The Saint's Tragedy
Part 4 out of 4
men give up all for the Gospel's sake. And now these Pharisees of
Franciscans will go off with full pockets--
1st Monk. While we poor publicans--
2d Monk. Shall not come home all of us justified, I think.
1st Monk. How? Is there scandal among us?
2d Monk. Ask not--ask not. Even a fool, when he holds his peace,
is counted wise. Of all sins, avoid that same gossiping.
1st Monk. Nay, tell me now. Are we not like David and Jonathan?
Have we not worked together, prayed together, journeyed together,
and been soundly flogged together, more by token, any time this
forty years? And now is news so plenty, that thou darest to defraud
me of a morsel?
2d Monk. I'll tell thee--but be secret. I knew a man hard by the
convent [names are dangerous, and a bird of the air shall carry the
matter], one that hath a mighty eye for a heretic, if thou knowest
1st Monk. Who carries his poll screwed on over-tight, and sits with
his eyes shut in chapel?
2d Monk. The same. Such a one to be in evil savour--to have the
splendour of the pontifical countenance turned from him, as though
he had taken Christians for Amalekites, and slain the people of the
1st Monk. How now?
2d Monk. I only speak as I hear: for my sister's son is chaplain,
for the time being, to a certain Archisacerdos, a foreigner, now
lodging where thou knowest. The young mail being hid, after some
knavery, behind the arras, in come our quidam and that prelate. The
quidam, surly and Saxon--the guest, smooth and Italian; his words
softer than butter, yet very swords: that this quidam had 'exceeded
the bounds of his commission--launched out into wanton and lawless
cruelty--burnt noble ladies unheard, of whose innocence the Holy See
had proof--defiled the Catholic faith in the eyes of the weaker
sort--and alienated the minds of many nobles and gentlemen'--and
finally, that he who thinketh he standeth, were wise to take heed
lest he fall.
1st Monk. And what said Conrad?
2d Monk. Out upon a man that cannot keep his lips! Who spake of
Conrad? That quidam, however, answered nought, but--how 'to his own
master he stood or fell'--how 'he laboured not for the Pope but for
the Papacy'; and so forth.
1st Monk. Here is awful doctrine! Behold the fruit of your
reformers! This comes of their realised ideas, and centralisations,
and organisations, till a monk cannot wink in chapel without being
blinded with the lantern, or fall sick on Fridays, for fear of the
rod. Have I not testified? Have I not foretold?
2d Monk. Thou hast indeed. Thou knowest that the old paths are
best, and livest in most pious abhorrence of all amendment.
1st Monk. Do you hear that shout? There is the procession
returning from the tomb.
2d Monk. Hark to the tramp of the horse-hoofs! A gallant show,
1st Monk. Time was, now, when we were young bloods together in the
world, such a roll as that would have set our hearts beating against
2d Monk. Ay, ay. We have seen sport in our day; we have paraded
and curvetted, eh? and heard scabbards jingle? We know the sly
touch of the heel, that set him on his hind legs before the right
window. Vanitas vanitatum--omnia vanitas! Here comes Gerard,
Conrad's chaplain, with our dinner.
[Gerard enters across the court.]
1st Monk. A kindly youth and a godly, but--reformation-bitten, like
2d Monk. Never care. Boys must take the reigning madness in
religion, as they do the measles--once for all.
1st Monk. Once too often for him. His face is too, too like Abel's
in the chapel-window. Ut sis vitalis metuo, puer!
Ger. Hail, fathers. I have asked permission of the prior to
minister your refection, and bring you thereby the first news of the
1st Monk. Blessings on thee for a good boy. Give us the trenchers,
and open thy mouth while we open ours.
2d Monk. Most splendid all, no doubt?
Ger. A garden, sir,
Wherein all rainbowed flowers were heaped together;
A sea of silk and gold, of blazoned banners,
And chargers housed; such glorious press, be sure,
Thuringen-land ne'er saw.
2d Monk. Just hear the boy!
Who rode beside the bier?
Ger. Frederic the Kaiser,
Henry the Landgrave, brother of her husband;
The Princesses, too, Agnes, and her mother;
And every noble name, sir, at whose war-cry
The Saxon heart leaps up; with them the prelates
Of Treves, of Coln, and Maintz--why name them all?
When all were there, whom this our fatherland
Counts worthy of its love.
1st Monk. 'Twas but her right.
Who spoke the oration?
Ger. Who but Conrad?
2d Monk. Well--
That's honour to our house.
1st Monk. Come, tell us all.
2d Monk. In order, boy: thou hast a ready tongue.
Ger. He raised from off her face the pall, and 'Lo!'
He cried, 'that saintly flesh which ye of late
With sacrilegious hands, ere yet entombed,
Had in your superstitious selfishness
Almost torn piecemeal. Fools! Gross-hearted fools!
These limbs are God's, not yours: in life for you
They spent themselves; now till the judgment-day
By virtue of the Spirit embalmed they lie--
Touch them who dare. No! Would you find your Saint,
Look up, not down, where even now she prays
Beyond that blazing orb for you and me.
Why hither bring her corpse? Why hide her clay
In jewelled ark beneath God's mercy-seat--
A speck of dust among these boundless aisles,
Uprushing pillars, star-bespangled roofs,
Whose colours mimic Heaven's unmeasured blue,
Save to remind you, how she is not here,
But risen with Him that rose, and by His blaze
Absorbed, lives in the God for whom she died?
Know her no more according to the flesh;
Or only so, to brand upon your thoughts
How she was once a woman--flesh and blood,
Like you--yet how unlike! Hark while I tell ye.'
2d Monk. How liked the mob all this? They hate him sore.
Ger. Half awed, half sullen, till his golden lips
Entranced all ears with tales so sad and strange,
They seemed one life-long miracle: bliss and woe,
Honour and shame--her daring--Heaven's stern guidance,
Did each the other so outblaze.
1st Monk. Great signs
Did wait on her from youth.
2d Monk. There went a tale
Of one, a Zingar wizard, who, on her birthnight,
He here in Eisenach, she in Presburg lying,
Declared her natal moment, and the glory
Which should befall her by the grace of God.
Ger. He spoke of that, and many a wonder more,
Melting all hearts to worship--how a robe
Which from her shoulders, at a royal feast,
To some importunate as alms she sent,
By miracle within her bower was hung again:
And how on her own couch the Incarnate Son
In likeness of a leprous serf, she laid:
And many a wondrous tale till now unheard;
Which, from her handmaid's oath and attestation,
Siegfried of Maintz to far Perugia sent,
And sainted Umbria's labyrinthine hills,
Even to the holy Council, where the Patriarchs
Of Antioch and Jerusalem, and with them
A host of prelates, magnates, knights, and nobles,
Decreed and canonised her sainthood's palm.
1st Monk. Mass, they could do no less.
Ger. So thought my master--
For 'Thus,' quoth he, 'the primates of the Faith
Have, in the bull which late was read to you,
Most wisely ratified the will of God
Revealed in her life's splendour; for the next count--
These miracles wherewith since death she shines--
Since ye must have your signs, ere ye believe,
And since without such tests the Roman Father
Allows no saints to take their seats in heaven,
Why, there ye have them; not a friar, I find,
Or old wife in the streets, but counts some dozens
Of blind, deaf, halt, dumb, palsied, and hysterical,
Made whole at this her tomb. A corpse or two
Was raised, they say, last week: Will that content you?
Will that content her? Earthworms! Would ye please the dead,
Bring sinful souls, not limping carcases
To test her power on; which of you hath done that?
Has any glutton learnt from her to fast?
Or oily burgher dealt away his pelf?
Has any painted Jezebel in sackcloth
Repented of her vanities? Your patron?
Think ye, that spell and flame of intercession,
Melting God's iron will, which for your sakes
She purchased by long agonies, was but meant
To save your doctors' bills? If any soul
Hath been by her made holier, let it speak!'
2d Monk. Well spoken, Legate! Easier asked than answered.
Ger. Not so, for on the moment, from the crowd
Sprang out a gay and gallant gentleman
Well known in fight and tourney, and aloud
With sobs and blushes told, how he long time
Had wallowed deep in mire of fleshly sin,
And loathed, and fell again, and loathed in vain;
Until the story of her saintly grace
Drew him unto her tomb; there long prostrate
With bitter cries he sought her, till at length
The image of her perfect loveliness
Transfigured all his soul, and from his knees
He rose new-born, and, since that blessed day,
In chastest chivalry, a spotless knight,
Maintains the widow's and the orphan's cause.
1st Monk. Well done! and what said Conrad?
Ger. Oh, he smiled,
As who should say, ''Twas but the news I looked for.'
Then, pointing to the banners borne on high,
Where the sad story of her nightly penance
Was all too truly painted--'Look!' he cried,
''Twas thus she schooled her soft and shuddering flesh
To dare and suffer for you!' Gay ladies sighed,
And stern knights wept, and growled, and wept again.
And then he told her alms, her mighty labours,
Among God's poor, the schools wherein she taught;
The babes she brought to the font, the hospitals
Founded from her own penury, where she tended
The leper and the fever-stricken serf
With meanest office; how a dying slave
Who craved in vain for milk she stooped to feed
From her own bosom. At that crowning tale
Of utter love, the dullest hearts caught fire
Contagious from his lips--the Spirit's breath
Low to the earth, like dewy-laden corn,
Bowed the ripe harvest of that mighty host;
Knees bent, all heads were bare; rich dames aloud
Bewailed their cushioned sloth; old foes held out
Long parted hands; low murmured vows and prayers
Gained courage, till a shout proclaimed her saint,
And jubilant thunders shook the ringing air,
Till birds dropped stunned, and passing clouds bewept
With crystal drops, like sympathising angels,
Those wasted limbs, whose sainted ivory round
Shed Eden-odours: from his royal head
The Kaiser took his crown, and on the bier
Laid the rich offering; dames tore off their jewels--
Proud nobles heaped with gold and gems her corse
Whom living they despised: I saw no more--
Mine eyes were blinded with a radiant mist--
And I ran here to tell you.
1st Monk. Oh, fair olive,
Rich with the Spirit's unction, how thy boughs
Rain balsams on us!
2d Monk. Thou didst sell thine all--
And bought'st the priceless pearl!
1st Monk. Thou holocaust of Abel,
By Cain in vain despised!
2d Monk. Thou angels' playmate
Of yore, but now their judge!
Ger. Thou alabaster,
Broken at last, to fill the house of God
With rich celestial fragrance!
[Etc. etc., ad libitum.]
A room in a convent at Mayence. Conrad alone.
Con. The work is done! Diva Elizabeth!
And I have trained one saint before I die!
Yet now 'tis done, is't well done? On my lips
Is triumph: but what echo in my heart?
Alas! the inner voice is sad and dull,
Even at the crown and shout of victory.
Oh! I had hugged this purpose to my heart,
Cast by for it all ruth, all pride, all scruples;
Yet now its face, that seemed as pure as crystal,
Shows fleshly, foul, and stained with tears and gore!
We make, and moil, like children in their gardens,
And spoil with dabbled hands, our flowers i' the planting.
And yet a saint is made! Alas, those children!
Was there no gentler way? I know not any:
I plucked the gay moth from the spider's web;
What if my hasty hand have smirched its feathers?
Sure, if the whole be good, each several part
May for its private blots forgiveness gain,
As in man's tabernacle, vile elements
Unite to one fair stature. Who'll gainsay it?
The whole is good; another saint in heaven;
Another bride within the Bridegroom's arms;
And she will pray for me!--And yet what matter?
Better that I, this paltry sinful unit,
Fall fighting, crushed into the nether pit,
If my dead corpse may bridge the path to Heaven,
And damn itself, to save the souls of others.
A noble ruin: yet small comfort in it;
In it, or in aught else----
A blank dim cloud before mine inward sense
Dulls all the past: she spoke of such a cloud--
I struck her for't, and said it was a fiend--
She's happy now, before the throne of God--
I should be merry; yet my heart's floor sinks
As on a fast day; sure some evil bodes.
Would it were here, that I might see its eyes!
The future only is unbearable!
We quail before the rising thunderstorm
Which thrills and whispers in the stifled air,
Yet blench not, when it falls. Would it were here!
I fain would sleep, yet dare not: all the air
Throngs thick upon me with the pregnant terror
Of life unseen, yet near. I dare not meet them,
As if I sleep I shall do--I again?
What matter what I feel, or like, or fear?
Come what God sends. Within there--Brother Gerard!
Watch here an hour, and pray.--The fiends are busy.
So--hold my hand. [Crosses himself.] Come on, I fear you not.
Qui fugiens rnundi gravia
Contempsit carnis bravia,
Lucratur, perdens, omnia.
Hunc gestant ulnis angeli,
Ne lapis officiat pedi;
Ne luce timor occupet,
Aut nocte pestis incubet.
Huic coeli lilia germinant;
Arrisus sponsi permanent;
Ac nomen in fidelibus
Quam filiorum medius. [Sleeps.]
. . . . .
Conrad [awaking]. Stay! Spirits, stay! Art thou a hell-born
Or word too true, sent by the mother of God?
Oh, tell me, queen of Heaven!
O God! if she, the city of the Lord,
Who is the heart, the brain, the ruling soul
Of half the earth; wherein all kingdoms, laws,
Authority, and faith do culminate,
And draw from her their sanction and their use;
The lighthouse founded on the rock of ages,
Whereto the Gentiles look, and still are healed;
The tree whose rootlets drink of every river,
Whose boughs drop Eden fruits on seaward isles;
Christ's seamless coat, rainbowed with gems and hues
Of all degrees and uses, rend, and tarnish,
And crumble into dust!
Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas!
Oh! to have prayed, and toiled--and lied--for this!
For this to have crushed out the heart of youth,
And sat by calm, while living bodies burned!
How! Gerard; sleeping!
Couldst thou not watch with me one hour, my son?
Ger. [awaking]. How! have I slept? Shame on my vaporous brain!
And yet there crept along my hand from thine
A leaden languor, and the drowsy air
Teemed thick with humming wings--I slept perforce.
Forgive me (while for breach of holy rule
Due penance shall seem honour) my neglect.
Con. I should have beat thee for't, an hour agone--
Now I judge no man. What are rules and methods?
I have seen things which make my brain-sphere reel:
My magic teraph-bust, full-packed, and labelled,
With saws, ideas, dogmas, ends, and theories,
Lies shivered into dust. Pah! we do squint
Each through his loophole, and then dream, broad heaven
Is but the patch we see. But let none know;
Be silent, Gerard, wary.
Ger. Nay--I know nought
Of that which moves thee: though I fain would ask--
Con. I saw our mighty Mother, Holy Church,
Sit like a painted harlot: round her limbs
An oily snake had coiled, who smiled, and smiled,
And lisped the name of Jesus--I'll not tell thee:
I have seen more than man can see, and live:
God, when He grants the tree of knowledge, bans
The luckless seer from off the tree of life,
Lest he become as gods, and burst with pride;
Or sick at sight of his own nothingness,
Lie down, and be a fiend: my time is near:
Well--I have neither child, nor kin, nor friend,
Save thee, my son; I shall go lightly forth.
Thou knowest we start for Marpurg on the morrow?
Thou wilt go with me?
Ger. Ay, to death, my master;
Yet boorish heretics, with grounded throats,
Mutter like sullen bulls; the Count of Saym,
And many gentlemen, they say, have sworn
A fearful oath: there's danger in the wind.
Con. They have their quarrel; I was keen and hasty:
Gladio qui utitur, peribit gladio.
When Heaven is strong, then Hell is strong: Thou fear'st not?
Ger. No! though their name were legion! 'Tis for thee
Alone I quake, lest by some pious boldness
Thou quench the light of Israel.
Con. Light? my son!
There shall no light be quenched, when I lie dark.
Our path trends outward: we will forth to-morrow.
Now let's to chapel; matin bells are ringing. [Exeunt.]
A road between Eisenach and Marpurg. Peasants waiting by the
roadside. Walter of Varila, the Count of Saym, and other gentlemen
entering on horseback.
Gent. Talk not of honour--Hell's aflame within me:
Foul water quenches fire as well as fair;
If I do meet him he shall die the death,
Come fair, come foul: I tell you, there are wrongs
The fumbling piecemeal law can never touch,
Which bring of themselves to the injured, right divine,
Straight from the fount of right, above all parchments,
To be their own avengers: dainty lawyers,
If one shall slay the adulterer in the act,
Dare not condemn him: girls have stabbed their tyrants,
And common sense has crowned them saints; yet what--
What were their wrongs to mine? All gone! All gone!
My noble boys, whom I had trained, poor fools,
To win their spurs, and ride afield with me!
I could have spared them--but my wife! my lady!
Those dainty limbs, which no eyes but mine--
Before that ruffian mob--Too much for man!
Too much, stern Heaven!--Those eyes, those hands,
Those tender feet, where I have lain and worshipped--
Food for fierce flames! And on the self-same day--
The day that they were seized--unheard--unargued--
No witness, but one vile convicted thief--
The dog is dead and buried: Well done, henchmen!
They are not buried! Pah! their ashes flit
About the common air; we pass them--breathe them!
The self-same day! If I had had one look!
One word--one single tiny spark of word,
Such as two swallows change upon the wing!
She was no heretic: she knelt for ever
Before the blessed rood, and prayed for me.
Art sure he comes this road?
C. Saym. My messenger
Saw him start forth, and watched him past the crossways.
An hour will bring him here.
C. Wal. How! ambuscading?
I'll not sit by, while helpless priests are butchered.
C. Saym. On my word, I knew not on't
Until this hour; my quarrel's not so sharp,
But I may let him pass: my name is righted
Before the Emperor, from all his slanders;
And what's revenge to me?
Gent. Ay, ay--forgive and forget--
The vermin's trapped--and we'll be gentle-handed,
And lift him out, and bid his master speed him,
Him and his firebrands. He shall never pass me.
C. Wal. I will not see it; I'm old, and sick of blood.
She loved him, while she lived; and charged me once,
As her sworn liegeman, not to harm the knave.
I'll home: yet, knights, if aught untoward happen,
And you should need a shelter, come to me:
My walls are strong. Home, knaves! we'll seek our wives,
And beat our swords to ploughshares--when folks let us.
[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 flats
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!
[Chanting heard in the distance.]
Peasant. Hush! here the psalm-singers come!
[Conrad enters on a mule, chanting the Psalter, Gerard following.]
Con. My peace with you, my children!
1st Voice. Psalm us no psalms; bless us no devil's blessings:
Your balms will break our heads. [A murmur rises.]
2d Voice. You are welcome, sir; we are a-waiting for you.
3d Voice. Has he been shriven to-day?
4th Voice. Where is your ergo, Master Conrad? Faugh!
How both the fellows smell of smoke!
5th Voice. A strange leech he, to suck, and suck, and suck,
And look no fatter for't!
Old Woman. Give me back my sons!
Old Man. Give me back the light of mine eyes,
Mine only daughter!
My only one! He hurled her over the cliffs!
Avenge me, lads; you are young!
4th Voice. We will, we will: why smit'st him not, thou with the
3d Voice. Nay, now, the first blow costs most, and heals last;
Besides, the dog's a priest at worst.
C. Saym. Mass! How the shaveling rascal stands at bay!
There's not a rogue of them dare face his eye!
True Domini canes! 'Ware the bloodhound's teeth, curs!
Preacher. What! Are ye afraid? The huntsman's here at last
Without his whip! Down with him, craven hounds!
I'll help ye to't. [Springs from the stone.]
Gent. Ay, down with him! Mass, have these yelping boors
More heart than I? [Spurs his horse forward.]
Mob. A knight! a champion!
Voice. He's not mortal man!
See how his eyes shine! 'Tis the archangel!
St. Michael come to the rescue! Ho! St. Michael!
[He lunges at Conrad. Gerard turns the lance aside, and throws his
arms round Conrad.]
Ger. My master! my master! The chariot of Israel and the horses
Oh call down fire from Heaven!
[A peasant strikes down Gerard. Conrad, over the body.]
Alas! my son! This blood shall cry for vengeance
Before the throne of God!
Gent. And cry in vain!
Follow thy minion! Join Folquet in hell!
[Bears Conrad down on his lance-point.]
Con. I am the vicar of the Vicar of Christ:
Who touches me doth touch the Son of God.
[The mob close over him.]
O God! A martyr's crown! Elizabeth! [Dies.]
NOTES TO ACT 1
The references, unless it be otherwise specified, are to the Eight
Books concerning Saint Elizabeth, by Dietrich the Thuringian; in
Basnage's Canisius, Vol. IV. p. 113 (Antwerp; 1725).
Page 21. Cf. Lib. I. section 3. Dietrich is eloquent about her
youthful inclination for holy places, and church doors, even when
shut, and gives many real proofs of her 'sanctae indolis,' from the
P. 22. 'St. John's sworn maid.' Cf. Lib. I. section 4. 'She chose
by lot for her patron, St. John the protector of virginity.'
Ibid. 'Fit for my princess.' Cf. Lib. I. section 2. 'He sent with
his daughter vessels of gold, silver baths, jewels, _pillows all of
silk_. No such things, so precious or so many, were ever seen in
P. 23. 'Most friendless.' Cf. Lib. I. sections 5, 6. 'The
courtiers used bitterly to insult her, etc. Her mother and sister-
in-law, given to worldly pomp, differed from her exceedingly;' and
much more concerning 'the persecutions which she endured patiently
Ibid. 'In one cradle.' Cf. Lib. I. section 2. 'The princess was
laid in the cradle of her boy-spouse,' and, says another, 'the
infants embraced with smiles, from whence the bystanders drew a
joyful omen of their future happiness.'
Ibid. 'If thou love him.' Cf. Lib. I. section 6. 'The Lord by His
hidden inspiration so inclined towards her the heart of the prince,
that in the solitude of secret and mutual love he used to speak
sweetly to her heart, with kindness and consolation, and was always
wont, on returning home, to honour her with presents, and soothe her
with embraces.' It was their custom, says Dietrich, to the last to
call each other in common conversation 'Brother' and 'Sister.'
P. 24. 'To his charge.' Cf. Lib. I. section 7. 'Walter of Varila,
a good man, who, having been sent by the prince's father into
Hungary, had brought the blessed Elizabeth into Thuringen-land.'
P. 25. 'The blind archer, Love.' For information about the pagan
orientalism of the Troubadours, the blasphemous bombast by which
they provoked their persecution in Provence, and their influence on
the Courts of Europe, see Sismondi, Lit. Southern Europe, Cap. III.-
P. 27. 'Stadings.' The Stadings, according to Fleury, in A.D.
1233, were certain unruly fenmen, who refused to pay tithes,
committed great cruelties on religious of both sexes, worshipped, or
were said to worship, a black cat, etc., considered the devil as a
very ill-used personage, and the rightful lord of themselves and the
world, and were of the most profligate morals. An impartial and
philosophic investigation of this and other early continental
heresies is much wanted.
P. 37. 'All gold.' Cf. Lib. I. section 7, for Walter's
interference and Lewis's answer, which I have paraphrased.
P. 38. 'Is crowned with thorns.' Cf. Lib. I. section 5, for this
anecdote and her defence, which I have in like manner paraphrased.
P. 39. 'Their pardon.' Cf. Lib. I section 3, for this quaint
method of self-humiliation.
Ibid. 'You know your place.' Cf. Lib. I. section 6. 'The vassals
and relations of her betrothed persecuted her openly, and plotted to
send her back to her father divorced. . . . Sophia also did all she
could to place her in a convent. . . . She delighted in the company
of maids and servants, so that Sophia used to say sneeringly to her,
"You should have been counted among the slaves who drudge, and not
among the princes who rule."'
P. 41. 'Childish laughter.' Cf. Lib. I. section 7. 'The holy
maiden, receiving the mirror, showed her joy by delighted laughter;'
and again, II. section 8, "They loved each other in the charity of
the Lord, to a degree beyond all belief.'
Ibid. 'A crystal clear.' Cf. Lib. I. section 7.
P. 43. 'Our fairest bride.' Cf. Lib. I. section 8. 'No one
henceforth dared oppose the marriage by word or plot, . . . and all
mouths were stopped.'
NOTES TO ACT II
Pp. 45-49. Cf. Lib. II. sections 1, 5, 11, et passim.
Hitherto my notes have been a careful selection of the few grains of
characteristic fact which I could find among Dietrich's lengthy
professional reflections; but the chapter on which this scene is
founded is remarkable enough to be given whole, and as I have a
long-standing friendship for the good old monk, who is full of
honest naivete and deep-hearted sympathy, and have no wish to
disgust _all_ my readers with him, I shall give it for the most part
untranslated. In the meantime those who may be shocked at certain
expressions in this poem, borrowed from the Romish devotional
school, may verify my language at the Romish booksellers, who find
just now a rapidly increasing sale for such ware. And is it not
after all a hopeful sign for the age that even the most questionable
literary tastes must nowadays ally themselves with religion--that
the hotbed imaginations which used to batten on Rousseau and Byron
have now risen at least as high as the Vies des Saints and St.
Francois de Sales' Philothea? The truth is, that in such a time as
this, in the dawn of an age of faith, whose future magnificence we
may surely prognosticate from the slowness and complexity of its
self-developing process, spiritual 'Werterism,' among other strange
prolusions, must have its place. The emotions and the imaginations
will assert their just right to be fed--by foul means if not by
fair; and even self-torture will have charms after the utter dryness
and life-in-death of mere ecclesiastical pedantry. It is good,
mournful though it be, that a few, even by gorging themselves with
poison, should indicate the rise of a spiritual hunger--if we do but
take their fate as a warning to provide wholesome food before the
new craving has extended itself to the many. It is good that
religion should have its Werterism, in order that hereafter
Werterism may have its religion. But to my quotations--wherein the
reader will judge how difficult it has been for me to satisfy at
once the delicacy of the English mind and that historic truth which
the highest art demands.
'Erat inter eos honorabile connubium, et thorus immaculatus, non in
ardore libidmis, sed in conjugalis sanctimoniae castitate. For the
holy maiden, as soon as she was married, began to macerate her flesh
with many watchings, rising every night to pray; her husband
sometimes sleeping, sometimes conniving at her, often begging her,
in compassion to her delicacy, not to afflict herself indiscreetly,
often supporting her with his hand when she prayed.' ('And,' says
another of her biographers, 'being taught by her to pray with her.')
'Great truly, was the devotion of this young girl, who, rising from
the bed of her carnal husband, sought Christ, whom she loved as the
_true husband of her soul_.
'Nor certainly was there less faith in the husband who did not
oppose such and so great a wife, but rather favoured her, and
tempered her fervour with over-kind prudence. Affected, therefore,
by the sweetness of this modest love, and mutual society, they could
not bear to be separated for any length of time or distance. The
lady, therefore, frequently followed her husband through rough
roads, and no small distances, and severe wind and weather, led
rather by emotions of sincerity than of carnality: _for the chaste
presence of a modest husband offered no obstacle to that devout
spouse in the way of praying, watching, or otherwise doing good_.'
Then follows the story of her nurse waking Lewis instead of her, and
Lewis's easy good-nature about this, as about every other event of
life. 'And so, after these unwearied watchings, it often happened
that, praying for an excessive length of time, she fell asleep on a
mat beside her husband's bed, and being reproved for it by her
maidens, answered: "Though I cannot always pray, yet I can do
violence to my own flesh by tearing myself in the meantime from my
'Fugiebat oblectamenta carnalia, et ideo stratum molliorem, et viri
contubernium secretissimum, quantum licuit, declinavit. Quem
quamvis praecordialis amoris affectu deligeret, querulabatur tamen
dolens, quod virginalis decorem floris non meruit conservare.
Castigabat etiam plagis multis, et lacerabat diris verberibus carnem
puella innocens et pudica.
'In principio quidem diebus quadragesimae, sextisque feriis aliis
occultas solebat accipere disciplinas, laetam coram hominibus se
ostentrans. Post vero convalescens et proficiens in gratia, deserto
dilecti thoro surgens, fecit se in secreto cubiculo per ancillarum
manus graviter saepissime verberari, ad lectumque mariti reversa
hilarem se exhibuit et jocundam.
'Vere felices conjuges, in quorum consortio tanta munditia, in
colloquio pudicitia reperta est. In quibus amor Christi
concupiscentiam extinxit, devotio refrenavit petulantiam, fervor
spiritus excussit somnolentiam, oratio tutavit conscientiam,
charitas benefaciendi facultatem tribuit et laetitiam!'
P. 58. 'In every scruple.' Cf. Lib. III. section 9, how Lewis
'consented that Elizabeth his wife should make a vow of obedience
and continence at the will of the said Conrad, salva jure
P. 59. 'The open street.' Cf. Lib. II. section 11. 'On the
Rogation days, when certain persons doing contrary to the decrees of
the saints are decorated with precious and luxurious garments, the
Princess, dressed in serge and barefooted, used to follow most
devoutly the Procession of the Cross and the relics of the Saints,
and place herself always at sermon among the poorest women; knowing
(says Dietrich) that seeds cast into the valleys spring up into the
richest crop of corn.'
P. 60. 'The poor of Christ.' Cf. Lib. II. sections 6, 11, et
passim. Elizabeth's labours among the poor are too well known
throughout one half at least of Christendom, where she is, par
excellence, the patron of the poor, to need quotations.
P. 61. 'I'll be thy pupil.' Cf. Lib. II section 4. 'She used
also, by words and examples, to oblige the worldly ladies who came
to her to give up the vanity of the world, at least in some one
P. 62. 'Conrad enters.' Cf. Lib. III. section 9, where this story
of the disobeyed message and the punishment inflicted by Conrad for
it is told word for word.
P. 66. 'Peaceably come by.' Cf. Lib. II. section 6.
P. 67. 'Bond-slaves.' Cf. Note 11.
P. 69. 'Elizabeth passes.' Cf. Lib. II. section 5. 'This most
Christian mother, impletis purgationis suae diebus, used to dress
herself in serge, and, taking in her arms her new-born child, used
to go forth secretly, barefooted, by the difficult descent from the
castle, by a rough and rocky road to a remote church, carrying her
infant in her own arms, after the example of the Virgin Mother, and
offering him upon the altar to the Lord with a taper' (and with
gold, says another biographer).
P. 71. 'Give us bread.' Cf. Lib. III. section 6. 'A.D. 1225,
while the Landgrave was gone to Italy to the Emperor, a severe
famine arose throughout all Almaine; and lasting for nearly two
years, destroyed many with hunger. Then Elizabeth, moved with
compassion for the miserable, collected all the corn from her
granaries, and distributed it as alms for the poor. She also built
a hospital at the foot of the Wartburg, wherein she placed all those
who could not wait for the general distribution. . . . She sold her
own ornaments to feed the members of Christ. . . . Cuidam misero
lac desideranti, ad mulgendum se praebuit!'--See p. 153.
P 80. 'Ladies' tenderness.' Cf. Lib. III. section 8. 'When the
courtiers and stewards complained on his return of the Lady
Elizabeth's too great extravagance in almsgiving, "Let her alone,"
quoth he, "to do good, and to give whatever she will for God's sake,
only keep Wartburg and Neuenberg in my hands."'
P. 87. 'A crusader's cross.' Cf. Lib. IV. section 1. 'In the year
1227 there was a general "Passagium" to the Holy Land, in which
Frederick the Emperor also crossed the seas' (or rather did _not_
cross the seas, says Heinrich Stero, in his annals, but having got
as far as Sicily, came back again--miserably disappointing and
breaking up the expedition, whereof the greater part died at the
various ports--and was excommunicated for so doing); 'and Lewis,
landgrave of the Thuringians, took the cross likewise in the name of
Jesus Christ, and . . . did not immediately fix the badge which he
had received to his garment, as the matter is, lest his wife, who
loved him with the most tender affection, seeing this, should be
anxious and disturbed, . . . but she found it while turning over his
purse, and fainted, struck down with a wonderful consternation.'
P. 90. 'I must be gone.' Cf. Lib. IV. section 2. A chapter in
which Dietrich rises into a truly noble and pathetic strain.
'Coming to Schmalcald,' he says, 'Lewis found his dearest friends,
whom he had ordered to meet him there, not wishing to depart without
taking leave of them.'
Then follows Dietrich's only poetic attempt, which Basnage calls a
'carmen ineptum, foolish ballad,' and most unfairly, as all readers
should say, if I had any hope of doing justice in a translation to
this genial fragment of an old dramatic ballad, and its simple
objectivity, as of a writer so impressed (like all true Teutonic
poets in those earnest days) with the pathos and greatness of his
subject that he never tries to 'improve' it by reflections and
preaching at his readers, but thinks it enough just to tell his
story, sure that it will speak for itself to all hearts:--
Quibus valefaciens cum moerore
Commisit suis fratribus natos cum uxore:
Matremque deosculatos filiali more,
Vix eam alloquitur cordis prae dolore,
Illis mota viscera, corda tremuerunt,
Dum alter in alterius colla irruerunt,
Expetentes oscula, quae vix receperunt
Propter multitudines, quae eos compresserunt.
Mater tenens filiuin, uxorque maritum,
In diversa pertrahunt, et tenent invitum,
Fratres cum militibus velut compeditum
Stringunt, nec discedere sinunt expeditum.
Erat in exercitu maximus tumultus,
Cum carorum cernerent alternari vultus.
Flebant omnes pariter, senex et adultus,
Turbae cum militibus, cultus et incultus.
Eja! Quis non plangeret, cum videret flentes
Tot honestos nobiles, tam diversas gentes,
Cum Thuringis Saxones illuc venientes,
Ut viderent socios suos abscedentes.
Amico luctamine cuncti certavere,
Quis eum diutius posset retinere;
uidam collo brachiis, quidam inhaesere
Vestibus, nec poterat cuiguam respondere,
Tandem se de manibus eximens suorum
Magnatorum socius et peregrinorum,
Admixtus tandem, caetui cruce signatorum
Non visurus amplius terram. Thuringorum!
Surely there is a heart of flesh in the old monk which, when warmed
by a really healthy subject, can toss aside Scripture parodies and
professional Stoic sentiment, and describe with such life and
pathos, like any eye-witness, a scene which occurred, in fact, two
years before his birth.
'And thus this Prince of Peace, 'he continues, 'mounting his horse
with many knights, etc. . . . about the end of the month of June,
set forth in the name of the Lord, praising him in heart and voice,
and weeping and singing were heard side by side. And close by
followed, with saddest heart, that most faithful lady after her
sweetest prince, her most loving spouse, never, alas! to behold him
more. And when she was going to return, the force of love and the
agony of separation forced her on with him one day's journey: and
yet that did not suffice. She went on, still unable to bear the
parting, another full day's journey. . . . At last they part, at the
exhortations of Rudolph the Cupbearer. What groans, think you, what
sobs, what struggles, and yearnings of the heart must there have
been? Yet they part, and go on their way. . . . The lord went
forth exulting, as a giant to run his course; the lady returned
lamenting, as a widow, and tears were on her cheeks. Then putting
off the garments of joy, she took the dress of widowhood. The
mistress of nations, sitting alone, she turned herself utterly to
God--to her former good works, adding better ones.'
Their children were 'Hermann, who became Landgraf; a daughter who
married the Duke of Brabant; another, who, remaining in virginity,
became a nun of Aldenburg, of which place she is Lady Abbess until
NOTES TO ACT III.
P. 94. 'On the freezing stone.' Cf. Lib. II. section 5. 'In the
absence of her husband she used to lay aside her gay garments,
conducted herself devoutly as a widow, and waited for the return of
her beloved, passing her nights in watchings, genuflexions, prayers,
and disciplines.' And again, Lib. IV. section 3, just quoted.
P. 96. 'The will of God.' Cf. Lib. IV. section 6. 'The mother-in-
law said to her daughter-in-law, "Be brave, my beloved daughter; nor
be disturbed at that which hath happened by divine ordinance to thy
husband, my son." Whereto she answered boldly, "If my brother is
captive, he can be freed by the help of God and our friends." "He
is dead," quoth the other. Then she, clasping her hands upon her
knees, "The world is dead to me, and all that is pleasant in the
world." Having said this, suddenly springing up with tears, she
rushed swiftly through the whole length of the palace, and being
entirely beside herself, would have run on to the world's end, usque
quaque, if a wall had not stopped her; and others coming up, led her
away from the wall to which she had clung.
Ibid. 'Yon lion's rage.' Cf. Lib. III. section 2. 'There was a
certain lion in the court of the Prince; and it came to pass on a
time that rising from his bed in the morning, and crossing the court
dressed only in his gown and slippers, he met this lion loose and
raging against him. He thereon threatened the beast with his raised
fist, and rated it manfully, till laying aside its fierceness, it
lay down at the knight's feet, and fawned on him, wagging its tail.'
Pp. 99-100, 103-108. Cf. Lib. IV. section 7.
'Now shortly after the news of Lewis's death, certain vassals of her
late husband (with Henry, her brother-in-law) cast her out of the
castle and of all her possessions. . . . She took refuge that night
in a certain tavern, . . . and went at midnight to the matins of the
"Minor Brothers." . . . And when no one dare give her lodging, took
refuge in the church. . . . And when her little ones were brought
to her from the castle, amid most bitter frost, she knew not where
to lay their heads. . . . She entered a priest's house, and fed her
family miserably enough, by pawning what she had. There was in that
town an enemy of hers, having a roomy house. . . . Whither she
entered at his bidding, and was forced to dwell with her whole
family in a very narrow space, . . . her host and hostess heaped her
with annoyances and spite. She therefore bade them farewell,
saying, "I would willingly thank mankind if they would give me any
reason for so doing." So she returned to her former filthy cell.'
P. 100. 'White whales' bone' (i.e. the tooth of the narwhal); a
common simile in the older poets.
P. 104. 'The nuns of Kitzingen.' Cf. Lib. V. section 1. 'After
this, the noble Lady the Abbess of Kitzingen, Elizabeth's aunt
according to the flesh, brought her away honourably to Eckembert,
Lord Bishop of Bamberg.'
P. 106. 'Aged crone.' Cf. Lib. IV. section 8, where this whole
story is related word for word.
P. 109. 'I'd mar this face.' Cf. Lib. V. section 1. 'If I could
not,' said she, 'escape by any other means, I would with my own
hands cut off my nose, that so every man might loathe me when so
P. 110. 'Botenstain.' Cf. ibid. 'The bishop commanded that she
should be taken to Botenstain with her maids, until he should give
her away in marriage.'
P. 111. 'Bear children.' Ibid. 'The venerable man, knowing that
the Apostle says, "I will that the younger widows marry and bear
children," thought of giving her in marriage to some one--an
intention which she perceived, and protested on the strength of her
P. 113. 'The tented field.' All records of the worthy Bishop on
which I have fallen, describe him as 'virum militia strenuissimum,'
a mighty man of war. We read of him, in Stero of Altaich's
Chronicle, A.D. 1232, making war on the Duke of Carinthia destroying
many of his castles and laying waste a great part of his land; and
next year, being seized by some bailiff of the Duke's, and keeping
that Lent in durance vile. In a A.D. 1237 he was left by the
Emperor as 'vir magnaminus et bellicosus,' in charge of Austria,
during the troubles with Duke Frederick; and died in 1240.
P 115. 'Lewis's bones.' Cf. Lib. V. section 3.
P 118. 'I thank thee.' Cf. Lib. V. section 4. 'What agony and
love there was then in her heart, He alone can tell who knows the
hearts of all the sons of men. I believe that her grief was
renewed, and all her bones trembled, when she saw the bones of her
beloved separated one from another (the corpse had been dug up at
Otranto, and _boiled_.) But though absorbed in so great a woe, at
last she remembered God, and recovering her spirit said--(Her words
I have paraphrased as closely as possible.)
Ibid. 'The close hard by.' Cf. Lib. V section 4.
NOTES TO ACT IV
P 120. 'Your self imposed vows.' Cf. Lib. IV. section I. 'On Good
Friday, when the altars were exhibited bare in remembrance of the
Saviour who hung bare on the cross for us, she went into a certain
chapel, and in the presence of Master Conrad, and certain Franciscan
brothers, laying her holy hands on the bare altar, renounced her own
will, her parents, children, relations, "et omnibus hujus modi
pompis," all pomps of this kind (a misprint, one hopes, for mundi)
in imitation of Christ, and "omnmo se exuit et nudavit," stripped
herself utterly naked, to follow Him naked, in the steps of
P 123. 'All worldly goods.' A paraphrase of her own words.
P 124. 'Thine own needs.' But when she was going to renounce her
possessions also, the prudent Conrad stopped her. The reflections
which follow are Dietrich's own.
P 125. 'The likeness of the fiend' etc. I have put this daring
expression into Conrad's mouth, as the ideal outcome of the teaching
of Conrad's age on this point--and of much teaching also which
miscalls itself Protestant, in our own age. The doctrine is not, of
course, to be found totidem verbis in the formularies of any sect--
yet almost all sects preach it, and quote Scripture for it as boldly
as Conrad--the Romish Saint alone carries it honestly out into
P 126. 'With pine boughs.' Cf. Lib. VI. section 2. 'Entering a
certain desolate court she betook herself, "sub gradu cujusdam
caminatae," to the projection of a certain furnace, where she roofed
herself in with boughs. In the meantime in the town of Marpurg, was
built for her a humble cottage of clay and timber.'
Ibid. 'Count Pama.' Cf. Lib. VI. section 6.
P 127. 'Isentrudis and Guta.' Cf. Lib. VII. section 4. 'Now
Conrad as a prudent man, perceiving that this disciple of Christ
wished to arrive at the highest pitch of perfection, studied to
remove all which he thought would retard her, and therefore drove
from her all those of her former household in whom she used to
solace or delight herself. Thus the holy priest deprived this
servant of God of all society, that so the constancy of her
obedience might become known, and occasion might be given to her for
clinging to God alone.'
P 128. 'A leprous boy.' Cf. Lib. VI. section 8.
She had several of these proteges, successively, whose diseases are
too disgusting to be specified, on whom she lavished the most menial
cares. All the other stories of her benevolence which occur in
these two pages are related by Dietrich.
Ibid. 'Mighty to save.' Cf. Lib. VII. section 7. When we read
amongst other matters, how the objects of her prayers used to become
while she was speaking so intensely _hot_, that they not only
smoked, and nearly melted, but burnt the fingers of those who
touched them: from whence Dietrich bids us 'learn with what an
ardour of charity she used to burn, who would dry up with her heat
the flow of worldly desire, and inflame to the love of eternity.'
P 130. 'Lands and titles'. Cf. Lib. V. section 7,8.
P 131. 'Spinning wool.' Cf. Lib. VI. section 6. 'And crossing
himself for wonder, the Count Pama cried out and said, "Was it ever
seen to this day that a king's daughter should spin wool?" All his
messages from her father (says Dietrich) were of no avail.
P 135. 'To do her penance.' Cf. Lib. VII. section 4. 'Now he had
placed with her certain austere women, from whom she endured much
oppression patiently for Christ's sake who, watching her rigidly,
frequently reported her to her master for having transgressed her
obedience in giving some thing to the poor, or begging others to
give. And when thus accused she often received many blows from her
master, insomuch that he used to strike her in the face, which she
earnestly desired to endure patiently in memory of the stripes of
P 136. 'That she dared not.' Cf. Lib. VII. section 4. 'When her
most intimate friends, Isentrudis and Guta (whom another account
describes as in great poverty), 'came to see her, she dared not give
them anything even for food, nor, without special licence, salute
P 137. 'To bear within us.' 'Seeing in the church of certain monks
who "professed poverty" images sumptuously gilt, she said to about
twenty four of them, "You had better to have spent this money on
your own food and clothes, for we ought to have the reality of these
images written in our hearts." And if any one mentioned a beautiful
image before her she used to say, 'I have no need of such an image.
I carry the thing itself in my bosom."'
Ibid. 'Even on her bed.' Cf. Lib. VI sections 5, 6.
P 139. 'My mother rose.' Cf. Lib. VI section 8. 'Her mother, who
had been long ago' (when Elizabeth was nine years old) 'miserably
slain by the Hungarians, appeared to her in her dreams upon her
knees, and said, "My beloved child! pray for the agonies which I
suffer; for thou canst." Elizabeth waking, prayed earnestly, and
falling asleep again, her mother appeared to her and told her that
she was freed, and that Elizabeth's prayers would hereafter benefit
all who invoked her.' Of the causes of her mother's murder the less
that is said the better, but the prudent letter which the Bishop of
Gran sent back when asked to join in the conspiracy against her is
worthy notice. 'Reginam occidere nolite timere bonum est. Si omnes
consentiunt ego non contradico.' To be read as a full consent, or
as a flat refusal, according to the success of the plot.
P. 140. 'Any living soul.' Dietrich has much on this point,
headed, 'How Master Conrad exercised Saint Elizabeth in the breaking
of her own will. . . . And at last forbad her entirely to give
alms; whereon she employed herself in washing lepers and other
infirm folk. In the meantime she was languishing, and inwardly
tortured with emotions of compassion.'
I may here say that in representing Elizabeth's early death as
accelerated by a 'broken heart' I have, I believe, told the truth,
though I find no hint of anything of the kind in Dietrich. The
religious public of a petty town in the thirteenth century round the
deathbed of a royal saint would of course treasure up most carefully
all incidents connected with her latter days; but they would hardly
record sentiments or expressions which might seem to their notions
to derogate in anyway from her saintship. Dietrich, too, looking at
the subject as a monk and not as a man, would consider it just as
much his duty to make her death-scene rapturous as to make both her
life and her tomb miraculous. I have composed these last scenes in
the belief that Elizabeth and all her compeers will be recognised as
real saints, in proportion as they are felt to have been real men
P. 142. 'Eructate sweet doctrine.' The expressions are Dietrich's
Ibid. 'In her coffin yet.' Cf. Lib. VIII. section I.
Ibid. 'So she said.' Cf. Ibid.
Ibid. 'The poor of Christ.' 'She begged her master to distribute
all to the poor, except a worthless tunic in which she wished to be
buried. She made no will: she would have no heir beside Christ'
(i.e. the poor).
P. 143. 'Martha, and their brother,' etc.
I have compressed the events of several days into one in this scene.
I give Dietrich's own account, omitting his reflections. 'When she
had been ill twelve days and more one of her maids sitting by her
bed heard in her throat a very sweet sound, . . . and saying, "Oh,
my mistress, how sweetly thou didst sing!" she answered, "I tell
thee, I heard a little bird between me and the wall sing merrily;
who with his sweet song so stirred me up that I could not but sing
Again, section 3. 'The last day she remained till evening most
devout, having been made partaker of the celestial table, and
inebriated with that most pure blood of life, which is Christ. The
word of truth was continually on her lips, and opening her mouth of
wisdom, she spake of the best things, which she had heard in
sermons; eructating from her heart good words, and the law of
clemency was heard on her tongue. She told from the abundance of
her heart how the Lord Jesus condescended to console Mary and Martha
at the raising again of their brother Lazarus, and then, speaking of
His weeping with them over the dead, she eructated the memory of the
abundance of the Lord's sweetness, affectu et effectu (in feeling
and expression?). Certain religious person who were present,
hearing these words, fired with devotion by the grace which filled
her lips, melted into tears. To whom the saint of God, now dying,
recalled the sweet words of her Lord as He went to death, saying,
"Daughters of Jerusalem," etc. Having said this she was silent. A
wonderful thing. Then most sweet voices were heard in her throat,
without any motion of her lips; and she asked of those round, "Did
ye not hear some singing with me?" "Whereon none of the faithful
are allowed to doubt," says Dietrich, "when she herself heard the
harmony of the heavenly hosts," etc. etc. . . . From that time till
twilight she lay, as if exultant and jubilant, showing signs of
remarkable devotion, till the crowing of the cock. Then, as if
secure in the Lord, she said to the bystanders, "What should we do
if the fiend showed himself to us?" And shortly afterwards, with a
loud and clear voice, "Fly! fly!" as if repelling the daemon.'
'At the cock-crow she said, "Here is the hour in which the Virgin
brought forth her child Jesus and laid him in a manger. . . . Let
us talk of Him, and of that new star which he created by his
omnipotence, which never before was seen." "For these" (says
Montanus in her name) "are the venerable mysteries of our faith, our
richest blessings, our fairest ornaments: in these all the reason
of our hope flourishes, faith grows, charity burns."'
The novelty of the style and matter will, I hope, excuse its
prolixity with most readers. If not, I have still my reasons for
inserting the greater part of this chapter.
P. 145. ' I demand it.' How far I am justified in putting such
fears into her mouth the reader may judge. Cf. Lib. VIII. section
5. 'The devotion of the people demanding it, her body was left
unburied till the fourth day in the midst of a multitude.' . . .
'The flesh,' says Dietrich, 'had the tenderness of a living body,
and was easily moved hither and thither at the will of those who
handled it . . . . And many, sublime in the valour of their faith,
tore off the hair of her head and the nails of her fingers ("even
the tips of her ears, et mamillarum papillas," says untranslatably
Montanus of Spire), and kept them as relics.' The reference
relating to the pictures of her disciplines and the effect which
they produced on the crowd I have unfortunately lost.
P. 146. 'And yet no pain.' Cf. Lib. VIII section 4. 'She said,
"Though I am weak I feel no disease or pain," and so through that
whole day and night, as hath been said, having been elevated with
most holy affections of mind towards God, and inflamed in spirit
with most divine utterances and conversations, at length she rested
from jubilating, and inclining her head as if falling into a sweet
P. 147. 'Canonisation.' Cf. Lib. VIII. section 10. If I have in
the last scene been guilty of a small anachronism, I have in this
been guilty of a great one. Conrad was of course a prime means of
Elizabeth's canonisation, and, as Dietrich and his own 'Letter to
Pope Gregory the Ninth' show, collected, and pressed on the notice
of the Archbishop of Maintz, the miraculous statements necessary for
that honour. But he died two years before the actual publication of
her canonisation. It appeared to me that by following the exact
facts I must either lose sight of the final triumph, which connects
my heroine for ever with Germany and all Romish Christendom, and is
the very culmination of the whole story, or relinquish my only
opportunity of doing Conrad justice, by exhibiting the remaining
side of his character.
I am afraid that I have erred, and that the most strict historic
truth would have coincided, as usual, with the highest artistic
effect, while it would only have corroborated the moral of my poem,
supposing that there is one. But I was fettered by the poverty of
my own imagination, and 'do manus lectoribus.'
Ibid. 'Third Minors.' The order of the Third Minors of St. Francis
of Assisi was in invention of the comprehensive mind of that truly
great man, by which 'worldlings' were enabled to participate in the
spiritual advantages of the Franciscan rule and discipline without
neglect or suspension of their civic and family duties. But it was
an institution too enlightened for its age; and family and civic
ties were destined for a far nobler consecration. The order was
persecuted and all but exterminated by the jealousy of the Regular
Monks, not, it seems, without papal connivance. Within a few years
after its foundation it numbered amongst its members the noblest
knights and ladies of Christendom, St. Louis of France among the
P. 149. 'Lest he fall.' Cf. Fleury, Eccl. Annals, in Anno 1233.
'Doctor Conrad of Marpurg, the King Henry, son of the Emperor
Frederick, etc., called an Assembly at Mayence to examine persons
accused as heretics. Among whom the Count of Saym demanded a delay
to justify himself. As for the others who did not appear, Conrad
gave the cross to those who would take up arms against them. At
which these supposed heretics were so irritated, that on his return
they lay in wait for him near Marpurg, and killed him, with brother
Gerard, of the order of Minors, a holy man. Conrad was accused of
precipitation in his judgments, and of having burned trop legerement
under pretext of heresy, many noble and not noble, monks, nuns,
burghers, and peasants. For he had them executed the same day that
they were accused, without allowing any appeal.'
P. 150. 'The Kaiser.' Cf. Lib. VIII. section 12, for a list of the
P. 151. 'A Zingar wizard.' Cf. Lib. I. section 1. The Magician's
name was Klingsohr. He has been introduced by Novalis into his
novel of Heinrich Von Ofterdingen, as present at the famous contest
of the Minnesingers on the Wartburg. Here is Dietrich's account:--
'There was in those days in the Landgrave's court six knights,
nobles, etc. etc., "cantilenarum confectores summi," song-wrights of
the highest excellence' (either one of them or Klingsohr himself was
the author of the Nibelungen-lied and the Heldenbuch).
'Now there dwelt then in the parts of Hungary, in the land which is
called the "Seven Castles," a certain rich nobleman, worth 3000
marks a year, a philosopher, practised from his youth in secular
literature, but nevertheless learned in the sciences of Necromancy
and Astronomy. This master Klingsohr was sent for by the Prince to
judge between the songs of these knights aforesaid. Who, before he
was introduced to the Landgrave, sitting one night in Eisenach, in
the court of his lodging, looked very earnestly upon the stars, and
being asked if he had perceived any secrets, "Know that this night
is born a daughter to the King of Hungary, who shall be called
Elizabeth, and shall be a saint, and shall be given to wife to the
son of this prince, in the fame of whose sanctity all the earth
shall exult and be exalted."
'See!--He who by Balaam the wizard foretold the mystery of his own
incarnation, himself foretold by this wizard the name and birth of
his fore-chosen handmaid Elizabeth.' (A comparison, of which
Basnage says, that he cannot deny it to be intolerable.) I am not
bound to explain all strange stories, but considering who and whence
Klingsohr was, and the fact that the treaty of espousals took place
two months afterwards, 'adhuc sugens ubera desponsata est,' it is
not impossible that King Andrew and his sage vassal may have had
some previous conversation on the destination of the unborn
P. 151. 'A robe.' Cf. Lib. II. section 9, for this story, on which
Dietrich observes, 'Thus did her Heavenly Father clothe his lily
Elizabeth, as Solomon in all his glory could not do.'
P. 152. 'The Incarnate Son.' This story is told, I think, by
Surias, and has been introduced with an illustration by a German
artist of the highest note, into a modern prose biography of this
saint. (I have omitted much more of the same kind.)
Ibid. 'Sainthood's palm.' Cf. Lib. VIII. sections 7, 8, 9. 'While
to declare the merits of his handmaid Elizabeth, in the place where
her body rested, Almighty God was thus multiplying the badges of her
virtues (i.e. miracles), two altars were built in her praise in that
chapel, which while Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, was
consecrating, as he had evidently been commanded in a vision, at the
prayers of that devout man master Conrad, preacher of the word of
God; the said preacher commanded all who had received any grace of
healing from the merits of Elizabeth, to appear next day before the
Archbishop and faithfully prove their assertions by witnesses. . . .
Then the Most Holy Father, Pope Gregory the Ninth, having made
diligent examination of the miracles transmitted to him, trusting at
the same time to mature and prudent counsels, and the Holy Spirit's
providence, above all, so ordaining, his clemency disposing, and his
grace admonishing, decreed that the Blessed Elizabeth was to be
written among the catalogue of the saints on earth, since in heaven
she rejoices as written in the Book of Life.' . . .
Then follow four chapters, headed severally--
Section 9. 'Of the solemn canonisation of the Blessed Elizabeth.'
Secion 10. 'Of the translation of the Blessed Elizabeth (and how
the corpse when exposed diffused round a miraculous fragrance).'
Section 11. 'Of the desire of the people to see, embrace, and kiss
(says Dietrich) those sacred bones, the organs of the Holy Spirit,
from which flowed so many graces of sanctities.'
Section 12. 'Of the sublime persons who were present, and their
Section 13. 'A consideration of the divine mercy about this
'Behold! she who despised the glory of the world, and refused the
company of magnates, is magnificently honoured by the dignity of the
Pontifical office, and the reverent care of Imperial Majesty. And
she who, seeking the lowest place in this life, sat on the ground,
slept in the dust, is now raised on high, by the hands of Kings and
Princes. . . . It transcends all heights of temporal glory, to have
been made like the saints in glory. For all the rich among the
people "vultum ejus desprecantur" (pray for the light of her
countenance), and kings and princes offer gifts, magnates adore her,
and all nations serve her. Nor without reason, for "she sold all
and gave to the poor," and counting all her substance for nothing,
bought for herself this priceless pearl of eternity.' One would be
sorry to believe that such utterly mean considerations of selfish
vanity, expressing as they do an extreme respect for the very pomps
and vanities which they praise the saints for despising, really went
to the making of any saint, Romish or other.
Section 14. 'Of the sacred oil which flowed from the bones of
Elizabeth.' I subjoin the 'Epilogus.'
'Moreover even as the elect handmaid of God, the most blessed
Elizabeth, had shone during her life with wonderful signs of her
virtues, so since the day of her blessed departure up to the present
time, she is resplendent through the various quarters of the world
with illustrious prodigies of miracles, the Divine power glorifying
her. For to the blind, dumb, deaf, and lame, dropsical, possessed,
and leprous, shipwrecked, and captives, "ipsius mertis," as a reward
for her holy deeds, remedies are conferred. Also, to all diseases,
necessities, and dangers, assistance is given. And, moreover, by
the many corpses, "puta sedecim" say sixteen, wonderfully raised to
life by herself, becomes known to the faithful the magnificence of
the virtues of the Most High glorifying His saint. To that Most
High be glory and honour for ever. Amen.'
So ends Dietrich's story. The reader has by this time, I hope, read
enough to justify, in every sense, Conrad's 'A corpse or two was
raised, they say, last week,' and much more of the funeral oration
which I have put into his mouth.
P. 153. 'Gallant gentleman.' Cf. Lib. VIII. section 6.
P. 154. 'Took his crown.' Cf. Lib. VIII. section 12.
Ibid. The 'olive' and the 'pearl' are Dietrich's own figures. The
others follow the method of scriptural interpretation, usual in the
writers of that age.
P. 162. 'Domini canes,' 'The Lord's hounds,' a punning sobriquet of
the Dominican inquisitors, in allusion to their profession.
P 163. 'Folquet,' Bishop of Toulouse, who had been in early life a
Troubadour, distinguished himself by his ferocity and perfidy in the
crusade against the Albigenses and Troubadours, especially at the
surrender of Toulouse, in company with his chief abettor, the
infamous Simon de Montford. He died A.D. 1231.--See Sismondi, Lit.
of Southern Europe, Cap. VI.
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