SCENE—A Chamber in the Hostel—OSWALD alone, rising from a Table on which he had been writing.
OSWALD They chose him for their Chief!—what
He, in the preference, modest Youth, might take,
I neither know nor care. The insult bred
More of contempt than hatred; both are flown;
That either e’er existed is my shame:
’Twas a dull spark—a most unnatural fire
That died the moment the air breathed upon it.
—These fools of feeling are mere birds of winter
That haunt some barren island of the north,
Where, if a famishing man stretch forth his hand,
They think it is to feed them. I have left him
To solitary meditation;—now
For a few swelling phrases, and a flash
Of truth, enough to dazzle and to blind,
And he is mine for ever—here he comes.
MARMADUKE These ten years she has moved her lips
And never speaks!
OSWALD Who is it?
MARMADUKE I have seen her.
OSWALD Oh! the poor tenant of that ragged homestead,
Her whom the Monster, Clifford, drove to madness.
MARMADUKE I met a peasant near the spot; he told
These ten years she had sate all day alone
Within those empty walls.
OSWALD I too have
Chancing to pass this way some six months gone,
At midnight, I betook me to the Churchyard:
The moon shone clear, the air was still, so still
The trees were silent as the graves beneath them.
Long did I watch, and saw her pacing round
Upon the self-same spot, still round and round,
Her lips for ever moving.
MARMADUKE At her door
Rooted I stood; for, looking at the woman,
I thought I saw the skeleton of Idonea.
OSWALD But the pretended Father—
MARMADUKE Earthly law
Measures not crimes like his.
rank not, happily,
With those who take the spirit of their rule
From that soft class of devotees who feel
Reverence for life so deeply, that they spare
The verminous brood, and cherish what they spare
While feeding on their bodies. Would that Idonea
Were present, to the end that we might hear
What she can urge in his defence; she loves him.