THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J. A. HAMMERTON
Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
POETRY AND DRAMA
Table of Contents
Portrait of Moli�re
Goetz von Berlichingen
Iphigenia in Tauris
She Stoops to Conquer
Marion de Lorme
The King Amuses Himself
The Legend of the Alps
Pillars of Society
Every Man in His Humour
Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim
Nathan the Wise
On the Nature of Things
Epigrams, Epitaphs, and Poems
New Way to Pay Old Debts
The Doctor in Spite of Himself
(Moli�re: Continued in Vol. XVIII)
A Complete Index of The World's Greatest Books will be found at the end of Volume XX.
Poetry and Drama
Goetz von Berlichingen[A]
Persons in the Drama
The Emperor Maximilian
The Bishop of Bamberg
Goetz von Berlichingen
Adelbert von Weislingen
Elizabeth, wife to Goetz
Franz von Sickingen
Marie, his sister
Hans von Selbitz
Adelheid von Walldorf
Franz, page to Weislingen
George, page to Goetz
Max Stumpf, Sievers, Metzler, Link, Kohl, Leaders of the rebel peasants
Scene I.�Forest; a poor hut in the background. Goetz and George.
Goetz: Where can my men be? Up and down I have to walk, lest sleep should overcome me. Five days and nights already in ambush. But when I get thee, Weislingen, I shall make up for it! You priests may send
round your obliging Weislingen to decry me�I am awake. You escaped me, bishop! So your dear Weislingen may pay the piper. George! George! (Enter George.) Tell Hans to get ready. My scouts may be back any moment. And give me some more wine!
George: Hark! I hear some horses galloping�two �it must be your men!
Goetz: My horse, quick! Tell Hans to arm!
[Enter Faud, who reports to Goetz that Weislingen is approaching. Exit Goetz and his men.
George: Oh, St. George! Make me strong and brave! And give me spear, armour, and horse!
Scene II.�Hall at Jaxthausen. Elizabeth and Marie.
Marie: If I had a husband who always exposed himself to danger, I should die the first year.
Elizabeth: Thank God, I am made of harder stuff! God grant that my boy may take after his father, and not become a treacherous hypocrite, like Weislingen.
Marie: You are very bitter against him. Yet report speaks well of him. Your own husband loved him, when they were pages together to the margrave.
[The gay tune of a wind-instrument is heard.
Elizabeth: There he returns with his spoil! I must get the meal ready. Here, take the cellar keys and let them have of the best wine! They have deserved it.
[Exeunt. Enter Goetz, Weislingen, and men-at-arms.
Goetz (taking off his helmet and sword): Unstrap my cuirass and give me my doublet! Weislingen, you've given us hard work! Be of good cheer. Where are your clothes? I could lend you some of mine�a neat, clean suit, which I wore at the wedding of my gracious lord the Count Palatine, when your bishop got so vexed with me, because I made him shake hands with me, unknown, after having taken two of his ships a fortnight before on the Main.
Weislingen: I beg you to leave me alone.
Goetz: Why? Pray, be cheerful. You are in my power, and I shall not abuse it. You know my knight's duty is sacred to me. And now I must go to see my wife.
Weislingen: Oh, that it were all a dream! In Berlichingen's power�and he, the old true-hearted Goetz! Back again in the hall, where we played as boys, where I loved him with all my heart! How strangely past and present seem to intermingle here.
[Enter Goetz, and a man with jug and goblet.
Goetz: Let us drink, until the meal is ready. Come, you are at home. It is a long time since we last shared a bottle. (Raising his goblet) A gay heart!
Weislingen: Those times are past.
Goetz: Heaven forbid! Though merrier days we may not find. If you had only followed me to Brabant, instead of taking to that miserable life at court! Are you not as free and nobly born as anyone in Germany? Independent, subject only to the emperor? And you submit to vassals, who poison the emperor's ear against me! They want to get rid of me. And you, Weislingen, are their tool!
Goetz: No more of it! I hate explanations. They only lead to deceiving one or the other, or both.
[They stand apart, their backs turned to each other. Enter Marie.
Marie (to Weislingen): I come to greet and to invite you in my sister's name. What is it? Why are you silent both? You are host and guest. Be guided by a woman's voice.
Goetz: You remind me of my duty.
Weislingen: Who could resist so heavenly a hint?
Marie: Draw near each other, be reconciled! (The men shake hands.) The union of brave men is the most ardent wish of all good women.
Scene I.�A room at `. Marie and Weislingen.
Marie: You say you love me. I willingly believe it, and hope to be happy with you and to make you happy.
Weislingen: Blessed be your brother and the day he rode out to capture me!
Goetz: Your page is back. Whatever his news, Adelbert, you are free! All I ask is your word that you will not aid and abet my enemies.
Weislingen: I take your hand. And may I at the same time take the hand of this noblest of all women?
Goetz: May I say "yes" for you, Marie? You need not blush�your eyes have answered clearly. Well, then, Weislingen, take her hand, and I say Amen, friend and brother! I must call my wife. Elizabeth! (Enter Elizabeth.) Join your hand in theirs and say "God bless you!" They are a pair. Adelbert is going back to Bamberg to detach himself openly from the bishop, and then to his estates to settle his affairs. And now we'll leave him undisturbed to hear his boy's report.
[Exit with Marie and Elizabeth.
Weislingen: Such bliss for one so unworthy!
Franz: God save you, noble sir! I bring you greetings
from everybody in Bamberg�from the bishop down to the jester. How they are distressed at your mishap! I am to tell you to be patient�they will think the more impatiently of your deliverance; for they cannot spare you.
Weislingen: They will have to. I'll return, but not to stay long.
Franz: Not to stay? My lord, if you but knew what I know! If you had but seen her�the angel in the shape of woman, who makes Bamberg a forecourt of heaven� Adelheid von Walldorf!
Weislingen: I have heard much of her beauty. Is her husband at court?
Franz: She has been widowed for four months, and is at Bamberg for amusement. If she looks upon you, it is as though you were basking in spring sunshine.
Weislingen: Her charms would be lost on me. I am betrothed. Marie will be the happiness of my life. And now pack up. First to Bamberg, and then to my castle.
Scene II.�A forest. Some Nuremberg merchants, who, attacked on their way to the Frankfurt Fair by Goetz and his men, have escaped, leaving their goods in the hands of the knights. The page George has, however, recaptured two of the merchants as Goetz and his men enter.
Goetz: Search the forest! Let none escape!
George (stepping forward): I've done some preparatory work. Here they are.
Goetz: Welcome, good lad! Keep them well guarded! (Exit his men with the merchants.) And now, what news of Weislingen?
George: Bad news! He looked confused when I said to him, "A few words from your Berlichingen." He tried to put me off with empty words, but when I pressed him he said he was under no obligation to you,
and would have nothing to do with you.
Goetz: Enough! I shall not forget this infamous treachery. Whoever gets into my power shall feel it. (Exit George.) I'll revel in their agony, deride their fear. And how, Goetz, are you thus changed? Should other people's faults and vices make you renounce your chivalry, and abandon yourself to vulgar cruelty? I'll drag him back in chains, if I can't get him any other way. And there's an end of it, Goetz; think of your duty!
[Enter George with a casket.
George: Now let your joke be ended, they are frightened enough. One of them, a handsome young man, gave me this casket, and said, "Take this as ransom! The jewels I meant to take to my betrothed. Take them, and let me escape."
Goetz (examining the jewels): This time, Marie, I shall not be tempted to bring it to you as a birthday gift. Even in your misfortune you would rejoice in the happiness of others. Take it, George. Give it back to the lad. Let him take it to his bride, with greeting from Goetz! And let all the prisoners free at sunset.
Scene I.�Pleasure-garden at Augsburg. The Emperor, the Bishop of Bamberg, Weislingen, the Lady Adelheid, Courtiers.
Emperor: I am tired of these merchants with their eternal complaints! Every shopkeeper wants help, and no one will stir against the common enemy of the empire and of Christianity.
Weislingen: Who would be active abroad while he is threatened at home?
Bishop: If we could only remove that proud Sickingen and Berlichingen, the others would soon fall asunder.
Emperor: Brave, noble men at heart, who must be spared and used against the Turks.
Weislingen: The consequences may be dangerous.
Better to capture them and leave them quietly upon their knightly parole in their castles.
Emperor: If they then abide by the law, they might again be honourably and usefully employed. I shall open the session of the Diet to-morrow with this proposal.
Weislingen: A clamour of joyful assent will spare your majesty the end of the speech.
[Exit Emperor, Bishop, and Courtiers.
Weislingen: And so you mean to go�to leave the festive scenes for which you longed with all your heart, to leave a friend to whom you are indispensable, to delay our union?
Adelheid: The gayer, the freer shall I return to you.
Weislingen: Will you be content if we proceed against Berlichingen?
Adelheid: You deserve a kiss! My uncle, Von Wanzenau, must be captain!
Weislingen: Impossible! An incompetent old dreamer!
Adelheid: Let the fiery Werdenhagen, his sister's stepson, go with him.
Weislingen: He is thoughtless and foolhardy, and will not improve matters.
Adelheid: We have to think of our relatives. For love of me, you must do it! And I want some exemptions for the convent of St. Emmeraru; you can work the chancellor. Then the cup-bearer's post is vacant at the Hessian Court, and the high stewardship of the Palatinate. I want them for our friends Braimau and Mirsing.
Weislingen: How shall I remember it all?
Adelheid: I shall train a starling to repeat the names to you, and to add, "Please, please." (Exit Weislingen. To Franz, whom she stops as he crosses to follow his master): Franz, could you get me a starling, or would you yourself be my starling? You would learn more rapidly.
Franz: If you would teach me. Try. Take me with you.
Adelheid: No, you must serve me here. Have you a good memory?
Franz: For your words. I remember every syllable you spoke to me that first day at Bamberg.
Adelheid: Now, listen, Franz. I shall tell you the names which I want you to repeat to your master, always adding, "Please, please."
Franz (seizing her hand passionately): Please, please!
Adelheid (stepping back): Hands are not wanted. You must lose such bad manners. But you must not be so upset at a little rebuke. One punishes the children one loves.
Franz: You love me, then?
Adelheid: I might love you as a child, but you are getting too tall and violent.
Scene II.�Hall at Jaxthausen. Sickingen and Goetz.
Goetz: So you want to marry a jilted woman?
Sickingen: To be deceived by him is an honour for you both. I want a mistress for my castles and gardens. In the field, at court, I want to stand alone.
Selbitz: Bad news! The emperor has put you under the ban, and has sent troops to seize you.
Goetz: Sickingen, you hear. Take back your offer, and leave me!
Sickingen: I shall not turn from you in trouble. No better wooing than in time of war and danger.
Goetz: On one condition. You must publicly detach yourself from me. The emperor loves and esteems you, and your intercession may save me in the hour of need.
Sickingen: But I can secretly send you twenty horsemen.
Goetz: That offer I accept.
Scene III.�A hill with a view over a fertile country. George and Goetz's men cross the stage, chasing the imperial troops. Then Selbitz is carried on, wounded, accompanied by Faud.
Selbitz: Let me rest here!�and back to your master; back to Goetz!
Faud: Let me stay with you. I am no good below; they have hammered my old bones till I can scarcely move. (Exit soldiers.) Here from the wall I can watch the fight.
Selbitz: What do you see?
Faud: Your horsemen are turning tail. I can see Goetz's three black feathers in the midst of the turmoil. Woe, he has fallen! And George's blue plume has disappeared! Sickingen's horsemen in flight! Ha! I see Goetz again! And George! Victory! Victory! They are routed! Goetz is after them�he has seized their flag! The fugitives are coming here! Oh! what will they do with you?
Selbitz: Come down and draw! My sword is ready. I'll make it hot for them, even sitting or lying down!
[Enter imperial troops. Selbitz and Faud defend themselves until Lerse comes to their rescue, attacking the soldiers furiously, killing some and putting the rest to flight. Enter Goetz, George, a troop of armed men.
Selbitz: Good luck, Goetz! Victory! Victory! How did you fare?
Goetz: To George and Lerse I owe my life; I was off my horse when they came to the rescue. I have their flag and a few prisoners.
Selbitz: Lerse saved me, too. See what work he has done here!
Goetz: Good luck, Lerse! And God bless my George's first brave deed! Now back to the castle, and let us gather our scattered men.
Scene I.�Jaxthausen. A small room. Marie and Sickingen.
Sickingen: You may smile, but I felt the desire to possess you when you first looked upon me with your blue eyes, when you were with your mother at the Diet of Speier. I have long been separated from you; but that wish remained, with the memory of that glance.
Sickingen: Good luck!
Marie: Welcome, a thousand times!
Goetz: Now quickly to the chapel! I've thought it all out, and time presses.
Scene II.�Large hall; in the background a door, leading to the chapel. Lerse and men-at-arms. Enter Goetz from chapel.
Goetz: How now, Lerse? The men had better be distributed over the walls. Let them take any breastplates, helmets, and arms they may want. Are the gates well manned?
Lerse: Yes, sir.
Goetz: Sickingen will leave us at once. You will lead him through the lower gate, along the water, and across the ford. Then look around you, and come back.
[Enter Sickingen, Marie, Elizabeth, from chapel. Drums in distance announce the enemy's approach.
Goetz: May God bless you and send you merry, happy days!
Elizabeth: And may He let your children be like you!
Sickingen: I thank you, and I thank you, Marie, who will lead me to happiness.
Goetz: A pleasant journey! Lerse will show you the way.
Marie: That is not what we meant. We shall not leave you.
Goetz: You must, sister! (To Sickingen) You understand? Talk to Marie; she is your wife. Take her to safety, and then think of me.
[Exeunt Lerse, Sickingen and Marie. Enter George.
George: They approach from all sides. I saw their pikes glitter from the tower.
Goetz: Have the gate barricaded with beams and stones.
[Exit George. A trumpeter is dimly heard from the distance, requesting Goetz to surrender unconditionally.
Goetz refuses angrily, and slams the window. Enter Lerse.
Lerse: There is plenty of powder, but bullets are scarce.
Goetz: Look round for lead! Meanwhile, we must make the crossbows do.
[Distant shooting is heard at intervals. Exit Goetz with crossbow.
Lerse (breaking a window and detaching the lead from the glass): This lead has rested long enough; now it may fly for a change.
Goetz: They have ceased firing, and offer a truce with all sorts of signs and white rags. They will probably ask me to surrender on knightly parole.
Lerse: I'll go and see. 'Tis best to know their mind.
[Goes out and returns shortly.
Lerse: Liberty! Liberty! Here are the conditions. You may withdraw with arms, horses, and armour, leaving all provisions behind. Your property will be carefully guarded. I am to remain.
Goetz: Come, take the best arms with you, and leave the others here! Come, Elizabeth! Through this very gate I led you as a young bride. Who knows when we
[Exeunt Goetz and Elizabeth, followed by George. While the men are choosing arms and preparing, Lerse, who has heard shouting and firing without, looks through the window.
Lerse: God! They are murdering our master! He is off his horse! Help him!
Faud: George is still fighting. Let's go! If they die, I don't want to live!
Scene III.�Night; anteroom in Adelheid's castle. Weislingen, Franz, Adelheid, with a retinue of masked and costumed revellers.
Weislingen: May I, in these moments of lightheartedness, speak to you of serious matters? Goetz is probably by this time in our hands. The peasants' revolt is growing in violence; and the League has given me the command against them. We shall start before long. I shall take you to my castle in Franconia, where you will be safe, and not too far from me.
Adelheid: We shall consider that. I may be useful to you here.
Weislingen: We have not much time, for we break up to-morrow!
Adelheid (after a pause): Very well, then; carnival to-night, and war to-morrow!
Weislingen: You are fond of change. A pleasant night to you!
Adelheid: I understand. You would remove me from the court, where Charles, our emperor's great successor, is the object of all hope? You will not change my plans. Franz!
Franz (entering): Gracious lady!
Adelheid: Watch all the masks, and find out for me the archduke's disguise! You look sad?
Franz: It is your will that I should languish unto death.
Adelheid (apart): I pity him. (To Franz) You are true and loving; I shall not forget you!
Scene IV.�Heilbronn Town Hall. Imperial Councillor and Magistrates, UsherS, Goetz.
Councillor: You know how you fell into our hands, and are a prisoner at discretion?
Goetz: What will you give me to forget it?
Councillor: You gave your knightly parole to appear and humbly to await his majesty's pleasure?
Goetz: Well, here I am, and await it!
Councillor: His majesty's mercy releases you from the ban and all punishment, provided you subscribe to all the articles which shall be read unto you.
Goetz: I am his majesty's faithful servant. But, before you proceed, where are my men; what is their fate?
Councillor: That is no business of yours. Secretary, read the articles! (Reads): I, Goetz von Berlichingen, having lately risen in rebellion against the emperor���
Goetz: 'Tis false! I am no rebel! I refuse to listen any further!
Councillor: And yet we have strict orders to persuade you by fair means, or to throw you into prison.
Goetz: To prison? Me? That cannot be the emperor's order! To promise me permission to ward myself on parole, and then again to break your treaty.
Councillor: We owe no faith to robbers.
Goetz: If you were not the representative of my respected sovereign, you should swallow that word, or choke upon it!
[Councillor makes a sign, and a bell is rung. Enter citizens with halberds and swords.
Councillor: You will not listen�seize him!
[They rush upon him. He strikes one down, and snatches a sword from another. They stand aloof.
Goetz: Come on! I should like to become acquainted
with the bravest among you.
[A trumpet is heard without. Enter Usher.
Usher: Franz von Sickingen is without and sends word that having heard how faith has been broken with his brother-in-law, he insists upon justice, or within an hour he will fire the four quarters of the town, and abandon it to be sacked by his men.
Goetz: Brave friend!
Councillor: YOU had best dissuade your brother-in-law from his rebellious intention. He will only become the companion of your fall! Meanwhile, we will consider how we can best uphold the emperor's authority.
[Exeunt all but Goetz. Enter Sickingen.
Goetz: That was help from heaven. I asked nothing but knightly ward upon my parole.
Sickingen: They have shamefully abused the imperial authority. I know the emperor, and have some influence with him. I shall want your fist in an enterprise I am preparing. Meanwhile, they will let you and your men return to your castle upon the promise not to move beyond its confines. And the emperor will soon call you. Now back to the wigs! They have had time enough to talk; let's save them the trouble!
Scene I.�Forest. Goetz and George.
Goetz: No further! Another step and I should have broken my oath. What is that dust beyond? And that wild mob moving towards us?
Lerse (entering): The rebel peasants. Back to the castle! They have dealt horribly with the noblest men!
Goetz: On my own soil I shall not try to evade the rabble.
[Enter Stumpf, Kohl, Sievers, and armed peasants.
Stumpf: We come to ask you, brave Goetz, to be our captain.
Goetz: What! Me? To break my oath? Stumpf, I thought you were a friend! Even if I were free, and you wanted to carry on as you did at Weinsberg, raving and burning, and murdering, I'd rather be killed than be your captain!
Stumpf: If we had a leader of authority, such things would not happen. The princes and all Germany would thank you.
Sievers: You must be our captain, or you will have to defend your own skin. We give you two hours to consider it.
Goetz: Why consider? I can decide now as well as later. Will you desist from your misdeeds, and act like decent folk who know what they want? Then I shall help you with your claims, and be your captain for four weeks. Now, come!
Scene II.�Landscape, with village and castle in distance. Goetz and George.
George: I beseech you, leave this infamous mob of robbers and incendiaries.
Goetz: We have done some good and saved many a convent, many a life.
George: Oh, sir, I beg you to leave them at once, before they drag you away with them as prisoner, instead of following you as captain! (Flames are seen rising from the distant village.) See there! A new crime!
Goetz: That is Miltenberg. Quick, George! Prevent the burning of the castle. I'll have nothing further to do with the scoundrels.
George: I shall save Miltenberg, or you will not see me again.
Goetz: Everybody blames me for the mischief, and nobody gives me credit for having prevented so much evil. Would I were thousands of miles away!
[Enter Sievers, Link, Metzler, peasants.
Link: Rouse yourself, captain; the enemy is near and in great force!
Goetz: Who burnt Miltenberg?
Metzler: If you want to make a fuss, we'll soon teach you!
Goetz: You threaten? Scoundrel! [He knocks him down with a blow of his fist.
Kohl: You are mad! The enemy is coming, and you quarrel.
[Tumult, battle, and rout of the peasants. Then the stage gradually fills with gypsies. Goetz returns wounded, is recognised by the gypsies, who bandage him, help him on to his horse, and ask him to lead them. Soldiers enter and level their halberds at Goetz.
Scene III.�Adelheid's room. Night. Adelheid. Franz.
Franz: Oh, let me stay yet a little while�here, where I live. Without is death!
Adelheid: Already you hesitate? Then give me back the phial. You played the hero, but you are only a boy; A man who wooes a noble woman stakes his life, honour, virtue, happiness! Boy, leave me!
Franz: No, you are mine. And if I get your freedom I get my own. With a firm hand I shall pour the poison into my master's cup. Farewell.
[He embraces her and hurries away.
Scene IV.�Rustic garden. Marie sleeping in an arbour. Lerse.
Lerse: Gracious lady, awake! We must away. Goetz captured as a rebel and thrown into a dungeon! His age! His wounds!
Marie: We must hurry to Weislingen. Only dire necessity can drive me to this step. Saving my brother's life I go to death. I shall kneel to him, weep before him.
Scene V.�Weislingen's hall.
Weislingen: A wretched fever has dried my very marrow. No rest for me, day or night! Goetz haunts my very dreams. He is a prisoner, and yet I tremble before him. (Enter Marie.) Oh, heaven! Marie's spirit, to tell me of her death!
Marie: Weislingen, I am no spirit. I have come to beg of you my brother's life.
Weislingen: Marie! You, angel of heaven, bring with you the tortures of hell. The breath of death is upon me, and you come to throw me into despair!
Marie: My brother is ill in prison. His wounds�his age��
Weislingen: Enough. Franz! (Enter Franz in great excitement.) The papers there! (Franz hands him a sealed packet.) Here is your brother's death-warrant; and thus I tear it. He lives. Do not weep, Franz; there's hope for the living.
Franz: You cannot, you must die! Poison from your wife. [Rushes to the window, and throws himself out into the river.
Weislingen: Woe to me! Poison from my wife! Franz seduced by the infamous woman! I am dying; and in my agony throb the tortures of hell.
Marie (kneeling): Merciful God, have pity on him!
Scene VI.�A small garden outside the prison, Goetz, Elizabeth, Lerse, and prison-keeper.
Goetz: Almighty God! How lovely is it beneath Thy heaven! Farewell, my children! My roots are cut away, my strength totters to the grave. Let me see George once more, and sun myself in his look. You turn away and weep? He is dead! Then die, Goetz! How did he die? Alas! they took him among the incendiaries,
and he has been executed?
Elizabeth: No, he was slain at Miltenberg, fighting like a lion.
Goetz: God be praised! Now release my soul! My poor wife! I leave you in a wicked world. Lerse, forsake her not! Blessings upon Marie and her husband. Selbitz is dead, and the good emperor, and my George. Give me some water! Heavenly air! Freedom!
Elizabeth: Freedom is only above�with thee; the world is a prison.
Lerse: Noble man! Woe to this age that rejected thee! Woe to the future that shall misjudge thee!
The story of "Goetz von Berlichingen" was founded on the life of a German soldier of fortune who flourished between 1480 and 1562. The possibilities of his biography inspired Goethe (Vol. IV, p. 253) with the idea of doing for Germany what Shakespeare had done for medi�val England. In a few weeks he had turned the life into a series of vivid dramatic pictures, which so engrossed him that he "forgot Homer, Shakespeare, and everything." For the next two years the manuscript lay untouched. In 1773 he made a careful revision and published it anonymously under the title of "Goetz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand"; it is in this form we possess the work now. At a still later period, in 1804, Goethe prepared another version of the play for the stage. The subject-matter of "Goetz" is purely revolutionary. Goetz, the hero himself, is a champion of a good cause�the cause of freedom and self-reliance. He is the embodiment of sturdy German virtues, the Empire and the Church playing the unenviable role of intrigue and oppression. As a stage play, "Goetz" is ill-constructed, but otherwise it stands a veritable literary triumph, and a worthy predecessor to "Faust." This epitome has been prepared from the German text.
Iphigenia in Tauris[B]
Persons in the Drama
Thoas, King of Tauris
The scene throughout is laid in a grove before Diana's temple in Tauris.
Act I Iphigenia and Thoas.
Thoas: To-day I come within this sacred fane, Which I have often entered to implore And thank the gods for conquest. In my breast I bear an old and fondly-cherish'd wish, To which methinks thou canst not be a stranger: I hope, a blessing to myself and realm, To lead thee to my dwelling as my bride.
Iphigenia: Too great thine offer, king, to one unknown, Who on this shore sought only what thou gavest, Safety and peace.
Thoas: Thus still to shroud thyself From me, as from the lowest, in the veil Of mystery which wrapp'd thy coming here, Would in no country be deem'd just or right.
Iphigenia: If I conceal'd, O king, my name, my race, It was embarrassment, and not mistrust. For didst thou know who stands before thee now, Strange horror would possess thy mighty heart, And, far from wishing me to share thy throne, Thou wouldst more likely banish me forthwith.
Thoas: Whate'er respecting thee the gods decree, Since thou hast dwelt amongst us, and enjoy'd The privilege the pious stranger claims, To me hath fail'd no blessing sent from heaven. End then thy silence, priestess!
Iphigenia: I issue from the Titan's race.
Thoas: From that same Tantalus, whom Jove himself Drew to his council and his social board?
Iphigenia: His crime was human, and their doom severe; Alas, and his whole race must bear their hate. His son, Pelops, obtained his second wife
Through treachery and murder. And Hebe's sons, Thyestes and Atreus, envious of the love That Pelops bore his first-born, murdered him. The mother, held as murderess by the sire, In terror did destroy herself. The sons, After the death of Pelops, shared the rule O'er Mycen�, till Atreus from the realm Thyestes drove. Oh, spare me to relate The deeds of horror, vengeance, cruel infamy That ended in a feast where Atreus made His brother eat the flesh of his own boys.
Thoas: But tell me by what miracle thou sprangest From race so savage.
Iphigenia: Atreus' eldest son Was Agamemnon; he, O king, my sire; My mother Clytemnestra, who then bore To him Electra, and to fill his cup Of bliss, Orestes. But misfortunes new Befel our ancient house, when to avenge The fairest woman's wrongs the kings of Greece Round Ilion's walls encamp'd, led by my sire. In Aulis vainly for a favouring gale They waited; for, enrag'd against their chief, Diana stay'd their progress, and requir'd, Through Chalcas' voice, the monarch's eldest daughter. They lured me to the altar, and this head There to the goddess doomed. She was appeased, And shrouded me in a protecting cloud. Here I awakened from the dream of death, Diana's priestess, I who speak with thee.
Thoas: I yield no higher honour or regard To the king's daughter than the maid unknown; Once more my first proposal I repeat.
Iphigenia: Hath not the goddess who protected me Alone a right to my devoted head?
Thoas: Not many words are needed to refuse, The no alone is heard by the refused.
Iphigenia: I have to thee my inmost heart reveal'd. My father, mother, and my long-lost home With yearning soul I pine to see.
Thoas: Then go! And to the voice of reason close thine ear. Hear then my last resolve. Be priestess still Of the great goddess who selected thee. From olden time no stranger near'd our shore But fell a victim at her sacred shrine; But thou, with kind affection didst enthral Me so that wholly I forgot my duty; And I did not hear my people's murmurs. Now they cry aloud. No longer now Will I oppose the wishes of the crowd. Two strangers, whom in caverns of the shore We found conceal'd, and whose arrival here Bodes to my realm no good, are in my power. With them thy goddess may once more resume Her ancient, pious, long-suspended rites! I send them here�thy duty not unknown. [Exit.
Iphigenia: O goddess! Keep my hands from blood!
Act II Orestes and Pylades.
Orestes: When I implor'd Apollo to remove The grisly band of Furies from my side, He promised aid and safety in the fane Of his lov'd sister, who o'er Tauris rules. Thus the prophetic word fulfils itself, That with my life shall terminate my woe. Thee only, friend, thee am I loath to take, The guiltless partner of my crime and curse, To yonder cheerless shore!
Pylades: Think not of death!
But mark if not the gods perchance present Means and fit moment for a joyful flight. The gods avenge not on the son the deeds Done by their father.
Orestes: It is their decree Which doth destroy us.
Pylades: From our guards I learn A strange and god-like woman holds in check The execution of the bloody law.
Orestes: The monarch's savage will decrees our death; A woman cannot save when he condemns.
Pylades: She comes: leave us alone. I dare not tell At once our names, nor unreserv'd confide Our fortunes to her. Now retire awhile.
[Exit Orestes. Enter Iphigenia.
Iphigenia: Whence art thou? Stranger, speak! To me thy bearing Stamps thee of Grecian, not of Scythian race.
[She unbinds his chains.
The gods avert the doom that threatens you!
Pylades: Delicious music! Dearly welcome tones Of our own language in a foreign land! We are from Crete, Adrastus' sons; and I Am Cephalus; my eldest brother, he, Laodamas. Between us stood a youth Whom, when our sire died (having return'd From Troy, enrich'd with loot), in contest fierce My brother slew! 'Tis thus the Furies now For kindred-murder dog his restless steps. But to this savage shore the Delphian god Hath sent us, cheer'd by hope. My tale is told.
Iphigenia: Troy fallen! Dear stranger, oh, say!
Pylades: The stately town Now lies in ruins. Many a hero's grave Will oft our thoughts recall to Ilion's shore. There lies Achilles and his noble friend;
Nor Palamedes, nor Ajax, e'er again The daylight of their native land beheld. Yet happy are the thousands who receiv'd Their bitter death-blow from a hostile hand, And not like Agamemnon, who, ensnared, Fell murdered on the day of his return By Clytemnestra, with �gisthus' aid.
Iphigenia: Base passion prompted then this deed of shame?
Pylades: And feelings, cherish'd long of deep revenge. For such a dreadful deed, that if on earth Aught could exculpate murder, it were this. The monarch, for the welfare of the Greeks, Her eldest daughter doomed. Within her heart This planted such abhorrence that forthwith She to �gisthus hath resigned herself, And round her husband flung the web of death.
Iphigenia (veiling herself): It is enough! Thou wilt again behold me.
Act III Iphigenia and Orestes.
Iphigenia: Unhappy man, I only loose thy bonds In token of a still severer doom. For the incensed king, should I refuse Compliance with the rites himself enjoin'd, Will choose another virgin from my train As my successor. Then, alas! with nought, pave ardent wishes, can I succour you. But tell me now, when Agamemnon fell, Orestes�did he share his sire's fate? Say, was he saved? And is he still alive? And lives Electra, too?
Orestes: They both survive. Half of the horror only hast thou heard.
Electra, on the day when fell her sire, Her brother from impending doom conceal'd; Him Strophius, his father's relative, Received with kindest care, and rear'd him up, With his own son, named Pylades, who soon Around the stranger twin'd love's fairest bonds. The longing to revenge the monarch's death Took them to Mycen�, and by her son Was Clytemnestra slain.
Iphigenia: Immortal powers! O tell me of the poor unfortunate! Speak of Orestes!
Orestes: Him the Furies chase. They glare around him with their hollow eyes, Like greedy eagles. In their murky dens They stir themselves, and from the corners creep Their comrades, dire remorse and pallid fear; Before them fumes a mist of Acheron. I am Orestes! and this guilty head Is stooping to the tomb and covets death; It will be welcome now in any shape.
[Orestes retires. Iphigenia prays to the gods, and
Orestes: Who art thou, that thy voice thus horribly Can harrow up my bosom's inmost depths?
Iphigenia: Thine inmost heart reveals it. I am she�Iphigenia!
Orestes: Hence, away, begone! Leave me! Like Heracles, a death of shame, Unworthy wretch, locked in myself, I'll die!
Iphigenia: Thou shalt not perish! Would that I might hear One quiet word from thee! Dispel my doubts, Make sure the bliss I have implored so long. Orestes! O my brother!
Orestes: There's pity in thy look! oh, gaze not so� 'Twas with such looks that Clytemnestra sought