We will not triumph in his fall, nor now
Recall to mind the wrongs that we endured.
Far be’t from us! Yet, that we should avenge
The sovereign’s death, who never did us good,
And hunt down those who ne’er molested us,
Becomes us not, nor is our duty. Love
Must be a tribute free, and unconstrain’d;
From all enforced duties death absolves,
And unto him we owe no further debt.
And if the queen laments within her bower,
Accusing Heaven in sorrow’s wild despair;
Here see a people, from its anguish freed,
To that same Heav’n send up its thankful praise.
Who would reap tears must sow the seeds of love.
[Exit the Imperial Courier.]
STAUFFACHER (to the people).
But where is Tell? Shall he, our freedom’s
Alone be absent from our festival?
He did the most—endured the worst of all.
Come—to his dwelling let us all repair,
And bid the Savior of our country hail!
Interior of TELL’s cottage. A fire burning on the hearth. The open door shows the scene outside.
HEDWIG, WALTER, and WILLIAM
My own dear boys! your father comes today;
He lives, is free, and we, and all are free;
The country owes its liberty to him!
And I, too, mother, bore my part in it!
I must be named with him. My father’s shaft
Ran my life close, but yet I never flinch’d.
HEDWIG (embracing him).
Yes, yes, thou art restored to me again!
Twice have I seen thee given to my sad eyes,
Twice suffered all a mother’s pangs for thee!
But this is past—I have you both, boys, both!
And your dear father will be back today.
[A monk appears at the door.]
See, mother, yonder stands a holy friar;
He comes for alms, no doubt.
Go lead him in,
That we may give him cheer, and make him feel
That he has come into the house of joy.
[Exit and returns immediately with a cup.]
WILLIAM (to the monk).
Come in, good man. Mother will give you food!
Come in and rest, then go refresh’d away!
MONK (glancing round in terror, with unquiet looks).
Where am I? In what country? Tell me.
Are you bewildered, that you know not where?
You are at Buerglen, in the land of Uri,
Just at the entrance of the Shechenthal.
MONK. (to HEDWIG).
Are you alone? Your husband, is he here?
I am expecting him. But what ails you, man?
There’s something in your looks, that omens ill!
Whoe’er you be, you are in want—take that.