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SCENE V.

Octavio Piccolomini, Butler.

But. At your command, Lieutenant-General.
Oct. Welcome, as honour'd friend and visitor.
But. You do me too much honour.

Oct. (after both have seated themselves) You have not
Return'd the advances which I made you yesterday-
Misunderstood them, as mere empty forms.
That wish proceeded from my heart-I was
In earnest with you for 'tis now a time
In which the honest should unite most closely.

But. 'Tis only the like-minded can unite.
Oct. True! and I name all honest men like-minded.
I never charge a man but with those acts
To which his character deliberately
Impels him ; for alas ! the violence
Of blind misunderstandings often thrusts
The very best of us from the right track.
You came thro' Frauenberg. Did the Count Galas
Say nothing to you? Tell me. He's my friend.

But. His words were lost on me.
Oct.

It grieves me sorely
To hear it, for his counsel was most wise.
I had myself the like to offer.
But.

Spare
Yourself the trouble-me th' embarrassment,
To have deserv'd so ill your good opinion.

Oct. The time is precious-let us talk openly. You know how matters stand here. Wallenstein Meditates treason-I can tell you further

He has committed treason ; but few hours
Have past, since he a covenant concluded
With th' enemy. The messengers are now
Full on their way to Egra and to Prague.
To-morrow he intends to lead us over
To th' enemy. But he deceives himself;
For prudence wakes—the Emperor has still
Many and faithful friends here, and they stand
In closest union, mighty tho' unseen.
This manifesto sentences the Duke-
Recals the obedience of the army from him,
And summons all the loyal, all the honest,
To join and recognize in me their leader.
Choose—will you share with us an honest cause ?
Or with the evil share an evil lot.

But. (rises) His lot is mine.
Oct.

Is that your last resolve ?
But. It is.

Oct. Nay, but bethink you, Colonel Butler!
As yet you have time. Within my faithful breast
That rashly utter'd word remains interr').
Recal it, Butler ! choose a better party.
You have not chosen the right one.
But. (going)

Any other
Commands for me, Lieutenant-General ?

Oct. See your white hairs ! Recal that word!
But.

Farewell!
Oct. What would you draw this good and gallant sword
In such a cause? Into a curse would you
Transform the gratitude which you have earn’d
By forty years' fidelity from Austria ?
But. (laughing with bitterness) Gratitude from the

house of Austria. (He is going.)

Oct. (permits him to go as far as the door, then calls

after him) Butler: But.

What wish you ? Oct.

How was't with the Count? But. Count? what? Oct. (coldly) The title that you wish'd I mean. But. (starts in sudden passion) Hell and damnation ! Oct. (coldly)

You petition'd for itAnd your petition was repell’d—Was it so?

But. Your insolent scoff shall not go by unpunish’d. Draw !

Oct. Nay! your sword to ’ts sheath! and tell me calmly How all that happen'd. I will not refuse you Your satisfaction afterwards.-Calmly Butler!

But. Be the whole world acquainted with the weakness For which I never can forgive myself. Lieutenant General ! Yes, I have ambition. Ne'er was I able to endure contempt. It stung me to the quick, that birth and title Should have more weight than merit has in th' army. I would fain not be meaner than my equal, So in an evil hour I let myself Be tempted to that measure- It was folly! But yet so hard a penance it deserv'd not. It might have been refus'd; but wherefore barb And venom the refusal with contempt ? Why dash to earth and crush with heaviest scorn The grey-hair'd man, the faithful veteran ? Why to the baseness of his parentage Refer him with such cruel roughness, only Because he had a weak hour and forgot himself? But nature gives a sting e'en to the worm Which wanton power treads on in sport and insult.

Oct. You must have been calumniated. Guess you The enemy, who did you this ill service ?

But. Be't who it will—a most low-hearted scoundrel, Some vile court-minion must it be, some Spaniard, Some young squire of some ancient family, In whose light I may stand, some envious knave, Stung to his soul by my fair self-earn'd honours ! Oct. But tell me! Did the Duke approve that mea

sure?
But. Himself impell’d me to it, used his interest
In my behalf with all the warmth of friendship.

Oct. Ay? Are you sure of that ?
But.

I read the letter.
Oct. And so did I-but the contents were different.

(Butler is suddenly struck.)
By chance I'm in possession of that letter-
Can leave it to your own eyes to convince you.

(He gives him the letter.)
But. Ha! what is this?
Oct.

I fear me, Colonel Butler,
An infamous game have they been playing with you.
The Duke, you say, impell’d you to this measure ?
Now, in this letter talks he in contempt
Concerning you; counsels the minister
To give sound chastisement to your conceit,
For so he calls it.

(Butler reads through the letter, his knees tremble,

he seizes a chair, and sinks down in it.)
You have no enemy, no persecutor;
There's no one wishes ill to you. Ascribe
The insult you receiv'd to the Duke only.
His aim is clear and palpable. He wish'd
To tear you from your Emperor-he hop'd
To gain from your revenge what he well knew

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(What your long-tried fidelity convinc'd him)
He n'er could dare expect from your calm reason.
A blind tool would he make you, in contempt
Use you as means of most abandon'd ends.
He has gain'd his point. Too well has he succeeded
In luring you away from that good path
On which you had been journeying forty years!
But. (his voice trembling) Can e'er the Emperor's Ma-

jesty forgive me?
Oct. More than forgive you. He would fain compensate
For that affront, and most unmerited grievance
Sustain'd by a deserving, gallant veteran.
From his free impulse he confirms the present,
Which the Duke made you for a wicked purpose.
The regiment, which you now command, is yours.

(Butler attempts to rise, sinks down again. He

labours inwardly with violent emotions ; tries to speak, and cannot. At length he takes his

sword from the belt, and offers it to Piccolomini.) Oct. What wish you? Recollect yourself, friend. But. Take it. Oct. But to what purpose ? Calm yourself. But.

. O take it! I am no longer worthy of this sword.

Oct. Receive it then anew from my hands-and Wear it with honour for the right cause ever. But. Perjure myself to such a gracious Sove.

reign! Oct. You'll make amends. Quick ! break off from the

Duke!
But. Break off from him!
Oct.

What now? Bethink thyself.
But. (no longer governing his emotion)
Only break off from him !-He dies ! he dies!

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