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A tragedy in five acts

Translation © 2017 Flora Kimmich, CC BY 4.0

Engraved portrait of Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, by Matthäus Merian, in Cornelis Danckaerts, Historis oft waerachtlich verhael (1642), Image in the public domain.











COLONEL WRANGEL, Swedish emissary

GORDON, commandant at Eger


DEVEROUX, MACDONALD captains in Wallenstein’s army


A delegation of CUIRASSIERS






Fräulein von NEUBRUNN, lady companion to Thekla

Von ROSENBERG, equerry to Thekla



The scene of the first three acts is Pilsen, of the last two, Eger.

Act One

A Room equipped for astrological endeavors and furnished with globes, charts, quadrants, and other astrological instruments. A curtain is drawn back from a rotunda where we see statues of the seven planets, each in an alcove and strangely lit. Seni is observing the stars; Wallenstein is standing before a large black table showing the aspect of the planets.

Scene One

Wallenstein. Seni.

WALLENSTEIN. Enough for now. Come down, Seni. Come down,

For day is breaking; Mars controls the hour.

It’s no use going on. Just come on down.

We know enough.

SENI. Let me watch Venus for

A moment, Excellency. She’s just rising

And shining like the sun there in the east.

WALLENSTEIN. She’s at her perigee, is nearest Earth,

Affecting things below with greatest strength.

(Observing the figure on the table of aspect.)

Such favorable aspect! That great threesome

Converges fatefully; the two good stars,10

Venus and Jupiter take spiteful Mars

Between them, force that vandal to serve me.

For he has long been hostile to me, sent

Against my stars red beams oblique and per-

Pendicular, quadratic and opposed,

And broken their benign influences.

They’ve overcome their ancient enemy now

And bring him to me in the heavens, chained.172

SENI. These two great lights unthreatened now by any

Star Maleficus!173 Saturn rendered harmless,20

Quite without power, in cadente domo.174

WALLENSTEIN. His rule is over, Saturn’s is, the god who

Controls the birth of secret things in Earth’s

Dark womb and in the depths of our own hearts,

Disposes over all that shuns the light.

The time is past for brooding and reflecting,

For Jupiter, most brilliant, governs now

And draws a work prepared in darkness forth

With force into the realm of light. Quick! Time

To act, before the happy constellation30

Above my head eludes me once again,

For change is constant on the dome of heaven.

(Loud knocking at the door.)175

A knock. See who it is.

TERZKY (outside). Ho! Open up!


What’s there so urgent? We are busy here.

TERZKY (outside). Put everything aside. I beg of you.

There can be no delay.

WALLENSTEIN. Then open, Seni.

(As Seni opens the door, Wallenstein draws the curtain before the statues.)

Scene Two

Wallenstein. Count Terzky.

TERZKY (entering). You’ve heard the news already? He’s been caught,

Turned over by Count Gallas to the Kaiser!

WALLENSTEIN (to Terzky).

Who’s caught? Who’s been turned over to the Kaiser?

TERZKY. The man who carried all our secrets, knows40

Of all our contacts with the Swedes and Saxons,

Who was our go-between in everything—

WALLLENSTEIN (starting back).

Sesina? No! Oh, tell me it’s not him!

TERZKY. Heading for Regensburg and to the Swedes,

Picked up by a detail from Gallas. They’d

Been tracking all his movements for a long time.176

And carrying my packet: letters meant

For Kinsky,177 Matthes Thurn, for Oxenstirn

And Arnheim; that was on his person, all that,

And now they have it. They know everything,50

Can piece together everything that’s happened.

Scene Three

As above. Illo enters.

ILLO (to Terzky). He knows?

TERZKY. He knows all.

ILLO (to Wallenstein). Do you now think you

Can make peace with the Kaiser? Win his trust

Back? Even if you wanted to renounce

All plans, they know now what you aimed to do.

So forward! There’s no going backward now.

TERZKY. They have their hands on documents against us

That prove incontrovertibly how we—

WALLENSTEIN. In my handwriting, nothing. I dispute you.

ILLO. You do? Do you believe what he agreed,60

Your brother acting in your name, will not

Be put on your account? The Swedes should take

His word as yours, and not the Kaiser’s men!

TERZKY. Nothing in writing, granted. But recall

How far you went with Sesin orally.

Will he keep silent? Will he guard your secret,

If he can save himself betraying it?

ILLO. Not even you believe that! And now that they know

How far you’ve gone already, what do you

Expect? You’ll not keep your command, and once70

You’ve laid it down, you’re lost—there’ll be no rescue.

WALLENSTEIN. The army is my safety. It will not

Desert me. They may know whatever—I

Retain the power; they’ll have to swallow that.

And if I give security for my

Good faith, that’s all they can require of me.

ILLO. The army’s yours. Now for the moment, it

Is yours. But tremble at the slow, insidious

Workings of time. The favor you enjoy there

Protects you for today, tomorrow still,80

From outright force. Give them a little time, though,

And they with stealth will undermine the good

Opinion that you stand on, steal from you

First one man, than another, so that when

The earthquake comes, your riddled house collapses.

WALLENSTEIN. An evil accident!

ILLO. A lucky one, I’d say, if it affects

You as it should, obliges you to act

Once and for all. The Swedish colonel is—178

WALLENSTEIN. He’s here? Do you know what he has for us?90

ILLO. I asked. He’ll only speak with you in private.

WALLENSTEIN. An evil, evil accident. For sure,

Sesina knows too much and he will talk.

TERZKY. He’s a Bohemian rebel and a fugitive,

His head is in a noose. If he can save

Himself, and at your cost, will he have scruples?

And if they put him on the rack, what hope

Have we that he’ll hold out, weak as he is?

WALLENSTEIN (lost in thought).

There’s no establishing their trust again.

Whatever I do now, I’ll be and I100

Remain a traitor in their eyes. Even

If I return now to my duties in

All honesty, it will avail me nothing—

ILLO. It’ll ruin you. They’ll only mark it up, not

To your good faith, but to your helplessness.

WALLENSTEIN (much aroused, pacing).

What? Should I be obliged to go through with

It just because I toyed with the thought?

He’s lost—the man who dares fool with the Devil.

ILLO. If you were only fooling, believe you me,

You’ll pay for it in all true seriousness.110

WALLENSTEIN. And if I must go through with it, then it

Must happen now, just now, while I have power.

ILLO. If possible, before the Viennese

Recover from the blow and cut you off.

WALLENSTEIN (studying the signatures).

I have the generals’ written word of honor.179

Max Piccolomini’s not here. Why not?

TERZKY. He was—He said—

ILLO. Oh, it was pure conceit!

He said there was no need between you two.

WALLENSTEIN. There is no need—in that he is quite right.

The regiments don’t want to go to Flanders.120

They’ve forwarded a written protest to me:180

They noisily resist their orders. Well!

We have the first move toward an insurrection.

ILLO. You’ll sooner lead them to the enemy,

I warrant you, than over to the Spaniards.

WALLENSTEIN. I’d like to hear now what that Swede has brought

For me.

ILLO (eagerly). Would you admit him, Terzky?

He’s right outside.

WALLENSTEIN. Wait just a moment more.

He takes me by surprise—It came too fast—

Blind chance, an accident—It’s not my way130

To let that rule me darkly, sweep me with it.

ILLO. Just hear him as a first step. Weigh it later.

(Exeunt Illo and Terzky.)

Scene Four

WALLENSTEIN (speaking to himself).181

Could it be? I’d be barred? Could not do what I

Want? Not retreat, as I would wish? I’d be

Constrained to do the deed because I thought it?

Did not dismiss temptation? Fed my heart

On this imagining; without set purpose,

Prepared the means to see it to completion;

Merely because I kept all avenues open?

God is my witness: I was not in earnest;140

I never made it my set purpose. Never!

I merely liked to entertain the thought.

Freedom to act, capacity: these pricked me.

Was it an error to draw pleasure from a

Phantasm, a hope—no more—of royal office?

And in my heart was a free will not mine?

Did I not always see within my range a

Right way, keep open lines for my retreat?

Where is it I now see that I’ve been led?

Pathless the road that lies behind. A wall150

Built up of my own deeds is rising, blocks me,

And cuts off any hope of turning back.

(He stands still, reflecting.)

Punishable is what I seem: try as

I may, I can’t throw off a sense of guilt.

Life’s ambiguity indicts me, double

Meanings; suspicion, always seeing evil,

Will poison, too, the wellspring of my pure deed.

If I’d been what I’m taken for, a traitor,

I’d spared myself the good appearances

And drawn my cloak about me ever closer,160

Never have shown bad feeling. Knowing myself

Guiltless, my wishes unseduced, I gave

Free rein to all my moods and passions.

My words were bold because my deeds were not.

All this was planless. They, however, peering

Forward, will rhyme it all as plotted, planned;

They’ll weave what rage, high spirits let me say

From a full heart into an artful web

And fashion a complaint so terrible

That I am dumbstruck. I’ll have caught myself170

In my own net, and only force can loose me.

(He halts again.)

How different it was then, when courage drove me

Freely, emboldened me to do what need,

Self-preservation, rudely now requires!

Necessity is grave to contemplate.

Never without a shudder does the human

Hand reach obscurely into Fortune’s urn.

My deed was mine while it lay in my breast.

Released from this sure corner of the heart,

Its mother-ground, out into life abroad,180

It belongs to those perfidious powers no

Mere human hand can ever hope to tame.

(He makes great strides through the room, then halts again, reflecting.)

And what have you embarked on here? Have you

Admitted it forthrightly to yourself?

Power is what you want to shake, reposing

Assured and calm upon its throne, secured

By sacred old possession and by custom,

Fastening itself by countless stubborn roots to

The people’s pious, childlike beliefs.

This is no contest matching strength with strength.190

Of that I have no fear. I’ll take it up

With any foe that I can see and stare down,

Who, full of courage, also kindles mine.

The foe that I can’t see’s the one I fear,

That which resists me in the human heart,

Fearful to me alone by fear itself.

Not what proclaims itself as mighty, full

Of life—What’s dangerously fearsome is

The commonplace, eternal Yesterday,

What’s always been, is always coming back,200

Tomorrow will be good since it was good today.

For man is made of humdrum, common stuff

And calls convention, custom, habit “Nanny.”

It’s a brave soul who would lay hand on his

Precious old hoardings, got from his ancestors!

The year has power to beatify.

What’s gray with age for him is next to God;

You’re in possession? You are in the right!

A right the mob will reverence like a relic.

(To the Page who has entered.)

The Swedish colonel? Yes? Let him come in.210

(The Page goes out. Wallenstein gazes at the doorway, reflecting.)

It’s still unsoiled—still. No crime has crossed

That threshold yet. So narrow is the boundary

That separates two paths that lie before us.

Scene Five

Wallenstein and Wrangel.

WALLENSTEIN (having examined him searchingly).

Your name is Wrangel?

WRANGEL. Gustav Wrangel, colonel,

The regiment of Södermanland Blues.

WALLENSTEIN. It was a Wrangel who did me much harm

Before Stralsund: his brave defense there was

To blame when that seaport held out against me.

WRANGEL. The workings of the elements, my Lord.

They were against you, not my merits! A storm220

The Baltic stirred up to defend its freedom:

Both land and sea were not to serve one master.

WALLENSTEIN. You even swept my admiral’s hat away.

WRANGEL. I come now to replace it with a crown.

WALLENSTEIN (signals him to be seated, himself sits down).

Credentials, please. You’ve full authority?

WRANGEL (showing reservation).

So much remains to be resolved as yet—

WALLENSTEIN (has finished reading).

A solid, useful letter. It’s a smart,

Discerning mind you’re serving, Master Wrangel.

The Chancellor writes he’s only executing

What your late king had contemplated: helping 230

Me to accede to the Bohemian crown.

WRANGEL. He says what’s true. Our much regretted king

Had a great estimation of your Grace’s

Exceptional intelligence and gifts

As marshal. He alone who’s best at ruling,

He’d tell us, should be ruler, should be king.182

WALLENSTEIN. He could say that.

(Taking his hand, confidentially.)

Sincerely, Colonel Wrangel—In my heart I

Was also Swedish. Always. This you saw in

Silesia and again at Nuremberg.240

I often had you in my power and

Always let you slip out by a back door.183

That’s what they won’t forgive me in Vienna

And what obliges me to take this step.

Since our advantage coincides so nicely,

Let us agree to trust each other rightly.

WRANGEL. That trust will come when both sides have security.

WALLENSTEIN. The Chancellor, I see, is slow to trust.

And I confess: the game is not arranged

Quite in my favor. For his Honor thinks250

If I lead on the Kaiser this way, who’s

My master, with the foe I could do like:

The one could be forgiven sooner than

The other. Is that not what you think, Colonel?

WRANGEL. I have an office here and no opinion.

WALLENSTEIN. The Kaiser’s driven me to these extremes.

I can no longer serve him honestly.

For my security, in self-defense

I take a bitter step that conscience blames.

WRANGEL. I believe you. No one goes so far unforced.260

(After a pause.)

What would induce your Lordship to proceed

So with your Kaiser and your master is not

For us to judge or to give meaning to.

The Swede does battle for his own good cause

With his good sword and in good conscience. The

Current conjunction, opportunity

Favors us. Every advantage counts in war.

We therefore take what’s offered without cavil.

If everything is in good order, then—

WALLENSTEIN. What do these doubts concern? Is it my will?270

Is it my forces? I made promise: if

The Chancellor pledges sixteen thousand men,

I’ll bring him eighteen thousand from the Kaiser’s


WRANGEL. Your Grace is well known as a mighty

Warlord, a second Attila and Pyrrhus.184

One tells to this day with astonishment

How years ago, against all human reckoning,

You conjured up an army out of nothing.185

But still—


WRANGEL. His Honor wonders if it

Would not be easier to put sixty thousand280

Warriors into the field from nothing than

To get one sixtieth of that—(He stops.)


Let’s hear it! To—?

WRANGEL. To break their sacred oath.

WALLLENSTEIN. He does? Because he judges like a Swede

And Protestant. You Lutherans battle for

Your Bible, think it’s all about a cause;

With heart and soul you rally to your flag.

When one of yours goes over to the foe,

He’s broken with two masters at one stroke.

That’s not remotely how we see these things.290

WRANGEL. Lord God in heaven! Have you in your country

No homeland, home fires, kitchen hearth, and church?

WALLENSTEIN. I’ll tell you how this plays out on our side.

The Austrian has a fatherland; he loves

It and with reason. But this army, said

To be the Kaiser’s, perched here in Bohemia,

It has none.186 These men are all rejects, thrown off

By other countries, the abandoned of

This world, with nothing they can call their own

Except the sun that shines upon us all.300

This land we’re fighting over, this Bohemia,

Has no affection for its master, whom it

Acquired by changing fortunes in the field

And not by choice. With grumbling it endures

The tyranny of faith. Force has imposed

A silence on them, not a peace. And the

Atrocities committed here live on

As red-hot vengefulness. How should a son

Forget a father chased to mass by hounds?

A people that has suffered such is frightful,310

Enduring or avenging suffered wrongs.187

WRANGEL. The noblemen, though, and the officers?

Desertion on this scale, crime on this order

Is unexampled in all history, my Lord.

WALLENSTEIN. Under all circumstances, they are mine.

You needn’t believe me; trust to your own eyes.

(He hands him the sworn Oath. Wrangel reads it, then lays it silently on the table.)

Well now? You understand?

WRANGEL. If one but could!

My Lord, I drop my mask. I’m authorized

To reach agreement on all pertinent matters.

The Rhinegrave188 stands four marches distant only320

With fifteen thousand men, awaiting orders

To bring them to your army, orders I

Shall give as soon as we two are at one.

WALLENSTEIN. What is it that the Chancellor demands?

WRANGEL (expressing reservation).

Twelve regiments at risk, all Swedish men.

I answer for them with my life. And all

Could be bad faith—

WALLENSTEIN (in anger). Why, sir!

WRANGEL (continuing calmly). Therefore one must

Insist: The Duke of Friedland is to break

With Austria, formally, irrevocably.

On other terms, no Swedish troops are offered.330

WALLENSTEIN. What’s the demand? Pronounce it, quick and clear.

WRANGEL. Thus: to disarm the Spanish regiments

That answer to the Kaiser, to take Prague,

Vacate the city, and the border stronghold

Eger, to Swedish forces.

WALLENSTEIN. Much demanded!

Prague? Eger, fine! But Prague? Can’t be. Won’t work.

I’ll give you every surety that you

Might reasonably require of me. But Prague,

Bohemia—these I can defend myself.

WRANGEL. Of that we have no doubt. We are concerned340

Not merely with defense. We do not want to

Have raised so many men and so much treasure

To no good purpose.

WALLENSTEIN. Properly so.


We are made whole, Prague’s ours.

WALLENSTEIN. That’s how you trust us?

WRANGEL (getting to his feet).

The Swede works circumspectly with the German.

We were invited here across the Baltic;

We’ve saved the Kingdom from its downfall,189 with

Our blood set seal upon religious freedom

And on the sacred teachings of the Gospels.

And now one feels no more the favor but350

The burden, looks askance at strangers in

The land, would like to send us home to our

Dark forests with a pocketful of money.

Oh, no. Not for a Judas wage, for gold

And silver, have we lost our king in battle,

Nor so much noble Swedish blood been spilled

For gold and silver! We’ll not raise our flags

And sail for home with a thin laurel wreath.

We would be citizens on ground our late

King purchased when he gave his life.360

WALLENSTEIN. Help me suppress our common enemy,

The borderland you want will not elude you.

WRANGEL. And once the common enemy’s been conquered?

Who’ll hold our new-found friendship then together?

It’s not escaped us, Prince—though we were not

Supposed to see—that you are entertaining

Contacts with Saxons, secret ones. Who says

We’re not to be made victim of decisions

That one finds prudent to conceal from us?

WALLENSTEIN. The Chancellor has chosen his man well. He370

Could not have sent us someone more resistant.


Come up with something better, Gustav Wrangel.

No more of Prague.

WRANGEL. My brief ends here.

WALLENSTEIN. I should cede you my capital? I’d go

Back to my Kaiser sooner.

WRANGEL. If there’s time.

WALLENSTEIN. That’s up to me, still is, and always will be.

WRANGEL. It may have been a day or two ago.

No longer now. Not since Sesin’s been caught.

(Following Wallenstein’s startled silence.)

My Lord, we gladly believe you are in earnest;

Since yesterday we’re sure of it. Now that380

This sheet assures us of the troops, there’s nothing

Impedes our reaching trust and understanding.

Let us not quarrel over Prague. My Chancellor

Contents himself with the Old City. You

Shall have the Radschin and the Small Side.190 Eger,

Importantly, must be thrown open to us,

If we are to arrive at an agreement.

WALLENSTEIN. I’m to trust you, and not you me? So be it.

I’ll give your offer due consideration.

WRANGEL. No all too long one, I would ask of you.390

Our talks drag on into a second year now;

If they again reach no result, the Chancellor

Intends to think of them as broken off.

WALLENSTEIN. You press me hard. Yet such a step requires


WRANGEL. Sooner than one thinks, my Lord!

If it’s to work, it must be taken swiftly. (Exit.)

Scene Six

Wallenstein. Terzky and Illo return.

ILLO. It’s done?

TERZKY. You’ve reached agreement?

ILLO. Our good Swede

Left quite content. So you’ve reached an agreement.

WALLENSTEIN. Listen! Nothing has happened yet. And thinking

It over—I don’t want to do it.400


WALLENSTEIN. We should live at the mercy of these Swedes?

Endure their arrogance? I couldn’t stand it.

ILLO. Are you some refugee who begs for help?

You bring them more than you receive from them.

WALLENSTEIN. And what about that Bourbon of the blood

Who sold himself to his king’s enemy,

Lifted his arm against his fatherland?191

They made him a marked man, and men’s revulsion

Avenged a deed so wicked, so unnatural.

ILLO. Is that your case?410

WALLENSTEIN. Good faith, I tell you, is

For every man as if his next of kin.

He feels himself put here as its avenger.

Sectarian enmity and partisan rage,

Old envies, jealousies conclude a truce;

All things that wrestle to destroy each other

Enter a pact, make terms, to chase away

The common enemy of mankind, the wild beast

That murderously invades the huddled pack

In which man lives in safety. His own wits,

We know, cannot protect him altogether.420

His eyes are set by Nature in his forehead;

Good faith protects his back, where he’s exposed.

TERZKY. Do not think yourself worse than does the foe

Who offers you his hand to do the deed.

That Karl was hardly tender-hearted, that

Ancestral uncle to this Kaiser’s house.192

He took that Bourbon up with open arms.

The world is ruled by seizing what is useful.

Scene Seven

Countess Terzky joins the others.

WALLENSTEIN. Who sent for you? There’s nothing here for women.

COUNTESS. I’ve come to offer my congratulations. 430

Am I too soon? I certainly hope not.

WALLENSTEIN. Use your prestige here, Terzky. Make her go.

COUNTESS. And I once gave a king to rule Bohemia!193

WALLENSTEIN. He looked like it.

COUNTESS (to the others) Now, what’s the matter? Speak!

TERZKY. The Duke’s not willing.

COUNTESS. Won’t do what he has to?

ILLO. It’s your turn now. You try it. I have no

Reply to talk of good faith, conscience, such like.

COUNTESS. Look!194 When it all lay in the distance, when

You saw the path stretch endlessly before you,

There you had courage and decision. Now,440

When from this dream should come reality,

Completion is at hand, success assured,

Here you begin to hesitate, you balk?

Brave only in projections, timid in deeds?

Well, fine! Why not concede your enemies

Are right: What else do they expect of you?

They believe your resolution; be assured:

That they’d bear witness to with sign and seal.

But no one believes a deed is possible,

Or they’d respect you, live in fear of you.450

How can this be? Now that you’ve gone so far,

Now that the worst is known, now that the deed

Is totted up as done and charged to you,

You would pull back and forfeit the result?

Intended merely, it’s a common crime;

Accomplished, it’s a deathless undertaking.

If it succeeds, it’ll be forgiven, too,

For all result is sealed by God’s own verdict.

CHAMBERLAIN (entering). The Colonel Piccolomini.195

COUNTESS (quickly). Must wait.

WALLENSTEIN. I cannot see him now. Another time.460

CHAMBERLAIN. He asks for a few moments only, says

He comes on urgent matters—

WALLENSTEIN. Who knows what it may be. I want to hear it.

COUNTESS (laughing). To him it may seem urgent. You can wait.

WALLENSTEIN. What is it?

COUNTESS. Oh, you’ll find out soon enough.196

Think now instead how you’ll make Wrangel ready.

(Exit Chamberlain.)

WALLENSTEIN. If there were still a choice—If some way out

Less drastic could be found—That’s still what I

Would choose, in order to avoid the worst.

COUNTESS. If that is all you want, you’ll find that way right470

In front of you. Just send this Wrangel home.

Forget your cherished hopes and throw away

The life that’s past; resolve yourself and start

A new one. Even virtue has its vaunted

Heroes, no less that fame and fortune do.

You’ll leave then for Vienna and the Kaiser,

Take a full cash box, and declare it was

Your wish to test the good faith of his servants

Merely, to get the better of this Swede.

ILLO. Too late for that as well. They know too much.480

He’d only put his head down on the block.

COUNTESS. That I don’t fear. They lack the proofs to try him,

And they refrain from outright use of force.

No. They’ll be pleased to let their duke withdraw.

I see it now. The King of Hungary

Appears. It’s obvious the Duke must go,

There needn’t even be a public statement.

The king proceeds to have his troops sworn in,

And everything remains in perfect order.

A morning comes that finds the Duke departed.490

His many castles spring to life again,

Where he’ll devote himself to hunting, farming,

Breeding fine horses. He’ll set up his court,

Distribute golden keys, and keep a lavish

Table. Put briefly, he’ll be a great king—

On a small scale. He’ll prudently content

Himself with counting little, meaning less, and

They’ll let him seem what he would want to seem.

He’ll seem a great prince to the bitter end.

See there! The Duke is one of those new men500

The war’s raised up, the tousled creature of a

Court favor that, with uniform display,

Creates both squires and princes.

WALLENSTEIN (getting to his feet, very aroused).

Show me a way out of this impasse, helpful

Powers, a way that I can travel, I

Who am no champion with words, can’t prattle

Virtue or warm myself on thinking, willing,

Can’t grandly say to Fortune, turning her

Back on me: Go! Who needs you? Show a way!

If I’m stripped of effectiveness, I’m lost.510

I’ll shy back from no sacrifice, no danger

In order to avoid this last extreme. But

Before I sink down into nothingness,

Or end so small, I who began so great,

Before the world confuses me with wretches

Whom but a single day makes and destroys,

Sooner the world and afterworld should speak

My name with loathing, sooner Friedland be

A code for every crime.

COUNTESS. What’s so unnatural in all this? It’s lost520

On me. Just tell me what it is. Do not

Let superstition’s spirits of the night

Be master of your bright intelligence!

High treason is the charge against you, if

With reason or without is not the question.

You’re lost if you don’t make quick use of power

You have at your command. Just show me a

Creation so pacific it will not

Defend its life with all its living strength!

And what is so extravagant that it530

Cannot be justified as self-defense?

WALLENSTEIN. This Ferdinand once treated me so kindly;

He loved me, valued me; I was the one

Who stood the closest to his heart. What prince

Did he esteem like me? That it should end so!

COUNTESS. That’s how you cherish every little favor

And have no memory for the affront?

Must I remind you how you were rewarded

At Regensburg for all your loyal service?

You had offended all the realm’s estates;197540

To magnify him you had taken on your

Shoulders the hate, ill will of all the world:

In Germany entire you had no friend,

Because you’d only lived to serve your Kaiser.

You cleaved to him, none other, in the storm

That gathered over you at Regensburg—and

He let you fall! He let you fall! Let you

Fall, sacrificed to that presumptuous

Bavarian! Don’t tell me recovered rank198

Redeems that first and grave injustice. It was550

No genuine good will put you in office.

The law of bitter need—that put you in

This place that they’d have happily refused you.

WALLENSTEIN. That’s true! It’s not to their good will or to

His fondness that I owe this office. And

If I abuse it, I abuse no trust.

COUNTESS. Trust? Fondness? They had need of you! Had need!

That rude extortionist, pure Need, who’s not

Content with empty names, mere figurants; who

Demands real deeds, not gestures; calls upon560

The greatest and the best of men and puts

Him at the tiller—even when she has

To find her man among the rabble—she

Put you in office, composed your appointment.

For that house199 will resort to slavish men, the

Stringed puppets of their arts, for as long as

They can hold out. But when the worst nears, when

Appearances no longer work, they lapse

Into the hands of that strong nature and

Of that great mind that only heeds itself,570

Is bound by no contract and treats with them

On its own terms and never once on theirs.

WALLENSTEIN. It’s true! They always saw me as I am,

I did not deceive them in this bargain, never

Did think it worth the trouble to conceal

From them my bold, expansive turn of mind.

COUNTESS. Rather, you’ve always shown yourself as terrible.

You’re not at fault; you’ve always been consistent;

It’s they who’re wrong: they stood in fear of you

And still they vested power in your hands.580

For every particular character is in

The right that is consistent with itself;

There is no wrong except a contradiction.

Why, were you someone else eight years ago,

Marching through Germany with fire and steel?200

You wielded your whip over every district,

Scorned every ordinance throughout the Empire,

Asserted power’s fearsome privilege,

Trod on the sovereignty of every land

To spread your sultan’s mastery far and wide.590

That was the moment to break your proud will,

Call you to order! But the Kaiser was

Well pleased with what was useful to him and

Stamped silently the Empire’s seal on crimes.

What then was just because you’d done it for him

Today’s anathema because it’s aimed against him?

WALLENSTEIN (getting to his feet).

I never saw it from this angle. Yes,

That’s how it is. This Kaiser used my arm

For deeds that never should have been, by rights.

The very prince’s mantle that I wear600

I owe to actions nothing short of crimes.

COUNTESS. Admit then that between you and the Kaiser

There is no room for talk of right and duty,

But power only, opportunity!

The moment has arrived for you to draw

The sum on the account you’ve made of life.

The signs above you augur victory,

The planets signal you good fortune, call

To you and say: It’s time now.201 Have you spent

Your life in measuring the stars’ trajectory610

To no good purpose? Have you handled, too,

The quadrant and the compass, represented

The zodiac and vault of heaven on these walls,

Surrounded yourself with the silent and

Portentous figures of Fate’s seven rulers,

Only to make of these a pointless game?

Does all this armament amount to nothing?

Is there no substance to this idle art,

So that it has no meaning for you? No force

Over you at this moment of decision?620

WALLENSTEIN (who has walked up and down, reacting to this speech, now suddenly stands still and interrupts the Countess).

Summon that Wrangel to me. Have three couriers

Saddle up right away.202

ILLO. Well, God be praised! (Hurries out.)

WALLENSTEIN. It is his203 evil genius and mine. His

He punishes through me, tool of his tyranny,

And I expect the steel of vengeance has

Been sharpened meanwhile also for my breast.

Oh, who sows dragon’s teeth should have no hope

Of reaping pleasure.204 Every wrongful action

Is pregnant with its rightful retribution.

He cannot trust me anymore. That means630

I can’t retreat. Let happen then what must.

The last word always belongs to destiny

Because our heart’s its executioner.

(To Terzky.)

Bring Wrangel to me in my private study;

The couriers I’ll dispatch myself; send for


(To the Countess, who is triumphant.)

Mind you don’t laugh too soon!

For Destiny is chary of her might.

To laugh too soon intrudes upon her rights.

We merely put the seed stock in her hand.

What sprouts—if good, if bad—tells in the end.640

(The Curtain falls as he goes off.)

Act Two

A Room.

Scene One

Wallenstein. Octavio Piccolomini. Then Max Piccolomini.

WALLENSTEIN. He sends me word from Linz that he lies sick,205

Yet I have sure report that he is hiding

At Frauenberg in company of Gallas.

Arrest them both and send them here to me.

Take charge of all the Spanish regiments,206

Make endless preparation, never finish;

If they prevail on you to march against me,

Say yes and make no move to leave the spot.

I know that you are well served with these orders

To stand aside, take no part in this game;650

You save appearances as long as you can,

For extreme measures never were your way.

That’s why I’ve singled out this role for you;

By doing nothing you will serve me best

This time. If fortune favors me meanwhile

In this endeavor, you know what to do.207

(Max Piccolomini enters.)

Go now, Old Man.208 You’ll have to leave tonight.

Take my own horses. This one here I’ll keep

With me. Be quick in taking leave of one

Another! We shall meet again, I’m sure,660

Successful and content.

OCTAVIO (to his son). We’ll speak today yet. (Exit.)

Scene Two

Wallenstein. Max Piccolomini.

MAX (approaches him).

My General—

WALLENSTEIN. That I am no longer if

You call yourself the Kaiser’s officer.

MAX. So it’s decided: You will leave the army?

WALLENSTEIN. I’ve given up my service to the Kaiser.

MAX. And want to leave the army?

WALLENSTEIN. I hope rather

To bind it closer and more tightly to me.

(He sits down.)

Well, Max. I did not want to tell you this

Before the hour for action had arrived.

Youth’s favored senses like to seize upon670

What’s right, take pleasure in applying and

In testing their own judgment there where the

Example lends itself to clear solution.

But when between two evils one must be

Chosen, where the heart cannot pull back whole

From a clash of conflicting duties, there

It is a boon to find one has no choice,

A gift to have to face necessity.209

That’s now the case. Therefore do not look back.

That cannot help you anymore. Look forward!680

Withhold all judgment and prepare to act.

Vienna has determined my destruction,

And my response is to anticipate them.

So we shall seek alliance with the Swedes.

They’re worthy fellows and will be good friends.

(He pauses, expecting Piccolomini’s response.)

I take you by surprise. You needn’t answer.

I’ll give you time to gather a response.

(He stands up and moves to the back. Max long stands motionless, in great pain; at a gesture from him, Wallenstein comes forward and stands before him.)

MAX. My General, you’ve forced me to grow up.

Until today I had no need to find

My path myself or choose my own direction.690

I followed you. I only had to look

To you and know for certain the right way.

Now for the first time you return me to

Myself, and I am forced to make a choice

Between you and the promptings of my heart.

WALLENSTEIN. Until today your fortunes rocked you gently;

You could perform your duties like a child,

Satisfy every seemly urging and

Do everything with undivided heart.

It can no longer stay that way. The paths700

Diverge like foes, and duty fights with duty.

You are obliged to take sides in the war

Between your Kaiser and your friend that flares

Up now before you.

MAX. War! Is that the right word?

A war’s a dreadful thing, like plagues of Heaven.

And it is good, a godsend, just like plagues.

Is this a good war you’re preparing for

The Kaiser with the Kaiser’s self-same army?

Oh, God in heaven! What a change this is!

Is it becoming that I use such language710

With you, who shone before me like the fixed

Star of the pole and gave me my life’s compass?

Oh, what a tear you’re ripping through my heart!

Should I learn to deny your name my old

Accustomed practices of veneration,

My sacred habits of obedience?

Oh, no. No, no. Do not turn your face toward me.

For me it was the countenance of a god

And will not soon lose power over me.

My senses still remain in fealty to you, 720

For all my bleeding soul’s leap into freedom.

WALLENSTEIN. Max, listen to me.

MAX. Do not do it! Do not!

Just look! Your pure and noble features know

Nothing of anything so direful yet.

Only your fantasy has it besmirched;

Your innocence refuses to be driven

Out of your radiant noble figure. Oh,

Expel this blotch instead, this enemy.

And then it will be only a bad dream,

The kind that cautions virtue. All mankind730

May have experienced such moments, but

Right feeling must prevail, both now and after.

No, you’ll not end so. That would blacken among

Men everything that’s grand by nature, every

Capacity that’s powerful; it would

Endorse the common foolishness that does

Not believe nobility inheres in freedom

And gives itself to incapacity.210

WALLENSTEIN. The world will judge me harshly; I expect that.

I’ve told myself already what you say.740

For who would not avoid the worst if he

But could. Here, though, one’s given little choice:

If I do not use force, I suffer it.

That’s how it is. I’ve no alternative.

MAX. Then fine! Enforce your will, and even while

You keep your post, oppose the Kaiser; if

It must be, go as far as frank rebellion;

I do not like it, but I can forgive you,

Will share with you what I cannot approve.

But don’t become a traitor! Now I’ve said750

The word. Do not become a traitor! That’s

Not excess, not transgression by high courage.

Oh, that is something else—pure blackness, black as

The depths of Hell.

WALLENSTEIN (frowning darkly but restrained).

Young, one is quick to seize upon a word

As hard to wield as is a whetted blade;

Hot-headed, one is quick to take the measure

Of things that must be judged on their own terms;

And quick to call things shameful or deserving

And bad or good. And what imagining 760

Fantastically imports in these dark names one

Imposes on things themselves and on their essence.

The world is narrow and the mind is wide,

Our thoughts lie easy next to one another,

But things will jostle in the space allotted;

Where one claims room the other has to yield,

One who would not be driven out must drive out.

For all is struggle and the strong prevail.

The man who goes through life without desire, who

Can give up every purpose—such a one770

Lives with the salamander in pure fire,

Stays spotless in a spotless element.

But Nature has made me of cruder stuff,

And my desires all draw me toward the Earth.

The Earth pertains to the bad spirit, not to

The good. The gods above send down to us

But common goods; their light brings happiness,

But it makes no man rich, and under their

Regime no treasure is to be attained.

The precious stone, gold valued over all things780

Are wrested from deceitful powers that live

Disgracefully below the reach of light.

Not without cost are they propitiated,

And no man lives who has withdrawn his soul

Unblemished from their service.211

MAX (with meaning). Fear these powers!

They never keep their word. They’re liars that

Will charm you, draw you to perdition. Do

Not trust them. You are warned! Return to duty.

You can, be sure of it. Just send me to

Vienna. That’s the way! Let me make your790

Peace with the Kaiser. He does not know you.

But I know you, and he should see you with

My eyes. I’ll bring you back his trust in you.

WALLENSTEIN. It is too late. You do not know what’s happened.

MAX. And if it is too late, advanced so far

That only a transgression saves you,

Then fall. Fall worthily, just as you stood.

Lose your command. Pass from the stage. You can,

With brilliance. Do so, too, with innocence.

You’ve lived for others this long time, live for800

Yourself at last. I’ll go together with you

And never separate my fate from yours—

WALLENSTEIN. It is too late. For even as we speak,

My runners lay back milestone after milestone,

Carrying my orders out to Prague and Eger.

Consent! We take the action that we must.

Let us then do the necessary thing

With resolution, dignity. Is my

Deed worse than Caesar’s, celebrated still?

He led his legions against Rome, entrusted810

To his protection. Had he not, he’d have

Been lost, as I would be if I disarmed.

I am aware of something of his spirit.

Give me his luck; the rest I’ll answer for.212

(Max, who has shown signs of a painful struggle, quickly leaves the scene. Wallenstein looks after him, startled and surprised, then stands deep in thought.)

Scene Three

Wallenstein. Terzky. Then Illo.

TERZKY. Max Piccolomini has just gone out?

WALLENSTEIN. Where’s Wrangel?

TERZKY. Poof! Vanished.

WALLENSTEIN. In such a hurry?

TERZKY. It was as if the earth had swallowed him.

He’d just left you when I went after him.

I had to speak with him—and he was gone;

No one could tell me anything about him;820

I think he was the Dark One in the flesh:

No man can vanish from the earth that way.

ILLO (entering). It’s true? It’s the Old Man you want to send?

TERZKY. Octavio? Him? Whatever are you thinking?

WALLENSTEIN. He’s going to go to Frauenberg, assume

The Spanish and the Latin regiments.

TERZKY. What? God forbid that you do such a thing!

ILLO. Entrust that traitor with a fighting force?

Let him out of your sight at such a moment,

When everything is hanging in the balance?830

TERZKY. That you’ll not do; no, not for anything!

WALLENSTEIN. A curious bunch you are.

ILLO. Oh, just this once!

Yield to our warning. Do not let him go.

WALLENSTEIN. And why should I not trust him this one time,

Him whom I’ve always trusted? What has happened

To cost him my esteem, my good opinion?

Your notions, not my own, should give me cause

To alter my old proven judgment of him?

Don’t take me for a woman. Trusting him

Until today, today I’ll trust him still.840

TERZKY. Must it be him? Can’t you send someone else?

WALLENSTEIN. He is the one, the one whom I’ve selected.

He’s right for this. That’s why I chose him for it.

ILLO. Oh, he’s a Latin—that’s why he’s so right.

WALLENSTEIN. I know it well: you’ve never liked those two.

Since I respect them, love them, and prefer them

To you and others, visibly, as they

Deserve, they are for all of you a thorn in

The side. Your envy—what concern is it

To me and my affairs? Your hating them850

Does not diminish them in my eyes. You

May love and hate each other as you choose;

I leave to you your sense of things and preference.

As if I didn’t know what each man’s worth!

ILLO. He’ll not set out, and if I have to smash

The wheels on his—

WALLENSTEIN. Contain yourself, Illo!

TERZKY. That Questenberg, when he was here in camp—

The two of them were huddled the whole time.

WALLENSTEIN. It was with my permission and my knowledge.

TERZKY. That messengers from Gallas come to him860

In secret—that, too, I know.

WALLENSTEIN. That is not true.

ILLO. Oh, you are blind beneath the midday sun!

WALLENSTEIN. And you’ll not shake my articles of faith.

They’re based on deepest science, and if they

Are lies, the science of the stars is lies.

But you should know: I have a pledge from fate

Itself that he’s the truest of my friends.

ILLO. Have you a pledge that this pledge isn’t lying?

WALLENSTEIN. The lives of men are marked by moments when one

Is nearer the world spirit than is usual 870

And gets to put a question to one’s fate.

Just such a moment was it in the night

Before our Lützen action, as I, braced

Against a tree, gazed out across the plain.213

I saw the campfires burning darkly through

The fog. The muffled thunder of our weapons,

The measured calling of the watches as

They made their rounds, alone broke up the stillness.

Before my inner eye my life, both past

And future, unrolled in this moment and880

My spirit, full of premonition, fastened

The furthest reaches of the future to

The unknown outcome of the next day’s action.

And I said to myself: “So many do you

Command. They follow after your stars, risk, as

On a high number, all they have on your head,

Have gone with you on board your ship of fortune.

One day their destiny will scatter them

And few will loyally remain with you.

I’d like to know the one who’s truest to me 890

Of all the men this camp holds in its confines.

Give me a sign, you Fates, and let it be

The one who comes tomorrow first to me

And brings me living proof of his devotion.”

When I had thought these things I fell asleep.

My dream took me into the thick of battle.

Pressed on all sides, I felt my horse

Fall stricken; over me indifferently all

My cavalry passed, and I lay panting, near

Death, trampled by the hooves of my own horsemen.900

I felt myself supported suddenly

By a strong arm, Octavio’s, and I

Awoke. It was bright day. Octavio stood

Before me. “Brother,” he said, “Do not mount

The piebald, not today. I’ve chosen for you

A surer animal. Do it for love

Of me. For I’ve had warning in a dream.”

The swiftness of this animal snatched me

Away from the pursuit of Banner’s dragoons.214

My cousin rode the piebald on that morning,910

And horse and rider vanished with no trace.

ILLO. Pure accident.

WALLENSTEIN (with meaning). There is no accident.215

What seems to us a blind fortuity

Rises precisely out of deepest sources.

I have it, signed, sealed, and delivered, he

Is my good angel. Not another word!

(He starts away.)

TERZKY. At least we get to keep that Max as hostage.

ILLO. And I’ll not let him leave here with his life.

WALLENSTEIN (stops and turns back).

If you aren’t like those women who return

Forever to their first opinion, even920

When one has reasoned with them endlessly!

Look! Human thoughts and deeds are not a force

Like random waves upon a surging sea.

Man’s microcosm, inner world’s the source216

From which they rise and flow eternally.

They are compelled, as is the pear tree’s pear,

And shifting chance can never change their breed.

When I’ve once seen a man’s dark depths laid bare,

I can divine his wishes and his deed.217


Scene Four

A Room in Piccolomini’s quarters.

Octavio Piccolomini, ready for departure. An Adjutant.

OCTAVIO. Is the detachment ready?930

ADJUTANT. Waiting below.

OCTAVIO. Trustworthy men, all of them, Adjutant?

Which is the regiment you took them from?

ADJUTANT. From Tiefenbach.

OCTAVIO. That regiment is loyal.218

Have them stand quietly in the rear courtyard,

Attract no notice, till you hear a bell.

The house is to be closed then, sharply guarded,

And anyone encountered here locked up.

(Exit Adjutant.)

I hope there’ll be no need for such precautions,

For I am confident of my assessment.

But this is Kaiser’s service, much at risk,940

And better too great measures than too few.

Scene Five

Octavio Piccolomini. Isolani enters.

ISOLANI. Well, here I am. Who else is still to come?219

OCTAVIO (conspiratorial).

But first a word with you, Count Isolan.

ISOLANI (conspiratorial).

It’s happening? The Prince will go ahead?

Just trust me, General. Put me to the test.

OCTAVIO. That could yet happen.

ISOLANI. Brother, I’m not of

The sort that’s bold with words, until it comes

To doing deeds, and then heads for the hills.

The Duke has been more than a friend to me,

God knows he has! I owe him everything,220950

And he can bank on my help.

OCTAVIO. We shall see.

ISOLANI. Watch out, though. It’s not everybody thinks so.

There’re many here who still hold with the Court.

They think the signatures from recently,

The filched ones, can’t bind them to anything.

OCTAVIO. Indeed? Name me the lords who think that way.

ISOLANI. Well, hang them! That’s how all the Germans talk,

And Esterhazy, Kaunitz, Deodat

Now say we owe obedience to the Court.

OCTAVIO. That’s satisfying.960

ISOLANI. Satisfying?


The Kaiser still has such good friends, true servants.

ISOLANI. Don’t laugh. These men are not to be despised.

OCTAVIO. Precisely. God forbid that I should laugh!

It satisfies me seriously to see

Our good cause still so strong.

ISOLANI. What’s this? You’re not—

Then what the devil am I doing here?

OCTAVIO (with authority).

You are here to declare yourself quite plainly:

Would you be called the Kaiser’s friend or foe?

ISOLANI (defiant).

On that point I’ll declare myself alone

To one to whom an explanation’s owed.970

OCTAVIO. This sheet should tell you if it’s owed to me.

ISOLANI. What’s this? The Kaiser’s hand? The Imperial seal?

(Reads.) “That all the captains of Our Armies shall

Consider orders of Our loyal, much loved

Lieutenant General Piccolomini

As properly Our own.” Ha-hum! Well, so—I—

Lieutenant General, my congratulations.

OCTAVIO. Do you submit to orders?

ISOLANI. I, well—I—

But you’ve surprised me, and so suddenly—

You’ll grant me time to think, I hope—980

OCTAVIO. Two minutes.

ISOLANI. My God! The matter is—

OCTAVIO. Quite clear. Quite simple.

You should declare if you choose to betray

Your master or to serve him loyally.

ISOLANI. Betray? My God—Whoever said betray?

OCTAVIO. That is before us here. The Prince is traitor,

Would lead the army over to the foe.

Declare yourself. Would you forswear the Kaiser?

And sell out to the enemy? Would you?

ISOLANI. What do you mean? The Kaiser’s Majesty—

Forswear it? I said that? Whenever did990

I say—

OCTAVIO. You haven’t said it yet. Not yet.

I’m waiting now to see if you will say it.

ISOLANI. Well, now. It’s a great kindness that, yourself,

You vouch that I’ve not said a thing like that.

OCTAVIO. And therefore you repudiate the Prince?

ISOLANI. Well, plotting treason—Treason cuts all ties.

OCTAVIO. And you’ll take up the Kaiser’s cause against him?

ISOLANI. He did me a good turn. If he’s a rogue, though—

May God damn him—then our account is cancelled.

OCTAVIO. You’ve chosen wisely and that pleases me.1000

Tonight you’re to break camp in deepest silence

With all light troops; and it must seem as if

Your orders come down from the Duke himself.

Our mustering ground is Frauenberg. Lead your

Men there. Your further orders come from Gallas.

ISOLANI. So it shall be. Remember it of me,

Too, with the Kaiser—how you found me willing.

OCTAVIO. I’ll praise you well.

(Exit Isolani. A Servant enters.)

It’s Colonel Buttler? Good.

ISOLANI (reappearing).

And do forgive my blundering ways, Old Man.

My God! How could I know who it was, what grand1010

Person I had before me!

OCTAVIO. It’s all right.

ISOLANI. Jolly old fool is what I am and if

A hasty word has slipped across my courtyard

And out the gate, warmed by the wine, was not

To give offense, you know. (Turns to leave.)

OCTAVIO. Don’t be concerned,

Give it no second thought.—Well, then! That worked!

Good Fortune, favor us so with the others!

Scene Six

Octavio Piccolomini. Buttler.

BUTTLER. I am at your disposal, Lieutenant General.

OCTAVIO. I welcome you as worthy guest and friend.

BUTTLER. You do me too much honor.1020

(They both sit down.)

OCTAVIO. You, I’m afraid, did not return the interest

I showed when I approached you yesterday,

But took it for an empty compliment.221

My wish was genuine. I was in earnest

With you. For we’re embarked on times in which

Good men must bind themselves to one another.

BUTTLER. That’s only done by men who think alike.

OCTAVIO. I’d say that all the good ones think alike.

Dealing with others, I account alone

The deed to which one’s character drives one,1030

Since blind misunderstanding often leads

The best of men to wander off the track.

You came by way of Frauenberg. Count Gal-

Las told you nothing there in confidence?

This you may tell me. He and I are friends.

BUTTLER. He spoke of nothing but indifferent things.222

OCTAVIO. A pity, for he had good counsel. I’d

Have something similar to offer you.

BUTTLER. Do spare yourself the trouble, me the shame

To have deserved your good opinion badly.1040

OCTAVIO. Our time is precious. We’ll speak plainly.

You know how matters stand here: that the Duke

Is contemplating treason. I can say more.

The step is taken. With the enemy

He has just reached agreement, and his couriers

Gallop toward Prague and Eger this very moment.

Tomorrow he would lead us to the foe.

But he deceives himself. Sharp eyes keep watch.

We’ve loyal friends of Ferdinand in camp here,

And their invisible alliance prospers.1050

This manifest declares him under ban and

Releases all his force from sworn obedience;

It calls upon right-thinking men to come

Together and accept my generalcy.

Now choose. Would you have part in our good cause?

Or share with him the bad lot of bad men?

BUTTLER (getting to his feet).

His lot is mine.

OCTAVIO. That’s your last word?


OCTAVIO. Consider carefully, Colonel Buttler. There’s

Still time. Your hasty word remains unheard.

Retract. And choose the better part. You’ve not.1060

BUTTLER. You’ve further orders for me, Lieutenant General?

OCTAVIO. Consider your white hair and take it back.

BUTTLER. Farewell!

OCTAVIO. What? You would draw your valiant sword

In such a cause? Would transform into hate

Your thanks for forty years of serving Austria?

BUTTLER (laughing bitterly).

Great thanks from Austria!

(About to go.)

OCTAVIO (lets him reach the door, then calls).


BUTTLER. At your service.

OCTAVIO. How was it with the count?

BUTTLER. The count? What’s this?

OCTAVIO. Count’s title, I would say—

BUTTLER (a burst of rage). Death and damnation!

OCTAVIO (coldly). I know that you petitioned, were refused.

BUTTLER. You’ll not humiliate me unpunished. Draw!1070

OCTAVIO. Put up. And tell me how it happened. I’ll not

Deny you satisfaction when you’ve spoken.

BUTTLER. May all the world have knowledge of my weakness,

That which I never can forgive myself!

Oh, yes, Lieutenant General, I’m ambitious;

The least contempt I never could abide.

It rankled me that birth and title counted

For more in this man’s army than desert. One

Should not think less of me than of my peers.

I let myself be led at a bad moment1080

To take a step as foolish as was this,

But I did not deserve to pay so dearly!

Deny me, fine! But why combine refusal

With an expression contempt? Why strike

The old man down, the proven loyal servant,

With laughter cite to him his humble birth,

Alone because he had forgot himself!

But Nature gave this snake a sting that they,

Too full of their despotic games, will tread on.

OCTAVIO. So you were slandered. Have you any notion1090

Who did you such an underhanded service?

BUTTLER. Whoever: It would have to be a sneak,

A courtier, or a Spaniard, or the scion

Of some old house, someone whose light I stand in,

An envious rascal who resents my rising

By my own worth, the rank that I’ve attained.

OCTAVIO. The Duke—did he approve this step you took?

BUTTLER. Oh, he’s the one encouraged me, made efforts

In my behalf and showed himself a friend.

OCTAVIO. Of that you are quite sure?1100

BUTTLER. I read the letter.

OCTAVIO (with meaning).

I, too. But what I read was not the same.

(Buttler reacts sharply.)

By chance, I have possession of that letter.223

You may persuade yourself with your own eyes.

(Gives him the letter.)

BUTTLER. Ho! What is this?

OCTAVIO. I must fear, Colonel Buttler,

That you’ve been trifled with disgracefully.

The Duke, you say, encouraged you to act?

His letter speaks of you dismissively.

And he proposes that the minister

Should discipline what he calls your conceit.

(Buttler has read the letter. His knees buckle and he reaches for a chair, where he sits down.)

No enemy pursues you, means you harm.1110

Ascribe the insult done you to the Duke

Alone. His purpose is quite clear: He would

Divide you from your Kaiser. Your revenge

Was to assure him what your loyalty,

Preserved and true, denied him, on reflection.

As a blind tool he hoped contemptuously to

Use you, as means to his base purposes.

He gained that goal. Too easily he lured

You from the path you’d traveled forty years.

BUTTLER (his voice shaking).

His Majesty the Kaiser—can he forgive me?1120

OCTAVIO. He can do more. He heals the insult done

A worthy man through no fault of his own.

He graciously confirms the gift the Duke

Made you for his own evil purposes:

The regiment you lead is yours.224

BUTTLER (tries to get up, sinks back. In high emotion he tries to speak and fails. Finally he removes his sword and offers it to Piccolomini).

OCTAVIO. What’s this?

Compose yourself.

BUTTLER. Accept!

OCTAVIO. But why? Consider.

BUTTLER. Take it. I am not worthy of this sword.

OCTAVIO. Receive it back again now from my hand

And carry it, in honor, for what’s just.

BUTTLER. I broke my troth with such a gracious Kaiser!1130

OCTAVIO. Now make it good. Be quick to leave the Duke.

BUTTLER. To leave him!

OCTAVIO. How’s this? You’ve bethought yourself?

BUTTLER (erupting).

I’d merely leave him? Oh, he shall not live!225

OCTAVIO. Come after me to Frauenberg. The faithful

Are gathering there with Altringer and Gallas.

There’re many others I’ve returned to loyal

Service; tonight they’re fleeing out of Pilsen.

BUTTLER (who has walked up and down in agitation, now stands before

Octavio with an air of decision).

Count Piccolomini! May one speak now

Of honor, having broken troth with you?

OCTAVIO. One may, when one regrets it so sincerely.1140

BUTTLER. Then leave me here on word of honor.


Your purpose?

BUTTLER. Leave me with my regiment.

OCTAVIO. You’re to be trusted. But tell me what you’re hatching.

BUTTLER. The deed will show. Now question me no further.

Trust me. You can. You’ll not be leaving him,

By God, here with his guardian angel! Farewell! (Exit.)226

SERVANT (bringing a note).

A stranger brought it, didn’t want to stay.

The Prince’s horses wait for you below. (Exit.)

OCTAVIO (reading).

“Be on your way. Your faithful Isolan.”

If I but had this city now behind me!1150

So close to port, and we should see our ship wrecked?

Away! Away! There is no safety here

For me, not any more. But where’s my son?

Scene Seven

Both Piccolomini.

MAX (enters in great agitation, wide-eyed, walking unsteadily. He seems not

to see his father, who stops at a distance and observes him compassionately.

He crosses the room with long strides, comes to a halt, and throws himself

into a chair, staring straight ahead).

OCTAVIO (approaching him).

Son, I’m about to leave.

(Having received no answer, he takes Max by the hand.)

Farewell, my boy.

MAX. Farewell!

OCTAVIO. You’ll follow after?

MAX (not looking at him). Follow you?

Yours is a crooked way. That’s not my way.

(Octavio releases his hand and steps back.)

If only you’d been straight and true! Then it

Had never reached this point; it would be different!

Never would he have done this dreadful thing,

Good men around him would have kept their influence;1160

He’d not have fallen into evil nets.

Oh, why such lurking, secretiveness, why

The treachery—like a thief, a band of thieves!

Unholy falseness! Mother of all evil!

Inflicting wretchedness, our ruination!

Pure truthfulness, preserving order, saving

It, would have saved us, too. Oh, Father, I

Cannot, cannot forgive you—I cannot.

The Duke deceived me horribly, betrayed

My hopes. And you have hardly done me better.1170

OCTAVIO. My boy, I understand your pain, forgive you.

MAX (gets to his feet, regards him uncertainly).

It’s possible? That—Father? Father? You’d

Have taken it so far deliberately?

You rise by virtue of his fall. Octavio,

That I cannot call good.

OCTAVIO. Why, God in heaven!

MAX. The worst of it is I have changed my nature.

How could suspicion enter my free soul?

My trust, my belief, my hope—I’ve lost it all,

Since everything I valued lied to me.

But no. Not everything. She’s there for me,1180

And she’s as pure and true as is the day.

Deception’s everywhere, hypocrisy,

Murder, betrayal, poison, perjury!

The one clean place is our love for each other,

Unsullied among all humanity.

OCTAVIO. Come after me, Max. That’s the better course.

MAX. Before I’ve taken leave of her, last leave?

Oh, not in life!

OCTAVIO. But you should spare yourself

The pain of parting, necessary parting.

Come with me, Son. Just come.1190

(Draws him along.)

MAX. Not for the world!

OCTAVIO (more urgent).

Come with me. It’s your father bids you come.

MAX. Bid me do what is human. I shall stay.

OCTAVIO. Max, in the Kaiser’s name I bid you follow.

MAX. No Kaiser has direction of the heart.

And would you rob me now of the one thing

That’s left me in my sorrow, her compassion?

What’s horrible must happen horribly?

That which cannot be changed should now be done

Disgracefully, by secret, craven flight?

No! She should see my suffering, see my pain,1200

Should hear my lacerated soul complain, and

Weep bitter tears for me. Oh, mankind is

Too cruel. She is like an angel. She’ll

Retrieve my soul from raging, wild despair,

Comfort my mortal pain with her lament.

OCTAVIO. So you’ll not tear yourself away, can’t do it.

Then come, my son, and save your better self!

MAX. Your words are useless; you are wasting them.

It is my heart I follow; that I can trust.

OCTAVIO (losing his composure).

Max! Max! If something terrible befalls me,1210

Should you—my son and my own blood—I dare

Not think it! If you should betray yourself

To infamy, should set this stigma on

Our noble house, the world shall see the un-

Imaginable and the father’s blood drip from

The son’s steel in a dreadful single combat.

MAX. Had you always thought better of all men,

You also would have taken better action.

Cursed suspicion! And calamitous doubt!

Nothing for it is firm and steady, cannot1220

Be nudged; where belief fails, everything’s in motion.

OCTAVIO. I trust your heart, but will you always find

It possible to follow what it urges?

MAX. You’ve gained no mastery of my heart’s desire,

The Duke will gain as little mastery of me.

OCTAVIO. Oh, Max, I’ll not see you come home again.

MAX. Unworthy of you you shall never see me.

OCTAVIO. I go to Frauenberg and leave for your

Protection here the Pappenheimer ranks,

Toscana, Lorraine, also Tiefenbach.1230

They love you and are loyal to their oath,

Would rather bravely fall in battle than

Betray their captain or their sacred honor.

MAX. Depend on it: I’ll lose my life in combat

Here or conduct them safely out of Pilsen.

OCTAVIO (setting out).

Farewell, my son.

MAX. Farewell!

OCTAVIO. How’s this? No glance

Exchanged? No loving handclasp here at parting?

It is a bloody war we’re entering,

Its outcome is obscure, unknown to us.

We never used to part in such a fashion.1240

Is it then true? I have a son no longer?

(Max falls into his arms; they clasp each other in a long silent embrace, then go off to different sides.)

Act Three227

Reception Room of the Duchess of Friedland

Scene One

Countess Terzky. Thekla. Lady Companion von Neubrunn. Thekla and Neubrunn engaged in fine needlework.

COUNTESS. There’s nothing you would ask me, Thekla? Nothing

At all? I’ve been expecting you to speak.

Tell me, can you endure to go so long

And never once pronounce his name? Have I

Perhaps become superfluous? Have you

Perhaps found other means than go through me?

A full confession, Niece: You’ve seen him? Have you?

THEKLA. I’ve not seen him today or yesterday.228

COUNTESS. Nor heard from him? Do not conceal from me.1250

THEKLA. Nothing at all.

COUNTESS. And are so calm?


COUNTESS. Excuse yourself, Neubrunn.

(The Lady Companion removes herself.)

Scene Two

Countess. Thekla.

COUNTESS. I do not like

His keeping silent, not at just this moment.

THEKLA. At just this moment?

COUNTESS. Now that he knows all.

Because it’s now he should declare himself.

THEKLA. If I’m to understand, you must speak clearly.

COUNTESS. With that intention I sent her away.

Thekla, you’re not a child. No more. Your heart

Has come of age, for you’re in love and love

Gives rise to courage, courage that you’ve shown.1260

Your father is the one whom you resemble

In spirit, not your mother. Therefore you

Can hear what she’s unable to endure.

THEKLA. I beg you, finish with this preparation.

Whatever it may be, out with it! More

Alarming than this prelude it cannot be.

What would you say to me? And make it brief.

COUNTESS. Just don’t be startled.

THEKLA. Name it, if you please.

COUNTESS. It’s in your power to do your father a

Great service—1270

THEKLA. In my power? What do you mean?

COUNTESS. Max Piccolomini loves you. You can

Attach him to your father lastingly.

THEKLA. Does that take me? Is he not bound already?


THEKLA. And why should he no longer be,

Not always be?

COUNTESS. He’s loyal to the Kaiser.

THEKLA. No more than duty, honor ask of him.

COUNTESS. Proofs of his love are being asked here, not

Proofs of his honor. Duty, honor—these

Are names with double meanings, many senses.

You should interpret them for him; his love1280

Is to define his honor for him.


COUNTESS. He must renounce his Kaiser or his love.

THEKLA. He’ll gladly go with Father into private

Life. You heard from himself how ardently

He longs to see all weapons laid aside.

COUNTESS. He’s not to lay aside his weapons; he’s

To draw them for your father.

THEKLA. Gladly he

Would give his blood, his very life for Father,

Should Father suffer any injury.

COUNTESS. You’ll not hear what I’m saying. Therefore, plainly:1290

Your father has forsook the Kaiser’s cause

And is about to join the enemy

Together with his army—

THEKLA. My poor mother!

COUNTESS. A grand example is required to turn

The army. Both the Piccolomini

Enjoy immense prestige among the troops;

They rule opinion, their deeds are decisive.

We have the father if we have the son.

You now see that much lies in your two hands.

THEKLA. Oh, my poor mother! What a fatal blow1300

Awaits you! Sure! She’ll not survive this thing.

COUNTESS. She’ll make arrangements with what has to be.

I know her. What’s still distant, lies far in

The future shakes her anxious heart. What’s present,

Cannot be changed, she bears with resolution.

THEKLA. Oh, my prophetic soul! It’s there now, that

Cold hand of horror, grasping after all

My hopes. The moment I came in this room,

A premonition said I stood beneath

Disastrous stars. But why think first of me?1310

Ah, Mother! Mother!

COUNTESS. Do compose yourself.

Such wailing cannot help. Secure instead

A friend for Father, for you a beloved.

If you are able, all can yet end well.

THEKLA. End well? Why, we’re divided for all time!

For us all’s well and truly over.


He’ll never let you go. He cannot leave you.

THEKLA. The worse for him!

COUNTESS. He’ll have decided in a minute, if

He loves you.1320

THEKLA. His decision will be swift,

Don’t doubt it. His decision! Is there a

Decision to be made?

COUNTESS. Compose yourself.

I hear your mother coming.

THEKLA. How to meet her!

COUNTESS. Compose yourself, please.

Scene Three

The Duchess. As above.

DUCHESS (to the Countess). Sister, who has been here?

I heard loud voices.

COUNTESS. There was no one here.

DUCHESS. I am so easily startled. Every noise

Seems to announce a messenger of doom.

If you could tell me, Sister, how things stand?

Will he do what the Kaiser wants of him?

Send riders to the Spanish cardinal?1330

Did he send Questenberg away content?

COUNTESS. No, he did not.

DUCHESS. Then it is hopeless. Oh,

I fear the worst: Now they’ll remove him and

It’ll be again like Regensburg.


Will not. Not this time. Reassure yourself.

(Thekla, very troubled, rushes to her mother and embraces her, in tears.)

DUCHESS. Such an unbending, unrestrainable man!

What have I not endured, have I not suffered

Within the bonds of this unhappy marriage!

For as if fastened to a burning wheel

That turns unresting, rapid, long and hard,1340

I’ve passed an anxious lifetime at his side,

Where he has always torn me with him to

The brink of an abyss, steep, crumbling, and

Vertiginous. Don’t cry, my child. My pain

Should not seem a bad augury for you,

Should not embitter this state that awaits you.

There lives no second Friedland; you, my child,

Need not fear such a destiny as mine.

THEKLA. Oh, let us flee, dear Mother, quickly, quickly!

There’s no place here for us. For every hour1350

Spent here will hatch a new and monstrous horror!

DUCHESS. You’ll have a calmer life. We, too, your father

And I, have known fine days together; I

Remember our first days with pleasure still.

At that time, his was still a happy striving,

Ambition was for him a warming flame,

Not yet a raging fire, consuming all.

The Kaiser trusted him, had great faith in him,

And everything he laid hand on succeeded.

Since that dark day at Regensburg, however,1360

That flung him from the height he had attained,

Another spirit has come over him,

Unsteady, solitary, dark, suspicious.

He lost his peace of mind, no longer trusted

His luck, his powers, and turned instead to dark arts

That bring no joy to those who practice them.

COUNTESS. That’s how your eyes would see these things. But are

These words with which we should receive him? He

Will be here soon. Should he find her in that state?

DUCHESS. Come here, my child, and dry your tears. And let1370

Your father see a smiling face. This ribbon

Has slipped, your hair must be put up again.

Come, dry your tears. They mar your lovely eyes.

What is it I was going to say? Oh, yes:

This Piccolomini is surely a

Deserving nobleman and fully worthy.

COUNTESS. Such is he, Sister.

THEKLA (anxiously, to the Countess).

Please excuse me, Aunt. (About to go.)

COUNTESS. You’re going? But your father’s coming.


Can’t see him now.

COUNTESS. But he will miss you, ask1380

For you.

DUCHESS. Why does she want to leave the room?

THEKLA. Because I cannot bear to see him now.

COUNTESS (to the Duchess).

She is not well.

DUCHESS (anxious). What’s troubling the poor child?

(Both follow the Young Lady, trying to hold her back. Wallenstein enters, speaking with Illo.)

Scene Four

Wallenstein. Illo. As above.

WALLENSTEIN. It’s quiet in the camp?

ILLO. All’s quiet, Marshal.

WALLENSTEIN. Not long now and we could have word from Prague

To tell us that the capital is ours.229

At that point we can throw away our masks

And tell our troops at one time of the step

We’ve taken and of how it has succeeded.

In such case, the example’s everything.

For man was made an imitating creature,1390

And who goes first will always lead the flock.

The troops in Prague do not know otherwise

Than that the Pilsen troops are sworn to us,

And those in Pilsen are to swear themselves

Because the ones in Prague set the example.

You tell me Buttler has declared himself?

ILLO. He came of his own will, unasked, to offer

Himself together with his regiment.

WALLENSTEIN. Not every voice, I find, is to be believed

That we hear warning us deep in the heart.1400

Intending to deceive, mendacity

Takes on the voice of truth by imitation

And spreads misleading oracles among us.

To Buttler, worthy man, I owe amends

For secret, still injustice done him once.230

Strangely, a sense I cannot master—I’d

Not want to call it fear—comes over me

In his proximity and hampers free

Expression of my happy fondness for him.

This honest man, of whom my instinct warns me,1410

Brings me the first pledge of impending fortune.

ILLO. And his example, followed, do not doubt,

Will win for you the best men in the army.

WALLENSTEIN. Go now, find Isolan and send him to me;

I’ve recently indebted him to me,

So he’s the one with whom I’ll make a start.231

(Illo goes out and the others come forward again.)

And here’s the mother with our lovely daughter!

We’ll leave affairs aside and turn to pleasure;

I’d love to pass a cheerful hour with family.

COUNTESS. We’ve long not been together this way, Brother.1420

WALLENSTEIN (aside to the Countess).

Can she be told? Is she prepared to hear?

COUNTESS. Not yet.

WALLENSTEIN. Come here, my girl. Sit down beside me.

There’s a good fairy poised upon your lips;

I’ve heard about your talent from your mother.

She says you have a sweet, harmonious voice,

Enchanting to the ear. A voice like that

Is what I need to drive away the black mood

That spreads its dusky wings about my head.

DUCHESS. Where have you put your zither, Thekla? Come

And let your father hear a sample of1430

Your art.

THEKLA. Oh, dearest Mother! Oh, dear God!

DUCHESS. Come, Thekla. It’s to give your father pleasure.

THEKLA. Oh, Mother, I cannot!

COUNTESS. What is this, Niece?

THEKLA (to the Countess).

Do spare me! Sing? In this distress? This heart-

Ache? Sing to him, who’ll be the death of Mother?

DUCHESS. Why, Thekla! Airs and vapors? Father is

To have expressed a wish that isn’t granted?

COUNTESS. Here is the zither.

THEKLA. Oh, my God! How can I?

(She holds the instrument unsteadily, struggling with herself; as she tries to begin, she shudders, throws the instrument aside, and quickly leaves the scene.)

DUCHESS. My child! Oh, she’s not well!

WALLENSTEIN. What’s troubling her so? Is she always like that?1440

COUNTESS. Since she herself betrays it, I will not

Keep silent any longer either.

WALLENSTEIN. What’s this?

COUNTESS. She loves him.


COUNTESS. Piccolomini.

Have you not noticed? Sister, you’ve not noticed?

DUCHESS. Oh, was it this that so oppressed her heart?

God bless you, Child! You needn’t be ashamed

That you’ve made such a choice.

COUNTESS. Their journey here—

If you did not intend this outcome, you have

Yourself to blame.232 You should have chosen some-

One else to bring them.1450


COUNTESS. He hopes to make her his.


Her his! Is he quite mad?

COUUNTESS. Let her hear that!

WALLENSTEIN. It’s Friedland’s only daughter whom he thinks

To carry off? Well! That idea impresses me.

Oh, he’s not one to show false modesty.

COUNTESS. It’s all because you’ve always favored him; so—

WALLENSTEIN. So he’ll leave me a legacy as thanks.

Well, yes! I love him, value him. But how

Does that bear on my daughter’s hand in marriage?

It’s with one’s daughter, with one’s only child,1460

That one’s to give a token of one’s favor?

DUCHESS. His noble sensibility, his manners—

WALLENSTEIN. Win him my heart, but not my daughter. No!

DUCHESS. His rank and his ancestors—

WALLENSTEIN. His ancestors!

A commoner is what he is. My new son

I’ll seek among the august thrones of Europe.233

DUCHESS. Dear Duke, we wouldn’t want to rise too high,

So that we do not have to fall too far.

WALLENSTEIN. Did I let it cost me so much to reach

These heights, to rise above the heads of common1470

Folk, just to bring my life’s grand role to close

Among a crowd of common relatives?234

Was it for this—

(He stops and recovers his composure.)

She is the only part of me that will

Remain on earth. I want to see a crown

Upon her head or live no longer. I

Say more. All, all I have I’ll stake on making

Her great. This very moment, even as

We speak—

(He catches himself.)

And I, like some soft-hearted father,

Should now unite in finest bourgeois fashion1480

Two pups who like each other, are in love?

This I should do just now, when I stand poised

To set a wreath upon my finished work?

No. To me she is a long hoarded jewel,

The highest, last-most gold piece in my treasury,

And at no lower bid will I let her be

Knocked down than for the scepter of a king.

DUCHESS. My Lord, you build and build and go on building,

Into the clouds, and never think the narrow

Ground cannot bear your towering, swaying work.1490

WALLENSTEIN (to the Countess).

Have you informed her of the residence

I’ve chosen for her?

COUNTESS. No. Tell her yourself.

DUCHESS. We’re not returning to Carinthia?


DUCHESS. To another of your holdings, then?

WALLENSTEIN. You’d not be safe there.

DUCHESS. Not be safe in Kaiser’s

Country and under his protection?


Is something Friedland’s lady cannot hope for.

DUCHESS. Dear God! You’ve taken it to such a point!

WALLENSTEIN. In Holland you will find protection.


You’d send us into Lutheran territory?1500

WALLENSTEIN. Duke Franz von Lauenburg accompanies

You there.235

DUCHESS. Duke Franz von Lauenburg? Who’s with

The Swedes, who’s with the Kaiser’s enemies?

WALLENSTEIN. The Kaiser’s enemies are mine no longer.

DUCHESS (looks in fright from the Duke to the Countess).

It’s true, then? Is it? You have fallen? They’ve

Removed you from command? Oh, God in heaven!

COUNTESS (aside to the Duke).

We’ll leave her in that belief. You see, don’t you,

That she could not endure to hear the truth.

Scene Five

Count Terzky. As above.

COUNTESS. Terzky! What is this? He’s beside himself!

As if he’d seen a ghost!1510

TERZKY (taking Wallenstein aside, quietly).

Did you give orders that the Croats ride?

WALLENSTEIN. I’d no idea.

TERZKY. We’ve been betrayed!

WALLENSTEIN. We’ve what?

TERZKY. They’ve vanished overnight. The Rangers, too.

The neighboring villages are standing empty.


TERZKY. You sent him away.236


TERZKY. You didn’t? Did not send him out?

Did not send Deodat? They both are missing.

Scene Six

Illo. As above.

ILLO. Has Terzky told you—

TERZKY. He knows all.

ILLO. Also that Esterhazy, Götz, Maradas,

Colalto, Kaunitz have deserted—1520

TERZKY. What the—

WALLENSTEIN (with a gesture).


COUNTESS (has been watching from a distance and approaches).

In God’s name, Terzky! What is this?

WALLENSTEIN (about to leave).

Nothing! Let’s go.

TERZKY (about to follow).

Theresa, please! It’s nothing.

COUNTESS (holding him back).

Nothing? And all the blood has drained out of

Your faces? Even his composure’s false?

PAGE (entering). An adjutant is asking for Count Terzky.

(Exit. Terzky follows.)

WALLENSTEIN. Let’s see what he brings.

(To Illo.) This could not have happened

Except by mutiny. Who has the watch

Before the gates?

ILLO. It belongs to Tiefenbach.237

WALLENSTEIN. Have Tiefenbach relieved immediately

And Terzky’s Grenadiers march up. Look now!1530

Have you had word of Buttler?

ILLO. Him I’ve seen.

He’s on his way to you. At least he’s loyal.

(Illo goes off. Wallenstein is about to follow.)

COUNTESS. Don’t let him leave you, Sister. Keep him here.

There’s some misfortune—

DUCHESS Gracious God, what is it?

(She intercepts him.)

WALLENSTEIN (fending her off).

Compose yourselves! Let go! Sister, dear Wife,

We are in camp. Here it’s as it must be:

It’s storm and sunshine over us by turns;

Strong temperaments aren’t easily restrained,

Never has peace prevailed around a leader.

If I’m to stay, then you must go. For women’s1540

Wailing accords but ill with men in action.

(He’s about to go. Terzky returns.)

TERZKY. Stay here. It’s best to see it from this window.

WALLENSTEIN (to the Countess).

Go, Sister.

COUNTESS. Not in life!


TERZKY (takes her aside and indicates the Duchess).


DUCHESS. Come, Sister. He would have it so.

(They go.)

Scene Seven

Wallenstein. Count Terzky.

WALLENSTEIN (going to the window). What’s happening?

TERZKY. A huge commotion in the troops. It’s baffling.

Mysteriously, in ominous silence, each corps

Is placing itself under its own banners.

The Tiefenbachers all look menacing,

The Walloons only keep apart in their camp,

Admit no one, keep usual good order.1550

WALLENSTEIN. Does Piccolomini appear among them?

TERZKY. He’s being sought, and no one’s found him yet.

WALLENSTEIN. What was it that the adjutant delivered?

TERZKY. My regiment dispatched him to report

They’d sworn themselves to you anew, await

Their summons into action, wild to fight.

WALLENSTEIN. And what has brought this unrest into camp?

All news was to be held back from the army

Until we’d made ourselves assured of Prague.

TERZKY. If you had only believed me! Just last evening1560

We begged you, we implored you not to let

That old Octavio—that rogue—out the gates.

You gave him your own horses for his flight—

WALLENSTEIN. Enough of your old song. No more of this.

TERZKY. And Isolani, too, you trusted; was

He not the first to leave you in the lurch?

WALLENSTEIN. I’d just pulled him from his embarrassment.

So what? I never counted on his thanks.

TERZKY. But that’s the way they are, one like the other.

WALLENSTEIN. Is it so wrong that he should go his way?1570

He’s following the god that he has served

Lifelong at every gaming table. It

Was with my luck and not with me that he

Made his alliance and that he breaks it now.

What did he mean to me? Or I to him?

I am the ship on which he loads his hopes

And sails the open seas in high good humor;

If he sees shoals ahead, he saves his wares.

Up and away he flies, a bird that leaves the

Hospitable branch on which it has just nested.1580

Between us here no human bond is broken.

Why, he deserves to see himself deceived

Who looked for heart in one so empty-headed;

On this blank forehead images of life

Are lightly writ in disappearing ink,

Into this bosom’s silent depths falls nothing.

A cheerful temper stirs his lighter humors,

But no soul warms his chilly viscera.

TERZKY. Perhaps. But I would sooner trust myself

To unmarked foreheads than to furrowed brows.1590

Scene Eight

Wallenstein. Terzky. Illo.

ILLO (entering furious).

Betrayal, mutiny!

TERZKY. Aha! Now what?

ILLO. The Tiefenbachers, when I gave the order

To stand down—mutinous rascals that they are—



ILLO. They refused obedience. Flatly.

TERZKY. Then have them shot down on the spot! Give orders!

WALLENSTEIN. Easy now! What’s the reason that they give?

ILLO. They claim no other can command them than

Lieutenant General Piccolomini.

WALLENSTEIN. What? How is that?

ILLO. His orders at departure,

And written in the Kaiser’s very hand.1600

TERZKY. The Kaiser’s—Prince, you hear?

ILLO. And at his urging

The colonels also slipped out yesterday.

TERZKY. You hear?

ILLO. And Montecuculi, Caraffa,

Together with six others he prevailed

Upon to follow him, have all gone missing.

They say he’s had those papers from the Kaiser

Now for a long time. Only recently

Did he and Questenberg agree to act.

(Wallenstein sinks into a chair and covers his face.)

TERZKY. If only, only you had believed me.238

Scene Nine

Countess. As above.

COUNTESS. Anxiety like this—I can’t endure it.1610

In God’s name, tell me what is going on.

ILLO. The regiments are all deserting us.

Count Piccolomini turns out a traitor.

COUNTESS. Oh, my prophetic soul! (Plunges from the room.)

TERZKY. Had I been believed!

And now you see the way your stars have lied.

WALLENSTEIN (sits up straight).

The stars do not lie. This, by contrast, comes

Against the course of stars and destiny.

For art is honest, but a heart so false

Brings lies and fraud into a truthful Heaven.

All prophecy must rest on truth alone;1620

When Nature staggers out beyond her borders,

All knowledge staggers, too. And if it was

False knowledge not to soil the honor of

The human figure by such a suspicion,

Never shall I regret my show of weakness!

Why, there’s religion in what drives the beast,

And savages do not drink with their victim

Before they plunge a sword into its breast.

Heroic, this, Octavio! It was not

Your cleverness that got the best of mine;1630

Your evil heart has carried off a cheap,

Disgraceful triumph over mine, that’s honest;

No buckler fended off your fatal blow,

You foully struck my undefended breast.

Against such weapons I am but a child.

Scene Ten

As above. Buttler.

TERZKY. Here’s Buttler! He at least is still a friend!

WALLENSTEIN (advances toward him with open arms and embraces him warmly).

Just come into my arms, you faithful comrade!

Not even the returning sun in spring

Restores me like your face at such a time.

BUTTLER. My General—I’ve come—1640

WALLENSTEIN (leaning on his shoulder).

You’ve heard already?

No? The Old Man’s betrayed me to the Kaiser.

What do you say to that? Full thirty years

We’ve lived out and endured together, slept

In one camp bed, drunk from one cup, and shared

A single crust of bread. I leaned on him

The way I’m leaning on your shoulder now.

Just when my heart beats trustingly on his,

He sees his moment, draws a blade, and, smiling,

Inserts it stealthily between my ribs!

(He hides his face on Buttler’s breast.)

BUTTLER. No more about this traitor. What will you do?1650

WALLENSTEIN. Well said. As if I couldn’t live without him!

Am I not rich in friends, him notwithstanding?

And Fortune favors me still: Even now,

As she reveals betrayal and a traitor,

She sends to me a friend who’s true and loyal.

No more of him. And don’t think it’s the loss

That troubles me—it’s only the deception.

For both of them I valued, both I cherished;

That Max, he loved me, truly loved me. He

Has not deceived me, nor would he. Enough,1660

Enough of this. A matter for quick action:

The rider whom Count Kinsky’s sent from Prague

Can reach our gates at any moment now.

Whatever he may bring, he’s not to fall

Into the hands of mutineers. Quick! Send

An escort we can trust to intercept him

And bring him in to me by secret ways.

(Illo is about to go.)

BUTTLER (holding him back).

Field Marshal, who are you expecting?

WALLENSTEIN. The mounted messenger who brings us news

Of how we’ve fared in Prague.1670


WALLENSTEIN. Something’s wrong?

BUTTLER. You don’t know yet?


BUTTLER. What brought in the

Unrest in camp?

WALLENSTEIN. What’s this?

BUTTLER. That messenger—

WALLENSTEIN (expectantly). Well?

BUTTLER. He’s in already—

TERZKY and ILLO. In already?

WALLENSTEIN (overlapping). My messenger?

BUTTLER. For several hours.

WALLENSTEIN. And I don’t know it yet?

BUTTLER. The Watch stopped him.

ILLO (stamps his foot). Damnation!

BUTTLER. And his letter

Was broken open, makes the rounds through camp—


You know what it contains?

BUTTLER (withholding). Don’t question me.

TERZKY. Disaster, Illo! Everything’s collapsing!

WALLENSTEIN. Just tell me. I’m prepared to hear the worst.

So Prague is lost? It is? Admit it freely.1680

BUTTLER. Prague is lost. Every regiment, all those

Of Budweis, Tabor, Braunau, Königgrätz,

Of Brünn and Znaym:239 they have deserted you

And sworn to Austria. You, with Kinsky, Terzky,

Illo, stand henceforth under Kaiser’s ban.

(Terzky and Illo show horror and rage. Wallenstein stands firm and composed.)

WALLENSTEIN (after a pause).

It is decided. Good, then! Quickly here now

I’m healed of all the doubts that once were mine.

My breast is free again, my mind is clear now:

It must be night for Friedland’s stars to shine.

With slow resolve and with uncertain insight1690

I drew my sword; I did so, my heart riven,

As long as I knew space to choose was given.

Necessity’s upon us, doubt’s now in flight,

I battle for my life, exalted, driven.

(He leaves the scene. The others follow.)

Scene Eleven

COUNTESS TERZKY (emerging from an adjoining room).

No. I no longer can—Where are they? It’s

All empty. They’ve left me alone, alone

In this unbearable anxiety.

Restrain myself before my sister, seem calm,

Contain the qualms of my tormented heart

Within this breast—I can no longer do it.1700

If this goes wrong, if he should have to go

To meet the Swede with empty hands, in flight,

Not as an honored ally, solemnly

Attended by his army—Should we have

To roam from place to place as homeless as the

Count Palatine, that shard of fallen grandeur—240

I will not live to see the day! And even

Should he be able to endure to sink so,

I’d not consent to see him sunken so.

Scene Twelve

Countess. Duchess. Thekla.

THEKLA (attempting to hold the Duchess back).

Dear Mother, do stay back. It’s better so.1710

DUCHESS. Oh, no. There is some dreadful secret here

That’s being kept from me. Why does my sister

Avoid me? Say! Why do I see her chased

About by fear and you so full of fright?

What do these stolen glances mean that you

Exchange with her in silence, secretly?

THEKLA. Oh, Mother, nothing!

DUCHESS. Sister, I would know.

COUNTESS. Why should we try to make a secret of it?

Can it be hidden? Sooner, later she

Will have to learn to hear it and endure it.1720

This is no time for giving in to weakness,

We must have courage, must be resolute,

It must become our practice to show strength.

It’s better that her fate now be decided

In one word: Sister, they’re deceiving you.

You believe the Duke has been removed. The Duke’s

Not been removed. He is—

THEKLA (going to the Countess). You want to kill her?

COUNTESS. The Duke is—

THEKLA (embracing the Duchess).

Dearest Mother, steel yourself.

COUNTESS. Rebelled is what the Duke is, over to

The foe’s where he would go; his army has1730

Deserted him and all has gone awry.

(During this speech the Duchess sways and falls fainting into her daughter’s arms.)

A grand Hall in the quarters of the Duke of Friedland.

Scene Thirteen

WALLENSTEIN (in armor).241

Well done, Octavio. I’m now almost as

Abandoned as I was when I left the

Electors’ Congress then at Regensburg.

I only had myself, no more, but what

A single man is worth you all found out.

The beauty of the foliage you have hacked

Away and here I stand, a leafless trunk!

But in the heartwood lives creative power that,

Sprouting, brought forth a world out of itself.1740

Time was, when I was worth an army to you,

I, single-handed. Yours had melted quite

Away before the Swedish force, and Tilly,

Your last resort, had fallen on the Lech.

Into Bavaria this Gustav came

Rushing, a stream in spate, and in Vienna

The Kaiser trembled in his palace. Troops

Were scarce: the common lot will follow fortune.

They turned to me, their friend in need; the Kaiser

Himself entreated one whom he’d offended.1750

I was to stand up, say “Let there be light,”

And fill the empty camps with fighting men.

I did so. To the roll of drums my name

Went through the world just like a god of war.

The plow left standing in the field, the forge

Abandoned, men all rally to the old

Familiar standard of their cherished hopes.

The one that I was then I am today!

The spirit fashions for itself a body,

And Friedland will yet fill the camps around him.1760

Just lead your legions boldly out to meet me:

They fight by custom under me and not

Against. When head and body separate,

We shall see to which side the spirit lay.

(Illo and Terzky enter.)

Courage, my friends. We’re not defeated yet.

Five Terzky regiments remain still ours

And Buttler’s proven troops. Tomorrow we’ll

Be joined by sixteen thousand Swedish men.

I was no stronger nine years since, when I

Marched out to conquer Germany for Austria.1770

Scene Fourteen

As above. Neumann, who takes Count Terzky aside to speak with him.

TERZKY (to Neumann).

What do they want?

WALLENSTEIN. What’s this?

TERZKY. Ten Cuirassiers

From Pappenheim—the regiment has sent them.242

WALLENSTEIN (quickly to Neumann).

Admit them. (Neumann goes out.) This is promising. Just wait!

They have their doubts and can still be won over.

Scene Fifteen

Wallenstein. Terzky. Illo. Ten Cuirassiers, led by a Private, march up and, at a command, form a single file before the Duke, performing honors.

WALLENSTEIN (takes their measure carefully, then addresses the Private).

I know you well. You come from Bruges in Flanders,

Your name is Mercy.

PRIVATE. Heinrich Mercy it is.

WALLENSTEIN. You were once cut off on the march, surrounded

By Hessians, and fought your way out, one hundred

And eighty men straight through theirs of one thousand.

PRIVATE. It’s so, my General.1780

WALLENSTEIN. What was your reward

For this brave deed?

PRIVATE. The honor, my Field Marshal,

That I requested: service with this corps.

WALLENSTEIN (turning to another).

You were among those who stepped forward when

I asked for volunteers at Altenberg to

Take out the Swedish battery there against us.243


It’s so, my Marshal.

WALLENSTEIN. I forget no one

With whom I’ve spoken. Present your petition.

PRIVATE (commands). At ease!

WALLENSTEIN (turned to a third).

Your name is Risbeck. You were born in Cologne.

THIRD CUIRASSIER. Risbeck from Cologne.1790

WALLENSTEIN. You brought the Swedish colonel Dübald as

A prisoner into camp at Nuremberg.


Not I, my General.

WALLENSTEIN. Yes, quite right. It was

Your older brother did it. You’ve also

A younger brother, no? And where is he?

THIRD CUIRASSIER. He serves at Olmütz,244 with the Kaiser’s forces.

WALLENSTEIN (to the Private).

Let’s hear it now.

PRIVATE. There’s an Imperial letter we have seen

That or—

WALLENSTEIN (interrupting him).

How were you chosen?

PRIVATE. Every squadron

Drew lots to choose its man.1800

WALLENSTEIN. Now down to business!

PRIVATE. There’s an Imperial letter we have seen

That orders us to follow you no more;

It says you are a traitor and a foe.

WALLENSTEIN. And what have you decided?

PRIVATE. Our comrades

At Braunau, Budweis, Prague, and Olmütz have

Obeyed already; that set an example

For regiments Toscana, Tiefenbach. But

We do not believe that you’re a foe and traitor;

We think that it is smoke and mirrors only,

And Spanish comedy. (Earnestly.) We want to hear1810

From you yourself what you are planning on,

Since you’ve always been honest with us and

For that we have the greatest trust in you.

No stranger’s word should come between us two,

The good field marshal and his loyal army.

WALLENSTEIN. In this I recognize my Pappenheimers.

PRIVATE. The message sent by this, your regiment, is:

If you intend to keep the high baton

That’s yours by rights, that you have from the Kaiser,

To be the just field captain Austria needs,1820

Then we want to stand by you and defend you

In your good rights against all comers now and

Always. And if all other regiments turn

Away from you, we want to be alone

The loyal ones, the ones who give their lives.

For it is our sworn duty as your Riders

To give our lives before we let you fall.

But if the Kaiser’s letter speaks the truth,

If you intend to lead us over to

The foe in treachery, which God forbid,1830

We, too, will leave you, we’ll obey the letter.

WALLENSTEIN. Just listen, boys—

PRIVATE. No need for many words.

You just say yes or no, and we’re content.

WALLENSTEIN. Then listen. I know well you have good sense, you

Inquire and think, unlike the common herd.

That’s why I’ve always picked you out, you know,

Distinguished you in honor in the field;

For there the marshal’s rapid glance counts squadrons,

Not single heads, and iron orders rule,

Unsparing, blind, without respect of persons.1840

But that is not how I have treated you.

As you began to learn the ropes of your

Rough trade, as I saw human thoughts flash from

Your foreheads, I regarded you as free men,

Conceded you the right to your own choices.

PRIVATE. Yes, worthily is how you’ve treated us,

My Marshal, honored us by trusting us,

And favored us above all other units.

And we’ve not followed after all the rest,

You see it! We want to remain with you.1850

Just say one word; your word’s enough for us.

Say it’s not treason that you’re planning on,

That you’ll not take the army to the foe.

WALLENSTEIN. But I’m the one’s betrayed! They’ve sacrificed

Me to my enemies. And I must fall

If my brave troops don’t save me from the Kaiser.

I’ll tell you how it is. Your heart will be

My castle. My breast is the target, that

And my gray head. That’s Spanish gratitude!

That’s our reward for mortal combat at1860

The Old Fort245 and on Lützen’s plains! For this

We threw our naked breasts against those halberds!

For this we made the frozen ground, a rock

Our camp bed—we who found no stream too swift,

No wood impenetrable, we who followed

That Mansfeld undiscouraged along all

The slithering turns of his unending flight.246

Our life was marching without ever resting,

We, like the ceaseless wind and homeless, stormed

Our way through all the war-besotted world.1870

And now that we have done this heavy work

Of weapons, thankless and accursed, now that

Our hands have rolled this boulder tirelessly up-

Hill, this Imperial stripling comes to win

The peace with ease, to take the olive branch

We’ve earned and weave it in his golden locks—247

PRIVATE. He’ll not do that, as long as we can help it.

No one but you, who waged this frightful war

With glory, is to bring it to an end.

You led us out into the blood-soaked field1880

Of death; none other, you should lead us home

Into the flowering fields of peace, should share

With us the hard-earned fruits of our long labors—

WALLENSTEIN. How’s that? You think in high old age that you’ll

Enjoy the fruits of all this? Don’t believe that.

You’ll never see the end of this long struggle,

Of our long strife. This war will eat us all.

Vienna wants no peace. And it’s because

I want and seek a peace that I must fall.

What care is it of Austria’s if the war1890

Rubs out its armies and lays waste the world?

It only wants to grow, to add new lands.

I see you’re touched, see noble rage flash from

Your warriors’ eyes. Oh, that my spirit could

Inspire you now as once it did in battle!

You would stand by me and protect me with

Your weapons in the exercise of my

Own proper rights, and that is noble of you!

But do not think you’ll see this to completion,

So small an army! You’d have sacrificed1900

Yourselves for your Field Marshal uselessly.


Oh, no. Let us proceed with caution, seek friends;

The Swede has offered help; let us appear

To use it, until we, frightful to both sides,

Can carry Europe’s fate in our two hands

And bring to the rejoicing world, from out

Of our own camp, peace crowned with olive branches.

PRIVATE. So it just seems you’re working with the Swede?

And you don’t want to trick the Kaiser either?

Don’t want to make us Swedish? For it’s this1910

And only this we want to hear you say.

WALLENSTEIN. But what’s the Swede to me? I hate him like

The depths of Hell, and with God’s help I’ll send

Him home across his icy Baltic Sea.

The whole is what I care about.248 I have

A heart. The German peoples’ wretchedness

Moves me. You, ordinary men, do not

Think ordinary thoughts; I find you worthy

To hear from me a word in confidence.

The torch of war has burned for fifteen years,1920

And nowhere is there truce. For Swede and German,

Papist and Lutheran: not a one cedes to

Another! Every hand is raised against

Another! Everyone’s a party, none’s

A judge! Say, where’s this all to end? Who will

Release this knot that grows and grows in its

Confusion? It can only be hacked through.249

I feel it: I’m the man of destiny;

I hope, with your help, to accomplish it.

Scene Sixteen

Buttler. As above.

BUTTLER (with fervor).

Oh, that’s a great mistake, my Marshal.1930


BUTTLER. Can only harm us with the moderate ones.


BUTTLER. Declares rebellion openly!

WALLENSTEIN. What do you mean?

BUTTLER. Count Terzky’s regiments

Have pulled down the Imperial Eagle and

Instead they raise your emblems.

PRIVATE (to the Cuirassiers). Right about!

WALLENSTEIN. A pox upon this counsel and who gave it!

(To the Cuirassiers, who are marching out.)

Halt, fellows, halt. It’s all an error. Listen!

I’ll have it punished. Listen! Wait a minute!

They won’t hear me. (To Illo.) Go after them. Explain.

And bring them back. Do anything it takes.1940

(Illo hurries out.)

A thing like this will ruin us. Buttler! Buttler!

You are my evil genius. Why did you

Announce it in their presence? Everything

Was going well. Why, I’d half won them over.

These hopeless hot-heads, they and their mindless

Officiousness! My luck plays cruel games

With me! The fervor of my friends will do

Me in before the hatred of my foes.250

Scene Seventeen

As above. The Duchess plunges into the room, followed by Thekla and the Countess. Then Illo.

DUCHESS. Oh, Albrecht! Oh! What have you done!251

WALLENSTEIN. That, too, yet!

COUNTESS. Forgive me, Brother. There was nothing I could1950

Do. They know everything.

DUCHESS. What have you done?

COUNTESS (to Terzky). Is there no hope? Has everything been lost?

TERZKY. All’s lost. The Kaiser has control of Prague,

The regiments have all renewed their oath.

COUNTESS. Perfidious Octavio! Max, too,

Is gone?

TERZKY. Where should he be, if not gone over,

Together with his father, to the Kaiser?

(Thekla rushes into her mother’s arms, hiding her face against her breast.)

DUCHESS (embracing her).

Unhappy child! Yet more unhappy mother!

WALLENSTEIN (taking Terzky aside).

Quick! Have a coach prepared and waiting in

The second courtyard to bring them away.1960

(Indicating the women.)

Our Scherfenberg252 goes with them; he’s still loyal.

They go to Eger with him; we shall follow.

(To Illo, who returns.)

You haven’t brought them?

ILLO. Do you hear the uproar?

The Pappenheimers, their whole corps’s advancing.

They’re calling for their colonel—Max they want back;

They say you’re holding him by use of force

And if you don’t release him, they’ll use force.

(General astonishment.)

TERZKY. But what to make of this?

WALLENSTEIN. Did I not say so?

Oh, my prophetic soul! He is still here.

And he has not betrayed me, couldn’t do it.1970

Of that I’ve never entertained a doubt.

COUNTESS. If he’s still here, then all is well. Then I

Know how to bind him fast once and for all.

(Embracing Thekla.)

TERZKY. Impossible! Consider! The Old Man’s

Betrayed us all, is over to Vienna;

He can’t risk being here.

ILLO (to Wallenstein). His four-in-hand,

The one you gave him, crossed the market square

Not long ago. I saw it as it passed.

COUNTESS. My niece, he can’t be far—

THEKLA (looking toward the door, cries aloud). He’s here!

Scene Eighteen

As above. Max Piccolomini.

MAX (crossing to the middle of the Hall).

Oh, yes. He’s here! I can no longer stand1980

To circle round this house with stealthy tread,

To lurk and lie in wait for a good moment.

This loitering, this anxiety exceed me.

(Going to Thekla, who has thrown herself into her mother’s arms.)

Oh, look at me! Don’t look away, my angel.253

Confess it freely to them all, fear no one.

The world can hear it: that we love each other.

Why make a secret of it? Such a secret

Is for the happy ones; unhappiness

And hopelessness no longer need a veil.

They work their way beneath a thousand suns.1990

(He notices the Countess, who is regarding Thekla triumphantly.)

Oh no, Aunt Terzky. Do not look at me

Expectantly. For I’ve not come to stay.

I’ve come to take my leave. It’s done. It’s over.

And I must leave you, Thekla. Yes, I must.

But I can’t bear to take with me your hate.

Grant me a moment of compassion, tell

Me you don’t hate me; tell me, Thekla. Say it.

(He takes her hand, much moved.)

Dear God! I cannot leave the spot, cannot!

Cannot release this hand and let it fall.

Do tell me, Thekla, you know what I feel2000

And know full well the choice cannot be mine.

(Thekla, avoiding his gaze, indicates her father; he turns to the Duke, whom he notices only now.)

You here? It wasn’t you I came to see.

I wasn’t to lay eyes on you again.

She is my sole concern now; she alone,

Her heart, has power to absolve me. Noth-

Ing, nothing else can matter anymore.

WALLENSTEIN. You take me for the fool who’d let you go?254

Would play a scene of magnanimity?

Your father has turned traitor on me; you

To me are no more than this traitor’s son.2010

It’s not for nothing you’re now in my power.

Don’t think I’ll honor that old friendship that

He has so ruthlessly destroyed. The times

Of fondness, fond forbearance are now past,

And hate, revenge, the order of the day.

I, too, can be a monster, just like him.

MAX. With me you will proceed as you are able.

You know, however, I’ve not come to stir

Your anger; equally, I do not fear it.

You know what keeps me.2020

(Taking Thekla’s hand.)

Look here! I hoped to owe all things to you,

I wished to take my highest happiness

From your paternal hand. You’ve ruined it,

But little do you care. Indifferently, you

Stamp out the happiness of those next you.

The god you serve’s no god of mercy. You,

Just like the frightful ruthless element,

The blind one, that refuses all alliance,

Pursue your heart’s wild longings all alone.

A sorry end attends all those who trust you,2030

Who lean their fortune’s hut on you, seduced

By your display of hospitality.

Swift, unexpected, in night’s stillness, the

Perfidious fire pit seethes and glows, erupts,

And, flaming hot, a raging stream flows downward,

Destroying everything that men have planted.

WALLENSTEIN. You paint a picture of your father’s heart,

Describe the weather in his entrails, his false

Breast. Hell’s own artfulness deceived me, sent

Me the most subtle spirit, skilled in lies,2040

Made him my nearest friend. Who can stand up

To Hell’s dominion? None! This basilisk255

I sheltered and brought up in my own bosom;

I nursed it with my heart’s own blood; it sucked

Itself to bursting full at my love’s breasts.

I never harbored anything against him,

I left the gates of my thoughts open to him

And threw away the keys of common prudence.

Upon the starry skies and in wide space

My eyes searched out the enemy that I2050

Had shut up tightly in my heart of hearts.

If I had been to Ferdinand just what

Octavio was to me, I’d never have

Declared a war on him—I’d not been able.

He was my august master, not my friend;

No Kaiser made my loyalty his mainstay.

We were at war, were he and I, when he

Put the field marshal’s staff into my hands:

Mistrust and cunning always are at war;

Between good faith and belief alone is peace.2060

Who violates good faith destroys unborn

The future race sealed in its mother’s womb!

MAX. I’ll not attempt to justify my father;

It’s my disaster that I can’t.

Grave deeds of grave import have been committed,

And one atrocious action follows on

Another, braiding an unending chain.256

But how came we, who never have offended,

Into this round of sorrow and of crime?

With whom have we two broken faith? Why must2070

Our fathers’ double guilt and grim misdeed

Entwine us, choke us, like a pair of snakes?257

Why should our fathers’ fell and unappeased

Hatred rip us apart, we who are lovers?

(He embraces Thekla, greatly pained.)

WALLENSTEIN (who has been silently observing Max, now approaches).

Stay, Max. Stand by me. Do not leave me, Max!258

Listen! When they brought you into my tent

In winter camp at Prague,259 a fragile boy

Who’d never known a German winter, your

Hand frozen to the flagstaff that you held,

That you refused to yield—I took you up2080

And covered you with my own coat, became

Your nurse and felt no shame at those small duties;

I nursed you with a woman’s tender care

Till you warmed up, revived against my breast.

Say, have I ever changed my mind about you?

How many thousands have I since enriched

With great estates, rewarded with high office!

But you I loved. My heart, myself I gave you.

The others were all strangers, you the child

Of my own house. You cannot leave me, Max!2090

This cannot be. I will not believe it. I can

Not believe my Max would ever leave me.

MAX. Dear God!

WALLENSTEIN. I’ve held you, carried, tended to you since

You were a child. What has your father done

For you that I have not in equal measure?

I’ve spun a web of love about you. Go

Pull it to pieces if you’re able—you’re

Still fixed to me by every bond of soul,

By every holy natural fetter that

Chains men, attaches them to one another.2100

Go then: forsake me, serve your Kaiser, make

Yourself rewarded with a little chain

Of gold to show the Kaiser’s favor, with

A Golden Fleece,260 both given you as wages

Because your friend, the father of your young years,

The holiest feelings counted nothing to you.

MAX (visibly torn). Dear God! Have I a choice? Am I not bound?

My oath, my duty—

WALLENSTEIN. Toward whom? Who are you?261

If I am unjust to the Kaiser, it’s my

Injustice and not yours. Who do you belong to?2110

Is it yourself that you take orders from?

Do you stand free before the world, like me,

So that you are the doer of your deeds?

Upon me you are planted, I’m your kaiser;

To belong to me, to answer to me—this

Is honor for you, this is natural law.

And if the planet where you have your being

Falls out of orbit, throws itself, aflame,

Into the nearest world, sets it on fire,

You are not free to choose if you will follow.2120

It rips you with it, forced into its train,

Together with its ring and all its moons.262

You are pulled guiltless into this contest;

The world will never blame you but approve,

Because it was your friend who counted most.

Scene Nineteen

As above. Neumann.


NEUMANN. The Pappenheimers have dismounted, they

Advance on foot with the intention, sword

In hand, to storm the house and free the Count.

WALLENSTEIN (to Terzky). We’re

To set the chains and place the cannon. I’ll2130

Receive that pack with chain shot, all of them.263

(Terzky goes out.)

That they should think that they can force me! Neumann,

Go tell them to withdraw this minute, on

My orders, stand in ranks and silently

Await what I shall deign to do.

(Neumann goes out. Illo has gone to the window.)

COUNTESS. Release him,

I beg of you, release him!

ILLO (at the window). What the devil!


ILLO. Up in Town Hall. They’re opening

The roof. They’re training cannon on the house—

MAX. What idiots!

ILLO. They’re making moves to fire

On us—2140


Oh, God above!

MAX (to Wallenstein). Let me go down

To them and reason with them—

WALLENSTEIN. Not one step!

MAX (indicating Thekla and the Duchess).

Their lives! And yours!

WALLENSTEIN. What is it you bring, Terzky?

Scene Twenty

As above. Terzky returns.

TERZKY. Our loyal regiments declare they’ll be

Restrained no longer, beg permission to

Attack; they hold the Prague Gate and the Mühl Gate;

If you will give the word, they’ll take them in

The rear and corner them, put down the lot

Of them with ease back in the narrow alleys.

ILLO. Right on! Don’t let their lust for battle cool.

We have the loyalty of Buttler’s men,2150

And that makes us the greater number; we

Shall turn them, put an end to this rebellion.

WALLENSTEIN. Are we to make a battlefield of Pilsen?

Shall civil war be let loose in these streets?

Shall we resign the outcome to blind rage

That knows no measure and no master? We’ve

No room for battle here, for throttling only;

No ruler’s voice can make the Furies, once

Set loose, return. Well, fine! I’ve long considered

Such as this. Let it end now, quick and bloody.2160

(He turns to Max.)

Well? Would you want to try a round with me?264

You’re free to go. Take up position facing

Me, lead your men out into battle. War’s

An art you understand, you’ve learned a bit

From me; I’ll not be shamed by such a foe,

And you’ll not know another day so fine

To pay for what I taught you.

COUNTESS. Has it come

To this? My cousin, can you answer for it?

MAX. I’ve made a solemn promise to conduct

The regiments entrusted to me out2170

Still true to Austria.265 This I’ll do or die.

Duty requires no more of me. I’ll not

Fight you if I can possibly avoid it.

Even inimical, your head is sacred.

(Two shots resound. Illo and Terzky rush to the window.)

WALLENSTEIN. What’s that?

TERZKY. He’s down.


ILLO. The Tiefenbachers fired

The shot.


ILLO. This Neumann, whom you’d sent

To speak—

WALLENSTEIN (enraged).

The devil! Then I’m going to—(About to go.)

TERZKY. Expose yourself to their unbridled fury?


In God’s name, no!2180

ILLO. Not at the moment, Marshal.

COUNTESS. Restrain him! Oh, restrain him!


MAX. Don’t do it. Not just yet. Their bloody deed

Has put them in a rage. Wait for contrition—

WALLENSTEIN. Out of my way! I’ve dithered far too long.

They dared commit this crime because they could

Not see my face. They’ll see my face, hear my voice—

Are these not my troops? Do I not command them?

Am I not their feared captain in the field?

We’ll see if they no longer know the face

That was for them a sun in darkest battle!2190

No weapons needed. I need only show

Myself here from the terrace to see this

Rebellious pack, soon tamed, return again

Into its old accustomed bed, obedience.

(He goes off, followed by Illo, Terzky, and Buttler.)

Scene Twenty-One

Countess. Duchess. Max and Thekla.

COUNTESS (to the Duchess).

When they see him, they’ll—Sister, there’s still hope.

DUCHESS. Hope? I have none.

MAX (who has observed the previous scene from a distance, visibly

conflicted, now comes forward).

It’s more than I can stand.

I came here calmly, with my mind made up,

It seemed to me that I was right and blameless.

I find now that I stand here, a pariah,

Someone inhuman, weighed down by ill will2200

And the abhorrence of those whom I value.

I see my loved ones bitterly oppressed,

Whose happiness I could restore with one word.

My heart is in rebellion, in my breast

Two voices are at war with one another.

Darkness is all, I cannot find what’s right.

How wise you were, my father, when you said

I always trusted too much to my heart.266

I hesitate, uncertain what to do.

COUNTESS. You do not know? And your heart will not tell you?2210

Then I’ll tell you!

Your father has committed a betrayal

Beyond all such, a crime against the Prince’s

Head; he has plunged us into wretchedness.

This tells us clearly what his son must do:

Make good the crime of this atrocious man,

Bear witness to exemplary good faith, thus

Preserve the name of Piccolomini

From the eternal curses of the House

Of Wallenstein.2220

MAX. Oh, where is there a voice

Of truth that I can follow? We’re all tossed

About by wishes, passions. I would want

To see an angel come down now from Heaven

And draw from light’s pure spring with its pure hand,

Untainted, the right thing for me to do.

(His eye falls upon Thekla.)

Am I still looking for this angel? Do I

Expect to find another?

(He approaches her and puts his arm around her.)

This is where

I’ll lay it, on this heart, unerring, pure,

And sacred. Of your love I’ll ask it. It

Can favor only those who’re meant for favor,2230

Turns from the guilty ones who know no favor.

Can you still love me if I choose to stay?

If you say you can, I am one of yours.

COUNTESS (with meaning).


MAX (interrupts her).

Don’t consider. Speak your feelings.

COUNTESS. Think of your father—

MAX (interrupts her). It’s not Friedland’s daughter,

It’s my beloved, you, whom I am asking.

It’s not the capture of a crown concerns us;

Bear this in mind, with your sharp intellect.

No, our concern is your friend’s peace of mind,

The fortunes of a thousand heroes’ hearts2240

Who’ll take his deed as their example. Speak!

Should I forswear the Kaiser’s oath? My duty?

Should I launch murderous cannon balls into

Octavio’s camp? A cannon ball, once loosed,

Is no dead object. It’s alive, takes on

A spirit; all the Furies seize upon it—

Avengers, these, of desecration—lure

It wantonly where it will do most damage.

THEKLA. Oh, Max—

MAX (interrupts her). No, don’t be hasty either. I

Know you. Your noble heart might find the harder2250

Duty to be the nearer. Not the grander,

But rather the more human choice be yours.

Think what the Prince has done for me forever,

Think how he was rewarded by my father.

The unconstrained, endearing impulses

Of hospitality and loyalty

Are sacred doctrine also to the heart;

Nature’s own talons will avenge them harshly

On one who savagely offends against them.

Lay all things, all, upon the scale and let2260

Your heart decide, then speak.

THEKLA. Oh, yours has long

Ago decided. Follow your first feeling.

COUNTESS. Ill-fated girl!

THEKLA. How could that thing

Be right that this true and right-feeling heart

Did not perceive and seize on at first impulse?

Go, now. Go and perform your duty. I

Shall always love you. For whatever you

Had chosen, you’d have always acted nobly

And worthy of yourself. Regret, however,

Should not disturb the peace of your bright soul.2270

MAX. Then I must leave you, Thekla. We must part.

THEKLA. As you’re true to yourself, you’re true to me.

Fate separates us but our hearts are one.

The houses Friedland, Piccolomini

Remain divided by a bloody hatred,

But we do not belong to these houses. Go!

Make haste to separate your good cause from

Our doomed one. Heaven’s curse lies on our heads,

We’re given over to destruction. Me, too,

My father’s guilt will take down to perdition.2280

You’re not to mourn me. Destiny will soon


(Max takes her into his arms, deeply moved. Behind the scene a wild, resounding cry is raised—“Vivat Ferdinandus!”—accompanied by military music. Max and Thekla hold one another in a long embrace.)

Scene Twenty-Two

As above. Terzky.

COUNTESS (going toward him).

What was that? What’s the meaning of the shouting?

TERZKY. We’re lost, all lost, and everything is over.

COUNTESS. What? No retreat on seeing him?

TERZKY. Retreat? No.

It was no use.

DUCHESS. I heard a “Vivat!” for—

TERZKY. The Kaiser.

COUNTESS. Renegades! They’re renegades!

TERZKY. They wouldn’t let him even start to speak.

When he began, they started up the music

And drowned him out completely. Here he comes.2290

Scene Twenty-Three

As above. Wallenstein, accompanied by Illo and Buttler. Then Cuirassiers.

WALLENSTEIN (in mid-stride).


TERZKY. My Prince?

WALLENSTEIN. Our regiments are to stand in

Readiness to break camp today yet; we

Are moving out of Pilsen before evening.

(Terzky goes off.)


BUTTLER. My General?

WALLENSTEIN. In command at Eger is

A man you know, your countryman.267 Write him by

Express that he is to make ready to

Receive us in the fort sometime tomorrow.268

You’ll follow us and bring your regiment.

BUTTLER. It shall be so, my Marshal.

WALLENSTEIN (stepping between Max and Thekla, who are still embraced).


MAX. God!

(Cuirassiers with drawn swords enter the Hall and gather in the background. At the same time, bold passages of the Pappenheimer March sound below, as if to call to Max.)

WALLENSTEIN (to the Cuirassiers).

He’s here; he’s free. I shall no longer keep him.2300

(He turns away so that Max cannot reach him or approach the Young Lady.)

MAX. You hate me, drive me from you, all in anger.

The bond of our old love must tear apart,

Not loosen gently, and you’d make the rupture,

Already painful to me, still more painful!

You know I’ve not yet learned to live without you;

You send me out into a desert; all

I value, all I love remains behind.

Oh, do not turn your eyes away from me.

Show me your cherished, honored face once more.

Do not reject me—2310

(He tries to take his hand; Wallenstein withdraws it. He turns to the Countess.)

There’s no other eye

That shows compassion for me? You, Aunt Terzky—

(She turns away; he appeals to the Duchess.)

Most honored Mother—

DUCHESS. Go where duty calls

You, Count. Perhaps one day you will become

For us a true friend, our good angel at

The Kaiser’s throne.

MAX. You give me hope, would not

Abandon me to desperation. But

There’s no deceiving me with a mirage;

My sorrow’s certain; I am grateful to

The heavens for a means to end it all.

(The military music begins again. The Hall is filling more and more with armed men. He notices Buttler.)

You, too, here, Colonel Buttler? You’ll not follow2320

Me? Fine! Devote yourself to your new master

More truly than the old one. Promise me,

Give me your hand, that you’ll protect his life.

(Buttler refuses his hand.)

He’s under Kaiser’s ban. His princely head’s

Exposed to any cut-throat who’d collect

The prize that’s offered for the bloody deed.

He’d need a friend’s devoted care, love’s sharp eye.

The men I see about him as I leave—

(He casts doubtful glances on Illo and Buttler.)

ILLO. All rogues you’ll find in Gallas’ and your father’s

Camp. Here but one remains. So, go! Relieve2330

Us of the sight of him. Take yourself off!

(Max makes one more attempt to reach Thekla. Wallenstein blocks him. He hesitates, in pain. Meanwhile, the Hall is filling and the horns sound below at shorter intervals and more urgent.)

MAX. Oh, blow and blow! Were they but Swedish horns and

Led us from here straight to the field of death,

And all the swords I see unsheathed before me

Had been plunged unopposed in my bare breast!

What do you want? Have you come here to tear

Me from this place? Don’t drive me to despair!

Don’t do it! You could yet regret it.

(The Hall is full of armed men.)

More yet! One weight is added to another,

And their accumulating mass pulls me down.2340

What foolishness, if you would only see it,

To choose a man despairing for this role.

You rip me from my happiness. So be it!

To all the Furies I commit your soul.

You’ve chosen this man at a price too high;

All who would go with me prepare to die!

(As he turns toward the backdrop, movement ripples through the Cuirassiers; they surround him and escort him away in wild tumult. Wallenstein stands motionless; Thekla falls into her mother’s arms.)269


Bird’s Eye View of Eger. Engraving by Matthäus Merian, in Martin Zeiler, Topographia Bohemiae, Moraviae et Silesiae (Frankfurt, 1650), Image in the public domain.

Act Four

In the House of the Mayor at Eger

Scene One

BUTTLER (just arriving).270

He has come in. His fate has led him here.

The sliding gate has fallen shut behind him.

Just as the drawbridge that he crossed came down

And rose again, just so is rescue now cut2350

Off. Thus far, Friedland, and no further! says

The fateful goddess. Your steep meteor rose

From the Bohemian earth and traced its bright path

Across the heavens; on the border of

Bohemia it must now descend again.

You turned your back on the old banners, yet,

Deceived, struck blind, you trust in your old luck!

You armed your evil hand to take the war

Into the Kaiser’s country, to throw over

The Lares who protect the sacred hearth.2360

Be on your guard! You’re driven by a low

Wish for revenge—revenge may yet undo you.

Scene Two

Buttler and Gordon.

GORDON. It’s you? Oh, how I’ve longed to speak with you!

The Duke a traitor? God have mercy on us!

In flight? A ban upon his princely head!

I beg you, General, tell me in detail

How all these things in Pilsen came about.271

BUTTLER. Did you receive the letter that I sent

Ahead by special messenger from Pilsen?

GORDON. And faithfully discharged what you had ordered:2370

Opened the fortress to him absolutely,

For an Imperial letter orders me

To follow blindly your command, no other.

But, pardon! When I saw the Prince himself

Just now, I had to doubt what I had heard.

In truth! It was not as an outlaw that

Duke Friedland made his entrance into Eger.

His forehead shone, as ever, bright with a

Commander’s majesty, demanding fealty;

Calmly, as in days of good order, he2380

Relieved me of responsibility.

Misfortune creates garrulousness, so does

Guilt; fallen greatness seeks to please and flatter,

And bends to seek the level of subalterns.

The Prince, however, weighed his words, was sparing

With his approval, as a master praises

A servant who’s done no more than his duty.

BUTTLER. It happened just exactly as I wrote you:

The Prince has sold the army to the foe,

Intends to open Prague and Eger to him.2390

On hearing news of this, the regiments

Have all abandoned him except for five

That belong to Terzky and have followed him here.

A ban is spoken over him, and all

True servants of the Crown are summoned to

Deliver him, be he alive or dead.

GORDON. A traitor to the Kaiser—such a man!

So highly gifted! What is human greatness!

I often said that this cannot end well.

His grandeur and his power became a trap2400

For him, and this dark sway of despotism.

For man, like weeds, expands, grows wild; one can

Not leave him to his own restraint. The law

Alone and unambiguous restrains him,

And ingrained custom’s moderating force.

In this man’s hands, however, power to

Make war was novel, not to say unnatural.

It made of him the Kaiser’s peer and equal,

And his proud spirit lost the art of deference.272

Oh, what a pity! Such a man! For none2410

Will likely stand secure where he has fallen.

BUTTLER. Save your complaint till he has need of pity;

He at the moment still is to be feared.

The Swedes are on the march, are nearing Eger;

They’ll join their armies soon unless we stop them.

This cannot be! The Prince is not to go

Again from here, for I have set my honor,

My life, no less, on making him a prisoner

Within these walls, and I count on your help.273

GORDON. If only I had never seen the day!2420

His very hand awarded me this post,

Entrusted to my care this stronghold that

You call upon me now to make his prison.

Subalterns, we have no will of our own;

Free men and powerful alone are privileged

To follow after their best human instincts.

Mere executioners of cruel laws

Is what we are. Obedience is the virtue

That all subalterns are forced to acquire.

BUTTLER. Do not fret at the close confines of your2430

Capacity. Much freedom means much error.

The narrow path of duty is secure.

GORDON. And everyone’s forsaken him, you say?

The happiness of thousands he established;

His disposition was that of a king,

His hand was ever open, making gifts,

(with a sidelong glance at Buttler)

He chose and raised so many from the dust

To highest honors and to great prestige,

And purchased by his efforts not one single

Friend who stood by him in his hour of need!2440

BUTTLER. He has one here whom he did not suspect.

GORDON. No favor of his was bestowed on me;

I doubt that he, in all his greatness, ever

Remembered any friend from his first youth.

My service kept me far from him, and he

Lost me from sight within the walls of Eger,

Where I, beyond the reach of grace and favor,

Remote, forgotten, could keep my heart free.

When he appointed me to keep this castle,

His duty still remained his first concern;2450

It’s no betrayal of his trust if I am

Faithful to what my good faith took in trust.

BUTTLER. Would you then execute the ban that’s laid

On him? Give me your help arresting him?

GORDON (reluctantly, after pausing to reflect).

If it has come to—If it’s as you say:

If he’s betrayed the Kaiser, who’s his master,

And sold the army, wants to open the

Land’s strongholds to the foe, why then there is

No saving him.274 But it’s a hard thing that,

Among all others, it is my lot to2460

Be chosen, used, to bring about his fall.

For we were pages at the court of Burgau

Together; I, however, was the elder.275

BUTTLER. I know of this.

GORDON. It’s thirty years now.276 The bold courage of

That twenty-year-old youth already strove.

He showed a seriousness beyond his years;

He walked among us, silent, like a man, his

Attention always turned on greater things,

His own best company; our pleasures, those2470

Of boys and childish, held no charm for him.

But sometimes he was seized quite strangely. Thoughts

In streams, thoughts luminous and sensible,

Would then escape from his uncanny heart

And leave us boys astounded, asking ourselves

If this were madness or a god had spoken.

BUTTLER. And there he fell two stories, having

Dozed off in the embrasure of a window.

He then picked himself up again, unhurt,

But since then, they say, he’s known bouts of madness.2480

GORDON. It’s true that he became reflective, he

Turned Catholic. His miraculous salvation

Converted him. And henceforth he thought himself

A favored one, one who’d been liberated.

As bold as one who’s safe from ever tumbling,

He ran along the slack rope that is life.

Fate then led us away from one another,

Far, far away. He took the path of greatness;

I watched him scale the heights there, moving quickly,

Become first count, then prince, then duke, dictator;2772490

And now the world’s too small for him; he would

Put out his hand and capture a king’s crown,

And plunges into bottomless perdition.

BUTTLER. Leave off. He’s coming.

Scene Three

Wallenstein in conversation with the Mayor of Eger.278 As above.

WALLENSTEIN. You were once a free city? I see that

You carry a half-eagle in your blazon.

Why only half?

MAYOR. Once we were free Imperial,279

But for two hundred years we have been pawned

To the Bohemian crown. Thus the half-eagle.

The lower part is cancelled till it please2500

The Empire to redeem us.

WALLENSTEIN. You’d deserve

Your freedom. Ever prudent! Lend no ear

To restive elements. How steeply are you


MAYOR (shrugs). So that we can hardly meet the burden.

The garrison is kept at our expense.

WALLENSTEIN. You ought to have relief. But tell me now,

Are there still Protestants here in the city?

(The Mayor starts.)

Oh, yes. I know. There’re many still concealed

Within these walls. Confess it freely: you, too—

Not so?2510

(He fixes him. The Mayor takes fright.)

But have no fear. I, too, detest

The Jesuits. If I had my way, they’d long be

Beyond our borders. Missal, Bible, it’s

All one to me.280 And I have proved it to

The world: I had a church for Lutherans built

At Glogau. Tell me, Mayor, what’s your name?

MAYOR. Pachhälbel, my illustrious Prince.

WALLENSTEIN. Listen, but don’t tell anyone what I

Tell you in confidence.

(Laying his hand on his shoulder, with a certain solemnity.)

The day’s at hand.

The high shall fall, the lowly be raised up. Guard

This secret! Two-fold Spanish rule281 approaches2520

Its end. New order introduces itself.

You saw the three moons recently?

MAYOR. With horror.

WALLENSTEIN. Two took the form of bloody daggers, vanished.

One only, in the middle, stayed and shone.

MAYOR. We thought it meant the Turks.282

WALLENSTEIN. The Turks! Oh, no.

Two empires will go down in bloody combat,

To east and west of us, I tell you. And the

Lutheran confession only will survive.

(He notices the two others.)

We all heard heavy firing on our left283

As we approached at evening. Did you hear?2530

GORDON. We heard it clearly in the fort, my General.

The south wind carried the report to us.

BUTTLER. It seemed to come from Neustadt or from Weiden.284

WALLENSTEIN. That is the side from which the Swedes are coming.

How strong exactly is the garrison?

GORDON. One hundred eighty able-bodied men

And invalids.

WALLENSTEIN. In Jochimsthal how many?285

GORDON. Two hundred Arquebusiers have been sent there

To reinforce the post against the Swedes.

WALLENSTEIN. Admirable foresight. Breastworks, too, are being2540

Erected; I observed them as we entered.

GORDON. Because the Rhinegrave286 presses us so hard

I had two bulwarks hastily put up.

WALLENSTEIN. You are precise in service to your Kaiser;

I am content with you, Lieutenant Colonel.

(To Buttler.)

The post in Jochimsthal is to withdraw

With all who stand against the enemy.

(To Gordon.)

I put my wife, my child, my sister in

Your faithful hands, Commander. For I’ll not

Remain here long. I’ve stopped for letters only.2550

I leave the fort tomorrow at first light

And I shall take the regiments all with me.

Scene Four

As above. Count Terzky.

TERZKY. Good news! You’ll like this.


TERZKY. An encounter

Took place near Neustadt and the Swedes prevailed.


What’s this you’re saying? Where’d you hear these things?

TERZKY. A peasant brought the news from Tirschenreut,287

Said it began at end of day, near dark;

Imperial Riders coming out of Tachau288

Attacked the Swedish camp, broke in, set off an

Exchange of fire that lasted two full hours,2560

Cost them one thousand men, no less, among

Whom was their colonel. More he couldn’t say.

WALLENSTEIN. Riders in Neustadt? How did they get there?

That Altringer—he’d have to have had wings,

Stood yesterday good fourteen miles away;

Gallas is mustering still at Frauenberg

And isn’t nearly ready yet. Would Suys

Have ventured so far forward? This does not

Make sense.

(Illo appears.)

TERZKY. We’ll find out soon enough. Here’s Illo.

He’s in a rush and looking very pleased.2570

Scene Five

Illo. As above.

ILLO (to Wallenstein).

A mounted courier—he’s asking for you.

TERZKY. Do you have confirmation of that victory?

WALLENSTEIN. Who sent him? What’s his message?

ILLO. From the Rhinegrave.

I’ll let you know right now what news he brings.

The Swedes are standing just five miles from here.

Near Neustadt, Piccolomini threw himself

On them with his whole cavalry; there followed

An indescribable two-sided slaughter,

But in the end the greater number won:

The Pappenheimers, every one of them,2580

And Max, who led them, perished on the spot.

WALLENSTEIN. Where is this courier? I’ll speak with him.

(He is about to leave. The Lady Companion rushes into the room, followed by Servants who run through the Hall.)

NEUBRUNN. Help! Help!

ILLO and TERZKY. What is it?

NEUBRUNN. My Young Lady—

WALLENSTEIN and TERZKY. She’s heard?

NEUBRUNN. She wants to die.

(She hurries out. Wallenstein and Terzky, with Illo, rush after her.)

Scene Six

Buttler and Gordon.

GORDON (astonished).

What is the meaning of this scene? Explain.

BUTTLER. She’s lost the man she loved—the fallen colonel.

GORDON. Unhappy lady!

BUTTLER. You’ve heard the news this Illo brought us, how

The Swedes, who won at Neustadt, are approaching.

GORDON. Indeed I have.2590

BUTTLER. They are twelve regiments,

Five more are here—all to defend the Duke.289

My single regiment is all we have,

A mere two hundred in the garrison—

GORDON. Quite right.

BUTTLER. With such small numbers we’ve no chance of holding

A prisoner of the state.

GORDON. That I can see.

BUTTLER. With their superior numbers, our small clutch

Of men’s soon overcome, our prisoner freed.

GORDON. That’s to be feared.

BUTTLER (after a pause).

I warrant for the outcome here. It’s with2600

My head I answer for delivering his.

I’m bound to keep my word, wherever that may

Lead.290 If we cannot hold him here alive,

To hold him dead’s a certainty.

GORDON. Have I heard you correctly? You—you could—

BUTTLER. He’s not to live.

GORDON. That you could do?

BUTTLER. Or you or I. He’s seen his last day dawn.

GORDON. You’d murder him?

BUTTLER. Just such is my resolve.

GORDON. But he’s entrusted to you!

BUTTLER. His hard fate!

GORDON. His person’s sacred!2610

BUTTLER. That’s what he once was!

GORDON. No crime wipes out what he once was! And with-

Out judgment?

BUTTLER. Execution stands for judgment.

GORDON. That would be murder; that’s no justice. Justice

Must hear the guiltiest parties, even them.

BUTTLER. His guilt is clear: the Kaiser has passed judgment.

We only execute what he decrees.

GORDON. One does not rush a capital crime to judgment;

A word’s retracted, execution never.291

BUTTLER. A quick dispatch will always please a king.

GORDON. No decent man dispatches hangman’s service.2620

BUTTLER. No man of courage blanches at bold action.

GORDON. Courage would risk its life but not its conscience.

BUTTLER. Is he to go scot-free? Shall he go free to

Rekindle this war’s quenchless flame? Shall he?

GORDON. Then take him prisoner; there’s no need to kill him;

Do not anticipate the mercy angel.

BUTTLER. Had the Imperial forces not been beaten,292

I gladly would have held him here alive.

GORDON. Oh, that I ever opened these gates to him!

BUTTLER. It’s not this place, it’s his fate takes his life.2630

GORDON. I would have fallen chivalrously atop

These walls, defending this fort for the Kaiser.

BUTTLER. But at a cost of legions of brave men—

GORDON.—In line of duty: that which does men honor;

Murder, however, is abhorred by Nature.

BUTTLER (offering a document).

Here is the manifest that orders us

To take him. Notice it’s addressed to you as

To me. Do you assume the consequences,

If by our fault he flees and joins the foe?

GORDON. I, who am powerless? Oh, God above!2640

BUTTLER. Take all the consequences on yourself,

Assume the cost. I leave it up to you.

GORDON. God help me!

BUTTLER. If you know another way

To do the Kaiser’s will, produce it now:

I’d rather cause his fall than take his life.

GORDON. Oh, God! I see what has to be as clear

As you do, but my heart speaks differently.

BUTTLER. This Terzky, Illo, too, shall not survive him.

GORDON. Oh, those two I do not regret. What drove

Them was their wicked hearts and not the stars.2650

They sowed the seed of evil passions in

His heart and nursed the sorrow-bearing fruit

With busy interest. May they know in full

The wicked wages of their wicked ways!

BUTTLER. And they’re to be dispatched before the Duke.

It’s all agreed upon. We’d thought that we’d

Take them alive this evening at a banquet

And hold them here. But this is faster. I go

Now to dispense the necessary orders.

Scene Seven

As above. Illo and Terzky.

TERZKY. Things will be different now. Tomorrow early2660

Twelve thousand valiant Swedes come marching in.

Then to Vienna! Merrily, old fellow!

Don’t make so sour a face at such good news!

ILLO. It’s our turn now. Now we lay down the law.

We’ll take revenge on all the sorry rascals

Who have deserted us. One’s paid the price

Before the rest: that Piccolomini.

His fate befall them all! Oh, what a blow

For the Old Man. He’s spent his whole long life

Contriving princely honors to raise his old2670

Count’s house, and now he’s lost his only son!

BUTTLER. Still, it’s a shame about that boy. He had a

Hero’s heart. One saw how it grieved the Duke.293

ILLO. Listen, old friend! That’s what I never liked

About the Duke; it always angered me:

He loved the Latins more. And to this day,

Upon my soul, he’d see us ten times dead,

If he could bring his friend to life again.

TERZKY. Enough! No more! The dead should rest in peace.

Today we see who can outdrink the others.2680

Your regiment plays host to all of us.

We’ll make the lustiest Shrovetide of it, turn

Night into day, and then receive the Swedes,

Their avant-garde, our glasses brimming over.

ILLO. Today and all night long let us make merry,

For hot days lie ahead. This sword won’t rest

Till it has drunk its fill of Austria’s blood.294

GORDON. What way of talking is this, Field Marshal!

Why would you rage against your Kaiser so—

BUTTLER. Don’t hope too much from this first victory.2690

Be mindful how soon Fortune’s wheel is turned.

The Kaiser’s not defeated yet—far from it.

ILLO. The Kaiser has his soldiers—no field captain,

For this King Ferdinand of Hungary

Does not know war. And Gallas? Has no luck;

He is, has always been, a hopeless bungler.

That snake Octavio can strike you in

The heel, but not match Friedland in the field.

TERZKY. It can’t go wrong, just believe me. Luck will not

Desert the Duke; it’s widely known that Austria2700

Can triumph only under Wallenstein.

ILLO. The Prince will be the first to gather a

Great army. All the world is streaming in,

Drawn by the ancient glory of his banners.

I see the old days coming back;

He’ll be again the great man that he was,

And all those who deserted him will see,

Dismayed, how they’ve poked themselves in the eye.

For he’ll enrich his friends with vast estates,

Give kaiser’s wages for all loyal service,2710

And we are first in line to taste his bounty.

(To Gordon.)

And you he will remember, too, will lift

You out of this backwater, let your good faith

Display its glory in a higher posting.

GORDON. I am content, have no desire to climb

Still higher; great heights always mean great depths.

ILLO. You’ll have no further say here soon enough,

The Swedes will occupy the fort tomorrow.

Come, Terzky, it will soon be time for dinner.

How’s this idea? We’ll have the whole town lighted2720

In honor of the Swedish army. One who

Refuses is a Spaniard and a traitor.

TERZKY. Stop that! You know the Duke dislikes such talk.

ILLO. Oh, nonsense! We’re the masters here. No one

Sides with the Kaiser where we are in charge.

Gordon, good night. The last time we commend

The place to your protection; send patrols

Out, and for safety you can change the password.

The stroke of ten, you bring the Duke the keys

Yourself. Your time as turnkey’s run its course;2730

The Swedes will occupy the fort tomorrow.

TERZKY (leaving, to Buttler).

You’re coming to the castle?295

BUTTLER. In good time.

(Exeunt Terzky, Illo.)

Scene Eight

Buttler and Gordon.

GORDON (gazing after them).

What lost souls! With no inkling whatsoever

They rush ahead into the nets that death

Has spread them, blinded by their certain triumph.

No one regrets them. Illo there, arch-villain,

Impudent knave, who’d drink his Kaiser’s blood!

BUTTLER. Do as he orders you: send out patrols

And make the fort secure; once they’re up there,

I’ll lock up every entry of that castle,2740

So that the town knows nothing of the deed.

GORDON (anxious).

No need to rush so. Tell me first—

BUTTLER. You heard:

Tomorrow belongs to Sweden. We’ve but tonight.

They’re fast and we’ll be faster yet. Farewell!

GORDON. Oh, God! Your glances augur nothing good.

I beg you, promise me—

BUTTLER. The sun is down.

A fateful evening rises. Their conceit

Meanwhile makes them cocksure. And yet, the while,

Their evil star delivers them defenseless

Into our hands. Amid their drunken reveling2750

Our sharpened steel will slice their hearts in two.

The Prince was always a great reckoner;

Nothing there was he could not calculate.

He could set men, he could manipulate

Them like chess pieces, make them serve his ends.

He had no scruple. He toyed with the honor,

Good name, and dignity of fellow men,

And calculated on and on until

His reckoning went wrong. His life slipped into

His calculation, and like Archimedes2760

He dies among his calculated circles.296

GORDON. This is no time to contemplate his faults!

Think rather of his greatness, of his kindness,

Of all about him that was lovable,

Of all the noble deeds he did in life.

Let them, like angels pleading mercy, block

The sword raised fatefully above his head.

BUTTLER. It is too late. I’ll feel no pity at

This point. I must think only bloody thoughts.

(Seizing Gordon’s hand.)

Just hear me, Gordon! It’s not hate that drives me—2770

I’ve no love for the Duke, not without reason—

But it’s not hate that makes of me a murderer.

His evil fate—bad luck, ill fortune—drives me,

The hostile constellation of all things.

Man thinks he acts as a free agent. Wrong!

He is a plaything of blind forces that spin

Free choice soon into grim necessity.

What would it help him if I heard my heart

Speak for him—I must kill him nonetheless.

GORDON. If your heart warns you, follow its direction.2780

The heart speaks in God’s voice. The works of men

Are calculations, are mere cleverness.

What do you hope to gain from bloody deeds?

No good will ever come of spilling blood!

Is this your stairway to the stars, to greatness?

Don’t believe it. Murder from time to time brings joy

To kings; the murderer, though, can never do so.

BUTTLER. You do not know, don’t ask. Why did the Swedes

Have to prevail,297 why do they come so quickly!

I’d like to leave him to the Kaiser’s mercy.2790

Nor do I want his blood; I’d let him live.

But I must keep my sacred word of honor298

And he must die, or else—hear me and believe—

I am dishonored if the Prince escapes.

GORDON. To save the life of such a man—

BUTTLER (quickly). What?

GORDON.—Is worth some sacrifice. Be noble-minded!

One’s honored by one’s heart, not one’s opinions.

BUTTLER (cold and proud).

The Prince is a great lord, and I am but

A little man—that’s what you’re saying. What

Does it concern the world at large, you think,2800

If base-born men do themselves honor or not,

So long as princes are preserved in standing.

Each man awards himself his worth. How I

Evaluate myself is my affair.

No one on earth is placed so high that I

Despise myself when I am placed beside him.

It is one’s will that makes one great or small;

Because I’m true to mine, he has to die.

GORDON. I’d as soon try to move a rocky crag!

Alas! No man begot you humanly.2810

I cannot stop you. One can only hope

Some god will save him from your fearsome hand.


Scene Nine

A Room in the quarters of the Duchess.

Thekla seated in a chair, pale, her eyes closed. The Duchess and the Lady Companion attend her. Wallenstein and the Countess in conversation.

WALLENSTEIN. How came she to find out so soon?

COUNTESS. She seems

To have suspected some misfortune. Word

About a battle frightened her in which an

Imperial colonel was said to have fallen.

I saw it happening: She flew to meet

The Swedish courier, questioned him and gained

The dreadful secret from him right away.

We missed her far too late; we hurried after2820

And found her lying, fainted, in his arms.

WALLENSTEIN. Completely unprepared to meet this blow!

(Turned to the Duchess.)

Poor child! How is she? Is she coming to?

DUCHESS. She’s opening her eyes.

COUNTESS. She stirs!

THEKLA (looking about). Where am I?

WALLENSTEIN (goes to her and raises her in his arms).

Wake up, my child. Be strong and brave, my girl.

That is your mother; Father’s arms embrace you.

THEKLA (sitting up straight).

Where is he? Has he gone away?

DUCHESS. But who, my daughter?

THEKLA. The one who brought the news—

DUCHESS. Don’t think of him, my child. Try, turn your thoughts 2830

Aside. Such an unhappy recollection!

WALLENSTEIN. Oh, let her sorrow speak! Let her complain!

Weep with her, mix your tears with hers. She’s had

To bear great pain. But she can stand it, for

My Thekla has her father’s matchless heart.

THEKLA. Don’t think I’m sick. I’m strong enough to stand.

Why’s Mother weeping? Have I frightened her?

It’s passed now and my head is clear again.

(She has stood up; her gaze sweeps the room.)

Where is he? Don’t conceal him from me. I’ve

Regained my strength; I now want to hear him.2840

DUCHESS. No, Thekla. Such a bearer of misfortune

Should never come before your eyes again.

THEKLA. Father—


THEKLA. I am not weak at all,

And soon I shall be even stronger still.

Grant me a favor.

WALLENSTEIN. What you like. Tell me.

THEKLA. Summon this stranger. Let me speak with him

Alone, put questions to him.

DUCHESS. No, indeed!

COUNTESS. No! That’s not prudent! Do not grant her wish!

WALLENSTEIN. Why would you want to speak with him, my child?

THEKLA. I’m more composed if I know everything.2850

I’ll not be second-guessed. My mother wants

To spare me. Sparing is not what I want.

I’ve heard the worst of it already, worse

There cannot be.

COUNTESS and DUCHESS (to Wallenstein).

Oh, do not do it. No!

THEKLA. My horror took me by surprise. My heart

Betrayed me in the presence of a stranger,

Made him a witness of my weakness; why,

I sank into his arms. That shames me. I

Would reestablish myself in his esteem,

And, absolutely, I must speak with him, so2860

That for my weakness he not think me less.

WALLENSTEIN. I find that she is right and am inclined

To grant this wish of hers. Let him be called.

(The Lady Companion goes out.)

DUCHESS. I, as your mother, must be present here.

THEKLA. I’d rather speak with him alone, for that

Enables me to summon more composure.

WALLENSTEIN (to the Duchess).

Just let it be. Let her resolve it with him

Alone. There’s pain that one must heal oneself.

A valiant heart will call on its own courage.

She’ll have to find the strength to bear this blow2870

In her own breast, not in that of another.

My strong girl! I’ll not see her treated like a

Woman, but rather like a heroine.

(He is about to go.)

COUNTESS (holding him back).

Where are you going? I heard Terzky say

You plan to march out early and intend

To leave us here.

WALLENSTEIN. Yes, you will have to stay.

I’ve put brave men in charge of your protection.

COUNTESS. Oh, take us with you, Brother. Do not leave

Us here in gloomy solitude, awaiting

The outcome of your action, sick with worry.2880

Present misfortune is borne easily;

Misgiving grows, however, horribly

When one awaits the news at a great distance.

WALLENSTEIN. Who said “misfortune”? Choose your words more aptly.

I entertain quite different hopes.

COUNTESS. Then take us with you. Do not leave us here

In these surroundings, this place of bad omen.

My heart weighs heavily within these walls,

And their damp fetid breath reeks of the crypt.

I cannot tell you how this place disgusts me.2890

Take us away! Come, Sister! You beg, too.

Ask him to take us with him. Help me, Niece.

WALLENSTEIN. I’ll change the auguries of these damp stones,

Make this the treasure house of all I love.

NEUBRUNN (returning).

The Swedish gentleman!

WALLENSTEIN. We’ll leave her with him. (Exit.)

DUCHESS (to Thekla).

How you grow pale, my child. You cannot speak

With him. Not possibly. Attend your mother.

THEKLA. Then we’ll let Neubrunn stay close by me.

(Exeunt Duchess and Countess.)

Scene Ten

Thekla. The Swedish Captain. The Lady Companion.

CAPTAIN (approaching respectfully).

My Lady—I ask that you pardon me.

My hasty word, want of reflection—2900

THEKLA (with noble self-possession).

You saw me in my pain, in my bereavement.299

Unhappy circumstance changed you too soon from

A stranger, made of you my intimate.

CAPTAIN. I fear that you must hate the sight of me

For bringing you such sorrowful report.

THEKLA. The fault is mine. I forced it from you—I did—

While you were but the voice of destiny.

My horror interrupted the account

You had begun. I bid you now continue.

CAPTAIN (hesitating).

My Lady—Princess—it will cause you pain.2910

THEKLA. I am prepared for that. I will it so.

Tell. How did the encounter open? Tell all.

CAPTAIN. Expecting no attack, we stood encamped

And lightly fortified near Neustadt, when

Toward evening we observed a cloud of dust

Rise from the wood. Our Scouts, escaping back

To camp at speed, announced: The enemy!

We had just time enough to throw ourselves

On horseback, there the Pappenheimers came

In full career, broke through our barricade,2920

And leapt the trench we’d drawn around the camp.

But they, urged on by courage, had outrun

The rest; their Infantry was far behind;

The mounted Pappenheimers, they alone,

Had boldly followed their bold captain—

(He stops at a gesture from Thekla, then continues at her signal.)

Our Cavalry opposed them on the front

And flanks and pushed them back against the trench,

Where all our Infantry, assembled quickly,

Received them with a grid of pikes extended.

Caught, they could not advance, could not retreat,2930

Found themselves wedged between our closing lines.

The Rhinegrave then called to their captain, bade him

Yield honorably, acknowledging fair combat,

But Colonel Piccolomini—

(Thekla, feeling faint, reaches for a chair.)

we knew him

By his aigrette and by his streaming hair,

Come loose in his full gallop toward attack—

Points to the trench, leaps his mount back across;

His regiment then plunges after. But—

Too late—His charger, piked, rears up wildly

And throws the rider, over whom the full force2940

Of all his Horse then thunders, unrestrained.

(Thekla, who has followed the account with growing anxiety, is seized by trembling and about to fall. The Lady Companion hurries to receive her in her arms.)

NEUBRUNN. My dearest Lady—

CAPTAIN (touched). I should take my leave.

THEKLA. It’s passed now. You may finish. Please continue.

CAPTAIN. His men were seized with rage to see him fall;

Giving no thought to their own safety, they

Fight on like tigers, and their adamant

Resistance stirs our own to equal fury;

Their combat rages on until the last

Man’s fallen, the whole corps has been destroyed.

THEKLA (her voice trembling).

And where—Where is—You’ve not yet told me all.2950

CAPTAIN (after a pause).

We buried him this morning. Twelve young men

Of noblest houses carried him; the whole

Army accompanied his wreathed bier,

On which the Rhinegrave had laid his own sword.

We mourned him truly: many of our number

Had known his gentle manners, his great heart,

And all were touched to see his fate. The Rhine-

Grave gladly would have saved him, had he not

Prevented it. They say he wished to die.

NEUBRUNN (touched, to Thekla, who has covered her face).

My dearest Lady! Look at me, my Lady!2960

Oh, why did you insist on hearing this?

THEKLA. Where is his grave?

CAPTAIN. He’s laid in earth near Neustadt—

It’s in the chapel of a cloister—until

Word of his father’s wishes reaches us.

THEKLA. The cloister’s called—?

CAPTAIN. Saint Katharine’s Court.

THEKLA. And it’s how far from here?

CAPTAIN. It’s seven miles.300

THEKLA. How does one reach it?

CAPTAIN. One goes through our posts

At Tirschenreut and Falkenberg to start.

THEKLA. Who’s the commander?

CAPTAIN. Colonel Seckendorf.

THEKLA (taking a ring from a jewel box).

You saw me in my pain, in my bereavement;2970

You’ve shown me a kind heart. Receive this token

(giving him the ring)

In memory of this moment. You may go.

CAPTAIN (startled). My Princess—

(Thekla signals him to go and quits him. The Captain hesitates, wishing to speak. The Lady Companion repeats the signal. He leaves the scene.)

Scene Eleven

Thekla. Neubrunn.

THEKLA (embracing Neubrunn).

And now, good Neubrunn, show me all the love

That you have praised me for and prove yourself

A loyal friend, a tried and true companion!

We must set out, now, in the night.

NEUBRUNN. Now? Where to?

THEKLA. Where to? There is but one place in the world!

To where he’s lying buried, to his grave.

NEUBRUNN. But what shall you do there, my dearest Lady?2980

THEKLA. You’d not ask, had you ever loved, poor child.

There, only there, lies all that’s left of him;

That single spot to me is all the world.

Oh, don’t delay me. Come, let us begin.

First we must find how we’ll escape from here.

NEUBRUNN. Your father’s anger—have you thought of that?

THEKLA. No more. For no man’s anger frightens me.

NEUBRUNN. The world’s contempt! Its blame! Its wagging tongues!

THEKLA. I go to seek a man who is no more.

Is it into his arms that I would go?2990

God, no. Into his grave, that’s where I go.

NEUBRUNN. But just the two of us? Two helpless women?

THEKLA. We’ll carry weapons. You’ll be safe with me.

NEUBRUNN. In darkest night?

THEKLA. We’ll be concealed by night.

NEUBRUNN. A night with such a storm?

THEKLA. Was he spared, lying

Beneath the hooves of wild retreating horses?

NEUBRUNN. Oh, God! And then the many enemy posts!

They’ll never let us through.

THEKLA. These are but men,

And sorrow wanders freely through the world.

NEUBRUNN. But it’s so far—3000

THEKLA. Do pilgrims count the miles

On pilgrimages to a distant shrine?301

NEUBRUNN. How shall we ever come out of the city?

THEKLA. Gold opens every gate. Now go, just go.

NEUBRUNN. And if they know us?

THEKLA. They should take a woman

Fleeing, despairing, to be Friedland’s daughter?

NEUBRUNN. And where shall we find horses for our flight?

THEKLA. My master of the horse will bring them. Call him.

NEUBRUNN. He’d dare without his Lordship’s knowing it?

THEKLA. Yes, he would dare. So go now! No more delaying!

NEUBRUNN. And what will happen to your mother when3010

She finds you missing?

THEKLA (staring straight ahead, thoughtful and pained).

Mother! Oh, my mother!

NEUBRUNN. She’s suffered so much for so long, your mother;

Is she to suffer this last blow as well?

THEKLA. I cannot spare her. Go now, please. Just go.

NEUBRUNN. Consider carefully what you are doing.

THEKLA. All is considered that can be considered.

NEUBRUNN. And once we’re there, what shall become of you?

THEKLA. There I’ll look to a god for inspiration.

NEUMANN. You have no peace of mind, my Lady, and this

Wild journey through the night can’t lead to peace.3020

THEKLA. To deepest peace, the peace that he has found.302

Oh, go! Be quick! Enough of all this chatter!

I’m pulled away—I don’t know what to call it—

Pulled irresistibly to find his grave!

There I shall find relief immediately!

This suffocating sash of pain will be

Released, my dammed up tears will flow at last.

Oh, go. We could have set out long ago.

I’ll find no peace until I have escaped

These walls; they’re falling in on me, collapsing.3030

Oh, some dark force ejects me, drives me out

Away from here. What kind of feeling is this?

The rooms of this house fill themselves for me more

And more with pallid, hollow spectral shapes;

I can no longer find space here. Still more!

This horrifying grim assembly drives me,

Alive still, out, forth from these crushing walls!

NEUBRUNN. You’ve thrown me into such a pitch of terror,

My Lady, that I dare not stay myself.

I’m going now. I’ll summon Rosenberg. (Exit.)3040

Scene Twelve


His spirit is what calls me. It’s the troop

Of loyal men who sacrificed themselves

For him, avenged him. They charge me with dawdling.

Even in death they’d not abandon him,

Who led them while they lived. These simple men

Did such a thing, and I should still live on? No!

The somber laurel wreath that graced your bier

Was also wound for me, its bright leaves darkly gleaming.

Without love’s brightness what worth has life here?

I now discard it; it has lost its meaning.3050

Oh, when I found you, you so bright and beaming

With love, my life found priceless worth. There lay

Before me, splendid, new, a golden day;

I dreamt two shining hours, their glory streaming.

You stood upon my threshold to the world,

Which I traversed aquake with cloistral shyness,

Stood where a thousand shining planets whirled,

Stood as my guardian angel, wings unfurled

To lift me from a childhood’s magic wryness

Straight up onto life’s peak, its sun-struck highness.3060

I knew a joy like none I’d known since birth,

A gift from you, my best on earth.

(She falls into reflection, then continues, shuddering.)

Fate overtakes us. Raw and cold

It snatches my friend’s life into its hold,

Flings him beneath the fell hooves of his horses:

The fate of beauty that the world enforces.

Scene Thirteen

Thekla. The Lady Companion with the Equerry.

NEUBRUNN. My Lady, here he is and he is willing.

THEKLA. Will you procure us horses, Rosenberg?303

EQUERRY. Yes, I’ll procure them.

THEKLA. And accompany us?

EQUERRY. My Lady, to the end of the world.3070

THEKLA. You can’t

Return then to the Duke.

EQUERRY. I’ll stay with you.


Reward you and commend you to another.

And can you lead us from the fort unseen?


THEKLA. When can I go?

EQUERRY. This very hour.

Your destination?

THEKLA. To—You tell him, Neubrunn.

NEUBRUNN. To Neustadt.

EQUERRY. Fine. I’ll go make the arrangements. (Exit.)

NEUBRUNN. My Lady, here’s your mother.

THEKLA. Oh, dear God!

Scene Fourteen

Thekla. The Lady Companion. The Duchess.

DUCHESS. He’s gone now, and I find that you’re more calm.

THEKLA. I am. Let me lie down soon, Mother, and

Let Neubrunn stay with me. It’s rest I need.3080

DUCHESS. And you shall have it. I go away relieved,

Since I can reassure your father now.

THEKLA. Good night, dear Mother.

(She falls into her arms and embraces her with emotion.)

DUCHESS. Daughter, you’re not yet

Entirely calm. You’re trembling. I can feel

On mine how hard your heart is beating.


Will still it soon. Good night, beloved Mother!304

(As she leaves her mother’s arms, the Curtain falls.)

Act Five

Buttler’s Room

Scene One305

Buttler. Major Geraldin.

BUTTLER. You’ll choose twelve stout Dragoons, whom you’ll equip

With pikes—no shot may fall—conceal them near

The banquet hall, and when the final course

Has been brought in, you burst into the room,3090

Crying: Who is the Kaiser’s friend? I shall

Upend the table, while you throw yourselves

On both of them and strike them down. I’ll have

The castle locked up tight and closely guarded,

So that no word of this can reach the Prince.

Go now. Have you sent after Captains Macdonald

And Deveroux?

GERALDIN. They will be here right away. (Exit.)

BUTTLER. We can’t risk a delay. The citizens are

Declaring for him, too. Who knows what madness

Has seized the city! They see in the Duke3100

A lord of peace, founder of a new age.

The Council306 has provided weapons and

Already hundreds would stand guard around

Him. We must move out quickly, since we are

Threatened both from without and from within.

Scene Two

Buttler. Captains Deveroux and Macdonald.307

MACDONALD. My General, here we are.

DEVEROUX. Give us the password.

BUTTLER. Long live the Kaiser!

BOTH (starting back). What?

BUTTLER. Long live the House of Austria!

DEVEROUX. But haven’t we sworn loyalty to Friedland?

MACDONALD. Have we not been brought here for his protection?

BUTTLER. Protect a traitor and the Empire’s enemy?3110

DEVEROUX. Well, yes. It was to him that you assigned us.

MACDONALD. And you, too, followed him to Eger. No?

BUTTLER. I did it the more surely to destroy him.


MACDONALD. That’s something else again.

BUTTLER (to Deveroux). You wretch!

Desert your flag and duty with such ease?

DEVEROUX. The devil, Master! You set the example!

If you’re a rascal, I can be one, too.

MACDONALD. We don’t think twice. That’s your responsibility.

You’re the commander and you take command.

We follow you, to Hell if necessary.3120

BUTTLER (appeased). All right! All right! We’re old friends.

MACDONALD. I’d think so!

DEVEROUX. Soldiers of fortune—that is what they call us.

Who offers most, he gets us.

MACDONALD. Yes, indeed.

BUTTLER. Now you’ll become a pair of honest soldiers.

DEVEROUX. We’d like to.

BUTTLER. And you’ll make your fortune, too.

MACDONALD. That’s better yet.

BUTTLER. So, listen.

BOTH. We are listening.

BUTTLER. The Kaiser’s will and his command is that

Friedland be seized, be he alive or dead.

DEVEROUX. That’s what the letter says.

MACDONALD. Alive or dead!

BUTTLER. Handsome reward in money or in kind3130

Awaits the one who boldly does the deed.

DEVEROUX. That sounds just good enough. A word from there

Always sounds good enough. Oh yes, we know:

A little chain of gold to show his favor,

A crippled horse, a scrap of parchment, some such.

The Prince pays better.

MACDONALD. He’s magnificent.

BUTTLER. Don’t look to him. He’s done; his star has fallen.

MACDONALD. Is that for sure?

BUTTLER. I’m telling you.

DEVEROUX. He’s lost

His luck?

BUTTLER. Lost it now and forever. He’s

As poor as we are.3140

MACDONALD. Him? As poor as we are?

DEVEROUX. Macdonald, in that case we’ll have to leave him.

BUTTLER. That twenty thousand have already done.

We must do more, my fellow countryman.

Put briefly, we must kill him.

BOTH (recoiling). Kill him!

BUTTLER. Kill him!

And I have chosen you two.

BOTH. Chosen us?

BUTTLER. You, Captains Deveroux and Macdonald. You!

DEVEROUX (after a pause).

Choose someone else.

MACDONALD. Yes, yes. Choose someone else.

BUTTLER (to Deveroux). Afraid, you coward? Who already have

A tidy thirty lying on your conscience—

DEVEROUX. Lay hand on the Field Marshal—think again!3150

MACDONALD. To whom we’ve sworn a solemn oath—just think!

BUTTLER. The oath is null—along with his good faith.

DEVEROUX. Now listen, General! This is just too monstrous.

MACDONALD. That’s true. And, after all, we have a conscience.

DEVEROUX. If it were only not our chief, who has

Commanded us so long, earned our respect.

BUTTLER. Is that the stumbling block?

DEVEROUX. Whoever else

You want! My son, my very own, if Kaiser’s

Service requires—my sword will run him through.

But don’t you see? We’re soldiers: murder the3160

Field marshal—that’s an outrage; that sin no

Father confessor ever can absolve.

BUTTLER. I’ll be your pope; I grant you absolution.

Make up your mind.

DEVEROUX (thinking it over). It won’t work.

MACDONALD. No. Won’t work.

BUTTLER. Well, fine. Go then. And send me Pestalutz.308

DEVEROUX (startled). Who? Pestalutz? Hm.

MACDONALD. What’s your need of him?

BUTTLER. If you’re too good for this, then there are others—

DEVEROUX. Well, if he has to fall, then we’re as good

As any other to win that reward.

Aren’t we, Macdonald?3170

MACDONALD. Well, it seems to me,

If he must fall and should and can’t be different,

Then we should get that prize, not Pestalutz.

DEVEROUX (having thought it over).

When’s it to be?

BUTTLER. Today. This very night.

Tomorrow we’ll have Swedes before our gates.

DEVEROUX. Will you vouch for the consequences, General?

BUTTLER. I vouch for all things.

DEVEROUX. It’s the Kaiser’s will?

His pure and simple will? We know of cases

In which the murder’s loved, the murderer less so.

BUTTLER. The manifest provides: dead or alive.

Alive’s out of the question—you, too, see—3180

DEVEROUX. Dead, therefore. Dead. But how are we to reach him?

The town’s packed to the top with Terzky troops.

MACDONALD. And then there’s Terzky, too, and his friend Illo—

BUTTLER. We’re going to start with them, that much is clear.

DEVEROUX. What? They as well must be—

BUTTLER. They will come first.

MACDONALD. We’re going to have a bloody evening, Deveroux.

DEVEROUX. Do you already have your man? Take me.

BUTTLER. It’s been assigned to Major Geraldin.

It’s Shrovetide and a banquet’s to be held

This evening at the castle. They will be3190

Attacked at table and cut down. I’ve named

Leslie309 and Pestalutz as part of it.

DEVEROUX. Look, General! It won’t cost you anything.

Look—just let Geraldin change place with me.

BUTTLER. The smaller danger will be with the Duke.

DEVEROUX. Danger! The devil! You think that of me?

It’s not his sword—it’s his eye I’m afraid of.

BUTTLER. But what harm can his eye do you?

DEVEROUX. All blazes!

You know me, you have seen that I’m no molly.

But listen—it’s not been eight days—the Duke had3200

Me handed twenty gold pieces to buy

This coat, this warm coat, that I’m wearing now—

And if he sees me standing there, a pike

In hand—and sees the coat—and looks at me—

Then I—then I—death take me!—I’m no molly.

BUTTLER. The Duke gave you that coat to keep you warm,

And you, poor devil, cannot bring yourself

To run him through in retribution for it.

And from the Kaiser he received a coat

That will keep him far warmer—a prince’s mantle—3210

And he has thanked him how? With treason, that’s how.

DEVEROUX. That’s also true. The devil take my thanks!

I’ll—do him in.

BUTTLER. And if you want to soothe

Your conscience, you need only take that coat off.

Then you can go to work in finest temper.

MACDONALD. But then there’s something else we should consider—

BUTTLER. What’s there to be considered now, Macdonald?

MACDONALD. What help are sword and shield to us with him?

He can’t be wounded. Not him. He is tight.

BUTTLER (losing his temper).

What’s he to—3220

MACDONALD. Tight against a shot, a blow!310

He’s frozen, loaded with the Devil’s magic;

His body is impenetrable, I say.

DEVEROUX. Oh, I remember: in Ingolstadt there was

A man, his skin was hard as steel, and in

The end they used the butt-end of a musket.

MACDONALD. I have it!


MACDONALD. There’s a Dominican friar,

An Irishman, he’ll dip my sword and pike

In holy water, say a potent blessing;

That helps protect against all kinds of magic.

BUTTLER. A good solution. Go now, both of you.3230

Choose twenty, thirty solid fellows from

The regiment and have them sworn to Austria.

After eleven, when the early rounds

Have passed, lead them in perfect silence to

The house, where I myself shall not be far.

DEVEROUX. And how shall we get past the sentries, past the

Guards standing watch around the inner courtyard?

BUTTLER. I have informed myself how all’s laid out.

I’ll lead you through a rearward gate that’s kept

But by a single man. My rank and office3240

Admit me to the Duke at any hour. I’ll

Precede you, cut that guard’s throat, clear your way.

DEVEROUX. And once we’re up there, how to reach the Duke’s

Bed chamber without waking his attendants

And having them raise the alarm—since he

Has come here with an endless retinue.

BUTTLER. The servants all sleep in the right wing; he,

Who hates all noise, sleeps in the left, alone.

DEVEROUX. Macdonald, I can only wish it over.

God knows, it gives me a peculiar feeling.3250

MACDONALD. Me, too. This is too big a man for us.

We’re going to be taken for two villains.

BUTTLER. In glory, honor, and great wealth you can

Care less about what’s said and thought of you.

DEVEROUX. If only we were sure of all that honor.

BUTTLER. Don’t worry. You’ve rescued the crown and realm

For Ferdinand. Reward will not be wanting.

DEVEROUX. It’s his intention to dethrone the Kaiser?

BUTTLER. It is: to rob him of his crown and life.

DEVEROUX. And he’d have died upon the scaffold, had we3260

Delivered him alive back to Vienna?

BUTTLER. A fate that he would never have escaped.

DEVEROUX. Macdonald, come. Field marshal is how he

Should end, with honor and at soldiers’ hands.

(Exeunt Deveroux and Macdonald.)

A Hall from which a Gallery extends, reaching far to the back.

Scene Three

Wallenstein is seated at a table. The Swedish Captain stands before him. Then Countess Terzky.

WALLENSTEIN. My compliments to your commander. I

Participate in his good fortune; if

You do not see me show such pleasure as

News of this victory deserves, please believe me,

It is not absence of good will. Our fortunes

Hereafter stand united. Now, farewell!3270

Accept my thanks for all your effort. When

You come tomorrow, you will find the fortress open.

(The Swedish Captain leaves the scene. Wallenstein sits lost in thought, staring straight ahead, his head propped on his hand. The Countess enters and stands a while unnoticed. Finally, he moves abruptly, notices her, and quickly composes himself.)

You come from her? How is she? Is she better?

COUNTESS. My sister says she’s more composed now since

Her conversation. She has gone to bed.

WALLENSTEIN. Her sorrow will have softened. She will weep.

COUNTESS. You, too, my brother, I find altered. I’d

Expect to see you happier after victory.311

Be strong! For you’re the one to keep us standing

Upright. You are our lighthouse and our sun.3280

WALLENSTEIN. Don’t worry. I’m all right. Where is your husband?312

COUNTESS. They’ve gone off to a banquet, he and Illo.

WALLENSTEIN (stands up and walks through the room).

It’s black dark out, time you’d gone to your room.

COUNTESS. Oh, don’t send me away. Keep me with you.

WALLENSTEIN (at the window).

What a commotion raging in the heavens!

The weather vane is spinning in the wind,

Clouds flee across the sky, the sickle moon

Goes in and out, and through the upper dark

Uncertain light shafts flicker on and off.

No constellation to be seen. That dull3290

Sheen only, that’s from Cassiopeia; there

Jupiter should stand. He’s obscured by storm clouds.

(He sinks into reflection, staring outward.)

COUNTESS (contemplating him sadly, takes his hand).

What are you thinking?

WALLENSTEIN. I think that if I saw him it would help.

This is the star that’s shone for me since birth,

And seeing him has always strengthened me. (Pause.)

COUNTESS. You’ll see him yet again.

WALLENSTEIN (has fallen once more into deep distraction; he rouses himself and turns quickly to the Countess).

See him again? Oh, I shall never.


WALLENSTEIN. He’s lost. He’s gone.

COUNTESS. Who is it that you mean?

WALLENSTEIN. His is the better lot. For he’s perfected.3300

For him no future waits, for him no fate

Spins treachery; his life now lies laid out

Without a fold or wrinkle, and it shines.

Immaculate, it lies beyond time’s reach,

And he’s beyond both hope and fear, beyond

Unsteady, baleful planets that deceive us.

His lot is happy! For who knows what the next

Hour has in store for us, shrouded in black.

COUNTESS. It’s Piccolomini you mean. How’d he die?

The messenger was leaving as I came.3310

(Wallenstein stops her with a gesture.)

Oh, don’t look back! We’ll look to brighter days

Ahead. Be glad about the victory,

Forget what it has cost you. Not just now

Was your friend taken from you. He was lost

To you when he took leave of you. He died then.

WALLENSTEIN. Oh, I’ll be reconciled to this loss, that

I know. To what can one not be! Man learns

To do without the highest and the lowest

Things. Time itself brings him to acquiescence.

But I feel keenly what I lost in him.3320

The bloom has vanished from within, and my

Life lies before me, cold and colorless.

For he stood at my side like my own youth;

To me he made real stuff into a dream

And wove a golden mist like break of day

Around the common obviousness of things.

To my surprise, his fire of loving feeling

Raised into high relief the myriad

Flat figures that populate our daily lives.

Whatever I may strive for going forward,3330

The beauty of it’s lost, won’t come again, for

Greater than any happiness, there is the friend

Who, feeling, made it; sharing, magnified it.

COUNTESS. Do not despair of your own powers. Your heart

Is rich enough to give itself a life.

You love and celebrate on his example

Virtues you planted, caused to grow in him.

WALLENSTEIN (going to the door).

Who would disturb us here so late? It is

The Commandant. He brings the fortress keys.

So leave us, Sister. It is nearly midnight.3340

COUNTESS. I find it doubly hard to leave you now.

I am beset by fear.

WALLENSTEIN. By fear? Of what?

COUNTESS. That you might set out swiftly in the night

`And we, on waking, find that we had lost you.

WALLENSTEIN. Pure fantasy!

COUNTESS. For some time now my soul

Is haunted, plagued, by gloomy apprehensions;

I fend them off in waking life, and they

Return, attack my anxious heart in dreams.

Last night I saw you with your first wife,313 sitting

At table, both magnificently dressed—3350

WALLENSTEIN. That is a dream of happy premonition:

That marriage smiled upon me, made my fortune.

COUNTESS. Tonight it seemed I came to find you in

Your room, but as I entered it was not

Your room. It was the charterhouse you built

At Gitschin, where you want to be interred.

WALLENSTEIN. Your mind is dwelling lately on such things.

COUNTESS. But don’t you believe dreams come ahead to warn us?

WALLENSTEIN. There are such things, no doubt about it, but

I’d not describe as warnings dreams that merely3360

Announce that which is unavoidable.

Just as an effigy of the sun appears

Behind the mist before she comes, just so

Are grand events preceded by their ghosts;

Tomorrow walks abroad within today.

It’s always seemed remarkable to me

What’s said about the death of Henri Quatre.

The king could feel the shadow of the knife

In his breast long before the murderer, that

Ravaillac, had armed himself with it. All rest3370

Deserted him, his Louvre couldn’t hold him,

Drove him outside; the coronation of

The queen314 rang like a funeral; he heard footsteps

Seek him in all the alleyways of Paris—

COUNTESS. Your inner apprehension tells you nothing?

WALLENSTEIN. Nothing. Don’t be concerned.

COUNTESS (lost in dark reflection). Another time

You went before me, hurrying after you, down

An endless hall, across wide galleries—it

Went on and on—and doors were slamming to—

Panting, I followed you and could not reach you—3380

I felt a cold hand seize me from behind;

You stood there, kissed me, and then over us,

It seemed, a cover all in red came down.

WALLENSTEIN. That’s the red tapestry that lines my room..

COUNTESS (gazing at him).

If it should come to that—if I should see you,

Who stand before me now, pulsing with life—

(She falls weeping into his embrace.)

WALLENSTEIN. The Kaiser’s published ban distresses you.

But words are not enough. He’ll not find hands.

COUNTESS. If he should find them, though, my mind’s made up:

I carry all the remedy I need. (She goes off.)3390

Scene Four

Wallenstein. Gordon. Then the Chamberlain.

WALLENSTEIN. It’s quiet in the town?

GORDON. The town is quiet.

WALLENSTEIN. I hear loud music and the castle’s all

Lit up. Who’s doing all the celebrating?

GORDON. It’s for Count Terzky and the Field Marshal—

A banquet being given in the castle.

WALLENSTEIN (to himself).

To celebrate that victory. That sort

Is happy only when it is at table.

(Rings. The Chamberlain enters.)

Undress me. I’m about to go to bed.

(He receives the keys from Gordon.)

That makes us safe from every enemy,

Closes us up with our trustworthy friends,3400

For I am much deceived, if such a face

(looking at Gordon)

As this I see is masking a deceit.

(The Chamberlain removes his mantle, collar, and sash.)

Watch out! What’s fallen?

CHAMBERLAIN. The golden chain you wear has come apart.

WALLENSTEIN. Well, it has held together long enough.

(Looking at the chain.)

This was the Kaiser’s first great favor. He

Hung it about my neck as archduke, for

The Friaul War.315 I wore it out of habit,

Or superstition, if you will. It was

To be a talisman, was to bind fleeting3410

Fortune, as its first favor, for as long

As I, believing, wore it about my neck.

So be it. Henceforth I embark on a

New fortune; this one has just lost its virtue.

(The Chamberlain goes off, carrying the garments. Wallenstein stands up, makes a pass through the Hall, then stands before Gordon, contemplating him.)

How you make the old days come back to me!

I see myself at Burgau once again,316

Where you and I were pages at the court.

We often quarreled; while you were well-meaning,

You loved to play the moralist and to

Reproach me, saying I lacked moderation3420

And strove too high, pursued excessive dreams;

Instead, you urged a golden middle way.

Your wisdom, I’m afraid, has not proved useful;

It has led you to reach your limits early,

Would snuff you out in a bleak corner if

I didn’t interpose my grander stars.

GORDON. My Prince, the fisherman is glad to tie up

His tiny rowboat in a port of safety

When he sees stormy waters strand the packet.

WALLENSTEIN. You’re into port already, are you, old man?3173430

Not I. My undiminished courage is

Still bobbing, fresh and fine, on life’s great swells,

And Hope is still the goddess I would choose;

My spirit is a young man; why, compared

With you, I’d say the rapid years have passed

Quite traceless over my brown head’s full crown.

(He strides through the room, then stops on the side opposite Gordon.)

Who says that Fortune’s fickle? She was true

To me; she picked me from the ranks of men

With love and carried me up life’s stairway

On god-like arms, both powerful and kind.3440

My destined ways show nothing ordinary,

Nor do the lines that mark my palm. Who would

Use human scale to give my life its meaning?

It’s true: just now it seemed my tide had fallen,

But it will rise again. Floodtide will follow

Upon this ebb, soon now and swelling quickly.

GORDON. An adage comes to mind: Don’t speak too soon.

I’d not draw hope from a long streak of luck;

Bad luck is wed to hope as its companion,

And fear should haunt the man who’s blessed with good.3450

The scales of destiny are never steady.

WALLENSTEIN (smiling).

I hear the ancient Gordon speak again.

And well I know how earthly matters change.

The evil gods demand their pound of flesh;

The heathen peoples knew that long ago,

Preferred to it their chosen form of evil,

Fed human sacrifice to jealous Typhon.318

(After a pause, solemn and more quiet.)

I, too, have sacrificed to him. I lost

My dearest friend, lost him by my own doing.

No fortune’s favor can please me again3460

The way this blow has hurt me. Thus is all

Fate’s envy satisfied: one life is taken

In substitution for another. And

The bolt that would have shattered me is loosed

Instead against his unoffending head.

Scene Five

As above. Seni.

WALLENSTEIN. Is that not Seni? How beside himself!

What brings you to us in the night, Baptist?

SENI. Fear, Excellency, fear for you.

WALLENSTEIN. What’s this?

SENI. Flee, Excellency, flee before daybreak.

Don’t put yourself in Swedish hands.

WALLENSTEIN. What nonsense!

SENI (his voice rising).

Don’t put yourself in Swedish hands.3470


SENI. Don’t stay here waiting for the Swedes to come.

Impending evil threatens you, false friends;

The signs are dreadful; nets of your undoing

Draw tight around you even as we speak.

WALLENSTEIN. You’re dreaming, Baptist; fear has quite unhinged you.

SENI. Oh, do not believe that; come, see for yourself;

The planets say: misfortune by false friends.

WALLENSTEIN. False friends have long since founded my misfortune;

This prophecy ought to have reached me sooner;3480

For that I have no further need of stars.

SENI. Oh, come and look; come, look, and believe your eyes.

A gruesome sign stands in the House of Life. A

Close enemy, some monster, lurks behind

The beams that stream out from your star. Be warned.

Do not give yourself over to those heathen

Who’ve gone to war against our holy Church.

WALLENSTEIN (smiling).

That’s where this oracle is coming from?

Now I remember: You’ve not ever liked

My Swedish league. Go back to bed, Baptist.3490

A sign like that inspires no fear in me.

GORDON (shaken by this exchange, turns to Wallenstein).

My princely Lord, would you permit my speaking?

Often a humble mouth says something useful.

WALLENSTEIN. Speak freely!

GORDON. My Prince, if this were not an empty warning?

If holy Providence were making use of

This mouth for your miraculous salvation?

WALLENSTEIN. You both are raving mad, one like the other.

Misfortune coming to me from the Swedes?

But they sought my alliance, their advantage—3500

GORDON. If nonetheless their coming, that precisely,

Should hasten looming danger to you, should—319

(Kneeling before him.)

Oh, there’s still time, my Prince.

SENI (kneeling). Oh, heed him! Heed him!

WALLENSTEIN. Still time? For what? Stand up! I order you!

GORDON (standing up).

The Rhinegrave is not close yet. At your orders

The fortress will be closed against his entry.

If he would then besiege us, let him try.

This I can tell you: He will sooner meet

Perdition, he and all his men, beneath

These walls than weary our own brave defense.3510

He’ll find out what a pack of heroes can do

When it’s inspired by its heroic leader,

Whose earnest wish is to make good his error.

And that will touch the Kaiser, reconcile him,

For he inclines to mildness in his heart;

And Friedland, who’s restored to him contrite,

Will find a higher place in his good graces

Than he had ever known before his fall.

WALLENSTEIN (stares at him in silence, deeply startled and astonished).

Gordon, your eagerness has led you far;

Such is the privilege granted childhood friends.3520

Blood has been shed here, Gordon. Never can

I be forgiven, not by him. And if

He could forgive me, I would never let him.

Had I known at the start what now has happened,

That it would cost me my most cherished friend,

Had my heart spoken then as it now speaks,

Perhaps I would have reconsidered, perhaps

Not. At this point, though, why forbear? Too grave

Was its beginning for it to end in nothing.

We’ll let it run its course.3530

(He goes to the window.)

Look. Night has fallen. At the castle all

Is still meanwhile. Come, Chamberlain, bring light.

(The Chamberlain, who has entered quietly and has followed the conversation from a distance, comes forward, much moved, and falls at the Duke’s feet.)

You, too? But yes, I know why you would want to

See me restored to favor with the Kaiser.

Poor fellow! In Carinthia he has

A farm he fears they’ll confiscate because

He’s in my service. I should be so poor

That I cannot replace a servant? Well

Then, I’ll force no one. If you think that luck’s

Deserted me, then you may leave me, too.3540

Tonight you may undress me one last time

And after that go over to the Kaiser.

Gordon, good night.

I think that I will have a long, long sleep.

These last few days were torment quite enough.

See to it that they do not wake me early.

(He goes off. The Chamberlain lights his way. Seni follows. Gordon stands in darkness, following the Duke with his eyes until he has disappeared at the end of the Gallery. He expresses his pain in gestures, then leans sorrowfully against a column.)

Scene Six

Gordon. Buttler, initially behind the scene.

BUTTLER. Halt! All stand still until I give the signal.

GORDON (startled).

He’s come; he’s brought the murderers in already.

BUTTLER. The lights are out. They’re sound asleep in there.

GORDON. What shall I do? Shall I attempt to save him?3550

Shall I wake up the house, alarm the Guard?

BUTTLER (appearing at the back).

A faint light from the corridor. That leads

Into the Prince’s bedroom.

GORDON. Do I not break

The oath I swore the Kaiser? And if he

Escapes to reinforce the foe, do I

Not heap the consequences on my head?

BUTTLER (coming nearer).

Still! Listen. Who is speaking?

GORDON. Better I

Leave it to Heaven. Who am I to dare

To undertake so great a deed? In truth,

I didn’t kill him if he dies, but then3560

His rescue—that would be my deed, for which

I’d bear the consequences, I alone.

BUTTLER (reaching Gordon).

I know this voice.

GORDON. It’s Buttler!

BUTTLER. Gordon! You here

So late? Did he keep you so long?

GORDON. Your hand—

You’re carrying your hand in bandages?

BUTTLER. It has been wounded. That man Illo fought

With desperation till we finally laid

Him flat—

GORDON (shuddering). They’re dead!

BUTTLER. It’s taken care of.

Is he in bed?

GORDON. Ah, Buttler!

BUTTLER (urgently). Is he? Speak!

We can’t keep this concealed much longer now.3570

GORDON. He’s not to die. Not by your hand. The heavens

Don’t want your hand. You see that it is wounded.

BUTTLER. It’s not my hand that is required.

GORDON. The guilty ones

Are dead. Enough is rendered now to justice;

This sacrifice already satisfies.

(The Chamberlain comes down the Gallery, signaling for silence.)

He’s sleeping. Do not murder holy sleep.

BUTTLER. Indeed no. He’ll die waking. (About to go.)

GORDON. His heart

Is turned on earthly occupations. He

Is not prepared to go before his God.

BUTTLER. His God is merciful! (About to go.)3580

GORDON (keeping him). Grant him one night—320

BUTTLER. The coming moment can give us away. (Leaving.)

GORDON (holding him back).

A single hour!

BUTTLER. Let loose of me! How can

Reprieve so short help him?

GORDON. Oh, Time’s a god

Of wonders. In an hour ten thousand grains

Of sand run down, and human thought moves no

Less quickly. Just one hour. Your heart can change,

His, too. Or news can come; some fortunate

Event, decisive, salvaging, can fall from Heaven.

What can an hour not do!

BUTTLER. And you remind me

How precious every moment is. (He stamps on the floor.)3213590

Scene Seven

Macdonald, Deveroux enter with Halberdiers. Then the Chamberlain.

GORDON (blocking Buttler). You monster!

You’ll reach him only over my dead body,

For this is horrible beyond endurance.

BUTTLER (pushing him aside).

Silly old man!

(Trumpets in the distance.)

MACDONALD and DEVEROUX. That’s Swedish trumpets. Swedes

Before the walls! Quick now! Let’s get this done.

GORDON. God! Dear God!

BUTTLER. Go take up your post, Commander.

(Gordon plunges out.)

CHAMBERLAIN (rushing in).

Who dares make so much noise? The Duke’s asleep!

DEVEROUX (with a terrible voice).

It’s time for noise, my friend!

CHAMBERLAIN (shouting). Help! Murderers!

BUTTLER. Be done with him!

CHAMBERLAIN (impaled by Deveroux, falls at the entrance to the Gallery).

Jesu Maria!

BUTTLER. Break the doors!

(They step over the corpse and go down the Gallery. The sound of two doors being battered down, one after the other. Muffled voices. Clashing weapons. Then silence.

Scene Eight

Countess Terzky, carrying a light.

Her bedchamber is empty, she’s nowhere to

Be found, and Neubrunn, too, is missing, who3600

Was watching by her. Can she have taken flight?

Have taken flight to where? We’ll have to rush out

After, set everything in motion, find her!

How will the Duke receive this frightening news?

I wish my husband had come back from dinner!

Whether the Duke perhaps is still awake?

I thought that I heard voices here and footsteps.

Let me go down and listen at the door.

What’s that? There’s someone running up the stair.

Scene Nine

Countess. Gordon. Then Buttler.

GORDON (rushing in, breathless).

It’s all an error. Those are not the Swedes.3610

Do not go any further! Buttler! God!

Where is he? (He notices the Countess.)

Countess, tell me—

COUNTESS. You’re coming from the castle? Where’s my husband?

GORDON (horrified).

Your husband? Do not ask! And go on in—(About to leave.)

COUNTESS (delaying him). But not before you tell me—

GORDON (very urgently).

The world entire depends on this one moment!

For God’s sake, go! For as we speak—(Shouting.) Buttler!

COUNTESS. He’s surely at the castle with my husband.

(Buttler appears from the Gallery.)

GORDON (catching sight of him).

It’s all an error. Those are not the Swedes—

It’s the Imperials—they have penetrated—3620

I come from the Lieutenant General;

He’ll be here right away. Do not go further—

BUTTLER. He comes too late.

GORDON (lurches against the wall). Oh, merciful God—

COUNTESS (beginning to understand).

Too late for what? Who’s coming right away?

Octavio within the walls of Eger?

We’ve been betrayed! We’ve been betrayed! Where is

The Duke? (She rushes toward the Gallery.)

Scene Ten

As above. Seni. Then the Mayor. Page. Chambermaid. Servants running about in fright.

SENI (emerging from the Gallery, terrified).

Oh, bloody deed! What horror!

COUNTESS. Seni! What

Has happened?

PAGE (emerging). What a sight! How pitiful!

(Servants with torches.)

COUNTESS. What’s happened? In God’s name!3630

SENI. You’re asking still?

The Prince is lying in there, murdered. And

Your husband’s stabbed up in the castle.

(The Countess freezes.)

CHAMBERMAID (rushing in). Help!

The Duchess! Help!

MAYOR (entering, frightened). What horror wakes this house?

GORDON. Your house is cursed in all eternity.

The Prince lies murdered in this house of yours.

MAYOR. What? God forbid! (Plunges out.)

FIRST SERVANT. Away! Away! We’ll all

Be killed!

SECOND SERVANT (carrying a silver service).

This way! That way the stair is guarded.

CRY (from behind the scene).

Make way! Make way for the Lieutenant General!

(Hearing this, the Countess emerges from her paralysis, composes herself, and quickly leaves the scene.)

CRY (behind the scene).

Guards to the gates! Push back the mob!

Scene Eleven

As above, without the Countess. Octavio Piccolomini enters with his suite. At the same time Deveroux and Macdonald emerge from the back, accompanied by Halberdiers. Wallenstein’s corpse, wrapped in a red tapestry, is carried across the backdrop.

OCTAVIO (entering rapidly).

This cannot be! Not possible! Buttler!3640

Gordon! I cannot believe it. Tell me, No.

GORDON (gestures without speaking to the back. Octavio turns and stiffens

in horror).

DEVEROUX (to Buttler).

Here is the Golden Fleece322 and here his sword!

MACDONALD. Is it your order that the Chancellery—323

BUTTLER (indicating Octavio).

Here is the one who gives the orders now.

(Deveroux and Macdonald step back respectfully. Everyone melts away, leaving only Buttler, Octavio, and Gordon on the scene.)

OCTAVIO (turned to Buttler).

Was that our intention, Buttler, when we parted?324

By all God’s justice! I here raise my hand!

This monstrous deed cannot be charged to me. I

Am innocent.

BUTTLER. Your hands are clean. You

Used mine instead.

OCTAVIO. You shameless reprobate!

You misuse orders from your master to3650

Heap on your Kaiser’s sacred head a cheap,

Atrocious, stealthy murder by your hirelings?

BUTTLER (unmoved).

I’ve merely executed Kaiser’s judgment.

OCTAVIO. Oh, curse of kings that brings their words to life

And chains indelible deeds to fleeting thought!

Obedience had to come so quickly? You could

Not grant this gracious man an hour of grace?

Time is man’s guardian angel. Swift conclusion

Of judgment belongs alone to timeless God.

BUTTLER. Why scold me so? What crime have I committed?3660

Look! It’s a good deed I have done. I’ve freed

The Empire of a dangerous enemy,

And I shall claim my compensation for it.

The only difference here is just between

How you and I proceeded: You whetted

This arrow, I released it; you, who have

Sowed blood, now stand appalled that blood has sprouted;

I’ve always known what I was doing, and no

Success surprises me or frightens me.325

Would you have further orders for me? I’m3670

About to set out for Vienna, where

I’ll lay my bloody sword before the Kaiser,

Claim the approval owed me, that which swift

Obedience can require of a just judge. (Exit.)

Scene Twelve

As above, without Buttler. Countess Terzky enters pale and disfigured. Her speech is faint and slow, without affect.

OCTAVIO (advancing toward her).

Oh, Countess Terzky, must it have come to this?

The consequences of disastrous deeds.

COUNTESS. These are the fruits of your own doing: The Duke

Is dead, my husband dead, the Duchess in

The throes of death; my niece has disappeared.

This lordly house, this house of brilliance, stands3680

Stripped bare, and now through all its portals plunge

Its serving men and women, terrified.

I am the last to leave and I have closed it.

I now surrender all the keys.

OCTAVIO (deeply pained). Oh, Coun-

Tess, my house too has been stripped bare.

COUNTESS. Who’s still

To die? Who here is still to be mistreated?

The Prince is dead, the Kaiser’s vengeance can

Consider itself satisfied. But spare

The aged servants! Let their loyalty not

Be counted as a crime against them. Fate3690

Surprised my brother; he could not think of them.

OCTAVIO. No more mistreatment or revenge, Countess!

Grave guilt is gravely expiated and

The Kaiser reconciled. From father to

The daughter nothing passes but his fame

And his deserts. The Empress honors your

Misfortune, opens a mother’s arms to you.

Be fearless, summon trust, commit yourself to

Imperial mercy.

COUNTESS (looking upward). I commit myself to

Mercy of higher kind. Where is the Prince’s 3700

Corpse to be laid for its eternal rest?

At Gitschin, in the charterhouse he built, rests

The Countess Wallenstein, she who founded

His happiness. In gratitude he wished

To sleep beside her. Have him buried there!

For the remains of my own husband I

Request like favor. All our palaces

Belong to the Kaiser; give us in return

A grave among the graves of our ancestors.

OCTAVIO. You’re trembling, Countess, and you’re blanching. God!3710

How am I to interpret what you say?

COUNTESS (collects her last strength and speaks nobly, with animation).

You think more worthily of me than now to believe

That I’d survive the fall of my great house.

We thought ourselves not too obscure to reach

For a king’s crown. It was not to be.

We nonetheless think like a king and believe

A freely chosen death to be more decent

Than life lived out in absence of all honor.

Poison I’ve—

OCTAVIO. Help! Help here!

COUNTESS. It is too late.

My fate’s accomplished in the next few moments.3720

(She goes off.)

GORDON. A house of murder and a house of horror!

(A Courier enters, carrying a letter.)

GORDON (going to meet him).

What have we here? That’s the Imperial seal.

(He reads the address and gives Octavio the letter with an expression

of reproach.)

It’s for Prince Piccolomini.

(Octavio starts and, pained, gazes upward.)