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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Act Three

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1Frightful wilderness

Scene 1

2Verrina, Bourgognino come through the night.

3BOURGOGNINO (stands still). But where are you leading me, Father? In your laboured breathing I still hear the dull pain that prompted you to call me away. Break this horrible silence. Speak. I’ll go no farther.

4VERRINA. This is the place.

5BOURGOGNINO. The most terrible you could have found. If what you undertake here resembles this place, Father, my hair will stand on end.

6VERRINA. But this is a garden compared with the night of my soul. Follow me to where decay eats at corpses until they have rotted away and death celebrates its horrible banquet--where the whimpering of lost souls makes devils laugh, and the thankless tears of wretchedness drain from the riddled sieve of eternity--there, my Son, where the world changes its password and the Godhead breaks its escutcheon of benignity. --There I’ll speak to you in distortions, and you will hear me over chattering teeth.

7BOURGOGNINO. Hear? What? I entreat you.

8VERRINA. Young man, I fear--Young man, your blood is red as roses--your flesh is sweetly supple. The feelings of such a temperament are tender and human. My frightful knowledge melts away in the warmth of this sensitive flame. If the frosts of old age or its leaden sorrow had stilled your leaping spirits--if the clotted black blood of suffering Nature had blocked the way to your heart, then you would be able to understand the language of my grief and to contemplate, with amazement, what I have decided.

9BOURGOGNINO. I shall hear it and make it my own.

10VERRINA. Not for that reason, my Son. Verrina will spare your heart that. Oh, Scipio, a heavy burden weighs upon my breast--a thought as hideous as night that shuns the day--monstrous enough to burst a man’s breast. --Do you understand? I intend to execute it alone, but bear it alone I cannot. If I were a proud man, Scipio, I could say that it is a torment to be the one great man. --Even the Creator found greatness too much and made spirits into his trusted friends. --Hear, Scipio-

11BOURGOGNINO. My soul is entirely open to yours.

12VERRINA. Hear and make no reply. Not a word, young man. Do you hear? Not one word should you answer. Fiesco must die!

13BOURGOGNINO (dismayed). Die? Fiesco?

14VERRINA. Die!--I thank you, God. Now it is said. --Fiesco must die, Son, and by my hand. --Now go. --There are deeds that submit to no human judgment--that recognize only Heaven as their arbiter. --This is such a one. Go. I want neither your praise nor your blame. I know what it will cost me and that is enough. But listen--you could go mad just thinking about it--listen: Did you see him yesterday preening before the mirror of our consternation?--The man whose smile misled all Italy--do you think he’d tolerate another such in Genoa?--Go. Fiesco will bring down the tyrant. That is certain. And Fiesco will become Genoa’s most dangerous tyrant. That is more certain still! (Rapid exit. Bourgognino gazes after him, astonished and speechless, then follows him slowly.)

Scene 2

15A hall in Fiesco’s palace. In the middle of the back wall a large glass door opens a prospect over the sea and Genoa. Dawn.

16FIESCO (at the window). What to make of this?--The moon is down. --Morning rises fiery from the sea. --Wild fantasies have consumed my sleep--have coiled all my being tightly around a single feeling. --I need to stretch myself in the open air. (He opens the glass door. Sea and city flaming in the dawn light. Paces the room with long strides.) That I’m the greatest man in all Genoa? Shouldn’t smaller souls then gather under the great one?--Or am I offending against virtue? (Stands still.) Virtue?--The exalted head knows other temptations than the ordinary one. --Should it be bound by the same virtue as the other?--The armour that constrains a pygmy’s puny body--should it have to fit a giant’s limbs?

17(The sun rises over Genoa.)

18This majestic city. (Rushing toward it with open arms.) Mine!--And then to rise flaming over it like regal day?--Hover over it with monarchic power?--And plunge all this seething desire--all these unappeasable longings into that bottomless ocean?--Why, yes! Even if the deceiver’s wit does not ennoble the deception, nonetheless the prize ennobles the deceiver. It is shameful to empty a purse--cheeky to embezzle a million, but indescribably great to steal a crown. The ignominy diminishes as the sin grows greater. (Pause. Then expressively.) To obey!--To rule!--Immense, vertiginous gap. --Throw into it all that man considers most valuable: your battles won, conquerors--artists, your deathless works--your pleasures, Epicureans--your seas and islands, you explorers. To obey and to rule!--Being and Nothingness! One who sets out over the bottomless moat of the last seraph to reach the Unbounded and Eternal will be able to measure this leap, too. (Exalted gestures.) To stand on that frighteningly lofty height--and smile down into the racing maelstrom of humanity, where the wheel of Fortune, that blind deceiver, turns perfidiously--to drink first from joy’s cup--to pull that armoured giant, Law, far below, along on lead strings--to see wounds struck unpunished while its shortarmed anger bangs helplessly on the parapets of majesty--to master the unruly passions of the people, like so many plunging horses, by a light touch on the reins--to lay the vassals’prideful ambition in the dust with one breath--one breath--even while the prince’s creative staff lifts his princely fever dreams into life. --What a picture! It flings the astonished spirit over its own boundaries!--One moment as prince and the marrow of all existence is consumed. It is not the arena of life--its substance is what determines its worth. Pick thunder apart into its separate syllables and you can sing children to sleep with it; forge them into a single sudden noise, and that monarchical sound will shake the eternal heavens. --I am resolved! (Walking heroically up and down.)

Scene 3

19Fiesco. Leonora enters, visibly anxious.

20LEONORA. Forgive me, Count. I’m afraid I’m disturbing your morning.

21FIESCO (steps back, very abashed). Indeed, my Lady. This is quite a surprise.

22LEONORA. Only to lovers does this never happen.

23FIESCO. Lovely Countess, you’re exposing your beauty to the injurious morning air.

24LEONORA. Yet I wouldn’t know why I should save the little that’s left of it for sorrow and regret.

25FIESCO. Sorrow, my love? Did I ever imagine that not wanting to overturn the State amounted to peace of mind?

26LEONORA. Possibly. --But I still feel my woman’s heart break under this peace of mind. I have come, my Lord, to burden you with a trivial request, if you can spare the time for me. For the last seven months I have dreamed, strangely, that I was the Countess Lavagna. That dream has vanished. And my head aches. To heal my spirits of this vivid imagining I shall have to summon all the happiness of my innocent childhood. Will you therefore permit me to return to the arms of my kind mother?

27FIESCO (deeply startled). Countess?

28LEONORA. My heart is a feeble, coddled thing, and you must have pity on it. Even the least reminder of that dream could harm my ailing fancy. Therefore I return these last remaining pledges to their rightful owner. (She lays a handful of love tokens on a little table.) And this dagger that pierced my heart (his love letter). --This one, too (she is about to rush from the room, weeping loudly)--and keep back only the wound.

29FIESCO (shaken, rushes after her, stops her). Leonora! What a scene! For God’s sake!

30LEONORA (falls weakly into his arms). I never deserved to become your wife, but your wife would have deserved to be respected. --How they whisper together now, the slanderers. How the ladies of Genoa and their daughters look askance at me. “See how she’s losing her beauty, the little minx who married Fiesco.”--Dreadful retribution for my woman’s vainglory. I despised all my sex when Fiesco led me to the altar.

31FIESCO. Now really, Madonna. This is a very odd scene.

32LEONORA. There! He’s turning white and turning red. Now I have courage.

33FIESCO. Just two days, Countess, and you can pass judgment on me.

34LEONORA. Sacrificed!--Let me not pronounce it in your hearing, virginal light! Sacrificed to a coquette. No! Look at me, my husband. But truly, the eyes that throw all Genoa into fits of abject trembling now must run and hide from the tears of a woman-

35FIESCO (very disconcerted). No more, Signora. No further.

36LEONORA (sorrowful and somewhat bitter). To flay a woman’s frail heart. How worthy of the stronger sex!--I threw myself into the arms of this man. All my womanly weaknesses clasped this strong man in transports. I surrendered my whole heaven to him. And this magnanimous man gives it away to a-

37FIESCO (breaking in vehemently). My Leonora, no!

38LEONORA. My Leonora?--I thank you, Heaven. That was the authentic sound of love again. I ought to hate you, you traitor, and I throw myself starving on the crumbs of your affection. --Hate? Did I say hate, Fiesco? Oh, do not believe it. Your false oath can teach me to die, but never to hate. My heart has been deceived. (Sound of the Moor approaching.)

39FIESCO. Leonora, grant me one small, childish request.

40LEONORA. Anything, Fiesco, only not indifference.

41FIESCO. What you like, as you like it--(Meaningful.) Until Genoa is two days older, ask no questions. Make no condemnation. (He conducts her becomingly into another room.)

Scene 4

42Moor, panting. Fiesco.

43FIESCO. Why so out of breath?

44MOOR. Quick, my Gracious Lord-

45FIESCO. Something caught in our net?

46MOOR. Read this letter! Am I really here? I think Genoa has grown twelve streets shorter, or my legs that much longer. You’re turning white? Oh, yes. It seems it’s heads they’re drawing cards for and yours is the ace of spades. How does that agree with you?

47FIESCO (drops the letter on the table, shaken). That curly head and ten devils! How did you get possession of this letter?

48MOOR. About the same way--as Your Grace is getting possession of the Republic. A courier was supposed to gallop to Levanto with it. I smell fresh meat. Lie in ambush in a hollow way. Pow! The marten’s done in--we have the hen.

49FIESCO. His blood upon you! Gold wouldn’t pay for this.

50MOOR. Then I’ll be content to have silver. (Slowly and seriously.) Count Lavagna. I had a hankering for your head lately. (Pointing to the letter.) Here’s another. --Now, I should think, lout and Gracious Lord would be even. From now on you can address your thanks to a good friend. (Hands him a second slip of paper.) Number two.

51FIESCO (takes the sheet, astonished). Are you out of your mind?

52MOOR. Number two. (He steps up beside him, impertinently, hands on hips.) So the lion wasn’t so dumb after all when he pardoned the mouse? (Guileful.) Right? He was a sly one. Who else would have gnawed him out of the net?--Well? How do you like that?

53FIESCO. How many devils did you hire, fellow?

54MOOR. At your service: only one, and he is in Your Honour’s pay.

55FIESCO. Doria’s personal signature!--Where does this sheet come from?

  • 51 my little Bononi: The Moor is referring to Diana Bononi (see Act II, Scene 15); The count in questi (...)

56MOOR. Fresh from the hands of my little Bononi.51 I found my way to her last night, let her hear the ring of your fine words and of your even finer sequins. They got through to her. She told me to stop by again at six this morning. The Count really was there, like you said. And paid black on white his passage to a contraband kingdom of heaven.

57FIESCO (exasperated). Those cheap skirt chasers! They want to bring down republics and can’t keep the least thing from a bawd. I see here that Doria and company have plotted to murder me along with eleven Senators and to make Gianettino sovereign Duke.

58MOOR. Quite right, and that on the morning when they elect a Doge, on the third of the month.

59FIESCO (rapidly). Our nimble night is going to strangle that morrow in the womb. --Quick, Hassan. --My affairs are in readiness. --Call the others. --We want to be the first to draw. --Get moving, Hassan.

60MOOR. I still have to unpack the rest of my news. Two thousand men have been successfully smuggled in. I’ve put them up at the Capuchins, ’where no unmannerly sunbeam will find them out. They’re wildly curious to see their new master and are fine fellows.

61FIESCO. Out of every head will grow a scudo for you. What is Genoa muttering about my galleys?

  • 52 the peace between France and Spain: The treaty of Crépy concluded by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V a (...)

62MOOR. That’s the best part, my Gracious Lord. Over four hundred soldiers of fortune, left stranded by the peace between France and Spain,52 took up with my men and clamoured for a good word with you, so that you would send them against the Infidels. I told them to come into your courtyard at evening.

63FIESCO (pleased). A bit more of this and I’ll throw my arms around you, you rascal. Masterly! Four hundred, you say?--Genoa is beyond help. And you have four hundred scudi.

64MOOR (with simplicity). What do you say, Fiesco? We two want to smash up Genoa until they can sweep up the laws with a broom. --What I’ve never told you: I have little birdies out in the local garrison, men I can count on like my descent into Hell. I’ve set it up so that we have at least six of ours among the watch at every gate, enough to talk up the others and put their five senses under a fog of wine. If you’re inclined to mount something tonight, you’ll find all the watches dead drunk.

65FIESCO. Don’t say another word. Up until now, I’ve shoved this huge block of granite along without human help, and here at the end the worst rascal in the territory should outdo me? Give me your hand, fellow. What the Count still owes you the Duke will make good.

66MOOR. And in addition, a little note from the Countess Imperiali. She signalled me to come up from the lane, was very gracious, asked me as a joke if the Countess Lavagna hadn’t had a touch of jaundice. Her Grace, said I, is inquiring after only one state of health--

67FIESCO (has read the note and tosses it aside). Well said. And she answered?

68MOOR. Answered that she nonetheless regretted the fate of the poor widow, that she would happily give her satisfaction and refuse Your Lordship’s attentions in future.

69FIESCO (drily). Which were going to cease before the arrival of the Millennium in any event. --Is that the extent of important matters, Hassan?

70MOOR (wickedly). My Gracious Lord, ladies’affairs rank right behind political ones.

71FIESCO. Yes, indeed, and certainly these. But what are you doing with that scrap of paper?

72MOOR. I’m about to cancel one piece of devilry with another. Signora gave me these powders to stir one into your wife’s chocolate every day.

73FIESCO (steps back, blanching). Gave you?

74MOOR. Donna Julia, Countess Imperiali.

75FIESCO (snatches them from him; fiercely). If you are lying, you dog, I’ll have you fixed live to the weathercock atop San Lorenzo, where one gust of wind will spin you around nine times. --These powders?

76MOOR (impatient). I’m to give your wife to drink in her chocolate. On orders of Donna Julia Imperiali.

77FIESCO (beside himself). Monstrous! Monstrous!--That lovely creature?--Can so much hell find room in the soul of one woman?--But I’ve forgotten to thank you, Divine Providence, for voiding it. --Voiding it by an even worse devil. Yours are mysterious ways. (To the Moor.) You are to promise to obey and to keep silent.

78MOOR. Very well. The latter is easy: she paid for it in cash.

79FIESCO. This note invites me to her. I shall come, Madame. I’ll talk you around until you come here. Good, then. You move as fast as you can. Call the whole conspiracy together here.

80MOOR. I saw this order coming, and on my own responsibility I’ve summoned every one of them for the stroke of ten.

81FIESCO. I hear footsteps. It’s them. Fellow, you would deserve your own gallows, where no son of Adam has ever swung before. Wait in the antechamber until I ring.

82MOOR (leaving). The Moor has done his job, the Moor can go. (Exit.)

Scene 5

83All Conspirators.

84FIESCO (advancing toward them). The storm is gathering. The clouds are lowering. Step softly. Double-lock the door.

85VERRINA. I have barred eight rooms after us. Suspicion can’t come within a hundred paces.

86BOURGOGNINO. There is no traitor here, unless it be our own fear.

87FIESCO. Fear cannot cross my threshold. Welcome, all who are as you were yesterday. Take a seat. (They sit down.)

88BOUGOGNINO (walking about the room). I don’t like to sit when I’m contemplating overthrow.

89FIESCO. Men of Genoa, this is a remarkable hour.

90VERRINA. You charged us to reflect on a plan for tyrannicide. Poll us. We’ve come to give an account.

91FIESCO. To begin with--a question that comes late enough to sound strange: Who shall fall?

92(All remain silent.)

93BOURGOGNINO (leaning over Fiesco’s chair; with meaning). The tyrants.

94FIESCO. Well said, the tyrants. I bid you consider the full weight of that word. One who is on the point of abolishing freedom, or one who has power to do so? Who is more the tyrant?

95VERRINA. I hate the former, but the latter I fear. Andrea Doria must fall!

96CALCAGNO (moved). Andrea, tired old Andrea, whose account with Nature may have fallen due day after tomorrow?

97SACCO. Andrea, that mild-tempered old man?

98FIESCO. This old man’s mild temper is fearsome, dear Sacco; Gianettino’s mad defiance is laughable. Andrea Doria must fall. Your good counsel tells us that, Verrina.

99BOURGOGNINO. Chains of steel, chains of silk--they are no less chains, and Andrea Doria must fall.

100FIESCO (going to the table). The staff broken over uncle and nephew, therefore! Give your signatures! (All sign.) We have decided Who. (They sit down again.) Now to the equally important How. --You speak first, friend Calcagno.

101CALCAGNO. We can execute it like soldiers or like assassins. The first is dangerous because it forces us to have many accomplices and rash because the hearts of the nation are not yet fully won over. --For the latter, five good daggers will suffice. In three days a High Mass will be celebrated at San Lorenzo. Both Dorias worship there. Before the Almighty even tyrants lower their guard. I have spoken.

102FIESCO (has turned away). Calcagno--your very reasonable opinion is atrocious. --Raffaele Sacco?

103SACCO. I like Calcagno’s reasons, but his proposal is an outrage. Better for Fiesco to have uncle and nephew invited to a dinner where they, hedged in by all the ill-will of the Republic, are made to choose: either eat death on our daggers or salute it with fine Cyprian wine. At least this method is convenient.

104FIESCO (horrified). And if that drop of wine, on their dying tongues, becomes boiling pitch, the first taste of Hell? What then, Sacco?--Enough of such advice. You speak, Verrina.

105VERRINA. An open heart presents an open countenance. A stealthy murder brings us into brotherhood with every bandit. A sword in the hand is the sign of the hero. My opinion is that we should sound the signal for insurrection and summon Genoa’s patriots to avenge themselves by storm. (He leaps up. The others follow. Bourgognino throws his arms around him.) BOURGOGNINO. And, sword in hand, force Fortune to favor us? That is the voice of honour, and it is my own.

106FIESCO. And mine. (To Calcagno and Sacco.) Fie, Genoese. Fortune has already done too much for us; we must now do something for ourselves. --Insurrection, then, and this very night, men of Genoa! (Verrina, Borgognino are astonished, the others frightened.)

107CALCAGNO. What? Tonight yet? The tyrants are still too powerful and our following still too thin.

108SACCO. Tonight yet, and nothing has been done and the sun is already going down?

109FIESCO. Your reservations are well founded. But read this. (He hands them Gianettino’s handwritten notes and walks up and down in malicious expectation as they read eagerly.) Farewell now, Doria, bright star. Proud and impertinent, you stood there as if you had leased Genoa’s whole horizon, and yet you saw that even the sun vacates the heavens and shares the world’s scepter with the moon. Farewell, Doria, bright star.

  • 53 Patroclus, too, had to die. Spoken by Achilles to Lycaon, King Priam’s son, whom he is about to sla (...)

Patroclus, too, had to die,
And was a better man than thou.53

110BOURGOGNINO (has read the writings). This is horrible!

111CALCAGNO. Twelve at one shot!

112VERRINA. Tomorrow in the Signoria!

113BOURGOGNINO. Give me those sheets. I’ll ride straight through Genoa, holding them so, and the cobblestones behind me will explode and the dogs howl bloody murder.

114ALL. Revenge! Revenge! Revenge! This very night!

  • 54 Sauli, Gentili, Vivaldi, and Vesodimari: Noble families of Genoa.

115FIESCO. Now you are where I wanted to have you. As soon as evening comes, I’ll invite the most eminent malcontents to an entertainment: every name on Gianettino’s hit list, and, in addition, the Sauli, Gentili, Vivaldi, and Vesodimari,54 all mortal enemies of the house of Doria, whom that assassin forgot to live in fear of. They’ll embrace my attempt on him with open arms, I do not doubt.

116BOURGOGNINO. I do not doubt.

117FIESCO. First and foremost, we must secure the sea. I have galleys and crews. The Dorias’twenty ships are unequipped, unmanned, easily surprised. The mouth of the Darsena is to be blockaded. All hope of flight bottled up. Once we have the harbour, Genoa is chained.

118VERRINA. Undeniably.

  • 55 St. Thomas Gate: La Torre di San Tommaso, one of the tower gates on the wall of Genoa, dating from (...)

119FIESCO. Then we’ll take and occupy the municipal strongholds. The most important is the St. Thomas Gate55 toward the harbour, which communicates between our sea force and our land army. Both Dorias are to be surprised in their palaces and murdered. Alarm is to be struck in all the streets, the storm bells tolled. And the citizens called out to take up our cause and fight for Genoa’s freedom. If Fortune favours us, you’ll learn the rest in the Signoria.

120VERRINA. The plan is good. Tell us how we divide the roles.

121FIESCO (with meaning). Genoese, of your own volition you have put me at the head of this plot. Will you also obey my further orders?

122VERRINA. As certainly as they are the best orders.

123FIESCO. Verrina, do you know the motto posted beneath the flag? Tell him, men of Genoa: it says, Subordination! If I cannot turn these heads just as I want to--Understand me well. If I am not sovereign in this conspiracy, it has lost one of its members.

124VERRINA. A life of freedom is worth a few hours of servitude. --We shall obey.

125FIESCO. Then leave me now. One of you will make the rounds of the city and report to me on the strength and weakness of the strongholds. Another will discover the password. A third will man the galleys. A fourth will bring the two thousand troops into my courtyard. I shall have put everything in order by evening and, in addition, as luck will have it, break the bank at faro. On the stroke of nine, everybody in the palace to receive my last orders. (Rings.)

126VERRINA. I’ll assume responsibility for the harbour. (Exit.)

127BOURGOGNINO. I for the soldiers. (Exit.)

128CALCAGNO. I’ll find out the password. (Exit.)

129SACCO. I’ll make the rounds of Genoa. (Exit.)

Scene 6

130Fiesco. Then the Moor.

131FIESCO (has seated himself at a desk and is writing). Didn’t they recoil at the word subordination, like a caterpillar pricked by a needle?--Too late now, Republicans.

132MOOR (entering). Gracious Lord--

133FIESCO (stands up, gives him a sheet of paper). All whose names appear here are to be invited to a comedy tonight.

134MOOR. To take part in it, presumably. Admittance at the price of your head.

135FIESCO (distant and contemptuous). When that’s attended to, I’ll not delay you here in Genoa any longer. (He leaves the room, letting a purse fall behind him.) That will be your last task. (Exit.)

Scene 7

136The Moor slowly picks up the purse, gazing after Fiesco in surprise.

137MOOR. Is that how we stand? I’ll not delay you here in Genoa any longer. Translated from the Christian into my Heathen, it says: When I’m Duke, I’ll have my good friend hanged on a Genoese gallows. Fine. He’s afraid that I, knowing his little ways, will make his honour hostage to my big mouth, once he’s Duke. Careful, my Lord Count. That might be worth considering. And now, old Doria, I dispose over your hide. --You’re done if I don’t warn you. If I go there now and denounce the plot, I’ll have rescued nothing less than the life and the duchy of the Duke of Genoa; nothing less than this hat brim-full of gold can be his thanks. (He is about to go, then stops abruptly.) Not so fast, friend Hassan. Are you on your way to doing something stupid?--If the whole massacre didn’t happen and something good came of it?--Pooh! Pooh! What kind of dirty trick is my greed playing on me!--What makes for more trouble? If I do in Fiesco here?--Or if I deliver Doria there to the knife?--You figure it out, devils of mine. --If Fiesco brings it off, Genoa can rise. Rubbish! That can’t be. If this Doria wriggles through, everything stays the same, and Genoa will have peace. --That’s even more disgusting!--But what a spectacle, when the heads of the rebels go flying into the hangman’s chophouse! (Crossing to the other side.) But all that jolly butchery tonight when Their Graces choke to death on the smarts of a Moor! Ugh! We’ll let a Christian find his way out of this tangle; the riddle is too thorny for a heathen. --I want to consult an expert. (Exit.)

Scene 8

138Salon of the Countess Imperiali. Julia en négligé. Gianettino enters in disarray.

139GIANETTINO. Good evening, Sister.

140JULIA (stands up). It would be something extraordinary that brings the Crown Prince of Genoa to his sister?

141GIANETTINO. Sister, you are swarmed about by butterflies, I by wasps. Who can find time to get away? Let’s sit down.

142JULIA. I’m going to lose patience with you.

143GIANETTINO. Sister, when did Fiesco last visit you?

144JULIA. Odd. As if I made a note of such bagatelles.

145GIANETTINO. I really have to know.

146JULIA. Fine. He came by yesterday.

147GIANETTINO. And seemed at ease?

148JULIA. As usual.

149GIANETTINO. Still the same old fantast?

150JULIA (insulted). Brother!

151GIANETTINO (raising his voice). Hear me! Still the same old fantast?

152JULIA (stands up, angered). What do you take me for, Brother?

153GIANETTINO (remains seated; with malice). For a piece of female flesh wrapped up in a great big patent of nobility. Between us, Sister, since no one’s listening in.

154JULIA (hotly). Between us--you are a hot-headed jackanapes mounted on your uncle’s credit as if it were a hobbyhorse. --Since no one’s listening in.

155GIANETTINO. Sisterkins! Sisterkins! Temper! Temper!--I’m just amused that Fiesco is still the same old fantast. That’s what I wanted to know. Compliments. (About to leave.)

Scene 9

156Lomellino enters.

157LOMELLINO (kisses Julia’s hand). Forgive the intrusion, my Gracious Lady. (Turned toward Gianettino.) Certain things that suffer no delay-

158GIANETTINO (takes him aside. Julia goes angrily to a piano and plays an allegro). Everything ready for tomorrow?

159LOMELLINO. Everything, Prince. But the courier who raced off to Levanto this morning has not returned. And Spinola hasn’t come. If he’s been picked up?--I’m very uneasy.

160GIANETTINO. Nothing to worry about. You’ve kept the list on your person?

161LOMELLINO (awkward). My Gracious Lord--the list--I’m not sure--it’s probably in the coat I wore yesterday-

162GIANETTINO. Fine. If only Spinola had arrived. Fiesco will be found dead in his bed tomorrow morning. I’ve made arrangements.

163LOMELLINO. It’s going to create a terrible stir.

164GIANETTINO. That precisely is our safety, boy. Everyday offences inflame the blood of the victim, and the man is capable of anything. Extraordinary crimes freeze the blood, and he’s nothing. Do you know the tale about the head of the Medusa? The sight turns you to stone. And what one can’t get done before stone warms up again!

165LOMELLINO. Have you said anything to the Lady?

166GIANETTINO. Certainly not! One has to be careful with her on the subject of Fiesco. But when she’s once tasted the fruit, she’ll not make a fuss about the price. Come. I’m expecting troops from Milan this evening and must leave orders at the gates. (To Julia.) Well, Sister? Will it take you much longer to bang away your anger?

167JULIA. Go. You’re an unmannerly guest.

168(Gianettino, leaving, bumps into Fiesco.)

Scene 10

169Fiesco enters.

170GIANETTINO (starting back). Ha!

171FIESCO (obliging, engaging). Prince, you spare me a visit that I was intending-

172GIANETTINO. I, too, Count, could meet with nothing more desirable than your society.

173FIESCO (goes to Julia and kisses her hand respectfully). And in your company, Signora, one is accustomed to always seeing one’s expectations exceeded.

174JULIA. Tut, tut. That would sound ambiguous said to someone else. But I’m appalled at my négligé. Excuse me, Count. (About to retreat into her dressing room.)

175FIESCO. Oh, stay, lovely Gracious Lady. Womankind is at its loveliest when attired for the night, (smiling) it’s the costume of the trade. --Your piled-up hair--let me muss it up entirely.

176JULIA. How you men like to muss things up!

177FIESCO (innocently, to Gianettino). Hair and republics: it’s all the same to us, isn’t it?--This ribbon has also been tacked on wrong. --Have a seat, lovely Countess. --Your Laura knows how to deceive our eyes, but not our hearts. --Let me be your chambermaid. (She sits down; he adjusts her garment.)

178GIANETTINO (tugs Lomellino’s sleeve). He doesn’t suspect a thing, poor devil.

179FIESCO (busy at Julia’s bosom). You see? I’m concealing this for good reason. The senses must carry their message blind, not knowing how Nature and Fantasy have arranged the game.

180JULIA. That’s frivolous.

181FIESCO. Not at all. For, you know, the best of late-breaking news loses something when it becomes the talk of the town. --Our senses are only the basic broth of our inner republic. The nobility lives on them but raises itself above the flatness of their taste. (He has readied her and leads her before a mirror.) Upon my honour! Tomorrow this outfit must become Genoa’s latest fashion. (With fineness.) May I conduct you through town like this, Countess?

182JULIA. What a sly-boots! How artfully he’s arranged to flatter me into getting his way. But I have a headache and shall remain at home.

183FIESCO. Forgive me, Countess--you may do as you like, but that you do not like. --This noon a troupe of Florentine players arrived in town and has offered to play in my palace. --Now, I was not able to hinder that the greater part of our noblewomen will want to attend the spectacle. This is a source of embarrassment, for I don’t know how to fill the box of honour without offending my susceptible guests. There is but one escape (bowing deeply): Would you be so gracious, Signora?

184JULIA (changes colour and goes straight into her dressing room). Laura!

185GIANETTINO (approaches Fiesco). Count, you may remember an unpleasant affair that took place between us recently--

186FIESCO. I would wish, Prince, that we should both forget it. --We men treat one another in keeping with our knowledge, and whose fault is it but mine that my friend Doria knew me but badly?

187GIANETTINO. In any case, I shall never think of it without sincerely asking your forgiveness--

188FIESCO. Nor I without sincerely forgiving you. (Julia returns, her costume somewhat altered.)

189GIANETTINO. --It just occurs to me, Count: You’re sending ships against the Turks?

190FIESCO. They weigh anchor this evening. --And I have some concerns here, from which the kindness of my friend Doria could deliver me.

191GIANETTINO (very polite). With the greatest pleasure!--Dispose over all my influence.

192FIESCO. Events toward evening might draw a crowd toward the harbour and before my palace that the Duke, your uncle, could misinterpret--

193GIANETTINO (heartily). Let that be my concern. Carry on, and I wish you good fortune in your undertaking.

194FIESCO (smiles). I’m very much obliged to you.

Scene 11

195As above. A German from the bodyguard.

196GIANETTINO (testy). Yes?

197GERMAN. As I was passing the St. Thomas Gate, I saw a large number of armed soldiers hurrying toward the Darsena and rigging Count Lavagna’s galleys for sailing--

198GIANETTINO. Nothing more important? Not to be passed on.

199GERMAN. Very well. There’s also a suspicious-looking rabble pouring out of the Capuchin cloisters and stealing across the market. Their looks and the way they walk suggest that they are soldiers.

200GIANETTINO (angry). The officiousness of an idiot! (To Lomellino, confidently.) Those are my Milanese.

201GERMAN. Does Your Grace order that they be arrested?

202GIANETTINO (aloud to Lomellino). Look into it, Lomellino. (Furious, to the German.) Go! That’s enough. (To Lomellino.) Make plain to that German ox that he’s to keep his mouth shut. (Exit Lomellino with the German.)

203FIESCO (who has been flirting with Julia meanwhile and casting stolen glances at the others). Our friend is irritated. May I know the reason?

204GIANETTINO. No wonder. All this eternal inquire-and-report-back. (Goes shooting out.)

205FIESCO. The spectacle awaits us, too. May I offer you my arm, my Gracious Lady?

206JULIA. Patience. I must first throw my wrapper around me. But no tragedy, Count. It’ll come back to me in dreams.

207FIESCO (mischievous). Oh, you’ll die laughing, Countess. (He leads her off.)



51 my little Bononi: The Moor is referring to Diana Bononi (see Act II, Scene 15); The count in question is Lomellino. He came to Diana in the night, as Fiesco had said he would (II, 15), and paid for his pleasure by losing the list he had made for Gianettino and that he was carrying on Gianettino’s instructions (II, 14). Bribed by the Moor, acting for Fiesco, Diana stole that list in the course of the night and gave it to the Moor, who now brings it to Fiesco.

52 the peace between France and Spain: The treaty of Crépy concluded by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France at Crépyen-Laonnois on 18 September 1544 left mercenaries that Fiesco wished to employ idle.

53 Patroclus, too, had to die. Spoken by Achilles to Lycaon, King Priam’s son, whom he is about to slay. Patroclus was Achilles’friend, whom Hector slew, prompting Achilles to return to battle and eventually to destroy Hector. Iliad, XXI, 107.

54 Sauli, Gentili, Vivaldi, and Vesodimari: Noble families of Genoa.

55 St. Thomas Gate: La Torre di San Tommaso, one of the tower gates on the wall of Genoa, dating from the fourteenth century.


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