Thursday, November 18, 2010

William Tell

"I say not but that he deserved death," replied the Landamman; "but for your own sake and for ours, you should have forborne him till the Duke's pleasure was known."

"What tell you us of the Duke?" answered Laurenz Neipperg, the same blue cavalier whom Arthur had seen at the secret rendezvous of the Balese youth, in company with Rudolph,—" Why talk you of Burgundy to us, who are none of his subjects? The Emperor, our only rightful lord, had no title to pawn the town and fortifications of La Ferette, being as it is a dependency of Bale, to the prejudice of our free city. He might have pledged the revenue indeed] and supposing him to have done so, the debt has been paid twice over by the exactions levied by yonder oppressor, who has now received his due. But pass on, Landamman of Uuterwalden. If our actions displease you, abjure them at the footstool of the Duke of Burgundy; but, in doing so, abjure the memory of William Tell, and Staufbacher, of Furst, and Melchtal, the fathers of Swiss freedom."

" You speak truth," said the Landamman; " but it is in an ill-chosen and unhappy time. Patience would have remedied your evils, which none felt more deeply, or would have redressed more willingly, than I. But O, imprudent young man, you have thrown aside the modesty of your age, and the subjection you owe to your elders. William Tell and his brethren were men of years and judgment, husbands and fathers, having a right to be heard in council, and to be foremost in action. Enough —I leave it with the fathers and senators of your own city, to acknowledge or to reprove your actions. —But you, my friends,—you, Banneret of Berne,— you, Rudolph,—above all, you, Nicholas Bonstetten, my comrade and my friend, why did you not take this miserable man under your protection? The action would have shown Burgundy, that we were slandered by those who have declared us desirous of seeking a quarrel with him, or of inciting his subjects to revolt. Now, all these prejudices will be confirmed in the minds of men, naturally more tenacious of evil impressions than of those which are favourable."
The Swiss set "Anne of Geierstein" is an appropriate place for Walter Scott to bring in Swiss patriot William Tell.  November 18, 1307, is considered the date when he famously sent an arrow through an apple sitting atop his son's head.

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