Daniel Bedinger Lucas.

Dramatic works of Daniel Bedinger Lucas online

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Edited by




With a Critical Introduction by
C. F. Tucker Brooke, A. M., B. Litt.

University of Virginia Edition



Copyright 1913 by Virginia Lucas
All Rights Reserved

The Oorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.


To the Memory of


"So do these chains give out a melody
Athwart my life, that soothes me, when

I think
Upon the CAUSE for which I suffer them."



IT was the fortune of Judge Lucas to view the
war between the States from somewhat novel
angles. As a life-long resident of that portion
of Virginia which suffered more than most
others during the strife and which had afterward to
endure the further permanent distress of political
alienation, it was natural for him to envisage the
war as a Colossus, all-embracing, all-consuming,
and heroic, dwarfing the common purposes of life
and exalting for ever certain generous unrealities.
It is this attitude of mind that of the representa-
tive Virginian of the Sixties which inspires many
of his finest lyrics, an attitude never accompanied
in his case by short-sightedness or bigotry, yet
instinct always with devotion to the One Cause.
The physical disability, however, which pre-
vented Mr. Lucas from following steadily the ban-
ners of one regiment, left him free to serve his
state and comrades in even more picturesque
fashion. It led him to carry his zeal through in-
teresting backwaters of the struggle, where the
clash of cause with cause, though always audible,
no longer filled the whole consciousness; where
comparative aloofness made it possible to observe
against the background of war the single indi-
vidual in his private career of love, adventure, or
intrigue. In such observation lay the genesis
of Mr. Lucas's plays. As memorials of the war
they have real interest, the interest attaching to


the record of a very keen and fortunately-placed
eye-witness; but the lights they throw are side-
lights, discovering small isolated groups of men
and women whose individual lives and characters
are not obscured, but rather the more strikingly
silhouetted against the cloud of distant war.

The manifold romantic incidents of blockade-
running, the bleak but stirring experiences of
prison-escape and Canadian exile, the rude emer-
gence of primitive instincts of law and right amid
the trebly fratricidal anarchy of the western
border states, were all familiar to the poet.
From them he has taken both the setting and the
atmosphere of his three plays; and in his presenta-
tion of the types and facts involved he shows often
an impartiality of political judgment rather
surprising in so ardent an adherent.

Readers, fortunate enough to remember Judge
Lucas from actual association, will doubtless feel
the impress of his rare mind and personality less
in the handling of plot and incident, clever as
these sometimes are, than in the lofty poetry of
many speeches and in the comic matter which he
has introduced with a luxuriance and variety
almost Elizabethan. Though ranging from in-
cisive satire of martial-law jurisprudence and
empirical political economy to mere purposeless
cascades of frothing pun and repartee, there is
hardly a line of comedy which seems to have come
slowly from the author's pen. Even when most


fantastic, it is hardly less spontaneous or more
brilliant than was his table talk.

Though Judge Lucas's most permanent contribu-
tion as a poet will doubtless be found, where he
would himself have indicated it, in his lyrics of
patriotism and sentiment, the poetic distinction
of his plays is quite indisputable. The use of
blank verse is never with him, as it has so often
been with closet dramatists, a mere presump-
tuous affectation or a garish cloak to cover the
writer's incapacity for realistic dialogue. In few
of his metrical scenes does he descend even tem-
porarily to the emotional level of prose. In
many passages the reader will be struck by his
high power and eloquence in describing natural
beauty or voicing exalted sentiment.

The most memorable single figure in the plays
is perhaps Hildebrand, a curious analogue and
reversal of the "Sturm und Drang" heroes of
waging desperate war against society, not like
the characters of Goethe and Schiller, in vindica-
tion of individual right against the corruptions
of a too self-centred and peace-loving com-
munity, but, paradoxically, in defence of the
right to abstain from civil war! Two short
extracts from Hildebrand 's speeches illustrate
both Mr. Lucas's metrical power and the force
with which he can put an argument clearly not
his own:


" My loyalty ! I 'm loyal to a fault !

More so than they who drench our land in blood !

Good sooth! the Northern hordes are loyal, are


Blazing their way by light of peaceful homes !
And you are loyal, as your leaders are,
Who forced this issue on the unwilling mass,
By firing first, without sufficient cause !
Both loyal ! all are loyal ! save the few
Who stand with folded arms and naked breasts,
And say : we will not dip our hands in blood;
We will not slay our brethren, but will feed,
Will clothe them all attend the sick will watch,
Will pray and while we have, divide our bread.
And share with all alike!"

(Act I, Scene I.)

" We dwelt here mountaineers,
Far from the caldron party -spirit boils
Free as our crystal springs or atmosphere;
We loved the Union, and our State no less,
We saw no cause for war, and made no outcry ;
We had few slaves, nor cared to fight for them,
Yet knew no right to challenge those who owned.
We were for peace and all that made for it. "

(Act, I Scene IV.)

The distinctive Southern attitude toward
States' Rights finds expression in yet more
poetic language in Carter Bland 's fine last speech


(KATE MCDONALD, Act IV, Scene II), which, in
Eland's plea for his associate, Pennington gives
an instance also of the author's power of vivid
and condensed description:

"I found him in his pupil's gown at school,

All full of puns and crudities of speech,

And such pedantic show of pretty words,

As students half articulate in speech

Stake all their reputation on when young.

I fired his fancy with my hopes and aims,

I led him from the paths of light and law

The porch and grove of old philosophy

The lecture bench and notes of scholiasts

The heights which science like a star illumes

To take a share with me in dangerous venture. "

The same high mastery of felicitous detail and
phrase appear in Hildebrand's description of his
sentinel, the eagle (Act II, Scene I), in the ex-
and in the picture of the evening on which Beall 's
attempt upon the prison of Johnson's Island
miscarried an issue momentous in the life of the
poet :

"The eve rose beautifully bright;
The Northern twilight bound the day to night
With bridge of gold, reflecting either shore;
Later, the evening-star arose, and soon


A shower of arrows, silver-tipped fell down
From out the horned quiver of the moon;
The Aurora flung great streams of milky light
Athwart the glory of the Northern sky;
Proud Sirius blazed, Orion answered him;
While sinking in the South, the Warrior waved
His sword of fire, and girt his golden belt !
Then Beall, the lion-hearted, neared the Isle,
And waited for the signals to ascend
But none disturbed the temper of the night. "

Yale University, January, 1913.


Introduction by C. F. Tucker Brooke, A. M.,


The Maid of Northumberland 9

Hildebrand 133

Kate McDonald.. 199




Affectionately inscribed as a token of the
Author's Friendship, and Appreciation.


Clarence Fauntleroy, The Blockade-Runner, (in
love with Mima.)

Fairfax Lamoir His Partner

Randal Glaive An Adventurer

Sergeant Johnson Randal in disguise

Rev. Felix Moss Same in disguise

Caspar Queen The Tollkeeper


Jesse Otter (Uncle Jess) Colored

Col. Matthews . . Officer in the Confederate Army

Lieut. Field His Adjutant

Ralph Simpson, Secret Agent of the Conscription


Captain Bain, Master in the Navy (attached to
Signal Corps)

Capt. Coke, Judge Advocate

Members of Court Martial, 'Longshoremen, Or-
derly, Citizens, Soldiers, Guard, etc.
Mima Queen Tollkeeper 's Daughter.

SCENE Northumberland, Virginia, opposite
Tangier Island, except Scene I, Act V., which is hi
New Kent.


SCENE I. Coast of Northumberland, opposite
Tangier Island.

Enter Fairfax Lamoir, Randal Glaive, and three
'Longshoremen, disembarking from the ''Wild
Duck. "

Thank God, on shore at last!


Thank God on shore !
1st 'Longshoreman.

Did I not say what Tangier Sound was, mates?
I pinted to the Light 'ouse showed just where
The Backbone split the water to Sou' West,
And warned all hands agin the venture said
I knowed we'd never make the mainland safe.

But you proved wrong, my friend we're safe at


And though the peril was more imminent
Than we foresaw, yet want of skill in us
Proved more in value than your prescience;
For had we known to read the clouds like you,
And seen them lettered with the coming storm,
Our courage might not have endured the risk,
To leave the Island, and beyond all doubt

The ship we saw, and gave the slip to her,
Ere this had captured us.


If forty ships,
Blackmouthed with more than forty hundred


Were steering toward the Isle, and I on her,
The fear of certain death by staying there,
Could not give me the heart and nerve again
To put that half -inch plank between my life
And my perdition !

' Long shoremen.

No, nor ourn, Captain !

All's well that ends well! and therefore adieu
To vague surmise of wat'ry grave, since we
Have safely rode the storm at last. Now who
Can tell what coast this is we've chanced upon?


Virginia certain; but for what degree
Of latitude what inlet, or what county,
I cannot certify.

3d 'Longshoreman.

Northumberland :

Behold upon the South, Old Bluff holds up
His signal head, while Windmill answers him
Still furder out; they are in Lancaster;
Now draw your lines between them two and us,
Then split the fork exact, you hit Stingray
In Middlesex; and here's Northumberland.

2d 'Longshoreman.

This hyuh's Northumberland, that's certain.


I do begin to recognize the coast,
Well known to me as faces of my friends,
And no less dear than known.

To other thanks which I owe God for shelter,
Must now be added that our haven proves
Just where my carrier wishes mailed my thoughts.
Good men and true brave partners of our peril
I must reward you amply for this service,
Beyond the hire we did contract.

[Gives the 'Shoreman gold.]

And Randal,

If you're for Richmond, on with me, for I
Know now my bearings, and can give you chart,
Although my journey ends upon this coast.
But first, assist me disembark my box,
And lend an arm to carry for a space;
For mind, it is not safe to linger here;
This region swarms with straggling partisans,
Who make no scruple of your purse or life.

[R. and F. disembark, carrying the Box.]
And, 'Shoremen, you had better row from hence,
And seek some shelter bss exposed to view.

We'll hug the shore, and haul up out of sight.

[The 'Longshoremen shove of. Fairfax and
Randal exeunt.}


A high promontory overleaning the Bay; a bit of
sea is visible on the right, and an old ruin not distant
on the left.

[Enter Fairfax and Randal bearing the box. Scen-
ic effect picturesque.}


Now from this point, we see the coast is clear;
Before we farther push our journey North,

This box must have from me concealing care
I fear to venture farther on with it:

[They set down the box.]

Tonight I will return and take it with me;
You must assist me in the present burial,
And for your friendly offices, hereafter,
You may command me if your need require.

I will pass on.


Nay stay; double my strength:
For I need expedition in my cause,
Lest some surprise o'ertake and ruin me.

[They dig with sharpened stakes.]
Were all graves so enfurnitured as this,
I'd be a resurrectionist by trade.


And I'd contract for Gabriel's office,
Ere every grave gave up its buried corpse.

You would not be afraid of ghosts?


Not I!

The ghosts that gold and silver can not lay
Are far too thin for danger, night or day.
[Aside.] And this I'll prove, ere he have time to

Is it not deep enough?


Not quite, I think;
A horse's hoof might penetrate the sand.

Hold there! I've broke my stake!



No matter

There lies a paddle; heave away the sand;
I'll rest awhile and survey up the beach

[Randal retires a short distance and sits down.}
[Aside] Tis rare that opportunity so tempts
A man, by laying treasures at his feet;
The fool himself invites me to the deed,
Gives vent to what I've smothered in my breast,
And bids my buried purpose germinate;
'Tis wartime, and adventure in the wind;
The crop of man is overgrown; let live
The fittest to survive and thrall the rest !
The thirsty earth, when drinking one spring more
Of human life, accounts it as a thing
Of no more value than her flinty sand,
That swallows it, and seems to cry for more !
For God, supposing there should be a God,
Has wound the world up for the century,
And gone to sleep, or fallen from his throne ;
And so, in humor with the blood-stained time,
I'll close on fortune ere she close on me :
My resolution falters now no more !
The deed must follow, where Temptation goes

before !


Are we still unobserved, and unapproached?
I think now we have depth enough: help here,
And we'll lift in the box.

[They lift it in; Uncle Jess passes between them
and the ruin unobserved.]

So, so: 'tis in:

Now shovel in the sand, and smoothly turn :
Then yonder stone with our joint strength we'll



Upon the grave, to mark for you alone
Where rests your treasury.

[They roll a large stone uponjthe spot.]


Child of my labor, and of perils born
Crusogenia of my toil lie there!
No curious worm shall batten on thy form,
For when his tooth shall strike in solid gold,
He'll rail against the cheat, as fraudulent,
And cry for legal tender say gold is but
Commodity no measure for good faith
To liquidate the debt of Nature with :
And that her broker worms, whose bargains call
For regiments of merchantable men,
Will none of it but will protest the contracts,
And so dissolve their syndicate !


Mark some device upon the stone,
Not too distinct, but yet discernible,
That you may note it, when none other shall.

[Fairfax engages himself in marking the stone
with his sailor's knife.]


There now, I've chiseled on its side a Cross,
In sign of Christian burial.

I hope, in sign of final resurrection.


Amen : now let us on, and up this height :
I long to breathe salt air again.


[Aside] Now Fortune like a wanton flings
From out the window of high heaven her signal,
To cheer my footsteps on to her embrace,
Or lead them down to ignominious death !
Perish the doubt that intercepts the step,
Which, thus invited, leads me to her favor

And let my courage overleap the height
Of all that stands between my wish and me!
[Aloud] The prospect, Fairfax, is it worth the


To such high eminence? If so, go out
Still further, and you'll see the waste expand
Ev'n to the Light House o'er the sandy bar.


'Tis true; the prospect widens toward the sea;
The Bay, so lately fretted by the gale,
Becalms himself within his wonted girth,
Immeasurably full of majesty
Immeasurably grand in all his ways
Immeasurably wayward in his strength,
Save this : that on his brow is written law,
And in his moods shines out Divinity,
That doth restrain him, and proclaim a'oud,
With godlike emphasis, above him still,
There is a Master, be He what He will !

Go farther out!


I will ! but follow me,
And we shall overpeer the precipice,
And gaze down on the sea !


I'm not so fearless on the foot as you,
And so I balance with this broken stake.
[Aside] Now is my opportunity

[Launches at Fairfax with the stake.]

O, foul! What would you!

[Fairfax falls over the precipice. Randal retires
and sits upon the stone.]

Randal [alone].

Well done, or rashly, still the deed is done !
And what is done so, never can be undone!
It may undo the doer : itself remains :
I must reflect upon my future course :

[after a pause.}

Sometimes 'tis true, as said, there's luck in leisure,
But oftener through expedition lies
The road to fortune, or to victory.
This treasure's mine by the oldest title known
To humankind: but what to do with it?
I can not carry it away :
No mule : an ass it may be, but no mule :
Let's see : there was a life between this prize
And me: now he is out of it: I heir
To all he owned and buried in this spot;
One eve, upon yon Isle, the humor took him,
And he described a maiden living near
Upon this coast, so beautiful in face,
So ripe, elastically turned in figure,
That fancy fired my heart with passion for her;
I'll seek her out, and follow fancy's bent
Until a favorable gale of fortune
Blow me some aid to run this treasure out
To Tangier Isle, or Chincoteague
Bravo ! a plot at last, engrafting love
Upon adventure with pleasure gilding profit !
Come here, smooth rolling stone I will imprint
A superscription to thy gravelly rind :
No other link I see 'twixt me and Nature :
Come here: some Fate, I know not what, nor


Imparts significance to thee, and bids
Me write my name upon thy smoothworn surface :
[He pencils his name on the stone. [
And this much further trust I to thy globe,
That I will throw thee where we never meet :

But if we should and if we should why then,
Be Fancy guardian of our further plight,
For thus she prompts me to indite :

[Writes o i the stone: reads aloud:]

Farewell! a long farewell

To conscience, turned to stone!

Should we two meet again, 'tis ill,
For I will do as thou art done,
And I will leap where thou art thrown!
[Throws the stone over the precipice. Exit]


The same.

Enter Clarence Fauntleroy and Mima Queen
bearing a box, which they set down, and take their
seat upon it.


Aye me! highdiddle, but I am tired!
Now would this burden of Confederate debt
Had fallen on some other arms than mine !


A pretty fall to call true money debt!
What would you name a credit, pray you, then?

I would not call such currency a credit!


In this it is a credit: owe we not
This debt?

So much I grant you, that we do.


Then owing it, and having this to pay it,
Does not this make a credit of our debt?

Provided that the debt be creditable!


Why every debt is creditable, when
'Tis paid, for if 'twere otherwise, no credit
Were given it : as thus : should I kiss you,
I were your debtor for a kiss so lent


And I in turn, your creditor become
To the score of a box on the left ear.


Which credit being left, the balance still
Requires more advances on my part


Nay, nay! I cry you set off! you denying
My plea, I must in turn decline your suit.
Whist ! here my father comes !

[Enter Caspar Queen.]

[Aside] If he

Be father near, I must be farther off!
[Aloud] I say, good friend, you're just in proper

To aid in burying your precious charge.


Well say you precious, since the box, my boy,
Contains, or holds within (which is the same,
The meaning being in no wise different),
The money I have taken from my gate
These more than three long years, now past and


All safely funded in Confederate Bonds,
Or Registered Certificates, which is
The same in substance and in meaning.


Whate'er the meaning be, I fear the substance
Will prove to be a very shadow, for


This currency on which is based your Bond,
Swells so in volume that the volume checks
The currency.


What would you beg? Is not the Nation's faith
So pledged? What! what! repudiate a debt,
So sacredly, and solemnly contracted?
No, no ! the public faith must be sustained !
The national honor shall be protected,
And every obligation met when due !


But who's to meet it? whence shall come the gold
Wherewith to make the sacred pledges good?


Now therein lies a fundamental error:
We need no gold

Well, whence the silver, then?


Nor silver either

You see you do not understand the laws
Of currency, and interchange of values
Political economy has made
A butt of you: burn all your books; come back
To great first principles, and solve
Me what is money? 'Tis a value mere,
Or measure, which is much the same import,
Without distinction in their several senses


A truce, good gentleman, or Ifshall lose
My several senses in this disputation,
And you, meanwhile, may lose your treasure here
By losing time. We come to bury money,
Not to praise it !


Well thought of, girl!

Fall to it, then, friend Fauntleroy, and when

You next may have a month or more to spare,
Come visit me, and I'll explain to you
The laws of labor!

Good, I will hold you to it.

And sing 's a song, Mima, while we dig.

[Caspar and Fauntleroy dig in the grounds

Mima sings.]
The leaves are falling to the ground,

The Southern skies grow pale,
The lark neglects his Summer sound,
The thrush forgets his tale
The thrush forgets his tale !

All desolately mute, the woods

With arms outstretched in prayers,

Remind our hearts of solitudes,
As vast, as calm as theirs
As vast, as calm as theirs !

The Westwind made the polished streams

His mirrors where he glassed;
Dark Evening dropt her crown of beams

To tempt him as he passed

To tempt him as he passed !

But now he blows ah me, he blows

So cold this wintry West,
That we would fold, like yonder wold,

Our bloom about our breast

Our bloom about our breast !

For now he blows ah me, he blows

So changed, this fickle West,
That we would close, like yonder rose,

Our bloom about our breast

Our bloom about our breast !



It is a melancholy song,

And sung much like her dear, departed mother.
Full many a year the season's sad refrain
Has troubled me with echoes like that song!
What time the soughing West goes o'er the Bay,
And makes wild music in the sobbing pines,
And bends the sedge upon the russet hills,
And shakes the hinges of my oaken gate,
And brines with mistings of the salty sea,
The ice-cold air about my cottage door,
Then miss I most my dead wife's tender mien,
And filled-up sympathy for all the race,
That overleaped the bounds of all degrees,
And made the whole world welcome at our fire !
O ! she was gentle, she was kind and good !
And when I stood beside her bed of death,
She gave into my arms this girl, a babe
With cherub smile, and angel eyes of blue
A lily woven in the very cypress
Of my grief: I took the tender thing,
And pledged her all a father's ceaseless care ;
Since then, as a perpetual celibate,
I've kept that pledge, dividing not my love,
But lavishing it all on you, my child
My Mima ! idol of my heart !

My Father! what a world of tenderness
Lies in the compass of your dear, old breast !
How can my life repay the debt I owe
Of gratitude, and piety to you !
Bless these dear, old, gray hairs and fond old

[Embraces him.}

[Aside] A scene like this I feel would be pro-


By stranger eyes, or ears, unless my own !

But O ! fond heart, with what delicious throb,

You grasp the future with anticipation,

When licensed by the dearest title known,

And ceremony sacredly confirmed,

I shall support this old man's steps, and pillow

All of the daughter's trials on this breast !

But from this reverie I must recall them

There's danger in our lingering here too long;

I'll speak to them:

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Online LibraryDaniel Bedinger LucasDramatic works of Daniel Bedinger Lucas → online text (page 1 of 13)