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SCENE I.—The Skirts of Count Wintersen's Park. 77tt park-gates in the ventre. On one side, a low lodge among the trees; on the other, in the background, a peasant's hut.
Enter PETER Peter. Pooh, pooh! never tell me; I'm a clever lad, for all father's crying out every minute, "Peter," and "Stupid Peter!'' But I say Peter is not stupid, though father will always be So wise. First, I talk too much; then I ta!k too little; andif I talk a bit to myself, he calls me a driveller. Now I like best to talk to myself; for I never contradict myself, and I don't laugh at myself as other folks do. That laughing is often a plaguy teasing custom. To be sure, when Mrs. Haller laughs, one can bear it well enough; there is a sweetness even in her reproof, that somehow—but, lud! I had near torgot what I was sent about. Yes, then they
No. 5.—Th* British Drama.
would have laughed at me, indeed. (Draws a green purse fi'om his pocket.) I am to carry this money to old Tohias; and Mrs. Haller said I must be sure not to blah, or say that she had sent it. Well, well, she may bo easy for that matter; not a word shall drop from my lips. Mrs. Haller is charming, but silly, if father is right; for father says, "He that spends his money is not wise, but he that gives it away is stark mad.**
Enter the STRANGER from the lodge, followed by FRANCIS. Al sight of Peter the Stranger stops, and looks suspiciously at him. Peter stands opposite to him with his mouth wide open. Al length, he takes off hit hat, scrapes a bow, and goes into tlie hut.
Stra. Who is that?
Stra. (After a pause.) You were—you were speaking last night— Fra. Of the old counlrvman? Stra. Ay.
Fra. You would not hear me out
Stra. (With acrimovy.) Ay, ay; lie knows bow to
Fra. A feeling (ool is better than a cold sceptic .
Fra. Charity begets gratitude.
Fra. And Wesse* tbe giver more than the receiver. Stra. Trne.
Fra. Well, sir. This countryman—
Stra. He who is really unhappy never complains. (Pauses.} Francis, you have had raeana of education beyond your lot in life, and hence you are encouraged to attempt imposing on nie: but go
Fra. Bis only son hat been taken from him.
Fra. By the exigency of the times lor a soldier.
Fra. Tble old man is poo^
Fra. By money. He may buy his son's release.
Stra. But if he is an impostor?
Fra. In that hut (Stranger aois into the hut.) A good master, though ouo almost loses the use of ?peech by living with hitu. A man kind and clear; though I cannot understand him. He rails against the whole world, and yet no beggar leaves his door unsatisfied. I have now lived three years with him, and yet I know not who he is. A hater of society, no doubt; but not by Providence intended to be so. Misanthropy in his bead, tot in bis heart.
Fnta- the STRANGER- and PETER from the hut.
FiUr. Pray, walk on.
Slra. (To Francis.) Fool!
Fra. So soon returned!
Lira. What sheuld I do there?
Fra. Did you find it as I said?
Stra. This lad I found. i
Fra. What !ms he to do with your charity?
Slra. The old man and he understand each other perfectly woft.
Stra. What wero this toy an l the countryman
Fra, (Smiting, and sliah'ng his head.) Veil, you ?hi.li hear. (To Peter.) Young man, what were you doing in that hut?
Pettr. Doing! Nothing.
Fra. Well, but you wouldn't go there for nothing.
Peter. And why not, pray? But I did go there
for nothing, though. Do you think one rrust be paid for everything? [f Mrs. Haller were to give mo bst a tmilicg look, I'd jump up to my neck in
the great pond for nothing.
P.lir. How should I know? "Look you!" pays Mrs. Haller, - Master Peter, be so good as not to mention it to anybody." (With much constqneziet.) "Master Peter, be so good."—Hi hi, hi! "AIustee Peter, be so"—Hi, hi, hi! Fra. Oh! that is quite a different thing. Of 'then.
so I am, too. For I \ you're not to think BKWiey; for I shall not * live," says I.
It was T be somo
t in the
at since, I carried
give any thing fvn the
mJc you? Father's Ba^rs it is our bounden duty. > care ot Oot money, and not y, especially in summer; f- r
en, he says, thi conscience to sath poor. But I say fi right.
Fra. Yes, yes. But thia Mrs. Hallef seems a strange woman, Peter.
Pettr. Ay, at limes, she is plagiry odd. Why, she'l i sitand cry you a whole day through, wither.! any one's knowing why. Ay, and yet, somehow t :other, whenever she cries, i always cry too, without knowing why.
Fra. (To the Stranger.) Are you satisfied?
Slra. Rii me of that babbler.
Fra. Good day. Master Peter.
Peter. You're not going yet, are you?
Fra. Mrs. Haller will bo waiting for an answer.
Peter. So she will. And I have another place ot two to call at [Takes off his hat to the Strargcr.) Servant, sir.
Peter. Psha! What, he's angry? (Peter turns to Francis in a half whisper.) He's angry, I suppose, because he can get nothing out of me.
Fra, It almost seems So.
Pettr. Ay, I'd have him to know that I'm no blab. (Ezit. Fra. Now, sir. Stra. What ilo you want? Fra. Were you not wrong, sir? Stra, Hem! Wrong! Fra. Can you still doubt?
Stra. I'll hear no more! Who is this Mrs Haller? Why do 1 always follow her path? Go whero I will, whenever 1 try to do good, she has always been there before rne.
Fra. You should rejoice at that
Fra. Surely! That there are other good and ubaritable people in the world beside yourself. Stra. Oh, yes!
Fra. Why not seek to be acquaint d with her.
I saw her yesterday in the garden up at the castle. Mr. Solomon, the steward, says she has been unwell, and confined to her room almost ever since we have been here. But one would not think it to look at her; for a more beautiful creature I never saw.
Stra. So much the worse. Beauty is a mask. Fra. In her it seems a mirror of the soul. Her charities—
Stra. Talk not to me of her charities. All women fi'ish to be conspicuous: in town by their wit; in the country by their heart.
Fra. 'Tis immaterial in what way good is done.
jStra. No; 'tis not immaterial.
Fra. To this poor old man, at least.
Stra. He needs no assistance of mine.
Fra. His most urgent wants, indeed, Mrs. Haller has relieved; but whether she has or could have given as much as would purchase liberty for the son, the prop of his age—
Stra. Silence! I will not give him a doit! (In a peeeish tone.) You interest yourself very warmly in his behalf. Perhaps you are to be a sharer in the gift.
Fra. Sir, sir, that did not come from your heart..
Stra. (Recol ecting himsctj:) Forgive me!
Fra. Poor master! How must the world have used you before it could have instilled this hatred of mankind, this constant doubt of honesty and virtne!
Stra. Leave me to myself. (Tkrotes himself on a seat; takes a book from his pocket, and read*.)
Fra. (Aside, surveying him.) Again reading! Thus it is from morn to night. To him nature has no beauty; life no charm. For three years I have never seen him smile. What will be his fate at last? Nothing diverts him. Oh! if he would but attach himself to any living thing! were it an animal—for something man must love.
Enter TOBIAS from the hut.
Tob. Oh! how refreshing, after seven long weeks, to feel these warm sunbeams once again! Thanks, thanks, bounteous heaven! for the joy I taste. (Presses his cap between his hands, looks tip, andprays. i The Stranger observes him attentively.)
Fra. (To the Stranger.) This old man's share of earthly happiness can be but little; yet mark bow grateful be is for his portion of it
Stra. Because, though old, he is but a child in the leading-strings of Hope.
Fra. Hope is the nurse of life.
Stra. And her cradle is the grave. (Tobias replaees his cap.)
Fra. I wish you joy. I am glad to see you are so much recovered,
Tob. Thank you! Heaven and the assistance of a kind lady have saved me for another year or two.
Fra. How old are you, pray?
Tob. Seventy-six . To be sure I can expect but little joy before I die. Yet, there is another and a better world.
Fra. To the unfortunate, then, death is scarcely an evil?
Tob. Am I so unfortunate? Do I not enjoy this glorious morning? Am I not in health again? Believe me, sir, he who, leaving the bed of sickness, for the first time breathes the fresh pure air, is, at that moment, the happiest of his Maker's creatures.
Fra. Yet 'tis a happiness that fails upon enjoyment.
Tob. Trne; but less so in old age. Some fifty years ago my father left me this cottage. I was a
strong lad; and took an honest wife. Heaven blessed my farm with rich crops, and my marriage with five children. 'I his lasted nine or ten years. Two of my children died. 1 lelt it sorely. The land was affiicted with a famine. My wife assisted^ me in supporting our family: but four years after, she left our dwelling for a better place; and of my five children only one sonromained. This was blow upon blow. It was long before I regained my fortitude. At length resignation and religion had their effect I again attached myself to life. My son grew, and helped me in my work. Now the state fcas called him away to bear a musket. This is to me a loss, indeed. I can work no-more. I am old and weak; and trne it is, but for Mrs. Haller, I must have perished.
Fra. Still, then, life has its charms for you?
Tob. Why not, while the world holds anylhh.g that's dear to me? Have not I a son?
Fra. Who knows that you will ever see him more? He may be dead. 9
Tob. Alas! be may. But as long as I am not sure of it, he lives to me: and if he falls, 'tis in hid country's cause. Nay, should I Lose him, still I should not wish to die. Here is the but in which I was born. Here is the tree that grew with me; and, 1 am almost ashamed to confess it—I have a dog I love.
Fra. A dog!
Tob. Yes! Smile if you please: hut hear me. My benefactress once came to my hut herself, some time before you fixed here. The poor animal, unused to see the form of elegance and beauty enter the door of penury, growled at her. "I wonder you keep that surly, ugly animal, Mr. Tobias," said she ,- "you, who have hardly food enough for yourself." "Ah! madam," I replied, "if I part with him, are you ?ure that anything else will love me?" She was pleased with my answer.
Fra. (To the Stranger.) Excuseme, sir; butl wish you had listened.
Stra. I have listened.
Fra. Then, sir, I wish you would follow this poor old man's example.
Stra. (Pauses.) Here, take this book, and lay it on my desk. [Fraiicis goes into the lodge with the book.) How much has this Mrs. Haller given you?
Tob. Oh! sir, she has given me So much that I can look towards winter without fear.
Stra. No more?
Tob. What could I do with more? Ah! trne; I might—
Stra. I know it. You might buy your son's release. There!
[Presses a purse into his hand and exit Tob. What is all this? (Opens the purse, and finds it full of gold.) Merciful heaven!
Enter FRANCIS. Now, look, sir; is confidence in heaven unrewarded?
Fra. I wish you joy! My master gave you this? Tob. Yes, your noble master. Heaven reward him!
Fra. Just like him. Hejsent me with his book, that no one might he witness to his bounty.
Tob. He would not even take my thanks. He was gone before I could speak.
Fra. Just his way.
Tob. Now I'll go as quick as these old legs will bear me. What a delightful errand! I go to release my Robert! How the lad will rejoice! There is a girl, too, in the village, that will rejoice with him. Oh! Providence, how good art thou! Years of distress never can efface the recollection of former happiness; but one joyful moment drives from the memory an age of misery. [Exit.
Fra. (Looks after him.) Why am I not wealthy? 'Sdeath! why am I not a prince? I never thought myself envious; but I feel I am. Yes, I must envy those who, with the will, have the power to do good. [Exit.
SCENE II.—An Ante-chamber in Wintersen Castle. Enter SUSAN, meeting Footman with table and chairs.
Susan. Why, George, Harry! where have you been loitering? Put down these things. Mrs. Ealler faas been calling for you this half-hour.
Foot. Well, here I am, then. What does she want with me?
Susan. That she will tell you herself. Here she coines.
Enter MRS. HALLER with a letter, a Maid following.
Mrs. If. Very well; if those things are done, let the drawing-room be made ready immediately. [Exeunt Maids.] And, George, run immediately into the park, and tell Mr. Solomon I wish to speak with him. [Exit Footman.] I cannot understand this. I do not learn whether their coming to this place be but the whim of a moment, or a plan for a longer stay: if the latter, farewell, solitude! farewell, study!—farewell! Yes, I must make room for gaiety and mere frivolity. Yet could I willingly submit to all; but should the Countess give me new proofs of her attachment, perhaps of her respect, oh! how will my conscience uphraid mc! Or—I shadder at the thought!—if this seat be visited by company, and chance should conduct hither any of my former acquaintances!—Alas, alas! how wre'ehed is the being who fears the sight of any one fellow-creature! But, oh! superior misery! to dread still more the presence of a former friend! Who's there?
Peter. Nobody. It's only me.
Mrs. H. So soon returned?
Peter. Sharp lad, a'n't I? On the road I've had a bit of talk, too; and—
Mrs. H. But you have observed my directions?
Peter. Oh! yes, yes. I told old Tohias as how he would never know, as long as he lived, that the money came from you.
Mrs. H. Yoa found him quite recovered, I hope?
Peter. Ay, sure, did I. He's coming out to-day for the first time.
Mrs. H. I rejoice to hear it.
Peter. He said that he was obliged to you for all; and, before dinner, would crawl up to thank you.
Mrs. H. Good Peter, do me another service.
Peter. Ay, a hundred, if you'll only let me have a good long stare at you.
Mrs. H. With all my heart. Ohserve when old Tohias comes, and send him away. Tell him I am busy, or asleep, or unwell, or what you please.
Peter. I will, I will.
Sol. (Without.) There, there, go to the post-office.
Mrs. H. Oh! here comes Mr. Solomon.
Peter. What, father? Ay, so there is. Father's a main clever man: he knows what's going on all over the world.
Mrs. H. No wonder; for you knew lie receives an many letters as a prime minister and all his fcccrttaries.
Enter SOLOMON. So'. Good morning, good morning, to you, Mrs.
Haller. It gives me infinite pleasure to see you look so charmingly well. You have had the goodness to send for your humble servant Any news from the great city? There are very weighty mattern in agitation. I have my letters, too.
Mrs. II. (Smiling.) I think, Mr. Solomon, you must correspond with the four quarters of the globe.
Sol. Beg pardon, not with the whole world, Mrs. Haller; but (conseqnentially) to be sure, I have correspondents, on whom I can rely, in the chief cities of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.
Mrs. H. And yet I have my doubts whether you know what is to happen this very day, at this very place.
Sol. At this very place t Nothing material We meant to have sown a little barley to-day, but the ground is too dry; and the sheep-shearing is not to be till to-morrow.
Peter. No, nor the bull-baiting till—
Sol Hold your tongne, blockhead! Get about your business.
Peter. Blockhead! Thereagain! I suppose I'm not to open my mouth. (To Mrs. H.) Good-bye!
Mrs. H. The Count will be here to-day.
Mrs. H. With his lady, and His brother-in-law, Baron Steinfort.
Sol. My letters say nothing of this. You are laughing at your humble servant.
Mrs. H. You know, sir, I'm not inuch given to jesting.
Sol. Peter! Good lack-a-day! His right honourable excellency Count Wintersen, and her right honourable excellency the Countess Wintersen, and his honourable lordship Baron Steinfort—and. Lord have mercy! nothing in proper order! Here, Peter, Peter I
Peter. Well, now, what's the matter again?
Sol. Call all the house together directly! Send to the gamekeeper, tell him to bring some venison. Tell Rebecca to uncase the furniture, and take the covering from the Venetian looking-glasses, that her right honourable ladyship the Countess may look at her gracious countenance: and tell the cook to let me see him without loss of time: and tell John to catch a brace or two of carp. And tell —and tell—and tell—tell Frederick to fria my Sunday wig. Mercy on us! Tell—there, go! [Exit Peter.} Heavens and earth! so little of the new furnishing of this old castle is completed! Where are we to put his honourable lordship the Baron?
Mrs. H. Let him have the little chamber at the head of the stairs; itisaneat room, and commands a beautiful prospect
Sol. Very right, very right But that room has always been occupied by the Count's private secretary. Suppose—hold! I have it You know the little lodge at the end of the park: we can thrust the secretary into that
Mrs. H. You forget, Mr. Solomon; you told me that the Stranger lived there.
Sol Psha! What have we to do with the Stranger? Who told him to live there? He must turn out.
Mrs. H. That would be unjust; for you said that you let the dwelling to him; and, by your own account, he pays well for it t
Sol. He does, he does. But nobody knows who I he is. Tho devil himself can't make him out To be sure, I lately receiveda letter from Spain, which
Informed me thai a spy had taken up his abode in this country, at d from the description—
Mrs. H. A spy! Ridiculous! Everything I have heard bespeaks him to be a man, who may be allowed to dwell anywhere. His life is solitude and silence.
Sol. So it is.
Mrs. H. You tell me, too, he does much good.
Sol. That he does.
Mrs. H. He troubles no one.
Sol. Trne, trne!
Mrs. H. 'Well, what do you want more?
Sol. I want to know who he is. If the man would only converse a little, one might have an opportunity of pumping; but if one meets him in the limewalk, or by the river, it is nothing but "Good morrow;" and off he marches. Once or twice I have contrived to edge in a word: "Fine day." "Yes." -' Taking a little exercise, I perceive." "Yes;" and off again like a shot The devil takss such close fellows, say I. And, like master like man; not a syllable do I know of that mumps his servant, except that his name is Francis.
Mrs. H. You are putting yourself into a passion, and quite forget who are expected.
Sol. So I do. Mercy on us! There now, you see what misfortunes arise from not knowing people.
Mrs. H. 'Tis near twelve o'elock already! If his lordship has stolen an hour from his usual sleep, the family must soon be here. I go to my duty; you will attend to yours, Mr. Solomon. [Exit.
Sol. Yes, I'll look after my duty, never fear. There goes another of the same class. Nobody knows who she is again. However, this much I do know of her, that her right honourable ladyship, the Countess, all at once, popped her into the house, like a blot of ink upon a sheet of paper. But why, wherefore, or for what reason, not a soul can tell. "She is to manage the family within doors." She is to manage! Fire and faggots I Haven't I managed everything, within and without, most reputably, these twenty years? I must own I grow a little old, and she does take a deal of pains; but all this she learned of me. When she first came here—mercy on us!—she didn't know that linen was made of fiax. But what was to bo expected from one who has no foreign correspondence? [Exit.
SCENE I.—A Drawing-room in the cattle.
Sol. Well, for once, I think I have the advantage of Madam Haller. Such a dance have I provided to welcome their excellencies, and she quite out of the secret! and such a horupipe by the little brunette! I'll have a rehearsal first, though, and then surprise their honours after dinner. (Flourish oj rural music withont.)
Peter. (Without.) Stop; not yet, not yet; but make way there, make away, my good friends, tenants, and villagers. John, George, Frederick! Good friends, make way.
Sol. It is not the Count: it's only Baron Steinfort. Stand back, I say: and stop the music. Enter BARON SIEINFORT, ushered in by PETER
and footmen. Peter mimicks and apes his father. I have the honour to introduce to your lordship myself, Mr. Solomon, who blesses the hour in which fortune allows blm to become acquainted with the honourable Baron Steinfort, brother-in-law of his
right honourable excellency Count Wintersen, my noble master.
Peter. Bless our noble master!
Baron S. Old and young, I see, they'll allow me no peace. (Aside) Enough, enough, good Mr. Solomon. I am a soldier: I pay but few compliments, and require as few from others.
Sol. I beg, my lord—We do live in the country, to be sure, but we are acquainted with the revereu ca dne to exalted personages.
Peter. Yes; we are acquainted with exalted personages.
Baron. S. What is to become of me? (Aside.) Well, well, I hope we shall be better acquainted. You must know, Mr. Solomon, I intend to assist, for a couple of months, at least, in attacking the well-stocked cellars of Wintersen.
Sol. Why not whole years, my lord? Inexpressible would be the satisfaction of your humblo servant, and though I say it, well-stocked, indeed, are our cellars. I have, in every respect, here managed mattersjin so frugal and provident a way, that his right honourable excellency the Count will be astonished. (Baron S. gawns.) Extremely sorry it is not in my power to entertain your lordship.
Peter. Extremely sorry.
Sol. Where can Mrs. Haller have hid herself? Baron S. Mrs. Haller! who is she? Sol. Why, who she is, 1 can't exactly tell your lordship. Peter. No, nor I.
Sol. None of my correspondents give any account 'of her. She is here in the capacity of a kind of a superior housekeeper. Methinks 1 hear her silver voice upon the stairs. I will have the honour of sending her to your lordship in an instant
Baron S. Oh! don't trouble yourself.
Sol. No trouble whatever. I remain, at all times, your honourable lordship's most obedient, humble, and devoted servant. [Exit, bowing.
Pettr. Devoted servant. [Exit, bow ng.
Baron S. Now for a fresh plagne. Now am I to bo tormented by some chattering, old, ugly, hag, till I am stunned with her noise and officious hospitality. Oh^ patience, what a virtne art thou! Enter MRS. HALLER, with a kearning courtesy. Baron S. rises, and ceturns a bow in ceafusion.
(Aside.) No, old she is not Casts another glanee at her. No, by Jove! nor ugly.
Mrs. H. I rejoice, my lord, in thus becoming acquainted with the brother of my benefactress.
Baron S. Madam, that title shall be doubly valuable to me, since it gives me an introduction equally to be rejoiced at.
Mrs. H.(Without attending to the compliment.) This lovely weather, then, has enticed the Count from the city.
Baron S. Not exactly that. You know him. Sunshine or clouds are to him alike, as long as eternal summer reignS in his own heart and family.
Mrs. H. The Count possesses a most cheerful and amiable philosophy. Ever in the same happy humour; ever enjoying each minute of his life. But you must confess, my lord, that he is a favourite child of fortune, and has much to be grateful to her for. Not merely because the has given him hirth and riches, but for a native sweetness of temper, never to be acquired; and a graceful suavity of manners, whose school must be the mind. And, need I enumerate among fortune'* favours, the hand and affections of your accomplished sister?
Baron. S. Trne, madam; my good easy brother