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Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa

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Friedrich Schiller

The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Act Five

Texte intégral

1After midnight. Broad street in Genoa. Lamps burn here and there at a few houses, then go out one by one. In the background, the St. Thomas Gate, still closed. In the distance, the sea. A few figures cross the square, carrying closed lanterns; then the Watch and a Patrol. Everything is quiet. Only the sea laps somewhat noisily.

Scene 1

2Fiesco enters, armed, and stops before the palace of Andrea Doria; then Andrea.

3FIESCO. The old man has kept his word. --All lights out in the palace. The guard is gone. I’ll ring. (Rings.) Hey! Holla! Wake up, Doria! Betrayed, sold-out Doria, wake up! Holla! Holla! Holla! Wake up.

4ANDREA (appears on the terrace). Who pulled the bell?

5FIESCO (his voice altered). Don’t ask. Obey. Your star is setting, Duke. Genoa is rising against you. Your hangmen are at hand, and you can sleep, Andrea?

6ANDREA (with dignity). I remember how the angry sea quarrelled with my Bellona,

  • 61 Bellona: The ship on which Andrea Doria commanded several expeditions as imperial admiral.

761 so that the keel groaned and the topmost mast broke--and Andrea Doria slept soundly. Who is sending these hangmen?

8FIESCO. A man more terrible than your raging sea. Gian Luigi Fiesco.

9ANDREA (laughs). You’re in fine humour, friend. Bring us your little comedies by day; midnight is an unaccustomed hour.

10FIESCO. You’re making fun of the man who warns you?

11ANDREA. I thank him and return to bed. Fiesco has revelled himself drowsy and has no time to spare for Doria.

12FIESCO. Unhappy old man--Don’t trust the snake. Seven colours tangle on its glistening back--you approach--and suddenly the deadly coil has snared you. You laughed off a hint by a traitor. Do not laugh off the counsel of a friend. A horse is standing saddled in your courtyard. Flee while there’s still time. Don’t laugh off a friend.

13ANDREA. Fiesco thinks nobly. I have never offended him, and he will not betray me.

14FIESCO. Thinks nobly, will betray you, and has given you examples of both.

15ANDREA. Then there’s the bodyguard, which no Fiesco can overcome, unless cherubim serve under him.

16FIESCO (dismissive). I’d like to have a word with them, to post a letter into Eternity.

17ANDREA (grandly). You poor scoffer! Have you never heard that Andrea Doria is eighty years old and Genoa--happy? (He leaves the terrace.)

18FIESCO (looking after him in admiration). Did I have to overthrow this man before I learn that it is harder yet to equal him? (He walks up and down, reflecting.) Well! I have matched greatness against greatness. --We are quit, Andrea. And now, destruction, take your course.

19(He rushes into the farthest lane. Drums sound on all sides. Sharp skirmish at the St. Thomas Gate. The gate is sprung and opens the prospect onto the harbour, where ships lie at anchor, lit by torches.)

Scene 2

20Gianettino Doria, wrapped in a scarlet cloak. Lomellino. Preceded by Servants carrying torches. All in haste.

21GIANETTINO (comes to a halt). Who ordered the alarm sounded?

22LOMELLINO. A cannon boomed on the galleys.

23GIANETTINO. The slaves will be breaking their chains. (Shots at the St. Thomas Gate.)

24LOMELLINO. Firing there.

25GIANETTINO. The gate open. The guard in uproar. (To the Servants.) Quick, rascals. Light the way to the harbour. (They hurry toward the gate.)

Scene 3

26As above. Bourgognino with Conspirators coming from the St. Thomas Gate.

27BOURGOGNINO. Sebastiano Lescaro is a gallant soldier.

28CENTURIONE. Defended himself like a bear until he fell.

29GIANETTINO (steps back, aghast). What was that?--Halt!

30BOURGOGNINO. Who goes there with the torch?

31LOMELLINO. Enemies, Prince. Slip away here to the left.

32BOURGOGNINO (challenges heatedly). Who goes there with the torch?

33CENTURIONE. Stop! The password!

34GIANETTINO (draws defiantly). Submission and Doria.

35BOURGOGNINO (furious and terrible). Ravisher of the Republic and of my bride! (To the Conspirators as he leaps upon Gianettino.) Spared us an armed exchange, brothers. His very devils deliver him to us. (He runs him through.)

36GIANETTINO (falls bellowing). Murder! Murder! Murder! Avenge me, Lomellino.

37LOMELLINO, SERVANTS (fleeing). Help! Murderers! Murderers!

38CENTURIONE (calls with a strong voice). He’s hit. Stop the Count. (Lomellino is captured.)

39LOMELLINO (kneeling). Spare my life--I’ll come over to you!

40BOURGOGNINO. Is this monster still alive? Let the coward run. (Lomellino escapes.)

41CENTURIONE. The St. Thomas Gate ours! Gianettino cold! Run as fast as you can. Report it to Fiesco!

42GIANETTINO (raises himself in paroxysm). The pox! Fiesco. (Dies.)

43BOURGOGNINO (pulls the sword from the corpse). Genoa free and my Berta--Your sword, Centurione, and bring this bloody one to my bride. Her prison has been sprung. I will come after and give her the bridegroom’s kiss. (They rush away to different sides.)

Scene 4

44Andrea Doria. German Soldiers.

45GERMAN. The storm has moved off that way. Throw yourself in the saddle, Duke.

46ANDREA. Let me look once more on Genoa’s towers and the heavens. No, this is no dream, and Andrea is betrayed.

47GERMAN. Enemies on all sides. Away! You can curse them when you’re over the frontier!

48ANDREA (throws himself on his nephew’s corpse). Here is where I want to end. Let no one speak of flight. Here lies the strength of my old age. My journey is over. (Calcagno appears in the distance with Conspirators.)

49GERMAN. Murderers there! Murderers! Flee, old Prince.

50ANDREA (as the drums begin again). Hear that, Germans! Hear that! That’s the Genoese, whose yoke I broke. (Covers his face.) Is that the thanks they show in your country, too?

51GERMAN. Away! Away! Away! While our German bones put notches in their blades. (Calcagno closer.)

52ANDREA. Save yourselves! Leave me here! Shock the nations with your hideous news: The Genoese struck down their father--

53GERMAN. Murder! It’ll be a while before the slaughtering starts. --Comrades, stand! Take the Duke into your midst. (They draw.) Whip some respect for a grey head into these Latin dogs-

54CALCAGNO (challenges). Who goes there? What’s going on?

55GERMANS (clashing). German swords! (They go off fighting. Gianettino’s corpse is carried off.)

Scene 5

56Leonora in men’s clothing. Arabella following her. Both creep out anxiously.

57ARABELLA. Come, my Lady. Oh, do come--

58LEONORA. The uproar’s raging off in that direction. --Hark! Wasn’t that a death cry?--Alas! They’re closing on him. --Their gaping barrels point at Fiesco’s heart. --At mine, Bella. --They let fire. --Halt! Halt! That’s my husband. (She throws up her arms, transported.)

59ARABELLA. For the love of God--

60LEONORA (still fantasizing wildly, crying in all directions). Fiesco!--Fiesco!--Fiesco!--They’re falling away in his rear, his loyalists. --Rebel loyalty is inconstant. (Loudly, startled.) My husband leading rebels? Bella? Heavens! My Fiesco fighting as a rebel?

61ARABELLA. Oh, no, Signora, but as Genoa’s terrible arbiter.

62LEONORA (attentively). Now that would be something. --And Leonora trembled? The First Republican embraced by the most cowardly of republican women?--Go, Arabella. --When men match themselves for whole nations, women, too, take heart. (The drums begin again.) I’ll join the fighters.

63ARABELLA (with despairing handclap). Merciful heaven!

64LEONORA. Wait! What have I stumbled on? Here’s a hat and a cloak. And a sword, too. (She weighs it.) A heavy sword, my Bella, but surely I can drag it, and a sword does not disgrace its bearer. (Storm is sounded.)

65ARABELLA. Do you hear? Do you hear? That’s wailing from the Dominicans’tower. God have mercy! How frightful!

66LEONORA (fantasizing). No, how delightful! In this storm signal my Fiesco is speaking to Genoa. (Drums become louder.) Hurrah! Hurrah! Flutes never sounded so sweet. --My Fiesco speaks also in these drums. --How my heart beats higher! All Genoa awakes. --Mercenaries spring to his banner, and his wife should be faint-hearted? (Storm sounds on three other towers.) Oh, no. A heroine will embrace my hero. --My Brutus is to embrace a Roman woman. (She dons the hat and throws the mantle around her.) I am Portia.

67ARABELLA. My Gracious Lady, you don’t know how dreadfully you are raving. No, you do not know. (Storm bells and drums.)

68LEONORA. Poor soul, to hear all that and not rave! These stones could weep that they have no legs to leap to my Fiesco’s side. --These palaces are angry at their masters, who planted them so firmly in the ground that they cannot spring to my Fiesco’s side. --The embankment, if it could, would lay down its duty, abandon Genoa to the sea, and go to dance behind his drum. --Something that shakes Death from its winding sheet cannot raise your spirits? Go!--I will find my way.

69ARABELLA. Dear God! You’re not going to try to realize this madness?

  • 62 I, too, have a wound: Cf. Portia in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 2. Leonore continues (...)

70LEONORA (proud and heroic). I should think so, you silly--(Fiery.) When the uproar rages wildest, where my Fiesco fights in person--Is that Lavagna, I hear them ask--whom no one can overcome, who throws iron dice for the prize of Genoa, is that Lavagna?--Genoese, I shall say, it is, and this man is my husband, and I, too, have a wound.62

71(Sacco enters with Conspirators.)

72SACCO (challenges). Who goes there? Doria or Fiesco?

73LEONORA (exalted). Fiesco and Freedom! (She throws herself into a lane. A throng surges over the scene. Bella is crowded back.)

Scene 6

74Sacco with a Pack of fighting men. Calcagno meets him with another Pack.

75CALCAGNO. Andrea Doria has fled.

76SACCO. That won’t recommend you to Fiesco.

77CALCAGNO. Like bears, those Germans. They planted themselves in front of the old man like a blank wall. I never even caught sight of him. Nine of ours are down. I took a glancing blow on the left earlobe. If they’ll do that for foreign tyrants, what the devil won’t they do to protect their own princes?

78SACCO. We’ve collected a huge following and taken all the gates.

79CALCAGNO. I hear there’s heavy fighting around the Citadel.

80SACCO. Bourgognino is among them. What’s Verrina doing?

81CALCAGNO. Lying between Genoa and the sea like the Hound of Hell, so that hardly an anchovy can get through.

82SACCO. I’ll start a storm beyond the walls.

  • 63 Piazza Sarzano: One of the principle piazzas in the centre of Genoa.

83CALCAGNO. I’ll march over the Piazza Sarzano.63 Get a move on, drummer. (They march on to drums.)

Scene 7

84The Moor. A band of Thieves with fuses.

85MOOR. So that you know, rascals. I’m the one who thickened this soup. --And then they won’t give me a spoon. Well and good. A hunt suits me just fine. We’ll give them a round of fire and plunder. Over there they’re throwing punches for a dukedom; we’re going to stoke the churches so that the freezing apostles can warm up again. (They break into the adjacent houses.)

Scene 8

86Bourgognino. Berta disguised.

87BOURGOGNINO. Rest here, little one. You’re out of danger. Are you bleeding?

88BERTA (her speech altered). No, not at all.

89BOURGOGNINO (vividly). Fie! Then get up. I want to bring you where they’re taking wounds for Genoa. --Fine ones, don’t you see, like this one. (He pushes back a sleeve.)

90BERTA (starting back). Heavens!

91BOURGOGNINO. You’re horrified? You little thing, you’ve rushed into manhood too early. --How old are you?

92BERTA. Fifteen.

93BOURGOGNINO. Not good. Five years too tender for a night like this. --Your father?

94BERTA. The best citizen in Genoa.

95BOURGOGNINO. Not so fast, boy. There’s only one, and his daughter is my betrothed bride. Do you know the house of Verrina?

96BERTA. I should think so.

97BOURGOGNINO (quickly). And do you know his divine daughter?

98BERTA. Berta is her name.

99BOURGOGNINO (urgently). Go straight there and bring her this ring. Tell her it’s for a wedding ring, and the man with the blue plume is doing fine. Farewell, then. I’m headed that way. The danger hasn’t passed yet. (Several houses are burning.)

100BERTA (calls after him in a soft voice). Scipio!

101BOURGOGNINO (stands still, surprised). Oh, my sword! I know that voice--

102BERTA (falls into his arms). Oh, my heart! You know it very well.

103BOURGOGNINO (cries). Berta! (Storm is sounded beyond the walls. A throng. They lose themselves in an embrace.)

Scene 9

104Fiesco enters in hot temper. Cibo. Followers.

105FIESCO. Who set these fires?

106CIBO. The Citadel is taken.

107FIESCO. Who set these fires?

108CIBO (signals his followers). Patrols after the offender! (A few go off.)

109FIESCO (angrily). Do they want to make me out to be an arsonist? Buckets and spray right away! (Followers go off.) And Gianettino has been taken?

110CIBO. That’s what they say.

111FIESCO (wild). They say? Who only says that? Cibo, by your honour, has he escaped?

112CIBO (hesitating). If I can set the witness of my eyes against the witness of a nobleman, Gianettino lives.

113FIESCO (explosive). You’re talking your head into a noose, Cibo!

114CIBO. To repeat--I saw him alive eight minutes ago, a yellow crest and scarlet cloak.

115FIESCO (beside himself). By all the gods!--Cibo!--I’m going to have Bourgognino shortened by a head. --Run, Cibo. --They’re to bar every city gate--shoot every felucca to bits--block his escape by sea. --This diamond, Cibo, the finest in Genoa, Lucca, Venice, and Pisa. --The one who brings the news, Gianettino is dead--he shall have this diamond. (Cibo rushes off.) Run, Cibo.

Scene 10

116Fiesco. Sacco. The Moor. Soldiers.

117SACCO. We caught the Moor throwing a burning fuse into the Jesuit Cathedral--

118FIESCO. I let your perfidy pass because it was aimed at me. Arson gets the rope. Take him away. String him up at the church door.

119MOOR. Foo! Foo! Foo! I find that inconvenient. --Can’t we arrange a little commutation?

120FIESCO. None.

121MOOR (confidentially). Then try sending me to the galleys.

122FIESCO (signals the others). To the gallows.

123MOOR (resisting). I’ll turn Christian.

124FIESCO. The Church declines your heathen pox.

125MOOR (wheedling). Then at least send me soaked into Eternity.

126FIESCO. Sober.

127MOOR. But don’t hang me on any Christian church.

128FIESCO. A knight keeps his word. I promised you your own gallows.

129SACCO (growls). No more dawdling, you heathen. We have other things to do.

130MOOR. But--suppose the cord snaps?

131FIESCO (to Sacco). We’ll double it.

132MOOR (resigned). So be it. --And the Devil can equip himself for a special case. (Off, with Soldiers, who hang him in the distance.)

Scene 11

133Fiesco. Leonora enters at the back in Gianettino’s scarlet cloak.

134FIESCO (becomes aware of her, moves forward, moves back, and murmurs grimly). Don’t I know that crest and cloak? (Hurries closer, excited.) I know that crest and cloak! (Furious. Falls upon her and strikes her down.) If you have three lives, stand up again and walk. (Leonora falls with a broken sound. Victory march. Drums, horns, oboes.)

Scene 12

135Fiesco. Calcagno. Sacco. Centurione. Cibo. Soldiers appear with music and banners.

136FIESCO (meets them in triumph). Genoese--The die is cast. --Here he lies, who ate my soul--and fed my hatred. Raise your swords high!--Gianettino!

137CALCAGNO. And I come to tell you that two-thirds of Genoa have taken your side and pledge allegiance to the banner of the Fieschi--

138CIBO. And by me Verrina sends greetings from the admiral’s ship and mastery of harbour and sea--

139CENTURIONE. And by me the Governor of the city his commandant’s baton and the keys--

  • 64 The Grand and Minor Council of the Republic: Il Consiglio Grande and il Consiglio Minore. See above (...)

140SACCO. And in me (kneels) the Grand and Minor Council of the Republic64 throw themselves at the feet of their master and beg for mercy and forbearance--

141CALCAGNO. Let me be the first to bid the great victor welcome within his walls. --Hail to you--dip the flags--Duke of Genoa!

142ALL (remove their hats). Hail! Hail to the Duke of Genoa! (Military march.)

143FIESCO (has stood the while, his head sunk onto his breast in an attitude of reflection).

144CALCAGNO. The people and the Senate stand waiting to greet their Gracious Lord in princely state. --May Your Grace permit us to bear you in triumph to the Signoria.

145FIESCO. First let me do justice to my heart. --I had to leave a certain cherished person behind in anxious presentiment, one who will share with me the glory of this night. (Moved, to the Company.) Be so good as to accompany me to your amiable Duchess. (About to depart.)

146CALCAGNO. Is this villainous assassin to lie here and dissemble his vileness in a corner?

147CENTURIONE. Mount his head on a halberd!

148CIBO. Let his dismembered rump sweep our cobblestones. (Light is thrown on the corpse.)

149CALCAGNO (shocked, quietly). Look here, Genoese. That, in God’s name, is no face of Gianettino’s. (All stare blankly at the corpse.)

150FIESCO (comes to a stop, throws a searching glance sidelong, then withdraws it slowly, frozen and grimacing). No. The devil--No. That’s no face of Gianettino’s. Oh, you grinning devil! (Rolling his eyes.) Genoa mine, you say? Mine? (A burst of rage, a terrible cry.) Hell’s own deception! It’s my wife. (Sinks to the ground, thunderstruck.)

151(Conspirators stopped dead, gathered in shuddering groups.)

152FIESCO (weakly propped up, muffled voice). Have I murdered my wife, Genoese?--I beg you, don’t cast such ghastly sidelong glances at what Nature’s playing here. God be praised! There are fates no man need fear, because he is but human. One denied the beatitude of the gods will know no devil’s torment. --And this aberration would be yet worse. (With terrible calm.) Thank God, Genoese, this cannot be.

Scene 13

153As above. Arabella enters, wailing.

154ARABELLA. Let them kill me. What more have I to lose?--Have mercy, you men. Here I was separated from my Gracious Lady, and I cannot find her anywhere.

155FIESCO (approaches her; with faint, trembling voice). Your Gracious Lady is called Leonora?

156ARABELLA (pleased). Oh, you’re here, my dear Gracious Master. --Don’t be angry with us; we couldn’t stop her any more.

157FIESCO (with suppressed rage). You wretch! Stop her from what?

158ARABELLA. From running after--

159FIESCO (more violent). Silence! After what?

160ARABELLA. In among the throng--

161FIESCO (furious). And your tongue turn into a crocodile--Her dress?

162ARABELLA. A scarlet cloak--

  • 65 Ninth Circle of Hell: In Dante’s Inferno, the deepest part of Hell for the worst sinners.

163FIESCO (lunging at her). Into the ninth circle of Hell65 with you! The cloak--?

164ARABELLA. Was lying on the ground here--

165A FEW CONSPIRATORS (murmur). Gianettino was murdered here--

166FIESCO (staggers back, dull and exhausted; to Arabella). Your Lady has been found. (Arabella goes off, still fearful. Fiesco sweeps the crowd with a searching glance, then in a soft, hovering voice that rises gradually to frenzy.) True it is. --Too true. --And I am the butt of this unbounded knavery. (Striking out like a cornered animal.) Back off, all you human faces. --Oh, (insolently baring his teeth at the heavens) if only I had His universe between my teeth. --I feel like clawing all of Nature into a snarling beast, making it look like my pain. (To those who stand around him shuddering.) Lord!--How it stands there, this wretched breed, and crosses itself and congratulates itself that it is not like me. --Not like me! (A hollow, trembling diminuendo.) I alone have--(More rapid and wild.) Me? Why me? Why not these, too, along with me? Why should I not be able to dull my pain on the pain of a fellow creature?

167CALCAGNO (fearful). My esteemed Duke--

168FIESCO (bears down on him with cruel pleasure). Oh, welcome! Here, thank God, is one whom this thunderbolt has also flattened! (Embraces Calcagno furiously.) Thunderstruck like me, my brother! Congratulations on your damnation! She is dead! You, too, loved her! (He forces him down on the corpse and presses his head against it.) Despair! She’s dead! (Staring to the side.) Oh, that I stood at the gates of damnation, that my eye could look down shuddering on the manifold torture devices of purposeful Hell, my ear suck in the whimpering of crushed and contrite sinners!--If I could see it, my torment, who knows, would I then perhaps be able to bear it? (Shuddering as he approaches the corpse.) My wife lies here, murdered. --No. That says too little. (With greater emphasis.) I, wretch, have murdered my wife. --Pooh! That won’t raise the pulse of Hell. --First it contrives to whirl me onto the highest, slipperiest, giddiest rooftop of joy, cajoles me onto the very doorstep of Heaven--and then plunges, then--oh, if only my breath could breathe the plague in among souls--then, then, I murder my wife. --No. Its malice is finer yet. --Then (contemptuous) two eyes fail to see, and (with terrible emphasis) I--murder--my wife! (A biting laugh.) That is the masterpiece.

169(All the Conspirators clutch their weapons, moved. Some wipe away tears. Pause.)

170FIESCO (exhausted, more quietly, as he scans the circle). Is anyone sobbing?--Yes, by God, those who throttled a prince weep. (Melting into quiet sorrow.) Speak! Are you weeping over death’s high treason here or are you weeping over my mind’s plunge headlong into unmanliness? (Before the dead woman, grave and affecting.) Where rock-hard murderers melt into warm tears, Fiesco’s despair cursed and swore. (Sinks down upon her, weeping.) Leonora, forgiveness. --Rage won’t bring repentance down from Heaven. (Softly, sorrowfully.) Years in advance, Leonora, I savoured the festive moment when I would bring the Genoese their Duchess. --I saw your cheeks redden with charming modesty; your bosom rise, princely and lovely, under the cloth of silver; heard your soft voice fail becomingly for joy. (More vivid.) Ha! With what intoxication the proud cheering swelled in my ears; how the triumph of my love was reflected in diminishing envy--Leonora--The moment has come. --Your Fiesco is Genoa’s Duke. --And Genoa’s most threadbare beggar would not give up his contempt in return for my torment and my scarlet. (More touching.) A wife shares one’s sorrow. --Who will share my glory? (He weeps harder and hides his face on the corpse. Compassion on all faces.)

171CALCAGNO. A most excellent noblewoman.

172CIBO. Let us keep this bereavement from the people. It would take courage away from our friends and give it to our enemies.

173FIESCO (stands up, composed and firm). Hear me, men of Genoa--Providence, if I understand her gesture, struck this wound to test my heart for coming greatness?--It was the extreme of trials. --I now fear neither torment nor transport. Come. Genoa awaits me, you said?--I will give Genoa a prince such as no European has ever seen. --Come!--I shall give this unhappy princess such a funeral that life will lose its admirers, and decay take on the splendour of a bride. --Follow your Duke. (All go off to a military march.)

Scene 14

174Andrea Doria. Lomellino.

175ANDREA. They’re going off that way with their cheering.

176LOMELLINO. Their luck has gone to their heads. The gates are stripped of defenders. They’re surging off toward the Signoria.

177ANDREA. A horse that bolted only at my nephew. My nephew is dead. Listen, Lomellino--

178LOMELLINO. What? Still? You still hope, Duke?

179ANDREA (gravely). Fear for your life: to call me Duke is to mock me, if I can no longer hope.

180LOMELLINO. My most Gracious Lord--An erupting nation lies in the Fiesco side of the balance. --What lies in yours?

181ANDREA (grand and ardent). Heaven itself.

182LOMELLINO (shrugging dismissively). Now that powder’s been invented, the angels no longer go bivouacking.

183ANDREA. You pitiful ape, to deprive a despairing grey head also of its God. (Grave and commanding.) Go. Make it known that Andrea still lives. --Andrea, you will say, entreats his children not to drive him in his eightieth year out among strangers, who would never forgive him the loss of the flower of his fatherland. Tell them that. And that Andrea entreats of his children so much soil of his fatherland for so many bones.

184LOMELLINO. I will obey, but I have no hope. (About to go.)

185ANDREA. Hear me. Take this ice-grey lock of hair with you. --Say that it was the last one on my head and came loose in the third night of January, when Genoa tore loose from my heart, and had held for eighty years, and left my bald head in its eightieth year. --The lock of hair is brittle, but still strong enough to clasp the Purple of that slender youth. (He goes off, covering his face. Lomellino hurries into a lane opposite. A tumultuous burst of joy, to trumpets and drums.)

Scene 15

186Verrina coming from the harbour. Berta and Bourgognino.

187VERRINA. They’re cheering. For whom?

188BOURGOGNINO. They’re probably proclaiming Fiesco Duke.

189BERTA (presses anxiously against Bourgognino). My father is terrible, Scipio.

190VERRINA. Let me be alone, children. --Oh, Genoa! Genoa!

191BOURGOGNINO. The mob idolizes him and brayed for the Purple. The nobility watched, horrified, and was not in a position to say, No.

  • 66 Marseille: Verrina, Calcagno and Sacco were banished from Genoa and sailed for Marseille.

192VERRINA. My Son, I have sold all my possessions and sent the gold on board your ship. Take your wife and set sail immediately. I may follow. --Or I may not. Make for Marseille66 (oppressed, embracing them hard), and God go with you. (Rapid exit.)

193BERTA. For heaven’s sake! What’s my father contemplating?

194BOURGOGNINO. Did you understand your father?

195BERTA. To flee, oh, God. Flee in the wedding night!

196BOURGOGNINO. That’s what he said. --And we obey.

197(They go toward the harbour.)

Scene 16

198Verrina. Fiesco in ducal regalia. They run into one another.

199FIESCO. Verrina! Excellent. I was just looking for you.

200VERRINA. That was also my errand.

201FIESCO. Does Verrina notice no change in his friend?

202VERRINA (reserved). I wish none.

203FIESCO. But do you find none?

204VERRINA (without looking at him). I hope not. No.

205FIESCO. I ask if you find none?

206VERRINA (after a fleeting glance). I find none.

207FIESCO. Well, you see, then it must be true that power does not make tyrants. Since we parted, I’ve become Genoa’s Duke, and Verrina (presses Verrina to him) finds my embrace as warm as ever.

208VERRINA. The greater the pity that I must return it coldly. The aspect of majesty falls like a whetted knife between me and the Duke! Gian Luigi Fiesco held great estates in my heart. --Now he has conquered Genoa, and I reclaim what is mine.

209FIESCO (startled). God forbid. For a duchy that would be too Jewish a price.

210VERRINA (murmurs darkly). Has freedom fallen so out of fashion that one tosses republics after just anyone?

211FIESCO (compresses his lips). Say that to no one but Fiesco.

212VERRINA. Oh, certainly. Only to an exceptional mind can one speak truth, unpunished. --But what a shame! Our clever card player erred with respect to only one card. He had calculated how envy would play its hand, but, too clever for his own good, failed to take account of the patriots. (Very meaningful.) Has the suppressor of freedom also kept in reserve a marked card to play against the hand of Roman virtue? I swear by the living God: Before posterity digs my bones out of the churchyard of a duchy, it will have to collect them from the wheel.

213FIESCO (takes him mildly by the hand). Even if the Duke is your brother? If he only makes of his principality a treasure house of beneficence, neglected till now in domestic stinginess? Even then, Verrina?

214VERRINA. Even then. --Booty freely given away has helped no thief down from the scaffold. This magnanimity, furthermore, is misaddressed to Verrina. I could let a fellow citizen do good things for me--that I could hope to reciprocate. The gifts of a prince are grace--and God alone is gracious to me.

  • 67 Atlantic: Schiller wrote: ‘Atlantenmeer,’the Atlantic Sea. The figure turns on the unlikelihood of (...)

215FIESCO (annoyed). I’d more likely rip Italy from the Atlantic67 than such obstinacy from its delusion!

  • 68 Jesuit Cathedral: The Chiesa del Gesù e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea, a former Jesuit church near th (...)

216VERRINA. And ripping is not the least of your arts. We could hear of that from the lamb of our Republic, which you have ripped from the gullet of that wolf Doria--only to gobble it up yourself. --But enough. Incidentally, Duke, tell me: What was the crime of that poor devil you had strung up on the Jesuit Cathedral?68

217FIESCO. The rotter was putting Genoa to the torch.

218VERRINA. But that rotter nonetheless spared the laws?

219FIESCO. Verrina is torching my friendship.

220VERRINA. So much for friendship. I tell you, I love you no longer; I swear to you that I hate you--hate you like the snake of Paradise, which made the first false throw in creation, for which the fifth millennium now bleeds. --Listen, Fiesco--I speak to you not as subject to master--not as friend to friend--but as one human being to another. (Sharp and emphatic.) You committed an outrage on the majesty of the one true God when you let virtue lend its hand to your knavery, when you let Genoa’s patriots practice unchastity with Genoa. --Fiesco, if I too had been so benighted as not to notice this swindle, Fiesco! By all fear of Eternity, I would plait a rope of my own entrails and strangle myself, so that my escaping soul would spit gouty scum at you. Princely roguery surely buckles the gold balance that weighs human sin, but you have called out Heaven, and the Last Judgment will preside over your trial. (Fiesco, astonished and speechless, measures him wide-eyed.)

221VERRINA. You needn’t find an answer. We are quit. (He walks up and down, then speaks.) Duke of Genoa, aboard the ships of yesterday’s tyrant I came to know a race of poor creatures who ruminate age-old guilt with every pull of the oars and weep their tears into an ocean that, like a rich man, disdains to count them. --A good prince inaugurates his regime by an act of mercy. Would you want to decide to free the galley slaves?

222FIESCO (sharply). Let them be the first fruits of my tyranny. --Go announce their release to them all.

223VERRINA. If you miss the expression of their joy, yours is but a half-done deed. Go yourself and see. Great lords are so seldom present when they do evil; are they also to do good things from ambush?--I should not think the Duke too grand for a beggar’s sensibility.

224FIESCO. You, sir, are terrible, but I don’t know why I should obey. (They go toward the sea.)

225VERRINA (stops; with sadness). Embrace me once more, Fiesco. There is no one here to see Verrina weep and have feeling for a prince. (He presses him close.) Surely two greater hearts never beat as one. We loved one another like brothers--(Weeping freely on Fiesco’s shoulder.) Fiesco, Fiesco, you vacate a place in my heart that all humankind, multiplied three times over, will never fill again.

226FIESCO (very moved). Be--my--friend.

227VERRINA. Throw aside this hateful Purple, and I am. --The first prince was a murderer and introduced the Purple to hide the blotches of his deed in this blood-red colour. --Hear me, Fiesco--I am a warrior and know little of wet cheeks. --These are my first tears, Fiesco. --Throw this Purple aside.

228FIESCO. Be still.

229VERRINA (more pressing). Fiesco--Let all the crowns of the planet be laid down here as prize, all its tortures be laid down there as bugbear, I’m to kneel before a mortal man--I shall not kneel--Fiesco. (He kneels.) Never have I knelt before. --Throw this Purple aside.

230FIESCO. Stand up, and don’t annoy me anymore.

231VERRINA (resolute). I’ll stand up and not annoy you anymore. (They are standing at the gangplank of a galley.) The prince has precedence. (They start across.)

232FIESCO. Why are you tugging at my cloak?--It’s falling off.

233VERRINA (with terrible scorn). When the Purple falls, the Duke must follow. (Throws him into the sea.)

234FIESCO (calls from the water). Help, Genoa! Help! Help your Duke! (Sinks.)

Scene 17

235Calcagno. Sacco. Cibo. Centurione. Conspirators. Folk. All hurried and anxious.

236CALCAGNO (shouts). Fiesco! Fiesco! Andrea is back. Half of Genoa is rallying to Andrea. Where is Fiesco?

237VERRINA (firmly). Drowned.

238CENTURIONE. Who answers for this? Hell? Or the madhouse?

239VERRINA. He was drowned, if that sounds better. --I am on my way to Andrea.

240(All stand in frozen groups.)

241(Curtain.)

Notes

61 Bellona: The ship on which Andrea Doria commanded several expeditions as imperial admiral.

62 I, too, have a wound: Cf. Portia in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 2. Leonore continues to liken herself to Caesar’s wife, whom she mentions explicitly beforehand.

63 Piazza Sarzano: One of the principle piazzas in the centre of Genoa.

64 The Grand and Minor Council of the Republic: Il Consiglio Grande and il Consiglio Minore. See above, Signoria. The Minor Council, consisting of 100 persons, was chosen by and from members of the Grand Council.

65 Ninth Circle of Hell: In Dante’s Inferno, the deepest part of Hell for the worst sinners.

66 Marseille: Verrina, Calcagno and Sacco were banished from Genoa and sailed for Marseille.

67 Atlantic: Schiller wrote: ‘Atlantenmeer,’the Atlantic Sea. The figure turns on the unlikelihood of lifting Italy from the Atlantic Sea. Whether Schiller in fact believed that Italy lay in the Atlantic Ocean is an open question.

68 Jesuit Cathedral: The Chiesa del Gesù e dei Santi Ambrogio e Andrea, a former Jesuit church near the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa.

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