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Wallenstein

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Friedrich Schiller

The Death of Wallenstein. A tragedy in five acts

Act Four

Texte intégral

1In the House of the Mayor at Eger

Scene One

  • 270 The figure of Buttler presides over the action henceforth.

BUTTLER (just arriving).270
He has come in. His fate has led him here.
The sliding gate has fallen shut behind him.
Just as the drawbridge that he crossed came down
And rose again, just so is rescue now cut [2350]
Off. Thus far, Friedland, and no further! says
The fateful goddess. Your steep meteor rose
From the Bohemian earth and traced its bright path
Across the heavens; on the border of
Bohemia it must now descend again.
You turned your back on the old banners, yet,
Deceived, struck blind, you trust in your old luck!
You armed your evil hand to take the war
Into the Kaiser’s country, to throw over
The Lares who protect the sacred hearth. [2360]
Be on your guard! You’re driven by a low
Wish for revenge—revenge may yet undo you.

Scene Two

2Buttler and Gordon.

  • 271 Gordon, like Isolani, Questenburg, Max, and the Duchess, is characterized instantly by the way he (...)
  • 272 The Sergeant describes Wallenstein’s parity with the Kaiser in other terms, Camp, scene 11, at lin (...)
  • 273 But see Buttler’s last conversation with Octavio, Act II, scene 6, at line 1140.
  • 274 See, for comparison, Isolani’s moment of conversion, Act II, scene 5, at line 976.
  • 275 Pages were usually young nobles beginning a career at the court of a prince.
  • 276 Wallenstein’s history recedes into earlier and earlier beginnings as the drama advances toward its (...)
  • 277 Dictator as Caesar was dictator: a commander with unlimited powers of command.

GORDON. It’s you? Oh, how I’ve longed to speak with you!
The Duke a traitor? God have mercy on us!
In flight? A ban upon his princely head!
I beg you, General, tell me in detail
How all these things in Pilsen came about.271
BUTTLER. Did you receive the letter that I sent
Ahead by special messenger from Pilsen?
GORDON. And faithfully discharged what you had ordered: [2350]
Opened the fortress to him absolutely,
For an Imperial letter orders me
To follow blindly your command, no other.
But, pardon! When I saw the Prince himself
Just now, I had to doubt what I had heard.
In truth! It was not as an outlaw that
Duke Friedland made his entrance into Eger.
His forehead shone, as ever, bright with a
Commander’s majesty, demanding fealty;
Calmly, as in days of good order, he [2380]
Relieved me of responsibility.
Misfortune creates garrulousness, so does
Guilt; fallen greatness seeks to please and flatter,
And bends to seek the level of subalterns.
The Prince, however, weighed his words, was sparing
With his approval, as a master praises
A servant who’s done no more than his duty.
BUTTLER. It happened just exactly as I wrote you:
The Prince has sold the army to the foe,
Intends to open Prague and Eger to him. [2390]
On hearing news of this, the regiments
Have all abandoned him except for five
That belong to Terzky and have followed him here.
A ban is spoken over him, and all
True servants of the Crown are summoned to
Deliver him, be he alive or dead.
GORDON. A traitor to the Kaiser—such a man!
So highly gifted! What is human greatness!
I often said that this cannot end well.
His grandeur and his power became a trap [2400]
For him, and this dark sway of despotism.
For man, like weeds, expands, grows wild; one can
Not leave him to his own restraint. The law
Alone and unambiguous restrains him,
And ingrained custom’s moderating force.
In this man’s hands, however, power to
Make war was novel, not to say unnatural.
It made of him the Kaiser’s peer and equal,
And his proud spirit lost the art of deference.272
Oh, what a pity! Such a man! For none [2410]
Will likely stand secure where he has fallen.
BUTTLER. Save your complaint till he has need of pity;
He at the moment still is to be feared.
The Swedes are on the march, are nearing Eger;
They’ll join their armies soon unless we stop them.
This cannot be! The Prince is not to go
Again from here, for I have set my honor,
My life, no less, on making him a prisoner
Within these walls, and I count on your help.273
GORDON. If only I had never seen the day! [2420]
His very hand awarded me this post,
Entrusted to my care this stronghold that
You call upon me now to make his prison.
Subalterns, we have no will of our own;
Free men and powerful alone are privileged
To follow after their best human instincts.
Mere executioners of cruel laws
Is what we are. Obedience is the virtue
That all subalterns are forced to acquire.
BUTTLER. Do not fret at the close confines of your [2430]
Capacity. Much freedom means much error.
The narrow path of duty is secure.
GORDON. And everyone’s forsaken him, you say?
The happiness of thousands he established;
His disposition was that of a king,
His hand was ever open, making gifts,
(with a sidelong glance at Buttler)
He chose and raised so many from the dust
To highest honors and to great prestige,
And purchased by his efforts not one single
Friend who stood by him in his hour of need! [2440]
BUTTLER. He has one here whom he did not suspect.
GORDON. No favor of his was bestowed on me;
I doubt that he, in all his greatness, ever
Remembered any friend from his first youth.
My service kept me far from him, and he
Lost me from sight within the walls of Eger,
Where I, beyond the reach of grace and favor,
Remote, forgotten, could keep my heart free.
When he appointed me to keep this castle,
His duty still remained his first concern; [2450]
It’s no betrayal of his trust if I am
Faithful to what my good faith took in trust.
BUTTLER. Would you then execute the ban that’s laid
On him? Give me your help arresting him?
GORDON (reluctantly, after pausing to reflect).
If it has come to—If it’s as you say:
If he’s betrayed the Kaiser, who’s his master,
And sold the army, wants to open the
Land’s strongholds to the foe, why then there is
No saving him.274 But it’s a hard thing that,
Among all others, it is my lot to [2460]
Be chosen, used, to bring about his fall.
For we were pages at the court of Burgau
Together; I, however, was the elder.275
BUTTLER. I know of this.
GORDON. It’s thirty years now.276 The bold courage of
That twenty-year-old youth already strove.
He showed a seriousness beyond his years;
He walked among us, silent, like a man, his
Attention always turned on greater things,
His own best company; our pleasures, those [2470]
Of boys and childish, held no charm for him.
But sometimes he was seized quite strangely. Thoughts
In streams, thoughts luminous and sensible,
Would then escape from his uncanny heart
And leave us boys astounded, asking ourselves
If this were madness or a god had spoken.
BUTTLER. And there he fell two stories, having
Dozed off in the embrasure of a window.
He then picked himself up again, unhurt,
But since then, they say, he’s known bouts of madness. [2480]
GORDON. It’s true that he became reflective, he
Turned Catholic. His miraculous salvation
Converted him. And henceforth he thought himself
A favored one, one who’d been liberated.
As bold as one who’s safe from ever tumbling,
He ran along the slack rope that is life.
Fate then led us away from one another,
Far, far away. He took the path of greatness;
I watched him scale the heights there, moving quickly,
Become first count, then prince, then duke, dictator;277 [2490]
And now the world’s too small for him; he would
Put out his hand and capture a king’s crown,
And plunges into bottomless perdition.
BUTTLER. Leave off. He’s coming.

Scene Three

  • 278 The conversation with the Mayor puts Wallenstein’s social elegance and affability on display, whic (...)

3Wallenstein in conversation with the Mayor of Eger.278 As above.

  • 279 That is to say, a free city and immediate to the Kaiser.
  • 280 Wallenstein cites his indifference to confession as he threatens to resign, Picc., Act II, scene 7 (...)
  • 281 The two branches of the House of Habsburg, on the Spanish and the Austrian throne.
  • 282 The Ottoman Turks, who stood at the gates of Vienna as late as 1683, were still greatly feared.
  • 283 They were moving northwestward; to the left lay Germany.
  • 284 Towns in the Upper Palatinate, in Germany, approximately forty kilometers southwest of Eger.
  • 285 In the Erzgebirge, about fifty kilometers northeast of Eger.
  • 286 The commander of the nearby Swedish force.

WALLENSTEIN. You were once a free city? I see that
You carry a half-eagle in your blazon.
Why only half?
MAYOR. Once we were free Imperial,279
But for two hundred years we have been pawned
To the Bohemian crown. Thus the half-eagle.
The lower part is cancelled till it please [2500]
The Empire to redeem us.
WALLENSTEIN. You’d deserve
Your freedom. Ever prudent! Lend no ear
To restive elements. How steeply are you
Taxed?
MAYOR (shrugs). So that we can hardly meet the burden.
The garrison is kept at our expense.
WALLENSTEIN. You ought to have relief. But tell me now,
Are there still Protestants here in the city?
(The Mayor starts.) Oh, yes. I know. There’re many still concealed
Within these walls. Confess it freely: you, too—
Not so? [2510]
(He fixes him. The Mayor takes fright.)
But have no fear. I, too, detest
The Jesuits. If I had my way, they’d long be
Beyond our borders. Missal, Bible, it’s
All one to me.280 And I have proved it to
The world: I had a church for Lutherans built
At Glogau. Tell me, Mayor, what’s your name?
MAYOR. Pachhälbel, my illustrious Prince.
WALLENSTEIN. Listen, but don’t tell anyone what I
Tell you in confidence.
(Laying his hand on his shoulder, with a certain solemnity.)
The day’s at hand.
The high shall fall, the lowly be raised up. Guard
This secret! Two-fold Spanish rule281 approaches [2520]
Its end. New order introduces itself.
You saw the three moons recently?
MAYOR. With horror.
WALLENSTEIN. Two took the form of bloody daggers, vanished.
One only, in the middle, stayed and shone.
MAYOR. We thought it meant the Turks.282
WALLENSTEIN. The Turks! Oh, no.
Two empires will go down in bloody combat,
To east and west of us, I tell you. And the
Lutheran confession only will survive.
(He notices the two others.)
We all heard heavy firing on our left283
As we approached at evening. Did you hear? [2530]
GORDON. We heard it clearly in the fort, my General.
The south wind carried the report to us.
BUTTLER. It seemed to come from Neustadt or from Weiden.284
WALLENSTEIN. That is the side from which the Swedes are coming.
How strong exactly is the garrison?
GORDON. One hundred eighty able-bodied men
And invalids.
WALLENSTEIN. In Jochimsthal how many?285
GORDON. Two hundred Arquebusiers have been sent there
To reinforce the post against the Swedes.
WALLENSTEIN. Admirable foresight. Breastworks, too, are being [2540]
Erected; I observed them as we entered.
GORDON. Because the Rhinegrave286 presses us so hard
I had two bulwarks hastily put up.
WALLENSTEIN. You are precise in service to your Kaiser;
I am content with you, Lieutenant Colonel.
(To Buttler.)
The post in Jochimsthal is to withdraw
With all who stand against the enemy.
(To Gordon.)
I put my wife, my child, my sister in
Your faithful hands, Commander. For I’ll not
Remain here long. I’ve stopped for letters only. [2550]
I leave the fort tomorrow at first light
And I shall take the regiments all with me.

Scene Four

4As above. Count Terzky.

  • 287 A town in the Upper Palatinate, about twenty kilometers south of Eger
  • 288 Town in Bohemia, about twenty-five kilometers southeast of Eger.

TERZKY. Good news! You’ll like this.
WALLENSTEIN. What then?
TERZKY. An encounter
Took place near Neustadt and the Swedes prevailed.
WALLENSTEIN.
What’s this you’re saying? Where’d you hear these things?
TERZKY. A peasant brought the news from Tirschenreut,287
Said it began at end of day, near dark;
Imperial Riders coming out of Tachau288
Attacked the Swedish camp, broke in, set off an
Exchange of fire that lasted two full hours, [2560]
Cost them one thousand men, no less, among
Whom was their colonel. More he couldn’t say.
WALLENSTEIN. Riders in Neustadt? How did they get there?
That Altringer—he’d have to have had wings,
Stood yesterday good fourteen miles away;
Gallas is mustering still at Frauenberg
And isn’t nearly ready yet. Would Suys
Have ventured so far forward? This does not
Make sense.
(Illo appears.)
TERZKY. We’ll find out soon enough. Here’s Illo.
He’s in a rush and looking very pleased. [2570]

Scene Five

5Illo. As above.

ILLO (to Wallenstein).
A mounted courier—he’s asking for you.
TERZKY. Do you have confirmation of that victory?
WALLENSTEIN. Who sent him? What’s his message?
ILLO. From the Rhinegrave.
I’ll let you know right now what news he brings.
The Swedes are standing just five miles from here.
Near Neustadt, Piccolomini threw himself
On them with his whole cavalry; there followed
An indescribable two-sided slaughter,
But in the end the greater number won:
The Pappenheimers, every one of them, [2580]
And Max, who led them, perished on the spot.
WALLENSTEIN. Where is this courier? I’ll speak with him.
(He is about to leave. The Lady Companion rushes into the room,
followed by Servants who run through the Hall.)
NEUBRUNN. Help! Help!
ILLO and TERZKY. What is it?
NEUBRUNN. My Young Lady—
WALLENSTEIN and TERZKY. She’s heard?
NEUBRUNN. She wants to die.

6(She hurries out. Wallenstein and Terzky, with Illo, rush after her.)

Scene Six

7Buttler and Gordon.

  • 289 These are Terzky’s regiments.
  • 290 Like Buttler’s avowal at line 2416, subject to doubt.
  • 291 Two senses of “judgment” are in play here. For Gordon, judgment comes at the conclusion of a trial (...)
  • 292 At Neustadt; see at line 2576.

GORDON (astonished).
What is the meaning of this scene? Explain.
BUTTLER. She’s lost the man she loved—the fallen colonel.
GORDON. Unhappy lady!
BUTTLER. You’ve heard the news this Illo brought us, how
The Swedes, who won at Neustadt, are approaching.
GORDON. Indeed I have. [2590]
BUTTLER. They are twelve regiments,
Five more are here—all to defend the Duke.289
My single regiment is all we have,
A mere two hundred in the garrison—
GORDON. Quite right.
BUTTLER. With such small numbers we’ve no chance of holding
A prisoner of the state.
GORDON. That I can see.
BUTTLER. With their superior numbers, our small clutch
Of men’s soon overcome, our prisoner freed.
GORDON. That’s to be feared.
BUTTLER (after a pause).
I warrant for the outcome here. It’s with [2600]
My head I answer for delivering his.
I’m bound to keep my word, wherever that may
Lead.290 If we cannot hold him here alive,
To hold him dead’s a certainty.
GORDON. Have I heard you correctly? You—you could—
BUTTLER. He’s not to live.
GORDON. That you could do?
BUTTLER. Or you or I. He’s seen his last day dawn
GORDON. You’d murder him?
BUTTLER. Just such is my resolve.
GORDON. But he’s entrusted to you!
BUTTLER. His hard fate!
GORDON. His person’s sacred! [2610]
BUTTLER. That’s what he once was.
GORDON. No crime wipes out what he once was! And with-
Out judgment?
BUTTLER. Execution stands for judgment.
GORDON. That would be murder; that’s no justice. Justice
Must hear the guiltiest parties, even them.
BUTTLER. His guilt is clear: the Kaiser has passed judgment.
We only execute what he decrees.
GORDON. One does not rush a capital crime to judgment;
A word’s retracted, execution never.291
BUTTLER. A quick dispatch will always please a king.
GORDON. No decent man dispatches hangman’s service. [2620]
BUTTLER. No man of courage blanches at bold action.
GORDON. Courage would risk its life but not its conscience.
BUTTLER. Is he to go scot-free? Shall he go free to
Rekindle this war’s quenchless flame? Shall he?
GORDON. Then take him prisoner; there’s no need to kill him;
Do not anticipate the mercy angel.
BUTTLER. Had the Imperial forces not been beaten,292
I gladly would have held him here alive.
GORDON. Oh, that I ever opened these gates to him!
BUTTLER. It’s not this place, it’s his fate takes his life. [2630]
GORDON. I would have fallen chivalrously atop
These walls, defending this fort for the Kaiser.
BUTTLER. But at a cost of legions of brave men—
GORDON.—In line of duty: that which does men honor;
Murder, however, is abhorred by Nature.
BUTTLER (offering a document).
Here is the manifest that orders us
To take him. Notice it’s addressed to you as
To me. Do you assume the consequences,
If by our fault he flees and joins the foe?
GORDON. I, who am powerless? Oh, God above! [2640]
BUTTLER. Take all the consequences on yourself,
Assume the cost. I leave it up to you.
GORDON. God help me!
BUTTLER. If you know another way
To do the Kaiser’s will, produce it now:
I’d rather cause his fall than take his life.
GORDON. Oh, God! I see what has to be as clear
As you do, but my heart speaks differently.
BUTTLER. This Terzky, Illo, too, shall not survive him.
GORDON. Oh, those two I do not regret. What drove
Them was their wicked hearts and not the stars. [2650]
They sowed the seed of evil passions in
His heart and nursed the sorrow-bearing fruit
With busy interest. May they know in full
The wicked wages of their wicked ways!
BUTTLER. And they’re to be dispatched before the Duke.
It’s all agreed upon. We’d thought that we’d
Take them alive this evening at a banquet
And hold them here. But this is faster. I go
Now to dispense the necessary orders.

Scene Seven

8As above. Illo and Terzky.

  • 293 The remark reflects not only on Max but also on Buttler.
  • 294 By “Austria” is meant the House of Austria. Illo’s boast is treasonous.
  • 295 Where the banquet is to be held that evening.

TERZKY. Things will be different now. Tomorrow early [2660]
Twelve thousand valiant Swedes come marching in.
Then to Vienna! Merrily, old fellow!
Don’t make so sour a face at such good news!
ILLO. It’s our turn now. Now we lay down the law.
We’ll take revenge on all the sorry rascals
Who have deserted us. One’s paid the price
Before the rest: that Piccolomini.
His fate befall them all! Oh, what a blow
For the Old Man. He’s spent his whole long life
Contriving princely honors to raise his old [2670]
Count’s house, and now he’s lost his only son!
BUTTLER. Still, it’s a shame about that boy. He had a
Hero’s heart. One saw how it grieved the Duke.293
ILLO. Listen, old friend! That’s what I never liked
About the Duke; it always angered me:
He loved the Latins more. And to this day,
Upon my soul, he’d see us ten times dead,
If he could bring his friend to life again.
TERZKY. Enough! No more! The dead should rest in peace.
Today we see who can outdrink the others. [2680]
Your regiment plays host to all of us.
We’ll make the lustiest Shrovetide of it, turn
Night into day, and then receive the Swedes,
Their avant-garde, our glasses brimming over.
ILLO. Today and all night long let us make merry,
For hot days lie ahead. This sword won’t rest
Till it has drunk its fill of Austria’s blood.294
GORDON. What way of talking is this, Field Marshal!
Why would you rage against your Kaiser so—
BUTTLER. Don’t hope too much from this first victory. [2690]
Be mindful how soon Fortune’s wheel is turned.
The Kaiser’s not defeated yet—far from it.
ILLO. The Kaiser has his soldiers—no field captain,
For this King Ferdinand of Hungary
Does not know war. And Gallas? Has no luck;
He is, has always been, a hopeless bungler.
That snake Octavio can strike you in
The heel, but not match Friedland in the field.
TERZKY. It can’t go wrong, just believe me. Luck will not
Desert the Duke; it’s widely known that Austria [2700]
Can triumph only under Wallenstein.
ILLO. The Prince will be the first to gather a
Great army. All the world is streaming in,
Drawn by the ancient glory of his banners.
I see the old days coming back;
He’ll be again the great man that he was,
And all those who deserted him will see,
Dismayed, how they’ve poked themselves in the eye.
For he’ll enrich his friends with vast estates,
Give kaiser’s wages for all loyal service, [2710]
And we are first in line to taste his bounty.
(To Gordon.)
And you he will remember, too, will lift
You out of this backwater, let your good faith
Display its glory in a higher posting.
GORDON. I am content, have no desire to climb
Still higher; great heights always mean great depths.
ILLO. You’ll have no further say here soon enough,
The Swedes will occupy the fort tomorrow.
Come, Terzky, it will soon be time for dinner.
How’s this idea? We’ll have the whole town lighted [2720]
In honor of the Swedish army. One who
Refuses is a Spaniard and a traitor.
TERZKY. Stop that! You know the Duke dislikes such talk.
ILLO. Oh, nonsense! We’re the masters here. No one
Sides with the Kaiser where we are in charge.
Gordon, good night. The last time we commend
The place to your protection; send patrols
Out, and for safety you can change the password.
The stroke of ten, you bring the Duke the keys
Yourself. Your time as turnkey’s run its course; [2730]
The Swedes will occupy the fort tomorrow.
TERZKY (leaving, to Buttler).
You’re coming to the castle ?295
BUTTLER. In good time.

9(Exeunt Terzky, Illo.)

Scene Eight

10Buttler and Gordon.

  • 296 Archimedes, at work in Syracuse, was surprised by Roman soldiers and slain when he would not leave (...)
  • 297 At Neustadt.
  • 298 Buttler’s third citing of a word of honor. See at line 2600.

GORDON (gazing after them).
What lost souls! With no inkling whatsoever
They rush ahead into the nets that death
Has spread them, blinded by their certain triumph.
No one regrets them. Illo there, arch-villain,
Impudent knave, who’d drink his Kaiser’s blood!
BUTTLER. Do as he orders you: send out patrols
And make the fort secure; once they’re up there,
I’ll lock up every entry of that castle, [2740]
So that the town knows nothing of the deed.
GORDON (anxious).
No need to rush so. Tell me first—
BUTTLER. You heard:
Tomorrow belongs to Sweden. We’ve but tonight.
They’re fast and we’ll be faster yet. Farewell!
GORDON. Oh, God! Your glances augur nothing good.
I beg you, promise me—
BUTTLER. The sun is down.
A fateful evening rises. Their conceit
Meanwhile makes them cocksure. And yet, the while,
Their evil star delivers them defenseless
Into our hands. Amid their drunken reveling [2750]
Our sharpened steel will slice their hearts in two.
The Prince was always a great reckoner;
Nothing there was he could not calculate.
He could set men, he could manipulate
Them like chess pieces, make them serve his ends.
He had no scruple. He toyed with the honor,
Good name, and dignity of fellow men,
And calculated on and on until
His reckoning went wrong. His life slipped into
His calculation, and like Archimedes [2760]
He dies among his calculated circles.296
GORDON. This is no time to contemplate his faults!
Think rather of his greatness, of his kindness,
Of all about him that was lovable,
Of all the noble deeds he did in life.
Let them, like angels pleading mercy, block
The sword raised fatefully above his head.
BUTTLER. It is too late. I’ll feel no pity at
This point. I must think only bloody thoughts.
(Seizing Gordon’s hand.)
Just hear me, Gordon! It’s not hate that drives me— [2770]
I’ve no love for the Duke, not without reason—
But it’s not hate that makes of me a murderer.
His evil fate—bad luck, ill fortune—drives me,
The hostile constellation of all things.
Man thinks he acts as a free agent. Wrong!
He is a plaything of blind forces that spin
Free choice soon into grim necessity.
What would it help him if I heard my heart
Speak for him—I must kill him nonetheless.
GORDON. If your heart warns you, follow its direction. [2780]
The heart speaks in God’s voice. The works of men
Are calculations, are mere cleverness.
What do you hope to gain from bloody deeds?
No good will ever come of spilling blood!
Is this your stairway to the stars, to greatness?
Don’t believe it. Murder from time to time brings joy
To kings; the murderer, though, can never do so.
BUTTLER. You do not know, don’t ask. Why did the Swedes
Have to prevail,297 why do they come so quickly!
I’d like to leave him to the Kaiser’s mercy. [2790]
Nor do I want his blood; I’d let him live.
But I must keep my sacred word of honor298
And he must die, or else—hear me and believe—
I am dishonored if the Prince escapes.
GORDON. To save the life of such a man—
BUTTLER (quickly). What?
GORDON.—Is worth some sacrifice. Be noble-minded!
One’s honored by one’s heart, not one’s opinions.
BUTTLER (cold and proud).
The Prince is a great lord, and I am but
A little man—that’s what you’re saying. What
Does it concern the world at large, you think,
If base-born men do themselves honor or not,
So long as princes are preserved in standing.
Each man awards himself his worth. How I
Evaluate myself is my affair.
No one on earth is placed so high that I
Despise myself when I am placed beside him.
It is one’s will that makes one great or small;
Because I’m true to mine, he has to die.
GORDON. I’d as soon try to move a rocky crag!
Alas! No man begot you humanly. [2810]
I cannot stop you. One can only hope
Some god will save him from your fearsome hand.

11(Exeunt.)

Scene Nine

12A Room in the quarters of the Duchess.

13Thekla seated in a chair, pale, her eyes closed. The Duchess and the Lady Companion attend her. Wallenstein and the Countess in conversation.

WALLENSTEIN. How came she to find out so soon?
COUNTESS. She seems
To have suspected some misfortune. Word
About a battle frightened her in which an
Imperial colonel was said to have fallen.
I saw it happening: She flew to meet
The Swedish courier, questioned him and gained
The dreadful secret from him right away.
We missed her far too late; we hurried after [2820]
And found her lying, fainted, in his arms.
WALLENSTEIN. Completely unprepared to meet this blow!
(Turned to the Duchess.)
Poor child! How is she? Is she coming to?
DUCHESS. She’s opening her eyes.
COUNTESS. She stirs!
THEKLA (looking about). Where am I?
WALLENSTEIN (goes to her and raises her in his arms).
Wake up, my child. Be strong and brave, my girl.
That is your mother; Father’s arms embrace you.
THEKLA (sitting up straight).
Where is he? Has he gone away?
DUCHESS. But who, my daughter?
THEKLA. The one who brought the news—
DUCHESS. Don’t think of him, my child. Try, turn your thoughts [2830]
Aside. Such an unhappy recollection!
WALLENSTEIN. Oh, let her sorrow speak! Let her complain!
Weep with her, mix your tears with hers. She’s had
To bear great pain. But she can stand it, for
My Thekla has her father’s matchless heart.
THEKLA. Don’t think I’m sick. I’m strong enough to stand.
Why’s Mother weeping? Have I frightened her?
It’s passed now and my head is clear again.
(She has stood up; her gaze sweeps the room.)
Where is he? Don’t conceal him from me. I’ve
Regained my strength; I now want to hear him. [2840]
DUCHESS. No, Thekla. Such a bearer of misfortune
Should never come before your eyes again.
THEKLA. Father—
WALLENSTEIN. My child!
THEKLA. I am not weak at all,
And soon I shall be even stronger still.
Grant me a favor.
WALLENSTEIN. What you like. Tell me.
THEKLA. Summon this stranger. Let me speak with him
Alone, put questions to him.
DUCHESS. No, indeed!
COUNTESS. No! That’s not prudent! Do not grant her wish!
WALLENSTEIN. Why would you want to speak with him, my child?
THEKLA. I’m more composed if I know everything. [2850]
I’ll not be second-guessed. My mother wants
To spare me. Sparing is not what I want.
I’ve heard the worst of it already, worse
There cannot be.
COUNTESS and DUCHESS (to Wallenstein).
Oh, do not do it. No!
THEKLA. My horror took me by surprise. My heart
Betrayed me in the presence of a stranger,
Made him a witness of my weakness; why,
I sank into his arms. That shames me. I
Would reestablish myself in his esteem,
And, absolutely, I must speak with him, so [2860]
That for my weakness he not think me less.
WALLENSTEIN. I find that she is right and am inclined
To grant this wish of hers. Let him be called.
(The Lady Companion goes out.)
DUCHESS. I, as your mother, must be present here.
THEKLA. I’d rather speak with him alone, for that
Enables me to summon more composure.
WALLENSTEIN (to the Duchess).
Just let it be. Let her resolve it with him
Alone. There’s pain that one must heal oneself.
A valiant heart will call on its own courage.
She’ll have to find the strength to bear this blow [2870]
In her own breast, not in that of another.
My strong girl! I’ll not see her treated like a
Woman, but rather like a heroine.
(He is about to go.)
COUNTESS (holding him back).
Where are you going? I heard Terzky say
You plan to march out early and intend
To leave us here.
WALLENSTEIN. Yes, you will have to stay.
I’ve put brave men in charge of your protection.
COUNTESS. Oh, take us with you, Brother. Do not leave
Us here in gloomy solitude, awaiting
The outcome of your action, sick with worry. [2880]
Present misfortune is borne easily;
Misgiving grows, however, horribly
When one awaits the news at a great distance.
WALLENSTEIN. Who said “misfortune”? Choose your words more aptly.
I entertain quite different hopes.
COUNTESS. Then take us with you. Do not leave us here
In these surroundings, this place of bad omen.
My heart weighs heavily within these walls,
And their damp fetid breath reeks of the crypt.
I cannot tell you how this place disgusts me. [2890]
Take us away! Come, Sister! You beg, too.
Ask him to take us with him. Help me, Niece.
WALLENSTEIN. I’ll change the auguries of these damp stones,
Make this the treasure house of all I love.
NEUBRUNN (returning).
The Swedish gentleman!
WALLENSTEIN. We’ll leave her with him. (Exit.)
DUCHESS (to Thekla).
How you grow pale, my child. You cannot speak
With him. Not possibly. Attend your mother.
THEKLA. Then we’ll let Neubrunn stay close by me.

14(Exeunt Duchess and Countess.)

Scene Ten

15Thekla. The Swedish Captain. The Lady Companion.

  • 299 Thekla returns to this line at the end of the interview (line 2970), closing the circle.

CAPTAIN (approaching respectfully).
My Lady—I ask that you pardon me.
My hasty word, want of reflection— [2900]
THEKLA (with noble self-possession).
You saw me in my pain, in my bereavement.299
Unhappy circumstance changed you too soon from
A stranger, made of you my intimate.
CAPTAIN. I fear that you must hate the sight of me
For bringing you such sorrowful report.
THEKLA. The fault is mine. I forced it from you— I did—
While you were but the voice of destiny.
My horror interrupted the account
You had begun. I bid you now continue.
CAPTAIN (hesitating).
My Lady—Princess—it will cause you pain. [2910]
THEKLA. I am prepared for that. I will it so.
Tell. How did the encounter open? Tell all.
CAPTAIN. Expecting no attack, we stood encamped
And lightly fortified near Neustadt, when
Toward evening we observed a cloud of dust
Rise from the wood. Our Scouts, escaping back
To camp at speed, announced: The enemy!
We had just time enough to throw ourselves
On horseback, there the Pappenheimers came
In full career, broke through our barricade, [2920]
And leapt the trench we’d drawn around the camp.
But they, urged on by courage, had outrun
The rest; their Infantry was far behind;
The mounted Pappenheimers, they alone,
Had boldly followed their bold captain—
(He stops at a gesture from Thekla, then continues at her signal.)
Our Cavalry opposed them on the front
And flanks and pushed them back against the trench,
Where all our Infantry, assembled quickly,
Received them with a grid of pikes extended.
Caught, they could not advance, could not retreat, [2930]
Found themselves wedged between our closing lines.
The Rhinegrave then called to their captain, bade him
Yield honorably, acknowledging fair combat,
But Colonel Piccolomini—
(Thekla, feeling faint, reaches for a chair.)
we knew him
By his aigrette and by his streaming hair,
Come loose in his full gallop toward attack—
Points to the trench, leaps his mount back across;
His regiment then plunges after. But—
Too late—His charger, piked, rears up wildly
And throws the rider, over whom the full force [2940]
Of all his Horse then thunders, unrestrained.
(Thekla, who has followed the account with growing anxiety, is seized by trembling and about to fall. The Lady Companion hurries to receive her in her arms.)

  • 300 Or about thirty English miles.

NEUBRUNN. My dearest Lady—
CAPTAIN (touched). I should take my leave.
THEKLA. It’s passed now. You may finish. Please continue.
CAPTAIN. His men were seized with rage to see him fall;
Giving no thought to their own safety, they
Fight on like tigers, and their adamant
Resistance stirs our own to equal fury;
Their combat rages on until the last
Man’s fallen, the whole corps has been destroyed.
THEKLA (her voice trembling).
And where—Where is—You’ve not yet told me all. [2950]
CAPTAIN (after a pause).
We buried him this morning. Twelve young men
Of noblest houses carried him; the whole
Army accompanied his wreathed bier,
On which the Rhinegrave had laid his own sword.
We mourned him truly: many of our number
Had known his gentle manners, his great heart,
And all were touched to see his fate. The Rhine-
Grave gladly would have saved him, had he not
Prevented it. They say he wished to die.
NEUBRUNN (touched, to Thekla, who has covered her face).
My dearest Lady! Look at me, my Lady! [2960]
Oh, why did you insist on hearing this?
THEKLA. Where is his grave?
CAPTAIN. He’s laid in earth near Neustadt—
It’s in the chapel of a cloister—until
Word of his father’s wishes reaches us.
THEKLA. The cloister’s called—?
CAPTAIN. Saint Katharine’s Court.
THEKLA. And it’s how far from here?
CAPTAIN. It’s seven miles.300
THEKLA. How does one reach it?
CAPTAIN. One goes through our posts
At Tirschenreut and Falkenberg to start.
THEKLA. Who’s the commander?
CAPTAIN. Colonel Seckendorf.
THEKLA (taking a ring from a jewel box).
You saw me in my pain, in my bereavement; [2970]
You’ve shown me a kind heart. Receive this token
(giving him the ring)
In memory of this moment. You may go.
CAPTAIN (startled). My Princess—

16(Thekla signals him to go and quits him. The Captain hesitates, wishing to speak. The Lady Companion repeats the signal. He leaves the scene.)

Scene Eleven

17Thekla. Neubrunn.

  • 301 Thekla, too, is going on a pilgrimage.
  • 302 Thekla speaks plainly enough.

THEKLA (embracing Neubrunn).
And now, good Neubrunn, show me all the love
That you have praised me for and prove yourself
A loyal friend, a tried and true companion!
We must set out, now, in the night.
NEUBRUNN. Now? Where to?
THEKLA. Where to? There is but one place in the world!
To where he’s lying buried, to his grave.
NEUBRUNN. But what shall you do there, my dearest Lady? [2980]
THEKLA. You’d not ask, had you ever loved, poor child.
There, only there, lies all that’s left of him;
That single spot to me is all the world.
Oh, don’t delay me. Come, let us begin.
First we must find how we’ll escape from here.
NEUBRUNN. Your father’s anger—have you thought of that?
THEKLA. No more. For no man’s anger frightens me.
NEUBRUNN. The world’s contempt! Its blame! Its wagging tongues!
THEKLA. I go to seek a man who is no more.
Is it into his arms that I would go? [2990]
God, no. Into his grave, that’s where I go.
NEUBRUNN. But just the two of us? Two helpless women?
THEKLA. We’ll carry weapons. You’ll be safe with me.
NEUBRUNN. In darkest night?
THEKLA. We’ll be concealed by night.
NEUBRUNN. A night with such a storm?
THEKLA. Was he spared, lying
Beneath the hooves of wild retreating horses?
NEUBRUNN. Oh, God! And then the many enemy posts!
They’ll never let us through.
THEKLA. These are but men,
And sorrow wanders freely through the world.
NEUBRUNN. But it’s so far— [3000]
THEKLA. Do pilgrims count the miles
On pilgrimages to a distant shrine?301
NEUBRUNN. How shall we ever come out of the city?
THEKLA. Gold opens every gate. Now go, just go.
NEUBRUNN. And if they know us?
THEKLA. They should take a woman
Fleeing, despairing, to be Friedland’s daughter?
NEUBRUNN. And where shall we find horses for our flight?
THEKLA. My master of the horse will bring them. Call him.
NEUBRUNN. He’d dare without his Lordship’s knowing it?
THEKLA. Yes, he would dare. So go now! No more delaying!
NEUBRUNN. And what will happen to your mother when 3010
She finds you missing?
THEKLA (staring straight ahead, thoughtful and pained).
Mother! Oh, my mother!
NEUBRUNN. She’s suffered so much for so long, your mother;
Is she to suffer this last blow as well?
THEKLA. I cannot spare her. Go now, please. Just go.
NEUBRUNN. Consider carefully what you are doing.
THEKLA. All is considered that can be considered.
NEUBRUNN. And once we’re there, what shall become of you?
THEKLA. There I’ll look to a god for inspiration.
NEUMANN. You have no peace of mind, my Lady, and this
Wild journey through the night can’t lead to peace. [3020]
THEKLA. To deepest peace, the peace that he has found.302
Oh, go! Be quick! Enough of all this chatter!
I’m pulled away—I don’t know what to call it—
Pulled irresistibly to find his grave!
There I shall find relief immediately!
This suffocating sash of pain will be
Released, my dammed up tears will flow at last.
Oh, go. We could have set out long ago.
I’ll find no peace until I have escaped
These walls; they’re falling in on me, collapsing. [3030]
Oh, some dark force ejects me, drives me out
Away from here. What kind of feeling is this?
The rooms of this house fill themselves for me more
And more with pallid, hollow spectral shapes;
I can no longer find space here. Still more!
This horrifying grim assembly drives me,
Alive still, out, forth from these crushing walls!
NEUBRUNN. You’ve thrown me into such a pitch of terror,
My Lady, that I dare not stay myself.
I’m going now. I’ll summon Rosenberg. (Exit.) [3040]

Scene Twelve

18Thekla.

His spirit is what calls me. It’s the troop
Of loyal men who sacrificed themselves
For him, avenged him. They charge me with dawdling.
Even in death they’d not abandon him,
Who led them while they lived. These simple men
Did such a thing, and I should still live on? No!
The somber laurel wreath that graced your bier
Was also wound for me, its bright leaves darkly gleaming.
Without love’s brightness what worth has life here?
I now discard it; it has lost its meaning. [3050]
Oh, when I found you, you so bright and beaming
With love, my life found priceless worth. There lay
Before me, splendid, new, a golden day;
I dreamt two shining hours, their glory streaming.
You stood upon my threshold to the world,
Which I traversed aquake with cloistral shyness,
Stood where a thousand shining planets whirled,
Stood as my guardian angel, wings unfurled
To lift me from a childhood’s magic wryness
Straight up onto life’s peak, its sun-struck highness. [3060]
I knew a joy like none I’d known since birth,
A gift from you, my best on earth.
(She falls into reflection, then continues, shuddering.)
Fate overtakes us. Raw and cold
It snatches my friend’s life into its hold,
Flings him beneath the fell hooves of his horses:
The fate of beauty that the world enforces.

Scene Thirteen

19Thekla. The Lady Companion with the Equerry.

  • 303 The Rosenbergs were an extinct line of Bohemian nobility. The office of master of the horse carrie (...)

NEUBRUNN. My Lady, here he is and he is willing.
THEKLA. Will you procure us horses, Rosenberg ?303
EQUERRY. Yes, I’ll procure them.
THEKLA. And accompany us?
EQUERRY. My Lady, to the end of the world. [3070]
THEKLA. You can’t
Return then to the Duke.
EQUERRY. I’ll stay with you.
THEKLA. I’ll
Reward you and commend you to another.
And can you lead us from the fort unseen?
EQUERRY. I can.
THEKLA. When can I go?
EQUERRY. This very hour.
Your destination?
THEKLA. To—You tell him, Neubrunn.
NEUBRUNN. To Neustadt.
EQUERRY. Fine. I’ll go make the arrangements. (Exit.)
NEUBRUNN. My Lady, here’s your mother.
THEKLA. Oh, dear God!

Scene Fourteen

20Thekla. The Lady Companion. The Duchess.

  • 304 “Sleep” has two values.

DUCHESS. He’s gone now, and I find that you’re more calm.
THEKLA. I am. Let me lie down soon, Mother, and
Let Neubrunn stay with me. It’s rest I need. [3080]
DUCHESS. And you shall have it. I go away relieved,
Since I can reassure your father now.
THEKLA. Good night, dear Mother.
(She falls into her arms and embraces her with emotion.)
DUCHESS. Daughter, you’re not yet
Entirely calm. You’re trembling. I can feel
On mine how hard your heart is beating.
THEKLA. Sleep
Will still it soon. Good night, beloved Mother!304

21(As she leaves her mother’s arms, the Curtain falls.)

Notes

270 The figure of Buttler presides over the action henceforth.

271 Gordon, like Isolani, Questenburg, Max, and the Duchess, is characterized instantly by the way he speaks.

272 The Sergeant describes Wallenstein’s parity with the Kaiser in other terms, Camp, scene 11, at line 829.

273 But see Buttler’s last conversation with Octavio, Act II, scene 6, at line 1140.

274 See, for comparison, Isolani’s moment of conversion, Act II, scene 5, at line 976.

275 Pages were usually young nobles beginning a career at the court of a prince.

276 Wallenstein’s history recedes into earlier and earlier beginnings as the drama advances toward its close.

277 Dictator as Caesar was dictator: a commander with unlimited powers of command.

278 The conversation with the Mayor puts Wallenstein’s social elegance and affability on display, which Gordon describes at line 2385, and, like the wine cup (Picc., Act IV, scene 5), is an occasion for representing Bohemia. There is also indication—here and elsewhere—of his contempt of others’interests.

279 That is to say, a free city and immediate to the Kaiser.

280 Wallenstein cites his indifference to confession as he threatens to resign, Picc., Act II, scene 7, at line 1126.

281 The two branches of the House of Habsburg, on the Spanish and the Austrian throne.

282 The Ottoman Turks, who stood at the gates of Vienna as late as 1683, were still greatly feared.

283 They were moving northwestward; to the left lay Germany.

284 Towns in the Upper Palatinate, in Germany, approximately forty kilometers southwest of Eger.

285 In the Erzgebirge, about fifty kilometers northeast of Eger.

286 The commander of the nearby Swedish force.

287 A town in the Upper Palatinate, about twenty kilometers south of Eger

288 Town in Bohemia, about twenty-five kilometers southeast of Eger.

289 These are Terzky’s regiments.

290 Like Buttler’s avowal at line 2416, subject to doubt.

291 Two senses of “judgment” are in play here. For Gordon, judgment comes at the conclusion of a trial or hearing. For Buttler, the Kaiser’s ban is judgment; execution of that ban and execution of the outlaw are one and the same act. But even Buttler conflates murder and execution in this passage and in line 2772.

292 At Neustadt; see at line 2576.

293 The remark reflects not only on Max but also on Buttler.

294 By “Austria” is meant the House of Austria. Illo’s boast is treasonous.

295 Where the banquet is to be held that evening.

296 Archimedes, at work in Syracuse, was surprised by Roman soldiers and slain when he would not leave off studying a geometric figure.

297 At Neustadt.

298 Buttler’s third citing of a word of honor. See at line 2600.

299 Thekla returns to this line at the end of the interview (line 2970), closing the circle.

300 Or about thirty English miles.

301 Thekla, too, is going on a pilgrimage.

302 Thekla speaks plainly enough.

303 The Rosenbergs were an extinct line of Bohemian nobility. The office of master of the horse carried high responsibility and its incumbent was often a nobleman.

304 “Sleep” has two values.

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