Amélie Rives.

Herod and Mariamne [microform] : a tragedy online

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Copj'right, 1888, by J. B. Lippincott Company.





SCENE l.—A hall in Hebod's patoee.
Unter Joseph and Sohemus.

Joseph. It hath come, good Sohemus. 'T hath come.

Sohemus. What, brother ?

Jos. The king is summoned by'Antonius
Unto Laodicea concerning

Soh. Well?

Jos. Lower, I pray you — why, concerning, sir.
The death of Aristobulus.

Soh. Heaven save us !

What saith the queen ?

Jos. Which queen, my Sohemus ?

There are so many queens in Herod's palace,
We needs must name them when we speak of them. *
By Moses' beard ! the wild bees have more wisdom :
They have one queen, where Herod houses four.
There is his mother Cypres, and his sister
My wife Salome : they do hate most violently
His consort Mariamne, and her mother.
The old king's daughter, Alexandra.

Soh. Nay,

All this I know by demonstration, sir.
The information that I crave concerns
Queen Mariamne. Doth she think her brother
To have been murdered ?

Jos. There, sir, lies the matter.

She doth not think so, while her mother doth.


They have been wrangling o'er it all the morning,
And wrangle yet. My wife and Cyprus sulk
Within their own apartments ; and the king
Is closeted with Antony's messenger.

Soh. Where is Hyrcanus ?

Jos. Sleeping, sir, I think.

The kind old king hath but that refuge now
When the queens quarrel.

Soil. A most fitting refuge !

For when queens quarrel kings are kings in vain.
Soft, friend ! is that not Mariamne's voice ?

Jo8. It is, — and Alexandra's. Let us go,
Ere we be dragged into their mad dispute. \^Exewi\i.

Enter Mariamne and Alexandra.

Alex. Art thou my daughter ?

Mar. If thou dost tell truth.

Alex. Insolence ! Wilt thou mock me ? God of Moses !
Almost I think that I unknowing lie
And that thou art a changeling ! Sure no blood
Of mine makes blue those traitorous veins o' thine !
To call him brother, and yet love the king
Who murdered him I

Mar. Madam, I will not think it.

Alex. Not think it? Will not tliink it !

Mar. No, madam.

Nor hear it said. Therefore be silent.

Alex. Silent !

This unto me, thy mother? Silent? Oh,
Would I were tongued like nature ! thou shouldst hear
A hundred thousand voices utter, " Murder !"
Why, I do tell thee I have knowledge of it
From ten reliable sources. It was planned —
Ay, planned from first to la^t. And he, thy brother,
So young, so fair, that even thou didst show
Old and uncomely by his side !

Mar. Good mother.

None loved my brother more than I did love,
And love him : therefore go I quietly.
Thinking how diil he live he would prefer
That we should mourn him, not with cries and curses,
But in the stillness of our hearts with prayer.

Alex. Prayers for his murderer? Oh, 'tis well ! 'tis well !
Thou art so eaten with unnatural love
For this thy kingly sinner, that thy heart
Hath no unoccupie<l cranny Avhere might lodge
Love natural for him whom he hath murdered.

Mar. I will not hear that word again.

Alex. Not hear it ?

Canst command deafness, that thou wilt not hear it ?


I Bay that Herod hatb thy brotlicr murdered, —
Murdered ! Ay, nuirdercd ! murdered ! Dost thou hear ?
Or, bcuig queen, canst tliou command tliy ears
That they drmk not unwelcome sounds ?

Mar. No, madam ;

But I can twenty hands command to take thee
Where thy voice cannot reach my ears.

Alex. Ay, do it !

Do it, I say ! 'Twere well that Herod's wife
Took Herod's way ; 'twere well Hyrcanus' daughter
Should be o'er-daughtered in Hyrcanus' palace ;
'Twere well the blood of Aristobulus
Should not cry out, lest Herod seeking sleep
Should be disturbed. O God of Israel,
God of the widowed aud the childless, hear !
To Thee I turn, to Thee shall mount my grief ;
Thine eai's shall drink this murder, and Thine arm
Destroy the murderer'.

Mar. Madam, have done.

Alex. Have done ! Have done, didst say ? When hell is
Packed full, and the gates locked against new-comers,
I will have done. — O Aristobulus,
This wa.s thy sister, and is wife to him
Who had thee murdered.

Mor. Mother, be advised.

My duty as thy daughter hath a limit.

Alex. Thy duty unto Herod hath no limit.
What I wilt thou take his hand, lie by his side,
Be mother of his children, and the blood
Of the high-priest thy brother red between ye ?
I tell thee, woman, thou wilt know ray pangs
When thou hast brought forth sons for him to slay I

Mar. Mother, here comes the king ! 'Twere best indeed
He did not hear thee.

Alex. Ay, now it were best ;

But there will come a time, I tell you, girl.
He'll curse the day that he was born with ears I

Mar. In truth, you'd best be silent.

Alex. I will go ;

Fear not but that I'll go. God blast these eyes
If ever they are w'illing witnesses
Unto thy dalliance with Herod I \^Exit.

Mar. Nay,

God knows I loved my brother, and do mourn him
With a sore heart ; but when my mother thus
Doth lay his death upon the king my husband,
She doth divide my pity with her hate,
And makes my grief half Herod's. Ay, by heaven !
Though he be rash, hot-nntured, mad in wrath,


And prone to take occasion by the throat,
He is as little capable of murder
As this my heart of killing the great love
That I do bear him. Ah, he comes, and anger
Hot at his heels !

Unter Hebod.

Herod. [Not seeing Mariamne.] Herod commanded by a
Roman turn-coat !
Antony summon Herod ! Antony, —
The by-word of all nations, the last toy
Of an Egyptian wanton ! Who that reads
In future ages will believe it ? Oh
That Antony had summoned me in j)erson I
The Egyj)tian harlot had been loverless
In less time than she takes to make a kiss. —
Ah, Mariamne !

Mar. Shall I stay, my lord ?

Her. Hath Herod ever bid thee from him ?

Mar. No.

But I can well imagine that this summons
Hath left thee with a love of loneliness.

Her. Come close. Give me thine eyes. Dost think with
Concerning this affair ?

3far. With Antony?

Her. Ay, — that thy brother's blood is on my hands.
Thou dost not think it ?

Mar. As I live, my lord,

If I do think it, let me live no longer.

Her. Then I care not who thinks it. Mariamne,
I am not Herod when I am with thee.

Mar. What then, my lord ?

Her. Why, Mariamne's lover.

I am no longer king, no longer soldier,
No longer conqueror, unless in truth
I rule thy heart.

Mar. Thou knowest that my heart

Is but thy throne.

Her. Let me be king of thee,

And God is welcome to the sway of heaven.

Mar. Do not blaspheme.

Her. Away 1 thy veins run milk

And make thy heart a baby. Not blaspheme !
Love cannot utter blasphemy, for Love
Is his own god and king of his own heaven.
Well, dost thou love me ?

Mar. Thou dost know I do.

Her. Thou dost not ! Thou dost make a pet of Duty,
And fatten him on what should be my food.


Love me ? Not thou ! Thou hwest the cold peace
That's child of frozen virtue. I have fire
To melt the Sphiux, but not to warm the blood
Of one chaste woman.

Mar, Chaste I am, my lord,

Yet for that chasteness do but better love thee.

Her. I tell thee no ! Thou dost but use the word
To play with, as a child its father's sword.
Thou hast ne'er seen it scarlet with joy's death.
Or smoking with the heart's blood of a thought.
What ! thou lie 'wake o' nights ? Thou scorch thy brain
"With bootless wishing? Thou eat pictured lips?
Thou feed regret with memory, and then rage
Because he is not satisfied ? Thou love ?
Nay, girl, the sun will set the sea afire
Ere thy cool heart be set aflame with love.
Moreover, look you, sooner shall the waves
Of that same ocean cool the thirsty sun
Than thy pale humor make me moderate.

Mar. I would not have thee love me less.

Her. Thou wouldst not ?

Why dost thou shrink, then? Look how thou dost pale
And redden when I touch thee. Come, thine eyes.
Thine arms, thy lips, still shrinking? Israel's God!
Shall Herod coax his lawful wife for favors?
I say thou dost not love me, yea, moreover,
That thou dost lie when thou wouldst have me think
Thou dost not blame me for thy brother's death.
I know thou thinkest that I had him slain.

Mar. I do not think it, Herod. Dost thou think
I would be here if I believed it ?

Her. Where,

Where wouldst thou be, then ? Not here, say'st thou ?
Where then ? Speak, woman ! where ?

3Iar. Why, dead, maybe ;

But not with thee.

Her. Thou Hest I Didst thou die,

I'd have thy body brought into my chamber
And make my bed thy sepulchre.

Mar. Ay, Herod,

My body, but not me. Nay, my dear lord,
Why waste such moments as are left in strife
And harsh dissension ? Soon thou wilt be gone.
And Mariamne but a recollection.

Why dost thou doubt me ? AVhy should I not love thee,
Who art the chief of men and lovers ? Nay,
If, as thou sayest, I shrhik, it is because
My love doth fear the violence of thy love,
Not I thyself, — not Mariamne Herod.

Her. Love Ls not blind, as the Greeks fable it,


For lie (loth look from these fair eyes o' thine,
Else am I Pleasure's bondman.

3rar. Nay, not so.

Thou'rt husband to the truest wife in Jewry.

Jler. And the Ic^st loving.

Mar. Wilt thou wrong me still ?

I know not how to dress out love in words.
I ran but tell thee o'er and o'er again
The naketl fact, I love thee.

Her. Would to heaven

I knew what loving means to thee !

3far. I'll tell thee :

It means to put myself beyond myself.
To think of him I love in that self's stead,
To be sleep's enemy because of him.
Because of him to be the friend of pain.
To have no thought, no wish, no dream, no memory,
That is not servant to him ; to forget
All earlier loves in his, — all hales, all wrongs;
Being meek to him, though proud unto all others ;
Gentle to him, though to all others harsh ;
To him submissive, though unto high heaven
Something rebellious. Last, to keep my patience
And bear his doubts, who have his children borne.

He)'. Enough, enough. Thou most magnificent
Of queens and women, I will never doubt thee
After to-day.

Mar. Alas, my lord, to-morrow —

To-morrow'll be to-day.

Her. I will not doubt thee

So long as I do live.

Mar. Oh that thou wouldst not !

Doubt is the shaft wherewith Love wounds himself:
Doubt me no more, and Ix; no more unhappy.

Her. Alas ! unha])piness doth wait below
To ride with me, seeing I must leave thee, love,
And that for such a summons ! Jewry's throne !
Antony summon me? It is as though
The dog did whistle for his master.

3rar. Ay,

It is most insolent. But need'st thou go ?
Is it imperative?

Her. More than thou knowest.

Let us not talk of it. Tell me thou'lt miss me.
How wilt thou s])end the hours when I am gone?

^far. In wishing for the hour when thon'lt return.

Her. God's heart ! how I do love thee ! — Ha ! a step I
Gurs<''d be any that doth interruj)t us.
Though it be mine own mother !

3[ar. [^Slartlng away from him.~\ 'Tis thy mother.


Love me not in her presence, lest she hate me
The more for thy much loving.

Enter Cypkos.

Oyp. Good my son,

Thy horses wait for thee.

Her. Do thou likewise.

Seest thoii not that I am occupied ?

Oyp. A wife should urge her husband to his duty, —
Not keep him from it.

Her. Out ! Such musty maxims

Affront the air. Leave me. I'll send for thee
When I desire thee.

Gyp. Madam, wilt thou hear this

And say no word ?

Her. Thiuk'st thou that I'll hear that

And say no word ? Depart o' the instant !

3Iar. Nay,

I'll wait below. Thy mother hath some message, —
Some special word for thee. I will be there,
Fej\r not, to give thee my last love and blessing.
Now let me leave thee, as I love thee.

Her. Go, then.

Mar. Why dost thou say't so harshly ?

Her. If thou lovedst me

Tliou wouldst not be so ready to l>e gone.

Mar. Doubt'st me again ? Remember what thou saidst
A moment past, and to thy word be true.

Her. Well, go. I will believe thee. [Exit Mar.]

How now, mother?
What reason shall make good of this offence
To plead thy pardon ?

Cyp. Love, my son.

Her. What love

Can pardon plead for interrupting mine?
Thy love, sayest thou ? The love of all the mothers
Back counted unto Eve, and smelted down
In one huge mass, would not so much as make
My love a weaj)on.

Cyp. Then I'll say my pride.

Which guards thy dignity as 'twere mine own.

Her. My dignity ?

Oyp. Thy honor and thy dignity.

Her. My dignity ? My honor ? Quick, give word 1
What wouldst thou touch ?

Oyp. But that which touches thee.

Her. My honor ! By the tlirone of God, thy honor
Shall not survive this moment of thy speaking,
If thou hast played with me.

Oyp. Nay, good my son,


Think you a woman so infirm as I

Would take a lion-whelp for playtliing? Nay,
Dill I upon my knees approach the throne
Of i^reat Jehovah, I were not more serious.

Her. What then ? Give word. Who is it ? Hath some one
Proved treacherous in the household ?

Oyp. Ay, — the one

Who should above all else be faithful.

Her. What !

Joseph ? — my treasurer ? — thy son-in-law ?
What hath he done ? Speak, madam : I've no time
To tarry information.

Oyjp. Nay, not Joseph.

Her. Not Joseph ? Then 'tis Sohemus. By heaven I
Trust hath denied herself if he be false 1

Oyp. Neither is Sohemus the guilty one.

Her. Who is it, then ? Delay no longer, woman.
I'll have it, though it blast me ! Who Ls it ?

Oyp. Mayhap I had best tell thee the offence
Ere naming the offender?

Her. No, I say,

I'll hear the name. Who is it ?

Oyj>. Marianme.

Her. Thou liest ! Dost thou hear ? Thou liest ! Stop !
Keep from me. Come not near me. Thou'rt my mother.
But tempt me not with nearness, — tempt me not.
Dost know what 'tis to anger Herod ? Answer I
What! Mariamne? Mariamne false?
How false ? False to my bed ? Were this proved false,
I'd have thee burned to warm her bedchamber !
False? Mariamne? How? With whom? How false?
Down on thy knees and swear it !

Oyp. I do swear it.

But she is false only in thought, not deed.

Her. In thought ? In thought ? How canst thou know her
Tliis is a lie, and thou shalt die for it.
— Without, there !

Oyp. Herod, hear me. Call no witness

Unto thy shame.

Her. My shame ? Away I Away !

Oyp. Salome'll prove it.

Her. Though great God Himself

Came down as witness, I would not believe it I

Oyp. My son, if thou wouldst only let me speak

Her. Speak, then. But I do warn thee that thy life
Hangs in the balance. One thin thread of gold
From Mariamne's temple would outweigh it.

Oyp. I have had certain knowledge that thy wife
Hath sent her picture


Her. Ah ?

Oyp. To Antony.

Her. Woman, dost thou crave death, that thus thou tempt'st it?
To Antony ? To Antony ? Her picture ?
Hath sent her picture to Mark Antony,
The Egyptian harlot's lover ? She, my wife,
The queen of Jewry ? Mariamne ? She,
The wife of Herod ? Oh, if thou hast lied,
I'll have thy heart cut out and thrown straightway
Beneath the feet of Mariamne !

Oyp. Nay,

Thou sham'st thyself, my son, more than thou dost thy mother,
To give thy wrath the rein. I have had word.
I know the thing I speak. Salome, too,
Doth know it.

Her. That she hath her picture sent

Unto Mark Antony ?

Q/p. EVn 80.

Her. That she

God ! she shall come herself and answer this.

Oyp. Not so ; but wait until thou art arrived
In Laodicea, and then, in off-hand manner.
Bring up the subject to Mark Antony,
Or Gallius, or some one of his picked friends.
But carelessly, as though thou found' st it matter
For mirth.

Her. Ha 1 now I see why Antony

Hath summoned me.

Oyp. For what, my son ?

Her. For what ?

To take my life, that he may take my wife !
I see it all. It is a plot between them.
I see it ! Ha ! ha ! ha !

Oyp. Is this a time for laughter, Herod ?

Beseech you, quietly. At what dost laugh ?

Her. I laugh to think how I will foil them, madam !
Where's Joseph ? Where is Sohemus ?

Oyp. My son,

Sure thou wilt not word this to Sohemus, —
To Joseph ?

Her. I will word it to Beelzebub

If it doth pleasure me ! Out of my way !
Oh, I will play into their hands I I'll aid them !
I'll make them merry ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! Oh, I'll make them
merry I [^Exit, laughing.

Enter Salome.

Sal. Why laughed my brother ?

Oyp. At what should he laugh?

A Herod laughs where a mere man would weep.


Sal. Hast told him of the picture?

O/p. Ay.

Sal. What said he?

Oijp. He laughed, and asked me where thy husband was.

Sal. Asked thee where Josejih was?

Oi/p. Ay.

Sal. God above 1

This will niin all. Joseph would take her part
Against great heaven.

Oyp. But he cannot deny 't.

Sal. He'll find some means to soothe him.

Oyp. Well, so be it.

I've done all in ray power to ruin her.

Sal. Insolent vixen ! I would give one-half
Of my young life, could I but spend the other
In watching her aba.sement.

Oyp. Soft I Come on.

Herod returns this way. \^ExemU.

Enter Herod and Joseph.

Jos. What ! Sent her picture to Mark Antony?
Thy mother told thee this? Wilt thou believe it?

Her. Whether or not I do believe it, uncle,
I've a command for thee.

Jos. In all, my liege,

I'll prove obedient.

Her. Thou knowest, sir,

This summons is a dangerous one.

.fos. My lord,

God's kinghood watches over Israel's kings.

JTcr. But Israel's God hath naught to do, good uncle.
With Roman Antony. Lool? ! this command
Is one most sacred.

Jos. I will keep it, sire,

As mine own soul.

Her. Then, Jose])li, if that Antony

Doth take my life, do thou take Mariamne's ;
For even in death I would not be without her.

Jos. Dear my lord

Her. Say no word. Thou hast thy orders.

Jos. But kill her, sire? — thy queen, wliom thou so lovest?

Ha\ 'Tis for that reason I would have her slain.

Jos. But sure, my lord, this is a savage love.

Her. As savage as the heart it quickens. Look, sir 1
Thou wilt be faithful?

Jos. As unto my God.

Her. [ Taking off a rhif/.l Thus, then, I seal thee to me.
Wear tliis ring.
And never look on it but what thou thinkest
Of that which thou art sworn to.


Jos. I'll remember.

Her. Commend me to my mother and thy wife,
Also to Alexandra and Hyrcanus.
My queen doth wait for me without. Farewell.
Remember thou art sealed to this.

Jos. My lord,

Death will forget ere I do.

Her. Then farewell. [Exit

Jos. How he doth love her ! Yet a love more cruel
Than hottest hate. I know not, on my soul.
If Herod's hate or Herod's love be crueller.
Ay, to be Herod's wife were punishment
Enough for a she-angel grown rebellious,
Where Lucifer was hurled into a hell.
Scaled to his orders ? Sealed unto a murder !
Yet he hath ever used me kindly, — ay,
With trust and courtesy. It is this love.
Which makes a madman even of a king.
That hath so spurred him. Now would unto heaven
Salome did not so abhor the queen !
For, though imperious, she is a woman
To win the liking even of a woman.
She send her picture to Mark Antony !
Why, sooner would she scar her wondrous beauty
Than so unveil it to the eyes of lust.
She send the fool of Cleopatra love-tokens !
Nay, let the sea turn traitor to the moon
And fill some reedy pond for love I AYell, well.
Her innocence doth wait to welcome him
In Laodicea. \Ejcvt,

Enier Alexandra and Hyrcantjs.

Alex. What, father ! thou art with this Herod too ?
Thou think'st him guiltless ? Thou canst speak of him
With kindness, and thy only grandson dead
At his command ? Oh, are there mothers in heaven
Who have so suffered upon earth ? If so, —
If any such there be, to them I kneel.
To them cry out, to them denounce this Herod !

Hyr. My daughter, thou hast heavy grief to l)ear.

Alex. Help me to bear it, then ! Take thou thy sliare.
And help me to my vengeance ! Thou art king,
Thou art the king of Jewry, — not this Herod,
This low-born conqueror, this thief o' crowns,
This son of scorned Antipater ! Oh, I marvel
That thou canst eat, and drink, and sleep, and wake.
And call thyself Hyrcanus, and yet bear it !
Whence came his greatness? Whence his power? Yea,
And whence his crown ? The first two were thy gifts,
The third he stole to show his gratitude !


What, sire ! wilt thou endure 't, wilt sit so calm

While Fortune strips thee to make rich this traitor?

Kise, be a king once more ; nay, be a man I

Appeal unto the people ; they do love thee.

Resume thy throne, resume thy dignity.

Denounce this Herod ! Seize this Herod ! Slay this Herod

Hyr. More gently, good my daughter. I am old.

Alex. Ay, old in patience ! Make me but thine heir,
And I'll defy him.

Hyr. Nay, I crave but peace

As pillow for my age. My time to rule
Is past, and Time is ruler over me.
Believe me, thou dost somewhat wrong the man.
He is ambitious, but hath not kept all
Of this my kingdom.

Alex. What ! not all ? Not all ?

Oh, noble generosity ! Not all ?
Thy kingdom is thy spouse, and is there Ijeggar
So lost that he would share with any man
His lawful wife ? Ilyrcanus, O my father.
By thy white hairs I charge thee honor them
And give them back their crown !

Hyr. Dear daughter, patience.

Had I the wish, the means were not with me.

Alex. Take thou thy part, and God will give thee means.
Oh, would I were Hyrcanus, and a man !
Thou soon shouldst see this Herod made a slave !

Hyr. Hast thou forgot he is thy daughter's husband ?

Alex. Forgotten it ! Though memory were worn
So full of gaps 'twould not hold y&sterday.
That should be recollected ! What ! forgotten
A Herod's blood doth mingle in the veins
That should be clogged with it as with some poison ?
That my grandchildren are half Herod ? — she,
My child, their willing mother ? No, O God !
When I forget this thing, forget Thou me !

Enter Cypbos and Salome.

Oyp. Madam, thou dost talk loudly for a palace.

Alex. Madam, thou dost bilk pertly for a commoner.

Oyp. How ! Commoner ! The mother of King Herod ?

Alex. Common for that, if not a commoner.

Oyp. Insolent shrew ! dost not thou fear to word me ?

Alex. Insolent citizen ! dost not thou fear
To word me ?

Sal. Madam, best you have a care.

Hyr. Ay, good my daughter, j^ray you guard your tongue.
Who rouses Hate must look for hell to follow.
Come with me.



Alex. Nay, not 1. Let these go forth,

If they ^'oiild uot be worded.

Oyp. We go forth

At thy command ? Let God obey the devil.
Go thou forth, shrew.

Alex, Let God obey the devil.

For I will not.

Sal. Dost thou insinuate?

Oyp. Ay, dost thou dare ?

Hyr. Good Cypros, good Salome,

Good Alexandra

Alex. Ay, call evil good 1

It is thy trade, since thou'st called Herod generous.

Oyp. The king shall hear of this on his return. '
Ay, instantly !

Alex. He hath not yet departed.

Here is the lawful king of Israel [points to Hybcanus],
And here his daughter.

Oyp. Herod shall know of this.

Alex. Ay, tell the shoe that the foot chafes with it.
Do, gentle commoner ; do, citizen ; Cypros, do.

Hyr. Oh, daughter, daughter, you do dig a pit
And rush into it. — Please you, madam, patience.

Oyp. Dost tell me patience ? Thou hast heard her ? Come,
Salome : if the king be not yet gone.
He shall have word of this.

ScU. Ay, as I live !

[Exeunt Salome and Cypros.

Hyr. Oh, woe is me, my daugnter, that my life
May not glide onward stilly to its silence,
But thus by words be lashed into a storm
To toss this frail old bark that bears my soul.
Canst thou not feign a peace, though set for war ?
Surely thou need'st not use such taunting terms
As those with which thou hast just heaped the mother
And sister of the king.

Alex. The king again ?

And thou dost call him king ? More sovereignty
There is in this my tender woman's body
Than e'er was topped by thy lost diadem.
Let us begone. The very air's infected
That they have breathed. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.— Before the palace gates.
Mabiamne, 7vith her two sons, Axexander and AristobuLiUS.

3Iar. How long he tarries ! Run, my boys, run quickly,
And see if ye can glimpse him. [Exeunt boys.^ ^

This delay
Hath signs that make me fearful. What if Cypros

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