Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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 ran? 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 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 1-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

(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 !

Oct. Come after me to Frauenberg, where now All, who are loyal, are assembling under Counts Altringer and Galas. Many others I've brought to a remembrance of their duty. This night be sure, that you escape from Pilsen. But. (strides up and down in excessive agitation, then

steps up to Octavio with resolved countenance.)

Count Piccolomini! Dare that man speak
Of honour to you, who once broke his troth.

Oct. He, who repents so deeply of it, dares.
But. Then leave me here, upon my word of honour!
Oct. What's your design?
But.

Leave me and my regiment.
Oct. I have full confidence in you. But tell me
What are you brooding ?
But.

That the deed will tell you.
Ask me no more at present. Trust to me.
Ye may trust safely. By the living God
Ye give him over, not to his good angel!
Farewell !

[Exit Butler. Ser. (enters with a billet)

A stranger left it,

and is gone.

The Prince-Duke's horses wait for you below.

[Exit Servant. Oct. (reads) “ Be sure, make haste! Your faithful

Isolan."
-O that I had but left this town behind me.
To split upon a rock so near the haven !-
Away! This is no longer a safe place for me!
Where can my son be tarrying?

Scene VI.

Octavio and Max. Piccolomini.

(Max. enters almost in a state of derangement from ex

treme agitation, his eyes roll wildly, his walk is unsteady, and he appears not to observe his father, who stands at a distance, and gazes at him with a countenance expressive of compassion. He paces with long strides through the chamber, then stands still again, and at last throws himself into a chair, staring vacantly at the object directly before him.)

Oct. (advances to him) I am going off, my son.

(Receiving no answer, he takes his hand.)

My son, farewell.
Max. Farewell.
Oct.

Thou wilt soon follow me?
Max. .

I follow thee? Thy way is crooked-it is not my way.

(Octavio drops his hand, and starts back.) O, hadst thou been but simple and sincere, Ne'er had it come to this—all had stood otherwise. He had not done that foul and horrible deed, The virtuous had retained their influence o'er him : He had not fallen into the snares of villains. Wherefore so like a thief, and thief's accomplice Did'st creep hehind him-lurking for thy prey ? 0, unblest falsehood! Mother of all evil! Thou misery-making demon, it is thou That sink'st us in perdition. Simple truth,

« ZurückWeiter »