»Thou art as sweet as a flower; thou art as tall as a spruce and as pretty as an oak. There’s a wee boy sitting in your thieving eyes, shooting arrows at me. Well, what do you think of it?«
There is hardly a Slovenian person unfamiliar with the prime and rarely surpassed passage of Slovenian playwriting in which Anže is trying to woo Micka, his beloved object of romantic desire. His courtship, conducted in the dialect of the Gorenjska region, is hilariously funny, as well as articulate. With his play Micka, the Mayor’s Daughter,modelled on the popular Viennese comedy Die Feldmühle (A Country Mill) by Richter, Linhart caused a small-scale cultural and social revolution staged at the Ljubljana Estates Theatre in 1789, the very year in which Europe was in turmoil caused by the effects and consequences of the French Revolution. In the venue, previously reserved for performances in German and Italian only, Linhart and a group of his intellectual friends presented a comedy in the local language and in the spirit of new democratic and liberal tendencies. By doing so they proved that the Slovenian language can equally compete with other languages used in the theatre and reinforced the claim that the people of Carniola deserve art in their native language. What is more, Linhart demonstrated that he has plenty to say on stage.
In his short comedy in two acts, Linhart shrewdly derided self-serving schemers and snobbery, as well as the reckless and arrogant nobility and drunken and corrupt government officials. As a result, simple peasant folk need to be smart and savvy to avoid greedy claws of vultures lurking from every corner. Linhart’s proficiency is exhibited by the fact that his view of social classes is not entirely black and white; indeed, there are decent people to be found among the nobility (and a woman to boot!), while the common sense of simple folk is occasionally taken in by the vanity of appearance and false promises.
It is a particular form of self-confidence in the realm of language, class, personality, and last but not least the art, that remains the most precious bequest of Linhart’s Micka, the Mayor’s Daughter.