Otho The Great - Act II

John Keats 1795 (Moorgate) – 1821 (Rome)

SCENE I.
An Ante-chamber in the Castle.
Enter LUDOLPH and SIGIFRED.
Ludolph. No more advices, no more cautioning:
I leave it all to fate to any thing!
I cannot square my conduct to time, place,
Or circumstances; to me 'tis all a mist!
Sigifred. I say no more.
Ludolph. It seems I am to wait
Here in the ante-room; that may be a trifle.
You see now how I dance attendance here,
Without that tyrant temper, you so blame,
Snapping the rein. You have medicin'd me
With good advices; and I here remain,
In this most honourable ante-room,
Your patient scholar.
Sigifred. Do not wrong me, Prince.
By Heavens, I'd rather kiss Duke Conrad's slipper,
When in the morning he doth yawn with pride,
Than see you humbled but a half-degree!
Truth is, the Emperor would fain dismiss
The nobles ere he sees you.
Enter GONFRED from the Council-room.
Ludolph. Well, sir! What?
Gonfred. Great honour to the Prince! The Emperor,
Hearing that his brave son had re-appeared,
Instant dismiss 'd the Council from his sight,
As Jove fans off the clouds. Even now they pass.
[Exit.
Enter the Nobles from the Council-room. They cross the stage,
bowing unth respect to LUDOLPH, he frowning on them.
CONRAD follows. Exeunt Nobles.
Ludolph. Not the discoloured poisons of a fen,
Which he who breathes feels warning of his death,
Could taste so nauseous to the bodily sense,
As these prodigious sycophants disgust
The soul's fine palate.
Conrad. Princely Ludolph, hail!
Welcome, thou younger sceptre to the realm!
Strength to thy virgin crownet's golden buds,
That they, against the winter of thy sire,
May burst, and swell, and flourish round thy brows,
Maturing to a weighty diadem!
Yet be that hour far off; and may he live,
Who waits for thee, as the chapp'd earth for rain.
Set my life's star! I have lived long enough,
Since under my glad roof, propitiously,
Father and son each other re-possess.
Ludolph. Fine wording, Duke! but words could never yet
Forestall the fates; have you not learnt that yet?
Let me look well: your features are the same;
Your gait the same; your hair of the same shade;
As one I knew some passed weeks ago,
Who sung far different notes into mine ears.
I have mine own particular comments on 't;
You have your own, perhaps.
Conrad. My gracious Prince,
All men may err. In truth I was deceived
In your great father's nature, as you were.
Had I known that of him I have since known,
And what you soon will learn, I would have turned
My sword to my own throat, rather than held
Its threatening edge against a good King's quiet:
Or with one word fever'd you, gentle Prince,
Who seem'd to me, as rugged times then went,
Indeed too much oppress'd. May I be bold
To tell the Emperor you will haste to him?
Ludolph. Your Dukedom's privilege will grant so much.
[Exit CONRAD
He's very close to Otho, a tight leech!
Your hand I go. Ha! here the thunder comes
Sullen against the wind! If in two angry brows
My safety lies, then Sigifred, I'm safe.
Enter OTHO and CONRAD.
Otho. Will you make Titan play the lackey-page &
To chattering pigmies? I would have you know
That such neglect of our high Majesty
Annuls all feel of kindred. What is son,
Or friend, or brother, or all ties of blood,
When the whole kingdom, centred in ourself,
Is rudely slighted ? Who am I to wait ?
By Peter's chair! I have upon my tongue
A word to fright the proudest spirit here!
Death! and slow tortures to the hardy fool,
Who dares take such large charter from our smiles!
Conrad, we would be private. Sigifred!
Off! And none pass this way on pain of death!
[Exeunt CONRAD and SIGIFRED,
Ludolph. This was but half expected, my good sire,
Yet I am griev'd at it, to the full height,
As though my hopes of favour had been whole.
Otho. How you indulge yourself! What can you hope for?
Ludolph. Nothing, my liege ; I have to hope for nothing.
I come to greet you as a loving son,
And then depart, if I may be so free,
Seeing that blood of yours in my warm veins
Has not yet mitigated into milk.
Otho. What would you, sir?
Ludolph. A lenient banishment;
So please you let me unmolested pass
This Conrad's gates, to the wide air again.
I want no more. A rebel wants no more.
Otho. And shall I let a rebel loose again
To muster kites and eagles 'gainst my head?
No, obstinate boy, you shall be kept cag'd up,
Serv'd with harsh food, with scum for Sunday-drink.
Ludolph. Indeed!
Otho. And chains too heavy for your life:
I'll choose a gaoler, whose swart monstrous face
Shall be a hell t
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Keats

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