Cromwell (Hugo, tr. Ives)/Act fifth

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Cromwell  (1909) 
Victor Hugo, edited by Little, Brown and Company, translated by George Burnham Ives
Act Fifth. The Workmen.

pages 329–419


The Great Hall at Westminster.—At the left, toward the rear, the great doorway of the hall, seen at an angle.—At the rear, semi-circular steps rising to a considerable height.—Rich hangings of tapestry fill the spaces between the Gothic pillars all about the hall, so that only the capitals and cornices can be seen.—At the right a frame-work covered with boards, outlining the steps leading to the platform of a throne. Several workmen are at work upon it when the curtain rises: some are nailing the planks of the steps, while others cover them with a rich carpet of scarlet velvet with gold fringes, or place above the platform a canopy of the same stuff and the same colour, on the under side of which are the Protector's arms embroidered in gold.—Divers carpenters' and upholsterers' tools are lying about on the floor, and ladders standing against the pillars indicate that the work of putting the hangings in place is just finished.—Opposite the throne, a pulpit.—All around the hall are galleries and balustrades, richly draped.—It is three o'clock in the morning; day is beginning to break, and through the windows and partly open door the dawn casts horizontal rays which dim the light of several copper lamps with five burners, placed or hung at various points for the nocturnal labours of the workmen.

Scene 1.—Workmen.

The Master Workman [urging on with gestures the men who are adjusting the canopy.

The work goes on. This daïs is wide enough.
[To another workman who stands near by, Bible in hand.
Enlighten us, my brother. Read.

The Workman [reading.]"And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir."

The Master Workman [to the others.
Come, brethren, let us feed ourselves upon
This bread celestial.

The Reader."And within the oracle he made two cherubim of olive tree, each ten cubits high. And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree; the lintel and the side-posts were a fifth part of the wall. So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall."

A Workman [casting a glance at the preparations.
Our hands to-night have been full well employed.
King Solomon, with purpose to hand down
To future ages monuments more lasting,
Spent on his temple seven years in all,
And fifteen on his palace. We have ta'en
But one short hour for all these preparations.
The Master Workman.
True, Enoch.
[To the workmen placing the canopy.
True, Enoch. This the better ladder is.
[To Enoch.
Can we make too much haste—

[To the workmen hanging the curtains from the canopy.
Can we make too much haste—At that height—good!—
[To Enoch.]When for my Lord Protector we erect
A throne?
Second Workman. A throne? The ceremony's for to-day?
The Master Workman.Ay.—Luckily the platform's well-nigh done.
[To Enoch.]Ah! we have never—
[To the workmen nailing the boards.
Ah! we have never—Ho! you, there—less noise!
[To Enoch.
Done aught in such hot haste, save on that night—
Enoch.What night?
The Master Workman.Have you forgot—'twas eight years since—
The night of January twenty-ninth
And thirtieth.—A dark and bitter night?
Then, too, we wrought for my Lord Oliver.
Second Workman.
Did we not build the scaffold of King Charles
That night?
The Master Workman.
Yes, Tom.—But is it thus we 're wont to speak
Of the becrowned Barabbas, th' English Pharaoh?
Enoch [as if mustering his recollections.
I see it now.—We set the scaffold close
Against the wall. No rough-hewn framework that,
Whereon dog Jews to hang and witches burn;
But a black scaffold, well and stoutly built,
As was most meet. 'Twas level with a window.
No ladder to ascend. 'Twas most convenient!
The Master Workman.
And strong, to bear all Herod's progeny!
No stronger timbers Robin could have found.

There could one die and fear no accident.
Tom [on the platform.
This throne 's less firm; it shakes when one comes up.
Enoch.The scaffold was less quickly built, meseems.
The Workman with the Bible [shaking his head.
It was not finished, brother, in that night.
Enoch.Thou say'st?
The Workman [pointing to the throne.
Thou say'st? This stage is to that scaffold joined.
'Tis but another, higher step, wherefrom
Cromwell doth bend us to his single will.
The work begun that night is finished now.
This Stuart throne the scaffold doth perfect.
Tom.Ah! Nahum the Inspired views all things
From a high plane.
Nahum [his eyes fixed on the throne.
From a high plane. Ay, taking stage with stage,
I much prefer the other. Then it was
Charles Stuart's turn; it is our turn to-day.
Cromwell did on the black cloth immolate
The King alone; upon this purple cloth
He is about to sacrifice the nation!
The Master Workman [to Nahum.
How now! you dare speak thus! Some one may hear.
Nahum.And what care I? In sackcloth I am clad.
For Cromwell's sake, in sooth, would he might hear!
If he would fain be king, then may he fall!
He is accurst. His death I prophesy,
I, poor and wretched creature that I am,
But worthier than he in his accurst
And execrable glory; for the Lord
The desert chose in preference to Tyre,
And Ephraim's grapes to Abiezer's vine.

The Master Workman [glancing at Nahum, who seems absorbed in his religious ecstasy.

[To Enoch.] Imprudent! We have still to put in place
The royal chair of state upon the platform.—
Assist me, friend.

[They ascend the steps, carrying a great chair heavily gilded, covered with scarlet velvet, and displaying on its back the Protector's arms embroidered in gold in high relief. They place the chair in the middle of the platform.

Tom [glancing at the chair.
Assist me, friend. A goodly chair, in sooth!
He'll be a king therein!
Enoch [arranging the chair, to the master-workman.
He'll be a king therein! Upon the night
Whereof you spoke, it was myself, methinks,
Who placed for Charles a noble oaken block,
Set forth with holdfasts and with double chain;
All new it was, and had before been used
For none save my Lord Strafford.
A Third Workman. For none save my Lord Strafford. Who was the man
Who bade us hammer not so noisily?
The Master Workman.
'Twas Tomlinson, the colonel of the guard.
He bade us not advance the agony,
And told us that our hammers' ceaseless din
Deprived the culprit of his final sleep.
Nahum.He slept! 'twas strange!
A Fourth Workman. He slept! 'twas strange! At that ill-omened hour,
One who had seen us, in the darkness hid,
Building a scaffold by the light of torches,
Like grave-diggers, or like those demons, who,
By their infernal art, th' abodes of hell
Rear in a single night,—such witness would

Have terror-stricken been, beyond a doubt.
Enoch.I love this work at night—it is well paid.
With my ten children—mortal creatures all—
I 've lived upon this platform two full weeks.
A Fifth Workman.
Soon we shall see if Oliver will do
As it is meet he should, and for the throne
Will with the scaffold pay.
Tom. Will with the scaffold pay. For Master Barebones,
For the upholsterer alone, not us,
Th' affair is profitable. He supplies
These curtains and these chairs and these brocades,
And of our wages takes at least three-fourths.
Nahum.A money-changer of the Temple he!
Fifth Workman.A Mede!
Fourth Workman. A Mede! Nay, rather a true son of Eve,
Who blindly walks upon the sword's sharp edge!
Nahum.And who, a mighty buttress of the arch,
Of Babel's tower a pillar and support,
Doth plant one foot in hell and one in Heav'n!
Tom.Hush! should he learn that we do him decry
As he his master, he'd have none of us.
Hold we our peace; he comes.

[Enter Barebones. All the workmen silently resume their labours. Nahum alone stands without moving, his eyes fixed on the old worn Bible that he holds in his hand.

Scene 2.—The Same, Barebones.

Barebones [after a glance at his men.
Ah! this goes well.
[To the Workmen.
I am content with you. In very truth
There 's nought remains to do.

[Aside.] …nought remains to do. I am o'erjoyed
That they have finished this infernal task
Thus early. Now our friends, who 'll soon be here.
Can undisturbed and without witnesses,
Take counsel, look about, and so decide
How Noll may be most surely stricken down
In all his joy. How fortunate it is
That I 'm upholsterer to th' Antichrist,
And so may enter without obstacle
The outlawed tyrant's palace! I must e'en
Dismiss them all, at once.
[Aloud, to the Workmen.
Dismiss them all, at once. My brethren all,
Against the tempter ever be on guard,
And love your neighbor, wicked though he be.
[To the Master Workman.
Good Master Nehemiah!

[The Master Workman approaches Barebones, while the Workmen pick up their tools, and lamps and ladders.

Good Master Nehemiah! You must needs
Finish this cuirass of Toledo leather,
Immediately for my lord Protector,
Whom God defend!
[In an undertone, putting his lips to the man's ear.
Whom God defend! The leather that remains,
Far from all eyes, you'll fashion into sheaths
For our saints' daggers.

[The Master Workman bends his head in assent, and exit, accompanied by all the Workmen.

Scene 3.—Barebones, alone.

[He takes his stand, as if in contemplation, beforethe throne.
Barebones.Behold the throne! abominable structure,

Whereon doth Oliver in sacrifice
To Nesroch offer us; whereon that chief,
So many years blest, doth to a king
Transform himself; whereon the serpent old,
Grown young again, eftsoon will change his skin!
Thereon he reckons to affirm his empire,
This counterfeit Zerubbabel in whom
Nimrod doth live again; this priest of hell,
This poisoner, who to his own base ends
Doth prostitute the church of God, and seeks,
In the dark schemes his pride doth aye contrive,
To make of the saints' spouse his concubine;
This foe of God, whom his own soul betrayed;
This man who is, in sooth, a greater knave
Than Shethar-Boznai!—Yon 's his unclean throne,
With curses overladen!—There it stands:
Six feet in height and nine in width, and all
With crimson velvet covered. Full ten bales
Were used to drape it thus.—'Tis not enough
For this usurping son of blasphemy
To wield a power stol'n from God himself;
To trample Israel like a dried reed;
And, greedy, grasping giant that he is,
Prone upon Europe, and more powerful
And threatening than Adonizebec,
To have beneath his table sixty kings,
Feeding upon the crumbs that fall therefrom!
No, he must have a throne. And such a throne!
A mass of fringes, satins, damasks, plumes,
Whereon the sculptor's art and lapidary's
Are joined, as of the lampad it was said!
And with this tinsel Cromwell would himself
Encompass round about.—Tinsel I say,
But 'tis good, honest gold,—ay, virgin gold
Of Hungary.—And yonder tassels, too,

Of four republics the expense would pay.
'Twas I who furnished them; were they less heavy,
Their paltry splendour would the velvet mar—
Right Spanish velvet!—Let him reign, forsooth,
But let him die upon this spot, that so
The crown his dying hour may adorn!
We'll try upon his brow the nail of Sisera.—
[He looks at the cushions of the throne.
Velvet for which I paid five crowns the yard!—
According to the good old custom, I
Resell for ten. A goodly customer,
Nathless, this Ehud. But his avarice!—
He's nigh unto his death. These royal steps
Will break beneath his feet, 'neath this proud dais,
Ay, 'neath these very hangings, whereupon
His arms plebeian do a crown usurp.
How excellent this place to strike him down!

[He walks to and fro in front of the throne, and his expression changes from rage to admiration for the splendour of its decorations.

But still he's capable of chaffering!
Of bidding Maynard to curtail my bill!
Clipping the cloth of gold, and crying down
The priceless silk! And if I dare complain,
In his good faith he lends his men of war
To aid his men of law. These Pharaohs!
Serve them who will. Always ingratitude
Is the first impulse of their stony hearts.
And yet he should be well content with me:
To parody the royal majesty,
This odious throne, this horrifying stage,
This impure altar—they are all superb!—
In truth, I spared not. I resigned myself
To decorate this Moloch, and expose
To all the risks anathema entails

My Turkish carpets and Bohemian leather.—
The Jebusite! Death!
[As if suddenly struck with an idea.
The Jebusite! Death! Ay, but who will pay,
When he's not here? The august Deborah
Left not her nail within the sinner's head;
Samson risked nought, when from its somnolence
His strength awoke refreshed and overthrew
A temple of his enemies; and Judith,
She who the sleeping Holofernes slew,
Fled from the bloody feast, still richly clad,
And saved her head nor lost a single gem.
But who will me indemnify? What profit
Will compensate my loss in Cromwell's death?
Is 't not my bounden duty to bequeath
A competence to her I leave behind?
Meseems the question 's novel in this form.
I'll think on't.—Ah! our worthy friends the saints.

[Enter the Puritan conspirators, Lambert at their head. All are enveloped in huge cloaks; they wear tall cone-shaped hats whose very broad brims are turned down over their gloomy and threatening faces. They walk slowly, as if lost in absorbing thoughts. Several seem to be mumbling prayers. Dagger-hilts gleam beneath their cloaks, which are partly open.

Scene 4.—Barebones, Lambert, Joyce, Overton, Plinlimmon, Harrison, Wildman, Ludlow, Syndercomb, Pimpleton, Palmer, Garland, Pride, Jeroboam d'Emer, and other Roundhead conspirators.

Lambert [to Barebones.] Well, friend?

[Barebones makes no other reply than to point to the throne and the royal decorations, at which the conspirators cast angry glances. Lambert turns toward the assemblage and continues solemnly.

Well, friend? You see. Still faithful to his plan,
Cromwell pursues his course nefarious.
Westminster's all in readiness; the stage
Is reared, and yonder see the steps whereon
The cringing Parliament will drag its oath
Unto the feet of a King Oliver!
Now let us seize the instant that remains,
And act; now let us try this other king.
His crime is clear as day: this is his throne!
Overton.Nay, 'tis his scaffold: he'll ascend to it
That he may fall the farther. By himself
Is his last hour appointed, my good friends.
May all this pomp from tombs of kings evoked
Become his funeral pomp, and may out daggers
Send his shade hence to-day to join the shade
Of Stuart!—See: concealment's at an end!
The hypocritic despot doth exhume,
To serve his ends, the outlawed royalty;
And from the hands of Charles to take the sceptre
All stained with blood, doth fumble in the tomb
To which our hands consigned him. Cromwell dares
To steal the crown e'en from the sepulchre.
God grant that thither it return again,
And carry Cromwell with it in its fall.
And if another dares to reign alone,
May the king's mantle ever be a shroud!
Lambert [aside.]He goes too far.
Overton [continuing.] …too far. Be he anathema!
All. Anathema!
Overton. Anathema! All things conspire with us,
And Cromwell with the rest. 'Tis so, my friends,

This Cromwell 's by his fortune stricken blind;
As 'twere an Attila made by a Machiavel.
Did he himself not aid us, our vain wrath
Would spend itself in efforts profitless
To undermine his power 'mongst the people.
'Tis he alone who hath himself undone
By understanding not that he hath changed
The ground whereon his feet were wont to rest;
That from his natal soil if he comes forth,
'Tis but to die; and that, when he is king,
No longer is he more than a mere man.
As one who 's dead, he doth expose himself
To blows from every side. The multitude,
His bulwark once, comes now to swell our ranks;
Alone he signs the fatal ordinance
That sunders them. In giving us the people
He gives to us the source of his great power.
Oppressed, downtrodden, they are fain to be,
But always in accordance with the law,
By a protector, never by a king.
To a plebeian tyrant in good time
The people may become enured. Though he
Were wickeder than Herod, Oliver
As lord protector seems to them to be
The only man whose uncrowned brow can bear
The ever-varying burden of the state.
But let that brow assume the diadem,
And all is changed; no longer is he aught
In this good people's eyes, who love him well,
Save a king's head, the headsman's destined spoil.

All [except Lambert, and Barebones, who, since the arrival of the conspirators, has seemed absorbed in deep thought.

Well said.
Joyce.Our swords to-day have left their scabbards;

Reeking may they return, and to the hilt
Bathed in a king's blood for the second time!
Pride.At Westminster doth Cromwell seek his tomb!
Of his disloyal sect, to hell foredoomed,
The high priest he; he fain would be its idol.
Let him upon the altar, all prepared
For his own festival, be sacrificed!
Ludlow. If he doth place the crown upon his head,
Wolsey and Goffe and Skippon, officers
Of his own guard, will join with us and strike.
Nought can him save from our avenging blades.
Fleetwood, his son-in-law, and Desborough,
His sister's husband, will not interfere;
For, steadfast in the faith, republicans
In heart and soul, they love him better dead
Than king.
Harrison. Than king. To Desborough and Fleetwood, then,
All honour! Their stout hearts of childish fears
And woman's sympathy no knowledge have!

Garland [who has remained silent hitherto, his eyes fixed on the first rays of the rising sun.

Ne'er did so fair a sunrise greet my eyes.
Ah! what a victim we shall smite to-day!
Ne'er have I known such pride and wondrous joy
In feeling that I go where God doth send me;
Neither when Strafford, bowing to our will,
Did place his head between the blessed axe
And consecrated block; nor when died Laud,
More hateful he, th' infernal meteor
Of the Star Chamber, sacrilegious priest,
Who toward the East his temple altar turned,
That temple wherein Bethel was reborn,—
And, virulent reviler of our Sabbath,

With gaming did debase the day of prayer;
Nay, nor when Stuart, all vainglorious
Of his time-honoured rights, the blazonry
Of kings mistook for rays from God on high,
With his superb and ancient royalty,
Knelt down before the people's keen-edged axe!
In each of them, methought, as it is writ,
That we had sacrificed the Antichrist
In mortal guise; but now, to-day, I see,
That 'tis in Cromwell that triumphant Zion
Strikes down at last that fatal parasite,
And from the steps of his unfinished throne
Doth hurl him back to Tophet, whence he came,
Spewed forth by Satan! Ah! the glorious day!
Goliath, England's bugbear, to cast down
From his great height, face downward, to the earth!
Syndercomb.A noble dagger-thrust to deal, in sooth!
Pride.What honour for the saints who are to fight
The battles of the Lord!
Joyce [pointing to the throne.] Now may his blood
Pour forth in rivers on this purple where
Our nets await!

[At these words Barebones, who has listened in silence hitherto, starts as if moved by a sudden cause of unrest.

Barebones [striking himself on the forehead, aside.
Our nets await! 'Tis true! Where are my wits?
Past question, with their blood they 'll mar my throne!
And then what shall I do? The stuff will lose
One-fifth in value.
[Aloud, after a moment's thought.
One-fifth in value. On my heart your words
Fall sweet as balm. The humblest member I

Of this community; but hearken, brethren:—
In due compliance with the sacred texts,
You seek to poniard Cromwell. But, I pray,
Is it within the law? Remember Malchus,
Whose ear lopped off was cause that Peter's sword
Was by our Lord accurst. And are we not
Forbidden, in the Lord Almighty's name,
To smite with the keen blade, and blood to shed?
If aught of doubt hereon your minds retain,
Open to chapter nine of Genesis,
And thirty-five of Numbers.
[An outburst of surprise and indignation among the Roundheads.
Joyce. And thirty-five of Numbers. Who speaks thus?
Ludlow.I pray you, Barebones, what has cooled your zeal?
Garland.You wish to spare the Antichrist?
Barebones [stammering.] …are the Antichrist? Nay, nay,—
I say not that—
Syndercomb. I say not that—Are you a faithless brother?
Harrison.Are we brigands, for condemnation fit—
Overton. Assassins? Killing 's not assassination.
Before the altar whereupon there glows
A purified white flame, the unclean goat
Becomes a consecrated sacrifice,
The butcher is transformed to sacrificer.
By Samuel was Agag slain, by us
The Lord Protector. We are ministers
Of the Most High and of this English people.
Joyce [to Barebones.]From your dark glance no good did I forebode.—
You would save Cromwell. That's the whole of it!
Barebones.Great Heaven! Barebones shelter Attila!

Syndercomb [with a wrathful glance at Barebones.
A Perrizite is he, or at the least
A Zoroastrian!
Garland. A Zoroastrian! What is the source
Of this ill-omened sympathy for Cromwell?
Barebones.To shed his blood is to infringe the law.
Syndercomb [striking him on the shoulder.
Must not this monarch's purple cloak be dyed?
Pride.Barebones is mad!
Wildman. Barebones is mad! Brother, dost thou draw back?
Ludlow [shaking his head.
Treasons there be that masquerade as scruples.
Barebones [alarmed.]You cannot think—
Syndercomb [to Barebones, in a rage.] Silence!
Garland [to Barebones.] …Silence! Hast thou by chance
Drunk of the Dead Sea water?
Harrison. Drunk of the Dead Sea water? He upholds
Overton. Belshazzar! Can it be that you have come,
Another Achan, to our peaceful vales,
To vex the calm of the abandoned tribes?
Pride.I know not Barebones thus!—May it not be
A demon hath his features taken on
To succour Ammon-Cromwell?
Garland. To succour Ammon-Cromwell? So it is!—
I had last night an evil dream; 'twas this—
Syndercomb [drawing his dagger.
Let us subject his magic to the test of steel!

[Seeing the flash of the blade, Barebones, who has not made himself heard, shouts louder.

Barebones.But listen!
Lambert. But listen! Speak.
Barebones [in terror.] …Speak. My friends, I have no wish
To save the English Ehud from a death
Too well deserved; nathless, he may be slain

Without an act of sacrilege,—by cord,
By bludgeon or by poison—what you will.
Syndercomb [sheathing his dagger.
'Tis well!
Garland [pressing Barebones's hand.
'Tis well! Go to! I did not hear aright.
Wildman [to Barebones.]It gives me joy to see thee once again
Inspired by goodly sentiment, my friend.
Overton [to Barebones.]Although the shedding blood 's a heinous sin,
We have not time to kill him properly.
Barebones [yielding with bad grace.
So be it, stab the villain, if you will.
[Aloud.]But 'tis deplorable!
Garland. But 'tis deplorable! The sword of Judith
Is brother to the knives that him will smite.
Their place in Heaven's arsenal awaits them.
Brethren, let us give thanks to the Lord God.
'Tis He who doth dispense us from the aid
Of the vile cavaliers. Their furtherance
Would mar the work and blemish our renown.
But God, who doth reserve the victory
For us alone, confounding the designs
Of Ormond and of Oliver, doth toss
Ormond to Cromwell, Cromwell to the Saints.
All [brandishing their daggers.
The Lord be praised!
Lambert. The Lord be praised! My friends, the moments fly,
The people soon will flock to Westminster.
Suppose we are surprised?
Overton [to Joyce, in an undertone.
Suppose we are surprised? Always afraid
Is Lambert!

Lambert. Is Lambert. Let us not be lulled to sleep
In false security. Why do we pause?
Let 's hasten to the end.
Syndercomb. Let 's hasten to the end. We must strike home
Where Cromwell in his armour hath a flaw.
Lambert.But where?—and when?—and how?
Overton. But where?—and when?—and how? Listen, my friends.
Standing amongst the actors or spectators,
Let us be all attentive to the rite,
Holding our daggers ever in our hands.
First we shall hear great orators galore,
Harangues of preachers and of aldermen;
Then Cromwell, seated on his fleeting throne,
From Warwick will the purple cloak receive,
The sword from the Lord Mayor, and the seals
From Whitelocke; and, to fetter him still more,
The Bible with gold clasps from Widdrington;
Lastly, from Lambert he will take the crown.
'Tis the decisive moment. Let us then
Surround him, and whenas upon his brotr
The unclean gem shall gleam, then let us strike!
Lambert. Amen! But who will strike the first blow?
Syndercomb. Amen! But who will strike the first blow? I!
Wildman. I! I!
Overton. I! I! The honour should of right be mine.
Garland.I claim it. I have blessed this sword of mine,
The better to ensure my aim at Noll.
Harrison.I will begin. My dagger owes a blow
To the old poisoner for every name
Of the Lord God; and for a fortnight past
My arm hath trained itself for sterner work
By smiting lustily a waxen Cromwell.

Ludlow.Of such a blow the glory is immense;
And I can well believe that each of us
Doth crave that glory for himself alone.
And I—if e'er my constant prayers besought
From Heav'n some signal witness of its favour,
The honour 'twas of striking Cromwell down
With my own hand. Would that my sons might say
Of their progenitor: "He overthrew
The power of the Stuarts and of Cromwell;
And twice did Ludlow slaughter tyranny!"—
But this same Ludlow, loyal citizen,
Doth place the welfare of his fellowmen
Before his own. Lambert holds highest rank
Among us. Bearer of the crown, he 'll be
Upon the platform and thereby best placed
To strike unerringly.
Lambert [alarmed, aside.] What doth he mean?
Ludlow.At such a moment, it most seemly is
That to the public welfare every man
Should sacrifice himself. So follow me.
Ludlow his claim abandons and entrusts
The honour of the blow to General Lambert.
Lambert [aside.]Who asks him so to do? He murders me!
'Tis my undoing!
Pride. 'Tis my undoing! Good! so let it be:
To Ludlow's reasoning I give assent.
Syndercomb.I sacrifice myself,
I sacrifice… [To Lambert.]And you shall strike.
Lambert [in a faltering voice.
My friends, this honour doth console me much
In my affliction—
In my aff… [Aside.]Direful quandary!
Wildman [to Lambert.
You will strike Cromwell down! how blest are you!

Garland.Like the archangel, Satan you 'll attack!
Lambert [embarrassed.
I am confused—
Overton [to Joyce, in an undertone.
I am confused—Mark how his colour changes!
Joyce [to Overton, in an undertone.
The coward!
Lambert [continuing.] I am happy—
The coward! I am…[Aside.]Nay, despairing!
What shall I do? That Ludlow!
What shall I do? That… [Aloud.]Such a choice
Doth greatly honour me; my heartfelt joy
I cannot well express.
Overton [to Joyce, in an undertone.
I cannot well express. He's pale with it!
Lambert [continuing.
Garland [to Lambert.
But— May the God of them who fear no peril
Himself make manifest through you!
Syndercomb [to Lambert.] …manifest through you! Your part
Will be as simple as 'tis glorious.
[He goes upon the platform and points to the great chair.
Here Cromwell takes his seat—or Nabo, rather,
For he and Nabo have of all time been
A single devil.
[He steps forward and points to the place where Lambert is to stand.
A single devil. Here you take your stand.
Lambert [aside.]There is no help!
Syndercomb [continuing his demonstration.
There is no help! And you can easily,
Putting aside his cloak, the while you give
The crown, drive home the knife. I envy you.

Lambert [to Syndercomb.
My friend, fraternally I yield to you
The privilege of striking the first blow.
Ludlow [hastily, to Lambert.
No, you must do the work, for you alone
Will stand where you can strike with certainty.
To Syndercomb the duty to entrust
Would be to risk the failure of the plan.
Lambert [persisting.
But I am the least worthy—
Overton. But I am the least worthy—What is this!
Doth Lambert hesitate?
Lambert [aside.] …bert hesitate? Courage, my friend!
[Aloud.]I'll do it.
All [brandishing their daggers.
I'll do it. Death to the Amalekite!
To Cromwell, death!
Barebones [beseechingly.] I pray you, list to me!
While from a false king setting Israel free,
While slaying Cromwell, do not spoil this throne!
This velvet's very dear—ten crowns the ell.

[At these words all the Puritans recoil, with scandalized glances at Barebones. He continues, heedless of their attitude.

And when you strike, pray, spare these curtains, too!
See to it that he falls upon his back,
If it be possible, so that the blood
Of this unmasked Moloch may not flow
More than need wills on my Aleppo carpet.
[Explosion of wrath among the conspirators.
Syndercomb [looking askance at Barebones.
Who is this publican?
Pride. Who is this publican? Barebones again!
Garland.Methinks I hear Nebuchadnezzar speak.
Wildman [to Barebones.

Hast never learned the parable of Dives?
Ludlow.We give our lives, the while yon count your crowns!
Overton [laughing.]'Tis even so. Cromwell's upholsterer,
To save his velvet, calling upon Heav'n,
Doth in God's keeping place his merchandise!
Garland.Such purposes to mingle in one prayer
Is to evoke the sluggish lightning's rage.
Wildman.It is most damnable Erastianism!
Barebones.Alas! that is the fitting word, in truth.
[Aloud.]Permit me to explain. Doth one become
A rebel 'gainst his God, and traitorous
To the republic, if he not contemns
The worldly goods that in his loving-kindness
The Lord doth give to man, whose day on earth
Is but a span,—the earthly recompense
Accorded to the flesh?
[Pointing to the throne.]Ten cubits high
Is yonder throne, from base to canopy.
May I not well regret the costly things?
All I possess is here.

Harrison [gazing covetously at the gorgeous decorations indicated by Barebones.] In very truth,

'Tis beautiful!—I had not well observed it.
These tassels are pure gold! Look, Syndercomb.
This brocade-covered chair alone is worth
A thousand jacobuses.
Barebones. A thousand jacobuses. At the least!
Harrison [to Syndercomb.
What sayest thou?
Syndercomb [devouring the chair with his eyes.
What sayest thou? What booty!
Barebones [trembling.] …thou? What booty! What said he?
Syndercomb [to the other conspirators.

Brethren, the God who furthers our designs
Doth give unto his saints all this world's goods.
So this is ours. When Cromwell 'neath our blows
Has fallen, we may share his earthly spoils.
Barebones.Not so! Great Heav'n! my cloth of gold, my silks!
Syndercomb.Of Liban's eagles is the golden calf
The lawful prey!
Barebones. The lawful prey! Eagles! Say, rather, crows!
Wouldst thou—
Overton [separating them.] My friends, first let us strike the blow;
Then we will settle our accounts.
All. Then we will settle our accounts. Amen!
Barebones [aside.]Damnation! They are pirates—nothing less!
Their aim is pillage! Brigands! ingrates, all!
To Sion they will force me to be false!
Divide my goods amongst them all! Damnation!

[Barebones goes apart from the conspirators and seems absorbed by bitter reflections.

Overton [to the Roundheads, who gather about him.
Awaiting the glad hour when Israel,
Upon his throne, shall battle hand-to-hand
Against the King of Babylon, my brethren,
And raise, through us, 'gainst Oliver the First
The standard with the palm-tree and the harp,
Let six of us take station in the hall.
Of the body-guard.
All. Of the body-guard. 'Tis well.
Overton [continuing.] …ard. 'Tis well. And twelve will stand
Before the halberdiers, their daggers hidden,
Upon the steps where Richard once bestowed
The spur on Norfolk; in the Court of Aids
Four more, and four within the Court of Wards.

The others, scattered here and there amongst
The chapels of the old Plantagenets,
Stuarts, and Tudors, guarding staircases
And blocking corridors,—and whether fortune wills
That Oliver do win or lose the day,
Ready to close the way to him at need,
Or open it to us,—will by their words
Foster the flame that smoulders sullenly
Amid the mournful, gloomy multituide,
And, sharpening the chosen people's wrath,
Of the volcano hasten the eruption.
All [except Barebones, waving their daggers.
May Dathan and Abiron be consumed therein!

Garland [falling on his knees in the midst of the Puritans, and holding his dagger over his head.

O God, who dost create the tiny worm,
And the leviathan, we pray to thee,
In thy all-seeing goodness, to promote
Our holy enterprise. To manifest
Thy power, whereof men speak despitefully,
Grant that this dagger may come reeking forth
From Cromwell's breast. Guide thou our blows, O Lord!
O merciful, and just, and clement Lord!
That so thy foes to slaughter may be doomed.
Since we do witness thus our faith in Thee,
O may thy flaming sword and tongues of fire
Gleam in our hands and on our brows, O God!

[He rises, and the Puritans, standing for some time with bowed heads, seem to pray with him.

Barebones [aside.] The abomination doth possess their minds.—
Divide my goods!
Lambert. Divide my goods! My friends, the hour has passed.
Let us go hence.

Let us … [Aside.]How can I strike that blow?
Ludlow.Let's say no more, but strike. Let the accurst
Now settle his account with the elect!

[All the conspirators, except Barebones, march off the stage with the same processional solemnity with which they entered.
[As Lambert is about to cross the threshold, Overton grasps his arm and detains him.

Scene 5.—Lambert, Overton, Barebones.

[Throughout this scene, Barebones, apparently lost in painful thought is hidden from his companions by the platform of the throne.

Overton.Lord General.
Lambert. Lord General. How now?
Overton. Lord General. How now? One word, an 't please you.
Lambert.I hear.

[They return to the front of the stage and stand for a moment face to face, Lambert in the silence of expectation, Overton as if he could not decide in which directon to explode.

Overton. I hear. Is your hand sure?
Lambert. I hear. Is your hand sure? D'ye doubt it?
Overton. I hear. Is your hand sure? D'ye doubt it? Ay.
Lambert [haughtily.]Sirrah!
Overton. Sirrah! Nay, listen:—To lay Cromwell low,
We place the sword of Israel in your hand.
You we have chosen to tear away the veil
And of this ghastly drama cut the knot.
But you with terror at your heart received
The honour Overton would joyfully
Have purchased with his blood. You would have liked
That others should perform your task for you.
I know you well: ambitious, but a coward!

[Lambert makes an indignant gesture. Overton checks him.
Nay, let me speak.—Nought say I of your plans,
Concealed behind an ill-adjusted mask.
I will not say that my eye sees within
Your inmost soul, and that I am aware
Of your shrewd plot—which seems as yet unborn—
Rumbling within the greater common plot:
You purpose, by our hands, to float yourself.
You think—such is the reckoning of your pride—
That we will deign a giant to replace
By an egregious dwarf. You fain would be
The heir of Cromwell. And you falter not
Before the burden that he bears, my friend,
Although 't is something heavy for your shoulders.
I see the hand that grasps and not the arm
That bears the load. Could aught more artless be
Than this fine scheme, wherein you draw the lots
To your own satisfaction? You believe
The people will in all things second you;
As if 'twere ever seen in history
That, when a tyrant's yoke bore heavily
On a free people, 'twas less odious
Because the tyrant was a little man?
Lambert [in a rage.
This insult, Colonel Overton—
Overton. This insult, Colonel Overton—Fear not,
I'll answer to you for it when you will.
But for the moment, an it please you, hear
Through this my voice the stern and homely truth.
You 're not yet king that you should flattered be.
Now, laying aside your dreams of empire,
The spirit moveth me to tell you this.—
You have to strike a blow at which you quail;
Among the witnesses assembled here,

I shall be close beside you. If your hand
Doth falter, if, when Cromwell shall have placed
The crown upon his brow, you smite him not,
And first of all revenge his insolence,
Then I shall be more prompt. See you this knife?
[He points to his dagger.
Failing the other, this will pierce your heart,
While seeking his. And so I leave you now
To choose between two acts of cowardice. [Exit.

Scene 6.—Lambert; Barebones, still at one corner of the stage.

Lambert [trembling with rage and following Overton to the door.
You dare! Audacious knave!—Hark ye—He 's gone.
And on my brow a burning flush of shame
Doth blame this hand for that it was so slow
To punish him!—He 's gone! How shamefully
The traitor did humiliate me! Ah!
To what mad fools my plans have bound me fast!
Alas! what is my fate since I began
To plot? Incessantly forced further back
From the longed-for goal, and threatened with the loss
Of everything when we at last do triumph!
And 'midst a thousand perils overwhelmed
By countless insults! Trampled under foot
By the vile tyrant, slighted by the slaves!
Draw back? into th' abyss! Go forward, then?
O'er molten lava!—Overton or Cromwell!
Victim or executioner!—How now!
He, draw his sword 'gainst me! But he would do it!
That he is capable thereof I know.

I must e'en strike!
Barebones [unseen and unheard by Lambert.
I must e'en strike! This guilty, ghoulish crew
Would plunder me!
Lambert [musing.] …der me! Strike Cromwell 'mongst his friends!
Before his guards! Him, who with benefits
Has overwhelmèd me! Ingratitude!
And if I miss him, by some evil chance?
Barebones [pensively.]To plunder me of capital enough
To found a bank!
Lambert. To found a bank! O thrice accurst ambition!
Thou 'st borne me far too high! Whereas my foot
Did seek the throne, it stumbles o'er the block!
[He walks rapidly to and fro, and glances outside of the palace.
But someone comes. I must be gone. The crowd
Has gathered even now. I'll go and dress
For the great ceremony. [Exit.
Barebones. For the great ceremony. Faithless friends!
So you are envious of my worldly goods!
Ah! Woe to you! to me! to everyone! [Exit.

Scene 7.—Trick, Giraff, Elespuru; afterward Gramadoch.

[The three Jesters enter the great hall by the principal door, glancing at Barebones as he retires.

Trick.'Tis Barebones!
Giraff. 'Tis Barebones! He has not a cheerful air.
Trick. Fanatic! Samuel of the counting-house!
Shop-keeping Jeremiah!
Elespuru. Shop-keeping Jeremiah! He it is
Who Cromwell doth supply with all this splendour.

Trick.He robs him.
Giraff. He robs him. He does more: he murders him.
Trick.And so his thirst for blood and gold alike
Is slaked on Noll; he seeks to take from him
His purse and life together.
Elespuru. His purse and life together. What care we?
Giraff.Where shall we stand?

Trick [pointing to a narrow box behind the throne, in the space between two beams.

Where shall we stand? In yonder gallery.
Elespuru.Yes, it will hold us all.

[They pass under the hangings and reappear a moment later in the gallery.

Trick. Yes, it will hold us all. We are well placed
To see and hear.
Giraff. To see and hear. We shall see wondrous well.
Elespuru [stretching himself out on a cushion, and yawning.
A goodly place to sleep on either ear!
I need it sorely.—Trick, we were great fools
Vigil to keep last night beneath damp branches
And follow that rare drama, scene by scene,
In the open air, at risk of taking cold
And the gutta serena, too—who knows?
Trick.Cromwell will recompense us, never fear,
When he is crowned; for Gramadoch, you know,
Doth promise us a strange and rare conclusion.
Giraff.Eh! Gramadoch! Him we shall see ere long
In all his glory as the train-bearer,
Armed with the ivory wand!
Elespuru. Armed with the ivory wand! Glory, my friends!
For my part, humble jester as I am,
I would not bear the train of Cromwell king!
What shame! by the whole city to be seen
Pulling the devil by the tail!

Trick [singing.

For my part, friends, I must agree
That Oliver Last I'd like to see
And the wise fool, our Gramadoch,
At opposite ends of the same old frock.
For nought could be more droll, i' faith,
In all this solemn mummery,
Than folly to sagacity
Linked by a royal cloak, she saith.

Giraff.If Gramadoch doth nobly bear himself.
He'll seem a fool leading a sage in leash.
Elespuru.The fool will go before!
Trick. The fool will go before! But, prithee, why
Doth Cromwell have a train-bearer?
Elespuru. Doth Cromwell have a train-bearer? Aha!
Trick is a clever wight! 'Tis to prevent
The royal robe from dragging in the mud,
When he sweeps up the hall.
Trick. When he sweeps up the hall. I understand;
The reason seems to me most natural.
But what prevents his pulling Cromwell back?
Giraff.So Ormond would have done!
Elespuru. So Ormond would have done! 'Tis true, but Cromwell
Doth send him to the devil, bare of foot,
A rope about his neck, to make amends.
Giraff.Poor man! Is he already hanged?
Trick. oor man! Is he already hanged? No! no!
Giraff.So much the better! When we've seen the close
Of this most tedious drama, it may be
We shall go hence in time to see him hanged.
We must needs laugh a bit.
Trick. We must needs laugh a bit. My gentle sirs,

We may, meseems, find food for laughter here.
Death at Westminster, too, will play his part.
If I've good eyes, then Cromwell to his ruin
Is marching fast. His fortune, filled with wrath,
At last abandons him. I have but now
Traversed all London. Everywhere one sees
The passers on the street accost each other
With gloomy brow. I heard at Temple Bar
And on the Strand the jealous soldiers roar
At the mere name of king. 'Gainst Oliver
The factions have renewed their former bonds,
Exchanging signals from behind their cloaks.
On every side some threatening peril lurks.
Elespuru.What of the people?
Trick. What of the people? They are looking on.
They're like the leopard watching two wolves fight:
He waits the while each doth the other rend,
Content to have the body of the vanquished
Remain to be devoured by him. In fine,
The mine is dug, and if I do not err,
Here on this spot 'twill burst, 'neath Cromwell's feet.
Giraff [with delight.
Ah! what a tumult will the fools and saints
Together make; they'll hammer with their swords,
And we will clap our hands!
Elespuru [singing.

Oliver, my friend, take heed!
Traitors ever traitors breed.
'Twas perhaps by Satan's seed
That was built this throne.
Death the platform did uprear.
To a pompous splendid bier
Changed it may be soon.

Now some evil eye doth hover
This ill-omened structure over;
False thy star, my son.
Round about this palace dread
Witches in the dark have said
Their mystic ritual.
'Neath these purple trappings gay,
'Neath this spangled canopy,
Ghastly skeletons we'd see
Should the hangings fall;
And on yonder stairway wide
Doth the gorgeous carpet hide
From thy feet, thou regicide,
The gibbet's deathly pall.

Trick and Giraff [applauding.]Most excellent!
Trick. Most excellent! My friends, I've an idea!

[Elespuru and Giraff stand beside Trick, in an attentive attitude.

While Gramadoch, above us, gravely holds
The robe of Cromwell, at the solemn moment,
Before the Parliament, and to the beards
Of the self-satisfied mace-bearing clerks,
We'll make him laugh aloud with our grimaces.
Elespuru [clapping his hands.
Well thought on!
Giraff [capering about the stage.]Good!
A Voice Outside [singing.

When the Abbess averts her eye,
Conceive that her glance doth imply
A lie.
In vain throbs her heart in the place
Of grace;

She gave it long since to Love,
To love.

'Tis none of your relics cold
And old
That she who presides o'er these cells
Love! when one a canoness is,
One allowed but thy name to know?

[Enter Gramadoch.
Trick.Why, 'tis himself! 'tis Gramadoch!
Giraff. [to Gramadoch.] …! 'tis Gramadoch! How now!
What brings thee here to-day?
Trick [to Gramadoch.] … here to-day? Upon this earth
Did ever tail-bearer precede his master?
Gramadoch.To pay his court with pomp and circumstance
To the new king, Lord Roberts' son intrigued
To have my post; and since a noble lord
To be my confrere deigns, I am to-day
An honorary train-bearer, my friends.
Elespuru.A peer's son bear the train of Cromwell's cloak!
Our shame his glory is; he condescends
To envy it! Let's leave him to his task.—
Let me embrace thee, boy! My pride doth thank thee
That thou didst keep the Jesters' honour safe.

[Gramadoch enters the gallery, and his comrades eagerly gather about him.

Giraff.Thy wit was lacking to our merriment.
Trick.Ay, the more fools there be, the more one laughs,

Quoth he. It likes me much that we should be
All four in the same hiding-place, my dears.
Elespuru.When we together are, the Jesters all,
Then joys the gods might envy are toward.
Gramadoch.'Tis what I do enjoy
'Tis what… [Enter Milton.]Here's Master Milton;
Our number is complete.

Scene 8.—The Four Jesters, Milton.

[Milton, attended by his guide, walks slowly onto the stage, and stands for a long time turned toward the throne, in an attitude of gloom and despair.

Milton.It was to be! 'Tis done! E'en to the dregs
I needs must drain the bitter, bitter cup,
Accept the torture, miss no pang thereof,
And see this man made king!—The stage is built.
Before this day is done, he'll have gone down
Into the tomb, or fall'n upon a throne!
Trick [to Gramadoch, in an undertone.
Yon chorister of Satan handily
Doth turn a sermon!
Milton [continuing.] …rmon! Whether he die or reign,
Upon this day of mourning here it is
That Cromwell's bier will open to receive him.
Ah! Cromwell hero immolates himself
For Cromwell king, and for the diadem
The halo lays aside; debasement rare
Of heads the most sublime! He'd fain be king.
He greedily for rank doth give his glory,
His name for a vain title.
Gramadoch [to Trick, in an undertone.
His name for a vain title. Though he has
No mitre on his head, he preaches well.

Milton [continuing.
How difficult it is for me to hate
This archangel, whose name I would have writ
Upon an altar's front! How artfully
The man in whom I joyfully adored
The living truth, did soothe our fears away!
I come to say farewell to thee forever,
Thou doomèd king, thou rebel against God,
And 'gainst the people!—Take the royalty
Of Cæsar and of Guise. The crown is gilding,
The dagger sharpening.

[He withdraws to a corner of the stage, on the side opposite the hiding-place of the Jesters, andstands there like a statue.

Scene 9.—The Same, the Populace; afterward, Willis; then Overton, Syndercomb, and the Puritan Conspirators.

[Enter a crowd of citizens,—men, women, old men,—in Puritan garb. They seem to belong to various trades. Among them can be seen an old discharged soldier.—They rush upon the stage tumultuously; the first call those behind, crying:

This way!
Milton [to his Page.]Who comes?
The Page. Who comes? The people, sir.
Milton [bitterly.] …The people, sir. Ah, yes!
The people! Ever guileless, ever dazzled,
Hither they come to see their destiny
Made a mere toy by others than themselves
Upon a stage adorned at their expense.
First Citizen.No guards as yet!
Second Citizen. No guards as yet! By good hap we're the first.

Third Citizen.Then let us quickly take the better places.

[All take their stand near the throne.—Enter Sir Richard Willis, wrapped in a cloak.

Trick [calling his comrades' attention to Willis and the citizens.
See the good cits, and yonder squinting fellow;
Amid the general anticipation
Another motive guides him: they have come
To see and he to watch. 'Tis the spy, Willis.
Giraff.Wherefore reproach him? Must the wise man feed
On empty words? Spectators of two sorts
They are,—that's all.

[Enter Overton and Syndercomb.—Without speaking, they join the spectators already assembled.

First Citizen [pointing out the platform to his neighhour.
They are,—that's all. Ah! 'twill be beautiful.
Second Citizen.Superb, my friend!
Third Citizen. Superb, my friend! Our Oliver doth not
Do things by halves.
First Woman. Do things by halves. The throne is solid gold!
Second Woman.That fringe is beautiful!
Third Woman. That fringe is beautiful! We shall have games,
And theatres and holidays, at last!
A Tradesman [in the crowd.
A lucky dog is Barebones, on my word!
So much for happening to have a brother
In Parliament!
First Citizen [to the tradesman.] Ay, in the Rump he was
The bare back-bone.
The Tradesman [examining the hangings on a pillar.
The bare back-bone. I' faith he sells them this
For Chinese stuff! The court upholsterer!

If such good fortune to my lot should fall,
I 'd kneel and lay my patent in my Bible.—
He must make money by the hundredweight.
Second Citizen.Long live King Oliver!
First Woman. Long live King Oliver! No more dull sermons!
We shall see balls again.
Second Citizen. We shall see balls again. And races, too.
Third Woman.And actors flouting the high sheriff's men.
Second Woman.And those Egyptians who once came in troops
To Mulberry Gardens to dance sarabands.

The Old Soldier [who has not moved hitherto, stepping toward the women and exclaiming in a voice of thunder:

Peace, women!
[Expressions of surprise among the people.
First Citizen. Peace, women! What! a soldier 't is, methinks.
Second Citizen.What right has he to scold our wives, I pray?
The Soldier [to the Citizens.
Peace, women!
The Citizens. Peace, women! Women, we?
The Soldier. Peace, women! Women, we? Ay, worse than they!
They are poor creatures; ah! but what of you,
Of you who are superior to them
In nought save in your foolish merriment
And senseless laughter?
Overton [bringing his hand down on his shoulder.]
And senseless laughter? Good! my worthy man,
Doubtless you have been most unjustly used;
Like us, after long years of faithful service,
Have been discharged, deprived of your employ?
The Soldier.Much worse than that: he would reign over me!

Overton [to the crowd.
Friends, he is right! In truth, is this the time
To laugh, when God is wroth and Israel weeps?
And when one man, oppressing them who once
Were his protection, seeks t' impose a throne
Upon the weary, overladen people?
When all things tend to augment England's woes?
First Citizen.True. But the soldier's something harsh of speech.
[The crowd gradually increases in size. Enter Nahum the carpenter.
Overton.Brethren, forgive this victim, great of soul,
The outburst of a heart by all this pomp
Embittered; let him mingle his lament
With our dear country's cries, alas! our mother's,
Whose womb is rent to-day by a king's birth!
Third Citizein.A king! that word offends, I know not why.
Second Citizen.All that I thought, this gentleman
Nahum.A king's a tyrant!
Second Citizen. A king's a tyrant! Long live the commonwealth!
Overton.And such a king! Cromwell! a very knave!
What was he yesterday?
The Soldier. What was he yesterday? A soldier.
The Tradesman. What was he yesterday? A soldier. Nay,
A brewer.
Third Citizen. A brewer. From this ghastly festival
Who will deliver us?
First Citizen. Who will deliver us? Who would have said
This thing of Cromwell? He, usurp a throne!
'Tis terrible!
Nahum. 'Tis terrible! He dares to call himself
A king! 'Tis rank impiety!
Second Citizen. A king! 'Tis rank impiety! A crime.

First Citizen.Moreover, royalty has been proscribed.
Overton.You all have equal title to this throne.
First Citizen.'Tis true. Why he more than ourselves, i' faith?
Overton.Hell marks his path. Restore the breed of kings
And the old abuses!
Nahum. And the old abuses! On Jerusalem
Bestow once more its ancient name of Jebus!
Overton.Crush us beneath an execrable throne!
First Woman.Is it not said that he has made a pact
With Satan?
Second Woman. With Satan? Ay, and that his eyes do blaze
At night.
Third Woman. At night. And that he has three rows of teeth.

[The Puritan conspirators enter one by one, except Lambert. They shake hands when they meet and mingle silently with the crowd.

Nahum.The monster, he by St. John heralded.
Second Citizen.He is the beast of the Apocalypse.
The Soldier.Ay.
Overton. Ay. Cromwell brings the nine plagues on our heads.
Nahum.He's an Assyrian!
Overton. He's an Assyrian! Our ills at last
Have reached their climax!
The Tradesman. Have reached their climax! Nothing do I sell!
The Soldier.To go unshod, without a crust, and lie
On the cold ground. Ere long, if this endures,
While Noll his cipher on these pillars hangs,
Nought will remain for us to do, my friends,
Save to make shoe-nails of our useless teeth.
Overton.We shall await his alms about his door.
Nahum.What Cromwell needs is not a gilded throne,

But Haman's gibbet, or Barabbas' cross.
Syndercomb.Death, death to Cromwell!
Willis [amid the crowd.] …romwell! Death!
Milton [starting at Willis's voice, to the Puritan conspirators.
Death, death to Cromwell! Speak lower, pray!
Willis.Death to th' usurper!
The Soldier. Death to th' usurper! Lower? what's the odds?
I'll go and cry: "Death!" at his very door!
Nahum [to the Soldier.
The Lord's decrees are utterèd aloud.
Thy mouth is pure.
The Soldier. Thy mouth is pure. Ay, as thou seest me,
Poor, like a lemon lost upon the strand,
Left naked by the tide of human fortune,
If I can see this child of Sirah slain,
Then shall I die consoled.
Overton [leading him aside and pointing to his dagger.
Then shall I die consoled. We will console,
My brother.

[The Soldier makes a gesture of surprise and delight, which Overton suppresses.

My brother. Hush!

[Enter a detachment of soldiers of Cromwell's regiment, in red uniforms, with breastplates; muskets and halberds over their shoulders.

My brother. Hush! The guard is to be posted;
We must not speak.
[The soldiers force the people back against the sides of the hall.
The Officer [in a loud voice.] Room for the Ironsides
Of England's lion.
[To some citizens whom he pushes back.
Of England's lion. Back! Away with you!
One of the Citizens [to another, in an undertone.

'Tis manifest by their high, lordly air
They're of my Lord Protector's regiment.
[The soldiers form in a double line from the throne to the door.

The Old Soldier [to Overton, in an undertone, pointing to the officer.

These officers of Ahab doublets wear
Of silk!
A Young Sentry [pushing him into the crowd.
Of silk! Stand back, my friend!
Overton [to the Soldier, in an undertone.
Of silk! Stand back, my friend! How rough he is!
These bravos have assumed the tyrant's airs.
Already doth the raw recruit insult
A veteran!
The Soldier [pressing his hand.] Patience!
The Officer [to his men.] …tience! The Holy Ghost
Doth here convoke us. For our general
Let us together pray.
Overton [to the Officer.] …pray. Your general?
Say, rather, for your king.
The Officer. Say, rather, for your king. What! he, our king?
Who dares insult him thus?
Overton. Who dares insult him thus? I.
The Officer. Who dares insult him thus? I. Then, you lie.
The Officer. Nay. Cromwell, king! May the good God forbid!
Overton.He will be king to-day.
The Officer. He will be king to-day. Who says so?

[Enter the Champion of England, in complete armour, on horseback, flanked by four halberdiers who bear before him a banner with the Protector's arms.

Overton. He will be king to-day. Who says so? Look!

Scene 10.—The Same, The Champion of England.

The Old Soldier [to Overton, in an undertone.
Let 's hear what words he 'll fling unto the winds.
The Champion [on horseback, in front of the throne.
Hosannah!—In the name of the living God
I speak.—The most exalted Parliament,
Having by long and constant prayers implored
The blessed guidance of the Holy Spirit,
To put an end at last to all the ills
Of the people and the faith, doth nominate
Oliver Cromwell, and proclaim him king.
[Mutterings in the crowd.
Trick [to his companions, in an undertone.
See how yon psalm-singers are waxing wroth!
The Champion [continuing.]Now if in London, or the kingdoms three,
There be a man, be he or old or young,
Or knight or burgher, who contests the right
Of the said Oliver, we, England's champion,
Do him defy to mortal combat here,
With dagger, axe, sabre, or scimitar;
And we will sacrifice him without grace
Or ransom, and will hang his coat of arms
To this good charger's mane.—If he be here,
Let him but speak, let him arise, and with
His sword make good his words! You all do witness
That I, by sin unstained, throw down this glove,
Ta'en from my good right hand.

[The Champion casts his gauntlet before the people, draws his sword and holds it above his head.

The Banner-Bearer, and the Halberdiers.Hosannah, Lord!

[A silence of stupefaction in the crowd; all eyes are fixed on the gauntlet.

The Champion.Does no one speak?
Overton [aside.] …one speak? Ah! must we hold our peace!
Milton [in a loud voice.
Why but one glove, O champion of England?
Your master should, if such his project be,
Have cast as many gloves as he believes
That he has subjects.
[Signs of approbation in the crowd.
The Champion. That he has subjects. Who is it that speaks?
That blind man?—Stand aside, my worthy man.

[The soldiers force Milton back.—Overton goes up to the Officer who commands the guard, and questions him with a glance.

The Officer [lowering his eyes, and with a gloomy expression.
All goes ill.
Overton [to Syndercomb, in an undertone.
All goes ill. All goes well.
The Champion [looking among the people.
All goes ill. All goes well. Does no one speak?
Overton [to Milton, in an undertone, pressing his hand.
We will send Cromwell here to join his glove.
Milton [aside.]Alas!
The Champion. Alas! I wait.
The Old Soldier [looking at the Champion, aside.
Alas! I wait. Vile cur! proud satellite!
Syndercomb [to Overton, in an undertone.
I know not why I do not punish him.
[He steps toward the gauntlet. Overton detains him.
Overton [to Syndercomb, in an undertone.
Be prudent!

Gramadoch [to his comrades, in an undertone, pointing to the group of Puritan conspirators.

Be prudent! Yonder fools will spoil the game.
If they pick up the glove, a long farewell
To the catastrophe! We must prevent them
From wrecking everything.
Trick. From wrecking everything. But, prithee, how?
[Gramadoch shakes his head with a knowing air.
The Champion [still holding his sword aloft.
So no one doth respond to me?
Gramadoch [leaping down from the gallery into the hall.
So no one doth respond to me? Yes, I!
[Amazement in the crowd.
The Champion [surprised.
Thou dost pick up the glove?
Gramadoch [picking it up.] … the glove? Ay, that I do.
The Champion.Who art thou, pray?
Gramadoch. Who art thou, pray? A dealer in grimaces,
E'en as thou art. Our masks alike deceive.
Mine causes laughter, and thine fear; that's all.
The Champion.
Thou seem'st to me a knave.
Gramadoch. Thou seem'st to me a knave. And thou likewise.
The Champion [to the halberdiers.
A fool.
Gramadoch. A fool. Just so—from taste and theory.
I 'm of the court, in the quality of fool,
As thou hast said.
A Voice in the Crowd.The clown doth risk his neck.
'Tis one of Noll's, four fools.—A daring step!—
Is he a very fool?
Milton. Is he a very fool? What is this folly?
[Loud bursts of laughter in the Jesters' gallery.
Gramadoch.Come! let us take the field.
The Champion. Come! let us take the field. Thou wretched mummer!
Begone, or I will have thee whipped.

Gramadoch. Begone, or I will have thee whipped. Go to!
What haughty scorn! Though like myself thou art
A manikin, less gay is thy grimace.
I say again, Cromwell doth pay us both
To make a little music in this concert,
Where thy voice is the loud church-bell, and mine
The little bell.
The Champion. The little bell. Villain!
Gramadoch. The little bell. Villain! We may, methinks,
Without disgrace, combat for Oliver,
Or 'gainst him; thou his speaking-trumpet art,
And I his train-bearer.
The Champion [angrily.] …train-bearer. What dost thou choose
For weapon?
Gramadoch. For weapon? Weapon?
[He draws his lath.
For weapon? Weapon? Faith! this wooden sword.
[He brandishes it with a warlike air.
'Tis the meet weapon for a man of straw.
On guard, my captain!
[To the crowd.] Battle! battle!
[To the Champion.] Battle! battle! Come!
Let 's see if we can make this joust of ours
A pendant to Dunbar; and if thy sword
Durandal is the peer of my Escalibar!
[To the crowd.
Come you and watch.
[Pointing to Milton.
Come you and watch. Saving yon blind man's wrath,
The contest 'twixt a Falstaff who doth sing,
And a Stentor who doth bellow. Come and see
A buffoon thrash a bravo.
Overton [to Syndercomb, in an undertone.
A buffoon thrash a bravo. This whole scene
To my mind hath a look of pre-arrangement.

Gramadoch [strutting in front of the Champion.
How now, my Champion,—thou falterest?
Thou who wouldst fain uncounted lances break!
I purpose but to grind thee into dust
In two assaults; and afterward thou canst
Pick up the pieces.
The Champion [pointing to Gramadoch.
Pick up the pieces. Guards, arrest this madman!
[The guards surround Gramadoch and seize him.
Gramadoch [struggling with them and laughing in his sleeve.
I am within my right.—The dastard cur!
He is afraid!—If he doth anger me,
I'll bring a writ of quare impedit!
[The Jesters in the gallery applaud, with shouts of laughter.
The Champion [in a solemn voice.
As no one has appeared to contravene
What I have said—no one except a fool
And blind man—I proclaim before the world
Oliver Cromwell of all England King!
The Champion's Attendants.
God save King Oliver!
[Profound silence in the crowd and the detachment of troops.
The Champion. God save King Oliver! Let us ride on.

[Exit slowly with his suite.

Syndercomb [to Overton, in an undertone, pointing to Gramadoch, who is convulsed with laughter.

Yes, yes, 'twas done to entertain the people.
Overton [in the same tone, pointing to the thunderstruck crowd.
Their aspect's threatening; they have nought to say.

Scene 11.—The Populace.

Voices in the Crowd.
Old Noll is very late!—When will he come
From Whitehall, think you?—Thus to wait and wait
Is tedious.—

[Bells begin to ring madly. Distant reports of cannon at regular intervals.

Is tedious.—Silence! do you hear the bells?
The cannon?—He is coming.—Will he pass
Through the Old Bailey?—No, through Piccadilly.—
Great Heaven! see the crowd upon the square!—
You'd say 'twas the whole city.—See the heads
Below, and heads above! a swarming mass.—
Although 'tis very hot, there's not a tile
Upon the roofs, nor in the streets a stone,
That's not surcharged with ill-assorted faces.—
I know of windows at high prices let.—
Cromwell to see! to see a human face!
These Babylonians are downright mad.—
God help me! I am suffocating! Ah!—
Look! the procession's entering the square.—
At last!—

[Commotion in the crowd. All eyes turn eagerly toward the main door.

At last!—Who's at the head?—'Tis Major Skippon.—
Skippon?—A gallant soldier, well renowned!—
At Worcester he was the first of all
To cross the Severn on the bridge of boats.—
The Saints that day their long swords wielded well!—
Less well than January thirtieth
At Whitehall!—Man! thou say'st it in a tone
That doth invite assassination.—Peace!

I did but laugh.—Be still!—Laughter's not speech.—
Were I not stifling, I would strangle thee!—
Hush! the Lord Mayor comes.—

[Enter the Lord Mayor, with the Aldermen, Common Council, Sergeants, etc., all in their robes of office.—They halt at the left of the large door.

Hush! the Lord Mayor comes.—Mark in the line
Worshipful Master Pack, the alderman,
Whom Noll, to compliment the city did,
All with a wooden staff, make belted knight.
He rides his rank as 'twere a hobby-horse.—
'Twas on his motion that they made this Pilate king.—

[Enter the Judges in procession. They take their places at the top of the steps at the rear of the hall.

Aha! the Barons in their scarlet robes!
Huzza! Lord Hale! And Sergeant Wallop, too!—
Look at the colonels riding by.—How now!
Are there not guards enough who serve for pay?
The corporations in their robes form lines
To keep the people back.—Old Noll's a tyrant!
Noll's a usurper!—Ay, a Titan he,
Who fain would scale the walls of highest Heav'n!
Force is this Enceladus's sole claim.
He not ascends the throne, he escalades it.—
Peace, peace, thou Oxford runaway! Observe
This pedant! on my word, he's talking Latin!—
I have the right, upon his curule chair,
To curse this Appius!—He thinks, forsooth,
That Cromwell can be murdered with a rod!—
An Usher [dressed in black, appearing in the doorway.
Room for the Parliament!

[Enter the Commons, in two lines, headed by the Speaker, before whom march the mace-bearers, ushers, clerks, and sergeants-at-arms.—The crowd watches closely.—While they take their seats in the front rows of the benches at the rear, the conversations in the crowd continue.

Voices in the Crowd. Room for the Parliament! Ah! What's the name
Of Mr. Speaker?—'Tis Sir Thomas Widdrington,
I think.—A comely man, in sooth.—A Judas!
Overton [to Wildman, in an undertone.
The people have their animosities.
You see that no one cries: "God save the Commons!"
Wildman [to Overton.]May God confound them! One and all are sold
To the usurper. Belatucadrus
And Cromwell they adore.

Trick [glancing over the assemblage from the gallery where the Jesters are installed.

And Cromwell they adore. The aldermen—
The courts—the Parliament—yes, all the gods
Of poor old England—all of them are here!
Giraff.Amusing gods!
Elespuru. Amusing gods! What say you to them, brothers?
Giraff.They're gods by the same token that we're fools.
Trick.I long to see the tempest burst upon
This solemn-faced Olympus.
Giraff. This solemn-faced Olympus. Yes, and I,
Good Trick; my errant fantasy, like thine,
Doth pandemonium to the pantheon

Elespuru [pointing to Gramadoch, who is still in a corner of the hall, guarded by four halberdiers, and is going through all sorts of contortions.

Prefer. See, Gramadoch is making signs.
Gramadoch [making wry faces at his comrades.
Ha! hum!
[The Jesters roar with laughter.
Elespuru. Ha! hum! His jesting went a bit too far.
Trick.However will he extricate himself?
Giraff.What matters it to us?
Elespuru. What matters it to us? We had our sport,
'Tis true; and for the moment that's enough.

An Usher [from the balcony of a wide gallery, richly decorated, in front of the throne.

My Lady, the Protectress!

[All the officers of the city rise, uncover, and bow low to the Protectress, who appears, attended by her four daughters, each dressed according to her own ideas. The Protectress, Mistress Fleetwood, and Lady Claypole, in black, with jet ornaments; Lady Falconbridge in full court dress, mantle of gold brocade, skirt of ginger-coloured velvet embroidered with Venetian scorpions, the ruff and coronet of a peeress. Frances in a white guaze dress, with silver stripes. The Protectress responds with a reverence to the salutation of the Lord Mayor and aldermen; then she and her daughters seat themselves at the front of the gallery. Back of them are the women of their households.

Trick [to the other Jesters.
Egad! 'tis fortunate, upon my word,
That face assumes not yet the name of queen.
A Soldier [looking up at the Jesters' gallery.
Peace, idiots!
Trick [with a sneer.] Give me a warrior bold
To preach of peace!

[The soldier makes a threatening gesture; Trick resumes his seat, shrugging his shoulders.—As Cromwell's family entered, there was a great commotion in the assemblage, and all eyes were fixed on the wide gallery.

Voices in the Crowd.
'Tis the Protectress!—She looks dull enough!—
The daughter of one Bourchier.—She dreams
A pleasant dream.—But who is the young Eve
At her right hand?—This one?—No, that.—'Tis Lady Frances.—
His daughter?—Yes.—Has old Noll five or six?—
No, four. You see them all.—The youngest miss
Is beautiful.—Ah me! how hot it is!—
How one is crushed!—The crowd increases still.—
We're packed as closely as the sons of hell
Equal in number to the grains of sand.—
The birds are fortunate that they have wings.—
Some one is trampling me!
[Suddenly a cannon booms on the square near Westminster.
Syndercomb [to the conspirators, in an undertone.
Some one is trampling me! Aha! He comes!

[A second report. Great commotion in the square. Murmurs of anticipation in the hall.
Overton [to the conspirators, in an undertone.

Ye faithful, to your stations.

[The conspirators mingle with the crowd, forming an irregular line to the throne. The reports follow at regular intervals. Fanfares of trumpets and loud acclamations. The city officials go to meet the Protector.
Voices in the Crowd. …your stations. There he is!—

'Tis he!—Oh! let me look!—Himself!—Ah!—Oh!—
The Achan of the nations!—Pharaoh Necho!—

He rides alone.—He's looking at his watch.—
The Mayor and the sheriffs go to meet him.—
Sir, you can see—tell me how he is dressed?—
Black velvet.—Friend, your elbow's very sharp.—
The Mayor speaks to him.—The carriage stops.—
Now he's haranguing him.—He nods his head.—
The Mayor hands him a petition which
He passes to Lord Broghill.—Is the Mayor
Still speaking?—Still!—But will he ne'er have done?—
He's almost kneeling.—Holofernes' eunuch!
He always talks, whoe'er it be who rules.—
Now the Protector answers him. Hark! hark!—
Ay, let us listen!—Woe betide the man!
The wolf is preaching to the lambs!—At Dunbar
Noll's beard was more dishevelled.—He alights.—
Where goes he?—To the chapel, there to pray
To God.—Rather, to hell!—See how he walks
Surrounded by his Ironsides!—In vain
Is that precaution! for his body-guards
Are ill-content to guard a king.—Hush! hush!—
Again we wait!—What think you of his aspect?—
He's gloomy.—Cheerful.—Dull.—Majestic.—Aged.—
Nay, he's fatigued.—The sun did discommode him.—
Methinks he has the gout.—The master doth
Offend my eyes, by his eight horses drawn.
'Tis carting dung in a triumphal car.—
Now he returns. Ah! to Westminster Hall!—
There is his sword-bearer, and train-bearer.—
The rev'rend minister with his blue cloak.—
Is it not Lockyer?—Yes.—The palace clerks,
The sergeants and the pages and the varlets.—
On horseback the Lord Mayor goes before

His carriage, sword uplifted and head bare.—
Cruel usurper! Airs of the former kings!—
Here's death to Oliver the Last!—Pray let
Me look, good master halberdier!—He's here!

[Cromwell, surrounded by his court, appears on the threshold of the great door.—A quiver of excitement runs through the crowd. The whole assemblage rises and stands uncovered, in a respectful attitude.—The Protector is in black velvet, without cloak or sword. His retinue forms a gleaming half-circle of gold and steel a short distance behind him. Nearest the Protector, in front, is the Lord Mayor, with uplifted sword; behind him is Lord Carlisle, also with uplifted sword. In the retinue can be seen Generals Desborough and Fleetwood, Thurloe, Stoupe, the Secretaries of State, and the private secretaries of the Closet, Richard Cromwell, Hannibal Sesthead, with his array of gold brocade, pages and Danish hounds, a multitude of generals and colonels, whose brilliant uniforms and resplendent breastplates form a striking contrast to the blue cloak and brown coat of the preacher Lockyer, who stands among them.—At the right of the door a group of high dignitaries who are to figure in the ceremony, bearing, on cushions of red velvet, Lord Warwick the purple robe, Lord Broghill the sceptre, General Lambert the crown, Whitelocke, the great seal, an alderman (for the Lord Mayor) a sword, the Clerk of the Commons (for the Speaker) a Bible.

Scene 12.—Cromwell, his Family, his Retinue, the Crowd.

[The moment that Cromwell appears in the doorway of Westminster Hall, amid the roar of the cannon (which has not ceased during the preceding scene), bells, fanfares and beating of drums, one can distinguish the acclamations that follow him from without.

Voices [outside.]Hurrah! hurrah! for England's Lord Protector!
Overton [to Garland, in an undertone.
These knaves are paid to roar. But have no fear,
We'll silence them. 'Tis as it was when Noll,
At Grocer's Hall, dubbed Viner baronet,—
He was acclaimed in Cheapside for his gold.

[Cromwell stands a moment on the threshold and bows again and again to the crowd outside.

Voices in the Crowd.
Cromwell!—Ah! is that Cromwell?—He, the king!—
The regicide!—He's very ugly, faith!—
How short to be a hero!—I'd have said
That he was taller.—Not so fat I thought him.
How this man irks me with his broad-brimmed hat!
Take off your hat.—Since when, I prithee, mistress,
Do we take off our hats to Antichrist?

[Cromwell turns toward the assemblage within the hall.—Profound silence.

Cromwell [stepping into the hall.
Now in the Father's name, and in the Son's,
And in the Holy Ghost's, may peace be with you!

[Silence within the hall. The acclamations coniinue on the square.

Voices [without.
God save you, Oliver!—May Cromwell live


[Cromwell turns once more and bows to the populace assembled in the square.

Thurloe [to Cromwell, in an undertone.
Forever! Everything doth smile on you,
And all do yield submissive to your will.
What acclamations! what a glorious day!
Cromwell [bitterly, to Thurloe, in an undertone.
Ay, this innumerable, cheering crowd,
Drunken with love, who seem so potently
To aid my lofty destiny,—no less
Would they applaud if I were on my way
To execution. In my victory
They see a brilliant, splendid spectacle.
They run to look, enjoy it to the full,
And when thou seest them fill the streets and squares
With transports of delight, there's nought on earth
Would please them better than to see me crowned,
If it were not to see me hanged.—Dear people!—
But here, what silence!
Thurloe [in an undertone.] Good my lord, the mob
Has by the Levellers been worked upon.

[The Parliament, led by the Speaker, marches toward Cromwell, two by two. The members bow low to the Protector, who takes off his hat and puts it on again.

The Speaker [to Cromwell.
My Lord! When Samuel offered sacrifice,
He kept for Saul the shoulder of the ox,
To show that king, behind the sacred curtain,
How that a nation for a single man
A heavy burden is. In later days
Was Maximilian often wont to say
That 'tis a difficult and weary task
To train one's self to rule. And few there be

Of mortals, party leaders, who are apt
To regulate the halting step of nations.
This chariot of ours rolls heavily,
Drawn onward by events, hampered by men,
And skilfully to guide it o'er rough roads
Requires a firm hand and mighty arm.
Often at night, beneath a lowering sky,
Avoiding ruts, we find the precipice;
For this great chariot, whose axles shriek
So that the world doth hear, can never be
Unharnessed, nor subjected to the drag.
It must go on and on and on forever!
And we must see the coursers which by God
Are harnessed to its solid pole of brass,
Ardent as on a day of battle, rear,
Despite the lash, and run, despite the curb;
And, crushing nations, capitals, and kings,
Its sightless wheels must go their destined way!
And when this heavy chariot is left
To roll at random, such a sea of blood
Doth flow in its deep tracks, that thirsty dogs
May quench their thirst therein. Then doth the world
Totter upon its base and kingdoms reel.
And so what care is needful to select
A coachman for this ponderous chariot
Whose rumbling none may hear and tremble not!
He must be doubly called to the high seat.
Upon his head the people's choice must fall
Together with God's choice; the diadem
Be there united to the tongue of fire.
Then is he numbered 'mongst those mortals rare
Whom from afar the nations of the earth
Follow like beacon-lights. But by stern toil
This lofty height is gained—not otherwise.

His mind must be alert on every side.
He's like the suns which an omniscient God
Alone could make, which roll about through space,
And in their train draw worlds, whose lofty peaks
Are lighted by the rays that shine from Heav'n,
And which, forever shining, never rest!—
From all that I have said, the inference
Is this: that by a single arm alone
The progress of the State can fittingly
Be ruled. We need a leader who stands out
Above us all. The world doth need a man;
You are that man.
[The Parliament and the whole assemblage bow.
You are that man. Then be our guide, my lord,
In all our fortunes; deign here to receive
The faith and fealty of your faithful commons.
[Profound silence.
Overton [to Milton, in an undertone.
His commons!
Cromwell [to the Speaker.
His commons! Sir, accept my grateful thanks.
The empire prospers, by the grace of God.
In Ireland, despite the civil broils,
The faith makes wondrous progress in the towns.
Attacking valiantly the popish sore,
Harry, my son and my lieutenant, doth
By fire and sword with one hand extirpate
And with the other cauterize the wound.
Armagh is burning. Rome within its walls
No longer hath a proselyting priest.
In Scotland all the clans have bent the knee.
Without our borders all goes well. Dunkirk
Has lost all hope.—Old England, close allied
With France, holds humbled Spain in her broad hand.

Our commerce in the Indies hath increased
By leaps and bounds. The envious Castilian
With vain regrets doth wear away his strength.
God manifests the goodness of our cause
By aiding us. At Lisbon and Madrid
For their rebellions, we have caused much blood
And gold to flow. Their galleons doth Blake
Discharge in our exchequer. I've two fleets
Sent to Jamaica. Meanwhile th' army's ranks
Are filling fast. The Tuscan doth repent;
He'll be forgiven. When the time shall come
That all things near are happily at rest,
We shall be able, then, to lend a hand
To save the Russian from the Sultan's hordes,
Since he doth earnestly appeal to us.—
If we but form a wish, God instantly
Doth grant it. Thus, you see, no nation stands
Upon a higher plane. Let us live on,
With full assurance of celestial favour.
But that the Lord may manifest himself,
We must e'en bow the head and bend the knee.
Now let us pray, and may the Holy Spirit
Descend among us.

[Cromwell kneels. All his retinue, the Parliament, the officers of the city, the judges and the soldiers follow his example. There ensues a moment of silent meditation, during which nothing is heard save the bells, the cannon, the trumpets, and the dull murmuring of the crowd in the square.
Syndercomb [in an undertone, to Overton and Garland, who have moved nearer to the throne.

Descend among us. All are on their knees,
The tyrant and his guard. The swords are lowered.
No eye is watching us. Why strike we not?

Garland [indignantly repelling him.
Great Heaven!
Syndercomb. Great Heaven! Why shout so loud?
Garland. Great Heaven! Why shout so loud? Strike when he prays?
Syndercomb.What should we do?
Garland. What should we do? Pray. Pray against him. Pray.
A truce to murd'rous rage! And let us leave
To God the choice 'twixt the two prayers.
[The Puritan conspirators bend their heads and pray.—A pause.
Cromwell [rising.] …choice 'twixt the two prayers. 'Tis well!

[The whole assemblage rises.—The Earl of Warwick walks forward toward the Protector with slow and measured steps, kneels on one knee, and presents the purple robe with ermine border.
Warwick [to Cromwell.]Deign to put on this purple robe, my lord.

[With Warwick's help, Cromwell puts on the robe.
Overton [to the Puritans, in an undertone.
My friends! my friends! he dons his winding-sheet!
Garland [in an undertone.
Observe him now! The scarlet progeny
Of prostituted Tyre.
Wildman [in an undertone.] O lightning, strike!

[Cromwell, in the purple robe, the train of which is borne by young Lord Roberts, richly dressed, walks gravely toward the throne. Lord Warwick precedes him, with sword uplifted. Lord Carlisle follows, the point of his sword toward the ground.

Syndercomb [aside.]A brilliant retinue borrowed from hell!
Purple and ermine, gilded noblemen,
And soldiers clad in steel; a throne beplumed,
Surmounted by a towering canopy,

Immodest women, men devoid of shame,
Pomp, power, triumph—nothing doth he lack.
Ah well! to cause all this, e'en as a dream,
Or as the shadow of a chariot,
Or a sword's gleam, to vanish utterly,
What is it that the Lord Almighty needs?
[He presses his dagger against his breast.
A bit of steel in a poor fisher's hands.

[Cromwell, having walked slowly across the hall amid a profound silence, arrives at the foot of the throne and prepares to ascend it. The conspirators glide silently through the crowd and surround the platform.

Milton [among the crowd, in a stentorian voice.
Cromwell, beware!
Cromwell [turning toward the people.
Cromwell, beware! Who speaks?
Syndercomb [to Garland, in an undertone.
Cromwell, beware! Who speaks? May God confound
The blind man, who bids all the world beware!
Milton [to Cromwell.
Beware the Ides of March!
Overton [to Milton, in an undertone.
Beware the Ides of March! Tell not our secrets!
Cromwell [to Milton.
Milton, explain your words.
Milton [to Cromwell.] … your words. Mene, Tekel,
[Cromwell shrugs his shoulders and ascends the throne.
Overton [to Garland, in an undertone.
Upharsin! Up he goes! I breathe again.
Garland [in an undertone.
It was a solemn warning.

[Cromwell seats himself on the throne. The Earls of Warwick and Carlisle take their stand behind his chair, with drawn swords; Thurloe and Stoupe at his sides. The Lord Mayor, followed by the Aldermen, walks to the foot of the throne, bearing the cushion on which the sword is laid; he ascends three steps, kneels on one knee, and presents the sword to Cromwell.
Lord Mayor [to Cromwell.]My lord, I bring and place within your hands

The sword of state. A nation forged the steel,
Lacking an anvil, on the brow of tyrants.
The blade two edges has, and may be used
As sword of justice and as sword of war,
And, awe-inspiring on the battlefield
And in the sanctuary, each in turn,
Now glistens in the soldier's hand, now flames
Resplendent in the hand of God the Lord.
Now, London, venerable city, doth
Present it to you.

[Cromwell girds on the sword, draws it from its scabbard, lifts it above his head, then returns it to the Lord Mayor, who replaces it in the scabbard and retires, backwards.
Whitelocke [approaching Cromwell with the same formality as the Lord Mayor.

Present it to you. These the seals, my lord.

[Cromwell takes the seals, then returns them to Whitelocke, who retires. The Speaker of the Commons, followed by the other officials, comes forward, bearing the Bible with gold clasps.

The Speaker [kneeling on one knee before Cromwell.
My Lord, the Book.

[Cromwell takes the Bible, and the Speaker retires with low reverences.—General Lambert, pale and perturbed, steps forward, bearing the crown on a rich cushion of crimson velvet.—Overton forces his way through the crowd and takes his place near him.

Lambert [kneeling on the steps of the platform.
My Lord, the Book. My lord—
Overton [to Lambert, in an undertone.
My Lord, the Book. My lord—'Tis I! Be brave!
Lambert [aside.]He's at my side!
[To Cromwell, in a faltering tone.
He's at my side! Receive the crown—
Overton [in an undertone, to Lambert, drawing his dagger.
He's at my side! Receive the crown—And death!

[All the conspirators scattered through the crowd place their hands, simultaneously, on their daggers.

Cromwell [as if suddenly awakened from a dream.
How now! What means this? Why this crown—to me?
What would you that I do with it? And who
Doth give it me, I pray? Is it a dream?
Is it, in truth, the diadem I see?
And by what right do ye with kings confound me?
Who dares into our pious festivals
Such scandal to import?—Their crown, to me,
Who caused their heads to fall!—Have you mistook
The purpose of this ceremonial?—
My lords, and Englishmen, and brothers all,
Who hear my voice, I come not to this place
To assume the crown, but to renew my rights,
Confirm my title and my power replenish,
Here in my people's very heart of hearts,
Twice was the consecrated scarlet dyed.
This purple cloak's the people's, and from them

I hold it, with a true and loyal heart.
But for the crown—when did I ask for it?
Who says that I would have it? Not one hair
Of all these hairs grown white in England's service
Would I exchange for all the golden toys
Of all the kings on earth. Take it away!
Remove that bauble—of all vanities
The most ridiculous! Stay not until
I trample all these follies 'neath my feet!
How ill they know me, disingenuous friends
Who dare to outrage me by crowning me!
From God I have far more than they can give—
Irrevocable grace; and of myself
I am the master. Once a son of Heaven,
Can one cease so to be? The universe
Is envious of our prosperity.
What are my needs beyond the good of all?
This is the chosen people. Of this isle
Europe's the humble, suppliant satellite.
All nations to our star submission yield;
The impious are accurst. It is as if
The Lord had said: "England, grow great and strong,
And be my eldest daughter, for my hands
Have crowned thee queen among the nations all;
So be my well-beloved, walk beside me."—
His blessings in abundance he doth shower
Upon us, and each day that dawns, each day
That ends, adds one more ring to th' endless chain,
'Twould seem that God, who doth the Philistines
With fear and awe inspire, our destinies
Hath, like a craftsman, carved and moulded for us;
And that his arm hath welded all the parts
Of this vast edifice upon an axis
That time cannot destroy; mysterious work,

Whose toil unceasing has for centuries,
It may be, kept its springs forever wound.
So all goes on. Wheels interlocked with wheels
Bite with their iron cogs; the whirring shafts,
The massive balance-wheels, the springs, the weights,
A living labyrinth, move all at once;
The awe-inspiring engine marches on,
Inexorably and unceasingly,
In the performance of its mighty task;
And nations, caught within its myriad arms,
Would vanish, crushed, if they stood not aside.
And I would God impede, whose blessed law
Gives us a place apart in the worlds destiny!
Trampling upon the immemorial rights
Of the chosen people, put my interests
In place of theirs! As pilot, set the sails
For adverse winds!
[Shaking his head.]Nay, nay, I'll not bestow
That pleasure on our false and faithless brethren.
Still the old English ship doth rule the waves.
The giant's on his feet. These plots obscure—
Of what avail are they when aimed against
Great Britain's proud and lofty destiny?
What is a mattock's blow upon a mountain-side?
[Casting a lynx-like glance over the assemblage.
'Ware, evildoers! What ye do is known,
The water's clear, though the abyss is deep.
The bottom of your trap, wherein your schemes
Do crawl, is visible. With his own sting
The viper 's sometimes stung; too frequently
We burn ourselves at the fire that we light.
And the Lord's eyes run swiftly here and there.—
Who broke the bond between the kings and people?
'Twas I.—And think ye, then, with this vain bait,
A crown, to capture me?—In former days

I, English born, good lack! did shatter crowns.
Though ne'er I've worn one, well I know their weight.
What! quit the camp I dwell in, for a court!
For a sceptre change my sword, my helmet for
A crown?—Go to! Am I a child, forsooth?
Think ye that I was born but yesterday?
That gold weighs more than iron, know I not?
Build me a throne! Why, 'tis to dig my grave.
Ah! Cromwell knows too well how soon one falls,
To seek to sit thereon! And, furthermore,
How quickly, 'neath the weight of carking care,
Do wrinkles gather on those weary brows,
Begirt with flowers! Each flower conceals a thorn.
The crown 's their death; black care envelopes them;
It changes to a tyrant the most mild
Of men, and weighing heavily on kings
It causes them to weigh on all their subjects.
The people marvel at it, and renounce
Their own just rights, that they may count the gems
Wherewith it gleams; but with what sympathy
For them who bear the burden they would quiver,
Could they but see the face, and not the crown!
The weight disturbs their brain, and soon their hands
The reins entangle of the tottering state.
O! take away that odious, hateful symbol!
Too often doth it fall from off the brow
And veil the eyes.—
[In a tearful voice.]What should I do with it?
For power ill-born, I live in innocence,
Simple of heart. If I, with sling in hand,
Have watched the fold; if I, when breakers threatened,
Have ta'en the helm, 'twas for the common good
I sacrificed myself. Why did I not
In my own humble station live my life?

And from the shadow of my little cot
Look on the while the hard-pressed tyrant fell?
Alas! far sweeter to me were the fields,
Where one can breathe at ease, be Heaven my judge,
Than the unceasing toil of government;
And Cromwell were a hundredfold more happy
In guarding sheep than in dethroning kings.
[Weeping.]The sceptre, say you?—Ah me! I have missed
My destiny. That bit of gleaming steel
Doth nowise tempt me. Far from envying
Your general, my brethren, your old Oliver,
Have pity on me! For my arm, I feel,
Is growing feeble, and my end is nigh.
Have not I laboured at the chain as long
As need be? I am old and weary too;
Is it not time that I should seek repose?
Each day I ask it from the grace divine,
And kneel and beat my breast before the Lord.
I, seek the crown! What! I, so frail and proud!
That wish—and I would swear it by my bier—
Is farther from my thoughts than is the light
Of day from unborn child within the womb!
Away, this proffered increase of my power!
Nought I accept—save the heredity.
It is my purpose presently to summon,
A theologian of eminence,
That he may read my heart. I will consult,
If need be, two. I owe to the Most High
A strict accounting of your liberty,
And making His law my own law supreme,
I purpose to accomplish what is writ
In Psalm One Hundred Ten.

[Acclamations and applause break forth on all sides.—Populace and soldiers, whose hostility has been gradually dissipated by Cromwell's harangue, give voice to their enthusiasm. The Parliament and the Protector's retinue are stupefied.—Cromwell draws himself up and waves his hand with an air of command, and the crowd becomes silent.

In Psalm One Hundred Ten. And hereupon
With humble and submissive heart we pray
That God will have you in his holy keeping.
We have laid bare to you our inmost soul,
And, lastly, we do your forgiveness crave
For such a discourse on so hot a day.

[He resumes his seat.—The frenzied acclamations of the people break out anew. The disconcerted Puritan conspirators maintain a gloomy silence and throw away their daggers.

Overton [to Garland, in an undertone.
He'll die in bed!
Garland [in an undertone.
He'll die in bed! They want him, let them have him.
The Crowd.Hurrah!
Wildman [in an undertone.
Hurrah! From this day forth he holds his rank
By right hereditary! Juggling hound!
The Crowd.Hurrah for the Protector! Long live Cromwell!
All glory to the conqueror of Tyre!
Overton [to the Puritans, in an undertone.
How he has tricked us! Surely he was warned.
Some one betrayed us! 'twas a downright crime.
Barebones [aside.]It was the only way to save my stuffs.

[The majority of the conspirators disperse through the crowd, which continues to hail the triumphant Cromwell with noisy acclamations. Lambert, pale as death and speechless, is reparing to go down from the platform when Cromwell detains him.

Cromwell.Ah! Lambert, you will dine with us to-day.
[In an undertone, as Lambert turns in alarm.
Why tremble still? He is no longer there.
Lambert [faltering.]Who?
Cromwell [still in an undertone.
Who? Overton, whose mission was to urge
Thy wavering hand.
[With a sardonic smile.]For you were in the plot
Lambert.My lord, I swear—
Cromwell. My lord, I swear Nay, nay, swear not at all.
Lambert.But, good my lord—
Cromwell. But, good my lord Oh! I have witnesses.
You were the leader.
Lambert. You were the leader. I the leader?
Cromwell. You were the leader. I the leader? Yes.
In name, at least. But your own hardihood
You feared to trust, and you would not have dared
To stab me, standing face to face.
Lambert. To stab me, standing face to face. My lord—
[Aside.]The thoughts of every man are plainly writ
Upon his forehead for this tyrant's keen,
Unerring eye.
Cromwell [with a smile.] Is it the truth, my lord,
As I have heard from lips not too discreet,
That to a quiet and retired life
Your tastes incline? And flowers, too, 'tis said
That you do madly love.
[In an undertone, grinding his teeth.
That you do madly love. Without delay
In my hands your commission you will place.

[He dismisses him with a gesture. Lambert down from the platform and joins the rest of the retinue. At that moment Cromwell spies the sceptre, which Lord Broghill has placed on the steps of the throne.

[In a voice of thunder.
How now! a sceptre!—Take away your bauble.
[Turning to Trick.
For thee, my fool!
[Renewed applause among the populace and the troops.
Trick [from his gallery.]Nay, let some greater fool
Put hand to it.

[Enter an usher. He bows before the throne and addresses Cromwell.

The Usher. Put hand to it. My lord, the High Sheriff waits.
Cromwell.Admit him.
[Enter the High Sheriff, followed by two sergeants-at-arms.
[To the Sheriff.]Well? How now?
The Sheriff [saluting.] …Well? How now? My lord, one Bloum,
And other prisoners, those condemned to death—
Cromwell [with a start.
What! is it done?
The Sheriff. What! is it done? No, good my lord, not yet.
Cromwell.'Tis well!
The Sheriff. 'Tis well! Their gallows Hewlet did erect
At dawn on Tyburn Hill. They crave, my lord,
An audience of you. Shall I proceed
To execution, or shall I delay?
Cromwell.What is their motive?
The Sheriff. What is their motive? A request to make.
Cromwell.Let them be brought before me.
The Sheriff. Let them be brought before me. Here, my lord?
Cromwell.Yes, here.

[At a sign from Cromwell, the Sheriff bows and exit.—Cromwell remains silent for a momentamid the acclamations of the people and the whispering of the generals and the Parliament; then he rouses himself with an effort from his meditation, and addresses Doctor Lockyer, who is among the retinue.

Yes, here. Good Master Lockyer, did we not
Make choice of you to preach the Word to us?
We wait your pleasure. Time and grace divine
Alike have wings.

[Slowly and as if embarrassed Doctor Lockyer ascends the pulpit opposite the throne.

Lockyer. Alike have wings. My lord, this is my text—
[He hesitates and seems disturbed.]
Cromwell.Speak, speak.
Lockyer [reading from a Bible that he holds in his hand.

"The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us."

Cromwell [interrupting him angrily.
Brother, where find you that. 'Tis a rash text
Lockyer.My lord, 'tis in the Bible.
Cromwell. My lord, 'tis in the Bible. Where?
Lockyer. My lord, 'tis in the Bible. Where? Look, read.
It is in Judges, chapter nine, verse eight.
Cromwell.Be still! What bearing hath that text upon
The present state of things? In Holy Writ
Can you find nothing better? Is there not
A verse and chapter with some relevance
To what is happening? As this, for instance:
"Accurst be he who leads the sightless wanderer
Astray."—" The sage is he who dares and doubts."—
"The archangel went forth into the desert

To bind the demon."—Other texts there be,
Whereon a learned preacher may discourse,
And this conjuncture would have magnified
Their value and enhanced their interest,
As: "Is man twofold?"—Or: "Do God's angels,
When they do come among us, change their shape?"—
Or: "What would happen if, true dogmatists,
The Whiggamoors were Antipædobaptists?"
These texts are comprehensible, at least.
Such themes as these, and twenty others, too,
You might discuss to this intelligent
And great and pious people, for their good.
It wearies me to hear these pedants preach,
Talk through the nose, and praise in the same tone
The sun and moon and my lord Eglinton!

[Renewed acclamations.—Lockyer, in dire confusion, descends from the pulpit and loses himself in the crowd.—Enter an usher, who halts in the doorway, and exclaims in a loud voice:

Begone! My lord, the prisoners.

[Enter the captive Cavaliers, Lord Ormond at their head, preceded by the High Sheriff and surrounded by Archers and Sergeants-at-arms.

Scene 13.—The Same, Lord Ormond, Lord Rochester, Lord Rosebery, Lord Clifford, Sir Peter Downie, Lord Drogheda, Sedley, Sir William Murray, Doctor Jenkins, Manasseh Ben-Israel; all with their hands bound behind their backs, ropes around their necks, and bare feet. The High Sheriff, Archers, Sergeants-at-Arms.

[At the entrance of the Cavaliers the crowd draws aside with a murmur of amazement and curiosity.

The Sergeants-at-Arms.
Make way! make way!

[The Cavaliers halt in front of Cromwell's throne, Ormond and Rochester in the first rank. Their attitude is calm and unflinching; Murray and Manasseh alone seem paralyzed with fear.—Cromwell gazes for some time with an expression of satisfaction, at the prisoners and the assemblage, and seems to enjoy the curiosity and anxiety which encompass him.—Throughout the scene Rochester makes eyes at Frances, whom he has espied in the gallery immediately on entering.

Cromwell [folding his arms, to the Cavaliers.
Make way! make way! What is your pleasure, sirs?
[Aside.]Suppose that they should sue to me for mercy!
Lord Ormond [in a firm voice.
We are brave men and we make no appeal
For pity, mercy, favour or forgiveness.
Who dies like us exults in such a death;
It neither vexes him nor him degrades.
In sooth, what had we to expect from you,
A murderer, a low-born vassal, who,
O'erloading his plebeian coat of arms
With the hereditary crest and sceptre,
Quarters the arms of England thereupon.
What would you with me, then?
Ormond. What would you with me, then? A single word.
By which road purpose you to send us hence

To Heaven? To the gibbet we are led;
But know you who we are?
Cromwell. But know you who we are? Brigands condemned
To death.
Ormond. To death. But gentlemen. You knew it not,
Doubtless, and therefore we do tell it you.
The gibbet's not for those who bear our names.
And, even though your own nobility
Is of the lowliest, the hangman's rope
That us dishonours, doth inflict on you
No less a stigma. Folk of quality
And of good taste have nought to do with hanging.
We do protest.
Cromwell. We do protest. And is this all?
We do protest. And is… [Aside.]Aha!
They ask for life!
Ormond. They ask for life! It is. Weigh the request.
Cromwell.What, pray, do you desire?
Ormond. What, pray, do you desire? To lose our heads.
Avaunt the gallows and its dire disgrace!
We are entitled as of right to be
Decapitated, one and all.
Cromwell [to Thurloe, in an undertone.
Decapitated, one and all. Strange men!
Look you. No fear, no shame. Pride mounts with them
E'en to the scaffold; to eternity
Their prejudices wait upon their steps;
And in their eyes the block's a glorious thing!
[To the Cavaliers, with a mocking smile.
I understand.—When you do enter Heav'n
It much imports that the great gates be thrown
Wide open to admit you; and 'twould be
For a poor hempen cord too great an honour

To strangle a most high and potent lord.
But such things have been known. And in your ranks,
My masters, I see some whose ancestors
Would not be sore offended were they hanged;
For they have none.—Yon Jew, yon magistrate—
Jenkins. I've not been tried. Fine or imprisonment
Or death you have no right t' inflict on me.
I am a free man, and I find these words:
Nullus liber homo imprisionetur,
In the Norman charter.
Rochester [to Sedley, laughing.] Gad! Does he propose
To quote to him the laws of Arthur's day?
Cromwell [to the Cavaliers.
We hold you fast, my masters,—generals,
Lieutenants and accomplices—all, all!
You all are caught in your own cunning snare.
The hour has struck, the arm is raised to smite.
The time is most ill-chosen to seek favours.—
Ormond [interrupting.
Favours, sir! God forbid! We claim a right
Of England's old nobility. D'ye hear?
A right!—Favours, forsooth! the block a favour?
An axe-stroke?
Cromwell. An axe-stroke? Peace! you who so proudly speak!
Last night, with swords, you came within my house,
The guard seduced or hoodwinked, and you thought
To seize me in my bed, unseen of all.
Had you succeeded, what had been my fate?
Ormond. It had not been the gallows, rest assured.
Cromwell. Ay, you were pressed for time. The dagger's swifter.
To-day, when Heav'n throws you in my hands,

My murderers, what would you ask of me?
Ormond.To die as loyal knights—die for our King.
Rochester.Ay, let us die for Rowland!
Ay, let us di… [To Rosebery.] For my part,
I am forever making loans to him.
'Twas money yesterday, to-day my head—
Another item on his long account.
Cromwell [to Ormond, after a moment's reflection.
Old man, be you yourself the judge.—If chance
Had willed that I should wear yon chains, and you
Should sit here in my place,—what would you do?
Ormond.I would not pardon.
Cromwell. I would not pardon. I do pardon you.
[Exclamations of surprise in the assemblage.
All the Cavaliers.What!
Cromwell. What! You are free.
Ormond. What! You are free. Great Heaven!
What! You are free … [To Cromwell.]Did you know
My name—
Cromwell [interrupting him.
My name—That matters little to me now.
[To Thurloe, in an undertone.
I could not answer for the multitude,
If he should name himself.

[He turns abruptly to Lord Broghill, who has thus far remained in his place in the retinue, glum and silent.

If he should name himself. My dear Lord Broghill,
One of your former friends is here in London.
[Lord Ormond and Lord Broghill turn about in amazement.
Broghill.Who, pray, my lord?
Cromwell. Who, pray, my lord? 'Tis Ormond.
Broghill. Who, pray, my lord? 'Tis Ormond. Ormond!
Who, pray, my lord? 'Tis Ormond… [Aside.]God!
Can he have learned—

Cromwell. Can he have learned—He has been here five days.

[He feels in his doublet and produces the sealed packet that he took from Davenant.

See, here's a packet that doth him concern.
His name is on the cover. Know you his address?
Broghill [embarrassed.
Not I, my lord.
Cromwell. Not I, my lord. "Bloum, Rat Hotel, the Strand."
Broghill [stammering.
Ormond [aside, gazing at the parchment in Cromwell's hand.
But—Davenant's the traitor; Davenant!
'Tis the King's letter.
Cromwell [handing the packet to Broghill.
'Tis the King's letter. To Lord Ormond give it
From me. In other hands it might, perchance,
Have compromised him. Tell him to go hence
As soon as may be—never to return.
If he has need of money, give it him.
Rosebery [to Ormond, in an undertone.
Money! ah! what a lucky man you are!
If he would but agree to pay my debts!
Rochester [congratulating Ormond, in an undertone.
'Twas delicately done, and I rejoice
He spares you the affront of naming you.
Cromwell [in a loud, harsh voice.
Lord Rochester!
Rochester [starting in surprise.]How now!
Cromwell. Lord Rochester! How now! You have your pardon.
Go to the deuce!
Rochester [to Rosebery, in an undertone.
Go to the deuce! He's not so suave with me.
No matter! he's a sorcerer! a Proteus!
Accost him: he a royal lion seems.

But try to make him sleep. Pst! in a flash
The sleeping lion is a watchful cat;
The cat becomes a roaring tiger; then
The cutting claws are changed to velvet paws;
Velvet through which the treach'rous claws still pierce.
Cromwell.My learned chaplain, pardon me, I pray,
For urging you to stay not long among us.
Rochester [aside.]No fear!
Cromwell.Thanks to more fines than one, imposed
Most righteously, swearing, my holy man,
Is like to cost you dear in England here.
What'ver you do, you cannot hold your peace.
And, muleted by the law incessantly,
You soon would waste your substance in vain oaths.
Rochester.Thanks for the good advice.
[To the crowd which pursues him with laughter and
derisive cheers.
Thanks for the good advice. Applaud, vile brood!
Cromwell.Stay, doctor. Prithee, take your loving wife.
Rochester [trembling.
My wife?
Cromwell. My wife? My lady Rochester!

[Dame Guggligoy rushes down from the Protectress's gallery and throws herself on Rochester's neck.

Dame Guggligoy [kissing him.] … Rochester! Dear spouse!
Rochester [trying to elude her.
God's mercy!
Cromwell. God's mercy! Be ye one.—What should we say
To see one half depart without the other?
[To Dame Guggligoy.
Follow your spouse!

[Dame Guggligoy takes the arm of Rochester, who submits with painful reluctance.

Rochester [aside.] …ur spouse! Ah! what an amnesty!
Wilmot, of all the fools upon this earth
Art thou not the most foolish and the most
Severely punished? See the strange effect
That thy two halves produce, one with this coat,
The other with that face! And Prances, too,
Is looking on! I shall turn virtuous!
Cromwell [pointing to Murray in the group of Cavaliers.
Go, Murray, and receive the lash that Charles,
Who commonly is called the Prince of Wales,
Has earned by this abortive childish plot.

[Applause among the people.—Archers and bailiffs seize Murray, who hides his face in his hands and seems crushed with shame and despair.—Cromwell turns to the rabbi.

Yon Jew, who would have fittingly adorned
The cross-beam of the gallows—he is free.

[Manasseh joyfully raises his head.—Cromwell continues, turning to Barebones, who stands beside the throne.

But, Barebones, to redeem his flesh, he'll pay
Thy bill.

[Barebones takes from his packet a long roll of paper, which he hands to the Jew.

Manasseh [examining it.] 'Tis very dear.
Cromwell [to the other prisoners.]You all are free.
[The archers remove the fetters of the Cavaliers.
Thurloe [to Cromwell, in an undertone.
All! But it is a serious affair—
Cromwell [in an undertone.
I have this people; of what use, I pray,
Would thirty gallows be?

[Sir William Murray, as the archers are leading him away, throws himself on his knees and holds out his clasped hands to Cromwell.

Would thirty gallows be? Mercy, my lord!
Cromwell.What! from the lash? Go to! have done with this.
Is't not the function of thy cringing back?
Lashed for thy King! thou servest the good cause.
Martyr thou 'lt call thyself; thou 'lt play Montrose.

[He waves his hand and the archers remove Murray.—Thereupon the Protector addresses the crowd with an imperial and inspired air.

Cromwell.O blessèd people, let us spare our foes,
Who cringe and crawl. Even the elephant
Has pity on the snakes he tramples on.
May Heaven always guard thee from the snare,
Ye chosen vessels!
Rochester [to Sedley, in an undertone.
Ye chosen vessels! They are earthen jugs.

[The people respond with long acclamations. The Protector imposes silence by a gesture, and then continues:

I purpose, O my tried and loyal friends,
To signalize this day by acts of grace.
[To the High Sheriff.
Let Carr, a prisoner in the Tower, be brought.

[Exit the Sheriff.—Cromwell rests his elbows on the arms of his chair and seems to be lost in thought.—A general air of silent expectation.—Willis, who has been absent for some time and has just returned, accosts Ormond.

Willis [saluting Ormond.
I give you joy, my lord.
Ormond [surprised.] …, my lord. What! is it you,
Willis? you, too, are free.—This man's a problem!
To pardon us, he takes on kingly airs.

[Pressing Willis's hand.
But I rejoice, for you, not for myself.
[He leans over Willis with an air of mystery, and whispers.
Davenant's the traitor! Ah! could I but meet him!
Willis.Think you 'tis he? Mayhap, and mayhap not.
Distrust him! And, the peril once escaped,
Be prudent.
Ormond [pressing his hand.
Be prudent Ah! how oft we are deceived!

Cromwell [coming out of his reverie and directing Stoupe's attention to the Cavaliers.

To-morrow let these madmen, Stoupe, take ship
Upon the Thames; their punishment's remitted.

[He roughly apostrophizes Sir Hannibal Sesthead, who is flaunting his rich costume an the steps of the platform.

Sir Hannibal Sesthead, although you be
The cousin of a king, be pleased to know
That I would fain be master in my house.
Your morals are licentious, you have learned
In foreign lands manners that sort but ill
With the chosen peoples. Elsewhere carry them.—
Go hence and sin no more.
Hannibal Sesthead [aside.] …and sin no more. He will forgive
A plot more readily than sarcasm.
I am the only culprit to be punished.

[Exit with his pages and his dogs. The crowd jeers at him and applauds Cromwell.

Overton [to Garland, in an undertone.
Observe the people's fervid, clamorous zeal.
A speech, a nothing, changed them, as you see.
Rochester [to Rosebery, in an undertone.
'Gainst the Protector God doth us protect.

Let 's be content.
Garland [to Overton, in an undertone.
Let 's be content. Our arms he shattered all
With but a word.
Cromwell [spying Gramadoch with his guards.
With but a word. What doth my fool, I prithee,
Amid four archers?
Gramadoch [with an impatient air.
Amid four archers? Oh! fool-keepers, they!
An Archer.The audacious dwarf took up your Highness' glove,
My lord.
Cromwell [angrily, to Gramadoch.
My lord. Thou knave!
Gramadoch. My lord. Thou knave! None but a fool, my lord,
Could e'er have done it.
Cromwell [smiling, and motioning to the archers to set him free.
Could e'er have done it. Go!

[Gramadoch joins his comrades, who embrace him and give him a joyous welcome.—Meanwhile the Protector addresses Milton.

Could e'er have done it. Go! Are you content?
Milton.I wait.
Cromwell. I wait. Brother, I am content with you.
Speak; tell me is there aught that you would ask?
Milton.There is.
Cromwell. There is. What is it?
Milton. There is. What is it? 'Tis a favour.
Cromwell. There is. What is it? 'Tis a favour. Speak,
My friend; I grant it.
Milton. My friend; I grant it. All your enemies
Your Highness has forgiv'n, save one alone.
Cromwell.Who is that one?
Milton. Who is that one? 'Tis Davenant.
Cromwell. Who is that one? 'Tis Davenant. Go to!

That papist! Davenant! a royal spy!
Ask something else.
Milton. Ask something else. Permit me to insist.
He was of the conspiracy, 'tis true;
And he's a papist; he designed your death;
But you have pardoned these.
Cromwell. But you have pardoned these I cannot do 't.
Milton.I know that he hath had a leading part
In these dark plots; but—
Cromwell. In these dark plots; but—Say no more of him!
For he writes comedies.

[Milton, disappointed, walks away. Cromwell, with a more affable manner, recalls him.

For he writes comedies. It is our pleasure
To make you, Milton, poet laureate.
Milton.I, poet laureate! Nay, good my lord
Save in reversion, I cannot accept.
That post is occupied.
Cromwell [surprised.] …occupied. 'Tis occupied?
Pray, who has seized upon it?
Milton. Pray, who has seized upon it? Davenant.
Cromwell [with a shrug.
Under the late King Charles the First 'twas his!
Milton.Since he retains his fetters, let him keep
His laurel wreath as well.
Cromwell. His laurel wreath as well. An argument
Worthy a poet; phrases cubits long!
Bombastic creature that you are! And you
Would govern and forever reprimand
Rulers of states, the while you pass your time
In twisting words to idiotic metres!
Milton.Of parables King Solomon composed
Five thousand.

[Cromwell turns his back on him and motions to his son Richard to draw near.

Cromwell [to Richard.] Richard, you, my son and heir,
Should to the army and the Parliament
Be presently admitted. To that end
I make you now a colonel and a peer,
And member of the Privy Council, too.
Richard [saluting his father, with embarrassment.
But, Sir, the labours of the House—my tastes—
You are, indeed, my father and my lord.
But, by your leave, I dare to say that I
Have more than I desire or deserve.
I love the woods and fields, ease and repose;
I love to hunt the roebuck and the stag;
I love my rural haunts—where no revolts
I fear save 'mongst my falcons and my hounds.

[Cromwell, displeased and discountenanced, dismisses him with a gesture.

Cromwell [bitterly, aside.
Would that the other were the elder!—Ah!
What profiteth me all that I may do?

[Enter Carr, in custody of the High Sheriff. He makes his way slowly through the crowd, gazes indignantly at the paraphernalia of royalty all about, and walks gravely toward Cromwell's throne.

Scene 14.—The Same, Carr.

Carr [folding his arms and looking Cromwell in the face.
What wouldst thou have?—Tyrant by force of crimes,
Are prison cells no shelter against thee?
What would the apostate, what the renegade,
With me?
A Voice in the Crowd. With me? Peace, madman!

Cromwell [to the people.] …dam! Let him speak, my friends.
The Lord would fain put David to the test,
Let Shimei call him anathema.—
[To Carr.
Go on.
Carr. Go on. Thou hypocrite! That is thy scheme.
Thy hellish plans with fair appearances
To cloak, and o'er thine evil brow to throw
A veil as from the skies! To mock the while
Thou torturest! to varnish tyranny!
And vomit satire on a bleeding heart!
But to destroy thy sceptre and thy mask
At once, the Lord concealed me in his scrip.
He said: "Take thou thy lute, and go thou forth
About the city, and from Cromwell's temple
Expel a servile people; grind to dust
The altar, cast the idol in the flames,
And say to them: 'The Egyptian is a man,
Not God!'"—Behold thee, Cromwell, on thy throne
Of glory! Tremble; for the fearsome night
Succeeds the radiant day. Remember thou
Nimrod the hunter. The victorious Lord
His iron bow did break like a child's toy.
Remember Ishbosheth. That foolish king,
And vain, compelled the people to make way
When he passed by; an hundred warriors
Of Issachar, mounted and fully armed,
Rode constantly before his chariot.
But God—'tis that whereat the soul takes fright—
Doth ever cause good fortune to give birth
To evil fortune, flame to change to ashes.
Ishbosheth fell, like unto tainted fruit,
Or like a sound swept onward by the wind,
Leaving no echo. Think on Shalmaneser.

Upon his coursers swift of foot, this king,
Surrounded by the Argyraspides,
Passed, as in summer, through the flying clouds,
Passes the lightning-flash—without a sound
Think on Sennacherib, who at the head
Of a great host came from Assyria;
Nine hundred thousand troops, so fierce and proud
Their breath the very clouds would have impelled;
Unclean magicians; fear-inspiring centaurs;
Arabians, clashing their resounding cymbals;
Oxen, and leopards broken to the bit;
War-chariots bristling with sharp brazen scythes;
High-mettled steeds, suckled by tigresses;
Six hundred elephants, those moving forts,
Which, 'mid the legions treading pond'rously,
On their huge backs bore undulating towers.
On every side was nought save buffaloes
And camels, zebras, mammoths, behemoths,
Prodigious monsters of a world extinct;
A roaring mass, through which flew to and fro
The golden chariots' steel-toothèd wheels,
At night the camp was like a fiery plain;
And when that countless multitude awoke,
The fisher, launching his frail barque of reeds,
Thought that he heard old Ocean roar afar.
About the haughty monarch everything
Was all a-glitter. Swiftly flew his mares
And trampled 'neath their feet the springing grass;
He passed, rearing aloft his brow be-crowned
Above his chariot drawn by elephants;
And in his wake banners and oriflammes,
Like golden comets with their fiery tails.
But Heaven had compassion on a score
Of trembling peoples; on that meteor,
With all its gleaming train, God did but breathe,

And instantly the startling prodigy
Was quenched, extinguished, as it were a lamp
In a poor widow's hands who vigil keeps.
And dost thou think, ill-omened sycophant,
That thou art greater than those mighty kings,
The planets of the oriental world?
Canst thou swoop down, as doth the soaring eagle,
Upon Damascus or Samaria,
Or Charcamis, or Calanus? Hast thou,
Destroyed, e'en as the sand-storm the bazaar,
Succoth-Benoth or Tiglath-Pileser?
Or have thy horses and thy chariots,
A noisy horde, disturbed the solitude
Of ancient Libanus?—Not so.—Thine arm,
Master of sovereigns, has overturned
The boundaries of states; the multitude
Recoils before thy frown and huddles close;
Thou hast a whole world fast within thy claws;
And that is all.—In thy great battles and
Thine onward march, the Lord doth thee sustain
From Heaven above, the people from below.
Thyself thou'rt nought. An instrument of wrath,
Thou'rt but the flail that threshes out the grain.—
Where are the gods of Hamath? Where the gods
Of Ivah? What can Sepharvaïm do
When by Jehovah smitten? On a time
Those idols reigned; like them thou 'lt pass away,
E'en as the bell hung from the camel's neck.
Soon in their cloaks the saints will make a fold,
Gad, Azur, Zebulon, and Benjamin,
And Naphthali on Mount Ebal will stand,
To curse thee. Women and young children all
Will follow thee with jeers and mockery;
And to thy feet and eyes (which hell will blind)
The heavens will be of bronze, the earth of iron.

Thy haughty eyelids now in slumber close
Upon a bed of purple. But thy head
The Lord will grind to dust between two stones,
And one day we shall see the people rise,
Mighty at last, and with thy whitened bones
Stone tyrants. For, O Cromwell, more than once
The world hath seen Egyptian Pharaohs,
Sultans of Ethiopia, popes and dukes,
And emperors and despots purple-clad,
Playing a bloody game with subject peoples.
But amongst all the plagues wherewith the Lord
Hath smitten us, O Cromwell, never yet
Beneath the sun of Heaven has been seen
A man, a magus, or a sovereign,
So bold and cruel and astute as thou!
Be thou accurst!
Cromwell. Be thou accurst! Have you concluded?
Carr. Be thou accurst! Have you concluded? No.
Be thou accurst at sunset and at dawn!
And in thy steed and in thy chariot!
And in thy arms of wood and arms of steel!
Cromwell.And is that all?
Carr. And is that all? And in the air thou breathest!
In thy bed's canopy, and in thy threshold!
Be thou accurst!
Cromwell. Be thou accurst! And is that all?
Carr. Be thou accurst! And is that all? No. Be accurst!
Cromwell.You'll tear your lungs.—Is this the end—at last?
Now hark ye. Sentenced for an old offence,
You are in prison. I do pardon you,
My brother. Go. I break your chains.
Carr. My brother. Go. I break your chains. Tyrant,
And by what right?—Pray dost thou not commit
Enough of sins each year? Wouldst thou enlarge

The list of thine offences? Why dost thou
Attack my stronghold with thy catapult?
And tear me from the dungeons where my life
Is buried? Tell me, didst thou forge my chains,
Thou who wouldst break them?—Thou dost pardon me?
Pitiless despot! even as thy rage,
So must thy clemency its victim crush!
I was by the Long Parliament imprisoned.
By treason I had merited my fate:
I had cast off the sacred yoke; I had
Set off two portions in the soldiers' booty.
And I am punished. In a tower's depths,
Whence bars exclude the light, I pass my days;
The spider from my bed his fragile web
Suspends, wherein the bat his wing entangles.
At night I hear the crawling of the worms;
Athirst am I, and hungry; hot in summer,
In winter, cold. And it is well. I bow,
I set a good example. But for thee,—
By what right dost thou dare to touch the temple?
Shouldst thou disturb a single stone thereof?
That which the saints have bound, canst thou unbind?
And can the traces of the thunderbolt
Be e'er effaced? Me have the saints condemned,
None other hath the right me to absolve;
And 'mid this fawning mob I walk with pride,
Sole living remnant of their past and gone
Authority. A lightning-blasted pine,
E'en at the precipice's foot I show
The noble scar upon my prostrate brow.
And thou wouldst fain by force my fetters break!—
O Englishmen, see what a violent
And savage tyrant treads you under foot!

Avaunt! I, Carr, who brave thee to thy beard,
Do rather choose the anklet of the prisoner,
Than the slave's collar? Ay, and more than that,
I much prefer my destiny to thine,
My tower to thy booty-laden palace.
I would not for thy crime exchange my punishment,
My lawful chains for thy usurpèd sceptre!
For, criminals alike, when we are dead,
God will cast up thy sins, and my remorse
Will duly weigh!—Open my prison doors
To me once more!—Or, if it is thy will
That I be free,—and free in very truth,—
Restore the even balance of the State,
Give back the Parliament. Then, we will see.
Then thou wilt come with me, and both alike,
With bended heads, a cord about our waists,
Our faces smeared with dust, will at its bar
Implore forgiveness. Cromwell, till that day,
So long and ardently desired, shall dawn,
Give back my chains; respect my liberty.
[Loud laughter in the assemblage.
Call off thy dogs! I, in my dungeon, am
Perchance the only Englishman of whom
Thou art not master; yea, the one free man!
There, I do curse thee, Cromwell; there, us twain
I offer as a holocaust to God.
My prison! vainly dost thou sentence me
To break its bounds. My prison! And, in sooth,
If worldly texts and laws I must invoke,
Thither I go once more by virtue of
The habeas corpus.
Cromwell. The habeas corpus. Have it as you will.
The law invoked is not to be gainsaid.
Trick [in the gallery.
His prison! he mistakes—he means his box.

[Exit Carr proudly amid the jeers of the populace.
Syndercomb [to Garland, in an undertone.
Amongst us all Carr is the one true man.
A Voice in the Crowd.
Hosannah! Glory! Glory to the Saints!
Glory to Christ the Lord! to Sinai's God!
Long life to the Protector!

[Syndercomb, driven to frenzy by Carr's objurgations and the acclamations of the people, draws his dagger and darts toward the platform.

Syndercomb [brandishing his dagger.
Long life to the Protector! Death to Sodom's king!
Carlisle [to the halberdiers.
Arrest the assassin!
Cromwell [waving the soldiers aside.
Arrest the assassin! Make way for this man.
[To Syndercomb.
What would you have?
Syndercomb. What would you have? Thy death.
Cromwell. What would you have? Thy death. Go hence in peace,
And free.
Syndercomb. And free. The avenger I, by God raised up.
If 'twere not that thy henchmen closed my month—
Cromwell [motioning to the soldiers to leave him at liberty.
Say on.
Syndercomb. Say on. Oh! 'tis not speech that moveth thee.
But stayed they not my arm—
Cromwell. But stayed they not my arm—Strike.
Syndercomb [stepping forward and raising his dagger.
But stayed they not my arm—Strike. Tyrant, die!
[The people rush upon him and disarm him.
A Voice in the Crowd.
How now! foul murder his reply to pardon?
Death to the murderer! the parricide!

[The angry populace seize Syndercomb, who is dragged from the hall, struggling fiercely.

Cromwell [to Thurloe.
Go, look to what they do with him.
[Exit Thurloe.
Voices of the People. … what they do with him. Strike down
The traitor!
Cromwell. The traitor! I forgive him freely, brethren.
He knows not what he does.
Voices of the People [without.
He knows not what he does. The Thames! the Thames!
[Enter Thurloe.
Thurloe [to Cromwell.
The people are content. The Thames receives
The frenzied prophet.
Cromwell [aside.] …ied prophet. Clemency, in sooth,
Is an effective means. There's one foe less.
But Heaven forefend that this good people should
Become accustomed to such deaths as his!

[A pause.—Nought is heard save the joyous and triumphant shouts of the crowd. Cromwell, seated on his throne, seems placidly to enjoy the delirious acclamations of the populace and the army.

Overton [to Milton, in an undertone.
A human victim offered to the idol!—
The army and this heedless people—all
Are his. Nothing he lacks; all that he needs
He has. Our feeble efforts have but served
To raise him higher than before. In vain
One ventures to defy him, or combat.
And now he can destroy us, one by one.
He doth inspire love and fear alike.
Content he should be.
Cromwell [musingly.] …should be. When shall I be king?