Con. Ah, be not hasty, madam;
Think whom you welcome; one who has no skill
To wink and speak smooth things; whom fear of God
Constrains to daily wrath; who brings, alas!
A sword, not peace: within whose bones the word
Burns like a pent-up fire, and makes him bold
If aught in you or yours shall seem amiss,
To cry aloud and spare not; let me go—
To pray for you—as I have done long time,
Is sweeter than to chide you.
Eliz. Then your prayers
Shall drive home your rebukes; for both we need you—
Our snares are many, and our sins are more.
So say not nay—I’ll speak with you apart.
[Elizabeth and Conrad retire.]
Lewis [aside]. Well, Walter mine, how like you the good legate?
Wal. Walter has seen nought of him but his eye;
And that don’t please him.
Lewis. How so, sir! that face
Is pure and meek—a calm and thoughtful eye.
Wal. A shallow, stony, steadfast eye; that looks at neither man nor beast in the face, but at something invisible a yard before him, through you and past you, at a fascination, a ghost of fixed purposes that haunts him, from which neither reason nor pity will turn him. I have seen such an eye in men possessed—with devils, or with self: sleek, passionless men, who are too refined to be manly, and measure their grace by their effeminacy; crooked vermin, who swarm up in pious times, being drowned out of their earthly haunts by the spring-tide of religion; and so making a gain of godliness, swim upon the first of the flood, till it cast them ashore on the firm beach of wealth and station. I always mistrust those wall-eyed saints.
Lewis. Beware, Sir Count; your keen and worldly
Is good for worldly uses, not to tilt
Withal at holy men and holy things.
He pleases well the spiritual sense
Of my most peerless lady, whose discernment
Is still the touchstone of my grosser fancy:
He is her friend, and mine: and you must love him
Even for our sakes alone, [to a bystander] A word with you, sir.
[In the meantime Elizabeth and Conrad are talking together.]
Eliz. I would be taught—
Con. It seems you claim some knowledge,
By choosing thus your teacher.
Eliz. I would know more—
Con. Go then to the schools—and be
no wiser, madam;
And let God’s charge here run to waste, to seek
The bitter fruit of knowledge—hunt the rainbow
O’er hill and dale, while wisdom rusts at home.
Eliz. I would be holy, master—
Con. Be so, then.
God’s will stands fair: ’tis thine which fails, if any.
Eliz. I would know how to rule—
Con. Then must thou learn
The needs of subjects, and be ruled thyself.
Sink, if thou longest to rise; become most small—
The strength which comes by weakness makes thee great.
Eliz. I will.