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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Act One

Texte intégral

1A hall in Fiesco’s palace. Dance music is heard in the distance and the tumult of a ball.

Scene 1

2Leonora, masked. Rosa and Arabella rush onto the stage in disarray.

3LEONORA (ripping off her mask). No more! Not another word! Now we know. (Throws herself into a chair.) This is too much for me.

4ARABELLA. My Lady--

5LEONORA (rising to her feet). Before my very eyes! A notorious coquette! In plain view of the entire Genoese nobility. (Sadly.) Rosa! Bella! And before my eyes, my weeping eyes.

6ROSA. Take it for what it really was--a bit of gallantry--

7LEONORA. Gallantry?--And their eager exchange of glances? His anxious watching for her next move? That long kiss on her bare arm that left the print of his teeth, bright red? Ha! And the way he sank into a deep, motionless reverie, the very picture of delight, as if the world had vanished around him and he were alone with this Julia, in eternal nothingness? Gallantry? You sweet child who’ve never loved, don’t tell me about love and gallantry.

8ROSA. So much the better, Madonna! Lose one husband, gain ten cavaliers.

9LEONORA. Lose?--One skipped heartbeat of feeling and I’ve lost Fiesco? Out of my sight, you wicked chatterbox. --A bit of innocent teasing--perhaps a bit of gallantry. Isn’t it so, my sensitive Bella?

10ARABELLA. Oh, yes! Exactly right!

11LEONORA (lost in thought). Would she know she has his heart just for that?--Would her name lie concealed behind his every thought?--Speak to him in every trace of Nature?--What is this? Where is this leading? Would the world, in all its majesty and beauty, be for him nothing but a magnificent diamond in which her image--her image alone--is engraved? --Would he be in love with her?--With Julia? Oh, give me your arm--steady me, Bella!

12(Pause. Music is heard again.)

13LEONORA (starting out of her reverie). Listen! Wasn’t that Fiesco’s voice, over all the noise? Can he laugh when his Leonora is alone and weeping? But no, my child. It was Gianettino Doria, his peasant’s voice.

14ARABELLA. That’s what it was, Signora. But come into another room.

15LEONORA. Why so pale, Bella? You’re lying--I can see it in your eyes--and in the faces of the Genoese--something, something. (Covering her face.) Oh, for sure, these Genoese know more than a wife is permitted to hear.

16ROSA. Oh, jealousy, jealousy! How it exaggerates everything!

  • 13 Apollo… Antinous: The Apollo of Belvedere and the Belvedere Antinous (a copy of the statue of Herme (...)

17LEONORA (melancholy, rapt). When he was still Fiesco, came toward us in the orange grove, where we girls were out walking, Apollo in the bloom of youth, melted into manly, beautiful Antinous--13 Proud and lordly as he approached us, as if all ducal Genoa rested on his young shoulders. Our eyes stole after him and then shied back, as if caught robbing a church, when they met his flashing gaze. Ah, Bella, how we fed upon his glances. How enviously we all feared that they were meant for the next girl. They fell among us like Paris’s golden apple: smiling eyes turned more fiery, a peaceful breast turned more stormy, jealousy had divided us.

18ARABELLA. I remember. All womankind, every Genoese mother and daughter, was in uproar over this fine conquest.

19LEONORA (in rapture). And then to call him my own! Daring, terrible good fortune! Genoa’s greatest man, all mine (with poise), who sprang perfected from the chisel of the ever-fruitful sculptress, who combined in loveliest nuance all the great men of his noble house. --Listen, girls. Since I can no longer keep it secret. --Listen. I’ll confide something, (confidentially) a thought that came to me--as I stood at Fiesco’s side before the altar--his hand in mine. I had the thought that a wife is forbidden to think: Fiesco, whose hand now rests in yours--your Fiesco--softly, now! Let no man overhear us, how we are making bold with mere crumbs of his excellence--this Fiesco, your Fiesco--woe betide you, if this doesn’t lift your feelings--will--deliver our Genoa from its tyrants!

20ARABELLA (amazed). And this thought occurred to a woman on her wedding day?

21LEONORA. Amazing, isn’t it? To the bride in the joy of her wedding day. (More lively.) I may be a woman--But I feel the nobility of my descent. I cannot endure how this house of Doria wants to tower over our own ancestors. Sweet-tempered Andrea--it is a delight to love him--let him be Duke of Genoa forever. But Gianettino is his nephew--his heir--and Gianettino has an insolent, arrogant heart. Genoa trembles before him, and Fiesco (falling into melancholy), Fiesco--weep for me--Fiesco is in love with his sister.

22ARABELLA. Poor, unhappy Lady--

23LEONORA. And now just go and have a look at this demigod of the Genoese, sitting in the shameless company of revellers and easy women, tickling their ears with rude jokes, spinning tales of enchanted princesses--That is Fiesco!--Oh, girls, Genoa didn’t just lose its hero--I have lost my husband!

24ROSA. Speak more softly. Someone’s coming through the gallery.

  • 14 Fiesco’s coming: Schiller may have originally intended Fiesco to enter at the end of this scene as (...)

25LEONORA (starting). Fiesco’s coming.14 Run! Run! The sight of me could give him a bad moment. (She leaps into the next room. Her maids follow her.)

Scene 2

26Gianettino Doria, masked, in a green cloak. A Moor. The two in conversation.

27GIANETTINO. You have understood.

28MOOR. Very well.

29GIANETTINO. The white mask.

30MOOR. Very well.

31GIANETTINO. I repeat--the white mask.

32MOOR. Very well! Very well! Very well!

33GIANETTINO. You understand? If you miss, it hits here (pointing to his own breast).

34MOOR. No need to worry.

35GIANETTINO. And a good, hard thrust!

36MOOR. My Lord will be content.

37GIANETTINO (gloating). Let the poor Count not suffer long.

38MOOR. By your leave--about how heavy would his head weigh in the scale?

  • 15 sequins: The sequin (zecchino) was a gold coin minted by the Republic of Venice from the thirteenth (...)

39GIANETTINO. One hundred sequins15 heavy.

40MOOR (blows on his palm). Pooh! Light as a feather.

41GIANETTINO. What are you muttering?

42MOOR. I said--light work.

43GIANETTINO. That is your concern. This man is a magnet. He attracts all the troublemakers. Look, you: Do this thing right.

44MOOR. But, Master--I’ll have to escape to Venice right after it’s done.

45GIANETTINO. Then take your reward in advance. (Tosses him a bill.) In three days, at the latest. (Exit.)

46MOOR (picking up the bill). Now that’s credit. My Lord trusts a rascal’s word without a warranty. (Exit.)

Scene 3

47Calcagno, followed by Sacco. Both in black cloaks.

48CALCAGNO. I notice you’re watching my every movement.

49SACCO. And I observe that you’re hiding them all from me. Listen, Calcagno, for some weeks now your face shows something at work in you that doesn’t exactly have to do with our fatherland. I would think that we, being brothers, could trade one secret for another and lose nothing in the bargain. --Will you be forthright?

50CALCAGNO. So much so that my heart will meet you halfway on my tongue, if you don’t want to plumb my breast. --I’m in love with the Countess Fiesco.

51SACCO (steps back in wonderment). That I never would have figured out, even if I had considered every possibility. --Your choice stretches my wit on the rack and will break it if you meet with success.

52CALCAGNO. They say she is an example of strictest virtue.

53SACCO. They’re lying. She is the full article, not a dog-eared excerpt. One or the other, Calcagno: either give up this pursuit or take your heart out of it--

54CALCAGNO. The Count is unfaithful to her. Jealousy is the sliest matchmaker. An attempt against the Dorias would keep the Count busy and give me things to do at the palace. While he is chasing the wolf away from the flock, the marten will get into his henhouse.

55SACCO. You’re incorrigible, brother. And thanks. You’ve cured me, too, of blushing. What I was ashamed to think I can now say out loud: I’m reduced to begging, if the present constitution doesn’t get thrown out.

56CALCAGNO. Are you that deep in debt?

57SACCO. So deep that my lifeline, four times doubled, would snap on the first tenth of it. A new government will give me breathing room, I hope. Even if it doesn’t help me pay, it should spoil my creditors’appetite for making demand.

  • 16 Father of the Fatherland: A title given to Andrea Doria.

58CALCAGNO. I see. --And, in the end, if Genoa frees itself at this opportunity, Sacco will consent to being called a Father of the Fatherland.16 Well, tell me again that old tale about probity, now that the bankruptcy of a wastrel and the lust of a wanton determine the fortunes of the State! By God, Sacco! I admire Heaven’s fine speculation in us: using the leaking boils on the body’s limbs to save its heart. --Does Verrina know of your plot?

59SACCO. As much as that patriot should know. Genoa, you too know, is the spindle around which all his thoughts turn, with steely loyalty. He now has his eagle eye on Fiesco. He hopes that you, too, are halfway inclined toward a bold plot.

60CALCAGNO. He has a fine nose. Come, let’s go seek him out and fan his feelings for freedom with our own. (Exeunt.)

Scene 4

61Julia, excited. Fiesco, in a white cloak, hurries after her.

62JULIA. Lackeys! Runners!

63FIESCO. Countess, where are you going? What are you thinking?

64JULIA. Nothing, nothing at all. (Servants.) My carriage to the door!

65FIESCO. By your leave--no. There has been some offense.

66JULIA. Pooh! Hardly. --Let me go! You’re tearing my ruffle to pieces. --Offense? Who is there here who can give offense? Please go away.

67FIESCO (on one knee). Not before you tell me who has been so bold--

68JULIA (stands still, hands on hips). Oh, excellent, excellent. A sight to see. We ought to summon the Countess Lavagna to this charming spectacle. --Tell me, Count, is this the faithful husband? This pose belongs in your wife’s bedchamber, when she is checking her record of caresses and they will not add up. Stand up, I tell you. And betake yourself to ladies who’ll give you a better bargain. Stand up! Or are you offering your gallantries as penance for your wife’s impertinences?

69FIESCO (leaps up). Impertinent? Toward you?

70JULIA. To take her departure--push back her chair--turn her back to the table--the table, Count, where I am seated.

71FIESCO. Unpardonable.

72JULIA. Nothing more than that?--What a farce! And is it my fault (smiling to herself) that the Count has eyes?

73FIESCO. It is the fault of your beauty, Madonna, that he doesn’t have eyes for everyone.

74JULIA. No fine speeches, Count, when honour is the subject. I demand satisfaction. Shall I find it with you? Or in the Duke’s thunderous response?

75FIESCO. In the arms of love, which begs pardon for a faux pas born of jealousy.

76JULIA. Jealousy? Jealousy? What does that little dunce want? (Gesticulating before a mirror.) Can she find any better testimonial to her taste than that I declare it for my own? (Proudly.) Doria and Fiesco?--Must the Countess Lavagna not feel honoured that the Duke’s niece finds her choice enviable? (Amicably, offering her hand to be kissed.) If we suppose that I do find it so.

77FIESCO (vividly). Atrocious, my Lady. --And still you go on torturing me!--I well know, divine Julia, that I should feel only respect for you. Reason tells me to bend my subject’s knee before the house of Doria. But my heart worships the lovely Julia. My love is an outlaw, but also a hero, bold enough to breach the city walls of rank and to soar up toward the consuming sun of majesty.

  • 17 silhouette: One of several anachronisms in the play; the silhouette was fashionable in the eighteen (...)

78JULIA. A great, great lordly lie that lurches along on stilts. --His Lordship’s tongue tells me that I am god-like, and yet his leaping heart lies under the silhouette17 of another.

79FIESCO. Or rather, Signora, my heart beats against it unwillingly and wants to push it away. (Removing Leonora’s silhouette, on a sky-blue ribbon, and giving it to Julia.) Erect your image on this altar, and you can destroy this false god.

80JULIA (takes the locket quickly; with satisfaction). A great sacrifice, by my honour, deserving of my thanks. (She hangs her image around his neck.) There, slave, wear the colours of thy master. (Exit.)

81FIESCO (ardently). Julia loves me. Julia! I envy no god. (Pacing joyfully.) Let this night be a festival of the gods, a masterpiece of joy. Holla! Holla! (Many Servants.) Rivers of Cyprian wine through my halls, music to wake midnight from its leaden slumber, a thousand burning lamps to mock the morning sun!--Let there be pleasure everywhere, bacchantic dancing to stamp the realm of the dead to pieces! (He hurries away. Noisy allegro as a scrim is raised to reveal a large, brightly lit ballroom where many Masks are dancing. On the sides, Guests at gambling tables and tables offering wine.)

Scene 5

82Gianettino, half-drunk. Lomellino. Cibo. Centurione. Verrina. Sacco. Calcagno. All masked. A number of ladies and gentlemen of the Nobility.

83GIANETTINO (noisily). Bravo! Bravo! These wines go down famously, our lovely dancers leap à merveille. One of you go spread the word in Genoa that I am in fine spirits; they should regale themselves. --A redletter day, as sure as I live. Put it in the calendar: Today Prince Doria made merry.

84GUESTS (lift their glasses). The Republic! (Trumpet blast.)

85GIANETTINO (hurls his glass to the floor). Smashed to pieces. (Three black Masks spring up, gather around Gianettino.)

  • 18 San Lorenzo: The Roman Catholic cathedral in the centre of Genoa, dedicated to Saint Lawrence.

86LOMELLINO (brings the Prince forward). My Lord, you mentioned to me lately a young person whom you had seen at San Lorenzo?18

87GIANETTINO. That I did, fellow, and want to make her acquaintance.

88LOMELLINO. I can arrange it for Your Grace.

  • 19 Procurator: Retiring governors and doges were chosen to be procurators, who oversaw the finances an (...)

89GIANETTINO (quickly). Can you? Can you indeed?--Lomellino, you put your name on the list for the office of Procurator19 lately. You shall have it.

90LOMELLINO. My Gracious Prince, it is the second-highest office in the land. More than sixty noblemen are contending for it, all richer and more respected than Your Grace’s humble servant.

  • 20 Signoria: The Signoria, the supreme body of government of Genoa, was composed of eight Governors an (...)

91GIANETTINO (snorting aggressively). Damnation and Doria. You shall be Procurator. (The three Masks come forward.) Genoese noblemen? Let them toss all their ancestors and all their coats of arms into the scale at once: add one hair from the hoary beard of my uncle, and the whole Genoese nobility is outweighed. I so desire, and you shall be Procurator. That amounts to all the votes of the Signoria.20

92LOMELLINO (softly). The girl is the only daughter of a certain Verrina.

93GIANETTINO. The girl is pretty and, by God, I’ll have her.

94LOMELLINO. My Gracious Lord, the only child of the most obstinate Republican!

  • 21 Lanterna: The main lighthouse of the city’s port and symbol of Genoa, which stands 117m above sea l (...)

95GIANETTINO. The devil take your Republican! The anger of a vassal and my desire! You’re saying the Lanterna21 must collapse when boys toss seashells at it. (The three Masks close in, gesturing broadly.) Did Duke Andrea collect his scars in the battles of these rag-tag Republicans so that his nephew would have to seek the favours of their daughters and their brides on bended knee? Damnation and Doria! They’ll have to swallow my demand, or over the bones of my uncle I’ll erect a gallows and their Genoese freedom will swing from it. (The three Masks step back.)

96LOMELLINO. The girl is alone just now. Her father is present here. He’s one of the three masks.

97GIANETTINO. Perfect, Lomellino. Bring me to her right away.

98LOMELLINO. But you’ll be expecting a courtesan, and you’ll find a bundle of feelings.

99GIANETTINO. Force is the most effective form of persuasion. Bring me to her instantly. I’d like to see the republican dog that leaps up on the Dorian bear. (Bumps into Fiesco in the doorway.) Where is the Countess?

Scene 6

100As above, Fiesco.

101FIESCO. I have handed her into her carriage. (Seizes Gianettino’ s hand and holds it against his breast.) Prince, now I am doubly bound to you. Gianettino rules over my head and over Genoa, and your delightful sister over my heart.

102LOMELLINO. Fiesco has become quite an Epicurean. You are a great loss to the world of affairs.

103FIESCO. But the world of affairs is no loss to me. To live is to dream; to be wise, Lomellino, is to dream good dreams. Is this better done before a thundering throne, where the turning wheels of state grate eternally upon the ear, than on the breast of a panting woman? Let Gianettino Doria rule over Genoa. Fiesco gives himself to love.

104GIANETTINO. Time to go, Lomellino. It’s almost midnight. It’s time, I say. We’re grateful for your hospitality, Lavagna. I was content.

105FIESCO. That, Prince, is all that I desire.

106GIANETTINO. Good night, then. There’s gaming at the palace tomorrow and Fiesco is invited. Come, Procurator.

107FIESCO. Music! Lights!

108GIANETTINO (defiantly opening a path through the three Masks). Make way in the name of the Duke.

109ONE OF THE THREE MASKS (mutters resentfully). Only in Hell. Never in Genoa.

110GUESTS (moving out). The Prince is leaving. Good night, Lavagna. (They stagger out.)

Scene 7

111The three black Masks. Fiesco.


113FIESCO. I notice guests here who take no part in the pleasures of my evening.

114MASKS (muttering ill-temperedly among themselves). Oh, surely not.

115FIESCO (obliging). Should my goodwill send a single Genoese away discontented? Quick, lackeys! Refreshments here! Fill the great wine bowls. I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer boredom in my halls. May I entertain your eyes with fireworks? Would you like to hear my Harlequin’s arts? Perhaps you’ll find the ladies of my house diverting? Or shall we sit down to faro and beguile the time with gambling?

116A MASK. It is our custom to purchase our time with deeds.

117FIESCO. A manly answer and--this is Verrina!

118VERRINA (removes his mask). Fiesco discovers his friends in their masks more quickly than they discover him in his.

119FIESCO. I don’t understand. But what’s the meaning of this black mourning band? Can Verrina have lost someone and Fiesco know nothing about it?

120VERRINA. A death announcement has no place at Fiesco’s festive evenings.

121FIESCO. Not so, when a friend calls upon him. (Presses his hand with warmth.) Friend of my soul, who is it whom we’ve both lost?

122VERRINA. Both! Both! All too true!--But not all sons mourn their mother.

123FIESCO. Your mother is long in the grave.

124VERRINA (with meaning). I recall that Fiesco used to call me brother because I was the son of his fatherland.

125FIESCO (amused). Oh, is that it? It was all a joke? Mourning garb for Genoa. True enough, Genoa is now on its deathbed. That’s a new one. Our cousin is becoming a wit.

126CALCAGNO. He means it seriously, Fiesco.

127FIESCO. No doubt! No doubt! That’s just it. So straight-faced and so lachrymose. A joke loses everything if it’s told with a laugh. A face like a pallbearer! I would never have thought that our somber Verrina would become such a wag in his old age.

128SACCO. Come, Verrina. He’s no longer one of ours.

129FIESCO. But merrily, merrily, my fellow countryman. Let’s look like the wily heirs who follow the coffin weeping loudly, the better to laugh into their handkerchiefs. Though we may get a wicked stepmother for our pains. No matter! We’ll let her rage while we go banqueting.

130VERRINA (very aroused). In heaven’s name! And do nothing?--What has become of you, Fiesco? Where do I find the great tyrant-hater? There was a time when you would have doubled over at the sight of a crown. --You fallen son of the Republic, you will answer for it that I care not one fig for my own immortality, having seen that passing time can wear away the spirit, too.

131FIESCO. Always moping. Let him put Genoa in his pocket and peddle it to a pirate from Tunis, what do we care? We’ll drink Cyprian wine and kiss the pretty girls.

132VERRINA (observing him gravely). Is that your real, your honest opinion?

133FIESCO. Why not, old friend? Is it exactly a pleasure to be the foot of this sluggish many-legged beast of a republic? Thank the one who gives it wings and puts the feet out of service. Gianettino Doria is going to be Duke. Affairs of state will no longer turn us grey.

134VERRINA. Fiesco?--Is that your real, your honest opinion?

135FIESCO. Andrea is going to declare his nephew his son and make him heir to all his estates. Who would be so foolish as to contest his bequeathing him his power as well?

136VERRINA (deeply displeased). Come then, men of Genoa. (He leaves Fiesco abruptly. The others follow.)

137FIESCO. Verrina!--Verrina!--That old Republican is as rigid as steel!

Scene 8

138Fiesco. An unknown Mask.

139MASK. Do you have a moment, Lavagna?

140FIESCO (graciously). An hour, if you like.

141MASK. Then you would be so good as to accompany me outside the walls?

142FIESCO. We’re within ten minutes of midnight.

143MASK. You would be so good, Count.

144FIESCO. I’ll order the carriage.

145MASK. No need. I’ll have a horse sent ahead. No more is needed. Only one of us will re-enter, I hope.

146FIESCO (startled). And?

147MASK. You’ll have to answer in blood for certain tears.

148FIESCO. And these tears?

149MASK. Of a certain Countess Lavagna. I know the lady well and wish to know how she has deserved to be sacrificed to a fool.

150FIESCO. Now I understand you. And may I know the name of this curious challenger?

  • 22 Cibo’s noble daughter: i e. Leonore Fiesco.

151MASK. The very man who once worshipped Cibo’s noble daughter22 and renounced in favour of the bridegroom Fiesco.

152FIESCO. Scipio Bourgognino!

153BOURGOGNINO (removing his mask). And has now come to redeem his honour for yielding to a rival small-minded enough to torment one so sweet-tempered.

154FIESCO (embraces him warmly). You noble young man. It is thanks to the sorrows of my wife that I make so valuable an acquaintanceship. I appreciate the beauty of your sentiment, but I will not fight.

155BOURGOGNINO (taking a step backward). Count Lavagna would be too cowardly to risk himself against the first efforts of my sword?

156FIESCO. Bourgognino! Against all the might of France, but not against you! I honour this endearing ardour in behalf of an object yet dearer. That spirit deserves a laurel wreath, but the deed would be too childish.

157BOURGOGNINO (excited). Childish, Count?--Womankind, mistreated, can only weep. --What is the man there for?

158FIESCO. Uncommonly well said, but I will not fight.

159BOURGOGNINO (turns his back, about to leave). Then I shall despise you.

160FIESCO (animated). That, youngster, you shall never do, by God, and if virtue should fall in the market. (Cautiously takes his hand.) Have you never felt toward me what one might--how to put it--might call respect?

161BOURGOGNINO. Would I have renounced in favour of one whom I thought less than first among men?

162FIESCO. Very good, my young friend. And I in your place would be slow to feel contempt--for a man who had once deserved my respect. For I should think that the web of a master weaver would be too artful to be discerned by the fleeting glance of a beginner. --Go home now, Bourgognino, and take the time to ponder why Fiesco is proceeding this way and not otherwise. (Bourgognino leaves without speaking.) Farewell, noble youngster. When these flames leap over onto the fatherland, let the house of Doria look to its walls.

Scene 9

163Fiesco. The Moor enters cautiously and looks around narrowly.

164FIESCO (eyeing him sharply and steadily). Who are you and what do you want?

165MOOR (as above). A slave of the Republic.

166FIESCO. Slavery is a miserable business. (Still eyeing him sharply.) What are you looking for?

167MOOR. My Lord, I am an honourable man.

168FIESCO. Hang that sign around your neck. It will never be superfluous. --But what are you looking for?

169MOOR (tries to come closer; Fiesco evades). My Lord, I’m no rogue.

170FIESCO. Good that you say so--but also not good. (Impatient.) What are you looking for?

171MOOR (coming nearer again). Are you Count Lavagna?

172FIESCO (proudly). The blind men of Genoa know me by my tread. --What’s the Count to you?

173MOOR. Watch out, Lavagna! (Hard by him.)

174FIESCO (leaps away). That I do.

175MOOR (as above). They don’t mean you any good, Lavagna.

176FIESCO (draws back again). I notice.

177MOOR. Watch out for Doria.

178FIESCO (approaches him, more at ease). Have I done you an injustice, friend? That name I have reason to fear.

179MOOR. Then flee from the man. Can you read?

180FIESCO. An amusing question. You’ve had traffic with many a nobleman. Do you have something in writing?

181MOOR. Your name among the condemned. (Hands him a sheet of paper and leans in on him. Fiesco steps in front of a mirror and bends over the sheet. The Moor circles him, choosing his moment, finally draws a dagger and is about to strike.)

182FIESCO (pivots adroitly and blocks the Moor’s arm). Easy, easy, you dog. (Seizes the dagger.)

183MOOR (stamps wildly). The devil!--Beg pardon. (Tries to slip away.)

184FIESCO (seizes him, shouts). Stefano! Drullo! Antonio! (Catching the Moor in a chokehold.) Stay, my good friend. A hellish bit of mischief. (Servants.) Stand still and answer me. You’ve made a bad job of it. Who’s paying you?

185MOOR (after many attempts to slip away; firmly). They can’t hang me any higher than the gallows.

186FIESCO. No! Console yourself! Not on the horns of the moon, yet high enough still for you to take the gallows for a toothpick. But you chose too diplomatically for this to have been your work. Now tell me: Who hired you?

187MOOR. My Lord, you may curse me for a villain, but I’ll not be called stupid.

188FIESCO. Is this beast proud! Speak, you beast, who hired you?

189MOOR (reflecting). Hm! So maybe I’m not the only fool?--Who hired me?--And for one hundred miserable sequins. --Who hired me?--Prince Gianettino.

190FIESCO (pacing; bitterly). One hundred sequins and no more? For Fiesco’s head? (Sneering.) Shame on you, Crown Prince of Genoa. (Going to a casket.) Here, fellow, is one thousand, and go tell your master--he’s a tight-fisted murderer.

191(Moor looks him up and down.)

192FIESCO. You’re thinking it over, fellow?

193(Moor takes the money, puts it down, picks it up again, looks at him with growing amazement.)

194FIESCO. What are you up to, fellow?

195MOOR (decides and throws the money on the table). Master--I haven’t deserved this money.

196FIESCO. The gallows is what you deserve, you thieving dunce. An angry elephant tramples men, but not vermin. I’d have you hanged, if it cost me just two words more.

197MOOR (with a bow; pleased). My Lord is much too kind.

198FIESCO. God forbid. Not toward you! It merely pleases me to think that my caprice can make a rogue like you into something or nothing, and that’s why you go free. Understand me rightly. Your clumsiness is Heaven’s pledge that I’ve been saved for something great. That’s why I’ve been merciful and you go free.

  • 23 peninsula: Schiller may have mistakenly believed that Genoa was a peninsula or be attributing this (...)

199MOOR (extending his hand). Put ‘er there, Lavagna. One good turn deserves another. If there’s a throat too many for you on this peninsula,23 only say so, and I’ll slit it for you, for free.

200FIESCO. There’s a well-mannered beast. Wants to say its thanks with the throats of strangers.

201MOOR. We don’t accept gifts, Master. Our kind also has its honour.

202FIESCO. The honour of cutthroats?

203MOOR. Holds up better than that of your honourable men. They break their vows before God Almighty; we scrupulously keep ours with the Devil.

204FIESCO. You’re a droll rascal.

205MOOR. Pleased to see you’ve developed a taste for me. Put me to the test: you’ll find a man who can recite his lesson on the spot. Just ask me. I can give you a testimonial on every society of rascals, from the lowest to the highest.

206FIESCO. You don’t say. (Seating himself.) So even scoundrels recognize rules and ranks. Tell me about the lowest one.

207MOOR. Pooh, my Lord. That is the despicable army of the long-fingered. A wretched trade that never turns out a worthwhile man. Works its way toward the bullwhip or the stone quarry and ends up--at best on the gallows.

208FIESCO. A charming end. I’m curious to know the next better.

209MOOR. That’s the spies and machinators. Gentlemen of importance to whom the grandees lend an ear, where they get their superior knowledge. They fasten onto souls like leeches, draw off all the venom from the heart, and spew it out again for the authorities.

210FIESCO. I’m acquainted with that. --Next?

211MOOR. Now comes the rank of the assassins, poisoners, and all who track their man and then attack from ambush. Little cowards, often, but still a good sort who pay the Devil’s tuition with their wretched souls. Here justice goes one better: straps their joints to the wheel and plants their little noggins on pikes. That’s the third society.

212FIESCO. But, tell me, when do we get to yours?

213MOOR. Ho, ho, my Lord. That’s just it: I’ve made my way through all of them. My genius vaulted early across every preserve. I performed my masterpiece in the third one yesterday, and an hour ago--I botched the fourth.

214FIESCO. Which consists of--?

215MOOR (eagerly). These are the ones (excited) who seek out their man within four walls, hack a path for themselves through danger, attack him straight away, and with the first Hello! spare him his thanks for a second one. Between us: They call them the special delivery of Hell. When Mephistopheles feels a craving, it only takes a nod, and he gets the roast still warm from the oven.

216FIESCO. You are a sinner from Hell’s own kitchen. I’ve needed such a one for a long time. Give me your hand. I’m going to keep you in my service.

217MOOR. Serious or joking?

218FIESCO. I’m perfectly serious, and I’ll give you one thousand sequins a year.

219MOOR. Done, Lavagna! I am all yours and the devil take private life. Use me for what you will. As your tracking hound, your coursing hound, your fox, your snake, your go-between and henchman. For all commissions, Master, but no honest ones--there I’m a dunderhead.

220FIESCO. Not to worry. I want to give someone a lamb, I’ll not send it by way of a wolf. Go through all Genoa early tomorrow and catch the scent of things. Find out what they think of the government and what they’re whispering about the house of Doria. While you’re at it, inquire what my fellow citizens think of my high living and my great romance. Soak their brains in wine until their deepest opinions are flushed out. Here’s money. Distribute it among the silk merchants--

221MOOR (looks at him with misgiving). Master--

222FIESCO. Never fear. It’s nothing honest. Go now. Call on your whole band for help. I’ll hear your news tomorrow. (Exit.)

  • 24 twice seventy ears: Hassan apparently has 69 men to assist him, but may be exaggerating.

223MOOR (calling after him). You can count on me. It’s four in the morning now. By tomorrow at eight you’ll have heard news to fill twice seventy ears.24 (Exit.)

Scene 10

224Room in Verrina’s house. Berta prostrate on a sofa, holding her head. Verrina enters in a dark mood.

225BERTA (jumps up, startled). Dear heaven! There he is.

226VERRINA (stops; regards her, surprised). My daughter is startled at her father’s entrance?

227BERTA. Oh, flee! Or let me flee! You’re terrible, Father.

228VERRINA. To my only child?

229BERTA (looks at him, troubled). Not so. You must have another daughter.

230VERRINA. Does my affection oppress you so?

231BERTA. It crushes me, Father.

232VERRINA. What a reception, Daughter! Earlier, when I came home, weighed down, my Berta would come running and laugh away my cares. Come, Daughter, embrace me. Let your radiance warm my heart, which is turning to ice at the deathbed of my country. Ah, my child, I settled accounts with all the pleasures of Nature today, and (very heavily) you alone remain.

233BERTA (appraises him with a long gaze). Oh, my unhappy father.

234VERRINA (embraces her, depressed). Berta! My only child! Berta! My last remaining hope! Genoa’s freedom--it’s finished. --Fiesco, finished. (Pressing her close, through his teeth.) Just you become a whore--

235BERTA (tears herself away). Dear God! You know--?

236VERRINA (rooted to the spot). What?

237BERTA. My honour, my virgin honour--

238VERRINA (in a rage). What?

239BERTA. Last night--

240VERRINA (like a madman). What?

241BERTA. By force! (She sinks onto the sofa.)

242VERRINA (after a terrible pause, in a choked voice). Take just one breath more, Daughter--Your last. (His voice hollow, broken.) Who?

243BERTA. Oh, horrible! This bloodless anger! God have mercy! He stammers, he’s trembling!

244VERRINA. But I wouldn’t know--Daughter! Who?

245BERTA. Be calm, be calm, my own, my own precious father.

246VERRINA. In God’s name--Who? (About to fall to his knees.)

247BERTA. A mask.

248VERRINA (reflects in agitation, then takes a step back). No. Can’t be. Even God wouldn’t give me such an idea. (A shout of laughter.) Old fop! As if all venom were spewed by one and the same toad! (To Berta, more composed.) My height, or shorter?

249BERTA. Taller.

250VERRINA (quickly). Black hair, curly hair?

251BERTA. Coal black and curly.

252VERRINA (staggers away from her). Oh, God. My head! My head!--And his voice?

253BERTA. Hoarse. A bass voice.

254VERRINA (loudly). What colour? No, I don’t want to hear any more--His cloak--what colour was his cloak?

255BERTA. A green cloak, it seemed to me.

256VERRINA (covers his face with both hands and weaves his way to the sofa). Don’t worry. Just a bit of dizziness, Daughter. (Drops his hands. His face is death-like.)

257BERTA (wringing her hands). Merciful God! That’s not my father.

258VERRINA (after a pause, laughing bitterly). Quite so, quite so. You milksop, Verrina. --The little villain lays hand on the sanctuary of the law--that was too feeble a transgression for you. --He had to reach into the sanctuary of your bloodlines--(Leaps up.) Quick! Call Nicolo--Lead and powder!--But wait! I’ve thought of something different--better--Fetch me my sword, say an Our Father. (His hand on his forehead.) But what am I doing?

259BERTA. I’m frightened, Father.

  • 25 what did that old Roman do: An allusion to the story of Virginius as told by the Roman historian Li (...)

260VERRINA. Come. Sit down beside me. (With meaning.) Tell me, Berta--Berta, what did that old Roman do,25 grey like ice, when they also found his daughter--how should I put it--also found his daughter so attractive? Tell me, Berta: What did Virginius say to his mutilated daughter?

261BERTA (shuddering). I don’t know what he said.

262VERRINA. You silly thing--He didn’t say a word. (Stands up suddenly, seizes a sword.) He reached for a slaughtering knife.

263BERTA (frightened, rushing into his arms). Dear God! What are you about to do?

264VERRINA (casts the sword aside). No! There’s yet justice in Genoa!

Scene 11

265As above. Sacco. Calcagno.

  • 26 Election week: The Procurators and Signori were elected twice yearly, the Senators in December and (...)

266CALCAGNO. Quick, Verrina. Make ready. Election week26 has just begun in this Republic. We want to reach the Signoria early to choose the new Senators. The streets are thronged. All the noblemen are streaming toward Town Hall. Won’t you go with us (mocking) to see the triumph of our freedom?

267SACCO. There’s a sword on the floor. Verrina looks wild. Berta’s eyes are red.

268CALCAGNO. By God! I see that, too, now. Something terrible has happened, Sacco.

269VERRINA (drawing up two chairs). Sit down, both of you.

270SACCO. You are frightening us, friend.

271CALCAGNO. Friend, I’ve never seen you like this. If Berta hadn’t been weeping, I would ask: Has Genoa been lost?

272VERRINA (terrible). Lost! Be seated.

273CALCAGNO (shocked, as both seat themselves). Verrina! I entreat you-

274VERRINA. Hear what I tell you.

275CALCAGNO. Sacco, it begins to dawn on me--

276VERRINA. Men of Genoa--You both know how ancient my name is. Your forebears carried our trains. My fathers fought the battles of the State. Their wives were exemplary daughters of Genoa. Honour was our sole capital, passed down from father to son. --Or does someone know otherwise?

277SACCO. No one.

278CALCAGNO. By my Redeemer, no one.

279VERRINA. I am the last of my line. My wife lies buried. This daughter is her one legacy. Men of Genoa, you are my witnesses, you know how I brought her up. Will anyone come forward with a complaint that I neglected her?

280CALCAGNO. Your daughter is an example for us all.

281VERRINA. My friends, I am an old man. If I lose this child, I can hope for no more. My memory will be extinguished. (With a terrible turn.) I have lost her. My line is disgraced.

282BOTH (much stirred). God forbid. (Berta writhes, groaning, on the sofa.)

283VERRINA. Don’t despair, Daughter. These men are brave and good. If they grieve for you, there’ll be bloodshed. --Don’t look so shocked, gentlemen. (Slowly, with emphasis.) One who puts Genoa under the yoke can surely also force a girl?

284BOTH (leap to their feet, pushing back their chairs). Gianettino Doria!

285BERTA (cries out). May the walls fall on me! My Scipio!

Scene 12

286As above. Bourgognino.

  • 27 Coromandel: The Coromandel Coast, the southeastern coastal region of India The tropical wood of the (...)

287BOURGOGNINO (excited). On your feet, my little girl. Good news!--Noble Verrina, I come to make you arbiter of my happiness. I have long loved your daughter and never dared ask for her hand because my whole fortune was afloat on unsure boards of Coromandel.27 My Fortuna has just sailed safely into port, bringing me, as they say, immense treasure. I am a rich man. Give me Berta; I’ll make her happy. (Berta covers her face. Long pause.)

288VERRINA (carefully, to Bourgognino). Are you inclined, young man, to toss your heart into a mud puddle?

289BOURGOGNINO (reaches for his sword, then quickly withdraws his hand). It was her father who said that--

290VERRINA. Every cad in Italy will say that. Are you satisfied with the leavings of someone else’s meal?

291BOURGOGNINO. Don’t make me crazy, you greybeard.

292CALGAGNO. Bourgognino! The greybeard speaks truth.

293BOURGOGNINO (vehement, rushing to Berta). Truth? That I’ve been made a fool of by a strumpet?

294CALCAGNO. Not so, Bourgognino. The girl is perfectly pure.

295BOURGOGNINO (holds still, astonished). Well! As sure as I live, pure and dishonoured. That’s beyond me. --They all look at one another and say nothing. Some godforsaken misdeed is quivering on their trembling tongues. I entreat you. Don’t play games with my reason. Pure? Who said pure?

296VERRINA. My child is guiltless.

297BOURGOGNINO. Force, then. (Seizes the sword from the floor.) Men of Genoa! By all the sins beneath the moon! Where do I find the robber?

298VERRINA. Precisely where you’ll find the thief of Genoa--

299(Bourgognino freezes. Verrina paces, deep in thought, then stands still.)

300VERRINA. If I understand your sign correctly, Eternal Providence, you want to free Genoa by my Berta. (He goes to her, slowly unwinding the mourning band from his arm. Solemnly.) Until the heart’s blood of a Doria washes this blot from your honour, no ray of daylight shall fall upon your cheek. Till then--(he drapes the mourning band over her) be blinded!

301(Pause. The others gaze at him in awkward silence.)

302VERRINA (more solemnly, his hand on Berta’s head). Cursed be the breeze that caresses you. Cursed the sleep that refreshes you. Cursed every trace of humanity that you long for in your wretchedness. Go down into the deepest vaults of my cellars. Whimper. Howl. Make time stand still with your sorrow. (He continues, interrupted by shuddering.) Let your life be the agonized writhing of dying vermin--the unyielding, grinding battle between being and not being. --May this curse lie upon you until the last breath has rattled from Gianettino’s throat. --If not, may you drag him along after you in all eternity, until we discover where the two ends of its circle mesh.

303(Long silence. Horror on every face. Verrina looks firmly and searchingly at each one.)

304BOURGOGNINO. You jackal of a father! What have you done? To lay this monstrous curse upon your poor, guiltless daughter!

305VERRINA. Terrible, isn’t it, my tender-hearted bridegroom? (Very significantly.) Who among you will turn up now and natter on about cold-bloodedness and need to delay? Genoa’s lot has been thrown in with my Berta’s. I have delivered a father’s heart over to my civic duty. Who among us is weakling enough to delay Genoa’s deliverance, now that he knows that his cowardice will cost this innocent lamb endless sorrow?--That was no fool’s blathering, by God. --I have taken an oath and shall show my child no mercy until one of the Dorias lies stretched on the ground, in his death throes, even if I have to think up new forms of torture, like a hangman, and if I have to smash this innocent lamb on a cannibal’s rack. --They’re trembling. --White as a ghost, they leer at me. --I repeat, Scipio: I hold her hostage to your tyrannicide. By this cherished thread I bind you, me, and all of us to our duty. Genoa’s despot must fall, or the girl will despair. I shall not recant.

306BOURGOGNINO (throwing himself at Berta’s feet). And he shall fall--fall for Genoa, like a sacrificial animal. As surely as I shall turn this sword in Doria’s heart, just as surely shall I press the bridegroom’s kiss upon your lips. (Stands up.)

307VERRINA. The first bridal couple to receive the blessing of the Furies. Join hands. You will turn your sword in Doria’s heart?--Then take her; she is yours.

308CALCAGNO (kneels). Here kneels another Genoese and lays his terrible sword at the feet of innocence. May Calcagno find his way to Heaven as certainly as his sword will find an avenue to Doria’s life. (Stands up.)

309SACCO. Last, but no less determined, Raffaele Sacco kneels. If my bright steel fails to open Berta’s prison, let the ear of my Redeemer be closed against my final prayer. (Stands up.)

310VERRINA (cheerfully). My friends, Genoa thanks you in my person. Go now, Daughter, happy to be the great sacrifice of our country.

311BOURGOGNINO (embraces her as she leaves). Go. Trust in God and in Bourgognino. Berta and Genoa will be free on one and the same day. (Berta goes out.)

Scene 13

312As above, without Berta.

313CALCAGNO. Before we go any further, just one word, men of Genoa.

314VERRINA. I can guess what it is.

315CALCAGNO. Are we four patriots sufficient to bring down tyranny, that many-headed hydra? Shouldn’t we also raise the common man? Bring the nobility onto our side?

  • 28 Appius Claudius: See above: ‘what did that old Roman do.’

316VERRINA. I understand. Listen. I have long had a painter in my service who bends all his efforts on painting the fall of Appius Claudius28 in fresco. Fiesco adores art, loves to find excitement in exalted scenes. We’ll bring the painting to his palace and be present when he sees it. Perhaps the sight of it will rouse his genius again. --Perhaps--

317BOURGOGNINO. What need of him? Double the danger, says the hero, not our helpers. I’ve long felt something in my breast, something unappeasable. --Now suddenly I know what it is. (Leaps up heroically.) I have a tyrant before me!



13 Apollo… Antinous: The Apollo of Belvedere and the Belvedere Antinous (a copy of the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles) were admired in eighteenth-century Germany as models of male beauty and mentioned by Winckelmann in his Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture (Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst, 1755).

14 Fiesco’s coming: Schiller may have originally intended Fiesco to enter at the end of this scene as some critics suggest; but the fact that it is Gianettino Doria and the Moor who do, may suggest that some scenes can be thought of as taking place simultaneously.

15 sequins: The sequin (zecchino) was a gold coin minted by the Republic of Venice from the thirteenth century onwards.

16 Father of the Fatherland: A title given to Andrea Doria.

17 silhouette: One of several anachronisms in the play; the silhouette was fashionable in the eighteenth century.

18 San Lorenzo: The Roman Catholic cathedral in the centre of Genoa, dedicated to Saint Lawrence.

19 Procurator: Retiring governors and doges were chosen to be procurators, who oversaw the finances and taxes of the town.

20 Signoria: The Signoria, the supreme body of government of Genoa, was composed of eight Governors and the Doge chosen by the Grand Council.

21 Lanterna: The main lighthouse of the city’s port and symbol of Genoa, which stands 117m above sea level, rebuilt in 1543. Gianettino’s yielding to bourgeois constraints on his lust is like the lighthouse of Genoa yielding to the sea shells thrown by small boys.

22 Cibo’s noble daughter: i e. Leonore Fiesco.

23 peninsula: Schiller may have mistakenly believed that Genoa was a peninsula or be attributing this view to the Moor, who is not the most reliable of characters.

24 twice seventy ears: Hassan apparently has 69 men to assist him, but may be exaggerating.

25 what did that old Roman do: An allusion to the story of Virginius as told by the Roman historian Livy. Virginius stabbed his daughter to save her from being ravished by the Decemvir Appius Claudius. Lessing famously alluded to the story in the final act of his play Emilia Galotti (1772).

26 Election week: The Procurators and Signori were elected twice yearly, the Senators in December and the Doge in January.

27 Coromandel: The Coromandel Coast, the southeastern coastal region of India The tropical wood of the Coromandel Coast provided the boards for ship construction.

28 Appius Claudius: See above: ‘what did that old Roman do.’


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