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Friedrich Schiller

The Death of Wallenstein. A tragedy in five acts

Act Five

Texte intégral

1Buttler’s Room

Scene One305

  • 305 Act Five, like Act Two, opens on a commander giving orders to his highest lieutenant, but the qual (...)

2Buttler. Major Geraldin.

  • 306 The municipal council of the town of Eger.

BUTTLER. You’ll choose twelve stout Dragoons, whom you’ll equip
With pikes—no shot may fall—conceal them near
The banquet hall, and when the final course
Has been brought in, you burst into the room, [3090]
Crying: Who is the Kaiser’s friend? I shall
Upend the table, while you throw yourselves
On both of them and strike them down. I’ll have
The castle locked up tight and closely guarded,
So that no word of this can reach the Prince.
Go now. Have you sent after Captains Macdonald
And Deveroux?
GERALDIN. They will be here right away. (Exit.)
BUTTLER. We can’t risk a delay. The citizens are
Declaring for him, too. Who knows what madness
Has seized the city! They see in the Duke [3100]
A lord of peace, founder of a new age.
The Council306 has provided weapons and
Already hundreds would stand guard around
Him. We must move out quickly, since we are
Threatened both from without and from within.

Scene Two

  • 307 Deveroux and Macdonald were both Irishmen, apparently, and here both are captains in Buttler’s reg (...)

3Buttler. Captains Deveroux and Macdonald.307

  • 308 An Irishman found in Schiller’s sources.
  • 309 A Scot, serving under Gordon, who had an active part in the assassination. He is first mentioned a (...)
  • 310 First mentioned by the Sergeant, Camp, scene 6, at line 348.

MACDONALD. My General, here we are.
DEVEROUX. Give us the password.
BUTTLER. Long live the Kaiser!
BOTH (starting back). What?
BUTTLER. Long live the House of Austria!
DEVEROUX. But haven’t we sworn loyalty to Friedland?
MACDONALD. Have we not been brought here for his protection?
BUTTLER. Protect a traitor and the Empire’s enemy? [3110]
DEVEROUX. Well, yes. It was to him that you assigned us.
MACDONALD. And you, too, followed him to Eger. No?
BUTTLER. I did it the more surely to destroy him.
MACDONALD. That’s something else again.
BUTTLER (to Deveroux). You wretch!
Desert your flag and duty with such ease?
DEVEROUX. The devil, Master! You set the example!
If you’re a rascal, I can be one, too.
MACDONALD. We don’t think twice. That’s your responsibility.
You’re the commander and you take command.
We follow you, to Hell if necessary. [3120]
BUTTLER (appeased). All right! All right! We’re old friends.
MACDONALD. I’d think so!
DEVEROUX. Soldiers of fortune—that is what they call us.
Who offers most, he gets us.
MACDONALD. Yes, indeed.
BUTTLER. Now you’ll become a pair of honest soldiers.
DEVEROUX. We’d like to.
BUTTLER. And you’ll make your fortune, too.
MACDONALD. That’s better yet.
BUTTLER. So, listen.
BOTH. We are listening.
BUTTLER. The Kaiser’s will and his command is that
Friedland be seized, be he alive or dead.
DEVEROUX. That’s what the letter says.
MACDONALD. Alive or dead!
BUTTLER. Handsome reward in money or in kind [3130]
Awaits the one who boldly does the deed.
DEVEROUX. That sounds just good enough. A word from there
Always sounds good enough. Oh yes, we know:
A little chain of gold to show his favor,
A crippled horse, a scrap of parchment, some such.
The Prince pays better.
MACDONALD. He’s magnificent.
BUTTLER. Don’t look to him. He’s done; his star has fallen.
MACDONALD. Is that for sure?
BUTTLER. I’m telling you.
DEVEROUX. He’s lost
His luck?
BUTTLER. Lost it now and forever. He’s
As poor as we are. [3140]
MACDONALD. Him? As poor as we are?
DEVEROUX. Macdonald, in that case we’ll have to leave him.
BUTTLER. That twenty thousand have already done.
We must do more, my fellow countryman.
Put briefly, we must kill him.
BOTH (recoiling). Kill him!
BUTTLER. Kill him!
And I have chosen you two.
BOTH. Chosen us?
BUTTLER. You, Captains Deveroux and Macdonald. You!
DEVEROUX (after a pause).
Choose someone else.
MACDONALD. Yes, yes. Choose someone else.
BUTTLER (to Deveroux). Afraid, you coward? Who already have
A tidy thirty lying on your conscience—
DEVEROUX. Lay hand on the Field Marshal—think again! [3150]
MACDONALD. To whom we’ve sworn a solemn oath—just think!
BUTTLER. The oath is null—along with his good faith.
DEVEROUX. Now listen, General! This is just too monstrous.
MACDONALD. That’s true. And, after all, we have a conscience.
DEVEROUX. If it were only not our chief, who has
Commanded us so long, earned our respect.
BUTTLER. Is that the stumbling block?
DEVEROUX. Whoever else
You want! My son, my very own, if Kaiser’s
Service requires—my sword will run him through.
But don’t you see? We’re soldiers: murder the [3160]
Field marshal—that’s an outrage; that sin no
Father confessor ever can absolve.
BUTTLER. I’ll be your pope; I grant you absolution.
Make up your mind.
DEVEROUX (thinking it over). It won’t work.
MACDONALD. No. Won’t work.
BUTTLER. Well, fine. Go then. And send me Pestalutz.308
DEVEROUX (startled). Who? Pestalutz? Hm.
MACDONALD. What’s your need of him?
BUTTLER. If you’re too good for this, then there are others—
DEVEROUX. Well, if he has to fall, then we’re as good
As any other to win that reward.
Aren’t we, Macdonald? [3170]
MACDONALD. Well, it seems to me,
If he must fall and should and can’t be different,
Then we should get that prize, not Pestalutz.
DEVEROUX (having thought it over).
When’s it to be?
BUTTLER. Today. This very night.
Tomorrow we’ll have Swedes before our gates.
DEVEROUX. Will you vouch for the consequences, General?
BUTTLER. I vouch for all things.
DEVEROUX. It’s the Kaiser’s will?
His pure and simple will? We know of cases
In which the murder’s loved, the murderer less so.
BUTTLER. The manifest provides: dead or alive.
Alive’s out of the question—you, too, see— [3180]
DEVEROUX. Dead, therefore. Dead. But how are we to reach him?
The town’s packed to the top with Terzky troops.
MACDONALD. And then there’s Terzky, too, and his friend Illo—
BUTTLER. We’re going to start with them, that much is clear.
DEVEROUX. What? They as well must be—
BUTTLER. They will come first.
MACDONALD. We’re going to have a bloody evening, Deveroux.
DEVEROUX. Do you already have your man? Take me.
BUTTLER. It’s been assigned to Major Geraldin.
It’s Shrovetide and a banquet’s to be held
This evening at the castle. They will be [3190]
Attacked at table and cut down. I’ve named
Leslie309 and Pestalutz as part of it.
DEVEROUX. Look, General! It won’t cost you anything.
Look—just let Geraldin change place with me.
BUTTLER. The smaller danger will be with the Duke.
DEVEROUX. Danger! The devil! You think that of me?
It’s not his sword—it’s his eye I’m afraid of.
BUTTLER. But what harm can his eye do you?
DEVEROUX. All blazes!
You know me, you have seen that I’m no molly.
But listen—it’s not been eight days—the Duke had [3200]
Me handed twenty gold pieces to buy
This coat, this warm coat, that I’m wearing now—
And if he sees me standing there, a pike
In hand—and sees the coat—and looks at me—
Then I—then I—death take me!—I’m no molly.
BUTTLER. The Duke gave you that coat to keep you warm,
And you, poor devil, cannot bring yourself
To run him through in retribution for it.
And from the Kaiser he received a coat
That will keep him far warmer—a prince’s mantle— [3210]
And he has thanked him how? With treason, that’s how.
DEVEROUX. That’s also true. The devil take my thanks!
I’ll—do him in.
BUTTLER. And if you want to soothe
Your conscience, you need only take that coat off.
Then you can go to work in finest temper.
MACDONALD. But then there’s something else we should consider—
BUTTLER. What’s there to be considered now, Macdonald?
MACDONALD. What help are sword and shield to us with him?
He can’t be wounded. Not him. He is tight.
BUTTLER (losing his temper).
What’s he to— [3220]
MACDONALD. Tight against a shot, a blow!310
He’s frozen, loaded with the Devil’s magic;
His body is impenetrable, I say.
DEVEROUX. Oh, I remember: in Ingolstadt there was
A man, his skin was hard as steel, and in
The end they used the butt-end of a musket.
MACDONALD. I have it!
MACDONALD. There’s a Dominican friar,
An Irishman, he’ll dip my sword and pike
In holy water, say a potent blessing;
That helps protect against all kinds of magic.
BUTTLER. A good solution. Go now, both of you. [3230]
Choose twenty, thirty solid fellows from
The regiment and have them sworn to Austria.
After eleven, when the early rounds
Have passed, lead them in perfect silence to
The house, where I myself shall not be far.
DEVEROUX. And how shall we get past the sentries, past the
Guards standing watch around the inner courtyard?
BUTTLER. I have informed myself how all’s laid out.
I’ll lead you through a rearward gate that’s kept
But by a single man. My rank and office [3240]
Admit me to the Duke at any hour. I’ll
Precede you, cut that guard’s throat, clear your way.
DEVEROUX. And once we’re up there, how to reach the Duke’s
Bed chamber without waking his attendants
And having them raise the alarm—since he
Has come here with an endless retinue.
BUTTLER. The servants all sleep in the right wing; he,
Who hates all noise, sleeps in the left, alone.
DEVEROUX. Macdonald, I can only wish it over.
God knows, it gives me a peculiar feeling. [3250]
MACDONALD. Me, too. This is too big a man for us.
We’re going to be taken for two villains.
BUTTLER. In glory, honor, and great wealth you can
Care less about what’s said and thought of you.
DEVEROUX. If only we were sure of all that honor.
BUTTLER. Don’t worry. You’ve rescued the crown and realm
For Ferdinand. Reward will not be wanting.
DEVEROUX. It’s his intention to dethrone the Kaiser?
BUTTLER. It is: to rob him of his crown and life.
DEVEROUX. And he’d have died upon the scaffold, had we [3260]
Delivered him alive back to Vienna?
BUTTLER. A fate that he would never have escaped.
DEVEROUX. Macdonald, come. Field marshal is how he
Should end, with honor and at soldiers’ hands.

4(Exeunt Deveroux and Macdonald.)

5A Hall from which a Gallery extends, reaching far to the back.

Scene Three

6Wallenstein is seated at a table. The Swedish Captain stands before him. Then Countess Terzky.

  • 311 Victory of the Swedish force at Neustadt.
  • 312 Throughout the scenes that follow the portents of disaster thicken, set in counterpoint to repeate (...)
  • 313 A new dimension of Wallenstein emerges so late in his drama.
  • 314 As his regent during his absence at war.

WALLENSTEIN. My compliments to your commander. I
Participate in his good fortune; if
You do not see me show such pleasure as
News of this victory deserves, please believe me,
It is not absence of good will. Our fortunes
Hereafter stand united. Now, farewell! [3270]
Accept my thanks for all your effort. When
You come tomorrow, you will find the fortress open.
(The Swedish Captain leaves the scene. Wallenstein sits lost in thought, staring straight ahead, his head propped on his hand. The Countess enters and stands a while unnoticed. Finally, he moves abruptly, notices her, and quickly composes himself.)
You come from her? How is she? Is she better?
COUNTESS. My sister says she’s more composed now since
Her conversation. She has gone to bed.
WALLENSTEIN. Her sorrow will have softened. She will weep.
COUNTESS. You, too, my brother, I find altered. I’d
Expect to see you happier after victory.311
Be strong! For you’re the one to keep us standing
Upright. You are our lighthouse and our sun. [3280]
WALLENSTEIN. Don’t worry. I’m all right. Where is your husband?312
COUNTESS. They’ve gone off to a banquet, he and Illo.
WALLENSTEIN (stands up and walks through the room).
It’s black dark out, time you’d gone to your room.
COUNTESS. Oh, don’t send me away. Keep me with you.
WALLENSTEIN (at the window).
What a commotion raging in the heavens!
The weather vane is spinning in the wind,
Clouds flee across the sky, the sickle moon
Goes in and out, and through the upper dark
Uncertain light shafts flicker on and off.
No constellation to be seen. That dull [3290]
Sheen only, that’s from Cassiopeia; there
Jupiter should stand. He’s obscured by storm clouds.
(He sinks into reflection, staring outward.)
COUNTESS (contemplating him sadly, takes his hand).
What are you thinking?
WALLENSTEIN. I think that if I saw him it would help.
This is the star that’s shone for me since birth,
And seeing him has always strengthened me. (Pause.)
COUNTESS. You’ll see him yet again.
WALLENSTEIN (has fallen once more into deep distraction; he rouses himself
and turns quickly to the Countess).
See him again? Oh, I shall never.
WALLENSTEIN. He’s lost. He’s gone.
COUNTESS. Who is it that you mean?
WALLENSTEIN. His is the better lot. For he’s perfected. [3300]
For him no future waits, for him no fate
Spins treachery; his life now lies laid out
Without a fold or wrinkle, and it shines.
Immaculate, it lies beyond time’s reach,
And he’s beyond both hope and fear, beyond
Unsteady, baleful planets that deceive us.
His lot is happy! For who knows what the next
Hour has in store for us, shrouded in black.
COUNTESS. It’s Piccolomini you mean. How’d he die?
The messenger was leaving as I came. [3310]
(Wallenstein stops her with a gesture.)
Oh, don’t look back! We’ll look to brighter days
Ahead. Be glad about the victory,
Forget what it has cost you. Not just now
Was your friend taken from you. He was lost
To you when he took leave of you. He died then.
WALLENSTEIN. Oh, I’ll be reconciled to this loss, that
I know. To what can one not be! Man learns
To do without the highest and the lowest
Things. Time itself brings him to acquiescence.
But I feel keenly what I lost in him. [3320]
The bloom has vanished from within, and my
Life lies before me, cold and colorless.
For he stood at my side like my own youth;
To me he made real stuff into a dream
And wove a golden mist like break of day
Around the common obviousness of things.
To my surprise, his fire of loving feeling
Raised into high relief the myriad
Flat figures that populate our daily lives.
Whatever I may strive for going forward, [3330]
The beauty of it’s lost, won’t come again, for
Greater than any happiness, there is the friend
Who, feeling, made it; sharing, magnified it.
COUNTESS. Do not despair of your own powers. Your heart
Is rich enough to give itself a life.
You love and celebrate on his example
Virtues you planted, caused to grow in him.
WALLENSTEIN (going to the door).
Who would disturb us here so late? It is
The Commandant. He brings the fortress keys.
So leave us, Sister. It is nearly midnight. [3340]
COUNTESS. I find it doubly hard to leave you now.
I am beset by fear.
WALLENSTEIN. By fear? Of what?
COUNTESS. That you might set out swiftly in the night
`And we, on waking, find that we had lost you.
WALLENSTEIN. Pure fantasy!
COUNTESS. For some time now my soul
Is haunted, plagued, by gloomy apprehensions;
I fend them off in waking life, and they
Return, attack my anxious heart in dreams.
Last night I saw you with your first wife,313 sitting
At table, both magnificently dressed— [3350]
WALLENSTEIN. That is a dream of happy premonition:
That marriage smiled upon me, made my fortune.
COUNTESS. Tonight it seemed I came to find you in
Your room, but as I entered it was not
Your room. It was the charterhouse you built
At Gitschin, where you want to be interred.
WALLENSTEIN. Your mind is dwelling lately on such things.
COUNTESS. But don’t you believe dreams come ahead to warn us?
WALLENSTEIN. There are such things, no doubt about it, but
I’d not describe as warnings dreams that merely [3360]
Announce that which is unavoidable.
Just as an effigy of the sun appears
Behind the mist before she comes, just so
Are grand events preceded by their ghosts;
Tomorrow walks abroad within today.
It’s always seemed remarkable to me
What’s said about the death of Henri Quatre.
The king could feel the shadow of the knife
In his breast long before the murderer, that
Ravaillac, had armed himself with it. All rest [3370]
Deserted him, his Louvre couldn’t hold him,
Drove him outside; the coronation of
The queen314 rang like a funeral; he heard footsteps
Seek him in all the alleyways of Paris—
COUNTESS. Your inner apprehension tells you nothing?
WALLENSTEIN. Nothing. Don’t be concerned.
COUNTESS (lost in dark reflection). Another time
You went before me, hurrying after you, down
An endless hall, across wide galleries—it
Went on and on—and doors were slamming to—
Panting, I followed you and could not reach you— [3380]
I felt a cold hand seize me from behind;
You stood there, kissed me, and then over us,
It seemed, a cover all in red came down.
WALLENSTEIN. That’s the red tapestry that lines my room..
COUNTESS (gazing at him).
If it should come to that—if I should see you,
Who stand before me now, pulsing with life—
(She falls weeping into his embrace.)
WALLENSTEIN. The Kaiser’s published ban distresses you.
But words are not enough. He’ll not find hands.
COUNTESS. If he should find them, though, my mind’s made up:
I carry all the remedy I need. (She goes off.) [3390]

Scene Four

7Wallenstein. Gordon. Then the Chamberlain.

  • 315 An imperial war against Venice, 1615–1618, in which Wallenstein took part at his own expense. The (...)

WALLENSTEIN. It’s quiet in the town?
GORDON. The town is quiet.
WALLENSTEIN. I hear loud music and the castle’s all
Lit up. Who’s doing all the celebrating?
GORDON. It’s for Count Terzky and the Field Marshal—
A banquet being given in the castle.
WALLENSTEIN (to himself).
To celebrate that victory. That sort
Is happy only when it is at table.
(Rings. The Chamberlain enters.)
Undress me. I’m about to go to bed.
(He receives the keys from Gordon.)
That makes us safe from every enemy,
Closes us up with our trustworthy friends, [3400]
For I am much deceived, if such a face
(looking at Gordon)
As this I see is masking a deceit.
(The Chamberlain removes his mantle, collar, and sash.)
Watch out! What’s fallen?
CHAMBERLAIN. The golden chain you wear has come apart.
WALLENSTEIN. Well, it has held together long enough.
(Looking at the chain.)
This was the Kaiser’s first great favor. He
Hung it about my neck as archduke, for
The Friaul War.315 I wore it out of habit,
Or superstition, if you will. It was
To be a talisman, was to bind fleeting [3410]
Fortune, as its first favor, for as long
As I, believing, wore it about my neck.
So be it. Henceforth I embark on a
New fortune; this one has just lost its virtue.
(The Chamberlain goes off, carrying the garments. Wallenstein stands up, makes a pass through the Hall, then stands before Gordon, contemplating him.)

  • 316 Gordon has recounted this experience (Act IV, scene 2, at line 2462). Now comes Wallenstein’s rete (...)
  • 317 Gordon’s modest figure irritates Wallenstein into boasting.
  • 318 In Greek mythology a monster, son of Tartaros and Gaia and associated with fierce weather. An asso (...)

How you make the old days come back to me!
I see myself at Burgau once again,316
Where you and I were pages at the court.
We often quarreled; while you were well-meaning,
You loved to play the moralist and to
Reproach me, saying I lacked moderation [3420]
And strove too high, pursued excessive dreams;
Instead, you urged a golden middle way.
Your wisdom, I’m afraid, has not proved useful;
It has led you to reach your limits early,
Would snuff you out in a bleak corner if
I didn’t interpose my grander stars.
GORDON. My Prince, the fisherman is glad to tie up
His tiny rowboat in a port of safety
When he sees stormy waters strand the packet.
WALLENSTEIN. You’re into port already, are you, old man?317 [3430]
Not I. My undiminished courage is
Still bobbing, fresh and fine, on life’s great swells,
And Hope is still the goddess I would choose;
My spirit is a young man; why, compared
With you, I’d say the rapid years have passed
Quite traceless over my brown head’s full crown.
(He strides through the room, then stops on the side opposite Gordon.)
Who says that Fortune’s fickle? She was true
To me; she picked me from the ranks of men
With love and carried me up life’s stairway
On god-like arms, both powerful and kind. [3440]
My destined ways show nothing ordinary,
Nor do the lines that mark my palm. Who would
Use human scale to give my life its meaning?
It’s true: just now it seemed my tide had fallen,
But it will rise again. Floodtide will follow
Upon this ebb, soon now and swelling quickly.
GORDON. An adage comes to mind: Don’t speak too soon.
I’d not draw hope from a long streak of luck;
Bad luck is wed to hope as its companion,
And fear should haunt the man who’s blessed with good. [3450]
The scales of destiny are never steady.
WALLENSTEIN (smiling).
I hear the ancient Gordon speak again.
And well I know how earthly matters change.
The evil gods demand their pound of flesh;
The heathen peoples knew that long ago,
Preferred to it their chosen form of evil,
Fed human sacrifice to jealous Typhon.318
(After a pause, solemn and more quiet.)
I, too, have sacrificed to him. I lost
My dearest friend, lost him by my own doing.
No fortune’s favor can please me again [3460]
The way this blow has hurt me. Thus is all
Fate’s envy satisfied: one life is taken
In substitution for another. And
The bolt that would have shattered me is loosed
Instead against his unoffending head.

Scene Five

8As above. Seni.

  • 319 In the event, “Swedish” trumpets do exactly that.

WALLENSTEIN. Is that not Seni? How beside himself!
What brings you to us in the night, Baptist?
SENI. Fear, Excellency, fear for you.
WALLENSTEIN. What’s this?
SENI. Flee, Excellency, flee before daybreak.
Don’t put yourself in Swedish hands.
WALLENSTEIN. What nonsense!
SENI (his voice rising).
Don’t put yourself in Swedish hands. [3470]
SENI. Don’t stay here waiting for the Swedes to come.
Impending evil threatens you, false friends;
The signs are dreadful; nets of your undoing
Draw tight around you even as we speak.
WALLENSTEIN. You’re dreaming, Baptist; fear has quite unhinged you.
SENI. Oh, do not believe that; come, see for yourself;
The planets say: misfortune by false friends.
WALLENSTEIN. False friends have long since founded my misfortune;
This prophecy ought to have reached me sooner; [3480]
For that I have no further need of stars.
SENI. Oh, come and look; come, look, and believe your eyes.
A gruesome sign stands in the House of Life. A
Close enemy, some monster, lurks behind
The beams that stream out from your star. Be warned.
Do not give yourself over to those heathen
Who’ve gone to war against our holy Church.
WALLENSTEIN (smiling).
That’s where this oracle is coming from?
Now I remember: You’ve not ever liked
My Swedish league. Go back to bed, Baptist. [3490]
A sign like that inspires no fear in me.
GORDON (shaken by this exchange, turns to Wallenstein).
My princely Lord, would you permit my speaking?
Often a humble mouth says something useful.
WALLENSTEIN. Speak freely!
GORDON. My Prince, if this were not an empty warning?
If holy Providence were making use of
This mouth for your miraculous salvation?
WALLENSTEIN. You both are raving mad, one like the other.
Misfortune coming to me from the Swedes?
But they sought my alliance, their advantage— [3500]
GORDON. If nonetheless their coming, that precisely,
Should hasten looming danger to you, should—319
(Kneeling before him.)
Oh, there’s still time, my Prince.
SENI (kneeling). Oh, heed him! Heed him!
WALLENSTEIN. Still time? For what? Stand up! I order you!
GORDON (standing up).
The Rhinegrave is not close yet. At your orders
The fortress will be closed against his entry.
If he would then besiege us, let him try.
This I can tell you: He will sooner meet
Perdition, he and all his men, beneath
These walls than weary our own brave defense. [3510]
He’ll find out what a pack of heroes can do
When it’s inspired by its heroic leader,
Whose earnest wish is to make good his error.
And that will touch the Kaiser, reconcile him,
For he inclines to mildness in his heart;
And Friedland, who’s restored to him contrite,
Will find a higher place in his good graces
Than he had ever known before his fall.
WALLENSTEIN (stares at him in silence, deeply startled and astonished).
Gordon, your eagerness has led you far;
Such is the privilege granted childhood friends. [3520]
Blood has been shed here, Gordon. Never can
I be forgiven, not by him. And if
He could forgive me, I would never let him.
Had I known at the start what now has happened,
That it would cost me my most cherished friend,
Had my heart spoken then as it now speaks,
Perhaps I would have reconsidered, perhaps
Not. At this point, though, why forbear? Too grave
Was its beginning for it to end in nothing.
We’ll let it run its course. [3530]
(He goes to the window.)
Look. Night has fallen. At the castle all
Is still meanwhile. Come, Chamberlain, bring light.
(The Chamberlain, who has entered quietly and has followed the conversation from a distance, comes forward, much moved, and falls at the Duke’s feet.)

You, too? But yes, I know why you would want to
See me restored to favor with the Kaiser.
Poor fellow! In Carinthia he has
A farm he fears they’ll confiscate because
He’s in my service. I should be so poor
That I cannot replace a servant? Well
Then, I’ll force no one. If you think that luck’s
Deserted me, then you may leave me, too. [3540]
Tonight you may undress me one last time
And after that go over to the Kaiser.
Gordon, good night.
I think that I will have a long, long sleep.
These last few days were torment quite enough.
See to it that they do not wake me early.

9(He goes off. The Chamberlain lights his way. Seni follows. Gordon stands in darkness, following the Duke with his eyes until he has disappeared at the end of the Gallery. He expresses his pain in gestures, then leans sorrowfully against a column.)

Scene Six

10Gordon. Buttler, initially behind the scene.

  • 320 The subject again is time, now not a question of delay, as it was earlier in the trilogy, but of h (...)
  • 321 The signal Buttler spoke of in the first line of this scene.

BUTTLER. Halt! All stand still until I give the signal.
GORDON (startled).
He’s come; he’s brought the murderers in already.
BUTTLER. The lights are out. They’re sound asleep in there.
GORDON. What shall I do? Shall I attempt to save him? [3550]
Shall I wake up the house, alarm the Guard?
BUTTLER (appearing at the back).
A faint light from the corridor. That leads
Into the Prince’s bedroom.
GORDON. Do I not break
The oath I swore the Kaiser? And if he
Escapes to reinforce the foe, do I
Not heap the consequences on my head?
BUTTLER (coming nearer).
Still! Listen. Who is speaking?
GORDON. Better I
Leave it to Heaven. Who am I to dare
To undertake so great a deed? In truth,
I didn’t kill him if he dies, but then [3560]
His rescue—that would be my deed, for which
I’d bear the consequences, I alone.
BUTTLER (reaching Gordon).
I know this voice.
GORDON. It’s Buttler!
BUTTLER. Gordon! You here
So late? Did he keep you so long?
GORDON. Your hand—
You’re carrying your hand in bandages?
BUTTLER. It has been wounded. That man Illo fought
With desperation till we finally laid
Him flat—
GORDON (shuddering). They’re dead!
BUTTLER. It’s taken care of.
Is he in bed?
GORDON. Ah, Buttler!
BUTTLER (urgently). Is he? Speak!
We can’t keep this concealed much longer now. [3570]
GORDON. He’s not to die. Not by your hand. The heavens
Don’t want your hand. You see that it is wounded.
BUTTLER. It’s not my hand that is required.
GORDON. The guilty ones
Are dead. Enough is rendered now to justice;
This sacrifice already satisfies.
(The Chamberlain comes down the Gallery, signaling for silence.)
He’s sleeping. Do not murder holy sleep.
BUTTLER. Indeed no. He’ll die waking. (About to go.)
GORDON. His heart
Is turned on earthly occupations. He
Is not prepared to go before his God.
BUTTLER. His God is merciful! (About to go.) [3580]
GORDON (keeping him). Grant him one night—320
BUTTLER. The coming moment can give us away. (Leaving.)
GORDON (holding him back).
A single hour!
BUTTLER. Let loose of me! How can
Reprieve so short help him?
GORDON. Oh, Time’s a god
Of wonders. In an hour ten thousand grains
Of sand run down, and human thought moves no
Less quickly. Just one hour. Your heart can change,
His, too. Or news can come; some fortunate
Event, decisive, salvaging, can fall from Heaven.
What can an hour not do!
And you remind me
How precious every moment is. (He stamps on the floor.)321 [3590]

Scene Seven

11Macdonald, Deveroux enter with Halberdiers. Then the Chamberlain.

GORDON (blocking Buttler). You monster!
You’ll reach him only over my dead body,
For this is horrible beyond endurance.
BUTTLER (pushing him aside).
Silly old man!
(Trumpets in the distance.)
MACDONALD and DEVEROUX. That’s Swedish trumpets. Swedes
Before the walls! Quick now! Let’s get this done.
GORDON. God! Dear God!
BUTTLER. Go take up your post, Commander.
CHAMBERLAIN (rushing in).
(Gordon plunges out.)
Who dares make so much noise? The Duke’s asleep!
DEVEROUX (with a terrible voice).
It’s time for noise, my friend!
CHAMBERLAIN (shouting). Help! Murderers!
BUTTLER. Be done with him!
CHAMBERLAIN (impaled by Deveroux, falls at the entrance to the Gallery).
Jesu Maria!
BUTTLER. Break the doors!

12(They step over the corpse and go down the Gallery. The sound of two doors being battered down, one after the other. Muffled voices. Clashing weapons. Then silence.

Scene Eight

13Countess Terzky, carrying a light.

Her bedchamber is empty, she’s nowhere to
Be found, and Neubrunn, too, is missing, who [3600]
Was watching by her. Can she have taken flight?
Have taken flight to where? We’ll have to rush out
After, set everything in motion, find her!
How will the Duke receive this frightening news?
I wish my husband had come back from dinner!
Whether the Duke perhaps is still awake?
I thought that I heard voices here and footsteps.
Let me go down and listen at the door.
What’s that? There’s someone running up the stair.

Scene Nine

14Countess. Gordon. Then Buttler.

GORDON (rushing in, breathless).
It’s all an error. Those are not the Swedes. [3610]
Do not go any further! Buttler! God!
Where is he? (He notices the Countess.)
Countess, tell me—
COUNTESS. You’re coming from the castle? Where’s my husband?
GORDON (horrified).
Your husband? Do not ask! And go on in—(About to leave.)
COUNTESS (delaying him). But not before you tell me—
GORDON (very urgently).
The world entire depends on this one moment!
For God’s sake, go! For as we speak—(Shouting.) Buttler!
COUNTESS. He’s surely at the castle with my husband.
(Buttler appears from the Gallery.)
GORDON (catching sight of him).
It’s all an error. Those are not the Swedes—
It’s the Imperials—they have penetrated— [3620]
I come from the Lieutenant General;
He’ll be here right away. Do not go further—
BUTTLER. He comes too late.
GORDON (lurches against the wall). Oh, merciful God—
COUNTESS (beginning to understand).
Too late for what? Who’s coming right away?
Octavio within the walls of Eger?
We’ve been betrayed! We’ve been betrayed! Where is
The Duke? (She rushes toward the Gallery.)

Scene Ten

15As above. Seni. Then the Mayor. Page. Chambermaid. Servants running about in fright.

SENI (emerging from the Gallery, terrified).
Oh, bloody deed! What horror!
COUNTESS. Seni! What
Has happened?
PAGE (emerging). What a sight! How pitiful!
(Servants with torches.)
COUNTESS. What’s happened? In God’s name! [3630]
SENI. You’re asking still?
The Prince is lying in there, murdered. And
Your husband’s stabbed up in the castle.
(The Countess freezes.)
CHAMBERMAID (rushing in). Help!
The Duchess! Help!
MAYOR (entering, frightened). What horror wakes this house?
GORDON. Your house is cursed in all eternity.
The Prince lies murdered in this house of yours.
MAYOR. What? God forbid! (Plunges out.)
FIRST SERVANT. Away! Away! We’ll all
Be killed!
SECOND SERVANT (carrying a silver service).
This way! That way the stair is guarded.
CRY (from behind the scene).
Make way! Make way for the Lieutenant General!
(Hearing this, the Countess emerges from her paralysis, composes herself, and quickly leaves the scene.)
CRY (behind the scene).
Guards to the gates! Push back the mob!

Scene Eleven

16As above, without the Countess. Octavio Piccolomini enters with his suite. At the same time Deveroux and Macdonald emerge from the back, accompanied by Halberdiers. Wallenstein’s corpse, wrapped in a red tapestry, is carried across the backdrop.

  • 322 The Order of the Golden Fleece, awarded Wallenstein in 1628 by the Habsburgs.
  • 323 Wallenstein’s chancellery was put under seal that very night.
  • 324 Octavio, like Elisabeth in Maria Stuart, has “preserved deniability.”
  • 325 Buttler’s riposte to Octavio’s claim, line 3645.

OCTAVIO (entering rapidly).
This cannot be! Not possible! Buttler! [3640]
Gordon! I cannot believe it. Tell me, No.
GORDON (gestures without speaking to the back. Octavio turns and stiffens in horror).
DEVEROUX (to Buttler).
Here is the Golden Fleece322 and here his sword!
MACDONALD. Is it your order that the Chancellery—323
BUTTLER (indicating Octavio).
Here is the one who gives the orders now.
(Deveroux and Macdonald step back respectfully. Everyone melts
away, leaving only Buttler, Octavio, and Gordon on the scene.)
OCTAVIO (turned to Buttler).
Was that our intention, Buttler, when we parted?324
By all God’s justice! I here raise my hand!
This monstrous deed cannot be charged to me. I
Am innocent.
BUTTLER. Your hands are clean. You
Used mine instead.
OCTAVIO. You shameless reprobate!
You misuse orders from your master to [3650]
Heap on your Kaiser’s sacred head a cheap,
Atrocious, stealthy murder by your hirelings?
BUTTLER (unmoved).
I’ve merely executed Kaiser’s judgment.
OCTAVIO. Oh, curse of kings that brings their words to life
And chains indelible deeds to fleeting thought!
Obedience had to come so quickly? You could
Not grant this gracious man an hour of grace?
Time is man’s guardian angel. Swift conclusion
Of judgment belongs alone to timeless God.
BUTTLER. Why scold me so? What crime have I committed? [3660]
Look! It’s a good deed I have done. I’ve freed
The Empire of a dangerous enemy,
And I shall claim my compensation for it.
The only difference here is just between
How you and I proceeded: You whetted
This arrow, I released it; you, who have
Sowed blood, now stand appalled that blood has sprouted;
I’ve always known what I was doing, and no
Success surprises me or frightens me.325
Would you have further orders for me? I’m [3670]
About to set out for Vienna, where
I’ll lay my bloody sword before the Kaiser,
Claim the approval owed me, that which swift
Obedience can require of a just judge. (Exit.)

Scene Twelve

17As above, without Buttler. Countess Terzky enters pale and disfigured. Her speech is faint and slow, without affect.

OCTAVIO (advancing toward her).
Oh, Countess Terzky, must it have come to this?
The consequences of disastrous deeds.
COUNTESS. These are the fruits of your own doing: The Duke
Is dead, my husband dead, the Duchess in
The throes of death; my niece has disappeared.
This lordly house, this house of brilliance, stands [3680]
Stripped bare, and now through all its portals plunge
Its serving men and women, terrified.
I am the last to leave and I have closed it.
I now surrender all the keys.
OCTAVIO (deeply pained). Oh, Coun-
Tess, my house too has been stripped bare.
COUNTESS. Who’s still
To die? Who here is still to be mistreated?
The Prince is dead, the Kaiser’s vengeance can
Consider itself satisfied. But spare
The aged servants! Let their loyalty not
Be counted as a crime against them. Fate [3690]
Surprised my brother; he could not think of them.
OCTAVIO. No more mistreatment or revenge, Countess!
Grave guilt is gravely expiated and
The Kaiser reconciled. From father to
The daughter nothing passes but his fame
And his deserts. The Empress honors your
Misfortune, opens a mother’s arms to you.
Be fearless, summon trust, commit yourself to
Imperial mercy.
COUNTESS (looking upward). I commit myself to
Mercy of higher kind. Where is the Prince’s [3700]
Corpse to be laid for its eternal rest?
At Gitschin, in the charterhouse he built, rests
The Countess Wallenstein, she who founded
His happiness. In gratitude he wished
To sleep beside her. Have him buried there!
For the remains of my own husband I
Request like favor. All our palaces
Belong to the Kaiser; give us in return
A grave among the graves of our ancestors.
OCTAVIO. You’re trembling, Countess, and you’re blanching. God! [3710]
How am I to interpret what you say?
COUNTESS (collects her last strength and speaks nobly, with animation).
You think more worthily of me than now to believe
That I’d survive the fall of my great house.
We thought ourselves not too obscure to reach
For a king’s crown. It was not to be.
We nonetheless think like a king and believe
A freely chosen death to be more decent
Than life lived out in absence of all honor.
Poison I’ve—
OCTAVIO. Help! Help here!
COUNTESS. It is too late.
My fate’s accomplished in the next few moments. [3720]
(She goes off.)
GORDON. A house of murder and a house of horror!
(A Courier enters, carrying a letter.)
GORDON (going to meet him).
What have we here? That’s the Imperial seal.
(He reads the address and gives Octavio the letter with an expression
of reproach.)
It’s for Prince Piccolomini.
(Octavio starts and, pained, gazes upward.)


305 Act Five, like Act Two, opens on a commander giving orders to his highest lieutenant, but the quality of the two men present and of the action being prepared has changed.

306 The municipal council of the town of Eger.

307 Deveroux and Macdonald were both Irishmen, apparently, and here both are captains in Buttler’s regiment of dragoons. They are figures of fun—of a grisly humor—in a tragedy poor in comic roles.

308 An Irishman found in Schiller’s sources.

309 A Scot, serving under Gordon, who had an active part in the assassination. He is first mentioned at the end of Buttler’s conspiratorial conversation with Illo and Terzky, Picc., Act IV, scene 4, line 1820.

310 First mentioned by the Sergeant, Camp, scene 6, at line 348.

311 Victory of the Swedish force at Neustadt.

312 Throughout the scenes that follow the portents of disaster thicken, set in counterpoint to repeated reference to the castle, where Illo’s banquet is in progress.

313 A new dimension of Wallenstein emerges so late in his drama.

314 As his regent during his absence at war.

315 An imperial war against Venice, 1615–1618, in which Wallenstein took part at his own expense. The beginning of his good relations with the House of Habsburg.

316 Gordon has recounted this experience (Act IV, scene 2, at line 2462). Now comes Wallenstein’s retelling.

317 Gordon’s modest figure irritates Wallenstein into boasting.

318 In Greek mythology a monster, son of Tartaros and Gaia and associated with fierce weather. An association with human sacrifice is not easily established.

319 In the event, “Swedish” trumpets do exactly that.

320 The subject again is time, now not a question of delay, as it was earlier in the trilogy, but of haste. The motif returns in Octavio’s reproach to Buttler, scene 11, at line 3656. See also the first soliloquy, where Wallenstein reflects on the gap that falls between the contemplation and the execution of a deed (Act I, scene 4, at line 133).

321 The signal Buttler spoke of in the first line of this scene.

322 The Order of the Golden Fleece, awarded Wallenstein in 1628 by the Habsburgs.

323 Wallenstein’s chancellery was put under seal that very night.

324 Octavio, like Elisabeth in Maria Stuart, has “preserved deniability.”

325 Buttler’s riposte to Octavio’s claim, line 3645.


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