SCENE I.--IN NORTHUMBRIA.
ARCHBISHOP ALDRED, MORCAR, EDWIN, and FORCES. Enter HAROLD. The standard of the golden Dragon of Wessex preceding him.
HAROLD. What! are thy people sullen from defeat? Our Wessex dragon flies beyond the Humber, No voice to greet it.
EDWIN. Let not our great king Believe us sullen--only shamed to the quick Before the king--as having been so bruised By Harold, king of Norway; but our help Is Harold, king of England. Pardon us, thou! Our silence is our reverence for the king!
HAROLD. Earl of the Mercians! if the truth be gall, Cram me not thou with honey, when our good hive Needs every sting to save it.
VOICES. Aldwyth! Aldwyth!
HAROLD. Why cry thy people on thy sister's name?
MORCAR. She hath won upon our people thro' her beauty, And pleasantness among them.
VOICES. Aldwyth, Aldwyth!
HAROLD. They shout as they would have her for a queen.
MORCAR. She hath followed with our host, and suffer'd all.
HAROLD. What would ye, men?
VOICE. Our old Northumbrian crown, And kings of our own choosing.
HAROLD. Your old crown Were little help without our Saxon carles Against Hardrada.
VOICE. Little! we are Danes, Who conquer'd what we walk on, our own field.
HAROLD. They have been plotting here! [Aside.
VOICE. He calls us little!
HAROLD. The kingdoms of this world began with little, A hill, a fort, a city--that reach'd a hand Down to the field beneath it, 'Be thou mine, Then to the next, 'Thou also!' If the field Cried out 'I am mine own;' another hill Or fort, or city, took it, and the first Fell, and the next became an Empire.
VOICE. Yet Thou art but a West Saxon: we are Danes!
HAROLD. My mother is a Dane, and I am English; There is a pleasant fable in old books, Ye take a stick, and break it; bind a score All in one faggot, snap it over knee, Ye cannot.
VOICE. Hear King Harold! he says true!
HAROLD. Would ye be Norsemen?
HAROLD. Or Norman?
HAROLD. Snap not the faggot-band then.
VOICE. That is true!
VOICE. Ay, but thou art not kingly, only grandson To Wulfnoth, a poor cow-herd.
HAROLD. This old Wulfnoth Would take me on his knees and tell me tales Of Alfred and of Athelstan the Great Who drove you Danes; and yet he held that Dane, Jute, Angle, Saxon, were or should be all One England, for this cow-herd, like my father, Who shook the Norman scoundrels off the throne, Had in him kingly thoughts--a king of men, Not made but born, like the great king of all, A light among the oxen.
VOICE. That is true!
VOICE. Ay, and I love him now, for mine own father Was great, and cobbled.
VOICE. Thou art Tostig's brother, Who wastes the land.
HAROLD. This brother comes to save Your land from waste; I saved it once before, For when your people banish'd Tostig hence, And Edward would have sent a host against you, Then I, who loved my brother, bad the king Who doted on him, sanction your decree Of Tostig's banishment, and choice of Morcar, To help the realm from scattering.
VOICE. King! thy brother, If one may dare to speak the truth, was wrong'd. Wild was he, born so: but the plots against him Had madden'd tamer men.
MORCAR. Thou art one of those Who brake into Lord Tostig's treasure-house And slew two hundred of his following, And now, when Tostig hath come back with power, Are frighted back to Tostig.
OLD THANE. Ugh! Plots and feuds! This is my ninetieth birthday. Can ye not Be brethren? Godwin still at feud with Alfgar, And Alfgar hates King Harold. Plots and feuds! This is my ninetieth birthday!
HAROLD. Old man, Harold Hates nothing; not his fault, if our two houses Be less than brothers.
VOICES. Aldwyth, Harold, Aldwyth!
HAROLD. Again! Morcar! Edwin! What do they mean?
EDWIN. So the good king would deign to lend an ear Not overscornful, we might chance--perchance-- To guess their meaning.
MORCAR. Thine own meaning, Harold, To make all England one, to close all feuds, Mixing our bloods, that thence a king may rise Half-Godwin and half-Alfgar, one to rule All England beyond question, beyond quarrel.
HAROLD. Who sow'd this fancy here among the people?
MORCAR. Who knows what sows itself among the people? A goodly flower at times.
HAROLD. The Queen of Wales? Why, Morcar, it is all but duty in her To hate me; I have heard she hates me.
MORCAR. No! For I can swear to that, but cannot swear That these will follow thee against the Norsemen, If thou deny them this.
HAROLD. Morcar and Edwin, When will you cease to plot against my house?
EDWIN. The king can scarcely dream that we, who know His prowess in the mountains of the West, Should care to plot against him in the North.
MORCAR. Who dares arraign us, king, of such a plot?
HAROLD. Ye heard one witness even now.
MORCAR. The craven! There is a faction risen again for Tostig, Since Tostig came with Norway--fright not love.
HAROLD. Morcar and Edwin, will ye, if I yield, Follow against the Norseman?
MORCAR. Surely, surely!
HAROLD. Morcar and Edwin, will ye upon oath, Help us against the Norman?
MORCAR. With good will; Yea, take the Sacrament upon it, king.
HAROLD. Where is thy sister?
MORCAR. Somewhere hard at hand. Call and she comes.
[One goes out, then enter ALDWYTH.
HAROLD. I doubt not but thou knowest Why thou art summon'd.
ALDWYTH. Why?--I stay with these, Lest thy fierce Tostig spy me out alone, And flay me all alive.
HAROLD. Canst thou love one Who did discrown thine husband, unqueen thee? Didst thou not love thine husband?
ALDWYTH. Oh! my lord, The nimble, wild, red, wiry, savage king-- That was, my lord, a match of policy.
HAROLD. Was it? I knew him brave: he loved his land: he fain Had made her great: his finger on her harp (I heard him more than once) had in it Wales, Her floods, her woods, her hills: had I been his, I had been all Welsh.
ALDWYTH. Oh, ay--all Welsh--and yet I saw thee drive him up his hills--and women Cling to the conquer'd, if they love, the more; If not, they cannot hate the conqueror. We never--oh! good Morcar, speak for us, His conqueror conquer'd Aldwyth.
HAROLD. Goodly news!
MORCAR. Doubt it not thou! Since Griffith's head was sent To Edward, she hath said it.
HAROLD. I had rather She would have loved her husband. Aldwyth, Aldwyth, Canst thou love me, thou knowing where I love?
ALDWYTH. I can, my lord, for mine own sake, for thine, For England, for thy poor white dove, who flutters Between thee and the porch, but then would find Her nest within the cloister, and be still.
HAROLD. Canst thou love one, who cannot love again?
ALDWYTH. Full hope have I that love will answer love.
HAROLD. Then in the name of the great God, so be it! Come, Aldred, join our hands before the hosts, That all may see.
[ALDRED joins the hands of HAROLD and ALDWYTH and blesses them.
VOICES. Harold, Harold and Aldwyth!
HAROLD. Set forth our golden Dragon, let him flap The wings that beat down Wales! Advance our Standard of the Warrior, Dark among gems and gold; and thou, brave banner, Blaze like a night of fatal stars on those Who read their doom and die. Where lie the Norsemen? on the Derwent? ay At Stamford-bridge. Morcar, collect thy men; Edwin, my friend-- Thou lingerest.--Gurth,-- Last night King Edward came to me in dreams-- The rosy face and long down-silvering beard-- He told me I should conquer:-- I am no woman to put faith in dreams. (To his army.) Last night King Edward came to me in dreams, And told me we should conquer.
VOICES. Forward! Forward! Harold and Holy Cross!
ALDWYTH. The day is won!
SCENE II.--A PLAIN. BEFORE THE BATTLE OF STAMFORD-BRIDGE.
HAROLD and his GUARD.
HAROLD. Who is it comes this way? Tostig? (Enter TOSTIG with a small force.) O brother, What art thou doing here?
TOSTIG. I am foraging For Norway's army.
HAROLD. I could take and slay thee. Thou art in arms against us.
TOSTIG. Take and slay me, For Edward loved me.
HAROLD. Edward bad me spare thee.
TOSTIG. I hate King Edward, for he join'd with thee To drive me outlaw'd. Take and slay me, I say, Or I shall count thee fool.
HAROLD. Take thee, or free thee, Free thee or slay thee, Norway will have war; No man would strike with Tostig, save for Norway. Thou art nothing in thine England, save for Norway, Who loves not thee but war. What dost thou here, Trampling thy mother's bosom into blood?
TOSTIG. She hath wean'd me from it with such bitterness. I come for mine own Earldom, my Northumbria; Thou hast given it to the enemy of our house.
HAROLD. Northumbria threw thee off, she will not have thee, Thou hast misused her: and, O crowning crime! Hast murder'd thine own guest, the son of Orm, Gamel, at thine own hearth.
TOSTIG. The slow, fat fool! He drawl'd and prated so, I smote him suddenly, I knew not what I did. He held with Morcar.-- I hate myself for all things that I do.
HAROLD. And Morcar holds with us. Come back with him. Know what thou dost; and we may find for thee, So thou be chasten'd by thy banishment, Some easier earldom.
TOSTIG. What for Norway then? He looks for land among us, he and his.
HAROLD. Seven feet of English land, or something more, Seeing he is a giant.
TOSTIG. That is noble! That sounds of Godwin.
HAROLD. Come thou back, and be Once more a son of Godwin.
TOSTIG (turns away). O brother, brother, O Harold--
HAROLD (laying his hand on TOSTIG'S shoulder). Nay then, come thou back to us!
TOSTIG (after a pause turning to him). Never shall any man say that I, that Tostig Conjured the mightier Harold from his North To do the battle for me here in England, Then left him for the meaner! thee!-- Thou hast no passion for the House of Godwin-- Thou hast but cared to make thyself a king-- Thou hast sold me for a cry.-- Thou gavest thy voice against me in the Council-- I hate thee, and despise thee, and defy thee. Farewell for ever! [Exit.
HAROLD. On to Stamford-bridge!
AFTER THE BATTLE OF STAMFORD-BRIDGE. BANQUET.
HAROLD and ALDWYTH. GURTH, LEOFWIN, MORCAR, EDWIN, and other EARLS and THANES.
VOICES. Hail! Harold! Aldwyth! hail, bridegroom and bride!
ALDWYTH (talking with HAROLD). Answer them thou! Is this our marriage-banquet? Would the wines Of wedding had been dash'd into the cups Of victory, and our marriage and thy glory Been drunk together! these poor hands but sew, Spin, broider--would that they were man's to have held The battle-axe by thee!
HAROLD. There was a moment When being forced aloof from all my guard, And striking at Hardrada and his madmen I had wish'd for any weapon.
ALDWYTH. Why art thou sad?
HAROLD. I have lost the boy who play'd at ball with me, With whom I fought another fight than this Of Stamford-bridge.
ALDWYTH. Ay! ay! thy victories Over our own poor Wales, when at thy side He conquer'd with thee.
HAROLD. No--the childish fist That cannot strike again.
ALDWYTH. Thou art too kindly. Why didst thou let so many Norsemen hence? Thy fierce forekings had clench'd their pirate hides To the bleak church doors, like kites upon a barn.
HAROLD. Is there so great a need to tell thee why?
ALDWYTH. Yea, am I not thy wife?
VOICES. Hail, Harold, Aldwyth! Bridegroom and bride!
ALDWYTH. Answer them! [To HAROLD.
HAROLD (to all). Earls and Thanes! Full thanks for your fair greeting of my bride! Earls, Thanes, and all our countrymen! the day, Our day beside the Derwent will not shine Less than a star among the goldenest hours Of Alfred, or of Edward his great son, Or Athelstan, or English Ironside Who fought with Knut, or Knut who coming Dane Died English. Every man about his king Fought like a king; the king like his own man, No better; one for all, and all for one, One soul! and therefore have we shatter'd back The hugest wave from Norseland ever yet Surged on us, and our battle-axes broken The Raven's wing, and dumb'd his carrion croak From the gray sea for ever. Many are gone-- Drink to the dead who died for us, the living Who fought and would have died, but happier lived, If happier be to live; they both have life In the large mouth of England, till her voice Die with the world. Hail--hail!
MORCAR. May all invaders perish like Hardrada! All traitors fail like Tostig. [All drink but HAROLD.
ALDWYTH. Thy cup's full!
HAROLD. I saw the hand of Tostig cover it. Our dear, dead, traitor-brother, Tostig, him Reverently we buried. Friends, had I been here, Without too large self-lauding I must hold The sequel had been other than his league With Norway, and this battle. Peace be with him! He was not of the worst. If there be those At banquet in this hall, and hearing me-- For there be those I fear who prick'd the lion To make him spring, that sight of Danish blood Might serve an end not English--peace with them Likewise, if they can be at peace with what God gave us to divide us from the wolf!
ALDWYTH (aside to HAROLD). Make not our Morcar sullen: it is not wise.
HAROLD. Hail to the living who fought, the dead who fell!
VOICES. Hail, hail!
FIRST THANE. How ran that answer which King Harold gave To his dead namesake, when he ask'd for England?
LEOFWIN. 'Seven feet of English earth, or something more, Seeing he is a giant!'
FIRST THANE. Then for the bastard Six feet and nothing more!
LEOFWIN. Ay, but belike Thou hast not learnt his measure.
FIRST THANE. By St. Edmund I over-measure him. Sound sleep to the man Here by dead Norway without dream or dawn!
SECOND THANE. What is he bragging still that he will come To thrust our Harold's throne from under him? My nurse would tell me of a molehill crying To a mountain 'Stand aside and room for me!'
FIRST THANE. Let him come! let him come. Here's to him, sink or swim! [Drinks.
SECOND THANE. God sink him!
FIRST THANE. Cannot hands which had the strength To shove that stranded iceberg off our shores, And send the shatter'd North again to sea, Scuttle his cockle-shell? What's Brunanburg To Stamford-bridge? a war-crash, and so hard, So loud, that, by St. Dunstan, old St. Thor-- By God, we thought him dead--but our old Thor Heard his own thunder again, and woke and came Among us again, and mark'd the sons of those Who made this Britain England, break the North:
Mark'd how the war-axe swang, Heard how the war-horn sang, Mark'd how the spear-head sprang, Heard how the shield-wall rang, Iron on iron clang, Anvil on hammer bang--
SECOND THANE. Hammer on anvil, hammer on anvil. Old dog, Thou art drunk, old dog!
FIRST THANE. Too drunk to fight with thee!
SECOND THANE. Fight thou with thine own double, not with me, Keep that for Norman William!
FIRST THANE. Down with William!
THIRD THANE. The washerwoman's brat!
FOURTH THANE. The tanner's bastard!
FIFTH THANE. The Falaise byblow!
[Enter a THANE, from Pevensey, spattered with mud.
HAROLD. Ay, but what late guest, As haggard as a fast of forty days, And caked and plaster'd with a hundred mires, Hath stumbled on our cups?
THANE from Pevensey. My lord the King! William the Norman, for the wind had changed--
HAROLD. I felt it in the middle of that fierce fight At Stamford-bridge. William hath landed, ha?
THANE from Pevensey. Landed at Pevensey--I am from Pevensey-- Hath wasted all the land at Pevensey-- Hath harried mine own cattle--God confound him! I have ridden night and day from Pevensey-- A thousand ships--a hundred thousand men-- Thousands of horses, like as many lions Neighing and roaring as they leapt to land--
HAROLD. How oft in coming hast thou broken bread?
THANE from Pevensey. Some thrice, or so.
HAROLD. Bring not thy hollowness On our full feast. Famine is fear, were it but Of being starved. Sit down, sit down, and eat, And, when again red-blooded, speak again; (Aside.) The men that guarded England to the South Were scatter'd to the harvest.... No power mine To hold their force together.... Many are fallen At Stamford-bridge ... the people stupid-sure Sleep like their swine ... in South and North at once I could not be. (Aloud.) Gurth, Leofwin, Morcar, Edwin! (Pointing to the revellers.) The curse of England! these are drown'd in wassail, And cannot see the world but thro' their wines! Leave them! and thee too, Aldwyth, must I leave-- Harsh is the news! hard is our honeymoon! Thy pardon. (Turning round to his ATTENDANTS.) Break the banquet up ... Ye four! And thou, my carrier-pigeon of black news, Cram thy crop full, but come when thou art call'd.