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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 4. Schonbrunn
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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 4. Schonbrunn Post by :nileshkurhade Category :Plays Author :Thomas Hardy Date :May 2012 Read :1560

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The Dynasts: An Epic Drama Of The War With Napoleon - Part 3 - Act 5 - Scene 4. Schonbrunn


(The gardens of the Palace. Fountains and statuary are seen around, and the Gloriette colonnade rising against the sky on a hill behind.

The ex-EMPRESS MARIE LOUISE is discovered walking up and down. Accompanying her is the KING OF ROME--now a blue-eye, fair-haired child--in the charge of the COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU. Close by is COUNT NEIPPERG, and at a little distance MENEVAL, her attendant and Napoleon's adherent.

The EMPEROR FRANCIS and METTERNICH enter at the other end of the parterre.)

MARIE LOUISE (with a start)

Here are the Emperor and Prince Metternich.
Wrote you as I directed?


Promptly so.
I said your Majesty had not part
In this mad move of your Imperial spouse,
And made yourself a ward of the Allies;
Adding, that you had vowed irrevocably
To enter France no more.


Your worthy zeal
Has been a trifle swift. My meaning stretched
Not quite so far as that. . . . And yet--and yet
It matters little. Nothing matters much!

(The EMPEROR and METTERNICH come forward. NEIPPERG retires.)


My daughter, you did not a whit too soon
Voice your repudiation. Have you seen
What the allies have papered Europe with?


I have seen nothing.


Please you read it, Prince.

METTERNICH (taking out a paper)

"The Powers assembled at the Congress here
Owe it to their own troths and dignities,
And to the furtherance of social order,
To make a solemn Declaration, thus:
By breaking the convention as to Elba,
Napoleon Bonaparte forthwith destroys
His only legal title to exist,
And as a consequence has hurled himself
Beyond the pale of civil intercourse.
Disturber of the tranquillity of the world,
There can be neither peace nor truce with him,
And public vengeance is his self-sought doom.--
Signed by the Plenipotentiaries."


O God,
How terrible! . . . What shall---(she begins weeping.)


Is it papa
They want to hurt like that, dear Mamma 'Quiou?
Then 'twas no good my praying for him so;
And I can see that I am not going to be
A King much longer!

COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU (retiring with the child)

Pray for him, Monseigneur,
Morning and evening just the same! They plan
To take you off from me. But don't forget--
Do as I say!


Yes, Mamma 'Quiou, I will!--
But why have I no pages now? And why
Does my mamma the Empress weep so much?


We'll talk elsewhere.

(MONTESQUIOU and the KING OF ROME withdraw to back.)


At least, then, you agree
Not to attempt to follow Paris-ward
Your conscience-lacking husband, and create
More troubles in the State?--Remember this,
I sacrifice my every man and horse
Ere he Rule France again.


I am pledged already
To hold by the Allies; let that suffice!


For the clear good of all, your Majesty,
And for your safety and the King of Rome's,
It most befits that your Imperial father
Should have sole charge of the young king henceforth,
While these convulsions rage. That this is so
You will see, I think, in view of being installed
As Parma's Duchess, and take steps therefor.


I understand the terms to be as follows:
Parma is mine--my very own possession,--
And as a counterquit, the guardianship
Is ceded to my father of my son,
And I keep out of France.


And likewise this:
All missives that your Majesty receives
Under Napoleon's hand, you tender straight
The Austrian Cabinet, the seals unbroke;
With those received already.


You discern
How vastly to the welfare of your son
This course must tend? Duchess of Parma throned
You shine a wealthy woman, to endow
Your son with fortune and large landed fee.

MARIE LOUISE (bitterly)

I must have Parma: and those being the terms
Perforce accept! I weary of the strain
Of statecraft and political embroil:
I long for private quiet! . . . And now wish
To say no more at all.

(MENEVAL, who has heard her latter remarks, turns sadly away.)


There's nought to say;
All is in train to work straightforwardly.

(FRANCIS and METTERNICH depart. MARIE LOUISE retires towards the child and the COUNTESS OF MONTESQUIOU at the back of the parterre, where they are joined by NEIPPERG.

Enter in front DE MONTROND, a secret emissary of NAPOLEON, disguised as a florist examining the gardens. MENEVAL recognizes him and comes forward.)


Why are you here, de Montrond? All is hopeless!


Wherefore? The offer of the Regency
I come empowered to make, and will conduct her
Safely to Strassburg with her little son,
If she shrink not to breech her as a man,
And tiptoe from a postern unperceived?


Though such quaint gear would mould her to a youth
Fair as Adonis on a hunting morn,
Yet she'll refuse! A German prudery
Sits on her still; more, kneaded by her arts
There's no will left to her. I conjured her
To hold aloof, sign nothing. But in vain.

DE MONTROND (looking towards Marie Louise)

I fain would put it to her privately!


A thing impossible. No word to her
Without a word to him you see with her,
Neipperg to wit. She grows indifferent
To dreams as Regent; visioning a future
Wherein her son and self are two of three
But where the third is not Napoleon.

DE MONTROND (In sad surprise)

I may as well go hence then as I came,
And kneel to Heaven for one thing--that success
Attend Napoleon in the coming throes!


I'll walk with you for safety to the gate,
Though I am as the Emperor's man suspect,
And any day may be dismissed. If so
I go to Paris.



Had he but persevered, and biassed her
To slip the breeches on, and hie away,
Who knows but that the map of France had shaped
And it will never now!

(There enters from the other side of the gardens MARIA CAROLINA, ex-Queen of Naples, and grandmother of Marie Louise. The latter, dismissing MONTESQUIOU and the child, comes forward.)


I have crossed from Hetzendorf to kill an hour;
Why art so pensive, dear?


Ah, why! My lines
Rule ruggedly. You doubtless have perused
This vicious cry against the Emperor?
He's outlawed--to be caught alive or dead,
Like any noisome beast!


Nought have I heard,
My child. But these vile tricks, to pluck you from
Your nuptial plightage and your rightful glory
Make me belch oaths!--You shall not join your husband
Do they assert? My God, I know one thing,
Outlawed or no, I'd knot my sheets forthwith,
Were I but you, and steal to him in disguise,
Let come what would come! Marriage is for life.


Mostly; not always: not with Josephine;
And, maybe, not with me. But, that apart,
I could do nothing so outrageous.
Too many things, dear grand-dame, you forget.
A puppet I, by force inflexible,
Was bid to wed Napoleon at a nod,--
The man acclaimed to me from cradle-days
As the incarnate of all evil things,
The Antichrist himself.--I kissed the cup,
Gulped down the inevitable, and married him;
But none the less I saw myself therein
The lamb whose innocent flesh was dressed to grace
The altar of dynastic ritual!--
Hence Elba flung no duty-call to me,
Neither does Paris now.


I do perceive
They have worked on you to much effect already!
Go, join your Count; he waits you, dear.--Well, well;
The way the wind blows needs no cock to tell!

(Exeunt severally QUEEN MARIA CAROLINA and MARIE LOUISE with NEIPPERG. The sun sets over the gardens and the scene fades.)

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