Fiction > Harvard Classics > J. W. von Goethe > Egmont
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832).  Egmont.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Scene II
CLARA’S dwelling

  Mother.  Such a love as Brackenburg’s I have never seen; I thought it was to be found only in romance books.  2
  Clara  (walking up and down the room, humming a song).
        With love’s thrilling rapture
What joy can compare!
  Mother.  He suspects thy attachment to Egmont; and yet, if thou wouldst but treat him a little kindly, I do believe he would marry thee still, if thou wouldst have him.  4
  Clara  (sings).
And tearful,
With thought-teeming brain;
Hoping And fearing
In passionate pain;
Now shouting in triumph,
Now sunk in despair;—
With love’s thrilling rapture
What joy can compare!
  Mother.  Have done with such baby-nonsense!  6
  Clara.  Nay, do not abuse it; ’tis a song of marvellous virtue. Many a time have I lulled a grown child to sleep with it.  7
  Mother.  Ay! Thou canst think of nothing but thy love. If it only did not put everything else out of thy dead. Thou shouldst have more regard for Brackenburg, I tell thee. He may make thee happy yet some day.  8
  Clara.  He?  9
  Mother.  Oh, yes! A time will come! You children live only in the present, and give no ear to our experience. Youth and happy love, all has an end; and there comes a time when one thanks God if one has any corner to creep into.  10
  Clara  (shudders, and after a pause stands up). Mother, let that time come—like death. To think of it beforehand is horrible! And if it come! If we must—then—we will bear ourselves as we may. Live without thee, Egmont! (Weeping.) No! It is impossible.  11
Enter EGMONT (enveloped in a horseman’s cloak, his hat drawn over his face)
  Egmont.  Clara!  13
  Clara  (utters a cry and starts back). Egmont! (She hastens towards him.) Egmont! (She embraces the leans upon him.) O thou good, kind, sweet Egmont! Art thou come? Art thou here indeed!  14
  Egmont.  Good evening, mother?  15
  Mother.  God save you, noble sir! My daughter has well-nigh pined to death, because you have stayed away so long; she talks and sings about you the live-long day.  16
  Egmont.  You will give me some supper?  17
  Mother.  You do us too much honour. If we only had anything—  18
  Clara.  Certainly! Be quite, mother; I have provided everything; there is something prepared. Do not betray me, mother.  19
  Mother.  There’s little enough.  20
  Clara.  Never mind! And then I think when he is with me I am never hungry; so he cannot, I should think, have any great appetite when I am with him.  21
  Egmont.  Do you think so?  (CLARA stamps with her foot and turns pettishly away.) What ails you?  22
  Clara.  How could you are to-day! You have not yet offered me a kiss. Why do you keep your arms enveloped in your mantle, like a new-born babe? It becomes neither a soldier nor a lover to keep his arms muffled up.  23
  Egmont.  Sometimes, dearest, sometimes. When the soldier stands in ambush and would delude the foe, he collects his thoughts, gathers his mantle around him, and matures his plan and a lover—  24
  Mother.  Will you not take a seat, and make yourself comfortable? I must to the kitchen, Clara thinks of nothing when you are here. You must put up with what we have.  25
  Egmont.  Your good-will is the best seasoning.  [Exit MOTHER.  26
  Clara.  And what then is my love?  27
  Egmont.  Just what thou wilt.  28
  Clara.  Liken it to anything, if you have the heart.  29
  Egmont.  But first.  (He flings aside his mantle, and appears arrayed in a magnificent dress.)  30
  Clara.  Oh heavens!  31
  Egmont.  Now my arms are free!  (Embraces her.)  32
  Clara.  Don’t! You will spoil your dress.  (She steps back.) How magnificent! I dare not touch you.  33
  Egmont.  Art thou satisfied? I promised to come once arrayed in Spanish fashion.  34
  Clara.  I had ceased to remind you of it; I thought you did not like it—ah, and the Golden Fleece!  35
  Egmont.  Thou seest it now.  36
  Clara.  And did the emperor really hang it round thy neck?  37
  Egmont.  He did, my child! And this chain and Order invest the wearer with the noblest privileges. On earth I acknowledged no judge over my actions, except the grand master of the Order, with the assembled chapter of knights.  38
  Clara.  Oh, thou mightest let the whole world sit in judgment over thee. The velvet is too splendid! and the braiding! and the embroidery! One knows not where to begin.  39
  Egmont.  There, look thy fill.  40
  Clara.  And the Golden Fleece! You told me its history, and said it is the symbol of everything great and precious, of everything that can be merited and won by diligence and toil. It is very precious—I may liken it to thy love; even so I wear it next my heart;—and then—  41
  Egmont.  What wilt thou say?  42
  Clara.  And then again it is not like.  43
  Egmont.  How so?  44
  Clara.  I have not won it by diligence and toil, I have not deserved it.  45
  Egmont.  It is otherwise in love. Thou dost deserve it because thou hast not sought it—and, for the most part, those only obtain love who seek it not.  46
  Clara.  Is it from thine own experience that thou hast learned this? Didst thou make that proud remark in reference to thyself? Thou, whom all the people love?  47
  Egmont.  Would that I had done something for them! That I could do anything for them! It is their own good pleasure to love me.  48
  Clara.  Thou hast doubtless been with the Regent to-day?  49
  Egmont.  I have.  50
  Clara.  Art thou upon good terms with her?  51
  Egmont.  So it would appear. We are kind and serviceable to each other.  52
  Clara.  And in thy heart?  53
  Egmont.  I like her. True, we have each our own views; but that is nothing to the purpose. She is an excellent woman, knows with whom she has to deal, and would be penetrating enough were she not quite so suspicious. I give her plenty of employment, because she is always suspecting some secret motive in my conduct when, in fact I have none.  54
  Clara.  Really none?  55
  Egmont.  Well, with one little exception, perhaps. All wine deposits lees in the cask in the course of time. Orange furnishes her still better entertainment, and is a perpetual riddle. He has got the credit of harbouring some secret design; and she studies his brow to discover his thoughts, and his steps, to learn in what direction they are bent.  56
  Clara.  Does she dissemble?  57
  Egmont.  She is Regent—and do you ask?  58
  Clara.  Pardon me; I meant to say, is she false?  59
  Egmont.  Neither more nor less than everyone who has his own objects to attain.  60
  Clara.  I should never feel at home in the world. But she has a masculine spirit, and is another sort of woman from us housewives and sempstresses. She is great, steadfast, resolute.  61
  Egmont.  Yes, when matters are not too much involved. For once, however, she is a little disconcerted.  62
  Clara.  How so?  63
  Egmont.  She has a moustache, too, on her upper lip, and occasionally an attack of the gout. A regular Amazon.  64
  Clara.  A majestic woman! I should dread to appear before her.  65
  Egmont.  Yet thou art not wont to be timid! It would not be fear, only maidenly bashfulness.  (CLARA casts down her eyes, takes his hand, and leans upon him.)  66
  Egmont.  I understand thee, dearest! Thou mayst raise thine eyes.  (He kisses her eyes.)  67
  Clara.  Let me be silent! Let me embrace thee! Let me look into thine eyes, and find there everything—hope and comfort, joy and sorrow! (She embraces and gazes on him.) Tell me! Oh, tell me! It seems so strange—art thou indeed Egmont! Count Egmont! The great Egmont, who makes so much noise in the world, who figures in the newspapers, who is the support and stay of the provinces?  68
  Egmont.  No, Clara, I am not he.  69
  Clara.  How?  70
  Egmont.  Seest thou, Clara? Let me sit down! (He seats himself, she kneels on a footstool before him, rests her arms on his knees and looks up in his face.) That Egmont is a morose, cold, unbending Egmont, obliged to be upon his guard, to assume now this appearance and now that; harassed, misapprehended and perplexed, when the crowd esteem him light-hearted and gay; beloved by a people who do not know their own minds; honoured and extolled by the intractable multitude; surrounded by friends in whom he dares not confide; observed by men who are on the watch to supplant him; toiling and striving, often without an object, generally without a reward. O let me conceal how it fares with him, let me not speak of his feelings! But this Egmont, Clara, is calm, unreserved, happy, beloved and known by the best of hearts, which is also thoroughly known to him, and which he presses to his own with unbounded confidence and love. (He embraces her.) This is thy Egmont.  71
  Clara.  So let me die! The world has no joy after this!  72


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