Learn, foolish boy, to know this shepherd race!
I know them, I have led them on in fight—
I saw them in the battle of Favenz.
What! Austria try, forsooth, to force on us
A yoke we are determined not to bear!
Oh, learn to feel from what a stock thou’rt sprung;
Cast not, for tinsel trash and idle show,
The precious jewel of thy worth away.
To be the chieftain of a free born race,
Bound to thee only by their unbought love,
Ready to stand—to fight—to die with thee,
Be that thy pride, be that thy noblest boast!
Knit to thy heart the ties of kindred—home—
Cling to the land, the dear land of thy sires,
Grapple to that with thy whole heart and soul!
Thy power is rooted deep and strongly here,
But in yon stranger world thou’lt stand alone,
A trembling reed beat down by every blast.
Oh come! ’tis long since we have seen thee, Uly!
Tarry but this one day. Only today!
Go not to Altdorf. Wilt thou? Not today!
For this one day, bestow thee on thy friends.
[Takes his hand.]
I gave my word. Unhand me! I am bound.
ATTING. (drops his hand and says sternly).
Bound, didst thou say? Oh yes, unhappy boy,
Thou art indeed. But not by word or oath.
’Tis by the silken mesh of love thou’rt bound.
[RUDENZ turns away.]
Ay, hide thee, as thou wilt. ’Tis she,
Bertha of Bruneck, draws thee to the court;
’Tis she that chains thee to the Emperor’s service.
Thou think’st to win the noble knightly maid
By thy apostacy. Be not deceived.
She is held out before thee as a lure;
But never meant for innocence like thine.
No more, I’ve heard enough. So fare you well.
Stay, Uly! Stay! Rash boy, he’s gone!
Nor hold him back, nor save him from destruction.
And so the Wolfshot has deserted us;
Others will follow his example soon.
This foreign witchery, sweeping o’er our hills,
Tears with its potent spell our youth away.
O luckless hour, when men and manners strange
Into these calm and happy valleys came,
To warp our primitive and guileless ways!
The new is pressing on with might. The old,
The good, the simple, all fleet fast away.
New times come on. A race is springing up
That think not as their fathers thought before!
What do I hear? All, all are in the grave
With whom erewhile I moved, and held converse;
My age has long been laid beneath the sod
Happy the man, who may not live to see
What shall be done by those that follow me!
A meadow surrounded by high rocks and wooded ground. On the rocks are tracks, with rails and ladders, by which the peasants are afterward seen descending. In the background the lake is observed, and over it a moon rainbow in the early part of the scene. The prospect is closed by lofty mountains, with glaciers rising behind them. The stage is dark, but the lake and glaciers glisten in the moonlight.