S. T. Coleridge - The d**h of Wallenstein (Act 3 Scene 15) lyrics
WALLENSTEIN, TERZKY, ILLO, ten CUIRASSIERS (led by an ANSPESSADE
4, march up and arrange themselves, after the word of command,
in one front before the DUKE, and make their obeisance. He takes
his hat off, and immediately covers himself again).
Halt! Front! Present!
(after he has run through them with his eye, to the
I know thee well. Thou art out of Brueggen in Flanders:
Thy name is Mercy.
Thou were cut off on the march, surrounded by the Hessians,
and didst fight thy way with an hundred and eighty men through their
'Twas even so, general!
What reward hadst thou for this gallant exploit?
That which I asked for: the honor to serve in this corps.
(turning to a second). Thou wert among the volunteers that
seized and made booty of the Swedish battery at Altenburg.
I forget no one with whom I have exchanged words.
(A pause.) Who sends you?
Your noble regiment, the cuira**iers of Piccolomini.
WALLENSTEIN. Why does not your colonel deliver in your request according
to the custom of service?
Because we would first know whom we serve.
Begin your address.
(giving the word of command). Shoulder your arms!
(turning to a third). Thy name is Risbeck; Cologne is thy
Risbeck of Cologne.
It was thou that broughtest in the Swedish colonel Duebald,
prisoner, in the camp at Nuremberg.
It was not I, general.
Perfectly right! It was thy elder brother: thou hadst a
younger brother, too: where did he stay?
He is stationed at Olmutz, with the imperial army.
(to the ANSPESSADE). Now then—begin.
There came to hand a letter from the emperor
Who chose you?
Drew its own man by lot.
Now! to the business.
There came to hand a letter from the emperor
Commanding us, collectively, from thee
All duties of obedience to withdraw,
Because thou wert an enemy and traitor.
And what did you determine?
All our comrades
At Braunau, Budweiss, Prague, and Olmutz, have
Obeyed already; and the regiments here,
Tiefenbach and Toscano, instantly
Did follow their example. But—but we
Do not believe that thou art an enemy
And traitor to thy country, hold it merely
For lie and trick, and a trumped-up Spanish story!
Thyself shall tell us what thy purpose is,
For we have found thee still sincere and true
No mouth shall interpose itself betwixt
The gallant general and the gallant troops.
Therein I recognize my Pappenheimers.
And this proposal makes thy regiment to thee:
Is it thy purpose merely to preserve
In thine own hands this military sceptre,
Which so becomes thee, which the emperor
Made over to thee by a covenant!
Is it thy purpose merely to remain
Supreme commander of the Austrian armies?
We will stand by thee, general! and guarantee
Thy honest rights against all opposition.
And should it chance, that all the other regiments
Turn from thee, by ourselves we will stand forth
Thy faithful soldiers, and, as is our duty,
Far rather let ourselves be cut to pieces
Than suffer thee to fall. But if it be
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As the emperor's letter says, if it be true,
That thou in traitorous wise wilt lead us over
To the enemy, which God in heaven forbid!
Then we too will forsake thee, and obey
Hear me, children!
Yes, or no,
There needs no other answer.
You're men of sense, examine for yourselves;
Ye think, and do not follow with the herd:
And therefore have I always shown you honor
Above all others, suffered you to reason;
Have treated you as free men, and my orders
Were but the echoes of your prior suffrage.
Most fair and noble has thy conduct been
To us, my general! With thy confidence
Thou has honored us, and shown us grace and favor
Beyond all other regiments; and thou seest
We follow not the common herd. We will
Stand by thee faithfully. Speak but one word—
Thy word shall satisfy us that it is not
A treason which thou meditatest—that
Thou meanest not to lead the army over
To the enemy; nor e'er betray thy country.
Me, me are they betraying. The emperor
Hath sacrificed me to my enemies,
And I must fall, unless my gallant troops
Will rescue me. See! I confide in you.
And be your hearts my stronghold! At this breast
The aim is taken, at this hoary head.
This is your Spanish gratitude, this is our
Requital for that murderous fight at Luetzen!
For this we threw the naked breast against
The halbert, made for this the frozen earth
Our bed, and the hard stone our pillow! never stream
Too rapid for us, nor wood too impervious;
With cheerful spirit we pursued that Mansfeldt
Through all the turns and windings of his flight:
Yea, our whole life was but one restless march:
And homeless, as the stirring wind, we travelled
O'er the war-wasted earth. And now, even now,
That we have well-nigh finished the hard toil,
The unthankful, the curse-laden toil of weapons,
With faithful indefatigable arm
Have rolled the heavy war-load up the hill,
Behold! this boy of the emperor's bears away
The honors of the peace, an easy prize!
He'll weave, forsooth, into his flaxen locks
The olive branch, the hard-earned ornament
Of this gray head, grown gray beneath the helmet.
That shall he not, while we can hinder it!
No one, but thou, who has conducted it
With fame, shall end this war, this frightful war.
Thou leadest us out to the bloody field
Of d**h; thou and no other shalt conduct us home,
Rejoicing, to the lovely plains of peace—
Shalt share with us the fruits of the long toil.
What! Think you then at length in late old age
To enjoy the fruits of toil? Believe it not.
Never, no never, will you see the end
Of the contest! you and me, and all of us,
This war will swallow up! War, war, not peace,
Is Austria's wish; and therefore, because I
Endeavored after peace, therefore I fall.
For what cares Austria how long the war
Wears out the armies and lays waste the world!
She will but wax and grow amid the ruin
And still win new domains.
[The CUIRASSIERS express agitation by their gestures.
Ye're moved—I see
A noble rage flash from your eyes, ye warriors!
Oh, that my spirit might possess you now
Daring as once it led you to the battle
Ye would stand by me with your veteran arms,
Protect me in my rights; and this is noble!
But think not that you can accomplish it,
Your scanty number! to no purpose will you
Have sacrificed you for your general.
No! let us tread securely, seek for friends;
The Swedes have proffered us a**istance, let us
Wear for a while the appearance of good-will,
And use them for your profit, till we both
Carry the fate of Europe in our hands,
And from our camp to the glad jubilant world
Lead peace forth with the garland on her head!
'Tis then but mere appearances which thou
Dost put on with the Swede! Thou'lt not betray
The emperor? Wilt not turn us into Swedes?
This is the only thing which we desire
To learn from thee.
What care I for the Swedes?
I hate them as I hate the pit of hell,
And under Providence I trust right soon
To chase them to their homes across their Baltic.
My cares are only for the whole: I have
A heart—it bleeds within me for the miseries
And piteous groanings of my fellow-Germans.
Ye are but common men, but yet ye think
With minds not common; ye appear to me
Worthy before all others, that I whisper thee
A little word or two in confidence!
See now! already for full fifteen years,
The war-torch has continued burning, yet
No rest, no pause of conflict. Swede and German,
Papist and Lutheran! neither will give way
To the other; every hand's against the other.
Each one is party and no one a judge.
Where shall this end? Where's he that will unravel
This tangle, ever tangling more and more
It must be cut asunder.
I feel that I am the man of destiny,
And trust, with your a**istance, to accomplish it.
4 Anspessade, in German, Gefreiter, a soldier inferior to a corporal,
but above the sentinels. The German name implies that he is exempt
from mounting guard.