Orange. We are not ordinary men, Egmont. If it becomes us to sacrifice ourselves for thousands, it becomes us no less to spare ourselves for thousands.
Egmont. He who spares himself becomes an object of suspicion ever to himself.
Orange. He who is sure of his own motives can, with confidence, advance or retreat.
Egmont. Your own act will render certain the evil that you dread.
Orange. Wisdom and courage alike prompt us to meet an inevitable evil.
Egmont. When the danger is imminent the faintest hope should be taken into account.
Orange We have not the smallest footing left; we are on the very brink of the precipice.
Egmont. Is the king’s favour on ground so narrow?
Orange. Not narrow, perhaps, but slippery.
Egmont. By heavens! he is belied. I cannot endure that he should be so meanly thought of! He is Charles’s son, and incapable of meanness.
Orange. Kings of course do nothing mean.
Egmont. He should be better known.
Orange. Our knowledge counsels us not to await the result of a dangerous experiment.
Egmont. No experiment is dangerous, the result of which we have the courage to meet.
Orange. You are irritated, Egmont.
Egmont. I must see with my own eyes.
Orange. Oh that for once you saw with mine! My friend, because your eyes are open, you imagine that you see. I go! Await Alva’s arrival, and God be with you! My refusal to do so may perhaps save you. The dragon may deem the prey not worth seizing, if he cannot swallow us both. Perhaps he may delay, in order more surely to execute his purpose; in the meantime you may see matters in their true light. But then, be prompt! Lose not a moment! Save,—oh, save yourself! Farewell!—Let nothing escape your vigilance:—how many troops he brings with him; how he garrisons the town; what force the Regent retains; how your friends are prepared. Send me tidings—Egmont-
Egmont. What would you?
Orange (grasping his hand). Be persuaded! Go with me!
Egmont. How! Tears, Orange!
Orange. To weep for a lost friend is not unmanly.
Egmont. You deem me lost?
Orange. You are lost! Consider! Only a brief respite is left you. Farewell.
Egmont (alone). Strange that the thoughts of other men should exert such an influence over us. These fears would never have entered my mind; and this man infects me with his solicitude. Away! ’Tis a foreign drop in my blood! Kind nature, cast it forth! And to erase the furrowed lines from my brow there yet remains indeed a friendly means.