Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. III by Kuno Francke (Editor-in-Chief)

Part 3 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Yes, he _might_ say it safely.--General Wrangel,

[_Taking his hand affectionately._]

Come, fair and open. Trust me, I was always
A Swede at heart. Eh! that did you experience
Both in Silesia and at Nuremberg;
I had you often in my power, and let you
Always slip out by some back door or other.
'Tis this for which the Court can ne'er forgive me,
Which drives me to this present step: and since
Our interests so run in one direction,
E'en let us have a thorough confidence
Each in the other.

WRANGEL.

Confidence will come
Has each but only first security.

WALLENST.

The Chancellor still, I see, does not quite trust me;
And, I confess--the game does not lie wholly
To my advantage. Without doubt he thinks,
If I can play false with the Emperor,
Who is my sovereign, I can do the like
With the enemy, and that _the one_ too were
Sooner to be forgiven me than the _other_.
Is not this your opinion, too, Sir General?

WRANGEL.

I have here a duty merely, no opinion.

WALLENST.

The Emperor hath urged me to the uttermost:
I can no longer honorably serve him;
For my security, in self-defence,
I take this hard step, which my conscience blames.

WRANGEL.

That I believe. So far would no one go
Who was not forced to it.

[_After a pause_.]

What may have impell'd
Your princely Highness in this wise to act
Toward your Sovereign Lord and Emperor,
Beseems not us to expound or criticise.
The Swede is fighting for his good old cause,
With his good sword and conscience. This concurrence,
This opportunity, is in our favor,
And all advantages in war are lawful.
We take what offers without questioning;
And if all have its due and just proportions--

WALLENST.

Of what then are ye doubting? Of my will?
Or of my power? I pledged me to the Chancellor,
Would he trust _me_ with sixteen thousand men,
That I would instantly go over to them
With eighteen thousand of the Emperor's troops.

WRANGEL.

Your Grace is known to be a mighty war-chief,
To be a second Attila and Pyrrhus.
'Tis talked of still with fresh astonishment,
How some years past, beyond all human faith,
You call'd an army forth, like a creation:
But yet--

WALLENSTEIN.

But yet?

WRANGEL.

But still the Chancellor thinks
It might yet be an easier thing from nothing
To call forth sixty thousand men of battle,
Than to persuade one sixtieth part of them--

WALLENST.

What now? Out with it, friend!

WRANGEL.

To break their oaths.

WALLENST.

And he thinks _so_? He judges like a Swede,
And like a Protestant. You Lutherans
Fight for your Bible. You are interested
About the cause; and with your _hearts_ you follow
Your banners. Among _you_, whoe'er deserts
To the enemy hath broken covenant
With two Lords at one time. We've no such fancies.

WRANGEL.

Great God in Heaven! Have then the people here
No house and home, no fireside, no altar?

WALLENST.

I will explain that to you, how it stands:--
The Austrian _has_ a country, ay, and loves it,
And has good cause to love it--but this army,
That calls itself the Imperial, this that houses
Here in Bohemia, this has none--no country;
This is an outcast of all foreign lands,
Unclaim'd by town or tribe, to whom belongs
Nothing except the universal sun.
And this Bohemian land for which we fight--
[Loves not the master whom the chance of war,
Not its own choice or will, hath given to it.
Men murmur at the oppression of their conscience,
And power hath only awed but not appeased them;
A glowing and avenging mem'ry lives
Of cruel deeds committed on these plains;
How can the son forget that here his father
Was hunted by the blood-hound to the mass?
A people thus oppress'd must still be feared,
Whether they suffer or avenge their wrongs.]

WRANGEL.

But then the Nobles and the Officers?
Such a desertion, such a felony,
It is without example, my Lord Duke,
In the world's history.

WALLENSTEIN.

They are all mine--
Mine unconditionally--mine on all terms.
Not me, your own eyes you must trust.

[_He gives him the paper containing the written oath._
WRANGEL _reads it through, and, having read it, lays it on
the table, remaining silent_.]

So then?
Now comprehend you?

WRANGEL.

Comprehend who can!
My Lord Duke, I will let the mask drop--yes!
I've full powers for a final settlement.
The Rhinegrave stands but four days' march from here
With fifteen thousand men, and only waits
For orders to proceed and join your army.
Those orders _I_ give out, immediately
We're compromised.

WALLENSTEIN.

What asks the Chancellor?

WRANGEL (_considerately_).

Twelve regiments, every man a Swede--my head
The warranty--and all might prove at last
Only false play--

WALLENSTEIN (_starting_).

Sir Swede!

WRANGEL (_calmly proceeding_).

Am therefore forced
T' insist thereon, that he do formally,
Irrevocably break with the Emperor,
Else not a Swede is trusted to Duke Friedland.

WALLENST.

Come, brief, and open! What is the demand?

WRANGEL.

That he forthwith disarm the Spanish regiments
Attached to the Emp'ror, that he seize on Prague,
And to the Swedes give up that city, with
The strong pass Egra.

WALLENSTEIN.

That is much indeed!
Prague!--Egra's granted--but--but Prague!--'T won't do.
I give you every security
Which you may ask of me in common reason--
But Prague--Bohemia--these, Sir General,
I can myself protect.

WRANGEL.

We doubt it not.
But 'tis not the protection that is now
Our sole concern. We want security
That we shall not expend our men and money
All to no purpose.

WALLENSTEIN.

'Tis but reasonable.

WRANGEL.

And till we are indemnified, so long
Stays Prague in pledge.

WALLENSTEIN.

Then trust you us so little?

WRANGEL (_rising_).

The Swede, if he would treat well with the German,
Must keep a sharp look-out. We have been call'd
Over the Baltic, we have saved the empire
From ruin--with our best blood have we sealed
The liberty of faith and gospel truth.
But now already is the benefaction
No longer felt, the load alone is felt.
Ye look askance with evil eye upon us,
As foreigners, intruders in the empire,
And would fain send us, with some paltry sum
Of money, home again to our old forests.
No, no! my Lord Duke! no!--it never was
For Judas' pay, for chinking gold and silver,
That we did leave our King by the Great Stone[24]
No, not for gold and silver have there bled
So many of our Swedish Nobles--neither
Will we, with empty laurels for our payment,
Hoist sail for our own country. _Citizens_
Will we remain upon the soil, the which
Our Monarch conquer'd for himself, and died.

WALLENST.

Help to keep down the common enemy,
And the fair border land must needs be yours.

WRANGEL.

But when the common enemy lies vanquish'd,
Who knits together our new friendship then?
We know, Duke Friedland! though perhaps the Swede
Ought not to have known it, that you carry on
Secret negotiations with the Saxons.
Who is our warranty, that _we_ are not
The sacrifices in those articles
Which 'tis thought needful to conceal from us?

WALLENSTEIN (_rises_).

Think you of something better, Gustave Wrangel!
Of Prague no more.

WRANGEL.

Here my commission ends.

WALLENST.

Surrender up to you my capital!
Far liever would I face about, and step
Back to my Emperor.

WRANGEL.

If time yet permits--

WALLENST.

That lies with me, even now, at any hour.

WRANGEL.

Some days ago, perhaps. Today, no longer;
No longer since Sesina's been a prisoner.

[WALLENSTEIN _is struck, and silenced_.]

My Lord Duke, hear me--We believe that you
At present do mean honorably by us.
Since _yesterday_ we're sure of that--and now
This paper warrants for the troops, there's nothing
Stands in the way of our full confidence.
Prague shall not part us. Hear! The Chancellor
Contents himself with Altstadt; to your Grace
He gives up Ratschin and the narrow side.
But Egra above all must open to us,
Ere we can think of any junction.

WALLENSTEIN.

You,
You therefore must I trust, and not you me?
I will consider of your proposition.

WRANGEL.

I must entreat that your consideration
Occupy not too long a time. Already
Has this negotiation, my Lord Duke,
Crept on into the second year! If nothing
Is settled this time, will the Chancellor
Consider it as broken off for ever.

WALLENST.

Ye press me hard. A measure such as this,
Ought to be _thought_ of.

WRANGEL.

Ay! but think of this too,
That sudden action only can procure it
Success--think first of this, your Highness.

[_Exit_ WRANGEL.]

SCENE VI

WALLENSTEIN, TERZKY, _and_ ILLO (_re-enter_)

ILLO.

It's all right?

TERZKY.

Are you compromised?

ILLO.

This Swede
Went smiling from you. Yes! you're compromised.

WALLENST.

As yet is nothing settled: and (well weighed)
I feel myself inclined to leave it so.

TERZKY.

How? What is that?

WALLENSTEIN.

Come on me what will come,
The doing evil to avoid an evil
Cannot be good!

TERZKY.

Nay, but bethink you, Duke.

WALLENST.

To live upon the mercy of these Swedes!
Of these proud-hearted Swedes!--I could not bear it.

ILLO.

Goest thou as fugitive, as mendicant?
Bringest thou not more to them than thou receivest?

WALLENST.

How fared it with the brave and royal Bourbon
Who sold himself unto his country's foes,
And pierced the bosom of his father-land?
Curses were his reward, and men's abhorrence
Avenged th' unnatural and revolting deed.

ILLO.

Is that thy case?

WALLENSTEIN.

True faith, I tell thee,
Must ever be the dearest friend of man:
His nature prompts him to assert its rights.
The enmity of sects, the rage of parties,
Long cherish'd envy, jealousy, unite;
And all the struggling elements of evil
Suspend their conflict, and together league
In one alliance 'gainst their common foe--
The savage beast that breaks into the fold,
Where men repose in confidence and peace.
For vain were man's own prudence to protect him.
'Tis only in the forehead nature plants
The watchful eye--the back, without defence,
Must find its shield in man's fidelity.

TERZKY.

Think not more meanly of thyself than do
Thy foes, who stretch their hands with joy to greet thee;
Less scrupulous far was the Imperial Charles,
The powerful head of this illustrious house;
With open arms he gave the Bourbon welcome;
For still by policy the world is ruled.

SCENE VII

_To these enter the_ COUNTESS TERZKY

WALLENST.

Who sent for you? There is no business here
For women.

COUNTESS.

I am come to bid you joy.

WALLENST.

Use thy authority, Terzky; bid her go.

COUNTESS.

Come I perhaps too early? I hope not.

WALLENST.

Set not this tongue upon me, I entreat you:
You know it is the weapon that destroys me.
I am routed, if a woman but attack me:
I cannot traffic in the trade of words
With that unreasoning sex.

COUNTESS.

I had already
Given the Bohemians a king.

WALLENSTEIN (_sarcastically_).

They have one,
In consequence, no doubt.

COUNTESS (_to the others_).

Ha! what new scruple?

TERZKY.

The Duke will not.

COUNTESS.

He _will not_ what he _must_!

ILLO.

It lies with you now. Try. For I am silenced
When folks begin to talk to me of conscience
And of fidelity.

COUNTESS.

How? then, when all
Lay in the far-off distance, when the road
Stretch'd out before thine eyes interminably,
Then hadst thou courage and resolve; and now,
Now that the dream is being realized,
The purpose ripe, the issue ascertain'd,
Dost thou begin to play the dastard now?
Plann'd merely, 'tis a common felony;
Accomplish'd, an immortal undertaking:
And with success comes pardon hand in hand,
For all event is God's arbitrament.

SERVANT (_enters_).

The Colonel Piccolomini.

COUNTESS (_hastily_).

Must wait.

WALLENST.

I cannot see him now. Another time.

SERVANT.

But for two minutes he entreats an audience:
Of the most urgent nature is his business.

WALLENST.

Who knows what he may bring us! I will hear him.

COUNTESS (_laughs_).

Urgent for him, no doubt? but thou may'st wait.

WALLENST.

What is it?

COUNTESS.

Thou shalt be inform'd hereafter.
First let the Swede and thee be compromised.

[_Exit_ SERVANT.]

WALLENST.

If there were yet a choice! if yet some milder
Way of escape were possible--I still
Will choose it, and avoid the last extreme.

COUNTESS.

Desirest thou nothing further? Such a way
Lies still before thee. Send this Wrangel off.
Forget thou thy old hopes, cast far away
All thy past life; determine to commence
A new one. Virtue hath her heroes too,
As well as fame and fortune.--To Vienna
Hence--to the Emperor--kneel before the throne
Take a full coffer with thee--say aloud,
Thou didst but wish to prove thy fealty;
Thy whole intention but to dupe the Swede.

ILLO.

For that too 'tis too late. They know too much;
He would but bear his own head to the block.

COUNTESS.

I fear not that. They have not evidence
To attaint him legally, and they avoid
The avowal of an arbitrary power.
They'll let the Duke resign without disturbance.
I see how all will end. The King of Hungary
Makes his appearance, and 'twill of itself
Be understood that then the Duke retires.
There will not want a formal declaration;
The young King will administer the oath
To the whole army; and so all returns
To the old position. On some morrow morning
The Duke departs; and now 'tis stir and bustle
Within his castles. He will hunt, and build,
And superintend his horses' pedigrees;
Creates himself a court, gives golden keys,
And introduces strictest ceremony
In fine proportions, and nice etiquette;
Keeps open table with high cheer: in brief,
Commences mighty King--in miniature.
And while he prudently demeans himself,
And gives himself no actual importance,
He will be let appear whate'er he likes;
And who dares doubt that Friedland will appear
A mighty Prince to his last dying hour?
Well now, what then? Duke Friedland is as others,
A fire-new Noble, whom the war hath raised
To price and currency, a Jonah's gourd,
An over-night creation of court-favor,
Which with an undistinguishable ease
Makes Baron or makes Prince.

WALLENSTEIN (_in extreme agitation_).

Take her away.
Let in the young Count Piccolomini.

COUNTESS.

Art thou in earnest? I entreat thee! Canst thou
Consent to bear thyself to thy own grave,
So ignominiously to be dried up?
Thy life, that arrogated such an height
To end in such a nothing! To be nothing,
When one was always nothing, is an evil
That asks no stretch of patience, a light evil;
But to become a nothing, having been--

WALLENSTEIN (_starts up in violent agitation_).

Show me a way out of this stifling crowd,
Ye powers of Aidance! Show me such a way
As _I_ am capable of going. I
Am no tongue-hero, no fine virtue-prattler;
I cannot warm by thinking; cannot say
To the good luck that turns her back upon me,
Magnanimously: "Go; I need thee not."
Cease I to work, I am annihilated.
Dangers nor sacrifices will I shun,
If so I may avoid the last extreme;
But ere I sink down into nothingness,
Leave off so little, who began so great,
Ere that the world confuses me with those
Poor wretches whom a day creates and crumbles,
This age and after ages[25] speak my name
With hate and dread; and Friedland be redemption
For each accursed deed.

COUNTESS.

What is there here, then,
So against nature? Help me to perceive it!
O let not Superstition's nightly goblins
Subdue thy clear bright spirit! Art thou bid
To murder?--with abhorr'd, accursed poinard,
To violate the breasts that nourish'd thee?
That _were_ against our nature, that might aptly
Make thy flesh shudder, and thy whole heart sicken,[26]
Yet not a few, and for a meaner object,
Have ventured even this, ay, and perform'd it.
What is there in thy case so black and monstrous?
Thou art accused of treason--whether with
Or without justice is not now the question--
Thou art lost if thou dost not avail thee quickly
Of the power which thou possessest--Friedland! _Duke!_
Tell me where lives that thing so meek and tame,
That doth not all his living faculties
Put forth in preservation of his life?
What deed so daring, which necessity
And desperation will not sanctify?

WALLENST.

Once was this Ferdinand so gracious to me;
He loved me; he esteem'd me; I was placed
The nearest to his heart. Full many a time
We like familiar friends, both at one table,
Have banqueted together. He and I--
And the young kings themselves held me the basin
Wherewith to wash me--and is't come to this?

COUNTESS.

So faithfully preserves thou each small favor,
And hast no memory for contumelies?
Must I remind thee, how at Regensburg
This man repaid thy faithful services?
All ranks and all conditions in the empire
Thou hadst wronged, to make him great,--hadst loaded on thee,
On _thee_, the hate, the curse of the whole world.
No friend existed for thee in all Germany,
And why? because thou hadst existed only
For the Emperor. To the Emperor alone
Clung Friedland in that storm which gather'd round him
At Regensburg in the Diet--and he dropp'd thee!
He let thee fall! he let thee fall a victim
To the Bavarian, to that insolent!
Deposed, stript bare of all thy dignity
And power, amid the taunting of thy foes,
Thou wert let drop into obscurity.--
Say not the restoration of thy honor
Has made atonement for that first injustice.
No honest good-will was it that replaced thee;
The law of hard necessity replaced thee,
Which they had fain opposed, but that they could not.

WALLENST.

Not to their good wishes, that is certain,
Nor yet to his affection I'm indebted
For this high office: and if I abuse it,
I shall therein abuse no confidence.

COUNTESS.

Affection! confidence!--they _needed_ thee.
Necessity, impetuous remonstrant!
Who not with empty names, or shows of proxy,
Is served, who'll have the thing and not the symbol,
Ever seeks out the greatest and the best,
And at the rudder places _him_, e'en though
She had been forced to take him from the rabble--
She, this Necessity, it was that placed thee
In this high office; it was she that gave thee
Thy letters patent of inauguration.
For, to the uttermost moment that they can,
This race still help themselves at cheapest rate
With slavish souls, with puppets! At the approach
Of extreme peril, when a hollow image
Is found a hollow image and no more,
Then falls the power into the mighty hands
Of Nature, of the spirit giant-born,
Who listens only to himself, knows nothing
Of stipulations, duties, reverences,
And, like the emancipated force of fire,
Unmaster'd scorches, ere it reaches them,
Their fine-spun webs, their artificial policy.

WALLENST.

'Tis true! they saw me always as I am--
Always! I did not cheat them in the bargain.
I never held it worth my pains to hide
The bold all-grasping habit of my soul.

COUNTESS.

Nay rather--thou hast ever shown thyself
A formidable man, without restraint;
Hast exercised the full prerogatives
Of thy impetuous nature, which had been
Once granted to thee. Therefore, Duke, not _thou_
Who hast still remained consistent with thyself;
But _they_ are in the wrong, who fearing thee,
Intrusted such a power in hand they fear'd.
For, by the laws of Spirit, in the right
Is every individual character
That acts in strict consistence with itself.
Self-contradiction is the only wrong.
Wert thou another being, then, when thou
Eight years ago pursuedst thy march with fire,
And sword, and desolation, through the Circles
Of Germany, the universal scourge,
Didst mock all ordinances of the empire,
The fearful rights of strength alone exertedst,
Trampledst to earth each rank, each magistracy,
All to extend thy Sultan's domination?
Then was the time to break thee in, to curb
Thy haughty will, to teach thee ordinance.
But no, the Emperor felt no touch of conscience;
What served him pleased him, and without a murmur
He stamp'd his broad seal on these lawless deeds.
What at that time was right, because thou didst it
_For him_, today is all at once become
Opprobrious, foul, because it is directed
_Against him_.--O most flimsy superstition!

WALLENSTEIN (_rising_).

I never saw it in this light before;
'Tis even so. The Emperor perpetrated
Deeds through my arm, deeds most unorderly.
And even this prince's mantle, which I wear,
I owe to what were services to him,
But most high misdemeanors 'gainst the empire.

COUNTESS.

Then betwixt thee and him (confess it Friedland!)
The point can be no more of right and duty,
Only of power and the opportunity.
That opportunity, lo! it comes yonder
Approaching with swift steeds; then with a swing
Throw thyself up into the chariot-seat,
Seize with firm hand the reins, ere thy opponent
Anticipate thee, and himself make conquest
Of the now empty seat. The moment comes;
It is already here, when thou must write
The absolute total of thy life's vast sum.
The constellations stand victorious o'er thee,
The planets shoot good fortune in fair junctions,
And tell thee, "Now's the time!" The starry courses
Hast thou thy life long measured to no purpose?
The quadrant and the circle, were they play-things?

[_Pointing to the different objects in the room_.]

The zodiacs, the rolling orbs of heaven,
Hast pictured on these walls, and all around thee
In dumb, foreboding symbols hast thou placed
These seven presiding Lords of Destiny--
For toys? Is all this preparation nothing?
Is there no marrow in this hollow art,
That even to thyself it doth avail
Nothing, and has no influence over thee
In the great moment of decision?--

WALLENSTEIN. (_during this last speech walks up and down with
inward struggles, laboring with passion; stops suddenly,
stands still, then interrupting the_ COUNTESS).

Send Wrangel to me--I will instantly
Dispatch three couriers--

ILLO (_hurrying out_).

God in heaven be praised!

WALLENST.

It is _his_ evil genius and _mine_.
Our evil genius! It chastises _him_
Through me, the instrument of his ambition;
And I expect no less than that Revenge
E'en now is whetting for _my_ breast the poinard.
Who sows the serpent's teeth, let him not hope
To reap a joyous harvest. Every crime
Has, in the moment of its perpetration,
Its own avenging angel--dark misgiving,
An ominous sinking at the inmost heart.
He can no longer trust me. Then no longer
Can I retreat--so come that which must come.
Still destiny preserves its due relations,
The heart within us is its absolute
Vicegerent.

[_To TERZKY_.]

Go, conduct you Gustave Wrangel
To my state-cabinet.--Myself will speak to
The couriers.--And dispatch immediately
A servant for Octavio Piccolomini.

[_To the _COUNTESS, _who cannot conceal her triumph_.]

No exultation! woman, triumph not!
For jealous are the Powers of Destiny.
Joy premature, and shouts ere victory,
Encroach upon their rights and privileges.
We sow the seed, and they the growth determine.

[_While he is making his exit the curtain drops_.]

* * * * *

ACT II

SCENE I

_Scene, as in the preceding Act_

WALLENSTEIN, OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI

WALLENSTEIN (_coming forward in conversation_).

He sends me word from Linz that he lies sick;
But I have sure intelligence that he
Secretes himself at Frauenberg with Gallas.
Secure them both, and send them to me hither.
Remember, thou takest on thee the command
Of those same Spanish regiments,--constantly
Make preparation, and be never ready;
And if they urge thee to draw out against me,
Still answer YES, and stand as thou wert fetter'd;
I know that it is doing thee a service
To keep thee out of action in this business.
Thou lovest to linger on in fair appearances;
Steps of extremity are not thy province;
Therefore have I sought out this part for thee.
Thou wilt this time be of most service to me
By thy inertness. The mean time, if fortune
Declare itself on my side, thou wilt know
What is to do.

_Enter_ MAX PICCOLOMINI

Now go, Octavio.
This night must thou be off, take my own horses
Him here I keep with me--make short farewell--
Trust me, I think, we all shall meet again
In joy and thriving fortunes.

OCTAVIO (_to his son_).

I shall see you
Yet ere I go.

SCENE II

WALLENSTEIN, MAX PICCOLOMINI

MAX. (_advances to him_).

My General?

WALLENSTEIN.

That I am no longer, if
Thou stylest thyself the Emperor's officer.

MAX.

Then thou wilt leave the army, General?

WALLENST.

I have renounced the service of the Emperor.

MAX.

And thou wilt leave the army?

WALLENSTEIN.

Rather hope I
To bind it nearer still and faster to me.

[_He seats himself_.]

Yes, Max, I have delay'd to open it to thee,
Even till the hour of acting 'gins to strike.
Youth's fortunate feeling doth seize easily
The absolute right, yea, and a joy it is
To exercise the single apprehension
Where the sums square in proof;
But where it happens that of two sure evils
One must be taken, where the heart not wholly
Brings itself back from out the strife of duties,
There 'tis a blessing to have no election,
And blank necessity is grace and favor.
--This is now present: do not look behind thee,--
It can no more avail thee. Look thou forwards!
Think not! judge not! prepare thyself to act!
The Court--it hath determined on my ruin,
Therefore I will be beforehand with them.
We'll join the Swedes--right gallant fellows are they,
And our good friends.

[_He stops himself, expecting_ PICCOLOMINI's _answer_.]

I have ta'en thee by surprise. Answer me not.
I grant thee time to recollect thyself.

[_He rises, retires at the back of the stage_. MAX _remains for a
long time motionless, in a trance of excessive anguish. At his
first motion_ WALLENSTEIN _returns, and places himself before
him_.]

MAX.

My General, this day thou makest me
Of age to speak in my own right and person,
For till this day I have been spared the trouble
To find out my own road. Thee have I follow'd
With most implicit unconditional faith,
Sure of the right path if I follow'd thee.
Today, for the first time, dost thou refer
Me to myself, and forcest me to make
Election between thee and my own heart.

WALLENST.

Soft cradled thee thy Fortune till today;
Thy duties thou couldst exercise in sport,
Indulge all lovely instincts, act forever
With undivided heart. It can remain
No longer thus. Like enemies, the roads
Start from each other. Duties strive with duties.
Thou must needs choose thy party in the war
Which is now kindling 'twixt thy friend and him
Who is thy Emperor.

MAX.

War! is that the name?
War is as frightful as heaven's pestilence,
Yet it is good. Is it heaven's will as that is?
Is that a good war, which against the Emperor
Thou wagest with the Emperor's own army?
O God of heaven! what a change is this!
Beseems it me to offer such persuasion
To thee, who like the fix'd star of the pole
Wert all I gazed at on life's trackless ocean?
O! what a rent thou makest in my heart!
The ingrain'd instinct of old reverence,
The holy habit of obediency,
Must I pluck live asunder from thy name?
Nay, do not turn thy countenance upon me--
It always was as a god looking upon me!
Duke Wallenstein, its power has not departed.
The senses still are in thy bonds, although,
Bleeding, the soul hath freed itself.

WALLENSTEIN.

Max, hear me.

MAX.

O! do it not, I pray thee, do it not!
There is a pure and noble soul within thee
Knows not of this unblest, unlucky doing.
Thy will is chaste, it is thy fancy only
Which hath polluted thee; and innocence--
It will not let itself be driven away
From that world-awing aspect. Thou wilt not,
Thou canst not, end in this. It would reduce
All human creatures to disloyalty
Against the nobleness of their own nature.
'Twill justify the vulgar misbelief
Which holdeth nothing noble in free will
And trusts itself to impotence alone
Made powerful only in an unknown power.

WALLENST.

The world will judge me sternly, I expect it.
Already have I said to my own self
All thou canst say to me. Who but avoids
The extreme, can he by going round avoid it?
But here there is no choice. Yes--I must use
Or suffer violence--so stands the case;
There remains nothing possible but that.

MAX.

O that is never possible for thee!
'Tis the last desperate resource of those
Cheap souls to whom their honor, their good name
Is their poor _saving_, their last worthless _keep_,
Which, having staked and lost, they stake themselves
In the mad rage of gaming. Thou art rich
And glorious; with an unpolluted heart
Thou canst make conquest of whate'er seems highest!
But he, who once hath acted infamy,
Does nothing more in this world.

WALLENSTEIN (_grasps his hand_).

Calmly, Max!
Much that is great and excellent will we
Perform together yet. And if we only
Stand on the height with dignity, 'tis soon
Forgotten, Max, by what road we ascended.
Believe me, many a crown shines spotless now
That yet was deeply sullied in the winning.
To the evil spirit doth the earth belong,
Not to the good. All that the powers divine
Send from above are universal blessings,
Their light rejoices us, their air refreshes,
But never yet was man enrich'd by them
In their eternal realm no _property_
Is to be struggled for--all there is general
The jewel, the all-valued gold we win
From the deceiving Powers, depraved in nature,
That dwell beneath the day and blessed sun-light.
Not without sacrifices are they render'd
Propitious, and there lives no soul on earth
That e'er retired unsullied from their service.

MAX.

Whate'er is human, to the human being
Do I allow--and to the vehement
And striving spirit readily I pardon
The excess of action; but to thee, my General,
Above _all_ others make I large concession.
For thou must move a world, and be the master--
He kills thee who condemns thee to inaction.
So be it then! maintain thee in thy post
By violence. Resist the Emperor,
And, if it must be, force with force repel:
I will not praise it, yet I can forgive it.
But not--not to the _traitor_--yes!--the word
Is spoken out--
Not to the traitor can I yield a pardon.
That is no mere excess! that is no error
Of human nature--that is wholly different;
O that is black, black as the pit of hell!

[WALLENSTEIN _betrays a sudden agitation_.]

Thou canst not hear it _named_, and wilt thou _do_ it?
O, turn back to thy duty! That thou canst
I hold it certain. Send me to Vienna:
I'll make thy peace for thee with the Emperor.
He knows thee not. But I do know thee. He
Shall see thee, Duke, with my unclouded eye,
And I bring back his confidence to thee.

WALLENST.

It is too late! Thou knowest not what has happen'd.

MAX.

Were it too late, and were things gone so far,
That a crime only could prevent thy fall,
Then--fall! fall honorably, even as thou stood'st!
Lose the command. Go from the stage of war,
Thou canst with splendor do it--do it too
With innocence. Thou hast lived much for others,
At length live thou for thy own self. I follow thee;
My destiny I never part from thine.

WALLENST.

It is too late! Even now, while thou art losing
Thy words, one after the other are the milestones
Left fast behind by my post couriers
Who bear the order on to Prague and Egra.

[MAX _stands as convulsed, with a gesture and_ _countenance
expressing the most intense_ _anguish_.]

Yield thyself to it. We act as we are forced.
_I_ cannot give assent to my own shame
And ruin. _Thou_--no--thou canst not forsake me!
So let us do what must be done, with dignity,
With a firm step. What am I doing worse
Than did famed Caesar at the Rubicon,
When he the legions led against his country,
The which his country had delivered to him?
Had he thrown down the sword he had been lost,
As I were if I but disarm'd myself.
I trace out something in me of this spirit;
Give me his luck, _that other thing_ I'll bear.

[MAX _quits him abruptly_. WALLENSTEIN _startled and
overpowered, continues looking after him and is still in
this posture when_ TERZKY _enters_.]

SCENE III

WALLENSTEIN, TERZKY

TERZKY.

Max Piccolomini just left you?

WALLENSTEIN.

Where is Wrangel?

TERZKY.

He is already gone.

WALLENSTEIN.

In such a hurry?

TERZKY.

It is as if the earth had swallow'd him.
He had scarce left thee when I went to seek him.
I wish'd some words with him--but he was gone.
How, when, and where, could no one tell me. Nay,
I half believe it was the devil himself;
A human creature could not so at once
Have vanish'd.

ILLO (_enters_).

Is it true that thou wilt send
Octavio?

TERZKY.

How, Octavio! Whither send him?

WALLENST.

He goes to Frauenburg, and will lead hither
The Spanish and Italian regiments.

ILLO.

No!
Nay, Heaven forbid!

WALLENSTEIN.

And why should Heaven forbid?

ILLO.

Him!--that deceiver! Wouldst thou trust to him
The soldiery? Him wilt thou let slip from thee,
Now in the very instant that decides us--

TERZKY.

Thou wilt not do this--No! I pray thee, no!

WALLENST.

Ye are whimsical.

ILLO.

O but for this time, Duke,
Yield to our warning! Let him not depart.

WALLENST.

And why should I not trust him only this time,
Who have always trusted him? What, then, has happen'd
That I should lose my good opinion of him?
In complaisance to your whims, not my own,
I must, forsooth, give up a rooted judgment.
Think not I am a woman. Having trusted him
E'en till today, today too will I trust him.

TERZKY.

Must it be he--he only? Send another.

WALLENST.

It must be he whom I myself have chosen;
He is well fitted for the business. Therefore
I gave it him.

ILLO.

Because he's an Italian--
Therefore is he well fitted for the business!

WALLENST.

I know you love them not--nor sire nor son--
Because that I esteem them, love them--visibly
Esteem them, love them more than you and others.
E'en as they merit. Therefore are they eye-blights,
Thorns in your foot-path. But your jealousies,
In what affect they me or my concerns?
Are they the worse to _me_ because you hate them?
Love or hate one another as you will,
I leave to each man his own moods and likings;
Yet know the worth of each of you to me.

ILLO.

Von Questenberg, while he was here, was always
Lurking about with this Octavio.

WALLENST.

It happen'd with my knowledge and permission.

ILLO.

I know that secret messengers came to him
From Gallas--

WALLENSTEIN.

That's not true.

ILLO.

O thou art blind,
With thy deep-seeing eyes!

WALLENSTEIN.

Thou wilt not shake
My faith for me--my faith, which founds itself
On the profoundest science. If 'tis false,
Then the whole science of the stars is false;
For know, I have a pledge from Fate itself,
That he is the most faithful of my friends.

ILLO.

Hast thou a pledge, that this pledge is not false?

WALLENST.

There exist moments in the life of man,
When he is nearer the great Soul of the world
Than is man's custom, and possesses freely
The power of questioning his destiny:
And such a moment 'twas, when in the night
Before the action in the plains of Luetzen,
Leaning against a tree, thoughts crowding thoughts,
I look'd out far upon the ominous plain.
My whole life, past and future, in this moment
Before my mind's eye glided in procession,
And to the destiny of the next morning
The spirit, fill'd with anxious presentiment,
Did knit the most removed futurity.
Then said I also to myself: "So many
Dost thou command. They follow all thy stars
And as on some great number set their All
Upon thy single head, and only man
The vessel of thy fortune. Yet a day
Will come when Destiny shall once more scatter
All these in many a several direction:
Few be they who will stand out faithful to thee."
I yearn'd to know which one was faithfullest
Of all, this camp included. Great Destiny,
Give me a sign! And he shall be the man,
Who, on the approaching morning, comes the first
To meet me with a token of his love.
And thinking this, I fell into a slumber.
Then midmost in the battle was I led
In spirit. Great the pressure and the tumult!
Then was my horse kil'd under me; I sank;
And over me away, all unconcernedly,
Drove horse and rider--and thus trod to pieces
I lay, and panted like a dying man;
Then seized me suddenly a savior arm;
It was Octavio's--I awoke at once;
'Twas broad day, and _Octavio_ stood before me.
"My brother," said he, "do not ride today
The dapple, as you're wont; but mount the horse
Which I have chosen for thee. Do it, brother!
In love to me. A strong dream warn'd me so."
It was the swiftness of his horse that snatch'd me
From the hot pursuit of Bannier's dragoons.
My cousin rode the dapple on that day,
And never more saw I of horse or rider.

ILLO.

That was a chance.

WALLENSTEIN (_significantly_).

There's no such thing as chance.
[And what to us seems merest accident
Springs from the deepest source of destiny.]
In brief, 'tis sign'd and seal'd that this Octavio
Is my good angel--and now no word more.

[_He is retiring_.]

TERZKY.

This is my comfort--Max remains our hostage.

ILLO.

And he shall never stir from here alive.

WALLENSTEIN (_stops and turns himself round_).

Are ye not like the women who forever
Only recur to their first word, although
One had been talking reason by the hour!
Know that the human being's thoughts and needs
Are not like ocean billows, blindly moved.
The inner world, his microcosmus, is
The deep shaft out of which they spring eternally.
They grow by certain laws, like the tree's fruit--
No juggling chance can metamorphose them.
Have I the human _kernel_ first examined?
Then I know, too, the future will and action.

[_Exeunt_.]

SCENE IV

_Chamber in the residence of Piccolomini_

OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI (_attired for traveling_), AN ADJUTANT

OCTAVIO.

Is the detachment here?

ADJUT.

It awaits below.

OCTAVIO.

And are the soldiers trusty, Adjutant?
Say, from what regiment hast thou chosen them?

ADJUT. From Tiefenbach's.

OCTAVIO.

That regiment is loyal;
Keep them in silence in the inner court,
Unseen by all, and when the signal peals
Then close the doors; keep watch upon the house,
And all ye meet be instantly arrested.

[_Exit Adjutant_.]

I hope indeed I shall not need their service,
So certain feel I of my well laid plans;
But when an empire's safety is at stake
'Twere better too much caution than too little.

SCENE V

_A Chamber in PICCOLOMINI's Dwelling-House_.

OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI, ISOLANI, _entering_

ISOLANI.

Here am I--Well! who comes yet of the others?

OCTAVIO (_with an air of mystery_).

But, first, a word with you, Count Isolani.

ISOLANI (_assuming the same air of mystery_).

Will it explode, ha?--Is the Duke about
To make the attempt? In me, friend, you may place
Full confidence--Nay, put me to the proof.

OCTAVIO.

That may happen.

ISOLANI.

Noble brother, I am
Not one of those men who in words are valiant,
And when it comes to action skulk away.
The Duke has acted toward me as a friend.
God knows it is so; and I owe him all--
He may rely on my fidelity.

OCTAVIO.

That will be seen hereafter.

ISOLANI.

Be on your guard,
All think not as I think; and there are many
Who still hold with the Court--yes, and they say
That those stolen signatures bind them to nothing.

[OCTAVIO.

Indeed! Pray name to me the chiefs that think so.

ISOLANI.

Plague upon them! all the Germans think so;
Esterhazy, Kaunitz, Deodati, too,
Insist upon obedience to the Court.]

OCTAVIO.

I am rejoiced to hear it.

ISOLANI.

You rejoice

OCTAVIO.

That the Emperor has yet such gallant servants,
And loving friends!

ISOLANI.

Nay, jeer not, I entreat you.
They are no such worthless fellows, I assure you.

OCTAVIO.

I am assured already. God forbid
That I should jest!--In very serious earnest,
I am rejoiced to see an honest cause
So strong.

ISOLANI.

The Devil!--what!--Why, what means this?
Are you not, then--For what, then, am I here?

OCTAVIO.

That you may make full declaration, whether
You will be call'd the friend or enemy
Of the Emperor.

ISOLANI (_with an air of defiance_).

That declaration, friend,
I'll make to him in whom a right is placed
To put that question to me.

OCTAVIO.

Whether, Count,
That right is mine, this paper may, instruct you.

ISOLANI (_stammering_).

Why,--why--what! this is the Emperor's hand and seal! [_Reads_.]
"Whereas, the officers collectively
Throughout our army will obey the orders
Of the Lieutenant-General Piccolomini.
As from ourselves."--_Hem_--Yes! so I--
Yes! yes!--
I--I give you joy, Lieutenant-General!

OCTAVIO.

And you submit you to the order?

ISOLANI.

I--
But you have taken me so by surprise--
Time for reflection one _must_ have--

OCTAVIO.

Two minutes.

ISOLANI.

My God! But then the case is--

OCTAVIO.

Plain and simple
You must declare you, whether you determine
To act a treason 'gainst your Lord and Sovereign,
Or whether you will serve him faithfully.

ISOLANI.

Treason!--My God!--But who talks then of
treason?

OCTAVIO.

That is the case. The Prince-duke is a traitor--
Means to lead over to the enemy
The Emperor's army.--Now, Count!--brief
and full--
Say, will you break your oath to the Emperor?
Sell yourself to the enemy?--Say, will you?

ISOLANI.

What mean you? I--I break my oath, d'ye say,
To his Imperial Majesty?
Did I say so!--When, when have I said that?

OCTAVIO.

You have not said it yet--not yet. This instant
I wait to hear, Count, whether you _will_ say it.

ISOLANI.

Ay! that delights me now, that you yourself
Bear witness for me that I never said so.

OCTAVIO.

And you renounce the Duke then?

ISOLANI.

If he's planning
Treason--why, treason breaks all bonds
asunder.

OCTAVIO.

And are determined, too, to fight against him?

ISOLANI.

He has done me service--but if he's a villain,
Perdition seize him!--All scores are rubb'd off.

OCTAVIO.

I am rejoiced that you are so well disposed.
This night, break off in the utmost secrecy
With all the light-arm'd troops--it must appear
As came the order from the Duke himself.
At Frauenburg's the place of rendezvous;
There will Count Gallas give you further orders.

ISOLANI.

It shall be done.-But you'll remember me
With the Emperor--how well-disposed you
found me.

OCTAVIO.

I will not fail to mention it honorably.

[_Exit_ ISOLANI. _A Servant enters_.]

What, Colonel Butler!--Show him up.

ISOLANI (_returning_).

Forgive me too my bearish ways, old father!
Lord God! how should I know, then, what a great
Person I had before me.

OCTAVIO.
No excuses!

ISOLANI.

I am a merry lad, and if at time
A rash word might escape me 'gainst the Court
Amidst my wine--You know no harm was
meant.

[_Exit_.]

OCTAVIO.

You need not be uneasy on that score
That has succeeded. Fortune favor us
With all the others only but as much!

SCENE VI

OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI, BUTLER

BUTLER.

At your command, Lieutenant-General.

OCTAVIO.

Welcome, as honor'd friend and visitor.

BUTLER.

You do me too much honor.

OCTAVIO (_after both have seated themselves_).

You have not
Return'd the advances which I made you yesterday--
Misunderstood them as mere empty forms.
That wish proceeded from my heart--I was
In earnest with you--for 'tis now a time
In which the honest should unite most closely.

BUTLER.

'Tis only the like-minded can unite.

OCTAVIO.

True! and I name all honest men like-minded.
I never charge a man but with those acts
To which his character deliberately
Impels him; for alas! the violence
Of blind misunderstandings often thrusts
The very best of us from the right track.
You came through Frauenburg. Did the Count Gallas
Say nothing to you? Tell me. He's my friend.

BUTLER.

His words were lost on _me_.

OCTAVIO.

It grieves me sorely,
To hear it: for his counsel was most wise.
I had myself the like to offer.

BUTLER.

Spare
Yourself the trouble--me th' embarrassment,
To have deserved so ill your good opinion.

OCTAVIO.

The time is precious--let us talk openly.
You know how matters stand here. Wallenstein
Meditates treason--I can tell you further,
He has committed treason; but few hours
Have past since he a covenant concluded
With the enemy. The messengers are now
Full on their way to Egra and to Prague.
Tomorrow he intends to lead us over
To the enemy. But he deceives himself;
For Prudence wakes--The Emperor has still
Many and faithful friends here, and they stand
In closest union, mighty though unseen.
This manifesto sentences the Duke--
Recalls the obedience of the army from him,
And summons all the loyal, all the honest,
To join and recognize in me their leader.
Choose--will you share with us an honest cause?
Or with the evil share an evil lot?

BUTLER (_rises_).

His lot is mine.

OCTAVIO.

Is that your last resolve?

BUTLER.

It is.

OCTAVIO.

Nay, but bethink you, Colonel Butler!
As yet you have time. Within my faithful breast
That rashly utter'd word remains interr'd.
Recall it, Butler! choose a better party;
You have not chosen the right one.

BUTLER (_going_).

Any other
Commands for me, Lieutenant-General?

OCTAVIO.

See your white hairs: recall that word!

BUTLER.

Farewell!

OCTAVIO.

What! Would you draw this good and gallant sword
In such a cause? Into a curse would you
Transform the gratitude which you have earn'd
By forty years' fidelity from Austria?

BUTLER (_laughing with bitterness_).

Gratitude from the House of Austria!

[He is going.]

OCTAVIO (_permits him to go as far as the door, then calls after him_).

Butler!

BUTLER.

What wish you?

OCTAVIO.

How was't with the Count?

BUTLER.

Count? what?

OCTAVIO (_coldly_).

The title that you wish'd, I mean.

BUTLER (_starts in sudden passion_).

Hell and damnation!

OCTAVIO (_coldly_).

You petition'd for it--
And your petition was repelled--Was it so?

BUTLER.

Your insolent scoff shall not go by unpunish'd.
Draw!

OCTAVIO.

Nay! your sword to 'ts sheath! and tell me calmly,
How all that happen'd. I will not refuse you
Your satisfaction afterward. Calmly, Butler!

BUTLER.

Be the whole world acquainted with the weakness
For which I never can forgive myself.
Lieutenant-General! Yes; I have ambition.
Ne'er was I able to endure contempt.
It stung me to the quick, that birth and title
Should have more weight than merit has in the army.
I would fain not be meaner than my equal,
So in an evil hour I let myself
Be tempted to that measure. It was folly!
But yet so hard a penance it deserved not.
It might have been refused; but wherefore barb
And venom the refusal with contempt?
Why dash to earth and crush with heaviest scorn
The gray-hair'd man, the faithful veteran?
Why to the baseness of his parentage
Refer him with such cruel roughness, only
Because he had a weak hour and forgot himself?
But nature gives a sting e'en to the worm
Which wanton Power treads on in sport and
insult.

OCTAVIO.

You must have been calumniated. Guess you
The enemy who did you this ill service?

BUTLER.

Be't who it will--a most low-hearted scoundrel!
Some vile court-minion must it be, some Spaniard,
Some young squire of some ancient family,
In whose light I may stand; some envious knave,
Stung to his soul by my fair self-earn'd honors!

OCTAVIO.

But tell me, did the Duke approve that measure?

BUTLER.

Himself impell'd me to it, used his interest
In my behalf with all the warmth of friendship.

OCTAVIO.

Ay? are you sure of that?

BUTLER.

I read the letter.

OCTAVIO.

And so did I--but the contents were different.
[BUTLER _is suddenly struck_.]

By chance I'm in possession of that letter--
Can leave it to your own eyes to convince you.

[_He gives him the letter_.]

BUTLER.

Ha! what is this?

OCTAVIO.

I fear me, Colonel Butler,
An infamous game have they been playing with you.
The Duke, you say, impell'd you to this measure?
Now, in this letter, talks he in contempt
Concerning you; counsels the minister
To give sound chastisement to your conceit,
For so he calls it.

[BUTLER _reads through the letter; his knees tremble, he
seizes a chair, and sinks down in it_.]

You have no enemy, no persecutor;
There's no one wishes ill to you. Ascribe
The insult you received to the Duke only.
His aim is clear and palpable. He wish'd
To tear you from your Emperor: he hoped
To gain from your revenge what he well knew
(What your long-tried fidelity convinced him)
He ne'er could dare expect from your calm reason.
A blind tool would he make you, in contempt
Use you, as means of most abandoned ends.
He has gained his point. Too well has he succeeded
In luring you away from that good path
On which you had been journeying forty years!

BUTLER _(his voice trembling)_.

Can e'er the Emperor's Majesty forgive me?

OCTAVIO.

More than forgive you. He would fain compensate
For that affront, and most unmerited grievance
Sustain'd by a deserving gallant veteran.
From his free impulse he confirms the present,
Which the Duke made you for a wicked purpose.
The regiment, which you now command, is yours.

[BUTLER attempts to rise, sinks down again. He labors
inwardly with violent emotions; tries to speak, and cannot.
At length he takes his sword from the belt, and offers it to
PICCOLOMINI.]

OCTAVIO.

What wish you? Recollect yourself, friend.

BUTLER.

Take it.

OCTAVIO.

But to what purpose? Calm yourself.

BUTLER.

O take it!
I am no longer worthy of this sword.

OCTAVIO.

Receive it then anew, from my hands--and
Wear it with honor for the right cause ever.

BUTLER.

Perjure myself to such a gracious Sovereign!

OCTAVIO.

You'll make amends. Quick! break off from the Duke!

BUTLER.

Break off from him!

OCTAVIO.

What now? Bethink thyself.

BUTLER (_no longer governing his emotion_).

Only break off from him? He dies! he dies!

OCTAVIO.

Come after me to Frauenburg, where now
All who are loyal are assembling under
Counts Altringer and Gallas. Many others
I've brought to a remembrance of their duty:
This night be sure that you escape from Pilsen.

BUTLER (_strides up and down in excessive agitation, then
steps up to_ OCTAVIO _with resolved countenance_).

Count Piccolomini! dare that man speak
Of honor to you, who once broke his troth.

OCTAVIO.

He, who repents so deeply of it, dares.

BUTLER.

Then leave me here upon my word of honor!

OCTAVIO.

What's your design?

BUTLER.

Leave me and my regiment.

OCTAVIO.

I have full confidence in you. But tell me
What are you brooding?

BUTLER.

That the deed will tell you.
Ask me no more at present. Trust to me.
Ye may trust safely. By the living God
Ye give him over, not to his good angel!
Farewell.

[_Exit_ BUTLER.]

SERVANT (_enters with a billet_).

A stranger left it, and is gone.

Book of the day: