Part 5 out of 13
Were but the echoes of your prior suffrage.--
Most fair and noble has thy conduct been
To us, my General! With thy confidence
Thou hast honor'd us, and shown us grace and favor
Beyond all other regiments; and thou seest
We follow not the common herd. We will
Standby thee faithfully. Speak but one word--
Thy word shall satisfy us, that it is not
A treason which thou meditatest--that
Thou meanest not to lead the army over
To the enemy, nor e'er betray the country.
Me, me are they betraying. The Emperor
Hath sacrificed me to my enemies,
And I must fall, unless my gallant troops
Will rescue me. See! I confide in you.
And be your hearts my stronghold! At this breast
The aim is taken, at this hoary head.
This is your Spanish gratitude, this is our
Requital for that murderous fight at Luetzen!
For this we threw the naked breast against
The halbert, made for this the frozen earth
Our bed, and the hard stone our pillow! never stream
Too rapid for us, nor wood too impervious;
With cheerful spirit we pursued that Mansfeldt
Through all the turns and windings of his flight:
Yea, our whole life was but one restless march:
And homeless, as the stirring wind, we travel'd
O'er the war-wasted earth. And now, even now,
That we have well-nigh finish'd the hard toil,
The unthankful, the curse-laden toil of weapons,
With faithful indefatigable arm
Have roll'd the heavy war-load up the hill,
Behold! this boy of the Emperor's bears away
The honors of the peace, an easy prize!
He'll weave, forsooth, into his flaxen locks
The olive branch, the hard-earn'd ornament
Of this gray head, grown gray beneath the helmet.
That shall he not, while we can hinder it!
No one, but thou, who hast conducted it
With fame, shall end this war, this frightful war.
Thou leddest us out to the bloody field
Of death; thou and no other shalt conduct us home,
Rejoicing, to the lovely plains of peace--
Shalt share with us the fruits of the long toil--
What! Think you then at length in late old age
To enjoy the fruits of toil? Believe it not.
Never, no never, will you see the end
Of the contest! you and me, and all of us,
This war will swallow up! War, war, not peace,
Is Austria's wish; and therefore, because I
Endeavor'd after peace, therefore I fall,
For what cares Austria how long the war
Wears out the armies and lays waste the world!
She will but wax and grow amid the ruin
And still win new domains.
[_The_ Cuirassiers _express agitation by their gestures_.]
Ye're moved--I see
A noble rage flash from your eyes, ye warriors!
Oh that my spirit might possess you now
Daring as once it led you to the battle!
Ye would stand by me with your veteran arms,
Protect me in my rights; and this is noble!
But think not that _you_ can accomplish it,
Your scanty number! to no purpose will you
Have sacrificed you for your General.
No! let us tread securely, seek for friends;
The Swedes have proffer'd us assistance, let us
Wear for a while the appearance of good will,
And use them for your profit, till we both
Carry the fate of Europe in our hands,
And from our camp to the glad jubilant world
Lead Peace forth with the garland on her head!
'Tis then but mere appearances which thou
Dost put on with the Swede! Thou'lt not betray
The Emperor? Wilt not turn us into Swedes?
This is the only thing which we desire
To learn from thee.
What care I for the Swedes?
I hate them as I hate the pit of hell,
And under Providence I trust right soon
To chase them to their homes across their Baltic.
My cares are only for the whole: I have
A heart--it bleeds within me for the miseries
And piteous groaning of my fellow Germans.
Ye are but common men, but yet ye think
With minds not common; ye appear to me
Worthy before all others that I whisper ye
A little word or two in confidence!
See now! already for full fifteen years,
The war-torch has continued burning, yet
No rest, no pause of conflict. Swede and German,
Papist and Lutheran! neither will give way
To the other, every hand's against the other.
Each one is party and no one a judge.
Where shall this end? Where's he that will unravel
This tangle, ever tangling more and more;
It must be cut asunder;
I feel that I am the man of destiny,
And trust, with your assistance, to accomplish it.
_To these enter_ BUTLER
General! This is not right!
What is not right?
It must needs injure us with all honest men.
It is an open proclamation
Well, well--but what is it?
Count Terzky's regiments tear the Imperial Eagle
From off the banners, and instead of it
Have rear'd aloft their arms.
ANSPESSADE (_abruptly to the_ Cuirassiers).
Right about! March!
Cursed be this counsel, and accursed who gave it!
[_To the_ Cuirassiers, _who are retiring_.]
Halt, children, halt! There's some mistake in this;
Hark!--I will punish it severely. Stop!
They do not hear. (_To_ ILLO.) Go after them, assure them,
And bring them back to me, cost what it may.
[ILLO _hurries out_.]
This hurls us headlong. Butler! Butler!
You are my evil genius! Wherefore must you
Announce it in their presence? It was all
In a fair way. They were half won! those madmen
With their improvident over-readiness--
cruel game is Fortune playing with me.
The zeal of friends it is that razes me,
And not the hate of enemies.
_To these enter the_ DUCHESS, _who rushes into the Chamber_
THEKLA _and the_ COUNTESS _follow her_.
What hast thou done?
And now comes this beside.
Forgive me, brother! It was not in my power--
They know all.
What hast thou done?
COUNTESS (_to_ TERZKY).
Is there no hope? Is all lost utterly?
All lost. No hope. Prague in the Emperor's hands,
The soldiery have ta'en their oaths anew.
That lurking hypocrite, Octavio!
Count Max is off too.
Where can he be? He's
Gone over to the Emperor with his father.
[THEKLA _rushes out into the arms of her mother, hiding her
face in her bosom_.]
DUCHESS (_enfolding her in her arms_).
Unhappy child! and more unhappy mother!
WALLENSTEIN (_aside to_ TERZKY).
Quick! Let a carriage stand in readiness
In the court behind the palace. Scherfenberg
Be their attendant; he is faithful to us;
To Egra he'll conduct them, and we follow.
[_To_ ILLO, _who returns_.]
Thou hast not brought them back?
Hear'st thou the uproar?
The whole corps of the Pappenheimers is
Drawn out: the younger Piccolomini,
Their colonel, they require: for they affirm
That he is in the palace here, a prisoner;
And if thou dost not instantly deliver him,
They will find means to free him with the sword.
[_All stand amazed_.]
What shall we make of this?
Said I not so?
O my prophetic heart! he is still here.
He has not betray'd me--he could not betray me.
I never doubted of it.
If he be
Still here, then all goes well; for I know what
Will keep him here forever.
It can't be.
His father has betray'd us, is gone over
To the Emperor--the son could not have ventured
To stay behind.
THEKLA (_her eyes fixed on the door_).
There he is!
_To these enter_ MAX PICCOLOMINI
Yes! here he is! I can endure no longer
To creep on tiptoe round this house, and lurk
In ambush for a favorable moment:
This loitering, this suspense exceeds my powers.
[_Advancing to_ THEKLA, _who has thrown herself into her
Turn not thine eyes away. O look upon me!
Confess it freely before all. Fear no one.
Let who will hear that we both love each other;
Wherefore continue to conceal it? Secrecy
Is for the happy--misery, hopeless misery,
Needeth no veil! Beneath a thousand suns
It dares act openly.
[_He observes the_ COUNTESS _looking on_ THEKLA _with
expressions of triumph_.]
No, Lady! No!
Expect not, hope it not. I am not come
To stay: to bid farewell, farewell forever.
For this I come! 'Tis over! I must leave thee!
Thekla, I must--_must_ leave thee! Yet thy hatred
Let me not take with me. I pray thee, grant me
One look of sympathy, only one look.
Say that thou dost not hate me. Say it to me,
[_Grasps her hand_.]
O God! I cannot leave this spot--I cannot!
Cannot let go this hand. O tell me, Thekla!
That thou dost suffer with me, art convinced
That I cannot act otherwise.
[THEKLA, _avoiding his look, points with her hand to her
father_. MAX _turns round to the Duke, whom he had not till
Thou here? It was not thou whom here I sought.
I trusted never more to have beheld thee.
My business is with her alone. Here will I
Receive a full acquittal from this heart--
For any other I am no more concern'd.
Think'st thou that, fool-like, I shall let thee go,
And act the mock-magnanimous with thee?
Thy father is become a villain to me;
I hold thee for his son, and nothing more:
Nor to no purpose shalt thou have been given
Into my power. Think not that I will honor
That ancient love, which so remorselessly
He mangled. They are now past by, those hours
Of friendship and forgiveness. Hate and vengeance
Succeed--'tis now their turn--I too can throw
All feelings of the man aside--can prove
Myself as much a monster as thy father!
Thou wilt proceed with me, as thou hast power.
Thou know'st, I neither brave nor fear thy rage.
What has detain'd me here, that too thou know'st.
[_Taking_ THEKLA _by the hand_.]
See, Duke! All--all would I have owed to thee,
Would have received from thy paternal hand
The lot of blessed spirits. This hast thou
Laid waste forever--that concerns not thee;
Indifferent thou tramplest in the dust
Their happiness who most are thine. The god
Whom thou dost serve is no benignant deity
Like as the blind, irreconcilable,
Fierce element, incapable of compact,
Thy heart's wild impulse only dost thou follow.
Thou art describing thy own father's heart.
The adder! O, the charms of hell o'erpowered me;
He dwelt within me, to my inmost soul
Still to and fro he pass'd, suspected never
On the wide ocean, in the starry heaven
Did mine eyes seek the enemy, whom I
In my heart's heart had folded! Had I been
To _Ferdinand_ what Octavio was to _me_,
War had I ne'er denounced against him. No,
I never could have done it. The Emperor was
My austere master only, not my friend.
There was already war 'twixt him and me
When he deliver'd the Commander's Staff
Into my hands; for there's a natural,
Unceasing war 'twixt cunning and suspicion;
Peace exists only betwixt confidence
And faith. Who poisons confidence, he murders
The future generations.
I will not
Defend my father. Woe is me, I cannot!
Hard deeds and luckless have ta'en place; one crime
Drags after it the other in close link.
But we are innocent: how have we fallen
Into this circle of mishap and guilt?
To whom have we been faithless? Wherefore must
The evil deeds and guilt reciprocal
Of our two fathers twine like serpents round us?
Why must our fathers'
Unconquerable hate rend us asunder,
Who love each other?
Max, remain with me.
Go you not from me, Max! Hark! I will tell thee--
How when at Prague, our winter quarters, thou
Wert brought into my tent a tender boy,
Not yet accustom'd to the German winters;
Thy hand was frozen to the heavy colors;
Thou wouldst not let them go.--
At that time did I take thee in my arms,
And with my mantle did I cover thee;
I was thy nurse, no woman could have been
A kinder to thee; I was not ashamed
To do for thee all little offices,
However strange to me; I tended thee
Till life return'd; and when thine eyes first open'd,
I had thee in my arms. Since then, when have
Alter'd my feelings toward thee? Many thousands
Have I made rich, presented them with lands;
Rewarded them with dignities and honors;
Thee have I _loved_: my heart, my self, I gave
To thee! They all were aliens: THOU went
Our child and inmate. Max! Thou cans't not leave me;
It cannot be; I may not, will not think
That Max can leave me.
O my God!
Held and sustain'd thee from thy tottering childhood;
What holy bond is there of natural love,
What human tie, that does not knit thee to me?
I love thee, Max! What did thy father for thee,
Which I too have not done, to the height of duty?
Go hence, forsake me, serve thy Emperor;
He will reward thee with a pretty chain
Of gold; with his ram's fleece will he reward thee;
For that the friend, the father of thy youth,
For that the holiest feeling of humanity,
Was nothing worth to thee.
O God! how can I
Do otherwise? Am I not forced to do it?
My oath--my duty--my honor--
How? Thy duty?
Duty to whom? Who art thou? Max! bethink thee
What duties mayst _thou_ have? If _I_ am acting
A criminal part toward the Emperor,
It is my crime, not thine. Dost thou belong
To thine own self? Art thou thine own commander?
Stand'st thou, like me, a freeman in the world,
That in thy actions thou shouldst plead free agency?
On me thou'rt planted, I am thy Emperor;
To obey _me_, to _belong_ to me, this is
Thy honor, this a law of nature to thee!
And if the planet, on the which thou livest
And hast thy dwelling, from its orbit starts,
It is not in thy choice whether or no
Thou'lt follow it. Unfelt it whirls thee onward
Together with his ring, and all his moons.
With little guilt stepp'st thou into this contest,
Thee will the world not censure, it will praise thee,
For that thou held'st thy friend more worth to thee
Than names and influences more removed;
For justice is the virtue of the ruler,
Affection and fidelity the subject's.
Not every one doth it beseem to question
The far-off high Arcturus. Most securely
Wilt thou pursue the nearest duty: let
The pilot fix his eye upon the pole-star.
_To these enter_ NEUMANN
The Pappenheimers are dismounted,
And are advancing now on foot, determined
With sword in hand to storm the house, and free
The Count, their colonel.
WALLENSTEIN (_to_ TERZKY).
Have the cannon planted.
I will receive them with chain-shot.
Prescribe to me with sword in hand! Go, Neumann,
'Tis my command that they retreat this moment,
And in their ranks in silence wait my pleasure.
[NEUMANN _exit_. ILLO _steps to the window_.]
Let him go, I entreat thee, let him go.
ILLO (_at the window_).
Hell and perdition!
What is it?
ILLO. They scale the council-house, the roof's uncovered,
They level at this house the cannon--
They are making preparations now to fire on us.
DUCHESS and COUNTESS.
MAX (_to_ WALLENSTEIN).
Let me go to them!
Not a step!
MAX (_pointing to_ THEKLA _and the_ DUCHESS).
But their life! Thine!
What tidings bring'st thou, Terzky?
_To these_ TERZKY _returning_
Message and greeting from our faithful regiments.
Their ardor may no longer be curb'd in.
They entreat permission to commence the attack;
And if thou wouldst but give the word of onset,
They could now charge the enemy in rear,
Into the city wedge them, and with ease
O'erpower them in the narrow streets.
Let not their ardor cool. The soldiery
Of Butler's corps stand by us faithfully;
We are the greater number. Let us charge them,
And finish here in Pilsen the revolt.
What? shall this town become a field of slaughter,
And brother-killing Discord, fire-eyed,
Be let loose through its streets to roam and rage?
Shall the decision be deliver'd over
To deaf remorseless Rage, that hears no leader?
Here is not room for battle, only for butchery.
Well, let it be! I have long thought of it,
So let it burst them!
[_Turns to_ MAX.]
Well, how is it with thee?
Wilt thou attempt a heat with me? Away!
Thou art free to go. Oppose thyself to me,
Front against front, and lead them to the battle;
Thou'rt skill'd in war, thou hast learn'd somewhat under me,
I need not be ashamed of my opponent,
And never hadst thou fairer opportunity
To pay me for thy schooling.
Is it then,
Can it have come to this?--What! Cousin, cousin!
Have you the heart?
The regiments that are trusted to my care
I have pledged my troth to bring away from Pilsen
True to the Emperor; and this promise will I
Make good, or perish. More than this no duty
Requires of me. I will not fight against thee,
Unless compell'd; for though an enemy,
Thy head is holy to me still.
[_Two reports of cannon_. ILLO _and_ TERZKY _hurry to the
Discharged the ordnance.
WALLENSTEIN (_starting up_).
Ha! Death and hell! I will--
Expose thyself to their blind frenzy?
DUCHESS _and_ COUNTESS.
For God's sake, no!
Not yet, my General
O hold him! hold him!
Do it not;
Not yet! This rash and bloody deed has thrown them
Into a frenzy-fit--allow them time--
Away! too long already have I loiter'd.
They are emboldened to these outrages,
Beholding not my face. They shall behold
My countenance, shall hear my voice--
Are they not _my_ troops? Am I not their General,
And their long-fear'd commander? Let me see
Whether indeed they do no longer know
That countenance, which was their sun in battle!
From the balcony (mark!) I show myself
To these rebellious forces, and at once
Revolt is mounded, and the high-swoln current
Shrinks back into the old bed of obedience.
[_Exit_ WALLENSTEIN; ILLO, TERZKY, _and_ BUTLER _follow_.]
COUNTESS, DUCHESS, MAX _and_ THEKLA
COUNTESS (_to the_ DUCHESS).
Let them but see him--there is hope still, sister.
Hope! I have none!
MAX (_who during the last scene has been standing at a
distance, in a visible struggle of feelings, advances_).
This can I not endure.
With most determined soul did I come hither;
My purposed action seem'd unblamable
To my own conscience--and I must stand here
Like one abhorr'd, a hard inhuman being:
Yea, loaded with the curse of all I love!
Must see all whom I love in this sore anguish,
Whom I with one word can make happy--O!
My heart revolts within me, and two voices
Make themselves audible within my bosom.
My soul's benighted; I no longer can
Distinguish the right track. O, well and truly
Didst thou say, father, I relied too much
On my own heart. My mind moves to and fro--
know not what to do.
What! you know not?
Does not your own heart tell you? O! then I
Will tell it you. Your father is a traitor,
A frightful traitor to us--he has plotted
Against our General's life, has plunged us all
In misery--and you're his son! 'Tis yours
To make the _amends_--Make you the son's fidelity
Outweigh the father's treason, that the name
Of Piccolomini be not a proverb
Of infamy, a common form of cursing
To the posterity of Wallenstein.
Where is that voice of truth which I dare follow!
It speaks no longer in _my_ heart. We all
But utter what our passionate wishes dictate:
O that an angel would descend from heaven,
And scoop for me the right, the uncorrupted,
With a pure hand from the pure fount of Light!
[_His eyes glance on_ THEKLA.]
What other angel seek I? To this heart,
To this unerring heart, will I submit it;
Will ask thy love, which has the power to bless
The happy man alone, averted ever
From the disquieted and guilty--_canst_ thou
Still love me, if I stay? Say that thou canst,
And I am the Duke's--
Think, nothing, Thekla!
Speak what thou _feelest_.
Think upon your father.
I did not question thee, as Friedland's daughter.
Thee, the beloved and the unerring god
Within thy heart, I question. What's at stake?
Not whether diadem of royalty
Be to be won or not--that mightst thou _think_ on.
Thy friend, and his soul's quiet, are at stake:
The fortune of a thousand gallant men,
Who will all follow me; shall I forswear
My oath and duty to the Emperor?
Say, shall I send into Octavio's camp
The parricidal ball? For when the ball
Has left its cannon, and is on its flight,
It is no longer a dead instrument!
It lives, a spirit passes into it,
The avenging furies seize possession of it,
And with sure malice guide it the worst way.
MAX (_interrupting her_).
Nay, not precipitately either, Thekla,
I understand thee. To thy noble heart
The hardest duty might appear the highest.
The human, not the great part, would I act
Even from my childhood to this present hour.
Think what the Duke has done--for me, how loved me
And think, too, how my father has repaid him.
O likewise the free lovely impulses
Of hospitality, the pious friend's
Faithful attachment, these, too, are a holy
Religion to the heart; and heavily
The shudderings of nature do avenge
Themselves on the barbarian that insults them.
Lay all upon the balance, all--then speak,
And let thy heart decide it.
O, thy own
Hath long ago decided. Follow thou
Thy heart's first feeling--
Oh! ill-fated woman.
Is it possible that that can be the right,
The which thy tender heart did not at first
Detect and seize with instant impulse? Go,
Fulfil thy duty! I should ever love thee
What'er thou hadst chosen, thou wouldst still have acted
Nobly and worthy of thee--but repentance
Shall ne'er disturb thy soul's fair peace.
Must leave thee, must part from thee!
To thine own self, thou art faithful, too, to me;
If our fates part, our hearts remain united.
A bloody hatred will divide forever
The houses Piccolomini and Friedland;
But we belong not to our houses. Go!
Quick! quick! and separate thy righteous cause
From our unholy and unblessed one!
The curse of Heaven lies upon our head:
'Tis dedicate to ruin. Even me
My father's guilt drags with it to perdition.
Mourn not for me:
My destiny will quickly be decided.
[MAX _clasps her in his arms in extreme emotion. There
is heard from behind the scenes a loud, wild, long
continued cry_, Vivat Ferdinandus! _accompanied by warlike
instruments_. MAX _and_ THEKLA _remain without motion in
each other's embraces_.]
_To the above enter_ TERZKY
COUNTESS (_meeting him_).
What meant that cry? What was it?
All is lost!
What! they regarded not his countenance?
'Twas all in vain.
They shouted Vivat!--
To the Emperor.
Nay! he was not permitted
Even to address them. Soon as he began,
With deafening noise of warlike instruments
They drown'd his words. But here he comes.
_To these enter_ WALLENSTEIN, _accompanied by_ ILLO _and_
WALLENSTEIN (_as he enters_).
Let our regiments hold themselves
In readiness to march; for we shall leave
Pilsen ere evening.
Yes, my General.
The Governor of Egra is your friend
And countryman. Write to him instantly
By a post-courier. He must be advised,
That we are with him early on the morrow.
You follow us yourself, your regiment with you.
It shall be done, my General!
WALLENSTEIN (_steps between_ MAX _and_ THEKLA, _who have
remained during this time in each other's arms_).
[Cuirassiers _enter with drawn swords, and assemble in the
background. At the same time there are heard from below some
spirited passages out of the Pappenheim March, which seem to
WALLENSTEIN (_to the Cuirassiers_).
Here he is, he is at liberty: I keep him
[_He turns away, and stands so that_ MAX _cannot pass by him
nor approach the_ PRINCESS.]
Thou know'st that I have not yet learnt to live
Without thee! I go forth into a desert,
Leaving my all behind me. O do not turn
Thine eyes away from me! O once more show me
Thy ever dear and honor'd countenance!
[MAX _attempts to take his hand, but is repelled; he turns
to the_ COUNTESS.]
Is there no eye that has a look of pity for me?
[_The_ COUNTESS _turns away from him; he turns to the_
Go where duty calls you. Haply
The time may come, when you may prove to us
A true friend, a good angel at the throne
Of the Emperor.
You give me hope; you would not
Suffer me wholly to despair. No! no!
Mine is a certain misery. Thanks to Heaven!
That offers me a means of ending it.
[_The military music begins again. The stage fills more and
more with armed men_. MAX _sees_ BUTLER _and addresses
And you here, Colonel Butler--and will you
Not follow me? Well, then! remain more faithful
To your new lord than you have proved yourself
To the Emperor. Come, Butler! promise me,
Give me your hand upon it, that you'll be
The guardian of his life, its shield, its watchman.
He is attainted, and his princely head
Fair booty for each slave that trades in murder.
Now he doth need the faithful eye of friendship,
And those whom here I see--
[_Casting suspicious looks on_ ILLO _and_ BUTLER.]
Go--seek for traitors
In Gallas', in your father's quarters. Here
Is only one. Away! away! and free us
From his detested sight! Away!
[MAX _attempts once more to approach_ THEKLA. WALLENSTEIN
_prevents him_. MAX _stands irresolute, and in apparent
anguish. In the mean time the stage fills more and more; and
the horns sound from below louder and louder, and each time
after a shorter interval_.]
Blow! blow! O were it but the Swedish trumpets,
And all the naked swords, which I see here,
Were plunged into my breast! What purpose you?
You come to tear me from this place! Beware,
Ye drive me not to desperation. Do it not!
Ye may repent it!
[_The stage is entirely filled with armed men_.]
Yet more! weight upon weight to drag me down!
Think what ye're doing. It is not well done
To choose a man despairing for your leader;
You tear me from my happiness. Well, then,
I dedicate your souls to vengeance. Mark!
For your own ruin you have chosen me:
Who goes with me, must be prepared to perish.
[_He turns to the background, there ensues a sudden and
violent movement among the Cuirassiers; they surround him,
and carry him off in wild tumult_. WALLENSTEIN_ remains
immovable_. THEKLA _sinks into her mother's arms. The
curtain falls. The music becomes loud and overpowering, and
passes into a complete war march--the orchestra joins it and
continues during the interval between the second and third
_The Burgomaster's House at Egra_
BUTLER (_just arrived_).
Here then he is, by his destiny conducted.
Here, Friedland! and no farther! From Bohemia
Thy meteor rose, traversed the sky awhile,
And here upon the borders of Bohemia
Thou hast foresworn the ancient colors,
Blind man! yet trustest to thy ancient fortunes.
Profaner of the altar and the hearth,
Against thy Emperor and fellow citizens
Thou mean'st to wage the war. Friedland, beware--
The evil spirit of revenge impels thee--
Beware thou, that revenge destroy thee not!
BUTLER _and_ GORDON
Is it you?
How my heart sinks! The Duke a fugitive traitor!
His princely head attainted! O my God!
[Tell me, General, I implore thee, tell me
In full, of all these sad events at Pilsen.]
You have received the letter which I sent you
By a post-courier?
Yes: and in obedience to it
Open'd the stronghold to him without scruple,
For an imperial letter orders me
To follow your commands implicitly.
But yet forgive me! when even now I saw
The Duke himself my scruples recommenced;
For truly, not like an attainted man,
Into this town did Friedland make his entrance;
His wonted majesty beam'd from his brow,
And calm, as in the days when all was right,
Did he receive from me the accounts of office.
'Tis said that fallen pride learns condescension;
But sparing and with dignity the Duke
Weigh'd every syllable of approbation,
As masters praise a servant who has done
His duty and no more.
'Tis all precisely
As I related in my letter. Friedland
Has sold the army to the enemy,
And pledged himself to give up Prague and Egra.
On this report the regiments all forsook him,
The five excepted that belong to Terzky,
And which have follow'd him, as thou hast seen
The sentence of attainder is pass'd on him,
And every loyal subject is required
To give him in to justice, dead or living.
A traitor to the Emperor! Such a noble!
Of such high talents! What is human greatness!
I often said, this can't end happily.
His might, his greatness, and his obscure power
Are but a cover'd pit-fall. The human being
May not be trusted to self-government.
The clear and written law, the deep trod foot-marks
Of ancient custom, are all necessary
To keep him in the road of faith and duty.
The authority intrusted to this man
Was unexampled and unnatural,
It placed him on a level with his Emperor,
Till the proud soul unlearn'd submission. Woe is me!
I mourn for him! for where he fell, I deem
Might none stand firm. Alas! dear General,
We in our lucky mediocrity
Have ne'er experienced, cannot calculate,
What dangerous wishes such a height may breed
In the heart of such a man.
Spare your laments
Till he need sympathy; for at this present
He is still mighty, and still formidable.
The Swedes advance to Egra by forced marches,
And quickly will the junction be accomplish'd.
This must not be! The Duke must never leave
This stronghold on free footing; for I have
Pledged life and honor here to hold him prisoner,
And your assistance 'tis on which I calculate.
O that I had not lived to see this day!
From his hand I received this dignity;
He did himself intrust this stronghold to me,
Which I am now required to make his dungeon.
We subalterns have no will of our own:
The free, the mighty man alone may listen
To the fair impulse of his human nature.
Ah! we are but the poor tools of the law,
Obedience the sole virtue we dare aim at!
Nay! let it not afflict you, that your power
Is circumscribed. Much liberty, much error!
The narrow path of duty is securest.
And all then have deserted him you say?
He has built up the luck of many thousands;
For kingly was his spirit: his full hand
Was ever open! Many a one from dust
[_With a sly glance on_ BUTLER.]
Hath he selected, from the very dust
Hath raised him into dignity and honor,
And yet no friend, not one friend hath he purchased,
Whose heart beats true to him in the evil hour.
Here's one, I see.
I have enjoy'd from him
No grace or favor. I could almost doubt
If ever in his greatness he once thought on
An old friend of his youth. For still my office
Kept me at a distance from him; and when first
He to this citadel appointed me,
He was sincere and serious in his duty.
I do not then abuse his confidence,
If I preserve my fealty in that
Which to my fealty was first delivered.
Say, then, will you fulfil th' attainder on him,
[And lend your aid to take him in arrest?]
GORDON (_pauses, reflecting--then as in deep dejection_).
If it be so--if all be as you say--
If he've betray'd the Emperor, his master,
Have sold the troops, have purposed to deliver
The strongholds of the country to the enemy--
Yea, truly!--there is no redemption for him
Yet it is hard that me the lot should destine
To be the instrument of his perdition;
For we were pages at the court of Bergau
At the same period; but I was the senior.
I have heard so--
'Tis full thirty years since then,
A youth who scarce had seen his twentieth year
Was Wallenstein, when he and I were friends.
Yet even then he had a daring soul:
His frame of mind was serious and severe
Beyond his years: his dreams were of great objects,
He walk'd amidst us of a silent spirit,
Communing with himself; yet I have known him
Transported on a sudden into utterance
Of strange conceptions; kindling into splendor,
His soul reveal'd itself, and he spake so
That we look'd round perplex 'd upon each other,
Not knowing whether it were craziness,
Or whether it were a god that spoke in him.
But was it where he fell two-story-high
From a window-ledge, on which he had fallen asleep
And rose up free from injury? From this day
(It is reported) he betrayed clear marks
Of a distemper'd fancy.
Doubtless more self-enwrapt and melancholy;
He made himself a Catholic. Marvelously
His marvelous preservation had transform'd him.
Thenceforth he held himself for an exempted
And privileged being, and, as if he were
Incapable of dizziness or fall,
He ran along the unsteady rope of life.
But now our destinies drove us asunder,
He paced with rapid step the way of greatness,
Was Count, and Prince, Duke-regent, and Dictator--
And now is all, all this too little for him;
He stretches forth his hands for a king's crown,
And plunges in unfathomable ruin.
No more, he comes.
_To these enter_ WALLENSTEIN, _in conversation with the_
BURGOMASTER _of Egra_.
You were at one time a free town. I see,
Ye bear the half eagle in your city arms.
Why the _half_ eagle only?
We were free,
But for these last two hundred years has Egra
Remain'd in pledge to the Bohemian crown;
Therefore we bear the half eagle, the other half
Being cancell'd till the empire ransom us,
If ever that should be.
Ye merit freedom.
Only be firm and dauntless. Lend your ears
To no designing whispering court-minions.
What may your imposts be?
So heavy that
We totter under them. The garrison
Lives at our costs.
I will relieve you. Tell me,
There are some Protestants among you still
[_The_ BURGOMASTER _hesitates_.]
Yes, yes; I know it. Many lie conceal'd
Within these walls--confess now--you your self--
[_Fixes his eye on him. The_ BURGOMASTER
Be not alarm'd. I hate the Jesuits.
Could my will have determined it, they had
Been long ago expell'd the empire. Trust me--
Mass-book or bible, 'tis all one to me.
Of that the world has had sufficient proof.
I built a church for the Reform'd in Glogau
At my own instance. Harkye, Burgomaster!
What is your name?
Pachhalbel, may it please you.
But let it go no further, what I now
Disclose to you in confidence.
[_Laying his hand on the_ BURGOMASTER'S _shoulder with a
Draw near to their fulfilment, Burgomaster!
The high will fall, the low will be exalted.
Harkye! But keep it to yourself! The end
Approaches of the Spanish double monarchy--
A new arrangement is at hand. You saw
The three moons that appear'd at once in the Heaven.
With wonder and affright!
Whereof did two
Strangely transform themselves to bloody daggers,
And only one, the middle moon, remained
Steady and clear.
We applied it to the Turks.
The Turks! That all?--I tell you, that two empires
Will set in blood, in the East and in the West,
And Luth'ranism alone remain.
[_Observing_ GORDON _and_ BUTLER.]
'Twas a smart cannonading that we heard
This evening, as we journey'd hitherward;
'Twas on our left hand. Did you hear it here?
Distinctly. The wind brought it from the south.
It seem'd to came from Weiden or from Neustadt.
'Tis likely. That's the route the Swedes are taking.
How strong is the garrison?
Not quite two hundred
Competent men, the rest are invalids.
Good! And how many in the vale of Jochim?
Two hundred harquebusiers have I sent thither
To fortify the posts against the Swedes.
Good! I commend your foresight. At the works too
You have done somewhat?
Two additional batteries
I caused to be run up. They were needless.
The Rhinegrave presses hard upon us, General!
You have been watchful in your Emperor's service.
I am content with you, Lieutenant-Colonel.
Release the outposts in the vale of Jochim
With all the stations in the enemy's route.
Governor, in your faithful hands I leave
My wife, my daughter, and my sister. I
Shall make no stay here, and wait but the arrival
Of letters to take leave of you, together
With all the regiments.
_To these enter_ COUNT TERZKY
Joy, General; joy! I bring you welcome tidings.
And what may they be?
There has been an engagement
At Neustadt; the Swedes gain'd the victory.
From whence did you receive the intelligence?
A countryman from Tirschenreut convey'd it.
Soon after sunrise did the fight begin!
A troop of the Imperialists from Tachau
Had forced their way into the Swedish camp;
The cannonade continued full two hours;
There were left dead upon the field a thousand
Imperialists, together with their Colonel;
Further than this he did not know.
Imperial troops at Neustadt? Altringer,
But yesterday, stood sixty miles from there.
Count Gallas' force collects at Frauenberg,
And have not the full complement. Is it possible
That Suys perchance had ventured so far onward?
It cannot be.
We shall soon know the whole,
For here comes Illo, full of haste, and joyous.
_To these enter_ ILLO
ILLO (_to_ WALLENSTEIN).
A courier, Duke! he wishes to speak with thee.
Does he bring confirmation of the victory?
WALLENSTEIN (_at the same time_).
What does he bring? Whence comes he?
From the Rhinegrave
And what he brings I can announce to you
Beforehand. Seven leagues distant are the Swedes;
At Neustadt did Max Piccolomini
Throw himself on them with the cavalry;
A murderous fight took place! o'erpower'd by numbers
The Pappenheimers all, with Max their leader,
[WALLENSTEIN _shudders and turns pale_.]
Were left dead on the field.
WALLENSTEIN (_after a pause, in a low voice_).
Where is the messenger? Conduct me to him.
[WALLENSTEIN _is going, when_ LADY NEUBRUNN _rushes into the
room. Some servants follow her and run across the stage_.]
ILLO _and_ TERZKY (_at the same time_).
WALTENSTEIN _and_ TERZKY.
Does she know it?
NEUBRUNN _(at the same time with them_).
She is dying!
[_Hurries off the stage, when_ WALLENSTEIN _and_ TERZKY
BUTLER _and_ GORDON
She has lost the man she loved--
Young Piccolomini who fell in the battle.
You have heard what Illo
Reporteth, that the Swedes are conquerors,
And marching hitherward.
Too well I heard it.
They are twelve regiments strong, and there are five
Close by us to protect the Duke. We have
Only my single regiment; and the garrison
Is not two hundred strong.
'Tis even so.
It is not possible with such small force
To hold in custody a man like him.
I grant it.
Soon the numbers would disarm us,
And liberate him.
It were to be fear 'd.
BUTLER (_after a pause_).
Know, I am warranty for the event;
With my head have I pledged myself for his,
Must make my word good, cost it what it will,
And if alive we cannot hold him prisoner,
Why--death makes all things certain!
Do I understand you? Gracious God! _You_ could--
He must not live.
And _you_ can do the deed!
Either you or I. This morning was his last.
You would assassinate him!
'Tis my purpose.
Who leans with his whole confidence upon you!
Such is his evil destiny!
The sacred person of your General!
My General he _has been_.
That 'tis only
A "_has been_" washes out no villiany.
And without judgment pass'd?
Is here instead of judgment.
This were murder,
Not justice. The most guilty should be heard.
His guilt is clear, the Emperor has pass'd judgment,
And we but execute his will.
We should not
Hurry to realize a bloody sentence;
A word may be recall'd, a life can never be.
Dispatch in service pleases sovereigns.
No honest man's ambitious to press forward
To the hangman's service.
And no brave man loses
His color at a daring enterprise.
A brave man hazards life, but not his conscience.
What then? Shall he go forth anew to kindle
The unextinguishable flame of war?
Seize him, and hold him prisoner--do not kill him.
Had not the Emperor's army been defeated,
I might have done so.--But 'tis now past by.
O, wherefore open'd I the stronghold to him?
His destiny and not the place destroys him.
Upon these ramparts, as beseem'd a soldier,
I had fallen, defending the Emperor's citadel!
Yes, and a thousand gallant men have perish'd.
Doing their duty--that adorns the man!
But murder's a black deed, and nature curses it.
BUTLER (_brings out a paper_).
Here is the manifesto which commands us
To gain possession of his person. See--
It is addressed to you as well as me.
Are you content to take the consequences,
If through our fault he escape to the enemy?
Take it on yourself
Come of it what may; on you I lay it.
O God in heaven!
Can you advise aught else
Wherewith to execute the Emperor's purpose?
Say if you can. For I desire his fall,
Not his destruction.
Merciful heaven! what must be
I see as clear as you. Yet still the heart
Within my bosom beats with other feelings!
Mine is of harder stuff! Necessity
In her rough school hath steel'd me. And this Illo,
And Terzky likewise, they must not survive him.
I feel no pang for these. Their own bad hearts
Impell'd them, not the influence of the stars.
'Twas they who strew'd the seeds of evil passions
In his calm breast, and with officious villiany
Water'd and nursed the pois'nous plants. May they
Receive their earnests to the uttermost mite!
And their death shall precede his!
We meant to have taken them alive this evening
Amid the merry-making of a feast,
And keep them prisoners in the citadel.
But this makes shorter work. I go this instant
To give the necessary orders.
_To these enter_ ILLO _and_ TERZKY
Our luck is on the turn. Tomorrow come
The Swedes--twelve thousand gallant warriors, Illo,
Then straightwise for Vienna. Cheerily, friend!
What! meet such news with such a moody face?
It lies with us at present to prescribe
Laws, and take vengeance on those worthless traitors,
Those skulking cowards that deserted us;
One has already done his bitter penance,
The Piccolomini: be his the fate
Of all who wish us evil! This flies sure
To the old man's heart; he has his whole life long
Fretted and toil'd to raise his ancient house
From a Count's title to the name of prince;
And now must seek a grave for his only son.
'Twas pity, though! A youth of such heroic
And gentle temperament! The Duke himself,
'Twas easily seen, how near it went to his heart.
Hark ye, old friend! That is the very point
That never pleased me in our General--
He ever gave the preference to the Italians.
Yea, at this very moment, by my soul!
He'd gladly see us all dead ten times over,
Could he thereby recall his friend to life.
Hush, hush! Let the dead rest! This evening's business
Is, who can fairly drink the other down--
Your regiment, Illo! gives the entertainment.
Come! we will keep a merry carnival--
The night for once be day, and 'mid full glasses
Will we expect the Swedish avant-garde.
Yes, let us be of good cheer for today,
For there's hot work before us, friends! This sword
Shall have no rest, till it be bathed to the hilt
In Austrian blood.
Shame, shame! what talk is this
My Lord Field-Marshal? Wherefore foam you so
Against your Emperor?
Hope not too much
From this first victory. Bethink you, sirs!
How rapidly the wheel of Fortune turns;
The Emperor still is formidably strong.
The Emperor has soldiers, no commander,
For this King Ferdinand of Hungary
Is but a tyro. Gallas? He's no luck,
And was of old the ruiner of armies.
And then this viper, this Octavio,
Is excellent at stabbing in the back,
But ne'er meets Friedland in the open field.
Trust me, my friends, it cannot but succeed;
Fortune, we know, can ne'er forsake the Duke!
And only under Wallenstein can Austria
The Duke will soon assemble
A mighty army: all comes crowding, streaming
To banners, dedicate by destiny
To fame and prosperous fortune. I behold
Old times come back again! he will become
Once more the mighty Lord which he has been.
How will the fools, who've now deserted him,
Look then? I can't but laugh to think of them,
For lands will he present to all his friends,
And like a King and Emperor reward
True services; but we've the nearest claims.
You will not be forgotten, Governor!
He'll take you from this nest, and bid you shine
In higher station: your fidelity
Well merits it.
I am content already
And wish to climb no higher; where great height is,
The fall must needs be great. "Great height, great depth."
Here you have no more business, for tomorrow
The Swedes will take possession of the citadel.
Come, Terzky, it is supper-time. What think you?
Nay, shall we have the town illuminated
In honor of the Swede? And who refuses
To do it is a Spaniard and a traitor.
Nay! nay! not that, it will not please the Duke--
What! we are masters here; no soul shall dare
Avow himself Imperial where we've the rule.
Gordon! good night, and for the last time, take
A fair leave of the place. Send out patroles
To make secure, the watch-word may be alter'd
At the stroke of ten; deliver in the keys
To the Duke himself, and then you've quit for ever
Your wardship of the gates, for on tomorrow
The Swedes will take possession of the citadel.
TERZKY (_as he is going, to_ BUTLER).
You come, though, to the castle?
At the right time.
[_Exeunt_ TERZKY _and_ ILLO.]
GORDON _and_ BUTLER
GORDON (_looking after them_).
Unhappy men! How free from all foreboding!
They rush into the outspread net of murder
In the blind drunkenness of victory;
I have no pity for their fate. This Illo,
This overflowing and foolhardy villain,
That would fain bathe himself in his Emperor's blood.--
Do as he order'd you. Send round patroles,
Take measures for the citadel's security;
When they are within I close the castle-gate
That nothing may transpire.
GORDON (_with earnest anxiety_).
Oh! haste not so!
Nay, stop; first tell me--
You have heard already,
Tomorrow to the Swedes belongs. This night
Alone is ours. They make good expedition,
But we will make still greater. Fare you well.
Ah! your looks tell me nothing good. Nay, Butler,
I pray you, promise me!
The sun has set;