BETA

Horæ Germanicæ.

No III.

[By way of giving as much variety as possible to the views we are opening
for our English readers into the present condition of German literature—and
more particularly into what we consider its most promising department, the
tragic drama,—we this month insert, not an account of a regular play, but a
complete translation of a short dramatic sketch, intended originally for being
represented upon a private stage. This is a species of composition wherein all the
best of the German poets have occasionally condescended to employ their
powers. The stage is the ruling passion of the German people in the present
day, and nothing connected with that passion and its manifestations can be
regarded as uninteresting.
It would, of course, be equally useless and impertinent for us to enter into
any regular criticism of a composition which we present entire to the judgment of
our readers. There is something in the history of the little piece, however,
must not be omitted. It originally appeared under the name of the
Twenty-Ninth of February
, with a conclusion of the darkest horror—infanti-
cide added to the guilt of adultery and incest, in order to leave no part
of the spectator’s soul unpenetrated with the influence of the awful Destiny
(the favourite deity, as we have already sufficiently seen, of the German stage)
that was here set forth as coming down from her accustomed arena of royal
and noble houses, to spread ruin and desolation over the family of a simple
forester.
There is a fine passage in the Thyestes of Seneca, which seems as if it had
been written expressly to speak the meaning of the sketch as it then stood.
Mentes cæcus instiget furor :1
Rabies Parentum duret ; et longum nefas2
Eat in Nepotes ; nec vacet cuiquam vetus3
Odisse crimen : semper oriatur novum :4
Nec unum in uno : dumque punitur scelus5
Crescat——Liberi pereant male ;6
Pejus tamen nascantur——7
—————Impiâ stuprum in domo8
Levissimum sit.——9
But, indeed, the spirit of Æschylus himself seemed to have been conjured
entire by Müllner into his narrower and lowlier circle.
In this state, there is no doubt, the production was a more perfect one of its
kind than it is now ; but no one can regret the alteration, with whatever minor
disadvantages it may be attended. Well as the Germans are accustomed to
strong excitements, it was found that their public would not tolerate seeing
terrors of this kind brought home to the immediate bosoms of mankind in the
midst of that humble life, for whose hardships Providence has sent down an
equivalent in its exemption from many of those miseries that visit higher heads.
The author, therefore, devised a new catastrophe—a tender and happy—not a
terrible one, for the Twenty-Ninth of February ; and it is in this shape we now
give it.
The name will strike English ears as a strange one ; but it could not have
appeared in any such light to the Germans, who were already well ac-
quainted with the Twenty-Fourth of February by Werner—a beautiful
composition, of which, in one of our early Horæ, we shall give an account at
least, if not a complete version. The quibble in the name of the female may
also appear in very doubtful taste—we think it is so, but still must recollect
that it is the bad taste of Homer, Æschylus, Euripides, Shakspeare—as well as
of Adolphus Müllner. The German reader may be informed that the pun in
the original is on the word Thräné (which signifies tears.)
The chief interest of the piece, and its chief merit, appears to consist in the
powerful idea it gives of an unseen but felt communion and sympathy going
on between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It is the vice
and the misery of modern literature that ideas of this dark kind are left out and
banished. They do not suit the clear-sighted, rational, intellectual eye of our
self-satisfied age—an age which is too proud of itself to take any delight in the
exhibition of difficulties and mysteries, such as all its power cannot overcome,
nor all its perspicacity explain. There is, nevertheless, great sublimity and
great beauty too in the idea which Müllner has so well illustrated ; and there
is nothing in it, so far as we can see, that should shock the notions of the
most sincere Christian, although we observe the German critics have, for the
most part, been of a very different opinion.
In our next article of this series we shall have the pleasure of introducing, for
the first time to the English reader, another great living tragedian—Oehlen-
schlager the Dane.]

The Twenty-ninth of February .

A Tragic Sketch.

Dramatis Personæ.

Walter Horst, a Forester.
Sophia, his Wife.
Emilius, his son, (in his twelfth year.)
Lewis Horst.
The scene is the forester’s house in the
wood. An apartment with a principal door,
and a side door. On the former are written
the days of the last week of February in
Leap year. Under Saturn the twenty-ninth.
A projecting chimney—a skreen before it ;
and implements of hunting on the wall.

SCENE I.

Walter, lost in thought, with a hanger
in his hand, which he has been polishing.
Sophia is working at a hunting net, and
rises disquieted soon after the curtain draws
up.
Soph.
See, now the evening red has died
away—
10
Stars glimmer thro’ the broken clouds—and
still
11
My son is not returned.12
Wal.
Have patience wife—13
He comes anon.14
Soph.
Oh ! never till this day15
He staid so late.16
Wal.
Come, strike a light !17
Soph.
Alas !18
Wal.
Wherefore art thou so anxious ?—
On the way
19
So often trod, each tree or mossy stone20
Will guest him like a friend—all is fami-
liar—
21
Then the snow’s lustre—covers, like a robe22
Of light, the way—whereon the beaten paths23
That lead through the grey forest shades are
sure,—
24
And unavoidable—as death.25
Soph.
’Tis well26
For men—but he—a careless child—oh,
Walter,
27
He will be lost—28
Wal.
What evil spirit thus29
Disturbs thy peace ?— To prophesy misfor-
tune,
30
It is not well !— An hundred times to-night, 31
Hast thou been starting from thy chair, to
look
32
If the boy came :— Yet every day he goes33
From hence to school in town—and has,
ere now,
34
Remain’d, how oft I know not, till the
evening.—
35
Why on this day of all the year am I36
Provoked to frown at thy fantastic fears ?—37
Soph.
For the whole road, one hour suf-
fices.—More
38
Than this already has been spent in dark-
ness,—
39
To blame a mother’s care—thou art severe—40
Wal.
Thy care is most unsuitable, ap-
plied
41
To restless moods of youth. Boys all are
driven
42
To wild pursuits by youthful impulses—43
Out of a mother’s anxious hand they tear44
The leading strings, and give the reins to
pleasure.—
45
Even as the sportive hoof of the young horse46
Raises the dust in clouds—so they contend47
With stocks and stones, all for the sake of
strife,—
48
That boyish power may grow to manly
strength—
49
Wildness to wisdom.—If thou would’st re-
tain
50
A son’s affection, let him go and come51
At his own will—lead him, indeed, but not52
Like infants by the hand.53
Soph.
Oh could I weave !54
His fortune like this net, and regulate55
His pleasures as I can arrange these threads !56
For oh ! I love him as my life—or Heaven !—57
Wal.
Nay, that is sinful.—Evermore the
devil
58
Watches for such an opportunity,59
And then the die, on which thou, (wicked
gamester !)
60
Has risked thine all, is by the invisible
claw
61
Of Satan turn’d.62
Soph.
Thy words are terrible !—63
Wal.
But have I not already prov’d their
truth ?
64
It comes across me like the comet’s glare,65
And chills my heart, when of my cherished
idol
66
The angel cheeks appeared, so deadly
pale—
67
(he pauses.)
Soph.
(Weeping)Alas ! my daughter !68
Wal.
Weep not, she is but69
Gone home, that little one—70
Soph.
Alas ! I feel71
Misfortune rule me with resistless power,72
Even as the wedge that rends the tree is
driven,
73
Deeper and deeper by the heavy axe,74
So pain on pain increasing presses on me,75
Till my poor heart will break !— Thus am I
judged—
76
’Tis but the punishment I have deserved77
For having broke mine oath thee to avoid—78
Wal.
Delusions all ! grieve not ! it was
his will !
79
Soph.
Believ’st thou this ? Thy looks
deny thy words.
80
If so—what caus’d her death.81
Wal.
Leave that alone.82
Soph.
Why did he perish when he heard
the news ?
83
Wal.
Why did he live our marriage to
prevent ?
84
Soph.
My dreams are true. At our lost
daughter’s birth,
85
Methought I saw her like a seraph floating86
Borne on a crystal sphere, (wherein the stars87
Reflected shone) in giddy circles, whirled ;88
Then all at once, the mirror broke in frag-
ments,
89
And pale and lowly in the grave she lay.90
Wal.
Heaven gave and took away.91
Soph.
From my clasp’d arms 92
Will Heaven so rend all that I hold most
dear,
93
Without compassion ? Did I not behold,94
While yet I wept for Clara’s early dream, 95
A dagger in the heart of our dear boy ? 96
And then an head that lay upon the ground, 97
That, with delirium I kneeled down to kiss, 98
And it was thine !99
Wal.
No more of this. Thy dreams100
Are all so frightful, that the mere narration 101
Is equal almost unto the fulfilment— 102
For my sake, then, I pray thee, tell no more, 103
For my brain whirls. 104
Soph.
Hear how amid the forest 105
The thaw wind moans ; while from the
south are borne
106
Clouds threatening with their load of sleet
and rain.
107
Without the gloom increases ; and, within, 108
All grows to me more dark and apprehen-
sive.
109
Such a mere child ! how easily may he wan-
der !
110
Send after him ! I cannot bear it longer ! 111
Wal.
But whom ?112
Soph.
The boy.113
Wal.
Nay, he is distant far. 114
Soph.
Then will I light the lantern straight,
and go
115
Myself.116
Wal.
Thou, and alone ? That road by
night
117
Thou never hast attempted. If the wind 118
Mid-way by chance should blow the lan-
tern out,
119
Thou wilt both lose thy labour and thyself.120
Soph.
Go thou !121
Wal.
And wilt thou stay content alone ?122
Soph.
Nay, let us go together ! 123
Wal.
Surely not ! 124
For if, meanwhile, he should arrive, and
find
125
The cottage so deserted, would he not126
Run out in search of us into the forest ? 127
Soph.
(setting down the lighted lantern.)
Whate’er befalls us let it fall on both.128
Wal.
Nay, be composed, he must be
here ere long.
129
Soph.
A tempest like to this was never
known—
130
Hark how the oak trees crack, and even
like reeds
131
Or long grass are in motion !132
Wal.
’Tis severe !133
Soph.
And how the sleet and snow, to-
gether driven,
134
Beat on the window !135
Wal.
(struggling with disquiet.) With
the beadle’s children
136
He must have staid, regardless of the night,137
As last year, when the ice, hard by the church,138
Was so frequented.139
Soph.
(violently agitated.)Mercy !—
Heaven ! that ice——
140
Wal.
What mean’st thou ? 141
Soph.
Only this—I pray thee, tell me,142
Did the boy take his skates with him to-day ?143
Wal.
Doubtless he did—the morning
still was frosty.
144
Soph.
(running to the lantern.) Oh, then,
indeed I can no longer stay,
145
Even if the storm should rend the forest oaks.146
Wal.
(interrupting her.) Art thou a
Christian ? Be composed ! rely
147
On Heaven, and wait !148
(Violent noise in the chimney, and fire issues
from it
.)
Soph.
All gracious powers ! my son—149
Wal.
(tearing away the screen.)Nay,
what the devil is that noise ?
150
’Tis nothing !151
One might have thought the house, with
man and mouse,”
152
Had met destruction. All because the storm153
Has broken down the chimney top. See’st
thou ?
154
Soph.
(with wildly fixed eyes.) Oh, Wal-
ter, he is dead !
155

SCENE II.

Emilius enters, muffled to the throat—books
in a leather strap—skates in his hand.
Em.
Who is it, mother ?156
Wal.
(laughing for joy.) Ha !157
Soph.
(joyfully.)Heaven be praised !
my son ! Then he is safe.
158
For thee, Emilius, deeply have I suffered.159
Wal.
Well, there he is at last, in health
and ruddy.
160
Soph.
Give me thy books and neckcloth
too. How drench’d
161
Thou art even to the throat !162
Em.
But, father ! tell me163
Who is it that is dead ?164
Wal.
Nay, ask thy mother,165
She deem’d that thou wert lost.166
Em.
Indeed !— of this167
I had not thought.168
Wal.
But look to it, my boy !169
It is forsooth thy duty now to die—170
To verify the solemn signs and tokens,171
Or no man will believe in them again.172
Soph.
Come now, Emilius, change thy
dress.
173
Em.
(kindly.)Pray, mother,174
Take not this trouble.175
Soph.
(in a voice of sudden terror.)
What is that ?176
Wal.
Ha ! what ?177
Soph.
(terrified.)He bleeds !—178
Wal.
Where ?179
Soph.
See ! the marks upon his collar !180
Em.
’Twas but a scratch,—’tis nothing.181
Wal.
Comes it not182
From, foolish quarrels ?— Hast thou been
again
183
Boxing with mad companions ?184
Soph.
Aye, indeed !185
Was this the cause ?— For shame !—186
Em.
Nay, it was nothing ;—187
Only to-day, upon the ice, they know not188
How to make room politely ;— then one falls,189
And cannot choose but quarrel with his
neighbour.
190
Wal.
And thou wert fighting ?191
Em.
I am quickly rous’d.—192
Soph.
Now, shall I bring thy supper ?193
Em.
I can wait.—194
You are too good.195
Soph.
Am I ?— Well then, Emilius196
Will not refuse his mother one request.197
Em.
No surely—Tell me what it is.198
Soph.
Give me199
Those foolish toys that bring thee into dan-
ger :
200
Go on the ice no more.—Now, wilt thou
promise ?
201
Em.
Aye, that forseoth I promise wil-
lingly,
202
Because THE ICE TO-MORROW WILL
BREAK UP
:—
203
(Both parents are much moved.)
However, thou wilt not withhold them
from me,
204
When the next frost sets in.205
Wal.
Boy, thy whole heart206
Is fixed upon this play.207
Em.
No doubt it is.208
When I have got them buckled on securely,209
Thou canst not guess how light of heart I
feel !—
210
Of all our sports it is the best !— One flies211
Swift as an arrow, without pain or trouble,212
Like some unearthly spirit ; and his course213
Is finish’d unawares.214
Soph.
Too soon, indeed,215
If one grows wild, as thou art.216
Em.
Mother, hear me.—217
So, (as I dream sometimes) in rapid flight,218
Joyous and free, the spirits of dead children219
Are borne about ;— for souls are light as
air.—
220
’Tis but the body’s weight that hinders us221
Upwards to float amid the stars’ refulgence,222
Where the blest angels dwell.223
(Sophia kisses him, and prepares to go.)
Nay, do not go.224
Soph.
I must prepare for supper.—Stay
thou here.
225

SCENE III.

Em.
My mother weeps.226
Wal.
Because she thinks on Clara.227
Em.
Oh, her I saw to-day !228
Wal.
(surprised.)What mean’st thou, boy ?229
Em.
When we came out of school, we
play’d this morning,
230
As usual, pelting one another well231
With snowballs ; and drew up in regular
armies ;—
232
Then, from the steep hill where the gallows
stands,
233
Rapid as lightning hurl’d on sledges down :234
But suddenly a strange mysterious sadness235
Fell on us, and I felt as if some power236
Drew me from thence invisibly tow’rd home.237
Then as I would have climb’d our forest
hill,
238
Voices I heard of children at the river,239
That led me from the road.240
Wal.
Why so ?241
Em.
I know not ;242
Only I feel that I am lonely here.243
Wal.
Are we not here ? and lov’st thou
not thy parents ?
244
Em.
Oh surely.—But who is there here
to play with ?
245
Wal.
Poor boy !— But I will join thee
in thy sports.
246
Em.
Not so,—thou art not willing—But
when I
247
Have learn’d the hunter’s noble art,—Ah !
then,
248
I’ll know to please thee better249
Wal.
(grinding the hanger.)Well, ere
long
250
I shall instruct thee.251
Em.
Hear me now.—’Tis true,—252
Thou art a powerful marksman, and can’st
hit
253
The swallow in his flight ; and aim so well254
Thy hunting spear, that the wild boar falls
down
255
Whole and untorn, all save the mortal
wound—
256
And thou canst artfully entice the fox257
Forth from his hole in day-light.—This and more258
’Tis thine to do—but yet thou can’st not
play
259
Wal.
Ah truly, to thy home of happiness,260
Childhood ! there can be no return. Could I261
Once more but play !262
Em.
If it so pleases thee,263
Listen, and I will teach thee.—Thou
wouldst all
264
Hear and behold in full reality.—265
Whate‘er thou canst not hold substantially,266
Even like the hunting knife which thou
art sharping,
267
Accords not with thy humour.—For the
future,
268
Appear as I would have them. I can change269
This room into a forest,—and a funnel270
Will serve me for a hunting horn. I ride,271
Through without horse and harness—and a
stag
272
Or mountain goat, dead as a stone I shoot,273
Not with a gun, but with thy walking stick.274
Wal.
Aye—these are joys of youth—
which in itself
275
Has all things good—whate’er imagination276
Presents is real ; and in dreams we rule277
The universe.—278
Em.
Methinks since Clara died,279
From thee all cheerfulness is quite departed—280
But I am joyous—she is still with me—281
Still smiles—and joins in every game—282
Wal.
(agitated.)Emilius !—283
Em.
Nay, when close to the river I had
come,
284
From whence the voices rose, the night had
fallen—
285
No one was there—But it was near the place,286
Where is my sister’s grave—A longing drew
me—
287
Mine eyes were filled with tears—I knew
not why—
288
I lean’d myself upon a wither’d tree289
Hard by ; and as the wind blew powerfully,290
Muffled myself within my Spanish cloak,291
And closed mine eyes.—Then a strange mood
came on,
292
Of deep tranquillity. I saw my sister,293
Leaning from Heaven with sweet smiles to
receive me,—
294
And after this, methought, in a fine arbour,295
With flowers entwin’d, we played with her
tame dove,
296
Which I had taken with me,—and she
kissed—
297
Wal.
(interrupting him.)No more—I
cannot bear this—
298
Em.
Had the storm ;299
Kept off, I had been there till now.300
Wal.
(impatiently.)Well—Well !—301
Emilius,—didst thou write to-day ?—302
Em.
No, this303
Was but a Bible lesson.304
Wal.
Read me then305
What was thy latest task.306
(While Emilius
fetches the Bible.)
In Scripture, too,307
’Tis said that sorrow even finds relief.308
Em.
(reading.)
Every purpose is es-
tablished by counsel, and with good advice
make war.”
  “ He that goeth about as a tale-bearer
revealeth secrets ; therefore, meddle not
with him that flattereth with his lips.”
  “ Whoso curseth his father or mother,
his lamp shall be put out in obscure dark-
ness.” —Proverbs. xx. 18, 19, 20.
Wal.
Wal. How was it, boy ? Read the last
words again.
309
Em.
(impressively.)Whoso eurseth his
father or mother, his lamp shall be put
out in obscure darkness.—
310
Wal.
(thoughtfully.) Ha ! was it not in
token of Heaven’s wrath,
311
That such a fearful thought came to my soul—312
That favourite child—she was my light on
earth,
313
To cheer the darkness of my life—314
Em.
If this315
Has pleased you, wait, and in my writing
book,
316
I’ll find one like to it—317
Wal.
It is enough.318
Em.
(reading from a copy book.)Listen !319
The eye that mocketh at his father,
and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens
of the valley shall pick it out, and the
young eagles shall eat it.” —Ibid xxx. 17.
Well, shall I read another ?320
Wal.
(violently)No !—321
Em.
(in a moderate voice.)’Tis pity.
Here is more against the sins
322
Of children disobedient to their parents—323
And lessons that clear up obscurer verses—324
Wal.
(aside.)’Twas not the eyes—no—
’twas the deed that scorned him !—
325
Yet can I say that I repent it—no !—326
And were the flames of hell ninefold more
hot,
327
Without Sophia never could I live !—328

SCENE IV.

Walter, Sophia, Emilius, (Soon after, the
Stranger.)
Soph.
(coming in hastily.)Walter !—329
Wal.
(startled.)What is it ?—330
Soph.
There is here a stranger—331
As if to visit us.332
Wal.
So much the better—333
His presence will beguile the time.334
(Knocking loudly.) Come in !—335
Em.
An old man this !—336
Stran.
God save you, friends.337
Wal.
Amen.338
Your greeting, friend, is good; and of thy
worth
339
Affords a pledge. So art thou truly wel-
come.
340
Stran.
(putting off his cloak.)You see a
traveller who has lost his way.
341
Will you permit—342
Wal.
(seeing the stranger at a loss with
his hat
.)
Shake off the snow, good friend.
343
( Soph.
(coming forward.)Walter, I
feel a strange misgiving here.
344
Wal.
Um ! So do I—wherefore I cannot
tell—
345
Soph.
(to the stranger.)You are not
well acquainted with the way ?
346
Stran.
’Tis long since I was here before.347
(He looks about him, and seems to pray
in silence.)
Soph.
So then ?—348
Wal.
(in a soothing tone to Sophia.)
He seems a travelling preacher.—In the
forest
349
You went astray ?—350
Stran.
Methinks, in truth, I did not—351
Your name is Jacob Horst ?352
Wal.
He is no more—353
I am his son ; and Walter is my name.354
You knew my father ?355
Stran.
Aye.356
Wal.
But yet, methinks357
You should have better guess’d his age—
If now
358
He lived, he must have been as old as thou
art !
359
Has business brought thee hither ?360
Stran.
Aye.361
Wal.
But not362
Of evil import ?363
Stran.
No.364
Wal.
Pray, would you choose365
To join our supper ?366
Stran.
Thank you.367
Wal.
Wine ?368
Stran.
In truth,369
Your offer is well timed.370
Wal.
(taking keys.)Where are my keys ?371
We have some bottles close at hand.372
Em.
Wait, father,373
I’ll bring the light.374

SCENE V.

(He takes the lantern, and goes with his
father. Sophia sets the table, and exit at a
side door.)
Stran.
Whence is the dark oppression,375
That in my bosom smothers up the sparks376
Of kindling pleasure ? Is it but the look377
Mistrustful of mine host’s, in whom, per-
chance,
378
My unexpected entrance raised confusion ?379
Yet, from a stranger’s lips awaits them not380
The glad announcement of prosperity ?381
Is it because, at some unlucky hour,382
I came, that from the well-known walls, it
seems
383
That some dark spirit frowns ? Or is it ra-
ther
384
A gloom prophetic from the realms of death,385
That spreads around me this mysterious
terror ?
386
Came I not here to die ?387
It matters not,388
When the tree withers, where it first was
reared,
389
And evermore the river hastes away390
From the first fountain-head. But to the
spheres
391
The path is closed ; and man, whose course
is thither,
392
Dies not in peace, but in his native land.393
Born for eternity, he pictures forth394
Her emblem in the page of time,—(the ser-
pent
395
That wreathes into a circle,)—so his exit396
Is like his entrance. Happy if he finds397
A grave where stood his cradle !398

SCENE VI.

(The Stranger. Walter with wine. So-
phia with glasses on a salver. Emilius
seats himself on a chair in the back-ground,
and looks at the light of the lantern—then
puts it out, and falls asleep.)
Wal.
Drink, my friend,399
Wine renovates the spirit.400
Stran.
Pledge you !401
Wal.
Thanks.402
Now to your business.403
Stran.
(sitting down at the table with
Walter
.)
Presently.—You had
An uncle in America ?
404
Wal.
’Tis true,405
My father had a brother there. From child-
hood
406
I heard of him.407
Stran.
Would you not like to be
His heir-at-law ?
408
Wal.
Whoever knows to earn409
His bread by labour, never will desire410
The death of those that are to him related.411
What Heaven decrees will come to pass.412
Stran.
Already413
It is decreed and past ; and Lewis Horst414
Has named you for his heir.415
Wal.
(mistrustfully.)Indeed ?416
Soph.
(working at her net.)Well then,417
This would be fortune !418
Stran.
Named you and your sister,419
Whom—420
Wal.
Nay, there you are in error—I have
none.
421
Stran.
How ! know you not ?422
Wal.
I never had a sister.423
Stran.
Ah ! like the first cold shivering
of a fever,
424
It rushes through my frame. Poor child !
poor outcast !
425
Wal.
Well, hast thou nothing better to
contrive ?
426
This tale of thine, methinks, will gain from
us
427
No more support.428
Soph.
Thou knowest not to serve up429
Well-told romances.430
Stran.
Walter, it is true—431
Thou had’st a sister—There—behold the
proof—
432
(Gives him a letter.)
Wal.
My father’s writing—this commands
attention !
433
I long to read.434
Stran.
(to Soph.)
Hear how it came to
pass—
435
James Horst was to the eldest daughter mar-
ried
436
Of the king’s falconer.437
Wal.
So far, ’tis right—438
By her he had one child—that child am I ;439
Sister or brother I had none.440
Stran.
’Tis true ;441
But in the snares of the deceiver fell442
His heart. It must be told—At a grand
feast
443
Given by the falconer ; when all were gay,444
It was the twenty-ninth of February,445
A day that seldom comes, therefore was held446
With more festivity ;— the charms of Agnes,447
The youngest daughter of the falconer,448
Won his affections.449
Wal.
Did’st thou say, indeed,450
The twenty-ninth !— that is to-day.451
Soph.
Aye, truly—452
(Terrified, and looking towards the door.)
’Twas then, too, that he died.453
Wal.
That day that comes454
But every fourth year seems to me accurs’d,455
No gift of Heav’n—but heathenish work of
Rome !
456
Stran.
Nay, there is in the year no day so
blest
457
That man may not be tempted. Agnes fell,458
And gave life to thy sister—but, ere long,459
Thine uncle, who held then an office there,460
Saw her expire, and leave an infant child,461
Whose birth till then had been concealed.462
Wal.
(joyfully.)
’Tis true,463
Sophia ! see, he writes here to his brother,464
That in his married state he felt severely465
The consequence of that concealed trans-
gression,
466
And therefore too he could not but desire,467
That of forbidden love th’ unhappy offspring468
Should still remain in unknown and unacknow-
ledged,
469
At least until his wife’s death or his own.470
Soph.
(Embracing her husband.)
Walter !
what happiness is ours !
471
Wal.
Sophia !472
Soph.
Old man ! in truth I love thee !473
Stran.
How is this ?474
Soph.
Well ! you must know an hundred
weight to-day
475
Hast thou of chilling marble from our hearts476
Removed, which had been there for twelve
long years.
477
Wal.
Yes ; on my soul ! for your reviv-
ing news
478
We thank you.479
Stran.
For the news that you must share
Your fortune with a sister ?
480
Wal.
If no more481
But what I won with daily toil were mine,482
Gladly would I support her—but your tid-
ings
483
Are worth far more than you can be aware.484
Stran.
Pray thee, explain the mystery.485
Soph.
’Tis no less486
Than this—you have afforded us conviction487
That of a father’s sudden death our marriage488
Was not the cause.489
Stran.
How so ?490
Wal.
I will explain ;491
My father (I was then about eighteen)492
Had chosen for me a bride———493
Soph.
Aye—with a fortune494
In money of ten thousand crowns.495
Wal.
Sophia,496
Poor, and an orphan (whom my father’s house497
Had, since my mother’s blindness, enter-
tained),
498
Soon won my heart, and her I sought in
marriage—
499
Her beauty was a dower inestimable,500
And our love mutual. Hitherto my father501
Had treated her most kindly, like a daughter,502
But when we thought he would have join’d
our hands,
503
Thenthen he was no father—but a tyrant.504
Soph.
’Twas hard indeed—I was com-
pelled to steal,
505
Unknown to Walter, from our home—to
swear
506
That I would send no letter and no message,507
But separate for ever !508
Wal.
All in vain509
I threaten’d or implor’d. Our doom was fix’d.510
Then, in the madness of my desolate rage,511
I cursed my parents and my birth.512
Stran.
Alas !513
That was most impious !514
Wal.
Well—I have atoned515
By suffering for my crime.516
Stran.
But Heaven is jealous—517
And judgement awful—Wherefore didst
thou swear
518
That heavy oath ?519
Soph.
My courage was o’ercome520
Resistance vain.—521
Wal.
Then from my father’s home,522
By rage and sorrow I was driven—523
Stran.
Unblest,524
Thou didst forsake thy parents ?—525
Soph.
For my sake526
That error he committed ;— through the
world
527
Wandered twelye months or more without
repose :—
528
Wal.
Fortune was more propitious than a
father—
529
I found Sophia in-a foreign land—530
But she avoided me—her heart was chang’d ;531
Soph.
Alas ! the fatal oath had sealed my
lips ;—
532
Our hearts indissolubly were united.533
I sent intelligence that he was there,534
But waited long—long, ere an answer came,535
I would have fled to save my soul, but letters536
Arrived at last—537
Wal.
Their import—that my mother,538
Long sick and feeble, had at length expired,539
And that my father, too, himself, alas !540
In health declining, wish’d me to return.541
Soph.
Me too he sent for.—Both were to
arrive
542
On the same day, that comes in each fourth
year—
543
His birth-day.544
Wal.
And one sentence in my letter545
My heart with unexpected pleasure filled—546
Soph.
Alas it led me on to sin.547
Wal.
While yet,
I linger in this weary world,” he said,
548
Have I a secret to disclose to thee,549
That a dear heart with thine will now
unite.”
550
Now, dearer was to me no-heart on earth551
Than my Sophia’s ; and to her alone,552
These words could I apply.553
Stran.
Ha ! tell me this,554
Your name then is Sophia ?555
Soph.
Yes indeed.556
Stran.
For this thank Heaven !557
Wal.
I urg’d my suit with vehemence ;558
Threw myself at her feet, and prayed that we559
Might never part again ! At last she yielded.560
Stran.
How,—then you waited not, first
to obtain,
561
A father’s blessing ?562
Wal.
No—alas, we did not !563
Soph.
When tears are showered upon an
heart that love
564
Has cultivated, like a fruitful field,565
Powerfully will the first green shoots arise !566
So here was foster’d the quick growth of sin !567
Wal.
Within my burning heart, a conflict
raged ;—
568
If thy desire,” methought, “ has not his
blessing,
569
Then art thou lost, and evermore thy portion570
Is vain remorse.” But when the knot was
tied,
571
And to new life I woke, the interpretation572
Seem’d indisputable ; for my Sophia573
And happiness at once were mine. Away574
Post-haste we drove together ; houses, trees,575
Went dancing by us on our rapid progress :576
Shouts, gratulations, and the bugle-horns577
And fairy-dreams. beguil’d the way. The
happy
578
Forget all time, and in a moment’s space579
Traverse a world.580
Soph.
Such was the roseate light581
Cast on our marriage, that soon died away,582
And never more reviv’d—583
Wal.
With confidence,584
We came into this chamber ; there he lay ;585
Joy rais’d him up ; “ Children !” he cried;
we both.
586
Ran to embrace him, and at once to tell587
The news that we were married.—At that word588
His eyes looked wildly—he began to speak,589
But, all at once, with palsy struck, fell back-
wards ;
590
Life came again, ’tis true, and recollection ;591
But limbs and tongue were pralys’d—Oh,
fearful
592
His efforts were to say what on his heart593
Weigh’d heavily ! At last he turn’d away,594
Grasp’d at the bed and wall convulsively ;595
Till by life’s parting agony releas’d,596
He breath’d no more.597
Stran.
Aye—to confess our sins,598
Too long conceal’d, Heaven at the hour of
death
599
Forbids,—as if its mercy were exhausted.600
Wal.
Twelve years have past away—
through all this time,
601
The devil fill’d us with unquiet thoughts,602
That against us resentment caus’d his death.603
Soph.
Now let us deem it was the agitation604
Of joy that kill’d him; and that his exertion605
Was but to tell us that we had a sister !606
Wal.
This house here in the forest, of the
crown
607
By feudal tenure held, with the free right608
Of hunting, granted to the line of Horst,609
Must go from son to son. Here I became610
A father ; yet, our first-born almost brought611
His mother to the grave ; and then my
daughter,
612
Born five years after her grandfather’s death,613
Almost took with her every wish of mine614
For longer life.—She—615
(he pauses over-
powered
.)
Pray forgive me, sir !616
Soph.
This child to Walter was indeed
his all !
617
Fresh and rejoicing on this very day618
Four years ago, had both our children gone619
To join a merry-making in the town.620
Then came, at once full speed, a messenger621
On horseback, who brought us intelligence622
That my child Clara would be drown’d.623
The river,624
Was with the melting of the snow high
swollen ;
625
Clara had stepped upon the shelving ice ;626
It broke with her ; she floated from the
shore—
627
No one had ventured—628
Stran.
Gracious Heaven !629
Wal.
No danger630
Withholds a father. In wild haste I rush’d631
Down to the stream that here surrounds the
wood ;
632
Clara was floating on the broken ice,633
Borne on the broad and rapid flood along,634
Attended by a crowd of idle gazers.635
Smiling she stood, and in the water play’d636
With a long limber branch.637
I was resolved638
To save her at all hazards ; but in vain !639
Father ! I’m sailing !” —These were her
last words !
640
She sank, to rise no more !641
Soph.
Where afterwards,642
Her lifeless frame was found is now her
grave,
643
Wal.
You wish’d for wine, I give you
tears—dear bought
644
With pain and suffering.645
Soph.
In our dwelling, sir,646
To pain you must be reconciled. In truth,647
My name is Payne.648
Stran.
How so ?649
Soph.
My father, Horst,650
Called me Sophia ; but my name before651
Was Agnes Payne.652
Stran.
Indeed ! And where was then653
Your dwelling-place ?654
Soph.
Germind.—The Rector’s house.655
Stran.
Ha !656
Soph.
There were two of us protected
there,
657
Myself—and Mary Agnes May—who died658
While yet a child—Were you then there,
and know ?
659
Wal.
Old man, your eyes are wild.660
Stran.
Oh, come ye waves !661
Rise up, ye raging floods, upon this house,662
Cover the guilty like the innocent !663
Walter, I am thine uncle, and thy wife,—664
She is thy sister !665
Soph.
Mercy ! Heaven !666
(She falls down in a faint.)
Em.
(In his sleep.)
Away,667
Black raven ! Leave the nests in peace ! Thou
Satan,
668
Begone !669
Wal.
He dreams—the let-loose influences670
Of Hell disturb his rest ; eyen on the spot671
Where his grandfather died. Boy ! Hear !
Awake !
672
How did that proverb run ?673
Em.
Which was it ?674
Wal.
That675
Of darkness and of curses.—676
Em.
Whoso curseth his father or his
mother, his lamp shall be extinguished in
utter darkness.”
677
Wal.
Uncle, hear’st thou ?678
The book of God arraigns me ; and the
Devil
679
Already drags me by the hair !680
Em.
(Seeing his mother.)
Oh Heavens !681
My mother !— Thou strange man ! I charge
thee, tell me,
682
How did this come to pass ?683
Lewis.
Have patience, boy,684
She will revive.—Go, fetch the wine.685
Wal.
Oh, strive not686
To wake her senses but to the endurance687
Of sufferings, whose immeasurable depth688
No soul can estimate.689
Em.
She is reviving—690
Pray, mother, had you fallen ?691
Soph.
Aye, fallen indeed ;692
Fallen deeply !693
Lewis.
Silence, boy—now rest a-while !694
Are you not better ?695
Em.
Surely, for her looks696
Are not so pale.697
Soph.
Oh, I am well, my spirit698
From torturing apprehensions is more free ;699
For those who are on earth to suffering
doom’d,
700
May from the torments of eternity701
Perchance be sav’d.702
Em.
Tell me,—what means my mother ?703
Lewis.
Oh never may’st thou know by sad
experience !—
704
Yet who can stem the tide of consequences ?705
Em.
Father ! now tell me.706
Wal.
’Tis a riddle, boy !707
Em.
What are the words ? Let me but
hear, and I
708
Haply may find the interpretation.709
Wal.
Thou710
Art nephew to thy mother, and thy father—711
He is thine uncle !712
Emil.
(Perplexed, and shaking his head.)
I—now tell me, mother,713
What hast thou—?714
Soph.
Pain and suffering without end,715
Unto the grave.716
Emil.
Have I offended thee !717
Lewis.
No, no, my son. Heaven is with
them offended,
718
Because they disobeyed a father’s will ;719
And they are sorrowful, because to-day720
They have been told that separation only721
Can Heaven appease.722
Wal.
(Starting up and grasping the dag-
ger
.)
Ha !723
Soph.
(painfully.)
Separation !724
Wal.
Never !725
If by our marriage we destroyed a father,726
Thou art still mine as ever, and more dearly727
Hast thou been won !728
Soph.
(weeping.)
How could we know the
truth ?
729
Wal.
(with looks of insane determination.)
Uncle, if Hell has sent thee that the world730
May know this horrid tale, that but for thee731
Had been for evermore concealed, methinks732
It were no crime, if with this murderous
steel,
733
I seal’d it up in thy cold heart.734
Soph.
(running to him.)
Oh Walter !735
Lewis.
Nay, let him strike ! I am pre-
pared,
736
(Walter retires, and lets fall the hanger)
From shores737
Far distant, to the dwelling of my fathers,738
A heartfelt longing brought me hither.
Childless,—
739
And without pleasure, wealthy, here I sought,740
Surrounded by dear friends to end my days.741
But could I thus thine evil star propitiate,742
From thy hands gladly would I death re-
ceive !
743
Wal.
The powers of darkness lie in wait
for me.
744
(He breaks the hanger, and throws it
away
.)
The enemy is strong ; and man is weak !745
Soph.
This, cannot come to good—(to
Lewis
)
Uncle, forgive him,
746
He is insane !— He cannot bear your looks,747
Pray leave us now.748
Lewis
First, must I speak to him,749
Though he should kill me—Horst ! ’tis not
the laws
750
Of man that judge thee ! ’Tis the voice of
God
751
That from thy father’s tomb speaks, fearful
warning !
752
He was a sinner ; and, it was the fruit753
Of sin that wrought his misery ;— above all,754
Because he criminally sought to check755
The rolling of that wheel, that from the abyss756
Of dark futurity winds up the chain757
Of evil consequence, and by concealment758
Avoided shame ; him punishment o’ertook,759
And in dire sufferings wore his life away.760
Soph.
’Tis true indeed—an impulse pure
at first,
761
But misinterpreted, dike me to Walter,762
Our love had-been fraternal—sisterly,763
Had not our father’s guilt remain’d unknown,764
When first our hearts were join’d.765
Lewis.
Wouldst thou incur,766
Like him, the punishment of untold sin ?767
Like the rank weed that in the corn-field
grows,
768
An evil deed the more it is conceal’d,769
Spreads forth more widely and luxuriantly.770
A son’s lips curs’d his parents and his birth,771
And thou (to Sophia) hast broken thine oath :772
Thus both are sinners.773
Mark the dire chain,—adultery first,—then
curses,—
774
Oaths broken, and at last incestuous children !775
Owe for a token of just anger—Heaven776
Has from you taken. If thy heart remains,777
By sin enslav’d, then what will be the fate778
Of the surviving son !779
Soph.
No more,—in pity !780
My blood runs cold to hear thee !781
Lewis.
In this world782
That man, by sinful passions moved, may
still
783
Resolve on good or evil—Heaven bestows784
Reason and free volition.—Part for ever !785
Then shall I take Sophia and protect her786
As a dear daughter, but if you remain787
United still—then shall my wandering steps788
From this dark dwelling of my fathers lead
me
789
Thro’ the. wild woods, now while the storm
is raging,
790
And of your crimes the knowledge and the
memory
791
With me shall perish. Choose, and I shall
wait !
792
Exit.

SCENE VII.

Wal. Soph. Emi.
(The latter sitting in the back ground.)
Soph.
(after a deep stillness.)
Can God
desire a sacrifice like this ?
793
Walter, Could’st thou endure it,—thine no
more !
794
Wal.
My lamp is now extinguished—all
around
795
Is utter darkness.796
Soph.
Of our father’s death,797
One anniversary passed over calmly.798
The second robbed us of our dearest child.799
Oh ! now, I feel the third must be the last !800
All is fulfilled. Our father’s angry spirit801
Has sent this man, so like to him in voice,802
To impose on us the direful task of part-
ing !
803
Who can resist the will of Heaven ?804
(After a pause, she draws near to Wal-
ter
.)
See, Walter !805
With this dear ring that now in tears I
bring thee,
806
I do absolve thee from all marriage ties.807
Wal.
(Embracing her with great emotion.)
Oh ! Agnes !808
Soph.
Yet let me not lose thy love !809
Wal.
I keep a dear inestimable pledge,810
That must for ever bind our hearts.811
Soph.
Oh ! God,812
My poor Emilius !813
(She runs to meet the boy, who comes
at her call, and embraces him
.)
It is true, the church814
Our marriage may dissolve ; but who shall
break
815
The mighty bonds of Nature ?816
Wal.
Had you not817
Weighed this before ?818
Em.
Had’st thou forgot Emilius,819
That thou would’st leave me thus ?820
Soph.
Ha ! such request,821
Is bold indeed—Walter—if thou should’st
grant it,
822
Thou art far more than man.823
Wal.
How—thou desir’st—824
Soph.
Hear me in mine affliction—Glid-
ing round
825
These obscure walls, our father’s angry
ghost,
826
Compels me from this dwelling to depart,827
Wherein my conscience never found repose.828
But the boy’s kind and lovely countenance,829
Dear as the light of Heaven, attracts me
still,
830
And holds me with a chain of adamant.—831
To save me from delirium, then, O Walter,832
Let my child go with me !833
Wal.
Where’er thine uncle834
Takes thee to live, oft shall he go to see thee !835
Soph.
No—he must not remain with thee
alone :
836
Not without me in this unlucky house !837
Always around his innocent head, it seems,838
As if I heard the boding flight of owls :839
And in distressful dreams, I feel him torn840
From my clasped arms.—See, in the dust
I lie. (kneeling.)
841
Oh ! for the love of heaven, brother ! allow842
The boy to go with me.843
Wal.
Agnes—thy wish844
Bears hard on me ; and I have not the power845
To grant it, or deny.—Therefore Emilius846
Himself shall choose.847
Soph.
Oh, let my sufferings move thee !848
Thou child of sorrow ! say not no !849
Em.
Wilt thou850
Divide my heart ?— If I may not belong851
To both—Then will I not remain with either.852
Long as I can remember, some deep impulse853
Drove me from hence ; and therefore would
I go
854
With thee more willingly—But yet ’twas not855
Into the wide world that I wish’d to wander,856
But upwards to the starry sky ; and this,857
Where’er I go, would rule my inclinations.858
(Seeing the emotion of his parents, he takes
a hand of each, and presses it to his heart
.
Believe me that I love thee heartily,859
But I am a poor child, whose presence much860
Would not enliven thee. Thine eyes are still861
So dim and melancholy, and the stars862
So bright and therefore my spirit still863
From this dim narrow dwelling is updrawn,864
To the blue realms on high. A wayward
child,
865
I long to sail above this earth—So mother,866
If I go with thee, thou wilt praise me little.867
Let me remain here and assist my father,868
I am to learn the hunter’s noble art,869
In the wild woods.870
Wal.
(Embracing Emilius)
My son !871
Soph.
He has resolv’d,872
Here to remain ! Then may the wrath of
Heaven
873
This dwelling raze, and whelm me in its
ruins !
874
For never—never can I leave my son !875
(Clasping him in her arms.)
Wal.
The measure of our sufferings is
complete.
876
No grain more can it now receive. If thou877
Canst not resign Emilius, then go forth,878
Call in thine uncle. If he promises879
To be indeed a father to the boy—880
Then will I listen to thy prayer.881
Soph.
(Embracing him.)
Oh Walter,882
Thou hast no equal !— —883
(Exit.

SCENE VIII.

Wal. Emi.
Em.
Father ! shall I go hence ?884
Wal.
Never so long as I survive !— Death
only.
885
Can marriages dissolve by children crown’d,886
(Meditating.) Well, then !— thy doubts at
last shall have an end ;
887
And thou shalt find the bonds in sunder
broken,
888
That may no longer hold.889
Em.
(He seizes a knife hastily.)
Father,
beware !
890
Hast thou forgot that knife is newly whet-
ted?
891
Wal.
So much the better,892
(He kneels in prayer, with a knife clasped
in his hands
.)
Em.
How, thou prayest ? Wilt thou893
kill thyself ?894
Wal.
(rising up and embracing him.)
Pray for my soul ?895
Em.
Oh Father !—896
First kill Emilius ?897
Wal.
(staring at him.)
Whom ?898
Em.
Be kind ! unite me899
With little Clara for my bride ! Thou knowest900
We used to play here man and wife, and
thou
901
Hast married us an hundred times, now take
me
902
Pray take me, to poor Clara !903
Wal.
Childish plays,904
And Heaven unite those whom on earth the
Church
905
Divides !906
Em.
I cannot tell thee how my heart907
Is mov’d, but all my wishes point on high,908
And lead me to that arbour in the skies,909
Where I my find her, when this life dis-
solves !
910
Wal.
Fortunate boy !  thine innocent
spirit here
911
Feels not at home, by guilt and wo surround-
ed.
912
Em.
Thinkest thou that it would give me
too much pain ?
913
Look ! while I slept here on this chair, me-
thought
914
I felt the steel deep pressed into my heart !915
Wal.
Ha ! Agnes dream’d this too !916
Em.
Yet the deep wound917
Gave me no pain !918
Wal.
On my dark soul descends919
A stream of supernatural light ?  To both920
The self-same visions came;—here is the
place,
921
This is the day whereon my father died ;—922
How strange ! Is it decreed that I may thus923
Appease his angry shade ?924
Em.
Art thou reflecting925
If thou should’st kill me ?926
Wal.
Silence !— At thy words,927
I tremble—928
Em.
Nay, thou shalt not let me go,929
I cannot bear my mother’s anxious looks,930
Her constant fears lest some mischance be-
fall me,
931
Then the schoolmaster—he for ever scolds me ;932
When I am lively, I’m mischievous,—when
merry,
933
Forsooth I am a graceless child. Thou only934
Know’st my true disposition, ’Tis most
certain
935
That I am wild, and venture more than
others—
936
And when a comrade has unjustly acted,937
Resistless impulse drives me to chastise him.938
Now the schoolmaster calls those inclinations939
The seeds of wickedness, and all misdeeds.940
Should such a boy turn good for aught, he
says,
941
It must he thro’ miraculous aid.942
Wal.
His words.943
Are but too true !944
Em.
Indeed ! well then, would’st thou945
Suffer Emilius still to grow in strength946
And wickedness ? Oh, bring this mortal
course
947
Of your poor child thus early to an end,948
While he is not too bad. Oh take me home,949
Take me from hence with you !950
Wal.
(Overcome.) Aye, death indeed951
Demands the offspring of unhallow’d love !952
The raven too, waits in his parent’s eyes953
The promised meal; and the young brood
of eagles.—
954
Come boy ! with heart already turn’d to
Heaven,
955
Come and receive from him who gave thee
life
956
And passions wild, the better gift of death !957
(Drawing his son towards him with the left
hand, he makes a thrust at his heart with
the knife, but feels resistance, and starts back
trembling
.)
Ha ! what was this ? Andcan thy tender breast958
Resist the sharpen’d steel ?959
Em.
(Recollecting.) Oh—’tis the letter !960
Wal.
Are spirits floating here invisibly,961
That such a horror siezes on my heart ?962
Em.
(Drawing out a parchment.)
Now, be not angry. with me for this fault.963
Carefully in the tumult of our plays964
This letter have I guarded, but at last965
I had forgotten it quite—The schoolmaster966
Received it first ; but it belongs to thee.967
Wal.
(The knife still in his right hand ;
the left convulsively on his forehead
.)
Wo !  whither would my frenzied brain
have driven me ?
968
Had the deed been accomplished, whither
then ?
969
The scaffold ? Oh ye beams and mouldering
walls
970
Fall down and cover me ! ye clouds of night971
Conceal me ! Through the force of wild emo-
tion,
972
Ever am I the slave of evil ! yawn,973
Oh grave ! and hide me from the powers of
Hell !
974
Em.
(Coming up to him.)
Father !975
Wal.
Unhappy boy ! Away ! Each word976
Of thine becomes an implement of Satan !977
Away,—I tell thee, from this house !978

SCENE IX.

Wal. Em. Lew. and Soph. (rushing in.)
Soph.
Oh ! Walter !979
Lew.
Horst ! what is thine intent ! a mur-
derous weapon
980
Grasped for the second time to day ? On
blood
981
Still bent ?982
Wal.
(Letting the knife fall.)
All is ful-
fill’d that on me lay !
983
Soph.
(Terrified.)
Oh ! heaven ! my
dream ?— Emilius, the sharp steel
984
That struck thy heart will take my life
away !
985
Em.
Mother ! I feel no pain—tho’ I have
prayed
986
That I might lose that life for which thou
weep’st.
987
The dagger fail’d—this parchment letter
here,
988
Received the stroke !989
Lew.
Heaven’s power is infinite—990
Yet on the dread abyss that yawned before
us,
991
I look with trembling.992
Wal.
From myself I turn993
With horror, more than words can e’er un-
fold—
994
I am nor man nor beast—bear, tiger, wolf,995
And lion spares his young—Wo, wo, to
me !
996
I am insane—Madness alone can lift997
His murderous arm against an’ innocent
child.
998
Lew.
Compose yourself !— Heaven only
has allowed you
999
To stagger to the brink ; thus to point out1000
The danger of thy soul’s blind impulses—1001
That Providence not yet forsakes thee wholly,1002
This letter, for a silent token serves.—Look,
now
1003
Who was the writer.1004
(He takes the letter from, Emilius ; and on
giving it to Walter, notices the, superscrp-
tion
.)
How ?— “ To Jacob Horst !”1005
Wal.
(terrified.)
For whom ?— My father ?1006
Lew.
Hasten to find out1007
To whom his death so long remains unknown1008
Soph.
I should with apprehension watch
the import,
1009
If yet a harder fate were possible ?1010
Lew.
(To Walter.) Well, then ?1011
Wal.
(Having broke the seal hastily,
and glanced over the contents
.)
’Tis a certificate of baptism,1012
Of “ Agnes May.”1013
Soph.
Maria Agnes ?1014
Wal.
(Looking at the paper.)
Right !
There are three names.—What more
1015
Wal.
Certificate—1016
Gemind,—The Rector,—at his death,—con-
fessed,—
1017
For Agnes Payne—a child exchanged.”1018
(With a loud cry of joy, he lets the pa-
per fall
.)
Oh ! Heaven !—1019
Agnes !— my own !— my wife !—1020
(Embracing her.)
Soph.
(Resisting.)
Walter, thou ray’st !1021
Wal.
Were this a wonder, when one
instant changes
1022
Hell into Heaven ?1023
Lew.
(Taking up the letter)
Is this then
possible ?
1024
Whence comes this letter ?1025
Wal.
(Beating his breast and almost
breathless
.)
How shall we sustain1026
The overpowering weight of too much joy !1027
Em.
Taking his hand.)
My father !1028
Soph.
(On the other side.)
Walter !
speak ! how is this ?
1029
Wal.
Kneel down, kneel down,1030
Thank Heaven—weep—pray—adore the
boundless grace
1031
Of God—the light of our dark pilgrimage !1032
Pray, child ! even thou hast deeply sinned
in this,
1033
That thou wert weary of thy life.—Kneel,
Agnes,
1034
And pray with tears, because we both have
sinned,
1035
In doubting of that mercy which kind
Heaven
1036
Pours on the guilty. Thus I bring to thee,1037
Oh ! Universal Father, this torn heart,1038
Sav’d by a hair’s breadth from destruction’s
gulph—
1039
Now by, repentance ruled, and gratitude.1040
(All three remain for a few seconds in
the attitude of prayer
.)
Lew.
The justice of our Heavenly Fa-
ther here,
1041
Indeed is manifest. A dark illusion1042
Formed of my brother’s crime, the punish-
ment,
1043
And of your guilt, this apprehensive horror1044
Of a dire sin that had not been committed,1045
Has been the sentence.1046
(To Sophia, who, with the others, has
now risen up
.)
At the Rector’s house1047
Died Agnes Payne, in childhood, at Ge-
nind,
1048
And thou art Agnes May.—There are
the proofs.
1049
The priest, though poor and needy, in his
house
1050
Received you fatherless ; but Jacob Horst1051
Seemed in his estimation rich, and therefore1052
Was better able to protect an orphan.1053
To thee he gave the name of thy lost play-
mate—
1054
But in his last hours the deceit confess’d,1055
That he had practis’d with a kind intention.1056
(Looking up to heaven.)
Father,
thou hast forgiven us !
1057
Our past sorrows1058
His anger have subdued.1059
Emil.
And is not Clara1060
In Heaven with him—beyond the starry
spheres ?
1061
She has prayed God my sufferings to allay,1062
And He has will’d Emilius to survive.1063
Then be you tranquil—I will gladly live,1064
Though Clara has a better life on high.1065
Soph.
My child, thou long’st so much to
be from earth,
1066
To other worlds remov’d—that evermore1067
Thy mother’s heart must tremble.1068
Wal.
No—’tis well ;1069
So let him look on high—Whene’er his eyes1070
Are lifted up to heaven, shall Walter too1071
The Almighty Father praise, who has call’d
home
1072
Our innocent child. Her dwelling is not far.1073
Soph.
(Looking up.)
Clara !1074
Wal.
Father !1075
Both.
(Together.)
Look down on us !1076
Lewis.
At last1077
Heaven for his own has chosen you. Severe1078
At once and merciful—shine forth his power1079
And glory—and, by ways inscrutable,1080
Blessings and justice are together join’d !1081