Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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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 V
 
SCENE I.—Daybreak. Street in front of UPSALL’S house. A light in the window. Enter JOHN ENDICOTT.

JOHN ENDICOTT.
O SILENT, sombre, and deserted streets,
To me ye ’re peopled with a sad procession,
And echo only to the voice of sorrow!
O houses full of peacefulness and sleep,
Far better were it to awake no more        5
Than wake to look upon such scenes again!
There is a light in Master Upsall’s window.
The good man is already risen, for sleep
Deserts the couches of the old.
Knocks at UPSALL’S door.

UPSALL  (at the window).
                            Who ’s there?
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Am I so changed you do not know my voice?
        10
 
UPSALL.
I know you. Have you heard what things have happened?
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
I have heard nothing.

UPSALL.
                    Stay; I will come down.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
I am afraid some dreadful news awaits me!
I do not dare to ask, yet am impatient
To know the worst. Oh, I am very weary        15
With waiting and with watching and pursuing!
Enter UPSALL.
 
UPSALL.
Thank God, you have come back! I ’ve much to tell you.
Where have you been?

JOHN ENDICOTT.
            You know that I was seized,
Fined, and released again. You know that Edith,
After her scourging in three towns, was banished        20
Into the wilderness, into the land
That is not sown; and there I followed her,
But found her not. Where is she?

UPSALL.
                            She is here.
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Oh, do not speak that word, for it means death!
 
UPSALL.
No, it means life. She sleeps in yonder chamber.
        25
Listen to me. When news of Leddra’s death
Reached England, Edward Burroughs, having boldly
Got access to the presence of the King,
Told him there was a vein of innocent blood
Opened in his dominions here, which threatened        30
To overrun them all. The King replied,
“But I will stop that vein!” and he forthwith
Sent his Mandamus to our Magistrates,
That they proceed no further in this business.
So all are pardoned, and all set at large.        35
 
JOHN ENDICOTT.
Thank God! This is a victory for truth!
Our thoughts are free. They cannot be shut up
In prison walls, nor put to death on scaffolds!
 
UPSALL.
Come in; the morning air blows sharp and cold
Through the damp streets.

JOHN ENDICOTT.
                    It is the dawn of day
        40
That chases the old darkness from our sky,
And fills the land with liberty and light.    [Exeunt.
 
SCENE II.—The parlor of the Three Mariners. Enter KEMPTHORN.

KEMPTHORN.
A dull life this,—a dull life anyway!
Ready for sea; the cargo all aboard,
Cleared for Barbadoes, and a fair wind blowing        45
From nor’-nor’-west; and I, an idle lubber,
Laid neck and heels by that confounded bond!
I said to Ralph, says I, “What ’s to be done?”
Says he: “Just slip your hawser in the night;
Sheer off, and pay it with the topsail, Simon.”        50
But that won’t do; because, you see, the owners
Somehow or other are mixed up with it.
Here are King Charles’s Twelve Good Rules, that Cole
Thinks as important as the Rule of Three.
Reads.
“Make no comparisons; make no long meals.”        55
Those are good rules and golden for a landlord
To hang in his best parlor, framed and glazed!
“Maintain no ill opinions; urge no healths.”
I drink the King’s, whatever he may say,
And, as to ill opinions, that depends.        60
Now of Ralph Goldsmith I ’ve a good opinion,
And of the bilboes I ’ve an ill opinion;
And both of these opinions I ’ll maintain
As long as there ’s a shot left in the locker.
Enter EDWARD BUTTER with an ear-trumpet.
 
BUTTER.
Good morning, Captain Kempthorn.

KEMPTHORN.
                            Sir, to you.
        65
You ’ve the advantage of me. I don’t know you.
What may I call your name?

BUTTER.
                    That ’s not your name?
 
KEMPTHORN.
Yes, that ’s my name. What ’s yours?

BUTTER.
                        My name is Butter.
I am the treasurer of the Commonwealth.
 
KEMPTHORN.
Will you be seated?

BUTTER.
            What say? Who ’s conceited?
        70
 
KEMPTHORN.
Will you sit down?

BUTTER.
                    Oh, thank you.

KEMPTHORN.
                        Spread yourself
Upon this chair, sweet Butter.

BUTTER  (sitting down).
                        A fine morning.
 
KEMPTHORN.
Nothing ’s the matter with it that I know of.
I have seen better, and I have seen worse.
The wind ’s nor’west. That ’s fair for them that sail.        75
 
BUTTER.
You need not speak so loud; I understand you.
You sail to-day.

KEMPTHORN.
                    No, I don’t sail to-day.
So, be it fair or foul, it matters not.
Say, will you smoke? There ’s choice tobacco here.
 
BUTTER.
No, thank you. It ’s against the law to smoke.
        80
 
KEMPTHORN.
Then, will you drink? There ’s good ale at this inn.
 
BUTTER.
No, thank you. It ’s against the law to drink.
 
KEMPTHORN.
Well, almost everything ’s against the law
In this good town. Give a wide berth to one thing,
You ’re sure to fetch up soon on something else.        85
 
BUTTER.
And so you sail to-day for dear Old England.
I am not one of those who think a sup
Of this New England air is better worth
Than a whole draught of our Old England’s ale.
 
KEMPTHORN.
Nor I. Give me the ale and keep the air.
        90
But, as I said, I do not sail to-day.
 
BUTTER.
Ah yes; you sail to-day.

KEMPTHORN.
                        I ’m under bonds
To take some Quakers back to the Barbadoes;
And one of them is banished, and another
Is sentenced to be hanged.

BUTTER.
                No, all are pardoned,
        95
All are set free, by order of the Court;
But some of them would fain return to England.
You must not take them. Upon that condition
Your bond is cancelled.

KEMPTHORN.
                Ah, the wind has shifted!
I pray you, do you speak officially?        100
 
BUTTER.
I always speak officially. To prove it,
Here is the bond.
Rising and giving a paper.

KEMPTHORN.
                And here ’s my hand upon it.
And, look you, when I say I ’ll do a thing
The thing is done. Am I now free to go?
 
BUTTER.
What say?

KEMPTHORN.
            I say, confound the tedious man
        105
With his strange speaking-trumpet! Can I go?
 
BUTTER.
You ’re free to go, by order of the Court.
Your servant, sir.    [Exit.

KEMPTHORN (shouting from the window).
                Swallow, ahoy! Hallo!
If ever a man was happy to leave Boston,
That man is Simon Kempthorn of the Swallow!
Reënter BUTTER.
        110
 
BUTTER.
Pray, did you call?

KEMPTHORN.
            Call? Yes, I hailed the Swallow.
 
BUTTER.
That ’s not my name. My name is Edward Butter.
You need not speak so loud.

KEMPTHORN (shaking hands).
                    Good-by! Good-by!
 
BUTTER.
Your servant, sir.

KEMPTHORN.
                And yours a thousand times!    [Exeunt.
 
SCENE III.—GOVERNOR ENDICOTT’S private room. An open window. ENDICOTT seated in an arm-chair. BELLINGHAM standing near.

ENDICOTT.
O lost, O loved! wilt thou return no more?
        115
O loved and lost, and loved the more when lost!
How many men are dragged into their graves
By their rebellious children! I now feel
The agony of a father’s breaking heart
In David’s cry, “O Absalom, my son!”        120
 
BELLINGHAM.
Can you not turn your thoughts a little while
To public matters? There are papers here
That need attention.

ENDICOTT.
                    Trouble me no more!
My business now is with another world.
Ah, Richard Bellingham! I greatly fear        125
That in my righteous zeal I have been led
To doing many things which, left undone,
My mind would now be easier. Did I dream it,
Or has some person told me, that John Norton
Is dead?

BELLINGHAM.
        You have not dreamed it. He is dead,
        130
And gone to his reward. It was no dream.
 
ENDICOTT.
Then it was very sudden; for I saw him
Standing where you now stand, not long ago.
 
BELLINGHAM.
By his own fireside, in the afternoon,
A faintness and a giddiness came o’er him;        135
And, leaning on the chimney-piece, he cried,
“The hand of God is on me!” and fell dead.
 
ENDICOTT.
And did not some one say, or have I dreamed it,
That Humphrey Atherton is dead?

BELLINGHAM.
                            Alas!
He too is gone, and by a death as sudden.        140
Returning home one evening, at the place
Where usually the Quakers have been scourged,
His horse took fright, and threw him to the ground,
So that his brains were dashed about the street.
 
ENDICOTT.
I am not superstitious, Bellingham,
        145
And yet I tremble lest it may have been
A judgment on him.

BELLINGHAM.
                    So the people think.
They say his horse saw standing in the way
The ghost of William Leddra, and was frightened.
And furthermore, brave Richard Davenport,        150
The captain of the Castle, in the storm
Has been struck dead by lightning.

ENDICOTT.
                        Speak no more.
For as I listen to your voice it seems
As if the Seven Thunders uttered their voices,
And the dead bodies lay about the streets        155
Of the disconsolate city! Bellingham,
I did not put those wretched men to death.
I did but guard the passage with the sword
Pointed towards them, and they rushed upon it!
Yet now I would that I had taken no part        160
In all that bloody work.

BELLINGHAM.
                        The guilt of it
Be on their heads, not ours.

ENDICOTT.
                        Are all set free?
 
BELLINGHAM.
All are at large.

ENDICOTT.
            And none have been sent back
To England to malign us with the King?
 
BELLINGHAM.
The ship that brought them sails this very hour,
        165
But carries no one back.
A distant cannon.

ENDICOTT.
                        What is that gun?
 
BELLINGHAM.
Her parting signal. Through the window there,
Look, you can see her sails, above the roofs,
Dropping below the Castle, outward bound.
 
ENDICOTT.
O white, white, white! Would that my soul had wings
        170
As spotless as those shining sails to fly with!
Now lay this cushion straight. I thank you. Hark!
I thought I heard the hall door open and shut!
I thought I heard the footsteps of my boy!
 
BELLINGHAM.
It was the wind. There ’s no one in the passage.
        175
 
ENDICOTT.
O Absalom, my son! I feel the world
Sinking beneath me, sinking, sinking, sinking!
Death knocks! I go to meet him! Welcome, Death!
Rises, and sinks back dead; his head falling aside upon his shoulder.
 
BELLINGHAM.
O ghastly sight! Like one who has been hanged!
Endicott! Endicott! He makes no answer!
Raises ENDICOTT’S head.
        180
He breathes no more! How bright this signet-ring
Glitters upon his hand, where he has worn it
Through such long years of trouble, as if Death
Had given him this memento of affection,
And whispered in his ear, “Remember me!”        185
How placid and how quiet is his face,
Now that the struggle and the strife are ended!
Only the acrid spirit of the times
Corroded this true steel. Oh, rest in peace,
Courageous heart! Forever rest in peace!        190
 
 
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