Part 25 out of 32
There are invisible doors that shut me in,
And keep me ever steadfast to my purpose.
Thou hast the patience and the faith of Saints!
Thy Priest hath been with me this day to save me,
Not only from the death that comes to all,
But from the second death!
My heart revolts against him and his creed!
Alas! the coat that was without a seam
Is rent asunder by contending sects;
Each bears away a portion of the garment,
Blindly believing that he has the whole!
When Death, the Healer, shall have touched our eyes
With moist clay of the grave, then shall we see
The truth as we have never yet beheld it.
But he that overcometh shall not be
Hurt of the second death. Has he forgotten
The many mansions in our father's house?
There is no pity in his iron heart!
The hands that now bear stamped upon their palms
The burning sign of Heresy, hereafter
Shall be uplifted against such accusers,
And then the imprinted letter and its meaning
Will not be Heresy, but Holiness!
Remember, thou condemnest thine own father!
I have no father! He has cast me off.
I am as homeless as the wind that moans
And wanders through the streets. Oh, come with me!
Do not delay. Thy God shall be my God,
And where thou goest I will go.
Yet will I not deny it, nor conceal it;
From the first moment I beheld thy face
I felt a tenderness in my soul towards thee.
My mind has since been inward to the Lord,
Waiting his word. It has not yet been spoken.
I cannot wait. Trust me. Oh, come with me!
In the next room, my father, an old man,
Sitteth imprisoned and condemned to death,
Willing to prove his faith by martyrdom;
And thinkest thou his daughter would do less?
Oh, life is sweet, and death is terrible!
I have too long walked hand in hand with death
To shudder at that pale familiar face.
But leave me now. I wish to be alone.
Not yet. Oh, let me stay.
Urge me no more.
Alas! good-night. I will not say good-by!
Put this temptation underneath thy feet.
To him that overcometh shall be given
The white stone with the new name written on it,
That no man knows save him that doth receive it,
And I will give thee a new name, and call thee
Paul of Damascus, and not Saul of Tarsus.
[Exit ENDICOTT. EDITH sits down again to read the Bible.
SCENE I. -- King Street, in front of the town-house. KEMPTHORN
in the pillory. MERRY and a crowd of lookers-on.
The world is full of care,
Much like unto a bubble;
Women and care, and care and women,
And women and care and trouble.
Good Master Merry, may I say confound?
Ay, that you may.
Well, then, with your permission,
Confound the Pillory!
That's the very thing
The joiner said who made the Shrewsbury stocks.
He said, Confound the stocks, because they put him
Into his own. He was the first man in them.
For swearing, was it?
No, it was for charging;
He charged the town too much; and so the town,
To make things square, set him in his own stocks,
And fined him five pounds sterling,--just enough
To settle his own bill.
And served him right;
But, Master Merry, is it not eight bells?
For, do you see? I'm getting tired
Of being perched aloft here in this cro' nest
Like the first mate of a whaler, or a Middy
Mast-headed, looking out for land! Sail ho!
Here comes a heavy-laden merchant-man
With the lee clews eased off and running free
Before the wind. A solid man of Boston.
A comfortable man, with dividends,
And the first salmon, and the first green peas.
A gentleman passes.
He does not even turn his head to look.
He's gone without a word. Here comes another,
A different kind of craft on a taut bow-line,--
Deacon Giles Firmin the apothecary,
A pious and a ponderous citizen,
Looking as rubicund and round and splendid
As the great bottle in his own shop window!
DEACON FIRMIN passes.
And here's my host of the Three Mariners,
My creditor and trusty taverner,
My corporal in the Great Artillery!
He's not a man to pass me without speaking.
COLE looks away and passes.
Don't yaw so; keep your luff, old hypocrite!
Respectable, ah yes, respectable,
You, with your seat in the new Meeting-house,
Your cow-right on the Common! But who's this?
I did not know the Mary Ann was in!
And yet this is my old friend, Captain Goldsmith,
As sure as I stand in the bilboes here.
Why, Ralph, my boy!
Enter RALPH GOLDSMITH.
Why, Simon, is it you?
Set in the bilboes?
Chock-a-block, you see,
And without chafing-gear.
And what's it for?
Ask that starbowline with the boat-hook there,
That handsome man.
In this town
They put sea-captains in the stocks for swearing,
And Quakers for not swearing. So look out.
I pray you set him free; he meant no harm;
'T is an old habit he picked up afloat.
Well, as your time is out, you may come down,
The law allows you now to go at large
Like Elder Oliver's horse upon the Common.
Now, hearties, bear a hand! Let go and haul.
KEMPTHORN is set free, and comes forward, shaking GOLDSMITH'S
Give me your hand, Ralph. Ah, how good it feels!
The hand of an old friend.
God bless you, Simon!
Now let us make a straight wake for the tavern
Of the Three Mariners, Samuel Cole commander;
Where we can take our ease, and see the shipping,
And talk about old times.
First I must pay
My duty to the Governor, and take him
His letters and despatches. Come with me.
I'd rather not. I saw him yesterday.
Then wait for me at the Three Nuns and Comb.
I thank you. That's too near to the town pump.
I will go with you to the Governor's,
And wait outside there, sailing off and on;
If I am wanted, you can hoist a signal.
Shall I go with you and point out the way?
Oh no, I thank you. I am not a stranger
Here in your crooked little town.
How now, sir?
Do you abuse our town? [Exit.
Oh, no offence.
Ralph, I am under bonds for a hundred pound.
Hard lines. What for?
To take some Quakers back
I brought here from Barbadoes in the Swallow.
And how to do it I don't clearly see,
For one of them is banished, and another
Is sentenced to be hanged! What shall I do?
Just slip your hawser on some cloudy night;
Sheer off, and pay it with the topsail, Simon!
SCENE II. -- Street in front of the prison. In the background a
gateway and several flights of steps leading up terraces to the
Governor's house. A pump on one side of the street. JOHN
ENDICOTT, MERRY, UPSALL, and others. A drum beats.
Oh shame, shame, shame!
Yes, it would be a shame
But for the damnable sin of Heresy!
A woman scourged and dragged about our streets!
Well, Roxbury and Dorchester must take
Their share of shame. She will he whipped in each!
Three towns, and Forty Stripes save one; that makes
Thirteen in each.
And are we Jews or Christians?
See where she comes, amid a gaping crowd!
And she a child. Oh, pitiful! pitiful!
There's blood upon her clothes, her hands, her feet!
Enter MARSHAL and a drummer. EDITH, stripped to the waist,
followed by the hangman with a scourge, and a noisy crowd.
Here let me rest one moment. I am tired.
Will some one give me water?
At his peril.
Alas! that I should live to see this day!
Did I forsake my father and my mother
And come here to New England to see this?
I am athirst. Will no one give me water?
JOHN ENDICOTT (making his way through the crowd with water).
In the Lord's name!
In his name I receive it!
Sweet as the water of Samaria's well
This water tastes. I thank thee. Is it thou?
I was afraid thou hadst deserted me.
Never will I desert thee, nor deny thee.
O Master Endicott,
Be careful what you say.
Peace, idle babbler!
You'll rue these words!
Art thou not better now?
They've struck me as with roses.
Ah, these wounds!
These bloody garments!
It is granted me
To seal my testimony with my blood.
O blood-red seal of man's vindictive wrath!
O roses in the garden of the Lord!
I, of the household of Iscariot,
I have betrayed in thee my Lord and Master.
WENLOCK CHRISTISON appears above, at the window of the prison,
stretching out his hands through the bars.
Be of good courage, O my child! my child!
Blessed art thou when men shall persecute thee!
Fear not their faces, saith the Lord, fear not,
For I am with thee to deliver thee.
Who is it crying from the prison yonder.
It is old Wenlock Christison.
Him who was scourged, and mocked, and crucified!
I see his messengers attending thee.
Be steadfast, oh, be steadfast to the end!
EDITH (with exultation).
I cannot reach thee with these arms, O father!
But closely in my soul do I embrace thee
And hold thee. In thy dungeon and thy death
I will be with thee, and will comfort thee
Come, put an end to this. Let the drum beat.
The drum beats. Exeunt all but JOHN ENDICOTT, UPSALL, and MERRY.
Dear child, farewell! Never shall I behold
Thy face again with these bleared eyes of flesh;
And never wast thou fairer, lovelier, dearer
Than now, when scourged and bleeding, and insulted
For the truth's sake. O pitiless, pitiless town!
The wrath of God hangs over thee; and the day
Is near at hand when thou shalt be abandoned
To desolation and the breeding of nettles.
The bittern and the cormorant shall lodge
Upon thine upper lintels, and their voice
Sing in thy windows. Yea, thus saith the Lord!
Awake! awake! ye sleepers, ere too late,
And wipe these bloody statutes from your books!
Take heed; the walls have ears!
At last, the heart
Of every honest man must speak or break!
Enter GOVERNOR ENDICOTT with his halberdiers.
What is this stir and tumult in the street?
Worshipful sir, the whipping of a girl,
And her old father howling from the prison.
ENDICOTT (to his halberdiers).
O thou that slayest the Maccabees! The Lord
Shall smite thee with incurable disease,
And no man shall endure to carry thee!
Peace, old blasphemer!
I both feel and see
The presence and the waft of death go forth
Against thee, and already thou dost look
Like one that's dead!
And there is your own son,
Worshipful sir, abetting the sedition.
Arrest him. Do not spare him.
His own child!
There is some special providence takes care
That none shall be too happy in this world!
His own first-born.
O Absalom, my son!
[Exeunt; the Governor with his halberdiers ascending the steps of
SCENE III. -- The Governor's private room. Papers upon the
ENDICOTT and BELLINGHAM
There is a ship from England has come in,
Bringing despatches and much news from home,
His majesty was at the Abbey crowned;
And when the coronation was complete
There passed a mighty tempest o'er the city,
Portentous with great thunderings and lightnings.
After his father's, if I well remember,
There was an earthquake, that foreboded evil.
Ten of the Regicides have been put to death!
The bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw
Have been dragged from their graves, and publicly
Hanged in their shrouds at Tyburn.
Thus the old tyranny revives again.
Its arm is long enough to reach us here,
As you will see. For, more insulting still
Than flaunting in our faces dead men's shrouds,
Here is the King's Mandamus, taking from us,
From this day forth, all power to punish Quakers.
That takes from us all power; we are but puppets,
And can no longer execute our laws.
His Majesty begins with pleasant words,
"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well;"
Then with a ruthless hand he strips from me
All that which makes me what I am; as if
From some old general in the field, grown gray
In service, scarred with many wounds,
Just at the hour of victory, he should strip
His badge of office and his well-gained honors,
And thrust him back into the ranks again.
Opens the Mandamus and hands it to BELLINGHAM; and, while he is
reading, ENDICOTT walks up and down the room.
Here, read it for yourself; you see his words
Are pleasant words--considerate--not reproachful--
Nothing could be more gentle--or more royal;
But then the meaning underneath the words,
Mark that. He says all people known as Quakers
Among us, now condemned to suffer death
Or any corporal punishment whatever,
Who are imprisoned, or may be obnoxious
To the like condemnation, shall be sent
Forthwith to England, to be dealt with there
In such wise as shall be agreeable
Unto the English law and their demerits.
Is it not so?
BELLINGHAM (returning the paper).
Ay, so the paper says.
It means we shall no longer rule the Province;
It means farewell to law and liberty,
Authority, respect for Magistrates,
The peace and welfare of the Commonwealth.
If all the knaves upon this continent
Can make appeal to England, and so thwart
The ends of truth and justice by delay,
Our power is gone forever. We are nothing
But ciphers, valueless save when we follow
Some unit; and our unit is the King!
'T is he that gives us value.
Such seems to be the meaning of this paper,
But being the King's Mandamus, signed and sealed,
We must obey, or we are in rebellion.
I tell you, Richard Bellingham,--I tell you,
That this is the beginning of a struggle
Of which no mortal can foresee the end.
I shall not live to fight the battle for you,
I am a man disgraced in every way;
This order takes from me my self-respect
And the respect of others. 'T is my doom,
Yes, my death-warrant, but must be obeyed!
Take it, and see that it is executed
So far as this, that all be set at large;
But see that none of them be sent to England
To bear false witness, and to spread reports
That might be prejudicial to ourselves.
There's a dull pain keeps knocking at my heart,
Dolefully saying, "Set thy house in order,
For thou shalt surely die, and shalt not live!
For me the shadow on the dial-plate
Goeth not back, but on into the dark!
SCENE IV. -- The street. A crowd, reading a placard on the door
of the Meeting-house. NICHOLAS UPSALL among them. Enter John
What is this gathering here?
One William Brand,
An old man like ourselves, and weak in body,
Has been so cruelly tortured in his prison,
The people are excited, and they threaten
To tear the prison down.
What has been done?
He has been put in irons, with his neck
And heels tied close together, and so left
From five in the morning until nine at night.
What more was done?
He has been kept five days
In prison without food, and cruelly beaten,
So that his limbs were cold, his senses stopped.
And is this not enough?
Now hear me.
This William Brand of yours has tried to beat
Our Gospel Ordinances black and blue;
And, if he has been beaten in like manner,
It is but justice, and I will appear
In his behalf that did so. I suppose
That he refused to work.
He was too weak.
How could an old man work, when he was starving?
And what is this placard?
To appease the people and prevent a tumult,
Have put up these placards throughout the town,
Declaring that the jailer shall be dealt with
Impartially and sternly by the Court.
NORTON (tearing down the placard).
Down with this weak and cowardly concession,
This flag of truce with Satan and with Sin!
I fling it in his face! I trample it
Under my feet! It is his cunning craft,
The masterpiece of his diplomacy,
To cry and plead for boundless toleration.
But toleration is the first-born child
Of all abominations and deceits.
There is no room in Christ's triumphant army
For tolerationists. And if an Angel
Preach any other gospel unto you
Than that ye have received, God's malediction
Descend upon him! Let him be accursed!
Now, go thy ways, John Norton, go thy ways,
Thou Orthodox Evangelist, as men call thee!
But even now there cometh out of England,
Like an o'ertaking and accusing conscience,
An outraged man, to call thee to account
For the unrighteous murder of his son!
SCENE V. -- The Wilderness. Enter EDITH.
How beautiful are these autumnal woods!
The wilderness doth blossom like the rose,
And change into a garden of the Lord!
How silent everywhere! Alone and lost
Here in the forest, there comes over me
An inward awfulness. I recall the words
Of the Apostle Paul: "In journeyings often,
Often in perils in the wilderness,
In weariness, in painfulness, in watchings,
In hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness;"
And I forget my weariness and pain,
My watchings, and my hunger and my thirst.
The Lord hath said that He will seek his flock
In cloudy and dark days, and they shall dwell
Securely in the wilderness, and sleep
Safe in the woods! Whichever way I turn,
I come back with my face towards the town.
Dimly I see it, and the sea beyond it.
O cruel town! I know what waits me there,
And yet I must go back; for ever louder
I hear the inward calling of the Spirit,
And must obey the voice. O woods that wear
Your golden crown of martyrdom, blood-stained,
From you I learn a lesson of submission,
And am obedient even unto death,
If God so wills it. [Exit.
JOHN ENDICOTT (within).
Edith! Edith! Edith!
It is in vain! I call, she answers not;
I follow, but I find no trace of her!
Blood! blood! The leaves above me and around me
Are red with blood! The pathways of the forest,
The clouds that canopy the setting sun
And even the little river in the meadows
Are stained with it! Where'er I look, I see it!
Away, thou horrible vision! Leave me! leave me!
Alas! you winding stream, that gropes its way
Through mist and shadow, doubling on itself,
At length will find, by the unerring law
Of nature, what it seeks. O soul of man,
Groping through mist and shadow, and recoiling
Back on thyself, are, too, thy devious ways
Subject to law? and when thou seemest to wander
The farthest from thy goal, art thou still drawing
Nearer and nearer to it, till at length
Thou findest, like the river, what thou seekest?
SCENE I. -- Daybreak. Street in front of UPSALL's house. A light
in the window. Enter JOHN ENDICOTT.
O silent, sombre, and deserted streets,
To me ye 're peopled with a sad procession,
And echo only to the voice of sorrow!
O houses full of peacefulness and sleep,
Far better were it to awake no more
Than wake to look upon such scenes again!
There is a light in Master Upsall's window.
The good man is already risen, for sleep
Deserts the couches of the old.
Knocks at UPSALL's door.
UPSALL (at the window).
Am I so changed you do not know my voice?
I know you. Have you heard what things have happened?
I have heard nothing.
Stay; I will come down.
I am afraid some dreadful news awaits me!
I do not dare to ask, yet am impatient
To know the worst. Oh, I am very weary
With waiting and with watching and pursuing!
Thank God, you have come back! I've much to tell you.
Where have you been?
You know that I was seized,
Fined, and released again. You know that Edith,
After her scourging in three towns, was banished
Into the wilderness, into the land
That is not sown; and there I followed her,
But found her not. Where is she?
She is here.
Oh, do not speak that word, for it means death!
No, it means life. She sleeps in yonder chamber.
Listen to me. When news of Leddra's death
Reached England, Edward Burroughs, having boldly
Got access to the presence of the King,
Told him there was a vein of innocent blood
Opened in his dominions here, which threatened
To overrun them all. The King replied.
"But I will stop that vein!" and he forthwith
Sent his Mandamus to our Magistrates,
That they proceed no further in this business.
So all are pardoned, and all set at large.
Thank God! This is a victory for truth!
Our thoughts are free. They cannot be shut up
In prison wall, nor put to death on scaffolds!
Come in; the morning air blows sharp and cold
Through the damp streets.
It is the dawn of day
That chases the old darkness from our sky,
And tills the land with liberty and light.
SCENE II. -- The parlor of the Three Mariners. Enter KEMPTHORN.
A dull life this,--a dull life anyway!
Ready for sea; the cargo all aboard,
Cleared for Barbadoes, and a fair wind blowing
From nor'-nor'-west; and I, an idle lubber,
Laid neck and heels by that confounded bond!
I said to Ralph, says I, "What's to be done?"
Says he: "Just slip your hawser in the night;
Sheer off, and pay it with the topsail, Simon."
But that won't do; because, you see, the owners
Somehow or other are mixed up with it.
Here are King Charles's Twelve Good Rules, that Cole
Thinks as important as the Rule of Three.
"Make no comparisons; make no long meals."
Those are good rules and golden for a landlord
To hang in his best parlor, framed and glazed!
"Maintain no ill opinions; urge no healths."
I drink to the King's, whatever he may say
And, as to ill opinions, that depends.
Now of Ralph Goldsmith I've a good opinion,
And of the bilboes I've an ill opinion;
And both of these opinions I'll maintain
As long as there's a shot left in the locker.
Enter EDWARD BUTTER, with an ear-trumpet.
Good morning, Captain Kempthorn.
Sir, to you.
You've the advantage of me. I don't know you.
What may I call your name?
That's not your name?
Yes, that's my name. What's yours?
My name is Butter.
I am the treasurer of the Commonwealth.
Will you be seated?
What say? Who's conceited?
Will you sit down?
Oh, thank you.
Upon this chair, sweet Butter.
BUTTER (sitting down).
A fine morning.
Nothing's the matter with it that I know of.
I have seen better, and I have seen worse.
The wind's nor'west. That's fair for them that sail.
You need not speak so loud; I understand you.
You sail to-day.
No, I don't sail to-day.
So, be it fair or foul, it matters not.
Say, will you smoke? There's choice tobacco here.
No, thank you. It's against the law to smoke.
Then, will you drink? There's good ale at this inn.
No, thank you. It's against the law to drink.
Well, almost everything's against the law
In this good town. Give a wide berth to one thing,
You're sure to fetch up soon on something else.
And so you sail to-day for dear Old England.
I am not one of those who think a sup
Of this New England air is better worth
Than a whole draught of our Old England's ale.
Nor I. Give me the ale and keep the air.
But, as I said, I do not sail to-day.
Ah yes; you sail today.
I'm under bonds
To take some Quakers back to the Barbadoes;
And one of them is banished, and another
Is sentenced to be hanged.
No, all are pardoned,
All are set free by order of the Court;
But some of them would fain return to England.
You must not take them. Upon that condition
Your bond is cancelled.
Ah, the wind has shifted!
I pray you, do you speak officially?
I always speak officially. To prove it,
Here is the bond.
Rising and giving a paper.
And here's my hand upon it,
And look you, when I say I'll do a thing
The thing is done. Am I now free to go?
I say, confound the tedious man
With his strange speaking-trumpet! Can I go?
You're free to go, by order of the Court.
Your servant, sir.
KEMPTHORN (shouting from the window).
Swallow, ahoy! Hallo!
If ever a man was happy to leave Boston,
That man is Simon Kempthorn of the Swallow!
Pray, did you call?
Call! Yes, I hailed the Swallow.
That's not my name. My name is Edward Butter.
You need not speak so loud.
KEMPTHORN (shaking hands).
Your servant, sir.
And yours a thousand times!
SCENE III. -- GOVERNOR ENDICOTT'S private room. An open window.
ENDICOTT seated in an arm-chair. BELLINGHAM standing near.
O lost, O loved! wilt thou return no more?
O loved and lost, and loved the more when lost!
How many men are dragged into their graves
By their rebellious children! I now feel
The agony of a father's breaking heart
In David's cry, "O Absalom, my son!"
Can you not turn your thoughts a little while
To public matters? There are papers here
That need attention.
Trouble me no more!
My business now is with another world,
Ah, Richard Bellingham! I greatly fear
That in my righteous zeal I have been led
To doing many things which, left undone,
My mind would now be easier. Did I dream it,
Or has some person told me, that John Norton
You have not dreamed it. He is dead,
And gone to his reward. It was no dream.
Then it was very sudden; for I saw him
Standing where you now stand, not long ago.
By his own fireside, in the afternoon,
A faintness and a giddiness came o'er him;
And, leaning on the chimney-piece, he cried,
"The hand of God is on me!" and fell dead.
And did not some one say, or have I dreamed it,
That Humphrey Atherton is dead?
He too is gone, and by a death as sudden.
Returning home one evening, at the place
Where usually the Quakers have been scourged,
His horse took fright, and threw him to the ground,
So that his brains were dashed about the street.
I am not superstitions, Bellingham,
And yet I tremble lest it may have been
A judgment on him.
So the people think.
They say his horse saw standing in the way
The ghost of William Leddra, and was frightened.
And furthermore, brave Richard Davenport,
The captain of the Castle, in the storm
Has been struck dead by lightning.
Speak no more.
For as I listen to your voice it seems
As if the Seven Thunders uttered their voices,
And the dead bodies lay about the streets
Of the disconsolate city! Bellingham,
I did not put those wretched men to death.
I did but guard the passage with the sword
Pointed towards them, and they rushed upon it!
Yet now I would that I had taken no part
In all that bloody work.
The guilt of it
Be on their heads, not ours.
Are all set free?
All are at large.
And none have been sent back
To England to malign us with the King?
The ship that brought them sails this very hour,
But carries no one back.
A distant cannon.
What is that gun?
Her parting signal. Through the window there,
Look, you can see her sails, above the roofs,
Dropping below the Castle, outward bound.
O white, white, white! Would that my soul had wings
As spotless as those shining sails to fly with!
Now lay this cushion straight. I thank you. Hark!
I thought I heard the hall door open and shut!
I thought I beard the footsteps of my boy!
It was the wind. There's no one in the passage.
O Absalom, my son! I feel the world
Sinking beneath me, sinking, sinking, sinking!
Death knocks! I go to meet him! Welcome, Death!
Rises, and sinks back dead; his head failing aside upon his
O ghastly sight! Like one who has been hanged!
Endicott! Endicott! He makes no answer!
Raises Endicott's head.
He breathes no more! How bright this signet-ring
Glitters upon his hand, where he has worn it
Through such long years of trouble, as if Death
Had given him this memento of affection,
And whispered in his ear, "Remember me!"
How placid and how quiet is his face,
Now that the struggle and the strife are ended
Only the acrid spirit of the times
Corroded this true steel. Oh, rest in peace,
Courageous heart! Forever rest in peace!
GILES COREY OF THE SALEM FARMS
GILES COREY Farmer.
JOHN HATHORNE Magistrate.
COTTON MATHER Minister of the Gospel.
JONATHAN WALCOT A youth.
RICHARD GARDNER Sea-Captain.
JOHN GLOYD Corey's hired man.
MARTHA Wife of Giles Corey.
TITUBA An Indian woman.
MARY WALCOT One of the Afflicted.
The Scene is in Salem in the year 1692.
Delusions of the days that once have been,
Witchcraft and wonders of the world unseen,
Phantoms of air, and necromantic arts
That crushed the weak and awed the stoutest hearts,--
These are our theme to-night; and vaguely here,
Through the dim mists that crowd the atmosphere,
We draw the outlines of weird figures cast
In shadow on the background of the Past,
Who would believe that in the quiet town
Of Salem, and, amid the woods that crown
The neighboring hillsides, and the sunny farms
That fold it safe in their paternal arms,--
Who would believe that in those peaceful streets,
Where the great elms shut out the summer heats,
Where quiet reigns, and breathes through brain and breast
The benediction of unbroken rest,--
Who would believe such deeds could find a place
As these whose tragic history we retrace?
'T was but a village then; the goodman ploughed
His ample acres under sun or cloud;
The goodwife at her doorstep sat and spun,
And gossiped with her neighbors in the sun;
The only men of dignity and state
Were then the Minister and the Magistrate,
Who ruled their little realm with iron rod,
Less in the love than in the fear of God;
And who believed devoutly in the Powers
Of Darkness, working in this world of ours,
In spells of Witchcraft, incantations dread,
And shrouded apparitions of the dead.
Upon this simple folk "with fire and flame,"
Saith the old chronicle, "the Devil came;
Scattering his firebrands and his poisonous darts,
To set on fire of Hell all tongues and hearts!
And 't is no wonder; for, with all his host,
There most he rages where he hateth most,
And is most hated; so on us he brings
All these stupendous and portentous things!"
Something of this our scene to-night will show;
And ye who listen to the Tale of Woe,
Be not too swift in casting the first stone,
Nor think New England bears the guilt alone,
This sudden burst of wickedness and crime
Was but the common madness of the time,
When in all lands, that lie within the sound
Of Sabbath bells, a Witch was burned or drowned.
SCENE I. -- The woods near Salem Village. Enter TITUBA, with a
basket of herbs.
Here's monk's-hood, that breeds fever in the blood;
And deadly nightshade, that makes men see ghosts;
And henbane, that will shake them with convulsions;
And meadow-saffron and black hellebore,
That rack the nerves, and puff the skin with dropsy;
And bitter-sweet, and briony, and eye-bright,
That cause eruptions, nosebleed, rheumatisms;
I know them, and the places where they hide
In field and meadow; and I know their secrets,
And gather them because they give me power
Over all men and women. Armed with these,
I, Tituba, an Indian and a slave,
Am stronger than the captain with his sword,
Am richer than the merchant with his money,
Am wiser than the scholar with his books,
Mightier than Ministers and Magistrates,
With all the fear and reverence that attend them!
For I can fill their bones with aches and pains,
Can make them cough with asthma, shake with palsy,
Can make their daughters see and talk with ghosts,
Or fall into delirium and convulsions;
I have the Evil Eye, the Evil Hand;
A touch from me and they are weak with pain,
A look from me, and they consume and die.
The death of cattle and the blight of corn,
The shipwreck, the tornado, and the fire,--
These are my doings, and they know it not.
Thus I work vengeance on mine enemies
Who, while they call me slave, are slaves to me!
Exit TITUBA. Enter MATHER, booted and spurred, with a
riding-whip in his hand.
Methinks that I have come by paths unknown
Into the land and atmosphere of Witches;
For, meditating as I journeyed on,
Lo! I have lost my way! If I remember
Rightly, it is Scribonius the learned
That tells the story of a man who, praying
For one that was possessed by Evil Spirits,
Was struck by Evil Spirits in the face;
I, journeying to circumvent the Witches,
Surely by Witches have been led astray.
I am persuaded there are few affairs
In which the Devil doth not interfere.
We cannot undertake a journey even,
But Satan will be there to meddle with it
By hindering or by furthering. He hath led me
Into this thicket, struck me in the face
With branches of the trees, and so entangled
The fetlocks of my horse with vines and brambles,
That I must needs dismount, and search on foot
For the lost pathway leading to the village.
What shape is this? What monstrous apparition,
Exceeding fierce, that none may pass that way?
Tell me, good woman, if you are a woman--
I am a woman, but I am not good,
I am a Witch!
Then tell me, Witch and woman,
For you must know the pathways through this wood,
Where lieth Salem Village?
The village is near by. I'm going there
With these few herbs. I'll lead you. Follow me.
First say, who are you? I am loath to follow
A stranger in this wilderness, for fear
Of being misled, and left in some morass.
Who are you?
I am Tituba the Witch,
Wife of John Indian.
You are Tituba?
I know you then. You have renounced the Devil,
And have become a penitent confessor,
The Lord be praised! Go on, I'll follow you.
Wait only till I fetch my horse, that stands
Tethered among the trees, not far from here.
Let me get up behind you, reverend sir.
The Lord forbid! What would the people think,
If they should see the Reverend Cotton Mather
Ride into Salem with a Witch behind him?
The Lord forbid!
I do not need a horse!
I can ride through the air upon a stick,
Above the tree-tops and above the houses,
And no one see me, no one overtake me.
SCENE II. -- A room at JUSTICE HATHORNE'S. A clock in the
Enter HATHORNE and MATHER.
You are welcome, reverend sir, thrice welcome here
Beneath my humble roof.
I thank your Worship.
Pray you be seated. You must be fatigued
With your long ride through unfrequented woods.
They sit down.
You know the purport of my visit here,--
To be advised by you, and counsel with you,
And with the Reverend Clergy of the village,
Touching these witchcrafts that so much afflict you;
And see with mine own eyes the wonders told
Of spectres and the shadows of the dead,
That come back from their graves to speak with men.
Some men there are, I have known such, who think
That the two worlds--the seen and the unseen,
The world of matter and the world of spirit--
Are like the hemispheres upon our maps,
And touch each other only at a point.
But these two worlds are not divided thus,
Save for the purposes of common speech,
They form one globe, in which the parted s as
All flow together and are intermingled,
While the great continents remain distinct.
I doubt it not. The spiritual world
Lies all about us, and its avenues
Are open to the unseen feet of phantoms
That come and go, and we perceive them not,
Save by their influence, or when at times
A most mysterious Providence permits them
To manifest themselves to mortal eyes.
You, who are always welcome here among us,
Are doubly welcome now. We need your wisdom,
Your learning in these things to be our guide.
The Devil hath come down in wrath upon us,
And ravages the land with all his hosts.
The Unclean Spirit said, "My name is Legion!"
Multitudes in the Valley of Destruction!
But when our fervent, well-directed prayers,
Which are the great artillery of Heaven,
Are brought into the field, I see them scattered
And driven like autumn leaves before the wind.
You as a Minister of God, can meet them
With spiritual weapons: but, alas!
I, as a Magistrate, must combat them
With weapons from the armory of the flesh.
These wonders of the world invisible,--
These spectral shapes that haunt our habitations,--
The multiplied and manifold afflictions
With which the aged and the dying saints
Have their death prefaced and their age imbittered,--
Are but prophetic trumpets that proclaim
The Second Coming of our Lord on earth.
The evening wolves will be much more abroad,
When we are near the evening of the world.
When you shall see, as I have hourly seen,
The sorceries and the witchcrafts that torment us,
See children tortured by invisible spirits,
And wasted and consumed by powers unseen,
You will confess the half has not been told you.
It must be so. The death-pangs of the Devil
Will make him more a Devil than before;
And Nebuchadnezzar's furnace will be heated
Seven times more hot before its putting out.
Advise me, reverend sir. I look to you
For counsel and for guidance in this matter.
What further shall we do?
That as a sparrow falls not to the ground
Without the will of God, so not a Devil
Can come down from the air without his leave.
We must inquire.
Dear sir, we have inquired;
Sifted the matter thoroughly through and through,
And then resifted it.
If God permits
These Evil Spirits from the unseen regions
To visit us with surprising informations,
We must inquire what cause there is for this,
But not receive the testimony borne
By spectres as conclusive proof of guilt
In the accused.
Upon such evidence
We do not rest our case. The ways are many
In which the guilty do betray themselves.
Be careful. Carry the knife with such exactness,
That on one side no innocent blood be shed
By too excessive zeal, and on the other
No shelter given to any work of darkness.
For one, I do not fear excess of zeal.
What do we gain by parleying with the Devil?
You reason, but you hesitate to act!
Ah, reverend sir! believe me, in such cases
The only safety is in acting promptly.
'T is not the part of wisdom to delay
In things where not to do is still to do
A deed more fatal than the deed we shrink from.
You are a man of books and meditation,
But I am one who acts.
God give us wisdom
In the directing of this thorny business,
And guide us, lest New England should become
Of an unsavory and sulphurous odor
In the opinion of the world abroad!
The clock strikes.
I never hear the striking of a clock
Without a warning and an admonition
That time is on the wing, and we must quicken
Our tardy pace in journeying Heavenward,
As Israel did in journeying Canaan-ward!
Then let us make all haste; and I will show you
In what disguises and what fearful shapes
The Unclean Spirits haunt this neighborhood,
And you will pardon my excess of zeal.
Ah, poor New England! He who hurricanoed
The house of Job is making now on thee
One last assault, more deadly and more snarled
With unintelligible circumstances
Than any thou hast hitherto encountered!
SCENE III. -- A room in WALCOT'S House. MARY WALCOT seated in an
arm-chair. TITUBA with a mirror.
Tell me another story, Tituba.
A drowsiness is stealing over me
Which is not sleep; for, though I close mine eyes,
I am awake, and in another world.
Dim faces of the dead and of the absent
Come floating up before me,--floating, fading,
Look into this glass.
What see you?
Nothing but a golden vapor.
Yes, something more. An island, with the sea
Breaking all round it, like a blooming hedge.
What land is this?
It is San Salvador,
Where Tituba was born. What see you now?
A man all black and fierce.
That is my father.
He was an Obi man, and taught me magic,--
Taught me the use of herbs and images.
What is he doing?
Holding in his hand
A waxen figure. He is melting it
Slowly before a fire.
And now what see you?
A woman lying on a bed of leaves,
Wasted and worn away. Ah, she is dying!
That is the way the Obi men destroy
The people they dislike! That is the way
Some one is wasting and consuming you.
You terrify me, Tituba! Oh, save me
From those who make me pine and waste away!
Who are they? Tell me.
That I do not know,
But you will see them. They will come to you.
No, do not let them come! I cannot bear it!
I am too weak to bear it! I am dying.
Fails into a trance.
Hark! there is some one coming!
Enter HATHORNE, MATHER, and WALCOT.
There she lies,
Wasted and worn by devilish incantations!
O my poor sister!
Is she always thus?
Nay, she is sometimes tortured by convulsions.
Poor child! How thin she is! How wan and wasted!
Observe her. She is troubled in her sleep.
Some fearful vision haunts her.
You now see
With your own eyes, and touch with your own hands,
The mysteries of this Witchcraft.
One would need
The hands of Briareus and the eyes of Argus
To see and touch them all.
You now have entered
The realm of ghosts and phantoms,--the vast realm
Of the unknown and the invisible,
Through whose wide-open gates there blows a wind
From the dark valley of the shadow of Death,
That freezes us with horror.
Take her hence!
Take her away from me. I see her there!
She's coming to torment me!
WALCOT (taking her hand.
O my sister!
What frightens you? She neither hears nor sees me.
She's in a trance.
Do you not see her there?
My child, who is it?
Ah, I do not know,
I cannot see her face.
How is she clad?
She wears a crimson bodice. In her hand
She holds an image, and is pinching it
Between her fingers. Ah, she tortures me!
I see her face now. It is Goodwife Bishop!
Why does she torture me? I never harmed her!
And now she strikes me with an iron rod!
Oh, I am beaten!
This is wonderful!.
I can see nothing! Is this apparition
Visibly there, and yet we cannot see it?
It is. The spectre is invisible
Unto our grosser senses, but she sees it.
Look! look! there is another clad in gray!
She holds a spindle in her hand, and threatens
To stab me with it! It is Goodwife Corey!
Keep her away! Now she is coming at me!
Oh, mercy! mercy!
WALCOT (thrusting with his sword.
There is nothing there!
MATHER to HATHORNE.
Do you see anything?
The laws that govern
The spiritual world prevent our seeing
Things palpable and visible to her.
These spectres are to us as if they were not.
Mark her; she wakes.
TITUBA touches her, and she awakes.
Who are these gentlemen?
They are our friends. Dear Mary, are you better?
Weak, very weak.
Taking a spindle from her lap, and holding it up.
How came this spindle here?
You wrenched it from the hand of Goodwife Corey
When she rushed at you.
Mark that, reverend sir!
It is most marvellous, most inexplicable!
TITUBA. (picking up a bit of gray cloth from the floor).
And here, too, is a bit of her gray dress,
That the sword cut away.
It were indeed by far more credulous
To be incredulous than to believe.
None but a Sadducee, who doubts of all
Pertaining to the spiritual world,
Could doubt such manifest and damning proofs!
Are you convinced?
MATHER to MARY.
Dear child, be comforted!
Only by prayer and fasting can you drive
These Unclean Spirits from you. An old man
Gives you his blessing. God be with you, Mary!
SCENE I. -- GILES COREY's farm. Morning. Enter COREY, with a
horseshoe and a hammer.
The Lord hath prospered me. The rising sun
Shines on my Hundred Acres and my woods
As if he loved them. On a morn like this
I can forgive mine enemies, and thank God
For all his goodness unto me and mine.
My orchard groans with russets and pearmains;
My ripening corn shines golden in the sun;
My barns are crammed with hay, my cattle thrive
The birds sing blithely on the trees around me!
And blither than the birds my heart within me.
But Satan still goes up and down the earth;
And to protect this house from his assaults,
And keep the powers of darkness from my door,
This horseshoe will I nail upon the threshold.
Nails down the horseshoe.
There, ye night-hags and witches that torment
The neighborhood, ye shall not enter here!--
What is the matter in the field?--John Gloyd!
The cattle are all running to the woods!--
John Gloyd! Where is the man?
Enter JOHN GLOYD.
What ails the cattle? Are they all bewitched?
They run like mad.
They have been overlooked.
The Evil Eye is on them sure enough.
Call all the men. Be quick. Go after them!
Exit GLOYD and enter MARTHA.
What is amiss?
The cattle are bewitched.
They are broken loose and making for the woods.
Why will you harbor such delusions, Giles?
Bewitched? Well, then it was John Gloyd bewitched them;
I saw him even now take down the bars
And turn them loose! They're only frolicsome.
I was standing in the road,
Talking with Goodwife Proctor, and I saw him.
With Proctor's wife? And what says Goodwife Proctor?
Sad things indeed; the saddest you can hear
Of Bridget Bishop. She's cried out upon!
Poor soul! I've known her forty year or more.
She was the widow Wasselby, and then
She married Oliver, and Bishop next.
She's had three husbands. I remember well
My games of shovel-board at Bishop's tavern
In the old merry days, and she so gay
With her red paragon bodice and her ribbons!
Ah, Bridget Bishop always was a Witch!
They'll little help her now,--her caps and ribbons,
And her red paragon bodice and her plumes,
With which she flaunted in the Meeting-house!
When next she goes there, it will he for trial.
When will that be?
This very day at ten.
Then get you ready. We'll go and see it.
Come; you shall ride behind me on the pillion.
Not I. You know I do not like such things.
I wonder you should. I do not believe
In Witches nor in Witchcraft.
Well, I do.
There's a strange fascination in it all.
That draws me on and on. I know not why.
What do we know of spirits good or ill,
Or of their power to help us or to harm us?
Surely what's in the Bible must be true.
Did not an Evil Spirit come on Saul?
Did not the Witch of Endor bring the ghost
Of Samuel from his grave? The Bible says so.
That happened very long ago.
There is no long ago.
There is with us.
And Mary Magdalene had seven devils,
And he who dwelt among the tombs a legion!
God's power is infinite. I do not doubt it.
If in His providence He once permitted
Such things to be among the Israelites,
It does not follow He permits them now,
And among us who are not Israelites.
But we will not dispute about it, Giles.
Go to the village if you think it best,
And leave me here; I'll go about my work.
[Exit into the house.
And I will go and saddle the gray mare.
The last word always. That is woman's nature.
If an old man will marry a young wife,
He must make up his mind to many things.
It's putting new cloth into an old garment,
When the strain comes, it is the old gives way.
Goes to the door.
Oh, Martha! I forgot to tell you something.
I've had a letter from a friend of mine,
A certain Richard Gardner of Nantucket,
Master and owner of a whaling-vessel;
He writes that he is coming down to see us.
I hope you'll like him.
I will do my best.
That's a good woman. Now I will be gone.
I've not seen Gardner for this twenty year;
But there is something of the sea about him,--
Something so open, generous, large; and strong,
It makes me love him better than a brother.
MARTHA comes to the door.
Oh these old friends and cronies of my husband,
These captains from Nantucket and the Cape,
That come and turn my house into a tavern
With their carousing! Still, there's something frank
In these seafaring men that makes me like them.
Why, here's a horseshoe nailed upon the doorstep!
Giles has done this to keep away the Witches.
I hope this Richard Gardner will bring him
A gale of good sound common-sense to blow
The fog of these delusions from his brain!
Ho! Martha! Martha!
Have you seen my saddle?
I saw it yesterday.
Where did you see it?
On a gray mare, that somebody was riding
Along the village road.
Who was it? Tell me.
Some one who should have stayed at home.
COREY (restraining himself).
Don't vex me, Martha. Tell me where it is.
I've hidden it away.
Go fetch it me.
Go find it.
No. I'll ride down to the village
Bareback; and when the people stare and say,
"Giles Corey, where's your saddle?" I will answer,
"A Witch has stolen it." How shall you like that!
I shall not like it.
Then go fetch the saddle.
If an old man will marry a young wife,
Why then--why then--why then--he must spell Baker!
Enter MARTHA with the saddle, which she throws down.
There! There's the saddle.
Take it up.
MARTHA. I won't!
Then let it lie there. I'll ride to the village,
And say you are a Witch.
No, not that, Giles.
She takes up the saddle.
Now come with me, and saddle the gray mare
With your own hands; and you shall see me ride
Along the village road as is becoming
Giles Corey of the Salem Farms, your husband!
SCENE II. -- The Green in front of the Meeting-house in Salem
village. People coming and going. Enter GILES COREY.
A melancholy end! Who would have thought
That Bridget Bishop e'er would come to this?
Accused, convicted, and condemned to death
For Witchcraft! And so good a woman too!
Good morrow, neighbor Corey.
COREY (not hearing him).
Who is safe?
How do I know but under my own roof
I too may harbor Witches, and some Devil
Be plotting and contriving against me?
He does not hear. Good morrow, neighbor Corey!
Have you seen John Proctor lately?