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 horsedoctor. 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--leave my mother in your care, good people--Do all you can for her, I beseech you! I shall soon he 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 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, good Baron is still the same as when a boy. Soon after Madam had closed her eyes, he left France, and came to Wildenhaim, 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 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.
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.]
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?
Baron: Amelia, you know you have a father who loves you, and I believe you know you have a suitor who 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?
Baron: No--I am sorry for that. aside] Have you dreamt of him?
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 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?
Baron: Don't you wish sometimes to speak to him, and have not the courage to begin?
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. collecting herself.]
Baron: Ah I 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 duetteo 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, nor 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.
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?
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 of 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.
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 man 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 a mother?
Enter Mr. Anhalt.
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.
Anhalt [much concerned]: Really!
Baron: He is--he--in a word I don't like him.
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.
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.
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.
Anhalt: I will.--But--I--Miss Wildenhaim--[confused]. 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?
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.
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.