صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

The excommunicated Job?-Hast heard ?
The MENDICANT. I have.
Јов. Of this man you are now the guest.

Be welcome, sir. I am be whom they call
Job le Maudit. (Showing Magnus.)

My sons are here around me. (Showing Hatto, Gorlois and the rest.)

These, sons of my sons-
From my dead father hold I my old sword,
From my old sword a name renowned afar;
From my maternal ancestors is mine
This burg of Heppenheff. Name, burg and sword,

My guest, are yours! Speak now, free tongue and thought.
THE MENDICANT.

Princes, counts, signors, and you, prisoners, too,
All I salute! and say to each and all,
If in your breasts is calm repose, if nothing,
Thinking of actions past, can stir your souls,
But all is pure as is the blue of heaven,
Laugh, sing, be joyous !--else, O think on God!
Young men, and old! you, crowned with flowers,-
And
you
with

years for garlands. If heaven's eye hath seen
Your hands do evil, on the future look:
Swift pass the hours; age comes for you; for you

The sepulchre is open,” &c. Part 1, scene 7. Regina is cured, and Guanhumara claims from Otbert the fulfilment of his oath. He is to go at midnight to the tower of the black banner; there he will find a man alone, and masked, whom he is to follow. She solemnly consecrates to a work of vengeance the dagger she places in his hands. Job appears upon the scene; and, yielding to an impulse of kindness, amid the harrowing recollections of a life of cruelty, blesses Regina and Oibert, and bestows them upon each other. Otbert has won his affection, and is adopted by him in place of his youngest son George, stolen from him in his infancy, and supposed to be murdered by Jews. Something in the countenance and character of this ingenuous youth, reminds him of his lost child, more beloved than any of his living sons. Him, at least, he will make happy ; he promises to conceal the lovers in the donjon of the castle from the pursuit of Hatto, and that they shall escape at midnight. Otbert forgets his fatal oath in this new joy; but Guanhumara goes in search of Hatto, and brings him, with the other burgraves, upon the scene, while Job is gone to fetch the keys. Hatto sces his betrothed bride in the arms of another, and orders both to be arrested. Otbert defies

him to mortal combat. Regina swoons and is carried off. Hatto spurns the glove of Obert, alleging that he is not a free archer, but the son of a slave. The proud Marquis disdains to meet such an adversary, but in scorn he challenges any of those present, of noble birth, who will deign to espouse the cause of the friendless youth. At this the aged mendicant advances, and offers to be his champion. He snatches a sword from the armor on the wall. The Marquis, with a laugh, demands his name; the mendicant replies by announcing himself as Frederic of Swabia, Emperor of Germany. At the same time, he disengages from under his ragged cloak a cross, which he holds aloft as the cross of Charlemagne. Having violated the tomb of this monarch, he imposed upon himself a terrible penance, and has wandered for years in the desert, living on roots, and drinking from the springs; feared as a spectre by the superstitious shepherds, and mourned as dead by his people. But the groans of Germany summon him from his voluntary exile : he returns to the living, and calls upon them all to recognize him. Magnus springs forward, and bids him show his right arm; he sees there the scar of the wound he himself inflicted with the red-hot bar of iron, and proclaims to the astonished company that this person is indeed no other than Frederic Barbarossa.

The Emperor, in a long speech to these bandit Princes, reproaches them with their misdeeds, and threatens them with his vengeance. He orders the slaves set free, and claims the archers; Magnus, recovered from his first surprise, commands the sentinels to be tripled, the bridge to be raised, and the soldiers to hasten to the wood and build a gibbet worthy of an Emperor. The burgraves, encouraged by him, press around Barbarossa with cries and menaces. At this point, Job steps forth from the crowd, and raises his hand. All are silent.

Job (to the Emperor.),

Sire-Magnus speaks the truth. You are my foe.
I am the man, the soldier of revenge,
Who in years past rebelled against your power.
I hate you. But I would save Germany:
My country bends beneath a weight of gloom;
Save her! Lo! in this citadel I kneel

Before my Emperor, whom God brings back! (He kneels before Barbarossa, then turns toward the other princes and burgraves.)

'Tis you

To your knees-all! Down with your swords ! (All throw down their swords, and kneel, except Magnus ; Job speaks to the Emperor.)

Alone, are wanting to the stricken nations;
The land expires without you. There are yet
In Germany, two Germans-you and I.

You and I.*' 'Tis enough, sire-you may reign.” At the repeated and stern command of his father, Magnus also falls on his knees. Job orders the captives set at liberty; the soldiers obey him in silence; he bids the burgraves suffer themselves to be loaded with their chains, for such is the Emperor's will; and bows his neck first to the iron collar. The soldier at first refuses to put the badge of captivity on the neck of his chief ; but Job gives a sign of impatience, and it is done. The others submit sullenly, but without resistance. The old burgrave then turns to Frederic, and surrenders himself and his fortress,-asking only the favor, that he and his may be placed, still chained, in front of the battle when the Emperor encounters his enemies, to receive their onset, and drive them back with a terrible repulse. The captain of the archers belonging to the burg, advances to receive Job's orders; the old man shakes his head, and points to Barbarossa, who briefly orders the burgraves to prison. They are led off, with the exception of Job, who remains at a signal from the Emperor. When the two are left alone, Frederic approaches the old man, and unfastens his chain.

EMPEROR (looking in Jol's face.) Fosco!
JOB (starting with horror.) Great heaven!
EMPEROR. Hush! not a word! Await me

Where thou goest every night.” Part third shows us the century old burgrave alone with his remorse, in the Caveau Perdu. To his agonized exclamations of "Pardon for Fosco !" a voice in the darkness replies "Cain!" The murderer of his brother hears the ominous sound again and again; and presently Guanhumara, the impersonation of the divine vengeance that pursues the criminal, comes, veiled, upon the scene. She recals the minute circumstances of his crime to the astonished old man, who, grovelling under the anguish of an accusing conscience, implores her forbearance. At last, showing the chain fastened to her foot, she reveals herself as Ginevra, and threatens her

oppressor with death. Job thanks her; but she has not yet disclosed her fearful purpose. She informs him that his son George is living; it was she who had stolen him away; she shows the collar of gold and pearls worn by the child, which is instantly recognized by the agitated father. Otbert, the excellent and virtuous youth, is the lost son; and it is Otbert whom Guanhumara has chosen to execute her vengeance, and to be the assassin of his father. Two masked men enter, bearing a coffin ; Job uncovers it and beholds the form of Regina. She is not, however, dead; it is in the power of Guanhumara to restore her to health ; but she will do so, only on condition that the old man falls by the hand of his son. Unless he submits, both Regina and Otbert must die; and the fearful old woman swears by all she holds sacred, that the coffin shall not be carried from the vault empty. The men, at her signal, pass from the scene with their burden. Job fears not death, but shrinks from the thought of entailing on his beloved Otbert, the horrible remorse to which he has himself been a prey : Guanhumara consents that he shall die veiled. She throws her veil over him, and hastens away; Otbert enters, pale and half distracted, with a dagger in his hand. At his wild entreaties for pardon from his kneeling victim, Job clasps him in his arms. The youth recognizes his benefactor ; Job entreats him to save Regina by slaying him ; protests that he is not his father, and that the secret impulse which tells him so is only a delusion; implores him to put an end to his sufferings ; accuses himself of a frightful crime, for which he has long deserved death. Otbert raises the dagger; Job kneels to receive the blow.

Job. See, what a monster! Him I stabbed-strike thou!

I slew him—twas my brother! (Some one catches Otbert's arm; he turns and sees the Emperor.)

EMPEROR. I am he. (Otbert drops the dagger. Job rises and looks at Frederic. Guanhumara is seen behind the pillar on the left.)

JOB. You?
OTBERT. 'Tis the Emperor.
EMPEROR. Frederic of Swabia,

Our father, and thy king, brought me to thee;

Wherefore? I know not.
JOB. You—my brother!
EMPEROR. Bleeding,

But living yet, from this barred window thrown;
Thou said'st, 'For thee be death-and hell for me!
I heard those words, while hovering o'er the abyss;

Then down I fell.
JOB (clasping his hands.)

'Tis true. Heaven spared the crime!
EMPEROR. The shepherds saved me.
JOR ( falling prostrate.) I am at thy feet:

Avenge thyself!
EMPEROR. Come to my arms, my brother!

Are we not both now at the gates of death?
I pardon thee! (He raises and embraces him.)

Guanhumara' is no longer an avenger; she restores to Job his son George, and to the latter his bride, Regina; then, to keep her oath that the coffin shall not depart empty, drinks a phial of deadly poison, and expires at the feet of the Emperor, her former lover. Barbarossa informs his brother that the heralds of the empire have just proclaimed Frederic, his grandson, who has been elected Emperor at Spire. Germany has a sovereign, and Barbarossa will return to his solitudes; having reconciled himself to his brother, and enjoyed once more the happiness of bestowing a benediction on faithful subjects.

It will not be difficult to perceive how much of wildness and exaggeration is contained in the plot of this piece ; and these defects deprive it of pathos, for we can hardly be touched by calamities that draw so largely on our wonder. The “trilogie” has merit, however, as a picture of those mighty "Titans of the Rhine;" and the termination is less objectionable than that of the other dramas we have no-, ticed, outraging neither morality nor humanity. If we cannot say it is on the whole a more skilfully constructed play, it is not, at least, marred by gross violations of decorum. Meantime, the taste of the reading public of the present day, which M. Hugo's earlier works have helped to form, craves the unnatural and exciting literary aliment to be found in his dramas and novels,—those of Dumas, and other writers of the same stamp. Delineations of truth and nature, have no power to move the popular mind. The same feverish appetite has spread throughout this country, pampered by the same unwholesome food; till we have become as implicit followers of the French in the fashion of our light literature, as in the fashion of our dress. Something more piquant

« السابقةمتابعة »