[Exeunt Count Walter and suite.]
C. Saym. He’s gone, brave heart!—But—sir,
you will not dare?
The Pope’s own Legate—think—there’s danger in’t.
Gent. Look, how athwart yon sullen sleeping
That frowning thunder-cloud sails pregnant hither;—
And black against its sheeted gray, one bird
Flags fearful onward—’Tis his cursed soul!
Now thou shalt quake, raven!—The self-same day!—
He cannot ’scape! The storm is close upon him!
There! There! the wreathing spouts have swallowed him!
He’s gone! and see, the keen blue spark leaps out
From crag to crag, and every vaporous pillar
Shouts forth his death-doom! ’Tis a sign, a sign!
[A heretic preacher mounts a stone. Peasants gather round him.]
These are the starved unlettered hinds, forsooth,
He hunted down like vermin—for a doctrine.
They have their rights, their wrongs; their lawless laws,
Their witless arguings, which unconscious reason
Informs to just conclusions. We will hear them.
Preacher. My brethren, I have a message to you: therefore hearken with all your ears—for now is the day of salvation. It is written, that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light—and truly: for the children of this world, when they are troubled with vermin, catch them—and hear no more of them. But you, the children of light, the elect saints, the poor of this world rich in faith, let the vermin eat your lives out, and then fall down and worship them afterwards. You are all besotted— hag-ridden—drunkards sitting in the stocks, and bowing down to the said stocks, and making a god thereof. Of part, said the prophet, ye make a god, and part serveth to roast—to roast the flesh of your sons and of your daughters; and then ye cry, ’Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire;’ and a special fire ye have seen! The ashes of your wives and of your brothers cleave to your clothes,—Cast them up to Heaven, cry aloud, and quit yourselves like men!
Gent. He speaks God’s truth! We are Heaven’s justicers! Our woes anoint us kings! Peace—Hark again!—
Preacher. Therefore, as said before—in the next place—It is written, that there shall be a two-edged sword in the hand of the saints. But the saints have but two swords—Was there a sword or shield found among ten thousand in Israel? Then let Israel use his fists, say I, the preacher! For this man hath shed blood, and by man shall his blood be shed. Now behold an argument,—This man hath shed blood, even Conrad; ergo, as he saith himself, ye, if ye are men, shall shed his blood. Doth he not himself say ergo? Hath he not said ergo to the poor saints, to your sons and your daughters, whom he hath burned in the fire to Moloch? ’Ergo, thou art a heretic’—’Ergo, thou shalt burn.’ Is he not therefore convicted out of his own mouth? Arise, therefore, be valiant—for this day he is delivered into your hand!