrace--my kiss--thou shalt!
My husband--'tis for thee!
He calls me!
I do but answer to his summons! Ha!
Another voice is sounding in mine ears,--
And many voices! One of them is Norman's,--
He calls!--he, too, implores me to the wood!
There will he meet with Warren. If he meets him,
I know what then must happen. I must thither.
His voice again. It sinks into a murmur--
Mix'd murmurs follow of a crowd! What is it,
That rolls so dully in my brain, and makes me
Uncertain of my footstep? Oh! the horror
Of this strange weakness! Ha!
Thrice! Thrice! It is decreed. I come--I come!
Ha, ha, I have them! I could laugh! Ha! ha!--
But for this horrible silence. Yet, I have them!
He would have kept them from me--he. Ha, ha!
But would I suffer him when he threaten'd Norman,
My husband, with dishonor--my brave husband,
That even now is rising in the nation,
Among the great, in the high places of power,
Rank'd with the men most eminent. Dear Norman!
Ha!--ha! I'm very happy now. I have the papers,
The proof, and Norman is made Senator,
Spite of this wretched liar! He'll lie no more.
He wish'd for my embrace, and sure he had it!
Such close embrace, so sharp, so sudden, sweet,
It made him shriek and shrink with such a pleasure,
As men endure not twice.
God! what is that!
A footstep! He pursues me for the papers.
He shall not have them. No--I have no papers.
He comes! Home--Norman--Home! Home! Home! my Norman!
Can nothing reconcile our parties, Catesby?
The invitation to the field is yours:
Yours still must be each overture for peace.
What will content you, Blasinghame?
I'm sorry, but you hear?
To business, then!
Maurice is at his post; so, place your man.
Art ready, sir?
For vengeance! You have foil'd me--
Disgraced me in the eyes of all our people,
So, look to it, for by the God that made me,
I'll write my living tortures on your heart!
Your blood upon your head!
Curse on the weapon!
Curse not the weapon!--curse the hand, the heart--
The cause,--which have betrayed you;--not the weapon!
Your life is at my mercy!
Take it, then!
I would not live dishonor'd. You may slay me,
But cannot conquer me.--My breast is open!
I will not slay you. I will conquer you.
Your life is mine. I give it you. Live on,
A wiser and a better man hereafter.
My strength is gone from me; my heart is crush'd.
Look, Savage,--these are tears, and not of blood.
Come with me, for I falter.
You're a man
Among ten thousand, Maurice. Now, forgive him.
He weeps. The strong man weeps.--I must go with him,
But know me for your friend.
'Twas nobly done.
When I consider Blasinghame's career,
His brutal murders, his long tyrannies,
The provocation you have had to slay him--
I marvel that you spared him. Sir, your triumph
Is now without alloy.
I'm glad you think so,
Yet deem the merit of forbearance small.
Had he been bolder, I had never spared him;
But could not strike him when, with folded arms,
He stood to meet the stroke. But--let's to Mercer.
I've not seen him.
Not since when?
Indeed. 'Twas then we parted.
He promised to meet with me last night at Baylor's.
And came not?
No. 'Twas probable his business--
For you must know his hands are full at present--
Was quite too grateful and too full of profit,
To make him leave it soon. I marvell'd not
That he should fail us then; but now, this morning,
When, by agreement, he should breakfast with us--
And here's the hour--that he should still be absent,
Seems something strange. He must be at the meeting,
Or we are done forever.
What's the meeting?
One of both parties, meant for caucussing,
Popular wholly in its character,
Whose temper will determine our Assembly
As to its choice of Senator in Congress.
You'll be there?
Yes; I promised him.
I must go look for him.
We must not risk our fortunes by delay.
His voice may help to make our Senator.
Would he were dumb or I! Alas! these murmurs,
How feeble--since the fetters are about me,
And but one way remains--to curse and perish.
What quest was that, I pray?
I must not tell it--
A lady's in the secret.
Keep it then.
But give yourself no farther care for Warren.
His last words, when we parted yesterday,
Implied his absence till the latest moment.
He'll be with us to-day, when we are ready.
'Twill do no harm at least to hurry him.
Have you seen Blasinghame?
This morning? No.
You know not he and Maurice fought at sunset?
Indeed! How did they fight?
Why, Maurice had him at his mercy!
And spared his life?
He did, but had been much more merciful
To have taken it,--for he has crush'd the other!
Has wither'd in a night.
Good Heaven! Impossible! What! Imbecile!
He stares in vacancy--his hair's grown white,--
He trembles as with palsy, and he weeps,
Even as an infant!
What a change is this!
He's useless to us now; and Savage grows
More friendly now to Maurice than to me.
This Maurice wrecks us all.
But, in an hour,--
Let Warren be but faithful to his pledges,
And we shall see his vessel in a tempest,
Such as no bark can weather.
Be it so--
My breath shall not be wanting to the blow!
Thus have we, sir, discuss'd the several questions
Involved in this upon the Constitution--
I trust that, on this instrument, I speak
The doctrines of Missouri. I would have it
A ligament of fix'd, unchanging value,
Maintain'd by strict construction,--neither warp'd,
Nor stretch'd, nor lopt of its now fair proportions,
By the ambitious demagogue or statesman,
Who, with the baits of station in their eyes,
Still sacrifice the State! Our policy,
Should hold ours as a linkéd realm of nations
Where each one sits secure, however feeble,
And, pointing to the sacred written record,
Finds in it her Palladium. Government,
We hold to be the creature of our need,
Having no power but where necessity,
Still under guidance of the Charter, gives it.
Our taxes raised to meet our exigence,
And not for waste or favorites--our people
Left free to share the commerce of the world,
Without one needless barrier on their prows!
Our industry at liberty for venture,
Neither abridged, nor pamper'd; and no calling
Preferr'd before another, to the ruin,
Or wrong of either. These, sir, are my doctrines!
They are the only doctrines which shall keep us
From anarchy, and that worst peril yet,
That threatens to dissever, in the tempest,
That married harmony of hope with power,
Which keeps our starry Union o'er the storm,
And, in the sacred bond that links our fortunes,
Makes us defy its thunders!--Thus, in one,--
The foreign despot threatens us in vain.
Guizot and Palmerston may fret to see us
Grasping the empires which they vainly covet,
And stretching forth our trident o'er the seas,
In rivalry with Britain. They may chafe,
But cannot chain us. Balances of power,
Framed by corrupt and cunning monarchists,
Weigh none of our possessions; and the seasons
That mark our mighty progress, East and West,
Show Europe's struggling millions, fondly seeking,
The better shores and shelters that are ours.
Enough, sir--I have yielded my opinions,
Freely deliver'd, frankly argued, fairly,
With deference to the learning and the wisdom,
Shown by my opponent! The rest is yours.
You have heard, citizens; what farther order
Is it your pleasure, that we--
Sir, it needs not!--
The ample range that this debate hath taken,
The spacious grasp of argument upon it--
How well discuss'd the questions--how complete
And clear, the several reasons which concluded,--
Leave none in doubt of what should be our judgment.
Methinks there's but one matter now before us,
And this decided, stays the whole discussion,--
By showing, in our preference for the man,
What still hath been our thoughts upon his measures.
Well have the advocates on both sides spoken,
Not equally, but well! For Ferguson,
His eloquence honors his experience past,
And ancient reputation;--but, methinks,
That none who listen'd to the speech of Maurice,
But must have yielded to his clear opinions;--
Enforced by illustrations near and foreign,
Such full analysis, such profound research--
Statements so fairly made,--objections battled
So fearlessly--and arguments sustain'd
With so much equal truth and eloquence!
His views are mine--are those of this assembly!
Nay more--I boldly challenge in their favor
The voices of Missouri! What remains--
But that we speak to her assembled wisdom?
This day they choose a Senator in Congress--
Whom shall we name to them of all our people?
Why, Norman Maurice!
Who but Norman Maurice?
The widow's friend--the champion of the people!
Such is the popular will!
A moment, sir!
If eloquence and talent, just opinion,
Were the sole requisite, for this high station,
I should be silent here, or probably,
Join with you in the shout for Norman Maurice.
But truth and virtue claim a place with talent,
And he who serves, our Senator in Congress,
Must know no smutch of shame upon his garments.
Ha! shame, sir?
That was the word, sir.
Shame of mine?
Speak, sir; I listen.
It is charged, sir,
That Norman Maurice, ere he sought St. Louis,
Was once a resident of Philadelphia;
That there he forged a paper on a merchant,
Well known, by which he gain'd two thousand dollars!
A falsehood! false as hell! As God's in heaven,
I never did this thing!
The proof is here!
The proof! What proof?
Know you one Robert Warren?
Ha! you are silent, sir--you start, you redden!--
With scorn and indignation, not with terror!
I do know Robert Warren; that base reptile
Whom thrice I spared the scourge. Set him before me,
And you shall see whose tremors speak the guilty,
And whose the innocent, aroused to vengeance!
Have then your wish! Accuser! Robert Warren!
Stand forth and answer!
He dare not!
Shout for your man again. Set him before me.
Call at the door, there--call for Robert Warren.
Ho! Robert Warren, Robert Warren! Ho!
Who calls for Robert Warren? He is murder'd,--
Stabb'd with a dagger, and was found a corse,
Within the wood behind the house of Maurice.
Here is the dagger, found upon the body,
And crusted with his blood.
Murder'd! Give it me!
Great God! 'tis hers!
Behold the murderer!
He staggers! It is he hath done the deed!
Ay, truly,--who so like to do the deed,
As one who needs to silence such a witness.
Thy bitter jealousy and hate delude thee,
And make thee but a liar. I convict thee,
Out of the mouths of thine own witnesses.--
When saw you Warren last?
He left me then to seek your house.
What would he at my house?
I do not know.
But know that from that hour until the present,
When now we find him by your house a corse,
He has no more been seen.
That we may get the truth from fraud and cunning,
Even when it makes against them. Noon yesterday
Found me in public court-house, on a trial,
Before a thousand eyes, till four o'clock!
But after that?
My witness here is Mercer.
From that hour
Till sunset, he continued at my house,
Then left with Captain Catesby, to return
With dark, and to remain with us all night,
Most part in consultation with our friends,
Who did not separate until near the dawn.
Then, till this hour?
With me! We slept together!
Man of a bitter malice, art thou answer'd?
Thou 'scapest the murder, not the forgery.
Warren was not the only evidence;
Where's Richard Osborne?
All do not fail us!
Your name is Richard Osborne! You know Maurice,
And know the crime which Warren charged upon him?
He named you as his witness.
He did wrong, then!
I know of no offence of Norman Maurice--
Yet know him well, and all I know of him,
Hath still approved him, to my sense and judgment,
The noblest, as he is the first of men!
Hurrah for that!
Hurrah for Norman Maurice!
Away with Ferguson.
Your triumph is complete!
Tell me that!--
All's well!--You spoke! Did you not say, my wife?
What of her--speak!
You're ill! Your lips are very pale!
But courage, all your trial's over now.
Art sure of that? Let me but understand it!--
'Twould seem so!--What a foul conspiracy,
So fatally arrested. For this murder--
What of it?
'Tis very strange!
Very strange indeed!
But stranger still the audacious charge against you.
Who was this Warren?
Who? but here is one,
To put you in possession of the story.
He knows how dexterously a lie was founded,
Most monstrous, on the basis of a truth,
By this same Warren, to my injury.
Osborne, I thank you for your ready answer,
And good opinion.
It was but your right.
What is that cry? my fears--
Oh! Sir! Your wife!
My wife! Be still my heart. What of my wife?
She's sick! Oh! very sick!
She's broke [illegible] blood-vessel!
God! thou hast sent
This Terror, like a fate into my house,
And wreck'd the hope that nestled there in peace!--
Hence, woman, from my sight!
My wife! My wife!
Follow him with a surgeon.
What a day's history of storm and sorrow!
There is some cruel mystery in these doings,
Which we must fathom! This conspiracy,
For such it clearly shows, makes for our party;
Let's hasten to the use of it. They'll never
Hold up their heads again. The people's with us,
The assembly waits us and will crown our triumph!
Dear lady, you will die.
Do not come near me!
You bleed! You suffocate!
And still he comes not.
You promised me to send for him. Oh, God--
Should they behold these papers. Ha! I hear him.
Do you hear nothing?
I hear! 'Tis he!
Clarice! my wife!
Speak! Tell me! Where!--Clarice.
Oh! now you come! Heaven bless! I'm dying,
I feel it; but----
The surgeon! God of heaven!--
He cannot help me now. Too late! no succor,--
I've but the words for blessing and farewell!--
I'm sinking;--but you're safe! Safe! Oh! the rapture,
To know it, and to whisper in your ears,
With the last loving words. He would have crush'd you--
Made infamous your name, my noble husband;
But stoop,--your ear--he'll trouble us no more.
He's silent--and I have the fatal papers;--
No copies--all the originals.--Ha! Ha!--
They're here--now take me,--closer--to your heart;
I leave you--lose you--Norman. Ah! your lips,--
How cold, but sweet, my Norman--cold--sweet--Norman!
Now sink my soul!--since the bright star is gone,
That made thy life and glory from the heavens--
That stored thee with all blessings. I am crush'd!
Ha! what are these!
Oh, God! I see it all.
Oh, bloody wretch, whose nature was a lie,
This was thy work,--not hers. 'Tis plain before me.
My poor Clarice! how faithful unto death,
Shielding me at the peril of thyself,
And, in the seeming dread necessity,
Doing the deed that from its delicate props,
Shook the fair fabric of thy innocent life!
My wife! My wife!
Hurrah for Norman Maurice!
Maurice, my friend, we triumph. You are Senator
For the next term, in Congress, from Missouri.
Couldst wake her with thy tidings!
God! This is death!
It lies upon her silent lips like snow.
Oh! do not speak--she hears not! why should I?
Nor sorrow, nor joy shall fill these frozen eyes,
That see not me. She would have listen'd once,
How gladly,--and found music in the triumph,
[illegible] can bring me none. My wife! My wife!
A STORY OF THE SEA.
"'Tis not vain or fabulous,--
Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance,--
What the sage Poets, taught by th' heavenly Muse,--
Storied of old in high immortal verse,--
Of dire chimeras and enchanted isles,--
And rifted rocks."--MILTON.
PERSONS OF THE POEM.
ONESIMARCHUS, a King of Sea-Demons.
COUNT LEON, a noble Spanish Knight.
MENDEZ CELER, Captain of the Arragon.
OGRÉ, a slave of Onesimarchus.
Mariners, Demons, &c., &c.
ATALANTIS, a Princess of the Nereids.
NEA, her attendant.
LADY ISABEL, sister to Count Leon.
ZEPHYR-SPIRIT. TININA, Fairies.
ACT I.--SCENE I.
Get thee hence, monster, I defy thee now,
As late I scorn'd thee. Thy base threats are vain,
And thy lures idle. All in vain thy prayer,--
And, in thy promise, do I nothing see
To move my spirit;--nothing to misguide
My firm persuasion, that so foul a thing
Should have no thought of mine.
I prithee, hold!
Be charier of thy feelings;--have a care,
If thou dost love thyself and wouldst be free!
Beseems thee not this proud authority,
In such condition as I hold thee now.
Look round thee, lovely Atalant!--Survey
My wondrous power, and heed the prison house,
Most fit for thee to flutter in,--not fly!
Thou art my captive, maiden, bound by spells,
Potent as night, that, struggle as thou mayst,
Mock thy best effort, and defy thy hopes.
Foul tyrant, I despise thee and thy power,
And laugh at all thy threats. I know thee well,
Thy strength, thy spells, thy hatefulness, and all
That makes thee what thou art!--
Dost know thyself?
Ay, my own weakness, now,--yet nothing fear
Thy greater strength in this my overthrow.
Thou fear'dst not this?
I did not; yet I knew,
Even ere the moment of captivity,
That thou hadst power for this. 'Twas in my scorn,--
In the full feeling of my pride and strength,
Mocking thy gross dominion,--that I grew
Improvident of caution.
Lest a new lesson counsel thee to fears
Thy scorn believes not now.
Oh! get thee hence!
Think'st thou I am so shallow, not to know
Thy close impassable limit? Am I not,
Thrice guarded in myself, with power mine own,
Match'd unto thine, and know I not that thou--
Howe'er in captive bound thou keep'st me now,
Having robb'd me of the wand that serves my will,
By a foul trickery worthy of thyself,--
Hast not the might--unless I do forget
My better nature and give way to thine--
A wretched madness, most impossible!--
To graze with licensed breath the idlest hair,
That wantons from my shoulder. Get thee hence,--
I dread thee not, thou monstrous impotence!
Hold! or thou wilt impel me unto wrath,
When I would love thee!
Do I fear thy wrath?
And prat'st thou of thy love, thou crooked game-make,
Thou gross deformity!--how I could laugh
At thy rough gambols in an element
Made for pure spirits, and the delicate grace
Of the angelic youth and morning beauty,--
But that a prison laugh is seemly sad,
And turns into a sorrow.
So shall thine,
If thou bethink not oft'ner of thy bound!
Thou art a sprightly and most pleasant child,
But all unlearn'd by crude adversity,
Else wouldst thou teach thyself another mood,
And reason in the guise of circumstance.
Wert thou array'd in panoply of war,
With all thy armies on the equal field,
Naught wanting to thy might, the spoken taunt
Were not unseemly;--now it hath an air
That ill becomes thy lip and present state.
And wouldst thou teach, oh! rare philosopher,
The prudence of compliance with the law,
Of that worst fate, a base necessity?
Why, thou'dst disfigure truth, and all distort
The fairer argument into the foul,
Make right a truckler to expediency
And conjure virtue with the spells of fear,
Till she grows common, a base thing of time,
Having but present office. Thou hast err'd,--
For, but suppose me ignorant of good,
Untutor'd in truth's excellence, and all
That virtue wills to beauty,--thee I know,
And know to hate the lesson thou wouldst teach.
Thou'rt rash, fair damsel, rash and ill advised!
Beware of what thou say'st--to prudence hold;
Remember, when thy spirit would offend,
Thou art the captive to my greater power.
Thy greater cunning --thy dishonest guile!
And that is greater power, thou simple child;--
And, as thou art a captive, let thy speech
Mate with thy fortunes. I deny thee now
A farther range than suits my jealous mood;
And I shall guard thee well, and watch thy steps,
And check thee when thou trippest. On thy paths,
My slaves, that never close the eye, attend,
And, though thou seest them not----
I see them not !--
Thou dost forget my nature and my power;--
Let me but wave my hand thus, with a will!--
What call you this blear imp?
Ha! thou base whelp?
Did I not warn thee?--wherefore didst thou lurk,
Thus nigh, to feel her spells?--but thou shalt learn.
Shall I not have obedience where I rule?
Ho! Runa! Merla! take this sodden slave
And bind him to his pits against the rock,
Till midnight--let the scourge be well applied,
While his shrieks wake the drowsy mariner,
Filling his head with storms, for which they make
Fit music, and foretell!
Master, oh, spare!
The day grows dark, and the night rushes on,
Long ere the accustomed hour. The cruel scourge
Will torture, and the wrath upon the wave,
Will dash me into madness 'gainst the rocks.
Take him hence! away!
Spare me,--'twas my zeal
To serve thee, that o'erstepp'd. But pardon now,
I err not thus again. Be pitiful!
Merla doth own for me a silent grudge,
And will outstretch thy order. He will bind
Both hands and feet, and, with a double thong,
Will tear my flesh, then mock me with keen gibes,
Until I faint, while the cold cavern waves
Do creep about and wrap me!
Not in vain:
Though he doth punish thee as thou hast said,
Thou shalt not perish. Hence with him. Ye stand
As if ye did delight in his discourse,
Insolent with himself.
Oh! thou art stern--
A tyrant 'gainst all nature, that will spurn
The kneeling wretch, but for excess of zeal
Doing thy bidding truly.
'Tis for thee
I punish him, fair Atalant.
Hath he not hung too closely on thy steps,
Intrusive, watching thee most narrowly
Beyond my will? Shalt thou not be secure
From what offends thee?
'Tis thou offend'st me!
Make me secure from thee, and 'gainst thy slave
I shall have instant remedy.
Ay, ever !--while the light lasts of my life,
Thought, feeling, best affection. 'Tis for me
That thou wouldst punish him?--then set him free;--
The wrong that he has done is done to me,
And I forgive it him.
It fits thee well,
This ready spirit of mercy which conceives,
And grants the boon ere spoken. Not so me,
'Twere a poor state, and brief the power, if thus,
O'er-zealous though it be, each slave should leap,
His bound unchasten'd. Hence with him, away!
The scourge shall lessen his o'er-ready zeal,
And midnight seas, and colds, and biting airs
Shall teach him penitence.
Thou cruel king!
Hadst thou by other qualities of grace
Master'd the heart that feels for thee but scorn,
This merciless act of thine had set it free;
Had robb'd it of persuasion of thy worth
In every office; and, from virtuous meed,
Had pluck'd all fair deserving, that had else
Been yielded by just tribute.
Thou wrong'st me;--
And chid'st too harshly the o'ercoming sway,
Which keeps dominion safe; and makes it strong.
Wouldst thou not master? Is the woman heart
Unfriendly to the pleasant tastes of power?
I know thee better,--better know thy sex--
Esteem thee as the rest,--born with the love
Of measureless rule,--the will to reach afar,
Plucking down station, putting strength aside,
Till, in the midst, alone, o'er all thou stand'st,
All fearing, all adoring!
How thou soar'st!
And this thy aim, how fruitlessly thy rule
Is wasted on the wretched slave that cowers,
Hopeless and still submissive, to his lord.
Onesimarchus, I despise thee more,
That I have seen thee in the wid'st extent
Of thy dominion.
'Tis well! But thou shalt feel,--
So shalt thou better know,--how great the power
Thou mock'st at, in thy ignorance and pride!
And though, unless by wanton will of thine,
I may not gain possession of thy form,
Yet shall I so constrain thee by my arts,
So work upon thy weakness--so forbid
All bent of inclination,--all desire,--
Curtailing every thought that does not tend
To the fierce satisfaction of my want,--
That thou shalt yield thyself in very dread,
Though thy heart loathe me in its secret mood,
And every sense grow outraged at the fate
To which thou still submit'st.
Oh! shallow slave!
This is thy precious scheme! And there thou stand'st,
With thy red gloating eye stretch'd 'yond its sphere,
Glaring with foul and fiend imaginings--
Thy lip, that quivers with voluptuous rage,
Thicken'd with vicious fury,--thy scant brows,
Retreating wide and back, with wool o'erhung,
That links thee with the sooty African
Who wallows in thy worship;--there thou stand'st,
Blinded with beastly hope, that thou canst will
A spirit so pure as mine to leave its sphere,
And come, untended and unlighted, down,
From its bright mansions, to thy pool and cave!
Till now, my thought had been that, with thy power,
There was a sense to give it dignity,
And marshal thy gross attributes with state
Into considerate order. But not now,--
When I look on thee, so incapable,--
So wanting in that art, which, when it lacks,
Strength is a toiling giant up the hills
That never wins the summit--all my hate
Subsides into a feeling less than scorn,
Which cannot yet be pity. Prithee, go,--
Thou dost but move me to unseemly mirth,
Which yet I would not.
Nay! give it vent and words!
Thy wit is lively; thou hast eloquence;
I feel that thou might'st chafe me, were it not
That there will be a season too for me,
When I may answer thee.
What canst thou more?
Thou hast done all in stealing me away
From mine own kingdom with thy felon arts:
And this shall find its punishment ere long,
For, even now, in Mergevan, my town,
I do, by precious instincts, see the array
Of thousands, whom my brothers, to the war,
Will haste with meet decision. Thou, methinks,
Hast proved their arms before;--a little while,
The proofs shall be renew'd,--and what shall then
Be thy fond refuge, when their mighty powers
Descend on thee to battle?
Let them come!
I shall be ready then--am ready now!
Thou speak'st with a rare confidence, but know,
I took thee not, thus boldly, from thy realms,
Till I had meetly, with commission'd force,
Prepared for all thy battles. Thou forget'st
The strength I bring--the powers that, in a trice,
From farthest ocean I can call at once,
Where the deep thickens to a bed of reeds;
And from the kings that o'er the whirlpools sway,
Gather'd to my allegiance, by a blast
Upon the shell I bear within my hand.
Thou seem'st to have forgotten too, methinks,
That, by my single arm, thy mother's first,
And thy own brother, fiercest of them all,
Fell, like an infant, impotent, o'erthrown!
What though I lost the conflict, did ye gain?
Was not your city of the rocks destroy'd
By the wild waves, which, in my wanton mood,
O'erwent and left them prostrate;--while thyself,
An infant then, rocked in a purple shell,
'Twixt two obedient billows, scarce preserved,
Wast borne away, affrighted, in the arms
Of thy most humble follower. This, methinks,
Thy memory lacks, and I repeat it thee,
Not for the glory of mine own exploit,
But to remind me of the groundless hope
On which thou build'st for safety.
It is well!
Thou hast chosen for thy wooing a fit style,
And most judicious, when that thou relat'st
Thy bloody traffic with thyself and mine.
Thyself hast moved me to 't.
I blame thee not,
Rude monster, for the evil thou hast done,
And sought beyond thy utmost power to do!
'Tis in thy nature. There is on thy front
The character of the beast. Thy savage eye,
Fix'd in thy bloated and unmeasured face,
From which it glares like some red, baleful star,
Upon a dismal, dusk, unspeaking blank,--
Hath mark'd thee strongly. Labor as thou mayst--
Speak, like thy shell, in music--let thy words
Be like the honey dews, that, on the rocks,
Nursed in the hollows, nightly fall from heaven,
A solace for the storm-bird and the gull,--
Yet art thou fatal to the spells thou hast,
And bafflest thine own art. Thou canst not change;
The beast is high o'er all, a monstrous mock,
In contradiction of itself and strength--
So that the very sweets that thou mayst own
Grow poisonous in thy use.
Oh, thou dost well,
And wisely, urging me to anger thus,
Till thou dost dissipate that kindly sense,
At variance with my spirit, which my love,
Bids live in thy behalf. Dost thou not fear,
That, vex'd by thy sharp mock and wanton speech,
My love shall grow to hatred?
Be it so!
I heed thee not--thy anger scorn, not fear;
Thou art of those, being the foe to truth,
That are, when friendliest, most inimical,--
And dost most harm in doing seeming good,
And art most hateful, most injurious,
When most professing love! I fear thee not,--
Though by an active cunning--and yet less,
By active cunning than mine own neglect,--
Gaining the advance upon us, thou hast made
A prisoner and dire enemy of one,
Who, in another chance, and other time,
Had never made so little of her thought,
To waste it on thee.
Wilt thou nothing, then,
To gain thy freedom? Thou wilt surely smile,
Look pleased in some small sort, and speak him well,
Whose power alone can free thee.
Trust not that!
I shall be free by other means, and soon!
I barter not my grace for mine own right;--
Lest that the gift, misused, grow valueless!--
Thou hast no boon in all thy store and might
Which I can give thee thanks for. In myself
The means of freedom rest.
Ha! in herself!
I snatch'd from her the powerful wand which made
The elements do her bidding. What remains?
A power, which as it teaches me to know
The secret thought thou speak'st not, cannot be
Wrench'd from my firm possession.
We shall see!
Thy instincts may declare my thought, but cannot
Avail to give thee freedom. All in vain
Thy hope, whether within thyself it be,
Or in the armies which thy brothers raise--
Here, powerless in the conflict, useless all;--
For, in the air, I've thrown a circling spell,
Borrow'd from night and silence,--which, being gross,
Far grosser than the elements which make
Your finer tempers, ye may not withstand!
This will resist them! Into this; who comes,
Not fitted like ourselves to meet its power,
Blinded and shorn of strength, falls feebly down,
And straight is thrall'd forever. All around
Our island limit, where the ocean breaks,
This element is scattered;--like a wall,
Shutting out all invasion,--closing all,
Within, from commerce with the realm without!
Thus art thou girdled now. Denied thy wand--
Which, in yon rock, within a mystic frame,
Moulded by midnight spells, in halls where rule
Thousands of spirits dethroned, I have encased
And seal'd with magic, and the mighty word
Given me at creation as a spell,
That consummates my will;--thou canst not break
The narrow circle of thy prison bound,
And taste the finer element, whose breath
Might bring thee to thy power.
Thy prudence well
Hath counselled thee of dangers thou must dread--
Dangers best studied in thy strong defence
And wily combinations. But thy art
Is shallow like thy power. A little while,
Watch as thou mayst, the wand is mine again,
And whatsoe'er its faculty, be sure
It shall be raised against thee. Thou shalt be
O'erthrown when most secure; and, like the bird,
Slain by its stronger fellow, as thou saw'st
Upon the morn I fell thy prisoner,
Even from thy topmost pinnacle struck down,
Thy fall shall mate thy arrogance of flight,
Beneath the lowest, low. How should my soul,
Strong among giant spirits, hark or heed
Thy profferings or thy threats? What canst thou do
To bend my purer nature unto thine,
In base extremity, unless I yield,
Wanton, and shorn of the true woman strength,--
Which finds best nutriment in innocence,
And lives mature in its own delicate essence,
A power in due degree with chastity,--
To meet thy brutal want and foul desire,
Thou that art foulest! Thou hast 'vantage won,
And when I slept thou waked'st; and I now,
For a brief season, suffer that I slept,--
That the condition of all negligence,--
When, with a subtle and dishonest foe,
Such as thou art, in certain neighborhood,
We should have watch'd with armament prepared,
And every weapon bright, and high rock lit,
Kindled with sea-spar into ruddiness!
So hadst thou shrunk away, scared by the blaze,
Cowering, with backward terror, till the sun,
Thy nature's dread, thy great antipathy,
Leaping from off his billowy bed at morn,
No cloud about his brow, and strong from sleep,
Drives thee, with glittering shafts that never fail,
Blinded and bellowing to thy marshy gulfs.
Dost thou exult, and is my fate so sure,--
And shalt thou have thy liberty so soon,
As thou dost fancy? Then, a gentler speech
Had better graced thy lips as conqueror,
Over the feeble foe thou canst not fear.
But let me win thee to some fair constraint
Of seeming amnesty. A truce awhile,
To this so keen and profitless retort,
Which keeps us thus asunder. Let us each
Heed reason from the other. Thou hast said,
With hope 'yond expectation, that thou look'st
For soon and certain help. I see not this
Present or in far prospect; nor beyond,
In the imperfect future, can I frame
The aid thou look'st for from thy tribute realms.
These things affright me not as once before,--
My kingdom as it is, all well prepared
To keep its own, and conquer, right or wrong.
Its barriers shut out hope from thee, unless
Thou swerv'st my settled feeling, which thou mayst
By seasonable yielding--so shall both
Our anxious purpose win;--thy freedom thou,
And I, the sweet accomplishment of that
Which flames desire within me! Well I know
My power can go no farther than thou will'st,
In this so dear condition,--but thou art,
My prisoner still--and that may move thy wish,
Not capable of liberty unless
My will shall break thy fetters. Hear me then,
Since this our opposition.
Speak! I hear!
Become my bride,--nay, patiently!--smile not--
My queen, if better lists thee. On my throne,--
Thou hast beheld its state,--of emeralds made,
Each one a crowning and a marvellous gem,
Set round the spacious bosom of a shell
Torn from a fierce sea-monster--one who bore
The miracled wonder on his glittering back,
And battled for it as became its worth,
Nor lost it ere his life;--thy hand shall wield,--
Fit hand for such a rule!--a sceptred wand,
Pluck'd from an ocean cave of farthest Ind,
By ancient giants held,--a pillar'd spire,
Of holiest sapphire, which at evening burns
Deeper than ever sunlight, and around
Lights up the sable waters many a league,
From sea to shore, till the scared 'habitants
Fly to their cover in the wood, nor dream
How sportive is the sway of that Sea-Queen,
Who rides the waves and makes them smile by night.
Oh! wonderful! most wonderful!
But let me not be anger'd. Hear me still.--
These are but shown thee to declare the fruit,
The effect, perchance, but not the source of might,
So fertile as is mine. But thou shalt know,
That, of the full division of these seas,
One part of which thou hold'st, the great'st is mine;
My realm the wid'st; and, of the numerous powers
That hold dominion in these provinces,
Most are to me as tributary bound,
Sworn to my bidding, subject to my will.
Compell'd for peace and war! These, if I bid,
I gather such array, as leaves my power
Unmatchable by all the tribes that swarm
Thy cities, when the starlight wakes the dance.
I know not that! The kingdom which I hold
Though in extent less spacious, is not less
Proportion'd to the incidents of war!
Thou hast wide realm of sea, but scatter'd tribes;
Canst gambol hugely when the waves are smooth,
With uncouth legions; but when sounds the gong,
Struck sharply on our headlands, they go down,
Sudden, in search of shadowing slime and reeds,
Forgetting all their state and mocking thine,
Indifferent where they hide. Thou mayst o'ercome
The sluggish monster, that, upon the deep,
Slumbers at noonday,--winning, with his life
The useless glitter of his cumbrous shell;--
But, for becoming enemy, thou hast
But little armament of serious force,
Save, as I said, in fraud and stratagem.
Wouldst thou more?
Oh! say thy thought!
Meetly indulgent for a captive maid.--
I will proceed, and leave thee to decide,
Whether, a free and queenly mistress, thou
Ascend'st a monarch's throne and shar'st his rule,
Strong in sustaining majesty and pride,
Or, vainly chafing at thy prison bar,
Rav'st for the freedom that but mocks thy sight,
In gleams of blessed sky, or sudden breath
Of zephyr from the seas, or glimpse of wing,
Lustrous in noonday sunlight, that thou see'st
Disparting the white clouds!
Go on! Go on!
Three princely cities own my single rule,--
Hamlets unnumber'd,--homes that, scatter'd wide,
Hath each a mighty circle for a court,
Might clasp your utter empire. Plain and cave
Are thus made rich in dwellings for a tribe.
Each rock hath its high palace. Not a wave
Spans its receding billow but o'erswims
Some golden habitation; where the light,
A mitigated splendor, like the moon,
Without its chill and solitude, comes down
From empires where a thousand suns abide,
Struggling with rival splendors to inflame
A thousand realms like ours. There, subtle gems,
With glories such as starlight flings on earth,
Adorn the innoxious serpents, that for aye
Through the long hours, with toil that mocks fatigue,
Nightly replenishing their founts of light,
Trail through the giant groves, and meet in vales
Whose lavish wealth, in absence of the sun,
Still recompense his beams. There shalt thou see
Rocks, in their own gifts marvellous, at stroke
Of wondrous masters, spring to palaces;
And, at a word, as thou hast cause to know,
Fair islands, flush with flowers, and rich in airs
Of most persuasive odor, break the deeps,
And gather in the sunlight. And again,
Even at the will of him whose sovereign power
Thou mock'st at in thy mood, evanishing,
Forget they had existence;--cheating thus
The gaze of simple mariner, who dreams
That, towards evening, he beholds the land
And cries it to his fellows,--who straight cheer
The hungering hope within them, while they spread
The broad and yellow sail, and urge their prows,
To find at last,--so wills my cunning art--
Some hazy cloud, that hangs with mocking skirts
Where slept the wooing land as night came down.
Ay, thou art all a cheat! 'Tis like thyself
To mock the weary heart, and still to vex
The sick soul's expectation. But thy power,
As thou describ'st it in thy fairest speech,
And most imploring aspect, moves not me,
And wins me not in wonder or in love.
The simple mariner who needs the barque,
Which, in their reckless mood, the waves may wreck,
And wanton winds destroy, affords, methinks,
But little trophy, with his bleaching bones,
On desert sands, and isles beyond thy gulf,
To him who conquers thus, even by a will,
Without the joy of conflict. Spare, I pray,
Thy farther story. Breathe, and let me breathe,
Some purer air than that which from thy lips
Assails each wholesome sense with sickliness.
Wilt thou not hear me?
Can I else than hear,
Close girt as my poor fortunes find me now?
Wer't in my will, thou shouldst play orator
To things of thy own fashion, not to me!
Thy jewel-headed serpents, the huge beast
Thou rid'st to war, and whom, when met by foes
Thou canst not baffle here, thou send'st to land,
To trample down the cities of the tribes
That only wet their feet within thy waves,
To bring down ruin on them. Go to these,
And tell them of thy prowess and thy wealth!--
Nor these, nor thee I heed, and would not hear.
Thou bind'st thy fetters faster with each word !--
But ho!--That signal breaks my farther speech.
Here are new captives. Prone upon our isle
Comes some adventurous barque that must be stay'd,
And punish'd for its crime. We must not have
Thy presence mock'd with such vile things of earth,
That know not of the rarest beautiful,
Such as adorns thy virtues--makes thy form
Itself a virtue of the beautiful,
That spells all best affections at a glance,
And makes them slaves forever. I must speed
And save thee from these wretches, who shall taste
That power which thou defy'st. But now look forth,
And see the great ship shatter'd into foam;
Fierce, rending wings among its cloud broad vans,
And mounting billows darting up its sides
To drag it down to ruin. Lend thine ear
To the wild music of men's cries;--their shrieks
That the storm mocks, and the ascending seas
Stifle in their own murmurs!--It will need,
Fair Atalant, I leave thee:--yet, ere day
Hath fully, in the chambers of the deep,
Ta'en off his pinions;--ere this gentle eve,
With eyes of ever-dropping dews, hath shut
The sweet unmurmuring flowers,--and bade the night
Summon upon her realm the spirit airs
That all subdue to silence--the voiced things
Of myriad elements and agencies,
That breathe beneath the moon--I shall return
To seek thee with a hope;--ah! not in vain,--
Eager for fitting answer to that prayer
That else must be the stern authority
Of will that breaks resistance. Till that hour,
Thou hast for calm reflection;--let it teach
A sweet response of sympathy to mine,
And love as yielding soft as mine is fond--
Else, let thy fear----
Thou know'st I have no fear!
Get thee hence, monster, to thy work of dread,
Since prayer may never move thee. Thou'st no art
To work upon my terrors. My spirit is made
Of essence far more confident than thine.
Rather thou tremble, that, as I am pure,--
For so the ruler that we all obey
Hath will'd it--and most haply will'd it too--
I may command to use the spirits who rule
O'er the unclouded seasons--those who glide,
Through the illumined mansions of the night,
Teaching the stars their watches--those who sway,
With melodies of power, all elements--
And of the zephyr from the south and west,
The voice that comes with morning, and declares
The hour when day shall droop,--can call a spell
To dissipate the darkness, and dispart
Thy blackest shapes of storm.
When thou art free!
Alas! that I were free,--then should'st thou feel,
And fly, and learn to spare!
Now, I despise
And, as you speak their agencies, defy
The entire realm of air, the stars, and all,--
Your spirit of the south and of the west,
Your voice of night and morning, and their spells;--
Your tiny tribes, your coral queen--the hosts,
Myriads of lesser power and feebler wing,
That make your choice dominion--all I scorn!
And, but that mine own want would have thee grace
With milder seeming this same prayer of mine,
I should devote thee, heedless of the youth,
The glory and the beauty of thy form,--
Which, to mine eye, foul as you deem its make,
Stands up a rich perfection, born to shine,
In any world of loveliness, the first--
To the same ruin and destruction sure
Thou hold'st for the most hateful enemy.
I love thee not to pleasure thee, or give
A satisfaction craved. I please myself,
And nothing care for others. I play not
The wary hypocrite, but speak my thought,--
My will, even as it rises to my thought;--
Nor seek I for thy love, but only seek
For such equivalent as may suffice,
In love's own absence, my enamored sense.
Thou hear'st me?--and thou know'st me! It is well!
Be wise while thou art wary. I depart.
Ay, go, thou loathsome! Thou hast fill'd the air
With foulness, and my breath is scarce more free
Than the poor form thou hast fetter'd by thy fraud!
Thou, as thy menace, from my thought depart:
I scorn thee and defy thy utmost power!
Thou hast no art to win me to thy will,
And, until I, forgetful of myself,
Do so declare me, thou canst never bend
My spirit to thy purpose. I behold,--
Though in what shape it come I may not see,--
My liberation sure. Awhile, awhile!
Sweet patience in my circumscribed bound,
Give me thy succor. Ere the moon shall soar
Thrice from her saffron chamber--ere the winds,
Sporting thrice round the red embodied day
Shall win him into smiles with melodies--
And, ere the wing'd stars, through the misty vault,
Gleam thrice upon the troubles of the night--
I shall be free this monster's pestilence.
Come hither to me, Nea. Thou, at least,
Art spared me, and he knows not--shallow king!
That knows not his own power, and little dreams,
Of captive but the one. Hither to me,
And let my sad eyes freshen with the sight,
The picture of the gentler clime and race,
In thy perfections, damsel. Wake thy shell,
And with a sweet song from its purple depths,
Call up the happier fancies that preside
O'er the dear hopes we see not. Let me lose
The turbulent thought within me!
Thy sweetest song, my Nea,--
Such as he sings, the spirit of the shell,
That brooding in his billows never sleeps,
For longing of his home, and still who hears
Its voices, breathing ever sighs of love,
In echo to his own, by ocean's marge,
Telling of purple islets in the deep,
Where first he won his wings and whence his voice.
SONG OF THE SHELL-SPIRIT.
I am of the sprites of ocean,
Dweller there, the gentlest one,
And I take my airy motion,
When the day is done;
It is mine, the voice that rouses
All the lovely tribes of sea,
From their tiny coral houses,
Glad to wake with me.
When the sun, in ocean sinking,
Leaves to fairy power the earth,
When the night stars, slowly winking,
Bid the winds have birth:
Gently o'er the waters stealing,
Mine's the song that sweetly flies
Wooing to one common feeling
Ocean, earth, and skies.
Loveliest of the zephyr's daughters,
Born to breathe in bloom and shine,
I can still the angry waters
With a breath of mine.
Not a stronger spirit rideth
O'er the rolling waves than I;
Not a lovelier shape abideth
'Neath the tropic sky.
Sweet is the air thou sing'st! Ah! would 'twere true!
Would that our spirit of the shell had power,
Such as thou brag'st of ;--it were easy then,
Flung by our billows on this sultry isle,
To conjure up a service at his wings,
Might give us present freedom. Thou hast themes,
Might better suit our state than this, which mocks
Our hearts' best wishes. One of these, my girl,--
Some ditty of old romance, such as our realm--
A spacious province, where the wand'ring thought
And wilder'd fancy, erring, may be lost--
Owns without limit. Thou canst meetly sing
Of bearded-white Ogrear, the giant king,
Who, with the music of his magic horn,
Subdued, and to his pastures midst the rocks,
Guided the monster first, which, in itself,
Is a huge mountain, rolling on the deeps,
Unconscious of his load, though on his back,
Rode the old wizard's tribe--his giant sons
And daughters, an unnumbered family,
That sung in concert to the old man's horn,
Until the monster, drowsing in his path,
Yielded himself, as fast fix'd as an isle,
Through the long summer's day. This were a theme,
Might make us half forgetful that we weep
As fettered as was he. And other themes,--
The gloom that hangs above the prison-house,
Might challenge something from thy memory,
More kindred to the touch of mournful thoughts.
Let thy song teach us of the coming hour,--
Sad time,--when on the perillous journey bent,
We pass the untravell'd valley, till we find,
That other province of delay,--that home,
Of temporary refuge, dark or bright,
As suited to the service we have done,
In past conditions;--other seas, perchance,
Unvex'd by contact with rebellious power,
Such as offends us here;--a happy realm,
Whose provinces are lit by countless smiles,
From the benignant presence of a God,
Whose will is born of love!--or, saddest thought,
Descending from our grade, in baser shape,
Doom'd in the mansions of sea-weed to dwell,
Thence only darting, under cruel impulse,
And chasing, with a terrible agony,
The wild and staring mariner, grown weak,
And hopeless of the shore, his straining balls
Shall never more encounter.
None of these!--
Too sad thy fortunes now for themes so sad.--
But I would rather from my memory call,
Some of those ditties sung in happier days,
Which thou hast bid me thrice and thrice repeat,
And ever with the tear within thine eye,
Which spoke thy pleasure--when, upon the close,
Thou didst, unconscious, with mine own chime in
The murmurs of thy melancholy voice,
Till the vex'd waters, wroth with overflow,
Subdued their sullen crests, in service rapt,
And, at thy feet, in murmurs like thine own,
Grew captive to our song. There is one strain
Methinks might glad thine ear, of Coraline--
One of those gentle damsels of the groves,
Whom sometimes we see sporting on the isles,
Amidst the flowers, when first upon the sky
The moon's bright sickle glows. She taught it me;--
It tells of love, and how they love, and speaks
So truly of the passion, that meseems,
It must have first been wrought within our cells,
And borrowed by these warblers of the wood.
Sing, if it speaks of love. Such song, methinks,
Must only make more hateful our constraint,
Upon this loathsome isle. I hearken thee.
SONG OF CORALINE.
Be at my side when the winds are awaking,
Each from his cave, in the depths of the night;
Fly to our groves, till the daylight comes breaking,
Fresh from the east with his tremulous light.
When the stars peer out in the blue deeps of even,
When the crowd is at rest, and the moon soars apace,
Silent and sad, through the watches of heaven,
Be thou, beloved, at the love-hallow'd place:
Come in thy beauty and lightness,
Bright-eyed and free-footed, oh! dearest one, come,
Filling the dark wood with brightness
And crowning the green hill with bloom;--
Such bloom--the heart-chosen for thousand sweet groves,
As is dear to the wood-nymphs and born of their loves.
In the spirit of beauty, bewitchingly tender,
Fly to my bosom, beloved of my heart;
Thy lip bearing sweetness, thine eye giving splendor,
Thy smile shedding rapture wherever thou art;
And while the pale moonlight is round and above thee,
While the leaves twinkle soft in the breeze o'er thy
Hear, dearest rose of my heart, how I love thee,
And treasure, sweet spirit, my vow.
Come! while the night-gems are glowing,
Each in his orb, over forest and sea,
Less glory, though bright in their beauty, bestowing
Than that which now hangs about thee.
Fly to me, blest, in this gentlest of hours,
Outshining the planets, outblooming the flowers.
Thy song delights me not--nay, not thy song
That fails, the softness of thy linked words,
Or melody of thy music;--in my heart,
Lies the defect of sweetness--which comes not
To take the shadow from our prison-house.
It is the captive's spirit that complains,
Would I could cheer thee, mistress.
Thou shalt, my Nea.--Speed thee round this isle,
And mark what thou behold'st. 'Tis not in thee
To shrink from contact with the heavy earth,
Its damp and vapor. But to us, who are
Wrought of more delicate matter, all is gross
That yields this monster tribute.
We've some range,
Sweet mistress! and I prithee wend with me,
As near we may, the borders of the sea,
Looking towards our province. Better airs
Methinks, will come to cheer us into smiles,
From waters that we loved; and newer hopes,
As we look out upon the waste beyond,
Will freshen us with strength. Along the sea,
Some little range is left us. There we may
Call up sweet fancies from our dreams of hope,
And feel the wayward spirit wake to life,
Surveying the blue waters and our home!
I'll go with thee! I pine for the sweet airs
Of my own Mergevan.
They'll seek us out,
With loving consciousness of that we seek.
ACT II.--SCENE I.
It is a gallant vessel, and it bends,
To the new islet of Onesimarch;--
That bigot and most brutal arbiter
Of eighty leagues of ocean. He hath rear'd,
In the past day, these undetected rocks,
Whose subtle currents, by his strategy,
Will suck the unconscious vessel to the snare;
Baffling the untutor'd mariner, whose skill
Might vainly hope escape, within the jaws
Of this dread artifice. Now, in the deep,
Will I dispose myself; and, by my art,
Conceal'd in folding billows, in the guise
Of green-hair'd maid of the waters, with a song
Still gently studied to invade his sense,
Will teach him of the danger he may 'scape
By seasonable flight. A human voice
'Tis mine to mingle with these ocean tones.
And, by a sweet mysterious sympathy,
That ever still its benefit declares
To the unslumb'ring instinct, will I teach
The error of his prow. Haply, by this,
His way he may regain, and newly trim
His prone and headlong sail, that, steering thus,
Must soon encounter with the treacherous rocks,
That hunger for their prey. And, to my wish
Of swift concealment from his eager sight,
A sudden cloud is spreading o'er yon heap
Of crested waters. There will I imbed
My many folds of form, while, with my voice,
I frame a music for this mariner,
Not to beguile him with fresh fantasies,
But wake him to the peril in his path.
I have been drowsing sure,--yet what a dream,
So strange to earth, so natural to romance;--
And such wild music;--hark!--it comes again.
SONG OF THE ZEPHYR-SPIRIT.
I have come from the deeps where the sea-maiden twines,
In her bowers of amber, her garlands of shells;
For a captive like thee, in her chamber she pines,
And weaves for thy coming the subtlest of spells;
She has breathed on the harpstring that sounds in her cave,
And the strain as it rose hath been murmur'd for thee;
She would win thee from earth for her home in the wave,
And her couch, in the coral grove, deep in the sea.
Thou hast dream'd in thy boyhood of sea-circled bowers,
Where all may be found that is joyous and bright,--
Where life is a frolic through fancies and flowers,
And the soul lives in dreams of a lasting delight!
Wouldst thou win what thy fancies have taught to thy heart?
Wouldst thou dwell with the maiden now pining for thee?
Flee away from the cares of the earth, and depart
For her mansions of coral, far down in the sea.
Her charms will beguile thee when noonday is nigh,
The song of her nymphs shall persuade thee to sleep,
She will watch o'er thy couch as the storm hurries by,
Nor suffer the sea-snake beside thee to creep;
But still with a charm which is born of the hours
Her love shall implore thee to bliss ever free;
Thou wilt rove with delight through her crystalline bowers,
And sleep without care in her home of the sea.
Most sweet indeed, but something in the spell
Proclaims it cold. Even were the precious love
Such as this music speaks of, 'twere enough
To palsy passion in the human heart,
And make its fancies fail.--My Isabel.
What wraps you thus, sweet brother? Why so sad,
When thus so trimly speeds our swanlike bark
O'er the smooth waters? But a few days more,
We tread the lovely island that we seek,
Whose bowers of beauty and eternal spring
Recall the first sweet garden of our race,
Before it knew the serpent. Dost thou sadden,
That thus we near those regions? Art thou sick,
Dear brother, that such vague abstraction creeps
Over your eyes, that seem as 'twere in search
For airy speculations in the deep?
Thou'rt right!--An airy speculation sure,
Since I can nothing see to speak for it,
And tell me whence it comes.
What is't thou mean'st?
A moment,--stay! Now, as I live, I heard it
Steal by me, as the murmurs of a lute
From thy own lattice, Isabel.
What is it that thou speak'st of?
A strain of song,--
That crept along the waters from afar,
Softly at first, but growing as it came
To an embodied strength of harmony,
That spoke to all my joys. It bore a tone
Slight as a spirit's whisper, born of love
In aspiration,--such as innocent youth
Acknowledges at first, ere yet the world
Hath school'd it through its sorrows to caprice.
'Twas like thy own sweet music, Isabel,
When out among our Andalusian hills,
We play'd the dusk Morisco for a while,
Grown wanton in the moonlight with the flowers
That seem'd to sing us back. Oh! thou shouldst hear,
To sadden with its sweetness.
Thou hast dream'd!
Whence should such music come?
Ay! whence indeed,
But from some green-hair'd maiden of the deep,
As still our legends tell us such there be,
That, sitting on the edge of lonely rocks,
Midway in ocean, loose their flowing locks,
And, with strange songs, discoursing to the waves,
Subdue their crests to service.
As the tale
Of Nicuesa pictures. Wouldst thou hear?
Sing it, my Isabel.
'Tis something like
Thy fancy,--nay, has been the making of 't,
While thou wert dreaming. But thou didst not dream.
'Mong Lucayo's isles and waters,
Leaping to the evening light,
Dance the moonlight's silver daughters--
Tresses streaming, glances gleaming,
Ever beautiful and bright.
And their wild and mellow voices,
Still to hear along the deep,
Every brooding star rejoices,
While the billow, on its pillow
Lull'd to silence, sinks to sleep.
Yet they wake a song of sorrow,
Those sweet voices of the night;
Still from grief a gift they borrow,
And hearts shiver, as they quiver
With a wild and sad delight.
'Tis the wail for life they waken
By Samana's lonely shore;
With the tempest it is shaken,
The wide ocean is in motion,
And the song is heard no more.
But the gallant bark comes sailing,
At her prow the chieftain stands;
He hath heard the tender wailing--
It delights him--it invites him
To the joys of other lands.
Bright the moonlight round and o'er him,
And, oh! see, a picture lies
In the yielding waves before him,--
Woman smiling, still beguiling
From the depths of wondrous eyes.
White arms toss above the waters,
Pleading murmurs fill his ears,
And the Queen of Ocean's daughters,
Heart alluring, love assuring,
Wins him down with tears.
On, the good ship speeds without him,
By Samana's lonely shore;
They have wound their arms about him,
In the water's--ocean's daughters
Sadly singing as before.
Such his song,
And, with the ocean murmur in thy ears,
Thy fancy, in thy dream, hath made it thine.
I did not sleep or dream, my Isabel;--
I heard this wondrous music, even now,
When first I summon'd thee. I grant it strange
That it should syllable to familiar sound,
Boyhood's first fancies, of fair isles that lie
In farthest depths of ocean,--jewell'd isles
Boundless in but imaginable spoils,
Such as boy-visions only can conceive
And boyhood's faith admit.
And still thou dream'st!--
Thy boyhood's legends and thy boyhood's faith,
Grown fresh beneath the force of circumstance,
And the wild fancies of this foreign world,
Still carry thee away,--till thou forget'st,--
As still the wisest may,--the difference
'Twixt those two worlds,--the one where nature toils,
The other she but dreams of.
'Twas no dream!
It comes again! Now hark thee, Isabel--
It is no murmur of the deep thou hear'st!
It hath a voice not human,--not unlike--
And sings, as still a spirit might sing, that wills
To do humanity service. Hark!
Yet I hear nothing.
Sure, I did not dream!
'Twas like the zephyr through a bed of reeds
Sighing as 'twere at cheerlessness of home,
In the approach of winter.
Oh! no more!--
Thou art too led astray by idle thoughts,
Dear Leon;--dost possess thee of the hues,
Shed by the passing cloud, and mak'st thy heart,
Still the abiding place of hopeless fancies
That waste thy strength of will. Thou art too prone
To these wild speculations.
Hear it now!
My fancy trick'd me not,--my sense was true,--
It comes again, far off, and very fine,
As the first birth 'twixt silence and his dame,
The mother of the voice. Now, Isabel,--
Thine ears are traitors if they do not feel
That music as it sweeps by us but now.
I hear a murmur truly, but so slight--
A breath of the wind might make it, or a sail
Art silenced? It is there!
In the billow before thee
My form is conceal'd--
In the breath that comes o'er thee
My thought is reveal'd--
Strown thickly beneath me
The coral rocks grow,
And the waves that enwreath me,
Are working thee woe.
Didst hear it, Isabel?
It spoke, methought,
Of peril from the rocks that near us grow.
It did, but idly! Here can lurk no rocks
For, by the chart which now before us lies,
Thy own unpractised eye may well discern
The wide extent of the ocean--shoreless all;
The land, for many a league, to th' westward hangs,
And not a point beside it.
Should come this voice of warning?
From the deep:
It hath its demons as the earth and air,
All tributaries to the master-fiend
That sets their springs in motion. This is one,
That, doubting to mislead us, plants this wile,
So to divert our course, that we may strike
The very rocks he fain would warn us from.
A subtle sprite--and, now I think of it,
Dost thou remember the old story told
By Diaz Ortis, the lame mariner,
Of an adventure in the Indian seas,
Where he made one with John of Portugal,--
Touching a woman of the ocean wave
That swam beside the barque and sang strange songs
Of riches in the waters;--with a speech
So winning on the senses, that the crew
Grew all infected with the melody,
And, but for a good father of the church
Who made the sign of the cross and offer'd up
Befitting prayer, which drove the fiend away,
They had been tempted by her cunning voice
To leap into the ocean.
I do, I do!
And, at the time, I do remember me,
I made much mirth of the extravagant tale,
As a deceit of the reason;--the old man
Being in his second childhood, and at fits,
As wild, in other histories, as in this.
I never more shall mock at marvellous things;
Such strange conceits hath after time found true,
That once were themes for jest. I shall not smile
At the most monstrous legend.
Nor will I!--
To any tale of foreign wonderment,
I shall bestow mine ear nor wonder more;
And every image that my childhood bred,
In vagrant dreams of fancy, I shall look,
To find, without rebuke, my sense approve.
Thus, like a little island of the deep,
Girdled by perilous seas, and all unknown
To prows of venture, may be yon same cloud
Specking, with fleecy bosom, the blue sky,
Lit by the rising moon. There, we may dream,
And find no censure in an after day,
Throng the assembled fairies, perch'd on beams,
And riding on their way triumphantly.
There gather the coy spirits. Many a fay,
Roving the silver sands of that same isle,
Floating in azure ether, plumes her wing
Of ever-frolicsome fancy, and pursues--
While myriads like herself, do watch the chase--
Some truant sylph, through the infinitude
Of their uncircumscribed and rich domain.
There sport they through the night, with mimicry
Of strife and battle,--striking their tiny shields
And gathering into combat; meeting fierce,
With lip compress'd, and spear aloft, and eye
Glaring with desperate purpose in the fight;--
Then sudden--in a moment all their wrath
Mellow'd to friendly terms of courtesy--
Throwing aside the dread array and link'd,
Each, in his foe's embrace. Then comes the dance,
The grateful route, the wild and musical pomp,
The long procession o'er fantastic realms
Of cloud and moonbeam, through th' enamor'd night,
Making it all one revel. Thus, the eye
Breathed on by fancy, with enlargéd scope,
Through the protracted and deep hush of night,
May note the fairies, coursing the lazy hours,
In various changes, and without fatigue.
A fickle race, who tell their time by flowers,
And live on zephyrs, and have stars for lamps,
And night-dews for ambrosia; perch'd on beams,
Speeding through space, even with the scattering light
On which they feed and frolic.
A wild dream!--
And yet, since this old tale of Diaz Ortis,
That moved our laughter once, is thus made sooth,
Perchance, not all a dream.
Yet, may we doubt!--
There may be something in this marvel still
Of human practice. Man hath wondrous powers,
Most like a God;--that, with each hour of toil,
Perfect themselves in actions strangely great.
Some cunning seaman, having natural skill,
As by the books we learn hath oft been done,
Hath 'yond our vessel's figure pitch'd his voice,--
With gay deceit of unsuspected art,
Leading us wantonly.
It is not so;--
Or, does my sense deceive? Look, where the wave
A perch beyond our vessel, grows in folds
That seem not like the element. Dost see?
A marvellous shape that with the billow curls,
In gambols of the deep, and yet is not
Its wonted burden; for, beneath the waves,
I mark the elaborate windings of a form,
That heaves and flashes with an antic play,
As if to win our gaze.
By the planet at whose bid,
I must close the heavy lid,
Ere the hour that wings my flight
I unfold me to your sight,
That your wondering thoughts may find,
Wherewith to awake the mind;--
To arouse ye with a fear,
Do I sing and wanton here;
Sing with sorrow lest too late,
Ye awaken to your fate:
Hearken to my voice and fly,
For the danger lurketh nigh.
Deem me not a form of ill,
Free to lure and injure still;--
Mine's the gentler task to save
From the perils of the wave.
When thou feel'st the tempest's shocks,
I send breezes off the rocks;
When the ocean's calm as death,
From me comes the tradewind's breath--
For my essence is not made
Of the cold and gloomy shade,
But of gentlest dews of night,
And of purest rays of light.
Heed me then, and turn thy prow
From the rocks that wait thee now;--
Close beneath thee, do they sleep
In the hollows of the deep;
And thy sail is truly prone
Where the yellow sand is strown;
And no human power can save
From the terrors of the wave,
Smooth, and gently gliding, now,
With a whisper, round thy prow;
In an hour and all is o'er--
Thou wilt hear my voice no more.
'Tis passing strange, and it were well to rouse
The master to this marvel. What, ho! there!
Hark ye, good Mendez Celer, lend awhile
Your presence here on deck.
Who summons me?
Ha! brave Don Leon, but thou look'st as wild,
As thou hadst spoke some monster of the deep,
And shipp'd his tidings in a sea of foam.
Hadst thou but weather'd awhile the Indian seas,
As I have done, where, from his fiery steep,
El Norté plunges headlong o'er the seas,
Smiting the billows with his scourge of wings
Till their gray scalps lie flat, methinks thine eyes,
That find a wonder in each hour of change,
Would soon grow slow to marvel.
It may be,--
Yet there's a marvel here to challenge well
Thy old experience in these wizard seas.
Here swam a voice that spoke to us in song
Of most prevailing sweetness. There it rose--
Even from yon heap of waters, which thou see'st
Still stirring with an action not their own,
Unlike the rest of the ocean. Thou mayst note
Where the sea rises and the billows toss,
Still swelling in strange folds. 'Tis there it moves,--
From thence the music came.
What said the song?
A ditty of the marvellous love, I ween,
The girl of the ocean bears thee--was it not?
No, in no wise!--the tones it used were soft,
And the words gentle, and the music sweet,
But yet it spoke no love and ask'd for none.--
It rather told of danger to our barque;--
Of rocks in certain and near neighborhood,
And shoals and sands, that, close beneath our prow,
Are lurking to ensnare.
Bah! good Don Leon!
'Tis, as we say in Palos, a poor devil
That goes without his brimstone.--A dull cheat
Who when he shows his hook forgets the bait.
Your sea-girl was a young one. Mark me now,
There is no land--no single spot of shore
Whereon a plank or spar might lie at ease,
Within a three day's sail of us. I've been
Some thirty years a mariner, and scarce,
In all that time, have been from off the seas
A month or two, at farthest, at a spell;
And this same route o'er which we travel now,
Comes to me as my nightcap or my prayers--
I put not on the one, nor say the other,
Yet both are done, the thanks to Mary Mother,
And I am none the wiser.
It is strange
That we should hear this music!
Not a whit.
I've oftentimes heard from the Portuguese--
I'm rather one myself, belike you know,
My father having stray'd, at a wrong time,
From Lisbon to my mother's house at Palos,
And then it came about that I was born--
(Nothing ill-graced to Lady Isabel;)
And, as I say, it is a standing tale
With the old seamen, that a woman comes--
Her lower parts being fishlike--in the wave;
Singing strange songs of love, that so inflame
The blinded seamen, that they steal away
And join her in the waters; and, that then,
Having her victim, she is seen no more.
And is it deem'd, the men thus wildly snared
Become a prey and forfeit life at once?
So must it be; and yet, there is a tale
That they do wed these creatures; which have power,
So to convert their nature, that they make,
As to themselves, the sea their element;
And have a life renew'd, though at the risk
And grievous peril of their Christian souls,
Doom'd thence unto perdition.
And you then
Think nothing of this warning?
By your grace,
Surely, I hold it the wild lustful song
Of this same woman. She has lost, perchance,--
Since death must come at last who comes to all,--
Her late companion. Would you take his place?
If not, wax up your ears, and sleep secure,
There's naught to fear, and sea-room quite enough.
God, and thou gracious Mary, what is that?
We're in our certain course--what may this mean?
The vessel strikes--she strikes again and shivers,
Through all her frame, as if convulsed with horror,
She felt herself the pangs we soon must feel!
The devil speaks truth, for once, good Mendez Celer!
Oh, holy Mary, and thou gracious shield
Blessed Saint Anthony, lend us now your aid;
Speak fairly to the waters--see us through
This sad deceit. Below there--hands aloft!--
Ho, Juan! trim the sail,--out with the lead--
Helm down, Pedrillo--Hernan--luff yet more.
Jesu! She rides again--we yet may swim!
It is all over! To your prayers at once!
There is no longer hope, nor chance of life,
Unless from the good saints and Mary Mother,
We may have mercy and sweet countenance!
Gracious Saint Anthony, for fifty years
We've voyagéd in company, and now,
I pray thee, in this strait, that thou forsake not
Thy ancient comrade. To thy use I vow--
If thou wilt man our yards, and trim our sails,
And lift our ragged keel from off these rocks,--
A box of Cadiz candles----
Be a man!
Rise, Mendez, to the peril and the storm.
Let us do something for ourselves, nor ask
The smiles of heaven upon our fears alone.
Shall we but crouch and perish, with no stroke
Made for our lives! For shame, sir--ply your men;
Nor with an idle prayer, which the waves mock
And the winds laugh at, show our feebleness.
If there be land so nigh, as by our glance,
The eye may seem to conjure, we may try,
The little we can do, to save our lives.
The boats--get out the boats!
In vain--in vain;
No boat may live in such a sea as that.
Look at this surf, that chafes like a wild beast,
And ramps, like something mad, upon the rocks.
This is the strangest chance I yet have known:--
By the chart we are in the open sea,
And here we meet with land, where land is none.
A moment since, and the whole sea was calm,
Now boils it like a cauldron--and the winds,
That late were almost breathless, now exclaim
In wrath, and yell like fiends above the sea.
Oh, Mary Mother, in this strait befriend!--
To thee, to Jesu, and the saints alone,
May we now look for mercy!
So we perish!--
The ship is parting! We must try the boat,
Whate'er the peril from the raging sea!
Better, thus struggling in the embrace of strife,
To meet the fatal enemy, than thus,
With idly folded arms and shivering fears
That mock the very passion in our prayer
With broken utterance most unmeet for heaven,
Await him feebly here. Ho! man the boat.
Leave me not, brother, for a moment now!
There's not a pressing danger, or I do
Greatly mistake the courage in your eye,
That hath no touch of terror in its calm,
And looks the strength of safety.
Yet, there is,
Dear Isabel, a danger of the worst,
Now pressing on our lives with terrible wrath,
That needs the soul's best fortitude and hope
To meet with manhood. We may yet escape,
So, take you heart. Look not with such an eye,
Or I may fail at this most perilous hour,
And sink into the woman. Be all firm,
And like our mother, dearest,--nor grow weak,
When I do tell you that the chances gather
Against our fondest hope.
And is it so?--
And you and I, dear Leon,--both so young,
So fond,--so full of life's best promises,--
Thus sudden cut from all--the loved, the loving,--
And by a fate so terrible!
Since combating the fear that ushers death,
We little feel his shaft. Whatever haps,
Be firm, and cling to me. Keep close at hand,
And, with the mercy of God, through every chance,
Dear sister, I devote myself to thee.
I know thou wilt!--I will be at thy side,
Nor trouble thee with my terrors.
My safety shall be thine;--and if I fail,
'Twill somewhat soothe the pang of that sad passage
That still we go together. We have lived,
So truly in one another from the first,
And known no sense of pleasure not inwrought,
With twin affection in our mutual hearts,
That 'twill not move our chiding when the fate
Strikes both in one, and with a kindly blow,
Secures 'gainst future parting.
I'll not chide!
I will be firm,--and yet I dread the rage
And rushing of the waters. How they roar,
And lash themselves to madness o'er our bows!
I dread me, Leon, that my senses fail!
Mine eyes grow blind--I see thee not--Here, here!
My brother, leave me not.
I'm here with thee!
Dost hear me when I speak,--dost hear me, brother?
I cannot hear myself. My voice is gone,
Drown'd in that horrible coil of storm and billow
That fain would wrap us all. That crash!--
I have thee, poor unconscious!--child of sorrow,
That hast no farther feeling of thy woe!
Make way there.
The boat is ready, masters.
Delay not now for me--bear off, bear off,--
I go in no new craft--my log's complete.
This is my ninetieth voyage, and the last,
Though not the longest or most fortunate.
I cannot leave the ship--it is our creed--
Till she leaves me. We've sail'd together long--
And if I 'scaped the present, would not much
Survive her reckoning. Bid me well at home,
And say the manner of my death to all.
Tell old Bertiaz, should you ever make
The shore I never more shall touch again,
(He owns the vessel), that the "Arragon"
(Too fine a name for such a fate as this),
Is Arragon no longer. You may say--
'Twill do me good in my grave--I died in her.
There, she goes down,--the master still in her;
I see him on a spar, and--now he sinks.
Pull there more freely, boys. The swell she makes
May trouble us greatly. Fiercely, all at once,
Mark you, Don Leon, how the waters leap,
And the seas whiten. Here are ugly rocks.
The billows rush on madly, as they were
Some battling armies. These are cruel waves,
That, fastening on our sides, still clamber high,
More like the forms of demons, dark and dread,
With fiend malignity and bent on wrath,
Than billows of the ocean. We shall scarce--
Unless good fortune and the blessed saints
Look kindly on us--overcome the space,
Growing as we o'erleap it, that, between,
Now keeps us from yon islet, which I mark,
Dim, in the distance, o'er the swell in front.
Pray ye, strike full your oars and all at once,
Cheerly and bold, becoming fearless men;--
And, if we live, God's blessing on your service,
But lack, ye shall not, your reward on earth.
My arm grows weary with the weight upon 't
Of this most precious burden; while a cloud
Like a thick pitchy wall, right in our way
Rests heavily on the waters, and denies
That I should see beyond. Give way, like men,
And enter the deep darkness unafraid.
Now, terribly through the waters comes the form
Of that fierce savage and malignant king,
Onesimarch. Behind him gathering rush
Clouds of his brutal followers, clad in wrath,
Howling for prey. Beneath their vexing spells
The deep boils like a whirlpool, and the waves,
So lately still and placid, wrought to rage,
Leap up about the poor ill-fated barque.
Now grappling to her prow, they drag her down,
The billows rushing in; and, wrapt in each,
Some of the monster's followers, well conceal'd,
With fierce and furious might, impel her down;--
Now mount her bending sides, now strike with force
Their own, against her weak and shrieking ribs--
Tear up her planks, and rushing through the space,
Rend her broad back, and o'er the flinty rocks
Drag the too yielding keel until it parts.
Onesimarch, himself, a hungry fiend,
With darker powers endow'd, with sulphur arm'd,
Hurls a perpetual lightning, which distracts
And dazzles the weak eye. He shapes their course,
And guides the tribute legions; working new joys
From out the wrongs he doth, for his own sense,
And for that potentest of all the fiends,
By whom his power is wrought. And now, they chant
A song of terror in the drowning ears
Of the wild seamen, cutting off all hope
That manhood may achieve against its fate.
Through the perilous sky,
Spirits of terror and tumult on high!
Even as we go,
Working the woe,
Of all that is hatefully happy below!
Speed! our mission, fierce and fatal,
Is to spoil superior things;
For, at birth, our planets natal
Crown'd with blight our demon wings!
Oh! the joy to rob the treasures,
Hopes of soul and beauty given,
From the race whose purer pleasures,
Are the special care of Heaven!
Joy, that thus, still doom'd to sorrow,
We may happier fortunes blight,
And from woe extremest borrow,
Still the power that yields delight.
To the terror, fiercely wending,
Speed we, till our work is done,
Still destroying, raging, rending,
Till the shadow chokes the sun!
Speed! for the meed
Of merciless deed,
Summons us fiercely with clamors of greed;
While the ship glides
Through the treacherous tides,
Break down her bulwarks and rush through her sides!
These are mortals, wretched creatures!
Yet from doom like ours set free;
Wrought of clay, and yet with features,
Such as make us rage to see!
Such the haughty sovereign presence,
That pursued with storm and flame!
From our homes of power and pleasaunce,
Drove us forth in grief and shame!
Him we dare not face with battle,
Now, as then, with fearless powers,
But his race of God-mark'd cattle,
Yields the proper spoil for ours.
In his likeness made, they languish,
For the wings he hath not given;
And, in trampling on their anguish,
Wage we still our war with Heaven!
Why, oh! why,
Breathing the sky
Orisons still should they offer on high;
Why should they pray,
Creatures of clay,
Whose faith is a fable, whose life is a day!
Mock the mortals with your voices,
Shouting death and hate and hell;
Fill their ears with horrid noises,
Ring for every soul the knell!
Tell them, while the ocean smothers
Life and hope, that, never more,
Shall the loved ones, wives and mothers,
See the forms so dear before!
Show them Death in grimmest aspect,
Cold, corruption, worms, and night;
And depict the penal prospect
Of the future world of blight,
Endless, for the guilt-unshriven,
Fetter'd fast by tyrant powers,
With no hope to be forgiven,
And a doom more dread than ours!
Lo! where in sight,
Fierce as in fight,
Rising from ocean, our monarch of might;
With the storm for his steed,
He is here at our need,
The dreadful in strife, and the matchless in speed.
Full our legions,--dread battalions,
Sweep we now the ocean plain;
Cower the golden Spanish galleons,
Cower and sink beneath the main!
Vain the skill and power to stay us,
Vain the prayers that hope to spell;
Hate, alone, may soothe or sway us,
And the power that conquers hell!
These we dread not in our mission,
When the victim wrought of clay,
Guilty grown, in his condition,
Yields himself beneath our sway.
Then he forfeits angel keeping,
Which had baffled else our hate;
And the doom of woe and weeping,
Makes him subject to our fate!
From the regions south, and the regions north,
Mount we, and speed we, and hurry we forth;
From where the sun fails, in the putrid gales,
Launch we afloat on our shadowy sails:
Darkening the sky, oh! how we fly,
Spirits of tumult and terror on high:
The whirlwind we fling abroad on its wing,
And the hurricane speeds to its work, as we sing!
Lo! the skies how they stoop, and the stars how they droop,
While the trailing storms follow our flight in a troop;
As downward we sweep, the black billows leap,
To welcome our flight, with a roar from the deep!
We are here, we are there; in the ocean, the air,
With a breath that is death, and a song that's despair!
Ho! for the master! The sulphur balls go!
How sweet is the shriek of the perishing foe!
Ho! for the master! The red arrows fly,
And burst in the blackness of billow and sky!
Papé Sathanas! We work for thee well!
Aleppé!* There's clucking for triumph in Hell!
Hear'st thou the groans of the victims?--They pray--
Ho! ho! but how vainly!--too late i' the day!
We stifle the prayer, in the breath--and we tear,
The last hope away from the breast of despair!
Ho! for new flights and new victims,--Ho! Ho!
With the tempest for wings, and the lightning we go.
Papé Sathanas! we work for thee well!
Aleppé! There's clucking for triumph in Hell!
"Pape Satan, pape Satan aleppe,
Cominciò Pluto colla voce chioccia."
Master, we strive in vain.
We can but die.
Why toil for it?
As one who strikes his foe,
Though conscious that he battles without hope,
And dies in the brave conflict.--Ha! she stirs.
Horrible sounds are rushing through [broken type] ears,
More like the cries of demons, mad for blood,
Than the hoarse billows and the roaring winds.
They dart into my brain, and seem to shout,
Triumphant, oh, my brother, o'er our fate;--
Speak of the sorrow in our father's halls,
That, with an anguish, far too great for speech,
Grows dumb and scorns expression. Could we live--
But live to see him once!--oh, bear me up;--
Desert me not, dear Leon, but entwine,
Closely, thy arm around; nor let these waves,
That seem impatient of their midnight feast,
Suck me into their black and ravenous jaws.
Doubt me not, Isabel, in this dark hour!
Think'st thou I could desert thee, precious sweetness,
To whose frail nature and too delicate youth
Sweet elements should minister with love,
Not hunt with hate. I have thee in my arms;
Will hold thee, while they have their hold in life,
And I have thought and sense to will the struggle
That wards the final danger from thy breast.
But, cling to me, my sister.
Will I not?
Why should we think of death?
It comes! It comes!
Here, Leon, here!
Oh, Jesu! lost!
'Tis done! The strife is over. Hope is none!
These cruel demons triumph, with a rage
That mocks at mortal strength. Prone to the deep,
I watch'd that hungry slave, Calemmia, seize,
Conceal'd in a dense billow, on the prow;
And, all despite the seaman's sturdy stroke,
The helmsman's firm direction, and the cheer
Of that strong human impulse, which did grow,
Upon the sight of land, into a hope,
Drag her among the sharp rocks, while the surfs
Beat her to pieces. She is scatter'd far--
A spar floats on the wave--a single oar,
Cast high among the sands, alone has reach'd
The mocking shores that wreck'd them. Yet, not so!--
I mark a floating form that struggles still,
With a most human love of life, afar.
Him may I succor, and, with safety now;--
The legions of Onesimarch, being done
Their toil of terror, have, for newer spoils,
Wrapt in a gathering cloud, departed hence,
Leaving all calm again. Curl'd in this wave,
I will beneath him glide, and bear him up;
Till, on the shore, beyond the ocean's swell,
He rests in safety. I can do no more--
Since, in gross contact with the heavy earth,
I lose the subtle power that makes my gift,
And forfeit, of the light ethereal nature,
The buoyant spirit that supplies its wing.
ACT III.--SCENE I.
This islet hath no quality of joy,
Fair to the sight, or fragrant to the sense,--
No beauty that upon its surface glows,
No treasure that within its bosom sleeps;--
It is the foul'st deception--all is gross,
And tainted with that sinborn leprousness
That marks the soul who will'd it into birth,
And raised its treacherous rocks along the deep.
No innocent beast hath dwelling in this clime,
No valley blooms with verdure. Not a flower
Gems the bleak sands, that, barrenly spread out,
Pain the unsatisfied and wandering eye,
That, seeing naught else, grows weary. Not a bird,
But, as he flies above, subdues his voice,
And, panting in his silence, quickens his wing,
Having a nameless terror. The foul taint
A Lawyer's office in Philadelphia. Richard Osborne at a desk writing.
Enter Robert Warren.
Evening: Chestnut-street. Enter Maurice with Clarice.
[They enter the house of Maurice.
The parlor of a dwelling in the residence of Maurice, handsomely and newly furnished. Enter Warren and Osborne.
[touching his breast.]
Enter Norman Maurice.
[Giving copy of document.
[impatiently to Warren.]
[to Osborne,]your knowledge of this boyish error,
[putting it in the fire, and placing his foot on it while it burns.
[Exit Osborne: Warren is about to follow when Maurice lays his hand on his shoulder.
Enter Clarice from within.
[Warren rushes out.
END OF ACT FIRST.
Scene: Missouri. A room in the cottage of Norman Maurice. Enter Maurice and Clarice.
Enter Widow Pressley and Kate.
[kissing the child.]
[Enter Col. Mercer and Brooks.
The law office of Richard Osborne. Osborne discovered writing. Enter Warren.
The house of Mrs. Jervas in Walnut-street. Enter Mrs. J. and Robert Warren.
The hall in the cottage of Norman Maurice. Time--midnight. Enter Maurice in night-gown, as just started from his couch. His hair dishevelled--his manner wild and agitated--his whole appearance that of a man painfully excited and distressed.
[Dashing the vase to pieces.
[He folds his arm about her, and they leave the apartment, he still looking behind him suspiciously--she looking up to him.
The edge of a wood. A cottage in the distance. Enter Robert Warren, Osborne, and Harry Matthews. The former disguised with false hair, whiskers, &c.
[pointing to cottage.]
[aside to W.]
[aside to O.]
The interior of the cottage of Norman Maurice. A table spread as if supper were just concluded. Maurice and Clarice discovered seated. Maurice balances a spoon upon the cup. Clarice watches him.
[pushing away the cup.]
[Knock at the door--he starts.
[Goes toward the door.
[throwing open the door.]
Enter Robert Warren as before, with valise in his hand.
[Maurice points her to the supper table. She turns and leaves the room,--Warren follows her with his eye, while that of Maurice observes him.
[His brow slightly contracts.]
[Catches the eye of Warren, which suddenly drops at the encounter.
[To Clarice, who reënters.]
[with a smile.]
[Laying his hand on Warren's shoulder, and eyeing him closely.
[shrinking and stammering.]
[flinging him away and rising.]
[seizing his arm.]
[Snatches a knife from the table.]
[hurling the table over.]
[Rushes upon him and wrests the weapon from his hand.
[Takes Warren by the throat.
[Hurls him out headlong.
[Embrace. Ex. Clarice within.
END OF ACT SECOND.
A chamber in the dwelling of Harry Matthews, in St. Lo [illegible] Robert Warren and Richard Osborne discovered.
Enter Harry Matthews.
[aside to Osborne.]
[aside to W.]
[aside to Osborne.]
[Ex. Matthews and Warren,
An apartment in the house of Col. Ferguson. Ferguson, Blasinghame, Matthews, Warren, and persons discovered.
[to Blasing.,]your reputation's great,
[Exeunt several ways.
An apartment in the house of Norman Maurice. He appears seated at a table with books and papers before him. After a pause, he closes his books, folds and ties the papers in a bundle, pushes them from before him and rises.
[Opens to her, she enters.
Enter Cols. Mercer and Brooks.
[Clarice curtsies as they bow, and is about to retire.
[Exeunt Mercer and Brooks.
Enter Widow Pressley and Kate.
[hands him a small dagger.
[Aside to Clarice.]I feed this hapless woman with [illegible]
[Aside to Clarice.
[aloud.]The courage born of virtue
END OF ACT THIRD.
A garden in the rear of the house of Norman Maurice. Walk through a thick shrubbery. Enter Robert Warren and Mrs. Jervas.
[They retire behind the copse.
[coming out behind her.]
[seeing him and starting.]
[Aloud.]Bring you the papers, Robert Warren; and--
[Exit Clarice, slowly.
The porch of the Court-house of St. Louis. Norman Maurice about to enter, accompanied by the Widow Pressley and Kate, is detained by Mercer upon the threshold.
[Widow and child enter.
Enter Blasinghame, Savage, and others.
Enter Ferguson with books and papers, accompanied by Warren.
[Exit Ferguson within.
An apartment in the dwelling of Norman Maurice. Enter Clarice, reading a note.
Open space before the Court-house of St. Louis. Groups of Lawyers and Citizens.
[Shouts in the porch as the people rush out of the Court-house.]
Enter Maurice, with widow Pressley and Kate, followed by Mercer, Brooks, Catesby, and others. Shouts.
[Exeunt Widow, Kate, and Mercer.
[whispering to Maurice.]
Enter Blasinghame with others.
[Forces through the crowd, rushes upon Maurice, striking him with a stick.
[Seizes Blasinghame by the throat, hurls him to the ground, and stands upon his neck. Shouts of the people.
[Catesby and Savage lift Blasinghame.
[Exeunt Blasinghame and Savage.
END OF ACT FOURTH.
A chamber in the house of Col. Mercer. Norman Maurice and Catesby discovered.
The entrance of a thick wood near the dwelling of Norman Maurice. Sunset. Robert Warren discovered.
[Retires into the wood.
[Takes the papers from his bosom and waves her to the wood.
[Waving papers and retiring.
[Retires from sight, beckoning with the papers.
[within the wood.]
[Exit within: a moment after a cry of agony, and then a sound as of a falling body. Reënter Clarice with papers in her hand, and garments all bloody.
[Thrusts them into her bosom.
[Exit wildly, looking behind her as she departs.
The wood behind Baynton's meadow. Enter from opposite sides, Norman Maurice, Catesby, Surgeon; and Colonel Blasinghame Savage, Surgeon.
[Maurice and Blasinghame confront each other.
[They fight. Maurice disarms him.
[folding his arms.]
[tottering and turning away.]
[Exit Savage following Blasinghame.
The chamber of Richard Osborne. Enter to him Harry Matthews.
The open street. Ferguson and Matthews.
The interior of the City Hall of St. Louis. A raised platform in the centre. Citizens crowding about it. Chairman presiding and seated with other distinguished men. On one hand, Ferguson and others--opposite, Norman Maurice, Mercer, Brooks, &c. Norman Maurice discovered speaking.
Enter Harry Matthews hastily, and in great agitation.
[Seizes the dagger, looks at and drops it.
1. PEOPLE SHOUT.
2. PEOPLE SHOUT.
[Exeunt Matthews and Ferg [illegible]
[with cries and hisses.]
[with an effort.]
[Osborne comes forward.
Enter Kate, followed by Mrs. Jervas.
[with a cry.]
A chamber in the house of Norman Maurice. Clarice reclines upon a couch. The widow Pressley stands at a little distance watching her.
Enter Norman Maurice.
[Raises herself feebly to his arms.
(lays her down gently--the papers fall from her bosom.
[Noise and voices without.]
Enter Mercer, Brooks, and others.
THE first edition of "Atalantis" was published in 1832. It has been subsequently revised, and, I trust, amended. I am not satisfied that the dramatic form was appropriately adopted, since it leads to expectations which the character of the poem will scarcely satisfy. The advantage of the dialogue consists simply in permitting that diversification of the descriptive portions, which, in a work so purely fanciful, would seem necessary to prevent monotony.--This poem, with those pieces which follow it, belongs to a class, the standards of which are almost entirely imaginative. The reader who looks here for the merely human sentiment, will find himself at fault. The province of poetry is too various for the application of laws derived wholly from individual tastes; and he who opens the pages of an author must always be prepared to ascend that mount of vision from which he has made his survey. The highest regions of the ideal, are unquestionably such as belong to the spiritual nature. To this nature, exclusively, verse which is solely imaginative must commend itself. It is not the less human, though it may be more remote and foreign, than that which simply appeals to mortal passions, and the more earthly purposes of man and life.
An Islet of the Atlantic Ocean.
ATALANTIS AND ONESIMARCHUS.
[She waves her hand, and Ogré becomes visible.
[Ogré is led off.
The Ocean: the islet of Onesimarchus in the background--a ship in the distance, approaching. The Zephyr-Spirit rides upon the billow.
[Scene changes to the deck of the ship. Count Leon musing at the side.
Enter Mendez Celer.
[Shock--the ship strikes.
[Ship strikes again.
[Vessel strikes heavily upon the rocks.
[The master takes a leaden image from his h [broken type] and prostra [illegible] himself before it. Storm rises.
[Storm increases. Ship strikes with increasing violenc [illegible]
[The vessel parts. The seamen enter the boat. Leon lifts Isabel into it.
[They leave her--she goes to pieces in their sight.
[The boat disappears.
The ocean waste.
Storm. Flight of Sea-Demons, singing.
* See Dante, Inferno, Canto vii:--
[The boat strikes and goes to pieces.
[faintly afar off.]
The Ocean waste.
The islet of Onesimarchus.