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Title: Lover's Vows
Author: Inchbald, Mrs., Kotzebue, August von
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration]



Lovers’ Vows

A Play in Five Acts

From the German of Kotzebue

by Mrs. Inchbald

Contents

PREFACE.

THE PROLOGUE.

LOVERS’ VOWS.

ACT I
Scene I. A high road, a town at a distance—A small inn on one side of the road—A cottage on the other.

ACT II
Scene I. A room in the Cottage.
Scene II. An apartment in the Castle.

ACT III
Scene I. An open Field.
Scene II. A room in the Castle.

ACT IV
Scene I. A Prison in one of the Towers of the Castle.
Scene II. A Room in the Castle.

ACT V
Scene I. Inside of the Cottage.
Scene II. A Room in the Castle.

Epilogue.



Dramatis Personæ

Men

BARON WILDENHAIM    _Mr. Murray._
COUNT CASSEL        _Mr. Knight._
ANHALT              _Mr. H. Johnston._
FREDERICK           _Mr. Pope._
VERDUN _the_ BUTLER _Mr. Munden._
LANDLORD            _Mr. Thompson_
COTTAGER            _Mr. Davenport._
FARMER              _Mr. Rees._
COUNTRYMAN          _Mr. Dyke._
Huntsmen, Servants, &c.

Women

AGATHA FIRBURG     _Mrs. Johnson._
AMELIA WILDENHAIM  _Mrs. H. Johnston._
COTTAGER’S WIFE    _Mrs. Davenport._
COUNTRY GIRL       _Miss Leserve._

SCENE, Germany—Time of representation one day.



PREFACE.


It would appear like affectation to offer an apology for any scenes or
passages omitted or added, in this play, different from the original:
its reception has given me confidence to suppose what I have done is
right; for Kotzebue’s “Child of Love” in Germany, was never more
attractive than “Lovers’ Vows” has been in England.

I could trouble my reader with many pages to disclose the motives which
induced me to alter, with the exception of a few common-place sentences
only, the characters of Count Cassel, Amelia, and Verdun the Butler—I
could explain why the part of the Count, as in the original, would
inevitably have condemned the whole Play,—I could inform my reader why
I have pourtrayed the Baron in many particulars different from the
German author, and carefully prepared the audience for the grand effect
of the last scene in the fourth act, by totally changing his conduct
towards his son as a robber—why I gave sentences of a humourous kind to
the parts of the two Cottagers—why I was compelled, on many occasions,
to compress the matter of a speech of three or four pages into one of
three or four lines—and why, in no one instance, I would suffer my
respect for Kotzebue to interfere with my profound respect for the
judgment of a British audience. But I flatter myself such a vindication
is not requisite to the enlightened reader, who, I trust, on comparing
this drama with the original, will at once see all my motives—and the
dull admirer of mere verbal translation, it would be vain to endeavour
to inspire with taste by instruction.

Wholly unacquainted with the German language, a literal translation of
the “Child of Love” was given to me by the manager of Covent Garden
Theatre to be fitted, as my opinion should direct, for his stage. This
translation, tedious and vapid as most literal translations are, had
the peculiar disadvantage of having been put into our language by a
German—of course it came to me in broken English. It was no slight
misfortune to have an example of bad grammar, false metaphors and
similes, with all the usual errors of feminine diction, placed before a
female writer. But if, disdaining the construction of sentences,—the
precise decorum of the cold grammarian,—she has caught the spirit of
her author,—if, in every altered scene,—still adhering to the nice
propriety of his meaning, and still keeping in view his great
catastrophe,—she has agitated her audience with all the various
passions he depicted, the rigid criticism of the closet will be but a
slender abatement of the pleasure resulting from the sanction of an
applauding theatre.

It has not been one of the least gratifications I have received from
the success of this play, that the original German, from which it is
taken, was printed in the year 1791; and yet, that during all the
period which has intervened, no person of talents or literary knowledge
(though there are in this country many of that description, who profess
to search for German dramas) has thought it worth employment to make a
translation of the work. I can only account for such an apparent
neglect of Kotzebue’s “Child of Love,” by the consideration of its
original unfitness for an English stage, and the difficulty of making
it otherwise—a difficulty which once appeared so formidable, that I
seriously thought I must have declined it even after I had proceeded
some length in the undertaking.

Independently of objections to the character of the Count, the
dangerous insignificance of the Butler, in the original, embarrassed me
much. I found, if he was retained in the _Dramatis Personæ_, something
more must be supplied than the author had assigned him: I suggested the
verses I have introduced; but not being blessed with the Butler’s happy
art of rhyming, I am indebted for them, except the seventh and eleventh
stanzas in the first of his poetic stories, to the author of the
prologue.

The part of Amelia has been a very particular object of my solicitude
and alteration: the same situations which the author gave her remain,
but almost all the dialogue of the character I have changed: the
forward and unequivocal manner in which she announces her affection to
her lover, in the original, would have been revolting to an English
audience: the passion of love, represented on the stage, is certain to
be insipid or disgusting, unless it creates smiles or tears: Amelia’s
love, by Kotzebue, is indelicately blunt, and yet void of mirth or
sadness: I have endeavoured to attach the attention and sympathy of the
audience by whimsical insinuations, rather than coarse abruptness—the
same woman, I conceive, whom the author drew, with the self-same
sentiments, but with manners adapted to the English rather than the
German taste; and if the favour in which this character is held by the
audience, together with every sentence and incident which I have
presumed to introduce in the play, may be offered as the criterion of
my skill, I am sufficiently rewarded for the task I have performed.

In stating the foregoing circumstances relating to this production, I
hope not to be suspected of arrogating to my own exertions only, the
popularity which has attended “The Child of Love,” under the title of
“Lovers’ Vows,”—the exertions of every performer engaged in the play
deservedly claim a share in its success; and I must sincerely thank
them for the high importance of their aid.



PROLOGUE.

WRITTEN BY JOHN TAYLOR, ESQ.

_Spoken by Mr. MURRAY._


Poets have oft’ declared, in doleful strain,
That o’er dramatic tracks they beat in vain,
Hopeless that novelty will spring to sight;
For life and nature are exhausted quite.
Though plaints like these have rung from age to age,
Too kind are writers to desert the stage;
And if they, fruitless, search for unknown prey,
At least they dress _old game_ a _novel way_;
But such lamentings should be heard no more,
For modern taste turns Nature out of door;
Who ne’er again her former sway will boast,
Till, to complete her works, _she starts a ghost_.
    If such the mode, what can we hope to-night,
Who rashly dare approach without a sprite?
No dreadful cavern, no midnight scream,
No rosin flames, nor e’en one flitting gleam.
Nought of the charms so potent to invite
The monstrous charms of terrible delight.
Our present theme the German Muse supplies,
But rather aims to soften than surprise.
Yet, with her woes she strives some smiles to blend,
Intent as well to cheer as to amend:
On her own native soil she knows the art
To charm the fancy, and to touch the heart.
If, then, she mirth and pathos can express,
Though less engaging in an English dress,
Let her from British hearts no peril fear,
But, as a STRANGER*, find a welcome here.

* Hamlet.



LOVERS’ VOWS.



ACT I.

SCENE I.


_A high road, a town at a distance—A small inn on one side of the
road—A cottage on the other._


_The_ LANDLORD _of the inn leads_ AGATHA _by the hand out of his
house._


LANDLORD.
No, no! no room for you any longer—It is the fair to-day in the next
village; as great a fair as any in the German dominions. The country
people with their wives and children take up every corner we have.

AGATHA.
You will turn a poor sick woman out of doors who has spent her last
farthing in your house.

LANDLORD.
For that very reason; because she _has_ spent her last farthing.

AGATHA.
I can work.

LANDLORD.
You can hardly move your hands.

AGATHA.
My strength will come again.

LANDLORD.
Then _you_ may come again.

AGATHA.
What am I to do? Where shall I go?

LANDLORD.
It is fine weather—you may go any where.

AGATHA.
Who will give me a morsel of bread to satisfy my hunger?

LANDLORD.
Sick people eat but little.

AGATHA.
Hard, unfeeling man, have pity.

LANDLORD.
When times are hard, pity is too expensive for a poor man. Ask alms of
the different people that go by.

AGATHA.
Beg! I would rather starve.

LANDLORD.
You may beg and starve too. What a fine lady you are! Many an honest
woman has been obliged to beg. Why should not you? [Agatha _sits down
upon a large stone under a tree._] For instance, here comes somebody;
and I will teach you how to begin. [_A Countryman, with working tools,
crosses the road._] Good day, neighbour Nicholas.

COUNTRYMAN
Good day. [_Stops._]

LANDLORD.
Won’t you give a trifle to this poor woman? [_Countryman takes no
notice, but walks off._] That would not do—the poor man has nothing
himself but what he gets by hard labour. Here comes a rich farmer;
perhaps he will give you something.

_Enter_ FARMER.


LANDLORD.
Good morning to you, Sir. Under yon tree sits a poor woman in distress,
who is in need of your charity.

FARMER.
Is she not ashamed of herself? Why don’t she work?

LANDLORD.
She has had a fever.—If you would but pay for one dinner—

FARMER.
The harvest has been indifferent, and my cattle and sheep have suffered
distemper. [_Exit._

LANDLORD.
My fat, smiling face was not made for begging: you’ll have more luck
with your thin, sour one—so, I’ll leave you to yourself. [_Exit._

[Agatha _rises and comes forward._]


AGATHA.
Oh Providence! thou hast till this hour protected me, and hast given me
fortitude not to despair. Receive my humble thanks, and restore me to
health, for the sake of my poor son, the innocent cause of my
sufferings, and yet my only comfort. [_kneeling_] Oh, grant that I may
see him once more! See him improved in strength of mind and body; and
that by thy gracious mercy he may never be visited with afflictions
great as mine. [_After a pause_] Protect his father too, merciful
Providence, and pardon his crime of perjury to me! Here, in the face of
heaven (supposing my end approaching, and that I can but a few days
longer struggle with want and sorrow), here, I solemnly forgive my
seducer for all the ills, the accumulated evils which his allurements,
his deceit, and cruelty, have for twenty years past drawn upon me.

_Enter a_ COUNTRY GIRL _with a basket._


AGATHA.
[_near fainting_]. My dear child, if you could spare me a trifle—

GIRL.
I have not a farthing in the world—But I am going to market to sell my
eggs, and as I come back I’ll give you three-pence—And I’ll be back as
soon as ever I can. [_Exit._

AGATHA.
There was a time when I was as happy as this country girl, and as
willing to assist the poor in distress. [_Retires to the tree and sits
down._]

_Enter_ FREDERICK—_He is dressed in a German soldier’s uniform, has a
knapsack on his shoulders, appears in high spirits, and stops at the
door of the inn._


FREDERICK.
Halt! Stand at ease! It is a very hot day—A draught of good wine will
not be amiss. But first let me consult my purse. [_Takes out a couple
of pieces of money, which he turns about in his hand._] This will do
for a breakfast—the other remains for my dinner; and in the evening I
shall be home. [_Calls out_] Ha! Halloo! Landlord! [_Takes notice of_
Agatha, _who is leaning against the tree._] Who is that? A poor sick
woman! She don’t beg; but her appearance makes me think she is in want.
Must one always wait to give till one is asked? Shall I go without my
breakfast now, or lose my dinner? The first I think is best. Ay, I
don’t want a breakfast, for dinner time will soon be here. To do good
satisfies both hunger and thirst. [_Going towards her with the money in
his hand._] Take this, good woman.

[_She stretches her hand for the gift, looks steadfastly at him, and
cries out with astonishment and joy._]


AGATHA.
Frederick!

FREDERICK.
Mother! [_With astonishment and grief._] Mother! For God’s sake what is
this! How is this! And why do I find my mother thus? Speak!

AGATHA.
I cannot speak, dear son! [_Rising and embracing him._] My dear
Frederick! The joy is too great—I was not prepared—

FREDERICK.
Dear mother, compose yourself: [_leans her head against his breast_]
now, then, be comforted. How she trembles! She is fainting.

AGATHA.
I am so weak, and my head so giddy—I had nothing to eat all yesterday.

FREDERICK.
Good heavens! Here is my little money, take it all! Oh mother! mother!
[_Runs to the inn_]. Landlord! Landlord! [_knocking violently at the
door._]

LANDLORD.
What is the matter?

FREDERICK.
A bottle of wine—quick, quick!

LANDLORD.
[_surprised_]. A bottle of wine! For who?

FREDERICK.
For me. Why do you ask? Why don’t you make haste?

LANDLORD.
Well, well, Mr. soldier: but can you pay for it?

FREDERICK.
Here is money—make haste, or I’ll break every window in your house.

LANDLORD.
Patience! Patience! [_goes off._

FREDERICK.
[_to Agatha_]. You were hungry yesterday when I sat down to a
comfortable dinner. You were hungry when I partook of a good supper.
Oh! Why is so much bitter mixed with the joy of my return?

AGATHA.
Be patient, my dear Frederick. Since I see you, I am well. But I _have
been_ very ill: so ill, that I despaired of ever beholding you again.

FREDERICK.
Ill, and I was not with you? I will, now, never leave you more. Look,
mother, how tall and strong I am grown. These arms can now afford you
support. They can, and shall, procure you subsistence.

[Landlord _coming out of the house with a small pitcher._]


LANDLORD.
Here is wine—a most delicious nectar. [_Aside._] It is only Rhenish;
but it will pass for the best old Hock.

FREDERICK.
[_impatiently snatching the pitcher_]. Give it me.

LANDLORD.
No, no—the money first. One shilling and two-pence, if you please.

[Frederick _gives him money._]


FREDERICK.
This is all I have.—Here, here, mother.

[_While she drinks_ Landlord _counts the money._]


LANDLORD.
Three halfpence too short! However, one must be charitable. [_Exit_
Landlord.

AGATHA.
I thank you, my dear Frederick—Wine revives me—Wine from the hand of my
son gives me almost a new life.

FREDERICK.
Don’t speak too much, mother.—Take your time.

AGATHA.
Tell me, dear child, how you have passed the five years since you left
me.

FREDERICK.
Both good and bad, mother. To day plenty—to-morrow not so much—And
sometimes nothing at all.

AGATHA.
You have not written to me this long while.

FREDERICK.
Dear mother, consider the great distance I was from you!—And then, in
the time of war, how often letters miscarry.—Besides——

AGATHA.
No matter now I see you. But have you obtained your discharge?

FREDERICK.
Oh, no, mother—I have leave of absence only for two months; and that
for a particular reason. But I will not quit you so soon, now I find
you are in want of my assistance.

AGATHA.
No, no, Frederick; your visit will make me so well, that I shall in a
very short time recover strength to work again; and you must return to
your regiment when your furlough is expired. But you told me leave of
absence was granted you for a particular reason.—What reason?

FREDERICK.
When I left you five years ago, you gave me every thing you could
afford, and all you thought would be necessary for me. But one trifle
you forgot, which was, the certificate of my birth from the
church-book.—You know in this country there is nothing to be done
without it. At the time of parting from you, I little thought it could
be of that consequence to me which I have since found it would have
been. Once I became tired of a soldier’s life, and in the hope I should
obtain my discharge, offered myself to a master to learn a profession;
but his question was, “Where is your certificate from the church-book
of the parish in which you were born?” It vexed me that I had not it to
produce, for my comrades laughed at my disappointment. My captain
behaved kinder, for he gave me leave to come home to fetch it—and you
see, mother, here I am.

[_During his speech_ Agatha _is confused and agitated._


AGATHA.
So, you are come for the purpose of fetching your certificate from the
church-book.

FREDERICK.
Yes, mother.

AGATHA.
Oh! oh!

FREDERICK.
What is the matter? [_She bursts into tears._] For heaven’s sake,
mother, tell me what’s the matter?

AGATHA.
You have no certificate.

FREDERICK.
No!

AGATHA.
No.—The laws of Germany excluded you from being registered at your
birth—for—you are a natural son!

FREDERICK.
[_starts—after a pause_]. So!—And who is my father?

AGATHA.
Oh Frederick, your wild looks are daggers to my heart. Another time.

FREDERICK.
[_endeavouring to conceal his emotion_]. No, no—I am still your son—and
you are still my mother. Only tell me, who is my father?

AGATHA.
When we parted five years ago, you were too young to be intrusted with
a secret of so much importance.—But the time is come when I can, in
confidence, open my heart, and unload that burthen with which it has
been long oppressed. And yet, to reveal my errors to my child, and sue
for his mild judgment on my conduct——

FREDERICK.
You have nothing to sue for; only explain this mystery.

AGATHA.
I will, I will. But—my tongue is locked with remorse and shame. You
must not look at me.

FREDERICK.
Not look at you! Cursed be that son who could find his mother guilty,
although the world should call her so.

AGATHA.
Then listen to me, and take notice of that village, [_pointing_] of
that castle, and of that church. In that village I was born—in that
church I was baptized. My parents were poor, but reputable farmers.—The
lady of that castle and estate requested them to let me live with her,
and she would provide for me through life. They resigned me; and at the
age of fourteen I went to my patroness. She took pleasure to instruct
me in all kinds of female literature and accomplishments, and three
happy years had passed under protection, when her only son, who was an
officer in the Saxon service, obtained permission to come home. I had
never seen him before—he was a handsome young man—in my eyes a prodigy;
for he talked of love, and promised me marriage. He was the first man
who had ever spoken to me on such a subject.—His flattery made me vain,
and his repeated vows—Don’t look at me, dear Frederick!—I can say no
more. [Frederick _with his eyes cast down, takes her hand, and puts it
to his heart._] Oh! oh! my son! I was intoxicated by the fervent
caresses of a young, inexperienced, capricious man, and did not recover
from the delirium till it was too late.

FREDERICK.
[_after a pause_]. Go on.—Let me know more of my father.

AGATHA.
When the time drew near that I could no longer conceal my guilt and
shame, my seducer prevailed upon me not to expose him to the resentment
of his mother. He renewed his former promises of marriage at her
death;—on which relying, I gave him my word to be secret—and I have to
this hour buried his name deep in my heart.

FREDERICK.
Proceed, proceed! give me full information—I will have courage to hear
it all. [_Greatly agitated._]

AGATHA.
His leave of absence expired, he returned to his regiment, depending on
my promise, and well assured of my esteem. As soon as my situation
became known, I was questioned, and received many severe reproaches:
but I refused to confess who was my undoer; and for that obstinacy was
turned from the castle.—I went to my parents; but their door was shut
against me. My mother, indeed, wept as she bade me quit her sight for
ever; but my father wished increased affliction might befall me.

FREDERICK.
[_weeping_]. Be quick with your narrative, or you’ll break my heart.

AGATHA.
I now sought protection from the old clergyman of the parish. He
received me with compassion. On my knees I begged forgiveness for the
scandal I had caused to his parishioners; promised amendment; and he
said he did not doubt me. Through his recommendation I went to town;
and hid in humble lodgings, procured the means of subsistence by
teaching to the neighbouring children what I had learnt under the
tuition of my benefactress.—To instruct you, my Frederick, was my care
and delight; and in return for your filial love I would not thwart your
wishes when they led to a soldier’s life: but I saw you go from me with
an aching heart. Soon after, my health declined, I was compelled to
give up my employment, and, by degrees, became the object you now see
me. But, let me add, before I close my calamitous story, that—when I
left the good old clergyman, taking along with me his kind advice and
his blessing, I left him with a firm determination to fulfil the vow I
had made of repentance and amendment. I _have_ fulfilled it—and now,
Frederick, you may look at me again. [_He embraces her._]

FREDERICK.
But my father all this time? [_mournfully_] I apprehend he died.

AGATHA.
No—he married.

FREDERICK.
Married!

AGATHA.
A woman of virtue—of noble birth and immense fortune. Yet, [_weeps_] I
had written to him many times; had described your infant innocence and
wants; had glanced obliquely at former promises—

FREDERICK.
[_rapidly_]. No answer to these letters?

AGATHA.
Not a word.—But in time of war, you know, letters miscarry.

FREDERICK.
Nor did he ever return to this estate?

AGATHA.
No—since the death of his mother this castle has only been inhabited by
servants—for he settled as far off as Alsace, upon the estate of his
wife.

FREDERICK.
I will carry you in my arms to Alsace. No—why should I ever know my
father, if he is a villain! My heart is satisfied with a mother.—No—I
will not go to him. I will not disturb his peace—I leave that task to
his conscience. What say you, mother, can’t we do without him?
[_Struggling between tears and his pride._] We don’t want him. I will
write directly to my captain. Let the consequence be what it will,
leave you again I cannot. Should I be able to get my discharge, I will
work all day at the plough, and all the night with my pen. It will do,
mother, it will do! Heaven’s goodness will assist me—it will prosper
the endeavours of a dutiful son for the sake of a helpless mother.

AGATHA.
[_presses him to her breast_]. Where could be found such another son?

FREDERICK.
But tell me my father’s name, that I may know how to shun him.

AGATHA.
Baron Wildenhaim.

FREDERICK.
Baron Wildenhaim! I shall never forget it.—Oh! you are near fainting.
Your eyes are cast down. What’s the matter? Speak, mother!

AGATHA.
Nothing particular.—Only fatigued with talking. I wish to take a little
rest.

FREDERICK.
I did not consider that we have been all this time in the open road.
[_Goes to the Inn, and knocks at the door._] Here, Landlord!

LANDLORD _re-enters._


LANDLORD.
Well, what is the matter now?

FREDERICK.
Make haste, and get a bed ready for this good woman.

LANDLORD.
[_with a sneer_]. A bed for this good woman! ha, ha ha! She slept last
night in that pent-house; so she may to-night. [_Exit, shutting the
door._

FREDERICK.
You are an infamous—[_goes back to his mother_] Oh! my poor
mother—[_runs to the Cottage at a little distance, and knocks_]. Ha!
halloo! Who is there?

_Enter_ COTTAGER.


COTTAGER.
Good day, young soldier.—What is it you want?

FREDERICK.
Good friend, look at that poor woman. She is perishing in the public
road! It is my mother.—Will you give her a small corner in your hut? I
beg for mercy’s sake—Heaven will reward you.

COTTAGER.
Can’t you speak quietly? I understand you very well. [_Calls at the
door of the hut._] Wife, shake up our bed—here’s a poor sick woman
wants it. [_Enter_ WIFE]. Why could not you say all this in fewer
words? Why such a long preamble? Why for mercy’s sake, and heaven’s
reward? Why talk about reward for such trifles as these? Come, let us
lead her in; and welcome she shall be to a bed, as good as I can give
her; and our homely fare.

FREDERICK.
Ten thousand thanks, and blessings on you!

WIFE.
Thanks and blessings! here’s a piece of work indeed about nothing! Good
sick lady, lean on my shoulder. [_To_ Frederick] Thanks and reward
indeed! Do you think husband and I have lived to these years, and don’t
know our duty? Lean on my shoulder. [_Exeunt into the Cottage._



ACT II.

SCENE I.

_A room in the Cottage._


AGATHA, COTTAGER, _his_ WIFE, _and_ FREDERICK _discovered_—AGATHA
_reclined upon a wooden bench,_ FREDERICK _leaning over her._


FREDERICK.
Good people have you nothing to give her? Nothing that’s nourishing.

WIFE.
Run, husband, run, and fetch a bottle of wine from the landlord of the
inn.

FREDERICK.
No, no—his wine is as bad as his heart: she has drank some of it, which
I am afraid has turned to poison.

COTTAGER.
Suppose, wife, you look for a new-laid egg?

WIFE.
Or a drop of brandy, husband—that mostly cures me.

FREDERICK.
Do you hear, mother—will you, mother? [Agatha _makes a sign with her
hand as if she could not take any thing._] She will not. Is there no
doctor in this neighbourhood?

WIFE.
At the end of the village there lives a horse-doctor. I have never
heard of any other.

FREDERICK.
What shall I do? She is dying. My mother is dying.—Pray for her, good
people!

AGATHA.
Make yourself easy, dear Frederick, I am well, only weak—Some wholesome
nourishment—

FREDERICK.
Yes, mother, directly—directly. [_Aside_] Oh where shall I—no money—not
a farthing left.

WIFE.
Oh, dear me! Had you not paid the rent yesterday, husband—

COTTAGER.
I then, should know what to do. But as I hope for mercy, I have not a
penny in my house.

FREDERICK.
Then I must—[_Apart, coming forward_]—Yes, I will go, and beg.—But
should I be refused—I will then—I leave my mother in your care, good
people—Do all you can for her, I beseech you! I shall soon be with you
again. [_Goes off in haste and confusion._]

COTTAGER.
If he should go to our parson, I am sure he would give him something.

[Agatha _having revived by degrees during the scene, rises._]


AGATHA.
Is that good old man still living, who was minister here some time ago?

WIFE.
No—It pleased Providence to take that worthy man to heaven two years
ago.—We have lost in him both a friend and a father. We shall never get
such another.

COTTAGER.
Wife, wife, our present rector is likewise a very good man.

WIFE.
Yes! But he is so very young.

COTTAGER.
Our late parson was once young too.

WIFE.
[_to_ Agatha.] This young man being tutor in our Baron’s family, he was
very much beloved by them all; and so the Baron gave him this living in
consequence.

COTTAGER.
And well he deserved it, for his pious instructions to our young lady:
who is, in consequence, good, and friendly to every body.

AGATHA.
What young lady do you mean?

COTTAGER.
Our Baron’s daughter.

AGATHA.
Is she here?

WIFE.
Dear me! Don’t you know that? I thought every body had known that. It
is almost five weeks since the Baron and all his family arrived at the
castle.

AGATHA.
Baron Wildenhaim?

WIFE.
Yes, Baron Wildenhaim.

AGATHA.
And his lady?

COTTAGER.
His lady died in France many miles from hence, and her death, I
suppose, was the cause of his coming to this estate—For the Baron has
not been here till within these five weeks ever since he was married.
We regretted his absence much, and his arrival has caused great joy.

WIFE.
[_addressing her discourse to_ Agatha.] By all accounts the Baroness
was very haughty; and very whimsical.

COTTAGER.
Wife, wife, never speak ill of the dead. Say what you please against
the living, but not a word against the dead.

WIFE.
And yet, husband, I believe the dead care the least what is said
against them—And so, if you please, I’ll tell my story. The late
Baroness was, they say, haughty and proud; and they do say, the Baron
was not so happy as he might have been; but he, bless him, our good
Baron is still the same as when a boy. Soon after Madam had closed her
eyes, he left France, and came to Waldenhaim, his native country.

COTTAGER.
Many times has he joined in our village dances. Afterwards, when he
became an officer, he was rather wild, as most young men are.

WIFE.
Yes, I remember when he fell in love with poor Agatha, Friburg’s
daughter: what a piece of work that was—It did not do him much credit.
That was a wicked thing.

COTTAGER.
Have done—no more of this—It is not well to stir up old grievances.

WIFE.
Why, you said I might speak ill of the living. ’Tis very hard indeed,
if one must not speak ill of one’s neighbours, dead, nor alive.

COTTAGER.
Who knows whether he was the father of Agatha’s child? She never said
he was.

WIFE.
Nobody but him—that I am sure—I would lay a wager—no, no husband—you
must not take his part—it was very wicked! Who knows what is now become
of that poor creature? She has not been heard of this many a year. May
be she is starving for hunger. Her father might have lived longer too,
if that misfortune had not happened.

[Agatha _faints._]


COTTAGER.
See here! Help! She is fainting—take hold!

WIFE.
Oh, poor woman!

COTTAGER.
Let us take her into the next room.

WIFE.
Oh poor woman!—I am afraid she will not live. Come, chear up, chear
up.—You are with those who feel for you. [_They lead her off._]



SCENE II.

_An apartment in the Castle._


_A table spread for breakfast—Several servants in livery disposing the
equipage_—BARON WILDENHAIM _enters, attended by a_ GENTLEMAN _in
waiting._


BARON.
Has not Count Cassel left his chamber yet?

GENTLEMAN.
No, my lord, he has but now rung for his valet.

BARON.
The whole castle smells of his perfumery. Go, call my daughter hither.
[_Exit_ Gentleman.] And am I after all to have an ape for a son-in-law?
No, I shall not be in a hurry—I love my daughter too well. We must be
better acquainted before I give her to him. I shall not sacrifice my
Amelia to the will of others, as I myself was sacrificed. The poor girl
might, in thoughtlessness, say yes, and afterwards be miserable. What a
pity she is not a boy! The name of Wildenhaim will die with me. My fine
estates, my good peasants, all will fall into the hands of strangers.
Oh! why was not my Amelia a boy?

_Enter_ AMELIA—[_She kisses the_ Baron’s _hand_.]


AMELIA.
Good morning, dear my lord.

BARON.
Good morning, Amelia. Have you slept well?

AMELIA.
Oh! yes, papa. I always sleep well.

BARON.
Not a little restless last night?

AMELIA.
No.

BARON.
Amelia, you know you have a father who loves you, and I believe you
know you have a suitor who is come to ask permission to love you. Tell
me candidly how you like Count Cassel?

AMELIA.
Very well.

BARON.
Do not you blush when I talk of him?

AMELIA.
No.

BARON.
No—I am sorry for that. [_aside_] Have you dreamt of him?

AMELIA.
No.

BARON.
Have you not dreamt at all to-night?

AMELIA.
Oh yes—I have dreamt of our chaplain, Mr. Anhalt.

BARON.
Ah ha! As if he stood before you and the Count to ask for the ring.

AMELIA.
No: not that—I dreamt we were all still in France, and he, my tutor,
just going to take his leave of us for ever—I ’woke with the fright,
and found my eyes full of tears.

BARON.
Psha! I want to know if you can love the Count. You saw him at the last
ball we were at in France: when he capered round you; when he danced
minuets; when he——. But I cannot say what his conversation was.

AMELIA.
Nor I either—I do not remember a syllable of it.

BARON.
No? Then I do not think you like him.

AMELIA.
I believe not.

BARON.
But I think it proper to acquaint you he is rich, and of great
consequence: rich and of consequence; do you hear?

AMELIA.
Yes, dear papa. But my tutor has always told me that birth and fortune
are inconsiderable things, and cannot give happiness.

BARON.
There he is right—But if it happens that birth and fortune are joined
with sense and virtue——

AMELIA.
But is it so with Count Cassel?

BARON.
Hem! Hem! [_Aside._] I will ask you a few questions on this subject;
but be sure to answer me honestly—Speak truth.

AMELIA.
I never told an untruth in my life.

BARON.
Nor ever _conceal_ the truth from me, I command you.

AMELIA.
[_Earnestly._] Indeed, my lord, I never will.

BARON.
I take you at your word—And now reply to me truly—Do you like to hear
the Count spoken of?

AMELIA.
Good, or bad?

BARON.
Good. Good.

AMELIA.
Oh yes; I like to hear good of every body.

BARON.
But do not you feel a little fluttered when he is talked of?

AMELIA.
No. [_shaking her head._]

BARON.
Are not you a little embarrassed?

AMELIA.
No.

BARON.
Don’t you wish sometimes to speak to him, and have not the courage to
begin?

AMELIA.
No.

BARON.
Do not you wish to take his part when his companions laugh at him?

AMELIA.
No—I love to laugh at him myself.

BARON.
Provoking! [_Aside._] Are not you afraid of him when he comes near you?

AMELIA.
No, not at all.—Oh yes—once. [_recollecting herself._]

BARON.
Ah! Now it comes!

AMELIA.
Once at a ball he trod on my foot; and I was so afraid he should tread
on me again.

BARON.
You put me out of patience. Hear, Amelia! [_stops short, and speaks
softer._] To see you happy is my wish. But matrimony, without concord,
is like a duetto badly performed; for that reason, nature, the great
composer of all harmony, has ordained, that, when bodies are allied,
hearts should be in perfect unison. However, I will send Mr. Anhalt to
you——

AMELIA.
[_much pleased_]. Do, papa.

BARON.
——He shall explain to you my sentiments. [_Rings._] A clergyman can do
this better than——[_Enter servant._] Go directly to Mr. Anhalt, tell
him that I shall be glad to see him for a quarter of an hour if he is
not engaged. [_Exit servant._

AMELIA.
[_calls after him_]. Wish him a good morning from me.

BARON.
[_looking at his watch_]. The Count is a tedious time dressing.—Have
you breakfasted, Amelia?

AMELIA.
No, papa. [_they sit down to breakfast._]

BARON.
How is the weather? Have you walked this morning?

AMELIA.
Oh, yes—I was in the garden at five o’clock; it is very fine.

BARON.
Then I’ll go out shooting. I do not know in what other way to amuse my
guest.

_Enter Count_ CASSEL.


COUNT.
Ah, my dear Colonel! Miss Wildenhaim, I kiss your hand.

BARON.
Good morning! Good morning! though it is late in the day, Count. In the
country we should rise earlier.

[Amelia _offers the_ Count _a Cup of tea_.]


COUNT.
Is it Hebe herself, or Venus, or——

AMELIA.
Ha, ha, ha! Who can help laughing at his nonsense?

BARON.
[_rather angry_]. Neither Venus, not Hebe; but Amelia Wildenhaim, if
you please.

COUNT.
[_Sitting down to breakfast_]. You are beautiful, Miss Wildenhaim.—Upon
my honour, I think so. I have travelled, and seen much of the world,
and yet I can positively admire you.

AMELIA.
I am sorry I have not seen the world.

COUNT.
Wherefore?

AMELIA.
Because I might then, perhaps, admire you.

COUNT.
True;—for I am an epitome of the world. In my travels I learnt delicacy
in Italy—hauteur, in Spain—in France, enterprize—in Russia, prudence—in
England, sincerity—in Scotland, frugality—and in the wilds of America,
I learnt love.

AMELIA.
Is there any country where love is taught?

COUNT.
In all barbarous countries. But the whole system is exploded in places
that are civilized.

AMELIA.
And what is substituted in its stead?

COUNT.
Intrigue.

AMELIA.
What a poor, uncomfortable substitute!

COUNT.
There are other things—Song, dance, the opera, and war.

[_Since the entrance of the_ Count _the_ Baron _has removed to a table
at a little distance._


BARON.
What are you talking of there?

COUNT.
Of war, Colonel.

BARON.
[_rising_]. Ay, we like to talk on what we don’t understand.

COUNT.
[_rising_]. Therefore, to a lady, I always speak of politics; and to
her father, on love.

BARON.
I believe, Count, notwithstanding your sneer, I am still as much a
proficient in that art as yourself.

COUNT.
I do not doubt it, my dear Colonel, for you are a soldier: and since
the days of Alexander, whoever conquers men is certain to overcome
women.

BARON.
An achievement to animate a poltroon.

COUNT.
And, I verily believe, gains more recruits than the king’s pay.

BARON.
Now we are on the subject of arms, should you like to go out a shooting
with me for an hour before dinner?

COUNT.
Bravo, Colonel! A charming thought! This will give me an opportunity to
use my elegant gun: the but is inlaid with mother-of-pearl. You cannot
find better work, or better taste.—Even my coat of arms is engraved.

BARON.
But can you shoot?

COUNT.
That I have never tried—except, with my eyes, at a fine woman.

BARON.
I am not particular what game I pursue.—I have an old gun; it does not
look fine; But I can always bring down my bird.

_Enter_ SERVANT.


SERVANT.
Mr. Anhalt begs leave——

BARON.
Tell him to come in.—I shall be ready in a moment. [_Exit_ Servant.

COUNT.
Who is Mr. Anhalt?

AMELIA.
Oh, a very good man. [_With warmth._]

COUNT.
“A good man.” In Italy, that means a religious man; in France, it means
a cheerful man; in Spain, it means a wise man; and in England, it means
a rich man.—Which good of all these is Mr. Anhalt?

AMELIA.
A good man in every country, except England.

COUNT.
And give me the English good man, before that of any other nation.

BARON.
And of what nation would you prefer your good woman to be, Count?

COUNT.
Of Germany. [_bowing to_ Amelia.]

AMELIA.
In compliment to me?

COUNT.
In justice to my own judgment.

BARON.
Certainly. For have we not an instance of one German woman, who
possesses every virtue that ornaments the whole sex; whether as a woman
of illustrious rank, or in the more exalted character of a wife, and
mother?

_Enter Mr._ ANHALT.


MR. ANHALT.
I come by your command, Baron——

BARON.
Quick, Count.—Get your elegant gun.—I pass your apartments, and will
soon call for you.

COUNT.
I fly.—Beautiful Amelia, it is a sacrifice I make to your father, that
I leave for a few hours his amiable daughter. [_Exit._

BARON.
My dear Amelia, I think it scarcely necessary to speak to Mr. Anhalt,
or that he should speak to you, on the subject of the Count; but as he
is here, leave us alone.

AMELIA.
[_as she retires_]. Good morning, Mr. Anhalt.—I hope you are very well.
[_Exit._

BARON.
I’ll tell you in a few words why I sent for you. Count Cassel is here,
and wishes to marry my daughter.

MR. ANHALT.
[_much concerned_]. Really!

BARON.
He is—he—in a word I don’t like him.

MR. ANHALT.
[_with emotion_]. And Miss Wildenhaim ——

BARON.
I shall not command, neither persuade her to the marriage—I know too
well the fatal influence of parents on such a subject. Objections to be
sure, if they could be removed—But when you find a man’s head without
brains, and his bosom without a heart, these are important articles to
supply. Young as you are, Anhalt, I know no one so able to restore, or
to bestow those blessings on his fellow-creatures, as you. [Anhalt
_bows._] The Count wants a little of my daughter’s simplicity and
sensibility.—Take him under your care while he is here, and make him
something like yourself.—You have succeeded to my wish in the education
of my daughter.—Form the Count after your own manner.—I shall then have
what I have sighed for all my life—a son.

MR. ANHALT.
With your permission, Baron, I will ask one question. What remains to
interest you in favour of a man, whose head and heart are good for
nothing?

BARON.
Birth and fortune. Yet, if I thought my daughter absolutely disliked
him, or that she loved another, I would not thwart a first
affection;—no, for the world, I would not. [_sighing._] But that her
affections are already bestowed, is not probable.

MR. ANHALT.
Are you of opinion that she will never fall in love?

BARON.
Oh! no. I am of opinion that no woman ever arrived at the age of twenty
without that misfortune.—But this is another subject.—Go to
Amelia—explain to her the duties of a wife and of a mother.—If she
comprehends them, as she ought, then ask her if she thinks she could
fulfil those duties, as the wife of Count Cassel.

MR. ANHALT.
I will.—But—I—Miss Wildenhaim—[_confused._ I—I shall—I—I shall obey
your commands.

BARON.
Do so. [_gives a deep sigh._] Ah! so far this weight is removed; but
there lies still a heavier next my heart.—You understand me.—How is it,
Mr. Anhalt? Have you not yet been able to make any discoveries on that
unfortunate subject?

MR. ANHALT.
I have taken infinite pains; but in vain. No such person is to be
found.

BARON.
Believe me, this burthen presses on my thoughts so much, that many
nights I go without sleep. A man is sometimes tempted to commit such
depravity when young.—Oh, Anhalt! had I, in my youth, had you for a
tutor;—but I had no instructor but my passions; no governor but my own
will. [_Exit._

MR. ANHALT.
This commission of the Baron’s in respect to his daughter, I am—[_looks
about_]—If I shou’d meet her now, I cannot—I must recover myself first,
and then prepare.—A walk in the fields, and a fervent prayer—After
these, I trust, I shall return, as a man whose views are solely placed
on a future world; all hopes in this, with fortitude resigned. [_Exit._



ACT III.

SCENE I.

_An open Field._


FREDERICK _alone, with a few pieces of money which he turns about in
his hands._


FREDERICK.
To return with this trifle for which I have stooped to beg! return to
see my mother dying! I would rather fly to the world’s end. [_Looking
at the money._] What can I buy with this? It is hardly enough to pay
for the nails that will be wanted for her coffin. My great anxiety will
drive me to distraction. However, let the consequence of our affliction
be what it may, all will fall upon my father’s head; and may he pant
for Heaven’s forgiveness, as my poor mother —— [_At a distance is heard
the firing of a gun, then the cry of Hallo, Hallo—Gamekeepers and
Sportsmen run across the stage—he looks about._] Here they come—a
nobleman, I suppose, or a man of fortune. Yes, yes—and I will once more
beg for my mother.—May Heaven send relief!

_Enter the_ BARON _followed slowly by the_ COUNT. _The_ BARON _stops._


BARON.
Quick, quick, Count! Aye, aye, that was a blunder indeed. Don’t you see
the dogs? There they run—they have lost the scent. [_Exit_ Baron
_looking after the dogs._

COUNT.
So much the better, Colonel, for I must take a little breath. [_He
leans on his gun_—Frederick _goes up to him with great modesty._]

FREDERICK.
Gentleman, I beg you will bestow from your superfluous wants something
to relieve the pain, and nourish the weak frame, of an expiring woman.

_The_ BARON _re-enters._


COUNT.
What police is here! that a nobleman’s amusements should be interrupted
by the attack of vagrants.

FREDERICK.
[_to the Baron_]. Have pity, noble Sir, and relieve the distress of an
unfortunate son, who supplicates for his dying mother.

BARON.
[_taking out his purse_]. I think, young soldier, it would be better if
you were with your regiment on duty, instead of begging.

FREDERICK.
I would with all my heart: but at this present moment my sorrows are
too great.—[Baron _gives something._] I entreat your pardon. What you
have been so good as to give me is not enough.

BARON.
[_surprised_]. Not enough!

FREDERICK.
No, it is not enough.

COUNT.
The most singular beggar I ever met in all my travels.

FREDERICK.
If you have a charitable heart, give me one dollar.

BARON.
This is the first time I was ever dictated by a beggar what to give
him.

FREDERICK.
With one dollar you will save a distracted man.

BARON.
I don’t choose to give any more. Count, go on.

[_Exit_ Count—_as the_ Baron _follows_, Frederick _seizes him by the
breast and draws his sword._]


FREDERICK.
Your purse, or your life.

BARON.
[_calling_]. Here! here! seize and secure him.

[_Some of the Gamekeepers run on, lay hold of_ Frederick, _and disarm
him._]


FREDERICK.
What have I done!

BARON.
Take him to the castle, and confine him in one of the towers. I shall
follow you immediately.

FREDERICK.
One favour I have to beg, one favour only.—I know that I am guilty, and
am ready to receive the punishment my crime deserves. But I have a
mother, who is expiring for want—pity her, if you cannot pity me—bestow
on her relief. If you will send to yonder hut, you will find that I do
not impose on you a falsehood. For her it was I drew my sword—for her I
am ready to die.

BARON.
Take him away, and imprison him where I told you.

FREDERICK.
[_as he is forced off by the keepers_]. Woe to that man to whom I owe
my birth! [_Exit._

BARON.
[_calls another Keeper_]. Here, Frank, run directly to yonder hamlet,
inquire in the first, second, and third cottage for a poor sick
woman—and if you really find such a person, give her this purse. [_Exit
Gamekeeper._]

BARON.
A most extraordinary event!—and what a well-looking youth! something in
his countenance and address which struck me inconceivably!—If it is
true that he begged for his mother—But if he did——for the attempt upon
my life, he must die. Vice is never half so dangerous, as when it
assumes the garb of morality. [_Exit._]



SCENE II.

_A room in the Castle._


AMELIA.
[_alone._] Why am I so uneasy; so peevish; who has offended me? I did
not mean to come into this room. In the garden I intended to go
[_going, turns back_]. No, I will not—yes, I will—just go, and look if
my auriculas are still in blossom; and if the apple tree is grown which
Mr. Anhalt planted.—I feel very low-spirited—something must be the
matter.—Why do I cry?—Am I not well?

_Enter Mr._ ANHALT.


Ah! good morning, my dear Sir—Mr. Anhalt, I meant to say—I beg pardon.

MR. ANHALT.
Never mind, Miss Wildenhaim—I don’t dislike to hear you call me as you
did.

AMELIA.
In earnest?

MR. ANHALT.
Really. You have been crying. May I know the reason? The loss of your
mother, still?—

AMELIA.
No—I have left off crying for her.

MR. ANHALT.
I beg pardon if I have come at an improper hour; but I wait upon you by
the commands of your father.

AMELIA.
You are welcome at all hours. My father has more than once told me that
he who forms my mind I should always consider as my greatest
benefactor. [_looking down_] And my heart tells me the same.

MR. ANHALT.
I think myself amply rewarded by the good opinion you have of me.

AMELIA.
When I remember what trouble I have sometimes given you, I cannot be
too grateful.

MR. ANHALT.
[_to himself_] Oh! Heavens!—[_to_ Amelia]. I—I come from your father
with a commission.—If you please, we will sit down. [_He places chairs,
and they sit._] Count Cassel is arrived.

AMELIA.
Yes, I know.

MR. ANHALT.
And do you know for what reason?

AMELIA.
He wishes to marry me.

MR. ANHALT.
Does he? [_hastily_] But believe me, the Baron will not persuade
you—No, I am sure he will not.

AMELIA.
I know that.

MR. ANHALT.
He wishes that I should ascertain whether you have an inclination ——

AMELIA.
For the Count, or for matrimony do you mean?

MR. ANHALT.
For matrimony.

AMELIA.
All things that I don’t know, and don’t understand, are quite
indifferent to me.

MR. ANHALT.
For that very reason I am sent to you to explain the good and the bad
of which matrimony is composed.

AMELIA.
Then I beg first to be acquainted with the good.

MR. ANHALT.
When two sympathetic hearts meet in the marriage state, matrimony may
be called a happy life. When such a wedded pair find thorns in their
path, each will be eager, for the sake of the other, to tear them from
the root. Where they have to mount hills, or wind a labyrinth, the most
experienced will lead the way, and be a guide to his companion.
Patience and love will accompany them in their journey, while
melancholy and discord they leave far behind.—Hand in hand they pass on
from morning till evening, through their summer’s day, till the night
of age draws on, and the sleep of death overtakes the one. The other,
weeping and mourning, yet looks forward to the bright region where he
shall meet his still surviving partner, among trees and flowers which
themselves have planted, in fields of eternal verdure.

AMELIA.
You may tell my father—I’ll marry. [_Rises._]

MR. ANHALT.
[_rising_]. This picture is pleasing; but I must beg you not to forget
that there is another on the same subject.—When convenience, and fair
appearance joined to folly and ill-humour, forge the fetters of
matrimony, they gall with their weight the married pair. Discontented
with each other—at variance in opinions—their mutual aversion increases
with the years they live together. They contend most, where they should
most unite; torment, where they should most soothe. In this rugged way,
choaked with the weeds of suspicion, jealousy, anger, and hatred, they
take their daily journey, till one of these _also_ sleep in death. The
other then lifts up his dejected head, and calls out in acclamations of
joy—Oh, liberty! dear liberty!

AMELIA.
I will not marry.

MR. ANHALT.
You mean to say, you will not fall in love.

AMELIA.
Oh no! [_ashamed_] I am in love.

MR. ANHALT.
Are in love! [_starting_] And with the Count?

AMELIA.
I wish I was.

MR. ANHALT.
Why so?

AMELIA.
Because _he_ would, perhaps, love me again.

MR. ANHALT.
[_warmly_]. Who is there that would not?

AMELIA.
Would you?

MR. ANHALT.
I—I—me—I—I am out of the question.

AMELIA.
No; you are the very person to whom I have put the question.

MR. ANHALT.
What do you mean?

AMELIA.
I am glad you don’t understand me. I was afraid I had spoken too plain.
[_in confusion_].

MR. ANHALT.
Understand you!—As to that—I am not dull.

AMELIA.
I know you are not—And as you have for a long time instructed me, why
should not I now begin to teach you?

MR. ANHALT.
Teach me what?

AMELIA.
Whatever I know, and you don’t.

MR. ANHALT.
There are some things I had rather never know.

AMELIA.
So you may remember I said when you began to teach me mathematics. I
said I had rather not know it—But now I have learnt it gives me a great
deal of pleasure—and [_hesitating_] perhaps, who can tell, but that I
might teach something as pleasant to you, as resolving a problem is to
me.

MR. ANHALT.
Woman herself is a problem.

AMELIA.
And I’ll teach you to make her out.

MR. ANHALT.
_You_ teach?

AMELIA.
Why not? none but a woman can teach the science of herself: and though
I own I am very young, a young woman may be as agreeable for a tutoress
as an old one.—I am sure I always learnt faster from you than from the
old clergyman who taught me before you came.

MR. ANHALT.
This is nothing to the subject.

AMELIA.
What is the subject?

MR. ANHALT.
—— Love.

AMELIA.
[_going up to him_]. Come, then, teach it me—teach it me as you taught
me geography, languages, and other important things.

MR. ANHALT.
[_turning from her_] Pshaw!

AMELIA.
Ah! you won’t—You know you have already taught me that, and you won’t
begin again.

MR. ANHALT.
You misconstrue—you misconceive every thing I say or do. The subject I
came to you upon was marriage.

AMELIA.
A very proper subject from the man who has taught me love, and I accept
the proposal [_curtsying_].

MR. ANHALT.
Again you misconceive and confound me.

AMELIA.
Ay, I see how it is—You have no inclination to experience with me “the
good part of matrimony:” I am not the female with whom you would like
to go “hand in hand up hills, and through labyrinths”—with whom you
would like to “root up thorns; and with whom you would delight to plant
lilies and roses.” No, you had rather call out, “O liberty, dear
liberty.”

MR. ANHALT.
Why do you force from me, what it is villanous to own?—I love you more
than life—Oh, Amelia! had we lived in those golden times, which the
poet’s picture, no one but you——But as the world is changed, your birth
and fortune make our union impossible—To preserve the character, and
more the feelings of an honest man, I would not marry you without the
consent of your father—And could I, dare I propose it to him.

AMELIA.
He has commanded me never to conceal or disguise the truth. I will
propose it to him. The subject of the Count will force me to speak
plainly, and this will be the most proper time, while he can compare
the merit of you both.

MR. ANHALT.
I conjure you not to think of exposing yourself and me to his
resentment.

AMELIA.
It is my father’s will that I should marry—It is my father’s wish to
see me happy—If then you love me as you say, I will marry; and will be
happy—but only with you.—I will tell him this.—At first he will start;
then grow angry; then be in a passion—In his passion he will call me
“undutiful:” but he will soon recollect himself, and resume his usual
smiles, saying “Well, well, if he love you, and you love him, in the
name of heaven, let it be.” Then I shall hug him round the neck, kiss
his hands, run away from him, and fly to you; it will soon be known
that I am your bride, the whole village will come to wish me joy, and
heaven’s blessing will follow.

_Enter Verdun, the_ BUTLER.


AMELIA.
[_discontented_]. Ah! is it you?

BUTLER.
Without vanity, I have taken the liberty to enter this apartment the
moment the good news reached my ears.

AMELIA.
What news?

BUTLER.
Pardon an old servant, your father’s old butler, gracious lady, who has
had the honour to carry the baron in his arms—and afterwards with
humble submission to receive many a box o’ the ear from you—if he
thinks it his duty to make his congratulations with due reverence on
this happy day, and to join with the muses in harmonious tunes on the
lyre.

AMELIA.
Oh! my good butler, I am not in a humour to listen to the muses, and
your lyre.

BUTLER.
There has never been a birth-day, nor wedding-day, nor christening-day,
celebrated in your family, in which I have not joined with the muses in
full chorus.—In forty-six years, three hundred and ninety-seven
congratulations on different occasions have dropped from my pen.
To-day, the three hundred and ninety-eighth is coming forth;—for heaven
has protected our noble master, who has been in great danger.

AMELIA.
Danger! My father in danger! What do you mean?

BUTLER.
One of the gamekeepers has returned to inform the whole castle of a
base and knavish trick, of which the world will talk, and my poetry
hand down to posterity.

AMELIA.
What, what is all this?

BUTLER.
The baron, my lord and master, in company with the strange Count, had
not been gone a mile beyond the lawn, when one of them ——

AMELIA.
What happened? Speak for heaven’s sake.

BUTLER.
My verse shall tell you.

AMELIA.
No, no; tell us in prose.

MR. ANHALT.
Yes, in prose.

BUTLER.
Ah, you have neither of you ever been in love, or you would prefer
poetry to prose. But excuse [_pulls out a paper_] the haste in which it
was written. I heard the news in the fields—always have paper and a
pencil about me, and composed the whole forty lines crossing the
meadows and the park in my way home. [_reads._]

Oh Muse, ascend the forked mount.
    And lofty strains prepare,
About a Baron and a Count,
    Who went to hunt the hare.

The hare she ran with utmost speed,
    And sad, and anxious looks,
Because the furious hounds indeed,
    Were near to her, gadzooks.

At length, the Count and Baron bold
    Their footsteps homeward bended;
For why, because, as you were told,
    The hunting it was ended.

Before them strait a youth appears,
    Who made a piteous pother,
And told a tale with many tears,
    About his dying mother.

The youth was in severe distress,
    And seem’d as he had spent all,
He look’d a soldier by his dress;
    For that was regimental.

The Baron’s heart was full of ruth,
    While from his eye fell brine o!
And soon he gave the mournful youth
    A little ready rino.

He gave a shilling as I live,
    Which, sure, was mighty well;
But to some people if you give
    An inch—they’ll take an ell.

The youth then drew his martial knife,
    And seiz’d the Baron’s collar,
He swore he’d have the Baron’s life,
    Or else another dollar.

Then did the Baron in a fume,
    Soon raise a mighty din,
Whereon came butler, huntsman, groom,
    And eke the whipper-in.

Maugre this young man’s warlike coat,
    They bore him off to prison;
And held so strongly by his throat,
    They almost stopt his whizzen.

Soon may a neckcloth, call’d a rope,
    Of robbing cure this elf;
If so I’ll write, without a trope,
    His dying speech myself.

And had the Baron chanc’d to die,
    Oh! grief to all the nation,
I must have made an elegy,
    And not this fine narration.


MORAL.


Henceforth let those who all have spent,
    And would by begging live,
Take warning here, and be content,
    With what folks chuse to give.


AMELIA.
Your muse, Mr. Butler, is in a very inventive humour this morning.

MR. ANHALT.
And your tale too improbable, even for fiction.

BUTLER.
Improbable! It’s a real fact.

AMELIA.
What, a robber in our grounds, at noon-day? Very likely indeed!

BUTLER.
I don’t say it was likely—I only say it is true.

MR. ANHALT.
No, no, Mr. Verdun, we find no fault with your poetry; but don’t
attempt to impose it upon us for truth.

AMELIA.
Poets are allowed to speak falsehood, and we forgive yours.

BUTLER.
I won’t be forgiven, for I speak truth—And here the robber comes, in
custody, to prove my words. [_Goes off, repeating_] “I’ll write his
dying speech myself.”

AMELIA.
Look! as I live, so he does—They come nearer; he’s a young man, and has
something interesting in his figure. An honest countenance, with grief
and sorrow in his face. No, he is no robber—I pity him! Oh! look how
the keepers drag him unmercifully into the tower—Now they lock it—Oh!
how that poor, unfortunate man must feel!

MR. ANHALT.
[_aside_]. Hardly worse than I do.

_Enter the_ BARON.


AMELIA.
[_runs up to him_]. A thousand congratulations, my dear papa.

BARON.
For Heaven’s sake spare me your congratulations. The old Butler, in
coming up stairs, has already overwhelmed me with them.

MR. ANHALT.
Then, it is true, my Lord? I could hardly believe the old man.

AMELIA.
And the young prisoner, with all his honest looks, is a robber?

BARON.
He is; but I verily believe for the first and last time. A most
extraordinary event, Mr. Anhalt This young man begged; then drew his
sword upon me; but he trembled so, when he seized me by the breast, a
child might have overpowered him. I almost wish he had made his
escape—this adventure may cost him his life, and I might have preserved
it with one dollar: but, now, to save him would set a bad example.

AMELIA.
Oh no! my lord, have pity on him! Plead for him, Mr. Anhalt!

BARON.
Amelia, have you had any conversation with Mr. Anhalt?

AMELIA.
Yes, my Lord.

BARON.
Respecting matrimony?

AMELIA.
Yes; and I have told him ——

MR. ANHALT.
[_very hastily_]. According to your commands, Baron ——

AMELIA.
But he has conjured me ——

MR. ANHALT.
I have endeavoured, my Lord, to find out ——

AMELIA.
Yet, I am sure, dear papa, your affection for me ——

MR. ANHALT.
You wish to say something to me in your closet, my Lord?

BARON.
What the devil is all this conversation? You will not let one another
speak—I don’t understand either of you.

AMELIA.
Dear father, have you not promised you will not thwart my affections
when I marry, but suffer me to follow their dictates.

BARON.
Certainly.

AMELIA.
Do you hear, Mr. Anhalt?

MR. ANHALT.
I beg pardon—I have a person who is waiting for me—I am obliged to
retire. [_Exit in confusion._

BARON.
[_calls after him_]. I shall expect you in my closet. I am going there
immediately. [_Retiring towards the opposite door._]

AMELIA.
Pray, my Lord, stop a few minutes longer; I have something of great
importance to say to you.

BARON.
Something of importance! to plead for the young man, I suppose! But
that’s a subject I must not listen to. [_Exit._

AMELIA.
I wish to plead for two young men—For one, that he may be let out of
prison: for the other, that he may be made a prisoner for life. [_Looks
out._] The tower is still locked. How dismal it must be to be shut up
in such a place; and perhaps—[_Calls_] Butler! Butler! Come this way. I
wish to speak to you. This young soldier has risked his life for his
mother, and that accounts for the interest I take in his misfortunes.

_Enter the_ BUTLER.


Pray, have you carried anything to the prisoner to eat?

BUTLER.
Yes.

AMELIA.
What was it?

BUTLER.
Some fine black bread; and water as clear as crystal.

AMELIA.
Are you not ashamed! Even my father pities him. Go directly down to the
kitchen, and desire the cook to give you something good and
comfortable; and then go into the cellar for a bottle of wine.

BUTLER.
Good and comfortable indeed!

AMELIA.
And carry both to the tower.

BUTLER.
I am willing at any time, dear Lady, to obey your orders; but, on this
occasion, the prisoner’s food must remain bread and water—It is the
Baron’s particular command.

AMELIA.
Ah! My father was in the height of passion when he gave it.

BUTLER.
Whatsoever his passion might be, it is the duty of a true, and honest
dependent to obey his Lord’s mandates. I will not suffer a servant in
this house, nor will I, myself, give the young man any thing except
bread and water—But I’ll tell you what I’ll do—I’ll read my verses to
him.

AMELIA.
Give me the key of the cellar—I’ll go myself.

BUTLER.
[_gives the key_]. And there’s my verses—[_taking them from his
pocket_] Carry them with you, they may comfort him as much as the wine.
[_She throws them down._ [_Exit_ Amelia.

BUTLER.
[_in amazement_]. Not take them! Refuse to take them—[_he lifts them
from the floor with the utmost respect_]—

“I must have made an elegy,
And not this fine narration.” [_Exit._



ACT IV.

SCENE I.

_A Prison in one of the Towers of the Castle._ FREDERICK [_alone_].


FREDERICK.
How a few moments destroy the happiness of man! When I, this morning,
set out from my inn, and saw the sun rise, I sung with joy.—Flattered
with the hope of seeing my mother, I formed a scheme how I would with
joy surprize her. But, farewell all pleasant prospects—I return to my
native country, and the first object I behold, is my dying parent; my
first lodging, a prison; and my next walk will perhaps be—oh, merciful
providence! have I deserved all this?

_Enter_ AMELIA _with a small basket covered with a napkin.—She speaks
to someone without._


AMELIA.
Wait there, Francis, I shall soon be back.

FREDERICK.
[_hearing the door open, and turning around_]. Who’s there?

AMELIA.
You must be hungry and thirsty, I fear.

FREDERICK.
Oh, no! neither.

AMELIA.
Here is a bottle of wine, and something to eat. [_Places the basket on
the table._] I have often heard my father say, that wine is quite a
cordial to the heart.

FREDERICK.
A thousand thanks, dear stranger. Ah! could I prevail on you to have it
sent to my mother, who is on her death-bed, under the roof of an honest
peasant, called Hubert! Take it hence, my kind benefactress, and save
my mother.

AMELIA.
But first assure me that you did not intend to murder my father.

FREDERICK.
Your father! heaven forbid.—I meant but to preserve her life, who gave
me mine.—Murder your father! No, no—I hope not.

AMELIA.
And I thought not—Or, if you had murdered any one, you had better have
killed the Count; nobody would have missed him.

FREDERICK.
Who, may I enquire, were those gentlemen, whom I hoped to frighten into
charity?

AMELIA.
Ay, if you only intended to frighten them, the Count was the very
person for your purpose. But you caught hold of the other
gentleman.—And could you hope to intimidate Baron Wildenhaim?

FREDERICK.
Baron Wildenhaim!—Almighty powers!

AMELIA.
What’s the matter?

FREDERICK.
The man to whose breast I held my sword——[_trembling_].

AMELIA.
Was Baron Wildenhaim—the owner of this estate—my father!

FREDERICK.
[_with the greatest emotion_]. _My_ father!

AMELIA.
Good heaven, how he looks! I am afraid he’s mad. Here! Francis,
Francis. [_Exit, calling._

FREDERICK.
[_all agitation_]. My _father_! Eternal judge! tho do’st slumber! The
man, against whom I drew my sword this day was my father! One moment
longer, and provoked, I might have been the murderer of my father! my
hair stands on end! my eyes are clouded! I cannot see any thing before
me. [_Sinks down on chair_]. If Providence had ordained that I should
give the fatal blow, who, would have been most in fault?—I dare not
pronounce—[_after a pause_] That benevolent young female who left me
just now, is, then, my sister—and I suppose that fop, who accompanied
my father——

_Enter_ MR. ANHALT.


Welcome, Sir! By your dress you are of the church, and consequently a
messenger of comfort. You are most welcome, Sir.

MR. ANHALT.
I wish to bring comfort and avoid upbraidings: for your own conscience
will reproach you more than the voice of a preacher. From the
sensibility of your countenance, together with a language, and address
superior to the vulgar, it appears, young man, you have had an
education, which should have preserved you from a state like this.

FREDERICK.
My education I owe to my mother. Filial love, in return, has plunged me
into the state you see. A civil magistrate will condemn according to
the law—A priest, in judgment, is not to consider the act itself, but
the impulse which led to the act.

MR. ANHALT.
I shall judge with all the lenity my religion dictates: and you are the
prisoner of a nobleman, who compassionates you for the affection which
you bear towards your mother; for he has sent to the village where you
directed him, and has found the account you gave relating to her
true.—With this impression in your favour, it is my advice, that you
endeavour to see and supplicate the Baron for your release from prison,
and all the peril of his justice.

FREDERICK.
[_starting_]. I—I see the Baron! I!—I supplicate for my
deliverance.—Will you favour me with his name?—Is it not Baron——

MR. ANHALT.
Baron Wildenhaim.

FREDERICK.
Baron Wildenhaim! He lived formerly in Alsace.

MR. ANHALT.
The same.—About a year after the death of his wife, he left Alsace; and
arrived here a few weeks ago to take possession of his paternal estate.

FREDERICK.
So! his wife is dead;—and that generous young lady who came to my
prison just now is his daughter?

MR. ANHALT.
Miss Wildenhaim, his daughter.

FREDERICK.
And that young gentleman, I saw with him this morning, is his son?

MR. ANHALT.
He has no son.

FREDERICK.
[_hastily_]. Oh, yes, he has—[_recollecting himself_]—I mean him that
was out shooting to-day.

MR. ANHALT.
He is not his son.

FREDERICK.
[_to himself_]. Thank Heaven!

MR. ANHALT.
He is only a visitor.

FREDERICK.
I thank you for this information; and if you will undertake to procure
me a private interview with Baron Wildenhaim——

MR. ANHALT.
Why private? However, I will venture to take you for a short time from
this place, and introduce you; depending on your innocence, or your
repentance—on his conviction in your favour, or his mercy towards your
guilt. Follow me. [_Exit._

FREDERICK.
[_following_]. I have beheld an affectionate parent in deep
adversity.—Why should I tremble thus?—Why doubt my fortitude, in the
presence of an unnatural parent in prosperity? [_Exit._



SCENE II.

_A Room in the Castle._


_Enter_ BARON WILDENHAIM _and_ AMELIA.


BARON.
I hope you will judge more favourably of Count Cassel’s understanding
since the private interview you have had with him. Confess to me the
exact effect of the long conference between you.

AMELIA.
To make me hate him.

BARON.
What has he done?

AMELIA.
Oh! told me of such barbarous deeds he has committed.

BARON.
What deeds?

AMELIA.
Made vows of love to so many women, that, on his marriage with me, a
hundred female hearts will at least be broken.

BARON.
Psha! do you believe him?

AMELIA.
Suppose I do not; is it to his honour that I believe he tells a
falsehood?

BARON.
He is mistaken merely.

AMELIA.
Indeed, my Lord, in one respect I am sure he speaks truth. For our old
Butler told my waiting-maid of a poor young creature who has been
deceived, undone; and she, and her whole family, involved in shame and
sorrow by his perfidy.

BARON.
Are you sure the Butler said this?

AMELIA.
See him and ask him. He knows the whole story, indeed he does; the
names of the persons, and every circumstance.

BARON.
Desire he may be sent to me.

AMELIA.
[_goes to the door and calls_]. Order old Verdun to come to the Baron
directly.

BARON.
I know tale-bearers are apt to be erroneous. I’ll hear from himself,
the account you speak of.

AMELIA.
I believe it is in verse.

BARON.
[_angry_]. In verse!

AMELIA.
But, then, indeed it’s true.

_Enter_ BUTLER.


AMELIA.
Verdun, pray have not you some true poetry?

BUTLER.
All my poetry is true—and so far, better than some people’s prose.

BARON.
But I want prose on this occasion, and command you to give me nothing
else. [Butler _bows_.] Have you heard of an engagement which Count
Cassel is under to any other woman than my daughter?

BUTLER.
I am to tell your honour in prose?

BARON.
Certainly. [Butler _appears uneasy and loath to speak._] Amelia, he
does not like to divulge what he knows in presence of a third
person—leave the room. [_Exit_ Amelia.

BUTLER.
No, no—that did not cause my reluctance to speak.

BARON.
What then?

BUTLER.
Your not allowing me to speak in verse—for here is the poetic poem.
[_Holding up a paper_.]

BARON.
How dare you presume to contend with my will? Tell in plain language
all you know on the subject I have named.

BUTLER.
Well, then, my Lord, if you must have the account in quiet prose, thus
it was—Phœbus, one morning, rose in the East, and having handed in the
long-expected day, he called up his brother Hymen——

BARON.
Have done with your rhapsody.

BUTLER.
Ay; I knew you’d like it best in verse——

There lived a lady in this land,
    Whose charms the heart made tingle;
At church she had not given her hand,
    And therefore still was single.


BARON.
Keep to prose.

BUTLER.
I will, my Lord; but I have repeated it so often in verse, I scarce
know how.—Count Cassel, influenced by the designs of Cupid in his very
worst humour,

“Count Cassel wooed this maid so rare,
    And in her eye found grace;
And if his purpose was not fair,”


BARON.
No verse.

BUTLER.


    “It probably was base.”


I beg pardon, my Lord; but the verse will intrude in spite of my
efforts to forget it. ’Tis as difficult for me at times to forget, as
’tis for other men at times to remember. But in plain truth, my Lord,
the Count was treacherous, cruel, forsworn.

BARON.
I am astonished!

BUTLER.
And would be more so if you would listen to the whole poem. [_Most
earnestly_.] Pray, my Lord, listen to it.

BARON.
You know the family? All the parties?

BUTLER.
I will bring the father of the damsel to prove the veracity of my muse.
His name is Baden—poor old man!

“The sire consents to bless the pair,
    And names the nuptial day,
When, lo! the bridegroom was not there,
    Because he was away.”


BARON.
But tell me—Had the father his daughter’s innocence to deplore?

BUTLER.
Ah! my Lord, ah! and you _must_ hear that part in rhyme. Loss of
innocence never sounds well except in verse.

“For ah! the very night before,
    No prudent guard upon her,
The Count he gave her oaths a score,
    And took in change her honour.


MORAL.


Then you, who now lead single lives,
    From this sad tale beware;
And do not act as you were wives,
    Before you really are.”


_Enter_ COUNT CASSEL.


BARON.
[_to the_ Butler]. Leave the room instantly.

COUNT.
Yes, good Mr. family poet, leave the room, and take your doggerels with
you.

BUTLER.
Don’t affront my poem, your honour; for I am indebted to you for the
plot.

“The Count he gave her oaths a score
And took in change her honour.”


[_Exit_ Butler.


BARON.
Count, you see me agitated.

COUNT.
What can be the cause?

BARON.
I’ll not keep you in doubt a moment. You are accused, young man, of
being engaged to another woman while you offer marriage to my child.

COUNT.
To only _one_ other woman?

BARON.
What do you mean?

COUNT.
My meaning is, that when a man is young and rich, has travelled, and is
no personal object of disapprobation, to have made vows but to one
woman, is an absolute slight upon the rest of the sex.

BARON.
Without evasion, Sir, do you know the name of Baden? Was there ever a
promise of marriage made by you to his daughter? Answer me plainly: or
must I take a journey to inquire of the father?

COUNT.
No—he can tell you no more than, I dare say, you already know; and
which I shall not contradict.

BARON.
Amazing insensibility! And can you hold your head erect while you
acknowledge perfidy?

COUNT.
My dear baron,—if every man, who deserves to have a charge such as this
brought against him, was not permitted to look up—it is a doubt whom we
might not meet crawling on all fours. [_he accidently taps the Baron’s
shoulder._]

BARON.
[_starts—recollects himself—then in a faultering voice_].
Yet—nevertheless—the act is so atrocious—

COUNT.
But nothing new.

BARON.
[_faintly_]. Yes—I hope—I hope it is new.

COUNT.
What, did you never meet with such a thing before?

BARON.
[_agitated_]. If I have—I pronounced the man who so offended—a villain.

COUNT.
You are singularly scrupulous. I question if the man thought himself
so.

BARON.
Yes he did.

COUNT.
How do you know?

BARON.
[_hesitating_]. I have heard him say so.

COUNT.
But he ate, drank, and slept, I suppose?

BARON.
[_confused_]. Perhaps he did.

COUNT.
And was merry with his friends; and his friends as fond of him as ever?

BARON.
Perhaps [_confused_]—perhaps they were.

COUNT.
And perhaps he now and then took upon him to lecture young men for
their gallantries?

BARON.
Perhaps he did.

COUNT.
Why, then, after all, Baron, your villain is a mighty good, prudent,
honest fellow; and I have no objection to your giving me that name.

BARON.
But do you not think of some atonement to the unfortunate girl?

COUNT.
Did _your_ villain atone?

BARON.
No: when his reason was matured, he wished to make some recompense; but
his endeavours were too late.

COUNT.
I will follow his example, and wait till my reason is matured, before I
think myself competent to determine what to do.

BARON.
And till that time I defer your marriage with my daughter.

COUNT.
Would you delay her happiness so long? Why, my dear Baron, considering
the fashionable life I lead, it may be ten years before my judgment
arrives to its necessary standard.

BARON.
I have the head-ach, Count—These tidings have discomposed, disordered
me—I beg your absence for a few minutes.

COUNT.
I obey—And let me assure you, my Lord, that, although, from the extreme
delicacy of your honour, you have ever through life shuddered at
seduction; yet, there are constitutions, and there are circumstances,
in which it can be palliated.

BARON.
Never [_violently_].

COUNT.
Not in a grave, serious, reflecting man such as _you_, I grant. But in
a gay, lively, inconsiderate, flimsy, frivolous coxcomb, such as
myself, it is excusable: for me to keep my word to a woman, would be
deceit: ’tis not expected of me. It is in my character to break oaths
in love; as it is in your nature, my Lord, never to have spoken any
thing but wisdom and truth. [_Exit_

BARON.
Could I have thought a creature so insignificant as that, had power to
excite sensations such as I feel at present! I am, indeed, worse than
he is, as much as the crimes of a man exceed those of an idiot.

_Enter_ AMELIA.


AMELIA.
I heard the Count leave you, my Lord, and so I am come to enquire——

BARON.
[_sitting down, and trying to compose himself_]. You are not to marry
count Cassel—And now, mention his name to me no more.

AMELIA.
I won’t—indeed I won’t—for I hate his name.—But thank you, my dear
father, for this good news [_draws a chair, and sits on the opposite
side of the table on which he leans.—And after a pause_] And who am I
to marry?

BARON.
[_his head on his hand_]. I can’t tell.

[Amelia _appears to have something on her mind which she wishes to
disclose_.]


AMELIA.
I never liked the Count.

BARON.
No more did I.

AMELIA.
[_after a pause_]. I think love comes just as it pleases, without being
asked.

BARON.
It does so [_in deep thought_].

AMELIA.
[_after another pause_]. And there are instances where, perhaps, the
object of love makes the passion meritorious.

BARON.
To be sure there are.

AMELIA.
For example; my affection for Mr. Anhalt as my tutor.

BARON.
Right.

AMELIA.
[_after another pause_]. I should like to marry. [_sighing_.]

BARON.
So you shall [_a pause_]. It is proper for every body to marry.

AMELIA.
Why, then, does not Mr. Anhalt marry?

BARON.
You must ask him that question yourself.

AMELIA.
I have.

BARON.
And what did he say?

AMELIA.
Will you give me leave to tell you what he said?

BARON.
Certainly.

AMELIA.
And you won’t be angry?

BARON.
Undoubtedly not.

AMELIA.
Why, then—you know you commanded me never to disguise or conceal the
truth.

BARON.
I did so.

AMELIA.
Why, then he said——

BARON.
What did he say?

AMELIA.
He said—he would not marry me without your consent for the world.

BARON.
[_starting from his chair_]. And pray, how came this the subject of
your conversation?

AMELIA.
[_rising_]. _I_ brought it up.

BARON.
And what did you say?

AMELIA.
I said that birth and fortune were such old-fashioned things to me, I
cared nothing about either: and that I had once heard my father
declare, he should consult my happiness in marrying me, beyond any
other consideration.

BARON.
I will once more repeat to you my sentiments. It is the custom in this
country for the children of nobility to marry only with their equals;
but as my daughter’s content is more dear to me than an ancient custom,
I would bestow you on the first man I thought calculated to make you
happy: by this I do not mean to say that I should not be severely nice
in the character of the man to whom I gave you; and Mr. Anhalt, from
his obligations to me, and his high sense of honour, thinks too nobly—

AMELIA.
Would it not be noble to make the daughter of his benefactor happy?

BARON.
But when that daughter is a child, and thinks like a child——

AMELIA.
No, indeed, papa, I begin to think very like a woman. Ask _him_ if I
don’t.

BARON.
Ask him! You feel gratitude for the instructions you have received from
him, and fancy it love.

AMELIA.
Are there two gratitudes?

BARON.
What do you mean?

AMELIA.
Because I feel gratitude to you; but that is very unlike the gratitude
I feel towards him.

BARON.
Indeed!

AMELIA.
Yes; and then he feels another gratitude towards me. What’s that?

BARON.
Has he told you so?

AMELIA.
Yes.

BARON.
That was not right of him.

AMELIA.
Oh! if you did but know how I surprized him!

BARON.
Surprized him?

AMELIA.
He came to me by your command, to examine my heart respecting Count
Cassel. I told him that I would never marry the Count.

BARON.
But him?

AMELIA.
Yes, him.

BARON.
Very fine indeed! And what was his answer?

AMELIA.
He talked of my rank in life; of my aunts and cousins; of my
grandfather, and great-grandfather; of his duty to you; and endeavoured
to persuade me to think no more of him.

BARON.
He acted honestly.

AMELIA.
But not politely.

BARON.
No matter.

AMELIA.
Dear father! I shall never be able to love another—Never be happy with
any one else. [_Throwing herself on her knees_.]

BARON.
Rise, I command you.

[_As she rises, enter_ ANHALT.]


MR. ANHALT.
My Lord, forgive me! I have ventured, on the privilege of my office, as
a minister of holy charity, to bring the poor soldier, whom your
justice has arrested, into the adjoining room; and I presume to entreat
you will admit him to your presence, and hear his apology, or his
supplication.

BARON.
Anhalt, you have done wrong. I pity the unhappy boy; but you know I
cannot, must not forgive him.

MR. ANHALT.
I beseech you then, my Lord, to tell him so yourself. From your lips he
may receive his doom with resignation.

AMELIA.
Oh father! See him and take pity on him; his sorrows have made him
frantic.

BARON.
Leave the room, Amelia. [_on her attempting to speak, he raises his
voice_.] Instantly.—[_Exit_ Amelia.

MR. ANHALT.
He asked for a private audience: perhaps he has some confession to make
that may relieve his mind, and may be requisite for you to hear.

BARON.
Well, bring him in, and do you wait in the adjoining room, till our
conference is over. I must then, Sir, have a conference with you.

MR. ANHALT.
I shall obey your commands. [_He goes to door, and re-enters with_
Frederick. Anhalt _then retires at the same door_.]

BARON.
[_haughtily to_ Frederick]. I know, young man, you plead your mother’s
wants in excuse for an act of desperation: but powerful as this plea
might be in palliation of a fault, it cannot extenuate a crime like
yours.

FREDERICK.
I have a plea for my conduct even more powerful than a mother’s wants.

BARON.
What’s that?

FREDERICK.
My father’s cruelty.

BARON.
You have a father then?

FREDERICK.
I have, and a rich one—Nay, one that’s reputed virtuous, and
honourable. A great man, possessing estates and patronage in abundance;
much esteemed at court, and beloved by his tenants; kind, benevolent,
honest, generous—

BARON.
And with all those great qualities, abandons you?

FREDERICK.
He does, with all the qualities I mention.

BARON.
Your father may do right; a dissipated, desperate youth, whom kindness
cannot draw from vicious habits, severity may.

FREDERICK.
You are mistaken—My father does not discard me for my vices—He does not
know me—has never seen me—He abandoned me, even before I was born.

BARON.
What do you say?

FREDERICK.
The tears of my mother are all that I inherit from my father. Never has
he protected or supported me—never protected her.

BARON.
Why don’t you apply to his relations?

FREDERICK.
They disown me, too—I am, they say, related to no one—All the world
disclaim me, except my mother—and there again, I have to thank my
father.

BARON.
How so?

FREDERICK.
Because I am an illegitimate son.—My seduced mother has brought me up
in patient misery. Industry enabled her to give me an education; but
the days of my youth commenced with hardship, sorrow, and danger.—My
companions lived happy around me, and had a pleasing prospect in their
view, while bread and water only were my food, and no hopes joined to
sweeten it. But my father felt not that!

BARON.
[_to himself_]. He touches my heart.

FREDERICK.
After five years’ absence from my mother, I returned this very day, and
found her dying in the streets for want—Not even a hut to shelter her,
or a pallet of straw—But my father, he feels not that! He lives in a
palace, sleeps on the softest down, enjoys all the luxuries of the
great; and when he dies, a funeral sermon will praise his great
benevolence, his Christian charities.

BARON.
[_greatly agitated_]. What is your father’s name?

FREDERICK.
—He took advantage of an innocent young woman, gained her affection by
flattery and false promises; gave life to an unfortunate being, who was
on the point of murdering his father.

BARON.
[_shuddering_]. Who is he?

FREDERICK.
Baron Wildenhaim.

[_The_ Baron’s _emotion expresses the sense of amazement, guilt, shame,
and horror_.]


FREDERICK.
In this house did you rob my mother of her honour; and in this house I
am a sacrifice for the crime. I am your prisoner—I will not be free—I
am a robber—I give myself up.—You _shall_ deliver me into the hands of
justice—You shall accompany me to the spot of public execution. You
shall hear in vain the chaplain’s consolation and injunctions. You
shall find how I, in despair, will, to the last moment, call for
retribution on my father.

BARON.
Stop! Be pacified—

FREDERICK.
—And when you turn your head from my extended corse, you will behold my
weeping mother—Need I paint how her eyes will greet you?

BARON.
Desist—barbarian, savage, stop!

_Enter_ Anhalt _alarmed._


MR. ANHALT.
What do I hear? What is this? Young man, I hope you have not made a
second attempt.

FREDERICK.
Yes; I have done what it was your place to do. I have made a sinner
tremble [_points to the_ Baron _and exit_.]

MR. ANHALT.
What can this mean?—I do not comprehend—

BARON.
He is my son!—He is my son!—Go, Anhalt,—advise me—help me—Go to the
poor woman, his mother—He can show you the way—make haste—speed to
protect her—

MR. ANHALT.
But what am I to——

BARON.
Go.—Your heart will tell you how to act. [_Exit_ Anhalt.] [Baron
_distractedly_.] Who am I? What am I? Mad—raving—no—I have a son—A son!
The bravest—I will—I must—oh! [_with tenderness_.] Why have I not
embraced him yet? [_increasing his voice_.] why not pressed him to my
heart? Ah! see—[_looking after him_]—He flies from the castle—Who’s
there? Where are my attendants? [_Enter two servants_]. Follow
him—bring the prisoner back.—But observe my command—treat him with
respect—treat him as my son—and your master. [_Exit_.



ACT V.

SCENE I.

_Inside of the Cottage (as in Act II)._


AGATHA, COTTAGER, _and his_ WIFE _discovered_.


AGATHA.
Pray look and see if he is coming.

COTTAGER.
It is of no use. I have been in the road; have looked up and down; but
neither see nor hear any thing of him.

WIFE.
Have a little patience.

AGATHA.
I wish you would step out once more—I think he cannot be far off.

COTTAGER.
I will; I will go. [_Exit_.

WIFE.
If your son knew what heaven had sent you, he would be here very soon.

AGATHA.
I feel so anxious——

WIFE.
But why? I should think a purse of gold, such as you have received,
would make any body easy.

AGATHA.
Where can he be so long? He has been gone four hours. Some ill must
have befallen him.

WIFE.
It is still broad day-light—don’t think of any danger.—This evening we
must all be merry. I’ll prepare the supper. What a good gentleman our
Baron must be! I am sorry I ever spoke a word against him.

AGATHA.
How did he know I was here?

WIFE.
Heaven only can tell. The servant that brought the money was very
secret.

AGATHA.
[_to herself_]. I am astonished! I wonder! Oh! surely he has been
informed—Why else should he have sent so much money?

_Re-enter_ Cottager.


AGATHA.
Well!—not yet!

COTTAGER.
I might look till I am blind for him—but I saw our new Rector coming
along the road; he calls in sometimes. May be, he will this evening.

WIFE.
He is a very good gentleman; pays great attention to his parishioners;
and where he can assist the poor, he is always ready.

_Enter Mr._ ANHALT.


MR. ANHALT.
Good evening, friends.

BOTH.
Thank you, reverend Sir.

[_They both run to fetch him a chair_].


MR. ANHALT.
I thank you, good people—I see you have a stranger here.

COTTAGER.
Yes, your Reverence; it is a poor sick woman, whom I took in doors.

MR. ANHALT.
You will be rewarded for it. [_to_ Agatha.] May I beg leave to ask your
name?

AGATHA.
Ah! If we were alone——

MR. ANHALT.
Good neighbours, will you leave us alone for a few minutes? I have
something to say to this poor woman.

COTTAGER.
Wife, do you hear? Come along with me. [_Exeunt_ Cottager _and his_
Wife.]

MR. ANHALT.
Now——

AGATHA.
Before I tell you who I am, what I am, and what I was——I must beg to
ask—Are you of this country?

MR. ANHALT.
No—I was born in Alsace.

AGATHA.
Did you know the late rector personally, whom you have succeeded?

MR. ANHALT.
No.

AGATHA.
Then you are not acquainted with my narrative?

MR. ANHALT.
Should I find you to be the person whom I have long been in search of,
your history is not altogether unknown to me.

AGATHA.
“That you have been in search of!” Who gave you such a commission?

MR. ANHALT.
A man, who, if it so prove, is much concerned for your misfortunes.

AGATHA.
How? Oh, Sir! tell me quickly—Whom do you think to find in me?

MR. ANHALT.
Agatha Friburg.

AGATHA.
Yes, I am that unfortunate woman; and the man who pretends to take
concern in my misfortunes is——Baron Wildenhaim——he who betrayed me,
abandoned me and my child, and killed my parents.—He would now repair
our sufferings with this purse of gold. [_Takes out the purse_.]
Whatever may be your errand, Sir, whether to humble, or to protect me,
it is alike indifferent. I therefore request you to take this money to
him who sent it. Tell him, my honour has never been saleable. Tell him,
destitute as I am, even indigence will not tempt me to accept charity
from my seducer. He despised my heart—I despise his gold.—He has
trampled on me—I trample on his representative. [_Throws the purse on
the ground_.]

MR. ANHALT.
Be patient—I give you my word, that when the Baron sent this present to
an unfortunate woman, for whom her son had supplicated, he did not know
that woman was Agatha.

AGATHA.
My son? what of my son?

MR. ANHALT.
Do not be alarmed—The Baron met with an affectionate son, who begged
for his sick mother, and it affected him.

AGATHA.
Begged of the Baron! of his father!

MR. ANHALT.
Yes; but they did not know each other; and the mother received the
present on the son’s account.

AGATHA.
Did not know each other? Where is my son?

MR. ANHALT.
At the Castle.

AGATHA.
And still unknown?

MR. ANHALT.
Now he is known—an explanation has taken place;—and I am sent here by
the Baron, not to a stranger, but to Agatha Friburg—not with gold! his
commission was—“do what your heart directs you.”

AGATHA.
How is my Frederick? How did the Baron receive him?

MR. ANHALT.
I left him just in the moment the discovery was made. By this time your
son is, perhaps, in the arms of his father.

AGATHA.
Oh! is it possible that a man, who has been twenty years deaf to the
voice of nature, should change so suddenly?

MR. ANHALT.
I do not mean to justify the Baron, but—he has loved you—and fear of
his noble kindred alone caused his breach of faith to you.

AGATHA.
But to desert me wholly and wed another—

MR. ANHALT.
War called him away—Wounded in the field, he was taken to the adjacent
seat of a nobleman, whose only daughter, by anxious attention to his
recovery, won his gratitude; and, influenced by the will of his worldly
friends, he married. But no sooner was I received into the family, and
admitted to his confidence, than he related to me your story; and at
times would exclaim in anguish—“The proud imperious Baroness avenges
the wrongs of my deserted Agatha.” Again, when he presented me this
living, and I left France to take possession of it, his last words
before we parted, were—“The moment you arrive at Wildenhaim, make all
enquiries to find out my poor Agatha.” Every letter from him contained
“Still, still, no tidings of my Agatha.” And fate ordained it should be
so, till this fortunate day.

AGATHA.
What you have said has made my heart overflow—where will this end?

MR. ANHALT.
I know not yet the Baron’s intentions: but your sufferings demand
immediate remedy: and one way only is left—Come with me to the castle.
Do not start—you shall be concealed in my apartments till you are
called for.

AGATHA.
I go to the Baron’s?—No.

MR. ANHALT.
Go for the sake of your son—reflect, that his fortunes may depend upon
your presence.

AGATHA.
And he is the only branch on which my hope still blossoms: the rest are
withered.—I will forget my wrongs as a woman, if the Baron will atone
to the mother—he shall have the woman’s pardon, if he will merit the
mother’s thanks—[_after a struggle_]—I _will_ go to the castle—for the
sake of my Frederick, go even to his father. But where are my good host
and hostess, that I may take leave, and thank them for their kindness?

MR. ANHALT.
[taking up the purse which Agatha had thrown down]. Here, good friend!
Good woman!

_Enter the_ COTTAGER _and his_ WIFE.


WIFE.
Yes, yes, here I am.

MR. ANHALT.
Good people, I will take your guest with me. You have acted an honest
part, and therefore receive this reward for your trouble. [_He offers
the purse to the_ Cottager, _who puts it by, and turns away_].

MR. ANHALT.
[_to the_ Wife]. Do _you_ take it.

WIFE.
I always obey my pastor. [_taking it_].

AGATHA.
Good bye. [_shaking hands with the Cottagers_.] For your hospitality to
me, may ye enjoy continued happiness.

COTTAGER.
Fare you well—fare you well.

WIFE.
If you find friends and get health, we won’t trouble you to call on us
again: but if you should fall sick or be in poverty, we shall take it
very unkind if we don’t see you.

[_Exeunt_ Agatha _and_ Anhalt _on one side_, Cottager _and his_ Wife on
the other].



SCENE II.

_A Room in the Castle._


BARON _sitting upon a sopha_.—FREDERICK _standing near him, with one
hand pressed between his—the_ Baron _rises_.


BARON.
Been in battle too!—I am glad to hear it. You have known hard services,
but now they are over, and joy and happiness will succeed.—The reproach
of your birth shall be removed, for I will acknowledge you my son, and
heir to my estate.

FREDERICK.
And my mother——

BARON.
She shall live in peace and affluence. Do you think I would leave your
mother unprovided, unprotected? No! About a mile from this castle I
have an estate called Weldendorf—there she shall live, and call her own
whatever it produces. There she shall reign, and be sole mistress of
the little paradise. There her past sufferings shall be changed to
peace and tranquility. On a summer’s morning, we, my son, will ride to
visit her; pass a day, a week with her; and in this social intercourse
time will glide pleasantly.

FREDERICK.
And, pray, my Lord—under what name is my mother to live then?

BARON.
[_confused_]. How?

FREDERICK.
In what capacity?—As your domestic—or as——

BARON.
That we will settle afterwards.

FREDERICK.
Will you allow me, Sir, to leave the room a little while, that you may
have leisure to consider _now_?

BARON.
I do not know how to explain myself in respect to your mother more than
I have done already.

FREDERICK.
My fate, whatever it may be, shall never part me from her. This is my
firm resolution, upon which I call Heaven to witness! My Lord, it must
be Frederick of Wildenhaim, and Agatha of Wildenhaim—or Agatha Friburg,
and Frederick Friburg. [_Exit_.

BARON.
Young man! Frederick!—[_calling after him_.] Hasty indeed! would make
conditions with his father. No, no, that must not be. I just now
thought how well I had arranged my plans—had relieved my heart of every
burden, when, a second time, he throws a mountain upon it. Stop, friend
conscience, why do you take his part?—For twenty years thus you have
used me, and been my torture.

_Enter Mr_. ANHALT.


Ah! Anhalt, I am glad you are come. My conscience and myself are at
variance.

MR. ANHALT.
Your conscience is in the right.

BARON.
You don’t know yet what the quarrel is.

MR. ANHALT.
Conscience is always right—because it never speaks unless it _is_ so.

BARON.
Ay, a man of your order can more easily attend to its whispers, than an
old warrior. The sound of cannon has made him hard of hearing.—I have
found my son again, Mr. Anhalt, a fine, brave young man—I mean to make
him my heir—Am I in the right?

MR. ANHALT.
Perfectly.

BARON.
And his mother shall live in happiness—My estate, Weldendorf, shall be
hers—I’ll give it to her, and she shall make it her residence. Don’t I
do right?

MR. ANHALT.
No.

BARON.
[_surprized_]. No? And what else should I do?

MR. ANHALT.
[_forcibly_]. Marry her.

BARON.
[_starting_]. I marry her!

MR. ANHALT.
Baron Wildenhaim is a man who will not act inconsistently.—As this is
my opinion, I expect your reasons, if you do not.

BARON.
Would you have me marry a beggar?

MR. ANHALT.
[_after a pause_]. Is that your only objection?

BARON.
[_confused_]. I have more—many more.

MR. ANHALT.
May I beg to know them likewise?

BARON.
My birth!

MR. ANHALT.
Go on.

BARON.
My relations would despise me.

MR. ANHALT.
Go on.

BARON.
[_in anger_]. ’Sdeath! are not these reasons enough?—I know no other.

MR. ANHALT.
Now, then, it is my turn to state mine for the advice I have given you.
But first, I must presume to ask a few questions.—Did Agatha, through
artful insinuation, gain your affection? or did she give you cause to
suppose her inconstant?

BARON.
Neither—but for me, she was always virtuous and good.

MR. ANHALT.
Did it cost you trouble and earnest entreaty to make her otherwise?

BARON.
[_angrily_]. Yes.

MR. ANHALT.
You pledged your honour?

BARON.
[_confused_]. Yes.

MR. ANHALT.
Called God to witness?

BARON.
[_more confused_]. Yes.

MR. ANHALT.
The witness you called at that time was the Being who sees you now.
What you gave in pledge was your honour, which you must redeem.
Therefore thank Heaven that it is in your _power_ to redeem it. By
marrying Agatha the ransom’s made: and she brings a dower greater than
any princess can bestow—peace to your conscience. If you then esteem
the value of this portion, you will not hesitate a moment to
exclaim,—Friends, wish me joy, I will marry Agatha.

[_Baron, in great agitation, walks backwards and forwards, then takes_
Anhalt _by the hand_.]


BARON.
“Friend, wish me joy—I will _marry_ Agatha.”

MR. ANHALT.
I do wish you joy.

BARON.
Where is she?

MR. ANHALT.
In the castle—in my apartments here—I conducted her through the garden,
to avoid curiosity.

BARON.
Well, then, this is the wedding-day. This very evening you shall give
us your blessing.

MR. ANHALT.
Not so soon, not so private. The whole village was witness of Agatha’s
shame—the whole village must be witness of Agatha’s re-established
honour. Do you consent to this?

BARON.
I do.

MR. ANHALT.
Now the quarrel is decided. Now is your conscience quiet?

BARON.
As quiet as an infant’s. I only wish the first interview was over.

MR. ANHALT.
Compose yourself. Agatha’s heart is to be your judge.

_Enter_ AMELIA.


BARON.
Amelia, you have a brother.

AMELIA.
I have just heard so, my Lord; and rejoice to find the news confirmed
by you.

BARON.
I know, my dear Amelia, I can repay you for the loss of Count Cassel;
but what return can I make to you for the loss of half your fortune?

AMELIA.
My brother’s love will be ample recompense.

BARON.
I will reward you better. Mr. Anhalt, the battle I have just fought, I
owe to myself: the victory I gained, I owe to you. A man of your
principles, at once a teacher and an example of virtue, exalts his rank
in life to a level with the noblest family—and I shall be proud to
receive you as my son.

MR. ANHALT.
[_falling on his knees, and taking the_ Baron’s _hand_]. My Lord, you
overwhelm me with confusion, as well as with joy.

BARON.
My obligations to you are infinite—Amelia shall pay the debt. [_Gives
her to him_.]

AMELIA.
Oh, my dear father! [_embracing the_ Baron] what blessings have you
bestowed on me in one day. [_to_ Anhalt.] I will be your scholar still,
and use more diligence than ever to please my _master_.

MR. ANHALT.
His present happiness admits of no addition.

BARON.
Nor does mine—And yet there is another task to perform that will
require more fortitude, more courage, than this has done! A trial
that!—[_bursts into tears_]—I cannot prevent them—Let me—let me—A few
minutes will bring me to myself—Where is Agatha?

MR. ANHALT.
I will go, and fetch her. [_Exit Anhalt at an upper entrance_.]

BARON.
Stop! Let me first recover a little. [_Walks up and down, sighing
bitterly—looks at the door through which_ Anhalt _left the room_.] That
door she will come from—That was once the dressing-room of my
mother—From that door I have seen her come many times—have been
delighted with her lovely smiles—How shall I now behold her altered
looks! Frederick must be my mediator.—Where is he? Where is my son?—Now
I am ready—my heart is prepared to receive her—Haste! haste! Bring her
in.

[_He looks stedfastly at the door_—Anhalt _leads on_ Agatha—_The_ Baron
_runs and clasps her in his arms—Supported by him, she sinks on a chair
which_ Amelia _places in the middle of the stage—The_ Baron _kneels by
her side, holding her hand_.]


BARON.
Agatha, Agatha, do you know this voice?

AGATHA.
Wildenhaim.

BARON.
Can you forgive me?

AGATHA.
I forgive you. [_embracing him_].

FREDERICK.
[_as he enters_]. I hear the voice of my mother!—Ha! mother! father!

[Frederick _throws himself on his knees by the other side of his
mother—She clasps him in her arms_.—Amelia _is placed on the side of
her father attentively viewing_ Agatha—Anhalt _stands on the side of_
Frederick _with his hands gratefully raised to Heaven_.]——_The curtain
slowly drops_.


END.



EPILOGUE.

WRITTEN BY THOMAS PALMER, ESQ.
OF THE TEMPLE.

SPOKEN BY MR. MUNDEN.


Our drama now ended, I’ll take up your time
Just a moment or two in defence of my _rhime_—
* “Tho’ I hope that among you are _some_ who _admir’d_
“What I’ve hitherto said, dare I hope none are tir’d?
“But whether ye have, or have not heard enough,
“Or whether nice critics will think it all stuff;
“To myself _rhime_ has ever appear’d, I must own,
“In its nature a sort of _philosopher’s stone_;
“And if Chymists wou’d use it, they’d not make a pother,
“And puzzle their brains to find out any other.”
Indeed ’tis most strange and surprising to me
That all folks in _rhiming_ their int’rest can’t see;
For I’m sure if its use were quite common with men,
The world would roll on just as pleasant again.
“’Tis said, that while ORPHEUS was striking his lyre,
“Trees and brutes danc’d along to the sound of the wire;
“That AMPHION to walls soon converted the glebes,
“And they rose, as he sung, to a city call’d Thebes;
“I suppose _they_ were _Butlers_ (like me) of that time,
“And the tale shows our sires knew the wonders of _rhime_.”
From time immemorial, your lovers, we find,
When their mistresses’ hearts have been proud and unkind,
Have resorted to _rhime_; and indeed it appears
That a _rhime_ would do more than a bucket of tears.
Of love, from experience, I speak—odds my life!
I shall never forget how I courted my wife:
She had offers in plenty; but always stood neuter,
Till I, with my pen, started forth as a suitor;
Yet I made no mean present of _ribband_ or _bonnet_,
_My_ present was caught from the stars—’twas a _sonnet_.
“And now you know this, sure ’tis needless to say,
“That prose was neglected, and _rhime_ won the day—
“But its potent effects you as well may discover
“In the _husband_ and _wife_, as in _mistress_ and _lover_;
“There are some of ye here, who, like me, I conjecture.
“Have been lull’d into sleep by a good _curtain lecture_.
“But that’s a mere trifle; you’ll ne’er come to blows,
“If you’ll only avoid that dull enemy, _prose_.
“Adopt, then, my plan, and the very next time,
“That in words you fall out, let them fall into _rhime_;
“Thus your sharpest disputes will conclude very soon,
“And from jangling to jingling you’ll chime into _tune_.
“If my wife were to call me a _drunken old sot_,
“I shou’d merely just ask her, what Butler is not?
“And bid her take care that she don’t go to pot.
“So our squabbles continue a very short season,
“If she yields to my _rhime_—I allow she has reason.”
Independent of this I conceive _rhime_ has weight
In the higher employments of church and of state,
And would in my mind such advantages draw,
’Tis a pity that _rhime_ is not sanctioned by law;
“For ’twould _really_ be serving us all, to impose
“A capital fine on a man who spoke prose.”
Mark the pleader who clacks, in his client’s behalf,
His technical stuff for three hours and a half;
Or the fellow who tells you a long stupid story,
And over and over the same lays before ye;
Or the member who raves till the whole house are dosing
What d’ye say of such men? Why you say they are prosing.
So, of course, then, if _prose_ is so tedious a _crime_,
It of consequence follows, there’s _virtue_ in _rhime_.
The best piece of prose that I’ve heard a long while,
Is what gallant Nelson has sent from THE NILE.
And had he but told us the story in _rhime_,
What a thing ’twou’d be; but, perhaps, he’d no time.
So, I’ll do it myself—Oh! ’tis glorious news!
Nine _sail_ of the line! Just a ship for each Muse.
As I live, there’s an end of the French and their navy—
Sir John Warren has sent the Brest fleet to Old Davy.
’Tis in the Gazette, and that, every one knows,
Is sure to be truth, tho’ ’tis written in prose.

* The lines between inverted commas are not spoken.





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