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The Saint's Tragedy - Notes To Act 4 Post by :LarryY Category :Plays Author :Charles Kingsley Date :May 2012 Read :2851

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The Saint's Tragedy - Notes To Act 4


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 poverty.'

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 practice.

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 the Lord.'

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 them.'

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 and women.

P. 142. 'Eructate sweet doctrine.' The expressions are Dietrich's own.

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 myself."'

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 sleep, expired.'

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 number.

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 worthies present.

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 princess.

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 oblations.'

Section 13. 'A consideration of the divine mercy about this matter.'

'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.

Charles Kingsley's play: Saint's Tragedy

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NOTES TO ACT IIIP. 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