The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron

By George Gordon Byron | Go to book overview

WERNER;
OR, THE INHERITANCE
A TRAGEDYTO
THE ILLUSTRIOUS GOETHE,
BY ONE OF HIS HUMBLEST ADMIRERS,
THIS TRAGEDY IS DEDICATED.
PREFACE
The following drama is taken entirely from the German's Tale, Kruitzner, published many years ago in Lee's Canterbury Tales; written (I believe) by two sisters, of whom one furnished only this story and another, both of which are considered superior to the remainder of the collection. I have adopted the characters, plan, and even the language, of many parts of this story. Some of the characters are modified or altered, a few of the names changed, and one character (Ida of Stralenhelm) added by myself; but in the rest the original is chiefly followed. When I was young (about fourteen, I think) I first read this tale, which made a deep impression upon me; and may, indeed, be said to contain the germ of much that I have since written. I am not sure that it ever was very popular; or, at any rate, its popularity has since been eclipsed by that of other great writers in the same department. But I have generally found that those who had read it, agreed with me in their estimate of the singular power of mind and conception which it develops. I should also add conception, rather than execution; for the story might, perhaps, have been developed with greater advantage. Amongst those whose opinions agreed with mine upon this story, I could mention some very high names: but it is not necessary, nor indeed of any use; for every one must judge according to his own feelings. I merely refer the reader to the original story, that he may see to what extent I have borrowed from it; and am not unwilling that he should find much greater pleasure in perusing it than the drama which is founded upon its contents.I had begun a drama upon this tale so far back as 1815 (the first I ever attempted, except one at thirteen years old, called Ulric and Ilvina, which I had sense enough to burn), and had nearly completed an act, when I was interrupted by circumstances. This is somewhere amongst my papers in England; but as it has not been found, I have rewritten the first, and added the subsequent acts.The whole is neither intended, nor in any shape adapted, for the stage. PISA, February, 1822.
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

MEN
WERNE. HENRICH.
ULRIC. ERIC.
STRALENHEIM. ARNHEIM.
IDENSTRIN. MEISTER.
GABOR. RODOLPH.
FRITZ. LUDWIG.

WOMEN
JOSEPHINE. IDA STRALENHEIM.

Scene -- partly on the frontier of Silesia, and partly in
Siegendorf Castle, near Prague.
Time -- the Close of the Thirty Years' War.


ACT 1

SCENE 1

The Hall of a decayed Palace near a small Town on the
Northern Frontier of Silesia -- the Night tempestuous.

WERNER and JOSEPHINE his wife.

Jos. My love, be calmer!

Wer. I am calm.

Jos. To me --
Yes, but not to thyself: thy pace is hurried,
And no one walks a chamber like to ours
With steps like thine when his heart is at rest.
Were it a garden, I should deem thee happy,
And stepping with the bee from flower to flower;
But here!

Wer. 'T is chill; the tapestry lets through
The wind to which it waves: my blood is frozen.

Jos. Ah, no!

Wer. (smiling). Why! wouldst thou have it so?

Jos. I would
Have it a healthful current.

Wer. Let it flow 10

Until 't is spilt or check'd -- how soon, I care not.

Jos. And am I nothing in thy heart?

Wer. All -- all.

Jos. Then canst thou wish for that which must break mine?

Wer. (approaching her slowly). But for thee I had been -- no matter what,
But much of good and evil; what I am
Thou knowest; what I might or should have been,
Thou knowest not: but still I love thee, nor
Shall aught divide us.
[ WERNER walks on abruptly, and then approaches JoSEPHINZ.

-671-

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