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THE SECRET AGENT.
THE tales and spirited military ters and courtiers, more bent on keepsketches of Mr F. W. Hackländer, ing their places than on doing their wbich in Germany have met with a duty to their sovereign. The harmbigbly favourable reception, are pretty less and ingenious contrivances by well known in England, not only to which the duke and his pretty cousin readers of German, but some of them, outwit and frighten with a shadow if we mistake not, through the me- the experienced prime-minister and dium of translations. But we are not the court chamberlain of thirty years' aware that Mr Hackländer's fame as standing, are all exposed to the a dramatist has as yet crossed the amused eyes of the audience as soon water. The author of Guardroom as they are put in practice. The play Adventures, Soldier's Life in Peace. is one of intrigue, not of mystery, time, and other pleasant volumes, and little is left to conjecture; but has written two plays, the earliest of the interest is sustained to the very which is now before us. We have end, and would be still more vivid not had an opportunity of seeing it and incessant if some of the scenes acted, but it is extremely amusing to were shortened and the three-act read, and must be still more so upon form adopted. the stage. The leading idea of the The sovereign of a German state piece, upon which the whole plot has been for many years dead, and hinges, is excellent; and Mr Hack- his son sits in his place, but can länder, although he may not have bardly be said to reign in his stead. made of it all that would have been During Duke Alfred's long minority, made bad it occurred to a Scribe and during an extensive tour he subdeserves great credit for the manner sequently made, the dowager duchess in which he has worked it out. We held the reins of state. On his remiss the wit and sparkle that a turn she reluctantly resigned to him French dramatist would have thrown the name of ruler and the appearance into the dialogue, and to which the of authority-but she resigned to him French language is more favourable no more. He was told how disconthan the German ; it occurs to us tented the people would be to see a more than once, in the course of the change in the system that had so long five acts, that the play would have existed ; in fact, that they would been more effective (and quite long never submit to it, and that it would enough) in three : but we admire and be perilous to attempt it. The minis. heartily Jaugh at the capital situa- ters, who had served long under the tions and quid pro quos in which it deceased duke and during the whole abounds. From an early period of of the regency of the duchess, were the piece there is little difficulty in devoted to her. Duke Alfred, young foreseeing how it will end; its author and inexperienced, fell into the snare; has not aimed at startling his audi- and when, after a time, he perceived ence by an unexpected catastrophe, that he was a mere puppet, and that, but has preferred tickling them by a far from being devotedly attached to succession of ludicrous complications, his mother's system, the people murfor which he cleverly keeps them an. mured at his inactivity, and looked prepared. Throughout the play the to him for the redress of many abuses spectator is, in one sense, behind the that had crept in under a government scenes. He is in the confidence of blindly attached to old and time-worn the two lovers, who combine to mys- institutions, it had become doubly tify an imperious and ambitious dow. difficult for him to regain the ground ager and a set of time-serving minis- he at first had too easily ceded.
Der Geheime Agent, Lustspiel in fünf Aufzügen. Von F. W. HACKLÄNDER. (The Secret Agent, a Comedy, in five acts.) Stuttgart, Krabbe ; London, Williams and Norgate, 1851. VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXIX.
The least attempt of his at indepen- the duke. They were supported by dent action, the slightest indication the duchess, whose feeble nerves could of an intention to govern his own not endure the noise of the music and duchy, or even his own palace, was a the coarse merriment of the crowd. signal for intrigues to thwart him Her son yielded, but not until he had for most respectful but ominous re- made up his mind to put an end to monstrances on the part of the elderly the sort of slavery in which he lived. ministers, to whom, from his infancy, Attached to his mother, notwithstandhe had been taught to look up as his ing her unwarrantable interference father's wise and faithful advisers with his prerogative, and having a and truest friends—and for a display regard for his father's old ministers, of shattered nerves on the part of his in spite of the scanty obedience they mother, a stout, resolute, loud-voiced showed him, he was unwilling, and it old lady, who enjoyed the health of would have been unwise, abruptly to a milkmaid, but whose voice dwindled assume towards them an attitude of and grew tremulous, and who could defiant opposition. But he was defihardly cross the room without assist. cient neither in good sense, in resoluance, as soon as her son showed a tion, nor in wit, and he soon formed disposition to have a way of his own. a plan of his own by which he trusted Thus beset and cramped, the unlucky peaceably to attain his end. The minduke, nominally regnant, but far from ister's unwise meddling with his gardominant, knew not how to break dens had been the last pound, which the meshes that environed him. He breaks the camel's back, and had exwas a cipher at his own court; the hausted the young prince's patience. ministers assembled in council in his He is confirmed in his resolve by a mother's apartments; the most im- revelation made to him by his cousin, portant decisions were come to with his mother's niece, the Princess Euout his being consulted ; in smaller genie, to whom he is ardently, but matters, too, he met with systematic secretly attached. She informs him opposition, for it was feared that, if that negotiations are already in prohe once tasted the sweets of a little gress for his marriage with a princess power, he might grow greedy and of Brunswick. On learning this, he grasp at more. Young, generous, loses all patience, and vows at once and loving to see cheerful faces to show that he is master, not only of around him, he gave orders that his himself, but in his own dominions. palace-gardens should be open to the Eugenie implores him to be prudent, public, and that the band of his regi- reminding him that an abrupt and ment of body-guards should play violent step must draw down upon there on Sundays, and he himself them the anger of the duchess, to took pleasure in walking amongst the whom their mutual attachment is unpeople. The premier, Count Stein- known. He entreats hier to advise hausen, held this for a dangerous in- him. In the remainder of the scene, novation, because it had been made the main idea of the play is develon the duke's sole authority. Had oped. he been first consulted, he confiden- Eugenie. Every step that you take tially informed his old friend and par- contrary to the decision of your minticular crony, the grand chamberlain, isters is unfortunately, as things now he should have found it the most stand, taken also against your mother. fitting and natural thing in the world You cannot at once openly step forto afford the people so innocent a ward and oppose them. You have recreation. But, done without his lived too carelessly. You took the previous approbation, be looked upon crown as a plaything, and, through the the opening of the gardens as im- inspirations of others, you have hitherproper, upon the playing of the to worn it as a plaything. They have band as a desecration of the Sab- outwitted you; they have made you bath. He would have done better believe that your government could to have left his sovereign at liberty prosper, and yourself be beloved by to act as he pleased, at least with your people, only so long as you left in his own private domain. His the guidance of affairs to your mother, persistent remonstrances exasperated and blindly followed her advice, Believe me, any violent measure will be travels is coming to pass some time imputed to you, who are little known in this capital. I will add, that he is to your subjects, as criminal presump- one of the cleverest, most accomplishtion, and will be interpreted as a ed, and yet one of the most modest of wanton desire to destroy all that the men, and that he is to act as my counDuchess has done for the good of the sellor and friend. But as I know how country.
many would strive to convert him into Duke. I will begin by appointing & the tool of their own ambition and innew ministry, composed of younger trigues, it is my will that he shall be men, popular, and with good intentions. invisible for the whole court. I will say to them, give me your advice, Eugenie. Ah, I understand your guide me on this difficult path until I Highness - an excellent idea! You am able steadily to pursue it.
thus create for yourself an unseen Eugenie. You will notsucceed, Prince. power—the more dreaded because inWho will accept a minister's portfolio visible and inaccessible to all. The without your mother's sanction? Sap- mere belief in the existence of such posing you really were able to remove a being will spread alarm and disthe old ministers, what alteration trust in the ranks of your foes. They would that make in your position? will lose all feeling of security so soon Oh that you had but one friend, who as they believe themselves under the would stand by you firmly and de- eye of an invisible observer. cidedly!
Duke. Yes, I feel that to be the only Duke. Alas, for such a friend to means of conquering my rightful poserve me, must he not himself first sition. gain the confidence of the country- The Secret Agentis now soon brought must he not first work himself into play. In the next scene the Duke through the labyrinth of intrigues announces to his mother his friend's that on all sides surrounds me? And approaching arrival. She is startled where is a friend to be found? How at the idea of a stranger appearing at seldom have princes true friends; court as her son's most intimate and and a false friend, in whom I should trusted companion as a favourite, in entirely confide, were far worse than fact. He will not appear at court the none. Did there really exist a hand Duke replies : he is not a man of high so powerful as to wrest the govern- family-he loves not much society, is ment from its present possessors, we of studious habits, and somewhat of a must bear in mind that power is plea- man-hater. But he is most honoursant to exercise, and the hand might able and intelligent, and has rendered perhaps choose to retain what it once the Duke great services. The Duchess had grasped.
still objects. We must tell people, she Eugenie. But what other expedient says, who the young man is, and what is there?
he does at our court. Duke. I have hit upon one, and Duke. Certainly; we can say that should like to have your opinion of it. he attends to some private foreign afListen to me. Whether I admit into fairs of mine, and is in connection with my counsels a foreigner or one of my the neighbouring courts. I call him subjects, it will be of no avail; he will my secret agent. have his weaknesses--they will know Duchess. But that designation ? how to take advantage of them, and Duke. Is, for the court, but a name; I shall be only the more closely beset but for me, he really is a secret agent. by snares. I will govern, but with I will soon prove to you that he is a the aid of a secret agent entirely de- man who has good information. Tovoted to me, impenetrable to corrup- day, for instance, he writes me from tion, invisible to all, known to me Brunswick alone.
Duchess. From the court of BrunsEugenie. And where is such a trea- wick? sure to be found ?
Duke, (nods.) He writes me a charmDuke, Not amongst the living; but ing piece of news. You know the our fancy shall create it. I will take Princess Amelia ? an opportunity of mentioning, that a Duchess, (astonished.) Yes, certainperson whom I have known upon my ly, and
Duke. My Secret Agent writes to me the Duchess's ladies, and on whose concerning her, and mentions, amongst fidelity and discretion the Duke knows other things, that there is a project at he can depend, enters and makes a our court to bring about a marriage communication to the Chamberlain, between the Princess and myself. who, in his turn, announces to the Duchess. Who writes tbat?
Duke, with an air of great astonishDuke, My Secret Agent. Mother, ment, that his Highness's Secret mother, is it possible there is any Agent has just arrived. The Duke truth in it? Have they been again immediately retires to his private maneuvring, without my knowledge, apartments to receive the mysterious things that so nearly concern me ? stranger, leaving the court, and
Duchess. Not so, my son. I con- especially the Premier and the Grand fess to you that the idea had occurred Chamberlain, puzzled, anxious, and to me, and I was on the point of speak with an unpleasant presentiment. ing to you of it.
And the first act concludes. Duke. Oh, indeed !
In the second act the Secret Agent Duchess. I consider it time to think is in full activity. In the first scene about a suitable alliance for you. the Grand Chamberlain soliloquises
Duke. Certainly; and what they his uneasiness. He has in vain enwrite to me concerning the Princess deavoured to find out something about Amelia
the Duke's new friend: all his wily Duchess. Who writes ?
offers of service, of apartments, car. Duke. My Secret Agent; - might riage, horses, &c., have been declined; well dispose me at once to coincide during the whole of his thirty years in such a project. He represents her service at court he has found no knot as a very charming person ; young, so difficult to untie, no secret so imhandsome, witty and amiable. Really penetrable to his acuteness. He and I might do much worse than ally my- Count Steinhausen lay their heads self with the court of Brunswick together, but the sole result is an
Duchess. Your Secret Agent writes agreement to support each other the truth, (Aside) He is perhaps sent staunchly against the redoubtable and from Brunswick. (Aloud) I thank invisible influence. Incidents soon you heartily, my dear son, for the occur to augment their alarm. His words you have just spoken. They Highness, it is presently announced make me very happy. The good by George, will not require the usual sense and readiness with which you morning report. He will know, withenter into my dearest wish, are alone out that, what is going on. The able to sustain my failing health and ministers can assemble, as usual, in the feeble nerves.
Duchess's apartments. Is his HighDuke. Grant yourself a little re- mess unwell ? Count Steinhausen inpose. You seem fatigued. We can quires. Not in the least, but, on the talk about these things some other contrary, in perfect health and spirits, time.
and at that moment transacting busiCount Steinhausen has evil forebod- ness in his cabinet with — his Seings on learning from the Duchess that cret Agent. The Count's alarm is her son expects an old friend who doubled. Hitherto the Duke has alenjoys his confidence, is to remain ways been so eager to know all that unseen by all, and has heralded went on, so displeased when he his arrival by the communication to thought anything was kept from him, the Duke of so important a state and now-the change is great indeed, secret as the projected alliance with and bodes no good. Steinhausen bids the house of Brunswick. But he flat- the valet-de-chambre announce bim to ters himself he shall soon discover the the Duke, as particularly desiring an name and proceedings of the mysteri- audience. This is granted, and the ous personage. That afternoon, when minister craves permission to present the court are assembled and awaiting to his Highness his nephew, Count the dinner hour, George, the Duke's Oscar, on his return from his travels. gentleman of the chamber, who has D uke. Ah! I remember him well. long been dissatisfied to find that he He is a little younger than I am; an enjoys less influence than the last of agreeable young man and a good
rider. I shall be glad to see him. Duke. By my Secret Agent. (Count Steinhausen bows low.) He Count, (after a little struggle with will remain here some time, I hope. himself.) True it is, your Highness,
Count, (coughs and looks cautiously that I have constantly reproached around him.) Your Highness will myself and regretted that we were perhaps permit me to make to you a not permitted to inform you of everyconfidential communication with re- thing that passed, as it certainly is my gard to my nephew.
duty to inform you. But your HighDuke, (smiling.) A confidential com- ness is aware of the ardent wish of munication-to me? A real secret, her Highness the Duchessknown perbaps, as yet, to none but Duke. Yes, yes! to my mother and to you? No, Count. To work secretly for your no; I am not curious, nor care to Highness's good-so that it was imbe intrusted with such important possible for usmatters.
Duke. Enough of apologies, my good Count. But it is a matter that con- Count! What is done cannot be uneerns your Highness's house, and which done, and for the futurewill probably not be communicated to Count. I am fully resolved to obyou for some days by her Highness serve only the interests of my most the Duchess.
gracious master. Duke. Indeed! Well, I can wait. Duke. Why so ? That would cause -Or what should you say, my dear you uppleasantness with my lady Count, if I already knew something mother. I now know everything that of your secret?
you could possibly communicate to · Count, (astonished.) of the most me. gracious intention ?
Count. Everything, your Highness? Duke. Of my mother with respect Duke. Everything, Count Steinhauto
Count. The marriage of my nephew Count, (takes a paper from his portwith
folio.) Not excepting the contents of Duke. Exactly so.
this despatch to the court of Bavaria? Count. With the Princess Eugenie? Duke, (rejects the paper by a motion
Duke, (aside.) What! (Collects of his hand.) Doubtless that also, and, kimself, aloud) She has for some time if not, I am sure to learn it to-day in thought of marrying the Princess, and a manner less compromising for you. as regards your nephew
(The Count gazes hard at the Duke.) Count. Your Highness was fully Through my Secret Agent. (Gravely) informed of the project?
Yes, my dear Count, the time is gone Duke. Certainly.
by when a communication of that kind Count. By her Highness the from you, which it certainly is quite Duchess ?
your duty to make to me, might Duke. No; by my Secret Agent. have been reckoned as a service ren
Count, (aside.) The devil! He is dered. well informed. The subject was Count, (wipes the perspiration from broached this morning for the first his forehead.) I am in despair, your time.
Highness ! But since you are acquaint· Duke, (glancing over a newspaper.) ed with the contents of this paper, Is that all you have to say, Count? suffer me to beg that you will be graYou see that your secrets are to ciously pleased to favour me with your day valueless for me. I know them opinion of them, that I may be able already.
to act conformably with your HighCount. Yes, your Highness, and I ness's wishes and interests. am quite astonished-confounded. Duke, (takes the paper and glances
Duke. It certainly is a pity, my over it, represses a movement of surdear Count, that you should have prise and displeasure, and speaks in waited, to be frank with me, until a firm and decided tone.) I knew of the very day when your frankness is this affair. I shall give my opinion of no avail, since, as you perceive, I of it to my mother, but will not menam informed of everything.
tion that I have heard of it from you. · Count. Of everything?
(With a forced smile) Go and make