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A New and Complete Translation

Essay 6

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [†] 19 May 1767

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I still have not considered the addresses delivered to the audience before and after the main play on the first evening. They were written by a poet who understands better than any other how to enliven profound ideas with wit and lend an agreeable air of playfulness to serious thought. [6.1]  How could I better enhance these pages, than by sharing them in full with my readers? Here they are. They need no commentary. I only hope that they do not fall on deaf ears!

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 They were both unusually well delivered; the first with all of the grace and dignity, and the second with all of the warmth, delicacy, and engaging courtesy that the particular content of each demands.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0  

PROLOGUE [6.2]

(SPOKEN BY MADAME LÖWEN) [6.3]

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Dear friends, who have enjoyed here the manifold display

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Of humanity through the art of imitation:

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 You who gladly weep, you tender, better souls,

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 How beautiful, how honorable is your desire to torment yourselves so;

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 When suddenly sweet tears steal quietly down your cheeks

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Softening your heart and dissolving it in tenderness;

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 And suddenly your bestorm’d soul, every nerve aquiver,

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Feels delight in suffering, and trembles with pleasure!

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 O tell me: this art, that melts your heart so,

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 This stream of passion, surging through your core,

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Which pleases when it moves, and excites when it frightens,

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Which awakens us to pity, compassion, and generosity;

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 This model of decorum that teaches every virtue–

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Is not this art deserving of your favor and your care?

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0  

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Compassionate Providence sends the theatrical muse to Earth

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 To benefit the barbarian, so that he might become humane; [6.4]

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Consecrates her with majesty, with genius, with divine passion,

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 To be the teacher of kings;

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Calls on her to whet the dullest of feelings to keenest compassion

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 By using her power to captivate through tears;

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 To subdue evil and strengthen souls

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Through sweet apprehension and pleasurable dread;

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 And, for the benefit of the state, to turn the angry, wild man

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 Into a human being, citizen, friend, and patriot.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0  

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Laws may well strengthen the security of the state,

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 As chains upon the hand of injustice:

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 But craftiness will always hide evil men from judges,

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 And power will often serve to protect eminent villains.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Who revenges innocence, then? Woe to the enfetter’d state,

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 That, in the place of virtue, has nothing but a law book!

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Laws that merely bridle public crimes,

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Laws that are used to deliver a verdict of hate,

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 When selfishness, pride, and partisanship

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Impose the spirit of oppression for the spirit of Solon![6.5]

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 There corruption soon learns to seize the sword of majesty

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 In order to escape punishment:

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 There the desire to rule, rejoicing in the decay of the law,

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Plants its foot on freedom’s neck;

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 There he, who represents such laws, succumbs to obscenity and thuggery

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 And slaughters innocence with Themis’ bloodstained sword.[6.6]

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0  

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 When such a man, punished by no law and punishable by none,

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 The clever villain, the bloodthirsty tyrant,

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 When he suppresses innocence, who dares protect it?

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 Deep pools of deceit safeguard him, and terror arms him.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 Who is innocence’s protector, who will stand in opposition?—

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 Who? The fearless art, that wields both dagger and scourge

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 And dares to hold the mirror up

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 Before all monsters of unpunished folly;

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 That unwraps the web deception spins around itself,

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 And says to tyrants that they are tyrants;

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 That, fearless, has no shame before a throne,

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 And speaks to the hearts of princes with a thunderous voice;

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 Frightens crowned murderers, and sobers the ambitious,

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 Chastens the hypocrite, and laughs the fool wiser;

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 Brings the dead to life in order to instruct,

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 The great art that makes us laugh or cry.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0  

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 In Greece Thalia found protection, love, and the desire for learning;

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 In Rome, in Gaul, in Albion, and—here.[6.7]

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 When her tears have flowed with noble tenderness,

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 You, friends, have often shed yours alongside;

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 You have openly united your pain with hers,

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 And cried out your applause to her with full hearts:

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 Like her, you have hated, loved, hoped, and feared,

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 And through suffering, rejoiced in your humanity.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 For a long time she has sought a stage in vain:

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 In Hamburg she found protection: here is her Athens!

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 Here, in the lap of peace, under the protection of wise benefactors,

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 Encouraged by praise, perfected by the connoisseur,

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 Here will flourish—yes, I wish, I hope, I predict!—

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 A second Roscius, a second Sophocles,[6.8]

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 Who will revive Greek tragedy for the Germans:

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 And some of this fame shall be yours, you benefactors.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 O be worthy of the same! Uphold your virtue,

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 And remember, O remember, all Germany looks to you!

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0  

EPILOGUE

(DELIVERED BY MADAME HENSEL)

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0 See here! how resolutely the stalwart Christian dies!

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 And how coldly he hates, who finds delusion expedient,

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0 Who needs barbarity, the better to make his cause,

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 His vision, his dream, into the word of God.

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0 The spirit of delusion was persecution and violence,

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 Where blindness counted as merit, and fear as piety.

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0 In this way, the web of lies was protected with the flare

95 Leave a comment on paragraph 95 0 Of majesty, with poison, and with assassination.

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 Where conviction is lacking, fear steps in:

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 Having condemned the truth, delusion demands blood.

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0 Those who are of a different faith than Ismenor’s

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 Must be chased down and converted by the sword.

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0 And many an Aladin, whether conniving or weak, indulges

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 The dark Court of holy murders,

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0 And must use his sword against his friend,

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 The enemy of fanaticism, the martyr to the truth –

104 Leave a comment on paragraph 104 0 An abominable masterwork of ambition and cunning

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 For which no name is too harsh, no insult too bitter!

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 O dogma, that allows the misuse of divinity itself,

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 Allows the dagger of hatred to be plunged into an innocent heart,

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0 You, with your bloody banner so often carried over corpses:

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 Who will lend me a curse with which to condemn you, you abomination!

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 You friends, in whose breast the noble voice of humanity

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 Spoke out for the heroine, as she became an innocent victim

112 Leave a comment on paragraph 112 0 Of the priest’s fury, and died for the truth:

113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 Be thanked for this feeling, thanked for each tear!

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 He who errs does not deserve the harsh discipline of hate or derision:

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 What teaches men to hate is no teaching of God!

116 Leave a comment on paragraph 116 0 Oh! Love those who err, who are blind but have no malice,

117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 Who are perhaps much weaker, but still are human beings.

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 Teach them, tolerate them; do not force to tears those

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 Who cannot be reproached with anything other than different beliefs!

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 Righteous is the man who, true to his faith,

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 Forces no one into deception or evil hypocrisy;

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0 Who burns for truth, and, like Olindo, never cobbled by fear,

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 Joyfully seals his faith with his blood.

124 Leave a comment on paragraph 124 0 Such an example, friends, is deserving of your applause:

125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 How wonderful! If what Cronegk teaches so beautifully,

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0 If the ideas, that have so ennobled him,

127 Leave a comment on paragraph 127 0 Were engraved deep in your hearts by our performance.

128 Leave a comment on paragraph 128 0 The poet’s life was beautiful, as is his reputation;

129 Leave a comment on paragraph 129 0 He was, and – oh, forgive my tears! – died a Christian.

130 Leave a comment on paragraph 130 0 He left his excellent heart to posterity in poems,

131 Leave a comment on paragraph 131 0 So that – and what more can one do? – he instructs us even in death.

132 Leave a comment on paragraph 132 0 If Sophronia has moved you here,

133 Leave a comment on paragraph 133 0 do not withhold from his ashes what you rightly owe them:

134 Leave a comment on paragraph 134 0 The heartfelt groan that he died, the thanks for his instruction,

135 Leave a comment on paragraph 135 0 And – ah! the sad tribute of a tear.

136 Leave a comment on paragraph 136 0 But give us, noble friends, hope for your benevolence;

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 And if we did not succeed, then criticize; but forgive.

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0 Forgiveness encourages ever nobler striving,

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 And delicate reproach teaches how to earn the highest praise.

140 Leave a comment on paragraph 140 0 Remember that this art, which has a thousand Quins for just one Garrick,[6.9]

141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 Has just begun among us;

142 Leave a comment on paragraph 142 0 Do not expect too much, so that we may continue to improve,

143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 And – but the privilege to judge is only yours, ours is to be silent.

  • 144 Leave a comment on paragraph 144 0
  • [†] Text in blue indicates passages cut by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
  • [6.1] The author of the prologue and epilogue is unknown. Some historians attribute authorship toJohann Jakob Dusch (1725-87), others to Johann Friedrich Löwen (1727-71), the director of the Hamburg National Theater (Robertson 56-8). Regardless of its provenance, this introduction to the theater’s mission connects it to other eighteenth-century efforts by middle-class literati to promote moral reform through the sentimental theater; a “civilized” populace was meant to espouse bourgeois ideological principles of moderation, compassion, and public citizenship (cf. Fischer-Lichte 146-70).
  • [6.2] Both the prologue and the epilogue are written in rhymed couplets.
  • [6.3] Elisabeth Lucia Dorothea Löwen (1732-83) (frequently listed erroneously as Eleonore Luise Dorothea), daughter of the influential actor-manager Johann Friedrich Schönemann (1704–82) and wife of Johann Friedrich Löwen. A principal actress of the Hamburg theater, much praised by Lessing. Cf. in particular [8] and [20].
  • [6.4] Cf. [6.1].
  • [6.5] Solon (c.630-c.560 BCE), Athenian statesman famous for legislative reforms; his name is synonymous with humane and democratic justice.
  • [6.6] Themis, in Greek mythology the personification of justice.
  • [6.7] Gaul: territory in modern-day Western Europe that was inhabited by the Celtic Gauls during the Roman era; here meant to imply France. Albion: archaic name for England.
  • [6.8] Quintus Roscius Gallus (born ca. 134-26, died 62 or 63 BCE), Roman comic and tragic performer whose name is used to denote a great actor.
  • [6.9] James Quin, English actor (1693-1766), particularly noted for his performance of Falstaff. A leading actor of his time, Quin’s popularity was challenged by the ascendency of David Garrick. The latter was seen as a pioneer of new acting methods, in comparison to which Quin’s declamatory style appeared dated. See [7] for Lessing’s discussion of the relative merits of the two actors.
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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/hamburg/essay-6/