網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Might you repair, such wealth you have of charms
Luxuriant, albeit of what were her's
Rather the contrast than the counterpart.
Colour, to wit—complexion ;-her's was light
And gladdening; a roseate tincture shone
Transparent in its place, her skin elsewhere
White as the foam from which in happy hour
Sprang the Thalassian Venus : your's is clear
But bloodless, and though beautiful as night
In cloudless ether clad, not frank as day:
Such is the tinct of your diversity;

Serenely radiant she, you darkly fair.
Elena. Dark still has been the colour of

my

fortunes, And having not serenity of soul,

How should I wear the aspect ?
Artevelde.

Wear it not ;
Wear only that of love.
Elena.

Of love? alas !
That is its opposite. You counsel me
To scatter this so melancholy mist
By calling up the hurricane. Time was
I had been prone to counsel such as yours ;
Adventurous I have been, it is true,
And this foolhardy heart would brave-nay court,
In other days, an enterprise of passion;
Yea, like a witch, would whistle for a whirlwind.
But I have been admonished : painful years
Have tamed and taught me: I have suffered much.
Kind Heaven but grant tranquillity! I seek

No further boon.
Artevelde.

And may not love be tranquil ? Elena, It

may

in

some; but not as I have known it. Artevelde. Love, like an insect frequent in the woods,

Will take the colour of the tree it feeds on;
As saturnine or sanguine is the soul,
Such is the passion. Brightly upon me,
Like the red sunset of a stormy day,
Love breaks anew beneath the gathering clouds
That roll around me! Tell me, sweet Elena,
May I not hope, or rather can I hope,
That for such brief and bounded space of time
As are my days on earth, you'll yield yourself

To love me living—and to mourn me dead?
Elena. Oh, not, my lord, to mourn you—why—oh God!
Why will you say so ?

You distress me-no-
You will pursue your triumphs many a year,
And victory shall wait upon your steps
As heretofore, and death be distant far.
Take back those words; I cannot bear them; no,
They hang upon my heart too heavily,

2 o 2

Tell

be so.

Tell me you're sure to conquer, as you are. Artevelde. So, loveliest, let us hope. It may

I'll swear it shall be, so you'll swear in turn

To give me up your heart.
Elena.

I cannot-no-
I cannot give you what you've had so long ;
Nor need I tell

you
what

you know so well,
I must be gone.
Artevelde.

Nay, sweetest, why these tears ? Elena. No, let me go I cannot tell-no---no

I want to be alone-let me retire

Dear Artevelde, for God's love let me go!'
Elena retires; and Artevelde, after a pause, thus soliloquizes :-
• The night is far advanced upon

the morrow,
And but for that conglomerated mass
Of cloud with ragged edges, like a mound
Or black pine-forest on a mountain's top,
Wherein the light lies ambushed, dawn were near.-
Yes, I have wasted half a summer's night.
Was it well spent? Successfully it was.
How little flattering is a woman's love ! -
The few hours left are preciouswho is there?
Ho! Nieuverkerchen! - when we think upon it,
How little flattering is a woman's love !
Given commonly to whosoe'er is nearest
And propped with most advantage ; outward grace
Nor inward light is needful; day by day,
Men wanting both are mated with the best
And loftiest of God's feminine creation,
Whose love takes no distinction but of gender,
And ridicules the very name of choice.
Ho! Nieuverkerchen !- what, then, do we sleep?
Are none of

you

awake ?—and as for me,
The world says Philip is a famous man~
What is there women will not love, so taught ?
Ho! Ellert! by your leave though, you must wake.'

- vol. ii. pp. 100-106. How perfect in its kind is this little snatch of verse which we find Elena singing shortly afterwards at the door of the tent of Artevelde

Quoth tongue of neither maid nor wife

To heart of neither wife nor maid,
Lead we not here a jolly life

Betwixt the shine and shade ?
Quoth heart of neither maid nor wife

To tongue of neither wife nor maid,
Thou wagg'st, but I am worn with strife
And feel like flowers that fade.'---Vol. ii. p. 177.

We

6

Elena.

Be at rest.

We should be sorry to anticipate too largely the pleasure of our reader in following the action of the sequel through the skilfully diversified scenes in which war, treason, and guilty but passionate love are made to play their part. We extract, however, the regent's vision the night before the fatal field of Rosebecque

You are not like yourself.
What took you from your bed ere break of day?
Where have you been ? I know you're vexed with something.

Tell me, now, what has happened.
Artevelde.

No accident, save of the world within ;

Occurrences of thought; 'tis nothing more. Elena. It is of such that love must needs to know.

The loud transactions of the outlying world

Tell to your masculine friends: tell me your thoughts.
Artevelde. They stumbled in the dusk 'twixt night and day.

I dreamed distressfully, and waking knew
How an old sorrow had stolen upon my sleep,
Molesting midnight and that short repose
Which industry had earned, so to stir up
About my heart remembrances of pain
Least sleeping when I sleep, least sleeping then
When reason and the voluntary powers
That turn and govern thought are laid to rest.
Those powers by this nocturnal inroad wild
Surprised and broken, vainly I essayed
To rally and unsubjugate ; the mind
Took its direction from a driftless dream.

Then passed I forth.
Elena.

You stole away so softly
I knew it not, and wondered when I woke.
Arterelde. The gibbous moon was in a wan decline,

And all was silent as a sick man's chamber.
Mixing its small beginnings with the dregs
Of the pale moonshine and a few faint stars,
The cold uncomfortable daylight dawned ;
And the white tents, topping a low ground-fog,
Showed like a fleet becalmed. I wandered far,
Till reaching to the bridge I sat me down
Upon the parapet. Much mused I there,
Revolving many a passage of my life,
And the strange destiny that lifted me
To be the leader of a mighty host
And terrible to kings. What followed then
I hardly may relate, for you would smile,
And say I might have dreamed as well a-bed

As gone abroad to dream.
Elena.
I shall not smile;

And

And if I did, you would not grudge my lips
So rare a visitation. But the cause,
Whate'er it be, that casts a shadow here, (kissing his brow)
How should it make me smile? What followed, say,

After your meditations on the bridge ?
Artevelde. I'll tell it, but I bid you not believe it;

For I am scarce so credulous myself
As to believe that was which my eyes saw-

A visual not an actual existence.
Elena. What was it like? Wore it a human likeness ?
Artevelde. That such existences there are, I know;

For, whether by the corporal organ framed,
Or painted by a brainish fantasy
Upon the inner sense, not once nor twice,
But sundry times, have I beheld such things

Since my tenth year, and most in this last past.
Elena. What was it you beheld ?
Aretvelde.

To day?
Elena.

Last night-
This morning—when you sat upon the bridge.
Artevelde. 'Twas a fantastic sight.
Elena.

What sort of sight?
*
Artevelde. Man's grosser attributes can generate

What is not nor has ever been at all;
What should forbid his fancy to restore
A being passed aivay? The wonder lies
In the mind merely of the wondering mạn.
Treading the steps of common life with eyes
Of curious inquisition, some will stare
At each discovery of nature's ways,
As it were new to find that God contrives,
The contrary were marvellous to me,
And till I find it I shall marvel not,
Or all is wonderful, or nothing is.

As for this creature of my eyes
Elena.

What was it?
The semblance of a human creature ?
Artevelde.

Yes,
Elena. Like any you had known in life?
Artevelde.

Most like;
Oh! more than like, it was the very same.

It was the image of my wife.
Elena.

Of her!
The Lady Adriana?
Artevelde.

My dead wife.
Elena. Oh God! how strange!
Artevelde.

And wherefore?—wherefore strange?
Why should not fancy summon to its presence

This shape as soon as any ?
Elena,

Gracious Heaven!
And were you not afraid ?
Artevelde,

I felt no fear.
Dejected I had been before : that sight
Inspired a deeper sadness, but no fear.
Nor had it struck that sadness to my soul
But for the dismal cheer the thing put on,
And the unsightly points of circumstance

That sullied its appearance and departure.
Elena. For how long saw you it ?
Artevelde.

I cannot tell:
I did not mark.
Elena.

And what was that appearance
You say was so unsightly?
Artevelde.

She appeared
In white, as when I saw her last, laid out
After her death; suspended in the air
She seemed, and o'er her breast her arms were crossed;
Her feet were drawn together pointing downwards,
And rigid was her form and motionless.
From near her heart, as if the source were there,
A stain of blood went wavering to her feet.
So she remained inflexible as stone-
And I as fixedly regarded her.
Then suddenly, and in a line oblique,
Thy figure darted past her, whereupon,
Though rigid still and straight, she downward moved,
And as she pierced the river with her feet
Descending steadily, the streak of blood .
Peeled off upon the water, which, as she vanished,
Appeared all blood, and swelled and weltered sore;
And midmost in the eddy and the whirl
My own face saw I, which was pale and calm
As death could make it :-then the vision passed,
And I perceived the river and the bridge,
The mottled sky and horizontal moon,

The distant camp, and all things as they were.
Elena. If you are not afraid to see such things,

I am to hear them, Go not near that bridge ;-
You said that something happened there before

Oh, cross it not again, my dearest Philip.
Artevelde. The river cannot otherwise be passed.' - vol. ii. p. 228.

All this is, of course, pure invention ; but the romancer avails himself also of Froissart's picturesque account of certain portents that marked, according to the general credence of the time, this same eventful night-ihe crisis of the fate of Artevelde.

For these things we have, unfortunately for ourselves, no room;

and

« 上一頁繼續 »