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Anthology of Louisiana Literature

T. Wharton Collens.
The Martyr Patriots; or, Louisiana in 1769.
An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts.


An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts.



Lafrenière, Villeré, Aubry, Garidel,
Adelaide, Mrs. Villere,
Denoyant, Milhet, Marquis, Carrere,
Surgeon, A Creole Soldier,
A Crowd Of Citizens.

Herald, First Judge, A Spanish Soldier,
A Spaniard, A Scribe, Ruffian, Judges, Sailors, Soldiers.


Scene 1. — A public place (trees on the sides, a church in the background).

[Lafrenière enters, holding an open letter.]

Laf. (refers to his letter).

 ’Tis well — ’tis well — these things will serve the cause

Of Freedom; and though our mother spurns us

From her bosom, we gain our Liberty

By that unnatural deed. My country,

My noble country, yes, thou shalt be free!

Thou ne’er canst brook the shame of slavery;

Thou wilt not tamely thus be bartered off.

What! Sold like cattle? Treated with disdain?

No! Louisiana’s sons can never bear

Such foul disgrace. And when I’ll tell them all,

Of every insult, and the shame which thus

This reckless King would heap upon their heads,

’Twill put a burning fagot to their pride,

’Twill blow their indignation into flame;

And like the fire on our grass-grown plains,

By raging winds devouring driven,

’Twill spread, in blazing waves, e’en to the edge

And utmost limit of the land; and then,

Proud Kings, beware! Lest e’en within the bounds

Of Europe’s slave-trod vales the blaze should catch,

Sweep despots and their thrones away, and like

Unprofitable weeds consume them all.

Ay! And how happy this occurrence!

’Twill aid my own ambitious views; and while

The cause of freedom prospers, so shall I.

For ’tis my aim, in this young colony,

To be the first among the free — to lead

Them on in war, and rule by equal laws

A land of liberty. Oh! could I see

The Independence of my native land,

Myself its Liberator and its Chief —

Not Csesar’s glory nor his power would

One moment be my envy. O lovely,

Glorious picture of futurity

Which now my young imagination draws

In brilliant hues of glittering hope,

Thou dazzlest e’en thy painter!

  But Villeré

Comes not. I must tell him all my plans,

And gain his sanction to them, or I fear

They’ll not succeed. In such respect are held

His silvered head and sage advice, that once

Unto me his adherence gained, most sure

The people’s warm approval I’ll obtain,

And all that hope doth promise soon possess.

Ah! But here comes my Adelaide. O love!

Thou hast a power which we cannot break!

But though thy chains are strong, and bind us tight,

Yet they brace us up, and give us double strength

For action; and the bold hero oft achieves

His noblest deed when ere the doubtful fight

He kneels to thee.

[Enter Adelaide.]

Adelaide. Ah, Lafrenière,

What brings thee out so soon? The god of day

Hath scarcely risen in the east, nor hath

His morning rays as yet dissolved the drops —

The diamond drops, which, shaken from the veil

Of humid night, are sparkling in the rose,

Or on the breast of some blue violet.

Laf. How could I stay at home, my Adelaide,

And, like an owl, hide myself from light,

When, like the early lark, I fain would seek,

Impatient to behold, thy sunny eyes, and bask

Beneath their cheering beams!

Ade. Nay, but the owl

Is Wisdom’s chosen bird. Thou shouldst be wise,

And copy her.

Laf. I would be happy first.

Ade. Smooth flatterer! Enough of honeyed words,

Which sportingly, and with a cruel joy,

Make but a plaything of a woman’s heart.

Tell me, what news from France? Since early dawn

My father seeks thee through the town. ’Tis said

Thou hast late tidings of Lesassier.

Laf. Nay,

Sweet Adelaide disturb not now thy soul

With cares of politics, which ’tis the lot

Of womankind, much happier than our own,

Ne’er to be troubled with.

Ade. Thou wrong’st our sex.

Think ye that women have such hardened souls

As not to feel their country’s sufferings?

True, they mind not (as do some silly men)

On which poor courtier kingly smiles are turned,

Nor do they calculate each changing shade

Of policy of jealous nations ’twixt

Each other, but when a woman sees

That pending dangers, thickening round,

Threaten the land where Heaven casts her lot,

Then is each throb her father — brother — feels

Reëchoed in her breast.

Laf. Well, let us hence

Unto thy father’s dwelling; as we go,

Thy gentle ear shall hear the painful news.

[As Lafrenière and Adelaide go out, Aubry enters.]

Aubry. Ay, there they go, smiling on each other —

She with many looks of tender love,

He with the gaze of conquering passion;

And I am left despised, without a hope

Save that of dire revenge; and that I’ll have,

Cost what it may, ten thousand crimes,

Toil, pain, and years of time. I’ll persevere

Until I tread upon his very neck,

Nor yield, though seas of bitter tears are shed.

I’ll have a sacrifice of human blood

Unto my hate paid up. And am I wrong?

He thwarts me daily at the council board,

Resists the plans I lay to serve and gain

The favor of the Spanish Governor.

His very reputation is my bane —

It points invidiously at my own,

And has more power in this colony

Than I can claim as legal Governor.

Ha! Here cometh one I have enlisted

In my cause, and who doth serve me well.

[Enter Garidel.]

Ah, Garidel, I’m glad we meet to-day!

You find me in a flowing humor for our work.

Hast thou performed the charge I gave thee?

Garidel. Yes —

I put the letter on her toilet table.

Aub. Well, what result?

Gar. None — she has not seen it.

But prithee, Master Aubry, why not use

Some means more certain in effect to part

These foolish lovers? These letters, well wrought

And plausible, ’tis true, can they reduce

Love’s hottest flame? They may cause some pouting;

But oaths and tears soon quell the anger raised

By cloaked accusers ’gainst the one we love.

Aub. ’Tis well to try this method first; and then,

If not successful, I have other plans.

Gar. And they are?

Aub. Listen, Garidel. Art thou

An honest fellow, and can I be sure

That if I give thee all my confidence,

Thou’lt not deceive me?

Gar. What, Master Aubry,

And do you ask me that? But yesterday

We did acknowledge to each other

That nature round our hearts had wound a tie

Of sympathy. Have you not often said,

That, in the darkness of my brow, there was

A something most congenial to thyself?

Aub. But answer, wilt thou aid me against Villeré,

And Villeré’s house to all extremity?

Gar. Pshaw!

Do not anger me. Have I not advised

The use of stronger measures ’gainst them? True,

Villeré has been a father to me.

He found me, when an infant, in a ditch,

Thrown there by an inhuman mother.

He picked me up, and had me nursed with care,

And, cheated by the fairness of my skin,

He thought me one of Europe’s sickly race,

And did adopt me as his son, and strove

To teach me science and morality.

But now I am among his servants classed;

For soon as I grew up my figure changed;

And this black hair, and eye, and bronzèd face

Proclaimed me one of that dread tribe of men

Whose birthplace is the undivided wild,

Whose law is in the power of their arms,

Whose hate is trusted to a poisoned knife,

Whose thirst is for the white man’s blood,

And whose ambition is to sweep away

Those pale usurpers of this land

Who seek to pen the freeborn Indian up

And set a bound’ry to his roving steps.

Listen, Aubry! I feel as if the red man’s God

Had cast my lot amidst thy race to be

An agent of our nation’s vengeance.

Think ye I’ll shrink from such a sacred task?

Though Villeré still should call me his own son,

I would begin with him. I’ll end, perhaps,

With you.

Aub. With me!

Gar. Nay, speak not of yourself,

But parley to your purposes. You have

My service now; use it while you may.

Aub. (aside). A dreadful fellow this; but I must bend

Awhile unto his temper.

(To Garidel.) Well, I see

Thou art the man I sought for, Garidel.

I’ll trust thee to the whole. Listen! If I fail

To gain my end by superstition’s aid;

If calumny, with her venom, don’t succeed

In turning their sweet loves into bitter

Jealousy — why, Garidel, I’ll then attack

That very beauty which enslaves my heart

And causes all my pain; ay, and to which

Lafrenière kneels. I swear by Heaven

I’ll destroy it, and what I could not gain

No other man shall feast upon. Look here!

This vial holds a subtle poison

Which, rubbed against the rose and lily

Of her face, will raise it full of blots

And biles, ulcers and putrid sores make her

Disgusting to every one around her,

And even to herself. Tell me; think ye

He’ll love her then?

Gar. (taking the vial). Trust it to my hands.

I will apply it. But is it’s venom sure?

Say, from what propitious fiend of hell

Did you the drug procure?

Aub. From that old witch,

That bride of Lucifer, the fortune-teller

Who lives midst the miasmas of the swamp.

Do you not know her?

Gar. No; but tell me

How to find her; for, if she sells such drugs

As this, her traffic might be profited

By my acquaintance.

Aub. Near the rotting trunk

Of that dead cypress tree which stands,

Like a giant skeleton, behind the common

Burial ground, without the city,

Her hut she has erected. It seems a heap

Of half-burned logs, and boards, and earth

Thrown there by accident. She chose the spot

For it is solitary, and near the fens

Where toads, and snakes, and poisonous weeds

Are trod upon at every step. ’Tis near

The graves and crumbling tombs from whence she gets

Most fit ingredients for the hellish spells

She deals in. The day she gave me that,

I found her in her low and dingy cabin

Couched on the humid earth — watching,

With a curious care, some working spell

Which crackled ’midst the smoking embers.

A reddened light fell o’er the African;

Her twisted hair, white as a maiden’s shroud,

Contrasted with her ebony skin; and her limbs,

Shrivelled by age, were but half covered ’neath

Some filthy, partly-colored rags.

A laugh, which sounded like a tiger’s growl;

A smile, as when he shows his bloody teeth —

Her heavy lips relaxed, while, searching mine,

She raised her serpent eyes. I tremble

Even now.

Gar. And I rejoice.

Aub. By Heaven!

How can I reward thee?

Gar. Teach me more crimes —

They give me joy enough! Continue on;

Detail your full intention unto me.

What would you do ’gainst Villeré, and ’gainst young

Lafrenière? I pant to deal with men.

Aub. (taking a dagger from his bosom). Here is a dagger I would trust with thee;

Its point is more envenomed than the bite

Of any serpent in thy native woods.

If thou couldst only touch them with its point —

They die, and I am happy.

Gar. (takes the dagger). I take it,

And will do the deed; and though, with prudence,

You have steeped the dagger’s point in poison,

Yet the wise precaution shall be useless;

For, when I strike the oppressors of my race,

The blow shall reach their hearts.

Aub. Hush! be carefull!

Villeré approaches.

[Enter Villeré.]

  Ah! Sir Villeré,

We meet in proper time. This way I came

To give you notice, that, at twelve to-day,

The council meets; and you, of course, must come:

For your opinions, ever wise, will aid us much

In acting on the matters strange we must

Discuss to-day,

Vil. Whatever wisdom, sir,

Heaven may have endowed me with

Is at the service of the colony.

But tell me, sir, what strange occurrence this,

Which is so greatly to engage our minds?

Aub. Excuse me, sir; this public place ill suits

The tale. Already have seditious men

Summoned the crowd to meet them here, and soon

The hour fixed will strike. Adieu, sir;

We shall expect you.

[Exit Aubry and Garidel severally]

Vil. Strange this,

The people and the council both —

[Enter Lafrenière.]

Laf. Father,

For thus I love to call thee —

Vil. Lafrenière,

What stir is this, my son? Why is this

Meeting of the people called?

Laf. Ah, Villeré,

I have got such news ’twill turn your blood

To fire. What think ye — France — France has spurned us,

She has disowned us! We have lost the name —

The glorious name of Frenchmen.

Vil. What!

Has the King refused our prayer?

Laf. Ay, insists

That he will sell us like a gang of slaves,

And give us the treacherous Spaniard

For a master.

Vil. Can it be so? O France!

How couldst thou treat thy children thus? But say,

Lafrenière, is there no hope remaining?

Laf. None but in ourselves.

Vil. Speak, what can we do?

Laf. Have we not freeborn souls, stout hearts,

And sinewy arms?

Vil. We have; what then?

Laf. What! dost thou ask it? Can we stand thus,

With folded arms, and with our swords still sheathed,

And see our country trampled in disgrace —

Sold to a Spanish tyrant, be made

Spanish slaves — and not a single effort make

To gain our liberty?

Vil. Liberty?

Laf. Ay, Liberty!

The word sounds strangely in your ear; but soon

Will come a day, when, after father, mother, God,

That word will be the first one taught

To prattling babes; and even now

I’d have it make each brave Louisianian

Thrill with a godlike sentiment,

And like the electric shock

Strike to his ardent soul, and wake him up

To deeds of honor and renown.

Vil. But do I understand thee well?

Ha! hast thou pleased thy fancy with a dream

Of Greek republics, or of a Roman commonwealth?

Laf. Then must slavery be our choice.

"Would ye have us bear the yoke of Spain, and

Call her tyrant our king and master, and

Her treacherous sons our countrymen?

Vil. Ah, much rather would I die than bear

Such shame.

Laf. And why not rather then be free?

There is no middle stand between two.

Ungrateful France has bartered us away;

We should from her ask help no more; but now

Must pass from one proud master to another,

Or rise at once like men, and boldly strike

For freedom.

Vil. I fear, my son, that thou art right.

But be exact. What are thy plans?

Laf. Already

Have I sent Garidel around, to call

Together our most worthy citizens.

I would have them, now, disclaim all foreign

Power, govern themselves; and take up arms

Should France or Spain invade the land.

Vil. But stay,

Lafrenière, dost thou not dread a failure?

Laf. I dread dishonor more.

Vil. We are few, and all


Laf. Our cause is just. That — and

An able leader — will insure us victory.

Vil. But France and Spain are powerful; they’ll pour

Upon us armies, fleets. Could we resist

Such mighty strength as theirs?

Laf. Well, should we fail,

"What then? We will have done our duty;

But should we yield without a struggle,

Not only chains we’ll bear, but fame will brand us —


Vil. Thou hast gained me; and now with thee

This compact do I make to fight, and die

Or triumph by thy side.

Laf. Come, let us haste

And make some preparation for the meeting.

[Exit Lafrenière and Villeré.]

[Enter Denoyant, Milhet, Marquis, and Carrere.]

Denoy. ’Tis my opinion that our deputation

Will meet with full success. Louis can never

Thus abandon his faithful subjects,

And his richest province in the western world.

Car. Well, I confess I have strong doubts;

’Tis probable, I think, that all our hopes

Will be deceived, and that the Spaniard

Will reign in Louisiana yet.

Denoy. Never!

Were I but sure that such a day would come,

I’d quit my native land, home, and possessions

All and hie me to some distant shore,

Where I’d not see nor even hear it told.

Milh. For me, far rather would I drain this heart

Of all the blood that rushes to it now,

Than see my country for one moment suffer

Such foul disgrace.

Marq. And I reecho that,

If e’er a Spanish tyrant treads on me,

’Twill be upon a lifeless corpse.

Car. Well, well! That

Such sentiments are highly noble

I don’t deny. But are they not in vain?

Eesistance will serve us nothing; we must

Be conquered. Should we take up arms,

Our stubbornness will but increase

The tyrant’s rancor.

[During the dialogue Crowds of Citizens enter from every side.]

Marq. Here comes Lafrenière.

[Enter Lafrenière and Villeré.]

(Voices.) What news? what news?

Laf. Fellow-citizens, most painful tidings

Do I bring you. All, all our hopes are crushed.

A letter from our friend Lesassier,

Chief of the deputation we have sent

To lay our griefs before the King, and beg

The revocation of the shameful treaty

Of which we have such reason to complain,

Informs me he could not even reach

The royal presence — that the ministers

Kefuse to listen to our just demands,

And that we, at our gates, may soon expect

A Spanish army.

(Voices.) Shame! What degradation!

Laf. My friends, there is not one of you, I hope,

Whose soul feels not its indignation rise,

And all its anger conflagrated burn,

To hear of the high contempt with which

Licentious Louis treats our prayer. Countrymen,

Shall our native land, our honors and our lives,

Be humbled to strange laws laws

Made by tyrants and by slaves enforced?

(Voices.) No, never.

Denoy. What can we do?

Laf. I’d have ye

Take up arms — yes, die or triumph —

And never yield submission to the yoke.

When ills have reached their last extremity,

Despair must give the remedy that cures

Their strong intensity.

Car. Can we resist

Our pending fate? Can we contend ’gainst Spain’s

Unnumbered hordes?

Laf. Why ask ye not if hearts

We have, of temper bold and brave, and souls

Which labor to be free? Why count ye numbers?

Say, do ye fear to die, or care ye if

Your death doth come from one or from

Ten thousand hands?

Vil. I think Lafrenière right.

Our numbers are but few, but still we may,

By courage and determination, intimidate

Spain’s mercenary hordes and free our shores

From vile pollution.

Marq. My life, my fortune,

Freely would I give, to save my country

From this bondage.

Denoy. And I!

Milh. And I!

Car. And I!

Laf. My countrymen! I knew ye could not brook

This much-detested change. Soon would our

Patriot breasts be strangers in the land

Where once they breathed their natal air,

If we should try to join the variance wide

Which parts us from the arrogant Spaniard.

His morals, manners, character, all vary

From our own. Frenchmen will now disown us;

Spaniards we can never be, nor Englishmen;

But shall we be without a name? Of what

Nation will ye call yourselves? Old Europe

Has not a name to fit ye. Then let our

Country be Louisiana! Let’s be Americans!

Citizens. Yes, yes! Americans!

Laf. Ay, that’s a name

That will be ours; that none can take away.

Already has the cry of liberty

Resounded in the North. The colonies

Of Britain, the thirteen provinces, have risen

’Gainst a despot’s tyranny; already

Has their blood flowed in the sacred cause.

Let’s mix our blood with theirs,

And doubtless victory will coronate

The sacred pact. The Indian will help us;

For he has heard, e’en in the trackless woods,

Of mines, where Indians find a living tomb;

Of all the Inquisition’s horrors dark;

Of blood-stained Gothic institutions, and

Of feudal slavery. Let us resist, I say!

Remember well, that Fortune’s favored ones

Are noble, daring in audacious bravery.

Citizens. We’ll not submit! No, never! never!

[Enter Garidel.]

Gar. The Spaniards have reached our shores! A fleet

Bearing in it full five thousand men sails

Swiftly up the river.

Laf. Now! now,

My countrymen! now is the time to prove

Our firm resolve! Let us haste and arm, and

Drive them back as we did the ignoble

Don Ulloa! Soon must we give our liberty

Its baptism of blood! Prepare to die or be

Triumphant! Ay, let’s take a sacred oath —

A solemn pledge, of victory or death!

Swear, countrymen! to die or to be free!

Citizens (simultaneously stretching out their right hands). We swear!


Scene 1. — The Council Chamber. Aubry, Villeré, Milhet, Denoyant, Marquis, Carrere, and other members of the council round a table.

Aub. Gentlemen, matter of great consequence

Unites us here to-day in grave debate.

Deliberate measures must we take, and

Prudence more than anything to-day should guide

And dictate all our actions. No reckless

Eesolutions, or undertaking rash,

By us adopted, should this fair province,

And ourselves, in risks and danger plunge.

You have already been informed that this

Fair colony has, by our gracious King,

Louis the beloved, been surrendered

Unto his Majesty the sovereign Charles

Of Spain. I need not tell you of the greatness,

The clemency and wisdom, of this prince.

Obedience to him is our duty.

Long have I waited with impatience,

That o’er us should begin his rule. At last

My longing wishes are all satisfied.

[Enter Lafrenière, who remains in front.]

O’Reilly, with full powers from his King,

Ascends the river and will soon be here.

’Tis true, that moved by futile hope, and strong

Attachment for the mother country,

Our citizens did drive good Don Ulloa

From their native shore; but of this wrong deed

They have, I hope, repented. Ambitious

Factions and discontented men, I know,

Have, by their cunning and exciting speeches,

Stirred their noble spirits to rebellion;

But quick submission will, I hope, soon show

That ’tis but a moment’s aberration

Which leads them thus, with folly, to disown

The will and power of their rightful king.

Laf. (aside). Base hypocrite! lying traitor!

Vil. Indeed!

Your Excellence will pardon me, if my

Opinion differs from your own. I think

Our citizens are not thus unsteady;

Nor are they guided by a blind caprice.

What they have done, was calmly done, and not

In headlong haste. They have resolved to rise,

And desperate resistance to oppose

To the invading horde; and their honor

They have pledged, at price of blood, to save

Their country from oppression.

Laf. (aside). Ay, tremble,

Ye traitors, for they’ll keep that sacred oath.

Aub. Much does it hurt me to confess the great

Displeasure I do feel, Sir Villeré, now

To find that you, whose discreet judgments have

So often shed benignant influence o’er

This council board, should thus have joined the voice,

The raging of the factious few, whose acts,

Thoughtless and criminal, ere long might bring

An evil scourge upon Louisiana,

And on themselves complete destruction.

Laf. (aside). God!

Restrain me, or I’ll kill the wretch!

Aub. Remember,

Villeré, that when the Mississippi’s wave,

With mighty force, and waters running high,

Threatens to crumble down our feeble dykes,

The prudent planter seeks to prop the banks

Or mend the widening breach. I fondly thought

That you, in this event, would seek to set

The barrier of your wisdom up against

The unruly current of this folly —

This rash presumption which menaces now

To sweep you with it, and destroy you.

Laf. (aside). Oh, the bribed scoundrel!

Vil. Aubry, I care not

How soon this white head of mine is felled; still

Persist I in my first opinion. Wisdom,

You say, has until now her breath infused

Into my words; she has not quit my side.

No factious counsel have I given; but

The people — the whole people — have arisen,

And Spain’s mercenaries shall dye their swords

In Creole blood, and tread upon an host

Of slain, before they gain the city’s walls.

Denoy. Ay, Aubry; and I have joined them too, and

Have pledged my honor also with the rest;

And to redeem the promise I have made,

My sword must triumph in the battle, or

My life be paid a tribute to the grave.

Milh. And mine!

Marq. (to Aubry). Sir, we’ll never yield!

Denoy. No, never.

Aub. Gentlemen! This is rebellion — treason!

France has made a formal resignation —

Car. I do deny the right —

Denoy. We all deny it.

Aub. The people here cannot assume a voice.

Laf. (to Aubry). Thou liest, dog! The people will assume

That right —

Milh. Yes, and they’ll maintain it too!

Laf. Ah! hear you that, your Excellence? Thought ye

These men were bought by dirty Spanish gold?

You’ve called them traitors — you are the traitor I

Do you not hold a correspondence close

With the governor of Havana, say?

And sent you not unto the court of Spain

The names of those who led the noble band

Which drove proud Don Ulloa from our shore?

I tell you, Aubry, you are the traitor.

Aub. Gentlemen, do you suffer this?

Laf. Suffer!

Do you appeal to them? Go, call your friends,

The treacherous Spaniards.

Aub. I’ll call my guard.

I’ll have you all arrested. (The members rise and draw.)

Laf. What! — guard! arrest!

I do defy you to attempt it. Ha!

Pronounce one word, and round us I will bring

The assembled city, all up in arms,

To tear thy worthless soldiery to pieces,

And destroy thee with them.

Aub. (softening). Excuse me, sirs,

But ’twas my duty which commanded me.

I meant no insult, nor was I in earnest —

Laf. (to Aubry). Silence!

(To the members?) Gentlemen! The people send me to you.

My message is, that they have made me chief,

And all authority have placed in me,

Until invaders shall no more pollute

The air we breathe. This council is dissolved;

And you, my friends, it is expected, will

Unite your strength with ours, to repel

The horde of bandits who, advancing fast,

Approach with angry cries our walls.

Vil. Whate’er

Our fellow-citizens ordain, we’ll do.

Denoy. And we are happy, Lafrenière, that you

Have been selected to command.

Milh. Success

Is thus insured.

Marq. And confidence inspired.

Aub. I do protest against this whole proceeding.

It is illegal.

Laf. (to Aubry). Silence, I tell thee, thou perfidious


(To the members.) My friends, it is my ardent wish

That your great trust in me should be maintained.

All my best energies I’ll use to gain

The franchise we aspire to. The aid

Of your advice, good gentlemen, will be

Of great assistance to me, and I hope

That ’twill be given with profusion. Come,

Let us haste; our forces must be formed.

And we must march to-night.

[Exeunt Lafrenière, Villeré, and members.]

Aub. A coward! yes,

I know I am a coward; but, rash youth,

With all thy bravery, I’ll overcome thee.

Ay! trust thee to honor, strength, and courage.

Cunning will overset thee with a straw.

Aubry will teach thee lessons so severe

They’ll make you feel as a well-punished child

Scorching ’neath his tutor’s whip. I’ll teach him,

Young, presuming dog! to know his fellow-men —

Their falsehood, and the little trust to place

In all their oaths and protestations loud.

To-morrow’s dawn shall ope to disappoint

His proud ambition and his brilliant plans.

Scene 2. — Adelaide’s apartment.

[Enter Garidel.]

Gar. ’Tis now my glowing Indian blood doth flow

With all its vigor through my beating veins.

How high it leaps at thoughts of gratified

Revenge! (Holds up the vial of poison.) All hail, thou elixir of


Poison to her, and balm to me for every wound

Inflicted by her father. Now’s the time —

No one observes me — none will dare suspect.

  (Takes up a vial from the toilet table.)

This is her favorite essence; ’tis the

Sweet cologne of wide reputed virtue —

Its purity unsullied as descending dew,

Its odor fragrant as a garden’s breath,

Its healing power most miraculous.

  (Pours the vial of poison into it.)

Neither its odor nor its color change.

Thou God! it will succeed! Ha! how she’ll look! —

Her beauty gone and horror in its place!

I see her raving at its loss; and he,

Distracted by the dreadful blow, shall writhe

Beneath the vengeful stroke. Her father, too! —

Ha! how he will feel it, when this goddess —

This queen of beauty he so dotes upon,

Will fall upon his neck all withered o’er

By sullying disease! Ha! and perhaps

He’ll shrink away, and dread to kiss that cheek

On which so often he has pressed the lip —

The fervent lip, of warm parental love.

Ah! and her mother — what will she do? Oh,

She will die! For ’tis beyond conception

That she should bear the dreadful agony

That this will bring upon her. They come —

I must not here be seen. O happy hour!

Brim full of secret pleasure.

[Exit Garidel.]

[Enter Adelaide and Mrs. Villeré.]

Mrs. Vil. My Adelaide,

Thy choice, indeed, doth satisfaction give

To thy fond mother. Of all the noble

Youths who crowd to catch one softened ray

From those bright eyes of thine, more worthy none

Than young Lafrenière is to be thy lord;

His form is cast in manly beauty’s mould,

His heart is virtue’s richest, purest gem,

His mind a palace genius lighteth up.

Ade. Ah, mother, thou dost almost flatter him.

Mrs. Vil. Faultless, I do not say he is.

Ade. Some faults

He has; but, like clouds around the sun,

They’re gilded over by the shining rays

Cast from the brightness of his qualities,

And only serve to give a high relief

To all the splendor of his virtue.

Mrs. Vil. Say,

Think ye not he is presumptuous?

Ade. No, no.

Presumption is, I think, the distance ’tween

What men themselves believe to be the worth,

The virtue, talent, power, they possess,

And what their real value is. Pray, then,

To what has young Lafrenière yet pretended

In which he overprized himself?

Mrs. Vil. Thou dost

Defend him well, and with an eloquence

Near equal to his own.

Ade. My heart doth prompt it.

(Trumpets, drums, and shouts are heard without, distantly.)

Mrs. Vil. Hark to these sounds!

Ade. (opening a window). See, mother, ’tis the proud

Array of war; and, while we talk of love,

Our youths abandon now their chosen fair,

And court the favor of less tender dames:

Glory and carnage, and bright liberty,

Are now the mistresses to whom they bow,

And deck their forms in warlike garb to woo.

Think, mother, that our verdant fields will soon

In gory streams be soaked; and that many friends

We love, ’neath hostile swords may sink. Ah! think,

That my father, too, may fall amidst the fight,

Pouring his life-blood on his native soil —

Dying — all gashed and pierced and trampled o’er

By charging horses and the reckless feet

Of rushing thousands. (The noises are repeated.)

Mrs. Vil. Ah! my Adelaide,

Thou bringest on me thoughts which shake my soul

E’en to its inmost dwelling.

[Enter Villeré.]

Ade. Father!

Mrs. Vil. Husband!

Vil. My wife — my child!

Mrs. Vil. Villeré,

I read my fate already in thine eye.

Thou art called to risk thy life, so precious

To our hearts, in battle’s dreadful fury.

And must we now, when years of quiet and

Content have blessed our union, part with fear

Of never meeting more?

Vil. Not so, my spouse.

Let not thus fear victorious hold the sway

Of thy true heart. Let rather pleasing hopes

Dispel thy cloudy bodings of the future.

No share to me is granted in the fight

Which is to fix my country’s destiny;

And, though I begged a station to obtain

In its defenders’ ranks, my prayer was vain.

Lafrenière, whom the people have appointed

Leader, sends me amongst the settlements

To call in all Louisiana’s force,

And gain the succor of our red allies.

From thence, in haste, I’ll wend my lengthened way

To ask assistance of that noble race

Who dwell along Atlantic’s western shore,

And who are now, in proud array, opposed

To proud Britannia’s tyranny.

Mrs. Vil. Thanks to Lafrenière for this happy care.

Much will I try, the pleasure now he gives

This sorrowing breast, in double fold to pay.

Ade. But, father, dost thou leave us e’en to-day?

Vil. Yes, all is ready, and I go e’en now;

My steed awaits me at the gate.

Mrs. Vil. My love,

Why haste you thus? Oh, wait until the morn!

Stay with us yet this day.

Vil. Each minute counts.

Come, then, embrace thy husband e’er he goes. (They embrace.)

My country needs the promptest services,

And I must fly upon the wings of haste.

My daughter, go, tell Garidel prepare

To start upon this voyage with me.

[Exit Adelaide.]

Come, my love, be not depressed. I’ll send thee news

Of all that doth befall me as I go.

Mrs. Vil. And must it then be so? But, Villeré, say,

Wilt thou be absent long?

Vil. But six short weeks

Will suffice for my duty. I’ll then return;

And Heaven grant I find my country free,

The Spaniards beaten, and untroubled peace

Around our happy fireside! And then,

My wife, the long retarded union of

Our child with Lafrenière once solemnized,

In tranquil solitude we’ll pass the days

Of our last years.

[Reënter Adelaide.]

Ade. Father, thy bidding’s done; Garidel is ready.

Vil. I thank thee, child;

But come before thy father goes, and take his blessing.

(He kisses her forehead, and she kneels.)

My daughter, Heaven bless thee,

Ward off all dangers from this lovely head,

Keep thy fragile frame from pain or sickness,

Preserve thee to console my coming age,

And make thee thy Lafrenière’s worthy bride. (She rises.)

Remember oft thy father; in thy prayers,

Each eve and morn, send up to God’s high throne

An earnest supplication for success

To all his labor, and his safe return.

Ade. Oh! could I forget that duty, father?

Oh, may my faint petition reach the ear

Of Him who holds our fate within His hand!

He’ll not refuse what asks a guileless heart:

He’ll shield thee, father, and will keep thee for us.

Mrs. Vil. Nay, go not yet.

Vil. Indeed, I must depart.

My country calls. Adieu! (They embrace and part.)

Ade. Adieu!

Mrs. Vil. Adieu!

[Exit Villeré.]

Ade. O mother, I am faint! This unforewarned

Departure of my father striketh hard

Upon my heart, and makes me feel quite sick.

Mrs. Vil. (wetting her kerchief from the vial). Here, my

daughter, here; respire this, my love,

And pour it o’er thy cheeks, and neck, and temples;

’Twill spur the blood that stoppeth in thy veins.

[As Mrs. Villeré gives the kerchief and vial to her daughter, Garidel enters.]

Gar. (aside). Ha!

(To Mrs. Villeré.)

  Dear madam, I come to bid adieu

To you and kind Miss Adelaide.

Mrs. Vil. Thank thee,

Garidel, for this attention. Good-by.

I wish thee a pleasant voyage, and hope

That nought but good will come across thy path.

Gar. Thank thee, good lady; but is Miss Adelaide

Unwell? — she looks quite pale.

Ade. A little faint —

’Tis nothing — this will drive it soon away.

But, Garidel, take good care of father —

Let nothing do him harm.

Gar. Long as this arm

Can move, it shall be lifted to protect

My benefactor. Adieu! (Garidel shakes the hands of both.)

[Exit Garidel.]

Mrs. Vil. Indeed,

Garidel is well worthy of the care

That on him Villeré has bestowed; but say,

My daughter, art thou still unwell?

Ade. ”Tis past —

I’m quite recovered.

Mrs. Vil. Well, then, I leave thee;

I have some duties to attend to. (They kiss.)

[Exit Mrs. Villeré.]

Ade. Ah!

How full of pain this hour is, and how

My feeble heart doth throb with suffering!

(Sees a letter on the toilet.)

Ah, a letter! ’Tis addressed to me. What can

It be? (Opens it and reads.) “Adelaide, thy love’s bestowed

On one unworthy; and the hot passion

He pretends, a false heart disguises.

His high ambition and his secret plans

Force him to seek an union which will gain

A strong support to all his wild designs.

And, lady, though he feels no spark of love,

Yet still he woos thee for thy name, and will

Perhaps e’en yet sufficient power have

To make thee spurn the warning of a friend.”

Ah! can this be true, or is it calumny?

O Lafrenière, couldst thou deceive me thus?

Oh, double blow of pitiless misfortune!

[Enter Lafrenière.]

Laf. Ah, Adelaide! thou seem’st unwell, my love.

Say, what weighs thee down so heavily?

What! is’t on me thy angry frowns are bent?

What have I done to merit such reception?

Ade. Leave me this instant, sir!

Laf. Nay? say not so.

Thou art not serious, Adelaide. Ah,

That blush which doth suffuse thy lovely cheek

Methinks doth tell another tale!

Ade. Blush, sir!

The red that rose upon my brow doth mark

My great displeasure at the sight of thee.

Laf. Heaven! what crime have I committed?

Ade. Say,

Art thou not false, and is not Ambition

The only dame whose favors thou dost court

When thou dost kneel to me?

Laf. ’Tis true I am

Ambitious; but, my Adelaide, I swear

Thou’rt joined with my ambition’s brightest dream;

And laurels, riches, fame, I’d cast away

As childish baubles, nor would I aspire

To aught above the name of honest man,

Did I not think to share these things with thee.

Ade. Most bravely, frankly, said; and thou too canst

Thine honor and thy truth both lay aside

With her whose weakness ye’d beguile. Sir,

I have friends who o’er my welfare watch,

And whose kind care detected have thy plans —

Thy wily, base, ungenerous plots.

Laf. (kneeling). Upon my knees I pray thee, Adelaide,

Tell me what whim is this. What black falsehood

Hast thou heard which makes thee doubt, what ne’er

Until to-day hath been impeached by woman or

By man — Lafrenière’s honor?

Ade. Ay, ’tis thus

With all your sex: ye kneel and cringe;

With cheating words, and oaths, and promises,

And whining prayers, ye do triumph o’er

Our unsuspecting hearts; and when we own

Your power, and our love — to masters change;

Poor feeble woman’s duty then becomes

To watch each caprice of a tyrant’s will —

Live in his smile and wither ’neath his frown.

Laf. (who has risen). Lady, I’ve done. Thou’lt hear from me no more

Words prompted by my passion’s ardor. Yet

Do not think the fire that burns within

This breast will cease to burn. Though smothered,

’Twill not die, and, thus confined, ’twill torture

None but me. My countrymen await me.

Oh, may I lead them unto victory,

And may I meet with death!

[Exit Lafrenière.]

Ade. What have I done?

Why did I not show him this? — Laf — Ah, no!

I must not call him back; he would exult

As in a victory. Proud of the strong

Seductions of his mien and eloquence,

He’d look upon me as a conquered slave.

No, no: I’m full of love, yet I’m as proud

As he. Ah, my mother! To thee I’ll haste

For consolation to my stricken breast. (Exit)

Scene 3. — A Wood (Night).

[Enter Aubry, accompanied by Ruffians.]

Aub. Yes; this is the place fixed by Garidel —

His note describes it well. Go ye and hide

Behind these trees; and, when I the signal give,

Hush on Sir Villeré — ye know him all. Mind,

Shed not one drop of blood, or ye shall not

Be paid a single sou. Remember well,

That he that’s with him is a friend. Go.

[Exit Ruffians]


Villeré, I think I’ll make thee much repent

This morning’s insult, thrown with heedless hand

Into my face. Villeré my prisoner,

My favor with the Spanish chief is doubly

Sure; and thus both interest and my hate

I serve at once; and yet I will myself

Be safe, nor stand the danger of a blow.

’Tis thus with prudence men should ever act,

Nor rashly jeopardize their own lives

In open combats of uncertain end.

It is not all to serve the spite one feels,

But most maturely should we weigh results.

None would I hurt who useful to me are,

Though I should hate them with a poisoned hate.

But if I loved a man — though that can’t be —

I’d have him murdered if he barred my plans.

These fights, done in the world’s wide eye, create

To one an host of angry enemies;

But ’tis the midnight blow, the killing draught,

Which yield revenge while safety is not risked;

And on to-morrow I can give this hand

Into the brother of the man it kills


Gar. (outside). ’Tis a fit place. Good Sir Villeré,

Let us here dismount and seek the path: on foot

We’ll find it easier. Our steeds are tired —

Let’s give them rest a while.

Aub. Ah, here they come,

I must conceal myself; I’ll not approach

Until he’s well secured and bound.

[Exit Aubry.]

[Enter Garidel and Villeré.]

Vil. Well, Garidel,

With thy fancy for a shorter path,

We’re lost, and now must pass the dreary night

In this cold morass.

Gar. I promise it, good sir,

That in a healthy bed you’ll sleep this night,

And ’neath a shelter most secure. (Thunder.)

Vil. Hear that!

And we shall have a storm to make the night

Most comfortably romantic. (Lightning and thunder.)

Gar. Indeed,

Sir Villeré, walk with me but some few steps:

Surely I’ll meet with friends.

[Enter Ruffians slowly creeping behind.]

Vil. Pshaw! seest thou not

That we are in the very swamp itself?

This delay distracts me. Oh, my country!

May Heaven shield thee till I send thee help.

I fear the battle, on which turns thy fate,

Will be decided e’er I send thee succor;

And that thy little band will be o’erwhelmed.

Gar. Come. This swampy air doth chill your blood:

Vil. (turning, sees the Ruffians and draws). Ah, see,

Garidel! through the darkness I discover

Some human figures lurking.

Gar. Ah! doubtless

They are black, runaways! Give me your sword,

For I am young and strong; take these instead.

(They exchange arms. Villeré gives Garidel his sword, who returns a brace of pistols. The Ruffians rush on Villeré, who attempts to fire, but the pistols snap. The Ruffians seize him.

Vil. Treachery! Wretches! slaves! unhand me!

(The curtain falls.)

Scene 1. — The interior of Lafrenière’s tent.

[Enter Lafrenière.]

Laf. I like the plan; it will, I think, secure

A glorious victory. On one side

The deep, broad, rapid Mississippi rolls;

And, on the other, impenetrable swamps

Prevent approaches of the foe. Our front

Protected by a breastwork and a fosse,

We can defy the well-drilled troops of Spain,

Bring all our force to bear, and though unused

To battle (yet, in savage forests trained

To use, with fatal aim, the carabine),

Americana’ s brave and hardy sons

Will strew the field with dead, make the Spaniard

Shrink away with dread, and victory insure.

Yes, I like the plan; it answers well;

It is the only one by which the rising

City of my birth, Louisiana’s pride,

Can be defended ’gainst invading hordes

Who seek for rapine and for slaughter.

[Enter Aubry.]

Aubry! What wouldst coward, traitor, here?

Hast thou repented hast thou brave become,

And wouldst thou aid thy country in the fight?

Or dost thou come, a cunning spy, to watch

Our movements, and give the Spaniards notice?

Aub. Lafrenière, I am no traitor. I ne’er

Acknowledged thy authority, nor that

Of those who rashly made you chief: I owe

Allegiance to the Spanish king; and I

Do show obedience to the plain command

Of Louis, by whose decree and gracious will

I held the rule o’er this fair colony.

I have protested, but in vain ’twas done,

’Gainst thine and the people’s usurpation

Of the power which belonged to me. But since

My proclamation is disdained,

I ask thee — chief of this rebel army —

Laf. (offers to strike him). Rebel! vile traitor, had I not pity

On thy helplessness, I’d shake thy limbs apart

For this insulting insolence.

Aub. Nay, sir,

Excuse my words; no insult did I mean,

And hope it is not taken so. The words

Came of themselves upon my lip: I called

Them not with wish of giving you offence;

But rebels, fear I, ye will still be named,

Unless victorious in the coming fight —

(Lafrenière offers to draw.)

Nay, sir — I beg — I would not anger you —

There’s no insult meant.

Laf. Speak! What wouldst thou?

Aub. I pray that, since I owe you no submission,

Since enrolment with you is but voluntary,

Since ’tis the duty of the rank I hold,

Since my proclamation has been vain,

That you would let me, at this hour, repair

Unto the Spanish camp, and there remain,

And all the rights of war partake as do

The other subjects of the Iberian king.

Laf. Pshaw! Think’ st thou that we do want thee ’mongst us?

Go, sir! The service thou canst render Spain

Will do us little injury. Go, sir!

And bow thy servile head unto the slave

Of Europe’s vilest despot. Go, sir!

We want not cowards, traitors, ’mongst us;

We’ll dread thee less when in the Spanish camp.

Aub. I thank you, sir — I go; but —

Laf. Mind thee, sir,

Thou’lt run much risk to cross this camp; for if

One of the citizens discover thee,

Thou’lt soon be torn into a thousand parts.

Aub. I know that; for I heard them cursing me,

As I passed through them to you. I dread not

Such detection; this cloak doth hide me well.

But can I pass the outposts?

Laf. Thou couldst not,

Unless thou hadst the word. But that would make

Thee tremble, but to hear it spoken out;

’T would choke thy utterance to speak the word;

’Twas made for braves and freemen to pronounce.

Without there! citizen!

[Enter Soldier.]

Conduct this man beyond the outposts, and leave him free.

[Exit Soldier and Aubry, who bows to Lafrenière as he goes out.]

O man! thou art a creature strange indeed!

Who can explain the workings of thy heart?

Aubry is insolent, yet cowardly —

A traitor, who killeth while caressing you;

And yet how many other men are mild,

Yet brave and true, who scorn a crime!

  "Tis strange

Some men have virtue, others vice; and while

Each beast has some peculiar character,

Man cannot say that he is so or so.

The tiger is bloody, false, and cowardly;

The lion is bold and generous; but men

Have souls of various makes, so many

That they not even know themselves.

  But Villeré

I get no news of him; what can it mean?

’Tis now a week since I have sent him hence,

And yet he does not send intelligence;

No succors do arrive. Why lags he thus 2

Are the settlements indisposed to join?

Is he neglectful? No! That cannot be.

I know not what to think.

[Enter Mrs. Villeré.]

Mrs. Vil. Lafrenière!

Laf. Madam! What can bring you here?

What has occurred? Your look is full of pain.

Mrs. Vil. Where is my husband, Lafrenière?

Laf. Thy husband!

Lady, I sent him to the settlements

To gather forces for the army.

Mrs. Vil. Have you got news? Where — how fares my husband?

Laf. Lady, I’ll not deceive you — I know not.

Daily I’ve waited for some messenger —

Yet none from him has arrived. I tremble

Lest some accident has befallen him.

Mrs. Vil. Ah! ’Tis this I have trembled should occur.

Ah! ’Twas thy unquiet spirit led him on,

And brought thy country into dangers vain.

Laf. Madam, reproach me not. Do you not teach

Your beauteous daughter, by your precepts wise,

That honor’s palm is more, in real worth,

Than the gaudiest diadem which e’er was placed

Upon the brows of shameless votaries —

That death is better than a tarnished fame?

And wouldst thou see thy loved husband, lady,

Or I, or any of thy countrymen,

Bend to a stranger’s pride? Say, should we live

To blush to own that we do live? Ah, lady, no!

It cannot be that Villeré’s wife doth utter

Words which would make her husband blush to hear.

Mrs. Vil. True, true. Lafrenière, thou dost speak it right.

Pardon me — I am distracted. Heaven

Is witness that I love my husband’s fame;

But I could love him with that fame all lost.

Laf. Cheer up, good madam!

[Enter First Soldier.]

  What wouldst thou, soldier?

Sold. A deserter from the Spanish camp asks

For admittance near you. He doth assert ,

That he has business pressing and important

To lay before our chief.

Laf. Bring him to me.

[Enter a Spaniard, exit Soldier.]

Approach, good fellow! Art thou from the camp

Of Spain?

Span. I am; I hope it will please you, sir,

I’m charged to bear this letter to you.

Laf. Ha! Thou God! It is Villeré’s writing!

Mrs. Vil. Villeré!

Head! Read! Eead! What does he say?

Laf. (reading). " My dear friend:

To him who bears this I have promised safety,

And from you a rich reward. Garidel

Has proved a traitor! Plotted with Aubry!

And since six long days I’ve been confined

On board a Spanish ship. Console my wife

And gentle Adelaide! "

(Mrs. Villeré faints and falls into the arms of the Spaniard, while Lafrenière exclaims.)

  Eternal God!

He has escaped me! O Aubry! Aubry!

Hadst thou but come an hour later! What can I do?

I have no prisoners who are worth him;

I’d have to force the Spanish camp to reach

The ship. My troops are much too raw. Distraction!

Mrs. Vil. (recovering). Oh, my poor heart! Thou art quite hard to burst.

(To the Spaniard.) Where is the ship? the Spanish ship which holds

My husband the man who sent you here?

Span. A mile

Below the other camp, and near the shore,

It lies.

[Exit Mrs. Villeré.]

Laf. (who has not seen what has passed, but who is still musing). Yes, that’s the only way to save him yes. —

To-night, assisted by th’ obscurity,

I go, in a well-armed boat, below,

To burn the ship, and save my aged friend —

Ah! Where is the lady gone?

Span. She went out

In sorrow overwhelmed.

Laf. Poor, good lady!

She hastes too much to tell the fatal news

Unto her daughter and her friends. Follow!


Scene 2. — A Spanish ship at anchor in the Mississippi, near the bank; two boats alongside; sailors lounging in different postures; the sun setting; Aubry and Garidel on deck.

Aub. The fool! He thinks that bravery alone

Can the Spaniards in this crisis serve. Ha!

I know a secret path meandering

Through the swamp, by which I can, with every ease,

Bring in his rear half of the Spanish host,

While in his front the other half cloth charge.

Gar. Ha! ha! How will his helter-skelter band

Oppose Spain’s compact legions then? But say,

How has the poison worked? Did you inquire?

Aub. Yes; while roving about the city’s streets,

I met a slave of theirs. The thing works well,

But slowly; each day a change for Averse is seen.

It will soon break out in all its frightfulness.

Gar. I saw her use it ere I started thence —

Perhaps she does so even now. I felt

A strange pleasure when I saw it. Aubry,

Thou didst discover regions in my soul

Which ere thou cam’st were yet untrodden. Thanks

Be to thee for thy keen perception. I’ve found

My element; soon wilt thou see me swimming

In a sea of blood.

Aub. (arising). Garidel, adieu,

This hour must I meet O’Reilly — he’ll not

Be driven off as Don Ulloa was.

To-night I lead the Spanish troops around;

And to-morrow shall Lafrenière’s blood

Stream out with bubbling force, and I shall laugh

To see it flow.

(He enters a boat.)

Gar. Adieu, good master Aubry;

I wish thee much success. I’ll be with you

If my duty here is done in good time.

I’ve yet to hang old father Villeré;

I think he’ll not take long to die. Adieu. [Exit Aubry.

Well, now that darkness has commenced, I may

Begin this old rascal’s execution.

My men! To work! Prepare the rope bring up

That fellow from the cabin. We shall see

How he can dance in air; from yonder mast

We’ll swing him off. Ha! here he comes! I’ll try

The temper of his soul, in this dread hour,

E’en in its tenderest part.

[Enter Villeré, led up in chains.]

  Sir Villeré,

Good news I bring you your child and lady

Soon you’ll see.

Vil. O Garidel! Though thou hast

Betrayed me, and most ungrateful proved;

Though thou hast e’en upbraided me for all

The very kindness I’ve heaped upon thee

Yet I would pardon all, and die with joy,

Could I but clasp them once — but once — again,

With these weak, shackled arms!

Gar. Well, then, ’tis gained;

Soon will I have thy pardon, benefactor.

Ye’ll meet them not with shackled arms, and not

To quit them soon again. Come, will you go?

Vil. Indeed!

Gar.I do assure you!

Vil. (kneeling).I thank thee

With lowly and confounded wonder, God!

God of the helpless, receive my fervent


Gar. Amen!

(All the Sailors together.) Amen!

Vil. (rising). Well, Garidel!

Do I go now, or when?

Gar. Yes, even now.

Vil. Take off my chains.

Gar. Not yet; but ye shall not

Have them when you meet your wife and child.

Vil. Well, well, that’s all I care for; say, go I

Within that boat?

Gar. No! By a shorter road.

(Pointing to the rope prepared to hang Villeré.)

See! Yon rope shall bear thee to them.

Thy wife and child will meet thee in the grave.

(Garidel and the Sailors hurst into a loud laugh.)

Vil. (after standing a while confounded ). Wretches!

[Enter Mrs. Villeré, on the bank.]

Mrs. Vil. My husband!

Vil. God! is this a dream?

Gar. No, it is no dream! ’Tis triumph! Glory!

Woman, prepare to see thy husband die!

Mrs. Vil. (kneeling). Oh, spare him, Garidel! Oh, remember,

He saved thee when a child from want and death,

He was a father to thee in thy youth,

He loves thee with paternal love! Oh, stay!

Garidel, have pity!

Gar. Pity? I know not

What you mean. (Mrs. Villeré faints.)

Vil. Nay, trifle not so roughly;

This can’t be serious; ’tis a cruel play.

I will go to my wife; she awaits me there.

Gar. Ha! ha! The gallows ’tis awaits you, sir!

Come, prepare the rope — despatch!

Vil. The gallows! (Striking Garidel.)

Slave! Durst thou thus insult me?

Gar. (drawing a dagger). Ha, Villeré!

This dagger was given me for thee!

(Stabs Villeré several times.)

Vil. (falling). God!

I’m dying! My child! My wife! My country! (Dies.)

Mrs. Vil. (recovering). Where is my husband? Did he not call me?

Gar. (steeping a kerchief in Villeré’s blood). Thy husband, woman! Here is his blood!

(Throws the kerchief to her.)

Mrs. Vil.(staggering). Oh!

Gar. Art thou not satisfied? Go, join him, then!

(Fires a pistol at her; she falls and dies.)

[At that moment Lafrenière rushes in along the shore, accompanied by armed followers.]

Laf. Stop, murderers! Ah, ye have done your work!

But mine begins! Fire! (The soldiers fire; Garidel staggers.)

Gar. (falling). Lafrenière, I die!

But I await thee at the gates of hell. (Falls.)


Scene 1. — Lafrenière’s Camp. Lafrenière’s tent in the background. The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Villeré laid out on a litter; Lafrenière gazing upon them.

Laf. There — there is what is left of noble man

And virtuous woman. There Villeré lies,

The wise, the brave, the generous — a man

Respected, loved; he had a crowd of friends,

Who shook his hands and clasped him in their arms:

Now they would loathe e’en to put their finger

On his dead, but stately, brow; they’d stand round

In silence, as if they feared to wake him

From the marble sleep of death, and look on

With eyes and faces which would seem to say,

Can he be dead? What! can this be the man

The living man we saw but yesterday?

To-day, God! what could have done this?

By some slight gashes on his side he lieth there

The senseless mockery of what he was!

And on his human faculties is placed

A seal as lasting as eternity.

[Enter Adelaide, extremely pale and emaciated; he does not see her.]

Thou God! what will I say to Adelaide?

I’d tremble ’neath the look of that poor girl,

And feel, though pure, as guilty of a crime.

Ade. Lafrenière!

Laf. Heavens! What voice is that?

No, no, it cannot be — thou art not Adelaide!

Ade. O Lafrenière! speak not such dreadful words.

I know — it I am no more that beauteous

Adelaide on whom ye once did fix the gaze

Of love; but though now but the ghost of what

I was — the tattered remnant of a robe

Which once was rich and graceful — oh, let not

This new deformity drive away the love

Which once was fostered in thy breast

For me! Oh, make me not loathe e’en myself!

Know’st thou not thine Adelaide? Say, has she lost

All semblance to herself?

Laf. My Adelaide! (They embrace.)

Ade. Lafrenière! Ah! well mayst thou look with wide

Astonished eyes upon me. Look, look on;

But try to look with love and not disgust.

Seest thou these sunken, tarnished eyes — this

Deadened skin which leaves the unhealthy flesh —

These lips, which thou didst oft compare, whene’er

Amidst the bloom of spring we roved, to every

Crimson flower thou didst pluck — these lips,

Like those now withered flowers, have faded too.

Laf. Nay; rave not so, my own dear Adelaide,

’Tis only passing sickness — thou’lt be well

In some few days.

Ade. No, no; believe it not.

I thought so too; but I did hear them say,

In whispers which they thought I did not hear,

’Twas poison —

Laf. Poison?

Ade. Yes, a cankering

Drug, well known by its fell workings on me,

Which on my skin perfidious hands have put,

And which will soon (oh, wilt thou love me then?)

Break out in putrid sores and leaking biles.

Nay, do not seem thus horror-struck.

Laf. O God!

It cannot be, my Adelaide. Who could have done —

So infamous a deed? What hast thou done

Who harmed — that one should seek thee out and thus

Deface thy cheek with his polluted hands?

Ade. Ah, was it not a wanton crime?

Laf. O man! what can exceed thy wickedness?

That enemy of every breathing thing,

The serpent of the woods, will raise his head,

Hiss, and shake his rattles at the approach

Of unsuspecting feet. But man, the greatest

Enemy of man, rejoiceth in the blood

Of innocence; and, while wild beasts destroy

To get their food, man — savage — man doth kill

To kill, and doth amusement find to see

The blood ooze out of wounds his hand has made.

And laughs when victims writhe in death’s last agony.

ADB. Ah, Lafrenière, say dost thou love me still?

Laf. If I do love thee, Adelaide? Ask me

If this warm heart still beats; for till its throbs

Do cease, its highest bound will be for thee.

Ade. We parted last in anger. ’Twas silly;

But thou wilt not chide me, Lafrenière,

Though ’twas a jealous whim, for sorrow now

Inflicts the punishment upon me. Think,

I blush to tell thee, some rival enemy

Of thine he cannot be thy rival now,

For thy love hangs not on the flesh as doth

The love of common men — yes, that rival

Wrote me this, and I believed it — ah, wilt

Thou love me less?

Laf. Astonishment! Yes, yes,

’Tis Aubry’s secret hand with which he wrote

That false perfidious note he once addressed

To Don Ulloa, full of monstrous lies

Against his countrymen. Aubry! Aubry!

Thy deeds will soon encounter punishment.

Thou God, turn on him his own faithless arms;

Bring on him, though not from Lafrenière’ s hands,

The lying snares he knows so well to lay

The poisoned blades he can so well direct.

Ade. (seeing the bodies, but not recognizing). Ah, what! has the war so soon been fatal?

Perhaps some orphan o’er each body there will weep

A father slain. Who are they, Lafrenière?

Laf. (aside). Thou God, what can I do to ward this blow


Ade. Say, were they good and virtuous?

Laf. They were indeed.

Ade. O death! why dost thou not — whose arm

Guides in its rapid flight the fatal ball,

Directs the impending sabre where to strike —

Why dost thou not, while ruling o’er the field,

Select such victims of the battle’s strife

As should be punished by thy bloody scythe?

Preserve the father for his anxious child,

And pierce the heart whose wishes, could they kill,

Would slay a husband and a widow make.

Say, had they children? I would fain console them

In their pains, for I can feel how strong must be

The pangs which tear a son’s or daughter’s soul

When parted from a father’s love forever.

Laf. My Adelaide, look not so on that dark

Display of man’s frail destiny, but come,

For much emotion suits not thy weak health.

Within my tent thou mayest rest awhile.

The travel from the town must have fatigued

Thee much.

Ade. True. But is my mother there?

Laf. Thy mother?

Ade. Yes. What startles you so much?

Where is my mother? I must find her straight.

She went from home to seek thee, and inquire

If news you had of my father’s uncertain fate.

She promised, when she left my filial arms,

In three short hours to be back again.

But what disturbs thy countenance, and shakes

Thy body thus? Some accident, I fear,

Hath to my mother here occurred.

Laf. No, no.

’Tis the humid breath of evening which makes

Me feel unwell. Come, come, let’s hasten in.

Ade. Nay, nay! I came to seek my mother here.

Where is my mother?

Laf. My gentle Adelaide,

Why wilt thou fret so much? What wouldst thou, girl,

Should happen to thy mother here?

Ade. Cruel!

Part not a mother from her child. Oh, sir,

What harm has crossed her path? Shall I not look

Again upon her features — kiss her cheek?

Oh, I pray you by the love to me you’ve sworn,

Give — give me back my mother!

Laf. Adelaide,

Have courage, girl. How can I tell thee all

Unless thou hast a stouter heart?

Ade. Oh, yes!

I see it now! Some fatal accident

Has robbed me of her! Oh, my mother!

Where — O Lafrenière, where is my mother?

Let me embrace her even if she’s dead. (She turns to the bodies) Ha!

Can it be! — those bodies! (She runs towards them.)

Laf. Adelaide!

Ade. (uncovering one of the bodies). Oh! (Faints.)

Laf. (taking her in his arms). Too tender maid, canst thou withstand this shock?

Or has it, like the fiery bolt from high,

Destroyed the beating life within thy breast,

And borne thy soul upon its wings to God?

Halloo, within there!

[Enter First Soldier.]

  Go, call the surgeon

Of the army fly! Tell him it presses much!

[Exit First Soldier.]

[Exit Lafrenière, bearing Adelaide into his tent.]

[Enter Denoyant.]

Den. Yes, yes, it must be so; the troops I see

Advancing in our rear are certainly

The promised succors from the country sent;

They have a martial mien, appear well ranged,

And firm within their ranks. (A trumpet sounds distantly.) Do I hear,

Or are my ears deceived? A Spanish march

Methinks they sound. I do remember well

The tune. (The trumpet sounds again.)

[Enter Marquis.]

Marq. We are lost! we are lost! undone!

Den. Friend, what hast thou?

Marq. The Spaniards, on our rear,

Approach with half their force. See them advance!

Come, let us haste and arm.


[Enter Lafrenière.]

Laf. Thank God, she breathes!

But, oh! she will not long survive the hour

Which loosed the band which held on earth the soul

Of parents, whom as much the girl did love

As the woodland flower doth the earth and shade

By which ’tis nourished and ’neath which it grows.

Once taken from that native soil, it pines,

Nor can attentive hands revive its drooping life

No man-made showers, nor artificial warmth,

Can stop its fading or arrest its death.

[Enter Denoyant.]

Den. See, Lafrenière, see! the Spaniards come!

Laf. Nay, Denoyant! seest thou not they come

Upon the rear? How could the Spaniards pass

The morass on our left, the river on our right?

These are doubtless succors, come at last.

Den. Nay, sir. Observe their discipline, their dress,

(The distant trumpet sounds again.)

And listen to that march.

Laf. My doubts are gone.

Den. And Louisiana’s lost.

Laf. Not so, sir!

She is not lost! Are our hands chopped off?

Are we not Louisianians yet?

The coming fight will show you, sir, what can

Men, by the love of Liberty impelled,

’Gainst venal hirelings to tyrants sold.

Den. On our front too see, sir the enemy

Is marshalling his men.

Laf. To arms! to arms!

Haste thee, Denoyant, and bear the order.

Let the drum beat the call to arms. Send here

The chief commander of each regiment.

[Exit Denoyant.]

(Kneeling.) Eternal God! thou knowest all the deep

Sincerity of this uncorrupted heart;

And though ’mongst men my bearing has been proud,

Before thy throne I’ve always humbly bowed.

God! thou who pourest out, with equal hand,

Into the current of unstaying time,

Joy’s limpid stream and sorrow’s cup of brine,

Send not to me an unalloyed draught of gall,

But let some sweet be mingled with the pain

Which of late days has fallen to my share.

But if against me only thou art angered,

Then let thy wrath descend on me alone;

And save my country from the ills which I

Should suffer by thy wisdom’s stern decree.

God! By thy strong will our struggles aid,

And send confusion through the ranks of those

Who make Thy name a frightening password

To the greatest crimes. God, I pray thee for

My country’s liberty. Liberty, the gift

Which thou didst give to man e’en from his birth,

Shall it be wrested from his hand to-day?

Thou didst not destine him for slavery

When thou didst make him like unto thyself,

And stamped him in the holy, perfect mould

Of thine own intelligence and beauty.

Shall this proud soul which liveth here, and which,

By thine own lungs, was breathed into this breast,

Be cramped within the carcass of a slave?

It cannot be! I feel thine impulse now;

And victory for us will soon make this day

A day of record on our grateful hearts, (Rises.)

[Enter several officers, among whom are Marquis, Milhet, and Carrere.]

(The drums beat the call, and the cry is heard.)

To arms! to arms! to arms! to arms! to arms!

[Enter Denoyant.]

Den. A herald from the Spanish line awaits.

Laf. Bring him to me.

[Enter a Spanish Herald.]

Well, Spaniard, what wouldst thou?

Her. Dost thou command these hostile bands?

Laf. I do.

Her. I come a messenger of peace. If you

And yours surrender ere the tight, ye shall

Be treated with humanity, and all

Your vain rebellion pardoned.

Laf. What! pardoned!

Sirrah! Go, tell your master ’tis in vain

He thinks to cheat us with his futile tricks.

We know how far a Spaniard we can trust.

His rancor can be only cooled with blood;

His falsehood teaches’him to kill the man

He hates, e’en while he greets him with a kiss.

Go, tell your chief that pardon we ne’er ask,

But from our God for sins against his law.

Pardon, indeed! We disdain his offer;

And rather much. would give him our blood

Than take his favors, though he tenders life.

Her. Then must I tell you that without delay

The battle will begin on our part.

Laf. We are prepared.

[Exit Herald. ]

  (To the officers.)  Is all ready, gentlemen,

To face the enemy? Can I depend

Upon the bravery and the firmness

Of the men of all your companies?

OFFICERS. You can! you can!

Laf. Well, then, the word shall be,

Charge on for liberty! When ye return,

And take the head, each of his separate band,

Ye’ll tell the soldiers that it is my plan

To break the foe who pens us in the rear,

And then to intrench again beyond them.

Tell them that if we fail in this design,

Our country’s lost, and, what is ten times worse,

We lose our freedom, ne’er to get it back.

Try ye to inspire each soldier with a firm

Kesolve to die or to be free. Remember,

That on our arms to-day depends the fame,

The future reputation of our country;

And on this day we heroes make ourselves,

Or gain the base and ignominious name

Of slaves. Sirs, remember that! and when ye charge

Upon those Spanish dogs, shout the loud cry

Of Liberty into their ears. ’Twill make

The rascals shrink and fly; and like the damned,

Whose power fails when saints appeal to Christ,

These slaves will prostrate fall, when high are raised

The voice and arm of patriots unstained,

For martyrdom prepared. [Exeunt.

[Enter Adelaide and Surgeon from the tent.]

Surg. Lady! lady!

You need for rest. Why will you leave your bed,

To strain yourself by this exertion great?

This hard struggle ’gainst your weakness now

Will hurt you much, and may be fatal to you.

Ade. I pray to God, good surgeon, that it will.

Death cannot come too soon upon me now,

For now he parts me from my parents dear.

The blow which struck them reached the feeble thread

On which my life doth hang; and now I’ll knock

With arm untiring at the door of Death,

Until he gives me entrance through that gate

At whose dread portal has been left the dust

Of those who were my dearest love on earth.

(She goes to the bodies; drums beat the charge, firing and shouts are heard.)

Surg. Lady! lady! for heaven’s sake, retire.

The battle’s raging, and some straying ball

May strike you dead. Come; I will bring you

To some safer place, where, from these flying deaths,

You’ll sheltered be. (Firing, drums, and shouts.)

Ade. Not so. Here let me weep,

And call on Death. He’ll hear the better here,

For he is near me in an hundred shapes.

O father! mother! why are the deadly strokes,

Which fell on ye so lavishly, withheld

From me, whose heart would leap to meet them now?

(Firing, drums, and shouts.)

[Enter Lafrenière.]

Laf. (throwing away his sword). Go from my hand, thou useless trash! Lost! lost!

Thrice did our soldiers charge, and thrice repulsed;

They strive in vain to form their broken ranks;

By myriads stopped, though myriads they have slain,

’Twere vain to try to bring them on again.

In small detachments scattered o’er the field,

They fight surrounded by the compact lines

Of mercenary troops — full ten times more

In numbers. God! God! Can I not something do

To turn the current of the day? Ah, yes!

There — there — I see a rallied regiment! (Shouts.)

Nay! nay! nay! poor weakened eyes, they’re Spanish troops.


Yes, ye demons, stretch forth your glutted throats,

Which gurgle with the blood to-day ye’ve drank.

Let it be heard ’midst hell’s eternal fires,

And let the damned reecho up the cry,

Turned to a shout of victory ’gainst God!

(Spanish soldiers rush in.)

First Spanish Soldier. Kill him! it is their chief.

Ade. (rushing forward and shielding Lafrenière). Nay, nay! not so!

Ye cowards! ye shall kill a woman first!

(The curtain drops.)



Lafrenière appears sleeping in a prison.

The prison vanishes, and a landscape appears; a wide river flows through the centre; and on each side of it, extensive forests and uncultivated fields are seen. On one side stands a throne, on which a personification of Europe is seated, holding a sceptre, and having a lash and fetters lying at her feet. A personification of Louisiana sits weeping, chained to the throne; plaintive music, and pantomime expressive of the distress of Louisiana, and of the despotism and cruelty of Europe.

The music gradually changes to more stern and threatening tones ; the sky darkens; clouds appear; the thunder is heard, and the lightning flashes. A thunderbolt strikes the throne, which crumbles to pieces, while Europe is thrown prostrate on the earth. The gloom is dispelled, the clouds disappear, the music is joyful, and Louisiana exults.

Liberty appears descending from above, bearing the American flag. Above the head of Liberty seventeen stars [representing the number of States of the Union at the time Louisiana was admitted] appear arranged in a circle around the words “Constitution,” “Union.”

Liberty approaches and takes off the fetters of Louisiana, saying: “Arise, my child, rejoin thy sisters. Thou art free.” They embrace each other, while Liberty points to the Star of Louisiana rising in the sky, and ranging itself with the others.

“Hail, Columbia,” breaks forth, and to that tune the fields flourish, cities rise, boats and ships ply upon the river, and busy crowds of people thicken on the landscape. The prison resumes awhile its appearance, and again disappears to give place to a dark curtain, on which suddenly appears a circle of portraits (drawn in white) representing the Revolutionary heroes and worthies, with Washington in the centre.

Scene 1. — A Prison. Lafrenière fettered, and chained to a ring the wall.

Laf. O Liberty, thou art not invincible!

Slaves by plunder baited have o’erthrown thee,

And thus it seems, that hearts inclined to crime

Do feel for crime as great enthusiasm,

As souls which take their fire from the skies

Do in the acting of a virtuous deed.

my country! and art thou then like me

Chained, fettered, and beneath a tyrant’s foot?

Ah! was green America sought in vain

By Pilgrim Fathers, flying ’cross the main

To seek a refuge from oppression’s rod?

Were its wide forests, where untutored men

Live ’neath the shade of the tall magnolia —

Were its broad rivers, ’gainst whose current nought

But the Indian’s light canoe can ply —

Was its free soil, from whence civilization’s foot

Not yet treads down and wears the verdure off —

Were these unto degrading slavery doomed?

Oh, no; it cannot be! And still I hope.

Last night, when dragged across the horrid field,.

Where hundreds of my countrymen laid dead,

Pierced by mercenary swords and balls,

1 was thrown here, within this dungeon dark —

Long did I weep Louisiana’s fall,

Till sorrow’s fount was drained all dry:

Sleep came at last, and closed my heavy eyes

To ope imagination’s lids on worlds

Unknown, and in prophetic dreams to wake

Midst future days. I saw, though Death metheught

Did press me down with his unbending arm,

My country in a veil of darkness wrapped,

Her wrists and ankles worn by clinching chains,

Her back all marked with deep and bleeding stripes,

And moaning ’midst her sufferings. But soon

The darkness vanished, and a brilliant light

Dispersed the clouds which hung around in gloom;

And forth appeared, in shining radiance,

A youth whose air spoke Freedom, and whose frame

Was built with strength and grace; in his right hand

A palm and sword he held, and in his left

A scroll on which eternal truths were written,

And a floating banner, where, in beauty

Elended, were the white, and blue, and red,

In fulgent stars and flowing stripes disposed.

He broke her bonds, and with his manly voice

Exclaimed, " Go, join thy sisters; thou art free."

[Enter Adelaide.]

Adelaide! What miracle has oped the door

Of this gloomy dungeon to let thee in?

Ade. Lafrenière, I bring thee news of freedom!

With gold — what Spaniard can resist its lure? —

I’ve gained thy jailer, and to-night thou flyest.

Laf. Fly! Lady, no! Here will I stay, and meet

My fate, whate’er it be.

Ade. And that is death,

If thou dost here remain.

Laf. A brave man’s death

Is better than a coward’s flight.

Ade. ’Tis true.

Couldst thou defend thyself, I’d rather see

Thee fighting sword in hand, than aid thy flight;

But here assassination doth await thee,

And, while thou sleepest, treachery will plunge

His poisoned knife into thy noble heart.

Laf. I care not how these Spaniards end my life;

My destiny is fixed. In freedom’s cause

To die, is greater, in my estimation,

Than dragging out in vile obscurity

An useless life. To-day it is the richest prize

My country’s conquerors have gained.

"Well, let them have it, while ’tis worth a crime.

Thy father, girl, is laid among the martyrs

Who yesterday did shed their blood and die

For liberty. What! Shall I shrink away

And dread the example he has set me?

Ade. Then there was hope, but now —

Laf. Honor and glory

Yet remain to be completely gained.

Ade. Nay,

Lafrenière, if thou lovest me, leave these vain

Aspirings. Listen. There is an aged

African, who seeing, as I passed by,

The threatened dissolution of my features,

Offered to give me certain antidotes

For the evil which afflicts me now.

Lafrenière, thou art now the only prop

Round which my life’s weak vine will twine itself:

My father — mother — both have been snapped off,

And if thou fallest, Adelaide falls too.

Laf. God, give me strength to meet this trial hard!

Ade. I will fly with thee to some distant land;

And there, in wedded love, we’ll live in peace,

Blest by contentment and a quiet home.

Laf. ’Tis wrong to put into my hands thy fate;

Why with dilemma thus surround me?

On one side, honor, the fame I cherish,

Call me to stay and die; on the other,

My love, thy happiness and threatened life,

Unite to make me swerve from duty’s path.

Adelaide, thou art unjust; assist me

Eather to preserve my fame unspotted,

And tempt me not to play a shameful part.

Ade. ’Tis said the northern colonies have raised,

And threaten rebellion against England.

Go, join them, and for freedom fight with them.

Laf. I’ve sworn to free my country or to die!

Ade. Dost thou refuse?

Laf. I do.

(She sinks down upon a seat.)

  Nay, Adelaide,

Sustain thyself with better courage.

[Enter Aubry.]

 Aubry here!

Aub. Ha! ha! "Well, my good sir, what say you now?

Ha! You have struck — heaped insults on me —

Called me a coward. Well, you spoke the truth.

Say, what think ye of a coward’s vengeance?

(Lafrenière rushes at him, but is stopped by the chain.)

No, no! I had these chains too well prepared.

Ade. Monster!

Aub. Ha! Foolish wench! What dost thou here?

Well, ’tis a double blow I’ll strike. Listen.

Ye know not all I’ve done against you both.

’Twas I seduced that rascal Garidel

To place bis master in the Spaniard’s hand,

To pour a poison over this maiden’s beauty,

(Lafrenière strains to break his chains, and sinks down in the effort, trembling with rage.)

Keep cool, good sir, that is not half. ’Twas I

Who made him plunge a dagger in the heart

Of Villeré.

Ade. God! God! (Faints.)

Aub. What! Faint already?

Halloo without there!

[Enter Jailer.]

 Here, jailer, take out

This foolish girl, and throw her in the ditch.

[Exit Jailer bearing out Adelaide.

So, sir, you have freed your country, have you?

A great and mighty general indeed!

Poor — foolish — vain — rash — green — hot-headed — boy!

What! Did you think to thwart a man like me?

Thy wild ambition showed the crazy youth,

And not a man to lead an army on.

Why were not the outskirts of your army

Better guarded? I led the Spaniards round

And came upon your rear, nor even met

A single scout until our drums ye heard.

Ay, sir! To me you owe your fall. Say,

What think you of the puny coward now?

Laf. (rising). Aubry, I do despise thee still, and still

I do defy thee! Do thy worst! All’s not done —

I still exist. Why am I not murdered?

Ye cannot lack for those who’d do the deed;

The country’s full of Spaniards now.

Aub. Be sure

I will not leave my work unfinished thus,

Nor can you teach me how to do it, boy.

Ye shall not be murdered in the dark. No!

I’ll have you ended on the public square.

I’ll have you tried, condemned in form, and shot!

You shall have company; four of your friends,

Denoyant, Carrere, Milhet, and Marquis,

Have been already sentenced.

Laf. Wretch!

Aub. They come.

Your judges here advance; and, what is more,

I am their colleague named.

Laf. Thou!

Aub. Yes, sir, I!

[Enter two Judges and a Scribe. They seat themselves at a table

together with Aubry.]

First Judge. Is this the man?

Aub. It is.

First Judge. Of heinous crimes,

Against your rightful king, you are accused.

You have upraised sedition in this province;

You have been the chief of discontented bands;

You have led them on against the army

Sent by his Majesty Most Catholic,

Our gracious lord and master, Charles the Third,

By grace of God King of Spain and India,

To take possession of his proper claim,

And legal acquisition — in one word,

High treason is your crime.

Laf. Most wise judges,

Do I well hear your words? Is it to judge

Ye come, or, most sage and sapient judges,

Am I condemned already? Mark your words:

“You have upraised sedition in this land,

You have been the chief of discontented bands,

You have” — “You have,” good sirs, be not so swift;.

Convict me first, and then my sentence read.

Aub. Colleague, proceed in better form. Ask first

His name.

Laf. You’re right, let it be done in form,

Let me be murdered legally.

First Judge. Mind, sir,

With more respect your judges treat. Speak,

But no insulting language use. Say,

What is your name?

Laf. Great Judge! That very name

Is the greatest insult I can speak

When I address ye; and by to-morrow

’Twill be a greater insult still. It is —

For I am proud to speak it — Lafrenière!

First Judge. (To Secretary.) Write. (To Lafrenière.)

Your birthplace?

Laf. Most pleased am I to answer.

I am a Creole, born in New Orleans.

First Judge. Your profession?

Laf. An advocate.

First Judge. Your age?

Laf. Out, dastards! I’ll parley no more with ye.

Ye know me — who I am, and what I am;

And I plead guilty in every point

On which ye do accuse me — ay, guilty!

And glory in what ye call a crime. Go!

I hate your nation and your tyrant King,

I weep that I cannot destroy ye all,

I moan my country’s enslaved destiny,

I pant to die ere ye have washed your hands

Of all the blood ye shed on yesterday.

Go! I have enough of mockery.

Aub. Ye hear,

He doth confess.

First Judge. (to Scribe). Proceed! Bead the sentence.

Laf. What! Was it ready written up? Why, ye ape

But ill your parts.

Scribe (reading). “Lafrenière, found guilty,

In due form, of high treason ’gainst the King,

Is by this honorable court condemned,

Within an hour hence, to die.”

Laf. Thank ye, kind gentlemen, ye could not more

Give pleasure to me; know, I kiss your hands,

Ye grant me e’en my heart’s core wish.

[Exit Aubry, Scribe, and Judges.]

 Oh, yes;

To-day my name is written in the sacred book —

The purest, chosen page of history.

From now my cherished name will live

Immortal in the hearts of freemen —

The Louisianian’s future pride.

He’ll shout my name unto the skies;

He’ll place it first upon the monument

His heart will raise to virtue, surrounded

By a glorious halo! Eternal God!

I come — I come — already crowned before thee,

The unstained martyr of bright Liberty!

Liberty! the first and greatest dogma

Thou dost teach us in thy book of nature.

[Enter First Spanish Soldier, accompanied by other soldiers, with reversed muskets; and the Jailer. The drum beats a dead march.]

First Spanish Soldier. Art thou prepared to go? Hast

made thy prayer?

Laf. What I have asked of God, ye grant me now.

(Jailer takes off the chains.) [Exeunt.

Scene 2. — The Public Square.

[Enter a Ruffian.]

Ruf. The citizens have fled as if a pestilence

Infected all this section of the city;

The place is desolate e’en as ’twere night.

’Tis here they’ll shoot the Creole chief to-day.

A fine time this to rob some straying fool:

If some rich scoundrel now would only pass

Across this green, how quick I’d murder him,

And rob him of his gold! Ah, some one comes!

By the Holy Virgin, it is Aubry,

For whom we seized the old man in the forest!

He’s loaded, doubtless, with the riches gained

By turning traitor to his countrymen.

I’m tempted strong to let him pass along,

For he is one of us who kill and steal

And take false oath. Ha! he lets fall a purse.

Pshaw! he picks it up. Saints! ’tis full of gold!

By the holy cross, I’ll have it! (Retires)

[Enter Aubry.]

Aub. ’Tis well!

My work is done. I am revenged, and now,

With all the riches I have gained, I’ll go

To Europe and enjoy myself. But

I must behold Lafrenière e’er I go.

To-day he takes his crown of glory, and

’Tis my purpose here to calculate, with care,

The different value of his gain from mine. (Holding up the purse.)

Money! who’d not worship thee is but a fool.

What is fame, honors, titles, place, to thee?

Though I’m a coward and a criminal,

More men will bow to me, and envy me,

And yield to my desires, than will e’er recall

The memory of this great Lafrenière.

Learn to make money, and then ye may

Dispense with further knowledge. Gain riches;

It decks the bearer more than wisdom would,

It is the power of a mighty prince,

It is a brilliant title to one’s name.

See! It has no smell nor pleasing taste,

"Tis rigid to the touch, and yonder flower

Which blooms unnoticed in the grass

Exceeds it far in beauty; yet I

Have been as false and cruel as the tiger

To obtain it, and still I think the prize

Was quickly, cheaply gained.

 Why come they not?

I’ll go and see whence this delay.

[Exit Aubry, followed cautiously by the Ruffian.]

Aubry (without). Murder! Oh!

(The drum is heard beating a dead march, gradually approaching; the orchestra plays soft and mournful music.)

[Enter Lafrenière escorted as before, and accompanied by Denoyant, Milhet, Marquis, and Carrere; the soldiers range themselves on the right side.]

Laf. ’Tis triumph! more glorious than the pomp

Which glittered round a Roman conqueror.

I envy not the wreath that Caesar wore

When, from Pharsalia’s field, he trod on Rome.

His coronet was steeped in freemen’s blood,

Mine shall be wet with their regretful tears;

He sought to fetter Rome in slavery,

I tried to make my native country free;

He died with usurpation’s hand outstretched,

I fall the martyr of bright liberty.

And could I envy Cæsar now? Oh, no!

Like him I failed to gain a prize most dear,

Yet do I die more proudly than he died;

For this I leave behind a virtuous name.

(To his companions.) My friends, I greet you joyfully

As parties to a festive revelry,

As bridegrooms on their wedding day,

As saints who take their crown of sanctity!

This day the blood we’ll here together spill

Will rise into a monument of fame,

Will nourish seeds of freedom in this soil,

And bless our country with five patriot names.

Denoyant, say! since Freedom’s cause is lost,

Couldst thou wish aught more glorious than this,

The death of freemen for their country slain?

Den. Ay, and who still defy the tyrant’s power;

For though he slay us, and revengefully

Should drag our bodies in ignoble dust,

Yet, here or hence, our souls are ever free,

And spurn the mandates of his tyranny.

Marq. Unto us now the value of this life

Is wholly lost; a foreign master treads

Upon our native land.

Mil. How could we live

Beneath the rule of such inhuman slaves?

Their hands are red with Villeré’s honored blood.

Car. To me now death has all of freedom’s charms;

For death will burst oppressive chains.

Laf. ’Tis well!

Dear friends, now let us yield our ready breasts

Unto the bullets of these murderers,

Who bring disgrace upon the soldier’s garb.

(To the First Spanish Soldier.) Come! why lag you thus your duty to perform?

(The Soldier offers to bandage his eyes.)

Not so! Think ye we cannot look on death?

Thou hast already seen us look it in the face.

Where shall Ave stand?

First Spanish Soldier. Yonder, between the trees.

Laf. And now, my native land, but one more glance,

And then I’ll close my eyes in death with joy.

Adieu, blue sky and verdant foliage,

’Neath which, when but a child, I loved to play

With bounding limbs and fluttering heart,

Adieu! I look no more with pleasure on ye —

Ye are no more what I did love ye for.

(While Lafrenière is speaking, his companions retire behind the scenes on the left. Exit Lafrenière, same side.)

Laf. (without). Now — now! with hand in hand we’ll fall at


For right and liberty!

First Spanish Soldier. Are you prepared?

Laf. (outside). We are!

First Spanish Soldier. Soldiers, attention! Ready! Aim!

Laf. (outside). Liberty forever!

First Spanish Soldier. Fire!

(As the soldiers fire, Adelaide rushes in between them and Lafrenière, and falls wounded. Lafrenière staggers in, mortally wounded, in several parts of the body, and falters towards her.)

Laf. God! she is killed.

Adelaide! Adelaide!

Ade. I thank that ball —

By my torn side — it lets in death — ah — love

Dost thou still live? — Lafrenière, I’ve news — news!

(Lafrenière sinks down.)

Nav, live awhile to hear me — e’er you die —

Aubry, Aubry — is dead — murdered — murdered

By a Spaniard for his gold the gold he got

From Spaniards to betray us — Adieu! (She dies.)

Laf. Great God! (Rises.)

First Spanish Soldier. Load, load your guns again, and finish him!

Laf. ’Tis useless — I feel the cold hand of death

Press from my heart its last — last drop of blood.

Louisianians, by my example learn

How great — how noble — is a freeman’s death! (Falls and dies.)



  1. Louisiana in 1769. Read more on the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768 here.
  2. Villeré. Pronounced Vil-ra. [Collens' note.]
  3. Cry of liberty. At this time the Americans made a show of resistance to the Stamp Act. The sentiment was, in fact, spoken by Lafrenière. See Gayarre’s Louisiana. [Collens' note.]


Collens, T. Wharton. The Martyr Patriots; Or, Louisiana in 1769. An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts. The Louisiana Book: Selections from the Literature of the State. Ed. Thomas M’Caleb. New Orleans: R. F. Straughan, 1894. 421-472. Internet Archive. 18 Feb. 2010. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. <http:// archive.org/ details/ louisiana book sel00mcal>.

Collens, T. Wharton. The Martyr Patriots; Or, Louisiana in 1769. An Historical Tragedy in Five Acts. New Orleans: Dillard, 1836. Performed in the old St. Charles Theatre in New Orleans in the year of its publication.

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