The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
Mr. Scratch: You shall have your trial, Mr. Webster. But I'm sure you'll agree, this is hardly the case for an ordinary jury.
Daniel Webster: Let it be the quick or the dead, so long as it is an American judge and an American jury!
Mr. Scratch: 'The quick or the dead!' You have said it.
[he stomps on the barn floor; a door opens]
Mr. Scratch: You must pardon the leathery toughness of one or two.
Jabez Stone: [afraid] Mr. Webster!
[a line of ghosts begin entering from the trapdoor]
Mr. Scratch: Captain Kidd - he killed men for gold. Simon Girty, the renegade - he burned men for gold. Governor Dale - he broke men on the wheel. Asa, the Black Monk - he choked them to death. Floyd Ireson and Stede Bonnet, the fiendish butchers. Walter Butler, King of the Massacre. Big and Little Harp, robbers and murderers. Teach, the Cutthroat. Morton, the vicious lawyer... and General Benedict Arnold. You remember him, no doubt.
Daniel Webster: A jury of the damned...
Mr. Scratch: [laughs] Dastards, liars, traitors, knaves. Your suggestion, Mr. Webster - 'the quick or the dead.'
Daniel Webster: This is outrageous, I asked for a fair trial...
Mr. Scratch: Americans, all.
[Ma Stone is reading out loud from the book of Job]
Mary Stone: Give me the book, Ma. I'm going to read us something cheerful from the book of Ruth. That is, if you don't mind changing the lesson.
Ma Stone: Land sakes, I don't mind. I never did hold much with Job, even if he is scripture. Took on too much to suit me. Course I don't want to malign the man; but he always sounded to me like he come from Massachusetts.
Jabez Stone: Money's a funny thing ain't it, Ma?
Ma Stone: I figure it depends a mite on how you get it and how you spend it.
Jabez Stone: But I don't spend any.
Ma Stone: But you should, son. That's all it's good for.
Jabez Stone: Do you really think that?
Ma Stone: That's just common sense. Now a man like Daniel Webster: guess they pay him high for what he does, but he's worth it. And he helps others... makes all the difference.
Jabez Stone: I know. But suppose a man got his money in bad ways?
Ma Stone: Wouldn't profit him none. You see, son: I'm old and I've lived. When a man gets his money in bad way... when he sees the better course and takes the worse... then the devil's in his heart. And that fixes him.
Jabez Stone: And yet... a man could change all that couldn't he?
Ma Stone: A man can always change things. That's what makes him different from the barnyard critters.
[Webster and Stone are waiting for Mr. Scratch]
Daniel Webster: How long do we have to wait?
Jabez Stone: 'Til midnight.
Daniel Webster: Oh, that's fine - then we have time to christen a jug. Old Medford rum: aahh, there's nothing like it. You know, somehow or other, waiting becomes wonderfully shorter with a jug. I saw an inchworm once take a drop of this and he stood right up on his hind legs and bit a bee!
[chuckles and takes a drink]
Daniel Webster: Will you have a nip?
Jabez Stone: No, there's no joy in it for me.
Daniel Webster: Oh, come, come now. Just because you sold your soul to the devil that needn't make you a teetotaler.
Daniel Webster: Gentlemen of the jury, tonight it is my privilege to address a group of men I've long been acquainted with in song and story, but men I had never hoped to see. My worthy opponent, Mister Scratch, called you Americans all. Mister Scratch is right. You were Americans all. Oh, what a heritage you were born to share. Gentlemen of the jury, I envy you, for you were present at the birth of a mighty union. It was given to you to hear those first cries of pain and behold the shining babe, born of blood and tears. You are called upon tonight to judge a man named Jabez Stone. What is his case? He's accused of breach of contract. He made a deal to find a shortcut in his life, to get rich quickly, the same kind of a deal all of you once made. You, Benedict Arnold. I speak to you first because you are better known than the rest of your colleagues here. What a different song yours could have been. A friend of Washington and Lafayette, a soldier. General Arnold, you fought so gallantly for the American cause till - let me see, what was the date? - seventeen seventy-nine. That date, burned in your heart. The lure of gold made you betray that cause. And you, Simon Girty, now known to all as "Renegade" - a loathesome word - you also took that other way. And you, Walter Butler, what would you give for another chance to see the grasses grow in Cherry Valley without the stain of blood? I could go on and on and name you all but there's no need of that. Why stir the wounds? I know they pain enough. You were fooled like Jabez Stone, fooled and trapped in your desire to rebel against your fate. Gentlemen of the jury, it is the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his fate. But when he does, these are crossroads. You took the wrong turn. So did Jabez Stone. But he found it out in time. He's here tonight to save his soul. Gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to give Jabez Stone another chance to walk upon this earth, among the trees, the growing corn, and the smell of grasses in the Spring. What would you all give for another chance to see those things you must all remember and often yearn to touch again? For you were all men once. Clean American air was in your lungs and you breathed it deeply. For it was free and blew across an earth you loved. These are common things I speak of, small things, but they are good things. Yet without your soul, they mean nothing. Without your soul, they sicken. Mister Scratch once told you that your soul meant nothing. And you believed him. And you lost your freedom. Freedom isn't just a big word. It is the morning and the bread and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came to these shores in boats and ships. It was a long journey and a hard one and a bitter one. Yes, there is sadness in being a man... but it is a proud thing, too. And out of the suffering and the starvation and the wrong and the right, a new thing has come: a free man. And when the whips of the oppressors are broken and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be talking and walking under a free star. Yes, we have planted freedom in this earth like wheat. And we have said to the skies above us, "A man shall own his own soul... " Now, here is this man. He is your brother. You were Americans all.
[points to the Devil]
Daniel Webster: You can't be on his side, the side of the oppressor. Let Jabez Stone keep his soul, a soul which doesn't belong to him alone but to his family, his son, and his country. Gentlemen of the jury, don't let this country go to the devil. Free Jabez Stone. God bless the United States and the men who made her free.
Daniel Webster: [about Jabez] Well, he sure made himself the big frog in the little pond around here.
[Webster is examing the contract Mr. Scratch has with Stone]
Daniel Webster: This appears - mind you, I say appears - to be properly drawn. But you shan't have this man. A man isn't a piece of property. Mr. Stone is an American citizen... and an American citizen cannot be forced into the service of a foreign prince.
Mr. Scratch: Foreign? Who calls me a foreigner?
Daniel Webster: Well, I never heard of the de... I never heard of you claiming American citizenship.
Mr. Scratch: And who has a better right? When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on the deck. Am I not still spoken of in every church in New England? It's true the North claims me for a Southerner and the South for a Northerner, but I'm neither. Tell the truth, Mr. Webster - though I don't like to boast of it - my name is older in the country than yours.
Daniel Webster: Then I stand on the Constitution. I demand a trial for my client.
Mr. Scratch: You mean a jury trial?
Daniel Webster: I do! And if I can't win this case with a jury you'll have me, too. If two New Hampshire men aren't a match for the devil, we better give the country back to the Indians.
Jabez Stone: What do you have on your mind?
Daniel Webster: You, Jabez Stone. You and a lot of poor farmers hereabouts... all good men of the earth and in trouble because of you. Or am I wrong about those contracts?
Jabez Stone: Without me and my money they wouldn't have anything.
Daniel Webster: They'd have a good neighbor - and that's worth more than anything else... much, much more.
Daniel Webster: I'd fight ten thousand devils to save a New Hampshire man.
Daniel Webster: If two New Hampshire men aren't a match for the devil, we'd better give this country back to the Indians.
Mr. Scratch: [Jabez, after noticing that one of Mr. Scratch's victims is now the size of a fly, asks him how big their souls are] Oh, I see what you mean; why, they vary... Now, in your case, I could probably keep you in my vest pocket.
[Jabez Stone is examining Mr. Scratch's contract]
Jabez Stone: What does it mean here, about my soul?
Mr. Scratch: Why should that worry you? A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? No. This soul, *your* soul, are nothing against seven years of good luck. You'll have money and all that money can buy.
Jabez Stone: Money's a funny thing, Ma!
Ma Stone: I think it depends a lot on how you get it and how you spend it.
Daniel Webster: [to Jabez] You're as blind as a Burma bat, you and your gold pot! You and what you make of it!
Ma Stone: A man can always change things. That's what makes him different from the barnyard critters.
Daniel Webster: It is the eternal right of every man to raise his fist against his fate1
Jabez Stone: You promised me happiness, love, and friendship!
Mr. Scratch: Just a minute. I promised you money and all that money could buy. I don't recall any other obligations.
Jabez Stone: [about the hailstorm] Queer sort of weather we're having... queer like everything else.
Daniel Webster: What are you looking for, Colonel? What's your name?
Martin Van Buren Aldrich: Martin Van Buren Aldrich. My pa is the only Democrat in Cross Corners. He said you had horns and a tail, Mr. Webster, but I ain't seen them yet.
Daniel Webster: [laughs] You see, Martin, I only wear them when I'm in Washington. That's the trouble. But if you ever get down there, I'll be glad to show them to you.
Martin Van Buren Aldrich: Gee, would you, Mr. Webster? Honest?
Daniel Webster: Of course! And you tell your father for me, that we may be on opposite sides of the fence, but I'm always glad to hear of a man who holds to his own opinion. As long as the people do that, this country is all right.
Mr. Scratch: [whispering to Webster while he writes his speech] Listen, Black Daniel, you're wasting your time writing speeches like that. Why worry about the people and their problems? Think of your own. You want to be president of this country, don't you? And you ought to be! Inauguration Day parade: Bands playing, horses prancing, the sun shining on the stars and stripes waving in the breeze, crowds cheering 'Daniel Webster, President of the United States of America!' Don't be a fool. Stop bothering with that speech and get busy promoting yourself...
Daniel Webster: BE STILL!
Daniel Webster: Oh, it's you again. What do you want?
Mr. Scratch: Well, with the presidential election coming up, I thought I could be of some help, sir.
Daniel Webster: I'd rather see you on the side of the opposition.
Mr. Scratch: Oh, I'll be there, too.
Ma Stone: Well, thank the Lord you can always depend on New England for weather. We've got enough for the whole United States.
Jabez Stone: [seeing Belle in place of his regular nurse] You're not Dorothy...
Belle: [smiles] No. She's gone.
Jabez Stone: She can't be gone...
Belle: But she is. I have taken her place. Don't you remember? You wrote me a letter.
Jabez Stone: [reading it] It looks like my hand.
Belle: I have other recommendations, too, from a very good friend of yours.
Jabez Stone: Never mind. What's your name?
Jabez Stone: Belle.
Belle: Belle Dee.
Jabez Stone: Where are you from?
Belle: From over the mountain.
Daniel Stone: [riding Daniel Webster's buggy] Make them go faster, Mister!
Daniel Webster: They're not race horses, Daniel. They're good old friends of mine. I call them Constitution and Bill of Rights, the most dependable pair for long journeys. I've got one called Missouri Compromise, too, and then there's a Supreme Court - a fine, dignified horse, but you do have to push him now and then.
Daniel Stone: I'd like to see all your horses.
Daniel Webster: Maybe you can, sometime, Daniel. I'm a farmer, you know, and like to show my farm. There's something else I'd like to show you.
Daniel Stone: What's that, sir?
Daniel Webster: Well, it's high and it's wide and it goes a long way and there is a wind blowing through it and a blue roof over it - it's the hills up here and the rivers running south and the new States growing in the West.
Daniel Stone: Anybody can see that.
Daniel Webster: That's where you're wrong, Mr. Stone. There are people who live and die without ever seeing it. They can't see the country for the money in their pockets. Some think their state's the country, or the way they live is the country, and they're willing to split the country because of that. I hope you'll meet all those, when you're grown. You'll meet the fire-eaters and the Circassian beauties, that's part of the fair, to be sure. But if we had to depend on them, in a permanent way, the country would have stopped at the Allegheny mountains.
[in Jabez' empty mansion]
Belle: I see why you're here. You knew no one was coming.
Mary Stone: No, I didn't.
Belle: You're lying.
Mary Stone: Lying, to you? How could I.
Belle: Don't you know that you're in my house?
Mary Stone: I do, and you could show me the door. You would, too, if you weren't still hoping the guests might arrive.
Belle: You think you're so smart, Mrs. Stone. You wanted to be near Jabez. It looked like your big chance tonight, but you're wrong. You can't win him back. Not that way.
Mary Stone: That's MY problem.
Jabez Stone: What's the matter with you?
Miser Stevens: Are you afraid?
Jabez Stone: Afraid of what?
Miser Stevens: Of what happens when we die.
Jabez Stone: Are you crazy, man? We're buried, that's all.
Miser Stevens: But what becomes of our soul?
Jabez Stone: [agitated] Why should you fret about something that isn't there?
Miser Stevens: Don't say that. I know it is.
Jabez Stone: All right, so it's buried with you!
Miser Stevens: But what if one hasn't a soul anymore?
Jabez Stone: What's that? Well, what about it? Who cares anyhow!
Miser Stevens: I do. And I think you do, too.
Mr. Scratch: [reading from his list] Sherwin, Slaterly, Stevens - I can cross him off the list, he's an old customer...
[something like a moth flies out of his handkerchief toward Jabez]
Miser Stevens' Voice: [faint] Help me, Jabez Stone! Help me!
Jabez Stone: That's Miser Stevens' voice!
Mr. Scratch: [catching it] Miser Stevens' soul, I'm sorry for the disturbance.
Jabez Stone: But he isn't dead, he's dancing! He's in there!
Mr. Scratch: He was.
[Jabez runs into the ballroom and sees Stevens' body stretched out]
Mr. Scratch: In the midst of life, one really hates to close these long standing accounts. But, business is business.
Daniel Webster: I wish to cross-examine the witness...
Justice John Hathorne: There will be no cross-examination in this court. You may speak, if you like. But let me warn you, Mr. Webster - if you fail to convince us, then you, too, are doomed.
Justice John Hathorne: [whispering] Lost and gone... lost and gone...
The Jury: Drag him down with us...
Daniel Webster: BE STILL!