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Moreover, sirs, the taxes of the Earl
Were not so heavy, but that, being rich,
Ye might have borne them; they were not the half
Of what ye since have paid to wage this war ;
And yet had these been double that were half,
The double would have grieved you less in peace
Than but the half in war. Bethink
What were the fowage and the subsidies
When bread was but four mites that's now a groat ?
All which considered, sirs, I counsel you
That ye accept this honourable peace,
For mercifully is the Earl inclined,
And ye may surely deem of them he takes
A large and liberal number will be spared,
And many here who least expect his love
May find him free and gracious. Sirs, what say ye?
First, if it be your pleasure, hear me speak.
[Great tumult, and cries of Flanders.' What, sirs, not hear me? was it then for this Ye made me your chief captain yesternight, To snare me in a trust, whereof I bear The name and danger only, not the power?
[The tumult increases. Sirs, if we needs must come to blows, so be it ; For I have friends amongst you who can deal them.
SIR SIMON (aside to SIR GUISEBERT). Had Occo now been here ! but lacking him It must not come to that.
My loving friends, Let us behave like brethren as we are,
And not like listed combatants. Ho, peace!
Hear this young bachelor of high renown,
Who writes himself your captain since last night,
When a few score of varlets, being drunk,
In mirth and sport so dubbed him. Peace, sirs ! hear
Peace let it be, if so ye will; if not,
We are as ready as yourselves for blows.
Speak, master Philip, speak, and you'll be heard.
I thank you, sirs ; I knew it could not be
But men like you must listen to the truth,
Sirs, ye have heard these knights discourse to you
of your ill fortunes, telling on their fingers
The worthy leaders ye have lately lost :
True, they were worthy men, most gallant chiefs;
And ill would it become us to make light
Of the great loss we suffer by their fall :
They died like heroes; for no recreant step
Had e'er dishonour'd them, no stain of fear,
No base despair, no cowardly recoil :
They had the hearts of freemen to the last,
And the free blood that bounded in their veins
Was shed for freedom with a liberal joy.
But had they guess’d, or could they but have dream'd
The great examples which they died to show
Should fall so flat, should shine so fruitless here,
That men should say “For liberty these died,
Wherefore let us be slaves,'—had they thought this,
Oh, then, with what an agony of shame,
Their blushing faces buried in the dust,
Had their great spirits parted hence for heaven!
What? shall we teach our chroniclers henceforth
To write that in five bodies were contained
The sole brave hearts of Ghent! which five defunct,
The heartless town, by brainless counsel led,
Deliver'd up her keys, stript off her robes,
And so with all humility besought
Her haughty lord that he would scourge her lightly!
It shall not be—no, verily! for now,
Thus looking on you as ye stand before me,
Mine eye can single out full many a man
Who lacks but opportunity to shine
As great and glorious as the chiefs that fell.--
But lo! the Earl is mercifully minded!
And surely if we, rather than revenge
The slaughter of our bravest, cry them shame,
And fall upon our knees, and say we've sinned,
lord the Earl have mercy on us, And pardon us our letch for liberty ! What pardon it shall be, if we know not, Yet Ypres, Courtray, Grammont, Bruges, they know; For never can those towns forget the day When by the hangman's hands five hundred men, The bravest of each guild, were done to death In those base butcheries that he called pardons. And did it seal their pardons, all this blood ? Had they the Earl's good love from that time forth ? Oh, sirs ! look round
be deceived ; Forgiveness may be spoken with the tongue, Forgiveness may be written with the pen,
But think not that the parchment and mouth pardon
Will e'er eject old hatreds from the heart.
There's that betwixt you been which men remember
Till they forget themselves, till all's forgot,
Till the deep sleep falls on them in that bed
From which no morrow's mischief knocks them up.
There's that betwixt you been which you yourselves,
Should ye forget, would then not be yourselves ;
For must it not be thought some base men's souls
Have ta’en the seats of yours and turn'd you out,
If in the coldness of a craven heart
Ye should forgive this bloody-minded man
For all his black and murderous monstrous crimes ?
Think of your mariners, three hundred men,
After long absence in the Indian seas
Upon their peaceful homeward voyage bound,
And now, all dangers conquer'd as they thought,
Warping the vessels up their native stream,
Their wives and children waiting them at home
In joy, with festal preparation made, -
Think of these mariners, their eyes torn out,
Their hands chopped off, turn'd staggering into Ghent,
To meet the blasted eye-sight of their friends ?
And was not this the Earl? 'Twas none but he!
No Hauterive of them all had dared to do it,
Save at the express instance of the Earl.
And now what asks he? Pardon me, sir knights ;
[To GRUTT and BETTE.
I had forgotten, looking back and back
From felony to felony foregoing,
This present civil message which ye bring :
Three hundred citizens to be surrendered
Up to that mercy which I tell
ofThat mercy which your mariners proved—which steep'd Courtray and Ypres, Grammont, Bruges, in blood ! Three hundred citizens,-a secret listNo man knows who—not one can say he's safe— Not one of you so humble but that still The malice of some secret enemy May whisper him to death and hark-look to it! Have some of you seem'd braver than their fellows, Their courage
is their surest condemnation; They are marked men—and not a man stands here But may be so.-Your pardon, sirs, again!
[To GRUTT and BETTE. You are the pickers and the choosers here, And doubtless you're all safe, ye think-ha! ha! But we have pick'd and chosen, too, sir knightsWhat was the law for I made yesterdayWhat! is it you that would deliver up 'Three hundred citizens to certain death? Ho! Van den Bosch ! have at these traitors-ha
[Stabs GRUTT who falls.
VAN DEN BOSCH.
Die, treasonable dog—is that enough?
Down, felon, and plot treacheries in hell.
[The White-Hoods draw their swords, with loud cries of Treason,'
'Artevelde,''Ghent,' and 'The Chaperons Blancs.' A citizen of the other party, who in the former part of the scene had unfurled the Earl's banner, now throws it down and fies; several others are following him, and the Aldermen and Deans, some of whom had been dropping off towards the end of Artevelde's speech, now quit the platform with precipitation. VAN AESWYN is crossed by VAN DEN Bosch.