TELL (clasping the boy passionately to his breast).
The boy’s uninjured; God will succor me!
[Tears himself suddenly away, and follows the soldiers of the guard.]
Eastern shore of the Lake of Lucerne; rugged and singularly shaped rocks close the prospect to the west. The lake is agitated, violent roaring and rushing of wind, with thunder and lightning at intervals.
KUNZ OF GERSAU, FISHERMAN and BOY
I saw it with these eyes! Believe me, friend,
It happen’d all precisely as I’ve said.
How! Tell a prisoner, and to Kuessnacht borne?
The best man in the land, the bravest arm,
Had we for liberty to strike a blow!
The Viceroy takes him up the lake in person:
They were about to go on board, as I
Started from Flueelen; but the gathering storm,
That drove me here to land so suddenly,
May well have hindered them from setting out.
Our Tell in chains, and in the Viceroy’s power!
O, trust me, Gessler will entomb him where
He never more shall see the light of day;
For, Tell once free, the tyrant well might dread
The just revenge of one so deeply wrong’d.
The old Landamman, too—von Attinghaus—
They say, is lying at the point of death.
Then the last anchor of our hopes gives way!
He was the only man that dared to raise
His voice in favor of the people’s rights.
The storm grows worse and worse. So, fare ye
I’ll go and seek out quarters in the village.
There’s not a chance of getting off today.
Tell dragg’d to prison, and the Baron dead!
Now, tyranny, exalt thy brazen front—
Throw every shame aside! Truth’s voice is dumb!
The eye that watch’d for us, in darkness closed,
The arm that should have struck thee down, in chains!
’Tis hailing hard—come, let us to
This is no weather to be out in, father!
Rage on, ye winds! Ye lightnings, flash your
Burst, ye swollen clouds! Ye cataracts of Heaven,
Descend, and drown the country! In the germ
Destroy the generations yet unborn!
Ye savage elements, be lords of all!
Return, ye bears: ye ancient wolves, return
To this wide howling waste! The land is yours.
Who would live here, when liberty is gone!
Hark! How the wind whistles, and the whirlpool
I never saw a storm so fierce as this!
To level at the head of his own child!
Never had father such command before.
And shall not nature, rising in wild wrath,
Revolt against the deed? I should not marvel,
Though to the lake these rocks should bow their heads,
Though yonder pinnacles, yon towers of ice,
That, since creation’s dawn, have known no thaw,
Should, from their lofty summits, melt away
Though yonder mountains, yon primeval cliffs,
Should topple down, and a new deluge whelm
Beneath its waves all living men’s abodes!