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Count, (aside.) I have got all I want since I know who is the Secret Agent.
(Both go to the centre door, and make many compliments about who shall go out first.)
Chamberlain. I am more at home here than your Excellency.
Count. I must entreat;-I know too well what I owe to you.
Chamberlain. Your Excellency must nevertheless take the precedence-I remain here. [Count goes out. (Servants with lights, and ladies and gentlemen of the court, enter through the centre door. The Grand Chamberlain, Count Oscar, members of the Council, &c.)
I still am unable to comprehend how that wretched man can dare to play
so hazardous a game, behind the back of the Duchess. If she finds it out, his disgrace will be terrible! And we shall all suffer from it. The Count spoke most truly yesterday, when he said that if one of us fell, all would fall together. And to think that that is to be my fate !—that I am to become an ex-Grand Chamberlain !
Oscar. Why so pensive my Lord Chamberlain? Are you trying to solve the one great mystery of this court? Do you think of a clue by which to trace it out? Be frank with me, tell me what you know!
Chamberlain. We had better not speak of that. (Aside) With him too I must be upon my guard.
Oscar. Why so? I make it no secret that I am doing all in my power to discover the whereabouts of the Secret Agent, and to renew my acquaintance with him.
Chamberlain, (frightened.) You know him then?
Oscar, (laughing.) You are absent of mind, my Lord Chamberlain; I yesterday had the honour to inform you that I had conversed with him in the park.
Chamberlain. Ah, true! (Aside) He knows nothing.
Oscar. A nice gentleman he is. Truth to tell, as far as my uncle's policy goes, I would not have given myself much trouble to find him out, but now that he crosses my own path, I hope soon to discover him, and to have some serious conversation with him.
Oscar. To call him out? Most surely I do!
Chamberlain. Your own uncle? Oscar, (smiling.) My uncle! Chamberlain, (aside.) I had nearly betrayed myself!
Oscar. Because he arranged the marriage? Pardon me, my Lord Chamberlain. My uncle knew nothing of any understanding between the Princess and the Secret Agent. Count Steinhausen is a man of honour.
Chamberlain, (aside.) Poor young man! (Aloud) Certainly! (Aside) Would that this evening were over! Oscar. The Duchess!
SCENE THE SEVENTH.
The Duchess, (sits down in an armchair.) I am greatly agitated; for many years it has not occurred to me to expect anything so anxiously as I now do the appearance of the mischievous person who in a few moments will come forth from yonder cabinet. I await him with shuddering, as I should a spectre that had long invisibly hovered around us, and that was suddenly to appear.
Chamberlain. Does your Highness wish to play at any game? Duchess. I thank you. later! Oscar, (in a low voice to the Chamberlain.) What if we were to play at blindman's buff, and the person caught shall be accepted as the Secret Agent? I have no patience to wait, and must find somebody on whom to vent my anger.
rises slowly and with difficulty from her seat.)
Duchess, (aside.) The door opens ! (She turns her face towards the door in so marked a manner that all present, thinking the Duke is about to enter, step aside, and the Grand Chamberlain stations himself behind the Duchess's chair. Count Steinhausen, a paper in his hand, comes slowly out of the cabinet. The Duchess gazes at him with horror, and
Count. What means this? I implore your Highness for God's sake to explain to me-my long services, I think, entitle me to that much.
Duchess. You want an explanation? Count, the memory of your former services is completely effaced by your latter ones. Yet you have to thank those former services, that I do not, here, before the whole court, give that explanation. Begone! all! all! I would be alone! My Lord Chamberlain, you will remain.
Chamberlain, (wiping his forehead.) At your Highness's orders.
Duchess. This I did not expect, and it has shaken me to the very soul. Such ingratitude! Such treachery! Whom can one trust after this! He, whom I honoured with my whole confidence, who knew all my plans, betakes himself to the side of my son, to act against me, to injure me there where alone I was vulnerable. Everything is now explained; yes, he alone was in a position to betray our secrets to the Duke, since he alone was fully acquainted with them. My strength is broken, I abandon the contest. My Lord Chamberlain !
Chamberlain. A terrible business, your Highness! Who could have dreamed it!
Duchess. My prime minister-my son's Secret Agent.
Duchess. You knew it, then, my Lord Chamberlain ?
Chamberlain. I became aware of it to-day, in a very singular manner.
Duchess. And did not hasten to make the important communication to me!
Chamberlain. I could not believe it; I doubted the truth of the information, I could not venture to report so important a matter to your Highness until I was myself certain.
Duchess. Follow me to my cabinet. [Both go out. SCENE THE EIGHTH.
Count, (entering cautiously through the centre door.) I cannot leave the palace. I am beaten, it is true; but if I abandon the field of battle without another attempt at resistance, my defeat is complete. The Grand Chamberlain has overthrown me, he, the Secret Agent of the Duke. The corn seemed to him to be ripe, and yet I suspect he has been in too great a hurry to reap. What means did they employ to bring about my fall?-as yet I know not, but neither do I care. I will take my own measures; in a struggle for existence all means are good. I quit not the palace; the
Duchess shall know that the Grand
Chamberlain is her son's Secret Agent.
Ha! here he is!
Chamberlain. Certainly it is not agreeable to be in disgrace with the Duchess, but do you not retain the fullest favour and confidence of the now really reigning sovereign?
Count. My Lord Chamberlain, I will not endure your mockery. I am decided not to quit this place, though I should remain here until to-morrow morning, though I should remain a week or a month. There can no longer be any forbearance between you and me. I am determined to declare to her Highness who it is that has crept into the confidence of the Duke; I will prove to her, my Lord Chamberlain, that You were the Duke's Secret Agent.
Chamberlain. Are you in earnest? Would you stoop to bring so false an accusation? I the Secret Agent? I should not have expected this from your Excellency! I have not betrayed you, but the Duchess learned this very evening, that it is you who are the Secret Agent.
Count. I the Secret Agent? Very clever indeed, my Lord Chamberlain, —but it will avail you nothing; I will bring forward the necessary proofs !
SCENE THE TENTH.
George, (coming from the Duke's private apartments.) His Highness is inquiring for my Lord Chamberlain. Chamberlain. Immediately! Where is his Highness?
George. He will be in his cabinet in a few moments. He is speaking with his Secret Agent.
[George goes out. Chamberlain, (in great astonishment.) With his Secret Agent?
Count, (equally astounded.) With his Secret Agent?
perienced old courtier hesitates, and shyly asks if he may venture to communicate her wish to the Duke. "A wish!" she exclaims; "it is my command! And why announce it to the Duke?" "That the order may proceed direct from his Highness," is the Chamberlain's reply. The Duchess takes the hint: her power is gone-the game is lost. She is about to depart for her villa, there to sulk at leisure, but her son gracefully and affectionately urges her to remain, and insists that she has freely and willingly given up to him that which he has in reality won in spite of her utmost opposition. But to the court and to the whole country the contrary shall be made to appear. The Duchess, despite her somewhat harsh and imperious character, cannot but be touched by this dutiful and friendly conduct on the part of her son, and perhaps is still more moved by the advantage of having her retreat covered and her discomfiture concealed. So mother and son are again on the best of terms, and the former conChamberlain. I must deliver it to sents to the union of the Duke and the Duke.
Chamberlain. But it is you who are his Secret Agent?
Count. No, the Secret Agent is yourself!
Chamberlain. God be good to us! This is worse and worse! So now there are three Secret Agents! If things go on in this way, there will soon be nothing public left at this court. But I must go to his Highness! (Hurries towards the cabinet.)
Count. And that paper? It is now all a misunderstanding!
Count, (falling into an arm-chair.) Then I am lost! [Curtain falls. The reader may be told in few words the contents of the fifth, and shortest act, in which all things are satisfactorily wound up. The best scene in it is between Count Steinhausen and his nephew. Oscar bitterly reproaches his uncle with having planned his marriage with a woman whom he well knew to be in love with himself.
The Duchess, on learning that she has been fighting against a shadow, thinks for a moment that she may perhaps again grasp the reins of power-but it is too late. The Duke has lost no time. Agreeably with her written request, he has already appointed new ministers, and just as the Duchess inquires of the Grand Chamberlain if he had delivered her memorandum to her son, the sound of joy-bells is heard, and a military band plays in the distance. The formation of a popular ministry is the cause of these demonstrations, which jar upon the nerves of the Duchess, who orders the Chamberlain to put an immediate end to them. The ex
Eugenie. And the departure of the Secret Agent is announced. He leaves everybody indebted to him and loud in his praise. In a paper left for the Duke he spoke with warmth of Count Steinhausen's long services and fidelity, and in consequence of his recommendation the Duke names the expremier his master-of-the-horse. Oscar, who begs his uncle's pardon, has also been spoken well of, and receives a diplomatic appointment; and the Grand Chamberlain, who had ordered the waterworks to play for the entertainment of the Secret Agent, is thanked by the Duke for the attention he had shown to his friend, and assured of his favour and goodwill. The termination is as neat and pointed as the whole play is piquant and amusing. Our British playwrights draw largely on the French stage; but, when Germany produces such comedies as that of Mr Hackländer, it surely would be worth their while to make an occasional foray across the Rhine. And, for the sake of English playgoers, it is to be hoped that when they do so, the first capture they make may be that of "The Secret Agent."
COLOUR, IN NATURE AND ART.
NATURE is no mere utilitarian. That so-called utility which regards only the lower half of human nature, which cares for bodily wants and pecuniary profits, but which ignores the higher emotions from the regulated play of whose fountains proceeds all that is worthy of the name of Joy,finds nothing in the economy of nature to support its materialistic exclusiveness. If the utilitarians had had the making of our world, they would doubtless have made it very fertile and free of weeds, and Quaker-like have dressed it in shapes and hues savouring strongly of the sombre and the useful;-but alas for the beautiful! That cream of life and bloom of nature, what is it to them? Working unseen upon the spirit, and only revealing itself by the lighting of the eye and the beaming of the countenance, exciting an emotion which, though brilliant and elevating and full of the divine, seems to produce nothing, and rather to lessen men's devotion to materialistic pursuits, -Utilitarians ignore it, and in the world of their own devising, would have flung aside flowers as cumberers of the ground, and looked upon roses as but painted weeds. They
"Could strip, for aught the prospect yields To them, their verdure from the fields, And take the radiance from the clouds With which the sun his setting shrouds."
Not so, however, has acted the Divine Maker. All that is useful is indeed around us, but how much more is there beside? We stroll out of a morning, and lo! birds are singing, and waters murmuring, and the sun is rising with a cool brightness that makes everything look young,— dancing like dazzling silver on the wavelets of the brook, and filling the skies with a joyous splendour, and the heart with an ethereal merriment. Who has not felt, in the bright hours of all seasons, but especially in the radiant days of summer, what the poet has well called
"The strange superfluous glory of the air!" as if, beside all the combined gases
needful for our respiration, there were present some ethereal nectarine element, baffling the analysis of the chemist, yet revealing its power in the thrill of exuberant life which it excites in the human frame,-a true elixir vitæ, a "superfluous glory " added for the sole purpose of producing joy? Enter the garden, and forthwith the eye is charmed with the sight of flowers,-the nostrils thrill with the scents floating on the morning air, and peaches and all manner of fruit are there, pleasing both eye and palate far more than utility demands. The very hedgerows, and woody dells of nature's own planting, are full of beauty,-bright and sweet with the hawthorn, the sweetbriar, and the honeysuckle. Hill and valley meet each other by picturesque gradation; and brooks and rivers leap and run in courses which please all the more because dissimilar from the rectilinearism of utility. All things proclaim that the Divine Architect, while amply providing for the wants, has not forgotten the enjoyment, of his creatures; and having implanted in the human soul a yearning after the beautiful, has surrounded us with a thousand objects by whose presence that yearning may be gratified.
Perhaps the most striking example of this Divine care for human enjoyment is to be seen in the lovely mantle of Colour in which the earth is robed. Like all things very common, we do not half prize this robe of beauty which Nature puts on for our gratification. It is in such complete harmony with our visual sense, that—like musical harmony also, when long continuedits sweetness fails to impress us if not broken at times by a discord. But suppose the case of a man born blind, and to whom the aspect of the outer world-nay, the very meaning of the word "colour," has remained a mystery until he has reached the years of reflection. Fancy such a man's eye at length released from darkness, and endeavour to imagine his impressions. A thrill passes through him as the coloured beams first rush in, and awaken the emotions of a new sense.