Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

injured couple to his own favourite feared as a tyrant, has loved her niece Helene, and making him his passionately, and is forced to acheir.

knowledge that under a cold re

pelling exterior he is not devoid Scene 11.-Helene appears to

of noble qualities. wish her uncle a happy birthday. He tells her that Baron Georg Scene V.–Towards evening the von Thernstein is to arrive that Count and some of the guests day, and gets her to confess her depart on an excursion to some love for this young man whom he neighbouring ruin or view. Counthas chosen for her bridegroom. ess Sophie seizes the opportunity Some casual remarks, however, of begging old Hans to render her arouse in him the suspicion that two services : the first is to find Georg may be identical with the and restore to her the diary, which unknown lover in his wife Count- volume still contains a comproess Sophie's diary. He resolves mising letter of Georg's, hidden to watch her, and give her no warn- inside the binding, and not yet ing of the expected guest.

discovered by Dietrich ; the second

is to beg Georg to come to her at Scene 111.-His suspicions are once, before the others return. verified, for at sight of Georg She must warn him of the peril to Countess Sophie faints, and is car- both of them should he remain, ried to bed.

and entreats him to depart at

once.

-now

Scene IV. – An interview be. tween Count Dietrich and his Scene VI.—Between Sophie and wife. He tells her that he has Georg, who approaches her with read her diary, and knows Baron passionate declarations of love, Georg to be the man she loves. which she rejects; for while conLikewise that Georg's seeming at- fessing that she returns his affectentions to Helene had been merely tions, she tells him that she intends an excuse to obtain news of Sophie to be true to her husband. Sud

her aunt by marriage. denly Count Dietrich appears, havDietrich accuses his wife of perjury ing overheard the whole conversafor having wedded him with an- tion. He had (of course!) been other love in her heart. From her concealed behind a curtain all he learns that she had only given along. her hand under the mistaken belief that Georg was false to her; Scene VII. - Hans Friedinger and she learns that her father, meanwhile has been searching the whom she had always believed in Count's writing-table for the missas the embodiment of honour and ing diary. He does not find what nobility, had been nothing more he is looking for, but he finds than a notorious cardsharper, who something else — a little prayerhad been willing to sell his daugh- book once belonging to Hanna, ter's honour to the man who is his dead bride, and some letters

her husband, and that which reveal to him that the man Dietrich's generosity alone had who, thirty years previously, had made of her his wife instead of a seduced his sweetheart, and driven fallen and disgraced creature. She her to a remorseful suicide, was learns, too, that this husband, no other than his master, Count whom she has always hated and Dietrich.

VOL, CXLIX.-NO. DCCCCIII.

now

E

[ocr errors]

Scene VIII. Count Dietrich a promising young joiner apprensummons Georg to fight him with tice—is diligently plying the saw pistols for having stolen the heart and hammer. Not again within of his niece Helene under what he this century will the silvery crow considers to be false pretences, and of this gifted bird resound through assailed his wife's honour. Georg the Ammergau valley to arouse at first refuses to fight without the dormant conscience of the witnesses, but stung by the taunt faithless apostle. of cowardice, takes up the pistol But the echoes of the Passion which is forced upon him. He Play still linger in the air, and stands opposite Count Dietrich are being caught up and daily reyon Thernstein, as once his father produced in manifold ways. Many had done ; but before either has brushes are engaged in transferring had time to discharge his weapon,

to canvas the figures and scenery, a report is heard, and another many pens employed in fixing upon bullet, coming from a dark corner paper the impression of Ober-Amof the room, has pierced Count mergau. For the next twelvemonth Dietrich through the heart. It we may confidently expect to be is Hans Friedinger, who, crouch- flooded with Passion-Play pictures ing behind a screen, has killed his and statues, Passion - Play poems master, jealous lest another hand and stories. Some particularly than his own should accomplish wideawake writers have in fact the work of vengeance; and as anticipated this coming fashion, the curtain falls, he bends trium- more than one tale, whose scene is phantly over the expiring Count, laid at Ober - Ammergau, having and shouts in his ear that it is he, been issued even before the close Hans Friedinger, who has done of the Passion Play. the deed !

Decidedly the most remarkable

of these romances is a German The Passion - Play season is at novel entitled “Am Kreuz,' by an end; the drop - curtain of ice Wilhelmine von Hillern, a daughand snow has descended once more ter of the celebrated dramatist, over the lonely Bavarian valley; Madame Birch Pfeiffer, and heralong with the swallows have de- self an authoress of some repute, parted the swarms of English and who, having resided at Ammergau American tourists who for months for many years, might be supposed past had transformed the quiet to possess some knowledge of the village street into the semblance people she describes. Aware of of Broadway or Pall Mall. The these facts, and of the author's actors have all retired into private previous reputation, we took up life; apostles and Roman digni- the book with pleasant anticipataries meet of an evening in tions, which, however, have been friendly gossip over their Bier- grievously disappointed ; and alSchoppen. Kaiphas is engaged in though able to boast of a tolerselling salt at 12 pfennig per lb.; ably close acquaintance with reAnnas, the high priest, resuming cent French fiction, we do not the tailor's goose and scissors, is remember having laid down exercising his genius on flannel or novel with feelings of more unfustian; and the Scriptural cock, qualified disgust. Not even Zola's

1 Am Kreuz; Passions Roman aus Ober-Ammergau. Von Wilhelmine von Hillern. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Gesellschaft. 1890.

no

on

most repulsively realistic works, ous ecstasy, and from that moment not Tolstoi's 'Kreutzer Sonata,' their souls are irrevocably wedded have in like manner outraged our to each other. holiest instincts, as this astounding He of the glowing orbs and production of a clever and accom- lion's mane is other than plished lady. And the strangest Joseph Freyer, who plays the part of the matter is, that evi- part of Christ in the Passion dently the authoress is wholly drama; and

the impression unconscious of having transgressed caused by his first appearance is the ethics of religion or good taste. deepened and fixed in Countess Actuated by the noblest motives, Wildenau's heart, when two days she intended to write a moral later she beholds him the and edifying story, adorned by stage, crowned with thorns, and the sublimest sentiments; and she hanging naked on the cross. The honestly believes herself to have combination of his divine expresaccomplished this task.

sion and magnificent physique, of The main thread of the story, his melodious voice and splendid which occupies two thick volumes, muscles, have turned her head. is briefly told. Countess Maria She longs to kneel to him and Magdalena von Wildenau (she had adore him as a god, to throw herpurposely been christened Mag- self in his arms and embrace him dalena at her birth in order the

as a man; and being a woman of more perfectly to adapt her to the considerable ingenuity, she does part she has subsequently to enact both. Two days after the pertowards the Passion-Play hero) is formance we find Countess Maria a young widow who had been sold Magdalena von Wildenau in a as a girl to a wealthy old roué, little summer - house overgrown who in return had paid the with Virginian creepers, sitting on gambling debts of her spendthrift Joseph Freyer's knee, leaning her father. She has everything that world - weary head against his money can give, therefore finds breast, and relating or rather her life an aching void. Of super- confessing to him, with artless fastidiously refined nature, she is simplicity, all the sins and follies hysterically upset at sight of a of her past life (for it must be fly in her soup; has read Schopen- remarked that in order to comhauer, and has doubts about the plete the resemblance to her ilimmortality of the soul. Always lustrious prototype, we on the look-out for novel sensa- pressly informed that Countess tions and emotions to cure her Wildenau's youth has not been ennui, she comes to Ammergau, spotless). accompanied by her rich and dis- A fragment of this interesting tinguished suitor, the hereditary scene may here find place. prince of Metten-Barnheim. This

“Maria Magdalena !'he repeated, time she finds what she seeks, for while his eye rested on her in deep even before reaching the place her emotion, as she stood there before fate is sealed. Outside the village, him, she the hitherto proud woman, near a wayside cross, she has met now humble, still, and submissive, a tall imposing figure with glow- like the penitent before the Lord. ing orbs, and sable locks falling stretched out his arms. Magdalena !'

Then overcome by his feelings, he in rank profusion over his shoul- he cried ; 'my Magdalena ! ders. Their eyes meet for one "My Lord and my Saviour !' she brief moment in a kind of deliri- sobbed, casting herself on his heart.

are

ex

He enfolded her with a gesture of famous “She” of Mr Haggard's divine love.

novel. "O God ! like a sacred dove has she flown hither to nestle on my heart: happy couple with unabated fury;

The storm rages all around the Poor dove, I will hide and protect the earth trembles beneath their thee from each rough wind, from every touch of the cruel world. Build feet; trees are shattered or upthy nest on my heart; here shalt rooted; mountain-torrents are unthou find rest in the peace of God,' chained, and metaphors run wild. and he presses her head against his Jupiter and Semele, Christ and heart. How art thou trembling, my Magdalen, Loreley, the Titans, dove! May I call thee so ?'

and the Asra of Heine's poem, ""Oh, eternally!' “« Art thou weary from thy long

are all pressed into service in order flight ? Poor dove,' ' &c.

to adorn this supreme moment,

not forgetting, of course, the weary And so on for another blasphe- dove, besides a pair of veritable mous page or two, while the wood-pigeons, who laugh in the simile of the weary dove is rid- branches overhead, as well they den to death, as only a German may, at the rhapsodies of this author knows how to ride it. preposterous couple. Let not the English reader, how- Freyer asks the Countess whether ever, suppose this to be the real she is not afraid of the heat of his love - scene in the book, for that passion ?-of the feelings which she would be doing gross injustice to herself has unchained in him ? Madame Hillern's imagination. She has far stronger effects in re- “I afraid of thee !' cries out the serve, and this fondling of the proud woman, ecstatically; oh, that weary dove in the summer-house is great ! that is like breath of the is but a sort of light skirmishing

gods ! How should I fear in the

midst of this element that I have to pave

the
way
to the real declara-

dreamt of and longed for, -of which tion, which takes place a little later

I have long been conscious in my on a hill-top and in the midst of

own heart? Does the flame fear thie a burning forest, when he of the fire ? the Titaness the Titan ? Ah, sable mane carries her triumph- now thy lightning, Jove ! Hurl it antly, and apparently without the down, and let the forest flare up to slightest effort, through whole celebrate the victory of long-enslaved tracks of burning wood to a place

but now released nature !'

“le sinks down near her, and his of safety. Charred trunks are fall

glowing breath fans her cheek. ing to either side of them, sparks “So wilt thou take me? wilt rain thickly down, and leaping thou give me now the kiss whiclı toflames surround them, like huge day I dared not take?' bridal torches; yet hotter than fire

Yes.' and flames are Freyer's words and

“But then it will be a bridal

kiss ?' glances, and when the authoress

"“Yes.' speaks of “ red - hot glow” and “He stretched out his arms, and,

fiery breath,” we are in doubt as like a sable moth settling upon an to whether Countess Wildenau

ethereal tea-rose, hovering over the has been singed by falling sparks dewy chalice, he bowed his head toor scorched by her lover's kisses.

wards her — a heavy shadow — and She feels quite comfortable, how pressed the first kiss on the trembling

lips of the Countess. ever, in this doubly caloric atmo

“But such moments challenge the sphere, and comports herself like a

ire of the gods, and Jupiter lovers sort of idealised salamander, or the over the pair in brooding passion,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

for he grudges this beautiful woman first in a fool's paradise. Freyer to the Christian son of man. He has passes for an overseer of the Counheard how she has laughingly invoked him in her divine ecstasy, and at his tess, and the boy is given out to

be the child of a servant-Josepha bidding the sky grows dark, the wind's bride saddles the storm-horses, Freyer, a niece of Freyer's, and the and there gleanıs again the fire from former personator of Magdalen in heaven. A shrill cry resounds through the Passion Play, but who had the air, the highest forest-tree is cleft been excluded from the drama bein twain and flares up on high- cause of a lapse of virtue. bridal torch which Jupiter himself Reaction soon sets in. The has lighted for the couple. “The gods forbid it,' said Freyer,

Countess makes the discovery that yloomily."

her peasant spouse

is no fit mate

for her. Gradually she resumes How and where this peasant of her place in the fashionable world, Ober-Ammergau had acquired his coming only at rare intervals to mythological knowledge, so as to the lonely castle to visit in secret be thus familiar with heathen gods, the husband and child she dare the authoress does not condescend not acknowledge. The child pines to explain.

away and dies for want of a The result of this thunder-and- mother's love; and Freyer, wounded lightning scene is that Freyer and grieved at the repeated slights elopes with Countess Wildenau, and humiliations showered upon without any further interference him by his disdainful beautiful wife, from Jupiter, whose bark is appar- grows melancholy and taciturn. ently worse than his bite. Though Countess Wildenau renews inimmensely rich, the Countess by tercourse with her former suitor, her late husband's will is con- the Prince of Metten-Barnheim, demned to lose her fortune if she who, now become duke by his marries again. She therefore per- father's abdication, easily persuades Freyer to a private mar- suades her of the illegality of her riage. À la Promessi Sposi, they marriage with Freyer, and though surprise a village priest over his well acquainted with all the demorning coffee, and the knot is tails of her past and present histied. Great scandal is caused tory, asks her to become his own among the Ammergauers on learn- wife, and the reigning duchess of ing that their Christ has run away his principality. with this new Magdalen; and the Freyer, dismissed as a useless Passion Play, for want of an actor actor whose art is played out, to take the Saviour's part, can be wanders back on foot to Ammerplayed no more that summer. gau, begging his way step by step.

Meanwhile the happy couple Too proud to accept a farthing of has taken a wedding-trip to the his wife's money, he has restored Holy Land, where at Jerusalem to her their marriage certificate, in the Countess gives birth to a son order that by destroying it she who has the eyes and features of may be free to contract another the divine infant in Raphael's union. It is now ten years since painting of the Sixtine Madonna. he eloped with the Countess, and Together with their child they he feels that he owes a reparation return to Bavaria, and settle down to his native village, the more so in a remote hunting-seat of the as it is rumoured that this year Wildenau family, where, far from the Passion Play cannot be perthe busy hum of men, they live at formed for want of a Christ.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »