The Group

by Mercy Otis Warren


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Boston: Printed and sold by Edes and Gill, in Queen Street, 1775

As the great business of the polite world is eager pursuit of amusement, and as the public diversions of the season have been interrupted by the hostile parade in the capital; the exhibition of a new farce may not be unentertaining.



As lately acted and to be re-acted to the wonder of all superior intelligences, nigh head-quarters at Amboyne.

The author has thought proper to borrow the following spirited lines from a late celebrated poet, and offer to the public by way of PROLOGUE, which cannot fail of pleasing at this crisis.

"What! armed for virtue, and not point the pen,
Brand the bold front of shameless guilty men,
Dash the proud Gamester from his gilded car,
Bare the mean heart which lurks beneath a flax,
...
Shall I not strip the gilding off a knave,
Unplaced unpensioned, no man's heir or slave?
I will or perish in the generous cause;
Hear this and tremble, ye who escape the laws;
Yes, while I live, no rich or noble knave,
Shall walk the world in credit to his grave,
To virtue only, and her friends, a friend,
The world beside may murmur, or commend." 


Dramatis Personae

Lord Chief Justice Halzerod
Judge Meagae
Brigadier Hateall
Hum Humbug, Esquire
Sir Sparrow Spendall
Hector Mushroom, -- Colonel
Beau Trumps
Dick, the Publican
Simple Sapling, Esquire
Monsieur de Francois
Crusty Crowbar, Esquire
Dupe, -- Secretary of State
Scriblerius Fribble
Commodore Batteau
Collateralis, -- a new made Judge

Attended by a swarm of court sycophants, hungry harpies, and unprincipled danglers, collected in the neighboring villages, hovering over the land in the shape of locusts, led by Massachusettensis in the form of a basilisk; the rear brought up by proteus, bearing a torch in one hand, and a powder-flask in the other: The whole supported by a mighty army and navy, from blunderland, for the laudable purpose of enslaving its best friends. 



 

Act I, Scene 1

Scene, a little dark parlor, guards standing at the door.
Halzerod, Crusty Crowbar, Simple-Sapling, Hateall, and Hector Mushroom

Simple: I know not what to think of these sad times.
The people armed -- and all resolved to die.
E're they'll submit. --

Crusty Crowbar: I too am almost sick of the parade
Of honors purchased at the price of peace.

Simple: Fond as I am of greatness and her charms
Elate with prospects of my rising name,
Pushed into place, -- a place I never expected,
My bounding heart leapt in my feeble breast
And ecstasies entranced my slender brain. --
But yet, e're this I hoped more solid gains,
As my low purse demands a quick supply. --
Poor Sylvia weeps, -- and urges my return
To rural peace and humble happiness,
As my ambition beggars all her babes.

Crusty: When first I listed in the desperate case,
And blindly swore obedience to his will,
So wise, so just, so good I thought Rapatio,
That is salvation rested on his word
I'd pin my faith and risk my hopes thereon.
Halzerod: And why not now? -- What staffers thy belief?

Crusty: Himself --his perfidy appears --
It is too plain he has betrayed his country.
And we're the wretched tools by him marked out
To seal its ruins -- tear up the ancient forms,
And every vestige treacherously destroy,
Nor leave a trait of freedom in the land.
Nor did I think hard fate would call me up
From  drudging over my acres, --
Treading the glade, and sweating at the plough,
To dangle at the tables of the great;
At bowls and cards, to spend my frozen years;
To sell my friends, my country, and my conscience;
Profane the sacred sabbaths of my God;
Scorned by the very men who want my aid
To spread distress over this devoted people.

Halzerod: Pho -- what misgivings -- why these idle qualms
This shrinking backwards at the bugbear conscience?
In early life I heard the phantom named,
And the grave sages prate of moral sense
Presiding in the bosom of the just;
Or panting thongs about the guilty heart.
Bound by these shackles, long my laboring mind
Obscurely trod the lower walks of life,
In hopes by honesty my bread to gain;
But neither commerce, or my fangled drills,
Or all the Iron-mongers curious arts,
Gave me a competence of shining ore,
Or gratified my itching palm for more;
Till I dismissed the bold intruding guest,
And banished conscience form my wounded breast.

Crusty: Happy expedient! -- Could I gain the art,
Then balmy sleep might sooth my waking lids.
And rest once more refresh my wary soul. --

Halzerod: Resolved more rapidly to gain my point,
I mounted high in justice's sacred seat,
With flowing robes, and head equipped without,
A heart unfeeling and a stubborn soul,
As qualified as ever a Jefferies was;
Save in the knotty rudiments of law,
The smallest requisite for modern times,
When wisdom, law, and justice are supplied
By swords, dragoons, and ministerial nods,
Sanctions most sacred in the pander's creed,
I sold my country for a splendid bribe.
Now let her sink -- and all the dire alarms
Of war, confusion, pestilence and blood,
And tenfold misery be her future doom --
Let civil discord lift her sword on high,
Nay sheathe its hilt even in my brother's blood;
It never shall move the purpose of my soul;
Though once I trembled at a thought so bold;
By Philalethes' arguments, convinced
We may live Demons, as we die like brutes,
I give my tears, and conscience to the winds.

Hateall: Curse on their coward fears, and dastard souls,
Their soft compunctions and relenting qualms,
Compassion never shall seize my steadfast breast
Though blood and carnage spread through all t he land;
Till streaming purple tinge the verdant turf,
Till every street shall float with human gore,
I, Nero like, the capital in flames,
Could laugh to see her glotted sons expire,
Though much too rough my soul to touch the lyre.

Simple: I fear the brave, the injured multitude,
Repeated wrongs, arouse them to resent,
And every patriot like old Brutus stands,
The shining steel half drawn -- its glittering point
Scarce hid beneath the scabbard's friendly cell
Resolved to die, or see their country free.

Hateall: Then let them die -- The dogs we will keep down --
While N---'s my friend, and G-- approves the deed,
Though hell and all its hell-hounds should unite,
I'll not recede to save from swift perdition
My wife, my country, family of friends.
G--'s mandamus I more highly prize
Than all the mandates of the ethereal king.

Hector Mushroom: Will our abettors in the distant towns
Support us long against the common cause,
When they shall see from Hampshire's northern bound
Through the wide western plains to southern shores
The whole united continent in arms? --

Hateall:  They shall -- as sure as oaths or bonds can bind;
I've boldly sent my new-born brat abroad,
The association of my morbid brain,
To which each minion must affix his name.
As all our hope depends on brutal force
On quick destruction, misery and death;
Soon may we see dark ruin stalk around,
With murder, rapine, and inflicted pains,
Estates confiscate, slavery and despair,
Wrecks, halters, axes, gibbeting and chains,
All the dread ills that wait on civil war; --
How I could glut my vengeful eyes to see
The weeping maid thrown helpless on the world,
Her fire cut off. -- Her orphan brothers stand
While the big tear rolls down the manly cheek.
Robbed of maternal care by grief's keen shaft,
The sorrowing mother mourns her starving babes.
Her murdered lord torn guiltless from her side,
And flees for shelter to the pitying grave
To screen at once from slavery and pain.

Halzerod: But more complete I view this scene of woe,
By the incursions of a savage foe,
Of which I warned them, if they dare refuse
The badge of slaves, and bold resistance use.
Now let them suffer -- I'll no pity feel.

Hateall: Nor I -- But had I power, as I have the Will
I'd send them murmuring to the shades of hell.



 

Act II

The scene changes to a large dining room. The table furnished with bowls, bottles, glasses, and cards. -- The group appear sitting round in a restless attitude. In one corner of the room is discovered a small cabinet of books, for the use of the studious and contemplative -- containing Hobbs' Leviathan, Sipthrop's Sermons, Hutchinson's History, Fable of the Bees, Pilalethes on Philanthrop, with an appendix by Massachusettensis, Hoyle on Whist, Lives of the Stewarts, Statutes of Henry the Eighth and William the Conqueror, Wedderburn's Speeches, and Acts of Parliament for 1774.
 

Scene 1


Hateall, Halzerod, Monsieur, Beau Trumps, Simple, Humbug, Sir Sparrow, etc.

Scriblerius: Thy toast Monsieur,
Pray, why that solemn phyz [physiognomy]? --
Art thou too balancing between right and wrong?
Hast thou a thought so mean as to give up
Thy present good, for promise in reversion
It is true hereafter has some feeble terrors,
But e'er our grizzly heads are wrapped in clay
We may compound, and make our peace with Heaven.

Monsieur: Could I give up the dread of retribution
The awful reckoning of some future day,
Like surly Hateall I might curse mankind
And dare the threaded vengeance of the skies.
Or like yon apostate -- [Pointing to Halzerod, retired to a corner to read Massachusettensis.] Feel but slight remorse
To sell my country for a grasp of Gold.
But the impressions of my early youth,
Infixed by precepts of my pious fire,
Are stings and scorpions in my goaded breast,
Oft have I hung upon my parent's knee
And heard him tell of his escape from France;
HE left the land of slaves, and wooden shoes;
From place to place he sought s safe retreat,
Till fair Bostonia stretched her friendly arm
And gave the refugee both bread and peace,
(Shall I ungrateful break the sacred bonds,
And help to clank the tyrant's iron chains
Over these blest shores -- once the sure asylum
From all the ills of arbitrary sway?)
With his expiring breath he bade his sons
If ever oppression reached the western world
Resist its force, and break the servile yoke.

Scriblerius: Well quit thy post; -- Go make thy flattering court
To Freedom's Sons and tell they baby fears;
Show the soft traces in they puny heart,
Made by the trembling tongue and quivering lip
Of an old grandsire's superstitious whims.

Monsieur: No, -- I never can --
So great the itch I feel for titled place
Some honorary post, some small distinction,
To save my name from dark oblivions jaws,
I'll Hazard all, but never give up my place,
For that I'll see Rome's ancient rites restored,
And flame and faggot blaze in every street.

Beau-Trumps: -- That's right Monsieur,
There's naught on earth that has such tempting charms
As rank and show, and pomp, and glittering dress,
Save the dear counters at beloved quadrill,
Viner unsoiled, and Littleton may sleep,
And Coke lie moldering on the dusty shelf,
If I by shuffling draw some lucky card
That wins the livers, or lucrative place.

Hum-Humbug: When sly Rapatio showed his friends the scroll,
I wondered much to see thy patriot name
Among the list of rebels to the state,
I thought thee one of Rusticus' sworn friends.

Beau-Trumps: When first I entered on the public stage
My country groaned beneath base Brundo's hand,
Virtue looked fair and beckoned to her lure,
Through truth's bright mirror I beheld her charms
And wished to tread the patriotic path.
And wear the Laurels that adorn his fame;
I walked a while and tasted solid peace
With Cassius, Rusticus and good Hortensius,
And many more, whose names will be revered
When you and I, and all the venal herd
Weighed in Nemesis' just impartial scale,
Are marked with infamy till time blot out
And in oblivion sink our hated names.
But it was a poor unprofitable path
Naught to be gained, save solid peace of mind.
No pensions, place or title there I found;
I saw Rapatio's arts had struck so deep
And given his country such a fatal wound
None but its foes promotion could expect;
I trimmed, and pimped, and veered, and wavering stood
But half resolved to show myself a knave,
Till the Arch Traitor prowling round for aid
Saw my suspense and bid me doubt no more; --
He gently bowed, and smiling took my hand,
And whispering softly in my listening ear,
Showed me my name among his chosen band,
And laughed at virtue dignified by fools,
Cleared all my doubts, and bid me persevere
In spite of the restraints, or hourly checks
Of wounded friendship, and a goaded mind,
Or all the sacred ties of truth and honor.

Collateralis: Come among ourselves we'll even speak out the truth.
Can you suppose there yet is such a dupe
As still believes that wretch an honest man?
The latter strokes his serpentine brain
Outvie the arts of Machiavelli himself;
His Borgian model here is realized,
And the stale tricks of politicians played
Beneath a vizard fair ---
--- Drawn from the Heavenly form
Of blest religion weeping over the land
For virtue fallen, and for freedom lost.

Beau-Trumps: I think with you ---
--- Unparalleled his effrontery,
When by chicanery and specious art,
Amid the distress in which he'd brought the city,
He found a few, (by artifice and cunning,
By much industry of his wily friend
The false Philanthrop -- sly undermining tool,
Who with the Siren's voice ---
Deals daily round the poison of his tongue,)
To speak him fair -- and overlook his guilt.
They by reiterated promise made
To stand their friend at Britain's mighty court,
And vindicate his native injured land,
Lent him their names to sanctify his deeds.
But mark the traitor -- his high crime glossed over
Conceals the tender feelings of the man,
The social ties that bind the human heart;
He strikes a bargain with his country's foes,
And joins to wrap America in flames,
Yet with feigned pity, and Satanic grin,
As if more deep to fix the keen insult,
Or make his life a farce still more complete,
HE sends a groan across the broad Atlantic,
And with a phyz [physiognomy] of Crocodilian stamp,
Can weep, and wreathe, still hoping to deceive,
He cries the gathering clouds hang thick about her,
But laughs within -- then sobs --
--- Alas! my country!

Hum-Humbug: Why so severe, or why exclaim at all
Against the man who made thee what thou art?

Beau-Trumps: I know his guilt, -- I ever knew the man,
They father knew him e're we trod the stage;
I only speak to such as know him well;
Abroad I tell the World he is a saint.
But as for interest, I betrayed my own
With the same views, I ranked among his friends;
But my ambition fights for something more.
What merits has sir Sparrow of his own.
And yet a feather graces the Fool's cap;
Which did he wear for what himself achieved,
It would stamp some honor on his latest heir --
But I'll suspend my murmuring rays awhile;
Come to the other glass -- and try our luck at loo,
And if before the dawn your gold I win,
Or e'er bright Phoebus does his course begin,
The eastern breeze from Britain's hostile shore
Should waft her lofty floating towers over,
Whose waving pendants sweep the watery main,
Dip their proud beaks and dance towards the plain,
The destined plains of slaughter and distress,
laden with troops from Hanover and Hess,
I would invigorate my sinking soul,
For then the continent we might control;
Not all the millions that she faintly boasts
Can cope with Veteran Barbarian hosts; --
But the brave sons of Albion's warlike race,
Their arms, and honors, never can disgrace,
Or draw their swords in such a hated cause
In blood to seal a N---'s oppressive laws.
They'll spurn the service; -- Briton's must recoil,
And show themselves the natives of an isle
Who fought for freedom, in the worst of times
Produced her Hampdens, Fairfaxes, and Pyms.
But if by carnage we should win the game,
Perhaps by my abilities and fame,
I might attain a splendid glittering car,
And mount aloft, and fail in liquid air,
Like Phaeton, I'd then out-strip the wind,
And leave my low competitors behind.



 

Act II, Scene 2


Collateralis -- Dick the Publican

Publican: This dull inaction will   no longer do;
Month after Month the idle troops have lain,
Nor struck one stroke that leads us to our wish.
The trifling bickerings at the city gates,
Or bold outrages of their midnight routs,
Bring us no nearer to the point in view.
Though much the daily sufferings of the people
Commerce destroyed and government unhinged,
No talk of tame submission yet I hear.

Collateralis: No -- not the least ---
--- they're more resolved than ever.
They're firm, united, gold, undaunted, brave,
And every villa boasts their marshaled ranks.
The warlike Clarion sounds through every street;
Both vigorous youth, and the grey-headed fire
Bear the Fusee, in regimental garbs,
Repairing to defend invaded right,
And if pushed hard, by manly force repel;
And though Britannia sends her legions over, \To plant her daggers in her children's breast,
It will rebound -- New whetted, the keep point,
Will find a sheath in every tyrant's heart.

Publican: ---What then is to be done?
My finances too low to stand it long
You well remember --- --- --- --- ---
When stationed there to gripe the honest trader,
Who much I plundered from your native town.
Under the sanctions of the laws of trade,
I the hard earnings of industry
Filched from their hands, and built my nest on high.
And on the spoils I rioted a while,
But soon the unrighteous pelf slipped through my hand.
Nor longer idly could I waste my time,
A numerous flock was rising round my Board,
Who urged to something that might give them bread.
My only game was hither to repair,
And court the proud oppressors of my Country,
By the parade of pompous luxury,
To win their favor, and obtain a place;
That (with my limbeck) might have kept me on,
But for the cursed, persevering spirit
of Freedom's sons -- who triumph over distress,
Nor will comply with requisitions, made
By haughty mandates from corrupted courts,
To pay the workmen for the chains, they'd forged.

Collateralis: No, though proud Britain wafts her wooden walls
Over the broad waves -- and plants them round these Coasts,
Shuts up their Ports, and robs them of their bread,
They're not dismayed -- nor servilely comply
To pay the hunters of the Nabob shores
Their high demand for India's poisonous weed,
Long since a sacrifice to Thetis made,
A rich regale -- Now all the watery dames
May snuff Souchong, and sip in flowing bowls
The higher flavored choice Hysonian stream,
And leave their Nectar to old Homer's Gods.

Publican: The Group this morning were summoned to the camp;
The council early meets at Sylla's tent,
But for what purpose yet I cannot learn.

Collateralis: Then let us haste, it is novel to be called
By Sylla's order, summoned to attend,
So close he keeps his counsels in his breast,
Nor trusts us with the maneuvers of state,
I fear he half despises us himself.
And if he does, we cannot wonder much,
We're made the jest of every idle boy:
Most of us hunted from our rural seats,
Drove from our homes, a prey to guilty fears
When --- When dare we return!
And now shut up in this devoted City,
Amid the pestilence on either hand,
Pursued by every dreadful Execration
That the bold Tongue of Innocence oppressed,
Pours forth in anguish for a ruined state.



 

Scene 3

The fragments of the broken Council appear with trembling servile Gestures, showing several applications to the General from the Under-Tools in the distant Counties, begging each a guard of myrmidons to protect them from the armed multitudes (which the guilty horrors of their wounded consciences hourly presented to their frighted imaginations) approaching to take speedy vengeance on the Court Parasites, who had fled for refuge to the Camp, by immediate destruction to their Pimps, Panders and Sycophants left behind.

[--- --- Sylla waling in great Perplexity.]

Sylla: Pray, how will it comport with my pretense
For building walls, and shutting up the Town,
Erecting fortresses and strong redoubts,
To keep my troops from any bold inroads?
A brave insulted people might attempt,
If I send out my little scattered parties,
And the long suffering, generous patriot's Care
Prevents a Skirmish.
Though they're the sport of wanton cruel power,
And Hydra headed ills start up around,
Till the last hope of redress cut off
Their human feeling, Urge them to forebear,
And wait some milder means to bring relief.

Hateall:  It is now the time to try their daring tempers.
Send out a few -- and if they are cut off,
What are a thousand souls, sent swiftly down
To Pluto's gloomy shades, -- to tell in anguish
Half their compeers shall sit pandimonic,
E're we will suffer Liberty to reign,
Or see her sons triumphant win the day.
I feign would push them to the last extreme,
To draw their swords against their legal King,
Then short's the process to complete destruction.

Secretary Dupe:  Be not so sanguine -- the day is not our own,
And much I fear it never will be won.
Their discipline is equal to our own,
Their valor has been tired, -- and in a field
They're not less brave than are a Frederick's troops,
Those members formidable pour along,
while virtue's banners shroud each warrior's head
Stern Justice binds the helmet on his brow,
And liberty sits perched on every shield.
But who has applied, and asked the General's aid,
Or wished his peaceful Villa such a curse
As posting Troops beside the peasant's cot?

Judge Meagre: None but the very dregs of all mankind.
The Stains of nature -- The blots of human race,
Yet that's no matter, still they are our friends,
IT will help our projects if we give them aid.

Simple Sappling: Though my paternal Acres are eat up,
My patrimony spent, I've yet a house
My lenient creditors let me improve,
Send up the Troops, it will serve them well for Barracks.
I somehow think it would ear a noble sound,
To have my mansion guarded by the King.

Sylla: Has thou no sons or blooming daughters there,
To call up all the feelings of a Father,
Lest their young minds contaminate by vice,
Caught from such inmates, dangerous and vile,
Devoid of virtue, rectitude, or honor
Save what accords with military fame?
Hast thou no wife who asks thy tender care,
To guard her from Belona's hardy sons?
Who when not toiling in the hostile field,
Are faithful  votaries to the Cyprian Queen.
Or is her soul of such materials made
Indelicate, and thoughtless of her fame:
So void of either sentiment or sense,
As makes her a companion fit fir thee!

Simple Sappling: Silvia's good natured, and no doubt will yield
And take the brawny veterans to her board,
When she's assured it will help her husband's fame.
If she complains or murmurs at the plan,
Let her solicit charity abroad;
Let her go out and seek some pitying friend
To give her shelter from the wintery blast,
Disperse her children round the neighboring cots,
And then --- --- ---

Publican: --- --- Then weep thy folly, and her own hard fate!
I pity Silvia, I knew the beauteous maid
E'er she descended to become thy wife;
She silent mourns the weakness of her lord,
For she's too virtuous to approve thy deeds.

Hateall: Pho --- --- what's a woman's tears,
Or all the whinings of that trifling sex?
I never felt one tender thought towards them.
When young, indeed, I wedded nut brown Kate,
(Bltyhe buxom Dowager, the jockey's prey)
But all I wished was to secure her dower.
I broke her spirits when I'd won her purse;
For which I'll give the recipe most sure
To every hen-pecked husband round the board;
If crabbed words or surly looks won't tame
The haughty shrew, nor bend the stubborn mind,
Then the green Hickory, or the willow twig,
Will prove a curse for each rebellious dame
Who dare oppose her lord's superior will.

Sylla: Enough of this, ten thousand harrowing cares
Tear up my peace, and swell my anxious breath.
I see some mighty victim must appease
An injured nation, tottering on the verge
Of wide destruction, made the wanton sport
Of hungry Harpies, gaping for their prey;
Which is by misadventures they should miss,
The disappointed vultures angry Fang,
Will seize the lesser gudgeons of the state,
And sacrifice to made Alecto's rage;
Left the tide turning, with a rapid course
The booming torrent rushes over their heads,
And sweeps the "cawing cormorants from earth".

Hateall: Then strike some sudden blow, and if hereafter
Dangers should rise -- then set up for thyself,
And make thy name as famous in Columbia,
As ever Caesar's was in ancient Gaul.
Who would such distant Provinces subdue,
And then resign them to a foreign lord!
With such an armament at thy command
Why all this cautious prudence?

Sylla: I only wish to serve my Sovereign well,
And bring new glory to my master's crown,
Which can't be done by spreading ruin round
This loyal country --- --- ---
--- --- Wrought up to madness by oppression's hand,
How much deceived my royal master is
By those he trusts! -- but more of this anon.
Were it consistent with my former plan,
I'd gladly send my sickly troops abroad
Out from the stench of this infected town,
To breath some air more free form putrefaction;
To brace their nerves against approaching spring,
If my ill stars should destine a campaign,
And call me forth to fight in such a cause.
To quench the generous spark, the innate love
Of glorious freedom, planted in the breast
Of every man who boasts a Briton's name,
Until some base-born lust of foreign growth
Contaminate his soul, till false ambition,
Or the sordid hope of swelling coffers,
Poison the mind, and brutalize the man.

Collateralis: I almost wish I never had engaged
To rob my country of her native rights,
Nor strove to mount on justice solemn bench,
By mean submission cringing for a place.
How great the pain, and yet how small the purchase!
Had I been dumb, or my right hand cut off,
E'er I so servilely had held it up,
Or given my voice abjectly to rescind
The wisest step that mortal man could take
To curb the talons of tyrannic power,
Out stretched rapacious ready to devour
The fair possessions, by our Maker given
Confirmed by compacts -- ratified by Heaven.

Sylla: Look over the annals of our virtuous fires,
And search the story of Britannia's deeds,
From Caesar's ravages to Hambden's fall;
From the good Hambden down to glorious Wolfe,
Whose soul took wing on Abraham's fatal plain,
Where the young Hero fought Britannia's foes,
And vanquished Bourbons dark ferocious hosts,
Till the slaves trembled at a George's name.
It was love of freedom drew a Marlborough's sword;
This glorious passion moved a Sydney's pen;
And crowned with Bayes, a Harrington and Locke;
IT is freedom wreathes the Garlands over their tombs.
For her how oft have bleeding Heroes fallen!
With the warm fluid, gushing from their wounds,
With the warm fluid, gushing from their wounds,
Conveyed the purchase to their distant heirs!
And shall I rashly draw my guilty sword,
And dip its hungry hilt in the rich blood
Of the best subjects that a Brunswick boasts,
And for no cause, but that they nobly scorn
To wear the fetters of his venal slaves!
But swift time rolls, and on his rapid wheel
Bears the winged hours, and the circling years.
The cloud capped morning, the dark short wintry day,
And the keen blasts of roughened Borea's breath,
Will soon vanish, and approaching spring
Open with the fate of empires on her wing.

[Exit Sylla]

[Halzerod rises in great agitation]

Halzerod: This balancing of passions never will do,
And by the scale which virtue holds to reason,
Weighing the business e'er he executes,
Doubting, deliberating, half resolved
To be the savior of a virtuous state,
Instead of guarding the refugees and knaves,
The buzzing reptiles that crawl round his court,
And lick his hand for some delicious crumb,
Or painted plume to grace the guilty brow,
Stained with ten thousand falsities, trumped up
To injure every good and virtuous name
Who won't strike hands and be his country's foe:
I'll hasten after, and stir up his should,
To dire revenge and bloody resolutions,
Or the whole fabric falls, on which we hand,
And down the pit of infamy we plunge,
Without the spoils we long have hoped to reap.

[He crosses the stage hastily and goes out after Sylla.]

[Meagre and Secretary Dupe at the further part of the stage.]

Meagre: As Sylla passed I marked his anxious brow;
I fear his soul is with compassion moved
For suffering virtue, wounded and betrayed;
For freedom hunted down in this fair field,
The only soil, in these degenerate days,
In which the heavenly goddess can exist.

Secretary: Humanity recoils -- his heart reluctant
To execute the black the accursed design,
Such I must call it, though thy guilty friends,
Thy subtle brother, laid the artful plan,
"And like the toad squat at the ear of Eve"
Infusing poisons by his snaky tongue,
Pushed Brundo on to tread the thorny path,
And plunge his country in ten thousand woes;
Then slyly jostling him behind the scenes,
Stepped in his place for which he long had sighed.

Meagre: Yes all allow he played a master game,
And dealt his cards with such peculiar skill,
That every dangler about the court,
As you and I and all might well suppose,
Thought the chains fixed with Brundo only clanked,
But yet unless some speedy method's found
To break the union, and dissolve the bonds
That bind this mighty continent so firm,
Their Congresses, their Covenants, and leagues,
With their Committees, working in each town
With unremitting vigilance and care,
To baffle every evil machination
Of all state rooks, who peck about the land,
If not broke up, will ruin all at last.
Amid the many scribblers of the age,
Can none be found to set their schemes afloat,
To sow dissension -- and distrust abroad,
Sap that cement that bears down all before it,
And makes America a match for all
The hostile powers that proud Europa boasts?

Secretary: Not all the swarms of prostituted pens,
Nor hireling smatterers scribbling for gain,
From the first pensioned on the northern list
To bigot Priests -- who write from southern shores,
With all their phantoms, bugbears, threats or smiles,
Will ever persuade them to renounce their claim
To freedom, purchased with their fathers' blood.
How various are the arts already tried,
What pains unwearied to write men to sleep,
Or rock them in the cradle of despair,
To doze supinely, until they should believe
They'd neither eyes, nor tongues, nor strength to move
But at the nod of some despotic lord!
What shifts, evasions, what delusive tales,
What poor prevarication for rash oaths,
What nightly watchings, and what daily cares
To dress up falsehood in some fair disguise,
Or wrap the bantling of their midnight dreams
In the soft vest of friendship, to betray,
Then send it forth in every fairy form,
To stalk at noon tide, giddy with fond hope
That some new gambols might deceive again
Men broad awake, who see through all the cheat.

Meagre: There still is hope -- why need we yet despair?
The doughty champion of our sinking cause,
The deep "arcana" of whose winding brain
Is fraught with dark expedients to betray,
By the long labors of his veteran quill,
By scattering scraps from every musty code
Of canon, civil, or draconian laws,
Quoting old statutes or defining new,
Treasons, misprisions, riots, routs, cabals,
And insurrections of these stubborn times,
He'll sure prevail and terrify at last,
By bringing precedents from those blest days
When royal Stewarts, Britain's scepter swayed,
And taught her sons the right divine of Kings.
When pains and forfeitures a hundred fold
Were dealt to traitors, puny when compared
To the bold rebels of this continent,
From Merrimack to Mississippi's Banks
Who dare resist a ministerial frown.
In spite of all the truths New England tells,
And his cool reasoning argumentative style,
Or master strokes of his unrivalled pen,
They will divide, and wavering will submit
And take the word of Massachusettensis
That men were born already bitted, curbed,
And on their backs the saddles prominent,
For every upstart sycophant to mount.

Secretary: Not Massachusettensis' oily tongue,
Or retailed nonsense of a Philarene
Not Senex rant, nor yet dull Grotius' pen,
Or the whole Group of selfish venal men,
If gathered form cold Zembla's frozen shore,
To the warm zone where rapid rivers roar,
Can either coax them, or the least control
The valorous purpose of their Roman souls.

Meagre: Let not thy soft timidity of heart
Urge thee to terms, until the last stake is thrown.
It is not my temper ever to forgive,
When once resentment's kindled to my breast.
I hated Brutus for his noble stand
Against the oppressors of his injured country.
I hate the leaders of these restless factions,
For all their generous efforts to be free.
I curse the senate which defeats our bribes,
Who Halzerod impeached for the same crime.
I hate the people, who, no longer gulled,
See through the schemes of our aspiring clan,
And from the rancor of my venomed mind,
I look askance on all the human race,
And if they're not to be appalled by fear,
I wish the earth might drink that vital stream
That warms the heart, and feeds the manly glow,
The love inherent, planted in the breast,
To equal liberty, conferred on man,
By him who formed the peasant and the King!
Could we erase these notions from their minds,
Then (paramount to these ideal whims,
Utopian dreams, of patriotic virtue,
Which long has danced in their distempered brains).
We'd smoothly glide on midst a race of slaves,
Nor heave one sigh though all the human race
Were plunged in darkness, slavery and vice.
If we could keep our foothold in the stirrup,
And, like the noble Claudia of old,
Ride over the people, if they don't give way;
Or with their fates were all involved in one;
For I've a Brother, as the Roman dame
Who would strike off the rebel neck at once.

Secretary: No all is over unless the sword decides,
Which cuts down Kings, and kingdoms often divides.
By that appeal I think we can't prevail,
Their valor's great, and justice holds the scale.
They fight for freedom, while we stab the breast
Of every man, who is her friend professed.
They fight in virtue's ever sacred cause,
While we tread on divine and human laws.
Glory and victory, and lasting fame,
Will crown their arms and bless each Hero's name!

Meagre: Away with all thy foolish, trifling cares;
And to the winds give all thy empty fears!
Let us repair and urge brave Sylla on,
I long to see the sweet revenge begun.
As fortune is a fickle, sportive dame,
She may for us the victory proclaim
And with success our busy ploddings crown,
Though injured justice stern and solemn frown.
Then they shall smart for every bold offense,
Estates confiscated will pay the expense;
On their lost fortunes we a while will plume
And strive to think there  is no after doom

[Exit all.]

[As they pass of the stage, the curtain draws up, and discovers to the audience a Lady nearly connected with one of the principal actors in the group, reclined in an adjoining alcove, who in mournful accents accosts them thus:]

What painful scenes are hovering over the morn,
When spring again invigorates the lawn!
Instead of the gay landscape's beauteous dyes,
Must the stained field salute our weeping eyes,
Must the green turf, and all the mournful glades,
Drenched in the stream, absorb their dewy heads,
While the tall oak, and quivering willow bends
To make a covert for their country's friends,
Denied a grave! -- amid the hurrying scene
Of routed armies scouring over the plain.
Till British troops shall to Columbia yield,
And freedom's sons are Masters of the field;
Then over the purpled plain the victors tread
Among the slain to seek each patriot dead.
(While Freedom weeps that merit could not save
But conquering Hero's must enrich the Grave.)
An adamantine monument they rear
With this inscription -- Virtue's sons lie here!

FINIS


Mercy Warren home page
Mercy, a play about Mercy Warren and General Johnny Burgoyne, by Richard Seltzer

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