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ACT V, SCENE i
FRIEDRICH THE CHAMBERLAIN alone
FR. By heaven I am exhausted from the traveling I did while summoning the palace counselors from hither and yon. It’s a wonder to me if King Charlemagne doesn’t want to stir up some warlike action. I also wonder why he did not want Einhard to be present at this assembly. These matters are certainly raising some specter. Now, while those palace counselors whom I mentioned are coming out in public, I will point out where you may easily find each type of person, so that you will not waste your labor through too much trouble, if you wish to meet either a rascal or a decent person, an honest man or a dishonest.
Whoever wants to meet a chronic perjurer, I send him to the marketplace. Whoever wants a liar and a braggart, let him visit the circus. Look for those who harm their fathers at the shops of the merchants. At the same place are those who set traps for money, not birds. Those in charge of pigeons are in the fish-market. In the lower part of the Forum both good men and rich men walk. In the middle part of the Forum, are the real girl-watchers who ogle the maids. Impudent, talkative, malevolent men are in the upper part of the Forum. They boldly and without reason utter insults about each other, and are men who themselves have things that might be said against them in all honesty. In the barbershops are those who make up new rumors. In the baths are those who languish from lovesickness. In the taverns are those who sell themselves. Close to the entrance to the temples are whose who plot nothing good. In public there are always streetwalkers, but at home they are virgins.
But in the meantime, the door is creaking. I must curb my tongue.
ACT V, SCENE ii
IM. Doesn’t the amount of pleasure in life, as we pass our existence, seem small compared with those things that are disagreeable? Matters have been arranged this way in mankind’s existence, and it is pleasing to God that sorrow should attend on pleasure as her companion, and if some good should happen to us, more trouble immediately follows. I have now had personal experience of this in my case, when I felt pleasure for a short time only. I had the opportunity of seeing my Einhard for just one night, but he quickly left me before dawn. I now feel bereft, because he is gone, the one whom I love above all others. By heaven, I felt more grief at his departure than I felt pleasure on his arrival. I must believe that Penelope was really unhappy, when she was compelled to live without her noble husband for so long a time! I know that this is now true of my heart, for while my salvation and my golden eye’s delight is absent for one little hour, I feel that he’s apart from me an entire year. For this did I drink the cup of love; for this are we both dear to each other; for this have I have been held fast as if by glue; for this do I wander in the meanders and labyrinths of love. For this have I blotted my spouse from my mind, this King of Greece. For this have I substituted my Einhard in his place, and not even death itself will transfer my love elsewhere.
But who is that squared-off, randy-looking peasant who comes this way with slow and staggering steps?
ACT V, SCENE iii
COR. Hey, feet, what’s the problem? Is this how it will be? Now, feet, can you stand steady or not? Or do you want me to fall and roll in the mud like a pig? I will see if I can measure six feet with my feet. I can’t. The devil take you wicked feet, who don’t want to carry me. By Faunus, I will punish you in the worst possible way by making you walk barefoot through the snow. This wine I drank has certainly beaten me. He’s a tricky wrestler: first he takes the feet a nd I had barely drunk one tankard, and already the walls were spinning with dizziness and my eyes were seeing double. Now he has all my money, but I put up with this hangover.
EM. This man is really in his cups.
COR. I have come here now to get a wife for my son Jack, the doctor. If my buddy Menalcas was able to get King Charlemagne’s cook for his daughter, why can’t I get some palace maiden from the women’s quarters and give her to my son, who is such an educated and handsome youth?
EM. Why is he talking about the women’s quarters?
COR. But hey, what do I see? By heaven, I want this girl as a bride for my son. Hey, look at that! How elegant, how refined in appearance, just right in age! I’m not surprised that my son does not want to marry a peasant girl — if I had this girl, I would blot all those country girls from my mind. This one could get heat for King David when he was cold in his bed. She could fill a pair of boots; she could milk my cows and clean the manure out of the barn. I’ll go right up to her and win her over. I’ll ask her myself. Who knows but maybe I can catch a fish in this pond.
EM. Does he want something with me?
COR. Greetings, o maiden, greetings, and hello, as well.
EM. Hello. What do you want here, countryman? Tell me.
COR. That you not reject the one who desires you, who lives and has his being — or doesn’t — only as you live, whose hope is in you alone.
EM. Tell me who this is. Who desires me?
COR. My son, the doctor, sent me to you to encourage a relationship and mutual favor between himself and you.
EM. For what purpose?
COR. He wants to marry you. My opinion is the same — I want that too.
EM. What are you saying? Why is he looking for me?
COR. To address you, to embrace you, to fondle you. For if you do not help him, he is certainly done for. Already he is in a deep depression. Please, my girl, do quickly what I ask. Wonderfully save him, o wonderful one. Show that your inner nature is kind.
Em. Hey, I know your tricks. Perhaps you’ve come here to make fun of me.
COR. I am human, so are you. As Faunus and Jupiter both love me, I have not come here to make fun of you, and I do not think it right to do so. I told the truth to you: my son begged me to ask you to be his wife.
EM. You are talking nonsense.
COR. I certainly am not talking nonsense. By heaven, if you saw my son Doctor Jack face-to-face, you would take him into your arms right away, he is so handsome.
EM. I’m sure.
COR. He’s a man for all seasons.
EM. I believe it.
COR. By God, he’s more sharp-eyed than Lynceus.
EM. I agree.
COR. He sings like a nightingale.
EM. So I’ve heard.
COR. He came from an egg.
EM. Perhaps he’s a chicken.
COR. He’s a doctor, and a doctor is a rare bird!
EM. I believe it.
COR. You would be a cover very worthy of this platter.
EM. Why doesn’t he marry a country girl?
COR. Many of them have coaxed him, but he has rejected them all and keeps away from all of them, aside from you alone.
EM. If so, then this fear troubles me: if he is so fastidious, perhaps when he sees me, his eyes will alter his opinion of me; perhaps his fastidious elegance will reject my country appearance right away.
COR. He will not do this. Have confidence in this. I will now open the door for you. If you wish to marry my son, say so, then send that ring on your finger to him as a gift.
Em. Don’t jump out of your skin just yet.
COR. Why do you say so?
EM. Lips get lettuce like themselves.
COR. I still don’t understand.
EM. So I’ll explain it more clearly. If you son is from your family, be sure to seek a spouse for him who is like you.
EM. A countryman will naturally love a countrywoman.
COR. Now at last I understand what you are saying. But what does this have to do with me? I’m not a threepenny man. Farewell, I am heading home. The sky will keep revolving, even though this girl doesn’t care for my Doctor Jack.
EM. Gracious, how long this drunken countryman has delayed me. I think the son must be just like the father. But isn’t that Einhard coming this way? It is him.
ACT V, SCENE iv
EIN. Now I stand between the sacrifice and the stone, and I don’t know what to do. I am completely beside myself, my mind is so disturbed by fear, hope, joy, grief, and by wondering about this unforeseen, sudden trouble.
EM. By God, why does he come in such a state?
EIN. Unless my mind is astray, retribution will not be far from me. My forces are now utterly driven against the wall unless I can contrive something to prevent my king from knowing that I was in her bedroom — or unless some Deus ex machina rescue me.
EM. I don’t understand what he is saying. I’ll go a little closer.
EIN. Ah, wretched and unhappy Einhard, the whole affair rests on you alone. You made this hash; now you have to eat it all. You were in the habit of lending advice to others, but now, by heaven, you do not have a penny’s worth of advice or assistance for yourself, so bankrupt are you. Such disaster now hangs over you that, unless you put sturdy props under it, you will never be able to withstand the fall, and huge mountains of trouble will crash down on you. I am not able to calculate how I can disentangle myself from my entanglements.
EM. Immortal gods, what trouble should I believe has fallen on this man?
EIN. Many difficulties are all coming together in one place and beat on my head all at once. Multiple problems keep me in suspense: my poverty, love, the night, the snow, our union, but especially my king’s anger and today’s sudden convocation of the counselors to the palace, with me excluded. Indeed, I have no safe spot where I might fix my hopes.
EM. Alas, I am afraid that my father knows this affair of ours.
EIN. Why am I still alive? Why not die? What more good can come to me in this life? My heart is now most wretched; it is melting away bit by bit, as when you put salt in water.
EM. I am wondering where this speech is leading, but I’ll keep listening.
EIN. I’m turned to stone, and unhappy as I am, I cannot move in any direction. The whole affair is revealed. The trial is now going on for my life! Now my crimes have been exposed, which I had hoped would be secret. I am neither dead nor alive, and I don’t know what I should do now. I don’t know how to go away or how to face him. I am numb with fear.
EM. Woe is me, what trouble my mind foresees for me!
EIN. If he hears of this, what remedy can I find for his wrath? Should I speak? I will only inflame him. Should I stay silent? I would provoke him. Should I excuse myself? I would be washing a brick. Oh how unhappy I am. I tremble for myself, but Emma also torments my thoughts. I pity her and I really fear for her. She is now keeping me here, for if she weren’t here, I would immediately see to myself and flee my king’s wrath. I would scrape my things together and straightway take to my heels.
EM. By God Almighty, now my Einhard is meditating flight!
EIN. Ah, which path can I pursue to find my darling Emma?
EM. He says my name. I anticipate some great trouble from this!
EIN. I want to tell my trouble to my life and my beloved!
EM. I’ll go near and call him. Einhard!
EIN. Greetings, my true love. I missed you, my soul. I was waiting and you appeared just at the right time.
EM. Oh, what is it that you fear? Is everything going according to your wishes?
EIN. I wish.
Em. What are you saying?
EIN. Woe is me.
EM. What is it? What do you fear? Tell me.
EIN. Things could not be in a worse position than they are now. I’m done for!
EIN. I’m finished.
EM. What does that mean?
EIN. We are totally ruined.
EM. Why are you killing me?
EIN. The king saw us.
EIN. You and me.
EM. By God!
EIN. Kissing and carrying.
EM. Alas, what am I hearing?
EIN. Everything is at a boil.
EM. Who said all this?
EIN. The chamberlain was just with me.
EIN. The very one.
EM. So, what word did he bring you?
EIN. That the king was awake all night.
EM. I’m dead.
EIN. That he often looked out his window.
EM. I’m undone, undone. I’m utterly ruined. In my misery my limbs are all shivering with dread. I don’t know where to look for assistance, safety, or refuge for myself, or where to obtain any means of relief. My body trembles, my heart is pounding. Hold me, hold me.
EIN. Do you want me to get water for you, Emma?
EM. Alas, what am I hearing? Am I in my right mind? Where am I? What if my fate goes so far as to take me away from you? Nothing would be worth living for.
EIN. If this matter could be ordered according to my wishes, my Emma, by heaven I would live with you and die with you.
EM. Now I’ve said this affair in three words: Farewell and preserve me. For sorrow and anxiety prevent me from saying any more to you. Farewell.
EIN. Oh, my beloved, farewell for the last time (as I fear in my heart), hail and farewell.
ACT V, SCENE v
EIN. Now I am really the most wretched and unhappy of all men, and I cannot decide what I should do. Should I stand by Emma or heed the king? If I abandon her, I fear for her life, but if I assist her, I dread his threats, and it is difficult to deceive him. He has already found out about this love affair, and is watching me with hostile feelings, insuring that I don’t contrive some delay for Emma’s marriage. If he senses that I am doing so, I’m done for, and if he merely wishes to, he will find a reason, rightly or wrongly, to destroy me in the worst possible way. O God Most High, who shake the vault of the heavens with your great roaring thunderbolts, who care for and nourish the human race, through whom we pass this mortal life, in whose hands are the hopes for life of all men, grant, I beg, that this day preserve me to attain success in my affairs. You alone can make my tottering, unsteady affairs peaceful and secure.
ACT V, SCENE vi
CHAR. Have things come to such a pass that I now hate worse than a dog or a snake that man who was just recently so dear to me? But here this “good man” comes as if he had done a good thing!
EIN. I’m done for; all unaware I have been spotted by the king.
Ch. I will see what he wants to contrive now. I will pretend that I have seen or heard nothing today and will assume a happy face.
EIN. What should I do or say? I’ll do what seems best: I will throw myself at the king’s feet in supplication and I will ask to be excused from the court, while there is still time.
CHAR. Hail, Einhard. What are you doing here?
EIN. Most famed and most excellent king, previously I attributed to the scrupulousness of my mind the fact that those duties and travails, which your illustrious majesty once laid on me, unworthy as I am, seemed to me weighty and slippery. Now I see myself exposed to a thousand dangers and countless activities every hour, in fact during every single moment. However I feel that the rewards and benefits for all this perspiration which I shed are insufficient, to the extent that if I wished, noble king, to serve you any longer, then (like Hercules) I would be accomplishing nothing less than the greatest of labors without compensation. Consequently, inspired by this and by many other reasons, I am forced, noble king, to come to you as a suppliant and beg your excellent majesty for an honorable discharge from my duties.
CHAR. I see clearly enough what your intentions are, and I will shortly tell you what mine are concerning this matter. But now I am to have a meeting of my principal men, and with them I will carefully deliberate about what you ask. Meanwhile you wait here so that there will be no delay when I order your presence.
EIN. I will do so, most merciful king. I will tarry here as you command.
ACT V, SCENE vii
CHARLEMAGNE, ROYAL COUNSELORS, FRIEDRICH
CHAR. He’s gone. “Hence those tears.” After losing all hope of keeping the affair secret, now he has a bad conscience. He has slipped away; he asks for a discharge; he pretends that the rewards for his service are insufficient for him. I will make sure that he receives a very sufficient reward. But, as I perceive with my eyes, I see my royal counselors approaching right on time. Now, bodyguards, take your station outside the chamber, while I situate myself on this regal chair and each of them takes his seat. To them I will explain this business from beginning to end.
No foreign disturbance nor any public matter has impelled me to summon you so suddenly to the palace, dear Senators, but a private, personal affair, which I know will be of importance to you as well. In vain will a ruler insure the public weal if he cannot correctly see to the welfare of himself and his household. Therefore, valued counselors, since my household has been afflicted with no moderate disaster, I want to employ you as experienced doctors for this evil. I know that you will be most loyal in giving your wholesome advice in this matter and any others.
COUNS. O greatest and most merciful king, with what speed, with what care, with what energy each one of us will carry out his task, we will envelop in silence for the present. That your majesty, 0 most merciful king, has suffered some disaster elicits from all of us to an equal degree the maximum of grief. Not only that, but it also consecrates all the energies of our minds, all our attention, indeed all of our talents to healing and curing any hazard to your majesty, if only, noble king, you deign to explain in detail the totality of this disaster.
CHAR. Although this monstrous grief which now stifles me, senators, could encourage me to postpone my narrative even longer, still I will reveal what distress the clandestine love of my scribe and my daughter has caused, and how much disgrace and dishonor they have spattered on my royal state.
COUNS. Good God, what do we hear from you, most merciful king? Alas, what foul deed did your secretary contrive with your daughter?
CHAR. What lovers usually do, the very thing that I saw with my own eyes. Today, at first light, when I peered out of my room, wanting to view the snow and the stars, right then I saw the door of the women’s quarters stealthily open, and at the same time I heard some people whispering in low voices inside. I waited to see what this meant. Soon I see a man, and I wonder what business there is for men in the early morning among the girls. Then, after the door was open wide, I spy our scribe Einhard embracing a girl, saying goodbye and on the point of departing. But when he saw that much snow had fallen, he quickly goes back in, fearing that his footprints might betray that a man had been in the women’s quarters. In the meantime, while I wait for some time to see what the end of this matter would be, Look! it happens that my excellent daughter Emma is carrying Einhard for some distance through the snow, lifting him onto her shoulders with his legs dangling.
So, my dear senators, now that you have heard what the offense was, in what manner it happened, and how they have offended, I give you all now, individually and as a group, an injunction that you, as your conscience guides, state what I should do in this affair and what punishment both of them deserve.
THE FIRST COUNSELOR O most famed and most excellent of all kings, I am most unwilling to state my opinion to your majesty. However, since you have not only enjoined us most rigorously to do so, but have also appealed to the conscience of each of us that we make an independent judgment about Einhard and your daughter, therefore I can state that this scribe, because of this crime of a secret love affair, should be made acquainted with the cross or that his wicked neck given a good dose of hemp — or be executed by some other deadly method, on the grounds that he inflicted no trivial disgrace upon Your Majesty and a blot and a stain on the king’s betrothed daughter.
COUNS. 2 I believe that the previous speaker was sincere, but the truth is “As many men, so many opinions, each one has his own custom.” By no means do I think Einhard should be deprived of life, but he should be punished by exile. I would order him to be sent to an island or some remote land. It is preferable to lose one’s dear homeland than to lose one’s even dearer life.
COUNS. 3 I think that we must deliberate further. It is a serious matter to cut a man off from fire or water, or to roll up a man’s life. We need to put a brake on this. We must seriously ponder all aspects before casting out a citizen from his native land or city, much less a man from his life. Surely judges, you do not believe that we should immediately, as our first step, jump to that antique horrid law about witchcraft? Come, bailiff, bind him to the stake, tie his hands, cover his head; hang him from the fatal tree by a rope, or (because of his status) behead him? No, this proceeding is not right in such a great, difficult matter. No light or easy penalties are demanded. We are speaking of his blood and breath, for which the great Redeemer of the world shed His own blood, and which bears the sacred image of the everlasting Creator. No postponement of judgment is too long. I repeat, let us not bring a decisive judgment about the life of an unhappy mortal in an arbitrary and casual way, as if we were dealing with the head of a squash or a poppy. We are not sculpting a man out of oak, nor by heaven, are we passing a regulation by which the enjoyment of sunlight may be restored. Therefore I think that this deliberation should be expanded and extended.
COUNS. 4 Most august emperor, I rather think that you should do what is in your interests. I judge it thus: if you send your secretary into exile, everyone will learn of this matter. If you order him to be killed, you will cast an even greater stain on yourself and your daughter. But if you let him live, you will provide a bad example for the future. My suggestion and opinion is that it is not convenient that he be punished by exile or execution. It would be more proper for him to be killed by poison while in prison or in some other secret place.
COUNS. 5 O most merciful king Charlemagne, if I may speak about this very matter without circumlocution and freely pour all the thoughts of my heart into Your Majesty’s lap: although it is a monstrous thing to chastise your daughter and such a learned and intelligent man, a secretary proven faithful in other respects, still it is occasionally useful and expedient. If I were king, I would chastise these two for their faults that much deserve it, but unwillingly, if it were only my sense of duty that demands I do so. This sickness has now encroached upon good morals, so that nearly all of them are half-dead, and while good morals sicken, bad morals grow lush like well-watered plants. Now there is nothing more common here than bad morals. Of them you may reap an abundant crop, and here a group of men are making the interests of the few much more valued than whatever might benefit the many. Thus private influence overcomes what is advantageous, influence which in many respects is an obstacle and a nuisance, and which hinders both private and public affairs. For this reason, if my servant deceived me, his master, or if my unworthy daughter deceived me, her father, without the possibility of grace or pardon, then I would punish both my servant and my daughter with suitable punishment of the worst type.
COUNS. 6 O noble king, the more carefully I ponder these deliberations, the more I consider that my opinion stands on all fours with what has already been proposed.
COUNS. 7 O most ollustrious Charlemagne, I have a similar opinion. This Einhard, who was not ashamed to corrupt with his wicked character your daughter — who is already betrothed to another! — and to lie hidden the whole night long in her bedroom, and to wiggle out like a worm from the women’s quarters — I repeat, that wicked Einhard I would make more heavily laden with shame and disgrace than the sea is full of waves during a storm.
COUNS. 8 O most august king and emperor Charlemagne, in forming my opinion, my mind is tossed here and there in different directions. But this course seems to take the prize: that your secretary be pushed into exile abroad, into the farthest lands, as he deserves. That is my opinion. As to what must be done about your daughter Emma, my King, that is not clear as yet.
COUNS. 9 Most august Charlemagne, while I was debating in my mind about the wicked love affair of your secretary Einhard and your daughter, there came to me most opportunely the tale which the old history of the great Caesar Augustus records. He could bear the death of his kin with more patience than their disgrace. Indeed he relegated both Julias, his daughter and his niece, who were stained with every vice. In his absence his letter about his daughter was read publicly by the quaestor, thus making it known to the Senate. For shame he avoided the company of men for some time. He even considered having her put to a shameful death. At about the same time, when one of her freed-woman associates named Phoebe committed suicide by hanging herself, Augustus said that he would rather have been Phoebe’s father. He denied his exiled daughter the use of wine and any form of bodily luxury, and would not permit any man, slave or free, to approach her without his permission, and even then not without being informed of the man’s age, his appearance, his complexion, any distinguishing marks or scars. Finally after five years she was allowed to transfer from the island onto the mainland with somewhat easier conditions than before. But he could not be prevailed upon to recall her altogether. Thus Augustus punished his daughter and his niece, both named Julia. What punishment your Emma should receive, great Charlemagne, you must see to yourself. These are my thoughts.
COUNS. 10 I consider that the precedent just put forward about the great Augustus Caesar should be closely followed in this matter. Here you have my opinion, most august King.
COUNS. 11 On the other hand, most august emperor Charlemagne, the more I deliberate on this matter, the less I can see what the most reasonable choice may be — except for this one point which is fixed in my mind: I can affirm that I am in constant doubt. However, if I consider the kindhearted mercifulness granted to you by God, or your wisdom which is beyond human understanding, I know that no one in this world could be named who would make a more wise, a more merciful decision about the love affair of Einhard and your daughter than you can by yourself, thrice-noble king. This is my opinion.
COUNS. 12 My decision is the same. Great king, your mercy will certainly manage this business in a most equitable fashion, for what could do better in these situations than golden mercy? It was this mercy towards his son Absalom that made King David illustrious. Mercy was the reason, great ding, that Pericles on his deathbed considered as his greatest source of pride that no one had ever put on mourning clothes because of his actions. This divine mercy made King Philip of Macedon greater and better than his son Alexander. It was principally this mercy, o most merciful Charlemagne, that raised Julius Caesar himself, the founder of your empire, to the heroes and to heaven. In the battle at Pharsalus, as he rode about in the midst of the tumult, he shouted: “Spare the citizens, Soldiers, spare the citizens.” Come now, o most merciful king; spare your daughter and your secretary, just as you recently did in the case of your son Pepin, who revolted three times against his father, and whom you finally made a monk. Why are you not going to do the same thing now in the case of your daughter?
CHAR. I have heard your opinions, now hear mine. You are aware that we men face many different vicissitudes. You also are aware we must never yield to despair, but also that those actions which cannot be undone or corrected must be entrusted to Divine Providence. You are also aware, esteemed senators, that men occasionally cannot act as they would wish, if conditions do not allow. You know that the higher our standing, the more was are exposed to envious tongues. Finally, you know that, like ripe fruit, marriageable girls are difficult to guard. As a result, in order to place the whole affair in God’s hands and in order to hope for the best for Einhard and my daughter, I will not punish them nor increase their infamy, but I will unite them both in matrimonial bonds. In this way I will conceal this dark stain under an attractive covering. Friedrich, summon both Einhard and my daughter here as quickly as possible.
FR. It shall be done, most famous of all kings. I shall be right back.
CHAR. From now on I hope that there will be lasting good-will between us, for many a time from an affair of this kind and from a bad beginning great friendships have arisen. What if God Almighty willed it thus? By heaven, for my part I willingly take it in this way. Indeed, if I look at the whole matter, I know that Einhard did this, not as an insult to me, but for love. Now for that reason I forgive them all the more. I was not born with a disposition so inhuman and so naive that I don’t know the power of love. My daughter was promised to the King of Greece, but since we give our daughters, not for gold or silver, but for men, what kind of folly would it be to lead unwilling dogs to the hunt? Especially considering that a wife is an enemy to a husband to whom she has been unwillingly given in marriage. Finally, what else could I do? Why should I torture and torment myself? Should I now suffer punishment for their mistakes? No indeed; rather let them have each other and live together.
COUNS. We will of course give the prize, most merciful king, to this plan. In it your divine nature shows itself, and by virtue of its outstanding merits you will be named a great king and the greatest of kings. To be sure there is no talent, no virtue, no quality which seems to give our mortal nature more similarity to the divine nature than the capacity to pity human sin and weakness, to forgive mistakes, to forget injuries and to lift up the fallen, to give safety to the innocent, help to the stricken, support to the innocent, and solace to the afflicted. On this virtue the noble majesty of the prince will lay its solid foundation and on it will construct the respect of his subjects.
But Einhard and Emma are here, Merciful King. How her maiden cheeks are blushing!
ACT V, SCENE viii
CHARLEMAGNES, EINHARD, EMMA, JUDGES, FRIEDERICH
CHAR. If you have one drop of honorable blood in your veins, your conscience — unless I am mistaken — will have already told you why I summoned you, Einhard, and you, my daughter, to this conference of the chief men. Because of your reckless offenses, you now see me here as your examiner, prosecutor, judge, and avenger. Why is this? Secretary Einhard, you surely did not hope that you could continue to commit this wickedness and to treat my daughter almost as a wife while I, her father, still lived? If you believe that, you are wrong and very much misjudge my intentions.
EIN. O most merciful King of the Franks Charlemagne, what can I do? Where can I start? By your mercy, by your crown, by your scepter, by your august person and your kingship, by the sacred wounds of Jesus Christ and by the mercy of all the Saints living and dead, by everything in this world, I beg, I plead, I beseech that you forgive me if I have done anything wrong in my madness. I ask for only one favor, that you forgive this one fault and permit me to find this one bit of pardon. I confess the truth, that the greatest fault was mine. I am a human being, and I consider nothing human as alien to me.
CHAR. Did I tell you to do this when I made you my scribe? Is this how I’ll find my affairs to be managed? Do you think that it is the job of a good servant to debauch the master’s daughter? And I do consider her to be debauched, while she has dedicated herself to this kind of immorality.
And you, my daughter Emma, have been disobedient. Your actions have wounded your reputation and mine, and these misdeeds have totally ruined you. You are totally lost, for I consider any woman to be lost whose sense of shame has vanished.
EM. Oh, beloved lord and father, oh, father most cherished, if any place for pity still remains, have pity on your daughter, have pity on your secretary as well. I confess I acted foolishly, but I beg you, father, not to desert me in my folly, despite my sins. My lustful heart and eyes were uncontrollable, and I was persuaded to do what I am now ashamed to have done.
CHAR. You should have been careful first, before being ashamed later. Do you think that you can have young men in your room with you all night and escape punishment?
EM. Oh father, forgive me this one thing now. To a father a small penalty is enough for a great sin. Oh, pardon your daughter.
CHAR. I am willing for you to be my daughter only as long as you do what is worthy of yourself. But if you don’t do this, I will find something appropriate to do to you.
So, Einhard and my daughter, what am I to do with you? What do you deserve? My senators have spoken: they say death. Certainly your heart and your consciences will say the same. However, behold a mild master, a mild father. I will forgive you, but under these conditions that I specify. You, Einhard, will take as wife this portress, namely my daughter, who showed herself to be obedient to you by carrying you through such deep snow on unsteady legs with her nightgown cinched up. I give her from my hands into yours. Now you can talk freely with her at last. Live in harmony and from now on support one another. Now, Einhard, is this sufficient recompense? Or do you still complaint that I have not rewarded your services well enough? Friedrich, have my treasure chest brought inside, so that I may endow this new couple with new, royal gifts.
FR. I obey, noble king. Attendants, follow me. (Exit.)
EIN. O God Almighty, who was ever rewarded with such gifts as I have been rewarded? O most merciful fing, what heights has your mercy now attained! Emma, come here, right here, and let us fall to our knees. Great king, you are the one who blessed us with wealth when we were poor, with money when were were destitute, with safety when we were lost, with absolution, life, and happiness when we were condemned and almost dead. To you, o king, we dedicate our lives, our souls, our spirits, whatever we have, whatever we are or will be; we can do no more. Noble king, even so will I honor the memory of your great gifts with eternal gratitude, not only while I draw breath, but also after my death the memorials of your kindness towards me will endure. Until then, this lady, whom your uniquely divine majesty wished to be my spouse, wife, and life, I will love, honor, and worship in such a way that all will see how much my dearest wife revered her father in you, how much she revered her God in the person of her father. (Enter Friedrich.)
FR. Attendants, put the chest here in the middle.
CHAR. Open it and bring out what is inside.
FR. Right away, o king.
CHAR. Einhard, my dear son-in-law, now that I have granted my daughter to you, receive as an additional gift from me this golden torque, which I now place around your neck, and let me put these rings on your fingers. Take this twelve-piece set of cups, as well as this silver ewer and this golden necklace. Take this platter, this tankard, and this bowl.
To you, my daughter, since you are now a bride, I give you this chest full of pearls and golden rings. Adorn your hair with this diadem, your neck with this necklace, your bosom with this stomacher, your arms with these bracelets, and your fingers with these rings. After this I will give you the precious furnishings which are inside, as well as a large dowry and extensive estates. I will pray to God for this special gift: that this union and marriage prove to be happy, blessed, and fortunate to me and all my people.
EIN.. O greatest of kings, what endless thanks could I have or return for all this. My tongue is numb with joy.
EM.. Oh my golden gather, what can I do or what can I say? Father, your great mercy has helped and saved us, as all can see. My tears are flowing from happiness.
COUNSELORS. From the bottom of our heart we congratulate you on this newly made marriage, not only because this matter has been settled to the satisfaction of you all, but also because we pray with all our energy that God bless you and that in the course of time budding shoots, many little Einhards and Emmas may encircle your table. May it come to pass, amen, amen.
COUN. In the meantime your mercifulness, most august king, will endure for the ages.
CHAR. Why don’t we go inside and celebrate this marriage?
COUN. As you wish, most august king. Friedrich will tell the spectators what remains.
FR. Now, before we go, I propose that we lay down laws for fathers, laws which they will keep and adhere to. If there is, or if we learn of, a father swollen with greed, a father who considers merit of no value when he is considering the marriage of a son or daughter, but looks only at noble descent or wealth, then we will treat him as an ignoramus and deal with him under these terms — or perhaps both — or that the couple joined in this magnificent marriage are always quarreling, we command him to come crying to us, because then we will laugh at him, because, due to his wicked greed, he did not wish to follow the example of our great King Charlemagne.
In the meantime our young poet will give you a new, humorous comedy, whose like in style and plot you have never perceived with eye or ear — but under this condition that you young men applaud this new bride, this new husband, and these new laws which I have laid down for fathers who engage in these practices, and applaud this play.