Part 3 out of 5
The needs o' the poor, suddenly-orphaned child?
Naught must she lack beneath my roof.
She prays and weeps within: she had no heart
For Sabbath meal, but charged me with her thanks--
Thou shalt be mother and sister in one to her.
Speak to her comfortably.
She has begged
A grace of me I happily can grant.
After our evening-prayer, to lead her back
Unto the Synagogue, where sleeps her father,
A light at head and foot, o'erwatched by strangers;
She would hold vigil.
'T is a pious wish,
Not to be crossed, befitting Israel's daughter.
Go, Reuben; heavily the moments hang,
While her heart yearns to break beside his corpse.
Receive my blessing.
[He places his hands upon his son's head in benediction. Exit
Henceforth her home is here.
In the event to-night, God's finger points
Visibly out of heaven. A thick cloud
Befogs the future. But just here is light.
Enter a servant ushering in PRINCE WILLIAM.
His highness Prince of Meissen.
God bless thy going forth and coming in!
Sit at our table and accept the cup
Of welcome which my daughter fills.
[LIEBHAID offers him wine.]
PRINCE WILLIAM (drinking).
[All take their seats at the table.]
I heard disquieting news as I came hither.
The apparition in the Synagogue,
The miracle of the message and the death.
Susskind von Orb, what think'st thou of these things?
I think, sir, we are in the hand of God,
I trust the Prince--your father and my friend.
Trust no man! flee! I have not come to-night
To little purpose. Your arch enemy,
The Governor of Salza, Henry Schnetzen,
Has won my father's ear. Since yester eve
He stops at Eisenach, begging of the Prince
The Jews' destruction.
Schnetzen is my foe,
I know it, but I know a talisman,
Which at a word transmutes his hate to love.
Liebhaid, my child, look cheerly. What is this?
Harm dare not touch thee; the oppressor's curse,
Melts into blessing at thy sight.
Plucks at my heart-strings, father, though the air
Thickens with portents; 't is the thought of flight,
But no--I follow thee.
Thou shalt not miss
The value of a hair from thy home treasures.
All that thou lovest, Liebhaid, goes with thee.
Knowest thou, Susskind, Schnetzen's cause of hate?
'T is rooted in an ancient error, born
During his feud with Landgrave Fritz the Bitten,
Your Highness' grandsire--ten years--twenty--back.
Misled to think I had betrayed his castle,
Who knew the secret tunnel to its courts,
He has nursed a baseless grudge, whereat I smile,
Sure to disarm him by the simple truth.
God grant me strength to utter it.
The rancor of a bad heart slow distilled
Through venomed years, so at a breath, dissolves.
O good old man, i' the world, not of the world!
Belike, himself forgets the doubtful core
Of this still-curdling, petrifying ooze.
Truth? why truth glances from the callous mass,
A spear against a rock. He hugs his hate,
His bed-fellow, his daily, life-long comrade;
Think you he has slept, ate, drank with it this while,
Now to forego revenge on such slight cause
As the revealed truth?
You mistake my thought,
Great-hearted Prince, and justly--for I speak
In riddles, till God's time to make all clear.
When His day dawns, the blind shall see.
If I, in wit and virtue your disciple,
Seem to instruct my master. Accident
Lifts me where I survey a broader field
Than wise men stationed lower. I spy peril,
Fierce flame invisible from the lesser peaks.
God's time is now. Delayed truth leaves a lie
Triumphant. If you harbor any secret,
Potent to force an ear that's locked to mercy,
In God's name, now disbosom it.
Would that my people's safety were assured
So is my child's! Where shall we turn? Where flee?
For all around us the Black Angel broods.
We step into the open jaws of death
If we go hence.
Better to fall beneath
The hand of God, than be cut off by man.
We are trapped, the springe is set. Not ignorantly
I offered counsel in the Synagogue,
Quelled panic with authoritative calm,
But knowing, having weighed the opposing risks.
Our friends in Strasburg have been overmastered,
The imperial voice is drowned, the papal arm
Drops paralyzed--both, lifted for the truth;
We can but front with brave eyes, brow erect,
As is our wont, the fullness of our doom.
Then Meissen's sword champions your desperate cause.
I take my stand here where my heart is fixed.
I love your daughter--if her love consent,
I pray you, give me her to wife.
Let not this Saxon skin, this hair's gold fleece,
These Rhine-blue eyes mislead thee--she is alien.
To the heart's core a Jewess--prop of my house,
Soul of my soul--and I? a despised Jew.
Thy propped house crumbles; let my arm sustain
Its tottering base--thy light is on the wane,
Let me relume it. Give thy star to me,
Or ever pitch-black night engulf us all--
Lend me your voice, Liebhaid, entreat for me.
Shall this prayer be your first that he denies?
Father, my heart's desire is one with his.
Is this the will of God? Amen! My children,
Be patient with me, I am full of trouble.
For you, heroic Prince, could aught enhance
Your love's incomparable nobility,
'T were the foreboding horror of this hour,
Wherein you dare flash forth its lightning-sword.
You reckon not, in the hot, splendid moment
Of great resolve, the cold insidious breath
Wherewith the outer world shall blast and freeze--
But hark! I own a mystic amulet,
Which you delivering to your gracious father,
Shall calm his rage withal, and change his scorn
Of the Jew's daughter into pure affection.
I will go fetch it--though I drain my heart
Of its red blood, to yield this sacrifice.
Have you no smile to welcome love with, Liebhaid?
Why should you tremble?
Prince, I am afraid!
Afraid of my own heart, my unfathomed joy,
A blasphemy against my father's grief,
My people's agony. I dare be happy--
So happy! in the instant's lull betwixt
The dazzle and the crash of doom.
The omen falsely; rather is your joy
The thrilling harbinger of general dawn.
Did you not tell me scarce a month agone,
When I chanced in on you at feast and prayer,
The holy time's bright legend? of the queen,
Strong, beautiful, resolute, who denied her race
To save her race, who cast upon the die
Of her divine and simple loveliness,
Her life, her soul,--and so redeemed her tribe.
You are my Esther--but I, no second tyrant,
Worship whom you adore, love whom you love!
If I must die with morn, I thank my God,
And thee, my king, that I have lived this night.
Enter SUSSKIND, carrying a jewelled casket.
Here is the chest, sealed with my signet-ring,
A mystery and a treasure lies within,
Whose worth is faintly symboled by these gems,
Starring the case. Deliver it unopened,
Unto the Landgrave. Now, sweet Prince, good night.
Else will the Judengasse gates be closed.
Thanks, father, thanks. Liebhaid, my bride, good-night.
[He kisses her brow. SUSSKIND places his hands on the heads of
LIEBHAID and PRINCE WILLIAM.]
Blessed, O Lord, art thou, who bringest joy
To bride and bridegroom. Let us thank the Lord.
ACT II.--At Eisenach.
A Room in the LANDGRAVE'S Palace. FREDERICK THE GRAVE and
Who tells thee of my son's love for the Jewess?
Who tells me? Ask the Judengasse walls,
The garrulous stones publish Prince William's visits
To his fair mistress.
Mistress? Ah, such sins
The Provost of St. George's will remit
For half a pound of coppers.
Think it not!
No light amour this, leaving shield unflecked;
He wooes the Jewish damsel as a knight
The lady of his heart.
Things more impossible have chanced. Remember
Count Gleichen, doubly wived, who pined in Egypt,
There wed the Pasha's daughter Malachsala,
Nor blushed to bring his heathen paramour
Home to his noble wife Angelica,
Countess of Orlamund. Yea, and the Pope
Sanctioned the filthy sin.
Himself shall say it.
Ho, Gunther! (Enter a Lackey.)
Bid the Prince of Meissen here.
[Exit Lackey. The LANDGRAVE paces the stage in agitation.]
Enter PRINCE WILLIAM.
Father, you called me?
Ay, when were you last
This morning I rode hence.
Were you at Susskind's house?
I was, my liege.
I hear you entertain unseemly love
For the Jew's daughter.
Who has told thee this?
This I have told him.
Father, believe him not.
I swear by heaven 't is no unseemly love
Leads me to Susskind's house.
With what high title
Please you to qualify it?
True, I love
Liebhaid von Orb, but 't is the honest passion
Wherewith a knight leads home his equal wife.
Great God! and thou wilt brag thy shame! Thou speakest
Of wife and Jewess in one breath! Wilt make
Thy princely name a stench in German nostrils?
Hold, father, hold! You know her--yes, a Jewess
In her domestic piety, her soul
Large, simple, splendid like a star, her heart
Suffused with Syrian sunshine--but no more--
The aspect of a Princess of Thuringia,
Swan-necked, gold-haired, Madonna-eyed. I love her!
If you will quench this passion, take my life!
[He falls at his father's feet. FREDERICK, in a paroxysm of rage,
seizes his sword.]
He is your son!
Oh that he ne'er were born!
Hola! Halberdiers! Yeomen of the Guard!
Bear off this prisoner! Let him sigh out
His blasphemous folly in the castle tower,
Until his hair be snow, his fingers claws.
[They seize and bear away PRINCE WILLIAM.]
Well, what's your counsel?
Briefly this, my lord.
The Jews of Nordhausen have brewed the Prince
A love-elixir--let them perish all!
[Tumult without. Singing of Hymns and Ringing of Church-bells.
The LANDGRAVE and SCHNETZEN go to the window.]
The cruel pestilence arrives,
Cuts off a myriad human lives.
See the Flagellants' naked skin!
They scourge themselves for grievous sin.
Trembles the earth beneath God's breath,
The Jews shall all be burned to death.
*A rhyme of the times. See Graetz's "History of the Jews,"
page 374, vol. vii.
Look, foreign pilgrims! What an endless file!
Naked waist-upward. Blood is trickling down
Their lacerated flesh. What do they carry?
Their scourges--iron-pointed, leathern thongs,
Mark how they lash themselves--the strict Flagellants.
The Brothers of the Cross--hark to their cries!
VOICE FROM BELOW.
Atone, ye mighty! God is wroth! Expel
The enemies of heaven--raze their homes!
[Confused cries from below, which gradually die away in the
Woe to God's enemies! Death to the Jews!
They poison all our wells--they bring the plague.
Kill them who killed our Lord! Their homes shall be
A wilderness--drown them in their own blood!
[The LANDGRAVE and SCHNETZEN withdraw from the window.]
Do not the people ask the same as I?
Is not the people's voice the voice of God?
I will consider.
Not too long, my liege.
The moment favors. Later 't were hard to show
Due cause to his Imperial Majesty,
For slaughtering the vassals of the Crown.
Two mighty friends are theirs. His holiness
Clement the Sixth and Kaiser Karl.
'T were rash
Contending with such odds.
Courage, my lord.
These battle singly against death and fate.
Your allies are the sense and heart o' the world.
Priests warring for their Christ, nobles for gold,
And peoples for the very breath of life
Spoiled by the poison-mixers. Kaiser Karl
Lifts his lone voice unheard, athwart the roar
Of such a flood; the papal bull is whirled
An unconsidered rag amidst the eddies.
What credence lend you to the general rumor
Of the river poison?
Such as mine eyes avouch.
I have seen, yea touched the leathern wallet found
On the body of one from whom the truth was wrenched
By salutary torture. He confessed,
Though but a famulus of the master-wizard,
The horrible old Moses of Mayence,
He had flung such pouches in the Rhine, the Elbe,
The Oder, Danube--in a hundred brooks,
Until the wholesome air reeked pestilence;
'T was an ell long, filled with a dry, fine dust
Of rusty black and red, deftly compounded
Of powdered flesh of basilisks, spiders, frogs,
And lizards, baked with sacramental dough
In Christian blood.
Such goblin-tales may curdle
The veins of priest-rid women, fools, and children.
They are not for the ears of sober men.
Pardon me, Sire. I am a simple soldier.
My God, my conscience, and my suzerain,
These are my guides--blindfold I follow them.
If your keen royal wit pierce the gross web
Of common superstition--be not wroth
At your poor vassal's loyal ignorance.
Remember, too, Susskind retains your bonds.
The old fox will not press you; he would bleed
Against the native instinct of the Jew,
Rather his last gold doit and so possess
Your ease of mind, nag, chafe, and toy with it;
Abide his natural death, and other Jews
Less devilish-cunning, franklier Hebrew-viced,
Will claim redemption of your pledge.
How know you
That Susskind holds my bonds?
You think the Jews
Keep such things secret? Not a Jew but knows
Your debt exact--the sum and date of interest,
And that you visit Susskind, not for love,
But for his shekels.
Well, the Jews shall die.
This is the will of God. Whom shall I send
To bear my message to the council?
Am ever at your 'hest. To-morrow morn
Sees me in Nordhausen.
Come two hours hence.
I will deliver you the letter signed.
Make ready for your ride.
SCHNETZEN (kisses FREDERICK'S hand).
Farewell, my master.
Ah, vengeance cometh late, Susskind von Orb,
But yet it comes! My wife was burned through thee,
Thou and thy children are consumed by me!
A Room in the Wartburg Monastery. PRINCESS MATHILDIS and
Be comforted, my daughter. Your lord's wisdom
Goes hand in hand with his known piety
Thus dealing with your son. To love a Jewess
Is flat contempt of Heaven--to ask in marriage,
Sheer spiritual suicide. Let be;
Justice must take its course.
Justice is murdered;
Oh slander not her corpse. For my son's fault,
A thousand innocents are doomed. Is that
Yea, our liege is but his servant.
Did not He purge with fiery hail those twain
Blotches of festering sin, Gomorrah, Sodom?
The Jews are never innocent,--when Christ
Agonized on the Cross, they cried--"His blood
Be on our children's heads and ours!" I mark
A dangerous growing evil of these days,
Pity, misnamed--say, criminal indulgence
Of reprobates brow-branded by the Lord.
Shall we excel the Christ in charity?
Because his law is love, we tutor him
In mercy and reward his murderers?
Justice is blind and virtue is austere.
If the true passion brimmed our yearning hearts
The vision of the agony would loom
Fixed vividly between the day and us:--
Nailed on the gaunt black Cross the divine form,
Wax-white and dripping blood from ankles, wrists,
The sacred ichor that redeems the world,
And crowded in strange shadow of eclipse,
Reviling Jews, wagging their heads accursed,
Sputtering blasphemy--who then would shrink
From holy vengeance? who would offer less
Heroic wrath and filial zeal to God
Than to a murdered father?
But my son
Will die with her he loves.
Better to perish
In time than in eternity. No question
Pends here of individual life; our sight
Must broaden to embrace the scope sublime
Of this trans-earthly theme. The Jew survives
Sword, plague, fire, cataclysm--and must, since Christ
Cursed him to live till doomsday, still to be
A scarecrow to the nations. None the less
Are we beholden in Christ's name at whiles,
When maggot-wise Jews breed, infest, infect
Communities of Christians, to wash clean
The Church's vesture, shaking off the filth
That gathers round her skirts. A perilous germ!
Know you not, all the wells, the very air
The Jews have poisoned?--Through their arts alone
The Black Death scourges Christendom.
All heinousness imputed by their foes.
Father, mistake me not: I urge no plea
To shield this hell-spawn, loathed by all who love
The lamb and kiss the Cross. I had not guessed
Such obscure creatures crawled upon my path,
Had not my son--I know not how misled--
Deigned to ennoble with his great regard,
A sparkle midst the dust motes. SHE is sacred.
What is her tribe to me? Her kith and kin
May rot or roast--the Jews of Nordhausen
May hang, drown, perish like the Jews of France,
But she shall live--Liebhaid von Orb, the Jewess,
The Prince, my son, elects to love.
Washed in baptismal waters she shall be
Led like the clean-fleeced yeanling to the fold.
Trust me, my daughter--for through me the Church
Which is the truth, which is the life, doth speak.
Yet first 't were best essay to cure the Prince
Of this moon-fostered madness, bred, no doubt,
By baneful potions which these cunning knaves
Are skilled to mix.
Go visit him, dear father,
Where in the high tower mewed, a wing-clipped eagle,
His spirit breaks in cage. You are his master,
He is wont from childhood to hear wisdom fall
From your instructed lips. Tell him his mother
Rises not from her knees, till he is freed.
Madam, I go. Our holy Church has healed
Far deadlier heart-wounds than a love-sick boy's.
Be of good cheer, the Prince shall live to bless
The father's rigor who kept pure of blot
A 'scutcheon more unsullied than the sun.
Thanks and farewell.
Farewell. God send thee peace!
A mean apartment in one of the Towers of the Landgrave's Palace.
PRINCE WILLIAM discovered seated at the window.
The slow sun sets; with lingering, large embrace
He folds the enchanted hill; then like a god
Strides into heaven behind the purple peak.
Oh beautiful! In the clear, rayless air,
I see the chequered vale mapped far below,
The sky-paved streams, the velvet pasture-slopes,
The grim, gray cloister whose deep vesper bell
Blends at this height with tinkling, homebound herds!
I see--but oh, how far!--the blessed town
Where Liebhaid dwells. Oh that I were yon star
That pricks the West's unbroken foil of gold,
Bright as an eye, only to gaze on her!
How keen it sparkles o'er the Venusburg!
When brown night falls and mists begin to live,
Then will the phantom hunting-train emerge,
Hounds straining, black fire-eyeballed, breathless steeds,
Spurred by wild huntsmen, and unhallowed nymphs,
And at their head the foam-begotten witch,
Of soul-destroying beauty. Saints of heaven!
Preserve mine eyes from such unholy sight!
How all unlike the base desire which leads
Misguided men to that infernal cave,
Is the pure passion that exalts my soul
Like a religion! Yet Christ pardon me
If this be sin to thee!
[He takes his lute, and begins to sing. Enter with a lamp Steward
of the Castle, followed by PRIOR PEPPERCORN. Steward lays down the
lamp and exit.]
Good even, father!
Our bird makes merry his dull bars with song,
Yet would not penitential psalms accord
More fitly with your sin than minstrels' lays?
I know no blot upon my life's fair record.
What is it to wanton with a Christ-cursed Jewess,
Defy thy father and pollute thy name,
And fling to the ordures thine immortal soul?
Forbear! thy cowl's a helmet, thy serge frock
Invulnerable as brass--yet I am human,
Thou, priest, art still a man.
Pity him, Heaven!
To what a pass their draughts have brought the mildest,
Noblest of princes! Softly, my son; be ruled
By me, thy spiritual friend and father.
Thou hast been drugged with sense-deranging potions,
Thy blood set boiling and thy brain askew;
When these thick fumes subside, thou shalt awake
To bless the friend who gave thy madness bounds.
Madness! Yea, as the sane world goes, I am mad.
What else to help the helpless, to uplift
The low, to adore the good, the beautiful,
To live, battle, suffer, die for truth, for love!
But that is wide of the question. Let me hear
What you are charged to impart--my father's will.
Heart-cleft by his dear offspring's shame, he prays
Your reason be restored, your wayward sense
Renew its due allegiance. For his son
He, the good parent, weeps--hot drops of gall,
Wrung from a spirit seldom eased by tears.
But for his honor pricked, the Landgrave takes
More just and general vengeance.
In the name of God,
What has he done to HER?
Naught, naught,--as yet.
Sweet Prince, be calm; you leap like flax to flame.
You nest within your heart a cockatrice,
Pluck it from out your bosom and breathe pure
Of the filthy egg. The Landgrave brooks no more
The abomination that infects his town.
The Jews of Nordhausen are doomed.
Who and how many of that harmless tribe,
Those meek and pious men, have been elected
To glut with innocent blood the oppressor's wrath?
Who should go free where equal guilt is shared?
Frederick is just--they perish all at once,
Generous moreover--for in their mode of death
He grants them choice.
My father had not lost
The human semblance when I saw him last.
Nor can he be divorced in this short space
From his shrewd wit. How shall he make provision
For the vast widowed, orphaned host this deed
Burdens the state withal?
This is the crown of folly, topping all!
Forgive me, Prince, when I gain breath to point
Your comic blunder, you will laugh with me.
Patience--I'll draw my chin as long as yours.
Well, 't was my fault--one should be accurate--
Jews, said I? when I meant Jews, Jewesses,
And Jewlings! all betwixt the age
Of twenty-four hours, and of five score years.
Of either sex, of every known degree,
All the contaminating vermin purged
With one clean, searching blast of wholesome fire.
O Christ, disgraced, insulted! Horrible man,
Remembered be your laugh in lowest hell,
Dragging you to the nether pit! Forgive me;
You are my friend--take me from here--unbolt
Those iron doors--I'll crawl upon my knees
Unto my father--I have much to tell him.
For but the freedom of one hour, sweet Prior,
I'll brim the vessels of the Church with gold.
Boy! your bribes touch not, nor your curses shake
The minister of Christ. Yet I will bear
Your message to the Landgrave.
Whet your tongue
Keen as the archangel's blade of truth--your voice
Be as God's thunder, and your heart one blaze--
Then can you speak my cause. With me, it needs
No plausive gift; the smitten head, stopped throat,
Blind eyes and silent suppliance of sorrow
Persuade beyond all eloquence. Great God!
Here while I rage and beat against my bars,
The infernal fagots may be stacked for her,
The hell-spark kindled. Go to him, dear Prior,
Speak to him gently, be not too much moved,
'Neath its rude case you had ever a soft heart,
And he is stirred by mildness more than passion.
Recall to him her round, clear, ardent eyes,
The shower of sunshine that's her hair, the sheen
Of the cream-white flesh--shall these things serve as fuel?
Tell him that when she heard once he was wounded,
And how he bled and anguished; at the tale
She wept for pity.
If her love be true
She will adore her lover's God, embrace
The faith that marries you in life and death.
This promise with the Landgrave would prevail
More than all sobs and pleadings.
Save her, save her!
If any promise, vow, or oath can serve.
Oh trusting, tranquil Susskind, who estopped
Your ears forewarned, bandaged your visioned eyes,
To woo destruction! Stay! did he not speak
Of amulet or talisman? These horrors
Have crowded out my wits. Yea, the gold casket!
What fixed serenity beamed from his brow,
Laying the precious box within my hands!
[He brings from the shelf the casket, and hands it to the Prior.]
Deliver this unto the Prince my father,
Nor lose one vital moment. What it holds,
I guess not--but my light heart whispers me
The jewel safety's locked beneath its lid.
First I must foil such devil's tricks as lurk
In its gem-crusted cabinet.
Deliverance posts on your return. I feel it.
For your much comfort thanks. Good-night.
A cell in the Wartburg Monastery. Enter PRIOR PEPPERCORN with
So! Glittering shell where doubtless shines concealed
An orient treasure fit to bribe a king,
Ransom a prince and buy him for a son.
I have baptized thee now before the altar,
Effaced the Jew's contaminating touch,
And I am free to claim the Church's tithe
From thy receptacle.
[He is about to unlock the casket, when enters Lay-Brother, and he
hastily conceals it.]
Peace be thine, father!
Amen! and thine. What's new?
A strange Flagellant
Fresh come to Wartburg craves a word with thee.
Bid him within.
[Exit Lay-Brother. PRIOR places the casket in a Cabinet.]
Patience! No hour of the day
Brings freedom to the priest.
Reenter Lay-Brother ushering in NORDMANN, and exit.
Brother, all hail!
Blessed be thou who comest in God's name!
May the Lord grant thee thine own prayer fourfold!
What is thine errand?
Look at me, my father.
Long since you called me friend.
[The PRIOR looks at him attentively, while an expression of wonder
and terror gradually overspreads his face.]
The grave gives up her dead. Thou canst not be--
Nordmann of Nordmannstein, the Knight of Treffurt.
He was beheaded years agone.
Had been decreed, but in his stead a squire
Clad in his garb and masked, paid bloody forfeit.
A loyal wretch on whom the Prince wreaked vengeance,
Rather than publish the true bird had flown.
Does Frederick know thou art in Eisenach?
Who would divine the Knight of Nordmannstein
In the Flagellants' weeds? From land to land,
From town to town, we cry, "Death to the Jews!
Hep! hep! "Hierosolyma est perdita!"
They die like rats; in Gotha they are burned;
Two of the devil brutes in Chatelard,
Child-murderers, wizards, breeders of the Plague,
Had the truth squeezed from them with screws and racks,
All with explicit date, place, circumstance,
And written as it fell from dying lips
By scriveners of the law. On their confession
The Jews of Savoy were destroyed. To-morrow noon
The holy flames shall dance in Nordhausen.
Your zeal bespeaks you fair. In your deep eyes
A mystic fervor shines; yet your scarred flesh
And shrunken limbs denote exhausted nature,
Collapsing under discipline.
Of the degrading body and its pangs.
I am all zeal, all energy, all spirit.
Jesus was wroth at me, at all the world,
For our indulgence of the flesh, our base
Compounding with his enemies the Jews.
But at Madonna Mary's intercession,
He charged an angel with this gracious word,
"Whoso will scourge himself for forty days,
And labor towards the clean extermination
Of earth's corrupting vermin, shall be saved."
Oh, what vast peace this message brought my soul!
I have learned to love the ecstasy of pain.
When the sweat stands upon my flesh, the blood
Throbs in my bursting veins, my twisted muscles
Are cramped with agony, I seem to crawl
Anigh his feet who suffered on the Cross.
O all transforming Time! Can this be he,
The iron warrior of a decade since,
The gallant youth of earlier years, whose pranks
And reckless buoyancy of temper flashed
Clear sunshine through my gloom?
I am unchanged
(Save that the spirit of grace has fallen on me).
Urged by one motive through these banished years,
Fed by one hope, awake to realize
One living dream--my long delayed revenge.
You saw the day when Henry Schnetzen's castle
Was razed with fire?
I saw it.
Three days a mother, perished.
And his child?
His child was saved.
By the same Jew
Who had betrayed the Castle.
Susskind von Orb?
Susskind von Orb! and Schnetzen's daughter lives
As the Jew's child within the Judengasse.
What proof hast thou of this?
Proof of these eyes!
I visited von Orb to ask a loan.
There saw I such a maiden as no Jew
Was ever blessed withal since Jesus died.
White as a dove, with hair like golden floss,
Eyes like an Alpine lake. The haughty line
Of brow imperial, high bridged nose, fine chin,
Seemed like the shadow cast upon the wall,
Where Lady Schnetzen stood.
Why hast thou ne'er
Discovered her to Schnetzen?
He was my friend.
I shared with him thirst, hunger, sword, and fire.
But he became a courtier. When the Margrave
Sent me his second challenge to the field,
His messenger was Schnetzen! 'Mongst his knights,
The apple of his eye was Henry Schnetzen.
He was the hound that hunted me to death.
He stood by Frederick's side when I was led,
Bound, to the presence. I denounced him coward,
He smote me on the cheek. Christ! it stings yet.
He hissed--"My liege, let Henry Nordmann hang!
He is no knight, for he receives a blow,
Nor dare avenge it!" My gyved wrists moved not,
No nerve twitched in my face, although I felt
Flame leap there from my heart, then flying back,
Leave it cold-bathed with deathly ooze--my soul
In silence took her supreme vow of hate.
Praise be to God that thou hast come to-day.
To-morrow were too late. Hast thou not heard
Frederick sends Schnetzen unto Nordhausen,
With fire and torture for the Jews?
So! Henry Schnetzen
Shall be the Jews' destroyer? Ah!
Mayhap this box which Susskind sends the Prince
Reveals more wonders.
[He brings forth the Casket from the Cabinet, opens it, and
discovers a golden cross and a parchment which he hastily
Hark! your word's confirmed
Blessed be Christ, our Lord! (reads).
"I Susskind von Orb of Nordhausen, swear by the unutterable Name,
that on the day when the Castle of Salza was burned, I rescued the
infant daughter of Henry Schnetzen from the flames. I purposed
restoring her to her father, but when I returned to Nordhausen, I
found my own child lying on her bier, and my wife in fevered frenzy
calling for her babe. I sought the leech, who counselled me to
show the Christian child to the bereaved mother as her own. The
pious trick prevailed; the fever broke, the mother was restored.
But never would she part with the child, even when she had learned
to whom it belonged, and until she was gathered with the dead--may
peace be with her soul!--she fostered in our Jewish home the
offspring of the Gentile knight. Then again would I have yielded
the girl to her parent, but Schnetzen was my foe, and I feared the
haughty baron would disown the daughter who came from the hands of
the Jew. Now however the maiden's temporal happiness demands that
she be acknowledged by her rightful father. Let him see what I
have written. As a token, behold this golden cross, bound by the
Lady Schnetzen round the infant's neck. May the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob redeem and bless me as I have writ the truth."
I thank the Saints that this has come betimes.
Thou shalt renounce thy hate. Vengeance is mine,
The Lord hath said.
O all-transforming Time!
Is this meek, saintly-hypocrite, the firm,
Ambitious, resolute Reinhard Peppercorn,
Terror of Jews and beacon of the Church?
Look, you, I have won the special grace of Christ,
He knows through what fierce anguish! Now he leans
Out of his heaven to whisper in mine ear,
And reach me my revenge. He makes my cause
His own--and I shall fail upon these heights,
Sink from the level of a hate sublime,
To puerile pity!
Be advised. You hold
Your enemy's living heart within your hands.
This secret is far costlier than you dreamed,
For Frederick's son wooes Schnetzen's daughter. See,
A hundred delicate springs your wit may move,
Your puppets are the Landgrave and the Prince,
The Governor of Salza and the Jews.
You may recover station, wealth, and honor,
Selling your secret shrewdly; while rash greed
Of clumsy vengeance may but drag you down
In the wild whirl of universal ruin.
Christ teach me whom to trust! I would not spill
One drop from out this brimming glorious cup
For which my parched heart pants. I will consider.
Pardon me now, if I break off our talk.
Let all rest as it stands until the dawn.
I have many orisons before the light.
Good-night, true friend. Devote a prayer to me.
(Aside.) I will outwit you, serpent, though you glide
Athwart the dark, noiseless and swift as fate.
On the road to Nordhausen. Moonlit, rocky landscape. On the
right between high, white cliffs a narrow stream spanned by a
wooden bridge. Thick bushes and trees. Enter PRINCE WILLIAM
Is this the place where we shall find fresh steeds?
Would I had not dismounted!
Nay, sir; beyond
The Werra bridge the horses wait for us.
These rotten planks would never bear their weight.
When I am Landgrave these things shall be cared for.
This is an ugly spot for travellers
To loiter in. How swift the water runs,
Brawling above our voices. Human cries
Would never reach Liborius' convent yonder,
Perched on the sheer, chalk cliff. I think of peril,
From my excess of joy. My spirit chafes,
She that would breast broad-winged the air, must halt
On stumbling mortal limbs. Look, thither, boy,
How the black shadows of the tree-boles stripe
The moon-blanched bridge and meadow.
Sir, what's that?
Yon stir and glitter in the bush?
Pricking the dewdrops, plays fantastic tricks
With objects most familiar. Look again,
And where thou sawst the steel-blue flicker glint,
Thou findst a black, wet leaf.
No, no! O God!
Your sword, sir! Treason!
[Four armed masked men leap from out the bush, seize, bind, and
overmaster, after a brief but violent resistance, the Prince and
Who are ye, villains? lying
In murderous ambush for the Prince of Meissen?
If you be knights, speak honorably your names,
And I will combat you in knightly wise.
If ye be robbers, name forthwith your ransom.
Let me but speed upon my journey now.
By Christ's blood! I beseech you, let me go!
Ho! treason! murder! help!
[He is dragged off struggling. Exeunt omnes.]
Nordhausen. A room in SUSSKIND's house. LIEBHAID and CLAIRE.
Say on, poor girl, if but to speak these horrors
Revive not too intense a pang.
For all my woes seem here to merge their flood
Into a sea of infinite repose.
Through France our journey led, as I have told,
From desolation unto desolation.
Naught stayed my father's course--sword, storm, flame, plague,
Exhaustion of the eighty year old frame,
O'ertaxed beyond endurance. Once, once only,
His divine force succumbed. 'T was at day's close,
And all the air was one discouragement
Of April snow-flakes. I was drenched, cold, sick,
With weariness and hunger light of head,
And on the open road, suddenly turned
The whole world like the spinning flakes of snow.
My numb hand slipped from his, and all was blank.
His beard, his breath upon my brow, his tears
Scalding my cheek hugged close against his breast,
And in my ear deep groans awoke me. "God!"
I heard him cry, "try me not past my strength.
No prophet I, a blind, old dying man!"
Gently I drew his face to mine, and kissed,
Whispering courage--then his spirit broke
Utterly; shattered were his wits, I feared.
But past is past; he is at peace, and I
Find shelter from the tempest. Tell me rather
Of your serene life.
Happiness is mute.
What record speaks of placid, golden days,
Matched each with each as twins? Till yester eve
My life was simple as a song. At whiles
Dark tales have reached us of our people's wrongs,
Strange, far-off anguish, furrowing with fresh care
My father's brow, draping our home with gloom.
We were still blessed; the Landgrave is his friend--
The Prince--my Prince--dear Claire, ask me no more!
My adored enemy, my angel-fiend,
Splitting my heart against my heart! O God,
How shall I pray for strength to love him less
Than mine own soul?
What mean these contrary words?
These passionate tears?
Brave girl, who art inured
To difficult privation and rude pain,
What good shall come forswearing kith and God,
To follow the allurements of the heart?
Duty wears one face, but a thousand masks.
Thy feet she leads to glittering peaks, while mine
She guides midst brambled roadways. Not the first
Art thou of Israel's women, chosen of God,
To rule o'er rulers. I remember me
A verse my father often would repeat
Out of our sacred Talmud: "Every time
The sun, moon, stars begin again their course,
They hesitate, trembling and filled with shame,
Blush at the blasphemous worship offered them,
And each time God's voice thunders, crying out,
On with your duty!"
Sister, we are lost!
The streets are thronged with panic-stricken folk.
Wild rumors fill the air. Two of our tribe,
Young Mordecai, as I hear, and old Baruch,
Seized by the mob, were dragged towards Eisenach,
Cruelly used, left to bleed out their lives,
In the wayside ditch at night. This morn, betimes,
The iron-hearted Governor of Salza
Rides furious into Nordhausen; his horse,
Spurred past endurance, drops before the gate.
The Council has been called to hear him read
The Landgrave's message,--all men say, 'tis death
Unto our race.
Where is our father, Reuben?
With Rabbi Jacob. Through the streets they walk,
Striving to quell the terror. Ah, too late!
Had he but heeded the prophetic voice,
This warning angel led to us in vain!
Brother, be calm. Man your young heart to front
Whatever ills the Lord afflicts us with.
What does Prince William? Hastes he not to aid?
None know his whereabouts. Some say he's held
Imprisoned by the Landgrave. Others tell
While he was posting with deliverance
To Nordhausen, in bloody Schnetzen's wake,
He was set upon by ruffians--kidnapped--killed.
What do I know--hid till our ruin's wrought.
Hush, foolish boy. See how your rude words hurt.
Look up, sweet girl; take comfort.
Pluck up heart:
Dear sister, pardon me; he lives, he lives!
God help me! Shall my heart crack for love's loss
That meekly bears my people's martyrdom?
He lives--I feel it--to live or die with me.
I love him as my soul--no more of that.
I am all Israel's now--till this cloud pass,
I have no thought, no passion, no desire,
Save for my people.
Blessed art thou, my child!
This is the darkest hour before the dawn.
Thou art the morning-star of Israel.
How dear thou art to me--heart of my heart,
Mine, mine, all mine to-day! the pious thought,
The orient spirit mine, the Jewish soul.
The glowing veins that sucked life-nourishment
From Hebrew mother's milk. Look at me, Liebhaid,
Tell me you love me. Pity me, my God!
No fiercer pang than this did Jephthah know.
Father, what wild and wandering words are these?
Is all hope lost?
Nay, God is good to us.
I am so well assured the town is safe,
That I can weep my private loss--of thee.
An ugly dream I had, quits not my sense,
That you, made Princess of Thuringia,
Forsook your father, and forswore your race.
Forgive me, Liebhaid, I am calm again,
We must be brave--I who besought my tribe
To bide their fate in Nordhausen, and you
Whom God elects for a peculiar lot.
With many have I talked; some crouched at home,
Some wringing hands about the public ways.
I gave all comfort. I am very weary.
My children, we had best go in and pray,
Solace and safety dwell but in the Lord.
The City Hall at Nordhausen. Deputies and Burghers assembling.
To the right, at a table near the President's chair, is seated
the Public Scrivener. Enter DIETRICH VON TETTENBORN, and HENRY
SCHNETZEN with an open letter in his hand.
Didst hear the fellow's words who handed it?
I asked from whom it came, he spoke by rote,
"The pepper bites, the corn is ripe for harvest,
I come from Eisenach." 'T is some tedious jest.
Doubtless your shrewd friend Prior Peppercorn
Masks here some warning. Ask the scrivener
To help us to its contents.
SCHNETZEN (to the clerk).
Read me these.
"Beware, Lord Henry Schnetzen, of Susskind's lying tongue! He will
thrust a cuckoo's egg into your nest.
[Signed] ONE WHO KNOWS."
A cuckoo's egg! that riddle puzzles me;
But this I know. Schnetzen is no man's dupe,
Much less a Jew's.
[SCHNETZEN and VON TETTENBORN take their seats side by side.]
Knights, counsellors and burghers!
Sir Henry Schnetzen, Governor of Salza,
Comes on grave mission from His Highness Frederick,
Margrave of Meissen, Landgrave of Thuringia,
Our town's imperial Patron and Protector.
Gentles, I greet you in the Landgrave's name,
The honored bearer of his princely script,
Sealed with his signet. Read, good Master Clerk.
[He hands a parchment to the Scrivener, who reads aloud]:
Lord President and Deputies of the town of Nordhausen! Know that
we, Frederick Margrave of Meissen, and Landgrave of Thuringia,
command to be burned all the Jews within our territories as far
as our lands extend, on account of the great crime they have
committed against Christendom in throwing poison into the wells,
of the truth of which indictment we have absolute knowledge.
Therefore we admonish you to have the Jews killed in honor of
God, so that Christendom be not enfeebled by them. Whatever
responsibility you incur, we will assume with our Lord the Emperor,
and with all other lords. Know also that we send to you Henry
Schnetzen, our Governor of Salza, who shall publicly accuse your
Jews of the above-mentioned crime. Therefore we beseech you to
help him to do justice upon them, and we will singularly reward
your good will.*
Given at Eisenach, the Thursday after St. Walpurgis, under our
*This is an authentic document.
A COUNSELLOR (DIETHER VON WERTHER).
Fit silence welcomes this unheard-of wrong!
So! Ye are men--free, upright, honest men,
Not hired assassins? I half doubted it,
Seeing you lend these infamous words your ears.
Consider, gentlemen of Nordhausen,
Ere ye give heed to the rash partisan.
Ye cross the Landgrave--well? he crosses you.
It may be I shall ride to Nordhausen,
Not with a harmless script, but with a sword,
And so denounce the town for perjured vow.
What was the Strasburg citizens' reward
Who championed these lost wretches, in the face
Of King and Kaiser--three against the world,
Conrad von Winterthur the Burgomaster,
Deputy Gosse Sturm, and Peter Schwarber,
Master Mechanic? These leagued fools essayed
To stand between the people's sacred wrath,
And its doomed object. Well, the Jews, no less,
Were rooted from the city neck and crop,
And their three friends degraded from their rank
I' the city council, glad to save their skins.
The Jews are foes to God. Our Holy Father
Thunders his ban from Rome against all such
As aid the poisoners. Your oath to God,
And to the Prince enjoins--Death to the Jews.
A BURGHER (REINHARD ROLAPP).
Why all this vain debate? The Landgrave's brief
Affirms the Jews fling poison in the wells.
Shall we stand by and leave them unmolested,
Till they have made our town a wilderness?
I say, Death to the Jews!
A BURGHER (HUGO SCHULTZ).
My lord and brethren,
I have scant gift of speech, ye are all my elders.
Yet hear me for truth's sake, and liberty's.
The Landgrave of Thuringia is our patron,
True--and our town's imperial Governor,
But are we not free burghers? Shall we not
Debate and act in freedom? If Lord Schnetzen
Will force our council with the sword--enough!
We are not frightened schoolboys crouched beneath
The master's rod, but men who bear the sword
As brave as he. By this grim messenger,
Send back this devilish missive. Say to Frederick
Nordhausen never was enfeoffed to him.
Prithee, Lord President, bid Henry Schnetzen
Withdraw awhile, that we may all take counsel,
According to the hour's necessity,
As free men, whom nor fear nor favor swerves.
Bold youth, you err. True, Nordhausen is free,
And God be witness, we for fear or favor,
Would never shed the blood of innocence.
But here the Prince condemns the Jews to death
For capital crime. Who sees a snake must kill,
Ere it spit fatal venom. I, too, say
Death to the Jews
Death to the Jews! God wills it!
Give me your voices in the urn.
(The votes are taken.) One voice
For mercy, all the rest for death. (To an Usher.)
To the Jews' quarter; bid Susskind von Orb,
And Rabbi Jacob hither to the Senate,
To hear the Landgrave's and the town's decree.
(To Schnetzen.) What learn you of this evil through the State?
It swells to monstrous bulk. In many towns,
Folk build high ramparts round the wells and springs.
In some they shun the treacherous sparkling brooks,
To drink dull rain-water, or melted snow,
In mountain districts. Frederick has been patient,
And too long clement, duped by fleece-cloaked wolves.
But now his subjects' clamor rouses him
To front the general peril. As I hear,
A fiendish and far-reaching plot involves
All Christian thrones and peoples. These vile vermin,
Burrowing underneath society,
Have leagued with Moors in Spain, with heretics
Too plentiful--Christ knows! in every land,
And planned a subterraneous, sinuous scheme,
To overthrow all Christendom. But see,
Where with audacious brows, and steadfast mien,
They enter, bold as innocence. Now listen,
For we shall hear brave falsehoods.
Enter SUSSKIND VON ORB and RABBI JACOB.
And thou, Susskind von Orb, bow down, and learn
The Council's pleasure. You the least despised
By true believers, and most reverenced
By your own tribe, we grace with our free leave
To enter, yea, to lift your voices here,
Amid these wise and honorable men,
If ye find aught to plead, that mitigates
The just severity of your doom. Our prince,
Frederick the Grave, Patron of Nordhausen,
Ordains that all the Jews within his lands,
For the foul crime of poisoning the wells,
Bringing the Black Death upon Christendom,
Shall be consumed with flame.
RABBI JACOB (springing forward and clasping his hands).
I' the name of God,
Your God and ours, have mercy!
Burghers, and artisans of Nordhausen,
Wise, honorable, just, God-fearing men,
Shall ye condemn or ever ye have heard?
Sure, one at least owns here the close, kind name
Of Brother--unto him I turn. At least
Some sit among you who have wedded wives,
Bear the dear title and the precious charge
Of Husband--unto these I speak. Some here,
Are crowned, it may be, with the sacred name
Of Father--unto these I pray. All, all
Are sons--all have been children, all have known
The love of parents--unto these I cry:
Have mercy on us, we are innocent,
Who are brothers, husbands, fathers, sons as ye!
Look you, we have dwelt among you many years,
Led thrifty, peaceable, well-ordered lives.
Who can attest, who prove we ever wrought
Or ever did devise the smallest harm,
Far less this fiendish crime against the State?
Rather let those arise who owe the Jews
Some debt of unpaid kindness, profuse alms,
The Hebrew leech's serviceable skill,
Who know our patience under injury,
And ye would see, if all stood bravely forth,
A motley host, led by the Landgrave's self,
Recruited from all ranks, and in the rear,
The humblest, veriest wretch in Nordhausen.
We know the Black Death is a scourge of God.
Is not our flesh as capable of pain,
Our blood as quick envenomed as your own?
Has the Destroying Angel passed the posts
Of Jewish doors--to visit Christian homes?
We all are slaves of one tremendous Hour.
We drink the waters which our enemies say
We spoil with poison,--we must breathe, as ye,
The universal air,--we droop, faint, sicken,
From the same causes to the selfsame end.
Ye are not strangers to me, though ye wear
Grim masks to-day--lords, knights and citizens,
Few do I see whose hand has pressed not mine,
In cordial greeting. Dietrich von Tettenborn,
If at my death my wealth be confiscate
Unto the State, bethink you, lest she prove
A harsher creditor than I have been.
Stout Meister Rolapp, may you never again
Languish so nigh to death that Simon's art
Be needed to restore your lusty limbs.
Good Hugo Schultz--ah! be those blessed tears
Remembered unto you in Paradise!
Look there, my lords, one of your council weeps,
If you be men, why, then an angel sits
On yonder bench. You have good cause to weep,
You who are Christian, and disgraced in that
Whereof you made your boast. I have no tears.
A fiery wrath has scorched their source, a voice
Shrills through my brain--"Not upon us, on them
Fall everlasting woe, if this thing be!"
My lords of Nordhausen, shall ye be stunned
With sounding words? Behold the serpent's skin,
Sleek-shining, clear as sunlight; yet his tooth
Holds deadly poison. Even as the Jews
Did nail the Lord of heaven on the Cross,
So will they murder all his followers,
When once they have the might. Beware, beware!
So YOU are the accuser, my lord Schnetzen?
Now I confess, before you I am guilty.
You are in all this presence, the one man
Whom any Jew hath wronged--and I that Jew.
Oh, my offence is grievous; punish me
With the utmost rigor of the law, for theft
And violence, whom ye deemed an honest man,
But leave my tribe unharmed! I yield my hands
Unto your chains, my body to your fires;
Let one life serve for all.
You hear, my lords,
How the prevaricating villain shrinks
From the absolute truth, yet dares not front his Maker
With the full damnable lie hot on his lips.
Not thou alone, my private foe, shalt die,
But all thy race. Thee had my vengeance reached,
Without appeal to Prince or citizen.
Silence! my heart is cuirassed as my breast.
Bear with us, gracious lords! My friend is stunned.
He is an honest man. Even I, as 't were,
Am stupefied by this surprising news.
Yet, let me think--it seems it is not new,
This is an ancient, well-remembered pain.
What, brother, came not one who prophesied
This should betide exactly as it doth?
That was a shrewd old man! Your pardon, lords,
I think you know not just what you would do.
You say the Jews shall burn--shall burn you say;
Why, good my lords, the Jews are not a flock
Of gallows-birds, they are a colony
Of kindly, virtuous folk. Come home with me;
I'll show you happy hearths, glad roofs, pure lives.
Why, some of them are little quick-eyed boys,
Some, pretty, ungrown maidens--children's children
Of those who called me to the pastorate.
And some are beautiful tall girls, some, youths
Of marvellous promise, some are old and sick,
Amongst them there be mothers, infants, brides,
Just like your Christian people, for all the world.
Know ye what burning is? Hath one of you
Scorched ever his soft flesh, or singed his beard,
His hair, his eyebrows--felt the keen, fierce nip
Of the pungent flame--and raises not his voice
To stop this holocaust? God! 't is too horrible!
Wake me, my friends, from this terrific dream.
Courage, my brother. On our firmness hangs
The dignity of Israel. Sir Governor,
I have a secret word to speak with you.
Ye shall enjoy with me the jest. These knaves
Are apt to quick invention as in crime.
Speak out--I have no secrets from my peers.
My lord, what answer would you give your Christ
If peradventure, in this general doom
You sacrifice a Christian? Some strayed dove
Lost from your cote, among our vultures caged?
Beware, for midst our virgins there is one
Owes kinship nor allegiance to our tribe.
For her dear sake be pitiful, my lords,
Have mercy on our women! Spare at least
My daughter Liebhaid, she is none of mine!
She is a Christian!
Just as I foretold!
The wretches will forswear the sacred'st ties,
Cringing for life. Serpents, ye all shall die.
So wills the Landgrave; so the court affirms.
Your daughter shall be first, whose wanton arts
Have brought destruction on a princely house.
My lord, be moved. You kill your flesh and blood.
By Adonai I swear, your dying wife
Entrusted to these arms her child. 'T was I
Carried your infant from your burning home.
Lord Schnetzen, will you murder your own child?
Ha, excellent! I was awaiting this.
Thou wilt inoculate our knightly veins
With thy corrupted Jewish blood. Thou 'lt foist
This adder on my bosom. Henry Schnetzen
Is no weak dupe, whom every lie may start.
Make ready, Jew, for death--and warn thy tribe.
Is there a God in heaven? I who ne'er knelt
Until this hour to any man on earth,
Tyrant, before thee I abase myself.
If one red drop of human blood still flow
In thy congealed veins, if thou e'er have known
Touch of affection, the blind natural instinct
Of common kindred, even beasts partake,
Thou man of frozen stone, thou hollow statue,
Grant me one prayer, that thou wilt look on her.
Then shall the eyes of thy dead wife gaze back
From out the maiden's orbs, then shall a voice
Within thine entrails, cry--This is my child.
Enough! I pray you, my lord President,
End this unseemly scene. This wretched Jew
Would thrust a cuckoo's egg within my nest.
I have had timely warning. Send the twain
Back to their people, that the court's decree
Be published unto all.
Citizens! will you see this nameless crime
Brand the clean earth, blacken the crystal heaven?
Why, no man stirs! God! with what thick strange fumes
Hast thou, o' the sudden, brutalized their sense?
Or am I mad? Is this already hell?
Worshipful fiends, I have good store of gold,
Packed in my coffers, or loaned out to--Christians;
I give it you as free as night bestows
Her copious dews--my life shall seal the bond,
Have mercy on my race!
No more, no more!
Go, bid your tribe make ready for their death
At set of sun to-day?
Why, if you travelled to the nighest town,
Summoned to stand before a mortal Prince
You would need longer grace to put in order
Household effects, to bid farewell to friends,
And make yourself right worthy. But our way
Is long, our journey difficult, our judge
Of awful majesty. Must we set forth,
Haste-flushed and unprepared? One brief day more,
And all my wealth is yours!
We have heard enough.
Begone, and bear our message.
Our fate is sealed. These tigers are athirst.
Return we to our people to proclaim
The gracious sentence of the noble court.
Let us go thank the Lord who made us those
To suffer, not to do, this deed. Be strong.
So! lean on me--we have little time to lose.
A Room in Susskind's House. LIEBHAID, CLAIRE, REUBEN.
The air hangs sultry as in mid-July.
Look forth, Claire; moves not some big thundercloud
Athwart the sky? My heart is sick.
The clear May sun is shining, and the air
Blows fresh and cordial from the budding hills.
Reuben, what is 't o'clock. Our father stays.
The midday meal was cold an hour agone.
'T is two full hours past noon; he should be here.
Ah see, he comes. Great God! what woe has chanced?
He totters on his staff; he has grown old
Since he went forth this morn.