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Oh! what a moody moralist you grow !
Yet in the even-down letter you are right;
For Ursel, who is weatherwise, says always
That when the sun sets red with the wind south
The morrow shall be stormy. What of that ?
Oh! now I know; the fish won't take the bait.
'Tis marvellous the delight you take in fishing!
Were I to hang upon a river's edge
So tediously, angling, angling still,
The fiend that watches our impatient fits
Would sometime tempt me to jump headlong in.
And you—you cannot quit it for a day !
Have I not read your sadness ?
Have you so ! Oh! you are cunning to divine men's thoughts. But come what may to-morrow, we have now A tranquil hour, which let us entertain As though it were the latest of its kind.
Why should we think it so ?
Sweet Adriana, I trust that many such may come to you ; But for myself, I feel as if life's stream Were shooting o'er some verge, to make a short, An angry and precipitate descent, Thenceforward much tormented on its way.
What can have fill’d you with such sad surmises ? You were not wont to speak despondently.
Nor do I now despond. All my life long
I have beheld with most respect the man
Who knew himself and knew the ways before him,
And from amongst them chose considerately,
With a clear foresight, not a blindfold courage,
And, having chosen, with a steadfast mind
Pursued his purposes. I trained myself
To take my place in high or low estate
As one of that scant order of mankind.
Wherefore, though I indulge no more the dream
Of living as I hoped I might have lived,
A life of temperate and thoughtful joy,
Yet I repine not, and from this time forth
Will cast no look behind.
Oh Artevelde; What change hath come since morning! Oh! how soon The words and looks which seem'd all confidence, To me at least—how soon are they recalled ! But let them be—it matters not; I, too, Will cast no look behind-Oh, if I should, My heart would never hold its wretchedness.
My gentle Adriana, you run wild
In false conjectures; hear me to the end.
If hitherto we have not said we loved,
Yet hath the heart of each declared its love
By all the tokens wherein love delights.
We heretofore have trusted in each other,
Too wholly have we trusted to have need
Of words or vows, pledges or protestations.
Let not such trust be hastily dissolved.
I trusted not. I hoped that I was loved,
Hoped and despair'd, doubted and hoped again,
Till this day, when I first breathed freelier,
Daring to trust—and now-Oh God, my heart !
It was not made to bear this agony-
Tell me you love me, or you love me not.
I love thee, dearest, with as large a love
As e'er was compass’d in the breast of man.
Hide then those tears, beloved, where thou wilt,
And find a resting-place for that so wild
And troubled heart of thine; sustain it here,
And be its flood of passion wept away.
What was it that you said then? If you love, Why have you thus tormented me?
Be calm ; And let me warn thee, ere thy choice be fixed, What fate thou mayst be wedded to with me. Thou hast beheld me living heretofore As one retired in staid tranquillity : The dweller in the mountains, on whose ear The accustom'd cataract thunders unobserved ; The seaman who sleeps sound upon the deck Nor hears the loud lamenting of the blast Nor heeds the weltering of the plangent wave,These have not lived more undisturb'd than I:
But build not upon this; the swollen stream
May shake the cottage of the mountaineer
And drive him forth; the seaman roused at length
Leaps from his slumber on the wave-wash'd deck ;
And now the time comes fast when here in Ghent
He who would live exempt from injuries
Of armed men, must be himself in arms.
This time is near for all, -nearer for me :
I will not wait upon necessity
And leave myself no choice of vantage ground,
But rather meet the times where best I may,
And mould and fashion them as best I can.
Reflect then that I soon may be embark'd
In all the hazards of these troublesome times,
And in your own free choice take or resign me.
Oh Artevelde, my choice is free no more.
Be mine, all mine, let good or ill betide.
In war or peace, in sickness or in health,
In trouble and in danger and in distress,
Through time and through eternity I'll love thee ;
In youth and age, in life and death I'll love thee,
Here and hereafter, with all my soul and strength.
So God accept me as I never cease
From loving and adoring thee next Him;
And oh, may He pardon me if so betray'd
By mortal frailty as to love thee more.
I fear, my Adriana, 'tis a rash
And passionate resolve that thou hast made ;
But how should I admonish thee, myself
So great a winner by thy desperate play.
Heaven is o'er all, and unto Heaven I leave it.
That which hath made me weak shall make me strong,
Weak to resist, strong to requite thy love;
And if some tax thou payest for that love,
Thou shalt receive it from Love's exchequer.
Farewell ; I'm waited for ere this.
Farewell. But take my signet-ring and give me thine, That I may know when I have slept and waked This was no false enchantment of a dream.
My signet-ring, I have it not to-day:
But in its stead wear this around thy neck.
And now, my Adriana, my betrothed,
Give Love a good night's rest within thy heart
And bid him wake to-morrow calm and strong.
SCENE XI.-BRUGES.-An Apartment in the Palace of the
Earl of Flanders.
The EARL and SIR WALTER D'ARLON.
I marvel, my good lord, you take that knave
So freely to your counsels.
Against my enemies secures him mine.
His countrymen of Ghent can ne'er forgive him ;