The TSAR, the PATRIARCH and Boyars
TSAR. Is it possible? An unfrocked monk against us Leads rascal troops, a truant friar dares write Threats to us! Then 'tis time to tame the madman! Trubetskoy, set thou forth, and thou Basmanov; My zealous governors need help. Chernigov Already by the rebel is besieged; Rescue the city and citizens. BASMANOV. Three months Shall not pass, Sire, ere even rumour's tongue Shall cease to speak of the pretender; caged In iron, like a wild beast from oversea, We'll hale him into Moscow, I swear by God. (Exit with TRUBETSKOY.) TSAR. The Lord of Sweden hath by envoys tendered Alliance to me. But we have no need To lean on foreign aid; we have enough Of our own warlike people to repel Traitors and Poles. I have refused.—Shchelkalov! In every district to the governors Send edicts, that they mount their steeds, and send The people as of old on service; likewise Ride to the monasteries, and there enlist The servants of the churchmen. In days of old, When danger faced our country, hermits freely Went into battle; it is not now our wish To trouble them; no, let them pray for us; Such is the tsar's decree, such the resolve Of his boyars. And now a weighty question We shall determine; ye know how everywhere The insolent pretender hath spread abroad His artful rumours; letters everywhere, By him distributed, have sowed alarm And doubt; seditious whispers to and fro Pass in the market-places; minds are seething. We needs must cool them; gladly would I refrain From executions, but by what means and how? That we will now determine. Holy father, Thou first declare thy thought. PATRIARCH. The Blessed One, The All-Highest, hath instilled into thy soul, Great lord, the spirit of kindness and meek patience; Thou wishest not perdition for the sinner, Thou wilt wait quietly, until delusion Shall pass away; for pass away it will, And truth's eternal sun will dawn on all. Thy faithful bedesman, one in worldly matters No prudent judge, ventures today to offer His voice to thee. This offspring of the devil, This unfrocked monk, has known how to appear Dimitry to the people. Shamelessly He clothed himself with the name of the tsarevich As with a stolen vestment. It only needs To tear it off—and he'll be put to shame By his own nakedness. The means thereto God hath Himself supplied. Know, sire, six years Since then have fled; 'twas in that very year When to the seat of sovereignty the Lord Anointed thee—there came to me one evening A simple shepherd, a venerable old man, Who told me a strange secret. "In my young days," He said, "I lost my sight, and thenceforth knew not Nor day, nor night, till my old age; in vain I plied myself with herbs and secret spells; In vain did I resort in adoration To the great wonder-workers in the cloister; Bathed my dark eyes in vain with healing water From out the holy wells. The Lord vouchsafed not Healing to me. Then lost I hope at last, And grew accustomed to my darkness. Even Slumber showed not to me things visible, Only of sounds I dreamed. Once in deep sleep I hear a childish voice; it speaks to me: `Arise, grandfather, go to Uglich town, To the Cathedral of Transfiguration; There pray over my grave. The Lord is gracious— And I shall pardon thee.' `But who art thou?' I asked the childish voice. `I am the tsarevich Dimitry, whom the Heavenly Tsar hath taken Into His angel band, and I am now A mighty wonder-worker. Go, old man.' I woke, and pondered. What is this? Maybe God will in very deed vouchsafe to me Belated healing. I will go. I bent My footsteps to the distant road. I reached Uglich, repair unto the holy minster, Hear mass, and, glowing with zealous soul, I weep Sweetly, as if the blindness from mine eyes Were flowing out in tears. And when the people Began to leave, to my grandson I said: `Lead me, Ivan, to the grave of the tsarevich Dimitry.' The boy led me—and I scarce Had shaped before the grave a silent prayer, When sight illumed my eyeballs; I beheld The light of God, my grandson, and the tomb." That is the tale, Sire, which the old man told. (General agitation. In the course of this speech Boris several times wipes his face with his handkerchief.) To Uglich then I sent, where it was learned That many sufferers had found likewise Deliverance at the grave of the tsarevich. This is my counsel; to the Kremlin send The sacred relics, place them in the Cathedral Of the Archangel; clearly will the people See then the godless villain's fraud; the might Of the fiends will vanish as a cloud of dust. (Silence.) PRINCE SHUISKY. What mortal, holy father, knoweth the ways Of the All-Highest? 'Tis not for me to judge Him. Untainted sleep and power of wonder-working He may upon the child's remains bestow; But vulgar rumour must dispassionately And diligently be tested; is it for us, In stormy times of insurrection, To weigh so great a matter? Will men not say That insolently we made of sacred things A worldly instrument? Even now the people Sway senselessly this way and that, even now There are enough already of loud rumours; This is no time to vex the people's minds With aught so unexpected, grave, and strange. I myself see 'tis needful to demolish The rumour spread abroad by the unfrocked monk; But for this end other and simpler means Will serve. Therefore, when it shall please thee, Sire, I will myself appear in public places, I will persuade, exhort away this madness, And will expose the vagabond's vile fraud. TSAR. So be it! My lord Patriarch, I pray thee Go with us to the palace, where today I must converse with thee. (Exeunt; all the boyars follow them.) 1ST BOYAR. (Sotto voce to another.) Didst mark how pale Our sovereign turned, how from his face there poured A mighty sweat? 2ND BOYAR. I durst not, I confess, Uplift mine eyes, nor breathe, nor even stir. 1ST BOYAR. Prince Shuisky has pulled it through. A splendid fellow!