Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

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

  • An Apartment in the Castle.
  • Enter, as from the Marriage, OTHO, LUDOLPH, AURANTHE, CONRAD, Nobles, Knights, Ladies, etc., etc., etc. Music.
  • Otho. Now, Ludolph! Now, Auranthe! daughter fair!
  • What can I find to grace your nuptial day
  • More than my love, and these wide realms in fee?
  • Ludolph. I have too much.
  • Auranthe. And I, my liege, by far.
  • Ludolph. Auranthe! I have! O, my bride, my love!
  • Not all the gaze upon us can restrain
  • From adoration, and my foolish tongue
  • From uttering soft responses to the love
  • I see in thy mute beauty beaming forth!
  • Fair creature, bless me with a single word!
  • All mine!
  • Auranthe. Spare, spare me, my lord; I swoon else.
  • Ludolph. Soft beauty! by to-morrow I should die,
  • Wert thou not mine. (They talk apart.)
  • First lady. How deep she has bewitch’d him!
  • FIrst knight. Ask you for her receipt for her love philtres.
  • Second lady. They hold the Emperor in admiration.
  • Otho. If ever king was happy, that am I!
  • Devoted, made a slave to this day’s joy,
  • What are the cities ’yond the Alps to me,
  • The provinces about the Danube’s mouth,
  • The promise of fair soil beyond the Rhone;
  • Or routing out of Hyperborean hordes,
  • To these fair children, stars of a new age?
  • Unless perchance I might rejoice to win
  • This little ball of earth, and chuck it them
  • To play with! aur. Nay, my lord, I do not know.
  • Ludolph. Let me not famish.
  • Otho. Good Franconia,
  • That unless heaven would send me back my son,
  • My Arab, — no soft music should enrich
  • The cool wine, kiss’d off with a soldier’s smack;
  • Now all my empire, barter’d for one feast,
  • Seems poverty.
  • Conrad. Upon the neighbour-plain
  • The herald’s have prepar’d a royal lists;
  • Your knights, found war-proof in the bloody field,
  • Speed to the game. Oth. Well, Ludolph, what say you?
  • Ludolph. My lord!
  • Otho. A tourney?
  • Conrad. Or, if’t please you best —
  • Ludolph. I want no more!
  • First lady. He soars!
  • Second lady. Past all reason.
  • Ludolph. Though heaven’s choir
  • Should in a vast circumference descend,
  • And sing for my delight, I’d stop my ears!
  • Though bright Apollo’s car stood burning here,
  • And he put out an arm to bid me mount,
  • His touch an immortality, not I!
  • This earth, this palace, this room, Auranthe!
  • Otho. This is a little painful; just too much.
  • I shall believe in wizard-woven loves
  • And old romances; but I’ll break the spell.
  • Ludolph! con. He will be calm, anon.
  • Ludolph. You call’d!
  • Otho. Come, come, a little sober reason, ludolph.
  • Ludolph. Yes, yes, yes, I offend. You must forgive me;
  • Not being quite recover’d from the stun
  • Of your large bounties. A tourney, is it not? (A sennet heard faintly.)
  • Conrad. The trumpets rech us.
  • Ethelbert (without). On your peril, sirs,
  • Detain us!
  • First Voice (without). Let not the abbot pass. Voic. No,
  • Second Voice (without). No,
  • On your lives!
  • First Voice (without). Holy father, you must not.
  • Ethelbert (without. Otho!
  • Otho. Who calls on Otho?
  • Ethelbert (without). Ethelbert!
  • Otho. Let him come in.
  • Enter ETHELBERT, leading in ERMINIA.)
  • Thou cursed abbot, why
  • Hast brought pollution to our holy rites?
  • Hast thou no fear of hangman, or the faggot?
  • Mad churchman, would’st thou be impal’d alive?
  • Ludolph. What portent — what strange prodigy is this?
  • Conrad. Away!
  • Ethelbert. You, Duke?
  • Erminia. Albert has surely fail’d me!
  • Ethelbert. A sad delay!
  • Conrad. Away, thou guilty thing!
  • Ethelbert. You again, Duke? Justice, most mighty Otho!
  • You — go to your sister there and plot again,
  • A quick plot, swift as thought to save your heads;
  • For lo! the toils are spread around your den,
  • The world is all agape to see dragg’d forth
  • Two ugly monsters.
  • Ludolph. What means he, my lord?
  • Conrad. I cannot guess.
  • Ethelbert. Best ask your lady sister,
  • Whether the riddle puzzles her beyond
  • The power of utterance.
  • Conrad. Foul barbarian, cease;
  • The Princess faints!
  • Ludolph. Stab him! O, sweetest wife! (Attendants bear off AURANTHE.)
  • Erminia. Alas!
  • Ethelbert. Your wife!
  • Ludolph. Aye, Satan! does that yerk ye?
  • Ethelbert. Wife! so soon!
  • Ludolph. Aye, wife! Oh, impudence!
  • Thou bitter mischief! Venomous mad priest!
  • How durst thou lift those beetle brows at me?
  • Me — the Prince Ludolph, in this presence here,
  • Upon my marriage-day, and scandalize
  • My joys with such opprobrious surprise?
  • Wife! Why dost linger on that syllable,
  • As if it were some demon’s name pronounc’d
  • The sleepy thunder? Hast no sense of fear?
  • No ounce of man in thy mortality?
  • Tremble! for, at my nod, the sharpen’d axe
  • Will make thy bold tongue quiver to the roots,
  • Those grey lids wink, and thou not know it, monk!
  • Ethelbert. O, poor deceived Prince! I pity thee!
  • Great Otho! I claim justice —
  • Ludolph. Thou shalt have’t!
  • Thine arms from forth a pulpit of hot fire
  • Shall sprawl distracted! O that that dull cowl
  • Were some most sensitive portion of thy life,
  • That I might give it to my hounds to tear!
  • Thy girdle some fine zealous-pained nerve
  • To girth my saddle! And those devil’s beads
  • Each one a life, that I might, every day,
  • Crush one with Vulcan’s hammer!
  • Otho. Peace, my son;
  • You far outstrip my spleen in this affair.
  • Let us be calm, and hear the abbot’s plea
  • For this intrusion.
  • Ludolph. I am silent, sire.
  • Otho. Conrad, see all depart not wanted here. (Exeunt knights, ladies, etc.)
  • Ludolph, be calm. Ethelbert, peace awhile.
  • This mystery demands an audience
  • Of a just judge, and that will Otho be.
  • Ludolph, old Ethelbert, be sure, comes not
  • To beard us for no cause; he’s not the man
  • To cry himself up an ambassador
  • Without credentials.
  • Ludolph. I’ll chain up myself.
  • Otho. Old abbot, stand Here forth. Lady Erminia,
  • Sit. And now, abbot! what have you to say?
  • Our ear is open. First we here denounce
  • Hard penalties against thee, if’t be found
  • The cause for which you have disturb’d us here,
  • Making our bright hours muddy, be a thing
  • Of little moment.
  • Ethelbert. See this innocent!
  • Otho! thou father of the people call’d,
  • Is her life nothing? Her fair honour nothing?
  • Her tears from matins until even-song
  • Nothing? Her burst heart nothing? Emperor!
  • Is this your gentle niece — the simplest flower
  • Of the world’s herbal — this fair lily blanch’d
  • Still with the dews of piety, this meek lady
  • Here sitting like an angel newly-shent,
  • Who veils its snowy wings and grows all pale, —
  • Is she nothing?
  • Otho. What more to the purpose, abbot?
  • Ludolph. Whither is he winding?
  • Conrad. No clue yet!
  • Ethelbert. Foul, poisonous, malignant whisperings;
  • Nay open speech, rude mockery grown common,
  • Against the spotless nature and clear fame
  • Of the Princess Erminia, your niece.
  • I have intruded here thus suddenly,
  • Because I hold those base weeds with tight hand
  • Which now disfigure her fair growing stem,
  • Waiting but for your sign to pull them up
  • By the dark roots, and leave her palpable,
  • To all men’s sight, a lady innocent.
  • The ignominy of that whisper’d tale
  • About a midnight gallant, seen to climb
  • A window to her chamber neighbour’d near,
  • I will from her turn off, and put the load
  • On the right shoulders; on that wretch’s head,
  • Who, by close stratagems, did save herself,
  • Chiefly by shifting to this lady’s room
  • A rope-ladder for false witness.
  • Ludolph. Most atrocious!
  • Otho. Ethelbert, proceed.
  • Ethelbert. With sad lips I shall
  • For, in the healing of one wound, I fear
  • To make a greater. His young Highness here
  • To-day was married.
  • Ludolph. Good.
  • Ethelbert. Yet why do I delay to spread abroad
  • The names of those two vipers, from whose jaws
  • A deadly breath went forth to taint and blast
  • This guileless lady?
  • Otho. Abbot, speak their names.
  • Ethelbert. A minute first. It cannot be — but may
  • I ask, great judge, if you to-day have put
  • A letter by unread?
  • Otho. Does’t end in this?
  • Conrad. Out with their names!
  • Ethelbert. Bold sinner, say you so?
  • Ludolph. Out, tedious monk!
  • Otho. Confess, or by the wheel —
  • Ethelbert. My evidence cannot be far away;
  • And, though it never come, be on my head
  • The crime of passing an attaint upon
  • The slanderers of this virgin.
  • Ludolph. Speak aloud!
  • Ethelbert. Auranthe, and her brother there.
  • Conrad. Amaze!
  • Ludolph. Throw them from the windows!
  • Otho. Do what you will!
  • Ludolph. What shall I do with them?
  • Something of quick dispatch, for should she hear,
  • My soft Auranthe, her sweet mercy would
  • Prevail against my fury. Damned priest!
  • What swift death wilt thou die? As to the lady
  • I touch her not.
  • Ethelbert. Illustrious Otho, stay!
  • An ample store of misery thou hast,
  • With more bad bitter grain, too difficult
  • A cud for the repentance of a man
  • Grey-growing. To thee only I appeal,
  • Not to thy noble son, whose yeasting youth
  • Will clear itself, and crystal turn again.
  • A young man’s heart, by heaven’s blessing, is
  • A wide world, where a thousand new-born hopes
  • Empurple fresh the melancholy blood
  • But an old man’s is narrow, tenantless
  • Of hopes, and stuff’d with many memories,
  • Which, being pleasant, ease the heavy pulse —
  • Painful, clog up and stagnate. Weigh this matter
  • Even as a miser balances his coin;
  • And, in the name of mercy, give command
  • That your knight Albert be brought here before you.
  • He will expound this riddle; he will show
  • A noon-day proof of bad Auranthe’s guilt.
  • Otho. Let Albert straight be summon’d. (Exit one of the Nobles.)
  • Ludolph. Impossible!
  • I cannot doubt — I will not — no — to doubt
  • Is to be ashes! — wither’d up to death!
  • Otho. My gentle Ludolph, harbour not a fear;
  • You do yourself much wrong.
  • Ludolph. O, wretched dolt!
  • Wilt thou infuriate me? Proof! Thou fool!
  • Why wilt thou teaze impossibility
  • With such a thick-skull’d persevering suit?
  • Fanatic obstinacy! Prodigy!
  • Monster of folly! Ghost of a turn’d brain!
  • You puzzle me, — you haunt me, — when I dream
  • Of you my brain will split! Bald sorcerer!
  • Juggler! May I come near you? On my soul
  • I know not whether to pity, curse, or laugh. (Enter ALBERT, and the Nobleman.)
  • Here, Albert, this old phantom wants a proof!
  • Give him his proof! A camel’s load of proofs!
  • Otho. Albert, I speak to you as to a man
  • Whose words once utter’d pass like current gold;
  • And therefore fit to calmly put a close
  • To this brief tempest. Do you stand possess’d
  • Of any proof against the honourableness
  • Of Lady Auranthe, our new-spoused daughter?
  • Albert. You chill me with astonishment. How’s this?
  • My liege, what proof should I have ’gainst a fame
  • Impossible of slur? (OTHO rises.)
  • Erminia. O wickedness!
  • Ethelbert. Deluded monarch, ’tis a cruel lie.
  • Otho. Peace, rebel-priest!
  • Conrad. Insult beyond credence!
  • Ludolph. We have awaken’d from!
  • A foolish dream that from my brow has wrung
  • A wrathful dew. O folly! why did I
  • So act the lion with this silly gnat?
  • Let them depart. Lady Erminia!
  • I ever griev’d for you, as who did not?
  • But now you have, with such a brazen front,
  • So most maliciously, most madly striven
  • To dazzle the soft moon, when tenderest clouds
  • Should be unloop’d around to curtain her;
  • I leave you to the desert of the world
  • Almost with pleasure. Let them be set free
  • For me! I take no personal revenge
  • More than against a nightmare, which a man
  • Forgets in the new dawn. (Exit LUDOLPH.)
  • Otho. Still in extremes! No, they must not be loose.
  • Ethelbert. Albert, I must suspect thee of a crime
  • So fiendish —
  • Otho. Fear’st thou not my fury, monk?
  • Conrad, be they in your sure custody
  • Till we determine some fit punishment.
  • It is so mad a deed, I must reflect
  • And question them in private; for perhaps,
  • By patient scrutiny, we may discover
  • In care of the physicians. (Exeunt OTHO and Nobles; ALBERT following.)
  • Conrad. My guards, ho!
  • Erminia. Albert, will you follow there?
  • Will you creep dastardly behind his back,
  • And slink away from a weak woman’s eye?
  • Turn, thou court-Janus! thou forget’st thyself;
  • Here is the Duke, waiting with open arms, (Enter Guards.)
  • To thank thee; here congratulate each other;
  • Wring hands; embrace; and swear how lucky ’twas
  • That I, by happy chance, hit the right man
  • Of All the world to trust in. Al. Trust! to me!
  • Conrad (aside). He is the sole one in this mystery.
  • Erminia. Well, I give up, and save my prayers for heaven!
  • You, who could do this deed, would ne’er relent,
  • Though, at my words, the hollow prison-vaults
  • Would groan for pity.
  • Conrad. Manacle them both!
  • Ethelbert. I know it — it must be — I see it all!
  • Albert, thou art the minion!
  • Erminia. Ah! too plain —
  • Conrad. Silence! Gag up their mouths! I cannot bear
  • More of this brawling. That the Emperor
  • Had plac’d you in some other custody!
  • Bring them away. (Exeunt all but ALBERT.)
  • Albert. Though my name perish from the book of honour,
  • Almost before the recent ink is dry,
  • And be no more remember’d after death,
  • Than any drummer’s in the muster-roll;
  • Yet shall I season high my sudden fall
  • With triumph o’er that evil-witted Duke!
  • He shall feel what it is to have the hand
  • Of a man drowning, on his hateful throat.
  • Enter GERSA and SIGIFRED.
  • Gersa. What discord is at ferment in this house?
  • Sigifred. We are without conjecture; not a soul
  • We met could answer any certainty.
  • Gersa. Young Ludolph, like a fiery arrow, shot
  • By us.
  • Sigifred. The Emperor, with cross’d arms, in thought.
  • Gersa. In one room music, in another sadness,
  • Perplexity every where!
  • Albert. A trifle mere!
  • Follow; your presences will much avail
  • To tune our jarred spirits. I’ll explain. (Exeunt.)

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act III SCENE II.” 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_iii_scene_ii.html.

Chicago Style: Note

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

Chicago Style: Bibliography

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