I.—Soldiers and Citizens (with cross-bows)Jetter
(steps forward, and bends his cross-bow). Soest, Buyck, RuysumSoest.
Come, shoot away, and have done with it! You won't beat me! Three
black rings, you never made such a shot in all your life. And so I'm
master for this year.Jetter.
Master and king to boot; who envies you? You'll have to pay double
reckoning; 'tis only fair you should pay for your dexterity.Buyck.
Jetter, I'll buy your shot, share the prize, and treat the company. I
have already been here so long, and am a debtor for so many
civilities. If I miss, then it shall be as if you had shot.Soest.
I ought to have a voice, for in fact I am the loser. No matter! Come,
Buyck, shoot away.Buyck
(shoots). Now, corporal, look out!—One! Two! Three! Four!Soest.
Four rings! So be it!All.
Hurrah! Long live the King! Hurrah! Hurrah!Buyck.
Thanks, sirs, master even were too much! Thanks for the honour.Jetter.
You have no one to thank but yourself. Ruysum. Let me tell you—Soest.
How now, grey-beard?Ruysum.
Let me tell you!—He shoots like his master, he shoots like Egmont.Buyck.
Compared with him I am only a bungler. He aims with the rifle as no
one else does. Not only when he's lucky or in the vein; no! he
levels, and the bull's-eye is pierced. I have learned from him. He
were indeed a blockhead, who could serve under him and learn
nothing!—But, sirs, let us not forget! A king maintains his
followers; and so, wine here, at the king's charge!Jetter.
We have agreed among ourselves that each—Buyck.
I am a foreigner, and a king, and care not a jot for your laws and
Why, you are worse than the Spaniard, who has not yet ventured to
meddle with them.Ruysum.
What does he say?Soest
(loud to Ruysum). He wants to treat us; he will not hear of our
clubbing together, the king paying only a double share.Ruysum.
Let him! under protest, however! 'Tis his master's fashion, too, to
be munificent, and to let the money flow in a good cause. (Wine is
Here's to his Majesty! Hurrah!Jetter
(to Buyck). That means your Majesty, of course, Buyck. My hearty
thanks, if it be so.Soest.
Assuredly! A Netherlander does not find it easy to drink the health
of his Spanish majesty from his heart.Ruysum.
(aloud). Philip the Second, King of Spain.Ruysum.
Our most gracious king and master! Long life to him.Soest.
Did you not like his father, Charles the Fifth, better?Ruysum.
God bless him! He was a king indeed! His hand reached over the whole
earth, and he was all in all. Yet, when he met you, he'd greet you
just as one neighbour greets another,—and if you were frightened,
he knew so well how to put you at your ease—ay, you understand
me—he walked out, rode out, just as it came into his head, with
very few followers. We all wept when he resigned the government here
to his son. You understand me—he is another sort of man, he's more
When he was here, he never appeared in public, except in pomp and
royal state. He speaks little, they say.Soest.
He is no king for us Netherlanders. Our princes must be joyous and
free like ourselves, must live and let live. We will neither be
despised nor oppressed, good-natured fools though we be.Jetter.
The king, methinks, were a gracious sovereign enough, if he had only
No, no! He has no affection for us Netherlanders; he has no heart for
the people; he loves us not; how then can we love him? Why is
everybody so fond of Count Egmont? Why are we all so devoted to him?
Why, because one can read in his face that he loves us; because
joyousness, open-heartedness, and good-nature, speak in his eyes;
because he possesses nothing that he does not share with him who
needs it, ay, and with him who needs it not. Long live Count Egmont!
Buyck, it is for you to give the first toast; give us your master's
With all my heart; here's to Count Egmont! Hurrah!Ruysum
Conqueror of St. Quintin.Buyck.
The hero of Gravelines.All.
St. Quintin was my last battle. I was hardly able to crawl along, and
could with difficulty carry my heavy rifle. I managed,
notwithstanding, to singe the skin of the French once more, and, as a
parting gift, received a grazing shot in my right leg.Buyck.
Gravelines! Ha, my friends, we had sharp work of it there! The
victory was all our own. Did not those French dogs carry fire and
desolation into the very heart of Flanders? We gave it them, however!
The old hard-listed veterans held out bravely for a while, but we
pushed on, fired away, and laid about us, till they made wry faces,
and their lines gave way. Then Egmont's horse was shot under him; and
for a long time we fought pell-mell, man to man, horse to horse,
troop to troop, on the broad, flat, sea-sand. Suddenly, as if from
heaven, down came the cannon shot from the mouth of the river, bang,
bang, right into the midst of the French. These were English, who,
under Admiral Malin, happened to be sailing past from Dunkirk. They
did not help us much, 'tis true; they could only approach with their
smallest vessels, and that not near enough;—besides, their shot
fell sometimes among our troops. It did some good, however! It broke
the French lines, and raised our courage. Away it went.
Helter-skelter! topsy-turvy! all struck dead, or forced into the
water; the fellows were drowned the moment they tasted the water,
while we Hollanders dashed in after them. Being amphibious, we were
as much in our element as frogs, and hacked away at the enemy, and
shot them down as if they had been ducks. The few who struggled
through, were struck dead in their flight by the peasant women, armed
with hoes and pitchforks. His Gallic majesty was compelled at once to
hold out his paw and make peace. And that peace you owe to us, to the
Hurrah, for the great Egmont! Hurrah! Hurrah!Jetter.
Had they but appointed him Regent, instead of Margaret of Parma!Soest.
Not so! Truth is truth! I'll not hear Margaret abused. Now it is my
turn. Long live our gracious lady!All.
Long life to her!Soest.
Truly, there are excellent women in that family. Long live the
Prudent is she, and moderate in all she does; if she would only not
hold so fast and stiffly with the priests. It is partly her fault,
too, that we have the fourteen new mitres in the land. Of what use
are they, I should like to know? Why, that foreigners may be shoved
into the good benefices, where formerly abbots were chosen out of the
chapters! And we're to believe it's for the sake of religion. We know
better. Three bishops were enough for us; things went on decently and
reputably. Now each must busy himself as if he were needed; and this
gives rise every moment to dissensions and ill-will. And the more you
agitate the matter, so much the worse it grows. (They drink.)Soest.
But it was the will of the king; she cannot alter it, one way or
Then we may not even sing the new psalms; but ribald songs, as many
as we please. And why? There is heresy in them, they say, and heaven
knows what. I have sung some of them, however; they are new, to be
sure, but I see no harm in them.Buyck.
Ask their leave, forsooth! In our province, we sing just what we
please. That's because Count Egmont is our stadtholder, who does not
trouble himself about such matters. In Ghent, Ypres, and throughout
the whole of Flanders, anybody sings them that chooses. (Aloud to
Ruysum.) There is nothing more harmless than a spiritual song—Is
What, indeed! It is a godly work, and truly edifying.Jetter.
They say, however, that they are not of the right sort, not of their
sort, and, since it is dangerous, we had better leave them alone. The
officers of the Inquisition are always lurking and spying about; many
an honest fellow has already fallen into their clutches. They had not
gone so far as to meddle with conscience! If they will not allow me
to do what I like, they might at least let me think and sing as I
The Inquisition won't do here. We are not made like the Spaniards, to
let our consciences be tyrannized over. The nobles must look to it,
and clip its wings betimes.Jetter.
It is a great bore. Whenever it comes into their worships' heads to
break into my house, and I am sitting there at my work, humming a
French psalm, thinking nothing about it, neither good nor bad—singing
it just because it is in my throat;—forthwith I'm a heretic, and am
clapped into prison. Or if I am passing through the country, and
stand near a crowd listening to a new preacher, one of those who have
come from Germany; instantly I'm called a rebel, and am in danger of
losing my head! Have you ever heard one of these preachers?Soest.
Brave fellows! Not long ago, I heard one of them preach in a field,
before thousands and thousands of people. A different sort of dish he
gave us from that of our humdrum preachers, who, from the pulpit,
choke their hearers with scraps of Latin. He spoke from his heart;
told us how we had till now been led by the nose, how we had been
kept in darkness, and how we might procure more light;—ay, and he
proved it all out of the Bible.Jetter.
There may be something in it. I always said as much, and have often
pondered over the matter. It has long been running in my head.Buyck.
All the people run after them.Soest.
No wonder, since they hear both what is good and what is new.Jetter.
And what is it all about? Surely they might let every one preach
after his own fashion.Buyck.
Come, sirs! While you are talking, you; forget the wine and the
Prince of Orange.Jetter.
We must not forget him. He's a very wall of defence. In thinking of
him, one fancies, that if one could only hide behind him, the devil
himself could not get at one. Here's to William of Orange! Hurrah!All.
Now, grey-heard, let's have your toast.Ruysum.
Here's to old soldiers! To all soldiers! War for ever!Buyck.
Bravo, old fellow. Here's to all soldiers. War for ever!Jetter.
War! War! Do ye know what ye are shouting about? That it should slip
glibly from your tongue is natural enough; but what wretched work it
is for us, I have not words to tell you. To be stunned the whole year
round by the beating of the drum; to hear of nothing except how one
troop marched here, and another there; how they came over this
height, and halted near that mill; how many were left dead on this
field, and how many on that; how they press forward, and how one
wins, and another loses, without being able to comprehend what they
are fighting about; how a town is taken, how the citizens are put to
the sword, and how it fares with the poor women and innocent
children. This is a grief and a trouble, and then one thinks every
moment, "Here they come! It will be our turn next."Soest.
Therefore every citizen must be practised in the use of arms.Jetter.
Fine talking, indeed, for him who has a wife and children. And yet I
would rather hear of soldiers than see them.Buyck.
I might take offence at that.Jetter.
It was not intended for you, countryman. When we got rid of the
Spanish garrison, we breathed freely again.Soest.
Faith! They pressed on you heavily enough.Jetter.
Mind your own business.Soest.
They came to sharp quarters with you.Jetter.
Hold your tongue.Soest.
They drove him out of kitchen, cellar, chamber—and bed. (They
You are a blockhead.Buyck.
Peace, sirs! Must the soldier cry peace? Since you will not hear
anything about us, let us have a toast of your own—a citizen's
We're all ready for that! Safety and peace!Soest.
Order and freedom!Buyck.
Bravo! That will content us all.(They
ring their glasses together, and joyously repeat the words, but in
such a manner that each utters a different sound, and it becomes a
kind of chant. The old man listens, and at length joins in.)All.
Safety and peace! Order and freedom!SCENE
II.—-Palace of the RegentMargaret
of Parma (in a hunting dress). Courtiers, Pages, ServantsRegent.
Put off the hunt, I shall not ride to-day. Bid Machiavel attend me.[Exeunt
all but the Regent.