From the German of Kotzebue
|Scene I.||Scene II.|
SCENE I. A room in the Cottage.
AGATHA, COTTAGER, his WIFE, and FREDERICK discovered—AGATHA reclined upon a wooden bench, FREDERICK leaning over her.
Frederick. Good people have you nothing to give her? Nothing that's nourishing.
Wife. Run, husband, run, and fetch a bottle of wine from the landlord of the inn.
Frederick. No, no—his wine is as bad as his heart: she has drank some of it, which I am afraid has turned to poison.
Cottager. Suppose, wife, you look for a new-laid egg?
Wife. Or a drop of brandy, husband—that mostly cures me.
Frederick. Do you hear, mother—will you, mother? [Agatha makes a sign with her hand as if she could not take any thing.] She will not. Is there no doctor in this neighbourhood?
Wife. At the end of the village there lives a horse-doctor. I have never heard of any other.
Frederick. What shall I do? She is dying. My mother is dying.—Pray for her, good people!
Agatha. Make yourself easy, dear Frederick, I am well, only weak—Some wholesome nourishment—
Frederick. Yes, mother, directly—directly. [Aside] Oh where shall I—no money—not a farthing left.
Wife. Oh, dear me! Had you not paid the rent yesterday, husband—
Cottager. I then, should know what to do. But as I hope for mercy, I have not a penny in my house.
Frederick. Then I must—[Apart, coming forward]—Yes, I will go, and beg.—But should I be refused—I will then—I leave my mother in your care, good people—Do all you can for her, I beseech you! I shall soon be with you again. [Goes off in haste and confusion.]
Cottager. If he should go to our parson, I am sure he would give him something.
[Agatha having revived by degrees during the scene, rises.]
Agatha. Is that good old man still living, who was minister here some time ago?
Wife. No—It pleased Providence to take that worthy man to heaven two years ago.—We have lost in him both a friend and a father. We shall never get such another.
Cottager. Wife, wife, our present rector is likewise a very good man.
Wife. Yes! But he is so very young.
Cottager. Our late parson was once young too.
Wife [to Agatha.] This young man being tutor in our Baron's family, he was very much beloved by them all; and so the Baron gave him this living in consequence.
Cottager. And well he deserved it, for his pious instructions to our young lady: who is, in consequence, good, and friendly to every body.
Agatha. What young lady do you mean?
Cottager. Our Baron's daughter.
Agatha. Is she here?
Wife. Dear me! Don't you know that? I thought every body had known that. It is almost five weeks since the Baron and all his family arrived at the castle.
Agatha. Baron Wildenhaim?
Wife. Yes, Baron Wildenhaim.
Agatha. And his lady?
Cottager. His lady died in France many miles from hence, and her death, I suppose, was the cause of his coming to this estate—For the Baron has not been here till within these five weeks ever since he was married. We regretted his absence much, and his arrival has caused great joy.
Wife [addressing her discourse to Agatha.] By all accounts the Baroness was very haughty; and very whimsical.
Cottager. Wife, wife, never speak ill of the dead. Say what you please against the living, but not a word against the dead.
Wife. And yet, husband, I believe the dead care the least what is said against them—And so, if you please, I'll tell my story. The late Baroness was, they say, haughty and proud; and they do say, the Baron was not so happy as he might have been; but he, bless him, our good Baron is still the same as when a boy. Soon after Madam had closed her eyes, he left France, and came to Waldenhaim, his native country.
Cottager. Many times has he joined in our village dances. Afterwards, when he became an officer, he was rather wild, as most young men are.
Wife. Yes, I remember when he fell in love with poor Agatha, Friburg's daughter: what a piece of work that was—It did not do him much credit. That was a wicked thing.
Cottager. Have done—no more of this—It is not well to stir up old grievances.
Wife. Why, you said I might speak ill of the living. 'Tis very hard indeed, if one must not speak ill of one's neighbours, dead, nor alive.
Cottager. Who knows whether he was the father of Agatha's child? She never said he was.
Wife. Nobody but him—that I am sure—I would lay a wager—no, no husband—you must not take his part—it was very wicked! Who knows what is now become of that poor creature? She has not been heard of this many a year. May be she is starving for hunger. Her father might have lived longer too, if that misfortune had not happened.
Cottager. See here! Help! She is fainting—take hold!
Wife. Oh, poor woman!
Cottager. Let us take her into the next room.
Wife. Oh poor woman!—I am afraid she will not live. Come, chear up, chear up.—You are with those who feel for you. [They lead her off.]
SCENE II. An apartment in the Castle.
A table spread for breakfast—Several servants in livery disposing the equipage—BARON WILDENHAIM enters, attended by a GENTLEMAN in waiting.
Baron. Has not Count Cassel left his chamber yet?
Gentleman. No, my lord, he has but now rung for his valet.
Baron. The whole castle smells of his perfumery. Go, call my daughter hither. [Exit Gentleman.] And am I after all to have an ape for a son-in-law? No, I shall not be in a hurry—I love my daughter too well. We must be better acquainted before I give her to him. I shall not sacrifice my Amelia to the will of others, as I myself was sacrificed. The poor girl might, in thoughtlessness, say yes, and afterwards be miserable. What a pity she is not a boy! The name of Wildenhaim will die with me. My fine estates, my good peasants, all will fall into the hands of strangers. Oh! why was not my Amelia a boy?
Enter AMELIA—[She kisses the Baron's hand.]
Amelia. Good morning, dear my lord.
Baron. Good morning, Amelia. Have you slept well?
Amelia. Oh! yes, papa. I always sleep well.
Baron. Not a little restless last night?
Baron. Amelia, you know you have a father who loves you, and I believe you know you have a suitor who is come to ask permission to love you. Tell me candidly how you like Count Cassel?
Amelia. Very well.
Baron. Do not you blush when I talk of him?
Baron. No—I am sorry for that. aside] Have you dreamt of him?
Baron. Have you not dreamt at all to-night?
Amelia. Oh yes—I have dreamt of our chaplain, Mr. Anhalt.
Baron. Ah ha! As if he stood before you and the Count to ask for the ring.
Amelia. No: not that—I dreamt we were all still in France, and he, my tutor, just going to take his leave of us for ever—I 'woke with the fright, and found my eyes full of tears.
Baron. Psha! I want to know if you can love the Count. You saw him at the last ball we were at in France: when he capered round you; when he danced minuets; when he——. But I cannot say what his conversation was.
Amelia. Nor I either—I do not remember a syllable of it.
Baron. No? Then I do not think you like him.
Amelia. I believe not.
Baron. But I think it proper to acquaint you he is rich, and of great consequence: rich and of consequence; do you hear?
Amelia. Yes, dear papa. But my tutor has always told me that birth and fortune are inconsiderable things, and cannot give happiness.
Baron. There he is right—But of it happens that birth and fortune are joined with sense and virtue——
Amelia. But is it so with Count Cassel?
Baron. Hem! Hem! Aside.] I will ask you a few questions on this subject; but be sure to answer me honestly—Speak truth.
Amelia. I never told an untruth in my life.
Baron. Nor ever conceal the truth from me, I command you.
Amelia. [Earnestly.] Indeed, my lord, I never will.
Baron. I take you at your word—And now reply to me truly—Do you like to hear the Count spoken of?
Amelia. Good, or bad?
Baron. Good. Good.
Amelia. Oh yes; I like to here good of every body.
Baron. But do not you feel a little fluttered when he is talked of?
Amelia. No. [shaking her head.]
Baron. Are not you a little embarrassed?
Baron. Don't you wish sometimes to speak to him, and have not the courage to begin?
Baron. Do not you wish to take his part when his companions laugh at him?
Amelia. No—I love to laugh at him myself.
Baron. Provoking! Aside.] Are not you afraid of him when he comes near you?
Amelia. No, not at all.—Oh yes—once. [recollecting herself.]
Baron. Ah! Now it comes!
Amelia. Once at a ball he trod on my foot; and I was so afraid he should tread on me again.
Baron. You put me out of patience. Hear, Amelia! [stops short, and speaks softer. To see you happy is my wish. But matrimony, without concord, is like a duetto badly performed; for that reason, nature, the great composer of all harmony, has ordained, that, when bodies are allied, hearts should be in perfect unison. However, I will send Mr. Anhalt to you——
Amelia [much pleased]. Do, papa.
Baron. ——He shall explain to you my sentiments. [Rings.] A clergyman can do this better than——[Enter servant.] Go directly to Mr. Anhalt, tell him that I shall be glad to see him for a quarter of an hour if he is not engaged. [Exit servant.
Amelia. [calls after him]. Wish him a good morning from me.
Baron. [looking at his watch]. The Count is a tedious time dressing.—Have you breakfasted, Amelia?
Amelia. No, papa. [they sit down to breakfast.]
Baron. How is the weather? Have you walked this morning?
Amelia. Oh, yes—I was in the garden at five o'clock; it is very fine.
Baron. Then I'll go out shooting. I do not know in what other way to amuse my guest.
Enter Count CASSEL.
Count. Ah, my dear Colonel! Miss Wildenhaim, I kiss your hand.
Baron. Good morning! Good morning! though it is late in the day, Count. In the country we should rise earlier.
[Amelia offers the Count a Cup of tea.]
Count. Is it Hebe herself, or Venus, or——
Amelia. Ha, ha, ha! Who can help laughing at his nonsense?
Baron. [rather angry]. Neither Venus, not Hebe; but Amelia Wildenhaim, if you please.
Count. [Sitting down to breakfast]. You are beautiful, Miss Wildenhaim.—Upon my honour, I think so. I have travelled, and seen much of the world, and yet I can positively admire you.
Amelia. I am sorry I have not seen the world.
Amelia. Because I might then, perhaps, admire you.
Count. True;—for I am an epitome of the world. In my travels I learnt delicacy in Italy—hauteur, in Spain—in France, enterprize—in Russia, prudence—in England, sincerity—in Scotland, frugality—and in the wilds of America, I learnt love.
Amelia. Is there any country where love is taught?
Count. In all barbarous countries. But the whole system is exploded in places that are civilized.
Amelia. And what is substituted in its stead?
Amelia. What a poor, uncomfortable substitute!
Count. There are other things—Song, dance, the opera, and war.
[Since the entrance of the Count the Baron has removed to a table at a little distance.
Baron. What are you talking of there?
Count. Of war, Colonel.
Baron. [rising]. Ay, we like to talk on what we don't understand.
Count. [rising]. Therefore, to a lady, I always speak of politics; and to her father, on love.
Baron. I believe, Count, notwithstanding your sneer, I am still as much a proficient in that art as yourself.
Count. I do not doubt it, my dear Colonel, for you are a soldier: and since the days of Alexander, whoever conquers men is certain to overcome women.
Baron. An achievement to animate a poltroon.
Count. And, I verily believe, gains more recruits than the king's pay.
Baron. Now we are on the subject of arms, should you like to go out a shooting with me for an hour before dinner?
Count. Bravo, Colonel! A charming thought! This will give me an opportunity to use my elegant gun: the but is inlaid with mother-of-pearl. You cannot find better work, or better taste.—Even my coat of arms is engraved.
Baron. But can you shoot?
Count. That I have never tried—except, with my eyes, at a fine woman.
Baron. I am not particular what game I pursue.—I have an old gun; it does not look fine; But I can always bring down my bird.
Servant. Mr. Anhalt begs leave——
Baron. Tell him to come in.—I shall be ready in a moment. [Exit Servant.
Count. Who is Mr. Anhalt?
Amelia. Oh, a very good man. [With warmth.]
Count. "A good man." In Italy, that means a religious man; in France, it means a cheerful man; in Spain, it means a wise man; and in England, it means a rich man.—Which good of all these is Mr. Anhalt?
Amelia. A good man in every country, except England.
Count. And give me the English good man, before that of any other nation.
Baron. And of what nation would you prefer your good woman to be, Count?
Count. Of Germany. [bowing to Amelia.]
Amelia. In compliment to me?
Count. In justice to my own judgment.
Baron. Certainly. For have we not an instance of one German woman, who possesses every virtue that ornaments the whole sex; whether as a woman of illustrious rank, or in the more exalted character of a wife, and mother?
Enter Mr. ANHALT.
Anhalt. I come by your command, Baron——
Baron. Quick, Count.—Get your elegant gun.—I pass your apartments, and will soon call for you.
Count. I fly.—Beautiful Amelia, it is a sacrifice I make to your father, that I leave for a few hours his amiable daughter. [Exit.
Baron. My dear Amelia, I think it scarcely necessary to speak to Mr. Anhalt, or that he should speak to you, on the subject of the Count; but as he is here, leave us alone.
Amelia. [as she retires]. Good morning, Mr. Anhalt.—I hope you are very well. [Exit.
Baron. I'll tell you in a few words why I sent for you. Count Cassel is here, and wishes to marry my daughter.
Anhalt. [much concerned]. Really!
Baron. He is—he—in a word I don't like him.
Anhalt. [with emotion]. And Miss Wildenhaim ——
Baron. I shall not command, neither persuade her to the marriage—I know too well the fatal influence of parents on such a subject. Objections to be sure, if they could be removed—But when you find a man's head without brains, and his bosom without a heart, these are important articles to supply. Young as you are, Anhalt, I know no one so able to restore, or to bestow those blessings on his fellow-creatures, as you. [Anhalt bows.] The Count wants a little of my daughter's simplicity and sensibility.—Take him under your care while he is here, and make him something like yourself.—You have succeeded to my wish in the education of my daughter.—Form the Count after your own manner.—I shall then have what I have sighed for all my life—a son.
Anhalt. With your permission, Baron, I will ask one question. What remains to interest you in favour of a man, whose head and heart are good for nothing?
Baron. Birth and fortune. Yet, if I thought my daughter absolutely disliked him, or that she loved another, I would not thwart a first affection;—no, for the world, I would not. [sighing.] But that her affections are already bestowed, is not probable.
Anhalt. Are you of opinion that she will never fall in love?
Baron. Oh! no. I am of opinion that no woman ever arrived at the age of twenty without that misfortune.—But this is another subject.—Go to Amelia—explain to her the duties of a wife and of a mother.—If she comprehends them, as she ought, then ask her if she thinks she could fulfil those duties, as the wife of Count Cassel.
Anhalt. I will.—But—I—Miss Wildenhaim—[confused. I—I shall—I—I shall obey your commands.
Baron. Do so. [gives a deep sigh. Ah! so far this weight is removed; but there lies still a heavier next my heart.—You understand me.—How is it, Mr. Anhalt? Have you not yet been able to make any discoveries on that unfortunate subject?
Anhalt. I have taken infinite pains; but in vain. No such person is to be found.
Baron. Believe me, this burthen presses on my thoughts so much, that many nights I go without sleep. A man is sometimes tempted to commit such depravity when young.—Oh, Anhalt! had I, in my youth, had you for a tutor;—but I had no instructor but my passions; no governor but my own will. [Exit.
Anhalt. This commission of the Baron's in respect to his daughter, I am—[looks about]—If I shou'd meet her now, I cannot—I must recover myself first, and then prepare.—A walk in the fields, and a fervent prayer—After these, I trust, I shall return, as a man whose views are solely placed on a future world; all hopes in this, with fortitude resigned. [Exit.
End Act II
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