Wohlthätig heilend nahet mir der Tod,
Der ernste Freund! Mit seinen schwarzen Fltigeln
Bedeckt er meine Schmach--den Menschen adelt,
Den tiefstgesunkenen das letzte Schicksal.--'Mary Stuart'.
AFTER the completion of 'Wallenstein', in the spring of 1799, Schiller was not long in selecting a new dramatic theme. The unwonted leisure was irksome to him, so that he felt like one living in a vacuum. At first, being weary of war and politics, he was minded to try his hand upon something altogether imaginary, some unhistorical drama of passion. But the aversion to history and the balancing of attractions did not last long. On the 26th of April he wrote to Goethe as follows:
I have turned my attention to a political episode of Queen Elizabeth's reign and have begun to study the trial of Mary Stuart. One or two first-rate tragic motives suggested themselves straightway, and these have given me great faith in the subject, which incontestably has much to recommend it. It seems to be especially adapted to the Euripidean method, which consists in the completest possible development of a situation; for I see a possibility of making a side issue out of the trial, and beginning the tragedy directly with the condemnation.
This time the historical orientation proceeded very rapidly. By the 4th of June he was ready to begin the