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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

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Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Act Four

Texte intégral

1It is night. Courtyard of Fiesco’s palace. The lanterns are being lit, weapons are being brought in. One wing of the palace is illuminated.

Scene 1

2Bourgognino leads in Soldiers.

3BOUGOGNINO. Halt!--Four sentries to the main courtyard gate. Two to each entrance to the palace. (Guards take their posts.) Anyone who wishes to enter will be admitted. No one may leave again. Any use of force will be struck down. (Takes the rest of the troops into the palace. Sentries walk up and down. Pause.)

Scene 2

4SENTRIES AT COURTYARD GATE (call out). Who goes there? (Centurione enters.)

5CENTURIONE. Friend of Lavagna. (Crosses the courtyard toward the entrance on the right.)

6SENTRIES (there). Stand back.

7CENTURIONE (stops short, then crosses toward the left entrance).

8SENTRIES (on left). Stand back.

9CENTURIONE (stands still, baffled. Pause. Then to the Watch on the left). Friend? Which way to the play?

10SENTRY. Can’t say.

11CENTURIONE (walks up and down in growing bafflement, then to the Watch on the right). Friend, when does the play begin?

12SENTRY. Can’t say.

13CENTURIONE (astonished. Walks up and down. Starts at the sight of the weapons). Friend? What’s this for?

14SENTRY. Can’t say.

15CENTURIONE (wraps his cloak around himself, very uneasy). Strange!

16SENTRIES AT COURTYARD GATE (call out). Who goes there?

Scene 3

17As above. Cibo enters.

18CIBO (entering). Friend of Lavagna.

19CENTURIONE. Cibo, where do we find ourselves?

20CIBO. What?

21CENTURIONE. Look around, Cibo.

22CIBO. Where? What?

23CENTURIONE. All the entrances guarded.

24CIBO. There are weapons lying here.

25CENTURIONE. No one will explain.

26CIBO. That’s curious.

27CENTURIONE. What’s the hour?

28CIBO. After eight.

29CENTURIONE. Foo! It’s bitter cold.

30CIBO. Eight is the appointed hour.

31CENTURIONE (shaking his head). There’s something wrong here.

32CIBO. Fiesco’s planning some joke.

33CENTURIONE. Tomorrow we elect a Doge. --Cibo, something’s wrong here.

34CIBO. Shh! Shh! Shh!

35CENTURIONE. The right wing is full of lights.

36CIBO. Don’t you hear something? Don’t you hear something?

37CENTURIONE. A low murmuring in there and now and then--

38CIBO. A muffled rattling, as if of armour rubbing together--

39CENTURIONE. Horrible! Horrible!

40CIBO. A carriage! It’s stopping at the gate!

41SENTRIES AT COURTYARD GATE (call out). Who goes there?

Scene 4

42As above. The four Asserati.

43ASSERATO (entering). Friend of Fiesco.

44CIBO. It’s the four Asserati.

45CENTURIONE. Good evening, countryman.

46ASSERATO. We’re going to the play.

47CIBO. Good luck to you.

48ASSERATO. Aren’t you also going to the play?

49CENTURIONE. Please go first. We want to catch a breath of fresh air.

50ASSERATO. It starts soon. Come. (They go forward.)

51SENTRY. Stand back!

52ASSERATO. What’s intended here?

53CENTURIONE (laughs). Try tending toward the palace.

54ASSERATO. There’s some misunderstanding.

55CIBO. Manifestly. (Music in the right wing.)

56ASSERATO. Do you hear the concert? The comedy seems to be about to begin.

57CENTURIONE. It seems to me it’s already begun, and we’re playing the fools in it.

58CIBO. I’m not all that wild about it anymore. I’m leaving.

59ASSERATO. Weapons, yet!

60CIBO. Pooh! Stage props.

61CENTURIONE. Are we supposed to stand here like fools on the banks of Acheron?

  • 56 fools on the banks of Acheron: Those sitting on the banks of the Acheron, one of the rivers leading (...)

6256 Come! Off to the coffee house! (All six hurry toward the gate.)

63SENTRIES (cry loudly). Stand back!

64CENTURIONE. Death and destruction! We’re prisoners!

65CIBO. My sword says: Not for long.

66ASSERATO. Put up! Put up! The Count is a man of honour.

67CIBO. Sold out! Betrayed! That play was bait, and the trap has slammed shut behind the mouse.

68ASSERATO. God forbid! I dread to know what will come of this.

Scene 5

69SENTRIES. Who goes there? (Verrina, Sacco enter.)

70VERRINA. Friends of the house. (Seven other Noblemen follow.)

71CIBO. His intimates! Now we’ll get some clarity.

  • 57 Sebastiano Lescaro: A person so-named (or Lercaro) appears in Schiller’s sources as an accomplice o (...)

72SACCO (in conversation with Verrina). As I told you, Lescaro57 has the watch at the St. Thomas Gate. Doria’s best officer and blindly loyal to him.

73VERRINA. That’s good.

74CIBO (to Verrina). You come just in time to help us all out of a dream.

75VERRINA. How so? How so?

76CENTURIONE. We’ve been invited to a play.

77VERRINA. Then we’re going the same way.

78CENTURIONE (impatient). The way of all flesh. That one I’m acquainted with. You surely see that the entrances are guarded? Why guard the entrances?

79CIBO. Why the weapons?

80CENTURIONE. We’re standing around as if under the gallows.

81VERRINA. The Count himself is coming.

82CENTURIONE. Let him be quick about it. My patience is running out. (All Noblemen walk up and down in the background.)

83BOURGOGNINO (from the palace). What news from the harbour, Verrina?

84VERRINA. Everybody safely on board.

85BOURGOGNINO. The palace is also stuffed full of soldiers.

86VERRINA. It’s nearly nine o’clock.

87BOURGOGNINO. The Count is slow.

88VERRINA. But still too speedy for his hopes. Bougognino, my blood freezes when I think--

89BOURGOGNINO. Nothing in haste, Father.

90VERRINA. There’s no being hasty when there can be no delay. If I can’t commit the second murder, I’ll never justify the first.

91BOURGOGNINO. But when is Fiesco to die?

92VERRINA. When Genoa is free, Fiesco dies.

93SENTRIES. Who goes there?

Scene 6

94As above. Fiesco.

95FIESCO (entering). A friend. (All bow. The Sentries present arms.) Welcome, my worthy guests. You will have complained of your host’s tardiness. I apologize. (Softly to Verrina.) All done?

96VERRINA (to his ear). Perfectly.

97FIESCO (softly to Bourgognino). And?

98BOURGOGNINO. Everything in order.

99FIESCO (to Sacco). And?

100SACCO. All’s well.

101FIESCO. And Calcagno?

102BOURGOGNINO. Not back yet.

103FIESCO (aloud to the Watch at the gate). Gates closed. (He takes off his hat and approaches the gathered Company with easy presence.) My Lords! I took the liberty of inviting you to a play. Not, however, for your entertainment, but to give you a role in it. My friends, we have endured Gianettino Doria’s defiance and Andrea’s presumptuousness long enough. If we want to save Genoa, friends, we have no time to lose. To what end, think you, the twenty galleys that occupy our country’s harbour? To what end such alliances as these Dorias have concluded? To what end the foreign arms they have brought into the heart of Genoa?--Grumbling and cursing are now no longer enough. To save all we must dare all. A desperate evil requires a bold remedy. Can there be anyone present in this company so phlegmatic as to acknowledge a master who is no more than his equal?--(Murmuring.)--There is not one among us whose ancestors did not stand around Genoa’s cradle. What, then, by all that is sacred, what excellence do those two citizens enjoy that they should impertinently take flight over our heads?--(More agitated grumbling.)--Each of you is solemnly called upon to defend Genoa’s cause against its oppressors. --Not one among you can forfeit a hair’s breadth of his rights without thereby betraying the soul of the entire State--

104(Agitation among his hearers interrupts him. Then he continues.)

105You feel--Everything has been gained now. I have already opened the way to glory before you. Will you follow? I am ready to lead you. These preparations--that you have but fleetingly regarded and with horror--these preparations must inspire a renewed spirit of heroism in you. Those shudders of alarm must take on warmth and become a glorious eagerness to make common cause with these patriots and with me, and to bring these tyrants down resoundingly. Success will favour our daring, for my preparations are good. Our undertaking is just, for Genoa is suffering. The intention makes us immortal, for it is dangerous and tremendous.

106CENTURIONE (in a stormy burst of feeling). Enough! Genoa will be free! With this battle cry, against the gates of Hell.

107CIBO. Anyone whom that does not rouse from his slumber--may he pant at his oar until the trumpets of the Last Judgment sound to release him.

108FIESCO. Those were the words of a man. Now you deserve to know the danger that has hung over you and Genoa. (He gives them the papers that the Moor produced.) Light here, soldiers! (The Noblemen crowd around a torch and read.) That’s the effect I wanted, friend.

109VERRINA. Not so loud. There on the left I saw faces go pale and knees knock together.

110CENTURIONE (enraged). Twelve Senators! Fiendish! Everybody take up a sword. (All but two fall upon the ready weapons.)

111CIBO. Your name’s there, too, Bourgognino.

112BOURGOGNINO. And today yet on Doria’s throat, God willing.

113CENTURIONE. Two swords are still lying there.

114CIBO. What? What?

115CENTURIONE. Two did not pick up a sword.

116ASSERATO. My brothers cannot bear the sight of blood. Spare them.

117CENTURIONE (remonstrating). What? What? The sight of a tyrant’s blood? Skin the mollies. Throw them out of the Republic, the bastards. (Some of the Company angrily attack the two.)

118FIESCO (separating them). Halt! Halt! Is Genoa to owe its freedom to slaves? Should our gold, alloyed with base metal, lose its ring of authenticity? (He frees them.) You, gentlemen, will content yourselves with a chamber in my palace until our affairs have been decided. (To the Watch.) Two prisoners. You will answer for them. Two armed sentries on their threshold. (They are led away.)

119WATCH AT THE COURTYARD GATE. Who goes there? (Knocking.)

120CALCAGNO (calls in fright). Open up! A friend! For God’s sake, open up.

121BOURGOGNINO. It’s Calcagno. What’s this “for God’s sake”?

122FIESCO. Open for him, soldiers.

Scene 7

123As above. Calcagno enters, breathless, frightened.

124CALCAGNO. Done for. Done for. Run for your lives. It’s all over.

  • 58 flesh made of cast iron: Homer, Iliad, IV, 510.

125BOURGOGNINO. What’s over? Do they have flesh of cast iron?58 Are our swords reeds?

126FIESCO. Steady, Calcagno! A misunderstanding here would be unforgivable.

127CALCAGNO. We’ve been betrayed. A hellish truth. Your Moor, Lavagna, the rascal. I’ve just come from the palace of the Signoria. He had an audience with the Duke. (All the Noblemen go pale; even Fiesco changes colour.)

128VERRINA (resolutely to the Watch at the gate). Soldiers, extend your halberds. I shall not die at the hands of the hangman. (The Noblemen rush about in consternation.)

129FIESCO (more resolute). Where are you going? What are you doing?--The devil take you, Calcagno. --It was a false alarm, gentlemen. --Hysterical woman! To say such a thing before these schoolboys. --You, too, Verrina?--Bourgognino, you, too?--Where are you going?

130BOURGOGNINO (brutal). Home! To murder my Berta and then come back here.

131FIESCO (bursts out laughing). Stay! Stop! Is that the courage of tyrannicides?--Masterful acting, Calcagno. --Did nobody notice that this news was of my making?--Calcagno, speak. Wasn’t it my order to put these Romans to the test?

132VERRINA. Well, if you can laugh?--I’ll credit it, or never think you human again.

133FIESCO. Shame on you men. To fail a schoolboy’s test. --Pick up your weapons. --You’ll have to fight like bears to make good this loss of nerve. (Softly to Calcagno.) Were you yourself present?

134CALCAGNO. I pushed my way through the bodyguards to get the password from the Duke, as ordered. --I’m about to leave when they bring in the Moor.

135FIESCO (aloud). So the old man has gone to bed? We’ll flush him out of there. (Softly.) Did he have a long conversation with the Duke?

136CALCAGNO. I was so startled and you in such danger that I hardly stayed two minutes.

137FIESCO (loud and cheerful). Look how our countrymen still quake.

138CALCAGNO. They shouldn’t have gone to pieces so easily. (Softly.) But for God’s sake, Count! What’s the good of all these lies?

139FIESCO. Time, friend, until the first shock has passed. (Aloud.) Hey! Bring us wine. (Softly.) Did you see the Duke turn pale? (Aloud.) Chin up, brothers! We want to toast the evening’s dancing! (Softly.) Did you see the Duke turn pale?

140CALCAGNO. The Moor’s first word must have been conspiracy. The old man started back, white as a sheet.

141FIESCO (bewildered). Hm! Hm! He’s a sly devil, Calcagno. He betrayed nothing until they had the knife against their throats. Now he’s their darling. The Moor is sly. (A Servant brings a cup of wine; he holds it up to the Company and drinks.) To our good fortune, comrades! (Knocking at the gate.)

142SENTRIES. Who’s there?

143A VOICE. Orderlies of the Duke. (The Noblemen rush around the courtyard in despair.)

144FIESCO (intervening). No, friends, no! Don’t be frightened! Don’t be frightened! I am here. Quick! Get rid of these weapons. Be men, I beg you. This visit gives me hope that Andrea still has doubts. Go inside. Compose yourselves. --Open, soldiers. (All withdraw; the gate is opened.)

Scene 8

145Fiesco, as if coming from the palace. Three Germans, who bring in the Moor, bound.

146FIESCO. Who called me into the courtyard?

147GERMAN. Bring us to the Count.

148FIESCO. The Count is here. Who asks for me?

149GERMAN (performs honours). The Duke wishes you good evening. He sends Your Honour this Moor, bound, who, he bids me report, has prattled shamefully. His note will tell you the rest.

150FIESCO (takes the Moor with indifference). And didn’t I promise you the galleys this very day? (To the German.) Very good, friend. My respects to the Duke.

151MOOR (calls after them). Respects from me, too. And tell him--the Duke--if he hadn’t sent a jackass, he would have found out that two thousand soldiers have been tucked into that palace. (The Germans leave. The Noblemen return.)

Scene 9

152Fiesco, Conspirators. The Moor defiantly in their midst.

153CONSPIRATORS (starting back fearfully at the sight of the Moor). Ha! What is this?

154FIESCO (has read the note; with suppressed rage). Men of Genoa! The danger has passed. --And so has the conspiracy.

155VERRINA (calls out, astonished). What? Are the Dorias dead?

156FIESCO (much aroused). By God! The whole military might of the Republic-- that I was prepared for. But not for this. In four lines that feeble old man defeats fifteen hundred men. (Drops his arms.) Doria defeats Fiesco.

157BOURGOGNINO. Explain, would you? We’re rooted to the spot.

158FIESCO (reads). “Lavagna, it seems you have quite a fate with me: You reap thanklessness for your good deeds. This Moor warns me of a plot. --I return him to you, bound, and shall sleep tonight without bodyguard.” (He lets the note fall. They all look at one another.)

159VERRINA. Well, Fiesco?

160FIESCO (nobly). A Doria should exceed me in magnanimity? There should be one virtue lacking in the pedigree of the Fieschi?--No! As sure as I am who I am!--Disperse, gentlemen. I shall go to him--and confess all. (About to hurry out.)

161VERRINA (stops him). Are you out of your mind, you? Was it some kind of schoolboy’s prank that we were planning? Stop! Or wasn’t it the cause of our fatherland? Stop! Or was it only Andrea you wanted to attack, and not the tyrant? Stop, I say. --I arrest you as a traitor to the State--

162CONSPIRATORS. Tie him up! Throw him to the ground!

163FIESCO (snatches a sword from someone and opens a path for himself). Easy, now. Who’ll be the first to throw a halter over the tiger?--Do you see, gentlemen?--I am free. --I could make my way through you if I wanted to. --But now I will stay; I’ve changed my mind.

164BOURGOGNINO. Put your mind on your duty?

165FIESCO (angered, proudly). Ho, my boy. You mind the duty that you owe me first, and watch your tongue. --At ease, gentlemen. --Nothing has changed. (To the Moor, whose restraints he cuts.) It is your desert to have occasioned a great deed. --Now flee!

166CALCAGNO (angry). What? What? This heathen has betrayed all of us and yet lives?

167FIESCO. Has frightened all of you and yet lives. Be gone, fellow! See to it that you put Genoa at your back, or they might use you to redeem their courage.

168MOOR. So, the Devil never fails a rogue! Your servant, sirs. --I notice that my noose won’t grow in Italy. I’ll have to look for it elsewhere. (Exit, laughing.)

Scene 10

169A Servant enters. As above, without the Moor.

170SERVANT. The Countess Imperiali has asked for Your Honour three times.

171FIESCO. I say! The play is going to have to start! Tell her I will be there immediately. --Stay!--You will ask my wife to come into the concert hall and to wait for me there behind the tapestries. (Exit Servant.) I’ve written out all your roles, how each one is to accomplish his, so there’s nothing more to say. --Verrina will go ahead of us to the harbour. When he has captured the ships, he’ll give the signal for breaking out with cannon. --I must go. I’m called away by a matter of importance. You will hear a bell and all come into my concert hall together. --Meanwhile, go in--and enjoy my Cyprian wine.

172(They disperse.)

Scene 11

173Concert hall. Leonora. Arabella. Rosa. All anxious.

174LEONORA. Fiesco promised to come into the concert hall, and yet he doesn’t come. It’s after eleven. The palace rumbles dreadfully with weapons and men, and no Fiesco?

175ROSA. You’re to conceal yourself behind the tapestries. --What our Master could mean by that?

176LEONORA. He wishes it, Rosa, and that is enough to command my obedience. Enough, Bella, not to be at all afraid. --But still, still I tremble so, Bella, and my heart pounds so fearfully. In God’s name, girls, don’t either of you leave my side.

177BELLA. Don’t be afraid of anything. Our anxiety has checked our impertinence.

178LEONORA. Wherever I look, I meet strange faces, hollow and distorted like ghosts. Whoever I call to trembles like someone seized and flees into the deepest darkness, this horrible hostel of bad conscience. For answer I get a fleeting, inaudible sound that hesitates still on a quivering tongue, whether it dare slip clean away. --Fiesco?--I don’t know what dreadful business is brewing here--(Folding her hands gracefully.) Guard my Fiesco, Heavenly Host.

179ROSE (starting). Jesus! What’s that noise in the gallery?

180BELLA. It’s the soldier on guard there. (The Sentry outside the door calls, “Who goes there?” There is an answer.)

181LEONORA. People are coming. Behind the tapestry! Quick! (They conceal themselves.)

Scene 12

182Julia, Fiesco, in conversation.

183JULIA (very stirred up). No more, Count. Your gallantries no longer fall on deaf ears but into my seething blood. --Where am I? There’s no one here but the seductive night. Where have you led my desolated heart with your chatter?

184FIESCO. Where balked passion becomes more bold, and transport speaks more freely to transport.

185JULIA. Stop here, Fiesco. By all that is sacred, no farther. If this darkness were not so deep, you would see my flaming cheeks and relent.

186FIESCO. Quite wrong, Julia. Then precisely my feeling would sense the fiery banner of your own and overflow with greater courage. (He kisses her hand fervently.)

187JULIA. Why, your face burns as feverishly as your words. Alas, from my own--I feel it--a wild, wanton fire flames out. Let’s go back to the light, I beg you. Our agitated senses could heed the dangerous call of these shadows. Oh, go. Those seething rebels could exercise their godless arts behind the back of blushing day. Return to the company, I entreat you!

188FIESCO (more pressing). How concerned you are, and without cause, my dear! Is the mistress ever to be in fear her slave?

189JULIA. Oh, you men and your eternal contradiction! As if you weren’t the most dangerous of victors just when you surrender to our amour propre. Shall I confess all, Fiesco? That only my vice preserved my virtue? Only my pride mocked your arts? That my principles held only to this point? You despair of your devices and have recourse to Julia’s blood. And here those principles desert me.

190FIESCO (frivolously bold). And what did you lose by this loss?

191JULIA (excited and heatedly). If I should squander the key to my woman’s sanctuary on you, so that you can make me scarlet with shame, if you like? Have I less to lose then everything? Do you want to know more, you scoffer? Do you want me to confess that all the secret wisdom of our sex is only a wretched defence to relieve our mortal side, which in the end is only going to be besieged by your oaths; which (I confess it with shame) so much wants to be conquered, so often receives the enemy traitorously at the first inattentiveness of virtue? That all our womanly arts do battle solely for this defenceless prize, just as on the chessboard all the knights cover the defenceless king? If you take him by surprise--checkmate! And you can safely toss the whole board over. (After a pause, earnestly.) You now have the picture of our resplendent poverty. --Be magnanimous.

192FIESCO. And yet, Julia--where better to put down this treasure than in my endless passion?

193JULIA. Nowhere better and nowhere worse, surely. --Tell me, Fiesco, how long will this endlessness last?--Oh, I have already played too unluckily not to wager all I have left. --Fiesco, I was bold enough to believe my charms would catch you, but I doubt they have the omnipotence to hold you. --Horrors! What am I saying? (She steps back and covers her face with her hands.)

194FIESCO. Two sins in one breath. Mistrust of my taste or lèse-majesté of your own lovableness?--Which of the two is harder to forgive?

195JULIA (languid, surrendering, affecting). Lies are but the weapons of Hell. --Fiesco no longer needs them to fell his Julia. (She sinks exhausted onto a sofa; after a pause, solemnly.) One little word, Fiesco--Hear me: We are heroines when we know our virtue still safe; when we defend it, children; (staring at him fixedly, wildly) and furies when we avenge it. --Ah, Fiesco, what if you should strangle me cold?

196FIESCO (assuming an angry tone). Cold? Cold?--By God, what the unappeasable vanity of woman doesn’t demand, when she sees a man grovel before her and still has doubts! Ha! He’s waking up again, I feel it. (Changes to a cold tone.) My eyes have been opened in good time. --What was it I was just begging for? On the highest favour of a woman the least humiliation of a man is wholly thrown away! (To her, with a deep, frosty bow.) Take courage, Madame. You are now entirely safe.

197JULIA (startled). Count? What’s come over you?

198FIESCO (wholly indifferent). No, Madame. You’re quite right, we two see our honour in play only once. (Kisses her hand politely.) It is my pleasure to show you my respects before the company. (About to leave quickly.)

199JULIA (after him, pulls him back). Stay! Are you mad? Stay! Must I say--confess--what the whole male tribe, on its knees--in tears--on the rack, would never have wrung from my pride?--Alas! Even this deep darkness is too bright to conceal the burning fire that this confession lays upon my cheeks. --Fiesco--oh, I pierce the heart of all my sex--all my sex will hate me forever--Fiesco, I adore you. (She falls down before him.)

200FIESCO (retreats three steps, lets her lie, and laughs triumphantly). I regret that, Signora. (He pulls the bell, raises the tapestry, and leads out Leonora.) Here is my wife--a god-like woman. (He embraces Leonora.)

201JULIA (leaps up, crying). Oh! Outrageously deceived!

Scene 13

202The Conspirators, who enter together. Ladies from the opposite side. Fiesco. Leonora and Julia.

203LEONORA. My husband, that was far too severe.

204FIESCO. A wicked heart deserved no less. I owed your tears this satisfaction. (To the Company.) No, ladies and gentlemen, it is not my habit to burst into flames at every provocation, like a child. The idiocies of men amuse me long before they begin to irritate me. But this creature deserves all my anger, for she has prepared this powder for this angel. (He shows the poison to the Company, who draw back in horror.)

205JULIA (swallowing her rage). Good! Good! Very good, my Lord. (Moves to leave.)

206FIESCO (conducts her back again). Patience, please, Madame. We are not yet done--This company is all too eager to know why I could so gainsay my good sense as to enact a mad romance with Genoa’s greatest fool--

207JULIA (leaping up). Insupportable! Tremble, you. (Threatening.) Doria thunders in Genoa, and I--am his sister.

208FIESCO. A great pity, if this is your last burst of gall. --I regret to inform you that Fiesco di Lavagna has turned the stolen diadem of His Grace your brother into a rope with which he is disposed to string up that thief of the Republic tonight. (She blanches, and he laughs maliciously.) Hoo! That was unexpected--And, you see (more biting as he continues), that’s why I found it necessary to give the importuning eyes of your household something to amuse them, that’s why I decked myself out (pointing at her) in this Harlequin’s passion, that’s why (indicating Leonora) I abandoned this jewel. And, happily, my quarry ran straight into my spread nets. --I thank you for your kindness, Signora, and return my costume jewellery. (He returns her silhouette to her with a bow.)

209LEONORA (folds herself into his arms, pleading). My Ludovico, she’s weeping. May your Leonora beg you, trembling?

210JULIA (haughtily, to Leonora). Quiet, you hateful--

211FIESCO (to a Servant). Be so gallant, friend--Offer this lady your arm. She wishes to visit my state prison. You shall ensure that no one inconvenience Madonna. --There’s a high wind outside. --The storm that splits the family tree of Doria tonight might--spoil her coiffure.

212JULIA (sobbing). A pox upon you, you treacherous black deceiver. (To Leonora, fiercely.) You’ve not triumphed. He’ll destroy you, too, and himself--and despair. (Rushes out.)

213FIESCO (signals his Guests). You are my witnesses--Restore my honour in Genoa! (To the Conspirators.) You will come for me when the cannon sounds. (All withdraw.)

Scene 14

214Leonora. Fiesco.

215LEONORA (approaches him anxiously). Fiesco?--Fiesco?--I only half understand you, but I begin to tremble.

216FIESCO (significantly). Leonora--I once saw you pass to the left side of a Genoese lady--In the assemblies of the nobles, I saw you content yourself with the knights’kissing your hand second. Leonora--that offended my eyes. And I decided this shall be no more--it shall end. Do you hear the war-like rumblings in my palace? What you fear is true. --Go to bed, Countess. --Tomorrow I shall wake--the Duchess.

217LEONORA (clasps herself about the shoulders and throws herself into a chair). Oh, my prophetic soul! I am lost!

  • 59 the Triple Crown: The Papal Crown or Tiara; Fiesco is referring to his ancestors Pope Innocence III (...)

218FIESCO (firmly, with dignity). Let me finish, my love. Two of my ancestors wore the Triple Crown;59 the blood of the Fieschi runs warm only under the Purple. Is your husband to reflect only inherited glory? (More vivid.) What? Is he to attribute all his stature to fickle Fortune, which, in a moment of tolerable good humour, patched together a Gian Luigi Fiesco out of mouldering deserts? No, Leonora. I am too proud to accept as a gift what I can earn myself. Tonight I shall toss all this borrowed ornament back into the grave of my ancestors. --The Counts of Lavagna have died out. --Princes now begin.

219LEONORA (shakes her head, lost in fantasy). I see my husband fall to the ground, mortally wounded--(Her voice more hollow.) I see silent bearers bringing my husband’s broken body toward me. (Leaps up, startled.) The first--the only ball flies through Fiesco’s soul.

220FIESCO (takes her hand lovingly). Calm yourself, my child. This single ball will do no such thing.

221LEONORA (regards him earnestly). Fiesco tempts Heaven so confidently? And if it were the thousandth thousandth chance, it could still come true, and my husband would be lost. --Imagine you were wagering for Heaven, Fiesco. Even if there were a billion wins against one single miss, would you be bold enough to shake the dice and take up that impudent bet with God? No, my husband! When everything is at stake, every roll is blasphemy.

222FIESCO (smiling). Do not worry. I’m on better terms with luck.

223LEONORA. Do you say that--and were present at that mind-distorting game--what you call amusement--and watched faithless Fortune, how she lured her favourite with lucky little cards until he was warmed up, got to his feet, and bet the bank--and deserted him then in the throw of desperation. --My husband, you shall not go out to show yourself to the Genoese and be adulated. To rouse Republicans from their slumber, remind the steed that he has hooves, is no stroll in the park, Fiesco. Do not trust these rebels. The smart ones, who goaded you on, fear you; the stupid ones, who idolized you, are of little use to you, and wherever I look, Fiesco is lost.

224FIESCO (pacing with long strides). Pusillanimity is the foremost danger. Greatness, too, exacts a price.

225LEONORA. Greatness, Fiesco?--That your genius should be so ill-disposed toward my heart!--Let us say I trust your luck, that is, you prevail. --So much the worse for me, the most pitiful of my sex! Unhappy if it miscarries, unhappier still if it succeeds! There is no choice here, beloved. When he fails of the dukedom, Fiesco is lost. My husband is lost, when I embrace the Duke.

226FIESCO. I don’t understand.

227LEONORA. You do, my Fiesco. At the stormy latitude of the throne the tender shoot of love dries up. The human heart, even Fiesco’s, is too narrow for two almighty godsgods who dislike each other so. Love has tears and can understand tears; imperiousness has eyes of brass, where no feeling pools. --Love has but one good, renounces all the rest of creation; imperiousness is ravenous even as it plunders all Nature. --Imperiousness hacks the world into a clanking house of chains; love, dreaming, finds its Elysium in every desert. --If you wanted to cradle yourself on my bosom now, an unruly vassal would come knocking at your kingdom. --If I wanted to throw myself into your arms now, your despot’s fear would hear a murderer shuffling out from behind the tapestries and send you fleeing from room to room. Indeed, suspicion, all eyes, would infect our very household harmony in the end. --If your Leonora should now bring you refreshment, you would push away the goblet, shuddering, and scold loving tenderness for a mixer of potions.

228FIESCO (stands still, horrified). Leonora, stop. This is hateful imagining--

229LEONORA. But the picture isn’t finished yet. I would say, sacrifice love to greatness, sacrifice peace and quiet--if only Fiesco remains. --God! That’s the breaking point!--Rarely have angels ascended a throne, even more rarely have they descended from it again. One who need fear no man, will he take pity on any man? One who can arm every wish with a thunderbolt, will he deign to accompany it with a kind word? (She pauses, then approaches him shyly and takes his hand; with exquisite bitterness.) Princes, Fiesco? Those botched projects of Nature, who will, but cannot?--So pleased to seat themselves between the Human and the Divine: god-forsaken creatures, even worse creators.

230FIESCO (rushes about the room in agitation). Leonora, stop. I’ve burnt my bridges--

231LEONORA (looks at him with longing). How so, my husband? Only deeds are indelible. (With melting tenderness and a bit roguish.) I once heard you swear my beauty had brought down all your plans. --You swore falsely, you deceiver, or my beauty faded early. --Ask your heart who the guilty party is. (More urgently, embracing him with both arms.) Come back! Be a man! Give it up! Love will compensate you. Can my heart not still your monstrous hunger?--Oh, Fiesco, the diadem will be poorer still--(Coaxing.) Come! I will learn all your desires by heart, will melt all the enchantments of Nature together into a single loving kiss, to hold this exalted fugitive forever in these heavenly bonds. --Your heart is endless. --Love is, too, Fiesco. (Melting.) To make a poor creature happy--a creature that finds its heaven on your bosom: ought that to leave an empty place in your heart?

232FIESCO (deeply shaken). Leonora, what have you done? (He falls helplessly into her arms.) I will not come into the presence of another Genoese--

233LEONORA (in joyful haste). Let us flee, Fiesco--Let us toss away all this gaudy nothingness. Let us live only for love in meadows of romance. (She presses him to her, enchanted.) Our souls, as clear as the fair blue sky above us, will then no longer be tainted by the black breath of sorrow. --Our life will then flow melodically like a babbling spring toward the Creator--(The cannon sounds. Fiesco springs away. All the Conspirators enter the hall.)

Scene 15

234CONSPIRATORS. The time has come!

  • 60 Genoa lies at your feet: Verbatim from Robertson’s history.

235FIESCO (to Leonora, firmly). Farewell! Forever--or tomorrow Genoa lies at your feet.60 (About to rush out.)

236BOURGOGNINO (cries). The Countess is collapsing. (Leonora in a faint. All rush to support her. Fiesco on his knees before her.)

237FIESCO (very urgently). Leonora! Help! For God’s sake! Help! (Rosa, Bella come to bring her around.) She’s opening her eyes--(He leaps up, resolute.) Then come--to close Doria’s. (The Conspirators rush from the hall.)

238(Curtain.)

Notes

56 fools on the banks of Acheron: Those sitting on the banks of the Acheron, one of the rivers leading to the Greek underworld, waiting to be ferried across by Charon.

57 Sebastiano Lescaro: A person so-named (or Lercaro) appears in Schiller’s sources as an accomplice of Gianettino Doria.

58 flesh made of cast iron: Homer, Iliad, IV, 510.

59 the Triple Crown: The Papal Crown or Tiara; Fiesco is referring to his ancestors Pope Innocence III (1443-54) and Pope Adrian V (1276).

60 Genoa lies at your feet: Verbatim from Robertson’s history.

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