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S. T. Coleridge - The d**h of Wallenstein (Act 2 Scene 6) lyrics

OCTAVIO PICCOLOMINI, BUTLER.

BUTLER.
At your command, lieutenant-general.

OCTAVIO.
Welcome, as honored friend and visitor.

BUTLER.
You do me too much honor.

OCTAVIO
(after both have seated themselves)
You have not
Returned 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.

BUTLER.
'Tis only the like-minded can unite.

OCTAVIO.
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 through Frauenberg. Did the Count Gallas
Say nothing to you? Tell me. He's my friend.

BUTLER.
His words were lost on me.

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

BUTLER.
Spare
Yourself the trouble—me the embarra**ment.
To have deserved so ill your good opinion.

OCTAVIO.
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 the enemy. The messengers are now
Full on their way to Egra and to Prague.
To-morrow he intends to lead us over
To the enemy. But he deceives himself;
For prudence wakes—the emperor has still
Many and faithful friends here, and they stand
In closest union, mighty though unseen.
This manifesto sentences the duke—
Recalls 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?

BUTLER
(rises).
His lot is mine.

OCTAVIO.
Is that your last resolve?

BUTLER.
It is.

OCTAVIO.
Nay, but bethink you, Colonel Butler.
As yet you have time. Within my faithful breast
That rashly uttered word remains interred.
Recall it, Butler! choose a better party;
You have not chosen the right one.

BUTLER
(going).
Any other
Commands for me, lieutenant-general?

OCTAVIO.
See your white hairs; recall that word!

BUTLER.
Farewell!

OCTAVIO.
What! Would you draw this good and gallant sword
In such a cause? Into a curse would you
Transform the gratitude which you have earned
By forty years' fidelity from Austria?

BUTLER
(laughing with bitterness).
Gratitude from the House of Austria!

[He is going.

OCTAVIO (permits him to go as far as the door, then calls after him).
Butler!

BUTLER.
What wish you?

OCTAVIO.
How was't with the count?

BUTLER.
Count? what?

OCTAVIO
(coldly).
The title that you wished, I mean.

BUTLER
(starts in sudden pa**ion).
Hell and damnation!

OCTAVIO
coldly).
You petitioned for it—
And your petition was repelled—was it so?

BUTLER.
Your insolent scoff shall not go by unpunished.
Draw!

OCTAVIO.
Nay! your sword to its sheath! and tell me calmly
How all that happened. I will not refuse you
Your satisfaction afterwards. Calmly, Butler!

BUTLER.
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 the 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 deserved not.
It might have been refused; but wherefore barb
And venom the refusal with contempt?
Why dash to earth and crush with heaviest scorn
The gray-haired 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.
[Lyrics from: https:/lyrics.az/s-t-coleridge/-/the-d**h-of-wallenstein-act-2-scene-6.html]

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

BUTLER.
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-earned honors!

OCTAVIO.
But tell me, did the duke approve that measure?

BUTLER.
Himself impelled me to it, used his interest
In my behalf with all the warmth of friendship.

OCTAVIO.
Ay! are you sure of that?

BUTLER.
I read the letter.

OCTAVIO.
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.

BUTLER.
Ha! what is this?

OCTAVIO.
I fear me, Colonel Butler,
An infamous game have they been playing with you.
The duke, you say, impelled 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 clown in it.

You have no enemy, no persecutor;
There's no one wishes ill to you. Ascribe
The insult you received to the duke only.
His aim is clear and palpable. He wished
To tear you from your emperor: he hoped
To gain from your revenge what he well knew
(What your long tried fidelity convinced him)
He ne'er could dare expect from your calm reason.
A blind tool would he make you, in contempt
Use you, as means of most abandoned ends.
He has gained his point. Too well has he succeeded
In luring you away from that good path
On which you had been journeying forty years!

BUTLER
(his voice trembling).
Can e'er the emperor's majesty forgive me?

OCTAVIO.
More than forgive you. He would fain compensate
For that affront, and most unmerited grievance
Sustained 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 labors inwardly
with violent emotions; tries to speak and cannot. At length
he takes his sword from the belt, and offers it to PICCOLOMINI.

OCTAVIO.
What wish you? Recollect yourself, friend.

BUTLER.
Take it.

OCTAVIO.
But to what purpose? Calm yourself.

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

OCTAVIO.
Receive it then anew, from my hands—and
Wear it with honor for the right cause ever.

BUTLER.
Perjure myself to such a gracious sovereign?

OCTAVIO.
You'll make amends. Quick! break off from the duke!

BUTLER.
Break off from him.

OCTAVIO.
What now? Bethink thyself.

BUTLER
(no longer governing his emotion).
Only break off from him? He dies! he dies!

OCTAVIO.
Come after me to Frauenberg, where now
All who are loyal are a**embling under
Counts Altringer and Gallas. Many others
I've brought to a remembrance of their duty
This night be sure that you escape from Pilsen.

BUTLER
(strides up and down in excessive agitation, then steps up to
OCTAVIO with resolved countenance).
Count Piccolomini! dare that man speak
Of honor to you, who once broke his troth.

OCTAVIO.
He who repents so deeply of it dares.

BUTLER.
Then leave me here upon my word of honor!

OCTAVIO.
What's your design?

BUTLER.
Leave me and my regiment.

OCTAVIO.
I have full confidence in you. But tell me
What are you brooding?

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

SERVANT (enters with a billet).
A stranger left it, and is gone.
The prince-duke's horses wait for you below.

[Exit SERVANT.

OCTAVIO (reads).
"Be sure, make haste! Your faithful Isolani."
—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!

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