"The Fair Humanities Of Old Religion"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This play is a translation of Schiller's play in German, which was based on a life of Wallenstein, the Duke of Friedland, hero of the Thirty Years' War. Wallenstein, fearful that he may lose his place as the commander of great armies, plots to make his senior officers pledge their loyalty to him alone, and not to the emperor. One officer, Wallenstein fears, may see through the plot; that officer is Lieutenant-General Octavio Piccolomini. To secure the older Piccolomini, Wallenstein uses his daughter, Princess Thekla, who falls in love with the general's son, Max Piccolomini, a colonel of cuirassiers. The two young persons are unaware of the plotting about them; they see only their newly discovered love, found when Max Piccolomini escorts Wallenstein's wife and daughter to the military camp. On the evening of their arrival at the camp, Princess Thekla and Max Piccolomini have a chance to be together, an opportunity arranged for them by Countess Tertsky, the girl's aunt. Princess Thekla tells her aunt and Max of a visit she has just made to the tower where Baptista Seni, an astrologer consulted by her father, consults the stars. Max Piccolomini, a realistic young soldier, states that he will no longer doubt the power of astrology, for love has opened his eyes to something more than "this visible nature, and this common world." He goes on to relate his new-found views:

For fable is Love's world, his home, his birth-place;
Delightedly dwells he 'mong fays and talismans,
And spirits; and delightedly believes
Divinities, being himself divine.
The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The Power, the Beauty, and the Majesty,
That had their haunts in dale, or piny mountain,
Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and wat'ry depths; all these have vanished.
They live no longer in the faith of reason!
But still the heart doth need a language, still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names. . . .