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Oct. How, Max. ? Look closer at this visitor, Attention, Max. an old friend merits-Rev'rence Belongs of right to the envoy of your sov'reign. Max. (drily) Von Questenberg!—Welcome-if you
bring with you
Aught good to our head quarters.
Ques. (seizing his hand) Nay, draw not
Your hand away, Count Piccolomini !
Not on mine own account alone I seiz'd it,
And nothing common will I say therewith.
(taking the hands of both)
Octavio—Max. Piccolomini !
O saviour names, and full of happy omen!
Ne'er will her prosperous Genius turn from Austria,
While two such stars, with blessed influences
Beaming protection, shine above her hosts.
Max. Heh -Noble minister! You miss your part.
You came not here to act a panegyric.
You're sent, I know, to find fault and to scold us-
I must not be beforehand with my comrades.
Oct. (to Max) He comes from court, where people are
not quite So well contented with the duke, as here.
Max. What now have they contriv'd to find out in him ? That he alone determines for himself What he himself alone doth understand? Well, therein he does right, and will persist in't. Heaven never meant him for that passive thing That can be struck and hammer'd out to suit Another's taste and fancy. He'll not dance To every tune of every minister. It goes against his nature—he can't do it. He is possess'd by a commanding spirit, And his too is the station of command.
And well for us it is so ! There exist
Few fit to rule themselves, but few that use
Their intellects intelligently.—Then
Well for the whole, if there be found a man,
Who makes himself what nature destin'd him,
The pause, the central point of thousand thousands-
Stands fix'd and stately, like a firm-built column,
Where all may press with joy and confidence.
Now such a man is Wallenstein ; and if
Another better suits the court no other
But such a one as he can serve the army.
Ques. The army? Doubtless!
Oct. (to Questenberg) Hush! Suppress it friend! Unless some end were answer'd by the utterance.Of him there you'll make nothing. Max. (continuing)
In their distress They call a spirit up, and when he comes, Straight their flesh creeps and quivers, and they dread him More than the ills for which they call'd him up. Th' uncommon, the sublime, must seem and be Like things of every day.—But in the field, Aye, there the Present Being makes itself felt. The personal must command, the actual eye Examine. If to be the chieftain asks All that is great in nature, let it be Likewise his privilege to move and act In all the correspondencies of greatness. The oracle within him, that which lives, He must invoke and question—not dead books, Not ordinances, not mould-rotted papers.
Oct. My son! of those old narrow ordinances Let us not hold too lightly. They are weights Of priceless value, which oppress'd mankind Tied to the volatile will of their oppressors.
For always formidable was the league
And partnership of free power with free will.
The way of ancient ordinance, tho’ it winds,
Is yet no devious way. Straight forwards goes
The lightning's path, and straight the fearful path
Of the cannon-ball. Direct it flies and rapid,
Shatt'ring that it may reach, and shatt'ring what it
My son ! the road, the human being travels,
That, on which Blessing comes and goes, doth follow
The river's course, the valley's playful windings,
Curves round the corn-field and the hill of vines,
Honouring the holy bounds of property!
And thus secure, tho' late, leads to its end.
Ques. O hear your father, noble youth! hear him,
Who is at once the hero and the man.
Oct. My son, the nursling of the camp spoke in thee ! A war of fifteen years Hath been thy education and thy school. Peace hast thou never witness'd! There exists A higher than the warrior's excellence. In war itself war is no ultimate purpose. The vast and sudden deeds of violence, Adventures wild, and wonders of the moment, These are not they, my son, that generate The Calm, the Blissful, and th' enduring Mighty! Lo there! the soldier, rapid architect ! Builds his light town of canvass, and at once The whole scene moves and bustles momently, With arms, and neighing steeds, and mirth and quarrel ! The motley market fills; the roads, the streams Are crowded with new freights ; trade stirs and hurries ! But on some morrow morn, all suddenly, The tents drop down, the horde renews its march.
Dreary, and solitary as a church-yard
The meadow and down-trodden seed-plot lie,
And the year's harvest is gone utterly.
Max. O let the Emperor make peace, my father!
Most gladly would I give the blood-stain'd laurel
For the first violet* of the leafless spring,
Pluck'd in those quiet fields where I have journey'd!
Oct. What ails thee? What so moves thee all at once ?
Max. Peace have I ne'er beheld ? I have beheld it,
From thence am I come hither : 0! that sight,
It glimmers still before me, like some landscape
Left in the distance,-some delicious landscape !
My road conducted me thro' countries where
The war has not yet reach'd. Life, life, my father-
My venerable father, life has charms
Which we have ne'er experienc'd. We have been
But voyaging along it's barren coasts,
Like some poor ever-roaming horde of pirates,
That, crowded in the rank and narrow ship,
House on the wild sea with wild usages,
Nor know aught of the main land, but the bays
Where safeliest they may venture a thieves' landing,
Whate'er in th' inland dales the land conceals
Of fair and exquisite, O! nothing, nothing,
Do we behold of that in our rude voyage.
Oct. (attentive, with an appearance of uneasiness)
And so your journey has reveal'd this to you?
Max. 'Twas the first leisure of my life. O tell me,
What is the meed and purpose of the toil,
The painful toil, which robb'd me of my youth,
* In the original:
Den blut'gen Lorbeer geb' ich hin mit Freuden,
Für's erste Veilchen, das der Merz uns bringt :
Das duftige Pfand der neuverjüngten Erde.
Left me a heart unsoul'd and solitary,
A spirit uninform’d, unornamented.
For the camp's stir and crowd and ceaseless larum,
The neighing war-horse, the air-shatt'ring trumpet,
The unvaried, still-returning hour of duty,
Word of command, and exercise of arms-
There's nothing here, there's nothing in all this
To satisfy the heart, the gasping heart!
Mere bustling nothingness, where the soul is not-
This cannot be the sole felicity,
These cannot be man's best and only pleasures !
Oct. Much hast thou learnt, my son, in this short
Max. 0 ! day thrice lovely! when at length the soldier
Returns home into life ; when he becomes
A fellow-man among his fellow-men.
The colours are unfurl'd, the cavalcade
Marshals, and now the buz is hush'd, and hark !
Now the soft peace-march beats, home brothers, home!
The caps and helmets are all garlanded
With green boughs, the last plund'ring of the fields.
The city gates fly open of themselves,
They need no longer the petard to tear them.
The ramparts are all filld with men and women,
With peaceful men and women, that send onwards
Kisses and welcomings upon the air,
Which they make breezy with affectionate gestures.
From all the towers rings out the merry peal,
The joyous vespers of a bloody day.
O happy man, O fortunate! for whom
The well-known door, the faithful arms are open,
The faithful tender arms with mute embracing.
Ques. (apparently much affected) O! that you should