Изображения страниц

To teach poor girls and work within my chamber,
With mine own thoughts, and all the gentle angels
Which glance about my dreams at morning-tide ;
Then I should be as happy as the birds
Which sing at my bower window. Once I longed
To be beloved,—now would they but forget me!
Most vile I must be, or they could not hate me!
Isen. They are of this world, thou art not, poor

Therefore they hate thee, as they did thy betters.

Eliz. But, Lewis, nurse?

He, child ? he is thy knight;
Espoused from childhood : thou hast a claim upon him.
One that thou ’lt need, alas !—though, I remember-
'Tis fifteen years agone—when in one cradle
We laid two fair babes for a marriage token;
And when your lips met, then you smiled, and twined
Your little limbs together.—Pray the Saints
That token stand !—He calls thee love and sister,
And brings thee gewgaws from the wars ; that's much!
At least he's thine if thou love him.

If I love him? What is this love? Why, is he not my brother And I his sister? Till these weary wars, The one of us without the other never Did weep or laugh: what is 't should change us now? You shake your head and smile: Isen.

Go to; the chafe Comes not by wearing chains but feeling them.

Eliz. Alas! here comes a knight across the court; O, hide me, nurse! What ’s here? this door is fast.

Isen. Nay, 'tis a friend: he brought my princess hither,
Walter of Varila ; I feared him once-
He used to mock our state, and say, good wine
Should want no bush, and that the cage was gay,
But that the bird must sing before he praised it.
Yet he's a kind heart, while his bitter tongue
Awes these court popinjays at times to manners.
He will smile sadly too, when he meets my maiden ;
And once he said, he was your liegeman sworn,
Since my lost mistress weeping, to his charge
Trusted the babe sheasaw no more.—God help us !

Eliz. How did my mother die, nurse?
Isen. She died, my child.

But how? Why turn away?
Too long I've guessed at some dread mystery
I may not hear: and in my restless dreams,
Night after night, sweeps by a frantic rout
Of grinning fiends, fierce horses, bodiless hands,
Which clutch at one to whom my spirit yearns
As to a mother. There's some fearful tie
Between me and that spirit-world, which God
Brands with His terrors on my troubled mind.
Speak ! tell me, nurse ! is she in heaven or hell ?
Isen. God knows, my child: there are masses for her

soul, Each day in every Zingar minster sung.

Eliz. But was she holy ?-Died she in the Lord ?

Isen. (weeps.) Oh, God! my child! And if I told

thee all, How could'st thou mend it ? Eliz.

Mend it?' Oh, my Saviour ! I'd die a saint ! Win heaven for her by prayers, and build great minsters, Chantries, and hospitals for her ; wipe out By mighty deeds our race's guilt and shameBut thus, poor witless orphan! (Weeps.)

Count Walter enters. Wal. Ah! my princess ! accept your liegeman's knee; Down, down, rheumatic flesh! Eliz. Ah! Count Walter! you are too tall to kneel to

little girls. Wal. What? shall two hundred weight of hypocrisy bow down to his four-inch wooden saint, and the same weight of honesty not worship his four-foot live one ? And I have a jest for you, shall make my small queen merry and wise.

Isen. You shall jest long before she 's merry.
Wal. Ah! dowers and dowagers again! The money

-root of all evil. What comes here?

[4 Page enters. A long-winged grasshopper, all gold, green, and gauze ? How these young pea-chicks must needs ape the grown peacock's frippery! Prithee, now, how many such butterflies as you suck here together on the thistle-head of royalty ?

Page. Some twelve gentlemen of us, Sir—apostles of the blind archer, Love-owning no divinity but almighty beauty—no faith, no hope, no charity, but those which are kindled at her eyes.

Wal. Saints ! what's all this?

Page. Ah, Sir! none but countrymen swear by the saints nowadays: no oaths but allegorical ones, Sir, at the high table ; as thus,—“By the sleeve of beauty, Madam ;” or again, “By Love his martyrdoms, Sir Count,” or to a potentate, “ As Jove's imperial mercy shall hear my vows, High Mightiness.”

Wal. Where did the evil one set you on finding all this heathenry ?

Page. Oh! we are all barristers of Love's court, Sir, —we have Ovid’s gay science conned, Sir, ad unguentum, as they say, out of the French book.

Wal. So? There are those come from Rome then will whip you and Ovid out with the same rod which the dandies of Provence felt lately to their sorrow. Oh! what blinkards are we gentlemen, to train any dumb beasts more carefully than we do Christians ;—that a man shall keep his dog-breakers, and his horse-breakers, and his hawk-breakers, and never hire him a boy-breaker or two! that we should live without a qualm at dangling such a flock of mimicking parroquets at our heels awhile, and then when they are well infected, well perfumed with the wind of our vices, dropping them off, as tadpoles do their tails, joint by joint, into the mud ! to strain at such gnats as an ill-mouthed colt or a riotous puppy, and swallow that camel of camels, a page!

Page. Do you call me a camel, Sir ?
Wal. What's your business?
Page. My errand is to the princess here.
Eliz. To me ?

Page. Yes ; the Landgravine expects you at high mass ; 'so go in, and mind you clean yourself ; for every one is not as fond as you of beggars' brats, and what their clothes leave behind them. Isen. (Strikes him.) Monkey! To whom are you

speaking ? Eliz. Oh, peace, peace, peace! I'll go with him.

Page. Then be quick, my music-master's waiting. Corpo di Bacco ! as if our elders did not teach us to whom we ought to be rude! [Ex. Eliz. and Page.

Isen. See here, Sir Saxon, how this pearl of price
Is faring in your hands! The peerless image,
To whom this court is but the tawdry frame,-
The speck of light amid its murky baseness,
The salt which keeps it all from rotting,-cast
To be the common fool,—the laughing-stock
For every beardless knave to whet his wit on!
Tar-blooded Germans !-Here's another of them.

[A young Knight enters. Knight. Heigh! Count! What? learning to sing

psalms? They are waiting
For you in the manage-school, to give your judgment
On that new Norman mare.

Tell them I'm busy.
Knight. Busy? St. Martin ! Knitting stockings, eh ?
To clothe the poor withal? Is that your business?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »