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The chief European dramatists: Twenty-one plays from the drama of Greece ... online

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Teems with remembrances of happy hours,
In mine own native land thou wilt be mine.
Ah, I have ever loved it well, I feel
How poor without it were all earthly jojrs.
Bertha. Where should we look for

happiness on earth,
If not in this dear land of innocence?
Here, where old truth hath its familiar

Where fraud and guile are strangers, envy

Shall dim the sparkling foimtain of our

And ever bright the hours shall over us

There do I see thee, in true manly worth.
The foremost of the free and of thy peers.
Revered with homage pure and uncon-
Wielding a power that kings might envy

RuDBNZ. And thee I see, thy sex's

crowning gem,
With thy sweet woman's grace and wake-
ful love,
Building a heaven for me within my home,
And, as the springtime scatters forth her

Adorning with thy charms my path of life.
And spreading joy and sunshine all around.
Bertha. And this it was, dear friend,

that caused my grief,
To see thee blast this life's supremest bliss
With thine own hand. Ahl What had

been my fate.
Had I been forced to follow some proud

Some ruthless despot, to his gloomy keep!
Here are no keeps, here are no bastioned

To part me from a people I can bless.
RuDENz. Yet, how to free myself; to

loose the coils
Which I have madly twined around my

Bertha. Tear them asunder with a

man's resolve.
Whate'er ensue, firm by thy people standi
It is thy post by birth.

[HurUing-homs care heard in the
\^utharkl The chasel

Farewell — 't is needful we should part —

Fight for thy land; thou tightest for thy

One foe fills all our souls with dread; the

That makes one free, emancipates us all.
[Exettnt eeveraUy.]

ScES^Ill: A meadow near AUdorf. Treee
in the Joregroxmd, At the hack of the Mage
a cap upon a pole. The prospect is hottnded
by the Bannhergy which is surmounted by a
snow-capped mountain,

[Fribsshardt and Leuthold on guard.]

Friesshardt. We keep our watch in

vain. Zounds! not a soul
Will pass and do obeisance to the cap.
But yest rday the place swarmed like a

Now the old green looks like a desot,

Since yonder scarecrow himg upon the pole.
Leuthold. Only the vilest rabble show

And wave their tattered caps in mockery

at us.
All honest citizens would sooner make
A weary circuit over half the town,
Than bend their backs before our master's

Friesshardt. They were obliged to

pass this way at noon,
As they were coming from the Councfl

I counted then upon a famous catch.
For no one thou^^t of bowing to the cap.
But Rdeaelmann, the priest, was ev&i with

Coming just then from some sick man, he

His stand before the pole — lifts up the

Host —
The Sacrist, too, must tinkle with his

beU —
When down they dropped on knee — my-
self and all —
In reverence to the Host, but not the capi
Leuthold. Hark ye, companion, I've

a shrewd suspicion.
Our post's no better than the pilloiy.

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It is a burning shame, a trooper should
Stand sentinel before an empty cap,
And every honest feUow must despise us.
To do obeisance to a cap, too! Faith,
I never heard an order so absurd!
Friesshardt. Why not, an 't please you,

to an empty cap?
You've ducked, I'm sure, to many an

empty sconce.

[Enter Hildbgard, Mechthild, and Els-
BETH with their children, and station
themselves around the pole.]

Lbuthold. And you are a time-serving
sneak, that takes
Delight in bringing honest folks to harm.
For my part, he that likes may pass the

cap —
I'll shut my eyes and take no note of him.
Mbchthild. There hangs the Viceroy!

Yoiur obeisance, children!
EuBBETH. I would to God he'd go, and
leave his cap!
The country would be none the worse for it.
Friesshardt [driving them away]. Out
of the way! Confounded pack of
Who sent for you? Go, send your husbands

If they have courage to defy the order.

[Enter Tell with his crossbow, leading his
son Wauter by the hand. They pass
the hat without noticing it, and advance
to the front of the stage.]

Wai/tbr [pointing to the Bannberg].
Father, is't true that on the moun-
tain there
The trees, if woimded with a hatchet,
Tell. Who says so, boy?
Waiavr. The master herdsman, father!
He tells us there's a charm upon the

And if a man shall injiu*e them, the hand
That struck the blow will grow from out
the grave.
Tell. There is a charm about them —
that's the truth.
Dost see those glaciers 3ronder — those

white horns —
That seem to melt away into the sky?

Wai/ter. They are the peaks that
thunder so at night.
And send the avalanches down upon us.
Tell. They are; and Altdorf long ago
had been
Submerged beneath these avalanches'

Did not the forest there above the town
Stand like a bulwark to arrest their fall.
Wai/fer [after musing a little]. And are
there countries with no mountains, ,
Tell. Yes, if we travel downward from
our heights.
And keep descending where the rivers

We reach a wide and level country, where
Our mounta'n torrents brawl and foam no

And fair large rivers gl'de serenely on.
All quarters of the heaven may there be

Without impediment. The com grows

In broad and lovely fields, and all the

Is like a garden fair to look upon.
Walfer. But, father, tell me, where-
fore haste we not
Away to this delightful land, instead
Of toiling here, and struggling as we do?
Tell. The land is fair and bountiful as
But they who till it never may enjoy
The fruits of what they sow.

Walter. Live they not free.
As you do, on the land their fathers left
Tell. The fields are all the bishop's or

the King's.
Waivper. But they may freely hunt

among the woods?
Tell. The game is all the monarch's —

bird and beast.
Walter. But they, at least, may

siu*ely fish the streams?
Tell. Stream, lake, and sea, all to the

King belong.
Walter. Who is this King, of whom

they're so afraid?
Tell. He is the man who fosters and
protects them.

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Wai/tbk. Have th^ not courage to pro-
tect themselves?
Tell. The neighbor there dare not his

neighbor trust.
Walfer. I should want breathing-
room in such a land.
I'd rather dwell beneath the avalanches.
Tbll. 'T is better, child, to have these
glacier peaks
Behind one's back, than evil-minded men!
[Tfiey are about to pass on,]
Waupek, See, father, see the cap on

yonder pole I
Tell. What is the cap to us? Come,
let's begone.

[As he is going^ Fbibsshabdt, pre-
senting his pikCy stops Mm,]
Fbibsshabdt. Stand, I conmumd you,

in the Emperor's name!
Tell [seizing the pike]. What would ye?

Wherefore do ye stop me thus?
Fbiesshardt. You've broke the man-
date, and with us must go.
Leuthold. You have not done obeis-
ance to the cap.
Tell. Friend, let me go.
Friesshabdt. Away, away to prison!
Walter. Father to prison! Help!

[Calling to the side scene,]
This way, you men!

Good people, help! They're dragging him
to prison!

[Enter R^sselmann (he Priest, and t e
Sacristan, wUh three other men,]

Sacristan. What's here amiss?
R5SSBLMANN. Why do you seise this

Fbiebshardt. He is an enemy of the

King — a traitor.
Tell [seizing him with violence], A

traitor, I!
R5SSELMANN. Friend, thou art wrong.

'T is TeU,
An honest man, and worthy citizen.
Walter [descries FttRST and runs up to

him]. Grandfather, help; they want

to seize my father!
Friesbhardt. Away to prison!
FtJRST [running in]. Stay, I offer bail. —
For God's sake, TeU, what is the matter


[BrUer Melcbthal <md Stautfacheb.]

Leuthold. He has contemned the
Viceroy's sovereign power.
Refusing flatly to acknowledge it.
Staufpachbr. Has Tell done this?
Melchthal. Villain, you know 'tis

Leuthold. He has not made obeisance

to the cap.
FttRST. And shall for this to prison? —
Come, my friend.
Take my security, and let him go.
Fbiesshardt. Keep your security for
yourself — you'll need it.
We only do our duty. — Hence with himl
Melchthal [to the country people], Tliis
is too bad! Shall we stand by and
Him dragged away before our very eyes?
Sacristan. We are the strongest.
Friends, endmre it not,
Our countrymen will back us to a man.
Friesshardt. Who dares resist tbe

Governor's commands?
Other three Peasants [running m].
We '11 help you. What 's the matter?
Down with them!

[HiLDEQARD, Mechthud, and
Ei^BETH return,]
Tell. Go, go, good people; I can help
Think you, had I a mind to use my

These pikes of theirs should daunt me?


try- ■
Try from our midst to force him, if yoa

Ft)RST AND Stauffacher. Peacc, pescf^

Friesshardt [loudly]. Riot! Insorreci^

tion, ho! [Hunting-horns wUMauiJ^
Women. The Governor!
Friesshardt [raising his voice]. Rebel

Uon! Mutiny!
Staufpachbr. Roar till you



you hold your tongue?
Friesshardt [calling still louder], Hrl|
help, I say, the servants of the lai


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FObbt. The Viceroy here! Then we
Rhf^H smart for thisi

{Enter Gesslbb on horseback, wiih a falcon
on kis wrist; Rubolph dbr ELlrras,
Bbbtha, and Rudenz, and a numerous
train of armed attendarUSf who form a
circle of lances round the whole stage,]

Habras. Room for the Viceroy!
Ges8L£R. Drive the clowns apart.
Why throng the people thus? Who calls
for help? [General sUence.]

Who was it? I will know.

[Frissshabdt steps forward,]
And who art thou?

And why hast thou this man in custody?
[Gives his falcon to an attendant.]
Fbibssbardt. Dread sir, I am a soldier
of your guard,
And stationed sentinel beside the cap.
This man I apprehended in the act
Of passing it without obeisance due;
80, as you ordered, I arrested him,
Whereon to resciie him the people tried.
Gessler [after a pause]. And do you,
Tdl, so li^tly hold your King,
And me, who act as his viceregent here,
That you refuse obeisance to the cap
I hung aloft to test your loyalty?
I read in this a disaffected spirit.
Tbll. Pardon me, good my lord I The
action sprang
From inadvertence — not from disrespect.
Were I discreet, I were not William Tell.
Forgive me now — I'll not offend again.
Gb88i;er [after a pause], I hear. Tell,
you're a master with the bow —
From every rival bear the palm away.
Walter. That's very truth, sir I At a
hundred yards
Hell shoot an apple for you off the tree.
Gbsblsr. Is that boy thine. Tell?
Tell. Yes, my gracious lord.
GsssiiBR. Hast any more of them?
Tkll. Two boys, my lord.
Gessler. And, of the two, which dost

thou love the most?
Tell. Sir, both the boys are dear to me

Gessler. Then, Tell, since at a himdred
3rards thou canst

Bring down the apple from the tree, thou

Approve thy skiU beforo me. Take thy

bow —
Thou hast it there at hand — make ready,

To shoot an apple from the stripling's

But take this counsel — look well to thine

See that thou hit'st the i^ple at the first.
For, shouldst thou miss, thy head shall

pay the forfeit.

[AU give signs of horror.]
Tell. What monstrous thing, my lord,

is this you adc?
What, from the head of mine own child!

— No, no!
It cannot be, kind sir; you meant not

that —
God, in his grace, forbid! You could not

A father seriously to do that thing!
Gessler. Thou art to shoot an Bpple

from his head!
I do desiro — command it so.

Tell. What, I!
Level my crossbow at the darling head
Of mine own child? No — rather let me

Gessler. Or thou must shoot, or with

thee dies the boy.
Tell. Shall I become the murderer of

my child?
You have no children, sir, — you do not

The tender throbbings of a father's heart.
Gessler. How now, Tell, on a sudden

so discreet?
I had been told thou wert a 'insionary —
A wanderer from the paths of common

Thou lovest the marvelous. So have I


Culled out for thee a task of special daring.

Another man might pause and heatate —

Thou dashest at it, heart and soul, at once.

Bertha. Oh, do not jest, my lord, with

these poor souls!
See, how they tremble, and how pale they

So little used are they to hear thee jest.

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Gbssler. Who tells thee that I jest?
[Grasping a branch above kis head.]
Here is the apple.
Room there, I say! And let him take his

distance —
Just eighty paces — as the custom is —
Not an inch more or less! It was his boast,
That at a hundred he could hit his man. —
Now, archer, to your task, and look you

miss not!
Harras. Heavens! This grows serious.

— Down, boy, on your knees,
And beg the Governor to spare your life.
FttRST [aside to Mblchthal, who can

scarcely restrain his indignation].

Command yourself! — Be calm, I

beg of you!
Bebtha [to the Governor]. Let this suffice

you, sir! It is inhuman
To trifle with a father's anguish thus.
Although this wretched man had forfeited
Both life and limb for such a slight offense,
Already has he suffered tenfold death.
Send him away uninjured to his home;
He'll know thee well in future; and this

He and his children's children will re-
Gessleb. Open a way there — quick!

Why this delay? —
Thy life is forfeite^l; I might dispatch thee,
And see, I graciously repose thy fate
Upon the skill of thine own practiced

hand. —
No cause has he to say his doom is harsh
Who's made the master of his destiny. —
Thou boastest thine unerring aim. 'Tis

Now is the fitting time to show thy skill;
The mark is worthy and the prize is great.
To hit the bull's-eye in the target — that
Can many another do as well as thou; —
But he, methinks, is master of his craft,
Who can at all times on his skill rely,
Nor lets his heart disturb or eye or hand.
FGrst. My lord, we bow to your

But oh, let justice yield to mercy here!
Take half my property, nay, take it all,
But spare a father this unnatural doom!
Walter. Grandfather, do not kneel to

that bad man!

Say, where am I to stand? I do not fear;
My father strikes the bird upon the wing.
And will not miss now when 't would harm
his boy!
Stiuffacheb. Does the child's inno-
cence not touch your heart?
R5ssbVmann. Bethink you, sir, there is
a God in heaven.
To whom you must account for all joai
Gesslbr [pointing to the boy]. Bind him

to yonder lime tree!
Wauter. What! Bind me?
No, I will not be boimdl I will be still —
Still as a lamb — nor even draw my breath !
But if you bind me, I cannot be still.
Then I shall writhe and struggle with my
Harras. But let your ^yes at least be

bandaged, boy!

Walter. And why my eyes? No! Do

you think I fear

An arrow from my father's hand? Not I!

I 'U wait it firmly, nor so much as wink! —

Quick, father, show them what thy bow

can do.
He doubts thy skill — he thinks to ruin us.
Shoot, then, and hit, though but to apiu
the tyrant!

[He goes to the lime tree, and on
apple is placed on his head.]
Mblchthal [to the country people].
What! Is this outrage to be per-
Before our very eyes? Where is our oath?
Stauffacher. Resist we cannot!
Weapons we have none,
And see the wood of lances round us! See!
Melchthal. Oh, would to Heaven that
we had struck at once!
God pardon those who counseled the delay!
Gbssler [to Tell]. Now, to your task!
Men bear not arms for naught.
To carry deadly tools is dangerous.
And on the archer oft his shaft recoils.
This right, these haughty peasant churis

Trenches upon their master's privilegeB:
None should be armed but those who bear

command. —
It pleases you to carry bow and bolt —
Well, be it so. I will prescribe the mark.

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Tell \bend8 the bow, and fixes the arrow],

A lane there I Room I
Staxtffacheb. What, Tell? You would
— no, no!
You shake — yo\ir hand's unsteady —
your knees tremble.
Tei2a [letting the bow sink down]. There's
something swims before mine eyes!
Women. Great Heaven!
Tell. Release me from this shot! Here
is my heart! [Tears open his breast,]
Summon your troopers — let them strike
me down!
Gbssleb. 'T is not thy life I want — I
want the shot.
rhy talent's universal! Nothing daunts

The rudd^ thou canst handle like the bow!
No storms afibight thee, when a life's at

Now, savior, help thyself — thou savest

[Tell stands fearfuUy agitated by
contending emotums, his hands
moving conmdsioelyy and his eyes
turning altemately to the Gov-
ernor and to heaven. Suddenly
he takes a second arrow from his
qttiver, and sticks it in his belt.
The Governor notes aU he does.]
Wai/ter \beneath the lime tree]. Shoot,

father, shoot! Fear not!
Tell. It must be!

[CoUects himself and levels the bow.]
Rudenz [who ail the while has been
standing in a state of violent excite-
mentf and has with difficulty re-
strained himself, advances]. My
lord, you will not urge this matter
You will not. It was surdy but a test.
You've gained your object. Rigor pushed

too far
Is sure to miss its aim, however good,
Ab snaps the bow that's all too straitly
Gessler. Peace, till your counsel 's

asked for!
Rudenz. I will speak!
Aye, and I dare! I reverence my King;
But acts like these must make his name

He sanctions not this cruelty. I dare
Avouch the fact. And you outstep your

In handling thus my harmless coimtry-

Gessler. Ha! Thou grow'st bold, me-

Rudenz. I have been dumb
To all the oppressions I was doomed to see.
I've closed mine eyes to shut them from

my view.
Bade my rebellious, swelling heart be stUl,
And pent its struggles down within my

But to be silent long^ were to be
A traitor to my King and country both.
Bertha [casting herself between him and

the Governor], Oh, Heavens! You

but exasperate his rage!
Rudenz. My people I forsook — r^

nounced my kindred —
Broke all the ties of nature, that I might
Attach myself to you. I madly thought
That I should best advance the general

By adding sinews to the Emperor's power.
The scales have fallen from mine eyes — I

The fearful precipice on which I stand.
You've led my youthful judgment far

astray —
Deceived my honest heart. With best

I had well-nigh achieved my country's ruin.
Gessler. Audacious boy, this language

to thy lord?
Rudenz. The Emperor is my lord, not

you! I'm free
As you by birth, and I can cope with you
In every virtue that beseems a knight.
And if you stood not here in that King's

Which I respect e'en where 't is most

I'd throw my gaimtlet down, and you

should give
An answer to my gage in knightly sort.
Aye, beckon to your troopers! Here I

But not like these [pointing to the people] —

unarmed. I have a sword,
And he that stirs one step —

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Stauffacher [exdainu]. The apple's
down I

[While the atteniion of the crowd
hoe been directed to the spot
where Bertha had cast herself
between Rudenz and Gebsler,
Tell has shot.]
IU58SBLMANN. The boy's alive!
Many Voicbs. The apple has been
struck I

[Wawer FtJRST staggers and is
ahoui to fall. Bertha supports
Gessler [astonished]. How? Has he

shot? The madman 1
Bertha. Worthy father!
Pray you, compose yourself. The boy's
Wai/fer [runs in with the apple]. Here is
the apple, father! Well I knew
You would not harm your boy!

[Tell stands with his body bent
forward f as if stiU following the
arrow. His bow drops from his
hand. When he sees the boy od-
vancing^ he hastens to meet him
with open armsj and embracing
himf passionately sinks down
with him quite exhausted. AU
crowd round them deeply af-
Bertha. Oh, ye kind Heavens!
Ft)RST [to father and son]. My children,

my dear children!
Stauffacher. God be praised!
Leuthold. Almighty powers! That
was a shot, indeed!
It will be talked of to the end of time.
Harrab. This feat of Tell, the archer,
will be told
Long as these mountains stand upon their
base. [Hands the apple to Gessler.]
Gessler. By Heaven! The apple's
cleft right through the core.
It was a master shot, I must allow.
Rosselmann. The shot was good. But
woe to him who drove
The man to tempt his God by such a
Stauffacher. Cheer up, Tell, — rise!
You ' ve nobly freed yourself,
Aud now may go in quiet to your home.

RdssBLUANN. Come, to the mother let
us bear her son!

[They are about to lead him <^.]
Gessler. A word, Tell.
Tell. Sir, your pleasure?
Gessler. Thou didst place
A second arrow in thy belt — nay, nay!
I saw it well. Thy purpose with it? Speak!
Tell [confused]. It is a custom with all

archers, sir.
Gbbblbr. No, Tell, I cannot let that
answ^ pass.
There was some other motive, well I know.
Frankly and cheerfully confess the truth: —
Whate'er it be, I promise thee thy life.
Wherefore the second arrow?

Tell. Well, my lord.
Since you have promised not to take my

I will, without reserve, declare the truth.
[He draws the arrow from his beit,
and fixes his eyes sternly upon
the Governor.]
If that my hand had struck my darling child,
This second arrow I had aimed at you,
And, be assured, I should not then have
Gessler. Well, Tell, I promised thou
shouldst have thy hfe;
I gave my knightly word, and I will keep it.
Yet, as I know the maUce of thy thou^ts,
I'll have thee carried hence, and safely

Where neither sun nor moon shall reach

thine eyes.
Thus from thy arrows I shall be secure. —
Seize on him, guards, and bind him!

[They bind him.]
Stauffacher. How, my lord —
How can you treat in such a way a man
On whom God^ hand has plainly be^i
Gessler. Well, let us see if it will save
him twice!
Remove him to my ship; I'll follow

At KUssnacht I will see him safely lodged.
Rosselmann. You dare not do 't. Nor
durst the Emperor's self
So violate our dearest chartered rights.
Gessler. Where are they? Has the
Emp'ror confirmed them?

Digitized by




3e never has. And only by obedience
)A&y you that favor hope to win from

ifou are all rebels 'gainst the Emp'ror's

power —
^nd beEU* a desperate and rebellious spirit.
[ know you all — I see you through and

3im do I single from among you now,
But in his guilt you all participate,
[f you are wise, be silent and obey I

\ExUf foUawed hy Bebtha, Ru-
DKNz, Haaras, and aUendanU,
Fribsshardt and Lbuthold
FCbst Hn videni anguish]. All's over
now! He is resolved to bring
Destruction on myself and all my house.
Stauffachbb [to Tbll]. Oh| why did

you provoke the tyrant's rage?
Tbll. Let him be calm who feels the

pangs I felt.
Stauffachrb. Alasl alasl Our every
hope is gone.
?7ith you we all are fettered and enchained.
Country Peoplb [surrounding Tbll].
Our last remaining comfort goes
with you!
LKxmiGLD [approaching him], I'm sorry

for you, Tell, but must obey.
TsLL. Farewell!

Walter Tbll [clinging to him in great
agony], O father, father, father,
Ti^hL [poinHng to heaven]. Thy Father is

on high — appeal to Him!
Stauffachbr. Have you no message,

Tell, to send your wife?
Tbll [dasping the boy passionately to his
breast]. The boy's iminjured; God
will succor me!

[Tears himself suddenly away^ and
foUoufs the soldiers of the guard,]


ScBNB I: Eastern shore of the Lake of
Mceme; rugged and singularly shaped rocks
lose the prospect to the west. The lake is
gitaledf violent roaring and rushing of urindf
Tiih thunder and lightning at intertKiU

[Enter Kunz of Gersau, Fisherman and

EuNZ. I saw it with these ^es! Be-
lieve me, friend.
It happened all precisely as I've said.
FiSHBRBfAN. How! Tdl a prisoner, and
to KUssnacht IxMme?
The best man in the land, the bravest arm,
Had we for liberty to strike a bk>w!
Kunz. The Viceroy takes him up the
lake in person:
They were about to go on board as I
Started from FUiden; but the gath^ing

That drove me here to land so suddenly.
May wdl have hindered them from setting
Fisherman. Our Tell in chains, and in
the Viceroy^s power!
Oh, trust me, Gessler will entomb hioiy

He never more shall see the light of day;

Online LibraryBrander MatthewsThe chief European dramatists: Twenty-one plays from the drama of Greece ... → online text (page 83 of 98)