« PrécédentContinuer »
on enquiry, what the noise of the firing lingly, and we had no foreboding of might have before made plain to him, the mischief which we were preparing that all went well for the French, and for him and for ourselves. The stairthere was no chance of their retreat. case ran freely through the whole Having reached his house, full of ill. house, past all the sitting rooms. My humour, the sight of his wounded and father, in going down, could not pass captured countrymen drove him alto- by the Count's apartment. His antegether from his usual self-command. room was so full of people, that, in He, too, had various benefactions be- order to get through more at once, he stowed upon those passing by; but would come out, and this unhappily only the Germans were to have them, took place in the moment when my which was not always possible, be- father was passing. The Count went cause destiny had heaped together up to him cheerfully, and said, “You friends and foes.
must congratulate me and yourself My mother and we children, who that this dangerous business is so well had previously reckoned on the Count's ended." “ Not at all!” answered my word, and bad therefore passed a to- father, with rage, “ I wish it had sent lerably quiet day, were highly pleased, you to the devil, even if I had been and my mother doubly comforted, forced to keep you company.” The when she enquired the next day at the Count paused a moment, but then burst oracle of her little treasure-box by out furiously, “ You shall suffer for means of the point of a needle, and this. You shall find that it is not for received a very cheering answer for nothing you offered this insult to the the present as well as the future. We good cause and to me!” wished our father the same faith and In the mean while my father came the same feelings ; we flattered him quietly down, seated himself near us, all we could; we entreated him to seemed more cheerful than usual, and take some food, which he had abstain began to eat. We rejoiced at this, and ed from all day. But he rejected our did not know in how perilous a way earesses and every kind of enjoyment, he had rolled the stone off his heart. and betook himself to his room. Our Soon after my mother was called out, joy, nevertheless, was not disturbed ; and we had great delight in chattering the business was decided; the King's to my father of all the sweet things lieutenant, who, contrary to his cus- that the Count had given us. My tom, had to-day been on horseback, mother did not come back. At last returned at last, and his presence at the interpreter came in. On a hint home was more necessary than ever. from him we were sent to bed, and as We sprang to meet him, kissed his it was already late, we obeyed willingly. hands, and expressed our joy to him. After a night of quiet sleep, we heard of This seemed to give him much pleasure. the violent movement which had shaken “ Well," he said, more mildly than the house on the previous evening. usual, “I am glad also on your ac- The King's lieutenant had immediatecount, my dear children!" He immedi- ly commanded my father to be taken ately ordered us sweetmeats, sweet to the guard-house. The subalterns wine, and the best of every thing, and were perfectly aware that he was never went to his apartment, surrounded al- to be contradicted; but they had often ready by a throng of the urgent, the earned thanks by delaying their obeclamant, and the suppliant.
dience. The interpreter, so closely We had now a rich collation-pitied connected with my mother, and whose our good father who could not share presence of mind never abandoned in it, and pressed my mother to call him, was able to excite this disposition him. But she had more prudence, and very strongly in them. The confusion knew well how unpleasant such gifts besides was so great, that a delay would be to him. Meanwhile she had naturally concealed and excused itself. prepared some supper, and would fain He had called out my mother, and put have sent it to his room, but he never her, as it were, into the hands of the permitted such an irregularity, not aides de camp, that by entreaties and even in the extremest cases; and after representations she might gain at the sweet presesnts had been put aside, least a little time. He himself hastenwe tried to persuade him to come down ed quietly up to the Count, who, from into the usual eating-room. At last his great self-command, had immedihe let himself be prevailed on unwil- ately retired into his inner room and
rather let the most urgent business
to my face.
Be they as many as they stop for a while, than wreak on an may, they shall be punished in the perinnocent person the bad feeling which son of this audacious representative, had been excited in him, and give a and so learn what they have to ex. decision unworthy of his dignity. pect."
The address of the interpreter “ Count, only some delay !" to the Count, and the course of “ In certain matters one cannot prothe whole conversation, were often ceed too quickly.". enough repeated to us by the fat me- “ Only a short delay.” diator, who exulted not a little in his “ Neighbour, you think you can success. Thus I am still able to repeat mislead me to a false step, but you wliat passed.
shall not succeed." The interpreter had intended to " I neither wish to mislead you to a open the cabinet and enter, an act false step, nor to restrain you from a which was held highly penal.
false one. Your resolution is just; it “ What do you want :” exclaimed becomes the Frenchman, the King's the Count angrily to him. “Begone! lieutenant; but consider that you No one but Saint Jean has a right to are also Count Thorane." enter bere."
“ He has nothing to say to us here." “ Take me, then, a moment for Saint “ Yet the worthy man has also a Jean," answered the interpreter. claim to be lieard."
“A strong imagination would be " What then is it that he would needed for that. Two of him would not make one like you. Leave me !" “ Sir King's Lieutenant!" would he
“ Count, you have received a great say, "you have had patience so long gift from heaven, and to it I appeal. with so many gloomy, unwilling,
66 You try to flatter me ! But do blundering men, while they did not go not think you will succeed."
altogether too far. This one, in truth, “ Count, you have the great gift of has gone very far; but prevail on listening to the opinions of others even yourself, Sir King's Lieutenant! and in moments of passion--of anger.” every one will praise and extol you for
“ Well, well; it is now just a case of it." having listened too long to opinions. - You know that I often put up I know but too well that here we are with your jokes; but do not abuse my not loved; that these citizens look as. indulgence. Are these men, then, en. kance at us."
tirely blinded ? Had we lost the bat. 66 Not all.”
tle, what, at this moment, would be “ Very many.
What! do these their fate? We fight up to the gates ; towns pretend to be imperial towns ? · we close them beliind us; we hait; They saw their Emperor elected and we defend ourselves in order to cover crowned, and when, from an unjust our retreat over the bridge. Do you attack, he is in danger of losing his suppose the enemy would have put dominions and yielding to an usurper, his hands in his pockets? He throws when he fortunately finds faithful al, grenades and every thing within his lies wlio spend their gold, their blood reach, and the fire catches where it for his advantage-they will not en
What, then, does this precious dure the slight burden which they householder want? He would have, must bear as their share towards perhaps, a shell bursting in these humbling the enemy;"
rooms, and another following it ; in “ In iruth, you have long known these rooms where I spared his cursed these opinions, and have put up with Chinese paper,and put myself to inconthem like a wise man. Besides, the venience by not nailing up my maps! culpable are but the smaller number. They ought to have spent the whole A few, dazzled by the brilliant quali. day upon their knees.” ties of the enemy, whom you yourself “ How many have done so ??? value as an extraordinary man-only “ They should have been praying a few-you know it well?"
for a blessing on us, and have gone to " Yes, indeed! I have known it too meet the generals and officers with long, and endured it. Otherwise this emblems of honour and of joy, and the man would not have dared, at a most wearied soldiers with refreshments. important time, to utter such injuries Instead of which, the poison of this
party spirit destroys those fairest, duties, to yield no jot of my honourhappiest hours of my life, even with so this is my anxiety. We have already many anxieties and efforts."
talked too much. Now goa-and get “It is party spirit. But you will only the thanks of the thankless, whom I increase it by punishing this man.
spare!" Those of his opinion will cry out on The interpreter, surprised and af. you as a tyrant and barbarian. They fected by this unlooked for happiness, will regard him as a martyr who has could not refrain from tears, and tried suffered for the good cause. Even to kiss the Count's hands. The Count, those on the other side, now his oppo. however, repelled him, and said, gravely nents, will
see in him only their and severely, “ You know that I cannot fellow.citizen, will compassionate him; endure these things!"-And, with these and while they allow that you are just, words, he went into the anterooni to will yet think that you have proceeded attend to urgent affairs which awaited too harshly."
him, and to listen to the multitude of “ I have listened to you too long. applicants. Thus the business was laid Now be good enough to go!"
aside, and the next day we celebrated, “ Hear only this ! Consider that it over the remains of the sweet things of is the most unheard-of thing that could the day before, the disappearance of possibly happen to this man, to this an evil, through the threatenings of family. You have had no reason to which we had happily slept. be pleased with the good will of the Whether the interpreter bad, in fact, master. But the mistress of the house spoken so wisely, or only so painted has anticipated all your wishes, and the scene to bimself, as, after a good the children have regarded you as
and successful action, one is apt to do, their uncle. With this one blow you
I will not decide. At least lie never will destroy for ever the peace and varied in the repetition of his statement. happiness of this dwelling. Nay, I
Nay, I In fine, this day seemed to him at once may well say that a bomb-shell fall- the most anxious and the most glorious ing in the house would not have of his life. caused greater havoc in it. Count! How absolutely the Count in genI have ofien admired your self-com- eral rejected all false ceremonial, ab. mand. You may give me reason to stained at all times from any title adore you. It is voble of a warrior which did not belong to him, and to regard himself in an enemy's house how sprightly he always was in his as only a guest; here there is no en- more cheerful hours, one little anecmity, only error. Prevail so far upon
dote will testify: yourself, and you will gain eternal A man of the higher class, but renown!"
who was also one of those abstruse ~ That would be a marvellous con- solitary Frankforters, thought he had sequence,” answered the Count, with some reason to complain as to the a smile.
quartering the French in his house. “ Only the natural one,” replied the He came in person, and the interpreinterpreter. “ I have not sent the wise, ter offered him his services, which the the children to your feet; for I know other believed he had no need of. He that such scenes are a vexation to you. made his appearance before the Count But I would paint the wife and child- with a suitable bow, and said:_“Your ren to you, and all their thanks. I Excellency!" The Count returned his would paint them to you conversing bow, as well as the word Excellency. all their lives about the day of the bat. Struck by this honour, and fancying tle at Berg, and about your magnani. that the title must have been too mity, relating it to their children and humble, he bent lower and said " My children's children, and inspiring even Lord !” strangers with their own feelings to. • Sir," said the Count very gravely, wards you. An act of this kind can- we will go no farther, for otherwise not perish.”
we might easily get on as far as Ma"'You do not touch my weak side, jesty.' Mr Interpreter; I do not concern my- The other was extremely confused, self about posthumous repute ; it is for and had not a word to say. The inothers, not for me. But, to do right terpreter, standing at some distance, at the moment, not to postpone my and acquainted with the whole matter,
was malicious enough not to stir ; but tempts what he sees done by others, the Count went on with much cheer. whether he has any fitness for it or no. fulness:
Now I had soon gone through the “ For example, sir, what is your whole course of the French stage. name?"
Many pieces I saw already for the Spangenberg," replied the other. second and third time. All had passed “ And mine," said the Count, “ is before my eyes and mind, from the Thorane. Spangenberg, what do loftiest tragedy to the slightest after. you want of Thorane? So let us sit piece; and as, when a child, I had tried down, and the matter will soon be to imitate Terence, so now, as a boy, settled.”
with much more exciting occasion, I did And thus the matter was, in truth, not fail to reproduce the French forms as soon settled, to the great contentment my capacity and incapacity permitted. of him whom I have here called SpanSume half-mythological, half allegor. genberg ; and the story was not only ical pieces in the taste of Piron, were told the same evening in our family then performed, which had a tone of circle by the mischief-loving interpre- parody, and were very much liked. ter, but reproduced with all its cir- These representations particularly atcumstances and attitudes.
tracted me ; the golden little wings After such confusions, disturbances, of a lively Mercury, the thunderbolt and distresses, we very soon recovered of a disguised Jupiter, an amorous the former security and gaiety with Danae, or whatever else might be which the young especially live from the name of a fair one visited by the day to day, if the state of things at all gods, if it were not even a Sheppermits it. My passion for the French herdess, or Huntress, to whom they theatre increased with every perform- descended. As from Ovid’s Metamor.
I did not miss an evening, phoses, and Porney's Pantheon Mythialthough always on my return, when I cum, such elements very frequently sat down with the family to supper, I buzzed about in my head, I had soon often had only the remains of their put together a little piece of the kind dishes, and was compelled to bear the in my imagination, of which I only reproaches of my father—that the remember that the scene was in the theatre was of no use, and could lead country, and that yet there was no to no end. In these cases I com. want in it either of kings' daughters, monly called up all the arguments of or princes, or gods. The Mercury every kind which help out the defend- particularly was then so vividly before ers of the stage, when they get into my mind, that I could still swear I had difficulties like mine.
seen him with my eyes. perity, virtue in distress, are at last set I laid before my friend Derones a to rights by poetical justice. Those very neat copy which I had made myfine examples of offences punished, self, and which he received with parMiss Sarah Sampson, and the Lon. ticular politeness and the genuine air don Merchant, * were eagerly urged of a protector. He hastily glanced on my part.
But I often, on the con- through the manuscript, pointed out trary, had the worst of it, when the some errors of language, thought some Fourberie de Scapin and the like were speeches too long, and at last promised in the playbill, and when I had to that, at the requisite leisure, he would bear the blame of the pleasure felt by consider the work more closely, and the public in the tricks of fraudulent decide upon it. To my timid question servants and the successful follies of whether the piece could by any chance dissipated youths. Neither party con- be acted ? he answered that it was cervinced the other. But my father was tainly not impossible. In the theatre very soon reconciled with the stage, a great deal depended on favour, and when he saw that I advanced with in- he would support me with all his heart; credible rapidity in the French lan- only the affair must be kept secret, for guage.
he had himself once surprised the ma Men are, once for all, so minded, nagers with a piece of his own ; and that every one willingly himself at- it would certainly have been performed
Vice in pros
* Miss Sarah Sampson is a play of Lessing's. The London Merchant is, perhaps, a translation of George Barnwell... Tr.
if they had not discovered too soon was worst, I fell immediately into that he was the author. I promised still greater confusion, by making him all possible silence; and soon, in acquaintance with the disputes on the spirit, I saw the title of my work dis- Cid, and reading the prefaces in which played in large letters on the corners Corneille and Racine are compelled of the streets and squares.
to defend themselves against the Frivolous as my friend usually was, critics and the public. Here at least the opportunity of playing the master I saw most evidently that no man was too much for him to resist. He knew what he wanted ; that a piece read through the piece with attention, like the Cid, which had produced and then sitting down with me to make the greatest effect, was to be prosome slight alterations, he turned, in nounced bad on the command of an the course of our conversation, the all-powerful cardinal ; that Racine, whole piece upside down, so that not theidol of the French in my day, and a single stone remained upon another. who had now become my idol--for I He struck out, added, took away one had learned to know him well when character, substituted another; in fine, Counsellor Olenschlager made proceeded with the maddest wanton- children act Britannicus, in which the ness in the world, so that my hair part of Nero fell to my share that stood on end. My prejudice that Racine, I say, even in his time could he must understand the matter was come to no understanding either with his security; for he had often so incul.
or professed critics. By cated on me the Three Unities of Aris- all this I was more perplexed than totle, the regularity of the French ever, and after I had long tormented stage, the probability, harmony of myself with this talking backwards verse, and every thing that depends and forwards, with this theoretical on these, that I could not help regard quackery of the previous century, I ing him not merely as instructed, threw out the child with the teeth,* but as profound. He abused the and flung away from me the whole English and despised the Germans, trumpery, the more decidedly, because and, in fine, laid before me that whole I thought I saw that even the authors
I dramaturgic litany which I have so themselves, who produced excellent often in my life been compelled.to hear things, when they began to speak about repeated.
them, and to allege the grounds of Like the boy in the fable, I took their conduct, when they sought to home my mangled production, and en. defend, justify, and excuse themselves, deavoured to restore it again, but in were not always able to hit the right yain. As, however, I would not alto- . mark. I bastened therefore to the gether abandon it, I had a clean copy living Actual, visited the theatre of my first manuscript, with a few much more zealously, and read more alterations, made by our clerk, which earnestly and continuously, so that I I then presented to my father, and had at this time the perseverance to 80 gained from him at least this ad- work through Racine and Molière vantage, that for a long time he let entirely, and a great part of Corme eat my supper in quiet after the neille. play.
The King's lieutenant still lived on This unsuccessful attempt had made in our house. His demeanour: had me pensive, and I determined now to undergone no change, particularly study, in the first sources, these theo. towards us ; but it was perceivable, ries and laws which every one appealed and our friend the interpreter made it to, and which had become suspicious still plainer to us, that he no longer to me, chiefly through the frowardness executed his office with the same of my arrogant instructor. The un- cheerfulness, nor with the same zeal dertaking was not indeed difficult for as before, although always with the me, but laborious. I read first Cor- same justice and fidelity. His habits neille's Essay on the Three Unities, and manners, which rather belonged and saw clearly from it what people to a Spaniard than a Frenchman; his required. But why they required this whims, which at the same time had an was no way plain to me; and, what influence on his business; his unyielding
* A proverbial phrase. - Tr.