Eliz. I come, [aside] Here, Guta, take those
monks a fee—
Tell them I thank them—bid them pray for me.
I am half mazed with trembling joy within,
And noisy wassail round. ’Tis well, for else
The spectre of my duties and my dangers
Would whelm my heart with terror. Ah! poor self!
Thou took’st this for the term and bourne of troubles—
And now ’tis here, thou findest it the gate
Of new sin-cursed infinities of labour,
Where thou must do, or die!
[aloud] Lead on. I’ll follow. [Exeunt.]
Fool. There, now. No fee for the fool; and yet my prescription was as good as those old Jeremies’. But in law, physic, and divinity, folks had sooner be poisoned in Latin, than saved in the mother-tongue.
SCENE I. A.D. 1221-27
Elizabeth’s Bower. Night. Lewis sleeping in an Alcove.
Elizabeth lying on the Floor in the Foreground.
Eliz. No streak yet in the blank and eyeless
More weary hours to ache, and smart, and shiver
On these bare boards, within a step of bliss.
Why peevish? ’Tis mine own will keeps me here—
And yet I hate myself for that same will:
Fightings within and out! How easy ’twere, now,
Just to be like the rest, and let life run—
To use up to the rind what joys God sends us,
Not thus forestall His rod: What! and so lose
The strength which comes by suffering? Well, if grief
Be gain, mine’s double—fleeing thus the snare
Of yon luxurious and unnerving down,
And widowed from mine Eden. And why widowed?
Because they tell me, love is of the flesh,
And that’s our house-bred foe, the adder in our bosoms,
Which warmed to life, will sting us. They must know—
I do confess mine ignorance, O Lord!
Mine earnest will these painful limbs may prove.
. . . . .
And yet I swore to love him.—So I do
No more than I have sworn. Am I to blame
If God makes wedlock that, which if it be not,
It were a shame for modest lips to speak it,
And silly doves are better mates than we?
And yet our love is Jesus’ due,—and all things
Which share with Him divided empery
Are snares and idols—’To love, to cherish, and to obey!’
. . . . .
O deadly riddle! Rent and twofold life!
O cruel troth! To keep thee or to break thee
Alike seems sin! O thou beloved tempter,
[Turning toward the bed.]
Who first didst teach me love, why on thyself
From God divert thy lesson? Wilt provoke Him?
What if mine heavenly Spouse in jealous ire
Should smite mine earthly spouse? Have I two husbands?
The words are horror—yet they are orthodox!
[Rises and goes to the window.]