Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
The Council Scene in “Metamora”
By John Augustus Stone (1801–1834)
 
[Born in Concord, Mass., 1801. Drowned, while suffering mental derangement, in the Schuylkill River, near Philadelphia, Penn., 1834. From Metamora. A Tragedy. First performed at the Park Theatre, New York, 1829, for the benefit of Edwin Forrest, whose impersonation of the Indian Chief was most heroic in the following Scene.—Copied from the Prompter’s Text, by permission of Mr. James Walter Collier, the present owner of this unpublished Play.]

SCENE.—Council chamber, interior of English fort, formed of hewn logs with loop-holes for musketry. A long oaken table with books.

ERRINGTON, SIR ARTHUR VAUGHAN, CHURCH, elders, officers, guards, villagers, ladies, etc., discovered. Enter MORDAUNT and FITZ ARNOLD.

ERRINGTON.  ’Tis news that asks from us most speedy action!
Heaven has in sounds most audible and strange,—
In sights, too, that amaze the lookers on,—
Forewarned our people of approaching ills.
’Tis time to lift the arm so long supine        5
And with one blow cut off this heathen race
Who, spite of reason and the Word revealed,
Continue hardened in their devious way,
And make the chosen tremble. Colleagues,
Your voices. Speak—are you for peace or war?        10
  SIR ARTHUR.  What proof is there your Indian neighbors round
Mean not as fairly towards our settlement
As did King Philip’s father, Massasoit?
  ERR.  [Shows paper.]  Sir,
We have here full proof that Philip is our foe.—        15
Sassamon, that faithful servant of our cause,
Has been despatched
By Philip’s men, set on to murder him.
One of his tribe confessed the horrid truth
And will, when time shall call, give proof on ’t        20
I say this chieftain is a man of blood,
And heaven will bless the valiant arm that slays him.
[At this moment METAMORA enters boldly, looking the last speaker full in the face. Some are confounded and all are silent. METAMORA looks around and pauses.]
  MET.  You sent for me, and I am come.  [No one replies.]  If ye have nothing to say,
I will go back.  [Pause.]  Do ye fear to question? Metamora does not fear to answer.        25
  ERR.  Philip,  [METAMORA starts]  ’tis thought that still you love us not,
And, most unmindful of our league of peace,
In secret plot against our common weal.
  MET.  Do your fears counsel ye? What is it that makes your old men sorrowful and your young warriors grasp their fire-weapons, as if they waited the onset of the foe? Of what does the white man complain? Brothers, what has Metamora done, that doubt is on all your faces and your spirits are troubled? The just man’s heart should be a stranger to fear, and his lips ready to utter the words of truth.
  ERR.  By those who lie not, Chieftain, we are told        30
Thou didst give shelter to a banished man
Whose deeds unchristian met our just reproof,
And gave us cause to doubt thy faithfulness.
  MET.  Why was that man sent away from the home of his joy? Because the Great Spirit did not speak to him as he has done to you? Did ye not come across the Great Water and leave the smoke of your father’s dwelling because the iron arm was held out against ye? Why do you that have just plucked the red knife from your own wounded sides, strive thus to stab your brother?
  ERR.  Indian,        35
Didst thou not know the sentence of the court
On him whom thou didst shelter?
  MET.  If my race’s enemy had crept unarmed into my wigwam, and his heart was sore, I would not have driven him from my fire, or forbid him to lie down on my mat. Your great Book, you say, teaches ye to give good gifts to the stranger, and deal kindly with him whose heart is sad. The Wampanoag needs no such counsellor, for the Great Spirit has with his own finger written it on his heart.
  MORD.  Why hast put weapons in thy people’s hands,
And given the means to urge great mischief on?        40
  MET.  If my people do wrong, I am quick to punish. Do ye not set a snare in their path, that they may fall down, making them mad with the firewater which the Evil Spirit gave ye in the hour of his triumph? The red man sickens in the house of the Palefaces, as the leaping stream of the mountain is made impure by the foul brooks that mingle with it.
  SIR A.  Chieftain, since these things are so,
Sell us thy lands and seek another home.
  MET.  Sell you my lands! What more? Have ye not enough? No, white man, never will Metamora forsake the home of his fathers and let the plough of the stranger disturb the bones of his kindred.
  CHURCH.  These are bold words, Chieftain.        45
  MET.  They are true ones.
  ERR.  They give no token of thy love of peace.
We would deal fairly with thee—nay, be generous.
  MET.  Then would ye pay back that which fifty snows ago ye received from the hands of my father, Massasoit. Your backs were turned towards the land of your fathers, and the son of the forest took ye as a little child and opened the door of his wigwam. The keen blast of the north howled in the leafless wood, but the Indian covered ye with his broad right hand and put it back. Your little ones smiled when they heard the loud voice of the storm, for our hearths were warm and the Indian was the white man’s friend.
  ERR.  Such words are needless now.        50
  MET.  I will speak no more.—I am going.
  ERR.  Hold yet a moment, Philip. We’ve to speak
Of faithful Sassamon, who met his death,
On our own ground, by hand of treachery.
  MET.  So should the treacherous man fall, by the keen knife, in the darkness, and not ascend from the strife of battle up to the bright home where the dead warrior dwells in glory.        55
  ERR.  Didst thou contrive his murder?
  MET.  I will not answer thee.
  ERR.  We have those can prove thou didst.
  MET.  I have spoken.
  ERR.  Bring in the witness.  [Exit CHURCH.]  We too long have stayed        60
The arm of Peace from execution—come,
We parley with a serpent, and his wiles——
  MET.  Injurious man, do not tread too hard upon that serpent’s folds. His fangs are not yet torn out, nor has their venom lost its power to kill.
  ERR.  Approach.
Enter two musketeers with the Indian, ANAHWANDA.
  MET.  Anahwanda!
        65
  ERR.  So, treacherous man; thy deeds of blood are known.
  MET.  Let me see his eyes.  [Goes to him.]  Art thou he I snatched from the tomahawk of the Mohegan, when thou hadst sung thy death song? Did Metamora cherish thee in his wigwam, and hast thou put a knife in the white man’s hand to slay him? The foul spirit has entered thee, and the pure blood of the Wampanoag has left thy veins. Thy heart is a lie. Thine eye cannot rest on the face of truth, when, like the great light, it shines upon thee in unclouded glory.  [ANAHWANDA shrinks from his gaze, tries to speak, but cannot.]  Elders, can he speak to ye the words of truth who has been false to his nation, his brothers, and his God?
  ERR.  He was thy trusted agent, Philip,
And conscience-smote revealed thy wickedness.
  MET.  Do ye believe his words?        70
  ERR.  We do, and will reward his honesty.
  MET.  Wampanoag—I will not call thee so—Red-man, say to these people that they have bought thy tongue, and thou hast sold them a lie.  [Pause.]
  ERR.  He does not answer.
  MET.  [Gathering himself up with great majesty.]  I am Metamora, thy father and thy King.
  ERR.  Philip o’erawes him. Send the witness back.        75
  MET.  I will do that. Slave of the white man, go follow Sassamon!
[He plunges his knife in the body of ANAHWANDA, who falls dead. All start up in alarm.]
  ERR.  Secure him.
  MET.  Come! My knife has drunk the blood of the false one, but it is not satisfied. White man, beware! The mighty spirits of the Wampanoag race are hovering o’er your heads. They stretch out their shadowy arms and shriek for vengeance. They shall have it! The warwhoop shall fright ye from your dreams at night. The red hatchet shall gleam in the horrid glare of your burning dwellings. From the east to the west, in the north and in the south, shall the loud cry of vengeance burst till the lands ye have stolen groan under your feet no more. The eternal spirit of the red man wakes from its long sleep. It shakes off the fetters that have weighed it down and rushes forth on wings of fire!
  ERR.  Seize him!
  MET.  Thus, white man, do I smite your nation and defy your power!
[Dashes his hatchet into the earth and rushes out. Soldiers fire. The whoop of METAMORA and his followers announces the Chief’s safety.]
        80
 
 
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