Morning: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

By Wilfred Campbell


    DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

LEONATUS, a noble-minded citizen and merchant of Avos.
VULPINUS, a clever and scheming citizen, who is envious of Leonatus and                would supplant him.
PROTINUS, the chief of the nobility of the city, and father of Varra, who loves           Morning.
SLINK, a creature of Vulpinus.
BLUFF, steward and secretary to Leonatus.
GROWL, SNOUT, GROSS, Plundering schemers who would oppress and rob           the city. 
High Priest of the city.
VARRA, a young noble ,in love with Morning, daughter of Leonatus.
DESPOND, a young noble, the friend of Varra.
POSE, LANGUID, Two decadents who affect the society of the city and preach     
     despair and rottenness.
MORNING, a beautiful young girl, daughter of Leonatus.
LUPINA, a clever and beautiful woman, who loves Varra and schemes with                Vulpinus.
Priests, lords, merchants, people and mob.

MORNING.
_____

ACT I. SCENE I.

    PLACE—House of VULPINUS in the city of Avos.

    TIME—Mythical.

                                Enter VULPINUS, alone.

    VULP.     He must not prosper. Every honor he wears.
But makes my toil the harder. Nature dread
Did fashion deceit to make my soul its dwelling.
I am a man! although I doubt all men.
I practise that I believe not, where others believe
But practise not. Men’s follies add a zest
To foster mine ambitions. Thus I stand:
I leer at life, but rattle its dice along
To hinder happiness, and ink my soul
In petty evils where I shirk the large.
The kind of man I am I’d have you know,
Modern in all things, rounded by a wall
Of small conventions. What is life but this?
Comfort and safety, these two make a world;
Much to cavil at, little to uphold,
With just a spice of what the gods call sin
To build a conscience whereon I may play
The devil’s tune played since this world began.
Life a sensation finely tempered out
To fibred hardiness, desire a flame
To warm your hands at, yea, but not to burn in [Page 205].
Your heroes, statesmen, poets! All veneer,
Cloaks of folly or of humbug all,
To cheat the pride and hide the animal.
Now, he is such, this aged Leonatus,
Trusting, impassioned, impractical in all,
Building high dreams of human consequence,
Deluded by dead histories of old ghosts
Of high achievement, rearing up a dream
That man is godlike, stranding in a mire
Of present impossibilities. Now, me,—
I meet the present, watching for the lie,
To make it slave to opportunity.
To-morrow is to-morrow. Fair or foul,
Kind or sinister its face may be—
But safer far to sip the sure to-day.
I never gained, but eke I never lost;
It is a motto in our family.
I never worked a grossly hideous deed;
In wisdom’s plot it is not necessary
To him, secure, who sanely bides his chance
To climb those ladders of human lust and blood
Built ’gainst the walls of this world’s power and weakness.
I deal not with heroics or ideals;
Fancy or emotion savor not
The sauce that my mind stews in, rather fact—
Cold, hard and brutal, never-bending fact.
The past and future lumber not my dream.
Heredity? Who follows far his tree
May meet a gallows. Better kill the past.
Little it matters us, who find it hard
To kill the present. Now, this kind of man,
This vague, high dreamer, with his skyward gaze,
His bubble words, I ne’er could understand.
He runs too wide, not broken to the traces,
Where ploughs the furrow of this practical world.
He mocks your hopes, your schemes, you cannot use him.
In short, not biddable to the common mind,
He smacks of lunacy. Now, such a man,
To reach the coping-stone, the leadership [Page 206],
And wield the scepter I have waited for,
’Tis mad confusion! Gods! were there a God
I’d say he played me false, to see this man,
Without one scheme, one crooking of his thumb,
Rise up and near the place my whole life’s aim
Hath burned to reach. Haply, indeed, yea,
There is no God, and I am in the right,
Strong in the false, the scheme, the lurking plot,
That moves the issues of this foolish world.
Wreck him? Yea, I will. I’ll use this world
To confuse its high imaginings; its base mud
To kill its miasmas that do rise therefrom.

                                        Enter SLINK

Here comes my plodding ass with golden ears.
(to SLINK) How go my slow ambitions?

    SLINK.     Well, well, my master, solidly and sure,
’Chance may not tumble, but may lose themselves
By overforgetting.

    VULP.     Were it not greater yet to lose your fame
In a greater greatness?
    SLINK.     Your preachments may for others, such poor babble
May catch the silly world, but not for Slink,
Who knows you well. I trust me to the ground
Of solid substance. Put that in your reckoning.

    VULP.     Beware, you, Slink! I, who do doubt all things,
Doubt even dust. This puffball of existence,
Beware its haze, it may deceive you yet.

    SLINK.     Yet all its dust prevents you not to kick it
At opportunity. Nay, you cannot shake
The groundward citadel of my solid hopes.
Were all the office of high existence held,
Virtues, prerogatives, in the nether balance,
I’d take my gold [Page 207].

    VULP.     And drop the plaudits and the gaudy show,
The stilt-walk of this life, in either slime?
    SLINK.     Yea, all of it. ’Tis too hazardous.
    VULP.     Of truth thou art material, but thou art
That iron-ballasted man to do my work.
    SLINK.     Yea, master, and to get paid for it.
    VULP.     Yea. (aside) But my certain, never-soaring friend,
The devil at my elbow, he will see
Thy cellar floor will sell thee in the end,
And seen thee floundering in that very mist
Thy soul abhors, where my doubts even drift.
Not even a toad shall be allowed to stand;
’Twould damn my philosophy. (to SLINK) Now to business.
Where are our sensible friends, the men of plots?

    SLINK.     Even now they come.
    VULP.     And primed?
    SLINK.     Even to the touch-holes, each a ready flame,
To thunder at your concussions.
    VULP.     ’Twill do. But how of this proud girl,
This Morning?
    SLINK.     She is beyond me. Where she swims in light
I may only tiptoe, blink afar.
    VULP.     Curse her! curse her! but even her I doubt;
She is a woman!
    SLINK.     But a large one, far too white and high
For our poor counsels. Yea, she makes me burn
Even in her twilight. She will not leave her father.

    VULP.     She is a woman. The force that built this world
Up out of slimy mud, bred butterflies
To feed on carrion. Fear you not this Morning,
She is a woman—
    SLINK.     And loves Lord Varra.
    VULP.     Sirrah! you hound! you keep your reptile place[Page 208],

Or I will crush you into that same dust
Your soul is made of!

                                                                    [Leaps at him.]
    SLINK.     Master! Pardon, pardon!
    VULP.     Ha! Yea, yea, I am indeed a fool.
A frenzied fool, my wise and trusty Slink.
’Twas but a weakness, a passion of the moment
That stormed and caught me. Did I fright thee, Slink?

    SLINK.     Yea, master, such a madness in thy face,
Thine attitude, it seemed me that thou wert
The devil’s whirlwind roused to sweep me off
And end my plottings.

    VULP.     ’Twas but a passing fit. But mind you, Slink,
I will yet trample her, and him, her author,
Yea, all of them. Doubt I heaven and hell,
And clouds and sun, the very earth itself;
At least, at least, my soul, be sure of this,
Thou’lt drink thy vengeance!

    SLINK.     (aside) He feels, this devil feels; then, mark
            my wisdom,
For all his plots he, too, is lost, is lost!
Amid this vague uncertainty I alone
Walk safe, in soundness.


                                                Enter LUPINA.

    LUP.     Hail, most Cautious! learned Lupinus, hail!
Where is thine egg that hatches certain plot,
That crows loud downfall?

    VULP.     (rising) Hail, most splendid and rarest!
To what high, golden favor of the gods
Do we owe this visit?

    LUP.     Since when hath Vulpin called on any gods,
Save those of evil? Flatter you not so high.
If such there be, who stand in splendid white,
They stand there but to damn.

    VULP.     What new, green jealousy, of envious life,
Hath added this tart of canker to thy tongue [Page 209]?
    LUP.     Jealousy! jealousy! who dares match Lupina
With such a word?
    VULP.     Nay, I but wondered. Who wears your loveliness
Need fear no rival, be she goddess or woman.
But what of Morning?

    LUP.     Ha, thou acid! there thy gratings bite.
I hate that woman with as deep a hate
As thine ambitions—                                                  
[Pauses
    VULP.     Ha! Well?
    LUP.     To supplant her father!
    VULP.     Enough! enough! we understand each other.
    LUP.     May I speak here?
    VULP.     This is my Slink, as safe as mine own shadow.
    SLINK.     Yea, safer!
    LUP.     I know him well. He oft hath tendered me
Duties for golden favors.
    SLINK.     (aside) It is a way I have, for the material
To grant the immaterial, for the solids
To give away the shadow, ha, ha, ha!
Slink, Slink, my soul, sound sense begot thee.

                                                                       [Rubs his hands.
    LUP.     (to VULP) My time is short; what is thy subtle plan,
Thou master of plots?
    VULP.     ’Tis subtler than your deepest thoughts do dream.
    LUP.     Then is it placed in hell or lower down.
    VULP.     It is but this: His power is built on strands
Of vague traditions of the public mind.
A wintry eminence that my flame of spite
May melt in mistiness. He represents
The popular ideal of all that’s good,
Strong with the people, priests and monied men,
For such vague virtues as honor, rectitude,
Piety, and an unrivalled credit,—
In short, to sum up, they, for myriad reasons [Page 210],
Worship in him what they are not themselves.
Now, I do know this rotten, humbug world,
This cancerous garden called Society,
This animal, conglomerated self,
Where each doth dream that he can sin in secret,
And borrow from the common cloak of virtue
Which squat convention mantles over all,
Patched up of creed and cant and wherewithal
Mock-modesty doth curtain the obscene—
I know this myriad maggot’s shallow wit.
They trust in him because he lives their dream;
But when in true coined words he utters it,
’Twill startle them to dread of his bare presence.
Iron is a virtuous force until we dread
That it may fall upon us. Powder a friend,
Till wakens a horrored hint unto our souls
That it may blow us up. So ’tis with these.
As I know life, the bare and brutal truth
Is the most heinous creature blinks the day.
Now, mark me, madam, give me your wit’s aid,
And I will such a picture to you show
Of this base world’s adherence, love’s decline,
You will marvel at it. I will teach you how
The popular god is but an idol gilt
With self-deception; but the pinchbeck mirror
Wherein the public love to glass themselves,
All pure and upright, void of what they are;
Which when it mirrors their true hideousness,
They’d straightway shatter it, as doth the African
Destroy his fetish.

    LUP.     Ha, thus you would? You’d kill him through his virtues?
But what of Morning, will she give Varra up?
    VULP.     Nay, he will give her up. He is too proud,
Too much the patrician he to graft the wreck
Of such a ruined tree.

    LUP.     And then [Page 211]?
    VULP.     Then, madam, your own force, your woman’s wit,
Must garner in this Varra. Mine to destroy,
Or build mine own.

    LUP.     Yea, I am with you just as far—as far—
    VULP.     As you can trust me. So far I with you.
    LUP.     And that is just—
    VULP.     As our self-interests- roads do lie together.
    LUP.     Had you been but a man, you might have been
A soul worth saving.
    VULP.     And what now, madam?
    LUP.     Failure incarnate.
    VULP.     With these deep schemes, these plots to build
My fate?
    LUP.     I half believe me yet that you will fail.
Schemes deep as yours, built on more solid base,
Have basely crumbled. Your very eternal doubt,
Your sinister scoff at all that’s worth living,
But makes me doubt you. You are but the shell,
The puffball mock of some prenatal man
Who wasted his all in some anterior world,
And here sits sneering, gnawing, day by day,
A mask of emptiness.

    VULP.     Nay, more than that. I have in me the acid
That eats on bitter things. I am a file
That, evenly oiled, doth gnaw the iron of life
To show its qualities. Even I serve my purpose.

    LUP.     Well, fare you well, and do you serve me now,
You may convert me.
    VULP.     Nay, rather Varra.                        [Exit LUPINA.
    SLINK.     I like her not.
    VULP.     She is an embodied passion; fear her not.
    SLINK.     She minds me much of lightning, so uncertain
Where she may strike.
    VULP.     Then her uncertainty saves—[Page 212]

                        Enter GROWL, SNOUT and GROSS.

Welcome, good gentlemen, upon the hour;
You show your qualities.

    GROWL.     I hope we can be trusted.
    SNOUT.     We are nothing if not practical.
    GROSS.     Business, then pleasure, close each other run,
But not together.
    VULP.     What is your world?
    GROSS.     Apart from business, gold and all it brings.
    GROWL.     A pipe and my old cash-book are enough;
So keep your world, it is but sorry stuff.
    VULP.     You show me spirits safe, akin to mine.
I speak you plain, I am a man of action.
My creed is fact, my religion common-sense.

    SNOUT.     Good!
    VULP.     Now, hearken. In short, as men who serve the public,
You have ambitions!
    GROWL.     We are not here for nothing.
    SNOUT.     Life is our oyster.
    GROSS.     Yea, we would open it.
    VULP.     With a silver knife.
    SLINK.     (aside) Yea, with a golden one.
    VULP.     Now, in public matters where your interests lie,
You have your plans.
    GROWL.     We have, be we not cheated fools; as practical men
We have our plans.
    VULP.     Then fare them well, when old Leonatus rules.
    SNOUT.     Leonatus?
    VULP.     Yea, Leonatus.
    GROWL.     Leonatus, yea, just the man we want
To blind the public while we soak the lucre
Down out of the treasury[Page 213].

    VULP.     Then you mistake your man!
    GROSS.     Bah! He is too credulous to worry us,
A turret cock to flaunt and bellow words
While we work i’ the cellar.

    SLINK.     (rubbing his hands) Yea, i’ the gold-pits.
    VULP.     ’Tis just where you are fools, you little know
The insensate soul of this inflated idol.
He’ll wreck your fondest and your richest dreams
To gain the popular plaudits. Nay, believe me,
As practical men you want a practical leader.

    GROWL.     What is your plan?
    VULP.     To make this marplot impossible.
    GROWL.     Impossible?
    SNOUT.     Impossible! Leonatus impossible; thou art mad!
Why, sirrah, he owns the city!
    VULP.     Nothing more than each of us might own
Had we the wheedling of this foolish public.
I want your backing. Do you give me aid,
We’ll open this people’s coffers with our nails.

    SNOUT.     Yea, we are yours!
    GROSS.     Yea, doubly so.
    GROWL.     Your plan! Speak out, your plan!
    SNOUT.     Yea, read your plan, wise builder of our fortunes.
    VULP.     My plan is this. To-morrow, in council gathered,
To choose the city’s chiefest senator,
By my connivance secretly arranged,
This old Leonatus will so loose himself
Of infidelities and doctrines dire,
The city will stand astounded, men and gods
Parting in horror from his ruined house.

    GROWL.     You will do this?
    VULP.     I will; but come and see.
    GROSS.     And your reward[Page 214]?
    VULP.     I’d take his place! (all start back) Dost doubt my ability?
    GROSS.     Thou art our man, if thou canst make this wonder,
For evermore.
    SNOUT.     Yea, we will work thine orderings, do thy bring
Us near the coffers.
    GROWL.     Yea, use us well, but play us false and hell
Will seem too mild to what thy fate shall answer.
    VULP.     Nay, fear me not; we are in one ripe cause
That soon will shake its golden fruit upon us.
Now gather all the looser, baser sort,
And when I signal, howl this idol down.                    [All drink wine
We’ll build this government for the men of sense,
And bury the fools who’d cavil at our intents
In their own follied thunders.
    All.     (drinking) Death to Leonatus, life to the coming rule,
The rule of practical men [Page 215]!

CURTAIN.
_____

ACT II. SCENE I.

    PLACE—Home of LEONATUS in the city of Avos.

                                        Enter BLUFF.

    BLUFF.     Welcome to-morrow, when through his master’s name
This Bluff shall rule this city.

                            Enter a Priest, a Merchant and a Lawyer.

    BLUFF.     Good morrow, gentlemen, what is your will with me?
    Priest.     We would see your lord.
    BLUFF.     (aside) Yea, all come to him now. This is my day,
To-morrow ascends my prime. This day three days
I will be half a god. (to them) He now is absent,
But will soon be home.
Could you your business speak, I, as his agent,
Am in his confidence. Yea, with all modesty,
Hold even powers.
    Priest.     (aside) This is our man. (to BLUFF) Sir Bluff, a word with you.
    BLUFF.     Sir Bluff! I am risen already.
    Priest.     Your lord we fear, for all our confidence,
But respect your wisdom. Use your power with him
And you may use us.
    BLUFF.     Honors, I am your servant, your very humble,
The servant of the city and the people,
Being my master’s. Speak, what is your will?
    Lawyer.     You know the public purpose?
    BLUFF.     I know somewhat. We feel our responsibility,
But, being modest, we will do our best [Page 216].
    Priest.     For this same honor that we all do wot of,
I need a pledge that he will aid the priesthood,
And keep them in their struggle with the people.
    BLUFF.     Then you shall have it. Name this special need
And it is yours. (aside) Promises are like June plums, they rot
Ere you can pick them. I will give away
More than Melchizedek, who gave Abram
The spoils of his enemies.
    Priest.     I represent the priesthood of the city.
We ask a tax, a heavy tax on all,
To build our temple.
    BLUFF.     Then is it built, I make my vow, my lord.
You know my lord is pious, and if not,
His servant is.
    Priest.     We know him honorable, spoken well of all,
Therefore he gets our votes. But on this pledge,
Most noble sir,—
    BLUFF.     (aside) Most noble! I am risen to the stars.
    Merchant.     And I stand here to voice the monied men.
    BLUFF.     Most honored, I hold your purse.
    Merchant.     Scarce yet, illustrious!
    BLUFF.     Illustrious? and I have married a wench!
The daughter of a barber heckles me!
Henceforth I’ll know myself; she’ll know me proud!
(to Merchant) Well, noble sir, your servant, the people’s servant,
Awaits your will. You spake of monies?
    Merchant.     The hand that holds my money holds strong power,
And knows in privy when to give or take.
You know full well we hold your master’s credit;
Did we withdraw he were a ruined man!
    BLUFF.     (aside) And I a tailless kite that’s lost its string.
(to Merchant) You would not, noble sir? You would not [Page 217]?
    Merchant.     Nay, he is ours, but for the monied element
We ask a tax to suit our special good.
On this alone, and this, he is elected.
    BLUFF.     ’Tis easy, sirs; my master’s will is yours.
Who are indeed, if you are not, the people?
    Priest.     In sooth we are; see that our will is carried,
Most noble Bluff!                                    [Exit all but BLUFF.
    BLUFF.     Sir! Illustrious! Noble! I am made!
I’ll divorce my wench and marry a great lady,
Breed senators and daughters to the crown.
The die is cast; betwixt the church and state
This rising Bluff is destined to be great.
I’ll get me armor, glaze it on my shield,
And quick forget that I was misbegotten.

                    Enter LEONATUS. BLUFF bends very low.

Hail, Leonatus! most noble master, hail!
    LEON.     Bluff, forbear thy crazes; anger not
Deity with thy mawkish love of pride.
Honor on honor, we still are under God.
    BLUFF.     (aside) He ever crushes me where others raise.
I am myself save only in his presence.
He hath no sense of fitness for a man
Who climbs such golden splendors. (to LEONATUS) Yea, my lord,
But ’tis a mighty office, this, my lord.
    LEON.     All life is great, is sacred to that man
Who holds responsibility. It is not
The millions to tread that makes an emperor, but
The will to rule himself.
    BLUFF.     I much do fear me thou art pitched too high
For this plain city.
    LEON.     Nay, never too high for truth, too lofty for love.
Who have been in mine absence?
    BLUFF.     A deputation of the state who voice
The priesthood and the merchants, who would pledge [Page 218]
Your piety and your interest. (aside) Speak I plain,
I’ll break their eggs before the brood is hatched.
Vague words spell loud, but oft mean less than silence.
(to LEONATUS) in short—that is all—

    LEON.     I honor the priesthood so far as they are God’s.
I am a merchant; they know mine honesty.
I keep their interests and the public weal.
    BLUFF.     I told them so. I spoke you well, my master.
Was I not right?
    LEON.     Yea, speak for me as I will speak to-morrow.
Where is my daughter?
    BLUFF.     She hath gone out, my lord.
    LEON.     When she comes in, see that your send her to me!
    BLUFF.     (going out, aside) He soars too high. I fear we ride to rash,
But Bluff will cling his neck though he doth topple.        [Exit.
    LEON.     Heaven is too good; it makes my head a folly.
Those plaudits ring me yet; where’er I passed
’Twas Hail, Leonatus! Will not she be happy,
My well-beloved, my pure, sweet daughter, Morning?
Now calm my mind and honesty keep my heart.
I stand at brink of some weird eminence,
Too high for what is mortal. I must hold
The iron in me up unto one high thought
Of one grave purpose; truth be with me now,
Nor mock me, if amid this iron of life
I had a dream for my sweet daughter’s sake,
To build a future and an honored house.

                                Enter VULPINUS.

    VULP.     Hail, Leonatus, aged in honor and wealth,
Most happy of men! Even thou, Leonatus,
Must feel a vanity.
    LEON.     And did I, were it not a natural feeling?
What man reached honors honestly who ne’er felt
Their golden radiance, but tempered surely
With iron responsibilities [Page 219]?
    VULP.     Then I’ve a doubt if there be not a rift
’Twixt true success and solid piety,
This life ne’er crost.
    LEON.     Vulpin, it seemeth me for all my years,
Thou art the older by an age of ages.
Didst ever enjoy a passion, indulge a hope,
Or feel a touch of springtime in thy blood,
A glad enthusiasm or an ecstasy?
Is life all evilment? Then wherefore live?
    VULP.     It is this very doubt that keeps me living.
My doubt of life but breeds my dread of death.
Did I doubt nothing I would die to-morrow,
To dare the net span of immortality.
But I doubt all things, even mine own self,
And chief of all I doubt thee and these honors
Life gilds about thee, that their base is true.
I doubt the source of thy vague reputation,
That very honor which men laud thee for.
    LEON.     If all were life thee, life would sink in ruins.
    VULP.     And better it did. If thou didst only know
This rotten apple to which thou art the bloom,
This fetid carcase that gilds thee as its horn,
Thou wouldst then wonder at thy credulity.
    LEON.     Nay, I know it not, nor would I know it
As thou dost know; better an age of dark
Than knowledge such as thine.
    VULP.     Then thou wilt know to-morrow.
    LEON.     To-morrow?
    VULP.     Yea, then indeed, if thou art what thou sayest.
I tell thee, Leonatus, to-morrow thou wilt find
Thy senatorship the pledge of foul corruption.
    LEON.     What meanest thou, thou slanderer of a people?
To me? Leonatus? What pledge have my acts spoken,
That thy foul thoughts should taint the air I breathe
With such insinuation? Begone, thou maggot!
Never! As I am a man, I rule in honor
Or not at all [Page 220]!
    VULP.     (aside) This tower of wrath can thunder at my lance.
(to LEONATUS) Then thou wilt never rule; thou canst not scale
This golden public will and keep thy truth.
    LEON.     I seek it not. If it hath come to me,
It comes through years of honest care and toil
To aid the general good. I follow it not,
But doth it come I take its burden up,
A high responsibility sent from God
Enlarging my work here.
    VULP.     So far ’tis well. But thou wilt surely find
Thou art not master, where a snarling pack
Of lucre-hunters squabble at thy heels;
Where at thy councils plot and treason sit
To use thine honesty or to tear it down;
Where louse-like creatures dwell in their conceits,
Who live on public folly, parasites
Who batten on the revenues, keep the keys,
Nohap who rules, and lackey at all doors
That lead to loud preferment; Janus-like,
Sponging for party at the state’s expense,
So that they prosper, nohap who may sink
Or rise to splendors. Further, thou wilt find,
Man is so blinded, these political leeches
Are stronger even than the public rage
Which party lulls or reddens at its will.
    LEON.     Where I do go justice shall go with me,
And simple truth. These should rule a world.
The people ask for right, and they shall have it,
Or I’m no senator.
    VULP.     Or what the priesthood call it. Dost thou think
That thou canst rule without a priest or merchant
Buzzing like carrion flies at either ear?
    LEON.     Yea, under God. The priesthood are His teachers
Where they are right, but human liberty asks
No final judge but man’s God-given conscience [Page 221].
    VULP.     Then thou art not orthodox.
    LEON.     I believe in God and His eternal laws,
Founded on justice, truth and liberty.
    VULP.     Hast thou any favored classes?
    LEON.     None. I am for the man, the man alone.
The ruler of a state should rule for all.
Meting out, in equal measure parcelled,
Perfect justice, perfect liberty.
    VULP.     Wilt say all this to-morrow?
    LEON.     Yea, and more.
    VULP.     Then wilt thou never be a senator.
    LEON.     I cannot believe it that the people lie
In such corruption as thy mind doth picture;
That they reject all honor, truth and right.
Thou art a crow, a bird of carrion mind,
Perched upon thy sordid limb of life,
Seeing ever only the rotten side.
    VULP.     Each soul is free to see as sense dictates.
    LEON.     God made the dome-walls of this splendid world,
Carpet it as you may. I choose to dream
Its vaster splendors in His vaster light—
That man is built in visions of splendid might,
And not in sinister smallness, shriveled up
In base conceptions.
    VULP.     Wait, thou wilt see to-morrow, and if thou dost?
    LEON.     Then let it come. I only will do right
And leave the rest to God.
    VULP.     Thou leavest much to God. Even thy daughter
Would not do so much.
    LEON.     My daughter! my daughter, sirrah! what of her?
    VULP.     She is our fairest, worthy of all pride,
Worthy a throne. And yet, and yet, Leonatus,
Thou wouldst wreck her fortunes [Page 222].
    LEON.     Thou hast me there upon the weaker side.
I would go far, short of dishonor’s gate,
To make her happy. Do you think her set
So strong up in this?
    VULP.     So strong upon it that her very life,
Her happiness, is founded on it. Do
You call yourself her father and not know
Your daughter’s life, her hope, is in this Varra?
    LEON.     Yea, I have seen it. Doth he make her happy,
’Tis all I ask.
    VULP.     But wherefore all so blind as not to see
That in your daughter he marries not alone
The woman he loves, but the future senator’s daughter?
    LEON.     Sirrah, read your evil side o’ life,
But slander not young Varra! Did I dream
He held my daughter such poor property
As second to advantage in this world,
I’d rather see her dead, a thousand times,
Than wed, his wife. Nay, thou lovest to cavil.
Even to hearken to thine evil thoughts
Insulteth all that’s living. Thou dost go
About earth’s gardens seeking for her blights,
Her poison flaws, revelling in defect.
Were I as thee I’d seek some speedy death
And quickly end me. Life is not one ill,
One grievous fester, poisoning this world;
But built of purpose, splendid, vast in promise
For him who walks in reverence.
    VULP.     Thy aims are high.
    LEON.     I speak not for the brutal, but the men
Who hope and feel and love and hate, and toil
Toward life’s white headlands, fixed on its white stars.
These are my mariners, battlers on the road
From past to future.

                                    Enter MORNING.

    MORN.     Father, they said you wanted me [Page 223].
    LEON.     Yea, so I did; but here his Vulpinus
Would make me think these glories all a rainbow
Shattered in its own sunlight.
    MORN.     Ah, Vulpinus!
    VULP.     Madam, hail!
    MORN.     Let me look into thy very soul!         [Gazes at him.
    VULP.     What see you there?
    MORN.     I see a muddy pool, wherein a serpent
Goes coiling ever, biting its own tail.
    VULP.     Ha! ha! (uneasily, aside) With what a scorn she scorns me!
            (to her) But, madam,
At least I am that one true thing, myself,
You will give me credit.
    MORN.     I’ll credit you for nought, you are too much
In debt to nature for what she first did lend you.
    VULP.     Then I am bankrupt.
    MORN.     Bankrupt? Hadst thou feelings thou mightst be pitied.
    VULP.     And what of you?
    MORN.     (coldly) I am my father’s daughter.
    VULP.     And heiress to life’s unhappiness. Fare you well!
(to LEONATUS) Fare you well, Leonatus, till to-morrow!
                                                                                      [Exit.
    MORN.     Father, why hold that horrid man so close
Upon your confidence? He is a breathing sneer,
A creeping hatred of they very sun
And all that’s holy. Life must breed a curse
Where his soul enters.
    LEON.     I like him not; and yet I see in him
A subtle, keen and iron-pointed wit.
Throughout our city he doth hold a power
Would make another man.
    MORN.     I like him not; his eyes hold such an envy
Of all our happiness. I sometimes fancy
He means no good and tenders you a harm [Page 224].
    LEON.     Fear not, my child. I fear nor him nor other.
Be we but true to our own higher selves
No spirit of ill may harm us. Now, my child,
We will forget him in the dream of good
The morrow brings us.
    MORN.     Yea, father, my heart is glad to know that you,
The honored and the wise, are chosen thus
To fill the civic chair. It gives me joy
To know you are my father.                                [Kisses him.
    LEON.     This is my happiest moment: even the plaudits
Of old and young, of splendid and of wise,
When I sit yonder, crowned in sceptred state,
Were not so sweet as thus to know your love.
I only pray that in this white old head
There may be wisdom; in this worn old heart
True purity to rule this people well.
But, Morning, my daughter, what of thine own heart?
    MORN.     Father?                                     [Looks down
    LEON.     Come, come, my daughter, trust your fond old father.
    MORN.     Father, what mean you?
    LEON.     You know I have a rival; what of Varra?
    MORN.     You know I love him, father!
    LEON.     How much, my child?
    MORN.     As much as my mother, who gave her love thee.
    LEON.     Yea, I am happy in your happiness,
And will be happier soon; to-day his father
Bespoke me on it.
    MORN.     Father?
    LEON.     All is arranged; to-morrow the chief senator
Proclaims his daughter trothed to young Lord Varra;
Mine honored office mates his noble house
And makes us equal.
    MORN.     But father [Page 225]?
    LEON.     Morning, my child, I have watched you all these years,
Have seen you grow before me life a flower;
So like your mother; it would break my heart
To know you were not happy.
    MORN.     Father, I love you so, I’m not afraid
To say to you that only Heaven doth know
How much I love him.
    LEON.     Oh, my child!
    MORN.     Father, forgive me if I speak the truth.
    LEON.     Then you could not give him up?
    MORN.     Father, what mean you?                [Starts back.
    LEON.     Nought, my child; but did some terrible dream,
Some barrier of human iron of life,
But come between you, could you give him up?
    MORN.     Father! Ask me not: this is
Too terrible!
    LEON.     Could you not, Morning, for thy conscience’ sake?
    MORN.     O nature, nature, this is too, too dread!
Father, my father, why must you try me thus?            [Weeps.
                                        [Voice of VARRA outside, calling.
    LEON.     Ha! there he is! Kiss me, my child, and go!
Love calls, love calls, this other love must go.
    MORN.     (going, then coming back) Father, you understand! you                 understand!
    LEON.     (embracing her) I do, my child, I do; now go, now go!
    MORN.     Nay, I will not; he must come here for me!
Here at your heart!

                                        Enter VARRA.

    LEON.     Hail, Varra!
    VAR.     Hail, Leonatus! Hail, my sweet, true Morning!
    LEON.     Take her, Varra, the sweetest, purest bud
That ever loved a childish, weak old man [Page 226].
I give her to thee, and as thou dost serve her
May God serve thee!
    VAR.     I meet the event; the gods have given me that
Which only gods deserve![Goes out with MORNING.
    LEON.     Yea, as he treats her, let his fate treat him.
I had not dreamed it was as deep as this!
I live it over all again in her.
She is my child; God help her if he be
A shallow surface! This indeed doth make
My path the harder. Yet, in face of all,
This direst consequence I will meet to-morrow.
Senator or no, Leonatus will be
True to his God, his people and himself [Page 227].

CURTAIN.
_____

ACT III. SCENE I.

    PLACE—A public hall in Avos.

Enter a crowd of citizens and retainers, Councillors and the LORD PROTINUS,         father to VARRA, who ascends a throne. Priests in a crowd on one side;         merchants in a crowd on the other. Enter VULPINUS, SLINK, SNOUT,         GROWL, GROSS, followed by a rabble who scatter through the audience.         Enter several ladies, among them MORNING and LUPINA; and, with         several friends, LEONATUS, followed by VARRA, and BLUFF, who stand         apart.

                                (Loud cries outside. Hail, Leonatus, hail!)

    PROTINUS.      Most noble lords and citizens of Avos,
We are in session now assembled here,
Under the gods, in this fit public presence
To choose our city’s chiefest senator.
The people’s choice is he who rules himself,
In face of gods and men well thought of all
In piety and rule of public deed.
We have one such, the good Leonatus.

                           (Voices. Hail, Leonatus!)

    VULP.      Most noble lord!
    PROT.      Speak, what is thy will?
    VULP.      It is a custom, by our ancient laws,
That when the city chooses its chief lord
To that high office honored by yourself
And others noble, to the public weal;
That he should pledge him to the public mind,
Here ’mid the priests and citizens of the state;
And, should a doubt arise of his integrity [Page 228],
He may be challenged by the several guilds
Which represent us.
    PROT.      This is custom of late, it seems me, hath been honored
More in the breach than in its strict observance.
    VULP.      Our ancient customs should not thus decline;
They stand for freedom and the public weal.
It is a sign of lack of piety,
A falling off from those old holy laws
By which we showed obedience to the gods.
    Chief Priest.      He speaketh truth. The city groweth too lax.
To keep the public faith from falling off
Into a warping infidelity,
’Tis needful that our rulers show their trust
In those dread doctrines of our ancient faith.
    Other Priests.      ‘Tis right and just; and we, as one, demand it.
    PROT.      ‘Tis but a form. We grant it, reverend sirs.
Leonatus, our city’s trusted son,
Honored and reputed all these years,
Will gladly meet this custom.
    LEON.      ’Tis my wish, most noble Protinus.
    GROWL.      And I, who speak for several ancient guilds,
For safety of old customs and old rights,
Would also question Leonatus.
    PROT.      Your prayer is granted, though ’tis obsolete;
No ancient law unchanged must go unchallenged.
    VULP.      Yea, wise Protinus, piety and prudence
Would help us ’scape the penalties of the gods.
These holy men who wait on Deity
And veil its thunders, should we not respect
Their high prerogatives?
    BLUFF.      O rare Vulpinus! thou pillar of religion!
    A Councillor.      This mocking giber hath grown sudden pious [Page 229].
    VULP.      And these most powerful merchants! Owe we not
A gratitude from the city which their toil
And care and wit and opulence hath built?
    PROT.      (aside) It is an able advocate he grows!
I had not thought he had it in his brain.
    A Councillor.      But the people?
    Priests and Merchants.      We are the people!
    PROT.      Most noble Leonatus, stand you forth in presence
Of these true senators of our ancient city
Who choose you for this high and ancient office,
The greatest in their gift. We honor you,
Our gravest and our noblest citizen,
Well known among us; upright, wise and pious;
Fulfilling your duty unto gods and men.
Ere we administer the final oath,
Standing there before Almighty Heaven,
Speaking as only to the holy gods,
See that you answer to the councilors
Who give you challenge.
    Councillors.      Hail, Leonatus!
    BLUFF.      He is a god, and I his chiefest servant!
    LEON.      Most noble Protinus, lords and fellow-councillors,
For this I thank you. If I have a thought,
It is my sense of great unworthiness
For this high office. It I never sought:
But, seeking me, I take it with a prayer
That truth be mine, and grave responsibility.
This is mine answer to your sober choice.
(to the High Priest) Now, Reverent Sir, I wait your pious question.
    High Priest.      Leonatus, our city’s faithful son,
Amid the power and splendor of this world,
Which shifts and passes, men should never lose
Their sense of duty to the immortal gods [Page 230].
Now we, who represent the ancient creeds,
Those truths which, crumbling, Heaven would fall upon us
In direst anger—we, the holy priests,
In name of Heaven and gods demand a tax,
A heavy tax, be laid upon our city
To rear once more the ruin of our temple.
    LEON.      A tax! you ask a tax?
    High Priest.      We do, my lord.
    LEON.      You do not mean revival of that tax,
That tyrannous burden our fathers abrogated
In the last revolution!
    High Priest.      We do, my lord. The times are ripe again.
The gods have waited. Now we must regain
Our olden powers, our ancient privileges.
    LEON.      I grant it not. I never will rebind
Old tyrannous burdens on a franchised people.
    High Priest.      The people, Leonatus! We speak for the people.
We who rule their fears, who loose or bind,
Who hold their dreads and hopes, who guide their minds,
We are the people!
    LEON.      ’Tis mad! ’tis tyrannous!
    High Priest.      Tyrannous, sirrah! Dare you say religion
Can act a tyranny?
    LEON.      Most Reverend, whatever is unjust
Creates a tyranny.
    VULP.      Ha! he blasphemes!
    BLUFF.      My master! He beards the priests! Oh, he is lost,
And I am misbegotten!
    High Priest.      Leonatus, you dare? You dare think thus?
    LEON.      I dare but think the truth.
    High Priest.      I ask you here—you who do dare assume
The highest office religion allows the State [page 231]
To grant you—here, in presence of your peers,
What is your duty to the holy priesthood?
    LEON.      To follow their teachings in so far as they
Are God’s.
    High Priest.      So far as they are God’s? Man, you blaspheme!
    Councillors.      Can we have known this man?
    VULP.      He shows himself! Soon will he be as bare
As any waste land.
    BLUFF.      Now am I damned, who tagged to such a master!
    LEON.      Blaspheme, forsooth! Am I a waking dream,
Or you the phantoms, that truth could be a lie?
I speak buy my convictions. I am here
To deal in rectitude.
    PROT.      Leonatus, beware! You go too far!
    LEON.      I go too far? If but to reach the truth
Affronts this dizzy eminence, I am
Too low for it.
    High Priest.      What is your creed?
    LEON.      My creed? You ask my creed? You who have lived
So close to my ambitions all these years;
Have weighed my deeds, my aims, mine every act
In life’s sharp balance; have known me from my birth;
Do ask my creed?—then I refuse to answer!
Here is my life, its pages all these years,
Doth it not tell you? Then no lie of mine,
Lanterned in the very light of truth,
Could climb unto your favor.
    High Priest.      Then you are infidel?
    LEON.      If but to love the truth, to hate the lie,
To seek for Deity in every door of life
Is to be infidel, then I am infidel.
    High Priest.      Then you have a faith?
    LEON.      I have a faith, a dim but trusting faith [Page 232],
That they who climb to God must reach to Him
Across the nobleness and self-denial,
The glory, honor and truth and high resolve
And all that lifts and makes a splendor here.
    High Priest.      Then you would fight the priesthood?
    LEON.      I fight nothing that is true and pure.
Only the evil.
    High Priest.      Then our tax is evil?
    LEON.      What else but evil which would oppress a city
And sink its liberties?
    High Priest.      This man blasphemes the gods!
                                                            [Uproar among priests.
    PROT.      Leonatus, this is terrible! We had not thought
That you were such a man!
    VULP.      (aside) Nor did he know it himself—who readeth now,
Who would be mover of the mob’s wild will,
His true picture in the public heart,
And damns himself in the doing.
    LEON.      Nor I myself. Have I a single friend
Who will say my words are truth?
                                                    [His friends all leave him.
    All.      We cannot! we cannot!
    GROWL.      My lord, I, too, would ask Leonatus
Would he be favorable to a public tax
To encourage business.
    LEON.      What! Another tax? What gross madness this
Of grim oppression now hath caught you?
    GROWL.      Then for the merchants I would speak, my lord,
We are with the priests.
    PROT.      Leonatus, you are discarded!
    LEON.      This is a marvelous world!
    VULP.      (aside) Now is my chance! (to Senators)
            Most noble Senators,
This tax is just. The city must be ruled [Page 233]
By prudence and wisdom. Poor Leonatus
Sees but in visions. We who deal with facts
Read stern necessity in the public needs.
    Priests and Merchants.      (urged by GROWL, SNOUT, and SLINK)             Vulpinus! Vulpinus! Give us the wise Vulpinus!
    PROT.      Vulpinus is elected.
    All.      Hail, Vulpinus!
    PROT.      Vulpinus, take my chair; I give you place;
Your wisdom is your power. (to LEONATUS) Leonatus,
We must hereafter be as strangers. You
Have read yourself a fool.
    LEON.      A fool, to love the truth! to keep the right!
Heaven be merciful to a poor old man,
Rebuked by superior evidence that this world
Is not what he would have it! Is there no friend
Would even whisper me right?—is there not one?
    A Councillor.      Leonatus, we dismiss you. You are mad,
Or have a devil!
    LEON.      Nay, I am rock to this. Though all alone,
I keep the truth.
    VULP.      My lords, I have a painful duty to perform.
There is another law among our statutes,
That if a man who be proved infidel
Shall be convict of any overt act
To seize high office, under these our laws
He shall be outlawed, his goods confiscate,
And he condemned to banishment or death.        [Many start.
    PROT.      Is this the edict?
    VULP.      It is, my lord. ’Tis graven in our laws.
    MORN.      (starting in horror) Father! oh, my father!
(to VULP.) Thou subtle devil! Now I sound thy deeps!
But, be it for ages, thou shalt not succeed!
(to the Priests) You would not do this! See, he is my father [Page 234]!
     VULP.      Hold her back! (ascends the rostrum) We will be merciful.
We will ’void death and grant him banishment.
    LEON.      Nay, grant me death! I would not live one hour,
Knowing this world at its face value now!
    MORN.      Father!
    LEON.      My child, keep firm and trust in God. These fiends
May work their worst: I conquer in the end.
    VULP.      Lord Priest, do your duty. By our law
The infidel is by a special curse
Shut out from all. Do you pronounce him the ban.
    LEON.      Curse me, banish me, do what you will:
Bastioned in truth, these white old hairs defy you!
    High Priest.      (coming forward and lifting his hands)
Back from him! He is outcast from his kind!
    MORN.      (throws herself on her knees) Nay, nay, do not this ill! He
            never wronged you!
You know not all the good that he hath done.
The poor should rise in blessing at his name.
He is a simple man, whose pious heart
Hath ever leaned toward truth. Ye would not curse him?
By my youth, a daughter’s tears, I beg you
Do not this hideous act! ’Twill bring a curse
On your whole city!
    High Priest.      Back, girl, you plead in vain!
    MORN.      Then I appeal to Heaven from your ill.
Yea, I look up
From your injustice to the heart of God!
    VULP.      Remove the girl!
    MORN.      Father!
    VULP.      Now draw the line!
        [The High Priest and Priests circle about LEONATUS.]
    High Priest.      Henceforth thou art accursed, from thy race [Page 235]
Shut out, from kindred, friendships, fellow-men;
The very dogs shall shun thee on the street.
    MORN.      Nay, father!
            [Would go to him. VARRA would hold her back.
(to VARRA) And thou?
    VAR.      I love thee, Morning! Stay, oh, stay with me!
I love thee as my life; but he is doomed.
    MORN.      And I love thee: wilt thou, then, come with me?
    VAR.      Where?
    MORN.      There where my father stands!
    VAR.      I dare not! ’Tis too terrible! O Morning,
I cannot go!
    MORN.      Never!
            [Rushing forward and clasping her father, who stands alone.
Though all forsake you, you are not alone!
    LEON.      Great Heaven, be kind! My daughter, my poor daughter!
    MORN.      (turning to the High Priest and speaking in loud command) Now,             Sir, God
waits! Now curse his daughter, too [Page 236]!

CURTAIN.
_____

ACT IV. SCENE I.

    PLACE—House of VARRA in the city of Avos.

    TIME—A year later.

                                        Enter VARRA alone.

    VAR.     Now I am damned by mine own puerile nature;
And for a base, brute cowardice of the blood,
An innate fear, a credulous heredity,
Have lost forever a flower and star of women.
Why have I sunk to shame my manhood thus,
Which stood upon foundations of a soul,
Strong, clear, emancipate from superstition,
To be the puppet of a weak convention
Which drags the dregs of our humanity down?
I am no more the Varra that I was,
But some poor shadow of my former hopes.
I wake at morn heart-hungered for her voice,
That ever haunts me as the evening wind
Or stars of midnight, ever elusive, raised
To some far height. This is my destiny,
To writhe forever upon this bed of death
Of my poor hopings, dregs of a weak soul
That knew not truth and golden opportunity;
And call forever in vain on one loved name.
Morning! lost, true Morning!

                       Enter POSE, LANGUID and DESPOND.

    VAR.     (coldly) Good morrow, gentlemen!
    LANG.     Ah, we are short this morning!
    POSE.     Rather should you say, our friend is not in form.
    DESP.     (to VARRA) What demon hath seized you?
You are not yourself [Page 237].
    VAR.     Say, rather, Varra now hath found himself
A hollow cocoon, blowing in the wind
Of some dead wasted summer, whence hath flown
That shining golden chrysalis of youth,
Oh, never to return!
    LANG.     Ah! why not summon your doctor? Bleeding and physic
Will medicine you unto a lighter spirit.
Would hear Pose’s sonnet?
    VAR.     Fiends of darkness! No! I am quite damned already!
    POSE.     Yea, hear it, Varra. It hath just the touch
To ease you from those grosser common feelings
And lift you to that fine artistic mood.
A flout on feelings! What are feelings but
The uses of art? The impression is what we want!
Color, rhythm, nature’s greens and violets:
The pose, the form, the effect, the true perspective!
Art is this, never to express
The common, the formless; ever to eschew
The painful, or those horrid things men call
Realities. It deals with sweet suggestions
Of soul impressions, caught from azure edges
Of the inevitable.
    VAR.     Stop him!
Or crush him with a bootjack! My whole soul
Lifts its gorge to hear him. This base art,
Which stands to-day for all that’s base in life,
That fills the bill to all that’s shallow and sensual,
That never knew a pure or holy feeling,
That shrivels nature’s splendors down to “tone,”
Her greatest dreams to base inanities,
In name of literature; so far removed
Are its disciples, false, from love and life,
That if they ever knew the real and true,
Their souls have long forgotten. This, your art!
It stands for will to paint this pinchbeck city,
Its putrid sores and festering emptiness [Page 238],
And catalogue its vile enormities
As pale impressions, symbols of somewhat
Which neither reason nor holiness ever knew.
Heaven as far from you as its great blue,
Even hell too real to harbor your vile crew.
Ye are a nastiness, where lack of thought
Is gravest sin; where shallow conceit skips in
Those perilous paths angels would fear to tread.
You chronicle life’s greatness in your jargon,
Jabbering the letter who never the spirit knew,
But fled from its pure wings as from a horror.
    LANG.     Our Varra is crazed! What will Lupina say?
    POSE.     I am o’erwhelmed! This will spoil my spirit
For most a week. This philistine tirade
Doth shatter the idealities!
    VAR.     Begone, ye painted dolls, ye pointed beards!
Weak, strutting chatterers in the form of men!
Effeminate slanderers of the man that was!
Base canters of the vilest cant, more base
Than base religion! Louse harpies on this heap,
This carrion heap of what was once a mountain
Of human greatness! Ye who have helped to damn
Weak souls like mine!
        [Exeunt POSE and LANGUID, VARRA driving them out.
    DESP.     Varra, my friend, what means this sudden frenzy?
    VAR.     Would Heaven there came a whirlwind would sweep out
That purblind crew and all their shameless kind,
And clear this world of carrion. Would to Heaven
That I were man to do it!
    DESP.     Why, late you honored those men, you called them friends.
    VAR.     Did I? Then I was fool who stooped so low;
In manhood’s name, they never were my friends.
Doth not each strut the dandy, puerile fop,
Each face enmask the mummery and the lie,
That barren lack of all which is sincere [Page 239]
And truly noble? Why doth not life awake
And break these butterflies upon the wheel
Of some rude overthrow?
    DESP.     You do surprise me!
    VAR.     Yea, I do feel like one of sudden waked
From some foul sleep, to find his best life’s morning
Gone on ahead, and he left far behind!
    DESP.     Couldst thou not rise and overtake it yet?
    VAR.     Overtake! Couldst overtake the wind
That blew rose-petals round thy golden youth,
That waked the sunbeam mornings long ago;
The streams that sang thy childhood to the sea;
Those splendid sunsets dipped beyond life’s ocean?
Then might I catch my longings! Nay, we are
But broken towers of dreams that might have been;
Poor waifs of some old manhood on the shore
Of human wreck that never harbored men,
Save old Leonatus!
    DESP.     Leonatus? Thou, too, hast harbored him
In higher thought?
    VAR.     Despond, dost thou not know he was our greatest?
Too splendid, towering, vastly capable,
For this doomed people who hath sunk to sleep
All self-compunction. He was in truth a man,
Who faced the morning, while the cringing bats
Blinked round the twilight where his loftier gaze
Read higher hopes above the lower moan
And iron writhings of the surfs of life.
Yea, Despond, mark you well, he was a soul
Who would be all or nothing! Compromise?
He? Never! He was all of the mountains, looking up
To their great tops; where in earth’s vaster dooms,
Ever the great ones, splendid of old days,
Went out with God alone. So he hath gone,
Lost, lost to us and this poor city’s doom.
    DESP.     Then we are done. This canker eats my heart,
Forever and forever; day and night [Page 240],
I hate myself, and all that dwells therein.
My soul is all a furnace of revolt
Against all nature. And this mood of thine
Hath opened my floodgates, erstwhile closed by shame.
    VAR.     Thou, too, hast suffered in long-passioned silence!
    DESP.     Yea, truth!
Alone we came into this world; alone
We tread its awful corridors; alone
We go blindfold adown its dusks of death.
No loneliness so lonely as this dread
Soul-loneliness:--Varra, I am resolved
To end this being!—
    VAR.     Nay, nay; thou shalt not. Thou art in a sleep,
A moral sleep, wherein the soul doth walk
As one who dreams!
    DESP.     Once I was all a visionary spirit,
Filled with rich dreams of loftiness and love
That made life splendid, till I met Vulpinus.
    VAR.     Vulpinus! He, that arch-conspirator!
That toad upon this dunghill of our dreams!
Who hath the keys of vile iniquity,
And battens his iron doors on our poor hopes!
    DESP.     I loved a maid; I thought her all life’s good,
Its beauty and its morning dream to me.
Thou knowest the thrill! I lived upon her presence,
As flowers dwell in the sunlight, satisfied;
Till this Vulpinus slowly sowed a seed,
A graft of hideous doubt within my soul
And wrecked its morning.
    VAR.     He lied!
    DESP.     Nay, he never lied!
Love was too strong to break upon a lie.
His genius was to show the evil side;
And truth grim evil’s surest instrument
When subtly used. He but showed me truth,
And opened mine eyes.
    VAR.     Opened your eyes to what [Page 241]?
    DESP.     He showed me she was mine in seeming only:
That though I should possess her evermore,
She was not mine, but, like a vagrant wind,
There lived an hundred adulteries in her eyes,
Each day and hour, to pleasure other men.
    VAR.     But, she was yours?
    DESP.     In person only, and her wifely will
Would have been mine; but those rare finest fancies,
Those blossoms of love, longings of heart and brain,
I could not claim them, they were never mine.
I am not a brute. I could not wed a maid,
Were she however sweet and pure in act,
And dutiful and fond in outward mien,
And feel that somewhere hidden in her soul
There burned ideals of some possible man
I could not realize. ’Twould breed a madness,
A dread confusion, wrecking heart and brain
And all existence.
    VAR.     Then ’twas this wrecked you?
    DESP.     I ne’er was wrecked who ne’er was in a storm;
But, all unlaunched, upon the shores of being
I lie, unheeding all, unheeded still.
Unto the brute I could not all descend,
So drifted idly, neither good nor ill;
A creature without effort, aim or will;
But ever at my heartstrings that old pain
At this dread life and its brute mystery.
    VAR.     Thou art a spirit marred by maladmixture
Of Nature’s elements. Let me patch thee up,
And launch thee on this sea of our rude woes,
And make an end with me, or, striving, dare
Grim, muffled destiny.
    DESP.     What meanest thou?
    VAR.     I mean to late achieve, with broken wing,
That flight of daring our spirits had long essayed
Had we been like Leonatus.
    DESP.     What flight of daring [Page 242]?
    VAR.     This vile Vulpinus must be hounded down
From off his dunghill of this city’s ill,
Where, foul usurper, he hath perched o’er long.
    DESP.     And you! you would do this?
    VAR.     The people call me. Even in my sleep
I hear the cry of suffering multitudes,
The credulous poor, long battened on by leeches,
Sinister, sensual, of the public blood.
    DESP.     And who will back you?
    VAR.     The people. They shall bleed
To purge this cancer that doth need the knife.
Hourly from each home there rises up
A piteous cry to Heaven, shaming our silence.
I, too, loved a woman, as thou knowest,
But ruined my life and lost her by my folly.
We are but wrecks, but perchance we may yet
Tumble this heap of our foiled destinies.
    DESP.     Yea, I am with you, failure that I am.
It is but death, and come it in what form,
Its face is welcome.
    VAR.     Then come to-night. The truth I tell you now.
The city is aroused. A loyal band,
Stern and resolved, do rally at my back
To wreak grim vengeance on Vulpinus’ horde
And restore Leonatus, whom they now deplore
And greatly long for. Bring a trusted friend,
If thou hast any. We will pitch our fortunes
On this rude downfall.
    DESP.     But what of this thy marriage? Hast no thought
Of fair Lupina?
    VAR.     Lupina? In this going she will go.
Forced was she on mine idle apathy.
But now I’m roused, I’ll lift a sea of troubles
And throw them from me. Am I yet a man
Who dreamed of Morning, would take this passion-flame
To cherished wifehood? Be upon the hour;
To-night at midnight Vulpin’s sun doth set.
                                                                        [Both go out. [Page 243]
[Stage darkens. After a pause, sounds without as of men fighting, clash of         arms and battle calls. After a time, enter VARRA and others, with swords,         and assisting DESPOND, who staggers, sword in hand.
    VAR.     We triumph at last. The city now is ours,
And vile Vulpinus fled! How that loved name,
Leonatus, did fire the multitude
And sweep oppression back like some foul tide!
    DESP.     (feebly) Ah, Leonatus!
    VAR.     But thou, my friend!
                                                  [Supporting him as he falls.
    DESP.     Hath won his end at last.
The loneliness is ended; gladly now
Into the greater loneliness I go.
    VAR.     (laying him tenderly down) High, life-marred spirit, too late I
            knew thy worth;
But art a conqueror even in thy death!
(rising and turning to his followers) Now we go forth to find Leonatus,
Our city’s greatest. He shall be our King!
    All.     Leonatus! Leonatus [Page 244]!

CURTAIN.
_____

ACT V. SCENE I.

    PLACE—A hut in the forest.

    TIME—Autumn evening.

Enter, from forest,
LEONATUS, aged, feeble and poorly clad, carrying a         bundle of sticks. He proceeds to build a fire.

    LEON.     I am a poor old man, a poor old man,
Outcast, forsaken! God has rebuked my pride.
I am so old, so feeble and so old,
Cast off and beggared in my wintered age!
Is there no one to chafe these poor old hands
That erstwhile granted favors?


                                    Enter MORNING.

    MORN.     Father, what do you?
    LEON.     I am Leonatus the woodgatherer, dost know, my child?
Who, once a senator, angered the awful heavens
By his presumption. Do you know me, child?
Though cursed and outcast I am yet your father.

    MORN.     Father! hear me, father! I love you yet.
                                               [She kneels and takes his hands.
Believe me, father, I am yet your daughter.
    LEON.     Nay, I am outcast, none dare love me now!
But let me whisper it, child: though they deny me,
I yet believe in God! Ha, ha! Hush, hush!
The stars might hear me, the icy-fingered night
Might cruelly punish!
                                                [Whispers.
    MORN.     O terrible nature, white and pitiless stars,
Undying, mighty ones who measure all [Page 245],
And sift the futile through the million years,
Is there nought in your majesty and power
To help this poor old man? O God! O God!
Father, come within!

    LEON.     Nay, Morning, let me stay. I love this night;
It is not human, it hath a kindly look;
It speaks me peaceful, eyes me not askance,
And makes me one with all its majesty;
Holds recompense unto the poor old man
For all that love hath suffered, life hath lost.
God is not merciless, dost thou think, my child?

    MORN.     Nay, father.
    LEON.     Why did they drive me out? Why is this winter
So cold and pitiless to these poor old hands?
They never denied any, never hurt a soul;
I ever did love my fellows! Why am I
The spite and sport of ice and wind and snow,
A palsied spectre? Speak to me, my child.
I am so lonely, so close moored to death,
So much a shadow wandering ’mid the shadows,
I may not know the evil from the good,
The night from morning. Did God punish me
For my presumption? Or are their lies a truth,
And life a mockery? Nay, my child, they lied.
In face of woe, in spite of hunger, pain
And frost and cold, and this dead, icy night,
I do believe, I do believe in God!

    MORN.     Father, forget your woes. Let us within.
Here comes a stranger!
    LEON.     Let them come! yea, let the whole world come,
And buzz its devil doubts about mine ears;
I do believe, I do believe in God!

               Enter VULPINUS, alone, as a fugitive, disguised.
    VULP.     (discovering them) Good even, friends!
(aside) Ha! this the natural end to trusting honor!
    LEON.     Aye, who art thou dost call Leonatus friend?
If thou dost, knowing, thou art anomaly [Page 246]!
The very icy winds that walk this night
Give him the shoulder. The fire should warm his chaps
Flickers askance; the very storms of heaven
Beat on him pitiless, all nature joined
In iron league to flout his miseries.
Yea, who art thou, bold one that darest come
With that word friend?

    VULP.     I am one who calleth no one friend
Save cheating opportunity—My name? Vulpinus!
    LEON.     (rising) Ha, ha! I know thee now! thou art that fiend,
That acid tongue, that lie upon the lips,
Forged out of cant to make this world a hell
And good men blaspheme God. Wert thou my son,
I’d damn all marriage, batten up its tides,
And stop its issues. I would rather breed
That hideous thing the idiot than thy kind.
Thou art that bane crept in the milk of life
To turn the truth to crooked, the love to hate.
Begone, thou blot! Accursed as I am,
My soul abhors thee!

    VULP.     And this is all from kind Leonatus,
Most fortunate, most high Leonatus?
    LEON.     Fortune is a jade. But who art thou
To dance upon my miseries? Were I young,
I’d show thee, viper, Leonatus had an arm
To back his honor.

    MORN.     Father, come in! Sir, leave us; he is mad
With age and misery, and your presence wracks him.
    LEON.     Yea, go! Why stand’st thou there, thou monster dark,
To weight my spirit down? I call on God
To judge betwixt us!

    MORN.     (to VULPINUS) Wilt thou not go? Hast thou not even yet
Glutted thine envies, or doth thy spirit seek
A dreader vengeance [Page 247]?

    VULP.     (to MORNING) My curse is this: forever insatiate,
Not all the ills of this besotted world
Could make Vulpinus happy. And thou thyself,
Dost thou, too, still believe?

    LEON.     Begone, thou darkness! Anger me not down
To thy base levels.
    VULP.     (to LEONATUS) Dost thou believe that this relentless force,
That raised thee up from out thy mother’s womb,
Built thee to pride and arrogance of man,
To buffet thee back to that thing which thou art,
Baffled of all thy highest; dost thou dream
This weird, dread force hath got a beating heart
Like thine within it? Doth it pity the lives
It crushes every heart-beat? Can it weep
For man’s poor million miseries? Tell me now,
Thou festering breath, thou ruin of a tree
All dead at top, thou remnant of a life,
Canst thou believe in God?

    MORN.     Torment him not, nor beat about his age,
Thou bat of bitterness. Dost thou not see
His poor spent spirit flutters above its doubts,
To rest in God!

    LEON.     Yea, she speaks truth. I am a weak old man,
A feeble wreck of life’s poor promises;
But God is kind, yea, kind, though man be cruel.
Ha, ha! you mock me, scoff me, sneer me down,
Would turn my trust to folly, make me dream
This life a lie! The very winds of heaven
Would freeze me to it. The very stony stars
Would iron me to it. The pitiless icy night
Would shrivel my spirit to it,—all in league
With hellish doubt and damned obliquity
To make me doubt the Highest. Even, my child,
Thou shalt not do it; even thy sorrowful eyes,
Thy broken loves, thy daily silent patience;
Thou famished, glaring Hunger! thou pale Want [Page 248]!
Back, back, all spectres of this hideous world!
In spite of all, in spite of all, I trust.
You shall not bear me down.

    MORN.     O nature, nature, how long will this last?
    LEON.     They called my senator. Even thou, Vulpinus!
Ha, ha, thou doubter, thou didst laugh at me!
But see me now, even now, in all my glory!
Ha, ha! God is good!

    VULP.     (aside) ’Tis a hideous madness! I have seen enough.
                                                                                          [Would go.

                           Enter VARRA, Nobles and Retainers.

    VAR.     Caught, thou fox, at last!
                                           [VULPINUS would flee: is stopped.
    VAR.     Morning!
    MORN.     Varra! At last! at last!
                                                        [LEONATUS comes feebly forward
    VAR.     Leonatus, the city from her sink
Of vile corruption hath risen to a sense
Of conscience of her sin, and sends for thee
To be her Senator!

    LEON.     Senator! yea, Leonatus is Senator. Good morrow, gentlemen!
It is a sweet, glad summer. I am old,
And heaven biting, but this my daughter here
Will show ’tis summer.

    VAR.     What dread horror is this?
    MORN.     He hath been troubled thus. It soon will pass;
Sorrow and care and his infirmity
Have wrought upon him.

    VAR.     Great heaven! Good citizens, we have much to answer!
    LEON.     Yea, much to answer, we all have much to answer.
Believe me, friends, we are all good citizens;
Leonatus did ever love your city [Page 249],
And built its virtues. Sit you down, good friends.
I am no lord, but just a poor old man
Whom his loved city, in mistaken dream,
Did banish for his misdeeds. Believe me, friends,
They did not mean it; God for some good reason
Did blind them to it. Look not so cold upon us,
We will not stay; yea, we will go without,
Where our poor woes and wants may not offend you.
Come, my sweet daughter, take your father’s hand!
We are alone, the very inclement night
Doth freeze us, the stars refuse us bread,
The world is aged and ruined, dread and dark,
My poor limbs fail me. All, yea, all but God!

                                            [He staggers; they hold him.
(half rising up) Nay, nay, you lie, you doubters; back of all
This wintry age, this iron of dread and dark,
I see a glimmer. I do feel a dawn
Breaking! breaking!

                                                                                               [Dies. [Page 250]

CURTAIN.