Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3

Author: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Scene III.


ALVA (approaching the KING with an air of doubt). This unexpected order, at so strange An hour!
[Starts on looking closer at the KING.
And then those looks!

KING (has seated himself, and taken hold of the medallion on the table.
Looks at the DUKE for some time in silence).
Is it true I have no faithful servant!


A blow Aimed at my life in its most vital part! Full well ’twas known, yet no one warned me of it.

ALVA (with a look of astonishment). A blow aimed at your majesty! and yet Escape your Alva’s eye?

KING (showing him letters).
Know you this writing?

ALVA. It is the prince’s hand.

KING (a pause—watches the DUKE closely).
Do you suspect Then nothing? Often have you cautioned me Gainst his ambition. Was there nothing more Than his ambition should have made me tremble?

ALVA. Ambition is a word of largest import, And much it may comprise.

And had you naught Of special purport to disclose?

ALVA (after a pause, mysteriously).
Your majesty Hath given the kingdom’s welfare to my charge: On this my inmost, secret thoughts are bent, And my best vigilance. Beyond this charge What I may think, suspect, or know belongs To me alone. These are the sacred treasures Which not the vassal only, but the slave, The very slave, may from a king withhold. Not all that to my mind seems plain is yet Mature enough to meet the monarch’s ear. Would he be answered—then must I implore He will not question as a king.

KING (handing the letters).
Read these.

ALVA (reads them, and turns to the KING with a look of terror). Who was the madman placed these fatal papers In my king’s bands?

You know, then, who is meant? No name you see is mentioned in the paper.

ALVA (stepping back confused). I was too hasty!

But you know!

ALVA (after some consideration).
’Tis spoken! The king commands,—I dare not now conceal. I’ll not deny it—I do know the person.

KING (starting up in violent emotion). God of revenge! inspire me to invent Some new, unheard-of torture! Is their crime So clear, so plain, so public to the world, That without e’en the trouble of inquiry The veriest hint suffices to reveal it? This is too much! I did not dream of this! I am the last of all, then, to discern it— The last in all my realm?

ALVA (throwing himself at the KING’S feet).
Yes, I confess My guilt, most gracious monarch. I’m ashamed A coward prudence should have tied my tongue When truth, and justice, and my sovereign’s honor Urged me to speak. But since all else are silent And since the magic spell of beauty binds All other tongues, I dare to give it voice; Though well I know a son’s warm protestations, A wife’s seductive charms and winning tears----

KING (suddenly with warmth). Rise, Alva! thou hast now my royal promise; Rise, and speak fearlessly!

ALVA (rising).
Your majesty, Perchance, may bear in your remembrance still What happened in the garden at Aranjuez. You found the queen deserted by her ladies, With looks confused—alone, within a bower,—

KING. Proceed. What further have I yet to hear?

ALVA. The Marchioness of Mondecar was banished Because she boldly sacrificed herself To save the queen! It has been since discovered She did no more than she had been commanded. Prince Carlos had been there.

KING (starting).
The prince! What more?

ALVA. Upon the ground the footsteps of a man Were traced, till finally they disappeared Close to a grotto, leftward of the bower, Where lay a handkerchief the prince had dropped. This wakened our suspicions. But besides, The gardener met the prince upon the spot,— Just at the time, as near as we can guess, Your majesty appeared within the walk.

KING (recovering from gloomy thought). And yet she wept when I but seemed to doubt! She made me blush before the assembled court, Blush to my very self! By heaven! I stood In presence of her virtue, like a culprit.

[A long and deep silence. He sits down and hides his face.

Yes, Alva, you are right! All this may lead To something dreadful—leave me for a moment----

ALVA. But, gracious sire, all this is not enough----

KING (snatching up the papers). Nor this, nor this?—nor all the harmony Of these most damning proofs? ’Tis clear as day— I knew it long ago—their heinous guilt Began when first I took her from your hands, Here in Madrid. I think I see her now, With look of horror, pale as midnight ghost, Fixing her eyes upon my hoary hair! ’Twas then the treacherous game began!

The prince, In welcoming a mother—lost his bride! Long had they nursed a mutual passion, long Each other’s ardent feelings understood, Which her new state forbade her to indulge. The fear which still attends love’s first avowal Was long subdued. Seduction, bolder grown, Spoke in those forms of easy confidence Which recollections of the past allowed. Allied by harmony of souls and years, And now by similar restraints provoked, They readily obeyed their wild desires. Reasons of state opposed their early union— But can it, sire, be thought she ever gave To the state council such authority? That she subdued the passion of her soul To scrutinize with more attentive eye The election of the cabinet. Her heart Was bent on love, and won a diadem.

KING (offended, and with bitterness). You are a nice observer, duke, and I Admire your eloquence. I thank you truly.
[Rising coldly and haughtily. But you are right. The queen has deeply erred In keeping from me letters of such import, And in concealing the intrusive visit The prince paid in the garden:—from a false Mistaken honor she has deeply erred And I shall question further.
[Ringing the bell.
Who waits now Within the antechamber? You, Duke Alva, I need no longer. Go.

And has my zeal A second time displeased your majesty?

KING (to a page who enters). Summon Domingo. Duke, I pardon you For having made me tremble for a moment, With secret apprehension, lest yourself Might fall a victim to a foul misdeed.

[Exit ALVA.


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Chicago: Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, "Scene III.," Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3, trans. R. D. Boylan in Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3 (London: George Bell & Sons, 1881), Original Sources, accessed April 16, 2024,

MLA: von Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich. "Scene III." Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3, translted by R. D. Boylan, in Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3, London, George Bell & Sons, 1881, Original Sources. 16 Apr. 2024.

Harvard: von Schiller, JC, 'Scene III.' in Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3, trans. . cited in 1881, Don Carlos, the Works of Frederick Schiller, Vol. 3, George Bell & Sons, London. Original Sources, retrieved 16 April 2024, from