Page images
PDF
EPUB

O my soul

Of the Citadel. 'Tis midnight. Leave me, sister !

Coun. O 'tis so hard to me this night to leave theeA boding fear possesses me ! Wal.

Fear? Wherefore ? Coun. Shouldst thou depart this night, and we at

waking Never more find thee ! Wal.

Fancies ! Coun. Has long been weigh'd down by these dark forebodings. And if I combat and repel them waking, They still rush down upon my heart in dreams. I saw thee yesternight with thy first wife Sit at a banquet, gorgeously attir'd.

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

Coun. To-day I dreamt that I was seeking thee
In thy own chamber. As I enter'd, lo!
It was no more a chamber, the Chartreuse
At Gitschin 'twas, which thou thyself hast founded,
And where it is thy will that thou should'st be
Interr'd.
Wal.

Thy soul is busy with these thoughts. Coun. What dost thou not believe, that oft in dreams A voice of warning speaks prophetic to us ?

Wal. There is no doubt that there exist such voices. Yet I would not call them Voices of warning that announce to us Only the inevitable. As the sun, Ere it is risen, sometimes paints its image In the atmosphere, so often do the spirits Of great events stride on before the events ; And in to-day already walks to-morrow. That which we read of the fourth Henry's death,

Did ever vex aud haunt me like a tale
Of my own future destiny. The king
Felt in his breast the phantom of the knife,
Long ere Ravaillac arm'd himself therewith.
His quiet mind forsook him; the phantasma
Started him in his Louvre, chac'd him forth
Into the open air ; like funeral knells
Sounded that coronation festival ;
And still with boding sense he heard the tread
Of those feet, that ev'n then were seeking him
Throughout the streets of Paris.
Coun

And to thee
The voice within thy soul bodes nothing ?
Wal.

Nothing.
Be wholly tranquil.
Coun.

And another time
I hasten'd after thee, and thou ran'st from me
Thro' a long suit, thro' many a spacious hall.
There seem'd no end of it-door creek'd and clapp'd ;
I follow'd panting, but could not o'ertake thee;
When on a sudden did I feel myself
Grasp'd from behind-the hand was cold, that grasp'd

me

'Twas thou, and thou did'st kiss me, and there seemd A crimson covering to envelope us.

Wal. That is the crimson tap'stry of my chamber.
Coun. (gazing on him,) If it should come to that—if

I should see thee,
Who standest now before me in the fullness
Of life

(She falls on his breast and weeps.) Wal. The Emperor's proclamation weighs upon theeAlphabets wound not-and he finds no hands.

Coun. If he should find them, my resolve is takenI bear about me my support and refuge.

(Exit Countess.

Scene II.

Wallenstein, Gordon.

Gor.

Wal. All quiet in the town?

The town is quiet. Wal. I hear a boisterous music! and the Castle Is lighted up. Who are the revellers ?

Gor. There is a banquet given at the Castle To the Count Tertsky, and Field Marshal Illo.

Wal. In honour of the victory.-This tribe Can show their joy in nothing else but feasting.

(Rings. The Groom of the Chamber enters.) Unrobe me. I will lay me down to sleep.

(Wallenstein takes the keys from Gordon.)
So we are guarded from all enemies,
And shut in with sure friends.
For all must cheat me, or a face like this

(Fixing his eye on Gordon.) Was ne'er a hypocrite's mask.

(The Groom of the Chamber takes off his mantle,

collar, and scarf.) Wal.

Take care-what is that? Gro. of the Cham. The golden chain is snapp'd in two. Wal. Well, it has lasted long enough. Here-give it.

(He takes and looks at the chain.) 'Twas the first present of the Emperor. He hung it round me in the war of Friule,

He being then Archduke ; and I have worn it
Till now from habit-
From superstition if you will. Belike,
It was to be a Talisman to me,
And while I wore it on my neck in faith;
It was to chain to me all my life long,
The volatile fortune, whose first pledge it was.
Well, be it so! Henceforward a new fortune
Must spring up for me ; for the potency
Of this charm is dissolv'd.

(Groom of the Chamber retires with the vestments.

Wallenstein rises, takes a stride across the room,
and stands at last before Gordon in a posture of

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

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

Art thou already

In harbour then, old man? Well! I am not.
The unconquer'd spirit drives me o'er life's billows;
My planks still firm, my canvass swelling proudly.
Hope is my goddess still, and youth my inmate;
And while we stand thus front to front almost,
I might presume to say, that the swift years
Have pass'd by powerless o'er my unblanch'd hair.

(He moves with long strides across the saloon, and

remains on the opposite side, over against Gor

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

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

Wal. (smiling) I hear the very Gordon that of old Was wont to preach to me, now once more preaching;

« PreviousContinue »