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The unextinguishable flame of war?

GORDON.

Seize him, and hold him prisoner - do not kill him.

BUTLER.

Had not the Emperor's army been defeated,
I might have done so. - But 'tis now past by.

GORDON.

O, wherefore open'd I the stronghold to him?

BUTLER.

His destiny and not the place destroys him.

GORDON.

Upon these ramparts, as beseem'd a soldier,
I had fallen, defending the Emperor's citadel!

BUTLER.

Yes, and a thousand gallant men have perish'd.

GORDON.

Doing their duty - that adorns the man!
But murder's a black deed, and nature curses it.

BUTLER (_brings out a paper_).

Here is the manifesto which commands us
To gain possession of his person. See -
It is addressed to you as well as me.
Are you content to take the consequences,
If through our fault he escape to the enemy?

GORDON.

I? - Gracious God!

BUTLER.

Take it on yourself
Come of it what may; on you I lay it.

GORDON.

O God in heaven!

BUTLER.

Can you advise aught else
Wherewith to execute the Emperor's purpose?
Say if you can. For I desire his fall,
Not his destruction.

GORDON.

Merciful heaven! what must be
I see as clear as you. Yet still the heart
Within my bosom beats with other feelings!

BUTLER.

Mine is of harder stuff! Necessity
In her rough school hath steel'd me. And this Illo,
And Terzky likewise, they must not survive him.

GORDON.

I feel no pang for these. Their own bad hearts
Impell'd them, not the influence of the stars.
'Twas they who strew'd the seeds of evil passions
In his calm breast, and with officious villiany
Water'd and nursed the pois'nous plants. May they
Receive their earnests to the uttermost mite!

BUTLER.

And their death shall precede his!
We meant to have taken them alive this evening
Amid the merry-making of a feast,
And keep them prisoners in the citadel.
But this makes shorter work. I go this instant
To give the necessary orders.


SCENE VII


_To these enter_ ILLO _and_ TERZKY

TERZKY.

Our luck is on the turn. Tomorrow come
The Swedes - twelve thousand gallant warriors, Illo,
Then straightwise for Vienna. Cheerily, friend!
What! meet such news with such a moody face?

ILLO.

It lies with us at present to prescribe
Laws, and take vengeance on those worthless traitors,
Those skulking cowards that deserted us;
One has already done his bitter penance,
The Piccolomini: be his the fate
Of all who wish us evil! This flies sure
To the old man's heart; he has his whole life long
Fretted and toil'd to raise his ancient house
From a Count's title to the name of prince;
And now must seek a grave for his only son.

BUTLER.

'Twas pity, though! A youth of such heroic
And gentle temperament! The Duke himself,
'Twas easily seen, how near it went to his heart.

ILLO.

Hark ye, old friend! That is the very point
That never pleased me in our General -
He ever gave the preference to the Italians.
Yea, at this very moment, by my soul!
He'd gladly see us all dead ten times over,
Could he thereby recall his friend to life.

TERZKY.

Hush, hush! Let the dead rest! This evening's business
Is, who can fairly drink the other down -
Your regiment, Illo! gives the entertainment.
Come! we will keep a merry carnival -
The night for once be day, and 'mid full glasses
Will we expect the Swedish avant-garde.

ILLO.

Yes, let us be of good cheer for today,
For there's hot work before us, friends! This sword
Shall have no rest, till it be bathed to the hilt
In Austrian blood.

GORDON.

Shame, shame! what talk is this
My Lord Field-Marshal? Wherefore foam you so
Against your Emperor?

BUTLER.

Hope not too much
From this first victory. Bethink you, sirs!
How rapidly the wheel of Fortune turns;
The Emperor still is formidably strong.

ILLO.

The Emperor has soldiers, no commander,
For this King Ferdinand of Hungary
Is but a tyro. Gallas? He's no luck,
And was of old the ruiner of armies.
And then this viper, this Octavio,
Is excellent at stabbing in the back,
But ne'er meets Friedland in the open field.

TERZKY.

Trust me, my friends, it cannot but succeed;
Fortune, we know, can ne'er forsake the Duke!
And only under Wallenstein can Austria
Be conqueror.

ILLO.

The Duke will soon assemble
A mighty army: all comes crowding, streaming
To banners, dedicate by destiny
To fame and prosperous fortune. I behold
Old times come back again! he will become
Once more the mighty Lord which he has been.
How will the fools, who've now deserted him,
Look then? I can't but laugh to think of them,
For lands will he present to all his friends,
And like a King and Emperor reward
True services; but we've the nearest claims.

[_To_ GORDON.]

You will not be forgotten, Governor!
He'll take you from this nest, and bid you shine
In higher station: your fidelity
Well merits it.

GORDON.

I am content already
And wish to climb no higher; where great height is,
The fall must needs be great. "Great height, great depth."

ILLO.

Here you have no more business, for tomorrow
The Swedes will take possession of the citadel.
Come, Terzky, it is supper-time. What think you?
Nay, shall we have the town illuminated
In honor of the Swede? And who refuses
To do it is a Spaniard and a traitor.

TERZKY.

Nay! nay! not that, it will not please the Duke -

ILLO.

What! we are masters here; no soul shall dare
Avow himself Imperial where we've the rule.
Gordon! good night, and for the last time, take
A fair leave of the place. Send out patroles
To make secure, the watch-word may be alter'd
At the stroke of ten; deliver in the keys
To the Duke himself, and then you've quit for ever
Your wardship of the gates, for on tomorrow
The Swedes will take possession of the citadel.

TERZKY (_as he is going, to_ BUTLER).

You come, though, to the castle?

BUTLER.

At the right time.

[_Exeunt_ TERZKY _and_ ILLO.]


SCENE VIII


GORDON _and_ BUTLER

GORDON (_looking after them_).

Unhappy men! How free from all foreboding!
They rush into the outspread net of murder
In the blind drunkenness of victory;
I have no pity for their fate. This Illo,
This overflowing and foolhardy villain,
That would fain bathe himself in his Emperor's blood. -

BUTLER.

Do as he order'd you. Send round patroles,
Take measures for the citadel's security;
When they are within I close the castle-gate
That nothing may transpire.

GORDON (_with earnest anxiety_).

Oh! haste not so!
Nay, stop; first tell me -

BUTLER.

You have heard already,
Tomorrow to the Swedes belongs. This night
Alone is ours. They make good expedition,
But we will make still greater. Fare you well.

GORDON.

Ah! your looks tell me nothing good. Nay, Butler,
I pray you, promise me!

BUTLER.

The sun has set;
A fateful evening doth descend upon us,
And brings on their long night! Their evil stars
Deliver them unarm'd into our hands,
And from their drunken dream of golden fortunes
The dagger at their heart shall rouse them. Well,
The Duke was ever a great calculator;
His fellow-men were figures on his chess-board,
To move and station, as his game required.
Other men's honor, dignity, good name,
Did he shift like pawns, and make no conscience of;
Still calculating, calculating still;
And yet at last his calculation proves
Erroneous; the whole game is lost; and lo!
His own life will be found among the forfeits.

GORDON.

O think not of his errors now! remember
His greatness, his munificence; think on all
The lovely features of his character,
On all the noble exploits of his life,
And let them, like an angel's arm, unseen,
Arrest the lifted sword.

BUTLER.

It is too late.
I suffer not myself to feel compassion;
Dark thoughts and bloody are my _duty_ now:

[_Grasping_ GORDON's _hand_.]

Gordon! 'tis not my hatred (I pretend not
To love the Duke, and have no cause to love him),
Yet 'tis not now my hatred that impels me
To be his murderer. 'Tis his evil fate.
Hostile concurrences of many events
Control and subjugate me to the office.
In vain the human being meditates
Free action. He is but the wire-work'd[31] puppet
Of the blind Power, which out of its own choice
Creates for him a dread necessity.
What too would it avail him, if there were
A something pleading for him in my heart -
Still I must kill him.

GORDON.

If your heart speak to you,
Follow its impulse. 'Tis the voice of God.
Think you your fortunes will grow prosperous
Bedew'd with blood - his blood? Believe it not!

BUTLER.

You know not. Ask not! Wherefore should it happen
That the Swedes gain'd the victory, and hasten
With such forced marches hitherward? Fain would I
Have given him to the Emperor's mercy. Gordon!
I do not wish his blood - But I must ransom
The honor of my word - it lies in pledge -
And he must die, or -

[_Passionately grasping_ GORDON's _hand_.]

Listen then, and know,
I am _dishonor'd_ if the Duke escape us.

GORDON.

O! to save such a man -

BUTLER.

What!

GORDON.

It is worth
A sacrifice. Come, friend! Be noble-minded!
Our own heart, and not other men's opinions,
Forms our true honor.

BUTLER (_with a cold and haughty air_).

He is a great Lord,
This Duke - and I am but of mean importance.
This is what you would say! Wherein concerns it
The world at large, you mean to hint to me,
Whether the man of low extraction keeps
Or blemishes his honor -
So that the man of princely rank be saved?
We all do stamp our value on ourselves:
The price we challenge for ourselves is given us.
There does not live on earth the man so station'd
That I despise myself, compared with him.
Man is made great or little by his own will;
Because I am true to mine, therefore he dies.

GORDON.

I am endeavoring to move a rock.
Thou hadst a mother, yet no human feelings.
I cannot hinder you, but may some God
Rescue him from you!

[_Exit_ GORDON.]

BUTLER[32] (_alone_).

I treasured my good name all my life long;
The Duke has cheated me of life's best jewel,
So that I blush before this poor weak Gordon!
He prizes above all his fealty;
His conscious soul accuses him of nothing;
In opposition to his own soft heart
He subjugates himself to an iron duty.
Me in a weaker moment passion warp'd;
I stand beside him, and must feel myself
The worse man of the two. What, though the world
Is ignorant of my purposed treason, yet
_One_ man does know it, and can prove it too -
High-minded Piccolomini!
There lives the man who can dishonor me!
This ignominy blood alone can cleanse!
Duke Friedland, thou or I - Into my own hands
Fortune delivers me - The dearest thing a man has is himself.



SCENE IX


_A Gothic and gloomy Apartment at the_ DUCHESS FRIEDLAND'S.
THEKLA _on a seat, pale, her eyes closed. The_ DUCHESS _and_
LADY NEUBRUNN _busied about her_. WALLENSTEIN _and the_
COUNTESS _in conversation_.

WALLENST.

How knew she it so soon?

COUNTESS.

She seems to have
Foreboded some misfortune. The report
Of an engagement, in the which had fallen
A colonel of the Imperial army, frighten'd her.
I saw it instantly. She flew to meet
The Swedish courier, and with sudden questioning
Soon wrested from him the disastrous secret.
Too late we missed her, hasten'd after her,
We found her lying in his arms, all pale
And in a swoon.

WALLENSTEIN.

A heavy, heavy blow!
And she so unprepared! Poor child! how is it?

[_Turning to the_ DUCHESS.]

Is she coming to herself?

DUCHESS.

Her eyes are opening.

COUNTESS.

She lives!

THEKLA (_looking around her_).

Where am I?

WALLENSTEIN (_steps to her, raising her up in his arms_).

Come, cheer'ly, Thekla! be my own brave girl!
See, there's thy loving mother. Thou art in
Thy father's arms.

THEKLA (_standing up_).

Where is he? Is he gone?

DUCHESS.

Who gone, my daughter?

THEKLA.

He - the man who utter'd
That word of misery.

DUCHESS.

O! think not of it,
My Thekla!

WALLENSTEIN.

Give her sorrow leave to talk!
Let her complain - mingle your tears with hers,
For she hath suffer'd a deep anguish; but
She'll rise superior to it, for my Thekla
Hath all her father's unsubdued heart.

THEKLA.

I am not ill. See, I have power to stand.
Why does my mother weep? Have I alarm'd her?
It is gone by - I recollect myself -

[_She casts her eyes round the room, as seeking some one._]

Where is he? Please you, do not hide him from me.
You see I have strength enough: now I will hear him.

DUCHESS.

No; never shall this messenger of evil
Enter again into thy presence, Thekla!

THEKLA.

My father -

WALLENSTEIN.

Dearest daughter!

THEKLA.

I'm not weak -
Shortly I shall be quite myself again.
You'll grant me one request?

WALLENSTEIN.

Name it, my daughter.

THEKLA.

Permit the stranger to be called to me,
And grant me leave that by myself I may
Hear his report and question him.

DUCHESS.

No, never!

COUNTESS.

'Tis not advisable - assent not to it.

WALLENST.

Hush! Wherefore wouldst thou speak with him, my daughter?

THEKLA.

Knowing the whole, I shall be more collected;
I will not be deceived. My mother wishes
Only to spare me. I will not be spared -
The worst is said already: I can hear
Nothing of deeper anguish!

COUNTESS _and_ DUCHESS.

Do it not.

THEKLA.

The horror overpower'd me by surprise.
My heart betray'd me in the stranger's presence:
He was a witness of my weakness, yea,
I sank into his arms; and that has shamed me.
I must replace myself in his esteem,
And I must speak with him, perforce, that he,
The stranger, may not think ungently of me.

WALLENST.

I see she is in the right, and am inclined
To grant her this request of hers. Go, call him.

[LADY NEUBRUNN _goes to call him_.]

DUCHESS.

But I, thy mother, will be present -

THEKLA.

'Twere
More pleasing to me, if alone I saw him;
Trust me, I shall behave myself the more
Collectedly.

WALLENSTEIN.

Permit her own will.
Leave her alone with him: for there are sorrows
Where of necessity the soul must be
Its own support. A strong heart will rely
On its own strength alone. In her own bosom,
Not in her mother's arms, must she collect
The strength to rise superior to this blow.
It is mine own brave girl. I'll have her treated
Not as a woman, but the heroine. [_Going_.]

COUNTESS (_detaining him_).

Where art thou going? I heard Terzky say
That 'tis _thy_ purpose to depart from hence
Tomorrow early, but to leave us here.

WALLENST.

Yes, ye stay here, placed under the protection
Of gallant men.

COUNTESS.

O take us with you, brother.
Leave us not in this gloomy solitude
To brood o'er anxious thoughts. The mists of doubt
Magnify evils to a shape of horror.

WALLENST.

Who speaks of evil? I entreat you, sister,
Use words of better omen.

COUNTESS.

Then take us with you.
O leave us not behind you in a place
That forces us to such sad omens. Heavy
And sick within me is my heart -
These walls breathe on me, like a church-yard vault.
I cannot tell you, brother, how this place
Doth go against my nature. Take us with you.
Come, sister, join you your entreaty! Niece,
Yours too. We all entreat you, take us with you!

WALLENST.

The place's evil omens will I change,
Making it that which shields and shelters for me
My best beloved.

LADY NEUBRUNN (_returning_).

The Swedish officer.

WALLENST.

Leave her alone with him.

DUCHESS (_to_ THEKLA, _who starts and shivers_).

There - pale as death! Child, 'tis impossible
That thou shouldst speak with him. Follow thy mother.

THEKLA.

The Lady Neubrunn then may stay with me.

[_Exeunt_ DUCHESS _and_ COUNTESS.]


SCENE X


THEKLA, _the_ SWEDISH CAPTAIN, LADY NEUBRUNN

CAPTAIN (_respectfully approaching her_).

Princess - I must entreat your gentle pardon -
My inconsiderate rash speech. How could I -

THEKLA (_with dignity_).

You have beheld me in my agony.
A most distressful accident occasion'd
You from a stranger to become at once
My confidant.

CAPTAIN.

I fear you hate my presence,
For my tongue spake a melancholy word.

THEKLA.

The fault is mine. Myself did wrest it from you.
The horror which came o'er me interrupted
Your tale at its commencement. May it please you,
Continue it to the end.

CAPTAIN.

Princess, 'twill
Renew your anguish.

THEKLA.

I am firm -
I _will_ be firm. Well - how began the engagement?

CAPTAIN.

We lay, expecting no attack, at Neustadt,
Intrench'd but insecurely in our camp,
When toward evening rose a cloud of dust
From the wood thitherward; our vanguard fled
Into the camp, and sounded the alarm.
Scarce had we mounted ere the Pappenheimers,
Their horses at full speed, broke through the lines,
And leapt the trenches; but their heedless courage
Had borne them onward far before the others -
The infantry were still at distance, only
The Pappenheimers follow'd daringly
Their daring leader -

[THEKLA _betrays agitation in her gestures. The officer
pauses till she makes a sign to him to proceed_.]

CAPTAIN.

Both in van and flanks
With our whole cavalry we now received them;
Back to the trenches drove them, where the foot
Stretch'd out a solid ridge of pikes to meet them.
They neither could advance, nor yet retreat;
And as they stood on every side wedged in,
The Rhinegrave to their leader call'd aloud,
Inviting a surrender; but their leader,
Young Piccolomini -

[THEKLA, _as giddy, grasps a chair_.]
Known by his plume,
And his long hair, gave signal for the trenches;
Himself leapt first: the regiment all plunged after.
His charger, by a halbert gored, rear'd up,
Flung him with violence off, and over him
The horses, now no longer to be curbed -
[THEKLA, _who has accompanied the last speech_ _with all the
marks of increasing agony_, _trembles through her whole
frame, and is_ _falling. The_ LADY NEUBRUNN _runs to her_,
_and receives her in her arms.]_

NEUBR.

My dearest lady -

CAPTAIN.

I retire.

THEKLA.

'Tis over.
Proceed to the conclusion.

CAPTAIN.
Wild despair
Inspired the troops with frenzy when they saw
Their leader perish; every thought of rescue
Was spurned; they fought like wounded tigers; their
Frantic resistance roused our soldiery;
A murderous fight took place, nor was the contest
Finish'd before their last man fell.

THEKLA (_faltering_).

And where -
Where is - You have not told me all.

CAPTAIN _(after a pause_).

This morning
We buried him. Twelve youths of noblest birth
Did bear him to interment; the whole army
Follow'd the bier. A laurel deck'd his coffin;
The sword of the deceased was placed upon it,
In mark of honor, by the Rhinegrave's self.
Nor tears were wanting; for there are among us
Many, who had themselves experienced
The greatness of his mind and gentle manners;
All were affected at his fate. The Rhinegrave
Would willingly have saved him; but himself
Made vain the attempt - 'tis said he wish'd to
die.

NEUBRUNN _(to_ THEKLA, _who has hidden her countenance_).

Look up, my dearest lady -

THEKLA.

Where is his grave?

CAPTAIN.

At Neustadt, lady; in a cloister church
Are his remains deposited, until
We can receive directions from his father.

THEKLA.

What is the cloister's name?

CAPTAIN.

Saint Catherine's.

THEKLA.

And how far is it thither?

CAPTAIN.

Near twelve leagues.

THEKLA.

And which the way?

CAPTAIN.

You go by Tirschenreut
And Falkenberg through our advanced posts.

THEKLA.

Who
Is their commander?

CAPTAIN.

Colonel Seckendorf.
[THEKLA _steps to the table, and takes a ring from a
casket.]_

THEKLA.

You have beheld me in my agony,
And shown a feeling heart. Please you, accept
_[Giving him the ring_.]
A small memorial of this hour. Now go!

CAPTAIN _(confusedly)._

Princess -

[THEKLA _silently makes signs to him to go, and turns from
him. The_ CAPTAIN _lingers, and is about to speak_. LADY
NEUBRUNN _repeats the signal, and he retires.]_


SCENE XI


THEKLA, LADY NEUBRUNN

THEKLA _(falls on_ LADY NEUBRUNN's _neck_).

Now, gentle Neubrunn, show me the affection
Which thou hast ever promised - prove thyself
My own true friend and faithful fellow-pilgrim.
This night we must away!

NEUBRUNN.

Away! and whither?

THEKLA.

Whither! There is but one place in the world.
Thither, where he lies buried! To his coffin!

NEUBR.

What would you do there?

THEKLA.

What do there?
That wouldst thou not have ask'd, hadst thou e'er loved.
There, there is all that still remains of him!
That single spot is the whole earth to me.

NEUBR.

That place of death -

THEKLA.

Is now the only place
Where life yet dwells for me: detain me not!
Come and make preparations; let us think
Of means to fly from hence.

NEUBRUNN.

Your father's rage -

THEKLA.

That time is past -
And now I fear no human being's rage.

NEUBR.

The sentence of the world! The tongue of
calumny!

THEKLA.

Whom am I seeking? Him who is no more?
Am I then hastening to the arms - O God!
I haste but to the grave of the beloved.

NEUBR.

And we alone, two helpless feeble women?

THEKLA.

We will take weapons: my arm shall protect
thee.

NEUBR.

In the dark night-time?

THEKLA.

Darkness will conceal us.

NEUBR.

This rough tempestuous night -

THEKLA.

Had he a soft bed
Under the hoofs of his war-horses?

NEUBRUNN.

Heaven!
And then the many posts of the enemy.

THEKLA.

They are human beings. Misery travels free
Through the whole earth.

NEUBRUNN.

The journey's weary length -

THEKLA.

The pilgrim, traveling to a distant shrine
Of hope and healing, doth not count the leagues.

NEUBR.

How can we pass the gates?

THEKLA.

Gold opens them.
Go, do but go.

NEUBRUNN.

Should we be recognized -

THEKLA.

In a despairing woman, a poor fugitive,
Will no one seek the daughter of Duke Friedland.

NEUBR.

And where procure we horses for our flight?

THEKLA.

My equerry procures them. Go and fetch him.

NEUBR.

Dares he, without the knowledge of his lord?

THEKLA.

He will. Go, only go. Delay no longer.

NEUBR.

Dear lady! and your mother?

THEKLA.

Oh! my mother!

NEUBR.

So much as she has suffer'd too already;
Your tender mother - Ah! how ill prepared
For this last anguish!

THEKLA.

Woe is me! my mother!

_[Pauses.]_

Go instantly.

NEUBRUNN.

But think what you are doing!

THEKLA.

What _can_ be thought, already has been thought.

NEUBR.

And being there, what purpose you to do?

THEKLA.

There a Divinity will prompt my soul.

NEUBR.

Your heart, dear lady, is disquieted!
And this is not the way that leads to quiet.

THEKLA.

To a deep quiet, such as he has found.
It draws me on, I know not what to name it,
Resistless does it draw me to his grave.
There will my heart be eased, my tears will flow.
O hasten, make no further questioning!
There is no rest for me till I have left
These walls - they fall in on me - a dim power
Drives me from hence - Oh mercy! What a feeling!
What pale and hollow forms are those! They fill,
They crowd the place! I have no longer room here!
Mercy! Still more! More still! The hideous swarm,
They press on me; they chase me from these walls -
Those hollow, bodiless forms of living men!

NEUBR.

You frighten me so, lady, that no longer
I dare stay here myself. I go and call
Rosenberg instantly. [Exit LADY NEUBRUNN.]


SCENE XII



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