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Wallenstein

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Friedrich Schiller

The Death of Wallenstein. A tragedy in five acts

Act One

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1A Room equipped for astrological endeavors and furnished with globes, charts, quadrants, and other astrological instruments. A curtain is drawn back from a rotunda where we see statues of the seven planets, each in an alcove and strangely lit. Seni is observing the stars; Wallenstein is standing before a large black table showing the aspect of the planets.

Scene One

2Wallenstein. Seni.

  • 172 Opposed beams pass between stars opposite one another in the circle of the zodiac; quadratic beams (...)
  • 173 Doing evil: an astrological term.
  • 174 In a falling house.
  • 175 The Death of Wallenstein, famously, has a fallende Handlung, a descending action. The play opens a (...)

WALLENSTEIN. Enough for now. Come down, Seni. Come down,
For day is breaking; Mars controls the hour.
It’s no use going on. Just come on down.
We know enough.
SENI. Let me watch Venus for
A moment, Excellency. She’s just rising
And shining like the sun there in the east.
WALLENSTEIN. She’s at her perigee, is nearest Earth,
Affecting things below with greatest strength.
(Observing the figure on the table of aspect.)
Such favorable aspect! That great threesome
Converges fatefully; the two good stars, [10]
Venus and Jupiter take spiteful Mars
Between them, force that vandal to serve me.
For he has long been hostile to me, sent
Against my stars red beams oblique and per-
Pendicular, quadratic and opposed,
And broken their benign influences.
They’ve overcome their ancient enemy now
And bring him to me in the heavens, chained.172
SENI. These two great lights unthreatened now by any
Star Maleficus!173 Saturn rendered harmless, [20]
Quite without power, in cadente domo.174
WALLENSTEIN. His rule is over, Saturn’s is, the god who
Controls the birth of secret things in Earth’s
Dark womb and in the depths of our own hearts,
Disposes over all that shuns the light.
The time is past for brooding and reflecting,
For Jupiter, most brilliant, governs now
And draws a work prepared in darkness forth
With force into the realm of light. Quick! Time
To act, before the happy constellation [30]
Above my head eludes me once again,
For change is constant on the dome of heaven.
(Loud knocking at the door.)175
A knock. See who it is.
TERZKY (outside). Ho! Open up!
WALLENSTEIN. It’s Terzky.
What’s there so urgent? We are busy here.
TERZKY (outside). Put everything aside. I beg of you.
There can be no delay.
WALLENSTEIN. Then open, Seni.

3(As Seni opens the door, Wallenstein draws the curtain before the statues.)

Scene Two

4Wallenstein. Count Terzky.

  • 176 See the Cornet’s report, Picc., Act V, scene 2, at line 2317.
  • 177 Kinsky’s name appears here among the names of men who opposed the Kaiser, an association more in k (...)

TERZKY (entering). You’ve heard the news already? He’s been caught,
Turned over by Count Gallas to the Kaiser!
WALLENSTEIN (to Terzky).
Who’s caught? Who’s been turned over to the Kaiser?
TERZKY. The man who carried all our secrets, knows [40]
Of all our contacts with the Swedes and Saxons,
Who was our go-between in everything—
WALLLENSTEIN (starting back).
Sesina? No! Oh, tell me it’s not him!
TERZKY. Heading for Regensburg and to the Swedes,
Picked up by a detail from Gallas. They’d
Been tracking all his movements for a long time.176
And carrying my packet: letters meant
For Kinsky,177 Matthes Thurn, for Oxenstirn
And Arnheim; that was on his person, all that,
And now they have it. They know everything, [50]
Can piece together everything that’s happened.

Scene Three

5As above. Illo enters.

  • 178 Wallenstein has arranged to meet at Pilsen not only with his commanders but also with the Swedes.
  • 179 The oath signed at the banquet, Picc., Act IV, scene 6.
  • 180 The pro memoria planned in Camp, scene 11, at line 999.

ILLO (to Terzky). He knows?
TERZKY. He knows all.
ILLO (to Wallenstein).
Do you now think you
Can make peace with the Kaiser? Win his trust
Back? Even if you wanted to renounce
All plans, they know now what you aimed to do.
So forward! There’s no going backward now.
TERZKY. They have their hands on documents against us
That prove incontrovertibly how we—
WALLENSTEIN. In my handwriting, nothing. I dispute you.
ILLO. You do? Do you believe what he agreed, [60]
Your brother acting in your name, will not
Be put on your account? The Swedes should take
His word as yours, and not the Kaiser’s men!
TERZKY. Nothing in writing, granted. But recall
How far you went with Sesin orally.
Will he keep silent? Will he guard your secret,
If he can save himself betraying it?
ILLO. Not even you believe that! And now that they know
How far you’ve gone already, what do you
Expect? You’ll not keep your command, and once [70]
You’ve laid it down, you’re lost—there’ll be no rescue.
WALLENSTEIN. The army is my safety. It will not
Desert me. They may know whatever— I
Retain the power; they’ll have to swallow that.
And if I give security for my
Good faith, that’s all they can require of me.
ILLO. The army’s yours. Now for the moment, it
Is yours. But tremble at the slow, insidious
Workings of time. The favor you enjoy there
Protects you for today, tomorrow still, [80]
From outright force. Give them a little time, though,
And they with stealth will undermine the good
Opinion that you stand on, steal from you
First one man, than another, so that when
The earthquake comes, your riddled house collapses.
WALLENSTEIN. An evil accident!
ILLO. A lucky one, I’d say, if it affects
You as it should, obliges you to act
Once and for all. The Swedish colonel is—178
WALLENSTEIN. He’s here? Do you know what he has for us? [90]
ILLO. I asked. He’ll only speak with you in private.
WALLENSTEIN. An evil, evil accident. For sure,
Sesina knows too much and he will talk.
TERZKY. He’s a Bohemian rebel and a fugitive,
His head is in a noose. If he can save
Himself, and at your cost, will he have scruples?
And if they put him on the rack, what hope
Have we that he’ll hold out, weak as he is?
WALLENSTEIN (lost in thought). There’s no establishing their trust again.
Whatever I do now, I’ll be and I [100]
Remain a traitor in their eyes. Even
If I return now to my duties in
All honesty, it will avail me nothing—
ILLO. It’ll ruin you. They’ll only mark it up, not
To your good faith, but to your helplessness.
WALLENSTEIN (much aroused, pacing).
What? Should I be obliged to go through with
It just because I toyed with the thought?
He’s lost—the man who dares fool with the Devil.
ILLO. If you were only fooling, believe you me,
You’ll pay for it in all true seriousness. [110]
WALLENSTEIN. And if I must go through with it, then it
Must happen now, just now, while I have power.
ILLO. If possible, before the Viennese
Recover from the blow and cut you off.
WALLENSTEIN (studying the signatures).
I have the generals’ written word of honor.179
Max Piccolomini’s not here. Why not?
TERZKY. He was—He said—
ILLO. Oh, it was pure conceit!
He said there was no need between you two.
WALLENSTEIN. There is no need—in that he is quite right.
The regiments don’t want to go to Flanders. [120]
They’ve forwarded a written protest to me :180
They noisily resist their orders. Well!
We have the first move toward an insurrection.
ILLO. You’ll sooner lead them to the enemy,
I warrant you, than over to the Spaniards.
WALLENSTEIN. I’d like to hear now what that Swede has brought
For me.
ILLO (eagerly). Would you admit him, Terzky?
He’s right outside.
WALLENSTEIN. Wait just a moment more.
He takes me by surprise—It came too fast—
Blind chance, an accident—It’s not my way [130]
To let that rule me darkly, sweep me with it.
ILLO. Just hear him as a first step. Weigh it later.

6(Exeunt Illo and Terzky.)

Scene Four

  • 181 The first of two great soliloquies by Wallenstein.

WALLENSTEIN (speaking to himself).181
Could it be? I’d be barred? Could not do what I
Want? Not retreat, as I would wish? I’d be
Constrained to do the deed because I thought it?
Did not dismiss temptation? Fed my heart
On this imagining; without set purpose,
Prepared the means to see it to completion;
Merely because I kept all avenues open?
God is my witness: I was not in earnest; [140]
I never made it my set purpose. Never!
I merely liked to entertain the thought.
Freedom to act, capacity: these pricked me.
Was it an error to draw pleasure from a
Phantasm, a hope—no more—of royal office?
And in my heart was a free will not mine?
Did I not always see within my range a
Right way, keep open lines for my retreat?
Where is it I now see that I’ve been led?
Pathless the road that lies behind. A wall [150]
Built up of my own deeds is rising, blocks me,
And cuts off any hope of turning back.
(He stands still, reflecting.)
Punishable is what I seem: try as
I may, I can’t throw off a sense of guilt.
Life’s ambiguity indicts me, double
Meanings; suspicion, always seeing evil,
Will poison, too, the wellspring of my pure deed.
If I’d been what I’m taken for, a traitor,
I’d spared myself the good appearances
And drawn my cloak about me ever closer, [160]
Never have shown bad feeling. Knowing myself
Guiltless, my wishes unseduced, I gave
Free rein to all my moods and passions.
My words were bold because my deeds were not.
All this was planless. They, however, peering
Forward, will rhyme it all as plotted, planned;
They’ll weave what rage, high spirits let me say
From a full heart into an artful web
And fashion a complaint so terrible
That I am dumbstruck. I’ll have caught myself [170]
In my own net, and only force can loose me.
(He halts again.)
How different it was then, when courage drove me
Freely, emboldened me to do what need,
Self-preservation, rudely now requires!

Necessity is grave to contemplate.
Never without a shudder does the human
Hand reach obscurely into Fortune’s urn.
My deed was mine while it lay in my breast.
Released from this sure corner of the heart,
Its mother-ground, out into life abroad, [180]
It belongs to those perfidious powers no
Mere human hand can ever hope to tame.
(He makes great strides through the room, then halts again, reflecting.)
And what have you embarked on here? Have you
Admitted it forthrightly to yourself?
Power is what you want to shake, reposing
Assured and calm upon its throne, secured
By sacred old possession and by custom,
Fastening itself by countless stubborn roots to
The people’s pious, childlike beliefs.
This is no contest matching strength with strength. [190]
Of that I have no fear. I’ll take it up
With any foe that I can see and stare down,
Who, full of courage, also kindles mine.
The foe that I can’t see’s the one I fear,
That which resists me in the human heart,
Fearful to me alone by fear itself.
Not what proclaims itself as mighty, full
Of life—What’s dangerously fearsome is
The commonplace, eternal Yesterday,
What’s always been, is always coming back, [200]
Tomorrow will be good since it was good today.
For man is made of humdrum, common stuff
And calls convention, custom, habit “Nanny.”
It’s a brave soul who would lay hand on his
Precious old hoardings, got from his ancestors!
The year has power to beatify.
What’s gray with age for him is next to God;
You’re in possession? You are in the right!
A right the mob will reverence like a relic.
(To the Page who has entered.)
The Swedish colonel? Yes? Let him come in. [210]
(The Page goes out. Wallenstein gazes at the doorway, reflecting.)
It’s still unsoiled—still. No crime has crossed
That threshold yet. So narrow is the boundary
That separates two paths that lie before us.

Scene Five

7Wallenstein and Wrangel.

  • 182 Wrangel’s compliments have a ring of tautology and truism; Wallenstein seems not to notice.
  • 183 Hostililties in Silesia ended in negotiations. See Picc., Act II, scene 7, line 969.
  • 184 Attila the Hun (d. 453), not necessarily a flattering comparison; Pyrrhus, King of Epirus (d. 272 (...)
  • 185 In 1625, when Wallenstein raised his first army.
  • 186 Wallenstein’s retelling of the story of his patchwork army. See the Sergeant’s version, Camp, scen (...)
  • 187 See the Wine Steward’s account of Bohemia, Picc., Act IV, scene 5, at line 1860.
  • 188 In the play, the commander of the nearby Swedish force.
  • 189 The Kingdom of Heaven or of the church. This is the confessional dimension of a war fought over mu (...)
  • 190 The Moldau runs between the proposed holdings.

WALLENSTEIN (having examined him searchingly).
Your name is Wrangel?
WRANGEL. Gustav Wrangel, colonel,
The regiment of Södermanland Blues.
WALLENSTEIN. It was a Wrangel who did me much harm
Before Stralsund: his brave defense there was
To blame when that seaport held out against me.
WRANGEL. The workings of the elements, my Lord.
They were against you, not my merits! A storm [220]
The Baltic stirred up to defend its freedom:
Both land and sea were not to serve one master.
WALLENSTEIN. You even swept my admiral’s hat away.
WRANGEL. I come now to replace it with a crown.
WALLENSTEIN (signals him to be seated, himself sits down).
Credentials, please. You’ve full authority?
WRANGEL (showing reservation).
So much remains to be resolved as yet—
WALLENSTEIN (has finished reading).
A solid, useful letter. It’s a smart,
Discerning mind you’re serving, Master Wrangel.
The Chancellor writes he’s only executing
What your late king had contemplated: helping [230]
Me to accede to the Bohemian crown.
WRANGEL. He says what’s true. Our much regretted king
Had a great estimation of your Grace’s
Exceptional intelligence and gifts
As marshal. He alone who’s best at ruling,
He’d tell us, should be ruler, should be king.182
ALLENSTEIN. He could say that.
(Taking his hand, confidentially.)
Sincerely, Colonel Wrangel—In my heart I
Was also Swedish. Always. This you saw in
Silesia and again at Nuremberg. [240]
I often had you in my power and
Always let you slip out by a back door.183
That’s what they won’t forgive me in Vienna
And what obliges me to take this step.
Since our advantage coincides so nicely,
Let us agree to trust each other rightly.
WRANGEL. That trust will come when both sides have security.
WALLENSTEIN. The Chancellor, I see, is slow to trust.
And I confess: the game is not arranged
Quite in my favor. For his Honor thinks [250]
If I lead on the Kaiser this way, who’s
My master, with the foe I could do like:
The one could be forgiven sooner than
The other. Is that not what you think, Colonel?
WRANGEL. I have an office here and no opinion.
WALLENSTEIN. The Kaiser’s driven me to these extremes.
I can no longer serve him honestly.
For my security, in self-defense
I take a bitter step that conscience blames.
WRANGEL. I believe you. No one goes so far unforced. [260]
(After a pause.)
What would induce your Lordship to proceed
So with your Kaiser and your master is not
For us to judge or to give meaning to.
The Swede does battle for his own good cause
With his good sword and in good conscience. The
Current conjunction, opportunity
Favors us. Every advantage counts in war.
We therefore take what’s offered without cavil.
If everything is in good order, then—
WALLENSTEIN. What do these doubts concern? Is it my will? [270]
Is it my forces? I made promise: if
The Chancellor pledges sixteen thousand men,
I’ll bring him eighteen thousand from the Kaiser’s
Army.
WRANGEL. Your Grace is well known as a mighty
Warlord, a second Attila and Pyrrhus.184
One tells to this day with astonishment
How years ago, against all human reckoning,
You conjured up an army out of nothing.185
But still—
WALLENSTEIN. But still?
WRANGEL. His Honor wonders if it
Would not be easier to put sixty thousand [280]
Warriors into the field from nothing than
To get one sixtieth of that—(He stops.)
WALLENSTEIN. To what?
Let’s hear it! To—?
WRANGEL. To break their sacred oath.
WALLLENSTEIN. He does? Because he judges like a Swede
And Protestant. You Lutherans battle for
Your Bible, think it’s all about a cause;
With heart and soul you rally to your flag.
When one of yours goes over to the foe,
He’s broken with two masters at one stroke.
That’s not remotely how we see these things. [290]
WRANGEL. Lord God in heaven! Have you in your country
No homeland, home fires, kitchen hearth, and church?
WALLENSTEIN. I’ll tell you how this plays out on our side.
The Austrian has a fatherland; he loves
It and with reason. But this army, said
To be the Kaiser’s, perched here in Bohemia,
It has none.186 These men are all rejects, thrown off
By other countries, the abandoned of
This world, with nothing they can call their own
Except the sun that shines upon us all. [300]
This land we’re fighting over, this Bohemia,
Has no affection for its master, whom it
Acquired by changing fortunes in the field
And not by choice. With grumbling it endures
The tyranny of faith. Force has imposed
A silence on them, not a peace. And the
Atrocities committed here live on
As red-hot vengefulness. How should a son
Forget a father chased to mass by hounds?
A people that has suffered such is frightful, [310]
Enduring or avenging suffered wrongs.187
WRANGEL. The noblemen, though, and the officers?
Desertion on this scale, crime on this order
Is unexampled in all history, my Lord.
WALLENSTEIN. Under all circumstances, they are mine.
You needn’t believe me; trust to your own eyes.
(He hands him the sworn Oath.
Wrangel reads it, then lays it silently on the table.)
Well now? You understand?
WRANGEL. If one but could!
My Lord, I drop my mask. I’ m authorized
To reach agreement on all pertinent matters.
The Rhinegrave188 stands four marches distant only [320]
With fifteen thousand men, awaiting orders
To bring them to your army, orders I
Shall give as soon as we two are at one.
WALLENSTEIN. What is it that the Chancellor demands?
WRANGEL (expressing reservation).
Twelve regiments at risk, all Swedish men.
I answer for them with my life. And all
Could be bad faith—
WALLENSTEIN (in anger). Why, sir!
WRANGEL (continuing calmly).
Insist: The Duke of Friedland is to break
With Austria, formally, irrevocably.
Therefore one must
On other terms, no Swedish troops are offered. [330]
WALLENSTEIN. What’s the demand? Pronounce it, quick and clear.
WRANGEL. Thus: to disarm the Spanish regiments
That answer to the Kaiser, to take Prague,
Vacate the city, and the border stronghold
Eger, to Swedish forces.
WALLENSTEIN. Much demanded!
Prague? Eger, fine! But Prague? Can’t be. Won’t work.
I’ll give you every surety that you
Might reasonably require of me. But Prague,
Bohemia—these I can defend myself.
WRANGEL. Of that we have no doubt. We are concerned [340]
Not merely with defense. We do not want to
Have raised so many men and so much treasure
To no good purpose.
WALLENSTEIN. Properly so.
WRANGEL. Until
We are made whole, Prague’s ours.
WALLENSTEIN. That’s how you trust us?
WRANGEL (getting to his feet).
The Swede works circumspectly with the German.
We were invited here across the Baltic;
We’ve saved the Kingdom from its downfall,189 with
Our blood set seal upon religious freedom
And on the sacred teachings of the Gospels.
And now one feels no more the favor but [350]
The burden, looks askance at strangers in
The land, would like to send us home to our
Dark forests with a pocketful of money.
Oh, no. Not for a Judas wage, for gold
And silver, have we lost our king in battle,
Nor so much noble Swedish blood been spilled
For gold and silver! We’ll not raise our flags
And sail for home with a thin laurel wreath.
We would be citizens on ground our late
King purchased when he gave his life. [360]
WALLENSTEIN. Help me suppress our common enemy,
The borderland you want will not elude you.
WRANGEL. And once the common enemy’s been conquered?
Who’ll hold our new-found friendship then together?
It’s not escaped us, Prince—though we were not
Supposed to see—that you are entertaining
Contacts with Saxons, secret ones. Who says
We’re not to be made victim of decisions
That one finds prudent to conceal from us?
WALLENSTEIN. The Chancellor has chosen his man well. He [370]
Could not have sent us someone more resistant.
(Rising.)
Come up with something better, Gustav Wrangel.
No more of Prague.
WRANGEL. My brief ends here.
WALLENSTEIN. I should cede you my capital? I’d go
Back to my Kaiser sooner.
WRANGEL. If there’s time.
WALLENSTEIN. That’s up to me, still is, and always will be.
WRANGEL. It may have been a day or two ago.
No longer now. Not since Sesin’s been caught.
(Following Wallenstein’s startled silence.)
My Lord, we gladly believe you are in earnest;
Since yesterday we’re sure of it. Now that [380]
This sheet assures us of the troops, there’ s nothing
Impedes our reaching trust and understanding.
Let us not quarrel over Prague. My Chancellor
Contents himself with the Old City. You
Shall have the Radschin and the Small Side.190 Eger,
Importantly, must be thrown open to us,
If we are to arrive at an agreement.
WALLENSTEIN. I’m to trust you, and not you me? So be it.
I’ll give your offer due consideration.
WRANGEL. No all too long one, I would ask of you. [390]
Our talks drag on into a second year now;
If they again reach no result, the Chancellor
Intends to think of them as broken off.
WALLENSTEIN. You press me hard. Yet such a step requires
Reflection.
WRANGEL. Sooner than one thinks, my Lord!
If it’s to work, it must be taken swiftly. (Exit.)

Scene Six

8Wallenstein. Terzky and Illo return.

  • 191 Charles, the last of the elder branch of the Bourbon line. He deserted the service of Francis I to (...)
  • 192 He was brother to Ferdinand I, who was grandfather of Ferdinand II.

ILLO. It’s done?
TERZKY. You’ve reached agreement?
ILLO. Our good Swede
Left quite content. So you’ve reached an agreement.
WALLENSTEIN. Listen! Nothing has happened yet. And thinking
It over—I don’t want to do it. [400]
TERZKY. What!
WALLENSTEIN. We should live at the mercy of these Swedes?
Endure their arrogance? I couldn’t stand it.
ILLO. Are you some refugee who begs for help?
You bring them more than you receive from them.
WALLENSTEIN. And what about that Bourbon of the blood
Who sold himself to his king’s enemy,
Lifted his arm against his fatherland ?191
They made him a marked man, and men’s revulsion
Avenged a deed so wicked, so unnatural.
ILLO. Is that your case? [410]
WALLENSTEIN. Good faith, I tell you, is
For every man as if his next of kin.
He feels himself put here as its avenger.
Sectarian enmity and partisan rage,
Old envies, jealousies conclude a truce;
All things that wrestle to destroy each other
Enter a pact, make terms, to chase away
The common enemy of mankind, the wild beast
That murderously invades the huddled pack
In which man lives in safety. His own wits,
We know, cannot protect him altogether. [420]
His eyes are set by Nature in his forehead;
Good faith protects his back, where he’s exposed.
TERZKY. Do not think yourself worse than does the foe
Who offers you his hand to do the deed.
That Karl was hardly tender-hearted, that
Ancestral uncle to this Kaiser’s house.192
He took that Bourbon up with open arms.
The world is ruled by seizing what is useful.

Scene Seven

9Countess Terzky joins the others.

  • 193 Frederick V, Count Palatine, apparently, though the reference is obscure and not historical.
  • 194 Schiller knew Shakespeare from his school days. After Wallenstein, while he was at work on Maria S (...)
  • 195 Max is coming directly from his conversation with his father, Picc., Act V, scene 3.
  • 196 The Countess thinks Max comes to ask for Thekla’s hand.
  • 197 See Wallenstein’s account of his dismissal at Regensburg in 1630: Picc., Act II, scene 7, at line (...)
  • 198 The restoration of Wallenstein’s command in 1632, when the war was going badly for the Kaiser.
  • 199 The House of Habsburg.
  • 200 In 1627, during Wallenstein’s first command. The Countess, for her purposes, is frank about the ar (...)
  • 201 The Countess’s counter-argument to Wallenstein’s “It’s not yet time,” Picc., Act II, scene 6, line (...)
  • 202 Wrangel made three demands of Wallenstein. To comply Wallenstein would have to send messengers to (...)
  • 203 “He” is the Kaiser.
  • 204 The reference is to the dragon’s teeth from which armed men sprang in the myth of Jason and Medea.

WALLENSTEIN. Who sent for you? There’s nothing here for women.
COUNTESS. I’ve come to offer my congratulations. [430]
Am I too soon? I certainly hope not.
WALLENSTEIN. Use your prestige here, Terzky. Make her go.
COUNTESS. And I once gave a king to rule Bohemia!193
WALLENSTEIN. He looked like it.
COUNTESS (to the others) Now, what’s the matter? Speak!
TERZKY. The Duke’s not willing.
COUNTESS. Won’t do what he has to?
ILLO. It’s your turn now. You try it. I have no
Reply to talk of good faith, conscience, such like.
COUNTESS. Look!194 When it all lay in the distance, when
You saw the path stretch endlessly before you,
There you had courage and decision. Now, [440]
When from this dream should come reality,
Completion is at hand, success assured,
Here you begin to hesitate, you balk?
Brave only in projections, timid in deeds?
Well, fine! Why not concede your enemies
Are right: What else do they expect of you?
They believe your resolution; be assured:
That they’d bear witness to with sign and seal.
But no one believes a deed is possible,
Or they’d respect you, live in fear of you. [450]
How can this be? Now that you’ve gone so far,
Now that the worst is known, now that the deed
Is totted up as done and charged to you,
You would pull back and forfeit the result?
Intended merely, it’s a common crime;
Accomplished, it’s a deathless undertaking.
If it succeeds, it’ll be forgiven, too,
For all result is sealed by God’s own verdict.
CHAMBERLAIN (entering). The Colonel Piccolomini.195
COUNTESS (quickly). Must wait.
WALLENSTEIN. I cannot see him now. Another time. [460]
CHAMBERLAIN. He asks for a few moments only, says
He comes on urgent matters—
WALLENSTEIN. Who knows what it may be. I want to hear it.
COUNTESS (laughing). To him it may seem urgent. You can wait.
WALLENSTEIN. What is it?
COUNTESS. Oh, you’ll find out soon enough.196
Think now instead how you’ll make Wrangel ready.
(Exit Chamberlain.)
WALLENSTEIN. If there were still a choice—If some way out
Less drastic could be found—That’s still what I
Would choose, in order to avoid the worst.
COUNTESS. If that is all you want, you’ll find that way right [470]
In front of you. Just send this Wrangel home.
Forget your cherished hopes and throw away
The life that’s past; resolve yourself and start
A new one. Even virtue has its vaunted
Heroes, no less that fame and fortune do.
You’ll leave then for Vienna and the Kaiser,
Take a full cash box, and declare it was
Your wish to test the good faith of his servants
Merely, to get the better of this Swede.
ILLO. Too late for that as well. They know too much. [480]
He’d only put his head down on the block.
COUNTESS. That I don’t fear. They lack the proofs to try him,
And they refrain from outright use of force.
No. They’ll be pleased to let their duke withdraw.
I see it now. The King of Hungary
Appears. It’s obvious the Duke must go,
There needn’t even be a public statement.
The king proceeds to have his troops sworn in,
And everything remains in perfect order.
A morning comes that finds the Duke departed. [490]
His many castles spring to life again,
Where he’ll devote himself to hunting, farming,
Breeding fine horses. He’ll set up his court,
Distribute golden keys, and keep a lavish
Table. Put briefly, he’ll be a great king—
On a small scale. He’ll prudently content
Himself with counting little, meaning less, and
They’ll let him seem what he would want to seem.
He’ll seem a great prince to the bitter end.
See there! The Duke is one of those new men [500]
The war’s raised up, the tousled creature of a
Court favor that, with uniform display,
Creates both squires and princes.
WALLENSTEIN (getting to his feet, very aroused).
Show me a way out of this impasse, helpful
Powers, a way that I can travel, I
Who am no champion with words, can’ t prattle
Virtue or warm myself on thinking, willing,
Can’t grandly say to Fortune, turning her
Back on me: Go! Who needs you? Show a way!
If I’m stripped of effectiveness, I’m lost. [510]
I’ll shy back from no sacrifice, no danger
In order to avoid this last extreme. But
Before I sink down into nothingness,
Or end so small, I who began so great,
Before the world confuses me with wretches
Whom but a single day makes and destroys,
Sooner the world and afterworld should speak
My name with loathing, sooner Friedland be
A code for every crime.
COUNTESS. What’s so unnatural in all this? It’s lost [520]
On me. Just tell me what it is. Do not
Let superstition’s spirits of the night
Be master of your bright intelligence!
High treason is the charge against you, if
With reason or without is not the question.
You’re lost if you don’t make quick use of power
You have at your command. Just show me a
Creation so pacific it will not
Defend its life with all its living strength!
And what is so extravagant that it [530]
Cannot be justified as self-defense?
WALLENSTEIN. This Ferdinand once treated me so kindly;
He loved me, valued me; I was the one
Who stood the closest to his heart. What prince
Did he esteem like me? That it should end so!
COUNTESS. That’s how you cherish every little favor
And have no memory for the affront?
Must I remind you how you were rewarded
At Regensburg for all your loyal service?
You had offended all the realm’s estates;197 [540]
To magnify him you had taken on your
Shoulders the hate, ill will of all the world:
In Germany entire you had no friend,
Because you’d only lived to serve your Kaiser.
You cleaved to him, none other, in the storm
That gathered over you at Regensburg— and
He let you fall! He let you fall! Let you
Fall, sacrificed to that presumptuous
Bavarian! Don’t tell me recovered rank198
Redeems that first and grave injustice. It was [550]
No genuine good will put you in office.
The law of bitter need— that put you in
This place that they’d have happily refused you.
WALLENSTEIN. That’s true! It’s not to their good will or to
His fondness that I owe this office. And
If I abuse it, I abuse no trust.
COUNTESS. Trust? Fondness? They had need of you! Had need!
That rude extortionist, pure Need, who’s not
Content with empty names, mere figurants; who
Demands real deeds, not gestures; calls upon [560]
The greatest and the best of men and puts
Him at the tiller—even when she has
To find her man among the rabble— she
Put you in office, composed your appointment.
For that house199 will resort to slavish men, the
Stringed puppets of their arts, for as long as
They can hold out. But when the worst nears, when
Appearances no longer work, they lapse
Into the hands of that strong nature and
Of that great mind that only heeds itself, [570]
Is bound by no contract and treats with them
On its own terms and never once on theirs.
WALLENSTEIN. It’s true! They always saw me as I am,
I did not deceive them in this bargain, never
Did think it worth the trouble to conceal
From them my bold, expansive turn of mind.
COUNTESS. Rather, you’ve always shown yourself as terrible.
You’re not at fault; you’ve always been consistent;
It’s they who’re wrong: they stood in fear of you
And still they vested power in your hands. [580]
For every particular character is in
The right that is consistent with itself ;
There is no wrong except a contradiction.
Why, were you someone else eight years ago,
Marching through Germany with fire and steel ?200
You wielded your whip over every district,
Scorned every ordinance throughout the Empire,
Asserted power’s fearsome privilege,
Trod on the sovereignty of every land
To spread your sultan’s mastery far and wide. [590]
That was the moment to break your proud will,
Call you to order! But the Kaiser was
Well pleased with what was useful to him and
Stamped silently the Empire’s seal on crimes.
What then was just because you’d done it for him
Today’s anathema because it’s aimed against him?
WALLENSTEIN (getting to his feet).
I never saw it from this angle. Yes,
That’s how it is. This Kaiser used my arm
For deeds that never should have been, by rights.
The very prince’s mantle that I wear [600]
I owe to actions nothing short of crimes.
COUNTESS. Admit then that between you and the Kaiser
There is no room for talk of right and duty,
But power only, opportunity!
The moment has arrived for you to draw
The sum on the account you’ve made of life.
The signs above you augur victory,
The planets signal you good fortune, call
To you and say: It’s time now.201 Have you spent
Your life in measuring the stars’ trajectory [610]
To no good purpose? Have you handled, too,
The quadrant and the compass, represented
The zodiac and vault of heaven on these walls,
Surrounded yourself with the silent and
Portentous figures of Fate’s seven rulers,
Only to make of these a pointless game?
Does all this armament amount to nothing?
Is there no substance to this idle art,
So that it has no meaning for you? No force
Over you at this moment of decision? [620]
WALLENSTEIN (who has walked up and down, reacting to this speech, now
suddenly stands still and interrupts the Countess).
Summon that Wrangel to me. Have three couriers
Saddle up right away.202
ILLO. Well, God be praised! (Hurries out.)
WALLENSTEIN. It is his203 evil genius and mine. His
He punishes through me, tool of his tyranny,
And I expect the steel of vengeance has
Been sharpened meanwhile also for my breast.
Oh, who sows dragon’s teeth should have no hope
Of reaping pleasure.204 Every wrongful action
Is pregnant with its rightful retribution.
He cannot trust me anymore. That means [630]
I can’t retreat. Let happen then what must.
The last word always belongs to destiny
Because our heart’s its executioner.
(To Terzky.)
Bring Wrangel to me in my private study;
The couriers I’ll dispatch myself; send for
Octavio!
(To the Countess, who is triumphant.)
Mind you don’t laugh too soon!
For Destiny is chary of her might.
To laugh too soon intrudes upon her rights.
We merely put the seed stock in her hand.
What sprouts—if good, if bad—tells in the end. [640]

(The Curtain falls as he goes off.)

Notes

172 Opposed beams pass between stars opposite one another in the circle of the zodiac; quadratic beams pass between those that are two stars removed from one another on the perimeter of the circle. Both these are unfavorable. Mars between Jupiter and Venus would seem to form an equilateral triangle, a favorable aspect.

173 Doing evil: an astrological term.

174 In a falling house.

175 The Death of Wallenstein, famously, has a fallende Handlung, a descending action. The play opens at its turning point and the catastrophe unfolds throughout its five acts.

176 See the Cornet’s report, Picc., Act V, scene 2, at line 2317.

177 Kinsky’s name appears here among the names of men who opposed the Kaiser, an association more in keeping with the historical Kinsky, who had contact with the Bohemian emigration.

178 Wallenstein has arranged to meet at Pilsen not only with his commanders but also with the Swedes.

179 The oath signed at the banquet, Picc., Act IV, scene 6.

180 The pro memoria planned in Camp, scene 11, at line 999.

181 The first of two great soliloquies by Wallenstein.

182 Wrangel’s compliments have a ring of tautology and truism; Wallenstein seems not to notice.

183 Hostililties in Silesia ended in negotiations. See Picc., Act II, scene 7, line 969.

184 Attila the Hun (d. 453), not necessarily a flattering comparison; Pyrrhus, King of Epirus (d. 272 BCE), known for his costly victories.

185 In 1625, when Wallenstein raised his first army.

186 Wallenstein’s retelling of the story of his patchwork army. See the Sergeant’s version, Camp, scene 11, at line 764.

187 See the Wine Steward’s account of Bohemia, Picc., Act IV, scene 5, at line 1860.

188 In the play, the commander of the nearby Swedish force.

189 The Kingdom of Heaven or of the church. This is the confessional dimension of a war fought over much else as well.

190 The Moldau runs between the proposed holdings.

191 Charles, the last of the elder branch of the Bourbon line. He deserted the service of Francis I to ally himself with Kaiser Karl V, whom he aided against France in the Italian Wars; the capture of Francis at Pavia (1525) is ascribed to his treachery.

192 He was brother to Ferdinand I, who was grandfather of Ferdinand II.

193 Frederick V, Count Palatine, apparently, though the reference is obscure and not historical.

194 Schiller knew Shakespeare from his school days. After Wallenstein, while he was at work on Maria Stuart, he undertook a long-contemplated adaptation of Macbeth for the Weimar stage. Many passages in the trilogy show that he had read Julius Caesar with care, and there are reminiscences of other plays.

195 Max is coming directly from his conversation with his father, Picc., Act V, scene 3.

196 The Countess thinks Max comes to ask for Thekla’s hand.

197 See Wallenstein’s account of his dismissal at Regensburg in 1630: Picc., Act II, scene 7, at line 1022.

198 The restoration of Wallenstein’s command in 1632, when the war was going badly for the Kaiser.

199 The House of Habsburg.

200 In 1627, during Wallenstein’s first command. The Countess, for her purposes, is frank about the army’s lawlessness and plundering. See Wallenstein’s account, Picc., Act II, scene 7, at line 1022.

201 The Countess’s counter-argument to Wallenstein’s “It’s not yet time,” Picc., Act II, scene 6, line 839.

202 Wrangel made three demands of Wallenstein. To comply Wallenstein would have to send messengers to Prague and to Eger. The destination of a third is less easy to conclude.

203 “He” is the Kaiser.

204 The reference is to the dragon’s teeth from which armed men sprang in the myth of Jason and Medea.

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