GORDON (pauses, reflecting—then as in deep dejection).
If it be so—if all be as you say—
If he’ve betray’d the Emperor, his master,
Have sold the troops, have purposed to deliver
The strongholds of the country to the enemy—
Yea, truly!—there is no redemption for him
Yet it is hard that me the lot should destine
To be the instrument of his perdition;
For we were pages at the court of Bergau
At the same period; but I was the senior.
I have heard so—
’Tis full thirty years since then,
A youth who scarce had seen his twentieth year
Was Wallenstein, when he and I were friends.
Yet even then he had a daring soul:
His frame of mind was serious and severe
Beyond his years: his dreams were of great objects,
He walk’d amidst us of a silent spirit,
Communing with himself; yet I have known him
Transported on a sudden into utterance
Of strange conceptions; kindling into splendor,
His soul reveal’d itself, and he spake so
That we look’d round perplex ’d upon each other,
Not knowing whether it were craziness,
Or whether it were a god that spoke in him.
But was it where he fell two-story-high
From a window-ledge, on which he had fallen asleep
And rose up free from injury? From this day
(It is reported) he betrayed clear marks
Of a distemper’d fancy.
Doubtless more self-enwrapt and melancholy;
He made himself a Catholic. Marvelously
His marvelous preservation had transform’d him.
Thenceforth he held himself for an exempted
And privileged being, and, as if he were
Incapable of dizziness or fall,
He ran along the unsteady rope of life.
But now our destinies drove us asunder,
He paced with rapid step the way of greatness,
Was Count, and Prince, Duke-regent, and Dictator—
And now is all, all this too little for him;
He stretches forth his hands for a king’s crown,
And plunges in unfathomable ruin.
No more, he comes.
To these enter WALLENSTEIN, in conversation with the BURGOMASTER of Egra.
You were at one time a free town. I see,
Ye bear the half eagle in your city arms.
Why the half eagle only?
We were free,
But for these last two hundred years has Egra
Remain’d in pledge to the Bohemian crown;
Therefore we bear the half eagle, the other half
Being cancell’d till the empire ransom us,
If ever that should be.
Ye merit freedom.
Only be firm and dauntless. Lend your ears
To no designing whispering court-minions.
What may your imposts be?