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Title: Henry IV (Enrico Quarto) [1922]
       A Tragedy in Three Acts
Author: Luigi Pirandello
Translated by Edward A Storer (1882-1944)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0700071.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: January 2007
Date most recently updated: January 2007

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Title: Henry IV (Enrico Quarto) [1922]
       A Tragedy in Three Acts
Author: Luigi Pirandello
Translated by Edward A Storer (1882-1944)



(The names in brackets are nicknames).




Salon in the villa, furnished and decorated so as to look exactly
like the throne room of Henry IV. in the royal residence at Goslar.
Among the antique decorations there are two modern life-size portraits
in oil painting. They are placed against the back wall, and mounted in
a wooden stand that runs the whole length of the wall. (It is wide and
protrudes, so that it is like a large bench). One of the paintings is
on the right; the other on the left of the throne, which is in the
middle of the wall and divides the stand.

The Imperial chair and Baldachin.

The two portraits represent a lady and a gentleman, both young,
dressed up in carnival costumes: one as "Henry IV.," the other as the
"Marchioness Matilda of Tuscany." Exits to Right and Left.

(When the curtain goes up, the two valets jump down, as if
surprised, from the stand on which they have been lying, and go and
take their positions, as rigid as statues, on either side below the
throne with their halberds in their hands. Soon after, from the second
exit, right, enter Harold, Landolph, Ordulph and Berthold, young men
employed by the Marquis Charles Di Nolli to play the part of "Secret
Counsellors" at the court of "Henry IV." They are, therefore, dressed
like German knights of the XIth century. Berthold, nicknamed Fino, is
just entering on his duties for the first time. His companions are
telling him what he has to do and amusing themselves at his expense.
The scene is to be played rapidly and vivaciously).

LANDOLPH (to Berthold as if explaining). And this is the throne room.

HAROLD. At Goslar.

ORDULPH. Or at the castle in the Hartz, if you prefer.

HAROLD. Or at Wurms.

LANDOLPH. According as to what's doing, it jumps about with us, now
here, now there.

ORDULPH. In Saxony.

HAROLD. In Lombardy.

LANDOLPH. On the Rhine.

ONE OF THE VALETS (without moving, just opening his lips). I

HAROLD (turning round). What is it?

FIRST VALET (like a statue). Is he coming in or not? (He
alludes to Henry IV.)

ORDULPH. No, no, he's asleep. You needn't worry.

SECOND VALET (releasing his pose, taking a long breath and going
to lie down again on the stand). You might have told us at

FIRST VALET (going over to Harold). Have you got a match, please?

LANDOLPH. What? You can't smoke a pipe here, you know.

FIRST VALET (while Harold offers him a light). No; a
cigarette. (Lights his cigarette and lies down again on the

BERTHOLD (who has been looking on in amazement, walking round the
room, regarding the costumes of the others). I say...this room...
these costumes...Which Henry IV. is it? I don't quite get it. Is he
Henry IV. of France or not? (At this Landolph, Harold, and Ordulph,
burst out laughing).

LANDOLPH (still laughing; and pointing to Berth old as if
inviting the others to make fun of him). Henry of France he says:
ha! ha! ORDULPH. He thought it was the king of France!

HAROLD. Henry IV. of Germany, my boy: the Salian dynasty!

ORDULPH. The great and tragic Emperor!

LANDOLPH. He of Canossa. Every day we carry on here the terrible war
between Church and State, by Jove.

ORDULPH. The Empire against the Papacy!

HAROLD. Antipopes against the Pope!

LANDOLPH. Kings against antikings!

ORDULPH. War on the Saxons!

HAROLD. And all the rebels Princes!

LANDOLPH. Against the Emporer's own sons!

BERTHOLD (covering his head with his hands to protect himself
against this avalanche of information). I understand! I understand!
Naturally, I didn't get the idea at first. I'm right then: these aren't
costumes of the XVIth century?

HAROLD. XVIth century be hanged!

ORDULPH. We're somewhere between a thousand and eleven hundred.

LANDOLPH. Work it out for yourself: if we are before Canossa on the
25th of January, 1071...

BERTHOLD (more confused than ever). Oh my God! What a mess
I've made of it!

ORDULPH. Well, just slightly, if you supposed you were at the French

BERTHOLD. All that historical stuff I've swatted up!

LANDOLPH. My dear boy, it's four hundred years earlier.

BERTHOLD (getting angry). Good Heavens! You ought to have
told me it was Germany and not France. I can't tell you how many books
I've read in the last fifteen days.

HAROLD. But I say, surely you knew that poor Tito was Adalbert of
Bremen, here?

BERTHOLD. Not a damned bit!

LANDOLPH. Well, don't you see how it is? When Tito died, the Marquis
Di Nolli...

BERTHOLD. Oh, it was he, was it? He might have told me.

HAROLD. Perhaps he thought you knew.

LANDOLPH. He didn't want to engage anyone else in substitution. He
thought the remaining three of us would do. But he began to cry out:
"With Adalbert driven away...": because, you see, he didn't imagine
poor Tito was dead; but that, as Bishop Adalbert, the rival bishops of
Cologne and Mayence had driven him off...

BERTHOLD (taking his head in his hand). But I don't know a
word of what you're talking about.

ORDULPH. So much the worse for you, my boy!

HAROLD. But the trouble is that not even we know who you are.

BERTHOLD. What? Not even you? You don't know who I'm supposed to

ORDULPH. Hum! "Berthold."

BERTHOLD. But which Berthold? And why Berthold?

LANDOLPH (solemnly imitating Henry IV.). "They've driven
Adalbert away from me. Well then, I want Berthold! I want Berthold !"
That's what he said.

HAROLD. We three looked one another in the eyes: who's got to be

ORDULPH. And so here you are, "Berthold," my dear fellow!

LANDOLPH. I'm afraid you will make a bit of a mess of it.

BERTHOLD (indignant, getting ready to go). Ah, no! Thanks
very much, but I'm off! I'm out of this!

HAROLD (restraining him with the other two, amid laughter).
Steady now! Don't get excited!

LANDOLPH. Cheer up, my dear fellow! We don't any of us know who we
are really. He's Harold; he's Ordulph; I'm Landolph! That's the way he
calls us. We've got used to it. But who are we? Names of the period!
Yours, too, is a name of the period: Berthold! Only one of us, poor
Tito, had got a really decent part, as you can read in history: that of
the Bishop of Bremen. He was just like a real bishop. Tito did it
awfully well, poor chap!

HAROLD. Look at the study he put into it!

LANDOLPH. Why, he even ordered his Majesty about, opposed his views,
guided and counselled him. We're "secret counsellors"--in a manner of
speaking only; because it is written in history that Henry IV. was
hated by the upper aristocracy for surrounding himself at court with
young men of the bourgeoise.

ORDULPH. Us, that is.

LANDOLPH. Yes, small devoted vassals, a bit dissolute and very

BERTHOLD. So I've got to be gay as well?

HAROLD. I should say so! Same as we are!

ORDULPH. And it isn't too easy, you know.

LANDOLPH. It's a pity; because the way we're got up, we could do a
fine historical reconstruction. There's any amount of material in the
story of Henry IV. But, as a matter of fact, we do nothing. We've have
the form without the content. We're worse than the real secret
counsellors of Henry IV.; because certainly no one had given them a
part to play--at any rate, they didn't feel they had a part to play. It
was their life. They looked after their own interests at the expense of
others, sold investitures and-- what not! We stop here in this
magnificent court --for what?--Just doing nothing. We're like so many
puppets hung on the wall, waiting for some one to come and move us or
make us talk.

HAROLD. Ah no, old sport, not quite that! We've got to give the
proper answer, you know. There's trouble if he asks you something and
you don't chip in with the cue.

LANDOLPH. Yes, that's true.

BERTHOLD. Don't rub it in too hard! How the devil am I to give him
the proper answer, if I've swatted up Henry IV. of France, and now he
turns out to be Henry IV. of Germany? (The other three

HAROLD. You'd better start and prepare yourself at once.

ORDULPH. We'll help you out.

HAROLD. We've got any amount of books on the subject. A brief run
through the main points will do to begin with.

ORDULPH. At any rate, you must have got some sort of general

HAROLD. Look here! (Turns him around and shows him the portrait
of the March ioness Matilda on the wall). Who's that?

BERTHOLD (looking at it). That? Well, the thing seems to me
somewhat out of place, anyway: two modern paintings in the midst of all
this respectable antiquity!

HAROLD. You're right! They weren't there in the beginning. There are
two niches there behind the pictures. They were going to put up two
statues in the style of the period. Then the places were covered with
those canvasses there.

LANDOLPH (interrupting and continuing). They would certainly
be out of place if they really were paintings!

BERTHOLD. What are they, if they aren't paintings?

LANDOLPH. Go and touch them! Pictures all right...but for him!
(Makes a mysterious gesture to the right, alluding to Henry
IV.)...who never touches them!...

BERTHOLD. No? What are they for him?

LANDOLPH. Well, I'm only supposing, you know; but I imagine I'm
about right. They're images such as...well--such as a mirror might
throw back. Do you understand? That one there represents himself, as he
is in this throne room, which is all in the style of the period.
V/hat's there to marvel at? If we put you before a mirror, won't you
see yourself, alive, but dressed up in ancient costume? Well, it's as
if there were two mirrors there, which cast back living images in the
midst of a world which, as you will see, when you have lived with us,
comes to life too.

BERTHOLD. I say, look here...I've no particular desire to go mad

HAROLD. Go mad, be hanged! You'll have a fine time! BERTHOLD. Tell
me this: how have you all managed to become so learned?

LANDOLPH. My dear fellow, you can't go back over 800 years of
history without picking up a bit of experience.

HAROLD. Come on! Come on! You'll see how quickly you get into

ORDULPH. You'll learn wisdom, too, at this school.

BERTHOLD. Well, for Heaven's sake, help me a bit! Give me the main
lines, anyway.

HAROLD. Leave it to us. We'll do it all between us.

LANDOLPH. We'll put your wires on you and fix you up like a first
class marionette. Come along! (They take him by the arm to lead him

BERTHOLD (stopping and looking at the portrait on the wall).
Wait a minute! You haven't told me who that is. The Emperor's wife?

HAROLD. No! The Emperor's wife is Bertha of Susa, the sister of
Amadeus II. of Savoy.

ORDULPH. And the Emperor, who wants to be young with us, can't stand
her, and wants to put her away.

LANDOLPH. That is his most ferocious enemy: Matilda, Marchioness of

BERTHOLD. Ab, I've got it: the one who gave hospitality to the

LANDOLPH. Exactly: at Canossa!

ORDULPH. Pope Gregory VII.!

HAROLD. Our bte noir! Come on! come on! (All four
move toward the right to go out, when, from the left, the old servant
John enters in evening dress).

JOHN (quickly, anxiously). Hss! Hss! Frank! Lolo!

HAROLD (turning round). What is it?

BERTHOLD (marvelling at seeing a man in modern clothes enter the
throne room). Oh! I say, this is a bit too much, this chap

LANDOLPH. A man of the XXth century, here! Oh, go away! (They run
over to him, pretending to menace him and throw him out).

ORDULPH (heroically). Messenger of Gregory VII., away!

HAROLD. Away! Away!

JOHN (annoyed, defending himself). Oh, stop it! Stop it, I
tell you!

ORDULPH. No, you can't set foot here!

HAROLD. Out with him!

LANDOLPH (to Berthold). Magic, you know! He's a demon
conjured up by the Wizard of Rome! Out with your swords! (Makes as
if to draw a sword).

JOHN (shouting). Stop it, will you? Don't play the fool with
me! The Marquis has arrived with some friends...

LANDOLPH. Good! Good! Are there ladies too?

ORDULPH. Old or young?

JOHN. There are two gentlemen.

HAROLD. But the ladies, the ladies, who are they?

JOHN. The Marchioness and her daughter.

LANDOLPH (surprised). What do you say?

ORDULPH. The Marchioness?

JOHN. The Marchioness! The Marchioness!

HAROLD. Who are the gentlemen?

JOHN. I don't know.

HAROLD (to Berthold). They're coming to bring us a message
from the Pope, do you see?

ORDULPH. All messengers of Gregory VII.! What fun!

JOHN. Will you let me speak, or not?

HAROLD. Go on, then!

JOHN. One of the two gentlemen is a doctor, I fancy.

LANDOLPH. Oh, I see, one of the usual doctors.

HAROLD. Brayo Berthold, you'll bring us luck!

LANDOLPH. You wait and see how we'll manage this doctor!

BERTHOLD. It looks as if I were going to get into a nice mess right

JOHN. If the gentlemen would allow me to speak...they want to come
here into the throne room.

LANDOLPH (surprised). What? She? The Marchioness here?

HAROLD. Then this is something quite different! No play-acting this

LANDOLPH. We'll have a real tragedy: that's what!

BERTHOLD (curious). Why? Why?

ORDULPH (pointing to the portrait). She is that person there,
don't you understand?

LANDOLPH. The daughter is the fiance of the Marquis. But
what have they come for, I should like to know?

ORDULPH. If he sees her, there'll be trouble.

LANDOLPH. Perhaps he won't recognize her any more.

JOHN. You must keep him there, if he should wake up...

ORDULPH. Easier said than done, by Jove!

HAROLD. You know what he's like!

JOHN.--even by force, if necessary! Those are my orders. Go on! Go

HAROLD. Yes, because who knows if he hasn't already wakened up?

ORDULPH. Come on then!

LANDOLPH (going towards John with the others). You'll tell us
later what it all means.

JOHN (shouting after them). Close the door there, and hide
the key! That other door too. (Pointing to the other door on

JOHN (to the two valets). Be off, you two! There (pointing
to exit right)! Close the door after you, and hide the key!

(The two valets go out by the first door on right. John moves
over to the left to show in: Donna Matilda Spina, the young Marchioness
Frida, Dr. Dionysius Genoni, the Baron Tito Belcredi and the young
Marquis Charles Di Nolli, who, as master of the house, enters

DONNA MATILDA SPINA is about 45, still handsome, although there are
too patent signs of her attempts to remedy the ravages of time with
make-up. Her head is thus rather like a Walkyrie. This facial make-up
contrasts with her beautiful sad mouth. A widow for many years, she now
has as her friend the Baron Tito Belcredi, whom neither she nor anyone
else takes seriously--at least so it would appear.

What TITO BELCREDI really is for her at bottom, he alone knows; and
he is, therefore, entitled to laugh, if his friend feels the need of
pretending not to know. He can always laugh at the jests which the
beautiful Marchioness makes with the others at his expense. He is slim,
prematurely gray, and younger than she is. His head is bird-like in
shape. He would be a very vivacious person, if his ductile agility
(which among other things makes him a redoubtable swordsman)
were not enclosed in a sheath of Arab-like laziness, which is revealed
in his strange, nasal drawn-out voice.

FRIDA, the daughter of the Marchioness is 19. She is sad; because
her imperious and too beautiful mother puts her in the shade, and
provokes facile gossip against her daughter as well as against herself.
Fortunately for her, she is engaged to the Marquis Charles Di

CHARLES DI NOLLI is a stiff young man, very indulgent towards
others, but sure of himself for what he amounts to in the world. He is
worried about all the responsibilities which he believes weigh on him.
He is dressed in deep mourning for the recent death of his mother.

Dr. DIONYSIUS GENONI has a bold rubicund Satyr-like face, prominent
eyes, a pointed beard (which is silvery and shiny) and elegant
manners. He is nearly bald. All enter in a state of perturbation,
almost as if afraid, and all (except Di Nolli) looking curiously
about the room. At first, they speak sotto voce.

DI NOLLI (to John). Have you given the orders properly?

JOHN. Yes, my Lord; don't be anxious about that.

BELCREDI. Ah, magnificent! magnificent!

DOCTOR. How extremely interesting! Even in the surroundings his
raving madness--is perfectly taken into account!

DONNA MATILDA (glancing round for her portrait, discovers it, and
goes up close to it). Ah! Here it is! (Going back to admire it,
while mixed emotions stir within her). Yes...yes...(Calls her
daughter Frida).

FRIDA. Ah, your portrait!

DONNA MATILDA. No, no...look again; it's you, not I, there!

DI NOLLI. Yes, it's quite true. I told you so, I...DONNA MATILDA.
But I would never have believed it! (Shaking as if with a
chill). What a strange feeling it gives one! (Then looking at
her daughter). Frida, what's the matter? (She pulls her to her
side, and slips an arm round her waist). Come: don't you see
yourself in me there?

FRIDA. Well, I really...

DONNA MATILDA. Don't you think so? Don't you, really? (Turning to
Belcredi)...Look at it, Tito! Speak up, man!

BELCREDI (without looking). Ah, no! I shan't look at it. For
me, a priori, certainly not!

DONNA MATILDA. Stupid! You think you are paying me a compliment!
(Turing to Doctor Genoni). What do you say, Doctor? Do say
something, please!

DOCTOR (makes a movement to go near to the picture).

BELCREDI (with his back turned, pretending to attract his
attention secretely)...Hss! No, doctor! For the love of Heaven,
have nothing to do with it!

DOCTOR (getting bewildered and smiling). And why shouldn't

DONNA MATILDA. Don't listen to him! Come here! He's

FRIDA. He acts the fool by profession, didn't you know that?

BELCREDI (to the Doctor, seeing him go over). Look at your
feet, doctor! Mind where you're going!


BELCREDI. Be careful you don't put your foot in it!

DOCTOR (laughing feebly). No, no. After all, it seems to me
there's no reason to be astonished at the fact that a daughter should
resemble her mother!

BELCREDI. Hullo! Hullo! He's done it now; he's said it.

DONNA MATILDA (with exaggerated anger, advancing towards
Belcredi). What's the matter? What has he said? What has he

DOCTOR (candidly). Well, isn't it so?

BELCREDI (answering the Marchioness). I said there was
nothing to be astounded at--and you are astounded! And why so, then, if
the thing is so simple and natural for you now?

DONNA MATILDA (still more angry). Fool! fool! It's just
because it is so natural! Just because it isn't my daughter who is
there. (Pointing to the canvass). That is my portrait; and to
find my daughter there instead of me fills me with astonishment, an
astonishment which, I beg you to believe, is sincere. I forbid you to
cast doubts on it.

FRIDA (slowly and wearily). My God! It's always like
this...rows over nothing...

BELCREDI (also slowly, looking dejected, in accents of
apology). I cast no doubt on anything! I noticed from the beginning
that you haven't shared your mother's astonishment; or, if something
did astonish you, it was because the likeness between you and the
portrait seemed so strong.

DONNA MATILDA. Naturally! She cannot recognize herself in me as I
was at her age; while I, there, can very well recognize myself in her
as she is now!

DOCTOR. Quite right! Because a portrait is always there fixed in the
twinkling of an eye: for the young lady something far away and without
memories, while, for the Marchioness, it can bring back everything:
movements, gestures, looks, smiles, a whole heap of things...


DOCTOR (continuing, turning towards her). Naturally enough,
you can live all these old sensations again in your daughter.

DONNA MATILDA. He always spoils every innocent pleasure for me,
every touch I have of spontaneous sentiment! He does it merely to annoy

DOCTOR (frightened at the disturbance he has caused, adopts a
professorial tone). Likeness, dear Baron, is often the result of
imponderable things. So one explains that...

BELCREDI (interrupting the discourse). Somebody will soon be
finding a likeness between you and me, my dear professor!

DI NOLLI. Oh! let's finish with this, please! (Points to the two
doors on the Right, as a warning that there is someone there who may be
listening). We've wasted too much time as it is!

FRIDA. As one might expect when he's present (alludes to

DI NOLLI. Enough! The doctor is here; and we have come for a very
serious purpose which you all know is important for me.

DOCTOR. Yes, that is so! But now, first of all, let's try to get
some points down exactly. Excuse me, Marchioness will you tell me why
your portrait is here? Did you present it to him then?

DONNA MATILDA. No, not at all. How could I have given it to him? I
was just like Frida then --and not even engaged. I gave it to him three
or four years after the accident. I gave it to him because his mother
wished it so much (points to Di Nolli)...

DOCTOR. She was his sister (alludes to Henry IV.)?

DI NOLLI. Yes, doctor; and our coming here is a debt we pay to my
mother who has been dead for more than a month. Instead of being here,
she and I (indicating Frida) ought to be traveling

DOCTOR...taking a cure of quite a different kind!

DI NOLLI.--Hum! Mother died in the firm conviction that her adored
brother was just about to be cured.

DOCTOR. And can't you tell me, if you please, how she inferred

DI NOLLI. The conviction would appear to have derived from certain
strange remarks which he made, a little before mother died.

DOCTOR. Oh, remarks!...Ah!...It would be extremely useful for me
to have those remarks, word for word, if possible.

DI NOLLI. I can't remember them. I know that mother returned awfully
upset from her last visit with him. On her death-bed, she made me
promise that I would never neglect him, that I would have doctors see
him, and examine him.

DOCTOR. Um! Um! Let me see! let me see! Sometimes very small reasons
determine...and this portrait here then?...

DONNA MATILDA. For Heaven's sake, doctor, don't attach excessive
importance to this. It made an impression on me because I had not seen
it for so many years!

DOCTOR. If you please, quietly, quietly...

DI NOLLI.--Well, yes, it must be about fifteen years ago.

DONNA MATILDA. More, more: eighteen!

DOCTOR. Forgive me, but you don't quite know what I'm trying to get
at. I attach a very great importance to these two portraits...They were
painted, naturally, prior to the famous-- and most regrettable pageant,
weren't they?


DOCTOR. That is...when he was quite in his right mind--that's what
I've been trying to say. Was it his suggestion that they should be

DONNA MATILDA. Lots of the people who took part in the pageant had
theirs done as a souvenir...

BELCREDI. I had mine done--as "Charles of Anjou !"

DONNA soon as the costumes were ready.

BELCREDI. As a matter of fact, it was proposed that the whole lot of
us should be hung together in a gallery of the villa where the pageant
took place. But in the end, everybody wanted to keep his own

DONNA MATILDA. And I gave him this portrait of me without very much
regret...since his mother...(indicates Di Nolli).

DOCTOR. You don't remember if it was he who asked for it?

DONNA MATILDA. Ah, that I don't remember...Maybe it was his sister,
wanting to help out...

DOCTOR. One other thing: was it his idea, this pageant?

BELCREDI (at once). No, no, it was mine!

DOCTOR. If you please...

DONNA MATILDA. Don't listen to him! It was poor Belassi's idea.

BELCREDI. Belassi! What had he got to do with it?

DONNA MATILDA. Count Belassi, who died, poor fellow, two or three
months after...

BELCREDI. But if Belassi wasn't there when...

DI NOLLI. Excuse me, doctor; but is it really necessary to establish
whose the original idea was?

DOCTOR. It would help me, certainly!

BELCREDI. I tell you the idea was mine! There's nothing to be proud
of in it, seeing what the result's been. Look here, doctor, it was like
this. One evening, in the first days of November, I was looking at an
illustrated German review in the club. I was merely glancing at the
pictures, because I can't read German. There was a picture of the
Kaiser, at some University town where he had been a student...I don't
remember which.

DOCTOR. Bonn, Bonn!

BELCREDI.--You are right: Bonn! He was on horseback, dressed up in
one of those ancient German student guild-costumes, followed by a
procession of noble students, also in costume. The picture gave me the
idea. Already some one at the club had spoken of a pageant for the
forthcoming carnival. So I had the notion that each of us should choose
for this Tower of Babel pageant to represent some character: a king, an
emperor, a prince, with his queen, empress, or lady, alongside of
him--and all on horseback. The suggestion was at once accepted.

DONNA MATILDA. I had my invitation from Belassi.

BELCREDI. Well, he wasn't speaking the truth! That's all I can say,
if he told you the idea was his. He wasn't even at the club the evening
I made the suggestion, just as he (meaning Henry IV.) wasn't
there either.

DOCTOR. So he chose the character of Henry IV.?

DONNA MATILDA. Because I...thinking of my name, and not giving the
choice any importance, said I would be the Marchioness Matilda of

DOCTOR. I...don't understand the relation between the two.

DONNA MATILDA.--Neither did I, to begin with, when he said that in
that case he would be at my feet like Henry IV. at Canossa. I had heard
of Canossa of course; but to tell the truth, I'd forgotten most of the
story; and I remember I received a curious impression when I had to get
up my part, and found that I was the faithful and zealous friend of
Pope Gregory VII. in deadly enmity with the Emperor of Germany. Then I
understood why, since I had chosen to represent his implacable enemy,
he wanted to be near me in the pageant as Henry IV.

DOCTOR. Ah, perhaps because...

BELCREDI.--Good Heavens, doctor, because he was then paying furious
court to her (indicates the Marchioness)! And she,

DONNA MATILDA. Naturally? Not naturally at all...

BELCREDI (pointing to her). She couldn't stand him...

DONNA MATILDA.--No, that isn't true! I didn't dislike him. Not at
all! But for me, when a man begins to want to be taken seriously,

BELCREDI (continuing for her). He gives you the clearest
proof of his stupidity.

DONNA MATILDA. No dear; not in this case; because he was never a
fool like you.

BELCREDI. Anyway, I've never asked you to take me seriously.

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, I know. But with him one couldn't joke
(changing her tone and speaking to the Doctor). One of the many
misfortunes which happen to us women, Doctor, is to see before us every
now and again a pair of eyes glaring at us with a contained intense
promise of eternal devotion. (Bursts out laughing). There is
nothing quite so funny. If men could only see themselves with that
eternal fidelity look in their faces! I've always thought it comic;
then more even than now. But I want to make a confession--I can do so
after twenty years or more. When I laughed at him then, it was partly
out of fear. One might have almost believed a promise from those eyes
of his. But it would have been very dangerous.

DOCTOR (with lively interest). Ah! ah! This is most
interesting! Very dangerous, you say?

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, because he was very different from the others.
And then, I am...well...what shall I say?...a little impatient of all
that is pondered, or tedious. But I was too young then, and a woman. I
had the bit between my teeth. It would have required more courage than
I felt I possessed. So I laughed at him too--with remorse, to spite
myself, indeed; since I saw that my own laugh mingled with those of all
the others--the other fools--who made fun of him.

BELCREDI. My own case, more or less!

DONNA MATILDA. You make people laugh at you, my dear, with your
trick of always humiliating yourself. It was quite a different affair
with him. There's a vast difference. And you--you know--people laugh in
your face!

BELCREDI. Well, that's better than behind one's back!

DOCTOR. Let's get to the facts. He was then already somewhat
exalted, if I understand rightly.

BELCREDI. Yes, but in a curious fashion, doctor.


BELCREDI. Well, cold-bloodedly so to speak.

DONNA MATILDA. Not at all! It was like this, doctor! He was a bit
strange, certainly; but only because he was fond of life: eccentric,

BELCREDI. I don't say he simulated exaltation. On the contrary, he
was often genuinely exalted. But I could swear, doctor, that he saw
himself at once in his own exaltation. Moreover, I'm certain it made
him suffer. Sometimes he had the most comical fits of rage against


DONNA MATILDA. That is true.

BELCREDI (to Donna Matilda). And why? (To the doctor).
Evidently, because that immediate lucidity that comes from acting,
assuming a part, at once put him out of key with his own feelings,
which seemed to him not exactly false, but like something he was
obliged to valorize there and then as--what shall I say--as an act of
intelligence, to make up for that sincere cordial warmth he felt
lacking. So he improvised, exaggerated, let himself go, so as to
distract and forget himself. He appeared inconstant, fatuous,
and--yes--even ridiculous, sometimes.

DOCTOR. And may we say unsociable?

BELCREDI. No, not at all. He was famous for getting up things:
tableaux vivants, dances, theatrical performances for charity: all for
the fun of the thing, of course. He was a jolly good actor, you

DI NOLLI. Madness has made a superb actor of him.

BELCREDI.--Why, so he was even in the old days. When the accident
happened, after the horse fell...

DOCTOR. Hit the back of his head, didn't he?

DONNA MATILDA. Oh, it was horrible! He was beside me! I saw him
between the horse's hoofs! It was rearing!

BELCREDI. None of us thought it was anything serious at first. There
was a stop in the pageant, a bit of disorder. People wanted to know
what had happened. But they'd already taken him off to the villa.

DONNA MATILDA. There wasn't the least sign of a wound, not a drop of

BELCREDI. We thought he had merely fainted.

DONNA MATILDA. But two hours afterwards...

BELCREDI. He reappeared in the drawing-room of the villa...that is
what I wanted to say...

DONNA MATILDA. My God! What a face he had. I saw the whole thing at

BELCREDI. No, no! that isn't true. Nobody saw it, doctor, believe

DONNA MATILDA. Doubtless, because you were all like mad folk.

BELCREDI. Everybody was pretending to act his part for a joke. It
was a regular Babel.

DONNA MATILDA. And you can imagine, doctor, what terror struck into
us when we understood that he, on the contrary, was playing his part in
deadly earnest...

DOCTOR. Oh, he was there too, was he?

BELCREDI. Of course! He came straight into the midst of us. We
thought he'd quite recovered, and was pretending, fooling, like all the
rest of us...only doing it rather better; because, as I say, he knew
how to act.

DONNA MATILDA. Some of them began to hit him with their whips and
fans and sticks.

BELCREDI. And then--as a king, he was armed, of course --he drew out
his sword and menaced two or three of us...It was a terrible moment, I
can assure you!

DONNA MATILDA. I shall never forget that scene --all our masked
faces hideous and terrified gazing at him, at that terrible mask of his
face, which was no longer a mask, but madness, madness personified.

BELCREDI. He was Henry IV., Henry IV. in person, in a moment of

DONNA MATILDA. He'd got into it all the detail and minute
preparation of a month's careful study. And it all burned and blazed
there in the terrible obsession which lit his face.

DOCTOR. Yes, that is quite natural, of course. The momentary
obsession of a dilettante became fixed, owing to the fall and the
damage to the brain.

BELCREDI (to Frida and Di Nolli). You see the kind of jokes
life can play on us. (To Di Nolli): You were four or five years
old. (To Frida) Your mother imagines you've taken her place
there in that portrait; when, at the time, she had not the remotest
idea that she would bring you into the world. My hair is already grey;
and he--look at him--(points to portrait)--ha! A smack on the
head, and he never moves again: Henry IV. for ever!

DOCTOR (seeking to draw the attention of the others, looking
learned and imposing).--Well, well, then it comes, we may say, to

(Suddenly the first exit to right, the one nearest footlights,
opens, and Berthold enters all excited).

BERTHOLD (rushing in). I say! I say! (Stops for a moment,
arrested by the astonishment which his appearance has caused in the

FRIDA (running away terrified). Oh dear! oh dear! it's he,

DONNA MATILDA (covering her face with her hands so as not to
see). Is it, is it he?

DI NOLLI. No, no, what are you talking about? Be calm!

DOCTOR. Who is it then?

BELCREDI. One of our masqueraders.

DI NOLLI. He is one of the four youths we keep here to help him out
in his madness...

BERTHOLD. I beg your pardon, Marquis...

DI NOLLI. Pardon be damned! I gave orders that the doors were to be
closed, and that nobody should be allowed to enter.

BERTHOLD. Yes, sir, but I can't stand it any longer, and I ask you
to let me go away this very minute.

DI NOLLI. Oh, you're the new valet, are you? You were supposed to
begin this morning, weren't you?

BERTHOLD. Yes, sir, and I can't stand it, I can't bear it.

DONNA MATILDA (to Di Nolli excitedly). What? Then he's not so
calm as you said?

BERTHOLD (quickly).--No, no, my lady, it isn't he; it's my
companions. You say "help him out with his madness," Marquis; but they
don't do anything of the kind. They're the real madmen. I come here for
the first time, and instead of helping me...

(Landolph and Harold come in from the same door, but hesitate on
the threshold).

LANDOLPH. Excuse me?

HAROLD. May I come in, my Lord?

DI NOLLI. Come in! What's the matter? What are you all doing?

FRIDA. Oh God! I'm frightened! I'm going to run away. (Makes
towards exit at Left).

DI NOLLI (restraining her at once). No, no, Frida!

LANDOLPH. My Lord, this fool here...(indicates

BERTHOLD (protesting). Ah, no thanks, my friends, no thanks!
I'm not stopping here! I'm off!

LANDOLPH. What do you mean--you're not stopping here?

HAROLD. He's ruined everything, my Lord, running away in here!

LANDOLPH. He's made him quite mad. We can't keep him in there any
longer. He's given orders that he's to be arrested; and he wants to
"judge" him at once from the throne: What is to be done?

DI NOLLI. Shut the door, man! Shut the door! Go and close that door!
(Landolph goes over to close it).

HAROLD. Ordulph, alone, won't be able to keep him there.

LANDOLPH.--My Lord, perhaps if we could announce the visitors at
once, it would turn his thoughts. Have the gentlemen thought under what
pretext they will present themselves to him?

DI NOLLI.--It's all been arranged! (To the Doctor) If you,
doctor, think it well to see him at once...

FRIDA. I'm not coming! I'm not coming! I'll keep out of this. You
too, mother, for Heaven's sake, come away with me!

DOCTOR.--I say...I suppose he's not armed, is he?

DI NOLLI.--Nonsense! Of course not. (To Frida): Frida, you
know this is childish of you. You wanted to come!

FRIDA. I didn't at all. It was mother's idea.

DONNA MATILDA. And I'm quite ready to see him. What are we going to

BELCREDI. Must we absolutely dress up in some fashion or other?

LANDOLPH.--Absolutely essential, indispensable, sir. Alas! as you
see...(shows his costume), there'd be awful trouble if he saw
you gentlemen in modern dress.

HAROLD. He would think it was some diabolical masquerade.

DI NOLLI. As these men seem to be in costume to you, so we appear to
be in costume to him, in these modern clothes of ours.

LANDOLPH. It wouldn't matter so much if he wouldn't suppose it to be
the work of his mortal enemy.

BELCREDI. Pope Gregory VII.?

LANDOLPH. Precisely. He calls him "a pagan."

BELCREDI. The Pope a pagan? Not bad that!

LANDOLPH.--Yes, sir,--and a man who calls up the dead! He accuses
him of all the diabolical arts. He's terribly afraid of him.

DOCTOR. Persecution mania!

HAROLD. He'd be simply furious.

DI NOLLI (to Belcredi). But there's no need for you to be
there, you know. It's sufficient for the doctor to see him.

DOCTOR.--What do you mean?...I? Alone?

DI NOLLI.--But they are there (indicates the three young

DOCTOR. I don't mean that...I mean if the Marchioness...

DONNA MATILDA. Of course. I mean to see him too, naturally. I want
to see him again.

FRIDA. Oh, why, mother, why? Do come away with me, I implore

DONNA MATILDA (imperiously). Let me do as I wish! I came here
for this purpose! (To Landolph) : I shall be "Adelaide," the

LANDOLPH. Excellent! The mother of the Empress Bertha. Good! It will
be enough if her Ladyship wears the ducal crown and puts on a mantle
that will hide her other clothes entirely. (To Harold): Off you
go, Harold!

HAROLD. Wait a moment! And this gentleman here (alludes to the

DOCTOR.--Ah yes...we decided I was to be...the Bishop of Cluny, Hugh
of Cluny!

HAROLD. The gentleman means the Abbot. Very good! Hugh of Cluny.

LANDOLPH.--He's often been here before!

DOCTOR (amazed).--What? Been here before?

LANDOLPH.--Don't be alarmed! I mean that it's an easily prepared

HAROLD. We've made use of it on other occasions, you see!

DOCTOR. But...

LANDOLPH. Oh no, there's no risk of his remembering. He pays more
attention to the dress than to the person.

DONNA MATILDA. That's fortunate for me too then.

DI NOLLI. Frida, you and I'll get along. Come on Tito!

BELCREDI. Ah no. If she (indicates the Marchioness) stops
here, so do I!

DONNA MATILDA. But I don't need you at all.

BELCREDI. You may not need me, but I should like to see him again
myself. Mayn't I?

LANDOLPH. Well, perhaps it would be better if there were three.

HAROLD. How is the gentleman to be dressed then?

BELCREDI. Oh, try and find some easy costume for me.

LANDOLPH (to Harold). Hum! Yes...he'd better be from Cluny

BELCREDI. What do you mean--from Cluny?

LANDOLPH. A Benedictine's habit of the Abbey of Cluny. He can be in
attendance on Monsignor. (To Harold): Off you go! (To
Berthold). And you too get away and keep out of sight all today.
No, wait a bit! (To Berthold): You bring here the costumes he
will give you. (To Harold): You go at once and announce the
visit of the "Duchess Adelaide" and "Monsignor Hugh of Cluny." Do you
understand? (Harold and Berthold go off by the first door on the

DI NOLLI. We'll retire now. (Goes off with Frida, left).

DOCTOR. Shall I be a persona grata to him, as Hugh of Cluny?

LANDOLPH. Oh, rather! Don't worry about that! Monsignor has always
been received here with great respect. You too, my Lady, he will be
glad to see. He never forgets that it was owing to the intercession of
you two that he was admitted to the Castle of Canossa and the presence
of Gregory VII., who didn't want to receive him.

BELCREDI. And what do I do?

LANDOLPH. You stand a little apart, respectfully: that's all.

DONNA MATILDA (irritated, nervous). You would do well to go
away, you know.

BELCREDI (slowly, spitefully). How upset you seem!...

DONNA MATILDA (proudly). I am as I am. Leave me alone!

(Berthold comes in with the costumes).

LANDOLPH (seeing him enter). Ah, the costumes: here they are.
This mantle is for the Marchioness...

DONNA MATILDA. Wait a minute! I'll take off my hat. (Does so and
gives it to Berthold).

LANDOLPH. Put it down there! (Then to the Marchioness, while he
offers to put the ducal crown on her head). Allow me!

DONNA MATILDA. Dear, dear! Isn't there a mirror here?

LANDOLPH. Yes, there's one there (points to the door on the
Left). If the Marchioness would rather put it on herself...

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, yes, that will be better. Give it to me!
(Takes up her hat and goes off with Berthold, who carries the cloak
and the crown).

BELCREDI. Well, I must say, I never thought I should be a
Benedictine monk! By the way, this business must cost an awful lot of

THE DOCTOR. Like any other fantasy, naturally!

BELCREDI. Well, there's a fortune to go upon.

LANDOLPH. We have got there a whole wardrobe of costumes of the
period, copied to perfection from old models. This is my special job. I
get them from the best theatrical costumers. They cost lots of money.
(Donna Matilda re-enters, wearing mantle and crown).

BELCREDI (at once, in admiration). Oh magnificent! Oh, truly

DONNA MATILDA (looking at Belcredi and bursting out into
laughter). Oh no, no! Take it off! You're impossible. You look like
an ostrich dressed up as a monk.

BELCREDI. Well, how about the doctor?

THE DOCTOR. I don't think I look so bad, do I?

DONNA MATILDA. No; the doctor's all right...but you are too funny
for words.

THE DOCTOR. Do you have many receptions here then

LANDOLPH. It depends. He often gives orders that such and such a
person appear before him. Then we have to find someone who will take
the part. Women too...

DONNA MATILDA (hurt, but trying to hide the fact). Ah, women

LANDOLPH. Oh, yes; many at first.

BELCREDI (laughing). Oh, that's great! In costume, like the

LANDOLPH. Oh well, you know, women of the kind that lend themselves

BELCREDI. Ah, I see! (Perfidiously to the Marchioness) Look
out, you know he's becoming dangerous for you.

(The second door on the right opens, and Harold appears making
first of all a discreet sign that all conversation should

HAROLD. His Majesty, the Emperor!

(The two valets enter first, and go and stand on either side of
the throne. Then Henry IV. comes in between Ordulph and Harold, who
keep a little in the rear respectfully.

HENRY IV. is about 50 and very pale. The hair on the back of his
head is already grey; over the temples and forehead it appears blond,
owing to its having been tinted in an evident and puerile fashion. On
his cheek bones he has two small, doll-like dabs of colour, that stand
out prominently against the rest of his tragic pallor. He is wearing a
penitent's sack over his regal habit, as at Canossa. His eyes have a
fixed look which is dreadful to see, and this expression is in strained
contrast with the sackcloth. Ordulph carries the Imperial crown;
Harold, the sceptre with the eagle, and the globe with the

HENRY IV. (bowing first to Donna Matilda and afterwards to the
doctor). My lady...Monsignor...(Then he looks at Belcredi and
seems about to greet him too; when, suddenly, he turns to Landolph, who
has approached him, and asks him sotto voce and with diffidence):
Is that Peter Damiani?

LANDOLPH. No, Sire. He is a monk from Cluny who is accompanying the

HENRY IV. (looks again at Belcredi with increasing mistrust, and
then noticing that he appears embarrassed and keeps glancing at Donna
Matilda and the doctor, stands upright and cries out). No, it's
Peter Damiani! It's no use, father, your looking at the Duchess.
(Then turning quickly to Donna Matilda and the doctor as though to
ward off a danger) : I swear it! I swear that my heart is changed
towards your daughter. I confess that if he (indicates Belcredi)
hadn't come to forbid it in the name of Pope Alexander, I'd have
repudiated her. Yes, yes, there were people ready to favour the
repudiation: the Bishop of Mayence would have done it for a matter of
one hundred and twenty farms. (Looks at Landolph a little perplexed
and adds): But I mustn't speak ill of the bishops at this moment!
(More humbly to Belcredi) : I am grateful to you, believe me, I
am grateful to you for the hindrance you put in my way !--God knows, my
life's been all made of humiliations: my mother, Adalbert, Tribur,
Goslar! And now this sackcloth you see me wearing! (Changes tone
suddenly and speaks like one who goes over his part in a parenthesis of
astuteness). It doesn't matter: clarity of ideas, perspicacity,
firmness and patience under adversity that's the thing. (Then
turning to all and speaking solemnly). I know how to make amend for
the mistakes I have made; and I can humiliate myself even before you,
Peter Damiani. (Bows profoundly to him and remains curved. Then a
suspicion is born in him which he is obliged to utter in menacing
tones, almost against his will). Was it not perhaps you who started
that obscene rumour that my holy mother had illicit relations with the
Bishop of Augusta?

BELCREDI (since Henry IV. has his finger pointed at him). No,
no, it wasn't I...

HENRY IV. (straightening up). Not true, not true? Infamy!
(Looks at him and then adds): I didn't think you capable of it!
(Goes to the doctor and plucks his sleeve, while winking at him
knowingly) : Always the same, Monsignor, those bishops, always the

HAROLD (softly, whispering as if to help out the doctor).
Yes, yes, the rapacious bishops!

THE DOCTOR (to Harold, trying to keep it up). Ah, yes, those
fellows...ah yes...

HENRY IV. Nothing satisfies them! I was a little boy,
Monsignor...One passes the time, playing even, when, without knowing
it, one is a king.--I was six years old; and they tore me away from my
mother, and made use of me against her without my knowing anything
about it...always profaning, always stealing, stealing!...One
greedier than the other...Hanno worse than Stephen! Stephen worse than

LANDOLPH (sotto voce, persuasively, to call his attention).

HENRY IV. (turning round quickly). Ah yes...this isn't
the moment to speak ill of the bishops. But this infamy against my
mother, Monsignor, is too much. (Looks at the Marchioness and grows
tender). And I can't even weep for her, Lady...I appeal to you who
have a mother's heart! She came here to see me from her convent a month
ago...They had told me she was dead! (Sustained pause full of
feeling. Then smiling sadly) : I can't weep for her; because if you
are here now, and I am like this (shows the sackcloth he is
wearing), it means I am twenty-six years old!

HAROLD. And that she is therefore alive, Majesty!...

ORDULPH. Still in her convent!

HENRY IV. (looking at them). Ah yes! And I can postpone my
grief to another time. (Shows the Marchioness almost with coquetery
the tint he has given to his hair). Look! I am still fair...
(Then slowly as if in confidence). For you...there's no
need! But little exterior details do help! A matter of time, Monsignor,
do you understand me? (Turns to the Marchioness and notices her
hair). Ah, but I see that you too, Duchess...Italian, eh (as
much as to say "false"; but without any indignation, indeed rather with
malicious admiration)? Heaven forbid that I should show disgust or
surprise! Nobody cares to recognize that obscure and fatal power which
sets limits to our will. But I say, if one is born and one dies...Did
you want to be born, Monsignor? I didn't! And in both cases,
independently of our wills, so many things happen we would wish didn't
happen, and to which we resign ourselves as best we can!...

DOCTOR (merely to make a remark, while studying Henry IV.
carefully). Alas! Yes, alas!

HENRY IV. It's like this: When we are not resigned, out come our
desires. A woman wants to be a old man would be young again.
Desires, ridiculous fixed ideas of course--But reflect! Monsignor,
those other desires are not less ridiculous: I mean, those desires
where the will is kept within the limits of the possible. Not one of us
can lie or pretend. We're all fixed in good faith in a certain concept
of ourselves. However, Monsignor, while you keep yourself in order,
holding on with both your hands to your holy habit, there slips down
from your sleeves, there peels off from you a
serpent...something you don't notice: life, Monsignor! (Turns to the
Marchioness) Has it never happened to you, my Lady, to find a
different self in yourself? Have you always been the same? My God! One was it, how was it you were able to commit this or that
action? (Fixes her so intently in the eyes as almost to make her
blanch) : Yes, that particular action, that very one: we understand
each other! But don't be afraid: I shall reveal it to none. And you,
Peter Damiani, how could you be a friend of that man?...

LANDOLPH. Majesty!

HENRY IV. (at once). No, I won't name him! (Turning to
Belcredi): What did you think of him? But we all of us cling tight
to our conceptions of ourselves, just as he who is growing old dyes his
hair. What does it matter that this dyed hair of mine isn't a reality
for you, if it is, to some extent, for me?--you, you, my Lady,
certainly don't dye your hair to deceive the others, nor even yourself;
but only to cheat your own image a little before the looking-glass. I
do it for a joke! You do it seriously! But I assure you that you too,
Madam, are in masquerade, though it be in all seriousness; and I am not
speaking of the venerable crown on your brows or the ducal mantle. I am
speaking only of the memory you wish to fix in yourself of your fair
complexion one day when it pleased you--or of your dark complexion, if
you were dark: the fading image of your youth! For you, Peter Damiani,
on the contrary, the memory of what you have been, of what you have
done, seems to you a recognition of past realities that remain within
you like a dream. I'm in the same case too: with so many inexplicable
memories --like dreams! Ah!...There's nothing to marvel at in it,
Peter Damiani! Tomorrow it will be the same thing with our life of
today! (Suddenly getting excited and taking hold of his
sackcloth). This sackcloth here...(Beginning to take it off
with a gesture of almost ferocious joy while the three valets run over
to him, frightened, as if to prevent his doing so)! Ah, my God!
(Draws back and throws off sackcloth). Tomorrow, at Bressanone,
twenty-seven German and Lombard bishops will sign with me the act of
deposition of Gregory VII.! No Pope at all! Just a false monk!

ORDULPH (with the other three). Majesty! Majesty! In God's

HAROLD (inviting him to put on the sackcloth again). Listen
to what he says, Majesty!

LANDOLPH. Monsignor is here with the Duchess to intercede in your
favor. (Makes secret signs to the Doctor to say something at

DOCTOR (foolishly). Ah yes...yes...we are here to

HENRY IV. (repeating at once, almost terrified, allowing the
three to put on the sackcloth again, and pulling it down over him with
his own hands). Pardon...yes...yes...pardon, Monsignor: forgive
me, my Lady...I swear to you I feel the whole weight of the anathema.
(Bends himself, takes his face between his hands, as though waiting
for something to crush him. Then changing tone, but without moving,
says softly to Landolph, Harold and Ordulph): But I don't know why
I cannot be humble before that man there! (indicates

LANDOLPH (sottovoce). But why, Majesty, do you insist on
believing he is Peter Damiani, when he isn't, at all?

HENRY IV. (looking at him timorously). He isn't Peter

HAROLD. No, no, he is a poor monk, Majesty.

HENRY IV. (sadly with a touch of exasperation). Ah! None of
us can estimate what we do when we do it from instinct...You perhaps,
Madam, can understand me better than the others, since you are a woman
and a Duchess. This is a solemn and decisive moment. I could, you know,
accept the assistance of the Lombard bishops, arrest the Pope, lock him
up here in the castle, run to Rome and elect an anti-Pope; offer
alliance to Robert Guiscard--and Gregory VII. would be lost! I resist
the temptation; and, believe me, I am wise in doing so. I feel the
atmosphere of our times and the majesty of one who knows how to be what
he ought to be! a Pope! Do you feel inclined to laugh at me, seeing me
like this? You would be foolish to do so; for you don't understand the
political wisdom which makes this penitent's sack advisable. The parts
may be changed tomorrow. What would you do then? Would you laugh to see
the Pope a prisoner? No! It would come to the same thing: I dressed as
a penitent, today; he, as prisoner tomorrow! But woe to him who doesn't
know how to wear his mask, be he king or Pope ! --Perhaps he is a bit
too cruel! No! Yes, yes, maybe !--You remember, my Lady, how your
daughter Bertha, for whom, I repeat, my feelings have changed (turns
to Belcredi and shouts to his face as if he were being contradicted by
him)-- yes, changed on account of the affection and devotion she
showed me in that terrible moment...(then once again to the
Marchioness) remember how she came with me, my Lady,
followed me like a beggar and passed two nights out in the open, in the
snow? You are her mother! Doesn't this touch your mother's heart?
Doesn't this urge you to pity, so that you will beg His Holiness for
pardon, beg him to receive us?

DONNA MATILDA (trembling, with feeble voice). Yes, yes, at

DOCTOR. It shall be done!

HENRY IV. And one thing more! (Draws them in to listen to
him). It isn't enough that he should receive me! You know he can do
everything-- everything I tell you! He can even call up the dead.
(Touches his chest): Behold me! Do you see me? There is no magic
art unknown to him. Well, Monsignor, my Lady, my torment is really
this: that whether here or there (pointing to his portrait almost in
fear) I can't free myself from this magic. I am a penitent now, you
see; and I swear to you I shall remain so until he receives me. But you
two, when the excommunication is taken off, must ask the Pope to do
this thing he can so easily do: to take me away from that
(indicating the portrait again); and let me live wholly and
freely my miserable life. A man can't always be twenty-six, my Lady. I
ask this of you for your daughter's sake too; that I may love her as
she deserves to be loved, well disposed as I am now, all tender towards
her for her pity. There: it's all there! I am in your hands!
(Bows). My Lady! Monsignor!

(He goes off, bowing grandly, through the door by which he
entered, leaving everyone stupefied, and the Marchioness so profoundly
touched, that no sooner has he gone than she breaks out into sobs and
sits down almost fainting).



(Another room of the villa, adjoining the throne room. Its
furniture is antique and severe. Principal exit at rear in the
background. To the left, two windows looking on the garden. To the
right, a door opening into the throne room.)

Late afternoon of the same day.

Donna Matilda, the doctor and Belcredi are on the stage engaged
in conversation; but Donna Matilda stands to one side, evidently
annoyed at what the other two are saying; although she cannot help
listening, because, in her agitated state, everything interests her in
spite of herself. The talk of the other two attracts her attention,
because she instinctively feels the need for calm at the

BELCREDI. It may be as you say, doctor, but that was my

DOCTOR. I won't contradict you; but, believe me, it is

BELCREDI. Pardon me, but he even said so, and quite clearly
(turning to the Marchioness). Didn't he, Marchioness?

DONNA MATILDA (turning round). What did he say?...(Then
not agreeing). Oh yes...but not for the reason you think!

DOCTOR. He was alluding to the costumes we had slipped on...Your
cloak (indicating the Marchioness), our Benedictine habits...But
all this is childish!

DONNA MATILDA (turning quickly, indignant). Childish? What do
you mean, doctor?

DOCTOR. From one point of view, it is--I beg you to let me say so,
Marchioness! Yet, on the other hand, it is much more complicated than
you can imagine.

DONNA MATILDA. To me, on the contrary, it is perfectly clear!

DOCTOR (with a smile of pity of the competent person towards
those who do not understand). We must take into account the
peculiar psychology of madmen; which, you must know, enables us to be
certain that they observe things and can, for instance, easily detect
people who are disguised; can in fact recognize the disguise and yet
believe in it; just as children do, for whom disguise is both play and
reality. That is why I used the word childish. But the thing is
extremely complicated, inasmuch as he must be perfectly aware of being
an image to himself and for himself --that image there, in fact
(alluding to the portrait in the throne room, and pointing to the

BELCREDI. That's what he said!

DOCTOR. Very well then--An image before which other images, ours,
have appeared: understand? Now he, in his acute and perfectly lucid
delirium, was able to detect at once a difference between his image and
ours: that is, he saw that ours were make-believes. So he suspected us;
because all madmen are armed with a special diffidence. But that's all
there is to it! Our make-believe, built up all round his, did not seem
pitiful to him. While his seemed all the more tragic to us, in that he,
as if in defiance--understand?-- and induced by his suspicion, wanted
to show us up merely as a joke. That was also partly the case with him,
in coming before us with painted cheeks and hair, and saying he had
done it on purpose for a jest.

DONNA MATILDA (impatiently). No, it's not that, doctor. It's
not like that! It's not like that!

DOCTOR. Why isn't it, may I ask?

DONNA MATILDA (with decision but trembling). I am perfectly
certain he recognized me!

DOCTOR. It's not's not possible!

BELCREDI (at the same time). Of course not!

DONNA MATILDA (more than ever determined, almost
convulsively). I tell you, he recognized me! When he came close up
to speak to me-- looking in my eyes, right into my eyes--he recognized

BELCREDI. But he was talking of your daughter!

DONNA MATILDA. That's not true! He was talking of me! Of me!

BELCREDI. Yes, perhaps, when he said...

DONNA MATILDA (letting herself go). About my dyed hair! But
didn't you notice that he added at once: "or the memory of your dark
hair, if you were dark"? He remembered perfectly well that I was

BELCREDI. Nonsense! nonsense!

DONNA MATILDA (not listening to him, turning to the doctor).
My hair, doctor, is really dark-- like my daughter's! That's why he
spoke of her.

BELCREDI. But he doesn't even know your daughter! He's never seen

DONNA MATILDA. Exactly! Oh, you never understand anything! By my
daughter, stupid, he meant me--as I was then!

BELCREDI. Oh, this is catching! This is catching, this madness!

DONNA MATILDA (softly, with contempt). Fool!

BELCREDI. Excuse me, were you ever his wife? Your daughter is his
wife--in his delirium: Bertha of Susa.

DONNA MATILDA. Exactly! Because I, no longer dark --as he remembered
me--but fair, introduced myself as "Adelaide," the mother. My daughter
doesn't exist for him: be's never seen her--you said so yourself! So
how can he know whether she's fair or dark?

BELCREDI. But he said dark, speaking generally, just as anyone who
wants to recall, whether fair or dark, a memory of youth in the color
of the hair! And you, as usual, begin to imagine things! Doctor, you
said I ought not to have come! It's she who ought not to have come!

DONNA MATILDA (upset for a moment by Belcredi's remark, recovers
herself. Then with a touch of anger, because doubtful). No, no...he
spoke of me...He spoke all the time to me, with me, of me...

BELCREDI. That's not bad! He didn't leave me a moment's breathing
space; and you say he was talking all the time to you? Unless you think
he was alluding to you too, when he was talking to Peter Damiani!

DONNA MATILDA (defiantly, almost exceeding the limits of
courteous discussion). Who knows? Can you tell me why, from the
outset, he showed a strong dislike for you, for you alone? (From the
tone of the question, the expected answer must almost explicitly be:
"because he understands you are my lover." Belcredi feels this so well
that he remains silent and can say nothing).

DOCTOR. The reason may also be found in the fact that only the visit
of the Duchess Adelaide and the abbot of Cluny was announced to him.
Finding a third person present, who had not been announced, at once his

BELCREDI. Yes, exactly! His suspicion made him see an enemy in me:
Peter Damiani! But she's got it into her head, that he recognized

DONNA MATILDA. There's no doubt about it! I could see it from his
eyes, doctor. You know, there's a way of looking that leaves no doubt
whatever...Perhaps it was only for an instant, but I am sure!

DOCTOR. It is not impossible: a lucid moment...

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, perhaps...And then his speech seemed to me full
of regret for his and my youth--for the horrible thing that happened to
him, that has held him in that disguise from which he has never been
able to free himself, and from which he longs to be free--he said so

BELCREDI. Yes, so as to be able to make love to your daughter, or
you, as you believe--having been touched by your pity.

DONNA MATILDA. Which is very great, I would ask you to believe.

BELCREDI. As one can see, Marchioness; so much so that a
miracle-worker might expect a miracle from it!

DOCTOR. Will you let me speak? I don't work miracles, because I am a
doctor and not a miracle-worker. I listened very intently to all he
said; and I repeat that that certain analogical elasticity, common to
all symptomatised delirium, is evidently with him much...what shall I
say?--much relaxed! The elements, that is, of his delirium no longer
hold together. It seems to me he has lost the equilibrium of his second
personality and sudden recollections drag him --and this is very
comforting--not from a state of incipient apathy, but rather from a
morbid inclination to reflective melancholy, which shows a...a very
considerable cerebral activity. Very comforting, I repeat! Now if, by
this violent trick we've planned...

DONNA MATILDA (turning to the window, in the tone of a sick
person complaining). But how is it that the motor has not returned?
It's three hours and a half since...

DOCTOR. What do you say?

DONNA MATILDA. The motor, doctor! It's more than three hours and a

DOCTOR (taking out his watch and looking at it). Yes, more
than four hours, by this!

DONNA MATILDA. It could have reached here an hour ago at least! But,
as usual...

BELCREDI. Perhaps they can't find the dress...

DONNA MATILDA. But I explained exactly where it was!
(impatiently). And Frida...where is Frida?

BELCREDI (looking out of the window). Perhaps she is in the
garden with Charles...

DOCTOR. He'll talk her out of her fright.

BELCREDI. She's not afraid, doctor; don't you believe it: the thing
bores her rather...

DONNA MATILDA. Just don't ask anything of her! I know what she's

DOCTOR. Let's wait patiently. Anyhow, it will soon be over, and it
has to be in the evening...It will only be the matter of a moment!
If we can succeed in rousing him, as I was saying, and in breaking at
one go the threads--already slack --which still bind him to this
fiction of his, giving him back what he himself asks for--you remember,
he said: "one cannot always be twenty-six years old, madam!" if we can
give him freedom from this torment, which even he feels is a torment,
then if he is able to recover at one bound the sensation of the
distance of time...

BELCREDI (quickly). He'll be cured! (then emphatically
with irony). We'll pull him out of it all!

DOCTOR. Yes, we may hope to set him going again, like a watch which
has stopped at a certain hour...just as if we had our watches in our
hands and were waiting for that other watch to go again.--A
shake--so----and let's hope it'll tell the time again after its long
stop. (At this point the Marquis Charles Di Nolli enters from the
principal entrance). DONNA MATILDA. Oh, Charles!...And Frida?
Where is she?

DI NOLLI. She'll be here in a moment.

DOCTOR. Has the motor arrived?


DONNA MATILDA. Yes? Has the dress come?

DI NOLLI. It's been here some time.

DOCTOR. Good! Good!

DONNA MATILDA (trembling). Where is she? Where's Frida?

DI NOLLI (shrugging his shoulders and smiling sadly, like one
lending himself unwillingly to an untimely joke). You'll see,
you'll see!...(pointing towards the hall). Here she is!...
(Berthold appears at the threshold of the hall, and announces with

BERTHOLD. Her Highness the Countess Matilda of Canossa! (Frida
enters, magnificent and beautiful, arrayed in the robes of her mother
as "Countess Matilda of Tuscany," so that she is a living copy of the
portrait in the throne room).

FRIDA (passing Berthold, who is bowing, says to him with
disdain). Of Tuscany, of Tuscany! Canossa is just one of my

BELCREDI (in admiration). Look! Look! She seems another

DONNA MATILDA. One would say it were I! Look! --Why, Frida, look!
She's exactly my portrait, alive!

DOCTOR. Yes, yes...Perfect! Perfect! The portrait, to the life.

BELCREDI. Yes, there's no question about it. She is the portrait!

FRIDA. Don't make me laugh, or I shall burst! I say, mother, what a
tiny waist you had? I had to squeeze so to get into this!

DONNA MATILDA (arranging her dress a little). Wait!...Keep
still!...These it really so tight?

FRIDA. I'm suffocating! I implore you, to be quick!...

DOCTOR. But we must wait till it's evening!

FRIDA. No, no, I can't hold out till evening! DONNA MATILDA. Why did
you put it on so soon?

FRIDA. The moment I saw it, the temptation was irresistible...

DONNA MATILDA. At least you could have called me, or have had
someone help you! It's still all crumpled.

FRIDA. So I saw, mother; but they are old creases; they won't come

DOCTOR. It doesn't matter, Marchioness! The illusion is perfect.
(Then coming nearer and asking her to come in front of her daughter,
without hiding her). If you please, stay there, a
certain a little more forward...

BELCREDI. For the feeling of the distance of time...

DONNA MATILDA (slightly turning to him). Twenty years after!
A disaster! A tragedy!

BELCREDI. Now don't let's exaggerate!

DOCTOR (embarrassed, trying to save the situation). No, no! I
meant the as to see...You know...

BELCREDI (laughing). Oh, as for the dress, doctor, it isn't a
matter of twenty years! It's eight hundred! An abyss! Do you really
want to shove him across it (pointing first to Frida and then to
Marchioness) from there to here? But you'll have to pick him up in
pieces with a basket! Just think now: for us it is a matter of twenty
years, a couple of dresses, and a masquerade. But, if, as you say,
doctor, time has stopped for and around him: if he lives there
(pointing to Frida) with her, eight hundred years ago...I
repeat: the giddiness of the jump will be such, that finding himself
suddenly among us...(The doctor shakes his head in dissent). You
don't think so?

DOCTOR. No, because life, my dear baron, can take up its rhythms.
This--our life--will at once become real also to him; and will pull him
up directly, wresting from him suddenly the illusion, and showing him
that the eight hundred years, as you say, are only twenty! It will be
like one of those tricks, such as the leap into space, for instance, of
the Masonic rite, which appears to be heaven knows how far, and is only
a step down the stairs.

BELCREDI. Ah! An idea! Yes! Look at Frida and the Marchioness,
doctor! Which is more advanced in time? We old people, doctor! The
young ones think they are more ahead; but it isn't true: we are more
ahead, because time belongs to us more than to them.

DOCTOR. If the past didn't alienate us...

BELCREDI. It doesn't matter at all! How does it alienate us? They
(pointing to Frida and Di Nolli) have still to do what we have
accomplished, doctor: to grow old, doing the same foolish things, more
or less, as we did...This is the illusion: that one comes forward
through a door to life. It isn't so! As soon as one is born, one starts
dying; therefore, he who started first is the most advanced of all. The
youngest of us is father Adam! Look there: (pointing to Frida)
eight hundred years younger than all of us --the Countess Matilda of
Tuscany. (He makes her a deep bow).

DI NOLLI. I say, Tito, don't start joking.

BELCREDI. Oh, you think I am joking?...

DI NOLLI. Of course, of course...all the time.

BELCREDI. Impossible! I've even dressed up as a Benedictine...

DI NOLLI. Yes, but for a serious purpose.

BELCREDI. Well, exactly. If it has been serious for the others...for
Frida, now, for instance. (Then turning to the doctor) : I
swear, doctor, I don't yet understand what you want to do.

DOCTOR (annoyed). You'll see! Let me do as I wish...At
present you see the Marchioness still dressed as...

BELCREDI. Oh, she also...has to masquerade?

DOCTOR. Of course! of course! In another dress that's in there ready
to be used when it comes into his head he sees the Countess Matilda of
Canossa before him.

FRIDA (while talking quietly to Di Nolli notices the doctor's
mistake). Of Tuscany, of Tuscany!

DOCTOR. It's all the same!

BELCREDI. Oh, I see! He'll be faced by two of them...

DOCTOR. Two, precisely! And then...

FRIDA (calling him aside). Come here, doctor! Listen!

DOCTOR. Here I am! (Goes near the two young people and pretends
to give some explanations to them).

BELCREDI (softly to Donna Matilda). I say, this is getting
rather strong, you know!

DONNA MATILDA (looking him firmly in the face). What?

BELCREDI. Does it really interest you as much as all that --to make
you willing to take part in...? For a woman this is simply enormous!

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, for an ordinary woman.

BELCREDI. Oh, no, my dear, for all women,--in a question like this!
It's an abnegation.

DONNA MATILDA. I owe it to him.

BELCREDI. Don't lie! You know well enough it's not hurting you!

DONNA MATILDA. Well then, where does the abnegation come in?

BELCREDI. Just enough to prevent you losing caste in other people's
eyes--and just enough to offend me!...

DONNA MATILDA. But who is worrying about you now?

DI NOLLI (coming forward). It's all right. It's all right.
That's what we'll do! (Turning towards Berthold): Here you, go
and call one of those fellows!

BERTHOLD. At once! (Exit).

DONNA MATILDA. But first of all we've got to pretend that we are
going away.

DI NOLLI. Exactly! I'll see to that...(to Belcredi) you
don't mind staying here?

BELCREDI (ironically). Oh, no, I don't mind, I don't mind!

DI NOLLI. We must look out not to make him suspicious again, you
know. BELCREDI. Oh, Lord! He doesn't amount to anything!

DOCTOR. He must believe absolutely that we've gone away.
(Landolph followed by Berthold enters from the right).

LANDOLPH. May I come in?

DI NOLLI. Come in! Come in! I say--your name's Lolo, isn't it?

LANDOLPH. Lolo, or Landolph, just as you like!

DI NOLLI. Well, look here: the doctor and the Marchioness are
leaving, at once.

LANDOLPH. Very well. All we've got to say is that they have been
able to obtain the permission for the reception from His Holiness. He's
in there in his own apartments repenting of all he said--and in an
awful state to have the pardon! Would you mind coming a minute?...If
you would, just for a minute...put on the dress again...

DOCTOR. Why, of course, with pleasure...

LANDOLPH. Might I be allowed to make a suggestion? Why not add that
the Marchioness of Tuscany has interceded with the Pope that he should
be received?

DONNA MATILDA. You see, he has recognized me!

LANDOLPH. Forgive me...I don't know my history very well. I am sure
you gentlemen know it much better! But I thought it was believed that
Henry IV. had a secret passion for the Marchioness of Tuscany.

DONNA MATILDA (at once). Nothing of the kind! Nothing of the

LANDOLPH. That's what I thought! But he says he's loved her...he's
always saying it...And now he fears that her indignation for this
secret love of his will work him harm with the Pope.

BELCREDI. We must let him understand that this aversion no longer
exists. LANDOLPH. Exactly! Of course!

DONNA MATILDA (to Belcredi). History says--I don't know
whether you know it or not--that the Pope gave way to the supplications
of the Marchioness Matilda and the Abbot of Cluny. And I may say, my
dear Belcredi, that I intended to take advantage of this fact-- at the
time of the pageant--to show him my feelings were not so hostile to him
as he supposed.

BELCREDI. You are most faithful to history, Marchioness...

LANDOLPH. Well then, the Marchioness could spare herself a double
disguise and present herself with Monsignor (indicating the
doctor) as the Marchioness of Tuscany.

DOCTOR (quickly, energetically). No, no! That won't do at
all. It would ruin everything. The impression from the confrontation
must be a sudden one, give a shock! No, no, Marchioness, you will
appear again as the Duchess Adelaide, the mother of the Empress. And
then we'll go away. This is most necessary: that he should know we've
gone away. Come on! Don't let's waste any more time! There's a lot to

(Exeunt the doctor, Donna Matilda, and Landolph, right).

FRIDA. I am beginning to feel afraid again.

DI NOLLI. Again, Frida?

FRIDA. It would have been better if I had seen him before.

DI NOLLI. There's nothing to be frightened of, really.

FRIDA. He isn't furious, is he?

DI NOLLI. Of course not! he's quite calm.

BELCREDI (with ironic sentimental affectation). Melancholy!
Didn't you hear that he loves you?

FRIDA. Thanks! That's just why I am afraid.

BELCREDI. He won't do you any harm.

DI NOLLI. It'll only last a minute...

FRIDA. Yes, but there in the dark with him...

DI NOLLI. Only for a moment; and I will be near you, and all the
others behind the door ready to run in. As soon as you see your mother,
your part will be finished...

BELCREDI. I'm afraid of a different thing: that we're wasting our

DI NOLLI. Don't begin again! The remedy seems a sound one to me.

FRIDA. I think so too! I feel it! I'm all trembling!

BELCREDI. But, mad people, my dear friends-- though they don't know
it, alas--have this felicity which we don't take into account...

DI NOLLI (interrupting, annoyed). What felicity?

BELCREDI (forcefully). They don't reason!

DI NOLLI. What's reasoning got to do with it, anyway?

BELCREDI. Don't you call it reasoning that he will have to
do--according to us---when he sees her (indicates Frida) and her
mother? We've reasoned it all out, surely!

DI NOLLI. Nothing of the kind: no reasoning at all We put before him
a double image of his own fantasy, or fiction, as the doctor says.

BELCREDI (suddenly). I say, I've never understood why they
take degrees in medicine.

DI NOLLI (amazed). Who?

BELCREDI. The alienists!

DI NOLLI. What ought they to take degrees in, then?

FRIDA. If they are alienists, in what else should they take

BELCREDI. In law, of course! All a matter of talk! The more they
talk, the more highly they are considered. "Analogous elasticity," "the
sensation of distance in time !" And the first thing they tell you is
that they don't work miracles--when a miracle's just what is wanted!
But they know that the more they say they are not miracle-workers, the
more folk believe in their seriousness!

BERTHOLD (who has been looking through the keyhole of the door on
right). There they are! There they are! They're coming in here.

DI NOLLI. Are they?

BERTHOLD. He wants to come with them...Yes!...He's coming too!

DI NOLLI. Let's get away, then! Let's get away, at once! (To
Berthold) : You stop here!


(Without answering him, Di Nolli, Frida, and Belcredi go out by
the main exit, leaving Berth old surprised. The door on the right
opens, and Landolph enters first, bowing. Then Donna Matilda comes in,
with mantle and ducal crown as in the first act; also the doctor as the
abbot of Cluny. Henry IV. is among them in royal dress. Ordulph and
Harold enter last of all).

HENRY IV. (following up what he has been saying in the other
room). And now I will ask you a question: how can I be astute, if
you think me obstinate?

DOCTOR. No, no, not obstinate!

HENRY IV. (smiling, pleased). Then you think me really

DOCTOR. No, no, neither obstinate, nor astute.

HENRY IV. (with benevolent irony). Monsignor, if obstinacy is
not a vice which can go with astuteness, I hoped that in denying me the
former, you would at least allow me a little of the latter. I can
assure you I have great need of it. But if you want to keep it all for

DOCTOR. I? I? Do I seem astute to you?

HENRY IV. No. Monsignor! What do you say? Not in the least! Perhaps
in this case, I may seem a little obstinate to you (cutting short to
speak to Donna Matilda). With your permission: a word in confidence
to the Duchess. (Leads her aside and asks her very earnestly):
Is your daughter really dear to you?

DONNA MATILDA (dismayed). Why, yes, certainly...

HENRY IV. Do you wish me to compensate her with all my love, with
all my devotion, for the grave wrongs I have done her--though you must
not believe all the stories my enemies tell about my dissoluteness!

DONNA MATILDA. No, no, I don't believe them. I never have believed
such stories.

HENRY IV. Well, then are you willing?

DONNA MATILDA (confused). What?

HENRY IV. That I return to love your daughter again? (Looks at
her and adds, in a mysterious tone of warning). You mustn't be a
friend of the Marchioness of Tuscany!

DONNA MATILDA. I tell you again that she has begged and tried not
less than ourselves to obtain your pardon...

HENRY IV. (softly, but excitedly). Don't tell me that! Don't
say that to me! Don't you see the effect it has on me, my Lady?

DONNA MATILDA (looks at him; then very softly as if in
confidence). You love her still?

HENRY IV. (puzzled). Still? Still, you say? You know, then?
But nobody knows! Nobody must know!

DONNA MATILDA. But perhaps she knows, if she has begged so hard for

HENRY IV. (looks at her and says): And you love your
daughter? (Brief pause. He turns to the doctor with laughing
accents). Ah, Monsignor, it's strange how little I think of my
wife! It may be a sin, but I swear to you that I hardly feel her at all
in my heart. What is stranger is that her own mother scarcely feels her
in her heart. Confess, my Lady, that she amounts to very little for
you. (Turning to Doctor) : She talks to me of that other woman,
insistently, insistently, I don't know why!...

LANDOLPH (humbly). Maybe, Majesty, it is to disabuse you of
some ideas you have had about the Marchioness of Tuscany. (Then,
dismayed at having allowed himself this observation, adds) : I mean
just now, of course...

HENRY IV. You too maintain that she has been friendly to me?

LANDOLPH. Yes, at the moment, Majesty.

DONNA MATILDA. Exactly! Exactly!...

HENRY IV. I understand. That is to say, you don't believe I love
her. I see! I see! Nobody's ever believed it, nobody's ever thought it.
Better so, then! But enough, enough! (Turns to the doctor with
changed expression): Monsignor, you see? The reasons the Pope has
had for revoking the excommunication have got nothing at all to do with
the reasons for which he excommunicated me originally. Tell Pope
Gregory we shall meet again at Brixen. And you, Madame, should you
chance to meet your daughter in the courtyard of the castle of your
friend the Marchioness, ask her to visit me. We shall see if I succeed
in keeping her close beside me as wife and Empress. Many women have
presented themselves here already assuring me that they were she. But
they all, even while they told me they came from Susa--I don't know
why--began to laugh! And then in the bedroom...Well a man is a man, and
a woman is a woman. Undressed, we don't bother much about who we are.
And one's dress is like a phantom that hovers always near one. Oh,
Monsignor, phantoms in general are nothing more than trifling disorders
of the spirit: images we cannot contain within the bounds of sleep.
They reveal themselves even when we are awake, and they frighten us.
I...ah...I am always afraid when, at night time, I see disordered
images before me. Sometimes I am even afraid of my own blood pulsing
loudly in my arteries in the silence of night, like the sound of a
distant step in a lonely corridor!...But, forgive me! I have kept you
standing too long already. I thank you, my Lady, I thank you,
Monsignor. (Donna Matilda and the Doctor go off bowing. As soon as
they have gone, Henry IV. suddenly changes his tone). Buffoons,
buffoons! One can play any tune on them! And that other fellow...Pietro
Damiani!...Caught him out perfectly! He's afraid to appear before me
again. (Moves up and down excitedly while saying this; then sees
Berthold, and points him out to the other three valets). Oh, look
at this imbecile watching me with his mouth wide open! (Shakes
him). Don't you understand? Don't you see, idiot, how I treat them,
how I play the fool with them, make them appear before me just as I
wish? Miserable, frightened clowns that they are! And you
(addressing the valets) are amazed that I tear off their
ridiculous masks now, just as if it wasn't I who had made them mask
themselves to satisfy this taste of mine for playing the madman!

LANDOLPH--HAROLD--ORDULPH (bewildered, looking at one
another). What? What does he say? What?

HENRY IV. (answers them imperiously). Enough! enough! Let's
stop it. I'm tired of it. (Then as if the thought left him no
peace): By God! The impudence! To come here along with her
lover!...And pretending to do it out of pity! So as not to infuriate a
poor devil already out of the world, out of time, out of life! If it
hadn't been supposed to be done out of pity, one can well imagine that
fellow wouldn't have allowed it. Those people expect others to behave
as they wish all the time. And, of course, there's nothing arrogant in
that! Oh, no! Oh, no! It's merely their way of thinking, of feeling, of
seeing. Everybody has his own way of thinking; you fellows, too. Yours
is that of a flock of sheep --miserable, feeble, uncertain...But those
others take advantage of this and make you accept their way of
thinking; or, at least, they suppose they do; Because, after all, what
do they succeed in imposing on you? Words, words which anyone can
interpret in his own manner! That's the way public opinion is formed!
And it's a bad look out for a man who finds himself labelled one day
with one of these words which everyone repeats; for example "madman,"
or "imbecile." Don't you think is rather hard for a man to keep quiet,
when he knows that there is a fellow going about trying to persuade
everybody that he is as he sees him, trying to fix him in other
people's opinion as a "madman"--according to him? Now I am talking
seriously! Before I hurt my head, falling from my horse...(stops
suddenly, noticing the dismay of the four young men). What's the
matter with you? (Imitates their amazed looks). What? Am I, or
am I not, mad? Oh, yes! I'm mad all right! (He becomes
terrible). Well, then, by God, down on your knees, down on your
knees! (Makes them go down on their knees one by one). I order
you to go down on your knees before me! And touch the ground three
times with your foreheads! Down, down! That's the way you've got to be
before madmen! (Then annoyed with their facile humiliation): Get
up, sheep! You obeyed me, didn't you? You might have put the straight
jacket on me!...Crush a man with the weight of a word--it's nothing
--a fly! all our life is crushed by the weight of words: the weight of
the dead. Look at me here: can you really suppose that Henry IV. is
still alive? All the same, I speak, and order you live men about! Do
you think it's a joke that the dead continue to live?--Yes, here it's a
joke! But get out into the live world !--Ah, you say: what a beautiful
sunrise--for us! All time is before us!--Dawn! We will do what we like
with this day--. Ah, yes! To Hell with tradition, the old conventions!
Well, go on! You will do nothing but repeat the old, old words, while
you imagine you are living! (Goes up to Berthold who has now become
quite stupid). You don't understand a word of this, do you? What's
your name?

BERTHOLD. I?...What?...Berthold...

HENRY IV. Poor Berthold! What's your name here?

BERTHOLD. name in Fino.

HENRY IV. (feeling the warning and critical glances of the
others, turns to them to reduce them to silence). Fino?

BERTHOLD. Fino Pagliuca, sire.

HENRY IV. (turning to Lan dolph). I've heard you call each
other by your nick-names often enough! Your name is Lolo, isn't it?

LANDOLPH. Yes, sire...(then with a sense of immense joy). Oh,
Lord! Oh Lord! Then he is not mad...

HENRY IV. (brusquely). What?

LANDOLPH (hesitating). No...I said...

HENRY IV. Not mad, eh? We're having a joke on those that think I am
mad! (To Harold)--I say, boy, your name's Franco...(to
Ordulph) And yours...


HENRY IV. Momo, Momo...A nice name that!

LANDOLPH. So he isn't...

HENRY IV. What are you talking about? Of course not! Let's have a
jolly, good laugh!...(Laughs): Ah!

LANDOLPH--HAROLD--ORDULPH (looking at each other half happy and
half dismayed). Then he's cured!...he's all right!...

HENRY IV. Silence! Silence!...(To Berthold): Why don't you
laugh? Are you offended? I didn't mean it especially for you. It's
convenient for everybody to insist that certain people are mad, so they
can be shut up. Do you know why? Because it's impossible to hear them
speak! What shall I say of these people who've just gone away? That one
is a whore, another a libertine, another a swindler...don't you think
so? You can't believe a word he says...don't you think so?--By the
way, they all listen to me terrified. And why are they terrified, if
what I say isn't true? Of course, you can't believe what madmen
say--yet, at the same time, they stand there with their eyes wide open
with terror !--Why? Tell me, tell me, why ?--You see I'm quite calm

BERTHOLD. But, perhaps, they think that...

HENRY IV. No, no, my dear fellow! Look me well in the eyes!...I
don't say that it's true --nothing is true, Berthold! But...look me in
the eyes!


HENRY IV. You see? You see?...You have terror in your own eyes now
because I seem mad to you! There's the proof of it (

LANDOLPH (coming forward in the name of the others,
exasperated). What proof?

HENRY IV. Your being so dismayed because now I seem again mad to
you. You have thought me mad up to now, haven't you? You feel that this
dismay of yours can become terror too--something to dash away the
ground from under your feet and deprive you of the air you breathe! Do
you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a
madman--with one who shakes the foundations of all you have built up in
yourselves, your logic, the logic of all your constructions? Madmen,
lucky folk! construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies
like a feather. Voluble! Voluble! Today like this and tomorrow--who
knows? You say: "This cannot be"; but for them everything can be. You
say: "This isn't true!" And why? Because it doesn't seem true to you,
or you, or you...(indicates the three of them in succession)...and
to a hundred thousand others! One must see what seems true to
these hundred thousand others who are not supposed to be mad! What a
magnificent spectacle they afford, when they reason! What flowers of
logic they scatter! I know that when I was a child, I thought the moon
in the pond was real. How many things I thought real! I believed
everything I was told--and I was happy! Because it's a terrible thing
if you don't hold on to that which seems true to you today--to that
which will seem true to you tomorrow, even if it is the opposite of
that which seemed true to you yesterday. I would never wish you to
think, as I have done, on this horrible thing which really drives one
mad: that if you were beside another and looking into his eyes-- as I
one day looked into somebody's eyes--you might as well be a beggar
before a door never to be opened to you; for he who does enter there
will never be you, but someone unknown to you with his own different
and impenetrable world...(Long pause. Darkness gathers in the room,
increasing the sense of strangeness and consternation in which the four
young men are involved. Henry IV remains aloof, pondering on the misery
which is not only his, but everybody's. Then he pulls himself up, and
says in an ordinary tone): It's getting dark here...

ORDULPH. Shall I go for a lamp?

HENRY IV. (Ironically). The lamp, yes the lamp!...Do you
suppose I don't know that as soon as I turn my back with my oil lamp to
go to bed, you turn on the electric light for yourselves, here, and
even there, in the throne room? I pretend not to see it!

ORDULPH. Well, then, shall I turn it on now?

HENRY IV. No, it would blind me! I want my lamp!

ORDULPH. It's ready here behind the door. (Goes to the main exit,
opens the door, goes out for a moment, and returns with an ancient lamp
which is held by a ring at the top).

HENRY IV. Ah, a little light! Sit there around the table, no, not
like that; in an elegant, easy, manner!...(To Harold) : Yes,
you, like that (poses him) ! (Then to Berthold) : You,
so!...and I, here (sits opposite them) ! We could do with a
little decorative moonlight. It's very useful for us, the moonlight. I
feel a real necessity for it, and pass a lot of time looking up at the
moon from my window. Who would think, to look at her that she knows
that eight hundred years have passed, and that I, seated at the window,
cannot really be Henry IV gazing at the moon like any poor devil? But,
look, look! See what a magnificent night scene we have here: the
emperor surrounded by his faithful counsellors!...How do you like

LANDOLPH (softly to Harold, so as not to break the en
chantment). And to think it wasn't true!...

HENRY IV. True? What wasn't true?

LANDOLPH (timidly as if to excuse himself). No...I mean...I
was saying this morning to him (indicates Berthold)--he has just
entered on service here--I was, saying: what a pity that dressed like
this and with so many beautiful costumes in the wardrobe...and with a
room like that (indicates the throne room)...

HENRY IV. Well? what's the pity?

LANDOLPH. Well...that we didn't know...

HENRY IV. That it was all done in jest, this comedy?

LANDOLPH. Because we thought that...

HAROLD (coming to his assistance). Yes...that it was done

HENRY IV. What do you say? Doesn't it seem serious to you?

LANDOLPH. But if you say that...

HENRY IV. I say that--you are fools! You ought to have known how to
create a fantasy for yourselves, not to act it for me, or anyone coming
to see me; but naturally, simply, day by day, before nobody, feeling
yourselves alive in the history of the eleventh century, here at the
court of your emperor, Henry IV! You Ordulph (taking him by the
arm), alive in the castle of Goslar, waking up in the morning,
getting out of bed, and entering straightway into the dream, clothing
yourself in the dream that would be no more a dream, because you would
have lived it, felt it all alive in you. You would have drunk it in
with the air you breathed; yet knowing all the time that it was a
dream, so you could better enjoy the privilege afforded you of having
to do nothing else but live this dream, this far off and yet actual
dream! And to think that at a distance of eight centuries from this
remote age of ours, so coloured and so sepulchral, the men of the
twentieth century are torturing themselves in ceaseless anxiety to know
how their fates and fortunes will work out! Whereas you are already in
history with me...

LANDOLPH. Yes, yes, very good!

HENRY IV...Everything determined, everything settled!

ORDULPH. Yes, yes!

HENRY IV. And sad as is my lot, hideous as some of the events are,
bitter the struggles and troublous the time--still all history! All
history that cannot change, understand? All fixed for ever! And you
could have admired at your ease how every effect followed obediently
its cause with perfect logic, how every event took place precisely and
coherently in each minute particular! The pleasure, the pleasure of
history, in fact, which is so great, was yours.

LANDOLPH. Beautiful, beautiful!

HENRY IV. Beautiful, but it's finished! Now that you know, I could
not do it any more! (Takes his lamp to go to bed). Neither could
you, if up to now you haven't understood the reason of it! I am sick of
it now. (Almost to himself with violent contained rage) : By
God, I'll make her sorry she came here! Dressed herself up as a
mother-in-law for me...! And he as an abbot...! And they bring a doctor
with them to study me...! Who knows if they don't hope to cure me?
...Clowns...! I'd like to smack one of them at least in the face: yes,
that one--a famous swordsman, they say!...He'll kill me...Well, we'll
see, we'll see!...(A knock at the door). Who is it?


HAROLD (very pleased at the chance for another joke). Oh,
it's John, it's old John, who comes every night to play the monk.

ORDULPH (rubbing his hands). Yes, yes! Let's make him do

HENRY IV. (at once, severely). Fool, why? Just to play a joke
on a poor old man who does it for love of me?

LANDOLPH (to Ordulph). It has to be as if it were true.

HENRY IV. Exactly, as if true! Because, only so, truth is not a jest
(opens the door and admits John dressed as a humble friar with a
roll of parchment under his arm). Come in, come in, father!
(Then assuming a tone of tragic gravity and deep resentment):
All the documents of my life and reign favorable to me were destroyed
deliberately by my enemies. One only has escaped destruction, this, my
life, written by a humble monk who is devoted to me. And you would
laugh at him! (Turns affectionately to John, and invites him to sit
down at the table). Sit down, father, sit down! Have the lamp near
you (puts the lamp near him)! Write! Write!

JOHN (opens the parchment and prepares to write from
dictation). I am ready, your Majesty!

HENRY IV. (dictating). "The decree of peace proclaimed at
Mayence helped the poor and humble, while it damaged the weak and the
powerful (curtain begins to fall): It brought wealth to the
former, hunger and misery to the latter...



The throne room so dark that the wall at the bottom is hardly seen.
The canvasses of the two portraits have been taken away; and, within
their frames, Frida, dressed as the "Marchioness of Tuscany" and
Charles Di Nolli, as "Henry IV.," have taken the exact positions of the

For a moment, after the raising of curtain, the stage is empty. Then
the door on the left opens; and Henry IV., holding the lamp by the ring
on top of it, enters. He looks back to speak to the four young men who,
with John, are presumedly in the adjoining hall, as at the end of the
second act.

HENRY IV. No: stay where you are, stay where you are. I shall manage
all right by myself. Good night! (Closes the door and walks, very
sad and tired, across the hall towards the second door on the right,
which leads into his apartments). FRIDA (as soon as she sees
that he has just passed the throne, whispers from the niche like one
who is on the point of fainting away with fright). Henry...

HENRY IV. (stopping at the voice, as if someone had stabbed him
traitorously in the back, turns a terror-stricken face towards the wall
at the bottom of the room; raising an arm instinctively, as if to
defend himself and ward off a blow). Who is calling me? (It is
not a question, but an exclamation vibrating with terror, which does
not expect a reply from the darkness and the terrible silence of the
hall, which suddenly fills him with the suspicion that he is really

FRIDA (at his shudder of terror, is herself not less frightened
at the part she is playing, and repeats a little more loudly).
Henry!...(But, although she wishes to act the part as they have
given it to her, she stretches her head a little out of the frame
towards the other frame).

HENRY IV. (Gives a dreadful cry; lets the lamp fall from his
hands to cover his head with his arms, and makes a movement as if to
run away).

FRIDA (jumping from the frame on to the stand and shouting like a
mad woman). Henry!...Henry!...I'm afraid!...I'm terrified!

(And while Di Nolli jumps in turn on to the stand and thence to
the floor and runs to Frida who, on the verge of fainting, continues to
cry out, the Doctor, Donna Matilda, also dressed as "Matilda of
Tuscany," Tito Belcredi, Landolph, Berthold and John enter the hall
from the doors on the right and on the left. One of them turns on the
light: a strange light coming from lamps hidden in the ceiling so that
only the upper part of the stage is well lighted. The others without
taking notice of Henry IV, who looks on astonished by the unexpected
inrush, after the moment of terror which still causes him to tremble,
run anxiously to support and comfort the still shaking Frida, who is
moaning in the arms of her fianc. All are speaking at the same

DI NOLLI. No, no, Frida...Here I am...I am beside you!

DOCTOR (coming with the others). Enough! Enough! There's
nothing more to be done!...

DONNA MATILDA. He is cured, Frida. Look! He is cured! Don't you

DI NOLLI (astonished). Cured?

BELCREDI. It was only for fun! Be calm!

FRIDA. No! I am afraid! I am afraid!

DONNA MATILDA. Afraid of what? Look at him! He was never mad at all!

DI NOLLI. That isn't true! What are you saying? Cured?

DOCTOR. It appears so. I should say so...

BELCREDI. Yes, yes! They have told us so (pointing to the four
young men).

DONNA MATILDA. Yes, for a long time! He has confided in them, told
them the truth!

DI NOLLI (now in ore indignant than astonished). But what
does it mean? If, up to a short time ago...

BELCREDI. Hum! He was acting, to take you in and also us, who in
good faith...

DI NOLLI. Is it possible? To deceive his sister, also, right up to
the time of her death?

HENRY IV. (Remains apart, peering at one and now at the other
under the accusation and the mockery of what all believe to be a cruel
joke of his, which is now revealed. He has shown by the flashing of his
eyes that he is meditating a revenge, which his violent contempt
prevents him from defining clearly, as yet. Stung to the quick and with
a clear idea of accepting the fiction they have insidiously worked up
as true, he bursts forth at this point) : Go on, I say! Go on!

DI NOLLI (astonished at the cry). Go on! What do you

HENRY IV. It isn't your sister only that is dead!

DI NOLLI. My sister? Yours, I say, whom you compelled up to the last
moment, to present herself here as your mother Agnes!

HENRY IV. And was she not your mother?

DI NOLLI. My mother? Certainly my mother!

HENRY IV. But your mother is dead for me, old and far away! You have
just got down now from there (pointing to the frame from which he
jumped down). And how do you know whether I have not wept her long
in secret, dressed even as I am?

DONNA MATILDA (dismayed, looking at the others). What does he
say? (Much impressed, observing him). Quietly! quietly, for
Heaven's sake!

HENRY IV. What do I say? I ask all of you if Agnes was not the
mother of Henry IV? (Turns to Frida as if she were really the
Marchioness of Tuscany) : You, Marchioness, it seems to me, ought
to know.

FRIDA (still frightened, draws closer to Di Nolli). No, no, I
don't know. Not I!

DOCTOR. It's the madness returning...Quiet now, everybody!

BELCREDI (indignant). Madness indeed, doctor! He's acting

HENRY IV. (suddenly). I? You have emptied those two frames
over there, and he stands before my eyes as Henry IV...

BELCREDI. We've had enough of this joke now. HENRY IV. Who said

DOCTOR (loudly to Belcredi). Don't excite him, for the love
of God!

BELCREDI (without lending an ear to him, but speaking
louder). But they have said so (pointing again to the four young
men), they, they!

HENRY IV. (turning round and looking at them). You? Did you
say it was all a joke?

LANDOLPH (timid and embarrassed). No...really we said that
you were cured.

BELCREDI. Look here! Enough of this! (To Donna Matilda) :
Doesn't it seem to you that the sight of him (pointing to Di
Nolli), Marchioness and that of your daughter dressed so, is
becoming an intolerable puerility?

DONNA MATILDA. Oh, be quiet! What does the dress matter, if he is

HENRY IV. Cured, yes! I am cured! (To Belcredi) ah. but not
to let it end this way all at once, as you suppose! (Attacks
him). Do you know that for twenty years nobody has ever dared to
appear before me here like you and that gentleman (pointing to the

BELCREDI. Of course I know it. As a matter of fact, I too appeared
before you this morning dressed...

HENRY IV. As a monk, yes!

BELCREDI. And you took me for Peter Damiani! And I didn't even
laugh, believing, in fact, that...

HENRY IV. That I was mad! Does it make you laugh seeing her like
that, now that I am cured? And yet you might have remembered that in my
eyes her appearance now...(interrupts himself with a gesture of
contempt) Ah! (Suddenly turns to the doctor) : You are a
doctor, aren't you?


HENRY IV. And you also took part in dressing her up as the
Marchioness of Tuscany? To prepare a counter-joke for me here, eh?

DONNA MATILDA (impetuously). No, no! What do you say? It was
done for you! I did it for your sake.

DOCTOR (quickly). To attempt, to try, not knowing...

HENRY IV. (cutting him short). I understand. I say
counter-joke, in his case (indicates Belcredi), because he
believes that I have been carrying on a jest...

BELCREDI. But excuse me, what do you mean? You say yourself you are

HENRY IV. Let me speak! (To the doctor): Do you know, doctor,
that for a moment you ran the risk of making me mad again? By God, to
make the portraits speak; to make them jump alive out of their

DOCTOR. But you saw that all of us ran in at once, as soon as they
told us...

HENRY IV. Certainly! (Contemplates Frida and Di Nolli, and then
looks at the Marchioness, and finally at his own costume). The
combination is very beautiful...Two couples...Very good, very good,
doctor! For a madman, not bad!...(With a slight wave of his hand to
Belcredi) It seems to him now to be a carnival out of season, eh?
(Turns to look at him). We'll get rid now of this masquerade
costume of mine, so that I may come away with you. What do you say?

BELCREDI. With me? With us?

HENRY IV. Where shall we go? To the Club? In dress coats and with
white ties? Or shall both of us go to the Marchioness' house?

BELCREDI. Wherever you like! Do you want to remain here still, to
continue--alone--what was nothing but the unfortunate joke of a day of
carnival? It is really incredible, incredible how you have been able to
do all this, freed from the disaster that befell you!

HENRY IV. Yes, you see how it was! The fact is that falling from my
horse and striking my head as I did, I was really mad for I know not
how long...

DOCTOR. Ah! Did it last long?

HENRY IV. (very quickly to the doctor). Yes, doctor, a long
time! I think it must have been about twelve years. (Then suddenly
turning to speak to Belcredi): Thus I saw nothing, my dear fellow,
of all that, after that day of carnival, happened for you but not for
me: how things changed, how my friends deceived me, how my place was
taken by another, and all the rest of it! And suppose my place had been
taken in the heart of the woman I loved?...And how should I know who
was dead or who had disappeared?...All this, you know, wasn't exactly
a jest for me, as it seems to you...

BELCREDI. No, no! I don't mean that if you please. I mean

HENRY IV. Ah, yes? After? One day (stops and addresses the
doctor)--A most interesting case, doctor! Study me well! Study me
carefully (trembles while speaking)! All by itself, who knows
how, one day the trouble here (touches his forehead) mended.
Little by little, I open my eyes, and at first I don't know whether I
am asleep or awake. Then I know I am awake. I touch this thing and
that; I see clearly again...Ah !--then, as he says (alludes to
Belcredi) away, away with this masquerade, this incubus! Let's open
the windows, breathe life once again! Away! Away! Let's run out!
(Suddenly pulling himself up). But where? And to do what? To
show myself to all, secretly, as Henry IV., not like this, but arm in
arm with you, among my dear friends?

BELCREDI. What are you saying?

DONNA MATILDA. Who could think it? It's not to be imagined. It was
an accident.

HENRY IV. They all said I was mad before. (To Belcredi): And
you know it! You were more ferocious than any one against those who
tried to defend me.

BELCREDI. Oh, that was only a joke!

HENRY IV. Look at my hair! (Shows him the hair on the nape of his

BELCREDI. But mine is grey too!

HENRY IV. Yes, with this difference: that mine went grey here, as
Henry IV., do you understand? And I never knew it! I perceived it all
of a sudden, one day, when I opened my eyes; and I was terrified
because I understood at once that not only had my hair gone grey, but
that I was all grey, inside; that everything had fallen to pieces, that
everything was finished; and I was going to arrive, hungry as a wolf,
at a banquet which had already been cleared away...

BELCREDI. Yes, but, what about the others?...

HENRY IV. (quickly). Ah, yes, I know! They couldn't wait
until I was cured, not even those, who, behind my back, pricked my
saddled horse till it bled...

DI NOLLI (agitated). What, what?

HENRY IV. Yes, treacherously, to make it rear and cause me to

DONNA MATILDA (quickly, in horror). This is the first time I
knew that.

HENRY IV. That was also a joke, probably!

DONNA MATILDA. But who did it? Who was behind us, then?

HENRY IV. It doesn't matter who it was. All those that went on
feasting and were ready to leave me their scrapings, Marchioness, of
miserable pity, or some dirty remnant of remorse in the filthy plate!
Thanks! (Turning quickly to the doctor) : Now doctor, the case
must be absolutely new in the history of madness; I preferred to remain
mad--since I found everything ready and at my disposal for this new
exquisite fantasy. I would live it--this madness of mine--with the most
lucid consciousness; and thus revenge myself on the brutality of a
stone which had dinted my head. The solitude--this solitude--squalid
and empty as it appeared to me when I opened my eyes again --I
determined to deck it out with all the colours and splendors of that
far off day of carnival, when you (looks at Donna Matilda and points
Frida out to her) when you, Marchioness, triumphed. So I would
oblige all those who were around me to follow, by God, at my orders
that famous pageant which had been--for you and not for me-the jest of
a day. I would make it become-for ever--no more a joke but a reality,
the reality of a real madness: here, all in masquerade, with throne
room, and these my four secret counsellors: secret and, of course,
traitors. (He turns quickly towards them). I should like to know
what you have gained by revealing the fact that I was cured! If I am
cured, there's no longer any need of you, and you will be discharged!
To give anyone one's confidence...that is really the act of a madman.
But now I accuse you in my turn (turning to the others)! Do you
know? They thought (alludes to the valets) they could make fun
of me too with you (bursts out laughing. The others laugh, but
shamefacedly, except Donna Matilda).

BELCREDI (to Di Nolli). Well, imagine that...That's not

DI NOLLI (to the four young men). You?

HENRY IV. We must pardon them. This dress (plucking his
dress) which is for me the evident, involuntary caricature of that
other continuous, everlasting masquerade, of which we are the
involuntary puppets (indicates Belcredi), when, without knowing
it, we mask ourselves with that which we appear to be...ah, that dress
of theirs, this masquerade of theirs, of course, we must forgive it
them, since they do not yet see it is identical with
themselves...(Turning again to Belcredi) : You know, it is quite
easy to get accustomed to it. One walks about as a tragic character,
just as if it were nothing...(Imitates the tragic manner) in a
room like this...Look here, doctor! I remember a priest, certainly
Irish, a nice-looking priest, who was sleeping in the sun one November
day, with his arm on the corner of the bench of a public garden. He was
lost in the golden delight of the mild sunny air which must have seemed
for him almost summery. One may be sure that in that moment he did not
know any more that he was a priest, or even where he was. He was
dreaming...A little boy passed with a flower in his hand. He touched
the priest with it here on the neck. I saw him open his laughing eyes,
while all his mouth smiled with the beauty of his dream. He was
forgetful of everything...But all at once, he pulled himself together,
and stretched out his priest's cassock; and there came back to his eyes
the same seriousness which you have seen in mine; because the Irish
priests defend the seriousness of their Catholic faith with the same
zeal with which I defend the secret rights of hereditary monarchy! I am
cured, gentlemen: because I can act the mad man to perfection, here;
and I do it very quietly, I'm only sorry for you that have to live your
madness so agitatedly, without knowing it or seeing it.

BELCREDI. It comes to this, then, that it is we who are mad. That's
what it is!

HENRY IV. (containing his irritation). But if you weren't
mad, both you and she (indicating the Marchioness) would you
have come here to see me?

BELCREDI. To tell the truth, I came here believing that you were the

HENRY IV. (suddenly indicating the Marchioness). And she?

BELCREDI. Ah, as for her...I can't say. I see she is all fascinated
by your words, by this conscious madness of yours. (Turns to
her). Dressed as you are (speaking to her), you could even
remain here to live it out, Marchioness.

DONNA MATILDA. You are insolent!

HENRY IV. (conciliatingly). No, Marchioness, what he means to
say is that the miracle would be complete, according to him, with you
here, who-- as the Marchioness of Tuscany, you well know,-- could not
be my friend, save, as at Canossa, to give me a little pity...

BELCREDI. Or even more than a little! She said so herself!

HENRY IV. (to the Marchioness, continuing). And even, shall
we say, a little remorse!...

BELCREDI. Yes, that too she has admitted.

DONNA MATILDA (angry). Now look here...

HENRY IV. (quickly, to placate her). Don't bother about him!
Don't mind him! Let him go on infuriating me--though the doctor's told
him not to. (Turns to Belcredi.): But do you suppose I am going
to trouble myself any more about what happened between us--the share
you had in my misfortune with her (indicates the Marchioness to him
and, pointing Belcredi out to her) : the part he has now in your
life? This is my life! Quite a different thing from your life! Your
life, the life in which you have grown old --I have not lived that life
(to Donna Matilda). Was this what you wanted to show me with
this sacrifice of yours, dressing yourself up like this, according to
the Doctor's idea? Excellently done, doctor! Oh, an excellent
idea:--"As we were then, eh? and as we are now?" But I am not a madman
according to your way of thinking, doctor. I know very well that that
man there (indicates Di Nolli) cannot be me; because I am Henry
IV., and have been, these twenty years, cast in this eternal
masquerade. She has lived these years (indicates the
Marchioness) ! She has enjoyed them and has become--look at her
!--a woman I can no longer recognize. It is so that I knew her
(points to Frida and draws near her)! This is the Marchioness I
know, always this one!...You seem a lot of children to be so easily
frightened by me...(To Frida) : And you're frightened too,
little girl, aren't you, by the jest that they made you take part
in--though they didn't understand it wouldn't be the jest they meant it
to be, for me? Oh miracle of miracles! Prodigy of prodigies! The dream
alive in you! More than alive in you! It was an image that wavered
there and they've made you come to life! Oh, mine! You're mine, mine,
mine, in my own right! (He holds her in his arms, laughing like a
madman, while all stand still terrified. Then as they advance to tear
Frida from his arms, he becomes furious, terrible and cries imperiously
to his valets) : Hold them! Hold them! I order you to hold

(The four young men amazed, yet fascinated, move to execute his
orders, automatically, and seize Di Nolli, the doctor, and

BELCREDI (freeing himself). Leave her alone! Leave her alone!
You're no madman!

HENRY IV. (In a flash draws the sword from the side of Landolph,
who is close to him). I'm not mad, eh! Take that, you!
...(Drives sword into him. A cry of horror goes up. All rush over to
assist Belcredi, crying out together)

DI NOLLI. Has he wounded you?

BERTHOLD. Yes, yes, seriously!

DOCTOR. I told you so!

FRIDA. Oh God, oh God!

DI NOLLI. Frida, come here!

DONNA MATILDA. He's mad, mad!

DI NOLLI. Hold him!

BELCREDI (while they take him away by the left exit, he protests
as he is borne out). No, no, you're not mad! You're not mad. He's
not mad!

(They go out by the left amid cries and excitement. After a
moment, one hears a still sharper, more piercing cry from Donna
Matilda, and then, silence).

HENRY IV. (who has remained on the stage between Landolph, Harold
and Ordulph, with his eyes almost starting out of his head, terrified
by the life of his own masquerade which has driven him to crime).
Ah now...yes now...inevitably (calls his valets around him as if to
protect him) here together...for ever...for


* * *


With the author's consent and approval, the translator has
omitted a few lines from the original Italian where their highly
parenthetical character made the English version unnecessarily complex.
One or two allusions have also been suppressed since they have not the
same value in English as in Italian.--E. S.

* * *


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