Eliz. What will they think!
What pleases them. That argument’s a staff
Which breaks whene’er you lean on’t. Trust me, girl,
That fear of man sucks out love’s soaring ether,
Baffles faith’s heavenward eyes, and drops us down,
To float, like plumeless birds, on any stream.
Have I not proved it?
There was a time with me, when every eye
Did scorch like flame: if one looked cold on me,
I straight accused myself of mortal sins:
Each fopling was my master: I have lied
From very fear of mine own serving-maids.—
That’s past, thank God’s good grace!
Guta. And now you leap
To the other end of the line.
Eliz. In self-defence.
I am too weak to live by half my conscience;
I have no wit to weigh and choose the mean;
Life is too short for logic; what I do
I must do simply; God alone must judge—
For God alone shall guide, and God’s elect—
I shrink from earth’s chill frosts too much to crawl—
I have snapped opinion’s chains, and now I’ll soar
Up to the blazing sunlight, and be free.
[The bishop of Bamberg enters. Conrad following.]
Bishop. The Devil plagued St. Antony in the likeness of a lean friar! Between mad monks and mad women, bedlam’s broke loose, I think.
Con. When the Spirit first descended on the elect, seculars then, too, said mocking, ‘These men are full of new wine.’
Bishop. Seculars, truly! If I had not in my secularity picked up a spice of chivalry to the ladies, I should long ago have turned out you and your regulars, to cant elsewhere. Plague on this gout—I must sit.
Eliz. Let me settle your cushion, uncle.
Bishop. So! girl! I sent for you from Botenstain. I had a mind, now, to have kept you there until your wits returned, and you would say Yes to some young noble suitor. As if I had not had trouble enough about your dower!—If I had had to fight for it, I should not have minded:—but these palavers and conferences have fretted me into the gout: and now you would throw all away again, tired with your toy, I suppose. What shall I say to the Counts, Varila, and the Cupbearer, and all the noble knights who will hazard their lands and lives in trying to right you with that traitor? I am ashamed to look them in the face! To give all up to the villain!—To pay him for his treason!
Eliz. Uncle, I give but what to me is worthless. He loves these baubles—let him keep them, then: I have my dower.
Bishop. To squander on nuns and beggars, at this rogue’s bidding? Why not marry some honest man? You may have your choice of kings and princes; and if you have been happy with one gentleman, Mass! say I, why can’t you be happy with another? What saith the Scripture? ’I will that the younger widows marry, bear children,’— not run after monks, and what not—What’s good for the filly, is good for the mare, say I.