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.
Giles Corey of the Salem Farms.
Act IV
 
SCENE I.—The Green in front of the village Meeting-house. An excited crowd gathering. Enter JOHN GLOYD.

A FARMER.
Who will be tried to-day?

A SECOND.
                        I do not know.
Here is John Gloyd. Ask him; he knows.

FARMER.
                            John Gloyd,
Whose turn is it to-day?

GLOYD.
                    It ’s Goodwife Corey’s.
 
FARMER.
Giles Corey’s wife?

GLOYD.
                The same. She is not mine.
It will go hard with her with all her praying.        5
The hypocrite! She ’s always on her knees;
But she prays to the Devil when she prays.
Let us go in.
A trumpet blows.

FARMER.
                Here come the Magistrates.
 
SECOND FARMER.
Who ’s the tall man in front?

GLOYD.
                    Oh, that is Hathorne,
A Justice of the Court, and Quartermaster        10
In the Three County Troop. He ’ll sift the matter.
That ’s Corwin with him; and the man in black
Is Cotton Mather, Minister of Boston.
Enter HATHORNE and other Magistrates on horseback, followed by the Sheriff, constables, and attendants on foot. The Magistrates dismount, and enter the Meeting-house with the rest.
 
FARMER.
The Meeting-house is full. I never saw
So great a crowd before.

GLOYD.
                    No matter. Come.
        15
We shall find room enough by elbowing
Our way among them. Put your shoulder to it.
 
FARMER.
There were not half so many at the trial
Of Goodwife Bishop.

GLOYD.
                    Keep close after me.
I ’ll find a place for you. They ’ll want me there.        20
I am a friend of Corey’s, as you know,
And he can’t do without me just at present.    [Exeunt.
 
SCENE II.—Interior of the Meeting-house. MATHER and the Magistrates seated in front of the pulpit. Before them a raised platform. MARTHA in chains. COREY near her. MARY WALCOT in a chair. A crowd of spectators, among them GLOYD. Confusion and murmurs during the scene.

HATHORNE.
Call Martha Corey.

MARTHA.
                    I am here.

HATHORNE.
                            Come forward.
She ascends the platform.
The Jurors of our Sovereign Lord and Lady
The King and Queen, here present, do accuse you        25
Of having on the tenth of June last past,
And divers other times before and after,
Wickedly used and practised certain arts
Called Witchcrafts, Sorceries, and Incantations,
Against one Mary Walcot, single woman,        30
Of Salem Village; by which wicked arts
The aforesaid Mary Walcot was tormented,
Tortured, afflicted, pined, consumed, and wasted,
Against the peace of our Sovereign Lord and Lady
The King and Queen, as well as of the Statute        35
Made and provided in that case. What say you?
 
MARTHA.
Before I answer, give me leave to pray.
 
HATHORNE.
We have not sent for you, nor are we here,
To hear you pray, but to examine you
In whatsoever is alleged against you.        40
Why do you hurt this person?

MARTHA.
                            I do not.
I am not guilty of the charge against me.
 
MARY.
Avoid, she-devil! You may torment me now!
Avoid, avoid, Witch!

MARTHA.
                        I am innocent.
I never had to do with any Witchcraft        45
Since I was born. I am a gospel woman.
 
MARY.
You are a gospel Witch!

MARTHA  (clasping her hands).
                        Ah me! ah me!
Oh, give me leave to pray!

MARY  (stretching out her hands).
                        She hurts me now.
See, she has pinched my hands!

HATHORNE.
                    Who made these marks
Upon her hands?

MARTHA.
                    I do not know. I stand
        50
Apart from her. I did not touch her hands.
 
HATHORNE.
Who hurt her then?

MARTHA.
                    I know not.

HATHORNE.
                            Do you think
She is bewitched?

MARTHA.
                    Indeed I do not think so.
I am no Witch, and have no faith in Witches.
 
HATHORNE.
Then answer me: When certain persons came
        55
To see you yesterday, how did you know
Beforehand why they came?

MARTHA.
                        I had had speech;
The children said I hurt them, and I thought
These people came to question me about it.
 
HATHORNE.
How did you know the children had been told
        60
To note the clothes you wore?

MARTHA.
                        My husband told me
What others said about it.

HATHORNE.
                        Goodman Corey,
Say, did you tell her?

COREY.
                I must speak the truth;
I did not tell her. It was some one else.
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not say your husband told you so?
        65
How dare you tell a lie in this assembly?
Who told you of the clothes? Confess the truth.
MARTHA bites her lips, and is silent.
You bite your lips, but do not answer me!
 
MARY.
Ah, she is biting me! Avoid, avoid!
 
HATHORNE.
You said your husband told you.

MARTHA.
                        Yes, he told me
        70
The children said I troubled them.

HATHORNE.
                            Then tell me,
Why do you trouble them?

MARTHA.
                        I have denied it.
 
MARY.
She threatened me; stabbed at me with her spindle;
And, when my brother thrust her with his sword,
He tore her gown, and cut a piece away.        75
Here are they both, the spindle and the cloth.
Shows them.
 
HATHORNE.
And there are persons here who know the truth
Of what has now been said. What answer make you?
 
MARTHA.
I make no answer. Give me leave to pray.
 
HATHORNE.
Whom would you pray to?

MARTHA.
                    To my God and Father.
        80
 
HATHORNE.
Who is your God and Father?

MARTHA.
                            The Almighty!
 
HATHORNE.
Doth he you pray to say that he is God?
It is the Prince of Darkness, and not God.
 
MARY.
There is a dark shape whispering in her ear.
 
HATHORNE.
What does it say to you?

MARTHA.
                            I see no shape.
        85
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not hear it whisper?

MARTHA.
                        I heard nothing.
 
MARY.
What torture! Ah, what agony I suffer!
Falls into a swoon.
 
HATHORNE.
You see this woman cannot stand before you.
If you would look for mercy, you must look
In God’s way, by confession of your guilt.        90
Why does your spectre haunt and hurt this person?
 
MARTHA.
I do not know. He who appeared of old
In Samuel’s shape, a saint and glorified,
May come in whatsoever shape he chooses.
I cannot help it. I am sick at heart!        95
 
COREY.
O Martha, Martha! let me hold your hand.
 
HATHORNE.
No; stand aside, old man.

MARY  (starting up).
                Look there! Look there!
I see a little bird, a yellow bird,
Perched on her finger; and it pecks at me.
Ah, it will tear mine eyes out!

MARTHA.
                        I see nothing.
        100
 
HATHORNE.
’T is the Familiar Spirit that attends her.
 
MARY.
Now it has flown away. It sits up there
Upon the rafters. It is gone; is vanished.
 
MARTHA.
Giles, wipe these tears of anger from mine eyes.
Wipe the sweat from my forehead. I am faint.
She leans against the railing.
        105
 
MARY.
Oh, she is crushing me with all her weight!
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not carry once the Devil’s Book
To this young woman?

MARTHA.
                    Never.

HATHORNE.
                    Have you signed it,
Or touched it?

MARTHA.
                No; I never saw it.
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not scourge her with an iron rod?
        110
 
MARTHA.
No, I did not. If any Evil Spirit
Has taken my shape to do these evil deeds,
I cannot help it. I am innocent.
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not say the Magistrates were blind?
That you would open their eyes?

MARTHA  (with a scornful laugh).
                        Yes, I said that;
        115
If you call me a sorceress, you are blind!
If you accuse the innocent, you are blind!
Can the innocent be guilty?

HATHORNE.
                            Did you not
On one occasion hide your husband’s saddle
To hinder him from coming to the Sessions?        120
 
MARTHA.
I thought it was a folly in a farmer
To waste his time pursuing such illusions.
 
HATHORNE.
What was the bird that this young woman saw
Just now upon your hand?

MARTHA.
                        I know no bird.
 
HATHORNE.
Have you not dealt with a Familiar Spirit?
        125
 
MARTHA.
No, never, never!

HATHORNE.
                What then was the Book
You showed to this young woman, and besought her
To write in it?

MARTHA.
                Where should I have a book?
I showed her none, nor have none.

MARY.
                        The next Sabbath
Is the Communion Day, but Martha Corey        130
Will not be there!

MARTHA.
                Ah, you are all against me.
What can I do or say?

HATHORNE.
                        You can confess.
 
MARTHA.
No, I cannot, for I am innocent.
 
HATHORNE.
We have the proof of many witnesses
That you are guilty.

MARTHA.
                Give me leave to speak.
        135
Will you condemn me on such evidence,—
You who have known me for so many years?
Will you condemn me in this house of God,
Where I so long have worshipped with you all?
Where I have eaten the bread and drunk the wine        140
So many times at our Lord’s Table with you?
Bear witness, you that hear me; you all know
That I have led a blameless life among you,
That never any whisper of suspicion
Was breathed against me till this accusation.        145
And shall this count for nothing? Will you take
My life away from me, because this girl,
Who is distraught, and not in her right mind,
Accuses me of things I blush to name?
 
HATHORNE.
What! is it not enough? Would you hear more?
        150
Giles Corey!

COREY.
                I am here.

HATHORNE.
                    Come forward, then.
COREY ascends the platform.
Is it not true, that on a certain night
You were impeded strangely in your prayers?
That something hindered you? and that you left
This woman here, your wife, kneeling alone
Upon the hearth?

COREY.
                    Yes; I cannot deny it.
        155
 
HATHORNE.
Did you not say the Devil hindered you?
 
COREY.
I think I said some words to that effect.
 
HATHORNE.
Is it not true, that fourteen head of cattle,
To you belonging, broke from their enclosure
And leaped into the river, and were drowned?        160
 
COREY.
It is most true.

HATHORNE.
                    And did you not then say
That they were overlooked?

COREY.
                        So much I said.
I see; they ’re drawing round me closer, closer,
A net I cannot break, cannot escape from!    (Aside.)
 
HATHORNE.
Who did these things?

COREY.
                I do not know who did them.
        165
 
HATHORNE.
Then I will tell you. It is some one near you;
You see her now; this woman, your own wife.
 
COREY.
I call the heavens to witness, it is false!
She never harmed me, never hindered me
In anything but what I should not do.        170
And I bear witness in the sight of heaven,
And in God’s house here, that I never knew her
As otherwise than patient, brave, and true,
Faithful, forgiving, full of charity,
A virtuous and industrious and good wife!        175
 
HATHORNE.
Tut, tut, man; do not rant so in your speech;
You are a witness, not an advocate!
Here, Sheriff, take this woman back to prison.
 
MARTHA.
O Giles, this day you ’ve sworn away my life!
 
MARY.
Go, go and join the Witches at the door.
        180
Do you not hear the drum? Do you not see them?
Go quick. They ’re waiting for you. You are late.
[Exit MARTHA; COREY following.
 
COREY.
The dream! the dream! the dream!

HATHORNE.
                    What does he say?
Giles Corey, go not hence. You are yourself
Accused of Witchcraft and of Sorcery        185
By many witnesses. Say, are you guilty?
 
COREY.
I know my death is foreordained by you,—
Mine and my wife’s. Therefore I will not answer.
During the rest of the scene he remains silent.
 
HATHORNE.
Do you refuse to plead?—’T were better for you
To make confession, or to plead Not Guilty.—        190
Do you not hear me?—Answer, are you guilty?
Do you not know a heavier doom awaits you,
If you refuse to plead, than if found guilty?
Where is John Gloyd?

GLOYD  (coming forward).
                    Here am I.

HATHORNE.
                        Tell the Court;
Have you not seen the supernatural power        195
Of this old man? Have you not seen him do
Strange feats of strength?

GLOYD.
                I ’ve seen him lead the field,
On a hot day, in mowing, and against
Us younger men; and I have wrestled with him.
He threw me like a feather. I have seen him        200
Lift up a barrel with his single hands,
Which two strong men could hardly lift together,
And, holding it above his head, drink from it.
 
HATHORNE.
That is enough; we need not question further.
What answer do you make to this, Giles Corey?        205
 
MARY.
See there! See there!

HATHORNE.
                What is it? I see nothing.
 
MARY.
Look! Look! It is the ghost of Robert Goodell,
Whom fifteen years ago this man did murder
By stamping on his body! In his shroud
He comes here to bear witness to the crime!
The crowd shrinks back from COREY in horror.
        210
 
HATHORNE.
Ghosts of the dead and voices of the living
Bear witness to your guilt, and you must die!
It might have been an easier death. Your doom
Will be on your own head, and not on ours.
Twice more will you be questioned of these things;        215
Twice more have room to plead or to confess.
If you are contumacious to the Court,
And if, when questioned, you refuse to answer,
Then by the Statute you will be condemned
To the peine forte et dure! To have your body        220
Pressed by great weights until you shall be dead!
And may the Lord have mercy on your soul!
 
 
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