Part 7 out of 13
SENI (_still more urgently_).
O wait not the arrival of these Swedes!
An evil near at hand is threatening thee
From false friends. All the signs stand full of horror!
Near, near at hand the net-work of perdition--
Yea, even now 'tis being cast around thee!
Baptista, thou art dreaming!--Fear befools thee.
Believe not that an empty fear deludes me.
Come, read it in the planetary aspects;
Read it thyself that ruin threatens thee
From false friends.
From the falseness of my friends
Has risen the whole of my unprosperous fortunes.
The warning should have come before! At present
I need no revelation from the stars
To know that.
Come and see! trust thine own eyes!
A fearful sign stands in the house of life--
An enemy; a fiend lurks close behind
The radiance of thy planet.--O be warn'd!
Deliver not up thyself to these heathens,
To wage a war against our holy church.
WALLENSTEIN (_laughing gently_).
The oracle rails that way! Yes, yes! Now
I recollect. This junction with the Swedes
Did never please thee--lay thyself to sleep,
Baptista! Signs like these I do not fear.
GORDON (_who during the whole of this dialogue has shown
marks of extreme agitation, and now turns to_ WALLENSTEIN).
My Duke and General! May I dare presume?
[Illustration: WALLENSTEIN WARNED BY HIS FRIENDS
As performed at the Municipal Theatre, Hamburg, 1906]
What if 'twere no mere creation
Of fear, if God's high providence vouchsafed
To interpose its aid for your deliverance,
And made that mouth its organ?
Ye're both feverish!
How can mishap come to me from the Swedes!
They sought this junction with me--'tis their
GORDON _(with difficulty suppressing his emotion)_.
But what if the arrival of these Swedes--
What if this were the very thing that wing'd
The ruin that is flying to your temples?
[_Flings himself at his feet_.]
There is yet time, my Prince.
O hear him! hear him!
The Rhinegrave's still far off. Give but the orders,
This citadel shall close its gates upon him.
If then he will besiege us, let him try it.
But this I say; he'll find his own destruction
With his whole force before these ramparts, sooner
Than weary down the valor of our spirit.
He shall experience what a band of heroes,
Inspirited by an heroic leader,
Is able to perform. And if indeed
It be thy serious wish to make amend
For that which thou hast done amiss--this, this
Will touch and reconcile the Emperor,
Who gladly turns his heart to thoughts of mercy
And Friedland, who returns repentant to him,
Will stand yet higher in his Emperor's favor
Than e'er he stood when he had never fallen.
WALLENSTEIN (_contemplates him with surprise, remains
awhile, betraying strong emotion_).
Gordon--your zeal and fervor lead you far.
Well, well--an old friend has a privilege.
Blood, Gordon, has been flowing. Never, never
Can the Emperor pardon me; and if he could,
Yet I--I never could let myself be pardon'd.
Had I foreknown what now has taken place,
That he, my dearest friend, would fall for me
My first death-offering; and had the heart
Spoken to me, as now it has done--Gordon,
It may be, I might have bethought myself;
It may be too, I might not. Might or might not
Is now an idle question. All too seriously
Has it begun to end in nothing, Gordon!
Let it then have its course.
[_Stepping to the window._]
All dark and silent-at the castle too
All is now hush'd--Light me, Chamberlain!
[_The_ GROOM OF THE CHAMBER, _who had entered during the
last dialogue, and had been standing at a distance and
listening to it with visible expressions of the deepest
interest, advances in extreme agitation, and throws himself
at the_ DUKE'S _feet._]
And thou too! But I know why thou dost wish
My reconcilement with the Emperor.
Poor man! he hath a small estate in Carinthia,
And fears it will be forfeited because
He's in my service. Am I then so poor
That I no longer can indemnify
My servants? Well! to no one I employ
Means of compulsion. If 'tis thy belief
That fortune has fled from me, go! forsake me.
This night for the last time mayst thou unrobe me,
And then go over to thy Emperor.
Gordon, good night! I think to make a long
Sleep of it: for the struggle and the turmoil
Of this last day or two was great. May't please you!
Take care that they awake me not too early.
[_Exit_ WALLENSTEIN, _the_ GROOM OF THE CHAMBER _lighting
him_.SENI _follows_, GORDON _remains on the darkened stage,
following the_ DUKE _with his eye, till he disappears at the
farther end of the gallery: then by his gestures the old man
expresses the depth of his anguish and stands leaning
against a pillar._]
GORDON, BUTLER (_at first behind the scenes_)
BUTLER (_not yet come into view of the stage_).
Here stand in silence till I give the signal.
GORDON (_starts up_).
'Tis he! he has already brought the murderers.
The lights are out. All lies in profound sleep.
GORDON. What shall I do? Shall I attempt to save him?
Shall I call up the house? alarm the guards?
BUTLER (_appears, but scarcely on the stage_).
A light gleams hither from the corridor.
It leads directly to the Duke's bed-chamber.
But then I break my oath to the Emperor;
If he escape and strengthen the enemy,
Do I not hereby call down on my head
All the dread consequences?
BUTLER (_stepping forward_).
Hark! Who speaks there?
'Tis better, I resign it to the hands
Of Providence. For what am I, that I
Should take upon myself so great a deed?
I have not murdered him, if he be murder'd;
But all his rescue were _my_ act and deed;
_Mine_--and whatever be the consequences,
I must sustain them.
I should know that voice.
'Tis Gordon. What do _you_ want here?
Was it so late then, when the Duke dismiss'd you?
Your hand bound up and in a scarf?
That Illo fought as he were frantic, till
At last we threw him on the ground.
GORDON (_shuddering_). Both dead?
Is he in bed?
Is he? speak.
He shall _not_ perish! Not through you! The Heaven
Refuses _your_ arm. See--'tis wounded!--
There is no need of my arm.
The most guilty
Have perish'd, and enough is given to justice.
[_The_ GROOM OF THE CHAMBER _advances from the Gallery with
his finger on his mouth commanding silence_.]
He sleeps! O murder not the holy sleep!
No! he shall die awake.
His heart still cleaves
To earthly things: he's not prepared to step
Into the presence of his God!
GORDON (_holds him_).
Grant him but this night's respite.
BUTLER (_hurrying off_)
The next moment
May ruin all.
GORDON _(holds him still_).
BUTLER. Unhold me! What
Can that short respite profit him?
[Illustration: DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN Karl von Piloty]
Works miracles. In one hour many thousands
Of grains of sand run out; and quick as they,
Thought follows thought within the human soul.
Only one hour! _Your_ heart may change its purpose,
_His_ heart may change its purpose--some new tidings
May come; some fortunate event, decisive,
May fall from Heaven and rescue him. O what
May not one hour achieve!
You but remind me,
How precious every minute is!
[_He stamps on the floor._]
_To these enter_ MACDONALD _and_ DEVEREUX, _with the_
GORDON (_throwing himself between him and them_).
First over my dead body thou shalt tread.
I will not live to see the accursed deed!
BUTLER (_forcing him out of the way_).
[_Trumpets are heard in the distance_.]
DEVEREUX _and_ MACDONALD.
Hark! the Swedish trumpets!
The Swedes before the ramparts! Let us hasten!
GORDON (_rushes out_).
O, God of mercy!
BUTLER (_calling after him_).
Governor, to your post!
GROOM OF THE CHAMBER (_hurries in_).
Who dares make larum here? Hush! The Duke
DEVEREUX (_with loud harsh voice_).
Friend, it is time now to make larum.
GROOM OF THE CHAMBER.
Down with him!
GROOM OF THE CHAMBER (_run through the body by_ DEVEREUX,
_falls at the entrance of the Gallery_).
Burst the doors open.
[_They rush over the body into the Gallery--two doors are
heard to crash one after the other.--Voices, deadened by the
distance--clash of arms--then all at once a profound
COUNTESS TERZKY (_with a light_).
Her bed-chamber is empty; she herself
Is nowhere to be found! The Neubrunn too,
Who watch'd by her, is missing. If she should
Be flown--but whither flown? We must call up
Every soul in the house. How will the Duke
Bear up against these worst bad tidings? O
If that my husband now were but return'd
Home from the banquet!--Hark! I wonder whether
The Duke is still awake! I thought I heard
Voices and tread of feet here! I will go
And listen at the door. Hark! what is that?
'Tis hastening up the steps!
GORDON (_rushes in out of breath_).
'Tis a mistake!
'Tis not the Swedes--Ye must proceed no further
Butler!--O God! where is he?
GORDON (_observing the_ COUNTESS).
You are come then from the castle? Where's my husband?
GORDON (_in an agony of affright)_.
Your husband!--Ask not!--To the Duke--
You have discover'd to me--
On this moment
Does the world hang. For God's sake! to the Duke.
While we are speaking--
Butler! Butler! God!
Why, he is at the castle with my husband.
[BUTLER _comes from the Gallery_.]
'Twas a mistake--'Tis not the Swedes--it is
The Imperialists' Lieutenant-General
Has sent me hither--will be here himself
Instantly.--You must not proceed.
[GORDON _dashes himself against the wall_.]
O God of mercy!
What too late?
Who will be here himself? Octavio
In Egra? Treason! Treason!--Where's the
[_She rushes to the Gallery._]
_Servants run across the Stage, full of terror. The whole
Scene must be spoken entirely without pauses_.
SENI (_from the Gallery_).
A bloody, frightful deed!
What is it, Seni?
PAGE (_from the Gallery_).
O piteous sight!
[_Other servants hasten in with torches_.]
What is it? For God's sake!
And do you ask?
Within, the Duke lies murder'd--and your husband
Assassinated at the Castle.
[_The_ COUNTESS _stands motionless_.]
FEMALE SERVANT (_rushing across the stage_).
Help! help! the Duchess!
What mean these confused
Loud cries that wake the sleepers of this house?
Your house is cursed to all eternity.
In your house doth the Duke lie murder'd!
BURGOMASTER (_rushing out_).
Fly! fly! they murder us all!
SECOND SERVANT (_carrying silver plate_).
That way! the lower
Passages are block'd up.
VOICE (_from behind the Scene_).
Make room for the Lieutenant-General!
[_At these words the_ COUNTESS _starts from her stupor,
collects herself, and retires suddenly_.]
VOICE (_from behind the Scene_).
Keep back the people! Guard the door!
_To these enter_ OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI _with all his train. At
the same time_ DEVEREUX _and_ MACDONALD _enter from out the
Corridor with the Halberdiers_.--WALLENSTEIN'S _dead body is
carried over the back part of the stage, wrapped in a piece
of crimson tapestry_.
OCTAVIO (_entering abruptly_).
It must not be! It is not possible!
I'll not believe it. Say no!
[GORDON, _without answering, points with his hand to the
body of_ WALLENSTEIN _as it is carried over the back of the
stage._ OCTAVIO _looks that way, and stands overpowered with
DEVEREUX (_to_ BUTLER).
Here is the golden fleece--the Duke's Sword--
Is it your order--
BUTLER (_pointing to_ OCTAVIO).
Here stands he who now
Hath the sole power to issue orders.
[DEVEREUx _and_ MACDONALD _retire with marks of obeisance.
One drops away after the other, till only_ BUTLER, OCTAVIO,
_and_ GORDON _remain on the stage.]_
OCTAVIO (_turning to_ BUTLER).
Was that my purpose, Butler, when we parted?
O God of Justice!
To thee I lift my hand! I am not guilty
Of this foul deed.
Your _hand_ is pure. You have
Avail'd yourself of mine.
Thus to abuse the orders of thy Lord--
And stain thy Emperor's holy name with murder,
With bloody, most accursed assassination!
I've but fulfilled the Emperor's own sentence.
O curse of Kings,
Infusing a dread life into their words,
And linking to the sudden transient thought
The unchanging irrevocable deed.
Was there necessity for such an eager
Dispatch? Couldst thou not grant the merciful
A time for mercy? Time is man's good Angel.
To leave no interval between the sentence,
And the fulfilment of it, doth beseem
God only, the immutable!
Rail you against me? What is my offense?
The Empire from a fearful enemy
Have I deliver'd, and expect reward;
The single difference betwixt you and me
Is this: you placed the arrow in the bow:
I pull'd the string. You sow'd blood, and yet stand
Astonish'd that blood is come up. I always
Knew what I did, and therefore no result
Hath power to frighten or surprise my spirit.
Have you aught else to order; for this instant
I make my best speed to Vienna; place
My bleeding sword before my Emperor's throne,
And hope to gain the applause which undelaying
And punctual obedience may demand
From a just judge.
_To these enter the_ COUNTESS TERZKY, _pale and disordered.
Her utterance is slow and feeble, and unimpassioned_.
OCTAVIO (_meeting her_).
O, Countess Terzky! These are the results
Of luckless unblest deeds.
They are the fruits
Of your contrivances. The Duke is dead,
My husband too is dead, the Duchess struggles
In the pangs of death, my niece has disappear'd,
This house of splendor, and of princely glory,
Doth now stand desolated: the affrighted servants
Rush forth through all its doors. I am the last
Therein; I shut it up, and here deliver
OCTAVIO (_with a deep anguish_).
O Countess! my house, too, is desolate.
Who next is to be murder'd? Who is next
To be maltreated? Lo! the Duke is dead,
The Emperor's vengeance may be pacified!
Spare the old servants; let not their fidelity
Be imputed to the faithful as a crime--
The evil destiny surprised my brother
Too suddenly: he could not think on them.
Speak not of vengeance! Speak not of maltreatment!
The Emperor is appeased; the heavy fault
Hath heavily been expiated--nothing
Descended from the father to the daughter,
Except his glory and his services.
The Empress honors your adversity,
Takes part in your afflictions, opens to you
Her motherly arms! Therefore, no farther fears;
Yield yourself up in hope and confidence
To the Imperial Grace!
COUNTESS. _(with her eye raised to heaven_).
To the grace and mercy of a greater Master
Do I yield up myself. Where shall the body
Of the Duke have its place of final rest?
In the Chartreuse, which he himself did found
At Gitschin, rests the Countess Wallenstein;
And by her side, to whom he was indebted
For his first fortunes, gratefully he wish'd
He might sometime repose in death! O let him
Be buried there. And likewise, for my husband's
Remains, I ask the like grace. The Emperor
Is now the proprietor of all our castles.
This sure may well be granted us--one sepulchre
Beside the sepulchres of our forefathers!
Countess, you tremble, you turn pale!
COUNTESS _(re-assembles all her powers, and speaks with
energy and dignity)_.
More worthily of me than to believe
I would survive the downfall of my house.
We did not hold ourselves too mean to grasp
After a monarch's crown--the crown did fate
Deny, but not the feeling and the spirit
That to the crown belong! We deem a
Courageous death more worthy of our free station
Than a dishonor'd life.--I have taken poison.
Help! Help! Support her!
Nay, it is too late,
In a few moments is my fate accomplish'd.
O house of death and horrors!
[_An_ OFFICER _enters, and brings a letter with the great
seal_. GORDON _steps forward and meets him._]
What is this?
It is the Imperial Seal.
[_He reads the address, and delivers the letter to_ OCTAVIO
_with a look of reproach, and with an emphasis on the
To the _Prince_ Piccolomini.
[OCTAVIO, _with his whole frame expressive of sudden
anguish, raises his eyes to heaven_.]
[_The Curtain drops._]
* * * * *
[Footnote 22: Thomas: The Life and Works of Schiller, p. 330.]
[Footnote 23: Permission The Macmillan Co., New York, and G. Bell &
[Footnote 24: A great stone near Luetzen, since called the Swede's
Stone, the body of their great king having been found at the foot of
it, after the battle in which he lost his life.]
[Footnote 25: Could I have hazarded such a Germanism as the use of the
word after-world, for posterity--"Es spreche Welt und _Nachwelt_
meinen Namen" might have been rendered with more literal
fidelity:--Let world and after-world speak out my name, etc.]
[Footnote 26: I have not ventured to affront the fastidious delicacy
of our age with a literal translation of this line,
Die Eingeweide schaudernd aufzureger.]
[Footnote 27: Anspessade, in German Gefreiter, a soldier inferior to a
corporal, but above the sentinels. The German name implies that he is
exempt from mounting guard.]
[Footnote 28: I have here ventured to omit a considerable number of
lines. I fear that I should not have done amiss, had I taken this
liberty more frequently. It is, however, incumbent on me to give the
original, with a literal translation.
Weh denen, die auf Dich vertraun, an Dich
Die sichre Huette illres Glueckes lehnen,
Gelockt von deiner geistlichen Gestalt.
Schnell unverhofft, bei naechtlich stiller Weile
Gaehrts in dem tueckschen Feuerschlunde, ladet
Sich aus mit tobender Gewalt, und weg
Treibt ueber alle Pflanzungen der Menschen
Der Wilde Strom in grausender Zerstoerung.
Du schilderst deines Vaters Herz. Wie Du's
Beschreibst, so ist's in seinem Eingeweide,
In dieser schwarzen Heuchlers Brust gestaltet.
O, mich hat Hoellenkunst getaeuscht! Mir sandte
Der Abgrund den verflecktesten der Geister,
Den Luegenkundigsten herauf, and stellt' ihn
Als Freund an meiner Seite. Wer vermag
Der Hoelle Macht zu widerstehn! Ich zog
Den Basilisken auf an meinem Busen,
Mit meinem Herzblut naehrt ich ihn, er sog
Sich schwelgend voll an meiner Liebe Bruesten,
Ich hatte nimmer Arges gegen ihn,
Weit offen liess ich des Gedankens Thore,
Und warf die Schluessel weiser Vorsicht weg,
Am Sternenhimmel, etc.
Alas! for those who place their confidence on thee, against thee lean
the secure hut of their happiness, allured by thy hospitable form.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, in a moment still as night, there is a
fermentation in the treacherous gulf of fire; it discharges itself
with raging force, and away over all the plantations of men drives the
wild stream in frightful devastation.--WALLENSTEIN. Thou art
portraying thy father's heart; as thou describest, even so is it
shaped in his entrails, in this black hypocrite's breast. O, the art
of hell has deceived me! The Abyss sent up to me the most spotted of
the spirits, the most skilful in lies, and placed him as a friend by
my side. Who may withstand the power of hell? I took the basilisk to
my bosom, with my heart's blood I nourished him; he sucked himself
glutfull at the breasts of my love. I never harbored evil toward him;
wide open did I leave the door of my thoughts; I threw away the key of
wise foresight. In the starry heaven, etc.--We find a difficulty in
believing this to have been written by Schiller.]
This is a poor and inadequate translation of the affectionate simplicity
of the original--
Sie alle waren Fremdlinge; _Du_ warst
Das Kind des Hauses.
Indeed the whole speech is in the best style of Massinger. _O si sic
[Footnote 30: It appears that the account of his conversion being
caused by such a fall, and other stories of his juvenile character,
are not well authenticated.]
[Footnote 31: We doubt the propriety of putting so blasphemous a
statement in the mouth of any character.--T.]
[Footnote 32: This soliloquy, which, according to the former
arrangement; constituted the whole of Scene IX., and concluded the
Fourth Act, is omitted in all the printed German editions. It seems
probable that it existed in the original manuscript from which Mr.
[Footnote 33: The soliloquy of Thekla consists in the original of
six-and-twenty lines, twenty of which are in rhymes of irregular
recurrence. I thought it prudent to abridge it. Indeed the whole scene
between Thekla and Lady Neubrunn might, perhaps have been omitted
without injury to the play.--C.]
[Footnote 34: These four lines are expressed in the original with
Am Himmel ist geschaeftige Bewegung.
Des Thurmes Fahne jagt der Wind, schnell geht
Der Wolken Zug, die _Mondessichel wankt_,
Und durch die Nacht zuckt ungewisse Helle.
The word "moon-sickle," reminds me of a passage in Harris, as quoted
by Johnson, under the word "falcated." "The enlightened part of the
moon appears in the form of a sickle or reaping-hook, which is while
she is moving from the conjunction to the opposition, or from the new
moon to the full: but from full to a new again, the enlightened part
appears gibbous, and the dark _falcated_."
The words "wanken" and "schweben" are not easily translated. The
English words, by which we attempt to render them, are either vulgar
or pedantic, or not of sufficiently general application. So "der
Wolken Zug"--literally, The Draft, the Procession of clouds;
freely--The Masses of the Clouds sweep onward in swift _stream_.]
[Footnote 35: A very inadequate translation of the original--
Verschmerzen werd' ich diesen Schlag, das weiss ich,
Denn was verschmerzte nicht der Mensch!
I shall _grieve down_ this blow, of that I'm conscious:
What does not man grieve down?]
* * * * *
INTRODUCTION TO WILLIAM TELL
BY WILLIAM H. CARRUTH, PH.D.
Professor of Comparative Literature, Leland Stanford University
William Tell is the last complete drama written by Schiller, finished
February 18, 1804, in the author's forty-fifth year and something over
a year before his death. After this he completed only a pageant, _The
Homage of the Arts_, although he was occupied with many plans for
other plays, including _Demetrius_, founded on the career of the
Russian pretender of this name, of which he left the first act.
_William Tell_ is the last of Schiller's five great dramas, a series
beginning with _Wallenstein_, written within nine years, constituting,
along with his ballads and many other poems, the work of what is
called his "third period." This period was preceded by Schiller's
chief prose works and the historical and philosophical studies
preparatory thereto, together with considerable reading of Greek and
English classics, notably Homer and Shakespeare. The influence of his
historical and critical studies and of this reading is evident in the
dramas: _Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, The Maid of Orleans, The Bride of
Messina, William Tell_. But of these, _William Tell_ stands apart in
For all of them Schiller made careful preliminary studies, but for
none in such detail as for _Tell_. He had not only a remote historical
material to deal with, but also a land and customs which he had never
seen and which nevertheless he wished to present with great fidelity.
His chief source was the Swiss chronicler Tschudi, of the sixteenth
century, from whom he took not only the main features of his action,
but many touches of scenery and much actual phraseology. In addition
he studied the Swiss historian Johannes von Mueller, maps and natural
histories of Switzerland, and received also some oral notes from
Goethe, to whom, in fact, he owed the original suggestion of
dramatizing the story of William Tell.
Unlike the other dramas of Schiller's last period, _William Tell_ has
no plot in the technical dramatic sense. There is no snare of
circumstances laid which forces a hero, after vain attempts to elude
or unloose it, to tear his way out at the cost of more or less
innocent lives. We see the representatives of three small,
freedom-loving democracies pushed beyond endurance by the outrages of
tyranny, pledging mutual support in resisting these encroachments upon
their liberties, and carrying out a successful resistance, aided by
the wholly fortuitous assassination of the tyrannical emperor. We see,
as a single instance of these oppressions, the arrogant caprice of the
bailiff Gessler in demanding homage to the Austrian hat, his jealousy
of the freeman Tell expressed in imposing as a penalty for neglected
obeisance the shooting of an apple from his little son's head, the
successful meeting of this test, and in turn Tell's vengeance through
the exercise of this same prowess in shooting Gessler as he rides home
through the Hohle Gasse. Mingled with these elements we see the
patriotic support of the common people by a native noblewoman, Bertha
von Brunneck, and her successful effort to win to this cause, through
his love for her, the young Baron von Rudenz, whose uncle
Attinghausen, always loyal to his people, hears in dying the news of
his nephew's conversion, while with his last breath he prophesies the
triumph of liberty. These three threads are woven into a single
pattern through the element of the common cause. This is the unity of
the action, which many critics have found wanting in the play.
Moreover these three plans of action cooeperate, if not by deliberate
foresight, yet by coincidence of time and purpose, and in some measure
by common personages.
The theme of _William Tell_ had been used as early as the sixteenth
century in one of the early popular pageants with which the modern
German drama begins. These pageants occupied the whole of several days
in presentation and employed, including all supernumeraries, as high
as three hundred people. Schiller knew the old Tell Play and imbibed
something of its spirit. He uses masses of populace in _William Tell_
as in no other of his plays except the _Camp_ of the _Wallenstein_
trilogy. It may be that the influence of the old popular play together
with the nature of his material led him to dispense here with the
unity of action, the plot, and the expression of tragic guilt, which
may be found in all his other later plays.
Along with keen appreciation, such as A.W. Schlegel's comment: "Imbued
with the poetry of history, with a treatment true to nature and
genuine, and, considering the poet's unfamiliarity with the country,
astonishingly correct in local color," _William Tell_ met from the
first much adverse criticism. This applied first of all to the
looseness of connection already cited between the various elements of
the action, and further, to the supposed superfluousness of the
Parricide episode in the Fifth Act, to the alleged unnaturalness of
Tell's long speeches and to the ignoble nature of his assault upon
Gessler from ambush. The last was given the poet in the legend of
Tell, which in general he took over with pious reverence as authentic
history. The Parricide episode was introduced, partly because it was
actually there in history and helped to complete the victory of the
peasants' cause, partly in order to give a better color to Tell's own
act, as being less prompted by selfish considerations. The criticism
of Tell's speeches, whether his pithy, epigrammatic sentences in Act
I, Scenes 1 and 3, and elsewhere, or his long monologue in Act IV,
Scene 3, applies to the whole constitution of the conventional stage
with just as much validity against Shakespeare's _Julius Caesar_ and
_Hamlet_ as against _William Tell_. True, it is not plausible that
Tell recited 100 lines of beautiful poetry while lying in wait for
Gessler; neither is it likely that Prince Hamlet talked to himself in
In general this play is more objective than Schiller's other plays,
and this was a quality which he admired in Goethe's work and strove
for in his own. Despite the technical criticisms, we find that the
play is filled with beautiful descriptions and noble sentiments nobly
expressed. On the stage most of the scenes are exceedingly fascinating
and effective. These beauties are quite sufficient to hide the lack of
unity, and the total effect with the majority of the people is a high
esthetic and ethical gratification. The play has remained one of the
most popular pieces on the German stage and has had an incalculable
effect in the cultivation of national feeling.
* * * * *
HERMANN GESSLER, _Governor of Schwytz and Uri_.
WERNER, _Baron of Attinghausen, free noble of Switzerland_.
ULRICH VON RUDENZ, _his Nephew_.
WERNER STAUFFACHER, }
CONRAD HUNN, }
HANS AUF DER MAUER, }
JORG IM HOFE, } _People of Schwytz_.
ULRICH DER SCHMIDT, }
JOST VON WEILER, }
ITEL REDING, }
WILLIAM TELL, }
ROeSSELMANN, _the Priest_,}
PETERMANN, _Sacristan_, } _of Uri_.
KUONI, _Herdsman_, }
WERNI, _Huntsman_, }
RUODI, _Fisherman_, }
ARNOLD OF MELCHTHAL,
CONRAD BAUMGARTEN, }
MEYER VON SARNEN, }
STRUTH VON WINKELRIED, } _of Unterwald_.
KLAUS VON DER FLUE, }
BURKHART AM BUHEL, }
ARNOLD VON SEWA, }
PFEIFFER OF LUCERNE.
KUNZ OF GERSAU.
JENNI, _Fisherman's son_.
SEPPI, _Herdsman's son_.
GERTRUDE, _Stauffacher's wife_.
HEDWIG, _wife of Tell, daughter of Fuerst_.
BERTHA OF BRUNECK, _a rich heiress_.
ELSBETH, } _Peasant women_.
WALTER, } _Tell's Sons_.
FRIESSHARDT, } _Soldiers_.
RUDOLPH DER HARRAS, _Gessler's master of the horse_.
JOHANNES PARRICIDA, _Duke of Suabia_.
THE MAYOR OF URI.
MASTER STONEMASON, COMPANION AND WORKMEN.
MONKS OF THE ORDER OF CHARITY.
HORSEMEN OF GESSLER AND LANDENDERG.
MANY PEASANTS; MEN AND WOMEN FROM THE WALDSTETTEN.
WILLIAM TELL (1804)
TRANSLATED BY SIR THEODORE MARTIN, K.C.B, LL.D.
_A high rocky shore of the lake of Lucerne opposite Schwytz.
The lake makes a bend into the land; a hut stands at a short
distance from the shore; the fisher boy is rowing about in
his boat. Beyond the lake are seen the green meadows, the
hamlets and farms of Schwytz, lying in the clear sunshine.
On the left are observed the peaks of the Hacken, surrounded
with clouds; to the right, and in the remote distance,
appear the Glaciers. The Ranz des Vaches, and the tinkling
of cattle bells, continue for some time after the rising of
FISHER BOY (_sings in his boat_)
_Melody of the Ranz des Vaches_
The smile-dimpled lake woo'd to bathe in its deep,
A boy on its green shore had laid him to sleep;
Then heard he a melody
Sweet as the notes
Of an angel's song.
And as thrilling with pleasure he wakes from his rest,
The waters are rippling over his breast;
And a voice from the deep cries,
"With me thou must go,
I charm the young shepherd,
I lure him below."
HERDSMAN (_on the mountains_)
_Air--Variation of the Ranz des Vaches_
Farewell, ye green meadows,
Farewell, sunny shore,
The herdsman must leave you,
The summer is o'er.
We go to the hills, but you'll see us again,
When the cuckoo calls, and the merry birds sing,
When the flowers bloom afresh in glade and in glen,
And the brooks sparkle bright in the sunshine of Spring.
Farewell, ye green meadows,
Farewell, sunny shore,
The herdsman must leave you,
The summer is o'er.
CHAMOIS HUNTER (_appearing on the top of a cliff_)
_Second Variation of the Ranz des Vaches_
On the heights peals the thunder, and trembles the bridge,
The huntsman bounds on by the dizzying ridge.
Undaunted he hies him
O'er ice-covered wild,
Where leaf never budded,
Nor Spring ever smiled;
And beneath him an ocean of mist, where his eye
No longer the dwellings of man can espy;
Through the parting clouds only
The earth can be seen;
Far down 'neath the vapor
The meadows of green.
[_A change comes over the landscape. A rumbling, cracking
noise is heard among the mountains. Shadows of clouds sweep
across the scene_.]
[RUODI, _the fisherman, comes out of his cottage_. WERNI,
_the huntsman, descends from the rocks_. KUONI, _the
shepherd, enters, with a milkpail on his shoulders,
followed by_ SEPPI, _his assistant_.]
Come, Jenni, bustle, get the boat on shore.
The grizzly Vale-King comes, the Glaciers moan,
The Mytenstein is drawing on his hood,
And from the Stormcleft chilly blows the wind;
The storm will burst, before we know what's what.
'Twill rain ere long; my sheep browse eagerly,
And Watcher there is scraping up the earth.
The fish are leaping, and the water-hen
Keeps diving up and down. A storm is brewing.
KUONI. (_to his boy_).
Look, Seppi, if the beasts be all in sight.
There goes brown Liesel, I can hear her bells.
Then all are safe; she ever ranges farthest.
You've a fine chime of bells there, master herdsman.
And likely cattle, too. Are they your own?
I'm not so rich. They are the noble lord's
Of Attinghaus, and told off to my care.
How gracefully yon heifer bears her ribbon!
Ay, well she knows she's leader of the herd,
And, take it from her, she'd refuse to feed.
You're joking now. A beast devoid of reason--
Easily said. But beasts have reason, too--
And that we know, we chamois-hunters, well.
They never turn to feed--sagacious creatures!
Till they have placed a sentinel ahead,
Who pricks his ears whenever we approach,
And gives alarm with clear and piercing pipe.
RUODI. (_to the shepherd_).
Are you for home?
The Alp is grazed quite bare.
A safe return, my friend!
The same to you!
Men come not always back from tracks like yours.
But who comes here, running at topmost speed?
I know the man; 'tis Baumgart of Alzellen.
KONRAD BAUMGARTEN (_rushing in breathless_).
For God's sake, ferryman, your boat!
Why all this haste?
Cast off! My life's at stake!
Set me across!
Why, what's the matter, friend?
Who are pursuing you? First tell us that.
BAUM. (_to the fisherman_).
Quick, quick, man, quick! they're close upon my heels!
It is the Viceroy's men are after me;
If they should overtake me, I am lost.
Why are the troopers in pursuit of you?
First make me safe and then I'll tell you all.
There's blood upon your garments--how is, this?
The Imperial Seneschal, who dwelt at Rossberg--
How! What! The Wolfshot? Is it he pursues you?
He'll ne'er hurt man again; I've settled him.
ALL (_starting back_).
Now, God forgive you, what is this you've done!
What every free man in my place had done.
Mine own good household right I have enforced
'Gainst him that would have wrong'd my wife--my honor.
How! Wronged you in your honor, did he so?
That he did not fulfil his foul desire,
Is due to God and to my trusty axe.
And you have cleft his skull then, with your axe?
O, tell us all! You've time enough, and more,
While he is getting out the boat there from the beach.
When I was in the forest felling timber,
My wife came running out in mortal fear.
"The Seneschal," she said, "was in my house,
Had order'd her to get a bath prepared,
And thereupon had ta'en unseemly freedoms,
From which she rid herself, and flew to me."
Arm'd as I was, I sought him, and my axe
Has given his bath a bloody benison.
And you did well; no man can blame the deed.
The tyrant! Now he has his just reward!
We men of Unterwald have owed it long.
The deed got wind, and now they're in pursuit.
Heavens! whilst we speak, the time is flying fast.
[_It begins to thunder_.]
Quick, ferryman, and set the good man over.
Impossible! a storm is close at hand,
Wait till it pass! You must.
I cannot wait; the least delay is death.
KUONI (_to the fisherman_).
Push out--God with you! We should help our neighbors;
The like misfortune may betide us all.
[_Thunder and the roaring of the wind_.]
The south wind's up! See how the lake is rising!
I cannot steer against both wind and wave.
BAUM. (_clasping him by the knees_).
God so help you as now you pity me!
His life's at stake. Have pity on him, man!
He is a father: has a wife and children.
[_Repeated peals of thunder_.]
What! and have I not, then, a life to lose,
A wife and child at home as well as he?
See how the breakers foam, and toss, and whirl,
And the lake eddies up from all its depths!
Right gladly would I save the worthy man,
But 'tis impossible, as you must see.
BAUM. (_still kneeling_).
Then must I fall into the tyrant's hands,
And with the shore of safety close in sight!
Yonder it lies! My eyes can see it clear,
My very voice can echo to its shores.
There is the boat to carry me across,
Yet must I lie here helpless and forlorn.
Look! who comes here?
'Tis Tell, ay, Tell, of Buerglen.
[_Enter_ TELL _with a crossbow_.]
What man is he that here implores for aid?
He is from Alzellen, and to guard his honor
From touch of foulest shame, has slain the Wolf-shot,
The Imperial Seneschal, who dwelt at Rossberg.
The Viceroy's troopers are upon his heels;
He begs the ferryman to take him over,
But frightened at the storm he says he won't.
Well, there is Tell can steer as well as I,
He'll be my judge, if it be possible.
[_Violent peals of thunder--the lake becomes more
Am I to plunge into the jaws of hell?
I should be mad to dare the desperate act.
The brave man thinks upon himself the last.
Put trust in God, and help him in his need!
Safe in the port, 'tis easy to advise.
There is the boat, and there the lake! Try you!
The lake may pity, but the Viceroy never.
Come, risk it, man!
SHEPHERD _and_ HUNTSMAN.
O save him! save him! save him!
Though 'twere my brother, or my darling child,
I would not go. 'Tis Simon and Jude's day;
The lake is up, and calling for its victim.
Nought's to be done with idle talking here.
Each moment's precious; the man must be help'd;
Say, boatman, will you venture?
No; not I.
In God's name, then, give me the boat! I will,
With my poor strength, see what is to be done!
Ha, gallant Tell!
That's like a huntsman true.
You are my angel, my preserver, Tell.
I may preserve you from the Viceroy's power,
But from the tempest's rage another must.
Yet better 'tis you fall into God's hands,
Than into those of men.
[_To the herdsman_.]
Herdsman, do thou
Console my wife if I should come to grief.
I could not choose but do as I have done.
[_He leaps into the boat_.]
KUONI (_to the fisherman_).
A pretty man to keep a ferry, truly!
What Tell could risk, you dared not venture on.
Far better men would never cope with Tell.
There's no two such as he 'mong all our hills.
WERNI (_who has ascended a rock_).
Now he is off. God help thee, gallant sailor!
Look how the little boat reels on the waves!
KUONI. (_on the shore_).
There! they have swept clean over it. And now
'Tis out of sight. Yet stay, there 'tis again!
Stoutly he stems the breakers, noble fellow!
Here come the troopers hard as they can ride!
Heavens! so they do! Why, that was help, indeed.
[_Enter a troop of horsemen_.]
Give up the murderer! You have him here!
This way he came! 'Tis useless to conceal him!
RUODI _and_ KUONI.
Whom do you mean?
1ST H. (_discovering the boat_).
The devil! What do I see?
WERNI (_from above_).
Is't he in yonder boat ye seek? Ride on,
If you lay to, you may o'ertake him yet.
Curse on you, he's escaped!
1ST H. (_to the shepherd and fisherman_).
You help'd him off,
And you shall pay for it! Fall on their herds!
Down with the cottage! burn it! beat it down!
[_They rush off._]
SEPPI (_hurrying after them_).
Oh my poor lambs!
KUONI (_following him_).
Unhappy me, my herds!
RUODI (_wringing his hands_).
Righteous Heaven! Oh, when will come
Deliverance to this doom-devoted land?
_A lime tree in front of_ STAUFFACHER's _house at Steinen,
in Schwytz, upon the public road, near a bridge_.
WERNER STAUFFACHER, _and_ PFEIFFER, _of Lucerne, enter into
Ay, ay, friend Stauffacher, as I have said,
Swear not to Austria, if you can help it.
Hold by the Empire stoutly as of yore,
And God preserve you in your ancient freedom!
[_Presses his hand warmly and is going_.]
Wait till my mistress comes. Now do! You are
My guest in Schwytz--I in Lucerne am yours.
Thanks! thanks! But I must reach Gersau today.
Whatever grievances your rulers' pride
And grasping avarice may yet inflict,
Bear them in patience--soon a change may come.
Another Emperor may mount the throne.
But Austria's once, and you are hers forever.
[STAUFFACHER _sits down sorrowfully upon a bench under the
lime tree. Gertrude, his wife, enters, and finds him in this
posture. She places herself near him, and looks at him for
some time in silence_.]
So sad, my love! I scarcely know thee now.
For many a day in silence I have mark'd
A moody sorrow furrowing thy brow.
Some silent grief is weighing on thy heart.
Trust it to me. I am thy faithful wife,
And I demand my half of all thy cares.
[STAUFFACHER _gives her his hand and is silent_.]
Tell me what can oppress thy spirits thus?
Thy toil is blest--the world goes well with thee--
Our barns are full--our cattle, many a score;
Our handsome team of well-fed horses, too,
Brought from the mountain pastures safely home,
To winter in their comfortable stalls.
There stands thy house--no nobleman's more fair!
'Tis newly built with timber of the best,
All grooved and fitted with the nicest skill;
Its many glistening windows tell of comfort!
'Tis quarter'd o'er with scutcheons of all hues,
And proverbs sage, which passing travelers
Linger to read and ponder o'er their meaning.
The house is strongly built, and handsomely,
But, ah! the ground on which we built it quakes.
Tell me, dear Werner, what you mean by that?
No later gone than yesterday, I sat
Beneath this linden, thinking with delight,
How fairly all was finished, when from Kuessnacht
The Viceroy and his men came riding by.
Before this house he halted in surprise:
At once I rose, and, as beseemed his rank,
Advanced respectfully to greet the lord
To whom the Emperor delegates his power,
As judge supreme within our Canton here.
"Who is the owner of this house?" he asked,
With mischief in his thoughts, for well he knew.
With prompt decision, thus I answered him:
"The Emperor, your grace--my lord and yours,
And held by me in fief." On this he answered,
"I am the Emperor's vice-regent here,
And will not that each peasant churl should build
At his own pleasure, bearing him as freely
As though he were the master in the land.
I shall make bold to put a stop to this!"
So saying, he, with menaces, rode off,
And left me musing with a heavy heart
On the fell purpose that his words betray'd.
My own dear lord and husband! Wilt thou take
A word of honest counsel from thy wife?
I boast to be the noble Iberg's child,
A man of wide experience. Many a time,
As we sat spinning in the winter nights,
My sisters and myself, the people's chiefs
Were wont to gather round our father's hearth,
To read the old imperial charters, and
To hold sage converse on the country's weal.
Then heedfully I listened, marking well
What now the wise man thought, the good man wished,
And garner'd up their wisdom in my heart.
Hear then, and mark me well; for thou wilt see,
I long have known the grief that weighs thee down.
The Viceroy hates thee, fain would injure thee,
For thou past cross'd his wish to bend the Swiss
In homage to this upstart house of princes,
And kept them staunch, like their good sires of old,
In true allegiance to the Empire. Say,
Is't not so, Werner? Tell me, am I wrong?
'Tis even so. For this doth Gessler hate me.
He burns with envy, too, to see thee living
Happy and free on thine ancestral soil,
For he is landless. From the Emperor's self
Thou hold'st in fief the lands thy fathers left thee.
There's not a prince i' the Empire that can show
A better title to his heritage;
For thou hast over thee no lord but one,
And he the mightiest of all Christian kings.
Gessler, we know, is but a younger son,
His only wealth the knightly cloak he wears;
He therefore views an honest man's good fortune
With a malignant and a jealous eye.
Long has he sworn to compass thy destruction.
As yet thou art uninjured. Wilt thou wait
Till he may safely give his malice vent?
A wise man would anticipate the blow.
What's to be done?
[Illustration: STAUFFACHER AND HIS WIFE GERTRUDE As
performed at the Royal Theatre, Dresden, 1906.]
Now hear what I advise.
Thou knowest well, how here with us in Schwytz
All worthy men are groaning underneath
This Gessler's grasping, grinding tyranny.
Doubt not the men of Unterwald as well,
And Uri, too, are chafing like ourselves,
At this oppressive and heart-wearying yoke.
For there, across the lake, the Landenberg
Wields the same iron rule as Gessler here--
No fishing-boat comes over to our side,
But brings the tidings of some new encroachment,
Some fresh outrage, more grievous than the last.
Then it were well that some of you--true men--
Men sound at heart, should secretly devise,
How best to shake this hateful thraldom off.
Full sure I am that God would not desert you,
But lend His favor to the righteous cause.
Hast thou no friend in Uri, one to whom
Thou frankly may'st unbosom all thy thoughts?
I know full many a gallant fellow there,
And nobles, too--great men, of high repute,
In whom I can repose unbounded trust.
Wife! What a storm of wild and perilous thoughts
Hast thou stirr'd up within my tranquil breast!
The darkest musings of my bosom thou
Hast dragg'd to light, and placed them full before me;
And what I scarce dared harbor e'en in thought,
Thou speakest plainly out with fearless tongue.
But has thou weigh'd well what thou urgest thus?
Discord will come, and the fierce clang of arms,
To scare this valley's long unbroken peace,
If we, a feeble shepherd race, shall dare
Him to the fight that lords it o'er the world.
Ev'n now they only wait some fair pretext
For setting loose their savage warrior hordes,
To scourge and ravage this devoted land,
To lord it o'er us with the victor's rights,
And, 'neath the show of lawful chastisement,
Despoil us of our chartered liberties.
You, too, are men; can wield a battle axe
As well as they. God ne'er deserts the brave.
Oh wife! a horrid, ruthless fiend is war,
That smites at once the shepherd and his flock.
Whate'er great Heaven inflicts, we must endure;
But wrong is what no noble heart will bear.
This house--thy pride--war, unrelenting war
Will burn it down.
And did I think this heart
Enslaved and fettered to the things of earth,
With my own hand I'd hurl the kindling torch.
Thou hast faith in human kindness, wife; but war
Spares not the tender infant in its cradle.
There is a Friend to innocence in heaven.
Send your gaze forward, Werner--not behind.
We men may die like men, with sword in hand;
But oh, what fate, my Gertrude, may be thine?
None are so weak, but one last choice is left.
A spring from yonder bridge and I am free!
STAUFF. (_embracing her_).
Well may he fight for hearth and home, that clasps
A heart so rare as thine against his own!
What are the host of Emperors to him?
Gertrude, farewell! I will to Uri straight.
There lives my worthy comrade, Walter Fuerst;
His thoughts and mine upon these times are one.
There, too, resides the noble Banneret
Of Attinghaus. High though of blood he be,
He loves the people, honors their old customs.
With both of these I will take counsel how
To rid us bravely of our country's foe.
Farewell! and while I am away, bear thou
A watchful eye in management at home.
The pilgrim journeying to the house of God,
And holy friar, collecting for his cloister,
To these give liberally from purse and garner.
Stauffacher's house would not be hid. Right out
Upon the public way it stands, and offers
To all that pass a hospitable roof.
[_While they are retiring_, TELL _enters with_ BAUMGARTEN.]
Now, then, you have no further need of me.
Enter yon house. 'Tis Werner Stauffacher's,
A man that is a father to distress.
See, there he is, himself! Come, follow me.
[_They retire up. Scene changes_.]
_A common near Altdorf. On an eminence in the background a
Castle in progress of erection, and so far advanced that the
outline of the whole may be distinguished. The back part is
finished: men are working at the front. Scaffolding, on
which the workmen are going up and down. A slater is seen
upon the highest part of the roof. All is bustle and
TASKMASTER, MASON, WORKMAN _and_ LABORERS
TASK. (_with a stick, urging on the workmen_).
Up, up! You've rested long enough. To work!
The stones here! Now the mortar, and the lime!
And let his lordship see the work advanced,
When next he comes. These fellows crawl like snails!
[_To two laborers, with loads_.]
What! call ye that a load? Go, double it.
Is this the way ye earn your wages, laggards?
'Tis very hard that we must bear the stones,
To make a keep and dungeon for ourselves!
What's that you mutter? 'Tis a worthless race,
For nothing fit but just to milk their cows,
And saunter idly up and down the hills.
OLD MAN (_sinks down exhausted_).
I can no more.
TASK. (_shaking him_).
Up, up, old man, to work!
Have you no bowels of compassion, thus
To press so hard upon a poor old man
That scarce can drag his feeble limbs along?
MASTER MASON _and_ WORKMEN.
Shame, shame upon you--shame! It cries to heaven.
Mind your own business. I but do my duty.
Pray, Master, what's to be the name of this
Same castle, when 'tis built?
The Keep of Uri;
For by it we shall keep you in subjection.
The Keep of Uri?
Well, why laugh at that?
Keep Uri, will you, with this paltry place!
How many molehills such as that must first
Be piled up each on each, ere you make
A mountain equal to the least in Uri?
[TASKMASTER _retires up the stage_.]
I'll drown the mallet in the deepest lake,
That served my hand on this accursed pile.
[_Enter_ TELL _and_ STAUFFACHER.]
O, that I had not lived to see this sight!
Here 'tis not good to be. Let us proceed.
Am I in Uri--Uri, freedom's home?