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TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF KOTZEBUE,
BY DR. ROBERT ARTHUR.
GENERAL HOWE, Commander of the British army in N. America. LIEUTENANT Howe, his son.
RICHARD JONES, his adjutant.
EDWARD MIFFLIN, Quakers.
TIME. During the American Revolution.
SCENE.-General Howe's chamber, at the English Head Quarters, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From the chamber a door opens into an adjoining room.
General Howe.-(To Adjutant Jones, who, at the moment when the curtain rises, steps in.) No news of my son, yet, adjutant? Adjutant.-(Shrugging his shoulders.) No.
General H.-No signs of the detachment?
General H.-It was to have returned to camp yesterday.
Adjutant. That was the purport of the order.
General H.-I feel apprehensive of some evil.
Adjutant. Whence can danger come? There are no troops of the enemy in the neighborhood, and the whole of the surrounding country is inhabited by Quakers.
General H.-But they, too, are men.
Adjutant. Not exactly. If you give one of these men a blow on one cheek, he will, immediately, turn the other, and beg you to repeat it.
General H.-But endurance, also, has its limit. This foraging, besides, is an odious employment, and I fear my son's wildness. Adjutant. He is a noble young man.
General H.-But often dissolute.
Adjutant.-At his years
General H.-(Smiling.) Yes, yes, adjutant; men ever know how to console themselves when they feel that they are fools or criminals. Too young-too old-an excess-a passion—these are sufficient grounds of excuse for foolish or bad actions. I wish, indeed, that my son had no need of such excuses for his conduct; and yet I begin to fear that he does need them.
Adjutant. In the country of an enemy many things are regarded as allowable
General H.-An enemy's country is God's soil, and should not be defiled with crime. This Pennsylvania, especially, should be respected, for it is the only portion of America which has been obtained from the aborigines with their own free consent, and not forcibly wrested from them;-the only part of the world, perhaps, the origin of the jurisdiction of whose inhabitants is not burdened with a curse.
Adjutant.—The English soldier looks upon every inhabitant as a rebel against his father land, and that excites him—that makes
him savage. A few minutes ago a Quaker came, without a pass, into camp, and I had the greatest difficulty in protecting him from ill usage.
General H.-What did he want?
Adjutant.—He desired to speak with your Excellency. I have never yet seen a man bear derision and insolence with so much equanimity.
General H.-Bring him in. (Exit Adjutant Jones.) Is he derided on account of his calmness under insult? How preposterous is it, that men, with the same lips acknowledge and scoff at the teachings of their God.
(Enter Adjutant Jones with Walter Mifflin.)
General H.-Who are you?
Adjutant.-(Tearing Mifflin's hat from his head.) Shameless fellow! It is not customary to address the general in that familiar manner, nor to wear a hat in his presence.
Mifflin.-I am unacquainted with thy customs. I have never before seen a general, but I know that every man is my brother. I have worn my hat upon my head, all my life long. It is a part of my clothing, and, if I were to stand before a king, I should not take it off. Have I, thereby, done thee any injury, friend Howe? if I thought so I should be sorry. But, I wear my hat in the presence of God; why should I not wear it before thee?
General H.-I am aware of your custom. Give him back his hat. (The adjutant obeys. Mifflin calmly puts on his hat again.) Now tell me, what is your station?
Mifflin.-I am a farmer from Chester county.
General H.-Who sent you here?
General H.-What does the community wish?
Mifflin.-Thou knowest that the Friends engage in no contests, least of all that with arms. All men are our brethren-thou also. Thou hast come to us armed, and we have not opposed thee. We have voluntarily given thee to eat and to drink, as we would do to all that are hungry and thirsty. Wherefore do thy soldiers. plunder us?
(Whilst Mifflin is speaking, an orderly comes in and whispers something in the ear of the adjutant, who starts, suddenly, and follows him out.)
General H.-You are rebels.
Mifflin.-Not at all. We obey the authorities whom God has placed to rule over us. If He has assigned to thee this lot we endure in silence. If thy king will become our father, we beg that he will not trample his children under his feet. The rest we commit to God.
General H.-Why have you come without a pass?
Mifflin.-A man may go where he pleases.
General H.-In time of war, too?
Mifflin.-We know nothing of war.
General H.-In this manner, your own obstinacy brings you into difficulties.
Mifflin.—If we were to take passes from thee, we should, so far, acknowledge the right of the, so-called, war; and that would be sinful.
General H.-Strange principles!
Mifflin.-If thou dost not approve of them, despise them not, for they are grounded upon justice and humanity.
General H.-But, if you despise my protection, how can I be answerable for every mischance which befalls you?