Saint's Tragedy, The - Scene 3

SCENE III.

A road between Eisenach and Marpurg. Peasants waiting by the road-side . W ALTER OF V ARILA , the Count OF S AYM , and other Gentlemen entering on horseback .

Gent . Talk not of honour — Hell's a flame within me:
Foul water quenches fire as well as fair;
If I do meet him he shall die the death,
Come fair, come foul: I tell you, there are wrongs
The fumbling piecemeal law can never touch,
Which bring of themselves to the injured, right divine,
Straight from the fount of right, above all parchments,
To be their own avengers: dainty lawyers,
If one shall slay the adulterer in the act,
Dare not condemn him: girls have stabbed their tyrants,
And common sense has crowned them saints; yet what —
What were their wrongs to mine? All gone! All gone!
My noble boys, whom I had trained, poor fools,
To win their spurs, and ride afield with me!
I could have spared them — but my wife! my lady!
Those dainty limbs, which no eyes but mine —
Before that ruffian mob — Too much for man!
Too much, stern Heaven! — Those eyes, those hands,
Those tender feet, where I have lain and worshipped —
Food for fierce flames! And on the self-same day —
The day that they were seized — unheard — unargued —
No witness, but one vile convicted thief —
The dog is dead and buried: Well done, henchmen!
They are not buried! Pah! their ashes flit
About the common air; we pass them — breathe them!
The self-same day! If I had had one look!
One word — one single tiny spark of word,
Such as two swallows change upon the wing!
She was no heretic: she knelt for ever
Before the blessed rood, and prayed for me.
Ar't sure he comes this road?
C. Saym . My messenger
Saw him start forth, and watched him past the crossways
An hour will bring him here.
C. Wal . How! ambuscading?
I'll not sit by, while helpless priests are butchered
Shame, gentles!
C. Saym . On my word, I knew not on't
Until this hour: my quarrel's not so sharp,
But I may let him pass: my name is righted
Before the Emperor, from all his slanders;
And what's revenge to me?
Gent . Ay, ay — forgive and forget —
The vermin's trapped — and we'll be gentle-handed,
And lift him out, and bid his master speed him,
Him and his firebrands. He shall never pass me.
C. Wal . I will not see it; I'm old, and sick of blood.
She loved him, while she lived; and charged me once,
As her sworn liegeman, not to harm the knave.
I'll home: yet, knights, if aught untoward happen,
And you should need a shelter, come to me:
My walls are strong. Home, knaves! we'll seek our wives,
And beat our swords to ploughshares — when folks let us.
C. Saym . He's gone, brave heart! — But — sir, you will not dare?
The Pope's own Legate — think — there's danger in't
Gent . Look, how athwart you sullen sleeping flats
That frowning thunder-cloud sails pregnant hither; —
And black against its sheeted gray, one bird
Flags fearful onward — 'Tis his cursed soul!
Now thou shalt quake, raven! — The self-same day! —
He cannot 'scape! The storm is close upon him!
There! There! the wreathing spouts have swallowed him!
He's gone! and see, the keen blue spark leaps cut
From crag to crag, and every vaporous pillar
Shouts forth his death-doom! 'Tis a sign, a sign!

These are the starved unlettered hinds, forsooth,
He hunted down like vermin — for a doctrine
They have their rights, their wrongs; their lawless laws,
Their witless arguings, which unconscious reason
Informs to just conclusions. We will hear them.
Preacher . My brethren, I have a message to you: therefore hearken with all your ears — for now is the day of salvation. It is written, that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light — and truly: for the children of this world, when they are troubled with vermin, catch them — and hear no more of them. But you, the children of light, the elect saints, the poor of this world rich in faith, let the vermin eat your lives out, and then fall down and worship them afterwards. You are all besotted — hag-ridden — drunkards sitting in the stocks, and bowing down to the said stocks, and making a god thereof. Of part, said the prophet, ye make a god, and part serveth to roast — to roast the flesh of your sons and of your daughters; and then ye cry, " Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire; " and a special fire ye have seen! The ashes of your wives and of your brothers cleave to your clothes. — Cast them up to Heaven, cry aloud, and quit yourselves like men!
Gent . He speaks God's truth! We are Heaven's justicers!
Our woes anoint us kings! Peace — Hark again! —
Preacher . Therefore, as said before — in the next place — It is written, that there shall be a two-edged sword in the hand of the saints. But the saints have but two swords — Was there a sword or shield found among ten thousand in Israel? Then let Israel use his fists, say I, the preacher! For this man hath shed blood, and by man shall his blood be shed. Now behold an argument. — This man hath shed blood, even Conrad; ergo, as he saith himself, ye, if ye are men, shall shed his blood. Doth he not himself say ergo? Hath he not said ergo to the poor saints, to your sons and your daughters, whom he hath burned in the fire to Moloch? " Ergo, thou art a heretic " — " Ergo, thou shalt burn. " Is he not therefore convicted out of his own mouth? Arise, therefore, be valiant — for this day he is delivered into your hand!

Peasant . Hush! here the psalm-singers come!

C ONRAD enters on a mule, chanting the psalter , G ERARD following .

Con . My peace with you, my children!
I st Voice . Psalm us no psalms; bless us no devil's blessings:
Your balms will break our heads.
2 d Voice . You are welcome, sir; we are a-waiting for you.
3 d Voice . Has he been shriven to-day?
4 th Voice . Where is your ergo, Master Conrad? Faugh!
How both the fellows smell of smoke!
5 th Voice . A strange leech he, to suck, and suck, and suck,
And look no fatter for't!
Old Woman . Give me back my sons!
Old Man . Give me back the light of mine eyes,
Mine only daughter!
My only one! He hurled her over the cliffs!
Avenge me, lads; you are young!
4 th Voice . We will, we will: why smit'st him not, thou with the pole-axe?
3 d Voice . Nay, now, the first blow costs most, and heals last:
Besides, the dog's a priest, at worst.
C. Saym . Mass! How the shaveling rascal stands at bay!
There's not a rogue of them dare face his eye!
True Domini canes! 'Ware the bloodhound's teeth, curs!
Preacher . What! Are ye afraid? The huntsman's here at last
Without his whip! Down with him, craven hounds!
I'll help ye to't.
Gent . Ay, down with him! Mass, have these yelping boors
More heart than I?
Mob . A knight! a champion!
Voice . He's not mortal man!
See how his eyes shine! 'Tis the archangel!
St. Michael come to the rescue! Ho! St Michael!

Ger . My master! my master! The chariot of
Israel and the horses thereof!
Oh call down fire from Heaven!
Alas! my son! This blood shall cry for vengeance
Before the throne of God!
Gent . And cry in vain!
Follow thy minion! Join Folquet in hell!
Con . I am the vicar of the Vicar of Christ:
Who touches me doth touch the Son of God

Oh God! A martyr's crown! Elizabeth!
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