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Wallenstein

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Friedrich Schiller

The Death of Wallenstein. A tragedy in five acts

Act Two

Texte intégral

1A Room.

Scene One

2Wallenstein. Octavio Piccolomini. Then Max Piccolomini.

  • 205 The subject is Altringer’s whereabouts. See Octavio’s surprise, Picc., Act V, scene 2, at line 233 (...)
  • 206 Wrangel’s first demand was disarmament of the Spanish regiments that answered to the Kaiser, Act I (...)
  • 207 The speech fairly vibrates with dramatic irony.
  • 208 The German is Alter and expresses affection and esteem. Terzky and Illo speak of Octavio as der Al (...)

WALLENSTEIN. He sends me word from Linz that he lies sick,205
Yet I have sure report that he is hiding
At Frauenberg in company of Gallas.
Arrest them both and send them here to me.
Take charge of all the Spanish regiments,206
Make endless preparation, never finish;
If they prevail on you to march against me,
Say yes and make no move to leave the spot.
I know that you are well served with these orders
To stand aside, take no part in this game; [650]
You save appearances as long as you can,
For extreme measures never were your way.
That’s why I’ve singled out this role for you;
By doing nothing you will serve me best
This time. If fortune favors me meanwhile
In this endeavor, you know what to do.207
(Max Piccolomini enters.)
Go now, Old Man.208 You’ll have to leave tonight.
Take my own horses. This one here I’ll keep
With me. Be quick in taking leave of one
Another! We shall meet again, I’m sure, [660]
Successful and content.
OCTAVIO (to his son). We’ll speak today yet. (Exit.)

Scene Two

3Wallenstein. Max Piccolomini.

  • 209 Wallenstein’s response to Max makes an interesting contrast with Octavio’s, Picc., Act I, scene 4, (...)

MAX (approaches him).
My General—
WALLENSTEIN. That I am no longer if
You call yourself the Kaiser’s officer.
MAX. So it’s decided: You will leave the army?
WALLENSTEIN. I’ve given up my service to the Kaiser.
MAX. And want to leave the army?
WALLENSTEIN. I hope rather
To bind it closer and more tightly to me.
(He sits down.)
Well, Max. I did not want to tell you this
Before the hour for action had arrived.
Youth’s favored senses like to seize upon [670]
What’s right, take pleasure in applying and
In testing their own judgment there where the
Example lends itself to clear solution.
But when between two evils one must be
Chosen, where the heart cannot pull back whole
From a clash of conflicting duties, there
It is a boon to find one has no choice,
A gift to have to face necessity.209
That’s now the case. Therefore do not look back.
That cannot help you anymore. Look forward! [680]
Withhold all judgment and prepare to act.
Vienna has determined my destruction,
And my response is to anticipate them.
So we shall seek alliance with the Swedes.
They’re worthy fellows and will be good friends.
(He pauses, expecting Piccolomini’s response.)
I take you by surprise. You needn’t answer.
I’ll give you time to gather a response.

4(He stands up and moves to the back. Max long stands motionless, in great pain; at a gesture from him, Wallenstein comes forward and stands before him.)

  • 210 Max’s triad is capacity, nobility, and freedom. The negation of these qualities is incapacity.
  • 211 The ancient salamander was said to live in fire. Paracelsus assigned the salamander fire as its el (...)
  • 212 Caesar, returning from Gaul, led his legions across the Rubicon, a small river outside Rome and th (...)

MAX. My General, you’ve forced me to grow up.
Until today I had no need to find
My path myself or choose my own direction. [690]
I followed you. I only had to look
To you and know for certain the right way.
Now for the first time you return me to
Myself, and I am forced to make a choice
Between you and the promptings of my heart.
WALLENSTEIN. Until today your fortunes rocked you gently;
You could perform your duties like a child,
Satisfy every seemly urging and
Do everything with undivided heart.
It can no longer stay that way. The paths [700]
Diverge like foes, and duty fights with duty.
You are obliged to take sides in the war
Between your Kaiser and your friend that flares
Up now before you.
MAX. War! Is that the right word?
A war’s a dreadful thing, like plagues of Heaven.
And it is good, a godsend, just like plagues.
Is this a good war you’re preparing for
The Kaiser with the Kaiser’s self-same army?
Oh, God in heaven! What a change this is!
Is it becoming that I use such language [710]
With you, who shone before me like the fixed
Star of the pole and gave me my life’s compass?
Oh, what a tear you’re ripping through my heart!
Should I learn to deny your name my old
Accustomed practices of veneration,
My sacred habits of obedience?
Oh, no. No, no. Do not turn your face toward me.
For me it was the countenance of a god
And will not soon lose power over me.
My senses still remain in fealty to you, [720]
For all my bleeding soul’s leap into freedom.
WALLENSTEIN. Max, listen to me.
MAX. Do not do it! Do not!
Just look! Your pure and noble features know
Nothing of anything so direful yet
Only your fantasy has it besmirched;
Your innocence refuses to be driven
Out of your radiant noble figure.
Oh, Expel this blotch instead, this enemy.
And then it will be only a bad dream,
The kind that cautions virtue. All mankind [730]
May have experienced such moments, but
Right feeling must prevail, both now and after.
No, you’ll not end so. That would blacken among
Men everything that’s grand by nature, every
Capacity that’s powerful; it would
Endorse the common foolishness that does
Not believe nobility inheres in freedom
And gives itself to incapacity.210
WALLENSTEIN. The world will judge me harshly; I expect that.
I’ve told myself already what you say. [740]
For who would not avoid the worst if he
But could. Here, though, one’s given little choice:
If I do not use force, I suffer it.
That’s how it is. I’ve no alternative.
MAX. Then fine! Enforce your will, and even while
You keep your post, oppose the Kaiser; if
It must be, go as far as frank rebellion;
I do not like it, but I can forgive you,
Will share with you what I cannot approve.
But don’t become a traitor! Now I’ve said [750]
The word. Do not become a traitor! That’s
Not excess, not transgression by high courage.
Oh, that is something else—pure blackness, black as
The depths of Hell.
WALLENSTEIN (frowning darkly but restrained).
Young, one is quick to seize upon a word
As hard to wield as is a whetted blade;
Hot-headed, one is quick to take the measure
Of things that must be judged on their own terms;
And quick to call things shameful or deserving
And bad or good. And what imagining [760]
Fantastically imports in these dark names one
Imposes on things themselves and on their essence.
The world is narrow and the mind is wide,
Our thoughts lie easy next to one another,
But things will jostle in the space allotted ;
Where one claims room the other has to yield,
One who would not be driven out must drive out.
For all is struggle and the strong prevail.
The man who goes through life without desire, who
Can give up every purpose—such a one [770]
Lives with the salamander in pure fire,
Stays spotless in a spotless element.
But Nature has made me of cruder stuff,
And my desires all draw me toward the Earth.
The Earth pertains to the bad spirit, not to
The good. The gods above send down to us
But common goods; their light brings happiness,
But it makes no man rich, and under their
Regime no treasure is to be attained.
The precious stone, gold valued over all things [780]
Are wrested from deceitful powers that live
Disgracefully below the reach of light.
Not without cost are they propitiated,
And no man lives who has withdrawn his soul
Unblemished from their service.211
MAX (with meaning). Fear these powers!
They never keep their word. They’re liars that
Will charm you, draw you to perdition. Do
Not trust them. You are warned! Return to duty.
You can, be sure of it. Just send me to
Vienna. That’s the way! Let me make your [790]
Peace with the Kaiser. He does not know you.
But I know you, and he should see you with
My eyes. I’ll bring you back his trust in you.
WALLENSTEIN. It is too late. You do not know what’s happened.
MAX. And if it is too late, advanced so far
That only a transgression saves you,
Then fall. Fall worthily, just as you stood.
Lose your command. Pass from the stage. You can,
With brilliance. Do so, too, with innocence.
You’ve lived for others this long time, live for [800]
Yourself at last. I’ll go together with you
And never separate my fate from yours—
WALLENSTEIN. It is too late. For even as we speak,
My runners lay back milestone after milestone,
Carrying my orders out to Prague and Eger.
Consent! We take the action that we must.
Let us then do the necessary thing
With resolution, dignity. Is my
Deed worse than Caesar’s, celebrated still?
He led his legions against Rome, entrusted [810]
To his protection. Had he not, he’d have
Been lost, as I would be if I disarmed.
I am aware of something of his spirit.
Give me his luck; the rest I’ll answer for.212

5(Max, who has shown signs of a painful struggle, quickly leaves the scene. Wallenstein looks after him, startled and surprised, then stands deep in thought.)

Scene Three

6Wallenstein. Terzky. Then Illo.

TERZKY. Max Piccolomini has just gone out?
WALLENSTEIN. Where’s Wrangel?
TERZKY. Poof! Vanished.
WALLENSTEIN. In such a hurry?

  • 213 Wallenstein’s retelling of the incident before Lützen. Octavio’s account is at Picc., Act I, scene (...)
  • 214 Johan Banér, Swedish general.
  • 215 Wallenstein’s response to the capture of Sesina was, “An evil accident!” Act I, scene 3, line 86 a (...)
  • 216 The microcosm is the human being, the little world, which corresponds to the macrocosm, the world (...)
  • 217 Rhyme makes these assertions even more positive and sententious.

TERZKY. It was as if the earth had swallowed him.
He’d just left you when I went after him.
I had to speak with him—and he was gone;
No one could tell me anything about him; [820]
I think he was the Dark One in the flesh:
No man can vanish from the earth that way.
ILLO (entering). It’s true? It’s the Old Man you want to send?
TERZKY. Octavio? Him? Whatever are you thinking?
WALLENSTEIN. He’s going to go to Frauenberg, assume
The Spanish and the Latin regiments.
TERZKY. What? God forbid that you do such a thing!
ILLO. Entrust that traitor with a fighting force?
Let him out of your sight at such a moment,
When everything is hanging in the balance? [830]
TERZKY. That you’ll not do; no, not for anything!
WALLENSTEIN. A curious bunch you are.
ILLO. Oh, just this once!
Yield to our warning. Do not let him go.
WALLENSTEIN. And why should I not trust him this one time,
Him whom I’ve always trusted? What has happened
To cost him my esteem, my good opinion?
Your notions, not my own, should give me cause
To alter my old proven judgment of him?
Don’t take me for a woman. Trusting him
Until today, today I’ll trust him still. [840]
TERZKY. Must it be him? Can’t you send someone else?
WALLENSTEIN. He is the one, the one whom I’ve selected.
He’s right for this. That’s why I chose him for it.
ILLO. Oh, he’s a Latin—that’s why he’s so right.
WALLENSTEIN. I know it well: you’ve never liked those two.
Since I respect them, love them, and prefer them
To you and others, visibly, as they
Deserve, they are for all of you a thorn in
The side. Your envy—what concern is it
To me and my affairs? Your hating them [850]
Does not diminish them in my eyes. You
May love and hate each other as you choose;
I leave to you your sense of things and preference.
As if I didn’t know what each man’s worth!
ILLO. He’ll not set out, and if I have to smash
The wheels on his—
WALLENSTEIN. Contain yourself, Illo!
TERZKY. That Questenberg, when he was here in camp—
The two of them were huddled the whole time.
WALLENSTEIN. It was with my permission and my knowledge.
TERZKY. That messengers from Gallas come to him [860]
In secret—that, too, I know.
WALLENSTEIN. That is not true.
ILLO. Oh, you are blind beneath the midday sun!
WALLENSTEIN. And you’ll not shake my articles of faith.
They’re based on deepest science, and if they
Are lies, the science of the stars is lies.
But you should know: I have a pledge from fate
Itself that he’s the truest of my friends.
ILLO. Have you a pledge that this pledge isn’t lying?
WALLENSTEIN. The lives of men are marked by moments when one
Is nearer the world spirit than is usual [870]
And gets to put a question to one’s fate.
Just such a moment was it in the night
Before our Lützen action, as I, braced
Against a tree, gazed out across the plain.213
I saw the campfires burning darkly through
The fog. The muffled thunder of our weapons,
The measured calling of the watches as
They made their rounds, alone broke up the stillness.
Before my inner eye my life, both past
And future, unrolled in this moment and [880]
My spirit, full of premonition, fastened
The furthest reaches of the future to
The unknown outcome of the next day’s action.
And I said to myself: “So many do you
Command. They follow after your stars, risk, as
On a high number, all they have on your head,
Have gone with you on board your ship of fortune.
One day their destiny will scatter them
And few will loyally remain with you.
I’d like to know the one who’s truest to me [890]
Of all the men this camp holds in its confines.
Give me a sign, you Fates, and let it be
The one who comes tomorrow first to me
And brings me living proof of his devotion.”
When I had thought these things I fell asleep.
My dream took me into the thick of battle.
Pressed on all sides, I felt my horse
Fall stricken; over me indifferently all
My cavalry passed, and I lay panting, near
Death, trampled by the hooves of my own horsemen. [900]
I felt myself supported suddenly
By a strong arm, Octavio’s, and I
Awoke. It was bright day. Octavio stood
Before me. “Brother,” he said, “Do not mount
The piebald, not today. I’ve chosen for you
A surer animal. Do it for love
Of me. For I’ve had warning in a dream.”
The swiftness of this animal snatched me
Away from the pursuit of Banner’s dragoons.214
My cousin rode the piebald on that morning, [910]
And horse and rider vanished with no trace.
ILLO. Pure accident.
WALLENSTEIN (with meaning). There is no accident.215
What seems to us a blind fortuity
Rises precisely out of deepest sources.
I have it, signed, sealed, and delivered, he
Is my good angel. Not another word!
(He starts away.)
TERZKY. At least we get to keep that Max as hostage.
ILLO. And I’ll not let him leave here with his life.
WALLENSTEIN (stops and turns back).
If you aren’t like those women who return
Forever to their first opinion, even [920]
When one has reasoned with them endlessly!
Look! Human thoughts and deeds are not a force
Like random waves upon a surging sea.
Man’s microcosm, inner world’s the source216
From which they rise and flow eternally.
They are compelled, as is the pear tree’s pear,
And shifting chance can never change their breed.
When I’ve once seen a man’s dark depths laid bare,
I can divine his wishes and his deed.217

(Exeunt.)

Scene Four

7A Room in Piccolomini’s quarters. Octavio Piccolomini, ready for departure. An Adjutant.

  • 218 The Tiefenbachers have been admired since Camp, end of scene 10.

OCTAVIO. Is the detachment ready? [930]
ADJUTANT. Waiting below.
OCTAVIO. Trustworthy men, all of them, Adjutant?
Which is the regiment you took them from?
ADJUTANT. From Tiefenbach.
OCTAVIO. That regiment is loyal.218
Have them stand quietly in the rear courtyard,
Attract no notice, till you hear a bell.
The house is to be closed then, sharply guarded,
And anyone encountered here locked up.
(Exit Adjutant.)
I hope there’ll be no need for such precautions,
For I am confident of my assessment.
But this is Kaiser’s service, much at risk, [940]
And better too great measures than too few.

Scene Five

8Octavio Piccolomini. Isolani enters.

  • 219 Isolani believes Octavio has convened a number of commanders.
  • 220 Isolani’s faro bank, first mentioned at Picc., Act I, scene 1.

ISOLANI. Well, here I am. Who else is still to come?219
OCTAVIO (conspiratorial).
But first a word with you, Count Isolan.
ISOLANI (conspiratorial).
It’s happening? The Prince will go ahead?
Just trust me, General. Put me to the test.
OCTAVIO. That could yet happen.
ISOLANI. Brother, I’m not of
The sort that’s bold with words, until it comes
To doing deeds, and then heads for the hills.
The Duke has been more than a friend to me,
God knows he has! I owe him everything,220 [950]
And he can bank on my help.
OCTAVIO. We shall see.
ISOLANI. Watch out, though. It’s not everybody thinks so.
There’re many here who still hold with the Court.
They think the signatures from recently,
The filched ones, can’t bind them to anything.
OCTAVIO. Indeed? Name me the lords who think that way.
ISOLANI. Well, hang them! That’s how all the Germans talk,
And Esterhazy, Kaunitz, Deodat
Now say we owe obedience to the Court.
OCTAVIO. That’s satisfying. [960]
ISOLANI. Satisfying?
OCTAVIO. That
The Kaiser still has such good friends, true servants.
ISOLANI. Don’t laugh. These men are not to be despised.
OCTAVIO. Precisely. God forbid that I should laugh!
It satisfies me seriously to see
Our good cause still so strong.
ISOLANI. What’s this? You’re not—
Then what the devil am I doing here?
OCTAVIO (with authority).
You are here to declare yourself quite plainly:
Would you be called the Kaiser’s friend or foe?
ISOLANI (defiant).
On that point I’ll declare myself alone
To one to whom an explanation’s owed. [970]
OCTAVIO. This sheet should tell you if it’s owed to me.
ISOLANI. What’s this? The Kaiser’s hand? The Imperial seal?
(Reads.) “That all the captains of Our Armies shall
Consider orders of Our loyal, much loved
Lieutenant General Piccolomini
As properly Our own.” Ha-hum! Well, so—I—
Lieutenant General, my congratulations.
OCTAVIO. Do you submit to orders?
ISOLANI. I, well—I—
But you’ve surprised me, and so suddenly—
You’ll grant me time to think, I hope— [980]
OCTAVIO. Two minutes. ISOLANI. My God! The matter is—
OCTAVIO. Quite clear. Quite simple.
You should declare if you choose to betray
Your master or to serve him loyally.
ISOLANI. Betray? My God—Whoever said betray?
OCTAVIO. That is before us here. The Prince is traitor,
Would lead the army over to the foe.
Declare yourself. Would you forswear the Kaiser?
And sell out to the enemy? Would you?
ISOLANI. What do you mean? The Kaiser’s Majesty—
Forswear it? I said that? Whenever did [990]
I say—
OCTAVIO. You haven’t said it yet. Not yet.
I’m waiting now to see if you will say it.
ISOLANI. Well, now. It’s a great kindness that, yourself,
You vouch that I’ve not said a thing like that.
OCTAVIO. And therefore you repudiate the Prince?
ISOLANI. Well, plotting treason—Treason cuts all ties.
OCTAVIO. And you’ll take up the Kaiser’s cause against him?
ISOLANI. He did me a good turn. If he’s a rogue, though—
May God damn him—then our account is cancelled.
OCTAVIO. You’ve chosen wisely and that pleases me. [1000]
Tonight you’re to break camp in deepest silence
With all light troops; and it must seem as if
Your orders come down from the Duke himself.
Our mustering ground is Frauenberg. Lead your
Men there. Your further orders come from Gallas.
ISOLANI. So it shall be. Remember it of me,
Too, with the Kaiser—how you found me willing.
OCTAVIO. I’ll praise you well.
(Exit Isolani. A Servant enters.)
It’s Colonel Buttler? Good.
ISOLANI (reappearing).
And do forgive my blundering ways, Old Man.
My God! How could I know who it was, what grand [1010]
Person I had before me!
OCTAVIO. It’s all right.
ISOLANI. Jolly old fool is what I am and if
A hasty word has slipped across my courtyard
And out the gate, warmed by the wine, was not
To give offense, you know. (Turns to leave.)
OCTAVIO. Don’t be concerned,
Give it no second thought.—Well, then! That worked!
Good Fortune, favor us so with the others!

Scene Six

9Octavio Piccolomini. Buttler.

  • 221 Picc., Act IV, scene 6, at line 1948. This is the interview Octavio has been contemplating since h (...)
  • 222 Buttler tells Illo that Gallas tried to keep him at Frauenberg, Picc., Act I, scene 1, line 36.
  • 223 Octavio’s knowing how to righten Buttler’s wrongheadedness (Picc., Act I, scene 3, line 246) impli (...)
  • 224 That confirmation was being withheld by Vienna. See Picc., Act I, scene 1, line 46.
  • 225 The expression has two valences: it is both rhetorical, in the sense, “A pox upon him!” and litera (...)
  • 226 Buttler’s rapid exit precludes any further development of the conversation.

BUTTLER. I am at your disposal, Lieutenant General.
OCTAVIO. I welcome you as worthy guest and friend.
BUTTLER. You do me too much honor. [1020]
(They both sit down.)
OCTAVIO. You, I’m afraid, did not return the interest
I showed when I approached you yesterday,
But took it for an empty compliment.221
My wish was genuine. I was in earnest
With you. For we’re embarked on times in which
Good men must bind themselves to one another.
BUTTLER. That’s only done by men who think alike.
OCTAVIO. I’d say that all the good ones think alike.
Dealing with others, I account alone
The deed to which one’s character drives one, [1030]
Since blind misunderstanding often leads
The best of men to wander off the track.
You came by way of Frauenberg. Count Gal-
Las told you nothing there in confidence?
This you may tell me. He and I are friends.
BUTTLER. He spoke of nothing but indifferent things.222
OCTAVIO. A pity, for he had good counsel. I’d
Have something similar to offer you.
BUTTLER. Do spare yourself the trouble, me the shame
To have deserved your good opinion badly. [1040]
OCTAVIO. Our time is precious. We’ll speak plainly.
You know how matters stand here: that the Duke
Is contemplating treason. I can say more.
The step is taken. With the enemy
He has just reached agreement, and his couriers
Gallop toward Prague and Eger this very moment.
Tomorrow he would lead us to the foe.
But he deceives himself. Sharp eyes keep watch.
We’ve loyal friends of Ferdinand in camp here,
And their invisible alliance prospers. [1050]
This manifest declares him under ban and
Releases all his force from sworn obedience ;
It calls upon right-thinking men to come
Together and accept my generalcy.
Now choose. Would you have part in our good cause?
Or share with him the bad lot of bad men?
BUTTLER (getting to his feet).
His lot is mine.
OCTAVIO. That’s your last word?
BUTTLER. It is.
OCTAVIO. Consider carefully, Colonel Buttler. There’s
Still time. Your hasty word remains unheard.
Retract. And choose the better part. You’ve not. [1060]
BUTTLER. You’ve further orders for me, Lieutenant General?
OCTAVIO. Consider your white hair and take it back.
BUTTLER. Farewell!
OCTAVIO. What? You would draw your valiant sword
In such a cause? Would transform into hate
Your thanks for forty years of serving Austria?
BUTTLER (laughing bitterly).
Great thanks from Austria!
(About to go.)
OCTAVIO (lets him reach the door, then calls).
Buttler! BUTTLER. At your service.
OCTAVIO. How was it with the count?
BUTTLER. The count? What’s this?
OCTAVIO. Count’s title, I would say—
BUTTLER (a burst of rage). Death and damnation!
OCTAVIO (coldly). I know that you petitioned, were refused.
BUTTLER. You’ll not humiliate me unpunished. Draw! [1070]
OCTAVIO. Put up. And tell me how it happened. I’ll not
Deny you satisfaction when you’ve spoken.
BUTTLER. May all the world have knowledge of my weakness,
That which I never can forgive myself!
Oh, yes, Lieutenant General, I’m ambitious;
The least contempt I never could abide.
It rankled me that birth and title counted
For more in this man’s army than desert. One
Should not think less of me than of my peers.
I let myself be led at a bad moment [1080]
To take a step as foolish as was this,
But I did not deserve to pay so dearly!
Deny me, fine! But why combine refusal
With an expression contempt? Why strike
The old man down, the proven loyal servant,
With laughter cite to him his humble birth,
Alone because he had forgot himself!
But Nature gave this snake a sting that they,
Too full of their despotic games, will tread on.
OCTAVIO. So you were slandered. Have you any notion [1090]
Who did you such an underhanded service?
BUTTLER. Whoever: It would have to be a sneak,
A courtier, or a Spaniard, or the scion
Of some old house, someone whose light I stand in,
An envious rascal who resents my rising
By my own worth, the rank that I’ve attained.
OCTAVIO. The Duke—did he approve this step you took?
BUTTLER. Oh, he’s the one encouraged me, made efforts
In my behalf and showed himself a friend.
OCTAVIO. Of that you are quite sure? [1100]
BUTTLER. I read the letter.
OCTAVIO (with meaning).
I, too. But what I read was not the same.
(Buttler reacts sharply.)
By chance, I have possession of that letter.223
You may persuade yourself with your own eyes.
(Gives him the letter.)
BUTTLER. Ho! What is this?
OCTAVIO. I must fear, Colonel Buttler,
That you’ve been trifled with disgracefully.
The Duke, you say, encouraged you to act?
His letter speaks of you dismissively.
And he proposes that the minister
Should discipline what he calls your conceit.
(Buttler has read the letter. His knees buckle and he reaches for a
chair, where he sits down.)
No enemy pursues you, means you harm. [1110]
Ascribe the insult done you to the Duke
Alone. His purpose is quite clear: He would
Divide you from your Kaiser. Your revenge
Was to assure him what your loyalty,
Preserved and true, denied him, on reflection.
As a blind tool he hoped contemptuously to
Use you, as means to his base purposes.
He gained that goal. Too easily he lured
You from the path you’d traveled forty years.
BUTTLER (his voice shaking).
His Majesty the Kaiser—can he forgive me? [1120]
OCTAVIO. He can do more. He heals the insult done
A worthy man through no fault of his own.
He graciously confirms the gift the Duke
Made you for his own evil purposes:
The regiment you lead is yours.224
BUTTLER (tries to get up, sinks back. In high emotion he tries to speak and
fails. Finally he removes his sword and offers it to Piccolomini).
OCTAVIO. What’s this?
Compose yourself.
BUTTLER. Accept!
OCTAVIO. But why? Consider.
BUTTLER. Take it. I am not worthy of this sword.
OCTAVIO. Receive it back again now from my hand
And carry it, in honor, for what’s just.
BUTTLER. I broke my troth with such a gracious Kaiser! [1130]
OCTAVIO. Now make it good. Be quick to leave the Duke.
BUTTLER. To leave him!
OCTAVIO. How’s this? You’ve bethought yourself?
BUTTLER (erupting).
I’d merely leave him? Oh, he shall not live!225
OCTAVIO. Come after me to Frauenberg. The faithful
Are gathering there with Altringer and Gallas.
There’re many others I’ve returned to loyal
Service; tonight they’re fleeing out of Pilsen.
BUTTLER (who has walked up and down in agitation, now stands before
Octavio with an air of decision).
Count Piccolomini! May one speak now
Of honor, having broken troth with you?
OCTAVIO. One may, when one regrets it so sincerely. [1140]
BUTTLER. Then leave me here on word of honor.
OCTAVIO. What’s
Your purpose?
BUTTLER. Leave me with my regiment.
OCTAVIO. You’re to be trusted. But tell me what you’re hatching.
BUTTLER. The deed will show. Now question me no further.
Trust me. You can. You’ll not be leaving him,
By God, here with his guardian angel! Farewell! (Exit.)226
SERVANT (bringing a note).
A stranger brought it, didn’t want to stay.
The Prince’s horses wait for you below. (Exit.)
OCTAVIO (reading).
“Be on your way. Your faithful Isolan.”
If I but had this city now behind me! [1150]
So close to port, and we should see our ship wrecked?
Away! Away! There is no safety here
For me, not any more. But where’s my son?

Scene Seven

10Both Piccolomini.

MAX (enters in great agitation, wide-eyed, walking unsteadily. He seems not to see his father, who stops at a distance and observes him compassionately. He crosses the room with long strides, comes to a halt, and throws himself into a chair, staring straight ahead).
OCTAVIO (approaching him).
Son, I’m about to leave.
(Having received no answer, he takes Max by the hand.)
Farewell, my boy.
MAX. Farewell!
OCTAVIO. You’ll follow after?
MAX (not looking at him). Follow you?
Yours is a crooked way. That’s not my way.
(Octavio releases his hand and steps back.)
If only you’d been straight and true! Then it
Had never reached this point; it would be different!
Never would he have done this dreadful thing,
Good men around him would have kept their influence; [1160]
He’d not have fallen into evil nets.
Oh, why such lurking, secretiveness, why
The treachery—like a thief, a band of thieves!
Unholy falseness! Mother of all evil!
Inflicting wretchedness, our ruination!
Pure truthfulness, preserving order, saving
It, would have saved us, too. Oh, Father, I
Cannot, cannot forgive you—I cannot.
The Duke deceived me horribly, betrayed
My hopes. And you have hardly done me better. [1170]
OCTAVIO. My boy, I understand your pain, forgive you.
MAX (gets to his feet, regards him uncertainly).
It’s possible? That—Father? Father? You’d
Have taken it so far deliberately?
You rise by virtue of his fall. Octavio,
That I cannot call good.
OCTAVIO. Why, God in heaven!
MAX. The worst of it is I have changed my nature.
How could suspicion enter my free soul?
My trust, my belief, my hope—I’ve lost it all,
Since everything I valued lied to me.
But no. Not everything. She’s there for me, [1180]
And she’s as pure and true as is the day.
Deception’s everywhere, hypocrisy,
Murder, betrayal, poison, perjury!
The one clean place is our love for each other,
Unsullied among all humanity.
OCTAVIO. Come after me, Max. That’s the better course.
MAX. Before I’ve taken leave of her, last leave?
Oh, not in life!
OCTAVIO. But you should spare yourself
The pain of parting, necessary parting.
Come with me, Son. Just come. [1190]
(Draws him along.)
MAX. Not for the world!
OCTAVIO (more urgent).
Come with me. It’s your father bids you come.
MAX. Bid me do what is human. I shall stay.
OCTAVIO. Max, in the Kaiser’s name I bid you follow.
MAX. No Kaiser has direction of the heart.
And would you rob me now of the one thing
That’s left me in my sorrow, her compassion?
What’s horrible must happen horribly?
That which cannot be changed should now be done
Disgracefully, by secret, craven flight?
No! She should see my suffering, see my pain, [1200]
Should hear my lacerated soul complain, and
Weep bitter tears for me. Oh, mankind is
Too cruel. She is like an angel. She’ll
Retrieve my soul from raging, wild despair,
Comfort my mortal pain with her lament.
OCTAVIO. So you’ll not tear yourself away, can’t do it.
Then come, my son, and save your better self!
MAX. Your words are useless; you are wasting them.
It is my heart I follow; that I can trust.
OCTAVIO (losing his composure).
Max! Max! If something terrible befalls me, [1210]
Should you—my son and my own blood—I dare
Not think it! If you should betray yourself
To infamy, should set this stigma on
Our noble house, the world shall see the un-
Imaginable and the father’s blood drip from
The son’s steel in a dreadful single combat.
MAX. Had you always thought better of all men,
You also would have taken better action.
Cursed suspicion! And calamitous doubt!
Nothing for it is firm and steady, cannot [1220]
Be nudged; where belief fails, everything’s in motion.
OCTAVIO. I trust your heart, but will you always find
It possible to follow what it urges?
MAX. You’ve gained no mastery of my heart’s desire,
The Duke will gain as little mastery of me.
OCTAVIO. Oh, Max, I’ll not see you come home again.
MAX. Unworthy of you you shall never see me.
OCTAVIO. I go to Frauenberg and leave for your
Protection here the Pappenheimer ranks,
Toscana, Lorraine, also Tiefenbach. [1230]
They love you and are loyal to their oath,
Would rather bravely fall in battle than
Betray their captain or their sacred honor.
MAX. Depend on it: I’ll lose my life in combat
Here or conduct them safely out of Pilsen.
OCTAVIO (setting out).
Farewell, my son.
MAX. Farewell!
OCTAVIO. How’s this? No glance
Exchanged? No loving handclasp here at parting?
It is a bloody war we’re entering,
Its outcome is obscure, unknown to us.
We never used to part in such a fashion. [1240]
Is it then true? I have a son no longer?

11(Max falls into his arms; they clasp each other in a long silent embrace, then go off to different sides.)

Notes

205 The subject is Altringer’s whereabouts. See Octavio’s surprise, Picc., Act V, scene 2, at line 2334.

206 Wrangel’s first demand was disarmament of the Spanish regiments that answered to the Kaiser, Act I, scene 5, at line 332.

207 The speech fairly vibrates with dramatic irony.

208 The German is Alter and expresses affection and esteem. Terzky and Illo speak of Octavio as der Alte, the Old Man: they are respectful and wary.

209 Wallenstein’s response to Max makes an interesting contrast with Octavio’s, Picc., Act I, scene 4, at line 406, and Act V, scene 1, at line 2206.

210 Max’s triad is capacity, nobility, and freedom. The negation of these qualities is incapacity.

211 The ancient salamander was said to live in fire. Paracelsus assigned the salamander fire as its element; hence the connotation of purity. Earth, another element, is less pure and associated with evil and with treasure, also a source of evil.

212 Caesar, returning from Gaul, led his legions across the Rubicon, a small river outside Rome and the boundary beyond which no army was permitted to pass, and took Rome. He was responding to his enemies’ attempt to have him removed from his command. Caesar’s luck was legendary, as was Wallenstein’s. If one extends Wallenstein’s line of comparison to the way that Caesar died, an irony emerges.

213 Wallenstein’s retelling of the incident before Lützen. Octavio’s account is at Picc., Act I, scene 3, line 313.

214 Johan Banér, Swedish general.

215 Wallenstein’s response to the capture of Sesina was, “An evil accident!” Act I, scene 3, line 86 and line 92.

216 The microcosm is the human being, the little world, which corresponds to the macrocosm, the world at large.

217 Rhyme makes these assertions even more positive and sententious.

218 The Tiefenbachers have been admired since Camp, end of scene 10.

219 Isolani believes Octavio has convened a number of commanders.

220 Isolani’s faro bank, first mentioned at Picc., Act I, scene 1.

221 Picc., Act IV, scene 6, at line 1948. This is the interview Octavio has been contemplating since he told Questenberg he knows a way to righten Buttler’s wrongheadedness, Picc., Act I, scene 3, at line 246. See also Buttler’s impenetrable allusions in conversation with Terzky and Illo, Picc., Act IV, scene 4, at line 1770.

222 Buttler tells Illo that Gallas tried to keep him at Frauenberg, Picc., Act I, scene 1, line 36.

223 Octavio’s knowing how to righten Buttler’s wrongheadedness (Picc., Act I, scene 3, line 246) implies that his possession of the letter is not by chance.

224 That confirmation was being withheld by Vienna. See Picc., Act I, scene 1, line 46.

225 The expression has two valences: it is both rhetorical, in the sense, “A pox upon him!” and literal, as Octavio may or may not have understood.

226 Buttler’s rapid exit precludes any further development of the conversation.

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