Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CAPTAIN.

Both mean and notable, and rich and poor,
Have they solicited, assuring all
That when it shall be heard what terms of peace
Are offer'd, they will hug the messengers
That after painful travail for their love
Have brought them such good news.

ARTEVELDE.

I'll swear they will. But what? Thou look'st not over cheerily; Think'st thou the knights have made some way then, ha?

CAPTAIN.

The deacons of eight crafts have sided with them,
And many

of the aldermen.

ARTEVELDE.

Ay, truly ?

CAPTAIN.

And all the men of lineage.

ARTEVELDE.

That's as thou hearest.

CAPTAIN.

The citizens pass'd by me in the street
By scores and hundreds, and of them I saw
The greater part, 'twas plain, would stand against us.

ARTEVELDE.

Build

up, and then pull down, and then build up,And always in the ruins some are

-Well?

CAPTAIN.

And I'm afeard, though loth I am to think it,

A few amongst your guard have fallen off
At seeing us outnumber'd thus.

ARTEVELDE.

Is't so ?
Why, wherefore should I wish that it were not ?
The more faint hearts fall off the better, sir;
So fear shall purge us to a sound condition.

SCENE IV.The Dwelling-house of the Lord of Occo.

Occo and VAN A ESWYN.

OCCO.

The mariners, then, are for us?

AESWYN.

They are ours.

OCCO.

And these are of the curriers that thou bring'st me?

AESWYN.

The deacons of that craft—they're backward still:
They're ever harping upon Artevelde,
Who told their worships when they did him homage
If his poor humour govern'd, nothing else
But leathern jerkins should be worn in Ghent.

OCCO.

We'll deal with them the same as with the fullers ; So bring them in.

[Exit Van Aeswyn.

Well done, Sir Curriers ! These precious moments must be given to you ! The devil curry you for senseless boors !

Re-enter VAN A ESWYN with the two Craftsmen. Good-morrow, masters-Ha!

my

valued friend,

Jacob Van Ryk; and if my eyes see true,
Master-

AESWYN.

Van Muck.

OCCO.

Tush, tush, sir! tell not me.
Have I forgotten my old friend Van Muck,
Or any of my friends ?—though time is short,
And we must scant our greetings. Worthy sirs,
We're in a perilous predicament,
And I should take no step without advice.
Rash were it, and a tempting Providence,
Should I proceed without consulting you.
We see, sirs, we must see—we can't but own,
That we have no choice left us but of

peace
Or else destruction. It is come to that.
Then if we must be subject to the Earl,
I will confess I'm not so subtle-witted
To see much difference 'twixt this hour and that,
The going over to him now at once
With flesh upon our bones, or holding back
Till famine wastes it or steel hacks it off :
I see no difference.

VAN MUCK.

Truly, sir, nor I.

OCCO,

your ear!

Aye, but there is a difference, my friends,
Which I forgot. For, hark you

in
Those who go over but when all go over,
If they escape from pains and penalties,
Can scarcely claim much merit with the Earl ;
But they who find a guidance for themselves,

Who take a step or two before the herd,
Whilst the will's free, who lead and do not follow-
These men have claims; they have a right to say,
Reward us for our voluntary service;
Nor will they be unanswer'd, that I know:
• First serve the first,' is what they say at Bruges.

VAN RYK.

'Tis a good proverb, sir, for early men,
And we have ne'er been slack in things of credit;
But we have scruples here. We see it thus :
If we should but shout peace with half the town,
The Earl would scarce distinguish us from others ;
If, on the other hand, we use our weapons
Against our friends, they'd call us renegades,
And blacken us for false and treacherous knaves.

OCCO.

Why look ye now; too surely, should ye shout,
And fail in action, 'twere no singular service ;
There's no great guerdon were deserved by that;
The clerkships of the wards (which after peace
Must be new filled) would not be won by shouts :
But where's the treachery? My worthy friends,
Look at the matter simply as it is :
Here is a town beleaguer'd in such wise
That it must needs surrender upon terms :
Then come a knot of desperate-minded men,
Who, deeming the rendition gives them up
To punishment, make head against the rest :
These think no shame to say that all must die
To save their one-two-three-half-dozen heads
From certain hazards. Why, if fall they must

And they would rather 'twere by steel than cord,
Let them assail us and let us be men.
Are we not free to choose twixt peace and war ?
They—they it is that are so treacherous—they,
Who would betray a city to destruction
For private and particular ends of theirs.
Then let us rally round the public weal
And link our names with that.

VAN RYK.

It must be own'd The city's weal doth loudly call upon us ; But some of us there are who recently Swore fealty to Artevelde.

OCCO.

What then ? That was but for the war-not knowing then That it was ended by your deputies And peace concluded : answer not so idly. Swore ye not fealty to the Earl before ? Come, come, my friends—we're all as one, I see ; And let me tell you that the whole of Ghent, Almost the whole, is minded like yourselves. Strange is it men shall meditate and muse In secret all alike, and show no sign Till a blow's struck, and then they speak it out, And each man finds in each his counterpart ; And, as a sluice were open'd, all shall rush To find the self-same level, and pour on To the same end. But I forgot, my friends ; We have to think of what particular mark Should first be aim'd at when the blow is struck.

« AnteriorContinuar »