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Don Carlos Infante of Spain

Friedrich Schiller

Act Two

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In the Royal Palace, Madrid

Scene One

  • 44 The privilege of wearing one’s hat in the presence of the king was the mark of the very highest nob (...)

1King Philip under a baldachin. Duke Alba at some distance from the King, hatted.44 Carlos.

2CARLOS. The realm has precedence. Most gladly Carlos
Yields to His Majesty’s first minister.
[880] He speaks for Spain. I’m but son of the house.

3(He steps back with a bow.)

4PHILIP. The Duke remains, and the Infante may speak.

5CARLOS (turning to Alba).
And thus I must request the King as gift
your great magnanimity, Duke Alba.
A child, as you well know, can carry much
At heart intended only for his father,
Ill-suited to the witness of third persons.
The King will not be taken from you, Duke;
I merely seek a moment with my father.

6PHILIP. He is your father’s friend.

7CARLOS. Have I deserved
[890] To think I see my own here in the Duke?

8PHILIP. Or wanted to deserve? I’ve little love
For sons who know to choose more wisely than
Their fathers.

9CARLOS. Can Duke Alba, knight and courtier,
Be witness to a scene like this one? I,
As surely as I live, would not accept—
Not for the world, not for a diadem—
The role of the importunate who little
Scruples to interject himself between son
And father, uninvited, who thus has
[900] Condemned himself to stand there in the full
And pungent knowledge of his nullity.

10PHILIP (leaves his seat with an angry glance at the Prince).
Remove yourself, Duke!
(The Duke turns to the main doors, where Carlos entered; the King indicates another door.)
Into my private study,
Until I call you.

Scene Two

11King Philip. Don Carlos.

12CARLOS (approaches the King as soon as the Duke has gone out and kneels
before him; with heightened feeling).
Father once again,
Mine once again. My warmest thanks for this
Great favor. Let me have your hand, my father.
What happiness! The pleasure of this kiss
Was long not granted to your child. And why
Banish me from your heart so long, my father?
What is it I have done?

13PHILIP. Infante, your heart
[910] Knows nothing of such arts. No more. They irk me.

14CARLOS (getting to his feet).
There! There I hear your courtiers. But, my father,
It is not good, not all is good, not all
A priest says, not all a priest’s creatures say.
I am not wicked, Father. Hot blood is
My wickedness, youth is my crime. But truly,
Wicked I never was. Though wild eruptions
Accuse my heart, that heart is good.

15PHILIP. Your heart
Is pure, I know this, pure as is your prayer.

16CARLOS. It’s now or never! We’re alone. The anxious
[920] Barrier of etiquette has tumbled down
Between us. Now or never! Hope begins
To glimmer in me, a sweet premonition
Flits through my heart. All Heaven bends toward us
With bands of angels. Touched, the Three-Times-Holy
One contemplates this grand scene! Father, let’s
Make peace!
(He falls at the King’s feet.)

17PHILIP. Leave off! Stand up!

18CARLOS. Oh, let’s make peace!

19PHILIP (resisting Carlos’s approach).
I find this clowning forward—

20CARLOS. Forward, your
Child’s love?

21PHILIP. Now tears! Unworthy sight! Be gone, you!

22CARLOS. It’s now or never! Peace, my father!

23PHILIP. Out of
[930] My sight! Come from my battles covered with
Disgrace—my arms will open to receive you.
this way. Only craven guilt would wash
Itself in waters such as these. A man
Who does not scruple to repent will not
Be sparing with repentance.

24CARLOS. Who is this?
By what misunderstanding did this stranger
Stray in among humanity? Tears are
The timeless guarantor of humanness.
His eye is dry. Oh, he’s not born of woman.
[940] Force your unwetted eyes to learn tears now,
Or you might do so at a bitter moment.

25PHILIP. Do you presume to shake your father’s doubts
With pretty words?

  • 45 The contrast made here is between the King’s son and his paid—or bribed—courtiers.

26CARLOS. His doubts? I’ll crush these doubts.
I’ll hang myself on Father’s heart and rip
And rip until I’ve torn doubt from around
This father’s heart. Who are they, those who’ve driven
Me from the grace and favor of my King? The
Monk bid what monkish price to father for
His son? And Alba offers what to redeem
[950] A life made trivial by childlessness?
It’s love you want? Here in this breast a spring
Surges more fresh, more fiery than in all
The sad and swampy vessels that alone
King Philip’s gold can tap.

27PHILIP. Impertinent boy!
Silence! The men whom you dare to despise are
The proven servants of my choosing. You
Will show them honor.

28CARLOS. No, indeed, I won’t.
I feel my strength. What all your Albas do,
This Karl can do, and Karl does more. What is
[960] The Kingdom to a hireling? He’ll not inherit.
What’s it to
him when Philip’s gray hair whitens?
Your Carlos would have loved you. The very thought
Of sitting on a
throne, alone—all, all
Alone—fills me with dread.

  • 46 Philip, too, is marked by the solitude of royalty and by friendlessness. The motif will return.

29PHILIP (affected by these words, stands lost in thought. Pause).
I am alone.46

30CARLOS (going to him, warm and vivid).
You have been. Do not hate me anymore;
I want to love you like a child, with ardor;
Just leave off hating me. How glad it is
To feel ourselves made glorious in one
Sweet soul and know our pleasure warms another’s
[970] Cheek, that our fear quakes in another’s breast,
Our sorrows wet another’s eyes! How sweet
It is to wander back along youth’s rose-
Strewn way, to dream again life’s dream, go hand
In hand with a dear, much-loved son! How sweet
It is to last, immortal, undecaying,
In one’s child’s virtue, doing good for centuries!
How sweet to plant, the son to gather, to harvest
What flourishes for him, to know his bright thanks!
Father, your monks say nothing of this earthly
[980] Eden, and they do well not to.

31PHILIP (not without feeling). My son,
You speak your own damnation, paint with charm
A joy that you have never given me.

32CARLOS. We’ll let all-knowing God be judge of that.
you closed your father’s heart to me
And my participation in your rule.
Up to this very day. Was this well done?
In Spain, Spain’s own Crown Prince was made a stranger,
A prisoner on the ground where he’ll be king.
And this was just, was kind? How often, Father,
[990] Did I look down in shame to learn Court news at
Aranjuez from foreign consuls, news sheets!

33PHILIP. Blood runs too hot through all your veins, my son.
You’d only wreck things.

34CARLOS. Give me things to wreck,
My father. High time! Twenty-three years old
And nothing done for immortality!
I’ve woken up, I feel my strength; my calling
Knocks; like a creditor it rouses me;
And all lost time from early years reminds
Me loudly of my debts of honor. It’s there,
[1000] The august moment that demands of me
The interest owed on all my high endowments:
World history calls to me and renowned forebears
And the resounding trumpet blast of fame.
The time has come to open glorious gates
Of reputation to me. Now, my King, may
I dare pronounce the plea that brings me here?

35PHILIP. Yet more required? Let’s hear.

36CARLOS. The uproar in
Brabant has now grown threatening. Stubborn rebels
Call for intelligent and firm resistance.
[1010] To tame this rage the Duke’s to lead an army
To Flanders, furnished with full royal mandate.
How honorable this office is, how suited
To introduce your son into Fame’s temple!
Give me, my King, give me this army. I’m loved
In the Low Countries. With my blood I’m bold to
Vouch for their loyalty.

37PHILIP. You’re talking like
A dreamer. Such an office wants a man
And not a youngster.

38CARLOS. Wants a human being,
Father, the one thing Alba never has been.

39[1020] PHILIP. Terror alone will tame this insurrection.
A show of mercy is pure madness. You are
Soft-hearted and the Duke is feared, my son.
Do not insist.

40CARLOS. Dispatch me with your army
To Flanders. Take a chance with my soft heart.
The King’s son’s very name there, flying before
My banners, will make conquest; Alba’s hangmen
Can only ravage. On my knees I beg you.
The first request in all my life. My father,
Entrust me Flanders.

41PHILIP (with a penetrating look).
And entrust as well
[1030] My strongest force to your ambition? A
Keen blade for my assassin?

42CARLOS. Oh, my God!
I’ve got no further? Can this be the yield of
A moment I’ve long hoped for, long requested?
(After reflecting, with milder earnestness.)
Give me a softer answer; don’t send me
Away like
this! To be dismissed with such
An answer, be dismissed with heavy heart—
Treat me more graciously. This is my urgent
Request, it is my last, despairing try.
I cannot believe, cannot endure with firmness
[1040] That you refuse me all, all, all I’ve asked.
I go from you deceived in all my feelings.
Your Albas, your Domingos throne in glory
Where your child weeps in deep humiliation.
Legions of courtiers, all your fluttering Grandezza,
Your guild of monks as pale as sinners—these
Were witness to your solemn grant of audience.
Don’t shame me, Father, wound me mortally,
Expose me to this Court crowd’s laughter, seeing
That strangers batten on your favor, Carlos,
[1050] However, can arrive at nothing. Make
A gesture proving you would honor me
And send me with your army into Flanders!

43PHILIP. No more of this, on pain of your King’s anger!

44CARLOS. I’ll risk the pain of my King’s anger, I
Will ask one final time: Entrust me Flanders.
I ought, I must leave Spain. I live here in
The shadow of the gallows. Skies above
Madrid bear down on me like knowledge of
A murder. Only a quick change of sky
[1060] Can make me well. If you would save me—Send
Me right away to Flanders.

45PHILIP (with forced calm). You are ill.
Affliction such as yours, my son, requires
Good care and watchful presence of physicians.
You’ll stay in Spain; the Duke will go to Flanders.

46CARLOS (beside himself).
Stand by me now, you kindly spirits.

47PHILIP (taking a step back). Halt!
What does this mean?

48CARLOS (his voice trembling). That’s your last word, my father?

49PHILIP. You heard it from your King.

50CARLOS. And that is that.

51(He goes off, beside himself.)

Scene Three

52Philip stands a while, reflecting darkly, then takes a few steps. Alba approaches, ill at ease.

53PHILIP. Expect your orders to depart for Brussels
At any moment now.

54ALBA. All matters stand
[1070] In readiness, my King.

55PHILIP. Your mandate lies
Sealed in my study. Meanwhile take leave of
The Queen, present yourself to the Infante.

56ALBA. With all the gestures of a man enraged
I just now saw him going out of here.
Your Royal Majesty is quite beside
Yourself and seem to be affected deeply.
Perhaps the content of your conversation?

57PHILIP (having walked up and down).
The content was Duke Alba.
(Fixing Alba darkly.) Gladly I
Would hear that Carlos
hates my counselors, with
[1080] Annoyance, though, that he despises them.

58ALBA (blanches; about to fly into a rage).

59PHILIP. No need to answer now. You have my leave
To reconcile the Prince.

60ALBA. Sire!

61PHILIP. Tell me, now,
Who was it warned me first of my son’s treachery?
I listened then to
you and not to him.
I’ll risk a trial. Henceforth, Duke Alba, Carlos
Stands closer to my throne. You are dismissed.

62(The King retires to his study. Alba goes out by another door.) An antechamber to the Queen’s apartment

Scene Four

  • 47 The comedy that follows here is a variant on the set piece of the misdirected letter and a further (...)

63Don Carlos comes through the center door in conversation with a Page.47 The Courtiers in the antechamber scatter into adjacent rooms.

64CARLOS. A letter for me? And what’s this key for?
And both passed on to me so secretly?
Come here. Where did you get these things?

65PAGE (mysterious). The lady
[1090] Gave me to understand she would be guessed
And not described.

66CARLOS (startled). The lady?

67(He examines the Page more closely.) Who are you?

68PAGE. A page who serves Her Majesty the Queen.

69CARLOS (shocked, puts his hand over the boy’s mouth).
Now, on your life! Stop there! I know enough.
(He tears off the seal and goes to the far end of the hall to read the letter. Duke Alba enters meanwhile, goes past him unnoticed and into the Queen’s apartment. Carlos begins to tremble, reddens, then blanches. When he has finished the letter, he stares at it, speechless. Finally, he turns to the Page.)
She gave you this herself?

70PAGE. With her own hands.

71CARLOS. She gave you this herself? Oh, do not mock me!
I’ve never seen a thing that’s in her hand.
I have to believe you if you swear to it.
If you were lying, tell me freely now.
Don’t make a mockery of me.

72PAGE. Of you?

73CARLOS (looks again at the letter, then examines the Page narrowly.
He takes a turn through the hall).
[1100] You still have parents? Yes? Your father serves
The King and is a loyal Spanish subject?

  • 48 The Duke of Savoy commanded the Spanish troops that defeated the French at Saint Quentin in 1557.

74PAGE. He fell at Saint Quentin, a colonel in
The Duke of Savoy’s cavalry.
48 He was
By name Alonzo Count of Henarez.

75CARLOS (taking him by the hand and staring into his face).
The King gave you this letter?

76PAGE (hurt). Gracious Prince,
Have I deserved this mistrust?

77CARLOS (reading the letter).
The rearward doors in the pavilion of
“This key opens
The Queen. The farthest of them all gives sideways
On a retreat no listener can creep up on.
[1110] Here love can confess freely and aloud what
It long confided to mere gestures only.
Timidity will find a hearing here and
Modest endurance meet a rich reward.”
(As if coming to his senses.)
I am not dreaming, I’ve not lost my mind. This
Is my right hand, this is my sword, and these
Are written words. It is both real and true:
I’m loved; I am; indeed I am; I’m loved!
(Beside himself, he rushes through the room, his arms held high.)

78PAGE. Then come, my Prince, and let me show the way.

79CARLOS. One moment; let me first come to myself.
[1120] Am I not shaken by all Fortune’s terrors?
Had I the pride to hope? Or trust myself
To dream? What mortal ever learned so fast
To be a god? Who was I once? Who now?
This is a different sky, another sun.
She loves me!

80PAGE (trying to lead him away).

81Prince, Prince! You forget. Not here—

82CARLOS (freezes).
The King, my father!
(He lets his arms fall, looks around timidly, and begins to compose himself.)
This is dreadful. Yes,
Quite right, my friend. I thank you. I was not
Myself. Suppress it, wall up so much happiness
Inside this breast—it’s dreadful. Listen, now.
(He takes the Page by the hand and leads him aside.)
[1130] What you have seen and have not seen—you hear—
Sink like a coffin deep into your breast.
Go now. I’ll find the way. Go. We cannot
Be seen here. Go.
(The Page is about to go.)
But wait! There’s something more—
(The Page comes back. Carlos lays a hand on his shoulder and looks him solemnly in the face.)
You’re carrying a terrible secret that,
Like powerful poison, bursts the vial that holds it.
Be careful of your looks, your gestures; your head
Never discover what your bosom harbors.
Be like a speaking tube: receive the sound
And pass it on and never hear it spoken.
[1140] You’re just a boy. That’s not to change now. Go on
Playing the merry child. She chose you well,
The clever author of this letter.
The King will not go searching for his vipers.

83PAGE. And I, my Prince, I’m going to be proud
To know I have a secret that the King
Does not—

84CARLOS. Why, you conceited little dunce,
that is what you have to fear.
If you and I should meet in public, you
Approach me shyly, with submission. Let
[1150] Your vanity not lead you to give signs
Of how you stand with the Infante. No graver
Crime, Son, can you commit than pleasing
Whatever you pass on in future, never
Put it in words or frame it with your lips.
Your news is not to take the common path
Of thought. Speak with your lashes, index finger;
I’ll listen to you with my glances. Air
And light around us belong to Philip, the walls
Are in his pay. What’s that?
(The door to the Queen’s apartment opens and Duke Alba emerges.)
Be gone! Adieu!

85[1160] PAGE. Don’t miss the room you’re looking for, my Prince! (Exit.)

86CARLOS. The Duke! Oh, no. No, no! Well, let it be!
I’ll find a way.

Scene Five

87Don Carlos. Duke Alba.

88ALBA (intercepting him). Two words, my Gracious Prince.

89CARLOS. Quite right—it’s fine—another time.
(He tries to pass.)

90ALBA. The place
Is not ideal. Perhaps Your Royal Highness
Would rather hear me in your rooms?

91CARLOS. What for?
That can be done here, too. But quickly and
In brief.

92ALBA. What brings me here, in fact, is to
Render Your Highness humble thanks for something
Known to us both.

93CARLOS. What thanks? For me? From Alba?

94[1170] ALBA. For as you left the Monarch’s presence, I had
Word to depart for Brussels.

95CARLOS. Brussels! Well!

96ALBA. To whom, my Prince, ought I ascribe it other
Than to your gracious application to
His Royal Majesty, the King?

97CARLOS. Mine? No!
Not mine at all. No, truly, not to mine.
You’re leaving? Go with God!

98ALBA. And nothing more?
That comes as a surprise. Your Highness would have
No further charge to lay on me for Flanders?

99CARLOS. What further? Where?

100ALBA. Not long ago it seemed
[1180] The destiny of all these lands required
Don Carlos’ personal presence.

101CARLOS. How was that?
Oh, yes. Yes, right. But that was then. And now
It’s also right, quite right—in fact, it’s better—

102ALBA. I hear this with astonishment.

103CARLOS (without irony). You are a
Great general. Who does not know this? Envy
Of you is proof. And I? I’m but a young man.
That’s what the King thought, too. And he is right,
Quite right. I see that now and am content.
Enough of this. I wish you a safe journey.
[1190] Just now, I cannot, as you see—I’m rather
Busy—tomorrow more—or when you like—or
When you come back again from Brussels—

104ALBA. What?

  • 49 Alba had been present in the Schmalkaldic War, a confessional conflict in eastern Germany (1547), w (...)

105CARLOS (after a silence, when he sees that the Duke is lingering).
The season favors you. Your journey goes
Over Milan, Lorraine, and Burgundy,
And Germany, yes, Germany; it was
In Germany! They know you there!
49 It’s April;
May, June; then in July, quite right, or at
The latest early August, you’ll reach Brussels.
No doubt, we’ll hear quite soon about your victories.
[1200] You’ll know to make yourself deserving of
Our gracious confidence.

  • 50 See Act II, scene 1, lines 900–901.

106ALBA (with meaning). And do so with full
And pungent knowledge of my nullity?

107CARLOS (after a silence, with poise and dignity).
You feel offended, Duke, and you are right. It
Was less than sparing on my part, I must
Confess, to use against you weapons you
Are little able to reply to.

108ALBA. Little

109CARLOS (offering his hand with a smile).
A pity that I have no time to
Fight out this worthy match with Alba now.
Another time—

110ALBA. Prince, we are wrong about
[1210] Each other in two ways. You, for example,
Would see yourself at twenty years from now,
I, you exactly that much earlier.

111CARLOS. And?

112ALBA. And it occurs to me to ask: How many
Nights passed beside his lovely Portuguese,
Your mother, had the Monarch given to
Gain for his Crown an arm like
this one?
It will not have been lost on him how much
More easily one propagates a monarch
Than monarchies, how much more quickly one
[1220] Supplies a world with kings than kings with worlds.

113CARLOS. Most true, Duke Alba. Yet?

114ALBA. And how much blood,
Blood of
your people, had to flow before
Two drops could make of
you a king.

115CARLOS. Most true,
By God! In two words, all pride of desert
Has earned a right to say to pride of fortune.
The application now, Duke Alba?

116ALBA. Woe
Betide the cradled child called Majesty that
Would mock its nurse! How sweetly one can sleep
Among the cushions of
our victories! On
[1230 The Crown pearls glimmer only, not the battle
Wounds by which it was won. This sword inscribed
The laws of Spain on foreign nations, it
Shone in the vanguard of the Crucified,
Our Lord, turned over bloody furrows for the
Seed corn of Faith throughout this hemisphere.
God ruled in Heaven, Alba ruled on Earth.

117CARLOS. God or the Devil, it’s all one. You were
His right arm. That is known to me. And now
No more of this, I bid you. I’ll protect
[1240] Myself from certain memories. I’ll honor
My father’s choice. My father needs an Alba;
That he needs one is nothing that I envy.
You are a great man. That may be. I rather
Believe it. I fear, however, you have come
Too early by at least a thousand years.
For I would think an Alba were the man to
Appear among us at the End of Days,
Then when iniquity had eaten up
God’s patience, the rich harvest of misdeeds
[1250] Stood in full ear, required a reaper like
None other. Then
you’d be in your true place.
Oh, God, my paradise! My Flanders! But
I should not think of that, not speak of that.
They say you’re carrying advance supplies of
Death warrants signed already? That is prudent.
No need to fear chicanery. O, Father,
How badly I have understood you! I thought
You hard denying me where Albas excel?
It was your way to do me honor.

118ALBA. Prince,
[1260] This word would merit—

119CARLOS (angry). What?

120ALBA. But there the King’s son
Is safe.

121CARLOS (reaching for his sword).
That’s fighting words! Draw, Duke!

122ALBA (cold). On you?

123CARLOS (bearing down on him).
Draw, or I’ll run you through.

124ALBA (drawing). If it must be—

125(They fence.)

Scene Six

126The Queen. Don Carlos. Duke Alba.

127QUEEN (emerging from her rooms, alarmed).
Bare swords here!
(To the Prince, unwilling and commanding.)

128CARLOS (transfixed by the sight of the Queen, lets his arm sink, stands
motionless, stupefied, then rushes to the Duke and kisses him).

Peace, Duke! We’ll forgive all!
(He throws himself at the Queen’s feet, stands up, and plunges out.)

129ALBA (staring after him, astonished).
What in God’s name! Is that not strange!

130QUEEN (stands for a moment, anxious and uncertain, then goes slowly toward her door; on the threshold, she turns).
Duke Alba!

131(The Duke follows her through the door.)

132Princess Eboli’s boudoir

Scene Seven

133The Princess, beautifully and simply dressed, in keeping with her fancy, playing a lute and singing. Then the Queen’s Page.

134PRINCESS (jumping up).

135He’s coming!

136PAGE (hurried). You’re alone? I thought I’d find
Him here already. He must come this minute.

137PRINCESS. Must he? He wants to then. It’s all decided—

138PAGE. He’s coming right behind me. Gracious Princess,
How you are loved! As loved as you, so loved,
[1270] No one can be or ever could have been.
I saw a scene!

139PRINCESS (pulling him toward her, impatient).
Quick! Tell me all about it!
You spoke with him? Come, tell me! What he said!
And what he did! And what his exact words were!
He seemed embarrassed? He seemed startled? Guessed The one who’d sent the key to him? Quick, say!
Or didn’t guess? Or guessed the wrong one? Well?
Nothing? You tell me nothing? Shame on you!
You’ve never been so wooden until now.

140PAGE. How can I get a word in, Gracious Lady?
[1280] I handed him the key and note in the
Queen’s antechamber. I let slip a lady’d
Sent me; he started and he stared at me.

141PRINCESS. He started? Excellent! Bravo! What else?

142PAGE. I wanted to say more, but he turned pale
And snatched the letter from my hand, looked at
Me threateningly and said that he knew all.
He read the letter with amazement and
Began to tremble.

143PRINCESS. Said that he knew all?
Said he knew all? That’s what he said?

144PAGE. And asked
[1290] Three times, four, if you’d—you, yourself—had given
Me the—

145PRINCESS. I’d given you the letter? Named me?

146PAGE. Named? No. No name. He said that lurking spies
Might hear us, tell the King.

147PRINCESS (caught off-guard). That’s what he said?

148PAGE. He said the King was greatly interested,
Immensely, really hugely interested
In finding out about this letter.

The King—Did you hear right? He said the King?
That was exactly what he said?

150PAGE. Oh, yes.
He said this was a dangerous secret, warned
[1300] Me to be on my guard in word and gesture,
So that the King would not become suspicious.

  • 51 What Eboli is thinking will be disclosed at the end of this episode.

151PRINCESS (having reflected, astonished).
It all makes sense. It can’t be otherwise. He
Must know about it.
51 Unimaginable!
Who would have told him? Who? Who sees so sharp,
So deep—who but the falcon eye of love?
What else? Then what? He read the note?

152PAGE. The note,
He said, contained a happiness that made
Him tremble. Never had he dared to dream such.
But then the Duke came in. We had to—

153PRINCESS (annoyed). What
[1310] In all the world was the Duke doing there?
Where is he, though? What’s keeping him? Why’s he
Not come? You see! It’s tales he’s telling you!
How happy he’d have been in just the time
It took to tell me that he wanted to be!

154PAGE. The Duke, I fear—

155PRINCESS. The Duke again? What business
he here? What’s this hero have to do
With my untold desires? Why, he could walk
Away! Send
him away! Who can’t one? Truly,
This Prince of yours—he understands the ways

] Of love as badly as he understands
The ways of ladies’ hearts. He doesn’t know
How minutes count—Still! Footsteps. It’s the Prince!
(The Page slips out.)
Yes, go. Now where’s my lute? He’s to surprise me.
My song will be a signal for him.

Princess Eboli. Steel engraving by Conrad Geyer from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),​wiki/​File:Schiller-Galerie_komplett_Bild_17.jpg

Scene Eight

156The Princess. Then Don Carlos.

157The Princess has thrown herself on an ottoman and is playing.

158CARLOS (bursts in. He recognizes the Princess and stands thunderstruck).
Where am I?

159PRINCESS (lets her lute drop and rises to meet him).
Why, Prince Carlos? Yes. In truth!

160CARLOS. What is this? Where am I? Is this a trick?
I’ve missed the room.

161PRINCESS. My! How well Carlos knows
To find where ladies are alone.

162CARLOS. Princess— Forgive me, Princess—I just found—I found

163[1330] The entry open.

164PRINCESS. How can that be? I
Thought I myself had closed it and locked up.

165CARLOS. You only thought that. Yes. You thought. For sure,
You’re wrong. You wanted to lock up. Yes, quite.
That I admit. I believe it, too. But locked up?
No. Not locked up. No, truly not. I hear
A lute—yes, someone playing on a lute. Was
It not a lute?
(Looking around uncertainly.)
Right! There’s one over there—
And lute—God knows—lute I love madly. I
Am all ears, I forget myself entirely,
[1340] Burst in the room to look the charming artist
Who touched me so, enthralled me, in the eye.

  • 52 Eboli is expressing doubt about the truth of Carlos’s elaborate lie. We know from her early mention (...)

166PRINCESS. Now there’s a charming curiosity.
You’ve stilled it rather quickly, I would say.
(After a silence, with meaning.)
Oh, I must cherish one so modest as
To spare a woman shame by snaring himself
In such a web of lies.

167CARLOS (sincerely). Princess, I feel
Myself that I am only making worse
Where I would make amends. Release me from
A role that I’m so unfit to go on with.
[1350 You only wanted refuge from the world.
Unheard, and known by none, you wanted to
Live for the silent wishes of your heart.
Then I, son of misfortune, show up—and
This lovely dream’s disturbed. For that, a quick
Departure should remove me from this—
(He is about to go.)

168PRINCESS (surprised and hurt, then quickly composed).

169Oh, that was naughty.

170CARLOS. Princess, I know well
that glance means in this boudoir. I honor
This chaste embarrassment. Woe to the man whom
A lady’s blush encourages! I am

171[1360] Confounded to see women tremble at me.

172PRINCESS. It’s possible? An unexampled conscience
In a young man and king’s son! Well, my Prince,
Now you must truly stay. Myself, I bid you.
At such restraint, a girl’s cured of her fears.
And did you know, your coming in so sudden
Startled me out of my best aria?
(She leads him to a sofa and picks up her lute again.)
The aria I’ll just have to play again.
Your price is that you’ll have to hear me.

173CARLOS (seats himself with some constraint beside the Princess).
A price as favorable as my offense.
[1370] Truly, the story was so fine, so welcome,
I’d like to hear it sung a—third—time.

174PRINCESS. What!
You heard it all? Atrocious, Prince! It was,
I even believe, a tale of love?

175CARLOS. If I’m
Not wrong, of happy love. A lovely text
And in this lovely mouth. More lovely than true,
I have to fear.

176PRINCESS. Not true? You have your doubts?

177CARLOS (grave). I rather doubt that Carlos and the Princess
Can both agree where love’s the subject.
(The Princess starts; he notices and offers a gallantry.)
Who, then,
Would believe of roses in these cheeks that passion
[1380] Had ever writhed within this breast? A Princess
Of Eboli should run the risk of sighing
In vain, without a hearing? Love is known
To him alone who’s loved without a hope.

178PRINCESS (having recovered her gaiety).
Oh, quiet! That sounds dreadful. And, indeed,
This fate appears to torment
you above
All others, and today of all days.
(Taking him by the hand, coaxing.) No,
You are not happy, Prince. You’re suffering. God knows,
You’re suffering positively. Can this be?
Why suffer, Prince, called as you are to enjoy
[1390] The world? With every gift of spendthrift Nature
And every claim to worldly pleasures?
A great king’s son and
more, far more than that,
Decked out already in the royal cradle
With gifts that eclipse even royal rank?
You who have captured judges sitting in the
Strict court of women, who alone decide
On men, their world, and reputation, and,
Having decided, brook no contradiction?
Who, where he only
notices, has conquered;
[1400] Enflames where he stays cold; where he’d glow warm
Must deal in paradises and dispense
The gods’ own happiness; the man whom Nature
Has graced with the same gifts to make the fortunes
Of thousands and of
few—himself should be
Unhappy? Heaven, you who gave him all things,
All, why deny him eyes with which to see
His conquests?

179CARLOS (sunk in deep distraction this long time, rouses himself, startled, at the silence). Oh, most excellent, superb,
Princess! Do sing this passage once more.

180PRINCESS (astonished). Carlos,
Where were you all this time?

181CARLOS (leaping up). Quite right, by God!
[1410] It’s good that you remind me. I must go.
Go right now.

182PRINCESS (holding him back). Where to?

183CARLOS (terribly anxious). Out! To open air.
It seems the world is bursting into flames
Behind me. Let me go!

184PRINCESS (holding him back forcibly).
This way, so strange, so alien?
What’s wrong? Why act
(Carlos stands still and reflects; she seizes the moment and draws him to her on the sofa.)
You need rest,
Dear Karl. Your blood’s in uproar. Sit down here
Beside me. No more gloomy fever dreams!
If you ask yourself honestly, does your
Head know what’s weighing on your heart? And if
It knows, is none of all the knights at Court,
[1420] Of all the ladies, not a single one
Worthy to heal—I mean, to understand—
You? None?

185CARLOS (unthinking). Perhaps the Princess Eboli?

186PRINCESS (quickly, delighted).
In truth?

187CARLOS. Just give me a petition, a
Proposal for my father. They say you
Have influence.

188PRINCESS. Who says? (Ha! So this suspicion
Kept you from speaking!)

189CARLOS. Probably you’ve heard
Already. I am taken with the notion
Of going to Brabant—to earn my spurs.
My father is against it. My good father’s
[1430] Afraid, if I commanded armies—that
Could harm my singing.

190PRINCESS. Carlos! You are shamming.
Admit it now! You used this snaky writhing
To try to get away from me. You look
Here, you dissembler! Eye to eye! Would one
Who dreams of knightly deeds stoop so low as to
Steal ribbons ladies lost and—you’ll forgive me—
(With a fingertip she flicks away his ruff and pulls out a ribbon hidden
And safeguard them so preciously? Would he?

191CARLOS (stepping back, offended).
No, Princess. This now goes too far. I feel
Betrayed. You can’t be fooled. You’ve made a pact
[1440] With spirits and with demons.

192PRINCESS. That’s a surprise?
What shall we bet, Prince? Shall I call up tales to
Your heart, tales—You just try me. Question me.
If a mere play of mood, a broken sound
Breathed out, a smile wiped out by a quick frown,
If moments, gestures unremarked by you
Have not escaped me, you judge if I knew you
In just the way you wanted to be known.

193CARLOS. That’s daring much. Your bet is good. You promise
Discoveries on my own heart that I’ve
[1450] Not even known about.

  • 53 Carlos feels himself exposed, and Eboli, seizing her advantage, adopts a tone of raillery.

194PRINCESS (a bit hurt; in earnest). Not ever, Prince?
Oh, think again. And look about you. This
Is not one of the galleries of the Queen where
One possibly admired that bit of masquerade.
You start? You turn bright red?
53 Oh, who indeed
Would be so bent on spying and so idle,
So bold as to observe Don Carlos when
He believes that he’s not seen or heard? Who saw
How he forsook his lady on the dance floor—
The Queen at the Court ball—and forced his way
[1460] Into the nearest couple to extend
His hand to Princess Eboli? A faux pas
Not lost, Prince, on the Monarch, who’d come in
That very moment!

  • 54 Eboli has misconstrued the first incident she recounts.

195CARLOS (smiling ironically). Even him? Yes, Princess,
him precisely this was not intended.54

  • 55 The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

196PRINCESS. As little as that scene in chapel that
Prince Carlos has forgotten. You were kneeling
Before the Holy Virgin, lost in prayer,
When certain ladies’ skirts—no fault of yours—
Rustled behind you. Whereupon Don Philip’s
[1470] Heroic son began to tremble like
A heretic before the Holy Office.
All prayer died on his lips and, overcome
By passion—such a touching comedy—
You seize the hand of Virgin Mary, rain
Down fiery kisses on cold marble.

197CARLOS. You do
Me an injustice, Princess. That was worship.

198PRINCESS. That’s something else, then. And it was just fear of
Losing when Carlos, playing with the Queen
And me, adroitly stole this glove of mine
(Carlos leaps up, astonished.)
[1480] And played it promptly like a card?

199CARLOS. Oh, God!
Oh, God! Oh, God! What have I done?

200PRINCESS. Not what you’d
Recant, I hope. A fine surprise to find
A little note you’d hidden in this glove, the
Most touching short romance, Prince—

201CARLOS (breaking in). Poetry,
Pure poetry! My musings blow such bubbles.
Soap bubbles that all burst as soon as they are
Blown. Trifles! We’ll pass over them in silence.

202PRINCESS (astonished, moves away and observes him from a distance).
I am exhausted. All my probes glance off
This snaky odd one.
(She falls silent for a moment.)
What if it were no more
[1490] Than manly pride costumed as simpleminded
Just to amuse itself the better—what if?
(She approaches the Prince and observes him, undecided.)
you tell me; I stand before a locked
Door; all my keys have failed me.

203CARLOS. So do I.

204PRINCESS (walks away quickly, then walks up and down, apparently considering something important; after a pause, serious and solemn).
All right. I’ll do it—force myself to speak.
I choose you as my judge. You’re honorable:
A man, a prince, a knight. I turn to you.
You’ll rescue me; if I’m beyond rescue,
Quite lost, you’ll weep for me in sympathy.
(The Prince moves closer, sympathetic and expectant.)
A shameless favorite of the Monarch is
[1500] Suing for me. Ruy Gomez, Count of Silva.
The King’s inclined; they’ve reached agreement; I’m
As good as sold.

205CARLOS (much affected). You’re sold? And sold again,
Again by him, famed Merchant of the South?

206PRINCESS. Wait, let me tell you all. It’s not enough
That I am sacrificed to politics;
My chastity they’re after, too. Here, read this.
It’ll tear the mask from that great saint.
(Carlos takes the sheet but does not read it; he hangs on her words.)
Where should
I find protection, Prince? Till now my pride saved
My virtue, then—

207CARLOS. You fell? You fell? Oh, no!
(proud and noble).
[1510] To whom? What sophistry! How small of these
Great minds to think that woman’s favor, prize
Of love, is bought and sold like common wares!
This is the one thing on this earth that can be
Acquired but by itself alone. Love is
The price of love. This is the priceless diamond
That I’ll
bestow or, unenjoyed, I’ll bury
Forever, like that merchant: unimpressed
By the Rialto’s gold, disparaging
All kings, he gave his pearl back to the sea,
[1520] Too proud to sell it under its true value.

208CARLOS. (God is my witness! Is this woman fine!)

209PRINCESS. Just call it notions, vanity—who cares!
I’ll not
divide my favors. To the man,
one whom I have chosen, I’ll give all in
Return for all. I give but once, forever.
My love will make one sole man happy, but this
One like a god. The harmony of souls,
A kiss, the feast of pleasure at the twilight
Hour, beauty’s high and heavenly magic—these
[1530] Are all the sister colors of one beam,
The petals of
one flower. I’d madly give
Away one petal wrested from its chalice?
I’d mutilate a woman’s majesty,
The Godhead’s greatest single masterpiece,
To make a wastrel’s evening hours sweeter?

210CARLOS. (Unbelievable! Madrid had such a girl
As this and I find out just now?)

211PRINCESS. I’d long
Have left this Court, have left the world, had buried
Myself in sacred walls, but one bond binds
[1540] Me to this world, a fantasy perhaps,
But one I cherish. This: I love and I—
Am not loved in return.

212CARLOS (going to her, ardently). You are, you are!
I swear by God in heaven, you are, you
Are, beyond words.

213PRINCESS. It’s you who swear it? You?
That was my guardian angel’s voice! If you
Would swear it, Karl, why then I believe it, then
I am.

214CARLOS (taking her into his arms, full of tenderness).
You sweetest girl, so full of soul!
Adorable creation! I’m all ears,
All eyes, and all enchantment, admiration.
[1550] Who could have seen you, who on earth, and claim
He’s never loved? But here at Philip’s Court—
What are you doing here, you angel? Here
Among priests and their kind? These are no skies
For flowers such as you. They want to break them?
They want to, yes, I believe it. As I live, no!
I’ll put my arm around you, take you in
My arms across a hell that’s full of devils!
Yes, let me be your angel.

215PRINCESS (with an open look of love). Carlos! Oh!
How little I have known you! How your heart
[1560] Rewards the labor spent to understand it!
(She takes his hand; about to kiss it.)

216CARLOS (withdrawing his hand).
Princess, where are you now?

217PRINCESS (fine and graceful, gazing into his hand).
How lovely is
This hand! How rich! This hand, Prince, has two gifts
To give: a diadem and Carlos’ heart.
And both to give
one mortal? Only one?
A grand and godlike gift! For
one perhaps
Too great! How would it be, should you decide to
Divide it? Queens love badly. Women who
Can love well have no feeling for a crown.
Prince, better to divide, to do so now, right
[1570] Now. Or have you already? Have you really?
So much the better! Do I know her?

218CARLOS. You shall.
To you, to you, I’ll tell. To innocence, to
A pure, undesecrated nature I’ll
Reveal it. You’re the first here at this Court,
The only worthy one to understand
My soul. It’s true. I love.

219PRINCESS. You naughty boy!
Confession is so hard for you? I had to
Make myself pitiable for you to find
Me lovable?

220CARLOS (starts). What’s this?

221PRINCESS. To toy with me
[1580] That way! That was not handsome, Prince. And to
Deny you had the key—

222CARLOS. The key!
(A baffled silence.)
The key!
So that was it. The key! The—Oh, my God!
(His knees give way. He supports himself on a chair and covers his face.)
(Another silence.)

223PRINCESS (with a loud cry, falls).
Atrocious! What have I done?

224CARLOS (standing straight again; in great pain).
To fall so deep
From all my dreams! It’s awful.

225PRINCESS (her face against a cushion). Must I hear this?

226CARLOS (kneeling before her).
It’s not my doing, Princess. Passion only—
A terrible misunderstanding— God!
It’s not my doing.

227PRINCESS (pushing him away). Out! Out of my sight!
For God’s sake—

228CARLOS. Never! I should leave you in such
A state?

229PRINCESS (pushing him away with force).
For mercy, pity, out of my
[1590] Sight! Do you want to murder me? I hate
The sight of you!
(Carlos is about to go.)
My letter and my key.
And where’s the other letter?

230CARLOS. Other letter?
What other letter?

231PRINCESS. From the King.

232CARLOS (stunned). From who?

233PRINCESS. The one that I just gave you.

234CARLOS. From the King?
Who to? To you?

  • 56 Eboli has just betrayed her unspoken thought at scene 7, above, lines 1302–1303: “He must know abou (...)

235PRINCESS. Dear God! What have I said!56
The letter! I must have the letter!

236CARLOS. Letters
To you, and from the King?

237PRINCESS. The letter! By all
That’s holy!

238CARLOS. That would unmask someone? This one?

239PRINCESS. I’m lost! I’m dead! Just give it me.

240CARLOS. This letter—

241PRINCESS (wringing her hands).
[1600] What have I done? What have I done?

242CARLOS. This letter
Came from the King? That, Princess, changes every-
(holding the letter triumphantly aloft)
a priceless, weighty, costly letter
That all the crowns of Philip are too light,
Too trivial to redeem.
This letter I
Shall keep.
(He goes off.)

243PRINCESS (trying to block his way).
Dear God in heaven! I am lost!

Scene Nine

244The Princess alone

245She stands still stunned, beside herself; when he has left, she hurries after, to call him back.

  • 57 Eboli is now in a position to understand Carlos’s abandoning the Queen on the dance floor when the (...)

246PRINCESS. Prince, one more word! Prince, hear me! He is gone!
That, too, now. He despises me. And here
I am, in terrible solitude, cast off,
(She sinks into a chair. Pause.)
No! I’m only pushed aside, pushed
[1610] Aside; I have a rival. He loves someone.
No doubt at all. He said as much himself.
who’s the lucky one? This much is clear:
He loves what he ought not. He fears discovery.
He hides his passion from the King. But why
From him, who’d only wish it? Or perhaps
It’s not his father whom he fears in Father?
When he learned of his father’s amorous aims, he
Was overjoyed, beside himself. How came his
Strict virtue to fall silent here? Precisely
[1620] Here? What does he gain if the King betrays—
(She stops suddenly, surprised by a thought. She quickly pulls
the ribbon Carlos has given her from her bodice, examines it,
and recognizes it.)
Why, what a fool I’ve been! Where were my wits? Now
I see. Why, they loved one another long
Before the King chose her. The Prince came only
When she was there. Then only. So
she was meant—
And I was so sure I was loved!
57 What a
Deceit! And I’ve betrayed my weakness to her.


  • 58 “Romantic” here in the sense of belonging to the literary genre called “romance.”
  • 59 Eboli’s unspoken thought becomes concrete in the figure of the first speaker in the next scene.

248Am I to believe that he loves without hope?
That can’t be true. A hopeless love cannot
Hold out in such a contest. To feast where
[1630] The world’s most brilliant monarch, unheard, must
Go hungry—Hopeless love’s not equal to
That quest. How fiery his kiss was! How tender
That clasp against his heart! That sample was
Almost too daring for romantic
58 trueness
That’s to go unrequited. He takes the key
He believes the Queen has sent him—really believes
In such a giant step of love; he comes,
Comes truly, comes—thinks Philip’s wife would fix
On such a deed—How could he, if he does
[1640] Not have real proofs that bolster his resolve?
It’s clear as day. This love is heard. She loves him!
Heaven and earth! This saintly one has feelings!
Is she not sly! Before this paragon of
Virtue, myself, I trembled. Like a higher
Being she towered over me. Her brilliance
Eclipsed me. I begrudged her beauty all
That calm, that freedom from all mortal passion.
And all this calm was no more than apparent?
She’d want to feast at both those tables? Would
[1650] Have made a great display of all that virtue
And dared to nibble secretly crime’s sweetmeats?
Could get away with that? And unavenged?
Since there was no avenger? No, by God!
I worshipped her. And this demands revenge!
The King should know of this deceit—The King?
(She stops to think.)
Yes, right—that is one way to reach his ear.
59 (She goes off.)

249A room in the Royal Palace

Scene Ten

250Duke Alba. Father Domingo.

251DOMINGO. What did you want to tell me?

252ALBA. Of important
Discoveries I’ve just made. Some explanation—

253DOMINGO. Discoveries? What?

254ALBA. At noon today I meet
] Prince Carlos in the Queen’s reception room. There
I am insulted. We exchange words and
Our quarrel becomes noisy; we draw our swords.
The Queen, at this disturbance, opens her door
And puts herself between us, throws the Prince
A look of pure despotic intimacy—
A single look. He drops his arm, flies to
Embrace me—I still feel his kiss—and he
Is gone.

255DOMINGO (after a silence).
I find that most suspicious. Duke, you
Remind me—Similar thoughts have long been sprouting

] In my mind. I’ve avoided them, said nothing.
There’re double-edged swords and unreliable friends.
I fear them. To distinguish men is hard,
And harder still is it to plumb men’s depths.
An ill-considered word will turn on you.
I buried my secret—till time bring it to light.
There’re certain services one does not render
Kings; risky throws that, if they miss their target,
Spring back upon the thrower. What I say
I’d swear upon the Host. Eye-witness, though, a

] Word overheard, a scrap of paper: all fall
Heavier into the scale than sharpest instincts.
Our luck to stand on Spanish ground!

256ALBA. And why?

257DOMINGO. At any other court a passion can
Forget itself. It’s cautioned here by frightening
Laws. Spanish queens have trouble wandering off
The straight and narrow, true enough—but our
Bad luck is, it is just exactly here
That, with best luck, we’d take them by surprise.

258ALBA. There’s more yet. Carlos had an audience with
[1690] The King today. It lasted a full hour.
He wanted the command of the Low Countries.
He pleaded loud and long. I heard it from
The private study. When I met him at
The door his eyes were red with weeping. Then,
At midday, I find him triumphant, charmed
The King has seen fit to give me his preference.
He thanks him. All is changed, he says, and better.
He never could dissemble. How to rhyme this?
The Prince is jubilant to be passed over,
[1700] And I receive a royal favor with
A full display of rage! What should I think?
Why, this new rank of mine has every mark
Of banishment.

  • 60 The word “new,” and its synonyms, occurs frequently in the text henceforth. New things are deeply i (...)

259DOMINGO. So it has come to this?
An instant wrecks what we’ve been building now
For years? And you so calm and so composed?
Do you know him, this youngster? Have you thought
Of what awaits us when he’s king? The Prince—
I’m not his enemy. I’ve other cares,
Cares for the Throne, for God and Church. The Prince—
[1710] I know him, I see through his soul—is nursing
A dreadful plan, a madness: he as regent
Plans to renounce our sacred faith—renounce it!
His heart is all alight for a new
60 virtue
A virtue, proud, assured, and self-sufficient,
That nothing asks of any faith. He
He’s full of fire from a chimera, Duke:
He honors human beings. That as king?

260ALBA. Oh,
Pooh! It could also be just youthful pride
That longs to have a role. Has he a choice?
[1720] This will all pass when it’s his turn to rule.

261DOMINGO. I have my doubts. He’s proud of all his freedom,
Little accustomed to compulsion, which
Is how one buys a right to use compulsion.
This overbearing turn of mind will break through
The lines of all our statecraft. This as king?
I tried without success to drain his willful
Spirit on the keen pleasures of our times. He
Withstood the test. This mind in such a body
Is terrible—and Philip turning sixty!

  • 61 The mixed metaphor is present in the German.

262[1730] ALBA. You’re looking far into the future.
The Queen agree. This innovator’s venom
Seeps, still concealed, into both breasts. Soon enough,
If it gains ground, it’ll seize the Throne.
61 Well do
I know these Valois. We must fear this silent
Woman’s revenge if Philip shows a weakness.
Luck’s on our side. Let us anticipate.
We’ll catch the two of them in
one net. Let’s give
The King a signal. Proven or unproven,
We’ve gained much if he hesitates.
We have
[1740] No doubt, and when one is convinced, one can
Convince. This cannot fail. And we’ll discover
More, knowing that we must discover.

263ALBA. The most
Important question last: Who undertakes
To tell the King?

  • 62 The lily was the heraldic device of the house of Valois.

264DOMINGO. Not you, not I. Learn now
What I’ve long worked in secret. To complete
Our league we need a third, essential person.
The King’s in love with Princess Eboli.
I feed this passion, fodder for my wishes.
He’s made me his ambassador. I’ll dress
[1750] Her for our plans. In this young woman, if
My scheme succeeds, an ally blossoms for
Us and a queen. She’s summoned me herself
To meet her here. I have great hopes of this.
Those lilies of Valois
62—a little Spaniard
Perhaps will break them in a single midnight.

265ALBA. Amazing! I can hardly believe what I
Have heard. This blow will do it. I admire you,
Dominican. We’ve won!

266DOMINGO. Still! Who is coming?
She’s here. In person.

267ALBA. I’m in the next room—
[1760] If you should—

268DOMINGO. Excellent! I’ll call you.

269(Duke Alba goes off.)

Scene Eleven

270The Princess. Domingo.

271DOMINGO. At your
Service, my Gracious Princess.

272PRINCESS (with curiosity, following the departing Duke with her eyes).
Are we not
Alone? You’ve brought a witness?

273DOMINGO. How so?

274PRINCESS. Who is
It has just left you?

275DOMINGO. It’s Duke Alba, Princess,
Who asks leave also to be heard.

  • 63 Eboli had thought she was embarking on an amorous intrigue in the private sphere, urged by a pander (...)

276PRINCESS. Duke Alba?
he want? What can he want? You’d know?63

277DOMINGO. I? Without
Knowing what weighty change of fortune secures
For me at last the privilege of approaching
My gracious Princess Eboli once more?
(Pause, in which he expects her answer.)
Perhaps at last a circumstance presents
[1770] Itself, one favorable to our Monarch’s wishes?
If I hoped rightly that mature reflection
Would reconcile you to an offer refused
Out of caprice? I am all expectation—

278PRINCESS. You brought the King my recent answer?

Refrained from wounding him so fatally. You’ve
Yet time, my Gracious Princess, to relent.

280PRINCESS. Inform the King that I expect him.

May take your words for truth, my lovely Princess?

282PRINCESS. Most surely not for jest? You frighten me.
[1780] What have I done that even you blanch?

Surprise, Princess. Who’d grasp—

284PRINCESS. Your Reverence should
Not grasp. I would not have you grasp it. It’s
Enough for you that it is so. Do spare
Yourself the trouble puzzling out exactly
Whose eloquence to thank for this departure.
Be reassured:
You have no part in this sin,
And just as little does the Church; though you’ve
Proved me that there’d be cases where the Church
Knew, even she, to use the
bodies of her
[1790] Young daughters for her higher purposes.
No, not the Church. Such pious grounds, your Reverence,
Escape me.

285DOMINGO. I retract them gladly when
They prove superfluous.

286PRINCESS. Entreat the Monarch
In my behalf not to mistake me here.
What I once was I am yet. Circumstances
Merely have changed. When I repulsed his offer,
Insulted, I yet believed him
happy in
Possession of the best of Queens, thought her
A faithful consort worth my sacrifice.
[1800] I believed that then; now I know better.

287DOMINGO. Princess,
Say more, say more. I’m listening. You and I,
We understand each other.

288PRINCESS. Enough that she’s
Been caught. For I’ll spare her no longer. Now
The thief’s been caught. The King, all Spain, and I—
We’ve been deceived. She loves. I know full well
She loves. I’ve proofs to make her tremble. The King’s
Deceived. Let him not be so, unavenged.
Her mask of highest superhuman, saintly
Renunciation I shall tear away
[1810] And show the world the face of sin. It costs me
A monstrous price but—here’s my triumph—
One greater yet.

289DOMINGO. The time is ripe. Permit me
To call the Duke.
(He goes out.)

290PRINCESS (astonished). What is this?

Scene Twelve

291The Princess. Duke Alba. Domingo.

292DOMINGO (leading in the Duke). Our great news,
Duke Alba, comes a little late. The Princess
Reveals to us a secret that she was
Supposed to learn from us.

293ALBA. My presence then will
Surprise her that much less.
My eyes are worthless.
Discoveries such as this require a woman’s.

294PRINCESS. Discoveries that you speak of—

295DOMINGO. We would know,
[1820] Most Gracious Princess, a better place and better
Hour to—

296PRINCESS. That, too! Then I’ll expect you noon
Tomorrow. I have reason to withhold
My secret from the King no longer.

297ALBA. That’s
What brings
me here. The King must know this promptly,
Princess, know it through you. Who should he believe
If not the watchful intimate of his wife?

298DOMINGO. Who more than you, who, wishing to, shall have full
Dominion over him?

299ALBA. I am the Prince’s
Declared foe.

300DOMINGO. That’s assumed of me as well.
[1830] The Princess Eboli is free. Where we must
Keep silent, duty says that you must speak. If
That works, we have the King.
We’ll do the rest.

301ALBA. But it must happen soon. At any moment
I can be ordered to march out—

302DOMINGO (after considering; to the Princess).
Can letters
Perhaps be found? From the Infante? That’d have
Effect. I believe you sleep in her same room?

303PRINCESS. Right next to hers. Why ask?

304DOMINGO. Someone who’s good
With locks! You’ve noticed where she keeps the key to
Her casket?

305PRINCESS (reflecting). That could work. The key—it could
[1840] Be found, I think.

306DOMINGO. For letters there are bearers.
The Queen has a large retinue. If one
Got on the track— Gold would go far—

307ALBA. Who’s seen
If the Infante has intimates?

308DOMINGO. None. In all
Madrid, not one.

309ALBA. Now, that is strange.

310DOMINGO. Trust me. He
Despises the whole Court. I have my proofs.

311ALBA. Can that be right? It seems to me I saw
Him standing with a page of hers. I had
Just left the Queen. The two spoke secretly—

312PRINCESS (breaking in).
Oh, no. That can’t be right. That’s something else.

[1850] We know that? No. It sounds suspicious. (To the Duke.) Did
You recognize the page?

314PRINCESS. Tom-foolery!
What else can it have been? Enough; I know
All that. We’ll meet again before I see
The King. Meanwhile, much will emerge.

315DOMINGO (taking her aside). The Monarch
Can hope? And may I tell him so? Quite sure?
And what well chosen hour might bring his wishes
To consummation? This, too?

316PRINCESS. In a few days
I shall fall ill. One separates me from
The Queen. That’s customary, as you know.
[1860] I’ll keep my room.

317DOMINGO. Most excellent! And our
Great game is won. Defiance to all queens—

318PRINCESS. Listen! They’re calling me. The Queen wants me.

319(She hurries out.)

Scene Thirteen

320Alba. Domingo.

321DOMINGO (after a pause in which his gaze follows the Princess).
These roses, Duke, your battles—

322ALBA. And your God—
Thus I await the bolt that’d topple us!

323(They go off.)

324In a Carthusian cloister

Scene Fourteen

325Don Carlos. The Prior.

326CARLOS (entering, to the Prior).
Already been here, you say? What a pity!

327PRIOR. Three times since just this morning. It has been
An hour now since he left.

328CARLOS. He’ll come again,
I hope? He left no message?

329PRIOR. Before noon,
He promised.

  • 64 The river of Madrid.

330CARLOS (looking out from the window).
Walls set back far from the road.
[1870] The towers of Madrid there in the distance.
Quite right. The Manzaneres flowing past.
A perfect landscape. Everything is still,
Just like a secret.

331PRIOR. Like the entrance to
The next life, Prince.

332CARLOS. Your probity protects,
Most Reverend Father, what to me remains
Most precious and most holy. Mortal man is
Never to know
who I have met here and
secret. I have every reason to
Deny him to the world. That’s why I chose
[1880] This cloister. We’re safe from betrayal here?

333PRIOR. Trust us, my Lord. Suspicious kings won’t sift
graves. And curious ears press only doors
To pleasure and to passion. Inside these walls
The world is at an end.

334CARLOS. You think this caution,
This shyness shield a guilty conscience?

335PRIOR. I think
Nothing at all.

336CARLOS. You would be wrong to think
So, Reverend Father. My secret hides from men
But not from God.

337PRIOR. My son, we little care. This
Refuge shields crime no less than innocence.
[1890] If good or evil, just or unjust, your
Intention must be squared with your own heart.

338CARLOS (warmly).
What we keep secret cannot smirch your God.
It’s His own work. To you I can disclose it.

  • 65 For hourly prayer. Latin hora is “hour.”

339PRIOR. And to what end? Spare me, dear Prince! The world
With all its chattels lies long since packed up
For that great journey. Why in this brief space
Before departure break the seals again?
One needs so little for salvation. I hear
The bell for Hora strike!
65 I’m called to prayer.

340(The Prior goes off.)

Scene Fifteen

341Don Carlos. Marquis Posa enters.

342[1900] CARLOS. At last, at last, at last—

343MARQUIS. And what a test for
A friend’s impatience! Twice the sun has risen,
Twice set since all has been decided. Only
Now do I get to hear it. Tell me, then—
You’re reconciled?

344CARLOS. Who?

345MARQUIS. Why, you with King Philip.
With Flanders it’s decided, too?

346CARLOS. The Duke’s
To go tomorrow—that’s decided, yes.

347MARQUIS. This cannot be. Can’t be. And all Madrid’s
Deceived? You had a private audience. The King—

348CARLOS. Remained unmoved. And we’re divided now
[1910] Forever, more than ever—

349MARQUIS. You’ll not go
To Flanders?

350CARLOS. No! No! No!

351MARQUIS. My hopes! My dreams!

352CARLOS. That by the bye. Oh, Roderick, since we
Last saw each other, what have I not been through!
But now I need your help. I have to see her—
MARQUIS. Your mother? No. What for?

353CARLOS. I’ve certain hopes.
You blanch. Don’t worry. I’ll be happy yet.
But of that later. Now I need your help. I
Must see her.

354MARQUIS. What is this? What grounds have you
For this new round of fever dreams?

355CARLOS. Not dreams!
[1920] By God, who gives us wonders: Truth! Pure truth!
(Producing the King’s letter to Princess Eboli.)
Contained in this important piece of paper!
The Queen is
free: before the world and Heaven.
Just read it and stop marveling.

356MARQUIS (opening the letter). What is this?
The King’s own hand?
(Having read the letter.) Who’s this addressed to?

The Princess Eboli. Two days ago a
Queen’s page brings me a letter and a key. I’m
Directed to the Queen’s pavilion, where
A lady I’ve long loved waits. I go—

358MARQUIS. You go!

359CARLOS. The hand’s unknown to me. There’s only one
[1930] Such whom I know. Who else would think Karl loves her?
Sweetly confused, I fly to meet her. Singing
I hear tells me which room. I open, enter:
Who is it that I find? Conceive my horror!

360MARQUIS. I’ve guessed it all.

361CARLOS. I had been lost, Roderigo,
Had I not fallen into an angel’s hands.
Perverse luck! Wicked chance! Deceived by my
Rash glances, she had let herself believe
she was
The object of my gaze. Touched by my suffering,
Her generous heart impulsively responds.
[1940] Respect for her, I find, imposes silence;
She’s bold to break it and lays her heart open—

362MARQUIS. You tell me this so calmly? She saw through you.
No doubt about it: she has pierced your secret.
She’s mortally insulted. And she rules
The King.

363CARLOS (confident). She’s virtuous.

364MARQUIS. Because it serves
Her love. This virtue, I regret to say,
I know it; know how little it attains
To that Ideal, conceived in grace, that springs from
The fruitful seedbed of the soul and, with
[1950] No gardener’s help, blooms with extravagance.
This is an alien branch forced with shammed warmth
In colder, rawer latitudes. Call it
Good manners or high principle, it is
innocence acquired, rung from hot blood
By struggle and by guile, ascribed with care
And conscience to whatever heaven fosters
It and makes it worthwhile. Decide yourself:
Can she forgive it of the Queen that a man
Went past her hard-fought virtue to consume
[1960] Himself in hopeless love for Philip’s wife?

365CARLOS. Do you know Princess Eboli that well?

366MARQUIS. I’ve hardly seen her twice in life. I’ll just say:
I found her skilled in skirting signs of vice
And noticed she
knew all about her virtue.
And then I saw the Queen. Karl, what a difference!
In native, natural quiet glory, so with
Heedless frivolity as with decorum’s
Hair-splitting calculations unacquainted,
As far removed from rashness as from fear,
[1970] Firm like a heroine, she keeps the narrow
Middle way of what is
becoming, never
Knowing how she compels devotion, she who
Has never dreamt that she would be applauded.
Does my Karl recognize his Eboli
In such a mirror now? The Princess held firm
Because she loved. Love was expressly a
Condition of her virtue. You refused. She
Will fall.

367CARLOS (emphatically). Oh, no! No!
(After walking up and down.) No, I tell you. If
Roderigo only knew how it befits him
[1980] To rob his Karl of his most god-like joy,
His belief in human excellence!

Deserve that?
No, my soul’s beloved, that I
Did not intend. This Eboli, though— Were she
An angel, honorable like you, I’d kneel
Before her, had she not found out your secret.

369CARLOS. No need to fear. Does she have proofs that do
Not shame her? Would she let revenge cost her
Her honor?

370MARQUIS. Others have redeemed a shame by
Disgracing themselves.

371CARLOS (jumping to his feet). No, that is too hard!
[1990] She’s proud and noble. I know her and I
Fear nothing. You’ll not scare away my hopes.
I’ll see my mother.

372MARQUIS. Now? And to what purpose?

373CARLOS. I’ve no need to forbear now. I must know
My fate. Arrange for me to see her.

374MARQUIS. You’d
Show her this letter? Would you?

375CARLOS. Do not ask.
A way to see her!

376MARQUIS (with meaning). Did you not say you loved her?
And you’d show her this letter?
(Karl looks down in silence.)
Karl, I see
Something in you—It’s new, not seen till now.
You turn away? Why turn away? It’s true?
[2000] Did I read right? Let’s have a look—

377(Carlos gives him the letter. He tears it up.)

378CARLOS. You’re mad!
(Less irritated.)
Truly. I counted on that letter.

379MARQUIS. That’s why
I tore it up.
(The Marquis lets his eyes rest on the Prince, who returns his gaze uncertainly. Long silence.)
Just tell me now: What exactly
Have desecrations of the royal bed
To do with you—and with this love of yours?
Was Philip dangerous to you? What can
Connect the husband’s violated duty
With your audacious hopes? Has he offended
There where you love? At last I see you. And
How badly have I grasped your love till now.

380[2010] CARLOS. How, Roderick? What’s your meaning?

381MARQUIS. Now I feel
What I must live without. Once it was different.
You were so rich, so warm. A world entire
Had room in your great heart. That’s gone, devoured by
One single passion, a bit of self-seeking.
Your heart has died. No tear for the hard fate of
The provinces, no tear! Oh, Karl, how poor
You have become, how very poor, now that you
Love no one but yourself!

382CARLOS (throws himself into a chair. Pause. On the verge of tears).
Respect me anymore.
I know you don’t

383MARQUIS. Not so, dear Karl!
[2020] I know these feelings—worthy feelings gone wrong.
The Queen had belonged to you; the Monarch robbed you.
You doubted you had rights. Perhaps the King
Deserved her. You held back from judgment. Then
The letter judged: You were the worthier one.
Proudly, with pleasure, you saw Fate convicted
Of tyranny and robbery. It pleased you
To be the one offended, for injustice
Flatters great souls. But here your fantasy went
Astray: your pride found
satisfaction and
[2030] Your heart took hope. You see, I knew it: You
Misunderstood yourself this time.

384CARLOS (touched). You’re wrong.
Nothing so noble did I think as you
Would have me believe.

385MARQUIS. Do you know me so little?
Look, Karl, when you go wrong, I try to guess
Which virtue among hundreds is to blame.
Now that we understand each other better,
So be it! You shall see the Queen; in fact,
You must—

386CARLOS (embracing him).
Oh, how you shame me!

  • 66 Posa’s long sifting of Carlos’s motives prepares the way for a new departure of the plot. The focus (...)

387MARQUIS. You’ve my word.
Leave all the rest to me. For a wild thought,
[2040] A bold and happy one is rising in my
A bold and happy one is rising in my
Imagination. You shall hear it from
Another. I shall reach the Queen. Perhaps
We’ll have an outcome early as tomorrow.
Till then, Karl, don’t forget that an attempt born
Of higher reason, forced by human suffering,
Ten thousand times defeated, never can be
Abandoned. Clear? Remember Flanders!

388CARLOS. All, all
That you and higher virtue ask of me.

389MARQUIS (going to the window).
Our time is up. I hear your retinue.
[2050] Crown prince again and vassal. (They embrace.)

390CARLOS. Straight to town?

391MARQUIS. To town.

392CARLOS. Just one word more. How easily
Forgotten! Most important: Letters to
Brabant are opened by the King. Be careful!
The imperial post has secret orders—

Do you know this?

394CARLOS. Don Raimond Taxis is
My friend.

395MARQUIS (after a silence).
That, too! They’ll go by way of Germany.

396(They go off by different doors.)

Marquis Posa. Steel engraving by Albrecht Fürchtegott Schultheiss from a drawing by Friedrich Pecht. Friedrich Pecht: Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),​wiki/​File:Schiller-Galerie_komplett_Bild_16.jpg


44 The privilege of wearing one’s hat in the presence of the king was the mark of the very highest nobility and of the king’s particular favor.

45 The contrast made here is between the King’s son and his paid—or bribed—courtiers.

46 Philip, too, is marked by the solitude of royalty and by friendlessness. The motif will return.

47 The comedy that follows here is a variant on the set piece of the misdirected letter and a further complication of the plot.

48 The Duke of Savoy commanded the Spanish troops that defeated the French at Saint Quentin in 1557.

49 Alba had been present in the Schmalkaldic War, a confessional conflict in eastern Germany (1547), where he became known for his cruelty.

50 See Act II, scene 1, lines 900–901.

51 What Eboli is thinking will be disclosed at the end of this episode.

52 Eboli is expressing doubt about the truth of Carlos’s elaborate lie. We know from her early mention of Carlos (Act I, scene 3, lines 389–390) that she has long been interested in him; her belief that he is interested in her prompted her to write him and informs her responses here to his evasions.

53 Carlos feels himself exposed, and Eboli, seizing her advantage, adopts a tone of raillery.

54 Eboli has misconstrued the first incident she recounts.

55 The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

56 Eboli has just betrayed her unspoken thought at scene 7, above, lines 1302–1303: “He must know about it.”

57 Eboli is now in a position to understand Carlos’s abandoning the Queen on the dance floor when the King appeared (scene 8, above, lines 1457–1461).

58 “Romantic” here in the sense of belonging to the literary genre called “romance.”

59 Eboli’s unspoken thought becomes concrete in the figure of the first speaker in the next scene.

60 The word “new,” and its synonyms, occurs frequently in the text henceforth. New things are deeply inimical to a conservative regime such as Spain’s Catholic monarchy during the Counter-Reformation. Latin nova res (new thing) denotes what is new in the sense of being revolutionary, and that meaning is present here.

61 The mixed metaphor is present in the German.

62 The lily was the heraldic device of the house of Valois.

63 Eboli had thought she was embarking on an amorous intrigue in the private sphere, urged by a pandering priest. She wonders why the King’s first minister keeps turning up.

64 The river of Madrid.

65 For hourly prayer. Latin hora is “hour.”

66 Posa’s long sifting of Carlos’s motives prepares the way for a new departure of the plot. The focus of the play has begun to shift from the figure of Carlos to that of Posa.)

Table des illustrations

Légende Princess Eboli. Steel engraving by Conrad Geyer from a drawing by Arthur von Ramberg. Friedrich Pecht, Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),​wiki/​File:Schiller-Galerie_komplett_Bild_17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 460k
Légende Marquis Posa. Steel engraving by Albrecht Fürchtegott Schultheiss from a drawing by Friedrich Pecht. Friedrich Pecht: Schiller-Galerie (Leipzig, 1859),​wiki/​File:Schiller-Galerie_komplett_Bild_16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 449k


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