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While others, fix'd as rocks, await the word At which their wrathful vials shall be pour'd.
No azure more shall robe the firmament, Nor spangled stars be glorious: Death hath risen:
In the sun's place a pale and ghastly glare Hath wound itself around the dying air. Aza. Come, Anah! quit this chaosfounded prison,
To which the elements again repair,
Hear not man only but all nature plead ! Raph. Farewell, thou earth! ye wretched sons of clay,
I cannot, must not, aid you. "Tis decreed! [Exit RAPHAEL. Japh. Some clouds sweep on as vultures for their prey,
The forest's trees (coeval with the hour When Paradise upsprung,
Ere Eve gave Adam knowledge for her dower,
Or Adam his first hymn of slavery sung), So massy, vast, yet green in their old age, Åre overtopp'd,
Their summer blossoms by the surges lopp'd,
Which rise, and rise, and rise.
And shut out God from our beseeching eyes.
A Mortal. Blessed are the dead
Who die in the Lord!
And though the waters be o'er earth outspread,
Yet, as his word,
Be the decree adored! He gave me life he taketh but The breath which is his own: And though these eyes should be for ever
Enter a Woman.
Woman. Oh, save me, save!
My father and my father's tent,
The pleasant trees that o'er our noonday bent
And sent forth evening songs from sweetest birds,
The little rivulet which freshen'd all
No more are to be seen.
When to the mountain cliff I climb'd this morn,
I turn'd to bless the spot,
And not a leaf appear'd about to fall; —
To die! in youth to die; 1190 And happier in that doom, Than to behold the universal tomb Which I
Am thus condemn'd to weep above in vain. Why, when all perish, why must I remain ? [The waters rise: Men fly in every direction; many are overtaken by the waves; the Chorus of Mortals disperses in search of safety up the mountains; Japhet remains upon a rock, while the Ark floats towards him in the distance.
The following drama is taken entirely from the German's Tale, Kruitzner, published many years ago in Lee's Canterbury Tales; written (I believe) by two sisters, of whom one furnished only this story and another, both of which are considered superior to the remainder of the collection. I have adopted the characters, plan, and even the language, of many the characters are parts of this story. Some modified or altered, a few of the names changed, and one character (Ida of Stralenheim) added by myself; but in the rest the original is chiefly followed. When I was young (about fourteen, I think) I first read this tale, which made a deep impression upon me; and may, indeed, be said to contain the germ of much that I have since written. I am not sure that it ever was very popular; or, at any rate, its popularity has since been eclipsed by that of other great writers in the same department. But I have generally found that those who had read it, agreed with me in their estimate of the singular power of mind and conception which it develops. I should also add conception, rather than execution; for the story might, perhaps, have been developed with greater advantage. Amongst those whose opinions agreed with mine upon this story, I could mention some very high names: but it is not necessary, nor indeed of any use; for every one must judge according to his own feelings. I merely refer the reader to the original story, that he may see to what extent I have borrowed from it; and am not unwilling that he should find much greater pleasure in perusing it than the drama which is founded upon its contents.
I had begun a drama upon this tale so far back as 1815 (the first I ever attempted, except one at thirteen years old, called Ulric and Ilvina, which I had sense enough to burn), and had nearly completed an act, when I was interrupted by circumstances. This is somewhere amongst my papers in England; but as it has not been found, I have rewritten the first, and added the subsequent acts.
The whole is neither intended, nor in any shape adapted, for the stage.
PISA, February, 1822.
Scene partly on the frontier of Silesia, and partly in
-the Close of the Thirty Years' War.
The Hall of a decayed Palace near a small Town on the
WERNER and JOSEPHINE his wife.
Were it a garden, I should deem thee happy,
Wer. 'Tis chill; the tapestry lets through
Wer. (smiling). Why! wouldst thou have
Let it flow to Until 't is spilt or check'd-how soon, I
Jos. And am I nothing in thy heart?
Wer. (approaching her slowly). But for thee I had been -no matter what, But much of good and evil; what I am Thou knowest; what I might or should have been,
Thou knowest not: but still I love thee,
Shall aught divide us.
[WERNER walks on abruptly, and then approaches Jo
Of early delicacy render more
Wer. It is not that, thou know'st it is
Have borne all this, I'll not say patiently,
These were enough to gnaw into our souls)
Left the path open, yet not without snares. This cold and creeping kinsman, who so long
Kept his eye on me, as the snake upon
Entailing, as it were, my sins upon
My Werner, when you deign'd to choose for bride
That bitter laugh!
Wer. Who would read in this form The high soul of the son of a long line? Who, in this garb, the heir of princely lands? Who, in this sunken, sickly eye, the pride Of rank and ancestry? in this worn cheek And famine-hollow'd brow, the lord of halls Which daily feast a thousand vassals?
Jos. You 120 Ponder'd not thus upon these worldly things,
And worthy by its birth to match with ours. Jos. Your father did not think so, though 't was noble;
But had my birth been all my claim to match
With thee, I should have deem'd it what it is.
Wer. And what is that in thine eyes? Jos. All which it Has done in our behalf, — nothing. Wer. How, nothing? Jos. Or worse; for it has been a canker in Thy heart from the beginning: but for this, We had not felt our poverty but as Millions of myriads feel it, cheerfully; But for these phantoms of thy feudal fathers,
Thou mightst have earn'd thy bread, as thousands earn it;
Or, if that seem too humble, tried by commerce,
Or other civic means, to amend thy fortunes. Wer. (ironically). And been an Hanseatic burgher? Excellent!
Jos. Whate'er thou mightst have been, to me thou art
What no state high or low can ever change, My heart's first choice; which chose thee, knowing neither
Thy birth, thy hopes, thy pride; nought save thy sorrows:
While they last, let me comfort or divide them;
When they end, let mine end with them, or thee!
Wer. My better angel! such I have ever found thee;
This rashness, or this weakness of my temper,
Ne'er raised a thought to injure thee or thine.
Thou didst not mar my fortunes: my own
nature In youth was such as to unmake an empire,