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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IX - Friedrich Hebbel and Otto Ludwig
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VOLUME IX



FRIEDRICH HEBBEL

OTTO LUDWIG



THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Masterpieces of German Literature



TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH



Patrons' Edition IN TWENTY VOLUMES



ILLUSTRATED

1914



CONTENTS OF VOLUME IX

Friedrich Hebbel

The Life of Friedrich Hebbel. By William Guild Howard

Maria Magdalena. Translated by Paul Bernard Thomas

Siegfried's Death. Translated by Katherine Royce

Anna. Translated by Frances H. King

On Theodor Koerner and Heinrich von Kleist. Translated by Frances H. King

Ludolf Wienbarg's The Dramatists of the Present Day. Translated by Frances H. King

Review of Heinrich von Kleist's Play, The Prince of Homburg, or The Battle of Fehrbellin. Translated by Frances H. King

Recollections of My Childhood. Translated by Frances H. King Extracts from the Journal of Friedrich Hebbel

Otto Ludwig

The Life of Otto Ludwig. By Alexander R. Hohlfeld

The Hereditary Forester. Translated by Alfred Remy

Between Heaven and Earth. Translated by Muriel Almon



ILLUSTRATIONS—VOLUME IX

Summer Day. By Arnold Bucklin Frontispiece

Friedrich Hebbel 2

Death as Cup-Bearer. By Alfred Rethel 30

Death Playing the Finale at the Masquerade. By Alfred Rethel 60

Death as Friend. By Alfred Rethel 78

Title Page of the Nibelungenlied. By Peter Cornelius 82

Siegfried's Return from the Saxon War. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 100

The Quarrel of the Queens. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 122

Kriemhild finds the Slain Siegfried. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 150

Kriemhild accuses Hagen of the Murder of Siegfried. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 170

The Battle between the Huns and the Nibelungs. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 190

Gunther and Hagen brought Captive before Kriemhild. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 222

The Death of Kriemhild. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 246

Otto Ludwig 268

The Finding of Moses. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 300

Moses on Mt. Sinai. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 330

Jacob and Rachel at the Well. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 360

Jacob's Journey. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 390

David being Stoned by Sinei. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 420

The Death of Eli. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 450

Josiah hears the Law. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 480

The Prophet Jeremiah. By Schnorr von Carolsfeld 510



EDITOR'S NOTE

The painters represented here alongside with the two writers to whom this volume is devoted, are Cornelius, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Rethel, and Kaulbach. These men were not only contemporary with Hebbel and Ludwig, but may indeed be called their artistic counterparts. Though widely differentiated by individual temper and talent, these painters and poets belong to the same phase of mid-century German literature and art: the striving of Romanticism beyond itself, the struggle for a new style uniting depth of feeling and terseness of delineation, the longing for a new view of life harmonizing the worship of the past with the demands of modern society and the problems of the day. Hence the heroic note in the work of these painters and poets, hence their predilection for great historical or mythological or religious subjects, hence their leaning toward tragic conflicts in every day situations, hence their all too conscious striving for pointed effects; hence, also, the inspiring influence emanating from their best productions.

KUNO FRANCKE.



THE LIFE OF FRIEDRICH HEBBEL



By WILLIAM GUILD HOWARD, A.M.,

Assistant Professor of German, Harvard University

The greatest German dramatists of the middle of the nineteenth century were Franz Grillparzer, Friedrich Hebbel, and Otto Ludwig. In a caustic epigram written in 1855, Grillparzer set forth that Dame Poetry, for some years a widow and now ailing, needed a husband, but could find none; and we remember that the heroine of Libussa rejects the wise Lapak, the strong Biwoy, and the rich Domaslaw because she desires in one man, united, the qualities which separately dominate the three. With more charity, Grillparzer might have more fully recognized the poet in Hebbel or Ludwig; but we may be permitted to think of these three dramatists as not unlike the three suitors for the hand of Libussa: Grillparzer was rich, Ludwig was wise, and Hebbel was strong. Each of them was somewhat deficient in the qualities of the other two; each, however, was a personality, and Hebbel one of the most powerful that ever lived.

Hebbel's career is a long battle against all but insuperable obstacles. Born at Wesselburen in the present province of Schleswig-Holstein on March 18, 1813, he was the son of a poor stone mason—so poor that, as Hebbel said, poverty had taken the place of his soul. Though Klaus Hebbel was a well-meaning man, he was a slave to the inexorable non possumus of penury. In winter, especially, lack of work made even the provision of daily bread often difficult and sometimes impossible for him. But Friedrich Hebbel's childhood, full of hardship as it was, was not cheerless. The father did what he could; and the mother, at whatever sacrifice to herself, could nearly always do something for the children. The greatest hardship was caused by the father's hostility to these maternal concessions to childish desires; for to him, whose life was labor, unproductive use of time was a crime. He thought it a matter of course that his son should become a laboring man like himself, and it is little less than a miracle that this did not happen. The mother, to be sure, fostered the boy's more ambitious hopes; the death of the father in Hebbel's fourteenth year was perhaps a blessing in disguise; undoubtedly the happiest chance in Hebbel's boyhood, so far as external events are concerned, was the fact that he won the favor of a real teacher in his schoolmaster Dethlefsen, who not only gave his education the proper start, but also recommended him, as his best scholar, to the local magistrate, J.J. Mohr.

For nearly eight years (1827 to 1835) Hebbel was in Mohr's employ, first as an errand boy, and ultimately as a clerk, to whom more and more official business was intrusted. He lived in the household of his superior, continued in the magistrate's library the assiduous reading which he had begun with Dethlefsen's books, and acquired, along with the habits of official accuracy, something of the ways of a higher social station than that to which he had been born. His contact with the world of affairs and with litigation also considerably broadened his outlook, though it was often the seamy side of life that he saw, and his own early necessities had sharpened his sense of the essential tragedy of existence. Among the young people of the town Hebbel was as active and inventive as any; he wrote verses, took part in amateur theatricals, and was a leader in many undertakings that had not amusement as their sole object.

From the beginning Hebbel shows extraordinary sensitiveness to esthetic appeal and a disposition to dreamy imaginativeness. The Bible, the Protestant hymnal, pre-classical prose and poetry of the eighteenth century, as well as contemporary romantic fiction, including Jean Paul, Hoffmann, and Heine, touched his fancy and stirred him to emulation.



As a boy, he is said to have composed a tragedy Evolia, the Captain of Robbers, which his mother confiscated and burned. His early poems are echoes of Klopstock, Matthisson, Hoelty, Buerger, and other predecessors; but especially of Schiller, whose moral seriousness and sonorous language alike inspired the serious and rhetorically gifted youth. The influence of Schiller, however, marks no epoch in the poetic development of Hebbel; it dominates the period of adolescence. The sense of poetry was aroused in him as a boy, he said, by Paul Gerhardt's hymn "The woods are now at rest" (Nun ruhen alle Walder); the discovery of what poetry is he made in 1830, when he read Uhland's Minstrel's Curse and perceived that the sole principle of art is not to write, like Schiller, eloquently about ideas, but "to make in a particular phenomenon the universal intuitively perceptible."

Having published poems and stories from 1829 on in a local newspaper, Hebbel, in 1831, seeking a wider audience at the same time that he longed for a larger sphere of activity, submitted specimens of his work to Amalie Schoppe in Hamburg, the editress of a fashion paper; and in this and the following years she printed a considerable number of his productions. Moreover, she took a genuine personal interest in his ambitions; and after several plans had proved abortive, she succeeded in collecting for him a small sum of money and the promise of other material aid in a plan that should give a firm foundation for the structure of his hopes: he should come to Hamburg and prepare for the study of law. Accordingly, on the fourteenth of February, 1835, he left his modest but secure position in Wesselburen for the alluring great world where he felt that he belonged, but where he was destined to toil and to suffer, in a struggle for existence which only a hardy North-German peasant could have endured.

Hebbel came to Hamburg as a young man of twenty-two, far ahead of his years in knowledge, judgment, and capacity, but still unacquainted with rudimentary things belonging to higher education, such as Latin grammar. He could not find the right tone in dealing with his benefactors, and he suffered unspeakable humiliation in the conflict of a proud and independent spirit with the subjection which inconsiderate well-wishers imposed upon him. He learned more by private reading and by association with students in a Scientific Society than he learned in school; and to one woman, Elise Lensing, who became his friend and angel of mercy, he owed more than to the whole aggregation of those who gave him money and meals. Somewhat more than eight years his senior, in respect to experience of the world and training in the finer graces of life his superior, she aided, encouraged, and loved him, well aware that his feeling for her was, at the most, admiration and gratitude, and that the intimate union and companionship which soon became for him an indispensable solace could never lead to marriage.

In Hamburg Hebbel began the diary which, continued throughout his life, is the most valuable source of information about him that we have, and which, being the repository of his meditations as well as the record of his experiences, is one of the most remarkable documents of the kind ever composed. He wrote and published a number of poems, and began several short stories. More significant, however, was the development of his critical faculty, which found in the Scientific Society a free field for exercise. Here, on the twenty-eighth of July, 1835, Hebbel read a paper on Theodor Koerner and Heinrich von Kleist which, in spite of a rather juvenile tone, shows a maturity of insight quite unparalleled in the critical literature of that day. It is greatly to Hebbel's credit, and was to his profit, as the sequel showed, that against the opinion of his generation he could demonstrate the poetic excellence of Kleist and could distinguish in Koerner between the heroic patriot and the mediocre poet; for it was a dramatic masterpiece that Hebbel analyzed in Kleist's Prince of Hamburg, and in this analysis he formulated views that remained the canons of all his subsequent activity as a playwright. The study of Kleist gave him for the drama the same sort of illumination that Uhland had given him for lyric poetry.

Though Hebbel was unable to acquire in Hamburg a certificate of preparedness for the university, he soon felt ready for university studies, and after some difficulty persuaded his benefactors to give him the balance of the fund that they had collected, and consent to his going to Heidelberg. In March, 1836, he departed thither, with less than eighty thalers in his pocket. He could be admitted only as a special student; nevertheless, he was hospitably received by members of the faculty of law, and attended their lectures. But the romantic scenery of Heidelberg, and, the reading of Goethe and Shakespeare, whom he now for the first time studied thoroughly, were more fruitful and suggestive to him than jurisprudence, however much he was interested in "cases" as examples of human experience. Such a "case" he treated in Anna, the first short story with which he was satisfied, and which indeed is worthy of his model in this genre, Kleist. Other narratives, and a few poems, testify to a closer approach to nature and a less morbid attitude toward life than had appeared in the earlier works. Hebbel was now finishing his apprenticeship, wisely restraining the impulse to dramatize until in the less exacting forms he had mastered the means of expression. But everything pointed toward literature as a calling, and before the year was out Hebbel resolved to migrate to Munich, still, to be sure, a student, but from the moment of his arrival living there under the name and title of Literat.

The journey to Munich Hebbel made afoot, leaving Heidelberg on September 12, 1836. He passed through Strassburg, and thought of Goethe as he climbed the tower of the cathedral; he visited the Suabian poets at Stuttgart and Tuebingen, and was deeply disappointed with the kindly but undemonstrative Uhland; and he reached Munich on September the twenty-ninth. Here he remained until March, 1839.

Hebbel's two and a half years in Munich, years of solitude, unheard-of privation, illness, and battling against despair, came near to wearing out the physical man, and were, through long-continued insufficient nourishment, the cause of the disease to which he finally succumbed; but they were also the finishing school of the personality that henceforth unflinchingly faced the world and demanded to be heard. Hebbel provided for his material needs partly by journalistic work, to which he was ill-adapted, but chiefly through the limitless bounty of Elise Lensing—for months at a time the only being with whom, and only by correspondence, he had human intercourse. He heard the lectures of Schelling and Goerres at the university; but, as at Heidelberg, he, gained most by prodigious reading in literature, history; and philosophy. His savage melancholy found relief in grimly humorous narratives and gloomy poems. At the time of his greatest wretchedness he conceived the plots of comedies, "ridiculing something by the representation of nothing." But we note that his reading now begins to suggest to him innumerable subjects for tragedies, such as Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Julian the Apostate, the Maid of Orleans, Judith and Holofernes, Golo and Genoveva,—all of them characters the key to whose destiny lay in their personalities, and in whom Hebbel saw the destiny of mankind typified. Still more directly, however, the tragedy of human life was brought home to him—not merely through his personal struggle for existence, but through the death of Emil Rousseau, a dear friend who had followed him from Heidelberg to Munich, the death of his mother, for whose necessities he had of late been able to do but little, and misfortune in the family of Anton Schwarz, a cabinet maker, with whose daughter, Beppy, Hebbel had been on too intimate terms. Hebbel's dramas Judith, Genoveva, and Maria Magdalena all germinated during these terrible years of the sojourn in Munich.

But the actual output of these years was not large. Attempts to publish a volume of poems and a volume of short stories had failed. Nevertheless, Hebbel was no longer an unknown quantity in the world of letters when, in the early spring of 1839, he decided to return to Hamburg. Hope of aid from Campe, Heine's publisher, and from Gutzkow, the editor of a paper published by Campe, encouraged this decision. But Hebbel was really going home, going back to Elise, after having accomplished the purpose of his pilgrimage, even though for lack of money he could not take with him a doctor's degree. He came as a man who could do things for which the world gives a man a living. The return journey, lasting from the eleventh to the thirty-first of March, 1839, amid alternate freezing and thawing, was a tramp, than which only the retreat from Moscow could have been more frightful; but Hebbel accomplished it, more concerned for the little dog that accompanied him than for his own sufferings. And it appeared that he had wisely chosen to return; for he found opportunity for critical work in Gutzkow's Telegraph, and Campe published the works which in rapid succession he now completed: Judith (1840), Genoveva (1841), The Diamond (1841; printed in 1847), and Poems (1842).

These publications won fame for Hebbel and yielded some immediate pecuniary gain. But although he had reached the goal of his ambition in having become a poet, and a dramatist whose first play had appeared on the stage, he still lacked a settled occupation and a sure income. Having been born a Danish subject, he conceived the idea of a direct appeal to Christian VIII. of Denmark for such an appointment as the king might be persuaded to give him. In spite of the unacademic course of his studies and his lack of strictly professional training, he thought of a professorship of esthetics at Kiel. Even in those days, when professorships could be had on easier terms than now, this was a wild dream. But Hebbel did not appeal to his sovereign in vain. He spent the winter of 1842-43 in Copenhagen, where the Danish-German dramatist Oehlenschlaeger smoothed his path to royal favor; and after two audiences with Christian VIII. he was granted a pension of six hundred thalers a year for two years, in order that by traveling he might learn more of the world and cultivate his poetic talents. His first expression of gratitude for this privilege was the tragedy Maria Magdalena, begun at Hamburg in May, finished at Paris in December, 1843, and dedicated to the king.

Hebbel's departure for Paris, in September, 1843, did not mean for him what Heine's settlement there twelve years before had meant for Heine—the beginning of a new life. Hebbel's knowledge of French was very imperfect, and he was as much isolated in Paris as he had been in Munich; he did not seek stimulus from without so much as freedom to develop the ideas that were teeming in his mind. When he left Hamburg, however, he was destined never to return thither except as a visitor, and started on the long, roundabout way to an unforeseen new home in Vienna. He had been but little over a month in Paris when he learned of the death of the little son that Elise had borne him three years before. He was deeply grieved both for himself and for the despairing mother, to whom he offered all the comfort he could give, not excepting marriage, as soon as he should ever be able to provide for her. In May, 1844, Elise bore him another son who, dying in 1847, was never seen by his father. Hebbel did not forget what he owed to the mother of his children, but he felt the debt more and more as an obligation, in the fulfilment of which there was no prospect of satisfaction to either. Despite the fact that she had a hundred times declared to him that he was free, all her dreaming and planning tended solely to keep him bound. He, who had been her pupil, had now far outgrown her capacity to understand his endeavors and achievements; and he felt that he could sacrifice much for her, but not himself, his personality, and his mission. And so the unwholesome relation wore on, with aggravating burdensomeness, to the inevitable crisis.

In the fall of 1844 Hebbel journeyed from Paris to Rome. He had met few notables in Paris—Heine, Felix Bamberg, and Arnold Ruge almost complete the tale—but in Italy he, like Goethe, made the acquaintance of a group of German artists, and followed their leadership in the study of ancient art. He enjoyed this study in natural, unaffected appreciation of the beautiful; and a certain artistic polish distinguishes the poems which nature and art in Italy inspired him to write. The Italian journey, however, was far from being a renaissance to him as it had been to Goethe. Hebbel remained a Northern artist. Vesuvius impressed him, but Pompeii proved a disappointment; it was laid out, he said, like any other city. He departed from Rome in October, 1845, richer in the friendship of distinguished men—including Hermann Hettner—and in accumulated experience, but not as one to whom the Ponte Molle is a bridge of sighs.

Hebbel's design was to return to Hamburg by way of Vienna. In Vienna, which he reached on the fourth of November, 1845, he was cordially received in literary circles. Men of influence promised their good offices in getting his plays performed, but failed to take effective measures, and he was about to continue his journey when the romantic enthusiasm of two young barons Zerboni gave him an entree into aristocratic society, and he tarried. Ere long he had decided to stay for life. In Christine Enghaus, the leading lady at the Hofburgtheater, he found the feminine counterpart to his masculine nature; and on the twenty-sixth of May, 1846, they were married.

From every point of view this marriage proved so perfect that we may well question whether anything whatever ought to have been allowed to stand in the way of it. To Elise, of course, it seemed an outrage—the more so that she was entirely mistaken as to the character of Christine; and with furious bitterness she reproached Hebbel for violating her most sacred rights in his infatuation for an actress. The storm broke, but it cleared the air for both; and upon the death of her second son in 1847, Elise came at Christine's invitation to Vienna and spent a year in the Hebbel household.

Hebbel himself rightly dated an epoch in his life from his marriage and the renewed productivity which followed upon it. He enjoyed now for the first time not only freedom from economic worries but also complete serenity of mind. Outwardly, indeed, he still had to keep up his offensive and defensive warfare. Beyond the circle of his immediate adherents, only the more enlightened of his contemporaries, such as Ruge, Hettner, and Theodor Vischer, perceived what he was aiming at, and his own public discussions were so abstruse and repellent that it is no wonder they were misunderstood. Grillparzer declared that he was groping in esthetic fog. Julian Schmidt recognized his power and the poetic charm of many of his passages, but thought him in danger of crossing the line which separates sense from nonsense, genius from insanity. Hebbel was restive under criticism, and the method of his polemics tended rather to exasperate than to conciliate his adversaries. Meanwhile Maria Magdalena and Judith were performed at the Hofburgtheater, with Christine as the heroine. But in 1850 Heinrich Laube became director of this theatre, and he not only rejected one play of Hebbel's after another, but also withdrew from Christine the leading parts which she had heretofore taken in the regular repertory.

The new epoch in Hebbel's dramatic activity really began in 1848. The fruits of his sojourn in Italy, A Tragedy in Sicily (1846), Julia (1847), and New Poems (published in 1847) were mediocre stragglers in the train of his first successes. But Herodes and Mariamne, begun in 1847 and completed in November, 1848, is the first of a new series of masterpieces. Mariamne, Hebbel said, was not simply written for Christine, she was Christine. The Ruby, which followed in the spring of 1849, is a graceful dramatization of a fairy-tale written ten years before in Munich; Michel Angelo (1850), a satire on his critics, is a slight but clever refutation of ignorant presumption. Agnes Bernauer (1851) is a worthy successor of Herodes and Mariamne; Gyges and his Ring (1854) is the most poetic and perhaps the most characteristic of his dramas. The trilogy on the Nibelungen (1855-1860) was Hebbel's last great work, ranking with Grillparzer's Golden Fleece and Schiller's Wallenstein; and if he had lived to complete Demetrius, we should have had another remarkable drama, on a subject which Schiller too was destined to leave unfinished.

In the fifties, Hebbel accompanied Christine on professional trips to North Germany, and had ample occasion to observe the spread of his influence. In 1852 he was feted at Munich in connection with the production there of Agnes Bernauer. In 1858 he attended a performance of Genoveva in Weimar, and was decorated with an order by the Grand Duke. In 1861 the Nibelungen trilogy was performed for the first time in Weimar, with Christine as Brunhild and Kriemhild; and in the following year Hebbel, who had even thought of going to live at Weimar, was the guest of the Grand Duke at his castle in Wilhelmsthal. Though in Vienna honors came later, Hebbel felt himself to be during these years at the summit of his existence. In 1855 he bought a country home at Orth near Gmunden in the Salzkammergut, and to the idyllic atmosphere of that retreat he owed the inspiration for the epic poem Mother and Child (1857), his gentlest treatment of a tragic theme. In 1857 he issued a definitive edition of his Poems, dedicated to Uhland, "the first poet of the present time." In 1854 Genoveva, in modified form, was successfully presented as Magellone at the Burgtheater, with Christine as the heroine. But Hebbel's first Viennese triumph did not come until February 19, 1863, when Christine played Brunhild in the first and second parts of the Nibelungen. On his deathbed he received the news that the Berlin Schiller Prize had been awarded to him for the Nibelungen. Hebbel died on the thirteenth of December, 1863. Christine out-lived him by nearly half a century, until the twenty-ninth of June, 1910.

Rightly or wrongly, Hebbel regarded himself as the creator of a new form of drama, setting in at a step beyond Shakespeare and Schiller, and attacking problems in the manner suggested, but not fully developed, by Goethe. Shakespeare and Schiller, he said, locate the conflict in the breast of the hero: shall he, or shall he not, endeavor to attain the object of his desire, against forces which oppose him from without, and which have their allies in his own conscience, in his own sense of right and wrong? He desires the wrong, or neglects the right, and for his tragic fault atones with death. We pity the unfortunate individual, console ourselves, however, with the inviolability of the moral law, and profit by his example: only those are free whose will chooses to be moral. But Goethe, in the dramatically conceived Elective Affinities, focuses attention not upon the doings of individuals, but upon the sanctions of the law which a power superior to their wills forces them to break. And so Hebbel, passing over the individual, as one of myriads, directs inquiry into the causes that make him what he is, that make him do what he does, that prevent him from doing what at the same time they impel him to attempt; and he reveals, back of the individual typical phenomenon, an irreconcilable conflict in the very condition and definition of its existence. This conflict has its roots in the dualism of all being.

The corner-stone of Martin Luther's system of morals was the paradox: "A Christian is a sovereign lord over all things, and is subject to nobody; a Christian is a duty-bound servant of all things, and is subject to everybody." In other words, a man's soul is his own and is superior to all the things of the flesh; but through his body he is made dependent upon the life-giving earth, and subject to the laws which those other "bodies" in the community in which he lives make for the common defense and the general welfare. Hebbel carried the antithesis farther, asking what is the soul, and what is the body? And he answered, in effect, that the soul is indeed the very essence of personality, but is no original, self-begotten, and self-sufficient entity—on the contrary, it is a fragment, a participant in the animating principle of the universe—and that the body is indeed the medium of contact between person and person, but is also the separating barrier of soul from soul, and of the individual soul from the soul of the world. The body is the form or vessel which vouchsafes to the soul individual existence, and which the soul, by its very impulse to activity, wears out and destroys. Birth is a prophecy of destruction and a doom to death.

But life is activity, the soul is a motive force, self-assertion and self-preservation are heaven's first law. Self-assertion, however, is nothing but the operation of communicated and committed animation, and self-preservation nothing but the postponement of the day of surrender. Self-preservation is impossible; self-assertion is a challenge to the assertiveness of other selves, as well as a hastener of dissolution. The self follows its native bent, and its native impulse is for expansion; but it thus, as a fraction, leaves, on its centrifugal path, the course of the great world spirit from which it separates; and as both a separate entity and a member of a community it must, in its attempt at self-realization, meet the constraint which the community, whose only object is likewise self-realization and self-preservation, puts upon all within its power. The law is negative and repressive, self-interest is positive and assertive; between the two there is no possible reconciliation—at most a compromise—so that in the last analysis it appears that the assertion of individual will as such is immoral, that is, contrary to the will of the community; and is sinful, for it is not the will of God, but the will of a particularized individual, however godly he may be. There are differences in degree, but not in kind, among immoralities and sins, with corresponding degrees of punitive repression; but the potential tragic conflict is constant, and there is as little doubt about the eminent domain of the State as about the supremacy of God.

The laws of God are changeless and eternal, but human morality is a local and temporal development. As the character of an individual is the product of disposition and experience, so his fate is humanly determined by the particular forms of custom and law established in the community in which his lot is cast. But these change from time to time, and in periods of change the disparity between public and private interest is most conspicuous: the progressive individual bears not only the burden of proof but also the dead weight of public inertia. Only at infinity can the parallel antithetical interests coincide. Nevertheless, the world gradually effects self-correction by the evolution of new syntheses from the thesis and antithesis ever and anon presented for trial and judgment as between liberal and conservative forces.

Hebbel's drama, then, is the representation of a process, the process of life, by which things come into being. It reveals the individual in the making, and discusses the validity of the institutions that condition his life or cause his death. There is no question of guilt and atonement. Protagonist and antagonist are right, each in his way and from his point of view; the conflict may arise from excess of goodness as well as from excess of evil; but the representative of the whole prevails of necessity over the champion of a single interest; and in the knowledge of this truth, rather than in the futile attempt to modify the relation, we must seek our freedom. Hebbel's plays are historical: character in its setting of circumstances is the only character really and fully comprehensible. They are sociological: exhibiting the ceaseless collision of individualistic and collectivistic tendencies, they teach forbearance, and patience, and the will to face the facts—tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner. And they are modern: treating problems of character and milieu, they disdain the adventitious aids of eloquence and theatrical splendor, and speak to us with the directness, often with the bluntness, of nature herself. Hebbel was no naturalist, in the sense of one who seeks but to reproduce phenomena in all their details, sordid, trivial, or vulgar, if such they be. But through Ibsen, who esteemed him alone among his German predecessors, he became a factor in the recent naturalistic movement; and he might have saved it from many an aberration, if his example had been more closely followed.

Hebbel strikingly revealed his independence and originality at the beginning of his public career, by his new conception of old and familiar subjects. His Judith is a totally different person from the heroine of the Apocrypha. The Biblical Judith is a widow who slays a public enemy, and returns unscathed amid the plaudits of the multitude. But Hebbel's Judith is a widow who has never been a wife, a woman who seems to have been appointed by Providence to do a great deed in His service, who takes the duty upon herself only to find that as a woman she is unequal to it; for as a woman she loves the manly heathen. She kills him, as she set out to do; but the motive for her act is personal revenge for a personal outrage; and she returns to Bethulia broken in spirit and appalled at the thought that she may bear a son by Holofernes. The attempt to make of herself an impersonal instrument in the hands of the Almighty—certainly a laudable undertaking—is her only fault, and is tragic because inconsistent with the character of womanhood, which the Almighty has also ordained. Compared with the iron necessity of her being, to which Judith succumbs, the accidental and improbable fault of Schiller's Maid of Orleans seems as trivial as it is conventional.

Similarly, in the conception of the story of Genoveva, Hebbel shifted attention from the saint to the sinner. In the centre of his Genoveva stands Golo, the unfortunate young man whose good instincts are made criminal because the faults and errors of others excite them, and because his desire, justifiable according to nature, is directed toward a woman who is bound to another in a wedlock which, from the side of the husband at least, is only formally correct. In Golo's crime and atonement we accordingly see a great deal more than the operation of the moral law: we see how crime is begotten of innocence; and instead of thinking of the wretched creature, we think of the Creator who has so ordained it, and at whose central position in the moral universe there can be neither good nor evil, but an equilibrium of forces which become one or the other, and may become either when the equilibrium is disturbed. Good and evil, mutually exclusive qualities in the world of appearance, are, in the world of ideas, complementary conceptions, different aspects of one and the same thing.

Golo appears, despite his crimes, less guilty than Siegfried, the husband of Genoveva; and in his case a divine impulse, love, becomes an evil because it happens to collide with an institution, marriage, which we are here justified in calling human, since, though it has a social sanction, it lacks the evidence of divine approval. Clara, in Maria Magdalena, is chargeable with but the minimum of guilt, and perishes because, too honest and dutiful to safeguard her own interests in a stern and selfish community, she cannot otherwise preserve for her father that unassailable reputation which is, in his imperfect ethics, the highest good. The tragedy in this play is the tragedy of pharisaical bourgeois society itself. There is no collision between high and low, such as constituted the plot of the tragedies bourgeoises of the eighteenth century—e.g., Lessing's Emilia Galotti, Schiller's Cabal and Love—but the stubborn hardness of the middle-class society in its typical representative is unable to meet a crisis; and by the banishment, or the condemnation to suicide, of its most promising members, this society pronounces its own doom. Altruism is contrary to the custom, that is, to the morals of this community, and for that reason is forbidden and suppressed.

Another community in which altruism is unusual and discredited is Judaea just before the birth of Christ. Herod the king is a masterful ruler and a benefactor; but the end justifies the means that he adopts, and he is no respecter of persons. He does not even respect the person of his wife. The love of Mariamne is the one sure rock upon which he can rest when the earthquake, threatening at every moment, comes to shatter his throne and engulf him. He loves her too with a passion which dreams of union so perfect that death cannot break it, so perfect that one of them would wish to die at the moment when the soul of the other left the body. This is Mariamne's dream also, but Herod cannot trust her to fulfil it. Not once, but twice, upon going to the wars, he leaves orders that Mariamne shall be slain if he is killed; and these orders are an assassination of her soul. The community can execute an individual; but one individual can only assassinate another. In the ancient orient a wife was a precious possession, entirely subject to the will of her husband, and liable to be burned in his funeral pyre. Herod represents such an ancient, oriental point of view; but Judaea is on the eve of becoming occidental and modern. Herod represents the law and has the power to crush the insurgent personality of Mariamne: he has not the power to slay the infant Savior, nor to hinder the coming of the day when every human soul is known to be an object of divine concern.

That play of Hebbel's in which the dualism of all being is most conspicuously tragic is Agnes Bernauer. Agnes is the daughter of a barber and surgeon, and is so beautiful that she is commonly known as the angel of Augsburg. Albrecht, the son and sole heir of the reigning duke Ernst, comes to Augsburg, falls in love with her, and, in spite of friendly warning, marries her; for she has loved him at first sight, too. As persons, they do what is right for them to do; their marriage has been performed by a priest of the church; and they feel that it has divine sanction. But Albrecht is not an ordinary person; he is the heir to the throne, and public exigencies require that the succession shall be guaranteed. This marriage, however, is illegal—a board of incorruptible judges so finds it; it causes sedition and threatens interminable strife. Duke Ernst is deliberate and patient in dealing with the unprecedented case. He waits until he can wait no longer. Albrecht will not give up Agnes, nor Agnes give up him; Ernst respects the sacrament of wedlock by which they are united, and only after two and a half years does he sign the warrant by which Agnes was duly condemned to death. Agnes dies in perfect innocence and constancy, a victim of social convention. But Albrecht, whose disregard of this convention was rebellion, and whose vengeance for his wife's death brings him to the point of parricide, is made to see, not merely because excommunication accompanies the ban of the empire on him as a rebel, but also because of the instructive words and actions of his father, that the social organization he has defied has itself a divine sanction, and that a prince, standing by common consent at the head of that organization, cannot with impunity undermine the basis of his sovereignty. Devotion to him is like loyalty to the national ensign. The ensign is nothing in itself, but it symbolizes the idea of the State; and the prince is also the representative of an idea, which he must continue to represent in its entirety, or he ceases to be the prince. This lesson Albrecht learns when, like Kleist's Prince of Homburg, he is made judge in his own case, and when he perceives at the cost of what personal sacrifice his father has done his duty. The State prevails over Albrecht as it prevails over Agnes, whose only fault was that she did not immure her beauty in a nunnery.

The sanction of tradition and custom which Albrecht and Agnes could not break in Agnes Bernauer Hebbel most impressively demonstrated in Gyges and his Ring. Kandaules, King of Lydia, is a rash innovator in both public and private life. He despises rusty swords and uncomfortable crowns, he means to do away with silly prejudices, and, like Herod, regarding his wife as a precious possession only, he procures for his friend Gyges an opportunity to see her unveiled. But she, an Indian princess, is, in Christine Hebbel's words, a convolution of veils; her veil is inseparable from herself; and the brutal violation of her modesty is a less forgivable crime than the taking of her life would be. The wearing of a veil may be a foolish custom; but use and want hallow even the trivial. Half of our law is based upon precedent, and we are protected at every turn by unwritten law, which is nothing else than precedent. Mankind needs to repose in the security of this protection. Woe to him, said Hebbel, who disturbs the sleep of the world! Changes must come, but rarely in the way of revolution.

The tragedy of the Nibelungen Hebbel approached somewhat differently from the other subjects that he treated. He had his own conception of the tragic content of the matter, of course; but he found that the author of the Nibelungenlied, a dramatist from head to foot, has so clearly presented the tragic aspects of the story that the modern dramatist need only make himself the interpreter of the medieval epic poet. Herewith Hebbel's trilogy is at once distinguished from such other modern treatments of the subject as Geibel's Brunhild or Wagner's Nibelungen Ring. Geibel eliminated everything supernatural; Wagner made use chiefly of the Old Norse versions of the story; Hebbel, on the contrary, dramatized what he regarded as the significant content of the Middle High German poem, retaining its mythological, Christian, chivalrous, historical, and legendary elements. The mythological elements of the epic are indeed indistinct survivals of earlier ages. Hebbel leaned somewhat upon Norse myths in his reproduction of them, though it was part of his plan to preserve a certain indistinctness and mystery in these undramatic presuppositions. Similarly, he made more of the element of Christianity than is made of it by the Nibelungenlied. In both epic and drama the Burgundians are only formally Christian; the cardinal principles of heathen ethics, tribal loyalty and vengeance, are entirely unaffected by the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. In the play, however, the transition from one system to the other is much more strongly emphasized than in the poem. The heathen ethics lead to the mutual destruction of those who profess them, and out of the ruins of the old civilization a new world rises heralded by Theodoric of Verona, who accepts the sovereignty relinquished by Attila the Hun, "in His name who died on the cross."

The downfall of two peoples follows in the train of personal calamity. Siegfried, foreordained by the ancient gods to become the husband of Brunhild, neglects in the adventurous days of youth to woo her, and undertakes for the price of Kriemhild's hand to secure her as a wife for Gunther. Hidden in his cloak of invisibility, he twice overcomes Brunhild, thereby committing against her the same kind of outrage as Herod's against Mariamne, and that of Gyges against Rhodope. Through no direct fault of Siegfried's the fraud is discovered; it is an offense to the queen, which insults the State. Gunther the king will not punish it, for he is under personal obligations to the offender; but he takes no effective measures to prevent punishment by Hagen, who, though his loyal motives are mixed with envy, acts within his rights as the prime minister. But Siegfried, being vulnerable in only one spot, cannot be challenged to open combat; he has to be slain by stealth; so that Hagen's act is not strictly to be called murder, and the Burgundians, even though their sense of solidarity should not require them to make common cause with him against Kriemhild, might with some show of reason confirm his oath that he is no murderer. Siegfried put himself outside the pale of humanity when he assumed the dragon's skin. Dragons are hunted to death. Only men are tried and executed.

We have chosen to examine Hebbel's principal plays from the point of view of their idea, for the reason that, as said above, it was primarily the idea which Hebbel found important in every individual phenomenon. He did not treat cases and conditions for the sake of merely representing life on the stage, but for the sake of exemplifying, in representations of life, the fundamental irreconcilability of the expansive and repressive forces which struggle in every individual. His characters are certainly persons, not abstract constructions; the action in his plays moves relentlessly forward, with no lack of inventiveness on his part or of sensuous impressiveness on the part of his inventions; he seldom fails to convince our understanding that in his dramatic debate each side is adequately represented, and that the side which at length prevails is the stronger under the presuppositions of time and place; it would be unfair, furthermore, to deny the appeal that he makes to our sympathy. But, on the other hand, he is not free from suggestions of artifice; his characters are abnormally introspective and self-explanatory, and they reveal a talent for logical exposition which belongs rather to Friedrich Hebbel than to men of like passions with ourselves. In the unsought, accidental, ingenuous details which ingratiate themselves in spite, or perhaps because of their insignificance, he is not to be compared with Grillparzer; nor, in the capacity to create a poetic atmosphere, with Otto Ludwig. His language is rugged and masculine; his style, frequently forensic. Taken as a whole, his work furnishes more abundant food for thought than objects of naive esthetic enjoyment; but, like Grillparzer's, his plays were written for the stage; and proper enactment has seldom failed to produce with them an effect of power worthy of his powerful personality, which swam against the tide, knowing that the tide would turn and that the flood would bear him to the haven.

* * * * *



FRIEDRICH HEBBEL

* * * * *



MARIA MAGDALENA

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Master ANTONY, a joiner

His Wife

CLARA, his daughter

CARL, his son

LEONARD

_A Secretary_ WOLFRAM, a merchant_

ADAM, a bailiff

Another bailiff

A Boy

A Maid

Place. A fair-sized town



MARIA MAGDALENA (1844)

TRANSLATED BY PAUL BERNARD THOMAS

ACT I

A Room in the Joiner's House.

SCENE I

Enter CLARA; the MOTHER.

CLARA.

Your wedding dress? Oh, how well it becomes you! It looks as if it had been made today!

MOTHER.

Yes, child, fashion keeps on going forward until it can go no farther and has to turn around and go back. This dress has already been out of style and in again ten times.

CLARA.

But this time it is not exactly in style, dear mother! The sleeves are too wide! It must not annoy you!

MOTHER (smiling).

I should have to be you for that! CLARA.

And so this is the way you looked! But surely you carried a bunch of flowers too, didn't you?

MOTHER.

I should hope so! Else why do you think I nursed that sprig of myrtle in the pot for so many years?

CLARA.

I have often asked you to, but you have never before put it on. You have always said: It is no longer my wedding dress; it is my shroud now, and that is something one should not play with. I got so that I couldn't even look at it any more, because, hanging there so white, it always made me think of your death, and of the day when the old women would try to pull it on over your head. Why then today?

MOTHER.

When one is very sick, as I was, and does not know whether one is going to get well again or not, a great many things revolve in one's head. Death is more terrible than you think—oh, it is awful! It casts a shadow over the world; one after the other it blows out all the lights that shine with such cheerful brightness all around us, the kindly eyes of husband and children cease to sparkle, and it grows dark everywhere. But deep in the heart it strikes a light, which burns brightly and reveals a great deal one does not care to see. I am not conscious of ever having done a wrong; I have walked in God's ways, I have done my best about the home, I have brought you and your brother up to fear God, and I have kept together the fruits of your father's hard work. I have always managed to lay aside an extra penny for the poor, and if now and then I have turned somebody away, because I felt out of sorts or because too many came, it wasn't a very great misfortune for him, because I was sure to call him back and give him twice as much. Oh, what does it all amount to? People dread the last hour when it threatens to come, writhe like a worm over it, and implore God to let them live, just as a servant implores his master to let him do something over again that he has done poorly, so that he may not come short in his wages on pay-day.

CLARA.

Don't talk in that way, dear mother! It weakens you.

MOTHER.

No, child, it does me good! Am I not well and strong again now? Did not the Lord call me merely to let me know that my festal robe was not yet pure and spotless? And did he not permit me to come back from the very edge of the grave, and grant me time to prepare myself for the heavenly wedding? He was not as kind as that to those five Virgins in the Gospel, about whom I had you read to me last night. And that is the reason why today, when I am going to the Holy Communion, I put this dress on. I wore it the day I made the best and most pious resolutions of my life; I want it to remind me of those which I have not yet carried out.

CLARA.

You still talk as you did in your illness!



SCENE II

CARL (enters).

Good morning, mother! Well, Clara, I suppose you might put up with me, if I were not your brother?

CLARA.

A gold chain? Where did you get that?

CARL.

Why do I sweat so? Why do I work two hours longer than the others every evening? You are impertinent!

MOTHER.

A quarrel on Sunday morning? Shame on you, Carl!

CARL.

Mother, haven't you got a gulden for me?

MOTHER.

I haven't any money except for the housekeeping!

CARL.

Well, give me some of that then! I won't grumble if you make the pancakes thinner for the next two weeks. You have often done so before! I know that all right! When you were saving up for Clara's white dress, we didn't have anything decent to eat for a month. I shut my eyes, but I knew right well that a new hair ribbon or some other bit of finery was on the way. So let me get something out of it too, for once!

MOTHER.

You are absolutely shameless!

CARL.

I haven't much time, else—[He starts to go.]

MOTHER.

Where are you going?

CARL.

I won't tell you, and then, when the old growler asks you where I am, you can answer without blushing that you don't know. Anyway I don't need your gulden—it is best not to draw all your water from one well.

[To himself.]

Here at home they always think the worst things they can about me; why shouldn't I take pleasure in keeping them worried? Why should I say that, since I don't get my gulden, I shall have to go to church, unless a friend helps me out of my predicament?



SCENE III

CLARA.

What does he mean by that?

MOTHER.

Oh, he grieves me terribly! Yes, yes, your father is right! Those are the consequences! He is just as insolent now in demanding a gulden as he was cunning in pleading for a piece of sugar when he was a little curly-headed baby. I wonder if he would not demand the gulden now, if I had refused him the sugar then? That often hurts me! And I think he doesn't even love me! Did you ever once see him cry during my illness?

CLARA.

I didn't see him very often at best—almost never except at the table. He had more appetite than I!

MOTHER (quickly).

That was natural! He had to work so hard!

CLARA.

To be sure! And how strange men are! They are more ashamed of their tears than they are of their sins! A clenched fist—why not exhibit that? But red eyes!—And father too! The afternoon they opened your vein and no blood came, he sobbed at his work-bench until it moved my very soul! But when I went up to him and stroked his cheeks, what did he say? "See if you can't get this accursed splinter out of my eye! I have so much to do and can't accomplish anything!"

MOTHER (smiling).

Yes! yes!—I never see Leonard any more, by the way. How does that happen?

CLARA.

Let him stay away!

MOTHER.

I hope you are not seeing him anywhere else, except here at the house!

CLARA.

Is it because I stay out too long when I go to the well in the evening that you have reason to suspect that?

MOTHER.

No, not that. But it was just for that reason that I gave him permission to come here to the house, so that he wouldn't lie in wait for you out there in the dark. My mother would never allow that, either!

CLARA.

I don't see him at all!

MOTHER.

Have you had a quarrel? Otherwise I think I might like him—he is so steady! If he only amounted to something! In my time he would not have had to wait long. Then gentlemen were eager for a good penman, as lame people are for their crutch, for they were rare. Even we humble people could use one. Today he would compose for a son a New Year's greeting to his father and receive for the gilded initials alone enough to buy a child's doll with. Tomorrow the father would give him a sly wink and have him read the greeting aloud, secretly and behind closed doors, so as not to be surprised and have his ignorance discovered. That meant double pay. Then penmen were jolly people and made the price of beer high. It is different now. Now we old folks, not knowing anything about reading and writing, must allow ourselves to be made fun of by nine-year-old children. The world is steadily growing wiser; perhaps the time is yet to come when people who can't walk a tight-rope will have to feel ashamed of it!

CLARA.

The bell is ringing!

MOTHER.

Well, child, I will pray for you. And as far as Leonard is concerned, love him as he loves God—no more and no less. That is what my old mother said to me when she died and gave me her blessing. I have kept it long enough; now you have it!

CLARA (hands her a nosegay).

There!

MOTHER.

That certainly comes from Carl.

CLARA (nods; then aside.)

Would it were so! Anything that is to give her real pleasure has to come from him!

MOTHER.

Oh, he is so good—and he likes me! [Exit.]

CLARA (looks after her through the window).

There she goes! Three times I have dreamt that she was lying in her coffin, and now—oh, these awful dreams! I am not going to care about dreams any more; I will take no pleasure in a good dream, and then I shall not have to worry about the bad one that follows it. How firmly and confidently she steps out! She is already close to the church-yard. I wonder who will be the first person she meets? It would signify nothing—no, I mean only [she shudders]—the gravedigger! He has just finished digging a grave and is climbing out of it! She greets him and glances smilingly down into the dismal hole! She throws the nosegay into it and enters the church!

[A choir is heard.]

They are singing: Praise ye the Lord.

[She folds her hands.]

Yes! yes! If my mother had died, I should never have recovered from it, for—[Glances toward Heaven.] But Thou art kind, Thou art merciful! I would that I believed with the Catholics, so that I might offer Thee something! I would empty the whole of my little box of savings and buy Thee a beautiful gilded heart, and twine it with roses. Our pastor says that sacrifices mean nothing to Thee, because everything is Thine, and one should not offer Thee something Thou already hast. And yet everything in the house belongs to my father too; and still he likes it when I buy a piece of cloth with his money and embroider it and put it on his plate for his birthday. Yes, and he honors me by wearing it only on great holidays, at Christmas or Whitsuntide. Once I saw a little mite of a Catholic girl carrying some cherries up to the altar. They were the first the child had had that year, and I could see how she longed to eat them. Still she resisted the innocent desire, and, in order to put an end to the temptation, hurriedly threw them down. The priest, who was just about to pick up the chalice, looked on with a scowl, and the child hastened timidly away. But the Mary above the altar smiled gently, as if she would have liked to step out of her frame and overtake the child and kiss her.—I did it for her! Here comes Leonard. Oh, dear!



SCENE IV

LEONARD (outside the door).

Are you dressed?

CLARA.

Why so polite, so considerate? I am no princess, you know.

LEONARD (enters).

I thought you were not alone! In passing by I thought I saw your neighbor Babbie standing by the window.

CLARA.

And so that is why—

LEONARD.

You are forever so irritable! One can stay away from here for two weeks, rain and sunshine can have alternated ten times, and, when one does finally come again, he finds the same old cloud darkening your face!

CLARA.

Things used to be different!

LEONARD.

Correct! If you had always looked as you do now, we should never have become good friends!

CLARA.

What of it?

LEONARD.

So you feel yourself as free of me as that, do you? Perhaps it serves me right! Then [significantly] your recent toothache was a mere pretext!

CLARA.

Oh, Leonard, it was not right of you!

LEONARD.

Not right for me to seek to bind to me the greatest treasure that I have—for that is what you are to me—with the firmest of all bonds? And especially at a time when I stood in danger of losing it? Do you think I did not see the furtive glances you exchanged with the Secretary? That was a triumphant day of joy for me! I take you to the dance and— CLARA.

You never stop saying things that hurt me! I looked at the Secretary, why should I deny it? But only on account of the moustache he had grown at the University, and which—

[She checks herself.]

LEONARD.

Becomes him so well—isn't that it? Isn't that what you started to say? Oh, you women! Anything that looks like a soldier, even a caricature of one, you like. To me the fop's ridiculous little oval face, with that tuft of hair in the middle of it, looked like a little white rabbit hiding behind a bush. I am bitter toward him—I won't try to conceal it. He held me back from you long enough!

CLARA.

I didn't praise him, did I? You don't need to run him down!

LEONARD.

You still seem to take a lot of interest in him.

CLARA.

We used to play together as children, and afterward—you know very well!

LEONARD.

Oh yes, I know! And that's just why!

CLARA.

Then I think it was only natural, seeing him again for the first time in a long while that way, for me to look at him and be astonished to see how big and—[She checks herself.]

LEONARD.

Why did you blush then, when he looked back at you?

CLARA.

I thought he was looking at the little mole on my left cheek to see if it, too, had grown bigger! You know I always imagine people are looking at that when they stare at me so, and it always makes me blush. I have a feeling as if it were growing larger, as long as they look at it!

LEONARD.

However that may be, it got on my nerves, and I thought to myself: This very evening I will put her to the test! If she wants to become my wife, she knows that she risks nothing. If she says no, then—

CLARA.

Oh, you said a bad, bad word, when I pushed you back and jumped up from the bench. The moon, which up to that time had shone in through the foliage with such kindly consideration for me, at that moment sank shrewdly behind the wet clouds. I wanted to hurry away, but felt something holding me. At first I thought it was you, but it was the rose-bush, whose thorns held my dress like teeth. You outraged my heart, so that I no longer trusted it myself. You stood before me like one demanding the payment of a debt! I—Oh, God!



LEONARD.

I cannot yet regret it. I knew it was the only way I could have kept you to myself. The old girlhood love was opening its eyes again, and I could not close them quickly enough!

CLARA.

When I got home, I found my mother ill, mortally ill. She had been stricken suddenly, as if by an invisible hand. My father had wanted to send for me, but she would not consent to his doing so, not wishing to interrupt my happiness. And how I felt when I heard that! I held myself aloof, I did not dare to touch her, I trembled! She took it for childish anxiety and motioned me over to her; when I slowly drew near her, she held me down and kissed my desecrated mouth. I lost control of myself; I wanted to confess to her, to cry out what I thought and felt: It is my fault that you are lying there! I tried to do so, but tears and sobs choked my voice. She reached for my father's hand, and said with a blissful glance at me: What a heart!

LEONARD.

She is well again. I have come to congratulate her, and—what do you think?

CLARA.

What?

LEONARD.

To ask your father for your hand.

CLARA.

Oh!

LEONARD.

Don't you want me to?

CLARA.

Want you to? It will mean my death, if I do not become your wife pretty soon! But you do not know my father! He does not understand why we are in such a hurry—he cannot understand why, and we cannot tell him why! And he has declared a hundred times that he will never give his daughter to any man unless he has not only, as he says, love in his heart for her, but also bread in his cupboard for her. He will say: Wait another year or two, my son.—And what will be your answer?

LEONARD. You foolish girl, that difficulty is disposed of! I have the position now—I am cashier!

CLARA.

You cashier? And the other applicant, the pastor's nephew?

LEONARD.

Was drunk when he came to the examination, bowed to the stove instead of to the burgomaster, and when he sat down knocked three cups off the table. You know how hot-headed the old fellow is. "Sir!" he exclaimed angrily, but he restrained himself and bit his lip. Nevertheless his eyes glared through his spectacles like the eyes of a serpent about to spring, and his whole body became rigid. Then we started computing and, ha! ha!—my rival computed with a multiplication table of his own invention that gave entirely new results. "He's way off in his reckoning!" said the burgomaster, and, glancing in my direction, held out his hand to me with the appointment. It smelled terribly of tobacco, but I took it and raised it humbly to my lips.—Here it is now, signed and sealed!

CLARA.

That comes—

LEONARD.

Unexpectedly, doesn't it? Well, it was not altogether an accident either. Why didn't I come to see you for two weeks?

CLARA.

How do I know? I think it was because we got angry at each other the Sunday before!

LEONARD.

Oh, I was cunning enough to bring about that little disagreement on purpose—so that I could stay away without its astonishing you too much!

CLARA.

I don't understand you!

LEONARD.

I suppose not. I took advantage of the time to pay court to the burgomaster's little hump-backed niece, whom the old fellow thinks so much of, and who is his right hand, just as the bailiff is his left. Understand me correctly! I didn't say anything nice to her about herself, except perhaps a compliment regarding her hair, which everybody knows is red—so I just told her some nice things she liked to hear about you.

CLARA.

About me?

LEONARD.

Why should I keep still about it? I did it with the best of intentions—as if I had never intended to deal seriously with you, as if—enough! That lasted until I got this in my hands, and the credulous little man-crazy fool will find out what I meant when she hears the banns of our marriage published in the church.

CLARA.

Leonard!

LEONARD.

Child! child! You be as innocent as a dove, and I will be as wise as a serpent. Then, since a man and his wife are one, we shall entirely satisfy the demand of the Gospel.

[Laughs.]

Neither was it altogether an accident that young Hermann was drunk at the most important moment of his life. You have surely never heard that the fellow is given to drinking?

CLARA.

Not a word.

LEONARD.

The fact made the execution of my scheme all the easier. It was done with three glasses. I had a couple of friends of mine waylay him. "May one drink to your health?"—"Not now!"—"Oh, that is all arranged, you know. Your uncle"—"And now, drink, my brother, drink!"—This morning when I was on my way to you, he stood leaning on the bridge and gazing dejectedly down at the river. I greeted him sarcastically, and asked him if he had dropped anything into the water. "Yes," he answered, without looking up, "and perhaps it would be well for me to jump in after it."

CLARA.

You bad man! Get out of my sight!

LEONARD.

You mean it?

[Moves, as if to go.]

CLARA.

Oh, my God, I am chained to this man!

LEONARD.

Don't be a baby! And now one more word in confidence: Does your father still keep the thousand thalers in the apothecary shop?

CLARA.

I know nothing about it.

LEONARD.

Nothing about so important a matter?

CLARA.

Here comes my father.

LEONARD.

Understand me! The apothecary is said to be on the verge of bankruptcy—that's why I asked!

CLARA.

I must go into the kitchen! [Exit.]

LEONARD (alone).

Well, I guess there is nothing to be got here! I can't understand it at all; for Master Antony is one of those fellows whose ghost, if you should accidentally put one too many letters on his gravestone, would haunt you until you took it off. For he would regard it as dishonest to appropriate more of the alphabet than he was properly entitled to.



SCENE V

Enter LEONARD; Master ANTONY.

ANTONY.

Good morning, Mr. Cashier! [He takes off his cap and puts on a woolen cap.] Is it permissible for an old man to keep his head covered?

LEONARD.

You know then—

ANTONY.

Since yesterday evening. When I was going over in the dusk to take the deceased miller's measure for his final sleeping room, I heard a couple of your good friends slandering you. I thought right away: I guess Leonard has not broken his neck.—At the house I heard more about it from the sexton, who had come to console the widow, and, incidentally, to get drunk.

LEONARD.

And you had to let Clara find out about it from me?

ANTONY.

If you didn't care enough about it to give the girl that pleasure yourself, why should I do it? I don't light any candles in my house except those that belong to me. Then I know that nobody is going to come and blow them out, just as we are beginning to enjoy them.

LEONARD.

Surely you don't think that I—

ANTONY.

Think? About you? About anybody? I smooth over boards with my plane, but I never smooth over men with my thoughts. I stopped that sort of foolishness long ago. When I see a tree growing, I think to myself: It will soon be blossoming; and when it sprouts: It will soon bear fruit. In that I never see myself disappointed, and for that reason I don't give up the old habit. But about men I never think anything, good or bad, and then I don't have to turn alternately red and white when they disappoint my fears one minute and my hopes the next. I merely observe them and use the evidence of my eyes, which likewise do not think, but only see. I thought I had made a complete observation of you, but now that I find you here I must confess that it was only half an observation.

LEONARD.

Master Antony, you have it all upside down. Trees are dependent upon wind and weather, whereas men have laws and rules in themselves to govern them.

ANTONY.

Do you think so? Yes, we old people owe hearty thanks to death for allowing us to run around so long among you young folks, thereby giving us an opportunity to educate ourselves. Formerly the stupid world used to think that the father was there to educate his son. But now the son is supposed to give his father the final touch of perfection, so that the poor, simple man will not need to feel ashamed of himself before the worms in his grave. God be praised! I have a fine teacher in my son Carl who, without sparing his old child by indulgence, takes the field against my prejudices. He taught me two new lessons this very morning, and in the most clever way, without opening his mouth and without even letting me see him—yes, by that very means. In the first place, he showed me that it is not necessary for a man to keep his word; in the second, that it is superfluous to go to church and freshen up one's memory of God's laws. Yesterday evening he promised me that he would go, and I counted on his doing it, for I thought to myself: He will want to thank the gracious Creator for the recovery of his mother. But he wasn't there, and I was very comfortable all alone in my pew, which, to be sure, is a little too short for two persons anyway. I wonder if he would like it if I myself were to act in accordance with the new doctrine, by not keeping my word with him? I have promised him a new suit for his birthday, and I might take the opportunity to test his joy over my docility. But prejudice! Prejudice! I shall not do it!

LEONARD.

Perhaps he was not well—

ANTONY.

Possibly! I need only to ask my wife, then I am sure to hear that he is sick. For she tells me the truth about everything else in the world, but never about the boy. And even if he was not sick!—There too the younger generation has the advantage over us old folks, in that they can find their spiritual edification anywhere, and can do their worshipping when they are out trapping birds, or taking a walk, or sitting in the ale-house. "Our Father who art in Heaven"—"Good day, Peter, shall I see you at the dance this evening?"—"Hallowed be Thy name"—"Yes, laugh if you will, Catherine, but it is true"—"Thy will be done"—"The devil take me, I am not shaved yet!"—and so forth. And each one pronounces the blessing on himself, for he is a man just as much as the preacher, and the power that emanates from a black garb certainly exists in a blue one as well. Nor have I anything to say against it; even if you want to intersperse the seven petitions with seven glasses, what of it? I can't prove to anybody that beer and religion don't mix well, and perhaps it will some day get into the liturgy as a new way of taking the Eucharist. Frankly, I myself, old sinner that I am, am not strong enough to keep pace with fashion; I cannot catch up worship in the street, as if it were a cockchafer; for me the chirping of swallows and sparrows cannot take the place of the organ. If I want to feel my heart exalted, I must hear the heavy, iron doors of the church close behind me and think to myself that they are the doors of the world. The dismal high walls with their narrow windows, that admit but a dim remnant of the bold garish daylight as if they were sifting it, must surround me on all sides. And in the distance I must be able to see the charnel-house, with its death-head cut in the wall. Oh well, better is better.

LEONARD.

You are too particular about it!

ANTONY.

Of course! Of course! And today, as an honest man, I must confess that what I have been saying did not hold good; for I lost my reverent mood in church, being annoyed by the vacant seat beside me, and found it again under the pear-tree in my garden. You are astonished? But look! I went sadly and dejectedly home, like one whose harvest has been ruined by hail; for children are like fields—we sow good corn in them and weeds sprout up. Under the pear-tree, which the caterpillars have half eaten up, I stood still. "Yes," I thought, "the boy is like this tree, empty and barren." Then I suddenly imagined that I was very thirsty, and absolutely had to go over to the tavern. I deceived myself—it wasn't to get a glass of beer that I wanted to go; it was to seek out the young man and take him to task in the tavern, where I knew he was sure to be. I was just about to start, when the sensible old tree let fall a juicy pear right at my feet, as if to say: Take that for your thirst, and for slandering me by comparing me with that good-for-nothing son of yours. I deliberated a moment, took a bite of it, and went into the house.

LEONARD.

Do you know that the apothecary is on the verge of bankruptcy?

ANTONY.

What do I care?

LEONARD.

Don't you care at all

ANTONY.

Surely! I am a Christian—the man has several children!

LEONARD.

And still more creditors. The children, too, are creditors in a way.

ANTONY.

Happy is he who is neither the one nor the other!

LEONARD.

I thought you yourself—

ANTONY.

That was settled up long ago.

LEONARD.

You are a prudent man; of course you immediately demanded your money when you saw that the green-grocer was about to fail.

ANTONY.

Yes, I need not tremble any more with the fear of losing it—it was lost long ago!

LEONARD.

You are joking!

ANTONY.

In all seriousness!

CLARA (looks in at the door).

Did you call, father?

ANTONY.

Are your ears beginning to ring already? We had not talked about you yet!

CLARA.

The weekly paper!

LEONARD.

You are a philosopher!

ANTONY.

What do you mean by that?

LEONARD.

You know how to compose yourself.

ANTONY.

I wear a mill-stone as a cravat sometimes, instead of going to the river with it. That gives one a strong back.

LEONARD.

Let him who can imitate you.

ANTONY.

He who has such a gallant fellow to help him bear it, as I seem to have found in you, ought to be able to dance under the burden. You have grown quite pale. I call that sympathy!

LEONARD.

I hope you don't misunderstand me!

ANTONY.

Certainly not!

[He drums on a dresser.]

That wood is not transparent, is it?

LEONARD.

I do not understand you!

ANTONY.

How foolish it was of our grandfather Adam to take Eve, when she was naked and destitute, and did not even bring a fig-leaf with her. We two, you and I, would have scourged her out of Paradise as a tramp! What do you think?

LEONARD.

You are exasperated with your son.—I have come to you regarding your daughter—

ANTONY.

You had better be careful!—Perhaps I'll not say no!

LEONARD.

I hope you will not. And I will tell you what I think: The patriarchs themselves never used to scorn the dowries of their women. Jacob loved Rachel and courted her seven years, but he also liked the fat rams and sheep that he earned in her father's service. That, I think, was not to his discredit, and to outdo him in anything would be to put him to the blush. I should have liked very much to see your daughter bring a couple of hundred thalers with her; and that was quite natural, because she herself would thereby be so much the better off with me. If a girl brings her bed in her trunk, then she will not have to card wool and spin yarn. In this case it will not be so, but what of it? We'll make a Sunday dinner out of Lenten fare, and a Christmas feast out of Sunday's roast. In that way we'll make out all right!

ANTONY (offers him his hand).

You talk well, and God smiles on your words. Well, I will forget that for fourteen days at tea-time my daughter put a cup on the table for you in vain. And now that you are to be my son-in-law, I will tell you where the thousand thalers are!

LEONARD (aside).

So they are gone then! Well, I shall not have to go out of my way to please the old werewolf, even if he is my father-in-law!

ANTONY.

Things went hard with me in my early years. I was no more of a bristly hedgehog than you when I came into the world, but I have gradually grown to be one. At first all the quills in my case pointed inward, and people found pleasure in pricking and pinching my soft smooth skin, and were amused to see me flinch when the points penetrated into my very heart and bowels. But the thing did not appeal to me; I turned my skin inside out and then the quills pricked their fingers and I had peace.

LEONARD (to himself).

Safe from the very devil, methinks!

ANTONY.

My father, by not allowing himself any rest day or night, worked himself to death in his thirtieth year, and my mother nourished me as well as she could with her spinning. I grew up without learning anything. When I became larger and was still unable to earn any money, I would gladly have disaccustomed myself to eating; but when now and then at noon I would pretend to be sick and push back my plate, what did it mean? It meant that in the evening my stomach would compel me to announce myself well again! My greatest grief was that I was so unskilled. I used to blame myself for it, as if it were my own fault, as if in my mother's womb I had been supplied with nothing but teeth to eat with, as if I had purposely left behind me there all the useful capabilities and assets. I used to blush with shame when the sun shone on me. Just after my confirmation the man whom they buried yesterday, Master Gebhard, came into our house. He scowled and made a wry face, as he always used to frown when he had anything good in mind to do. Then he said to my mother: "Did you bring your youngster into the world in order to let him eat the very nose and ears off your head?" I felt ashamed and put the loaf of bread, from which I was just on the point of cutting off a piece, back into the cupboard again. My mother took offense at his well-meant words; she stopped her wheel and replied vehemently that her son was a fine good fellow. "Well, we will see about that," said the Master. "If he wants to, he can come right now, just as he stands there, into my workshop with me. I do not ask any money for teaching him; he will get his board, and his clothes I will also supply; and if he wants to get up early and go to bed late, opportunities will not be wanting for him to earn a little money on the side for his old mother." My mother began to cry and I to dance. When we finally came to an agreement, the Master closed up his ears, walked out, and motioned me to follow. I did not need to put a hat on, for I had none. Without saying good-by to my mother, I went after him. And on the following Sunday, when I was allowed to go back to her little room for the first time, he gave me half a ham to take with me. God's blessing on the good man's grave! I still hear his half-angry: "Tony, under your coat with it, so my wife won't see it!"

LEONARD.

You are not crying?

ANTONY (dries his eyes).

Yes, I can never think of that without its starting the tears, no matter how well the source of them may have been stopped up. Oh well, that's all right! If I should ever get the dropsy, I shall at any rate not have to draw off these drops too.

[With a sudden turn.]

What do you think about it?—Supposing on a Sunday afternoon you went over to smoke a pipe of tobacco with a friend, a friend to whom you owed everything in the world; and supposing you found him greatly confused and perturbed, a knife in his hand—the same knife you had used a thousand times to cut his evening bread—and holding it, covered with blood, at his neck, and nervously drawing his handkerchief up to his chin—

LEONARD.

And that is the way old Gebhard went about to the end of his days.

ANTONY.

On account of the scar. And supposing you arrived in time to help save him, but to do it you had not only to wrench the knife out of his hand and bandage the wound, but you had also to give over a paltry thousand thalers that you had saved up; and, furthermore, you had to do it all absolutely on the sly, so as to induce the sick man to accept it, what would you do?

LEONARD.

Being a free and single man, without wife and child, I would sacrifice the money.

ANTONY.

And if you had ten wives, like the Turks, and as many children as were promised to Father Abraham, and if you took only one second to think about it, you would be—Well, you are to be my son-in-law! Now you know where the money is. Today I could tell you, for my old Master is buried; a month ago I would have kept the secret even on my death-bed. I slipped the note under the dead man's head before they nailed up the coffin. If I had known how to write, I would have written underneath: "Honestly paid!" But, ignorant as I am, there was nothing for me to do but tear the paper in two. Now he will sleep in peace—and I hope that I shall too, when they stretch me out beside him.



SCENE VI

MOTHER (enters hurriedly).

Do you still know me?

ANTONY (pointing to the wedding dress).

The frame, yes—that is perfectly preserved; but the picture—not so well. It seems to be covered with cobwebs. Oh, well! there has been time enough for it.

MOTHER.

Have I not a frank husband? Still, I do not need to praise him specially—frankness is a virtue of married men!

ANTONY.

Are you sorry that you were better gilded at twenty than you are at fifty?

MOTHER.

Certainly not! If I were, I ought to be ashamed both for myself and for you!

ANTONY.

Give me a kiss then! I am shaved and look better than usual.

MOTHER.

I say yes, merely to test you, to see if you still understand the art. It is a long time since such a thing has occurred to you!

ANTONY.

Good mother, I will not ask you to close my eyes; that is a hard thing to do, and I will take it off your hands. I will do that final service of love for you. But you must grant me time, understand, to harden and prepare myself for it, so that I won't make a botch of it. It would have been much too soon!

MOTHER.

Thank God that we are still going to have a little time together!

ANTONY.

I hope so too! You have your old red cheeks again!

MOTHER.

A comical fellow, our new grave-digger! He was digging a grave this morning when I passed through the church-yard. I asked him whom it was for. "For whomsoever God wills," he said. "Perhaps for myself. The same thing may happen to me that happened to my grandfather; he too had dug one on chance once, and at night when he came home from the Inn he fell into it and broke his neck."

LEONARD (who, up to this time, has been reading the weekly paper).

The fellow doesn't come from here—he can tell all the lies he likes.

MOTHER.

I asked him: "Why don't you wait until somebody orders a grave dug?" "I was invited to a wedding today," he said, "and I am enough of a prophet to know that I would still feel the effects of it in my head tomorrow if I went. Now of course some body has been inconsiderate enough to go and die, so that in the morning I would have to get up early and would not be able to sleep it off."

ANTONY.

"You clown!" I would have said, "supposing now the grave doesn't fit?"

MOTHER.

I said that too, but he shook sharp answers out of his sleeve, as the devil does fleas. "I took the measurement for Veit, the weaver," he said, "who, like King Saul, towers a head above everybody else. Now, come who may, he will not find his house too small; and if it is too large, that doesn't hurt anybody but me, for, as an honest man, I never charge for a single foot more than the length of the coffin." I threw my flowers into the grave and said: "Now it is occupied!"

ANTONY.

I think the fellow was only joking, and even that is sinful enough. To dig graves in advance is to set the trap of death too soon; the scoundrel who does it ought to be driven out of the business.

[To LEONARD, who is still reading.]

What's the news? Is there any philanthropist looking for a poor widow, who can use a few hundred thalers, or, vice versa, a poor widow looking for a philanthropist who can supply them?

LEONARD.

The police announce the theft of some jewelry. Strange enough! It seems that, in spite of the hard times, there are still people among us who can own jewels!

ANTONY.

The theft of some jewelry? Where?

LEONARD.

Over at Wolfram's.

ANTONY.

At—impossible! Carl polished a desk there a few days ago!

LEONARD.

They were taken from a desk. Right!

MOTHER (to Master ANTONY).

May God forgive you for saying that!

ANTONY.

You are right—it was a vile thought!

MOTHER.

To your son you are only half a father! I must tell you that!

ANTONY.

Wife! We'll not discuss that today!

MOTHER.

He is not like you—but is that any reason why he must be bad?

ANTONY.

Then where is he now? The noon hour struck long ago! I'll wager the dinner is burning and spoiling, because Clara has secret orders not to set the table until he is here!

MOTHER.

Where do you think he is? At the worst he is only bowling, and he has to go the longest way about so that you won't see him. Naturally it takes him a long time to get back!—I cannot see what you have against the innocent game.

ANTONY.

Against the game? Nothing whatever! Noble men must have some way to pass the time. Without the king of hearts, the real kings would often find life tedious; and if bowling balls had not been invented, who knows whether princes and barons would not be using our heads for the purpose? But an ordinary workingman cannot do anything worse than spend his hard-earned money on games. We must respect that which we have laboriously earned in the sweat of our brows; we must hold it high and precious, unless we are to lose our bearings and regard all our works and doings with contempt. How can I strain all my nerves to earn a thaler which I intend to throw away?

[The door-bell is heard outside.]



SCENE VII

Enter ADAM, a Bailiff; another Bailiff.

ADAM (to Master ANTONY).

Now, you just go ahead and pay your wager! No people in red coats with blue trimmings [with emphasis] shall ever enter your house, eh?—Well, here are two of us!

[To the other bailiff.]

Why don't you keep your hat on, as I do? Who is going to observe formalities among people of his own class?

ANTONY.

Your own class? You blackguard!

ADAM.

You are right—we are not among our own class! Scoundrels and thieves are not of our class! [Points to the dresser.] Open that up! And then three steps away—so that you can't sneak anything out of it!

ANTONY.

What? What?

CLARA (enters with things to set the table).

Shall I—[She stops, speechless.]

ADAM (exhibits a paper).

Can you read writing?

ANTONY.

Should I be able to do what even my schoolmaster could not do?

ADAM.

Then listen! Your son has stolen some jewelry! We have the thief already! Now we are here to search the house!

MOTHER (falls down and dies).

Oh, God!

CLARA.

Mother! Mother! How her eyes roll!

LEONARD.

I will fetch a doctor!

ANTONY.

Not necessary! That is the last look! I have seen it a hundred times! Good night, Theresa! You died when you heard it! Let them write that on your gravestone!

LEONARD.

But perhaps it is [starts to go]—awful! But lucky for me!

[Exit.]

ANTONY (pulls a bunch of keys from his pocket and throws them down).

There! Unlock everything! Drawer after drawer! Bring the ax! The key to the trunk is lost! Ha! Scoundrels and thieves! [He turns his pockets inside out.] I find nothing here!

SECOND BAILIFF.

Master Antony, calm yourself! Everybody knows that you are the most honest man in town!

ANTONY.

So? So?

[Laughs.]

Yes,

I have used up all the honesty in the family! There, poor boy! There was none left for him! She too [points to the dead body] was much too virtuous!—Who knows whether or not the daughter—[Suddenly to CLARA]

What do you think, my innocent child?

CLARA.

Father!

SECOND BAILIFF (to ADAM).

Have you no pity?

ADAM.

Pity? Am I prying into the old fellow's pockets? Am I forcing him to take off his stockings and turn his shoes inside out? I meant to start out with doing that—for I hate him like poison, ever since that time in the tavern when he—you know what I refer to, and you would feel insulted too, if you had any self respect about you!

[To CLARA.]

Where is your brother's room?

CLARA (points).

Back there!

[Both Bailiffs, exeunt.]

CLARA.

Father, he is innocent! He must be innocent! He is your son, my brother!

ANTONY.

Innocent, and a matricide?

[Laughs.]

A MAID (enters with a letter to CLARA).

From the cashier, Mr. Leonard.

ANTONY.

You need not read it! He declares himself free of you!

[Claps his hands.]

Bravo, scoundrel

CLARA (reads it).

Yes! Yes! Oh, my God

ANTONY.

Let him go!

CLARA.

Father, father, I cannot—

ANTONY.

You cannot? Cannot? What do you mean? Are you?—

Both BAILIFFS reenter.

ADAM (spitefully).

Seek and ye shall find!

SECOND BAILIFF (to ADAM).

What do you mean by that? Did it turn out so today?

ADAM.

Hold your tongue!

[Exeunt both.]

ANTONY.

He is innocent—and you—you—

CLARA.

Father, you are terrible!

ANTONY (grasps her hand very gently).

Dear daughter, Carl is only a bungler. He has killed his mother, and what does it mean? His father remains alive! So, come to his aid—you cannot ask him to do everything alone. You must make an end of me! The old trunk still looks rugged, doesn't it? But it has begun to totter already—it will not cost you much trouble to fell it! You need not reach for the ax. You have a pretty face—I have never praised you, but today I will tell you, so that you may acquire courage and confidence. Your eyes, nose, mouth are surely admired! Become—You understand me?—Or tell me, I have an idea that you are already—

CLARA (almost crazy, throws herself with uplifted arms at the feet of her mother, and cries out like a child).

Mother! Mother!

ANTONY.

Take your mother's hand and swear to me that you are what you should be!

CLARA.

I—swear—that—I—will—never—bring—disgrace-on—you!

ANTONY.

Good!

[He puts on his hat.]

It is beautiful weather! We will go out and run the gauntlet! Up the street! Down the street!

[Exeunt.]



ACT II

A Room in the Master Joiner's House.



SCENE I

ANTONY (rises from the table).

CLARA (starts to clear off the dishes).

ANTONY.

Have you lost your appetite again?

CLARA.

Father, I have had enough.

ANTONY.

But you have taken nothing!

CLARA.

I ate out in the kitchen.

ANTONY.

A bad appetite means a guilty conscience. Oh, well, we shall see—or was there poison in the soup, as I dreamt yesterday? Perhaps some wild hemlock got in with the other vegetables by mistake, when they were gathered?—In that case you did well!

CLARA. Great Heavens!

ANTONY.

Forgive me! I—Away with your pale sad look, which you stole from our Savior's Mother! One should look ruddy when one is young! There is but one who might show such a face, and he does not do it! Hey! A box on the ear for every man who says "ouch!" when he cuts his finger! No man has any right to do that now, for here stands a man who—ugh!—self-praise stinks!—But what did I do when our neighbor started to nail down the cover of your mother's coffin?

CLARA.

You wrenched the hammer away from him and did it yourself, and said: "This is my masterpiece!" The preceptor, who was just then leading the choir boys in the dirge over by the door, thought you had gone crazy.

ANTONY.

Crazy?

[Laughs.]

Crazy. Yes, yes, it is a wise head that cuts itself off at the right time. Mine must be too firmly fastened on, or else—We squat down in the world and imagine ourselves sitting behind the stove in a good inn. Suddenly a light is placed on the table and, behold! we find ourselves sitting in a den of thieves! There is a bing! bang! on all sides, but no harm it done—fortunately we have hearts of stone!

CLARA.

Yes, father, so it is.

ANTONY.

What do you know about it? Do you think you have a right to curse with me because your clerk has deserted you? There will be another to take you walking Suliday afternoons, another to tell you that your cheeks are rosy and your eyes blue, and still another to take you as his wife, if you deserve it! Wait until you have borne the burdens of life in chastity and honor for thirty years, and have endured sorrow and death and every human adversity with uncomplaining patience; then let your son, who ought to stuff a soft pillow for your old head, come and so overwhelm you with disgrace that you would like to cry out to the earth: Swallow me, if it does not sicken thee, for I am muddier than thou! Then you may utter all the curses that I suppress in my bosom, then you may tear your hair and beat your breasts!—You have that advantage over me, for you are not a man!

CLARA.

Oh, Carl!

ANTONY.

I wonder what I shall do when I see him again before me, when he comes home some evening before candlelight with his hair shaved off—for hair-dressing is not allowed in the penitentiary—and stammers out a good evening, keeping his hand on the door-knob? I shall do something, that is certain—but what?

[Gnashes his teeth.]

And if they keep him locked up for ten years, he shall find me, for I shall live until then—that much I know! Mark you, Death, what I say: From now on I am a stone in front of your scythe! It shall fly to pieces before it shall budge me!

CLARA (grasps his hand).

Father, you ought to lie down and rest for half an hour!

ANTONY.

To dream that you are about to be confined? And then to fly into a passion and seize you, and afterward bethink myself too late and say: "Dear daughter, I did not know what I was doing!" Thank you! My sleep has dismissed the magician and employed a prophet, who points out loathsome things to me with his bloody finger! I don't know how it is—everything seems possible to me now. Ugh! I shudder at the future as at a glass of water seen under the microscope—is that the right word, Mr. Precentor? You have spelled it out for me often enough! I looked through one once in Nuremburg at the fair, and couldn't drink any more water all day long. Last night I saw my dear Carl with a pistol in his hand; when I looked closer into his eyes he pulled the trigger. I heard a cry, but could see nothing on account of the smoke. When it cleared away, I saw no shattered skull—but my fine son had in the mean time come to be a rich man; he was standing and counting gold pieces from one hand into the other. His face—the Devil take me!—a man could have no calmer one after working all day and closing the door of his workshop behind him at night! Well, that's a thing one might prevent! One might take the law into one's own hands, and afterward present one's self before the supreme Judge!

CLARA.

Calm yourself!

ANTONY.

Get well again you mean to say! Why am I sick? Yes, doctor, hand me the drink that shall make me well! Your brother is the worst of sons; be you the best of daughters! Like a worthless bankrupt I stand before the eyes of the world! I owed it a fine man to take the place of this weak invalid, and I cheated it with a scoundrel! Be you such a woman as your mother was, and then people will say: It does not come from his parents that the boy went wrong, for the daughter treads the path of righteousness and excels all others.

[With terrible coldness.]

And I will do my part in the matter; I will make it easier for you than it is for others. The moment I see anybody point his fingers at you, I shall [with a motion toward his neck_] shave myself, and then, I swear to you, I shall shave off head and all. Then you may say I did it from fright, because a horse ran away in the street, or because the cat overturned a chair on the floor, or because a mouse ran up my legs. Anybody that knows me, to be sure, will shake his head at that, for I am not easily frightened—but what difference does that make? I could not endure to live in a world where the people would refrain from spitting at me simply out of pity.

CLARA.

Merciful God! What shall I do?

ANTONY.

Nothing, nothing, dear child! I am too severe with you—I realize it. Do nothing—be just as you are, and it is all right. Oh, I have suffered such rank injustice that I myself must do injustice in order not to succumb to it when it grips me so hard! Listen! Not long ago I was going across the street when I met that pock-marked thief, Fritz, whom I had thrown into jail a few years ago because for the third time he had shown himself light-fingered in my house. Formerly the scoundrel never even dared to look at me; now he walked boldly up and offered me his hand. I felt like boxing his ears, but I bethought myself and did not even spit. We have been cousins for a week now, and it is proper for relatives to greet each other! The minister, the sympathetic man who visited me yesterday, said that no man had anybody to look out for but himself, and that it was unchristian pride for me to hold myself responsible for the sins of my son; otherwise Adam would have to take it just as much to heart as I. Sir, I verily believe that it no longer troubles our first ancestor in Paradise when one of his descendants begins to rob and murder.—But did not he himself tear his hair over Cain? No, no, it is too much! Sometimes I find myself looking around at my shadow to see if it too has not grown blacker. For I can endure anything and everything, and have given proof of it, but not disgrace! Put on my back what burdens you choose, but do not sever the nerve that holds me together!

CLARA.

Father, Carl has not yet confessed anything, and they have found nothing on him.

ANTONY.

What difference does that make to me? I have gone around the town and inquired at the different drinking-places about his debts. They amount to more than he could have earned under me in a quarter of a year even were he three times as industrious as he is! Now I know why he always left off work two hours later than I every evening, and why, in spite of that, he got up before me in the morning. But he soon saw that it all did no good, or else that it was too much trouble for him and took too long; so he embraced the opportunity when it presented itself!

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