Part 5 out of 11
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
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
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
"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
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
* * * * *
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
[Illustration: KARL FERDINAND GUTZKOW]
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
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
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.,
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
* * * * *
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
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
* * * * *
SWORD AND QUEUE
FREDERICK WILLIAM I., _King Of
Prussia, father of Frederick the
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_.
[Illustration: THE POTSDAM GUARD ADOLPH VON MENZEL]
SWORD AND QUEUE
_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
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.
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.
Princess Wilhelmine is no longer a child.
Her morning dreams are all the sweeter for that reason.
Dreams of our final release--of despair--of death--
Or possibly dreams of marriage--and the like--
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.
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
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.
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._]
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.
PRINCESS WILHELMINE _comes in, carrying a letter_.
Can any one hear us?
Not unless the walls have ears. Is the letter written?
I hardly dare send it, dear Sonnsfeld. I know there are a hundred
mistakes in it.
A hundred? Then the letter must be much longer than Your Highness first
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.
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
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_.]
And I am to dispatch this letter? [_With droll pathos_.] No, Your
Highness, I cannot have anything to do with this forbidden
No joking please, Sonnsfeld. It was the only answer I could possibly
send to the Prince's tender epistle.
Impossible!--To become an accomplice to a forbidden correspondence in
this Court might cost one's life.
You will make me angry!--here, dispatch this letter, and quickly.
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_.]
_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
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--
The Prince of Baireuth places me in no slight embarrassment by this
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
Then you are preparing to do battle here?
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.
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?
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.
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
[_She bows and turns as if to go_.]
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?
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
Princess, I swear to you--this must be changed.
And how, pray?
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
The King detests all things foreign, and most of all does he detest
France, her literature, her language.
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--
All instructors of the French language have been banished from Berlin by
Laharpe will come to you without his identity becoming known.
That is impossible. No one dare approach me who cannot first satisfy the
questioning of the Castle Guard.
Cannot Laharpe instruct you in the apartments of your, Lady-in-waiting,
Frauelein von Sonnsfeld? WILHELMINE. Impossible.
In the Queen's rooms, then.
By Heaven! Do they never leave you alone for one hour?
Oh yes, two hours every Sunday--in church.
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!
The only place which I may visit occasionally, and remain in
unaccompanied, are those rooms over there, in the lower story of the
The King's private library, no doubt?
A gallery of family portraits?
Do you see the smoke issuing from the open window?
That is--oh, it cannot be--the kitchen?
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--
This--for a Princess?
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.
She is charming. [_Aloud_.] And Laharpe?
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_.]
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.
The Queen? Where shall I go?
Into that room over there--you may find some way out--no one must see
[_She pushes him to an opposite side-door_.]
My knowledge of the territory is growing rapidly. [_He goes out_.]
_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_.
Has my daughter risen? I worked so late into the night that I am still
quite fatigued. These wretched politics! Have you seen Kamke?
Your Majesty's lackey? No, Your Majesty.
He's been gone so long. I sent him to the Prince of Baireuth.
PRINCE (_peeping out from the door, aside_).
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.
The field is all in my favor.
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.
Is there--is there anything new in the air, Your Majesty?
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.
Your Majesty--is laying plots?
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.
This is a surprise, Prince. I did not hear you enter.
Your Majesty was so deeply absorbed in thought--
He has a pleasing exterior and intelligent eyes. [_Aloud_.] Did my
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--
Certainly, Your Majesty. [_Aside_.] I haven't heard a word about it.
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?
Undoubtedly--undoubtedly, Your Majesty. [_Aside_.] If I only knew _what_
My son writes me that I may rely entirely on your sympathy in this
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."
That sounds very like him. I am quite ready to do as he says.
The plot thickens.
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.
I think--I may say--that I understand Your Majesty entirely. [_Aside_.]
What can she mean?
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.
Mesalliance? The Princess? Your daughter [_Bewildered_.] I must
confess--I was but superficially informed of all these matters.
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!
I shall be most eagerly anxious to justify Your Majesty's confidence.
[_Aside_.] Good Heavens!
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.
Zounds! A nice rival this!
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?
I? With the King? Mediate? Oh, of course, Your Majesty, with the
greatest pleasure! [_Aside_.] What a detestable errand!
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.
I am still quite bewildered by this--this flattering commission. And
when may I pay my respects to Your Majesty again?
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_.]
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_.]
[EVERSMANN _looks the_ PRINCE _over from head to foot, moves forward a
few paces, then halts again_.]
Can any one have seen me?
EVERSMANN (_goes to the door, halts again, looks at the_ PRINCE
Why are you looking at me, sirrah? I am the Prince Hereditary of
EVERSMANN (_is quite indifferent, comes down a few steps, bows very
His Majesty is coming in from the parade, but does not grant audiences
in this room.
I thank you for the information, my good man.
Don't mention it, pray.
And who are you?
EVERSMANN. I? [_There is along pause_.]
I am Eversmann. [_He goes out into the_ QUEEN's _room_.]
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_.]
_A loud knocking, as with a cane, is heard at the centre door_.
Now, what's that?
KING (_still without, beats the door loudly with his cane_).
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
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?
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
So that she may obey orders.
Miserable lackey! [_Goes out_.]
Will he go now?
Now go to my daughter too, the Princess Wilhelmine--
[WILHELMINE _opens her door softly_.]
To Her Royal Highness--
And tell her to have a care--this Laharpe--is a rascal.
Laharpe is a rascal, I say.
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.
[_She goes out_.]
KING (_still outside_).
And now get back to the books!
At once, Your Majesty.
Eversmann--one thing more, Eversmann!
If you should see the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth--
It's my turn now.
That French windbag who's been hanging about Berlin since yesterday--
I'll tell him Your Majesty will not receive him.
No, Eversmann, tell him I have something very important to say to
him--something very confidential.
Confidential? To me?
Concerning an important and pressing matter.
Oh, yes, I know.
You know, sirrah? What do you know? You know nothing at all.
I thought--one might guess--
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
Oh, Your Highness is still here?
The King wishes to speak to me. Do you know why? Tell me what you think.
If Your Highness promises not to betray me--I think it concerns a
certain affair--between Prussia and Austria.
Arch-Duke Leopold is willing, they say--that is if [_with a sly gesture
toward the_ PRINCESS' _room_] if Princess Wilhelmine--
Sh! You will probably be chosen to conduct the negotiations between
PRINCE (_beside himself_).
The Princess is--destined--
To be the future Empress of Austria.
[_He goes out into the_ QUEEN'S _room_.]
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_.]
GRUMBKOW _and_ SECKENDORF _come in with_ EVERSMANN. _The latter carries
a wide orange-colored ribbon with many stars and Orders on it, and a
_The_ KING'S _room. A side door on the left; a centre door. A writing
table and chairs_.
It was a dispatch, you say, Eversmann?
A dispatch from Hanover.
And all this elegance? The ribbon? The sword of state? What does it
His Majesty ordered these immediately after the arrival of the dispatch.
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.
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.
A dispatch from Hanover-_grand cordon_--sword of state--twelve plates
extra--thirty-six thalers--the combination, Grumbkow--we must find the
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
On thirty-six thalers?
The orphans in the asylum are to have new clothes.
The orphans? That looks like a wedding.
Dispatch--Hanover--thirty-six thalers--two tears--beat them all--the
meaning of that, Grumbkow?--we must put two and two together and find
He's coming! The King!
_The_ KING _looks in from the side door_.
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
EVERSMANN (_as if joking_).
Is there something so important on hand? Doesn't Your Majesty want the
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--
Could it be the arrival of the courier--? KING (_indifferently_). Oh,
yes. A courier came--
With news of importance, Your Majesty?
News of importance!
Concerning English affairs, doubtless?
Doubtless the East Indian commercial treaties.
The Dutch shipping agreement?
KING (_enjoying their curiosity_).
Something of that nature. Good morning, gentlemen.
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_.]
They've gone. At last I have a moment to myself. [EVERSMANN _comes in_.]
I am supremely happy.
My respectful congratulations.
Thankee-now just imagine--oh, yes--no. [_Aside_.] No one must know of
Did Your Majesty intend to--
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?
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?
Is Your Majesty going to all this trouble on his account?
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.
But, Your Majesty, I haven't asked any questions yet.
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?
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_.]
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!
[_A lackey comes in, announces_.]
His Highness the Prince Hereditary of Baireuth.
Pleased to receive him.
[_The lackey goes out and the_ PRINCE _comes in_.]
Are these old crosspatch's apartments? [_To the_ KING.] That's the
King's study in there, isn't it?
Yes--at your service.
Go in and announce me. I'm the Prince of Baireuth.
KING (_surprised, aside_).
What does he take me for?
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?
Then Your Highness--wishes to speak to--to the King of Prussia?
You heard me say so, did you not? Announce me.
At once, Your Highness. [_Turns to go_.]
Is this the way to go into your master's presence? In your
I'm--I'm on a very confidential footing with the King. [_He goes out_.]
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