Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part III. The New England Tragedies. John Endicott. Act V

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Christus: A Mystery

Part III. The New England Tragedies. John Endicott. Act V

SCENE I.—Daybreak. Street in front of UPSALL’S house. A light in the window. Enter JOHN ENDICOTT.

O SILENT, sombre, and deserted streets,

To me ye ’re peopled with a sad procession,

And echo only to the voice of sorrow!

O houses full of peacefulness and sleep,

Far better were it to awake no more

Than wake to look upon such scenes again!

There is a light in Master Upsall’s window.

The good man is already risen, for sleep

Deserts the couches of the old.

Knocks at UPSALL’S door.

UPSALL(at the window).
Who ’s there?

Am I so changed you do not know my voice?

I know you. Have you heard what things have happened?

I have heard nothing.

Stay; I will come down.

I am afraid some dreadful news awaits me!

I do not dare to ask, yet am impatient

To know the worst. Oh, I am very weary

With waiting and with watching and pursuing!


Thank God, you have come back! I ’ve much to tell you.

Where have you been?

You know that I was seized,

Fined, and released again. You know that Edith,

After her scourging in three towns, was banished

Into the wilderness, into the land

That is not sown; and there I followed her,

But found her not. Where is she?

She is here.

Oh, do not speak that word, for it means death!

No, it means life. She sleeps in yonder chamber.

Listen to me. When news of Leddra’s death

Reached England, Edward Burroughs, having boldly

Got access to the presence of the King,

Told him there was a vein of innocent blood

Opened in his dominions here, which threatened

To overrun them all. The King replied,

“But I will stop that vein!” and he forthwith

Sent his Mandamus to our Magistrates,

That they proceed no further in this business.

So all are pardoned, and all set at large.

Thank God! This is a victory for truth!

Our thoughts are free. They cannot be shut up

In prison walls, nor put to death on scaffolds!

Come in; the morning air blows sharp and cold

Through the damp streets.

It is the dawn of day

That chases the old darkness from our sky,

And fills the land with liberty and light.[Exeunt.

SCENE II.—The parlor of the Three Mariners. Enter KEMPTHORN.

A dull life this,—a dull life anyway!

Ready for sea; the cargo all aboard,

Cleared for Barbadoes, and a fair wind blowing

From nor’-nor’-west; and I, an idle lubber,

Laid neck and heels by that confounded bond!

I said to Ralph, says I, “What ’s to be done?”

Says he: “Just slip your hawser in the night;

Sheer off, and pay it with the topsail, Simon.”

But that won’t do; because, you see, the owners

Somehow or other are mixed up with it.

Here are King Charles’s Twelve Good Rules, that Cole

Thinks as important as the Rule of Three.


“Make no comparisons; make no long meals.”

Those are good rules and golden for a landlord

To hang in his best parlor, framed and glazed!

“Maintain no ill opinions; urge no healths.”

I drink the King’s, whatever he may say,

And, as to ill opinions, that depends.

Now of Ralph Goldsmith I ’ve a good opinion,

And of the bilboes I ’ve an ill opinion;

And both of these opinions I ’ll maintain

As long as there ’s a shot left in the locker.

Enter EDWARD BUTTER with an ear-trumpet.

Good morning, Captain Kempthorn.

Sir, to you.

You ’ve the advantage of me. I don’t know you.

What may I call your name?

That ’s not your name?

Yes, that ’s my name. What ’s yours?

My name is Butter.

I am the treasurer of the Commonwealth.

Will you be seated?

What say? Who ’s conceited?

Will you sit down?

Oh, thank you.

Spread yourself

Upon this chair, sweet Butter.

BUTTER(sitting down).
A fine morning.

Nothing ’s the matter with it that I know of.

I have seen better, and I have seen worse.

The wind ’s nor’west. That ’s fair for them that sail.

You need not speak so loud; I understand you.

You sail to-day.

No, I don’t sail to-day.

So, be it fair or foul, it matters not.

Say, will you smoke? There ’s choice tobacco here.

No, thank you. It ’s against the law to smoke.

Then, will you drink? There ’s good ale at this inn.

No, thank you. It ’s against the law to drink.

Well, almost everything ’s against the law

In this good town. Give a wide berth to one thing,

You ’re sure to fetch up soon on something else.

And so you sail to-day for dear Old England.

I am not one of those who think a sup

Of this New England air is better worth

Than a whole draught of our Old England’s ale.

Nor I. Give me the ale and keep the air.

But, as I said, I do not sail to-day.

Ah yes; you sail to-day.

I ’m under bonds

To take some Quakers back to the Barbadoes;

And one of them is banished, and another

Is sentenced to be hanged.

No, all are pardoned,

All are set free, by order of the Court;

But some of them would fain return to England.

You must not take them. Upon that condition

Your bond is cancelled.

Ah, the wind has shifted!

I pray you, do you speak officially?

I always speak officially. To prove it,

Here is the bond.

Rising and giving a paper.

And here ’s my hand upon it.

And, look you, when I say I ’ll do a thing

The thing is done. Am I now free to go?

What say?

I say, confound the tedious man

With his strange speaking-trumpet! Can I go?

You ’re free to go, by order of the Court.

Your servant, sir.[Exit.

KEMPTHORN (shouting from the window).
Swallow, ahoy! Hallo!

If ever a man was happy to leave Boston,

That man is Simon Kempthorn of the Swallow!

Reënter BUTTER.

Pray, did you call?

Call? Yes, I hailed the Swallow.

That ’s not my name. My name is Edward Butter.

You need not speak so loud.

KEMPTHORN (shaking hands).
Good-by! Good-by!

Your servant, sir.

And yours a thousand times![Exeunt.

SCENE III.—GOVERNOR ENDICOTT’S private room. An open window. ENDICOTT seated in an arm-chair. BELLINGHAM standing near.

O lost, O loved! wilt thou return no more?

O loved and lost, and loved the more when lost!

How many men are dragged into their graves

By their rebellious children! I now feel

The agony of a father’s breaking heart

In David’s cry, “O Absalom, my son!”

Can you not turn your thoughts a little while

To public matters? There are papers here

That need attention.

Trouble me no more!

My business now is with another world.

Ah, Richard Bellingham! I greatly fear

That in my righteous zeal I have been led

To doing many things which, left undone,

My mind would now be easier. Did I dream it,

Or has some person told me, that John Norton

Is dead?

You have not dreamed it. He is dead,

And gone to his reward. It was no dream.

Then it was very sudden; for I saw him

Standing where you now stand, not long ago.

By his own fireside, in the afternoon,

A faintness and a giddiness came o’er him;

And, leaning on the chimney-piece, he cried,

“The hand of God is on me!” and fell dead.

And did not some one say, or have I dreamed it,

That Humphrey Atherton is dead?


He too is gone, and by a death as sudden.

Returning home one evening, at the place

Where usually the Quakers have been scourged,

His horse took fright, and threw him to the ground,

So that his brains were dashed about the street.

I am not superstitious, Bellingham,

And yet I tremble lest it may have been

A judgment on him.

So the people think.

They say his horse saw standing in the way

The ghost of William Leddra, and was frightened.

And furthermore, brave Richard Davenport,

The captain of the Castle, in the storm

Has been struck dead by lightning.

Speak no more.

For as I listen to your voice it seems

As if the Seven Thunders uttered their voices,

And the dead bodies lay about the streets

Of the disconsolate city! Bellingham,

I did not put those wretched men to death.

I did but guard the passage with the sword

Pointed towards them, and they rushed upon it!

Yet now I would that I had taken no part

In all that bloody work.

The guilt of it

Be on their heads, not ours.

Are all set free?

All are at large.

And none have been sent back

To England to malign us with the King?

The ship that brought them sails this very hour,

But carries no one back.

A distant cannon.

What is that gun?

Her parting signal. Through the window there,

Look, you can see her sails, above the roofs,

Dropping below the Castle, outward bound.

O white, white, white! Would that my soul had wings

As spotless as those shining sails to fly with!

Now lay this cushion straight. I thank you. Hark!

I thought I heard the hall door open and shut!

I thought I heard the footsteps of my boy!

It was the wind. There ’s no one in the passage.

O Absalom, my son! I feel the world

Sinking beneath me, sinking, sinking, sinking!

Death knocks! I go to meet him! Welcome, Death!

Rises, and sinks back dead; his head falling aside upon his shoulder.

O ghastly sight! Like one who has been hanged!

Endicott! Endicott! He makes no answer!

Raises ENDICOTT’S head.

He breathes no more! How bright this signet-ring

Glitters upon his hand, where he has worn it

Through such long years of trouble, as if Death

Had given him this memento of affection,

And whispered in his ear, “Remember me!”

How placid and how quiet is his face,

Now that the struggle and the strife are ended!

Only the acrid spirit of the times

Corroded this true steel. Oh, rest in peace,

Courageous heart! Forever rest in peace!