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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 1 - Act 1 - Scene 2. Paris. Office Of The Minister Of Marine
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 1 - Act 1 - Scene 2. Paris. Office Of The Minister Of Marine Post by :ianhollander Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :3554

Click below to download : The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 1 - Act 1 - Scene 2. Paris. Office Of The Minister Of Marine (Format : PDF)

The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 1 - Act 1 - Scene 2. Paris. Office Of The Minister Of Marine

PART FIRST. ACT FIRST. SCENE II.

(ADMIRAL DECRES seated at a table. A knock without.)


DECRES

Come in! Good news, I hope!

(An attendant enters.)


ATTENDANT
A courier, sir.


DECRES

Show him in straightway.

(The attendant goes out.)

From the Emperor
As I expected!


COURIER

Sir, for your own hand
And yours alone.


DECRES

Thanks. Be in waiting near.

(The courier withdraws.)


DECRES reads:

"I am resolved that no wild dream of Ind,
And what we there might win; or of the West,
And bold re-conquest there of Surinam
And other Dutch retreats along those coasts,
Or British islands nigh, shall draw me now
From piercing into England through Boulogne
As lined in my first plan. If I do strike,
I strike effectively; to forge which feat
There's but one way--planting a mortal wound
In England's heart--the very English land--
Whose insolent and cynical reply
To my well-based complaint on breach of faith
Concerning Malta, as at Amiens pledged,
Has lighted up anew such flames of ire
As may involve the world.--Now to the case:
Our naval forces can be all assembled
Without the foe's foreknowledge or surmise,
By these rules following; to whose text I ask
Your gravest application; and, when conned,
That steadfastly you stand by word and word,
Making no question of one jot therein.

"First, then, let Villeneuve wait a favouring wind
For process westward swift to Martinique,
Coaxing the English after. Join him there
Gravina, Missiessy, and Ganteaume;
Which junction once effected all our keels--
While the pursuers linger in the West
At hopeless fault.--Having hoodwinked them thus,
Our boats skim over, disembark the army,
And in the twinkling of a patriot's eye
All London will be ours.

"In strictest secrecy carve this to shape--
Let never an admiral or captain scent
Save Villeneuve and Ganteaume; and pen each charge
With your own quill. The surelier to outwit them
I start for Italy; and there, as 'twere
Engrossed in fetes and Coronation rites,
Abide till, at the need, I reach Boulogne,
And head the enterprize.--NAPOLEON."

(DECRES reflects, and turns to write.)


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

He buckles to the work. First to Villeneuve,
His onetime companion and his boyhood's friend,
Now lingering at Toulon, he jots swift lines,
The duly to Ganteaume.--They are sealed forthwith,
And superscribed: "Break not till on the main."

(Boisterous singing is heard in the street.)


SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

I hear confused and simmering sounds without,
Like those which thrill the hives at evenfall
When swarming pends.


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

They but proclaim the crowd,
Which sings and shouts its hot enthusiasms
For this dead-ripe design on England's shore,
Till the persuasion of its own plump words,
Acting upon mercurial temperaments,
Makes hope as prophecy. "Our Emperor
Will show himself (say they) in this exploit
Unwavering, keen, and irresistible
As is the lightning prong. Our vast flotillas
Have been embodied as by sorcery;
Soldiers made seamen, and the ports transformed
To rocking cities casemented with guns.
Against these valiants balance England's means:
Raw merchant-fellows from the counting-house,
Raw labourers from the fields, who thumb for arms
Clumsy untempered pikes forged hurriedly,
And cry them full-equipt. Their batteries,
Their flying carriages, their catamarans,
Shall profit not, and in one summer night
We'll find us there!"


RECORDING ANGEL

And is this prophecy true?


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Occasion will reveal.


SHADE OF EARTH

What boots it, Sire,
To down this dynasty, set that one up,
Goad panting peoples to the throes thereof,
Make wither here my fruit, maintain it there,
And hold me travailling through fineless years
In vain and objectless monotony,
When all such tedious conjuring could be shunned
By uncreation? Howsoever wise
The governance of these massed mortalities,
A juster wisdom his who should have ruled
They had not been.


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Nay, something hidden urged
The giving matter motion; and these coils
Are, maybe, good as any.


SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

But why any?


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Sprite of Compassions, ask the Immanent!
I am but an accessory of Its works,
Whom the Ages render conscious; and at most
Figure as bounden witness of Its laws.


SPIRIT OF THE PITIES

How ask the aim of unrelaxing Will?
Tranced in Its purpose to unknowingness?
(If thy words, Ancient Phantom, token true.)


SPIRIT OF THE YEARS

Thou answerest well. But cease to ask of me.
Meanwhile the mime proceeds.--We turn herefrom,
Change our homuncules, and observe forthwith
How the High Influence sways the English realm,
And how the jacks lip out their reasonings there.

(The Cloud-curtain draws.)

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