DOCTOR HAENLE. Well, well, well!
HERR HOLTHOFF. She is carried off on the back of a centaur.
KARL MARX. A whirlwind wooing!
FRAU HOLTHOFF. Affinities!
* * * * *
Scene: Hotel veranda in the Swiss Mountains.
[Present: Herr Holthoff, Frau Holthoff, Doctor Haenle, Lassalle and Helene, seated or walking about and talking leisurely. Surroundings beautiful and an air of peace pervades the place.]
DOCTOR HAENLE. These early Fall days are the finest of the year in the mountains.
HELENE. Yes: for then the guests have mostly gone.
LASSALLE. Just as the church is never quite so sacred as when the priest is not there!
FRAU HOLTHOFF. You mean the priest and congregation?
LASSALLE. Certainly, they go together. A priest apart from his people is simply a man.
HELENE. Ferdinand loves the Church!
LASSALLE. You should say a church, my lady fair!
HELENE. Yes, a church—this is the fourth time we have met. Two of the other times were in a church.
LASSALLE. [Ecstatically] Yes, in the dim, cool, religious light of a church, vacant save for us two—I should say for us one!
HELENE. We just sat and said the lover's litany—"Love like ours can never die."
HERR HOLTHOFF. Well, love and religion are one at the last.
LASSALLE. They were one once, and neither will be right until they are one again.
HELENE. A creed is made up of ossified metaphors—lover's metaphors.
DOCTOR HAENLE. Good, and every one can believe a creed if you allow him to place his own interpretation on it!
LASSALLE. That is what we will do in the Co-operative Commonwealth.
DOCTOR HAENLE. Which reminds me that Bismarck, who loves you almost as well as we do, declares that you are a Monarchist, not a Socialist, the difference being that you believe in the House of Lassalle and he in the House of Hohenzollern.
LASSALLE. Which means, I suppose, that I will be king of the Co-operative Commonwealth?
HELENE. You will be if I have my way.
DOCTOR HAENLE. Heresy and sedition! The woman who loves a man confuses him with God, and regards him as one divinely appointed to rule.
HELENE. I can not deny it if I would.
FRAU HOLTHOFF. And yet tomorrow you and Lassalle part!
HELENE. Only for a time.
LASSALLE. For how long, no man can say; that is why I have urged that we should be married here and now. A notary can be gotten from the village in an hour—you, dear comrades, shall be the witnesses.
HELENE. It is only my love that makes me hesitate. The future of Ferdinand Lassalle, and the future of Socialism must not be jeopardized!
DOCTOR HAENLE. Jeopardized?
LASSALLE. Jeopardized by love?
HELENE. The world would regard a marriage here as an elopement. My father would be furious. Who are we that we should run away to wed, as if I were a schoolgirl and Lassalle a grocer's clerk! Lassalle is the king of men. He convinces them by his logic, by his presence, by his enthusiasm——
HERR HOLTHOFF. He has convinced you in any event.
HELENE. And he can and will convince the world!
DOCTOR HAENLE. I believe he will.
HELENE. And when he wins my parents he will secure an influence that will help usher in the Better Day. Besides——
HELENE. [Laughing] I am engaged to marry Prince Racowitza!
LASSALLE. [Smiling] True, I forgot. But when he sees the Goddess of the Dawn and the Socialistic Sun-God together, he will give them his blessing and renounce all claims.
HELENE. Exactly so.
DOCTOR HAENLE. Which is certainly better than to snip him off without first tying the ligature.
FRAU HOLTHOFF. This whole situation is really amusing when one takes a cool look at it. Here is Helene betrothed to Prince Racowitza, who is intelligent, kind, amiable, good, unobjectionable. And because society demands that a girl shall marry somebody, she accepts the situation, and until Lassalle, the vagrant planet, came shooting through space, this girl of aspiration and ambition would have actually wedded the unobjectionable man and herself become unobjectionable to please her unobjectionable parents.
HERR HOLTHOFF. That is a plain, judicial statement of the case, made by the wife of a fairly good man.
LASSALLE. Error set in motion continues indefinitely, all according to the physical law of inertia. The customs of society continue, and are always regarded by the many as perfect—in fact, divine. This continues until some one called a demagogue and a fanatic suggests a change. This talk of change causes a little wobble in the velocity of the error, but it still spins forward and crushes and mangles all who get in the way. That is what you call orthodoxy—the subjection of the many. The men, run over and mangled, are spoken of as "dangerous."
HERR HOLTHOFF. Which reminds me that when people say a man is dangerous, they simply mean that his ideas are new to them.
LASSALLE. [Seating himself at a table opposite Helene] You hear, my Goddess of the Dawn, Helene, that dangerous ideas are simply new ideas?
HELENE. Yes, I heard it and I have said it.
LASSALLE. Because I have said it.
HELENE. Undoubtedly, which is reason enough.
LASSALLE. Can you make your father believe that?
HELENE. I intend to try and I expect to succeed.
[All slip away and leave Helene and Lassalle alone. As the conversation grows earnest, he holds her hands across the table, just as the lovers do in a Gibson picture.]
LASSALLE. And you still think this better than that we should proclaim the republic tomorrow, and have our dear friends go down and inform the world that we are man and wife?
HELENE. Listen: The desire of my life is to be your wife. No ceremony can make us more completely one than we are now. My soul is intertwined with yours. All that remains is, how shall we announce the truth to the world? Shall we do it by the tongue of scandal? That is not necessary. Doctor Haenle can take you to call on my father. I will be there—we will meet incidentally. You are irresistible to men, as well as to women. My father will study you. You will allow him to talk—you will agree with him. After he has said all he has to say, you will talk, and he will gradually agree with you. My parents will become accustomed to your presence—they will see that you are a gentleman. Prince Racowitza will be there, and he will not have to be told the truth—he will see it. He will be obedient to my wishes. He admires me, and you——
LASSALLE. I love you.
HELENE. You love me—the world seems tame. I am simply yours.
LASSALLE. I realize it, and so, like your little prince, I am obedient—an obedient rebel!
HELENE. A rebel?
LASSALLE. I say it, but very gently. I can win your parents and the prince, quite as well if introduced to them as your husband, as if we faced each other in their presence and pretended—a nice word, that—pretended we had never met. There, I am done. I am now your page—your slave.
HELENE. [Disturbed and slightly nettled] Then grant me a small favor.
LASSALLE. Even if it be the half of my kingdom.
HELENE. Let me see a picture of Madame Hatzfeldt!
HELENE. Madame Hatzfeldt.
LASSALLE. [Coloring and confused] Oh, surely, I will—I will find one for you and send it by mail.
HELENE. Perhaps you have one in your pocketbook?
LASSALLE. Oh, that is so; possibly I have!
[Takes pocketbook out of breast-pocket of his coat, fumbles and finds a small, square photograph, which he passes over to Helene, who studies his face and then the photograph.]
HELENE. [Looking at picture] She has intellect!
LASSALLE. [Trying to laugh] She was born in Eighteen Hundred Eight—I call her Gran'ma!
HELENE. Is she handsome?
LASSALLE. Oh, twenty years ago she was.
HELENE. Twenty years ago she was a woman in distress?
HELENE. And women in distress are very alluring to gallant and adventurous young men.
LASSALLE. It was twenty years ago, I say.
HELENE. And now you are—are friends?
LASSALLE. We are friends!
HELENE. [Archly] Shall I win her before we are married, or after?
HELENE. As you say.
LASSALLE. We are both needlessly humble, I take it!
[Smiles and gently takes her hand.]
HELENE. [Smiles back] We understand each other.
LASSALLE. And to be understood is paradise.
HELENE. We have been in paradise eight days.
LASSALLE. And now we go out into the world——
HELENE. To meet at my father's house.
LASSALLE. At the day and hour next week that you shall name.
HELENE. Even so.
[They hold hands, look into each other's eyes wistfully and solemnly. Both rise and walk off the stage in opposite directions. Lassalle hesitates, stops and looks back at her as if he expected she would turn and command him to go with her. She does not command him, and he goes off the stage alone, slowly and with a dejected air, which for him is unusual.]
* * * * *
Scene: A bedroom in the Metropolitan Hotel, Berlin.
[Lassalle in shirt-sleeves, putting on his collar before the mirror. Jacques standing by, brushing his coat.]
LASSALLE. [Wrestling with unruly collar-button] Yes; that is the coat. A long, plain, priestly coat. [Gaily, half to himself and half to valet] You see, I am going on a delicate errand, and I must not fail——
JACQUES. They say you never fail in anything.
LASSALLE. Which is not saying that I might not fail in the future.
LASSALLE. Now, today I am going to call on a man who hates me—who totally misunderstands me—and my task is to convince him, without mentioning the subject, that I am a gentleman. In fact—[A knock at the door] In fact—answer that, please, Jacques—to convince him that a man may be earnest and honest in his efforts for human betterment, and that——
JACQUES. [To porter at door] The master, Herr Lassalle, is dressing. I will give him her card.
PORTER. She says she knows him, and demands admittance. She will give neither her name nor her card.
JACQUES. Herr Lassalle can not receive her here—patience—I will tell him, and he will see her in half an hour in the parlor!
[Pauses breathlessly on the threshold, then pushes past the porter. The valet confronts her with arms outstretched to stay her entering.]
HELENE. Ferdinand—I—I am here!
[Lassalle turns and stares, surprised, overcome, joyous—seizes the valet by the shoulder and pushes him out of the door, bowling over the porter who blocks the entrance. Lassalle and Helene face each other. He is about to take her in his arms; she backs away.]
HELENE. Not yet, dear, not yet!
[She sinks into a chair in great confusion, struggling for breath.]
LASSALLE. [Leaning over her tenderly] Tell me what has happened!
HELENE. The worst.
LASSALLE. You mean——
HELENE. That I told my father and mother!
LASSALLE. And they——
HELENE. Renounced me, cursed me—called me vile names—threatened me! They said you are a—— [Trying to laugh]
LASSALLE. A Jew and a demagogue!
HELENE. Would to God they had used terms so mild.
LASSALLE. Did they attack my honor—my personal character?
HELENE. Why ask me? What they said is nothing. They are furious, blind with rage—I escaped to save my life—and—I am here.
LASSALLE. [Coolly, taking his seat in a chair opposite her] Yes, you are here, that is irrefutable. You are here. Now we must consider the situation and then decide on what to do. First, let me ask you how you came to mention me to them.
HELENE. Is it necessary that we should enter into details? Pardon me, I am so sick with fear and humiliation. When I reached home I found the whole household joyous over the news of my sister's betrothal to Count Kayserling. They are to be married in June. I thought it a good time to tell my own joy. You see, I hesitated about your coming to our home in a false position—you and I meeting as if we had never met. I told my sister first. She was grieved, but satisfied since it was my will. She kissed me in blessing. I am an honest woman, Ferdinand—that is, I want to be honest. I scorn a lie—my prayer is to leave every prevarication behind. So I told my mother of you—knowing of course there would be a storm, but never guessing the violence of it. She called in my father and cried, "Your daughter has been debauched by a Jew!" I resented the insult and tried to explain. I upheld you—my father seized the bread-knife from the table and brandished it over me, trying to make me swear never to see you. I refused—he choked me and called me a harlot. To save my life I promised never again to see you. Their violence abated, and when their vigilance relaxed, I escaped and came here—here!
[Holds out her arms toward him; and cowers into her seat as she sees he does not respond.]
LASSALLE. Yes, you are here.
HELENE. Do you not see?—I have come to you.
LASSALLE. [Musingly] I see!
HELENE. Yes, and in doing this I have burned my bridges. I can never go back—I have broken my promise with them—for you. They are no longer my parents. The Paris Express goes in half an hour——
LASSALLE. You studied the time-table?
HELENE. [Trying to smile] Yes, I calculated the time. To be caught here is death to me, and prison to you. In this town my father is supreme—the law is construed as he devises—safety for us lies in flight!
LASSALLE. But my belongings!
HELENE. Your valet can attend to them.
LASSALLE. And I run away, flee?
HELENE. [Trying to be gay] Yes, with me.
LASSALLE. [Exasperatingly cool] It would be the first time I ever ran away from danger.
HELENE. If you remain here you may never have another chance.
LASSALLE. You mean that your father or that little prince, Yanko, may do me violence?
HELENE. No one can tell what my father may do in his present state of mind.
LASSALLE. Then I will remain and see.
HELENE. [In agony] We are wasting time. Do you understand that as soon as my absence is discovered, they will hunt for me—even now the police may be notified!
LASSALLE. Let cowards and criminals run—we have done nothing of which we need be ashamed.
HELENE. Surely not—but what more can I say! Oh, Ferdinand, my Ferdinand!
LASSALLE. Listen to me——
[Knocking is heard at the door. She involuntarily moves toward him for protection. He enfolds her in his arms just an instant. More knocking and louder. Lassalle tenderly puts her away from him and goes to the door, opens it. The landlord stands there with the porter behind him.]
LANDLORD. [Entering] You will pardon me, Herr Lassalle—but the mother and sister of the Fraulein are in the parlor below. They had spies follow her—it is all a misunderstanding, I know. But the young lady should—you will pardon me, both—should not be here with you. She will have to go. I declared to her mother that she was not here; the porter told her otherwise. The police are at the entrance, and you understand I can not afford to have a scene. Will the Fraulein be so good as to go below and meet her mother?
HELENE. My mother! I have no mother.
LANDLORD. You will excuse me if I insist.
[Lassalle starts toward the landlord as if he would throttle him. Then bethinks himself and smiles.]
LASSALLE. Certainly, kind sir, she will go, and I will go with her. We will excuse you now!
[Puts hands on shoulder and half-pushes landlord out of the door. Closes door.]
HELENE. [In terror] What shall I do?
LASSALLE. Do? Why, there is only one thing to do—meet your mother and sister. I will go, too. [Adjusts his collar and puts on his vest and coat] There, I am ready—we go!
HELENE. You do not know them. It is death.
LASSALLE. Nonsense! Have I not addressed a mob and won? Do you trust me?
[Kisses her on the forehead, and putting his arm around her, leads her to the door.]
HELENE. [In agony, striving to be calm] I—I trust you. To whom can I turn!
* * * * *
Scene: The Hotel-Parlor.
[Hilda, sister of Helene, hanging dejectedly out of window. Frau Von Donniges standing statue-like in the center of room. Two hotel porters making pretense of dusting furniture.]
Enter LASSALLE with HELENE on his arm.
LASSALLE. [To Helene] Courage, my dear, courage!
[Bows to Frau Von Donniges, who is unconscious of his presence. Lassalle and Helene hesitate and look at each other nervously. Helene clutches Lassalle's arm to keep from falling—they both move slowly around the statuesque Frau. The Frau suddenly perceives them, turns and glares.]
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Away with that man—I will not allow him to remain in this room!
LASSALLE. [Bowing, with hand on heart] Surely, Madame, you do not know me. Will you not allow me to speak—to explain!
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Away, I say—out of my sight! Begone, you craven coward—you thief!
[These are new epithets to Lassalle. He is used to being called a Jew, a fanatic, a dangerous demagogue—something half-complimentary. But there is no alloy in "coward," "thief." He looks at Helene as if to receive reassurance that he hears aright.]
HELENE. Come—you see it is as I told you—reason in her is dead. Let us go.
LASSALLE. [Loosening Helene's hold upon his arm and stepping toward the Frau] Madame, you have availed yourself of a woman's privilege, and used language toward me which men never use toward each other unless they court death. I say no more to you, preferring now to speak to your husband.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Yes, you speak to my husband—and he will give you what you deserve.
LASSALLE. [Changing his tactics] Your husband is a gentleman, I trust. And you—are the mother of the lady I love, so I will resent nothing you say. You speak only in a passion, and not from your heart. I resent nothing.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. A man spotted with every vice says he loves my daughter! Your love is pollution. My ears are closed to you—you may stand and grimace and insult me, but I hear you not. Go!
LASSALLE. Very well, I will go and see Helene's father. Men may dislike each other—they may be enemies, but they do not spit on each other. If they fight, they fight courteously. I will see Helene's father—he will at least hear me.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. You enter his house, and the servants will throw your vile body into the street.
LASSALLE. I have written him that I will call.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Your letter was cast into the garbage unopened.
LASSALLE. [Stung] It may be possible, Madame, for you to wear out my patience.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. You have already succeeded in wearing out mine.
HELENE. [In agony—wringing her hands] Hopeless, Ferdinand, you see it is hopeless!
LASSALLE. [Aside to Helene] Her outbreak will pass in a moment.
FRAU VON DONNIGES. You have ruined the reputation of my family—stolen my child. You, who are known over an empire for your dealings with women!
HELENE. [Joining in the fray, in shrill excitement] False! He did not steal me—I went to him unasked. You who call yourself my mother, how dare you traduce me so, you who bore me! I fled from you to save my life—to escape your tortures, you killed my love. I am Lassalle's, because I love him. He understands me—you do not. When you abuse him, you abuse me. When you trample on him, you trample on me. I now choose life with him in preference to perdition with you. I follow him, I am his, I glory in him. Now!
[Helene turns to Lassalle in triumph, believing of course that after she has just avowed herself, they will stand together—he and she.]
LASSALLE. [Calmly] Well spoken, Helene, and now tell me, will you make a sacrifice—a temporary sacrifice for me?
HELENE. [Looking straight at him in absolute faith] Yes, command me!
LASSALLE. Go home, with your—mother!
HELENE. Anything but that.
LASSALLE. Yes, that is what I ask.
HELENE. [Writhing in awful pain] You will not ask of me the impossible.
LASSALLE. No, but this you can do. Your going will soften them. We will win them. Go with them. Do this for me. I leave you here.
[Backs away, and goes out bowing low and very calm. Helene sinks into a chair, crushed in spirit, wrenched, mangled.]
HILDA VON DONNIGES. [Comes forward, and caresses the drooping head of her sister] Bear up, Helene, my sister! We are your friends, our home is yours, no matter what you have done—we forgive it all. Our home is still yours. Bear up—he is gone—now come with us. [Helene merely moans]
FRAU VON DONNIGES. [In Amazonian flush of success] No more of this foolishness—no more of it, I say! He is gone; I knew he could not withstand my plain-spoken truths. He could not look me in the eye. You heard me, Hilda; he could not answer—he dare not. Come, Helene!
[Shakes her by the shoulder. Commotion is heard outside.]
LANDLORD. [Entering by backing into the room, striving by tongue and hands to calm some one outside] Be calm, kind sir! I am innocent in this matter. The ladies are here—here in the parlor. The man is gone—he never was here. In fact, he left before he came—be calm—I keep a respectable house. The police will raid the place, I fear. Be calm and I will explain all!
HERR VON DONNIGES. [Purple with rage, big, prosperous—brandishing cudgel] The Jew—show me the Jew who seduced my daughter! Show him to me, I say! That corrupt scum of society—the man who broke into my house and stole my daughter. [Waves his cane and smites the air] Where is that infidel Jew!
FRAU VON DONNIGES. Now, do not be a fool—I sent the Jew on his way. It was not necessary that you should follow. I can take care of this little matter.
HERR VON DONNIGES. Oh, so you protect her, do you? You side with her? You are a party to her undoing! And has the Jew seduced you, too? Where is he, I say? You seem to be deaf. This man who has ruined my home—he is the man I want, not your apologies. The girl is my daughter, I say! [Suddenly sees Helene crouching in a chair, her face between her knees] Oh, so you are here, my pretty miss—you who brought ruin on your father's house.
[Puts one foot against chair and overturns it. Kicks at prostrate form of Helene. Then seizing her by the hair, drags her across the room, striking her face with his open hands. The mother, daughter and landlord try to restrain his fury.]
LANDLORD. You will kill her!
FRAU VON DONNIGES. She has brought it on herself! But stop—it is enough.
HERR VON DONNIGES. [Half-frightened at his own violence, reaching into his pocket brings out purse and throws it at feet of landlord] Not a word about this!
LANDLORD. Trust me—you will tell of it first!
HERR VON DONNIGES. Is there a carriage at the door?
HERR VON DONNIGES. If any one asks, tell them my daughter is insane—a maniac—and a little force was necessary—you understand?
LANDLORD. I understand.
HERR VON DONNIGES. Here, we must carry her out.
[Tears down curtains from windows and rolls Helene in the curtains.]
LANDLORD. You must pay for those!
HERR VON DONNIGES. Name the amount!
LANDLORD. Why, they cost me——
HERR VON DONNIGES. Never mind. Charge them to the Jew. Here, help carry her—this daughter who has ruined me!
LANDLORD. You act like a man who might do the task of ruining yourself.
[Helene starts to rise. Her father fells her to the floor with the flat of his hand. Seizes her and with the help of the mother and landlord carries her out. Exit, with Hilda following behind, mildly wringing her hands.]
HILDA VON DONNIGES. Oh, why did she bring this disgrace upon us?
* * * * *
Scene: Room in house of Herr Von Donniges.
[Furnishings are rich and old-fashioned, as becomes the house of a collector of revenue. Helene pacing the room talking to maidservant, who sits quietly sewing.]
HELENE. It is only a week since I saw Lassalle—only a week. Yet my poor head says it is a year, and my heart says a lifetime. For six days my father kept me locked in that little room in the tower, where not even you were allowed to enter. The butler silently pushed food in at the door and as silently went away. Once each day at exactly noon my father came and solemnly asked, "Do you renounce Lassalle?" and I as solemnly answered, "I will yet be the wife of Lassalle." But since yesterday, when I wrote the letter at their dictation to Lassalle telling him that he was free, and that I was soon to marry Prince Yanko Racowitza, I feel a load lifted from my heart. How queer! Perhaps it is because I am relieved of the pressure of my parents and have been given my freedom!
MAID. Not quite freedom; for see—there is a guard pacing back and forth at the door!
[Guard is seen through the window pacing his beat.]
HELENE. Oh, freedom is only comparative—but now you are with me. I needed some one to whom I could talk. Yet I did not renounce Lassalle until he failed to rescue me—he did not even answer my letter——
MAID. Possibly he did not receive it!
HELENE. But you bribed the porter!
MAID. True; but some one may have paid him more!
HELENE. Listen, do you still think it possible that Lassalle has not forgotten me?
MAID. Not only possible, but probable. A man of his intellect would guess that the letter you wrote was forced from you.
HELENE. A lawyer surely would understand that for things done in terrorem one is not responsible. Now see what I am doing—yesterday I hoped never again to see Lassalle, and now I am planning and praying he will come to me.
MAID. Your heart is with Lassalle.
HELENE. It seems so.
MAID. Then God will bring it about, and you shall be united.
SERVANT. Prince Racowitza!
Enter PRINCE RACOWITZA
[The Prince is small, dark, dapper, unobjectionable. He is much agitated. Helene holds out her hand to him in a friendly, but non-committal, discreet way. Maid starts to go.]
PRINCE. [To maid] Do not leave the room—I have serious news, and your mistress may need your services when I tell her what I have to say!
HELENE. [Relieved by the thought that the Prince is about to renounce all claims to one so caught in the web of scandal] You will remain with me, Elizabeth; I may need you. And now, Prince Yanko—I am steeled [tries to smile]—give me the worst. [The Prince making passes in the air, tierce and thrust with his cane at an imaginary foe] I say, dear Prince, tell me the worst—I think I can bear it. [Helene is almost amused by the sight of the semi-comic opera-bouffe prince] Tell me the worst!
PRINCE. Lassalle has challenged your father!
HELENE. [Blanching] Lassalle has challenged my father!
PRINCE. To the death. [Aiming with his cane at a piece of statuary in the corner] One, two, three—fire!
HELENE. It is not so. Lassalle is opposed to the code on principle.
PRINCE. There are no principles in time of war! Are you ready, gentlemen—One, two, three!
HELENE. [Contemptuously] Why do you not fight him?
PRINCE. Is there no way, gentlemen, by which this unfortunate affair can be arranged? If not——
HELENE. You did not hear me!
PRINCE. Oh, yes, I heard you, and I am to fight him at sunrise. Your father turned the challenge over to me!
HELENE. To you?
PRINCE. And your father has fled to Paris—it is a serious thing to be a party to a duel in Germany—a sure-enough duel!
HELENE. But you are not a swordsman, nor have you ever shot a pistol—you told me so once.
PRINCE. But I have been practising at the shooting-gallery for two hours. The keeper there says I am a wonderful shot—I hit a plaster-of-Paris rabbit seven times in succession!
[Helene is excited; her thought is that Lassalle, being a sure shot and a brave man, will surely kill the Prince. This will eliminate one factor in the tangle. Lassalle having killed his man will have to flee—the Government only tolerates him now. And she will flee with him—her father in Paris, the Prince dead, exile for Lassalle—the way lubricated by the gods—good.]
HELENE. [Excitedly] Yes, fight him, kill him!
PRINCE. I will fight him at sunrise—at once after the meeting, I will drive directly here. If I am unhurt, we will fly—you and I—for Paris to meet your father. If I am wounded, the carriage will come with the horses walking; if I am dead, the horses will be on a run; if I am unharmed, the horses will simply trot and——
HELENE. [Who knows that Lassalle will kill the Prince, hysterically] Will trot—good! And now good-by, good-by!
[Kisses him explosively and backs him out of the door.]
HELENE. [In ecstasy] Lassalle will kill him!
MAID. I am afraid he will.
HELENE. And this will make us free, free!
MAID. It will exile you.
HELENE. And since this home is a prison, exile would be paradise.
* * * * *
Scene: Same as Act Five. Time, one day later.
[Very early in the morning. Helene and maid in traveling costume, small valises and rugs rolled and strapped, on center-table.]
HELENE. You gave my letter to Doctor Haenle himself, into his own hands!
MAID. Into his own hands.
HELENE. Then there was no mistake. I told Lassalle I would meet him at the station at seven o'clock—only half an hour yet to spare! We will catch the Switzerland Express. Lassalle will have to go—this affair means exile for him—but for us to be exiled together will be Heaven. Now this is a pivotal point—we must be calm.
MAID. Surely you are calm.
HELENE. Yet I did not sleep a moment all the night.
MAID. Probably Lassalle did not either.
HELENE. Did you hear a carriage?
MAID. [Peering out of window] Only a wagon.
MAID. I hear the sound of horses!
MAID. They are running!
HELENE. My God; yes, they come closer—they are running! Oh, thank Heaven, thank Heaven, the Prince is dead—I am both sorry and glad.
MAID. There, they are turning this way—there, the carriage stops at the door!
HELENE. Dead—the Prince is dead. Now in the excitement that will follow the carrying in of the body, we will escape—we can walk to the station in ten minutes—that gives us ten minutes to spare. Here, you take the rug and this valise, I will take the other. We will find a street porter at the corner, or a carriage. Do not open the door until I tell you!
[Door bursts open and Prince Yanko half-tumbles in.]
PRINCE. I am unharmed—congratulate me—I am unharmed!
[Opens arms to embrace Helene, who backs away.]
HELENE. And Lassalle—Lassalle—where is Lassalle?
PRINCE. He is dead—I killed him!
HELENE. You killed Lassalle—the greatest man in Europe—you killed him!
PRINCE. He fell at the first fire—congratulate me!
HELENE. You lie! Lassalle is not dead. Away! Away! I scorn you—loathe you—away—the sight of you burns my eyeballs—the murderer of Lassalle—away!
[Helene crouches in a corner. Prince stands stiff, amazed. The man, with valises in one hand and rug in shawl-strap, looks on with lack-luster eye, frozen by indecision.]
* * * * *
Note.—Helene von Donniges married Prince Racowitza three weeks after the death of Lassalle. The Prince died two years later. Princess Helene committed suicide at Munich, March Twenty-six, Nineteen Hundred Twelve, aged sixty-seven years. These facts are of such a dull slaty-gray and so lacking in dramatic interest that they are omitted from the play.
LORD NELSON AND LADY HAMILTON
The last moments which Nelson passed at Merton were employed in praying over his little daughter as she lay sleeping. A portrait of Lady Hamilton hung in his cabin; and no Catholic ever beheld the picture of his patron saint with more devout reverence. The undisguised and romantic passion with which he regarded it amounted almost to superstition; and when the portrait was now taken down, in clearing for action, he desired the men who removed it to "take care of his guardian angel." In this manner he frequently spoke of it, as if he believed there was a virtue in the image. He wore a miniature of her also next to his heart.
Robert Southey, poet laureate, and conservative Churchman, wrote the life of Nelson, wrote it on stolen time—sandwiched in between essays and epics. And now behold it is the one effort of Robert Southey that perennially survives, and is religiously read—his one great claim to literary immortality.
Murray, the original Barabbas, got together six magazine essays on Lord Nelson, and certain specific memoranda from Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson's sisters, and sent the bundle with a check for one hundred pounds to Southey, asking him to write the "Life," and have it ready inside of six weeks, or return the check and papers by bearer.
Southey needed the money: he had his own family to support, and also that of Coleridge, who was philosophizing in Germany. Southey needed the money! Had the check not been sent in advance, Southey would have declined the commission. Southey began the work in distaste, warmed to it, got the right focus on his subject, used the wife of Coleridge as 'prentice talent, and making twice as big a book as he had expected, completed it in just six weeks.
Other men might have written lives of Lord Nelson, but they did not; and all who write on Lord Nelson now, paraphrase Southey.
And thus are great literary reputations won on a fluke.
* * * * *
Horatio Nelson, born in Seventeen Hundred Fifty-eight, was one of a brood of nine children, left motherless when the lad was nine years of age. His father was a clergyman, and passing rich on forty pounds a year. It was the dying wish of the mother that one of the children should be adopted by her brother, Captain Suckling, of the Navy.
This captain was a grandnephew of Sir John Suckling the poet, and one of the great men of the family—himself acknowledging it. Captain Suckling promised the stricken woman that her wish should be respected. Three years went by and he made no move. Horatio, then twelve years of age, hearing that "The Raisonnable," his uncle's ship, had just anchored in the Medway, wrote the gallant captain, reminding him of the obligation and suggesting himself as a candidate.
The captain replied to the boy's father that the idea of sending the smallest and sickliest of the family to rough it at sea was a foolish idea; but if it was the father's wish, why send the youngster along, and in the very first action a cannon-ball might take off the boy's head, which would simplify the situation.
This was an acceptance, although ungracious, and our young lad was duly put aboard the stage, penniless, with a big basket of lunch, ticketed for tidewater. There a kind-hearted waterman rowed the boy out to the ship and put him aboard, where he wandered on the deck for two days, too timid to make himself known, before being discovered, and then came near being put ashore as a stowaway. It seems that the captain had made no mention to any one on the ship that his nevy was expected, and, in fact, had probably forgotten the matter himself.
And so Horatio Nelson, slim, slight, slender, fair-haired and hollow-eyed, was made cabin-boy, with orders to wait on table, wash dishes and "tidy up things." And he set such a pace in tidying up the captain's cabin that that worthy officer once remarked, "Dammittall, he isn't half as bad as he might be."
Finally, Horatio was given the tiller when a boat was sent ashore. He became an expert in steering, and was made coxswain of the captain's launch. He learned the Channel in low tide from Chatham to the Tower, making a map of it on his own account. He had a scent for rocks and shoals, and knew how to avoid them—for good pilots are born, not made.
A motherless boy with a discouraged father is very fortunate. If he ever succeeds, he knows it must be through his own exertions. The truth is pressed home upon him that there is nothing in the universe to help him but himself—a great lesson to learn.
Young Nelson soon saw that his uncle's patronage, no matter how well intentioned, could not help him beyond making him coxswain of the longboat. And anyway, if he was promoted, he wanted it to be on account of merit, and not relationship. So he got himself transferred to another boat that was about to sail for the West Indies, and took the rough service that falls to the lot of a jack-tar. His quickness in obeying orders, his alertness and ability to climb, his scorn of danger, going to the yardarm to adjust a tangled rope in a storm, or fastening the pennant to the mainmast in less time than anybody else on board ship could perform the task, made him a marked man. He did the difficult thing, the unpleasant task, with an amount of good-cheer that placed him in a class by himself. He had no competition. Success was in his blood—his silent, sober ways, intent only on doing his duty, made his services sought after when a captain was fitting out a dangerous undertaking.
Nelson made a trip to the Arctic, and came back second mate at nineteen. He went to the Barbadoes and returned lieutenant. He was a lieutenant-commander at twenty, and at twenty-one was given charge of a shipyard. Shortly after, he was made master of a schoolship, his business being to give boys their first lessons in seamanship. His methods here differed from those then in vogue. When a new boy, agitated and nervous, was ordered to climb, Nelson, noticing the lad's fear, would say, "Now, lads, I am with you and it is a race to the crow's-nest." And with a whoop he would make the start, allowing the nervous boy to outstrip him. Then once at the top, he would shout: "Now isn't this glorious! Why, there is no danger, except when you think danger. A monkey up a tree is safer than a monkey on the ground; and a sailor on the yard is happier than a sailor on the deck—hurrah!"
Admiral Hood said that, if Nelson had wished it, he could have become the greatest teacher of boys that England ever saw.
At twenty-three Nelson was made a captain and placed in charge of the "Albemarle." He was sent to the North Sea to spend the winter along the coast of Denmark. A local prince of Denmark has described a business errand made aboard the "Albemarle." Says the Dane: "On asking for the captain of the ship, I was shown a boy in a captain's uniform, the youngest man to look upon I ever saw holding a like position. His face was gaunt and yellow, his chest flat, and his legs absurdly thin. But on talking with him I saw he was a man born to command, and when he showed me the ship and pointed out the cannon, saying, 'These are for use if necessity demands,' there was a gleam in his blue eyes that backed his words."
Before he was twenty-six years old Nelson had fought pirates, savages, Spaniards, French, and even crossed the ocean to reason with Americans, having been sent to New York on a delicate diplomatic errand. On this trip he spent some weeks at Quebec, where he met a lady fair who engrossed his attention and time to such a degree that his officers feared for his sanity. This was his first love-affair, and he took it seriously.
It was time for the "Albemarle" to sail, when its little captain was seen making his way rapidly up the hill. He was given stern chase by the second officer and on being overhauled explained that he was going back to lay his heart and fortune at the feet of the lady. The friend explained that, it being but seven o'clock in the morning, the charmer probably could not be seen, and so the captain in his spangles and lace was gotten on board ship and the anchor hoisted. Once at sea, salt water and distance seemed to effect a cure.
In Nelson's character was a peculiar trace of trust and innocence. Send your boys to sea and the sailors will educate them, is a safe maxim. But Nelson was an exception, for even in his boyhood he had held little converse with his mates, and in the frolics on shore he took no part. Physically he was too weak to meet them on a level, and so he pitted his brain against their brawn. He studied and grubbed at his books while they gambled, caroused and "saw the town."
When he was in command of the schoolship, the second officer taunted him about his insignificant size. His answer was: "Sir, the pistol makes all men of equal size—to your place! And consider yourself fined ten days' pay."
In buying supplies he refused to sign vouchers unless the precise goods were delivered and the price was right. On being told that this was very foolish, and that a captain was entitled to a quiet commission on all purchases, he began an investigation on his own account and found that it was the rule that naval and army supplies cost the government on an average twenty-five per cent more than they were worth, and that the names of laborers once placed on the payroll remained there for eternity. In his zeal the young captain made a definite statement and brought charges, showing where the government was being robbed of vast sums. On reaching London he was called before the Board of Admiralty and duly cautioned to mind his own affairs.
His third act of indiscretion was his marriage in the Island of Nevis to Mrs. Frances Woolward Nesbit, a widow with one child. Widows often fall easy prey to predatory sailormen, and sometimes sailormen fall easy prey to widows. The widow was "unobjectionable," to use the words of Southey, and versed in all the polite dissipation of a prosperous slave-mart capital. Nelson looked upon all English-speaking women as angels of light and models of sympathy, insight and self-sacrifice.
Time disillusioned him; and he settled down into the firm belief that a woman was only a child—whimsical, selfish, idle, intent on gauds, jewels and chucks under the chin from specimens of the genus homo—any man—but to be tolerated and gently looked after for the good of the race. He took his wife to England and left her at his father's parsonage and sailed away for the Mediterranean to fight his country's battles.
Among other errands he had dispatches to Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy at the Court of Naples. Sir William had never met Nelson; but he was so impressed at his first meeting with the little man, that he told his wife afterwards that if she had no objection he was going to invite Captain Nelson to their home. Lady Hamilton had no objection, although a sea-captain was hardly in their class. "But," argued Sir William, "this captain is different; on talking to him and noting his sober, silent, earnest way, I concluded that the world would yet ring with the name of Nelson. He fights his enemy for laying his ship alongside and grappling him to the death."
So a room was set apart in the Hamilton household for Captain Nelson. The next day the captain wrote home to his wife that Lady Hamilton was young, amiable, witty and took an active part in the diplomatic business of the court. Nelson at this time was thirty-five years old; Lady Hamilton was three years younger.
Nelson remained only a few days in Naples, but long enough to impress himself upon the King and all the court as a man of extraordinary quality.
Sorrow and disappointment had made him a fatalist—he looked the part. Admiral Hood at this time said: "Nelson is the only absolutely invincible fighter in the navy. I only fear his recklessness, because he never counts the cost."
It was to be five years before Nelson met the Hamiltons again.
* * * * *
The man who writes the life of Lady Hamilton and tells the simple facts places his reputation for truth in jeopardy.
Emma Lyon was the daughter of a day-laborer. In her babyhood her home was Hawarden, "the luster of fame of which town is equally divided between a man and a woman," once said Disraeli, with a solemn sidelong glance at William Ewart Gladstone.
At Hawarden, Lyon the obscure, known to us for but one thing, died, and if his body was buried in the Hawarden churchyard, Destiny failed to mark the spot. The widow worked at menial tasks in the homes of the local gentry, and the child was fed with scraps that fell from the rich man's table—a condition that grew into a habit.
When Emma was thirteen years old, she had learned to read, and could "print"; that is, she could write a letter, a feat her mother never learned to do.
At this time the girl waited on table and acted as nurse-maid in the family of Sir Thomas Hawarden. Doubtless she learned by listening, and absorbed knowledge because she had the capacity. When Sir Thomas moved up to London, which is down from Hawarden, the sprightly little girl was taken along.
Her dresses were a little above her shoe-tops, but she lowered the skirt on her own account, very shortly.
Country girls of immature age, comely to look upon, had better keep close at home. The city devours such, and infamy and death for them lie in wait. But here was an exception—Emma Lyon was a child of the hedgerows, and her innocence was only in her appearance. She must have been at that time like the child of the gypsy beggar told of by Smollett, that was purchased for two pounds by an admiring gent, who made a bet with his friends that he could replace her rags with silks and fine linen, and in six weeks introduce her at court, as to the manner born, a credit to her sex. All worked well for a time, when one day, alas, under great provocation, the girl sloughed her ladylike manners, and took on the glossary of the road and camp.
Emma Lyon at fifteen, having graduated as a scullion, went to work for a shopkeeper, as a servant and general helper. It was soon found that as a saleswoman she was worth much more than as a cook. A caller asked her where she was educated, and she explained that it was at the expense of the Earl of Halifax, and that she was his ward.
The Earl fortunately was dead and could not deny the report. Sir Harry Featherston, hearing about the titled girl, or at least of the girl mentioned with titled people, rescued her from the shopkeeper and sent her to his country seat, that she might have the advantages of the best society.
Her beauty and quiet good sense seemed to back up the legend that she was the natural child of the Earl of Halifax; and as the subject seemed to be a painful one to the child herself, it was discussed only in whispers. The girl learned to ride horseback remarkably well, and at a fete appeared as Joan of Arc, armed cap-a-pie, riding a snow-white stallion. Romney, the portrait-painter, spending a week-end with Sir Henry, was struck with the picturesque beauty of the child and painted her as Diana. Romney was impressed with the plastic beauty of the girl, her downcast eyes, her silent ways, her responsive manner, and he begged Sir Harry to allow her to go to London and sit for another picture.
Now Sir Harry was a married man, senior warden of his church, and as the girl was bringing him a trifle more fame than he deserved, he consented.
Romney writing to a friend, under date of June Nineteenth, Seventeen Hundred Eighty-one, says:
"At present, and the greater part of the summer, I shall be engaged in painting pictures from the Divine Lady. I can not give her any other name, for I think her superior to all womankind.
"I have two pictures to paint of her for the Prince of Wales. She says she must see you before she leaves England, which will be in the beginning of September. She asked me if you would not write my life. I told her you had begun it; then, she said, she hoped you would have much to say of her in the life, as she prided herself upon being my model.
"I dedicate my time to this charming lady; there is a prospect of her leaving town with Sir William, for two or three weeks. They are very much hurried at present, as everything is going on for their speedy marriage, and all the world following her, and talking of her, so that if she has not more good sense than vanity, her brain must be turned. The pictures I have begun of Joan of Arc, a Magdalen, and a Bacchante for the Prince of Wales; and another I am to begin as a companion to the Bacchante. I am also to paint her as Constance for the Shakespeare Gallery."
* * * * *
Twenty-three pictures of Emma Lyon painted by Romney are now in existence. England at that time was experiencing a tidal wave of genius, and Romney and his beautiful model rode in on the crest of the wave, with Sir Joshua, the Herschels, Edmund Burke, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Doctor Johnson, Goldsmith, Horace Walpole and various others of equal note caught in amber, all of them, by the busy Boswell.
Besides those who did things worth while, there were others who buzzed, dallied, and simply seemed and thought they lived. Among this class who were famous for doing nothing was Beau Nash, the pride of the pump-room. Next in note, but more moderately colored, was Sir Charles Greville, man of polite education, a typical courtier, with a leaning toward music and the arts, which gave his character a flavor of culture that the others did not possess.
The fair Emma was giving the Romney studio a trifle more fame than the domestic peace of the portrait-painter demanded, and when Sir Charles Greville, sitting for his portrait, became acquainted with the beautiful model, Romney saw his opportunity to escape the inevitable crash. So Sir Charles, the man of culture, the patron of the picturesque, the devotee of beauty, undertook the further education of Emma as an ethnological experiment.
He employed a competent teacher to give her lessons in voice culture, to the end that she should neither screech nor purr. Sir Charles himself read to her from the poets and she committed to memory Pope's "Essay on Man," and a whole speech by Robert Walpole, which she recited at a banquet at Strawberry Hill, to the immense surprise, not to mention delight, of Horace Walpole.
Sir Charles also hired a costumer by the month to study the physiological landscape and prepare raiment of extremely rich, but somber, hues, so that the divine lady would outclass in both modesty and aplomb the fairest daughters of Albion.
About this time, Emma became known as "Lady Harte," it being discovered that Burke's Peerage contained information that the Hartes were kinsmen of the Earl of Halifax, and also that the Hartes had moved to America. The testimony of contemporary expert porchers seems to show that Sir Charles Greville spent upwards of five thousand pounds a year upon the education of his ward. This was continued for several years, when a reversal in the income of Sir Charles made retrenchment desirable, if not absolutely necessary. And as good fortune would have it, about this time Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to the Neapolitan Court, was home on a little visit.
He was introduced to Lady Harte by his nephew, Sir Charles Greville, and at once perceived and appreciated the wonderful natural as well as acquired gifts of the lady.
Lady Harte was interviewed as to her possibly becoming Lady Hamilton, all as duly provided by the laws of Great Britain and the Church of England; and it being ascertained that Lady Harte was willing, and also that she was not a sister of the deceased Lady Hamilton, Sir William and Emma were duly married.
At Naples, Lady Hamilton at once became very popular. She had a splendid presence, was a ready talker, knew the subtle art of listening, took a sympathetic interest in her husband's work, and when necessary could entertain their friends by a song, recitation or a speech. Her relationship with Sir William was beyond reproach—she was by his side wherever he went, and her early education in the practical workaday affairs of the world served her in good stead.
Southey feels called upon to criticize Lady Hamilton, but he also offers as apology for the errors of her early life, the fact of her vagabond childhood, and says her immorality was more unmoral than vicious, and that her loyalty to Sir William was beautiful and beyond cavil.
Sir William Hamilton represented the British nation at Naples for thirty-six years. He was a diplomat of the old school—gracious, refined, dignified, with a bias for Art.
Among other good things done for his country was the collecting of a vast treasure of bronzes gotten from Pompeii and Herculaneum. This collection was sold by Sir William, through the agency of his wife, to the British nation for the sum of seven thousand pounds. There was a great scandal about the purchase at the time, and the transaction was pointed out to prove the absolutely selfish and grasping qualities of Lady Hamilton, the costly and curious vases being referred to in the House of Commons as "junk."
Time, however, has given a proper focus to the matter, and this collection of beautiful things made by people dead these two thousand years is now known to be absolutely priceless, almost as much so as the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Parthenon at Athens and which now repose in the British Museum, the chief attraction of the place.
There were many visitors of note being constantly entertained at the Embassy of Naples. Among others was the Bishop of Derry, the man who enjoyed the distinction of being both a bishop and an infidel. When he made oath in the courts of alleged justice he always crossed his fingers, put his tongue in his cheek and winked at the notary.
The infidelic prelate has added his testimony to the excellence of the character of Lady Hamilton, and once swore on the book in which he did not believe, that if Sir William should die he would wed his widow. To which the lady replied, "Provided, of course, the widow was willing!" The temperature suddenly dropping below thirty-two Fahrenheit, the bishop moved on.
And along about this time the "Agamemnon" sailed into the beautiful bay of Naples, and Captain Nelson made an official call upon the envoy.
It was at dinner that night that Sir William remarked to Lady Emma: "My dear, that captain of the 'Agamemnon' is a most remarkable man. I believe I will invite him here to our home." And the lady, generous, kind, gentle, answered, "Why certainly, invite him here—a little rest from the sea he will enjoy."
* * * * *
From Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three to Seventeen Hundred Ninety-eight, Nelson made history and made it rapidly.
For three years of this time he was in constant pursuit of the enemy, with no respite from danger night or day. When a ship mutinied, Nelson was placed in charge of it if he was within call; and the result was that he always won the absolute love and devotion of his men. He had a dignity which forbade him making himself cheap, but yet he got close to living hearts. "The enemy are there," he once said to a sullen crew, "and I depend upon you to follow me over the side when we annihilate the distance that separates our ships. You shall accept no danger that I do not accept—no hardship shall be yours that shall not be mine. I need no promises from you that you will do your duty—I know you will. You believe in me and I in you—we are Englishmen, fighting our country's battles, and so to your work, my men, to your work!" The mutinous spirit melted away, for the men knew that if Nelson fought with them it would be for the privilege of getting at the enemy first. No officer ever carried out sterner discipline, and none was more implicitly obeyed. But the obedience came more through love than fear.
Nelson lost an eye in battle, in Seventeen Hundred Ninety-five. A few months after, in a fierce engagement, the admiral signaled, "Stop firing." Nelson's attention was called to the signal, and his reply was, "I am short one eye, and the other isn't much good, and I accept no signals I can not see: lay alongside of that ship and sink her."
Nelson was advanced step by step and became admiral of the fleet. At the battle of Santa Cruz, Nelson led a night attack on the town in small boats. The night was dark and stormy, and the force expected to get in under the forts without being discovered. The alarm was given, however, and the forts opened up a terrific fire. Nelson was standing in the prow of a small boat, and fell, his arm shattered at the elbow. He insisted on going forward and taking command, even though his sword-arm was useless. Loss of blood, however, soon made him desist, and he was transferred to another boat which was sent back loaded with wounded. The sailors rowed to the nearest anchored ship, her lights out and four miles from shore. On pulling up under the lee of the ship, Nelson saw that it was the corvette "Seahorse"; and he ordered the men to row to the "Agamemnon" a mile away, saying, "Captain Freemantle's wife is aboard of that ship and we are in no condition to call on ladies." Arriving at the "Agamemnon," the surgeons were already busy caring for the wounded. Seeing their commander, the surgeons rushed to his assistance. He ordered them back, declaring he would take his place and await his turn in line, and this he did.
When it came his turn, the surgeons saw that it was a comminuted fracture of the elbow, with the whole right hand reduced to a pulp, and that amputation was the only thing. There were no anesthetics, and at daylight, on the deck where there was air and light, Nelson watched the surgeons sever the worthless arm.
As they bandaged the stump, he dictated a report of the battle to his secretary; but after writing for ten minutes, the poor secretary fell limp in a faint, and Nelson ordered one of the surgeons to complete taking the dictation. This official report contained no mention of the calamity that had befallen the commander, he regarding the loss of an arm as merely an incident.
In six months' time he had met and defeated all the ships of Napoleon that could be located. When he returned to England, an ovation met him such as never before had been given to a sailorman. He was "Sir Horatio," although he complained that, "They began to call me Lord Nelson, even before I had gotten used to having my ears tickled by the sound of Sir."
He was made Knight of the Bath, given a pension of a thousand pounds a year, and so many medals pinned upon his breast that "he walked with a limp," a local writer said. The limp, however, was from undiscovered lead, and this, with one eye, one arm and a naturally slender and gaunt figure, gave him a peculiarly pathetic appearance.
The actions of his wife at this time in pressing herself on society and in her endeavors to make of him a public show were the unhappy ending of a series of marital misunderstandings which led him to part with her, placing his entire pension at her disposal.
Trouble in the East soon demanded a firm hand, and Nelson sailed away to meet the emergency. This time he was in pursuit of a concentrated fleet, with Napoleon on board. It was Nelson's hope and expectation to capture Napoleon; if he had, none would have been so fortunate as the Little Corporal himself. It would have saved him the disgrace of failure, a soldier of fortune seized by accident after a series of successes that dazzled the world, and then captured by a sea-fighter on the water as great as he himself was on land. But alas! Napoleon was to escape, which he did by a flight where wind and tide seemed to answer his prayer.
But Nelson crushed his navy. The story of the battle has been told in chapters that form a book, so no attempt to repeat the account need here be made. Let it suffice that sixteen English ships grappled to the death for three days with twenty-one French ships, with the result that the French fleet, save four ships, were sunk, burned or captured. "It was not a victory," said Nelson; "it was a conquest." The French commodore, Casabianca, was killed on board of his ship "Orient," and his son, a lad of ten, stood on the burning deck till all but him had fled, and supplied the subject for a poem that thrilled our boyish hearts and causes us to sigh, even yet.
The four ships that escaped would probably never have gotten away had Nelson not been wounded by flying splinters which tore open his scalp. The torn skin hung down over his one good eye, blinding him absolutely; and the blood flowed over his face in jets, making him unrecognizable. He was carried to the surgeons' table; there was a hurried, anxious moment, and a shout of joy went up that could have been heard a mile when it was found that he had suffered only a flesh-wound. The flap was sewed back in place, his head bandaged, and in half an hour he was on deck looking anxiously for fleeing Frenchmen. When the news of the victory reached England, Nelson was made a baron and his pension increased to two thousand pounds a year for life. England loved him, France feared him, and Italy, Egypt and Turkey celebrated him as their savior. The elder Pitt said in the House of Commons, "The name of Nelson will be known as long as government exists and history is read."
And Nelson, the battle won, himself wounded, exhausted through months of intense nervous strain, his frail body maimed and covered with scars, again sailed into the Bay of Naples.
* * * * *
Nelson had saved Naples from falling a prey to the French, and the city now rang with the shouts of welcome and gratitude.
The Hamiltons went out in a small boat and boarded the "Vanguard." Nelson came forward to greet them as they climbed over the side. The great fighter was leaning heavily upon a sailor who half-supported him. It is probably true, as stated by her enemies, that at sight of the Admiral, Lady Hamilton burst into tears, and taking him in her arms kissed him tenderly.
Nelson was taken to the home of the embassy. The battle won, the strain upon his frail physique had its way; his brain reeled with fever; the echoes of the guns still thundered in his ears; and in his half-delirium his tongue gave orders and anxiously asked after the welfare of the fleet. He was put to bed and Lady Hamilton cared for him as she might have cared for a sick child. She allowed no hired servant to enter his room, and for several weeks she and Sir William were his only attendants. Gradually health returned, and Nelson had an opportunity to repay in part his friends, by helping them quell a riot that threatened the safety of the city.
The months passed, and the only peace and calm that had been Nelson's in his entire life was now his. Nelson was forty years of age; Lady Hamilton was thirty-seven; Sir William was seventy-one. The inevitable happened—the most natural and the most beautiful thing in the world. Love came into the life of Nelson—the first, last and only love of his life. And he loved with all the abandon and oneness of his nature. Sir William was aware of the bond that had grown up between his beautiful wife and Lord Nelson, and he respected it, and gave it his blessing, realizing that he himself belonged to another generation and had but a few years to live at best, and in this he fastened to himself with hoops of steel their affection for him.
In the year Eighteen Hundred, when the Hamiltons started for England, Nelson accompanied them in their tour across the Continent, and great honors were everywhere paid him.
Arriving in London he made his home with them. There was no time for idleness, for the Home Office demanded his services daily for consultation and advice, for the Corsican was still at large: very much at large.
In two years Sir William died—passed peacefully away, attended and ministered to by Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton.
Two years more were to pass, and the services of a sea-fighter of the Nelson caliber were required. Napoleon had gotten together another navy, and having combined with Spain they had a fleet that outclassed that of England.
Only one man in England could, with any assurance of success, fight this superior foe on the water. Nelson fought ships as an expert plays chess. He had reduced the game to a science; if the enemy made this move, he made that. He knew how to lure a hostile fleet and have it pursue him to the ground he had selected, and then he knew how to cut it in half and whip it piecemeal. His fighting was consummate strategy, combined with a seeming recklessness that gave a courage to the troops which made them invincible.
English society forgives anything but honesty and truth, and the name of Nelson had been spit upon because of his love for Lady Hamilton. But now danger was at the door and England wanted a man.
Nelson hesitated, but Lady Hamilton said: "Go—yes, go this once—your country calls and only you can do this task. The work done, come home to me, and the rest shall be yours that you so richly deserve. Go and my love shall follow you!"
That night Nelson started for Portsmouth, and in four days was on the coast of Spain.
For the next two years and a half he was in the center and was one of the controlling spirits of the vast military and naval drama which found its closing scene in Trafalgar Bay—years which, to Nelson, in spite of the arduous duties of his command, constituted the most severe and peaceful period of his troubled career.
The Battle of Trafalgar was fought October Twenty-first, Eighteen Hundred Five. At daylight Nelson hoisted the signal, "England expects every man to do his duty," gave the order to close in and the game of death began. Each side had made a move. Nelson retired to his cabin and wrote this codicil to his will:
October Twenty-first, Eighteen Hundred Five.
In sight of the combined fleets of France and Spain, distance about ten miles.
Whereas the eminent services of Emma Hamilton, widow of the Right Honorable Sir William Hamilton, have been of the very greatest service to my king and country, to my knowledge, without ever receiving any reward from either our king or country.
First: That she obtained the King of Spain's letter, in Seventeen Hundred Ninety-six to his brother, the King of Naples, acquainting him of his intention to declare war against England: from which letter the ministry sent out orders to the then Sir John Jervis to strike a stroke, if the opportunity offered, against either the arsenals of Spain or her fleets. That these were not done is not the fault of Lady Hamilton: the opportunity might have been offered.
Secondly: The British fleet under my command could never have returned the second time to Egypt, had not Lady Hamilton's influence with the Queen of Naples caused a letter to be written to the Governor of Syracuse, that he was to encourage the fleet being supplied with every thing, should they put into any port in Sicily. We put into Syracuse, and received every supply; went to Egypt and destroyed the French fleet. Could I have rewarded these services, I would not now call upon my country; but as that has not been in my power, I leave Emma, Lady Hamilton, therefore, a legacy to my king and country, that they will give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life.
I also leave to the beneficence of my country, my daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson; and I desire she will use in future the name of Nelson only.
These are the only favors I ask of my king and country, at this moment when I am going to fight their battle. May God bless my king and country, and all those I hold dear!
Witness—Henry Blackwood T. M. Hardy
Nelson ordered the "Temeraire," the fighting "Temeraire"—the ship of which Ruskin was to write the finest piece of prose-poetry ever penned—to lead the charge, then saw to it that the order could not be carried out, for the "Victory" led.
By noon Nelson had gotten several men into the king-row. Three of the enemy's ships had struck, two were on fire, and four were making a desperate endeavor to escape the fate that Nelson had prepared for them.
At one o'clock, Nelson's own ship, the "Victory," had grappled with the "Redoubtable" and was chained fast to her. Nelson's men had shot the hull of the "Redoubtable" full of holes and once set fire to her. Then, thinking the vessel had struck, since her gunners had ceased their work, Nelson ordered his own men to cease firing and extinguish the flames on the craft of the enemy.
Just at this time a musket-ball, fired from the yards of the "Redoubtable," struck Nelson on the shoulder and passed down through the vertebrae. He fell upon the deck, exclaiming to Captain Hardy who was near, "They have done for me now, Hardy—my back is broken."
He was carried below, but the gush of blood into the lungs told the tale: Nelson was dying. He sent for Hardy, but before the captain could be found the hurrahing on the deck told that the "Redoubtable" had surrendered. A gleam of joy came into the one blue eye of the dying man and he said, "I would like to live one hour just to know that my plans were right—we must capture or destroy twenty of them."
Hardy came and held the hand of his friend. "Kiss me, Hardy—I am dying—tell Lady Hamilton that my last words were of her—good by!" and he covered his face and the stars on his breast with a handkerchief, so that his men might not recognize the dead form of their chief as they hurried by at their work.
Nelson was dead—but Trafalgar was won.
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Lady Hamilton was unfortunate in having her history written only by her enemies—written with goose-quills. Taine says: "The so-called best society in England is notoriously corrupt and frigidly pious. It places a premium on hypocrisy, a penalty on honesty, and having no virtues of its own, it cries shrilly about virtue—as if there were but one, and that negative." Nelson in his innocence did not know English society, otherwise he would not have commended Lady Hamilton to the gratitude of the English. It was a little like commending her to a pack of wolves. The sum of ten thousand pounds was voted to each of Nelson's sisters, but not a penny to Lady Hamilton, "my wife before the eyes of God," as he himself expressed it.
Fortunately, an annuity of four hundred pounds had been arranged for Horatia, the daughter of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, and this saved Lady Hamilton and her child from absolute want. As it was, Lady Hamilton was arrested on a charge of debt, imprisoned, and practically driven out of England, although the sisters of Lord Nelson believed in her, and respected her to the last. Lady Hamilton died in France in Eighteen Hundred Thirteen.
Her daughter, Horatia Nelson, became a strong, excellent and beautiful woman, passing away in Eighteen Hundred Eighty-one. She married the Reverend Philip Ward, of Teventer, Kent, and raised a family of nine children. One of her sons moved to America and made his mark upon the stage, and also in letters. The American branch spell the name "Warde." In England several of the grandchildren of Lord Nelson have made the name of "Ward" illustrious in art and literature.
Mrs. Ward wrote a life of her mother, but a publisher was never found for the book, and the manuscript was lost or destroyed. Some extracts from it, however, were published in the London "Athenaeum" in Eighteen Hundred Seventy-seven, and the picture of Lady Hamilton there presented was that of a woman of great natural endowments: a welling heart of love; great motherly qualities, high intellect and aspiration, caught in the web of unkind condition in her youth, but growing out of this and developing a character which made her the rightful mate of Nelson, the invincible, Nelson, the incorruptible, against whose loyalty and honesty not even his enemies ever said a word, save that he fell a victim to his love, his love for one woman.
Loveless, unloved and unlovable Tammas the Titan, from Ecclefechan, writing in spleen says: "Nelson's unhappy affair with a saucy jade of a wench has supplied the world more gabble than all his victories." And possibly the affair in question was quite as important for good as the battles won. The world might do without war, but I make the hazard it could not long survive if men and women ceased to love and mate. However, I may be wrong.
People whose souls are made of dawnstuff and starshine may make mistakes, but God will not judge them by these alone. But for the love of Lady Hamilton Nelson would probably never have lived to fight Trafalgar—one of the pivotal battles of the world.
Nelson saved England from the fell clutch of the Corsican, and Lady Hamilton saved Nelson from insanity and death. Nelson knew how to do three great things—how to fight, how to love, how to die.
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SO HERE ENDETH "LITTLE JOURNEYS TO THE HOMES OF GREAT LOVERS," BEING VOLUME THIRTEEN OF THE SERIES, AS WRITTEN BY ELBERT HUBBARD: EDITED AND ARRANGED BY FRED BANN; BORDERS AND INITIALS BY ROYCROFT ARTISTS, AND PRODUCED BY THE ROYCROFTERS, AT THEIR SHOPS, WHICH ARE IN EAST AURORA, ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK, MCMXXII.