Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Isa. My Lord ?
Phi.

I understand thee.
If thou didst yield to thy first impulses,
And not obey the stern behests of duty,
Thou wouldst behold him

.. as a step dame.
Isa. No:
Thou art deceived .... The Prince ....
Phi.

Is dear to thee.
Yet hast thou so much of true honour left,
That being Philip's wife, that Philip's son

Thou lov'st with .... love maternal. Carlos is then introduced, and the same artful form of speech is continued, whilst thus confronted, their mutual glances are watched, and the countenance of each is searched for evidence of the guilt of the other. When they are both dismissed, Philip thus impressively, but with the same cautious spirit of reserve, seeks from the minister a confirmation of his own suspicions.

Philip. Heard'st thou ?
Gom. I heard.
Phi. Saw'st thou?
Gom. I saw.
Phi.

Oh, rage!
Then the suspicion

Gom. Now is certainty.
Phi. And Philip yet is unrevenged?
Gom. Reflect.

Phi. I have reflected. Follow then my footsteps. We feel convinced that if this were sustained by excellent acting, no dramatic representation could possibly be more effective on the stage.

Alfieri sustains an undivided and almost breathless interest for the fate of his lovers to the final scene. The monkish dress and disguise as the apparition of Charles the Fifth is an expedient to force a denouement which is unworthy of the genius of Schiller, and more suitable to the catastrophe of a melo-drama than of a tragedy. “Il Filippo" is a web of calamity which is wound up by regular approaches. It is natural that Isabella should be thrown off her guard by Carlos's arrest: it is natural that she should believe the specious tale of the means provided for his escape, and eagerly accept the proferred aid to procure her last and secret interview with him in the prison :- it is natural that Carlos, whose feelings are then more calm, should perceive, on the instant, that that aid is the successful accomplishment of long-attempted treachery. He sees that she has been betrayed into a step which admits of no explanation. He asks but the name of the agent. She answers

-Gomez. It is sufficient. Philip, the dagger, and the cup, are anticipated before they appear.

In the opening of his plot, Schiller displays very considerable skill. Carlos, like Hamlet, is accosted by a spy, sent by the king to entrap his secret. He perceives the treachery, and evades the inquiries. But he shrinks from the impression that all around are bis foes. He has none to listen to his grief, and to solve his doubts. He is in despair, when, at this critical juncture, the companion of his boyhood, the sworn friend of his youth, returns after a long absence. Carlos falls on his neck in a transport of gratitude and friendship. He confesses his own desolate condition—he implores De Posa not to desert him.

I have no friend-no friend,
On this wide spacious earth, I have no friend.
Far as the sceptre of my father sways,
Far as the Spanish flag triumphant waves,
There is no spot, none-none, where I may weep,
Where I may give my bursting heart relief,
Save this alone. Oh'I conjure you then,
By all we both hereafter hope in Heaven,

Chase me not, Roderick, from this resting-place. Even after this solemn appeal, Carlos hesitates at imparting his dangerous confidence. He makes a second appeal to the feelings of his friend. He reminds him of their youthful days; he calls to his recollection how long his tardy affection was withheld, until Carlos purchased it by a generous act of self-devotion. He repeats the vow then made to discharge the debt of friendship; he claims the fulfilment of that vow, and unburthens his whole soul.

Marquis. (holding forth his hand)
I will, my Carlos. The boy's grateful vow
The man now ratifies. I will fulfil it.
Even now, perchance, the moment has arrived.

Carlos. Now, now;--Oh linger not! It has arrived.
This is the time when thou must keep thy vow.
I need thy love. A secret full of horror
Burns in my breast. It shall, it shall be told.
In thy pale cheek will I my sentence read.
Hear-grow transfix’d—but answer not a word :
I love

my

mother.
Marquis. All-powerful God!

Carlos. Nay, I will not be spared. Speak freely out,
Say that this vast circumference of earth
Holds not a wretch like Carlos.-Speak, I charge thee.
All that thou hast to say, I guess already:
The son doth love the mother-human laws,
Nature's pure

ordinance, and the church's precepts,
Forbid alike the passion. My pretensions
Invade most fearfully my father's rights.
I feel it, yet love still

. I tread a path
Which has no end save madness or the scaffold.
I love without a hope-I love with guilt-
With all death's anguish and with all life's danger-

All this I know, yet still persist to love. Shocked at such an avowal, and after fruitless endeavours to avert the woe which he sees impending, De Posa consents, under the Prince's solemn promise to undertake nothing without his concurrence, to endeavour to obtain an interview for him with the Queen. Throughout this scene, and the two following, Schiller seems to feel the delicate ground he is treading on, and nothing is communicated without due preparation. The Marquis, admitted to an audience with the Queen to deliver letters, speaks only in parables. The tale which he asserts to have learnt on his return from Naples, affects all his auditors; but to one ear it conveys the full impression of its meaning. As we are probably indebted to that tale for the hint of a very beautiful production in our own language, it is here translated.

Marquis. Two noble houses in Mirandola,
Weary of ancient rivalry and hate,
Which, since the feuds of Guelphs and Ghibellines,
Had pass'd from age to age, and sire to son,
Resolved by wedlock's gentle bands to frame
A mutual covenant of eternal peace.
The powerful Pietro's sister's son, Fernando,
And fair Matilda, high Colonna's daughter,
Were chosen as the links of this alliance.
Never had Nature for each other form'd
Hearts so delightfully accordant, never
Had choice so happy claim'd the world's approval.
His lovely bride Fernando had adored
In imaged beauty only.. Oh how he trembled
To find confirm'd what his most ardent hopes
Could scarcely credit on the picture's warrant.
In Padua, where his studies bound his stay,
Fernando linger'd till the joyous moment
Which would transport him to Matilda's feet,
To falter forth the homage of his love.

(The Queen listens with increased attention. The Marquis,

after a short pause, continues the story, addressing his dis-
course, as far as the presence of the Queen will permit, to the

Princess Eboli.
Meanwhile the hand of death struck Pietro's consort,
And left him free to seek a new alliance.
With boy-like ardour to the voice of fame,
That in the rumour of Matilda's beauty
Was loudly eloquent, the old man listen’d.
He comes-he sees-he loves! The new emotion
Stifles the earlier, softer voice of nature;
The uncle woos his nephew's plighted bride,
And consecrates the rape upon the altar.

Queen. How did Fernando act?
Marquis.

On wings of love
Wholly unconscious of the fearful change,
Th' enthusiast hastens to Mirandola.
At midnight did his rapid courser stop
Before the gate. A bacchanalian roar,
With sounds of music, dancing, struck his ear,
Proceeding from th' illuminated palace.
He totters up the steps, and slowly enters,
An unknown guest, within the wide saloon.
There, by the revellers' noisy band surrounded,
Sat Pietro-with an angel by his side,
An angel, whom Fernando recognized,
Who ne'er to him in dreams had seem'd so lovely :
A single glance shews him what once was his-
Shews him what now he has for ever lost.

Princess Eboli. Unfortunate Fernando !
Queen,

Said you not
Fernando was your friend ?

Marquis. I have none dearer.
Princess Eboli. Go on then with the story, Chevalier.

Marquis. 'Tis very sad, and the remembrance of it
Does but renew my pain. Permit me here

To stop. (A general silence.) Of the scene between the Queen and Don Carlos, it is impossible in these limits to give a translation. But the few extracts which follow display, in some measure, the wild, impetuous passion of Carlos, and the dignified, virtuous, yet tender affection of Elizabeth. Her calm self-possession, her patient attempts to turn the frenzied mind of the ill-fated youth to objects of nobler emulation, and her whole admirable demeanour in this and every other situation in which she is placed, may be considered as the triumph of Schiller in the delineation of female excellence, in which he far surpasses the great poet whose name is associated with his in these pages. Carlos.

O Heaven ! O Heaven! I go.
I will consent to leave you. Must I not,
When you require my absence? Mother! Mother!
How terribly you sport with me! A glance,
A half regard, your lips' least, lightest murmur
Can summon me to live, or bid me perish:
Declare then what you wish, it shall be done.
What can exist beneath yon burning sun,
Which Carlos would refuse to sacrifice
When you require it?

Queen. Depart !
Carlos. O Heaven !

Queen. The sole request which I with tears pronounce,
Which I implore, is—leave memere my suite,
Ere my attendant-gaolers find us here
Together, and the mighty news convey
Ofhcious to your father's ear.
Carlos.

My fate,
Be it or life or death, I will await.
What? Have 1 anxiously turn'd all my hopes
To this one single, solitary moment,
Which now presents itself, without a witness,
That foolish fears should deaden its enjoyment?
No, Queen, the world may change an hundred times,
A thousand times niay see its poles revolve,
Ere Fortune grant again this happy moment.

Queen. Never again such moments shall she grant.
Unhappy man! What would you then of me?

Carlos. O Queen, that I have striven with my passion,
Striven as mortal never strove before,
God is my witness—Queen! I strove in vain.
Gone is my heroism. I confess me vanquish’d.

Queen. No more of this--for my peace' sake—no more.

Carlos. You were my own—in sight of all the world;
To me by two great thrones you were betrothed;
To me by Heaven and Nature both adjudged ;
And Philip-Philiphe has stolen you from me.

Queen. He is your father.-
Carlos. He is too your husband-
Queen. Who gives the richest kingdom of the earth

And you

To you for an inheritance.

Carlos.
He gives me for a mother.
Queen.

Gracious Heaven !
You rave!

Carlos. Knows he indeed how rich he is ?
Has he a heart that can appreciate thine ?
I will not murmur~no, I will forget
How happy, past expression, I had been
With thee-if Philip be but happy.
He is not happy. That is Hell's worst torture.
He is not happy, and will never be so.
You took a blessed paradise from me
To blast its richness in King Philip's arins.

Queen. Horrible thought !
Carlos.

Oh, I am well aware
Who was the framer of this marriage. Well
I know how Philip learn'd to love and wed.
What are you in this kingdom? Tell me, now,
Are you the reigning Queen? Oh no, you are not.
Where you were Queen, could such as Alba murder ?
Where you were Queen, could Flanders bleed for faith?
Are you then Philip's wife? Impossible.
Never can I believe it. For a wife
Has still her husband's heart-and who has Philip's ?

Queen. Do I then comprehend you?
You still have hopes? You dare to entertain them;
To cherish hope where all, where all is lost?

Carlos. I know of nothing lost but to the dead.
Queen. For me, even for your mother, cherish hopes ?

(She gazes on him for some moments with a look of earnest con

templation, then proceeds in a dignified and serious tone.) Why should you not? The new-created King May do still more :-may cast into the flames His predecessor's acts ;-may tear his statues down ;Nay—even more—for what is to prevent him? He may lay bare the ashes of the dead, From the Escurial's dark and peaceful vaults Snatch and

expose them to the light of Heaven,
To the four winds scatter the sacred dust ;
And then, at last, may-fit consummation

Carlos. Stop, stop, for Heaven's sake, say no more.
Queen. Then last of all—may marry with his mother !

M.

« AnteriorContinuar »