Nay, but bethink you, Duke.
To live upon the mercy of these Swedes!
Of these proud-hearted Swedes!—I could not bear it.
Goest thou as fugitive, as mendicant?
Bringest thou not more to them than thou receivest?
How fared it with the brave and royal Bourbon
Who sold himself unto his country’s foes,
And pierced the bosom of his father-land?
Curses were his reward, and men’s abhorrence
Avenged th’ unnatural and revolting deed.
Is that thy case?
True faith, I tell thee,
Must ever be the dearest friend of man:
His nature prompts him to assert its rights.
The enmity of sects, the rage of parties,
Long cherish’d envy, jealousy, unite;
And all the struggling elements of evil
Suspend their conflict, and together league
In one alliance ’gainst their common foe—
The savage beast that breaks into the fold,
Where men repose in confidence and peace.
For vain were man’s own prudence to protect him.
’Tis only in the forehead nature plants
The watchful eye—the back, without defence,
Must find its shield in man’s fidelity.
Think not more meanly of thyself than do
Thy foes, who stretch their hands with joy to greet thee;
Less scrupulous far was the Imperial Charles,
The powerful head of this illustrious house;
With open arms he gave the Bourbon welcome;
For still by policy the world is ruled.
To these enter the COUNTESS TERZKY
Who sent for you? There is no business here
I am come to bid you joy.
Use thy authority, Terzky; bid her go.
Come I perhaps too early? I hope not.
Set not this tongue upon me, I entreat you:
You know it is the weapon that destroys me.
I am routed, if a woman but attack me:
I cannot traffic in the trade of words
With that unreasoning sex.
I had already
Given the Bohemians a king.
They have one,
In consequence, no doubt.
COUNTESS (to the others).
Ha! what new scruple?
The Duke will not.
He will not what he must!
It lies with you now. Try. For I am silenced
When folks begin to talk to me of conscience
And of fidelity.
How? then, when all
Lay in the far-off distance, when the road
Stretch’d out before thine eyes interminably,
Then hadst thou courage and resolve; and now,
Now that the dream is being realized,
The purpose ripe, the issue ascertain’d,
Dost thou begin to play the dastard now?
Plann’d merely, ’tis a common felony;
Accomplish’d, an immortal undertaking:
And with success comes pardon hand in hand,
For all event is God’s arbitrament.