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But yesterday ? And, at the trumpet sound,
Bow like some unknown mercenary’s flag
And lick the soiled grass 2 No, no, my friend,
I would not, I, be pardon'd in the heap,
And bless indemnity with all that scum,_
Those men I mean, who on my shoulders propp'd
Their weak rebellion, winning me with lies,
And pitying forsooth my many wrongs;
Poor self-deceived wretches, who must think
Each one himself a king in embryo,
Because some dozen vassals cried—my lord'
Cowards, who never knew their little hearts,
Till flurried danger held the mirror up,
And then they own'd themselves without a blush,
Curling, like spaniels, round my father's feet.
Such things deserted me and are forgiven,
While I, less guilty, am an outcast still,
And will be, for I love such fair disgrace.
Sigifred. I know the clear truth; so would Otho see,
For he is just and noble. Fain would I
Be pleader for you—
Ludolph. He'll hear none of it;
You know his temper, hot, proud, obstinate;
Endanger not yourself so uselessly.
I will encounter his thwart spleen myself,
To-day, at the Duke Conrad’s, where he keeps
His crowded state after the victory,
There will I be, a most unwelcome guest,
And parley with him, as a son should do,
Who doubly loathes a father's tyranny;
Tell him how feeble is that tyranny;
How the relationship of father and son
Is no more valid than a silken leash
Where lions tug adverse, if love grow not
From interchanged love through many years.
Ay, and those turreted Franconian walls,
Like to a jealous casket, hold my pearl—
My fair Auranthe ' Yes, I will be there.
Sigifred. Be not so rash; wait till his wrath shall pass,
Until his royal spirit softly ebbs
Self-influenced ; then, in his morning dreams
He will forgive thee, and awake in grief
To have not thy good morrow. -
Ludolph. Yes, to-day
I must be there, while her young pulses beat
Among the new-plumed minions of the war.
Have you seen her of late 2 No 2 Auranthe,
Franconia’s fair sister, 'tis I mean.
She should be paler for my troublous days—
And there it is—my father's iron lips
Have sworn divorcement 'twixt me and my right.
Sigifred (aside). Auranthe' I had hoped this whim had
Ludolph. And, Sigifred, with all his love of justice,
When will he take that grandchild in his arms,
That, by my love I swear, shall soon be his 2
This reconcilement is impossible,
For see—but who are these ?
Sigifred. They are messengers
From our great emperor; to you, I doubt not,
For couriers are abroad to seek you out.
Enter THEODoRE and GonFRED.
Theodore. Seeing so many vigilant eyes explore
The province to invite your highness back
To your high dignities, we are too happy.
Gonfred. We have eloquence to color justly
The emperor's anxious wishes.
Ludolph. Go. I follow you.
[Ereunt THEODORE and GoNFRED,
I play the prude: it is but venturing—
Why should he be so earnest ? Come, my friend,
Let us to Friedburg castle.
A C T I I.
Scene I.-An antechamber in the Castle.
Enter LUDolph and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. No more advices, no more cautioning;
I leave it all to fate—to any thing !
I cannot square my conduct to time, place,
Or circumstance ; to me 'tis all a mist |
Sigifred. I say no more.
Ludolph. It seems I am to wait
Here in the anteroom;-that may be a trifle.
You see now how I dance attendance here,
Without that tyrant temper, you so blame,
Snapping the rein. You have medicin’d me
With good advices; and I here remain,
In this most honorable anteroom,
Your patient scholar.
Sigifred. Do not wrong me, Prince.
By Heavens, I’d rather kiss Duke Conrad's slipper,
When in the morning he doth yawn with pride,
Than see you humbled but a half-degree t
Truth is, the Emperor would fain dismiss
The Nobles ere he sees you.
Enter GonFRED from the Council-room.
Ludolph. Well, sir! what Gonfred. Great honor to the Prince 1 The Emperor, Hearing that his brave son had reappeared, Instant dismiss'd the Council from his sight, As Jove fans off the clouds. Even now they pass. E acit.
[Enter the Nobles from the Council-room. They cross the Stage, bowing with respect to LUDOLPH, he frowning on them. ConFAD follows. Ezeunt Nobles.
Ludolph. Not the discolored poisons of a fen,
Which he, who breathes, feels warning of his death,
Could taste so nauseous to the bodily sense,
As these prodigious sycophants disgust
The soul’s fine palate.
Conrad. Princely Ludolph, hail
Welcome, thou younger sceptre to the realm
Strength to thy virgin crownet’s golden buds,
That they, against the winter of thy sire,
May burst, and swell, and flourish round thy brows,
Maturing to a weighty diadem'
Yet be that hour far off; and may he live,
Who waits for thee, as the chapp'd earth for rain.
Set my life's star ! I have lived long enough,
Since under my glad roof, propitiously,
Father and son each other re-possess.
Ludolph. Fine wording, Duke' but words could never yet
Forestall the fates; have you not learnt that yet 2
Let me look well: your features are the same ;
Your gait the same ; your hair of the same shade ;
As one I knew some passed weeks ago,
Who sung far different notes into mine ears.
I have mine own particular comments on’t ;
You have your own perhaps.
Conrad. My gracious Prince,
All men may err. In truth I was deceived
In your great father’s nature, as you were.
Had I known that of him I have since known,
And what you soon will learn, I would have turn’d
My sword to my own throat, rather than held
Its threatening edge against a good King's quiet:
Or with one word fever'd you, gentle Prince,
Who seem'd to me, as rugged times then went,
Indeed too much oppress'd. May I be bold
To tell the Emperor you will haste to him
Ludolph. Your Dukedom's privilege will grant so much.
He's very close to Otho, a tight leech
Your hand—I go Ha! here the thunder comes
Sullen against the wind ' If in two angry brows
My safety lies, then Sigifred, I’m safe.
Enter OTHo and CoNRAD.
Otho. Will you make Titan play the lackey-page
To chattering pigmies 7 I would have you know
That such neglect of our high Majesty
Annuls all feel of kindred. What is son,
Or friend—or brother—or all ties of blood,
When the whole kingdom, centred in ourself,
Is rudely slighted 2 Who am I to wait
By Peter's chair I have upon my tongue
A word to fright the proudest spirit here !—
Death !—and slow tortures to the hardy fool,
Who dares take such large charter from our smiles'
Conrad, we would be private Sigifred'
Off! And none pass this way on pain of death !
[Ereunt CoNRAD and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. This was but half expected, my good sire,
Yet I am grieved at it, to the full height,
As though my hopes of favor had been whole.
Otho. How you indulge yourself! What can you hope for 2
Ludolph. Nothing, my liege, I have to hope for nothing.
I come to greet you as a loving son,
And then depart, if I may be so free,
Seeing that blood of yours in my warm veins
Has not yet mitigated into milk.
Otho. What would you, sir?
Ludolph. A lenient banishment ;
So please you let me unmolested pass
This Conrad's gates, to the wide air again.
I want no more. A rebel wants no more.
Otho. And shall I let a rebel loose again
To muster kites and eagles 'gainst my head 2
No, obstinate boy, you shall be caged up,
Served with harsh food, with scum for Sunday-drink.