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THE DYNASTS

AN EPIC-DRAMA OF THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON,
IN THREE PARTS, NINETEEN ACTS, AND
ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SCENES

The Time covered by the Action being about ten Years

"And I heard sounds of insult, shame, and wrong,
And trumpets blown for wars."

PREFACE

The Spectacle here presented in the likeness of a Drama is concerned
with the Great Historical Calamity, or Clash of Peoples, artificially
brought about some hundred years ago.

The choice of such a subject was mainly due to three accidents of
locality. It chanced that the writer was familiar with a part of
England that lay within hail of the watering-place in which King
George the Third had his favourite summer residence during the war
with the first Napoleon, and where he was visited by ministers and
others who bore the weight of English affairs on their more or less
competent shoulders at that stressful time. Secondly, this district,
being also near the coast which had echoed with rumours of invasion
in their intensest form while the descent threatened, was formerly
animated by memories and traditions of the desperate military
preparations for that contingency. Thirdly, the same countryside
happened to include the village which was the birthplace of Nelson's
flag-captain at Trafalgar.

When, as the first published result of these accidents, _The Trumpet
Major_ was printed, more than twenty years ago, I found myself in
the tantalizing position of having touched the fringe of a vast
international tragedy without being able, through limits of plan,
knowledge, and opportunity, to enter further into its events; a
restriction that prevailed for many years. But the slight regard
paid to English influence and action throughout the struggle by
those Continental writers who had dealt imaginatively with Napoleon's
career, seemed always to leave room for a new handling of the theme
which should re-embody the features of this influence in their true
proportion; and accordingly, on a belated day about six years back,
the following drama was outlined, to be taken up now and then at wide
intervals ever since.

It may, I think, claim at least a tolerable fidelity to the facts of
its date as they are give in ordinary records. Whenever any evidence
of the words really spoken or written by the characters in their
various situations was attainable, as close a paraphrase has been
aimed at as was compatible with the form chosen. And in all cases
outside the oral tradition, accessible scenery, and existing relics,
my indebtedness for detail to the abundant pages of the historian,
the biographer, and the journalist, English and Foreign, has been,
of course, continuous.

It was thought proper to introduce, as supernatural spectators
of the terrestrial action, certain impersonated abstractions, or
Intelligences, called Spirits. They are intended to be taken by the
reader for what they may be worth as contrivances of the fancy merely.
Their doctrines are but tentative, and are advanced with little eye
to a systematized philosophy warranted to lift "the burthen of the
mystery" of this unintelligible world. The chief thing hoped for
them is that they and their utterances may have dramatic plausibility
enough to procure for them, in the words of Coleridge, "that willing
suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic
faith." The wide prevalence of the Monistic theory of the Universe
forbade, in this twentieth century, the importation of Divine
personages from any antique Mythology as ready-made sources or
channels of Causation, even in verse, and excluded the celestial
machinery of, say, _Paradise Lost_, as peremptorily as that of the
_Iliad_ or the _Eddas_. And the abandonment of the masculine pronoun
in allusions to the First or Fundamental Energy seemed a necessary
and logical consequence of the long abandonment by thinkers of the
anthropomorphic conception of the same.

These phantasmal Intelligences are divided into groups, of which one
only, that of the Pities, approximates to "the Universal Sympathy of
human nature--the spectator idealized"(1) of the Greek Chorus; it is
impressionable and inconsistent in its views, which sway hither and
thither as wrought on by events. Another group approximates to the
passionless Insight of the Ages. The remainder are eclectically
chosen auxiliaries whose signification may be readily discerned.
In point of literary form, the scheme of contrasted Choruses and
other conventions of this external feature was shaped with a single
view to the modern expression of a modern outlook, and in frank
divergence from classical and other dramatic precedent which ruled
the ancient voicings of ancient themes.

It may hardly be necessary to inform readers that in devising this
chronicle-piece no attempt has been made to create that completely
organic structure of action, and closely-webbed development of
character and motive, which are demanded in a drama strictly self-
contained. A panoramic show like the present is a series of historical
"ordinates" (to use a term in geometry): the subject is familiar to
all; and foreknowledge is assumed to fill in the junctions required
to combine the scenes into an artistic unity. Should the mental
spectator be unwilling or unable to do this, a historical presentment
on an intermittent plan, in which the _dramatis personae_ number some
hundreds, exclusive of crowds and armies, becomes in his individual
case unsuitable.

In this assumption of a completion of the action by those to whom
the drama is addressed, it is interesting, if unnecessary, to name
an exemplar as old as Aeschylus, whose plays are, as Dr. Verrall
reminds us,(2) scenes from stories taken as known, and would be
unintelligible without supplementary scenes of the imagination.

Readers will readily discern, too, that _The Dynasts_ is intended
simply for mental performance, and not for the stage. Some critics
have averred that to declare a drama(3) as being not for the stage is
to make an announcement whose subject and predicate cancel each
other. The question seems to be an unimportant matter of terminology.
Compositions cast in this shape were, without doubt, originally
written for the stage only, and as a consequence their nomenclature
of "Act," "Scene," and the like, was drawn directly from the vehicle
of representation. But in the course of time such a shape would
reveal itself to be an eminently readable one; moreover, by dispensing
with the theatre altogether, a freedom of treatment was attainable
in this form that was denied where the material possibilities of
stagery had to be rigorously remembered. With the careless
mechanicism of human speech, the technicalities of practical mumming
were retained in these productions when they had ceased to be
concerned with the stage at all.

To say, then, in the present case, that a writing in play-shape is
not to be played, is merely another way of stating that such writing
has been done in a form for which there chances to be no brief
definition save one already in use for works that it superficially
but not entirely resembles.

Whether mental performance alone may not eventually be the fate of
all drama other than that of contemporary or frivolous life, is a
kindred question not without interest. The mind naturally flies to
the triumphs of the Hellenic and Elizabethan theatre in exhibiting
scenes laid "far in the Unapparent," and asks why they should not
be repeated. But the meditative world is older, more invidious,
more nervous, more quizzical, than it once was, and being unhappily
perplexed by--

Riddles of Death Thebes never knew,

may be less ready and less able than Hellas and old England were to
look through the insistent, and often grotesque, substance at the
thing signified.

In respect of such plays of poesy and dream a practicable compromise
may conceivably result, taking the shape of a monotonic delivery of
speeches, with dreamy conventional gestures, something in the manner
traditionally maintained by the old Christmas mummers, the curiously
hypnotizing impressiveness of whose automatic style--that of persons
who spoke by no will of their own--may be remembered by all who ever
experienced it. Gauzes or screens to blur outlines might still
further shut off the actual, as has, indeed, already been done in
exceptional cases. But with this branch of the subject we are not
concerned here.

T.H.
September 1903.

CONTENTS.

THE DYNASTS: AN EPIC-DRAMA OF THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON

Preface

PART FIRST

Characters

Fore Scene. The Overworld

Act First:--

Scene I. England. A Ridge in Wessex
" II. Paris. Office of the Minister of Marine
" III. London. The Old House of Commons
" IV. The Harbour of Boulogne
" V. London. The House of a Lady of Quality
" IV. Milan. The Cathedral

Act Second:--

Scene I. The Dockyard, Gibraltar
" II. Off Ferrol
" III. The Camp and Harbour of Boulogne
" IV. South Wessex. A Ridge-like Down near the Coast
" V. The Same. Rainbarrows' Beacon, Egdon Heath

Act Third:--

Scene I. The Chateau at Pont-de-Briques
" II. The Frontiers of Upper Austria and Bavaria
" III. Boulogne. The St. Omer Road

Act Fourth:--

Scene I. King George's Watering-place, South Wessex
" II. Before the City of Ulm
" III. Ulm. Within the City
" IV. Before Ulm. The Same Day
" V. The Same. The Michaelsberg
" VI. London. Spring Gardens

Act Fifth:--

Scene I. Off Cape Trafalgar
" II. The Same. The Quarter-deck of the "Victory"
" III. The Same. On Board the "Bucentaure"
" IV. The Same. The Cockpit of the "Victory"
" V. London. The Guildhall
" VI. An Inn at Rennes
" VII. King George's Watering-place, South Wessex

Act Sixth:--

Scene I. The Field of Austerlitz. The French Position
" II. The Same. The Russian Position
" III. The Same. The French Position
" IV. The Same. The Russian Position
" V. The Same. Near the Windmill of Paleny
" VI. Shockerwick House, near Bath
" VII. Paris. A Street leading to the Tuileries
" VIII. Putney. Bowling Green House

PART SECOND

Characters

Act First:--

Scene I. London. Fox's Lodgings, Arlington Street
" II. The Route between London and Paris
" III. The Streets of Berlin
" IV. The Field of Jena
" V. Berlin. A Room overlooking a Public Place
" VI. The Same
" VII. Tilsit and the River Niemen
" VIII. The Same

Act Second:--

Scene I. The Pyrenees and Valleys adjoining
" II. Aranjuez, near Madrid. A Room in the Palace of
Godoy, the "Prince of Peace"
" III. London. The Marchioness of Salisbury's
" IV. Madrid and its Environs
" V. The Open Sea between the English Coasts and the
Spanish Peninsula
" VI. St. Cloud. The Boudoir of Josephine
" VII. Vimiero

Act Third:--

Scene I. Spain. A Road near Astorga
" II. The Same
" III. Before Coruna
" IV. Coruna. Near the Ramparts
" V. Vienna. A Cafe in the Stephans-Platz

Act Fourth:--

Scene I. A Road out of Vienna
" II. The Island of Lobau, with Wagram beyond
" III. The Field of Wagram
" IV. The Field of Talavera
" V. The Same
" VI. Brighton. The Royal Pavilion
" VII. The Same
" VIII. Walcheren

Act Fifth:--

Scene I. Paris. A Ballroom in the House of Cambaceres
" II. Paris. The Tuileries
" III. Vienna. A Private Apartment in the Imperial Palace
" IV. London. A Club in St. James's Street
" V. The old West Highway out of Vienna
" VI. Courcelles
" VII. Petersburg. The Palace of the Empress-Mother
" VIII. Paris. The Grand Gallery of the Louvre and the
Salon-Carre adjoining

Act Fifth:--

Scene I. The Lines of Torres Vedras
" II. The Same. Outside the Lines
" III. Paris. The Tuileries
" IV. Spain. Albuera
" V. Windsor Castle. A Room in the King's Apartments
" VI. London. Carlton House and the Streets adjoining
" VII. The Same. The Interior of Carlton House

PART THIRD

Characters

Act First:--

Scene I. The Banks of the Niemen, near Kowno
" II. The Ford of Santa Marta, Salamanca
" III. The Field of Salamanca
" IV. The Field of Borodino
" V. The Same
" VI. Moscow
" VII. The Same. Outside the City
" VIII. The Same. The Interior of the Kremlin
" IX. The Road from Smolensko into Lithuania
" X. The Bridge of the Beresina
" XI. The Open Country between Smorgoni and Wilna
" XII. Paris. The Tuileries

Act Second:--

Scene I. The Plain of Vitoria
" II. The Same, from the Puebla Heights
" III. The Same. The Road from the Town
" IV. A Fete at Vauxhall Gardens

Act Third:--

Scene I. Leipzig. Napoleon's Quarters in the Reudnitz Suburb
" II. The Same. The City and the Battlefield
" III. The Same, from the Tower of the Pleissenburg
" IV. The Same. At the Thonberg Windmill
" V. The Same. A Street near the Ranstadt Gate
" VI. The Pyrenees. Near the River Nivelle

Act Fourth:--

Scene I. The Upper Rhine
" II. Paris. The Tuileries
" III. The Same. The Apartments of the Empress
" IV. Fontainebleau. A Room in the Palace
" V. Bayonne. The British Camp
" VI. A Highway in the Outskirts of Avignon
" VII. Malmaison. The Empress Josephine's Bedchamber
" VIII. London. The Opera-House

Act Fifth:--

Scene I. Elba. The Quay, Porto Ferrajo
" II. Vienna. The Imperial Palace
" III. La Mure, near Grenoble
" IV. Schonbrunn
" V. London. The Old House of Commons
" VI. Wessex. Durnover Green, Casterbridge

Act Sixth:--

Scene I. The Belgian Frontier
" II. A Ballroom in Brussels
" III. Charleroi. Napoleon's Quarters
" IV. A Chamber overlooking a Main Street in Brussels
" V. The Field of Ligny
" VI. The Field of Quatre-Bras
" VII. Brussels. The Place Royale
" VIII. The Road to Waterloo

Act Seventh:--

Scene I. The Field of Waterloo
" II. The Same. The French Position
" III. Saint Lambert's Chapel Hill
" IV. The Field of Waterloo. The English Position
" V. The Same. The Women's Camp near Mont Saint-Jean
" VI. The Same. The French Position
" VII. The Same. The English Position
" VIII. The Same. Later
" IX. The Wood of Bossu

After Scene. The Overworld

PART FIRST

CHARACTERS

I. PHANTOM INTELLIGENCES

THE ANCIENT SPIRIT OF THE YEARS/CHORUS OF THE YEARS.

THE SPIRIT OF THE PITIES/CHORUS OF THE PITIES.

SPIRITS SINISTER AND IRONIC/CHORUSES OF SINISTER AND IRONIC SPIRITS.

THE SPIRIT OF RUMOUR/CHORUS OF RUMOURS.

THE SHADE OF THE EARTH.

SPIRIT-MESSENGERS.

RECORDING ANGELS.

II. PERSONS (The names in lower case are mute figures.)

MEN

GEORGE THE THIRD.
The Duke of Cumberland
PITT.
FOX.
SHERIDAN.
WINDHAM.
WHITBREAD.
TIERNEY.
BATHURST AND FULLER.
Lord Chancellor Eldon.
EARL OF MALMESBURY.
LORD MULGRAVE.
ANOTHER CABINET MINISTER.
Lord Grenville.
Viscount Castlereagh.
Viscount Sidmouth.
ANOTHER NOBLE LORD.
ROSE.
Canning.
Perceval.
Grey.
Speaker Abbot.
TOMLINE, BISHOP OF LINCOLN.
SIR WALTER FARQUHAR.
Count Munster.
Other Peers, Ministers, ex-Ministers, Members of Parliament,
and Persons of Quality.

. . . . . . . . . .

NELSON.
COLLINGWOOD.
HARDY.
SECRETARY SCOTT.
DR. BEATTY.
DR. MAGRATH.
DR. ALEXANDER SCOTT.
BURKE, PURSER.
Lieutenant Pasco.
ANOTHER LIEUTENANT.
POLLARD, A MIDSHIPMAN.
Captain Adair.
Lieutenants Ram and Whipple.
Other English Naval Officers.
Sergeant-Major Secker and Marines.
Staff and other Officers of the English Army.
A COMPANY OF SOLDIERS.
Regiments of the English Army and Hanoverian.
SAILORS AND BOATMEN.
A MILITIAMAN.
Naval Crews.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Lord Mayor and Corporation of London.
A GENTLEMAN OF FASHION.
WILTSHIRE, A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN
A HORSEMAN.
TWO BEACON-WATCHERS.
ENGLISH CITIZENS AND BURGESSES.
COACH AND OTHER HIGHWAY PASSENGERS.
MESSENGERS, SERVANTS, AND RUSTICS.

. . . . . . . . . .

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.
DARU, NAPOLEON'S WAR SECRETARY.
LAURISTON, AIDE-DE-CAMP.
MONGE, A PHILOSOPHER.
BERTHIER.
MURAT, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF NAPOLEON.
SOULT.
NEY.
LANNES.
Bernadotte.
Marmont.
Dupont.
Oudinot.
Davout.
Vandamme.
Other French Marshals.
A SUB-OFFICER.

. . . . . . . . . .

VILLENEUVE, NAPOLEON'S ADMIRAL.
DECRES, MINISTER OF MARINE.
FLAG-CAPTAIN MAGENDIE.
LIEUTENANT DAUDIGNON.
LIEUTENANT FOURNIER.
Captain Lucas.
OTHER FRENCH NAVAL OFFICERS AND PETTY OFFICERS.
Seamen of the French and Spanish Navies.
Regiments of the French Army.
COURIERS.
HERALDS.
Aides, Officials, Pages, etc.
ATTENDANTS.
French Citizens.

. . . . . . . . . .

CARDINAL CAPRARA.
Priests, Acolytes, and Choristers.
Italian Doctors and Presidents of Institutions.
Milanese Citizens.

. . . . . . . . . .

THE EMPEROR FRANCIS.
THE ARCHDUKE FERDINAND.
Prince John of Lichtenstien.
PRINCE SCHWARZENBERG.
MACK, AUSTRIAN GENERAL.
JELLACHICH.
RIESC.
WEIROTHER.
ANOTHER AUSTRIAN GENERAL.
TWO AUSTRIAN OFFICERS.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Emperor Alexander.
PRINCE KUTUZOF, RUSSIAN FIELD-MARSHAL.
COUNT LANGERON.
COUNT BUXHOVDEN.
COUNT MILORADOVICH.
DOKHTOROF.

. . . . . . . . . .

Giulay, Gottesheim, Klenau, and Prschebiszewsky.
Regiments of the Austrian Army.
Regiments of the Russian Army.

WOMEN

Queen Charlotte.
English Princesses.
Ladies of the English Court.
LADY HESTER STANHOPE.
A LADY.
Lady Caroline Lamb, Mrs. Damer, and other English Ladies.

. . . . . . . . . .

THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE.
Princesses and Ladies of Josephine's Court.
Seven Milanese Young Ladies.

. . . . . . . . . .

City- and Towns-women.
Country-women.
A MILITIAMAN'S WIFE.
A STREET-WOMAN.
Ship-women.
Servants.

FORE SCENE

THE OVERWORLD

[Enter the Ancient Spirit and Chorus of the Years, the Spirit
and Chorus of the Pities, the Shade of the Earth, the Spirits
Sinister and Ironic with their Choruses, Rumours, Spirit-
Messengers, and Recording Angels.]

SHADE OF THE EARTH

What of the Immanent Will and Its designs?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

It works unconsciously, as heretofore,
Eternal artistries in Circumstance,
Whose patterns, wrought by rapt aesthetic rote,
Seem in themselves Its single listless aim,
And not their consequence.

CHORUS OF THE PITIES (aerial music)

Still thus? Still thus?
Ever unconscious!
An automatic sense
Unweeting why or whence?
Be, then, the inevitable, as of old,
Although that SO it be we dare not hold!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Hold what ye list, fond believing Sprites,
You cannot swerve the pulsion of the Byss,
Which thinking on, yet weighing not Its thought,
Unchecks Its clock-like laws.

SPIRIT SINISTER (aside)

Good, as before.
My little engines, then, will still have play.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Why doth It so and so, and ever so,
This viewless, voiceless Turner of the Wheel?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

As one sad story runs, It lends Its heed
To other worlds, being wearied out with this;
Wherefore Its mindlessness of earthly woes.
Some, too, have told at whiles that rightfully
Its warefulness, Its care, this planet lost
When in her early growth and crudity
By bad mad acts of severance men contrived,
Working such nescience by their own device.--
Yea, so it stands in certain chronicles,
Though not in mine.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Meet is it, none the less,
To bear in thought that though Its consciousness
May be estranged, engrossed afar, or sealed,
Sublunar shocks may wake Its watch anon?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay. In the Foretime, even to the germ of Being,
Nothing appears of shape to indicate
That cognizance has marshalled things terrene,
Or will (such is my thinking) in my span.
Rather they show that, like a knitter drowsed,
Whose fingers play in skilled unmindfulness,
The Will has woven with an absent heed
Since life first was; and ever will so weave.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Hence we've rare dramas going--more so since
It wove Its web in the Ajaccian womb!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Well, no more this on what no mind can mete.
Our scope is but to register and watch
By means of this great gift accorded us--
The free trajection of our entities.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

On things terrene, then, I would say that though
The human news wherewith the Rumours stirred us
May please thy temper, Years, 'twere better far
Such deeds were nulled, and this strange man's career
Wound up, as making inharmonious jars
In her creation whose meek wraith we know.
The more that he, turned man of mere traditions,
Now profits naught. For the large potencies
Instilled into his idiosyncrasy--
To throne fair Liberty in Privilege' room--
Are taking taint, and sink to common plots
For his own gain.

SHADE OF THE EARTH

And who, then, Cordial One,
Wouldst substitute for this Intractable?

CHORUS OF THE EARTH

We would establish those of kindlier build,
In fair Compassions skilled,
Men of deep art in life-development;
Watchers and warders of thy varied lands,
Men surfeited of laying heavy hands,
Upon the innocent,
The mild, the fragile, the obscure content
Among the myriads of thy family.
Those, too, who love the true, the excellent,
And make their daily moves a melody.

SHADE OF THE EARTH

They may come, will they. I am not averse.
Yet know I am but the ineffectual Shade
Of her the Travailler, herself a thrall
To It; in all her labourings curbed and kinged!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Shall such be mooted now? Already change
Hath played strange pranks since first I brooded here.
But old Laws operate yet; and phase and phase
Of men's dynastic and imperial moils
Shape on accustomed lines. Though, as for me,
I care not thy shape, or what they be.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

You seem to have small sense of mercy, Sire?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Mercy I view, not urge;--nor more than mark
What designate your titles Good and Ill.
'Tis not in me to feel with, or against,
These flesh-hinged mannikins Its hand upwinds
To click-clack off Its preadjusted laws;
But only through my centuries to behold
Their aspects, and their movements, and their mould.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

They are shapes that bleed, mere mannikins or no,
And each has parcel in the total Will.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Which overrides them as a whole its parts
In other entities.

SPIRIT SINISTER (aside)

Limbs of Itself:
Each one a jot of It in quaint disguise?
I'll fear all men henceforward!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Go to. Let this terrestrial tragedy--

SPIRIT IRONIC

Nay, Comedy--

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Let this earth-tragedy
Whereof we spake, afford a spectacle
Forthwith conned closelier than your custom is.--

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

How does it stand? (To a Recording Angel)
Open and chant the page
Thou'st lately writ, that sums these happenings,
In brief reminder of their instant points
Slighted by us amid our converse here.

RECORDING ANGEL (from a book, in recitative)

Now mellow-eyed Peace is made captive,
And Vengeance is chartered
To deal forth its dooms on the Peoples
With sword and with spear.

Men's musings are busy with forecasts
Of muster and battle,
And visions of shock and disaster
Rise red on the year.

The easternmost ruler sits wistful,
And tense he to midward;
The King to the west mans his borders
In front and in rear.

While one they eye, flushed from his crowning,
Ranks legions around him
To shake the enisled neighbour nation
And close her career!

SEMICHORUS I OF RUMOURS (aerial music)

O woven-winged squadrons of Toulon
And fellows of Rochefort,
Wait, wait for a wind, and draw westward
Ere Nelson be near!

For he reads not your force, or your freightage
Of warriors fell-handed,
Or when they will join for the onset,
Or whither they steer!

SEMICHORUS II

O Nelson, so zealous a watcher
Through months-long of cruizing,
Thy foes may elide thee a moment,
Put forth, and get clear;

And rendezvous westerly straightway
With Spain's aiding navies,
And hasten to head violation
Of Albion's frontier!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Methinks too much assurance thrills your note
On secrets in my locker, gentle sprites;
But it may serve.--Our thought being now reflexed
To forces operant on this English isle,
Behoves it us to enter scene by scene,
And watch the spectacle of Europe's moves
In her embroil, as they were self-ordained
According to the naive and liberal creed
Of our great-hearted young Compassionates,
Forgetting the Prime Mover of the gear,
As puppet-watchers him who pulls the strings.--
You'll mark the twitchings of this Bonaparte
As he with other figures foots his reel,
Until he twitch him into his lonely grave:
Also regard the frail ones that his flings
Have made gyrate like animalcula
In tepid pools.--Hence to the precinct, then,
And count as framework to the stagery
Yon architraves of sunbeam-smitten cloud.--
So may ye judge Earth's jackaclocks to be
No fugled by one Will, but function-free.

[The nether sky opens, and Europe is disclosed as a prone and
emaciated figure, the Alps shaping like a backbone, and the
branching mountain-chains like ribs, the peninsular plateau of
Spain forming a head. Broad and lengthy lowlands stretch from
the north of France across Russia like a grey-green garment hemmed
by the Ural mountains and the glistening Arctic Ocean.

The point of view then sinks downwards through space, and draws
near to the surface of the perturbed countries, where the peoples,
distressed by events which they did not cause, are seen writhing,
crawling, heaving, and vibrating in their various cities and
nationalities.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS (to the Spirit of the Pities)

As key-scene to the whole, I first lay bare
The Will-webs of thy fearful questioning;
For know that of my antique privileges
This gift to visualize the Mode is one
(Though by exhaustive strain and effort only).
See, then, and learn, ere my power pass again.

[A new and penetrating light descends on the spectacle, enduring
men and things with a seeming transparency, and exhibiting as one
organism the anatomy of life and movement in all humanity and
vitalized matter included in the display.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Amid this scene of bodies substantive
Strange waves I sight like winds grown visible,
Which bear men's forms on their innumerous coils,
Twining and serpenting round and through.
Also retracting threads like gossamers--
Except in being irresistible--
Which complicate with some, and balance all.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

These are the Prime Volitions,--fibrils, veins,
Will-tissues, nerves, and pulses of the Cause,
That heave throughout the Earth's compositure.
Their sum is like the lobule of a Brain
Evolving always that it wots not of;
A Brain whose whole connotes the Everywhere,
And whose procedure may but be discerned
By phantom eyes like ours; the while unguessed
Of those it stirs, who (even as ye do) dream
Their motions free, their orderings supreme;
Each life apart from each, with power to mete
Its own day's measures; balanced, self complete;
Though they subsist but atoms of the One
Labouring through all, divisible from none;
But this no further now. Deem yet man's deeds self-done.

GENERAL CHORUS OF INTELLIGENCES (aerial music)

We'll close up Time, as a bird its van,
We'll traverse Space, as spirits can,
Link pulses severed by leagues and years,
Bring cradles into touch with biers;
So that the far-off Consequence appear
Prompt at the heel of foregone Cause.--
The PRIME, that willed ere wareness was,
Whose Brain perchance is Space, whose Thought its laws,
Which we as threads and streams discern,
We may but muse on, never learn.

END OF THE FORE SCENE

ACT FIRST

SCENE I

ENGLAND. A RIDGE IN WESSEX

[The time is a fine day in March 1805. A highway crosses the
ridge, which is near the sea, and the south coast is seen
bounding the landscape below, the open Channel extending beyond.]

SPIRITS OF THE YEARS

Hark now, and gather how the martial mood
Stirs England's humblest hearts. Anon we'll trace
Its heavings in the upper coteries there.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Ay; begin small, and so lead up to the greater. It is a sound
dramatic principle. I always aim to follow it in my pestilences,
fires, famines, and other comedies. And though, to be sure, I did
not in my Lisbon earthquake, I did in my French Terror, and my St.
Domingo burlesque.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

THY Lisbon earthquake, THY French Terror. Wait.
Thinking thou will'st, thou dost but indicate.

[A stage-coach enters, with passengers outside. Their voices
after the foregoing sound small and commonplace, as from another
medium.]

FIRST PASSENGER

There seems to be a deal of traffic over Ridgeway, even at this time
o' year.

SECOND PASSENGER

Yes. It is because the King and Court are coming down here later
on. They wake up this part rarely! . . . See, now, how the Channel
and coast open out like a chart. That patch of mist below us is the
town we are bound for. There's the Isle of Slingers beyond, like a
floating snail. That wide bay on the right is where the "Abergavenny,"
Captain John Wordsworth, was wrecked last month. One can see half
across to France up here.

FIRST PASSENGER

Half across. And then another little half, and then all that's
behind--the Corsican mischief!

SECOND PASSENGER

Yes. People who live hereabout--I am a native of these parts--feel
the nearness of France more than they do inland.

FIRST PASSENGER

That's why we have seen so many of these marching regiments on the
road. This year his grandest attempt upon us is to be made, I reckon.

SECOND PASSENGER

May we be ready!

FIRST PASSENGER

Well, we ought to be. We've had alarms enough, God knows.

[Some companies of infantry are seen ahead, and the coach presently
overtakes them.]

SOLDIERS (singing as they walk)

We be the King's men, hale and hearty,
Marching to meet one Buonaparty;
If he won't sail, lest the wind should blow,
We shall have marched for nothing, O!
Right fol-lol!

We be the King's men, hale and hearty,
Marching to meet one Buonaparty;
If he be sea-sick, says "No, no!"
We shall have marched for nothing, O!
Right fol-lol!

[The soldiers draw aside, and the coach passes on.]

SECOND PASSENGER

Is there truth in it that Bonaparte wrote a letter to the King last
month?

FIRST PASSENGER

Yes, sir. A letter in his own hand, in which he expected the King
to reply to him in the same manner.

SOLDIERS (continuing, as they are left behind)

We be the King's men, hale and hearty,
Marching to meet one Buonaparty;
Never mind, mates; we'll be merry, though
We may have marched for nothing, O!
Right fol-lol!

THIRD PASSENGER

And was Boney's letter friendly?

FIRST PASSENGER

Certainly, sir. He requested peace with the King.

THIRD PASSENGER

And why shouldn't the King reply in the same manner?

FIRST PASSENGER

What! Encourage this man in an act of shameless presumption, and
give him the pleasure of considering himself the equal of the King
of England--whom he actually calls his brother!

THIRD PASSENGER

He must be taken for what he is, not for what he was; and if he calls
King George his brother it doesn't speak badly for his friendliness.

FIRST PASSENGER

Whether or no, the King, rightly enough, did not reply in person,
but through Lord Mulgrave our Foreign Minister, to the effect that
his Britannic Majesty cannot give a specific answer till he has
communicated with the Continental powers.

THIRD PASSENGER

Both the manner and the matter of the reply are British; but a huge
mistake.

FIRST PASSENGER

Sir, am I to deem you a friend of Bonaparte, a traitor to your
country---

THIRD PASSENGER

Damn my wig, sir, if I'll be called a traitor by you or any Court
sycophant at all at all!

[He unpacks a case of pistols.]

SECOND PASSENGER

Gentlemen forbear, forbear! Should such differences be suffered to
arise on a spot where we may, in less than three months, be fighting
for our very existence? This is foolish, I say. Heaven alone, who
reads the secrets of this man's heart, can tell what his meaning and
intent may be, and if his letter has been answered wisely or no.

[The coach is stopped to skid the wheel for the descent of the
hill, and before it starts again a dusty horseman overtakes it.]

SEVERAL PASSENGERS

A London messenger! (To horseman) Any news, sir? We are from
Bristol only.

HORSEMAN

Yes; much. We have declared war against Spain, an error giving
vast delight to France. Bonaparte says he will date his next
dispatches from London, and the landing of his army may be daily
expected.

[Exit horseman.]

THIRD PASSENGER

Sir, I apologize. He's not to be trusted! War is his name, and
aggression is with him!

[He repacks the pistols. A silence follows. The coach and
passengers move downwards and disappear towards the coast.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Ill chanced it that the English monarch George
Did not respond to the said Emperor!

SPIRIT SINISTER

I saw good sport therein, and paean'd the Will
To unimpel so stultifying a move!
Which would have marred the European broil,
And sheathed all swords, and silenced every gun
That riddles human flesh.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

O say no more;
If aught could gratify the Absolute
'Twould verily be thy censure, not thy praise!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

The ruling was that we should witness things
And not dispute them. To the drama, then.
Emprizes over-Channel are the key
To this land's stir and ferment.--Thither we.

[Clouds gather over the scene, and slowly open elsewhere.]

SCENE II

PARIS. OFFICE OF THE MINISTER OF MARINE

[ADMIRAL DECRES seated at a table. A knock without.]

DECRES

Come in! Good news, I hope!

[An attendant enters.]

ATTENDANT
A courier, sir.

DECRES

Show him in straightway.

[The attendant goes out.]

From the Emperor
As I expected!

COURIER

Sir, for your own hand
And yours alone.

DECRES

Thanks. Be in waiting near.

[The courier withdraws.]

DECRES reads:

"I am resolved that no wild dream of Ind,
And what we there might win; or of the West,
And bold re-conquest there of Surinam
And other Dutch retreats along those coasts,
Or British islands nigh, shall draw me now
From piercing into England through Boulogne
As lined in my first plan. If I do strike,
I strike effectively; to forge which feat
There's but one way--planting a mortal wound
In England's heart--the very English land--
Whose insolent and cynical reply
To my well-based complaint on breach of faith
Concerning Malta, as at Amiens pledged,
Has lighted up anew such flames of ire
As may involve the world.--Now to the case:
Our naval forces can be all assembled
Without the foe's foreknowledge or surmise,
By these rules following; to whose text I ask
Your gravest application; and, when conned,
That steadfastly you stand by word and word,
Making no question of one jot therein.

"First, then, let Villeneuve wait a favouring wind
For process westward swift to Martinique,
Coaxing the English after. Join him there
Gravina, Missiessy, and Ganteaume;
Which junction once effected all our keels--
While the pursuers linger in the West
At hopeless fault.--Having hoodwinked them thus,
Our boats skim over, disembark the army,
And in the twinkling of a patriot's eye
All London will be ours.

"In strictest secrecy carve this to shape--
Let never an admiral or captain scent
Save Villeneuve and Ganteaume; and pen each charge
With your own quill. The surelier to outwit them
I start for Italy; and there, as 'twere
Engrossed in fetes and Coronation rites,
Abide till, at the need, I reach Boulogne,
And head the enterprize.--NAPOLEON."

[DECRES reflects, and turns to write.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

He buckles to the work. First to Villeneuve,
His onetime companion and his boyhood's friend,
Now lingering at Toulon, he jots swift lines,
The duly to Ganteaume.--They are sealed forthwith,
And superscribed: "Break not till on the main."

[Boisterous singing is heard in the street.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I hear confused and simmering sounds without,
Like those which thrill the hives at evenfall
When swarming pends.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

They but proclaim the crowd,
Which sings and shouts its hot enthusiasms
For this dead-ripe design on England's shore,
Till the persuasion of its own plump words,
Acting upon mercurial temperaments,
Makes hope as prophecy. "Our Emperor
Will show himself (say they) in this exploit
Unwavering, keen, and irresistible
As is the lightning prong. Our vast flotillas
Have been embodied as by sorcery;
Soldiers made seamen, and the ports transformed
To rocking cities casemented with guns.
Against these valiants balance England's means:
Raw merchant-fellows from the counting-house,
Raw labourers from the fields, who thumb for arms
Clumsy untempered pikes forged hurriedly,
And cry them full-equipt. Their batteries,
Their flying carriages, their catamarans,
Shall profit not, and in one summer night
We'll find us there!"

RECORDING ANGEL

And is this prophecy true?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Occasion will reveal.

SHADE OF EARTH

What boots it, Sire,
To down this dynasty, set that one up,
Goad panting peoples to the throes thereof,
Make wither here my fruit, maintain it there,
And hold me travailling through fineless years
In vain and objectless monotony,
When all such tedious conjuring could be shunned
By uncreation? Howsoever wise
The governance of these massed mortalities,
A juster wisdom his who should have ruled
They had not been.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay, something hidden urged
The giving matter motion; and these coils
Are, maybe, good as any.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

But why any?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Sprite of Compassions, ask the Immanent!
I am but an accessory of Its works,
Whom the Ages render conscious; and at most
Figure as bounden witness of Its laws.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

How ask the aim of unrelaxing Will?
Tranced in Its purpose to unknowingness?
(If thy words, Ancient Phantom, token true.)

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Thou answerest well. But cease to ask of me.
Meanwhile the mime proceeds.--We turn herefrom,
Change our homuncules, and observe forthwith
How the High Influence sways the English realm,
And how the jacks lip out their reasonings there.

[The Cloud-curtain draws.]

SCENE III

LONDON. THE OLD HOUSE OF COMMONS

[A long chamber with a gallery on each side supported by thin
columns having gilt Ionic capitals. Three round-headed windows
are at the further end, above the Speaker's chair, which is backed
by a huge pedimented structure in white and gilt, surmounted by the
lion and the unicorn. The windows are uncurtained, one being open,
through which some boughs are seen waving in the midnight gloom
without. Wax candles, burnt low, wave and gutter in a brass
chandelier which hangs from the middle of the ceiling, and in
branches projecting from the galleries.

The House is sitting, the benches, which extend round to the
Speaker's elbows, being closely packed, and the galleries
likewise full. Among the members present on the Government
side are PITT and other ministers with their supporters,
including CANNING, CASTLEREAGH, LORD C. SOMERSET, ERSKINE,
W. DUNDAS, HUSKISSON, ROSE, BEST, ELLIOT, DALLAS, and the
general body of the party. On the opposite side are noticeable
FOX, SHERIDAN, WINDHAM, WHITBREAD, GREY, T. GRENVILLE, TIERNEY,
EARL TEMPLE, PONSONBY, G. AND H. WALPOLE, DUDLEY NORTH, and
TIMOTHY SHELLEY. Speaker ABBOT occupies the Chair.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

As prelude to the scene, as means to aid
Our younger comrades in its construing,
Pray spread your scripture, and rehearse in brief
The reasonings here of late--to whose effects
Words of to-night form sequence.

[The Recording Angels chant from their books, antiphonally, in a
minor recitative.]

ANGEL I (aerial music)

Feeble-framed dull unresolve, unresourcefulness,
Sat in the halls of the Kingdom's high Councillors,
Whence the grey glooms of a ghost-eyed despondency
Wanned as with winter the national mind.

ANGEL II

England stands forth to the sword of Napoleon
Nakedly--not an ally in support of her;
Men and munitions dispersed inexpediently;
Projects of range and scope poorly defined.

ANGEL I

Once more doth Pitt deem the land crying loud to him.--
Frail though and spent, and an-hungered for restfulness
Once more responds he, dead fervours to energize,
Aims to concentre, slack efforts to bind.

ANGEL II

Ere the first fruit thereof grow audible,
Holding as hapless his dream of good guardianship,
Jestingly, earnestly, shouting it serviceless,
Tardy, inept, and uncouthly designed.

ANGELS I AND II

So now, to-night, in slashing old sentences,
Hear them speak,--gravely these, those with gay-heartedness,--
Midst their admonishments little conceiving how
Scarlet the scroll that the years will unwind!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES (to the Spirit of the Years)

Let us put on and suffer for the nonce
The feverish fleshings of Humanity,
And join the pale debaters here convened.
So may thy soul be won to sympathy
By donning their poor mould.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

I'll humour thee,
Though my unpassioned essence could not change
Did I incarn in moulds of all mankind!

SPIRIT IRONIC

'Tis enough to make every little dog in England run to mixen to
hear this Pitt sung so strenuously! I'll be the third of the
incarnate, on the chance of hearing the tune played the other way.

SPIRIT SINISTER

And I the fourth. There's sure to be something in my line toward,
where politicians gathered together!

[The four Phantoms enter the Gallery of the House in the disguise
of ordinary strangers.]

SHERIDAN (rising)

The Bill I would have leave to introduce
Is framed, sir, to repeal last Session's Act,
By party-scribes intituled a Provision
For England's Proper Guard; but elsewhere known
As Mr. Pitt's new Patent Parish Pill. (Laughter.)

The ministerial countenances, I mark,
Congeal to dazed surprise at my straight motion--
Why, passes sane conjecture. It may be
That, with a haughty and unwavering faith
In their own battering-rams of argument,
They deemed our buoyance whelmed, and sapped, and sunk
To our hope's sheer bottom, whence a miracle
Was all could friend and float us; or, maybe,
They are amazed at our rude disrespect
In making mockery of an English Law
Sprung sacred from the King's own Premier's brain!
--I hear them snort; but let them wince at will,
My duty must be done; shall be done quickly
By citing some few facts.

An Act for our defence!
It weakens, not defends; and oversea
Swoln France's despot and his myrmidons
This moment know it, and can scoff thereat.
Our people know it too--those who can peer
Behind the scenes of this poor painted show
Called soldiering!--The Act has failed, must fail,
As my right honourable friend well proved
When speaking t'other night, whose silencing
By his right honourable _vis a vis_
Was of the genuine Governmental sort,
And like the catamarans their sapience shaped
All fizzle and no harm. (Laughter.) The Act, in brief,
Effects this much: that the whole force of England
Is strengthened by--eleven thousand men!
So sorted that the British infantry
Are now eight hundred less than heretofore!

In Ireland, where the glamouring influence
Of the right honourable gentleman
Prevails with magic might, ELEVEN men
Have been amassed. And in the Cinque-Port towns,
Where he is held in absolute veneration,
His method has so quickened martial fire
As to bring in--one man. O would that man
Might meet my sight! (Laughter.) A Hercules, no doubt,
A god-like emanation from this Act,
Who with his single arm will overthrow
All Buonaparte's legions ere their keels
Have scraped one pebble of our fortless shore! . . .
Such is my motion, sir, and such my mind.

[He sits down amid cheers. The candle-snuffers go round, and Pitt
rises. During the momentary pause before he speaks the House assumes
an attentive stillness, in which can be heard the rustling of the
trees without, a horn from an early coach, and the voice of the watch
crying the hour.]

PITT

Not one on this side but appreciates
Those mental gems and airy pleasantries
Flashed by the honourable gentleman,
Who shines in them by birthright. Each device
Of drollery he has laboured to outshape,
(Or treasured up from others who have shaped it,)
Displays that are the conjurings of the moment,
(Or mellowed and matured by sleeping on)--
Dry hoardings in his book of commonplace,
Stored without stint of toil through days and months--
He heaps into one mass, and light and fans
As fuel for his flaming eloquence,
Mouthed and maintained without a thought or care
If germane to the theme, or not at all.

Now vain indeed it were should I assay
To match him in such sort. For, sir, alas,
To use imagination as the ground
Of chronicle, take myth and merry tale
As texts for prophecy, is not my gift
Being but a person primed with simple fact,
Unprinked by jewelled art.--But to the thing.

The preparations of the enemy,
Doggedly bent to desolate our land,
Advance with a sustained activity.
They are seen, they are known, by you and by us all.
But they evince no clear-eyed tentative
In furtherance of the threat, whose coming off,
Ay, years may yet postpone; whereby the Act
Will far outstrip him, and the thousands called
Duly to join the ranks by its provisions,
In process sure, if slow, will ratch the lines
Of English regiments--seasoned, cool, resolved--
To glorious length and firm prepotency.
And why, then, should we dream of its repeal
Ere profiting by its advantages?
Must the House listen to such wilding words
As this proposal, at the very hour
When the Act's gearing finds its ordered grooves
And circles into full utility?
The motion of the honourable gentleman
Reminds me aptly of a publican
Who should, when malting, mixing, mashing's past,
Fermenting, barrelling, and spigoting,
Quick taste the brew, and shake his sapient head,
And cry in acid voice: The ale is new!
Brew old, you varlets; cast this slop away! (Cheers.)

But gravely, sir, I would conclude to-night,
And, as a serious man on serious things,
I now speak here. . . . I pledge myself to this:
Unprecedented and magnificent
As were our strivings in the previous war,
Our efforts in the present shall transcend them,
As men will learn. Such efforts are not sized
By this light measuring-rule my critic here
Whips from his pocket like a clerk-o'-works! . . .
Tasking and toilsome war's details must be,
And toilsome, too, must be their criticism,--
Not in a moment's stroke extemporized.

The strange fatality that haunts the times
Wherein our lot is cast, has no example.
Times are they fraught with peril, trouble, gloom;
We have to mark their lourings, and to face them.
Sir, reading thus the full significance
Of these big days, large though my lackings be,
Can any hold of those who know my past
That I, of all men, slight our safeguarding?
No: by all honour no!--Were I convinced
That such could be the mind of members here,
My sorrowing thereat would doubly shade
The shade on England now! So I do trust
All in the House will take my tendered word,
And credit my deliverance here to-night,
That in this vital point of watch and ward
Against the threatenings from yonder coast
We stand prepared; and under Providence
Shall fend whatever hid or open stroke
A foe may deal.

[He sits down amid loud ministerial cheers, with symptoms of
great exhaustion.]

WINDHAM

The question that compels the House to-night
Is not of differences in wit and wit,
But if for England it be well or no
To null the new-fledged Act, as one inept
For setting up with speed and hot effect
The red machinery of desperate war.--
Whatever it may do, or not, it stands,
A statesman' raw experiment. If ill,
Shall more experiments and more be tried
In stress of jeopardy that stirs demand
For sureness of proceeding? Must this House
Exchange safe action based on practised lines
For yet more ventures into risks unknown
To gratify a quaint projector's whim,
While enemies hang grinning round our gates
To profit by mistake?

My friend who spoke
Found comedy in the matter. Comical
As it may be in parentage and feature,
Most grave and tragic in its consequence
This Act may prove. We are moving thoughtlessly,
We squander precious, brief, life-saving time
On idle guess-games. Fail the measure must,
Nay, failed it has already; and should rouse
Resolve in its progenitor himself
To move for its repeal! (Cheers.)

WHITBREAD

I rise but to subjoin a phrase or two
To those of my right honourable friend.
I, too, am one who reads the present pinch
As passing all our risks heretofore.
For why? Our bold and reckless enemy,
Relaxing not his plans, has treasured time
To mass his monstrous force on all the coigns
From which our coast is close assailable.
Ay, even afloat his concentrations work:
Two vast united squadrons of his sail
Move at this moment viewless on the seas.--
Their whereabouts, untraced, unguessable,
Will not be known to us till some black blow
Be dealt by them in some undreamt-of quarter
To knell our rule.

That we are reasonably enfenced therefrom
By such an Act is but a madman's dream. . . .
A commonwealth so situate cries aloud
For more, far mightier, measures! End an Act
In Heaven's name, then, which only can obstruct
The fabrication of more trusty tackle
For building up an army! (Cheers.)

BATHURST

Sir, the point
To any sober mind is bright as noon;
Whether the Act should have befitting trial
Or be blasphemed at sight. I firmly hold
The latter loud iniquity.--One task
Is theirs who would inter this corpse-cold Act--
(So said)--to bring to birth a substitute!
Sir, they have none; they have given no thought to one,
And this their deeds incautiously disclose
Their cloaked intention and most secret aim!
With them the question is not how to frame
A finer trick to trounce intrusive foes,
But who shall be the future ministers
To whom such trick against intrusive foes,
Whatever it may prove, shall be entrusted!
They even ask the country gentlemen
To join them in this job. But, God be praised,
Those gentlemen are sound, and of repute;
Their names, their attainments, and their blood,
(Ironical Opposition cheers.)
Safeguard them from an onslaught on an Act
For ends so sinister and palpable! (Cheers and jeerings.)

FULLER

I disapprove of censures of the Act.--
All who would entertain such hostile thought
Would swear that black is white, that night is day.
No honest man will join a reckless crew
Who'd overthrow their country for their gain! (Laughter.)

TIERNEY

It is incumbent on me to declare
In the last speaker's face my censure, based
On grounds most clear and constitutional.--
An Act it is that studies to create
A standing army, large and permanent;
Which kind of force has ever been beheld
With jealous-eyed disfavour in this House.
It makes for sure oppression, binding men
To serve for less than service proves it worth
Conditioned by no hampering penalty.
For these and late-spoke reasons, then, I say,
Let not the Act deface the statute-book,
But blot it out forthwith. (Hear, hear.)

FOX (rising amid cheers)

At this late hour,
After the riddling fire the Act has drawn on't,
My words shall hold the House the briefest while.
Too obvious to the most unwilling mind
It grows that the existence of this law
Experience and reflection have condemned.
Professing to do much, it makes for nothing;
Not only so; while feeble in effect
It shows it vicious in its principle.
Engaging to raise men for the common weal
It sets a harmful and unequal tax
Capriciously on our communities.--
The annals of a century fail to show
More flagrant cases of oppressiveness
Than those this statute works to perpetrate,
Which (like all Bills this favoured statesman frames,
And clothes with tapestries of rhetoric
Disguising their real web of commonplace)
Though held as shaped for English bulwarking,
Breathes in its heart perversities of party,
And instincts toward oligarchic power,
Galling the many to relieve the few! (Cheers.)

Whatever breadth and sense of equity
Inform the methods of this minister,
Those mitigants nearly always trace their root
To measures that his predecessors wrought.
And ere his Government can dare assert
Superior claim to England's confidence,
They owe it to their honour and good name
To furnish better proof of such a claim
Than is revealed by the abortiveness
Of this thing called an Act for our Defence.

To the great gifts of its artificer
No member of this House is more disposed
To yield full recognition than am I.
No man has found more reason so to do
Through the long roll of disputatious years
Wherein we have stood opposed. . . .
But if one single fact could counsel me
To entertain a doubt of those great gifts,
And cancel faith in his capacity,
That fact would be the vast imprudence shown
In staking recklessly repute like his
On such an Act as he has offered us--
So false in principle, so poor in fruit.
Sir, the achievements and effects thereof
Have furnished not one fragile argument
Which all the partiality of friendship
Can kindle to consider as the mark
Of a clear, vigorous, freedom-fostering mind!

[He sits down amid lengthy cheering from the Opposition.]

SHERIDAN

My summary shall be brief, and to the point.--
The said right honourable Prime Minister
Has thought it proper to declare my speech
The jesting of an irresponsible;--
Words from a person who has never read
The Act he claims him urgent to repeal.
Such quips and qizzings (as he reckons them)
He implicates as gathered from long hoards
Stored up with cruel care, to be discharged
With sudden blaze of pyrotechnic art
On the devoted, gentle, shrinking head
O' the right incomparable gentleman! (Laughter.)
But were my humble, solemn, sad oration (Laughter.)
Indeed such rattle as he rated it,
Is it not strange, and passing precedent,
That the illustrious chief of Government
Should have uprisen with such indecent speed
And strenuously replied? He, sir, knows well
That vast and luminous talents like his own
Could not have been demanded to choke off
A witcraft marked by nothing more of weight
Than ignorant irregularity!
_Nec Deus intersit_--and so-and-so--
Is a well-worn citation whose close fit
None will perceive more clearly in the Fane
Than its presiding Deity opposite. (Laughter.)
His thunderous answer thus perforce condemns him!

Moreover, to top all, the while replying,
He still thought best to leave intact the reasons
On which my blame was founded!
Thus, them, stands
My motion unimpaired, convicting clearly
Of dire perversion that capacity
We formerly admired.-- (Cries of "Oh, oh.")
This minister
Whose circumventions never circumvent,
Whose coalitions fail to coalesce;
This dab at secret treaties known to all,
This darling of the aristocracy--

(Laughter, "Oh, oh," cheers, and cries of "Divide.")

Has brought the millions to the verge of ruin,
By pledging them to Continental quarrels
Of which we see no end! (Cheers.)

[The members rise to divide.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

It irks me that they thus should Yea and Nay
As though a power lay in their oraclings,
If each decision work unconsciously,
And would be operant though unloosened were
A single lip!

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

There may react on things
Some influence from these, indefinitely,
And even on That, whose outcome we all are.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Hypotheses!--More boots it to remind
The younger here of our ethereal band
And hierarchy of Intelligences,
That this thwart Parliament whose moods we watch--
So insular, empiric, un-ideal--
May figure forth in sharp and salient lines
To retrospective eyes of afterdays,
And print its legend large on History.
For one cause--if I read the signs aright--
To-night's appearance of its Minister
In the assembly of his long-time sway
Is near his last, and themes to-night launched forth
Will take a tincture from that memory,
When me recall the scene and circumstance
That hung about his pleadings.--But no more;
The ritual of each party is rehearsed,
Dislodging not one vote or prejudice;
The ministers their ministries retain,
And Ins as Ins, and Outs as Outs, remain.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Meanwhile what of the Foeman's vast array
That wakes these tones?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Abide the event, young Shade:
Soon stars will shut and show a spring-eyed dawn,
And sunbeams fountain forth, that will arouse
Those forming bands to full activity.

[An honourable member reports that he spies strangers.]

A timely token that we dally here!
We now cast off these mortal manacles,
And speed us seaward.

[The Phantoms vanish from the Gallery. The members file out
to the lobbies. The House and Westminster recede into the
films of night, and the point of observation shifts rapidly
across the Channel.]

SCENE IV

THE HARBOUR OF BOULOGNE

[The morning breaks, radiant with early sunlight. The French
Army of Invasion is disclosed. On the hills on either side
of the town and behind appear large military camps formed of
timber huts. Lower down are other camps of more or less

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