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To speak with me!
I marvel on what errand Van den Bosch
Can seek Van Artevelde. Say I attend him.
Will you not stay?
No, no, my son; farewell ! The very name of men like Van den Bosch
SCENE VI.-The Market-place, at the entrance of the
The Provost of the Clothiers with several principal Burghers
and the Chaplain of that craft.
Him! did ye say? Choose him for Captain ? So!
Then look about you in the morning, friends,
For ye shall find him stirring before noon;
The latest time o’the day is twelve o’the clock;
Then comes he forth his study with his book,
And looking off and on like parson preaching,
Delivers me his orders.
Nay, Provost, nay;
He is a worthy and a mild good man,
And we have need of such.
He's what you say ; But 'tis not mildness of the man that rules Makes the mild regimen.
Who's to rule the fierce ? *I prithee, Van den Bosch, cut not that throat; · Roast not this man alive, or for my sake, • If roast he must, not at so slow a fire;
Nor yet so hastily impale this other, • But give him time to ruminate and foretaste
So terrible an end.' Mild Philip thus Shall read his lecture of humanity.
Truly the tender mercies of the weak,
As of the wicked, are but cruel. Well;
Pass we within; the most of us are here,
And Heaven direct us to a just conclusion !
[Exeunt all but two Burghers.
The scaffold, as I see, is newly wet;
Who was the last that suffer'd ?
What, to-day ?
I know not; but the brave Van Borselen's blood
(God rest his soul !) can scarcely yet be dry,
That suffer'd yesterday.
Ay; the treason of the times; the being rich;
His wealth was wanted.
Hath he not an heir ?
A bold one if he claim the inheritance.
Come, pass we in.
SCENE VII.—The House Van Artevelde.
ARTEVELDE and VAN DEN Bosch.
This is a mighty matter, Van den Bosch,
And much to be revolved ere it be answer'd.
The people shall elect thee with one voice.
I will ensure the White-Hoods, and the rest
Will eagerly accept thy nomination,
So to be rid of some that they like less.
Thy name is honour'd both of rich and poor;
For all are mindful of the glorious rule
Thy father bore, when Flanders, prosperous then,
From end to end obey'd him as one town.
They may remember it—and, Van den Bosch,
May I not too bethink me of the end
To which this people brought my noble father?
They gorged the fruits of his good husbandry,
Till drunk with long prosperity, and blind
With too much fatness, they tore up the root
From which their common weal had sprung and flourish'd.
Nay, Master Philip, let the past be past.
Here on the doorstead of my father's house
The blood of his they spilt is seen no more.
But when I was a child I saw it there;
For so long as my widow-mother lived
Water came never near the sanguine stain.
She loved to show it me, and then with awe,
But hoarding still the purpose of revenge,
I heard the tale—which like a daily prayer
Repeated to a rooted feeling grew-
How long he fought, how falsely came like friends
The villains Guisebert Grutt and Simon Bette,
All the base murder of the one by many.
Even such a brutal multitude as they
Who slew my father-yea, who slew their own,
(For like one had he ruled the parricides)
Even such a multitude thou’dst have me govern.
Why, what if Jacques Artevelde was kill'd?
He had his reign, and that for many a year,
And a great glory did he gain thereby.
And as for Guisebert Grutt and Simon Bette,
Their breath is in their nostrils as was his.
If you be as stout-hearted as your father,
And mindful of the villanous trick they play'd him,
Their hour of reckoning is well nigh come.
Of that, and of this base false-hearted league
They're making with the Earl, these two to us
Shall give account.
The golden bowl that's broken at the fountain,
Or mend the wheel that's broken at the cistern,
Or twist again the silver cord that's loosed.
Yea, life for life, vile bankrupts as they are,
Their worthless lives for his of countless price,
Is their whole wherewithal to pay their debt.
Yet retribution is a goodly thing,
And it were well to wring the payment from them
Even to the utmost drop of their heart's blood.
Then will I call the people to the Square
And speak for your election.
Not so fast. Your vessel, Van den Bosch, hath felt the storm : She rolls dismasted in an ugly swell, And you would make a jury-mast of me Whereon to spread the tatters of your canvas. And what am I ?—Why I am as the oak Which stood apart far down the vale of life, Growing retired beneath a quiet sky. Wherefore should this be added to the wreck ?
I pray you, speak it in the Burghers' tongue;
I lack the scholarship to talk in tropes.
The question, to be plain, is briefly this :
Shall I, who, chary of tranquillity,
Not busy in this factious city's broils
Nor frequent in the market-place, eschew'd
The even battle,-shall I join the rout?