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Full text of "Five Russian plays, with one from the Ukrainian"

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FIVE RUSSIAN PLAYS 
WITH ONE FROM THE UKRAINIAN 




^ ■ ^J^^"^. 



Nicholas Eyreinov. 

From a Portrait by N. Kulbin. 



FIVE RUSSIAN PLAYS 

WITH ONE FROM THE 
UKRAINIAN 



TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINALS 
WITH AN INTRODUCTION 



C. E. BECHHOFER /f^ierf^- 



LONDON 

KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LTD. 

BROADWAY HOUSE, 68-74 CARTER LANE 

1916 



3^>1M 






KM3 



i.Z 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Translator's Introduction . . . ix 

I. A Merry Death, a Harlequinade, by 

Nicholas Evreinov . . . . i 

II. The Beautiful Despot, the Last Act of 

a Drama, by Nicholas Evreinov . . 35 

III. The Choice of a Tutor, by Denis von 

ViziN 79 

IV. The Wedding, by Anton Chehov . .101 

V. The Jubilee, by Anton Chehov . .127 

VI. The Babylonian Captivity, by Lesya 

Ukrainka 153 



34-^^^^'^ 



INTRODUCTION 

THE plays selected for translation in this 
volume are, for the most part, modern. 
Von Vizin alone belongs to an earlier date, that of 
the late eighteenth century. Nevertheless it will 
be found that they have this in common : they are, 
while still Russian, at the same time European. 
This separation of artists into two categories, the 
national and the European, is quite simple of com- 
prehension. The national author, often the favourite 
in his own country and one who has strengthened 
and enriched its language to a great degree, is 
nevertheless hardly to be appreciated in translation 
by readers of other European countries. Lomonosov, 
the '' father of the Russian language,'' poet, pane- 
gyrist and critic, is an example ; so is Dr. Johnson. 
But a European artist can be appreciated by any 
foreign reader in an adequate translation, that is, a 
translation approximating to what the author 
would have written in that language. 



INTRODUCTION 



von Vizin, the first real Russian dramatist, comes 
in the rank of European artists. He is in everything 
Russian ; his subject, characters and treatment are 
all Russian, but his plays are written with that 
" brilliant common-sense '' which may be regarded 
as the characteristic of the European artist. It is 
well worth pointing out how his work, coming to an 
end during the first period of the French Revolution, 
approaches in spirit the work of the other authors 
in this book, who wrote a round century after him. 
This phenomenon is similar to much that can be 
observed not only in Russian art, but in Russian 
politics and society. 

Denis Ivanovich Von Vizin (the name at Pushkin's 
suggestion was Russianised into *' Von vizin '' during 
the nineteenth century) was descended from a 
German prisoner of war. He was born in 1745 and 
educated at first by his father, his gratitude to 
whom he showed in the characters of Oldthought, in 
The Minor, and Flatternot, in The Choice of a Tutor. 
In 1760, after five years in a preparatory school he 
became a student at the Moscow University. In 
the next year he published a book of translations of 



INTRODUCTION xi 

Holberg's fables. In 1762 he joined the Imperial 
Guard, but this life did not please him and he became 
a translator in the Foreign Office. In 1766 he 
finished his comedy The Brigadier y which was at 
once greeted as *' our first comedy of manners." 
The Minor, written in a similar style round a 
character resembling Goldsmith's Tony Lumpkin, 
was produced in 1782. Most of the characteristics 
of these five-act comedies are to be found in the 
little farce in this book. The Choice of a Tutor, writ- 
ten probably in 1792, the year of Von Vizin's death. 
A significant event in his life is that in 1774 he drew 
up a plan of a constitution for Panin, the minister, 
whose secretary he had become five years before, to 
present to the Emperor. A 

This constitution, with a hundred others, had to 
lie aside for the whole of the nineteenth century, 
while the poHtical progress of Russia was at a 
standstill. It is usual to consider this the fault of 
autocratic emperors, but perhaps it was due to 
the horror of the nation at the apparition of Napoleon 
as the result of the French Revolution. It is at 
least the characteristic of Russian literature after 



xii iNtRODuCTtON 

the first quarter of the nineteenth century that it 
attempted to withdraw from the course of European 
progress, and to find a national path instead. The 
marvellous Dostoievsky is always exotic to us, so 
(in a less degree, as his genius was less) is Turgeniev, 
so is Ostrovsky the dramatist, so are all the Russian 
authors of the middle and later nineteenth century, 
until Saltikov, the satirist, and Chehov. Griboye- 
dov's comedy Woe from Wit (1824), recently trans- 
lated into English under the title " The Misfortune 
of Being Clever," was the last of the early Russo- 
European masterpieces. The reader feels it might 
have been written less than twenty years ago ; in 
the strict sense of literary chronology, it actually 
was written twenty years ago. 

The function of Anton Pavlovich Chehov — this 
transliteration has been preferred to the less correct 
forms, " Tschekhoff," " Tchekhof,'' " Chekhof," etc. 
— has been to pioneer the return of Russian litera- 
ture into the normal path of European civilization. 
He was born in i860, at Taganrog, on the Sea of 
Azov, the grandson of a serf and the son of a grocer. 
He was taught Greek at a church school and then 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

went to the local classical school. His father's little 
shop came to grief and the whole family moved to 
Moscow, where he studied medicine at the University. 
He started writing, often forced to work in one room 
with his parents and brothers and their friends. In 
1884 he qualified as a doctor, and in 1886 pubhshed 
a first book of stories that had already appeared in 
a score of newspapers and reviews. He practised as 
a doctor merely on occasion, but was a most prolific 
writer of stories and plays, in which the influence of 
French literature, especially de Maupassant, con- 
flicted with the current ultra-nationalism. Some, 
in fact most, of his work is simply Russian, for ex- 
ample. The Three Sisters, of his plays, and The Duel, 
of his stories. At the same time there are innumer- 
able short stories European in style and, among his 
plays, The Wedding and The Jubilee, here translated, 
show the best quality of his work and the service he 
was rendering Russian literature. His life was cut 
short by consumption, which forced him to leave 
the intellectual centres of the north for the warm, 
barbaric Crimea. In 1890, however, he travelled in 
Siberia to observe the conditions of the political and 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

criminal exiles. A complete edition of his works 
was published in 1903, and in the next year he died 
quietly at Baden weiler in the Black Forest. 

Chehov is not a great writer ; he is really a great 
journalist, and his work has no permanent import- 
ance. A French critic has compared his work with 
the cinematograph, he himself called it '' sweet 
lemonade.'' It was not vodka — there lies its sig- 
nificance. He was an embryo European, peculiarly 
of France, of the France he had come to know in 
his profession and his reading. Now that he had led 
Russian literature out of its purely Russian groove, 
the natural step was for it to become more and more 
European, without losing its national impulse. The 
decadence of such modern writers as Andreyev, 
Gorki, and Sologub lies in their refusal to recognise 
this fact ; they continue to write in a narrow style, 
dwarfed even in that by the genius of their fore- 
runners, uninspired by the renaissance of European 
solidarity that the war has revealed, the spirit that 
Von Vizin had and Griboyedov. 

The first modern Russian author to work in the 
recovered tradition is Nicholas Evreinov, who is 



INTRODUCTION xv 

represented in this book by his own favourite plays 
A Merry Death and The Beautiful Despot. He is still a 
young man, being born on February 13, 1879. He was 
educated at the aristocratic Imperial School of Law, 
in Petrograd, and afterwards studied music under 
Rimsky-Korsakov. The present translator had the 
pleasure of making his acquaintance at Petrograd last 
year and was given several volumes of his collected 
plays and parodies. Evreinov has not only an 
instinct for drama, but is professionally bound to 
the theatre, for, in addition to his plays, he is the 
author of several books on stage-craft. What this 
means in technique will be seen from A Merry 
Death y a masterpiece both of drama and of the 
theatre. It is the best Russian play since Woe from 
Wit, and, so European is it, its excellence could 
be reproduced and appreciated in any country. So 
far as the more recent works of Evreinov permit 
us to judge, he is unlikely to excel it in the future. 

A word or two may be said of Larissa Petrovna 
Kossatch (1872-1913), whose pseudonym is '' Lesya 
Ukrainka '' — " Lesya of the Ukraine.'' The same 
influence that is visible in Chehov and ripe in 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

Evreinov has been felt also in the newly revived 
Ukrainian, or Little Russian, literature. Lesya 
Ukrainka gave it a depth and wealth of vocabulary 
it sadly needed and, by introducing the European, 
has countered the decadent spirit of the ultra- 
national Ukrainians. The Babylonian Captivity, 
translated as an epilogue to this volume, represents 
the enslavement of the Ukraine by its powerful 
neighbours ; but its style is a victory. 



The translator is indebted to the Editor of The 
New Age for permission to reprint five of the plays 
in this volume. The translation of The Babylonian 
Captivity from the Ukrainian is due mainly to Miss 
Sophie Volska, of Kiev. The translations of 
Evreinov's two plays, by the way, have his 
authorisation. In them, as in the others, stage 
directions have been as far as possible omitted. 

C. E. BECHHOFER, 



A MERRY DEATH 

A HARLEQUINADE 



By NICHOLAS EVREINOV 



CHARACTERS 

Harlequin Columbine 

Pierrot Doctor 

Death 

Scene : Harlequin s House 



A MERRY DEATH 

[Harlequin is sleeping. Pierrot clumsily chases ilie 
flies from his face, then turns to the Audience.) 

Pierrot : Shhh ! Quiet ! Take your seats quietly 
and try to talk and turn in your seats less. Even 
if an ingenuous friend has dragged you in and 
yourselves are too serious to be interested in a 
harlequinade, it's quite superfluous to hint of it 
to the public, which in the main has no affair 
^th your personal tastes. Besides, Harlequin's 

g asleep — you see him ! Shh ! I'll explain it all to 
you afterwards. But don't wake him up, please ! 
And when Columbine comes on, don't applaud 
her like mad, just in order to show your neigh- 
bours that you know her, had a little intrigue 
with her, and can appreciate certain talents. I 
beg and entreat you ! It's no joke. Harlequin's 
terribly ill ! Just think, he's been raving about 
my Columbine, although, of course, there's 
nothing in common between him and my Colum- 
bine ; there isn't, because Columbine's my wife, 
and there's an end of it ! I strongly suspect that 



A MERRY DEATH 



Harlequin won't live till to-morrow ; a fortune- 
teller told him that the day he sleeps longer than 
he revels he will die exactly at midnight. Look, 
it's just eight o'clock of the evening, and he's 
still asleep ! I'll tell you even more — I know, 
perhaps for sure, that Harlequin will soon die. 
But what decent actor will tell the audience the 
end of the play before it begins ? I'm not one of 
those who give away the management, and I 
thoroughly understand that the audience goes to 
the theatre not for any idea in the piece, or 
masterly dialogue, but simply to know how the 
play ends, and all the same I can't help sighing 
and weeping in my long sleeves and saying {sobs) : 
" Poor, poor Harlequin, who ever could have 
thought it ? " I used to like him very much ! 
He was my first friend ; though, by the way, this 
never prevented me from envying him a little, 
because, as everybody knows, if I'm Pierrot, it's 
only because I'm not a successful Harlequin. 
However, I'm not as simple as my clothes, and, I 
assure you, I've managed already to go for a 
doctor, although it's useless, because Harlequin 
can die quite all right without a doctor ; but — 
nice people always do it, and I'm not inferior to 



A MERRY DEATH 



them ; for, if I didn't behave hke everybody else, 
I should be a bold, merry Harlequin, for whom 
there are no laws ; but I — I'm only silly, cowardly 
Pierrot, whose character, by the way, will be quite 
clear to you in the further course of the drama, if 
only you stop till the end of the performance and 
don't run away now from my chatter ./So I'll 
stop it, informing you only of the following plan 
which came into my head entirely without out- 
side influence : if Harlequin is fated to die exactly 
at midnight by this clock, then won't it be a 
comradely service on my part to put back the 
hands, even for — well, only two hours ? I 
always liked taking people in ; but when it's a 
matter of taking in death and Harlequin at the 
same time, and, as well, for the harm of the first 
and the good of the second, I don't think you can 
call this plan anything but a genius's./ Well, to 
work ! The performance begins ! {Climbs on a 
stool and, stretching over the bed on which Harlequin 
is sleeping, puts the clock back two hours.) Poor, 

poor Harle {Falls down on the floor,) Poor 

Pierrot ! {Rubs his back. Harlequin, waking, 
smiles,/ pulls Pierrotjowards him by the chin, and 



tenderly kisses him 



im.jf 



A MERRY DEATH 



Pierrot {natvely) : I seem to have waked you. 

Harlequin : Why didn't you do it earher ? 

Pierrot : What f or ? 

Harlequin : My hours are numbered. 

Pierrot : Rubbish ! 

Harlequin : I want to Hve them. 

Pierrot : * And you will. 

Harlequin : You nearly let me sleep them away. 

Pierrot : I thought 

Harlequin : What's the time ? 

Pierrot :/Six./ 4 

Harlequin : Only. 

Pierrot : Yes. How do you feel ? 

Harlequin : Dying. 

Pierrot : You're frightening me. {Weeps.) 

Harlequin : Stop ! Why, I'm alive ! What have 

you done ? Isn't my clock wrong ? 
Pierrot : I went for a doctor. Lie down quietly. 
'^ (1 must take your temperature. 
Harlequin : For a doctor ? {Giggles.) Well, what 

of it, if he cures me 

Pierrot : Lift up your arm. That's the way. 

{Applies a thermometer.) Is that someone coming ? 

/The thermometer begins to burn.V 
Harlequin : It shows the exact temperature. 



A MERRY DEATH 



{Pierrot takes away the thermometer and puts out 
the flame. J Harlequin jumps up and circles about 
snapping' his fingers.) Haha ! Harlequin's not 
dead yet ! 
/TiERROT : Only, a thermometer spoiled,/ 

Harlequin : JYes, I Ve not long to live ; but 
{taking down a lute) look, how many strings are 
broken and the rest are frayed ! But does that 
stop me playing the introduction to a serenade ? 
{Plays. Steps are heard to the left.) 

Pierrot: D 'you hear? The doctor ! Stop playing 
and lie down quickly. It's he. I can tell people 
at once by their step. That could only be some- 
one hurrying to help a friend. 

Harlequin {stops playing and lies down) : To get 
money. {A knock.) 

Pierrot : Come in ! 

Doctor {in huge spectacles, bald, with a big red nose 
and a syringe in a bag, comes in, stops, and sings to 
the audience) : 

^You've only got to call me here, 
And at once I'm near, at once I'm near, 
At once I'm off to the invalid 
To care for him and for his need. 



A MERRY DEATH 



My piedicines I vary at 
The rich man's house and proletariat ; 
But there's no need to be obscure, 
I only care, but do not cure. 

And grind the poor I never did, 

God forbid, O God forbid ! 

For wealth from him who'd scrape any ? 

You take his only ha'penny. 

My medicines I vary at 

The rich man's house and proletariat ; 

But there's no need to be obscure, 

1 only care but do not cure, y 

Good-day, my dear Harlequin. What's the 

matter with you ? 
Harlequin : That's for you to judge. 
Doctor : You're quite right. {In Pierrot's ear.) 

There's never any need to contradict a patient. 

{To Harlequin.) Temperature been taken ? 
Pierrot {shaking his hand) : Don't inquire ! 
Doctor : How do you feel ? 
Harlequin : An attack. 
Doctor : Of coughing ? 
Harlequin : Of laughing. 



A MERRY DEATH 



Doctor : What are you laughing at ? 
Harlequin : You ! {Bursts with laughter.) 
Doctor {to Pierrot) : He doesn't beheve in medicine ? 
Pierrot : No, apparently only in you. 
Doctor : What a curious invalid ! Your pulse, 

please. Oho, I can't count quickly enough ! 

Show your tongue. 
Harlequin : To whom ? 
Doctor : To me ! 
Harlequin : Oh, to you ? Delighted ! {Shows his 

tongue) 
Doctor : Thank you. 

Harlequin : Please. {Shows his tongue again.) 
Doctor : Enough, enough ! 
Harlequin : Oh, that's quite all right ! {Shows it 

again.) 
Doctor : I've seen it already. 
Harlequin : Just as you like. {Puts in his tongue.) 
Doctor : I've got to listen to you. 
Harlequin : What shall I talk about ? 
Doctor : No, I say : I've got to listen to you. 
Harlequin : Well, and I ask you, what about ? 
Doctor : You don't understand me. ^y / 
Harlequin : You ? ^No-, nc r , no; iicvcr f People 

like me can see right through you ; but people 



10 A MERRY DEATH 

like you,/lll eat my hat/ can never understand 
people like me ! ' 

Doctor : He's raving. Very well ! Now, allow me 
to lay my head upon your heart ! It's necessary 
in order to 

Harlequin : But your wife isn't jealous ? 

Doctor : He's got a strong fever. If my ears aren't 
burned, it'll be a piece of luck. Yes, yes, you're 
very ill ; but let's hope you'll soon be w^ell. {To 
Pierrot.) There's no hope ; the machine is 
spoiled. {To Harlequin.) You'll live a long time 
yet. {To Pierrot.) He'll die very soon. {To 
Harlequin.) You did very well to send for me. 
{To Pierrot.) You'd better have sent for a 
coffin-maker. {To Harlequin.) You've a healthy 
system. {To Pierrot.) And that won't help him. 
{To Harlequin.) You've only got to be cured. 
{To Pierrot.) And that's no use. 

Harlequin : What do you advise me ? 

Doctor : You must go to bed early. No excite- 
ments. Drink absolutely nothing. Don't eat 
anything sharp, salt, fat, spiced, bitter, milky, 
over-cold, over-hot, very, very sweet, or very, very 
filling. Quiet habits, mustn't get roused. Always 
mind draughts. Keep quite awaj^ from frivolity. 



A MERRY DEATH ii 



Harlequin : Very well ; but is a life like that 

worth living ? 
Doctor : That's your affair. 
Harlequin : What illness have I got ? 
Doctor : Old age. 

Harlequin : Why, I could be your son ! 
Doctor : You're too impudent for that. Good-bye. 

{To Pierrot.) And who pays for the visit ? 

(Pierrot nods towards Harlequin.) 
Doctor (again to Harlequin) : Good-bye. 
Harlequin : Good-bye. (Doctor goes out unde- 
cidedly and stops.) Have you forgotten anything ? 
Doctor : Have you forgotten anything ? 
Harlequin : No, nothing ; I thoroughly remember 

all your instructions. Don't be uneasy. 
Doctor : No, no ; I'm not uneasy about that. 
Harlequin : Then about what ? 
Doctor : H'm. Speaking between ourselves, you've 

forgotten to pay me for my visit. 
Harlequin : Impossible ! How curious ! 
Doctor : But please don't be angry with me. 
Harlequin : Good heavens, no ! 
Doctor : Then good-bye. 
Harlequin (shaking his hand feelingly) : Good-bye, 

doctor, good-bye. 



12 A MERRY DEATH 

Doctor : H'm. You're just as forgetful again. 
Harlequin : Yes, yes. There's a coincidence ! 

You're quite right. It would be impudent of me 

to maintain the opposite. 
Doctor : Well, there you are ; I'm reminding you. 
Harlequin : I'm heartily grateful. 
Doctor : There's no need for gratitude. 
Harlequin : No ! Good heavens ! 
Doctor : And so — my fee ? 
Harlequin : You'll get it when I get well, when 

you've cured me. 
Doctor : Yes ; but I ought to tell you that I 

reckon to cure all illnesses except the incurable ; 

but yours 

Harlequin : Well, then, when an improvement 

comes, when your advice begins to work. But 

then, who knows ? Perhaps you lied. Why 

should I pay then ? 
Doctor : In that case I must inform you that — 

that, judging from the condition of your system, 

you won't live even till to-morrow. 
Harlequin [jumping out of bed) : What ! In that 

case, why the devil should I pay ? 
Doctor : But when you die, who'll pay me ? 
Harlequin : But for what, let me ask you ? 



A MERRY DEATH 13 

Doctor : How, for what ? 

Harlequin : If I actually die to-day, then what's 
the use of your art that can't save me from 
death ? And if I survive, then again it's no use 
if it knows less than an ignorant fortune-teller. 

Doctor : I didn't come here to talk philosophy. 

Harlequin : I know why you came. 

Doctor : No insinuations, if you please. 

Harlequin : He calls that insinuations. {Pulling 
out a purse from under his pillow.) Here's what 
you came for. [Goes to the door and holds out the 
money,) 

Doctor [reaching out) : Thank you. [Harlequin 
laughs Jand runs out at one side and in at the other, 
the Doctor after him. He does this three times/and 
then gives the Doctor the money.) 

Harlequin : What do you say to my playfulness ? 

Doctor :/fou know, sir-^here's the best of luck in 
the other world — it's the first time I've seen a 
dying man like you. What's that noise you're 
making ? 

Harlequin : That's my heart beating. (Noise of a 
steam-engine.)/ 

Doctor : And that ? 

Harlequin ; My breathing. 



14 A MERRY DEATH 

Doctor : And you're still on your legs ? 

Harlequin : Oh, yes ! And I've kept fairly merry, 
so as to meet boldly the death I desire. 

Doctor : Why do you desire it ? 

Harlequin : Oh, it's just coming at the right 
time ! The man that lives wisely always desires 
his death. 

Doctor : You're talking in riddles. 

Harlequin : Yes, for people like you. {Laughs.) 

Doctor : How do you know ^ \ , , 

Harlequin : If you like, I'll t-e^ou how you'll die. 

Doctor : Interesting. 

Harlequin [lies on bed and shivers with all his body, 
then groans) : Oh ! Ah ! Ugh ! I'm still so 
young. I haven't been able to live yet as I ought. 
Why have I been so abstinent all my life ? I've 
still got all sorts of things I want to do. Turn 
me to the window. I'm not tired yet of looking 
at the world. Help ! I've not been able to do 
half I wanted. I was never in a hurry to live 
because I always forgot about death. Help, help ! 
I haven't been able to enjoy myself yet ; I've 
always kept my health, my strength, and my 
money for the morrow. I filled it with beautiful 
hopes, and it rolled on like a snowball, growing 



A MERRY DEATH 15 

bigger and bigger. Has that morrow rolled for 
ever beyond the bounds of the possible ? It has 
rolled down the slope of my mortal wisdom. 
Oh ! Ah ! Ugh ! {Twists for the last time, 
extends, and dies. The Doctor weeps. Harlequin, 
with a laugh, gets up and applauds himself.) No ! 
Not so dies Harlequin ! 

Doctor {weeping) : What must I do ? 

Harlequin {holds out his hand) : For the advice, 
please. I take in advance. 

Doctor : How much ? 

Harlequin : As much as you. 

Doctor {gives back his fee) : Well ? 

Harlequin {with importance) : Go and live. Nothing 
else. 

Doctor : What does that mean ? 

Harlequin : Well, if you don't understand, you're 
incurable. I tell you, go and live, but live, not 
like an immortal, but like a man that may die 
to-morrow. 

Doctor {shakes his head doubtfully) : H'm. FU try 
it. {Wipes his eyes.) Good-bye, Mr. Harlequin. 

Harlequin : Good-bye, Mr. Doctor. {Exit Doctor, 
finger on brow.) Well, what have you got to say 
of it, Pierrot ? 



i6 A MERRY DEATH 

Pierrot : Nothing good. [It grows dark.) 

Harlequin : The old ape imagined I don't feel 
death coming. As if a man, sleeping longer than 
he revels, could still have doubts about the ap- 
proach of death. But what's the time ? {The 
clock shows eight.) Hasn't the clock stopped ? 
It always went in step with me, but now 

Pierrot : You're too nervous. 

Harlequin : We can't all be hke you. 

Pierrot : What do you mean ? 

Harlequin : You'll soon see. Help me to lay the 
table for supper. 

Pierrot [going to the cupboard) : With great pleasure. 

Harlequin: We must lay for three. 

Pierrot: Three? - 

Harlequin : Yes. 

Pierrot : Whom's the third for ? 

Harlequin : For Death. 

Pierrot : She'll sit down with us ? 

Harlequin : If you're not afraid of her. 

Pierrot : Two glasses are enough ; I won't have 
supper with you. 

Harlequin : Come, come ! I was joking. Death 
will sup^pp. me. That's sufficient for her. But, 
all the sam^, lay for three. {Lights the lamp.) 



A MERRY DEATH 17 

Pierrot : But whom's the third for ? 
Columbine's voice {sings) : 

I from my husband unsuspected 
Steal to another 'neath the moon ; 
When desire's interdicted, 
Doubly 'tis desired soon. 
Ah, my heart is trembling. 
Fainting, beating slow — 
If my spouse should see me. 
Should hearken, and should know. 

Pierrot : What's that ? Columbine's voice ! My 

wife's voice ! 
Harlequin : Now you know whom the third place 

is for. 
Pierrot [tragically) : A-ah ! Traitor ! A-ah ! 

Demon ! This is your friendship ! 
Harlequin : Be calm. Why, nothing's happened 

yet ! ^^u.-^— 

Pierrot : It only wants t hat ! 

Harlequin : And if I were to say that it doesn^t 

even want that ? 
Pierrot : And you dare pretend that you love me ! 
Harlequin : I love you both. But you want it to 

be only you, and so you're jealous, 
c 



i8 A MERRY DEATH 

Pierrot : You know very well how, of whom, and 

why I'm jealous. 
Harlequin : Be sensible. If you love me and love 

Columbine, you ought to be happy for both our 

sakes. Besides, you know we both love you. So 

what is there to be sad about ? Lay a third 

place. 
Pierrot : No, Fm not so simple. Nice people 

don't behave like that, and there's nothing else 

left for me than to revenge myself on you. 
Harlequin : In what way ? 
Pierrot : By death. 
Harlequin : But it'll come soon anyhow — my 

hours are numbered. Who will prevent you 

afterwards from telling everybody that it was 

the work of your hands ? 

Pierrot : Suppose 

Harlequin : Come, what is there to talk about ! 

Lay a third place. 

Pierrot [considering) : Yes, but 

Harlequin : Come, come. Time's precious. [Pierrot 

fetches the plates and drops tiiJm.) Butterfingers ! 
/Vou were bound to smash 'em. / 
Pierrot [pathetically) : It's not for you to reproach 

me ! You've destroyed my happiness. 



A MERRY DEATH 19 

Harlequin {laying the third place) : No phrases, 
please ! YouVe been cold with Columbine for a 
long time, and you're only jealous because it's 
good manners. But, shh ! 

Columbine's voice : 

Columbine has donned her mask 
And is clad in motley gear, O, 
Wants to see her Harlequin 
But's afraid of meeting Pierrot. 
Ah, her heart is trembling. 
Fainting, beating slow — 
If her spouse should see her, 
I Should hearken, and should know. 

Harlequin : I'm going to meet Columbine ; you 
look after the lamp. {Exit.) 

Pierrot : H'm. Look after the lamp ! {Suddenly 
strikes his forehead.) Wouldn't it be better to 
look after the clock ? Well, if Harlequin's death 
ought to be the work of my hands, very well ! 
Ladies and gentlemen, you are my witnesses ! I 
don't leave that sort of things unpunished — I'll 
put the hands on two hours. {Does so.) Ah ! 
Harlequin, evidently no one can escape his fate. 
Now I'm quite calm : I'm revenged. Interesting 



20 A MERRY DEATH 

to see how she'll look at me. This way, please, 

Madame Traitress. 
Harlequin [off) : Don't be afraid, Columbine ! 

Go in fearlessly. I've persuaded him, and, word 

of honour, he's consented. 
Columbine {enters) : Consented ? ! Here's a fine 

thing ! Consented ! What, you little beast, 

that's all you think of your wife ! You don't 

care if she betrays you ? You don't care ? 

Answer ! (Beats Pierrot,) 
Pierrot {agonised) : But listen, Columbine. 
Columbine : What ? I must listen to you ? Listen 

to the worst little beast of a husband of all little 

beasts of husbands ? 

Pierrot : But, Columbine. 

Columbine : Blockhead ! 

Pierrot : You don't let me utter a word. 

Columbine {beats him) : You've got no excuse ! 

And I, poor thing, married a little beast like you ! 

Gave you all the best there was in me ! And he 

can't even stand up for my conjugal honour ! 

Take that, and that, and that, you good-for- 
nothing ! 
Pierrot : But that's too much ! Harlequin, 

protect me. 



A MERRY DEATH 21 

Harlequin : This is your own business. 

Pierrot : Yes, but, dear old chap 

Harlequin : I haven't been brought up to interfere 
in other people's private matters. 

Columbine {to Pierrot) : There, that's how you 
love me ! That's how jealous you are of me ! 
Where are your vows, you pagan ? 

Pierrot {coming to himself) : Oh, to Hell with this, 
I never heard of such a thing ! Why, you im- 
pudent woman, you came here yourself to a 
rendezvous and yet you dare say 

Columbine : That's enough ! Be quiet ! I know 
the little ways of rogues like you : when you're 
found out you start to find fault with the innocent, 
so as to get out of the difficulty. But you don't 
deceive me, you good-for-nothing.^ /^^^z al/Ckh 

Harlequin {interposing) : Friends," don't let's 
waste precious time ! When supper's waiting, is 
it worth while spoiling one's appetite ? 

Columbine and Pierrot : But it is irritating ! 

Harlequin : I don't hke to see quarrels starting. 

Columbine and Pierrot : It's not my fault. 

Harlequin : Better make friends ! 

Columbine and Pierrot : Not for anything. 

Harlequin : What obstinacy ! 



22 A MERRY DEATH 

Columbine and Pierrot : Fve been wounded in 

my finest feelings. 
Harlequin : Come, enough. 
Columbine and Pierrot : No. 
yi^A'> Columbine : First he ought to be punished. 
Harlequin : In what way ? 
Columbine : Kiss me, Harlequin ! Dear, sweet 

Harlequin. 
Harlequin : Not to offend you with a refusal — 

{kisses her), I was always an obliging cavalier. 

{Kisses her,) Besides that, Fve got a tender 

heart. {Kisses her.) Even children know it. 

{Kisses her.) And finally, as host — {kisses her) — 

I ought to be polite to my guests — {kisses her) — 

especially when it concerns — {kisses her) — the 

fair sex. {Kisses her,) 
^H Pierrot : Wretches ! They don't suspect that Fm 
^^^ already revenged and so can be absolutely calm. 
Columbine {to Harlequin) : Kiss me more warmly, 

more strongly, more painfully, almost biting me, 

without losing breath. {Is kissed as she desires.) 
Pierrot : They imagine they're mortally provoking 

me. 
Columbine {to Harlequin) : Once more ! Once 

more ! {To Pierrot.) Oh ! you unfeeling log ! 



A MERRY DEATH 23 

Pierrot : Please do what you like. {To Audience.) 
My conscience is clean ; I have vindicated mv 
honour and have nothing to worry about. 

Columbine (to Harlequin) : Kiss my eyes, my fore- 
head, my cheeks, my chin, my temples. {Harle- 
quin does not wait to be asked a second time.) 

Pierrot {to Audience) : Gentlemen, you are wit- 
nesses that I've taken my revenge. 

Columbine {to Harlequin) : Kiss my neck where 
the hair ends and where a sweet shivering comes 
from your kisses. 

Pierrot : I don't care. Let them do as they want. 
I have fulfilled the duty of an affronted husband 
and never felt better in my life. 

Columbine {stamping at Pierrot) : There, you brute ! 

I Is all this nothing to you ? • 

Pierrot {to Audience) : I'm wearing them out with 
my nonchalance. 

Columbine {to Harlequin) : Well, shall we celebrate 
our Dance of Love, in spite of him. 

Harlequin : I don't dare refuse you, but 

Columbine : What " but " ? 

Harlequin : But if Pierrot isn't such a lover of 
dancing as to forget everything in the world ! 

Pierrot : Please, don't mind me ? {To Audience.) 



24 A MERRY DEATH 

I'm revenged for everything in advance and 
needn't be disturbed, whatever happens. 

Harlequin {giving him the lute) : Perhaps you'll 
accompany us ? 

Columbine : Of course ! Is he to do nothing ? 

Pierrot : With the greatest pleasure, if it helps 
you. (To Audience,) I hope you understand 
what a matter of indifference this is to a husband 
who can vindicate his wounded honour. 

Columbine : Play ! 

Pierrot [to Audience) : Lord, how easy you are, 

• when you're revenged, and nobody has any right 
to laugh at you. {Plays vigorously. Dance, 
Suddenly Harlequin falls in a faint on the bed, 
Pierrot stops playing.) 

Columbine : What's happened to you ? What's 
the matter ? 

Harlequin {holding his heart) : No — it's nothing, a 
trifle. {His heart beats like a sledge-hammer, and he 
breathes like an engine.) 

Columbine : How furiously your heart's beating ! 
What terrible breathing ! 

Pierrot {to Audience, joyfully) : Harlequin's giving 
in. Harlequin's weakening. Rejoice with me, 
poor husbands — you whose wives are in danger ! 



A MERRY DEATH 25 

Columbine {to Harlequin) : Nothing like this has 
ever happened to you before. 

Pierrot {to Audience) : By the way, don't be angry 
with me, because, after all, Harlequin's my friend, 
and there's an end of it. I'm not going to quarrel 
with him, indeed, for a harlot ! And if he's more 
to Columbine's taste than I, he's not to blame, 
but Columbine, for having such bad taste. By 
the way, I said this from envy. {Reflects.) 

Harlequin {stands up and smiles, and kisses 
Columbine) : Come, did I frighten you ? Well, 
forgive me. {Looks at the clock, which is nearing 
twelve.) Soon you'll know the real reason. 

Columbine : What's the matter ? 

Harlequin : Let's sit down to supper. The dance 
woke up my appetite, and I feel magnificent. 
{They sit down and eat and drink.) 

Columbine : What are you hiding from me ? 

Harlequin : Come, drink. Columbine, drink ! 
When there's good wine on the table, there's no 
need to worry about anything. {Kisses her.) 

Pierrot {to Audience) : O Lord, I'm undergoing 
incredible pangs of conscience. To think only of 
the harm I've caused Harlequin ! And what 
for ? What for ? I can't swallow a thing, and I 



26 A MERRY DEATH 

don't know how to look at Harlequin ! I'd 
willingly confess my wicked crime to him now ! 
But alas ! I can't do it, because what would my 
revenge come to then ? And I can't go without 
revenging myself. I'm a deceived husband, and 
ought to revenge myself, because all nice people 
do. Oh, how unhappy I am, and how I want to 
cry ! {Threatens the audience with his fist.) Bad, 
wicked people, it's you thought out such silly 
rules ! It's because of you I've got to take the life 
of my best friend ! [Turns his hack on the public) 

Harlequin {to Columbine) : Why were you late 
to-day ? 

Columbine : I was detained by the Doctor — I met 
him quite near here. He was dancing and limping 
and drunk and accosting all the girls. 

Harlequin : Well ? 

Columbine : He prayed me to make him happy. 
He assured me that he was very strong and had 
been very handsome thirty years ago. While I 
was showing him that I wasn't a historian to 
be captivated by antiquity, time passed and I 
was late. 

Harlequin {to Audience) : Poor Doctor ! Why 
didn't he come to me earlier for advice ? 



A MERRY DEATH 27 

Columbine : I was very sorry for him. 
Harlequin {to Audience) : Your elbow's near and 

yet you can't bite it ! 
Columbine : He was weeping and crying : " Why 

the devil did I preserve my strength ? " And I 

answered him : *' I have respect for your wrinkles, 

but not passion." 
Harlequin : But you know. Columbine, he is 

younger than I, though twice as old in years. 
Columbine : I don't understand you. 
Harlequin : Because you haven't meditated on 

real old age. [Tapping Pierrot on shoulder,) But 

why aren't you drinking or eating and taking 

part in our conversation ? 
Columbine : He wants to depress us, but he shan't, 

the good-for-nothing ! 
Pierrot [weeping) : You don't understand, poor 

thing, that Harlequin's dying. 
Columbine : Dying ? You horrid thing ! Or have 

you put poison in our glasses ? No, no [con- 

temptuously) ; men like you aren't capable of that. 
Pierrot [all in tears) : Poor Harlequin, your 

minutes are numbered ! 
Columbine : What's he say ? What's he making 

up ? 



28 A MERRY DEATH 

Harlequin (turning to the clock) : Yes, Columbine, 
it's true. It's time for you to know it. I feel 
plainly that I shall soon die. 

Columbine : Harlequin ! Beloved ! 

Harlequin : Don't cry, Columbine ! I shall go 
away with a smile on my lips. I want to die as 
people want to sleep, when it's late and they're 
tired and need rest. I've sung all my songs ! 
I've revelled all my merriment ! I've laughed all 
my laughter ! My strength and health have been 
joyfully spent with my money. I was never 
mean, and so was always merry and sorrowless. 
I am Harlequin, and shall die Harlequin. Don't 
cry. Columbine ! Rather be glad that I'm dying, 
not like others, but full of delight, content with 
fate and my conduct. Or would you rather see 
me grappling to life with greedy eyes and a 
prayer on my lips ? No, Harlequin is not like 
that. He has fulfilled his mission in life and dies 
calmly. And, really, didn't I give my kisses to 
who wanted them ? Didn't I lavish my soul for 
the good of others ? How many wives of ugly 
husbands I consoled ! And how many little hats 
did I make for people who thought themselves 
sages ! How many I awoke to passionate song or 



A MERRY DEATH 29 

rattling rage ! To how many I gave an example ! 
Now I have outlived my life, and only the husk is 
left for death ! *' Catch the moments '' — that's 
my motto ! And I have not been idle to catch 
them ! Fve caught so many that I want no more. 
Now, perhaps, another kiss, a little draught of 
wine, a burst of merry laughter — and it will 
be! 

Columbine : But aren't you afraid ? 

Harlequin : It would be more frightful to be born ! 
Now I'm going back again. 

Columbine : To sink into nothing ! 

Harlequin : But if death's nothing, what have I 
to fear ? 

Columbine : Anyhow, I'm afraid. 

Harlequin : Your bowl's not emptied ; you're 
afraid not to be ready. 

Columbine : But only think 

Harlequin : It thinks for us. 

Columbine : But we ? 

Harlequin : We'll remember the march of the 
clock — the swift march of the clock ! Stretch 
out. Columbine ! Press the clusters of life ! 
Turn them to wine ! Don't tarry for delight, so 
as to be sated when death comes ! {Takes the lute) 



30 A MERRY DEATH 

And you, too, stretch out, friend Pierrot, if only 
you can. {Pierrot, in reply, sobs. Harlequin 
laughs.) No, no, not like that ; you don't under- 
stand me. 

Pierrot : The lamp's flickering. 

Harlequin : And there's no oil in the house. 

Columbine : But look, it's still burning ! 

Harlequin : It's burning. Columbine, burning ! 
{Begins to play. The strings break.) 

Columbine {sorrowfully) : The strings have broken. 

Harlequin {laughs) : My catch is sung. {A knock.) 
Who's there ? {Death enters. Harlequin rises to 
meet her. He is very gallant.) To do justice, 
madame, you have come just in time. We were 
only just talking about you. Really, how obliging 
you are, not to keep yourself waiting ! But why 
these tragic gestures ? Look round, madame ; 
you are in the house of Harlequin, where one can 
laugh at all that's tragic, not even excluding your 
gestures. {Death points at the clock with a theatrical 
gesture.) Enough, enough, madame. Really, if 
I hadn't laughed all my laughter, I should burst 
of laughing in the literal sense of the word. What, 
you want to stop the clock ? There's plenty of 
time, madame. As far as I know, my hour has 



A MERRY DEATH 31 

not yet struck. Or you're anticipating a struggle 
with me ? No, no ; I don't belong to the silly 
bourgeois boors. Honour and place to a beautiful 
lady ! I don't want to cross her, and then I can't 
oppose her, because I've used up all my strength. 
But the traditional dance ? Your dance of the 
good old times, when people hadn't yet forgotten 
how to die, and even Death was a distraction for 
them. If you please ! Ah, you're surprised at 
the request ! Yes, yes. Harlequin in our time is 
almost a fossil. Well, fair lady, enough obstinacy. 
{Music. Death dances.) Columbine, Pierrot, open 
your eyes, open them quickly ! Look how merry 
we are ! {Harlequin snakes Columbine sit down 
beside him on the bed. Death places her hand on 
his shoulder. To Death.) Wait, my dear lady, 
wait. Let me take leave of the world as the 
world does ! One more, only one more kiss. 
Columbine ! Pierrot, where have you got to, you 
coward ? {Rises.) Well, if you're too lazy to light 
me. {Gives the lamp to Death.) Light the way. 
Death ; there's still a tiny drop of oil in the lamp. 
{Death separates him from Columbine.) 
Columbine {as in a dream) : My Harlequin ! My 
beloved ! {The lamp goes out. Then the moon 



32 A MERRY DEATH 

lights up the stage. It is twelve o'clock. Columbine 
is kneeling at Harleqtmis death-bed. Pierrot comes 
in on the right.) 
Pierrot {to A^idience) : Here's a situation. I really 
don't know what I ought to bewail first : the loss 
of Harlequin, the loss of Columbine, my own 
bitter lot or yours, dear audience, who have 
witnessed the performance of such an unserious 
author. And what did he want to say in his 
piece? — I don't understand. By the way, I'm 
silly, cowardly Pierrot, and it's not for me to 
criticise the piece in which I played an unenviable 
role. But your astonishment will increase still 
more when you know what I have been told to 
say in conclusion by the culprit of this — well, 
between ourselves — this strange mockery of the 
public. Shhh ! Listen I *' When the genius 
Rabelais was dying, the monks collected round his 
couch and tried in every way to induce him 
to do penance for his sins. Rabelais, in reply, 
only smiled, and when the moment of the end 
came, he said mockingly : * Let down the cur- 
tain ; the farce is over.' He said this and died." 
Why the graceless author thought it necessary 
to put other people's words into the mouth of 



A MERRY DEATH 33 

one of the actors, I don't know — Fve not a free 
hand in the matter ; but being a respectable actor, 
I stand by him to the last and so, obeying with- 
out dispute the will of the author, I shout mock- 
ingly : Let down the curtain ; the farce is over. 
[The curtains fall behind him) Ladies and gentle- 
men, I forgot to tell you that neither your ap- 
plause nor your hissing of the piece is likely to be 
taken seriously by the author, who preaches that 
nothing in life is worth taking seriously. And I 
suggest that if truth is on his side, then you 
should hardly take his play seriously, all the more 
as Harlequin has probably risen from his death- 
be^ already, and, perhaps, is already tidying 
himself in anticipation of a call, because, say 
what you like, but the actors can't be responsible 
for the free-thinking of the author. [Exit) 

(Curtain) 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

THE LAST ACT OF A DRAMA 

By NICHOLAS EVR^ijNOV 



CHARACTERS 

The Master, 

and his 

Companion, 

Friend, 

Maid, 

Manservant, 

Fool-Hermaphrodite, 

Arab Boy and 

Favourite Witch. 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

[The play takes place in the late autumn of 1904. 
The room luxuriously furnished in the style of a 
century before. The Master of the house, his 
Lady Companion, Manservant and Fool-Her- 
maphrodite with a monkey. All are dressed in 
antique style) 

Servant [with animation) : " Tally-ho ! Tally-ho ! 
Hark ! Follow, follow ! *' The hounds were at 
their last gasp. They were only a length behind 

him. Now they've got him, thought I No ! 

the little lord held out another ten minutes — 
he doubled, the ragamuffin, and doubled again, 
and again — at last the whip was going to turn 
the pack back ! — Aha ! just look ! — I can't 
describe it ! — its tongue hanging out, its eyes 
bulging. — What a beauty, just — *' On him,'' we 
shouted. " Tally-ho ! Tally-ho ! There he goes, 
here he goes, this way, that way." " No, no, 
37 



38 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

you've gone enough ! " Within a minute he was 
done for. — How his brush trailed. The dear old 
chap was done for, the old fellow was done. 

Master : Good work, begad. 

Servant : Ay, I dare swear there's no sport in the 
world to beat fox-hunting, nothing ! 

Master : No, Egorich, give things their due. For 
instance, I'm extraordinarily pleased with to- 
day's sport. Not even God knows how many 
brace I shot, but there w^ere some moments 
that {Kisses the tips of his fingers.) 

Companion : Who said that hunting was a cruel 
pastime ? 

Servant : Some jealous beast who can't shoot ot 
can't afford a gun ! {Laughs.) 

Fool {in motley, screams like a monkey) : Kiriki, 
kirikoo, kiriki. 

Master {drinking) : Impeaching human happiness 
— that's real cruelty. Ahem ! I've dined well 
to-day. {To Servant.) My compliments to your 
wife ; to-day's dinner was excellent. I'm not 
calling her up to compliment her, from considera- 
tion for her corns. But how's Diana ? 

Companion : I heard her howling. 

Servant : Yes, I gave her another bath with bran 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 39 

and rubbed her belly with camphorated oil ; but 

you'll have to bleed her, as sure as life. {Maid 

brings in a long lit tobacco-pipe.) 
Companion {beckoning at Fool with a biscuit) : 

Chick, chick, chick, chick. 
Master : Poor little doggie ! However could it 

have happened ? {Smokes. Fool scrambles up to 

Companion, ivho pulls his ear.) 
Companion : Ah, you good-for-nothing. You like 

to play cards, but you don't like to be smacked 

for forfeits. Where did you run away to when 

you lost ? {Fool squeals.) Til show you ! I'll 

show you ! I'll show you ! 
Fool : I'll set the house on fire ! I'll set the house 

on fire ! {Runs after Maid and pulls her braids.) 

Bom ! Bom-bom-bom ! Bom-bom-bom-bom ! 
Maid : Let go ! Let go, you nasty thing ! D'you 

hear, let go ! Egorich, take him away. 
Fool : I'm ringing the alarm. Fire ! We're alight ! 

Bom - bom - bom - bom ! Bom - bom - bom - bom ! 

{Exit Maid. Servant beats him.) Tt, you ! One 

foot in the grave, and still fighting ! {Goes back 

to his monkey.) 
Companion : But what if he really does set the 

house on fire ? What will happen ? 



40 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Master : Well, the stables will be burned too. 
They're so near the house. {Smiles, To Fool.) 
True, fool ? 

Fool : A true fool ! 

Master : Yes, I really am. To be the owner of 
estates with such a fine chase, and instead of 
shooting and enjoying myself in the open air 

Servant : How often didn't I say to you in the 
town : the woodcock are dull without you, the 
wolves run about in the garden in the daytime, 
everyone says, " Where's master ? " 

Master : Don't tell me ; I'm laughing at myself. 

Servant : And you didn't want to know ; you used 
to sit with those long-haired people, you used to 
write books for them, you were getting pale and 
thin 

Companion : Next time I'll go hunting too ! My 
costume's been repaired. 

Servant : I can understand those long-haired 
vagabonds writing books ; they haven't got 
estates or health, and the colour of their faces 
isn't worth spoiling. But you're a rich gentle- 
man, such a gentleman, that your little toe would 
show you were a gentleman, and then all of a 
sudden 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 41 

Master : Ah ! when you were speaking the truth, 
I was full of prejudices 

Servant : Only to think how much time you 
wasted for nothing 

Master : Nearly all my youth 

Companion : But who said he wasn't going to talk 
of the past ? There's firm determination ! In- 
stead of sad recollections, Egorich, you'd much 
better tell us how his grandfather drove out in 
the coach with girls for horses. But in detail. 
I and Grusha intend to take him out the same 
way. 

Servant : Ah, young lady ! That's impossible ! 
There are no girls now like there used to be. 
Are there ? Can you see them now with blood 
as thick as milk, and strong as horses, and such 
teeth — oh ! it used to hurt to look at them, they 
glistened so. And their calves were burnt like 
your iron and their braids were like whips ! Oho, 
young lady, those times have gone, there are no 
more pretty girls like there used to be. 

Companion : Come, tell us how it used to be. 

Maid [enters) : The witch has come. Is she to wait ? 

Master : No, no, call her in at once, call the dear 
old lady in. 



4^ THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Servant : May I clear ? 

Master : Yes, and bring in the candelabra. 

Servant : Yes, sir. [Exit.) 

Fool {plays with monkey) : Kiriki, kirikoo, kirikoo. 

Companion : How soon it gets dark now ! 

Master : Well, shall we take her potions and fly 
to the Brocken. 

Companion : I'm afraid only it might upset your 
health. 

Master : What nonsense ! In the first place 
{points at Fool) he dreamed I was so well, and in 
the second, what's health ? Isn't it money to 
be spent neither too stingily nor too prodigally ? 

Companion : I don't know why, but you're in a 
reasoning mood to-day. But we must ask the 
witch about his dream. {Enter Servant with 
candelabra.) Where's the Arab boy gone to ? 

Servant : He's sitting with Diana ; they're both 
black and miserable. 

Maid {enters) : She's coming ! 

Master : Aha. 

Maid : Now then, limp up. {Enter Witch.) 
(Master: Ah! good day, my dear. 

1 Companion: Good-day, beauty. 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 43 

Master : Your ugliness gets more beautiful every 
day. 

Companion : Will you be a hundred years old the 
day after to-morrow ? 

Servant : What ? Has she been merry-making 
all this time ? 

Master : Still the same success with the goats ? 
Ah, the rogue knows how to make her warts suit 
her face. She knows the scents that please the 
long tails. 

Maid : Why don't you speak, you stockfish ? 

Companion : She's collecting herself. 

Maid [holds a live log under the witch's nose) : What's 
it smell of ? Eh ? What's it smell of ? {Witch 
hisses. All laugh.) What, don't you like it, you 
big-faced sorceress ? 

Master : Listen, you rogue. Last night our fool had 
a quite extraordinary dream. First he dreamed 
that he, a fool, had been appointed to a terribly 
responsible post. Well, so far there's nothing 
extraordinary, that happens all round us every 

day, but after that {The Arab boy enters 

with a card on a silver tray. General conster- 
nation.) 

Master {astonished) : Well, this is the last thing I 



44 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

expected. (Pause.) Egorich, go and ask him 

into the hall. {Exit Servant.) What the 

I'm in my dressing-gown. — Here's a surprise ! 
Companion : Whoever is it ? {Looks at card.) Oh, 

it's the man who was exiled ? 
Master : Yes, who'd have thought of him ? {To 

Witch.) My dear, go to the kitchen for a little 

while ! 
Companion : Interesting to know what he wants ? 

Why ever has he come all this way ? Why, isn't 

he a famous writer now ? {Exeunt Witch, Arab 

hoy, and Maid.) 
Master : And a famous man of learning. 
Companion : Well, he's not got such a wonderful 

mind, so I heard. 
Master : But he's got something. He preferred 

martyrdom for an idea to any kind of jobbery, 

and consequently- 

Companion : And you'll receive this adventurer ? 
Master : I want to be polite, and besides, he's 

better than the others. 
Companion : But how are we to behave with him ? 
Master : To change would be obviously too great 

an honour for such a gentleman. The year 1808 

will continue ; guests have come — and I'll put 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 45 

on my uniform. That's what my great-grand- 
father would have done. 

Companion : Hell destroy all the illusion. 

Master : All ? He's not so strong as that. 

Servant [enters) : The gentleman says he's frozen 
from the journey. 

Master : Ask him in here. There's a fire here. 
Have the candles lit on the walls, and come and 
help me dress. {Exit.) 

Servant : Very good, sir. [At the door Maid runs 
into him.) What the devil have they all lost their 
heads about ? [Exit.) 

Maid [to Companion) : What shall we do ? 

Companion : Everything's to be as it was ; to- 
day's the second of October, 1808, and you and 
I are just his slaves. Although he's so tired, he's 
gone to put on his uniform. If we don't earn his 
approval, well, — why, he makes less of us every 
day. 

Maid : Oh, but don't you Uke that ? 

Companion : Light the room up more. 

Maid : I'm so excited. I'm burning all over. 

Companion : Try some cold water. [Exit.) 

Fool ; We're on fire ? Water ! Water ! [Enter 



46 THE BEXUTIFUL DESPOT 

Friend of Mastery in normal twentieth-century 

clothes, with spectacles, followed by Servant.) 
Friend : I should, er — I don't know — if I could 

brush myself a little — to tell the truth — the dirt 

of the railway — it's the worst thing on earth 

Servant : You can get warm here by the stove and 

have a brush down. Grusha, bring a brush. 
Friend : What a long way you are from the station ! 

How's the master, is he well ? 
Servant : Oh yes. Did you get good horses, if I 

might ask ? 
Friend {looking round amazed) : Er, yes, not bad. 
Servant : The girl will brush you, but master's 

calling me. Grusha, do it properly ! (Exit.) 
Friend {moving away from the monkey) : It, er — 

doesn't bite ? 
Maid : It doesn't bite its friends. 
Friend : But strangers ? 
Maid : Strangers don't come here. 
Friend : Don't come here ? But, er — your master, 

is he, er — absolutely well ? 
Maid : Yes, absolutely. 
Friend : Lucky the monkey isn't free ! 
Maid : Goodness gracious, why, nobody's free at 

master's. 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 47 

Fool [approaches) : Who are you ? 

Friend : And who are you ? 

Fool [importantly] : I'm Johnny Cracken and 

Jenny Jolly, but what's your name ? 
Friend [hiding his confusion) : I'm called Vanya 

at home. [Laughs awkwardly.) 
Fool : What's the joke ? [To Maid,) What's he 

laughing at ? [To Monkey.) What's he laughing 

at ? Let's leave the sinner. [Exit.) 
Friend [pale) : Who's that ? 
Maid : He told you : Johnny Cracken and Jenny 

Jolly. 
Friend : Er — is your master really quite well ? 
Maid : Oh yes. He's just coming. [Pause.) 
Friend : I should like to know — how many miles 

is it from here to the railway ? 
Maid [astonished) : To the railway ? What's the 

railway ? 
Friend : You don't know what a railway is ? 
Maid : I've never heard of one. 
Friend : Do you mean to say — do you — well yes, 

er — do you all live here, without ever going 

outside ? 
Maid : Yes, without going outside. 
Friend ; Hm. — Your face seems familiar. 



48 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Maid : Fve never seen you before. I think you're 
here the first time 

Friend : I can't quite recall where — but still — I 
don't know, perhaps Fm mistaken. [Picks up 
book and reads) : '' The Political, Statistical, and 
Geographical Journal; or, The Contemporary 
History of the World. 1808. Third part. Third 
book. September." — [Picks up another.) — ''The 
Genius of the Times," 1808. — '* St. Petersburg 
Review " — '' Northern Mercury " — all September, 
1808. — Tell me, that is, er, tell me, what are 
these papers, old ones ? 

Maid : I don't know ; we don't know anything 
about those things. [Lights the last candles.) 

Friend : I don't understand what sort of candles 
these are. They're funny. 

Maid : Funny ? They're the best sort of tallow. 

Friend : Tallow ? Listen. What does this all 
mean ? Come, I entreat you, tell me what it's 
all about ? My head's going round. — Oh ! Why, 
you're Baroness Nordman, or Fve gone mad, or 
I've got hallucinations, or I'm dreaming ! 

Maid : But, sir ! 

Friend : You're Baroness Nordman, whom I met 
only a year ago at the Sociological Society ! 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 49 

Maid : But, sir ! 

Friend : I've no more doubts. You're Helen, 
Baroness Nordman. 

Maid {withdrawing) : Lord preserve us ! What are 
you talking about, sir ? I'm a serf, a chamber- 
maid, my name's Grusha, I wash the floor. 

Friend : A serf ? {Pause.) But serfdom was 
abolished in 1861 ! ! ! 

Maid : Lord preserve us ! Why it's only 1808 now ! 

Friend : What ? ! ! {Enter Master. Exit Maid.) 

Master {in old-fashioned unijorm) : Good-day — 
whatever's the matter ? 

Friend : What does all this mean ? I entreat you, 
in the name of God, tell me what it all means ? 
Oh ! Oh ! my heart ! Water ! Water ! 

Fool {entering with Companion) : Water ! Water ! 
Fire ! 

Master : Are you ill ? What has happened ? 

Friend : Spray me with water ! Pinch me as 
hard as you can, because I'm fast asleep, I'm 
frightened and I can't wake up. Wake me up ! 
This is hellish ! Or have I got hallucinations ? ! ! 
{More quietly.) I've been travelling two days in 
the train and almost a whole day in the carriage. 
If you're trying to hoax me, it's not at all nice of 

E 



50 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

you : Fve got neurasthenia and a weak heart. — ■ 
I can't make out anything. I met an awful old 
woman with a beard. After her came a black 
boy. An angry fool made a laughing-stock of 

me, then a serf baroness, I mean No, I ! 

I {Shouts.) But explain it once for all ! 

Why, it's not like anything on earth. Did they 
really tell me the truth in Petersburg ; have you 
really gone mad ? 

Master : You weren't afraid to visit a madman ? 
Why are you afraid now ? 

Friend : I — I'm not really afraid, but — Fve only 
lost my bearings— I see that you're not mad, but 

at the same time Come, don't torment me 

any longer ! Enough ! Why, it's getting cruel. 
I'm dog tired ! Come, explain things to me, 
quickly. 

Fool {enters) : Here's water ! Who wants water ? 
{All but Friend and Fool laugh.) 

Friend : Allow me to introduce you : my " God's 
fool," from the next village. 

Fool : I'm Johnny Cracken and Jenny Jolly. 

Master : They call him Androgyne there, on 
irrefutable grounds, that's to say, he's bisexual. 

Friend : Lo — o — ord ! ! ! 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 51 

Master : And if I wanted to moralise upon every 
possible occasion I should say at once that you 

I contemporary young people, whose men are full 
of effeminacy and women of masculinity, might 
all be called hermaphrodites. 

Friend : You say, *' You contemporary young 
people,'' but what are you ? 

Master : I ? My costume, my toilet, all my 
appearance, don't they tell you in what epoch 
IP I'm living ? And this furniture, this illumina- 
tion, these people ! 

Friend : If I'm not mistaken — it's as they used to 
live a hundred years ago. 

Master : You're not mistaken. 

Friend : Then — why are you — you — I don't know 
why, but I'm afraid somehow, though it makes 
me seem a coward. I don't understand, you 
prefer this — obsolete way of life to our modern 

Master : That's all. 

Friend : But what's the reason ? 

Companion {smiles) : It's a curious one. 

Master : There are several. 

Friend : Tell me just one ! 

Master {takes out an old book) : These old note- 
books ! 



32 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Friend : What are they ? 

Master : The diary of my great-grandfather. 

Friend : What an antiquity ! 

Master : It has enchanted me. 

Friend : The antiquity ? 

Master : I was enchanted by his old masterly way 
of hfe, beautiful, merry ; d'you understand, it 
enchanted me ? And to reproduce it even 
approximately became my sacred dream. 

Friend : You were always a dreamer. 

Master : Look ! the dream has come true ! I live 
where he lived, in the same apartments, with the 
same habits. I took these girls — come nearer, 
Grusha ! — these dear girls as slaves, and then 
there's Egorich 

Friend : What an extraordinary likeness to 
Baroness Nordman ! 

Master : That poor woman died recently. 

Friend : Really ? How sad ! She was a truly 
advanced woman. The feminist movement lost 
much by her death. Lord ! how fervently she 
insisted upon equal rights with men ! 

Master : And how terribly her soul wished to 
tremble before a man's strength ! Know this - — 
she was a real woman. She sought her ravisher, 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 53 

her oppressor, her master. She was decaying in 
the atmosphere of equal rights, she was freezing 
in the embraces of the manikin who nourished 
her so much and so convincingly with the beauties 
of free love. ^^^ 

Friend : What are you saying ? ! Where did you 
get that from ? ! 

Master : Baroness Nordman, that very Baroness 
Nordman who was tired of living satiated by the 
advantages of civilization, who was ready for 
anything to be saved from mortal ennui — she 
died, and changed into my slave. 

Friend : Into a slave ? ! ! You're raving ! 

Master : Grusha, kiss the gentleman's hand. {Maid 
takes Friend's handy he tears it away.) 

Friend : I don't understand why you're hoaxing 
me. 

Master {to Maid) : Be off ! {Exit Maid.) We're 
not hoaxing you at all. {Turns to Companion.) 
She's my slave, too, but more intimate. 

Companion : I am very glad to meet you ; I have 
heard so much of your services to learning. 

Friend : Oh, really — thank you 

Master : You think there are few women who are 
stifled by the burden of their freedom ! And so 



54 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

you don't want to admit that such women, from 
aversion to your cultured Hfe, from love of the 
unusual, and from love, of course, of me, are 
able to become slaves ! I'll show you afterwards 
the vows they've sworn. 

Friend : Nothing could surprise me now. 

Master : Why should it ? 

Friend : What ? ! ! 

Master [reproachjully) : You only just said that 
nothing could surprise you now. {All laugh.) But 
do you recognise Egorich ? My good old servant ? 
I don't remember if I told you that he and his 
wife — she cooks for us here — took up a somewhat 
original position in regard to a certain reform. 

Friend : How ? 

Master : They declared that this reform could not 
affect such faithful servants as they, and despite 
everything they went on living with us in the 
old way. {Servant kisses his hand.) He is the 
right hand of my estate here. And what a 
hunter — it's simply amazing ! Did you ever hear 
of hunting with alauntis, bandogs and bercelets ? 

Friend : Whatever are they? ^' ' 

Master : There you are ! {To Servant.) Order 
your old woman to cook something good for 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 55 

supper ; and bring us at once a bottle of mead 
and a plate of comfits. 

Servant : Very good, sir. Shall I lay the table 
in the dining-room or 

Master : In the dining-room. {Exit Servant.) But 
why are you standing up, dear old chap. Please 
sit down. 

Friend {sarcastically) : I didn't dare — you're so 
majestic. {They sit down.) 

Master {joking) : Never mind ! Be brave, be 
brave ! 

Friend : So we're living now in eighteen hundred 
and 

Companion : In eighteen hundred and eight. 

Master : That is when my great-grandfather was 
just the age I am now, when he had retired from 
his regiment and lived, as he said, " in the gentle 
calm of my country paradise." 

Friend {sarcastically) : So you, our matchless 
economist, the pride of our society, shining, as 
it were, like a star in the dark night of our social 
life, you have gone back to the Dark Ages, to the 
epoch of tyranny, to the time plusquamperfectum 
only because the life of your great-grandfather 
has exercised an irresistible influence over you ? 



56 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 






Master [seriously) : That was one of the reasons. 
The seed fell on prepared soil. There had always 
dwelt in me the despot side by side with the 
liberal. 

Friend : And they lived together. 

Master : For a certain time. 

Friend : That's interesting. 

Master [to his Companion) : Tell him the tale, how 
two dwelled in one soul. 

Friend : Whose is this tale ? 

Master : Mine. She learns my works by heart ; 
she says she is ready to put them to music, to 
illuminate them in colours, to mould their ideas 
in clay, to write them out a thousand times in 
golden ink. {Servant brings in a bottle of mead.) 
Well, begin ! 

Companion {at the harp) : There, where is so much 
filth and so much serene divinity, where often 
the very demon builds a nest and where some- 
times the seraphim fly, where is preserved so 
much secrecy, potentiality, and marvellous power, 
there, in one of these wondrous abodes built, as 
they all are, for one, only for one — lived two. 
One was — (Heavens ! how unpleasant to speak 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 57 

of those you hate) — one was good, learned, dili- 
gent. The other was — (how I adore him !) — the 
other was evil, all-evil and unlearned and lazy. 
They were crowded, of course, but — Fate did 
not let them live apart. They wanted to develop, 
but each was a huge hindrance to the other. And 
the one that passed for learned and good and 
diligent drugged the other with the potion of 
science ; sat at his bedside and sang this lullaby : 
*' Sleep, dear master : sleep, covering over your 
eyes ! Your glorious age is past ! Sleep ; the 
golden age is past ! Now we only mock your 
noble mien. We need learning and work. The 
polish of the grandee does not tempt us : the fair 
ladies are ever less and less that count a well- 
kept above a horny hand.'' — So sang he that 
was learned and closed the beautiful eyelids of 
him that was unlearned with irresistible sleep. 
Only he did not reign long, not long did he 
rule. It is hard to break a master's strength, 
real strength, even with a drowsy poison. One ! 
and he suddenly awoke. — Two ! he stretched 
agreeably. — Three ! and from laziness he had 
already forgotten to think. " No," he cried, " it 
shall not be as you wish ! I will hear no more 



58 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

fables, brother ! It will be difficult to drug 
me now. Well, come and let us measure our 
strength. Enough ! We cannot live here to- 
gether as we used to. Do you hear ! You 
have diverted yourself enough, my beloved." 
Thereupon he that was learned produced one 
thousand five hundred arguments. He that was 
ignorant overcame them at once by mere force 
of will : he took his rival by the throat, gave him 
a trifle with two fingers, cast him out of the doors 
of the sanctuary and began to live alone, his 
own master. That's all the story, but you may 
think out the moral yourself, if the story pleased 
you and you fully understood it. 

Friend : H'm. — Well — it's very amusing. (Laughs.) 
It's very amusing. The chief contributor to the 
" Lever " writes stories like this ! No, it's so 
amusing, so amusing that — ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. 

Master {drinking a beaker of mead) : Very glad to 
have cheered you up. But how nervy you are ; 
you must be working a lot. Why precisely did 
you come to see me ? 

Friend : Well, in my sweet ignorance I presumed 
that — I don't understand, didn't you get any of 
my letters ? 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 59 

Master : I don't want to have anything in com- 
mon with the twentieth century. No one dares 
bring letters to me. That's my command. 

Friend : Wise command ! But I wrote to you, 
and, at the editor's instructions, have even 
journeyed here to ask, persuade, entreat you 
even in God's name to write just a little 
article for us. Really, jokes aside, doesn't your 
conscience torture you ? The editor is simply 

I besieged with letters, " Why doesn't he write ? " 
— " Is it true that he doesn't contribute any 
more ? " — ** Where are the articles you promised 
by him ? " Listen ! Now, really, give up this 
caprice ! Write just a few lines. The paper 
will fall to -pieces without you — you know it 
well. 

Master : Please drink. 

Friend : Come, answer me plainly. {Drinks a 
goblet of mead.) 

Master : Excellent ; I'll send you a few articles ; 
only I don't know if they'll suit a paper with 
Liberal tendencies. The first article is called, 
** The Positive Values of Serfdom." The 
second 

Friend : You want to laugh again. 



6o THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Master : On the contrary, I want you to laugh.] 
[Picking up a paper.) To tell the truth, a better 
reply to your remark would be the following' 
passage from " A New Catechism of French 
Literature." Here it is. It's a question of paper- 
soiling. Listen, what the use is of paper-soiling : 
** The flourishing condition of paper manufac- 
turers, printers, and booksellers, the diversion of 
others, the nourishment of one's own spirit, 
which almost unceasingly languishes with a 
thirst for instruction and the acquirement of 
glory." Of course, you'll say that what was 
written in 1808, can have no significance to the 
twentieth century, but I 

Friend : You're not really interested in these old 
things ? 

Master : Old things ? A paper for September, 
1808, to be called old ! {To Companion,) Well, 
I never ! {To Friend,) Ah, if you only knew 
how every novelty excites us, every event of 
passing life ! Why, not long ago a meeting took 
place between the Emperor Alexander and 
Napoleon. Would you believe it, our hands 
shook when we learned what was happening ? 
Just listen. {Reads.) '* We speak of the meeting 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 6i 

of these Monarchs first as of a splendid event 
in history, of a meeting which, under all the 

. circumstances, is bound to have the most far- 
reaching consequences." — D'you hear ! — '' The 
most far-reaching consequences/' 

Friend {takes the paper and reads) : '* The Political, 

fc Statistical, and Geographical *' Oh, the 

devil ! 

Master : It's our favourite paper. 

Friend : It's simply incredible. What did you 
say — '* The Positive Values of Serfdom " ? 

Master : Yes. {Pours him out mead.) 

Friend : So you seriously advocate serfdom ? 
Thanks, enough ; this stuff's very strong. 

Master : So I seriously advocate serfdom ! {Pours 
j§ out for Companion and self.) It's strong only for 
the weak. 

Friend : And you say this ? 

Master : I am repenting — I had erred. You see, 
I'm not a god. 

Companion {with energy) : You are a god ! 

Master : Not in that sense. You ask for my 
articles, but that part of me lost its beUef in 
social ideals and died of sorrow. It gave up its 
place to a despot ! 



62 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Companion : To a beautiful despot ! 

Master : And this despot has the audacity to 
affirm that most people are fools and rogues. 
To give them the freedom of which you sing : 
first, there's no reason for it ; and secondly, it's 
harmful, because these gentlemen even in bonds 
are sufficiently dangerous to each other, and in 
their own interests, that is, in the interests of the 
majority, their freedom is undesirable. And 
as Liberals ought to conform in all things with 

the interests of the majority, so {All laugh.) 

Why, you value everything from the point of 
view of justice and utility. Well, there you are : 
from the point of view of justice — there's no 
reason for it, and from the point of view of 
utility — it's harmful. 

Friend {laughs) : Excellent sophistry ! 

Master : All the more as I acknowledge as right 
neither the point of view of justice nor the point 
of view of utility. The point of view of beauty, 
of pleasure — that's how I regard it. 

Friend : But, my dear old chap, if 

Master : Come, don't let's quarrel. 

Friend : Is modern culture really so non-existent ? 
Have you really turned your back on it ? 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 63 

Master : Modern culture ! — H'm. Modern cul- 
ture ! Gad, those damned words turn my hands 
into fists ! I want to roar with rage, I — I want 
to throw the chairs about. Have you not 
noticed how this " modern culture,'' how it's 
destroying beauty ? Can you really look on 
calmly while it prefers the practicability of 
speech to its imagery, the colourless costume to 
the picturesque, while it destroy ceremonies, 

I visits, low bows. In wondrous flowery glades it 
builds black, smoky masses, leads handsome 

1^ peasants there and changes their marvellous song 
into a vicious catch ! — Besides, contrasts are 
necessary for beauty ! Why, it's awful if 

Friend : But, my dear fellow 

Master : And you still want to say that you love 
beauty in all things. Have shame ! The savage 
has more aesthetic understanding. It's all over. 
There will be none rich beyond words, none poor 

P beyond words. Venal love, interested crimes, 

P extravagant Yankee miUionaires, ravings about 
gain, picturesque ragamuffins, all that which is 
so interesting, and gives such beautiful variety 
to our hfe, all is falling into dust, all, all ! — It's 
interesting just to think what contemporary 



64 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

subjects there will be for the artist. Even war, 
even that beautiful calamity is swept away with 
the " no " of modern culture. Oh, this *' modern 
culture " ! You can't imagine a better nursery 
of vulgarity. It is pitiless to all that is most 
beautiful. Why, the picturesque little corners of 
the globe, even they are spoiled with restaurants ! 
Believe me, there will come an hour when Ameri- 
canism, that ideal incarnation of vulgarity, will 
catch up in its paws the last poetical little spot of 
our much-enduring planet and then 

Friend : And then ? 

Master : The death of art — the decadence of 
decadence — the empire of the machine — the 
grandiose factory, and before it an American, in 
a humble pose and boots he cleans himself 

Friend : H'm — the death of art. Therefore all 
manifestations of culture should be annihilated, 
eh ? We ought to look to the Vandals ? Have I 
understood you properly ? 

Master : My dear old fellow, in the matter of 
knowledge of the truth, we people of the twentieth 
century are not so very far from the Vandals, but 
in the matter of destroying all that is most 
beautiful, all that most adorns life, we have 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 65 

surpassed the Vandals without doubt : beautiful 
religion, omnipotent knowledge, pleasurable ethics, 
we laugh at all these, make nothings of them 
and — and our soul, frightened and sad, is ready 
to throw us into acid, into the bed of corruption, 
under the wheels of a locomotive, if only it could 
stifle in itself the consciousness of this inex- 
pressible horror. You understand how greatly 
a man must suffer for whom God has ceased to 
exist, but in whom the religious feeling remains, 
who has lost a reason for fightings but in whom 
both the strength and the desire to fight have 
remained, who wants to possess the truth and 
knows he is desiring to grasp the moon, who wants 
to believe in the magical and the marvellous and 
under whose nose science has swept all magic. 

Friend : But 

Master : I affirm that in man is placed the neces- 
sity for horrors in a greater measure than the 
necessity for deliverance from them. Oh, how 
I want, how I need ghosts and slippery nymphs 
and vampires with terrible red eyes. This has 
been found to be vanity and driven away, but 
at the same time life without it has become still 
vainer. 



66 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Friend : I don't understand ; are you joking 
or 

Master : Woe to him whose aesthetic taste is too 
refined ! Woe to him who, as I, looks into the 
future with bated breath, who desires with all 
his soul, but does not see there the superman. 

Friend : I don't really understand what you're 
looking for ! You want the restoration of the 
long obsolete forms of life. 

Master : My dear friend, although perhaps even 
very highly respected people spread the report 
of my madness, it's not really true. I'm not 
striving for the alteration of social laws. You 
can't alter the inevitable. But if I could only 

1 fight for the beauty of olden life, if I could 
only count upon the very smallest success, how 
happy I should be, with what unweariedness, with 
what ardour I should set to work ! But you 
remember your evangelist said that the social 
movement flows naturally from the historical 
development of society, and, most unfortunately, 
this is irrefutable. I could shout myself hoarse, 
crying, '\Stop ! Whither bound? Go back!" 
I could shout myself hoarse and not be heard. 

Friend : It's amusing to listen to you. 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 67 

Master : One must be a great philosopher to be 

reconciled with actual reality. But I cannot 

be reconciled ; Tm too proud, and to fight with 

ft 
it is out of the question. And I went away from 

that reality, I went away, to lose my despair in 

beautiful folly. 

Friend : Permit me to remark upon this that to 
say that something is beautiful does not mean to 
say it is right, and I, in that case 

Master : Better beautiful and wrong, than right 
and ugly ; in both cases we're a thousand miles 
away from final truth. 

Friend : Yes, but if you judge in that way 

Master : You understand, I was physically unable 
to bear any longer the society of those advanced 
fools. Lord, what a gang ! They poisoned the 
whole air. If I weren't sorry for the trees, I'd 
hang 'em all with my own hands ; I'd drown 
'em all in the sea, if I didn't love the sea, I — I'd 
shove them all over a precipice, if only there were 
a precipice they wouldn't overfill ! Write for 
them ? Write for that mercantile riffraff ? ! 

Friend : But what are you occupied with here ? 
What do you do, cut off from all the world ? 

Master : We're busy with salting, boiling, pickling, 



68 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

drying and soaking. We simply don't see time 
pass : hunting, looking after the estate ; just look 
how many books weVe got, let alone papers ! 

Companion : And did you see the tall tower on our 
house ? WeVe got a telescope and we look at 
the skies for hours. And then riding and walking ? 

Master : If only you saw our wonderful marsh, 
behind the village cemetery. Not only we walk 
there in the dark midnights — little green fires, 
sweetly-sad as we, without direction and with- 
out purpose, move about us and wave 

Companion : We're almost the whole day in the 
fresh air. 

Master : How strong I've got ! What muscles, 

why {To Companion,) Bring a horseshoe 

or a poker and a pack of cards. {Exit Com- 
panion.) What do I do ? There ! read his diary. 

Friend {reads) : '' Diary of daily events." 

Master : Find to-day's date ! 

Friend : Yes, and then ! 

Master : Read more or less what I was occupied 
with to-day. {Pours him out mead.) 

Friend {reads) : ''In the morning I went hunting 
with tolerable success, the reason of which was 
doubly sad thoughts about Anna " 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 69 

Master : That was his aunt. 

Friend : ** Still God is good. I wrote to my friend 
in town to send me another doctor. In the day 
I personally superintended the arrangement of 
the bath-house for the winter. Tarass was to 
dinner.'' 

Master : A neighbour. 

Friend : " We were much diverted with an anec- 
dote made upon an oracle. My aunt felt herself 
so much improved at evening, that she was even 
desirous to be present at a comic performance 
of the house-servants, and they, rejoiced at her 
graciousness, did not spare their efforts to amuse 
and divert her at discretion." 

Master : And this morning I, too, went hunting, 
in the daytime I superintended the dismantling 
of the bath-house, and this evening we, too, shall 
have a comic performance. {Calls.) Grusha ! 
Grusha ! 

Friend : H'm. {Bitterly.) It's all right for you 
to live like this — you've got so much money. 

Master (smo^/s/y) : Yes, it is. I'm not complaining. 

Friend : Pah ! Well, I'm damned ! Your frank- 
ness is very near cynicism. But are you really 
satisfied with such a life ? {Drinks.) 



70 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Master : Agree that it's more beautiful than yours. 

Friend : But the reason for it 

Master : You madden me. What reason ? Can 
you still keep on hugging that '* reason '' ? What ! 
hasn't the senselessness of existence stared you in 
the face yet ? You haven't yet shrunk with 
horror at its look ? Wait, wait ! I had too high 
an opinion of you. The hour will come when it'll 
happen. The hour will come when the demon of 
vengeance will awake in you, the terrible demon 
of vengeance, and when you will want to seize 
the globe like a stone from the street of the 
world and throw it with all your force at the 
great Policeman. {Enter Maid.) 

Friend : Lord, what a passion ! 

Master : A pipe. [Exit Maid.) 

Friend : And you've become a phrase-maker, dear 
old chap. I hope you're not offended at my 
frankness, because 

Master : Come, can we be anything else ? It's 
time at last to recognise that even the cleverest 
of us, the most talented, the most learned, is no 
more than a posing phrase-maker. Aren't we 
all bewitched in a circle of error ; aren't all our 
reasonings the chatter of children ? 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 71 

Friend : But you're not going to deny that the 
love of truth which Hes in us 

Master : But the love of beauty and the love of 
pleasure lie in us too. My dear chap, you busy 
yourself with science and I with hunting, but 

, which is the more important is not for us to 
decide. I have lost the measure of importance 
and, thank God ! I can do whatever comes into 
my mind without pangs of conscience. You 
understand, we've wasted what is most valuable 
of our heritage from our ancestors : credible 
knowledge and sound ethics. Ah ! these lovely 
sisters, these attentive slaves we've gambled 
away for that old rake, Scepticism ! — But they 
have left us, with other old stuff, their gar- 
ments, their grand motley garments, so-called 
'' phrases " and " poses." Yes, my friend, it's 
sad, but it's so : there are only phrases and 
poses left to us. But still, it's good that there's 
something left : we can divert ourselves with 

m these beautiful rags and remember those who 
were clad in them, whom they made so charming. 
To confound you with the charm of the expres- 
sion, I say, *' Let not these rags lie unused in the 

w: wardrobe of our affliction ! " 



72 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Friend : Bravo, bravo ! 

Master : There are left to us only phrases and 
poses ! Well ! Let's love them as dear toys are 
loved. {Maid brings him a pipe.) You smile, 
but (Smokes.) Jokes aside, without meta- 
phors, what is there left credible to us beyond 
self-perception ? {To Maid.) Stop ! {To Friend.) 

'' Do I think it's dull ? " *' Well, " '' Should 

I like to see a lovely body dance among sharp^ 
swords ? " ''I should." There's an example of! 
credibility ! Let my desires be absurd, I like 
them because they are credible for me. Begad, 
just something there's no doubt about ! {To 
Maid.) I want to see the '' Dance on the Wrathful 
Road." Go away, undress and exhibit your art! 

Maid {looking at Friend) : But {Master turns 

to her.) Very well, sir. {Exit.) 

Friend : By Jove, I seem to be asleep again, but 
this time — I don't want to wake up. Your mead 
is incredibly strong. And it seemed to me that 
portrait smiled. Who is it ? 

Master : My grandfather. 

Friend : I thought it was you. {Companion puts 
poker and cards on the table.) 

Master : I am such as he was — I'm made of the 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 73 

same dough ; my soul is as masterly as his was. 
Tm not inferior to him, inferior in no way 
to him, but still Oh ! [Points to Com- 
panion.) Ask her how often I stand before this 
portrait and gnash my teeth with envy, and even 
weep. {Picks up the poker and bends it,) Tell me, 
how have I offended fate ? Why am I deprived 
of the powers and rights and all that importance 
which he had ? And if it had to be so, was it 
really necessary to leave me with a soul like his ? 
Why didn't they tear out of my heart all love 
of power, all masterly pride, all blue-blooded 
caprice ? {Enter Servant,) 

Companion : What do you want ? 

Servant : When do you order supper ? 

Master : In an hour. Tell the Arab boy to be 
quick ! Take up the carpet ! Why is he so long 
with the swords ? And the fool ? Has he gone 
to sleep ? Wake him and tell him to bring the 
tambourines. Then light the chandeliers. And 
don't forget to burn perfumes ! 

Servant : Very well, sir. {Exit.) 

Friend : All the same Fm sure that if you'd lived 
in that time, you'd have taken a most ardent 
part in the movement for emancipation. 



74 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

Master : Quite possibly. Satiated with power, 
stung to the quick by the French, thirsting for 
popularity, taken with the difficulties of the 
problem — Begad, it's so seductive to be a pioneer. 
{Picks lip cards.) Still, I think I should have 
been a reactionary. I don't know what would 
have been, and, what is, oh ! better I didn't ! 
{Tears the pack of cards in halj, Arab boy arranges 
swords jor the dance) 

Companion : Ah ! here's the black boy. 

Master {smiles) : Young sulks ! 

Friend : What do you keep him for ? 

Master : Isn't he interesting ? 

Companion : In his eyes there is so much longing 
for the sultry sun and the sweet palms, that 
beside it our sorrows seem pale and unsub- 
stantial. 

Friend : Excellent ! 

Master (^o Companion) : Play us something. 

Companion {to Friend) : But you like music ? 

Master : He adores it. {To Friend.) Would you 
like to hear Mozart on the clavichord ? 

Friend : Perhaps the andante from the C sharp ? 

Master : I agree. {Goes to the fire and throws away 
the halves of the torn cards.) 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 75 

Friend : Listen. For the last time I ask you to 
come back to us. I can't believe that you could 
K seriously — Lord ! how my head's turning from 
the mead and everything ! 

Master {coolly) : He who is free from too firm 
convictions, who has passed through the school 
of the new Sakya-Muni and the new Zara- 
thustra, who is far too clever to be ashamed to 
talk nonsense, who so resembles an Olympian 
that he is strong enough even to laugh at others' 
misfortunes — tell me on your conscience, what 
should such a man do among wretched, grey, 
blue-eyed neurasthenics, people who to-day or 
to-morrow will become Americans ! 

Friend : H'm. — Certainly, on those conditions — 
H'm — you know, it seems to me, the dramatic 
upshot of your working life would not be so 
terrible if you actually did go mad. 

Master : You think so ? 

Friend : And know this, whether you'll be angry 
with me or not, all the same I'll tell everybody 
at Petersburg that you're mad ! 

Master : What for ? 

Friend : What for ? Can I explain all this to 
them, are they capable of allowing for No, 



76 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 



it's impossible. Well, what shall I tell them 
what shall I tell them ? 

Master : Tell them I'm fastidious — after that it's 
just routine ! Say that I don't want their life ! 
Be it full of all possible happiness, but — life is 
a little twig of lilac seized in the hand in the 
search for happiness, many-leaved happiness. 
Their life is ugly, withered, confused, soiled — in 
short, it's the life of the mob, though perhaps great 
happiness is hidden in it. My life is the twig of 
lilac which no one yet has touched, in which no 
one till me has yet sought his happiness 

Friend : You want them to think I'm laughing at 
them. 

Master : And don't they deserve to be laughed at ? 

Companion [sitting at clavichord) : May I begin ? 

Master : Please ! [Companion flays the andante 
cantabile from Mozart's sonata in C sharp. Friend 
listens enraptured. Master stands by the hearth, 
smiling sadly. After the first few bars of the third 
part of the andante.) 

Friend [as if raving) : Lord ! Oh, my God ! I'm 
asleep — I know it — I'm asleep and can't wake 
up ! Divine Mozart ! You died not long ago ! 
Oh, my head ! What's wrong with my heart ; 



THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT yy 

why are there tears in my eyes ? — Divine Mozart ! 
What was far becomes near — very near. (To 
Master) I know the worth of your words — they 
were all vain — vain — a game, a leap-frog of 
paradoxes, a dazzling firework of crackling 
phrases ! I know you're wrong, I know that well, 
but — my dear fellow — I — I feel for the moment 
as if you were right. D'you hear — I feel I under- 
stand it within my mind and — Fm ashamed, Fm 
absurdly ashamed to be in this grey, this shiny 
jacket. — Oh, my head ! — It's burning, it's drugged 
with the floweriness of your words, the theatrical- 
ness of your poses — it's drunk with the look of 
this room. Your pathos is contagious ! I've 
become like you ! I've made myself a faithful 
mirror. What herbs, what resins are you burn- 
ing ? Flight ! I want to flee from here ! The 
seduction is too great ; my soul has become too 
yielding. I don't want to be infected, I don't 
want to die, and a life like yours is the beginning 
of death. You've heard how men that are being 
hanged or drowning or freezing see magic dreams 
as they die. This sort of life is such a dream ; 
this sort of life is the beginning of death. You 
have separated from us, from all society, from 



78 THE BEAUTIFUL DESPOT 

real life, and an early death is inevitable for 
you ! — It's all the same, whether she comes as 
madness or in her usual guise — it's inevitable, I 
tell you. This strong mead has heated my head ; 
who knows, perhaps it has made me a prophet. — 
An early death is inevitable for you ! D'you 
hear, inevitable ! 

Master : Amen. 

Friend : If you permit, I shall sleep here to-night ; 
I'm too tired, but early to-morrow morning, at 
sunrise, give me horses, the quickest you have. 
{A pause. Companion finishes the andante. 
Master kisses her.) 

Master {passionately) : Hey ! Begin ! Androgyne, 
where are you ? Quick ! {To Companion.) Play ! 
I hke that " Dance of the Wrathful Road." It's 
the path of our life. Oh, don't joke ! even we 
can be serious ! It's the path of our life with 
its fatal dangers ! One must be very clever not 
to suffer on this wrathful road. Play, girl ! 
Grusha, dance ! Begin ! {Companion begins 
Bach's bourree in E sharp. Fool and Arab laugh 
merrily. Enter Maid and begins to dance.) 

(Curtain) 



; THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 
By DENIS VON VIZIN 



CHARACTERS 

Count and Countess Weakhead 
Wisely Flatternot 

The Young Count Nurses 

Countess Folliest Pelican 

Servant 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Scene I 

Countess Weakhead [looking at the time) : It has 
only just struck eight. Why have you risen so 
early, Count ? 

Count : In the country it is a good thing to get up 
a little early. 

Countess : Yes, but not for a count. Your highness 
ought to live like a count ; we do not have to 
manage our affairs ; thank God, we own three 
thousand souls, and it will last our time ; and 
then I am not educated to look after things. 

Count : True, Countess ; and I do not know any- 
one of your father *s line who would be able to 
manage affairs. The line of Whirligigs is noble, 
I agree ; but not one Whirligig can manage 
affairs. 

Countess : Certainly ; I, although not a countess 
in my own right, am, however, of a good family 
G 8i 



82 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

of nobles, and I think that my Une does no dis- 
credit to the Hne of the Counts Weakhead. 

Count : Countess, friend, I rose early to-day 
because I am concerned for the education of our 
Count Basil. Everyone tells me that he should 
now have a tutor : where will you find one here 
in the country ? 

Countess : It seems to me, it would not be a bad 
thing to discuss it with our marshal. Although 
he is not verj^ nice to ladies, yet for Count Basil's 
sake I am ready to speak to him ; I only fear 
that he will give our son as instructor such a 
J bear as himself. I mortally dislike serious 
faces 

Count : I doubt w^hether Mr. Wisely be capable to 
choose an instructor for the son of Count Weak- 
head and his countess, born a Whirligig. 

Countess : However that may be, I have already 
sent for him. I think that our Mr. Wisely will not 
be too proud to visit Count Weakhead. There, 
he has come already. 

Wisely {enters) : You were pleased to send for me, 
and I supposed that you perhaps called me on 
urgent business, and did not delay to come to 
you. 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 83 

Countess : I beg you to take a seat and converse 
with us about a very important matter. 

Wisely {sitting) : What can I do ? 

Count : We have a son of ten years ; we wish to 
give him a tutor. You are our marshal ; be so 
kind, advise us. 

Wisely : The matter is important, certainly, as it 
concerns the education and consequently the 
well-being of a young noble ; but it is not such 
an affair that I need to have come to you. 

Count : I feel that it was my duty to go to you 
myself, but my countess inconsiderately and 
without asking me sent for you ; excuse the 
impatience of a countess. 

Wisely : I am not at all offended ; on the con- 
trary, I am pleased that you would have come to 
me on this business. By my position I know all 
our nobles. Recently I made the acquaintance 
of a gentleman who not long ago bought a small 
village in our district — a Major Flatternot. If 
he were to consent to educate your son, would 
you be pleased ? 

Count {after a pause) : Countess, speak ! 

Countess : A Russian tutor ! I do not like that 
very much. 



84 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Count : Does he know French ? 
J Wisely : Better than many of those Frenchmen 

whom you would be glad to receive in your 

house. 
Count : What is his character ? 
Wisely : His name is Flatternot, and he is quite 

worthy of that name. 
Countess [sotto voce) : A rude fellow, I am sure. 
Wisely : Is it really to be rude not to flatter ? 
Countess : Almost. 
Wisely : Allow me to assure you that from the 

person I recommend as instructor for your son 

you will have neither rudeness nor flattery. 
Count : We, on our side, will neglect nothing to 

show him our respect, and will always call him 

*' Your Honour.'' 
Wisely : That is, you expect him every minute to 

call you '' Your Highness." 
Countess : It seems to me that everyone should 

be given his proper title. 
Wisely: But you consent to call him '' Your 

Honour '' for another reason. 
Count : Which ? 
Wisely : So that all should know that j^our son's 

tutor is a major. 



I 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 85 

Countess : And is that a great thing ? My son is 
a count, and it seems to me that the major is not 
humbhng himself to undertake his education. 

Wisely : Mr. Flatternot certainly will not con- 
sider it a particular honour to be tutor to your 
son ; and if he does consent to undertake this 
fc position, it will be certainty only in order to be 
useful to a brother nobleman. 

Countess : I think, however, that rank is merit. ^ 

Wisely : The least of all human merits. To be 
born a count is not difficult, and one may by 
right of rank be called *' Highness '' without 
^^ having high qualities, such as zealousness to be 
useful to one's country. You, your highness ! 
how have you served the country ? 

Count : I was a subaltern in the Guards, with a 
captain's grade on retirement. 

Wisely : Do not you yourself show the vanity of 
your rank as count ? I wager that your son, if 
he is taught by Mr. Flatternot, will have quite 
1 another sort of ideas, and will be worthy of the 
honour which the path of nature opens to him. 

Count : I was unlucky in my service. I could not 
reach major, and am now obliged to nag about 
the country. 



86 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Countess {sotto voce) : This man is irritating me ! 

If Mr. Flatternot reached major, I think he will 

teach my son to reach the same. 
Wisely : Have no doubt of that ; he will teach 

your son to receive promotion in the service of his 

country, and not by bowing in great gentlemen's 

antechambers. 
Countess : Maid ! Call Count Basil here. 
Maid : He is not pleased to come. 
Count : Ask him from us. [Enter the young Count 

and nurses.) 
Nurse : Come here, Count dear. 
Second Nurse : Please come here, your highness ! 
Third Nusre : Your hand, please, your highness ! 
Young Count [running up to her and giving his 

hand) : There, kiss it. 
Countess : Count Basil, friend, embrace me. 
Young Count [holding out his hand to her) : There, 

mother. [Holding out his hand to Wisely.) There. 
Wisely : I, friend, do not intend to kiss your paw ; 

give it to the Count, your father. 
Count : And I don't want to. 
Young Count : Why ? You kissed it yesterday, 

father. 
Count : Shame before a strange person. 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 87 



Countess : Shame to love one's son ? 

Wisely : Shame to spoil one's son. 

Countess : You see, sir, that we are educating our 
son as seems proper. 

Wisely : I see only that you are driving ever- 
lastingly '' Your Highness " into his head. 

Countess : And it is proper to call him what he is. 

Wisely : He is a child. 

Countess : And of what line ? 

Wisely : A Weakhead. 

Countess : I hope that he has much of his father's 
blood in him. 

Wisely : That is, the Weakheads'. 

Countess : And of his mother's ? {The young Count 
turns away.) 

Wisely : There, that is your line, the Whirligigs. 

Countess : Count Basil is very lovable, is he 

not ? 
, Wisely : I do not know if he is lovable, but I see 
P that he is much loved by you. 

Count : I am curious to be acquainted with Mr. 
Flatternot. When could that be ? 

Wisely : Now, if you wish. 

Countess : You would much oblige us. 

Wisely {going out) : I will drive to him at once. 



88 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Count : I think the marshal will soon bring us Mr. 
Flatternot. 

Countess : I can imagine no good from it, and, to 
t be sure, I should be furious with regret to hand 
N over Count Basil to the hands of a Russian lout, 
like Flatternot. 

Count : It will be in our will to take Flatternot or 
reject him. 

Countess : Count, friend, let us go to our apart- 
ments, that our expected guests should await us 
half an hour and see that they have come to your 
highness. 

Count : For Heaven's sake, don't advise me that, 
if you do not wish to be a widow quickly. 

Countess : But why ? 

Count : Mr. Flatternot, as I see it, is a man of 
merit, and certainly, being a major, does not wish 
to wait in a captain's anteroom ; he will get 
furious and cut me up. 

Countess : He dares not do this before the marshal. 
, Count : Well, you see, madame, that to-day rank 
\ alone is not much respected, and people w^ho 
value it highly are thought fools ; and is Flatter- 
not likely to contain himself for the marshal when 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 89 

Mr. Wisely said to me himself, '' There's no pray- 
ing for fools ? '^ 

Countess : I cherish the hope that we shall get 
through without Flatternot. I received a letter 
to-day from Countess Folliest. She recommends 
me a French tutor, a Mr. Pelican, and we shall 
engage him. 

Count : But first we'll have a look at Flatternot. 

Countess : Maybe ; I consent. 

Servant (entering) : Your highness, the marshal 
has come with a strange gentleman. 

Count: I'll go to meet him; but you. Countess, 
receive them here. 

Scene II 

Count : Countess, this is Mr. Flatternot. Mr. 
Flatternot, my wife. 

Flatternot {kissing Countess s hand) : I recom- 
Pl mend myself to your highnesses' favour as a 
neighbour and nobleman of these parts. 

Count : I beg you to be seated. Our respected 
marshal, no doubt, has already told you of our 
desire, just as we heard from him of your pro- 
posal to take charge of a young nobleman ? 



90 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Flatternot : He has informed me of everything ; 
but beforehand I ought to hear from you your- 
selves what education you intend to give your 
son : what you wish to teach him, and to pre- 
pare him for which service ? 

Count : I wished to hear of this from you. 

Flatternot : I should think to educate his mind 
as is fitting for a nobleman. 

Countess : Of the rank of count ! 

Flatternot : I do not understand ; what differ- 
ence do you find between the rank of nobleman 
and count ? 

Countess : I find, sir, this difference, that a count 
should be more careful than a nobleman that no 
one is lacking in respect of him. 

Count : A count should be more delicate than a 
nobleman on the point of his honour. . . . 
{A page is missing here in the original manuscript.) 

Countess : But I thought that nature and rank 
were the same thing. 

Wisely : You hear, madame, that a natural count 
may be also a natural fool. 

Countess : And so Mr. Flatternot is not pleased 
that our son should know he is a count, and does 
not wish to give him the title of ** Highness." 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 91 

Flatternot : I would not take upon myself the 
sin — do not be angry with me — to turn a little 
boy's head, like your son's, with fancies about his 
countship, highness, and similar folly ; but I shall 
strive hard to set into his head and heart that he, 
being of noble birth, should possess, also, a noble 
mind. 

Countess : And that is not a bad thing. But what 
are you thinking about, Count ? 

Count : I am thinking of what I hear, and can 
think about nothing ; I know it's dinner-time, and 
I beg you, marshal, and you, sir, to dine with me. 

Flatternot : At your service. 

Servant : Dinner is served. 

Count : Come. 

Scene HI 

Countess {alone) : Thank Heaven that dinner is 
over ! I have come here to rest from the con- 
versation of the marshal and Flatternot ; Heaven 
protect us from such fault-finders ! At dinner I 
received a letter from Countess FoUiest ; I did 
not manage to read it ; now I'll r6ad it at my 
leisure. (Reads.) *' Dear Countess, — If you 
wish, you can take Mr. PeHcan now as tutor for 



92 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Count Basil. The Frenchman is full of abilities ; 
he draws teeth expertly and cuts corns." Oh, 
what luck ! He can cut corns too, and I so want 
some one ! '' He will take a moderate salary, 
and will call you. Countess, as well as the Count : 
votre altesse ! " {Enter Count.) 

Countess : Oh, my dear Count ! Countess Folliest 
is doing us a great favour ; she has found a tutor 
for Count Basil who can also draw teeth and cut 
corns ; and, what is most important, he will call 
us : votre altesse ! 

Count : What could be better ? [Enter Wisely and 
Flatternot.) 

Count : What would you wish to teach my son ? 

Flatternot : First of all, the principles of the 
faith in which he was born. 

Countess : And dancing ? 

Flatternot : You are pleased to joke. 

Count : And what foreign languages ? 

Flatternot : I begin with Latin. 

Countess : But is he to be a priest ? 

Flatternot : But is Latin only fit for priests ? 

Count : I do not know why a count's son should 
learn Latin. 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 93 

Flatternot : Because it is the root of many 

languages. 
Countess : Well, I never. 
Count {to her) : Do not forget to send an answer 

quickly to Countess Folliest. 
Countess : At once. We will come back at once. 

Excuse us that we have to send off a postilion to 

our neighbour. 
Flatternot : At your service. {Exeunt Cotmt and 

Countess.) 
Wisely : Do you find the Count's household as I 

described it to you ? 
Flatternot : Exactly. But it seems to me I am 

already beginning to be a burden to them. 
Wisely : Yes, and they do not seem to be' very 

contented with me. {To Servant.) Have my 

carriage got ready, friend. {To Flatternot.) We 

can go away at once. 
Countess {entering, to Count) : I have invited the 

Countess herself with Pelican ; maybe Count 

Basil will have a tutor after our heart. 
Count {aloud) : Here we are, gentlemen. We have 
I hurried back to enjoy your conversation. 
Flatternot : A great honour. 



94 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Countess : I wanted to ask you, Mr. Wisely, do 
you think it would be good to send our son to 
France in ten years' time ? 

Wisely : You are looking far ahead, madame. We 
do not know whether in ten years' time there 
will be anyone to send or anyone to send 
him to. 

Flatternot : And I say in addition that we cannot 
foresee whether in ten years' time France itself 
will exist if the French gentlemen do not soon 
cease their runnings about. 

Wisely : There is what a kingdom has come to, 
which all Europe for so many years has wished to 
imitate in everything. When I read descriptions 
of the ruinous condition of France, I should like 
to know against which political rule the French 
aim in establishing equality of condition. 

Count : I do not understand it. 

Wisely {to Flatternot) : I have not happened to 
speak with you of this ; I should like to know 
your opinion of it. 

Flatternot : I do not undertake at all to decide 
your question ; but I am ready to offer my 
opinion for your judgment. Here it is : nowhere 
and neverlhave been^or can be such laws as would 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 95 

make every individual man happy. It is indis- 
pensably necessary that one part of the subjects 
should sacrifice something for the sake of the 
whole kingdom ; consequently there cannot be 
equality of position. That is the invention of 
the lying philosophers who by their eloquent 
intellectualisms have led the French to their 
present situation. They, desiring to avert the 
abuse of power, are endeavouring to destroy the 
form of government by which France has at- 
tained all her glory. For all this, however much 
the attempt may and will cost them, they will 
never attain an equality of situation, whatever 
laws they make ; for one part of the subjects will 
always require the sacrifice of another. That is 
what I think of the present French legislation. 

Wisely : But if there cannot be laws to make 
every individual man happy, then what sort of 
legislation is left ? 

Flatternot : It remains to calculate that the 
number of sacrifices should be proportionate to 
the number of those for whose happiness sacrifices 
are made. 

Wisely : So a legislator ought to be a great 
calculator. 



96 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Flatternot : But these political calculations de- 
mand a far more excellent mind than is wanted 
for mathematical calculations. You can value 
a hundred Eulers for one Colbert and a thousand 
Colberts for one Montesquieu. 

Wisely : But why ? 

Flatternot : Because in mathematics from one 
certainty one goes on to another mechanically, so 
to speak, and the mathematician has before him 
all the discoveries of his predecessors ; he needs 
to have only patience and ability to use them ; 
but previous discoveries do not lead the politician 
on the right path. The mathematician reckons 
with figures, the politician with passions ; in a 
word, the political sense is and ought to be 
incomparably higher and is much more rarely 
met with than the mathematical. 

Wisely : Oh, how blessed is that land where 
such a rare political sense sits upon the 
throne ! 

Flatternot : And how happy those who are 
citizens of such a land ! {To the Count.) Of 
what are you thinking. Count ? 

Count : I do not understand anything of what you 
both were talking about. 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 97 

Wisely : And have you heard that there are now 

no counts in France ? 
Countess : That is almost incredible ; I did hear 

something, but I could not believe it. 
Wisely : Do you really not understand the French 

troubles ? 
Count : I believe that they are great if they put 

counts on the same level as other people. 
Flatternot : When your son goes to France, he 

will not be a count. 
Countess : Then I shall not send him there — not 

for anything ! 
Servant [enters] : Countess Folliest has been pleased 

to come, with a stranger. 
Countess : I go to meet the benefactress of our 

house. {Countess Folliest enters.) 
Both Countesses : Your highness ! 
Countess Folliest : I present Mr. PeHcan to you. 
Pelican {grimacing) : Votre altesse ! 
Countess Folliest : Here is a tutor for your son, 

dear Countess. 
Pelican {grimacing) : Votre altesse ! 
Wisely : I know that ugly face. 
Pelican {sees Wisely and runs away, shrieking) : I 

don't want be here^ I don't ! 

H 



98 THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 

Countess Folliest : What has happened to hir 

Wisely: I will solve the riddle for you. Th| 
empty-headed Frenchman was a nurse's assista^ 
in an almshouse in France ; he can draw teetf 
and cut corns — nothing else. He came to Russia, 
and I found him in another neighbourhood, where 
I have an estate, among the teachers of young 
noblemen. I considered it my duty to inform i 
the Governor of this, and he, thinking such vaga- 
bonds harmful to the country, cleared him out 
on my representation, and therefore, when he 
saw me here, he ran away, fearing evidently that 
I shall clear him out by the neck again. How- 
ever that may be, I shall see the Governor to- 
morrow and endeavour to remove him from our 
district in twenty- four hours. 

Countess : Marshal, moderate your strictness at 
our request. 

Wisely : Countess, you are free to follow or not 
follow my advice as to the education of your son 
by the person I have introduced to you; but I, 
as marshal of the nobility, cannot endure that 
such a rascal should be in our midst to corrupt 
the hearts and heads of young noblemen. 

Countess [to herself) : If J had thought, by sending 



THE CHOICE OF A TUTOR 99 

for the marshal to find an instructor for our son, 
we would lose through him a competent tutor 
who would come into the room and give us our 
due at once by calling me and my husband, votre 
altesse ! 

Countess Folliest : Why is the marshal at your 
house ? 

Flatternot : I came here on the invitation of the 
marshal, who is zealous for the advantage of 
noblemen ; but now I shall not consent for any- 
thing in the world to be the instructor of a boy 
whose parents are infected entirely by fancies 
about rank. 

Wisely [to Count and Countess) : Your humble 
servant ! In advance, do not expect me again. 

Count : As you wish. 

Countess : Countess, let us go to our apartments. 
[Exeunt Count and Countesses.) 

Flatternot : Queer people ! Tell me, what guides 
their thoughts and deeds ? 

Wisely : What guides them ? Silly pride. 

(Curtain) 



THE WEDDING 
By ANTON CH^HOV 



CHARACTERS 

Aplombov Dashenka 

JiGALOv Mrs. Jigalov 

Miss Zmewkin Yat 

DiMBA MOZGOVY 

Captain Revunov-KarayiJlov 
M.C. Newnin 

Guests Waiters 



THE WEDDING 

{A brightly lit room, with a big table laid for supper. 
Around the table bustle waiters in frock-coats. The 
last figure of a quadrille can be heard. Enter Miss 
Zmewkin — accoucheuse, thirty years old, in a bright 
scarlet dress — Mr, Yat, and the Master of Cere- 
monies, They pass across the stage.) 

Zmewkin : No ! No ! No ! 

Yat {following) : Be merciful ! Be merciful ! 

Zmewkin : No ! No ! No ! 

Master of Ceremonies {hurrying after them) : 
Please, you mustn't, you mustn't ! Where are 
you going ? But the grand-chain, silvooplay. 
{Exeunt. Enter Mrs. N astasia Jigalov, mother of 
the bride, and Aplombov, the bridegroom.) 

Nastasia : Instead of worrying me with all your 
talk, you'd do better to go and dance ! 

Aplombov : I'm not Spinosa anyhow, to make 
cracknels of my legs. I'm a man of position and 
103 



104 THE WEDDING 

character, and I don't find any distraction in 
empty pleasures. But this has nothing to do with 
dancing. Excuse me, Mama, but I don't under- 
stand a lot of your behaviour. For instance, 
besides all the things for the house, you promised 
to give me your two lottery-tickets with your 
daughter. Where are they ? 

Nastasia : How my head aches ! — If this weather 
keeps on, there ought to be a thaw. 

Aplombov : You won't wear my teeth out with 
talking ! I found out to-day that your tickets 
were pledged at the bank. Excuse me. Mama, 
but only exploiters behave like that. Now, I'm 
not speaking from selfishness — I don't want your 
tickets ! — but from principle ; I don't let any- 
body deceive me. I've made your daughter 
happy, and, if you don't hand me over those 
tickets to-day, I'll eat your daughter with 
pudding ! I'm a man of noble feelings. 

Nastasia {looking at the table and counting the 
places) : One, two, three, four, five 

Servant : The cook wants to know how you order 
the ices to be served, with rum, with madeira, 
or without anything. 

Aplombov : With rum. And tell the proprietor 



THE WEDDING 105 

there's only a little wine. Tell him to send up 
some Haut-Sauterne. (To N astasia.) And you 
promised and we agreed that a general would be 
at the supper to-night. Where is he, I should like 
to know. 

Nastasia : It's not my fault, my dear ! 

Aplombov : Whose, then ? 

Nastasia : Andrew's fault. Yesterday he was 
here and promised to bring a real general. (Sighs.) 
He can't have found one or he'd have brought 
him. You don't think we begrudge the expense ? 
We grudge our children nothing. But, after all, 
what's a general ! 

Aplombov : Well again, surely you knew. Mama, 
that this telegraph fellow, Yat, was running after 
Dashenka until I proposed to her ? Why did 
you invite him ? Didn't you really know that 
he's an enemy of mine ? 

Nastasia : Oh, Epaminondas, what's the matter 
,j with you ? The wedding-day isn't over yet and 

it already you're tiring me and Dashenka to death 
f. with your talking. What will it be like as time 

goes on ? You're wearisome, wearisome. 
Aplombov : It isn't nice to hear the truth ? Ha, 
ha. There you are. But act nobly ! Only one 



io6 THE WEDDING 



thing I ask of you — be noble ! {Through the room, 
from one door to the other couples pass, dancing the 
grand-chain. The first couple is Dashenka and the 
Master of Ceremonies, behind them Yat and Z mew- 
kin. They stop dancing and stay in the room. 
Enter Jigalov and Dimba, and go to the table,) 

Master of Ceremonies : Promenade ! Messieurs, 
promenade ! {Off.) Promenade ! {Exeunt the 
couples,) 

Yat : Be merciful ! Be merciful, enchanting Miss 
Zmewkin ! 

Zmewkin : Oh ! what a man you are ! Tve told 
you already I'm not in voice. 

Yat : I entreat you, sing ! Only one note ! Be 
merciful ! Only one note ! 

Zmewkin : I'm tired. {Sits down and fans her- 
self) 

Yat : No, you're simply pitiless ! Such an in- 
human creature, permit me to use the expression, 
and such a wonderful, wonderful voice. With a 
voice like that, excuse the expression, you ought 
not to be an accoucheuse, but singing at public 
concerts. For instance, how divinely the trills 
emerge from you in that one {sings) : "I loved 
you, my love is yet in vain." — Wonderful ! 



THE WEDDING 107 

Zmewkin (sings) : ''I loved you, perhaps I still 
may love/' — That one ? 

Yat : That's the one ! Wonderful ! 

Zmewkin : No, I'm not in voice to-day. Take my 
fan, fan me ; it's so hot. {To Aplombov.) Why 
are you so melancholy ? Can a bridegroom really 
be like that ? Aren't you ashamed, you con- 
trary man ? What are you thinking about ? 

Aplombov : Marriage is a serious step. You 
have to consider everything from all points of 
view 

Zmewkin : How contrary you all are ! What 
sceptics ! Beside you I feel stifled ! Give me 
atmosphere ! Do you hear ? Give me atmo- 
sphere ! (Sings,) 

Yat : Wonderful. Wonderful ! 

Zmewkin : Fan me, fan me ! I feel my heart is 
just going to break. Tell me, please ; why do 
I feel so hot ? 

Yat : Because you perspire. 

Zmewkin : Pfui ! What a vulgar creature you are ! 
Don't dare speak to me like that ! 

Yat : I beg your pardon. You have been used, I 
know, to, excuse the expression, aristocratic 
company, and 



lo8 THE WEDDING 

Zmewkin : Oh ! let me be ! Give me poetry, 
ecstasy ! Fan me ! Fan me ! 

JiGALOV {to Dimha) : We'll have another, eh ? I 
can drink any time. The chief thing, Dimba, 
is not to forget one's affairs. Drink, and under- 
stand your affairs ! And as for drinking, why 
not drink ? Drinking's allowed ; your health ! 
{Drinks.) Tell me, have you got tigers in Greece ? 

DiMBA : Yes. 

JiGALOV : And lions ? 

Dimba : Yes, lions too. In Russia there is 
nothing, but in Greece everything. My father's 
there and my uncle and my brothers, and here 
nothing. 

JiGALOV : But have you got whales in Greece ? 

Dimba : We've everything there. 

Nastasia {to her husband) : Why all this random 
drinking and eating ? It's time we all sat down. 
Don't stick a fork in the lobster ! It's for the 
general. Perhaps he'll come after all. 

JiGALOV : Have you got lobsters in Greece ? 

Dimba : Yes, we've everything there. 

Zmewkin : I'm just thinking — what atmosphere in 
Greece ! 

JiGALOV : And probably a lot of trickery. Greeks 



THE WEDDING 109 

are all just the same as Armenians and gypsies. 
They'll give you a sponge or a goldfish, but all 
the time they're watching their chance to relieve 
you of your superfluities. We'll have another, 
eh? 

Nastasia : What are all these anothers ? It's 
time we all sat down. It's twelve o'clock. 

JiGALOV : Sit down, then, sit down ! {Calls,) 
Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly entreat you. 
Please. Supper ! Young people ! 

Nastasia : Welcome, dear guests. Be seated. 

Zmewkin {sits at the table) : Give me poetry ! '' But 
ah ! the rebel, sought the storm, as in the storm 
were peace." Give me storm ! 

Yat {aside) : Remarkable woman ! I'm in love — 
up to the ears in love ! {Enter the company. They 
take their seats noisily at the table ; a minute's 
pause, the band plays a march.) 

MozGOVY {in the uniform of a naval volunteer, 
rising) : Ladies and gentlemen ! I must tell you 
this ; there are many toasts and speeches waiting 
for us. We won't wait. We'll begin at once. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to drink a toast 
to the bride and bridegroom. {The band plays a 
flourish. " Htirrah ! " Clinking of glasses.) 



no THE WEDDING 

MozGOVY : It's bitter ! 

All : Bitter ! Bitter ! [Aplombov and Dashenka 
kiss.) 

Yat : Wonderful, wonderful ! I must express to 
you, ladies and gentlemen, with the utmost 
veracity, that this room and the place in general 
are magnificent. Superlatively enchanting. — 
But do you know why it does not partake of a 
complete triumph ? There's no electric light, 
excuse the expression. Electric light has been 
introduced already in all countries ; only Russia 
is left behind. 

JiGALOV {thoughtfully) : Electric— h'm. But to my 
idea, electric light is just trickery. They put a 
little bit of coal there and think they can deceive 
your eyes with it. No, friend, if you give light, 
then don't give coal, but something real, some- 
thing special, something you can take hold of. 
Give a light, you understand, a light which is 
something and not simply an idea. 

Yat : If only you were to see what an electric 
battery is composed of, you'd think differently. 

JiGALOV : I don't want to see it. Trickery ! They 
deceive simple folk, and squeeze them to the last 
drop. We know that sort of people. And you. 



THE WEDDING iii 

you ig man, instead of defending trickery, would 
have done better to drink and pour out for others. 
That's the truth ! 

Aplombov : I quite agree with you, dear papa. 
Why introduce scientific discourses ? I myself 
am ready to speak about certain discoveries, 
but then there's another time for that. {To 
Dashenka.) What's your opinion, ma chere ? 

Dashenka : They like to show their education and 
always speak about something one can't under- 
stand. 

Nastasia : Heavens ! We have lived our time 
without education, and now we're marrying our 
third daughter to a fine husband. If you think 
we are uneducated, why do you come to us? 
Be off with your education ! 

Yat : Madame, I always take your family into con- 
sideration, and if I spoke about electric light it 
does not signify that I did so from pride. Your 
healths ! I always with all my heart wished 
Dashenka a good husband. It is hard nowadays, 
Madame, to find a good man. Nowadays every- 
one watches his chance to marry for interest, for 
money^ 

Aplombov ; That is an insinuation ! 



112 THE WEDDING 

Yat {fearfully) : No, there's no allusion to any- 
body ! I'm not speaking of present company. 
I was speaking just in general — please ! I know 
well that you married for love and the dowry's 
nothing. 

N ASTASIA : No, it isn't nothing ! Don't forget your- 
self, sir, when you speak ! Beside a thousand 
roubles in actual coin, we are giving three sets 
of furs, bedding and all the furniture. Just see if 
other people give dowries like that. 

Yat : I don't mean anything — the furniture is 
really beautiful and — and the furs certainly — but 
I mean they took offence that I made insinua- 
tions. 

Nastasia : Don't make insinuations ! We respect 
you for your parents and we invited you to the 
wedding, but you say all sorts of things. And 
if you knew that Epaminondas was marrying for 
interest, why did you say nothing beforehand ? 
{Weeps.) Perhaps — I have nourished her and 
cared for her and looked after her — I should have 
guarded better my emerald, my jew^el, my 
daughter 

Aplombov : You believe him ? I most humbly 
thank you ! I'm very grateful indeed to you. 



THE WEDDING 113 

{To Yat.) As for you, Mr. Yat, although you are 
an acquaintance of mine, I don't allow you to 
behave so badly in a strange house. Have the 
goodness to go away ! 

Yat : What's the matter ? 

Aplombov : I wish you were as honourable as I 
am ! In short, have the goodness to go away ! 

Gentlemen {to Aplombov) : Now, stop ! Remember 
where you are ! Never mind ! Sit down ! Stop ! 

Yat : I didn't mean anything — You know, I — I 
don't understand. Excuse me, I'm going. Only 
give me first the five roubles you owe me from 
last year for the waistcoat, excuse the expres- 
sion. Your health again and — and I'm going ; 
only first pay me what you owe. 

Gentlemen : Now, let it be, let it be. Enough ! 
Is all this nonsense worth while ? 

Master of Ceremonies {loudly) : To the health 
of the parents of the bride, Mr. and Mrs. Jigalov ! 
{Band plays a flourish, " Hurrah J') 

Jigalov {bows with emotion on all sides) : Thank 
you, dear guests. I am very grateful to you not 
to have forgotten us and to have been good enough 
not to ignore us. And don't think I've got crafty 
in my old age, or that there's any trickery ; I say 
I 



114 THE WEDDING 

simply my feelings, from the bottom of my heart. 

I grudge nothing to good people. We humbly 

thank you. {Kisses all round,) 
Dashenka {to her mother) : Mama dear, why are you 

crying ? I am so happy. 
Aplombov : Mama is upset at the separation. But 

I would advise her instead to remember our 

recent conversation ! 
Yat : Don't cry, Madame ! You think that such 

tears are natural ? Not at all, simply a low- 
spirited nervous system 

JiGALOV : And are there chestnuts in Greece ? 
DiMBA : Yes, there's everything there. 
JiGALOV : But not mushrooms. 
DiMBA : Yes, mushrooms too. Everything ! 
MozGOVY : Mr. Dimba, it's your turn to make a 

speech. Ladies and gentlemen, allow Mr. Dimba 

to make a speech. 
All {to Dimba) : Speech ! Speech ! Your turn ! 
Dimba : What for ? I don't understand what — 

what's the matter ? 
JiGALOV : No, no ! Don't dare refuse ! It's your 

turn ! Up you get ! 
Dimba {rises in confusion) : I can say — Russia is 

one thing and Greece is another. Now the people 



THE WEDDING 115 

in Greece are one thing, and the people in Russia 
are another. And the *' karavia *' which sail on 
the sea you call ships, and those that go on land 
you call railways — I understand well. We are 
Greeks, you are Russians, and I want nothing — 
I can say — Russia is one thing and Greece is 
another. [Enter Newnin.) 

Newnin : Stop, ladies and gentlemen, don't go on 
eating ! Wait a little ! Madame, just half a 
minute ! Please come here ! [Takes Nastasia 
aside, breathlessly) Listen, the general's just 
coming. At last I've found one. I was simply 
in agony. A real general, in the flesh, old, eighty, 
perhaps, or ninety, years old — — 

Nastasia : When is he coming ? 

Newnin : This very moment. You'll be grateful 
to me all your life. He's not a general, he's a 
peach ! A marvel ! Not any foot regiment, not 
infantry at all, but navy ! In rank he's a second- 
grade captain, and with them, in the navy, that's 
just the same as a field-marshal or, in civil rank, 
a privy councillor. Absolutely the same ! Even 
higher ! 

Nastasia : You're not deceiving me, Andrew ? 

Newnin : Now, am I a rascal ? Don't you worry. 



ii6 THE WEDDING 

Nastasia (sighing) : I don't want to waste money, 
Andrew. 

Newnin : Don't you worry. He's not a general, 
he's a work of art ! (Raises his voice.) And I 
said to him, " You've quite forgotten us, your 
excellency," I said. '' It's not right, your ex- 
cellency, to forget old friends ! Mrs. Jigalov is 
very angry with you," I said. (Goes to table and 
sits down.) And he said, *' My dear friend, how 
can I go if I am not a friend of the bridegroom's ? " 
" Oh, that's being too much, your excellency," I 
said. " What ceremonies ! The bridegroom," 
I said, *' is a most charming, open-hearted man. 
To be working with an appraiser at the bank, 
you don't think, your excellency, this is a young 
good-for-nothing. Why," I said, '* nowadays 
even noble ladies work at banks." He clapped 
me on the shoulder, I smoked a Havana with him, 
and now he's coming. Wait just a moment, 
ladies and gentlemen, don't go on eating ! 

Aplombov : And when is he coming ? 

Newnin : This moment. When I left him, he was 
already putting on his goloshes. Wait just a 
moment, ladies and gentlemen, don't go on 
eating ! 



THE WEDDING 117 

Aplombov : We must tell them to play a march. 

Newnin (loudly) : Hey, musicians ! A march ! 
(Band plays a march.) 

Servant (announcing) : Mr. Revunov-Karayiilov ! 
(Jigalov, Nastasia, and Newnin run to meet him. 
Enter Revunov-Karayulov.) 

Nastasia : Welcome, welcome, your excellency. 
Very kind 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : Extremely ! 

Jigalov : Your excellency, we are not eminent, 
not exalted people, but simple folk ; but do not 
think there is any trickery on our side. There is 
always the first place in our house for good 
people ; we grudge them nothing. Welcome ! 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : Extremely pleased ! 

Newnin : Allow me to introduce the bridegroom, 
Mr. Aplombov, your excellency, and his newly- 
born — I mean, newly-wed — ^wife ! And this is 
Mr. Yat, of the telegraph. This is Mr. Dimba, a 
foreign gentleman of Greek nationality, in the 
confectionery profession. And so on, and so on — 
the rest are all — rubbish. Take a seat, your 
excellency. 

Revunov-Karayijlov : Extremely ! Excuse me, 
ladies and gentlemen, I just want to say two 



ii8 THE WEDDING 

words to Andrew. {Takes Newnin aside.) I'm a 
little confused, my friend. Why did you call me 
" your excellency '' ? I'm not a general, I'm a 
second-grade captain, and that's lower than a 
colonel. 

Newnin {shouts in his ear) : Oh, yes, yes, I 
know, but allow us to call you '* your excel- 
lency " ! The family here, you know, is patri- 
archal, it respects the aged, it loves respect for 
rank. 

Revunov-Karayi5lov : Well, if that's the case, 
then by all means ! {They go to the table.) Ex- 
tremely ! 

N ASTASIA : Take a seat, your excellency. Be so 
kind ! Take something to eat, your excellency. 
Only excuse us, at home you must be used to 
everything elegant, but with us it's all simple. 

Revunov-KarayiJlov {hearing badly) : What ? 
H'm — Oh, yes. {Pause.) Oh, yes. In the old 
times people always lived simply and were satis- 
fied. I am a man with a certain rank and yet I 
live simply. To-day Andrew came to me and 
invited me to the wedding. '* How can I go," I 
said, '' if I don't know them ? It's not the proper 
thing." But he said, " These are simple people. 



THE WEDDING 119 

patriarchal, pleased to welcome guests/' '' Well/' 
I said, *' by all means, if that's the case ! Why 
not ? Very glad. It's dull for me at home alone, 
and if my presence at the wedding can cause any 
pleasure, so do me the favour," said I. 

JiGALOV : You really mean it, your excellency ? 
I esteem you for it. I'm a simple man myself, 
without any trickery, and I esteem such people. 
Take something to eat, your excellency. 

Aplombov : You have been long retired, your 
excellency ? 

Revunov-Karayijlov : Eh ? Oh, yes, yes, that's 
so. True. Yes. But excuse me, what's all this ? 
Bitter herrings and bitter bread ! One can't eat 
anything ! 

All : Bitter ! Bitter ! {Aplombov and Dashenka 
kiss.) 

Revunov-Karayi5lov : Hee, hee, hee. Your 
healths {Pause.) Yes ! In the old days all 
was simple and everyone was satisfied. I love 
simplicity. I'm an old man ; I retired in '65 ; 
I'm seventy-two years old. {Sees Mozgovy.) 
You're a sailor, then ? 

Mozgovy : Yes, I am. 

Revunov-Karayijlov : Aha ! So ! Yes ! Service 



120 THE WEDDING 

at sea was always hard. There are things to 
ponder and split your head about. Every in- 
significant word has, so to speak, its separate 
meaning. For instance — ^the fore-topman in the 
shrouds on the top-gallant lashings ! What does 
that mean ? A sailor understands ! Hee, hee. 
Now Where's your mathematics ! 

Newnin : The health of his excellency. Captain 
Revunov-Karayiilov ! {Band plays a flourish. 
'' Hunahr) 

Yat : Your excellency, you were pleased just now 
to express yourself on the subject of the hard- 
ness of naval service. But tell me if the tele- 
graph's any easier ? Nowadays, your excellency, 
no one can enter the telegraph service unless he 
can read and write French and German. But the 
hardest thing we have to do is the transmission 
of telegrams. Terribly hard. Please listen a 
moment. [Raps with a fork on the table, imitating 
a telegraphic apparatus.) 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : What's that ? 

Yat : That's for : I esteem you, your excellency, 
for your virtues. You think it's easy ? And 
again. {Raps.) 

Revunov-KarayiJlgv : Louder. I can't hear you. 



THE WEDDING 121 

Yat : And that's for : Madame, how happy I am 
to clasp you in my embraces ! 

Revunov-Karayijlov : What lady ? Yes. {To 
Mozgovy.) And then, suppose it's blowing half 
a gale and youVe got — youVe got to hoist the 
foretop halliards and the tops'l gallants. You 
must give the order : " Mount the rigging to the 
foretop halliards and the topsl gallants,'' and at 
the same time as they loose the sails on the stays, 
below they are standing to the main lashings and 
the tops'l gallant halliards 

Master of Ceremonies {rising) : Dear ladies and 
gentle 

Revunov-Karayijlov {breaking in) : Yes ! A few 
other commands ? Yes ! To furl the foretop 
halliards and the tops'l gallants ! Good ? Now 
what does that mean, what's the meaning of it ? 
It's very simple. To furl, you know, the foretop 
halliards and the tops'l gallants and hoist the 
mains'l — all at once ! They must level the fore- 
topmains and the tops'l gallant halliards on the 
hoist ; at the same time, there's the necessity of 
strengthening the braces of all the sails ; and 
when the stays are taut and the braces raised 
all round, then the foretop halliards and the 



122 THE WEDDING 

tops'l gallants, settling conformably with the 
direction of the wind 

Newnin : Your excellency, the host begs you to 
speak of something else. The guests don't under- 
stand all this, and it's dull. 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : What ? Who's dull ? (2^o 
Mozgovy.) Young man, suppose the vessel is 
lying by the wind, on the starboard course, under 
full stretch of canvas, and you have to bring her 
over before the wind ? What orders must you 
give ? Why, this : Whistle all hands on deck 
for a tack across before the wind. Hee, hee ! 

Newnin : Yes, yes ! Take something to eat. 

Revunov-Karayulov : Just as they all come 
running out, at once you give the command : 
*' Stand to stations for a tack across before the 
wind ! " Ah ! That's life ! You give the order 
and watch how the sailors, like lightning, run to 
their places and adjust the lashings and the 
halliards. You finish by shouting out, " Bravo, 
my fine fellows." (Shouts and chokes.) - 

Master of Ceremonies [hastens to take advantage 
of the probable pause) : On this day, to-day, so to 
speak, on which we are collected together here to 
do honour to our beloved 



THE WEDDING 123 

Revunov-KarayiJlov [breaking in) : Yes ! Yes ! 
And all this has to be remembered. For instance, 
halliard-royals, tops'l gallants 

Master of Ceremonies (offended) : What's he in- 
terrupting for ? We can't say a single word. 

N ASTASIA : We ignorant people, your excellency, do 
not understand anything of this. But tell us 
instead something to please 

Revunov - Karayi5lov (misunderstanding) : I've 
just eaten some, thank you. You said '* cheese,*' 
did you not ? Thank you. Yes ! I was recalling 
old times. But certainly it's fine, young man. 
" If you sail on the sea, you'll know no care." 
(With a trembftng voice.) You recollect the 
delight of tacking in a gale ? What seaman does 
not light up at the recollection of this manoeuvre ? 
The very moment the command resounds, " Pipe 
all hands aloft," an electric spark seems to fly 
over everybody. From the commander to the 
lowest sailor — all tremble with excitement 

Zmewkin : O, how dull ! How dull ! (General 
murmur,) 

Revunov-Karayi5lov (misunderstanding) : Thank 
you, I have had some. {With rapture,) Everyone 
gets ready and turns his eyes on the first officer. 



124 THE WEDDING 

" Stand to the gallants and starboard tops'l 
braces, and the port main braces, and port 
counter-braces,'* orders the first officer. All is 
accomplished in a moment ; halliard royals and 
tops'l lashings heaved. All right on board ! 
(Stands up.) Off flies the vessel in the wind and 
at last the sails begin to get wet. The first 
officer cries, " The braces, don't dawdle at the 
braces," and fixes his eyes on the maintop, and 
when at last the tops'l gets wet, at that moment 
the vessel begins to tack, and you hear the loud 
command, " Loose the maintop halliards, let go 
the braces,'' then everything flies off with a crack 
— like the Tower of Babel — and all is accom- 
plished without a fault. You've tacked ! 

N ASTASIA (bursting out) : But, General, you're 
being unpleasant ! You ought to know better, 
at your age ! You're unpleasant ! 

Revunov-Karayijlov : Pheasant ? No, I haven't 
had any. Thank you. 

Nastasia (loudly) : I said, you're being unpleasant ! 
You ought to know better, at your age. General. 

Newnin (agitated) : Now, come — there, there. 
Really 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : For the first thing, I'm not 



THE WEDDING 125 

a general, but a second-grade captain, which 
corresponds on the list to a lieutenant-colonel 

Nastasia : Then, if you're not a general, why did 
you take the money ? And we didn't pay you 
money for you to be unpleasant. 

Revunov-Karayijlov {perplexed) : What money ? 

Nastasia : You know what money ! You received 

through Mr. Newnin twen [To Newnin,) 

But it's your fault, Andrew. I didn't ask you 
to hire such a man. 

Newnin : Now, there — let it be ! Is it worth 
while ? 

Revunov-KaraytJlov : Hired — paid — ^what's this ? 

Aplombov : But excuse me. You received the 
twenty-five roubles from Mr. Newnin ? 

Revunov-Karayi5lov : What twenty-five roubles ? 
(Ponders,) Ah! I see ! Now I understand every- 
thing. How disgusting ! How disgusting ! 

Aplombov : Then you did receive the money ? 

Revunov-KarayiJlov : I received no money at 
all ! Off with you ! {Leaves the table,) How dis- 
gusting ! How low ! To affront an old man, a 
sailor, an officer of merit ! If this were decent 
society, I'd challenge you to a duel, but now what 
can I do ? {Muddled.) Where's the door ? 



126 THE WEDDING 

Which is the way out ? Waiter ! Show me out ! 
Waiter ! How low ! How disgusting ! {Exit.) 

Nastasia : Andrew, where are those twenty-five 
roubles ? 

Newnin : Come, is it worth while to speak of such 
trifles ? Everybody else is gay, but you, Heaven 
knows why — {Shouts.) To the health of the young 
people ! Musicians, play a march ! Musicians ! 
{Band begins to play a march.) To the health of 
the young people ! 

Zmewkin : I feel stifled ! Give me atmosphere ! 
Beside you I feel stifled ! 

Yat {in an ecstasy) : Wonderful woman ! Wonder- 
ful woman ! {The noise gets louder.) 

Master of Ceremonies {stands and shouts) : Dear 
ladies and gentlemen ! On this day, to-day, so 

to speak 

(Curtain) 



THE JUBILEE 
By ANTON CH^HOV 



CHARACTERS 

Shipuchin Tatiana 

HiRiN Mrs. Merchutkin 

Managers 



THE JUBILEE 

{Scene : The managing director's study at a bank, 
furnished with affected sumptttousness. Velvet- 
covered furniture, flowers, statues, rugs, telephone. 
Midday, Hirin, the bookkeeper, is alone.) 

HiRiN [shouts at the door) : Go to the chemist's and 
get three ha'penny worth of nerve tonic, and 
tell them to bring some fresh water to the direc- 
tor's study. I've got to tell you a hundred times ! 
[Goes to table,) I'm tired out. I've been writing 
for four days without closing my eyes ; from 
morning to evening I'm writing here, and from 
evening to morning, at home. [Coughs.) My 
whole body's inflamed. Shivering, fever, cough- 
ing ; I've got rheumatism in my legs, things keep 
coming in front of my eyes. [Sits down.) Our old 
joker, this brute, this managing director, is going 
to read the report to-day at the general meeting : 
*' Our bank at the present moment and in time to 
K 129 



130 THE JUBILEE 



come " — you'd think he was Gambetta. (Writes.) 
Two, one, one, six, nought, seven, add six, nought, 
one, six — He wants to throw dust in their eyes ; 
so I've got to sit here and work for him Hke a' 
nigger.j He just puts the poetry into the report ; 
but I must tap away on the counting machine 
all day long, hell take him. [Taps the machine.) 
I can't stand it. (Writes.) One to carry, three, 
seven, two, one, nought. He promised to pay 
me for my trouble./ If everything goes off well 
to-day and he takes in the public, he's promised 
me a gold pendant and three hundred roubles. 
We'll see. (Writes.) Well, and if all my trouble 
goes for nothing,!*; well, my friend, I'm sorry — 
I'm a passionate man ! Yes, my friend, in a fit 
of temper I can even commit a crime. Yes ! 
(Off, noise and applause. Shipuchin's voice, 
" Thank you ! Thank you ! I am moved ! " 
Enter Shipuchin, middle-aged, in a frock-coat and 
white tie, with a monocle. He carries an album 
which has just been presented to him. All the while 
he is on the stage, employees bring him papers to 
sign.) 
Shipuchin (standing at the door) : This gift of yours, 
dear colleagues, I shall preserve to my death, as a 



THE JUBILEE 131 

remembrance of the happiest days of my life]^ 

( Yes, my dear, dear sirs ! Once again I thank you. 
{Throws them a kiss, and goes up to Hirin.) My 
dear fellow, my esteemed Hirin ! 

Hirin {rising) : I have the honour to congratulate 
you, Mr. Shipuchin, on your fifteenth year at the 
head of the bank and I hope that 

Shipuchin {squeezing his hand) : Thank you, my 
dear fellow. Thank you ! This notable day, 
this jubilee — Very, very glad ! Thank you for 
your services, for everything ; for everything I 
thank you. If, while I have had the honour to 
be managing director of this bank, if anything 
useful has been done, then I am indebted for it 
before all else to my colleagues. {Sighs.)) Yes, 
my dear fellow, fifteen years ! Fifteen years, or 
I'm not Shipuchin ! {Briskly.) Well, what about 
my report ? Is it coming along ? 

Hirin : Yes. There are about five pages left. 

Shipuchin : Excellent. That means, it will be 
ready at three ? 

Hirin : If nobody disturbs me, it'll be finished. 
There's just rubbish left. 

Shipuchin : Magnificent. Magnificent, or I'm not 
Shipuchin ! The general meeting will be at four. 



132 THE JUBILEE 

Please, dear old chap ; give me the first half, 
and I'll study it. Give it me quick. {Takes the 
report) I base gigantic hopes on this report. It's 
my '* profession de foi," or, to put it better, my 
firework — my firework, or I'm not Shipuchin ! 
{Sits down and reads the report to himself.) But 
I'm devilish tired. Last night I had an attack 
of gout, all the morning I've been busy with little 
affairs and running about, then these commo- 
tions and ovations and agitations — I'm tired. 

HiRiN : Two, nought, nought, three, nine, two,^ 
nought — It's all green before my eyes with figures. 
Three, one, six, four, one, five. {Taps the machine) 

Shipuchin : And another bother — ^This morning 
your wife called on me and complained about you 
again. She said, last night you ran after her and 
your sister-in-law with a knife. What does that 
look like, Hirin ? Come, come ! 

HiRiN {roughly) : I take the liberty, Mr. Shipuchin, 
on the occasion of the jubilee, to make a request 
to you. I beg you, if only out of consideration 
for my working like a nigger, not to interfere with 
my family life. Please don't ! 

Shipuchin {sighs) : You've got an impossible 
character, Hirin, You're an excellent fellow and 



THE JUBILEE 133 



respectable, but when it comes to women you 
behave like Jack the Ripper. Really, I can't 
understand why you dislike them so ! 

HiRiN : And I can't understand why you like them 
so. (Pause.) 

Shipuchin : The employees have just presented me 
with an album and the managers, so I hear, want 
to present me with an address and a silver bowl. 
(Plays with his monocle,) Good, or I'm not 
Shipuchin ! That's not without its use. For the 
reputation of the bank, some pomp is necessary, 
damn it all. You're a good fellow ; after all, you 
know all about it. I wrote the address myself and 
bought the silver bowl as well. The binding for 
the address cost a lot, but it wouldn't do without 
it. By themselves they wouldn't have been good 
for anything. (Looks round,) What an establish- 
ment ! What an establishment ! They may say 
I am trivial, because I want the brass on the 
doors polished and the people on my staff to 
wear fashionable ties and a fat porter to stand at 
the door. Not at all, gentlemen. The brass on 
the doors and the fat porter are not trifles. At 
my own home I can be an ordinary person, eat 
and sleep like a pig, and drink and drink 



134 THE JUBILEE 

HiRiN : No allusions, if you please ! 

Shipuchin : Oh, nobody's making allusions. What 
an impossible character youVe got ! This is what 
I'm saying — at home I can be an ordinary person, 
a parvenu, a slave to habits, but here everything 
must be "en grand ! '* This is the bank ! Here 
every detail must, so to speak, be imposing and 
have a dignified appearance. (Picks up a piece of 
paper and throws it in the grate.) It is my par- 
ticular pride that I have raised high the reputa- 
tion of the bank. It's a big thing, tone, a big 
thing, or I'm not Shipuchin ! [Looks at Hirin.) 
My dear fellow, at any moment the deputation of 
the managers may arrive, and you're in felt 
slippers, in that scarf, in that wild-coloured 
jacket ; you might have put on a frock-coat, well, 
anyhow, a black coat 

Hirin : My health is more to me than your bank- 
managers. My whole body's inflamed. 

Shipuchin {disturbed) : But agree with me that it's 
untidy ! You spoil the ensemble. 

Hirin : When the deputation comes, I can hide — 
that's not a great misfortune. {Writes.) Seven, 
one, seven, two, one, five, nought. I too don't 
like untidiness. Seven, two, nine. [Taps the 



THE JUBILEE 135 

machine.) I can't bear untidiness ! You'd have 
done well to-day not to invite ladies to the jubilee 
dinner. 

Shipuchin : What nonsense ! 

HiRiN : I know you are letting them in to-day so 
as to be elegant. But, you see, they'll spoil 
everything for you. From them comes all un- 
tidiness. 

Shipuchin : On the contrary, women's society ele- 
vates. 

HiRiN : Yes ! Now, you'd call your wife an educated 
woman ; and last Monday she said a thing that 
made me gasp for a couple of days. Suddenly 
she asked me before strangers, '* Is it true that at 
our bank my husband bought those shares in the 
Drage-Prage bank which dropped on the Ex- 
change ? Oh, my husband is so uneasy ! " And 
that before strangers ! And why you're so open 
with them, I can't understand. Do you v/ant 
them to lead you into the courts ? 

Shipuchin : All right, enough, enough. This is all 
too gloomy for a jubilee. But you do well to 
remind me. {Looks at his watch.) My wife should 
be here immediately. In the ordinary way I 
should have driven to the station to meet the poor 



136 THE JUBILEE 

girl, but there's not time and — and Tm tired. To 
tell the truth, I'm not glad she's coming. I'm 
glad, but it would have been better for me if 
she had stayed just another two days with her 
mother. She wants me to spend the whole 
evening with her to-day, and all the time there's 
a little excursion arranged for after dinner. 
{Shudders.) That nervous shivering's starting 
already. My nerves are so strained that I think 
the slightest little thing would start me crying. 
No, I must be strong ; or I'm not Shipuchin ! 
(Enter Tatiana Shipuchin, twenty-five years old, in 
a waterproof, carrying an expensive hag.) 

Shipuchin : Bah ! Talk of the devil ! 

Tatiana : Darling ! {Runs to her husband. A long 
kiss.) 

Shipuchin : Why, we were just talking about you. 
{Looks at his watch.) 

Tatiana {breathlessly) : Lonely ? Quite well ? I 
haven't been home yet — came straight here from 
the station. I must tell you, lots and lots — I 
can't keep it — I won't take off my waterproof — 
I shall only be a minute. {To Hirin.) Good 
morning, Mr. Hirin. {To Shipuchin.) Every- 
thing all right at home ? 



THE JUBILEE 137 

Shipuchin : Everything. Why, youVe grown 
stouter in the last week and prettier. Well, how 
did it go off ? 

Tatiana : Excellently. Mama and Kate send you 
their love. Basil sends you a kiss. {Kisses him.) 
Aunt sends you a pot of jam, and they're all 
angry that you don't write. Zena sends you a 
kiss. {Kisses Mm.) Oh, if you only knew what 
happened ! What do you think ? It's all strange 
to me, even to tell it. What do you think hap- 
pened ? — But I can see from your eyes that 
you're not glad to see me» 

Shipuchin : Just the contrary, darling ! {Kisses 
her, Hirin coughs angrily) 

Tatiana {sighs) : Oh, poor Kate, poor Kate ! Tm 
so sorry, so sorry for her ! 

Shipuchin : Darling, we have a jubilee to-day, and 
at any moment a deputation may come from the 
managers, and you're not dressed. 

Tatiana : Really, a jubilee ! I congratulate you, 
gentlemen, I wish you — then there'll be a meeting 
to-day and a dinner. I love that ! Do you re- 
member that fine address you wrote so long ago 
for the managers ? Will they read it to you 
to-day ? {Hirin coughs angrily.) 



138 THE JUBILEE 

Shipuchin {confused) : Darling, one doesn't speak 
of that — Really, you're going home, eh ? 

Tatiana : Immediately, immediately. I can tell you 
in an instant, and then go. I'll tell you all about 
it, right from the beginning. Well, when you saw 
me off, I was sitting, you remember, side by side 
with that big woman. I began to read ; I don't 
like conversations in a railway-carriage. For 
three stations I read and didn't speak to her or 
anybody. Well, evening came on and you know 
gloomy thoughts like that always disappear. 
Opposite me sat a young man, nothing particular 
to look at, not ugly, dark — Well, we commenced 
to talk. Then a sailor arrived and sonle student 
or other. {Smiles.) I told them I wasn't married. 
How they looked after me ! We chatted right up 
to midnight, the dark young man told awfully 
funny stories and the sailor sang all the time. My 
sides ached with laughing. And when the sailor 
— oh ! those sailors ! — ^when the sailor found out 
by accident that my name was Tatiana, what do 
you think he sang? {Sings bass.) *' Onegin, 
conceal it I cannot, how madly I love fair 
Tatiana ! " {Giggles. Hirin coughs angrily.) 

Shipuchin : But, Tanyusha, we're disturbing Mr. 
Hirin. Go home, darling, and afterwards 



THE JUBILEE 139 

Tatiana : Never mind, never mind, let him listen 
too. It's very interesting ; Tm just finishing. 
At the station, Sereja came to meet me. She had 
brought some young man, an inspector of taxes, 
I think, nothing particular to look at, very nice, 
especially the eyes — Sereja introduced him and 
we all three went off together. The weather 

was wonderful {Voices off : '* You mustn't ! 

You mustn't ! What do you want ? " Enter Mrs. 
Merchutkin, old, in a cloak) 

Merchutkin {at the door, fanning herself) : What 
are you stopping me for ? I must go myself ! 
{Enters; to Shipuchin.) Allow me to introduce 
myself, your excellency, I am the wife of Mr. 
Merchutkin. 

Shipuchin : What can I do for you ? 

Merchutkin : Please listen, your excellency ; my 
husband was ill for five months and while he was 
lying at home getting better, they dismissed him 
without any reason, your excellency, and when 
I went for his salary, please listen, they had taken 
a quarter off his salary. *' Why ? " I asked them. 
"He's been borrowing from the fund," they told 
me, *' and other people guaranteed him." How 
can that be ? He can't take anything without 



140 THE JUBILEE 

my consent ! They mustn't do it, your excel- 
lency ! I'm a poor woman, and live by lodgers. 
I'm a weak, defenceless woman — everybody in- 
sults me, and I never hear a kind word from 
anybody. 

Shipuchin : Permit me. {Takes her application and 
reads it, standing.) 

Tatiana {to Hirin) : But I must begin at the be- 
ginning. Suddenly last week I got a letter from 
Mama. She wrote that a certain Grendelevski 
had proposed to my sister Kate. An excellent, 
modest young man, but without any means and 
with no particular position. And apparently, 
just imagine, Kate was attracted by him. 
What was to be done ? Mama wrote to me 
to come at once and use my influence over my 
sister. 

Hirin {roughly) : Excuse me, you're disturbing me ! 
You and Mama and Kate — here am I disturbed 
and I don't understand anything/ 

Tatiana : There's seriousness ! Why are you so 
bad-tempered to-day ? You're in love ? {Smiles.) 

Shipuchin {to Merchutkin) : Excuse me, what is all 
this about ? I don't understand. 

Tatiana : In love ? Aha ! He blushed ! 



THE JUBILEE 141 

Shipuchin {to his wife) : Tanyusha darling, just go 
into the office for half a minute. I'll come im- 
mediately. 

Tatiana : Very well, dear. {Exit.) 

Shipuchin : I don't understand. You've evidently 
made a mistake, Madame. Your application does 
not concern us at all. Just give yourself the 
trouble to apply to the government department 
in which your husband worked. 

Merchutkin : Kind sir, I have been there already 
five months, and they won't take in the appli- 
cation. I nearly went out of my head, but 
luckily my son-in-law Boris advised me to come 
to you. " Mama," he said, " apply to Mr. Shipu- 
chin ; he's an influential man and can do any- 
thing." Help me, your excellency ! 

Shipuchin : We can't do anything for you, Mrs. 
Merchutkin. Do you understand — your husband, 
as far as I can judge, served in the Army Medical 
Department, but this is a perfectly private com- 
mercial establishment ; this is a bank. Surely 
you understand ? 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, I have a doctor's 
certificate about my husband's illness. Here it is, 
please look at it 



142 THE JUBILEE 

Shipuchin {irritably) : Certainly ; I believe you ; 
but, once again, this does not concern us. {Off, 
Tatiana's laugh, followed by male laughter) 

Shipuchin {looking through the door) : She's dis- 
turbing the clerks out there. {To Merchutkin.) 
It's curious ; it's quite ridiculous. Does your 
husband really not know where you should 
apply ? 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, I must tell you, he 
knows nothing ! He keeps on saying, *' It's not 
your business ; go away ! " That's all ! 

Shipuchin : Once again, Madame — Your husband 
served in the Army Medical Department, and this 
is a bank, a private commercial establishment. 

Merchutkin : Oh, yes, yes, yes, I understand, kind 
sir. In that case, your excellency, tell them to 
give me just a little. I'm quite willing not to 
take it all at once. 

Shipuchin {sighs) : Ugh ! 

HiRiN : Mr. Shipuchin, I shall never finish the 
report like this. 

Shipuchin : One moment ! {To Merchutkin.) I 
can't explain it to you, you see. Now please 
understand that to come to us with an applica- 
tion like this is as strange as to apply for a divorce, 



THE JUBILEE 143 



say, at a chemist's or an assay-office. {A knock at 
the door, and Tatiana*s voice : ''Andrew, may I 
come in ? ") 

Shipuchin {calls out) : Wait a second, darling ; 
one second ! {To Merchutkin) They didn't 
pay you, but what have we got to do with it ? 
Besides, Madame, we have a jubilee to-day and 
we're busy — and at any moment someone might 
come — Excuse me. 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, take pity on me, 
an orphan. I am a weak, defenceless woman. 
I'm worried to death. W\id± with law-cases with 
the lodgers and trouble on account of my husband 
and running about with the housework, and then 
my son-in-law still without a position— — 

Shipuchin : Mrs. Merchutkin, I — ^no, excuse me, 
I can't talk to you ! My head's quite dizzy. 
You're disturbing us, and wasting our time for 
nothing. {Sighs ; aside.) I know what'll stop 
her, or I'm not Shipuchin ! {To Hirin,) Mr. 
Hirin ! Please explain to Mrs. Merchutkin. 
{Waves his hand, and goes out.) 

Hirin {approaches her roughly) : What can I do for 
you? 

Merchutkin ; I am a weak, defenceless woman. 



144 THE JUBILEE 

Perhaps I look strong, but if you come to examine 
me IVe not got a single healthy vein in me ! I 
can hardly stand on my legs, and my appetite's 
quite gone. This morning I drank my coffee 
without any pleasure. 

HiRiN : I ask you, what can I do for you ? 

Merchutkin : Kind sir, tell them to give me just 
a little, and let the rest wait a few months. 

HiRiN : It seems to me, you were told in plain 
language — ^this is a bank ! 

Merchutkin : Yes, yes ; and if it's needed I can 
produce a medical certificate. 

HiRiN : What have you got on your shoulders, a 
head, or what ? 

Merchutkin : Dear gentleman, Tm only asking for 
my legal rights. I don't want anything of any- 
body else's. 

HiRiN : I ask you, Madame, what have you got on 
your shoulders, a head, or what ? Oh, Lord ! 
I've no time to talk to you. I'm busy. {Points 
to the door.) Please ! 

Merchutkin {surprised) : And the money ? 

HiRiN : What it comes to is this — you haven't got 

a head on your shoulders, but {Raps his 

finger on the table, and then on his forehead.) 



THE JUBILEE 145 

Merchutkin [watching him) : What ! Oh, that 
won't do ! That won't do ! Do that to your own 
wife ! You don't do that to me ! 

HiRiN [angrily ; shouting) : Get out of it ! 

Merchutkin : That won't do ! That won't do ! 
I'm not afraid of you ! We've seen your sort 
before ! Creature ! 

HiRiN [shouting) : I don't think in all my life I ever 
saw anything so repugnant. Ugh! It's going 
to my head ! [Breathes with difficulty.) I'll tell 
you again ! Are you listening ? If you don't go 
away from here, you old witch, I'll grind you to 
powder ! I've got such a character, that I could 
make a cripple of you for life ! I can commit a 
crime ! 

Merchutkin : '' The dog barks, the wind blows it 
away." I'm not frightened. We've seen your 
sort before. 

HiRiN [in despair) : I can't look at her ! I feel ill ! 
I can't ! [Goes to table and sits down.) They fill 
the bank with women — I can't write the report. 
I can't ! 

Merchutkin : I don't want anything of anybody 
else's, I only want my legal rights. Oh, you 
shameless man ! To sit here in slippers ! You 
yokel ! [Enter Shipuchin, followed by Tatiana.) 



146 THE JUBILEE 

Tatiana : In the evening we went to Berejnitski's. 
Kate was wearing a blue foulard frock, a little 
decollete, and she had her hair done very high. 
I combed her myself. And the way she was 
dressed and had her hair done, well, it was simply 
enchanting 

Shipuchin [with a headache) : Yes, yes, enchanting 
— ^They might be here at any moment. 

Merchutkin : Your excellency ! 

Shipuchin [dejected] : What is it ? What do you 
want ? 

Merchutkin (pointing to Hirin) : Your excellency, 
that man, that man there, he tapped his finger 
on his forehead and then on the table ! You told 
him to look after my business, and he makes 
fun of every word. I'm a weak, defenceless 
woman 

Shipuchin : Very well, Madame, I'm considering 
it. I will take measures. Go away now. After- 
wards {Aside.) My gout's beginning. 

Hirin {quietly to Shipuchin) : Mr. Shipuchin, tell 
them to send for the porter, and let her be thrown 
out by the scruff of the neck. 

Shipuchin {frightened) : No, no ! She'^d start to 
scream, and there are a lot of people in the house. 



THE JUBILEE 147 

Merchutkin : Your excellency ! 

HiRiN {in a mournful voice) : And IVe got to write 
the report ! I haven't time ! [Returns to the 
table,) I can't ! 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, when can I have 
it ? I need the money to-day. 

Shipuchin [aside, angrily) : Re — mark — ab — ^ly 
horrible woman ! [Softly, to her.) Madame, I've 
told you already. This is a bank, a private, 
commercial establishment. 

Merchutkin : Be kind to me, your excellency ; 
be a father to me ! If the medical certificate isn't 
enough, I can produce a certificate from the 
police. Tell them to give me the money. 

Shipuchin [sighs heavily) : Ugh ! 

Tatiana [to Merchutkin) : My dear lady, you've 
been told that you have made a mistake. What 
a woman you are, to be sure ! 

Merchutkin : Beautiful lady, nobody cares about 
me. I've only one thing left, to eat and drink, 
and to-day I drank my coffee without any 
pleasure. 

Shipuchin [feebly) : How much do you want ? 

Merchutkin : Twenty-four roubles, thirty-six ko- 
pecks. 



148 THE JUBILEE 



Shipuchin : Very well. {Takes twenty-five roubles 
from his pocket-hook and gives them to her) There's 
twenty-five roubles for you. Take them and — 
go away ! {Hirin coughs angrily.) 

Merchutkin : I most humbly thank you, your 
excellency. 

Tatiana {sits beside her husband) : It's time for me 
to go home. {Looks at her watch.) But I haven't 
finished yet ; I'll finish in a moment and go. 
What do you think happened ? What do you 
think ? Well, in the evening we went to Berej- 
nit ski's. It wasn't anything particular ; it was 
jolly, but not specially. Of course, Kate's 
admirer, Grendelevski, was there. I spoke to 
Kate, and cried, and persuaded her, and in the 
evening she had an explanation with Grendelevski 
and refused him. Well, I thought, everything is 
in order, things couldn't be better ; I had quieted 
Mama, saved Kate, and now I could be easy. 
What do you think ? Just before supper we were 
walking with Kate in the avenue, and suddenly — 
{Rises) — suddenly we heard a shot ! No I can't 
speak about it in cold blood ! {Fans herself with 
her handkerchief.) No, I can't ! 

Shipuchin {sighs) : Ugh ! 



THE JUBILEE 149 

Tatiana {weeps) : We ran to the summer-house, 
and there, there lay poor Grendelevski with a 
pistol in his hand. 

Shipuchin : No, I can't stand it ! I can't stand it ! 
{To Merchutkin.) What do you want now ? 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, couldn't my hus- 
band take up his old post again ? 

Tatiana {weeps) : He had shot himself right by the 
heart — ^just there — Kate fainted, poor girl, and 
he himself was terribly frightened. He lay there 
and — and asked us to send for a doctor. The 
doctor soon came — and saved the unlucky 
fellow. 

Merchutkin : Your excellency, couldn't my hus- 
band take up his old post again ? 

Shipuchin : No, I can't stand it. {Weeps.) I can't 
stand it. {Stretches out his hands to Hirin in 
despair,) Drive her out ! Drive her out ! Please ! 

Hirin {advances on Tatiana) : Get out of it ! 

Shipuchin : Not her — that one — ^that awful one — 
{Points to Merchutkin) — ^that one 

Hirin {misunderstands ; to Tatiana) : Get out of it ! 
{Stamps his feet.) Go away ! 

Tatiana : What ? What's the matter with you ? 
Have you gone mad ? 



150 THE JUBILEE 

Shipuchin : This is awful ! I'm a miserable man ! 
Drive her out ! Drive her out ! 

HiRiN (to Tatiana) : Out of it ! I'll cripple you ! 
I'll smash you ! I'll commit a crime ! 

Tatiana [chased by Hirin) : How dare you ! You 
impudent man ! Andrew ! Help ! Andrew ! 
[Begins to scream.) 

Shipuchin [running after them) : Stop ! Please ! 
Be quiet ! Have mercy on me ! 

Hirin [chasing Merchutkin) : Get out of it ! Catch 
her ! Hit her ! Cut her up ! 

Shipuchin : Stop ! Please ! I beg you ! 

Merchutkin : Dear lady ; oh, dear lady ! [Begins 
to scream.) Dear lady ! 

Tatiana : Help ! Help ! Oh, Oh ! I feel ill ! I 
feel ill ! [Jumps on a chair, then drops on the sofa 
and moans.) 

Hirin [chasing Merchutkin) : Catch her ! Hit her ! 
Cut her up ! 

Merchutkin : Oh, oh, dear lady ! It's all going 
dark. Oh ! [Falls senseless in Shipuchin' s arms, 
A knock at the door and a voice : " The Deputa- 
tion.") 

Shipuchin : Deputation — reputation — occupa- 
tion 



THE JUBILEE 151 

HiRiN [stamping his feet) : Out of it ! Oh, hell ! 
[Tucking up his sleeves) Give me her ! I can 
commit a crime. [Enter deputation of five persons, 
all in frock-coats. One carries a velvet-hound 
address and another the cup. The rest of the staff 
stand at the door of the office. Tatiana on the sofa, 
and Merchutkin in Shipuchin's arms, both groan 
softly.) 

A Manager [reads loudly) : Esteemed and beloved 
Mr. Shipuchin, casting a retrospective regard 
upon the past of our financial establishment and 
turning an abstract glance upon the history of its 
gradual development, we receive in the highest 
degree a pleasurable sensation. It is true that in 
the earliest period of its existence, the small 
dimensions of its original capital, the absence of 
any important operations and the general in- 
definiteness of its position furnished a cause for 
Hamlet's question, '* To be or not to be," and at 
one moment there were even voices which advo- 
cated the advantage of the entire closure of the 
bank. Then you were placed at the head of the 
establishment ! Your knowledge, energy, and 
innate tact have been the cause of its extra- 
ordinary success and its present remarkably 



152 THE JUBILEE 

flourishing condition. The reputation of the 
bank — (Coughs) — the reputation of the bank 

Merchutkin (groans) : Oh ! Oh ! 

Tatiana : Water, water ! 

Manager (continues) : The reputation — (Coughs) — 
the reputation of the bank has been brought by 
you to such a height that our estabHshment may 
to-day well rival the very best foreign establish- 
ments 

Shipuchin : Deputation — reputation — occupa- 
tion 

Manager (continues in confusion) : Casting then an 
objective glance upon the present, we, esteemed 
and beloved Mr. Shipuchin — Perhaps afterwards 
— Better afterwards. (Exit, with staff.) 

(Curtain) 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 
By L^SYA UKRAINKA 



CHARACTERS 

Eleazar Captives 

Levites Prophets 

Overseers 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

(A wide plain. The red sunset turns the waters of the 
Euphrates to blood. Scattered on the plain are seen 
the tents of the Hebrew captives. Naked children 
seek shells in the mud and gather brushwood for the 
fires. Weary women, mostly old, in rags, are 
busied preparing supper, each at her own hearth, 
for the men that have just returned from the town 
after their toil and are sitting silently under the 
willows near the water, A little farther off, also 
under the willows, stand two groups, the Levites and 
the prophets. On the willows, over the prophets* 
heads, harps hang ; quivering from time to time, 
they jingle in the evening wind. Far away are seen 
the walls and towers of Babylon and sometimes 
there comes the noise of the city,) 

A Woman {at her fire) : Husband, come to supper. 
[A man, still young, leaves a group and silently sits 
down.) 

155 



156 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Woman : Why dost not eat bread ? (The man is 
silent,) Is it bitter ? There is nought to be done, 
poor thing, thou must eat. 

The Man (mumbling like an old man) : I cannot 
eat. 

Woman : Misery ! Hast no teeth ? Where 

Man : There ! (Points to Babylon.) 

Woman : Misery, misery, misery ! 

An Old Man (approaches an old woman sitting by 
the extinguished fire of another hearth, motionless, 
her head bowed down) : Give me supper ! (The 
woman is silent and motionless.) Why hast not 
prepared it ? (The woman is silent.) Why hast 
ashes on thy hair ? (The woman is silent, and 
bows still lower.) Where is our daughter ? 

The Old Woman : There ! (Points to Babylon and 
pours ashes upon her head.) 

Old Man : Adonai ! (Tears his garments and falls 
down. At a third fire sit only men, mostly old. A 
woman approaches timidly ; ragged children hang 
at her garments.) 

The Woman : My fathers, pardon that I ask you ; 
have ye not seen my husband ? 

An Old Man : How is he called ? 

The Woman : Ebenezer of Ossia. 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 157 

Another Old Man : Was he so called before thou 
wert a widow ? 

The Woman : What sayest thou ? 

A Third Old Man : Do not kill thyself ! Foes do 
not torment the dead. 

The Woman : What shall I do, miserable, with my 
little children ? 

The Children : Mother, mother, mother ! 

A Mad Woman {wandering among the fires) : Happy 
the womb that did not bear ; happy the breast 
that gave not suck. Hey ! rejoice not, Baby- 
lonian woman ! Hey ! be not glad, mother of 
vipers' sons ! 

A Girl {whispers to her companion, pointing at the 
mad woman) : Tis from the time her child was 
killed in Jerusalem. 

Companion : How terrible ! 

Girl : And I saw it with my own eyes, how the 
soldier seized her boy by his feet and struck 
at 

Companion : Be silent ! 

The Levites {under the willows) : For our fathers' 
sin the Lord took from us the temple ; for our 
ancestors' dishonour He took away His church. 



158 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

And now, as a spendthrift's children, innocent 
we expiate our fathers' debt. 

The Prophets : Jerusalem smote us with stones, 
and for it the wrath of the Lord smote her. The 
daughter of Zion despised us, and for it the son 
of Baal subdued her. 

First Levite {to another) : Why hast not been at 
prayers ? 

Second Levite : The master sent me to the reck- 
onings. The workmen from Haram are being 
paid for their labour at the king's palace. 

First Levite : Couldst not find one of the scribes 
to take thy place ? 

Second Levite : Service, brother ! The master 
says no men are so skilled at reckoning as the 
Hebrews. 

First Levite : True. 

Second Levite [aside to him) : For my good help 
the chief gave me this ring. 

First Levite : Glory to the Lord, that He hath 
distinguished His people by wisdom above the 
nations of all the world. [Aside.) Is there no 
need of another to help ? [They whisper.) 

A Samarian Prophet : Thus spake the Lord : On 
Garisim I have builded an abode, on its summit I 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 159 

made Mine altar, but ye forsook it and knew not 
the house of My glory, as the foolish bibbing son 
knoweth not his father's abode and wandereth in 
outer darkness, a butt for strangers' children. 

A Jewish Prophet : Thus spake the Lord : In 
Jerusalem I made Mine abode among the people, 
that, as bees come together to one hive, to one 
queen, so would ye come together unto Me, to 
the only Temple ; but, as a wild swarm, ye 
flew^ away, and for it I sent evil hornets against 
you. 

Samarian Prophet : The lion of Judah ravished 
Israel and dispersed his sheep. 

Jewish Prophet : SauFs descendants are fit to be 
keepers of flocks, but not of the people. 

Samarian Prophet : The Lord of Israel shall reach 
thee, and through me. {Raises his staff against 
the Jewish Prophet.) 

Jewish Prophet : Lord, remember Thy servant 
David. (Raises a stone to cast at the Samarian 
Prophet, Eleazar, a young prophet and singer, 
just come from Babylon, throws himself between the 
two) 

Eleazar : Refrain ! Cover not with shame the 
names of Israel and Judah. 



i6o THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Samarian Prophet : Ah ! is it thou, prophet of 

shame ? And how hast thou glorified Israel and 

Judah ? 
Jewish Prophet : Vile serpent, why earnest from 

that nest ? There is thy God and thy people, 

begone and glorify them ! 
First Levite : May the Lord vomit thee out of His 

mouth, may thy name disappear as spittle ! [The 

people gather round.) 
Second Levite [catching a harp from the willows) : 

I will break this cursed vessel. 
Eleazar [catching his hand) : Touch not my harp, 

for it is innocent of my sins ! Curse me, if thou 

thinkest I am worthy, but curse not the holy 

harp. 
Third Levite : And how has it sanctified itself ? 
Eleazar : That never from the first rang a string 

insincerely. 
A Boy : Aha ! Therefore thou didst hang it there. 
Eleazar [to the Boy> sadly) : Why, youth, sayest 

thou so ? 
Boy : Pretend not thou dost not understand ! 
An Old Man : This youth told thee, Eleazar, what 

thy conscience would have told thee — but a mute 
cannot speak. 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY i6i 

A Man : And it is a vanity to talk to the deaf. {A 
child stretches out its arms to the harp.) 

The Child : Uncle, give me the toy. 

First Mother : I told thee, dare not to come to 
this man. 

An Old Woman {to a girl standing near) : I see 
' there is no more shame in Israel, when a girl 
stands uncovered and looks upon a traitor. 

The Girl : But I 

First Woman : See, poor thing, it is a great 
woe when one cursed by God steals a girl's 
heart. 

The Girl : If he be cursed, I also curse him. {Veils 
herself and goes away.) 

Eleazar {to all) : Fathers and brothers, mothers 
and sisters, since when is it a custom among 
us to condemn without judging ? Truly, clearly 
tell me, why am I become as a leper among 
you ? 

The Old Man : Thou becamest leprous in Baby- 
lon, singing for money in the courts to the sons of 
Baal. 

Eleazar : Are ye not all gathered here in Babylon 
for labour ? 

First Man : Labourers do not serve Moloch. 



i62 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Eleazar : Whom then do their arms and vessels 
serve ? Have they not built such an abode for 
Moloch, as never had our Lord in Jerusalem ? 

First Prophet : Taunt not captives with their 
slavery ! 

Eleazar : Am I not a captive ? Why curse ye me 
for my forced labour ? 

Second Prophet : The cord, the spade, the plough 
and axe in men's hands are men's slaves ; but the 
word in a prophet's mouth must serve God only, 
and none other. 

The Old Man : Yet wilt thou ask for judgment, 
Eleazar ? 

Eleazar : I will, though the judgment end with 
stones. The Lord liveth ! Ye must judge by 
truth ; an unjust curse shall turn against you. 

The Old Man : Let us hear him. Let it not be said 
we forsook truth on the ruins of Jerusalem. Tell 
us what constrained thee to sell the word. 

Eleazar : That none bought my hands. My father 
did not teach me to labour, and weak my mother 
bred me. Though the harp obeys my hands, 
nor plough nor axe obeys them. I fell under a 
burden, and the overseer drove me from the 
labour. 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 163 

The Old Man : Let then thy father and mother 

feed thee, who have not taught thee to earn 

bread. 
Eleazar : In Jerusalem I earned honourably by 

the means they taught me, and here too — but the 

bread burns that my father brings from Babylon ; 

hard it is to eat from a father's slavery. 
First Levite : Not only bread thy father brings, 

but also golden rings. 
Eleazar [to all) : Teach this Levite that gold burns, 

and not only shines. 
First Levite {slyly) : Why does thy father's work 

burn so ? 
Eleazar : Am I judged here or my father ? Bring 

then all fathers to judgment, that for their family 

lose their souls. 
First Levite : Why didst not cry to the nation to 

feed thee with the bread wherewith it feeds 

Levites and cripples ? 
Eleazar : I am not Levite nor cripple. 
A Little Boy {to his father) : Daddy, give me 

bread ! 
The Father : I have none, my son. 
A Man : Dost see ? He heard talk of bread and 

eating, and says too, ''Give me bread.'' 



i64 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Eleazar : Rightly says the boy. He answered for 
me better than I could know. Ye all heard. 
While in Israel they speak thus, Eleazar will not 
share bread with Levites and cripples. He that 
has bread, let him give to the child ; I will take 
stones from the captives. He that has fish, let 
him feed the children, and give me a viper that 
drinks blood from the heart. I shall take it 
and bear it with me into the courts ; it will give 
sting to my words and its hissing they will hear 
in Babylon. 

A Youth : Much wilt thou earn for such songs in 
Babylon ! Surely less than thou hast earned for 
the hymns of Zion. 

Eleazar : Unwisely, boy, hast spoken. I sang 
them not hymns of Zion. The hymn of Zion, of 
all songs the ornament, was as a bride in Jerusa- 
lem, as a wife in the holy city ; here it were as 
a concubine, for who taketh a captive as a lawful 
wife ? {The people sigh. Eleazar holds his peace 
and bows his head.) 

A Man : Why didst not sing the songs of cap- 
tivity ? Why hast not poured the bitter tears 
of slavery ? The cold drop pierces the stone, 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 165 

why would not hot tears touch even the wicked 
heart ? 

Eleazar : The Lord set pride in my souL Never 
have I wept before strangers. 

A Man : Pride befits not slaves. 

First Prophet : The horn of pride in thee rose 
above grief and holy love ! 

Eleazar : Measure not the measureless with the 
endless, for thou wilt not see what will come of it. 

A Youth : Eloquent is Eleazar among the cap- 
tives ! Why in the Babylonian courts do his 
love and grief and pride hold their peace ? Surely 
the place is too small ? 

Eleazar : And didst thou think it were enough ? 
O youth, I have measured all those Babylonian 
courts and know their size. It happened I 
crossed that court where our people is building 
a tower for Moloch. I stopped and gazed at it. 
The marble is white as bones in the field, the 
porphyry grey as shed blood, the gold shines as a 
bright fire. It stands unfinished, like ruins ; the 
cries of our conquerors are heard, and the groans 
of our people. I know not how, with a great 
voice I shouted over the whole place, " Jerusa- 
lem ! " With a cry answered the captives from 



i66 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

the wall, and with laughter answered the guards. 
" Is that ruin called in any wise, has that desert 
still a name ? '* I went away to the market where 
they sell captives into slavery. There a rich 
merchant was choosing the most lovely captives. 

Women : Misery, misery, misery ! 

Eleazar : I said, *' Think, lord, these girls have 
fathers and brothers. Were thy sister or daughter 
taken captive, would the foe sell her ? '' He 
answered, " Tis the fate of captives.'' I went 
farther and saw a small, weak slave, and a tall, 
strong Babylonian loaded him with wares, as a 
mule, and drove him with a stick. I cried, 
*' Stay ! To torment such a small boy ! " '' For 
this he is a slave,'* he answered, arrogant. '' And 
were thy son sold," said I, *' he too would be a 
slave ? " '* Surely ; not otherwise," said the 
rich man, and laughed aloud, ** but I do not sell 
my sons, and thine, thou seest, I buy." Who, 
what will touch such hearts ? Once only with 
my songs I got a tear from a stranger ; the king 
himself wept at the end of Saul and Jonathan's 
death. 

A Voice from the People : Long live the merciful 
king ! In him only is our hope. 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 167 

Eleazar : The merciful king wished to reward me 
generously. 

First Levite : What gave he thee, Eleazar ? 

Eleazar : He gave me a chamber in his palace and 
Jewish captives, as many as I would. From that 
moment I cursed the songs that get tears from 
conquerors ; they are the tears of the Nile's 
crocodiles. 

The Youth : Thou shouldst have sung them of the 
fame of our ancestors, that they might know^ the 
strength of our people. 

Eleazar : I sang. 

The Youth : And what ? {Eleazar is silent.) 

The Old Man : Say, Eleazar, how the strangers 
heard the songs of fame. 

Eleazar {slowly) : One of them whistled and, 
smiling, shook his head. Another said, " Not all 
that is true." A third bade me join the military 
singers ; and all, one after the other, said, " Is 
there only that in the world which is in Jerusa- 
lem ? Knowest thou no songs of Edom, of 
Misraim ? Was not the fame of Amalek, Ammon 
and Amareus as the past fame of Israel ? '' 

First Prophet : O Lord, chastise the hostile lips 
with the dumbness of death. 



168 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Eleazar : I began to sing them of Edom, of Mis- 
raim, of foreign speeches in a foreign speech. 
They heard how treacherous Edom's crooked 
sword broke against Ashur's armour ; how 
Amalek, Ammon and Amareus from ravishers 
became slaves ; how Misraim, master of half the 
world, once the lord of the tribes of Israel, had 
to submit to the eternal might ; how horse and 
rider fell into the sea, and all the Pharaoh's 
might, whenas was voided the abhorred house of 
toil and the cursed place of slavery was devas- 
tated. 

The Youth : And what did the listeners ? 

Eleazar : There were those who paled. 

Second Prophet : May they grow pale and cold 
for ever ! 

The Youth : Why didst not say that also for these 
will come a day of judgment ? 

Eleazar : For that word there is no room in Baby- 
lon ! To-day I sang them of Ophir, Sidon and 
Tyre, their power and wisdom and treasures, as 
are not and never will be in the Babylonian 
treasuries. 

First Levite : Didst gain much for this song ? 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 169 

Eleazar : Thinkest, the treasures of Canaan ? See, 
I have bread for this day's supper. 

The Youth : Surely, for songs that praised Baby- 
lon's power thou hast earned more than one 
golden ring ? 

Eleazar : The vile speaks only with poison, but 
poison hurts not every man. When heardest 
me sing songs of the Babylonian glory and 
might ? [The youth is silent and ashamed.) Thou 
hast judged thyself by thy silence. 

The Old Man : Eleazar, it may be thy songs are 
good in Babylon, but Misraim and Edom and all 
their tongues will not bring Palestine to mind and 
awake the thought of Jerusalem. 

Eleazar : Is there already need to bring it to our 
minds ? 

The Old Man : Not to us, but to those that among 
foes have used to speak the foreign speech 

Eleazar : How will they understand the inborn 
song ? How sing it in a foreign speech ? 

The Old Man : With thy foreign words thou wilt 
forget to say, '* Jerusalem ! '' [Eleazar stands 
thoughtfully. His hand begins to touch the strings 
of his harp, and his voice sounds, neither singing, 
nor wailing, as of one who sleeps.) 



170 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

Eleazar : My right hand was strong ; who could 
overcome it ? Did I then say to myself : '' Happy 
am I ; I have my right arm " ? Spake I ever 
thus : '' Right arm, know thou art mine ! '' 
But the evil foe wounded my hand and cut off 
my right arm. Whom shall I overcome now ? 
Who will not overcome me ? Day and night I 
say to myself, '' O misery, where is my hand ? " I 
look upon my shoulder and weep, '' Right arm, 
how forget thee ? '' [He quietly touches the strings. 
1^ he people weep.) 

My father had a rich vineyard, my mother a 
green garden. I walked in it, plucked the berries 
and trampled the leaves with my feet. An evil 
neighbour set fire to our vineyard and wasted the 
green garden. The vine was burned, the berries 
dropped and its glorious beauty fell to ashes. If 
I find beneath my feet, be it only one leaf, I shall 
press it to my heart. Dear brothers, say, has 
none of you, be it only one leaf from my vine ? 
[The strings sound still more sadly, and the weeping 
becomes louder.) 

I dreamed a dread dream — ^w^ho shall divine it ? 
Twas as if I fell into the hands of the enemies. 
What have they done to me, my terrible enemies ? 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 171 

My arms still are mighty, my legs still are strong, 
my eyes still are clear, and my body is not burt. 
Only my tongue, my tongue was for their ven- 
geance. I wished to speak a word ; I wished to 
lift up my voice. But my lips spake with blood 
and cried with silence. {A long pause. The harp 
falls from Eleazar's hands and the sigh of its strings 
dies away. The people's cries cease abruptly. 
Silence. He speaks with respect^ but firmly and 
distinctly.) Fathers and brothers, mothers and 
sisters ! I wait for a stone or a word from you. 
{Silence.) What curse is more awful than silence ? 

The Old Man : We do not curse thee, Eleazar. 

The Youth : Forgive me my hard word, brother. 

Eleazar : Ye do not curse me. I forgive all your 
words. But still I am cursed with the dreadful 
curse of blood. The blood of our fathers, shed in 
vain for our lost liberty, weighs upon my head 
and yours, and bows down our forehead to the 
earth, to the stone that the hand of my people 
hurled not against me. A man's son fell and cut 
himself on a sharp stone ; in despair he rent his 
garments of honour and strewed ashes of dis- 
grace upon his head. O, as the temple I fell, as 
Jerusalem we fell all, and, as hard as it is to 



172 THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 

rebuild our temple, so hard it is for us to rise 
out of the dust of slavery's dishonour. Shame 
fell upon our arms that rose not to take the lives 
of us conquered, but rose to labour for the 
enemies. Leprosy covered the bodies of the girls 
of Zion, that they drowned not themselves in the 
Euphrates, but went to entertain the sons of 
lasciviousness and nurse the fruit of their shame. 
And shame covered my lips that from hunger 
these lips grew not still, but spake the strange 
speech in those cursed courts where all songs 
sound — and only that which bursts from the 
heart must die. Infamy oppresses us worse 
than chains, it bites worse than iron fetters. To 
suffer chains is inhuman shame, to forget them 
unbroken yet greater ignominy. Two paths we 
have, death or disgrace, till we find a way to 
Jerusalem. Brothers, let us look for a way to 
the temple as the gazelle seeks water in the 
desert, that the mighty foe may not say, '' Now 
have I slain Israel ; it is dead ! '* And ere we 
find it, let us fight for our life as the wounded 
badger in the hunt ; let it not be said among men, 
'' The Lord of Israel fell asleep in Heaven.'' O 
Babylon, too early is it to rejoice ! Still our 



THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY 173 

harps sound among the willows, still tears flow 
into the Babylonian rivers, still the daughter 
of Zion burns with shame, still the lion of Judah 
roars with fury. The Lord liveth, my soul liveth, 
Israel liveth, even in Babylon ! 
The Voice of an Overseer from the Camp : To 
the tents, Israel ; the night cometh. [The people 
separate and go to thei r_ te nts. On the distant 
towers are seen the Babylonian magicians, fore- 
telling from the stars. The camp grows still. From 
Babylon faintly comes the sound of revels. The 
solemn night trembles over the captive camp and 
Babylon. Here and there quicken the overseers* 
fires. Silence,) 

(Curtain) 



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RUSSIAN FOLK-TALES 

TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN 

BY 

LEONARD A. MAGNUS, LL B. 

WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES 
AND GLOSSARY. 



** Russia is particularly rich in legends, folklore, and popular tales, and 
the literature of this kind which it possesses is particularly worth 
reading, not only as a matter of study, but also for delight. It is better 
and more human folklore than most of our more Western matter, possibly 
because it is less barbarous. It does not take its rise from Scandinavian 
mythology, but from a gentle Nature-worship. . . . This volume is a good 
one and worth consideration as an authentic fragment of Russian literature. 
. . . The tales are playfully and curiously told. An interesting compilation 
which has a great circulation in Russia just now is * Soldiers' Fairy Tales ' 
— a collection of folk-tales about soldiers — several of which are reproduced 
in Mr. Magnus' volume." — Times, 

" Present circumstances will give these tales a wide popularity. But 
they deserve it on their own merits, for they betray the spirit of the 
Russian peasantry with greater fidelity than is the case in other countries. 
. . . These Russian tales are superior to the German ones in the goodness 
of heart they reveal, their religiousness, their greater freedom from the 
shackles of romanticism, and their keener sense of the world of 
Nature. " — Standard, 

''The book deserves the widest circulation." — Contemporary Review. 

** The stories are over seventy in number. The translation is eminently 
satisfactory." — Notes and Queries. 

** Mr. Magnus' substantial volume is just what is wanted. He writes 
good, clear English, and his notes are sufficient for the purpose." 

Manchester Guardian. 

*' Represent as completely as possible the varieties of the Native. 
iQ>W-\.z\Q''— Outlook.^ 



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.BHJ.CIR. MAR 16 19;9 0CTl91988 



AUG211i86 



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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY 
FORM NO. DD6, 40m, 3/78 BERKELEY, CA 94720 



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