And you desert the common cause so coldly?
A man can safely count but on himself!
Nay, even the weak grow strong by union.
But the strong man is strongest when alone.
So, then, your country cannot count on you,
If in despair she rise against her foes.
Tell rescues the lost sheep from yawning gulfs:
Is he a man, then, to desert his friends?
Yet, whatsoe’er you do, spare me from council!
I was not born to ponder and select;
But when your course of action is resolved,
Then call on Tell: you shall not find him fail.
[Exeunt severally. A sudden tumult is heard around the scaffolding.]
MASON (running in).
FIRST WORKMAN (running forward).
The slater’s fallen from the roof.
BERTHA (rushing in).
Heavens! Is he dashed to pieces? Save him,
If help be possible, save him! Here is gold.
[Throws her trinkets among the people.]
Hence with your gold—your universal charm,
And remedy for ill! When you have torn
Fathers from children, husbands from their wives,
And scattered woe and wail throughout the land,
You think with gold to compensate for all.
Hence! Till we saw you, we were happy men;
With you came misery and dark despair.
BERTHA (to the TASKMASTER, who has returned).
[TASKMASTER shakes his head.]
Ill-omened towers, with curses built,
And doomed with curses to be tenanted!
The house of WALTER FUeRST. WALTER FUeRST and ARNOLD VON MELCHTHAL enter simultaneously at different sides.
Good Walter Fuerst
If we should be surprised!
Stay where you are. We are beset with spies.
Have you no news for me from Unterwald?
What of my father? ’Tis not to be borne
Thus to be pent up like a felon here!
What have I done so heinous that I must
Skulk here in hiding, like a murderer?
I only laid my staff across the fists
Of the pert varlet, when before my eyes,
By order of the governor, he tried
To drive away my handsome team of oxen.
You are too rash by far. He did no more
Than what the governor had ordered him.
You had transgress’d, and therefore should have paid
The penalty, however hard, in silence.
Was I to brook the fellow’s saucy gibe—
“That if the peasant must have bread to eat,
Why, let him go and draw the plough himself?”
It cut me to the very soul to see
My oxen, noble creatures, when the knave
Unyoked them from the plough. As though they felt
The wrong, they lowed and butted with their horns.
On this I could contain myself no longer,
And, overcome by passion, struck him down.