ACTUS PRIMUS. SCENA PRIMA.
Enter a Merchant and Herman.
Mer. Is he then taken?
Her. And brought back even now, Sir.
Mer. He was not in disgrace?
Her. No man more lov'd, Nor more deserv'd it, being the only man That durst be honest in this Court.
Mer. IndeedWe have heard abroad, Sir, that the State hath sufferedA great change, since the Countesses death.
Her. It hath, Sir.
Mer. My five years absence hath kept me a strangerSo much to all the occurents of my Country,As you shall bind me for some short relationTo make me understand the present times.
Her. I must begin then with a War was madeAnd seven years with all cruelty continuedUpon our Flanders by the Duke of Brabant,The cause grew thus: during our Earls minority,Wolfort, (who now usurps) was employed thitherTo treat about a match between our EarlAnd the Daughter and Heir of Brabant: during which treatyThe Brabander pretends, this Daughter wasStoln from his Court, by practice of our State,Though we are all confirm'd, 'twas a sought quarrelTo lay an unjust gripe upon this Earldom,It being here believ'd the Duke of BrabantHad no such loss. This War upon't proclaimed,Our Earl, being then a Child, although his FatherGood Gerrard liv'd, yet in respect he wasChosen by the Countesses favour, for her Husband,And but a Gentleman, and Florez holdingHis right unto this Country from his Mother,The State thought fit in this defensive War,Wolfort being then the only man of mark,To make him General.
Mer. Which place we have heard He did discharge with ho[n]our.
Her. I, so long,And with so blest successes, that the BrabanderWas forc't (his treasures wasted, and the choiceOf his best men of Armes tyr'd, or cut off)To leave the field, and sound a base retreatBack to his Country: but so broken bothIn mind and means, er'e to make head again,That hitherto he sits down by his loss,Not daring, or for honour, or revengeAgain to tempt his fortune. But this VictoryMore broke our State, and made a deeper hurtIn Flanders, than the greatest overthrowShe ever receiv'd: For Wolfort, now beholdingHimself, and actions, in the flattering glassOf self-deservings, and that cherish't byThe strong assurance of his power, for thenAll Captains of the Army were his creatures,The common Souldier too at his devotion,Made so by full indulgence to their rapinesAnd secret bounties, this strength too well knownAnd what it could effect, soon put in practice,As further'd by the Child-hood of the Earl:And their improvidence, that might have pierc'tThe heart of his designs, gave him occasionTo seize the whole, and in that plight you find it.
Mer. Sir, I receive the knowledge of thus much, As a choice favour from you.
Her. Only I must add, Bruges holds out.
Mer. Whither, Sir, I am going, For there last night I had a ship put in, And my Horse waits me. [Exit.
Her. I wish you a good journey.
Enter Wolfort, Hubert.
Wol. What? Hubert stealing from me? who disarm'd him?It was more than I commanded; take your sword,I am best guarded with it in your hand,I have seen you use it nobly....