THE TRAGIC MAN
BOOKS BY J. M. BARRIE
PUBLISHED BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Half Hours _net_ $1.25
"Der Tag," or The Tragic Man _net_ .25
Peter and Wendy. Illustrated _net_ $1.50
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.
With 16 Illustrations in Color by
ARTHUR RACKHAM _net_ $1.50
The Little White Bird _net_ $1.35
Sentimental Tommy. The Story of His
Boyhood. Illustrated _net_ $1.35
Tommy and Grizel. Illustrated _net_ $1.35
Margaret Ogilvy. By Her Son _net_ $1.25
A Window in Thrums. 16mo _net_ $1.25
Auld Licht Idylls. 16mo _net_ $1.25
THE TRAGIC MAN
J. M. BARRIE
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY J. M. BARRIE
_All rights reserved_
Published December, 1914
THE TRAGIC MAN
SPIRIT OF CULTURE
THE TRAGIC MAN
_A bare chamber lighted by a penny dip which casts shadows. On a hard
chair by a table sits an EMPEROR in thought. To him come his
CHANCELLOR and an OFFICER._
CHANCELLOR. Your Imperial Majesty----
EMPEROR (_the EMPEROR rises_). Is that the paper?
(_Indicating a paper in the CHANCELLOR'S hand._)
CHANCELLOR (_presenting it_). It awaits only your Imperial Majesty's
OFFICER. When you have signed that paper, Sire, the Fatherland will be
at war with France and Russia.
EMPEROR. At last, this little paper----
CHANCELLOR. Not of the value of a bird's feather until it has your royal
EMPEROR. Then it will sing round the planet. The vibration of it will
not pass in a hundred years. My friend, how still the world has grown
since I raised this pen! All Europe's listening. Europe! That's
Germany, when I have signed! And yet----
OFFICER. Your Imperial Majesty is not afraid to sign?
EMPEROR (_flashing_). Afraid!
OFFICER (_abject_). Oh, Sire!
EMPEROR. I am irresistible to-day! "Red blood boils in my veins. To me
every open door is the gift of a world! I hear a thousand
nightingales! I would eat all the elephants in Hindustan and pick my
teeth with the spire of Strassburg Cathedral."
OFFICER. That is the Fatherland to-day. Such as we are, that you have
made us, each seeking to copy you in so far as man can repeat his
deity. It was you fashioned us into a sword, Sire, and now the sword
EMPEROR (_approvingly_). There the sword spoke--and yet the wise one
said: "Take not your enemies together, but separately, lest the meal
go to them instead of to you." One at a time. (_To CHANCELLOR_) Why am
I not a friend of Russia till France is out of the way, or France's
friend until the bear is muzzled? That was your part.
CHANCELLOR. For that I strove, but their mean minds suspected me. Sire,
EMPEROR. What of Britain?
OFFICER (_intently_). This--The Day, to which we have so often drunk,
EMPEROR. The Day! To The Day! (_All salute The Day with their swords._)
OFFICER. Now, if she wants it!
EMPEROR. There is no road to Britain--until our neighbors are subdued.
Then, for us, there will be no roads that do not lead to Britain.
CHANCELLOR (_suavely_). Your Imperial Majesty, Britain will not join in
EMPEROR. If I was sure of that!
CHANCELLOR. I vouch for it. So well we've chosen our time, it finds her
at issue with herself, her wild women let loose, her colonies ready to
turn against her, Ireland aflame, the paltry British Army sulking with
the civic powers.
EMPEROR. These wounds might heal suddenly if German bugles sounded. It
is a land that in the past has done things.
OFFICER. In the past, your Imperial Majesty, but in the past alone lies
EMPEROR. Yes, that's the German truth. Britain has grown dull and
sluggish; a belly of a land, she lies overfed; no dreams within her
such as keep powers alive--and timid, too--without red blood in her,
but in its stead a thick, yellowish fluid. The most she'll play for is
her own safety. Pretend to grant her that and she'll seek her soft bed
again. Britain's part in the world's making is done. "I was," her
CHANCELLOR. How well you know her, Sire! All she needs is some small
excuse for saying, "I acted in the best interests of my money-bags."
That excuse I've found for her. I have promised in your name a secret
compact with her, that if she stands aloof the parts of France we do
not at present need we will not at present take.
EMPEROR. A secret bargain over the head of France, her friend! Surely an
CHANCELLOR. The British Government will not think so. Trust me to know
them, Sire. Your signature?
EMPEROR (_gleaming_). I can fling a million men within the week across
the border by way of Alsace and Lorraine.
OFFICER (_with a frown_). There are a hundred gates to open that way.
EMPEROR. My guns shall open them.
OFFICER (_with meaning_). You can think of no easier road, Sire?
EMPEROR. I think of it night and day.
OFFICER. One further north--through Belgium?
EMPEROR. If I could dare! But no, that road is barred.
OFFICER (_misunderstanding_). On the contrary, Sire----
EMPEROR. Barred by a fortress no gun of mine may bear against--by honor,
by my plighted word.
OFFICER. Yet, Sire----
EMPEROR (_after hesitating_). No, no! I will not so stain my name.
CHANCELLOR. I am with you, Sire, but I fear it will not be so with
France. She has grown cynical. She will find the road through Belgium.
EMPEROR. You seek to tempt me. She also signed the treaty.
CHANCELLOR. Your Imperial Majesty judges others by yourself. I have
private ground for fearing that in the greed for a first advantage
France will call the treaty but a scrap of paper.
EMPEROR. I think your private ground may be your own private newspaper.
CHANCELLOR. She will say that necessity knows no law, or some such
EMPEROR. Belgium is no craven. She will fight the betrayer.
CHANCELLOR. France will hack her way through her.
EMPEROR. My Chancellor, that is a hideous phrase.
CHANCELLOR. I ask your pardon, Sire. It came, somehow, pat to my lips.
OFFICER. Your Imperial Majesty, the time passes. Will it please you to
CHANCELLOR. Bonaparte would have acted quickly.
CHANCELLOR. The paper, Sire.
EMPEROR. Leave it now with me. Return in an hour and you shall have it
OFFICER (_warningly_). The least delay----
CHANCELLOR. Overmuch reflection----
EMPEROR. I wish to be alone.
(_They retire respectfully, but anxious. He is left alone in
EMPEROR. Even a King's life is but a day, and in his day the sun is only
at its zenith once. This is my zenith; others will come to Germany,
but not to me. The world pivots on me to-night. They said Bonaparte,
coupling me with him. To dim Napoleon! Paris in three weeks--say four,
to cover any chance miscalculation; Russia on her back in six, with
Poland snapping at her, and then, after a breathing space, we
reach--The Day! We sweep the English Channel, changing its name as we
embark, and cross by way of Calais, which will have fallen easily into
our hands, the British fleet destroyed--for that is part of the
plan--Dover to London is a week of leisured marching, and London
itself, unfortified and panic-stricken, falls in a day! _Væ victis!_
I'll leave conquered Britain some balls to play with, so that there
shall be no uprising. Next I carve America in great mouthfuls for my
colonists, for now I strike the seas. It's all so docketed. I feel
it's as good as done before I set forth to do it. Dictator of the
world! And all for pacific ends. For once, the whole is mine. We come
at last to the great desideratum, a universal peace. Rulers over all!
God in the heavens, I upon the earth--we two! (_Raising his brows
threateningly_) _And there are still the Zeppelins!_ I'll sign!
(_He sits in thought. He is very tired, and soon he is asleep. The
lighting becomes strange; he dreams, and we see his dream. The
SPIRIT OF CULTURE appears, a noble female figure in white robes._)
EMPEROR. Who's that?
CULTURE. A friend. I am Culture, who has so long hovered well-placed
over happy Germany.
EMPEROR (_who gives her royal honor_). A friend--a consort! I would hear
you say, O Queen, that I have done some things for you.
CULTURE. You have done much for me. I have held my head higher since you
were added to the roll of sovereigns. I may have smiled at you at
times, as when you seemed to think that you were the two of us in one,
but as Kings go you have been a worthy King.
EMPEROR. It was all done for you.
CULTURE. So, for long, I thought. I looked upon Germany's golden
granaries, plucked from ground once barren; its busy mills and
furnaces, its outstretching commerce and teeming people and noble
seats of learning, all mellowing in the sun, and I heard you say they
were dedicate to me, and I was proud. You have honored me, my Emperor,
and now I am here to be abased by you. All the sweet garments you have
robed me in, tear them off me and send me naked out of Germany.
EMPEROR. You would not have me sign?
CULTURE. I warn you first to know yourself, you who have gloated in a
looking-glass too long.
EMPEROR. I sign, so that Germany may be greater still, to spread your
banner farther; thus I make the whole world cultured.
CULTURE. My banner needs no such spreading. It has ever been your
weakness to think that I have no other home save here in Germany. I
have many homes, and the fairest is in France.
EMPEROR. If that were true, Germany would care less for you.
CULTURE. If that is true, I have never had a home in Germany. I am no
single nation's servant, no single race's Queen. I am not of German
make. My banner is already in every land on which you would place your
heel. Culture spreads not by way of maiming freedom. I'll not have you
say you fight for me. Find some other reason.
EMPEROR. The jealousies of nations----
CULTURE. All are guilty there. Jealousy, not love of money, is the root
of all evil; that was a misprint. Yet I know of nothing those others
want that is yours to give, save peace. What do you want of them?
Bites out of each, and when they refuse to be dismembered you cry:
"The blood be on their heads; they force me into war."
EMPEROR. Germany must expand. That is her divine mission; I have it from
CULTURE. Your system of espionage is known to be tolerably complete.
EMPEROR. All Germany is with me. I hold in leash the mightiest machine
for war the world has forged.
CULTURE. I have seen your legions, and all are with you. Never was a
Lord more trusted. O Emperor, does that not make you pause?
EMPEROR. France invades little Belgium.
CULTURE. Chivalrous France! Never! Emperor, I leave one last word to you
at the parting of the ways. France, Russia, Britain, these are great
opponents, but it is not they will bring the pillars of Germany down.
Beware of Belgium!
(_She goes. He is left in two minds. He crosses to sign. He flings
down the pen. He strikes the bell. CHANCELLOR and OFFICER
CHANCELLOR. Your Imperial Majesty has signed?
EMPEROR. Thus (_he tears the paper_).
EMPEROR. Say this to Russia, France, and Britain in my Imperial name: So
long as they keep within their borders I remain in mine.
OFFICER. But, Sire----
EMPEROR. You know, as I do, that it is all they ask for.
CHANCELLOR. You were the friend of Austria.
EMPEROR. I'll prove it. Tell her from me that Servia has yielded on
every point which doth become a nation and that Austria may accept her
CHANCELLOR. Nay, Sire----
EMPEROR. And so, there will be no war.
OFFICER. Sire, we beg----
EMPEROR. These are my commands.
(_They have to go, chagrined, but deferential._)
EMPEROR. The decision lay with me, and I said there shall be peace. That
be my zenith!
(_He goes back to the chair; he sleeps peacefully; in the distance a
bell tolls the Angelus, and suddenly this is broken by one boom of a
great gun, which reverberates and should be startling. The SPIRIT
OF CULTURE returns, now with a wound in her breast; she surveys him
CULTURE. Sleep on, unhappy King. (_He grows restless._) Better to wake
if even your dreams appal you.
(_He wakes, and for a moment he scarcely understands that he has
been dreaming; the realization is tragic to him._)
EMPEROR. You! You have come here to mock me!
CULTURE. Oh, no.
EMPEROR. I dreamed there was no war. In my dream they came to me and I
forbade the war. I saw the Fatherland smiling and prosperous, as it
was before the war.
CULTURE. It was you who made the war, O Emperor!
EMPEROR (_huskily_). Belgium?
CULTURE. There is no Belgium now, but over what was Belgium there rests
a soft light, as of a helm, and through it is a flaming sword.
EMPEROR. I dreamed I had kept my plighted word to Belgium.
CULTURE. It was you, O Emperor, who broke your plighted word and laid
waste the land. In the lust for victory you violated even the laws of
war which men contrive so that when the sword is sheathed they may
dare again face their Maker. Your way to Him is lighted now by
smouldering spires and ashes that were once fair academic groves of
mine, and you shall seek Him over roads cobbled with the moans of
EMPEROR. In my dream I thought England was grown degenerate and would
CULTURE. She fought you where Crécy was, and Agincourt, and Waterloo,
with all their dead to help her. The dead became quick in their
ancient graves, stirred by the tread of the island feet, and they
cried out: "How is England doing?" The living answered the dead upon
their bugles with the "All's well." England, O Emperor, was grown
degenerate, but you, _you_, have made her great.
EMPEROR. France, Russia?
CULTURE. They are here around your walls.
EMPEROR. My people?
CULTURE. I see none marching but men whose feet make no sound. Shades of
your soldiers who pass on and on, in never-ending lines.
EMPEROR. Do they curse me?
CULTURE. None curses; they all salute you as they pass. They have done
EMPEROR. The women curse me?
CULTURE. Not even the women. They, too, salute you. You were their
Father and could do no wrong.
EMPEROR. And you?
CULTURE. I have come with this gaping wound in my breast to bid you
EMPEROR. God cannot let my Germany be utterly destroyed.
CULTURE. If God is with the Allies, Germany will not be destroyed.
(_She is going. She lifts a pistol from the table and puts it in his
hand. It is all she can do for her old friend. She goes away with
shining eyes. The penny dip burns low. The great Emperor is lost in
Text in italics is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.