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THE NATURAL DAUGHTER A TRAGEDY - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 2.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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THE NATURAL DAUGHTER A TRAGEDY
Our fleeting goal attracting dogs and man
To follow swift along the winding course—
The noble stag has led us far astray
O’er vales and mountains, till I needs must own
That I myself, although so country-wise,
Am quite at loss. Where are we, uncle? Duke,
Pray tell me what these hills are that we cross’d!
The brook that babbles past us, Sire, arises
Upon thy servant’s near domain, for which
He has to thank the generous grace bestow’d
By thee and by thy royal ancestors
Upon him, as first vassal of the realm.
Beyond the rocks of yonder eminence
A pleasant house stands hid by veils of green,
Not built at all for housing royalty,
But ready to receive thee, if thou wilt.
Nay! let the lofty arches of these trees
Give shelter for the moment that we rest,
And let the gentle stirring of the breeze
Weave round us, while the joy of peaceful scenes
Succeeds the joy of dashing o’er the course.
The pleasure that thou feelest here, O King,
Behind this lovely screen of Nature’s work,
In absolute seclusion, I also feel.
Here comes not nigh the voice of discontent,
Nor yet the hand of shameless violence.
Here in the freedom born of loneliness
Thou seest not the ungrateful slink away.
The restless world, which ever makes demand
And never lends its aid, is vanish’d now.
If I shall e’er forget what once oppress’d me
Then let no word recall me to its trials.
Ye echoes of the distant world’s commotion,
Little by little vanish from my ears!
Yea, prithee, uncle, suit thy fair discourse
To circumstances fitter for this spot.
Here wife and husband, hand-in-hand, should roam,
Rejoicing in the sight of comely children,
The highest reach of joy; here friend with friend
Draw nigh, disclosing every secret pleasure.
And didst not thou erewhile drop gentle hints
That when a quiet moment could be ours
Thou hadst some weighty secret to confess,
Some contemplated favor to demand,
Which, granted, would rejoice your faithful heart?
O Sire, no greater kindness could’st thou show me
Than setting free the fountain of my speech.
And what I fain would tell who else could hear
More fitly than my King, among whose treasures
None shine with such a lustre as his children,—
Who, I am sure, will give his sympathy
In all the father’s joy his servant feels?
Of father’s joy thou speakest! Know’st thou then
Its heavenly rapture? Has thy only son
Not torn thy loving heart by lawless actions,
By disobedience, by unfilial scorn,
Until thy sadden’d life reach’d bitter age?
Has he then lately chang’d his evil ways?
From him I have no hope of happier days,
His idle mind gives birth to clouds alone
Which ever gloom the horizon of my life.
A different star it is that sheds its light
Upon me. As in cheerless caverns shine,
Mysterious with their wonder-working rays,
Bright precious stones (so fairy legends say),
And gleam across the murky night which reigns,
So in my gloomy life a magic gift
Was granted, blessing me beyond all words—
A gift I cherish more than lands and gold
Inherited or won by deeds of war,
Yea, more than sight, more than the light of life,
And guard with joy and fear, with pain and pleasure.
Speak not so darkly of the mystery dark.
’Twould not be easy to confess our faults
In ears of royalty, were royalty
Alone not able to convert their harm
To fair results of right and good report.
The treasure guarded with such watchful love?
That treasure is a daughter.
What! a daughter?
And like the gods in fable, uncle, stole
In secret hither to earth’s lower circles
To take delight in earthly love and bliss?
Small things as well as great compell’d us, Sire,
To hide our actions from the world’s dispraise.
The lady, bound to me by wondrous Fate
In secret union, stood so high in rank:—
And even now thy court wears mourning garb
And secret sorrow gnaws my heart for her.
The Princess? She who lately died
So honor’d and so mourn’d?
She was the mother.
But let me speak of her alone—my child,
Who, living better than her parents liv’d,
Rejoices in the noble joys of life—
And all the rest leave buried in the grave
Of her the gifted, lofty-minded woman.
Her death at last unseals my lips. I dare
Before my King to name my daughter now—
I dare demand of him to lift her up
Upon a level with me and her peers,
To recognize her right to princely birth
Before his court, his kingdom and the world,
So sure am I of favor in his heart!
If all the virtues of her noble parents
Are found united in this niece whom thou
Preparest to present me ready grown,
Then must the court, then must our royal house,
From which a brilliant star set all too soon,
Give welcome to the new star rising fair.
Oh, learn to know her ere thou judgest her
With prejudice. Let not a father’s pride
Pervert thee. Much has Nature done for her
Which I with rarest pleasure contemplate.
And all the culture which our rank demands
Has, since her babyhood, been warmly foster’d.
Her steps were guided from her earliest days
By a skilful governess, a wise professor.
With what light-heartedness and pleasant wit
She makes the present serve her ready mind,
While poet Fancy paints with flattering hues
The fortune which she waits with eager joy!
Her gentle heart clings to her loving father,
Although her spirit willingly gives heed
To wise discourse of noble-thinking men,
Leading her slowly up the hill of learning.
And all the exercise of princely virtues
Is manifest in her fair graceful form.
Sire! thou thyself hast seen her unbeknown,
While round thee whirl’d the tumult of the chase.
To-day a daughter of the Amazons
She first upon the traces of the stag
Dash’d gallantly across the swelling stream.
We trembled when we saw the noble maid.
I am rejoic’d to know she is my kin.
And not to-day alone I learn’d to know
How pride and apprehension, joy and trouble
Commingle in a father’s yearning breast.
With mighty force and panting strove the steed
To land his rider on the farther shore,
Where thick-grown bushes hide the dusky hill,
And thus she vanish’d from my sight.
My eyes beheld her ere the labyrinth
Of bosky forest led us thus astray.
Who knows what distant field she now explores
With heart on fire because she miss’d the goal,
Where now alone it is permitted her
To approach the presence of her King revered,
And humbly wait until with royal favor
She is acknowledg’d as his kith and kin—
The latest blossom of his ancient line.
But what is yonder tumult that I see?
What means the running towards the precipice?
Why are the people gathering with such haste?
The eager huntress whom we all admir’d
Has fallen headlong from yon rocky height.
And are her wounds severe?
They sent away to call thy surgeon, Sire.
Why do I linger? If she’s dead, then naught
Remains for me to live for in the world.
What was it caus’d the accident, Sir Count?
It happen’d right before my very eyes:
A band of many riders found themselves
By fortune separated from the hunt,
And, led by that fair lady, prick’d their way
Upon the wood-crown’d summit of yon height.
They hear, they see below them in the valley
That all is over, see the noble stag
Succumb before the pack of yelping hounds,
And quickly then the company disbands,
Each seeking by the path where each may best,—
One here, one there,—a prosperous exit down.
But she alone no instant hesitates,
But spurs her steed from crag to crag sheer down;
We marvel at the luck of recklessness.
Bravely it goes with her awhile; at last
When she has reach’d the ultimate descent,
A steep bold cliff, the horse mistakes his steps
So insecure, and down he goes with her.
Thus much I saw and then the hurrying throng
Hid her from sight. I heard them call the surgeon;
And so I now am here to tell thee, Sire.
Oh, that she may be spar’d him! Dangerous
Is that man who has nothing more to lose.
Has then this sudden fright compell’d the secret,
Which, until now, he strove so hard to hide?
His confidence was freely given ere now.
The Princess’s death remov’d the seal of silence
From lips which tell a history long disclos’d—
An open secret unto court and city.
It is a curious and absurd conceit
That we through silence can annihilate
For others or ourselves the deeds we do.
Oh, leave to man this noble touch of pride!
He can, he must do many, many things
Which are not suitable to put in words.
They bring her hither, lifeless I’m afraid.
Oh, what an unexpected, sad event!
Eugenielaid apparently dead on woven boughs of pine.
Duke. Surgeon. Attendants.
(To theSurgeon.) Oh, if thy art and skill have any power,
Experienc’d sir, to whom our monarch’s life,
A priceless treasure, is entrusted, let
Her bright eyes once more open to the day,
That hope may shine upon me in her glance,
That from the depths of grief I may be sav’d,
If only for a fleeting moment now.
And then if nothing more, if thou canst keep her
Only a fleeting moment for me, then,
Oh, let me haste and pass away before her,
That in the very article of death
I still may say, consol’d, “My daughter lives.”
Pray, leave us, uncle! Let me undertake
The faithful service of a father’s love.
This worthy man will nothing leave undone;
As though myself lay wounded sore, he will—
Doubt not—exert his skill upon thy daughter.
Art thou assur’d of it?
Her eyes are open wide; she glances round!
She lives! She lives!
(Stepping back a little.) Redouble your exertions!
She lives! She lives! Again the light of day
Her eyes behold. Yes! soon she’ll recognize
Her loving father and her friends once more!
My darling child, gaze not so wild around
As though uncertain: towards me turn thy face,
Oh, turn thy face upon thy father first.
Dost thou not know me? Let thy father’s voice
Be first to reach thy ear, as thou returnest
From gloomy shades of everlasting night!
(Who little by little has returned to consciousness and sits up.) Where am I? What has happen’d to me?
Oh, speak to me! Dost thou not know me?
Yes, ’tis thy father whom with these sweet tones
Thou savest from the arms of grim despair!
Who brought me here among these trees?
(To whom the surgeon has handed a white handkerchief.) Be calm,
My daughter! Take this strengthening draught,
Take it with confidence, with quiet soul.
(Takes the handkerchief from her father as he holds it in his hands, and buries her face in it; then suddenly gets to her feet, taking the handkerchief from her face.)
There! I’m myself again! Now I remember!
On yonder height I rein’d my horse and dar’d
Ride down, sheer down the rocky side. Forgive me—
I stumbled, did I not? Canst thou forgive me?
They took me up for dead? My darling father!
And canst thou ever love thy child again,
Who caus’d such bitter anguish to thy heart?
I thought I knew how precious was the treasure
God granted when he gave me thee, my daughter!
But now the loss I fear’d has caused my gain
To rise to estimation infinite.
(Who till now has remained in the background conversing with theSurgeonand theCount—to the others.)
Let all withdraw! I wish to speak with them.
King. Duke. Eugenie.
(Approaching.) And is the gallant huntress quite recover’d?
Has she escap’d unharm’d?
Yes! quite, my King!
And all the sad remains of fright and woe,
Thou, Sire, dispellest by thy gentle glance,
And by the magic of thy tender tones.
Pray tell me who the lovely maiden is.
(After a pause.) Since thou art pleas’d to ask, I will confess—
Since thou demandest, I will solve my pledge,
And introduce my daughter.
What! thy daughter?
Then, uncle, Fortune has been kinder to thee,
Yea, infinitely kinder than the law.
Am I indeed brought back to life again?
Has that strange deathlike faintness pass’d away?
And is this scene no fiction of a dream?
My father in the presence of his King
Declares his daughter! Nay! I do not dream.
The uncle of a monarch recognizes
That I’m his child. So then am I the niece—
The niece of the great King! Oh, pardon me,
Your Majesty, if brought so suddenly
From out the mystery of my dark retreat,
Expos’d to all the blinding light of day,
I totter, and cannot control myself.
[She throws herself at the feet of theKing.
May reverence mark thy life from youth to age.
The reverence symboliz’d before me now!
And sweet humility whose narrow duties
Thou, fully conscious of thy lofty birth,
Hast practis’d many a year far from the world.
[He raises her and presses her gently to his heart.
And now if from before my feet I lift thee
And take thee to my heart, if on thy brow
I print the fond kiss of paternal love,
Let this be also as a seal, a symbol:
Thee my relation do I recognize;
And soon what I have done in secret here,
Before my courtiers’ eyes will I repeat.
Such splendid grace demands a life of thanks,
Of undivided boundless loyalty.
From noble teachers many things I’ve learn’d,
And much instruction from my heart have gain’d,
Yet when it comes to speaking to my King
I find the preparation sadly lacking.
Yet if I cannot speak as I would wish,
Expressing all my duty, still thy presence
Forbids me awkwardly to stand in silence.
What could I give thee? What return devise?
The abundance ever flowing to thy hands,
For good of others streams away again.
Here thousands stand to give their lives for thine,
Here thousands work obedient to thy orders,
And if a single subject freely offers
His heart and soul, his arm and life for thee,
Among such numbers he is lost from sight,
Forgot by thee and by himself forgot.
If unto thee the masses seem o’erwhelming,
Thou lovely child, it is not strange indeed.
They are o’erwhelming, yet the noble few,
By Nature made to stand above the masses
Through skill and culture and the power to rule,
Are more imposing. If the King thereto
Was call’d by birth, then are his next of kin
Born counsellors, who, closely knit to him,
Are bound to guard the realm and foster it.
Oh, never let dissension mask’d come in,
With dark insidious working, to these regions
Where stand this band of patriotic watchmen.
To thee, my noble cousin, I give a father
By virtue of our royal power supreme.
Preserve him to me, use thy winsome ways
To keep my kinsman’s heart and voice in faith,
For many enemies oppose a prince;
Oh, let him stand aloof from treacherous paths.
Why dost thou pain my heart with such reproaches?
Incomprehensible are these thy words!
May fortune keep thee long from comprehending!
The portals of our royal house I open,
Inviting thee to enter. By the hand
I lead thee in o’er slippery marble pavements.
Thou art amaz’d; thyself and all thou seest
Are strange to thee. Thou thinkest here within
To find sure worth and perfect peace united—
Thou art deceiv’d! Thou comest at a time
Not mark’d by joyous bright festivities,
E’en though the King invite thee to partake
In welcoming the day that gave him birth.
Yet shall the day for thy sake have its joy;
There shall I see thee in the merry throng,
The cynosure of every wondering eye.
Right royally has Nature fashion’d thee;
And that thy jewels meet thy princely rank
Thy father and thy monarch will provide.
How could the sudden cry of pleas’d surprise,
The eager gesture’s quick significance,
Express the language of the beating heart,
Rejoic’d by such high generosity?
Sire, let me kneel in silence at thy feet!
[She offers to kneel.
Thou must not kneel!
Oh, let me here enjoy
The pleasant fortune of complete submission!
If we in tense and sudden moments stand
Erect upon our feet and boldly wage
To bear the earnest of our own support,
We seem the owners of the earth and heaven.
Yet what in moments of keen ravishment
Causes the knee to bend is also joy.
And all of sweet thanksgiving, love unmeasur’d,
Which we might bring as purest offering
To father, monarch, God. is best express’d
In such an humble attitude as this.
[Again kneeling before theKing.
Renew’d allegiance would I offer thee!
As ever-faithful vassals look upon us!
Up! then! arise and take thy place beside me,
Within the circle of those trusty few
Sworn to defend the right and reasonable!
Oh, fearful are the portents of these days.
The dregs boil up, the high-born sink below
As though each in the other’s place might find
Fulfilment of his unrestrain’d desires,
As though enjoyment only were in store
When class distinctions were all wash’d away,
And when we all commingl’d in one stream
Were hurl’d unnotic’d to the boundless ocean.
Oh, let us fight against it, let us boldly
With new-united double might hold fast
To what may hold us and the people fast.
And lastly let us heal the ancient strife
That stirs the great against the great, within
The ship of State makes weak the walls protecting
The battling crew against the angry waves without.
What clear beneficent rays enlighten me
And stir to deeds instead of blinding me!
What! does our King so highly honor us
That he confesses that he needs our aid?
We are not only kinsfolk to him, we
Are rais’d to loftiest station by his trust.
And if the nobles of his kingdom press
Around him to protect his royal breast,
Of us he asks a nobler service yet.
The highest duty of the well dispos’d
Is ever to uphold the monarch’s heart.
For if he flinch, then flinches all the State,
And if he fall, then all things fall with him.
Youth, people say, has too much confidence
In its own strength, and in its will to do,
Yet all this will, this strength, and their endeavor
Is dedicate to thee, O King, forever.
The child’s assurance, Highness, thou wilt honor,
And thou wilt pardon for its kind intent.
And if her father, taught by many years,
Appreciates and treasures the full worth
Of this day’s gift and of the future promise,
Then art thou sure of his recognizance.
’Twill not be long before we meet again.
Upon my birthday when my faithful friends
Unite to celebrate the festal season,
That day, O noble maid, I will present thee
Before the wondering world, the court, thy father,
Myself. The glory of the throne will shield thee.
But till that hour let both of you keep counsel,
Let no one know the history of this day.
Distrustful jealousy is lurking round.
Wave follows wave; storm treads the heel of storm.
Our journey trends along the jagged shore
Where e’en the helmsman scarcely knows the course.
Close secrecy alone secures our acts.
A plan disclos’d has pass’d beyond thy power.
This very moment chance makes sport of will.
E’en he who can command must work in secret.
Yea! with the best will in the world we fail
Accomplishment, a thousand crossing ours.
Oh, if my honest wishes had the aid
Of perfect power for but a little time,
The meanest hearthstone in my kingdom’s bounds
Should feel a father’s warm solicitude,
Content should dwell beneath the humblest roof,
Content should dwell in ev’ry stately palace,
And when I once had tasted this delight,
I’d gladly yield my crown, renounce the world.
Oh, what a day of jubilant surprises!
Oh, might I live from day to day like this!
What wealth of fortune has the King bestow’d!
Take pure delight in his unlook’d-for favor.
He seems unhappy, and he is so good.
Goodness itself oft rouses opposition.
Who is so hateful as to set against him?
The advantage of the whole needs strenuous vigor.
The mildness of the King should breed like mildness.
The mildness of the King breeds insolence.
With what nobility has Nature form’d him!
Yet far too high in station has she plac’d him.
With what consummate virtues rich endow’d!
Domestic virtues not the gift of ruling.
The blossom of an ancient stock of heroes!
Perchance the vigor fails in later scions.
It is our duty to defend all weakness.
Unless our greater strength he should suspect.
(Aside.) His subtile reasoning fills me with suspicion.
What are thy thoughts? Hide not thy heart from me!
(After a pause.) Thou art then one of those whom he distrusts.
Let him distrust those worthy of distrust.
Shall we see secret foes invest his throne?
He who conceals a danger is a foe.
But whither do our counsels lead us, daughter?
How has the most extraordinary fortune
Brought us, short cut, upon the goal desir’d.
I build without foundation, filling thy mind
With wild confusion when I should enlighten.
Yet must thy rapturous joy of childhood vanish
When once thou steppest foot within the world.
Not long the intoxicating sweets of peace
Could’st thou delight in mid its blinding scenes.
The goal is thine, but its false crown has torn
Thy tender hand with cruel hidden spines.
Beloved child, I would it were not so!
Far better were it, as I fondly hop’d,
To wont thee by degrees to all its trials,
To teach thee by degrees the bitter lesson
That dearest hopes must fade, fond wishes fail.
But now a sudden change has come upon thee!
As though thy fall from yonder crag were symbol,
Down thou hast plung’d where cares and danger dwell.
The very air is poison’d with suspicion,
And Envy keeps the feverish blood astir,
And gives its victims to Anxiety.
Alas! for aye the wall of Paradise,
Which safely held thee, has been torn away.
The holy lesson of thy innocence
No longer shields me from the world’s temptations.
Forth must thou with me till the net surround us—
Perplex’d, sore wounded, needing pity, both!
Not so, my father! If until to-day
Inactive, kept aloof, immur’d alone,
A childish cypher, yet by very force
Of lacking individuality
I caus’d thee consolation, comfort, pleasure,
How vastly more then should thy daughter be
Now that her fate is woven into thine,
And all its threads in varied glory shine!
Part will I take in ev’ry noble deed,
In ev’ry great transaction which will bring
My father dearer to the State and King.
My eager mind, the force of youth and health
Inspiring me, will give thee freshen’d zeal,
Will drive away those visions of despair
Which rise when on the laboring breast of man
The monstrous burden of the world is laid.
If once, a child, in moments of depression
I offer’d thee good-will however helpless,
Love poor in deeds, and idle fond caresses,
So now I hope to win a daughter’s birthright
By faithful service, having learn’d thy wishes,
Initiated in the secrets of thy plans.
What thou through this important step wilt lose
Seems worthless to thee and without reward.
What thou expectest thou dost prize too high.
To share with highly-gifted, fortunate men
The use of power, the wealth of influence!
For generous souls what more attractive prize!
’Tis true! Forgive me if thou findest me
At this hour weaker than becomes a man.
Most wonderful is this exchange of duties,
I ought to lead thee and thou art my leader.
Well, then, my father, let us boldly climb
Up to those regions where before my ken
A new sun rises with enkindling rays.
And at this happy moment only smile,
If I disclose to thee in turn the cares
That burden me.
Yea, tell me what they are.
A host of weighty moments fill men’s lives,
Besieging now with joy and now with sorrow
Their hearts. The man may in such circumstances
Forget his outward show before the world;
Not so the woman; she desires to shine
By fair appropriate habit and adornment,—
An envied object in the eyes of others.
This have I often heard and often notic’d.
And now the crowning moment of my life
Has come, and I am willing to confess
That I am guilty of this woman’s weakness.
What canst thou wish for that will not be thine?
Thou art inclin’d, I know, to grant me all.
And yet the all-important day is nigh—
Too nigh to make the fitting preparation.
And all the silks, embroideries and laces,
And all the jewelry needful for adornment,
How can they be provided, how completed?
A long-desir’d good fortune has surpris’d us,
Yet not quite unprepar’d may we receive it;
All that thou now desirest is at hand.
This very day gifts that thou didst not dream of
Lie waiting for thee in a worthy coffer.
But one slight trial must I put upon thee—
The foretaste of severer ones to come!
Here is the key; take watchful care of it,
And curb thy longing. Open not the box
Which holds this treasure till I give thee leave.
Share trust with no one, be it who it may.
Wisdom advises and the King demands it.
Thou layest a heavy burden on a maiden,
Yet I will bear it, father, take my oath.
My wild unworthy son is on the watch
To spy the quiet paths where thou art led.
The little portion of my substance treasur’d
For thy protection he already covets.
And if he knew that thou by royal favor
Wert lifted to a higher station where
Thy right and his were on an equal level,
How he would rage! And would he not exert
All spiteful wiles to block our pleasant plan?
Then let us quietly await that day!
And when the deed is done that justifies me
In calling him my brother, be it mine,
By gentle words, by courteous behavior,
To win him back to reverence and affection.
He is thy son, and should he not, like thee,
Be fashion’d in the mould of love and reason?
No miracle would be too great for thee.
But work them for the advantage of my house.
And now farewell! Yet now—alas! in parting
I feel once more the pangs of cruel fear.
Here in my arms I held thee lying dead!
And here Despair with tiger clutches tore me.
Who will dispel the vision from my eyes?
I saw thee dead! Thus wilt thou oft appear
Before me in the watches of the night,
In visions of the day. Away from thee
Have I not ever been distraught by fear?
No longer will it be the mind’s distemper;
It is a real irradicable vision:
My child, Eugenie, of my life the life,
Wan, prostrate, breathless, lifeless there.
Oh, call not back what thou should’st now forget.
My fall and my escape should rather seem
The earnest of my wonderful good fortune.
Living, thou seest me before thy eyes.
And living, on thy heart thou feelest me.
So let me ever, ever thus return!
And with the touch of glowing, loving life
Blot out the loathsome sight of hated Death.
How can a child appreciate the pangs
A father feels at thought of threaten’d loss?
I will confess that oftentimes thy courage,
Almost o’erweening, when, upon the steed
Seeming a part of thee, and full of fire,
More like a Centaur with its doubled vigor,
Thou hast o’er vale and mountain boldly dash’d,
Through stream and gully flashing like a bird,
Has fill’d my heart with greater fear than joy.
Henceforth I pray thy gallant course conform
More moderately to knighthood’s joyous practice.
Before the careless, Danger yields the palm;
She often takes the careful by surprise.
Oh, feel once more that limitless keen joy
Which thou didst feel when, as a little child,
I boldly waged to do the deeds of prowess
Taught by thy knightly pride of fatherhood.
My fault has found me out, and now a life
Of ceaseless worriment must punish me.
Does not the courting of the dangerous
Invite the danger that it holds in store?
’Tis Luck not Carefulness that conquers danger.
Farewell, my father; follow now thy King,
And be, if only for thy daughter’s sake,
His blameless vassal and his faithful friend.
Oh, do not go! Remain with me,
Yet standing in this place alive, erect,
As when thou cam’st to life again, rejoicing
With healing balm my sadly riven heart.
Let not this hour of bliss remain unfruitful.
This spot I dedicate to be a lasting
Memorial. Here shall rise a splendid temple
To keep the record of thy fortunate healing.
Thy hand shall here create a fairy kingdom.
A labyrinth of gentle ways shall join
The savage forest and the bristling jungle;
The steep crag shall become accessible;
This brook shall fall in musical cascades,
And loiter with its sparkling waters pure.
The stranger wandering through this novel scene
Shall deem that he has found a Paradise.
Here, while I live, no gun shall loudly echo,
No bird shall miss her mate, no antler’d stag
Fly frighten’d, wounded, shatter’d, from his haunt.
And hither, when my eyes have lost their sight,
My limbs their strength, with thee, my child, for guide,
My steps will gladly turn in pilgrimage.
Ever shall gratitude my bosom fill.
And now farewell! But stay. Why dost thou weep?
Oh, if my father tremblingly forebodes
The losing of his daughter, how shall I
Not likewise feel (how can I say it, think it?)
The pain of separation which must come?
Fathers bereav’d might draw an angel’s pity;
But sadder is the lot of children orphan’d.
And I, most miserable, should stand alone
Within the desert of this wild, fierce world!
How could I bear to lose my sole protector?
As thou hast given me strength, I now return it.
Take comfort! let us boldly onward press.
Life is the pledge of life! Upon itself
It builds and for itself alone must answer.
So let us quickly make our last adieu,
And may a joyous meeting recompense
The sorrow and the weakness of this parting!
[They hastily embrace and separate: from a distance they turn and wave a last greeting with outstretched hand and exit.
Eugenie’sapartment in Gothic style.
Do I deserve that thou should’st flee me thus
The moment that I bring thee wish’d-for tidings?
Pray listen first to what I have to say.
The burden of thy importunity
Too well I ween. Oh, let my eyes from seeing
The well-known glances, let my ears from hearing
The well-known accents ever turn away.
Let me escape the devastating power
Which through the influence of love and friendship
Beside me like a gloomy spectre stands.
When I before thee suddenly would pour,
After long hope deferr’d, the golden horn
Of fortune, when the morning-glow begins
That marks the dawning of the blissful day
That shall unite our lives forevermore,
Then seemest thou embarrass’d and reluctant
To meet thy bridegroom’s tenderest advances.
Therein thou showest me one side alone:
It glows and glistens like the world in sunshine.
But black night’s horror threatens nigh: I feel it.
Then let us first see but the lovely side.
Desirest thou a dwelling in the city,
Spacious and handsome, furnish’d splendidly,
Such as one wishes for himself, for guests?
’Tis waiting for thee: when next winter comes
’Twill find thee settl’d nobly, if thou wilt.
In Springtime dost thou yearn to see the country,
There too a house is ours, a lovely garden,
A fertile field. And all the keen enjoyment
In forest, moors, in meadows, brooks and ponds
That fancy e’en in visions might imagine
Shall we possess, in part our own estate,
In part as common property. And thus,
Since nothing goes for rent, by careful saving
We shall be able to secure our future.
The picture that thou paintest with such hues
Before my eyes is wrapp’d in gloomy clouds.
For not desirable but hideous seems
The abundance offer’d by the worldly gods.
What is the sacrifice they ask? To ruin
My gentle pupil’s happiness and fortune!
And whatsoe’er a crime like that might bring me,
Could I enjoy it with a quiet mind?
Eugenie! thou whose pure and gentle nature
From earliest youth entrusted to my guidance
With rich fruition has develop’d nobly.
How can I now distinguish in thee what
Is thine and what thou hast to thank me for?
Thee whom I love as my own handiwork
Must I then pluck out from my heart and ruin?
Of what base stuff are ye compos’d, ye monsters,
To dare demand a deed like this for lucre!
A good and honest heart preserves from youth
A store of precious treasures which in time
More costly grow and worthier of our love
To serve withal the Godhead of the temple.
Yet, when the mighty power that governs us
Demands a costly sacrifice, we yield it
At last although our hearts bleed at the duty.
Two worlds there be, my darling, which, conflicting
With awful violence, crush us between them.
Thy steps appear to wander in a world
To me entirely foreign, since thou schemest
A treacherous stroke against thy noble patron,
The Duke, preparing days of sorrow for him
By holding to his son. If the Almighty
Appears at times to give assent to crime
We call it accident. But man who chooses
With due reflection such unlawful paths,
He is a puzzle. But—and am not I
A puzzle to myself that I should cling
With such affection to thee when thou strivest
To drag me with thee o’er the precipice?
Oh, why did Nature cast thee in her mould,
So pleasing, lovely, irresistible,
And plant within thy bosom a cold heart,
A heart destructive of the peace of others?
Dost thou distrust the warmth of my affection?
This hand should slay me if I only dar’d.
Oh, why, alas! with this detested plot
Again assault my heart? Didst thou not swear
To hide the horror in everlasting night?
Alas! it rose with more impellent might!
This step is forc’d upon the Prince’s son.
An insignificant, inoffensive child
Eugenie was, for many peaceful years.
Commencing with her very earliest days,
Shrin’d in this ancient hall thou wert her guardian,
Few came to see her, and those secretly.
Yet how a father’s love deceiv’d itself.
The Duke, proud of his daughter’s excellence,
Relax’d his care and by degrees allow’d her
To show herself in public openly:
On horseback, driving, she is seen. All ask,
And all at last know, who the maiden is.
Her mother now is dead. The haughty dame,
To whom the child was an abomination,
A keen reminder of her fatal passion,
Had never recogniz’d her, scarcely seen her.
By her decease the Duke at last feels freed,
Devises secret plans, once more attends
At court, forgets the ancient grudge he owed
And seeks the King in reconciliation,
Demanding only that he grant this child
Her birthright as a princess of his race.
And do you then begrudge this lovely creature
The joy of feeling that the right was hers?
Belov’d! dearest! ah, thou speakest lightly,
Thus wall’d and separated from the world,
In cloister-wise, of riches of the earth!
Turn hence thine eyes! A treasure such as this
Is valu’d there more truly at its worth.
The father grudges it his son, the son
Reckons his father’s years, and deadly discord
Parts brothers, through this right intangible.
And e’en the priest forgets his sacred goal
And strives for riches. Is it then surprising
That, when the Prince has always call’d himself
The only child, he should decline to welcome
This sister who with insolent intrusion
Diminishes his fair inheritance?
What, if in his place, would’st thou do thyself?
Already is he not a wealthy Prince?
And at his father’s death will he not be
Superfluously rich? If he should spend
A part of his possessions would he waste them
In winning by them such a lovely sister?
To act with arbitrary will delights
The man of fortune. Nature’s claims he scorns;
He scorns the authority of law and reason,
And spends his substance on the throw of chance.
Merely to have sufficient is to starve.
Give all or nothing. Measureless possessions
For endless squandering are what he wishes.
Advice is not desir’d; think not to turn us.
If thou wilt not work with us, give us up.
What is the deed ye plan? Long ye have threaten’d,
Holding aloof, to blast the lovely child.
What have ye now in monstrous crime devis’d
To spoil her chance of fortune. Do ye ask
That I should blindly cling to what ye plan?
By no means. Thou shalt be initiated.
The first step lies with thee. Our scheme demands
That thou abduct Eugenie. She must vanish
So utterly from knowledge of the world
That we can confidently mourn her death.
The secret of her fate must be conceal’d
Forever, like the secret of the dead.
Ye doom her to a living grave, O villains,
And think to send me with her as companion.
Me too ye doom. I am with her to share—
I the betrayer chain’d to the betray’d—
The awful fate of death, a living death!
Thou shalt return when thou hast done the deed.
Is it a cloister where her days will end?
Not in a cloister! Such a costly pledge
We could not give the clergy, who might use it
Against us as a most convenient tool.
Then is it to the Islands? Tell me plainly!
Thy destination shall be known. Be patient!
How can I be before the fear and danger
That threat my lov’d one’s happiness and mine?
Thy lov’d one in her new life joy will find.
And joy and rapture will await thee here.
Oh, flatter not yourselves with such a hope!
What good is there in holding such temptations
Before me—forcing me, enticing me?
The noble child herself will block your scheme.
Think not to drag her off a willing victim
And helpless. Nay, the spirit that fills her heart
With courage, and the power inherited,
Will go with her where’er she goes, and break
The evil net which you have cast around her.
Thy part will be to make the meshes strong.
Wilt thou persuade me that a simple child,
Till now protected by the arm of Fortune,
Will show, when unexpected chance arises,
Forethought and power, sagacity and wisdom?
Her mind is cultur’d but to think, not act.
And if her thoughts are right, her speech delightful,
Yet much is lacking in her will to do.
The lofty boundless courage of ignorance
Sinks easily to cowardice and despair
When stern Necessity presents itself.
What we have plann’d see that thou carry out.
Small will the harm be, splendid the reward.
Then give me time to ponder and decide.
The moment for the action is at hand.
The Duke knows well that the next holiday
The King will grant the favor long desired,
And recognize his daughter’s princely birth.
For clothes and costly jewels are provided
Already, laid in splendid cabinets,
The keys of which he guards with jealous care,
And thinks he keeps a perfect mystery.
But we are in his secret and prepar’d.
What we have schem’d must quickly now be done.
This evening thou’lt hear more. Till then farewell.
On dubious paths ye work, on mischief bent,
And think ye see a profit in your plans.
Has no suspicion ever cross’d your mind
That over guilt and innocence there hovers
A Being from whose essence streams avenging
A light divine that rescues the oppress’d?
Who dares gainsay the ruling Providence
That shapes conformably to his own will
The outcome of our deeds whate’er they be?
Yet who presumes to make himself an arbiter
In God’s high councils? Who can know
The rule and law by which his fiat works?
We have our reason, and in stature grown
We walk erect upon the face of earth,
And our advantage is our highest right.
Thus are ye traitors to the godlike
If ye despise the dictates of the heart!
It calls me boldly to ward off the danger
That hangs with horrid threat’ning o’er my darling;
It bids me arm myself against my lover,
Against the base designs that strong men harbor!
No glittering promise and no threats shall force me
To leave my rightful place beside my pupil:
Thus do I stand devoted to protect her.
Ah! sweetest, thou alone canst give her safety,
And thou alone the danger canst avert
And at the selfsame time assist our plan.
Lay hold upon her swiftly; take the maiden
As far as possible away, conceal her
That no one know her habitation! Else—
(Thou tremblest—for thou knowest well
The words upon my lips!) Since thou hast forc’d me
Let the alternative at last be said:—
Removal with her is the mildest measure—
If thou refusest to co-operate,
If thou art minded secretly to check us,
And if thou darest, out of friendly purpose,
To drop the slightest hint of what I tell thee,
Then dead she lies upon thy bosom! What
Would fill my heart with sorrow must be done!
His angry threat brings no surprise for me!
’Tis long that I have seen this smouldering fire,
And now it bursts in flames of fury out.
If I would save thee, must I, darling child,
Dispel the lovely dream that beckons thee?
One hope alone diminishes my sorrow—
It vanishes before I fairly hold it.
Eugenie! if thou only could’st renounce
The splendid fortune, which appears so boundless,
Before thy footsteps cross the fatal threshold
Where danger, death, or banishment awaits thee!
Oh, if I only dared enlighten thee,
Dared point the secret hiding-place where lurk
The evil conclave of thy persecutors!
Ah, I must keep dark counsel! Only hints
Can shrive my soul before thee! In the tumult
Of eager pleasure wilt thou understand?
Welcome a thousand times, friend of my heart,
Who showest a mother’s fondness for me, welcome!
With joy, dear child, I press thee to my bosom,
And share the rapture which thy buoyant life
So richly yields thee. How thy dear eyes sparkle!
O’er cheek and brow what lovely color mantles.
What joyous fortune swells thy youthful breast?
A great misfortune has befallen me:
The horse fell headlong from the crag with me.
Be calm! thou seest me again
Unharm’d and fortunate, though great the fall!
How was it? Tell me!
Thou shalt hear how fortune
Resulted splendidly from my disaster.
Alas! from fortune often pain develops.
Let words of evil import not be spoken,
And fright me not with evil thoughts of sorrow!
Ah, would that thou could’st trust me absolutely!
Above all others thee! Yet leave me now,
Beloved, to myself! I wish, alone,
To wont myself to feelings new and strange.
Thou knowest what delight my father takes
Whene’er a little poem comes to greet him
Not look’d for, as the favor of the Muses
Grants power to give expression to my thoughts.
So leave me! Even now the inspiration
Is on me; I must seize it ere it fail me.
When shall we hold again the precious hours
Of sweet discourse and gentle confidences?
When shall we once again like happy maidens,
Who tireless show each other their adornments,
Unlock the secret chambers of our hearts,
Comparing all our changeable possessions?
Those pleasant moments will return again
Whose peaceful joys one gladly recollects,
Sharing with confidence our confidences.
Yet leave me in full loneliness to-day
To find the need of trustful days like those.
(Getting out a portfolio.)
Now quick to work with parchment and with pen!
’Tis wholly mine and soon it shall be written;
The tribute flowing from my thankful heart,
Which to the King, upon that festal day
When, new-born by his all-compelling word,
I enter life, shall now be dedicated.
[She copies out what she slowly recites.
With what a wondrous prospect am I greeted!
Canst thou, O master of the realm elysian,
Forgive the novice for her indecision?
Blinded by Majesty I sink defeated!
Yet soon encourag’d by the judgment meted,
I lift to thee my eyes in raptur’d vision,
Confess’d thy kin, receiv’d without derision,
And all my young hopes are at last completed!
Thus let the boundless spring of grace flow ever!
Here will my faithful heart, ecstatic, tarry,
Sway’d by the majesty of love’s emotion.
My all hangs by a thread a touch might sever!
Methinks the life thou gavest I should carry
And lay before thy throne in sweet devotion.
[Contemplating her writing with satisfaction.
Long has it been, O agitated heart,
Since thou hast spoken in the words of verse.
How happy are we when our inmost feelings
Can take the impress of infinity!
Yet is it quite enough? Here streams it forth,
Here streams it up! Great day, thou drawest nigh,
Which gives the King to us and which shall give
For measureless delight me to the King,
Me to my father, me unto myself.
May this high festival exalt my song!
The wings of Fancy are already spread.
It bears me up before the throne, presents me,
And gives me to the circle rare—
Hark! What is that?
’Tis I! Open the door!
Vexatious interruption! I am busy.
Word from thy father!
What! my father? Hold!
Then I will open!
Yes, thy father sends
Great gifts to thee
Dost thou hear?
One moment! Where shall I conceal this paper?
Too clearly it betrays the hopes I feel.
No nook affords concealment! and with me
There is no safety even in my desk.
For treacherous and faithless are my servants.
When I have slept my papers have been rummag’d,
And many of my treasures have been stolen.
This mystery, the greatest of my life,
Where, where shall I bestow it?
[She approaches the wall.
Ah, yes! here,
Where thou, in days past, wainscot cabinet,
Didst hide the innocent secrets of my childhood!
Discover’d by my restless energy,
Investigating, born of idleness
And childish natural curiosity,
Thou, known to no one save myself, springest open!
[She presses on an invisible spring and a little door flies open.
Thus as I once conceal’d forbidden sweets
For sly enjoyment in thy secret chamber,
So now, transported, timid, I entrust thee
A little space with my life’s happiness.
[She lays the parchment in the cupboard and closes it.
The days press on and full of expectation
Bring joy and sadness with them in their train.
[She opens the door.
Eugenie. Governess. Servantsbringing a magnificent dressing-case.
If I disturb thee, still I bring with me
What in thy eyes should give me absolution.
This from my father! This resplendent gift!
What content does a shrine like that portend?
Ho! tarry yet a moment!
[She hands them a purse.
Take this trifle
As foretaste of reward for service! richer follows!
No letter and no key! ’Tis passing strange!
Must such a treasure wait me unexplor’d?
O curiosity! O eager longing!
Suspectest thou what mean these gifts to me?
I doubt not thou thyself hast solv’d the riddle.
It signifies a coming elevation.
The finery of a princess is allow’d thee
Because the King will soon declare thy rank.
What makes thee think so?
Oh, I know it well!
The secrets of the great are never kept.
Well, if thou knowest, why should I dissemble?
Shall I restrain before thee without reason
My curiosity to see this gift? The key
Is here! I know my father did forbid it.
Yet what did he forbid? To tell the secret
Before the time. Yet thou already knowest
The weighty news: what more is there to tell
Than thou hast heard, and through thy love for me
Hast kept in guard beneath the seal of silence?
Why then delay? Come, let us open! come!
So that the glory of the gifts may charm us!
Nay! touch it not! Remember his forbiddance.
Who knows the reason of the Duke’s command?
He had a purpose for his prohibition,
That purpose now is render’d nugatory;
Thou knowest all. Thou lovest me, thou art
A faithful friend that can preserve a secret.
So let us push the bolt and close the chamber,
And let us quick together solve the mystery.
[She shuts the chamber door and runs to the casket.
(Restraining her.) The gold, the colors of the splendid fabrics,
The soft light of the pearls, the gleam of jewels,
Ah! let them all remain unseen! They tempt thee
Beyond control to seek the fatal goal!
Not they, but what they signify, attract me.
[She opens the box; mirrors adorn the cover.
What costly raiment, lying folded there
E’en as I touch it, shows before my eyes!
And do these mirrors not make swift demand
To image forth the maiden in her jewels?
Medea’s fiery garment seems to me
To lie unfolded in my nerveless hand!
What Melancholy weaves its mist around thee?
Think rather of delightful bridal feasts!
Come! reach the treasures to me one by one!
That underdress! how richly, sweetly gleam
The silver gauze, the sparkle of its hues.
(Throwing the garment overEugenie’sshoulders.) If e’er the rays of Favor’s sun should darken,
The cause would be such glory’s bright reflection.
A faithful heart deserves the rays of favor,
And if they fail it draws them back again.—
Now bring the gold-embroider’d overskirt,
And spread the train with all its wealth of lace.
The brilliancy of flowers has ting’d the gold
Spread in metallic hues with tasteful choice.
Am I not beautiful in this array?
Yet beauty unadorn’d is honor’d more
For its own splendor by the truly wise.
The truly wise may treasure simple beauty,
But most prefer the beauty that’s adorn’d.—
Now bring the tender twilight of the pearls,
The flashing glory of the splendid jewels.
Yet not the appearance but the genuine worth
Can satisfy the cravings of thy heart!
What is appearance having naught of substance,
And what would substance be without appearance?
And hast thou not enjoy’d within these walls
The long untroubled days of sunny youth,
Nor felt the secret bliss of holy rapture
When cradled with the hearts of those that love thee?
The tender bud rejoices in its calyx
So long as Winter’s frost besieges it;
But now the breath of Spring inspires its life,
It bursts in blossoms, full of light and fragrance!
But moderation gives a joy serene!
Provided that a moderate aim is set.
He who enjoys submits to limitations.
Thy arguments persuade me not, thus rob’d.
Oh, would that this apartment might expand
Until it reach’d the glory of the King’s.
That splendid carpets deck’d the polish’d floors,
That golden groins might overarch the vault!
And thus before the throne of royalty
With humble pride, among the haughty nobles
Reflecting back the smiling beams of grace,
I ’mid the circle of distinguish’d ones
Should stand the most distinguish’d at the pageant.
Oh, let me have the foretaste of this joy
When all the world shall wonder at my fortune.
Thou’lt be an object not of wonder only:
Envy will mark thee, hate will seek thy ruin.
Success must ever raise the coils of envy.
We learn to keep our guard when haters prowl.
Humiliation oft surprises pride.
Presence of mind will guard against surprise!
[Turning to the dressing-case.
Not yet have we examin’d everything.
For self alone I do not ask this fortune;
With others would I all my treasures share.
(Taking out a jewel box.)
Here written on this box the words: “For Gifts.”
Then pray select the things that please thee most.
Among these watches, boxes, take thy choice.
Yet hold! Be wary! Who can tell? Perchance
Yet costlier things lie hid within the case!
Would that a powerful talisman were here
To win thy cruel brother’s love to thee!
The pure affections of the ingenuous heart
May gradually soften his ill will.
Yet those who strive to make more black his grudge
Are pledg’d forever to oppose thy wishes.
If they till now have sought to block my fortune,
Yet since the grand decision has been made
They will each one conform without a murmur.
That which thou hopest is not yet accomplish’d.
Yet ’tis so safe that I can call it done.
[Returning to the case again.
See what is lying in that long flat box!
(Uncovering it.) The loveliest ribbons, fresh and newly chosen!
Ah, let not curious contemplation ruin
With dissipating tendency thy mind.
Oh, would it might be, that my earnest warning
Should make a moment’s impress on thy mind.
From the still circle thou wilt soon emerge
On wider fields where anxious cares will harass,
Where dangerous snares, where Death itself, perchance,
From murderous hands of enemies await thee.
Thou art unwell! How can my sure success
Appear to thee as frightful as a spectre?
[Gazing into the box.
What do I see? This roll! ’tis verily
The ribbon of the noblest princely order!
This also I must wear then! Come! make haste!
I wish to see its whole effect! ’Tis part
Of this superb array. It must be tried!
[The order is attached.
Now prate to me of death! now prate of danger!
What nobler grace than when a man can stand
In all the bravery of heroic garb
Amid his peers in presence of his King?
What gives more satisfaction to the eye
Than robes that tell of splendid lines of knights?
This raiment and its colors are they not
A symbol of the danger ever near?
The sash, significant of war, wherewith
A man with dauntless courage girds himself?
My friend, my love! Whatever ornament
Is emblematical of peril, that
Must, of necessity, be dangerous!
So give me then the sentiment of courage
To meet the dangers menacing my path,
Array’d, as now, in splendid princely garb.
Henceforth, irrevocable is my fortune.
(Aside.) The fate that calls thee is irrevocable.
The Antechamber of the Duke,furnished in magnificent modern style.
Secretary. Secular Priest.
Tread silently into this deathly silence!
The palace is as quiet as the tomb.
The Duke is sleeping, and the servants all,
Touch’d by his grief, are bent in sympathy.
He sleeps! I bless’d him as I saw him lie
Wrapp’d in unconsciousness upon his pillow
Peacefully breathing. The excess of woe
Has yielded to the healing balm of Nature.
The moment that shall wake him, that I fear—
A man of grief before you will appear!
I am prepar’d to see him, doubt it not.
An hour or two ago the tidings came
That fair Eugenie had been thrown and kill’d.
You must confirm it: say that she was brought
Unto your chapel as the nearest place
That they could take her from the treacherous ground,
Where, boldly courting death, she forc’d her steed.
And in the meantime she is far away?
With breathless haste the speeding coursers fly.
To whom entrust you such a weighty task?
The prudent goodwife who is wholly ours.
To what far region have you sent the maid?
The port that lies most distant in this realm.
And will a foreign shore receive her next?
The favoring wind will bear her quickly hence.
And will they here forever think her dead?
The purport of thy fiction shall decide.
And so this error from the very first
Will sway the fortune of all coming time.
Her very grave is feign’d, and for her body
A mask shall cheat the eye. Her lovely image
Shall shatter in a thousand pieces. Horror
Shall sear my wretched hearer’s loving heart,
As though with fire, because of this misfortune.
All think her dead, she disappears forever
Within the ashes, gray, of nothingness.
Then each of us will quickly turn to life,
And in the tumult of the busy world
Forget that she too, though so far away,
Still breathes the air of life among the living.
Dost thou with utter boldness face the deed?
Will not remorse remain with bitter sting?
Thou askest such a question? We are firm.
An inward dissatisfaction oftentimes
Against our will accompanies an action.
What do I hear? art thou become repentant,
Or wilt thou only test me if I be
A worthy pupil in the arts thou teachest?
Never sufficiently do men reflect!
They should reflect before the deed’s begun.
’Tis not too late before the deed is done.
For me the door of forethought is shut fast.
The time for that was when I still delay’d
Within the Paradise of simple joys:
When, bounded by the garden’s cosy hedge,
I grafted trees that I myself had planted,
And fed my table from the narrow beds,
When still contentment in the little house
Supplied a sense of having wealth unbounded,
And when, according to my light, I spoke
Unto the congregation from my heart,
A friend with friends, a father with his children,
And gave my hand to aid the worthy man,
And stopp’d the bad man and the sin he did.
Oh, would that some beneficent spirit had then
Turn’d from my door thy hesitating steps,
Whereto thou, weary, thirsty from the chase,
Didst come to knock and with thy flattering ways,
Thy wily words, didst lay a spell upon me!
That beauteous day on which our friendship hung
Peace spread her wings and fled forever from me!
We brought thee many pleasures, did we not?
And many anxious wants which weight me down.
I felt my poverty to see the rich.
Anxiety oppress’d me, for I lack’d;
And in my need I ask’d for help from others.
You brought me aid: dearly I pay for it.
You took me as the comrade of your fortune.
You took me as the complice of your deeds—
Nay, rather should I say the slave, for such
You made the once free now abandon’d man.
You gave him pay forsooth, but yet denied
The sole reward which he had dared to ask.
Have faith that we shall load thee down ere long
With honors, benefices and estates.
But those are not the things that I expect.
And now what new demand hast thou conceiv’d?
You use me as a tool devoid of feelings
Thus once again. This noble child ye thrust
Forth from the living circle of her friends.
’Tis I must palliate, must hide the deed,
Yet you determine and I have no voice.
Henceforth I ask to join your secret conclave
Where frightful deeds are plann’d, where every man
Proud of his strength and genius bends the course
Of monstrous actions unavoidable.
That thou so closely art with us allied
Gives thee a new and potent claim upon us.
With weighty secrets shalt thou soon be trusted.
And so be patient and control thyself.
I am, and far more patient than you think.
Long since I saw the purport of your plans.
He only merits secret consecration
Who through presentiment anticipates.
What dost thou guess? What dost thou know?
Be spared until we meet at midnight’s hour.
Alas! this maiden’s melancholy fate
Has vanish’d like a brook in ocean’s tide,
When I consider how ye lift yourselves
In secret in a mighty party schism,
And hope, by treacherous wiles, to oust the King,
And foist yourselves as rulers on the land.
Not you alone, for others also strive
In rivalry with you to reach your goal.
And so ye undermine the throne and State.
Who shall be rescued from the impending fate?
Hush! Some one comes! Hide in this secret closet.
When it is time I’ll summon thee to enter.
O baleful light! thou call’st me back to life,
Thou bringest me to knowledge of the world
And of myself again. How barren, bare and hollow
Lies all before me now, and burn’d to ashes!
A heap of ruins is my happiness!
If each and every of thy faithful friends
Who suffer with thee at this hour could bear
A portion of thy sorrows, how would’st thou
Not feel thyself renew’d in strength and courage!
The wound to love like love itself remains
Incurable, unending! Now I know
The terrible disaster which befalls
The man who misses his accustom’d weal.
Oh, why did you allow these well-known walls
To shine upon me with their bravery
Of gold and color, calling back the days—
The yesterdays—of my complete delight
With chilling sense of loss? Why did you not
Envelop halls and chambers with black crape,
So that the everlasting shades of night,
Without me as within, might cast their gloom?
Oh, would that still thy many blessings might
In spite of loss seem something in thy sight!
A dream embodied, free from spirit bonds!
She was the living soul that fill’d this house.
Whene’er I wak’d how sweet before mine eyes
Hover’d the image of the lovely maiden!
Here oft I found a leaflet from her hand,
A soulful, heartfelt word for morning greeting!
How oft the wish to give her father joy
Express’d itself in fresh melodious verse!
The hope of seeing her alone reliev’d
The weary hours of slow laborious days!
And when delay and hindrance clogg’d the wheels,
With what impatience hast thou yearn’d for her,
As the rash lover yearns to see his mistress.
Make no compare between the fire of youth
Devouring selfishly the thing it clutches
And that ecstatic glow a father feels
Who, fill’d with contemplation rapt, rejoices
At all development of wondrous powers,
At all the giant strides in culture’s path.
The present is the pledge that love demands.
The future is the parent’s treasur’d boon.
There lie the spreading acres of his hopes,
And there the ripening harvest of his joys!
Alas! these boundless pleasures thou hast lost;
This ever blossoming hope is now destroy’d.
And have I lost it? But a moment since
Its perfect glory fill’d my joyful soul.
Alas! ’tis gone! Let your laments arise.
Let grief destroy this solid edifice
Which age too generous has preserv’d till now!
Accurs’d be all that’s left to me! accurs’d!
And all that shakes and totters now be welcome!
Boil up, ye floods, break o’er the dykes and change
The land to sea! Ye raging gulfs, o’erwhelm
In dire destruction ship and crew and treasure!
Spread out, ye war-compelling ranks, and drown
The fields with gore and every form of death!
Flash forth, ye lightning bolts, across the waste
And blast the haughty heads of solid towers,
Cast stone from stone, let flames arise and scourge
With horrid fury all the haunts of men,
That I, ring’d round by universal sorrow,
May bend before the Fate that hounds me!
This unexpected tragedy so monstrous
Weighs fearfully upon thee, noble Duke!
Most suddenly it came, not unforewarn’d!
A happy Fate brought her from realms of death,
And in my arms she came to life again.
I saw with hasty passing glance the horror
Which now confronts me with its frozen stare.
I should have punish’d then her recklessness,
Have set my face with sternest opposition
Against her daring, and have check’d the madness
Which blindly deem’d itself invulnerable,
Immortal, and which sent her from the cliff,
Through wood and stream and thicket like a bird.
How should such deeds made certain by success
Have given presentiment of coming woe?
The presage of these woes full well I felt
When I the last—when I the last time saw—
Yea! speak it out—the devastating word
That builds a hedge of darkness round thy way!
Oh, would that I had seen her once again!
Perchance, I might have warded off this blow!
I would have knelt before her, would have pray’d,
Have warn’d her, with a father’s faithful warning,
To spare herself and me, and for the sake Of future fortune to attempt no risk,
Of future fortune to attempt no risk,
Though tempted by the madness of the chase.
Alas! this hour was not vouchsaf’d to me!
And now I’ve lost my precious child forever.
She is no more! Her boldness only grew
From having easily escap’d that fall.
And no one there to warn her, none to guide!
The discipline of childhood was forgotten!
Whose hands did I entrust with such a treasure?
The hands compliant, pampering, of a woman!
No stringent word to bend my daughter’s will
In ways of temperate reasonableness!
With freedom uncontroll’d she let her roam
O’er every field that offer’d reckless daring.
I felt it oft and often half confess’d
That she was ill watch’d by her governess.
Oh, cast not blame upon that hapless creature!
In company with deathless grief she wanders,
God knows in what far land, now, unconsol’d!
She fled! for who could look thee in the face
If conscious that the least reproach were due?
Oh, let me wreak my wrath on blameless others
Lest in despair I tear myself in pieces!
For I myself must bear the blame, though heavy.
Did I not with my foolish fond beginnings
Tempt death and danger on my darling’s head?
It was my pride to see the maiden win
The mastery of every undertaking.
And now I pay the fearful price in full.
In carriage, in the saddle should she shine,
A heroine for guiding foaming steeds!
Or diving through the water did she seem
A goddess to command the elements.
And so she thought to conquer every danger.
Ah me! instead of giving preservation
The wont of danger now has brought her death!
The wont of duty’s grand behests has brought
Death to the ne’er-to-be-forgotten maiden!
And shall I wake thy pain
By telling of the childlike noble action?
Her aged, first and highly-honored friend
And teacher, from this city dwells remote,
In melancholy, pain, misanthropy.
’Twas she alone was able to console him.
Compassion put this on her as a duty;
But often when she wish’d to visit him
Her governess denied her. But she plann’d
To compass it. She boldly used the hours
Devoted to her morning ride to dash
With splendid wild impetuosity
And visit the aged, well-beloved man.
A single groom alone was in the secret.
This time he must have put the saddle on
As we suspect; for he cannot be found.
The wretched man and that unhappy woman
Both vanish’d from the world from fear of thee.
Fortunate both! who nothing have to fear,
Whose sorrow for their master’s vanish joy
Has lightly chang’d to mere anxiety.
I too have naught to fear, have naught to hope,
So let me hear the whole and spare me not
The least detail! My soul is iron wrought.
Duke. Secretary. Secular Priest.
Until this very moment, honor’d Prince,
Have I refrain’d from calling in a man
Who, also sad, appears before thee now.
He is the priest who from the hand of death
Receiv’d thy daughter, and when hope was none
Of saving her, with all a father’s care
Provided everything that love could do.
Duke. Secular Priest.
How earnestly, exalted Prince, have I
Cherish’d the wish to come before thy presence!
Now it is gratified, but at a moment
When thou and I with thee art bent with grief!
Unwelcome messenger, e’en so, be welcome!
Thou hast beheld her last, thy heart has felt
The pathos of her last long yearning look,
Her last word hast thou reverently heard.
Her last sigh hast thou met with kind response.
Oh, tell me, did she speak? What were her words?
Remember’d she her father? Dost thou bring me
A heartfelt “farewell” from her dying lips?
We bid the unwelcome messenger be welcome
So long as he is silent and our hearts
Hold room for hope, for doubting still hold room.
Bad tidings spoken are detestable.
Why dost thou hesitate? What deeper grief
Can I experience? She is no more.
And peace and silence at this moment hover
Above her tomb. Whate’er she may have suffer’d
Is past for her: for me begins. But speak.
A universal calamity is death.
Consider thus the evil which has come,
And let the path by which she pass’d away
Be hid in darkness like the shades of night.
Not every one can tread the flowery path
That leads unto the silent realm of shadows.
With forceful pain destruction often comes
And brings through pangs of hell eternal peace.
She suffer’d much?
She suffer’d much, not long.
There was a moment while my darling suffer’d,
A moment that she cried in vain for aid!
And I, where was I then? What enterprise,
What scene of pleasure chain’d me at the time?
Did nothing presage what a woful thing
Was come to rend in fragments all my life?
Her cry I heard not, and I felt no sign
Of that misfortune struck so surely home.
Far-working holy sympathy’s foreboding
Is but a fable. Sensitive and firm,
Shut in by his environment, man feels
The present good or else the present evil;
And love itself is deaf to distant sounds.
The very utmost comfort speech can give
I feel how little can avail thee now.
A word can wound more readily than heal;
And grief, renew’d, forever strives in vain
To bring again the days of vanish’d joy.
And was there then no skill, no art availing
To call the fleeting spirit back to life?
What was thy first expedient? Oh, tell me,
What didst thou do to save her? Thou didst not
Leave any means untried!
Alas! Too late
When I had found her was it to devise.
Then if forever I must mourn the loss
Of her young life’s delightful power
Let me deceive my grief with deeper grief,
Let me immortalize her dear remains!
Come, let us visit her! Where does she lie?
A worthy chapel holds the maiden’s tomb,
Kept consecrate and silent! From the altar
Across the iron bars I see the spot;
And while I live my prayers for her shall rise.
Oh, come and lead me thither! With us twain
Shall go the wisest of all wise physicians.
Her beauteous body we will snatch perforce
Before corruption work. With choicest drugs
We will preserve the treasure of her body;
And of the atoms which erewhile were join’d
In that incomparable, priceless form,
None shall return unto the dust again.
What can I say? Must I confess the whole?
Thou canst not go! Alas! the form distorted,
No stranger could behold it without horror!
And in a father’s eyes—it could not be!
No, God forbid! thou must not look upon her.
What new device of torment threatens me?
Oh, let me hold my peace, that words of mine
May not abuse remembrance of the lost!
Let me conceal the appalling sight of her
Dragg’d through the thicket, through the mangling rocks,
Disabled and disfigur’d and distorted,
Bleeding and crush’d, unrecognizable,
And lifeless, hanging from my arm. And I
With flooding tears—I bless’d the solemn hour
When I renounc’d a father’s holy hope.
Thou hast not been a father. Thou art one
Of those self-seeking, hard, self-centred men
Who let their narrow lives unfruitful run,
To end in gloom. So get thee gone! I hate
The very sight of thee!
I knew ’twas so.
Who could forgive the bringer of such tidings?
[Turns to go.
Forgive me and remain! Hast ever seen
A picture limn’d by art’s consummate skill
That once and once again thy recollection
Has striven to catch in all its wondrous beauty?
Oh, if thou hadst, then hadst thou surely never
So ruthlessly destroy’d the image which, for me,
Built with its thousand lines of loveliness,
Was all the world of fortune and of joy,—
And pleasure in remembrance so dispell’d!
What should I do? Conduct thee to the tomb
Bedew’d with countless tears from strangers’ eyes
Before I laid the rotting corpse away
To fall in mouldering peaceful dissolution!
Silence! unfeeling man! thou only add’st
New torments to the pain thou think’st to soothe.
Ah, woe! the elements, no longer rul’d
By that fair spirit of order, now destroy
In noiseless conflict what was godlike once.
If o’er her growth and swift development
Paternal fancy hover’d, full of care,
So now before the insistence of despair
The joy of life is turn’d to dust and ashes.
What light and air have made in fleeting form
Is kept for long within the sealed tomb.
The custom of the ancients was a wise one:
That when the active spirit pass’d away
The agency of purifying fire
Should solve the long and earnest work of nature,
Completed in the noble human form.
And when the flames their ruddy billows toss’d
Rolling to heaven and ’mid the clouds was seen
The eagle’s mighty wing significant,
Then tears were dried and friends forsaken gaz’d
With vision clarified up to the realms
Where sat the new-crown’d god upon Olympos.
Oh, gather for me in a costly urn
The sad remains of flesh consum’d to ashes,
So that the yearning arms outstretch’d in vain
May clasp reality, that I may press
Against my breast so full of emptiness
The painfulest possession of my life!
Ever more bitter grief becomes by grieving.
By grieving grief at last becomes enjoyment.
Oh, would that wandering ever on and on
I, laden with my melancholy burden
Of shrunken ashes, might with feeble footsteps
In expiation come where last I saw her.
There lay she dead within my arms, and there
Deceiv’d I saw her come to life again.
I thought I clasp’d her, thought I held her fast,
But now she is forever torn from me.
But there will I immortalize my sorrow.
A tribute to her rescue did I vow,
Enraptur’d by the marvel of my dream.
E’en now the gardener’s skilful hand is making
Through wood and fell a labyrinth of paths,
Enclosing round about the sacred spot
Where to his heart my royal master press’d
My daughter, and her princely birth confess’d.
Where henceforth symmetry and just proportion
Would grace the spot which brought me happiness.
There not a hand shall labor! Half completed
This plan shall be an emblem of my fate.
But the memorial—that I still shall found.
Heap’d up of unhewn bowlders, orderless,
There will I wander, there in silence dwell
Till Death at last shall bring desir’d relief.
Oh, let me there, like stone, dream life away,
Until the slender trace of former care
Shall vanish from this melancholy desert.
In freedom shall the meadow green with grass
And bough with bough in wildness intertwine,
The bending birch’s head shall sweep the ground,
The tender saplings wax to mighty trees,
And moss shall clothe around the slippery stems.
Time passes without note: for she is gone
By whose development I mark’d the years.
And will that man whose pleasure oft has been
To mingle in the beneficent whirl of life
Allow himself to shun the busy world
And choose the monotony of loneliness,
Because a burden unendurable
Has roll’d upon him with its threatening doom?
Go forth! with eagle swiftness through the land,
Through foreign kingdoms, that before thy mind
The world and all its glories may arise.
What have I in the world to look for now,
When she no longer meets my eye who was
The only object that I cared to see?
Shall stream and mountain, vale and wood and fell,
In varied panorama pass before me,
And only wake the bitter need I feel
To hold once more the form so dearly lov’d?
From mountain-top down to the ocean wide
What would the wealth of nature be to me—
Recalling me to poverty and loss?
But novel wealth lies close before thy hand!
’Tis through the eye undimm’d of youth alone
That things familiar vivified can stir us;
When the enthusiasm long despis’d
Comes to us pleasantly from childish lips.
And so I plann’d to show her all the realm,
The peopled plains, the forest depths, the rivers,
And all the boundless majesty of ocean,
So that the intoxication of her gaze
When turn’d upon the infinite of space
Should fill my soul with infinite of love!
If thou, exalted Prince, didst not aspire
To spend the glorious days of fullest life
In contemplation, if activity
In doing for unnumber’d multitudes
Gave thee the precedent unto the throne
For noble service in the common good,
Instead of accident of kingly birth,
Thus in the name of all I summon thee:
Take courage! Let the melancholy hours
Which darken thy horizon be, for others,
Through consolation, counsel, aid, no less
Than for thyself, bright hours of happiness.
How shallow and disgusting such a life,
Where every motion, every impulse brings
Ever new need of motion, need of impulse,
And no desir’d result at last rewards.
That did I see in her alone: for her
I strove and won with pleasure keen
That I might build a realm of pleasing fortune.
So I was genial, was a friend to all,
Obliging, quick, in deed and counsel lavish.
“It is the father in me that they love,”
I said; “they thank the father, and, in time,
The daughter will they welcome as their friend.”
No time is left for sentimental musings!
Exalted Prince, quite different thoughts demand thee.
Shall I the secret hazard? I the humblest
Among thy servitors? The eager glances
Of all are turn’d to thee, these dubious days,
Thy solid worth, thy strength undeviating.
The happy man alone feels worth and strength!
The pain intense of woes intolerable
Are bail unto the moment for vast meaning.
Let me have pardon if I boldly wage
To speak the confidential tidings out!
How from below fermenting passions seethe!
How ineffectual the force above!
Not every one has sight to see but thou
More than the multitude in which I move.
Oh, do not falter now the storm draws nigh,
But seize the helm and guide the weltering ship
For the advantage of thy fatherland.
Forget thy grief: else will a thousand fathers
Like thee their children mourn, a thousand children
Call vainly for their fathers, and the cries
Of mourning mothers echo horribly
Against the pitiless hollow prison walls.
Oh, bring an offering of thy grief and pain
Unto the altar of the common weal.
And all whom thou wilt rescue from this doom
Thou shalt in compensation win as children.
From gloomy corners do not raise again
The swarm opaque of spectres to oppress me,
Which through my daughter’s wonder-working power
Were often bann’d and readily put to flight.
That all-compelling might of love is vanish’d
Which sang unto my soul in pleasant dreams.
Now heavy on me weighs with solid pressure
The actual present, threatening to crush me.
Away! away! Take me from out the world!
And if the robe in which thou movest lie not,
Then lead me to the place where patience dwells,—
Unto the monastery, and leave me there
In universal silence, silent, bowed,
To sink, a weary mortal, to the vault.
Me scarcely it becomes to recommend
The world to thee: yet boldly will I speak!
Not in the grave nor yet upon the grave
The noble man will waste his wealth of longing.
He turns unto himself, and full of wonder
He finds the lost again within his heart.
The fact that such a treasure still remains
When far and farther flies the treasure lost,
That is the torment which the parted member
Forever torn away must still renew
Upon the pang-wrench’d, palpitating body.
Dismember’d life who can unite again?
Annihilated! who rebuild?
The spirit of man for whom is nothing lost
Which once was priz’d and held in firm possession.
So lives Eugenie still, within thy mind,
Which she erewhile sustain’d, in which she stirr’d
Perception of the wondrous works of Nature.
Still as a lofty pattern doth she work,
Protecting thee from common things and bad
Which, every hour, may meet thee. And the glory
Reflected from her noble truth will banish
The empty falsehood that would sting thee.
So through her power feel that thy strength is doubled,
And give her back a life invulnerable
Which can be shatter’d by no earthly force.
Nay, let some intricate net of death encoil me
With gloomy glowering web of woven dreams.
And, O thou image, perfect in thy beauty,
Remain for me forever young and changeless!
Around me let the pure light of thine eyes
Forever shine! Where’er my steps may wander
Do thou go with me, pointing out the way
Amid the thorny labyrinth of earth!
Thou art no figment of a dream! I see thee!
Just as thou wast, art thou. Almighty God
Conceiv’d thee perfect, perfect wast thou made.
Thou art a portion of the Infinite,
The Endless, and thou art forever mine.
Park at the port. On one side a palace, on the other a church; in the background a row of trees through which the port is seen below.Eugenie,enveloped in a veil, seated on a bench in the background, with face turned to the sea.
Governess. Counsellor.In the foreground.
A wretched business unavoidably
Compels me from the Kingdom’s central heart,
The district of the capital, to seek
The limits of the solid land, this haven,
With strenuous care forever at my heels
And dubious distance ever beckoning on.
How would the counsel and the sympathy
Of some strong man reliable and noble
Shine on me as a blessed guiding star!
Forgive me, therefore, if I come to thee
And bring this charter which shall justify
The formidable purpose that I own!
For I have heard thy name in hearty praise
Once in the halls where righteous judgment sways
As worthy aid, but now as perfect judge.
(Who meantime thoughtfully contemplates the paper.) Not my desert but my endeavor won
Perchance my meed of praise. But strange it seems
That him whom thou hast righteous call’d and noble,
Thou should’st demand in aid, and mock his eyes
With such a paper which can only fill
His bosom with disgust and sheer abhorrence.
Of right, of judgment, let no word be spoken.
This deed is violence, is tyranny!
E’en if the treatment wise and skilful be!
A child of noble birth is given over
For death or life—I speak not too severely?—
Is given over to thy will alone.
All, be they officers, civilians, soldiers,
Are bidden to protect thee, and to do
To her whate’er thy word as law may say.
[Gives back the paper.
Here show thy wisdom as a righteous umpire.
Let not this paper bring complaint alone!
To me, the deeply blamed, oh, lend an ear!
Consider favorably my proposition!
Of noble blood the peerless maiden sprang.
With every gift, with every virtue grac’d
By Nature as inalienable right,
E’en though the law denies her other
And now has banish’d her. ’Tis I must lead her
Forth from the circle of her friends and hence
Go with her as her guardian to the islands.
To certain death she goes: where heated vapors
With slow insinuating poison work.
There must this flower of heaven quickly wither,
The color mantling on her cheek must fade!
The form must disappear which yearning eyes
Would ever wish to keep preserv’d from ill.
Before thou judgest, listen to the end.
The girl is innocent (what need of proof?)
Yet is the cause of evils numberless.
An angry God between two parties plac’d her
Like Discord’s apple, and they now contend,
Forever separated on the question.
The one would see her rais’d to highest station,
The other strives to push her from the ground.
Both were of stout resolve. A labyrinth
Of cunning, weird devices hedg’d her fate,
Plot cross’d with counterplot and end was none
Until impatient passion brought a crisis,
Precipitating moments big with doom.
Dissimulation then forgot its bounds,
And violence fraught with peril to the State
Broke forth in all its threatening fury.
And now to keep the guilty from their guilt,
And check them, a decree divine is made
That strikes my charge, the innocent occasion
Of all the coil, and crushes me with her.
The instrument I blame not, scarce can judge
Those powers that work with such high hand. Alas!
They also are the slaves of tyrant fate
And rarely act from free deliberation.
Solicitude and fear of greater evils
Ofttimes compel the monarch into deeds
Which are unjust and yet must needs be done.
Complete thy necessary task! Begone
Out of the narrow boundaries of my Eden.
’Tis that I seek, and thither turn my steps,
In hope to find relief. Thou’lt not repulse me!
I long have tried to draw entrancing pictures
Before the worthy maiden of the pure delights
Which might await her in the calm contentment
Within the circles of the burgher classes.
If she would but renounce her high ambition
And claim the safeguard of an honest husband.
Would turn her eyes from sweet forbidden regions
Where danger, banishment and death surround her
To look with favor on a simple home,
Then all were solv’d, my bitter task fulfill’d,
And I, rejoicing in my fatherland,
Releas’d from care could still see peaceful hours.
A web of wondrous circumstance thou showest.
I show it to a wise and resolute man.
A suitor to thy mind could win the maid?
She should be his and richlydower’d withal.
Who could so rashly make a grave decision?
With sudden purpose inclination acts.
To link one’s life with fate unknown were madness.
One glance at her is warrant of her worth.
The wife’s foes are the foes of husband also.
When she is wed comes reconciliation.
And will her husband know the maiden’s secret?
If he is trusty, trust will be bestow’d.
And will she freely sanction such alliance?
A dread alternative will weight her choice.
Is it fair to woo in such extremity?
He who would rescue must not reason fine.
Pray, what before all else dost thou demand?
That thy resolve shall be confirm’d at once.
And is the peril of thy fate so pressing?
The busy sailors yonder spur the voyage.
Hast thou advised her yet of such a step?
I hinted thus with quick significance.
And did she not, indignant, spurn the thought?
Her former fortune then was all too nigh.
The glorious fancies, will they ever fade?
The awful ocean puts them all to flight.
She hates to leave her fatherland forever?
She hates to leave it, and to me ’tis death.
Thou, noble sir, by happy fortune found,
Oh, let us not exchange uncertain words.
Thy heart is young and in it dwells that virtue
That needs bright faith and uncondition’d love
For the accomplishment of treasur’d deeds.
In sooth a splendid circle hems thee round
Of men like thee—I would not say of equals.
Oh, look around thee! Look into thy heart
And look into the hearts of all thy friends!
And if thou find’st an overflowing measure
Of love, and charity and strength and courage,
Then let the most deserving take this jewel
And find the blessing that shall be his portion.
I know, I feel thy dubious situation.
I cannot with myself discreetly balance,
As wisdom would demand, before I choose.
Let me converse with her.
[TheGovernessretires towardsEugenie. What must be done
’Tis fated will be done. In commonest things
Volition, choice determine much. The highest
That comes to us of good, who knows its source?
E’en as thou comest to me, honor’d lady,
I almost doubt if they have told me truly.
Thou art unhappy, say they, yet thou bringest
Where’er thou art prosperity and fortune.
If I o’erwhelm’d in tribulation find
The first to whom I turn my face and voice,
So kind and noble, as thou seem’st to me,
Then will my sorrow disappear, I hope.
If on a man of wide experience
A lot like thine should fall, ’twere pitiful.
But grief of youth when first oppress’d how sorely
It calls for sympathy and love’s protection.
Thus but a little time ago I came
Up from the night of death to light of day.
I knew not what befell, what accident
Had hurl’d me headlong from the dizzy cliff.
Then suddenly I rose, I recogniz’d
The lovely world again. I saw the leech
Struggling to stir the dying flames again;
Found in my father’s loving glance, his voice,
My life again. And now a second time
I waken from a more disastrous fall.
Unknown and shadowy is the scene around me;
Strange to me are the faces of the men;
Thy gentleness itself is like a dream.
If strangers feel for our adversity
Then are they nearer to us than our nearest,
Who often look upon our grief with coldness,
From very carelessness of wonted sight.
Thy case is perilous, but who can say
If yet there be not chance of safety for thee?
No answer can I make. Unknown to me
The powers are which have brought about my exile.
The woman whom thou spokest with knows well
I suffer from the madden’d deeds of others.
Although superior power with strenuous blow
Has stricken hard thy fault so innocent,
Thy error made so by an accident,
No less respect remains—and dawning love.
The knowledge that my heart is pure within
Makes strange the consequence of little errors.
’Tis sport to stumble on the level ground;
A single slip hurls from the precipice.
Upon those heights I wander’d full of joy;
Excess of rapture caus’d my foot to fail.
The coming fortune I anticipated;
My hands already grasp’d the precious pledge.
A single moment and a little patience,
And, as I fondly thought, the whole was mine.
But rash desire o’erwhelm’d me. Swift temptation
Made havoc with my resolution. Was that it?
I saw, I told what was forbidden me
To see, to tell. Is such a trifling fault
So harshly punish’d? Does a lightly-given
Injunction, seeming like a jocular test,
Relentlessly condemn the breaker of it?
Oh, then ’tis true what ancient legends tell,
Once deem’d incredible. The momentary,
Thoughtless enjoyment of the apple brought
Unending guilt and sorrow on the world.
Thus also to my care a key was trusted.
Forbidden treasures did I dare unlock,
And I unlock’d the entrance to my tomb.
Thou canst not find the evil’s primal source,
And were it found it still would flow forever.
In trifling faults I seek it. I impute
To idle fancy blame for such disaster;
But higher, higher let suspicion rest.
The twain to whom I owed my life’s completeness,
Those glorious men, apparently were friends.
But now the discord of unstable parties
Which long had coil’d in dusky hiding-places
Perchance is breaking forth in open feud.
And what surrounded me as fear and care
Has reach’d its crisis, while it crushes me
And threats annihilation to the world.
I pity thee. Destruction of a world
Thou prophesiest since thy grief is sore.
Did not the earth seem fortunate and joyful
When, as a happy child, thou play’dst ’mid flowers?
The fortune of the earth who ever saw
Bedeck’d in more attractive hues than I?
Ah! what magnificence, what purity,
What fulness, fill’d my life! The satisfaction
Of every human want seem’d but a tithe
Of all the riches squander’d for my pleasure.
And who provided me this Paradise?
A loving father, who, neglecting naught
Of least or greatest, prodigally pour’d
Bewildering wealth of treasures in my hands,
And form’d me, body and mind alike, to carry
The weight of such responsibility.
If my surroundings seem’d effeminate,
And comfort pour’d its subtile poison round,
Then knightly sports invited me away
To fight with danger on the mettlesome steed.
Ofttimes I yearn’d to visit far horizons
To view the bounds of countries new and strange,
And this my noble father promis’d me.
He promis’d me to take me o’er the sea.
He hop’d to join in loving sympathy
In my first rapture in the infinite.
And here I stand alone and gaze far out,
And closer seems the world to hedge me in.
O God! how limited are earth and heaven
To human hearts left wholly to themselves.
Thou hapless one! How like a meteor
With fell destruction in its train
Thou sweepest down upon me from on high,
Disturbing all the current of my life!
The joy which in the boundless sea I took
Henceforth is turn’d to pain by thee. When Phœbus
Prepares to couch upon his fiery pyre
And every eye is soften’d with delight,
My face will then be turn’d away, and tears
Will flow in sorrow for thee and thy fate.
Far on the rim of night-surrounded ocean
I see thy path beset by want and sorrow!
Depriv’d of all thy wonted joys and comforts,
Afflicted hopelessly with trials new!
The glowing arrows of the sun are pour’d
Upon a land scarce sever’d from the tide;
The pestilence of poisonous dampness born
Hovers in murky vapors o’er the lowlands.
I see thee in the valley of the shadow
Languid and pale, fading from day to day.
Must she who stands before me fair and blooming
So prematurely die a living death?
Thou callest shapes of horror up before me.
There, there they banish me? To yonder land
From childhood painted in the gloomiest colors,
The very hiding-place of hell on earth:
Where ’mid foul swamps the serpent and the tiger,
Through reeds and tangled thorn-brakes lurking, crawl;
Where swarms of insects arm’d with cruel stings
Like living clouds surround the wanderer;
Where every wind-breath, weighted with discomfort
And deadly, shortens life by precious hours.
I thought to ask thee; now thou seest, beg
With importunity the hapless maid:
Thou canst, thou wilt avert this fate from me.
A talisman of frightful potency
The woman who hath brought thee hither holds.
What use are law and order if they fail
To shelter childhood from the crafts of crime?
Who then are you, who with your empty pride
In justice boast of quelling lawlessness?
In narrow circles lies our jurisdiction;
And all the weight of law that we can wield
Rules the unstable class of humble life.
The varied deeds that pass in higher places,
High-handed deeds that give life or that kill,
Accomplish’d without counsel, without verdict,
Are measur’d by another measure, punish’d,
Perchance, according to another standard,
Remaining ever like a dubious riddle.
And is that all? Hast thou no more to say,
To tell me?
I believe thee not;
I do not dare believe!
Let me depart.
Must I appear a weak, a lackwit coward?
Bewail and pity? Shall I not devise
Some daring stroke that shall secure thy rescue?
Yet would not in this very boldness lurk
The poignant danger that thou mightest hope
Too much from me? that if my plan should fail
I should appear to thee a wretched bungler?
I will not let thee go whom fortune sends—
My happy fortune of the olden days
Which from my youth up watch’d and guarded me,
And now, when angry storms are raging, sends
A’noble substitute to take her place.
Shall I not see and feel the sympathy
Thou takest in me and my fate? I stand
Not without influence here. Thou thinkest, plannest—
The wide domain of law’s experience
Will surely offer some resource to save me.
Not yet is all hope lost. Oh, yes, thou seekest
Some means of rescue—hast already found it.
I know it, read it plainly in thy face,
Thy earnest, friendly, melancholy face.
Turn not away from me. Oh, speak the word,
The earnest glorious word that brings me comfort!
Thus, full of confidence, the sorely ill
Seeks the physician, begging for relief,
For help against the threat of darkening days.
The skilful man appears to him a god.
Yet ah! a bitter, unendurable means
Is offer’d of relief. Alas! must hope
Give way, must mutilation’s gruesome horror
Cause loss instead of healing? must it be?
Thou wilt be rescu’d and thou canst be rescu’d,
But not restor’d. Thy past is gone forever.
The future that may wait thee, canst thou bear it?
For rescue from the hateful power of death,
For quickening refreshment of the light,
For mere security of life, one sinking
O’erwhelm’d in waves of difficulty calls.
What later must be heal’d, what be renew’d
And what be miss’d, the coming days will teach.
And next to life what dost thou most desire?
To live in my beloved fatherland.
That single mighty word is much to ask.
A single word contains my happiness.
Who can annul the magic incantation?
Victorious is the counter-charm of virtue.
’Tis hard to fight against superior might.
Superior might is not all-powerful!
But surely knowledge of the legal forms
Which bind alike the lofty and the low
Has found a means. Thou smilest. Is it true?
The means is found. Oh, free me from suspense.
What were the advantage, lady, if I spoke
Of possibilities to thee? Our wishes
Make everything seem possible. Our acts,
Oppos’d by much without us and within,
Are ignominiously brought to naught.
I cannot, dare not speak. Let me depart.
And even if thou should’st deceive! Were only
My imagination for a few glad moments
Allow’d to try a dubious, feeble flight!
Let me exchange one evil for another.
I feel that I am sav’d if I can choose.
There is one way by which thou canst remain
Here in thy fatherland—a peaceful way,
And many would conceive it pleasant. Favor
Is given it both by God and man. ’Tis lifted
By mighty powers above all fear of chance.
To those who take it, choose it for their own,
It bringeth peace and fortune. Full abundance
Of all desirable fruits of life it gives us
As well as most alluring future hope.
By heaven itself ’twas granted unto men
To be a common benefit and fortune.
Or boldness, or unfroward inclination
May find it leads to fields of sure content.
What paradise dost thou present in riddles?
Earth’s heavenly fortune which thou canst create.
What helps my riddling it? I am perplex’d.
Thyself must solve it or thy hope is over.
Let that be seen when thou hast told it me.
Great is my boldness! It is marriage.
The word is spoken. Thou must ponder it.
It takes me by surprise; it grieves my heart.
Thou must face bravely what surprises thee.
Far from me was it in my happy days,
And now its nearness is to me a horror.
My sorrow, my anxieties increase.
My father and my King I once suppos’d
Would bring the bridegroom at the proper time.
My anxious fancy did not search the future.
No lover’s image ever fill’d my breast.
Now must I think, perforce, unwonted thoughts,
And school myself to feelings new and strange.
Must give me to a husband, ere a man
Loveworthy, worthy of my hand, appear.
And violate the fortune Hymen grants
To save me from the misery of my need.
A woman may entrust her dubious fate
To any worthy man, albeit a stranger.
He is no stranger who can sympathize.
And quickly one in sore distress will learn
To love his rescuer. What brings in union
Through years of life the woman with the man—
The feeling of security—will never
Fail her in comfort, counsel, help, protection,
With which upon the instant, for all time,
A steadfast man through deeds of bravery
Inspires the woman when oppress’d with danger.
And where for me were such a hero found?
This city has a host of worthy men.
Yet no one knows me or would care to know.
A face like thine cannot remain conceal’d.
Oh, do not cheat a hope so prone to fail.
Where would a man be found so generous
To give his hand to me, the deeply-humbl’d?
Could I myself accept a boon so great?
Unfair seem many things in life; yet soon
And unexpected comes the compensation.
In constant change the weal outweighs the woe,
And sudden sorrows counterbalance joys.
Nothing is constant. Many a coil of trouble
Is disentangled while the days roll by
Resolving into gradual harmony.
And ah! the widest chasms love can bridge,
And bind in lasting union earth and heaven.
With empty visions wilt thou mock my eyes?
Thy safety is secur’d if thou canst trust me.
Then let me see my rescuer’s faithful image.
Thou seest him; he offers thee his hand.
Thou! What access of madness has o’ercome thee?
Forever resolute my feelings stand.
And can a moment bring forth such a marvel?
A miracle ever is a moment’s birth.
And so is error also child of rashness.
A man who once has seen thee errs no more.
Wisdom remains forever queen of life.
She may mistake, e’en while the heart decides!
Oh, let me tell thee how I with myself,
Not many hours ago, took serious counsel.
And as I felt my loneliness, review’d
My situation as it was, my fortune,
Position, possibilities of life,
And cast my eyes about to seek a wife.
Then fancy show’d me many a pleasing picture,
The garner’d treasures of my recollection.
They pass’d in bright procession through my mind;
But to a choice my heart was not inclin’d:
Now thou appearest and my bosom glows
With sense of what it lack’d. This is my fate.
The stranger, ill-entreated, sadly-dower’d,—
She could confess a glad, proud consolation
To see herself so treasur’d and so lov’d,
But she considers also her friend’s fortune—
The unselfish man, who should perchance be last
Among all men to proffer her his aid.
Dost thou not cheat thy heart, and dost thou dare
Defy those mighty powers that threaten me?
Not those alone. The monstrous violence
That stirs among the masses must be shunn’d.
And God has given men the safest haven
Within the home o’er which the husband guards.
There only dwelleth peace, which thou in vain
Outside its sacred circle mightest seek.
Disturbing jealousy, venomous calumny,
The noisy strife and selfish interests
Within its lovely shelter have no place.
Its happiness is hedg’d by love and reason,
And all mischance is soften’d by their power.
Oh, come! Accept the safety I can offer.
I know myself and what I dare to promise.
Art thou a Prince within thy house?
And so is every man, the evil and the good.
Is not that house a little kingdom where
The husband tyrannizes o’er the wife?
When he, according to his selfish humor,
With whims, and bitter words and cruel deeds,
Takes fiendish pleasure in the slow destruction
Of gentle joys which he had sworn to cherish.
Who dries the suffering woman’s tears? What law
Or what tribunal reaches the offender?
He triumphs, and with agony of patience
She sinks before her time into the grave.
Necessity, the law, and custom gave
The man these arbitrary powers. They trusted
His strength, his honest worth would be the safeguard.
I cannot offer thee, beloved, honor’d stranger,
A knightly arm, a long descent of heroes,
Only the yeoman’s worthy rank secure.
When thou art mine, what more can trouble thee?
Forever thou art mine, maintain’d, protected.
Should even the King demand thee back from me,
As consort I could reckon with the King.
Forgive me. Yet too vividly I see
Hovering before me what I lost so lightly.
O friend magnanimous, thou canst not think
How little now of good remains to me.
This little thou teachest me to prize, thou givest
With new vitality endow’d myself
Back to myself, so generous is thy heart.
I give thee honor for it—can I speak it?—
The grateful loving feelings of a sister!
I call myself thy work, but what thou wishest
Alas! I never can become to thee.
Dost thou so rashly blast my hope and thine?
The word that dooms our hopes is ever sudden.
The Same. Governess.
The fleet already hears the favoring wind;
The sails are bellying; all is in commotion.
In tears the parting take one more embrace,
And from the vessels, from the steadfast land,
White handkerchiefs are waving last farewells.
And soon our vessel also weighs the anchor.
Come! let us go. No parting salutation
Consoles us, not a tear is shed for us.
Not unbewail’d, not without bitter pain
Of friends deserted, who would rescue you,
Who stretch forth yearning arms, ye pass from sight.
Oh, yet perchance from far will smile upon you
Desir’d in vain the vision ye now scorn.
A few short moments since I welcom’d thee
With rapture. Must a hasty “Fare-thee-well”
Now seal our everlasting separation?
Do I surmise the purport of your talk?
Thou seest me anxious for the eternal union.
(ToEugenie.) And how dost thou receive so great an offer?
With keenest gratitude that heart could render.
And art thou not inclin’d to grasp this hand?
She turn’d to me for aid importunately.
What next us lies is oft beyond our reach.
Ah! quite too soon relief will be too late.
And hast thou thought of all the threatening ill?
E’en to the last that threatens—death itself.
Dost thou decline the life that’s offer’d thee?
Delectable days of glad festivity.
One festival I hop’d for: hope is past.
Who much has lost again can quickly gain.
A lingering destiny instead of glory.
When glory quench’d its light slow days began.
The possible fate in store should bring content.
Who would not be content with love and faith?
My heart would contradict those flattering words,
And contravene you both impatiently.
Alas! I know how all too burdensome
Is succor undesir’d. It only rouses
Within our hearts the strongest opposition.
We should be grateful, but our thanks are scanty
Because we are not willing to receive.
So let me go. But ere our paths divide
I must fulfil the duty and the custom
Incumbent on the native of the port:
And to your voyage across the barren main
Devote refreshing stores of fruits and flowers,
My parting benediction and farewell.
Then will I stand and watch with stony eyes
While down the horizon fades the towering sail.
And with it go my happiness and fortune.
Upon thy will I know my happiness,
My misery depend. Oh, be persuaded!
Oh, let thy hard heart yield! Send me not hence.
It lies with thee to guide our future course.
Thou hast a choice. I only can obey
The ruling hand; it hurls me swift away.
And dost thou call it choice when opposite
The stronghold of impossibility
The unavoidable arrays itself?
The alliance can be made, the ban be broken.
There are things that a noble cannot do.
This worthy man might well inspire thy favor.
If thou would’st bring me back to better fortune
I would reward his kindness boundlessly.
Oh, give him now the only boon he asks,
And lead him by thy hand to higher levels.
If virtue, if desert but slowly forward
The man of capability, if he,
With calm renunciation, scarcely notic’d,
Devotes himself to others, striving upwards,
A noble wife will lead him to his goal.
Let no man look below him for a spouse.
Too lofty his ambition cannot be.
If he succeeds to woo a high-born lady
The path of life will smooth before his steps.
The meaning of thy false, confusing words
I disentangle from thy lying speech.
The opposite I know too well is true.
The husband irresistibly compels
The wife to take the exclusive course he follows.
Once there, forever there; she cannot choose
By force inherent ways dissimilar.
From low condition he will lift her up;
And so from higher spheres he snares her down;
Her former self is vanish’d quite away,
Extinguish’d every trace of days departed.
What she has won who now can tear from her?
And who can give her back what she has lost?
And thus thou dost pronounce the fatal sentence.
Yet full of hope I look for rescue still.
When he who loves despairs how canst thou hope?
A man less passionate would counsel better.
Of choice and counsel let no more be said;
Thou driv’st me into exile: thou must follow.
Oh, would that yet once more before my eyes
Thou would’st appear with gentle friendliness,
As always from the earliest days I saw thee.
With not more sweet, benevolent glance than thine,
The sun whose glory animates all life,
The bright moon with its soft inspiring rays,
Pour’d forth their heavenly influence on my mind.
What boldest wish was not anticipated?
What was to fear? The safeguard was prepar’d.
And though my mother held herself aloof
And did not show her favor to her child
Thou camest to me in a mother’s place,
Consoling me with limitless affection.
And art thou now so chang’d? Thou seemest
In outward guise the same old loving friend.
But inwardly thy heart has wholly chang’d.
It still is thou whom I so often ask’d
For favors small and great, never denied.
The childlike sentiment of wonted reverence
It prompts me now to ask the greatest boon.
And could it lower me to beg thee now
On bended knee, as though before my father,
As though before my King, my God, for safety?
It seems to me that in thy present mood
Thou mockest me, and falsehood moves me not.
[She roughly liftsEugenieto her feet.
A tone so harsh, such inconsiderate treatment,
Must I endure to suffer at thy hands?
And dost thou fright away my dream so rudely?
In clearest light I see my destiny.
’Twas not my fault, ’twas not the strife of party,
It was my brother’s guile that drove me hither;
And thou, a sworn conspirator with him,
Compellest me to suffer lifelong exile.
Thy error drives thee into thoughts unjust.
What will thy brother scheme to do against thee?
He has the will perchance but not the power.
As he desires, so let it be. I will not
In those far-distant hopeless deserts languish.
A living people move around me here,
A loving people, in whose hearts the name
Of father spoken by a child is sweet.
I will demand their aid. A mighty shout
Would summon rescuers from the brawny rabble.
The brawny rabble thou hast never known.
They stare and wonder and procrastinate
While what is done is done. And if they move
Failure attends their planless enterprise.
Thou shalt not with thy chilling word destroy
My faith, as thou hast ruin’d my happiness.
Down in the city life shall give me life;
There where the billowing throngs stream ceaselessly,
Where every heart contented with its pittance
Will open to the touch of sympathy—
Thou shalt not keep me back. I’ll shout aloud,
Impetuously mixing in the throng,
And blazon forth the frightful deed of crime
Which fills my soul with poignant pangs of fear.
Plaza at the Port.
What influence dost thou use to draw me back?
Now also I obey against my will.
O cursed power, thy voice has won upon me,
Which erst so smoothly led me to obey,
Which got the mastery of the whole domain
Wherein my plastic nature was confin’d.
’Twas thou who taught me first the magic power
Of speech, the fine artistic web of words.
Thy lips unseal’d the world to me and gave me
The costly knowledge of my inmost heart.
This magic now thou usest to my harm;
Thou bindest me, thou draggest me away.
My mind is dull’d, my feelings are confus’d,
And I could wish I were among the dead.
Oh, would this magic had reveal’d its power
In days when I besought thee fervently
To let those lofty schemes of thine dissolve.
Didst thou imagine such a monstrous evil
And didst not warn the all-too-trustful mind?
Indeed I warn’d thee but in guarded words;
The secret spoken out had brought thee death.
And yet behind thy silence exile lay;
More welcome to me were the doom of death.
Yet this misfortune, unforeseen or not,
Has snar’d me with thee in the selfsame net.
How can I know what great reward thou’lt have
When thou hast work’d the undoing of thy charge?
’Tis waiting for me on a foreign shore.
The sail is spread and bears us both away.
The prison of the ship has not yet seiz’d me;
’Tis not too late; why should I go unwilling?
Hast thou not once appeal’d unto the people?
They only stared in silence and went their way.
Contending as I was with keen emotions
The common people thought that I was mad.
Yet not with words or violence should’st thou hinder
My bold, courageous steps to get me aid.
The magnates of this city from their houses
Come hither to the strand to watch the vessels
Which mass’d in fleets, by us unlov’d, depart.
Within the palace of the governor
The guards are stirring; he it is who comes
Adown you steps escorted by a throng.
I will address him and unfold my case.
If he be fit to represent my King
And take his place in matters of concern,
He’ll not repulse me without hearing me.
I stand not in the way of this attempt;
Yet name no names, but only tell thy story.
No names until I see that I can trust him.
He seems to be a noble youth, and gladly
Will do his utmost to confer a favor.
The Governor. Adjutants.
I crave a pardon for my over boldness;
Oh, wilt thou heed the stranger in thy way?
(After long and attentive contemplation.) One who, like thee, commends herself at sight
Will be secure of friendliest reception.
No bright and friendly matter do I bring;
The deepest woe compels me to address thee.
Then let it be my duty to dispel it;
Or failing that, to make it light to bear.
She who petitions is of loftiest race;
And yet she has no right to bear its name.
A name is soon forgotten; but thy face
Would stay forever in the memory.
Me from my father’s breast to the wild sea
Has treacherous violence harshly torn and forc’d.
Who with irreverent, hostile hand could think
Of bringing pain to such a peaceful heart?
Suspicion only tells me that this blow
Wag’d by a member of my race fell on me.
Misled by selfishness and evil counsels
My brother plotted this destruction for me.
And she whom here thou seest, who nurtured me,
I know not why, sides with my enemies.
I side with her and mitigate an evil
Which I, alas! cannot entirely cure.
She forces me to embark upon the ship;
She carries me away to yonder isles!
If I myself go with thee on this exile
It proves my love and motherly devotion.
Forgive me, honor’d ladies, if, one instant,
Surprise at seeing and at hearing you
O’ercomes a man who, young in years, has seen
And has consider’d many things in life.
Ye both to me seem worthy of belief;
And yet does each of you distrust the other.
At least it seems so. What am I to do
To disentangle now the twisted threads
Which in a puzzling knot so strangely bind you?
If thou wilt hear me I will tell thee more.
I also much am able to explain.
That oftentimes we are deceiv’d by strangers
Must also prejudice the truth when seen
Behind the seeming of adventurers.
If thou dost not believe me I am lost.
E’en if I did believe ’tis hard to help.
Oh, send me to my father’s house again!
To rescue outcast children, to protect
Foundlings or those who have been put away
Brings small reward to wisely-thinking men.
About the inheritance of property
Arises question of the rightful heir,
And hateful passions seethe, and if relations
Brawl noisily about the Mine and Thine
The stranger who shall meddle wins the hate
Of both sides. Not infrequently indeed,
If his more strenuous interference fail,
In shame before the judgment he is brought.
And so excuse me if I cannot promise
A hopeful answer to thy pressing claim.
If such timidity becomes the noble,
Then whither shall the poor downtrodden turn?
Yet certainly thou wilt excuse me now,
Since urgent business calls me swiftly hence,
If I invite thee early on the morrow
To seek my palace, there more comfortably
To learn the heavy fate that weighs thee down.
With pleasure will I come. And in advance
Accept my earnest thanks for my relief.
(Putting a paper into his hands.) If we do not accept thy invitation
This leaflet will appear our exculpation.
(Reading it attentively and handing it back.) My only service to thee then can be
To wish that thou may’st have a fortunate voyage,
Submission to thy destiny, and hope.
Is this the talisman which thou hast wielded
To carry me away, to hold me prison’d,
Which palsies all who come to my assistance?
Oh, let me look upon this deadly sheet.
I’ve learn’d to know my grief; so let me now
Know also who has caus’d the fatal blow.
(Opening the paper before her.)
Here! Look upon it!
(Turning away.) Horrible sensation!
Have I surviv’d it that my father’s name,
My King’s name flash’d against me from the page?
Yet may deception have been play’d, perchance
Some crown official, insolent, has dared
Misuse his power, and serve my brother’s whim,
To harass me. Then can I yet be rescu’d.
I’ll try this also. Let me see.
(As before.) Behold!
(As before.) My courage fails me. Nay! I dare not look.
Let be as Fate will have it: I am lost.
Driven out from all advantage of this world.
Oh, let me then renounce this world forever.
Oh, grant me this one boon. My enemies,
And thou among them, wish my death, they wish
To bury me alive. Permit me then
To yield me to the church which greedily
Has swallow’d so many a guiltless offering.
Here the cathedral stands: this door conducts
To silent sorrow or to silent joy.
Oh, let me take this step and hide myself.
And what awaits me there shall be my fate.
I see the Abbess comes accompanied
By twain o’ the sisters down into the plaza.
She too is young and of a princely house.
Disclose thy wish to her; I will not hinder.
Abbess. Two Nuns.
Adorable, holy virgin, here thou seest
One who is stupefied, confus’d, at odds
With self and with the world. My present sorrow,
Solicitude for future evils drive me
To seek thy presence, where I dare to hope
For swift deliverance from monstrous wrong.
If peace, reflection, reconciliation
With God and our own hearts can be imparted,
Then, noble stranger, shall the faithful word
Be taught thee which shall make thee know the joy
That blesses now and ever me and mine.
Unending is my woe; not even speech
With power divine could serve to assuage it.
Oh, take me! let me stay where thou dost stay,
And first, dissolv’d in tears of melancholy,
Devote my lighten’d heart to consolation.
Oft have I seen within my holy sphere
The tears of earth change into heavenly smiles,
And bitter sorrow into joy divine.
Yet not by force can entrance here be made.
Full many a trial must the novice suffer
That we may know her absolute desert.
Complete desert is easy to perceive,
And easy to fulfil severe conditions.
I do not doubt thy gentleness of birth,
Thy property, are all could be desir’d
To gain the privileges of this house
For thee, although they are so great and tempting:
So let me quickly learn what be thy wishes.
Grant my petition, take me to thy care!
Conceal me from the world in deep seclusion.
All that is mine I freely give to thee.
Much do I bring and more I hope to offer.
If youth and beauty can appeal to us,
A noble maiden fills our heart with love;
Dear child, then hast thou many claims upon us.
Beloved daughter, come into my arms.
With words like these, with such a warm embrace,
Thou hast at once appeas’d the angry storm
Which rag’d within my heart. The last wave dying
Still foams around me. I have reach’d the port.
(Stepping between.) Did not a wretched destiny oppose!
Behold this paper! give us then thy pity.
[She hands theAbbessthe paper.
(Having read it.) My censure thou deservest since thou knewest
That this was so, and yet our vain discourse
Thou didst permit unchalleng’d, though thou heardest.
I bow my head before the mightier hand
That seems to rule here.
What! a mightier hand?
What means the hypocrite? Is’t God she means?
The Almighty God of heaven has not surely
To do with any such atrocious deed.
Or does she mean our King? Well! I must bear it—
Whatever he imposes on me. Yet
I will no longer dubiously hover
Between my love and fear, nor like a woman
E’en while I sink will spare the feelings
Which fill my timid heart. So let it break
If break it must; and now I wish to see
That paper, if the sentence unto death
Be by my King or by my father sign’d.
Before the angry godhead that has crush’d me
I stand and face the consequences boldly.
Oh, that I really stood before it! Fearful
Is the last glance of injur’d innocence.
I never have refus’d it; take it now.
(Looking at the outside of the paper.) It is the idiosyncrasy of man
That in the very extremity of evil
The fear of further loss clings to him still.
Are we so rich, ye gods, that at one blow
Ye cannot strip us of our last possession?
This paper tore me from my life’s delight,
And lets me still forebode a deeper grief.
[She unfolds it.
Ah, well! be brave, my heart, and tremble not
To drain this bitter cup e’en to the dregs.
[She peers into it.
The seal and manual of the King!
(Taking away the paper.)
On me have pity while thyself thou mournest.
In undertaking this disastrous duty
I but fulfil the bidding of the Almighty,
That I may stand beside thee in thy sorrow,
Lest in the hand of strangers thou should’st fall.
What fills my soul with anguish, all I know
About this frightful deed soon thou shalt learn.
But grant me pardon if necessity
With iron hand compels me instantly
To take our passage on the parting vessel.
Thus then the loveliest kingdom on the earth,
This seaport peopled by its busy thousands,
Becomes a wilderness. I am alone.
Here noble gentlemen conform to laws,
And warriors listen to the word of duty;
Here saints in peace beseech the God of heaven;
The throng are busy striving after gain;
But I am banish’d without right or justice.
There is no hand to arm itself for me;
The house of safety is shut fast against me;
None dares to stir an inch in my defence.
Banishment! Yes, the hideous, burdensome word
Already crushes me with all its weight.
I feel that I am but a lifeless member
The which the healthy body lops away.
As one who dies before his time I am—
Who, conscious of himself but stricken dumb,
Lies shuddering in a waking dream, to be
The unwilling witness of his own interment.
Unspeakable necessity! Yet hold!
Is not a choice still left me? Can I not
Lay hold upon the hand of that good man
Who offer’d aid to me, the nobly born.
But could I do it? I renounce the birth
Which lifted me to such a lofty height?
Forever yield the glory of my hope?
In vain! oh, seize me, Force, with brazen claws!
Unseeing Fate, oh, take me hence away!
The choice that trembles dubious ’twixt two ills
Is even harder than the ill itself.
[Governess,with porters carrying luggage, goes in silence across the background.
They come, they bear off with them my possessions,
The last remaining of my costly treasures.
Will all I have be stolen from me too?
They take them to the ship and I must follow.
A favoring zephyr lifts the pennant seawards;
Soon shall I see the swelling sails all spread.
The fleet already leaves the harbor mouth!
And now the ship that bears me wretched sails.
They’re coming! I must set my foot on board.
O God! Why are the heavens as brass above me?
Does not my voice of anguish reach thine ear?
So be it! I will go. Yet shall the vessel
Not swallow me within its prison cell.
The plank that leads me over to its side
Shall be the first step for me unto freedom.
Receive me then, ye billows, take me up,
And girdling me around let me descend
Into the bosom of your solemn peace.
And when at last no more I have to fear
From the injustice of this world, then roll
To shore my whitening bones, that pious care
May make my grave upon my native soil.
[She takes a few steps.
Why stop then?
Will my foot no more obey me?
What chains my steps? What seems to hold me here?
Oh, fatal love for miserable life,
Again thou bring’st me to the bitter strife.
By banishment, by death and degradation
I am environ’d round about and each
Has deeper anguish for me than the other.
And when I turn my shuddering eyes from one
The other glares with hellish face upon me.
Is there no mortal means, no means divine
To free me from this thousand-footed anguish?
Oh, that a single sympathetic word
Might chance to reach me from the passing throng.
Oh, that a bird, foreboding peace, might fly
Light-winged by me, guiding me to shelter.
I gladly follow whither fate should call.
Point me the way and faith shall lead me on.
Or give me but a hint and I will yield
In hope and confidence without delay.
(Standing long in contemplation, then lifting her eyes and seeing theMonk.)
I cannot doubt it: here at last is safety.
Yes, this is he who shall decide my course.
In answer to my prayer he comes to me,
A man of wisdom, full of years, to whom
The heart unhesitating flies for succor.
My father! let the sweet, paternal name
To me denied, forbidden and embitter’d,
Be now transferr’d to thee, the noble stranger.
Let me narrate my trouble in few words.
With pain and yet with confidence I lay it
Upon thy heart, not for thy quality
Of wisdom and discreetness, but because
Thou art an aged man belov’d by God.
What troubles thee disclose with perfect freedom.
Through Providence the sufferer meets with him
Who ever must regard his highest duty
The alleviation of the woes of others.
A riddle thou wilt hear and not complaints.
For I would seek an oracle, not counsel.
In two detestable directions stretch
Two paths before my feet. The one leads hither,
The other thence. Which one shall I select?
Thou art a tempter to me. Thou wilt count
My answer as a lot?
A sacred lot.
If I conceive thee right, thy eyes aspire
To higher regions out of deepest need.
The will is stricken dead within thy heart.
Thou hopest for a stronger to decide.
In sooth, incomprehensibly to us,
The ever-active Agent as by chance
Sets this or that before us, for our good,
For our deliberation, our decision,
Or our accomplishment: thus, as it were,
Carried, in spite of us we win the goal.
To comprehend this is the richest fortune;
’Tis absolute duty not to interfere,
To wait in patience, comfort in distress.
Oh, would that I were granted grace to feel
Beforehand what were truly best for thee.
But in my breast presentiment is silent.
And if thou canst confide no more in me
Then take a fruitless pity for farewell.
Shipwreck’d I still have one last spar to clutch.
I hold thee fast and speak against my will
For the last time the word that crushes hope.
A scion of a noble house I now
Am outcast, banish’d o’er the sea; but yet
I could avoid my fate through marriage bonds
Which drag me down to low ignoble spheres.
What whispers now thy heart? Still is it silent?
Let it not speak until my searching reason
Shall be oblig’d to recognize its weakness.
The story which to me thou hast confided
Is too indefinite, and my advice
Can likewise only be indefinite.
If thou art forc’d to choose between two evils
Both hated, face them boldly, and then choose
The one that will allow thee widest scope
For worthy deeds and holy undertakings,
That puts the smallest limits to thy spirit,
That hinders thee the least from noble actions.
It is not marriage then that thou advisest?
Not such an one as seems to threaten thee.
What blessing can the priest give when the “Yes”
Proceeds not from the fair bride’s inmost heart?
He should not chain two contraries together
Lest conflict ever freshly born should rise.
It is his godlike service to fulfil
The wish of Love which to the All, the one,
To the eternal joins the momentary,
And that which fades to that which lasts forever.
Thou sendest me to woe across the ocean.
Go hence with comfort for the wretched there.
What comfort can I give in dark despair?
A pure heart as is witness’d by thy face.
A noble courage, lofty, boundless thoughts,
Will hold thee firm and others, wheresoe’er
On earth thy steps may wander. If thou now
In bloom of youth art banish’d innocent,
And bearest through thy solemn acquiescence
The imputation of the sins of others,
Then wilt thou, like a superhuman nature,
Diffuse a wondrous virtue all around thee—
The happy fortune of thy innocence.
So then go hence! Go like a healing breeze
Within the circle of those sorrowing ones;
Rejoice with thy appearance that sad world.
Through powerful words, through mighty deeds encourage
New strength in hearts that have forgot to hope.
Unite the scatter’d into bands around thee.
Bind them in love together, all to thee.
Create there what thou here hast lost,
A race and fatherland and princely house.
Would’st thou have faith to do what thou commandest?
Thus have I done. When still my years were young
The spirit led me into savage lands.
I chang’d rough lives to gentle practices;
I gave the hope of heaven unto death.
Oh, had I not, misled by genuine longing
To serve my fatherland, turn’d back my steps
Unto this desert of audacious life,
This city wilderness of subtile crimes,
This troubled pool of selfish vanity!
The era’s impotency chains my spirit,
Old customs, duties and perhaps a fate
That brought its heaviest trial on me late.
But thou art young, and free from every hindrance;
The wide world lies before thee; press thou on
And get salvation. All the grief thou feelest
Will change to genuine pleasure. Hasten forth!
Explain more clearly what it is thou fearest.
In darkness comes the future pressing on;
What closest lies before us is not seen
E’en by the open eyes of sense, of reason.
If I by daylight wander through these streets
In wonder, and behold the splendid buildings,
The solid bulks rocklike with lofty towers,
The parks with palaces, the noble churches,
And see the harbor with its fleets of ships—
It all appears to me dispos’d and founded
To last forever, and these hurrying throngs
Of busy workers rushing on and on
In ceaseless waves through all the spaces seem
The promise of eternal lastingness.
But when at night this mighty panorama
Repasses through the chambers of my mind,
Then all the murky air is fill’d with rumblings,
The solid earth gives way, the towers totter,
The fitted stonework falls, and all the glory
Which fill’d the scene is scatter’d in confusion.
A few sad creatures climb the hills new risen,
And every heap of rubbish marks a tomb.
A lessen’d people, hard-oppress’d, no more
Are able to restrain the elements;
And with its restless overflow the tide
Fills up the harbor with its sand and slime.
Night first disarms a man and then in spite
Subdues him with her idle fantasies.
Ah! soon enough the sun’s face veil’d in sadness
Comes forth to look upon our woful plight.
But thou must go, thou whom a kindly spirit
Bless’d e’en in banishing. Farewell and hasten!
From selfish sorrow I am led away
And others’ woes are plac’d before my ken.
Yet does it not concern thee what shall happen
Unto thy fatherland? With added weight
This settles on my overburden’d heart.
Besides the present evil must I bear
The imaginary burdens of the future?
Then it is true what e’en in childhood’s days
Rang in my ears unconscious, what I heard
In youth and question’d and at last have learn’d
From truthful lips of father and of King:
This realm is threaten’d with a sudden fall;
The elements once fused in mighty life
No longer will reciprocally join
With force of love in unity renew’d
Continually. Scattering, forth they fly,
And each returns unto itself in coldness.
Where was the mighty spirit of our fathers
Which for one purpose brought them into union
That hitherto had stood apart in battle,
And which before this mighty people became
Personified as monarch and as father?
That spirit is no more. What now remains
Is but a spectre which with idle striving
Gropes blindly, hopelessly, for lost possessions.
And could I take such cares across with me?
Could I withdraw me from the common danger?
Could I neglect the chance to show myself
Of courage worthy of my noble sires,
And in a time of trouble by my aid
Shame him who has unworthily oppress’d me?
Now, O my fatherland, thy sacred soil
Has first become my inspiration, now
I feel for the first time the pressing call
To stand by thee so long as life shall last.
I will not let thee go; whate’er the bond
That binds me unto thee is henceforth holy.
Where shall I find that noble-minded man
Who offer’d me his hand so honorably?
To him I will confide my life. In secret
He shall preserve me as a talisman pure!
For if a marvel happens on the earth
It happens through the love of faithful hearts.
The greatness of the peril I dismiss;
I do not dare to think upon my weakness.
A favorable chance when times are ripe
Shall bring to lofty purposes the whole.
And if my father, if my King forget me
Whom once they banish’d and disown’d, their eyes
Astonish’d shall upon me rest, preserv’d
To work for the accomplishment in sorrow
Of what in fortune she had vow’d to do.
He comes! With more delight I see him now
Than when he left me. Seeking me he comes!
He thinks we part; I shall remain to him.
Eugenie. Counsellor. Boybearing a beautiful casket.
The vessels one by one are putting out
And soon I fear me wilt thou too be call’d.
Receive once more a hearty “Fare-thee-well”
With this slight gift which breathes to weary hearts
Refreshment for the long-continu’d voyage.
Remember me, and oh, may evil days
On which thou yearnest for me never come.
With pleasure I accept thy graceful gift;
It is a pledge to me of loving care;
Yet send it quickly to thy house again.
And if thou thinkest former thoughts and feelest
As thou hast felt, that still my love could be
A satisfaction to thee, I will follow.
(After a pause, motioning theBoyto depart.) Is’t possible? Has such a sudden change
Brought round thy will to answer in my favor?
My will is chang’d indeed; but do not think
That apprehension drove me back to thee.
A feeling that is nobler (let me hide it)
Preserves me for my fatherland, for thee.
Now let the question come: Hast thou the courage,
The lofty courage for renunciation,
To vow thyself to her who must renounce?
Canst thou agree to take me, as a sister
Is taken by a brother, in pure affection?
And wilt thou give me counsel and protection
And peaceful home-life in return for love?
I think that I could all things bear but one—
The thought of losing thee now I have found thee
Seems unendurable to me. To see thee,
Near thee to be, for thee to live, I count
My sole, my highest fortune. Therefore let
Thy heart alone be privileg’d to set
The terms of the alliance which we pledge.
Henceforth, the world avoiding, I must live
In deep seclusion only known by thee.
If thou a distant lonely house possessest,
Then give it me and send me thence away.
A small estate I own, well-situated;
But old and half in ruins is the house.
Thou canst however in that region soon
The loveliest dwelling find at small expense.
Nay! let me settle in the ancient ruin.
It suits my circumstances and my mind.
And when my fortune brightens I shall find
Material and time for busy action.
So soon as I am thine, accompanied
By some retainer, old and faithful, let me
There find a lonely burial-place, in hope
Soon to return in joyful resurrection.
When can I make my visit to thee there?
Thou must await in patience till I summon,
For such a day will come to us perchance
To bind us closer with most solemn bonds.
Thou layest on me a burden all too heavy.
Fulfil thy obligations unto me;
That I acknowledge mine be well assur’d.
Thou darest much to offer me thy hand
That thou may’st save me. Should I be discover’d,
Too soon discover’d, much thou mightest suffer.
I bid thee keep the wisest circumspection;
Let no one learn the place from which I came.
Indeed my distant lov’d ones I will visit
In spirit only. Not a single line,
No messenger shall dare to name me there
Where for my rescue glows perchance a spark.
In this momentous crisis words are vain.
The lips can often counterfeit with boldness
Disinterested love, when in the heart
The monster, selfishness, is grimly lurking.
The power of love is shown by deeds alone.
Thus while I win thee I must yield up all,
Even the sight of thee. I meet the test.
Thy image ever will before my eyes
Seem as it seem’d when first I saw thy face,
An object of attraction and of honor.
Because of thee I wish to live. Thou art
My mistress and my queen. And if the priest
From day to day so long as life may last
Bows low before the God he cannot see,
Which in a moment of supreme conviction
In grand ideal swept before his spirit,
So nothing shall destroy henceforth for me,
However thou may’st hide thyself away,
The glory thou hast shed upon my life.
How absolutely I confide in thee,
And read the truthful lineaments of thy face,
The accents of thy tongue so free from guile!
How sure I am of what a man thou art,
Upright, warm-hearted, strong, reliable!
Here have the proof than which no higher can be
By any woman in her senses given:
I linger not, I haste to follow thee,
Here is my hand. We go unto the altar!