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He's equal to his function. Next in rank
Comes our sagacious friend, John Sercolacke;
None better and none safer in affairs,
Were it but given to ponder and devise
Beforehand what at every need to say ;
But should King Richard ask him on the sudden
What brought him there, confounded will he stand
Till livelier tongues from emptier heads have spoken;
Then on the morrow to a tittle know
What should have been his answer.

FATHER JOHN.

Lois de Vaux And master Blondel-Vatre have glib tongues.

ARTEVELDE.

Than Lois de Vaux there's no man sooner sees
Whatever at a glance is visible;
What is not, that he sees not, soon nor late.
Quick-witted is he, versatile, seizing points,
But never solving questions; vain he is—
It is his pride to see things on all sides
Which best to do he sets them on their corners.
Present before him arguments by scores
Bearing diversely on the affair in hand,
He'll see them all successively distinctly,
Yet never two of them can see together,
Or gather, blend, and balance what he sees
To make up one account; a mind it is
Accessible to reason's subtlest rays,
And many enter there, but none converge ;
It is an army with no general,
An arch without a key-stone.—Then the other

Good Martin Blondel. Vatre-he is rich
In nothing else but difficulties and doubts;
You shall be told the evil of your scheme,
But not the scheme that's better; he forgets
That policy, expecting not clear gain,
Deals ever in alternatives ; he's wise
In negatives, is skilful at erasures,
Expert in stepping backwards, an adept
At auguring eclipses ; but admit
His apprehensions and demand, what then?
And you shall find you've turn'd the blank leaf over.

FATHER JOHN.

Still three are left.

ARTEVELDE.

Three names, and nothing more. To please the towns that gave them birth they're sent, Not for their merits. Verily, Father John, I should not willingly invade your leisure, Or launch you on my now precarious fortunes ; But I am as a debtor against whom The writs are out-I'm driven

upon my

friends; Say, will you stead me?

FATHER JOHN.

With my best of service,
Such as it may be. To King Richard's court
I will set forth to-morrow.

ARTEVELDE.

Ever kind !
Of all my friends the faithfullest, as the first.
Early to-morrow then we'll treat in full
The matter of your mission. Now, good night.

FATHER JOHN.

Adieu till then, and peace be with your slumbers.

[Exit.

ARTEVELDE.

Their hour is yet to come.

What ho! Van Ryk !

Enter VAN RYK.
You're sure, Van Ryk, it has not yet transpired
That I am in the camp ?

VAN RYK.

Certain, my

lord.

ARTEVELDE.

Then come with me; we'll cast a casual eye
On them that keep the watch ;-though sooth to say,
I wish my day's work over,—to forget
This restless world and slumber like a babe ;
For I am very tired-yea, tired at heart.

VAN RYK.

Your spirits were wont to bear you up more freshly.
If I might speak, my lord, my humble mind,
You have not, since your honour'd lady's death,
In such a sovereignty possess'd yourself
As you were wont to say that all men should.
Your thoughts have been more inwardly directed,
And led by fancies : should I be too bold
And let my duty lag behind my love,
To put you thus in mind, I crave your pardon.

ARTEVELDE.

That was a loss, Van Ryk; that was a loss.
The love betwixt us was not as the flush
And momentary kindling in warm youth;
But marriage and what term of time was given

my

Brought it an hourly increase, stored for Heaven.
Well-I am now the sport of circumstance,
Driven from my anchorage ;-yet deem not thou
That I soul surrender to the past
In chains and bondage ;—that it is not so,
Bear witness for me long and busy days,
Which jostling and importunate affairs
So push and elbow, they but seldom leave
Shy midnight uninvaded. No, Van Ryk;
At eve returning wearied to my tent,
If sometimes I may seem to stray in thought,
Seeking what is not there, the mood is brief,
The operative function within call,
Nor know I that for any little hour
The weal of Flanders (if I may presume
To hook it on my hours) is yielded up
To idle thought or vacant retrospect.
But now this body, exigent of rest,
Will needs put in a claim. One round we'll take,
And then to bed.

VAN RYK.

My lord, you must be tired.
I am too bold to trouble you so late
With my unprofitable talk.

ARTEVELDE.

Not so;

Your talk is always welcome. There within
You'll find a wardrobe, with some varlets' cloaks
For use at need; take one about yourself,
And meet me with another at the gate.

[Exit Van Ryk. A serviceable, faithful, thoughtful friend,

Is old Van Ryk,

,-a man of humble heart,
And yet with faculties and gifts of sense
Which place him justly on no lowly level-
Why should I say a lowlier than my own,
Or otherwise than as an equal use him?
That with familiarity respect
Doth slacken, is a word of common use.
I never found it so.

ACT II.

SCENE I.The interior of the State Pavilion.—Van ARTEVELDE

seated at the head of his Council, with Attendants. The French Herald and SIR FLEUREANT OF HEURLÉE. ARTEVELDE rises to receive the Herald and reseats himself.

ARTEVELDE.

France, I perceive, Sir Herald, owns at length
The laws of polity and civil use,
A recognition which I hardly hoped ;
For when the messenger that late I sent
In amity, with friendly missives charged,
Was sent to prison, I deem'd some barbarous tribe,
That knew no usages of Christian lands,
Had dispossess'd you and usurp'd the realm.

SIR FLEUREANT.

My lord, you have your messenger again.

ARTEVELDE.

Ay sir, but not through courtesy I think,

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