Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

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

  • AURANTHE’s Apartment.
  • AURANTHE and CONRAD discovered.
  • Conrad. Well, well, I know what ugly jeopardy
  • We are caged in; you need not pester that
  • Into my ears. Prythee, let me be spared
  • Of remedies with some deliberation.
  • You cannot doubt but ’tis in Albert’s power
  • To crush or save us?
  • Auranthe. No, I cannot doubt.
  • He has, assure yourself, by some strange means,
  • My secret; which I ever hid from him,
  • Knowing his mawkish honesty.
  • Conrad. Cursed slave!
  • Auranthe. Ay, I could almost curse him now myself.
  • Wretched impediment! evil genius!
  • A glue upon my wings, that cannot spread,
  • When they should span the provinces! A snake,
  • A scorpion, sprawling on the first gold step,
  • Conducting to the throne high canopied.
  • Conrad. You would not hear my counsel, when his life
  • Might have been trodden out, all sure and hush’d;
  • Now the dull animal forsooth must be
  • Intreated, managed! When can you contrive
  • The interview he demands?
  • Auranthe. As speedily
  • It must be done as my bribed woman can
  • Unseen conduct him to me; but I fear
  • ’Twill be impossible, while the broad day
  • Comes through the panes with persecuting glare.
  • Methinks, if ’t now were night I could intrigue
  • And settle all this trouble.
  • Conrad. Nonsense! Child!
  • See him immediately; why not now?
  • Auranthe. Do you forget that even the senseless door-posts
  • Are on the watch and gape through all the house;
  • How many whisperers there are about,
  • Hungry for evidence to ruin me
  • Men I have spurn’d, and women I have taunted?
  • Besides, the foolish Prince sends, minute whiles,
  • His pages — so they tell me — to inquire
  • After my health, entreating, if I please,
  • To see me.
  • Conrad. Well, suppose this Albert here;
  • What is your power with him?
  • Auranthe. He should be
  • My echo, my taught parrot! but I fear
  • He will be cur enough to bark at me;
  • Have his own say; read me some silly creed
  • ’Bout shame and pity.
  • Conrad. What will you do then?
  • Auranthe. What I shall do, I know not; what I would
  • Cannot be done; for see, this chamber-floor
  • Will not yield to the pick-axe and the spade, —
  • Here is no quiet depth of hollow ground.
  • Conrad. Sister, you have grown sensible and wise,
  • Seconding, ere I speak it, what is now,
  • I hope, resolv’d between us.
  • Auranthe. Say, what is’t?
  • Conrad. You need not be his sexton too: a man
  • May carry that with him shall make him die
  • Elsewhere, — give that to him; pretend the while
  • You will to-morrow succumb to his wishes,
  • Be what they may, and send him from the castle
  • On some fool’s errand; let his latest groan
  • Frighten the wolves!
  • Auranthe. Alas! he must not die!
  • Conrad. Would you were both hearsed up in stifling lead!
  • Detested —
  • Auranthe. Conrad, hold! I would not bear
  • The little thunder of your fretful tongue,
  • Tho’ I alone were taken in these toils,
  • And you could free me; but remember, sir,
  • You live alone in my security
  • So keep your wits at work, for your own sake,
  • Not mine, and be more mannerly.
  • Conrad. Thou wasp!
  • If my domains were emptied of these folk,
  • And I had thee to starve —
  • Auranthe. O, marvellous!
  • But Conrad, now be gone; the host is look’d for;
  • Cringe to the Emperor, entertain the nobles,
  • And, do ye mind, above all things, proclaim
  • Condoling with Prince Ludolph. In fit time
  • Return to me.
  • Conrad. I leave you to your thoughts. (Exit.)
  • Auranthe (sola). Down, down, proud temper! down, Auranthe’s pride!
  • Why do I anger him when I should kneel?
  • Conrad! Albert! help! help! What can I do?
  • O wretched woman! lost, wreck’d, swallow’d up,
  • Accursed, blasted! O, thou golden crown,
  • Orbing along the serene firmament
  • Of a wide empire, like a glowing moon;
  • And thou, bright sceptre! lustrous in my eyes, —
  • There — as the fabled fair Hesperian tree,
  • Bearing a fruit more precious! graceful thing,
  • Delicate, godlike, magic! must I leave
  • Thee to melt in the visionary air,
  • Ere, by one grasp, this common hand is made
  • Imperial? I do not know the time
  • When I have wept for sorrow; but methinks
  • I could now sit upon the ground, and shed
  • Tears, tears of misery. O, the heavy day!
  • How shall I bear my life till Albert comes?
  • Ludolph! Erminia! Proofs! O heavy day!
  • Bring me some mourning weeds, that I may ’tire
  • Myself, as fits one wailing her own death
  • And throw these jewels from my loathing sight, —
  • Fetch me a missal, and a string of beads, —
  • A cup of bitter’d water, and a crust, —
  • I will confess, O holy father! — How!
  • What is this? Auranthe! thou fool, dolt,
  • Whimpering idiot! up! up! act and quell!
  • I’m safe! Coward! why am I in fear?
  • Albert! he cannot stickle, chew the cud
  • In such a fine extreme, — impossible!
  • Who knocks? (Goes to the door, listens, and opens it. Enter ALBERT.)
  • Albert, I have been waiting for you here
  • With such an aching heart, such swooning throbs
  • On my poor brain, such cruel — cruel sorrow,
  • That I should claim your pity! Art not well?
  • Albert. Yes, lady, well.
  • Auranthe. You look not so, alas!
  • But pale, as if you brought some heavy news.
  • Albert. You know full well what makes me look so pale.
  • Auranthe. No! Do I? Surely I am still to learn
  • Some horror; all I know, this present, is
  • I am near hustled to a dangerous gulph,
  • Which you can save me from, — and therefore safe,
  • So trusting in thy love; that should not make
  • Why should it, love?
  • Albert. You should not ask me that,
  • But make your own heart monitor, and save
  • Me the great pain of telling. You must know.
  • Auranthe. Something has vext you, Albert. There are times
  • When simplest things put on a sombre cast;
  • A melancholy mood will haunt a man,
  • Until most easy matters take the shape
  • Of unachievable tasks; small rivulets
  • Then seem impassable.
  • Albert. Do not cheat yourself
  • With hope that gloss of words, or suppliant action,
  • Or tears, or ravings, or self-threaten’d death,
  • Can alter my resolve.
  • Auranthe. You make me tremble;
  • Not so much at your threats, as at your voice,
  • Untun’d, and harsh, and barren of all love.
  • Albert. You suffocate me Stop this devil’s parley,
  • And listen to me; know me once for all.
  • Auranthe. I thought I did. Alas! I am deceived.
  • Albert. No, you are not deceived. You took me for
  • A man detesting all inhuman crime;
  • And therefore kept from me your demon’s plot
  • Against Erminia. Silent? Be so still;
  • For ever! Speak no more; but hear my words,
  • I have told a lie for you which in the dawn
  • I’ll expiate with truth.
  • Auranthe. O cruel traitor!
  • For I would not set eyes upon thy shame;
  • Albert. I would not see thee dragg’d to death by the hair,
  • Penanced, and taunted on a scaffolding!
  • To-night, upon the skirts of the blind wood
  • That blackens northward of these horrid towers,
  • I wait for you with horses. Choose your fate.
  • Farewell!
  • Auranthe. Albert, you jest; I’m sure you must.
  • You, an ambitious soldier! I, a queen,
  • One who could say, — here, rule these provinces!
  • Take tribute from those cities for thyself!
  • Empty these armouries, these treasuries,
  • Muster thy warlike thousands at a nod!
  • Go! conquer Italy!
  • Albert. Auranthe, you have made
  • The whole world chaff to me. Your doom is fix’d.
  • Auranthe. Out, villain! dastard!
  • Albert. Look there to the door!
  • Who is it?
  • Auranthe. Conrad, traitor!
  • Albert. Let him in. (Enter CONRAD.)
  • Do not affect amazement, hypocrite,
  • At seeing me in this chamber.
  • Conrad. Auranthe?
  • Albert. Talk not with eyes, but speak your curses out
  • Against me, who would sooner crush and grind
  • An innocent lady, gull an emperor,
  • More generous to me than autumn’s sun
  • To ripening harvests.
  • Auranthe. No more insult, sir!
  • Albert. Ay, clutch your scabbard; but, for prudence’ sake,
  • Draw not the sword; ’twould make an uproar, Duke,
  • You would not hear the end of. At nightfall
  • Your lady sister, if I guess aright,
  • Will leave this busy castle. You had best
  • Take farewell too of worldly vanities.
  • Conrad. Vassal!
  • Albert. To-morrow, when the Emperor sends
  • For loving Conrad, see you fawn on him.
  • Good even!
  • Auranthe. You’ll be seen!
  • Albert. See the coast clear then.
  • Auranthe (as he goes). Remorseless Albert! cruel, cruel wretch! (She lets him out.)
  • Conrad. So, we must lick the dust?
  • Auranthe. I follow him.
  • Conrad. How? Where? The plan of your escape?
  • Auranthe. He waits
  • For me with horses by the forest-side,
  • Northward.
  • Conrad. Good, good; he dies. You go, say you?
  • Auranthe. Perforce.
  • Conrad. Be speedy darkness! Till that comes,
  • Fiends keep you company! (Exit.)
  • Auranthe. And you! And you!
  • And all men! Vanish — Oh! Oh! Oh! (Retires to an inner apartment.)

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Otho the Great: A Tragedy in Five Acts: Act IV 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_iv_scene_i.html.

Chicago Style: Note

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

Chicago Style: Bibliography

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