An Old Play on John Brown
by Kate Edwards
February 1937 (vol. 6, no. 1, pages 34 to 59
Transcribed by lhn and Susan Stafford;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.
THE execution of John Brown, following the shock of the Harper's Ferry raid and the suspense of the trial, was in its effect on public emotion like throwing gasoline on a kindled fire. Orators, preachers and journalists in both the North and South helped fan the flames and the dramatists of the day made haste to capitalize the mounting excitement on the stage. Within a month three plays on the theme of slavery were produced in New York, and one of these, Ossawattomie Brown, here reprinted, had its premiere only fourteen days after the hanging. The New York correspondent of a Kansas newspaper of the time, commenting on these productions and the current agitation, wrote:
Nothing could show more forcibly the depth of the present agitation on the slavery question, even in this sin-ridden city, than the fact that at the present time no less than three of the largest theatres announce dramas which bear directly on the "irrepressible conflict," and which, in the words of the posters, "will be repeated to-night and every evening." At the "Winter Garden" (Agnes Robertson's Theatre) we have "The Octoroon, or Life in Louisiana," by Bourcicault, the greatest of living comedians; at Laura Keene's Theatre, we have "Distant Relations, or a Southerner in New York"; and at the Old Bowery we have a piece of the high tragedy order, under the caption of "Osawatomie Brown." The subject is thus brought before hundreds of thousands who otherwise would never give it a thought. And besides these, lectures, discourses, speeches and poems are delivered every night everywhere, by everybody, pro and con, on "John Brown," on "Osawatomie Brown," on "Old Brown," on "Captain Brown," and on the "Hero of Harper's Ferry."
Truly this old farmer has made such a stir as not all the "statesmen" and "little giants," and professional agitators have been able to produce, and which they are much less able to quiet: J. S. 
The author of Ossawattomie Brown was a young actress of New York, known in the theatre by her maiden name, Kate Edwards, daughter of John Edwards, an English physician, who came to America in 1846 when she was thirteen. Before she was twenty she had appeared in minor parts at the old Bowery theatre and had begun writing for the stage. In this work she made the acquaintance of J. Clarke Swayze, a printer employed on the Saturday Evening Courier, a weekly devoted to the stage and its people, whom
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 35
she married in June, 1856. The young couple wrote several plays in collaboration and later organized the Kate Edwards theatrical company, touring Eastern and Southern states under Mr. Swayze's management. Two years later, following the birth of a daughter, they disbanded the troupe and returned to New York, where Mr. Swayze purchased the Courier plant. In 1859 he entered the publishing business at Griffin, Ga., but did not return for his family until after the birth of a son on January 19, 1860, one month after the production of the mother's play, Ossawattomie Brown. At Griffin another daughter was born in September, 1861, and here, in the early months of the war, after her husband had been imprisoned as a traitor and had escaped to the Union army, Mrs. Swayze died, August 13, 1862, at the age of twenty-eight. 
Ossawattomie Brown was written when its author was only twenty-five. Little can be learned about the stage production or its reception by the public. There was no advertisement of the play for the evening of December 16, its first night, in any of the five leading New York papers. An advertisement of the Bowery Theatre in the New York Herald of December 17 mentioned "the new Ossawotomie Brown drama of The Insurrection," and on Sunday, December 18, advertising the performance of the 19th, the same paper carried the notice, "to conclude with the new three act drama of The Insurrection; Or, Kansas and Harper's Ferry." A news item in the same paper on the 19th said:
At the Bowery Theatre the attraction for this evening is "An original drama, written by a lady of Brooklyn," and called "Insurrection, or Kansas and Harper's Ferry." Rather a delicate subject. Two other pieces are given-a drama and a ballet.
The New York Daily Tribune of the same date said:
Old Bowery.-Ledger stories are dished up here with surprising rapidity; the "Red Ranger" is the last, to be played for the first time to-night, with a ballet and the John Brown piece.
Professor Odell, writing of the Bowery Theatre season of 1859-1860 in his annals of the New York stage, said:
Nothing could long satisfy the Bowery appetite. And here on the 17th, was another questionable thing-The Insurrection, or Kansas and Harper's
36 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Ferry, by a lady of Brooklyn, with Boniface as John Brown . . . . Evans and Holland as Brown's sons . . . . Mrs. Cantor as Mrs. Brown. 
The copy of Ossawattomie Brown used as the text for this reprint was recently presented to the Kansas Historical Society by Oscar K. Swayze of Topeka, the son who was born only a month after the play's first production. Manuscript copies of four other plays by his mother also were donated, but this is the only one the Library of Congress lists as having been copyrighted by her. 
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 37
THE STANDARD DRAMA.
The Acting Edition.
THE INSURRECTION AT HARPERS' FERRY.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
A Description of the Costume -- Cast of the Characters -- Entrances and Exits --
Relative Positions of the Performers on the Stage, and
the whole of the Stage Business
BY MRS. J. C. SWAYZE.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1859, by J. C. SAYZE, in the
Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
SAMUEL, FRENCH, PUBLISHERS.
122 Nassau St., (Up Stairs.)
FACSIMILE OF TITLE PAGE.
38 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
CAST of CHARACTERS
As first performed at the Bowery Theater, December 16, 1859
|John Brown||Mr. G. C. Boniface.|
|Mr. Cook||Mr. Foster.|
|Black Jim, a Border Ruffian||Mr. W. M. Reeve.|
|Little Billy||Mr. Hotto.|
|Old Dearborn||Mr. J. M. Ward.|
|Ralph Dearborn, His Son||Mr. Davenport.|
Soldiers, Citizens, Ruffians, &c.
|Mrs. Brown||Mrs. Cantor|
|Julia||Miss Annie Senter.|
|Suke||Miss H. Lang.|
|Mrs. Sligo||Miss Lee.|
SCENE I.---An apartment in the North. Elba farm. Mrs. BROWN seated in an arm chair. Room arranged for the reception of guests.
Mrs. Brown. It is a sad fate which keeps me here, and debars me of that privilege, so dear to a mother's heart, of witnessing the happiness of my dear son, my boy Frederick, who this day leads to the altar, one who is already dear to me as a daughter.
Well, Jeptha, you seem to have a heavy load there.
Jeptha. [Putting down a tremendous wedding cake, and displaying a number of extremely large favors.] Heavy load! well I reckon the size of that er' weddin' cake's not to be come at every day. And as these 'ere dandy jumpers, it's not the weight so much as the orders I've got not to muss 'em.
Mrs. B. But what. are you going to do with them all, Jeptha?
Jeptha. Why, ye see the gals was all a doin' somethin' to help to tidivate, and as none of them thought of my cake, I jest asked for these, and as it'll take about two dozen of 'em to go round, I'd better be a sticken' of 'em on.
[Sticks them on with pins as she speaks.
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 39
Mrs. B. The neighbors are very kind.
Jeptha. Kind! well I reckon a litter from the same sow couldn't be more like brothers and sisters than the young folks, and as to the boss, there is not one in the village but calls him Mr. Brown, for his larnin'. And well they might, for he talks like a 'lectioneer and raises the best cows in the hull United States. But where's that Little Billy-well, if he aint the moat provokinist piece of animal flesh in these parts, my name aint Jeptha Ann Higginbottom. [Calling.] Little Billy-Little Billy. I bet he's a peggin' into those quintze preserves like a half starved alligator, to say nothin' of the apple tarts. [Again calling.] Little Billy-Little Billy.
Enter LITTLE BILLY. He is eating as he enters, hides a tart in
his jacket, and wipes his mouth.
Jeptha. I told you so. Jest look at that 'ere unshameful villain. He can't take more down that meek-lookin' mouth of his than an underground railroad, or a hogshead with the bottom out.
Little Billy. Ah now, my darlint, what's the use of palarverin'; sure I aint been afther spoilin' none of the work of ye's fair fingers, [Aside] unless yer count ther pies.
Jeptha. And don't ye know ye're a spilin' of it now, a standin' here tellin' lies, when you know you've shirked your work, like a lazy, good-for-nothin' that you are.
Little B. Och! now, Mrs. Higginbottom---
Jeptha. Don't Mrs. Higginbottom me, yer pesky critter, I tell you ye didn't milk the black cow---
Little B. Sure and you're wrong inthirely. [Aside] I milked him yesterday.
Jeptha. And Kitty, with the skew horns?
Little B. Yes, shure. [Aside.] Devil a dhrop since the day before.
Jeptha. Well come and help me fix the things on this table, and see if yer can keep yer fingers off the eatin' sass. (They go up, quarreling.)
Brown. Well, wife, we shall soon be called upon to give up our three boys for a time. I hope one at least will go more hopefully on his journey for the fond prayers of a wife.
Mrs. B. But who knows the hardships they may endure?
Brown. I hope none, wife, but should they need aid, thank God their father's arm is strong, and his blood warm, and he'd spill it to the last drop, should danger threaten them.
Jeptha. [Coming down.] Never mind, old man. Don't get excited. The Injuns aint got 'em yet, and till they do, you'd better be a straightenin' down, for the weddin' party's a comin' down the road, and 'll be here before you can count nothin'.
Enter the bridal party--FREDERIC leading JULIA--OLIVER,
ALICE, WATSON and Lams with ladies of the party.
Frederick. Your blessing my dear parents, for myself and my dear Julia, who will send her husband off with a smile, while she has your affection to cheer her in his absence.
Julia. Say rather I rejoice in being able to cheer your hours of loneliness; and, as I never was permitted by my Heavenly Father, to know the happiness
40 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
of a parent's love, all that duty I should have shown to them is garnered in my heart for you-my father-mother.
Taking the hand of BROWN, and sinking at the feet of MRS. BROWN.
Mrs. B. Bless you, my child!
Jeptha. Well, here's Master Lewis a gettin' as hity-tity as a grasshopper on a hot griddle. His fiddle's a spilin', to say nothin' of the weddin' cake, and the cider, and --Well, it's a queer weddin,' the dear knows.
[Screams at seeing LITTLE BILLY choking-He makes the most violent gesticulations as JEPTHA looses his neck, slaps him on the back, and at last throws a quantity of water in his face.
The dear knows, I thought he was gone, for he's been eatin' the weddin' cake, and one of them 'ere pins has stuck in his throat.
[Guests arrive at intervals-Music heard-Places taken for the dance-As the dance is ended, all rush forward, at a scream from JEPTHA, who is support- ing MRS. BROWN in her chair.
Mrs. B. [Slowly recovering.] Do not grieve, my children-it is the will of Heaven; I had not thought to leave you now. But since it must be so, heed well, my children, your mother's last request---
Fred. Speak! oh, speak.
Mrs. B. You are yet young, all of you, and need a guiding hand. Promise me to obey your father at all times, at any sacrifice. You will show him that devotion that shrinks not at the cost of life.
All. We promise.
Mrs. B. [To JULIA.] And you, my daughter, will live to take my place towards my young, my gentle Alice-to bless my Frederick with a true wife's love, and soften his declining years with watchful care. [Pointing to the bowed form. of BROWN.] Promise me this.
Julia. I do, I do.
Mrs. B. My children-Alice-Husband.
SCENE II: Garden without the Farm.
Enter JEPTHA, with milk pails.
Jeptha. Well, there; if I was to hunt from Thanksgivin' a year, to the next Fourth of July, I reckon I'd be as near on to findin' that consarned Irisher. Not that I want to cast eyes on him, but since Mr. Frederick's gone, and Oliver and Watson, there's a heap to do, and it all falls on me. Well, if there aint that half-breed between a elephant an' a crocodile, a swollerin' down my doughnuts, hot out o' the pan.
[Enter LITTLE BILLY. On seeing JEPTHA, tries to hide doughnuts, they burn his fingers and he puts them in the breast of his coat.
Little B. [Aside.] Shstay there, ye divilsl How purty she looks. If 1 could just get her to listen to a little touch of me illoquence now, jest so she'd give me a touch of her purty lips-widout raisin' the divil wid a poor boy. [To her.] Mrs. Higginbottom.
Jeptha. A grissly cow, with her ears cropped, and as blind as a young kitten'd have more sense to larn, than some folks that thinks they're smart.
Little B. Mrs. Higginbottom.
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 41
Jeptha. [Going.] Let me go, yer pesky fool!
Little B. Miss Jepthy-
Jeptha. [Turning back.] Wall, what is it?
Little B. [Aside.] Ah, ah, ye stubborn little divil, yer. [Aloud, drawing her back.] Miss Jipthy--ah, now, me darlint, come here-yer don't know what I'm going to say to yer.
Jeptha. I do, you're always a makin' love to me. (Simpering.)
Little B. I ain't. [She turns away.] But I'm a goin' to now. [She turns to him.] I'm a goin' to tell yer how much I love ye. Through you I've lost me appetite; through you I've lost tin pounds of flesh; through you I've lost me-me-me-money.
Jeptha. Your money!
Little B. Yes. [Aside.] As much as I had of it. [On his knees.] If ye only knew the love that's burnin' in me brief,-[Sniveling.] that's burnin' in me brief-[Jumping up.] By me faith-och murdher-murdher-(Opening his coat and dropping the doughnuts out.]--I might well say that, for there was somethin' burnin' in me brief, and no mistake. [JEPTHA is going.] Hould on.
Jeptha. What do you want?
Little B. Don't ye know?
Little B. Yer little divil ye, I must get a kiss. [She coquettes, he follows her until near the door, he attempts to kiss her, when she slaps his face and runs off.] That was a stinger. But I'll be even with the little varmint. Now I'm a boy of a dilicate appetite, but I'll go and I'll stale all of her mince pies that's in the closit, and if I don't ate every one of 'em, damn me, Mrs. Higginbottom.
SCENE III. Interior of a rude tavern or ranchero.
BLACK JIM and ruffians gambling. Landlord looking on. SUKE busy at side.
Black J. Euchred! By God! Suke, fetch some more of that whiskey here, or--
Suke. Here's lazy bones will get you the whiskey. And now, my gentlemen, you've got to clear off from this table, while I put some supper down for the travelers.
Black J. Travelers, what travelers?
Suke. Three young men that's traveling out here with stock-farmers from York State, I reckon. They're gone to put up the critters.
Black J. Traveling with stock, be they? Now look'ee here Suke, I'm going' out to take a look at their stock, and mind, no unpleasant siniwations about a feller's character while we're gone; you know me, Suke.
Suke. I do know ye for the biggest blackguard and bully in the territory, and if you wasn't the shot you are, you'd have been under the ground this many a long day.
Enter FREDERICK, OLIVER, and LEWIS.
Welcome, strangers. Sit and take something.
Lewis. Thank you, my good woman. But tell me who are those men who--
Suke. Hush, they are here.
42 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Enter BLACK JIM and the others.
One of them is my husband, young men.
Black J. Good evening strangers. [To LEWIS.] Try a drink?
Lewis. No, I am not in the habit of drinking.
Black J. Well, no offense. Here Suke, give us something to keep the blue devils out. Take a hand of cards, youngster?
[To LEWIS, as OLIVER and WATSON sit at table.
Suke. [Making signs to LEWIS.] There's time enough after the young fellows have had their supper.
Lewis. If I chose to gamble with you I should say so.
Black J. You wont take a hand, then?
[Taking out his knife and trifling with it.
Black J. Dog garn ye I then take that.
Striking him, the blow is returned. BLACK JIM'S companions try to pull him away and mollify him. He breaks from them and strikes at LEWIS with his knife. FREDERICK snatches the knife from his grasp and fells him to the earth.
Enter FREDERICK, travel-worn and weary.
Fred. I am weary and would fain seek rest, but while there is yet a hope of finding shelter for my brother, I cannot See him perish. But where! Oh heaven! No sight or sound denotes the tread of man for miles. I'll on! on! Kind Providence direct me to find aid to save a dying brother!
Enter LEWIS, supported by OLIVER.
Lewis. Here let me rest, my brother. I feel I cannot go further. I am but wearing out your strength and my own.
Oliver. Try yet, my brother. Bear up but a short time, and Frederick may find aid. Oh how I curse the hand that dealt this coward blow! Why had I not slain him ere his arm was raised? But let me reach the haunts of men again-I swear--
Lewis. Take no such oath, my brother. I feel that had I not received that wound, the end had been the same. My strength has given way before the hardships of our journey, slowly at first, but surely, as day by day cast perils in our path. I fear I have but ill repaid my brothers for the love which took the burden of my duties on themselves, already overtasked.
Oliver. Speak not so, my brother. Oh heaven! he is sinking, his hands are icy cold, his lips are powerless. Oh, brother! brother!
Fred. I have no help, and he is dying! Oh, God I are we then so powerless? so helpless, and alone?
Lewis. Dear brothers, do not weep for me. I cannot tell you how hard, how very hard it is to leave you, and that dear home which I can never see again. My father, and our dear, dear Alice. My brothers too, who would have
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 43
shared our peril. Tell them I go in peace to join our sainted mother! I see her now, her form encircled in its angel brightness is beckoning me to heaven.
SCENE V. Interior of BROWN'S house in Pottowottomie Creek.
BROWN seated, reading. JULIA occupied at table. JEPTHA busy round the room.
Julia. Pray do not give way to this sadness, dear father. Are we not all again united and living in comparative prosperity?
Brown. I cannot dismiss from my thoughts the fate of my son. Brave boy, he had undertaken a mission that was too much for his strength.
Julia. And it has pleased his Heavenly Father to take him to a happier home.
Brown. But 'twas my fault-my fault. What were my few remaining years to his young life?
Alice. Much, dear father, to those who love you. Can we devise no means to cheer you?
Brown. It was a blessed day that restored the poor wanderers to us.
Julia. Daily and hourly I remember it with gratitude and pray that we may never know another separation.
Enter FREDERICK, OLIVER, and WATSON.
Fred. A prayer which I second with all my heart, sweet wife. With what joy I see you all again, gathered around a peaceful, happy hearth, and I can come home after a day's hard toil to claim this sweet reward.
Julia. Our father is sad to-night-go speak to him.
Fred. Not giving way to sadness, old man, and such prospects before us?
Brown. I know, my boy, I know. But I don't like the place. It's not a peaceful one. I see men's rights molested by a set of lawless ruffians. Sooner than suffer the innovations that some do, I'd rather death, war, anything but tyranny.
Jeptha. [Coming down.] There now, old man, don't go tew gettin' excited, 'cause it brings on colic with them that's of a bilious turn. I remember my old grandmother used tew say so, for she was subjic' to it.
Fred. What, Jeptha? biliousness, or getting excited?
Jeptha. Some folks is subjic' tew too much smartness, and then it's apt to be dangerous. But here's Miss Alice, sittin' as deserted as a dead rat in a two-acre turnip field. Can't you take some notice of the gal?
Julia. Hush, Jeptha. Alice is suffering some anxiety of mind, and does not wish to join in conversation.
Jeptha. No; it's my belief she'd rather be a jiving onto somethin' else. But I jest thought. [Hunting in her pocket.] Mrs. Jackson sent her boy down tew the settlement, and as I knew Miss Alice was a pining like a new weaned heifer, I told him tew keep his eyes skinned when the mail come in.
Alice. [Snatching it.] Oh, Jeptha, Jeptha!
Jeptha. Wall, if you was in a hurry, why on girth didn't you say so?
Alice. From dear, dear Ralph.
44 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Jeptha. [Looking off.] And she's a cryin' over it as if it was his last dying speech and confession.
Oliver. Frederick, who was that man you gave work to, yesterday?
Fred. A fellow traveling through the country, almost starved, so he said. And indeed he seems grateful enough for the shelter he has found.
Oliver. A suspicious looking fellow; his face haunts me like a dream.
Julia. Husband be careful.
Enter a farm laborer.
Man. Mr. Frederick, one of the men's been kicked by the black heifer. He's hurt pretty bad, and wants to see you.
Julia. You will not go.
Fred. And why not, little coward? [Turning back and embracing her.] Why so alarmed, dearest? If I am not back in five minutes, send the boys after me.
Julia. Father, I am alarmed. If that man should be here under false pretenses?--if Black Jim--
Oliver. [Starting up.] Black Jim! that face! why did I not remember? Father! brothers! Come! come!
A shot is heard-JULIA screams and sinks upon her knees-They bring in FREDERICK, who is wounded, and place him on the ground beside her-She shrieks and sinks upon his breast-ALICE, who has entered, stands motion less.
Brown. [After a pause, and standing over FREDERICK'S body.] If ye are sons of mine, remember your mother's dying words, and swear to avenge this deed. My son! my son! your father's head shall know no rest-this hand shall know no touch but an implement of death, to wield against your murderers until it is avenged. I'll spare no recreant heart that dares befriend them. I'll leave no roof unburned that ever gave them shelter. I'll leave no foot-path in the wilderness untracked, till I have laid them in the dust. Swear this!
All. We swear! we swear!
END OF ACT I.
SCENE I.--A Wood.
Enter BROWN, as if pursued.
Brown. To what extremity am I driven? Hunted down, pursued, accused of the blackest crimes by those whose homes I hold as sacred as my own. In the pursuit of vengeance, we drove those lawless ruffians to further deeds of violence and bloodshed. Whilst still evading our pursuit, they drew the inhabitants from their beds, brutally murdered, and then left them to be counted as our victims. Thus are we in our turn pursued. My sons may even now be overtaken-murdered-by the infuriate mob.
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 45
Enter OLIVER, WATSON, and others.
Ha! You are here. Fought through them like brave fellows, as you are. But hark! they are not far distant. What chance is there for escape?
Oliver. But little. The people are infuriated-they swear 'twas we who committed last night's outrage.
Watson. There is nothing left but to surrender up our lives, and strive to die like men.
Brown. And is that spoken like a man? No, lads, one more effort, and we are home. The doors are stout-we have arms and ammunition-once in our stronghold we can defy them for a while. Come, lads, come!
SCENE II: Same as Scene V, Act I.
JULIA, ALICE and JEPTHA discovered.
Alice. Look up, dear Julia-must we forever weep? Ohl why does not my father come?
Julia. Frederick! oh, my husband!
Alice. Alas! what shall I do?
Jeptha. Why, just trust to the old man and the boys and be cheerful like I am.
Julia. What is that!
[Starting up wildly.]
Jeptha. 'Taint nothin'.
Julia. Did you not hear? Alice, cling to me! away with all selfish grief and heaven grant me strength to meet new trials.
Shouts are heard-Brown rushes in, followed by OLIVES and WATSON.
Brown. Bar the doors and windows, make fast every place, and give them fight. If we're to be hunted down like dogs, we'll sell our lives as dearly as we can.
(As he is speaking and doors being secured, a man appears at window, levels musket at BROWN, is seen by JEPTHA who snatches his musket and levels it at his head; he retreats.
Jeptha. No you don't while my name is Jeptha Ann Higginbottom.
Brown. Don't fire boys, we will leave that till the last. They all may have wives or sisters, and I want not to shed a drop of innocent blood if I can help it.
Julia. [Looking out.] But who are these who threaten you so violently? These are no hired ruffians! Oh, tell me in heaven's name what you have done to arouse such hatred in them? What heavy crime committed?
Brown. Crime, girl! Look down upon those men, and in every face behold a slaveholder! The crime I have committed against those men is net the bloody deed with which they charge me, but worse, far worse, for I have told them to their teeth, that I hold not with their creed which teaches them to barter human souls.
Julia. [To OLIVER.] Is this true?
Oliver. It is.
Brown. And they think to shut the old man's mouth that he may breathe no word to rob them of their sanctity. [Shots without.] They think to murder the old bear in his den, but they'll find it is not so easy. [Shots again.]
46 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Ha, ha, the old fox is not reached yet. [Shots.] You've got him cornered, but let him once get loose again, and he has teeth that will bite, aye, and leave their mark among ye.
Oliver. They seem afraid to force an entrance.
Julia. Perhaps they may yet disperse.
Alice. Heaven grant they may!
Brown. Amen, for your sake child, but I wager they are hatching some new treachery.
Jeptha. [Looking out.] That's so, old man. They move around with torches a bellerin' like scared injuns. Why, I do believe--
[An explosion heard.]
Brown. Great God! They have fired the house. [All stand horror-stricken.] Shout to them "hold." If this poor body will satisfy their malice, I'll throw myself a hostage in their midst. Let them tear me limb from limb, but burn not these innocent children in their home. [Rushing to door.] Holdl I am ready l I surrender.
Oliver and Watson. No, no, we will share your fate.
Alice. No, no, why should our lives be bought at such a price. Let us die here together.
Julia. [Placing herself in doorway.] You shall not stir! Father, brothers, no! Rather let us fall upon our knees in prayer, and occupy our few remaining moments in supplicating mercy from above!
Jeptha. Unless we can find a safer place below. [Opening trap.] Down into the milk-cellar, the other steps lead up into the barn; the night is dark, and while the villains think we are roasting up alive, we can make for the woods, and off before they get their eyes skinned.
[Sends them down singly. The flames mount higher and higher. JEPTHA begins to descend as the flames burst in.]
SCENE III. Apartment in DEARBORN'S house.
Enter DEARBORN and RALPH.
Dearborn. Ralph, you appear somewhat distrait this morning.
Ralph. Yes, sir; I acknowledge my mind is not quite at rest.
Dearb. I regret it. I had looked forward to a little conversation this morning.
Ralph. My dear sir, I surely cannot be the very unsociable being you would represent me. I am always ready to listen to your agreeable and instructive conversation.
Dearb. I am glad you are so fully impressed with what is your duty towards a parent. Let me remember,-Oh! I was about to remark that I had received a letter from your uncle, in which he has promised me a visit. This will be the more interesting to you, as he will be accompanied by his wife and daughter, your cousin Lucy. But you are not paying such strict attention
Ralph. Pray excuse me, sir; I own I am a little absent minded this morning.
Dearb. Your cousin Lucy is a very charming girl. [Ralph seems lost in thought.] I was remarking that your cousin, Lucy-[Very loudly] Ahem!
Ralph. [Starting.] Pray go on, sir, I am all attention.
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 47
Dearb. [Pointedly.] Yes, I see you are. [Rising.] Well, sir, as you seem to treat the matter with so much indifference, I shall not trouble myself further than to inform you that you are expected to treat your aunt and cousin with some respect -- and in short that I have -- more -- settled views in prospect for you.
Ralph. Sir, may I ask, without impropriety, that you will be more explicit in your remarks.
Dearb. Well, then, sir, since you drive me to it, I have always intended that you and your cousin should form an alliance, that is much desired by her father and myself. And since there is no possible obstacle
Ralph. I am glad at last to see the tendency of your remarks, and that there may be no misunderstanding, will you now oblige me by resuming your seat and giving me your attention for a few moments.
Dearb. Well, sir, be brief.
Ralph. You said just now, that there could be no possible obstacle to the fulfillment of your plans. My dear father, there is an obstacle, which I will state in as few words as possible. Some two years back I made the acquaintance of a young girl under somewhat peculiar circumstances. It so happened that, under Providence, I was the means of rescuing her from great peril. I became in time a welcome visitor at her father's house. I found her to be as virtuous and amiable, as I already knew she was beautiful. But her parents, who are poor, though honest people, being forced to emigrate, I have endured a separation of some months-only, however, with the promise of claiming her-my beautiful Alice-at the expiration of a year.
Dearb. Very fine! Quite a romance. But do you know the consequences in case of my displeasure?
Ralph. I know that it is in your power to make me penniless, but only condescend to see my beautiful Alice, and I will answer for the rest.
Enter a Servant, with Letters.
Dearb. Will you? Well, just hand me those letters. [Does so.] And now go about your business; I'll think this over. [Exit RALPH.] [Opening letter.] I declare the fellow has quite bewildered me with his sudden disclosures. What, my little Lucy to be thrown away on a stranger, and he run off with this little chit of a nobody knows who. Ah 1 what is here? A letter in a strange hand, and on the very subject. [Reads.] "Beware of your son forming a connection which would be discreditable to the last degree. He is about to marry the daughter of a man notorious for his bad deeds. An outlaw and a murderer." Good heavens! can I believe my eyes? This must be put a stop to at once, if true, but I'll not believe it. Here, Ralph! Ralph!
SCENE IV. Interior of a miserable shed.
JULIA supporting ALICE. JEPTHA seated near.
Julia. How terrible is this suspense! It is long since our brother, risking all for our protection, went in search of help, and the other members of our little band are guarding, lest, being found, the fury of the mob should drive us even from this poor shelter. But alas! the time is flying rapidly and no assistance yet. We may be waylaid, killed perhaps, and then, oh heaven! what can save us then?
48 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Alice. [Awakening.] Where am I? Have I been sleeping? Yes, I was once more happy, for I thought I was again at home. Where are they? Where's my father?
Julia. Compose yourself, dear Alice. I trust he will soon be here.
Alice. And you, my dear sister. How much greater must be your sufferings, and yet for my sake you bear all in silence. But hark! what noise is that! [Starting up.] I hear them. Father! brothers! you are come-ah
[Falls senseless as BLACK Jim appears at window.]
Julia. Lost! lost!
Black J. Halloa! what in thunder's here? Instead of pitching on the old wolf in his den, he's given chase and left us to stumble in among the cubs. Halloo! what, dead? [Seeing ALICE.] No, only scared. Let's see.
[Is about to lift her. Julia hurls him off.
Julia. Villain, away I Whatever your hellish purpose, while I have life, you touch not with impious hand, that stricken girl.
Black J. Away, woman! or take the same fate as your husband.
Julia. My husband! ah, I know you now, and yet I do not fear you. I ask not mercy for myself. I would bless the hand that gave me peace and heaven. But if you would escape the curse of him whose blood now stains your hands, spare her, the innocent sister of your victim, and let her go unharmed.
[JEPTHA steals to window and makes signals for assistance.
Black J. Enough of this. Away there from the girl.
Julia. Merciful heaven! is there no way to move you? Is it not enough to know your hands are already dyed in her brother's blood? Should you commit this double deed of infamy, the curse of heaven would follow in your footsteps; her voice with his would shout it in your ears by day and night, thou traitorous coward, thou double murderer!
Black J. What ho! there!
Julia. I do not fear you now. When your murderous steel shall pierce the only heart that shields her, heaven will send some power to aid the helpless and the friendless!
[He rushes toward her, when JEPTHA seizes a gun and fires out of window.
Black J. Ah, you'd bring the old wolf down on me would you?
[Seizes JEPTHA, holds a knife over her, when BROWN and WATSON rush in. BROWN, snatching the knife from his grasp, plunges it in his heart; he falls.
Brown. Die! Murderer of my son!
SCENE V. An apartment in COOK'S house.
Enter Cook with an open letter.
Cook. Our plans are well nigh ripe, and as the old man Brown has long been looked upon as the most fit leader of the undertaking, his escape and arrival here is most opportune. Ha, here comes his pretty daughter-in-law.
Julia. Mr. Cook, how can we express sufficient thanks--
Cook. None are needed, I assure you. I am happy in being able to afford my friends assistance. But you wished to see me?
Julia. Yes. You say my father is about engaging in a scheme which has
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 49
for its object, that which makes me tremble for his safety. I would ask you, can this mad project not be surrendered? Can he not be restored to his peaceful home, or who persuades him to this?
Cook. None, he joins our cause heart and hand, as one who holds with freedom.
Julia. But why choose him? His mind has been so tried with suffering, I fear 'tis overbalanced. I need not tell you there are some men that sink under great trials hopelessly and at once, and others whose minds will bend beneath the storm, to rise, crooked, deformed perhaps, but not extinguished. Is it not so with him? under his great trials, his mind has warped and cramped until he can see nothing but through the glass of his revenge, and lives but to redress his wrongs.
Cook. It maybe so.
Julia. It is, and being so, is it just or generous to choose him for this purpose? Is it not fostering a madness that has grown out of his misfortunes?
Cook. You are severe. But you will find that his friends are at least prepared to share the danger with him-but he is here. Your interview must be short, for your time is limited by your father's fears for your safety.
[Exit as BROWN enters.
Julia. Could I but move him from his purpose, but I fear this madness is not to be repressed. Father! you are fully determined on this mission?
Brown. I am, girl, fully.
Julia. And you have thought on all the serious consequences-on the danger to my brothers?
Brown. Who says they are unwilling?
Julia. They are willing. Their courage will always equal their duty and affection. But is it right, my father, to put it to the test?
Brown. Thank God! my boys are not cowards! But try not to dissuade me -- it raises an alarm in my breast I cannot conquer -- speak of it no more.
Julia. I will not, and since you are bent on this, I can but pray for you.
[ALICE rushes on, and sinks into her father's arms-he regards her with great tenderness and emotion.
Brown. Alice, my good child!
Alice. Oh! tell me it is not true. You are not going forever from your Alice? You will not send up from you? Think how heavily the hours must pass that threaten you with danger. [Sinks at his feet.
Brown. My child I feel your sorrow, but there are reasons which you cannot understand.
Alice. If but for my brother's sake. Think of the dear one we have lost--think of the husband for whom she sorrows, and add not another-Oh, my father!
Brown. My child-my child!
Alice. Oh, say you will stay your purpose. Come back to our dear old homecome back, and our lives shall know no object but to make you happy -we'll work and toil-you shall not know a care-Oh, father, answer me, or my heart will break.
Brown. My child I could not if I would. I am bound by an oath I dare not break. Take her from me, girl. [To JULIA.] Remember her mother's trust. God bless you both!
[Turns away.-ALICE clings to JULIA.]
50 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
SCENE I. Interior of the Kennedy Farm, near Harper's Ferry.
BROWN seated at table with letters.
Brown. [Reading letter.] "It is well known, that in every instance where an enlightened body of men have espoused the cause of the oppressed, and have endeavored to set them free, the result has invariably proved a failure, from sole cause that the would-be liberators, depend on the cooperation of those whose battles they are fighting, but which inevitably fails them at the moment of action. This is a painful conviction, but one that is forced upon every thinking mind by all past experience. It is a stubborn fact, recorded in the history of ages. To emancipate at one blow any down-trodden race, you must provide force enough to liberate them at least without cooperation from, if not absolutely against their will. In withholding education from the slaves, the men of the South have raised a barrier that is mightier than any force of arms that can be brought to bear against it, and it is called ignorant.- and fear. If, in spite of these arguments, you are still determined to rush on to the attack, I will give you all the pecuniary aid in my power, but remember, 1 have no faith in the success of the undertaking. A Philosopher." [Speaking.] There's a wet blanket, and from a professed abolitionist! [Derisively.] An old fox. A philosopher truly-but one of that school that fattens on the follies of men, and chuckles over his wisdom and his prudence. Well, friend, ha, ahem! [checking himself.] your money may do more for us than your sympathy, but I would not give much for either. What have we here? [opening another letter.] signed G. S.-ha, this is joining opposites if you will. Mark now from that stoic, this nervous, sympathetic nature that feels the wrongs of others as they were his own. [Reads.] "Is it natural when the body's bent, to regain its upright posture? Is it natural, were one hand corded to our side, the other should be used to free it? Is it not a law divine, that when the bird escapes from bondage it soars to retain its freedom? Are we not therefore bound by strong ties of humanity, to burst the ties that bind the slaves to bondage, that they may soar to regain their level with the free men of the earth." [Speaking.] Those may be the sentiments of a visionary enthusiast, but there's more humanity in them, and I like him for it. Well, boy? [ As OLIVER enters.
Oliver. Another load of rifles has arrived. I want directions about going down after them. There are also several of our people waiting to see the Captain.
Brown. I cannot see them until I have finished looking over these letters.
Oliver. Are they from friends in the North?
Brown. Yes; from our friends "Philosopher," and "G. S." One predicting failure, and the other success as inevitable results. One thing is certain, the result, be it what it may, cannot much affect them at the very safe distance they are likely to remain.
Oliver. There seems to be no question as to the result.
Broom. No, nor is there. It depends not on these men who preach to us. They would not place themselves here, as I have done, sounded every depth, watched and waited till the time should come, and guarded every avenue to
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 50
surprise. I have set emissaries to find out how the pulse beats in every part. I have organized a plan whereby our forces are so stationed, that in one day's time I have them at command. I have collected arms, unknowing to the people, that, in the hands of outraged men, who are fighting for their freedom, would insure their safety against many thousand. This is no lawless outbreak -we are not here to murder and to rob. God knows I have no thirst for blood. Those weapons are for self-defense-to guard the passage of our rescued band to shores of greater safety-and I have no fear in leaving it to all humanity to justify the act. Enter WATSON.
Watson. Father, Cook has just arrived, and wants to see you.
Brown. Let him come in.
Enter COOK, disguised as a Peddler.
Well, friend, what news?
Cook. Much, that is satisfactory. I have been in many Northern towns since I was here, and in every place is the same sympathy evinced, the same assistance offered. When I came this way I am cautious, as you see, disguising myself in this way in order to ascertain the feeling that is manifested.
Brown. And you find the cause goes well?
Cook. The cause works gloriously. We have more sympathy than you would well believe. Every man who dares to speak his real thoughts, is ready for the struggle. All seem prepared, and once let the blow be struck, there is not one but goes with us, heart and hand.
Brown. And the sooner now that blow is struck, the better. [Rising.] This is no sudden movement. Men have worked for this with patient toil for years. It is a question that involves the whole social structure of the world and what is this poor brain, and heart, and strength to give to such a cause? I have seen it could be done, and seen the means, and now the time is come--'tis ripe-'tis almost here-one effort and the day is ours.
Cook. God speed it, and make it a bloodless one.
Brown. And bloodless it shall be. For what else was time and caution needed? We are not here for purposes of blood and riot. He among us who would strike a blow, except in self-defense, falls at once from a martyr and a hero to grovel among the lowest felons of the earth. But I must leave you, for I have weighty business yet on hand. [Exit Oliver.
Oliver. [To COOK.] Go you with my brother and refresh yourself. I must away to bring up the rifles.
Cook. Heaven speed the cause.
SCENE II. Same as Scene 1, Act 1.
Jeptha. Well, now, it's pesky queer that there can't be no peace in this 'ere family anyhow. I did think when we got safe back with hull skins, which the dear knows was a miracle under the circumstances, that there'd be somethin' pleasant in the shape of a weddin'. Instead of that, everything's gone as crooked as a blind bull arter a butterfly. When I think of it-well,
52 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
there, it's no use. [Crying.] There was Miss Alice a tryin to forget all the queer shines the old man's been a cuttin' up, and beginnin' to look so pretty and sunshiny again, and the young gentleman was a skippin' around her like a bee round a honeysuckle, when bang comes in old Pap Dearborn and forbids the banns. Oh, dear! when I think of it-well, there, it's no use. [Cries.] He says that her father ain't actin' respectable, and that his son shan't marry his daughter. That is, Pap Dearborn sez his son shan't marry our Pap's daughter. Oh, dear, when I think of it-well there, it's no use. [Cries.
Jeptha. Lord! how ye skeered me.
Ralph. Why, did you think it was a certain young Irish gentleman that I saw going round the corner just now?
Jeptha. No, Little Billy's not a gentleman, and I reckon he never will be, but I thought it was young Mrs. Brown, and I wouldn't let her see me cryin' for anythin', for her own sorrows are always a comin' up in big round tears to her eyes, but always driven back again for fear they'd pain her darling, as she calls her.
Ralph. How is she, how is Alice?
Jeptha. Well, if ye want me to say she's pretty well I can't, 'cause it aint so, but she's able to get up to-day for the first time since you see her before.
Ralph. Thank heaven for that. But will she see me?
Jeptha. Well I don't really think she will. You see she's as dutiful as a new preacher, and things is turnin' out worse and worse. The old man's turned out to be a ringleader, and that's somethin' worse than robbin' on the high seas.
Ralph. Why will that rash man bring all this trouble on us?
Jeptha. I don't know. But I do know that whatever he does he thinks it's right, and I won't hear nobody speak agin' him. Old pap brought me up, and though I ain't turned out much, it aint no fault of his, for he's a regular church member and talks every bit as smart as the deacon.
Ralph. If Alice would but see me for a moment.
Jeptha. Well don't look so kill-me-quick-ish and I'll go and see. Oh dear, when I think of it-well it's no use- [Cries and exit.
Ralph. I cannot but blame my father who exacts this cruel sacrifice. But if Alice would consent to brave his displeasure for a while.
Ralph. Alice, dear Alice, how it grieves me to see you suffer thus. Can no argument, no fears for my peace induce you to alter your decision?
Alice. No dear Ralph. I know all you would urge, but indeed I cannot-dare not accede. You owe a duty to your father which you must obey at any sacrifice, and were I to tempt you from that duty, it would forever stand between us and our happiness. It was to tell you this, and show you how wrong it is for us to meet with such a barrier between us, that brought me to you now.
Ralph. Alice, listen to me.
Alice. I dare not. I could not forego the joy of looking on your dear face once again, but you must leave me now. Strive with all your manly courage
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 53
to forget the love you bear me, and try as I shall pray you may do, to forget me. Leave me-farewell.
Ralph. Alice, I will not reproach you for your harsh decision, but may you never know the anguish it has caused me. Farewell forever.
[Rushes out as JULIA enters.
Alice. Ralph-Ralph! oh, it will break my heart.
[Falls on JULIA'S shoulder, who leads her off.
SCENE III. Same room in DEARBORN's, house.
Dearb. There really is no accounting for the tastes of the young men of the present day. Here's my son with the coolest indifference renounces in one breath all claim to the hand of my pretty little niece, and her three thousand a year. True, he pleads a prior attachment, but then what do these sentimental attachments amount to with the young men of the present day.
Servant. Sir, a lady wishes to see you on important business.
Dearb. Show the lady in. [Exit Servant.] Really I begin to feel nervous this cannot be--
Enter JULIA and JEPTHA.
Why bless me, this must be the sentimental attachment. Madame are you? am I to suppose-
Julia. I come, sir, on behalf of my sister.
Dearb. [Aside.] Oh! the sister to the sentimental attachment.
Julia. Do not imagine I am here at her request-she is far too young and innocent for that-and I am so much older; indeed, stand almost in the light of a mother to her.
Dearb. A mother! dear me, impossible.
Julia. Oh, sir, if you could see her-she, whom your son had chosen for his wife, when all was happy round them-when she gave him her young, pure heart, without a doubt to mar the brightness of the future.
Dearb. Madam, this intercession--
Julia. Oh, sir, do not blame me. Could I, or any one who loved her, see her young head bowed down with sorrow, and make no effort to alleviate it?
Dearb. What would you have me do?
Julia. What do? She was once happy, free-your son came and won her to himself--her heart was his-her happiness, her life-in losing him, she loses all. Restore her her happiness, and with it life and hope.
Dearb. The daughter of a wild fanatic, who has made his name notorious!
Julia. And she, the innocent victim of your pride, is made to suffer for the wrongs of others.
Dearb. I am sorry, very sorry-but I can never consent to a union of my son, to a daughter of that mad-that misguided man.
Julia. Then all is lost, indeed.
[Exit, followed by JEPTHA.
Dearb. Really, this young woman's story, in spite of my naturally strong nerves [taking out his handkerchief,] has quite--
54 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Re-enter JEPTHA, suddenly.
Jeptha. You thought I was gone, didn't you?
Dearb. [Starting violently.] Bless me! young woman.
Jeptha. Reckon you're nervous, aint you? I jest stepped back to give you a piece of my mind, right straight up and down. And to begin, I think you're a great heap more nice than wise. You ain't too good lookin' 'nuther-nor too well dragged up, though you do stick it out you be-and Miss Alice, with her sweet face, and pretty ways, aint no more fit to be in the same house with you, than a white dove in a thunderstorm. You won't let your son marry her, 'cause of the boss-but you don't know everything-I aint lived in the family all my life, for nothin'-and if you don't have to give in yet, old fellow, there's no squeakin' in pigs.
Dearb. Really, young woman, this extraordinary conduct--
Jeptha. Well, I guess the old un's heard enough-he hops out like an old bull frog on his hind legs. Well, as I can't be doin' nothin' here, I guess I'd better be a goin' too.
SCENE IV: Exterior of Armory at Harper's Ferry.
Several of BROWN'S men stationed as Sentinels-Enter Coos and OLIVER They sign to Sentinels, and are approaching the entrance, when BROWN appears from within.
Brown. Well, lads, what cheer?
Cook. All right, Captain; all is going on steadily and quietly.
Brown. Yes, the die is cast-and thus far, success attends us. By taking possession of the armory we can supply our forces with such arms as could not be procured elsewhere. Are the reinforcements still coming in?
Cook. I must say, but slowly.
Brown. Do you keep strict watch for the employees of this building?
Oliver. Yes; but I reckon you have them all inside there, close prisoners.
Brown. Is all quiet at the hotel?
Oliver. Yes; but it seems more the quiet of fear than security. The lights are all out.
Brown. Fools! they need not fear if they let us alone. But it was that skirmish on the bridge that scared them. If they send word down by that train, we may yet get hot work.
Cook. We are gathering men from the plantations every minute.
Brown. True; but it all takes time-and until they see something like a force here, they will not rally. Are all who received instructions off to the plantations?
Cook. All that had the word. For my party it lacks an hour.
Brown. Never mind that hour. If you are ready, start. Get every able negro; securing the master to bring here as prisoner. It is important we have men of influence to be held as hostage, in case of an attack.
Cook. You have some big men already, Captain, and if luck aids me I will bring you more.
Brown. Why did I let that train go down? they'll take the news, and if our reinforcements are thus tardy-[To OLIVER.] Have you found out who killed that man upon the bridge?
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 55
Oliver. No sir, but it was one of our party.
Brown. It was a mad, a ruinous act! It never had my sanction. It would give them an excuse, should our cause fail, to disregard the rules of open warfare, and shoot us down like dogs.
Oliver. Do you think it was well to let that train pass?
Browm. I fear it was an evil stroke of policy-but if it prove so, I've but to thank the sentiment that prompted me, for I swear 'twas one of mercy.
Watson. There is a report of the approach of forces brought on to attack us here.
Brown. How did you learn the rumor?
Watson. Some of our men say they are tight upon us.
Brown. Ah! the telegraph wires have not escaped destruction?
Brown. And the reinforcements?
Watson, Still come slowly in. Some are lurking in the woods, as if to secure escape.
Brown. Afraid to join us! The coward herd! 'Tis all the effects of letting that train pass down. [To OLIVER.] Go you, my lad, and see what you can learn. [Exit OLIVER.] Fool that I was, to let such a miserable weakness sway me in the matter!
Enter one of Brown's men.
Man. Well, Captain, the cause looks queer. Troops are already coming up from Charlestown, and I should not wonder but we'll have hot work.
Oliver. The sentinels at the bridge are already overpowered. There is a great stir at the hotel. I can scarce keep the men at their posts, they fear the armory will be stormed.
Brown. No fear of that while the prisoners are within. They will not fire at risk of killing them. Tell every man to keep his post until the last. Come you, lads, into the building by this door, come all of you. [Sentinels and men file in.] If they are coming, we will not be unprepared. They must treat with us to save the prisoners-and if the worst shows us grim death, we will teach them we can face it, and not be killed like dogs.
[Exeunt into armory.
A noise is heard as of the approach of a body of people. BROWN reappears at entrance, looks around and turns to give orders within.
Brown. Ah! they are upon us; take care of the prisoners. Place them in a position where they may not be injured. Open those doors at back to let in our people, these are no longer safe. Now then, to work, to barricade these doors.
The noise of barricading is heard within. Shouts increase without. Tramp of Military, who presently appear, preceded by a noisy crowd. Shouts kept up with cries of down with them.
Capt. M. Make an entrance.
[Soldiers attempt to batter in the doors,
which do not yield.
56 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
[The door is opened and an aged citizen appears bearing a flag of truce.
Do you surrender?
Voice. [From within.] No, but name conditions.
Capt. M. What are they?
Voice. That we are allowed to take the prisoners with us as a body guard to a stipulated place, and then suffered to go free.
[Cries of no, no, murmuring among the people.
Capt. M. We cannot grant your terms. Nothing but an unconditional surrender.
[Cries of down with them! Tumult increases. Doors again barricaded. A ladder is procured and used by the soldiers as a battering ram. After repeated efforts the door is burst open. Soldiers rush in. Skirmish. Cries of, Look to the prisoners! OLIVER and WATSON are seen to fall, and BROWN is brought out a prisoner. Shouts.
SCENE V. Street.
Enter STEVENS marks of blood on his face and clothes, staggering. Looking back as if pursued. Shouts. Enter a body of men, with cries of, Down with him! Shoot him! Sinks exhausted, and in an attitude of despair, begs for mercy. Shouts and hisses. He is thrown from one to the other. Pistols fired. He is wounded. Falls. Partly rising, he drags himself off, followed by mob, shouting.
SCENE VI. Prison.
BROWN lying on a cot, holding newspaper.
Brown. Tried-condemned-aye, and executed, if these fellows had their way. But not that yet. How easy it is for them to string a few light words together to sum up the aims and creation of a scheme like this, of which they know so little. Lost! It is not lost. True, our effort failed, and our lives must pay the forfeit, but the cause--the glorious cause--lives yet in the hearts of men who will follow in our foot steps.
Jailor. Old Man Brown, there are some more gentlemen wish to speak with you; shall I bring them in?
Brown. Yes, let them come in. [Exit JAILOR.] Another lot to see the old wolf in his cage.
Enter REPORTER, CITIZEN and JAILOR.
Reporter. Good day, Mr. Brown; do I disturb you?
Brown. No, Sir, I am glad to see you. A New York reporter, I believe? [He bows.] I am always glad to see you gentlemen, for there are so many false reports and misstatements regarding our undertaking, or rather its failure, that I can but look to you to set it right. I know that your superior education and cosmopolitan habits, render you freer from prejudice than most men, and I always look for truth from your hands.
Reporter. I am glad to have your good opinion. But do they make you comfortable here?
Citizen. Comfortable; what does he deserve?
Brown. You are a slaveholder, I suppose? [To citizen.]
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 57
Reporter. To what do you accredit your failure, Mr. Brown?
Brown. Entirely to a mistake. To my mistake in letting that train go down.
Citizen. And to Southern chivalry.
Brown. I was unwilling to cause unnecessary suffering, and this is the result.
Citizen. You would not cause unnecessary suffering, but you'd steal niggers.
Reporter. Sir, whoever you may be, allow me to say, I think your remark unwarranted. For there is no occasion when unmerited insult can come from the lips of a gentleman.
Citizen. Oh! I suppose you are a pair of abolitionists together, and as I only came to take a look at the prisoners, I'll leave you. Good day to you both.
Brown. I need not tell you that I have a great many such visitors. But I do not take their absurd speeches as any insult, for they do not represent the class they pretend to belong to.
Reporter. I am not sure that I fully understand your object in this movement.
Brown. Whatever is represented to the contrary, believe me, our sole object was to free the slaves, from motives of philanthropy. We look upon ourselves as workers in a great and good cause, to which we have sacrificed our lives. I would have wished it otherwise, but being so, we lay them down freely, and trust that the future will beam on more successful efforts.
Reporter. However I may condemn that cause, or the means taken to uphold it, I can but admire the man, who, thinking it right, sacrifices all to it as you have done. Mr. Brown, I would like to converse further with you, but I see it is against the rules, and I would not be the means of curtailing your few privileges. Good bye, I may see you again.
Brown. Good bye, sir, I feel happier for having seen you. [Exit Reporter and Jailor.] And so I am to have a visit from a lady. Mrs. Sligo, I know her well by name. It is generous and kind of the good soul to come to me. But I fancy it is not so much the sympathizing woman feeling for one in my desolate position, as the strong minded lady claiming sympathy with the cause. Good soul! she had better leave the cause alone, and claim no sympathy but what her heart teaches. However, I must not be ungrateful for her kindness.
Enter MRS. SLIGO and JAILOR.
Mrs. Sligo. Oh, my poor, dear, persecuted man. I felt all your sufferings, and I thought I could not better aid the noble cause, for which you bleed, than by exerting every influence to get to see you.
Brown. Madame, I am truly grateful for your kindness.
Mrs. Sligo. [Writing his words down.] And you are prepared for the worst? And willing to die a martyr, and all that sort of thing?
Brown. I am willing to follow where the other brave hearts have gone before. I regret the course of events more for others than for myself.
Mrs. Sligo. [Aside.] I always said so. What a man, to be sure! He's as calm and collected as if he was not going to be hung, and-and all that sort of thing.
[ Takes out tablet.
58 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Jailor. Madam I am sorry, but there is another lady. Prepare yourself, sir, to see--
[JULIA rushes on and sinks on her knees at the bedside.
Brown. My child, my child.
[Exit Mrs. Sligo.
Julia. Oh how I have prayed to see you once again.
Brown. Poor child, I thought they would not let you come to me.
Julia. Nor would they until now.
Brown. How ill and pale you look, and yet you found courage to come and comfort the old man in his prison.
Julia. Are you not his father? Could I desert you in your hour of peril, and hope to meet his smile?
Brown. Dear child.
Julia. I have seen them, too. They whom he loved so well. I have stolen to their graves and wet them with my tears. [Giving him a leaf.] I planted this in secret o'er them, and when 'twas done I plucked this tiny spray and brought it to you, that you might see the flower that grows above their grave.
Brown. [Weeping over it.] My sons ! my sons!
SCENE VII. -A Corridor in the farm.
Jeptha. I wish Miss Julia would come back. I was hardhearted as a crab to send her-but I could not see the gal a pinin' away any more 'an she could-and when I told her I knew what would fetch all square with Pap Dearborn, off she goes to the old man for proofs, for it 'pears what I say lint no use unless it's writ down by somebody else. Here comes Little Billy, lookin' for all the world like a young banty with his feathers flyin'.
Enter Little BILLY.
Little B. Are ye here, me darlint?
Jeptha. Your darlin'. I'd like tew know.
Little B. And aint ye me darlint that's to be Mrs. Billy in two blessed weeks? But what's the matter?
Little B. Ye aint offended?
Little B. Ye little divil, ye know ye be! And that [kisses her] was what's the matter.
Jeptha. You'd orter be more Christianly, and so much trouble in the house.
Little B. [Wiping his eyes.] Who's in disthress?
Jeptha. Never you mind, but jest go right to Pap Dearborn and fetch him here. If he asks you what for, tell him there's some things you don't know, and that's one of 'em. The dear knows! this family would all go to tew pot if it warn't for me.
Little B. That gal's as full of since as a herrin's full of bones. Now I'm to fetch Mr. Dearbones. Well old Dearbone, or drape bone, or whatever yer name is, if ye don't come I'll carry ye. [Exit.
AN OLD PLAY ON JOHN BROWN 59
SCENE VIII. Same as Scene I, Act 1.
Enter JEPTHA and RALPH.
Jeptha. Taint no use I tell ye.
Ralph. But I am going away for years, perhaps forever.
Jeptha. Well! taint no use. [Aside.] Maybe yer sine goin' as quick as you think.
Enter ALICE, who starts on seeing RALPH.
Alice. Ralph, you here?
Ralph. Forgive me, Alice. I will no longer pain you by my presence.
Jeptha. [Detaining him.] Lorkee here-just keep the quarrel up a little longer. I can't explain, but something might turn up.
Enter JULIA. ALICE screams and rushes to her.
Alice. Dear Julia, you are ill.
Julia. [Taking paper from her bosom and forcing it into RALPH's hand.] Never mind -- read -- read.
Enter LITTLE BILLY and DEARBORN.
Ralph. [Glancing over paper.] "Alice is not my daughter. Adopted from her birth-proofs to be found-father." Alice-can this be true?
Jeptha. True? of course it's true. I knew it all the time. Three cheers for General Washington!
Julia. [Seeing DEARBORN.] Thank Heaven! I am not too late. You consent?
DEARBORN joins their hands.
Alice. Sister, dear sister.
Julia. Do not grieve for me. I am happy-oh, how happy-for I soon shall be with him. Farewell, my mater. Frederick, my husband. I come, I come.
[Dies. ALICE and RALPH join hands in prayer. DEARBORN turns away. JEPTHA and BILLY weep. Slow music.]
1. Lawrence Republican, January 5, 1860. John Brown was executed December 2, 1859. Dion Boucicault, the Irish-American playwright, was an outstanding figure in the theatrical world; Agnes Robertson was his first wife. Laura Keene was at the height of her popularity as an actress. It was her company, five years later, that was playing at Fords theater, Washington, the night of Lincoln's assassination.
2. Kate Lucy Edwards was born in London, England, November 24, 1834. J. Clarke Swayze was born in Hope, N. J., March 24, 1833. His first venture as a publisher in Griffin, Ga., was Swayze's Southern Railway Guide. This was followed by the weekly, The Bugle Horn of Liberty. The first issue was the last: a band of Morgan's raiders destroyed the plant and Swayze was taken under arrest to Macon, and later to Richmond, where he escaped. He became a captain of scouts in Sherman's army and served in the secret service. When he returned to Griffin after the war he found that his motherless children had been cared for by a loyal Southern family. He reentered the publishing business in Griffin and Macon, continuing until 1873 when he came to Kansas. He published the Topeka Blade until his death there on March 27, 1877.-Typewritten statement, March, 1938, by Oscar K. Swayze of Topeka, son of J. Clarke Swayze and Kate Edwards Swayze.
3. George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, v. VII, p. 230.
4. These four manuscript plays are entitled: "Nigger Sweethearts," "The Play Mania," "The White Wolf or the Sons of Brittany," "The Forger's Daughter."