Scene I.--Palace of the Regent
Margaret of Parma
Regent. I might have expected it. Ha! when we live immersed in anxiety and toil,
we imagine that we achieve the utmost that is possible; while he, who, from a
distance, looks on and commands, believes that he requires only the possible. O
ye kings! I had not thought it could have galled me thus. It is so sweet to reign!--
and to abdicate? I know not how my father could do so; but I will also.
Machiavel appears in the back-ground
Regent. Approach, Machiavel. I am thinking over this letter from my brother.
Machiavel. May I know what it contains?
Regent. As much tender consideration for me as anxiety for his states. He extols
the firmness, the industry, the fidelity, with which I have hitherto watched over the
interests of his Majesty in these provinces. He condoles with me that the
unbridled people occasion me so much trouble. He is so thoroughly convinced of
the depth of my views, so extraordinarily satisfied with the prudence of my
conduct, that I must almost say the letter is too politely written for a king--
certainly for a brother.
Machiavel. It is not the first time that he has testified to you his just satisfaction.
Regent. But the first time that it is a mere rhetorical figure.
Machiavel. I do not understand you.
Regent. You soon will.--For after this preamble he is of opinion that without
soldiers, without a small army indeed,---I shall always cut a sorry figure here! We
did wrong, he says, to withdraw our troops from the provinces at the
remonstrance of the inhabitants; a garrison, he thinks, which shall press upon the
neck of the burgher, will prevent him, by its weight, from making any lofty spring.
Machiavel. It would irritate the public mind to the last degree.
Regent. The king thinks, however, do you hear?--he thinks that a clever general,
one who never listens to reason, will be able to deal promptly with all parties;--
people and nobles, citizens and peasants; he therefore sends, with a powerful
army, the Duke of Alva.