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Nay, blush not, gallant sir. You have seen, ere now,
Kings' daughters do worse things than spinning wool,
Yet never reddened. Speak your errand out.

C. Pama. I from your father, Madam -

Eliz. Oh! I divine;
And grieve that you so far have journeyed, sir,
Upon a bootless quest.

C. Pama. But hear me, Madam -
If you return with me (o'erwhelming honour!
For such mean bodyguard too precious treasure)
Your father offers to you half his wealth;
And countless hosts, whose swift and loyal blades
From traitorous grasp shall vindicate your crown.

Eliz. Wealth? I have proved it, and have tossed it from me:
I will not stoop again to load with clay.
War? I have proved that too: should I turn loose
On these poor sheep the wolf whose fangs have gored me,
God's bolt would smite me dead.

C. Pama. Madam, by his gray hairs he doth entreat you.

Eliz. Alas! small comfort would they find in me!
I am a stricken and most luckless deer,
Whose bleeding track but draws the hounds of wrath
Where'er I pause a moment. He has children
Bred at his side, to nurse him in his age -
While I am but an alien and a changeling,
Whom, ere my plastic sense could impress take
Either of his feature or his voice, he lost.

C. Pama. Is it so? Then pardon, Madam, but your father
Must by a father's right command -

Eliz. Command! Ay, that's the phrase of the world: well - tell
him,
But tell him gently too - that child and father
Are names, whose earthly sense I have forsworn,
And know no more: I have a heavenly spouse,
Whose service doth all other claims annul.

C. Wal. Ah, lady, dearest lady, be but ruled!
Your Saviour will be there as near as here.

Eliz. What? Thou too, friend? Dost thou not know me better?
Wouldst have me leave undone what I begin?
[To Count Pama] My father took the cross, sir: so did I:
As he would die at his post, so will I die:
He is a warrior: ask him, should I leave
This my safe fort, and well-proved vantage-ground,
To roam on this world's flat and fenceless steppes?

C. Pama. Pardon me, Madam, if my grosser wit
Fail to conceive your sense.

Eliz. It is not needed.
Be but the mouthpiece to my father, sir;
And tell him - for I would not anger him -
Tell him, I am content - say, happy - tell him
I prove my kin by prayers for him, and masses
For her who bore me. We shall meet on high.
And say, his daughter is a mighty tree,
From whose wide roots a thousand sapling suckers,
Drink half their life; she dare not snap the threads,
And let her offshoots wither. So farewell.
Within the convent there, as mine own guests,
You shall be fitly lodged. Come here no more.

C. Wal. C. Pama. Farewell, sweet Saint! [Exeunt.]

Eliz. May God go with you both.
No! I will win for him a nobler name,
Than captive crescents, piles of turbaned heads,
Or towns retaken from the Tartar, give.
In me he shall be greatest; my report
Shall through the ages win the quires of heaven
To love and honour him; and hinds, who bless
The poor man's patron saint, shall not forget
How she was fathered with a worthy sire. [Exit.]


SCENE III


Night. Interior of Elizabeth's hut. A leprous boy sleeping on a
Mattress. Elizabeth watching by him.]

Eliz. My shrunk limbs, stiff from many a blow,
Are crazed with pain.
A long dim formless fog-bank, creeping low,
Dulls all my brain.

I remember two young lovers,
In a golden gleam.
Across the brooding darkness shrieking hovers
That fair, foul dream.

My little children call to me,
'Mother! so soon forgot?'
From out dark nooks their yearning faces startle me,
Go, babes! I know you not!

Pray! pray! or thou'lt go mad.
. . . . .
The past's our own:
No fiend can take that from us! Ah, poor boy!
Had I, like thee, been bred from my black birth-hour
In filth and shame, counting the soulless months
Only by some fresh ulcer! I'll be patient -
Here's something yet more wretched than myself.
Sleep thou on still, poor charge - though I'll not grudge
One moment of my sickening toil about thee,
Best counsellor - dumb preacher, who dost warn me
How much I have enjoyed, how much have left,
Which thou hast never known. How am I wretched?
The happiness thou hast from me, is mine,
And makes me happy. Ay, there lies the secret -
Could we but crush that ever-craving lust
For bliss, which kills all bliss, and lose our life,
Our barren unit life, to find again
A thousand lives in those for whom we die.
So were we men and women, and should hold
Our rightful rank in God's great universe,
Wherein, in heaven and earth, by will or nature,
Nought lives for self - All, all - from crown to footstool -
The Lamb, before the world's foundations slain -
The angels, ministers to God's elect -
The sun, who only shines to light a world -
The clouds, whose glory is to die in showers -
The fleeting streams, who in their ocean-graves
Flee the decay of stagnant self-content -
The oak, ennobled by the shipwright's axe -
The soil, which yields its marrow to the flower -
The flower, which feeds a thousand velvet worms,
Born only to be prey for every bird -
All spend themselves for others: and shall man,
Earth's rosy blossom - image of his God -
Whose twofold being is the mystic knot
Which couples earth and heaven - doubly bound
As being both worm and angel, to that service
By which both worms and angels hold their life -
Shall he, whose every breath is debt on debt,
Refuse, without some hope of further wage
Which he calls Heaven, to be what God has made him?
No! let him show himself the creature's lord
By freewill gift of that self-sacrifice
Which they perforce by nature's law must suffer.
This too I had to learn (I thank thee, Lord!),
To lie crushed down in darkness and the pit -
To lose all heart and hope - and yet to work.
What lesson could I draw from all my own woes -
Ingratitude, oppression, widowhood -
While I could hug myself in vain conceits
Of self-contented sainthood - inward raptures -
Celestial palms - and let ambition's gorge
Taint heaven, as well as earth? Is selfishness
For time, a sin - spun out to eternity
Celestial prudence? Shame! Oh, thrust me forth,
Forth, Lord, from self, until I toil and die
No more for Heaven and bliss, but duty, Lord,
Duty to Thee, although my meed should be
The hell which I deserve!

[Sleeps.]

[Two women enter.]

1st Woman. What! snoring still? 'Tis nearly time to wake her
To do her penance.

2d Woman. Wait a while, for love:
Indeed, I am almost ashamed to punish
A bag of skin and bones.

1st Woman. 'Tis for her good:
She has had her share of pleasure in this life
With her gay husband; she must have her pain.
We bear it as a thing of course; we know
What mortifications are, although I say it
That should not.

2d Woman. Why, since my old tyrant died,
Fasting I've sought the Lord, like any Anna,
And never tasted fish, nor flesh, nor fowl,
And little stronger than water.

1st Woman. Plague on this watching!
What work, to make a saint of a fine lady!
See now, if she had been some labourer's daughter,
She might have saved herself, for aught he cared;
But now -

2d Woman. Hush! here the master comes:
I hear him. -

[Conrad enters.]

Con. My peace, most holy, wise, and watchful wardens!
She sleeps? Well, what complaints have you to bring
Since last we met? How? blowing up the fire?
Cold is the true saint's element - he thrives
Like Alpine gentians, where the frost is keenest -
For there Heaven's nearest - and the ether purest -
[Aside] And he most bitter.

2d Woman. Ah! sweet master,
We are not yet as perfect as yourself.

Con. But how has she behaved?

1st Woman. Just like herself -
Now ruffling up like any tourney queen;
Now weeping in dark corners; then next minute
Begging for penance on her knees.

2d Woman. One trick's cured;
That lust of giving; Isentrude and Guta,
The hussies, came here begging but yestreen,
Vowed they were starving.

Con. Did she give to them?

2d Woman. She told them that she dared not.

Con. Good. For them,
I will take measures that they shall not want:
But see you tell her not: she must be perfect.

1st Woman. Indeed, there's not much chance of that a while.
There's others, might be saints, if they were young,
And handsome, and had titles to their names,
If they were helped toward heaven, now -

Con. Silence, horse-skull!
Thank God, that you are allowed to use a finger
Towards building up His chosen tabernacle.

2d Woman. I consider that she blasphemes the means of grace.

Con. Eh? that's a point, indeed.

2d Woman. Why, yesterday,
Within the church, before a mighty crowd,
She mocked at all the lovely images,
And said 'the money had been better spent
On food and clothes, instead of paint and gilding:
They were but pictures, whose reality
We ought to bear within us.'

Con. Awful doctrine!

1st Woman. Look at her carelessness, again - the distaff
Or woolcomb in her hands, even on her bed.
Then, when the work is done, she lets those nuns
Cheat her of half the price.

2d Woman. The Aldenburgers.

Con. Well, well, what more misdoings?
[aside] Pah! I am sick on't.
[Aloud] Go sit, and pray by her until she wakes.

]The women retire. Conrad sits down by the fire.]

I am dwindling to a peddling chamber-chaplain,
Who hunts for crabs and ballads in maids' sleeves,
I, who have shuffled kingdoms. Oh! 'tis easy
To beget great deeds; but in the rearing of them -
The threading in cold blood each mean detail,
And furzebrake of half-pertinent circumstance -
There lies the self-denial.

Women [in a low voice]. Master! sir! look here!

Eliz. [rising]. Have mercy, mercy, Lord!

Con. What is it, my daughter? No - she answers not -
Her eyeballs through their sealed lids are bursting,
And yet she sleeps: her body does but mimic
The absent soul's enfranchised wanderings
In the spirit-world.

Eliz. Oh! she was but a worldling!
And think, good Lord, if that this world is hell,
What wonder if poor souls whose lot is fixed here,
Meshed down by custom, wealth, rank, pleasure, ignorance,
Do hellish things in it? Have mercy, Lord;
Even for my sake, and all my woes, have mercy!

Con. There! she is laid again - Some bedlam dream.
So - here I sit; am I a guardian angel
Watching by God's elect? or nightly tiger,
Who waits upon a dainty point of honour
To clutch his prey, till it shall wake and move?
We'll waive that question: there's eternity
To answer that in.
How like a marble-carven nun she lies
Who prays with folded palms upon her tomb,
Until the resurrection! Fair and holy!
O happy Lewis! Had I been a knight -
A man at all - What's this? I must be brutal,
Or I shall love her: and yet that's no safeguard;
I have marked it oft: ay - with that devilish triumph
Which eyes its victim's writhings, still will mingle
A sympathetic thrill of lust - say, pity.

Eliz. [awaking]. I am heard! She is saved!
Where am I? What! have I overslept myself?
Oh, do not beat me! I will tell you all -
I have had awful dreams of the other world.

1st Woman. Ay! ay! a fine excuse for lazy women,
Who cry nightmare with lying on their backs.

Eliz. I will be heard! I am a prophetess!
God hears me, why not ye?

Con. Quench not the Spirit:
If He have spoken, daughter, we must listen.

Eliz. Methought from out the red and heaving earth
My mother rose, whose broad and queenly limbs
A fiery arrow did impale, and round
Pursuing tongues oozed up of nether fire,
And fastened on her: like a winter-blast
Among the steeples, then she shrieked aloud,
'Pray for me, daughter; save me from this torment,
For thou canst save!' And then she told a tale;
It was not true - my mother was not such -
O God! The pander to a brother's sin!

1st Woman. There now? The truth is out! I told you, sister,
About that mother -

Con. Silence, hags! what then?

Eliz. She stretched her arms, and sank. Was it a sin
To love that sinful mother? There I lay -
And in the spirit far away I prayed;
What words I spoke, I know not, nor how long;
Until a small still voice sighed, 'Child, thou art heard:'
Then on the pitchy dark a small bright cloud
Shone out, and swelled, and neared, and grew to form,
Till from it blazed my pardoned mother's face
With nameless glory! Nearer still she pressed,
And bent her lips to mine - a mighty spasm
Ran crackling through my limbs, and thousand bells
Rang in my dizzy ears - And so I woke.

Con. 'Twas but a dream.

Eliz. 'Twas more! 'twas more! I've tests:
From youth I have lived in two alternate worlds,
And night is live like day. This was no goblin!
'Twas a true vision, and my mother's soul
Is freed by my poor prayers from penal files,
And waits for me in bliss.

Con. Well - be it so then.
Thou seest herein what prize obedience merits.
Now to press forwards: I require your presence
Within the square, at noon, to witness there
The fiery doom - most just and righteous doom -
Of two convicted and malignant heretics,
Who at the stake shall expiate their crime,
And pacify God's wrath against this land.

Eliz. No! no! I will not go!

Con. What's here? Thou wilt not?
I'll drive thee there with blows.

Eliz. Then I will bear them,
Even as I bore the last, with thankful thoughts
Upon those stripes my Lord endured for me.
Oh, spare them, sir! poor blindfold sons of men!
No saint but daily errs, - and must they burn,
Ah, God! for an opinion?

Con. Fool! opinions?
Who cares for their opinions? 'Tis rebellion
Against the system which upholds the world
For which they die: so, lest the infection spread,
We must cut off the members, whose disease
We'd pardon, could they keep it to themselves.

[Elizabeth weeps.]

Well, I'll not urge it, - Thou hast other work -
But for thy petulant words do thou this penance:
I do forbid thee here, to give henceforth
Food, coin, or clothes, to any living soul.
Thy thriftless waste doth scandalise the elect,
And maim thine usefulness: thou dost elude
My wise restrictions still: 'Tis great, to live
Poor, among riches; when thy wealth is spent,
Want is not merit, but necessity.

Eliz. Oh, let me give!
That only pleasure have I left on earth!

Con. And for that very cause thou must forego it,
And so be perfect. She who lives in pleasure
Is dead, while yet she lives; grace brings no merit
When 'tis the express of our own self-will.
To shrink from what we practise; do God's work
In spite of loathings; that's the path of saints.
I have said. [Exit with the women.]

Eliz. Well! I am freezing fast - I have grown of late
Too weak to nurse my sick; and now this outlet,
This one last thawing spring of fellow-feeling,
Is choked with ice - Come, Lord, and set me free.
Think me not hasty! measure not mine age,
O Lord, by these my four-and-twenty winters.
I have lived three lives - three lives.
For fourteen years I was an idiot girl:
Then I was born again; and for five years,
I lived! I lived! and then I died once more; -
One day when many knights came marching by,
And stole away - we'll talk no more of that.
And so these four years since, I have been dead,
And all my life is hid with Christ in God.
Nunc igitur dimittas, Domine, servam tuam.


SCENE IV


The same. Elizabeth lying on straw in a corner. A crowd of women
round her. Conrad entering.

Con. As I expected -
A sermon-mongering herd about her death-bed,
Stifling her with fusty sighs, as flocks of rooks
Despatch, with pious pecks, a wounded brother.
Cant, howl, and whimper! Not an old fool in the town
Who thinks herself religious, but must see
The last of the show and mob the deer to death.
[Advancing] Hail! holy ones! How fares your charge to-day?

Abbess. After the blessed sacrament received,
As surfeited with those celestial viands,
And with the blood of life intoxicate,
She lay entranced: and only stirred at times
To eructate sweet edifying doctrine
Culled from your darling sermons.

Woman. Heavenly grace
Imbues her so throughout, that even when pricked
She feels no pain.

Con. A miracle, no doubt.
Heaven's work is ripe, and like some more I know,
Having begun in the spirit, in the flesh
She's now made perfect: she hath had warnings, too,
Of her decease; and prophesied to me,
Three weeks ago, when I lay like to die,
That I should see her in her coffin yet.

Abbess. 'Tis said, she heard in dreams her Saviour call her
To mansions built for her from everlasting.

Con. Ay, so she said.

Abbess. But tell me, in her confession
Was there no holy shame - no self-abhorrence
For the vile pleasures of her carnal wedlock?

Con. She said no word thereon: as for her shrift,
No Chrisom child could show a chart of thoughts
More spotless than were hers.

Nun. Strange, she said nought;
I had hoped she had grown more pure.

Con. When, next, I asked her,
How she would be interred; 'In the vilest weeds,'
Quoth she, 'my poor hut holds; I will not pamper
When dead, that flesh, which living I despised.
And for my wealth, see it to the last doit
Bestowed upon the poor of Christ.'

2d Woman. O grace!

3d Woman. O soul to this world poor, but rich toward God!

Eliz. [awaking]. Hark! how they cry for bread!
Poor souls! be patient!
I have spent all -
I'll sell myself for a slave - feed them with the price.
Come, Guta! Nurse! We must be up and doing!
Alas! they are gone, and begging!
Go! go! They'll beat me, if I give you aught:
I'll pray for you, and so you'll go to Heaven.
I am a saint - God grants me all I ask.
But I must love no creature. Why, Christ loved -
Mary he loved, and Martha, and their brother -
Three friends! and I have none!
When Lazarus lay dead, He groaned in spirit,
And wept - like any widow - Jesus wept!
I'll weep, weep, weep! pray for that 'gift of tears.'
They took my friends away, but not my eyes,
Oh, husband, babes, friends, nurse! To die alone!
Crack, frozen brain! Melt, icicle within!

Women. Alas! sweet saint! By bitter pangs she wins
Her crown of endless glory!

Con. But she wins it!
Stop that vile sobbing! she's unmanned enough
Without your maudlin sympathy.

Eliz. What? weeping?
Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me -
Weep for yourselves.

Women. We do, alas! we do!
What are we without you? [A pause.]

Woman. Oh, listen, listen!
What sweet sounds from her fast-closed lips are welling,
As from the caverned shaft, deep miners' songs?

Eliz. [in a low voice]. Through the stifling room
Floats strange perfume;
Through the crumbling thatch
The angels watch,
Over the rotting roof-tree.
They warble, and flutter, and hover, and glide,
Wafting old sounds to my dreary bedside,
Snatches of songs which I used to know
When I slept by my nurse, and the swallows
Called me at day-dawn from under the eaves.
Hark to them! Hark to them now -
Fluting like woodlarks, tender and low -
Cool rustling leaves - tinkling waters -
Sheepbells over the lea -
In their silver plumes Eden-gales whisper -
In their hands Eden-lilies - not for me - not for me -
No crown for the poor fond bride!
The song told me so,
Long, long ago,
How the maid chose the white lily;
But the bride she chose
The red red rose,
And by its thorn died she.
Well - in my Father's house are many mansions -
I have trodden the waste howling ocean-foam,
Till I stand upon Canaan's shore,
Where Crusaders from Zion's towers call me home,
To the saints who are gone before.

Con. Still on Crusaders? [Aside.]

Abbess. What was that sweet song, which just now, my Princess,
You murmured to yourself?

Eliz. Did you not hear
A little bird between me and the wall,
That sang and sang?

Abbess. We heard him not, fair Saint.

Eliz. I heard him, and his merry carol revelled
Through all my brain, and woke my parched throat
To join his song: then angel melodies
Burst through the dull dark, and the mad air quivered
Unutterable music. Nay, you heard him.

Abbess. Nought save yourself.

Eliz. Slow hours! Was that the cock-crow?

Woman. St. Peter's bird did call.

Eliz. Then I must up -
To matins, and to work - No, my work's over.
And what is it, what?
One drop of oil on the salt seething ocean!
Thank God, that one was born at this same hour,
Who did our work for us: we'll talk of Him:
We shall go mad with thinking of ourselves -
We'll talk of Him, and of that new-made star,
Which, as he stooped into the Virgin's side,
From off His finger, like a signet-gem,
He dropped in the empyrean for a sign.
But the first tear He shed at this His birth-hour,
When He crept weeping forth to see our woe,
Fled up to Heaven in mist, and hid for ever
Our sins, our works, and that same new-made star.

Woman. Poor soul! she wanders!

Con. Wanders, fool? her madness
Is worth a million of your paters, mumbled
At every station between -

Eliz. Oh! thank God
Our eyes are dim! What should we do, if he,
The sneering fiend, who laughs at all our toil,
Should meet us face to face?

Con. We'd call him fool.

Eliz. There! There! Fly, Satan, fly! 'Tis gone!

Con. The victory's gained at last!
The fiend is baffled, and her saintship sure!
O people blest of Heaven!

Eliz. O master, master,
You will not let the mob, when I lie dead,
Make me a show - paw over all my limbs -
Pull out my hair - pluck off my finger-nails -
Wear scraps of me for charms and amulets,
As if I were a mummy, or a drug?
As they have done to others - I have seen it -
Nor set me up in ugly naked pictures
In every church, that cold world-hardened wits
May gossip o'er my secret tortures? Promise -
Swear to me! I demand it!

Con. No man lights
A candle, to be hid beneath a bushel:
Thy virtues are the Church's dower: endure
All which the edification of the faithful
Makes needful to be published.

Eliz. O my God!
I had stripped myself of all, but modesty!
Dost Thou claim yet that victim? Be it so.
Now take me home! I have no more to give Thee!
So weak - and yet no pain - why, now naught ails me!
How dim the lights burn! Here -
Where are you, children?
Alas! I had forgotten.
Now I must sleep - for ere the sun shall rise,
I must begone upon a long, long journey
To him I love.

Con. She means her heavenly Bridegroom -
The Spouse of souls.

Eliz. I said, to him I love.
Let me sleep, sleep.
You will not need to wake me - so - good-night.

[Folds herself into an attitude of repose. The scene closes.]



ACT V



SCENE I. A.D. 1235.


A Convent at Marpurg. Cloisters of the infirmary. Two aged monks
sitting.

1st Monk. So they will publish to-day the Landgravine's
canonisation, and translate her to the new church prepared for her.
Alack, now, that all the world should be out sight-seeing and saint-
making, and we laid up here, like two lame jackdaws in a belfry!

2d Monk. Let be, man - let be. We have seen sights and saints in
our time. And, truly, this insolatio suits my old bones better than
processioning.

1st Monk. 'Tis pleasant enough in the sun, were it not for the
flies. Look - there's a lizard. Come you here, little run-about;
here's game for you.

2d Monk. A tame fool, and a gay one - Munditiae mundanis.

1st Monk. Catch him a fat fly - my hand shaketh.

2d Monk. If one of your new-lights were here, now, he'd pluck him
for a fiend, as Dominic did the live sparrow in chapel.

1st Monk. There will be precious offerings made to-day, of which
our house will get its share.

2d Monk. Not we; she always favoured the Franciscans most.

1st Monk. 'Twas but fair - they were her kith and kin.
She lately put on the habit of their third minors.

2d Monk. So have half the fine gentlemen and ladies in Europe.
There's one of your new inventions, now, for letting grand folks
serve God and mammon at once, and emptying honest monasteries, where
men give up all for the Gospel's sake. And now these Pharisees of
Franciscans will go off with full pockets -

1st Monk. While we poor publicans -

2d Monk. Shall not come home all of us justified, I think.

1st Monk. How? Is there scandal among us?

2d Monk. Ask not - ask not. Even a fool, when he holds his peace,
is counted wise. Of all sins, avoid that same gossiping.

1st Monk. Nay, tell me now. Are we not like David and Jonathan?
Have we not worked together, prayed together, journeyed together,
and been soundly flogged together, more by token, any time this
forty years? And now is news so plenty, that thou darest to defraud
me of a morsel?

2d Monk. I'll tell thee - but be secret. I knew a man hard by the
convent [names are dangerous, and a bird of the air shall carry the
matter], one that hath a mighty eye for a heretic, if thou knowest
him.

1st Monk. Who carries his poll screwed on over-tight, and sits with


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