Eliz. Most miserable, cold, short-sighted man,
Who for thy selfish gains dost welcome make
God’s wrath, and battenest on thy fellows’ woes,
What? wilt thou turn from heaven’s gate, open to thee,
Through which thy charity may passport be,
And win thy long greed’s pardon? Oh, for once
Dare to be great; show mercy to thyself!
See how that boiling sea of human heads
Waits open-mouthed to bless thee: speak the word,
And their triumphant quire of jubilation
Shall pierce God’s cloudy floor with praise and prayers,
And drown the accuser’s count in angels’ ears.
[In the meantime Walter, etc., have been throwing down the wheat to the mob.]
Mob. God bless the good Count!—Bless
the holy Princess—
Hurrah for wheat—Hurrah for one full stomach.
Mer. Ah! that’s my wheat! treason, my wheat, my money!
Eliz. Where is the wretch’s wheat?
Wal. Below, my lady;
We counted on the charm of your sweet words,
And so did for him what, your sermon ended,
He would have done himself.
Knight. ’Twere rude to doubt it.
Mer. Ye rascal barons!
What! Are we burghers monkeys for your pastime?
We’ll clear the odds. [Seizes Walter.]
Wal. Soft, friend—a worm will turn.
Voices below. Throw him down.
Wal. Dost hear that, friend?
Those pups are keen-toothed; they have eat of late
Worse bacon to their bread than thee. Come, come,
Put up thy knife; we’ll give thee market-price—
And if thou must have more—why, take it out
In board and lodging in the castle dungeon.
[Walter leads him out; the Mob, etc., disperse.]
Eliz. Now then—there’s many
a one lies faint at home—
I’ll go to them myself.
Isen. What now? start forth
In this most bitter frost, so thinly clad?
Eliz. Tut, tut, I wear my working dress to-day,
And those who work, robe lightly—
Isen. Nay, my child,
For once keep up your rank.
Eliz. Then I had best
Roll to their door in lacqueyed equipage,
And dole my halfpence from my satin purse—
I am their sister—I must look like one.
I am their queen—I’ll prove myself the greatest
By being the minister of all. So come—
Now to my pastime, [aside] And in happy toil
Forget this whirl of doubt—We are weak, we are weak,
Only when still: put thou thine hand to the plough,
The spirit drives thee on.
Isen. You live too fast!
Eliz. Too fast? We live too slow—our
Without fresh purging airs from heaven, would choke
Slower and slower, till it stopped and froze.
God! fight we not within a cursed world,
Whose very air teems thick with leagued fiends—
Each word we speak has infinite effects—
Each soul we pass must go to heaven or hell—