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In the second act, an interview between the Moor and Fiesco, in which the ruffian narrates the current opinions in Genoa against the Dorias, is broken in upon by a sudden insurrection. Gianettino has in the Senate House, in a vote for a Procurator, insulted the haughty nobles and wronged justice. This produces a tumult. The manner in which the witty and brilliant Fiesco banters first the nobles who come to complain, and then plays upon the mob who rush into his palace, is entirely Shakspearian. Fiesco now acquaints the Moor that the time has come when he shall publish that design upon his life which the Moor had entertained-the Moor consents (for the sake of the reward) to be seized-to submit once to the torture, and then to confess his employer in Gianettino. Meanwhile the elder Doria, whose mild dignity wins him our interest throughout the conspiracy, reproaches the wretched Gianettino for his excesses, and warns him that they may bring him even to the scaffold. Scarce is this scene over, before Gianettino learns that the Moor had been seized in an attempt on Fiesco's life, had confessed Gianettino to have hired him-that Fiesco had presented himself to the people and amidst their shouts of applause and their curses on Doria, had demanded the Moor to be given over to his mercy and—had pardoned him. Enraged more than dismayed, the guilty Gianettino resolves now to execute a plot he had before conceived, viz. by the assistance of the Emperor Charles V. to pass the sway of Genoa from his uncle's hands to his own. Twelve senators are to fall by murder-amongst them Fiesco. The conspiracy on Fiesco's side now ripens also, and the reader begins to look breathlessly forward to the result. Verrina and his Republican comrades still, however, conceiving that Fiesco laps his great soul in pleasure, and anxious to arouse him, have devised a plan. The accomplished and dazzling noble is described as fond of art, and easily moved to enthusiasm by pictures. A painter has just finished the picture of the story of Virginia and Appius Claudius-they have the picture brought to Fiesco, hoping it may elicit some spark to be kindled into a flame. This is altogether the finest scene (out of Shakspeare and Eschylus) in the world. Verrina's wrath as the modern Virginius beholds in the painted history his own disgrace-the other nobles crowding round, and watching Fiesco's lips-Fiesco seeming at first only sensible to the beauty of Virginia
"The snowy lustre of her breast, Swell'd by her dying breath, like the round wave Beneath the evening breeze."
all make a group of extraordinary art and effect. The Count views the painting not as the Roman painter, but the Italian voluptuary. The conspirators draw back baffled and dejected; when Fiesco sharply regarding the conspirators, after a pause, seizes the painter by the hand, and steps up with him before the picture-with a majestic and lofty air.
"Fiesco. Come here, Romano! art thou therefore proud,
By trifling with a pencil?
Thou overturn'st a tyrant upon linen,
And art thyself a miserable slave!
Thou free'st Republics with a pencil's stroke,
I have perform'd-what thou hast only painted!
(Pause of astonishment, during which ROMANO carries off the picture in confusion.)
Fiesco. (breaking the pause,)
And did you really think the Lion slept
Did you endeavour to persuade yourselves
(He opens a bureau, takes out a packet of letters, and throws them on the table.)
Here soldiers from Parma !
Here money from France!-here four galleys from the Pope!
(The whole assembly remains lost in silent wonder. FIESCO steps aside with dignity, and assuming an air of conscious superiority.)
(The whole, with the exception of VERRINA, throw themselves
The conspirators now proceed to a solemn oath-the bond is cemented-Fiesco is left alone. High but dark thoughts come across him-the ambition of the deliverer becomes mingled with the ambition of a King. Shall he dethrone that he may rule?
66 Sovereign Fiesco!-citizen Fiesco!—
Ah! there's the gulf that severs vice from virtue."
On these struggles-on the epoch of a fiery change in a great heart -the curtain falls.
ACT III-A strange wilderness in the neighbourhood of Genoa. -Time midnight-Bourgonino and Verrina enter. In this most grand and noble scene Verrina informs Bourgonino that Fiesco must die. That severe and deep Republican sees through the great man's nature-sees that it is certain
Will overturn the tyrant-but more certain
Verifying this prediction, we now behold Fiesco in his palace-the day slowly dawns-Genoa and the sea are below his casement-he holds high soliloquy with himself—the sun rises over Genoa
"And this Majestic city!
(hastening with extended arms to the window)
In a word the die is cast-Fiesco resolves to redeem Genoa and to enslave her. Immediately following this fine soliloquy is a scene of unutterable sweetness between Fiesco and his wife. It is impossible to conceive a more soft yet striking character than Leonora's— it is as gentle as Desdemona's, but far loftier. Through the rest of
the act the conspiracy on both sides-that of Gianettino-that of Fiesco, thickens and proceeds. The Moor suspecting, from some expressions of Fiesco's, that when the Count has succeeded in his work he may break up the tools, resolves to betray him.
ACT IV.-Night-Castle-court at Fiesco's-People are lighting the lamps and bringing in arms of every description-The apartments on one side the Palace are illuminated. Several nobles, Verrina, Bourgonino, &c. appear, and to them Fiesco, who, after an harangue of great eloquence, gives to the nobles the paper (which the Moor's arts had purloined for him) containing the names of the twelve senators whom Gianettino had doomed to death. While their rage is yet fresh, Kalkagno, a Conspirator, rushing in, announces that he had seen the treacherous Moor obtaining an audience with the Doge. The art and skill with which Fiesco manœuvres this point-cheers his friends silences Kalkagno-and carries off the ill-fortune, betray how accurate was Schiller's conception of the qualities requisite in a great leader. While this goes on, the Moor arrives-guarded— sent back by the Doge to Fiesco's mercy with this note :
"Methinks your fate and mine are nearly similar-your benefits procure you but ingratitude. The Moor has just informed me of a plot against my life. I send him bound to you, and shall sleep to-night without a body-guard."
This generous note, appealing to a generous mind, produces an instantaneous but evanescent effect. After resolving to throw up the whole conspiracy, Fiesco again returns to it-gives instructions to his companions and the scene changes. Among the amiable traits in the character of Julia Doria was a slight disposition to poison. She had prepared powders for Leonora. Fiesco had discovered the intended crime, and is now resolved to punish it. He had sent word to his wife to wait him behind the tapestry in the concert-room. Through that room Julia and Fiesco now pass. Julia confesses her passion to Fiesco. In the midst of that confession, he summons the conspirators, raises the tapestry, and betrays to Leonora and to his guests the guilty and shameless Julia. This scene is the worst part of the Play-it more appertains to comedy than tragedy-there is a coarse want of gallantry in the whole trick unlike the noble bearing of Fiesco, and it is but a paltry contrivance wherewith to stay a plot so dignified and high in its conception. All misunderstanding between Leonora and her husband is now at an end. He reveals to her his lofty ambition-he pours forth his undiminished love to herself. At this moment the mind of the tender Countess rises to its native height-she warns-she prays-she counsels-with ineffable sweetness, but with convincing wisdom— the aspiring noble. She has conquered-he forsakes his daring scheme. No; the signal gun is heard-Fiesco springs from her embrace the whole of the conspirators enter the hall-Leonora swoons -Fiesco throws himself at her feet
"Leonora! my Leonora ! Save her-for God's sake, save her!
(The whole of the conspirators, Fiesco at their head, draw their swords, and rush with enthusiasm from the saloon.) ACT V. Time past midnight.
"(FIESCO enters in complete armour, and remains for a short time standing opposite the Duke's palace.
Fiesco. 'Tis as the old man told me. The lights extinguished-
Andreas. Who rang the bell?
Ask not, but follow me!
But Fiesco in vain counsels the brave old Doge to fly-a horse waits. for him, in vain-The Doge leaves the balcony, and Fiesco, thinking. that in the attempt to save him, he has opposed "To virtue, virtue, and to honour, honour," hastens down a wide street. The drums beat to arms from every quarter-A sharp engagement at the Thomas Gate, which is at length burst open, and discovers a view of the harbour and shipping all illuminated. Enter Gianettino in a scarlet mantle-he in doubt, and bewildered-Bourgonino enters, and after a short conflict, the ravisher of Bertha falls. The Doge now guarded by his Germans, beholds his dead nephew-he is borne off. Leonora and her confidant Arabella steal across the stage. The timid woman but valiant wife, anxious for Fiesco, has followed him to the battle in male attire. Hearing from Isabella of the achievements of her husband, a new spirit a spirit of hope and daring-animates her. She sees Gianettino's sword, and hat, and scarlet mantle-indues them-the alarm sounds. In ecstasy at the roar, the tumult, and the proud name of Fiesco triumphant over all
66 Leonora's self shall dare the war,
My Brutus, clasp a Roman to his bosom !"
She hastens down one of the streets-soldiers enter-new directions as to the battle-to them succeed (we think this a magnificent Rembrandt contrast-the selfish crimes stalking through the stage, consecrated at that moment to armed struggles, dignified by the loftiest names of liberty and honour) the Moor with a gang of thieves, with matches and linstocks, &c. ready "to burn and plunder every place they meet with."
Fiesco enters shortly afterwards, startled at the fires bursting forth -orders them to be quenched, and demands if they are sure that Gianettino has fallen. One of the conspirators declares that he had seen him "not eight minutes since," in a yellow plume and scarlet mantle.-Fiesco rages at this news.-The Moor is brought in, accused of setting fire to the Jesuits' college, and hanged up at a distance. Leonora appears in the back-ground, in Gianettino's hat and mantle-Fiesco rushes furiously on her and hews her down, exclaiming
"If thou hast yet another life to lose,
Leonora falls with a piercing shriek-Triumphal music is heard-the soldiers enter the standards sink low-the trumpets sound
"All hail! Fiesco!-hail the Duke of Genoa !
Fiesco's first thought is for his absent wife-in the tortures of suspense, he desires that she "may share his glory and partake his joys"-he asks them to accompany him to their charming Duchess. But Gianettino's corse
"It must not rot in darkness
Fix the head
Upon a halbert."
Soldiers approach the body with torches-it is not Gianettino's visage. It is impossible for human genius to go beyond the magnificent and terrible art with which Schiller now draws, and lingers over, Fiesco's emotions-that painting may go side by side with the dread agony of Othello's last hour.
Fiesco is crowned; is an usurper; and now re-appears the stern and hard Verrina-Bertha with him (foreseeing the dark justice of his resolves)he dismisses his daughter and Bourgonino. Enter Verrina and Fiesco, both in armour-Fiesco with the insignia of royalty. Short as has been the time since we saw Fiesco last before us, we feel that he is changed-he cannot be the same man. We feel that the greenness of life is for ever gone from him—we feel that all soft emotions have passed from his soul-we are assured that an arid and dry ambition can alone strike root in the desolate grandeur of his soul-his daring crime no longer excites interest, but awe-we feel that the unlovely traits of his character have survived the crush and perdition of the more gentle and redeeming qualities-we no longer tremble lest justice should fall upon that plumed head-the dark catastrophe creeps upon us-we shudder, we hold our breath, but we do not seek to avert it. With Leonora passed away nothing indeed that we admired, but all that we loved in the magnificent Fiesco. The scene that now ensues is wonderfully fine. Fiesco presses Verrina to his bosom-endeavours to warm, to conciliate, to convince him that
"Power does not always constitute a tyrant.” Verrina rejects him coldly
"The very sight of royalty congeals him."
In vain Fiesco assures the blunt republican that he shall only make his dignity
Verrina exposes the sophistry; and at length, his indignation warming, bursts into one explosion, which appals and silences Fiesco. The time, we feel, has passed when Fiesco silenced all men. Recovering himself, Verrina now, in a tone of respect, beseeches him to give freedom to some slaves chained to the oar; while
"The sea receives their tears,
But, like a great man, hurries careless on,