Read ACT V. of The Death of Wallenstein A Play, free online book, by Friedrich Schiller, on


   Butler’s Chamber.

   Butler, and Major Geraldin.

Find me twelve strong dragoons, arm them with pikes
For there must be no firing-
Conceal them somewhere near the banquet-room,
And soon as the dessert is served up, rush all in
And cry-“Who is loyal to the emperor?”
I will overturn the table-while you attack
Illo and Terzky, and despatch them both. 
The castle-palace is well barred and guarded,
That no intelligence of this proceeding
May make its way to the duke.  Go instantly;
Have you yet sent for Captain Devereux
And the Macdonald?

          They’ll be here anon.

Exit Geraldin.

Here’s no room for delay.  The citizens
Declare for him-a dizzy drunken spirit
Possesses the whole town.  They see in the duke
A prince of peace, a founder of new ages
And golden times.  Arms, too, have been given out
By the town-council, and a hundred citizens
Have volunteered themselves to stand on guard. 
Despatch! then, be the word; for enemies
Threaten us from without and from within.


Butler, captain Devereux, and Macdonald.

Here we are, general.

            What’s to be the watchword?

Long live the emperor!

Both (recoiling). 

               Live the house of Austria.

Have we not sworn fidelity to Friedland?

Have we not marched to this place to protect him?

Protect a traitor and his country’s enemy?

Why, yes! in his name you administered
Our oath.

      And followed him yourself to Egra.

I did it the more surely to destroy him.

So then!

     An altered case!

Butler (to DEVEREU%). 
              Thou wretched man
So easily leavest thou thy oath and colors?

The devil!  I but followed your example;
If you could prove a villain, why not we?

We’ve naught to do with thinking-that’s your business. 
You are our general, and give out the orders;
We follow you, though the track lead to hell.

Butler (appeased). 
Good, then! we know each other.

                 I should hope so.

Soldiers of fortune are we-who bids most
He has us.

      ’Tis e’en so!

              Well, for the present
You must remain honest and faithful soldiers.

We wish no other.

          Ay, and make your fortunes.

That is still better.


                We attend.

It is the emperor’s will and ordinance
To seize the person of the Prince-Duke Friedland
Alive or dead.

        It runs so in the letter.

Alive or dead-these were the very words.

And he shall be rewarded from the state
In land and gold who proffers aid thereto.

Ay! that sounds well.  The words sound always well
That travel hither from the court.  Yes! yes! 
We know already what court-words import. 
A golden chain perhaps in sign of favor,
Or an old charger, or a parchment-patent,
And such like.  The prince-duke pays better.

The duke’s a splendid paymaster.

                 All over
With that, my friends.  His lucky stars are set.

And is that certain?

           You have my word for it.

His lucky fortune’s all passed by?

He is as poor as we.

           As poor as we?

Macdonald, we’ll desert him.

               We’ll desert him? 
Full twenty thousand have done that already;
We must do more, my countrymen!  In short-
We-we must kill him.

Both (starting back)
            Kill him!

                 Yes, must kill him;
And for that purpose have I chosen you.


You, Captain Devereux, and thee, Macdonald.

Devereux (after a pause). 
Choose you some other.

            What! art dastardly? 
Thou, with full thirty lives to answer for-
Thou conscientious of a sudden?

To assassinate our lord and general-

To whom we swore a soldier’s oath-

                   The oath
Is null, for Friedland is a traitor.

No, no! it is too bad!

            Yes, by my soul! 
It is too bad.  One has a conscience too-

If it were not our chieftain, who so long
Has issued the commands, and claimed our duty-

Is that the objection?

            Were it my own father,
And the emperor’s service should demand it of me,
It might be done perhaps-but we are soldiers,
And to assassinate our chief commander,
That is a sin, a foul abomination,
From which no monk or confessor absolves us.

I am your pope, and give you absolution. 
Determine quickly!

          ’Twill not do.

                  ’Twont do!

Well, off then! and-send Pestalutz to me.

Devereux (hesitates). 
The Pestalutz-

         What may you want with him?

If you reject it, we can find enough-

Nay, if he must fall, we may earn the bounty
As well as any other.  What think you,
Brother Macdonald?

          Why, if he must fall,
And will fall, and it can’t be otherwise,
One would not give place to this Pestalutz.

Devereux (after some reflection). 
When do you purpose he should fall?

                   This night. 
To-morrow will the Swedes be at our gates.

You take upon you all the consequences?

I take the whole upon me.

              And it is
The emperor’s will, his express absolute will? 
For we have instances that folks may like
The murder, and yet hang the murderer.

The manifesto says-“alive or dead.” 
Alive-’tis not possible-you see it is not.

Well, dead then! dead!  But bow can we come at him. 
The town is filled with Terzky’s soldiery.

Ay! and then Terzky still remains, and Illo-

With these you shall begin-you understand me?

How!  And must they too perish?

                 They the first.

Hear, Devereux!  A bloody evening this.

Have you a man for that?  Commission me-

’Tis given in trust to Major Geraldin;
This is a carnival night, and there’s a feast
Given at the castle-there we shall surprise them,
And hew them down.  The Pestalutz and Lesley
Have that commission.  Soon as that is finished-

Hear, general!  It will be all one to you-
Hark ye, let me exchange with Geraldin.

’Twill be the lesser danger with the duke.

Danger!  The devil!  What do you think me, general,
’Tis the duke’s eye, and not his sword, I fear.

What can his eye do to thee?

               Death and hell! 
Thou knowest that I’m no milksop, general! 
But ’tis not eight days since the duke did send me
Twenty gold pieces for this good warm coat
Which I have on! and then for him to see me
Standing before him with the pike, his murderer. 
That eye of his looking upon this coat-
Why-why-the devil fetch me!  I’m no milksop!

The duke presented thee this good warm coat,
And thou, a needy wight, hast pangs of conscience
To run him through the body in return,
A coat that is far better and far warmer
Did the emperor give to him, the prince’s mantle. 
How doth he thank the emperor?  With revolt
And treason.

       That is true.  The devil take
Such thankers!  I’ll despatch him.

                  And would’st quiet
Thy conscience, thou hast naught to do but simply
Pull off the coat; so canst thou do the deed
With light heart and good spirits.

                  You are right,
That did not strike me.  I’ll pull off the coat-
So there’s an end of it.

             Yes, but there’s another
Point to be thought of.

             And what’s that, Macdonald?

What avails sword or dagger against him? 
He is not to be wounded-he is-

Butler (starting up). 

Safe against shot, and stab, and flash!  Hard frozen. 
Secured and warranted by the black art
His body is impenetrable, I tell you.

In Ingolstadt there was just such another: 
His whole skin was the same as steel; at last
We were obliged to beat him down with gunstocks.

Hear what I’ll do.


              In the cloister here
There’s a Dominican, my countryman. 
I’ll make him dip my sword and pike for me
In holy water, and say over them
One of his strongest blessings.  That’s probatum! 
Nothing can stand ’gainst that.

                 So do, Macdonald! 
But now go and select from out the regiment
Twenty or thirty able-bodied fellows,
And let them take the oaths to the emperor. 
Then when it strikes eleven, when the first rounds
Are passed, conduct them silently as may be
To the house.  I will myself be not far off.

But how do we get through Hartschier and Gordon,
That stand on guard there in the inner chamber?

I have made myself acquainted with the place,
I lead you through a back door that’s defended
By one man only.  Me my rank and office
Give access to the duke at every hour. 
I’ll go before you-with one poinard-stroke
Cut Hartschier’s windpipe, and make way for you.

And when we are there, by what means shall we gain
The duke’s bed-chamber, without his alarming
The servants of the court? for he has here
A numerous company of followers.

The attendants fills the right wing:  he hates bustle,
And lodges in the left wing quite alone.

Were it well over-hey, Macdonald!  I
Feel queerly on the occasion, devil knows.

And I, too.  ’Tis too great a personage. 
People will hold us for a brace of villains.

In plenty, honor, splendor-you may safely
Laugh at the people’s babble.

                If the business
Squares with one’s honor-if that be quite certain.

Set your hearts quite at ease.  Ye save for Ferdinand
His crown and empire.  The reward can be
No small one.

And ’tis his purpose to dethrone the emperor?

Yes!  Yes! to rob him of his crown and life.

And must he fall by the executioner’s hands,
Should we deliver him up to the emperor

    It were his certain destiny.

Well!  Well!  Come then, Macdonald, he shall not
Lie long in pain.

   Exeunt Butler through one door, Macdonald and Devereux
   through the other.


   A saloon, terminated by a gallery, which extends far
   into the background.

   WALLENSTIN sitting at a table.  The Swedish captain
   standing before him.

Commend me to your lord.  I sympathize
In his good fortune; and if you have seen me
Deficient in the expressions of that joy,
Which such a victory might well demand,
Attribute it to no lack of good-will,
For henceforth are our fortunes one.  Farewell,
And for your trouble take my thanks.  To-morrow
The citadel shall be surrendered to you
On your arrival.

The Swedish captain retires.  Wallenstein sits lost in thought, his eyes fixed vacantly, and his head sustained by his hand.  The countess Terzky enters, stands before him for awhile, unobserved by him; at length he starts, sees her and recollects himself.

Comest thou from her?  Is she restored?  How is she?

My sister tells me she was more collected
After her conversation with the Swede. 
She has now retired to rest.

               The pang will soften
She will shed tears.

           I find thee altered, too,
My brother!  After such a victory
I had expected to have found in thee
A cheerful spirit.  Oh, remain thou firm! 
Sustain, uphold us!  For our light thou art,
Our sun.

     Be quiet.  I ail nothing.  Where’s
Thy husband?

       At a banquet-he and Illo.

Wallenstein (rises and strides across the saloon). 
The night’s far spent.  Betake thee to thy chamber.

Bid me not go, oh, let me stay with thee!

Wallenstein (moves to the window). 
There is a busy motion in the heaven,
The wind doth chase the flag upon the tower,
Fast sweep the clouds, the sickle 11] of the moon,
Struggling, darts snatches of uncertain light. 
No form of star is visible!  That one
White stain of light, that single glimmering yonder,
Is from Cassiopeia, and therein
Is Jupiter. (A pause.) But now
The blackness of the troubled element hides him!

He sinks into profound melancholy, and looks vacantly
into the distance.

Countess (looks on him mournfully, then grasps his hand). 
What art thou brooding on?

If I but saw him, ’twould be well with me. 
He is the star of my nativity,
And often marvellously hath his aspect
Shot strength into my heart.

Thou’lt see him again.

Wallenstein (remains for awhile with absent mind, then assumes a livelier manner, and turning suddenly to the countess).  See him again?  Oh, never, never again!


   He is gone-is dust.

              Whom meanest thou, then?

He, the more fortunate! yea, he hath finished! 
For him there is no longer any future,
His life is bright-bright without spot it was,
And cannot cease to be.  No ominous hour
Knocks at his door with tidings of mishap,
Far off is he, above desire and fear;
No more submitted to the change and chance
Of the unsteady planets.  Oh, ’tis well
With him! but who knows what the coming hour
Veiled in thick darkness brings us?

Thou speakest of Piccolomini.  What was his death? 
The courier had just left thee as I came.

   Wallenstein by a motion of his hand makes signs to her
   to be silent.

Turn not thine eyes upon the backward view,
Let us look forward into sunny days,
Welcome with joyous heart the victory,
Forget what it has cost thee.  Not to-day,
For the first time, thy friend was to thee dead;
To thee he died when first he parted from thee.

This anguish will be wearied down 12], I know;
What pang is permanent with man?  From the highest,
As from the vilest thing of every day,
He learns to wean himself:  for the strong hours
Conquer him.  Yet I feel what I have lost
In him.  The bloom is vanished from my life,
For oh, he stood beside me, like my youth,
Transformed for me the real to a dream,
Clothing the palpable and the familiar
With golden exhalations of the dawn,
Whatever fortunes wait my future toils,
The beautiful is vanished-and returns not.

Oh, be not treacherous to thy own power. 
Thy heart is rich enough to vivify
Itself.  Thou lovest and prizest virtues in him,
The which thyself didst plant, thyself unfold.

Wallenstein (stepping to the door). 
Who interrupts us now at this late hour? 
It is the governor.  He brings the keys
Of the citadel.  ’Tis midnight.  Leave me, sister!

Oh, ’tis so hard to me this night to leave thee;
A boding fear possesses me!

               Fear!  Wherefore?

Shouldst thou depart this night, and we at waking
Never more find thee!


                 Ob, my soul
Has long been weighed down by these dark forebodings,
And if I combat and repel them waking,
They still crush down upon my heart in dreams,
I saw thee, yesternight with thy first wife
Sit at a banquet, gorgeously attired.

This was a dream of favorable omen,
That marriage being the founder of my fortunes.

To-day I dreamed that I was seeking thee
In thy own chamber.  As I entered, lo! 
It was no more a chamber:  the Chartreuse
At Gitschin ’twas, which thou thyself hast founded,
And where it is thy will that thou shouldst be

      Thy soul is busy with these thoughts.

What! dost thou not believe that oft in dreams
A voice of warning speaks prophetic to us?

There is no doubt that there exist such voices,
Yet I would not call them
Voices of warning that announce to us
Only the inevitable.  As the sun,
Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image
In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits
Of great events stride on before the events,
And in to-day already walks to-morrow. 
That which we read of the fourth Henry’s death
Did ever vex and haunt me like a tale
Of my own future destiny.  The king
Felt in his breast the phantom of the knife
Long ere Ravaillac armed himself therewith. 
His quiet mind forsook him; the phantasma
Started him in his Louvre, chased him forth
Into the open air; like funeral knells
Sounded that coronation festival;
And still with boding sense he heard the tread
Of those feet that even then were seeking him
Throughout the streets of Paris.

                 And to thee
The voice within thy soul bodes nothing?

Be wholly tranquil.

           And another time
I hastened after thee, and thou rann’st from me
Through a long suite, through many a spacious hall. 
There seemed no end of it; doors creaked and clapped;
I followed panting, but could not overtake thee;
When on a sudden did I feel myself
Grasped from behind,-the hand was cold that grasped me;
’Twas thou, and thou didst kiss me, and there seemed
A crimson covering to envelop us.

That is the crimson tapestry of my chamber.

Countess (gazing on him). 
If it should come to that-if I should see thee,
Who standest now before me in the fulness
Of life-

She falls on his breast and weeps.

The emperor’s proclamation weighs upon thee-
Alphabets wound not-and he finds no hands.

If he should find them, my resolve is taken-
I bear about me my support and refuge.

Exit countess.


Wallenstein, Gordon.

All quiet in the town?

            The town is quiet.

I hear a boisterous music! and the castle
Is lighted up.  Who are the revellers?

There is a banquet given at the castle
To the Count Terzky and Field-Marshal Illo.

In honor of the victory-this tribe
Can show their joy in nothing else but feasting.
   Rings.  The Groom of the chamber enters. 
Unrobe me.  I will lay me down to sleep.
   Wallenstein takes the keys from Gordon
So we are guarded from all enemies,
And shut in with sure friends. 
For all must cheat me, or a face like this
   Fixing his eyes on Gordon
Was ne’er a hypocrite’s mask.

The Groom of the chamber takes off his mantle, collar, and scarf.

Take care-what is that?

Groom of the chamber
             The golden chain is snapped in two.

Well, it has lasted long enough.  Here-give it.
   He takes and looks at the chain. 
’Twas the first present of the emperor. 
He hung it round me in the war of Friule,
He being then archduke; and I have worn it
Till now from habit-
From superstition, if you will.  Belike,
It was to be a talisman to me;
And while I wore it on my neck in faith,
It was to chain to me all my life-long
The volatile fortune, whose first pledge it was. 
Well, be it so!  Henceforward a new fortune
Must spring up for me; for the potency
Of this charm is dissolved.

   Groom of the chamber retires with the vestments.  Wallenstein
   rises, takes a stride across the room, and stands at last before
   Gordon in a posture of meditation.

How the old time returns upon me!  I
Behold myself once more at Burgau, where
We two were pages of the court together. 
We oftentimes disputed:  thy intention
Was ever good; but thou were wont to play
The moralist and preacher, and wouldst rail at me-
That I strove after things too high for me,
Giving my faith to bold, unlawful dreams,
And still extol to me the golden mean. 
Thy wisdom hath been proved a thriftless friend
To thy own self.  See, it has made thee early
A superannuated man, and (but
That my munificent stars will intervene)
Would let thee in some miserable corner
Go out like an untended lamp.

                My prince
With light heart the poor fisher moors his boat,
And watches from the shore the lofty ship
Stranded amid the storm.

             Art thou already
In harbor, then, old man?  Well!  I am not. 
The unconquered spirit drives me o’er life’s billows;
My planks still firm, my canvas swelling proudly. 
Hope is my goddess still, and youth my inmate;
And while we stand thus front to front almost,
I might presume to say, that the swift years
Have passed by powerless o’er my unblanched hair.

He moves with long strides across the saloon, and remains
on the opposite side over against Gordon.

Who now persists in calling fortune false? 
To me she has proved faithful; with fond love
Took me from out the common ranks of men,
And like a mother goddess, with strong arm
Carried me swiftly up the steps of life. 
Nothing is common in my destiny,
Nor in the furrows of my hand.  Who dares
Interpret then my life for me as ’twere
One of the undistinguishable many? 
True, in this present moment I appear
Fallen low indeed; but I shall rise again. 
The high flood will soon follow on this ebb;
The fountain of my fortune, which now stops,
Repressed and bound by some malicious star,
Will soon in joy play forth from all its pipes.

And yet remember I the good old proverb,
“Let the night come before we praise the day.” 
I would be slow from long-continued fortune
To gather hope:  for hope is the companion
Given to the unfortunate by pitying heaven. 
Fear hovers round the head of prosperous men,
For still unsteady are the scales of fate.

Wallenstein (smiling). 
I hear the very Gordon that of old
Was wont to preach, now once more preaching;
I know well, that all sublunary things
Are still the vassals of vicissitude. 
The unpropitious gods demand their tribute. 
This long ago the ancient pagans knew
And therefore of their own accord they offered
To themselves injuries, so to atone
The jealousy of their divinities
And human sacrifices bled to Typhon.
   After a pause, serious, and in a more subdued manner. 
I too have sacrificed to him-for me
There fell the dearest friend, and through my fault
He fell!  No joy from favorable fortune
Can overweigh the anguish of this stroke. 
The envy of my destiny is glutted: 
Life pays for life.  On his pure head the lightning
Was drawn off which would else have shattered me.


   To these enter seni.

Is not that Seni! and beside himself,
If one can trust his looks?  What brings thee hither
At this late hour, Baptista?

               Terror, duke! 
On thy account.

         What now?

              Flee ere the day break! 
Trust not thy person to the Swedes!

                   What now
Is in thy thoughts?

Seni (with louder voice). 
Trust not thy person to the Swedes.

                   What is it, then?

Seni (still more urgently). 
Oh, wait not the arrival of these Swedes! 
An evil near at hand is threatening thee
From false friends.  All the signs stand full of horror! 
Near, near at hand the net-work of perdition-
Yea, even now ’tis being cast around thee!

Baptista, thou art dreaming!-fear befools thee.

Believe not that an empty fear deludes me. 
Come, read it in the planetary aspects;
Read it thyself, that ruin threatens thee
From false friends.

           From the falseness of my friends
Has risen the whole of my unprosperous fortunes. 
The warning should have come before!  At present
I need no revelation from the stars
To know that.

        Come and see! trust thine own eyes. 
A fearful sign stands in the house of life-
An enemy; a fiend lurks close behind
The radiance of thy planet.  Oh, be warned! 
Deliver not up thyself to these heathens,
To wage a war against our holy church.

Wallenstein (laughing gently). 
The oracle rails that way!  Yes, yes!  Now
I recollect.  This junction with the Swedes
Did never please thee-lay thyself to sleep,
Baptista!  Signs like these I do not fear.

Gordon (who during the whole of this dialogue has shown marks
    of extreme agitation, and now turns to Wallenstein). 
My duke and general!  May I dare presume?

Speak freely.

        What if ’twere no mere creation
Of fear, if God’s high providence vouchsafed
To interpose its aid for your deliverance,
And made that mouth its organ?

                Ye’re both feverish! 
How can mishap come to me from the Swedes? 
They sought this junction with me-’tis their interest.

Gordon (with difficulty suppressing his emotion). 
But what if the arrival of these Swedes-
What if this were the very thing that winged
The ruin that is flying to your temples?

   Flings himself at his feet.

There is yet time, my prince.

                Oh hear him! hear him!

Gordon (rises). 
The Rhinegrave’s still far off.  Give but the orders,
This citadel shall close its gates upon him. 
If then he will besiege us, let him try it. 
But this I say; he’ll find his own destruction,
With his whole force before these ramparts, sooner
Than weary down the valor of our spirit. 
He shall experience what a band of heroes,
Inspirited by an heroic leader,
Is able to perform.  And if indeed
It be thy serious wish to make amend
For that which thou hast done amiss,-this, this
Will touch and reconcile the emperor,
Who gladly turns his heart to thoughts of mercy;
And Friedland, who returns repentant to him,
Will stand yet higher in his emperor’s favor
Then e’er he stood when he had never fallen.

Wallenstein (contemplates him with surprise, remains silent a while,
       betraying strong emotion). 
Gordon-your zeal and fervor lead you far. 
Well, well-an old friend has a privilege. 
Blood, Gordon, has been flowing.  Never, never
Can the emperor pardon me:  and if he could,
Yet I-I ne’er could let myself be pardoned. 
Had I foreknown what now has taken place,
That he, my dearest friend, would fall for me,
My first death offering; and had the heart
Spoken to me, as now it has done-Gordon,
It may be, I might have bethought myself. 
It may be too, I might not.  Might or might not
Is now an idle question.  All too seriously
Has it begun to end in nothing, Gordon! 
Let it then have its course.
   Stepping to the window. 
All dark and silent-at the castle too
All is now hushed.  Light me, chamberlain?

The Groom of the chamber, who had entered during the last dialogue, and had been standing at a distance and listening to it with visible expressions of the deepest interest, advances in extreme agitation and throws himself at the DUKE’s feet.

And thou too!  But I know why thou dost wish
My reconcilement with the emperor. 
Poor man! he hath a small estate in Carinthia,
And fears it will be forfeited because
He’s in my service.  Am I then so poor
That I no longer can indemnify
My servants?  Well! to no one I employ
Means of compulsion.  If ’tis thy belief
That fortune has fled from me, go! forsake me. 
This night for the last time mayst thou unrobe me,
And then go over to the emperor. 
Gordon, good-night!  I think to make a long
Sleep of it:  for the struggle and the turmoil
Of this last day or two was great.  May’t please you
Take care that they awake me not too early.

Exit Wallenstein, the Groom of the chamber lighting him.  Seni follows, Gordon remains on the darkened stage, following the duke with his eye, till he disappears at the further end of the gallery:  then by his gestures the old man expresses the depth of his anguish, and stands leaning against a pillar.


   Gordon, Butler (at first behind the scenes).

Butler (not yet come into view of the stage). 
Here stand in silence till I give the signal.

Gordon (starts up). 
’Tis he! he has already brought the murderers.

The lights are out.  All lies in profound sleep.

What shall I do, shall I attempt to save him? 
Shall I call up the house? alarm the guards?

Butler (appears, but scarcely on the stage). 
A light gleams hither from the corridor. 
It leads directly to the duke’s bed-chamber.

But then I break my oath to the emperor;
If he escape and strengthen the enemy,
Do I not hereby call down on my head
All the dread consequences.

Butler (stepping forward). 
               Hark!  Who speaks there?

’Tis better, I resign it to the hands
Of Providence.  For what am I, that I
Should take upon myself so great a deed? 
I have not murdered him, if he be murdered;
But all his rescue were my act and deed;
Mine-and whatever be the consequences
I must sustain them.

Butler (advances). 
           I should know that voice.


     ’Tis Gordon.  What do you want here? 
Was it so late, then, when the duke dismissed you?

Your hand bound up and in a scarf?

                  ’Tis wounded. 
That Illo fought as he were frantic, till
At last we threw him on the ground.

Gordon (shuddering). 
                   Both dead?

Is he in bed?

        Ah, Butler!

              Is he? speak.

He shall not perish!  Not through you!  The heaven
Refuses your arm.  See-’tis wounded!

There is no need of my arm.

               The most guilty
Have perished, and enough is given to justice.

The Groom of the chamber advances from the gallery with his finger
on his mouth commanding silence.

He sleeps!  Oh, murder not the holy sleep!

No! he shall die awake.
              Is going.

His heart still cleaves
To earthly things:  he’s not prepared to step
Into the presence of his God!

Butler (going). 
                God’s merciful!

Gordon (holds him). 
Grant him but this night’s respite.

Butler (hurrying of). 
                   The next moment
May ruin all.

Gordon (holds him still). 
        One hour!

             Unhold me!  What
Can that short respite profit him?

                  Oh, time
Works miracles.  In one hour many thousands
Of grains of sand run out; and quick as they
Thought follows thought within the human soul. 
Only one hour!  Your heart may change its purpose,
His heart may change its purpose-some new tidings
May come; some fortunate event, decisive,
May fall from heaven and rescue him.  Oh, what
May not one hour achieve!

              You but remind me
How precious every minute is!

He stamps on the floor.


To these enter Macdonald and Devereux, with the Halberdiers.

Gordon (throwing himself between him and them). 
              No, monster! 
First over my dead body thou shalt tread.  I will
Hot live to see the accursed deed!

Butler (forcing him out of the way). 
Weak-hearted dotard!

Trumpets are heard in the distance.

Devereux and Macdonald
           Hark!  The Swedish trumpets! 
The Swedes before the ramparts!  Let us hasten!

Gordon (rushes out). 
Oh, God of mercy!

Butler (calling after him). 
          Governor, to your post!

Groom of the chamber (hurries in). 
Who dares make larum here?  Hush!  The duke sleeps.

Devereux (with loud, harsh voice). 
Friend, it is time now to make larum.

Groom of the chamber

     Down with him!

Groom of the chamber (run through the body by Devereux, falls at
   the entrance of the gallery). 
             Jesus Maria!

Burst the doors open.

They rush over the body into the gallery-two doors are heard to
crash one after the other.  Voices, deadened by the distance-clash
of arms-then all at once a profound silence: 


Countess Terzky (with a light). 
Her bedchamber is empty; she herself
Is nowhere to be found!  The Neubrunn too,
Who watched by her, is missing.  If she should
Be flown-but whither flown?  We must call up
Every soul in the house.  How will the duke
Bear up against these worst bad tidings?  Oh,
If that my husband now were but returned
Home from the banquet!  Hark!  I wonder whether
The duke is still awake!  I thought I heard
Voices and tread of feet here!  I will go
And listen at the door.  Hark! what is that? 
’Tis hastening up the steps!


Countess, Gordon.

Gordon (rushes in out of breath)
                ’Tis a mistake! 
’Tis not the Swedes; ye must proceed no further-
Butler!  Oh, God! where is he?
              Observing the countess
                Countess!  Say-

You’re come then from the castle?  Where’s my husband?

Gordon (in an agony of affright). 
Your husband!  Ask not!  To the duke-

                     Not till
You have discovered to me-

               On this moment
Does the world hang.  For God’s sake! to the duke. 
While we are speaking-
            Calling loudly. 
             Butler!  Butler!  God!

Why, he is at the castle with my husband.

Butler comes from the gallery.

’Twas a mistake.  ’Tis not the Swedes-it is
The imperialists’ lieutenant-general
Has sent me hither-will be here himself
Instantly.  You must not proceed.

                  He comes
Too late.

Gordon dashes himself against the wall.

      Oh, God of mercy!

               What, too late? 
Who will be here himself?  Octavio
In Egra?  Treason!  Treason!  Where’s the duke?

   She rushes to the gallery.


   Servants run across the stage full of terror.  The whole scene
   must be spoken entirely without pauses.

Seni (from the gallery). 
Oh, bloody, frightful deed!

               What is it, Seni?

Page (from the gallery). 
Oh, piteous sight!

   Other servants hasten in with torches.

What is it?  For God’s sake!

               And do you ask? 
Within the duke lies murdered-and your husband
Assassinated at the castle.

The countess stands motionless.

Female servant (rushing across the stage). 
Help! help! the duchess!

Burgomaster (enters). 
             What mean these confused
Loud cries that wake the sleepers of this house?

Your house is cursed to all eternity. 
In your house doth the duke lie murdered!

Burgomaster (rushing out)
                      Heaven forbid!

First servant
Fly! fly! they murder us all!

Second servant (carrying silver-plate). 
                That way! the lower
Passages are blocked up.

Voice (from behind the scene). 
Make room for the lieutenant-general!

   At these words the countess starts from her stupor, collects
   herself, and retires suddenly.

Voice (from behind the scene). 
Keep back the people!  Guard the door!


To these enter Octavio Piccolomini with all his train.  At the same time Devereux and Macdonald enter from out the corridor with the Halberdiers.  WALLENSTEIN’s dead body is carried over the back part of the stage, wrapped in a piece of crimson tapestry.

Octavio (entering abruptly). 
It must not be!  It is not possible! 
Butler!  Gordon! 
I’ll not believe it.  Say no!

   Gordon, without answering, points with his hand to the body of
   Wallenstein as it is carried over the back of the stage.  Octavio
   looks that way, and stands overpowered with horror.

Devereux (to Butler). 
Here is the golden fleece-the duke’s sword-

Is it your order-

Butler (pointing to Octavio). 
          Here stands he who now
Hath the sole power to issue orders.

   Devereux and Macdonald retire with marks of obeisance.  One drops
   away after the other, till only Butler, Octavio, and Gordon remain
   on the stage.

Octavio (turning to Butler). 
Was that my purpose, Butler, when we parted? 
Oh, God of Justice! 
To thee I lift my hand!  I am not guilty
Of this foul deed.

          Your hand is pure.  You have
Availed yourself of mine.

              Merciless man! 
Thus to abuse the orders of thy lord-
And stain thy emperor’s holy name with murder,
With bloody, most accursed assassination!

Butler (calmly). 
I’ve but fulfilled the emperor’s own sentence.

Oh, curse of kings,
Infusing a dread life into their words,
And linking to the sudden, transient thought
The unchanging, irrevocable deed. 
Was there necessity for such an eager
Despatch?  Couldst thou not grant the merciful
A time for mercy?  Time is man’s good angel. 
To leave no interval between the sentence,
And the fulfilment of it, doth beseem
God only, the immutable!

             For what
Rail you against me?  What is my offence? 
The empire from a fearful enemy
Have I delivered, and expect reward. 
The single difference betwixt you and me
Is this:  you placed the arrow in the bow;
I pulled the string.  You sowed blood, and yet stand
Astonished that blood is come up.  I always
Knew what I did, and therefore no result
Hath power to frighten or surprise my spirit. 
Have you aught else to order; for this instant
I make my best speed to Vienna; place
My bleeding sword before my emperor’s throne,
And hope to gain the applause which undelaying
And punctual obedience may demand
From a just judge.

Exit Butler.


To these enter the countess Terzky, pale and disordered. 
Her utterance is slow and feeble, and unimpassioned.

Octavio (meeting her). 
Oh, Countess Terzky!  These are the results
Of luckless, unblest deeds.

               They are the fruits
Of your contrivances.  The duke is dead,
My husband too is dead, the duchess struggles
In the pangs of death, my niece has disappeared;
This house of splendor, and of princely glory,
Doth now stand desolated:  the affrighted servants
Rush forth through all its doors.  I am the last
Therein; I shut it up, and here deliver
The keys.

Octavio (with a deep anguish). 
      Oh, countess! my house, too, is desolate.

Who next is to be murdered?  Who is next
To be maltreated?  Lo! the duke is dead. 
The emperor’s vengeance may be pacified! 
Spare the old servants; let not their fidelity
Be imputed to the faithful as a crime-
The evil destiny surprised my brother
Too suddenly:  he could not think on them.

Speak not of vengeance!  Speak not of maltreatment! 
The emperor is appeased; the heavy fault
Hath heavily been expiated-nothing
Descended from the father to the daughter,
Except his glory and his services. 
The empress honors your adversity,
Takes part in your afflictions, opens to you
Her motherly arms.  Therefore no further fears. 
Yield yourself up in hope and confidence
To the imperial grace!

Countess (with her eye raised to heaven)
To the grace and mercy of a greater master
Do I yield up myself.  Where shall the body
Of the duke have its place of final rest? 
In the Chartreuse, which he himself did found
At Gitschin, rests the Countess Wallenstein;
And by her side, to whom he was indebted
For his first fortunes, gratefully he wished
He might sometime repose in death!  Oh, let him
Be buried there.  And likewise, for my husband’s
Remains I ask the like grace.  The emperor
Is now the proprietor of all our castles;
This sure may well be granted us-one sepulchre
Beside the sepulchres of our forefathers!

Countess, you tremble, you turn pale!

Countess (reassembles all her powers, and speaks with energy and
                    You think
More worthily of me than to believe
I would survive the downfall of my house. 
We did not hold ourselves too mean to grasp
After a monarch’s crown-the crown did fate
Deny, but not the feeling and the spirit
That to the crown belong!  We deem a
Courageous death more worthy of our free station
Than a dishonored life.  I have taken poison.

Help!  Help!  Support her!

              Nay, it is too late. 
In a few moments is my fate accomplished.

Exit countess.

Oh, house of death and horrors!

An officer enters, and brings a letter with the great seal. 
Gordon steps forward and meets him.

What is this
It is the imperial seal.

He reads the address, and delivers the letter to Octavio with
a look of reproach, and with an emphasis on the word.

To the Prince Piccolomini.

Octavio, with his whole frame expressive of sudden anguish,
raises his eyes to heaven.

         The Curtain drops.