Caroline’s Review of Six Plays 1797
Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1797) 189 (Thursday, 15 June 1797) 694–95
1. Cilli: Jenko Schriften. Margaretha die Maultasche. Gräfin von Tyrol: Ein vaterländisches Schauspiel in 5 Aufzügen, nach der Geschichte. By Adolph Anton, German actor. 1795. 136 pages. 8vo. (8 gr.).
2. Vienna: Rötzl. Das Recht der Erstgeburt: Ein Schauspiel in 5 Acten, by Ksrr. 1796. 127 pages. 8vo. (8 gr.).
3. Prag, Leipzig: Neureutter. Die Theatergarderobe: Ein Original-Lustspiel in zwey Aufzügen, by Karl Rosenau. 1797. 105 pages. 8vo. (6 gr.).
4. Cassel: Griessbach. Die Hautboisten: Lustspiel in Einem Aufzug, by Wilhelm Bröckelmann. 1797. 78 pages. 8vo.
5. Cöthen: Aue. Der Trauschein: Ein Lustspiel in einem Aufzuge, by H. 1796. 46 pages. 8vo. (3 gr.).
6. Leipzig: Kummer. Die Wittwe und das Reitpferd: Eine dramatische Kleinigkeit., by August von Kotzebue. 1796. 52 pages. 8vo. (4 gr.).
Number 1 is treated according to history essentially in the manner of a woodcut. [Frontispiece:]
One is neither annoyed nor particularly entertained unless perhaps during the initial scenes. To wit, in a somewhat hasty love scene a girl, rescued from a wine cask in which she has been locked up and kidnapped, immediately, then and there, finds her lover. [Title vignette:]
She responds to his swift proposal with the words, “Indeed, yes! were you up there with us in Castle Kufstein, I would certainly care for you, cuddle you, kiss you as I do my baby goat that grazes up there in the grass etc.” The dialog otherwise proceeds at a comfortable, simple pace, except that Margaretha slips into an excessively sentimental costume with the spouse she ultimately chooses, crying out in his arms, “What bliss would it be to slumber thus, out of such a moment of bliss into the eternal one!” To which he, however, responds quite sensibly, “In the meantime, let us yet live as long as possible, for death will doubtless not escape us.”
Number 2 is based on a novella by [Jean-Pierre Claris de] Florian, Selico . Except for a few scenes, the treatment is somewhat dry and prosaic. The material itself is too romantic for a serious dramatic piece and would have been more appropriate for an opera with a mix of seriousness and jest. Selico’s deed would have been more moving, for example, in the case of an inexperienced, naive, helpless youth than a pathetic young man who commits it more or less for the sake of moral principle.
Number 3 offers coarse wit and a mouthful of morality chaotically admixed in their raw natural state. The paper and printing quality are inferior, and the orthography can be judged by the following examples: “ein dichtiger [for dichter] Rausch,” Priglereyen [for Prügeleien], Kustum [for Kostüm], “er gehnt” [for er gähnt], Schänke [for Schenke] etc.
Number 4 is as crammed full of capricious, humorous characters as might ever be stuffed into a one-act play. The musketeer Umstand, the housekeeper Aentchen [Entchen], and the corporal Blaufärber betray the author’s sincere commitment to making his audience laugh.
Number 5 is a rural farce essentially after the fashion and tone of [Anton Wall’s] Die beiden Billets  and the sequence of farces that play set into motion; somewhat empty, but as compensation also rather short.
The “trifle” [a play on the subtitle], no. 6, can justifiably make greater claims. Its wit, which comes quite naturally to the author, is just not always the most natural wit. An anecdote in the ninth volume of the English annals [Annalen der Brittischen Geschichte] by [J. W. von] Archenholz provided the material.
Translation © 2018 Doug Stott