Scene I.The Country.
Albert. O that the earth were empty, as when Cain
Had no perplexity to hide his head!
Or that the sword
of some brave enemy
Had put a sudden stop to my hot breath,
And hurled me down the illimitable gulf
times past, unremembered! Better so
Than thus fast-limed in a cursèd snare,
The white limbs of a wanton.
This the end
Of an aspiring life! My boyhood past
In feud with wolves and bears, when no eye saw
solitary warfare, fought for love
Of honour mid the growling wilderness;
My sturdier youth, maturing to the
Won by the syren-trumpets, and the ring
Of shields upon the pavement, when bright-mailed
the Fowler passed the streets of Prague.
Wast to this end I louted and became
The menial of Mars, and
held a spear,
Swayed by command, as corn is by the wind?
Is it for this, I now am lifted up
thronèd Emperor, to see
My honour be my executioner,
My love of fame, my prided honesty,
Put to the
torture for confessional?
Then the damned crime of blurting to the world
A womans secret!though a
fiend she be,
Too tender of my ignominious life;
But then to wrong the generous Emperor
In such a searching
point, were to give up
My soul for foot-ball at hells holiday!
I must confess,and cut my throat,to-day?
morrow? Ho! some wine!
Sigifred. A fine humour
Albert. Who goes there? Count Sigifred? Ha! ha!
Sigifred. What, man, do you mistake the hollow sky
For a thronged tavern, and these stubbed trees
old serge hangings,me, your humble friend,
For a poor waiter? Why, man, how you stare!
have you been carousing with?
No, no more wine: methinks youve had enough.
Albert. You well may laugh and banter. What a fool
An injury may make of a staid man!
You shall know
Sigifred. Some tavern brawl?
Albert. Twas with some people out of common reach;
Revenge is difficult.
Sigifred. I am your friend;
We meet again to-day, and can confer
Upon it. For the present Im in haste.
Sigifred. To fetch King Gersa to the feast.
The Emperor on this marriage is so hot,
Pray heaven it end
not in apoplexy!
The very porters, as I passed the doors,
Heard his loud laugh, and answered in full choir.
marvel, Albert, you delay so long
From these bright revelries; go, show yourself,
You may be made a duke.
Albert. Ay, very like.
Pray, what day has his Highness fixed upon?
Sigifred. For what?
Albert. The marriage. What else can I mean?
Sigifred. To-day. O, I forgot, you could not know;
The news is scarce a minute old with me.
Albert. Married to-day! To-day! You did not say so?
Sigifred. Now, while I speak to you, their comely heads
Are bowed before the mitre.