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cannot, and back I will not. The Queen (whom
God preserve !) is in life, but in durance : wherein
she will remain, till your Majesty or Earl Athulf
can help me. For her safety, I am assured thereof
at present, holding in pawn the lives of three revolted
Earls, which have fallen into my hands. For her
deliverance, should I attempt it of myself, I should
but put her to more hazard. Meantime fear not
that aught can approach you from the West.
Yours in all duty and fealty,
This, if I could but to the King convey it,
Would much sustain his spirit.
Please you, Madam, To use the gold I brought you—it is done.
[Trumpets sound at a distance.
Hark! the patrol comes round; pass to the chapel.
A CHAMBER IN THE ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE.
WULFSTAN THE WISE and SIGERIC, the Archbishop's Secretary.
With both these puissant Earls, as I hear say,
You have been inward.
Yea, Sir, in my time; With Athulf formerly, with Leolf always.
Earl Athulf is a merry man accounted.
Much mirth he hath, and yet less mirth than fancy.
His is that nature of humanity
Which both ways doth redound, rejoicing now
With soarings of the soul, anon brought low :
For such the law that rules the larger spirits.
This soul of man, this elemental crasis,
Completed, should present the universe
Abounding in all kinds; and unto all
One law is common,—that their act and reach
Stretched to the farthest is resilient ever,
And in resilience hath its plenary force.
Against the gust remitting fiercelier burns
The fire, than with the gust it burnt before.
The richest mirth, the richest sadness too,
Stands from a groundwork of its opposite ;
For these extremes upon the way to meet
Take a wide sweep of Nature, gathering in
Harvests of sundry seasons.
Are, certes, the prime spirits of the age.
Yet hardly may we either Earl esteem
A match for Dunstan. From his youth devote
To books, with chemic and mechanic art
Searching the core of things; and then caught up
To Edred's court and favour, studying there
The ways of men and policies of states,
No marvel from such training that he took
An applicable mind; and were he not
Pushed sometimes past the confine of his reason
He would o’ertop the world.
Sir, could he
sway His proper passions, he were Lord of all. But he is more their captive than the King, Poor innocent! is his.
When others storm Then only is he calm. 'Twas thought at first That when the King stood out against the terms, And would not sign, his life would be the forfeit. But Dunstan went more craftily to work. A wasting diet, with perpetual fear, And solitude, he made his ministers, Himself desisting.
His, Sir, you shall find
A spirit subdolous, though full of fire.
A spider may he best be likened to,
Which creature is an adept not alone
In workmanship of nice geometry,
But is besides a wary politician :
He, when his prey is taken in the toils,
Withholds himself until its strength be spent
With struggles, and its spirit with despair ;
Then with a patient and profound delight
Forth from his ambush stalks.
Is woven with a difference. He shrinks
'Tis said from taking life, unless inflamed
By anger, or by exigency pressed.
This softness hath he still.
Why halt you here? The doors are opened to the ante-chamber, And it will soon be crowded. Pray you, come. Earl Sidroc, in an Acolyte’s apparel, Will bear your train, and waits you here without.
You have the Archbishop's pass?
I can pass too; I have cajoled with smiles
The High Gerefa’s man that keeps the door.