Eliz. Be it so—I have no part nor
There—I have spoken.
Abbess. O noble soul! which neither gold, nor
Nor scorn can bend!
Gerard. And think what pure devotions,
What holy prayers must they have been, whose guerdon
Is such a flood of grace!
Nuns. What love again!
What flame of charity, which thus prevails
In virtue’s guest!
Eliz. Is self-contempt learnt thus?
Abbess. And yet how blest, in these cool shades
To rest with us, as in a land-locked pool,
Touched last and lightest by the ruffling breeze.
Eliz. No! no! no! no! I will not die in
I’ll breathe the free fresh air until the last,
Were it but a month—I have such things to do—
Great schemes—brave schemes—and such a little time!
Though now I am harnessed light as any foot-page.
Come, come, my ladies. [Exeunt Elizabeth, etc.]
Ger. Alas, poor lady!
Con. Why alas, my son?
She longs to die a saint, and here’s the way to it.
Ger. Yet why so harsh? why with remorseless
Home to the stem prune back each bough and bud?
I thought the task of education was
To strengthen, not to crush; to train and feed
Each subject toward fulfilment of its nature,
According to the mind of God, revealed
In laws, congenital with every kind
And character of man.
Con. A heathen dream!
Young souls but see the gay and warm outside,
And work but in the shallow upper soil.
Mine deeper, and the sour and barren rock
Will stop you soon enough. Who trains God’s Saints,
He must transform, not pet—Nature’s corrupt throughout—
A gaudy snake, which must be crushed, not tamed,
A cage of unclean birds, deceitful ever;
Born in the likeness of the fiend, which Adam
Did at the Fall, the Scripture saith, put on.
Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook,
To make him sport for thy maidens? Scripture saith
Who is the prince of this world—so forget not.
Ger. Forgive, if my more weak and carnal judgment
Be startled by your doctrines, and doubt trembling
The path whereon you force yourself and her.
Con. Startled? Belike—belike—let
Thou shalt be judged by thy works; so see to them,
And let divines split hairs: dare all thou canst;
Be all thou darest;—that will keep thy brains full.
Have thy tools ready, God will find thee work—
Then up, and play the man. Fix well thy purpose—
Let one idea, like an orbed sun,
Rise radiant in thine heaven; and then round it
All doctrines, forms, and disciplines will range
As dim parhelia, or as needful clouds,
Needful, but mist-begotten, to be dashed
Aside, when fresh shall serve thy purpose better.
Ger. How? dashed aside?