« PreviousContinue »
Enter Octavio Piccolomini, and Questenberg.
Oct.(still in the distance) Ay, ay! more still ! still more
new visitors ! Acknowledge, friend ! that never was a camp, Which held at once so many heads of heroes.
(Approaching nearer.) Welcome, Count Isolani ! Iso.
My noble brother,
Oct. And Colonel Butler-trust me, I rejoice
(To Questenberg, presenting Butler and Isolani at
the same time to him.) These two the total sum-Strength and Despatch. Ques. (to Octavio.) And lo! betwixt them both ex
perienc'd Prudence ! Oct. (presenting Questenberg to Butler and Isolani.) The Chamberlain and War-commissioner Questenberg, The bearer of the Emperor's behests, The long-tried friend and patron of all soldiers, We honour in this noble visitor. (Universal silence.) Illo. (moving towards Questenberg.) 'Tis not the first
time, noble Minister, You have shown our camp this honour. Ques.
Once before I stood before these colours.
Illo. Perchance, too, you remember where that was. It was at Znäim* in Moravia, where You did present yourself upon the part Of th’Emperor, to supplicate our Duke That he would straight assume the chief command.
Ques. To supplicate ? Nay, noble General ! So far extended neither my commission (At least to my own knowledge) nor my zeal.
Illo. Well, well then—to compel him, if you choose.
Why not, Count Isolan ?
Illo. A worthy office! After with our blood
* A town not far from the Mine-mountains, on the high road from Vienna to Prague.
To be swept out of it is all our thanks,
Ques. Unless that wretched land be doom'd to suffer
Illo. What? 'Twas a favourable year; the Boors
Iso. The war maintains the war. Are the Boors ruin'd,
Ques. Yet with a difference, General! The one fill
(examining with his eye the dress and ornaments
of Questenberg) Good store of gold that still remains uncoin'd. Ques. Thank Heaven! that means have been found out
to hide Some little from the fingers of the Croats.
Illo. There! The Stawata and the Martinitz, On whom the Emperor heaps his gifts and graces, To the heart-burning of all good BohemiansThose minions of court favour, those court harpies, Who fatten on the wrecks of citizens Driven from their house and home-who reap no harvests Save in the general calamityWho now, with kingly pomp, insult and mock
The desolation of their country-these,
But. And those state-parasites, who have their feet
18o. My life long will it anger me to think, How when I went to court seven years ago, To see about new horses for our regiments, How from one antechamber to another They dragg’d me on, and left me by the hour To kick my heals among a croud of simpering, Feast-fatten'd slaves, as if I had come thither A mendicant suitor for the crumbs of favour That fall beneath their tables. And, at last, Whom should they send me but a Capuchin! Straight I began to muster up my sins For absolution-but no such luck for me! This was the man, this Capuchin, with whom I was to treat concerning th' army horses. And I was forc'd at last to quit the field, The business unaccomplish'd. Afterwards The Duke procur’d me in three days, what I Could not obtain in thirty at Vienna. Ques. Yes, yes ! your travelling bills soon found their
way to us :
Illo. War is a violent trade; one cannot always
The smallest out of four-and-twenty evils,
Ques. Ay, doubtless, it is true; the Duke does spare us
Yes, the Duke Cares with a father's feelings for his troops ; But how the Emperor feels for us, we see.
Ques. His cares and feelings all ranks share alike, Nor will he offer one up to another.
Iso. And therefore thrusts he us into the deserts, As beasts of prey, that so he may preserve His dear sheep fattening in his fields at home. Ques. (with a sneer) Count, this comparison you make,
not I. But. Why, were we all the Court supposes us, 'Twere dangerous, sure, to give us liberty.
Ques. You have taken liberty-it was not given you. And therefore it becomes an urgent duty To rein it in with curbs. Oct. (interposing and addressing Questenberg.)
My noble friend, This is no more than a remembrancing That you are now in camp, and among warriors. The soldier's boldness constitutes his freedom. Could he act daringly, unless he dar'd Talk even so ? One runs into the other. The boldness of this worthy officer, (pointing to Butler.) Which now has but mistaken in its mark,