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The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann - Volume I
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THE DRAMATIC WORKS

OF

GERHART HAUPTMANN

(Authorized Edition)



Edited By LUDWIG LEWISOHN

Assistant Professor in The Ohio State University



VOLUME ONE: SOCIAL DRAMAS

1912



PREFACE

The present edition of Hauptmann's works contains all of his plays with the exception of a few inconsiderable fragments and the historical drama Florian Geyer. The latter has been excluded by reason of its great length, its divergence from the characteristic moods of Hauptmann's art, and that failure of high success which the author himself has implicitly acknowledged. The arrangement of the volumes follows, with such modifications as the increase of material has made necessary, the method used by Hauptmann in the first and hitherto the only collected edition of his dramas. Five plays are presented here which that edition did not include, and hence the present collection gives the completest view now attainable of Hauptmann's activity as a dramatist.

The translation of the plays, seven of which are written entirely in dialect, offered a problem of unusual difficulty. The easiest solution, that namely, of rendering the speech of the Silesian peasants or the Berlin populace into some existing dialect of English, I was forced to reject at once. A very definite set of associative values would thus have been gained for the language of Hauptmann's characters, but of values radically different from those suggested in the original. I found it necessary, therefore, to invent a dialect near enough to the English of the common people to convince the reader or spectator, yet not so near to the usage of any class or locality as to interpose between him and Hauptmann's characters an Irish or a Cockney, a Southern or a New England atmosphere. Into this dialect, with which the work of my collaborators has been made to conform, I have sought to render as justly and as exactly as possible the intensely idiomatic speech that Hauptmann employs. In doing this I have had to take occasional liberties with my text, but I have tried to reduce these to a minimum, and always to make them serve a closer interpretation of the original shade of thought or turn of expression. The rendering of the plays written in normal literary prose or verse needs no such explanation nor the plea for a measure of critical indulgence which that explanation implies.

I owe hearty thanks to Dr. Hauptmann for the promptness and cordiality with which he has either rectified or confirmed my view of the development and meaning of his thought and art as stated in the Introduction, and to my wife for faithful assistance in the preparation of these volumes.

LUDWIG LEWISOHN.

COLUMBUS, O., June, 1912.



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION By the Editor.

BEFORE DAWN (Vor Sonnenaufgang) Translated by the Editor.

THE WEAVERS (Die Weber) Translated by Mary Morison.

THE BEAVER COAT (Der Biberpelz) Translated by the Editor.

THE CONFLAGRATION (Der rote Hahn) Translated by the Editor.



INTRODUCTION

I

Gerhart Hauptmann, the most distinguished of modern German dramatists, was born in the Silesian village of Obersalzbrunn on November 15, 1862. By descent he springs immediately from the common people of his native province to whose life he has so often given the graveness of tragedy and the permanence of literature. His grandfather, Ehrenfried, felt in his own person the bitter fate of the Silesian weavers and only through energy and good fortune was enabled to change his trade to that of a waiter. By 1824 he was an independent inn-keeper and was followed in the same business by the poet's father, Robert Hauptmann. The latter, a man of solid and not uncultivated understanding, married Marie Straehler, daughter of one of the fervent Moravian households of Silesia, and had become, when his sons Carl and Gerhart were born, the proprietor of a well-known and prosperous hotel, Zur Preussischen Krone.

From the village-school of Obersalzbrunn, where he was but an idle pupil, Gerhart was sent in 1874 to the Realschule at Breslau. Here, in the company of his older brothers, Carl and Georg, the lad remained for nearly four years, having impressed his teachers most strongly, it appears, by a lack of attention. For this reason, but also perhaps because his father, injured by competitors and by a change in local conditions, had lost his independence, Gerhart was withdrawn from school in 1878. He was next to become a farmer and, to this end, was placed in the pious family of an uncle. Gradually, however, artistic impulses began to disengage themselves—he had long modelled in a desultory way—and in October, 1880, at the advice of his maturer brother Carl Hauptmann proceeded to Breslau and was enrolled as a student in the Royal College of Art.

The value of this restless shifting in his early years is apparent. For the discontent that marked his unquiet youth made for a firm retention of impressions. Observation, in the saying of Balzac, springs from suffering, and Hauptmann saw the Silesian country-folk and the artists of Breslau with an almost morbid exactness of vision. Actual conflict sharpened his insight. Three weeks after entering the art-school he received a disciplinary warning and early in 1881 he was rusticated for eleven weeks. Nevertheless he remained in Breslau until April, 1882, when he joined his brother Carl and became a special student at the University of Jena. Here he heard lectures by Liebmann, Eucken and Haeckel. But the academic life did not hold him long. Scarcely a year passed and Hauptmann is found at Hamburg, the guest of his future parents-in-law and his brother's. Thence he set out on an Italian journey, travelling by way of Spain and the South of France to Genoa, and visiting Naples, Capri and Rome. Although his delight in these places was diminished by his keen social consciousness, he returned to Italy the following year (1884) and, for a time, had a sculptor's studio in Rome. Overtaken here by typhoid fever, he was nursed back to health by his future wife, Marie Thienemann, and returned to Germany to gather strength at the Thienemann country house.

So far, sculpture had held him primarily; it was now that the poetic impulse asserted itself. Seeking a synthesis of these tendencies in a third art, Hauptmann determined, for a time, to adopt the calling of an actor. To this end he went to Berlin. Here, however, the interest in literature soon grew to dominate every other and, in 1885, the year of his marriage to Fraulein Thienemann, he published his first work: Promethidenlos.

The poem is romantic and amorphous and gives but the faintest promise of the masterly handling of verse to be found in The Sunken Bell and Henry of Aue. Its interest resides solely in its confirmation of the facts of Hauptmann's development. For the hero of Promethidenlos vacillates between poetry and sculpture, but is able to give himself freely to neither art because of his overwhelming sense of social injustice and human suffering. And this, in brief, was the state of Hauptmann's mind when, in the autumn of 1885, he settled with his young wife in the Berlin suburb of Erkner.

The years of his residence here are memorable and have already become the subject of study and investigation. And rightly so; for during this time there took place that impact of the many obscure tendencies of the age upon the most sensitive and gifted of German minds from which sprang the naturalistic movement. That movement dominated literature for a few years. Then, in Hauptmann's own temper and in his own work, arose a vigorous idealistic reaction which, blending with the severe technique and incorruptible observation of naturalism, went far toward producing—for a second time—a new vision and a new art. The conditions amid which this development originated are essential to a full understanding of Hauptmann's work.



II

At the end of the Franco-Prussian war, united Germany looked forward to a literary movement commensurate with her new greatness. That movement did not appear. It was forgotten that men in the maturity of their years and powers could not suddenly change character and method and that the rise of a new generation was needed. So soon, however, as the first members of that generation became articulate, a bitter and almost merciless warfare arose in literature and in the drama. The brothers Heinrich and Julius Hart, vigorous in both critical and creative activity, asserted as early as 1882 that German literature was then, at its best, the faint imitation of an outworn classicism, and the German drama a transference of the basest French models. It is easy to see to-day that their view was partisan and narrow. Neither Wilbrandt and Heyse, on the one hand, nor Lindau and L'Arronge, on the other, represented the whole literary activity of the empire. It is equally easy, however, to understand their impatience with a literature which, upon the whole, lacked any breath of greatness, and handled the stuff of human life with so little freshness, incisiveness and truth.

What direction was the new literature to take? The decisive influence was, almost necessarily, that of the naturalistic writers of France. For the tendencies of these men coincided with Germany's growing interest in science and growing rejection of traditional religion and philosophy. Tolstoi, Ibsen and Strindberg each contributed his share to the movement. But all the young critics of the eighties fought the battles of Zola with him and repeated, sometimes word for word, the memorable creed of French naturalism formulated long before by the Goncourt brothers: "The modern—everything for the artist is there: in the sensation, the intuition of the contemporary, of this spectacle of life with which one rubs elbows!" Such, with whatever later developments, was the central doctrine of young Germany in the eighties; such the belief that gradually expressed itself in a number of definite organisations and publications.

The most noteworthy of these, prior to the founding of the Freie Buehne, were the magazine Die Gesellschaft (1885), edited by Michael Conrad, the most ardent of German Zolaists, and the society Durch (1886), in which the revolutionary spirits of Berlin united to promulgate the art canons of the future. "Literature and criticism," Conrad declared, must first of all be "liberated from the tyranny of the conventional young lady:" the programme of Durch announced that the poet must give creative embodiment to the life of the present, that he shall show us human beings of flesh and blood and depict their passions with implacable fidelity; that the ideal of art was no longer the Antique, but the Modern. Nor was there wanting creative activity in the spirit of these views. Franzos and Kretzer, to name but a few, originated the modern realistic novel in Germany, and Liliencron brought back vigour and concreteness to the lyric.

Into the tense atmosphere of this literary battle Hauptmann was cast when he took up his residence at Erkner. The house he occupied was the last in the village, half buried in woods and with far prospects over the heaths and deep green, melancholy waters of Brandenburg. Hither came, among many others, the brothers Hart, the novelist Kretzer, Wilhelm Boelsche, the inexhaustible prophet of the new science and the new art, and finally, the founder of German naturalism as distinguished from that of France—Arno Holz, The efforts of all these men harmonised with Hauptmann's mood. Naturalistic art goes for its subject matter to the forgotten and disinherited of the earth, and it was with these that Hauptmann was primarily concerned. He read Darwin and Karl Marx, Saint-Simon and Zola. He was absorbed not by any problem of art but by the being and fate of humanity itself.

Under these influences and governed by such thoughts, he began his career as a man of letters anew. But his progress was slow and uncertain. In 1887 he published in Conrad's Gesellschaft an episodic story, Bahnwaerter Thiel, weak in narrative technique and obviously inspired by Zola. Even the sudden expansion of human characters into demonic symbols of their ruling passions is imitated. The medium clearly irked him and gave him no opportunity for personal expression. For many months his activity was tentative and fruitless. Early in 1889, however, Arno Holz, known until then only by a volume of brave and resonant verse, visited Erkner and brought with him his theory of "consistent naturalism" as illustrated by Papa Hamlet and Die Familie Selicke, sketches and a drama in manuscript. This meeting gave Hauptmann one of those illuminating technical hints which every creative artist knows. It brought him an immediate method such as neither Tolstoi nor Dostoievsky had been able to bring, and decided him for naturalism and for the drama. He had found himself at last. During a visit to his parents he gave himself up to intense labour and returned to Berlin in the spring of 1889 with his first drama, Before Dawn, completed.

The play might have waited indefinitely for performance, had not Otto Brahm and Paul Schlenther, both critical thinkers of some significance, founded the free stage society (Freie Buehne) earlier in the same year. It was the aim of this society to give at least eight annual performances in the city of Berlin which should be wholly free from the influence of the censor and from the pressure of economic needs. The greater number of the first series of performances had already been prepared for by a selection of foreign plays—Tolstoi, Goncourt, Ibsen, Bjoernsen, Strindberg—when, at the last moment, a young German dramatist presented himself and succeeded in having his play accepted. Thus the society, long since dead, had the good fortune of fulfilling the function for which it was created: it launched the naturalistic movement; it cradled the modern drama of Germany.

The first performance of Before Dawn (Oct. 20, 1889) was tumultuous. It recalled the famous Hernani battle of French romanticism. But the victory of Hauptmann was not long in doubt. With his third play he conquered the national stage of which he has since been, with whatever variations of immediate success, the undisputed master.



III

The "consistent naturalism" of Holz and his collaborator Johannes Schlaf is the technical foundation of Hauptmann's work. He has long transcended its narrow theory and the shallow positivism on which it was based. It discarded verse and he has written great verse; it banished the past from art and he has gone to legend and history for his subjects; it forbade the use of symbols and he has, at times, made an approach to his meaning unnecessarily difficult. But Hauptmann has never quite abandoned the practice of that form of art which resulted from the theories of Holz. From history and poetry he has always returned to the naturalistic drama. Rose Bernd follows Henry of Aue, and Griselda immediately preceded The Rats. Nor is this all. The methods of naturalism have followed him into the domains of poetry and of the past. His verse is scrupulously devoid of rhetoric; the psychology of his historic plays is sober and human. Hence it is clear that an analysis of the consistent naturalism of German literature is, with whatever modifications, an analysis of Hauptmann's work in its totality. Like nearly all the greater dramatists he had his forerunners and his prophets: he proceeds from a school of art and thought which, even in transcending, he illustrates.

The consistent naturalists, then, aimed not to found a new art but, in any traditional sense, to abandon it. They desired to reduce the conventions of technique to a minimum and to eliminate the writer's personality even where Zola had admitted its necessary presence—in the choice of subject and in form. For style, the very religion of the French naturalistic masters, there was held to be no place, since there was to be, in this new literature, neither direct exposition, however impersonal, nor narrative. In other words, none of the means of representation were to be used by which art achieves the illusion of life; since art, in fact, was no longer to create the illusion of reality, but to be reality. The founders of the school would have admitted that the French had done much by the elimination of intrigue and a liberal choice of theme. They would still have seen—and rightly according to their premises—creative vision and not truth even in the oppressive pathology of Germinie Lacerteux and the morbid brutalities of La Terre. The opinion of Flaubert that any subject suffices, if the treatment be excellent, was modified into: there must be neither intentional choice of theme nor stylistic treatment. For style supposes rearrangement, personal vision, unjust selection of detail, and literature must be an exact rendition of the actual.

Stated so baldly the doctrine of consistent naturalism verges on the absurd. Eliminate selection of detail and personal vision, and art becomes not only coextensive with life, but shares its confusion and its apparent purposelessness. It loses all interpretative power and ceases to be art. Practically, however, the doctrine led to a very definite form—the naturalistic drama. For, if all indirect treatment of life be discarded, nothing is left but the recording of speech and, if possible, of speech actually overheard. The juxtaposition of such blocks of scrupulously rendered conversation constitutes, in fact, the earliest experiments of Arno Holz. Under the creative energy of Hauptmann, however, the form at once grew into drama, but a drama which sought to rely as little as possible upon the traditional devices of dramaturgic technique. There was to be no implication of plot, no culmination of the resulting struggle in effective scenes, no superior articulateness on the part of the characters. A succession of simple scenes was to present a section of life without rearrangement or heightening. There could be no artistic beginning, for life comes shadowy from life; there could be no artistic ending, for the play of life ends only in eternity.

The development of the drama in such a direction had, of course, been foreshadowed. The plays of Ibsen's middle period tend to a simpler rendering of life, and the cold intellect of Strindberg had rejected the "symmetrical dialogue" of the French drama in order "to let the brains of men work unhindered." But Hauptmann carries the same methods extraordinarily far and achieves a poignant verisimilitude that rivals the pity and terror of the most memorable drama of the past.

These methods lead, naturally, to the exclusion of several devices. Thus Hauptmann, like Ibsen and Shaw, avoids the division of acts into scenes. The coming and going of characters has the unobtrusiveness but seldom violated in life, and the inevitable artifices are held within rigid bounds. In some of his earlier dramas he also observed the unities of time and place, and throughout his work practices a close economy in these respects. It goes without saying that he rejects the monologue, the unnatural reading of letters, the raisonneur or commenting and providential character, the lightly motivised confession—all the devices, in brief, by which the conventional playwright blandly transports information across the footlights, or unravels the artificial knot which he has tied.

In dialogue, the medium of the drama, Hauptmann shows the highest originality and power. Beside the speech of his characters all other dramatic speech, that of Ibsen, of Tolstoi in The Power of Darkness, or of Pinero, seems conscious and unhuman. Nor is that power a mere control of dialect. Johannes Vockerat and Michael Kramer, Dr. Scholz and Professor Crampton speak with a human raciness and native truth not surpassed by the weavers or peasants of Silesia. Hauptmann has heard the inflections of the human voice, the faltering and fugitive eloquence of the living word not only with his ear but with his soul.

External devices necessarily contribute to this effect. Thus Hauptmann renders all dialect with phonetic accuracy and correct differentiation. In Before Dawn, Hoffmann, Loth, Dr. Schimmelpfennig and Helen speak normal High German; all the other characters speak Silesian except the imported footman Edward, who uses the Berlin dialect. In The Beaver Coat the various gradations of that dialect are scrupulously set down, from the impudent vulgarity of Leontine and Adelaide, to the occasional consonantal slips of Wehrhahn. The egregious Mrs. Wolff, in the same play, cannot deny her Silesian origin. Far finer shades of character are indicated by the amiable elisions of Mrs. Vockerat Senior in Lonely Lives, the recurrent crassness of Mrs. Scholz in The Reconciliation, and the solemn reiterations of Michael Kramer. Nor must it be thought that such characterisation has anything in common with the set phrases of Dickens. From the richness and variety of German colloquial speech, from the deep brooding of the German soul over the common things and the enduring emotions of life, Hauptmann has caught the authentic accents that change dramatic dialogue into the speech of man.



IV

In the structure of his drama Hauptmann met and solved an even more difficult problem than in the character of his dialogue. The whole tradition of structural technique rests upon a more or less arbitrary rearrangement of life. Othello, the noblest of tragedies, no less than the most trivial French farce, depends for the continuity of its mere action on an improbable artifice. Desdemona's handkerchief may almost be taken to symbolise that element in the drama which Hauptmann studiously denies himself. And he does so by reason of his more intimate contact with the normal truth of things. In life, for instance, the conflict of will with will, the passionate crises of human existence are but rarely concentrated into a brief space of time or culminate in a highly salient situation. Long and wearing attrition, and crises that are seen to have been such only in the retrospect of calmer years are the rule. In so telling a bit of dramatic writing as the final scene in Augier's Le gendre de M. Poirier the material of life has been dissected into mere shreds and these have been rewoven into a pattern as little akin to reality as the flowers and birds of a Persian rug. Instead of such effective rearrangement Hauptmann contents himself with the austere simplicity of that succession of action which observation really affords. He shapes his material as little as possible. The intrusion of a new force into a given setting, as in Lonely Lives, is as violent an interference with the sober course of things as he admits. From his noblest successes, The Weavers, Drayman Henschel, Michael Kramer, the artifice of complication is wholly absent.

It follows that his fables are simple and devoid of plot, that comedy and tragedy must inhere in character and that conflict must grow from the clash of character with environment or of character with character in its totality. In other words: since the adventurous and unwonted are rigidly excluded, dramatic complication can but rarely, with Hauptmann, proceed from action. For the life of man is woven of "little, nameless, unremembered acts" which possess no significance except as they illustrate character and thus, link by link, forge that fate which is identical with character. The constant and bitter conflict in the world does not arise from pointed and opposed notions of honour and duty held at some rare climacteric moment, but from the far more tragic grinding of a hostile environment upon man or of the imprisonment of alien souls in the cage of some social bondage.

These two motives, appearing sometimes singly, sometimes blended, are fundamental to Hauptmann's work. In The Reconciliation an unnatural marriage has brought discord and depravity upon earth; in Lonely Lives a seeker after truth is throttled by a murky world; in The Weavers the whole organization of society drives men to tragic despair; in Colleague Crampton a cold blooded woman all but destroys the gentle-hearted painter; in The Beaver Coat the motive is ironically inverted and a base shrewdness triumphs over the stupid social machine; in Rose Bernd traditional righteousness hounds a pure spirit out of life; and in Gabriel Schilling's Flight, his latest play, Hauptmann returns to a favourite motive: woman, strong through the narrowness and intensity of her elemental aims, destroying man, the thinker and dreamer, whose will, dissipated in a hundred ideal purposes, goes under in the unequal struggle.

The fable and structure of Michael Kramer illustrate Hauptmann's typical themes and methods well. The whole of the first act is exposition. It is not, however, the exposition of antecedent actions or events, but wholly of character. The conditions of the play are entirely static. Kramer's greatness of soul broods over the whole act. Mrs. Kramer, the narrow-minded, nagging wife, and Arnold, the homely, wretched boy with a spark of genius, quail under it. Michaline, the brave, whole-hearted girl, stands among these, pitying and comprehending all. In the second act one of Arnold's sordid and piteous mistakes comes to light. An inn-keeper's daughter complains to Kramer of his son's grotesque and annoyingly expressed passion for her. Kramer takes his son to task and, in one of the noblest scenes in the modern drama, wrestles with the boy's soul. In the third act the inn is shown. Its rowdy, semi-educated habitues deride Arnold with coarse gibes. He cannot tear himself away. Madly sensitive and conscious of his final superiority over a world that crushes him by its merely brutal advantages, he is goaded to self-destruction. In the last act, in the presence of his dead son, Michael Kramer cries out after some reconciliation with the silent universe. The play is done and nothing has happened. The only action is Arnold's suicide and that action has no dramatic value. The significance of the play lies in the unequal marriage between Kramer and his wife, in Arnold's character—in the fact that such things are, and that in our outlook upon the whole of life we must reckon with them.

Hauptmann's simple management of a pregnant fable may be admirably observed, finally, by comparing Lonely Lives and Rosmersholm. Hauptmann was undoubtedly indebted to Ibsen for his problem and for the main elements of the story: a modern thinker is overcome by the orthodox and conservative world in which he lives. And that world conquers largely because he cannot be united to the woman who is his inspiration and his strength. In handling this fable two difficult questions were to be answered by the craftsman: by what means does the hostile environment crush the protagonist? Why cannot he take the saving hand that is held out to him? Ibsen practically shirks the answer to the first question. For it is not the bitter zealot Kroll, despite his newspaper war and his scandal-mongering, who breaks Rosmer's strength. It is fate, fate in the dark and ancient sense. "The dead cling to Rosmersholm"—that is the keynote of the play. The answer to the second question is interwoven with an attempt to rationalise the fatality that broods over Rosmersholm. The dead cling to it because a subtle and nameless wrong has been committed against them. And that sin has been committed by the woman who could save Rosmer. At the end of the second act Rebecca refuses to be his wife. The reason for that refusal, dimly prefigured, absorbs his thoughts, and through two acts of consummate dramaturgic suspense the sombre history is gradually unfolded. And no vague phrases concerning the ennobling of humanity can conceal the central fact: the play derives its power from a traditional plot and a conventional if sound motive—crime and its discovery, sin and its retribution.

In Lonely Lives the two questions apparently treated in Rosmersholm are answered, not in the terms of effective dramaturgy, but of life itself. Johannes Vockerat lives in the midst of the world that must undo him—subtly irritated by all to which his heart clings. Out of that world he has grown and he cannot liberate himself from it. His good wife and his admirable parents are bound to the conventional in no base or fanatical sense. He dare scarcely tell them that their preoccupations, that their very love, slay the ideal in his soul. And so the pitiless attrition goes on. There is no action: there is being. The struggle is rooted in the deep divisions of men's souls, not in unwonted crime or plotting. And Anna Mahr, the free woman of a freer world, parts from Johannes because she recognises their human unfitness to take up the burden of tragic sorrow which any union between them must create. The time for such things has not come, and may never come. Thus Johannes is left desolate, powerless to face the unendurable emptiness and decay that lie before him, destroyed by the conflicting loyalties to personal and ideal ends which are fundamental to the life of creative thought.



V

Drama, then, which relies so little upon external action, but finds action rather in "every inner conflict of passions, every consequence of diverging thoughts," must stress the obscurest expression of such passions and such thoughts. Since its fables, furthermore, are to arise from the immediate data of life, it must equally emphasise the significant factor of those common things amid which man passes his struggle. And so the naturalistic drama was forced to introduce elements of narrative and exposition usually held alien to the genre. Briefly, it has dealt largely and powerfully with atmosphere, environment and gesture; it has expanded and refined the stage-direction beyond all precedent and made of it an important element in dramatic art.

The playwrights of the middle of the last century who made an effort to lead the drama back to reality, knew nothing of this element. Augier does not even suspect its existence; in Robertson it is a matter of "properties" and "business." Any appearance of this kind Hauptmann avoids. The play is not to remind us of the stage, but of life. A difference in vision and method difficult to estimate divides Robertson's direction: "Sam. (astonished L. corner)" from Hauptmann's "Mrs. John rises mechanically and cuts a slice from a loaf of bread, as though under the influence of suggestion." Robertson indicates the conventionalised gesture of life; Hauptmann its moral and spiritual density.

The descriptive stage direction, effectively used by Ibsen, is further expanded by Hauptmann. But it remains impersonal and never becomes direct comment or even argument as in Shaw. It is used not only to suggest the scene but, above all, its atmosphere, its mood. Through it Hauptmann shows his keen sense of the interaction of man and his world and of the high moral expressiveness of common things. To define the mood more clearly he indicates the hour and the weather. The action of Rose Bernd opens on a bright Sunday morning in May, that of Drayman Henschel during a bleak February dawn. The desperate souls in The Reconciliation meet on a snow-swept Christmas Eve; the sun has just set over the lake in which Johannes Vockerat finds final peace. In these indications Hauptmann rarely aims at either irony or symbolism. He is guided by a sense for the probabilities of life which he expresses through such interactions between the moods of man and nature as experience seems to offer. Only in The Maidens of the Mount has the suave autumnal weather a deeper meaning, for it was clearly Hauptmann's purpose in this play

"To build a shadowy isle of bliss Midmost the beating of the steely sea."

Hauptmann has also become increasingly exacting in demanding that the actor simulate the personal appearance of his characters as they arose in his imagination. In his earlier plays the descriptions of men and women are at times brief; in The Rats even minor figures are visualised with remarkable completeness. Pastor Spitta, for instance, is thus introduced: "Sixty years old. A village parson, somewhat 'countrified.' One might equally well take him to be a surveyor or a landowner in a small way. He is of vigorous appearance—short-necked, well-nourished, with a squat, broad face like Luther's. He wears a slouch hat, spectacles, and carries a cane and a coat over his arm. His clumsy boots and the state of his other garments show that they have long been accustomed to wind and weather." Such directions obviously tax the mimetic art of the stage to the very verge of its power. Thus, by the precision of his directions both for the scenery and the persons of each play, and by unmistakable indications of gesture and expression at all decisive moments of dramatic action, Hauptmann has placed within narrow limits the activity of both stage manager and actor. He alone is the creator of his drama, and no alien factitiousness is allowed to obscure its final aim—the creation of living men.



VI

In the third act of Hauptmann's latest naturalistic play, The Rats (1911), the ex-stage manager Hassenrenter is drawn by his pupil, young Spitta, into an argument on the nature of tragedy. "Of the heights of humanity you know nothing," Hassenrenter hotly declares. "You asserted the other day that in certain circumstances a barber or a scrubwoman could as fitly be the subject of tragedy as Lady Macbeth or King Lear." And Spitta reaffirms his heresy in the sentence: "Before art as before the law all men are equal." From this doctrine Hauptmann has never departed, although his interpretation of it has not been fanatical. Throughout his work, however, there is a careful disregard of several classes of his countrymen: the nobility, the bureaucracy (with the notable exception of Wehrhahn in The Beaver Coat), the capitalists. He has devoted himself in his prose plays to the life of the common people, of the middle classes, and of creative thinkers.

The delineation of all these characters has two constant qualities: objectivity and justice. The author has not merged the sharp outlines of humanity into the background of his own idiosyncrasy. Ibsen's characters speak and act as though they had suddenly stepped from another world and were still haunted by a breath of their strange doom; the people of Shaw are often eloquent exponents of a theory of character and society which would never have entered their minds. Hauptmann's men and women are themselves. No trick of speech, no lurking similarity of thought unites them. The nearer any two of them tend to approach a recognisable type, the more magnificently is the individuality of each vindicated. The elderly middle-class woman, harassed by ignoble cares ignobly borne, driven by a lack of fortitude into querulousness, and into injustice by the selfishness of her affections, is illustrated both in Mrs. Scholz and Mrs. Kramer. But, in the former, bodily suffering and nervous terror have slackened the moral fibre, and this abnormality speaks in every word and gesture. Mrs. Kramer is simply average, with the tenacity and the corroding power of the average.

Another noteworthy group is that of the three Lutheran clergymen: Kolin in Lonely Lives, Kittelhaus in The Weavers, and Spitta in The Rats. Kolin has the utter sincerity which can afford to be trivial and not cease to be lovable; Kittelhaus is the conscious time-server whose opinions might be anything; Spitta struggles for his official convictions, half blinded by the allurements of a world which it is his duty to denounce. Each is wholly himself; no hint of critical irony defaces his character; and thus each is able, implicitly, to put his case with the power inherent in the genuinely and recognisably human. From the same class of temperaments—one that he does not love—Hauptmann has had the justice to draw two characters of basic importance in Lonely Lives. The elder Vockerats are excessively limited in their outlook upon life. It is, indeed, in its time and place, an impossible outlook. These two people have nothing to recommend them save their goodness, but it is a goodness so keenly felt, so radiantly human, that the conflict of the play is deepened and complicated by the question whether the real tragedy be not the pain felt by these kindly hearts, rather than the destruction of their more arduous son.

All these may be said to be minor characters. Some of them are, in that they scarcely affect the fable involved. But in no other sense are there minor figures in Hauptmann's plays. A few lines suffice, and a human being stands squarely upon the living earth, with all his mortal perplexities in his words and voice. Such characters are the tutor Weinhold in The Weavers, the painter Lachmann in Michael Kramer, Dr. Boxer in The Conflagration and Dr. Schimmelpfennig in Before Dawn.

In his artists and thinkers Hauptmann has illustrated the excessive nervousness of the age. Michael Kramer rises above it; Johannes Vockerat and Gabriel Schilling succumb. And beside these men there usually arises the sharply realised figure of the destroying woman—innocent and helpless in Kaethe Vockerat, trivial and obtuse in Alwine Lachmann, or impelled by a devouring sexual egotism in Eveline Schilling and Hanna Elias.

Hauptmann's creative power culminates, however, as he approaches the common folk. These are of two kinds: the Berlin populace and the Silesian peasants. The world of the former in all its shrewdness, impudence and varied lusts he has set down with quiet and cruel exactness in The Beaver Coat and The Conflagration. Mrs. Wolff, the protagonist of both plays, rises into a figure of epic breadth—a sordid and finally almost tragic embodiment of worldliness and cunning. When he approaches the peasants of his own countryside his touch is less hard, his method not quite so remorseless. And thus, perhaps, it comes about that in the face of these characters the art of criticism can only set down a confirmatory: "They are!" Old Deans in The Heart of Midlothian, Tulliver and the Dodson sisters in The Mill on the Floss illustrate the nature of Hauptmann's incomparable projection of simple men and women. Here, in Dryden's phrase, is God's plenty: the morose pathos of Beipst (Before Dawn); the vanity and faithfulness of Friebe (The Reconciliation); the sad fatalism of Hauffe (Drayman Henschel); the instinctive kindliness of the nurse and the humorous fortitude of Mrs. Lehmann (Lonely Lives); the vulgar good nature of Liese Baensch (Michael Kramer); the trivial despair of Pauline and the primitive passion of Mrs. John (The Rats); the massive greatness of old Hilse's rock-like patience and the sudden impassioned protest of Luise (The Weavers); the deep trouble of Henschel's simple soul and the hunted purity of Rose Bernd—these qualities and these characters transcend the convincingness of mere art. Like the rain drenched mould, the black trees against the sky, the noise of the earth's waters, they are among the abiding elements of a native and familiar world.



VII

Such, then, is the naturalistic drama of Hauptmann. By employing the real speech of man, by emphasising being rather than action, by creating the very atmosphere and gesture of life, it succeeds in presenting characters whose vital truth achieves the intellectual beauty and moral energy of great art.

Early in his career, however, an older impulse stirred in Hauptmann. He remembered that he was a poet. Pledged to naturalism by personal loyalty and public combat he broke through its self-set limitations tentatively and invented for that purpose the dream-technique of The Assumption of Hannele(1893). Pure imagination was outlawed in those years and verse was a pet aversion of the consistent naturalists. Hence both were transferred to the world of dreams which has an unquestionable reality, however subjective, but in which the will cannot govern the shaping faculties of the soul. The letter of the naturalistic law was adhered to, though Hannele's visions have a richness and sweetness, the verses of the angels a winsomeness and majesty which transcend any possible dream of the poor peasant child, The external encouragement which the attempt met was great, for with it Hauptmann conquered the Royal Playhouse in Berlin.

Three years later he openly vindicated the possibility of the modern poetic drama by writing The Sunken Bell, his most far-reaching success both on the stage and in the study. In it appears for the first time the disciplinary effect of naturalism upon literature in its loftiest mood. The blank verse is the best in the German drama, the only German blank verse, in truth, that satisfies an ear trained on the graver and more flexible harmony of English; the lyrical portions are of sufficient if inferior beauty. But there is no trace of the pseudo-heroic psychology of the romantic play. The interpretation of life is thoroughly poetic, but it is based on fact. The characters have tangible reality; they have the idiosyncrasies of men. The pastor is profoundly true, and so is Magda, though the interpretative power of poetry raises both into the realm of the enduringly significant. Similarly Heinrich is himself, but also the creative worker of all time. Driven by his ideal from the warm hearthstones of men, he falters upon that frosty height: seeking to realise impersonal aims and rising to a hardy rapture, he is broken in strength at last by the "still, sad music of humanity."

Except for the half humorous and not wholly successful interlude of Schluck and Jau, Hauptmann neglected the poetic drama until 1902, when he presented on the boards of the famous Burgtheater at Vienna, Henry of Aue. There is little doubt but that this play will ultimately rank as the most satisfying poetic drama of its time. Less derivative and uncertain in quality than the plays of Stephen Phillips, less fantastic and externally brilliant than those of Rostand, it has a soundness of subject matter, a serene nobility of mood, a solidity of verse technique above the reach of either the French or the English poet. Hauptmann chose as his subject the legend known for nearly seven hundred years through the beautiful Middle High German poem of Hartmann von der Aue—the legend of that great knight and lord who was smitten with leprosy, and whom, according to the mediaeval belief, a pure maiden desired to heal through the shedding of her blood. But God, before the sacrifice could be consummated, cleansed the knight's body and permitted to him and the maiden a united temporal happiness. This story Hauptmann takes exactly as he finds it. But the characters are made to live with a new life. The stark mediaeval conventions are broken and the old legend becomes living truth. The maiden is changed from an infant saint fleeing a vale of tears into a girl in whom the first sweet passions of life blend into an exaltation half sexual and half religious, but pure with the purity of a great flame. The miracle too remains, but it is the miracle of love that subdues the despairing heart, that reconciles man to his universe, and that slays the imperiousness of self. Thus Henry, firmly individualised as he is, becomes in some sense, like all the greater protagonists of the drama, the spirit of man confronting eternal and recurrent problems. The minor figures—Gottfried, Brigitte, Ottacker—have the homely and delightful truth that is the gift of naturalism to modern, literature.

Hauptman's next play was a naturalistic tragedy, one of the best in that order, Rose Bernd. Then followed, from 1905 to 1910, a series of plays in which he let the creative imagination range over time and space. In Elga he tells the story of an old sorrow by means of the dream-technique of Hannele; in And Pippa Dances, he lets the flame of life and love flicker its iridescent glory before man and super-man, savage and artist; in The Maidens of the Mount he celebrates the dream of life which is life's dearest part; in Charlemagne's Hostage and in Griselda he returns to the interpretation and humanising of history and legend.

The last of these plays is the most characteristic and important. It takes up the old story of patient Grizzel which the Clerk of Oxford told Chaucer's pilgrims on the way to Canterbury. But a new motive animates the fable. Not to try her patience, not to edify womankind, does the count rob Griselda of her child. His burning and exclusive love is jealous of the pangs and triumphs of her motherhood in which he has no share. It is passion desiring the utter absorption of its object that gives rise to the tragic element of the story. But over the whole drama there plays a blithe and living air in which, once more, authentic human beings are seen with their smiling or earnest faces.

A stern and militant naturalistic drama, The Rats (1911), and yet another play of the undoing of the artist through the woman, Gabriel Schilling's Flight (1912), close, for the present, the tale of Hauptmann's dramatic works.



VIII

These works, viewed in their totality, take on a higher significance than resides in the literary power of any one of them. Hauptmann's career began in the years when the natural sciences, not content with their proper triumphs, threatened to engulf art, philosophy and religion; in the years when a keen and tender social consciousness, brooding over the temporal welfare of man, lost sight of his eternal good. And so Hauptmann begins by illustrating the laws of heredity and pleading, through a creative medium, for social justice. The tacit assumptions of these early plays are stringently positivistic: body and soul are the obverse and reverse of a single substance; earth is the boundary of man's hopes.

With The Assumption of Hannele a change comes over the spirit of his work. A thin, faint voice vibrates in that play—the voice of a soul yearning for a warmer ideal. But the rigorous teachers of Hauptmann's youth had graven their influence upon him, and the new faith announced by Heinrich in The Sunken Bell is still a kind of scientific paganism. In Michael Kramer (1900), however, he has definitely conquered the positivistic denial of the overwhelming reality of the ultimate problems. For it is after some solution of these that the great heart of Kramer cries out. In Henry of Aue the universe, no longer a harsh and monstrous mechanism, irradiates the human soul with the spirit of its own divinity. These utterances are, to be sure, dramatic and objective. But the author chooses his subject, determines the spirit of its treatment and thus speaks unmistakably.

Nor is directer utterance lacking, "The Green Gleam," Hauptmann writes in the delicately modelled prose of his Griechischer Fruehling, "the Green Gleam, which mariners assert to have witnessed at times, appears at the last moment before the sun dips below the horizon.... The ancients must have known the Green Gleam.... I do not know whether that be true, but I feel a longing within me to behold it. I can imagine some Pure Fool, whose life consisted but in seeking it over lands and seas, in order to perish at last in the radiance of that strange and splendid light. Are we not all, perhaps, upon a similar quest? Are we not beings who have exhausted the realm of the senses and are athirst for other delights for both our senses and our souls?" The author of Before Dawn has gone a long journey in the land of the spirit to the writing of these words, and of still others in Gabriel Schilling's Flight: "Behind this visible world another is hidden, so near at times that one might knock at its gate...." But it is the journey which man himself has gone upon during the intervening years.

Thus Hauptmann's work has not only created a new technique of the drama; it has not only added unforgettable figures to the world of the imagination: it has also mirrored and interpreted the intellectual history of its time. His art sums up an epoch—an epoch full of knowledge and the restraints of knowledge, still prone, so often, before the mechanical in life and thought; but throughout all its immedicable scepticism full of strange yearnings and visited by flickering dreams; and even in its darkest years and days still stretching out hands in love of a farther shore. Once more the great artist, his vision fixed primarily upon his art, has most powerfully interpreted man to his own mind.

LUDWIG LEWISOHN.



BEFORE DAWN



_The first performance of this drama took place on October 20 in the Lessing Theatre under the management of the Free Stage society. I take the occasion of the appearance of a new edition to express my hearty thanks to the directors of that society and, more especially, to Messrs. Otto Brahm and Paul Schlenther. May the future prove that, by defying petty considerations and by helping to give life to a work that had its origin in pure motives, they have deserved well of German art.

GERHART HAUPTMANN

Charlottenburg, October 20, 1889_



ACTING CHARACTERS

KRAUSE, Farmer.

MRS. KRAUSE, his second wife.

HELEN, MARTHA, KRAUSE'S daughters by his first marriage.

HOFFMANN, Engineer, MARTHA'S husband.

WILHELM KAHL, MRS. KRAUSE'S nephew.

MRS. SPILLER, MRS. KRAUSE'S companion.

ALFRED LOTH.

DR. SCHIMMELPFENNIG.

BEIPST, Workingman on KRAUSE'S farm.

GUSTE, LIESE, MARIE Maid-servants on KRAUSE'S farm.

BAER, called "Hopping Baer."

EDWARD, HOFFMANN'S servant.

MIELE, MRS. KRAUSE'S housemaid.

THE COACHMAN'S WIFE.

GOLISCH, a Cowherd.

A PACKET POST CARRIER.



THE FIRST ACT

The room is low: the floor is covered with excellent rugs. Modern luxury seems grafted upon the bareness of the peasant. On the wall, behind the dining-table, hangs a picture which represents a waggon with four horses driven by a carter in a blue blouse.

MIELE, a vigorous peasant girl with a red, rather slow-witted face, opens the middle door and permits ALFRED LOTH to enter. LOTH is of middle height, broad-shouldered, thick-set, decided but somewhat awkward in his movements. His hair is blond, his eyes blue, his small moustache thin and very light; his whole face is bony and has an equably serious expression. His clothes are neat but nothing less than fashionable: light summer overcoat, a wallet hanging from the shoulder; cane.

MIELE

Come in, please. I'll call Mr. Hoffmann right off. Won't you take a seat?

[The glass-door that leads to the conservatory is violently thrust open, and a peasant woman, her face bluish red with rage, bursts in. She is not much better dressed than a washerwoman: naked, red arms, blue cotton-skirt and bodice, red dotted kerchief. She is in the early forties; her face is hard, sensual, malignant. The whole figure is, otherwise, well preserved.

MRS. KRAUSE

[Screams.] The hussies!... That's right!... The vicious critters!... Out with you! We don't give nothin'!... [Half to MIELE, half to LOTH.] He can work, he's got arms. Get out! You don't get nothin' here!

LOTH

But Mrs.... Surely you will ... my name is Loth ... I am ... I'd like to ... I haven't the slightest in....

MIELE

He wants to speak to Mr. Hoffmann.

MRS. KRAUSE

Oho! beggin' from my son-in-law. We know that kind o' thing! He ain't got nothin'; everything he's got he gets from us. Nothin' is his'n.

[The door to the right is opened and HOFFMANN thrusts his head in.

HOFFMANN

Mother, I must really beg of you! [He enters and turns to LOTH.] What can I ... Alfred! Old man! Well, I'll be blessed. You? That certainly is ... well, that certainly is a great notion!

[HOFFMANN is thirty-three years old, slender, tall, thin. In his dress he affects the latest fashion, his hair is carefully tended; he wears costly rings, diamond-studs in his shirt-front and charms on his watch chain. His hair and moustache are black; the latter is luxurious and is most scrupulously cared for. His face is pointed, bird-like, the expression blurred, the eyes dark, lively, at times restless.

LOTH

It's by the merest accident, you know ...

HOFFMANN

[Excited.] Nothing pleasanter could have ... Do take your things off, first of all! [He tries to help him off with his wallet.]—Nothing pleasanter or more unexpected could possibly—[he has relieved LOTH of his hat and cane and places both on a chair near the door]—could possibly have happened to me just now—[coming back]—no, decidedly, nothing.

LOTH

[Taking off his wallet himself.] It's by the merest chance that I've come upon you.

[He places his wallet on the table in the foreground.

HOFFMANN

Sit down. You must be tired. Do sit down—please! D'you remember when you used to come to see me you had a way of throwing yourself full-length on the sofa so that the springs groaned. Sometimes they broke, too. Very well, then, old fellow. Do as you used to do.

[MRS. KRAUSE'S face has taken on an expression of great astonishment. She has withdrawn. LOTH sits down on one of the chairs that stand around the table in the foreground.

HOFFMANN

Won't you drink something? Whatever you say? Beer? Wine? Brandy? Coffee? Tea? Everything's in the house.

[HELEN comes reading from the conservatory. Her tall form, somewhat too plump, the arrangement of her blond, unusually luxuriant hair, the expression of her face, her modern gown, her gestures—in brief, her whole appearance cannot quite hide the peasant's daughter.

HELEN

Brother, you might.... [She discovers LOTH and withdraws quickly.] Oh, I beg pardon.

[Exit.

HOFFMANN

Stay here, do!

LOTH

Your wife?

HOFFMANN

No; her sister. Didn't you hear how she addressed me?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Good-looking, eh? But now, come on. Make up your mind. Coffee? Tea? Grog?

LOTH

No, nothing, thank you.

HOFFMANN

[Offers him cigars.] Here's something for you then. No!... Not even that?

LOTH

No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Enviable frugality! [He lights a cigar for himself and speaks the while.] The ashes ... I meant to say, tobacco ... h-m ... smoke of course ... doesn't bother you, does it?

LOTH

No.

HOFFMANN

Ah, if I didn't get that much ... Good Lord, life anyhow!—But now, do me a favour; tell me something. Ten years—you've hardly changed much, though—ten years, a nasty slice of time. How's Schn ... Schnurz? That's what we called him, eh? And Fips, and the whole jolly bunch of those days? Haven't you been able to keep your eye on any of them?

LOTH

Look here, is it possible you don't know?

HOFFMANN

What?

LOTH

That he shot himself.

HOFFMANN

Who? Who's done that sort o' thing again?

LOTH

Fips. Friedrich Hildebrandt.

HOFFMANN

Oh come, that's impossible.

LOTH

It's a fact. Shot himself in the Grunewald, on a very beautiful spot on the shore of the Havelsee. I was there. You have a view toward Spandau.

HOFFMANN

Hm. Wouldn't have believed it of him. He wasn't much of a hero in other ways.

LOTH

That's the very reason why he shot himself.—He was conscientious, very conscientious.

HOFFMANN

Conscientious? I don't see.

LOTH

That was the very reason ... otherwise he would probably not have done it.

HOFFMANN

I'm still in the dark.

LOTH

Well, you know what the colour of his political views was?

HOFFMANN

Oh, yes—green.

LOTH

Put it so, if you want to. You'll have to admit, at all events, that he was a very gifted fellow. And yet for five years he had to work as a stucco-worker, and for another five years he had to starve along, so to speak, on his own hook, and in addition he modelled his little statues.

HOFFMANN

And they were revolting. I want to be cheered by art ... No, that kind of art wasn't a bit to my taste.

LOTH

Not exactly to mine either. Certain ideas had bitten themselves into his mind. However, last spring there was a competition for a monument. Some two-penny princeling was to be immortalised, I believe. Fips competed and—won. Shortly afterward, he killed himself.

HOFFMANN

I don't see that that throws any ray of light on his so-called conscientiousness. I call that sort of thing silly and highfalutin.

LOTH

That is the common view.

HOFFMANN

I'm very sorry, but I'm afraid I can't help sharing it.

LOTH

Well, it can make no difference to him now, what....

HOFFMANN

Oh, anyhow, let's drop the subject. At bottom I'm just as sorry for him as you can be. But now that he is dead, the good fellow, tell me something of yourself. What have you been doing? How has the world used you?

LOTH

It has used me as it was my business to expect. Didn't you hear anything about me at all? From the papers, I mean?

HOFFMANN

[Somewhat embarrassed.] Not that I know of.

LOTH

Nothing of that business at Leipzig?

HOFFMANN

Ah, yes, that! Yes, yes ... I believe so ... but nothing definite.

LOTH

Well, then, the matter was as follows—

HOFFMANN

[Laying his hand on LOTH'S arm.] Before you begin, won't you take anything at all?

LOTH

Perhaps later.

HOFFMANN

Not even a little glass of brandy?

LOTH

No; that least of all.

HOFFMANN

Well, then I'll take a little ... There's nothing better for the stomach. [He gets a bottle and two little glasses from the sideboard and places them on the table before LOTH.] Grand champagne, finest brand. I can recommend it. Won't you really?

LOTH

No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

[Tilting the contents of the glass into his mouth.] Ah-h—well, now I'm all ears.

LOTH

To put it briefly, I got into a nasty mess.

HOFFMANN

The sentence was two years, wasn't it?

LOTH

Quite right. You seem to be informed after all. Yes, I was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and afterwards they expelled me from the university too. And at that time I was just—twenty-one. However, during those two years I wrote my first book on economics. In spite of that I couldn't truthfully say that it was very good fun to be behind the bars.

HOFFMANN

Lord, what idiots we were! It's queer. And we had really taken the thing into our heads in good earnest. I can't help thinking, old man, that it was sheer puerility. The idea! A dozen green kids like ourselves to go to America and found ... we found ... a model state. Delicious notion!

LOTH

Puerility? Ah well, in some ways no doubt it was. We certainly underestimated the difficulty of such an undertaking.

HOFFMANN

And that you really did go to America, in all seriousness, and with empty hands ... Why, think, man, what it means to acquire land and foundation for a model state with empty hands. That was almost cr ... At all events it was unique in its naivete.

LOTH

And yet I'm particularly satisfied with the result of my American trip.

HOFFMANN

[Laughing with a touch of boisterousness.] Cold water treatment. That was an excellent result, if that's what you mean....

LOTH

It may well be that I cooled down quite a little. But that process is hardly peculiar to myself. It is one which every human being undergoes. But it's a far cry from that to failing to realise the value of those ... well, let's call them, our hotheaded days. And it wasn't so frightfully simple-minded, as you represent it.

HOFFMANN

Well, I don't know about that.

LOTH

All you have to do is to think of the average silliness that surrounded us in those days: the fraternity goings on at the universities, the swilling, the duelling. And what was all the noise about? It was about Hecuba, as Fips used to say. Well, we at least, didn't make a fuss about Hecuba; we had our attention, fixed on the highest aims of humanity. And, in addition to that, those silly times cleared me thoroughly of all prejudices. I took my leave of sham religion and sham morality and a good deal else....

HOFFMANN

I'm perfectly prepared to admit that much. If, when all's said and done, I am an open-minded, enlightened man to-day, I owe it, as I wouldn't dream of denying, to the days of our intercourse! I am the last man to deny that. In fact I'm not in any respect a monster. Only you mustn't try to run your head through a stone wall.—You mustn't try to force out the evils under which, more's the pity, the present generation suffers, only to replace them by worse ones. What you've got to do is—to let things take their natural course. What is to be, will be! You've got to proceed practically, practically! And you will recall that I emphasised that just as much in those days as now. And that principle has paid. And that's just it. All of you, yourself included, proceed in a most unpractical way.

LOTH

I wish you'd explain just how you mean that.

HOFFMANN

It's as simple as ... You don't make use of your capabilities. Take yourself, for instance: a fellow with your knowledge, energy and what not! What road would have been closed to you? Instead of going ahead, what is it you do? You compromise yourself, at the very start, to such a degree, that ... well, honestly, old man, didn't you regret it once in a while?

LOTH

I can't very well regret the fact that I was condemned innocently.

HOFFMANN

As to that, of course, I can't judge.

LOTH

You will be able to do so at once when I tell you that the indictment declared that I had called our club, "Vancouver Island," into being purely for purposes of party agitation. In addition I was said to have collected funds for party purposes. Now you know very well that we were thoroughly in earnest in regard to our ambitions of founding a colony. And, as far as collecting money goes—you have said yourself that we were all empty-handed together. The indictment was a misrepresentation from beginning to end, and, as a former member, you ought to....

HOFFMANN

Hold on, now. I wasn't really a member. As to the rest, of course, I believe you. Judges are, after all, only human. You must consider that. In any event, to proceed quite practically, you should have avoided the very appearance of that sort of thing. Take it all in all: I have wondered at you often enough since then—editor of the Workingmen's Tribune, the obscurest of hole and corner sheets—parliamentary candidate of the dear mob! And what did you get out of it all? Don't misunderstand me! I am the last man to be lacking in sympathy with the common people. But if something is to be effected, it must be effected from above. In fact that's the only way in which anything can be done. The people never know what they really need. It's this trying to lift things from beneath that I call—running your head through a stone wall.

LOTH

I'm afraid I don't get a very clear notion of your drift.

HOFFMANN

What I mean? Well now, look at me! My hands are free: I am in a position to do something for an ideal end.—I think I can say that the practical part of my programme has been pretty well carried out. And all you fellows, always with empty hands—what can you do?

LOTH

True. From what one hears you are in a fair way to become a Rothschild.

HOFFMANN

[Flattered.] You do me too much honour—at least, for the present. Who said that, anyhow? A man sticks to a good thing, and that, naturally, brings its reward. But who was it said that?

LOTH

It was over there in Jauer. Two gentlemen were conversing at the next table.

HOFFMANN

Aha! H-m. I have enemies. And what did they have to say?

LOTH

Nothing of importance. But I heard from them that you had retired for the present to the estate of your parents-in-law.

HOFFMANN

People have a way of finding things out; haven't they? My dear friend, you'd never believe how a man in my position is spied on at every step. That's another one of the evils of wealth ... But it is this way, you see: I'm expecting the confinement of my wife in the quiet and the healthy air here.

LOTH

What do you do for a physician? Surely in such cases a good physician is of the highest importance. And here, in this village....

HOFFMANN

Ah, but that's just it! The physician here is an unusually capable one. And, do you know, I've found this out: in a doctor, conscientiousness counts for more than genius.

LOTH

Perhaps it is an essential concomitant of a physician's genius.

HOFFMANN

Maybe so. Anyhow, our doctor has a conscience. He's a bit of an idealist—more or less our kind. His success among the miners and the peasants is simply phenomenal! Sometimes, I must say, he isn't an easy man to bear, he's got a mixture of hardness and sentimentality. But, as I said before, I know how to value conscientiousness; no doubt about that. But before I forget ... I do attach some importance to it ... a man ought to know what he has to look out for ... Listen!... Tell me ... I see it in your face. Those gentlemen at the next table had nothing good to say of me? Tell me, please, what they did say.

LOTH

I really ought not to do that, for I was going to beg one hundred crowns of you, literally beg, for there is hardly any chance of my ever being able to return them.

HOFFMANN

[Draws a cheque-book from his inner pocket, makes out a cheque and hands it to LOTH.] Any branch of the Imperial Bank will cash it ... It's simply a pleasure....

LOTH

Your promptness surpasses all expectation. Well, I accept it with, gratitude, and you know—it could be worse spent.

HOFFMANN

[Somewhat rhetorically.] A labourer is worthy of his hire. But now, Loth, have the goodness to tell me what the gentlemen in question....

LOTH

I dare say they talked nonsense.

HOFFMANN

Tell me in spite of that, please. I'm simply interested, quite simply interested—that's all.

LOTH

They discussed the fact that you had violently forced another man out of his position here—a contractor named Mueller.

HOFFMANN

Of course! The same old story.

LOTH

The man, they said, was betrothed to your present wife.

HOFFMANN

So he was. And what else?

LOTH

I tell you these things just as I heard them, for I assume that it is of some importance to you to be acquainted with the exact nature of the slander.

HOFFMANN

Quite right. And so?

LOTH

So far as I could make out this Mueller was said to have had the contract for the construction of a stretch of mountain railroad here.

HOFFMANN

Yes, with a wretched capital of ten thousand crowns. When he came to see that the money wouldn't go far enough, he was in haste to make a catch of one of the Witzdorf farmers' daughters; the honour was to have fallen to my wife.

LOTH

They said that he had his arrangement with the daughter, and you had made yours with the father.—Next he shot himself, didn't he?—And you finished the construction of his section of the road and made a great deal of money out of it?

HOFFMANN

There's an element of truth in all that. Of course, I could give you a very different notion of how those things hung together. Perhaps they knew a few more of these edifying anecdotes.

LOTH

There was one thing, I am bound to tell you, that seemed to excite them particularly: they computed what an enormous business you were doing in coal now, and they called you—well, it wasn't exactly flattering. In short they asserted that you had persuaded the stupid farmers of the neighbourhood, over some champagne, to sign a contract by which the exploitation of all the coal mined on their property was turned over to you at a ridiculously small rental.

HOFFMANN

[Touched on the raw, gets up.] I'll tell you something, Loth ... Pshaw, why concern oneself with it at all. I vote that we think of supper. I'm savagely hungry—yes, quite savagely.

[He presses the button of an electric connection, the wire of which hangs down over the sofa in the form of a green cord. The ringing of an electric bell is heard.

LOTH

Well, if you want to keep me here, then have the kindness ... I'd like to brush up a bit first.

HOFFMANN

In a moment—everything that's necessary ... [EDWARD, a servant in livery, enters.] Edward, take this gentleman to the guest chamber.

EDWARD

Very, well, sir.

HOFFMANN

[Pressing LOTH'S hand.] I wonder if you'd mind coming down to supper in about fifteen minutes—at most.

LOTH

That's ample time. See you later.

HOFFMANN

Yes, see you later.

[EDWARD opens the door and lets LOTH precede him. Both go out. HOFFMANN scratches the back of his head, looks thoughtfully at the floor and then approaches the door at the right. He has just touched the knob when HELEN, who has entered hastily by the glass door, calls to him.

HELEN

Brother! Who was that?

HOFFMANN

That was one of my college chums, in fact, the oldest of them, Alfred Loth.

HELEN

[Quickly.] Has he gone again?

HOFFMANN

No; he's going to eat supper with us. Possibly ... yes, possibly he may spend the night here.

HELEN

Heavens! Then I shan't come to supper.

HOFFMANN

But Helen!

HELEN

What is the use of my meeting cultivated people! I might just as well get as boorish as all the rest here!

HOFFMANN

Oh, these eternal fancies! In fact you will do me a real favour if you will order the arrangements for supper. Be so kind. I'd like to have things a bit festive, because I believe that he has something up his sleeve.

HELEN

What do you mean by that: has something up his sleeve?

HOFFMANN

Mole's work ... digging, digging.—You can't possibly understand that. Anyhow, I may be mistaken, for I've avoided touching on that subject so far. At all events, have everything as inviting as possible. That's the easiest way, after all, of accomplishing something with people ... Champagne, of course. Have the lobsters come from Hamburg?

HELEN

I believe they came this morning.

HOFFMANN

Very well. Then—lobsters! [A violent knocking is heard.] Come in!

PARCEL POST CARRIER

[Enters with a box under his arm. His voice has a sing-song inflection.] A box.

HELEN

Where from?

PARCEL POST CARRIER

Ber-lin.

HOFFMANN

Quite right. No doubt the baby's outfit from Hertzog. [He looks at the package and takes the bill.] Yes, these are the things from Hertzog.

HELEN

This whole box full. Oh, that's overdoing!

HOFFMANN pays the carrier.

PARCEL POST CARRIER

[Still in his sing-song.] I wish you a good evening.

[Exit.

HOFFMANN

Why is that overdoing?

HELEN

Why, because there's enough here to fit out at least three babies.

HOFFMANN

Did you take a walk with my wife?

HELEN

What am I to do if she's so easily tired?

HOFFMANN

Nonsense! Easily tired! She makes me utterly wretched! An hour and a half ... I wish, for goodness' sake, she would do as the doctor orders. What is the use of having a doctor, if....

HELEN

Then put your foot down and get rid of that Spiller woman! What am I to do against an old creature like that who always confirms her in her own notions!

HOFFMANN

But what can I do—a man—a mere man? And, furthermore, you know my mother-in-law! Don't you?

HELEN

[Bitterly.] I do.

HOFFMANN

Where is she now?

HELEN

Spiller has been getting her up in grand style ever since Mr. Loth came. She will probably go through one of her performances at supper.

HOFFMANN

[Once more absorbed in his own thoughts and pacing the room, violently.] This is the last time, I give you my word, that I'm going to await such things in this house—the last time, so help me!

HELEN

Yes, you're lucky. You can go where you please.

HOFFMANN

In my house the wretched relapse into that frightful vice would most certainly not have occurred.

HELEN

Don't make me responsible for it. She did not get the brandy from me! Get rid of the Spiller woman, I tell you. Oh, if only I were a man!

HOFFMANN

[Sighing.] Oh, if only it were over and done with!—[Speaking from the door to the right.] Anyhow, sister, do me the favour and have the supper-table really appetising. I'll just attend to a little matter meanwhile.

HELEN

[Rings the electric bell. MIELE enters.] Miele, set the table, and tell Edward to put champagne on ice and open four dozen oysters.

MIELE

[With sullen impudence.] You c'n tell him yer-self. He don't take orders from me. He's always sayin' he was hired by Mr. Hoffmann.

HELEN

Then, at least, send him in to me.

[MIELE goes. HELEN steps in front of the mirror and adjusts various details in her toilet. In the meantime EDWARD enters.

HELEN

[Still before the mirror.] Edward, put champagne on ice and open oysters. Mr. Hoffmann wishes it.

EDWARD

Very well, Miss.

[As EDWARD leaves, a knocking is heard at the middle door.

HELEN

[Startled.] Dear me! [Timidly.] Come in! [Louder and more firmly.] Come in!

LOTH

[Enters without bowing.] Ah, I beg pardon. I didn't mean to intrude. My name is Loth.

HELEN bows. Her gesture smacks of the dancing school.

HOFFMANN

[His voice is heard through the closed door.] My dear people: don't be formal! I'll be with you in a moment. Loth, my sister-in-law, Helen Krause! And, sister, my friend, Alfred Loth! Please consider yourselves introduced.

HELEN

Oh, what a way of....

LOTH

I don't take it ill of him. As I have often been told, I am myself more than half a barbarian when correct manners are concerned. But if I intruded upon you, I....

HELEN

Not in the least; oh, not in the least, believe me. [A pause of constraint.] Indeed, indeed, it is most kind of you to have looked up my brother-in-law. He often complains that ... rather, regrets that the friends of his youth have forgotten him so entirely.

LOTH

Yes, it just happened so this time. I've always been in Berlin and thereabouts and had no idea what had become of Hoffmann. I haven't been back in Silesia since my student days at Breslau.

HELEN

And so you came upon him quite by chance.

LOTH

Yes, quite—and, what is more, in the very spot where I've got to pursue my investigations.

HELEN

Investigations in Witzdorf! In this wretched little hole. Ah, you're jesting. It isn't possible.

LOTH

You say: wretched? Yet there is a very unusual degree of wealth here.

HELEN

Oh, of course, in that respect....

LOTH

I've been continually astonished. I can assure you that such farms are not to be found elsewhere; they seem literally steeped in abundance.

HELEN

You are quite right. There's more than one stable here in which the cows and horses feed from marble mangers and racks of German silver! It is all due to the coal which was found under our fields and which turned the poor peasants rich almost in the twinkling of an eye. [She points to the picture in the background.] Do you see—my grandfather was a freight carter. The little property here belonged to him, but he could not get a living out of his bit of soil and so he had to haul freight. That's a picture of him in his blue blouse; they still wore blouses like that in those days. My father, when he was young, wore one too.—No! When I said "wretched" I didn't mean that. Only it's so desolate here. There's nothing, nothing for the mind. Life is empty ... it's enough to kill one.

MIELE and EDWARD pass to and fro, busy laying the table to the right in the background.

LOTH

Aren't there balls or parties once in a while?

HELEN

Not even that! The farmers gamble, hunt, drink ... What is there to be seen all the long day? [She has approached the window and points out.] Such figures, mainly.

LOTH

H-m! Miners.

HELEN

Some are going to the mine, some are coming from the mine: all day, all day ... At least, I seem always to see them. Do you suppose I even care to go into the street alone? At most I slip through the back gate out into the fields. And they are such a rough set! The way they stare at one—so menacing and morose as if one were actually guilty of some crime. Sometimes, in winter, when we go sleighing, they come in the darkness, in great gangs, over the hills, through the storm, and, instead of making way, they walk stubbornly in front of the horses. Then, sometimes the farmers use the handles of their whips; it's the only way they can get through. And then the miners curse behind us. Ugh! I've been so terribly frightened sometimes!

LOTH

And isn't it strange that I have come here for the sake of these very people of whom you are so much afraid.

HELEN

Oh, surely not....

LOTH

Quite seriously. These people interest me more than any one else here.

HELEN

No one excepted?

LOTH

No one.

HELEN

Not even my brother-in-law?

LOTH

No! For my interest in these people is different and of an altogether higher nature. But you must forgive me ... You can't be expected to follow me there.

HELEN

And why not? Indeed, I understand you very well ... [She drops a letter inadvertently which LOTH stoops to pick up.] Don't bother ... it's of no importance; only an indifferent boarding-school correspondence.

LOTH

So you went to boarding-school?

HELEN

Yes, in Herrnhut. You mustn't think that I'm so wholly ... No, no, I do understand.

LOTH

You see, these workingmen interest me for their own sake.

HELEN

To be sure. And a miner like that is very interesting, if you look upon him in that way. Why, there are places where you never see one; but If you have them daily before your eyes ...

LOTH

Even if you have them daily before your eyes, Miss Krause. Indeed. I think that is necessary if one is to discover what is truly interesting about them.

HELEN

Dear me! If it's so hard to discover—I mean what is interesting about them!

LOTH

Well; it is interesting, for instance that these people, as you say, always look so menacing and so morose.

HELEN

Why do you think that that is particularly interesting?

LOTH

Because it is not the usual thing. The rest of us look that way only sometimes and by no means always.

HELEN

Yes, but why do they always look so ... so full of hatred and so surly? There must be some reason for that.

LOTH

Just so. And it is this very reason that I am anxious to discover.

HELEN

Oh, don't!... Now you're making fun of me! What good would it do you, even if you knew that?

LOTH

One might perhaps find ways and means to remove the cause that makes these people so joyless and so full of hatred; one might perhaps make them happier.

HELEN

[Slightly confused.] I must confess freely that now ... And yet perhaps just now I begin to understand you a little. Only it is so strange, so new, so utterly new ...

HOFFMANN

[Entering through the door at the right. He has a number of letters in his hand.] Well, here I am again.—Edward, see to it that these letters reach the post-office before eight o'clock. [He hands the letters to the servant, who withdraws.] Well, dear people, now we can eat! Outrageously hot here! September and such heat! [He lifts a bottle of champagne from the cooler. ] Veuve Cliquot! Edward knows my secret passions! [He turns to LOTH.] You've had quite a lively argument, eh? [Approaches the table, which has now been laid and which groans under delicacies. Rubbing his hands.] Well, that looks very good indeed! [With a sly look in LOTH'S direction.] Don't you think it does?—By the way, sister! We're going to have company: William Kahl. He has been seen in the yard.

HELEN makes a gesture of disgust.

HOFFMANN

My dear girl! You almost act as if I ... How can I help it? D'you suppose I invited him? [Heavy steps are heard in the outer hall.] Ah! "Misfortune strides apace!"

KAHL enters without having first knocked. He is twenty-four years old: a clumsy peasant who is evidently concerned, so far as possible, to make a show not only as a refined but, more especially, as a wealthy man. His features are coarse; his predominant expression is one of stupid cunning. He wears a green jacket, a gay velvet waist-coat, dark trousers and patent-leather top-boots. His head-covering is a green forester's hat with a cock's feather. His jacket has buttons of stag's horn and stag's teeth depend from his watch-chain. He stammers.

KAHL

G-good evening everybody!

[He sees LOTH, is much embarrassed and, standing still, cuts a rather sorry figure.

HOFFMANN

[Steps up to him and shakes hands with him encouragingly.] Good evening, Mr. Kahl.

HELEN

[Ungraciously.] Good evening.

KAHL

[Strides with heavy steps diagonally across the room to HELEN and takes her hand.] Evenin' t'you, Nellie.

HOFFMANN

[To LOTH.] Permit me to introduce our neighbour's son, Mr. Kahl.

[KAHL grins and fidgets with his hat. Constrained silence.

HOFFMANN

Come, let's sit down, then. Is anybody missing? Ah, our mama! Miele, request Mrs. Krause to come to supper.

[MIELE leaves by the middle door.

MIELE

[Is heard in the hall, calling out.] Missus! Missus!! You're to come down—to come'n eat!

[HELEN and HOFFMANN exchange a look of infinite comprehension and laugh. Then, by a common impulse, they look at LOTH.

HOFFMANN

[To LOTH.] Rustic simplicity!

MRS. KRAUSE appears, incredibly overdressed. Silk and costly jewels. Her dress and bearing betray hard arrogance, stupid pride and half-mad vanity.

HOFFMANN

Ah, there is mama! Permit me to introduce to you my friend Dr. Loth.

MRS. KRAUSE

[Half-curtsies, peasant-fashion.] I take the liberty! [After a brief pause.] Eh, but Doctor, you mustn't bear me a grudge, no, you mustn't at all. I've got to excuse myself before you right away—[she speaks with increasing fluency]—excuse myself on account o' the way I acted a while ago. You know, y'understan', we' get a powerful lot o' tramps here right along ... 'Tain't reasonable to believe the trouble we has with them beggars. And they steals exackly like magpies. It ain't as we're stingy. We don't have to be thinkin' and thinkin' before we spends a penny, no, nor before we spends a pound neither. Now, old Louis Krause's wife, she's a close one, worst kind you see, she wouldn't give a crittur that much! Her old man died o' rage because he lost a dirty little two-thousand, playin' cards. No, we ain't that kind. You see that sideboard over there. That cost me two hundred crowns, not countin' the freight even. Baron Klinkow hisself couldn't have nothin' better.

MRS. SPILLER has entered shortly after MRS. KRAUSE. She is small, slightly deformed and gotten up in her mistress's cast-off garments. While MRS. KRAUSE is speaking she looks up at her with a certain devout attention. She is about fifty-five years old. Every time she exhales her breath she utters a gentle moan, which is regularly audible, even when she speaks, as a soft—m.

MRS. SPILLER

[In a servile, affectedly melancholy, minor tone. Very softly.] His lordship has exactly the identical sideboard—m—.

HELEN

[To MRS. KRAUSE.] Mama, don't you think we had better sit down first and then—

MRS. KRAUSE

[Turns with lightning-like rapidity to HELEN and transfixes her with a withering look; harshly and masterfully.] Is that proper?

[She is about to sit down but remembers that grace has not been said. Mechanically she folds her hands without, however, mastering her malignity.

MRS. SPILLER

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. May thy gifts to us be blest.

[All take their seats noisily. The embarrassing situation is tided over by the passing and repassing of dishes, which takes some time.

HOFFMANN

[To LOTH.] Help yourself, old fellow, won't you? Oysters?

LOTH

I'll try them. They're the first I've ever eaten.

MRS. KRAUSE

[Has just sucked down an oyster noisily.] This season, you mean.

LOTH

No, I mean at all.

[MRS. KRAUSE and MRS. SPILLER exchange a look.

HOFFMANN

[To KAHL, who is squeezing a lemon with his teeth.] Haven't seen you for two days, Mr. Kahl. Have you been busy shooting mice?

KAHL

N-naw ...

HOFFMANN

[To LOTH.] Mr. Kahl, I must tell you, is passionately fond of hunting.

KAHL

M-m-mice is i-infamous amphibies.

HELEN

[Bursts out.] It's too silly. He can't see anything wild or tame without killing it.

KAHL

Las' night I sh-shot our ol' s-sow.

LOTH

Then I suppose that shooting is your chief occupation.

MRS. KRAUSE

Mr. Kahl, he just does that fer his own private pleasure.

MRS. SPILLER

Forest, game and women—as his Excellency the Minister von Schadendorf often used to say.

KAHL

'N d-day after t-t'morrow we're g-goin' t' have p-pigeon sh-sh-shooting.

LOTH

What is that—pigeon shooting?

HELEN

Ah, I can't bear such things. Surely it's a very merciless sport. Rough boys who throw stones at window panes are better employed.

HOFFMANN

You go too far, Helen.

HELEN

I don't know. According to my feeling it's far more sensible to break windows, than to tether pigeons to a post and then shoot bullets into them.

HOFFMANN

Well, Helen, after all, you must consider ...

LOTH

[Using his knife and fork with energy.] It is a shameful barbarity.

KAHL

Aw! Them few pigeons!

MRS. SPILLER

[To LOTH.] Mr. Kahl, you know, has m-more than two-hundred of them in his dove-cote.

LOTH

All hunting is barbarity.

HOFFMANN

But an ineradicable one. Just now, for instance, five hundred live foxes are wanted in the market, and all foresters in this neighbourhood and in other parts of Germany are busy snaring the animals.

LOTH

What are all those foxes wanted for?

HOFFMANN

They are sent to England, where they will enjoy the honour of being hunted from their very cages straight to death by members of the aristocracy.

LOTH

Mohammedan or Christian—a beast's a beast.

HOFFMANN

May I pass you some lobster, mother?

MRS. KRAUSE

I guess so. They're good this here season.

MRS. SPILLER

Madame has such a delicate palate.

MRS. KRAUSE

[To LOTH.] I suppose you ain't ever et lobsters neither, Doctor?

LOTH

Yes, I have eaten lobsters now and then—in the North, by the sea, in Warnemuende, where I was born.

MRS. KRAUSE

[To KAHL.] Times an' times a person don't know what to eat no more. Eh, William.

KAHL

Y-y're r-right there, cousin, G-God knows.

EDWARD

[Is about to pour champagne into LOTH'S glass.] Champagne, sir.

LOTH

[Covers his glass with his hand.] No, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Come now, don't be absurd.

HELEN

What? Don't you drink?

LOTH

No, Miss Krause.

HOFFMANN

Well, now, look here, old man. That is, you must admit, rather tiresome.

LOTH

If I were to drink I should only grow more tiresome.

HELEN

That is most interesting, Doctor.

LOTH

[Untactfully.] That I grow even more tiresome when I drink wine?

HELEN

[Somewhat taken aback.] No, oh, no. But that you do not drink ... do not drink at all, I mean.

LOTH

And why is that particularly interesting?

HELEN

[Blushing.] It is not the usual thing.

[She grows redder and more embarrassed.

LOTH

[Clumsily.] You are quite right, unhappily.

MRS. KRAUSE

[To LOTH.] It costs us fifteen shillin's a bottle. You needn't be scared to drink it. We gets it straight from Rheims; we ain't givin' you nothin' cheap; we wouldn't want it ourselves.

MRS. SPILLER

Ah, you can believe—m-me, Doctor: if his Excellency, the Minister von Schadendorf, had been able to keep such a table ...

KAHL

I couldn't live without my wine.

HELEN

[To LOTH.] Do tell us why you don't drink?

LOTH

I'll do that very gladly, I ...

HOFFMANN

Oh, pshaw, old fellow. [He takes the bottle from the servant in order to press the wine upon LOTH.] Just think how many merry hours we used to spend in the old days ...

LOTH

Please don't take the trouble ...

HOFFMANN

Drink to-day—this one time.

LOTH

It's quite useless.

HOFFMANN

As a special favour to me.

[HOFFMANN is about to pour the wine; LOTH resists. A slight conflict ensues.

LOTH

No, no ... as I said before ... No!... no, thank you.

HOFFMANN

Don't be offended, but that, surely, is a mere foolish whim.

KAHL

[To MRS. SPILLER.] A man that don't want nothin' has had enough.

[MRS. SPILLER nods resignedly.

HOFFMANN

Anyhow, if you let a man have his will what more can you do for him. But I can tell you this much: without a glass of wine at dinner ...

LOTH

And a glass of beer at breakfast ...

HOFFMANN

Very well; why not? A glass of beer is a very healthy thing.

LOTH

And a nip of brandy now and then ...

HOFFMANN

Ah, well, if one couldn't get that much out of life! You'll never succeed in making an ascetic of me. You can't rob life of every stimulus.

LOTH

I'm not so sure of that. I am thoroughly content with the normal stimuli that reach my nervous system.

HOFFMANN

And a company that sit together with dry throats always has been and always will be a damnably weary and boresome one—with which, as a rule, I'd care to have very little to do.

MRS. KRAUSE

An' all them aristocrats drinks a whole lot.

MRS. SPILLER

[Devoutly confirming her mistress' remark by an inclination of her body.] It is easy for gentlemen to drink a great deal of wine.

LOTH

[To HOFFMANN.] My experience is quite to the contrary. As a rule, I am bored at a table where a great deal is drunk.

HOFFMANN

Oh, of course, it's got to be done in moderation.

LOTH

What do you call moderation?

HOFFMANN

Well, so long as one is in possession of one's senses ...

LOTH

Aha! Then you do admit that, in general, the consumption of alcohol does endanger the possession of one's senses? And for that reason, you see, I find tavern parties such a bore.

HOFFMANN

Are you afraid of losing possession of your senses so easily?

KAHL

T'-t'other d-day I drank a b-bottle o' R-Rhine-wine, an' another o' ch-champagne. An' on top o' that an-n-nother o' B-Bordeaux—an' I wan't drunk by half.

LOTH

[To HOFFMANN.] Oh no. You know well enough that it was I who took you fellows home when you'd been taking too much. And I still have the same tough old system. No, I'm not afraid on that account.

HOFFMANN

Well, then, what is it?

HELEN

Yes, why is it really that you don't drink? Do tell us!

LOTH

[To HOFFMANN.] In order to satisfy you then: I do not drink to-day, if for no other reason but because I have given my word of honour to avoid spirituous liquors.

HOFFMANN

In other words, you've sunk to the level of a temperance fanatic.

LOTH

I am a total abstainer.

HOFFMANN

And for how long, may one ask, have you gone in for this—

LOTH

For life.

HOFFMANN

[Throws down his knife and fork and half starts up from his chair.] Well, I'll be ... [He sits down again.] Now, frankly, you must forgive me, but I never thought you so—childish.

LOTH

You may call it so if you please.

HOFFMANN

But how in the world did you get into that kind of thing?

HELEN

Surely, for such a resolution you must have a very weighty cause—it seems so to me, at least.

LOTH

Undoubtedly such a reason exists. You probably do not know, Miss Krause, nor you either, Hoffmann, what an appalling part alcohol plays in modern life ... Read Bunge, if you desire to gain an idea of it. I happen to remember the statements of a writer named Everett concerning the significance of alcohol in the life of the United States. His facts cover a space of ten years. In these ten years, according to him, alcohol has devoured directly a sum of three thousand millions of dollars and indirectly of six hundred millions. It has killed three hundred thousand people, it has driven thousands of others into prisons and poor-houses; it has caused two thousand suicides at the least. It has caused the loss of at least ten millions through fire and violent destruction; it has rendered no less than twenty thousand women, widows, and no less than one million children, orphans. Worst of all, however, are the far-reaching effects of alcohol which extend to the third and fourth generation.—Now, had I pledged myself never to marry, I might perhaps drink, but as it is—My ancestors, as I happen to know, were all not only healthy and robust but thoroughly temperate people. Every movement that I make, every hardship that I undergo, every breath that I draw brings what I owe them more deeply home to me. And that, you see, is the point; I am absolutely determined to transmit undiminished to my posterity this heritage which is mine.

MRS. KRAUSE

Look here, son-in-law, them miners o' ours do drink a deal too much. I guess that's true.

KAHL

They swills like pigs.

HELEN

And such, things are hereditary?

LOTH

There are families who are ruined by it—families of dipsomaniacs.

KAHL

[Half to MRS. KRAUSE; half to HELEN.] Your old man—he's goin' it pretty fast, too.

HELEN

[White as a sheet, vehemently.] Oh, don't talk nonsense.

MRS. KRAUSE

Eh, but listen to the impident hussy. You might think she was a princess! You're tryin' to play bein' a grand lady, I s'ppose! That's the way she goes fer her future husband. [To LOTH, pointing to KAHL.] That's him, you know; they're promised; it's all arranged.

HELEN

[Jumping up.] Stop! or ... Stop, mother, or I ...

MRS. KRAUSE

Well, I do declare! Say, Doctor, is that what you call eddication, eh? God knows, I treat her as if she was my own child, but that's a little too much.

HOFFMANN

[Soothingly.] Ah, mother, do me the favour....

MRS. KRAUSE

No-o! I don't see why. Such a goose like that ... That's an end o' all justice ... such a sl...!

HOFFMANN

Oh, but mother, I must really beg of you to control—

MRS. KRAUSE

[Doubly enraged.] Instead o' sich a crittur takin' a hand on the farm.... God forbid! She pulls her sheets 'way over her ears. But her Schillers and her Goethes and sich like stinkin' dogs—that can't do nothin' but lie; they c'n turn her head. It's enough to make you sick!

[She stops, quivering with rage.

HOFFMANN

[Trying to pacify her.] Well, well—she will be all right now ... perhaps it wasn't quite right ... perhaps....

[He beckons to HELEN, who in her excitement has drawn aside, and the girl, fighting down her tears, returns to her place.

HOFFMANN

[Interrupting the painful silence that has followed, to LOTH.] Ah, yes ... what were we talking about? To be sure, of good old alcohol. [He raises his glass.] Well, mother, let us have peace. Come,—we'll drink a toast in peace, and honour alcohol by being peaceful. [MRS. KRAUSE, although somewhat rebelliously, clinks glasses with him.] What, Helen, and your glass is empty.... I say, Loth, you've made a proselyte.

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