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

Part 6 out of 13

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A fateful evening doth descend upon us,
And brings on their long night! Their evil stars
Deliver them unarm'd into our hands,
And from their drunken dream of golden fortunes
The dagger at their heart shall rouse them. Well,
The Duke was ever a great calculator;
His fellow-men were figures on his chess-board,
To move and station, as his game required.
Other men's honor, dignity, good name,
Did he shift like pawns, and make no conscience of;
Still calculating, calculating still;
And yet at last his calculation proves
Erroneous; the whole game is lost; and lo!
His own life will be found among the forfeits.

GORDON.

O think not of his errors now! remember
His greatness, his munificence; think on all
The lovely features of his character,
On all the noble exploits of his life,
And let them, like an angel's arm, unseen,
Arrest the lifted sword.

BUTLER.

It is too late.
I suffer not myself to feel compassion;
Dark thoughts and bloody are my _duty_ now:

[_Grasping_ GORDON's _hand_.]

Gordon! 'tis not my hatred (I pretend not
To love the Duke, and have no cause to love him),
Yet 'tis not now my hatred that impels me
To be his murderer. 'Tis his evil fate.
Hostile concurrences of many events
Control and subjugate me to the office.
In vain the human being meditates
Free action. He is but the wire-work'd[31] puppet
Of the blind Power, which out of its own choice
Creates for him a dread necessity.
What too would it avail him, if there were
A something pleading for him in my heart--
Still I must kill him.

GORDON.

If your heart speak to you,
Follow its impulse. 'Tis the voice of God.
Think you your fortunes will grow prosperous
Bedew'd with blood--his blood? Believe it not!

BUTLER.

You know not. Ask not! Wherefore should it happen
That the Swedes gain'd the victory, and hasten
With such forced marches hitherward? Fain would I
Have given him to the Emperor's mercy. Gordon!
I do not wish his blood--But I must ransom
The honor of my word--it lies in pledge--
And he must die, or--

[_Passionately grasping_ GORDON's _hand_.]

Listen then, and know,
I am _dishonor'd_ if the Duke escape us.

GORDON.

O! to save such a man--

BUTLER.

What!

GORDON.

It is worth
A sacrifice. Come, friend! Be noble-minded!
Our own heart, and not other men's opinions,
Forms our true honor.

BUTLER (_with a cold and haughty air_).

He is a great Lord,
This Duke--and I am but of mean importance.
This is what you would say! Wherein concerns it
The world at large, you mean to hint to me,
Whether the man of low extraction keeps
Or blemishes his honor--
So that the man of princely rank be saved?
We all do stamp our value on ourselves:
The price we challenge for ourselves is given us.
There does not live on earth the man so station'd
That I despise myself, compared with him.
Man is made great or little by his own will;
Because I am true to mine, therefore he dies.

GORDON.

I am endeavoring to move a rock.
Thou hadst a mother, yet no human feelings.
I cannot hinder you, but may some God
Rescue him from you!

[_Exit_ GORDON.]

BUTLER[32] (_alone_).

I treasured my good name all my life long;
The Duke has cheated me of life's best jewel,
So that I blush before this poor weak Gordon!
He prizes above all his fealty;
His conscious soul accuses him of nothing;
In opposition to his own soft heart
He subjugates himself to an iron duty.
Me in a weaker moment passion warp'd;
I stand beside him, and must feel myself
The worse man of the two. What, though the world
Is ignorant of my purposed treason, yet
_One_ man does know it, and can prove it too--
High-minded Piccolomini!
There lives the man who can dishonor me!
This ignominy blood alone can cleanse!
Duke Friedland, thou or I--Into my own hands
Fortune delivers me--The dearest thing a man has is himself.

SCENE IX

_A Gothic and gloomy Apartment at the_ DUCHESS FRIEDLAND'S.
THEKLA _on a seat, pale, her eyes closed. The_ DUCHESS _and_
LADY NEUBRUNN _busied about her_. WALLENSTEIN _and the_
COUNTESS _in conversation_.

WALLENST.

How knew she it so soon?

COUNTESS.

She seems to have
Foreboded some misfortune. The report
Of an engagement, in the which had fallen
A colonel of the Imperial army, frighten'd her.
I saw it instantly. She flew to meet
The Swedish courier, and with sudden questioning
Soon wrested from him the disastrous secret.
Too late we missed her, hasten'd after her,
We found her lying in his arms, all pale
And in a swoon.

WALLENSTEIN.

A heavy, heavy blow!
And she so unprepared! Poor child! how is it?

[_Turning to the_ DUCHESS.]

Is she coming to herself?

DUCHESS.

Her eyes are opening.

COUNTESS.

She lives!

THEKLA (_looking around her_).

Where am I?

WALLENSTEIN (_steps to her, raising her up in his arms_).

Come, cheer'ly, Thekla! be my own brave girl!
See, there's thy loving mother. Thou art in
Thy father's arms.

THEKLA (_standing up_).

Where is he? Is he gone?

DUCHESS.

Who gone, my daughter?

THEKLA.

He--the man who utter'd
That word of misery.

DUCHESS.

O! think not of it,
My Thekla!

WALLENSTEIN.

Give her sorrow leave to talk!
Let her complain--mingle your tears with hers,
For she hath suffer'd a deep anguish; but
She'll rise superior to it, for my Thekla
Hath all her father's unsubdued heart.

THEKLA.

I am not ill. See, I have power to stand.
Why does my mother weep? Have I alarm'd her?
It is gone by--I recollect myself--

[_She casts her eyes round the room, as seeking some one._]

Where is he? Please you, do not hide him from me.
You see I have strength enough: now I will hear him.

DUCHESS.

No; never shall this messenger of evil
Enter again into thy presence, Thekla!

THEKLA.

My father--

WALLENSTEIN.

Dearest daughter!

THEKLA.

I'm not weak--
Shortly I shall be quite myself again.
You'll grant me one request?

WALLENSTEIN.

Name it, my daughter.

THEKLA.

Permit the stranger to be called to me,
And grant me leave that by myself I may
Hear his report and question him.

DUCHESS.

No, never!

COUNTESS.

'Tis not advisable--assent not to it.

WALLENST.

Hush! Wherefore wouldst thou speak with him, my daughter?

THEKLA.

Knowing the whole, I shall be more collected;
I will not be deceived. My mother wishes
Only to spare me. I will not be spared--
The worst is said already: I can hear
Nothing of deeper anguish!

COUNTESS _and_ DUCHESS.

Do it not.

THEKLA.

The horror overpower'd me by surprise.
My heart betray'd me in the stranger's presence:
He was a witness of my weakness, yea,
I sank into his arms; and that has shamed me.
I must replace myself in his esteem,
And I must speak with him, perforce, that he,
The stranger, may not think ungently of me.

WALLENST.

I see she is in the right, and am inclined
To grant her this request of hers. Go, call him.

[LADY NEUBRUNN _goes to call him_.]

DUCHESS.

But I, thy mother, will be present--

THEKLA.

'Twere
More pleasing to me, if alone I saw him;
Trust me, I shall behave myself the more
Collectedly.

WALLENSTEIN.

Permit her own will.
Leave her alone with him: for there are sorrows
Where of necessity the soul must be
Its own support. A strong heart will rely
On its own strength alone. In her own bosom,
Not in her mother's arms, must she collect
The strength to rise superior to this blow.
It is mine own brave girl. I'll have her treated
Not as a woman, but the heroine. [_Going_.]

COUNTESS (_detaining him_).

Where art thou going? I heard Terzky say
That 'tis _thy_ purpose to depart from hence
Tomorrow early, but to leave us here.

WALLENST.

Yes, ye stay here, placed under the protection
Of gallant men.

COUNTESS.

O take us with you, brother.
Leave us not in this gloomy solitude
To brood o'er anxious thoughts. The mists of doubt
Magnify evils to a shape of horror.

WALLENST.

Who speaks of evil? I entreat you, sister,
Use words of better omen.

COUNTESS.

Then take us with you.
O leave us not behind you in a place
That forces us to such sad omens. Heavy
And sick within me is my heart--
These walls breathe on me, like a church-yard vault.
I cannot tell you, brother, how this place
Doth go against my nature. Take us with you.
Come, sister, join you your entreaty! Niece,
Yours too. We all entreat you, take us with you!

WALLENST.

The place's evil omens will I change,
Making it that which shields and shelters for me
My best beloved.

LADY NEUBRUNN (_returning_).

The Swedish officer.

WALLENST.

Leave her alone with him.

DUCHESS (_to_ THEKLA, _who starts and shivers_).

There--pale as death! Child, 'tis impossible
That thou shouldst speak with him. Follow thy mother.

THEKLA.

The Lady Neubrunn then may stay with me.

[_Exeunt_ DUCHESS _and_ COUNTESS.]

SCENE X

THEKLA, _the_ SWEDISH CAPTAIN, LADY NEUBRUNN

CAPTAIN (_respectfully approaching her_).

Princess--I must entreat your gentle pardon--
My inconsiderate rash speech. How could I--

THEKLA (_with dignity_).

You have beheld me in my agony.
A most distressful accident occasion'd
You from a stranger to become at once
My confidant.

CAPTAIN.

I fear you hate my presence,
For my tongue spake a melancholy word.

THEKLA.

The fault is mine. Myself did wrest it from you.
The horror which came o'er me interrupted
Your tale at its commencement. May it please you,
Continue it to the end.

CAPTAIN.

Princess, 'twill
Renew your anguish.

THEKLA.

I am firm--
I _will_ be firm. Well--how began the engagement?

CAPTAIN.

We lay, expecting no attack, at Neustadt,
Intrench'd but insecurely in our camp,
When toward evening rose a cloud of dust
From the wood thitherward; our vanguard fled
Into the camp, and sounded the alarm.
Scarce had we mounted ere the Pappenheimers,
Their horses at full speed, broke through the lines,
And leapt the trenches; but their heedless courage
Had borne them onward far before the others--
The infantry were still at distance, only
The Pappenheimers follow'd daringly
Their daring leader--

[THEKLA _betrays agitation in her gestures. The officer
pauses till she makes a sign to him to proceed_.]

CAPTAIN.

Both in van and flanks
With our whole cavalry we now received them;
Back to the trenches drove them, where the foot
Stretch'd out a solid ridge of pikes to meet them.
They neither could advance, nor yet retreat;
And as they stood on every side wedged in,
The Rhinegrave to their leader call'd aloud,
Inviting a surrender; but their leader,
Young Piccolomini--

[THEKLA, _as giddy, grasps a chair_.]
Known by his plume,
And his long hair, gave signal for the trenches;
Himself leapt first: the regiment all plunged after.
His charger, by a halbert gored, rear'd up,
Flung him with violence off, and over him
The horses, now no longer to be curbed--
[THEKLA, _who has accompanied the last speech_ _with all the
marks of increasing agony_, _trembles through her whole
frame, and is_ _falling. The_ LADY NEUBRUNN _runs to her_,
_and receives her in her arms.]_

NEUBR.

My dearest lady--

CAPTAIN.

I retire.

THEKLA.

'Tis over.
Proceed to the conclusion.

CAPTAIN.
Wild despair
Inspired the troops with frenzy when they saw
Their leader perish; every thought of rescue
Was spurned; they fought like wounded tigers; their
Frantic resistance roused our soldiery;
A murderous fight took place, nor was the contest
Finish'd before their last man fell.

THEKLA (_faltering_).

And where--
Where is--You have not told me all.

CAPTAIN _(after a pause_).

This morning
We buried him. Twelve youths of noblest birth
Did bear him to interment; the whole army
Follow'd the bier. A laurel deck'd his coffin;
The sword of the deceased was placed upon it,
In mark of honor, by the Rhinegrave's self.
Nor tears were wanting; for there are among us
Many, who had themselves experienced
The greatness of his mind and gentle manners;
All were affected at his fate. The Rhinegrave
Would willingly have saved him; but himself
Made vain the attempt--'tis said he wish'd to
die.

NEUBRUNN _(to_ THEKLA, _who has hidden her countenance_).

Look up, my dearest lady--

THEKLA.

Where is his grave?

CAPTAIN.

At Neustadt, lady; in a cloister church
Are his remains deposited, until
We can receive directions from his father.

THEKLA.

What is the cloister's name?

CAPTAIN.

Saint Catherine's.

THEKLA.

And how far is it thither?

CAPTAIN.

Near twelve leagues.

THEKLA.

And which the way?

CAPTAIN.

You go by Tirschenreut
And Falkenberg through our advanced posts.

THEKLA.

Who
Is their commander?

CAPTAIN.

Colonel Seckendorf.
[THEKLA _steps to the table, and takes a ring from a
casket.]_

THEKLA.

You have beheld me in my agony,
And shown a feeling heart. Please you, accept
_[Giving him the ring_.]
A small memorial of this hour. Now go!

CAPTAIN _(confusedly)._

Princess--

[THEKLA _silently makes signs to him to go, and turns from
him. The_ CAPTAIN _lingers, and is about to speak_. LADY
NEUBRUNN _repeats the signal, and he retires.]_

SCENE XI

THEKLA, LADY NEUBRUNN

THEKLA _(falls on_ LADY NEUBRUNN's _neck_).

Now, gentle Neubrunn, show me the affection
Which thou hast ever promised--prove thyself
My own true friend and faithful fellow-pilgrim.
This night we must away!

NEUBRUNN.

Away! and whither?

THEKLA.

Whither! There is but one place in the world.
Thither, where he lies buried! To his coffin!

NEUBR.

What would you do there?

THEKLA.

What do there?
That wouldst thou not have ask'd, hadst thou e'er loved.
There, there is all that still remains of him!
That single spot is the whole earth to me.

NEUBR.

That place of death--

THEKLA.

Is now the only place
Where life yet dwells for me: detain me not!
Come and make preparations; let us think
Of means to fly from hence.

NEUBRUNN.

Your father's rage--

THEKLA.

That time is past--
And now I fear no human being's rage.

NEUBR.

The sentence of the world! The tongue of
calumny!

THEKLA.

Whom am I seeking? Him who is no more?
Am I then hastening to the arms--O God!
I haste but to the grave of the beloved.

NEUBR.

And we alone, two helpless feeble women?

THEKLA.

We will take weapons: my arm shall protect
thee.

NEUBR.

In the dark night-time?

THEKLA.

Darkness will conceal us.

NEUBR.

This rough tempestuous night--

THEKLA.

Had he a soft bed
Under the hoofs of his war-horses?

NEUBRUNN.

Heaven!
And then the many posts of the enemy.

THEKLA.

They are human beings. Misery travels free
Through the whole earth.

NEUBRUNN.

The journey's weary length--

THEKLA.

The pilgrim, traveling to a distant shrine
Of hope and healing, doth not count the leagues.

NEUBR.

How can we pass the gates?

THEKLA.

Gold opens them.
Go, do but go.

NEUBRUNN.

Should we be recognized--

THEKLA.

In a despairing woman, a poor fugitive,
Will no one seek the daughter of Duke Friedland.

NEUBR.

And where procure we horses for our flight?

THEKLA.

My equerry procures them. Go and fetch him.

NEUBR.

Dares he, without the knowledge of his lord?

THEKLA.

He will. Go, only go. Delay no longer.

NEUBR.

Dear lady! and your mother?

THEKLA.

Oh! my mother!

NEUBR.

So much as she has suffer'd too already;
Your tender mother--Ah! how ill prepared
For this last anguish!

THEKLA.

Woe is me! my mother!

_[Pauses.]_

Go instantly.

NEUBRUNN.

But think what you are doing!

THEKLA.

What _can_ be thought, already has been thought.

NEUBR.

And being there, what purpose you to do?

THEKLA.

There a Divinity will prompt my soul.

NEUBR.

Your heart, dear lady, is disquieted!
And this is not the way that leads to quiet.

THEKLA.

To a deep quiet, such as he has found.
It draws me on, I know not what to name it,
Resistless does it draw me to his grave.
There will my heart be eased, my tears will flow.
O hasten, make no further questioning!
There is no rest for me till I have left
These walls--they fall in on me--a dim power
Drives me from hence--Oh mercy! What a feeling!
What pale and hollow forms are those! They fill,
They crowd the place! I have no longer room here!
Mercy! Still more! More still! The hideous swarm,
They press on me; they chase me from these walls--
Those hollow, bodiless forms of living men!

NEUBR.

You frighten me so, lady, that no longer
I dare stay here myself. I go and call
Rosenberg instantly. [Exit LADY NEUBRUNN.]

SCENE XII

THEKLA.

His spirit 'tis that calls me: 'tis the troop
Of his true followers, who offer'd up
Themselves to avenge his death: and they accuse me
Of an ignoble loitering--_they_ would not
Forsake their leader even in his death--_they_ died for him,
And shall I live?--
For me too was that laurel-garland twined
That decks his bier. Life is an empty casket.
I throw it from me. O! my only hope
To die beneath the hoofs of trampling steeds--
That is the lot of heroes upon earth!

[_Exit_ THEKLA.[33]]

[_The Curtain drops._]

SCENE XIII

THEKLA, LADY NEUBRUNN, _and_ ROSENBERG

NEUBR.

He is here lady, and he will procure them.

THEKLA.

Wilt thou provide us horses, Rosenberg?

ROSENB.

I will, my lady.

THEKLA.

And go with us as well?

ROSENB.

To the world's end, my lady.

THEKLA.

But consider,
Thou never canst return unto the Duke.

ROSENB.

I will remain with thee.

THEKLA.

I will reward thee,
And will commend thee to another master,
Canst thou unseen conduct us from the castle?

ROSENB.

I can.

THEKLA.

When can I go?

ROSENBERG.

This very hour.
But wither would you, Lady?

THEKLA.

To--Tell him, Neubrunn.

NEUBR.

To Neustadt.

ROSENBERG.

So;--I leave you to get ready.

[_Exit._]

NEUBR.

O see, your mother comes.

THEKLA.

Indeed! O Heav'n!

SCENE XIV

THEKLA, LADY NEUBRUNN, _the_ DUCHESS

DUCHESS.

He's gone! I find thee more composed, my child.

THEKLA.

I am so, mother; let me only now
Retire to rest, and Neubrunn here be with me.
I want repose.

DUCHESS.

My Thekla, thou shalt have it.
I leave thee now consoled, since I can calm
Thy father's heart.

THEKLA.

Good night, beloved mother!
_(Falling on her neck and embracing her with deep emotion_).

DUCHESS.

Thou scarcely art composed e'en now, my daughter.
Thou tremblest strongly, and I feel thy heart
Beat audibly on mine.

THEKLA. Sleep will appease
Its beating: now good night, good night, dear mother.

_(As she withdraws from her mother's arms the curtain
falls_).

ACT V

SCENE I

_Butler's Chamber_.

BUTLER _and_ MAJOR GERALDIN

BUTLER.

Find me twelve strong dragoons, arm them with pikes,
For there must be no firing--
Conceal them somewhere near the banquet-room,
And soon as the dessert is served up, rush all in
And cry--"Who is loyal to the Emperor!"
I will overturn the table--while you attack
Illo and Terzky and dispatch them both.
The castle-palace is well barr'd and guarded,
That no intelligence of this proceeding
May make its way to the Duke. Go instantly;
Have you yet sent for Captain Devereux
And the Macdonald?--

GERALDIN.

They'll be here anon.

[_Exit_ GERALDIN.]

BUTLER.

Here's no room for delay. The citizens
Declare for him, a dizzy drunken spirit
Possesses the whole town. They see in the Duke
A Prince of peace, a founder of new ages
And golden times. Arms too have been given out
By the town-council, and a hundred citizens
Have volunteered themselves to stand on guard.
Dispatch! then, be the word; for enemies
Threaten us from without and from within.

SCENE II

BUTLER, CAPTAIN DEVEREUX, _and_ MACDONALD

MACDON.

Here we are, General.

DEVEREUX.

What's to be the watchword?

BUTLER.

Long live the Emperor!

BOTH _(recoiling)._

How?

BUTLER.

Live the House of Austria.

DEVEREUX.

Have we not sworn fidelity to Friedland?

MACDON.

Have we not march'd to this place to protect him?

BUTLER.

Protect a traitor, and his country's enemy?

DEVEREUX.

Why, yes! in his name you administer'd
Our oath.

MACDONALD.

And follow'd him yourself to Egra.

BUTLER.

I did it the more surely to destroy him.

DEVEREUX.

So then!

MACDONALD.

An alter'd case!

BUTLER (_to_ DEVEREUX).

Thou wretched man,
So easily leavest thou thy oath and colors?

DEVEREUX.

The devil!--I but follow'd your example,
If you could prove a villain, why not we?

MACDON.

We've nought to do with _thinking_--that's your business.
You are our General, and give out the orders;
We follow you, though the track lead to hell.

BUTLER _(appeased)_.

Good then! we know each other.

MACDONALD.

I should hope so.

DEVEREUX.

Soldiers of fortune are we--who bids most,
He has us.

MACDONALD.

'Tis e'en so!

BUTLER.

Well, for the present
Ye must remain honest and faithful soldiers.

DEVEREUX.

We wish no other.

BUTLER.

Ay, and make your fortunes.

MACRON.

That is still better.
Listen!

BOTH.

We attend.

BUTLER.

It is the Emperor's will and ordinance
To seize the person of the Prince-Duke Friedland,
Alive or dead.

DEVEREUX.

It runs so in the letter.

MACRON.

Alive or dead-these were the very words.

BUTLER.

And he shall be rewarded from the State
In land and gold, who proffers aid thereto.

DEVEREUX.

Ay! that sounds well. The _words_ sound always well
That travel hither from the Court. Yes! yes!
We know already what Court-words import.
A golden chain perhaps in sign of favor,
Or an old charger, or a parchment patent,
And such like--The Prince-Duke pays better.

MACDONALD.

Yes
The Duke's a splendid paymaster.

BUTLER.

All over
With that, my friends! His lucky stars are set.

MACDON.

And is that certain?

BUTLER.

You have my word for it.

DEVEREUX.

His lucky fortunes all past by?

BUTLER.

Forever
He is as poor as we.

MACDONALD.

As poor as we?

DEVEREUX.

Macdonald, we'll desert him.

BUTLER.

We'll desert him?
Full twenty thousand have done that already;
We must do more, my countrymen! In short--
We--we must kill him.

BOTH _(starting back_).

Kill him!

BUTLER.

Yes, must kill him;
And for that purpose have I chosen you.

BOTH.

Us!

BUTLER.

You, Captain Devereux, and thee, Macdonald.

DEVEREUX _(after a pause)_.

Choose you some other.

BUTLER.

What! art dastardly?
Thou, with full thirty lives to answer for--
Thou conscientious of a sudden?

DEVEREUX.

Nay
To assassinate our Lord and General--

MACDON.

To whom we've sworn a soldier's oath

BUTLER.

The oath
Is null, for Friedland is a traitor.

DEVEREUX.

No, no! it is too bad!

MACDONALD.

Yes, by my soul!
It is too bad. One has a conscience too--

DEVEREUX.

If it were not our Chieftain, who so long
Has issued the commands, and claim'd our duty--

BUTLER.

Is that the objection?

DEVEREUX.

Were it my own father,
And the Emperor's service should demand it of me,
It might be done perhaps--But we are soldiers,
And to assassinate our Chief Commander--
That is a sin, a foul abomination,
From which no monk or confessor absolves us.

BUTLER.

I am your Pope, and give you absolution.
Determine quickly!

DEVEREUX.

'Twill not do.

MACDONALD.

'Twont do!

BUTLER.

Well, off then! and--send Pestalutz to me.

DEVEREUX _(hesitates)._

The Pestalutz--

MACDONALD.

What may you want with him?

BUTLER.

If you reject it, we can find enough--

DEVEREUX.

Nay, if he must fall, we may earn the bounty
As well as any other. What think you,
Brother Macdonald?

MACDONALD.

Why, if he must fall,
And will fall, and it can't be otherwise,
One would not give place to this Pestalutz.

DEVEREUX _(after some reflection)_.

When do you purpose he should fall?

BUTLER.

This night.
Tomorrow will the Swedes be at our gates.

DEVEREUX.

You take upon you all the consequences

BUTLER.

I take the whole upon me.

DEVEREUX.

And it is
The Emperor's will, his express absolute will?
For we have instances, that folks may like
The murder, and yet hang the murderer.

BUTLER.

The manifesto says--"alive or dead."
Alive--'tis not possible--you see it is not.

DEVEREUX.

Well, dead then! dead! But how can we come at him?
The town is filled with Terzky's soldiery.

MACDON.

Ay! and then Terzky still remains, and Illo--

BUTLER.

With these you shall begin--you understand me?

DEVEREUX.

How! And must they too perish?

BUTLER.

They the first.

MACDON.

Hear, Devereux! A bloody evening this.

DEVEREUX.

Have you a man for that? Commission me--

BUTLER.

'Tis given in trust to Major Geraldin;
This is a carnival night, and there's a feast
Given at the castle--there we shall surprise them,
And hew them down. The Pestalutz and Lesley
Have that commission. Soon as that is finish'd--

DEVEREUX.

Hear, General! It will be all one to you--
Hark ye, let me exchange with Geraldin.

BUTLER.

'Twill be the lesser danger with the Duke.

DEVEREUX.

Danger! The Devil! What do you think me, General?
'Tis the Duke's eye, and not his sword, I fear.

BUTLER.

What can his eye do to thee?

DEVEREUX.

Death and hell!
Thou know'st that I'm no milksop, General!
But 'tis not eight days since the Duke did send me
Twenty gold pieces for this good warm coat
Which I have on! and then for him to see me
Standing before him with the pike, his murderer,
That eye of his looking upon this coat--
Why--why--the devil fetch me! I'm no milksop!

BUTLER.

The Duke presented thee this good warm coat,
And thou, a needy wight, hast pangs of conscience
To run him through the body in return?
A coat that is far better and far warmer
Did the Emperor give to him, the Prince's mantle.
How doth he thank the Emperor? With revolt,
And treason.

DEVEREUX.

That is true. The devil take
Such thinkers! I'll dispatch him.

BUTLER.

And would'st quiet
Thy conscience, thou hast nought to do but simply
Pull off the coat; so canst thou do the deed
With light heart and good spirits.

DEVEREUX.

You are right,
That did not strike me. I'll pull off the coat--
So there's an end of it.

MACDONALD.

Yes, but there's another
Point to be thought of.

BUTLER.

And what's that, Macdonald?

MACDON.

What avails sword or dagger against _him?_
He is not to be wounded--he is--

BUTLER (_starting up_).

What?

MACDON.

Safe against shot, and stab, and flesh! Hard frozen,
Secured and warranted by the black art!
His body is impenetrable, I tell you.

DEVEREUX.

In Ingolstadt there was just such another:
His whole skin was the same as steel; at last
We were obliged to beat him down with gun-stocks.

MACDON.

Hear what I'll do.

DEVEREUX.

Well.

MACDONALD.

In the cloister here
There's a Dominican, my countryman.
I'll make him dip my sword and pike for me
In holy water, and say over them
One of his strongest blessings. That's probatum!
Nothing can stand 'gainst that.

BUTLER.

So do, Macdonald!
But now go and select from out the regiment
Twenty or thirty able-bodied fellows,
And let them take the oaths to the Emperor.
Then when it strikes eleven, when the first rounds
Are pass'd, conduct them silently as may be
To the house--I will myself be not far off.

DEVEREUX.

But how do we get through Hartschier and Gordon,
That stand on guard there in the inner chamber?

BUTLER.

I have made myself acquainted with the place,
I lead you through a back door that's defended
By one man only. Me my rank and office
Give access to the Duke at every hour.
I'll go before you--with one poniard-stroke
Cut Hartschier's windpipe, and make way for you.

DEVEREUX.

And when we are there, by what means shall we gain
The Duke's bed-chamber, without his alarming
The servants of the Court? For he has here
A numerous company of followers.

BUTLER.

The attendants fill the right wing: he hates bustle,
And lodges in the left wing quite alone.

DEVEREUX.

Were it well over--hey, Macdonald? I
Feel queerly on the occasion, devil knows!

MACDON.

And I too. 'Tis too great a personage.
People will hold us for a brace of villains.

BUTLER.

In plenty, honor, splendor--you may safely
Laugh at the people's babble.

DEVEREUX.

If the business
Squares with one's honor--if that be quite certain--

BUTLER.

Set your hearts quite at ease. Ye save for Ferdinand
His crown and empire. The reward can be
No small one.

DEVEREUX.

And 'tis his purpose to dethrone the Emperor?

BUTLER.

Yes!--Yes!--to rob him of his crown and life.

DEVEREUX.

And he must fall by the executioner's hands,
Should we deliver him up to the Emperor
Alive?

BUTLER.

It were his certain destiny.

DEVEREUX.

Well! Well! Come then, Macdonald, he shall not
Lie long in pain.

[_Exeunt_ BUTLER _through one door_, MACDONALD _and_
DEVEREUX _through the other_.]

SCENE III

_A Saloon, terminated by a Gallery which extends far into
the background_.

WALLENSTEIN _Sitting at a table. The_ SWEDISH CAPTAIN
_standing before him_.

WALLENST.

Commend me to your lord. I sympathize
In his good fortune; and if you have seen me
Deficient in the expressions; of that joy,
Which such a victory might well demand,
Attribute it to no lack of good will,
For henceforth are our fortunes one. Farewell,
And for your trouble take my thanks. Tomorrow
The citadel shall be surrendered to you
On your arrival.

[_The_ SWEDISH CAPTAIN _retires_. WALLENSTEIN _sits lost in
thought, his eyes fixed vacantly, and his head sustained by
his hand. The_ COUNTESS TERZKY _enters, stands before him
for awhile, unobserved by him; at length he starts, sees her
and recollects himself_.]

WALLENST.

Comest thou from her? Is she restored? How
is she?

COUNTESS.

My sister tells me, she was more collected
After her conversation with the Swede.
She has now retired to rest.

WALLENSTEIN.

The pang will soften;
She will shed tears.

COUNTESS.

I find thee alter'd too,
My brother! After such a victory
I had expected to have found in thee
A cheerful spirit. O remain _thou_ firm!
Sustain, uphold us! For our light thou art,
Our sun.

WALLENSTEIN.

Be quiet. I ail nothing. Where's
Thy husband?

COUNTESS.

At a banquet--he and Illo.

WALLENSTEIN _(rises and strides across the saloon)_.

The night's far spent. Betake thee to thy
chamber.

COUNTESS.

Bid me not go, O let me stay with thee!

WALLENSTEIN _(moves to the window)_.

There is a busy motion in the Heaven,
The wind doth chase the flag upon the tower,
Fast sweep the clouds, the sickle[34] of the moon,
Struggling, darts snatches of uncertain light;
No form of star is visible! That one
White stain of light, that single glimmering yonder,
Is from Cassiopeia, and therein
Is Jupiter.

(_A pause_).

But now
The blackness of the troubled element hides him!
[_He sinks into profound melancholy, and looks
vacantly into the distance_.]

COUNTESS (_looks on him mournfully, then grasps his hand_).

What art thou brooding on?

WALLENSTEIN.

Methinks,
If I but saw him, 'twould be well with me.
He is the star of my nativity,
And often marvelously hath his aspect
Shot strength into my heart.

COUNTESS.

Thou'lt see him again.

WALLENSTEIN _(remains for a while, with, absent mind, then
assumes a livelier manner, and turning suddenly to the_
COUNTESS).

See him again? O never, never again!

COUNTESS.

How?

WALLENSTEIN.

He is gone--is dust.

COUNTESS.

Whom meanest thou, then?

WALLENST.

He, the more fortunate! yea, he hath finish'd!
For him there is no longer any future,
His life is bright--bright without spot it _was_,
And cannot cease to be. No ominous hour
Knocks at his door with tidings of mishap;
Far off is he, above desire and fear;
No more submitted to the change and chance
Of the unsteady planets. O 'tis well
With him! but who knows what the coming hour
Veil'd in thick darkness brings for us?

COUNTESS.

Thou speakest
Of Piccolomini. What was his death?
The courier had just left thee as I came.

[WALLENSTEIN _by a motion of his hand makes signs to her to
be silent._]

Turn not thine eyes upon the backward view,
Let us look forward into sunny days,
Welcome with joyous heart the victory,
Forget what it has cost thee. Not today,
For the first time, thy friend was to thee dead;
To thee he died, when first he parted from thee.

WALLENST.

This anguish will be wearied down,[35] I know;
What pang is permanent with man? From the highest,
As from the vilest thing of every day,
He learns to wean himself: for the strong hours
Conquer him. Yet I feel what I have lost
In him. The bloom is vanish'd from my life;
For O! he stood beside me, like my youth,
Transform'd for me the real to a dream,
Clothing the palpable and the familiar
With golden exhalations of the dawn.
Whatever fortunes wait my future toils,
The _beautiful_ is vanish'd--and returns not.

COUNTESS.

O be not treacherous to thy own power.
Thy heart is rich enough to vivify
Itself. Thou lovest and prizest virtues in him,
The which thyself didst plant, thyself unfold.

WALLENSTEIN _(stepping to the door_).

Who interrupts us now at this late hour?
It is the Governor. He brings the keys
Of the Citadel. 'Tis midnight. Leave me, sister!

COUNTESS.

O 'tis so hard to me this night to leave thee--
A boding fear possesses me!

WALLENSTEIN.

Fear! Wherefore?

COUNTESS.

Shouldst thou depart this night, and we at waking
Never more find thee!

WALLENSTEIN.

Fancies!

COUNTESS.

O my soul
Has long been weigh'd down by these dark fore-bodings,
And if I combat and repel them waking,
They will crush down upon my heart in dreams.
I saw thee yesternight with thy first wife
Sit at a banquet, gorgeously attired.

WALLENST.

This was a dream of favorable omen,
That marriage being the founder of my fortunes.

COUNTESS.

Today I dreamt that I was seeking thee
In thy own chamber. As I enter'd, lo!
It was no more a chamber: the Chartreuse
At Gitschin 'twas, which thou thyself hast founded,
And where it is thy will that thou should'st be
Interr'd.

WALLENSTEIN.

Thy soul is busy with these thoughts.

COUNTESS.

What! dost thou not believe that oft in dreams
A voice of warning speaks prophetic to us?

WALTENST.

There is no doubt that there exist such voices;
Yet I would not call _them_
Voices of warning that announce to us
Only the inevitable. As the sun,
Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image
In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits
Of great events stride on before the events,
And in today already walks tomorrow.
That which we read of the fourth Henry's death
Did ever vex and haunt me like a tale
Of my own future destiny. The king
Felt in his breast the phantom of the knife,
Long ere Ravaillac arm'd himself therewith.
His quiet mind forsook him: the phantasma
Started him in his Louvre, chased him forth
Into the open air: like funeral knells
Sounded that coronation festival;
And still with boding sense he heard the tread
Of those feet that even then were seeking him
Throughout the streets of Paris.

COUNTESS.

And to _thee_
The voice within thy soul bodes nothing?

WALLENSTEIN.

Nothing.
Be wholly tranquil.

COUNTESS.

And another time
I hasten'd after thee, and thou ran'st from me
Through a long suite, through many a spacious hall.
There seem'd no end of it: doors creak'd and clapp'd;
I follow'd panting, but could not o'ertake thee;
When on a sudden did I feel myself
Grasp'd from behind--the hand was cold that grasped me--
'Twas thou, and thou didst kiss me, and there seem'd
A crimson covering to envelop us.

WALLENST. That is the crimson tapestry of my chamber.

COUNTESS _(gazing on him)._
If it should come to that--if I should see thee,
Who standest now before me in the fulness
Of life--

_[She falls on his breast and weeps_.]

WALLENST.

The Emperor's proclamation weighs upon thee--
Alphabets wound not--and he finds no hands.

COUNTESS.

If he _should_ find them, my resolve is taken--
I bear about me my support and refuge.

[_Exit_ COUNTESS.]

SCENE IV

WALLENSTEIN, GORDON

WALLENST.

All quiet in the town?

GORDON.

The town is quiet.

WALLENST.

I hear a boisterous music! and the Castle
Is lighted up. Who are the revellers?

GORDON.

There is a banquet given at the Castle
To the Count Terzky and Field Marshal Illo.

WALLENST.

In honor of the victory--This tribe
Can show their joy in nothing else but feasting.

[_Rings. The_ GROOM OF THE CHAMBER _enters_.]

Unrobe me. I will lay me down to sleep.

[WALLENSTEIN _takes the keys from_ GORDON.]

So we are guarded from all enemies,
And shut in with sure friends;
For all must cheat me, or a face like this

[_Fixing his eye on_ GORDON.]

Was ne'er a hypocrite's mask.

[_The_ GROOM OF THE CHAMBER _takes off his mantle, collar,
and scarf._]

WALLENSTEIN.

Take care--what is that?

GROOM OF THE CHAMBER.

The golden chain is snapped in two.

WALLENST.

Well, it has lasted long enough. Here--give it.

[_He takes and looks at the chain_.]

'Twas the first present of the Emperor.
He hung it round me in the war of Friule,
He being then Archduke; and I have worn it
Till now from habit--
From superstition, if you will. Belike,
It was to be a talisman to me;
And while I wore it on my neck in faith,
It was to chain to me all my life long
The volatile fortune, whose first pledge it was--
Well, be it so! Henceforward a new fortune
Must spring up for me; for the potency
Of this charm is dissolved.

[GROOM OF THE CHAMBER _retires with the vestments._
WALLENSTEIN _rises, takes a stride across the room, and
stands at last before_ GORDON _in a posture of meditation_.]

How the old time returns upon me! I
Behold myself once more at Burgau, where
We two were Pages of the Court together.
We oftentimes disputed: thy intention
Was ever good; but thou wert wont to play
The Moralist and Preacher, and wouldst rail at me--
That I strove after things too high for me,
Giving my faith to bold unlawful dreams,
And still extol to me the golden mean--
Thy wisdom hath been proved a thriftless friend
To thy own self. See, it has made thee early
A superannuated man, and (but
That my munificent stars will intervene)
Would let thee in some miserable corner
Go out like an untended lamp.

GORDON.

My Prince!
With light heart the poor fisher moors his boat,
And watches from the shore the lofty ship
Stranded amid the storm.

WALLENSTEIN.

Art thou already
In harbor then, old man? Well! I am not.
The unconquer'd spirit drives me o'er life's billows;
My planks still firm, my canvas swelling proudly.
Hope is my goddess still, and Youth my inmate;
And while we stand thus front to front almost
I might presume to say that the swift years
Have passed by powerless o'er my unblanched
hair.

_[He moves with long strides across the Saloon,
and remains on the opposite side over
against_ GORDON.]

Who now persists in calling Fortune false?
To me she has proved faithful; with fond love
Took me from out the common ranks of men,
And like a mother goddess, with strong arm
Carried me swiftly up the steps of life.
Nothing is common in my destiny,
Nor in the furrows of my hand. Who dares
Interpret then my life for me as 'twere
One of the undistinguishable many?
True, in this present moment I appear
Fallen low indeed; but I shall rise again.
The high flood will soon follow on this ebb;
The fountain of my fortune, which now stops
Repress'd and bound by some malicious star,
Will soon in joy play forth from all its pipes.

GORDON.

And yet remember I the good old proverb,
"Let the night come before we praise the day."
I would be slow from long-continued fortune
To gather hope: for Hope is the companion
Given to the unfortunate by pitying Heaven.
Fear hovers round the head of prosperous men;
For still unsteady are the scales of fate.

WALLENSTEIN _(smiling_).

I hear the very Gordon that of old
Was wont to preach, now once more preaching;
I know well that all sublunary things
Are still the vassals of vicissitude.
The unpropitious gods demand their tribute;
This long ago the ancient Pagans knew:
And therefore of their own accord they offer'd
To themselves injuries, so to atone
The jealousy of their divinities:
And human sacrifices bled to Typhon.

[_After a pause, serious, and in a more subdued manner._]

I too have sacrificed to him--For me
There fell the dearest friend, and through my fault
He fell! No joy from favorable fortune
Can overweight the anguish of this stroke.
The envy of my destiny is glutted
Life pays for life. On his pure head the lightning
Was drawn off which would else have shatter'd _me_.

SCENE V

_To these enter_ SENI

WALLENST.

Is not that Seni! and beside himself,
If one may trust his looks? What brings thee hither
At this late hour, Baptista?

SENI.

Terror, Duke!
On thy account.

WALLENSTEIN.

What now?

SENI.

Flee ere the day break!
Trust not thy person to the Swedes!

WALLENSTEIN.

What now
Is in thy thoughts?

SENI (_with louder voice_).

Trust not thy person to the Swedes.

WALLENSTEIN.

What is it, then?

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