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SCENE I-A Forest.
Enter ARNOLD and his mother BERTHA.
Bertha. Our, hunchback!
Arnold. I was born so, mother!
Thou Incubus! Thou Nightmare! Of seven
The sole abortion!
Arnold. Would that I had been so, And never seen the light!
Bertha. I would so too!
But as thou hast -hence, hence and do thy best.
That back of thine may bear its burthen; 'tis More high, if not so broad as that of others. Arnold. It bears its burthen;-but, my heart! Will it
Sustain that which you lay upon it, mother? I love, or at the least, I loved you: nothing, Save you, in nature, can love aught like me. You nursed me-do not kill me.
Bertha. Yes-I nursed thee, Because thou wert my first-born, and knew not
If there would be another unlike thee, That monstrous sport of nature. But get hence,
As foolish hens at times hatch vipers, by Sitting upon strange eggs. Out, urchin, out! [Exit Bertha. Arnold (solus). Oh mother! - She is gone, and I must do
Her bidding;- wearily but willingly I would fulfil it, could I only hope A kind word in return. What shall I do? [Arnold begins to cut wood: in doing this he wounds one of his hands. My labour for the day is over now. Accursed be this blood that flows so fast; For double curses will be my meed now At home. What home? I have no home, no kin,
No kind-not made like other creatures, or To share their sports or pleasures. Must I bleed too
Would rise a snake to sting them, as they have stung me!
Or that the devil, to whom they liken me,
Even to this hateful aspect. Let me wash
Unto what brought me into life? Thou blood, | You deem, a single moment would have Which flowest so freely from a scratch,
Try if thou wilt not in a fuller stream
Mine, and for ever, by your suicide ;
You were the demon, but that your approach
Stranger. Unless you keep company With him (and you seem scarce used to such high
Society) you can't tell how he approaches; This knife! now let me prove if it will sever And for his aspect, look upon the fountain, This wither'd slip of nature's nightshade— | And then on me, and judge which of us
Vile form-from the creation, as it hath The green bough from the forest. [Arnold places the knife in the ground, with the point upwards.
Now 'tis set, And I can fall upon it. Yet one glance On the fair day, which sees no foul thing like Myself, and the sweet sun, which warmed me, but
In vain. The birds-how joyously they sing! So let them, for I would not be lamented: But let their merriest notes be Arnold's knell ;
The falling leaves my monument; the
The fountain moves without a wind: but shall
The ripple of a spring change my resolve? No. Yet it moves again! The waters stir, Not as with air, but by some subterrane And rocking power of the internal world. What's here? A mist! No more?
[A cloud comes from the fountain. He stands gazing upon it: it is dispelled, and a tall black man comes towards him.
Arnold. What would you? Speak! Spirit or man?
Stranger. As man is both, why not Say both in one?
Arnold. Your form is man's, and yet You may be devil.
Stranger. So many men are that Which is so called or thought, that you may add me
To which you please, without much wrong
twain Looks likest what the boors believe to be Their cloven-footed terror.
Arnold. Do you- dare you To taunt me with my born deformity? Stranger. Were I to taunt a buffalo with this
Cloven foot of thine, or the swift dromedary
In action and endurance than thyself,
When he spurns high the dust, beholding his
Arnold (with surprise). Thou canst?
Stranger. Not I. Why should I mock What all are mocking? That's poor sport methinks.
To talk to thee in human language (for
Such scullion-prey. The meanest gibe at thee,
Now I can mock the mightiest.
Thy time on me: I seek thee not.
Are not far from me. Do not send me back:
Arnold. What wilt thou do for me?
Shapes with you, if you will, since yours so irks you;
Or form you to your wish in any shape.
Arnold. Oh! then you are indeed the demon, for
Nought else would wittingly wear mine. Stranger. I'll show thee
The brightest which the world e'er bore, and give thee
Arnold. On what condition ?
Stranger. There's a question!
An hour ago you would have given your soul To look like other men, and now you pause To wear the form of heroes.
Arnold. No; I will not.
I must not compromise my soul.
Worth naming so, would dwell in such a carcass?
Arnold. 'Tis an aspiring one, whate'er the tenement
In which it is mislodged. But name your compact:
Must it be signed in blood?
Stranger. Not in your own.
Stranger. We will talk of that hereafter. But I'll be moderate with you, for I see Great things within you. You shall have no bond
But your own will, no contract save your deeds.
Are you content?
Arnold. I take thee at thy word.
[The Stranger approaches the fountain,
A little of your blood, Arnold. For what? Stranger. To mingle with the magic of the waters,
And make the charm effective.
Arnold (holding out his wounded arm). Take it all.
Stranger. Not now. A few drops will suffice for this.
[The Stranger takes some of Arnold's
Shadows of Power!
Rise to your duty
This is the hour!
Walk lovely and pliant
From the depth of this fountain,
Bestrides the Hartz-mountain.
That our eyes may behold'
The model in air
Of the form I will mould,
Bright as the Iris
When ether is spann'd ;—
Such his desire is, [Pointing to Arnold.
Such my command!
Demons who wore
The form of the Stofc
Shadows of Power!
[Various Phantoms arise from the waters and pass in succession before the Stranger and Arnold.
Arnold. What do I see?
Stranger. The black-eyed Roman, with The eagle's beak between those eyes which
Beheld a conqueror, or look'd along The land he made not Rome's, while Rome became
His, and all theirs who heir'd his very name. Arnold. The Phantom's bald; my quest is beauty. Could I
Inherit but his fame with his defects! Stranger. His brow was girt with laurels more than hairs.
You see his aspect-choose it or reject.
But not as a mock-Cæsar. Let him pass;
Than Cato's sister, or than Brutus' mother,
[The Phantom of Julius Cæsar disappears.
| Be, that the man who shook the earth is gone And left no footstep?
Stranger. There you err. His substance Left graves enough, and woes enough, and fame
More than enough to track his memory;
[A second Phantom passes.
Arnold. Who is he?
Stranger. He was the fairest and the bravest of
Athenians. Look upon him well.
More lovely than the last. How beautiful!
Invest thee with his form?
Arnold. Would that I had
Been born with it! But since I may choose further,
I will look further.
[The Shade of Alcibiades disappears.
Let him fleet on
Stranger. Be air, thou hemlock-drinker! [The Shadow of Socrates disappears: another rises.
Arnold. What's here? whose broad brow
And manly aspect look like Hercules,
Than the sad Purger of the infernal world,
Stranger. It was the man who lost
Arnold. I cannot blame him,
That which he exchanged the earth for.
You seem congenial, will you wear his
Arnold. No. As you leave me choice, I am difficult,
If but to see the heroes I should ne'er
Whence they float back before us.
[The Shade of Anthony disappears
Arnold. Who is this?
If not more high than mortal, yet immortal
Which shines from him, and yet is but the
Stranger. Let the earth speak,
If there be atoms of him left, or even
Of Greece in peace, her thunderbolt in war—
Arnold. Yet one shadow more.
[The Shade of Demetrius Poliorcetes
Stranger. I'll fit you still,
Fear not, my Hunchback. If the shadows of
I'll animate the ideal marble, till
The unshorn boy of Peleus, with his locks
And him—as he stood by Polixena,
The altar, gazing on his Trojan bride,
For the sweet downcast virgin, whose
Trembled in his who slew her brother. So
Ere Paris' arrow flew.
Arnold. I gaze upon him
As if I were his soul, whose form shall soon
Stranger. You have done well. The
Deformity should only barter with
I am impatient.
Stranger. As a youthful beauty
Arnold. Must I wait?
Stranger. No; that were pity. But a
His stature is twelve cubits: would you so far
Arnold. Why not?
I love thee most in dwarfs. A mortal of
Their culverins and so forth, would find way Through our friend's armour there, with greater ease
Than the adulterer's arrow through his heel
Arnold. Then let it be as thou deem'st best. Stranger. Thou shalt be beauteous as the thing thou seest,
And strong as what it was, and—
Arnold. I ask not
For valour, since deformity is daring. It is its essence to o'ertake mankind
Had she exposed me, like the Spartan, ere I knew the passionate part of life, I had Been a clod of the valley,-happier nothing Than what I am. But even thus, the lowest, Ugliest, and meanest of mankind, what
And perseverance could have done,perchance Had made me something-as it has made heroes
Of the same mould as mine. You lately
Master of my own life, and quick to quit it; And he who is so, is the master of Whatever dreads to die.
Stranger. Decide between What you have been, or will be. Arnold. I have done so.
You have open'd brighter prospects to my eyes,
And sweeter to my heart. As I am now,
Stranger. And what shall I wear? Arnold. Surely he
By heart and soul,and make itself the equal-Haste! haste!
And oft, like Timour the lame Tartar, win
Stranger. Well spoken! And thou doubt-
Formed as thou art? I may dismiss the mould
This daring soul,which could achieve no less Without it?
Arnold. Had no Power presented me
In feeling, on my heart as on my shoulders-
On beauty in that sex which is the type
not love me
In turn, because of this vile crooked clog Which makes me lonely. Nay, I could have borne
It all, had not my mother spurned me from
The she-bear licks her cubs into a sort Of shape;—my dam beheld my shape was hopeless.
Who can command all forms, will choose the highest,
Something superior even to that which was
The poet's God, clothed in such limbs as are
Stranger. Less will content me; For I too love a change.
Arnold. Your aspect is Dusky, but not uncomely. Stranger. If I chose,
I might be whiter; but I have a penchant
But I have worn it long enough of late,
Stranger. Yes. You
Shall change with Thetis' son, and I with Bertha
Your mother's offspring. People have their tastes;
You have yours-I mine.
Arnold. Despatch! despatch!
[The Stranger takes some earth and
then addresses the Phantom of Achilles.
Of Thetis's boy!
Who sleeps in the meadow