Our bookstore is now open. Shop today →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Speech and Drama
GA 282

VII. Some Practical Illustrations of the Forming of Speech

11 September 1924, Dornach

My dear Friends,

I would like today to centre our study around a scene from a play of Hamerling's that can serve to illustrate many things that I have been explaining. A course of lectures on a subject of this kind is necessarily all too short, and I can in any case do no more than make a few suggestions in the hope that these may stimulate you in your work. None the less, although our time is short, I propose to use the present hour to throw light by practical example upon the importance of what I have said about developing, in preparation for speaking on the stage, a feeling for word and a feeling for sound, in contradistinction to the feeling for sense and idea. today, therefore, we will take this practical demonstration as a basis for our study; and it is my intention to speak the parts in such a way as will enable you to glean at least an elementary understanding of how a reading rehearsal should go, if it is to prepare the ground for the actual performance of the play on the stage. Thus, having in the first part of our course given our attention to the forming of the speech, we shall now be considering all that has to do with production as such, with the right forming of the stage-picture.

It goes without saying that before any such rehearsal, the explanations I have been giving of what is required for an artistic way of speaking must have already taken root in the unconscious, and be present there as artistic instinct. Where mention is made of these matters at all in rehearsal, it will be presumed that in those who are to take part, the feeling for sound and the feeling for word have, by long practice, become a complete matter of habit. It will, in fact, be of quite other matters that one will have to speak there, alluding only as need arises to the fundamental principles of speech formation; for of these the actor should bring with him an intimate knowledge, no less surely than a pianist who is preparing himself—or, maybe, a pupil—for a concert brings with him the faculty he has acquired for piano-playing.

The scene I propose to take is the opening scene of a drama of Robert Hamerling, entitled Danton and Robespierre, a play that is concerned, as the title tells us, with the French Revolution. I have chosen it because I think the moods that come into consideration for this scene — and I need not remind you how important it is for the moods to find clear expression in the performance—are such as can easily be conveyed to the minds and hearts of people in general. For they are unmistakable and sharply distinguishable in their colouring. The scene is moreover also valuable for us, in that the moods give opportunity for transforming, by stage technique, even the most prosaic content into an artistic formation of sound and word.

We are here transported into an important moment in the history of the French Revolution, when the mood of the public was undergoing a change. That stage in the revolution is just being reached when the popularity of Danton is beginning gradually to give way before the popularity of Robespierre. A great number of people are on the point of transferring their loyalty and devotion from the one to the other.

Let us first of all see that we understand the true nature of the people's loyalty to Danton. Some were loyal to him out of a sincere and faithful devotion, in others their loyalty was prompted rather by their own political aspirations; but all might be said to regard him with what I may almost call a savage admiration. Consequently, we find permeating the scene something of the sound- and word-feeling—I am speaking here from the point of view of stage technique—that results from the working together of a (wonder and admiration for Danton) and o (a certain rude affection for the man). The scene is pervaded by an a-o (ah-oh) mood, in the sense in which I have explained this to you in the earlier lectures. Tune your feeling to the sounds a-o, and you will have the mood that prevails at the beginning of the scene.

Loyalty to Robespierre was of quite another kind. At first it only reached men's hearts in a fitful, spasmodic way. The lean and lanky man, looking so like a schoolmaster, whose words cut like knives, did not easily inspire admiration in his fellowmen; he had to seize on every opportunity to win it. In fact, the first stage of Robespierre's popularity was marked by a kind of wariness and caution. In the case of individuals as well as of the masses, it was out of a certain defensive attitude that admiration for Robespierre was born. Translated into feeling for sound, it is a sounding together of e (ay in ‘say’) and a. So that in the people's feeling for Robespierre we have the mood that you can hear in e-a.

In this scene, therefore, which evinces throughout a delicate instinctive feeling on Hamerling's part for sound and word, we have to find the transition in the whole speaking of the parts from a-o to e-a. And we shall be able to do so if we look into the scene carefully. That is indeed the reason I have chosen it, because of all we can learn from it.

Hamerling built up the scene with an instinctive discernment for what is required in dramatic art. I shall draw attention, as we go along, to features that would require to be noted in the reading rehearsals. My remarks will naturally be rather sketchy; in actual rehearsals, the various points would need to be further elucidated. For we have here a scene that can provide us with an excellent lesson in the very things we are concerned with in these lectures.

Note how we are introduced, first of all, to a countryman who had been in Paris fifteen years before and never once since. The man has been deaf during the last six years, and on this account it has easily come about that he has as good as slept through whatever echoes of the big events penetrated into the provinces; he has heard nothing of all that went on. He was treated for his deafness by the village barber who was also something of a surgeon, as was still usual in those days, but with no particular success; and he was advised to go to Paris. One can certainly have one's doubts as to whether even in Paris the cure would be such an easy matter! However, here he is again in Paris, cured of his deafness and bearing his part in the change-over of moods that I have described—but all the time as one who has only just become able after six years to hear what is being said around him. You will find at once the basic tone for this man's speaking if you give yourself up to an a feeling that is tinged with o. Let us see what this will mean. For throughout the first part of the scene, the countryman will be the chief figure. The whole attention of the audience will be centred upon him. It might even be said that the other characters are present only in order to give colour and variation to the main interest that attaches throughout to this man. Actually, the success of the play as a whole will depend to a great extent upon how the part of the countryman is played in this first scene.

We know of course that a signifies wonder and admiration. The mood is a little modified in this character of the countryman, but the actor will do the part well if he takes pains to speak, as much as he can, with his mouth open. (I shall be dealing with gesture and mime in the later lectures; today I will confine my remarks to the speaking.) This will allow the a mood, which is the prevailing mood of the scene, to pass almost imperceptibly into o, which is what the part requires.

From the very outset, we sense also that a change of mood is imminent; we are moving towards the transition from the a-o to the e-a mood. This is portrayed for us with wonderful artistic skill. You can feel here with what a delicate touch Hamerling works; and that is what I want you to notice before all else—the artistic achievement, quite apart from the prose content of the scene. The countryman is put there on purpose that we may be still hearing the echo of the mood connected with Danton, while at the same time having our expectation aroused for the gradual transition to the mood that is connected with Robespierre, the mood that we can clearly detect in the second part of the scene where the conversation of the various characters goes clanging back and forth like sounding brass.

So much for a rough sketch of the mood in which you will have to experience this scene if you want to take part in it and form your speaking in the right way.

The scene is laid in an open space in front of Notre-Dame.

DER LANDMANN. Wenn ich nur erfahren könnte, warum sie den steinernen Bildern überall rote Mützen aufsetzen... Ich finde mich nicht mehr zurecht in diesem verwünschten Paris, obgleich ich vor fünfzehn Jahren einmal dagewesen.

(Zwei Bürger treten auf.)

ERSTER BURGER. Auf dem Stadthause wimmelt's bereits wie in einem Ameisenhaufen.—

ZWEITER BURGER. Mein Nachbar, der Barbier Rabaud, hat soeben die Göttin der Vernunft frisiert.


COUNTRYMAN. If only I could find out why the statues everywhere have red caps on their heads.... I no longer know my way about in this accursed Paris although I was once here fifteen years ago.

(Enter two citizens.)

FIRST CITIZEN. The Town Hall's already swarming like an ant-heap?

SECOND CITIZEN. My neighbour, the barber Rabaud, has just been dressing the hair of the Goddess of Reason.

These citizens are fellows of quite another stamp than our countryman. They are Parisians, who exhibit to the full the mood that was then uppermost in Paris; and they give a new colouring to the countryman's words that have set the motif at the beginning of the scene. We are to think of the first citizen as having a kind of i (ee) mood, and the second a rather quieter and more serious ii (French ü in ‘du’) mood. You will remember how I explained these in the earlier lectures.

‘ZWEITER BÜRGER: Mein Nachbar, der Barbier Rabaud, hat soeben die Göttin der Vernunft frisiert.’

Yes, you are right! The audience will laugh at these words; but they must be spoken with all the seriousness of one who is taking a responsible part in a revolution. And that is a seriousness of an altogether different stamp from the seriousness with which we are accustomed to approach everyday affairs.

You have to picture the countryman saying those first words of his alone, to himself. Then the citizens come an the scene. They stand at a little distance from him, and now he goes up to them.

DER LANDMANN. (sich nähernd) Auf ein Wort, ihr Herren—

ERSTER BÜRGER. ‘Ihr Herren?’—Da seht die ländliche Unschuld!—Es gibt keine Herren mehr, Bauerntölpel!

DER LANDMANN. Um Vergebung, wie komm' ich von hier in die Königstrasse?

ERSTER BÜRGER. Es gibt keine Könige mehr. Die Strasse heisst jetzt Sansculottenstrasse.

LANDMANN. Finde mich nicht mehr zurecht hier in Paris, obgleich ich vor fünfzehn Jahren dagewesen. Alle Plätze, alle Strassen anders.—Heut' Morgen komm' ich an einer Kirche vorüber, denke: trittst ein, hörst eine Messe. Da seh' ich ein Gedräng' von Leuten, und auf der Kanzel steht ein Mann, der predigt. Komme gerade recht zum Worte Gottes, denk' ich und hör' andächtig zu. Da merk' ich aber, dass der Mann auf der Kanzel entsetzlich fluchte, obgleich ich ihn nicht recht verstand. War so ein schneidiges, gelbes, dünnes Männchen, meinte jeden Augenblick, es werde ihm der Schaum vor den Mund treten. Als er aufhörte zu reden, da fingen die Leute wüst zu schreien an und taten wie besessen und klatschten gar mit den Händen, dass mir die Ohren gellten.—Ich schlug ein Kreuz und ging.

ZWEITER BÜRGER. (lachend) Armer Tropf, du bist unter die Frommen der Jacobinerkirche geraten.—

LANDMANN. Darauf kam ich in eine andere Kirche.
Da sah ich einen Heiland auf dem Kreuz:
dem war ein grosser Schnurrbart
angestrichen, und eine rote Mütze aufgesetzt,
und drunter stand geschrieben: ‘Jesus Christ
von Nazareth, der erste Sansculotte’.
Weiss denn die Obrigkeit von solchem Unfug nichts?

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Mensch, hör' einmal, wie kommt's, dass du so wenig Wind hast vom neuesten Weltlauf? Sitzt ihr Bauern auf den Ohren?

LANDMANN. Ich bin sechs volle Jahre taub gewesen. Vorige Woche—

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Dekade sagt man jetzt—DekadeLANDMANN. Ei, wie? Dekade muss ich sagen? Also vorige Dekade—doch nein, es war noch Ende April—

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Floreal, du verwünschter Kerl, Floreal—

LANDMANN. Floreal? Potztausend! Ihr habt eine verwunderliche Art zu reden in Paris!—Nun also im Floreal sagte ich zu unserem Dorfbader: ‘Herr’, sagte ich, `ihr versteht den Teufel von der Sache; ich gehe nach Paris und lasse mich dort heilen!’ Gesagt, getan. Ich ging, als ich das Reisegeld beisammen hatte, und verwichenen Sonntag—

ERSTER BÜRGER. Es gibt keinen Sonntag mehr.

LANDMANN. Was? keinen Sonntag?


COUNTRYMAN. (approaching) A word, gentlemen—

FIRST CITIZEN. ‘Gentlemen?’ Hark to his innocence! There aren't any gentlemen nowadays, you country bumpkin!

COUNTRYMAN. Beg pardon, how do I get to King Street?

FIRST CITIZEN. There aren't any more kings. The street's called Sansculotte Street now.

COUNTRYMAN. Oh, I'm properly astray in your Paris although I was here fifteen years ago. All the squares, all the streets, different.—This morning I came to a church and thought to myself: let's go in and hear Mass. Inside I find a crowd of folk and a man in the pulpit preaching. Just in time to hear God's word, think I, and listen all devout. But then I notice that the man in the pulpit is using terrible language, though I didn't understand him well. He was such a sharp-spoken, yellow, lean little bit of a man; it seemed every moment as if he was going to foam at the mouth. As soon as he stopped talking the people began to cry out wildly, behaved as if possessed, and clapped their hands enough to break my ear-drums.—I crossed myself and came out.

SECOND CITIZEN. (laughing) Poor simpleton, you landed up among the pious worshippers at the Jacobins' Church.—

COUNTRYMAN. Thereupon came I to another Church
And there I saw a Saviour on the Cross:
A great moustache was daubed upon His face,
A red cap had been set upon His head,
While underneath was written ‘Jesus Christ
Of Nazareth, the first of sansculottes’.
Do those who rule know nothing of such shame?

SECOND CITIZEN. Listen, you man. How comes it that you know so little of what's going on now in the world? Do you peasants stop up your ears?

COUNTRYMAN. I've been deaf over six years. Last week—

SECOND CITIZEN. We say decade now—decade

COUNTRYMAN. Eh? Decade have I got to say? Well, last decade–but no, it was still April—the end of April—

SECOND CITIZEN. Floreal, confound you, Floreal

COUNTRYMAN. Floreal? Zounds! You have an odd way of talking in Paris !—So in Floreal I said to our village barber, Sir,' say I,’ you don't understand a damned thing about it. I'm going to Paris to be cured.' No sooner said than done. Directly I'd got together the journey money, I started; and last Sunday—

FIRST CITIZEN. There's no Sunday any more.

COUNTRYMAN. What? No Sunday?

The name of the month is not after all a matter that touches him very nearly; that he can accept. Now he is called upon to grasp the further fact that there are no longer any Sundays!

ERSTER BÜRGER. Quintidi, guter Freund, wenn Euch Euer Leben lieb ist—

LANDMANN. Nun meinetwegen! Am Crainte de Dieu also kam ich hier in Paris an, und heute, Gott sei Dank—

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Gott sei Dank? Mensch, du nennst da ein bankrottes Haus! Die Firma Gott und Sohn mit der Prokuraführung des heiligen Geistes hat falliert—

LANDMANN. Was? auch keinen Gott? da soll ja doch—

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Räsoniere nicht, Mensch, und schweig, und lass' deine Füsse, so geschwind sie können, dich wieder nach deinem Dorfe zurücktragen. Du könntest Unglück haben auf dem Pflaster von Paris. Du könntest hier deinen Kopf verlieren, unversehens, wie einen Knopf von deinen Hosen. Mach' dich auf die Beine, Mensch— du bist verdächtig—

LANDMANN. Wieso verdächtig? Was nennt ihr denn verdächtig?

ZWEITER BURGER.Verdächtig? Sieh', das ist zum Beispiel einer,
der Lilien in seinem Garten pflanzt—
auch einer, dessen Bruder oder Vetter
ins Ausland ging mit einem Emigranten
als Kammerdiener—oder einer, der
im Traum das Wörtlein König flüstert—oder
der bleich wird, wenn sie seinen Nebenmenschen
an die Laterne hängen—

Mach', dass du fortkommst, sonst lassen sie dich den Karpfensprung machen auf dem Grèveplatz—

LANDMANN. Ich verstehe euch nicht.

ZWEITER BURGER. Ich will sagen, sie werden dich durchs rote Fenster gucken lassen—

LANDMANN. Ich verstehe euch noch immer nicht.

ZWEITER BÜRGER. Dummkopf! sie werden dich (macht eine bezeichnende Geberde) mit dem grossen Nationalrasiermesser rasieren! Verstehst du's noch nicht ?—Du wirst das grosse Los in der Lotterie der heiligen Guillotine gewinnen! Verstehst du's jetzt?

LANDMANN. Hol' mich der Geier, wenn ich diese Heilige jemals im Kalender gelesen habe.

ERSTER BÜRGER.
Das ist eine wunderliche Heilige.—
So eine Art von Eisenjungfrau, scharf
verseh'n mit Schneidezähnen—Denke dir
zwei Galgenhölzer und ein blankes Beil
Querbalkengleich von oben—nun, du legst
den Kopf auf einen Block—das Beil fällt nieder,
ein wenig von der Seite—so—und sichelt
den Kopf im Hui so glatt und reinlich dir
herunter, dass es eine Lust zu sehn. Der Kopf
merkt gar nicht, dass er keinen Rumpf mehr hat,
und niest deshalb auch manchmal unbefangen,
als wäre nichts geschehn, noch in dem Sack,
in welchen ihn der Knecht des Büttels wirft—
als hätt' er etwa nur’ne starke Prise
geschnupft.—Guillotinieren heisst man das:
's ist’ne schöne, sanfte Todesart.

LANDMANN. Guillotiniert man viel?<

ERSTER BÜRGER. So ein Schock täglich; auch mehr, wenn schönes Wetter ist.


FIRST CITIZEN Quintidi, friend, if you value your life—

COUNTRYMAN. Oh, well, it's all the same to me! So in the fear of God I came here to Pans, and today, thank God—

SECOND CITIZEN ‘Thank God?’ Why, man, that firm's gone bankrupt! The house of God and Son, with its junior partner the Holy Ghost, has failed—

COUNTRYMAN. What? No God either? But then—

SECOND CITIZEN. No arguing, man. Shut up, and let your feet carry you back to your village as quick as they can. You might come to harm in the streets of Paris. You might lose your head unexpectedly like a button off your breeches. Make off, man, you're a suspicious character—

COUNTRYMAN. What d'you mean, suspicious? What d'you call suspicious?

SECOND CITIZEN.
Suspicious? Hark, this man, for instance, is:
The one who lilies in his garden plants—
And also one whose brother or whose cousin Follows some emigrant as serving-man
To foreign parts—or then again a man
Who whispers in his dreams the small word ‘King', Or turns a chalky white to see them hang
One of his fellows to the lamp-post?

Make haste and be off, otherwise you will come to a sorry end on the Place de Grève?

COUNTRYMAN. I don't understand you.

SECOND CITIZEN. I'm wanting to tell you that they'll make you look through the’ red window'—

COUNTRYMAN. I still don't understand.

SECOND CITIZEN. Blockhead! They'll do this (makes a descriptive gesture), they'll shave you with the great national razor! Don't you understand yet ?—You'll win the big prize in the lottery of Saint Guillotine. Now do you understand?

COUNTRYMAN. The devil take me if I've ever seen that saint in the Calendar.

FIRST CITIZEN.
This is a very funny kind of saint,
This maiden made of iron and well provided
With finely sharpened teeth that bite. Just think,
Two gallows posts and then a shining axe
In cross-beam fashion from above—you lay
Your head upon a block, the axe comes down
A little from one side, like this, and mows
Your head inside your hat so smoothly down,
So neatly off—a pleasure 'tis to see!
Your head marks not that it has lost its trunk
And therefore sometimes sneezes, quite unmoved,
Just as if nought was wrong, e'en in the sack
As if it had, p'raps, taken a good pinch
Of snuff—it's guillotining that the people call it.
It is a fine and easy way o' dying.

COUNTRYMAN. Do they do much guillotining?

FIRST CITIZEN. Quite a lot, every day, and more when the weather's fine.

And now a sansculotte makes his appearance. When you come to look carefully at this sansculotte, you will find you can best enter into his part by combining the a mood with the i mood. For he has undoubtedly wonder and astonishment, and these have fired him with enthusiasm; but he has at the same time, as it were in the background, the pleasure and enjoyment that his own self-consciousness affords him.

(Ein Schwarm von zerlumpten Männern und Weibern kommt gezogen, voran ein Sansculotte, der ein Beinkleid auf einer Pike trägt.)

Wüstes Geschrei: Ça ira! Ça ira!

DER SANSCULOTTE. (zu dem LANDMANN und den beiden BÜRGERN) Angeschlossen, Patrioten! angeschlossen und eingestimmt! Ça ira! Zu Ehren der Hose da, die wir eben einem Aristokraten abgezogen, weil er auf keine andere Weise ein Sansculotte werden wollte. Ça ira!

WEIBER. (den LANDMANN umringend) Komm auf ein Tänzchen, Bäuerlein! Komm, wir tanzen die Carmagnole!

SANSCULOTTE. (zum LANDMANN, ihm ins Ohr schreiend) Ça ira gesungen, du Schelm, Ça ira!

LANDMANN. (ängstlich) Verzeiht, ich bin gar nicht musikalisch!

SANSCULOTTE. Höre, Kerl! wenn du nicht dümmer bist als die Rinder in deinem Stall, so musst du Ça ira brüllen können, so gut als einer—

LANDMANN. Verzeiht, ihr Herren—

SANSCULOTTE. ‘Ihr Herren!’ Habt ihr's gehört? An die Laterne mit dem Schuft!


(A swarm of ragged men and women come straggling along, led by a sansculotte holding aloft a pair of breeches on his pike.)

Wild shouting of the song ‘Ça ira, Ça ira!’

SANSCULOTTE. (to the COUNTRYMAN and the two CITIZENS)
All united and all of one mind, patriots! All united and all of one mind! Ça ira! Do honour to the breeches here that we've taken off an aristocrat, because he wouldn't be a sansculotte anyhow else! Ça ira!

WOMEN. (surrounding the COUNTRYMAN) Come and dance, peasant! Come along with you, we're dancing the carmagnole!

The sansculotte has noticed that the countryman does not hear very well.

SANSCULOTTE. (to the COUNTRYMAN, shouting in his ear)
Ça ira's being sung, you knave. Ça ira!

COUNTRYMAN. (anxiously) Excuse me, I'm not a bit musical!

SANSCULOTTE. Listen, fellow! If you're not more stupid than your own oxen you must be able to roar out Ça ira as well as a—

COUNTRYMAN. Excuse me, gentlemen?

SANSCULOTTE. ‘Gentlemen!’ Did you hear that? To the lamp-post with the blackguard!

In those days anyone who dared in Paris address a man as ‘gentleman’ was hung up on the nearest lamp-post.

ERSTER BURGER. Lasst ihn laufen; er ist volle sechs Jahre taub gewesen and erst heute wieder geheilt worden.

SANSCULOTTE. Dann hätte das erste, was er hörte, sein sollen, dass es keine Herren mehr gibt. Nicht einmal der Mainzer Nachtwächter singt mehr: ‘Lobet Gott den Herrn!’ sondern: ‘Lobet Gott den Bürger!’—Schlingel! kein Franzose benennt jetzt mehr den anderen Herr, sondern—

LANDMANN. Ich begreife, man sagt jetzt Kerl, Tropf, Schlingel, Schelm, und so dergleichen—

SANSCULOTTE. Was?

LANDMANN. Ihr tituliert mich so—

SANSCULOTTE. Dummkopf! das ist was anderes. Bürger sind jetzt alle Franzosen, hörst du! nicht mehr, noch weniger!

LANDMANN. So sind wir's draussen auch in der Provinz, so gut als ihr, und können ein Wort mit drein reden?

SANSCULOTTE. ‘Dreinreden?’ Hört ihr, Leute ? Der Kerl ist ein Föderalist! Ein verlaufener Girondistenknecht! er faselt von Autonomie der Provinz!


FIRST CITIZEN. Let him be; he's been deaf for six years and only just cured today.

SANSCULOTTE. Then the first thing he ought to have heard is that there are no more gentlemen. Not even the night watch at Mainz calls out any more ‘Praise God, gentlemen!’ but ‘Praise God, citizens!’—You clown, no Frenchman calls another ‘gentleman’ any longer, but—

COUNTRYMAN. I know. Now you say fellow, booby, clown, scoundrel, and things like that—

SANSCULOTTE. What?

COUNTRYMAN. That's what you call me—

SANSCULOTTE. Blockhead! That's a different matter. All we French now are just citizens, d'you hear that? Neither more nor less!

COUNTRYMAN. And are we in our province just as good as you, and can we put in our say?

SANSCULOTTE. ‘Put in our say?’ D'you hear that, folk? The fellow is a federalist, a runaway Girondist! He's drivelling about the autonomy of the provinces!

The day of the Girondists is past and over. The sansculotte imagines that the countryman is thinking of the autonomy that was enjoyed by the provinces when they were in power.

WEIBER. Hängt ihn, hängt ihn! er ist ein Föderalist! (Man will ihn ergreifen.)

LANDMANN. (ängstlich schreiend) Scharwache! Polizei! Zu Hilfe!—Mörder! Räuber! Diebe! Zu Hilfe! (Einige lachen.)

WEIBER. Er nennt Sansculotten Räuber und Mörder! An die Laterne!

ALLGEMEINES GESCHREI. An die Laterne! (Man ergreift ihn.)

DER SANSCULOTTE. (dazwischen tretend) Einen Augenblick, Bürger! Keine blinde Wut!—Wenn man Septembermann gewesen, wie ich, so weiss man, wie das rechte Verfahren in solchen Dingen ist.—Höre, Schlingel!

LANDMANN. Was hab' ich denn verbrochen?

SANSCULOTTE. (würdevoll) Mit dieser Frage verteidigt sich kein französischer Bürger und Patriot. Ob Föderalist oder nicht, ich will dir beweisen, dass du zehnmal gehängt zu werden verdienst, auch wenn du der republikanischen Freiheit nie ein Haar gekrümmt haben solltest. Ich frage dich bloss: Was hast du getan für die Freiheit? Wie hast du dich kompromittiert für die Freiheit? Was hast du getan, um gehängt zu werden, wenn eine Reaktion.einträte und die Gemässigten ans Ruder kämen?

LANDMANN. Ich? O—wartet nur, ich besinne mich ja seht, es fällt mir etwas ein.—Ich fand einmal im Wald einen halbverhungerten Mann unter einem Haufen dürrer Streu versteckt— der machte mir solch jämmerlich flehende Zeichen (denn hören konnt' ich nur wenig von wegen der Taubheit) dass ich ihn mit nach Hause nahm, ihn labte und in aller Stille beherbergte. Als er abzog, vergass er in der Dachstube etliche zerknitterte Papiere, aus welchen ich ersah, dass es ein gar wichtiger Mann gewesen sein musste, einer von denen, die jetzt hier in Paris regieren—so einer aus eurem—wie heisst's doch gleich? hab' heute davon gehört—aus eurem Nationalkonvent.—Sah auch aus den Papieren, wie er hiess. Er hiess Bri—ha, es fällt mir schon ein, Brissot.?

(Grosse Sensation im Volke, dann wildes Geschrei: Verräter! Verräter! Schurke!)

SANSCULOTTE. Still!—(Zum LANDMANN) Unglückseliger! du hast das Haupt der dem Henker verfallenen Girondisten und Föderalisten, der Gemässigten, der heimlichen Volksverräter bei dir beherbergt!—Mensch, deine Sache ist eine verlorene. Dir ist nicht mehr zu helfen! Hängt ihn!

VOLK. An die Laterne!

ERSTER BÜRGER. Ach, lasst ihn doch! Ihr seht ja, dass er ein Dummkopf ist, und sechs Jahre lang ist er taub gewesen.

EINIGE STIMMEN. Was? der Gewürzkrämer verteidigt ihn? Auch ein Verräter!

ERSTER BÜRGER. Bin ich nicht ein guter Patriot? Hab' ich nicht kürzlich bei der grossen Hungersnot meinen Zuckervorrat pfundweise ans Volk verteilt, ohne Entgeld?

EIN FISCHWEIB. Du betrogst uns mit dem Gewicht! Als ich mein Pfund zu Hause nachwog, da fehlte dran ein halbes Lot!

WEIBER. Hängt sie alle beide!

EINER AUS DEM VOLKE. Hier vor dem Bücherladen des wackeren Patrioten Momoro!

(Man zerrt den Bauer gegen den Laternenpfahl, der vor Momoros Laden steht.)

MOMORO. (tritt aus der Tür, sein Käppchen, das er auf dem kahlen Kopfe trägt, lüftend) Guten Morgen, Sansculotten! Was belieben die freien Männer und edlen Bürger zu treiben hier vor meiner Tür?


WOMEN. Hang 'im, hang 'im! He's a federalist! (They make as if to setze him.)

COUNTRYMAN. (shouting in alarm) Watchman! Police! Help! Murder! Robbers! Thieves! Help! (Some laughter.)

WOMEN. He's calling sansculottes robbers and murderers! To the lamp-post!

GENERAL CRY. To the lamp-post! (He is seized.)

SANSCULOTTE. (stepping between them) One minute, citizens! No blind rage!—When one's been a September man, like me, one knows the right way to act in these matters.—Listen, Clown!

COUNTRYMAN. What have I done wrong?

SANSCULOTTE. (with dignity) No citizen and patriot of France stands up for his rights by asking that question. Whether you're federalist or not, prove to you that you deserve ten times over to be hanged, even if you've done nothing to hurt republican freedom. I simply ask what you've done for freedom? Have you euer compromised yourself for freedom? What have you done to risk hanging if reaction sets in and the moderates come to power?

COUNTRYMAN. I? Oh—Wait a bit, I'm calling to mind—yes, it's just coming back to me. Once in a wood I found a half-starved man under a heap of dry straw— he made such pitiful, beseeching signs to me, for I couldn't hear much on account of my deafness, that I took him home and gave him something to eat and kept him in hiding. When he went off he forgot some scraps of paper in the attic; from these I saw that he must have been a very important man, one of those who rule now here in Paris, one of those belonging to your—what d'you call it, I've heard the name today—to your National Convention—even saw from the papers what he called himself. His name was Bri—yes, it comes back to me, Brissot—

(Great Sensation among the people, then a wild shout: Traitor, traitor, villain!)

SANSCULOTTE. Silence!—(To the COUNTRYMAN) Wretched man! You sheltered the chief of the Girondists and federalists who have fallen to the hangman, chief of the moderates, of the secret betrayers of the people!—Man, it's all up with you. Nothing can help you now! Take him and hang him!

PEOPLE. To the lamp-post!

FIRST CITIZEN. Oh, leave him alone. See what a blockhead he is, and he's been deaf for six years—

VOICES IN THE CROWD. What? The grocer sticks up for him? He's a traitor too!

FIRST CITIZEN. I'm not a good patriot, then? Didn't I, a short time ago, during the great famine, divide up all my sugar and give it to the people by the pound, and that gratis ?

FISHWIFE. You didn't give us fair weight! When I got home it was live grammes short!

WOMEN. Hang both of them!

A VOICE FROM THE CROWD. Here, in front of the bookshop of the honest patriot Momoro!

(The peasant is dragged towards the lamp-post in front of Momoro's shop.)

MOMORO. (comes out of the door, raising the Linie cap that covers his bald head) Good morrow, Sansculottes! What does it please our free men and noble citizens to do here in front of my door?

Momoro is a citizen too, and moreover, as we shall see, a man of some importance who stands with the whole force of his personality right in the immediate moment of the revolution. He is, however, at the same time, beginning to feel that the ground under his feet is getting a bit shaky.

Fresh people now come forward and prepare the way for a new mood, the mood that I characterised as reminiscent of sounding brass. We are, in fact, at the moment when loyalty to Danton is passing away, in favour of loyalty to Robespierre. We must accordingly watch for die transition from the a—o mood to the e—a mood. Loyalty to Robespierre is quietly stealing in, and that fact must find expression in the whole mood of the scene from now on.

EINER AUS DEM VOLK. Guten Morgen, Bürger Momoro. Wir hängen einen Föderalisten, einen Girondistenknecht—

MOMORO. Gerade hier vor eines Patrioten Tür? Lasst das bleiben, ehrenwerte Bürger der Republik! Wozu haben wir denn das Revolutionstribunal, das ja ohnedies im ganzen wenig zu wünschen und zu hängen übrig lässt? Und überhaupt, tut mir den Gefallen, hängt keinen, bevor er die neuesten Broschüren gelesen hat, die in meinem Buchladen soeben erschienen. Wenn ihr einen solchen Menschen tötet, so verfault der Kerl unnütz unter der Erde und labt höchstens die Würmer. Wenn ihr ihm aber Zeit lasst, die neuesten Broschüren zu lesen, so könnt ihr den widerhaarigsten Aristokraten in einen feuerspeienden Patrioten verwandeln, der hingeht und sich mit Freudentränen in den Augen jeden Augenblick für die Republik totschlagen lässt. Ich frage: was ist besser?—Da seht einmal (er weist einen Pack Flugblätter und Broschüren vor): ‘Neueste Trauerrede auf den Tod des göttlichen Marat’—‘Laternenpfahl und Guillotine; fliegende Blätter für Freiheit, Gleichheit und allgemeine Menschenliebe’—‘Neuer und unfehlbarer Plan, royalistische Städte binnen drei Tagen mit Nelkenöl in die Luft zu sprengen’—

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Good morrow, Citizen Momoro. We're hanging a federalist, a Girondist?


MOMORO. What? Just here at the door of a patriot? Wait a bit, honourable citizens of the Republic. What is the Revolutionary Tribunal for, which on the whole leaves us very little to wish for and very few people to hang? At least do me the favour not to hang anyone till he has read the latest pamphlet that has just appeared in my shop. When you kill a man of this sort the fellow rots uselessly in the ground and at best feeds the worms. But when you give him time to read the latest pamphlet, you may change the most cross-grained aristocrat into a fire-spitting patriot who goes off ready to die at any moment for the Republic. I ask you, which is the better? Just look (he points to a pile of broadsheets and pamphlets): ‘Latest Funeral Oration on the Death of the Godlike Marat’—‘Lamp-post and Guillotine'; leaflets on liberty, equality and universal human love.’ New and infallible Plan to blow up Royalist Towns with Oil of Cloves’?

Momoro talks the most naturally of them all, and helps to lead over to the new phase of the revolution. He is, at the moment, in high esteem, and this must be apparent to the audience.

VOLK. Hoch Momoro, der Patriot!

MOMORO. Es lebe die Republik!—Alles für wenige Sous!(Viele drängen sich herbei, die Blätter zu kaufen.)

SANSCULOTTE. Du verkaufst deine Scharteken zu teuer, Bürger Momoro!

MOMORO. Keinen Sou verdien' ich dran. Ihr kennt mich!

IN ZEITUNGSAUSRUFER. Der ‘Vater Duchêsne’! Der ‘Vater Duchêsne' von heute! Zwei Sous das Blatt!—Er ist verzweifelt wild heute, der Vater Duchêsne!—Kauft das Journal des gefeierten Patrioten Hebert!—in 30 000 Exemplaren verbreitet! Er ist verzweifelt wild heute, der Vater Duchêsne!—

MOMORO. (nachspottend) ‘Er ist verzweifelt wild heute der Vater Duchêsne!’ So ruft er alle Tage. 30 000 Exemplare? Allen Respekt vor dem Bürger Hebert, aber ich habe mir sagen lassen, dass ganze Stösse seines Journals gratis in die Gasthöfe wandern—für die ‘Bedürfnisse’ der Reisenden! hahaha! für die ‘Bedürfnisse’ der Reisenden!—Das Gediegenste, was aus den Federn der Patrioten fliesst, findet man doch immer noch bei Momoro. In meinem Hinterstübchen haben schon unter dem Königtum die radikalsten Männer Klub gehalten und halten da noch Klub heutigen Tages.—

ZEITUNGSAUSRUFER. (spottend) Ja, Graukopf, sie halten Klub bei deinem jungen Weibchen.

MOMORO. Tropf! sie bringen ihr den neuen republikanischen Kalender bei, der den Weibern so schwer in den Kopf will. Und mehr! noch mehr! 0, die Patrioten wissen den alten Momoro zu schätzen, und um ihn zu ehren, haben sie, müsst ihr wissen, keine andere als eben sein Weibchen zur Göttin der Vernunft erkoren. Schon am frühen Morgen ist sie heut' abgeholt worden auf das Stadthaus, damit man für das Fest sie würdig herausputze. Nun ihr werdet sehen! Auf diesem selben Platze wird sie prangen.

ZEITUNGSAUSRUFER. Und dir werden zur Feier des Tages die Hörner vergoldet?

VOLK. Es lebe Momoro und sein Weibchen!

MOMORO. (zu einem Manne, der ein Plakat an die Mauer klebt) Mensch, du klebst ja dein Plakat hier über ein anderes.

DER MANN. Ach, das alte ist ein gemässigtes; das da aber ist von der Kommune.—

VOLK. (das sich indes immer zahlreicher gesammelt) Von der Kommune? lasst doch sehen!

EINER AUS DEM VOLKE. (lesend) ‘Hebert und Chaumette laden das souveräne Volk zum heutigen Feste der Vernunft, das denkwürdig bleiben wird für alle Zeiten!’—

VOLK. Hoch Hebert! Hoch Chaumette! Hoch die Republik! Ça ira! (Die Weiber tanzen)

EIN STELZFUSS. (im Gedränge) Heissa! springt und brüllt, wie ihr wollt, aber tretet einem verdienten Krieger der Republik sein hölzernes Bein nicht weg!


PEOPLE. Cheers for Momoro the patriot!

MOMORO. Long live the Republic! Any one of these for a few sous!

(Many of the crowd press round him to buy the leaflets.)

SANSCULOTTE. You sell your trash too dear, Citizen Momoro!

MOMORO. Why, I don't make a sou on them. You know me!

NEWSPAPER-VENDOR. ‘Father Duchêsne’! ‘Father Duchêsne’ ! today's ‘Father Duchêsne’! He's desperately savage today is Father Duchêsne! Buy the paper of the good old patriot Hebert! 30,000 copies given out! He's desperately savage today is Father Duchêsne!—

MOMORO. (ridiculing him) ‘He's desperately savage today is Father Duchêsne.’ That's what he calls out all day. 30,000 copies? With all due respect to Citizen Hebert I venture to say that whole stacks of his paper find their way into the inns gratis— ‘For the requirements of travellers’ ! Ha! Ha! Ha! ‘For the requirements of travellers’!—What is of value from the pens of the patriots is still always to be found at Momoro's. In my room behind the shop, even under the King, all the most radical men used to meet, still meet today?

NEWSPAPER-VENDOR. (mockingly) Yes, old fellow, the club meets where your young wife is.

MOMORO. Booby! They explain to her the recent Republican Calendar which takes so long to get into the head of a woman! What's more, what's more—Oh, the patriots know how to appreciate old Momoro, and how to do him honour; you must know they have chosen no one else but his little wife to be the Goddess of Reason. today, quite early, she was taken to the Town Hall to be all properly decked out for the festival. You'll see. She'll be on show in this very square.

NEWSPAPER-VENDOR. And will your horns be gilded for the occasion?

PEOPLE. Long live Momoro and his little wife!

MOMORO. (to a man sticking a placard on the wall) Hi, you, you're sticking that on top of another—

THE MAN. Oh, that old thing is one of those moderates, but this, here, comes from the Commune—

PEOPLE. (gathering round in their numbers) From the Commune, let's see!

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. (reading aloud) ‘Hebert and Chaumette invite the sovereign people today to the Festival of Reason which will remain in memory for all time!’

PEOPLE. Cheers for Hebert! Cheers for Chaumette! Cheers for the Republic! Ça ira! (The women dance.)

MAN WITH WOODEN LEG. (among the crowd) Hurray! Jump and shout as much as you like but don't stamp off the wooden leg of a deserving soldier of the Republic!

For at this point, in order to show how the mood is changing, moving all the time in the direction of the note that has been sounded by Robespierre, a new speaker steps forward from among the crowd, who is under a certain disability—a man with a wooden leg. The crowd, we shall find, is gradually working its way free of the completely different mood that has hitherto prevailed and beginning to enter into the mood that is connected with Robespierre. The i (ee) mood that belongs to him, begins to be heard.

SANSCULOTTE. (auf ihn zugehend) Was seh' ich? Battiste, du wieder in Paris? Verflucht—dein Bein

STELZFUSS. Hainbuchenes Kernholz—

SANSCULOTTE. Brav gefochten für die Republik? Nicht Tod noch Teufel gefürchtet ? Nie in Gefangenschaft geraten?

STELZFUSS. Bin ein einziges Mal von feindlichen Reitern allein überfallen worden, and da waren ihrer bloss vier—

SANSCULOTTE. Viele Strapazen ausgestanden?

STELZFUSS. Donnerwetter! Ihr habt es leicht, hier im warmen Paris als Ohnehosen herumzulaufen: aber im Feld kampieren und auf Vorposten stehen, ohne Schuh', in einer Kälte, bei welcher die Kinder im Mutterleibe erfrieren, so dass wir Schiesspulver in den Branntwein tun mussten, um uns den Magen zu erwärmen? Dann wieder tagelang fechten in der Sonnenglut—

SANSCULOTTE. Ach, was schadet das dem Krieger im Eifer des Gefechts?

STELZFUSS. Natürlich, wenn dir eine Kanonenkugel den Kopf wegreisst, so stirbst du nicht am Sonnenstich—

EINER AUS DEM VOLKE. Bist du nicht der, den sie als jungen Burschen den kleinen Barbier nannten—Gehilfe beim Barbier Flatte in der Strasse Pompadour?

STELZFUSS.
Der bin ich und habe mein Handwerk nicht verlernt—
Zu Lille, wenn eine Bombe niederflog
und vor mir platzte, griff ich eine Scherbe
vom Boden auf, gebrauchte sie als Schüssel
mit Seif' und Wasser und rasierte dann
so zwanzig Kameraden auf dem Fleck.
Ei, das gefiel euch wohl hier in Paris,
wenn die Armee mit den geschwungenen Fahnen
wegwedelte von Frankreichs Leib des Auslands
Schmeissfliegenschwarm, der zahllos ihn umschwirrt—
Wenn ihr vernahmt, dass wir so Sieg auf Sieg
erfochten, dachtet ihr da hinterm Ofen
wohl auch daran, wie oft wir barfuss liefen
und nichts zu beissen hatten als Patronen,
und oft nicht einmal die?

SANSCULOTTE. Was? lassen nicht die Weiber von Paris ihre Männer zerrissen laufen, um Zelttücher und Uniformen für euch zu nähen? Behelfen wir uns nicht statt der klingenden Münze mit lumpigen wertlosen Assignaten? Was? Wir nicht an euch gedacht? Und sind wir etwa müssig gewesen, indess ihr im Felde standet? In den Septembertagen hättest du hier sein sollen?

STELZFUSS. Kann mir's denken—erinnere mich noch recht gut, wie du vor drei Jahren einmal bei einem Volksfeste dem Pferde des Generals Lafayette, ohne dass es der General merkte, den Schweif an einen Laternenpfahl bandest, weil die Stute damit immer dir und anderen, die hinter dir standen, ins Gesicht flunkerte?

SANSCULOTTE. Possen! Aber in den Septembertagen...

STELZFUSS. Ist es denn wahr, dass ihr in diesen Septembertagen zuletzt auch die sämtlichen seltenen Tiere in der Menagerie von Versailles habt über die Klinge springen lassen?

SANSCULOTTE. Was? Die sämtlichen seltenen Tiere? Nein, nur die Löwen und Adler, weil das die Könige der Tiere sind, und dann was die sogenannten Wappentiere sind, wie sie die Aristokraten in ihren Wappen hatten?

STELZFUSS. Teufelskerle! Wie kam euch denn das so auf einmal?

SANSCULOTTE. Weiss nicht. Auf einmal, sagst du? Gar nicht auf einmal Es kam so nach und nach, wie der Appetit mit dem Essen?

STELZFUSS. Was sagten denn die Gemässigten?

SANSCULOTTE. Kein Wort. Hinter den Sansculotten stand die Kommune, und diese selber deckte der breite Rücken Dantons, der sich damals eben zum erstenmal aufgerichtet hatte als ein brüllender Leu. Gegen den waren die anderen nur ein Rudel bissiger Hunde. Jetzt ist er träg geworden und überhaupt, wie alles grosse Getier, nicht so beständig munter und beisslustig wie die kleineren Kläffer—

EINER AUS DEM VOLK. Ah, diesem Simson haben's auch die Weiber angetan?

SANSCULOTTE.
Ja, ja, doch sag ich euch,
steht der noch einmal auf, so lang er ist,
stösst er die Decke durch und reisst die Säulen
im Tempel um, grad' wie der Simson auch—

EIN ANDERER. Ach was, der steht nicht wieder auf. Den hat der andre unter’sich gebracht. Und dieser andre ist schlau?

STELZFUSS. Wer?

SANSCULOTTE. Ei wer? Hast du von Robespierre im Lager nicht gehört?

STELZFUSS. Robespierre? Robespierre? Ist das das kleine steife Männchen, das man spottweise das’ Talglicht von Arras’ nennt, weil er von Arras kam und gern glänzen wollte, aber nicht heller flackerte als eine Talgkerze? Sie lachten ihn immer aus, wenn er in der Nationalversammlung sprechen wollte.

SANSCULOTTE. Das war damals. Der führt jetzt im Nationalkonvent, im Wohlfahrtsausschuss, im Jacobinerklub das grosse Wort.

STELZFUSS. Ich sah ihn einmal—nur von fern. Trägt er nicht Brillen?

SANSCULOTTE. Nein.

STELZFUSS. Es kam mir doch so vor.

SANSCULOTTE. Er hat ein gelbes Gesicht und bläulich- gräuliche Ränder um die Augen—die wirst du in deiner Einfalt aus der Entfernung für Brillen gehalten haben?

STELZFUSS. Bleich im Gesicht?

SANSCULOTTE.
Gelb—grau—nein, eigentlich—wie soll ich sagen?
Graugrün, wenn man's genau nimmt—tiefe Augen
und widerhaar'ge Braun—ein schlichtes Männchen;
nichts gegen Danton! Aber wenn vor dir
hier Danton steht, der mächtige Koloss,
und dort das schneid'ge Männchen Robespierre
sprichst du mit dem frei von der Leber weg
wie mit dem jovialsten Kameraden,
und vor dem andern stockt die Rede dir
im Schlund—nicht grad' als ob er dich so dreist
ansäh', im Gegenteil, sieht eher etwas schüchtern
und unbehilflich aus vor vielem Volk—
doch geh' nur einmal auf die Galerie
des Nationalkonvents, sobald er spricht:
da kennst du ihn nicht mehr. Wenn festen Schritts
er steigt zur Rednerbühne, wird's so still,
dass du die Mäuschen pfeifen hören kannst
in ihren Löchern. Steht er anfangs dann
aufrecht und ruhig droben wie ein Pfahl
und spricht gelassen, denkst du: nun, er spricht nur eben
wie ein Schulmeister, oder wie ein Pfaff
spricht auf der Kanzel—plötzlich aber wirft
er ein paar Worte hin mit einer Stimme,
so kalt und scharf wie Stahl—in einem Ton,
dass dir ein Schauer über'n Rücken läuft-
Und fängt dann gar der Winkel seines Mundes
zu zucken an, und ruft er bittersüss
in seiner scharfen, schneidigen Manier:
‘Du armes Volk!’ und’ Tugendhaftes Volk!’
da packt dich was im Herzen wie ein Krampf:
du legst die Hand ans Messer, wenn du eins
verbirgst an deiner Brust, und möchtest gern
dich vor ihm niederwerfen und ihn fragen,
wen du zuerst von den verfluchten Feinden
der Republik damit durchstossen sollst—
Zuweilen aber schweigt er wochenlang
und lässt die anderen reden. Es geschehe
viel Dinge noch, von welchen man nicht weiss,
ob sie ihm lieb sind oder leid. Zuweilen
laviert er bloss und wartet auf den Wind.

Eben in letzter Zeit ist er wieder sehr schweigsam geworden?


SANSCULOTTE. (going up to him) What? You, Battiste, back in Paris? Damn it all—your leg—

WOODEN LEG. The prime cut of a hornbeams

SANSCULOTTE. Well fought for the Republic? No fear of death or the devil and never taken prisoner?

WOODEN LEG. Only once, fallen upon by enemy cavalry and then they were four to?

SANSCULOTTE. Stood up to plenty of hardship?

WOODEN LEG. By Jupiter! You've an easy time here in warm Paris, running around as sansculottes; but to camp out in the fields and to be on outpost duty without shoes in a cold that's enough to freeze a baby in its mother's womb, so that we had to put gunpowder in our brandy to warm up our stomachs? Then the whole day long to fight in the blaze of the sun?

SANSCULOTTE. Oh! What does that matter to anyone in the heat of the battle?

WOODEN LEG. Naturally if a cannonball takes off your head you can't be said to die of sunstroke—

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Are you the one they used to call the little barber when you were a bit of a thing—used to help Barber Hatte in Pompadour Street?

WOODEN LEG. That's me, and I've never forgotten my trade—
Once when a bomb came down at Lille and burst
In front of me I seized a fragment up
From off the ground and used it as a dish,
And then with soap and water, on the spot,
Gave a good shave to twenty of our lads.
Ha, this pleased you all right well in Paris here
When our brave army with its colours flying
Swept from our France the dirty foreign flies
Which in a countless swarm did buzz around.
When you did hear of all the victories
That we were gaining, from beside your stoves
Had you a thought how often with bare feet
We went about and nothing had to eat
But cartridges—not even those at times?

SANSCULOTTE. What? Don't the wives of Paris let their men go in rags while they stitch at tent-cloths and uniforms for you? Don't we have to put up with dirty, worthless paper in place of ringing coins? What? We don't think about you? And are we idle when you're fighting? You should have been here in the September days—

WOODEN LEG. I can imagine—I remember quite well how three years ago on a people's holiday, without the General noticing it, you bound the tail of Lafayette's mare to the lamp-post because it cavorted about in your very faces?

SANSCULOTTE. Buffoonery! But in those September days...

WOODEN LEG. Is it true then that in those September days you put to death the whole collection of rare animals in the menagerie at Versailles?

SANSCULOTTE. What? The whole menagerie? No, only the lions and eagles because they are the kings among the animals; besides they're what are in the so-called coats-of-arms that aristocrats used to bear.

WOODEN LEG. You devils! How did that suddenly come into your heads?

SANSCULOTTE. I don't know. Suddenly, did you say? It wasn't a bit sudden. It came gradually—like appetite comes with eating—

WOODEN LEG. What said the moderates?

SANSCULOTTE. Not a word. The Commune is behind the sansculottes, and that's protected by Danton's broad back, and just at that time he was beginning to roar like a lion. Compared with him the others were only a pack of biting dogs. He's become lazy nowadays and like all the great beasts not always so full of vigour and lust for using his teeth as the small curs are—

ONE OF THE PEOPLE. Ah! This Samson too has been bewitched by the women!

SANSCULOTTE. Yes, yes, but I would have you know
When upright he does stand he is so tall
He'd push the ceiling through, break down the pillars,
Just as did once your Samson in the temple—

ANOTHER. Oh well! He no longer stands at his full height. He's under the other now, and this other is crafty—

WOODEN LEG. Who?

SANSCULOTTE. Who Haven't you heard of Robespierre in your camp ?

WOODEN LEG. Robespierre? Robespierre? Is that the stiff little man they call in fun the ‘tallow candle of Arras' because he came from Arras and wanted to shine but gave no more light than a flickering tallow candle? They laughed him out of court when he wanted to speak in the National Assembly.

SANSCULOTTE. That was in those days. He leads now in the debates in the National Convention or in the Committee of Public Safety—in the Jacobin Club too.

WOODEN LEG. I saw him once—only from a distance. Doesn't he wear spectacles?

SANSCULOTTE. No.

WOODEN LEG. It looked as if he did.

SANSCULOTTE. He has a yellow face and a blue-grey rim round his eyes, which you in your ignorance may at a distance have taken for spectacles—

WOODEN LEG. Pasty-faced?

SANSCULOTTE. Yellow—grey—no indeed, what shall I say?
Grey-green, to be exact, with deep-set eyes
And stubborn brow—a simple, little
man, Nothing compared with Danton! But if here
That great Colossus Danton were to stand
And there the little sharp-edged Robespierre,
With Danton one could speak out at one's ease
As with the friendliest among one's mates,
But with the other all your talk would be
Stuck in your throat; not that he's arrogant,
Quite on the contrary for he seems shy
And at a loss before a lot of folk—
But hear him at the National Convention!
You will not know him; when with a firm step
He goes up to the rostrum, all's so still
That you can hear the piping of the mice
Inside their holes. He to begin with stands
Upright and cool above us like a pillar
And speaks so calm, you think: well, now he talks
Just like a schoolmaster, or like a priest
Talks in a pulpit—then, quite suddenly
He hurls out a few words, but with a voice
As cold and sharp as steel, and in a tone
That sends a shudder running down your back;
And then the corner of his mouth begins
To twitch and he cries' out, so bittersweet,
In that sharp way so full of energy,
‘O you poor folk’ and ‘O you virtuous folk!’
And something seizes on your heart like cramp,
And if you have a knife concealed about you
You grasp it firmly, with the strong desire
To throw yourself before him and to ask
Which, to begin with, of the cursed foes
Of the Republic you should plunge it in.
But sometimes he is silent weeks on end
Letting the others speak. Many things occur
Of which one does not know whether they please
Or do not please him. Then too there are times
When he just tacks and waits upon the wind.
He's been quite silent recently again—

Note the skilful way in which the personality of Robespierre is introduced. The sansculotte abandons his role as sansculotte, and suddenly shows himself as a marvellous portrayer of character. If this moment in the scene is rendered with the colouring that it has been my intention to give to it in my reading, then in this speech that the sansculotte addresses to the people around him, the audience will eel the swing-over of loyalty of which we have spoken. The critical moment of transition has come; and as we go on, I shall indicate here and there some of the points that it would be important for a producer to have in mind The second mood is now upon us, it overwhelms the scene as though with a confused and deafening noise; I compared it, you will remember, to the clash of sounding brass.

EIN SCHREIBER DER KOMMUNE. (erscheint mit Handlangern, die Bretter und Handwerksgeräte mit sich tragen) Platz da! Platz, Sansculotten! Das Gerüst für die Göttin der Vernunft und für die Redner wird aufgeschlagen! Der Festzug wird in kurzer Zeit da sein.


CLERK TO THE COMMUNE. (appears with workmen carrying planks and tools) Make way there; make way, sansculottes. The stand is to be put up for the Goddess of Reason and the orators. The procession will shortly be here.

Here we have the ö (French eu in ‘feu’) mood. It has to be spoken forward; we must let the speaking strike on to the front part of the palate.

VOLK. Ça ira! Es lebe die Göttin der Vernunft!

SCHREIBER. (zu den Handlangern) Hierher, ihr Leute! in der Mitte des Platzes! Notre-Dame gerade gegenüber! (Die Handlanger machen sich an die Arbeit.)


PEOPLE. Ça ira. Long live the Goddess of Reason!

CLERK. (to his men) Here, you people! In the middle of the square! Over there by Notre Dame! (The men set to work.)

From now on, the women speak more in the ei (as in ‘height’) mood. With the entry of Robespierre into the conversation, the revolutionary impulses begin to be imbued with a sort of coy and affectionate enthusiasm—e a.

EIN WEIB. Seht nur, dass es nicht wieder so geht, wie im vorigen Jahre bei dem grossen Feste, wo sich ein paar Kerle unter den Brettergrund des Gerüstes versteckten—vermutlich um die Männer und Frauen, die darauf standen, in die Luft zu sprengen, bis man sie entdeckte, hervorzog und totschlug—

DER SCHREIBER. (schäkernd) Ach, das waren bloss ein paar Verehrer eures Geschlechts, die durch die Ritzen herauf- blinzelten... Was läge daran, wenn man heute der Vernunft ein wenig nach den Waden guckte? Sein Augenmerk auf die Vernunft und all ihr Detail zu richten, ist ja fortan Bürgerpflicht!

WEIBER. (ihn umringend) Du Schelm!—Werden sie bald da sein?

SCHREIBER. Sogleich.

WEIBER. Heissa, gleich werden sie da sein! Es lebe Hebert und Chaumette! Es lebe die Kommune! Es lebe der Konvent! Es lebe Danton! Es lebe Robespierre!

A WOMAN. Look to it that what happened last year at the great fête doesn't happen again, when a few fellows hid underneath the platform—as it was thought, to blow up the men and women on it—till they were discovered and pulled out and killed—


CLERK. (waggishly) Aha! They were simply one or two worshippers of your fair sex squinting through the crevices. ... What of it if today, too, someone has a peep at the Goddess of Reason's legs? To make Reason in all her details his aim, is henceforth one of the obligations of a citizen!

WOMEN. (pressing round him) You rogue! Will they soon be here?

CLERK. They're just coming.

WOMEN. Hurray! They're just coming! Long live Hebert and Chaumette! Long live the Commune! Long live the Convention! Long live Danton! Long live Robespierre!

(Translated by V. E. W.)

I wanted to show you by practical example how a scene like this should be treated. I have laid on the colouring a little more strongly than would be necessary in a performance, because I wanted you to have a particularly clear picture of how the different moods come severally to expression in the treatment of sound. We saw, for example, that the countryman has to be spoken throughout with the mouth open, for he is to reveal the a mood; a slight intoning of a should even be audible in every sound he utters. Similarly, you will find the clerk has to speak so that something of an i enters into each one of his sounds. His voice is always in front of that i-boundary in the mouth, of which I was speaking the other day, and is continually striking the front part of the palate. It is by paying careful attention to details like this, that we can gradually learn to give form and style to our speaking on the stage.