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Copyright. 1914, by J. M. BABBIE 

All rights reserved 

Published December, 1914 








Spirit of Culture 




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- 
Officer. Sire 

Emperor (the Emperor rises). Is that the 

paper ? 

(Indicating a paper in the Chancel- 
lor's hand.) 
Chancellor (presenting it). It awaits only 

your Imperial Majesty's signature. 
Officer. When you have signed that paper, 

Sire, the Fatherland will be at war with 

France and Russia. 
Emperor. At last, this little paper 


4 " "DER TAG" 

Chancellor. Not of the value of a bird's 
feather until it has your royal signature. 

Emperor. Then it will sing round the planet. 
The vibration of it will not pass in a hun- 
"N( dred 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 

Officer. Your Imperial Majesty is not 
afraid to sign.^^ 

Emperor (^a^Mngr). 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 

Officer. That is the Fatherland to-day. 
Such as we are, that you have made us, 

"DER TAG" 5 

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 
must speak. 

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, your 
signature ! 

Emperor. What of Britain ? 

Officer (intently). This — The Day, to which 
we have so often drunk, draws near! 

Emperor. The Day! To The Day! (All sa- 
lute The Day with their swords.) But when ? 

Officer. Now, if she wants it! 

Emperor. There is no road to Britain — 

6 "DER TAG" 

until our neighbors are subdued. Then, 
for us, there will be no roads that do not 
lead to Britain. 

Chancellor {suavely). Your Imperial Maj- 
esty, Britain will not join in just now. 

Emperor. If I was sure of that ! 

Chancellor. I vouch for it. So well weVe 
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 sud- 
denly 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 Britain's great- 

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 aUve — and 
timid, too — without red blood in her, but 

"DER TAG'' 7 

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 say- 
ing, *^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 infamous 

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. 

8 "DER TAG" 

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 Bel- 

Emperor. If I could dare ! But no, that road 
is barred. 

Officer (misunderstanding). On the con- 
trary. Sire 

Emperor. Barred by a fortress no gun of 
mine may bear against — ^by honor, by 
/ri 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. 

"DER TAG" 9 

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 dastard 

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 

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 sign ? 
Chancellor. Bonaparte would have acted 

Emperor. Bonaparte! 
Chancellor. The paper. Sire. 

10 "DER TAG" 

Emperor. Leave it now with me. Return in 
an hour and you shall have it signed. 

Officer (warningly). The least delay 

Chancellor. Overmuch reflection 

Emperor. I wish to be alone. 

(They retire respectfully^ but anxious. 
He is left alone in thought.) 

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 miscalcula- 
tion; Russia on her back in six, with 
Poland snapping at her, and then, after a 
breathing space, we reach — ^The Day! 
We sweep the Enghsh 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 

"DER TAG'' 11 

London is a week of leisured marching, 
and London itself, unfortified and panic- 
stricken, falls in a day ! Vce victis I I'll 
leave conquered Britain some balls to 
play with, so that there shall be no up- 
rising. 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 threat- 
eningly) And there are still the Zeppelins I 
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.) 

12 *^DER TAG" 

Emperor. Who's that? 

Culture. A friend. I am Culture, who has 
so long hovered well-placed over happy 

Emperor (who gives her royal honor). A friend 
— a consort! I would hear you say, O 
Queen, that I have done some things for 

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. 

^^DER TAG" 13 

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 your- 
seM, you who have gloated in a looking- 
glass too long. 

Emperor. I sign, so that Germany may be 
greater still, to spread your banner far- 
ther; thus I make the whole world cul- 

Culture. My banner needs no such spread- 
ing. 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. 


14 V "DER TAG" 

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 on high. 

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 
ike world has forged. 

"DER TAG" 16 

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! Em- 
peror, 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 Ger- 
many 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. Chancel- 
lor and Officer reappear.) 

Chancellor. Your Imperial Majesty has 
signed ? 

Emperor. Thus (he tears the paper). 

Officer. Sire! 

Emperor. Say this to Russia, France, and 
Britain in my Imperial name: So long as 
they keep within their borders I remain 
in mine. 

16 "DER TAG" 

Officer. But, Sire 

Emperor. You know, as I do, that it is all 

they ask for. 
Chancellor. You were the friend of Aus- 
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 terms. 

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^ hut defer- 
Emperor. The decision lay with me, and I 
said there shall be peace. That be my 
zenith ! 

{He goes hack to the chair; he sleeps 
"peacefully; in the distance a hell tolls 
the AngeluSy and suddenly this is 
hroken hy one hoom of a great gun^ 
which reverherates and should he start- 

"DER TAG" 17 

ling. The Spirit of Culture re- 

turns, now with a wound in her 

breast; she surveys him sadly.) 

Culture. Sleep on, unhappy Ejng. {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 dream- 
ing; 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 {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 flam- 
ing sword. 

18 "DER TAG" 

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 vio- 
lated even the laws of war which men con- 
trive 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 innocents. 

Emperor. In my dream I thought England 
was grown degenerate and would not 

Culture. She fought you where Crecy was, 
and Agincourt, and Waterloo, with all 
their dead to help her. The dead be- 
came 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 

"DER TAG^** 19 

bugles with the ''AlFs well." England, 
O Emperor, was grown degenerate, but 
you, yoUy 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 your bid- 

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 farewell. 

Emperor. God cannot let my Germany be 
utterly destroyed. 

20 ^^DER TAG'' 

CuLTUKE. If God is with the Allies, Ger- 
many will not be destroyed. Farewell. 
{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 its shadows.) 


Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 



JAN 1 3 1959 

LD 21-95m-ll,'50(2877sl6)476