Buyck. I might take offence at that.
Jetter. It was not intended for you, countryman.
When we got rid of the
Spanish garrison, we breathed freely again.
Soest. Faith! They pressed on you heavily enough.
Jetter. Mind your own business.
Soest. They came to sharp quarters with you.
Jetter. Hold your tongue.
Soest. They drove him out of kitchen, cellar, chamber—and bed. (They laugh.)
Jetter. You are a blockhead.
Buyck. Peace, sirs! Must the soldier cry peace? Since you will not hear anything about us, let us have a toast of your own—a citizen’s toast.
Jetter. We’re all ready for that! Safety and peace!
Soest. Order and freedom!
Buyck. Bravo! That will content us all.
(They ring their glasses together, and joyously repeat the words, but in such a manner that each utters a different sound, and it becomes a kind of chant. The old man listens, and at length joins in.)
All. Safety and peace! Order and freedom!
Scene II.—–Palace of the Regent
Margaret of Parma (in a hunting dress).
Courtiers, Pages, Servants
Regent. Put off the hunt, I shall not ride to-day. Bid Machiavel attend me.
[Exeunt all but the Regent.
The thought of these terrible events leaves me no repose! Nothing can amuse, nothing divert my mind. These images, these cares are always before me. The king will now say that these are the natural fruits of my kindness, of my clemency; yet my conscience assures me that I have adopted the wisest, the most prudent course. Ought I sooner to have kindled, and spread abroad these flames with the breath of wrath? My hope was to keep them in, to let them smoulder in their own ashes. Yes, my inward conviction, and my knowledge of the circumstances, justify my conduct in my own eyes; but in what light will it appear to my brother! For, can it be denied that the insolence of these foreign teachers waxes daily more audacious? They have desecrated our sanctuaries, unsettled the dull minds of the people, and conjured up amongst them a spirit of delusion. Impure spirits have mingled among the insurgents, horrible deeds have been perpetrated, which to think of makes one shudder, and of these a circumstantial account must be transmitted instantly to court. Prompt and minute must be my communication, lest rumour outrun my messenger, and the king suspect that some particulars have been purposely withheld. I can see no means, severe or mild, by which to stem the evil. Oh, what are we great ones on the waves of humanity? We think to control them, and are ourselves driven to and fro, hither and thither.
Regent. Are the despatches to the king prepared?
Machiavel. In an hour they will be ready for your signature.