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Egmont   By: (1749-1832)

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EGMONT

A Tragedy In Five Acts

By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Translated by Anna Swanwick

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

In 1775, when Goethe was twenty six, and before he went to Weimar, he began to write "Egmont" After working on it at intervals for twelve years, he finished it at Rome in 1787.

The scene of the drama is laid in the Low Countries at the beginning of the revolt against Spain. In the fifteenth century Philip of Burgundy had usurped dominion over several of the provinces of the Netherlands, and through him they had passed into the power of his descendant, the Emperor Charles V. This powerful ruler abolished the constitutional rights of the provinces, and introduced the Inquisition in order to stamp out Protestantism. Prominent among his officers was the Fleming, Lamoral, Count Egmont, upon whom he lavished honors and opportunities of service opportunities so well improved that, by his victories over the French at Saint Quentin (1557) and Gravelines (1558) Egmont made a reputation as one of the most brilliant generals in Europe, and became the idol of his countrymen. When in 1559 a new Regent of the Netherlands was to be created, the people hoped that Philip II, who had succeeded Charles, would choose Egmont; but instead he appointed his half sister Margaret, Duchess of Parma. Under the new Regent the persecution of the Protestants was rigorously pressed, and in 1565 Egmont, though a Catholic, was sent to Madrid to plead for clemency. He was received by the King with every appearance of cordiality, but shortly after his return home the Duke of Alva was sent to the Netherlands with instructions to put down with an iron hand all resistance to his master's will. How terribly he carried out his orders has been told by Prescott and Motley. Egmont was an early victim, but his martyrdom, with that of Count Horn, and later the assassination of William of Orange, roused the Netherlands to a resistance that ended only with the complete throwing off of the Spanish yoke.

Such in outline is the background chosen by Goethe for his tragedy. With many changes in detail, the dramatist has still preserved a picture of a historical situation of absorbing interest, and has painted a group of admirable portraits. The drama has long been a favorite on the stage, where it enjoys the advantage of Beethoven's musical setting.

EGMONT

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Margaret of Parma, (Daughter of Charles V., and Regent of the Netherlands) Count Egmont, (Prince of Gaure) The Duke of Alva William of Orange Ferdinand, (his natural Son) Machiavel, in the service of the Regent Richard, (Egmont's Private Secretary)

Silva, Gomez, (in the service of Alva) Clara, (the Beloved of Egmont) Her Mother Brackenburg, (a Citizen's Son), and Vansen, (a Clerk) Soest, (a Shopkeeper), Jetter, (a Tailor), A Carpenter, A Soapboiler (Citizens of Brussels) Buyck, (a Hollander), a Soldier under Egmont Ruysum, (a Frieslander), an invalid Soldier, and deaf People, Attendants, Guards, &c.

The Scene is laid in Brussels.

ACT I

SCENE I. Soldiers and Citizens (with cross bows)

Jetter (steps forward, and bends his cross bow). Soest, Buyck, Ruysum

Soest. Come, shoot away, and have done with it! You won't beat me! Three black rings, you never made such a shot in all your life. And so I'm master for this year.

Jetter. Master and king to boot; who envies you? You'll have to pay double reckoning; 'tis only fair you should pay for your dexterity.

Buyck. Jetter, I'll buy your shot, share the prize, and treat the company. I have already been here so long, and am a debtor for so many civilities. If I miss, then it shall be as if you had shot.

Soest. I ought to have a voice, for in fact I am the loser. No matter! Come, Buyck, shoot away.

Buyck (shoots). Now, corporal, look out! One! Two! Three! Four!

Soest. Four rings! So be it!

All. Hurrah! Long live the King! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Buyck. Thanks, sirs, master even were too much! Thanks for the honour... Continue reading book >>




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