From the German of Kotzebue
|Scene I.||Scene II.||Epilogue.|
SCENE I. Inside of the Cottage (as in Act II).
AGATHA, COTTAGER, and his WIFE discovered.
Agatha. Pray look and see if he is coming.
Cottager. It is of no use. I have been in the road; have looked up and down; but neither see nor hear any thing of him.
Wife. Have a little patience.
Agatha. I wish you would step out once more—I think he cannot be far off.
Cottager. I will; I will go. [Exit.
Wife. If your son knew what heaven had sent you, he would be here very soon.
Agatha. I feel so anxious——
Wife. But why? I should think a purse of gold, such as you have received, would make any body easy.
Agatha. Where can he be so long? He has been gone four hours. Some ill must have befallen him.
Wife. It is still broad day-light—don't think of any danger.—This evening we must all be merry. I'll prepare the supper. What a good gentleman our Baron must be! I am sorry I ever spoke a word against him.
Agatha. How did he know I was here?
Wife. Heaven only can tell. The servant that brought the money was very secret.
Agatha [to herself]. I am astonished! I wonder! Oh! surely he has been informed—Why else should he have sent so much money?
Agatha. Well!—not yet!
Cottager. I might look till I am blind for him—but I saw our new Rector coming along the road; he calls in sometimes. May be, he will this evening.
Wife. He is a very good gentleman; pays great attention to his parishioners; and where he can assist the poor, he is always ready.
Enter Mr. ANHALT.
Anhalt. Good evening, friends.
Both. Thank you, reverend Sir.
[They both run to fetch him a chair].
Anhalt. I thank you, good people—I see you have a stranger here.
Cottager. Yes, your Reverence; it is a poor sick woman, whom I took in doors.
Anhalt. You will be rewarded for it. [to Agatha.] May I beg leave to ask your name?
Agatha. Ah! If we were alone——
Anhalt. Good neighbours, will you leave us alone for a few minutes? I have something to say to this poor woman.
Cottager. Wife, do you hear? Come along with me. [Exeunt Cottager and his Wife.]
Agatha. Before I tell you who I am, what I am, and what I was——I must beg to ask—Are you of this country?
Anhalt. No—I was born in Alsace.
Agatha. Did you know the late rector personally, whom you have succeeded?
Agatha. Then you are not acquainted with my narrative?
Anhalt. Should I find you to be the person whom I have long been in search of, your history is not altogether unknown to me.
Agatha. "That you have been in search of!" Who gave you such a commission?
Anhalt. A man, who, if it so prove, is much concerned for your misfortunes.
Agatha. How? Oh, Sir! tell me quickly—Whom do you think to find in me?
Anhalt. Agatha Friburg.
Agatha. Yes, I am that unfortunate woman; and the man who pretends to take concern in my misfortunes is——Baron Wildenhaim——he who betrayed me, abandoned me and my child, and killed my parents.—He would now repair our sufferings with this purse of gold. [Takes out the purse.] Whatever may be your errand, Sir, whether to humble, or to protect me, it is alike indifferent. I therefore request you to take this money to him who sent it. Tell him, my honour has never been saleable. Tell him, destitute as I am, even indigence will not tempt me to accept charity from my seducer. He despised my heart—I despise his gold.—He has trampled on me—I trample on his representative. [Throws the purse on the ground.]
Anhalt. Be patient—I give you my word, that when the Baron sent this present to an unfortunate woman, for whom her son had supplicated, he did not know that woman was Agatha.
Agatha. My son? what of my son?
Anhalt. Do not be alarmed—The Baron met with an affectionate son, who begged for his sick mother, and it affected him.
Agatha. Begged of the Baron! of his father!
Anhalt. Yes; but they did not know each other; and the mother received the present on the son's account.
Agatha. Did not know each other? Where is my son?
Anhalt. At the Castle.
Agatha. And still unknown?
Anhalt. Now he is known—an explanation has taken place;—and I am sent here by the Baron, not to a stranger, but to Agatha Friburg—not with gold! his commission was—"do what your heart directs you."
Agatha. How is my Frederick? How did the Baron receive him?
Anhalt. I left him just in the moment the discovery was made. By this time your son is, perhaps, in the arms of his father.
Agatha. Oh! is it possible that a man, who has been twenty years deaf to the voice of nature, should change so suddenly?
Anhalt. I do not mean to justify the Baron, but—he has loved you—and fear of his noble kindred alone caused his breach of faith to you.
Agatha. But to desert me wholly and wed another—
Anhalt. War called him away—Wounded in the field, he was taken to the adjacent seat of a nobleman, whose only daughter, by anxious attention to his recovery, won his gratitude; and, influenced by the will of his worldly friends, he married. But no sooner was I received into the family, and admitted to his confidence, than he related to me your story; and at times would exclaim in anguish—"The proud imperious Baroness avenges the wrongs of my deserted Agatha." Again, when he presented me this living, and I left France to take possession of it, his last words before we parted, were—"The moment you arrive at Wildenhaim, make all enquiries to find out my poor Agatha." Every letter from him contained "Still, still, no tidings of my Agatha." And fate ordained it should be so, till this fortunate day.
Agatha. What you have said has made my heart overflow—where will this end?
Anhalt. I know not yet the Baron's intentions: but your sufferings demand immediate remedy: and one way only is left—Come with me to the castle. Do not start—you shall be concealed in my apartments till you are called for.
Agatha. I go to the Baron's?—No.
Anhalt. Go for the sake of your son—reflect, that his fortunes may depend upon your presence.
Agatha. And he is the only branch on which my hope still blossoms: the rest are withered.—I will forget my wrongs as a woman, if the Baron will atone to the mother—he shall have the woman's pardon, if he will merit the mother's thanks—[after a struggle]—I will go to the castle—for the sake of my Frederick, go even to his father. But where are my good host and hostess, that I may take leave, and thank them for their kindness?
Anhalt [taking up the purse which Agatha had thrown down]. Here, good friend! Good woman!
Enter the COTTAGER and his WIFE.
Wife. Yes, yes, here I am.
Anhalt. Good people, I will take your guest with me. You have acted an honest part, and therefore receive this reward for your trouble. [He offers the purse to the Cottager, who puts it by, and turns away].
Anhalt [to the Wife]. Do you take it.
Wife. I always obey my pastor. [taking it].
Agatha. Good bye. [shaking hands with the Cottagers.] For your hospitality to me, may ye enjoy continued happiness.
Cottager. Fare you well—fare you well.
Wife. If you find friends and get health, we won't trouble you to call on us again: but if you should fall sick or be in poverty, we shall take it very unkind if we don't see you.
[Exeunt Agatha and Anhalt on one side, Cottager and his Wife on the other].
SCENE II. A Room in the Castle.
BARON sitting upon a sopha.—FREDERICK standing near him, with one hand pressed between his—the Baron rises.
Baron. Been in battle too!—I am glad to hear it. You have known hard services, but now they are over, and joy and happiness will succeed.—The reproach of your birth shall be removed, for I will acknowledge you my son, and heir to my estate.
Frederick. And my mother——
Baron. She shall live in peace and affluence. Do you think I would leave your mother unprovided, unprotected? No! About a mile from this castle I have an estate called Weldendorf—there she shall live, and call her own whatever it produces. There she shall reign, and be sole mistress of the little paradise. There her past sufferings shall be changed to peace and tranquility. On a summer's morning, we, my son, will ride to visit her; pass a day, a week with her; and in this social intercourse time will glide pleasantly.
Frederick. And, pray, my Lord—under what name is my mother to live then?
Baron [confused]. How?
Frederick. In what capacity?—As your domestic—or as——
Baron. That we will settle afterwards.
Frederick. Will you allow me, Sir, to leave the room a little while, that you may have leisure to consider now?
Baron. I do not know how to explain myself in respect to your mother more than I have done already.
Frederick. My fate, whatever it may be, shall never part me from her. This is my firm resolution, upon which I call Heaven to witness! My Lord, it must be Frederick of Wildenhaim, and Agatha of Wildenhaim—or Agatha Friburg, and Frederick Friburg. [Exit.
Baron. Young man! Frederick!—[calling after him.] Hasty indeed! would make conditions with his father. No, no, that must not be. I just now thought how well I had arranged my plans—had relieved my heart of every burden, when, a second time, he throws a mountain upon it. Stop, friend conscience, why do you take his part?—For twenty years thus you have used me, and been my torture.
Enter Mr. ANHALT.Ah! Anhalt, I am glad you are come. My conscience and myself are at variance.
Anhalt. Your conscience is in the right.
Baron. You don't know yet what the quarrel is.
Anhalt. Conscience is always right—because it never speaks unless it is so.
Baron. Ay, a man of your order can more easily attend to its whispers, than an old warrior. The sound of cannon has made him hard of hearing.—I have found my son again, Mr. Anhalt, a fine, brave young man—I mean to make him my heir—Am I in the right?
Baron. And his mother shall live in happiness—My estate, Weldendorf, shall be hers—I'll give it to her, and she shall make it her residence. Don't I do right?
Baron [surprized]. No? And what else should I do?
Anhalt [forcibly]. Marry her.
Baron [starting]. I marry her!
Anhalt. Baron Wildenhaim is a man who will not act inconsistently.—As this is my opinion, I expect your reasons, if you do not.
Baron. Would you have me marry a beggar?
Anhalt [after a pause]. Is that your only objection?
Baron [confused]. I have more—many more.
Anhalt. May I beg to know them likewise?
Baron. My birth!
Anhalt. Go on.
Baron. My relations would despise me.
Anhalt. Go on.
Baron [in anger]. 'Sdeath! are not these reasons enough?—I know no other.
Anhalt. Now, then, it is my turn to state mine for the advice I have given you. But first, I must presume to ask a few questions.—Did Agatha, through artful insinuation, gain your affection? or did she give you cause to suppose her inconstant?
Baron. Neither—but for me, she was always virtuous and good.
Anhalt. Did it cost you trouble and earnest entreaty to make her otherwise?
Baron [angrily]. Yes.
Anhalt. You pledged your honour?
Baron [confused]. Yes.
Anhalt. Called God to witness?
Baron [more confused]. Yes.
Anhalt. The witness you called at that time was the Being who sees you now. What you gave in pledge was your honour, which you must redeem. Therefore thank Heaven that it is in your power to redeem it. By marrying Agatha the ransom's made: and she brings a dower greater than any princess can bestow—peace to your conscience. If you then esteem the value of this portion, you will not hesitate a moment to exclaim,—Friends, wish me joy, I will marry Agatha.
[Baron, in great agitation, walks backwards and forwards, then takes Anhalt by the hand.]
Baron. "Friend, wish me joy—I will marry Agatha."
Anhalt. I do wish you joy.
Baron. Where is she?
Anhalt. In the castle—in my apartments here—I conducted her through the garden, to avoid curiosity.
Baron. Well, then, this is the wedding-day. This very evening you shall give us your blessing.
Anhalt. Not so soon, not so private. The whole village was witness of Agatha's shame—the whole village must be witness of Agatha's re-established honour. Do you consent to this?
Baron. I do.
Anhalt. Now the quarrel is decided. Now is your conscience quiet?
Baron. As quiet as an infant's. I only wish the first interview was over.
Anhalt. Compose yourself. Agatha's heart is to be your judge.
Baron. Amelia, you have a brother.
Amelia. I have just heard so, my Lord; and rejoice to find the news confirmed by you.
Baron. I know, my dear Amelia, I can repay you for the loss of Count Cassel; but what return can I make to you for the loss of half your fortune?
Amelia. My brother's love will be ample recompense.
Baron. I will reward you better. Mr. Anhalt, the battle I have just fought, I owe to myself: the victory I gained, I owe to you. A man of your principles, at once a teacher and an example of virtue, exalts his rank in life to a level with the noblest family—and I shall be proud to receive you as my son.
Anhalt [falling on his knees, and taking the Baron's hand]. My Lord, you overwhelm me with confusion, as well as with joy.
Baron. My obligations to you are infinite—Amelia shall pay the debt. [Gives her to him.]
Amelia. Oh, my dear father! [embracing the Baron] what blessings have you bestowed on me in one day. [to Anhalt.] I will be your scholar still, and use more diligence than ever to please my master.
Anhalt. His present happiness admits of no addition.
Baron. Nor does mine—And yet there is another task to perform that will require more fortitude, more courage, than this has done! A trial that!—[bursts into tears]—I cannot prevent them—Let me—let me—A few minutes will bring me to myself—Where is Agatha?
Anhalt. I will go, and fetch her. [Exit Anhalt at an upper entrance.]
Baron. Stop! Let me first recover a little. [Walks up and down, sighing bitterly—looks at the door through which Anhalt left the room.] That door she will come from—That was once the dressing-room of my mother—From that door I have seen her come many times—have been delighted with her lovely smiles—How shall I now behold her altered looks! Frederick must be my mediator.—Where is he? Where is my son?—Now I am ready—my heart is prepared to receive her—Haste! haste! Bring her in.
[He looks stedfastly at the door—Anhalt leads on Agatha—The Baron runs and clasps her in his arms—Supported by him, she sinks on a chair which Amelia places in the middle of the stage—The Baron kneels by her side, holding her hand.]
Baron. Agatha, Agatha, do you know this voice?
Baron. Can you forgive me?
Agatha. I forgive you. [embracing him].
Frederick [as he enters]. I hear the voice of my mother!—Ha! mother! father!
[Frederick throws himself on his knees by the other side of his mother—She clasps him in her arms.—Amelia is placed on the side of her father attentively viewing Agatha—Anhalt stands on the side of Frederick with his hands gratefully raised to Heaven.]——The curtain slowly drops.
WRITTEN BY THOMAS PALMER, ESQ.
OF THE TEMPLE.
SPOKEN BY MR. MUNDEN.
OUR Drama now ended, I'll take up your time
Just a moment or two in defence of my rhime—
* "Tho' I hope that among you are some who admir'd
"What I've hitherto said, dare I hope none are tir'd?
"But whether ye have, or have not heard enough
"Or whether nice critics will think it all stuff;
"To myself rhime has ever appear'd, I must own,
"In its nature a sort of philosopher's stone;
"And if Chymists wou'd use it, they'd not make a pother,
"And puzzle their brains to find out any other."
Indeed 'tis most strange and surprising to me
That all folks in rhiming their int'rest can't see;
For I'm sure if it's use were quite common with men,
The world would roll on just as pleasant again.
"'Tis said, that while ORPHEUS was striking his lyre,
"Trees and brutes danc'd along to the sound of the wire;
"That AMPHION to walls soon converted the glebes,
"And they rose, as he sung, to a city call'd Thebes;
"I suppose they were Butlers (like me) of that time,
"And the tale shows our sires knew the wonders of rhime."
From time immemorial, your lovers, we find,
When their mistresses' hearts have been proud and unkind,
Have resorted to rhime; and indeed it appears
That a rhime would do more than a bucket of tears.
Of love, from experience, I speak—odds my life!
I shall never forget how I courted my wife:
She had offers in plenty; but always stood neuter
'Till I, with my pen, started forth as a suitor;
Yet made I no mean present of ribband or bonnet,
My present was caught from the stars—'twas a sonnet.
"And now you know this, sure 'tis needless to say,
"That prose was neglected, and rhime won the day—
"But its potent effects you as well may discover
"In the husband and wife, as in mistress and lover;
"There are some of ye here, who, like me, I conjecture.
"Have been lull'd into sleep by a good curtain lecture.
"But that's a mere trifle; you'll ne'er come to blows,
"If you'll only avoid that dull enemy, prose.
"Adopt, then, my plan, and the very next time,
"That in words you fall out, let them fall into rhime;
"Thus your sharpest disputes will conclude very soon,
"And from jangling to jingling you'll chime into tune.
"If my wife were to call me a drunken old sot,
"I shou'd merely just ask her, what Butler is not?
"And bid her take care that she don't go to pot.
"So our squabbles continue a very short season,
"If she yields to my rhime—I allow she has reason."
Independent of this I conceive rhime has weight
In the higher employments of church and of state,
And would in my mind such advantages draw,
'Tis a pity that rhime is not sanctioned by law;
"For 'twould really be serving us all, to impose
"A capital fine on a man who spoke prose."
Mark the pleader who clacks, in his client's behalf,
His technical stuff for three hours and a half;
Or the fellow who tells you a long stupid story
And over and over the same lays before ye;
Or the member who raves till the whole house are dosing.
What d'ye say of such men? Why you say they are prosing.
So, of course, then, if prose is so tedious a crime,
It of consequence follows, there's virtue in rhime.
The best piece of prose that I've heard a long while,
Is what gallant Nelson has sent from THE NILE.
And had he but told us the story in rhime,
What a thing 'twou'd be; but, perhaps, he'd no time.
So, I'll do it myself—Oh! 'tis glorious news!
Nine sail of the line! Just a ship for each Muse.
As I live, there's an end of the French and their navy—
Sir John Warren has sent the Brest fleet to Old Davy.
'Tis in the Gazette, and that, every one knows,
Is sure to be truth, tho' 'tis written in prose.
* The lines between inverted commas are not spoken.
Return to the Lovers' Vows main page.