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The Dynasts - An Epic-Drama Of The War With Napoleon, In Three Parts, - Nineteen Acts, And One Hundred And Thirty Scenes
by Thomas Hardy
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II

"Pull hard, and make the Nothe, or down we go!" one says, says he. We pulled; and bedtime brought the storm; but snug at home slept we. Yet all the while our gallants after fighting through the day, Were beating up and down the dark, sou'-west of Cadiz Bay. The dark, The dark, Sou'-west of Cadiz Bay!

III

The victors and the vanquished then the storm it tossed and tore, As hard they strove, those worn-out men, upon that surly shore; Dead Nelson and his half-dead crew, his foes from near and far, Were rolled together on the deep that night at Trafalgar! The deep, The deep, That night at Trafalgar!

[The Cloud-curtain draws.]

CHORUS OF THE YEARS

Meanwhile the month moves on to counter-deeds Vast as the vainest needs, And fiercely the predestined plot proceeds.



ACT SIXTH

SCENE I

THE FIELD OF AUSTERLITZ. THE FRENCH POSITION

[The night is the 1st of December following, and the eve of the battle. The view is from the elevated position of the Emperor's bivouac. The air cuts keen and the sky glistens with stars, but the lower levels are covered with a white fog stretching like a sea, from which the heights protrude as dusky rocks.

To the left are discernible high and wooded hills. In the front mid-distance the plateau of Pratzen outstands, declining suddenly on the right to a low flat country covered with marshes and pools now mostly obscured. On the plateau itself are seen innumerable and varying lights, marking the bivouac of the centre divisions of the Austro-Russian army. Close to the foreground the fires of the French are burning, surrounded by soldiery. The invisible presence of the countless thousand of massed humanity that compose the two armies makes itself felt indefinably.

The tent of NAPOLEON rises nearest at hand, with sentinel and other military figures looming around, and saddled horses held by attendants. The accents of the Emperor are audible, through the canvas from inside, dictating a proclamation.]

VOICE OF NAPOLEON

"Soldiers, the hordes of Muscovy now face you, To mend the Austrian overthrow at Ulm! But how so? Are not these the self-same bands You met and swept aside at Hollabrunn, And whose retreating forms, dismayed to flight, Your feet pursued along the trackways here?

"Our own position, massed and menacing, Is rich in chance for opportune attack; For, say they march to cross and turn our right— A course almost at their need—their stretching flank Will offer us, from points now prearranged—-"

VOICE OF A MARSHAL

Shows it, your Majesty, the wariness That marks your usual far-eye policy, To openly announce your tactics thus Some twelve hours ere their form can actualize?

THE VOICE OF NAPOLEON

The zest such knowledge will impart to all Is worth the risk of leakages. [To Secretary] Write on.

[Dictation resumed]

"Soldiers, your sections I myself shall lead; But ease your minds who would expostulate Against my undue rashness. If your zeal Sow hot confusion in the hostile files As your old manner is, and in our rush We mingle with our foes, I'll use fit care. Nevertheless, should issues stand at pause But for a wink-while, that time you will eye Your Emperor the foremost in the shock, Taking his risk with every ranksman here. For victory, men, must be no thing surmised, As that which may or may not beam on us, Like noontide sunshine on a dubious morn; It must be sure!—The honour and the fame Of France's gay and gallant infantry— So dear, so cherished all the Empire through— Binds us to compass it! Maintain the ranks; Let none be thinned by impulse or excuse Of bearing back the wounded: and, in fine, Be every one in this conviction firm:— That 'tis our sacred bond to overthrow These hirelings of a country not their own: Yea, England's hirelings, they!—a realm stiff-steeled In deathless hatred of our land and lives.

"The campaign closes with this victory; And we return to find our standards joined By vast young armies forming now in France. Forthwith resistless, Peace establish we, Worthy of you, the nation, and of me!" "NAPOLEON." [To his Marshals]

So shall we prostrate these paid slaves of hers— England's, I mean—the root of all the war.

VOICE OF MURAT

The further details sent of Trafalgar Are not assuring.

VOICE OF LANNES

What may the details be?

VOICE OF NAPOLEON [moodily]

We learn that six-and-twenty ships of war, During the fight and after, struck their flags, And that the tigerish gale throughout the night Gave fearful finish to the English rage. By luck their Nelson's gone, but gone withal Are twenty thousand prisoners, taken off To gnaw their finger-nails in British hulks. Of our vast squadrons of the summer-time But rags and splintered remnants now remain.— Thuswise Villeneuve, poor craven, quitted him! And England puffed to yet more bombastry. —Well, well; I can't be everywhere. No matter; A victory's brewing here as counterpoise! These water-rats may paddle in their salt slush, And welcome. 'Tis not long they'll have the lead. Ships can be wrecked by land!

ANOTHER VOICE

And how by land, Your Majesty, if one may query such?

VOICE OF NAPOLEON [sardonically]

I'll bid all states of Europe shut their ports To England's arrogant bottoms, slowly starve Her bloated revenues and monstrous trade, Till all her hulls lie sodden in their docks, And her grey island eyes in vain shall seek One jack of hers upon the ocean plains!

VOICE OF SOULT

A few more master-strokes, your Majesty, Must be dealt hereabout to compass such!

VOICE OF NAPOLEON

God, yes!—Even here Pitt's guineas are the foes: 'Tis all a duel 'twixt this Pitt and me; And, more than Russia's host, and Austria's flower, I everywhere to-night around me feel As from an unseen monster haunting nigh His country's hostile breath!—But come: to choke it By our to-morrow's feats, which now, in brief, I recapitulate.—First Soult will move To forward the grand project of the day: Namely: ascend in echelon, right to front, With Vandamme's men, and those of Saint Hilaire: Legrand's division somewhere further back— Nearly whereat I place my finger here— To be there reinforced by tirailleurs: Lannes to the left here, on the Olmutz road, Supported by Murat's whole cavalry. While in reserve, here, are the grenadiers Of Oudinot, the corps of Bernadotte, Rivaud, Drouet, and the Imperial Guard.

MARSHAL'S VOICES

Even as we understood, Sire, and have ordered. Nought lags but day, to light our victory!

VOICE OF NAPOLEON

Now let us up and ride the bivouacs round, And note positions ere the soldiers sleep. —Omit not from to-morrow's home dispatch Direction that this blow of Trafalgar Be hushed in all the news-sheets sold in France, Or, if reported, let it be portrayed As a rash fight whereout we came not worst, But were so broken by the boisterous eve That England claims to be the conqueror.

[There emerge from the tent NAPOLEON and the marshals, who all mount the horses that are led up, and proceed through the frost and time towards the bivouacs. At the Emperor's approach to the nearest soldiery they spring up.]

SOLDIERS

The Emperor! He's here! The Emperor's here!

AN OLD GRENADIER [approaching Napoleon familiarly]

We'll bring thee Russian guns and flags galore. To celebrate thy coronation-day!

[They gather into wisps the straw, hay, and other litter on which they have been lying, and kindling these at the dying fires, wave them as torches. This is repeated as each fire is reached, till the whole French position is one wide illumination. The most enthusiastic of the soldiers follow the Emperor in a throng as he progresses, and his whereabouts in the vast field is denoted by their cries.]

CHORUS OF PITIES [aerial music]

Strange suasive pull of personality!

CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS

His projects they unknow, his grin unsee!

CHORUS OF THE PITIES

Their luckless hearts say blindly—He!

[The night-shades close over.]



SCENE II

THE SAME. THE RUSSIAN POSITION

[Midnight at the quarters of FIELD-MARSHAL PRINCE KUTUZOF at Kresnowitz. An inner apartment is discovered, roughly adapted as a council-room. On a table with candles is unfolded a large map of Austerlitz and its environs.

The Generals are assembled in consultation round the table, WEIROTHER pointing to the map, LANGERON, BUXHOVDEN, and MILORADOVICH standing by, DOKHTOROF bending over the map, PRSCHEBISZEWSKY[13] indifferently walking up and down. KUTUZOF, old and weary, with a scarred face and only one eye, is seated in a chair at the head of the table, nodding, waking, and nodding again. Some officers of lower grade are in the background, and horses in waiting are heard hoofing and champing outside.

WEIROTHER speaks, referring to memoranda, snuffing the nearest candle, and moving it from place to place on the map as he proceeds importantly.]

WEIROTHER

Now here, our right, along the Olmutz Road Will march and oust our counterfacers there, Dislodge them from the Sainton Hill, and thence Advance direct to Brunn.—You heed me, sirs?— The cavalry will occupy the plain: Our centre and main strength,—you follow me?— Count Langeron, Dokhtorof, with Prschebiszewsky And Kollowrath—now on the Pratzen heights— Will down and cross the Goldbach rivulet, Seize Tilnitz, Kobelnitz, and hamlets nigh, Turn the French right, move onward in their rear, Cross Schwarsa, hold the great Vienna road:— So, with the nightfall, centre, right, and left, Will rendezvous beneath the walls of Brunn.

LANGERON [taking a pinch of snuff]

Good, General; very good!—if Bonaparte Will kindly stand and let you have your way. But what if he do not!—if he forestall These sound slow movements, mount the Pratzen hills When we descend, fall on OUR rear forthwith, While we go crying for HIS rear in vain?

KUTUZOF [waking up]

Ay, ay, Weirother; that's the question—eh?

WEIROTHER [impatiently]

If Bonaparte had meant to climb up there, Being one so spry and so determinate, He would have set about it ere this eve! He has not troops to do so, sirs, I say: His utmost strength is forty thousand men.

LANGERON

Then if so weak, how can so wise a brain Court ruin by abiding calmly here The impact of a force so large as ours? He may be mounting up this very hour! What think you, General Miloradovich?

MILORADOVICH

I? What's the use of thinking, when to-morrow Will tell us, with no need to think at all!

WEIROTHER

Pah! At this moment he retires apace. His fires are dark; all sounds have ceased that way Save voice of owl or mongrel wintering there. But, were he nigh, these movements I detail Would knock the bottom from his enterprize.

KUTUZOF [rising]

Well, well. Now this being ordered, set it going. One here shall make fair copies of the notes, And send them round. Colonel van Toll I ask To translate part.—Generals, it grows full late, And half-a-dozen hours of needed sleep Will aid us more than maps. We now disperse, And luck attend us all. Good-night. Good-night.

[The Generals and other officers go out severally.]

Such plans are—paper! Only to-morrow's light Reveals the true manoeuvre to my sight!

[He flaps out with his hand all the candles but one or two, slowly walks outside the house, and listens. On the high ground in the direction of the French lines are heard shouts, and a wide illumination grows and strengthens; but the hollows are still mantled in fog.]

Are these the signs of regiments out of heart, And beating backward from an enemy!

[He remains pondering. On the Pratzen heights immediately in front there begins a movement among the Russians, signifying that the plan which involves desertion of that vantage-ground is about to be put in force. Noises of drunken singing arise from the Russian lines at various points elsewhere.

The night shades involve the whole.]



SCENE III

THE SAME. THE FRENCH POSITION

[Shortly before dawn on the morning of the 2nd of December. A white frost and fog still prevail in the low-lying areas; but overhead the sky is clear. A dead silence reigns.

NAPOLEON, on a grey horse, closely attended by BERTHIER, and surrounded by MARSHALS SOULT, LANNES, MURAT, and their aides-de camp, all cloaked, is discernible in the gloom riding down from the high ground before Bellowitz, on which they have bivouacked, to the village of Puntowitz on the Goldbach stream, quite near the front of the Russian position of the day before on the Pratzen crest. The Emperor and his companions come to a pause, look around and upward to the hills, and listen.]

NAPOLEON

Their bivouac fires, that lit the top last night, Are all extinct.

LANNES

And hark you, Sire; I catch A sound which, if I err not, means the thing We have hoped, and hoping, feared fate would not yield!

NAPOLEON

My God, it surely is the tramp of horse And jolt of cannon downward from the hill Toward our right here, by the swampy lakes That face Davout? Thus, as I sketched, they work!

MURAT

Yes! They already move upon Tilnitz.

NAPOLEON

Leave them alone! Nor stick nor stone we'll stir To interrupt them. Nought that we can scheme Will help us like their own stark sightlessness!— Let them get down to those white lowlands there, And so far plunge in the level that no skill, When sudden vision flashes on their fault, Can help them, though despair-stung, to regain The key to mastery held at yestereve!

Meantime move onward these divisions here Under the fog's kind shroud; descend the slope, And cross the stream below the Russian lines: There halt concealed, till I send down the word.

[NAPOLEON and his staff retire to the hill south-east of Bellowitz and the day dawns pallidly.]

'Tis good to get above that rimy cloak And into cleaner air. It chilled me through.

[When they reach the summit they are over the fog: and suddenly the sun breaks forth to the left of Pratzen, illuminating the ash-hued face of NAPOLEON and the faces of those around him. All eyes are turned first to the sun, and thence to look for the dense masses of men that had occupied the upland the night before.]

MURAT

I see them not. The plateau seems deserted!

NAPOLEON

Gone; verily!—Ah, how much will you bid, An hour hence, for the coign abandoned now! The battle's ours.—It was, then, their rash march Downwards to Tilnitz and the Goldbach swamps Before dawn, that we heard.—No hurry, Lannes! Enjoy this sun, that rests its chubby jowl Upon the plain, and thrusts its bristling beard Across the lowlands' fleecy counterpane, Peering beneath our broadest hat-brims' shade.... Soult, how long hence to win the Pratzen top?

SOULT

Some twenty minutes or less, your Majesty: Our troops down there, still mantled by the mist, Are half upon the way.

NAPOLEON

Good! Set forthwith Vandamme and Saint Hilaire to mount the slopes—-

[Firing begins in the marsh to the right by Tilnitz and the pools, though the thick air yet hides the operations.]

O, there you are, blind boozy Buxhovden! Achieve your worst. Davout will hold you firm.

[The head of and aide-de-camp rises through the fog on that side, and he hastens up to NAPOLEON and his companions, to whom the officer announces what has happened. DAVOUT rides off, disappearing legs first into the white stratum that covers the attack.]

Lannes and Murat, you have concern enough Here on the left, with Prince Bagration And all the Austro-Russian cavalry. Haste off. The victory promising to-day Will, like a thunder-clap, conclude the war!

[The Marshals with their aides gallop away towards their respective divisions. Soon the two divisions under SOULT are seen ascending in close column the inclines of the Pratzen height. Thereupon the heads of the Russian centre columns disclose themselves, breaking the sky-line of the summit from the other side, in a desperate attempt to regain the position vacated by the Russian left. A fierce struggle develops there between SOULT'S divisions and these, who, despite their tardy attempt to recover the lost post of dominance, are pressed by the French off the slopes into the lowland.]

SEMICHORUS I OF THE PITIES [aerial music]

O Great Necessitator, heed us now! If it indeed must be That this day Austria smoke with slaughtery, Quicken the issue as Thou knowest how; And dull their lodgment in a flesh that galls!

SEMICHORUS II

If it be in the future human story To lift this man to yet intenser glory, Let the exploit be done With the least sting, or none, To those, his kind, at whose expense such pitch is won!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Again ye deprecate the World-Soul's way That I so long have told? Then note anew [Since ye forget] the ordered potencies, Nerves, sinews, trajects, eddies, ducts of It The Eternal Urger, pressing change on change.

[At once, as earlier, a preternatural clearness possesses the atmosphere of the battle-field, in which the scene becomes anatomized and the living masses of humanity transparent. The controlling Immanent Will appears therein, as a brain-like network of currents and ejections, twitching, interpenetrating, entangling, and thrusting hither and thither the human forms.]

SEMICHORUS I OF IRONIC SPIRITS [aerial music]

O Innocents, can ye forget That things to be were shaped and set Ere mortals and this planet met?

SEMICHORUS II

Stand ye apostrophizing That Which, working all, works but thereat Like some sublime fermenting-vat.

SEMICHORUS I

Heaving throughout its vast content With strenuously transmutive bent Though of its aim insentient?—

SEMICHORUS II

Could ye have seen Its early deeds Ye would not cry, as one who pleads For quarter, when a Europe bleeds!

SEMICHORUS I

Ere ye, young Pities, had upgrown From out the deeps where mortals moan Against a ruling not their own,

SEMICHORUS II

He of the Years beheld, and we, Creation's prentice artistry Express in forms that now unbe

SEMICHORUS I

Tentative dreams from day to day; Mangle its types, re-knead the clay In some more palpitating way;

SEMICHORUS II

Beheld the rarest wrecked amain, Whole nigh-perfected species slain By those that scarce could boast a brain;

SEMICHORUS I

Saw ravage, growth, diminish, add, Here peoples sane, there peoples mad, In choiceless throws of good and bad;

SEMICHORUS II

Heard laughters at the ruthless dooms Which tortured to the eternal glooms Quick, quivering hearts in hecatombs.

CHORUS

Us Ancients, then, it ill befits To quake when Slaughter's spectre flits Athwart this field of Austerlitz!

SHADE OF THE EARTH

Pain not their young compassions by such lore, But hold you mute, and read the battle yonder: The moment marks the day's catastrophe.



SCENE IV

THE SAME. THE RUSSIAN POSITION

[It is about noon, and the vital spectacle is now near the village of Tilnitz. The fog has dispersed, and the sun shines clearly, though without warmth, the ice on the pools gleaming under its radiance.

GENERAL BUXHOVDEN and his aides-de-camp have reined up, and remain at pause on a hillock. The General watches through a glass his battalions, which are still disputing the village. Suddenly approach down the track from the upland of Pratzen large companies of Russian infantry helter-skelter. COUNT LANGERON is beheld to be retreating with them; and soon, pale and agitated, he hastens up to GENERAL BUXHOVDEN, whose face is flushed.]

LANGERON

While they are upon us you stay idle here! Prschebiszewsky's column is distraught and rent, And more than half my own made captive! Yea, Kreznowitz carried, and Sokolnitz hemmed: The enemy's whole strength will stound you soon!

BUXHOVDEN

You seem to see the enemy everywhere.

LANGERON

You cannot see them, be they here or no!

BUXHOVDEN

I only wait Prschebiszewsky's nearing corps To join Dokhtorof's to them. Here they come.

[SOULT, supported by BERNADOTTE and OUDINOT, having cleared and secured the Pratzen height, his battalions are perceived descending from it on this side, behind DOKHTOROF'S division, so placing the latter between themselves and the pools.]

LANGERON

You cannot tell the Frenchmen from ourselves! These are the victors.—Ah—Dokhtorof—lost!

[DOKHTOROF'S troops are seen to be retreating towards the water. The watchers stand in painful tenseness.]

BUXHOVDEN

Dokhtorof tell to save him as he may! We, Count, must gather up our shaken flesh And hurry them by the road through Austerlitz.

[BUXHOVDEN'S regiments and the remains of LANGERON'S are rallied and collected, and they retreat by way of the hamlet of Aujezd. As they go over the summit of a hill BUXHOVDEN looks back. LANGERON'S columns, which were behind his own, have been cut off by VANDAMME'S division coming down from the Pratzen plateau. This and some detachments from DOKHTOROF'S column rush towards the Satschan lake and endeavour to cross it on the ice. It cracks beneath their weight. At the same moment NAPOLEON and his brilliant staff appear on the top of the Pratzen.

The Emperor watches the scene with a vulpine smile; and directs a battery near at hand to fire down upon the ice on which the Russians are crossing. A ghastly crash and splashing follows the discharge, the shining surface breaking into pieces like a mirror, which fly in all directions. Two thousand fugitives are engulfed, and their groans of despair reach the ears of the watchers like ironical huzzas.

A general flight of the Russian army from wing to wing is now disclosed, involving in its current the EMPEROR ALEXANDER and the EMPEROR FRANCIS, with the reserve, who are seen towards Austerlitz endeavouring to rally their troops in vain. They are swept along by the disordered soldiery.]



SCENE V

THE SAME. NEAR THE WINDMILL OF PALENY

[The mill is about seven miles to the southward, between French advanced posts and the Austrians.

A bivouac fire is burning. NAPOLEON, in grey overcoat and beaver hat turned up front to back, rides to the spot with BERTHIER, SAVARY, and his aides, and alights. He walks to and fro complacently, meditating or talking to BERTHIER. Two groups of officers, one from each army, stand in the background on their respective sides.]

NAPOLEON

What's this of Alexander? Weep, did he, Like his old namesake, but for meaner cause? Ha, ha!

BERTHIER

Word goes, you Majesty, that Colonel Toll, One of Field-Marshal Price Kutuzof's staff, In the retreating swirl of overthrow, Found Alexander seated on a stone, Beneath a leafless roadside apple-tree, Out here by Goding on the Holitsch way; His coal-black uniform and snowy plume Unmarked, his face disconsolate, his grey eyes Mourning in tears the fate of his brave array— All flying southward, save the steadfast slain.

NAPOLEON

Poor devil!—But he'll soon get over it— Sooner than his employers oversea!— Ha!—this well make friend Pitt and England writhe, And cloud somewhat their lustrous Trafalgar.

[An open carriage approaches from the direction of Holitsch, accompanied by a small escort of Hungarian guards. NAPOLEON walks forward to meet it as it draws up, and welcomes the Austrian Emperor, who alights. He is wearing a grey cloak over a white uniform, carries a light walking-cane, and is attended by PRINCE JOHN OF LICHTENSTEIN, SWARZENBERG, and others. His fresh-coloured face contrasts strangely with the bluish pallor of NAPOLEON'S; but it is now thin and anxious.

They formally embrace. BERTHIER, PRINCE JOHN, and the rest retire, and the two Emperors are left by themselves before the fire.]

NAPOLEON

Here on the roofless ground do I receive you— My only mansion for these two months past!

FRANCIS

Your tenancy thereof has brought such fame That it must needs be one which charms you, Sire.

NAPOLEON

Good! Now this war. It has been forced on me Just at a crisis most inopportune, When all my energies and arms were bent On teaching England that her watery walls Are no defence against the wrath of France Aroused by breach of solemn covenants.

FRANCIS

I had no zeal for violating peace Till ominous events in Italy Revealed the gloomy truth that France aspires To conquest there, and undue sovereignty. Since when mine eyes have seen no sign outheld To signify a change of purposings.

NAPOLEON

Yet there were terms distinctly specified To General Giulay in November past, Whereon I'd gladly fling the sword aside. To wit: that hot armigerent jealousy Stir us no further on transalpine rule, I'd take the Isonzo River as our bounds.

FRANCIS

Roundly, that I cede all!—And how may stand Your views as to the Russian forces here?

NAPOLEON

You have all to lose by that alliance, Sire. Leave Russia. Let the Emperor Alexander Make his own terms; whereof the first must be That he retire from Austrian territory. I'll grant an armistice therefor. Anon I'll treat with him to weld a lasting peace, Based on some simple undertakings; chief, That Russian armies keep to the ports of his domain. Meanwhile to you I'll tender this good word: Keep Austria to herself. To Russia bound, You pay your own costs with your provinces, Alexander's likewise therewithal.

FRANCIS

I see as much, and long have seen it, Sire; And standing here the vanquished, let me own What happier issues might have left unsaid: Long, long I have lost the wish to bind myself To Russia's purposings and Russia's risks; Little do I count these alliances With Powers that have no substance seizable!

[As they converse they walk away.]

AN AUSTRIAN OFFICER

O strangest scene of an eventful life, This junction that I witness here to-day! An Emperor—in whose majestic veins Aeneas and the proud Caesarian line Claim yet to live; and, those scarce less renowned, The dauntless Hawks'-Hold Counts, of gallantry So great in fame one thousand years ago— To bend with deference and manners mild In talk with this adventuring campaigner, Raised but by pikes above the common herd!

ANOTHER AUSTRIAN OFFICER

Ay! There be Satschan swamps and Pratzen heights In royal lines, as here at Austerlitz.

[The Emperors again draw near.]

FRANCIS

Then, to this armistice, which shall be called Immediately at all points, I agree; And pledge my word that my august ally Accept it likewise, and withdraw his force By daily measured march to his own realm.

NAPOLEON

For him I take your word. And pray believe That rank ambitions are your own, not mine; That though I have postured as your enemy, And likewise Alexander's, we are one In interests, have in all things common cause.

One country sows these mischiefs Europe through By her insidious chink of luring ore— False-featured England, who, to aggrandize Her name, her influence, and her revenues, Schemes to impropriate the whole world's trade, And starves and bleeds the folk of other lands. Her rock-rimmed situation walls her off Like a slim selfish mollusk in its shell From the wide views and fair fraternities Which on the mainland we reciprocate, And quicks her quest for profit in our woes!

FRANCIS

I am not competent, your Majesty, To estimate that country's conscience now, Nor engage on my ally's behalf That English ships be shut from Russian trade. But joyful am I that in all things else My promise can be made; and that this day Our conference ends in friendship and esteem.

NAPOLEON

I will send Savary at to-morrow's blink And make all lucid to the Emperor. For us, I wholly can avow as mine The cordial spirit of your Majesty.

[They retire towards the carriage of FRANCIS. BERTHIER, SAVARY, LICHTENSTEIN, and the suite of officers advance from the background, and with mutual gestures of courtesy and amicable leave-takings the two Emperors part company.]

CHORUS OF THE PITIES [aerial music]

Each for himself, his family, his heirs; For the wan weltering nations who concerns, who cares?

CHORUS OF IRONIC SPIRITS

A pertinent query, in truth!— But spoil not the sport by your ruth: 'Tis enough to make half Yonder zodiac laugh When rulers begin to allude To their lack of ambition, And strong opposition To all but the general good!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Hush levities. Events press: turn ye westward.

[A nebulous curtain draws slowly across.]



SCENE VI

SHOCKERWICK HOUSE, NEAR BATH

[The interior of the Picture Gallery. Enter WILTSHIRE, the owner, and Pitt, who looks emaciated and walks feebly.]

WILTSHIRE [pointing to a portrait]

Now here you have the lady we discussed: A fine example of his manner, sir?

PITT

It is a fine example, sir, indeed,— With that transparency amid the shades, And those thin blue-green-grayish leafages Behind the pillar in the background there, Which seem the leaves themselves.—Ah, this is Quin.

[Moving to another picture.]

WILTSHIRE

Yes, Quin. A man of varied parts, though rough And choleric at times. Yet, at his best, As Falstaff, never matched, they say. But I Had not the fate to see him in the flesh.

PITT

Churchill well carves him in his "Character":— "His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll, Proclaimed the sullen habit of his soul. In fancied scenes, as in Life's real plan, He could not for a moment sink the man: Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in; Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff—stile 'twas Quin." —He was at Bath when Gainsborough settled there In that house in the Circus which we know.— I like the portrait much.—The brilliancy Of Gainsborough lies in this his double sway: Sovereign of landscape he; of portraiture Joint monarch with Sir Joshua.... Ah?—that's—hark! Is that the patter of horses's hoofs Along the road?

WILTSHIRE

I notice nothing, sir.

PITT

It is a gallop, growing quite distinct. And—can it be a messenger for me!

WILTSHIRE

I hope no ugly European news To stop the honour of this visit, sir!

[They listen. The gallop of the horse grows louder, and is checked at the door of the house. There is a hasty knocking, and a courier, splashed with mud from hard riding, is shown into the gallery. He presents a dispatch to PITT, who sits down and hurriedly opens it.]

PITT [to himself]

O heavy news indeed!... Disastrous; dire!

[He appears overcome as he sits, and covers his forehead with his hand.]

WILTSHIRE

I trust you are not ill, sir?

PITT [after some moments]

Could I have A little brandy, sir, quick brought to me?

WILTSHIRE

In one brief minute.

[Brandy is brought in, and PITT takes it.]

PITT

Now leave me, please, alone. I'll call anon. Is there a map of Europe handy here?

[WILTSHIRE fetches a map from the library, and spreads it before the minister. WILTSHIRE, courier, and servant go out.]

O God that I should live to see this day!

[He remains awhile in a profound reverie; then resumes the reading of the dispatch.]

"Defeated—the Allies—quite overthrown At Austerlitz—last week."—Where's Austerlitz? —But what avails it where the place is now; What corpse is curious on the longitude And situation of his cemetery!... The Austrians and the Russians overcome, That vast adventuring army is set free To bend unhindered strength against our strand.... So do my plans through all these plodding years Announce them built in vain! His heel on Europe, monarchies in chains To France, I am as though I had never been!

[He gloomily ponders the dispatch and the map some minutes longer. At last he rises with difficulty, and rings the bell. A servant enters.]

Call up my carriage, please you, now at once; And tell your master I return to Bath This moment—I may want a little help In getting to the door here.

SERVANT

Sir, I will, And summon you my master instantly.

[He goes out and re-enters with WILTSHIRE. PITT is assisted from the room.]

PITT

Roll up that map. 'Twill not be needed now These ten years! Realms, laws, peoples, dynasties, Are churning to a pulp within the maw Of empire-making Lust and personal Gain!

[Exeunt PITT, WILTSHIRE, and the servant; and in a few minutes the carriage is heard driving off, and the scene closes.]



SCENE VII

PARIS. A STREET LEADING TO THE TUILERIES

[It is night, and the dim oil lamps reveal a vast concourse of citizens of both sexes around the Palace gates and in the neighbouring thoroughfares.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS [to the Spirit of Rumour]

Thou may'st descend and join this crowd awhile, And speak what things shall come into they mouth.

SPIRIT SINISTER

I'll harken! I wouldn't miss it for the groans on another Austerlitz!

[The Spirit of Rumour enters on the scene in the disguise of a young foreigner.]

SPIRIT [to a street-woman]

Lady, a late hour this to be afoot!

WOMAN

Poor profit, then, to me from my true trade, Wherein hot competition is so rife Already, since these victories brought to town So many foreign jobbers in my line, That I'd best hold my tongue from praise of fame! However, one is caught by popular zeal, And though five midnights have not brought a sou, I, too, chant Jubilate like the rest.—

In courtesies have haughty monarchs vied Towards the Conqueror! who, with men-at-arms One quarter theirs, has vanquished by his nerve Vast mustering four-hundred-thousand strong, And given new tactics to the art of war Unparalleled in Europe's history!

SPIRIT

What man is this, whose might thou blazonest so— Who makes the earth to tremble, shakes old thrones, And turns the plains to wilderness?

WOMAN

Dost ask As ignorant, yet asking can define? What mean you, traveller?

SPIRIT

I am a stranger here, A wandering wight, whose life has not been spent This side the globe, though I can speak the tongue.

WOMAN

Your air has truth in't; but your state is strange! Had I a husband he should tackle thee.

SPIRIT

Dozens thou hast had—batches more than she Samaria knew, if now thou hast not one!

WOMAN

Wilt take the situation from this hour?

SPIRIT

Thou know'st not what thy frailty asks, good dame!

WOMAN

Well, learn in small the Emperor's chronicle, As gleaned from what my soldier-husbands say:— some five-and-forty standards of his foes Are brought to Paris, borne triumphantly In proud procession through the surging streets, Ever as brands of fame to shine aloft In dim-lit senate-halls and city aisles.

SPIRIT

Fair Munich sparkled with festivity As there awhile he tarried, and was met By the gay Josephine your Empress here.— There, too, Eugene—

WOMAN

Napoleon's stepson he—-

SPIRIT

Received for gift the hand of fair Princess Augusta [daughter of Bavaria's crown, Forced from her plighted troth to Baden's heir], And, to complete his honouring, was hailed Successor to the throne of Italy.

WOMAN

How know you, ere this news has got abroad?

SPIRIT

Channels have I the common people lack.— There, on the nonce, the forenamed Baden prince Was joined to Stephanie Beauharnais, her Who stands as daughter to the man we wait, Some say as more.

WOMAN They do? Then such not I. Can revolution's dregs so soil thy soul That thou shouldst doubt the eldest son thereof? 'Tis dangerous to insinuate nowadays!

SPIRIT

Right! Lady many-spoused, more charity Upbrims in thee than in some loftier ones Who would not name thee with their white-washed tongues.— Enough. I am one whom, didst thou know my name, Thou would'st not grudge a claim to speak his mind.

WOMAN

A thousand pardons, sir.

SPIRIT

Resume thy tale If so thou wishest.

WOMAN

Nay, but you know best—-

SPIRIT

How laurelled progress through applauding crowds Have marked his journey home. How Strasburg town, Stuttgart, Carlsruhe, acclaimed him like the rest: How pageantry would here have welcomed him, Had not his speed outstript intelligence —Now will a glimpse of him repay thee. Hark!

[Shouts arise and increase in the distance, announcing BONAPARTE'S approach.]

Well, Buonaparte has revived by land, But not by sea. On that thwart element Never will he incorporate his dream, And float as master!

WOMAN

What shall hinder him?

SPIRIT

That which has hereto. England, so to say.

WOMAN

But she's in straits. She lost her Nelson now, [A worthy man: he loved a woman well!] George drools and babbles in a darkened room; Her heaven-born Minister declines apace; All smooths the Emperor's sway.

SPIRIT

Tales have two sides, Sweet lady. Vamped-up versions reach thee here.— That Austerlitz was lustrous none ignores, But would it shock thy garrulousness to know That the true measure of this Trafalgar— Utter defeat, ay, France's naval death— Your Emperor bade be hid?

WOMAN

The seer's gift Has never plenteously endowed me, sir, As in appearance you. But to plain sense Thing's seem as stated.

SPIRIT

We'll let seemings be.— But know, these English take to liquid life Right patly—nursed therefor in infancy By rimes and rains which creep into their blood, Till like seeks like. The sea is their dry land, And, as on cobbles you, they wayfare there.

WOMAN

Heaven prosper, then, their watery wayfarings If they'll leave us the land!—[The Imperial carriage appears.] The Emperor!— Long live the Emperor!—He's the best by land.

[BONAPARTE'S carriage arrives, without an escort. The street lamps shine in, and reveal the EMPRESS JOSEPHINE seated beside him. The plaudits of the people grow boisterous as they hail him Victor of Austerlitz. The more active run after the carriage, which turns in from the Rue St. Honore to the Carrousel, and thence vanishes into the Court of the Tuileries.]

WOMAN

May all success attend his next exploit!

SPIRIT

Namely: to put the knife in England's trade, And teach her treaty-manners—if he can!

WOMAN

I like not your queer knowledge, creepy man. There's weirdness in your air. I'd call you ghost Had not the Goddess Reason laid all such Past Mother Church's cunning to restore. —Adieu. I'll not be yours to-night. I'd starve first!

[She withdraws. The crowd wastes away, and the Spirit vanishes.]



SCENE VIII

PUTNEY. BOWLING GREEN HOUSE

[PITT'S bedchamber, from the landing without. It is afternoon. At the back of the room as seen through the doorway is a curtained bed, beside which a woman sits, the LADY HESTER STANHOPE. Bending over a table at the front of the room is SIR WALTER FARQUHAR, the physician. PARSLOW the footman and another servant are near the door. TOMLINE, the Bishop of Lincoln, enters.]

FARQUHAR [in a subdued voice]

I grieve to call your lordship up again, But symptoms lately have disclosed themselves That mean the knell to the frail life in him. And whatsoever thing of gravity It may be needful to communicate, Let them be spoken now. Time may not serve If they be much delayed.

TOMLINE

Ah, stands it this?... The name of his disease is—Austerlitz! His brow's inscription has been Austerlitz From that dire morning in the month just past When tongues of rumour twanged the word across From its hid nook on the Moravian plains.

FARQUHAR

And yet he might have borne it, had the weight Of governmental shackles been unclasped, Even partly, from his limbs last Lammastide, When that despairing journey to the King At Gloucester Lodge by Wessex shore was made To beg such. But relief the King refused. "Why want you Fox? What—Grenville and his friends?" He harped. "You are sufficient without these— Rather than Fox, why, give me civil war!" And fibre that would rather snap than shrink Held out no longer. Now the upshot nears.

[LADY HESTER STANHOPE turns her head and comes forward.]

LADY HESTER

I am grateful you are here again, good friend! He's sleeping some light seconds; but once more Has asked for tidings of Lord Harrowby, And murmured of his mission to Berlin As Europe's haggard hope; if, sure, it be That any hope remain!

TOMLINE

There's no news yet.— These several days while I have been sitting by him He has inquired the quarter of the wind, And where that moment beaked the stable-cock. When I said "East," he answered "That is well! Those are the breezes that will speed him home!" So cling his heart-strings to his country's cause.

FARQUHAR

I fear that Wellesley's visit here by now Strung him to tensest strain. He quite broke down, And has fast faded since.

LADY HESTER

Ah! now he wakes. Please come and speak to him as you would wish [to TOMLINE].

[LADY HESTER, TOMLINE,and FARQUHAR retire behind the bed, where in a short time voices are heard in prayer. Afterwards the Bishop goes to a writing-table, and LADY HESTER comes to the doorway. Steps are heard on the stairs, and PITT'S friend ROSE, the President of the Board of Trade, appears on the landing and makes inquiries.]

LADY HESTER [whispering]

He wills the wardenry of his affairs To his old friend the Bishop. But his words Bespeak too much anxiety for me, And underrate his services so far That he has doubts if his high deeds deserve Such size of recognition by the State As would award slim pensions to his kin. He had been fain to write down his intents, But the quill dropped from his unmuscled hand.— Now his friend Tomline pens what he dictates And gleans the lippings of his last desires.

[ROSE and LADY HESTER turn. They see the Bishop bending over the bed with a sheet of paper on which he has previously been writing. A little later he dips a quill and holds it within the bed-curtain, spreading the paper beneath. A thin white hand emerges from behind the curtain and signs the paper. The Bishop beckons forward the two servants, who also sign.

FARQUHAR on one side of the bed, and TOMLINE on the other, are spoken to by the dying man. The Bishop afterwards withdraws from the bed and comes to the landing where the others are.]

TOMLINE

A list of his directions has been drawn, And feeling somewhat more at mental ease He asks Sir Walter if he has long to live. Farquhar just answered, in a soothing tone, That hope still frailly breathed recovery. At this my dear friend smiled and shook his head, As if to say: "I can translate your words, But I reproach not friendship's lullabies."

ROSE

Rest he required; and rest was not for him.

[FARQUHAR comes forward as they wait.]

FARQUHAR

His spell of concentration on these things, Determined now, that long have wasted him, Have left him in a numbing lethargy, From which I fear he may not rouse to strength For speech with earth again.

ROSE

But hark. He does.

[The listen.]

PITT

My country! How I leave my country!...

TOMLINE

Ah,— Immense the matter those poor words contain!

ROSE

Still does his soul stay wrestling with that theme, And still it will, even semi-consciously, Until the drama's done.

[They continue to converse by the doorway in whispers. PITT sinks slowly into a stupor, from which he never awakens.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES [to Spirit of the Years]

Do you intend to speak to him ere the close?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay, I have spoke too often! Time and time, When all Earth's light has lain on the nether side, And yapping midnight winds have leapt on the roofs, And raised for him an evil harlequinade Of national disasters in long train, That tortured him with harrowing grimace, Now I would leave him to pass out in peace, And seek the silence unperturbedly.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Even ITS official Spirit can show ruth At man's fag end, when his destruction's sure!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

It suits us ill to cavil each with each. I might retort. I only say to thee ITS slaves we are: ITS slaves must ever be!

CHORUS [aerial music]

Yea, from the Void we fetch, like these, And tarry till That please To null us by Whose stress we emanate.— Our incorporeal sense, Our overseeings, our supernal state, Our readings Why and Whence, Are but the flower of Man's intelligence; And that but an unreckoned incident Of the all-urging Will, raptly magnipotent.

[A gauze of shadow overdraws.]



PART SECOND



CHARACTERS

I. PHANTOM INTELLIGENCES

THE ANCIENT SPIRIT OF THE YEARS/CHORUS OF THE YEARS.

THE SPIRIT OF THE PITIES/CHORUS OF THE PITIES.

SPIRITS SINISTER AND IRONIC/CHORUSES OF SINISTER AND IRONIC SPIRITS.

THE SPIRIT OF RUMOUR/CHORUS OF RUMOURS.

THE SHADE OF THE EARTH.

SPIRIT-MESSENGERS.

RECORDING ANGELS.

II. PERSONS [The names in lower case are mute figures.]

MEN

GEORGE THE THIRD. THE PRINCE OF WALES, afterwards PRINCE REGENT. The Royal Dukes. FOX. PERCEVAL. CASTLEREAGH. AN UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE. SHERIDAN. TWO YOUNG LORDS. Lords Yarmouth and Keith. ANOTHER LORD. Other Peers, Ambassadors, Ministers, ex-Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Persons of Quality and Office.

..........

Sir Arthur Wellesley, afterwards Lord Wellington. SIR JOHN MOORE. SIR JOHN HOPE. Sir David Baird. General Beresford. COLONEL ANDERSON. COLONEL GRAHAM. MAJOR COLBORNE, principal Aide-de-Camp to MOORE. CAPTAIN HARDINGE. Paget, Fraser, Hill, Napier. A CAPTAIN OF HUSSARS AND OTHERS. Other English Generals, Colonels, Aides, Couriers, and Military Officers. TWO SPIES. TWO ARMY SURGEONS. AN ARMY CHAPLAIN. A SERGEANT OF THE FORTY-THIRD. TWO SOLDIERS OF THE NINTH. English Forces. DESERTERS AND STRAGGLERS.

..........

DR. WILLIS. SIR HENRY HALFORD. DR. HEBERDEN. DR. BAILLIE. THE KING'S APOTHECARY. A GENTLEMAN. TWO ATTENDANTS ON THE KING.

..........

MEMBERS OF A LONDON CLUB. AN ENGLISHMAN IN VIENNA. TROTTER, SECRETARY TO FOX. MR. BAGOT. MR. FORTH, MASTER OF CEREMONIES. SERVANTS. A Beau, A Constable, etc.

..........

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Joseph Bonaparte. Louis and Jerome Bonaparte, and other Members of Napoleon's Family. CAMBACERES, ARCH-CHANCELLOR. TALLEYRAND. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE. Caulaincourt. Lebrun, Duroc, Prince of Neufchatel, Grand-Duke of Berg. Eugene de Beauharnais. CHAMPAGNY, FOREIGN MINISTER DE BAUSSET, CHAMBERLAIN. MURAT. SOULT. MASSENA. BERTHIER. JUNOT. FOY. LOISON. Ney, Lannes, and other French Marshals, general and regimental Officers, Aides, and Couriers. TWO FRENCH SUBALTERNS. ANOTHER FRENCH OFFICER. French Forces.

..........

Grand Marshal, Grand Almoners, Heralds, and other Officials at Napoleon's marriage. ABBE DE PRADT, CHAPEL-MASTER. Corvisart, First Physician to Marie Louis. BOURDIER, SECOND PHYSICIAN to Marie Louise. DUBOIS, ACCOUCHEUR to Marie Louise. Maskers at a Ball. TWO SERVANTS AT THE TUILERIES. A PARISIAN CROWD. GUILLET DE GEVRILLIERE, A CONSPIRATOR. Louis XVIII. of France. French Princes in England.

..........

THE KING OF PRUSSIA. Prince Henry of Prussia. Prince Royal of Bavaria. PRINCE HOHENLOHE. Generals Ruchel, Tauenzien, and Attendant Officers. Prussian Forces. PRUSSIAN STRAGGLERS. BERLIN CITIZENS.

..........

CARLOS IV., KING OF SPAIN. FERNANDO, PRINCE OF ASTURIAS, Son to the King. GODOY, "PRINCE OF PEACE," Lover of the Queen. COUNT OF MONTIJO. VISCOUNT MATEROSA, Spanish Deputy. DON DIEGO DE LA VEGA, Spanish Deputy. Godoy's Guards and other Soldiery. SPANISH CITIZENS. A SERVANT TO GODOY. Spanish Forces. Camp-Followers.

..........

FRANCIS, EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA. METTERNICH. ANOTHER AUSTRIAN MINISTER. SCHWARZENBERG. D'AUDENARDE, AN EQUERRY. AUSTRIAN OFFICERS. AIDES-DE-CAMP. Austrian Forces. Couriers and Secretaries. VIENNESE CITIZENS.

..........

THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER. The Grand-Duke Constantine. Prince Labanoff. Count Lieven. Generals Bennigsen, Ouwaroff, and others. Officers in attendance on Alexander.

WOMEN

CAROLINE, PRINCESS OF WALES. DUCHESS OF YORK. DUCHESS OF RUTLAND. MARCHIONESS OF SALISBURY. MARCHIONESS OF HERTFORD. Other Peeresses. MRS. FITZHERBERT. Ambassadors' Wives, Wives of Minister and Members of Parliament, and other Ladies of Note.

..........

THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE. HORTENSE, QUEEN OF HOLLAND. The Mother of Napoleon. Princess Pauline, and others of Napoleon's Family. DUCHESS OF MONTEBELLO. MADAME DE MONTESQUIOU. MADAME BLAISE, NURSE TO MARIE LOUIS. Wives of French Ministers, and of other Officials. Other Ladies of the French Court. DUCHESS OF ANGOULEME.

..........

LOUISA, QUEEN OF PRUSSIA. The Countess Voss, Lady-in-Waiting. BERLIN LADIES.

..........

MARIA LUISA, QUEEN OF SPAIN. THEREZA OF BOURBON, WIFE OF GODOY. DONA JOSEFA TUDO, MISTRESS OF GODOY. Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. A Servant.

..........

M. LOUISA BEATRIX, EMPRESS OF AUSTRIA. THE ARCHDUCHESS MARIE LOUISA, afterwards the EMPRESS MARIE LOUISE. MADAME METTERNICH. LADIES OF THE AUSTRIAN COURT.

..........

THE EMPRESS-MOTHER OF RUSSIA. GRAND-DUCHESS ANNE OF RUSSIA.



ACT FIRST

SCENE I

LONDON. FOX'S LODGINGS, ARLINGTON STREET

[FOX, the Foreign Secretary in the new Ministry of All-the-Talents, sits at a table writing. He is a stout, swarthy man, with shaggy eyebrows, and his breathing is somewhat obstructed. His clothes look as though they had been slept in. TROTTER, his private secretary, is writing at another table near. A servant enters.]

SERVANT

Another stranger presses to see you, sir.

FOX [without raising his eyes]

Oh, another. What's he like?

SERVANT

A foreigner, sir; though not so out-at-elbows as might be thought from the denomination. He says he's from Gravesend, having lately left Paris, and that you sent him a passport. He comes with a police-officer.

FOX

Ah, to be sure. I remember. Bring him in, and tell the officer to wait outside. [Servant goes out.] Trotter, will you leave us for a few minutes? But be within hail.

[The secretary retires, and the servant shows in a man who calls himself GUILLET DE GEVRILLIERE—a tall, thin figure of thirty, with restless eyes. The door being shut behind him, he is left alone with the minister. FOX points to a seat, leans back, and surveys his visitor.]

GEVRILLIERE

Thanks to you, sir, for this high privilege Of hailing England, and of entering here. Without a fore-extended confidence Like this of yours, my plans would not have sped. [A Pause.] Europe, alas! sir, has her waiting foot Upon the sill of further slaughter-scenes!

FOX

I fear it is so!—In your lines you wrote, I think, that you are a true Frenchman born?

GEVRILLIERE

I did, sir.

FOX

How contrived you, then, to cross?

GEVRILLIERE

It was from Embden that I shipped for Gravesend, In a small sailer called the "Toby," sir, Masked under Prussian colours. Embden I reached On foot, on horseback, and by sundry shifts, From Paris over Holland, secretly.

FOX

And you are stored with tidings of much pith, Whose tenour would be priceless to the state?

GEVRILLIERE

I am. It is, in brief, no more nor less Than means to mitigate and even end These welfare-wasting wars; ay, usher in A painless spell of peace.

FOX

Prithee speak on. No statesman can desire it more than I.

GEVRILLIERE [looking to see that the door is shut]

No nation, sir, can live its natural life, Or think its thoughts in these days unassailed, No crown-capt head enjoy tranquillity. The fount of such high spring-tide of disorder, Fevered disquietude, and forceful death, Is One,—a single man. He—need I name?— The ruler is of France.

FOX

Well, in the past I fear that it has liked so. But we see Good reason still to hope that broadening views, Politer wisdom now is helping him To saner guidance of his arrogant car.

GEVRILLIERE

The generous hope will never be fulfilled! Ceasing to bluff, then ceases he to be. None sees that written largelier than himself.

FOX

Then what may be the valued revelation That you can unlock in such circumstance? Sir, I incline to spell you as a spy, And not the honest help for honest men You gave you out to be!

GEVRILLIERE

I beg, sir, To spare me that suspicion. Never a thought Could be more groundless. Solemnly I vow That notwithstanding what his signals show The Emperor of France is as I say.— Yet bring I good assurance, and declare A medicine for all bruised Europe's sores!

FOX [impatiently]

Well, parley to the point, for I confess No new negotiation do I note That you can open up to work such cure.

GEVRILLIERE

The sovereign remedy for an ill effect Is the extinction of its evil cause. Safely and surely how to compass this I have the weighty honour to disclose, Certain immunities being guaranteed By those your power can influence, and yourself.

FOX [astonished]

Assassination?

GEVRILLIERE

I care not for names! A deed's true name is as its purpose is. The lexicon of Liberty and Peace Defines not this deed as assassination; Though maybe it is writ so in the tongue Of courts and universal tyranny.

FOX

Why brought you this proposal here to me?

GEVRILLIERE

My knowledge of your love of things humane, Things free, things fair, of truth, of tolerance, Right, justice, national felicity, Prompted belief and hope in such a man!— The matter is by now well forwarded, A house at Plassy hired as pivot-point From which the sanct intention can be worked, And soon made certain. To our good allies No risk attaches; merely to ourselves.

FOX [touching a private bell]

Sir, your unconscienced hardihood confounds me. And your mind's measure of my character Insults it sorely. By your late-sent lines Of specious import, by your bland address, I have been led to prattle hopefully With a cut-throat confessed!

[The head constable and the secretary enter at the same moment.]

Ere worse befall, Sir, up and get you gone most dexterously! Conduct this man: lose never sight of him [to the officer] Till haled aboard some anchor-weighing craft Bound to remotest coasts from us and France.

GEVRILLIERE [unmoved]

How you may handle me concerns me little. The project will as roundly ripe itself Without as with me. Trusty souls remain, Though my far bones bleach white on austral shores!— I thank you for the audience. Long ere this I might have reft your life! Ay, notice here—

[He produces a dagger; which is snatched from him.]

They need not have done that! Even had you risen To wrestle with, insult, strike, pinion me, It would have lain unused. In hands like mine And my allies', the man of peace is safe, Treat as he may our corporal tenement In his misreading of a moral code.

[Exeunt GEVRILLIERE and the constable.]

FOX

Trotter, indeed you well may stare at me! I look warm, eh?—and I am windless, too; I have sufficient reason to be so. That dignified and pensive gentleman Was a bold bravo, waiting for his chance. He sketched a scheme for murdering Bonaparte, Either—as in my haste I understood— By shooting from a window as he passed, Or by some other wry and stealthy means That haunt sad brains which brood on despotism, But lack the tools to justly cope therewith!... On later thoughts I feel not fully sure If, in my ferment, I did right in this. No; hail at once the man in charge of him, And give the word that he is to be detained.

[The secretary goes out. FOX walks to the window in deep reflection till the secretary returns.]

SECRETARY

I was in time, sir. He has been detained.

FOX

Now what does strict state-honour ask of me?— No less than that I bare this poppling plot To the French ruler and our fiercest foe!— Maybe 'twas but a hoax to pocket pay; And yet it can mean more... The man's indifference to his own vague doom Beamed out as one exalted trait in him, And showed the altitude of his rash dream!— Well, now I'll get me on to Downing Street, There to draw up a note to Talleyrand Retailing him the facts.—What signature Subscribed this desperate fellow when he wrote?

SECRETARY

"Guillet de la Gevrilliere." Here it stands.

FOX

Doubtless it was a false one. Come along. [Looking out the window.] Ah—here's Sir Francis Vincent: he'll go with us. Ugh, what a twinge! Time signals that he draws Towards the twelfth stroke of my working-day! I fear old England soon must voice her speech With Europe through another mouth than mine!

SECRETARY

I trust not, sir. Though you should rest awhile. The very servants half are invalid From the unceasing labours of your post, And these cloaked visitors of every clime That market on your magnanimity To gain an audience morning, night, and noon, Leaving you no respite.

FOX

'Tis true; 'tis true.— How I shall love my summer holiday At pleasant Saint-Ann's Hill!

[He leans on the secretary's arm, and they go out.]



SCENE II

THE ROUTE BETWEEN LONDON AND PARIS

[A view now nocturnal, now diurnal, from on high over the Straits of Dover, and stretching from city to city. By night Paris and London seem each as a little swarm of lights surrounded by a halo; by day as a confused glitter of white and grey. The Channel between them is as a mirror reflecting the sky, brightly or faintly, as the hour may be.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

What mean these couriers shooting shuttlewise To Paris and to London, turn and turn?

RUMOURS [chanting in antiphons]

I

The aforesaid tidings fro the minister, spokesman in England's cause to states afar,

II

Traverse the waters borne by one of such; and thereto Bonaparte's responses are:

I

"The principles of honour and of truth which ever actuate the sender's mind

II

"Herein are written largely! Take our thanks: we read that this conjuncture undesigned

I

"Unfolds felicitous means of showing you that still our eyes are set, as yours, on peace,

II

"To which great end the Treaty of Amiens must be the ground- work of our amities."

I

From London then: "The path to amity the King of England studies to pursue;

II

"With Russia hand in hand he is yours to close the long convulsions thrilling Europe through."

I

Still fare the shadowy missioners across, by Dover-road and Calais Channel-track,

II

From Thames-side towers to Paris palace-gates; from Paris leisurely to London back.

I

Till thus speaks France: "Much grief it gives us that, being pledged to treat, one Emperor with one King,

II

"You yet have struck a jarring counternote and tone that keys not with such promising.

I

"In these last word, then, of this pregnant parle; I trust I may persuade your Excellency

II

"That in no circumstance, on no pretence, a party to our pact can Russia be."

SPIRIT SINISTER

Fortunately for the manufacture of corpses by machinery Napoleon sticks to this veto, and so wards off the awkward catastrophe of a general peace descending upon Europe. Now England.

RUMOURS [continuing]

I

Thereon speeds down through Kent and Picardy, evenly as some southing sky-bird's shade:

II

"We gather not from your Imperial lines a reason why our words should be reweighed.

I

"We hold Russia not as our ally that is to be: she stands fully- plighted so;

II

"Thus trembles peace upon this balance-point: will you that Russia be let in or no?"

I

Then France rolls out rough words across the strait: "To treat with you confederate with the Tsar,

II

"Presumes us sunk in sloughs of shamefulness from which we yet stand gloriously afar!

I

"The English army must be Flanders-fed, and entering Picardy with pompous prance,

II

"To warrant such! Enough. Our comfort is, the crime of further strife lies not with France."

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Alas! what prayer will save the struggling lands, Whose lives are ninepins to these bowling hands?

CHORUS OF RUMOURS

France secretly with—Russia plights her troth! Britain, that lonely isle, is slurred by both.

SPIRIT SINISTER

It is as neat as an uncovered check at chess! You may now mark Fox's blank countenance at finding himself thus rewarded for the good turn done to Bonaparte, and at the extraordinary conduct of his chilly friend the Muscovite.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

His hand so trembles it can scarce retain The quill wherewith he lets Lord Yarmouth know Reserve is no more needed!

SPIRIT IRONIC

Now enters another character of this remarkable little piece—Lord Lauderdale—and again the messengers fly!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

But what strange figure, pale and noiseless, comes, By us perceived, unrecognized by those, Into the very closet and retreat Of England's Minister?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

The Tipstaff he Of the Will, the Many-masked, my good friend Death.— The statesman's feeble form you may perceive Now hustled into the Invisible, And the unfinished game of Dynasties Left to proceed without him!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Here, then, ends My hope for Europe's reason-wrought repose! He was the friend of peace—did his great best To shed her balms upon humanity; And now he's gone! No substitute remains.

SPIRIT IRONIC

Ay; the remainder of the episode is frankly farcical. Negotiations are again affected; but finally you discern Lauderdale applying for passports; and the English Parliament declares to the nation that peace with France cannot be made.

RUMOURS [concluding]

I

The smouldering dudgeon of the Prussian king, meanwhile, upon the horizon's rim afar

II

Bursts into running flame, that all his signs of friendliness were met by moves for war.

I

Attend and hear, for hear ye faintly may, his manifesto made at Erfurt town,

II

That to arms only dares he now confide the safety and the honour of his crown!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Draw down the curtain, then, and overscreen This too-protracted verbal fencing-scene; And let us turn to clanging foot and horse, Ordnance, and all the enginry of Force!

[Clouds close over the perspective.]



SCENE III

THE STREETS OF BERLIN

[It is afternoon, and the thoroughfares are crowded with citizens in an excited and anxious mood. A central path is left open for some expected arrival.

There enters on horseback a fair woman, whose rich brown curls stream flutteringly in the breeze, and whose long blue habit flaps against the flank of her curvetting white mare. She is the renowned LOUISA, QUEEN OF PRUSSIA, riding at the head of a regiment of hussars and wearing their uniform. As she prances along the thronging citizens acclaim her enthusiastically.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Who is this fragile fair, in fighting trim?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

She is the pride of Prussia, whose resolve Gives ballast to the purpose of her spouse, And holds him to what men call governing.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Queens have engaged in war; but war's loud trade Rings with a roar unnatural, fitful, forced, Practised by woman's hands!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Of her view The enterprise is that of scores of men, The strength but half-a-ones.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Would fate had ruled The valour had been his, hers but the charm!

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

But he has nothing on't, and she has all. The shameless satires of the bulletins dispatched to Paris, thence the wide world through, Disturb the dreams of her by those who love her, And thus her brave adventurers for the realm Have blurred her picture, soiled her gentleness, And wrought her credit harm.

FIRST CITIZEN [vociferously]

Yes, by God: send and ultimatum to Paris, by God; that's what we'll do, by God. The Confederation of the Rhine was the evil thought of an evil man bent on ruining us!

SECOND CITIZEN

This country double-faced and double-tongued, This France, or rather say, indeed, this Man— [Peoples are honest dealers in the mass]— This man, to sign a stealthy scroll with Russia That shuts us off from all indemnities, While swearing faithful friendship with our King, And, still professing our safe wardenry, To fatten other kingdoms at our cost, Insults us grossly, and makes Europe clang With echoes of our wrongs. The little states Of this antique and homely German land Are severed from their blood-allies and kin— Hereto of one tradition, interest, hope— In calling lord this rank adventurer, Who'll thrust them as a sword against ourselves.— Surely Great Frederick sweats within his tomb!

THIRD CITIZEN

Well, we awake, though we have slumbered long, And She is sent by Heaven to kindle us.

[The QUEEN approaches to pass back again with her suite. The vociferous applause is repeated. They regard her as she nears.]

To cry her Amazon, a blusterer, A brazen comrade of the bold dragoons Whose uniform she dons! Her, whose each act Shows but a mettled modest woman's zeal, Without a hazard of her dignity Or moment's sacrifice of seemliness, To fend off ill from home!

FOURTH CITIZEN [entering]

The tidings fly that Russian Alexander Declines with emphasis to ratify The pact of his ambassador with France, And that the offer made the English King To compensate the latter at our cost Has not been taken.

THIRD CITIZEN

And it never will be! Thus evil does not always flourish, faith. Throw down the gage while god is fair to us; He may be foul anon!

[A pause.]

FIFTH CITIZEN [entering]

Our ambassador Lucchesini is already leaving Paris. He could stand the Emperor no longer, so the Emperor takes his place, has decided to order his snuff by the ounce and his candles by the pound, lest he should not be there long enough to use more.

[The QUEEN goes by, and they gaze at here and at the escort of soldiers.]

Haven't we soldiers? Haven't we the Duke of Brunswick to command 'em? Haven't we provisions, hey? Haven't we fortresses and an Elbe, to bar the bounce of an invader?

[The cavalcade passes out of sight and the crowd draws off.]

FIRST CITIZEN

By God, I must to beer and 'bacco, to soften my rage!

[Exeunt citizens.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

So doth the Will objectify Itself In likeness of a sturdy people's wrath, Which takes no count of the new trends of time, Trusting ebbed glory in a present need.— What if their strength should equal not their fire, And their devotion dull their vigilance?— Uncertainly, by fits, the Will doth work In Brunswick's blood, their chief, as in themselves; It ramifies in streams that intermit And make their movement vague, old-fashioned, slow To foil the modern methods counterposed!

[Evening descends on the city, and it grows dusk. The soldiers being dismissed from duty, some young officers in a frolic of defiance halt, draw their swords and whet them on the steps of the FRENCH AMBASSADOR'S residence as they pass. The noise of whetting is audible through the street.]

CHORUS OF THE PITIES [aerial music]

The soul of a nation distrest Is aflame, And heaving with eager unrest In its aim To assert its old prowess, and stouten its chronicled fame!

SEMICHORUS I

It boils in a boisterous thrill Through the mart, Unconscious well-nigh as the Will Of its part: Would it wholly might be so, and feel not the forthcoming smart!

SEMICHORUS II

In conclaves no voice of reflection Is heard, King, Councillors, grudge circumspection A word, And victory is visioned, and seemings as facts are averred.

CHORUS

Yea, the soul of a nation distrest Is aflame, And heaving with eager unrest In its aim At supreme desperations to blazon the national name!

[Midnight strikes, lights are extinguished one by one, and the scene disappears.]



SCENE IV

THE FIELD OF JENA

[Day has just dawned through a grey October haze. The French, with their backs to the nebulous light, loom out and show themselves to be already under arms; LANNES holding the centre, NEY the right, SOULT the extreme right, and AUGEREAU the left. The Imperial Guard and MURAT'S cavalry are drawn up on the Landgrafenberg, behind the centre of the French position. In a valley stretching along to the rear of this height flows northward towards the Elbe the little river Saale, on which the town of Jena stands.

On the irregular plateaux in front of the French lines, and almost close to the latter, are the Prussians un TAUENZIEN; and away on their right rear towards Weimar the bulk of the army under PRINCE HOHENLOHE. The DUKE OF BRUNSWICK [father of the Princess of Wales] is twelve miles off with his force at Auerstadt, in the valley of the Ilm.

Enter NAPOLEON, and men bearing torches who escort him. He moves along the front of his troops, and is lost to view behind the mist and surrounding objects. But his voice is audible.]

NAPOLEON

Keep you good guard against their cavalry, In past repute the formidablest known, And such it may be now; so asks our heed. Receive it, then, in square, unflinchingly.— Remember, men, last year you captured Ulm, So make no doubt that you will vanquish these!

SOLDIERS

Long live the Emperor! Advance, advance!

DUMB SHOW

Almost immediately glimpses reveal that LANNES' corps is moving forward, and amid an unbroken clatter of firelocks spreads out further and wider upon the stretch of country in front of the Landgrafenberg. The Prussians, surprised at discerning in the fog such masses of the enemy close at hand, recede towards the Ilm.

From PRINCE HOHENLOHE, who is with the body of the Prussians on the Weimar road to the south, comes perspiring the bulk of the infantry to rally the retreating regiments of TAUENZIEN, and he hastens up himself with the cavalry and artillery. The action is renewed between him and NEY as the clocks of Jena strike ten.

But AUGEREAU is seen coming to Ney's assistance on one flank of the Prussians, SOULT bearing down on the other, while NAPOLEON on the Landgrafenberg orders the Imperial Guard to advance. The doomed Prussians are driven back, this time more decisively, falling in great numbers and losing many as prisoners as they reel down the sloping land towards the banks of the Ilm behind them. GENERAL RUCHEL, in a last despairing effort to rally, faces the French onset in person and alone. He receives a bullet through the chest and falls dead.

The crisis of the struggle is reached, though the battle is not over. NAPOLEON, discerning from the Landgrafenberg that the decisive moment has come, directs MURAT to sweep forward with all his cavalry. It engages the shattered Prussians, surrounds them, and cuts them down by thousands.

From behind the horizon, a dozen miles off, between the din of guns in the visible battle, there can be heard an ominous roar, as of a second invisible battle in progress there. Generals and other officers look at each other and hazard conjectures between whiles, the French with exultation, the Prussians gloomily.

HOHENLOHE

That means the Duke of Brunswick, I conceive, Impacting on the enemy's further force Led by, they say, Davout and Bernadotte. God grant his star less lurid rays then ours, Or this too pregnant, hoarsely-groaning day Shall, ere its loud delivery be done, Have twinned disasters to the fatherland That fifty years will fail to sepulchre!

Enter a straggler on horseback.

STRAGGLER

Prince, I have circuited by Auerstadt, And bring ye dazzling tidings of the fight, Which, if report by those who saw't be true, Has raged thereat from clammy day-dawn on, And left us victors!

HOHENLOHE

Thitherward go I, And patch the mischief wrought upon us here!

Enter a second and then a third straggler.

Well, wet-faced men, whence come ye? What d'ye bring?

STRAGGLER II

Your Highness, I rode straight from Hassenhausen, Across the stream of battle as it boiled Betwixt that village and the banks of Saale, And such the turmoil that no man could speak On what the issue was!

HOHENLOHE [To Straggler III]

Can you add aught?

STRAGGLER III

Nothing that's clear, your Highness.

HOHENLOHE

Man, your mien Is that of one who knows, but will not say. Detain him here.

STRAGGLER III

The blackness of my news, Your Highness, darks my sense!... I saw this much: His charging grenadiers, received in the face A grape-shot stroke that gouged out half of it, Proclaiming then and there his life fordone.

HOHENLOHE

Fallen? Brunswick! Reed in council, rock in fire... Ah, this he looked for. Many a time of late Has he, by some strange gift of foreknowing, Declared his fate was hovering in such wise!

STRAGGLER III

His aged form being borne beyond the strife, The gallant Moellendorf, in flushed despair, Swore he would not survive; and, pressing on, He, too, was slaughtered. Patriotic rage Brimmed marshals' breasts and men's. The King himself Fought like the commonest. But nothing served. His horse is slain; his own doom yet unknown. Prince William, too, is wounded. Brave Schmettau Is broke; himself disabled. All give way, And regiments crash like trees at felling-time!

HOHENLOHE

No more. We match it here. The yielding lines Still sweep us backward. Backward we must go!

[Exeunt HOHENLOHE, Staff, stragglers, etc.]

The Prussian retreat from Jena quickens to a rout, many thousands taken prisoners by MURAT, who pursues them to Weimar, where the inhabitants fly shrieking through the streets.

The October day closes in to evening. By this time the troops retiring with the King of Prussia from the second battlefield of Auerstadt have intersected RUCHEL'S and HOHENLOHE'S flying battalions from Jena. The crossing streams of fugitives strike panic into each other, and the tumult increases with the thickening darkness till night renders the scene invisible, and nothing remains but a confused diminishing noise, and fitful lights here and there.



SCENE V

BERLIN. A ROOM OVERLOOKING A PUBLIC PLACE

[A fluttering group of ladies is gathered at the window, gazing out and conversing anxiously. The time draws towards noon, when the clatter of a galloping horse's hoofs is heard echoing up the long Potsdamer-Strasse, and presently turning into the Leipziger- Strasse reaches the open space commanded by the ladies' outlook. It ceases before a Government building opposite them, and the rider disappears into the courtyard.]

FIRST LADY

Yes: surely he is a courier from the field!

SECOND LADY

Shall we not hasten down, and take from him The doom his tongue may deal us?

THIRD LADY

We shall catch As soon by watching here as hastening hence The tenour of his new. [They wait.] Ah, yes: see—see The bulletin is straightway to be nailed! He was, then, from the field....

[They wait on while the bulletin is affixed.]

SECOND LADY

I cannot scan the words the scroll proclaims; Peer as I will, these too quick-thronging dreads Bring water to the eyes. Grant us, good Heaven, That victory be where she is needed most To prove Thy goodness!... What do you make of it?

THIRD LADY [reading, through a glass]

"The battle strains us sorely; but resolve May save us even now. Our last attack Has failed, with fearful loss. Once more we strive."

[A long silence in the room. Another rider is heard approaching, above the murmur of the gathering citizens. The second lady looks out.]

SECOND LADY

A straggler merely he.... But they decide, At last, to post his news, wild-winged or no.

THIRD LADY [reading again through her glass]

"The Duke of Brunswick, leading on a charge, Has met his death-doom. Schmettau, too, is slain; Prince William wounded. But we stand as yet, Engaging with the last of our reserves."

[The agitation in the street communicates itself to the room. Some of the ladies weep silently as they wait, much longer this time. Another horseman is at length heard clattering into the Platz, and they lean out again with painful eagerness.]

SECOND LADY

An adjutant of Marshal Moellendorf's If I define him rightly. Read—O read!— Though reading draw them from their socket-holes Use your eyes now!

THIRD LADY [glass up]

As soon as 'tis affixed.... Ah—this means much! The people's air and gait Too well betray disaster. [Reading.] "Berliners, The King has lost the battle! Bear it well. The foremost duty of a citizen Is to maintain a brave tranquillity. This is what I, the Governor, demand Of men and women now.... The King lives still."

[They turn from the window and sit in a silence broken only by monosyllabic words, hearing abstractedly the dismay without that has followed the previous excitement and hope.

The stagnation is ended by a cheering outside, of subdued emotional quality, mixed with sounds of grief. They again look forth. QUEEN LOUISA is leaving the city with a very small escort, and the populace seem overcome. They strain their eyes after her as she disappears. Enter fourth lady.]

FIRST LADY

How does she bear it? Whither does she go?

FOURTH LADY

She goes to join the King at Custrin, there To abide events—as we. Her heroism So schools her sense of her calamities As out of grief to carve new queenliness, And turn a mobile mien to statuesque, Save for a sliding tear.

[The ladies leave the window severally.]

SPIRIT IRONIC

So the Will plays at flux and reflux still. This monarchy, one-half whose pedestal Is built of Polish bones, has bones home-made! Let the fair woman bear it. Poland did.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Meanwhile the mighty Emperor nears apace, And soon will glitter at the city gates With palpitating drums, and breathing brass, And rampant joyful-jingling retinue.

[An evening mist cloaks the scene.]



SCENE VI

THE SAME

[It is a brilliant morning, with a fresh breeze, and not a cloud. The open Platz and the adjoining streets are filled with dense crowds of citizens, in whose upturned faces curiosity has mastered consternation and grief.

Martial music is heard, at first faint, then louder, followed by a trampling of innumerable horses and a clanking of arms and accoutrements. Through a street on the right hand of the view from the windows come troops of French dragoons heralding the arrival of BONAPARTE.

Re-enter the room hurriedly and cross to the windows several ladies as before, some in tears.]

FIRST LADY

The kingdom late of Prussia, can it be That thus it disappears?—a patriot-cry, A battle, bravery, ruin; and no more?

SECOND LADY

Thank God the Queen's gone!

THIRD LADY

To what sanctuary? From earthquake shocks there is no sheltering cell! —Is this what men call conquest? Must it close As historied conquests do, or be annulled By modern reason and the urbaner sense?— Such issue none would venture to predict, Yet folly 'twere to nourish foreshaped fears And suffer in conjecture and in deed.— If verily our country be dislimbed, Then at the mercy of his domination The face of earth will lie, and vassal kings Stand waiting on himself the Overking, Who ruling rules all; till desperateness Sting and excite a bonded last resistance, And work its own release.

SECOND LADY

He comes even now From sacrilege. I learn that, since the fight, In marching here by Potsdam yesterday, Sans-Souci Palace drew his curious feet, Where even great Frederick's tomb was bared to him.

FOURTH LADY

All objects on the Palace—cared for, kept Even as they were when our arch-monarch died— The books, the chair, the inkhorn, and the pen He quizzed with flippant curiosity; And entering where our hero's bones are urned He seized the sword and standards treasured there, And with a mixed effrontery and regard Declared they should be all dispatched to Paris As gifts to the Hotel des Invalides.

THIRD LADY

Such rodomontade is cheap: what matters it!

[A galaxy of marshals, forming Napoleon's staff, now enters the Platz immediately before the windows. In the midst rides the EMPEROR himself. The ladies are silent. The procession passes along the front until it reaches the entrance to the Royal Palace. At the door NAPOLEON descends from his horse and goes into the building amid the resonant trumpetings of his soldiers and the silence of the crowd.]

SECOND LADY [impressed]

O why does such a man debase himself By countenancing loud scurrility Against a queen who cannot make reprise! A power so ponderous needs no littleness— The last resort of feeble desperates!

[Enter fifth lady.]

FIFTH LADY [breathlessly]

Humiliation grows acuter still. He placards rhetoric to his soldiery On their distress of us and our allies, Declaring he'll not stack away his arms Till he has choked the remaining foes of France In their own gainful glut.—Whom means he, think you?

FIRST LADY

Us?

THIRD LADY

Russia? Austria?

FIFTH LADY

Neither: England.—Yea, Her he still holds the master mischief-mind, And marrer of the countries' quietude, By exercising untold tyranny Over all the ports and seas.

SECOND LADY

Then England's doomed! When he has overturned the Russian rule, England comes next for wrack. They say that know!... Look—he has entered by the Royal doors And makes the Palace his.—Now let us go!— Our course, alas! is—whither?

[Exeunt ladies. The curtain drops temporarily.]

SEMICHORUS I OF IRONIC SPIRITS [aerial music]

Deeming himself omnipotent With the Kings of the Christian continent, To warden the waves was his further bent.

SEMICHORUS II

But the weaving Will from eternity, [Hemming them in by a circling sea] Evolved the fleet of the Englishry.

SEMICHORUS I

The wane of his armaments ill-advised, At Trafalgar, to a force despised, Was a wound which never has cicatrized.

SEMICHORUS II

This, O this is the cramp that grips! And freezes the Emperor's finger-tips From signing a peace with the Land of Ships.

CHORUS

The Universal-empire plot Demands the rule of that wave-walled spot; And peace with England cometh not!

THE SCENE REOPENS

[A lurid gloom now envelops the Platz and city; and Bonaparte is heard as from the Palace:

VOICE OF NAPOLEON

These monstrous violations being in train Of law and national integrities By English arrogance in things marine, [Which dares to capture simple merchant-craft, In honest quest of harmless merchandize, For crime of kinship to a hostile power] Our vast, effectual, and majestic strokes In this unmatched campaign, enable me To bar from commerce with the Continent All keels of English frame. Hence I decree:—

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

This outlines his renowned "Berlin Decree." Maybe he meditates its scheme in sleep, Or hints it to his suite, or syllables it While shaping, to his scribes.

VOICE OF NAPOLEON

All England's ports to suffer strict blockade; All traffic with that land to cease forthwith; All natives of her isles, wherever met, To be detained as windfalls of the war. All chattels of her make, material, mould, To be good prize wherever pounced upon: And never a bottom hailing from her shores But shall be barred from every haven here. This for her monstrous harms to human rights, And shameless sauciness to neighbour powers!

SPIRIT SINISTER

I spell herein that our excellently high-coloured drama is not played out yet!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nor will it be for many a month of moans, And summer shocks, and winter-whitened bones.

[The night gets darker, and the Palace outlines are lost.]



SCENE VII

TILSIT AND THE RIVER NIEMEN

[The scene is viewed from the windows of BONAPARTE'S temporary quarters. Some sub-officers of his suite are looking out upon it.

It is the day after midsummer, about one o'clock. A multitude of soldiery and spectators lines each bank of the broad river which, stealing slowly north-west, bears almost exactly in its midst a moored raft of bonded timber. On this as a floor stands a gorgeous pavilion of draped woodwork, having at each side, facing the respective banks of the stream, a round-headed doorway richly festooned. The cumbersome erection acquires from the current a rhythmical movement, as if it were breathing, and the breeze now and then produces a shiver on the face of the stream.]

DUMB SHOW

On the south-west or Prussian side rides the EMPEROR NAPOLEON in uniform, attended by the GRAND DUKE OF BERG, the PRINCE OF NEUFCHATEL, MARSHAL BESSIERES, DUROC Marshal of the Palace, and CAULAINCOURT Master of the Horse. The EMPEROR looks well, but is growing fat. They embark on an ornamental barge in front of them, which immediately puts off. It is now apparent to the watchers that a precisely similar enactment has simultaneously taken place on the opposite or Russian bank, the chief figure being the EMPEROR ALEXANDER—a graceful, flexible man of thirty, with a courteous manner and good-natured face. He has come out from an inn on that side accompanied by the GRAND DUKE CONSTANTINE, GENERAL BENNIGSEN, GENERAL OUWAROFF, PRINCE LABANOFF, and ADJUTANT- GENERAL COUNT LIEVEN.

The two barges draw towards the raft, reaching the opposite sides of it about the same time, amidst discharges of cannon. Each Emperor enters the door that faces him, and meeting in the centre of the pavilion they formally embrace each other. They retire together to the screened interior, the suite of each remaining in the outer half of the pavilion.

More than an hour passes while they are thus invisible. The French officers who have observed the scene from the lodging of NAPOLEON walk about idly, and ever and anon go curiously to the windows, again to watch the raft.

CHORUS OF THE YEARS [aerial music]

The prelude to this smooth scene—mark well!—were the shocks whereof the times gave token Vaguely to us ere last year's snows shut over Lithuanian pine and pool, Which we told at the fall of the faded leaf, when the pride of Prussia was bruised and broken, And the Man of Adventure sat in the seat of the Man of Method and rigid Rule.

SEMICHORUS I OF THE PITIES

Snows incarnadined were thine, O Eylau, field of the wide white spaces, And frozen lakes, and frozen limbs, and blood iced hard as it left the veins: Steel-cased squadrons swathed in cloud-drift, plunging to doom through pathless places, And forty thousand dead and near dead, strewing the early-lighted plains. Friedland to these adds its tale of victims, its midnight marches and hot collisions, Its plunge, at his word, on the enemy hooped by the bended river and famed Mill stream, As he shatters the moves of the loose-knit nations to curb his exploitful soul's ambitions, And their great Confederacy dissolves like the diorama of a dream.

DUMB SHOW [continues]

NAPOLEON and ALEXANDER emerge from their seclusion, and each is beheld talking to the suite of his companion apparently in flattering compliment. An effusive parting, which signifies itself to be but temporary, is followed by their return to the river shores amid the cheers of the spectators.

NAPOLEON and his marshals arrive at the door of his quarters and enter, and pass out of sight to other rooms than that of the foreground in which the observers are loitering. Dumb show ends.

[A murmured conversation grows audible, carried on by two persons in the crowd beneath the open windows. Their dress being the native one, and their tongue unfamiliar, they seem to the officers to be merely inhabitants gossiping; and their voices continue unheeded.]

FIRST ENGLISH SPY[14] [below]

Did you get much for me to send on?

SECOND ENGLISH SPY

Much; and startling, too. "Why are we at war?" says Napoleon when they met.—"Ah—why!" said t'other.—"Well," said Boney, "I am fighting you only as an ally of the English, and you are simply serving them, and not yourself, in fighting me."—"In that case," says Alexander, "we shall soon be friends, for I owe her as great a grudge as you."

FIRST SPY

Dammy, go that length, did they!

SECOND SPY

Then they plunged into the old story about English selfishness, and greed, and duplicity. But the climax related to Spain, and it amounted to this: they agreed that the Bourbons of the Spanish throne should be made to abdicate, and Bonaparte's relations set up as sovereigns instead of them.

FIRST SPY

Somebody must ride like hell to let our Cabinet know!

SECOND SPY

I have written it down in cipher, not to trust to memory, and to guard against accidents.—They also agree that France should have the Pope's dominions, Malta, and Egypt; that Napoleon's brother Joseph should have Sicily as well as Naples, and that they would partition the Ottoman Empire between them.

FIRST SPY

Cutting up Europe like a plum-pudding. Par nobile fratrum!

SECOND SPY

Then they worthy pair came to poor Prussia, whom Alexander, they say, was anxious about, as he is under engagements to her. It seems that Napoleon agrees to restore to the King as many of his states as will cover Alexander's promise, so that the Tsar may feel free to strike out in this new line with his new friend.

FIRST SPY

Surely this is but surmise?

SECOND SPY

Not at all. One of the suite overheard, and I got round him. There was much more, which I did not learn. But they are going to soothe and flatter the unfortunate King and Queen by asking them to a banquet here.

FIRST SPY

Such a spirited woman will never come!

SECOND SPY

We shall see. Whom necessity compels needs must: and she has gone through an Iliad of woes!

FIRST SPY

It is this Spanish business that will stagger England, by God! And now to let her know it.

FRENCH SUBALTERN [looking out above]

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