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

By Thomas Hardy

AN EPIC-DRAMA OF THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON,

IN THREE PARTS, NINETEEN ACTS, AND

ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SCENES

The Time covered by the Action being about ten Years



"And I heard sounds of insult, shame, and wrong, And trumpets blown for wars."



PREFACE

The Spectacle here presented in the likeness of a Drama is concerned with the Great Historical Calamity, or Clash of Peoples, artificially brought about some hundred years ago.

The choice of such a subject was mainly due to three accidents of locality. It chanced that the writer was familiar with a part of England that lay within hail of the watering-place in which King George the Third had his favourite summer residence during the war with the first Napoleon, and where he was visited by ministers and others who bore the weight of English affairs on their more or less competent shoulders at that stressful time. Secondly, this district, being also near the coast which had echoed with rumours of invasion in their intensest form while the descent threatened, was formerly animated by memories and traditions of the desperate military preparations for that contingency. Thirdly, the same countryside happened to include the village which was the birthplace of Nelson's flag-captain at Trafalgar.

When, as the first published result of these accidents, The Trumpet Major was printed, more than twenty years ago, I found myself in the tantalizing position of having touched the fringe of a vast international tragedy without being able, through limits of plan, knowledge, and opportunity, to enter further into its events; a restriction that prevailed for many years. But the slight regard paid to English influence and action throughout the struggle by those Continental writers who had dealt imaginatively with Napoleon's career, seemed always to leave room for a new handling of the theme which should re-embody the features of this influence in their true proportion; and accordingly, on a belated day about six years back, the following drama was outlined, to be taken up now and then at wide intervals ever since.

It may, I think, claim at least a tolerable fidelity to the facts of its date as they are give in ordinary records. Whenever any evidence of the words really spoken or written by the characters in their various situations was attainable, as close a paraphrase has been aimed at as was compatible with the form chosen. And in all cases outside the oral tradition, accessible scenery, and existing relics, my indebtedness for detail to the abundant pages of the historian, the biographer, and the journalist, English and Foreign, has been, of course, continuous.

It was thought proper to introduce, as supernatural spectators of the terrestrial action, certain impersonated abstractions, or Intelligences, called Spirits. They are intended to be taken by the reader for what they may be worth as contrivances of the fancy merely. Their doctrines are but tentative, and are advanced with little eye to a systematized philosophy warranted to lift "the burthen of the mystery" of this unintelligible world. The chief thing hoped for them is that they and their utterances may have dramatic plausibility enough to procure for them, in the words of Coleridge, "that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith." The wide prevalence of the Monistic theory of the Universe forbade, in this twentieth century, the importation of Divine personages from any antique Mythology as ready-made sources or channels of Causation, even in verse, and excluded the celestial machinery of, say, Paradise Lost, as peremptorily as that of the Iliad or the Eddas. And the abandonment of the masculine pronoun in allusions to the First or Fundamental Energy seemed a necessary and logical consequence of the long abandonment by thinkers of the anthropomorphic conception of the same.

These phantasmal Intelligences are divided into groups, of which one only, that of the Pities, approximates to "the Universal Sympathy of human nature—the spectator idealized"[1] of the Greek Chorus; it is impressionable and inconsistent in its views, which sway hither and thither as wrought on by events. Another group approximates to the passionless Insight of the Ages. The remainder are eclectically chosen auxiliaries whose signification may be readily discerned. In point of literary form, the scheme of contrasted Choruses and other conventions of this external feature was shaped with a single view to the modern expression of a modern outlook, and in frank divergence from classical and other dramatic precedent which ruled the ancient voicings of ancient themes.

It may hardly be necessary to inform readers that in devising this chronicle-piece no attempt has been made to create that completely organic structure of action, and closely-webbed development of character and motive, which are demanded in a drama strictly self- contained. A panoramic show like the present is a series of historical "ordinates" [to use a term in geometry]: the subject is familiar to all; and foreknowledge is assumed to fill in the junctions required to combine the scenes into an artistic unity. Should the mental spectator be unwilling or unable to do this, a historical presentment on an intermittent plan, in which the dramatis personae number some hundreds, exclusive of crowds and armies, becomes in his individual case unsuitable.

In this assumption of a completion of the action by those to whom the drama is addressed, it is interesting, if unnecessary, to name an exemplar as old as Aeschylus, whose plays are, as Dr. Verrall reminds us,[2] scenes from stories taken as known, and would be unintelligible without supplementary scenes of the imagination.

Readers will readily discern, too, that The Dynasts is intended simply for mental performance, and not for the stage. Some critics have averred that to declare a drama[3] as being not for the stage is to make an announcement whose subject and predicate cancel each other. The question seems to be an unimportant matter of terminology. Compositions cast in this shape were, without doubt, originally written for the stage only, and as a consequence their nomenclature of "Act," "Scene," and the like, was drawn directly from the vehicle of representation. But in the course of time such a shape would reveal itself to be an eminently readable one; moreover, by dispensing with the theatre altogether, a freedom of treatment was attainable in this form that was denied where the material possibilities of stagery had to be rigorously remembered. With the careless mechanicism of human speech, the technicalities of practical mumming were retained in these productions when they had ceased to be concerned with the stage at all.

To say, then, in the present case, that a writing in play-shape is not to be played, is merely another way of stating that such writing has been done in a form for which there chances to be no brief definition save one already in use for works that it superficially but not entirely resembles.

Whether mental performance alone may not eventually be the fate of all drama other than that of contemporary or frivolous life, is a kindred question not without interest. The mind naturally flies to the triumphs of the Hellenic and Elizabethan theatre in exhibiting scenes laid "far in the Unapparent," and asks why they should not be repeated. But the meditative world is older, more invidious, more nervous, more quizzical, than it once was, and being unhappily perplexed by—

Riddles of Death Thebes never knew,

may be less ready and less able than Hellas and old England were to look through the insistent, and often grotesque, substance at the thing signified.

In respect of such plays of poesy and dream a practicable compromise may conceivably result, taking the shape of a monotonic delivery of speeches, with dreamy conventional gestures, something in the manner traditionally maintained by the old Christmas mummers, the curiously hypnotizing impressiveness of whose automatic style—that of persons who spoke by no will of their own—may be remembered by all who ever experienced it. Gauzes or screens to blur outlines might still further shut off the actual, as has, indeed, already been done in exceptional cases. But with this branch of the subject we are not concerned here.

T.H.

September 1903.



CONTENTS.



THE DYNASTS: AN EPIC-DRAMA OF THE WAR WITH NAPOLEON



Preface

PART FIRST

Characters

Fore Scene. The Overworld

Act First:—

Scene I. England. A Ridge in Wessex " II. Paris. Office of the Minister of Marine " III. London. The Old House of Commons " IV. The Harbour of Boulogne " V. London. The House of a Lady of Quality " IV. Milan. The Cathedral

Act Second:—

Scene I. The Dockyard, Gibraltar " II. Off Ferrol " III. The Camp and Harbour of Boulogne " IV. South Wessex. A Ridge-like Down near the Coast " V. The Same. Rainbarrows' Beacon, Egdon Heath

Act Third:—

Scene I. The Chateau at Pont-de-Briques " II. The Frontiers of Upper Austria and Bavaria " III. Boulogne. The St. Omer Road

Act Fourth:—

Scene I. King George's Watering-place, South Wessex " II. Before the City of Ulm " III. Ulm. Within the City " IV. Before Ulm. The Same Day " V. The Same. The Michaelsberg " VI. London. Spring Gardens

Act Fifth:—

Scene I. Off Cape Trafalgar " II. The Same. The Quarter-deck of the "Victory" " III. The Same. On Board the "Bucentaure" " IV. The Same. The Cockpit of the "Victory" " V. London. The Guildhall " VI. An Inn at Rennes " VII. King George's Watering-place, South Wessex

Act Sixth:—

Scene I. The Field of Austerlitz. The French Position " II. The Same. The Russian Position " III. The Same. The French Position " IV. The Same. The Russian Position " V. The Same. Near the Windmill of Paleny " VI. Shockerwick House, near Bath " VII. Paris. A Street leading to the Tuileries " VIII. Putney. Bowling Green House



PART SECOND

Characters

Act First:—

Scene I. London. Fox's Lodgings, Arlington Street " II. The Route between London and Paris " III. The Streets of Berlin " IV. The Field of Jena " V. Berlin. A Room overlooking a Public Place " VI. The Same " VII. Tilsit and the River Niemen " VIII. The Same

Act Second:—

Scene I. The Pyrenees and Valleys adjoining " II. Aranjuez, near Madrid. A Room in the Palace of Godoy, the "Prince of Peace" " III. London. The Marchioness of Salisbury's " IV. Madrid and its Environs " V. The Open Sea between the English Coasts and the Spanish Peninsula " VI. St. Cloud. The Boudoir of Josephine " VII. Vimiero

Act Third:—

Scene I. Spain. A Road near Astorga " II. The Same " III. Before Coruna " IV. Coruna. Near the Ramparts " V. Vienna. A Cafe in the Stephans-Platz

Act Fourth:—

Scene I. A Road out of Vienna " II. The Island of Lobau, with Wagram beyond " III. The Field of Wagram " IV. The Field of Talavera " V. The Same " VI. Brighton. The Royal Pavilion " VII. The Same " VIII. Walcheren

Act Fifth:—

Scene I. Paris. A Ballroom in the House of Cambaceres " II. Paris. The Tuileries " III. Vienna. A Private Apartment in the Imperial Palace " IV. London. A Club in St. James's Street " V. The old West Highway out of Vienna " VI. Courcelles " VII. Petersburg. The Palace of the Empress-Mother " VIII. Paris. The Grand Gallery of the Louvre and the Salon-Carre adjoining

Act Fifth:—

Scene I. The Lines of Torres Vedras " II. The Same. Outside the Lines " III. Paris. The Tuileries " IV. Spain. Albuera " V. Windsor Castle. A Room in the King's Apartments " VI. London. Carlton House and the Streets adjoining " VII. The Same. The Interior of Carlton House



PART THIRD

Characters

Act First:—

Scene I. The Banks of the Niemen, near Kowno " II. The Ford of Santa Marta, Salamanca " III. The Field of Salamanca " IV. The Field of Borodino " V. The Same " VI. Moscow " VII. The Same. Outside the City " VIII. The Same. The Interior of the Kremlin " IX. The Road from Smolensko into Lithuania " X. The Bridge of the Beresina " XI. The Open Country between Smorgoni and Wilna " XII. Paris. The Tuileries

Act Second:—

Scene I. The Plain of Vitoria " II. The Same, from the Puebla Heights " III. The Same. The Road from the Town " IV. A Fete at Vauxhall Gardens

Act Third:—

Scene I. Leipzig. Napoleon's Quarters in the Reudnitz Suburb " II. The Same. The City and the Battlefield " III. The Same, from the Tower of the Pleissenburg " IV. The Same. At the Thonberg Windmill " V. The Same. A Street near the Ranstadt Gate " VI. The Pyrenees. Near the River Nivelle

Act Fourth:—

Scene I. The Upper Rhine " II. Paris. The Tuileries " III. The Same. The Apartments of the Empress " IV. Fontainebleau. A Room in the Palace " V. Bayonne. The British Camp " VI. A Highway in the Outskirts of Avignon " VII. Malmaison. The Empress Josephine's Bedchamber " VIII. London. The Opera-House

Act Fifth:—

Scene I. Elba. The Quay, Porto Ferrajo " II. Vienna. The Imperial Palace " III. La Mure, near Grenoble " IV. Schonbrunn " V. London. The Old House of Commons " VI. Wessex. Durnover Green, Casterbridge

Act Sixth:—

Scene I. The Belgian Frontier " II. A Ballroom in Brussels " III. Charleroi. Napoleon's Quarters " IV. A Chamber overlooking a Main Street in Brussels " V. The Field of Ligny " VI. The Field of Quatre-Bras " VII. Brussels. The Place Royale " VIII. The Road to Waterloo

Act Seventh:—

Scene I. The Field of Waterloo " II. The Same. The French Position " III. Saint Lambert's Chapel Hill " IV. The Field of Waterloo. The English Position " V. The Same. The Women's Camp near Mont Saint-Jean " VI. The Same. The French Position " VII. The Same. The English Position " VIII. The Same. Later " IX. The Wood of Bossu

After Scene. The Overworld



PART FIRST



CHARACTERS

I. PHANTOM INTELLIGENCES

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

THE SPIRIT OF THE PITIES/CHORUS OF THE PITIES.

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

THE SPIRIT OF RUMOUR/CHORUS OF RUMOURS.

THE SHADE OF THE EARTH.

SPIRIT-MESSENGERS.

RECORDING ANGELS.

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

MEN

GEORGE THE THIRD. The Duke of Cumberland PITT. FOX. SHERIDAN. WINDHAM. WHITBREAD. TIERNEY. BATHURST AND FULLER. Lord Chancellor Eldon. EARL OF MALMESBURY. LORD MULGRAVE. ANOTHER CABINET MINISTER. Lord Grenville. Viscount Castlereagh. Viscount Sidmouth. ANOTHER NOBLE LORD. ROSE. Canning. Perceval. Grey. Speaker Abbot. TOMLINE, BISHOP OF LINCOLN. SIR WALTER FARQUHAR. Count Munster. Other Peers, Ministers, ex-Ministers, Members of Parliament, and Persons of Quality.

..........

NELSON. COLLINGWOOD. HARDY. SECRETARY SCOTT. DR. BEATTY. DR. MAGRATH. DR. ALEXANDER SCOTT. BURKE, PURSER. Lieutenant Pasco. ANOTHER LIEUTENANT. POLLARD, A MIDSHIPMAN. Captain Adair. Lieutenants Ram and Whipple. Other English Naval Officers. Sergeant-Major Secker and Marines. Staff and other Officers of the English Army. A COMPANY OF SOLDIERS. Regiments of the English Army and Hanoverian. SAILORS AND BOATMEN. A MILITIAMAN. Naval Crews.

..........

The Lord Mayor and Corporation of London. A GENTLEMAN OF FASHION. WILTSHIRE, A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN A HORSEMAN. TWO BEACON-WATCHERS. ENGLISH CITIZENS AND BURGESSES. COACH AND OTHER HIGHWAY PASSENGERS. MESSENGERS, SERVANTS, AND RUSTICS.

..........

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. DARU, NAPOLEON'S WAR SECRETARY. LAURISTON, AIDE-DE-CAMP. MONGE, A PHILOSOPHER. BERTHIER. MURAT, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF NAPOLEON. SOULT. NEY. LANNES. Bernadotte. Marmont. Dupont. Oudinot. Davout. Vandamme. Other French Marshals. A SUB-OFFICER.

..........

VILLENEUVE, NAPOLEON'S ADMIRAL. DECRES, MINISTER OF MARINE. FLAG-CAPTAIN MAGENDIE. LIEUTENANT DAUDIGNON. LIEUTENANT FOURNIER. Captain Lucas. OTHER FRENCH NAVAL OFFICERS AND PETTY OFFICERS. Seamen of the French and Spanish Navies. Regiments of the French Army. COURIERS. HERALDS. Aides, Officials, Pages, etc. ATTENDANTS. French Citizens.

..........

CARDINAL CAPRARA. Priests, Acolytes, and Choristers. Italian Doctors and Presidents of Institutions. Milanese Citizens.

..........

THE EMPEROR FRANCIS. THE ARCHDUKE FERDINAND. Prince John of Lichtenstien. PRINCE SCHWARZENBERG. MACK, AUSTRIAN GENERAL. JELLACHICH. RIESC. WEIROTHER. ANOTHER AUSTRIAN GENERAL. TWO AUSTRIAN OFFICERS.

..........

The Emperor Alexander. PRINCE KUTUZOF, RUSSIAN FIELD-MARSHAL. COUNT LANGERON. COUNT BUXHOVDEN. COUNT MILORADOVICH. DOKHTOROF.

..........

Giulay, Gottesheim, Klenau, and Prschebiszewsky. Regiments of the Austrian Army. Regiments of the Russian Army.

WOMEN

Queen Charlotte. English Princesses. Ladies of the English Court. LADY HESTER STANHOPE. A LADY. Lady Caroline Lamb, Mrs. Damer, and other English Ladies.

..........

THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE. Princesses and Ladies of Josephine's Court. Seven Milanese Young Ladies.

..........

City- and Towns-women. Country-women. A MILITIAMAN'S WIFE. A STREET-WOMAN. Ship-women. Servants.



FORE SCENE

THE OVERWORLD

[Enter the Ancient Spirit and Chorus of the Years, the Spirit and Chorus of the Pities, the Shade of the Earth, the Spirits Sinister and Ironic with their Choruses, Rumours, Spirit- Messengers, and Recording Angels.]

SHADE OF THE EARTH

What of the Immanent Will and Its designs?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

It works unconsciously, as heretofore, Eternal artistries in Circumstance, Whose patterns, wrought by rapt aesthetic rote, Seem in themselves Its single listless aim, And not their consequence.

CHORUS OF THE PITIES [aerial music]

Still thus? Still thus? Ever unconscious! An automatic sense Unweeting why or whence? Be, then, the inevitable, as of old, Although that SO it be we dare not hold!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Hold what ye list, fond believing Sprites, You cannot swerve the pulsion of the Byss, Which thinking on, yet weighing not Its thought, Unchecks Its clock-like laws.

SPIRIT SINISTER [aside]

Good, as before. My little engines, then, will still have play.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Why doth It so and so, and ever so, This viewless, voiceless Turner of the Wheel?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

As one sad story runs, It lends Its heed To other worlds, being wearied out with this; Wherefore Its mindlessness of earthly woes. Some, too, have told at whiles that rightfully Its warefulness, Its care, this planet lost When in her early growth and crudity By bad mad acts of severance men contrived, Working such nescience by their own device.— Yea, so it stands in certain chronicles, Though not in mine.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Meet is it, none the less, To bear in thought that though Its consciousness May be estranged, engrossed afar, or sealed, Sublunar shocks may wake Its watch anon?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay. In the Foretime, even to the germ of Being, Nothing appears of shape to indicate That cognizance has marshalled things terrene, Or will [such is my thinking] in my span. Rather they show that, like a knitter drowsed, Whose fingers play in skilled unmindfulness, The Will has woven with an absent heed Since life first was; and ever will so weave.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Hence we've rare dramas going—more so since It wove Its web in the Ajaccian womb!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Well, no more this on what no mind can mete. Our scope is but to register and watch By means of this great gift accorded us— The free trajection of our entities.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

On things terrene, then, I would say that though The human news wherewith the Rumours stirred us May please thy temper, Years, 'twere better far Such deeds were nulled, and this strange man's career Wound up, as making inharmonious jars In her creation whose meek wraith we know. The more that he, turned man of mere traditions, Now profits naught. For the large potencies Instilled into his idiosyncrasy— To throne fair Liberty in Privilege' room— Are taking taint, and sink to common plots For his own gain.

SHADE OF THE EARTH

And who, then, Cordial One, Wouldst substitute for this Intractable?

CHORUS OF THE EARTH

We would establish those of kindlier build, In fair Compassions skilled, Men of deep art in life-development; Watchers and warders of thy varied lands, Men surfeited of laying heavy hands, Upon the innocent, The mild, the fragile, the obscure content Among the myriads of thy family. Those, too, who love the true, the excellent, And make their daily moves a melody.

SHADE OF THE EARTH

They may come, will they. I am not averse. Yet know I am but the ineffectual Shade Of her the Travailler, herself a thrall To It; in all her labourings curbed and kinged!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Shall such be mooted now? Already change Hath played strange pranks since first I brooded here. But old Laws operate yet; and phase and phase Of men's dynastic and imperial moils Shape on accustomed lines. Though, as for me, I care not thy shape, or what they be.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

You seem to have small sense of mercy, Sire?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Mercy I view, not urge;—nor more than mark What designate your titles Good and Ill. 'Tis not in me to feel with, or against, These flesh-hinged mannikins Its hand upwinds To click-clack off Its preadjusted laws; But only through my centuries to behold Their aspects, and their movements, and their mould.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

They are shapes that bleed, mere mannikins or no, And each has parcel in the total Will.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Which overrides them as a whole its parts In other entities.

SPIRIT SINISTER [aside]

Limbs of Itself: Each one a jot of It in quaint disguise? I'll fear all men henceforward!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Go to. Let this terrestrial tragedy—

SPIRIT IRONIC

Nay, Comedy—

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Let this earth-tragedy Whereof we spake, afford a spectacle Forthwith conned closelier than your custom is.—

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

How does it stand? [To a Recording Angel] Open and chant the page Thou'st lately writ, that sums these happenings, In brief reminder of their instant points Slighted by us amid our converse here.

RECORDING ANGEL [from a book, in recitative]

Now mellow-eyed Peace is made captive, And Vengeance is chartered To deal forth its dooms on the Peoples With sword and with spear.

Men's musings are busy with forecasts Of muster and battle, And visions of shock and disaster Rise red on the year.

The easternmost ruler sits wistful, And tense he to midward; The King to the west mans his borders In front and in rear.

While one they eye, flushed from his crowning, Ranks legions around him To shake the enisled neighbour nation And close her career!

SEMICHORUS I OF RUMOURS [aerial music]

O woven-winged squadrons of Toulon And fellows of Rochefort, Wait, wait for a wind, and draw westward Ere Nelson be near!

For he reads not your force, or your freightage Of warriors fell-handed, Or when they will join for the onset, Or whither they steer!

SEMICHORUS II

O Nelson, so zealous a watcher Through months-long of cruizing, Thy foes may elide thee a moment, Put forth, and get clear;

And rendezvous westerly straightway With Spain's aiding navies, And hasten to head violation Of Albion's frontier!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Methinks too much assurance thrills your note On secrets in my locker, gentle sprites; But it may serve.—Our thought being now reflexed To forces operant on this English isle, Behoves it us to enter scene by scene, And watch the spectacle of Europe's moves In her embroil, as they were self-ordained According to the naive and liberal creed Of our great-hearted young Compassionates, Forgetting the Prime Mover of the gear, As puppet-watchers him who pulls the strings.— You'll mark the twitchings of this Bonaparte As he with other figures foots his reel, Until he twitch him into his lonely grave: Also regard the frail ones that his flings Have made gyrate like animalcula In tepid pools.—Hence to the precinct, then, And count as framework to the stagery Yon architraves of sunbeam-smitten cloud.— So may ye judge Earth's jackaclocks to be No fugled by one Will, but function-free.

[The nether sky opens, and Europe is disclosed as a prone and emaciated figure, the Alps shaping like a backbone, and the branching mountain-chains like ribs, the peninsular plateau of Spain forming a head. Broad and lengthy lowlands stretch from the north of France across Russia like a grey-green garment hemmed by the Ural mountains and the glistening Arctic Ocean.

The point of view then sinks downwards through space, and draws near to the surface of the perturbed countries, where the peoples, distressed by events which they did not cause, are seen writhing, crawling, heaving, and vibrating in their various cities and nationalities.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS [to the Spirit of the Pities]

As key-scene to the whole, I first lay bare The Will-webs of thy fearful questioning; For know that of my antique privileges This gift to visualize the Mode is one [Though by exhaustive strain and effort only]. See, then, and learn, ere my power pass again.

[A new and penetrating light descends on the spectacle, enduring men and things with a seeming transparency, and exhibiting as one organism the anatomy of life and movement in all humanity and vitalized matter included in the display.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Amid this scene of bodies substantive Strange waves I sight like winds grown visible, Which bear men's forms on their innumerous coils, Twining and serpenting round and through. Also retracting threads like gossamers— Except in being irresistible— Which complicate with some, and balance all.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

These are the Prime Volitions,—fibrils, veins, Will-tissues, nerves, and pulses of the Cause, That heave throughout the Earth's compositure. Their sum is like the lobule of a Brain Evolving always that it wots not of; A Brain whose whole connotes the Everywhere, And whose procedure may but be discerned By phantom eyes like ours; the while unguessed Of those it stirs, who [even as ye do] dream Their motions free, their orderings supreme; Each life apart from each, with power to mete Its own day's measures; balanced, self complete; Though they subsist but atoms of the One Labouring through all, divisible from none; But this no further now. Deem yet man's deeds self-done.

GENERAL CHORUS OF INTELLIGENCES [aerial music]

We'll close up Time, as a bird its van, We'll traverse Space, as spirits can, Link pulses severed by leagues and years, Bring cradles into touch with biers; So that the far-off Consequence appear Prompt at the heel of foregone Cause.— The PRIME, that willed ere wareness was, Whose Brain perchance is Space, whose Thought its laws, Which we as threads and streams discern, We may but muse on, never learn.

END OF THE FORE SCENE



ACT FIRST

SCENE I

ENGLAND. A RIDGE IN WESSEX

[The time is a fine day in March 1805. A highway crosses the ridge, which is near the sea, and the south coast is seen bounding the landscape below, the open Channel extending beyond.]

SPIRITS OF THE YEARS

Hark now, and gather how the martial mood Stirs England's humblest hearts. Anon we'll trace Its heavings in the upper coteries there.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Ay; begin small, and so lead up to the greater. It is a sound dramatic principle. I always aim to follow it in my pestilences, fires, famines, and other comedies. And though, to be sure, I did not in my Lisbon earthquake, I did in my French Terror, and my St. Domingo burlesque.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

THY Lisbon earthquake, THY French Terror. Wait. Thinking thou will'st, thou dost but indicate.

[A stage-coach enters, with passengers outside. Their voices after the foregoing sound small and commonplace, as from another medium.]

FIRST PASSENGER

There seems to be a deal of traffic over Ridgeway, even at this time o' year.

SECOND PASSENGER

Yes. It is because the King and Court are coming down here later on. They wake up this part rarely!... See, now, how the Channel and coast open out like a chart. That patch of mist below us is the town we are bound for. There's the Isle of Slingers beyond, like a floating snail. That wide bay on the right is where the "Abergavenny," Captain John Wordsworth, was wrecked last month. One can see half across to France up here.

FIRST PASSENGER

Half across. And then another little half, and then all that's behind—the Corsican mischief!

SECOND PASSENGER

Yes. People who live hereabout—I am a native of these parts—feel the nearness of France more than they do inland.

FIRST PASSENGER

That's why we have seen so many of these marching regiments on the road. This year his grandest attempt upon us is to be made, I reckon.

SECOND PASSENGER

May we be ready!

FIRST PASSENGER

Well, we ought to be. We've had alarms enough, God knows.

[Some companies of infantry are seen ahead, and the coach presently overtakes them.]

SOLDIERS [singing as they walk]

We be the King's men, hale and hearty, Marching to meet one Buonaparty; If he won't sail, lest the wind should blow, We shall have marched for nothing, O! Right fol-lol!

We be the King's men, hale and hearty, Marching to meet one Buonaparty; If he be sea-sick, says "No, no!" We shall have marched for nothing, O! Right fol-lol!

[The soldiers draw aside, and the coach passes on.]

SECOND PASSENGER

Is there truth in it that Bonaparte wrote a letter to the King last month?

FIRST PASSENGER

Yes, sir. A letter in his own hand, in which he expected the King to reply to him in the same manner.

SOLDIERS [continuing, as they are left behind]

We be the King's men, hale and hearty, Marching to meet one Buonaparty; Never mind, mates; we'll be merry, though We may have marched for nothing, O! Right fol-lol!

THIRD PASSENGER

And was Boney's letter friendly?

FIRST PASSENGER

Certainly, sir. He requested peace with the King.

THIRD PASSENGER

And why shouldn't the King reply in the same manner?

FIRST PASSENGER

What! Encourage this man in an act of shameless presumption, and give him the pleasure of considering himself the equal of the King of England—whom he actually calls his brother!

THIRD PASSENGER

He must be taken for what he is, not for what he was; and if he calls King George his brother it doesn't speak badly for his friendliness.

FIRST PASSENGER

Whether or no, the King, rightly enough, did not reply in person, but through Lord Mulgrave our Foreign Minister, to the effect that his Britannic Majesty cannot give a specific answer till he has communicated with the Continental powers.

THIRD PASSENGER

Both the manner and the matter of the reply are British; but a huge mistake.

FIRST PASSENGER

Sir, am I to deem you a friend of Bonaparte, a traitor to your country—-

THIRD PASSENGER

Damn my wig, sir, if I'll be called a traitor by you or any Court sycophant at all at all!

[He unpacks a case of pistols.]

SECOND PASSENGER

Gentlemen forbear, forbear! Should such differences be suffered to arise on a spot where we may, in less than three months, be fighting for our very existence? This is foolish, I say. Heaven alone, who reads the secrets of this man's heart, can tell what his meaning and intent may be, and if his letter has been answered wisely or no.

[The coach is stopped to skid the wheel for the descent of the hill, and before it starts again a dusty horseman overtakes it.]

SEVERAL PASSENGERS

A London messenger! [To horseman] Any news, sir? We are from Bristol only.

HORSEMAN

Yes; much. We have declared war against Spain, an error giving vast delight to France. Bonaparte says he will date his next dispatches from London, and the landing of his army may be daily expected.

[Exit horseman.]

THIRD PASSENGER

Sir, I apologize. He's not to be trusted! War is his name, and aggression is with him!

[He repacks the pistols. A silence follows. The coach and passengers move downwards and disappear towards the coast.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Ill chanced it that the English monarch George Did not respond to the said Emperor!

SPIRIT SINISTER

I saw good sport therein, and paean'd the Will To unimpel so stultifying a move! Which would have marred the European broil, And sheathed all swords, and silenced every gun That riddles human flesh.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

O say no more; If aught could gratify the Absolute 'Twould verily be thy censure, not thy praise!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

The ruling was that we should witness things And not dispute them. To the drama, then. Emprizes over-Channel are the key To this land's stir and ferment.—Thither we.

[Clouds gather over the scene, and slowly open elsewhere.]



SCENE II

PARIS. OFFICE OF THE MINISTER OF MARINE

[ADMIRAL DECRES seated at a table. A knock without.]

DECRES

Come in! Good news, I hope!

[An attendant enters.]

ATTENDANT A courier, sir.

DECRES

Show him in straightway.

[The attendant goes out.]

From the Emperor As I expected!

COURIER

Sir, for your own hand And yours alone.

DECRES

Thanks. Be in waiting near.

[The courier withdraws.]

DECRES reads:

"I am resolved that no wild dream of Ind, And what we there might win; or of the West, And bold re-conquest there of Surinam And other Dutch retreats along those coasts, Or British islands nigh, shall draw me now From piercing into England through Boulogne As lined in my first plan. If I do strike, I strike effectively; to forge which feat There's but one way—planting a mortal wound In England's heart—the very English land— Whose insolent and cynical reply To my well-based complaint on breach of faith Concerning Malta, as at Amiens pledged, Has lighted up anew such flames of ire As may involve the world.—Now to the case: Our naval forces can be all assembled Without the foe's foreknowledge or surmise, By these rules following; to whose text I ask Your gravest application; and, when conned, That steadfastly you stand by word and word, Making no question of one jot therein.

"First, then, let Villeneuve wait a favouring wind For process westward swift to Martinique, Coaxing the English after. Join him there Gravina, Missiessy, and Ganteaume; Which junction once effected all our keels— While the pursuers linger in the West At hopeless fault.—Having hoodwinked them thus, Our boats skim over, disembark the army, And in the twinkling of a patriot's eye All London will be ours.

"In strictest secrecy carve this to shape— Let never an admiral or captain scent Save Villeneuve and Ganteaume; and pen each charge With your own quill. The surelier to outwit them I start for Italy; and there, as 'twere Engrossed in fetes and Coronation rites, Abide till, at the need, I reach Boulogne, And head the enterprize.—NAPOLEON."

[DECRES reflects, and turns to write.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

He buckles to the work. First to Villeneuve, His onetime companion and his boyhood's friend, Now lingering at Toulon, he jots swift lines, The duly to Ganteaume.—They are sealed forthwith, And superscribed: "Break not till on the main."

[Boisterous singing is heard in the street.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I hear confused and simmering sounds without, Like those which thrill the hives at evenfall When swarming pends.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

They but proclaim the crowd, Which sings and shouts its hot enthusiasms For this dead-ripe design on England's shore, Till the persuasion of its own plump words, Acting upon mercurial temperaments, Makes hope as prophecy. "Our Emperor Will show himself [say they] in this exploit Unwavering, keen, and irresistible As is the lightning prong. Our vast flotillas Have been embodied as by sorcery; Soldiers made seamen, and the ports transformed To rocking cities casemented with guns. Against these valiants balance England's means: Raw merchant-fellows from the counting-house, Raw labourers from the fields, who thumb for arms Clumsy untempered pikes forged hurriedly, And cry them full-equipt. Their batteries, Their flying carriages, their catamarans, Shall profit not, and in one summer night We'll find us there!"

RECORDING ANGEL

And is this prophecy true?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Occasion will reveal.

SHADE OF EARTH

What boots it, Sire, To down this dynasty, set that one up, Goad panting peoples to the throes thereof, Make wither here my fruit, maintain it there, And hold me travailling through fineless years In vain and objectless monotony, When all such tedious conjuring could be shunned By uncreation? Howsoever wise The governance of these massed mortalities, A juster wisdom his who should have ruled They had not been.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay, something hidden urged The giving matter motion; and these coils Are, maybe, good as any.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

But why any?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Sprite of Compassions, ask the Immanent! I am but an accessory of Its works, Whom the Ages render conscious; and at most Figure as bounden witness of Its laws.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

How ask the aim of unrelaxing Will? Tranced in Its purpose to unknowingness? [If thy words, Ancient Phantom, token true.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Thou answerest well. But cease to ask of me. Meanwhile the mime proceeds.—We turn herefrom, Change our homuncules, and observe forthwith How the High Influence sways the English realm, And how the jacks lip out their reasonings there.

[The Cloud-curtain draws.]



SCENE III

LONDON. THE OLD HOUSE OF COMMONS

[A long chamber with a gallery on each side supported by thin columns having gilt Ionic capitals. Three round-headed windows are at the further end, above the Speaker's chair, which is backed by a huge pedimented structure in white and gilt, surmounted by the lion and the unicorn. The windows are uncurtained, one being open, through which some boughs are seen waving in the midnight gloom without. Wax candles, burnt low, wave and gutter in a brass chandelier which hangs from the middle of the ceiling, and in branches projecting from the galleries.

The House is sitting, the benches, which extend round to the Speaker's elbows, being closely packed, and the galleries likewise full. Among the members present on the Government side are PITT and other ministers with their supporters, including CANNING, CASTLEREAGH, LORD C. SOMERSET, ERSKINE, W. DUNDAS, HUSKISSON, ROSE, BEST, ELLIOT, DALLAS, and the general body of the party. On the opposite side are noticeable FOX, SHERIDAN, WINDHAM, WHITBREAD, GREY, T. GRENVILLE, TIERNEY, EARL TEMPLE, PONSONBY, G. AND H. WALPOLE, DUDLEY NORTH, and TIMOTHY SHELLEY. Speaker ABBOT occupies the Chair.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

As prelude to the scene, as means to aid Our younger comrades in its construing, Pray spread your scripture, and rehearse in brief The reasonings here of late—to whose effects Words of to-night form sequence.

[The Recording Angels chant from their books, antiphonally, in a minor recitative.]

ANGEL I [aerial music]

Feeble-framed dull unresolve, unresourcefulness, Sat in the halls of the Kingdom's high Councillors, Whence the grey glooms of a ghost-eyed despondency Wanned as with winter the national mind.

ANGEL II

England stands forth to the sword of Napoleon Nakedly—not an ally in support of her; Men and munitions dispersed inexpediently; Projects of range and scope poorly defined.

ANGEL I

Once more doth Pitt deem the land crying loud to him.— Frail though and spent, and an-hungered for restfulness Once more responds he, dead fervours to energize, Aims to concentre, slack efforts to bind.

ANGEL II

Ere the first fruit thereof grow audible, Holding as hapless his dream of good guardianship, Jestingly, earnestly, shouting it serviceless, Tardy, inept, and uncouthly designed.

ANGELS I AND II

So now, to-night, in slashing old sentences, Hear them speak,—gravely these, those with gay-heartedness,— Midst their admonishments little conceiving how Scarlet the scroll that the years will unwind!

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES [to the Spirit of the Years]

Let us put on and suffer for the nonce The feverish fleshings of Humanity, And join the pale debaters here convened. So may thy soul be won to sympathy By donning their poor mould.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

I'll humour thee, Though my unpassioned essence could not change Did I incarn in moulds of all mankind!

SPIRIT IRONIC

'Tis enough to make every little dog in England run to mixen to hear this Pitt sung so strenuously! I'll be the third of the incarnate, on the chance of hearing the tune played the other way.

SPIRIT SINISTER

And I the fourth. There's sure to be something in my line toward, where politicians gathered together!

[The four Phantoms enter the Gallery of the House in the disguise of ordinary strangers.]

SHERIDAN [rising]

The Bill I would have leave to introduce Is framed, sir, to repeal last Session's Act, By party-scribes intituled a Provision For England's Proper Guard; but elsewhere known As Mr. Pitt's new Patent Parish Pill. [Laughter.]

The ministerial countenances, I mark, Congeal to dazed surprise at my straight motion— Why, passes sane conjecture. It may be That, with a haughty and unwavering faith In their own battering-rams of argument, They deemed our buoyance whelmed, and sapped, and sunk To our hope's sheer bottom, whence a miracle Was all could friend and float us; or, maybe, They are amazed at our rude disrespect In making mockery of an English Law Sprung sacred from the King's own Premier's brain! —I hear them snort; but let them wince at will, My duty must be done; shall be done quickly By citing some few facts.

An Act for our defence! It weakens, not defends; and oversea Swoln France's despot and his myrmidons This moment know it, and can scoff thereat. Our people know it too—those who can peer Behind the scenes of this poor painted show Called soldiering!—The Act has failed, must fail, As my right honourable friend well proved When speaking t'other night, whose silencing By his right honourable vis a vis Was of the genuine Governmental sort, And like the catamarans their sapience shaped All fizzle and no harm. [Laughter.] The Act, in brief, Effects this much: that the whole force of England Is strengthened by—eleven thousand men! So sorted that the British infantry Are now eight hundred less than heretofore!

In Ireland, where the glamouring influence Of the right honourable gentleman Prevails with magic might, ELEVEN men Have been amassed. And in the Cinque-Port towns, Where he is held in absolute veneration, His method has so quickened martial fire As to bring in—one man. O would that man Might meet my sight! [Laughter.] A Hercules, no doubt, A god-like emanation from this Act, Who with his single arm will overthrow All Buonaparte's legions ere their keels Have scraped one pebble of our fortless shore!... Such is my motion, sir, and such my mind.

[He sits down amid cheers. The candle-snuffers go round, and Pitt rises. During the momentary pause before he speaks the House assumes an attentive stillness, in which can be heard the rustling of the trees without, a horn from an early coach, and the voice of the watch crying the hour.]

PITT

Not one on this side but appreciates Those mental gems and airy pleasantries Flashed by the honourable gentleman, Who shines in them by birthright. Each device Of drollery he has laboured to outshape, [Or treasured up from others who have shaped it,] Displays that are the conjurings of the moment, [Or mellowed and matured by sleeping on]— Dry hoardings in his book of commonplace, Stored without stint of toil through days and months— He heaps into one mass, and light and fans As fuel for his flaming eloquence, Mouthed and maintained without a thought or care If germane to the theme, or not at all.

Now vain indeed it were should I assay To match him in such sort. For, sir, alas, To use imagination as the ground Of chronicle, take myth and merry tale As texts for prophecy, is not my gift Being but a person primed with simple fact, Unprinked by jewelled art.—But to the thing.

The preparations of the enemy, Doggedly bent to desolate our land, Advance with a sustained activity. They are seen, they are known, by you and by us all. But they evince no clear-eyed tentative In furtherance of the threat, whose coming off, Ay, years may yet postpone; whereby the Act Will far outstrip him, and the thousands called Duly to join the ranks by its provisions, In process sure, if slow, will ratch the lines Of English regiments—seasoned, cool, resolved— To glorious length and firm prepotency. And why, then, should we dream of its repeal Ere profiting by its advantages? Must the House listen to such wilding words As this proposal, at the very hour When the Act's gearing finds its ordered grooves And circles into full utility? The motion of the honourable gentleman Reminds me aptly of a publican Who should, when malting, mixing, mashing's past, Fermenting, barrelling, and spigoting, Quick taste the brew, and shake his sapient head, And cry in acid voice: The ale is new! Brew old, you varlets; cast this slop away! [Cheers.]

But gravely, sir, I would conclude to-night, And, as a serious man on serious things, I now speak here.... I pledge myself to this: Unprecedented and magnificent As were our strivings in the previous war, Our efforts in the present shall transcend them, As men will learn. Such efforts are not sized By this light measuring-rule my critic here Whips from his pocket like a clerk-o'-works!... Tasking and toilsome war's details must be, And toilsome, too, must be their criticism,— Not in a moment's stroke extemporized.

The strange fatality that haunts the times Wherein our lot is cast, has no example. Times are they fraught with peril, trouble, gloom; We have to mark their lourings, and to face them. Sir, reading thus the full significance Of these big days, large though my lackings be, Can any hold of those who know my past That I, of all men, slight our safeguarding? No: by all honour no!—Were I convinced That such could be the mind of members here, My sorrowing thereat would doubly shade The shade on England now! So I do trust All in the House will take my tendered word, And credit my deliverance here to-night, That in this vital point of watch and ward Against the threatenings from yonder coast We stand prepared; and under Providence Shall fend whatever hid or open stroke A foe may deal.

[He sits down amid loud ministerial cheers, with symptoms of great exhaustion.]

WINDHAM

The question that compels the House to-night Is not of differences in wit and wit, But if for England it be well or no To null the new-fledged Act, as one inept For setting up with speed and hot effect The red machinery of desperate war.— Whatever it may do, or not, it stands, A statesman' raw experiment. If ill, Shall more experiments and more be tried In stress of jeopardy that stirs demand For sureness of proceeding? Must this House Exchange safe action based on practised lines For yet more ventures into risks unknown To gratify a quaint projector's whim, While enemies hang grinning round our gates To profit by mistake?

My friend who spoke Found comedy in the matter. Comical As it may be in parentage and feature, Most grave and tragic in its consequence This Act may prove. We are moving thoughtlessly, We squander precious, brief, life-saving time On idle guess-games. Fail the measure must, Nay, failed it has already; and should rouse Resolve in its progenitor himself To move for its repeal! [Cheers.]

WHITBREAD

I rise but to subjoin a phrase or two To those of my right honourable friend. I, too, am one who reads the present pinch As passing all our risks heretofore. For why? Our bold and reckless enemy, Relaxing not his plans, has treasured time To mass his monstrous force on all the coigns From which our coast is close assailable. Ay, even afloat his concentrations work: Two vast united squadrons of his sail Move at this moment viewless on the seas.— Their whereabouts, untraced, unguessable, Will not be known to us till some black blow Be dealt by them in some undreamt-of quarter To knell our rule.

That we are reasonably enfenced therefrom By such an Act is but a madman's dream.... A commonwealth so situate cries aloud For more, far mightier, measures! End an Act In Heaven's name, then, which only can obstruct The fabrication of more trusty tackle For building up an army! [Cheers.]

BATHURST

Sir, the point To any sober mind is bright as noon; Whether the Act should have befitting trial Or be blasphemed at sight. I firmly hold The latter loud iniquity.—One task Is theirs who would inter this corpse-cold Act— [So said]—to bring to birth a substitute! Sir, they have none; they have given no thought to one, And this their deeds incautiously disclose Their cloaked intention and most secret aim! With them the question is not how to frame A finer trick to trounce intrusive foes, But who shall be the future ministers To whom such trick against intrusive foes, Whatever it may prove, shall be entrusted! They even ask the country gentlemen To join them in this job. But, God be praised, Those gentlemen are sound, and of repute; Their names, their attainments, and their blood, [Ironical Opposition cheers.] Safeguard them from an onslaught on an Act For ends so sinister and palpable! [Cheers and jeerings.]

FULLER

I disapprove of censures of the Act.— All who would entertain such hostile thought Would swear that black is white, that night is day. No honest man will join a reckless crew Who'd overthrow their country for their gain! [Laughter.]

TIERNEY

It is incumbent on me to declare In the last speaker's face my censure, based On grounds most clear and constitutional.— An Act it is that studies to create A standing army, large and permanent; Which kind of force has ever been beheld With jealous-eyed disfavour in this House. It makes for sure oppression, binding men To serve for less than service proves it worth Conditioned by no hampering penalty. For these and late-spoke reasons, then, I say, Let not the Act deface the statute-book, But blot it out forthwith. [Hear, hear.]

FOX [rising amid cheers]

At this late hour, After the riddling fire the Act has drawn on't, My words shall hold the House the briefest while. Too obvious to the most unwilling mind It grows that the existence of this law Experience and reflection have condemned. Professing to do much, it makes for nothing; Not only so; while feeble in effect It shows it vicious in its principle. Engaging to raise men for the common weal It sets a harmful and unequal tax Capriciously on our communities.— The annals of a century fail to show More flagrant cases of oppressiveness Than those this statute works to perpetrate, Which [like all Bills this favoured statesman frames, And clothes with tapestries of rhetoric Disguising their real web of commonplace] Though held as shaped for English bulwarking, Breathes in its heart perversities of party, And instincts toward oligarchic power, Galling the many to relieve the few! [Cheers.]

Whatever breadth and sense of equity Inform the methods of this minister, Those mitigants nearly always trace their root To measures that his predecessors wrought. And ere his Government can dare assert Superior claim to England's confidence, They owe it to their honour and good name To furnish better proof of such a claim Than is revealed by the abortiveness Of this thing called an Act for our Defence.

To the great gifts of its artificer No member of this House is more disposed To yield full recognition than am I. No man has found more reason so to do Through the long roll of disputatious years Wherein we have stood opposed.... But if one single fact could counsel me To entertain a doubt of those great gifts, And cancel faith in his capacity, That fact would be the vast imprudence shown In staking recklessly repute like his On such an Act as he has offered us— So false in principle, so poor in fruit. Sir, the achievements and effects thereof Have furnished not one fragile argument Which all the partiality of friendship Can kindle to consider as the mark Of a clear, vigorous, freedom-fostering mind!

[He sits down amid lengthy cheering from the Opposition.]

SHERIDAN

My summary shall be brief, and to the point.— The said right honourable Prime Minister Has thought it proper to declare my speech The jesting of an irresponsible;— Words from a person who has never read The Act he claims him urgent to repeal. Such quips and qizzings [as he reckons them] He implicates as gathered from long hoards Stored up with cruel care, to be discharged With sudden blaze of pyrotechnic art On the devoted, gentle, shrinking head O' the right incomparable gentleman! [Laughter.] But were my humble, solemn, sad oration [Laughter.] Indeed such rattle as he rated it, Is it not strange, and passing precedent, That the illustrious chief of Government Should have uprisen with such indecent speed And strenuously replied? He, sir, knows well That vast and luminous talents like his own Could not have been demanded to choke off A witcraft marked by nothing more of weight Than ignorant irregularity! Nec Deus intersit—and so-and-so— Is a well-worn citation whose close fit None will perceive more clearly in the Fane Than its presiding Deity opposite. [Laughter.] His thunderous answer thus perforce condemns him!

Moreover, to top all, the while replying, He still thought best to leave intact the reasons On which my blame was founded! Thus, them, stands My motion unimpaired, convicting clearly Of dire perversion that capacity We formerly admired.— [Cries of "Oh, oh."] This minister Whose circumventions never circumvent, Whose coalitions fail to coalesce; This dab at secret treaties known to all, This darling of the aristocracy—

[Laughter, "Oh, oh," cheers, and cries of "Divide."]

Has brought the millions to the verge of ruin, By pledging them to Continental quarrels Of which we see no end! [Cheers.]

[The members rise to divide.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

It irks me that they thus should Yea and Nay As though a power lay in their oraclings, If each decision work unconsciously, And would be operant though unloosened were A single lip!

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

There may react on things Some influence from these, indefinitely, And even on That, whose outcome we all are.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Hypotheses!—More boots it to remind The younger here of our ethereal band And hierarchy of Intelligences, That this thwart Parliament whose moods we watch— So insular, empiric, un-ideal— May figure forth in sharp and salient lines To retrospective eyes of afterdays, And print its legend large on History. For one cause—if I read the signs aright— To-night's appearance of its Minister In the assembly of his long-time sway Is near his last, and themes to-night launched forth Will take a tincture from that memory, When me recall the scene and circumstance That hung about his pleadings.—But no more; The ritual of each party is rehearsed, Dislodging not one vote or prejudice; The ministers their ministries retain, And Ins as Ins, and Outs as Outs, remain.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Meanwhile what of the Foeman's vast array That wakes these tones?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Abide the event, young Shade: Soon stars will shut and show a spring-eyed dawn, And sunbeams fountain forth, that will arouse Those forming bands to full activity.

[An honourable member reports that he spies strangers.]

A timely token that we dally here! We now cast off these mortal manacles, And speed us seaward.

[The Phantoms vanish from the Gallery. The members file out to the lobbies. The House and Westminster recede into the films of night, and the point of observation shifts rapidly across the Channel.]



SCENE IV

THE HARBOUR OF BOULOGNE

[The morning breaks, radiant with early sunlight. The French Army of Invasion is disclosed. On the hills on either side of the town and behind appear large military camps formed of timber huts. Lower down are other camps of more or less permanent kind, the whole affording accommodation for one hundred and fifty thousand men.

South of the town is an extensive basin surrounded by quays, the heaps of fresh soil around showing it to be a recent excavation from the banks of the Liane. The basin is crowded with the flotilla, consisting of hundreds of vessels of sundry kinds: flat-bottomed brigs with guns and two masts; boats of one mast, carrying each an artillery waggon, two guns, and a two-stalled horse-box; transports with three low masts; and long narrow pinnaces arranged for many oars.

Timber, saw-mills, and new-cut planks spread in profusion around, and many of the town residences are seen to be adapted for warehouses and infirmaries.]

DUMB SHOW

Moving in this scene are countless companies of soldiery, engaged in a drill practice of embarking and disembarking, and of hoisting horses into the vessels and landing them again. Vehicles bearing provisions of many sorts load and unload before the temporary warehouses. Further off, on the open land, bodies of troops are at field-drill. Other bodies of soldiers, half stripped and encrusted with mud, are labouring as navvies in repairing the excavations.

An English squadron of about twenty sail, comprising a ship or two of the line, frigates, brigs, and luggers, confronts the busy spectacle from the sea.

The Show presently dims and becomes broken, till only its flashes and gleams are visible. Anon a curtain of cloud closes over it.



SCENE V

LONDON. THE HOUSE OF A LADY OF QUALITY

[A fashionable crowd is present at an evening party, which includes the DUKES of BEAUFORT and RUTLAND, LORDS MALMESBURY, HARROWBY, ELDON, GRENVILLE, CASTLEREAGH, SIDMOUTH, and MULGRAVE, with their ladies; also CANNING, PERCEVAL, TOWNSHEND, LADY ANNE HAMILTON, MRS. DAMER, LADY CAROLINE LAMB, and many other notables.]

A GENTLEMAN [offering his snuff-box]

So, then, the Treaty anxiously concerted Between ourselves and frosty Muscovy Is duly signed?

A CABINET MINISTER

Was signed a few days back, And is in force. And we do firmly hope The loud pretensions and the stunning dins Now daily heard, these laudable exertions May keep in curb; that ere our greening land Darken its leaves beneath the Dogday suns, The independence of the Continent May be assured, and all the rumpled flags Of famous dynasties so foully mauled, Extend their honoured hues as heretofore.

GENTLEMAN

So be it. Yet this man is a volcano; And proven 'tis, by God, volcanos choked Have ere now turned to earthquakes!

LADY

What the news?— The chequerboard of diplomatic moves Is London, all the world knows: here are born All inspirations of the Continent— So tell!

GENTLEMAN

Ay. Inspirations now abound!

LADY

Nay, but your looks are grave! That measured speech Betokened matter that will waken us.— Is it some piquant cruelty of his? Or other tickling horror from abroad The packet has brought in?

GENTLEMAN

The treaty's signed!

MINISTER

Whereby the parties mutually agree To knit in union and in general league All outraged Europe.

LADY

So to knit sounds well; But how ensure its not unravelling?

MINISTER

Well; by the terms. There are among them these: Five hundred thousand active men in arms Shall strike [supported by the Britannic aid In vessels, men, and money subsidies] To free North Germany and Hanover From trampling foes; deliver Switzerland, Unbind the galled republic of the Dutch, Rethrone in Piedmont the Sardinian King, Make Naples sword-proof, un-French Italy From shore to shore; and thoroughly guarantee A settled order to the divers states; Thus rearing breachless barriers in each realm Against the thrust of his usurping hand.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

They trow not what is shaping otherwhere The while they talk this stoutly!

SPIRIT OF RUMOUR

Bid me go And join them, and all blandly kindle them By bringing, ere material transit can, A new surprise!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Yea, for a moment, wouldst.

[The Spirit of Rumour enters the apartment in the form of a personage of fashion, newly arrived. He advances and addresses the group.]

SPIRIT

The Treaty moves all tongues to-night.—Ha, well— So much on paper!

GENTLEMAN

What on land and sea? You look, old friend, full primed with latest thence.

SPIRIT

Yea, this. The Italy our mighty pact Delivers from the French and Bonaparte Makes haste to crown him!—Turning from Boulogne He speeds toward Milan, there to glory him In second coronation by the Pope, And set upon his irrepressible brow Lombardy's iron crown.

[The Spirit of Rumour mingles with the throng, moves away, and disappears.]

LADY

Fair Italy, Alas, alas!

LORD

Yet thereby English folk Are freed him.—Faith, as ancient people say, It's an ill wind that blows good luck to none!

MINISTER

Who is your friend that drops so airily This precious pinch of salt on our raw skin?

GENTLEMAN

Why, Norton. You know Norton well enough?

MINISTER

Nay, 'twas not he. Norton of course I know. I thought him Stewart for a moment, but—-

LADY

But I well scanned him—'twas Lord Abercorn; For, said I to myself, "O quaint old beau, To sleep in black silk sheets so funnily:— That is, if the town rumour on't be true."

LORD

My wig, ma'am, no! 'Twas a much younger man.

GENTLEMAN

But let me call him! Monstrous silly this, That don't know my friends!

[They look around. The gentleman goes among the surging and babbling guests, makes inquiries, and returns with a perplexed look.]

GENTLEMAN

They tell me, sure, That he's not here to-night!

MINISTER

I can well swear It was not Norton.—'Twas some lively buck, Who chose to put himself in masquerade And enter for a whim. I'll tell our host. —Meantime the absurdity of his report Is more than manifested. How knows he The plans of Bonaparte by lightning-flight, Before another man in England knows?

LADY

Something uncanny's in it all, if true. Good Lord, the thought gives me a sudden sweat, That fairly makes my linen stick to me!

MINISTER

Ha-ha! 'Tis excellent. But we'll find out Who this impostor was.

[They disperse, look furtively for the stranger, and speak of the incident to others of the crowded company.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Now let us vision onward, till we sight Famed Milan's aisles of marble, sun-alight, And there behold, unbid, the Coronation-rite.

[The confused tongues of the assembly waste away into distance, till they are heard but as the babblings of the sea from a high cliff, the scene becoming small and indistinct therewith. This passes into silence, and the whole disappears.]



SCENE VI

MILAN. THE CATHEDRAL

[The interior of the building on a sunny May day.

The walls, arched, and columns are draped in silk fringed with gold. A gilded throne stand in front of the High Altar. A closely packed assemblage, attired in every variety of rich fabric and fashion, waits in breathless expectation.]

DUMB SHOW

From a private corridor leading to a door in the aisle the EMPRESS JOSEPHINE enters, in a shining costume, and diamonds that collect rainbow-colours from the sunlight piercing the clerestory windows. She is preceded by PRINCESS ELIZA, and surrounded by her ladies. A pause follows, and then comes the procession of the EMPEROR, consisting of hussars, heralds, pages, aides-de-camp, presidents of institutions, officers of the state bearing the insignia of the Empire and of Italy, and seven ladies with offerings. The Emperor himself in royal robes, wearing the Imperial crown, and carrying the sceptre. He is followed my ministers and officials of the household. His gait is rather defiant than dignified, and a bluish pallor overspreads his face.

He is met by the Cardinal Archbishop of CAPRARA and the clergy, who burn incense before him as he proceeds towards the throne. Rolling notes of music burn forth, and loud applause from the congregation.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

What is the creed that these rich rites disclose?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

A local cult, called Christianity, Which the wild dramas of the wheeling spheres Include, with divers other such, in dim Pathetical and brief parentheses, Beyond whose span, uninfluenced, unconcerned, The systems of the suns go sweeping on With all their many-mortaled planet train In mathematic roll unceasingly.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I did not recognize it here, forsooth; Though in its early, lovingkindly days Of gracious purpose it was much to me.

ARCHBISHOP [addressing Bonaparte]

Sire, with that clemency and right goodwill Which beautify Imperial Majesty, You deigned acceptance of the homages That we the clergy and the Milanese Were proud to offer when your entrance here Streamed radiance on our ancient capital. Please, then, to consummate the boon to-day Beneath this holy roof, so soon to thrill With solemn strains and lifting harmonies Befitting such a coronation hour; And bend a tender fatherly regard On this assembly, now at one with me To supplicate the Author of All Good That He endow your most Imperial person With every Heavenly gift.

[The procession advances, and the EMPEROR seats himself on the throne, with the banners and regalia of the Empire on his right, and those of Italy on his left hand. Shouts and triumphal music accompany the proceedings, after which Divine service commences.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Thus are the self-styled servants of the Highest Constrained by earthly duress to embrace Mighty imperiousness as it were choice, And hand the Italian sceptre unto one Who, with a saturnine, sour-humoured grin, Professed at first to flout antiquity, Scorn limp conventions, smile at mouldy thrones, And level dynasts down to journeymen!— Yet he, advancing swiftly on that track Whereby his active soul, fair Freedom's child Makes strange decline, now labours to achieve The thing it overthrew.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Thou reasonest ever thuswise—even if A self-formed force had urged his loud career.

SPIRIT SINISTER

Do not the prelate's accents falter thin, His lips with inheld laughter grow deformed, While blessing one whose aim is but to win The golden seats that other b—-s have warmed?

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Soft, jester; scorn not puppetry so skilled, Even made to feel by one men call the Dame.

SHADE OF THE EARTH

Yea; that they feel, and puppetry remain, Is an owned flaw in her consistency Men love to dub Dame Nature—that lay-shape They use to hang phenomena upon— Whose deftest mothering in fairest sphere Is girt about by terms inexorable!

SPIRIT SINISTER

The lady's remark is apposite, and reminds me that I may as well hold my tongue as desired. For if my casual scorn, Father Years, should set thee trying to prove that there is any right or reason in the Universe, thou wilt not accomplish it by Doomsday! Small blame to her, however; she must cut her coat according to her cloth, as they would say below there.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

O would that I could move It to enchain thee, And shut thee up a thousand years!—[to cite A grim terrestrial tale of one thy like] Thou Iago of the Incorporeal World, "As they would say below there."

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Would thou couldst! But move That scoped above percipience, Sire, It cannot be!

SHADE OF THE EARTH

The spectacle proceeds.

SPIRIT SINISTER

And we may as well give all attention thereto, for the evils at work in other continents are not worth eyesight by comparison.

[The ceremonial in the Cathedral continues. NAPOLEON goes to the front of the altar, ascends the steps, and, taking up the crown of Lombardy, places it on his head.]

NAPOLEON

'Tis God has given it to me. So be it. Let any who shall touch it now beware! [Reverberations of applause.]

[The Sacrament of the Mass. NAPOLEON reads the Coronation Oath in a loud voice.]

HERALDS

Give ear! Napoleon, Emperor of the French And King of Italy, is crowned and throned!

CONGREGATION

Long live the Emperor and King. Huzza!

[Music. The Te Deum.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

That vulgar stroke of vauntery he displayed In planting on his brow the Lombard crown, Means sheer erasure of the Luneville pacts, And lets confusion loose on Europe's peace For many an undawned year! From this rash hour Austria but waits her opportunity By secret swellings of her armaments To link her to his foes.—I'll speak to him.

[He throws a whisper into NAPOLEON'S ear.]

Lieutenant Bonaparte, Would it not seemlier be to shut thy heart To these unhealthy splendours?—helmet thee For her thou swar'st-to first, fair Liberty?

NAPOLEON

Who spoke to me?

ARCHBISHOP

Not I, Sire. Not a soul.

NAPOLEON

Dear Josephine, my queen, didst call my name?

JOSEPHINE

I spoke not, Sire.

NAPOLEON

Thou didst not, tender spouse; I know it. Such harsh utterance was not thine. It was aggressive Fancy, working spells Upon a mind o'erwrought!

[The service closes. The clergy advance with the canopy to the foot of the throne, and the procession forms to return to the Palace.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Officious sprite, Thou art young, and dost not heed the Cause of things Which some of us have inkled to thee here; Else wouldst thou not have hailed the Emperor, Whose acts do but outshape Its governing.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I feel, Sire, as I must! This tale of Will And Life's impulsion by Incognizance I cannot take!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Let me then once again Show to thy sceptic eye the very streams And currents of this all-inhering Power, And bring conclusion to thy unbelief.

[The scene assumes the preternatural transparency before mentioned, and there is again beheld as it were the interior of a brain which seems to manifest the volitions of a Universal Will, of whose tissues the personages of the action form portion.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Enough. And yet for very sorriness I cannot own the weird phantasma real!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Affection ever was illogical.

SPIRIT IRONIC [aside]

How should the Sprite own to such logic—a mere juvenile— who only came into being in what the earthlings call their Tertiary Age!

[The scene changes. The exterior of the Cathedral takes the place of the interior, and the point of view recedes, the whole fabric smalling into distance and becoming like a rare, delicately carved alabaster ornament. The city itself sinks to miniature, the Alps show afar as a white corrugation, the Adriatic and the Gulf of Genoa appear on this and on that hand, with Italy between them, till clouds cover the panorama.]



ACT SECOND

SCENE I

THE DOCKYARD, GIBRALTAR

[The Rock is seen rising behind the town and the Alameda Gardens, and the English fleet rides at anchor in the Bay, across which the Spanish shore from Algeciras to Carnero Point shuts in the West. Southward over the Strait is the African coast.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Our migratory Proskenion now presents An outlook on the storied Kalpe Rock, As preface to the vision of the Fleets Spanish and French, linked for fell purposings.

RECORDING ANGEL [reciting]

Their motions and manoeuvres, since the fame Of Bonaparte's enthronment at Milan Swept swift through Europe's dumbed communities, Have stretched the English mind to wide surmise. Many well-based alarms [which strange report Much aggravates] as to the pondered blow, Flutter the public pulse; all points in turn— Malta, Brazil, Wales, Ireland, British Ind— Being held as feasible for force like theirs, Of lavish numbers and unrecking aim.

"Where, where is Nelson?" questions every tongue;— "How views he so unparalleled a scheme?" Their slow uncertain apprehensions ask. "When Villeneuve puts to sea with all his force, What may he not achieve, if swift his course!"

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

I'll call in Nelson, who has stepped ashore For the first time these thrice twelvemonths and more, And with him one whose insight has alone Pierced the real project of Napoleon.

[Enter NELSON and COLLINGWOOD, who pace up and down.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

Note Nelson's worn-out features. Much has he Suffered from ghoulish ghast anxiety!

NELSON

In short, dear Coll, the letter which you wrote me Had so much pith that I was fain to see you; For I am sure that you indeed divine The true intent and compass of a plot Which I have spelled in vain.

COLLINGWOOD

I weighed it thus: Their flight to the Indies being to draw us off, That and no more, and clear these coasts of us— The standing obstacle to his device— He cared not what was done at Martinique, Or where, provided that the general end Should not be jeopardized—that is to say, The full-united squadron's quick return.— Gravina and Villeneuve, once back to Europe, Can straight make Ferrol, raise there the blockade, Then haste to Brest, there to relieve Ganteaume, And next with four-or five-and fifty sail Bear down upon our coast as they see fit.— I read they aim to strike at Ireland still, As formerly, and as I wrote to you.

NELSON

So far your thoughtful and sagacious words Have hit the facts. But 'tis no Irish bay The villains aim to drop their anchors in; My word for it: they make the Wessex shore, And this vast squadron handled by Villeneuve Is meant to cloak the passage of their strength, Massed on those transports—we being kept elsewhere By feigning forces.—Good God, Collingwood, I must be gone! Yet two more days remain Ere I can get away.—I must be gone!

COLLINGWOOD

Wherever you may go to, my dear lord, You carry victory with you. Let them launch, Your name will blow them back, as sou'west gales The gulls that beat against them from the shore.

NELSON

Good Collingwood, I know you trust in me; But ships are ships, and do not kindly come Out of the slow docks of the Admiralty Like wharfside pigeons when they are whistled for:— And there's a damned disparity of force, Which means tough work awhile for you and me!

[The Spirit of the Years whispers to NELSON.]

And I have warnings, warnings, Collingwood, That my effective hours are shortening here; Strange warnings now and then, as 'twere within me, Which, though I fear them not, I recognize!... However, by God's help, I'll live to meet These foreign boasters; yea, I'll finish them; And then—well, Gunner Death may finish me!

COLLINGWOOD

View not your life so gloomily, my lord: One charmed, a needed purpose to fulfil!

NELSON

Ah, Coll. Lead bullets are not all that wound.... I have a feeling here of dying fires, A sense of strong and deep unworded censure, Which, compassing about my private life, Makes all my public service lustreless In my own eyes.—I fear I am much condemned For those dear Naples and Palermo days, And her who was the sunshine of them all!... He who is with himself dissatisfied, Though all the world find satisfaction in him, Is like a rainbow-coloured bird gone blind, That gives delight it shares not. Happiness? It's the philosopher's stone no alchemy Shall light on this world I am weary of.— Smiling I'd pass to my long home to-morrow Could I with honour, and my country's gain. —But let's adjourn. I waste your hours ashore By such ill-timed confessions!

[They pass out of sight, and the scene closes.]



SCENE II.

OFF FERROL

[The French and Spanish combined squadrons. On board the French admiral's flag-ship. VILLENEUVE is discovered in his cabin, writing a letter.]

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

He pens in fits, with pallid restlessness, Like one who sees Misfortune walk the wave, And can nor face nor flee it.

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

He indites To his long friend the minister Decres Words that go heavily!...

VILLENEUVE [writing]

"I am made the arbiter in vast designs Whereof I see black outcomes. Do I this Or do I that, success, that loves to jilt Her anxious wooer for some careless blade, Will not reward me. For, if I must pen it, Demoralized past prayer in the marine— Bad masts, bad sails, bad officers, bad men; We cling to naval technics long outworn, And time and opportunity do not avail me To take up new. I have long suspected such, But till I saw my helps, the Spanish ships, I hoped somewhat.—Brest is my nominal port; Yet if so, Calder will again attack— Now reinforced by Nelson or Cornwallis— And shatter my whole fleet.... Shall I admit That my true inclination and desire Is to make Cadiz straightway, and not Brest? Alas! thereby I fail the Emperor; But shame the navy less.—

"Your friend, VILLENEUVE"

[GENERAL LAURISTON enters.]

LAURISTON

Admiral, my missive to the Emperor, Which I shall speed by special courier From Ferrol this near eve, runs thus and thus:— "Gravina's ships, in Ferrol here at hand, Embayed but by a temporary wind, Are all we now await. Combined with these We sail herefrom to Brest; there promptly give Cornwallis battle, and release Ganteaume; Thence, all united, bearing Channelwards: A step that sets in motion the first wheel In the proud project of your Majesty Now to be engined to the very close, To wit: that a French fleet shall enter in And hold the Channel four-and-twenty hours."— Such clear assurance to the Emperor That our intent is modelled on his will I hasten to dispatch to him forthwith.[4]

VILLENEUVE

Yes, Lauriston. I sign to every word.

[Lauriston goes out. VILLENEUVE remains at his table in reverie.]

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

We may impress him under visible shapes That seem to shed a silent circling doom; He's such an one as can be so impressed, And this much is among our privileges, Well bounded as they be.—Let us draw near him.

[The Spirits of Years and of the Pities take the form of sea-birds, which alight on the stern-balcony of VILLENEUVE's ship, immediately outside his cabin window. VILLENEUVE after a while looks up and sees the birds watching him with large piercing eyes.]

VILLENEUVE

My apprehensions even outstep their cause, As though some influence smote through yonder pane.

[He gazes listlessly, and resumes his broodings.]

—-Why dared I not disclose to him my thought, As nightly worded by the whistling shrouds, That Brest will never see our battled hulls Helming to north in pomp of cannonry To take the front in this red pilgrimage! —-If so it were, now, that I'd screen my skin From risks of bloody business in the brunt, My acts could scarcely wear a difference. Yet I would die to-morrow—not ungladly— So far removed is carcase-care from me. For no self do these apprehensions spring, But for the cause.—Yes, rotten is our marine, Which, while I know, the Emperor knows not, And the pale secret chills! Though some there be Would beard contingencies and buffet all, I'll not command a course so conscienceless. Rather I'll stand, and face Napoleon's rage When he shall learn what mean the ambiguous lines That facts have forced from me.

SPIRIT OF THE PITIES [to the Spirit of Years]

O Eldest-born of the Unconscious Cause— If such thou beest, as I can fancy thee— Why dost thou rack him thus? Consistency Might be preserved, and yet his doom remain. His olden courage is without reproach; Albeit his temper trends toward gaingiving!

SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

I say, as I have said long heretofore, I know but narrow freedom. Feel'st thou not We are in Its hand, as he?—Here, as elsewhere, We do but as we may; no further dare.

[The birds disappear, and the scene is lost behind sea-mist.]



SCENE III

THE CAMP AND HARBOUR OF BOULOGNE

[The English coast in the distance. Near the Tour d'Ordre stands a hut, with sentinels and aides outside; it is NAPOLEON's temporary lodging when not at his headquarters at the Chateau of Pont-de- Briques, two miles inland.]

DUMB SHOW

A courier arrives with dispatches, and enters the Emperor's quarters, whence he emerges and goes on with other dispatches to the hut of DECRES, lower down. Immediately after, NAPOLEON comes out from his hut with a paper in his hand, and musingly proceeds towards an eminence commanding the Channel.

Along the shore below are forming in a far-reaching line more than a hundred thousand infantry. On the downs in the rear of the camps fifteen thousand cavalry are manoeuvring, their accoutrements flashing in the sun like a school of mackerel. The flotilla lies in and around the port, alive with moving figures.

With his head forward and his hands behind him the Emperor surveys these animated proceedings in detail, but more frequently turns his face toward the telegraph on the cliff to the southwest, erected to signal when VILLENEUVE and the combined squadrons shall be visible on the west horizon.

He summons one of the aides, who descends to the hut of DECRES. DECRES comes out from his hut, and hastens to join the Emperor. Dumb show ends.

[NAPOLEON and DECRES advance to the foreground of the scene.]

NAPOLEON

Decres, this action with Sir Robert Calder Three weeks ago, whereof we dimly heard, And clear details of which I have just unsealed, Is on the whole auspicious for our plan. It seems that twenty of our ships and Spain's— None over eighty-gunned, and some far less— Engaged the English off Cape Finisterre With fifteen vessels of a hundred each. We coolly fought and orderly as they, And, but for mist, we had closed with victory. Two English were much mauled, some Spanish damaged, And Calder then drew off with his two wrecks And Spain's in tow, we giving chase forthwith. Not overtaking him our admiral, Having the coast clear for his purposes, Entered Coruna, and found order there To open the port of Brest and come on hither. Thus hastes the moment when the double fleet Of Villeneuve and of Ganteaume should appear.

[He looks again towards the telegraph.]

DECRES [with hesitation]

And should they not appear, your Majesty?

NAPOLEON

Not? But they will; and do it early, too! There's nothing hinders them. My God, they must, For I have much before me when this stroke At England's dealt. I learn from Talleyrand That Austrian preparations threaten hot, While Russia's hostile schemes are ripening, And shortly must be met.—My plan is fixed: I am prepared for each alternative. If Villeneuve come, I brave the British coast, Convulse the land with fear ['tis even now So far distraught, that generals cast about To find new modes of warfare; yea, design Carriages to transport their infantry!].— Once on the English soil I hold it firm, Descend on London, and the while my men Salute the dome of Paul's I cut the knot Of all Pitt's coalitions; setting free From bondage to a cold manorial caste A people who await it.

[They stand and regard the chalky cliffs of England, till NAPOLEON resumes]:

Should it be Even that my admirals fail to keep the tryst— A thing scarce thinkable, when all's reviewed— I strike this seaside camp, cross Germany, With these two hundred thousand seasoned men, And pause not till within Vienna's walls I cry checkmate. Next, Venice, too, being taken, And Austria's other holdings down that way, The Bourbons also driven from Italy, I strike at Russia—each in turn, you note, Ere they can act conjoined. Report to me What has been scanned to-day upon the main, And on your passage down request them there To send Daru this way.

DECRES [as he withdraws]

The Emperor can be sanguine. Scarce can I. His letters are more promising than mine. Alas, alas, Villeneuve, my dear old friend, Why do you pen me this at such a time!

[He retires reading VILLENEUVE'S letter. The Emperor walks up and down till DARU, his private secretary, joins him.]

NAPOLEON

Come quick, Daru; sit down upon the grass, And write whilst I am in mind.

First to Villeneuve:—

"I trust, Vice-Admiral, that before this date Your fleet has opened Brest, and gone. If not, These lines will greet you there. But pause not, pray: Waste not a moment dallying. Sail away: Once bring my coupled squadrons Channelwards And England's soil is ours. All's ready here, The troops alert, and every store embarked. Hold the nigh sea but four-and-twenty hours And our vast end is gained."

Now to Ganteaume:—

"My telegraphs will have made known to you My object and desire to be but this, That you forbid Villeneuve to lose an hour In getting fit and putting forth to sea, To profit by the fifty first-rate craft Wherewith I now am bettered. Quickly weigh, And steer you for the Channel with all your strength. I count upon your well-known character, Your enterprize, your vigour, to do this. Sail hither, then; and we will be avenged For centuries of despite and contumely."

DARU

Shall a fair transcript, Sire, be made forthwith?

NAPOLEON

This moment. And the courier will depart And travel without pause.

[DARU goes to his office a little lower down, and the Emperor lingers on the cliffs looking through his glass.

The point of view shifts across the Channel, the Boulogne cliffs sinking behind the water-line.]



SCENE IV

SOUTH WESSEX. A RIDGE-LIKE DOWN NEAR THE COAST

[The down commands a wide view over the English Channel in front of it, including the popular Royal watering-place, with the Isle of Slingers and its roadstead, where men-of-war and frigates are anchored. The hour is ten in the morning, and the July sun glows upon a large military encampment round about the foreground, and warms the stone field-walls that take the place of hedges here.

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