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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Christus: A Mystery
Part III. The New England Tragedies.
John Endicott.
Act III
 
SCENE I.—The Court of Assistants. ENDICOTT, BELLINGHAM, ATHERTON, and other magistrates. KEMPTHORN, MERRY, and constables. Afterwards WHARTON, EDITH, and CHRISTISON.

ENDICOTT.
CALL Captain Simon Kempthorn.

MERRY.
                        Simon Kempthorn,
Come to the bar!
 
KEMPTHORN comes forward.

ENDICOTT.
                You are accused of bringing
Into this Jurisdiction, from Barbadoes,
Some persons of that sort and sect of people        5
Known by the name of Quakers, and maintaining
Most dangerous and heretical opinions;
Purposely coming here to propagate
Their heresies and errors; bringing with them
And spreading sundry books here, which contain        10
Their doctrines most corrupt and blasphemous,
And contrary to the truth professed among us.
What say you to this charge?

KEMPTHORN.
                    I do acknowledge,
Among the passengers on board the Swallow
Were certain persons saying Thee and Thou.        15
They seemed a harmless people, mostways silent,
Particularly when they said their prayers.
 
ENDICOTT.
Harmless and silent as the pestilence!
You ’d better have brought the fever or the plague
Among us in your ship! Therefore, this Court,        20
For preservation of the Peace and Truth,
Hereby commands you speedily to transport,
Or cause to be transported speedily,
The aforesaid persons hence unto Barbadoes,
From whence they came; you paying all the charges        25
Of their imprisonment.

KEMPTHORN.
                        Worshipful sir,
No ship e’er prospered that has carried Quakers
Against their will! I knew a vessel once—
 
ENDICOTT.
And for the more effectual performance
Hereof you are to give security        30
In bonds amounting to one hundred pounds.
On your refusal, you will be committed
To prison till you do it.

KEMPTHORN.
                        But you see
I cannot do it. The law, sir, of Barbadoes
Forbids the landing Quakers on the island.        35
 
ENDICOTT.
Then you will be committed. Who comes next?
 
MERRY.
There is another charge against the Captain.
 
ENDICOTT.
What is it?

MERRY.
        Profane swearing, please your Worship.
He cursed and swore from Dock Square to the Court-house.
 
ENDICOTT.
Then let him stand in the pillory for one hour.
[Exit KEMPTHORN with constable.
        40
Who ’s next?

MERRY.
            The Quakers.

ENDICOTT.
                    Call them.

MERRY.
                        Edward Wharton,
Come to the bar!

WHARTON.
                Yea, even to the bench.
 
ENDICOTT.
Take off your hat.

WHARTON.
                My hat offendeth not.
If it offendeth any, let him take it;
For I shall not resist.

ENDICOTT.
                        Take off his hat.
        45
Let him be fined ten shillings for contempt.
MERRY takes off WHARTON’S hat.
 
WHARTON.
What evil have I done?

ENDICOTT.
                    Your hair ’s too long;
And in not putting off your hat to us
You ’ve disobeyed and broken that commandment
Which sayeth “Honor thy father and thy mother.”        50
 
WHARTON.
John Endicott, thou art become too proud;
And lovest him who putteth off the hat,
And honoreth thee by bowing of the body,
And sayeth “Worshipful sir!” ’T is time for thee
To give such follies over, for thou mayest        55
Be drawing very near unto thy grave.
 
ENDICOTT.
Now, sirrah, leave your canting. Take the oath.
 
WHARTON.
Nay, sirrah me no sirrahs!

ENDICOTT.
                    Will you swear?
 
WHARTON.
Nay, I will not.

ENDICOTT.
            You made a great disturbance
And uproar yesterday in the Meeting-house,        60
Having your hat on.

WHARTON.
                I made no disturbance;
For peacefully I stood, like other people.
I spake no words; moved against none my hand;
But by the hair they haled me out, and dashed
Their books into my face.

ENDICOTT.
                    You, Edward Wharton,
        65
On pain of death, depart this Jurisdiction
Within ten days. Such is your sentence. Go.
 
WHARTON.
John Endicott, it had been well for thee
If this day’s doings thou hadst left undone.
But, banish me as far as thou hast power,        70
Beyond the guard and presence of my God
Thou canst not banish me!

ENDICOTT.
                        Depart the Court;
We have no time to listen to your babble.
Who ’s next?    [Exit WHARTON.

MERRY.
            This woman, for the same offence.
EDITH comes forward.
 
ENDICOTT.
What is your name?

EDITH.
                ’T is to the world unknown,
        75
But written in the Book of Life.

ENDICOTT.
                            Take heed
It be not written in the Book of Death!
What is it?

EDITH.
                Edith Christison.

ENDICOTT  (with eagerness).
                        The daughter
Of Wenlock Christison?

EDITH.
                    I am his daughter.
 
ENDICOTT.
Your father hath given us trouble many times.
        80
A bold man and a violent, who sets
At naught the authority of our Church and State,
And is in banishment on pain of death.
Where are you living?

EDITH.
                In the Lord.

ENDICOTT.
                        Make answer
Without evasion. Where?

EDITH.
                    My outward being
        85
Is in Barbadoes.

ENDICOTT.
                Then why come you here?
 
EDITH.
I come upon an errand of the Lord.
 
ENDICOTT.
’T is not the business of the Lord you ’re doing;
It is the Devil’s. Will you take the oath?
Give her the Book.
MERRY offers the book.

EDITH.
                You offer me this Book
        90
To swear on; and it saith, “Swear not at all,
Neither by heaven, because it is God’s Throne,
Nor by the earth, because it is his footstool!”
I dare not swear.

ENDICOTT.
            You dare not? Yet you Quakers
Deny this Book of Holy Writ, the Bible,        95
To be the Word of God.

EDITH  (reverentially).
                        Christ is the Word
The everlasting oath of God. I dare not
 
ENDICOTT.
You own yourself a Quaker,—do you not;
 
EDITH.
I own that in derision and reproach
I am so called.

ENDICOTT.
            Then you deny the Scripture
        100
To be the rule of life.

EDITH.
                    Yea, I believe
The Inner Light, and not the Written Word,
To be the rule of life.

ENDICOTT.
                    And you deny
That the Lord’s Day is holy.

EDITH.
                            Every day
Is the Lord’s Day. It runs through all our lives,        105
As through the pages of the Holy Bible,
“Thus saith the Lord.”

ENDICOTT.
                You are accused of making
An horrible disturbance, and affrighting
The people in the Meeting-house on Sunday.
What answer make you?

EDITH.
                            I do not deny
        110
That I was present in your Steeple-house
On the First Day; but I made no disturbance.
 
ENDICOTT.
Why came you there?

EDITH.
                Because the Lord commanded.
His word was in my heart, a burning fire
Shut up within me and consuming me,        115
And I was very weary with forbearing;
I could not stay.

ENDICOTT.
        ’T was not the Lord that sent you;
As an incarnate devil did you come!
 
EDITH.
On the First Day, when, seated in my chamber,
I heard the bells toll, calling you together,        120
The sound struck at my life, as once at his,
The holy man, our Founder, when he heard
The far-off bells toll in the Vale of Beavor.
It sounded like a market bell to call
The folk together, that the Priest might set        125
His wares to sale. And the Lord said within me,
“Thou must go cry aloud against that Idol,
And all the worshippers thereof.” I went
Barefooted, clad in sackcloth, and I stood
And listened at the threshold; and I heard        130
The praying and the singing and the preaching,
Which were but outward forms, and without power.
Then rose a cry within me, and my heart
Was filled with admonitions and reproofs.
Remembering how the Prophets and Apostles        135
Denounced the covetous hirelings and diviners,
I entered in, and spake the words the Lord
Commanded me to speak. I could no less.
 
ENDICOTT.
Are you a Prophetess?

EDITH.
                        Is it not written,
“Upon my handmaidens will I pour out        140
My spirit, and they shall prophesy”?

ENDICOTT.
                            Enough;
For out of your own mouth are you condemned!
Need we hear further?

THE JUDGES.
                        We are satisfied.
 
ENDICOTT.
It is sufficient. Edith Christison,
The sentence of the Court is, that you be        145
Scourged in three towns, with forty stripes save one,
Then banished upon pain of death!

EDITH.
                        Your sentence
Is truly no more terrible to me
Than had you blown a feather into the air,
And, as it fell upon me, you had said,        150
“Take heed it hurt thee not!” God’s will be done!
 
WENLOCK CHRISTISON  (unseen in the crowd).
  Woe to the city of blood! The stone shall cry
Out of the wall; the beam from out the timber
Shall answer it! Woe unto him that buildeth
A town with blood, and stablisheth a city        155
By his iniquity!

ENDICOTT.
                    Who is it makes
Such outcry here?

CHRISTISON  (coming forward).
                    I, Wenlock Christison!
 
ENDICOTT.
Banished on pain of death, why come you here?
 
CHRISTISON.
I come to warn you that you shed no more
The blood of innocent men! It cries aloud        160
For vengeance to the Lord!

ENDICOTT.
                    Your life is forfeit
Unto the law; and you shall surely die,
And shall not live.

CHRISTISON.
                    Like unto Eleazer,
Maintaining the excellence of ancient years
And the honor of his gray head, I stand before you;        165
Like him disdaining all hypocrisy,
Lest, through desire to live a little longer,
I get a stain to my old age and name!
 
ENDICOTT.
Being in banishment, on pain of death,
You come now in among us in rebellion.        170
 
CHRISTISON.
I come not in among you in rebellion,
But in obedience to the Lord of Heaven.
Not in contempt to any Magistrate,
But only in the love I bear your souls,
As ye shall know hereafter, when all men        175
Give an account of deeds done in the body!
God’s righteous judgments ye cannot escape.
 
ONE OF THE JUDGES.
Those who have gone before you said the same,
And yet no judgment of the Lord hath fallen
Upon us.

CHRISTISON.
        He but waiteth till the measure
        180
Of your iniquities shall be filled up,
And ye have run your race. Then will his wrath
Descend upon you to the uttermost!
For thy part, Humphrey Atherton, it hangs
Over thy head already. It shall come        185
Suddenly, as a thief doth in the night,
And in the hour when least thou thinkest of it!
 
ENDICOTT.
We have a law, and by that law you die.
 
CHRISTISON.
I, a free man of England and freeborn,
Appeal unto the laws of mine own nation!        190
 
ENDICOTT.
There ’s no appeal to England from this Court!
What! do you think our statutes are but paper?
Are but dead leaves that rustle in the wind?
Or litter to be trampled under foot?
What say ye, Judges of the Court,—what say ye?        195
Shall this man suffer death? Speak your opinions.
 
ONE OF THE JUDGES.
I am a mortal man, and die I must,
And that erelong; and I must then appear
Before the awful judgment-seat of Christ,
To give account of deeds done in the body.        200
My greatest glory on that day will be,
That I have given my vote against this man.
 
CHRISTISON.
If, Thomas Danforth, thou hast nothing more
To glory in upon that dreadful day
Than blood of innocent people, then thy glory        205
Will be turned into shame! The Lord hath said it!
 
ANOTHER JUDGE.
I cannot give consent, while other men
Who have been banished upon pain of death
Are now in their own houses here among us.
 
ENDICOTT.
Ye that will not consent, make record of it.
        210
I thank my God that I am not afraid
To give my judgment. Wenlock Christison,
You must be taken back from hence to prison,
Thence to the place of public execution,
There to be hanged till you be dead—dead,—dead!        215
 
CHRISTISON.
If ye have power to take my life from me,—
Which I do question,—God hath power to raise
The principle of life in other men,
And send them here among you. There shall be
No peace unto the wicked, saith my God.        220
Listen, ye Magistrates, for the Lord hath said it!
The day ye put his servitors to death,
That day the Day of your own Visitation,
The Day of Wrath, shall pass above your heads,
And ye shall be accursed forevermore!
To EDITH, embracing her.
        225
Cheer up, dear heart! they have not power to harm us.
[Exeunt CHRISTISON and EDITH guarded. The Scene closes.
 
SCENE II.—A street. Enter JOHN ENDICOTT and UPSALL.

JOHN ENDICOTT.
Scourged in three towns! and yet the busy people
Go up and down the streets on their affairs
Of business or of pleasure, as if nothing
Had happened to disturb them or their thoughts!        230
When bloody tragedies like this are acted,
The pulses of a nation should stand still;
The town should be in mourning, and the people
Speak only in low whispers to each other.
 
UPSALL.
I know this people; and that underneath
        235
A cold outside there burns a secret fire
That will find vent, and will not be put out,
Till every remnant of these barbarous laws
Shall be to ashes burned, and blown away.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Scourged in three towns! It is incredible
        240
Such things can be! I feel the blood within me
Fast mounting in rebellion, since in vain
Have I implored compassion of my father!
 
UPSALL.
You know your father only as a father;
I know him better as a Magistrate.        245
He is a man both loving and severe;
A tender heart; a will inflexible.
None ever loved him more than I have loved him.
He is an upright man and a just man
In all things save the treatment of the Quakers.        250
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Yet I have found him cruel and unjust
Even as a father. He has driven me forth
Into the street; has shut his door upon me,
With words of bitterness. I am as homeless
As these poor Quakers are.

UPSALL.
                    Then come with me.
        255
You shall be welcome for your father’s sake,
And the old friendship that has been between us.
He will relent erelong. A father’s anger
Is like a sword without a handle, piercing
Both ways alike, and wounding him that wields it        260
No less than him that it is pointed at.    [Exeunt.
 
SCENE III.—The prison. Night. EDITH reading the Bible by a lamp.

EDITH.
“Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you,
And shall revile you, and shall say against you
All manner of evil falsely for my sake!
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great        265
Is your reward in heaven. For so the prophets,
Which were before you, have been persecuted.”
Enter JOHN ENDICOTT.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Edith!

EDITH.
        Who is it that speaketh?

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                        Saul of Tarsus:
As thou didst call me once.

EDITH  (coming forward).
                        Yea, I remember.
Thou art the Governor’s son.

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                            I am ashamed
        270
Thou shouldst remember me.

EDITH.
                        Why comest thou
Into this dark guest-chamber in the night?
What seekest thou?

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                    Forgiveness!

EDITH.
                            I forgive
All who have injured me. What hast thou done?
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
I have betrayed thee, thinking that in this
        275
I did God service. Now, in deep contrition,
I come to rescue thee.

EDITH.
                    From what?

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                            From prison.
 
EDITH.
I am safe here within these gloomy walls.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
From scourging in the streets, and in three towns!
 
EDITH.
Remembering who was scourged for me, I shrink not
        280
Nor shudder at the forty stripes save one.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Perhaps from death itself!

EDITH.
                        I fear not death,
Knowing who died for me.

JOHN ENDICOTT  (aside).
                        Surely some divine
Ambassador is speaking through those lips
And looking through those eyes! I cannot answer!        285
 
EDITH.
If all these prison doors stood opened wide
I would not cross the threshold,—not one step.
There are invisible bars I cannot break;
There are invisible doors that shut me in,
And keep me ever steadfast to my purpose.        290
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Thou hast the patience and the faith of Saints!
 
EDITH.
Thy Priest hath been with me this day to save me,
Not only from the death that comes to all,
But from the second death!

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                        The Pharisee!
My heart revolts against him and his creed!        295
Alas! the coat that was without a seam
Is rent asunder by contending sects;
Each bears away a portion of the garment,
Blindly believing that he has the whole!
 
EDITH.
When Death, the Healer, shall have touched our eyes
        300
With moist clay of the grave, then shall we see
The truth as we have never yet beheld it.
But he that overcometh shall not be
Hurt of the second death. Has he forgotten
The many mansions in our father’s house?        305
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
There is no pity in his iron heart!
The hands that now bear stamped upon their palms
The burning sign of Heresy, hereafter
Shall be uplifted against such accusers,
And then the imprinted letter and its meaning        310
Will not be Heresy, but Holiness!
 
EDITH.
Remember, thou condemnest thine own father!
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
I have no father! He has cast me off.
I am as homeless as the wind that moans
And wanders through the streets. Oh, come with me!        315
Do not delay. Thy God shall be my God,
And where thou goest I will go.

EDITH.
                            I cannot.
Yet will I not deny it, nor conceal it;
From the first moment I beheld thy face
I felt a tenderness in my soul towards thee.        320
My mind has since been inward to the Lord,
Waiting his word. It has not yet been spoken.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
I cannot wait. Trust me. Oh, come with me!
 
EDITH.
In the next room, my father, an old man,
Sitteth imprisoned and condemned to death,        325
Willing to prove his faith by martyrdom;
And thinkest thou his daughter would do less?
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Oh, life is sweet, and death is terrible!
 
EDITH.
I have too long walked hand in hand with death
To shudder at that pale familiar face.        330
But leave me now. I wish to be alone.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Not yet. Oh, let me stay.

EDITH.
                    Urge me no more.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Alas! good-night. I will not say good-by!
 
EDITH.
Put this temptation underneath thy feet.
To him that overcometh shall be given        335
The white stone with the new name written on it,
That no man knows save him that doth receive it,
And I will give thee a new name, and call thee
Paul of Damascus and not Saul of Tarsus.
[Exit ENDICOTT. EDITH sits down again to read the Bible.
 
 
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