Wal. I will, I will: go in
And dry your eyes. [Exeunt separately.]
A Landscape in Thuringia. Lewis and Walter riding.
Lewis. So all these lands are mine; these yellow
These village greens, and forest-fretted hills,
With dizzy castles crowned. Mine! Why that word
Is rich in promise, in the action bankrupt.
What faculty of mine, save dream-fed pride,
Can these things fatten? Mass! I had forgot:
I have a right to bark at trespassers.
Rare privilege! While every fowl and bush,
According to its destiny and nature
(Which were they truly mine, my power could alter),
Will live, and grow, and take no thought of me.
Those firs, before whose stealthy-marching ranks
The world-old oaks still dwindle and retreat,
If I could stay their poisoned frown, which cows
The pale shrunk underwood, and nestled seeds
Into an age of sleep, ’twere something: and those men
O’er whom that one word ‘ownership’ uprears me—
If I could make them lift a finger up
But of their own free will, I’d own my seizin.
But now—when if I sold them, life and limb,
There’s not a sow would litter one pig less
Than when men called her mine.—Possession’s naught;
A parchment ghost; a word I am ashamed
To claim even here, lest all the forest spirits,
And bees who drain unasked the free-born flowers,
Should mock, and cry, ‘Vain man, not thine, but ours.’
Wal. Possession’s naught? Possession’s
beef and ale—
Soft bed, fair wife, gay horse, good steel.—Are they naught?
Possession means to sit astride of the world,
Instead of having it astride of you;
Is that naught? ’Tis the easiest trade of all too;
For he that’s fit for nothing else, is fit
To own good land, and on the slowest dolt
His state sits easiest, while his serfs thrive best.
Lewis. How now? What need then of long
Not to mere feats of arms, but feats of soul;
To courtesies and high self-sacrifice,
To order and obedience, and the grace
Which makes commands, requests, and service, favour?
To faith and prayer, and pure thoughts, ever turned
To that Valhalla, where the virgin saints
And stainless heroes tend the Queen of heaven?
Why these, if I but need, like stalled ox
To chew the grass cut for me?
Wal. Why? Because
I have trained thee for a knight, boy, not a ruler.
All callings want their proper ’prentice time
But this of ruling; it comes by mother-wit;
And if the wit be not exceeding great,
’Tis best the wit be most exceeding small;
And he that holds the reins should let the horse
Range on, feed where he will, live and let live.
Custom and selfishness will keep all steady
For half a life.—Six months before you die
You may begin to think of interfering.