Machiavel. So distinctly!
Regent. No feature is wanting. There are good men among them. The honest Roderigo, so experienced and so moderate, who does not aim too high, yet lets nothing sink too low; the upright Alonzo, the diligent Freneda, the steadfast Las Vargas, and others who join them when the good party are in power. But there sits the hollow-eyed Toledan, with brazen front and deep fire-glance, muttering between his teeth about womanish softness, ill-timed concession, and that women can ride trained steeds, well enough, but are themselves bad masters of the horse, and the like pleasantries, which, in former times, I have been compelled to hear from political gentlemen.
Machiavel. You have chosen good colours for your picture.
Regent. Confess, Machiavel, among the tints from which I might select, there is no hue so livid, so jaundice-like, as Alva’s complexion, and the colour he is wont to paint with. He regards every one as a blasphemer or traitor, for under this head they can all be racked, impaled, quartered, and burnt at pleasure. The good I have accomplished here appears as nothing seen from a distance, just because it is good. Then he dwells on every outbreak that is past, recalls every disturbance that is quieted, and brings before the king such a picture of mutiny, sedition, and audacity, that we appear to him to be actually devouring one another, when with us the transient explosion of a rude people has long been forgotten. Thus he conceives a cordial hatred for the poor people; he views them with horror, as beasts and monsters; looks around for fire and sword, and imagines that by such means human beings are subdued.
Machiavel. You appear to me too vehement; you take the matter too seriously. Do you not remain Regent?
Regent. I am aware of that. He will bring his instructions. I am old enough in state affairs to understand how people can be supplanted, without being actually deprived of office. First, he will produce a commission, couched in terms somewhat obscure and equivocal; he will stretch his authority, for the power is in his hands; if I complain, he will hint at secret instructions; if I desire to see them, he will answer evasively; if I insist, he will produce a paper of totally different import; and if this fail to satisfy me, he will go on precisely as if I had never interfered. Meanwhile he will have accomplished what I dread, and have frustrated my most cherished schemes.
Machiavel. I wish I could contradict you.
Regent. His harshness and cruelty will again arouse the turbulent spirit, which, with unspeakable patience, I have succeeded in quelling; I shall see my work destroyed before my eyes, and have besides to bear the blame of his wrongdoing.
Machiavel. Await it, your Highness.
Regent. I have sufficient self-command to remain quiet. Let him come; I will make way for him with the best grace ere he pushes me aside.