Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act II SCENE I

  • An Antichamber 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 circumstance; to me ’tis all a mist!
  • Sigifred. I say no more.
  • Ludolph. It seems I am to wait
  • Here in the antiroom; — 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 GONFRID, from the Council-room.
  • Ludolph. Well, sir! What!
  • Gonfrid. 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.
  • Enter the Nobles from the Council-room. They cross the stage,
  • bowing with 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 in 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 turn’d
  • 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 leach!
  • 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 jailor, whose swart monstrous face
  • Shall be a hell to look upon, and she —
  • Ludolph. Ha!
  • Otho. Shall be your fair Auranthe.
  • Ludolph. Amaze! Amaze!
  • Otho. To-day you marry her.
  • Ludolph. This is a sharp jest!
  • Otho. No. None at all. When have I said a lie?
  • Ludolph. If I sleep not, I am a waking wretch.
  • Otho. Not one word more. Let me embrace my child.
  • Ludolph. I dare not.’Twould pollute so good a father!
  • O heavy crime! that your son’s blinded eyes
  • Could not see all his parent’s love aright,
  • As now I see it. Be not kind to me —
  • Punish me not with favour.
  • Are you sure,
  • Ludolph, you have no saving plea in store?
  • Ludolph. My father, none!
  • Otho. Then you astonish me.
  • Ludolph. No, I have no plea. Disobedience,
  • Rebellion, obstinacy, blasphemy,
  • Are all my counsellors. If they can make
  • My crooked deed show good and plausible,
  • Then grant me loving pardon, but not else,
  • Good gods! not else, in any way, my liege!
  • Otho. You are a most perplexing, noble boy.
  • Ludolph. You not less a perplexing noble father.
  • Otho. Well, you shall have free passport through the gates.
  • Farewell!
  • Ludolph. Farewell! and by these tears believe,
  • And still remember, I repent in pain
  • All my misdeeds!
  • Otho. Ludolph, I will! I will!
  • But, ludolph, ere you go, I would enquire
  • If you, in all your wandering, ever met
  • A certain Arab haunting in these parts.
  • Ludolph. No, my good lord, I cannot say I did.
  • Otho. Make not your father blind before his time;
  • Nor let these arms paternal hunger more
  • For an embrace, to dull the appetite
  • Of my great love for thee, my supreme child!
  • Come close, and let me breathe into thine ear.
  • I knew you through disguise. You are the Arab!
  • You can’t deny it. (Embracing him.)
  • Ludolph. Happiest of days!
  • Otho. We’ll make it so.
  • Ludolph. ’Stead of one fatted calf
  • Ten hecatombs shall bellow out their last,
  • Smote ’twixt the horns by the death-stunning mace
  • Of Mars, and all the soldiery shall feast
  • Nobly as Nimrod’s masons, when the towers
  • Of Nineveh new kiss’d the parted clouds!
  • Otho. Large as a god speak out, where all is thine.
  • Ludolph. Aye, father, but the fire in my sad breast
  • Is quench’d with inward tears! I must rejoice
  • For you, whose wings so shadow over me
  • In tender victory, but for myself
  • I still must mourn. The fair Auranthe mine!
  • Too great a boon! I pr’ythee let me ask
  • What more than I know of could so have changed
  • Your purpose touching her.
  • Otho. At a word, this
  • In no deed did you give me more offence
  • Than your rejection of Erminia.
  • To my appalling, I saw too good proof
  • Of your keen-eyed suspicion, — she is naught!
  • Ludolph. You are convinc’d?
  • Otho. Ay, spite of her sweet looks.
  • O, that my brother’s daughter should so fall!
  • Her fame has pass’d into the grosser lips
  • Of soldiers in their cups.
  • Ludolph. ’Tis very sad.
  • Otho. No more of her. Auranthe — Ludolph, come!
  • This marriage be the bond of endless peace! (Exeunt.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act II SCENE I.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.3 , University of Victoria, 5 September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_ii_scene_i.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act II SCENE I,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_ii_scene_i.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act II SCENE I.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_otho_act_ii_scene_i.html.