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Times are sore changed I see; there's none in Ghent
That answers to the name of Artevelde.
Thy father did not carp nor question thus
When Ghent invoked his aid. The days have been
When not a citizen drew breath in Ghent
But freely would have died in Freedom's cause.
With a good name thou christenest the cause.
True, to make choice of despots is some freedom,
The only freedom for this turbulent town,
Rule her who may. And in my father's time
We still were independent, if not free;
And wealth from independence, and from wealth
Enfranchisement will partially proceed.
The cause, I grant thee, Van den Bosch, is good ;
And were I link'd to earth no otherwise
But that my whole heart centred in myself,
I could have toss'd
poor life to play with,
Taking no second thought. But as things are,
I will revolve the matter warily,
And send thee word betimes of
Betimes it must be; for some two hours hence
I meet the Deans, and ere we separate
Our course must be determined.
In two hours,
If I be for you, I will send this ring
In token I have so resolved. Farewell.
Philip Van Artevelde, a greater man
Than ever Ghent beheld we'll make of thee,
If thou be bold enough to try this venture.
God give thee heart to do so. Fare thee well.
(Exit VAN DEN Bosch.
Is it vain-glory which thus whispers me
That 'tis ignoble to have led my life
In idle meditations—that the times
Demand me, echoing my father's name?
Oh! what a fiery heart was his ! such souls
Whose sudden visitations daze the world,
Vanish like lightning, but they leave behind
A voice that in the distance far away
Wakens the slumbering ages. Oh! my
Thy life is eloquent, and more persuades
Unto dominion than thy death deters;
For that reminds me of a debt of blood
Descended with my patrimony to me,
Whose paying off would clear my soul's estate.
Was some one here? I thought I heard you speak.
I surely thought I heard you, Just now, as I came in.
Why then I trust the orator your tongue
Found favour with the audience your ears ;
But this poor orator of mine finds none,
For all at once I see they droop and flag.
Will you not listen? I've a tale to tell.
My fairest, sweetest, best beloved sister!
Who in the whole world would protect thy youth
If I were gone?
Gone! where? what ails you, Philip?
Nowhere, my love. Well, what hast thou to tell ?
When I came home, on entering the hall
I stared to see the household all before me.
There was the steward sitting on the bench
His head upon his hands between his knees.
In the oak chair old Ursel sate upright
Swaying her body—80—from side to side,
Whilst maids and varlets stood disconsolate round.
What cheer? quoth I. But not a soul replied.
Is Philip well? Yea, madam, God be praised.
Then what dost look so gloomy for, my
friend? Alack a-day, the stork! then all chimed in,
The stork, the stork, the stork! What, he is sick ?
No, madam; sick !--he's gone—he's flown away.
Why then, quoth I, God speed him; speaking so
To raise their hearts, but they were all-too-heavy.
And, Philip, to say truth, I could have wish'd
This had not happen'd.
I remember now,
I thought I miss'd his clatter all night long.
Old Ursel says the sign proved never false
In all her time,—and she's so very old !
And then she says that Roger was esteem'd
The wisest stork in Ghent, and flew
But twice before—the first time in the night
Before my father took that office up
Which proved so fatal in the end, and then
The second time, the night before he died.
Sooner or later, something, it is certain,
Must bring men to their graves. Our every act
Is death's forerunner. It is but the date
That puzzles us to fix. My father lived
In that ill-omen'd office many a year,
And men had augur'd he must die at last
Without the stork to aid. If this be all
The wisest of his tribe can prophesy,
I am as wise as he. Enough of this.
Thou hast been visiting thy friend to-day, —
The Lady Adriana.
I come thence: She is impatiently expecting you.
Can she with such impatience flatter one
So slothful and obscure as Artevelde?
Clara, know I not your sex ?
Is she not one of you? Are you not all,
All from the shade averse ? all
prone To make
idol of the million's idol ? Had I been one of these rash White-Hood chiefs Who live by military larceny, Then might I well believe that she would wait Impatiently my coming.
There you're wrong; She never loved the White-Hoods.
She were wise In that unloving humour to abide : To wed a White-Hood, other ills apart, Would put in jeopardy her fair possessions. Fatal perchance it might be to her wealth;. Fatal it surely would be to her weal. Farewell her peace, if such a one she loved.
Go ask her, Philip,-ask her whom she loves,