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with passions and incidents such as One reason for this, though perhaps this visible diurnal sphere affords ;- Tieck was not aware of it, might and thus,
be, that the story of Bluebeard was
after all founded on fact, and that “ To clothe the palpable and the familiar Bluebeard was, in truth, a FrenchWith golden exhalations of the dawn."
man of the fifteenth century. Tieck In Tieck's view, the marvellous of took the story from Perrault's Fairy the Nursery Tale was to be reduced Tales, most of which are borrowed as nearly as possible to the standard from Straparolas (1550, 1551), and of common life; no longer to remain all of them, we believe, with the exthe moving principle of the story, ception of Bluebeard, either from but only occasionally to manifest it- Straparola, the Pentamerone, or some self in fitful glimpses, sufficient to other Italian source. But the subremind the reader or spectator, that ject of Bluebeard was to be found an invisible agency, like a thread of sil- nearer home. Report ascribes the ver tissue, pervaded and ran through honour of being its original to the the whole web of human existence. famous or rather infamous Gilles de The main interest was to rest on hu. Laval Marechal de Retz, executed man passions, crimes, or follies, and and burnt in 1440 for crimes, of the ever-springing changes which the which the monstrous and almost inordinary course of real life exhibits. credible record slumbers in the arThe difficulty, therefore, was in such chives of Nantes, and the royal libraa case to find a subject which should ry of Paris. The boundless wealth, possess the airy charm of a Nursery the dealings in magic, the murders, Tale, and yet where the human in- of immense numbers of young perterest should not be entirely merged sons of both sexes, his demoniacal in the allegorical or the marvellous; atrocities and debaucheries, and --some neutral ground on which in- his terrible end, long rendered him fancy and manhood might shake a source of horror and disgust, till hands; and where the influence of his name, or rather some features the good and evil passions which of his character, became interwoven sway the heart within, should blend even with the nursery legends of the and harmonize naturally with the time.
From some of these, aided a agency of spells or spirits from with little by his own imagination, Perout. Such a subject seemed to be rault appears to have composed the presented by Bluebeard.
tale which has stimulated the curioIt was but transferring the scene sity, and shaken the nerves of so from Asia to Europe-exhibiting the many of the rising generation since characters on a back ground of chi- his time. valry-substituting the monastery There was little difficulty on the and the castle for the mosque and whole, therefore, in transplanting the the seraglio; attiring Bluebeard in scene of Bluebeard to the banks of a helmet instead of a turban; ex- the Rhine, and changing the three changing the despotism of the East tailed Bashaw of Colman, into the for the feudal tyranny and oppres- German Ritter; while all the old sion of Germany, and the thing was features of the tale, even to the madone to his hand. Daughters were gical practices and secret murders as commonly brought to sale under of the gloomy feudal chieftain, were the holy Roman Empire, as in Bagdat accurately preserved. The great aim or Cairo; necromancy was as much of Tieck throughout is evidently to the order of the day in the one as keep down the marvellous as muchthe other; wives now and then dis- as possible, so as even to render it appeared in a German Burg as well doubtful whether there be any maras in a Turkish harem; curiosity was vel in the case after all ; to pitch a failing not confined to Europe; all every
on a subdued and natural this, in short, required no alteration; key, and to produce his catastrophes Bluebeard seemed to conform him- by motives and incidents arising naself to the custom of the country as turally out of the contrasted characnaturally as if he had been native, ters of his piece.* and to the manner born.
This is peculiarly the case with * The very names of the characters are selected on this homely principle: Peter, Simon, Anthony, Anne, Bridget, Agnes, instead of the high sounding and romantic appellatives which distinguish an ordinary German Ritter Roman.
the hero, the German representa- dreams are made of, can find matter tive of Bluebeard, Peter Berner him for an hour's meditation. But why self. At first we see in him nothing should we try to describe in our dull but an ordinary feudal chief of the prose what Tieck has painted with so time, brief and calm in speech, pru. much more clearness and liveliness dent in council, valiant in war, cruel in his own ? or lenient as suits his purposes ; We pass over the first act, which rather an admirer of the fair sex, does little towards the advancement sensitive on the subject of his blue- of the piece. It is occupied almost beard, which he feels to be his weak entirely with an expedition underpoint; not without a perception of taken by the brothers of Wallenrod, humour; and, on the whole, a favour with the view of surprising the terite with his vassals. It is only as we ror of the surrounding country, Peter draw near the close, that by hints and Berner, in which expedition, howglimpses we begin to perceive the se. ever, it turns out, that the conspiracret ferocity of temperament which tors are themselves surprised, deburns under this outward crust of feated without difficulty, and made calmness of deportment. Peter Ber- prisoners by the redoubtable proner indulges in no harangues against prietor of the blue beard. Its chief curiosity and its consequences, he merit, which, however, is entirely makes no boast of his past achieve- episodical, is the humorous contrast ments, he allows the dead to rest of the professional fool of the famibut he is not the less determined, if ly, with the professional wise man necessary, to make short work with or counsellor of the neighbourhood; the living. He is agitated by no pas- the wit and good sense turning out, sion, affected by no fears, tormented in the end, to be entirely on the side by no remorse. He has been ac- of the fool, the folly on the side of tuated all his life only by one prin- the counsellor; a view of the case, ciple, that of trampling under foot, which, though scouted at first with without hesitation, everything which much contempt, begins to dawn at stands in the way of his will; and last, even on the obtuse intellects of the crimes to which this unalterable Heymon and Conrade von Wallenresolve may have led, he does not rod. regard as crimes, because any other In the second act, however, we line of conduct would have appear- find ourselves at the Castle of Frieded to him as folly.
heim, where Sisters Anne, and AgThe subsidiary characters are nes, are endeavouring to while away grouped about him with much di- a tedious hour by music and converversity of feature and situation. Even sation, now and then enlivened by the character of the sisters ;-Agnes, a little gentle malice towards each the giddy, childish, and thoughtless other. bride and intended victim of Berner, with scarcely any wish beyond that of
* Agnes (with a lute.) Now, listen, dear gay clothes and gilded apartments;
sister, see if I can play this air now.
Anne. You have no turn for music. and Anne, more serene, reflecting, and impassioned, thinking constantly
You will never play in life. of her lover, who thinks much more
Agnes. And why not I as well as of tournaments and adventures than
others ? Come now, listen. of her, are discriminated by light, yet
In the blasts of winter decided touches. The brothers, too,
Are the sere leaves sighing, are ably drawn, and the peculiarities
And the dreams of love of their character are made to exer
Faded are and dying. cise a natural and important influence
Cloudy shadows flying
Over field and plain, on the progress of the drama; the one
Sad the traveller hieing prudent and farseeing; the second a
Through the blinding rain. light-hearted, light-headed, and thick
Overhead the moon sculled adventurer; the third, a hy- Looks into the vale ; pochondriacal dreamer, whom eron
From the twilight forest the rubs and shocks of the world
Comes a song of wail. about him are scarcely sufficient to "Ah! the winds have wafted awaken from his reverie, and who, My faithless love away, out of the hanging of the hinge of a Swift as lightning flashes door, or the stuff that his morning Fled Life's golden ray.
0, wherefore came the vision, Agnes. I understand you not. But, Or why so brief its stay!
in truth, I have often thought if I were Once with pinks and roses
to arrive at some strange castle, where Were my temples shaded ;
every thing was new to me, how I should Now tile flowers are withered,
hurry from one chamber to another, alNow the trees are faded;
ways impatient, always curious-how I Now the Spring departed,
should make myself acquainted by degrees Yields to winter's sway,
with every article of furniture it containAnd my Love false hear
ed! Here I know every nail by heart.
Anne. Give me the lute a moment. He is far away.” Life so dark and wilder'd,
(Sings.) What remains for thee?
O well with him that in the arms
Of love can sink to rest;
No danger harms, no care alarms,
The quiet of his breast.
No change is here, no doubt or fear,
To mar his tranquil lot ; Agnes. Canst tell me why in all these ditties there is always so much of love ?
The present joy is all too near, Have these song-makers no other sub
The past is all forgot. ject to harp upon ?
With warmer caressing, Anne. They think it one with which
Lip to lip pressing, every one must sympathize.
The warmer the longer, Agnes. Not I. Notbing wearies me
Each moment that flies, more than these eternal complaints. But,
Draws closer and stronger, come, explain to me what this love isI can make nothing of it.
Love's gentlest of ties. Anne. Nay, prithee, dear sister !
Agnes. That is one of those ditties Agnes. How long has he been gone- which are more easily sung than underthree years ?
stood. Anne. Ah! Agnes. There you sit and sigh, where
Enler ANTHONY. you should be telling your story like a girl of sense.
Anth. A strange household to be sure ! Anne. I am but a poor story-teller.
Singing in every room ; Simon walking Agnes. Well, but — seriously - this about, and gazing at the walls; Leopold love must be very sttange affair.
preparing to ride on some mad advenAnne. Well for you that you compre
ture. Faith, if I were not here to keep the hend it not.
whole together, our establishment would
be scattered like chaff before the wind. Agnes. I am always gay and cheerful. You are the very picture of melancholy eldest of the family, you are bound to have
Agnes. To be sure. As you are the -you have no sympathy with the world and its events-your very existence is a
understanding enough for us all. mere outward shadow of life-but all
Anth. Do you know what is in Leohas long been dead and lifeless within.
pold's head ? Anne. Each has his own way-leave
Agnes. What can it be?
Anne. Something absurd, I am certain. me to follow mine. Agnes. But how can any one be so
Agnes. You call many things absurd
which are not so. insensible to joy? To me the world looks so kindly, so beautiful, so varied, methinks
Enter LEOPOLD. we can never see or know too much of it. I would wish to be always in motion, tra- Leo. Now, good-bye for a time; I must velling through unknown cities, climbing leave you for a day or two. hills, seeing other dresses, and other man- Anth. Where are you going ? ners,
Then I would shut myself up in Leo. I don't exactly know. My nosome palace, with the key of every cham- tion, dear brother, has always been this, ber or subinet in my hand. I would open that a man makes his life a burden them one after the other, take out the when he considers every step he takes beautiful aud rare jewels, carry them to too minutely. Begin as we like, it all the window, gaze at them till I was comes to the same thing ; it is good luck tired; then fly to the next, and so on, and or mischance that makes our plans wise on, without end.
or foolishi. Anne. And so grow old ? So labour Anth. Brother, such language becomes through a weary unconnected life? not a man.
Leo. Not a man, I dare say, according Simon. Ah! how can I explain such to your notion; an old superannuated ani. a thing to you! mal, who has passed over youth as over Anth. Among these half-witted creasome bridge which was to fall, once for all, tures one might almost turn crazed himbehind him; and who within the precincts self. of age, sits down delighted to put on a Leo. Well, since you can't explain it, grave face, deal in sober counsel, listen I may go. When I come back, I'll take when other men speak, and find fault with your advice.
[Exit. every thing about him. A man, such as Anth. His wildness is sure to lead you would make, would censure the cat
him into some other scrape. for instance, if he did not catch his mice Simon. No doubt. according to his notions, and in the most Anne. How do you feel, brother? approved fashion. I always hated to Simon. Well-I have been thinking hear people say-He acts like a man- of many things this morning. There he is a model of a man--for ten to one may be many changes soon. but these heroes were mere overgrown
Anne. How so? children-creatures that creep through Anth. Do not ask him. It would be the world on all fours, and only meet labour lost. He knows just as little as with more stumbling blocks by trying to you; and observation only keeps his folly avoid them. And yet the bystanders ex- alive, which otherwise would have died claim, Lord, what a deal of experience long ago for want of nourishment. he has got!
Agnes. But let him speak, brother ! Anth. That portrait, I am to under- Anth. As you will, so you don't constand, is intended for me?
demn me to listen to his talk. [Exit. Leo. Oh! no. You have more sense Simon. I can speak with more comabout you, though you won't admit it, fort now that Anthony is gone. He is even to yourself. But most men, now, always shrugging his shoulders when think your thoroughpaced plodder must things are not according to his own no. be a more sensible fellow than your hop, tions; and yet he has a most limited skip, and jump man, and yet the differ- understanding. He is like the mass of ence between them is only in their mo- men, who blame without knowing why, tion.
and often merely because the subject is Anth. You will admit, however, that above their comprehension. with the latter many things are constantly Anne. True. going wrong.
Simon. And yet one would think that Leo. Naturally enough! because he the very reason for bestowing a little undertakes a great many things. Your more attention upon it; when we are slow-going fellow cannot go wrong, be- learning nothing new, what we learncause he spends all his time in calcula- ed before begins to fade in us. ting, and thrusting out all his feelers on Agnes. Brother Simon speaks exceedall sides before he ventures a step. Ah, ing wisely to-day. brother, if we could see, for instance, how Simon. It is only that you seldom unall is arranged, and set to rights for us be- derstand me.
appears to you wise, fore hand, would we not be tempted to because you may have thought something laugh, think ye, at our deep-laid plans? of the same kind yourself. Anth. A pleasant philosophy.
Agnes. What is understanding, then ? Leo. But I must break off, and take Simon. Why, that our understandings my leave.
I feel so cheerful, I am sure can't very easily comprehend; but it is I shall be fortunate.
certain that, like an onion, it has a num
ber of skins; each of these is called an Enter SIMON.
understanding, and the last, the kernel Simon. So you are going, brother? of the whole, is the true understanding Leo. I am.
itself. They are the truly intelligent Simon. I don't think the circumstances who in their thoughts cmploy not the are favourable.
mere outer rind, but the kernel itself; Leo. How so?
but with most men, prudent as they Simon. There is such a moving, and think themselves, nothing but the very howling, and scudding among the clouds. outermost skin is ever set in motion
Agnes. How do you mean, brother? and such is brother Anthony.
Anth. As he usually does--he does Agnes. Ha, ha! odd enough. An not know why, but he thinks so.
onion and the understanding, what a Simon. One frequently cant tell why he comparison ! And how then does broanticipates misfortune ; yet there is some- ther Leopold think? thing within which
Simon. Not at all-he thinks only Leo. Well?
with the tongue; and as other men eat my words.
to support existence, so he talks incessantly to supply him with thought. What
“ The Garden. he has said the one moment he has forgotten the next; his thoughts are like
PETER BERNER, AGNES. vegetables, they are cropped the instant they show a green leaf above the ground, Agnes. Knight, you are pressing. and so shoot on till summer, when they
Peter. How otherwise shall I try to are left to run to seed; and so with gain your love? Leopold, when his summer is over, and Agnes. You love me, then—as you he gossips no more, the people will say tell me? of him, There! what an excellent fa- Peter. From my heart, lady. ther of a family!
Agnes. But what do you call love ? Agnes. And how do you think, bro- Peter. If you feel it not, I cannot dether?
scribe it to you. Simon. Ithat is the difficulty-that Agnes. So I hear from all who call is what vexes me; to conceive how it is themselves in love. we think! Observe, that which was
Peter. Because it is the truth ;-do thought must itself think; a puzzle · you doubt my sincerity? enough to drive a sensible man mad. Agnes. Oh no! not so; butAgnes. How so? Simon. You do not understand me at
ANTHONY enters. present, because such ideas never occurred to yourself. Endeavour to compre- Peter. I speed but indifferently with hend:- I think, and with the instrument my wooing, knight. by which I think, I am to think how Anth. How? this thinking machine itself is framed. Peter. Your fair sister believes not The thing is impossible ; for that which thinks can never be comprehended by Agnes. You are pleased to say so. itself.
Peter. I am no orator; I am a rough Agnes. It is very true-such notions man, born and brought up amidst arms are enough to drive a man mad.
and tumult; fair speeches are not at my Simon. Well then—and do you ask command; I can only say I love, and why it is that I am melancholy?" with that my whole stock of oratory is
at an end. Yet those who say little are The conversation is shortly after
more to be trusted than many who deal interrupted by the announcement of
at once in fine-spun phrases and false the intended visit of Peter Berner, hearts. If I cannot express myself gracewho, having long heard of the fame fully, I have but to learn the art of lying, of the beauties of Friedheim, has and that may count for something. So come in person to judge for himself. believe me, then, when I say I love you Some vague reports, as the sudden from my heart. deaths of his wives, and his own Agnes. And what if I do believe you? gloomy temper, had reached Fried- Peter. A strange question! Then you heim ; but, in the mind of the giddy must love me in return.
it Agnes, these weigh little against the is—how shall I express myself-my.fi. prospect of a rich establishment, and gure, my appearance is not inviting that of rummaging among the secrets enough—or rather is disagreeable? It is and treasures of Berner's castle. true, there is something about me which When the new suitor urges his pro- strikes one as singular till they know me; posals, she hesitates for a little, but that surely could be no reason for
Honesty pleads his beard, the loneliness of rejecting an honourable man.
is better than a fair outside. What if I his castle, the shortness of the time
have a bluish, aye, or a blue beard, as allowed her for decision; but long people say—still that is better than no before the interview in the garden beard at all. is over, it is evident her mind is
Anth. Well, sister“ We see how it is,-she will be the sixteenth Mrs Shuffle that would be an inhuman superstition
Peter. Perhaps you think though top.” The truth is, Peter pleads his that I must be something different, somecase remarkably well; and we re- thing meaner than other men, because commend the general outline of his my beard is not of the most approved statement as a model to young gen- colour. Ladies know how to change the tlemen who are about to rush upon colour of theirs ; and for your love I will their fate by “popping the ques. do as much for mine. Can man do tion,” Probatum est.