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Don Carlos Infante of Spain

Friedrich Schiller

Act Five

Texte intégral

A room in the Royal Palace, separated by an iron grating from a large courtyard in which Guards walk up and down

Scene One

1Carlos sitting at a table, his head resting on his arms, as if he were asleep. In the background, a few Officers locked in with him. Marquis Posa enters quietly and speaks with the Officers, who remove themselves. He approaches Carlos, who is unaware, and observes him silently and sadly. He finally makes a motion that rouses Carlos.

2CARLOS (stands up, notices the Marquis, and starts. He gazes at him as if uncomprehending, then sweeps his hand over his forehead, as if recovering a memory).

3MARQUIS. It’s me, Karl.

4CARLOS (offering his hand). You have even come to me?
That’s good of you.

5MARQUIS. I thought that you could use A good friend here.

6CARLOS. You did? You really thought so?
I’m glad. I’m truly glad. I thought—I knew—
We were still friends.

7MARQUIS. And I’ve deserved it of you.

8CARLOS. Oh, yes! We understand each other still.
I like that. Gentleness and mildness become
Great hearts like yours and mine. We’ll grant that one
Of my demands was proud and wrong—must you
[3700] Deny me right ones? Virtue can be hard
But never cruel, never inhumane.
It cost you much! I think I understand
How much it hurt your heart as you prepared
Your victim for the sacrifice.

9MARQUIS. Carlos!
How do you mean that?

10CARLOS. You will now complete what
I should have and could not. You’ll give the Spaniards
The golden days they hoped from me. I’ve lost
My chance, lost it forever. You saw that.
This dreadful love swept all my mind’s first bloom
[3710] Away. I failed of your great hopes. Then chance
Or Providence brings you the King. It costs
My secret, and he’s yours; you can become
His angel. There’s no saving me now—Spain,
Perhaps. Oh, nothing here’s detestable but
My raving blindness—not to have seen until
This day that you’re as great as you are kind.

  • 1 The Queen assesses Posa rather differently. See Act IV, scene 21, lines 3602–3607.


12MARQUIS. No, that I’d not foreseen: not that a generous
Friend could be more inventive than my worldly
Scheming. My edifice comes crashing down,
[3720] For I forgot your heart.

13CARLOS. Could you have just
her! I would have thanked you endlessly.
Could I not bear it all alone? She had
To be the second victim? But enough!
I’ll not reproach you. What’s the Queen to
you love her? Your stringent virtue should
my love’s small cares? I was unjust.

14MARQUIS. You are. But not for this reproach. If I
Deserved one, I deserved all—and I’d not be
Standing this way before you.
(He takes out his letter case.) Here are letters
[3730] You gave me—

15CARLOS (looks, amazed, from the letters to the Marquis).

16MARQUIS. Returned because they’re safer
In your hands now than mine.

17CARLOS. What’s this? The King’s
Not read them? He’s not even seen them?

18MARQUIS. These?

19CARLOS. You didn’t show him all?

20MARQUIS. Who said I’d shown
Him any?

21CARLOS (astonished). Why, Count Lerma—

22MARQUIS. He did? Now
It all makes sense. Who’d have foreseen it? Lerma!
He’s never learned to lie. But yes, that’s right:
It’s other letters in the King’s possession.

23CARLOS (stares at him, speechless).
What am I doing here, then?

24MARQUIS. A precaution.
Before you choose an Eboli to be

Your confidante again—

25CARLOS (as if waking from a dream). Ha! Now at last
I see. It’s clear as day.

26MARQUIS (moving toward the door). Who’s coming there?

Scene Two

27Duke Alba. As above.

28ALBA (approaches the Prince respectfully; his back is turned to Posa throughout the scene).
Prince, you are free. The King has sent me here To tell you.
(Carlos looks at the Marquis in wonderment. All are silent.) I consider myself favored That I should be the first— CARLOS (regards them both with utter amazement. After a pause, to the Duke).
I am imprisoned And then set free and don’t know why I have Been either?

29ALBA. A mistake, my Prince, to which, I believe, some—cheat—induced the King.

30CARLOS. But it Is at the Monarch’s orders that I find Myself here?

31ALBA. By an error of the King.

32[3750] CARLOS. I’m truly sorry, but—when the King errs,
It falls to him alone to mend the error.
(He seeks Posa’s gaze and toward the Duke observes a proud
They call me here Don Philip’s son. On me
The eyes of calumny and prying rest. What
His Majesty has done me out of duty
I’ll not appear to owe to royal grace.
I’m quite prepared to go before the Cortes.
I’ll not accept my sword from such a hand.

33ALBA. The King will have no scruple to admit
Your justified desire, if you will grant that
[3760] I might accompany you—

34CARLOS. I shall stay here
Until the King—or his Madrid—conduct
Me from this jail. Bring him this answer from me.

35(Alba removes himself. One sees him in the courtyard giving orders to the Guard.)

Scene Three

36Carlos and Marquis Posa

37CARLOS (astonished and expectant, once they are alone).
But what is this? Are you not minister?

38MARQUIS. I was once, as you see.
(Going to him, very moved.) Dear Karl, success!
Praise God! It has succeeded.

39CARLOS. What’s succeeded?
I don’t know what you’re saying.

40MARQUIS (seizing his hand). You are saved,
You’re free. And I—
(He stops.)

41CARLOS. And you?

42MARQUIS. And I—I press
You to my heart, the first time with good right.
I purchased it with everything that’s dear
[3770] To me. How sweet the moment for me, Karl.
I am content with myself.

43CARLOS. What sudden change
In you! I’ve never seen you so. You stand
More proudly and your eyes shine.

  • 2 We hear this sentiment from Posa for a second time. See Act IV, scene 3, lines 2833–2835.

44MARQUIS. We must part,
Karl. Don’t be startled. Promise me, whatever
You hear, you’ll not make parting harder by
Unbridled grief, unworthy of great souls.
You’ll lose me, and for years. A fool would say
(Carlos withdraws his hand, stares at him, and says nothing.)
Be a man. I’ve counted on you.
I’ve not avoided passing this fraught hour
[3780] That’s called the last with you. Should I confess it?
I have looked forward. Come, let’s sit together.
I feel exhausted.
(He moves close to Carlos, who is still frozen and numbly lets himself be seated.)
You don’t answer? Where
Are you? Just hear: When we’d met at the cloister,
Next day the King sent for me. The outcome
Is known—to you and all Madrid. What you
Don’t know is that your secret had been betrayed
To him, that letters found in the Queen’s casket
Witnessed against you, that I heard this from
Himself, and I became his confidant.
(He pauses, expecting Carlos’s answer.)
[3790] True, Karl. I broke good faith by words I said.
I also led the plot that undermined you.
The deed was all too clear; it was too late
To exculpate you. I could only draw
His vengeance down on me. Thus I became
Your enemy to serve you all the better.
Are you not listening?

45CARLOS. I am listening. Go on.

  • 3 Posa’s earlier word for his concealments was “duplicity” (Zweideutelei), Act IV, scene 3, line 2825

46MARQUIS. I’m guiltless to this point. But soon the un-
Accustomed warmth of royal favor betrays
Me. You hear of these things, as I foresaw.
[3800] But I, seduced by false consideration,
Blinded, conceited, thinking I can finish
This piece of daring all alone, conceal
My dangerous secret from our friendship. That
Is where I overstepped! A great mistake.
My confidence was madness. I relied
On your eternal, never wavering friendship.
(He falls silent; Carlos is now alert and attentive.)
What I feared, happens. Baseless rumors scare you.
The Queen in her own blood, the palace loud
With frightful echoes, Lerma’s hapless zeal,
[3810] My baffling silence: all this storms your feelings.
You waver, then despair. Too noble, though,
To doubt your friend’s good faith, you glorify
His breach of faith and dare to call him faithless
Because you can admire him, faithless, still.
Abandoned by your only friend, you throw
Yourself at Eboli—she was the one
Betrayed you!
(Carlos stands up.)
I see you go, rush after—too late!
You’re kneeling at her feet, you’ve confessed all,
No saving you—

47CARLOS. No! She felt touched. You’re wrong!

  • 4 This is the turning of the plot suppressed at Act IV, scene 17, line 3405.

48[3820] MARQUIS. And everything goes black for me. I’m trapped! Quite
Helpless! Despair turns me into a beast, a
Fury! I draw my blade upon a woman.
But then I see a ray of light:
4 If I
Should dupe the King? Myself appear the guilty
One? Believable or not, it’s believable
Enough for Philip, bad enough for him. I
Dare do it. A thunderbolt perhaps will stop him.
He hesitates and Karl escapes to Flanders.

49CARLOS. You’d do a thing like that?

50MARQUIS. I write to William
[3830] Of Orange, say I loved the Queen, escaped
Suspicion when the King suspected you,
Gained liberal access to the Queen through him.
I say I fear discovery, that you, knowing
These things, have gone to Eboli, perhaps
To warn the Queen, and that I took you prisoner.
Since all is lost, I write, I’d come to Brussels.
This letter—

51CARLOS (interjecting). You did not give to the post?
You know all letters to Brabant and Flanders—

52MARQUIS. Are opened by the King. It seems that Taxis
[3840] Has done his duty.

53CARLOS. God! Then I am lost!

54MARQUIS. Why you?

55CARLOS. And you’re lost with me. This deception
My father never can forgive.

56MARQUIS. Deception?
Who’ll say it was deception?

57CARLOS (staring at him). Who, you ask?
I shall.
(About to leave.)

58MARQUIS. You’re mad! Stay here.

59CARLOS. Away! Away!
He’s hiring his assassins as we speak.

60MARQUIS. Our time is the more precious. We’ve much to say.

61CARLOS. While he’s already—

62MARQUIS. Listen, Carlos—I
(He tries again to go. The Marquis holds him back by the arm and gives him a meaningful look.)
Was not in such a hurry, was I, when you—
A boy—took punishment for me?

63CARLOS (touched and full of admiration). Good angels!

64[3850] MARQUIS. Oh, save yourself for Flanders! See! The realm
Is your appointed task. To die for you
Was mine.

65CARLOS (takes him by the hand, deeply moved).
Oh, no. He can’t, he won’t resist a
Deed so sublime. We’ll go together to him.
Father, I’ll say, see what a friend’s done for
His friend. And he’ll be touched. He’s not without
Humanity, my father isn’t. He’ll shed
Warm tears, and he’ll forgive us.
(A shot through the grating. Carlos leaps up.)
Who was that for?

66MARQUIS. I think for me. (He collapses.)

67CARLOS (with a shriek of pain, falls next to him).
Oh, merciful God!

68MARQUIS (his voice breaking). He’s swift,
The King— I’d hoped for longer— Save yourself—
[3860] You hear? Your mother knows of all— It’s over—

  • 5 It seems the order did not come from Philip. See the stage direction for Alba leaving the prison at (...)

69(Carlos remains lying beside the body. After a while the King enters, accompanied by many Grandees. He starts back at the sight.5 A long pause. The Grandees stand in a semicircle around father and son, looking from one to the other. Carlos lies without a sign of life. The King observes him thoughtfully.)

Scene Four

70The King. Carlos. The Dukes Alba, Feria, and Medina Sidonia. The Prince of Parma. Count Lerma. Domingo and many Grandees.

71KING (speaking kindly).
Your wish is met, Infante. I’ve come, myself,
With all the Grandees of the realm, to set
You free.
(Carlos looks up and around as if waking from a dream. His
eyes rest on the King, then on the body. He does not answer.)
Receive your sword back. One was hasty.
(He offers Carlos his hand and helps him stand up.) My
Son’s not in his right place. Stand up. Come into
Your father’s arms.

72CARLOS (receives the King’s embrace, then catches himself
and looks at him more closely).
Embrace you.
You smell of murder. I’ll not
(He pushes him back; a movement ripples through the Grandees.)
Don’t be so appalled! Say, what’s
My dreadful deed? Well? Touching God’s anointed?
No need to worry. I’ll not lay hand on him.
Can you not see his forehead’s marked? God’s marked him.

73KING (breaking off).
[3870] My Grandees, follow me.

74CARLOS. Not from the spot, Sire—

75(He holds him back with both hands. One hand falls on the sword the King has brought; the sword slips from its scabbard.)

76KING. A sword drawn on your father?

77ALL THE GRANDEES (drawing their swords). Regicide!

78CARLOS (holding the King with one hand, the bare sword with the other).
[3880] This artist.
Put up! What is this? You think I am mad?
I’m not. And if I were, you’d do well not to
Remind me I hold him at sword’s point. Keep
Your distance. Temperaments like mine, they must
Be soothed. My business with the King is no
Concern of vassals and their fealty. See!
See how his fingers bleed! Just look at him!
You see? And now look here.
That’s what he’s done,

79KING (to the Grandees, who want to surround him).
All step back! What’s to be feared?
Are we not son and father? I’ll just see what
Crime Nature—

  • 6 Carlos’s tribute to Posa is an Ecce homo (Behold the man), spoken by Pilate showing Jesus to his ac (...)

80CARLOS. Nature? I know none. The password’s
Murder. The bonds that bind us all are broken.
You’ve torn them, Sire, in all your kingdoms. I
Should honor what you scorn? Oh, look! Look here!
No murder such as this has ever been.
Is there no God? May kings camp so in His
Created world? I ask, is there no God?
Since mothers have borne young, but one alone,
[3890] But one has died so undeservedly.
And do you know what you have done? Why, no.
He doesn’t—doesn’t know that he has stolen
A life from this world, dearer, nobler, more
Important than is he with all his century.

81KING (mildly). If I have been too hasty, ought you, for whom
I was, to call me to account?

82CARLOS. What’s this?
You cannot guess what this man was to me?
Oh, tell him! Help his great mind solve the riddle.
The dead man was my friend. Why did he die?
[3900] It was for me he died.

83KING. What I suspected!

84CARLOS. Forgive me, dead friend. I profane what I
Pronounce to ears like these. Let this great judge
Of men sink down in shame that a smart youth
Outwitted all his hoary wisdom. Sire!
Brothers is what we were to one another,
Brothers by bonds more noble than those forged
By Nature. His life’s course was love, and love
For me his grand and handsome death. He belonged
To me, was
mine, while you made show of his
[3910] Esteem and while his jesting eloquence
Played games with your monstrous intelligence.
You thought that you ruled him—and were the pliant
Tool of his higher plans. Captivity
For me was his deliberate work of friendship.
To save me he wrote Orange that letter—his
First lie in life. To save me he threw himself
Into the death he suffered. You heaped favor
On him; he died for me. You forced your love
And friendship on him, and your scepter was his
[3920] Plaything. He tossed it all away and died
For me.
(The King stands motionless, staring at the floor. The Grandees look toward him, frightened and uneasy.)
And you could believe so crass a lie?
How he must have despised you as he set
Out to suffice you with his bag of tricks!
You dared to court his friendship and you failed
This simple test! Oh, that for you was not
A man. He knew that very well when he
Tossed you aside with all your crowns. You broke
This lute with brazen hands, you who could only
Kill him.

85ALBA (has not let the King out of his sight and has observed the motions of his face with growing unease; he now approaches him, fearful).
[3930] About you. Speak to us.

86CARLOS. Oh, you were not
Sire, not this deathly silence. Look
Indifferent to him. No. He looked on you
With sympathy. Perhaps! He could have made
You happy. So rich was his heart, he could
Have fed you with its excess. Fallen shards of
His spirit had made you a god. You’ve robbed
Yourself. What will you offer to replace
A life like this one?
(Deep silence. Many Grandees avert their gaze or cover their face with their cloak.)
Oh, you who stand here silent with amazement
Or horror, don’t condemn the youth who speaks
[3940] So to his father and his king. Just look here!
He died for me! Do you have tears? Does blood
Flow in your veins, not red-hot iron? Look here
And don’t condemn me!
(He turns to the King with greater composure.)
You perhaps are waiting
To see how this unnatural story ends?
Here is my sword. You are my king again.
You think I tremble at your vengeance? Murder
Me, too, the way you murdered one so noble.
My life is over. What is life to me? I
Renounce all that awaits me. Go and find
[3950] A son among strange peoples. Here lie my kingdoms.

87(He sinks down on the body and takes no part in what now follows. One hears a distant tumult: voices and a mob. All is still around the King. He surveys the circle and no one meets his gaze.)

88KING. Well? No one speaks? Averted eyes! Veiled faces!
My judgment’s pronounced. My subjects all condemn me.

89(Silence still. The tumult comes nearer. A murmur and exchange of gestures courses through the Grandees; Count Lerma finally goes to Alba.)

90LERMA. In truth! We’re stormed!

91ALBA (softly). That’s what I fear.

92LERMA. They’re up
The stairs. They’re coming in.

Scene Five

93An Officer of the Bodyguard. As above.

94OFFICER (urgent). Rebellion!
Where is the King?
(He works his way through the crowd and arrives before the King.)
Madrid is up in arms!
Thousands surround the palace—soldiers, mob.
Prince Carlos, they are saying, is arrested,
His life in danger. They would see him still
Alive or put the torch to all Madrid.

95ALL GRANDEES (moving about).
[3960] Protect, protect the King!

96ALBA (to the King, who is calm and unmoved).
Take flight, my King!
There’s danger. No one knows who’s armed the mob—

97KING (wakes from his numbness and stands up straight;
he goes among them with majesty).
My throne still stands? I am still King of Spain?
No more. Faint hearts shed tears here, softened by
A boy. One only waits to hear the word to
Abandon me. Betrayed by rebels!

98ALBA. Sire,
What fantasy!

99KING. There! Bow down over there!

100ALBA. This is what
Before the young king in full flower! I am
Nought. Powerless. A graybeard.
It’s come to! Spaniards!

101(All gather around the King and kneel before him, swords drawn. Carlos remains beside the body, forsaken and alone.)

102KING (tears off his mantle and tosses it away).
him with this royal
[3970] Ornament, carry him upon my trampled
(He faints in Alba’s and Lerma’s arms.)

103LERMA. Help! Oh, God!

104FERIA. God! What mischance!

105LERMA. He’s fainted—

106ALBA (leaving the King in Lerma’s and Feria’s hands).
Bring him to bed directly. I meanwhile
Go to restore peace to Madrid.

107(He goes off. The King is carried off, accompanied by all Grandees.)

Scene Six7

  • 7 Here begins a long coda that will bring the action to an end. It is composed of brilliant scenes (s (...)

108Carlos remains alone with the body. Luis Mercado appears, looks about timidly and remains standing behind the Prince, who does not notice him.

109MERCADO. I come from
Her Majesty the Queen. I’m called Mercado.
(Carlos looks away and gives no answer.)
I am Her Majesty’s physician. My
(He shows a seal ring. Carlos remains silent.)
Madame wishes to see you
Today yet—matters of importance—

110CARLOS. Nothing
Is of importance to me in this world.

111MERCADO. A charge, she says, that Marquis Posa left—

112CARLOS (leaps to his feet).
[3980] What? Right away. (He is ready to go with him.)

113MERCADO. Not now, my Prince. You must
Wait for the night. The entrances are guarded
And Watches doubled. That wing can’t be entered

114CARLOS. But how—

115MERCADO. One way remains. The Queen
Proposes it. It’s bold and strange—

116CARLOS. And is?

117MERCADO. You know the story that at midnight under
The cloistered arches of the castle wanders
In monk’s attire the ghost of our late Emperor.
The people believe this story and the Watches
Take up their posts with horror. You, if you
[3990] Assume this guise, can pass all Watches untouched
And reach the chamber of the Queen, which this
Key opens. You will find the robe and mask in
Your rooms. But I must bring the Queen your answer

118CARLOS. The time then?

119MERCADO. Is at midnight.

120CARLOS. Your Mistress may expect me at that hour.

121(Mercado goes off.)

Scene Seven

122Carlos. Count Lerma.

123LERMA. Save
Yourself, my Prince. The King is raging at you.
Your freedom’s threatened, or your life. I’ve stolen
Away to warn you. Ask no questions. Take flight!

124CARLOS. A mighty hand shields me

125LERMA. The Queen tells me you’re
To flee Madrid tonight for Brussels. Don’t
Delay. The uproar favors you. That’s why
The Queen has raised it: You’re now safe from force
The Mail awaits you at the cloister; here
Are weapons—

(He gives him a dagger and pistols.)

126CARLOS. Thanks, Count Lerma!

127LERMA. What I saw
Today has touched me. Friends no longer love
That way! Our patriots all weep for you. More
I cannot say.

128CARLOS. Count Lerma, my late friend
Called you a noble man.

129LERMA. Farewell, my Prince!
There’re better days to come—days I’ll not see.
[4010] Receive my homage here. (He drops to one knee.)

130CARLOS (tries to stop him, very moved). Not so, not so, Count.
You touch me and I’ll not be weak.

131LERMA (kissing his hand). King of
My children! Oh, my children shall be able
To die for you. Not I. Remember me
In these, my children. Come to Spain again
In peace. Bring humanness to Philip’s throne.
You, too, have learned to suffer. Nothing bloody
Against your father, Prince. No. Nothing bloody.
Philip the Second forced his father from
The throne; today this Philip trembles before

His son! Remember these things; go with God!

132(He goes off quickly. Carlos is about to go off to another side. He turns and throws himself on the body once more, then goes off quickly.) The King’s antechamber

Scene Eight

133Duke Alba and Duke Feria enter, in conversation.

134ALBA. The town is still. How did you leave the King?

135FERIA. In the most dreadful mood. He’s locked himself in,
Refuses to admit a soul. The Marquis’s
Treason has altered his whole nature. We
Don’t know him anymore.

136ALBA. I have to see him.
No sparing him. A new discovery.

137FERIA. New Discovery?

138ALBA. A Carthusian monk who’d stolen
Into the Prince’s rooms, heard Posa’s death
Recounted there, attracts my Guards’attention.
[4030] He’s questioned. Frightened, he surrenders to us
Papers of greatest interest the deceased
Had charged him give the Prince, should he himself not
Appear before sundown.

139FERIA. And?

140ALBA. Letters there
Say Carlos is to leave Madrid between
Midnight and morning.

141FERIA. What?

  • 8 Cadiz is a Spanish port in Andalusia, Flushing a Dutch port and scene of rebellion.

142ALBA. A ship at Cadiz
Lies under sail and bound for Flushing,
8 where
The Netherlandish states await him to
Throw off their Spanish chains.

143FERIA. Ha! What is this?

144ALBA. Letters there also tell us that a fleet
[4040] Of Soliman has sailed from Rhodes in league
For an attack upon the Spanish king.

145FERIA. That’s possible?

146ALBA. And now I understand
The travels of this Maltese throughout Europe.
These were to arm all northern powers, no less, in
Behalf of Flemish freedom.

147FERIA. That was him!

148ALBA. And, last, there is a detailed plan of war
To separate the Netherlands from Spain
Forever. Nothing is omitted: force and
Resistance calculated; sources, powers
[4050] Enumerated; orders to be followed,
Alliances to be concluded. Devilish,
This project. But in truth, it’s no less god-like.

149FERIA. What an impenetrable traitor!

150ALBA. This
Same letter cites a secret meeting that
The Prince is to keep with his mother on
The evening of his flight.

151FERIA. But that’s tonight.

152ALBA. This midnight. I have given orders for this
Event. You see we cannot lose a moment.
Admit me to the King.

153FERIA. There’s no admission.

154[4060] ALBA. I’ll enter. This is urgent.
(As he approaches the door, it springs open and the King emerges.)

155FERIA. Ha! Himself!

Scene Nine

156The King to join the others. All shrink back at the sight of him and respectfully let him pass among them. He moves in a waking dream, like a sleepwalker. His figure and his dress reflect the disorder in which his faint has left him. He walks slowly past the Grandees, stares at each without seeing. He stops, gazing downward, until his feelings frame themselves in words.

157KING. Deliver this dead man to me. I want
Him back again.

158DOMINGO (softly to Duke Alba).
Say something to him. Speak.

159KING. He thought me little and he died. I want
Him back. He must think otherwise of me.

160ALBA (approaches him fearfully).

161KING. Who is speaking here? (Looking about slowly.)
Have you forgot
Who I am? Why not on your knees? I am
Still king. Submission’s what I want. Do
Now put me last, since
one despised me?

162ALBA. Speak
No more of him, my King! A new foe, graver,
[4070] Far graver, rises in the land.

163FERIA. Prince Carlos—

  • 9 “He” is Carlos.
  • 10 “He” is Posa.
  • 11 Philip’s eulogy to Posa begins here. Carlos’s eulogy has preceded, the Queen’s will follow.

164KING. He had a friend who died for him—for him!
With me he would have shared a kingdom.
9 How he
Looked down on me! That proudly one does not look
Down even from a throne. Could one not see
How much
that conquest raised his sense of worth?
His pain acknowledged what he’d lost. One does
Not mourn that way for a mere mortal.
(Pause.) Were
He still alive!
10 I’d give an India!
Wretched Omnipotence that cannot reach
[4080] Into the grave, correct a bit of haste
With human life! The dead shall not arise.
Who’d say I’m happy? In the grave lies one who
Refused me deference.
11 What are living men
To me? A spirit,
one free man, arose in
This century—one. He despises me
And dies.

165ALBA. We’ve lived in vain! Let’s seek our graves,
Spaniards. In death, no less, this man steals our
King’s heart!

166KING (seating himself and propping his head on his hand).
Had he but died for
me! I loved him,
Loved him like my own son. In him a new
[4090] Dawn broke for me. Who knows what I’d kept open
For him! He was my first great love. All Europe
Curse me! Curse me it may. From him I have
Earned thanks.

167DOMINGO. What evil spell—

168KING. Who did he do
This for? That little son of mine? Oh, no. I’ll
Not believe that. No Posa dies for a mere boy.
Friendship’s poor flame can’t fill a Posa’s heart.
It beat for all humanity. His bent
Was all the world and coming generations.
To meet it, he should find a throne—and pass
[4100] It up? He should forgive himself this treason
On his humanity? I know him better.
Oh, he did not choose Carlos over Philip.
He chose the young man, his disciple, over
The old. The father’s setting sun’s not worth his
New labors. These he saves for the son’s rising.
Oh, they just wait for me to go.

169ALBA. You’ll find
That said quite clearly in these letters, Sire.

170KING (getting to his feet).
Perhaps he has miscalculated. I’m
Still here. I feel a young man’s strength in my
[4110] Sinews. I’ll make of him a laughing stock. His
Virtue be idle dreams. May he have died
A fool. His fall take down his friend, his century!
We’ll see how they get on without me! I
Command the world one evening more. I’ll use
That evening to insure no sower harvests
Among these ashes for ten generations.
He sacrificed me to humanity?
Humanity may pay for it! I’ll start
Out with his puppet.
(To Duke Alba.)
What was that with the
[4120] Infante? Repeat it for me. What is in
These letters for me?

171ALBA In these letters, Sire, you’ll
Find the Marquis’s bequest made to Prince Carlos.

172(The King runs through the letters, closely watched by all those present. When he has read for a while, he lays them aside and walks silently about the room.)

173KING. Summon the Cardinal Inquisitor.
I ask of him one hour.
(One of the Grandees goes out. The King takes up the letters again, reads, lays them aside.)
This very night?

174TAXIS. At two o’clock the Mail halts at the cloister.

175ALBA. My men have noted baggage with the royal
Arms carried to the cloister.


And great sums
In the Queen’s name are said to have been raised
By Moors and payable in Brussels.
[4130] Did one last see the Prince?

178ALBA. Beside the body.

179KING. There’s light in the Queen’s rooms?

180ALBA. It’s quiet there.
And she dismissed her Ladies earlier
Than usual. Duchess Arcos, who last saw
Her, left her in deep sleep.
(An Officer of the Bodyguard enters, draws Duke Feria aside, and speaks with him softly. Feria turns to Duke Alba, others join them, a murmur rises.)

181FERIA, TAXIS, DOMINGO (together). How very strange!

182KING. What’s this?

183FERIA. Sire, a report one cannot believe—

184DOMINGO. Swiss Guards come from their posts—ridiculous—
One can’t repeat it—

185KING. Well?

186ALBA. They say that in
The left wing of the palace they have seen
The Emperor’s ghost go past them solemnly.
[4140] And all the Watch throughout the wing concur
And add the wraith then vanished in the Queen’s

187KING. What form did he take?

  • 12 When Emperor Charles V abdicated in 1556, he retired to the monastery San Jeronimo de Yuste, where (...)

188OFFICER. The habit
Of a monk of Jerome that he took at
San Yuste.

189KING. Of a monk? How did the Watch then
Know him as Emperor? They did not know him
In life.

190OFFICER. The scepter that he carried told them.

191DOMINGO. They say he’s often seen in just this form.

192KING. And no one spoke to him?

193OFFICER. We didn’t dare.
The Watch pronounced its prayers and let him pass
[4150] Straight through.

194KING. And disappeared into the Queen’s rooms?

195OFFICER. The antechamber of the Queen.
(General silence.)

196KING (turning swiftly). What say you?

197ALBA. We’re dumbstruck, Sire.

198KING (after reflecting, to the Officer).
Put my Guard under arms,
Block every entrance in that wing. I’d like
A word with this our ghost.

199(The Officer goes off. A Page enters.)

200PAGE. The Cardinal Inquisitor, Sire!

201KING (to those present). Leave us.

202(The Cardinal Inquisitor, ninety years old and blind, leaning on a staff and led by two Dominicans. As he goes through the rows, all Grandees kneel and touch his hem. He blesses them. They all go off.)

Scene Ten

203The King and the Grand Inquisitor.
Long silence.

Before the King?

205KING. Yes.

206GRAND INQUISITOR. I had not thought so.

207KING. Here I renew a scene from bygone years.
The Infante Philip seeks good counsel from His teacher.

208GRAND INQUISITOR. Your great father, Charles, my pupil,
[4160] Never sought counsel.

209KING. He was that much happier.
I have committed murder, Cardinal. No peace—

210GRAND INQUISITOR. The reason why you murdered?

211KING. A deception Unequalled—


213KING. You know?

214GRAND INQUISITOR. For years, What you found out at sundown.

215KING (deeply startled). He was known To you?

  • 13 The Santa Casa was the prison of the Inquisition.

216GRAND INQUISITOR. His life lies mapped from first to last in The holy registers of Santa Casa.13

217KING. And he went free?

218GRAND INQUISITOR. He fluttered on a long,
Strong string.

219KING. Beyond my borders, too?

Was, I was, too.

221KING (walking up and down, annoyed).
They knew whose hands I lay
[4170] In—and said nothing?

  • 14 The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

222GRAND INQUISITOR. I give you this question
Back: Why did
you not ask before you threw
Yourself at him? You knew him!
One glance showed you
The heretic. What licensed you to hide
This victim from the Holy Office?
14 Does
One play with us this way? If Majesty
Would deal in stolen goods, bargain with our
Worst enemies, what’s to become of us?
one is spared, what right to sacrifice
One hundred thousand?

223KING. He is sacrificed—

224[4180] GRAND INQUISITOR. He’s murdered! Shamefully! Disgracefully!
The blood that was to flow to our great glory
Was wasted at a foul assassin’s hand.
That man was ours. What authorized
you to
Lay hand on holy assets of our Order?
To die by our hand he was there. God gave
Him as a gift to our time’s penury,
In order to expose to common view
The sacrilege of his mind’s vainglorious reason.
That was my well-considered plan. It’s lost now,
[4190] This labor of long years! We have been robbed,
And you are left with bloody hands.

225KING. It’s passion
Drove me to do it.

226GRAND INQUISITOR. Passion? Infante Philip
Answers, and I’m the only old man here?
Passion indeed!
(Shaking his head indignantly.)
Release all consciences
In lands you rule when you have put yourself
In chains.

227KING. I am a child in this. Have patience.

228GRAND INQUISITOR. I’m ill-content with you. To blacken all
Your previous rule! Where was the Philip whose
Firm soul stood like the polar star, unchanging,
[4200] Turning eternally about itself?
The past entire had disappeared? The world
Was not the same when you gave him your hand?
Poison not poison? Had the wall between
Evil and good and true and false collapsed?
What’s men’s good faith? What constancy? What is
Resolve, if one weak moment melts a rule
Of sixty years like women’s moods?
KING. I looked
Into his eyes. Forgive this lapse into
Mere mortalness. The world has one less passage
[4210] To reach your heart: Your eyes admit no light.

229GRAND INQUISITOR. Why did you want this man? What new thing could
He bring, to’ve caught you unprepared? Do you know
Fantastics, new order they invent so little?
You’d never heard the boastful speech of world
Reform? The house of your convictions, if
It falls before mere words, with what effrontery,
I ask, did you condemn one hundred thousand
Poor souls who climbed the pyre for nothing worse?

230KING. I longed to have a man. Domingo here—

231[4220] GRAND INQUISITOR. Why men? Men are for you mere numbers, no more.
And I must hear my graybeard scholar here
Recite the elements of kingly rule? May
The world’s own god learn not to be in need
Of what can be refused him! If
you whine
For sympathy, have you not deemed the world
Your equal? What right can you claim then to
Command your peers?

232KING (throwing himself into a chair).
I am a little man,
I feel it. Of the creature you require
What only the Creator can attain.

233[4230] GRAND INQUISITOR. No, Sire. One doesn’t go behind my back.
You are perceived. You wanted to evade us.
Our Order’s heavy chains chafed you. And you,
You wanted to be free and peerless.
(He stops. The King remains silent.)
We are
Avenged. Be grateful to a Church that is
Content to punish you as would a mother.
The choice that you made blindly was chastisement
Enough, and you have learned your lesson. Now
Return to us. Did I not stand so now
you, as God lives, tomorrow you’d
[4240] Have stood so before me.

234KING. Don’t speak to me
That way! Restrain yourself, Priest! Such a tone
I will not suffer.

  • 15 King Saul, facing defeat in battle and hearing nothing from his appeal to the Lord, had the Witch o (...)

235GRAND INQUISITOR. Why invoke the shade of
15 I gave the Throne two kings and hoped.
To leave behind a firmly founded work.
I see my life’s work lost. Don Philip shakes
My building.
(Pause.) Tell me, Sire, just why have I
Been called? What would you have me do? I’ve no
Desire to come again.

236KING. One task remains,
The last. And then you may depart in peace.
[4250] The past is past. Let us be reconciled.
We are at peace?

237GRAND INQUISITOR. If Philip is contrite.

238KING (after a pause).
My son is planning insurrection.

Have you decided?

240KING. All or nothing.


242KING. To let him flee if I cannot condemn him.


244KING. Can you found a new religion for me
That justifies the murder of one’s child?

245GRAND INQUISITOR. To reconcile eternal justice God’s own
Son died upon the Tree.

246KING. You’ll spread this notion
Throughout all Europe?

247GRAND INQUISITOR. As far as the Cross
[4260] Is honored.

248KING. I commit a crime against all
Nature. This fearsome voice you’ll silence?

No voice of Nature where there’s faith.

250KING. I lay
My judge’s office in your hands. May I
Step back entirely?

251GRAND INQUISITOR. Give him to me.

252KING. He is
My only son. For whom have I then gathered?

253GRAND INQUISITOR. For putrefaction better than for freedom.

254KING (rising).
We are at one. Come.


256KING. To receive
The sacrifice now from my very hands.

257(He leads him away.)

Final Scene

258The Queen’s apartments

259Carlos. The Queen. Then the King with retinue. Carlos in monk’s habit, behind a mask that he removes; an unsheathed sword under his arm. It is very dark. He approaches a door, which opens. The Queen emerges, in night dress, carrying a light. Carlos drops to one knee.

260CARLOS. Elisabeth!

261QUEEN (contemplating him with quiet sadness).
It’s thus we meet again!

262[4270] CARLOS. It’s thus we meet again.

263(A silence.)

  • 16 This is the vocabulary of Crucifixion and Redemption.

264QUEEN (composing herself). Stand up, Karl! We’ll not
Show weakness to each other. The great Dead
Would not be celebrated by feckless tears.
One weeps for smaller sorrows! He gave himself
you: he bought your life with his.16 This blood
Was shed for a phantasm? Carlos! I
Myself have vouched for you. My surety let
Him go from us in greater peace. You’ll not
Make me a liar?

265CARLOS (with great warmth). I shall set for him
A monument like none set for a king.
[4280] A paradise shall bloom upon his ashes!

266QUEEN. That’s how I wanted you! That was the great
Intention of his death. And he made me
Executor of his last will. I caution
You: I’ll hold to fulfillment of this oath.
Dying, he laid another legacy
Upon me. I gave him my word. I’ll tell
You. He entrusted Karl to me. And I’ll
Defy appearances: I’ll fear no man,
Will be as bold as friend can be. My heart

Shall speak. He called our love a virtue? This
I believe of him. And never shall I let
My heart—

  • 17 Carlos’s transformation—and that of his love—follows Posa’s elevation.

267CARLOS. You needn’t finish, Queen. I’ve lain
In a deep sleep, a dream. I loved. And now
I have awakened.
17 We’ll forget what’s past.
Here are your letters back. Destroy my own.
You needn’t fear my feelings. It is over.
A purer fire has purged my being. My
Passion lies in the grave beside the dead.
No mortal longing can divide my heart.
(After a silence, taking her hand.)
[4300] I’ve come to take my leave. I see at last,
Mother, there is a higher good than to
Possess you. One short night gave wings to my
Slow run of years, made me so soon a man.
I have no further task in life than memory
Of him! My harvests are all done.
(He approaches her; she covers her face.)

268QUEEN. Pay no attention to my tears, Karl.
You’re silent,
There is no help for them. But I admire you,
Believe me.

269CARLOS. You were our league’s sole confidante.
This name makes you my dearest in the world.
[4310] My friendship’s yours alone, as yesterday
My love. And I shall deem the royal widow
Sacred, should Providence lead me to take
The Throne.
(The King, accompanied by the Grand Inquisitor and by his Grandees, appears in the background, unnoticed.)
I now go out of Spain. My father
I’ll never see again, not in this life.
I value him no more. My heart is dead
To Nature. Be a wife to him again.
He’s lost his son. Take up your duties. I fly
To lift my hard-pressed people’s tyranny.
Madrid sees me again as king or never.
[4320] And now a last farewell! (He kisses her.)

270QUEEN. Oh, Karl, what is
It that you make of me? I dare not lift
Myself to such men’s greatness. But still, I’m able
To understand you and I can admire you.

271CARLOS. Am I not strong, Elisabeth? I hold
You in my arms and do not falter. From
This spot death’s pressing terrors had not torn
Me yesterday.
(He releases her.)
That is now over. I
Defy all fate that mortal man encounters.
I held you in my arms and did not falter.
[4330] Still! Do you hear?
(A clock strikes.)

272QUEEN. I hear the clock that tolls
Our parting knell.

273CARLOS. Good night, then, Mother. From Ghent
You will receive a letter that announces
The secret of all our contacts. I go now
To undertake a
public round with Don
Philip. I would that there be nothing secret
Among us now.
You needn’t fear the world’s
Inquiry. May this be my last deception.
(He reaches for the mask. The King steps between them.)

274KING. Your last indeed!
(The Queen falls fainting.)

275CARLOS (rushes to her and receives her in his arms).
She’s dead? Oh, God in heaven!

276KING (cold and calm to the Grand Inquisitor).
I’ve done my part here, Cardinal. Do yours now!

277(He goes off.)


1 The Queen assesses Posa rather differently. See Act IV, scene 21, lines 3602–3607.

2 We hear this sentiment from Posa for a second time. See Act IV, scene 3, lines 2833–2835.

3 Posa’s earlier word for his concealments was “duplicity” (Zweideutelei), Act IV, scene 3, line 2825.

4 This is the turning of the plot suppressed at Act IV, scene 17, line 3405.

5 It seems the order did not come from Philip. See the stage direction for Alba leaving the prison at the end of scene 2, above.

6 Carlos’s tribute to Posa is an Ecce homo (Behold the man), spoken by Pilate showing Jesus to his accusers (John 19, 5). The elevation of Posa to tragic stature begins here.

7 Here begins a long coda that will bring the action to an end. It is composed of brilliant scenes (scene 9, scene 10) connected by extended passages that are more narrative than dramatic and more prosaic than poetic. Here the writing is colored by the poet’s impatience to be done at last with a sprawling play over which he has lingered too long.

8 Cadiz is a Spanish port in Andalusia, Flushing a Dutch port and scene of rebellion.

9 “He” is Carlos.

10 “He” is Posa.

11 Philip’s eulogy to Posa begins here. Carlos’s eulogy has preceded, the Queen’s will follow.

12 When Emperor Charles V abdicated in 1556, he retired to the monastery San Jeronimo de Yuste, where he died in 1558.

13 The Santa Casa was the prison of the Inquisition.

14 The Holy Office is the Inquisition.

15 King Saul, facing defeat in battle and hearing nothing from his appeal to the Lord, had the Witch of Endor summon the shade of Samuel (1 Samuel 28). The analogues, while obscure, seem to be Saul’s calling up the shade of Samuel and Philip’s resorting to Posa.

16 This is the vocabulary of Crucifixion and Redemption.

17 Carlos’s transformation—and that of his love—follows Posa’s elevation.


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