Frederich Schiller. Fiesco

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By Frederich Schiller


The chief sources from which I have drawn the history of this conspiracy are Cardinal de Retz's Conjuration du Comte Jean Louis de Fiesque, the Histoire des Genes, and the third volume of Robertson's History of Charles the Fifth.

The liberties which I have taken with the historical facts will be excused, if I have succeeded in my attempt; and, if not, it is better that my failure should appear in the effusions of fancy, than in the delineation of truth. Some deviation from the real catastrophe of the conspiracy (according to which the count actually perished [A] when his schemes were nearly ripe for execution) was rendered necessary by the nature of the drama, which does not allow the interposition either of chance or of a particular Providence. It would be matter of surprise to me that this subject has never been adopted by any tragic writer, did not the circumstances of its conclusion, so unfit for dramatic representation, afford a sufficient reason for such neglect. Beings of a superior nature may discriminate the finest links of that chain which connects an individual action with the system of the universe, and may, perhaps, behold them extended to the utmost limits of time, past and future; but man seldom sees more than the simple facts, divested of their various relations of cause and effect. The writer, therefore, must adapt his performance to the short-sightedness of human nature, which he would enlighten; and not to the penetration of Omniscience, from which all intelligence is derived.

In my Tragedy of the Robbers it was my object to delineate the victim of an extravagant sensibility; here I endeavor to paint the reverse; a victim of art and intrigue. But, however strongly marked in the page of history the unfortunate project of Fiesco may appear, on the stage it may prove less interesting. If it be true that sensibility alone awakens sensibility, we may conclude that the political hero is the less calculated for dramatic representation, in proportion as it becomes necessary to lay aside the feelings of a man in order to become a political hero.

It was, therefore, impossible for me to breathe into my fable that glowing life which animates the pure productions of poetical inspiration; but, in order to render the cold and sterile actions of the politician capable of affecting the human heart, I was obliged to seek a clue to those actions in the human heart itself. I was obliged to blend together the man and the politician, and to draw from the refined intrigues of state situations interesting to humanity. The relations which I bear to society are such as unfold to me more of the heart than of the cabinet; and, perhaps, this very political defect may have become a poetical excellence.

[A] Fiesco, after having succeeded in the chief objects of his undertaking, happened to fall into the sea whilst hastening to quell some disturbances on board of a vessel in the harbor; the weight of his armor rendered his struggles ineffectual, and he perished. The deviation from history in the tragedy might have been carried farther, and would perhaps have rendered it more suitable to dramatic representation.-Translation.




ANDREAS DORIA, Duke of Genoa, a venerable old man, eighty years of age, retaining the traces of a high spirit: the chief features in this character are dignity and a rigid brevity in command.

GIANETTINO DORIA, nephew of the former, and pretender to the ducal power, twenty-six years of age, rough and forbidding in his address, deportment, and manners, with a vulgar pride and disgusting features.

FIESCO, Count of Lavagna, chief of the conspiracy, a tall, handsome young man, twenty-three years of age; his character is that of dignified pride and majestic affability, with courtly complaisance and deceitfulness.

VERRINA, a determined republican, sixty years of age; grave, austere, and inflexible: a marked character.

BOURGOGNINO, a conspirator, a youth of twenty; frank and high-spirited, proud, hasty, and undisguised.

CALCAGNO, a conspirator, a worn-out debauchee of thirty; insinuating and enterprising.

SACCO, a conspirator, forty-five years of age, with no distinguishing trait of character.

LOMELLINO, in the confidence of the pretender, a haggard courtier.


ZIBO, | Malcontents.


ROMANO, a painter, frank and simple, with the pride of genius.

MULEY HASSAN, a Moor of Tunis, an abandoned character, with a physiognomy displaying an original mixture of rascality and humor.

A GERMAN of the ducal body-guard, of an honest simplicity, and steady bravery.


LEONORA, the wife of Fiesco, eighteen years of age, of great sensibility; her appearance pale and slender, engaging, but not dazzling; her countenance marked with melancholy; her dress black.

JULIA, Countess dowager Imperiali, sister of the younger Doria, aged twenty-five; a proud coquette, in person tall and full, her beauty spoiled by affectation, with a sarcastic maliciousness in her countenance; her dress black.

BERTHA, daughter of Verrina, an innocent girl.

ROSA, | Maids of Leonora.


Several Nobles, Citizens, Germans, Soldiers, Thieves.

(SCENE-Genoa. TIME-the year 1547.)


SCENE I.-A Saloon in FIESCO'S House. The distant sound of dancing and music is heard.

LEONORA, masked, and attended by ROSA and ARABELLA, enters hastily.

LEONORA (tears off her mask). No more! Not another word! 'Tis as clear as day! (Throwing herself in a chair.) This quite overcomes me--

ARABELLA. My lady!

LEONORA (rising.) What, before my eyes! with a notorious coquette! In presence of the whole nobility of Genoa! (strongly affected.)-Rosa! Arabella! and before my weeping eyes!

ROSA. Look upon it only as what it really was-a piece of gallantry. It was nothing more.

LEONORA. Gallantry! What! Their busy interchange of glances-the anxious watching of her every motion-the long and eager kiss upon her naked arm, impressed with a fervor that left in crimson glow the very traces of his lips! Ha! and the transport that enwrapped his soul, when, with fixed eyes, he sate like painted ecstacy, as if the world around him had dissolved, and naught remained in the eternal void but he and Julia. Gallantry? Poor thing! Thou hast never loved. Think not that thou canst teach me to distinguish gallantry from love!

ROSA. No matter, Signora! A husband lost is as good as ten lovers gained.

LEONORA. Lost? Is then one little intermission of the heart's pulsations a proof that I have lost Fiesco? Go, malicious slanderer! Come no more into my presence! 'Twas an innocent frolic-perhaps a mere piece of gallantry. Say, my gentle Arabella, was it not so?

ARABELLA. Most certainly! There can be no doubt of it!

LEONORA (in a reverie). But does she then feel herself sole mistress of his heart? Does her name lurk in his every thought?-meet him in every phase of nature? Can it be? Whither will these thoughts lead me? Is this beautiful and majestic world to him but as one precious diamond, on which her image-her image alone-is

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