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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. VII.
Author: Various
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With an expression of unconcern on his face, like that of all the principal persons of this ceremony, the bridegroom alighted from the carriage. Some young people, his most intimate friends, followed him, adorned with ribbons and bouquets. He slowly approached the bride, who even now did not look up, but went on spinning and spinning. The first bridesmaid then fastened the large bouquet of sage to the breast of his wedding-jacket. The bridegroom accepted the bouquet without thanks, for thanks were not included in the traditional routine. He silently offered his hand to his father-in-law, then, just as silently, to his bride, who thereupon arose and placed herself with the bridesmaids, between the first and second and in front of the third.

In the meanwhile, the servants had carried the dowry to the wagon. The scene assumed a rather wild aspect, for the people with the baggage, in hurrying back and forth among the cooking-fires, kicked from its place many a burning fagot which crackled and showered sparks in the very path down which the bridal pair were to walk. After the loading of linen, the flax, and the various pieces of wearing apparel, the bride, with the three bridesmaids and the spinning wheel, which she carried herself, took a seat in the carriage. The bridegroom sat down apart from her in the back part of the vehicle, and the young fellows were obliged to follow on foot, as the dowry occupied so much room that there was none left for them. One of them made this the subject of traditional facetious remarks, which he addressed to the Justice, who replied to them with a smirk. He walked along behind the young men, and the Hunter placed himself at his side. Thus two men walked together, who on this day were cherishing the most radically opposed feelings. For the Justice was thinking of nothing but the wedding, and the Hunter of anything but the wedding, although his thoughts were hovering about the bridal carriage.

Now let us allow the latter to drive slowly to the home of the bridegroom, where already the entire wedding-company is waiting for it—men, women, girls and youths from all the surrounding estates, in addition to friends from the city, the Captain and the Collector. There the carriage is unloaded. Meanwhile let us go on ahead to the church, which, shaded by walnut-trees and wild chestnuts, stands on a green hill in the centre of the entire community.

Inasmuch as it was the proper time, and as the people had already gathered in the church, the Sexton began to play the customary "Battle of Prague" on the organ. He knew but one prelude, and this was that forgotten battle-hymn which perhaps a few elderly people will recollect if I recall to their memories that the musical picture begins with the advance of Ziethen's Hussars. From this march the Sexton managed to swing over, with transitions which, to be sure, were not infrequently rather bold, into the ordinary church melodies.

While the hymn was being sung the Pastor entered the pulpit, and when he chanced to cast his eyes over the congregation, they met an unexpected sight. A gentleman from court, namely, was standing among the peasants, whose attention he was diverting because they were all constantly looking up from their hymnals and glancing at his star. The aristocratic gentleman wanted to share a hymn book with some one of the peasants, in order to join in the singing, but since each one of them, as soon as the gentleman drew near to him, respectfully stepped aside, he was unable to accomplish his purpose, and succeeded only in causing an almost general unrest. For when he sat down in one of the pews, every one of the peasants seated in it moved along to the extreme farther end, and when he moved along toward them they finally deserted the pew altogether. This moving along and getting up was repeated in three or four pews, so that the aristocratic gentleman, who was attending this little country service with the best of intentions, was finally obliged to give up the idea of taking an active part in it. He had business in the region, and did not want to miss an opportunity of winning, by means of condescension, the hearts of these country people for the throne to which he felt himself so near. For that reason, as soon as he heard of the peasant wedding, the idea of attending it affably from beginning to end immediately occurred to him.

The sight of the gentleman did not make a pleasant impression on the Pastor, who knew him to be a member of one of the brilliant social circles in the capital. He knew what a peculiar custom would follow the sermon and feared the gentleman's ridicule. For that reason his thoughts lost some of their usual clearness, his feelings were somewhat concealed, and the more he talked the further he digressed from the subject. His distraction increased when he noticed that the gentleman was casting appreciative glances at him and occasionally nodding his head in approval; this last happened usually when the speaker was most dissatisfied with what he was saying. He consequently cut short certain parts of the nuptial address and hurried along to the formal ceremony.

The bridal pair were kneeling, and the fateful questions were being put to them. Then something happened which gave the aristocratic stranger a violent shock. For, looking to the right and left and before and behind him, he saw men and women, girls and youths drawing out thick clubs of twisted sack-cloth. Everybody was standing up and whispering and looking around, as it seemed to him, with wild and malicious glances. As it was impossible for him to guess the true meaning of these preparations, he completely lost his composure; and since the clubs seemed to indicate incontestably that somebody was to be the recipient of blows, he got the notion into his head that he himself was going to be the object of a general maltreatment. He remembered how fearsomely the people had moved away from him, and he thought to himself how rough the character of country people was, and how perhaps the peasants, not understanding his condescending motive, had resolved to get rid of the disagreeable intruder. All this went through his soul like a streak of lightning, and he was at a loss to know how he was going to protect his person and dignity from the horrible attack.

While he was helplessly wrestling for a decision, the Pastor concluded the ceremonies, and there immediately arose the wildest tumult. All the bearers of clubs, men and women, rushed forward yelling and screaming and flourishing their weapons; the aristocratic gentleman, however, in three sidewise bounds over several pews, reached the pulpit. In a trice he had ascended it, and from this elevated position called out in a loud voice to the raging crowd below:

"I advise you not to attack me! I cherish the kindest and most condescending feelings toward you all, and any injury done to me will be resented by the King, as one done to himself."

The peasants, however, inspired by the object they had in view, did not listen to this speech, but ran on up to the altar. On the way this and that person received some unpremeditated blows before the intended object of them was reached. This was the bridegroom. Clapping his hands over his head, the latter with great exertion forced a passage for himself through the crowd, who rained blows on his back, shoulders and wherever there was room. He ran, violently pushing people aside, to the church door; but before he got there he had received certainly more than a hundred blows, and thus, well covered with black-and-blue marks, he left the church on his wedding-day. Everybody ran after him; the bride's father and bride followed, the Sexton closed the door immediately after the last one had passed through it and betook himself to the vestry, which had a private exit. In a few seconds the entire church was empty.

All this time the aristocratic gentleman had remained in the pulpit, while the Pastor stood before the altar, bowing to him with a friendly smile. The gentleman, when he saw from his Ararat that the blows were not meant for him, grew calm and dropped his arms. When it was quiet, he asked the clergyman:

"For heaven's sake, Pastor, tell me what this furious scene meant; what had the poor man done to his assailants?"

"Nothing, your Excellency," replied the Pastor who, notwithstanding the dignity of the place, could hardly help laughing at the nobleman in the pulpit. "This act of beating the bridegroom after the marriage ceremony is an old, old custom which the people refuse to give up. They say that it is intended to let the bridegroom feel how much blows hurt, so that in the future he will not abuse his rights as a husband toward his wife."

"Well, but that is certainly a most remarkable custom," mumbled his Excellency, descending from the pulpit.

The Pastor received him very courteously below and conducted his aristocratic acquaintance into the vestry, in order to let him outdoors from there. The latter, who was still somewhat frightened, said that he would have to think it over, whether or not he could take part in the further proceedings of the ceremony. The clergyman, on the way to the vestry, expressed profound regret that he had not been previously advised of his Excellency's design, because he then would have been in a position to inform him of the beating custom, and thus to avert so great a fright and shock.

After both had departed, peace and silence reigned once more in the church. It was a pretty little church, dainty and not too gay—a rich benefactor had done a great deal for it. The ceiling was painted blue with gold stars. The pulpit displayed some artistic carving and among the tablets on the floor, which covered the tombs of former pastors, there were even two or three of bronze. The pews were kept very tidy and clean, and to that end the Justice had exerted his strong influence. A beautiful cloth adorned the altar, above which rose a twisted column painted to resemble marble.

The light fell brightly into the little church, the trees outside were rustling, and now and then a gentle breeze coming in by a broken window-pane stirred the white scarf with which the angel above the baptismal font was decked, or the tinsel of the wreaths which, having been taken from the coffins of the maidens who had died, were used to decorate the surrounding pillars.

Bride and bridegroom were gone, the bridal procession was gone, but still the peaceful little church was not yet entirely deserted. Two young people had remained inside of it, without knowing of each other's presence; and this is how it happened. The Hunter, when the wedding-party entered the church, had separated from them and quietly gone up a flight of stairs to a gallery. There, unseen by the rest, he sat down on a stool all alone by himself, his back to the people and to the altar. He buried his face in his hands, but that he could not long endure to do; his cheek and brow were too hot. The hymn with its solemn tones cooled the heat like falling dew; he thanked God that finally, finally the supreme happiness had been granted to him:

In thy sadness, in thy laughter, Thou art thine own by law of love! * * *

A little child had crept up to him out of curiosity; he gently grasped his hand and caressed it. Then he started to give him money, did not do it, but pressed him against his breast and kissed his forehead. And when the boy, a bit frightened by his hot caress, moved toward the stairs, he slowly led him down lest he should fall. Then he returned to his seat and heard nothing of the sermon, nothing of the noise which followed it. He was sunk in deep and blissful dreams which revealed to him his beautiful mother and his white castle on the green hillside and himself and somebody else in the castle.

Lisbeth, embarrassed in her strange attire, had bashfully walked along behind the bride. Oh, she thought, just when the good man thinks I am always natural I must wear borrowed clothes. She longed to have back her own. She heard the peasants behind her talking about her in a whisper. The aristocratic gentleman, who met the procession in front of the church, looked at her critically for a long time through his lorgnette. All that she was obliged to endure, when she had just been so beautifully extolled in verse, when her heart was overflowing with joyful delight. Half dazed she entered the church, where she made up her mind to desert the procession on the way back, in order to avoid becoming again the object of conversation or facetious remarks, which now for a quarter of an hour had been far from her thoughts. She too heard but little of the sermon, earnestly as she strove to follow the discourse of her respected clerical friend. And when the rings were exchanged, the matter-of-course expression on the faces of the bridal pair aroused a peculiar emotion in her—a mixture of sadness, envy, and quiet resentment that so heavenly a moment should pass by two such stolid souls.

Then came the tumult, and she fled involuntarily behind the altar. When it grew quiet again, she drew a deep breath, adjusted her apron, gently stroked back a lock of hair that had fallen over on her brow, and took courage. She was anxious to see how she could make her way back to the Oberhof unnoticed and get rid of the disagreeable clothes. With short steps and eyes cast down she walked along a side passage toward the door.

Having finally awakened from his dreams, the Hunter was descending the stairs. He too was anxious to quit the church, but where to go he did not know. His heart throbbed when he saw Lisbeth; she lifted her eyes and stood still, shy and artless. Then, without looking at each other, they went in silence to the door, and the Hunter laid his hand on the latch to open it.

"It is locked!" he cried in a tone of delight, as if the best luck in the world had befallen him. "We are locked in the church!"

"Locked in?" she said, filled with sweet horror.

"Why does that cause you dismay? Where can one possibly have better quarters than in a church?" he said soulfully. He gently put his arm around her waist, and with his other hand grasped her hand. Then he led her to a seat, gently forced her to sit down and himself sat down beside her. She dropped her eyes and toyed with the ribbons on the gay-colored bodice she was wearing.

"This is a horrible dress, isn't it?" she said scarce audibly after a long silence.

"Oh!" he cried, "I hadn't been looking at the dress!" He seized both of her hands, pressed them violently to his breast, and then lifted her from the pew. "I cannot bear to sit so still.—Let's take a look at the church!" he cried.

"Probably there is not much here worth seeing," she replied trembling.

But his strong arms had already surrounded, lifted, and borne her to the altar. There he let her down; she lay half-fainting against his breast.

"Lisbeth!" he stammered his voice choking with love. "My only love! Forgive me! Will you be my wife?—my eternal, sweet wife?"

She did not answer. Her heart was throbbing against his. Her tears were flowing on his breast. Now he raised her head, and their lips met. For a long, long time they held them together.

Then he gently drew her down to her knees beside him, and both raised their hands in prayer before the altar. They could give voice to nothing save, "Father! Dear Father in Heaven!" And that they did not tire of repeating in voices trembling with bliss. They said it as confidingly as if the Father whom they meant were offering them His hand.

Finally the prayer died out and they both silently laid their faces on the altar-cloth.

Thus united they continued for some time to kneel in the church, and neither made a sound. Suddenly they felt their hands lightly touched and looked up. The Pastor was standing between them with a shining face, and holding his hands on their heads in blessing. By chance he had entered the church once more from the vestry and, touched and amazed, had witnessed the betrothal which had been consummated here apart from the wedding in the presence of God. He, too, said no word, but his eyes spoke. He drew the youth and the girl to his breast, and pressed his favorites affectionately to him.

Then, leading the way, he went with the couple into the vestry in order to let them out. And thus the three left the little, quiet, bright village church. Lisbeth and the Hunter had found each other—for their lives!

* * * * *



GUTZKOW AND YOUNG GERMANY

By Starr Willard Cutting, Ph.D. Professor of German Literature, University of Chicago

A group of men, including, among others, Ludwig Boerne, Heinrich Heine, Heinrich Laube, Theodor Mundt, Ludolf Wienbarg, and Karl Gutzkow, dominate the literary activity of Germany from the beginning of the fourth decade to about the middle of the nineteenth century. The common bond of coherence among the widely divergent types of mind here represented, is the spirit of protest against the official program of the reaction which had succeeded the rise of the people against Napoleon Bonaparte. This German phase of an essentially European political restoration had turned fiercely upon all intelligent, patriotic leaders, who called for a redemption of the unfulfilled pledges of constitutional government, given by the princes of Germany, in dire need of popular support against foreign invasion, and had construed such reminders as disloyalty and as proof of dark designs against the government. It had branded indiscriminately, as infamous demagogues, traitors, and revolutionists, all those who, like Jahn, the Turners, and most of the members of the earliest Burschenschaften (open student societies), longed for the creation of a new empire under the leadership of Prussia, or, like Karl Follen (Charles Follen, first professor of German at Harvard), preferred the establishment of a German republic on lines similar to those of the United States of America. Under a policy of suppression, manipulated by Metternich with consummate skill in the interest of Austria against Prussia and against German confidence in the sincerity and trustworthiness of the Prussian government, the reaction had by arrests, prosecutions, circumlocution-office delays, banishments, and an elaborate system of espionage, for the most part silenced opposition and saved, not the state, but, at any rate, the status quo. This "success" had incidentally cost Germany the presence and service of some of the ablest and best of her own youth, who spent the rest of their lives in France, England, Switzerland, or the United States. We Americans owe to this "success" some of the most admirable types of our citizenship—expatriated Germans like Karl Follen, Karl Beck, Franz Lieber, the brothers Wesselhoeft, and many others.

Wienbarg dedicated in 1834 his Esthetic Campaigns to Young Germany. This term has since then served friend and foe to designate the group of writers of whom we speak. Their slogan was freedom. Freedom from cramping police surveillance; freedom from the arbitrary control of government, unchecked by responsibility to the people; freedom from the narrowing prescriptions of ecclesiastical authority, backed by the power of the state; freedom from the literary restraint of medievalism in modern letters—these and various other brands of freedom were demanded by different members of the school. Just because the birth-throes of modern Germany, which extend over the first seventy years of the nineteenth century, were especially violent during the period under consideration, the program of the school had from the outset a strong political bias. The broad masses of the people were unacquainted with political forms and principles. They were by time-hallowed tradition virtually the wards of their patriarchal princes, sharing with these protectors a high degree of jealous regard for state sovereignty and of instinctive opposition towards any and all attempts to secure popular restraint of the sovereign's will and national unification, that should demand subordination of the single state to the central government. All early attempts to awaken popular interest in social and political reform had fallen flat, because of this helpless ignorance and indifference of public opinion. But the drastic official measures against early agitators proved to be a challenge to further activity in the direction of progress.



The July revolution of 1830 in Paris added fuel to the flame of this agitation in Germany and intensified the interest of still wider masses in the question of large nationality and popular control. Then came, on the twenty-seventh of May, 1832, the German revolutionary speeches of the Hambach celebration, and, on April third, 1833, the Frankfurt riot, with its attempt to take the Confederate Council by surprise and to proclaim the unification of Germany. The resulting persecution of Fritz Reuter, the tragedy of Friedrich Ludwig Weidig, the simultaneous withdrawal or curtailment of the freedom of the press and the right of holding public meetings were most eloquent advocates with the public mind for a sturdy opposition to the conservatism of princes and officials.

No wonder, then, that thinking men, like Heine and Gutzkow, were fairly forced by circumstances into playing the game. No wonder that their tales, novels, and dramas became in many cases editorials to stimulate and guide public thought and feeling in one direction or another. This swirl of agitation put a premium upon a sort of rapid-fire work and journalistic tone, quite incompatible with the highest type of artistic performance. While the Young Germans were all politically liberal and opposed to the Confederate Council and to the Metternich program, they were in many ways more cosmopolitan than national in temper.

The foregoing may serve to show the only substantial ground for the charge of didacticism, frequently lodged by their critics against the writers of the school. For it is beside the mark to speak of their opposition to romanticism as a ground for the charge in question. They were all, to be sure, anti-Romanticists. They declined to view life through roseate-hued spectacles or to escape the world of everyday reality by fairy-tale flights into the world of the imagination. They called upon men to discover by clear-eyed vision not only the beauties but also the defects of contemporary social existence. They would employ literature, not as an opiate to make us forget such defects, but as a stimulant to make us remedy them. Hence their repeated exhortations to use the senses and to trust them as furnishing the best kind of raw material for legitimate art. Hence also their protests against the bloodless abstractions of the Nazarene school of painting and to transcendental idealism in art and literature. They cultivated art, not for its own sake, but for the sake of a fuller, saner, and freer human life. In this sense they were didactic; but they were no more didactic than the Romanticists and the Pseudo-Classicists who had preceded them. In their earnest contention for an organic connection between German life and German art and literature they were hewing more closely to the line of nature and truth than any other Germans since the time of Herder.

They are usually spoken of as free-thinkers and frequently as anti-religious in temper and conviction. The charge of irreligion seems based upon the misconception or the misrepresentation of their orthodox critics. It is, at any rate, undeserved, as far as Gutzkow, the leader of the school, is concerned. It is true that they were liberal in the matter of religious and philosophical thought. They were also skeptical as to the sincerity and usefulness of many current practises and institutions of the Catholic and Protestant branches of the church; their wit, irony, and satire were directed, however, not against religion, but against the obnoxious externals of ecclesiasticism. This attack was provoked by the obvious fact that the reaction employed the institutional state church as a weapon with which to combat the rising tide of popular discontent with existing social and political forms and functions. This was especially true after the accession to the throne of Prussia of that romantic and reactionary prince, Frederick William IV., in 1840.

Critics have ascribed the negative, disintegrating, and cosmopolitan spirit of the group as a whole to the fact that Boerne and Heine were Jews. In addition, however, to the abundant non-racial grounds for this spirit, already urged as inherent in the historic crisis under discussion, we should recall the fact that Heine, as a literary producer, is more closely allied with the Romanticists than with Young Germany, and that Boerne, who in his celebrated Letters from Paris (1830-34) and elsewhere went farther than all other members of the school in transforming art criticism into political criticism, was no cosmopolitan but an ardent, sincere, and consistent German patriot. Moreover, while Boerne and Heine belong through sympathy and deliberate choice to Young Germany, the real spokesmen of the group, Wienbarg, Laube, Mundt, and Gutzkow, were non-Jewish Germans.

Among the external facts of Gutzkow's life, worth remembering in this connection, are the following: His birth on the seventeenth of March, 1811, as the son of humble parents; his precocious development in school and at the University of Berlin; his deep interest in the revolution of 1830 in Paris; his student experiments in journalism and the resulting association with the narrow-minded patriot, Wolfgang Menzel; his doctorate in Jena and subsequent study of books and men in Heidelberg, Munich, Leipzig, Berlin, and Hamburg; his association with Heine, Laube, Mundt, and Wienbarg and his journey with Laube through Austria and Italy in 1533; his breach with Menzel at the instance of Laube in the same year; his publication in 1835 of the crude sketch of an emancipation novel, Wally the Skeptic, compounded of suggestions from Lessing's Dr. Reimarus, from Saint Simonism, and from the sentimental tragedy of Charlotte Stieglitz in real life; Menzel's revengeful denunciation of this colorless and tedious novel, as an "outrageous attack upon ethics and the Christian religion"; the resulting verdict of the Mannheim municipal court, punishing Gutzkow by one month's imprisonment, with no allowance for a still longer detention during his trial; the official proscription of all "present and future writings" by Gutzkow, Wienbarg, Laube, Mundt, and Heine; Gutzkow's continued energetic championship of the new literary movement and editorial direction of the Frankfurt Telegraph, from 1835 to 1837, under the very eyes of the Confederate Council; his removal in 1837 to Hamburg and his gradual transformation there from a short story writer and journalist into a successful dramatist; his series of eleven plays, produced within the space of fifteen years, from 1839 to 1854; the success of his tragedy, Uriel Acosta, in 1846, and the resulting appointment of the author in the same year as playwright and critic at the Royal Theatre in Dresden; his temperate participation in the popular movement of 1848 and consequent loss of the Dresden position; the death of his wife, Amalia, in the same-year after an estrangement of seven years, due to his own infatuation for Therese von Bacharacht; his happy marriage in 1849 with Bertha Meidinger, a cousin of his first wife; the publication in 1850-51 of his first great novel of contemporary German life, entitled, Spiritual Knighthood; his continuous editorial work upon the journal, Fireside Conversations, from 1849 until the appearance of his other great contemporary novel, The Magician of Rome, 1858-61; his attack of insanity under the strain of ill health in 1865 and unsuccessful attempt at suicide; and, finally, his rapidly declining health and frequent change of residence from Berlin to Italy, thence to Heidelberg, and from there to Sachsenhausen, near Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and his tragic death there, either intentional or accidental, in the night of December fifteenth, 1878, when under the influence of chloral he upset the candle, by the light of which he had been reading, and perished in the stifling fumes of the burning room.

This bare outline recalls the personality and career of the best single embodiment of the spirit of Young Germany. His humble birth, unusual grasp of intellect, and ambition to secure an adequate education brought him into early touch with alert representatives of the educated middle classes, who were the keenest and most consistent critics of the political, social, and ecclesiastical reaction which gripped German life at that time. Menzel's student connection with the Jena Burschenschaft, his early published protest against the emptiness of recent German literature, and his polemic, entitled German Literature, and aimed at the imitators of Goethe and at Goethe's own lack of interest in German unification, attracted young Gutzkow, who had also been a member of the Burschenschaft, and prompted him to write and publish in his student paper a defense of Menzel against his critics. This led Menzel to invite Gutzkow to Stuttgart and to propose a cooeperation which could be but short-lived; for Menzel was timid and vacillating, whereas Gutzkow was sincere, courageous, and consistent. This steadfastness and singleness of purpose, combined with a remarkable power to appreciate, adopt, and express the leading thoughts and aspirations of his own time, make Gutzkow the most efficient leader of the whole group. Heine was, as already noted, too much of a Romanticist to be a thorough-going Young German. Besides, he lacked the sincerity and the enthusiastic conviction which dedicated practically every work of Karl Gutzkow to the task of restoring the proper balance between German literature and German life. Gutzkow felt that literature had, in the hands of the Romanticists, abandoned life to gain a fool's paradise. After a brief apprenticeship to Jean Paul and to the romantic ideal, never whole-hearted, because of the disintegrating influence of his simultaneous acquaintance with Boerne and Heine, Gutzkow utterly renounced the earlier movement and became the champion of a definite reform. He aimed henceforth to enrich German literature by abundant contact with the large, new thoughts of modern life in its relation to the individual and to the community. He was no less sincere in his determination to make literature introduce the German people to a larger, richer, freer, and truer human life for the individual and for the state. In his eyes statecraft, religion, philosophy, science, and industry teemed with raw material of surpassing interest and importance for the literary artist. He accordingly set himself the task in one way and another to make his own generation share this conviction. It is quite true that he was not the man to transform with his own hands this raw material into works of art of consummate beauty and perfection. He was conscious of his own artistic limitations and would have confessed them in the best years of his life with the frankness of a Lessing in similar circumstances. We may agree that he lacked the skill of many greater poets than he, to compress into artistic shape, with due regard for line, color, movement, and atmosphere of the original, the material of his observation. Yet we still have to explain the fact that he wrote novels and dramas pulsating with the life of his own contemporaries—works that claimed the attention and touched the heart of thousands of readers and theatre-goers and inspired many better artists than he to treat themes drawn from the public and private life of the day.

It would take us too far afield to trace in detail the nature and sources of Gutzkow's writings, by which he accomplished this important result. A few suggestions, together with a reminder of his great indebtedness to the simultaneous efforts of other Young Germans, notably those of Laube and Wienbarg, must suffice. Practically all of his earlier writings, like the short story, The Sadducee of Amsterdam (1833), as well as the essays entitled Public Characters (1835), On the Philosophy of History (1836), and Contemporaries (1837), are evidence of the intense interest of the author in the social, philosophical, and political leaders of the time. They are preliminary studies, to be used by him presently in his work as a dramatist.

In his two powerful novels, Spiritual Knighthood (1850-51) and The Magician of Rome (1858-61), he states and discusses with great boldness and skill those problems of the relation between Church and State—between religion and citizenship—that confronted the thoughtful men of the day.

The backbone of each of his numerous serious plays is some conflict, reflecting directly or indirectly the prejudices, antagonisms, shortcomings, and struggles of modern German social, religious, and civic life. King Saul (1839) embodies, for instance, the conflict between ecclesiastical and temporal authority—between the authority of the church and the claims of the thinker and the poet; Richard Savage (1839) that between the pride of noble birth and the promptings of the mother's heart; Werner (1840), A White Leaf (1842), and Ottfried (1848), variations of the conflict between a man's duty and his vacillating, simultaneous love of two women; Patkul (1840), the conflict between the hero's championship of truth and justice and the triumphant inertia of authority in the hands of a weak prince; Uriel Acosta (1846), the best of the author's serious plays, embodies the tragic conflict between the hero's conviction of truth and his love for his mother and for his intended wife.

Gutzkow wrote three comedies which in point of continued popularity have outlived all his other numerous contributions to the German stage: Sword and Queue (1843), The Prototype of Tartuffe (1844), and The Royal Lieutenant (1849). The second of the three has the best motivated plot; the first and third have, by virtue of their national substance, their witty dialogue, and their droll humor, proved dearer to the heart of the German people. In The Prototype of Tartuffe we are shown President La Roquette at the court of Louis XIV., obliged at last, in spite of his long continued successful efforts to suppress the play, to witness his own public unmasking in the person of Moliere's Tartuffe, of whom he is the sneaking, hypocritical original. We hear him in anger declare his readiness to join the Jesuits and we join in the laugh at his discomfiture. The scene of The Royal Lieutenant, written to celebrate the hundredth recurrence of Goethe's birthday, is laid in the Seven Years' War in the house of Goethe's father in Frankfurt. The Riccaut-like figure of the Royal Lieutenant himself, Count Thorane, and his outlandish attempts to speak German, the clever portraits of the dignified father and the cheerful mother, and the unhistorical sketch of little Wolfgang, with his pleased and precocious anticipation of his future laurels, are woven by means of witty dialogue into an amusing, though not very coherent or logical whole. In Gutzkow's Sword and Queue an entertaining situation at the court of Frederick William I. of Prussia is developed by a very free use of the facts of history, after the manner of the comedy of Scribe. With rare skill the different characters of the play are sketched and shown upon a background, which corresponds closely enough to historic fact to produce the illusion of reality. The comedy pilots the Crown Prince's friend, the Prince of Baireuth, through a maze of intrigue, including Prussian ambition to secure an alliance with England by the marriage of the Princess Wilhelmine to the Prince of Wales; a diplomatic blocking of this plan, with the help of the English Ambassador Hotham; the changed front of the old King, who prefers a union of his daughter with an Austrian Archduke to the hard terms of the proposed English treaty; Hotham's proposal to the King to bring him a promising recruit for the corps of Royal Grenadiers; the evening of the Tobacco Parliament, in which the Prince of Baireuth feigns tipsiness and in a mocking funeral oration, in honor of the old King, tells the pseudo-deceased some bitter truths,—to a final scene, in which, as Hotham's proposed grenadier recruit with Queue and Sword, he wins not only the cordial approval of the King but also the heart and hand of Wilhelmine.

Karl Gutzkow's life-work was a struggle for freedom and truth. We recognize in the web of his serious argument familiarity with the best thought of the poets, theologians, and philosophers of his own day and of the eighteenth century. In religion a pantheist, he believed in the immortality of the soul, had unshaken confidence in the tendency of the world that "makes for righteousness," and recommends the ideal of "truth and justice" as the best central thought to guide each man's whole life. He shares in an eminent degree, with other members of the group known as Young Germany, a significance for the subsequent development of German literature, far transcending the artistic value of his works. People are just beginning to perceive his genetic importance for the student of Ibsen, Nietzsche, and the recent naturalistic movement in European letters.

* * * * *



KARL FERDINAND GUTZKOW

SWORD AND QUEUE (1843)

TRANSLATED BY GRACE ISABEL COLBRON

PREFACE OF THE AUTHOR

The essence of the comic is self-contradiction, contrast. Even professional estheticians must acknowledge that by the very nature of its origin the following comedy answers this definition.

A king lacking the customary attributes of his station; a royal court governed by the rules that regulate any simple middle-class household—surely here is a contradiction sufficient in itself to attract the Comic Muse. And it was indeed only when the author was well along in his work that he felt any inclination to introduce a few political allusions with what is called a "definite purpose," into a work inspired by the principles of pure comedy.

Ever since the example set by those great Greeks, AEschylus and Aristophanes, the stage has claimed the right to deal with extremes. He who, sinning and laden with the burden of human guilt, has once fallen a victim to the Eumenides, cannot, as a figure in a drama, go off on pleasure trips, nor can he go about the usual business of daily life. Fate seizes him red-handed, causes him to see blood in every glass of champagne and to read his warrant of arrest on every chance scrap of paper. And the Comic Muse is even less indulgent. When Aristophanes would mock the creations of Euripides, which are meant to move the public by their declining fortunes, he at once turns the tragedian into a rag-picker.

Comedy may, tragedy must, exaggerate. The exaggerations in Sword and Queue brought forth many a contemptuous grimace from the higher-priced seats in the Court Theatres. But it needs only a perusal of the Memoirs of the Markgravine of Baireuth, Princess of Prussia, to give the grotesque picture a certificate of historical veracity. Not only the character-drawing, but the very plot, is founded on those Memoirs, written in a less sophisticated age than our own, and the authenticity of which is undisputed.

In the case of Seckendorf, the technical, or, I might say, the symphonic composition of the play, which allots the parts as arbitrarily as in the Midsummer Night's Dream does Peter Quince, who says to highly respectable people: "You play the Lion, and you play the Ass," necessitates making a victim of a man who was a mediocre diplomat, but for a time, at least, a fairly good soldier. The author feels no compunction on this score. Stupidity, as Comus artlessly thinks, is not wickedness; the Lion or the Ass—each is necessary to different moments in the play. A Brandenburg-Prussian comedy of 1733 can, a priori, hardly fail to be "unjust" to an Imperial Ambassador of that epoch. Such injustice belongs to the native wantonness of the Comic Muse. In plays of a specifically Austrian character, Prussia, and especially the people of Berlin, have suffered the same necessary injustice of comedy. Fortunately, according to Chevalier Lang and other more reliable authorities, this particular Seckendorf was both vain and tyrannous. His hatred for Frederick II. and his eternal "combinations" went to such lengths that, during the first Silesian war, he offered the Austrian Court a detailed plan by which the "Land-hungry conqueror" might be personally rendered innocuous. (See Arneth, Maria Theresa, Vol. I).

However, Puck's manner of writing history may be softened a little. It is not necessary for the actor to present Seckendorf as an imbecile. Actors have the unfortunate habit of taking the whole hand when a finger is offered. In truth I have seen but a very few performances of my play in which Frederick William I. still retained, beneath his attitude of stern father, some share of royal dignity; in which Eversmann, despite his confident impudence, still held his tongue like a trembling lackey; in which the Hereditary Prince, despite his desire to find everything in the Castle ridiculous, still maintained a reserve sufficient to save him from being expelled from Berlin for his impertinent criticisms—or where the Princess was still proud and witty beneath her girlish simplicity. And still rarer is it to see a Seckendorf who, in spite of his clumsy "combinations," did not quite sink to the level of the Marshal von Kalb. At this point a dramaturgic hint might not come amiss. In cases where there is danger of degrading the part, the stage manager should take care to intrust such roles to the very actors who at first thought might seem least suited for them—those whose personalities will compel them to raise the part to a higher level. The buffoon and sometimes even the finer comedian cannot free Shakespeare from the reproach of having given two kings of Denmark a clown as Prime Minister. It is very much less necessary that the audience should laugh at Polonius' quips than that the quips should in no wise impair his position as courtier, as royal adviser, as father of two excellent children, and, at the last, as a man who met death with tragic dignity. In such a case a wise manager intrusts the comic part to an actor who—is not comic.

The following play was written in the spring of 1843. Some of our readers may chance to know the little garden of the Hotel Reichmann in Milan. In a room which opens out into the oleander bushes, the trickling fountains, and the sandstone cupids of that garden, the first four acts ripened during four weeks of work. The fifth act followed on the shores of Lake Como.

Amid surroundings which, by their beauty, bring to mind only the laws of the ideal, to hold fast to those burlesque memories from the history of the sandy Mark Brandenburg was, one may feel sure, possible only to a mind which turned in love to its Prussian home, however "treasonable" its other opinions. And yet the romanticism of San Souci, as well as the estheticism of the Berlin Board of Censors, has at all times persecuted the play, now forbidding it, again permitting an occasional performance, and again prohibiting it even after 1848. When the aged and revered Genast from Weimar had played the king a dozen times in the Friedrich-Wilhelmstaedtisches Theater, Hinckeldey's messengers brought the announcement that the presentation of the piece met with disfavor in high places. Frederick William IV. did everything possible to hamper and curtail the author's ambitions. But to give truth its due, I will not neglect to mention that this last prohibition was softened by assigning as its motion the allusion made in the play to that legend of the Berlin Castle, "The White Lady," who is supposed to bring a presage of death to the Prussian royal family.

The Dresden Court Theatre was formerly a model of impartiality. And above all, Emil Devrient's energetic partisanship for the newer dramatic literature was a great assistance to authors in cases of this kind. This play, like many another, owes to his artistic zeal its introduction to those high-class theatres where alone a German dramatist finds his best encouragement and advance. Unfortunately, the war of 1866 again banished Sword and Queue from the Vienna Burgtheater, where it had won a place for itself.

* * * * *

SWORD AND QUEUE

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

FREDERICK WILLIAM I., King Of Prussia, father of Frederick the Great.

THE QUEEN, his wife.

PRINCESS WILHELMINE, their daughter.

THE PRINCE HEREDITARY OF BAIREUTH

GENERAL VON GRUMBKOW } COUNT SCHWERIN } Councilors and Confidants of the King. COUNT WARTENSLEBEN }

COUNT SECKENDORF, Imperial Ambassador

BARONET HOTHAM, Envoy of Great Britain

FRAU VON VIERECK

FRAU VON HOLZENDORF

The Queen's Ladies.

FRAUeLEIN VON SONNSFELD, Lady-in-waiting to the Princess.

EVERSMANN, the King's valet.

KAMKE, in the Queen's service.

ECKHOF, a grenadier.

A Lackey in the King's service. Generals, Officers, Court Ladies. Members of the Smoking-Circle. Grenadiers, Lackeys.

Scene of action: The Royal Castle of Berlin.

First performance, January 1st, 1844, in the Court Theatre in Dresden.



SWORD AND QUEUE



ACT I



SCENE I

A room in the Palace. One window and four doors. A table and two armchairs on the left of the room.

EVERSMANN, taking snuff comfortably. Two Drummers of the Guard.

Later FRAUeLEIN VON SONNSFELD.

The drummers take up a position near the door to the left, leading to the apartments of the PRINCESS, and execute a roll of the drums.

FRAUeLEIN VON SONNSFELD (opens the door and looks in).

That will do.

[The drummers play a second roll.]

SONNSFELD (looks in again).

Yes, yes. We heard it.

[EVERSMANN gives the sign again and the drummers play a third long roll.]

SONNSFELD (comes out angrily, speaks when the noise has subsided).

This is unendurable! It is enough to ruin one's nerves—left wheel—march—out with you to the parade ground where you be long! [The drummers march out still playing. When the noise can no longer be heard she continues.] Eversmann, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You should remind the King of the respect due to ladies.

EVERSMANN.

I obey my royal master's orders, ma'am. And inasmuch as late rising is a favorite vice of the youth of today, it has been ordered that the reveille be played at six o'clock every morning before the doors of the royal Princes and Princesses.

SONNSFELD.

Princess Wilhelmine is no longer a child.

EVERSMANN.

Her morning dreams are all the sweeter for that reason.

SONNSFELD.

Dreams of our final release—of despair—of death—

EVERSMANN.

Or possibly dreams of marriage—and the like—

SONNSFELD.

Have a care, Eversmann! The Crown Prince has won his freedom at last; he is keeping a most exact record of all that happens in Berlin and in the immediate environment of his severe father. It is well known that you influence the King more than do his ministers.

EVERSMANN.

If the poetic fancy of our Crown Prince, who, by the way, is my devoted young friend Fritz, cannot see the truth more clearly than that, then I have little respect for the imaginative power of poets. I—and influence? I twist His Majesty's stately pigtail every morning, clip his fine manly beard, fill his cozy little Dutch pipe for him each evening—and if in the course of these innocent employments His Most Sacred Majesty lets fall a hint, a remark—a little command possibly—why—naturally—

SONNSFELD.

You pick them up and weave them into a "nice innocent little influence" for yourself. Eh? An influence that has already earned you three city houses, five estates, and a carriage-and-four. Have a care that the Crown Prince does not auction off all these objects under the gallows-tree some fine day.

EVERSMANN.

Oh, but your Ladyship must have slept badly. Pray spare me these—predictions and prophesyings, which are made up of whole cloth. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince is far too much, of a philosopher to take such revenge on a man who has no more dealings with His Majesty than to fill his pipe each evening, to braid his pigtail each morning, and to shave him in the good old German fashion every second day. Have I made my meaning clear?

[He goes out.]

SONNSFELD.

Go your way, you old sinner! You may pretend to be ever so honest and simple—we know you and your like. Oh, what a life we lead here in this Court! Cannons thunder in the garden under our windows every morning or else they send up a company of soldiers to accustom us to early rising. After the morning prayer the Princess knits, sews, presses her linen, studies her catechism, and, alas! is forced to listen to a stupid sermon every day. At dinner, we get very little to eat; then the King takes his afternoon nap. He's forever quarreling with the Queen, they have scarcely a good word to say to each other, and yet the entire family are expected to look on at His Majesty's melodious snore-concert, and even to brush away the flies from the face of the sleeping Father of his country. If my Princess did not possess so much natural wit and spirit, the sweet creature would be quite crushed by such a life. If the King only knew that she is learning French secretly, and can almost write a polite little note already—! I hear her coming.

SCENE II

PRINCESS WILHELMINE comes in, carrying a letter.

WILHELMINE (timidly).

Can any one hear us?

SONNSFELD.

Not unless the walls have ears. Is the letter written?

WILHELMINE.

I hardly dare send it, dear Sonnsfeld. I know there are a hundred mistakes in it.

SONNSFELD.

A hundred? Then the letter must be much longer than Your Highness first planned it.

WILHELMINE.

I wrote that I fully appreciate the value of the services offered me, but that my position forces me to refuse any aid to my education which cannot be attained at least by the help of my mother, the Queen.

SONNSFELD.

Is that what you have written? And made a hundred mistakes? In that case we are just where we were before. I appreciate that an eighteen-year-old Princess has to consider history, posterity and so forth—but this conscientiousness will be your ruin. The King will continue to make a slave of you, the Queen to treat you as a child. You are the victim of the conflict between two characters who both perhaps desire what is best for you, but who are so totally different that you will never know whom or which one to please. The Crown Prince has made himself free—and how did he do it? Only by courage and independence. He tore himself loose from the oppressive bondage imposed on him by the caprice of others, and won the means to complete his education. And now he sends to you from Rheinsberg his friend, the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth, to be a support and protection to you and to the Queen—so that here in this Court where they drum, trumpet, and parade all day long, you may not finally, in your despair, seize a musket yourself and join the Potsdam Guards!

WILHELMINE.

You have a sense of humor, my dear Sonnsfeld. It is all well enough for my brother to make plans and send out emissaries, when he is safe in Rheinsberg. He knows that the path to the freedom he has won led past the very foot of the scaffold. I am of the sex whose duty it is to be patient. My father is so good at heart, gentler possibly, in his true self, than is my mother. She indeed, absorbed in her political ambitions, often turns from me with a harshness that accords ill with mother-love. It is my fate to endure this life. Ask yourself, dear friend, how could I trust to a chance adventurous stranger whom my brother sends to me from out of his wild, artistic circle in Rheinsberg—sends to me to be my knight and paladin? Such a thought could have been conceived only in the brains of that group of poets. I'll confess to you in secret that I should greatly enjoy being in the midst of the Rheinsberg merriment, disguised of course. But I'm in Berlin—not in Rheinsberg, and so I have gathered up my meagre scraps of French and thanked the Prince of Baireuth for his offer in a manner which is far more a refusal than an acceptance.

[Hands SONNSFELD the letter.]

SONNSFELD.

And I am to dispatch this letter? [With droll pathos.] No, Your Highness, I cannot have anything to do with this forbidden correspondence.

WILHELMINE.

No joking please, Sonnsfeld. It was the only answer I could possibly send to the Prince's tender epistle.

SONNSFELD.

Impossible!—To become an accomplice to a forbidden correspondence in this Court might cost one's life.

WILHELMINE.

You will make me angry!—here, dispatch this letter, and quickly.

SONNSFELD.

No, Princess. But I know a better means, an absolutely sure means of dispatching the letter to its destination, and that is—[She glances toward a door in the background] deliver it yourself.

[She slips out of a side door.]

SCENE III

The PRINCE HEREDITARY OF BAIREUTH, dressed in the French taste of the period, as different as possible from the king's favorite garb, comes in cautiously.

WILHELMINE (aside).

The Prince of Baireuth!

THE PRINCE (aside).

Her very picture! It is the Princess! [Aloud.] I crave Your Highness' pardon that my impatience to deliver the greeting of Your Royal brother the Crown Prince in person—

WILHELMINE.

The Prince of Baireuth places me in no slight embarrassment by this early visit.

PRINCE.

The visit was not paid to you, Princess, but to this noble and venerable castle, these stairways, these galleries, these winding corridors—it was a visit of recognizance, Your Highness, such as must precede any important undertaking.

WILHELMINE.

Then you are preparing to do battle here?

PRINCE.

My intentions are not altogether peaceful, and yet, as Princess Wilhelmine doubtless knows, I am compelled to confine myself to a policy of defense solely.

WILHELMINE.

And even in this you cannot exercise too much care. [Aside.] The letter is no longer necessary. [Aloud.] How did you leave my brother? In good health? And thoroughly occupied?

PRINCE.

The Crown Prince leads a life of the gayest diversity in his exile. He has made of Rheinsberg a veritable little Court of the Muses, devoted now to serious study, now to poetic recreation. We have enjoyed unforgettably beautiful hours there; one would hardly believe that so much imagination could be developed and encouraged on the borders of Mecklenburg! We paint, we build, we model, we write. The regiment which is under the immediate command of our talented Prince serves merely to carry out, by military evolutions, the strategic descriptions of Polybius. In short, I should deeply regret leaving so delightful a spot had it not been for the flattering and important task intrusted to me. Princess, the Crown Prince desires full and true information, obtained at the source, as to the situation of his sister, his mother, here, that he may, if necessary, advise how this situation be improved, how any difficulties may be met.

WILHELMINE.

If it became known that I am granting an audience, here in this public hall, to a Prince who has not yet been presented either to my father or to my mother—I could prepare myself for several weeks in Fortress Kuestrin.

[She bows and turns as if to go.]

PRINCE.

Princess! Then it is really true—that which is whispered, with horror, at every court in Europe? It is true that the King of Prussia tyrannizes not only his court, his entire environment, but his own family as well?

WILHELMINE.

Prince, you employ too harsh an expression for what I would rather term merely our own peculiar ceremonial. In Versailles they glide as on butterfly wings over the polished floors. Here we tread the earth with ringing spurs. In Versailles the Royal Family consider themselves but as a merry company, recognizing no ties as sacred save those of congeniality, no bond but that of—unfettered inclination. Here the Court is merely one big middle-class family, where a prayer is said before meat, where the parents must always be the first to speak, where strictest obedience must, if necessary, tolerate even absurdities; where one quarrels, out of one's mutual affection, sometimes—where we even torture one another and make life harder for one another—all out of love—

PRINCE.

Princess, I swear to you—this must be changed.

WILHELMINE.

And how, pray?

PRINCE.

The Crown Prince asked me to employ all conceivable means to free you from this barbarism. I am at your service entirely—command me. His first thought was for your mental needs. How is it with your knowledge of French?

WILHELMINE.

The King detests all things foreign, and most of all does he detest France, her literature, her language.

PRINCE.

The Crown Prince is aware of that. He sends you therefore, as a beginning, a member of his Rheinsberg circle, a talkative but very learned little man, a Frenchman, Laharpe by name—

WILHELMINE.

All instructors of the French language have been banished from Berlin by strictest order.

PRINCE.

Laharpe will come to you without his identity becoming known.

WILHELMINE.

That is impossible. No one dare approach me who cannot first satisfy the questioning of the Castle Guard.

PRINCE.

Cannot Laharpe instruct you in the apartments of your, Lady-in-waiting, Frauelein von Sonnsfeld? WILHELMINE. Impossible.

PRINCE.

In the Queen's rooms, then.

WILHELMINE.

Impossible.

THE PRINCE.

By Heaven! Do they never leave you alone for one hour?

WILHELMINE.

Oh yes, two hours every Sunday—in church.

PRINCE.

But this is appalling! Why, in Versailles every Princess has her own establishment when she is but ten years old—and even her very dolls have their ladies-in-waiting!

WILHELMINE.

The only place which I may visit occasionally, and remain in unaccompanied, are those rooms over there, in the lower story of the palace.

PRINCE.

The King's private library, no doubt?

WILHELMINE.

No.

PRINCE.

A gallery of family portraits?

WILHELMINE.

Do you see the smoke issuing from the open window?

PRINCE.

That is—oh, it cannot be—the kitchen?

WILHELMINE.

Not exactly—but hardly much better. It is, I have the honor to inform you, the Royal Prussian Laundry. Yes, Prince, the sister of the Prussian Crown Prince is permitted to remain in that room for an hour or two if she will, to look on at the washing, the starching, the ironing, the sorting-out of body and house linen—

PRINCE.

This—for a Princess?

WILHELMINE.

Do you see the little window with the flower pots and the bird in a tiny cage? The wife of our silver-cleaner lives there, and occasionally, when the poor daughter of a King is supposed to be busied, like any serving-maid, among the steaming pots and boilers, this same poor Princess slips in secretly to the good woman's little room. Ah! there, behind those flower-pots, I can laugh freely and merrily—there I can let the little linnet feed from my hand, and I can say to myself that with all my troubles, with all my sorrows, I am still happier than the poor little singer in his cage. For he will never regain his freedom no matter how sweetly he may sing ... in all the tongues of earth.

PRINCE (aside).

She is charming. [Aloud.] And Laharpe?

WILHELMINE.

If I must dare it—send the learned gentleman to me down there, Prince. In that little room I will obey my brother's command to perfect my French style. Among many other things I should really like to learn to say, in most elegant and modern French, these words: "Yes I will dare to begin a new life. Remain my brother's friend—and my protector!" But for the moment—goodby.

[She hurries out.]

SCENE IV

PRINCE (alone).

Where am I? Was that a scene from the Arabian Nights? Or am I really on the banks of that homely river Spree which flows into the Havel? Of a truth this Prussian Court with its queer pigtails and gaiters is more romantic than I had thought. Laharpe down there behind the flower-pots! Laharpe tete-a-tete with a Princess who visits the kitchen and with a linnet which—happy bird—is privileged to bite her fingers. How beautiful she is—much fairer than the miniature Frederick wears next his heart! And yet I had fallen in love with this miniature. [Looks about him.] There is a spell that seems to hold me in these rooms, through which she glides like the Genius of the bower. [Goes to the window.] Down there in the square, the bayonets of the parading troops flash in the sunlight—and that door over yonder leads to the apartments of a Princess whose possession would mean the highest bliss earth can afford. And there—whither leads that door through which the kind guardian of this paradise disappeared?

[He turns toward the second door at the back, to his right.]

SONNSFELD (comes in quickly, excitedly).

Away Prince—away, the Queen is approaching.

PRINCE.

The Queen? Where shall I go?

SONNSFELD.

Into that room over there—you may find some way out—no one must see you here.

[She pushes him to an opposite side-door.]

PRINCE.

My knowledge of the territory is growing rapidly. [He goes out.]

SCENE V

The QUEEN comes in, followed by two ladies-in-waiting. She motions them to leave her. They go out. The QUEEN sinks into a chair.

QUEEN.

Has my daughter risen? I worked so late into the night that I am still quite fatigued. These wretched politics! Have you seen Kamke?

SONNSFELD.

Your Majesty's lackey? No, Your Majesty.

QUEEN.

He's been gone so long. I sent him to the Prince of Baireuth.

PRINCE (peeping out from the door, aside).

To me?

QUEEN.

If I may judge by the letters the Prince brings me from my son, he himself will one day be one of the best sovereigns of our century.

PRINCE (aside).

The field is all in my favor.

QUEEN.

My son, who judges men so keenly, assures me that I may trust this Prince completely. And I need some one of force and character to aid me; I need such a one now more than ever.

SONNSFELD (alarmed).

Is there—is there anything new in the air, Your Majesty?

QUEEN.

I shall need to display all my strength, all my will-power. I shall have need of it to uphold the dignity of a monarchy whose natural head appears to forget more and more that Prussia has recently joined the ranks of the Great Powers of Europe.

SONNSFELD.

Your Majesty—is laying plots?

QUEEN.

I am consumed with curiosity to make the acquaintance of this Prince whom my son considers worthy of his friendship. [SONNSFELD motions to the Prince.] As soon as he arrives, dear Sonnsfeld—

SONNSFELD (pointing to the PRINCE, who comes in).

Kamke has just shown him in. Here he is, Your Majesty.

QUEEN (rising).

This is a surprise, Prince. I did not hear you enter.

PRINCE.

Your Majesty was so deeply absorbed in thought—

QUEEN (aside).

He has a pleasing exterior and intelligent eyes. [Aloud.] Did my messenger—

PRINCE.

The good fellow met me just as I was about to leave my hotel. He gave me Your Majesty's gracious command.

QUEEN. Prince—[She sits down, motioning him to do the same.]

My heartiest thanks for the letters from my worthy son. One sentence, which I reread many times, permits me to assume that he has informed you of a certain matter, a certain plan of mine—

PRINCE.

Certainly, Your Majesty. [Aside.] I haven't heard a word about it.

QUEEN.

It makes me very happy to know that in this matter, as indeed in most things, my son and I are so completely in accord. Then you, also, think as we do on this subject?

PRINCE.

Undoubtedly—undoubtedly, Your Majesty. [Aside.] If I only knew what subject!

QUEEN.

My son writes me that I may rely entirely on your sympathy in this affair.

PRINCE.

He did not exaggerate, Your Majesty. When I parted from him, his last words, called after my moving carriage, were these: "Dear friend, my gracious mother, the Queen, will inform you as to all further details concerning the affair in question."

QUEEN.

That sounds very like him. I am quite ready to do as he says.

PRINCE (aside).

The plot thickens.

QUEEN.

You know that the Electors of Brandenburg have but recently become Kings of Prussia. Although a Hanoverian Princess myself, I find my happiness in Prussia's greatness, my pride in Prussia's fame. No state has such need to be careful in the choice of its alliances, political or matrimonial, as our own. And hence there is no subject so interesting and so important to our country at the moment as a certain question which is already exciting the Cabinets of Europe, a question—the answer to which you have doubtless already guessed.

PRINCE.

I think—I may say—that I understand Your Majesty entirely. [Aside.] What can she mean?

QUEEN.

No one can call me unduly proud. But if one belongs to a family which has recently had the honor of being chosen to fill the throne of England—if one is the daughter of a King, the wife of a King, the mother of a future King—you will understand that in this matter of my daughter's future—there are weighty considerations which force me to avoid any possible political mesalliance.

PRINCE.

Mesalliance? The Princess? Your daughter [Bewildered.] I must confess—I was but superficially informed of all these matters.

QUEEN.

What I am about to tell you, Prince, under the seal of your utmost discretion, is a secret and the result of the gravest negotiations and plans. You know what kind of a Court this is at which I live. I am denied the influence which should be my right as mother of my country. The King has surrounded himself with persons who have separated him from me. I dare not think how this company of corporals and sergeants will receive my deeply thought-out plans. How will the King be inclined in regard to a matter that is of such decisive importance for the happiness of his children and the fair fame of his house? In this, Prince, you see my need of a man of your intelligence, your insight, that I may know what to hope—or [firmly] if need be—what to dare!

PRINCE.

I shall be most eagerly anxious to justify Your Majesty's confidence. [Aside.] Good Heavens!

QUEEN.

Let me then inform you of a secret but completed negotiation in which all the nearest relatives of our house have already taken part, and into the nature of which I now initiate you, too, as my son's friend. My daughter is to become the wife of my nephew, the Prince of Wales; she will therefore be the future Queen of England.

PRINCE (aside).

Zounds! A nice rival this!

QUEEN.

So you see, Prince, the importance of the issue involved! Will you consent to mediate this question—a question of such importance to all Europe—with my husband?

PRINCE.

I? With the King? Mediate? Oh, of course, Your Majesty, with the greatest pleasure! [Aside.] What a detestable errand!

QUEEN.

Very well, then you can begin at once. The King will be here shortly. Introduce yourself to him. Use this favorable moment to draw from him an expression of his opinion concerning the throne of England, and let me know the result at once.

PRINCE.

I am still quite bewildered by this—this flattering commission. And when may I pay my respects to Your Majesty again?

QUEEN.

At almost any time. But I should prefer the evening hours, when those on whom I can rely gather around me, while the King is with those persons whom I mentioned a short time ago. Farewell now, my dear Prince of—oh, dear me, now my son has forgotten to write me whether it is Ansbach or Baireuth that you inherit. It is so easy to confuse these little principalities. Ansbach—Baireuth—Ansbach—yes, that was it. Very well, my dear Prince of Ansbach, remember, Prussia, Hanover and England!

[She bows to him with proud condescension and goes out.]

SCENE VI

PRINCE (alone).

The future Queen of England! And I—the Hereditary Prince of Ansbach! That was a cruel blow of fate. And I am to mediate these matters of international importance! This angelic being, whom I love more madly with every breath I draw—this exquisite sister of my dear Frederick—is destined to become a victim of political intrigue? Oh no, she cannot possibly love the Prince of Wales; she has never seen him. But will they consult her inclination? Will cold considerations of politics heed the cry of her heart?—The parade is over, the suite is entering the castle; I dare not meet the king now in this excited mood.

[He looks about as if seeking some means of escape. EVERSMANN comes in carrying a large book. He has a pen stuck in behind one ear. He crosses to the door through which the QUEEN has gone out.]

PRINCE (aside).

Who's this?

[EVERSMANN looks the PRINCE over from head to foot, moves forward a few paces, then halts again.]

PRINCE (aside).

Can any one have seen me?

EVERSMANN (goes to the door, halts again, looks at the PRINCE impudently).

PRINCE.

Why are you looking at me, sirrah? I am the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth.

EVERSMANN (is quite indifferent, comes down a few steps, bows very slightly).

His Majesty is coming in from the parade, but does not grant audiences in this room.

PRINCE.

I thank you for the information, my good man.

EVERSMANN.

Don't mention it, pray.

PRINCE.

And who are you?

EVERSMANN. I? [There is along pause.]

I am Eversmann. [He goes out into the QUEEN's room.]

PRINCE.

Eversmann? The Minister of Finance or the Head Steward, I wonder? He betrays parsimony in every shred of his garments. [Drums and the sound of presented arms is heard back of the rear entrance.] The King is coming. The King? Why should I feel so timid, so oppressed, all of a sudden? Does my courage fail me because I am about to confront this curiosity of his century? I'd rather observe him from the side at first.

[He draws back and stands close by the door to the left.]

SCENE VII

A loud knocking, as with a cane, is heard at the centre door.

PRINCE.

Come in.

KING (outside).

Eversmann!

PRINCE.

Now, what's that?

KING (still without, beats the door loudly with his cane).

Eversmann!

PRINCE.

Surely this castle is haunted!

[He slips into the door at the right.]

KING (knocking again, still outside).

Eversmann! Doesn't the fellow hear?

EVERSMANN (coming in hurriedly).

The door is open, Your Majesty. [Goes to centre door, opens it.]

PRINCE (looking in at his door).

Your Majesty? Is that the King?

KING (in corridor but not yet visible).

Eversmann, have you forgotten that this is the day for revising the books?

EVERSMANN.

No, indeed, Your Majesty. I was occupied in balancing the books of Her Majesty the Queen.

QUEEN (comes out from her door, listens timidly).

Was that the King's voice?

KING (outside).

Eversmann, tell the castellan that eleven o'clock is closing hour for my wife's apartment, and that, if I see a light again in her rooms until after midnight, I will come over myself at the stroke of twelve to search into every corner and to discover what political plot is brewing there. You'd better tell my wife yourself, sirrah—so that she may obey orders.

EVERSMANN.

So that she may obey orders.

QUEEN.

Miserable lackey! [Goes out.]

PRINCE (aside).

Will he go now?

KING (outside).

Eversmann!

EVERSMANN.

Your Majesty!

KING.

Now go to my daughter too, the Princess Wilhelmine—

[WILHELMINE opens her door softly.]

EVERSMANN.

To Her Royal Highness—

KING.

And tell her to have a care—this Laharpe—is a rascal.

WILHELMINE (aside).

Laharpe?

PRINCE (aside).

What's that?

KING.

Laharpe is a rascal, I say.

EVERSMANN.

A rascal.

KING.

And tell my daughter that I will teach a lesson to the Crown Prince for sending these French vagabonds here, who pretend to be teachers of the language and are merely ordinary, good-for-nothing wigmakers.

WILHELMINE.

How disgusting!

[She goes out.]

PRINCE (aside).

Wigmakers?

KING (still outside).

And now get back to the books!

EVERSMANN.

At once, Your Majesty.

KING.

Eversmann—one thing more, Eversmann!

EVERSMANN.

Your Majesty?

KING.

If you should see the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth—

PRINCE (aside).

It's my turn now.

KING.

That French windbag who's been hanging about Berlin since yesterday—

PRINCE (aside).

Pleasing description!

EVERSMANN.

I'll tell him Your Majesty will not receive him.

PRINCE (aside).

Rascal!

KING.

No, Eversmann, tell him I have something very important to say to him—something very confidential.

PRINCE (aside).

Confidential? To me?

KING.

Concerning an important and pressing matter.

EVERSMANN.

Oh, yes, I know.

KING.

You know, sirrah? What do you know? You know nothing at all.

EVERSMANN.

I thought—one might guess—

KING.

Guess? What right have you to guess? You're not to guess at all. Understand? Idiot! Shoulder arms, march! [As he goes off a short roll of drums is heard.]

PRINCE (crosses quickly to EVERSMANN).

What do you know? What do you think it is that the King has to say to me?

EVERSMANN.

Oh, Your Highness is still here?

PRINCE.

The King wishes to speak to me. Do you know why? Tell me what you think.

EVERSMANN.

If Your Highness promises not to betray me—I think it concerns a certain affair—between Prussia and Austria.

PRINCE.

Austria?

EVERSMANN.

Arch-Duke Leopold is willing, they say—that is if [with a sly gesture toward the PRINCESS' room] if Princess Wilhelmine—

PRINCE (excited).

The Princess?

EVERSMANN.

Sh! You will probably be chosen to conduct the negotiations between Prussia and—

PRINCE (beside himself).

The Princess is—destined—

EVERSMANN.

To be the future Empress of Austria.

[He goes out into the QUEEN'S room.]

PRINCE (alone).

Empress! Queen! And I—I who love her to desperation, I am to help bring about either of these alliances? That will mean a tragedy or [after a pause he continues more cheerfully]—Courage—courage—it may turn out a comedy after all, as merry a comedy as ever was played at any Royal Court. [He goes out.]



ACT II



GRUMBKOW and SECKENDORF come in with EVERSMANN. The latter carries a wide orange-colored ribbon with many stars and Orders on it, and a gleaming sword.

SCENE I

The KING'S room. A side door on the left; a centre door. A writing table and chairs.

GRUMBKOW.

It was a dispatch, you say, Eversmann?

SECKENDORF.

A dispatch from Hanover.

GRUMBKOW.

And all this elegance? The ribbon? The sword of state? What does it mean?

EVERSMANN.

His Majesty ordered these immediately after the arrival of the dispatch.

SECKENDORF.

A dispatch from Hanover—arrived about an hour ago—grand cordon commanded—sword of state—we must put these facts together, Grumbkow—find their meaning.

EVERSMANN.

There are to be twelve plates more at table today. [Meaningfully.] Thirty-six thalers are set aside for the dinner—everybody to appear in full court dress.

SECKENDORF.

A dispatch from Hanover-grand cordon—sword of state—twelve plates extra—thirty-six thalers—the combination, Grumbkow—we must find the combination!

EVERSMANN.

When he had torn the seal from the dispatch, he wept two big tears and said: "I'll make them all happy if I have to beat them to a jelly to do it." And now he's all eagerness and would like to invite the whole city to dinner.

GRUMBKOW.

On thirty-six thalers?

EVERSMANN.

The orphans in the asylum are to have new clothes.

GRUMBKOW (startled).

The orphans? That looks like a wedding.

SECKENDORF.

Dispatch—Hanover—thirty-six thalers—two tears—beat them all—the meaning of that, Grumbkow?—we must put two and two together and find it.

EVERSMANN (startled).

He's coming! The King!

SCENE II

The KING looks in from the side door.

KING.

Good morning! Good morning! Hope you slept well, gentlemen. Well, you rascal, where's that frippery? What's this—the English orders are missing? Fasten it on well. I don't want the fol-dols knocking about my knees.

EVERSMANN (as if joking).

Is there something so important on hand? Doesn't Your Majesty want the crown also?

KING.

The crown! Idiot! [He comes out.] You can be glad that you don't have to wear it, sirrah! Off with you now. Eversmann, and see that everything is in order. [EVERSMANN goes out.] Good morning, Grumbkow and Seckendorf. No time for you now—my compliments to the State of Prussia and I beg to be left to myself today. Good morning—good morning.

[The two ministers prepare reluctantly to depart.]

GRUMBKOW (in the door).

Your Majesty is in such a merry mood—

SECKENDORF.

Could it be the arrival of the courier—? KING (indifferently). Oh, yes. A courier came—

GRUMBKOW.

From Hanover?

KING.

From Hanover.

SECKENDORF.

With news of importance, Your Majesty?

KING.

News of importance!

GRUMBKOW.

Concerning English affairs, doubtless?

KING.

English affairs!

SECKENDORF.

Doubtless the East Indian commercial treaties.

KING.

No—no.

GRUMBKOW.

The Dutch shipping agreement?

KING (enjoying their curiosity).

Something of that nature. Good morning, gentlemen.

GRUMBKOW (aside).

He is in a desperate mood again.

SECKENDORF (aside, going out).

Thirty-six thalers—twelve places—the orphans—we must find the combination! [They go out.]

SCENE III

KING.

They've gone. At last I have a moment to myself. [EVERSMANN comes in.] I am supremely happy.

EVERSMANN.

My respectful congratulations.

KING.

Thankee-now just imagine—oh, yes—no. [Aside.] No one must know of it.

EVERSMANN.

Did Your Majesty intend to—

KING.

Change my clothes? Yes—take this coat off; we'll spare no expense. They shall see that I possess wealth; they shall see that though I may be parsimonious ordinarily, still I can spend as well as any of them when an occasion offers. An occasion like this—[with an out-burst.] Eversmann, just imagine! [Remembering.] Oh, yes.

EVERSMANN (takes off the KING'S coat).

Will Your Majesty put on the embroidered uniform?

KING.

The embroidered uniform, Eversmann. I am expecting guests to whom all honor must be shown. Great honor—for when it concerns the arrival of persons who—[He sits down.] Take off my boots. [EVERSMANN pulls off the boots with difficulty.] Has the Prince of Baireuth been here yet?

EVERSMANN.

Is Your Majesty going to all this trouble on his account?

KING.

On his account? Possibly. [Aside.] I'll lead them all a dance. [Aloud.] Zounds! Villain! Rascal! My corns! I believe the rogue is hurting me on purpose—because I won't tell him anything.

EVERSMANN.

But, Your Majesty, I haven't asked any questions yet.

KING.

I'll have you asking questions! Now what are you laughing at, sirrah? Heh? Fetch me my dressing gown until you have found the uniform. [EVERSMANN turns to go.] Hey, there! Why did you laugh just now?

EVERSMANN.

Because I know—that before I have brought Your Majesty your hat Your Majesty will have told me all about it.

KING (threatening him with his cane).

You rascal—how dare you?

EVERSMANN (retiring toward the door).

Your Majesty can't keep a secret. There is only one thing Your Majesty can hold fast to, and that is—your money! Ha! ha! I'll fetch the dressing-gown. [He goes out.]

SCENE IV

KING (sitting in his shirt-sleeves).

He's right. It burns my heart out. But they shan't know. Not any of them—they shan't. They've spoiled my pet plans before now. I'll play a different game, this time, and I'll send all the camels through the needle's eye at once. They think I'm on the side of Austria. But no—ha! ha! England's own offer, brought by the Hanoverian courier, was a great surprise to me—he! he! England is my wife's idea—therefore I am for England, too—and soon we'll have the wedding and the christening, ha! ha!

[A lackey comes in, announces.]

LACKEY.

His Highness the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth.

KING.

Pleased to receive him.

[The lackey goes out and the PRINCE comes in.]

PRINCE (aside).

Are these old crosspatch's apartments? [To the KING.] That's the King's study in there, isn't it?

KING.

Yes—at your service.

PRINCE.

Go in and announce me. I'm the Prince of Baireuth.

KING (surprised, aside).

What does he take me for?

PRINCE.

What fashion is this? Are you in the King's service? Is this the style in which to receive guests to whom His Majesty has promised an audience?

KING.

Then Your Highness—wishes to speak to—to the King of Prussia?

PRINCE.

You heard me say so, did you not? Announce me.

KING.

At once, Your Highness. [Turns to go.]

PRINCE.

Is this the way to go into your master's presence? In your shirt-sleeves?

KING.

I'm—I'm on a very confidential footing with the King. [He goes out.]

PRINCE (alone).

This is a strange Royal Household indeed! The servants stand about the anterooms in their shirt-sleeves—doubtless from motives of economy to save their liveries. Well, the great hour has arrived—the die will fall. Wilhelmine—she—she alone I love—and she is to consent to unite herself to the painted picture of a Prince of Wales—the colored silhouette of an Austrian Arch-Duke whom she has never seen! Ah, no, my fate rests on the Genius of Love—on chance, which may be even kinder to me than I expect. Her parents are of divided minds—thereby do I gain time to win Wilhelmine's heart—for myself. The King is coming. Now I can listen to his favorable opinions regarding—Austria.

SCENE V

The KING comes in, in dress uniform, with the grand cordon.

PRINCE (looking at him).

Is that not—

KING.

You are surprised? It was a slight mistake in identity.

PRINCE (embarrassed).

Your Majesty—I am a stranger—

KING.

It's of no consequence. You were deucedly insolent—but my people are thick-skinned. Well—I want to speak to you, my dear Prince of Baireuth. Are you just come from Baireuth?

PRINCE.

Yes, Your Majesty—that is, I left Baireuth three years ago.

KING.

And where were you all this time?

PRINCE.

In—in England.

KING.

Ah—you spent much time in England?

PRINCE (aside).

I suppose he wants me to help him with Austria, and to disparage England. [Aloud.] In England? Yes, quite time enough to learn all about that unmannerly and extremely ridiculous country and its ways.

KING:

What's that? England ridiculous? Here, here, young friend—we have some distance to go yet before we reach the point where England stands today. H'm—have you been in Italy? Or in Austria—or thereabouts?

PRINCE (aside).

Does he favor England? I thought it was Austria—yes, he favors Austria. [Aloud.] Austria? Surely; a wonderful country—such development of industry—and commerce—such life and activity in all directions!

KING.

Activity? H'm! The activity in Austria isn't dangerous yet!

PRINCE (aside).

Then he does not favor Austria. I fancy I'm not ingratiating myself at all.

KING (aside).

Has Seckendorf, or any of the others, been talking to him? Is he trying to please me? [Aloud.] A nice little country, that Baireuth of yours. Soil somewhat stony, though!—doesn't yield your father much revenue, I dare say!

PRINCE.

We're learning to improve the soil. [Aside.] These geographical prejudices!

KING.

Trying to improve it by the pleasure palaces your father is building? What's got into the man? Puts up one gimcrack after another, as if he were Louis Quatorze—and runs his country into debt meanwhile. About how much debt does your country carry?

PRINCE (aside).

I don't know that myself. [Aloud, saucily.] Ten millions.

KING.

Ten millions?

PRINCE.

More or less.

KING.

Good heavens! Who is to pay that debt eventually? And with such a state of things in the exchequer you're traveling about Europe, taking money out of the country?

PRINCE.

I'm completing my education, sire.

KING.

In Versailles? In Rheinsburg? Well, never mind, we've had enough of that. [He whistles the first bars of the Dessauer March.] Tell me, you've taken part in those heathenish performances—at my son's Court, I mean?

PRINCE.

The part of a confidant, Your Majesty.

KING.

Good! It was about these heathenish performances that I wanted to speak to you. Prince, they tell me you are a man of taste, a man who is well acquainted with those godless Greek and Roman doings. As it is in my mind to celebrate my daughter's wedding with all pomp worthy of my crown—I want to ask you—to consult with my son—as to how most gracefully and amusingly to entertain the Courts of Poland, Saxony, Brunswick and Mecklenburg, who will all be here for an entire week—in a word, how we can win much honor and glory by this wedding.

PRINCE.

Wedding? The Princess—your daughter's wedding?

KING.

Yes, Prince. My artillery will furnish the salutes, and I will see to the reviews and parades my self. But it is in the evening that our guests grow weary in Berlin—they go to sleep in their chairs. Beer drinking and pipe smoking is not yet to every one's taste. We'll have to swim with the stream, therefore, and provide suitable amusements—illumination, operas, allegorical presentations, and such fol-da-rol—all about Prussia and England.

PRINCE.

England?

KING (rises).

Zounds! that ran over my tongue like a hare hurrying across the highway. H'm—I mean a sort of spectacle—oh, say unicorn—eagle—eagle—unicorn—leopard—intermingled—Prussia and England—and it must be in rhyme—in verse, as it were.

PRINCE.

England? This news comes with such a surprise! The whole country, Europe—the world—will wonder how England came to deserve such honor.

KING.

Oh, ho! don't flatter the old—lackey! It's an old affair, this one with England; my wife has been working at it for years.

PRINCE.

The Queen? Why, I fancied—that Her Majesty the Queen was much more in favor of Austria—

KING. Austria? [Aside.]

I might have known she would want to put her own will through. [Aloud with decision.] No. I received today a dispatch from our Ambassador, who assures me that England is thinking seriously of this plan, of this marriage arranged in all secrecy. The Prince of Wales has taken ship from England; it is supposed that he is already landed on the Hanoverian coast. Meanwhile, a plenipotentiary has left London, in strictest incognito, on his way to treat with me concerning all the details of the marriage. The envoy is likely to arrive at any moment. You would place me under obligations to you, therefore—

PRINCE (in despair).

Shall it be a pastoral masque?

KING.

Yes. And the Crown Prince can play the flute for it, since he has learned that art behind my back.

PRINCE (turns to go, but comes back).

And the ladies and gentlemen of the Court are to act in it?

KING.

Surely. Give every one of them something to say, only not me. But Grumbkow must act in it. Yes, Grumbkow must be in it—and the ladies Viereck and Sonnsfeld—and Seckendorf—and—

PRINCE (as above).

Must it be in English or in French?

KING.

Neither. In German, good, pure, fiery German—High German, you understand, not the Berlin flavor. [Confidentially.] And if you could bring in a little Dutch somewhere—certain considerations of commerce would render that very pleasing to me; it will be spoken of in the papers and the Ambassador of Holland will be there—you see, it's about the importation of tobacco. [Makes gestures as of smoking and whispers into the PRINCE'S ear.] But I suppose a fine young gentleman like yourself doesn't smoke.

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