Part 1 out of 3
Etext prepared by Dagny, email@example.com
Emma Dudding, firstname.lastname@example.org
and John Bickers, email@example.com
MINNA VON BARNHELM
THE SOLDIER'S FORTUNE
by GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM LESSING
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was born at Kamenz, Germany, January 22,
1729, the son of a Lutheran minister. He was educated at Meissen
and Leipzic, and began writing for the stage before he was twenty.
In 1748 he went to Berlin, where he met Voltaire and for a time
was powerfully influenced by him. The most important product of
this period was his tragedy of "Miss Sara Samson," a modern
version of the story of Medea, which began the vogue of the
sentimental middle-class play in Germany. After a second sojourn
in Leipzic (1755-1758), during which he wrote criticism, lyrics,
and fables, Lessing returned to Berlin and began to publish his
"Literary Letters," making himself by the vigor and candor of his
criticism a real force in contemporary literature. From Berlin he
went to Breslau, where he made the first sketches of two of his
greatest works, "Laocoon" and "Minna von Barnhelm," both of which
were issued after his return to the Prussian capital. Failing in
his effort to be appointed Director of the Royal Library by
Frederick the Great, Lessing went to Hamburg in 1767 as critic of
a new national theatre, and in connection with this enterprise he
issued twice a week the "Hamburgische Dramaturgie," the two
volumes of which are a rich mine of dramatic criticism and theory.
His next residence was at Wolfenbuttel, where he had charge of the
ducal library from 1770 till his death in 1781. Here he wrote his
tragedy of "Emilia Galotti," founded on the story of Virginia, and
engaged for a time in violent religious controversies, one
important outcome of which was his "Education of the Human Race."
On being ordered by the Brunswick authorities to give up
controversial writing, he found expression for his views in his
play "Nathan the Wise," his last great production.
The importance of Lessing's masterpiece in comedy, "Minna von
Barnhelm," is difficult to exaggerate. It was the beginning of
German national drama; and by the patriotic interest of its
historical background, by its sympathetic treatment of the German
soldier and the German woman, and by its happy blending of the
amusing and the pathetic, it won a place in the national heart
from which no succeeding comedy has been able to dislodge it.
MINNA VON BARNHELM
THE SOLDIER'S FORTUNE
MAJOR VON TELLHEIM, a discharged officer.
MINNA VON BARNHELM.
COUNT VON BRUCHSAL, her uncle.
FRANZISKA, her lady's maid.
JUST, servant to the Major.
PAUL WERNER, an old Sergeant of the Major's.
The LANDLORD of an Inn.
RICCAUT DE LA MARLINIERE.
The scene alternates between the Parlour of an Inn, and a Room
JUST (sitting in a corner, and talking while asleep).
Rogue of a landlord! You treat us so? On, comrade! hit hard!
(He strikes with his fist, and wakes through the exertion).
Ha! there he is again! I cannot shut an eye without fighting with him.
I wish he got but half the blows. Why, it is morning! I must just look
for my poor master at once; if I can help it, he shall not set foot in
the cursed house again. I wonder where he has passed the night?
Good-morning, Herr Just; good-morning! What, up so early! Or shall I
say--up so late?
Say which you please.
I say only--good-morning! and that deserves, I suppose, that Herr Just
should answer, "Many thanks."
One is peevish, if one can't have one's proper rest. What will you bet
the Major has not returned home, and you have been keeping watch for
How the man can guess everything!
I surmise, I surmise.
JUST. (turns round to go).
LAND. (stops him).
Not so, Herr Just!
Very well, then, not your servant!
What, Herr Just, I do hope you are not still angry about yesterday's
affair! Who would keep his anger over night?
I; and over a good many nights.
Is that like a Christian?
As much so as to turn an honourable man who cannot pay to a day, out
of doors, into the street.
Fie! who would be so wicked?
A Christian innkeeper.--My master! such a man! such an officer!
I thrust him from the house into the streets? I have far too much
respect for an officer to do that, and far too much pity for a
discharged one! I was obliged to have another room prepared for him.
Think no more about it, Herr Just.
--Hullo! I will make it good in another way.
(A lad comes.)
Bring a glass; Herr Just will have a drop; something good.
Do not trouble yourself, Mr. Landlord. May the drop turn to poison,
which . . . But I will not swear; I have not yet breakfasted.
LAND. (to the lad, who brings a bottle of spirits and a glass).
Give it here; go! Now, Herr Just; something quite excellent; strong,
delicious, and wholesome.
(Fills, and holds it out to him.)
That can set an over-taxed stomach to rights again!
I hardly ought!--And yet why should I let my health suffer on account
of his incivility?
(Takes it, and drinks.)
May it do you good, Herr Just!
JUST. (giving the glass back).
Not bad! But, Landlord, you are nevertheless an ill-mannered brute!
Not so, not so! . . . Come, another glass; one cannot stand upon one
JUST. (after drinking).
I must say so much--it is good, very good! Made at home, Landlord?
At home, indeed! True Dantzig, real double distilled!
Look ye, Landlord; if I could play the hypocrite, I would do so for
such stuff as that; but I cannot, so it must out.--You are an ill-
mannered brute all the same.
Nobody in my life ever told me that before . . . But another glass,
Herr Just; three is the lucky number!
With all my heart!--
Good stuff indeed, capital! But truth is good also, and indeed,
Landlord, you are an ill-mannered brute all the same!
If I was, do you think I should let you say so?
Oh! yes; a brute seldom has spirit.
One more, Herr Just: a four-stranded rope is the strongest.
No, enough is as good as a feast! And what good will it do you,
Landlord? I shall stick to my text till the last drop in the bottle.
Shame, Landlord, to have such good Dantzig, and such bad manners! To
turn out of his room, in his absence--a man like my master, who has
lodged at your house above a year; from whom you have had already so
many shining thalers; who never owed a heller in his life--because he
let payment run for a couple of months, and because he does not spend
quite so much as he used.
But suppose I really wanted the room and saw beforehand that the Major
would willingly have given it up if we could only have waited some
time for his return! Should I let strange gentlefolk like them drive
away again from my door! Should I wilfully send such a prize into the
clutches of another innkeeper? Besides, I don't believe they could
have got a lodging elsewhere. The inns are all now quite full. Could
such a young, beautiful, amiable lady remain in the street? Your
master is much too gallant for that. And what does he lose by the
change? Have not I given him another room?
By the pigeon-house at the back, with a view between a neighbour's
The view was uncommonly fine, before the confounded neighbour
obstructed it. The room is otherwise very nice, and is papered--
No, one side is so still. And the little room adjoining, what is the
matter with that? It has a chimney which, perhaps, smokes somewhat in
But does very nicely in the summer. I believe, Landlord, you are
mocking us into the bargain!
Come, come; Herr Just, Herr Just--
Don't make Herr Just's head hot--
I make his head hot? It is the Dantzig does that.
An officer, like my master! Or do you think that a discharged officer,
is not an officer who may break your neck for you? Why were you all,
you Landlords, so civil during the war? Why was every officer an
honourable man then and every soldier a worthy, brave fellow? Does
this bit of a peace make you so bumptious?
What makes you fly out so, Herr Just!
I will fly out.
Major von Tellheim, Landlord, Just
MAJ. T. (entering).
JUST. (supposing the Landlord is still speaking).
Just? Are we so intimate?
I thought I was "Herr Just" with you.
LAND. (seeing the Major).
Hist! hist! Herr Just, Herr Just, look round; your master--
Just, I think you are quarreling! What did I tell you?
Quarrel, your honour? God forbid! Would your most humble servant dare
to quarrel with one who has the honour of being in your service?
If I could but give him a good whack on that cringing cat's back of
It is true Herr Just speaks up for his master, and rather warmly; but
in that he is right. I esteem him so much the more: I like him for it.
I should like to knock his teeth out for him!
It is only a pity that he puts himself in a passion for nothing. For I
feel quite sure that your honour is not displeased with me in this
matter, since--necessity--made it necessary--
More than enough, sir! I am in your debt; you turn out my room in my
absence. You must be paid, I must seek a lodging elsewhere. Very
Elsewhere? You are going to quit, honoured sir? Oh, unfortunate
stricken man that I am. No, never! Sooner shall the lady give up the
apartments again. The Major cannot and will not let her have his room.
It is his; she must go; I cannot help it. I will go, honoured sir--
My friend, do not make two foolish strokes instead of one. The lady
must retain possession of the room--
And your honour could suppose that from distrust, from fear of not
being paid, I . . . As if I did not know that your honour could pay me
as soon as you pleased. The sealed purse . . . five hundred thalers in
louis d'ors marked on it--which your honour had in your writing-desk
. . . is in good keeping.
I trust so; as the rest of my property. Just shall take them into his
keeping, when he has paid your bill--
Really, I was quite alarmed when I found the purse. I always
considered your honour a methodical and prudent man, who never got
quite out of money . . . but still, had I supposed there was ready
money in the desk--
You would have treated me rather more civilly. I understand you. Go,
sir; leave me. I wish to speak with my servant.
But, honoured sir--
Come, Just; he does not wish to permit me to give my orders to you in
I am going, honoured sir! My whole house is at your service.
Major Von Tellheim, Just
JUST. (stamping with his foot and spitting after the Landlord).
What is the matter?
I am choking with rage.
That is as bad as from plethora.
And for you sir, I hardly know you any longer. May I die before your
eyes, if you do not encourage this malicious, unfeeling wretch. In
spite of gallows, axe, and torture I could . . . yes, I could have
throttled him with these hands, and torn him to pieces with these
You wild beast!
Better a wild beast than such a man!
But what is it that you want?
I want you to perceive how much he insults you.
To take your revenge . . . No, the fellow is beneath your notice!
But to commission you to avenge me? That was my intention from the
first. He should not have seen me again, but have received the amount
of his bill from your hands. I know that you can throw down a handful
of money with a tolerably contemptuous mien.
Oh! a pretty sort of revenge!
Which, however, we must defer. I have not one heller of ready money,
and I know not where to raise any.
No money! What is that purse then with five hundred thalers' worth of
louis d'ors, which the Landlord found in your desk?
That is money given into my charge.
Not the hundred pistoles which your old sergeant brought you four or
five weeks back?
The same. Paul Werner's; right.
And you have not used them yet? Yet, sir, you may do what you please
with them. I will answer for it that--
Werner heard from me, how they had treated your claims upon the War
Office. He heard--
That I should certainly be a beggar soon, if I was not one already. I
am much obliged to you, Just. And the news induced Werner to offer to
share his little all with me. I am very glad that I guessed this.
Listen, Just; let me have your account, directly, too; we must part.
Not a word. There is someone coming.
Lady /in mourning/, Major von Tellheim, Just
I ask your pardon, sir.
Whom do you seek, Madam?
The worthy gentleman with whom I have the honour of speaking. You do
not know me again. I am the widow of your late captain.
Good heavens, Madam, how you are changed!
I have just risen from a sick bed, to which grief on the loss of my
husband brought me. I am troubling you at a very early hour, Major von
Tellheim, but I am going into the country, where a kind, but also
unfortunate friend, has for the present offered me an asylum.
MAJ. T. (to Just).
Lady, Major von Tellheim
Speak freely, Madam! You must not be ashamed of your bad fortune
before me. Can I serve you in any way?
I pity you, Madam! How can I serve you? You know your husband was my
friend; my friend, I say, and I have always been sparing of this
Who knows better than I do how worthy you were of his friendship how
worthy he was of yours? You would have been in his last thoughts, your
name would have been the last sound on his dying lips, had not natural
affection, stronger than friendship, demanded this sad prerogative for
his unfortunate son, and his unhappy wife.
Cease, Madam! I could willingly weep with you; but I have no tears
to-day. Spare me! You come to me at a time when I might easily be
misled to murmur against Providence. Oh! honest Marloff! Quick, Madam,
what have you to request? If it is in my power to assist you, if it is
in my power--
I cannot depart without fulfilling his last wishes. He recollected,
shortly before his death, that he was dying a debtor to you, and he
conjured me to discharge his debt with the first ready money I should
have. I have sold his carriage, and come to redeem his note.
What, Madam! Is that your object in coming?
It is. Permit me to count out the money to you.
No, Madam. Marloff a debtor to me! that can hardly be. Let us look,
(Takes out a pocketbook, and searches.)
I find nothing of the kind.
You have doubtless mislaid his note; besides, it is nothing to the
purpose. Permit me--
No, Madam; I am careful not to mislay such documents. If I have not
got it, it is a proof that I never had it, or that it has been
honoured and already returned by me.
Without doubt, Madam; Marloff does not owe me anything--nor can I
remember that he ever did owe me anything. This is so, Madam. He has
much rather left me in his debt. I have never been able to do anything
to repay a man who shared with me good and ill luck, honour and
danger, for six years. I shall not forget that he has left a son. He
shall be my son, as soon as I can be a father to him. The
embarrassment in which I am at present--
Generous man! But do not think so meanly of me. Take the money, Major,
and then at least I shall be at ease.
What more do you require to tranquillize you, than my assurance that
the money does not belong to me? Or do you wish that I should rob the
young orphan of my friend? Rob, Madam; for that it would be in the
true meaning of the word. The money belongs to him; invest it for him.
I understand you; pardon me if I do not yet rightly know how to accept
a kindness. Where have you learnt that a mother will do more for her
child than for the preservation of her own life? I am going--
Go, Madam, and may you have a prosperous journey! I do not ask you to
let me hear from you. Your news might come to me when it might be of
little use to me. There is yet one thing, Madam; I had nearly
forgotten that which is of most consequence. Marloff also had claims
upon the chest of our old regiment. His claims are as good as mine. If
my demands are paid, his must be paid also. I will be answerable for
Oh! Sir . . . but what can I say? Thus to purpose future good deeds
is, in the eyes of heaven, to have performed them already. May you
receive its reward, as well as my tears.
Major von Tellheim
Poor, good woman! I must not forget to destroy the bill.
(Takes some papers from his pocketbook and destroys them.)
Who would guarantee that my own wants might not some day tempt me to
make use of it?
Just, Major von Tellheim
Is that you, Just?
JUST. (wiping his eyes).
You have been crying?
I have been writing out my account in the kitchen, and the place is
full of smoke. Here it is, sir.
Give it to me.
Be merciful with me, sir. I know well that they have not been so with
What do you want?
I should sooner have expected my death, than my discharge.
I cannot keep you any longer: I must learn to manage without servants.
(Opens the paper, and reads.)
"What my master, the Major, owes me:--Three months and a half wages,
six thalers per month, is 21 thalers. During the first part of this
month, laid out in sundries--1 thaler 7 groschen 9 pfennigs. Total, 22
thalers 7gr. 9pf." Right; and it is just that I also pay your wages,
for the whole of the current month.
Turn over, sir.
"What I owe my master, the Major:--Paid for me to the army-surgeon
twenty-five thalers. Attendance and nurse during my cure, paid for me,
thirty-nine thalers. Advanced, at my request, to my father--who was
burnt out of his house and robbed--without reckoning the two horses of
which he made him a present, fifty thalers. Total 114 thalers. Deduct
the above 22 thalers, 7gr. 9pf.; I remain in debt to my master, the
Major, 91 thalers, 16gr. 3pf." You are mad, my good fellow!
I willingly grant that I owe you much more; but it would be wasting
ink to write it down. I cannot pay you that: and if you take my livery
from me too, which, by the way, I have not yet earned,--I would rather
you had let me die in the workhouse.
For what do you take me? You owe me nothing; and I will recommend you
to one of my friends, with whom you will fare better than with me.
I do not owe you anything, and yet you turn me away!
Because I do not wish to owe you anything.
On that account? Only on that account? As certain as I am in your
debt, as certain as you can never be in mine, so certainly shall you
not turn me away now. Do what you will, Major, I remain in your
service; I must remain.
With your obstinacy, your insolence, your savage boisterous temper
towards all who you think have no business to speak to you, your
malicious pranks, your love of revenge,--
Make me as bad as you will, I shall not think worse of myself than of
my dog. Last winter I was walking one evening at dusk along the river,
when I heard something whine. I stooped down, and reached in the
direction whence the sound came, and when I thought I was saving a
child, I pulled a dog out of the water. That is well, thought I. The
dog followed me; but I am not fond of dogs, so I drove him away--in
vain. I whipped him away--in vain. I shut him out of my room at night;
he lay down before the door. If he came too near me, I kicked him; he
yelped, looked up at me, and wagged his tail. I have never yet given
him a bit of bread with my own hand; and yet I am the only person whom
he will obey, or who dare touch him. He jumps about me, and shows off
his tricks to me, without my asking for them. He is an ugly dog, but
he is a good animal. If he carries it on much longer, I shall at last
give over hating him.
MAJ. T. (aside).
As I do him. No, there is no one perfectly inhuman. Just, we will not
Certainly not! And you wanted to manage without servants! You forget
your wounds, and that you only have the use of one arm. Why, you are
not able to dress alone. I am indispensable to you; and I am--without
boasting, Major,--I am a servant who, if the worst comes to the worst,
can beg and steal for his master.
Just, we will part.
All right, Sir!
Servant, Major von Tellheim, Just
I say, comrade!
What is the matter?
Can you direct me to the officer who lodged yesterday in that room?
(Pointing to the one out of which he is coming).
That I could easily do. What have you got for him?
What we always have, when we have nothing--compliments. My mistress
hears that he has been turned out on her account. My mistress knows
good manners, and I am therefore to beg his pardon.
Well then, beg his pardon; there he stands.
What is he? What is his name?
I have already heard your message, my friend. It is unnecessary
politeness on the part of your mistress, which I beg to acknowledge
duly. Present my compliments to her. What is the name of your
Her name! We call her my Lady.
The name of her family?
I have not heard that yet, and it is not my business to ask. I manage
so that I generally get a new master every six weeks. Hang all their
I was engaged by my present mistress a few days ago, in Dresden. I
believe she has come here to look for her lover.
Enough, friend. I wished to know the name of your mistress, not her
Comrade, he would not do for my master.
Major von Tellheim, Just
Just! see that we get out of this house directly! The politeness of
this strange lady affects me more than the churlishness of the host.
Here, take this ring--the only thing of value which I have left--of
which I never thought such a use. Pawn it! get eighty louis d'ors for
it: our host's bill can scarcely amount to thirty. Pay him, and remove
my things. . . . Ah, where? Where you will. The cheaper the inn, the
better. You will find me in the neighbouring coffee-house. I am going;
you will see to it all properly?
Have no fear, Major!
MAJ. T. (comes back).
Above all things, do not let my pistols be forgotten, which hang
beside the bed.
I will forget nothing.
MAJ. T. (comes back again).
Another thing: bring your dog with you too. Do you hear, Just?
The dog will not stay behind, he will take care of that. Hem! My
master still had this valuable ring and carried it in his pocket
instead of on his finger! My good landlord, we are not yet so poor as
we look. To him himself, I will pawn you, you beautiful little ring! I
know he will be annoyed that you will not all be consumed in his
Paul Werner, Just
Hullo, Werner! good-day to you, Werner. Welcome to the town.
The accursed village! I can't manage to get at home in it again.
Merry, my boys, merry; I have got some more money! Where is the Major?
He must have met you; he just went down stairs.
I came up the back stairs. How is he? I should have been with you last
Well, what prevented you?
Just, did you ever hear of Prince Heraclius?
Heraclius? Not that I know of.
Don't you know the great hero of the East?
I know the wise men of the East well enough, who go about with the
stars on New Year's Eve.
Brother, I believe you read the newspapers as little as the Bible. You
do not know Prince Heraclius. Not know the brave man who seized
Persia, and will break into the Ottoman Porte in a few days? Thank
God, there is still war somewhere in the world! I have long enough
hoped it would break out here again. But there they sit and take care
of their skins. No, a soldier I was, and a soldier I must be again! In
short, (looking round carefully, to see if anyone is listening)
between ourselves, Just, I am going to Persia, to have a few campaigns
against the Turks, under his Royal Highness Prince Heraclius.
I myself. Our ancestors fought bravely against the Turks; and so ought
we too, if we would be honest men and good Christians. I allow that a
campaign against the Turks cannot be half so pleasant as one against
the French; but then it must be so much the more beneficial in this
world and the next. The swords of the Turks are all set with diamonds.
I would not walk a mile to have my head split with one of their
sabres. You will not be so mad as to leave your comfortable little
Oh! I take that with me. Do you see? The property is sold.
Hist! Here are a hundred ducats, which I received yesterday towards
the payment: I am bringing them for the Major.
What is he to do with them?
What is he to do with them? Spend them; play them, or drink them away,
or whatever he pleases. He must have money, and it is bad enough that
they have made his own so troublesome to him. But I know what I would
do, were I in his place. I would say--"The deuce take you all here; I
will go with Paul Werner to Persia!" Hang it! Prince Heraclius must
have heard of Major von Tellheim, if he has not heard of Paul Werner,
his late sergeant. Our affair at Katzenhauser--
Shall I give you an account of that?
You give me! I know well that a fine battle array is beyond your
comprehension. I am not going to throw my pearls before swine. Here,
take the hundred ducats; give them to the Major: tell him, he may keep
these for me too. I am going to the market now. I have sent in a
couple of loads of rye; what I get for them he can also have.
Werner, you mean it well; but we don't want your money. Keep your
ducats; and your hundred pistoles you can also have back safe, as soon
as you please.
What, has the Major money still?
Has he borrowed any?
On what does he live, then?
We have everything put down in the bill; and when they won't put
anything more down, and turn us out of the house, we pledge anything
we may happen to have, and go somewhere else. I say, Paul, we must
play this landlord here a trick.
If he has annoyed the Major, I am ready.
What if we watch for him in the evening, when he comes from his club,
and give him a good thrashing?
In the dark! Watch for him! Two to one! No, that won't do.
Or if we burn his house over his head?
Fire and burn! Why, Just, one hears that you have been baggage-boy and
not soldier. Shame!
Or if we ruin his daughter? But she is cursedly ugly.
She has probably been ruined long ago. At any rate you don't want any
help there. But what is the matter with you? What has happened?
Just come with me, and you shall hear something to make you stare.
The devil must be loose here, then?
Just so; come along.
So much the better! To Persia, then; to Persia.
Minna's Room. Minna, Franziska
MIN. (in morning dress, looking at her watch).
Franziska, we have risen very early. The time will hang heavy on our
Who can sleep in these abominable large towns? The carriages, the
watchmen, the drums, the cats, the soldiers, never cease to rattle, to
call, to roll, to mew, and to swear; just as if the last thing the
night is intended for was for sleep. Have a cup of tea, my lady!
I don't care for tea.
I will have some chocolate made.
For yourself, if you like.
For myself! I would as soon talk to myself as drink by myself. Then
the time will indeed hang heavy. For very weariness we shall have to
make our toilets, and try on the dress in which we intend to make the
Why do you talk of attacks, when I have only come to require that the
capitulation be ratified?
But the officer whom we have dislodged, and to whom we have
apologized, cannot be the best bred man in the world, or he might at
least have begged the honour of being allowed to wait upon you.
All officers are not Tellheims. To tell you the truth, I only sent him
the message in order to have an opportunity of inquiring from him
about Tellheim. Franziska, my heart tells me my journey will be a
successful one and that I shall find him.
The heart, my lady! One must not trust to that too much. The heart
echoes to us the words of our tongues. If the tongue was as much
inclined to speak the thoughts of the heart, the fashion of keeping
mouths under lock and key would have come in long ago.
Ha! ha! mouths under lock and key. That fashion would just suit me.
Rather not show the most beautiful set of teeth, than let the heart be
seen through them every moment.
What, are you so reserved?
No, my lady; but I would willingly be more so. People seldom talk of
the virtue they possess, and all the more often of that which they do
Franziska, you made a very just remark there.
Made! Does one make it, if it occurs to one?
And do you know why I consider it so good? It applies to my Tellheim.
What would not, in your opinion, apply to him?
Friend and foe say he is the bravest man in the world. But who ever
heard him talk of bravery? He has the most upright mind; but
uprightness and nobleness of mind are words never on his tongue.
Of what virtues does he talk then?
He talks of none, for he is wanting in none.
That is just what I wished to hear.
Wait, Franziska; I am wrong. He often talks of economy. Between
ourselves, I believe he is extravagant.
One thing more, my lady. I have often heard him mention truth and
constancy toward you. What, if he be inconstant?
Miserable girl! But do you mean that seriously?
How long is it since he wrote to you?
Alas! he has only written to me once since the peace.
What!--A sigh on account of the peace? Surprising? Peace ought only to
make good the ill which war causes; but it seems to disturb the good
which the latter, its opposite, may have occasioned. Peace should not
be so capricious! . . . How long have we had peace? The time seems
wonderfully long, when there is so little news. It is no use the post
going regularly again; nobody writes, for nobody has anything to write
"Peace has been made," he wrote to me, "and I am approaching the
fulfillment of my wishes." But since he only wrote that to me once,
And since he compels us to run after this fulfillment of his wishes
ourselves. . . If we can but find him, he shall pay for this! Suppose,
in the meantime, he may have accomplished his wishes, and we should
learn here that--
That he is dead?
To you, my lady; and married to another.
You tease, you! Wait, Franziska, I will pay you out for this! But talk
to me, or I shall fall asleep. His regiment was disbanded after the
peace. Who knows into what a confusion of bills and papers he may
thereby have been brought? Who knows into what other regiment, or to
what distant station, he may have been sent? Who knows what
circumstances--There's a knock at the door.
Landlord, Minna, Franziska
LAND. (putting his head in at the door).
Am I permitted, your ladyship?
Our landlord?--Come in!
LAND. (A pen behind his ear, a sheet of paper and an inkstand in his
I am come, your ladyship, to wish you a most humble good-morning;
and the same to you, my pretty maid.
A polite man!
We are obliged to you.
And wish you also a good-morning.
May I venture to ask how your ladyship has passed the first night
under my poor roof?
The roof is not so bad, sir; but the beds might have been better.
What do I hear! Not slept well! Perhaps the over-fatigue of the
Certainly, certainly, for otherwise. . . . Yet, should there be
anything not perfectly comfortable, my lady, I hope you will not fail
to command me.
Very well, Mr. Landlord, very well! We are not bashful; and least of
all should one be bashful at an inn. We shall not fail to say what we
I next come to . . .
(taking the pen from behind his ear).
Without doubt, my lady, you are already acquainted with the wise
regulations of our police.
Not in the least, sir.
We landlords are instructed not to take in any stranger, of whatever
rank or sex he may be, for four-and-twenty hours, without delivering,
in writing, his name, place of abode, occupation, object of his
journey, probable stay, and so on, to the proper authorities.
Will your ladyship then be so good . . .
(going to the table, and making ready to write).
Willingly. My name is--
"Date, 22nd August, A. D., &c.; arrived at the King of Spain hotel."
Now your name, my lady.
Fraulein von Barnhelm.
"Von Barnhelm." Coming from. . . . where, your ladyship?
From my estate in Saxony.
"Estate in Saxony." Saxony! Indeed, indeed! In Saxony, your ladyship?
Well, why not? I hope it is no sin in this country to come from Saxony!
A sin? Heaven forbid! That would be quite a new sin! From Saxony then?
Yes, yes, from Saxony, a delightful country, Saxony! But if I am
right, your ladyship, Saxony is not small, and has several--how shall
I call them? districts, provinces. Our police are very particular,
I understand. From my estate in Thuringia, then.
From Thuringia! Yes, that is better, your ladyship; that is more
(Writes and reads.)
"Fraulein von Barnhelm, coming from her estate in Thuringia, together
with her lady in waiting and two men servants."
Lady in waiting! That means me, I suppose!
Yes, my pretty maid.
Well, Mr. Landlord, instead of "lady in waiting," write "maid in
waiting." You say, the police are very exact; it might cause a
misunderstanding, which might give me trouble some day when my banns
are read out. For I really am still unmarried, and my name is
Franziska, with the family name of Willig: Franziska Willig. I also
come from Thuringia. My father was a miller, on one of my lady's
estates. It is called Little Rammsdorf. My brother has the mill now. I
was taken very early to the manor, and educated with my lady. We are
of the same age--one-and-twenty next Candlemas. I learnt everything my
lady learnt. I should like the police to have a full account of me.
Quite right, my pretty maid; I will bear that in mind, in case of
future inquiries. But now, your ladyship, your business here?
My business here?
Have you any business with His Majesty the King?
Or at our courts of justice?
No, no. I have come here solely on account of my own private affairs.
Quite right, your ladyship; but what are those private affairs?
They are . . . Franziska, I think we are undergoing an examination.
Mr. Landlord, the police surely do not ask to know a young lady's
Certainly, my pretty maid; the police wish to know everything, and
What is to be done, my lady? . . . Well, listen, Mr. Landlord--but
take care that it does not go beyond ourselves and the police.
What is the simpleton going to tell him?
We come to carry off an officer from the king.
How? What? My dear girl!
Or to let ourselves be carried off by the officer. It is all one.
Franziska, are you mad? The saucy girl is laughing at you.
I hope not! With your humble servant indeed she may jest as much as
she pleases; but with the police--
I tell you what; I do not understand how to act in this matter.
Suppose you postpone the whole affair till my uncle's arrival. I told
you yesterday why he did not come with me. He had an accident with his
carriage ten miles from here, and did not wish that I should remain a
night longer on the road, so I had to come on. I am sure he will not
be more than four-and-twenty hours after us.
Very well, madam, we will wait for him.
He will be able to answer your questions better. He will know to whom,
and to what extent, he must give an account of himself--what he must
relate respecting his affairs, and what he may withhold.
So much the better! Indeed one cannot expect a young girl
(looking at Franziska in a marked manner)
to treat a serious matter with serious people in a serious manner.
And his rooms are in readiness, I hope?
Quite, your ladyship, quite; except the one--
Out of which, I suppose, you will have to turn some other honourable
The waiting maids of Saxony, your ladyship, seem to be very
In truth, sir, that was not well done. You ought rather to have
Why so, your ladyship, why so?
I understand that the officer who was driven out on our account--
Is only a discharged officer, your ladyship.
Well, what then?
Who is almost done for.
So much the worse! He is said to be a very deserving man.
But I tell you he is discharged.
The king cannot be acquainted with every deserving man.
Oh! doubtless he knows them; he knows them all.
But he cannot reward them all.
They would have been rewarded if they had lived so as to deserve it.
But they lived during the war as if it would last for ever; as if the
words "yours" and "mine" were done away with altogether. Now all the
hotels and inns are full of them, and a landlord has to be on his
guard with them. I have come off pretty well with this one. If he had
no more money, he had at any rate money's worth; and I might indeed
have let him remain quiet two or three months longer. However, it is
better as it is. By-the-by, your ladyship, you understand about
jewels, I suppose?
Of course your ladyship must. I must show you a ring, a valuable ring.
I see you have a very beautiful one on your finger; and the more I
look at it, the more I am astonished at the resemblance it bears to
mine. There! just look, just look!
(Taking the ring from its case, and handing it to her.)
What brilliancy! The diamond in the middle alone weighs more than five
MIN. (looking at it).
Good heavens! What do I see? This ring--
Is honestly worth fifteen hundred thalers.
I did not hesitate for a moment to advance eighty pistoles on it.
Do not you recognize it, Franziska?
The same! Where did you get that ring, Mr. Landlord?
Come, my girl! you surely have no claim to it?
We have no claim to this ring! My mistress' monogram must be on it, on
the inner side of the setting. Look at it, my lady.
It is! it is! How did you get this ring?
I! In the most honourable way in the world. You do not wish to bring
me into disgrace and trouble, your ladyship! How do I know where the
ring properly belongs? During the war many a thing often changed
masters, both with and without the knowledge of its owner. War was
war. Other rings will have crossed the borders of Saxony. Give it me
again, your ladyship; give it me again!
When you have said from whom you got it.
From a man whom I cannot think capable of such things; in other
respects a good man.
From the best man under the sun, if you have it from its owner. Bring
him here directly! It is himself, or at any rate he must know him.
Who? who, your ladyship?
Are you deaf? Our Major!
Major! Right! he is a Major, who had this room before you, and from
whom I received it.
Major von Tellheim!
Yes, Tellheim. Do you know him?
Do I know him! He is here! Tellheim here! He had this room! He! he
pledged this ring with you! What has brought him into this
embarrassment? Where is he? Does he owe you anything? Franziska, my
desk here! Open it!
(Franziska puts it on the table and opens it.)
What does he owe you? To whom else does he owe anything? Bring me all
his creditors! Here is gold: here are notes. It is all his!
What is this?
Where is he? Where is he?
An hour ago he was here.
Detested man! how could you act so rudely, so hardly, so cruelly
Your ladyship must pardon--
Quick! Bring him to me.
His servant is perhaps still here. Does your ladyship wish that he
should look for him?
Do I wish it? Begone, run. For this service alone I will forget how
badly you have behaved to him.
Now then, quick, Mr. Landlord! Be off! fly! fly!
(Pushes him out.)
Now I have found him again, Franziska! Do you hear? Now I have found
him again! I scarcely know where I am for joy! Rejoice with me,
Franziska. But why should you? And yet you shall; you must rejoice
with me. Come, I will make you a present, that you may be able to
rejoice with me. Say, Franziska, what shall I give you? Which of my
things would please you? What would you like? Take what you will; only
rejoice with me. I see you will take nothing. Stop!
(Thrusts her hand into the desk.)
(gives her money)
buy yourself what you like. Ask for more, if it be not sufficient; but
rejoice with me you must. It is so melancholy to be happy alone.
There, take it, then.
It is stealing it from you, my lady. You are intoxicated, quite
intoxicated with joy.
Girl, my intoxication is of a quarrelsome kind. Take it, or
(forcing money into her hand)
. . . and if you thank me . . . Stay, it is well that I think of it.
(Takes more money from the desk.)
Put that aside, Franziska, for the first poor wounded soldier who
Landlord, Minna, and Franziska
Well, is he coming?
The cross, unmannered fellow!
His servant. He refuses to go for him.
Bring the rascal here, then. I know all the Major's servants. Which
one of them was it?
Bring him here directly. When he sees us he will go fast enough.
I cannot bear this delay. But, Franziska, how cold you are still! Why
will you not share my joy with me?
I would from my heart, if only--
If only what?
We have found him again. But how have we found him? From all we hear,
it must go badly with him. He must be unfortunate. That distresses me.
Distresses you! Let me embrace you for that, my dear playmate! I shall
never forget this of you. I am only in love, you are good.
Landlord, Just, Minna, Franziska
With great difficulty I have brought him.
A strange face! I do not know him.
Friend, do you live with Major von Tellheim?
Where is your master?
But you could find him?
Will you fetch him quickly?
You will be doing me a favour.
And your master a service.
Why do you suppose that?
You are the strange lady who sent your compliments to him this
morning, I think?
Then I am right.
Does your master know my name?
No; but he likes over-civil ladies as little as over-uncivil
That is meant for me, I suppose?
Well, do not let the lady suffer for it then; but bring him here
MIN. (to Franziska).
Franziska, give him something
FRAN. (trying to put some money into Just's hand).
We do not require your services for nothing.
Nor I your money without services.
One in return for the other.
I cannot. My master has ordered me to pack up. That I am now about,
and I beg you not to hinder me further. When I have finished, I will
take care to tell him that he may come here. He is close by, at the
coffee-house; and if he finds nothing better to do there, I suppose he
Wait a moment! My lady is the Major's . . . sister.
Yes, yes, his sister.
I know better; the Major has not a sister. He has sent me twice in six
months to his family in Courland. It is true there are different sorts
One must be so to get the people to let one alone.
That is a rascal.
So I said. But let him go! I know now where his master is. I will
fetch him instantly myself. I only beg your ladyship, most humbly,
that you will make an excuse for me to the Major, that I have been so
unfortunate as to offend a man of his merit against my will.
Pray go quickly. I will set all that right again.
(Exit the Landlord.)
Franziska, run after him, and tell him not to mention my name!
Minna, /and afterwards/ Franziska
I have found him again!--Am I alone?--I will not be alone to no
(Clasping her hands.)
Yet I am not alone!
One single grateful thought towards heaven, is the most perfect
prayer! I have found him! I have found him!
(With outstretched arms.)
I am joyful and happy! What can please the Creator more than a joyful
Have you returned, Franziska? You pity him! I do not pity him.
Misfortune too is useful. Perhaps heaven deprived him of everything--
to give him all again, through me!
He may be here at any moment.--You are still in your morning dress, my
lady. Ought you not to dress yourself quickly?
Not at all. He will now see me more frequently so, than dressed out.
Oh! you know, my lady, how you look best.
MIN. (after a pause).
Truly, girl, you have hit it again.
I think women who are beautiful, are most so when unadorned.
Must we then be beautiful? Perhaps it was necessary that we should
think ourselves so. Enough for me, if only I am beautiful in his eyes.
Franziska, if all women feel as I now feel, we are--strange things.
Tender hearted, yet proud; virtuous, yet vain; passionate, yet
innocent. I dare say you do not understand me. I do not rightly
understand myself. Joy turns my head.
Compose yourself, my lady, I hear footsteps.
Compose myself! What! receive him composedly?
Major von Tellheim, Landlord, Minna, and Franziska
MAJ. T. (walks in, and the moment he sees Minna rushes towards her).
Ah! my Minna!
MIN. (springing towards him).
Ah! my Tellheim!
MAJ. T. (starts suddenly, and draws back).
I beg your pardon, Fraulein von Barnhelm; but to meet you here--
Cannot surely be so unexpected!
(Approaching him, whilst he draws back still more.)
Am I to pardon you because I am still your Minna? Heaven pardon you,
that I am still Fraulein von Barnhelm!
Fraulein . . .
(Looks fixedly at the Landlord, and shrugs his shoulders.)
MIN. (sees the Landlord, and makes a sign to Franziska).
If we are not both mistaken--
Why, Landlord, whom have you brought us here? Come, quick! let us go
and look for the right man.
Is he not the right one? Surely!
Surely not! Come, quick! I have not yet wished your daughter good
Oh! you are very good
(still does not stir).
FRAN. (takes hold of him).
Come, and we will make the bill of fare. Let us see what we shall
You shall have first of all--
Stop, I say, stop! If my mistress knows now what she is to have for
dinner, it will be all over with her appetite. Come, we must talk that
over in private.
(Drags him off.)
Minna, Major von Tellheim
Well, are we still both mistaken?
Would to heaven it were so--But there is only one Minna, and you are
What ceremony! The world might hear what we have to say to one
You here? What do you want here, Madam?
(going to him with open arms).
I have found all that I wanted.
MAJ. T. (drawing back).
You seek a prosperous man, and one worthy of your love; and you find--
a wretched one.
Then do you love me no longer? Do you love another?
Ah! he never loved you, who could love another afterwards.
You draw but one dagger from my breast; for if I have lost your heart,
what matters whether indifference or more powerful charms than mine
have robbed me of it? You love me no longer; neither do you love
another? Wretched man indeed, if you love nothing!
Right; the wretched must love nothing. He merits his misfortunes, if
he cannot achieve this victory over himself--if he can allow the woman
he loves to take part in his misfortune . . . Oh! how difficult is
this victory! . . . Since reason and necessity have commanded me to
forget Minna von Barnhelm, what pains have I taken! I was just
beginning to hope that my trouble would not for ever be in vain--and
Do I understand you right? Stop, sir; let us see what we mean before
we make further mistakes. Will you answer me one question?
But will you answer me without shift or subterfuge? With nothing but a
plain "Yes," or "No?"
I will--if I can.
You can. Well, notwithstanding the pains which you have taken to
forget me, do you love me still, Tellheim?
Madam, that question--
You have promised to answer Yes, or No.
And added, If I can.
You can. You must know what passes in your heart. Do you love me
still, Tellheim? Yes, or No?
If my heart--
Yes, or No?
Yes, yes! Yet--
Patience! You love me still; that is enough for me. Into what a mood
have we fallen! an unpleasant, melancholy, infectious mood! I assume
my own again. Now, my dear unfortunate, you love me still, and have
your Minna still, and are unhappy? Hear what a conceited, foolish
thing your Minna was--is. She allowed--allows herself, to imagine that
she makes your whole happiness. Declare all your misery at once. She
would like to try how far she can outweigh it.--Well?
Madam, I am not accustomed to complain.
Very well. I know nothing in a soldier, after boasting, that pleases
me less than complaining. But there is a certain cold, careless way of
speaking of bravery and misfortune--
Which at the bottom is still boasting and complaining.
You disputant! You should not have called yourself unhappy at all
then. You should have told the whole, or kept quiet. Reason and
necessity commanded you to forget me? I am a great stickler for
reason; I have a great respect for necessity. But let me hear how
reasonable this reason, and how necessary this necessity may be.
Listen then, Madam. You call me Tellheim; the name is correct. But
suppose I am not that Tellheim whom you knew at home; the prosperous
man, full of just pretensions, with a thirst for glory; the master of
all his faculties, both of body and mind; before whom the lists of
honour and prosperity stood open; who, if he was not then worthy of
your heart and your hand, dared to hope that he might daily become
more nearly so. This Tellheim I am now, as little as I am my own
father. They both have been. Now I am Tellheim the discharged, the
suspected, the cripple, the beggar. To the former, Madam, you promised
your hand; do you wish to keep your word?
That sounds very tragic . . . Yet, Major Tellheim, until I find the
former one again--I am quite foolish about the Tellheims--the latter
will have to help me in my dilemma. Your hand, dear beggar!
(Taking his hand).
MAJ. T. (holding his hat before his face with the other hand, and
turning away from her).
This is too much! . . . What am I? . . . Let me go, Madam. Your
kindness tortures me! Let me go.
What is the matter? Where would you go?