Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 7/The three Electors




Three princes at the Diet met,
The one was Pfalzgrave of the Rhine,
The second, Lord of Saxony,
The third was of the Nassau line:
And at the twelfth hour of the night,
When deepest grew the revelry,
Over the glasses and the dice,
They came to words both loud and high.

First leaped the Pfalzgrave up, and said,
“You see my country on the Rhine,
Its castled crags, its miles on miles
Of precious purple-laden vine,
Its sloping meadows, seas of corn,
Its mills, its orchards on each hand,
Its clustered villages and spires—
Say, is not mine the fairest land?

But then the lord of Saxony
Rose and rebuked his brother knight,
And cried, “My brother, boast not so!
As sunshine is to the dark night,
So are our Saxon hills to yours;
For ours with silver caverns shine,
While your mere slopes of stone and clay
Glow only with the peasant’s vine.”

Then Nassau, last, so calm and grave,
Stirred not, but said, “I boast no mine,
My hills know but the herdsman’s huts,
And wear no crown of fruited vine;
But where I dwell, I dwell at peace,
In loneliest cabins dare to sleep;
My crown, hung on a tree, is safe,
For me no trembling children weep.”

The nobles sate with bonnets slouched,
A golden medal bound each plume,
The flagons shone beneath the lights
In that old panelled tavern-room;
And when Nassau had ceased to speak,
The others rose with generous glee,
And, clasping hands, cried out aloud,
“His is the best of all the three!”
T. W.