Vansen. I know some for whom it would be better if, instead of their own high spirits, they had a little tailor’s blood in their veins.
Carpenter. What mean you by that?
Vansen. Hum! I mean the count.
Jetter. Egmont! What has he to fear?
Vansen. I’m a poor devil, and could live a whole year round on what he loses in a single night; yet he would do well to give me his revenue for a twelvemonth, to have my head upon his shoulders for one quarter of an hour.
Jetter. You think yourself very clever; yet there is more sense in the hairs of Egmont’s head, than in your brains.
Vansen. Perhaps so! Not more shrewdness, however. These gentry are the most apt to deceive themselves. He should be more chary of his confidence.
Jetter. How his tongue wags! Such a gentleman!
Vansen. Just because he is not a tailor.
Jetter. You audacious scoundrel!
Vansen. I only wish he had your courage in his limbs for an hour to make him uneasy, and plague and torment him, till he were compelled to leave the town.
Jetter. What nonsense you talk; why he’s as safe as a star in heaven.
Vansen. Have you ever seen one snuff itself out? Off it went!
Carpenter. Who would dare to meddle with him?
Vansen. Will you interfere to prevent it? Will you stir up an insurrection if he is arrested?
Vansen. Will you risk your ribs for his sake?
Vansen (mimicking them). Eh! Oh! Ah! Run through the alphabet in your wonderment. So it is, and so it will remain. Heaven help him!
Jetter. Confound your impudence. Can such a noble, upright man have anything to fear?
Vansen. In this world the rogue has everywhere the advantage. At the bar, he makes a fool of the judge; on the bench, he takes pleasure in convicting the accused. I have had to copy out a protocol, where the commissary was handsomely rewarded by the court, both with praise and money, because through his cross-examination, an honest devil, against whom they had a grudge, was made out to be a rogue.
Carpenter. Why, that again is a downright lie. What can they want to get out of a man if he is innocent?
Vansen. Oh, you blockhead! When nothing can be worked out of a man by cross-examination, they work it into him. Honesty is rash and withal somewhat presumptuous; at first they question quietly enough, and the prisoner, proud of his innocence, as they call it, comes out with much that a sensible man would keep back! then, from these answers the inquisitor proceeds to put new questions, and is on the watch for the slightest contradiction; there he fastens his line; and, let the poor devil lose his self-possession, say too much here, or too little there, or, Heaven knows from what whim or other, let him withhold some