Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Carolina Neuber
 Konrad Ekhof
 The Great Schroder
 Adrienne Lecouvreur
 The school of Voltaire
 The Betterton period
 The Cibber period
 David Garrick

Group Title: History of theatrical art in ancient and modern times
Title: history of theatrical art in ancient and modern times,
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076221/00003
 Material Information
Title: history of theatrical art in ancient and modern times,
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Mantzius, Karl,
Publisher: Peter Smith,
Copyright Date: 1937
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00076221
Volume ID: VID00003
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: 01241039 - OCLC

Table of Contents
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    List of Illustrations
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page 1
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    Carolina Neuber
        Page 33
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    Konrad Ekhof
        Page 72
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    The Great Schroder
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    Adrienne Lecouvreur
        Page 220
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    The school of Voltaire
        Page 252
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    The Betterton period
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    The Cibber period
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    David Garrick
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Full Text

Garrick as Hamlet (p. 396).


Fig. 70.

A History of Theatrical Art

In Ancient and Modern Times by

Karl Mantzius

Authorised Translation by

Louise von Cossel

Volume V

The Great Actors of the

Eighteenth Century

New York
Peter Smith


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i ' ~



i -







a. *

r ;

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First Steps of Professional Dramatic Art in Germany-
Literary and Social Conditions-Touring Companies-
Hauptaktions-Hanswurst-Internal and External Con-
ditions of the Troupes

I. Leipzig as the Intellectual Centre of Germany-Gottsched
as a Reformer and the Neuber Family as his Instru-
ments-French Tendency of the Drama--Carolina
Neuber, her Character as an Actress and as a Woman
-Her Husband and her Company 33

II. Struggle for the New Ideas-The Neuber Company in Ham-
burg-The Movement Culminates in the Banishment
of Harlequin from the Stage-The Rupture between
Carolina Neuber and Gottsched-The Fall of Both 49


I. The First Steps of Sophia Schr6der and Konrad Ekhofin
their Artistic Career-The Sch6nemann Company-The
Difference between Ekhofs Reform and that of the
Neuber's Fkhof as a Naturalist His Ideas on
Dramatic Art and his Academy 72

II. Ruin of the Schonemann Company-Koch and Ekhof-
Ekhof in the Prime of his Art-The Ackermann Com-
pany-Schr6der as a Youth-Engagement of Ekhof
by the Ackermanns and his First Meeting with



III. Tale of the short-lived Hamburg National Theatre "-The
Chief Pillars of the Ackermann Theatre in Hamburg-
Intrigues of Lbwen and Frau Hensel-Foundation of
the First German National Theatre-Lessing and his
Dramaturgy EkhoPs Wanderings with the Seyler
Company-His Last Years as Leader of the Court
Theatres in Weimar and Gotha 2. .

I. Difference between Ekhof and Schr6der-New Currents in
Dramatic Literature-Important Companies in Germany
-Koch and Dobbelin-The Vienna Burgtheater 130
II. Schr6der with the v. Kurz Company-He undertakes the
Leadership of the Hamburg Theatre-His Capacities as
a Theatrical Manager-His first Period as a Leader 145
III. Schroder's Company-Dorothea and Charlotte Ackermann
-Schr6der as Actor-His King Lear-Other Parts 157
IV. Schr6der resigns his Leadership in Hamburg and goes to
Vienna-His Influence there-Return to Hamburg and
Second Term of Leadership 169

I. The Friends Beil, Beck, and Iffland and their Artist Life
in Gotha-Iffland's Character-His Relations to Ekhof
-Sentimental Enthusiasm for Life in Nature, and its
Influence on Art 184

II. Abolition of the Court Theatre in Gotha-The National
Theatre in Mannheim and its Leader, von Dalberg-
The Innovations of his Management-Schiller and the
First Performance of The Robbers-Schiller as Dramatist
and as Man of the Theatre-His Importance to the
Mannheim Stage 192

III. Iffland as Dramatic Author and as Actor-His Popularity
in both branches-His Mannheim Period 203

IV. The Berlin Court Theatre-Fleck an Actor of Genius-
Iffland as General Direktor in Berlin -The Old and the
New Era 211


I. The Monopoly of Dramatic Art at the Thditre Frangais-
Outward Conditions-Conventional Costumes-Influence
of Conventionality on Art-Non-Popular Character of
the Plays 220
II. Dramatic Art and Actors-School of Tragedy-Quinault-
Dufresne and his Family-Other Families of Actors 231

III. Adrienne Lecouvreur-Her Special Position as an Actress
-Her Death 239

I. Voltaire as Dramatist- English Influence- Shakespeare
and Voltaire-Voltaire's Relations to the Actors and
their Art-Voltaire as Stage-Manager 252

II. The Two Great Tragic Actresses, Dumesnil and Clairon-
Their Art and their Life 262

III. Lekain, the Most Distinguished Pupil of Voltaire -His
Partial Renovation of Tragic Art . 281

IV. Comedians-Preville and the New Elements in his Art-
Mole-The Palmy Days of the TheAtre Frangais-The
Apotheosis of Voltaire 292

I. Court Literature during the Age of the Restoration-
Influence of the Court on the Drama--Distinguished
Amateurs and Female Wits 306

II. Revival of the Theatre under Charles II.-The Two
Patented Managers, Sir Thomas Killigrew and Sir
William d'Avenant Old and New Actors Thomas
Betterton and his Fellow-Actors 314

1. External Theatrical Conditions Admission Fees The
Public and its Relation to the Theatre-The Various
London Theatres- Attack of Jeremy Collier on the
Immorality of Dramatic Literature 338


II. Colley Cibber, his Art and that of his Contemporaries-
Wilks, Dogget, and Booth-Addison's Cato-Mrs Old-
field and Mrs Porter 350

II1. Last Years of the Cibber Period-James Quin, Charles
Macklin, and Mrs Clive .363

I. Garrick's DLbut-His Qualifications for Histrionic Art-The
New Elements in Garrick's Acting .375

II. Garrick's Fellow-Actors-Peg Woffington and Mrs Pritchard
-Garrick's Fight for the Management-The Old and
the New Styles 385

III. Garrick as Theatrical Leader-His Company-His Relations
to Literature 395




Garrick as Hamlet. Mezzotint by Macardell, after a picture
by B. Wilson. (Illustration No. 70, see p. 396) Frontispiece
FIG. Facing ge
I. "The Strong Man," Eckenberg, and his Tricks (from Hampe's
Fahrende Leute). Anon. print of 1718 8
2. Hanswurst (ibid.). Anon. print of the eighteenth century 19
3. Job. Chr. Gottsched (from P. Hansen's Goethe). 34
4. Carolina Neuber (from Reden-Esbeck's Car. Neuber) 34
5. Carolina Neuber as Elizabeth in Essex (Lithogr. by L6del) 69
6. The Monument in Laubegast over Carolina Neuber (from
Reden-Esbeck) 69
7. Konrad Ekhof. Print by Schleuen, after the picture by
Heinsius 83
8. Heinrich Gottfried Koch (from Weddigen's Gesch. der Theater
Deutschlands). Print by J. E. Bause 83
9. Karoline Schulze-Kummerfeld (from P. Hansen's Goethe).
Pastel 83
io. Lessing (iid.). Painting by A. Graff .
i Charl. Henr. Brandes as Ariadne. Print by Sintzenich, after
a picture by A. Graff 22
12. Joh. Chr. Brandes. Title-print of Meine Lebensgeschichte 22
13. Fr. Ludw. Schrbder (from H6cker's Vorbilder der deutschen
Schausfielkunst). Anon. print of the eighteenth century 122
14. Christiane Henriette Koch, as Pelopia. Print by Bause,
after Grafts picture 122
15. Karl Theophilus D6bbelin (from Weddigen's Theater Deutsck-
lands). Contemp. print 136
16. Demoiselle D6bbelin (as Ariadne, ibid). Contemp. print 136
17. Gottlieb Stephanie (the younger). Print by J. C. Mansfeld 136
I8. Joseph v. Kurz (from Lothar's Wiener Burgtheater). Contemp.
print 136
ig. Johanne (Jonna) Sacco, nie Richard, as Elfride. Print by
CI. K6hl; paint, by Tusch 148
2a. Karoline Dorothea Ackermann (from Litzmann's Fr. Ludw.
Scriider) 148


FIG. Facinx fge
21. Charlotte Marie Magdalene Ackermann ibidd.) 148
22. Christine Schroder, nie Hart ibidd.) 148
23. Brockmann as Hamlet. Print ("Die Mausfalle") by Berger,
after Chodowiecki 162
24. Schr6der in his mature age (from Litzmann's Fr. L. Schrdder) 162
25. Schr6der's costume as Falstaff (from Kellner's Shakespeare).
After Pippo, 1780 168
26. Joh. Franz Hieronymus Brockmann as Hamlet. Contemp.
print 68
27. Fr. L. Schr6der in his later age (from Lothar's Wiener Burg-
theater). Aquatint by Bendixen 178
28. Aug. Wilh. Iffland (from Kiirschner's Auktions Katalog). Pastel
by Fr. Weise 178
29. Johann David Bell (from H6cker's Vorbilder der deutsch.
Schauspielkunst). Contemp. print 178
30. Iffland as Lear. "Are you our daughter?" (from Kellner's
Shakespeare). Drawing by Henschel 208
31. Iffland as Mantel in Der Hausfreund. Print by Bollinger,
after a drawing by Catel 208
32. Betty Roose, late Koch, as Iphigenia. Print by C. Pfeiffer,
after a drawing by Jos. Lange 210
33. Fried. Ferd. Fleck. (from Weddigen's Theater Deutschlands).
Lith.. 210
34. Mad. Bethmann (Unzelmann) as Maria Stuart. Print by
L. B., after a drawing by Dachling 210
35. French Actors (Galli Comoedi; from Reynaud's Mus/e ritro-
spectif). Print by Liotard, after a picture by Watteau 227
36. Tragidienne in costume (" Medea," ibid.). Water colour 230
37. Mlle. Duclos. Print by L. Desplace, after a picture by
Largillierre 230
38. Scene of Le Glorieux (from Reynaud's Musie ritrospectif).
Print after a picture by Lancret 236
39. Mlle. de Seine-Dufresne. Print by LUpici6, after a picture by
Aved .238
40. Adrienne Le Couvreur (from Monval's Lettres de A. L. C.).
Print by F. G. Schmidt, after a picture by Fontaine 238
41. Voltaire. "Drawn and engraved at Ferney, by Mr B. ... 1765" 254
42. Mlle. Dumesnil. "Engraved by N. Courbe, in the year 1767" 254
43. Mlle. Clairon. Anon. print of the eighteenth century 254
44. Mile. Clairon as Medea. Print by Cars and Beauvarlet, after
a picture by Vanloo 278


First Steps of Professional Dramatic Art in Germany-Literary and Social
Conditions-Touring Companies- Hauptaktions- Hanswurst In-
ternal and External Conditions of the Troupes.

THE progress of German civilisation is distinguished
from that of the other European countries by its lack of
a national centre.
To France and England, Paris and London are like
two enormous foci, which attract the rays of intellectual
life in huge pencils of such intense heat and strength
that they burn indelible marks into the tablets of history.
In the annals of the theatre such marks are the names
of Shakespeare and Moliere, which the lapse of time has
not been able to obliterate.
In the development of German civilisation nothing
similar occurs. The prolonged horrors of the Thirty
Years War and the prostration that followed it, spoiled,
we may say, the whole seventeenth century for the
German nation. The rising revolutionary wave, which
had manifested itself in such movements as the Refor-
mation, the peasant revolt and the folk-song, was beaten
down. The foreign hordes of French, Swedes, Russians,
Swiss, and adventurers of no country combined in de-
stroying national life and customs, and left the country
physically and mentally scorched and devastated.
In the many small autocratic principalities which had
sprung up in consequence of the Peace of Westphalia,

the Courts developed into caricatures of the Court of
Versailles. They had their court-poets and mattres de
plaisir, without possessing sufficient money to act as
patrons, or sufficient authority to allow art to manifest
itself freely, or sufficient taste to choose the good and
reject the bad. And, surrounding the Courts we see
the more or less impoverished capitals, whose citizens
were too cowed to entertain independent opinions, or to
dare to enjoy anything before having cast shy glances
at the castle for approval.
Amidst such surroundings, and in such an atmosphere,
no art could thrive, least of all dramatic art, which more
than any other requires liberty, order, and wealth. True,
there was no lack of poets nor of actors either, but
their art is of very slight value. The poets tried
to consolidate their position by forming literary societies
on the model of the Italian academies; such were the
" Palm Order" or the Fruitful Company" in Weimar,
the Pegnitz Shepherds" or the "Crowned Flower
Order" in Nuremberg, the German Patriotic League"
in Hamburg, the Elb-Swan Order" in Holstein. How-
ever, their well-intentioned efforts were practically lost
in outward ceremonies and proceedings of mutual ad-
miration, and no genius arose in their midst. And the
scanty dramatic literature which the seventeenth century
has to show is strangely dwarfed and stunted. As ex-
amples may be mentioned the cut and dried adaptations
by Martin Opitz of antique and Italian plays, the equally
dull imitations by Andreas Gryphius of Seneca's library
dramas, his somewhat more important comedies Horri-
biliscribrzfax, in which he introduces the Italian Capitano-


type into German literature,1 and Absurda comzca or
Herr Peter Squenz, in which some critics have seen
traces of Shakespearean influence. Finally, we have
the bloodthirsty dramas of Daniel Caspar von Lohenstein,
the most typical of all in so far as, though they did not,
properly speaking, form a school, they were quite in
harmony with the taste, not only of their own time, but
also with that of the following period. Right up to the
middle of the eighteenth century, the best way of laying
hold on the attention of the spectators was to heap
horrors on horrors, crimes on crimes, and to make the
performers express themselves in the mixture of coarse
language and the Ye Gods! style, which was character-
istic of Lohenstein. Even his character as an author
was somewhat typical. Himself a quiet, peaceful and
modest scholar, the subjects he chooses for his plays are
of the most revolting kind, such as the incestuous rela-
tions between Agrippina and her son Nero, appalling
court-scandals from Turkey at the time of Sultan
Ibrahim, and so forth. Within the four walls of his
study he revels in bloodshed and lewdness, imprecations,
lamentation, and invective. Though his style is a distinct
imitation of Italian types, this arm-chair ferocity is an
ever recurring phenomenon in German tragic art, and
the name of Lohenstein indeed deserves to be remem-
bered, if only as an example to be avoided.
A diametrical contrast to the Silesian Lohenstein
was the North German pedagogue Christian Weisse,
who made poetry serve practical purposes, and to whom
posterity owes a number of practically useful, but shallow
1 Cf. my Theatrical Art, vol. ii., Middle Ages and Renaissance, p. 250.

plays of all kinds; tragedies, comedies, farces, all in the
same dry and commonplace prose, beside which the
artificial and stilted verse of Lohenstein appears doubly
The seventeenth century had not much more to offer
in the way of dramatic literature properly so called.
Yet, however poor we may find it, it was still too good
for the contemporary theatres and actors. None of the
dramatists mentioned obtained any importance on the
stage. Christian Weisse wrote for the pupils of his
school; one of Opitz's plays, an adaptation of an Italian
opera, is known to have been performed at a court
festival. As to the plays of Lohenstein and Gryphius,
it has never been ascertained whether or not they were
ever publicly performed. They became what their
authors had probably meant them to be, closet dramas.
With regard to Germany they mark the long schism
between literature and the stage, a separation which
was natural enough at the time, as there was no real
theatre in existence.
Germany was overrun by English, French, Dutch,
and Italian acting companies. Some of these obtained
permanent court appointments, others toured from place
to place. Some of them preserved their nationality,
others gradually assimilated themselves to their German
public. German elements mingled with the foreign
actors and helped to make their plays understood by
the uneducated public. At last independent German
companies (" bands") were formed.
The plays were of the most easily intelligible sort.
English actors presented coarse and popular adaptations


of famous plays from their own country, even of Shakes-
pearean pieces, copiously intermixed with dances, music,
and acrobatic tricks, things that everybody could under-
stand; Italians as a rule, gave operas, but also im-
provised plays with harlequins' lazzi; the Dutch
performed farces and pantomimes; the French, the
plays of their own great dramatists, Moliere, Racine,
Corneille, as well as lighter plays by Destouches,
Dufresny, etc., and French ballets.
It was as a bastard child of these foreign races that
German dramatic art made its first appearance, and like
a queer vagabond mongrel roamed about for a long time,
cutting its strange capers, hunted from town. to town,
everywhere exhibiting its peculiar mixed race-marks.
To the English element was due its grotesque, bom-
bastic and noisy tragic style-" King Cambyses' vein,"
as Shakespeare called it; to Italian influence it owed its
mechanical technique and the guild-like constitution
which soon became a characteristic of German companies;
from Dutch patterns came its coarse pickle-herring
drolleries, while the stiff dancing-master bearing and
gestures were of French origin.
In the seventeenth century German dramatic art has
no history but that of the wandering jugglers, quacks,
musicians, and acrobats. It is impelled by no dominant
thought, centred in no great genius; it bears the stamp
of no national poetry. Its history is limited to records
stowed away here and there in town-hall registers,
stating when such and such a company came to such
and such a town, when such and such a Principal"
(leader) was to act in such and such a tennis-court.


Historians of the German theatre, when very industrious,
may be able to give a dry report of the travels and
sojourns of the different troupes, and not much more.
For about a century there is no development to speak
of in the German theatre. Though ever restless in its
movements, figuratively speaking it remains stationary,
always revolving in the same circle.
From time to time a solitary name obtains some
note, such as that, for instance, of Johannes Velten. Per-
haps in his case this was due to the fact that he was not,
like so many of his colleagues, originally an artist's
apprentice, a barber, a hernia-surgeon, or an oculist, but
a worthy and well-to-do Bachelor and Master of Arts,
who had studied at the universities of Wittenberg and
Leipzig. There is a well-known theatrical tradition that
as an undergraduate he took a fancy to dramatic art
through acting in a university performance of Corneille's
Polyeucte.' Indeed, it seems very probable that the
young and well-educated man, after having abandoned
the scientific career and joined the wandering folk, tried
to raise both the repertoire and the style of acting of the
company which he joined, and whose leader he after-
wards became. In fact there is extant a repertoire of
his time, which, besides a heterogeneous mixture of
English, Dutch, French, German, and Italian adapta-
1 In Schmidt's Chronologie des deutschen Theaters-one of the principal
sources of the history of the old German theatre-and in quotations from
this work in Devrient's Geschichte der deutschen Schauspielkunst we find
accounts of this performance of Polyeucte, which is said to have taken place
in 1669. But Velten was born in 1640, and became a B.A. in 1661, so he
could not in 1669 have acted in this play as an undergraduate. He probably
became an actor in the company of Carl Andreas Paulsen as early as


tions, contains a number of translations from Moliere's
plays, which we may safely suppose were introduced by
Velten, even though he is now proved not to have
translated them himself, as had been previously believed.
The company of which Velten became a member
deserves to be mentioned in so far as it may be called
the mother-troupe of a series of acting companies, that
lead down in direct line to the celebrated Fr. L.
Schroder. Its Principal" was a Hamburger, Carl
Andreas Paulsen, who since 1650 had been travelling
about in Germany, and had also several times visited
Copenhagen as manager of one of the earliest German
troupes that came to that town.
Velten did not become an independent manager till
about 1678, and at that time his company was called
" The Electoral Saxon Comedians." This troupe on its
long wanderings also visited Copenhagen, though not
till after the death of Johannes Velten, which occurred
about 1695. The leadership by that time had passed
on to his wife Catharina Elisabeth Velten, who, we
suppose, was the first of the series of sturdy female
managers who became so frequent afterwards.
As mentioned above, a whole pedigree of noted and
distinguished companies can be traced up to the Paulsen-
Velten troupe; their achievements will be treated in a
later chapter of this work. The company of Frau Velten
became that of Denner-Spiegelberg ; the latter changed
into the Neuber company, then successively into the
Schinemann, the Koch, and the Ackermann companies,
which finally, in the year 1771, passed on to the leader-
ship of the great Schroder.

These troupes formed, so to speak, the aristocracy of
the wandering actors in Germany. Alongside of them
a large number of other companies travelled about, who
in wealth and momentary fame were not inferior to them,
but who, nevertheless, by the style of their performances
and by the lower degree of culture of their leaders, may
be considered as having been of secondary rank.
As a typical manager of this class of company we
Smay mention Johann Carl Eckenberg, or von Eckenberg,
"as he liked to call himself, the famous "strong man,"
"Samson the Invincible," "who could lift with one
hand a cannon with a drummer and his drum on the
top of it, and hold it there as long as it would take
the drummer to empty a glass of wine comfortably."
Eckenberg (born 1684 in Harzgerode) belongs to a
later period than Velten, and represents the connect-
ing link between the juggler of the fairs and the
theatrical manager. He himself was an acrobat and his
wife a rope-dancer, but he brought with him a large
company of court comedians and acrobats, who acted
jointly in their heterogeneous rdfertoire, which contained,
besides acrobatic tricks, Italian magic lantern plays, etc.,
comedies such as that concerning Dr Faustus, who is
seen in the tortures of hell, tormented by black devils
with red-hot tongs, and his valet Hanswurst, who,
"wegen alzugroszer Vexirung," was taken up into the
air by subterranean spirits and torn to pieces alive.1
Eckenberg was by no means a common juggler. He
was not only a man of great pretensions, but also a
manager who possessed considerable means and com-
1 G. F. Schiitze, Hamburgische TheatergeschicAte, Hamburg, 1774, p. 62.

a& 33 Sla-r f/W-

I-" The Strong Man," Eckenberg, and his Tricks (p. 8).


parative distinction. His company had obtained the
patent of Royal Prussian Court Comedians, and for
some years he occupied a prominent position, being a
great favourite of King Frederick William, whose taste
this tour deforce comedy suited admirably.
After all, if within the world of strolling actors there
was a distinction of rank, an aristocracy and a somewhat
inferior class, it was not of extreme importance, by no
means so great, no doubt, as that which exists now-
adays between a well-established Metropolitan theatre
and a touring provincial company.
The actors formed, so to speak, one large profes-
sional family. Though we do not pretend as yet to
possess full knowledge on this subject-scientific re-
search into theatrical history is still in its infancy, and
many documents that might throw light on it no doubt
lie still undiscovered in archives here and there-we
may safely assume that at no time between the middle
of the seventeenth and the middle of the eighteenth
century was there any considerable number of touring
companies. The same names recur constantly-now
in the North, now in the South, in Stockholm, in
Vienna, in Russia, on the Rhine; everywhere the same
companies, the same actors. Braving the immense diffi-
culties of travelling, they strolled about all the northern
half of Europe, like the circus-companies of our own
day, and also like them forming a large coalition, united,
not by any outward bond, but by common interests, a
common calling, and by the common contempt in which
they were held.
They always married within their own class, or if

one of the parties did not originally belong to the
profession, he or she had soon to join it, for no other
trade could be pursued during their wandering life,
and it would have been too expensive for the companies
to go on long journeys with a totally useless member.
This is why we meet with so many families among
the German comedians, whose members were all actors,
such as the Veltens, the Denners, a family of harle-
quins, the large Elenson Haak family, the Spiegelbergs,
the Ackermann-Schrbders, and many others. In these
families all members of both sexes, from fathers and
mothers down to the infants of three years, had to
share in the stage-work, to unite their efforts in what
was mostly a hard fight to earn their bread.
Of what kind, then, were the work, the art, and the
conditions of life of these troupes?
First of all, what did they act ? It has been briefly
mentioned that the pieces of the rdpertoire-that is to
say, those of the plays which were not direct translations,
such as at first were most frequently used-were the
products of mixed influences from all surrounding
In the rdpertoires of this period the expression
"Haupt und- Slaatsaktion (chief-and-state-play) con-
stantly meets our eyes. In literary and theatrical
history these Chief-and-State-Plays" have come to
signify a certain variety of representation, which con-
jures up before our imagination a stilted hero, who
has to go through a number of absurd adventures in
as many absurd changes of scene, fiery dragons,
clowneries, and bombastic declamation. But originally


the expression was not meant to convey the idea of
a hodge-podge comedy; in fact, it was no qualifica-
tion of kind, though the plays that came in under
this heading frequently belonged to the category
The performances of those times generally consisted
of two plays, a longer piece de resistance and a short after-
play. The first part of the representation, the Aktion, was
the principal part, and so was naturally called Hauptaktion
-chief play-whereas the little comic after-play was
called Nackkomodie, or Nachspiel. This is very dis-
tinctly shown by the old play-bills, whose length and
curious style give us an amusing insight into the manner
of advertising in those days. One of the earliest, of
1702, dates from the Velten company, the most dis-
tinguished of the time; it runs as follows :-
"To-day, Saturday, on the I5th of July the Vel-
thenian "band" as Royal. Polish and Electoral Saxon
Court-Comedians, will perform on their stage an un-
commonly pleasing Scripture play, which by its magni-
ficent theatrical scenery, but also particularly as an
emotional subject, can scarcely be improved and cannot
displease anybody.
We omit to give a summary of its contents [as
was frequently the custom], as the matter cannot be
unknown to anyone. Only the principal events and
noteworthy scenery are hereby indicated as follows:
The Aktion is called The Ascension of Elijah or The
Storming of Naboth. After the performance of this
excellent chief-action a very pleasant after-play is to
form the conclusion, the title of which is: A School-

master murdered by a Pickle-herring or The Bacon-
thieves nicely taken in.
The stage is in the Dutch Hogshead."'
We see that the Hauptaktion in this case simply
means the principal play, the more important part of
the performance; it treats of a Scriptural subject, a
relic of the medieval Mysteries. But it might as
well be an ordinary comedy, such as the well-known
play by Johann Rist,2 Peace-wishing Germany; which
was also acted by the Velten company in Hamburg
at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The play-
bill calls it "an admirable comedy by the brilliant author
Johannes Rist," and promises "after this incomparable
moral Aktion, a short after-play which is exceedingly
The longer plays by Moliere, too, such as Tartufe
and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which belonged to the
repertoire of the old German companies, were described
as Hauptaktionen,s whereas the smaller pieces, such as
Georg Tauntein (George Dandin) and Les Prdcieuses
ridicules, were used as after-plays. The word Staats-
aktion (state or parade-action), which we meet less
frequently on the play-bills, no doubt alludes to mag-
nificent scenery, such as is indicated in the programmes
quoted above; it conveys the same idea as the
expression gala performance in a modern circus or
So it is obviously a mistake if writers of theatrical
1 This play-bill comes from Hamburg.
2 Play-bill from Hamburg, without date, lent by Schiitze, oj. cit. p. 43.
3 In an undated play-bill of 1719, also due to Schiitze, Tartufe is called
"a noteworthy and modest Haufjtaktion."


history consider Haupt-und-Staatsaktionen as a particular
kind of play; and whether they hailed from Spain or
elsewhere, or grew out of German soil, naturally becomes
an idle question.
A totally distinct fact is, that the repertoires of the
old German companies contained a number of home-
made pieces, which, though differing widely as to their
subjects, may, for the sake of convenience, be classed
together and termed Haupt-und-Staatsaktionen, though
we are incapable of drawing parallels between their
form and construction, as they were not printed,
scarcely written, and though we know the text of
only one, and nothing but the title of many of them.
They are of the following kind:-L'Ecole des Filoux
or The School for Rascals-viz., The vicious life of the
ill-famed rogue John Sheppard in London, his extra-
ordinary practices and shameful end, with Harlequin,
a merry, faint-hearted, and luckily hanged assistant in
the thieves' guild. Or the famous piece, The Asiatic
Banise, with its full title: The bloody yet brave Pegu
or The Sun of the Realm brilliantly rising on the
Asiatic horizon in the praiseworthy person of the
Asiatic Banise. Or the more modern, The World's
great Monster or The Life and Death of the late
Imperial General Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, with
Hanswurst. Further, the great spectacular drama on
Tamerlane, known already in the time of Shakespeare,
which on the German stage bore the following com-
plicated title: The strangely victorious Tamerlan or
Fortune playing with the person of Bajazet, who was
precipitated from the summit of happiness down into the

abyss of despair, a formerly very proud, but finally humi-
liated Turkish Emperor or The female Harlequin.'
All possible subjects were arranged and adapted for
the use of the companies, beginning with the earliest
imaginable, such as Adam and Eve, a very popular
Aktion, in which even Hanswurst was introduced, down
to the most recent political events, such as the Feats and
Death of Charles XII. Of this last equally popular
subject, which was represented in a puppet show in
Hamburg as late as the middle of the eighteenth
century,2 we still possess a text used for a perform-
ance in 1720-a few years after the death of Charles
XII. before Frederikshall.
It is written in the scantiest outline. A few scenes
only are worked out-serious monologues and versified
speeches for singing; the remainder is merely indicated,
like the imbroglios of an Italian improvised comedy,
especially in the comic parts, where Harlequin and his
partner, Plapperlieschen (Prating Lizzie) are the leaders.
The style is absolutely rough, without a vestige of
artistic form or a spark of poetic inspiration; it is an
undigested mixture of utterly crude historic facts and
bombastic speeches, put together in the most confused
and disorderly way. Let us take a sample. The play,
which is in four acts and has an epilogue, begins as
follows : Charles XII. is sitting at a table explaining
to the audience the situation in which he finds himself,
in a lengthy monologue, beginning thus :-
1 The female Harlequin, whom we should not have expected to have
anything to do with this subject, is Manch, the bride of Bajazet, who,
disguised as Harlequin, accompanies him to the war.
2 Comp. Schiitze, of. cit. p. ioo.


"Almighty Ruler of this immense Earth! Hand
that drives fortune and misfortune by the reins of Thy
Will, that tempers [!] the plots of mortals. Who am I ?
Lord, Thy slave. Thou who hast hitherto carried me
safe through the breakers of my awful fate. Permit me,
impartial Europe, in this quiet solitude to give you a
short summary of my life, which has been spent hitherto
in bloodshed, amid corpses, in good and bad fortune.
Charles XI., a son of Charles Gustavus (to whom the
Swedish throne had been bequeathed by Queen Christina
of world-wide fame), was my father, and my mamma
was Ulrica Eleonora, daughter of King Frederick III.
of Denmark, whom he begat by Sophia Amelia, Princess
of Brunswick-Ltineburg, who on the 19th of June 1682
gave me birth between 7-8 in the morning, to the joy of
the whole Swedish Kingdom. My education was very
careful, but the years of my youth were full of calamities,
as my life from my twentieth year till now may be con-
sidered as a constant campaign," etc.
The catastrophe itself, the fall of Charles, is not
developed at all, only indicated in a summary way, as
follows. After a comical scene between Harlequin and
Prating Lizzie, in which the former takes leave of beer
and brandy, a curtain is dropped across the middle of
the stage, and we witness-
Scene to.
Charles XII., Friedrich [hereditary Prince of Hesse-
Cassel], Carl Friedrich [of Holstein Gottorp],
Sicker (adjutant-general), Soldiers.
"While vigorous firing is going on, Charles orders


everything to be kept ready for the bombardment. He
encourages his people to the assault; at last a ball hits
him, and he falls."
Then the death of the hero occasions the following
outbursts of feeling:-

Good heavens! The King is killed.
[Covers him with a mantle.]

Miserable siege!
O! fatal day!
A sad end of the campaign!

Let the Royal body at once be taken away and
transported to Stockholm. There is nothing for us to
do here, but to raise the siege and try to save our army
as well as we can.

Upon which the Swedes leave the stage and give
place to the Danes, who come from Frederickshall, and
the final scene of the play is enacted as follows:-

Scene I I.
Budde [major-general], The Commander [of
This sudden quiet of the Swedes gives me much


to think of; could there possibly be some design
beneath it ?
No, sir; I will reveal it to you. The King has
been hit by a falconet ball.

To others, then, this day most fatal is of all,
Now Charles the Twelfth indeed lies before Fred-
I for the hero grieve; however, it had to be.
Of enemies now our town itself relieved can see.
[Omnes abeunt.]
There is nothing to prove that all the plays of this
class were as void of talent and spirit as this. Possibly
some of these home-made Hauptaktionen were conceived
and written with some dramatic power and taste; how-
ever, it does not seem likely; all the evidence tends to
show that these massive German productions were nearly
all prepared after the same recipe. The authors, by the
bye, concealed their identity under an anonymity so dense
that we do not know whether it was due to modesty or
to shame. Probably most of these plays were the result
of domestic industry within the companies. As the
managers can hardly be supposed to have possessed
sufficient means to pay a distinguished author to adapt
the subjects that were best qualified to attract the public,
this work may have been done by the manager, his wife,
or some comedian who could wield the pen; and out of

the indispensable sensational ingredients-among which
murder, fireworks, cannon-shots, processions, and music
were the stock supply-he or she concocted the strange
mental food which could be digested by none but the
ostrich stomachs of the German citizens of those times.
One spice, however, was never to be left out, and
it may have been just this ingredient which made the
audience swallow the dish so easily, namely, the comic
element. It is the popular humour, inseparable from
every scenic performance of the time, which forms the
only bright spot and the only raison d' tre of this utterly
debased period in the history of theatrical art.
It is clear that in plays of the ordinary Hauptaktion
style, of which we have seen a few samples, it was
absolutely impossible to produce any kind of dramatic
art; but in the comic parts there was no restraint at all.
In them, at any rate, a possibility was open to art,
and in them, indeed, it grew into real power, though
its domain continued to be in the lower spheres.
This comic art never developed into the sublime im-
perishable humour of Shakespeare, still less into the keen
and elevated satire of Molire; it was more akin to the
wit of Holberg, in his Jeppe paa Bjerget (Jack on the
Mountain); it was like the revenge of the oppressed
people on the scourge of the oppressor, deriding every-
thing, itself in particular. It contains no vigorous satire
on certain social conditions, it does not go to the bottom
of human follies; it contents itself with aiming its wit
at them and mimicking their foibles; and, therefore, it
does not create comedy, but only comic actors. Danger-
ous satire and deep humour in the mouth of the comic

2-Hanswurst (p. 19).


actor, the half-irresponsible jester, become mere jokes
and fooleries.
This merry jester, fool, or clown, whose different
phases we have had an opportunity of treating in an
earlier chapter of this work, in his German guise was
originally called Hanswurst." The name is of ancient
date. It is introduced into the written language of
Martin Luther, who says that it is generally applied
to "coarse boorish persons, who pretend to be wise,
and yet speak and act in an unreasonable and clumsy
way." But, a favourite as he always was on the
stage, Hans soon got many names. Pickelherring,"
borrowed from the Dutch farce-player, was for a long
time the name most used in the little after-plays,
whereas the inevitable comic person in the Haupt-
aktion was generally called Courtisan. Later the
Italian influence became predominant, and Harlequin,
introduced by the comic actor, Bastiari, of the Velten
company, made his entrance on the German stage,
whence he was but reluctantly expelled.
However, under the different names and disguises,
the old typically German Hanswurst showed his broad,
"beery-phiz," and his coarse and jolly humour main-
tained originality in the face of the grotesque gloom
of English drollery, and the Franco-Italian nimble
vivacity. Hanswurst became the national type during
the first feeble period of young German dramatic art,
and those among the actors who won any fame during
that time were, so to speak, all of them Hanswurst
players. Especially in South Germany, and more
particularly in Vienna, this popular type throve and


became almost a feature in the physiognomy of the
Austrian capital, which even to this day has not entirely
vanished. Under the popular names of Kasperl and
Jackerl, who originally were nothing but variations of
Hanswurst, the old jester still amuses the merry
Viennese in the Prater, though it must be admitted
that his theatre has dwindled down into a puppet-show,
and his company into a number of little dolls.
In Vienna the typical Hanswurst won his special
popular character through Joseph Anton Stranitzky, who
had originally been a member of the Velten company, but
had afterwards (in 1708) settled down in Vienna, and,
so to speak, founded the popular stage there. He
transformed the jester, who had hitherto been repre-
sented without any particular national stamp, into a
Salzburg peasant, adopted the green Tyrolese hat,
which subsequently became as inseparable from the
typical Hanswurst as the fox-brush and the wand,
made him talk the Bavarian dialect, which always
sounded droll to Viennese ears, and, though his rdper-
toire was doubtless for the most part borrowed
from the Franco-Italian theatre,1 the foundation was
laid of a kind of popular comedy, which might pos-
sibly have developed into something better, if the new
spirit of the time had not mercilessly crushed it.
1 Stranitzky had received a tolerably good education, and knew foreign
languages. He published a number of humorous writings, among which is
a collection of comic scenes under the title of Olla potrida des durchgetrie-
benen Fuchs mundi. I have not had access to the very rare original of this
book, but it seems to have been a selection from Gherardi's TlMdtre Italien.
At any rate, the sample given by Flogel in his Geschichie des Groteske-
komischen (pp. 126 ff.), is a direct, though not a good, translation of
Arlequin empereur de la lune.


However, other champions of the "green hat" con-
tinued the work of Stranitzky, for instance Gottfried
Prehausen, who was a native of Vienna, and worked
chiefly there; Franz Schuch, the leader of a distinguished
German company that travelled all over Germany; and
Felix von Kurz, also a Viennese, who somewhat varied
the type, and called it Bernardon."
The Hanswurstiade became indispensable to the
public and-to theatrical managers. In Vienna it re-
ceived its distinctive stamp, but its reign spread all
over Germany, and while the amiable and graceful
Austrian humour carried it across the stage with ease,
without giving it time to drop into the deepest pitfalls
of tastelessness, the North Germans tramped about in
all its pools, splashing the mud up and down, so that
at last people found the performance unbearable.'
But what finally rendered Hanswurst intolerable
on the stage was that he appeared in everything.
Whether Hanswurst, Pickelherring, or Harlequin-in
the eighteenth century the last name was the most
commonly used-he poked his nose in everywhere.
First he went on through all the acts of the Haupt-
aktion as a prattling commentator on all that the serious
persons did, and then had his independent and leading
part in the after-play, which always, so to speak, formed
a frame to the harlequinade.
Though the merry-maker, the comic actor, was the
most indispensable man in a German travelling com-
1 As late as the middle of the eighteenth century, FlUgel-the author of
Geschichte des Groteskekomischen-saw Sch6nemann, one of the most refined
theatrical managers, as Harlequin, enter'upon the stage in his night-shirt,
which was besmeared with glue at the back.

pany, his branch of art enjoyed no consideration, not
even among actors. If he was not himself the leader
-which indeed was not seldom the case, harlequinade
being the speciality of the company-he was looked
upon as far beneath the tragic hero, the "chief agent,"
as he was called.
On the whole, there was a very marked distinction
of rank in the companies, a detailed ceremonial; and
the elders exercised a good deal of tyranny over the
younger members, who retaliated by teasing and making
fun of their elders. Such a band of actors was like
a travelling work-shop, with a master, a foreman, older
and younger apprentices, and boys ; its constitution was
strictly like that of a guild. It was as if the actors
tried to make up for the lack of general esteem from
without, by leading their lives within their own domain
according to the strictest, most snobbish, and most
mechanical rules possible.
The companies were mostly very large-much larger,
for instance, than the French strolling companies, and
even than the stationary ones in Paris. They might
contain as many as forty members, though probably half
this number was the general rule. But a company even
of twenty persons was large compared with that of
Moliere, which at times did not contain more than ten
or eleven. In Germany it was the rdfertoire which
necessitated so numerous a staff. The heterogeneous
list of characters in the Hauptaktion required a large
supply of working power. On the other hand, most of
the actors were badly trained and miserably paid. The
first steps of the young in the theatrical career were


mostly treated with the utmost indifference by the other
members. Even in later and more advanced times such
things might happen as the popular actress Karoline
Kummerfeld, nde Schulze, relates in her Memoirs about
her ddbut.
It was in 1758 that, as quite a young girl, she joined
the Ackermann company, who were playing in Switzer-
land. Frau Schroder-Ackermann, the masterful lady
principal, mother of Fr. L. Schroder, chose Iphig6nie in
Racine's tragedy of that name for her ddbut. Karoline
Schulze did not know the piece, but she learned her own
part as well as she could from the manuscript copy of it,
as it was in vain to try to get hold of the entire play.
When she dropped a word about rehearsals there was an
outcry among the elders who acted in the piece. Re-
hearsals of an old play, and for the sake of a debutante
That was entirely out of the question. Then she sug-
gested to Ackermann to give her another part with
which she was familiar and which she knew better,
Chimene in the Cidof Corneille. But he answered : The
thing is not so easy as you fancy. We can act no plays
here except those of which the play-bills are printed;
there is no printing office in this town." So Karoline
Schulze made her ddbut as Iphigenie, after having gone
through the two first acts with Frau Schr6der-Acker-
mann, knowing nothing of the rest of the piece, and
having had no rehearsal with her fellow-actors, guided
in her movements and exits only by the long forefinger
of the female prompter.
It is possible, however, that such a thing would not
have happened during the Haupt-und-Staatsaktion period


properly so called,1 during which, though the beginner
was treated with contempt and without any friendly help,
the plays seem to have been very carefully prepared.
We know the golden saying by the old Hanswurst
Stranitzky : The theatre is as holy as the altar and the
rehearsal as the vestry," and, indeed, the many jeux de
thddtre that constituted the Hanswurstiades seem to
have been prepared with the greatest minuteness till
they went off with the same infallible accuracy as the
acrobatic performances. The whole genre was calculated
upon this, and, no doubt, in Germany as in Italy and
France, much professional work was done in order to
produce the striking effect which is always the conse-
quence of rapid and flashing exchange of speeches and
comic changes of attitude.
But in the serious Staatsaktion as well there was
much to rehearse; there were many rules to learn, many
ceremonies to observe, before reaching the goal of being
a perfect Hauptagent. The persons represented on the
stage were strictly divided according to their rank, and
those who stood highest had always to be saluted with
the honours due to their position, just as they themselves
had certain sublime movements to execute, which required
a good deal of practice. Thus the kings had a series of
1 Our sources for the internal conditions of this time are but scanty.
One of the most important is found in the souvenirs and scattered observa-
tions which Iffland has given in his Almanachfidrs Theater(18o7) under the
title Uber den Vortrag in der hoheren Tragddie. This article has frequently
been utilised, among others, by Eduard Devrient, in a somewhat unjusti-
fiable way, by quoting long passages as if they were the writer's own
thoughts, without stating his source. However, the information we gather
from the article must be used with some discretion, as it is partly cast in a
humorous form, and does not pretend to furnish strictly accurate historical


curving gestures with their sceptre, an attribute that
never left them, all of which a professional actor had
to know; and no novice was accepted in a company
without having passed an examination in his "sceptre
When the principal persons were assembled on the
stage they were always according to the French
pattern-arranged in a semicircle, and there were fixed
rules for the manner in which they had to join and to
leave this semi-circle, which invariably fronted the
audience; no secondary characters were allowed to
enter it; they had their places further back, behind
the gaps, so as to be fully visible to the spectators with-
out intruding too much on their attention.
Delivery in the serious style was not to resemble
ordinary human speech. The object was to render it
sublime, and this, then as now, consisted in speaking as
slowly as possible, in drawing out the vowels to the
utmost length and speaking with an ever recurring
excessive crescendo, beginning in an ominous murmur,
and in the end raising the voice to inarticulate roars.
With such utterance the conventional movements
harmonise well: a slow walk, with one leg dragging
behind the other, the elbows either held tight against
the body or widespread like wings, and the feet in the
fourth position. The hands were on no account to be
lifted above the head.
Distinction, sublime carriage, were the aim and end
of the efforts of these a tosi'al' :sisie, coming as they
generally did fro.: tht' fower' classes, :they' could not
possess these .~dvahtges through education, aoi. since,
.. :.:... :... :....' .. ..

on the whole, ease and natural grace were not common
in the nation, they formed for themselves this code of
rigid rules, which in the eyes of foreigners gave the
Staatsaktion a stilted and affected appearance.
This solemn ceremoniousness was introduced even
into the intercourse of private life. The actors did not
associate much with any but their own class, for the
houses of the citizens were mostly closed to them; in
some towns they were even forbidden to seek lodgings
in private houses. But within their own narrow circle
they treated each other with extreme formality. The
Schkif agent," for instance, was never the first to greet
any other; he only acknowledged the respectful saluta-
tion of his inferiors; in public places the leading actors
had their own particular seats, and no apprentice could
approach them without having received a condescending
invitation to do so. An observation of one of the younger
on the acting of an older agent" was considered as an
outburst of madness, and deprecatory remarks about the
plays that were performed might lead to instantaneous
dismissal from the company.
As we said above, their economic condition was
miserable. The managers sometimes made a great
deal of money, but that was an exception, and in those
cases, as a rule, they had athletic and acrobatic per-
formances on their programme, which allowed them to
charge somewhat higher fees. Otherwise the admission
fees were exceedingly low. As late as 1724 the well-
known manage: '(.' P-linQi paI),-. Jhann Spiegelberg-
according:( to.'.the pllay-b'ill' :itd:: n. ask much more
than-"','d: for the most expensiVe.' -ats and 3-d.
..- .^..
*.,"** *** ** ***.> . . *-*****


for the cheapest. The rhymned advertisement runs as
follows :-
Hier in der Fuhlentwiet, dem Bremer Schklissel fiber
Da giebt man 16, 8, 4 Schilling und nichts driiber.
Es wirdpriicis fiinf Uhr bei uns gefangen an,
Das ist allzeit gewiss und kiemit kund gethan.'
For the front rows the fee was sometimes higher, but
the total of the proceeds can never have become con-
siderable in the small theatres. It is true, there was no
great expenditure either. The scenery was exceedingly
poor; three scenes were considered sufficient: a wood
for all open-air representations, a hall for all festive
interiors in royal or other great houses, and a cottage
room to represent simple homes. The celebrated Ekhof,
to whose pen we owe a strongly coloured picture of the
bad state of things before the theatrical reform, tells us
that when staying at Kiel during the Umscklag [annual
fair] he had to content himself with scenery made out
of coloured wall-paper-a yellow scene for all indoor
purposes and a green one for woods and fields. On
the whole, we know very little of the scenic conditions
of this period. However, it was a natural consequence
of the wandering life of the actors and the lack of per-
manent, properly constructed playhouses, that the scenery
differed very much according to circumstances-that it
I Here in the Fuhlentwiet, opposite to the Bremen Key,"
You pay 16-8-4 Scilling [about 14d., 7d., 3Ad.] and nothing more.
We begin punctually at five o'clock.
This is always certain, and hereby made known.
In the Little Fuhlentwiete, a small crooked street in Hamburg, there
existed in the seventeenth century a Comedy-Booth," which was much used
by travelling companies. In Great Fuhlentwiete as well plays were acted
in the public-house Hof von Holland."

was at times modest, to say the least, at times very
luxurious. The stage might consist of "barrels or
similar foundations with boards nailed on; front curtain,
back and side walls, might be formed of counterpanes,
tablecloths, or, at most, of a piece of worn-out wall-
paper." Or it might be established in a dainty little
court-theatre, arranged according to Italian pattern,
with many nice scenic appointments, for the use of
court-operas and Italian magic plays. So it is quite
impossible to form a distinct idea of the outward
theatrical conditions of the time. So much, however,
may be said for certain, that they were without style,
taste, art, or sense.
With respect to costumes, the case was equally bad;
certainly the managers did not ruin themselves on this
score. The most important articles of dress for an
actor were a pair of black velvet knickerbockers, a
brown cloth coat, and a light silk waistcoat. The two
last-mentioned garments were provided by the manager,
the knickerbockers by the actor himself, and he had great
difficulty in finding an engagement unless he possessed
a pair. This costume, with slight varieties, had to do
for all parts. The king's attribute was a sceptre; he
wore a fine gold-embroidered waistcoat, and a hat with
feathers on the top of his full-bottomed wig. Heroes of
prehistoric times were characterized by a scarf tied across
the brown cloth coat, and wore a helmet instead of a hat.2
The sword, which of course was indispensable, hung at
the side in a belt covered with sham jewels of various
1 Schiitze, of. cit. p. 29.
2Iffland, Aim. fiirs Theater, 1807, p. 146.


colours. At the best, old Greek and Assyrian heroes
were attired according to French fashion, in a kind of
armour of sham gold; they wore pouches, had their
hair hanging down in a long pig-tail, and wore a high
head-gear of feathers. The black velvet knickerbockers
were never absent.
In the poorer companies, of course, the state of things
was much worse. Lace collars and cuffs were cut out of
white paper ; the gold embroideries were cut out of gold
paper and sewn on the stuff; the princesses wore no
stockings in their shoes, and the heroes had to content
themselves with old worn-out wigs.
On the question of actors' salaries during the Haupt-
aktion period, we have no means of obtaining informa-
tion, as no regulations or accounts are left from those
times; but the salaries are not likely to have been higher
than in the time immediately following, during which
they were exceedingly low. Thus, in 1740, the budget
of weekly salaries which the manager Schonemann had
to pay to a tolerably large company was i6 Thalers
8 Groscken (about 2, I3s.). Frau Schroder, after-
wards Frau Ackermann, who had been very successful,
left the said company in 1741 because she could not get
her weekly salary increased to the 7 Marks 8 Schillings
(about 9s. English) for which she asked. Ekhof, who,
it is true, at that time was only a beginner, had I Thaler
16 Groscken (about 5s.), which was even lowered to
i Thaler 8 Groschen.
However, if the budget for scenery, costumes, and
salaries was low, one item of expenditure was exceed-
ingly large, that of travelling expenses.

Long journeys were a necessity for the companies, as
it was impossible for them to maintain themselves, on an
average, for more than a few months in one town; at the
same time, these journeys were ruinous to the managers,
as the small proceeds went to pay for expensive trans-
port and post-horses. Journeys were one of the few
things that cost much more in those times than now-
adays. As a good example of the absurd relation
between this item of the working expenses and the
proceeds of the acting, we may state that the manager
Ackermann, stepfather of the great Fr. L. Schroder,
when, at the outbreak of the Seven Years War, he left
Konigsberg and went to Leipzig with his troupe, paid
2000 Thalers for these 117 German miles by post,
whereas the first five weeks' performances in Leipzig
brought him in no more than 409 Thalers gross receipts.
Moreover, the journeys were often very troublesome,
sometimes dangerous, and always detrimental to work,
as these frequent changes of residence almost entirely
prevented the companies from studying new plays, and
forced them to go on with the old hackneyed pieces,
which, of course, had a relaxing and deteriorating effect
on the actors.
Even in early times German companies travelled
far and wide, not merely within the extensive territory
of their own language; they frequently visited Denmark,
Norway, and Sweden, and in later times Russia became
a favourite resort, where they braved great hardships in
order to gain the Russian roubles, that were easier to get
hold of than the German Schillings. Naturally, these
journeys to the far North, especially in winter, were


fraught with the utmost difficulty. In Russia at times
each single person and each single box had to be drawn
in a small sledge across the unsafe ice of the frozen
rivers, the guide preceding them at a distance of about
12 feet.1 Old German writers of theatrical history give
an account of a journey in Denmark by the Spiegelberg
(or Velten) company during the hard winter of 1710. It
is true that their reports do not quite agree, and the story
has never been entirely cleared up. They say that the
company had been acting in Copenhagen part of the
winter, but during Lent the actors wanted to go to a fair
across the Sound,2 which, owing to the severe frost, was
covered with ice. So it was decided to make the journey,
about 18 English miles, by sledge. But a snowstorm came
on, the guide lost his way, and after spending the whole
day on the ice, the party arrived in the evening at a short
distance from Copenhagen. The men, who had been
sensible enough to walk, escaped unhurt from the hard
journey, but all the ladies had their feet frost-bitten, and
young Mlle. Denner (afterwards Frau Spiegelberg) so
badly that the big toes of both her feet had to be ampu-
tated, in consequence of which she always had a rolling
gait on the stage.
The object of this chapter has been to give a short
account of this long theatrical period in as broad and
1 Fr. L. Meyer gives an account of this in his long biography of Schroder.
Hamburg, 1819, i. 13, about Ackermann's Journey from St Petersburg to
2 L6we : Geschichte des deutschen Theaters, and C. H. Schmidt: Chron-
ologie des deutschen Theaters, give very different accounts of this adventure,
which is afterwards varied both by Overskou [a Danish author], in his
History of the Danish Theatre (i. 127), and by Devrient (i. 344). Of these
the report of Schmidt is by far the most trustworthy.

distinct outline as possible. Against the background
of the highly developed and flourishing theatrical
conditions of other civilised countries, the years of
apprenticeship and the wanderings of German histri-
onic art appear the more miserable. Even the out-
wardly very modest foundation of a national theatre
in our little Denmark possessed a brilliant wealth of its
own in the great comic author [Holberg] who was its
centre and intellectual leader.
Yet, though these wandering folk, who were much
more jugglers than artists, have no history, though no
poet wrote for them, no censor criticised them, no great
man patronised them, no highly educated people came
to see them, though they were nothing but the despised
pastime of the crowd, here and there among their num-
ber there must have been some one or other who had
higher aspirations, whose inward eye saw an image of
the art he cultivated, very different from the sights
which everyday life showed him-a beautiful, inspiring
image. For, after all, the seed of all the good that was
to come was present, though unseen, in this ludicrous
and anything but beautiful chaos.
What was wanted was an energetic effort, a firm
purpose, to bring about a change.



Leipzig as the Intellectual Centre of Germany-Gottsched as a Reformer
and the Neuber Family as his Instruments-French Tendency of the
Drama-Carolina Neuber, her Character as an Actress and as a
Woman-Her Husband and her Company.

WHILE German theatrical art was still roaming about
homeless and unnoticed, literature succeeded in finding
a centre in the university town of Leipzig. This town,
which was at the same time a seat of learning, of gal-
lantry, and of light living, had already witnessed the
powerful and courageous struggle of Chr. Thomasius
for the honour of the German language and for liberality
in all intellectual domains; it had heard young Giinther
-in his time the most original among the poets-sing
his songs; it had its Poetic Society," its critical reviews
and periodicals. Its public possessed literary interests,
and was eager to promote national intellectual culture;
and during the first decades of the eighteenth century,
Leipzig had reached the standpoint of being the centre
of taste which ruled all Germany.
At about the same period the strong literary move-
ment of this town found a prominent organiser in a young
man named Johann Christoph Gottsched, who had come
to Leipzig as a tutor in the house of Menke, the founder
of the Poetic Society."

There are few men of whom so much good and so
much evil have been said as this Pope of literature,"
as he was afterwards called. He was one of those who
are chastised with one hand and stroked with the other
by historians of literature and of the theatre. However,
the blows fall heavier than the caresses. His secret
was, perhaps, that the caprice of fate had placed him
in a milieu, where he might indeed assert himself, but
for which his natural gifts and disposition had not suited
Gottsched was a Prussian, but as a young man he
had fled from home, as his tall, stalwart figure rendered
him a coveted object for the recruiting officers of Fred-
erick William I. Perhaps this was where he missed
his real opportunity. No doubt his sense of order, his
punctuality, his tendency to discipline, and his energetic
ambition would have well fitted him for the military
career. He went to Saxony and threw himself into
literature and art, without possessing any genuine
artistic sense or literary capacity. But his very limited
gifts were combined with an extraordinary talent for
organisation and an uncommonly persistent and enter-
prising character. The goal of his ambition was to
organise German literature, and the means he found
to this end was to arrange it entirely after the French
pattern. Having made up his mind on this point, he
set to work to fulfil his task with great tenacity. He
wrote a book on poetics, which was to teach the
Germans the right method of composing verse, and
a book of rhetoric ; he also published a series of
periodicals. He soon became President of the Leipzig

3-Gottsched (p. 34).

4-Carolina Neuber (p. 39).


Poetic_Society," a kind of academy with correspondents
all over the country, who kept him informed of all literary
events, and reported to him about his adherents, whether
.they were keeping up or falling off. He meant to be the
supreme judge of taste in Germany, its Boileau; but,
entirely lacking the artistic disposition, and the deep,
though limited, sense of art of his prototype, he marched
at the head of German poetry, not as a real chief, but as
a kind of regimental drummer, with an air of importance,
obstinate in his adherence to the time once set for him
to beat, though unable to understand the music that was
being played behind his back.
Among the things that were to be organised was, of
course, the German Theatre. A tragedy, according to
French rules, in French alexandrines, was soon written,
but this-Gottsched saw perfectly well-was not all.
It was the performers themselves that had to be brought
under control, to be reorganised, and to be subjected to
the French, or rather to the Gottschedian regularity,
order, and decency.
A happy chance of attaining this end soon came to
his assistance. It gained for him two enthusiastic
adherents in the Neubers, husband and wife, who came
to Leipzig in 1727 with their recently established com-
pany. They at once sought the rising star-Gottsched
at that time was only twenty-seven years old-and con-
cluded a kind of alliance with him, an alliance which
became of great importance, which, indeed, is usually
regarded as a turning point in the history of the German
Of the two Neubers, the wife, Frederika Carolina,

nde Weissenborn,1 was by far the more distinguished.
She was of good family, as her father occupied a
respectable position as barrister and judicial inspector
in Reichenbach, Saxony. Left motherless at an early
age, the fresh and clever young girl lived alone with her
morbid, gouty father, who had given up part of his
business, and now, in another little Saxon town,
Zwickau, masterful and ill-tempered as he was, seems to
have made it his principal concern to annoy everybody
around him. Only fourteen years of age, but very good
looking and with a well-developed figure, Carolina
entered upon a liaison with her father's clerk, a young
law student, with whom she eloped from her dreary
home. The police were sent on the track of the juvenile
lovers, who were arrested and brought before a law
court. The letters and the reports of the lawsuit, which
have been preserved, show Carolina Weissenborn to have
been a brave and high-minded girl, but at the same time
they prove the cowardice of the young man on whom
she had bestowed her love. They never married, but
each of them found comfort in their own way.
Carolina was reinstalled in the house of her harsh
parent, where she persevered five years longer, before
running away again, this time never to return. Her
second elopement was so thorough that she took two
young students with her, one of whom was her future
husband, Johann Neuber. The three fugitives went to
Weissenfels, where they sought refuge in the theatre, a
haven which was the usual resort of young people whose
life had been somehow turned out of its proper course.
1 Born on 9th March 1697.


At that time-in 1717-the "Royal British and
Electoral Brunswick-Ltineburg Court Comedians," under
the management of Christian [Johann] Spiegelberg,1
was acting in Weissenfels. This troupe, which also
called itself "The High-German Company of world-
wide fame," and which was an offspring of the Velten
troupe, took up the three fugitives-Carolina Weissen-
born, the pretty fair girl with the beautiful figure, no
doubt with pleasure. Johann Neuber probably did not
possess much dramatic talent-at any rate he never
distinguished himself particularly as an actor-but he
was a well-educated man of good breeding. About the
third of the elopers, history tells us nothing.
How long the young couple Neuber married
Carolina Weissenborn the following year in Brunswick
Cathedral-remained with Spiegelberg is not known.
Some years later, however, they were members of
the Haak company.2 It was here that the new idea
of raising the level of the company seems to have
sprung up.
The mainstays of the company were Leipzig during
the noted annual fair, and Brunswick. Besides the two
Neubers it contained a few members who had raised
themselves above the ordinary level of the Haumt-und-
Staatsaktion, first of all Friedrich Kohlhardt, who, it
seems, possessed great talent, and who was much com-
1 In theatrical history we meet now with a Johann, now with a Christian
Spiegelberg, but many circumstances seem to prove that they were one and
the same man. He (Christian) travelled much in Scandinavia, and died in
Bergen in 1732.
2 Another offshoot of the Velten company, founded by its fantalone
Elinson, whose widow, afterwards the wife of Haak, and after his death, of
Hoffmann, held the leadership of the company for several years.


mended in his time, but about whom we possess very
little information, and the intelligent Karl Ludwig
Hoffmann, who married the widow Elinson-i-Haak and
inherited the management of her company.
Young Gottsched noticed the comedians in Leipzig
and, having by that time already conceived his reforming
ideas, he wrote a kind of critique on them in one of his
first pamphlets, The Reasonable Censors 1-no doubt the
first theatrical review which saw the light in Germany-
in which he praised their attempts at playing regular
comedies and tragedies.
This was in 1724. Next year, however, the clever
, manageress died, and the company was much weakened
by continual quarrels between Hoffmann and his step
children. The good actors left it, among others Neuber
and his wife.
When at last Hoffmann threw up the game and went
to St Petersburg, Neuber and his wife undertook the
management of the company. In 1727 they succeeded
in acquiring the privilege of calling their company the
Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Comedians,"
which, for one thing, gave them a right to act and play
during the Leipzig fairs, as well as one week before and
after them," but (otherwise) included no royal subvention.
By this time Carolina Neuber had become a fully
matured actress. Thirty years of age, handsome, stately,
with regular, prepossessing features and a majestic frame,
which was shown off to great advantage by the many
male disguises in which she liked to appear, she had all
the outward qualifications of a great "leading lady."
1 Die verniinftigen Tadlerinnen.


Nor were some of the inward conditions wanting. She
was very impulsive, easily moved both to love and
to anger, passionate and unrestrained. But she lacked
taste as well as the power of losing herself in her art.
As an actress, therefore, she fell out of fashion as quickly
as the style of comedy which she had brought to the
front. However, in her palmy days she was considered
a great actress. Gottsched's pronouncement about her
that she is not behind any French or English woman
in the art of acting" is of little consequence for, in the
first place, Gottsched possessed no genuine theatrical
sense at all, and secondly, he was no critic, only a
literary politician, who praised his own adherents and
blamed his opponents without regard to their actual
value. But Lessing, whose judgments signify infinitely
more, says of her: "We should be very unfair if we
denied that this excellent actress possesses a thorough
knowledge of her art. She has the intelligence of a
man; in one point only she reveals her sex; she is
too fond of trifling on the stage; all plays of her own
invention abound with disguises,' brilliant feasts, and
wonderful shows. Perhaps, however, she knows her
Leipzig people, and what I consider a weakness may be
nothing but a stratagem with her."
Such as she was, however, and with her tenacious
ambition, both personal and professional, she was an
excellent instrument for the work which makes her a
1 According to a play-bill of 1728, a piece was acted with the title The
Leather Seller of Bergamo, in which Cathringen [no doubt Frau Neuber]
appeared as Pantolfo, as Fraulein Hohindtgen, as a learned philosopher,
as Fraulein Hausgrath, as a bandit, and as a poor woman with many

conspicuous figure in theatrical history, that, namely,
of exalting her art in the eyes of the world so as to
render it the subject, not merely of common talk, but
of written fame-in short, to bring it into contact with
literature. She did not do this by a quiet movement
of inward development. It was her gift to inspire
people with a different view of dramatic art, though,
indeed, this art had not been essentially improved,
and she did it with as much noise, as much puff as
possible. On that account she was able to co-operate
with Gottsched, who, like herself, was neither able nor
desirous to effect anything but an outward reform.
Minds of a deeper and more sensitive artistic turn
could scarcely have stood the toil of the pioneer work
which these two stalwart natures combined in carry-
ing out.
Her husband, Johann Neuber, is an obscure figure
in theatrical history, chiefly because he was of no
importance as an actor, but also because his quiet
and modest appearance necessarily caused him to be
overshadowed by his wife, who, so to speak, always
marched with the band playing. However, the his-
torians who have represented Neuber as a mere
simpleton, of no consequence either in his family or
in the company, are quite mistaken. His many letters
-it was he who conducted the correspondence, and
who, in the main, was entrusted with the administrative
management of the company-bear testimony to his
having been a sensible, well-educated man of good
Rumours of Gottsched's reforming ideas had already


spread widely in Germany. He had also applied
personally to the "Principal," Hoffmann, trying to
persuade him to give up the old-fashioned plays with
the harlequinades that were his particular aversion, and
take up regular French tragedies and comedies instead.
Some translations of such plays were already in hand,
and several of them had been attempted successfully
on the stage, especially Regulus by Pradon, The Cid
of Corneille, and Ifhiginie by Racine; but to the
direct question of Gottsched, why he did not produce
more plays of the same kind, Hoffmann replied that
the public could not do without the fool in the serious
plays. As soon, however, as Mrs Neuber had taken
the lead in her company, she saw that if she wanted
to give something new and better than the earlier
companies, if she wanted to raise the level of her
profession and her art-and this was indeed her pur-
pose- Gottsched would be the man to help her.
The Neubers had no sooner come to Leipzig for
the Easter fair in 1727, than they sought Gottsched,
and offered the young Master of Arts their respectful
adherence. A formal alliance was concluded between
the two parties, which aimed at nothing less than a
complete reformation of the German stage. Gottsched
was a methodical man, and he knew what he meant
to do. The first important thing was to purify the
stage of all that could be called improvised comedy
and kanswurstiades. No Haupt-und-Staat-aktions, no
burlesque after-plays! However, as almost the whole
repertoire consisted of such pieces, a new one had to
be produced; but whence? German dramatic authors

were practically non-existent; therefore, thought Gott-
sched, we must take refuge in the French, and
translate them till we have learned their art, which
cannot take very long.
As to the art of acting, the natural consequence
of introducing a repertoire of regular plays would be
the abolition of improvisation and the necessity for
actors to learn their parts thoroughly, and to reproduce
the Franco-German alexandrines with accuracy. The
costumes likewise had to be reformed. In classical
tragedy Gottsched would have preferred the genuine
Greek and Roman styles of dress, but this reform,
which was one of his most advanced and sensible
suggestions, was so thoroughly radical, and went so
dead against not only all German, but all international
convention, that he could not find approval for it
anywhere. Nay, afterwards, when with his usual
tenacity he persevered in advocating it, he was re-
ceived with ridicule, and it very nearly caused his fall,
which we shall have an opportunity of mentioning in
a later chapter.
To Gottsched, therefore, the question appeared very
simple; he and his friends translated and adapted some
more French plays of both kinds. The actors played
them in the regular way, without improvisation or
clowning. Thus the German theatre would be re-
formed, and within a few years the Germans would
have overtaken the French and perhaps outstripped
the English, both in writing and in acting dramas.
There can scarcely be any doubt that Gottsched was
absolutely in earnest, and under the firm conviction


that art and literature could be "arranged" in such
a way, if the thing were managed with the proper
energy, and if he, Gottsched, led the way.
It may be doubted, however, whether the matter
appeared quite as simple to the Neubers, who for ten
years had been travelling about in Germany with the
Spiegelberg and Haak-Elinson companies, and who
knew the public of the small German towns well. At
any rate it could not be-as has been sometimes sug-
gested-a propensity for financial speculation that in-
duced the young people to take up Gottsched's ideas
with pleasure and enthusiasm, for they could not help
seeing at once that it would entail great sacrifices to
convert the general public from its taste for show-
pieces, full of Hanswurst clowneries and jokes, to the
monotonous recitals of the sublime, but not very
amusing. French classics. That this was so appears
clearly from the letters which the couple afterwards
send to their "distinguished friend and patron," Gott-
sched, to inform him of the progress of his reforms
in other towns. Thus on one occasion Johann Neuber
writes quite pathetically from Nuremberg: ". . to
begin with, most people did not care to hear of a
comedy entirely in verse. But now, indeed, I think
the upper class are won over, and many of them have
begun to like reading some of the new Leipzig books.
. . Perhaps (though it is not certain) we might earn
more thalers if we acted merely old, tasteless, homely,
native, popular plays; however, as we have started a
good thing, I will not stop as long as I have a grosc/en
to spend on it. In any case, what is good must remain

good, and I go on hoping that with your valuable assist-
ance we shall win the day in the end, even though it
may take longer than a year. . ." 1
What we also learn from the correspondence which
was carried on between the Neuber company and the
ever mightier Leipzig professor for several years is
the warm enthusiasm with which the couple, especially,
of course, the impulsive Frau Neuber, seize on the new
ideas, the eagerness with which they carry them out, and
their contempt for the fools who cannot understand the
value of the wonderful thing offered them in these
sublime plays.
To our eyes it does not appear a particularly
seductive ideal to play the French classical tragedies
in bad, clumsy translations or barren German imitations,
nor could German classical art be directly promoted by
them. Yet, indirectly it was of great importance that
the leaders of a company should be impressed with the
idea of having a vocation to work for, and one which
tended to raise them, not only in their own minds, but
also in those of other people, who had never thought of
troubling themselves about theatrical affairs. It brought
about an intercourse between literary, even university
men and the hitherto entirely ostracised class of wander-
ing artists, of which twenty years previously nobody
would have ever dreamed.

1 The whole letter is reprinted in Reden-Esbeck: Carolina Neuber und
ikre Zeitgenossen (p. ror), a book which contains copies of several inter-
esting documents of the time, but which, otherwise, is quite worthless and
2 He became extraordinary Professor in 173o, ordinary (in logic and
metaphysics) in 1734.


Moreover, it imposed a new method of work on the
performing actors. The versified plays with their rhymed
alexandrines forced the performers to take up their parts
in a manner that differed very much trom the earlier
method. Even though it was not merely improvised
comedy that had been acted previously, and even if the
former work had also required preparation,1 the new
regular plays necessitated much accuracy in committing
their parts to memory, and a depth of character-study
hitherto unknown. And, it must be said, this new
method of working caused the greatest difficulties to
the actors, especially the study of their parts. Whereas
the new task of penetrating into a character, to form and
develop it, could not but interest and fill the mind of a
really talented actor, the mere work of learning by heart
was an immense toil, especially to those somewhat
advanced in age, whose memories could not easily be
trained after an entirely new fashion. Even to Frau
Neuber, though she was only thirty years old when the
alliance with Gottsched was concluded, learning by heart
always remained a stumbling block, and in general many
years passed before the actors altogether abandoned im-
provised comedy. Fr. L. Schr6der, though belonging to
the following generation, confessed that in his youth he
had never learned his part in a comedy by heart, but
had contented himself with studying the character and
the situations, and otherwise said just what occurred to
After all, those who adhered to Carolina Neuber
1 Cf my Theatrical Art, vol. ii., in Middle Ages and Renaissance, for the
study of Improvised Comedy.

mostly belonged to the younger generation; they gladly
accepted the new ideas and the new method of working,
though perhaps in many cases they were more willing
than able to carry them out. Even the older supporters
of the new fashion, the excellent Kohlhardt, for instance,
and Lorenz and his wife were only in their thirties;
besides these a number of new men eagerly and enthusi-
astically took up the new tasks. The most distinguished
members of the company were Koch, Schbnemann, and
The first mentioned, Gottfried Heinrich Koch, who
afterwards played an important part in theatrical history,
was a young lawyer of twenty-eight when he joined the
Neuber company in 1728. He was an intelligent, precise
young man of quiet habits and many capabilities, but
probably without special or great dramatic talent. He
could paint, write verse and act, and was a valuable
addition to the young company. He painted scenery,
wrote and translated plays, and acted all kinds of parts.
He had no difficulty in adapting himself to the new
school; the graceful style and regular diction came easy
to him. In the course of time he became a very popular
actor, especially in the Franco-classical comedy, the style
of which his assimilative nature had picked up from
French actors, especially on one occasion when his com-
pany was visiting Strassburg. He was also successful
in tragic parts as long as the Neuber style was in
fashion; but he was incapable of rising beyond it, and
at a later period he figured as a somewhat ludicrous relic
of a taste that had passed out of fashion. In serious
parts especially, his affectedly refined gestures were


ridiculed, and it was asserted that whenever he put
his hand inside his open waistcoat he moved it in a
semi-circle, and always back to his pocket again in the
same way. Nevertheless, though no genius, he became
a very able theatrical hand, and in his time was one of
the most useful members of the Neuber company.
Johann Friedrich Schonemann, who joined the
Neub-es in 1730, was about the same age as Koch,' but
while the latter came as a beginner, Schinemann had
been acting for at least six years, chiefly with the dis-
credited Forster company. Originally he was a harle-
quin, but when with the Neubers he acted a little of
everything, more particularly the valets in the French
plays. He was a practical and a serviceable man. He
married the charming Anna Rachel Weigler, and these
two became the chief pillars of the company during the
subsequent years, she as a female lover, he partly in
comic, partly afterwards also in serious parts, in which,
however, he was unsuccessful.
Little or "handsome" Suppig2 was a native of
Dresden and joined the company about 1731. He was
a very dainty, elegant, little man, clever at French, who
played the piano as well as billiards, was nimble of move-
ment like a dancing-master, and spoke in a clear treble
voice. He soon became the first lover of the company-
some reporters say, even of the manageress-and played
1 Koch was born in Gera, 1703, and became an undergraduate at Leipzig;
Sch6nemann in 1704 in Crossen-on-the-Oder.
2 This characterisation is taken from a libellous pamphlet on Carolina
Neuber, entitled Leben und Thaten der weltberichtigten, etc., Frederica
Carolina Neuberin, etc. From its gross witticisms and accusations may be
drawn a few items of information, for example about Suppig, about whom
it is difficult to learn anything elsewhere.

heroes in tragedy and young men in comedy. In par-
ticular, he was the first who represented the dlIgant, the
dandy, the Stutzer, as this character is called in German
theatrical language. His talent, cut after the French
fashion, was admirably suited for the new style; besides,
he had greater facility than most others in studying the
clumsy rhymed verses. He became the faithful friend
of Frau Neuber both in good and evil days, and did not
forsake her even when everything went against her.
Of the details of his life very little is known; but it is
certain that he died before her.
The whole company probably consisted of a score
of members, and they led a very patriarchal life under
the leadership of the masterful but lively and amiable
Carolina Neuber. The young unmarried actresses lived
in her house, and the unmarried actors boarded with
her. She talked to them about the new art and the
new plays, and thus gained their warm adherence to
her principles. At the same time she turned them to
practical use, as the young women had to work at their
dresses, the men to write play-bills and paint scenery,
like Koch. Rehearsals and performances were attended
to with a seriousness hitherto unknown. And as to the
virtue and morals of her female charges, the experienced
mistress kept her eyes open and did not allow any
escapades that might lower the company in the esteem
of good society. For the same reason she kept watch
also on the tendency of the young men to frequent
public-houses, though it was not in her power to prevent
such visits altogether. Those among the actors who
were good hands at cards and billiards used to improve


their miserable salaries by such little accomplishments as
could only be turned to account in public places.


Struggle for the New Ideas-The Neuber Company in Hamburg-The
Movement Culminates in the Banishment of Harlequin from the
Stage-The Rupture between Carolina Neuber and Gottsched-
The Fall of Both.

AND now the little band, eager and courageous, started
on its tour through Germany to carry out all the innova-
tions which were to raise the level of the German stage
and German dramatic art, while the "most learned and
most noble" Professor Gottsched remained quietly in
Leipzig and received information about the progress of
his undertaking.
Matters, however, did not proceed quite in accord-
ance with his ideas. For one thing, it proved impractic-
able to leave out altogether the merry after-plays with
Hanswurst or Harlequin, which the public insisted on
seeing; for another, the number of regular tragedies in
hand was not sufficient, and Neuber always complained
that the promised translations were not forthcoming.
However, a glance at the repertoire which gradually
became the stock of the company shows an immense
difference between these productions and the appalling
dramatic rubbish heaps of .the preceding period.
Comedy, in particular, is well represented, almost
entirely by French pieces; but it was just this that
was the order of the day. Moliere, indeed, was not in
In Reden-Esbeck's book, p. xo7 ff., will be found a list of plays from a
season in Hamburg in 1735.


Sfavour with Gottsched, who found him too coarse, not
Quite exempt from Hanswurst jokes, but Destouches was
entirely to his taste, and this fashionable author was
very prominent in the Neuber repertoire, besides
Marivaux and Regnard. However, several of Moliere's
plays were contained in the list, among them L'Avare,
which became one of Koch's best parts, Le Malade
imaginaire, and Tartufe, besides Les Precieuses ridicules,
which must have been a thorn in the flesh to Gottsched,
especially as it was acted by the Neuber company under
the title Harlequin as Marquis Mascarilias or The
Laughable Maidens. On the other hand, he had reason
to be pleased with several of the tragedies, such as
Racine's Iphigdnie, Alexander (in German: Der Streit
des Vorzugs in der Grossmutter zwischen Alexander dem
Grossen und Porus) and Berdnice, Corneille's Cid and
Cinna, Pradon's Rdgulus, Voltaire's Brutus, and, last but
not least, The Dying Cato,1 a fearful original tragedy by
the reformer himself, with Kohlhardt shining in the title
Yet, besides these regular and in part excellent
pieces we find several with very suspicious titles, such
as Harlequin as Living Clock and Sham Mummy, The
Merry Jewellers' Apprentices or The Feigned Count
October and Baron November; and even quite un-
disguised Hauptaktions, such as the ill-famed Asiatic

1 Its originality, certainly, was not great, as Gottsched's malicious Swiss
enemies soon discovered that Addison's Cato, which nobody knew at the
time, strikingly resembled the Cato of Gottsched, and that with the help of
scissors and paste the former had been amalgamated with parts of Caton
d Utique by Deschamps, so as to form the original" which was to introduce
the new era.


Banise and The Enchanting Princess or The Living
Skeleton, in the latter of which, according to the play-
bill, "the knights would be adorned with full armour
from top to toe, as well as with helmet, shield and
Frau Neuber, it is true, purified the harlequinades of
their coarsest jokes in an attempt to cultivate and refine
the old merry-maker, but in doing so she only deprived
him of all pith and substance, and he became what he
had never been before-dull. And, no doubt, it was
this spirit of compromise and half measures-which
otherwise was not in her nature, but was probably due
to her more prudent husband and to the influence of
members of her company, especially of the over-sagacious
Koch-that laid the seeds of her subsequent misfortunes,
for it brought her into conflict both with the general
public and with the critic, Gottsched.
The young reforming company considered Leipzig
as its headquarters, but between the great fairs other
towns had to be visited, and among the best of these
was the large and wealthy city of Hamburg.
Though the large population of Hamburg was chiefly
engrossed in mercantile and other practical interests,
at the beginning of the eighteenth century this old
Hanseatic town was the seat of a powerful intellectual
life. It was rich and had suffered less than any other
Germarn town from the devastations of the Thirty Years
War. The constant intercourse with other countries,
chiefly England, gave it an international importance.
Literary societies and periodicals in the style of the
famous English Spectator were flourishing; people took

lively interest in theatrical and musical affairs; the opera
had a long and glorious career in Hamburg, and it pro-
duced dramatic authors, some of whom stood under the
command of Gottsched, such as Fr. G. Behrmann, who
wrote the "classical" tragedies Timoleon and The
Horatii for the Neuber company, and Peter Sttiven, a
very industrious German adapter of French tragedies.
Others were more independent; Heinrich Borkenstein,
for instance, whose local comedy, Der Bookesbeutel,
became one of the most popular successes of the
It was only natural that this lively town full of
foreigners, English, Dutch, French and Danish, with a
more international stamp than any other in the whole
country, should tempt every acting company, and very
soon after its foundation the Neuber company found its
way there and kept returning.
To begin with, matters went pretty well. The time
was favourable. The opera, which had passed through
an uncommonly brilliant period, was just declining in
favour, and the Hamburg public always liked novelties.
So in one of his bulletins to Gottsched Neuber could
write the following hopeful lines: "The operas here are
very bad and their proceeds are low, but we have as
many spectators as circumstances allow and as many
patrons as there are here."
However, the patrons of the "classical" plays were,
unfortunately, not sufficient in number to uphold the
company, though they did their best the wealthy
patrician Behrmann, in particular, repeatedly assisted
the Neubers with direct subventions-and the general


public did not see the obligation for the sake of art
to go and listen through five acts to the declamation
of verses so involved that they were scarcely intelli-
gible. It was, moreover, the favourite habit of
Frau Neuber to invoke the reverence of the audience
for the new art in many small versified prologues or
introductions of her own. But the practical Ham-
burghers did not want to be admonished, they wanted
to be amused for their money; and at last, after
many visits with ever-decreasing receipts, the hot-
tempered lady's blood was up, and in 1735, after a
season, during which she had actually suffered priva-
tion and run into debt, she concluded her perform-
ances in a way which created the greatest sensation
far and wide, and became very detrimental to her
In our days, when the public is quite accustomed
to being the scape-goat, when it is almost essential
to good literary breeding that every poet and every
critic should load the public with abuse, Carolina
Neuber's sarcasm appears very tame, and we can
scarcely understand the offence it created. But in
those days, when no author or actor approached his
public without bowing low and humbly to "the
courteous reader" or the "highly honoured" assembly,
people were taken aback and insulted when a mere
manageress of a theatrical company not only forgot all
humility, but even ventured to take free citizens to task.
Carolina Neuber's offence was that before the fare-
1 The play-bill was signed Johann Neuber, but everybody seemed to take
it for granted that his proud and hot-tempered wife was at the bottom of it.


well performance in Hamburg she issued the following
playbill: In honour of and in deep gratitude to those
who have seen us frequently and with pleasure, of
those who have not been able to see us, who have
not ventured to see us or not been willing to see us,
this day at parting a German introductory play will
be performed, as well as a comedy, by the Royal Polish
Electoral Saxon and also High-Princely Brunswick-
Luneburg-Wolfenbuttel Court Comedians.' The intro-
ductory play is entitled Conditions of Dramatic Art
during all four Seasons. The scenery has been made
expressly for this play. The title of the comedy is
Britannicus, and is a translation of the same play by
M. Racine. The conclusion is a farce. Last per-
formance on Monday, Dec. 5th, 1735."

This foolhardiness in upbraiding the very high and
honoured public proved fatal to the Neubers. The
play-bills had no sooner been circulated through the
town, than the chief burgomaster prohibited the per-
formance, and the indignant actress had to leave
Hamburg without telling its inhabitants the truths
that were burning on the tip of her tongue.
Besides this the company had annoyances of an even
more serious nature. For a time they were deprived
Sof their headquarters, Leipzig, and Frau Neuber even
had the humiliation of knowing that it was a harlequin
player, Joseph Ferdinand Muller, son-in-law of old
Elinson, who after a long struggle gained possession
SIn 1733 the Neubers had acquired the Brunswick-Liineberg patent.


of the Saxon patent, and even of the theatre-the
Butchers' guild-hall-where the young company, with
its enthusiasm for the new ideas, had won its first
In compensation for the ingratitude of Saxony Duke
Charles Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein showed great
interest in the new art; he gave the "Neuber stage "
the title of Schleswig-Holstein,' and offered it an
annual subvention of a thousand Thalers to play at the
" Kieler Umschlag," the great fair at Kiel, which was
the Duke's residence: His enthusiasm for the drama
was so great that he would sometimes even act in it/
This, of course, was a comfort. However, the name
of Leipzig, the town of learning and gallantry, was
written in Carolina Neuber's heart, and her only
desire was to return thither. In her characteristic
style, which in the original knows neither of commas
nor of capitals, she writes as follows to her High-
bred, highly learned, most honoured Lord and Patron,
Gottsched" : I am pining to death. It is just like a
kind of magic which dominates me, that I must con-
tinually think of Leipzig, or else I must be in love
with it. In spite of all the bad hours and of my loss, I
think with more pleasure of the good hours, and par-
ticularly of those which I spent in Your Worship's
1 The patent is reprinted in Reden-Esbeck, p. 191 f., and clearly shows
that it was the new efforts to raise dramatic art and the rtfertoire which
gained the Duke's favour for the troupe.
2 This, at any rate, is asserted by Schmidt in his Chronologie (p. 5o), and
after him by many others. Of course it could not be in the public theatre,
but at the Court-performances. The Kieler Umschlag" was held from
6th January to the beginning of Lent.


sagacious company and in that of my other worthy
friends." 1
And she actually succeeded in coming back, as,
after several efforts, Neuber was allowed to build a
comedy booth" in front of the Grimmai Gate near
Rose's Garden. The reform was now to be firmly
established in a conspicuous way. It was no secret
to Gottsched that on the long journeys through Ger-
many the repertoire had not always been kept quite
pure, and that Harlequin or Hanswurst had carried
on his game freely enough, in company with the regular
tragedians. The important thing now was to reveal at
one blow the difference between the old and the new,
and the plan was formally to banish from the stage
Harlequin or Hanswurst, who was considered as the
representative of the old style. Carolina Neuber herself
wrote one of her admonishing fore-pieces, and with great
solemnity the old jester and his variegated costume were
exiled from the German stage.2
Gottsched's heart was won, and the theatrical
beheading of Harlequin-which Lessing afterwards
described as a genuine harlequinade in itself-roused
quite an astonishing sensation in the literary world, as-
tonishing because the very act was a childish trick in
itself-on Gottsched's part a stroke in the air, on the
Neubers' a blow against their rival Miller, who lived on
1 Letter from Carolina Neuber to Gottsched, of 15th February r735
(Brunswick); reproduced by Reden-Esbeck, p. 170 ff.
2 It is a myth that on this occasion a doll representing Harlequin was
burnt and Hanswurst abolished by a regular auto-da-ft, though the story is
repeated in nearly all histories of the theatre from the Chronologie to Reden-


Now, if by this stroke the jester had actually been
abolished, if not from the German stage, at least from
the Neuber performances-and if not from the farces, at
any rate from the principal plays-the affair would have
been something of a feat; the banishment of Harlequin
would to some extent have signified the turning-point,
which many German historians of the theatre have
represented it to be. But not a year later the Neuber
play-bill again announced one of the good old Haupt-
aktions with Hanswurst and his whole train, The
profligate Life and terrible End of the Arch-Magician of
world-wide fame, Dr Johann Faust, in which, among
other things, Charon was seen sailing in his boat, and
Pluto approaching him on a fire-spitting dragon followed
by his entire subterranean court and spirits." And in
spite of his banishment, the audience sees Hanswurst
who chances to witness the enchantment of Dr Faustus.
He must stop and is unable to stir from the spot until
he has taken off his shoes. The shoes dance with each
other in a very amusing way."'
It would probably be a mistake to say that the
ludicrous scene of banishment was nothing but a sham
on the part of the Neubers, got up only to throw dust
into the eyes of the mighty patron. No doubt, they
I The play-bill, which is dated Hamburg, July 1738, is reprinted in two
places in v. Reden-Esbeck's book. It is strange, therefore, that this author,
whose work on Carolina Neuber is otherwise entirely a mosaic of plagiarisms,
should also, with regard to the banishment of Harlequin, copy word for word
the statement of Devrient that it is untrue to say that soon afterwards she
again took refuge in Harlequin in Hamburg. Comp. Reden-Esbeck, p. 211,
and Devrient, ii. 36 f Other authors as well deny that she reintroduced
Harlequin directly. It is true that the above-quoted play shows us a
Hanswurst, but this figure was considered only as a lower kind of

were perfectly honest, and nothing but the utmost need
could induce them to resort to the old kanswurstiades in
order to stop the ebb in the treasury.
Nevertheless, these apostacies from obligations
solemnly incurred did not look well, and the great
Leipzig critic had some reason to feel disappointed.
There were other circumstances besides, which increased
the resentment and disturbed the alliance that had
hitherto been so cordial.
In Hamburg, which, in spite of the strained relations
between the public and the hot-tempered Frau Neuber,
continued to be the best resort of the company between
the Leipzig fairs. Alzire by Voltaire had been per-
formed in a translation by Peter Stuven, a merchant's
son, who had already adapted several French tragedies 1
for the Neuber company. Now, when in the same year,
1739, the troupe came to the Leipzig fair, Gottsched
suddenly was unreasonable enough to request the
Neubers to give up Stuven's translation and study a
new one produced by his "clever friend," viz. his wife,
Louise Adelgunde Victorine, late Kulmus. It then
appeared that this adaptation by the prolific Adelgunde
was very bad, and the actors, especially Koch and
Suppig, who had had some difficulty in learning the
verses of Stuven, refused to undertake the new and per-
fectly unnecessary labour. The consequence was that
the Neubers refused Gottsched's request, and Alzzre was
performed in the Hamburg translation.
This was wounding Gottsched in his tenderest spot.
Voltaire's Brutus, Racine's Britannicus and Phcedra, Corneille's Earl
of Essex.


Vain and ambitious men are, as a rule, most sensitive
where their wives are concerned, and at a period when
translations ranked almost with originals, this slight on
the part of the Neubers meant nothing less than a
rupture. Though hostilities did not break out openly at
once, we may take it for granted that from this day for-
ward Gottsched no longer considered Carolina Neuber
as a willing instrument for carrying out his principles,
and that, consequently, he had lost all interest in her.
The alliance was broken, and whether it was mere
chance or a sign of the great power of Gottsched, from
this moment matters went down-hill with Frau Neuber,
uninterruptedly and at full speed.
First, she again roamed about for a while and
returned to Hamburg, where all went wrong with her a
second time, and where, to her great grief, she was the
loser in a competition with "the strong man," Ecken-
berg. Then-no doubt through her patron, Duke
Charles Frederick-she received an offer to go to St
Petersburg with her company. In her overweening
pride, at her parting performance in Hamburg, she rated
the audience so roundly that henceforth the free-town
was for ever closed to her.
She went to Russia, but only with the remnants of
the dissolved company. First and foremost, among
those who remained behind were Schonemann and his
beautiful wife, and this practical comedian at once under-
stood how to profit by events. He ingratiated himself
with Gottsched, to whom he introduced himself as
Carolina Neuber's successor and as the man who desired
to propagate his ideas in the world.

Sch6nemann was nothing but a man of business, with
no deeper interest in art, and he was an utterly worthless
actor in the serious drama favoured by Gottsched. But
he had a keen sense of the taste of his time and great
astuteness in finding actors of prominent talent for his
company. The interest Gottsched took in him rapidly
brought him forward. Meanwhile poor Frau Neuber
had to leave Russia after a year. Her visit there had
brought her nothing but failure. At first she had had
a hard competition with the Italian Opera, which was
patronised by the Court-Marshal of the Russian Court.
Then, when she had partially succeeded in gaining a
position, the Empress Anna died suddenly, and the
Neuber company lost the support of her favourite Biron,
who was overthrown and exiled to Siberia. Amid these
political disturbances the foreign company could do
nothing, and the Neubers had to leave Russia without
even receiving the full amount of the salary due to them.
On their return home-in 174--they at once went
to the Easter-fair in Leipzig, but the Schonemanns had
supplanted them in Gottsched's favour, and the almighty
critic worked against his former friends both by word
and pen.
Then Carolina Neuber did what many greater minds
had done before her: she turned her weapons against
her enemy from the stage, and a battle was fought-one
of these battles which are always particularly bitter and
unpleasant, when former friends stand opposed to each
other, but which in this case was more ludicrous than
anything else.
In his critical pamphlets Gottsched constantly de-


preciated the Neuber performances, though, indeed,
their repertoire was remarkably pure,1 and it was his old
grievance, the costumes, that he especially attacked.
In this .point he demanded a strict imitation of the
antique, besides recommending accentuations and atti-
tudes which would make the classical subjects appear in
the correct style. Thus one of Gottsched's journalists
wrote: "What would the spirit of Cato think at the
sight of the strange three-cornered hats with their high
plumes ? the detestable powdered wigs, the over-orna-
mented folds of the garments, the shiny gloves, the stiff,
wide skirt, the white stockings and artificial shoes, and last,
but not least, the Parisian dagger never seen in Rome ?
Would he not accuse our time of great ignorance of the
Roman antiquity? Would he not consider it most
absurd to represent the Roman hero thus, as indeed [in
this guise] the actor does not resemble him at all. None
better than he would be able to convince the obstinate
admirers and advocates of this kind of mixed pseudo-
classical performance, that a gold-bordered hat, a pig-
tail, cuffs and shiny gloves, white silk stockings and a
fashionable Parisian dagger, may be suitable enough for
a German dandy, but not for Cato, the Roman."
1 In the monthly periodical: Belustigungen des Verstandes und des
Witzes of the year 1741, we find practically the daily repertoire of the
Neuber company during this period, and it consists, with few exceptions,
of the French classics recommended by Gottsched, though sometimes in
the translations by Stiiven which he disliked, sometimes also in his own
or in those of his able friend."
2 Christopher Mylius, a cousin of Lessing's. As a poor young student
of natural history and as a journalist, he put himself in Gottsched's pay,
though afterwards he became his bitter adversary. The attack dates from
1742, as will be seen, after the struggle above mentioned had come to a
close. Evidently Gottsched did not mean to give up his cause.

As we said before, this demand for a costume correct
in style, at the time of which we are speaking, appeared
pedantic and ludicrous to everybody, and another fifty
years had to pass before the demand was satisfied,1 and
even then the satisfaction was only partial.
Carolina Neuber, therefore, might indeed be sure of
general approval when, irritated at the constant censure
and depreciation of her performances, she conceived the
idea that the best way of showing the absurdity of the
"literary pope's" assertions would be to test them on
the stage. So one day, instead of the usual farce, the
Neuber play-bill announced the third act of Gottsched's
Dying Cato, in which costumes, attitudes and diction
were presented according to the author's own critical
demands; the correctness was even carried so far as to
simulate the naked skin of the feet by covering them
with flesh-coloured linen, and to abolish the high red
heels, all of which was pronounced by contemporary
writers a ridiculous exaggeration. The consequence
was that the whole performance struck the audience as
a wild farce, and when Neuber, who himself acted the
part of Pharnaces, laid particular stress on the final
speech: This, then, was the attempt! he was greeted
by a storm of applause, which proved that the audience
understood the joke, but which was particularly offensive
to Gottsched.
Naturally this ingenious, but not very tasteful,
revenge did not calm the feelings of Gottsched towards
the Neuber company, and henceforth his criticism of
their performances became more personally rancorous
I By the French actor Talma.


than ever; human enough, indeed, but not excusable in
a critic who has placed himself on so sublime a height
as he had. However, the revenge of an actor or an
actress who hits the mark is always worse than that of
the most caustic critic, and Carolina Neuber was not a
person to spare those who had roused her indignation.
In the heat of the battle she composed one of her
many allegorical fore-plays, which was entitled, The
Most Precious Treasure. The piece itself is lost, but in
the list of characters represented, which reads as if it be-
longed to an old Morality, we see that the scene was laid
in rather sublime spheres. This was part of the cast:
Reason, as Apollo in a laurel wreath, holds
instead of the lyre, the image of wisdom," represented
by Suppig; "Art, as a female pilgrim, carries instead
of a staff a measure and compass," played by Carolina
Neuber; and finally there was-probably the principal
character-" The Censor, as night, in a garment covered
with stars, with bat's wings, bearing a dark-lantern and
a sun of brass-foil on his head."
Everybody knew, before the play was performed,
that the censor with the bat's wings, who was to be
personated by the young comic actor Fabricius, was
none other than Gottsched, and that Carolina Neuber
was now going to deal him the decisive blow.
Gottsched knew this himself and did all in his power
to prevent this performance. However, at the Court,
which was now in Leipzig, he had a powerful enemy in
Count Briihl, who, far from intending to forbid the play,
went in person to one of its performances to enjoy the
revenge of the actress on the arrogant professor.


The gist of this revenge, in other words, the subject
of Carolina Neuber's play, we do not know; its satire,
however, must have been very sharp, since after its
first performance Gottsched repeated his protest. His
remonstrances, however, were useless.
After all, these scandalous quarrels, though detri-
mental to Gottsched, did not help Frau Neuber. The
new theatrical movement, that had begun in such warm
friendship and with the highest aspirations, had already
exhausted itself. The well-meaning attempt of Gott-
sched to raise the German theatre had no national
foundation, and his personal vanity and partiality had
procured him many adversaries, who took cruel advan-
tage of the breach which the bold actress had made
in his fame.' Crowds of enemies rushed forward, and
though Gottsched never formally surrendered, his abso-
lute power, which had lasted for about fourteen years
-from 1727 to 1741-was broken. Not long after his
wittier and much more dexterous enemies represented
him to public opinion with considerable injustice as
nothing but a ludicrous, conceited pedant, without the
slightest importance.

That it was Carolina Neuber's attack which had made Gottsched's
other enemies taste blood, and that it created a very considerable sensa-
tion, is clear from the satiric epic, The Fore-play, which was issued in 1743
by Rost, the secretary of Count Briihl-who had also written The Hidden
Skeet, a very popular pastoral play-against Gottsched, and was afterwards
reprinted by Gottsched's bitter antagonists, the two Swiss writers Bodmer
and Breitinger, together with the parodies-Cato Castrated and Ipfigenia
Violated. This book begins with a dedication to Carolina Neuber, in which
we read among other things: "We consider the time when she broke with
the Professor as distinctly marking the period when the wretched sublime
style of the Gottschedian school was banished from the stage, and when, on
the other hand, the natural and accurate style was introduced."


If Carolina Neuber tired of the struggle, it was
chiefly on account of economic difficulties. She had
always had to fight with financial troubles, but now
she was struck by one misfortune after another. Kohl-
hardt, who acted the leading parts both in tragedy
and comedy, died rather suddenly; she had annoyance
from the Leipzig Consistory, and an attempt to try her
luck in Frankfurt-on-Main proved a complete failure.
Depressed and tired of all these mishaps, the Neubers
made up their minds to dissolve their company, and
Johann Neuber hoped to obtain a civil post which
would enable them to leave the stage for ever. When
this hope also failed, Carolina Neuber began afresh with
her old energy, and it must be said in favour of her
earlier leadership that the chief pillars of her old com-
pany at once responded to her summons. Among the
number was Koch, as leading character actor; the ever
faithful Suppig; the stately, well educated actor, Hey-
drich; the two charming actresses, young Fraulein Lorenz
(afterwards Frau Huber), and Katharina Magdalene
Kleefelder (afterwards Frau Brtckner); besides the
married couples Lorenz and Antusch, the comic actors
Bruck and Schuberth, and others.
Not a bad company, on the whole; but perhaps the
manageress lacked her old buoyancy; anyhow success
deserted her. No doubt, also, Gottsched continued to
pursue her with his hatred. We find his correspon-
dents in different towns sending him with evident relish
bulletins concerning the decadence of Carolina Neuber.
Thus the well-known author, Grimm,' the originator of
1 Grimm, who won his fame as a French writer in Paris, was an under-
graduate from Leipzig, and a proteg6 of Gottsched's.

light society journalism, writes from Frankfurt-on-Main
on Iith October 1745: "Frau Neuber always carries
on her business very cunningly. She has been staying
here now for quite three weeks with her whole company,
and has not yet played a single piece. I have just
heard that she is going to open her theatre to-day with
Britannicus, and in six days the Court and all the
ambassadors are gone; thus there is money to be made.
She has built a play-booth, which she was unable to
finish before, though her husband came some weeks
previously to make arrangements. I fear it will be a
great loss to her."
Matters went wrong everywhere, and if it had not
been for a little episode which brought the company
into contact with something higher, this period would
only have been remarkable as showing the certain and
steady decadence of this woman, who had once been
animated by the highest aspirations.
At that time there lived in Leipzig a small clique
of literary Bohemians, poor young fellows who studied
science, literature, and art, among others Mylius and his
cousin Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Ossenfelder, and
Naumann, all of them gay journalists and light-living
lyric poets, who had to struggle for their bread. Besides
these there was a respectable young man, Christian
Felix Weisse, who took a great interest in art. Though
what these young men saw of the Neuber company was
only a vanishing glimpse of its former glory, its stage
was an admirable resort, which helped them to foster
their dreams of the future and kindled their enthusiasm
of the moment. They admired the fine tragic art of


Fraulein Kleefelder, the gay music and songs of Frau-
lein Lorenz, as well as the beauty of her feet when
she danced; they looked with respect at the stout and
mature manageress herself, and at the "great Koch,"
whom they admired enthusiastically, both in tragedy as
Essex and The Cid, and in comedy as the Miser. They
greatly appreciated Heydrich's fine bearing, Suppig's
dandified manners, and Bruck's gay comic art.
They wrote and translated pieces for the Neuber
company, and in return obtained free admission to both
the stage and the auditorium ; they had familiar inter-
course with the actors and actresses, which led to
animated exchange of ideas with these lively people.
This was of importance to both parties, and several of
the undergraduates who were studying at the Leipzig
University in those days became fertile dramatic authors.
But to none of them did this intercourse become more
significant than to young Lessing, who horrified his
parents by the eagerness with which he cultivated his
friendship with the wicked theatrical people. During
these few years 1 Lessing gathered from the Neuber
troupe a store of observations, of practical theatrical
knowledge, of the exigencies of the stage, and of the
essence of dramatic art, which afterwards in his double
career as dramatic critic and as playwright became of
incalculable value to him. He devoted himself entirely
to the theatre, which certainly did not further his theo-
logical studies, but was so much the more beneficial to

I At the age of seventeen, in 1746, Lessing went to study at the Leipzig
University, and his connection with the company lasted till 1748. Very
likely his infatuation for Fraulein Lorenz was not of a purely artistic nature.

posterity. With his friend Chr. Fr. Weisse he translated
a number of French and English pieces: Regnard's
Le /oueur, L'Etourdi, Thomson's Sophonisba. Voltaire's
Mariane, etc., and out of his own desk he took a comedy,
written during his schooldays in Meissen, which, by the
advice of his mathematical master, Kastner, the witty
epigrammatist, he offered to Frau Neuber, who at once
had it performed. Its title was The Young Scholar, and
it was a satire on the conceit and pedantry of the young
Saxon undergraduates.
The play proved a success, and moreover brought
out the acting powers of George Friedrich Wolffram,
who hitherto had been very unsuccessful, but who in
the title-part of The Young Scholar had been fortunate
enough to hit off the typical Leipzig stamp, which as
a living picture of real life was bound to strike an
audience that had never been accustomed to such
life-like representations.
So Frau Neuber had the honour of introducing
Lessing on the German stage. But this indeed was the
last sunbeam of vanishing fortune which for a moment
brightened up her theatrical career. Her perseverance,
energy, and the proud defiance with which she had faced
constant adversity, had changed into unconcerned in-
difference, which considered that sufficient for the day
was the art thereof, and never thought of laying plans
for the future. She lost the power of properly super-
intending her business, and no longer knew which way
to choose, a state of things that is always fatal to a
theatrical manager.
The company must have felt this, for members who

5-Carolina Neuber in her mature age (p. 69).
6-The Monument over Carolina Neuber (p. 71).


had hitherto been faithful and zealous now began to fall
off. In the year when Lessing made his dibut with The
Young Scholar, both his best friends in the company,
Koch and Heydrich, left Frau Neuber and went to
A general dissolution set in. It is painful to follow
the leader through her last few years of desperate
struggle to keep above water by supplications, com-
plaints, petitions, begging letters in prose or in verse
of her own composition, always in excited and dis-
connected terms-missives which she sent to magistrates,
ministers, even to the king himself. Sch6nemann,
her old actor, takes away her theatre, her landlord
refuses to keep either herself or the other actors in
his house, partly because they do not pay, partly
because they are always smoking when they are
not acting. The officers of justice put seals on her
furniture; she and her staff must remain, for their
creditors will not release them till they have paid. The
death-blow came from Koch, her friend and pupil, who
owed his professional training to her, and who had
stayed with her throughout his career. He returned to
Vienna, collected a troupe and acquired the Saxon
patent by alleging that Carolina Neuber was no longer
capable of managing a respectable company. That
Koch and Sch6nemann, the two serpents whom she had
nourished in her bosom, quarrelled with each other,
was no consolation to her. In one of her many com-
plaints she writes: "So everything is planned with a
view to my complete ruin, and as I have spent on the
theatre all my fortune, as well as the money I have

made in foreign countries and brought home with me,
they want to drive me away, and as a reward for all
my bitter toil with the comedians, to make me a beggar,
and, as begging is forbidden, to see me starve to death."
As time after time she was rebuffed by the authorities-
probably not from hardness of heart, but because they
knew that in this case help would be useless-she had to
lay down her arms and resign her post as manageress.
Then she made an attempt to exploit herself as an
actress, and in 1753 even obtained an engagement in
Vienna. But time had outrun her. She was far on in
the fifties; people thought her affected, her declamation
stiff, and her costumes ludicrous. On 27th June 1753,
one of Gottsched's reporters, von Scheyb, could send
the following account of one fallen star to the other:
"Frau Neuber has been called hither from Frankfurt,
and her appearance on the stage, it is true, was that of a
sensible actress, but her voice was so weak that she
could scarcely be understood. At times she screamed
and raged so violently that her voice failed. Nor
does she comply with Viennese taste in her costumes.
As nescio qualis queen she was decked out as a
Neapolitan princess. Her head looked like the collar
of a sleigh-horse."
The same year Frau Neuber had to leave Vienna.
She and her husband scraped together a wretched little
company, and made a fresh attempt to gain their living
by roaming about in small towns for a few years.
However, the outbreak of the Seven Years War in
1756 crushed every hope of being able to continue even
this miserable existence. They were now absolutely


destitute, old and worn out, and Frau Neuber's prophecy
of being starved to death might, indeed, have come true,
if old friends and admirers had not rallied to the assist-
ance of the poor couple by giving them bread and
shelter until death carried them to their last haven.
Frau Neuber survived her husband about a year; in
spite of degrading poverty she kept up to the last her
innate proud dignity, sent well-written letters in rhyme
to her friends, and inspired the humble people among
whom she lived with respect by the unshaken calmness
with which she bore the misfortunes of her old age.
She died in 1760 in a small farmhouse in the little
village of Laubegast, near Dresden, where in 1776 a
monument was raised to her-on the high-road, as its erec-
tion in the churchyard was forbidden-" by some persons
who knew her merits, and were admirers of her art."
A few years later her good friend and bitter enemy
Gottsched died also. He, too, had been defeated in the
battle, mocked and ridiculed by the younger school of
Time mercilessly cast away its instruments as soon
as it had done with them. They erred in not adapting
themselves to the new demands of public taste. But
they deserved a brighter fate. At any rate it ought
not to be forgotten that if, at their death, the German
theatre had gained a position, if it had formed its place
in the world of intellectual life, if clever men felt drawn
to write for it and play in it, the pioneer work, which
was the indispensable foundation of its reaching so far,
was due to those two persevering, obstinate, one-sided
people, Gottsched and Carolina Neuber.


The First Steps of Sophia Schr6der and Konrad Ekhof in their Artistic
Career-The Sch6nemann Company-The Difference between
Ekhofs Reform and that of the Neuber's-Ekhof as a Naturalist-
His Ideas on Dramatic Art and His Academy.

ABOUT the year 1738 two young persons whom fate had
turned out of their course, and who were brought to-
gether by their common admiration for dramatic art,
were staying at Schwerin.
She was a charming young woman of twenty-four,
married to an organist named Schr6der, in Berlin, a
clever and amiable man, but an incurable drunkard.
After four years of matrimonial life, which the sad failing
of the husband had rendered intolerable, the young wife,
whose maiden name was Sophia Charlotta Biereichel,
left husband and home and tried to fight her own way.
Her father was a gold-drawer, and she herself had been
taught gold-embroidery, which in those times was much
used on costumes. So she hoped to be able to gain her
own living by this work, and went to Schwerin to avoid
the pursuit of her husband.
He was a young clerk of eighteen, born in Hamburg.
Konrad Ekhof was his name, and his father was one of
the city-guards. Originally he had served as a clerk in
a post-office of his native town, and on account of his
trustworthiness and his beautiful handwriting had been
appointed to a position which was rather above his age.
But when the postmaster requested that on Sundays he


should act as footman to his wife, Ekhof took offence,
and went to Schwerin, where he was engaged by a
barrister, who was also something of a bel-esprit and
possessed a good library, the dramatic portion of which
was eagerly devoured by the young clerk.
How the two shipwrecked young people found each
other, what were their mutual relations, and how they
came to consider the theatre as their proper haven, we
do not know. It seems, however, to have been Konrad
Ekhof who most desired to break with the miserable life
they were leading, and to try their luck with the tempt-
ing, unknown art, whereas Sophia Schr6der, the child of
a respectable artisan, had great scruples about starting
on the uncertain, despised theatrical career. But when
she found that gold embroidery procured her so poor a
living that she had to leave Schwerin and try her good
fortune in Hamburg, Ekhof very likely had not much
difficulty in persuading her, when one day he brought
her the news that the actor Sch6nemann, who had been
with Frau Neuber, was now going to start a company of
his own, and was looking out for actors with whom he
might begin his work at Luneburg. They went to
Sch6nemann, and were at once accepted. No wonder
that anyone starting a company for the first time should
be glad to acquire such a member as Sophia Schr6der;
she was handsome, had a fine figure and bearing, and
plastic movements. She was very intelligent and her
education had been excellent. Her character-like that
of her afterwards famous son--was passionate and
enthusiastic, with a genuine artistic sense, and at the
same time she was very business-like, practical, and

economical. In her youth, probably, the former qualities
were predominant, but in later times it cannot be denied
that her practical sense decidedly took the upper hand,
converting the fresh, lively actress into a somewhat petty,
almost parsimonious, housewife.
The engagement of Konrad Ekhof could not be
considered as equally assured beforehand, but his fanatic
love of dramatic art pushed him on. His outward ap-
pearance was not alluring. He was low of stature,
rather ugly, bony and high-shouldered, and careless in
his bearing; but his face was expressive, and his small
eyes very intelligent. At the first glance you would
scarcely have expected that this queer little fellow was
destined to develop German dramatic art by so mighty
a step that he may justly be called its true father.
Director Schonemann probably judged him more
leniently on hearing him, for he had a fine, sonorous
voice, though at that time it may not have reached the
perfect development which it acquired afterwards, and
which was thus described by Iffland: In thundering
power, in delicacy and beauty, it never found its equal
on the German stage."
The salary offered to the two young people by
Scho~emann was not large, but Frau Schroder received
almost double as much as Ekhof, namely 7 Marks 75
Pfennigs (about 8s.) a week, while he had to be content
with 4 Marks 60 Pfennigs (5s.).
The new Schonemann company, however, consisted
almost exclusively of young beginners, and none of them
received a higher salary than Frau Schroder. One of
them was Uhlig, an undergraduate of twenty, typical of


those industrious, moderately-gifted young men, who, ,
without possessing genuine dramatic talent, nevertheless
make themselves useful by occasionally writing a play or
a prologue, and bearing themselves decently through
various parts. Another was Heydrich, who had greater
talent, and who afterwards joined Frau Neuber, besides
several other young people who were well-bred, had an
academic education, and chose the theatrical career not
merely because they could not get on elsewhere, but
from real inclination and interest. Actors of this kind
impressed on Sch6nemann's troupe a stamp of refinement
of a somewhat higher standard than was usually met
with, a character which the Principal appreciated and
wished to maintain.
Of a somewhat different kind was Konrad Ernst
Ackermann, who was destined to become of great im-
portance to the theatre in Germany. Whether he went
on the stage from inclination or necessity, we have no
means of ascertaining. He was not very young-twenty-
eight at his ddbut-and he had already passed through a
multitude of experiences. He was of good family, of fine
and stately presence, knew a little of everything, was
something of a painter, a dancer, a quack, an agricul-
turist, a splendid sportsman, horseman, skater, and
fencer; amiable, attractive and good-natured, though
hot-tempered; but he was an incorrigible vagabond and
adventurer. As a young soldier this characteristic drove
him hither and thither, travelling and fighting; and after-
wards, as the manager of an acting company, sent him
roaming all over Europe, constantly making him lose his
good chances by his restlessness. As an actor he soon

became very serviceable by his various accomplishments
and easy bearing on the stage, and by playing all kinds
of parts he developed himself into a most excellent comic
actor, whose pleasant naturalness never degenerated into
exaggeration and bad taste.
The experienced members of the company included
Frau Spiegelberg Denner, who had been so unfortunate
in the sledge expedition on the Sound,1 and who ever
since had had an ugly, rolling gait. By this time she
was a lady whom fate had knocked about a good deal;
most towns and countries had had opportunities of
admiring her as Eve in the well-known Staatsaktion,
Adam and Eve. She spoke a queer cosmopolitan
jargon, and her acting was very affected, but she reaped
success in the parts of elderly comic women, such as
landladies and procuresses, in which her peculiarities
were advantages. She brought her two daughters with
her, the younger of whom-though not very young,
being thirty-four when joining the company-afterwards
became the wife of Ekhof, who trained her to become a
good soubrette, though she was never quite able to throw
off the old-fashioned Hauptaktion affectation.
Schonemann himself was also a man of experience.
He was thirty-six when he started the company; he had
been acting for many years, and had enjoyed great
popularity in the leading characters and comic valets of
Moliere. But in tragedy he was intolerable, ludicrous,
stiff, and declamatory, an unswerving adherent of the
Neuber-Gottsched principles. He was an able leader
who lacked neither courage nor energy. Though far
I Comp. above, p. 31.


from being such an enthusiastic idealist as Frau Neuber,
he was not without ambition and was eagerly desirous to
bring his company to the front. Unfortunately he was
also anxious to push himself forward in tragic parts, and
persisted in playing them, even when shown distinctly
enough that he did not please in them.
Thus, according to a reliable anecdote, the Duchess
of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was a good judge of
dramatic art, had long been annoyed at seeing Schone-
mann as Essex in the tragedy of that name by Thomas
Corneille, a part which he acted almost throughout the
play with closed eyes and an unspeakably stiff and
grandiloquent declamation, acquired under the leadership
of Frau Neuber. The artistic Duchess, who had noticed
the progress of young Ekhof in the tragic line, one day
expressed her astonishment to Schinemann that this
actor was not more employed in tragedy. "Why, for
instance," she added, do you not try him in Essex?"
" Essex," Schonemann replied, in great astonishment,
"he play Essex, your Highness! Why, I would rather
go through a month on bread and water in your prison
than leave my Essex to Ekhof." Very well," the
Duchess replied, sharply, "then at least you will allow
me never more to see you in that part." Sch6nemann,
nevertheless, went on playing his Essex undisturbed for
many years.
However, where his petty personal vanities were not
concerned, Sch6nemann was a manageable and sensible
man, an opportunist, a man of business rather than an
artist; sincere and honest, with the gift of winning
patrons and attracting poets and actors to his circle.

His wife was handsome and refined, and had a
pleasant voice, but she was not very important, and
her acting was still somewhat stiff and pedantic, though
afterwards it developed into a more natural style.
Such in outline was the company which on i5th
January 1740 gave its first performance in the riding-
school of Lineburg, for the town had no theatre. The
play acted was Racine's Mitkridates, in which Ackermann
had the title-rdle, Frau Schroder Monime, and Ekhof
Xifarez a secondary part.
Nobody would have expected that the bearers of
these three names, which then for the first time 1 ap-
peared before the public, would in future become the
pillars of German dramatic art. The second of the three,
however, at once proved herself to belong to the front
rank. Frau Schroder from the very day of her ddbut
might be looked upon as the leading lady of the Schone-
mann company, and there is no doubt that she felt herself
to be so. Ackermann won less favour, in spite of his fine
appearance-high tragedy never became his line-and,
as to Ekhof, nobody thought about him.
In fact, the signal success of Ekhof, his position in
German dramatic art and his influence on it, are very
The pompous reforms of Gottsched and Frau Neuber,
proclaimed with trumpets and drums, could not be mis-
understood. Its aim and end was daily blazoned forth
and hammered into people's heads; now the stage was

SSome authorities say that Ackermann had once before tried his powers
while forming one of a small, not particularly esteemed, company, whose
leader was Stolle, a brother-in-law of the harlequin-player Denner.


purified, art was raised, Germany had reached the level
of the other nations. Even the two leaders of the move-
ment, the bulky, overbearing professor and the exuberant,
flushed, and gushing actress, necessarily forced them-
selves on the general attention. It was then, and is now,
impossible not to take them into consideration; but the
great clamour that surrounded them made, and still
makes, people forget that in relation to the internal
reform of dramatic art their work, after all, did not
signify much. A number of French works, translated
into German, had been introduced on the stage, and the
mode of acting had been somewhat improved-some-
what, though far from sufficiently. In fact, Frau Neuber
possessed no deep conception of the true nature of
dramatic art, and Gottsched none at all.
The Neuber school was still clinging in a great
measure to the Hauptaktion style. Its declama-
tion was stiff, if not so regularly scanned as before,
when this method was used also in prose.
Though Carolina Neuber did something to connect
the too sharply divided and accented lines in reciting
verse, declamation remained too unnaturally regular in
modulation, without human life and without variation-
a pedantic, affected and elaborate style, monotonous
like the stiff French gardens with their artificially cut
trees and hedges, a sham Versailles elegance, ill suited
to the German soil.
The innovation which Ekhof introduced into the
dramatic art of his country was of a very different kind
indeed. The art of Frau Neuber was external; she
mastered it, so to speak, by outward force: Ekhof's

reform was in the deepest sense an internal one, which
made art grow by a quiet development from within.
Nor did it proclaim itself with noise and clamour as a
new school and an epoch-making revolution. It grew
slowly, just as muscles develop by daily training, and it
was only by comparing it with the old school that one
discovered how strong it had become.
Ekhofs outward life and appearance harmonised well
with the character of his art. In the first place, he was
nothing more than an actor, not a practical theatrical
leader-at all events his work as independent manager is
quite sporadic and insignificant; he spent the first seven-
teen years of his professional career in the same company,
and here it was that he received his first artistic training,
or rather, he did not receive it, for no one in the com-
pany would have been able to teach him what he
wanted-he acquired it by his own efforts. He gradually
discovered that acting did not mean strutting about on
the stage in more or less magnificent attire, pouring out
a torrent of rhymed verse, or-in comedy--exhibiting a
multitude of droll, but senseless fooleries. He dis-
covered that the essence of dramatic art, what justifies it
and makes it interesting, is the representation of human
beings, their feelings, sufferings, and changing moods,
through speech and gesture. And though this conception
was by no means a secret in other countries, it was
indeed perfectly new in Germany where this art of
acting had hitherto been based on an absolutely erroneous
theory, according to which tragedy consisted in being
merely sublime, comedy merely droll, and nature, real
human nature, was absent.


Later in the century Ekhof was called a naturalist,
which meant partly that he formed his characters from
direct observation of reality, copying accent, movement,
and facial play from life, not theoretically from precon-
ceived principles of tragic pathos, comic power, etc.;
partly that he became the great actor he really was,
without theoretical speculation properly so called, in
short, that his art was purely natural.
The first opinion is right but only in part, the second
is entirely wrong.
Though Ekhof was far from being a well-read man,
and though he was simple and plain in his intercourse
with others,' he reflected very much on his art, and was,
indeed, the first theorist on the German stage. When
his ideas were somewhat matured and he had come to
the front as an actor, which, however, took a number
of years, he wanted also to instil his views into his
companions. The Schonemann company had got on
well; its rdeertoire was full of variety and compara-
tively rich, and was no longer dominated exclusively by
French authors; the English mixed drama and Holberg 2
had gained a firm footing in it; besides which native
i F. L. Schr6der tells us (in Meyers Biography of Schroder, p. 143) that
Ekhof, while staying in Hamburg, preferred to spend his free days in a little
wine shop, the landlord of which was named Klapmaier. Here he presided
over a small company of old citizens and militia officers, read the papers
and explained politics to them. The citizens listened reverently, and scarcely
anybody talked but himself.
2 Among English plays the most popular were Lillo's George Barnwell
and Moore's Gamester, besides The Devil to fay, an operette by Coffey.
Holberg (in Detharding's translation) was a great favourite in Germany
during this period, and in some companies, that of Frau Schr6der-Ackermann,
for instance, he for a long time even dominated his rdfertoire. The
Schonemann company acted the Tinker Politician, in which Ekhof played
Henry,Jakob von Thybo, The Masquerade, Jean de France and Don Ranudo.

literature was beginning to work its way by means of the
plays of Borkenstein, Weisse and Elias Schlegel.' In
the later mixed drama there was more opportunity for
studying real life, and this no doubt was a motive power
to Ekhof. After the lapse of from ten to twelve years
he had quietly and by persevering work become the
leading man in the company. Ackermann and Frau
Schr6der had by this time left Schonemann, after being
with him a year, and had formed a company of their
own. Somewhat later they had married and were now
touring in the border countries of Germany, with varying
success, but without as yet obtaining general recognition.
No doubt Ekhof was very superior to his companions,
and as a fanatical advocate of his ideas, with an almost
pedantic respect for the holiness and seriousness of
dramatic art, he wanted to inspire his colleagues with the
same feelings. He conceived the plan of establishing an
Academy for Actors" within the company, which was
to meet every alternate Saturday from two to four
o'clock for the purpose of discussing parts, reading
plays, talking over dramatic art in general, and so forth.
Schonemann was quite indifferent to these theoretical
discussions; his interests inclined more and more to
horses and horse-dealing; he had, however, a great re-
spect for Ekhof, to whom by and by he left the whole
management of stage matters, vain as he was, it pleased

1 The Sch6nemann company itself included several fertile authors, among
them especially Uhlig and Kriiger. The latter wrote a splendid part for
Ekhof in his play Duke Michael, in which Ekhof made use of his excellent
Low-German peasant dialect. Ekhof himself was also an industrious adapter
of foreign plays. He translated Baron's L'Homnne d bonnes fortunes under
the title of Der Mensch auf gut Gliick, oder, Der Liebhaber von Profession.


7-Konrad Ekhof (p. 83).

8-Heinr. Gottfr. Koch (p. 86).
9-Karoline Schulze (p. 1o6).


him much to see his company occupying a distinguished
position in its art, so he willingly assented to the forma-
tion of the new Academy, and to the nomination of him-
self as its chairman. With one exception, Ekhof won
the whole staff over to his plan. And so, with great
ceremonial and very minute laws and precepts, this insti-
tution was started in the season of 1753. (, ',
Ekhof-the schoolmaster, as his companions called
him-was now quite in his element, and had arranged
everything with his usual pedantic minuteness. Though
the company was not very numerous, the Academy had
a number of officers: a president, a vice-president, a
propositus, a vice-propositus, an inspector, two lectors, a
vice-lector, a secretary, and a beadle. Of these fine
titles Ekhof had invested himself with three.
At the second meeting of the Academy Ekhof, as
propositus, made a few introductory remarks, which ran
as follows: "To practise dramatic art or to be a
comedian is not so easy a task as many consider it .to be,
who only look at the matter superficially and content them-
selves with the name of the thing, or who are only actors
by accident, and whose advantages depend exclusively
on chance circumstances. But neither is it the unsur-
mountable height that it is represented by others, who
may perhaps possess some ability, but who, either from
envy or pride, make it appear an impenetrable secret. -
"No, it is an art which indeed seems unlimited,
though it certainly has its limits, just as a desert seems
endless to a wanderer, if he is so imprudent as to set out
on a journey through it without previously inquiring the
right way, so that he is likely to be misled by every side-

path, and will consequently go astray and keep wander-
ing to and fro without being able to reach his goal. But
he who knows his way, after having gone through the
necessary troubles, will reach the end in due time .. "
"So it is indeed most necessary that those who
practise dramatic art and want to be actors, seek the
means which may ease their efforts and by which they
may become more perfect in their art. Dramatic art is
copying nature by art and coming so near up to it that
semblance is taken for reality, or to represent things of
the past as if they were just happening. In order to
obtain some mastery of this art the following things are
required: a vivid imagination, untired application, and
a never idle practice. These are the sure means by
which all stray paths are avoided and all actors can reach
the goal of their aspirations. .. "
Konrad Ekhof had succeeded in finding the right
way through the apparently endless desert of German
dramatic art, and none was better able than he to be a
guide to his more or less straying comrades. Every one
of his somewhat naive words bear witness to the zeal and
care with which he would have undertaken the leader-
ship. But to induce actors to take an interest in general
artistic and professional questions without the prospect
of pecuniary advantage or satisfaction of their vanity, is
a task infinitely more difficult than to develop oneself
into a great actor. For the latter purpose you need only
to be a genius; for the former you need the long-suffer-
ing of a god, and Ekhof only had the patience of a
human being. After a year's torture from the secret
mockery and open, surly resistance of his dull and foolish


colleagues, he had to give up his noble but naive plan of
winning them over to higher aspirations.
This, however, did not slacken his zeal; in his mind
burned a sacred fire which could not be extinguished,
though it may have rendered him more eccentric than
he was before. It was probably during this period that
he wrote the following lines in an album :-
Es sind viel Vogel, die kassen mich,
Ich bin ein Kauz und acht' es nicht.
(There are many birds who hate me; I am a queer
fellow and don't mind it.)
But, in particular, it made him more selfish, more
eager always to act himself, and this tempted him to
undertake many parts for which he was at least unsuited
by age and appearance. This, together with his rather
petulant temper, placed him, humanly speaking, in the
eyes of his associates on a somewhat lower level than he
deserved by his aspirations after the ideal.

Ruin of the Schonemann Company-Koch and Ekhof-Ekhof in the Prime
of his Art-The Ackermann Company-Schroder as a Youth-
Engagement of Ekhof by the Ackermanns and his First Meeting
with Schr6der.

MEANWHILE matters went rapidly downward with
Schonemann. His original spirit of enterprise was
entirely gone, or it had turned to horse-dealing, which
had, become a passion with him, but of which he under-
stood nothing. He strolled about the country with a
good-for-nothing son, swopping-horses, but was perfectly

indifferent to theatrical affairs. Ekhof kept the company
together as well as he could, but the small proceeds were
lost in the risky game of horse-dealing. The staff had
to be diminished, and when, by way of economy,
Sch6nemann even went so far as to dismiss Ekhof's
sister-in-law, Frau Steinbrecher, nde Spiegelberg (his
wife's sister), matters became rather too bad for him,
so he left the company and accepted an engagement
with that of Schuch the harlequin-player.
His loss meant the dissolution of the Schinemann
company. In the same year its chief, who at the
beginning had been a tolerably able manager, retired
for good into private life, and till his death held the
position of Armourer to the Duke of Mecklenburg-
Schwerin, in very modest circumstances.
The deserted company applied to Ekhof, desiring
him to become its leader. To this he willingly assented,
as, naturally enough, he did not feel on his proper level
with his burlesque associates, whose sphere differed so
very much from his own. His leadership, however, was
of very short duration. It was evident that he felt no
inclination for the business side of theatrical work. Art
was everything to him; for its sake he was able to work,
venture, invent, and stimulate others, but in practical
everyday life he was anxious, nervous, and rather petty.
The exciting game of chance, as we might call the
leadership of touring companies-chance, moreover, in
which loss was almost a certainty-had no attraction for
him, so he addressed himself to the able manager, Koch,
who was just then disengaged, having dismissed his
company on the outbreak of the Seven Years War,

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