Fiction > Harvard Classics > Gotthold Ephraim Lessing > Minna von Barnhelm
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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781).  Minna von Barnhelm.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act II
 
Scene IX
 
 
MINNA, MAJOR VON TELLHEIM


  Min.  Well, are we still both mistaken?
  1
  Maj. T.  Would to heaven it were so!—But there is only one Minna, and you are that one.  2
  Min.  What ceremony! The world might hear what we have to say to one another.  3
  Maj. T.  You here? What do you want here, Madam?  4
  Min.  Nothing now (going to him with open arms). I have found all that I wanted.  5
  Maj. T.  (drawing back). You seek a prosperous man, and one worthy of your love; and you find—a wretched one.  6
  Min.  Then do you love me no longer? Do you love another?  7
  Maj. T.  Ah! he never loved you, who could love another afterwards.  8
  Min.  You draw but one dagger from my breast; for if I have lost your heart, what matters whether indifference or more powerful charms than mine have robbed me of it? You love me no longer; neither do you love another? Wretched man indeed, if you love nothing!  9
  Maj. T.  Right; the wretched must love nothing. He merits his misfortunes, if he cannot achieve this victory over himself—if he can allow the woman he loves to take part in his misfortune… Oh! how difficult is this victory! … Since reason and necessity have commanded me to forget Minna von Barnhelm, what pains have I taken! I was just beginning to hope that my trouble would not for ever be in vain—and you appear.  10
  Min.  Do I understand you right? Stop, sir; let us see what we mean before we make further mistakes. Will you answer me one question?  11
  Maj. T.  Any one.  12
  Min.  But will you answer me without shift or subterfuge? With nothing but a plain “Yes,” or “No?”  13
  Maj. T.  I will—if I can.  14
  Min.  You can. Well, notwithstanding the pains which you have taken to forget me, do you love me still, Tellheim?  15
  Maj. T.  Madam, that question—  16
  Min.  You have promised to answer Yes, or No.  17
  Maj. T.  And added, If I can.  18
  Min.  You can. You must know what passes in your heart. Do you love me still, Tellheim? Yes, or No?  19
  Maj. T.  If my heart—  20
  Min.  Yes, or No?  21
  Maj. T.  Well, Yes!  22
  Min.  Yes?  23
  Maj. T.  Yes, yes! Yet—  24
  Min.  Patience! You love me still; that is enough for me. Into what a mood have we fallen! an unpleasant, melancholy, infectious mood! I assume my own again. Now, my dear unfortunate, you love me still, and have your Minna still, and are unhappy? Hear what a conceited, foolish thing your Minna was—is. She allowed—allows herself, to imagine that she makes your whole happiness. Declare all your misery at once. She would like to try how far she can outweigh it.—Well?  25
  Maj. T.  Madam, I am not accustomed to complain.  26
  Min.  Very well. I know nothing in a soldier, after boasting, that pleases me less than complaining. But there is a certain cold, careless way of speaking of bravery and misfortune—  27
  Maj. T.  Which at the bottom is still boasting and complaining.  28
  Min.  You disputant! You should not have called yourself unhappy at all then. You should have told the whole, or kept quiet. Reason and necessity commanded you to forget me? I am a great stickler for reason; I have a great respect for necessity. But let me hear how reasonable this reason, and how necessary this necessity may be.  29
  Maj. T.  Listen then, Madam. You call me Tellheim; the name is correct. But suppose I am not that Tellheim whom you knew at home; the prosperous man, full of just pretensions, with a thirst for glory; the master of all his faculties, both of body and mind; before whom the lists of honour and prosperity stood open; who, if he was not then worthy of your heart and your hand, dared to hope that he might daily become more nearly so. This Tellheim I am now, as little as I am my own father. They both have been. Now I am Tellheim the discharged, the suspected, the cripple, the beggar. To the former, Madam, you promised your hand; do you wish to keep your word?  30
  Min.  That sounds very tragic… Yet, Major Tellheim, until I find the former one again—I am quite foolish about the Tellheims—the latter will have to help me in my dilemma. Your hand, dear beggar!  (taking his hand).  31
  Maj. T.  (holding his hat before his face with the other hand, and turning away from her). This is too much!… What am I?… Let me go, Madam. Your kindness tortures me! Let me go.  32
  Min.  What is the matter? Where would you go?  33
  Maj. T.  From you!  34
  Min.  From me (drawing his hand to her heart)? Dreamer!  35
  Maj. T.  Despair will lay me dead at your feet.  36
  Min.  From me?  37
  Maj. T.  From you. Never, never to see you again. Or at least determined, fully determined, never to be guilty of a mean action; never to cause you to commit an imprudent one. Let me go, Minna!  (Tears himself away, and Exit.)  38
  Min.  (calling after him). Let you go, Minna? Minna, let you go? Tellheim! Tellheim!  39
 

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