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Demetrius   By: (1759-1805)

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By Frederich Schiller




On the rising of the curtain the Polish Diet is discovered, seated in the great senate hall. On a raised platform, elevated by three steps, and surmounted by a canopy, is the imperial throne, the escutcheons of Poland and Lithuania suspended on each side. The KING seated upon the throne; on his right and left hand his ten royal officers standing on the platform. Below the platform the BISHOPS, PALATINES, and CASTELLANS seated on each side of the stage. Opposite to these stand the Provincial DEPUTIES, in a double line, uncovered. All armed. The ARCHBISHOP OF GNESEN, as the primate of the kingdom, is seated next the proscenium; his chaplain behind him, bearing a golden cross.

ARCHBISHOP OF GNESEN. Thus then hath this tempestuous Diet been Conducted safely to a prosperous close; And king and commons part as cordial friends. The nobles have consented to disarm, And straight disband the dangerous Rocoss [1]; Whilst our good king his sacred word has pledged, That every just complaint shall have redress. And now that all is peace at home, we may Look to the things that claim our care abroad. Is it the will of the most high Estates That Prince Demetrius, who hath advanced A claim to Russia's crown, as Ivan's son, Should at their bar appear, and in the face Of this august assembly prove his right?

[1] An insurrectionary muster of the nobles.

CASTELLAN OF CRACOW. Honor and justice both demand he should; It were unseemly to refuse his prayer.

BISHOP OF WERMELAND. The documents on which he rests have been Examined, and are found authentic. We May give him audience.

SEVERAL DEPUTIES. Nay! We must, we must!

LEO SAPIEHA. To hear is to admit his right.

ODOWALSKY. And not To hear is to reject his claims unheard.

ARCHBISHOP OF GNESEN. Is it your will that he have audience? I ask it for the second time and third.

IMPERIAL CHANCELLOR. Let him stand forth before our throne!

SENATORS. And speak!

DEPUTIES. Yes, yes! Let him be heard!

[The Imperial GRAND MARSHAL beckons with his baton to the doorkeeper, who goes out.

LEO SAPIEHA (to the CHANCELLOR). Write down, my lord, That here I do protest against this step, And all that may ensue therefrom, to mar The peace of Poland's state and Moscow's crown.

[Enters DEMETRIUS. Advances some steps towards the throne, and makes three bows with his head uncovered, first to the KING, next to the SENATORS, and then to the DEPUTIES, who all severally answer with an inclination of the head. He then takes up his position so as to keep within his eye a great portion of the assemblage, and yet not to turn his back upon the throne.

ARCHBISHOP OF GNESEN. Prince Dmitri, son of Ivan! if the pomp Of this great Diet scare thee, or a sight So noble and majestic chain thy tongue, Thou may'st for this the senate have allowed Choose thee a proxy, wheresoe'er thou list, And do thy mission by another's lips.

DEMETRIUS. My lord archbishop, I stand here to claim A kingdom, and the state of royalty. 'Twould ill beseem me should I quake before A noble people, and its king and senate. I ne'er have viewed a circle so august, But the sight swells my heart within my breast And not appals me. The more worthy ye, To me ye are more welcome; I can ne'er Address my claim to nobler auditory.

ARCHBISHOP OF GNESEN. . . . . The august republic Is favorably bent. . . . .

DEMETRIUS. Most puissant king! Most worthy and most potent Bishops and palatines, and my good lords, The deputies of the august republic! It gives me pause and wonder to behold Myself, Czar Ivan's son, now stand before The Polish people in their Diet here... Continue reading book >>

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