BY CHARLES MAIR.
"When the white men first set foot on our shores, they were hungry; they had no places on which to spread their blankets or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our fathers commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit had given to his red children."
From TECUMSEH'S speech to the Osages.
TECUMSEH (Chief of the Shawanoes).
THE PROPHET (Brother of Tecumseh).
TARHAY (A Chief in love with Iena).
STAYETA (Chief of the Wyandots).
MIAMI, DELAWARE, KICKAPOO and DAHCOTA CHIEFS. Warriors, Braves, Josakeeds and Runners.
MAMATEE (Wife of Tecumseh).
IENA (Niece of Tecumseh).
WEETAMORE, WINONA and other Indian Maidens.
GENERAL HARRISON (Governor of Indiana Territory).
BARRON (An Indian Agent).
TWANG, SLAUGH, GERKIN and BLOAT (Citizens of Vincennes).
Five Councillors of Indiana Territory, Officers, Soldiers, Volunteers, Orderlies and Scouts.
BRITISH AND CANADIANS:
GENERAL BROCK (Administrator of the Government of Upper Canada).
COLONEL (afterwards General) PROCTOR. GLEGG, MACDONELL, Aides-de-camp to General Brock.
NICHOL, BABY, ELIOTT, Colonels of Canadian Volunteers.
McKEE, ROBINSON, Captains of Canadian Volunteers.
LEFROY (A poet-artist, enamoured of Indian life, and in love with IENA.)
Two Old men of York, U. E. Loyalists, and other Citizens, Alien Settlers, Officers, Soldiers, Volunteers, Orderlies and Messengers.
SCENE FIRST.—THE FOREST NEAR THE PROPHET'S TOWN ON THE TIPPECANOE.
Enter the PROPHET.
PROPHET. Twelve moons have wasted, and no tidings still!
Tecumseh must have perished! Joy has tears As well as grief, and mine will freely flow— Sembling our women's piteous privilege— Whilst dry ambition ambles to its ends. My schemes have swelled to greatness, and my name Has flown so far upon the wings of fear That nations tremble at its utterance. Our braves abhor, yet stand in awe of me, Who ferret witchcraft out, commune with Heaven, And ope or shut the gloomy doors of death. All feelings and all seasons suit ambition! Yet my vindictive nature hath a craft, In action slow, which matches mother-earth's: First seed-time—then the harvest of revenge. Who works for power, and not the good of men, Would rather win by fear than lose by love. Not so Tecumseh—rushing to his ends, And followed by men's love—whose very foes Trust him the most. Rash fool! Him do I dread, And his imperious spirit. Twelve infant moons Have swung in silver cradles o'er these woods, And, still no tidings of his enterprise, Which—all too deep and wide—has swallowed him. And left me here unrivalled and alone.
Enter an INDIAN RUNNER.
Ha! There's a message in your eyes—what now?
RUNNER. Your brother, great Tecumseh, has returned, And rests himself a moment ere he comes To counsel with you here.
PROPHET. He has returned! So then the growing current of my power Must fall again into the stately stream Of his great purpose. But a moment past I stood upon ambition's height, and now My brother comes to break my greatness up, And merge it in his own. I know his thoughts— That I am but a helper to his ends; And, were there not a whirlpool in my soul Of hatred which would fain ingulf our foes, I would engage my cunning and my craft 'Gainst his simplicity, and win the lead. But, hist, he comes! I must assume the role By which I pander to his purposes.
TECUMSEH. Who is this standing in the darkened robes?
PROPHET. The Prophet! Olliwayshilla, who probes The spirit-world, and holds within his ken Life's secrets and the fateful deeds of men. The "One-Eyed!" Brother to the Shooting Star—
TECUMSEH. With heart of wax, and hands not made for war.
PROPHET. Would that my hands were equal to my hate! Then would strange vengeance traffic on the earth; For I should treat our foes to what they crave— Our fruitful soil—yea, ram it down their throats, And choke them with the very dirt they love. 'Tis you Tecumseh! You, are here at last, And welcome as the strong heat-bearing Spring Which opens up the pathways of revenge. What tidings from afar?
TECUMSEH. Good tidings thence. I have not seen the Wyandots, but all The distant nations will unite with us To spurn the fraudful treaties of Fort Wayne. From Talapoosa to the Harricanaw I have aroused them from their lethargy. From the hot gulf up to those confines rude, Where Summer's sides are pierced with icicles, They stand upon my call. What tidings here?
PROPHET. No brand has struck to bark our enterprise Which grows on every side. The Prophet's robe, That I assumed when old Pengasega died— With full accord and countenance from you— Fits a strong shoulder ampler far than his; And all our people follow me in fear.
TECUMSEH. Would that they followed you in love! Proceed! My ears are open to my brother's tongue.
PROPHET. I have myself, and by swift messengers, Proclaimed to all the nations far and near, I am the Open-Door, and have the power To lead them back to life. The sacred fire Must burn forever in the red-man's lodge, Else will that life go out. All earthly goods By the Great Spirit meant for common use Must so be held. Red shall not marry white, To lop our parent stems; and never more Must vile, habitual cups of deadliness Distort their noble natures, and unseat The purpose of their souls. They must return To ancient customs; live on game and maize; Clothe them with skins, and love both wife and child, Nor lift a hand in wrath against their race.
TECUMSEH. These are wise counsels which are noised afar, And many nations have adopted them And made them law.
PROPHET. These counsels were your own! Good in themselves, they are too weak to sway Our fickle race. I've much improved on them Since the Great Spirit took me by the hand.
TECUMSEH. Improved! and how? Your mission was to lead Our erring people back to ancient ways— Too long o'ergrown—not bloody sacrifice. They tell me that the prisoners you have ta'en— Not captives in fair fight, but wanderers Bewildered in our woods, or such as till Outlying fields, caught from the peaceful plough— You cruelly have tortured at the stake. Nor this the worst! In order to augment Your gloomy sway you craftily have played Upon the zeal and frenzy of our tribes, And, in my absence, hatched a monstrous charge Of sorcery amongst them, which hath spared Nor feeble age nor sex. Such horrid deeds Recoil on us! Old Shataronra's grave Sends up its ghost, and Tetaboxti's hairs— White with sad years and counsel—singed by you! In dreams and nightmares, float on every breeze. Ambition's madness might stop short of this, And shall if I have life.
PROPHET. The Great Spirit Hath urged me, and still urges me to all. He puts his hand to mine and leads me on. Do you not hear him whisper even now— "Thou art the Prophet?" All our followers Behold in me a greater than yourself, And worship me, and venture where I lead.
TECUMSEH. Your fancy is the common slip of fools, Who count the lesser greater being near. Dupe of your own imposture and designs, I cannot bind your thoughts! but what you do Henceforth must be my subject; so take heed, And stand within my sanction lest you fall.
PROPHET. You are Tecumseh—else you should choke for this!
[Haughtily crosses the stage and pauses.]
Stay! Let me think! I must not break with him— 'Tis premature. I know his tender part, And I shall touch it.
[Recrosses the stage.]
Brother, let me ask, Do you remember how our father fell?
TECUMSEH. Who can forget Kanawha's bloody fray? He died for home in battle with the whites.
PROPHET. And you remember, too, that boyish morn, When all our braves were absent on the chase— That morn when you and I half-dreaming lay In summer grass, but woke to deadly pain Of loud-blown bugles ringing through the air. They came!—a rush of chargers from the woods, With tramplings, cursings, shoutings manifold, And headlong onset, fierce with brandished swords, Of frontier troopers eager for the fight. Scarce could a lynx have screened itself from sight, So sudden the attack—yet, trembling there, We crouched unseen, and saw our little town Stormed, with vile slaughter of small babe and crone, And palsied grandsire—you remember it?
TECUMSEH. Remember it! Alas, the echoing Of that wild havoc lingers in my brain! O wretched age, and injured motherhood, And hapless maiden-wreck!
PROPHET. Yet this has been Our endless history, and it is this Which crams my very veins with cruelty. My pulses bound to see those devils fall Brained to the temples, and their women cast As offal to the wolf.
TECUMSEH. Their crimes are great— Our wrongs unspeakable! yet my revenge Is open war. It never shall be said Tecumseh's hate went armed with cruelty. There's reason in revenge; but spare our own! These gloomy sacrifices sap our strength; And henceforth from your wizard scrutinies I charge you to forbear. But who's the white You hold as captive?
PROPHET. He is called LEFROY— A captive, but too free to come and go. Our warriors struck his trail by chance, and found His tent close by the Wabash, where he lay With sprained ankle, foodless and alone. He had a book of pictures with him there Of Long-Knife forts, encampments and their chiefs— Most recognizable; so, reasoning thence, Our warriors took him for a daring spy, And brought him here, and tied him to the stake. Then he declared he was a Saganash— No Long-Knife he! but one who loved our race, And would adopt our ways—with honeyed words, Couched in sweet voice, and such appealing eyes That Iena, our niece—who listened near— Believing, rushed, and cut him from the tree. I hate his smiles, soft ways, and smooth-paced tread, And would, ere now, have killed him but for her; For ever since, unmindful of her race, She has upheld him, and our matrons think That he has won her heart.
TECUMSEH. But not her hand! This cannot be, and I must see to it: Red shall not marry white—such is our law. But graver matters are upon the wing, Which I must open to you. Know you, then, The nation that has doomed our Council-Fires— Splashed with our blood—will on its Father turn, Once more, whose lion-paws, stretched o'er the sea, Will sheathe their nails in its unnatural tides, Till blood will flow, as free as pitch in spring, To gum the chafed seams of our sinking bark. This opportunity, well-nursed, will give A respite to our wrongs, and heal our wounds; And all our nations, knit by me and ranged In headship with our Saganash allies, Will turn the mortal issue 'gainst our foes, And wall our threatened frontiers with their slain. But till that ripened moment, not a sheaf Of arrows should be wasted, not a brave Should perish aimlessly, nor discord reign Amongst our tribes, nor jealousy distrain The large effects of valour. We must now Pack all our energies. Our eyes and ears No more must idle with the hour, but work As carriers to the brain, where we shall store, As in an arsenal, deep schemes of war!
[A noise and shouting without.]
But who is this?
[Enter BARRON accompanied and half-dragged by warriors. The PROPHET goes forward to meet him.]
BARRON. I crave protection as a messenger And agent sent by General Harrison. Your rude, unruly braves, against my wish, Have dragged me here as if I were a spy.
PROPHET. What else! Why come you here if not a spy? Brouillette came, and Dubois, who were spies— Now you are here. Look on it! There's your grave.
[Pointing to the ground at BARRON'S feet.]
TECUMSEH. (Joining them.) Unhand this man! He is a messenger, And not a spy. Your life, my friend, is safe In these rough woods as in your general's town. But, quick—your message?
BARRON. The Governor of Indiana sends This letter to you, in the which he says (Reading letter) "You are an enemy to the Seventeen Fires. I have been told that you intend to lift The hatchet 'gainst your father, the great Chief, Whose goodness, being greater than his fear Or anger at your folly, still would stretch His bounty to his children who repent, And ask of him forgiveness for the past. Small harm is done which may not be repaired, And friendship's broken chain may be renewed; But this is in your doing, and depends Upon the choice you make. Two roads Are lying now before you: one is large, Open and pleasant, leading unto peace, Your own security and happiness; The other—narrow, crooked and constrained— Most surely leads to misery and death. Be not deceived! All your united force Is but as chaff before the Seventeen Fires. Your warriors are brave, but so are ours; Whilst ours are countless as the forest leaves, Or grains of sand upon the Wabash shores. Rely not on the English to protect you! They are not able to protect themselves. They will not war with us, for, if they do, Ere many moons have passed our battle flag Shall wave o'er all the forts of Canada. What reason have you to complain of us? What have we taken? or what treaties maimed? You tell us we have robbed you of your lands— Bought them from nameless braves and village chiefs Who had no right to sell—prove that to us, And they will be restored. I have full power To treat with you. Bring your complaint to me, And I, in honor, pledge your safe return."
TECUMSEH. Is this it all?
BARRON. Yes, all. I have commands To bear your answer back without delay.
PROPHET. This is our answer, then, to Harrison: Go tell that bearded liar we shall come, With forces which will pledge our own return!
TECUMSEH. What shall my answer be?
PROPHET. Why, like my own—There is no answer save that we shall go.
TECUMSEH. (To BARRON.) I fear that our complaint lies all too deep For your Chief's curing. The Great Spirit gave The red men this wide continent as theirs, And in the east another to the white; But, not content at home, these crossed the sea, And drove our fathers from their ancient seats. Their sons in turn are driven to the Lakes, And cannot further go unless they drown. Yet now you take upon yourselves to say This tract is Kickapoo, this Delaware, And this Miami; but your Chief should know That all our lands are common to our race! How can one nation sell the rights of all Without consent of all? No! For my part I am a Red Man, not a Shawanoe, And here I mean to stay. Go to your chief, And tell him I shall meet him at Vincennes.
[Exeunt all but TECUMSEH.]
What is there in my nature so supine That I must ever quarrel with revenge? From vales and rivers which were once our own The pale hounds who uproot our ancient graves Come whining for our lands, with fawning tongues, And schemes and subterfuge and subtleties. O for a Pontiac to drive them back And whoop them to their shuddering villages! O for an age of valour like to his, When freedom clothed herself with solitude, And one in heart the scattered nations stood, And one in hand. It comes! and mine shall be The lofty task to teach them to be free— To knit the nations, bind them into one, And end the task great Pontiac begun!
SCENE II.—ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST.
Enter LEFROY, carrying his rifle, and examining a knot of wild flowers.
LEFROY. This region is as lavish of its flowers As Heaven of its primrose blooms by night. This is the Arum which within its root Folds life and death; and this the Prince's Pine, Fadeless as love and truth—the fairest form That ever sun-shower washed with sudden rain. This golden cradle is the Moccasin Flower, Wherein the Indian hunter sees his hound; And this dark chalice is the Pitcher-Plant Stored with the water of forgetfulness. Whoever drinks of it, whose heart is pure, Will sleep for aye 'neath foodful asphodel, And dream of endless love. I need it not! I am awake, and yet I dream of love. It is the hour of meeting, when the sun Takes level glances at these mighty woods, And Iena has never failed till now, To meet me here! What keeps her? Can it be The Prophet? Ah, that villain has a thought, Undreamt of by his simple followers, Dark in his soul as midnight! If—but no— He fears her though he hates! What shall I do? Rehearse to listening woods, or ask these oaks What thoughts they have, what knowledge of the past? They dwarf me with their greatness, but shall come A meaner and a mightier than they, And cut them down. Yet rather would I dwell With them, with wildness and its stealthy forms— Yea, rather with wild men, wild beasts and birds, Than in the sordid town that here may rise. For here I am a part of Nature's self, And not divorced from her like men who plod The weary streets of care in search of gain. And here I feel the friendship of the earth: Not the soft cloying tenderness of hand Which fain would satiate the hungry soul With household honey-combs and parloured sweets, But the strong friendship of primeval things— The rugged kindness of a giant heart, And love that lasts. I have a poem made Which doth concern earth's injured majesty— Be audience, ye still untroubled stems!
There was a time on this fair continent When all things throve in spacious peacefulness. The prosperous forests unmolested stood, For where the stalwart oak grew there it lived Long ages, and then died among its kind. The hoary pines—those ancients of the earth— Brimful of legends of the early world, Stood thick on their own mountains unsubdued. And all things else illumined by the sun, Inland or by the lifted wave, had rest. The passionate or calm pageants of the skies No artist drew; but in the auburn west Innumerable faces of fair cloud Vanished in silent darkness with the day. The prairie realm—vast ocean's paraphrase— Rich in wild grasses numberless, and flowers Unnamed save in mute Nature's inventory No civilized barbarian trenched for gain. And all that flowed was sweet and uncorrupt. The rivers and their tributary streams, Undammed, wound on forever, and gave up Their lonely torrents to weird gulfs of sea, And ocean wastes unshadowed by a sail. And all the wild life of this western world Knew not the fear of man; yet in those woods, And by those plenteous streams and mighty lakes, And on stupendous steppes of peerless plain, And in the rocky gloom of canyons deep, Screened by the stony ribs of mountains hoar Which steeped their snowy peaks in purging cloud, And down the continent where tropic suns Warmed to her very heart the mother earth, And in the congeal'd north where silence self Ached with intensity of stubborn frost, There lived a soul more wild than barbarous; A tameless soul—the sunburnt savage free— Free, and untainted by the greed of gain: Great Nature's man content with Nature's food.
But hark! I hear her footsteps in the leaves— And so my poem ends.
Enter IENA, downcast.
My love! my love!
What! Iena in tears! your looks, like clouds, O'erspread my joy which, but a moment past, Rose like the sun to high meridian. Ah, how is this? She trembles, and she starts, And looks with wavering eyes through oozing tears, As she would fly from me. Why do you weep?
IENA. I weep, for I have come to say—farewell.
LEFROY. Farewell! I have fared well in love till now; For you are mine, and I am yours, so say Farewell, farewell, a thousand times farewell.
IENA. How many meanings has the word? since yours Is full of joy, but mine, alas, of pain. The pale-face and the Shawanoe must part.
LEFROY. Must part? Yes part—we parted yesterday— And shall to-day—some dream disturbs my love.
IENA. Oh, that realities were dreams! 'Tis not A dream that parts us, but a stern command. Tecumseh has proclaimed it as his law— Red shall not marry white; so must you leave; And therefore I have come to say farewell.
LEFROY. That word is barbed, and like an arrow aimed. The maid who saved my life would mar it too!
IENA. Speak not of that! Your life's in danger now. Tecumseh has returned, and—knowing all— Has built a barrier betwixt our loves, More rigid than a palisade of oak.
LEFROY. What means he? And what barrier is this?
IENA. The barrier is the welfare of our race— Wherefore his law—"Red shall not marry white." His noble nature halts at cruelty, So fear him not! But in the Prophet's hand, Dark, dangerous and bloody, there is death, And, sheltered by Tecumseh's own decree, He who misprizes you, and hates, will strike— Then go at once! Alas for Iena, Who loves her race too well to break its law.
LEFROY. I love you better than I love my race; And could I mass my fondness for my friends, Augment it with my love of noble brutes, Tap every spring of reverence and respect, And all affections bright and beautiful— Still would my love for you outweigh them all.
IENA. Speak not of love! Speak of the Long-Knife's hate! Oh, it is pitiful to creep in fear O'er lands where once our fathers stept in pride! The Long-Knife strengthens, whilst our race decays, And falls before him as our forests fall. First comes his pioneer, the bee, and soon The mast which plumped the wild deer fats his swine. His cattle pasture where the bison fed; His flowers, his very weeds, displace our own— Aggressive as himself. All, all thrust back! Destruction follows us, and swift decay. Oh, I have lain for hours upon the grass, And gazed into the tenderest blue of heaven— Cleansed as with dew, so limpid, pure and sweet— All flecked with silver packs of standing cloud Most beautiful! But watch them narrowly! Those clouds will sheer small fleeces from their sides, Which, melting in our sight as in a dream, Will vanish all like phantoms in the sky. So melts our heedless race! Some weaned away, And wedded to rough-handed pioneers, Who, fierce as wolves in hatred of our kind, Yet from their shrill and acid women turn, Prizing our maidens for their gentleness. Some by outlandish fevers die, and some— Caught in the white man's toils and vices mean— Court death, and find it in the trader's cup. And all are driven from their heritage, Far from our fathers' seats and sepulchres, And girdled with the growing glooms of war; Resting a moment here, a moment there, Whilst ever through our plains and forest realms Bursts the pale spoiler, armed, with eager quest, And ruinous lust of land. I think of all— And own Tecumseh right. 'Tis he alone Can stem this tide of sorrows dark and deep; So must I bend my feeble will to his, And, for my people's welfare, banish love.
LEFROY. Nay, for your people's welfare keep your love! My heart is true: I know that braggart nation, Whose sordid instincts, cold and pitiless, Would cut you off, and drown your Council-Fires. I would defend you, therefore keep me here! My love is yours alone, my hand I give, With this good weapon in it, to your race.
IENA. Oh, heaven help a weak untutored maid, Whose head is warring 'gainst a heart that tells, With every throb, I love you. Leave me! Fly!
LEFROY. I kneel to you—it is my leave-taking, So, bid me fly again, and break my heart!
Fly far from me, Even as the daylight flies, And leave me in the darkness of my pain! Some earlier love will come to thee again, And sweet new moons will rise, And smile on it and thee.
Fly far from me, Even whilst the daylight wastes— Ere thy lips burn me in a last caress; Ere fancy quickens, and my longings press, And my weak spirit hastes For shelter unto thee!
Fly far from me, Even whilst the daylight pales— So shall we never, never meet again! Fly! for my senses swim—Oh, Love! Oh, Pain!— Help! for my spirit fails— I cannot fly from thee!
[IENA sinks into LEFROY'S arms.]
LEFROY. No Iena! You cannot fly from me— My heart is in your breast, and yours in mine; Therefore our love—
Enter TECUMSEH, followed by MAMATEE.
TECUMSEH. False girl! Is this your promise? Would that I had a pale-face for a niece— Not one so faithless to her pledge! You owe All duty and affection to your race, Whose interest—the sum of our desires— Traversed by alien love, drops to the ground.
IENA. Tecumseh ne'er was cruel until now. Call not love alien which includes our race— Love for our people, pity for their wrongs! He loves our race because his heart is here— And mine is in his breast. Oh, ask him there, And he will tell you—
LEFROY. Iena, let me speak! Tecumseh, we as strangers have become Strangely familiar through sheer circumstance, Which often breeds affection or disdain, Yet lighting but the surface of the man, Shows not his heart. I know not what you think, And care not for your favour or your love, Save as desert may crown me. Your decree, "Red shall not marry white," is arbitrary, And off the base of nature; for if they Should marry not, then neither should they love. Yet Iena loves me, and I love her. Be merciful! I ask not Iena To leave her race; I rather would engage These willing arms in her defence and yours. Heap obligation up, conditions stern— But send not your cold "Nay" athwart our lives.
IENA. Be merciful! Oh, uncle, pity us!
TECUMSEH. My pity, Iena, goes with reproach, Blunting the edge of anger; yet my will Is fixed, and the command to be obeyed— This stranger must depart—you to your lodge!
MAMATEE. Tecumseh, I am in the background here, As ever I have been in your affection. For I have ne'er known what good women prize— Earth's greatest boon to them—a husband's love.
TECUMSEH. My nation has my love, in which you share, With special service rendered to yourself; So that your cabin flows with mouffles sweet, And hips of wapiti and bedded robes. Teach me my duty further if you will! My love is wide, and broods upon my race.
MAMATEE. The back is clad—the heart, alas! goes bare. Oh, I would rather shiver in the snow— My heart downed softly with Tecumseh's love— Than sleep unprized in warmest couch of fur. I know your love is wide, and, for that I Share but a millionth part of it, and feel Its meagreness, I plead most eagerly For this poor white, whose heart is full of love, And gives it all to her.
TECUMSEH. It cannot be! You know not what you ask. 'Tis 'gainst our law, Which, breached, would let our untamed people through.
LEFROY. I care not for your cruel law! The heart Has statutes of its own which make for love.
TECUMSEH. You'd cross me too! This child's play of the heart, Which sterner duty has repressed in me, Makes even captives bold. (Aside.) I like his courage!
MAMATEE. If duty makes Tecumseh's heart grow cold, Then shame on it! and greater shame on him Who ever yet showed mercy to his foes, Yet, turning from his own, in pity's spite Denies it to a girl. See, here I kneel!
IENA. And I! O uncle, frown not on our love!
TECUMSEH. By the Great Spirit this is over much! My heart is made for pity, not for war, Since women's tears unman me. Have your will! I shall respect your love, (To Lefroy.) your safety too. I go at once to sound the Wyandots Concerning some false treaties with the whites. The Prophet hates you, therefore come with me.
[The PROPHET rushes in with a band of Braves.]
PROPHET. She's here! Take hold of her and bear her off!
TECUMSEH. (Menacingly) Beware! Lay not a finger on the girl!
[The Braves fall back.]
PROPHET. There is no law Tecumseh will not break, When women weep, and pale-face spies deceive.
MAMATEE. Ah, wretch! not all our people's groans could wring A single tear from out your murderous eye.
PROPHET. This is my captive, and his life is mine!
[Seizing LEFROY, and lifting his hatchet.]
IENA. (Rushing to LEFROY) Save him! Save him!
TECUMSEH. Your life will go for his— One blow and you are doomed!
[TECUMSEH grasps the PROPHET'S uplifted axe.]
END OF FIRST ACT.
SCENE FIRST:—BEFORE THE PROPHET'S TOWN.
Enter TECUMSEH and LEFROY.
TECUMSEH. No guard or outlook—here! This is most strange. Chance reigns where prudence sleeps!
Enter a BRAVE.
Here comes a brave With frenzy in his face Where is the Prophet?
BRAVE. He fasts alone within the medicine-lodge, And talks to our Great Spirit. All our braves, Huddling in fear, stand motionless without, Thrilled by strange sounds, and voices not of earth.
TECUMSEH. How long has it been thus?
BRAVE. Four nights have passed And none have seen his face; but all have heard His dreadful tongue, in incantations deep, Fetch horrors up—vile beings flashed from hell, Who fought as devils fight, until the lodge Shook to its base with struggling, and the earth Quaked as, with magic strength, he flung them down. These strove with him for mastery of our fate; But, being foiled, Yohewa has appeared, And, in the darkness of our sacred lodge, Communes with him.
TECUMSEH. Our Spirit great and good! He comes not here for nought. What has he promised?
BRAVE. Much! for henceforth we are invulnerable. The bullets of the Long-Knives will rebound, Like petty hailstones, from our naked breasts; And, in the misty morns of our attack, Strange lights will shine on them to guide our aim, Whilst clouds of gloom will screen us from their sight.
TECUMSEH. The Prophet is a wise interpreter, And all his words, by valour backed, will stand; For valour is the weapon of the soul, More dreaded by our vaunting enemies Than the plumed arrow, or the screaming ball. What wizardry and witchcraft has he found Conspiring 'gainst our people's good?
BRAVE. Why, none! Wizard and witch are weeded out, he says; Not one is left to do us hurt.
TECUMSEH. 'Tis well! My brother has the eyeball of the horse, And swerves from danger. (Aside.) Bid our warriors come! I wait them here.
The Prophet soon will follow.
LEFROY. Now opportunity attend my heart Which waits for Iena! True love's behest, Outrunning war's, will bring her to my arms Ere cease the braves from gasping wonderment.
TECUMSEH. First look on service ere you look on love; You shall not see her here.
LEFROY. My promises Are sureties of my service—
TECUMSEH. But your deeds, Accomplishments; our people count on deeds. Be patient! Look upon our warriors Roped round with scars and cicatrized wounds, Inflicted in deep trial of their spirit Their skewered sides are proofs of manly souls, Which—had one groan escaped from agony— Would all have sunk beneath our women's heels, Unfit for earth or heaven. So try your heart, And let endurance swallow all love's sighs. Yoke up your valour with our people's cause, And I, who love your nation, which is just, When deeds deserve it, will adopt you here, By ancient custom of our race, and join Iena's hand to yours.
LEFROY. Your own hand first In pledge of this!
TECUMSEH. It ever goes with truth!
LEFROY. Now come some wind of chance, and show me her But for one heavenly moment! as when leaves Are blown aside in summer, and we see The nested oriole.
[Enter Chiefs and warriors—The warriors cluster around TECUMSEH, shouting and discharging their pieces.]
TECUMSEH. My chiefs and braves!
MIAMI CHIEF. Fall back! Fall back! Ye press too close on him.
TECUMSEH. My friends! our joy is like to meeting streams, Which draw into a deep and prouder bed.
[Shouts from the warriors.]
DELAWARE CHIEF. Silence, ye braves! let great Tecumseh speak!
[The warriors fall back.]
TECUMSEH. Comrades, and faithful warriors of our race! Ye who defeated Hartnar and St Clair, And made their hosts a winter's feast for wolves! I call on you to follow me again, Not now for war, but as forearmed for fight. As ever in the past so is it still: Our sacred treaties are infringed and torn; Laughed out of sanctity, and spurned away; Used by the Long-Knife's slave to light his fire, Or turned to kites by thoughtless boys, whose wrists Anchor their fathers' lies in front of heaven. And now we're asked to Council at Vincennes; To bend to lawless ravage of our lands, To treacherous bargains, contracts false, wherein One side is bound, the other loose as air! Where are those villains of our race and blood Who signed the treaties that unseat us here; That rob us of rich plains and forests wide; And which, consented to, will drive us hence To stage our lodges in the Northern Lakes, In penalties of hunger worse than death? Where are they? that we may confront them now With your wronged sires, your mothers, wives and babes, And, wringing from their false and slavish lips Confession of their baseness, brand with shame The traitor hands which sign us to our graves.
MIAMI CHIEF. Some are age-bent and blind, and others sprawl, And stagger in the Long-Knife's villages; And some are dead, and some have fled away, And some are lurking in the forest here, Sneaking, like dogs, until resentment cools.
KICKAPOO CHIEF. We all disclaim their treaties. Should they come, Forced from their lairs by hunger, to our doors, Swift punishment will light upon their heads.
TECUMSEH. Put yokes upon them! let their mouths be bound! For they are swine who root with champing jaws Their fathers' fields, and swallow their own offspring.
Enter the PROPHET in his robe—his face discoloured.
The Prophet! Welcome, my brother, from the lodge of dreams! Hail to thee, sagest among men—great heir Of all the wisdom of Pengasega!
PROPHET. This pale-face here again! this hateful snake, Who crawls between our people and their laws! (Aside.) Your greeting, brother, takes the chill from mine, When last we parted you were not so kind.
TECUMSEH. The Prophet's wisdom covers all. He knows Why Nature varies in her handiwork, Moulding one man from snow, the next from fire—
PROPHET. Which temper is your own, and blazes up, In winds of passion like a burning pine.
TECUMSEH. 'Twill blaze no more unless to scorch our foes. My brother, there's my hand—for I am grieved That aught befell to shake our proper love. Our purpose is too high, and full of danger; We have too vast a quarrel on our hands To waste our breath on this.
[Steps forward and offers his hand.]
PROPHET. My hand to yours.
SEVERAL CHIEFS. Tecumseh and the Prophet are rejoined!
TECUMSEH. Now, but one petty cloud distains our sky. My brother, this man loves our people well.
[Pointing to LEFROY.]
LEFROY. I know he hates me, yet I hope to win My way into his heart.
PROPHET. There—take my hand! I must dissemble. Would this palm were poison! (Aside.) (To TECUMSEH) What of the Wyandots? And yet I know! I have been up among the clouds, and down Into the entrails of the earth, and seen The dwelling-place of devils. All my dreams Are from above, and therefore favour us.
TECUMSEH. With one accord the Wyandots disclaim The treaties of Fort Wayne, and burn with rage. Their tryst is here, and some will go with me To Council at Vincennes. Where's Winnemac?
MIAMI CHIEF. That recreant has joined our enemies, And with the peace-pipe sits beside their fire, And whins away our lives.
KICKAPOO CHIEF. The Deaf-Chief, too, With head awry, who cannot hear us speak Though thunder shouted for us from the skies, Yet hears the Long-Knives whisper at Vincennes; And, when they jest upon our miseries, Grips his old leathern sides, and coughs with laughter.
DELAWARE CHIEF. And old Kanaukwa—famed when we were young— Has hid his axe, and washed his honours off.
TECUMSEH. 'Tis honor he has parted with, not honors; Good deeds are ne'er forespent, nor wiped away. I know these men; they've lost their followers, And, grasping at the shadow of command, Where sway and custom once had realty, By times, and turn about, follow each other. They count for nought—but Winnemac is true, Though over-politic; he will not leave us.
PROPHET. Those wizened snakes must be destroyed at once!
TECUMSEH. Have mercy, brother—those poor men are old.
PROPHET. Nay, I shall teaze them till they sting themselves; Their rusty fangs are doubly dangerous.
TECUMSEH. What warriors are ready for Vincennes?
WARRIORS. All! All are ready. Tecumseh leads us on—we follow him.
TECUMSEH. Four hundred warriors will go with me, All armed, yet only for security Against the deep designs of Harrison. For 'tis my purpose still to temporize, Not break with him in war till once again I scour the far emplacements of our tribes. Then shall we close at once on all our foes. They claim our lands, but we shall take their lives; Drive out their thievish souls, and spread their bones To bleach upon the misty Alleghanies; Or make death's treaty with them on the spot, And sign our bloody marks upon their crowns For lack of schooling—ceding but enough Of all the lands they covet for their graves.
MIAMI CHIEF. Tecumseh's tongue is housed in wisdom's cheeks; His valour and his prudence march together.
DELAWARE CHIEF. 'Tis wise to draw the distant nations on. This scheme will so extend the Long-Knife force, In lines defensive stretching to the sea, Their bands will be but morsels for our braves.
PROPHET. How long must this bold project take to ripen? Time marches with the foe, and his surveyors Already smudge our forests with their fires. It frets my blood and makes my bowels turn To see those devils blaze our ancient oaks, Cry "right!" and drive their rascal pickets down. Why not make war on them at once?
TECUMSEH. Not now! Time will make room for weightier affairs. Be this the disposition for the hour: Our warriors from Vincennes will all return, Save twenty—the companions of my journey— And this brave white, who longs to share our toil, And win his love by deeds in our defence. You, brother, shall remain to guard our town, Our wives, our children, all that's dear to us— Receive each fresh accession to our strength; And from the hidden world, which you inspect, Draw a divine instruction for their souls. Go, now, ye noble chiefs and warriors! Make preparation—I'll be with you soon. To-morrow we shall make the Wabash boil, And beat its current, racing to Vincennes.
[Exeunt all but TECUMSEH and the PROPHET.]
PROPHET. I shall return unto our sacred lodge, And there invoke the Spirit of the Wind To follow you, and blow good tidings back.
TECUMSEH. Our strait is such we need the help of heaven. Use all your wisdom, brother, but—beware! Pluck not our enterprise while it is green, And breed no quarrel here till I return. Avoid it as you would the rattling snake; And, when you hear the sound of danger, shrink, And face it not, unless with belts of peace. White wampum, not the dark, till we can strike With certain aim. Can I depend on you?
PROPHET. Trust you in fire to burn, or cold to freeze? So may you trust in me. The heavy charge Which you have laid upon my shoulders now Would weigh the very soul of rashness down.
[Exit the PROPHET.]
TECUMSEH. I think I can depend on him—I must! Yet do I know his crafty nature well— His hatred of our foes, his love of self, And wide ambition. What is mortal man? Who can divine this creature that doth take Some colour from all others? Nor shall I Push cold conclusions 'gainst my brother's sum Of what is good—so let dependence rest!
SCENE SECOND—VINCENNES—A STREET.
Enter Citizens GERKIN, SLAUGH and TWANG.
GERKIN. Ain't it about time Barron was back, Jedge?
TWANG. I reckon so. Our Guvner takes a crazy sight more pains than I would to sweetin thet ragin' devil Tecumseh's temper. I'd sweetin it wi' sugar o lead ef I had my way.
SLAUGH. It's a reekin' shame—dang me ef it aint. End thet two-faced, one-eyed brother o' his, the Prophet.— I'll be darned ef folks don't say thet the Shakers in them 'ere parts claims him fer a disciple!
TWANG. Them Shakers is a queer lot. They dance jest like wild Injuns, and thinks we orter be kind to the red rascals, end use them honestly.
GERKIN. Wall! Thet's what our Guvner ses tew. But I reckon he's shammin' a bit Twist you and me, he's on the make like the rest o' us. Think o' bein' kind to a red devil thet would lift your har ten minutes arter! End as fer honesty—I say "set 'em up" every time, and then rob 'em. Thet's the way to clar them out o' the kentry. Whiskey's better 'n gunpowder, end costs less than fightin' 'em in the long run.
Enter CITIZEN BLOAT.
TWANG. Thet's so! Hello, Major, what's up? You look kind o' riled to-day.
BLOAT. Wall, Jedge, I dew feel right mad—have you heerd the noos?
TWANG. No! has old Sledge bust you at the keerds again?
BLOAT. Old Sledge be darned! I had jest clar'd him out o' continentals—fifty to the shillin'—at his own game, when in ript Roudi—the Eyetalian that knifed the Muskoe Injun for peekin' through his bar-room winder last spring—jest down from Fort Knox. You know the chap, General; you was on his jury.
SLAUGH. I reckon I dew. The Court was agin him, but we acquitted him afore the Chief-Justice finished his charge, and gave him a vote o' thanks to boot. There's a heap o' furriners creepin' inter these parts—poor downtrodden cusses from Europe—end, ef they're all like Roudi, they'll dew—a'most as hendy wi' the knife as our own people. But what's up?
BLOAT. Roudi saw Barron at Fort Knox, restin' thar on his way back from the Prophet's Town, end he sez thet red assassin Tecumseh's a-cumin' down wi' four hundred o' his painted devils to convarse wi' our Guvner. They're all armed, he sez, end will be here afore mid- day.
SLAUGH. Wall! our Guvner notified him to come—he's only gettin' what he axed for. There'll be a deal o' loose har flitterin' about the streets afore night, I reckon. Harrison's a heap too soft wi' them red roosters; he h'aint got cheek enough.
GERKIN. I've heerd say the Guvner, end the Chief Justice tew, thinks a sight o' this tearin' red devil. They say he's a great man. They say, tew, thet our treaty Injuns air badly used—thet they shouldn't be meddled wi' on their resarves, end should hev skoolin'.
BLOAT. Skoolin'! That gits me! Dogoned ef I wouldn't larn them jest one thing—what them regler officers up to the Fort larns their dogs—"to drap to shot," only in a different kind o' way like; end, es fer their resarves, I say, give our farmers a chance—let them locate!
TWANG. Thet's so, Major! What arthly use air they— plouterin' about their little bits o' fields, wi' their little bits o' cabins, end livin' half the time on mush- rats? I say, let them move out, end give reliable citizens a chance.
SLAUGH. Wall, I reckon our Guvner's kind's about played out. They call themselves the old stock—the clean pea —the rale gentlemen o' the Revolooshun. But, gentlemen, ain't we the Revolooshun? Jest wait till the live citizens o' these United States end Territories gits a chance, end we'll show them gentry what a free people, wi' our institooshuns, kin do. There'll be no more talk o' skoolin fer Injuns, you bet! I'd give them Kernel Crunch's billet.
GERKIN. What was thet, General?
SLAUGH. Why, they say he killed a hull family o' redskins, and stuck 'em up as scar' crows in his wheat fields. Gentlemen, there's nothin' like original idees!
TWANG. Thet war an original idee! The Kernel orter hev tuk out a patent. I think I've heerd o' Crunch. Wam't he wi' Kernel Crawford, o' the melish', at one time?
TWANG. Why over to the Muskingum. You've heerd o' them Delaware Moravians over to the Muskingum, surely?
SLAUGH. Oh, them convarted chaps! but I a'most forgit the carcumstance.
TWANG. Wall, them red devils had a nice resarve thar— as yieldin' a bit o' sile as one could strike this side o' the Alleghanies. They was all convarted by the Moravians, end pertended to be as quiet and peaceable as the Shakers hereabout But Kernel Crawford—who knew good sile when he sot his eyes on it—diskivered thet them prayin' chaps had helped a war-party from the North, wi' provisions—or thort they did, which was the same thing. So—one fine Sunday—he surrounds their church wi' his melish'—when the Injuns was all a- prayin'—end walks in himself, jest for a minute or two, end prays a bit so as not to skeer them tew soon, end then walks out, end locks the door. The Kernel then cutely—my heart kind o' warms to thet man—put a squad o' melish' at each winder wi' their bayonets pinted, end sot fire to the Church, end charred up the hull kit, preacher and all! The heft o' them was burnt; but some thet warn't thar skinned out o' the kentry, end got lands from the British up to the Thames River in Canady, end founded what they call the Moravian Towns thar; and thar they is still—fur them Britishers kind o' pampers the Injuns, so they may git at our scalps.
SLAUGH. I reckon we'll hev a tussle wi' them gentry afore long. But for Noo England we'd a hed it afore now; but them Noo Englanders kind o' curries to the Britishers. A war would spile their shippin', end so they're agin it. But we h'aint got no ships to spile in this western kentry, end so I reckon we'll pitch in.
GERKIN. We'd better git out o' this Injun fry-pan fust, old hoss! I could lick my own weight in wild-cats, but this ruck o' Injuns is jest a little tew hefty.
BLOAT. Maybe they want to come to skool, end start store, end sich!
GERKIN. Gentlemen—I mean to send my lady down stream, end I reckon you'd better dew the same wi' your 'uns— jest fer safety like. My time's limited—will you liquor?
ALL. You bet!
BLOAT. (Meditatively) Skoolin! Wall, I'll be darned!
SCENE THIRD. THE SAME. A ROOM IN GENERAL HARRISON'S HOUSE.
Enter GENERAL HARRISON, and some Officers of the American Army.
HARRISON. What savage handiwork keeps Barron back?
Ah, here he comes, his looks interpreting Mischief and failure! It is as I feared. What answer do you bring?
BARRON. Tecumseh comes To council, with four hundred men at back, To which, with all persuasion, I objected— As that it would alarm our citizens, Whose hasty temper, by suspicion edged, Might break in broils of quarrel with his braves; But, sir, it was in vain—so be prepared! Your Council records may be writ in blood.
HARRISON. Will he attack us, think you?
BARRON. No, not now. His present thought is to intimidate. But, lest some rash and foulmouthed citizen Should spur his passion to the run, fore-arm!
HARRISON. Tut! Arms are scarce as soldiers in our town, And I am sick of requisitioning. Nay, we must trust to something else than arms. Tecumseh is a savage but in name—Let's trust to him! What says he of our treaties?
BARRON. O, he discharges them as heavy loads, Which borne by red men only, break their backs. All lands, he says, are common to his race; Not to be sold but by consent of all.
HARRISON. Absurd! This proposition would prevent All purchase and all progress. No, indeed; We cannot tie our hands with such conditions. What of the Prophet? Comes he with the rest?
BARRON. The Prophet stays behind.
HARRISON. He is a foil Used by Tecumseh to augment his greatness; And, by good husbandry of incantation, And gloomy charms by night, this Prophet works So shrewdly on their braves that every man, Inflamed by auguries of victory, Would rush on death.
1ST OFFICER. Why, General, I heard He over-trumpt you once and won the trick.
HARRISON. How so?
1ST OFFICER. Well, once, before his braves, 'tis said, You dared him to a trial of his spells, Which challenge he accepted, having heard From white men of a coming sun-eclipse. Then, shrewdly noting day and hour, he called Boldly his followers round him, and declared That he would hide the sun. They stood and gazed, And, when the moon's colossal shadow fell, They crouched upon the ground, and worshipped him.
HARRISON. He caught me there, and mischief came of it. Oh, he is deep. How different those brothers! One dipt in craft, the dye of cruelty, The other frank and open as the day.
Enter an ORDERLY.
ORDERLY. Tecumseh and his braves have reached the landing!
[Excitement. All rise hastily.]
HARRISON. This room is smaller than our audience: Take seats and benches to the portico— There we shall treat with him.
[Exeunt all but GENERAL HARRISON.]
Could I but strain My charge this chief might be our trusty friend. Yet I am but my nation's servitor; Gold is the king who overrides the right, And turns our people from the simple ways, And fair ideal of our fathers' lives.
SCENE FOURTH.—THE SAME. THE PORTICO OF GENERAL HARRISON'S HOUSE. AN OPEN GROVE AT A LITTLE DISTANCE IN FRONT.
[_Curtain rises and discovers_ GENERAL HARRISON, _army officers and citizens, of various quality, including_ TWANG, SLAUGH, GERKIN _and_ BLOAT, _seated in the portico. A sergeant and guard of soldiers near by.
Enter_ TECUMSEH _and his followers with_ LEFROY _in Indian dress. They all stop at the grove_.]
HARRISON. Why halts he there? Go tell him he is welcome to our house.
[An Orderly goes down with message.]
1ST OFFICER. How grave and decorous they look— "the mien Of pensive people born in ancient woods." But look at him! Look at Tecumseh there— How simple in attire! that eagle, plume Sole ornament, and emblem of his spirit. And yet, far-scanned, there's something in his face That likes us not. Would we were out of this!
HARRISON. Yes; even at a distance I can see His eyes distilling anger. 'Tis no sign Of treachery, which ever drapes with smiles The most perfidious purpose. Our poor strength Would fall at once should he break out on us; But let us hope 'tis yet a war of wits Where firmness may enact the part of force.
What answer do you bring?
ORDERLY. Tecumseh says: "Houses are built for whites— the red man's house, Leaf-roofed, and walled with living oak, is there—
[Pointing to the grove.]
Let our white brother meet us in it!"
2ND OFFICER. Oh! White brother! So he levels to your height, And strips your office of its dignity.
3RD OFFICER. 'Tis plain he cares not for your dignity, And touchingly reminds us of our tenets. Our nation spurns the outward shows of state, And ceremony dies for lack of service. Pomp is discrowned, and throned regality Dissolved away in our new land and laws. Man is the Presence here!
1ST OFFICER. Well, for my part, I like not that one in particular.
[Pointing toward TECUMSEH.]
3RD OFFICER. No more do I! I wish I were a crab, And had its courtly fashion of advancing.
HARRISON. Best yield to him, the rather that he now Invites our confidence. His heavy force Scants good opinion somewhat, yet I know There's honor, aye, and kindness in this Chief.
3RD OFFICER. Yes, faith, he loves us all, and means to keep Locks of our hair for memory. Here goes.
[All rise.] Servants and soldiers carry chairs and benches to the grove, followed by GENERAL HARRISON and others, who seat themselves— TECUMSEH and his followers still standing in the lower part of the grove.
HARRISON. We have not met to bury our respect, Or mar our plea with lack of courtesy. The Great Chief knows it is his father's wish That he should sit by him.
TECUMSEH. My father's wish! My father is the sun; the earth my mother
[Pointing to each in turn.]
And on her mighty bosom I shall rest.
[TECUMSEH and his followers seat themselves on the grass.]
HARRISON. (Rising.) I asked Tecumseh to confer with me, Not in war's hue, but for the ends of peace. Our own intent—witness our presence here, Unarmed save those few muskets and our swords. How comes it, then, that he descends on us With this o'erbearing and untimely strength? Tecumseh's virtues are the theme of all; Wisdom and courage, frankness and good faith— To speak of these things is to think of him! Yet, as one theft makes men suspect the thief— Be all his life else spent in honesty— So does one breach of faithfulness in man Wound all his after deeds. There is a pause In some men's goodness like the barren time Of those sweet trees which yield each second year, Wherein what seems a niggardness in nature; Is but good husbandry for future gifts. But this tree bears, and bears most treacherous fruit! Here is a gross infringement of all laws That shelter men in council, where should sit No disproportioned force save that of reason— Our strong dependence still, and argument, Of better consequence than that of arms, If great Tecumseh should give ear to it.
TECUMSEH. (Rising.) You called upon Tecumseh and he came! You sent your messenger, asked us to bring Our wide complaint to you—and it is here!
[Waving his arm toward his followers.]
Why is our brother angry at our force, Since every man but represents a wrong? Nay! rather should our force be multiplied! Fill up your streets and overflow your fields, And crowd upon the earth for standing room; Still would our wrongs outweigh our witnesses, And scant recital for the lack of tongues. I know your reason, and its bitter heart, Its form of justice, clad with promises— The cloaks of death! That reason was the snare Which tripped our ancestors in days of yore— Who knew not falsehood and so feared it not: Men who mistook your fathers' vows for truth, And took them, cold and hungry, to their hearts. Filled them with food, and shared with them their homes, With such return as might make baseness blush. What tree e'er bore such treacherous fruit as this? But let it pass! let wrongs die with the wronged! The red man's memory is full of graves. But wrongs live with the living, who are here— Inheritors of all our fathers' sighs, And tears, and garments wringing wet with blood. The injuries which you have done to us Cry out for remedy, or wide revenge. Restore the forests you have robbed us of— Our stolen homes and vales of plenteous com! Give back the boundaries, which are our lives, Ere the axe rise! aught else is reasonless.
HARRISON. Tecumseh's passion is a dangerous flood Which sweeps away his judgment. Let him lift His threatened axe to hit defenceless heads! It cannot mar the body of our right, Nor graze the even justice of our claim: These still would live, uncancelled by our death. Let reason rule us, in whose sober light We read those treaties which offend him thus: What nation was the first established here, Settled for centuries, with title sound? You know that people, the Miamies, well. Long ere the white man tripped his anchors cold, To cast them by the glowing western isles, They lived upon these lands in peace, and none Dared cavil at their claim. We bought from them, For such equivalent to largess joined, That every man was hampered with our goods, And stumbled on profusion. But give ear! Jealous lest aught might fail of honesty— Lest one lean interest or poor shade of right Should point at us—we made the Kickapoo And Delaware the sharer of our gifts, And stretched the arms of bounty over heads Which held but by Miami sufferance. But, you! whence came you? and what rights have you? The Shawanoes are interlopers here— Witness their name! mere wanderers from the South! Spurned thence by angry Creek and Yamasee— Now here to stir up strife, and tempt the tribes To break the seals of faith. I am surprised That they should be so led, and more than grieved Tecumseh has such ingrates at his back.
TECUMSEH. Call you those ingrates who but claim their own, And owe you nothing but revenge? Those men Are here to answer and confront your lies.
[Turning to his followers.]
Miami, Delaware and Kickapoo! Ye are alleged as signers of those deeds— Those dark and treble treacheries of Fort Wayne.— Ye chiefs whose cheeks are tanned with battle-smoke, Stand forward then, and answer if you did it!
KICKAPOO CHIEF. (Rising.) Not I! I disavow them! They were made By village chiefs whose vanity o'ercame Their judgment, and their duty to our race.
DELAWARE CHIEF. (Rising.) And I reject the treaties in the name Of all our noted braves and warriors. They have no weight save with the palsied heads Which dote on friendly compacts in the past.
MIAMI CHIEF. (Rising.) And I renounce them also. They were signed By sottish braves—the Long-Knife's tavern-chiefs— Who sell their honor like a pack of fur, Make favour with the pale-face for his fee, And caper with the hatchet for his sport. I am a chief by right of blood, and fling Your false and flimsy treaties in your face. I am my nation's head, and own but one As greater than myself, and he is here!
[Pointing to TECUMSEH.]
TECUMSEH. You have your answer, and from those whose rights Stand in your own admission. But from me— The Shawanoe—the interloper here— Take the full draught of meaning, and wash down Their dry and bitter truths. Yes! from the South My people came—fall'n from their wide estate Where Altamaha's uncongealing springs Kept a perpetual summer in their sight— Sweet with magnolia blooms, and dropping balm, And scented breath of orange and of pine. And from the East the hunted Delawares came, Flushed from their coverts and their native streams; Your old allies, men ever true to you, Who, resting after long and weary flight, Are by your bands shot sitting on the ground.
HARRISON. Those men got ample payment for their lands, Full recompense, and just equivalent.
TECUMSEH. They flew from death to light upon it here! And many a tribe comes pouring from the East, Smitten with fire—their outraged women, maimed, Screaming in horror o'er their murdered babes, Whose sinless souls, slashed out by white men's swords, Whimper in Heaven for revenge. Oh, God!— 'Tis thus the pale-face prays, then cries 'Amen':— He clamours, and his Maker answers him, Whilst our Great Spirit sleeps! O, no, no, no,— He does not sleep! He will avenge our wrongs! That Christ the white men murdered, and thought dead— Who, if He died for mankind, died for us— He is alive, and looks from heaven on this! Oh, we have seen your baseness and your guile; Our eyes are opened and we know your ways! No longer shall you hoax us with your pleas, Or with the serpent's cunning wake distrust, Range tribe 'gainst tribe—then shoot the remnant down, And in the red man's empty cabin grin, And shake with laughter o'er his desolate hearth. No, we are one! the red men all are one In colour as in love, in lands and fate!
HARRISON. Still, with the voice of wrath Tecumseh speaks, And not with reason's tongue.
TECUMSEH. O keep your reason! It is a thief which steals away our lands. Your reason is our deadly foe, and writes The jeering epitaphs for our poor graves. It is the lying maker of your books, Wherein our people's vengeance is set down, But not a word of crimes which led to it. These are hushed up and hid, whilst all our deeds, Even in self-defence, are marked as wrongs Heaped on your blameless heads.
But to the point! Just as our brother's Seventeen Council Fires Unite for self-protection so do we. How can you blame us, since your own example Is but our model and fair precedent? The Long-Knife's craft has kept our tribes apart, Nourished dissensions, raised distinctions up, Forced us to injuries which, soon as done, Are made your vile pretexts for bloody war. But this is past our nations now are one— Ready to rise in their imbanded strength. You promised to restore our ravaged lands On proof that they are ours—that proof is here, And by the tongues of truth has answered you. Redeem your sacred pledges, and no more Our "leaden birds" will sing amongst your corn: But love will shine on you, and startled peace Will come again, and build by every hearth. Refuse—and we shall strike you to the ground! Pour flame and slaughter on your confines wide, Till the charred earth, up to the cope of Heaven, Reeks with the smoke of smouldering villages, And steam of awful fires half-quenched with blood.
[Citizens converse in undertones.]
TWANG. Did you ever hear the like! Ef I hed my shootin'- iron darn me ef I wouldn't draw a bead on thet barkin' savage. The hungry devil gits under-holts on our Guvner every time.
SLAUGH. You bet! I reckon he'd better put a lump o' bacon in his mouth to keep his bilin' sap o' passion down.
BLOAT. Thet's mor'n I'd do. This is jest what we git for allowin' the skulkin' devils to live. I'd vittle 'em on lead pills ef I was Guvner.
TWANG. Thet's so! Our civilizashun is jest this—we know what's what. Ef I hed my way—
HARRISON. Silence, you fools! If you provoke him here your blood be on your heads.
GERKIN. Right you air, Guvner! We'll close our dampers.
TECUMSEH. My brother's ears have heard. Where is his tongue?
HARRISON. My honest ears ache in default of reason. Tecumseh is reputed wise, yet now His fuming passions from his judgment fly, Like roving steeds which gallop from the catch, And kick the air, wasting in wantonness More strength than in submission. His threats fall On fearless ears. Knows he not of our force, Which in the East swarms like mosquitoes here? Our great Kentucky and Virginia fires? Our mounted men and soldier-citizens? These all have stings—let him beware of them!
TECUMSEH. Who does not know your vaunting citizens! Well drilled in fraud and disciplined in crime; But in aught else—as honor, justice, truth— A rabble, and a base disordered herd. We know them; and our nations, knit in one, Will challenge them, should this, our last appeal, Fall on unheeding ears. My brother, hearken! East of Ohio you possess our lands, Thrice greater than your needs, but west of it We claim them all; then, let us make its flood A common frontier, and a sacred stream Of which our nations both may drink in peace.
HARRISON. Absurd! The treaties of Fort Wayne must stand. Your village chiefs are heads of civil rule, Whose powers you seek to centre in yourself, Or vest in warriors whose trade is blood. We bought from those, and from your peaceful men— Your wiser brothers—who had faith in us.
TECUMSEH. Poor, ruined brothers, weaned from honest lives!
HARRISON. They knew our wisdom, and preferred to sell Their cabins, fields, and wilds of unused lands For rich reserves and ripe annuities. As for your nations being one like ours— 'Tis false—else would they speak one common tongue. Nay, more! your own traditions trace you here— Widespread in lapse of ages through the land— From o'er the mighty ocean of the West. What better title have you than ourselves, Who came from o'er the ocean of the East, And meet with you on free and common ground? Be reasonable, and let wisdom's words Displace your passion, and give judgment vent Think more of bounty, and talk less of rights— Our hands are full of gifts, our hearts of love.
TECUMSEH. My brother's love is like the trader's warmth— O'er with the purchase. Oh, unhappy lives— Our gifts which go for yours! Once we were strong. Once all this mighty continent was ours, And the Great Spirit made it for our use. He knew no boundaries, so had we peace In the vast shelter of His handiwork, And, happy here, we cared not whence we came. We brought no evils thence—no treasured hate, No greed of gold, no quarrels over God; And so our broils, to narrow issues joined, Were soon composed, and touched the ground of peace. Our very ailments, rising from the earth, And not from any foul abuse in us, Drew back, and let age ripen to death's hand. Thus flowed our lives until your people came, Till from the East our matchless misery came! Since then our tale is crowded with your crimes, With broken faith, with plunder of reserves— The sacred remnants of our wide domain— With tamp'rings, and delirious feasts of fire, The fruit of your thrice-cursed stills of death, Which make our good men bad, our bad men worse, Aye! blind them till they grope in open day, And stumble into miserable graves. Oh, it is piteous, for none will hear! There is no hand to help, no heart to feel, No tongue to plead for us in all your land. But every hand aims death, and every heart, Ulcered with hate, resents our presence here; And every tongue cries for our children's land To expiate their crime of being born. Oh, we have ever yielded in the past, But we shall yield no more! Those plains are ours! Those forests are our birth-right and our home! Let not the Long-Knife build one cabin there— Or fire from it will spread to every roof, To compass you, and light your souls to death!
HARRISON. Dreams he of closing up our empty plains? Our mighty forests waiting for the axe? Our mountain steeps engrailed with iron and gold? There's no asylumed madness like to this! Mankind shall have its wide possession here; And these rough assets of a virgin world Stand for its coming, and await its hand. The poor of every land shall come to this, Heart-full of sorrows and shall lay them down.
LEFROY. (Springing to his feet.) The poor! What care your rich thieves for the poor? Those graspers hate the poor, from whom they spring, More deeply than they hate this injured race. Much have they taken from it—let them now Take this prediction, with the red man's curse! The time will come when that dread power—the Poor— Whom, in their greed and pride of wealth, they spurn— Will rise on them, and tear them from their seats; Drag all their vulgar splendours down, and pluck Their shallow women from their lawless beds, Yea, seize their puling and unhealthy babes, And fling them as foul pavement to the streets. In all the dreaming of the Universe There is no darker vision of despairs!
1ST OFFICER. What man is that? 'Tis not an Indian.
HARRISON. Madman, you rave!—you know not what you say.
TECUMSEH. Master of guile, this axe should speak for him!
[Drawing his hatchet as if to hurl it at HARRISON.]
2ND OFFICER. This man means mischief! Quick! Bring up the guard!
[GENERAL HARRISON and officers draw their swords. The warriors spring to their feet and cluster about TECUMSEH, their eyes fixed intently upon HARRISON, who stands unmoved. TWANG and his friends disappear. The soldiers rush forward and take aim, but are ordered not to fire.]
END OF SECOND ACT.
SCENE FIRST.—VINCENNES.—A COUNCIL CHAMBER IN GENERAL HARRISON'S HOUSE.
Enter HARRISON and five COUNCILLORS.
HARRISON. Here are despatches from the President, As well as letters from my trusted friends, Whose tenor made me summon you to Council.
[Placing papers on table.]
1ST COUNCILLOR. Why break good news so gently? Is it true War is declared 'gainst England?
HARRISON. Would it were! That war is still deferred. Our news is draff, And void of spirit, since New England turns A fresh cheek to the slap of Britain's palm. Great God! I am amazed at such supineness. Our trade prohibited, our men impressed, Our flag insulted—still her people bend, Amidst the ticking of their wooden clocks, Bemused o'er small inventions. Out upon't! Such tame submission yokes not with my spirit, And sends my southern blood into my cheeks, As proxy for New England's sense of shame.
2ND COUNCILLOR. We all see, save New England, what to do; But she has eyes for her one interest— A war might sink it. So the way to war Puzzles imagining.
HARRISON. There is a way Which lies athwart the President's command. The reinforcements asked for from Monroe Are here at last, but with this strict injunction, They must not be employed save in defence, Or in a forced attack.
[Taking up a letter.]
Now, here is news, Fresh from the South, of bold Tecumseh's work, The Creeks and Seminoles have conjoined, Which means a general union of the tribes, And ravage of our Southern settlements. Tecumseh's master hand is seen in this, And these fresh tidings tally with his threats Before he left Vincennes.
3RD COUNCILLOR. You had a close Encounter with him here.
HARRISON. Not over close, Nor dangerous—I saw he would not strike. His thoughts outran his threats, and looked beyond To wider fields and trials of our strength.
4TH COUNCILLOR. Our tree is now too bulky for his axe.
HARRISON. Don't underrate his power! But for our States This man would found an empire to surpass Old Mexico's renown, or rich Peru. Allied with England, he is to be feared More than all other men.
1ST COUNCILLOR. You had some talk In private, ere he vanished to the South?
HARRISON. Mere words, yet ominous. Could we restore Our purchases, and make a treaty line, All might be well; but who would stand to it?
2ND COUNCILLOR. It is not to be thought of.
OTHER COUNCILLORS. No, no, no.
HARRISON. In further parley at the river's edge, Scenting a coming war, he clapped his hands, And said the English whooped his people on, As if his braves were hounds to spring at us; Compared our nation to a whelming flood, And called his scheme a dam to keep it back— Then proffered the old terms; whereat I urged A peaceful mission to the President. But, by apt questions, gleaning my opinion, Ere I was ware, of such a bootless trip, He drew his manly figure up, then smiled, And said our President might drink his wine In safety in his distant town, whilst we— Over the mountains here—should fight it out: Then entering his bark, well-manned with braves, Bade me let matters rest till he returned From his far mission to the distant tribes, Waved an adieu, and, in a trice, was gone.
2ND COUNCILLOR. Your news is but an earnest of his work.
4TH COUNCILLOR. This Chief's dispatch should be our own example. Let matters rest, forsooth, till he can set Our frontier in a blaze! Such cheap advice Pulls with the President's, not mine.
HARRISON. Nor mine! The sum of my advice is to attack The Prophet ere Tecumseh can return.
5TH COUNCILLOR. But what about the breach of your instructions?
HARRISON. If we succeed we need not fear the breach— In the same space we give and heal the wound.
[Enter a Messenger, who hands letters to HARRISON.]
Thank you, Missouri and good Illinois— Your governors are built of western clay. Howard and Edwards both incline with me, And urge attack upon the Prophet's force. This is the nucleus of Tecumseh's strength— His bold scheme's very heart. Let's cut it out. Yes! yes! and every other part will fail.
1ST COUNCILLOR. Let us prepare to go at once!
2ND COUNCILLOR. Agreed.
3RD COUNCILLOR. I vote for war.
5TH COUNCILLOR. But should the Prophet win?
4TH COUNCILLOR. Why then, the Prophet, not Tecumseh, kills us— Which has the keener axe?
1ST COUNCILLOR. Breech-clouted dogs! Let us attack them, and, with thongs of fire, Whip their red bodies to a deeper red.
HARRISON. This feeling bodes success, and with success Comes war with England; for a well-won fight Will rouse a martial spirit in the land To emulate our deeds on higher ground. Now hasten to your duties and prepare: Bronzed autumn comes, when copper-colored oaks Drop miserly their stiff leaves to the earth; And ere the winter's snow doth silver them, Our triumph must be wrought.
SCENE SECOND.—TECUMSEH'S CABIN IN THE PROPHET'S TOWN.
[Enter IENA and MAMATEE, agitated.]
IENA. My heart is sad, and I am faint with fear. My friend, my more than mother, go again— Plead with the Prophet for a single day! Perchance within his gloomy heart will stir Some sudden pulse of pity for a girl.
MAMATEE. Alas, my Iena, it is in vain! He swore by Manitou this very morn, That thou should'st wed the chief, Tarhay, to-night.
IENA. Nay try once more, Oh Mamatee, once more! I had a dream, and heard the gusty breeze Hurtle from out a sea of hissing pines, Then dwindle into voices, faint and sweet, Which cried—we come! It was my love and yours! They spoke to me—I know that they are near, And waft their love to us upon the wind.
MAMATEE. Some dreams are merely fancies in our sleep: I'll make another trial, but I feel Your only safety is in instant flight.
IENA. Flight! Where and how—beset by enemies? My fear sits like the partridge in the tree, And cannot fly whilst these dogs bark at me.
SCENE THIRD.—AN ELEVATED PLATEAU, DOTTED WITH HEAVY OAKS, WEST OF THE PROPHET'S TOWN.
Enter three of HARRISON'S staff Officers.
1ST OFFICER. Well, here's the end of all our northward marching!
2ND OFFICER. A peaceful end, if we can trust those chiefs Who parleyed with us lately.
3RD OFFICER. Yes, for if They mean to fight, why point us to a spot At once so strong and pleasant for our camp?
1ST OFFICER. Report it so unto our General!
[Exit 3RD OFFICER.]
'Tis worth our long march through the forest wild To view these silent plains! The Prophet's Town, Sequestered yonder like a hermitage, Disturbs not either's vast of solitude, But rather gives, like graveyard visitors, To deepest loneliness a deeper awe.
[Re enter 3RD OFFICER.]
3RD OFFICER. I need not go, for Harrison is here.
[Enter GENERAL HARRISON, his force following.]
1ST OFFICER. Methinks you like the place; some thanks we owe Unto the Prophet's chiefs for good advice.
HARRISON. (Looking around keenly). These noble oaks, the streamlet to our rear, This rank wild grass—wood, water and soft beds! The soldier's luxuries are here together.
1ST OFFICER. Note, too, the place o'erlooks the springy plain Which lies betwixt us and the Prophet's Town. I think, sir, 'tis a very fitting place.
HARRISON. A fitting place if white men were our foes; But to the red it gives a clear advantage. Sleep like the weasel here, if you are wise!
1ST OFFICER. Why, sir, their chiefs, so menacing at first, Became quite friendly at the last. They fear A battle, and will treat on any terms. The Prophet's tide of strength will ebb away, And leave his stranded bark upon the mire.
HARRISON. 'Tis the mixed craft of old dissembling Nature! If I could look upon her smallest web, And see in it but crossed and harmless hairs, Then might I trust the Prophet's knotted seine. I did not like the manner of those chiefs Who spoke so fairly. What but highest greatness Plucks hatred from its seat, and in its stead Plants friendship in an instant? This our camp Is badly placed; each coulee and ravine Is dangerous cover for approach by night; And all the circuit of the spongy plain A treacherous bog to mire our cavalry. They who directed us so warmly here Had other than our comfort in their eye.
2ND OFFICER. Fear you a night-attack, sir?
HARRISON. Fear it! No! I but anticipate, and shall prepare. 'Tis sunset, and too late for better choice, Else were the Prophet welcome to his ground. Pitch tents and draw our baggage to the centre; Girdle the camp with lynx-eyed sentinels; Detail strong guards of choice and wakeful men As pickets in advance of all oar lines; Place mounted riflemen on both our flanks; Our cavalry take post in front and rear, But still within the lines of infantry, Which, struck at any point, must hold the ground Until relieved. Cover your rifle pans— The thick clouds threaten rain. I look to you To fill these simple orders to the letter. But stay! Let all our camp fires burn Till, if attacked, we form—then drown them out. The darkness falls—make disposition straight; Then, all who can, to sleep upon their arms. I fear me, ere night yields to morning pale, The warriors' yell will sound our wild reveille.
SCENE FOURTH.—TECUMSEH'S CABIN.
IENA. Tis night, and Mamatee is absent still! Why should this sorrow weigh upon my heart, And other lonely things on earth have rest? Oh, could I be with them! The lily shone All day upon the stream, and now it sleeps Under the wave in peace—in cradle soft Which sorrow soon may fashion for my grave. Ye shadows which do creep into my thoughts— Ye curtains of despair! what is my fault, That ye should hide the happy earth from me? Once I had joy of it, when tender Spring, Mother of beauty, hid me in her leaves; When Summer led me by the shores of song, And forests and far-sounding cataracts Melted my soul with music. I have heard The rough chill harpings of dismantled woods, When Fall had stripped them, and have felt a joy Deeper than ear could lend unto the heart; And when the Winter from his mountains wild Looked down on death, and, in the frosty sky, The very stars seemed hung with icicles, Then came a sense of beauty calm and cold, That weaned me from myself, yet knit me still With kindred bonds to Nature. All is past, And he—who won from me such love for him, And he—my valiant uncle and my friend, Comes not to lift the cloud that drapes my soul, And shield me from the fiendish Prophet's power.
Give me his answer in his very words!
MAMATEE. There is a black storm raging in his mind— His eye darts lightning like the angry cloud Which hangs in woven darkness o'er the earth. Brief is his answer—you must go to him. The Long-Knife's camp fires gleam among the oaks Which dot yon western hill. A thousand men Are sleeping there cajoled to fatal dreams By promises the Prophet breaks to-night. Hark! 'tis the war-song.
IENA. Dares the Prophet now Betray Tecumseh's trust, and break his faith?
MAMATEE. He dares do anything will feed ambition. His dancing braves are frenzied by his tongue, Which prophesies revenge and victory. Before the break of day he will surprise The Long-Knife's camp, and hang our people's fate Upon a single onset.
IENA. Should he fail?
MAMATEE. Then all will fail;—Tecumseh's scheme will fail.
IENA. It shall not! Let us go to him at once!
MAMATEE. And risk your life?
IENA. Risk hovers everywhere When night and man combine for darksome deeds. I'll go to him, and argue on my knees— Yea, yield my hand—would I could give my heart! To stay his purpose and this act of ruin.
MAMATEE. He is not in the mood for argument Rash girl! they die who would oppose him now.
IENA. Such death were sweet as life—I go! But, first—Great Spirit! I commit my soul to Thee.
SCENE FIFTH.—AN OPEN SPACE IN THE FOREST NEAR THE PROPHET'S TOWN. A FIRE OF BILLETS BURNING. WAR CRIES ARE HEARD FROM THE TOWN.
Enter the PROPHET.
PROPHET. My spells do work apace! Shout yourselves hoarse, Ye howling ministers by whom I climb! For this I've wrought until my weary tongue, Blistered with incantation, flags in speech, And half declines its office. Every brave Inflamed by charms and oracles, is now A vengeful serpent, who will glide ere morn To sting the Long-Knife's sleeping camp to death. Why should I hesitate? My promises! My duty to Tecumseh! What are these Compared with duty here? Where I perceive A near advantage, there my duty lies; Consideration strong which overweighs All other reason. Here is Harrison— Trepanned to dangerous lodgment for the night— Each deep ravine which grooves the prairie's breast A channel of approach; each winding creek A screen for creeping death. Revenge is sick To think of such advantage flung aside. For what? To let Tecumseh's greatness grow, Who gathers his rich harvest of renown Out of the very fields that I have sown! By Manitou, I will endure no more! Nor, in the rising flood of our affairs, Fish like an osprey for this eagle longer.
It is the midnight hour when comes Tarhay to claim his bride, (calls) Tarhay! Tarhay!
[Enter TARHAY with several braves.]
TARHAY. Tarhay is here!
PROPHET. The Long-Knives die to-night. The spirits which do minister to me Have breathed this utterance within my ear. You know my sacred office cuts me off From the immediate leadership in fight. My nobler work is in the spirit-world, And thence come promises which make us strong. Near to the foe I'll keep the Magic Bowl, Whilst you, Tarhay, shall lead our warriors on.
TARHAY. I'll lead them; they are wild with eagerness. But fill my cold and empty cabin first With light and heat! You know I love your niece, And have the promise of her hand to-night.
PROPHET. She shall be yours!
(To the braves)
Go bring her here at once—But, look! Fulfilment of my promise comes In her own person.
Enter IENA and MAMATEE.
Welcome, my sweet niece! You have forestalled my message by these braves, And come unbidden to your wedding place.
IENA. Uncle! you know my heart is far away—
PROPHET. But still your hand is here! this little hand! (Pulling her forward)
IENA. Dare you enforce a weak and helpless girl, Who thought to move you by her misery? Stand back! I have a message for you too. What means the war-like song, the dance of braves, And bustle in our town?
PROPHET. It means that we Attack the foe to-night.
IENA. And risk our all? O that Tecumseh knew! his soul would rush In arms to intercept you. What! break faith, And on the hazard of a doubtful strife, Stake his great enterprise and all our lives! The dying curses of a ruined race Will wither up your wicked heart for this!
PROPHET. False girl! your heart is with our foes; Your hand I mean to turn to better use.
IENA. Oh, could it turn you from your mad intent How freely would I give it! Drop this scheme, Dismiss your frenzied warriors to their beds; And, if contented with my hand, Tarhay Can have it here.
TARHAY. I love you, Iena!
IENA. Then must you love what I do! Love our race! 'Tis this love nerves Tecumseh to unite Its scattered tribes—his fruit of noble toil, Which you would snatch unripened from his hand, And feed to sour ambition. Touch it not— Oh, touch it not Tarhay! and though my heart Breaks for it, I am yours.
PROPHET. His anyway, Or I am not the Prophet!
TARHAY. For my part I have no leaning to this rash attempt, Since Iena consents to be my wife.
PROPHET. Shall I be thwarted by a yearning fool!
This soft, sleek girl, to outward seeming good, I know to be a very fiend beneath— Whose sly affections centre on herself, And feed the gliding snake within her heart.
TARHAY. I cannot think her so—
MAMATEE. She is not so! There is the snake that creeps among our race; Whose venomed fangs would bite into our lives, And poison all our hopes.
PROPHET. She is the head— The very neck of danger to me here, Which I must break at once! (aside) Tarhay—attend! I can see dreadful visions in the air; I can dream awful dreams of life and fate; I can bring darkness on the heavy earth; I can fetch shadows from our fathers' graves, And spectres from the sepulchres of hell Who dares dispute with me, disputes with death! Dost hear, Tarhay?
[TARHAY and braves cower before the PROPHET.]
TARHAY. I hear, and will obey. Spare me! Spare me!
PROPHET. As for this foolish girl, The hand she offers you on one condition, I give to you upon a better one;
And, since she has no mind to give her heart Which, rest assured, is in her body stity There,—take it at my hands!
Flings IENA violently toward TARHAY, into whose arms she falls fainting, and is then borne away by MAMATEE.
(To TARHAY.) Go bring the braves to view the Mystic Torch And belt of Sacred Beans grown from my flesh One touch of it makes them invulnerable Then creep, like stealthy panthers, on the foe!
SCENE SIXTH.—MORNING. THE FIELD OF TIPPECANOE AFTER THE BATTLE. THE GROUND STREWN WITH DEAD SOLDIERS AND WARRIORS.
Enter HARRISON, officers and soldiers and BARRON.
HARRISON. A costly triumph reckoned by our slain! Look how some lie still clenched with savages In all-embracing death, their bloody hands Glued in each other's hair! Make burial straight Of all alike in deep and common graves: Their quarrel now is ended.
1ST OFFICER. I have heard. The red man fears our steel—'twas not so here; From the first shots, which drove our pickets in, Till daylight dawned they rushed upon our lines, And flung themselves upon our bayonet points In frenzied recklessness of bravery.
BARRON. They trusted in the Prophet's rites and spells, Which promised them immunity from death. All night he sat on yon safe eminence, Howling his songs of war and mystery, Then fled, at dawn, in fear of his own braves.
[Enter an AIDE]
HARRISON. What tidings bring you from the Prophet's Town?
AIDE. The wretched women with their children fly To distant forests for concealment. In Their village is no living thing save mice Which scampered as we oped each cabin door. Their pots still simmered on the vacant hearths, Standing in dusty silence and desertion. Naught else we saw, save that their granaries Were crammed with needful corn.
HARRISON. Go bring it all— Then burn their village down!
2ND OFFICER. This victory Will shake Tecumseh's project to the base Were I the Prophet I should drown myself Rather than meet him.
BARRON. We have news of him— Our scouts report him near in heavy force.
HARRISON. 'Twill melt or draw across the British line, And wait for war. But double the night watch, Lest he should strike, and give an instant care To all our wounded men: to-morrow's sun Must light us on our backward march for home Thence Rumour's tongue will spread so proud a story New England will grow envious of our glory; And, greedy for renown so long abhorred, Will on old England draw the tardy sword!
SCENE SEVENTH.—THE RUINS OF THE PROPHET'S TOWN.
[Enter the PROPHET, who gloomily surveys the place.]
PROPHET. Our people scattered, and our town in ashes! To think these hands could work such madness here— This envious head devise this misery! Tecumseh, had not my ambition drawn Such sharp and fell destruction on our race You might have smiled at me! for I have matched My cunning 'gainst your wisdom, and have dragged Myself and all into a sea of ruin.
TECUMSEH. Devil! I have discovered you at last! You sum of treacheries, whose wolfish fangs Have torn our people's flesh—you shall not live!
[The PROPHET retreats facing and followed by TECUMSEH.]
PROPHET. Nay—strike me not! I can explain it all! It was a woman touched the Magic Bowl, And broke the brooding spell.
TECUMSEH. Impostor! Slave! Why should I spare you?
[Lifts his hand as if to strike.]
PROPHET. Stay, stay, touch me not! One mother bore us in the self-same hour.
TECUMSEH. Then good and evil came to light together. Go to the corn-dance, change your name to villain! Away! Your presence tempts my soul to mischief.
[Exit the PROPHET hastily.]
Would that I were a woman, and could weep, And slake hot rage with tears! O spiteful fortune, To lure me to the limit of my dreams, Then turn and crowd the ruin of my toil Into the narrow compass of a night. My brother's deep disgrace—myself the scorn Of envious harriers and thieves of fame, Who fain would rob me of the lawful meed Of faithful services and duties done— Oh, I could bear it all! But to behold Our ruined people hunted to their graves— To see the Long-Knife triumph in their shame— This is the burning shaft, the poisoned wound That rankles in my soul! But, why despair? All is not lost—the English are our friends. My spirit rises—manhood bear me up! I'll haste to Malden, join my force to theirs, And fall with double fury on our foes. Farewell ye plains and forests, but rejoice! Ye yet shall echo to Tecumseh's voice.
LEFROY. What tidings have you gleaned of Iena?
TECUMSEH. My brother meant to wed her to Tarhay— The chief who led his warriors to ruin; But, in the gloom and tumult of the night, She fled into the forest all alone.
LEFROY. Alone! In the wide forest all alone! Angels are with her now, for she is dead.
TECUMSEH. You know her to be skilful with the bow. 'Tis certain she would strike for some great Lake— Erie or Michigan. At the Detroit Are people of our nation, and perchance She fled for shelter there. I go at once To join the British force.
LEFROY. But yesterday I climbed to Heaven upon the shining stairs Of love and hope, and here am quite cast down. My little flower amidst a weedy world, Where art thou now? In deepest forest shade? Or onward, where the sumach stands arrayed In Autumn splendour, its alluring form Fruited, yet odious with the hidden worm? Or, farther, by some still sequestered lake, Loon-haunted, where the sinewy panthers slake Their noon-day thirst, and never voice is heard Joyous of singing waters, breeze or bird, Save their wild waitings.—(A halloo without) 'Tis Tecumseh calls! Oh Iena! If dead, where'er thou art— Thy saddest grave will be this ruined heart! [Exit.]
END OF THIRD ACT.
War is declared, unnatural and wild, By Revolution's calculating sons! So leave the home of mercenary minds, And wing with me, in your uplifted thoughts, Away to our unyielding Canada! There to behold the Genius of the Land, Beneath her singing pine and sugared tree, Companioned with the lion, Loyalty.
SCENE FIRST.—A ROOM IN FORT GEORGE.
[Enter GENERAL BROCK reading a despatch from Montreal.]
BROCK. Prudent and politic Sir George Prevost! Hull's threatened ravage of our western coast, Hath more breviloquence than your despatch. Storms are not stilled by reasoning with air, Nor fires quenched by a syrup of sweet words. So to the wars, Diplomacy, for now Our trust is in our arms and arguments Delivered only from the cannon's mouth!
[Enter an ORDERLY. ]
ORDERLY. Your Exc'llency?
BROCK. Bid Colonel Proctor come!
Now might the head of gray Experience Shake o'er the problems that surround us here. I am no stranger to the brunt of war, But all the odds so lean against our side That valour's self might tremble for the issue, Could England stretch its full, assisting hand Then might I smile though velvet-footed time Struck all his claws at once into our flesh; But England, noble England, fights for life, Couching the knightly lance for liberty 'Gainst a new dragon that affrights the world. And, now, how many noisome elements Would plant their greed athwart this country's good! How many demagogues bewray its cause! How many aliens urge it to surrender! Our present good must match their present ill, And, on our frontiers, boldest deeds in war, Dismay the foe, and strip the loins of faction.
[Enter COLONEL PROCTOR. ]
Time waits not our conveniency; I trust Your preparations have no further needs.
PROCTOR. All is in readiness, and I can leave For Amherstburg at once.
BROCK. Then tarry not, For time is precious to us now as powder. You understand my wishes and commands?
PROCTOR. I know them and shall match them with obedience.
BROCK. Rest not within the limit of instructions If you can better them, for they should bind The feeble only; able men enlarge And shape them to their needs. Much must be done That lies in your discretion. At Detroit Hull vaunts his strength, and meditates invasion, And loyalty, unarmed, defenceless, bare, May let this boaster light upon our shores Without one manly motion of resistance. So whilst I open Parliament at York, Close it again, and knit our volunteers, Be yours the task to head invasion off. Act boldly, but discreetly, and so draw Our interest to the balance, that affairs May hang in something like an even scale, Till I can join you with a fitting force, And batter this old Hull until he sinks. So fare-you-well—success attend your mission!
PROCTOR. Farewell, sir! I shall do my best in this, And put my judgment to a prudent use In furtherance of all.
BROCK. Prudent he will be—'tis a vice in him. For in the qualities of every mind There's one o'ergrows, and prudence in this man Tops all the rest. 'Twill suit our present needs. But, boldness, go with me! for, if I know My nature well, I shall do something soon Whose consequence will make the nation cheer, Or hiss me to my grave.
[Re-enter ORDERLY. ]
ORDERLY. Your Exc'llency, Some settlers wait without.
BROCK. Whence do they come?
[Enter COLONEL MACDONELL.]
ORDERLY. From the raw clearings up Lake Erie, Sir.
BROCK. Go bring them here at once. [Exit ORDERLY.] The very men Who meanly shirk their service to the crown! A breach of duty to be remedied, For disaffection like an ulcer spreads Until the caustic ointment of the law, Sternly applied, eats up and stays corruption.
[(Enter DEPUTATION OF YANKEE SETTLERS).]
Good morrow, worthy friends; I trust you bear Good hopes in loyal hearts for Canada.
1ST SETTLER. That kind o' crop's a failure in our county. Gen'ral, we came to talk about this war With the United States. It ain't quite fair To call out settlers from the other side.
BROCK. From it yet on it too! Why came you thence? Is land so scarce in the United States? Are there no empty townships, wilds or wastes In all their borders but you must encroach On ours? And, being here, how dare you make Your dwelling-places harbours of sedition And furrow British soil with alien ploughs To feed our enemies? There is not scope, Not room enough in all this wilderness For men so base.
2ND SETTLER. Why, General, we thought You wanted settlers here.
BROCK. Settlers indeed But with the soldier's courage to defend The land of their adoption. This attack On Canada is foul and unprovoked; The hearts are vile, the hands are traitorous That will not help to hurl invasion back. Beware the lariat of the law! 'Tis thrown With aim so true in Canada it brings Sedition to the ground at every cast.
1ST SETTLER. Well, General, we're not your British sort, But if we were we know that Canada Is naught compared with the United States. We have no faith in her, but much in them.
BROCK. You have no faith! Then take a creed from me! For I believe in Britain's Empire, and In Canada, its true and loyal son, Who yet shall rise to greatness, and shall stand At England's shoulder helping her to guard True liberty throughout a faithless world. Here is a creed for arsenals and camps, For hearts and heads that seek their country's good; So, go at once, and meditate on it! I have no time to parley with you now— But think on this as well! that traitors, spies, And aliens who refuse to take up arms, Forfeit their holdings, and must leave this land, Or dangle nearer Heaven than they wish. So to your homes, and ponder your condition.
[Exeunt Settlers ruefully.]
This foreign element will hamper us. Its alien spirit ever longs for change, And union with the States.
MACDONELL. O fear it not, Nor magnify the girth of noisy men! Their name is faction, and their numbers few. While everywhere encompassing them stands The silent element that doth not change; That points with steady finger to the Crown— True as the needle to the viewless pole, And stable as its star!
BROCK. I know it well, And trust to it alone for earnestness, Accordant counsels, loyalty and faith. But give me these—and let the Yankees come! With our poor handful of inhabitants, We can defend our forest wilderness, And spurn the bold invader from our shores.
ORDERLY. Your boat is ready, sir!
BROCK. Man it at once—I shall forthwith to York.
SCENE SECOND.—YORK THE CAPITAL OF UPPER CANADA. THE SPACE IN FRONT OF OLD GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
[Enter two U. E. LOYALISTS, separately.]
1ST U.E. LOYALIST. Well met, my friend! A stirrer like myself.
2ND U. E. LOYALIST. Yes, affairs make me so. Such stirring times Since Brock returned and opened Parliament! Read you his speech?
1ST U. E. LOYALIST. That from the Throne?
2ND U.E. LOYALIST. Ay, that!
1ST U.E. LOYALIST. You need not ask, since 'tis on every tongue, Unstaled by repetition. I affirm Words never showered upon more fruitful soil To nourish valour's growth.
2ND U. E. LOYALIST. That final phrase— Oh it struck home: a sentence to be framed And hung in every honourable heart For daily meditation.
"We are engaged in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and dispatch in our councils, and by vigour in our operations, we may teach the enemy this lesson, that a country defended by free men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their king and constitution, can never be conquered."
1ST U. E. LOYALIST. That reaches far; a text to fortify Imperial doctrine and Canadian rights. Sedition skulks, and feels its blood a-cold, Since first it fell upon the public ear.
2ND U. E. LOYALIST. There is a magic in this soldier's tongue. O language is a common instrument; But when a master touches it—what sounds!
1ST U. E. LOYALIST. What sounds indeed! But Brock can use his sword Still better than his tongue. Our state affairs, Conned and digested by his eager mind Draw into form, and even now his voice Cries, Forward! To the Front!
2ND U. E. LOYALIST. Look—here he comes!
1ST U.E. LOYALIST. There's matter in the wind; let's draw a-near.
[Enter GENERAL BROCK, accompanied by MACDONELL, NICHOL, ROBINSON and other Canadian Officers and friends conversing.]
BROCK. 'Tis true our Province faces heavy odds: Of regulars but fifteen hundred men To guard a frontier of a thousand miles; Of volunteers what aidance we can draw From seventy thousand widely scattered souls. A meagre showing 'gainst the enemy's If numbers be the test. But odds lie not In numbers only, but in spirit too— Witness the might of England's little isle! And what made England great will keep her so— The free soul and the valour of her sons; And what exalts her will sustain you now If you contain her courage and her faith. So not the odds so much are to be feared As private disaffection, treachery— Those openers of the door to enemies— And the poor crouching spirit that gives way Ere it is forced to yield.