The Project Gutenberg EBook of Translations from the German (Vol 3 of 3), by 
Thomas Carlyle

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Title: Translations from the German (Vol 3 of 3)
       Tales by Musaeus, Tieck, Richter

Author: Thomas Carlyle

Release Date: February 6, 2012 [EBook #38779]
[Last updated: January 6, 2014]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Dumb Love3
The Fair-haired Eckbert159
The Trusty Eckart175
The Runenberg200
The Elves220
The Goblet238
Schmelzle's Journey to Flætz257
Life of Quintus Fixlein305

[Pg 3]



There was once a wealthy merchant, Melchior of Bremen by name, who used to stroke his beard with a contemptuous grin, when he heard the Rich Man in the Gospel preached of, whom, in comparison, he reckoned little better than a petty shopkeeper. Melchior had money in such plenty, that he floored his dining-room all over with a coat of solid dollars. In those frugal times, as in our own, a certain luxury prevailed among the rich; only then it had a more substantial shape than now. But though this pomp of Melchior's was sharply censured by his fellow-citizens and consorts, it was, in truth, directed more to trading speculation than to mere vain-glory. The cunning Bremer easily observed, that those who grudged and blamed this seeming vanity, would but diffuse the reputation of his wealth, and so increase his credit. He gained his purpose to the full; the sleeping capital of old dollars, so judiciously set up to public inspection in the parlour, brought interest a hundredfold, by the silent surety which it offered for his bargains in every market; yet, at last, it became a rock on which the welfare of his family made shipwreck.

[1] Prefatory Introduction to Musæus, suprà, at p. 316, Vol. VI. of Works (Vol. I. of Miscellanies).

Melchior of Bremen died of a surfeit at a city-feast, without having time to set his house in order; and left all his goods and chattels to an only son, in the bloom of life, and just arrived at the years when the laws allowed him to take possession of his inheritance. Franz Melcherson was a brilliant youth, endued by nature with the best capacities. His exterior was gracefully formed, yet firm and sinewy withal; his temper was cheery and jovial, as if hung-beef and old French wine had joined to influence his formation. On his cheeks bloomed health; and from his[Pg 4] brown eyes looked mirthfulness and love of joy. He was like a marrowy plant, which needs but water and the poorest ground to make it grow to strength; but which, in too fat a soil, will shoot into luxuriant overgrowth, without fruit or usefulness. The father's heritage, as often happens, proved the ruin of the son. Scarce had he felt the joy of being sole possessor and disposer of a large fortune, when he set about endeavouring to get rid of it as of a galling burden; began to play the Rich Man in the Gospel to the very letter; went clothed in fine apparel, and fared sumptuously every day. No feast at the bishop's court could be compared for pomp and superfluity with his; and never while the town of Bremen shall endure, will such another public dinner be consumed, as it yearly got from him; for to every burgher of the place he gave a Krusel-soup and a jug of Spanish wine. For this, all people cried: Long life to him! and Franz became the hero of the day.

In this unceasing whirl of joviality, no thought was cast upon the Balancing of Entries, which, in those days, was the merchant's vade-mecum, though in our times it is going out of fashion, and for want of it the tongue of the commercial beam too frequently declines with a magnetic virtue from the vertical position. Some years passed on without the joyful Franz's noticing a diminution in his incomes; for at his father's death every chest and coffer had been full. The voracious host of table-friends, the airy company of jesters, gamesters, parasites, and all who had their living by the prodigal son, took special care to keep reflection at a distance from him; they hurried him from one enjoyment to another; kept him constantly in play, lest in some sober moment Reason might awake, and snatch him from their plundering claws.

But at last their well of happiness went suddenly dry; old Melchior's casks of gold were now run off even to the lees. One day, Franz ordered payment of a large account; his cash-keeper was not in a state to execute the precept, and returned it with a protest. This counter-incident flashed keenly through the soul of Franz; yet he felt nothing else but anger and vexation at his servant, to whose unaccountable perversity, by no means to his own ill husbandry, he charged the present disorder in his finances. Nor did he give himself the trouble to investigate the real condition of the business; but after flying to the common Fool's-litany, and thundering out some scores of curses, he transmitted to his shoulder-shrugging steward the laconic order: Find means.

[Pg 5]

Bill-brokers, usurers and money-changers now came into play. For high interest, fresh sums were poured into the empty coffers; the silver flooring of the dining-room was then more potent in the eyes of creditors, than in these times of ours the promissory obligation of the Congress of America, with the whole thirteen United States to back it. This palliative succeeded for a season; but, underhand, the rumour spread about the town, that the silver flooring had been privily removed, and a stone one substituted in its stead. The matter was immediately, by application of the lenders, legally inquired into, and discovered to be actually so. Now, it could not be denied, that a marble-floor, worked into nice Mosaic, looked much better in a parlour, than a sheet of dirty, tarnished dollars: the creditors, however, paid so little reverence to the proprietor's refinement of taste, that on the spot they, one and all, demanded payment of their several moneys; and as this was not complied with, they proceeded to procure an act of bankruptcy; and Melchior's house, with its appurtenances, offices, gardens, parks and furniture, were sold by public auction, and their late owner, who in this extremity had screened himself from jail by some chicanery of law, judicially ejected.

It was now too late to moralise on his absurdities, since philosophical reflections could not alter what was done, and the most wholesome resolutions would not bring him back his money. According to the principles of this our cultivated century, the hero at this juncture ought to have retired with dignity from the stage, or in some way terminated his existence; to have entered on his travels into foreign parts, or opened his carotid artery; since in his native town he could live no longer as a man of honour. Franz neither did the one nor the other. The qu'en-dira-t-on, which French morality employs as bit and curb for thoughtlessness and folly, had never once occurred to the unbridled squanderer in the days of his profusion, and his sensibility was still too dull to feel so keenly the disgrace of his capricious wastefulness. He was like a toper, who has been in drink, and on awakening out of his carousal, cannot rightly understand how matters are or have been with him. He lived according to the manner of unprospering spendthrifts; repented not, lamented not. By good fortune, he had picked some relics from the wreck; a few small heir-looms of the family; and these secured him for a time from absolute starvation.

He engaged a lodging in a remote alley, into which the sun[Pg 6] never shone throughout the year, except for a few days about the solstice, when it peeped for a short while over the high roofs. Here he found the little that his now much-contracted wants required. The frugal kitchen of his landlord screened him from hunger, the stove from cold, the roof from rain, the four walls from wind; only from the pains of tedium he could devise no refuge or resource. The light rabble of parasites had fled away with his prosperity; and of his former friends there was now no one that knew him. Reading had not yet become a necessary of life; people did not yet understand the art of killing time by means of those amusing shapes of fancy which are wont to lodge in empty heads. There were yet no sentimental, pedagogic, psychologic, popular, simple, comic, or moral tales; no novels of domestic life, no cloister-stories, no romances of the middle ages; and of the innumerable generation of our Henrys, and Adelaides, and Cliffords, and Emmas, no one had as yet lifted up its mantua-maker voice, to weary out the patience of a lazy and discerning public. In those days, knights were still diligently pricking round the tilt-yard; Dietrich of Bern, Hildebrand, Seyfried with the Horns, Rennewart the Strong, were following their snake and dragon hunt, and killing giants and dwarfs of twelve men's strength. The venerable epos, Theuerdank, was the loftiest ideal of German art and skill, the latest product of our native wit, but only for the cultivated minds, the poets and thinkers of the age. Franz belonged to none of those classes, and had therefore nothing to employ himself upon, except that he tuned his lute, and sometimes twanged a little on it; then, by way of variation, took to looking from the window, and instituted observations on the weather; out of which, indeed, there came no inference a whit more edifying than from all the labours of the most rheumatic meteorologist of this present age. Meanwhile his turn for observation ere long found another sort of nourishment, by which the vacant space in his head and heart was at once filled.

In the narrow lane right opposite his window dwelt an honest matron, who, in hope of better times, was earning a painful living by the long threads, which, assisted by a marvellously fair daughter, she winded daily from her spindle. Day after day the couple spun a length of yarn, with which the whole town of Bremen, with its walls and trenches, and all its suburbs, might have been begirt. These two spinners had not been born for the wheel; they were of good descent, and had lived of old in pleasant affluence. The[Pg 7] fair Meta's father had once had a ship of his own on the sea, and, freighting it himself, had yearly sailed to Antwerp; but a heavy storm had sunk the vessel, "with man and mouse," and a rich cargo, into the abysses of the ocean, before Meta had passed the years of her childhood. The mother, a staid and reasonable woman, bore the loss of her husband and all her fortune with a wise composure; in her need she refused, out of noble pride, all help from the charitable sympathy of her relations and friends; considering it as shameful alms, so long as she believed, that in her own activity she might find a living by the labour of her hands. She gave up her large house, and all her costly furniture, to the rigorous creditors of her ill-fated husband, hired a little dwelling in the lane, and span from early morning till late night, though the trade went sore against her, and she often wetted the thread with her tears. Yet by this diligence she reached her object, of depending upon no one, and owing no mortal any obligation. By and by she trained her growing daughter to the same employment; and lived so thriftily, that she laid-by a trifle of her gainings, and turned it to account by carrying on a little trade in flax.

She, however, nowise purposed to conclude her life in these poor circumstances; on the contrary, the honest dame kept up her heart with happy prospects into the future, and hoped that she should once more attain a prosperous situation, and in the autumn of her life enjoy her woman's-summer. Nor were these hopes grounded altogether upon empty dreams of fancy, but upon a rational and calculated expectation. She saw her daughter budding up like a spring rose, no less virtuous and modest than she was fair; and with such endowments of art and spirit, that the mother felt delight and comfort in her, and spared the morsel from her own lips, that nothing might be wanting in an education suitable to her capacities. For she thought, that if a maiden could come up to the sketch which Solomon, the wise friend of woman, has left of the ideal of a perfect wife, it could not fail that a pearl of such price would be sought after, and bidden for, to ornament some good man's house; for beauty combined with virtue, in the days of Mother Brigitta, were as important in the eyes of wooers, as, in our days, birth combined with fortune. Besides, the number of suitors was in those times greater; it was then believed that the wife was the most essential, not, as in our refined economical theory, the most superfluous item in[Pg 8] the household. The fair Meta, it is true, bloomed only like a precious rare flower in the greenhouse, not under the gay, free sky; she lived in maternal oversight and keeping, sequestered and still; was seen in no walk, in no company; and scarcely once in the year passed through the gate of her native town; all which seemed utterly to contradict her mother's principle. The old Lady E * * of Memel understood it otherwise, in her time. She sent the itinerant Sophia, it is clear as day, from Memel into Saxony, simply on a marriage speculation, and attained her purpose fully. How many hearts did the wandering nymph set on fire, how many suitors courted her! Had she stayed at home, as a domestic modest maiden, she might have bloomed away in the remoteness of her virgin cell, without even making a conquest of Kubbuz the schoolmaster. Other times, other manners. Daughters with us are a sleeping capital, which must be put in circulation if it is to yield any interest; of old, they were kept like thrifty savings, under lock and key; yet the bankers still knew where the treasure lay concealed, and how it might be come at. Mother Brigitta steered towards some prosperous son-in-law, who might lead her back from the Babylonian captivity of the narrow lane into the land of superfluity, flowing with milk and honey; and trusted firmly, that in the urn of Fate, her daughter's lot would not be coupled with a blank.

One day, while neighbour Franz was looking from the window, making observations on the weather, he perceived the charming Meta coming with her mother from church, whither she went daily, to attend mass. In the times of his abundance, the unstable voluptuary had been blind to the fairer half of the species; the finer feelings were still slumbering in his breast; and all his senses had been overclouded by the ceaseless tumult of debauchery. But now the stormy waves of extravagance had subsided; and in this deep calm, the smallest breath of air sufficed to curl the mirror surface of his soul. He was enchanted by the aspect of this, the loveliest female figure that had ever flitted past him. He abandoned from that hour the barren study of the winds and clouds, and now instituted quite another set of Observations for the furtherance of Moral Science, and one which afforded to himself much finer occupation. He soon extracted from his landlord intelligence of this fair neighbour, and learned most part of what we know already.

Now rose on him the first repentant thought for his heedless[Pg 9] squandering; there awoke a secret good-will in his heart to this new acquaintance; and for her sake he wished that his paternal inheritance were his own again, that the lovely Meta might be fitly dowered with it. His garret in the narrow lane was now so dear to him, that he would not have exchanged it with the Schudding itself.[2] Throughout the day he stirred not from the window, watching for an opportunity of glancing at the dear maiden; and when she chanced to show herself, he felt more rapture in his soul than did Horrox in his Liverpool Observatory, when he saw, for the first time, Venus passing over the disk of the Sun.

[2] One of the largest buildings in Bremen, where the meetings of the merchants are usually held.

Unhappily the watchful mother instituted counter-observations, and ere long discovered what the lounger on the other side was driving at; and as Franz, in the capacity of spendthrift, already stood in very bad esteem with her, this daily gazing angered her so much, that she shrouded her lattice as with a cloud, and drew the curtains close together. Meta had the strictest orders not again to appear at the window; and when her mother went with her to mass, she drew a rain-cap over her face, disguised her like a favourite of the Grand Signior, and hurried till she turned the corner with her, and escaped the eyes of the lier-in-wait.

Of Franz, it was not held that penetration was his master faculty; but Love awakens all the talents of the mind. He observed, that by his imprudent spying, he had betrayed himself; and he thenceforth retired from the window, with the resolution not again to look out at it, though the Venerabile itself were carried by. On the other hand, he meditated some invention for proceeding with his observations in a private manner; and without great labour, his combining spirit mastered it.

He hired the largest looking-glass that he could find, and hung it up in his room, with such an elevation and direction, that he could distinctly see whatever passed in the dwelling of his neighbours. Here, as for several days the watcher did not come to light, the screens by degrees went asunder; and the broad mirror now and then could catch the form of the noble maid, and, to the great refreshment of the virtuoso, cast it truly back. The more deeply love took root in his heart,[3] the more widely did his wishes extend. It now struck him that he ought to lay his passion open to the fair Meta, and investigate the corresponding[Pg 10] state of her opinions. The commonest and readiest way which lovers, under such a constellation of their wishes, strike into, was in his position inaccessible. In those modest ages, it was always difficult for Paladins in love to introduce themselves to daughters of the family; toilette calls were not in fashion; trustful interviews tête-à-tête were punished by the loss of reputation to the female sharer; promenades, esplanades, masquerades, pic-nics, goutés, soupés, and other inventions of modern wit for forwarding sweet courtship, had not then been hit upon; yet, notwithstanding, all things went their course, much as they do with us. Gossipings, weddings, lykewakes, were, especially in our Imperial Cities, privileged vehicles for carrying on soft secrets, and expediting marriage contracts; hence the old proverb, One wedding makes a score. But a poor runagate no man desired to number among his baptismal relatives; to no nuptial dinner, to no wakesupper, was he bidden. The by-way of negotiating, with the woman, with the young maid, or any other serviceable spirit of a go-between, was here locked up. Mother Brigitta had neither maid nor woman; the flax and yarn trade passed through no hands but her own; and she abode by her daughter as closely as her shadow.

[3] [Greek: Apo tou horan erchetai to eran.]

In these circumstances, it was clearly impossible for neighbour Franz to disclose his heart to the fair Meta, either verbally or in writing. Ere long, however, he invented an idiom, which appeared expressly calculated for the utterance of the passions. It is true, the honour of the first invention is not his. Many ages ago, the sentimental Celadons of Italy and Spain had taught melting harmonies, in serenades beneath the balconies of their dames, to speak the language of the heart; and it is said that this melodious pathos had especial virtue in love-matters; and, by the confession of the ladies, was more heart-affecting and subduing, than of yore the oratory of the reverend Chrysostom, or the pleadings of Demosthenes and Tully. But of all this the simple Bremer had not heard a syllable; and consequently the invention of expressing his emotions in symphonious notes, and trilling them to his beloved Meta, was entirely his own.

In an hour of sentiment, he took his lute: he did not now tune it merely to accompany his voice, but drew harmonious melodies from its strings; and Love, in less than a month, had changed the musical scraper to a new Amphion. His first efforts did not seem to have been noticed; but soon the population of[Pg 11] the lane were all ear, every time the dilettante struck a note. Mothers hushed their children, fathers drove the noisy urchins from the doors, and the performer had the satisfaction to observe that Meta herself, with her alabaster hand, would sometimes open the window as he began to prelude. If he succeeded in enticing her to lend an ear, his voluntaries whirled along in gay allegro, or skipped away in mirthful jigs; but if the turning of the spindle, or her thrifty mother, kept her back, a heavy-laden andante rolled over the bridge of the sighing lute, and expressed, in languishing modulations, the feeling of sadness which love-pain poured over his soul.

Meta was no dull scholar; she soon learned to interpret this expressive speech. She made various experiments to try whether she had rightly understood it, and found that she could govern at her will the dilettante humours of the unseen lute-twanger; for your silent modest maidens, it is well known, have a much sharper eye than those giddy flighty girls, who hurry with the levity of butterflies from one object to another, and take proper heed of none. She felt her female vanity a little flattered; and it pleased her that she had it in her power, by a secret magic, to direct the neighbouring lute, and tune it now to the note of joy, now to the whimpering moan of grief. Mother Brigitta, on the other hand, had her head so constantly employed with her traffic on the small scale, that she minded none of these things; and the sly little daughter took especial care to keep her in the dark respecting the discovery; and, instigated either by some touch of kindness for her cooing neighbour, or perhaps by vanity, that she might show her hermeneutic penetration, meditated on the means of making some symbolical response to these harmonious apostrophes to her heart. She expressed a wish to have flower-pots on the outside of the window; and to grant her this innocent amusement was a light thing for the mother, who no longer feared the coney-catching neighbour, now that she no longer saw him with her eyes.

Henceforth Meta had a frequent call to tend her flowers, to water them, to bind them up, and guard them from approaching storms, and watch their growth and flourishing. With inexpressible delight the happy Franz explained this hieroglyphic altogether in his favour; and the speaking lute did not fail to modulate his glad emotions, through the alley, into the heedful ear of the fair friend of flowers. This, in her tender virgin heart, worked[Pg 12] wonders. She began to be secretly vexed, when Mother Brigitta, in her wise table-talk, in which at times she spent an hour chatting with her daughter, brought their melodious neighbour to her bar, and called him a losel and a sluggard, or compared him with the Prodigal in the Gospel. She always took his part; threw the blame of his ruin on the sorrowful temptations he had met with; and accused him of nothing worse than not having fitly weighed the golden proverb, A penny saved is a penny got. Yet she defended him with cunning prudence; so that it rather seemed as if she wished to help the conversation, than took any interest in the thing itself.

While Mother Brigitta within her four walls was inveighing against the luckless spendthrift, he on his side entertained the kindest feelings towards her; and was considering diligently how he might, according to his means, improve her straitened circumstances, and divide with her the little that remained to him, and so that she might never notice that a portion of his property had passed over into hers. This pious outlay, in good truth, was specially intended not for the mother, but the daughter. Underhand he had come to know, that the fair Meta had a hankering for a new gown, which her mother had excused herself from buying, under pretext of hard times. Yet he judged quite accurately, that a present of a piece of stuff, from an unknown hand, would scarcely be received, or cut into a dress for Meta; and that he should spoil all, if he stept forth and avowed himself the author of the benefaction. Chance afforded him an opportunity to realise this purpose in the way he wished.

Mother Brigitta was complaining to a neighbour, that flax was very dull; that it cost her more to purchase than the buyers of it would repay; and that hence this branch of industry was nothing better, for the present, than a withered bough. Eaves-dropper Franz did not need a second telling; he ran directly to the goldsmith, sold his mother's ear-rings, bought some stones of flax, and, by means of a negotiatress, whom he gained, had it offered to the mother for a cheap price. The bargain was concluded; and it yielded so richly, that on All-Saints' day the fair Meta sparkled in a fine new gown. In this decoration, she had such a splendour in her watchful neighbour's eyes, that he would have overlooked the Eleven Thousand Virgins, all and sundry, had it been permitted him to choose a heart's-mate from among them, and fixed upon the charming Meta.

[Pg 13]

But just as he was triumphing in the result of his innocent deceit, the secret was betrayed. Mother Brigitta had resolved to do the flax-retailer, who had brought her that rich gain, a kindness in her turn; and was treating her with a well-sugared rice-pap, and a quarter-stoop of Spanish sack. This dainty set in motion not only the toothless jaw, but also the garrulous tongue of the crone: she engaged to continue the flax-brokerage, should her consigner feel inclined, as from good grounds she guessed he would. One word produced another; Mother Eve's two daughters searched, with the curiosity peculiar to their sex, till at length the brittle seal of female secrecy gave way. Meta grew pale with affright at the discovery, which would have charmed her, had her mother not partaken of it. But she knew her strict ideas of morals and decorum; and these gave her doubts about the preservation of her gown. The serious dame herself was no less struck at the tidings, and wished, on her side too, that she alone had got intelligence of the specific nature of her flax-trade; for she dreaded that this neighbourly munificence might make an impression on her daughter's heart, which would derange her whole calculations. She resolved, therefore, to root out the still tender germ of this weed, in the very act, from the maiden heart. The gown, in spite of all the tears and prayers of its lovely owner, was first hypothecated, and next day transmitted to the huckster's shop; the money raised from it, with the other profits of the flax speculation, accurately reckoned up, were packed together, and under the name of an old debt, returned to "Mr. Franz Melcherson, in Bremen," by help of the Hamburg post. The receiver, nothing doubting, took the little lot of money as an unexpected blessing; wished that all his father's debtors would clear off their old scores as conscientiously as this honest unknown person; and had not the smallest notion of the real position of affairs. The talking brokeress, of course, was far from giving him a true disclosure of her blabbing; she merely told him that Mother Brigitta had given up her flax-trade.

Meanwhile, the mirror taught him, that the aspects over the way had altered greatly in a single night. The flower-pots were entirely vanished; and the cloudy veil again obscured the friendly horizon of the opposite window. Meta was seldom visible; and if for a moment, like the silver moon, from among her clouds in a stormy night, she did appear, her countenance was troubled, the fire of her eyes was extinguished, and it seemed to him, that,[Pg 14] at times, with her finger, she pressed away a pearly tear. This seized him sharply by the heart; and his lute resounded melancholy sympathy in soft Lydian mood. He grieved, and meditated to discover why his love was sad; but all his thinking and imagining were vain. After some days were past, he noticed, to his consternation, that his dearest piece of furniture, the large mirror, had become entirely useless. He set himself one bright morning in his usual nook, and observed that the clouds over the way had, like natural fog, entirely dispersed; a sign which he at first imputed to a general washing; but ere long he saw that, in the chamber, all was waste and empty; his pleasing neighbours had in silence withdrawn the night before, and broken up their quarters.

He might now, once more, with the greatest leisure and convenience, enjoy the free prospect from his window, without fear of being troublesome to any; but for him it was a dead loss to miss the kind countenance of his Platonic love. Mute and stupefied, he stood, as of old his fellow-craftsman, the harmonious Orpheus, when the dear shadow of his Eurydice again vanished down to Orcus; and if the bedlam humour of those "noble minds," who raved among us through the bygone lustre, but have now like drones disappeared with the earliest frost, had then been ripened to existence, this calm of his would certainly have passed into a sudden hurricane. The least he could have done, would have been to pull his hair, to trundle himself about upon the ground, or run his head against the wall, and break his stove and window. All this he omitted; from the very simple cause, that true love never makes men fools, but rather is the universal remedy for healing sick minds of their foolishness, for laying gentle fetters on extravagance, and guiding youthful giddiness from the broad way of ruin to the narrow path of reason; for the rake whom love will not recover is lost irrecoverably.

When once his spirit had assembled its scattered powers, he set on foot a number of instructive meditations on the unexpected phenomenon, but too visible in the adjacent horizon. He readily conceived that he was the lever which had effected the removal of the wandering colony: his money-letter, the abrupt conclusion of the flax-trade, and the emigration which had followed thereupon, were like reciprocal exponents to each other, and explained the whole to him. He perceived that Mother Brigitta had got round his secrets, and saw from every circumstance that he was not her hero; a discovery which yielded him but little satisfaction. The[Pg 15] symbolic responses of the fair Meta, with her flower-pots, to his musical proposals of love; her trouble, and the tear which he had noticed in her bright eyes shortly before her departure from the lane, again animated his hopes, and kept him in good heart. His first employment was to go in quest, and try to learn where Mother Brigitta had pitched her residence, in order to maintain, by some means or other, his secret understanding with the daughter. It cost him little toil to find her abode; yet he was too modest to shift his own lodging to her neighbourhood; but satisfied himself with spying out the church where she now attended mass, that he might treat himself once each day with a glance of his beloved. He never failed to meet her as she returned, now here, now there, in some shop or door which she was passing, and salute her kindly; an equivalent for a billet-doux, and productive of the same effect.

Had not Meta been brought up in a style too nunlike, and guarded by her rigid mother as a treasure, from the eyes of thieves, there is little doubt that neighbour Franz, with his secret wooing, would have made no great impression on her heart. But she was at the critical age, when Mother Nature and Mother Brigitta, with their wise nurture, were perpetually coming into collision. The former taught her, by a secret instinct, the existence of emotions, for which she had no name, and eulogised them as the panacea of life; the latter warned her to beware of the surprisals of a passion, which she would not designate by its true title, but which, as she maintained, was more pernicious and destructive to young maidens than the small-pox itself. The former, in the spring of life, as beseemed the season, enlivened her heart with a genial warmth; the latter wished that it should always be as cold and frosty as an ice-house. These conflicting pedagogic systems of the two good mothers gave the tractable heart of the daughter the direction of a ship which is steered against the wind, and follows neither the wind nor the helm, but a course between the two. She maintained the modesty and virtue which her education, from her youth upwards, had impressed upon her; but her heart continued open to all tender feelings. And as neighbour Franz was the first youth who had awakened these slumbering emotions, she took a certain pleasure in him, which she scarcely owned to herself, but which any less unexperienced maiden would have recognised as love. It was for this that her departure from the narrow lane had gone so near her heart; for this that the little tear had trickled from her[Pg 16] beautiful eyes; for this that, when the watchful Franz saluted her as she came from church, she thanked him so kindly, and grew scarlet to the ears. The lovers had in truth never spoken any word to one another; but he understood her, and she him, so perfectly, that in the most secret interview they could not have explained themselves more clearly; and both contracting parties swore in their silent hearts, each for himself, under the seal of secrecy, the oath of faithfulness to the other.

In the quarter, where Mother Brigitta had now settled, there were likewise neighbours, and among these likewise girl-spiers, whom the beauty of the charming Meta had not escaped. Right opposite their dwelling lived a wealthy Brewer, whom the wags of the part, as he was strong in means, had named the Hop-King. He was a young stout widower, whose mourning year was just concluding, so that now he was entitled, without offending the precepts of decorum, to look about him elsewhere for a new helpmate to his household. Shortly after the departure of his whilom wife, he had in secret entered into an engagement with his Patron Saint, St. Christopher, to offer him a wax-taper as long as a hop-pole, and as thick as a mashing-beam, if he would vouchsafe in this second choice to prosper the desire of his heart. Scarcely had he seen the dainty Meta, when he dreamed that St. Christopher looked in upon him, through the window of his bedroom in the second story,[4] and demanded payment of his debt. To the quick widower this seemed a heavenly call to cast out the net without delay. Early in the morning he sent for the brokers of the town, and commissioned them to buy bleached wax; then decked himself like a Syndic, and set forth to expedite his marriage speculation. He had no musical talents, and in the secret symbolic language of love he was no better than a blockhead; but he had a rich brewery, a solid mortgage on the city-revenues, a ship on the Weser, and a farm without the gates. With such recommendations he might have reckoned on a prosperous issue to his courtship, independently of all assistance from St. Kit, especially as his bride was without dowry.

[4] St. Christopher never appears to his favourites, like the other Saints, in a solitary room, encircled with a glory: there is no room high enough to admit him; thus the celestial Son of Anak is obliged to transact all business with his wards outside the window.

According to old use and wont, he went directly to the master hand, and disclosed to the mother, in a kind neighbourly way, his[Pg 17] christian intentions towards her virtuous and honourable daughter. No angel's visit could have charmed the good lady more than these glad tidings. She now saw ripening before her the fruit of her prudent scheme, and the fulfilment of her hope again to emerge from her present poverty into her former abundance; she blessed the good thought of moving from the crooked alley, and in the first ebullition of her joy, as a thousand gay ideas were ranking themselves up within her soul, she also thought of neighbour Franz, who had given occasion to it. Though Franz was not exactly her bosom-youth, she silently resolved to gladden him, as the accidental instrument of her rising star, with some secret gift or other, and by this means likewise recompense his well-intended flax-dealing.

In the maternal heart the marriage-articles were as good as signed; but decorum did not permit these rash proceedings in a matter of such moment. She therefore let the motion lie ad referendum, to be considered by her daughter and herself; and appointed a term of eight days, after which "she hoped she should have it in her power to give the much-respected suitor a reply that would satisfy him;" all which, as the common manner of proceeding, he took in good part, and with his usual civilities withdrew. No sooner had he turned his back, than spinning-wheel and reel, swingling-stake and hatchel, without regard being paid to their faithful services, and without accusation being lodged against them, were consigned, like some luckless Parliament of Paris, to disgrace, and dismissed as useless implements into the lumber-room. On returning from mass, Meta was astonished at the sudden catastrophe which had occurred in the apartment; it was all decked out as on one of the three high Festivals of the year. She could not understand how her thrifty mother, on a work-day, had so neglectfully put her active hand in her bosom; but before she had time to question the kindly-smiling dame concerning this reform in household affairs, she was favoured by the latter with an explanation of the riddle. Persuasion rested on Brigitta's tongue; and there flowed from her lips a stream of female eloquence, depicting the offered happiness in the liveliest hues which her imagination could lay on. She expected from the chaste Meta the blush of soft virgin bashfulness, which announces the novitiate in love; and then a full resignation of herself to the maternal will. For of old, in proposals of marriage, daughters were situated as our princesses are still; they were not asked about their inclination,[Pg 18] and had no voice in the selection of their legal helpmate, save the Yes before the altar.

But Mother Brigitta was in this point widely mistaken; the fair Meta did not at the unexpected announcement grow red as a rose, but pale as ashes. An hysterical giddiness swam over her brain, and she sank fainting in her mother's arms. When her senses were recalled by the sprinkling of cold water, and she had in some degree recovered strength, her eyes overflowed with tears, as if a heavy misfortune had befallen her. From all these symptoms, the sagacious mother easily perceived that the marriage-trade was not to her taste; at which she wondered not a little, sparing neither prayers nor admonitions to her daughter to secure her happiness by this good match, not flout it from her by caprice and contradiction. But Meta could not be persuaded that her happiness depended on a match, to which her heart gave no assent. The debates between the mother and the daughter lasted several days, from early morning to late night; the term for decision was approaching; the sacred taper for St. Christopher, which Og King of Bashan need not have disdained had it been lit for him as a marriage-torch at his espousals, stood in readiness, all beautifully painted with living flowers like a many-coloured light, though the Saint had all the while been so inactive in his client's cause, that the fair Meta's heart was still bolted and barred against him fast as ever.

Meanwhile she had bleared her eyes with weeping, and the maternal rhetoric had worked so powerfully, that, like a flower in the sultry heat, she was drooping together, and visibly fading away. Hidden grief was gnawing at her heart; she had prescribed herself a rigorous fast, and for three days no morsel had she eaten, and with no drop of water moistened her parched lips. By night sleep never visited her eyes; and with all this she grew sick to death, and began to talk about extreme unction. As the tender mother saw the pillar of her hope wavering, and bethought herself that she might lose both capital and interest at once, she found, on accurate consideration, that it would be more advisable to let the latter vanish, than to miss them both; and with kindly indulgence plied into the daughter's will. It cost her much constraint, indeed, and many hard battles, to turn away so advantageous an offer; yet at last, according to established order in household governments, she yielded unconditionally to the inclination of her child, and remonstrated no more with her beloved[Pg 19] patient on the subject. As the stout widower announced himself on the appointed day, in the full trust that his heavenly deputy had arranged it all according to his wish, he received, quite unexpectedly, a negative answer, which, however, was sweetened with such a deal of blandishment, that he swallowed it like wine-of-wormwood mixed with sugar. For the rest, he easily accommodated himself to his destiny; and discomposed himself no more about it, than if some bargain for a ton of malt had chanced to come to nothing. Nor, on the whole, had he any cause to sorrow without hope. His native town has never wanted amiable daughters, who come up to the Solomonic sketch, and are ready to make perfect spouses; besides, notwithstanding this unprospered courtship, he depended with firm confidence upon his Patron Saint; who in fact did him such substantial service elsewhere, that ere a month elapsed, he had planted with much pomp his devoted taper at the friendly shrine.

Mother Brigitta was now fain to recall the exiled spinning-tackle from its lumber-room, and again set it in action. All once more went its usual course. Meta soon bloomed out anew, was active in business, and diligently went to mass; but the mother could not hide her secret grudging at the failure of her hopes, and the annihilation of her darling plan; she was splenetic, peevish and dejected. Her ill-humour had especially the upper hand that day when neighbour Hop-King held his nuptials. As the wedding company proceeded to the church, with the town-band bedrumming and becymballing them in the van, she whimpered and sobbed as in the evil hour when the Job's-news reached her, that the wild sea had devoured her husband, with ship and fortune. Meta looked at the bridal pomp with great equanimity; even the royal ornaments, the jewels in the myrtle-crown, and the nine strings of true pearls about the neck of the bride, made no impression on her peace of mind; a circumstance in some degree surprising, since a new Paris cap, or any other meteor in the gallery of Mode, will so frequently derange the contentment and domestic peace of an entire parish. Nothing but the heart-consuming sorrow of her mother discomposed her, and overclouded the gay look of her eyes; she strove by a thousand caresses and little attentions to work herself into favour; and she so far succeeded that the good lady grew a little more communicative.

In the evening, when the wedding-dance began, she said, "Ah, child! this merry dance it might have been thy part to[Pg 20] lead off. What a pleasure, hadst thou recompensed thy mother's care and toil with this joy! But thou hast mocked thy happiness, and now I shall never see the day when I am to attend thee to the altar."—"Dear mother," answered Meta, "I confide in Heaven; and if it is written above that I am to be led to the altar, you will surely deck my garland: for when the right wooer comes, my heart will soon say Yes."—"Child, for girls without dowry there is no press of wooers; they are heavy ware to trade with. Nowadays the bachelors are mighty stingy; they court to be happy, not to make happy. Besides, thy planet bodes thee no good; thou wert born in April. Let us see how it is written in the Calendar: 'A damsel born in this month is comely of countenance, slender of shape, but of changeful humour, has a liking to men. Should have an eye upon her maiden garland, and so a laughing wooer come, not miss her fortune.' Alas, it answers to a hair! The wooer has been here, comes not again: thou hast missed him."—"Ah, mother! let the planet say its pleasure, never mind it; my heart says to me that I should love and honour the man who asks me to be his wife: and if I do not find that man, or he do not seek me, I will live in good courage by the labour of my hands, and stand by you, and nurse you in your old age, as beseems a good daughter. But if the man of my heart do come, then bless my choice, that it may be well with your daughter on the Earth; and ask not whether he is noble, rich, or famous, but whether he is good and honest, whether he loves and is loved."—"Ah, daughter! Love keeps a sorry kitchen, and feeds one poorly, along with bread and salt."—"But yet Unity and Contentment delight to dwell with him, and these season bread and salt with the cheerful enjoyment of our days."

The pregnant subject of bread and salt continued to be sifted till the night was far spent, and the last fiddle in the wedding-dance was resting from its labours. The moderation of the prudent Meta, who, with youth and beauty on her side, pretended only to an altogether bounded happiness, after having turned away an advantageous offer, led the mother to conjecture that the plan of some such salt-trade might already have been sketched in the heart of the virgin. Nor did she fail to guess the trading-partner in the lane, of whom she never had believed that he would be the tree for rooting in the lovely Meta's heart. She had looked upon him only as a wild tendril, that stretches out towards every neighbouring twig, to clamber up by means of it. This discovery[Pg 21] procured her little joy; but she gave no hint that she had made it. Only, in the spirit of her rigorous morality, she compared a maiden who lets love, before the priestly benediction, nestle in her heart, to a worm-eaten apple, which is good for the eye, but no longer for the palate, and is laid upon a shelf and no more heeded, for the pernicious worm is eating its internal marrow, and cannot be dislodged. She now despaired of ever holding up her head again in Bremen; submitted to her fate, and bore in silence what she thought was now not to be altered.

Meanwhile the rumour of the proud Meta's having given the rich Hop-King the basket, spread over the town, and sounded even into Franz's garret in the alley. Franz was transported with joy to hear this tale confirmed; and the secret anxiety lest some wealthy rival might expel him from the dear maiden's heart tormented him no more. He was now certain of his object; and the riddle, which for every one continued an insoluble problem, had no mystery for him. Love had already changed a spendthrift into a dilettante; but this for a bride-seeker was the very smallest of recommendations, a gift which in those rude times was rewarded neither with such praise nor with such pudding, as it is in our luxurious century. The fine arts were not then children of superfluity, but of want and necessity. No travelling professors were at that time known, save the Prague students, whose squeaking symphonies solicited a charitable coin at the doors of the rich. The beloved maiden's sacrifice was too great to be repaid by a serenade. And now the feeling of his youthful dissipation became a thorn in the soul of Franz. Many a touching monodrama did he begin with an O and an Ah, besighing his past madness: "Ah, Meta," said he to himself, "why did I not know thee sooner! Thou hadst been my guardian angel, thou hadst saved me from destruction. Could I live my lost years over again, and be what I was, the world were now Elysium for me, and for thee I would make it an Eden! Noble maiden, thou sacrificest thyself to a wretch, to a beggar, who has nothing in the world but a heart full of love, and despair that he can offer thee no happiness such as thou deservest." Innumerable times, in the paroxysms of these pathetic humours, he struck his brow in fury, with the repentant exclamation: "O fool! O madman! thou art wise too late."

Love, however, did not leave its working incomplete. It had already brought about a wholesome fermentation in his spirit, a[Pg 22] desire to put in use his powers and activity, to try if he might struggle up from his present nothingness: it now incited him to the attempt of executing these good purposes. Among many speculations he had entertained for the recruiting of his wrecked finances, the most rational and promising was this: To run over his father's ledgers, and there note down any small escheats which had been marked as lost, with a view of going through the land, and gleaning, if so were that a lock of wheat might still be gathered from these neglected ears. With the produce of this enterprise, he would then commence some little traffic, which his fancy soon extended over all the quarters of the world. Already, in his mind's eye, he had vessels on the sea, which were freighted with his property. He proceeded rapidly to execute his purpose; changed the last golden fragment of his heritage, his father's hour-egg,[5] into money, and bought with it a riding nag, which was to bear him as a Bremen merchant out into the wide world.

[5] The oldest watches, from the shape they had, were named hour-eggs.

Yet the parting with his fair Meta went sore against his heart. "What will she think," said he to himself, "of this sudden disappearance, when thou shalt no more meet her in the church-way? Will she not regard thee as faithless, and banish thee from her heart?" This thought afflicted him exceedingly; and for a great while he could think of no expedient for explaining to her his intention. But at last inventive Love suggested the idea of signifying to her from the pulpit itself his absence and its purpose. With this view, in the church, which had already favoured the secret understanding of the lovers, he bought a Prayer "for a young Traveller, and the happy arrangement of his affairs;" which was to last, till he should come again and pay his groschen for the Thanksgiving.

At the last meeting, he had dressed himself as for the road; he passed quite near his sweetheart; saluted her expressively, and with less reserve than before; so that she blushed deeply; and Mother Brigitta found opportunity for various marginal notes, which indicated her displeasure at the boldness of this ill-bred fop, in attempting to get speech of her daughter, and with which she entertained the latter not in the most pleasant style the livelong day. From that morning Franz was no more seen in Bremen, and the finest pair of eyes within its circuit sought for him in vain. Meta often heard the Prayer read, but she did not heed[Pg 23] it, for her heart was troubled because her lover had become invisible. This disappearance was inexplicable to her; she knew not what to think of it. After the lapse of some months, when time had a little softened her secret care, and she was suffering his absence with a calmer mind, it happened once, as the last appearance of her love was hovering upon her fancy, that this same Prayer struck her as a strange matter. She coupled one thing with another, she guessed the true connexion of the business, and the meaning of that notice. And although church litanies and special prayers have not the reputation of extreme potency, and for the worthy souls that lean on them are but a supple staff, inasmuch as the fire of devotion in the Christian flock is wont to die out at the end of the sermon; yet in the pious Meta's case, the reading of the last Prayer was the very thing which fanned that fire into a flame; and she never neglected, with her whole heart, to recommend the young traveller to his guardian angel.

Under this invisible guidance, Franz was journeying towards Brabant, to call in some considerable sums that were due him at Antwerp. A journey from Bremen to Antwerp, in the time when road-blockades were still in fashion, and every landlord thought himself entitled to plunder any traveller who had purchased no safe-conduct, and to leave him pining in the ward-room of his tower, was an undertaking of more peril and difficulty, than in our days would attend a journey from Bremen to Kamtschatka: for the Land-fried (or Act for suppressing Private Wars), which the Emperor Maximilian had proclaimed, was in force through the Empire, rather as a law than an observance. Nevertheless our solitary traveller succeeded in arriving at the goal of his pilgrimage, without encountering more than a single adventure.

Far in the wastes of Westphalia, he rode one sultry day till nightfall, without reaching any inn. Towards evening stormy clouds towered up at the horizon, and a heavy rain wetted him to the skin. To the fondling, who from his youth had been accustomed to all possible conveniences, this was a heavy matter, and he felt himself in great embarrassment how in this condition he should pass the night. To his comfort, when the tempest had moved away, he saw a light in the distance; and soon after, reached a mean peasant hovel, which afforded him but little consolation. The house was more like a cattle-stall than a human habitation; and the unfriendly landlord refused him fire and water,[Pg 24] as if he had been an outlaw. For the man was just about to stretch himself upon the straw among his steers; and too tired to relight the fire on his hearth, for the sake of a stranger. Franz in his despondency uplifted a mournful miserere, and cursed the Westphalian steppes with strong maledictions: but the peasant took it all in good part; and blew out his light with great composure, troubling himself no farther about the stranger; for in the laws of hospitality he was altogether uninstructed. But as the wayfarer, standing at the door, would not cease to annoy him with his lamentations, he endeavoured in a civil way to get rid of him, consented to answer, and said: "Master, if you want good entertainment, and would treat yourself handsomely, you could not find what you are seeking here. But ride there to the left hand, through the bushes; a little way behind, lies the Castle of the valiant Eberhard Bronkhorst, a knight who lodges every traveller, as a Hospitaller does the pilgrims from the Holy Sepulchre. He has just one maggot in his head, which sometimes twitches and vexes him; he lets no traveller depart from him unbasted. If you do not lose your way, though he may dust your jacket, you will like your cheer prodigiously."

To buy a mess of pottage, and a stoup of wine, by surrendering one's ribs to the bastinado, is in truth no job for every man, though your spungers and plate-lickers let themselves be tweaked and snubbed, and from rich artists willingly endure all kinds of tar-and-feathering, so their palates be but tickled for the service. Franz considered for a while, and was undetermined what to do; at last he resolved on fronting the adventure. "What is it to me," said he, "whether my back be broken here on miserable straw, or by the Ritter Bronkhorst? The friction will expel the fever which is coming on, and shake me tightly if I cannot dry my clothes." He put spurs to his nag, and soon arrived before a castle-gate of old Gothic architecture; knocked pretty plainly on the iron door, and an equally distinct "Who's there?" resounded from within. To the freezing passenger, the long entrance ceremonial of this door-keeper precognition was as inconvenient, as are similar delays to travellers who, at barriers and gates of towns, bewail or execrate the despotism of guards and tollmen. Nevertheless he must submit to use and wont, and patiently wait to see whether the philanthropist in the Castle was disposed that night for cudgelling a guest, or would choose rather to assign him a couch under the open canopy.

[Pg 25]

The possessor of this ancient tower had served, in his youth, as a stout soldier in the Emperor's army, under the bold Georg von Fronsberg, and led a troop of foot against the Venetians; had afterwards retired to repose, and was now living on his property; where, to expiate the sins of his campaigns, he employed himself in doing good works; in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, lodging pilgrims, and cudgelling his lodgers out of doors. For he was a rude wild son of war; and could not lay aside his martial tone, though he had lived for many years in silent peace. The traveller, who had now determined for good quarters to submit to the custom of the house, had not waited long till the bolts and locks began rattling within, and the creaking gate-leaves moved asunder, moaning in doleful notes, as if to warn or to deplore the entering stranger. Franz felt one cold shudder after the other running down his back, as he passed in; nevertheless he was handsomely received; some servants hastened to assist him in dismounting; speedily unbuckled his luggage, took his steed to the stable, and its rider to a large well-lighted chamber, where their master was in waiting.

The warlike aspect of this athletic gentleman,—who advanced to meet his guest, and shook him by the hand so heartily, that he was like to shout with pain, and bade him welcome with a Stentor's voice, as if the stranger had been deaf, and seemed withal to be a person still in the vigour of life, full of fire and strength,—put the timorous wanderer into such a terror, that he could not hide his apprehensions, and began to tremble over all his body.

"What ails you, my young master," asked the Ritter, with a voice of thunder, "that you quiver like an aspen-leaf, and look as pale as if Death had you by the throat?"

Franz plucked up a spirit; and considering that his shoulders had at all events the score to pay, his poltroonery passed into a species of audacity.

"Sir," replied he, "you perceive that the rain has soaked me, as if I had swum across the Weser. Let me have my clothes dried or changed; and get me, by way of luncheon, a well-spiced aleberry, to drive away the ague-fit that is quaking through my nerves; then I shall come to heart, in some degree."

"Good!" replied the Knight; "demand what you want; you are at home here."

Franz made himself be served like a bashaw; and having nothing else but currying to expect, he determined to deserve it;[Pg 26] he bantered and bullied, in his most imperious style, the servants that were waiting on him; it comes all to one, thought he, in the long-run. "This waistcoat," said he, "would go round a tun; bring me one that fits a little better: this slipper burns like a coal against my corns; pitch it over the lists: this ruff is stiff as a plank, and throttles me like a halter; bring one that is easier, and is not plastered with starch."

At this Bremish frankness, the landlord, far from showing any anger, kept inciting his servants to go briskly through with their commands, and calling them a pack of blockheads, who were fit to serve no stranger. The table being furnished, the Ritter and his guest sat down to it, and both heartily enjoyed their aleberry. The Ritter asked: "Would you have aught farther, by way of supper?"

"Bring us what you have," said Franz, "that I may see how your kitchen is provided."

Immediately appeared the Cook, and placed upon the table a repast with which a duke might have been satisfied. Franz diligently fell to, without waiting to be pressed. When he had satisfied himself: "Your kitchen," said he, "is not ill-furnished, I perceive; if your cellar corresponds to it, I shall almost praise your housekeeping."

Bronkhorst nodded to his Butler, who directly filled the cup of welcome with common table wine, tasted, and presented it to his master, and the latter cleared it at a draught to the health of his guest. Franz pledged him honestly, and Bronkhorst asked: "Now, fair sir, what say you to the wine?"

"I say," answered Franz, "that it is bad, if it is the best sort in your catacombs; and good, if it is your meanest number."

"You are a judge," replied the Ritter: "Here, Butler, bring us of the mother-cask."

The Butler put a stoup upon the table, as a sample, and Franz having tasted it, said, "Ay, this is genuine last year's growth; we will stick by this."

The Ritter made a vast pitcher of it be brought in; soon drank himself into hilarity and glee beside his guest; began to talk of his campaigns, how he had been encamped against the Venetians, had broken through their barricado, and butchered the Italian squadrons, like a flock of sheep. In this narrative he rose into such a warlike enthusiasm, that he hewed down bottles and[Pg 27] glasses, brandishing the carving-knife like a lance, and in the fire of action came so near his messmate with it, that the latter was in fright for his nose and ears.

It grew late, but no sleep came into the eyes of the Ritter; he seemed to be in his proper element, when he got to speak of his Venetian campaigns. The vivacity of his narration increased with every cup he emptied; and Franz was afraid that this would prove the prologue to the melodrama, in which he himself was to play the most interesting part. To learn whether it was meant that he should lodge within the Castle, or without, he demanded a bumper by way of good-night. Now, he thought, his host would first force him to drink more wine, and if he refused, would, under pretext of a drinking quarrel, send him forth, according to the custom of the house, with the usual viaticum. Contrary to his expectation, the request was granted without remonstrance; the Ritter instantly cut asunder the thread of his narrative, and said: "Time will wait on no one; more of it tomorrow!"

"Pardon me, Herr Ritter," answered Franz, "tomorrow by sunrise I must over hill and dale; I am travelling a far journey to Brabant, and must not linger here. So let me take leave of you tonight, that my departure may not disturb you in the morning."

"Do your pleasure," said the Ritter; "but depart from this you shall not, till I am out of the feathers, to refresh you with a bit of bread, and a toothful of Dantzig, then attend you to the door, and dismiss you according to the fashion of the house."

Franz needed no interpretation of these words. Willingly as he would have excused his host this last civility, attendance to the door, the latter seemed determined to abate no whit of the established ritual. He ordered his servants to undress the stranger, and put him in the guest's-bed; where Franz, once settled on elastic swan's down, felt himself extremely snug, and enjoyed delicious rest; so that ere he fell asleep, he owned to himself that, for such royal treatment, a moderate bastinado was not too dear a price. Soon pleasant dreams came hovering round his fancy. He found his charming Meta in a rosy grove, where she was walking with her mother, plucking flowers. Instantly he hid himself behind a thick-leaved hedge, that the rigorous duenna might not see him. Again his imagination placed him in the alley, and by his looking-glass he saw the snow-white hand of the maiden busied with her flowers; soon he was sitting with her on the grass, and longing to declare his heartfelt love to her, and[Pg 28] the bashful shepherd found no words to do it in. He would have dreamed till broad mid-day, had he not been roused by the sonorous voice and clanking spurs of the Ritter, who, with the earliest dawn, was holding a review of kitchen and cellar, ordering a sufficient breakfast to be readied, and placing every servant at his post, to be at hand when the guest should awake, to dress him, and wait upon him.

It cost the happy dreamer no small struggling to forsake his safe and hospitable bed. He rolled to this side and to that; but the pealing voice of the worshipful Knight came heavy on his heart; and dally as he might, the sour apple must at last be bit. So he rose from his down; and immediately a dozen hands were busy dressing him. The Ritter led him into the parlour, where a small well-furnished table waited them; but now, when the hour of reckoning had arrived, the traveller's appetite was gone. The host endeavoured to encourage him. "Why do you not get to? Come, take somewhat for the raw foggy morning."

"Herr Ritter," answered Franz, "my stomach is still too full of your supper; but my pockets are empty; these I may fill for the hunger that is to come."

With this he began stoutly cramming, and stowed himself with the daintiest and best that was transportable, till all his pockets were bursting. Then, observing that his horse, well curried and equipt, was led past, he took a dram of Dantzig for good-b'ye, in the thought that this would be the watch-word for his host to catch him by the neck, and exercise his household privileges.

But, to his astonishment, the Ritter shook him kindly by the hand, as at his first entrance, wished him luck by the way, and the bolted door was thrown open. He loitered not in putting spurs to his nag; and, tip! tap! he was without the gate, and no hair of him harmed.

A heavy stone was lifted from his heart as he found himself in safety, and saw that he had got away with a whole skin. He could not understand how the landlord had trusted him the shot, which, as he imagined, must have run pretty high on the chalk; and he embraced with warm love the hospitable man, whose club-law arm he had so much dreaded; and he felt a strong desire to search out, at the fountain-head, the reason or unreason of the ill report which had affrighted him. Accordingly he turned his horse, and cantered back. The Knight was still standing in the[Pg 29] gate, and descanting with his servants, for the forwarding of the science of horse-flesh, on the breed, shape and character of the nag, and his hard pace: he supposed the stranger must have missed something in his travelling gear, and he already looked askance at his servants for such negligence.

"What is it, young master," cried he, "that makes you turn again, when you were for proceeding?"

"Ah! yet a word, valiant Knight," cried the traveller. "An ill report has gone abroad, that injures your name and breeding. It is said that you treat every stranger that calls upon you with your best; and then, when he leaves you, let him feel the weight of your strong fists. This story I have credited, and spared nothing to deserve my due from you. I thought within myself, His worship will abate me nothing; I will abate him as little. But now you let me go, without strife or peril; and that is what surprises me. Pray tell me, is there any shadow of foundation for the thing; or shall I call the foolish chatter lies next time I hear it?"

The Ritter answered: "Report has nowise told you lies; there is no saying that circulates among the people but contains in it some grain of truth. Let me tell you accurately how the matter stands. I lodge every stranger that comes beneath my roof, and divide my morsel with him, for the love of God. But I am a plain German man, of the old cut and fashion; speak as it lies about my heart, and require that my guest also should be hearty and confiding; should enjoy with me what I have, and tell frankly what he wants. Now, there is a sort of people that vex me with all manner of grimaces; that banter me with smirkings, and bows, and crouchings; put all their words to the torture; make a deal of talk without sense or salt; think they will cozen me with smooth speeches; behave at dinner as women at a christening. If I say, Help yourself! out of reverence, they pick you a fraction from the plate which I would not offer to my dog: if I say, Your health! they scarcely wet their lips from the full cup, as if they set God's gifts at naught. Now, when the sorry rabble carry things too far with me, and I cannot, for the soul of me, know what they would be at, I get into a rage at last, and use my household privilege; catch the noodle by the spall, thrash him sufficiently, and pack him out of doors. This is the use and wont with me, and I do so with every guest that plagues me with these freaks. But a man of your stamp is always[Pg 30] welcome: you told me plump out in plain German what you thought, as is the fashion with the Bremers. Call on me boldly again, if your road lead you hither. And so, God be with you."

Franz now moved on, with a joyful humour, towards Antwerp; and he wished that he might everywhere find such a reception as he had met with from the Ritter Eberhard Bronkhorst. On approaching the ancient queen of the Flemish cities, the sail of his hope was swelled by a propitious breeze. Riches and superfluity met him in every street; and it seemed as if scarcity and want had been exiled from the busy town. In all probability, thought he, there must be many of my father's debtors who have risen again, and will gladly make me full payment whenever I substantiate my claims. After resting for a while from his fatigues, he set about obtaining, in the inn where he was quartered, some preliminary knowledge of the situation of his debtors.

"How stands it with Peter Martens?" inquired he one day of his companions at table; "is he still living, and doing much business?"

"Peter Martens is a warm man," answered one of the party; "has a brisk commission trade, and draws good profit from it."

"Is Fabian van Plürs still in good circumstances?"

"O! there is no end to Fabian's wealth. He is a Councillor; his woollen manufactories are thriving incredibly."

"Has Jonathan Frischkier good custom in his trade?"

"Ah! Jonathan were now a brisk fellow, had not Kaiser Max let the French chouse him out of his Princess.[6] Jonathan had got the furnishing of the lace for the bride's dress; but the Kaiser has left poor Frischkier in the lurch, as the bride has left himself. If you have a fair one, whom you would remember with a bit of lace, he will give it you at half-price."

[6] Anne of Brittany.

"Is the firm Op de Bütekant still standing, or has it sunk?"

"There was a crack in the beams there some years ago; but the Spanish caravelles have put a new prop to it, and it now holds fast."

Franz inquired about several other merchants who were on his list; found that most of them, though in his father's time they had "failed," were now standing firmly on their legs; and inferred from this, that a judicious bankruptcy has, from of old, been the mine of future gains. This intelligence refreshed him[Pg 31] mightily: he hastened to put his documents in order, and submit them to the proper parties. But with the Antwerpers, he fared as his itinerating countrymen do with shopkeepers in the German towns: they find everywhere a friendly welcome at their first appearance, but are looked upon with cheerfulness nowhere when they come collecting debts. Some would have nothing to do with these former sins; and were of opinion, that by the tender of the legal five-per-cent composition they had been entirely abolished: it was the creditor's fault if he had not accepted payment in time. Others could not recollect any Melchior of Bremen; opened their Infallible Books; found no debtor-entry marked for this unknown name. Others, again, brought out a strong counter-reckoning; and three days had not passed till Franz was sitting in the Debtors' Ward, to answer for his father's credit, not to depart till he had paid the uttermost farthing.

These were not the best prospects for the young man, who had set his hope and trust upon the Antwerp patrons of his fortune, and now saw the fair soap-bubble vanish quite away. In his strait confinement, he felt himself in the condition of a soul in Purgatory, now that his skiff had run ashore and gone to pieces, in the middle of the haven where he thought to find security. Every thought of Meta was as a thorn in his heart; there was now no shadow of a possibility, that from the whirlpool which had sunk him, he could ever rise, and stretch out his hand to her; nor, suppose he should get his head above water, was it in poor Meta's power to pull him on dry land. He fell into a sullen desperation; had no wish but to die speedily, and give his woes the slip at once; and, in fact, he did attempt to kill himself by starvation. But this is a sort of death which is not at the beck of every one, so ready as the shrunk Pomponius Atticus found it, when his digestive apparatus had already struck work. A sound peptic stomach does not yield so tamely to the precepts of the head or heart. After the moribund debtor had abstained two days from food, a ravenous hunger suddenly usurped the government of his will, and performed, of its own authority, all the operations which, in other cases, are directed by the mind. It ordered his hand to seize the spoon, his mouth to receive the victual, his inferior maxillary jaw to get in motion, and itself accomplished the usual functions of digestion, unordered. Thus did this last resolve make shipwreck, on a hard bread-crust; for, in the seven-and-twentieth year of life, it has a[Pg 32] heroism connected with it, which in the seven-and-seventieth is entirely gone.

At bottom, it was not the object of the barbarous Antwerpers to squeeze money from the pretended debtor, but only to pay him none, as his demands were not admitted to be liquid. Whether it were, then, that the public Prayer in Bremen had in truth a little virtue, or that the supposed creditors were not desirous of supporting a superfluous boarder for life, true it is, that after the lapse of three months Franz was delivered from his imprisonment, under the condition of leaving the city within four-and-twenty hours, and never again setting foot on the soil and territory of Antwerp. At the same time, he received five crowns for travelling expenses from the faithful hands of Justice, which had taken charge of his horse and luggage, and conscientiously balanced the produce of the same against judicial and curatory expenses.

With heavy-laden heart, in the humblest mood, with his staff in his hand, he left the rich city, into which he had ridden some time ago with high-soaring hopes. Broken down, and undetermined what to do, or rather altogether without thought, he plodded through the streets to the nearest gate, not minding whither the road into which chance conducted him might lead. He saluted no traveller, he asked for no inn, except when fatigue or hunger forced him to lift up his eyes, and look around for some church-spire, or sign of human habitation, when he needed human aid. Many days he had wandered on, as if unconsciously; and a secret instinct had still, by means of his uncrazed feet, led him right forward on the way to home; when, all at once, he awoke as from an oppressive dream, and perceived on what road he was travelling.

He halted instantly, to consider whether he should proceed or turn back. Shame and confusion took possession of his soul, when he thought of skulking about in his native town as a beggar, branded with the mark of contempt, and claiming the charitable help of his townsmen, whom of old he had eclipsed by his wealth and magnificence. And how in this form could he present himself before his fair Meta, without disgracing the choice of her heart? He did not leave his fancy time to finish this doleful picture; but wheeled about to take the other road, as hastily as if he had been standing even then at the gate of Bremen, and the ragged apprentices had been assembling to accompany him with jibes and[Pg 33] mockery through the streets. His purpose was formed: he would make for the nearest seaport in the Netherlands; engage as sailor in a Spanish ship, to work his passage to the new world; and not return to his country, till in the Peruvian land of gold he should have regained the wealth, which he had squandered so heedlessly, before he knew the worth of money. In the shaping of this new plan, it is true, the fair Meta fell so far into the background, that even to the sharpest prophetic eye she could only hover as a faint shadow in the distance; yet the wandering projector pleased himself with thinking that she was again interwoven with the scheme of his life; and he took large steps, as if by this rapidity he meant to reach her so much the sooner.

Already he was on the Flemish soil once more; and found himself at sunset not far from Rheinberg, in a little hamlet, Rummelsburg by name, which has since, in the Thirty-Years War, been utterly destroyed. A caravan of carriers from Lyke had already filled the inn, so that Mine Host had no room left, and referred him to the next town; the rather that he did not draw too flattering a presage from his present vagabond physiognomy, and held him to be a thieves' purveyor, who had views upon the Lyke carriers. He was forced, notwithstanding his excessive weariness, to gird himself for march, and again to take his bundle on his back.

As in retiring, he was muttering between his teeth some bitter complaints and curses of the Landlord's hardness of heart, the latter seemed to take some pity on the forlorn wayfarer, and called after him, from the door: "Stay, neighbour, let me speak to you: if you wish to rest here, I can accommodate you after all. In that Castle there are empty rooms enow, if they be not too lonely; it is not inhabited, and I have got the keys." Franz accepted the proposal with joy, praised it as a deed of mercy, and requested only shelter and a supper, were it in a castle or a cottage. Mine Host, however, was privily a rogue, whom it had galled to hear the stranger drop some half-audible contumelies against him, and meant to be avenged on him, by a Hobgoblin that inhabited the old fortress, and had many long years before expelled the owners.

The Castle lay hard by the hamlet, on a steep rock, right opposite the inn, from which it was divided merely by the highway, and a little gurgling brook. The situation being so agreeable, the edifice was still kept in repair, and well provided with[Pg 34] all sorts of house-gear; for it served the owner as a hunting-lodge, where he frequently caroused all day; and so soon as the stars began to twinkle in the sky, retired with his whole retinue, to escape the mischief of the Ghost, who rioted about in it the whole night over, but by day gave no disturbance. Unpleasant as the owner felt this spoiling of his mansion by a bugbear, the nocturnal sprite was not without advantages, for the great security it gave from thieves. The Count could have appointed no trustier or more watchful keeper over the Castle, than this same Spectre, for the rashest troop of robbers never ventured to approach its station. Accordingly he knew of no safer place for laying up his valuables, than this old tower, in the hamlet of Rummelsburg, near Rheinberg.

The sunshine had sunk, the dark night was coming heavily on, when Franz, with a lantern in his hand, proceeded to the castle-gate, under the guidance of Mine Host, who carried in his hand a basket of victuals, with a flask of wine, which he said should not be marked against him. He had also taken along with him a pair of candlesticks, and two wax-lights; for in the whole Castle there was neither lamp nor taper, as no one ever stayed in it after twilight. In the way, Franz noticed the creaking heavy-laden basket, and the wax-lights, which he thought he should not need, and yet must pay for. Therefore he said: "What is this superfluity and waste, as at a banquet? The light in the lantern is enough to see with, till I go to bed; and when I awake, the sun will be high enough, for I am tired completely, and shall sleep with both eyes."

"I will not hide from you," replied the Landlord, "that a story runs of there being mischief in the Castle, and a Goblin that frequents it. You, however, need not let the thing disturb you; we are near enough, you see, for you to call us, should you meet with aught unnatural; I and my folks will be at your hand in a twinkling, to assist you. Down in the house there we keep astir all night through, some one is always moving. I have lived here these thirty years; yet I cannot say that I have ever seen aught. If there be now and then a little hurly-burlying at nights, it is nothing but cats and martins rummaging about the granary. As a precaution, I have provided you with candles: the night is no friend of man; and the tapers are consecrated, so that sprites, if there be such in the Castle, will avoid their shine."

It was no lying in Mine Host to say that he had never seen[Pg 35] anything of spectres in the Castle; for by night he had taken special care not once to set foot in it; and by day the Goblin did not come to sight. In the present case, too, the traitor would not risk himself across the border. After opening the door, he handed Franz the basket, directed him what way to go, and wished him good-night. Franz entered the lobby without anxiety or fear; believing the ghost-story to be empty tattle, or a distorted tradition of some real occurrence in the place, which idle fancy had shaped into an unnatural adventure. He remembered the stout Ritter Eberhard Bronkhorst, from whose heavy arm he had apprehended such maltreatment, and with whom, notwithstanding, he had found so hospitable a reception. On this ground he had laid it down as a rule deduced from his travelling experiences, when he heard any common rumour, to believe exactly the reverse, and left the grain of truth, which, in the opinion of the wise Knight, always lies in such reports, entirely out of sight.

Pursuant to Mine Host's direction, he ascended the winding stone stair; and reached a bolted door, which he opened with his key. A long dark gallery, where his footsteps resounded, led him into a large hall, and from this, a side-door, into a suite of apartments, richly provided with all furniture for decoration or convenience. Out of these he chose the room which had the friendliest aspect, where he found a well-pillowed bed; and from the window could look right down upon the inn, and catch every loud word that was spoken there. He lit his wax-tapers, furnished his table, and feasted with the commodiousness and relish of an Otaheitean noble. The big-bellied flask was an antidote to thirst. So long as his teeth were in full occupation, he had no time to think of the reported devilry in the Castle. If aught now and then made a stir in the distance, and Fear called to him, "Hark! hark! there comes the Goblin;" Courage answered: "Stuff! it is cats and martins bickering and caterwauling." But in the digestive half-hour after meat, when the sixth sense, that of hunger and thirst, no longer occupied the soul, she directed her attention from the other five exclusively upon the sense of hearing; and already Fear was whispering three timid thoughts into the listener's ear, before Courage had time to answer once.

As the first resource, he locked the door, and bolted it; made his retreat to the walled seat in the vault of the window. He opened this, and to dissipate his thoughts a little, looked out on the spangled sky, gazed at the corroded moon, and counted how[Pg 36] often the stars snuffed themselves. On the road beneath him all was void; and in spite of the pretended nightly bustle in the inn, the doors were shut, the lights out, and everything as still as in a sepulchre. On the other hand, the watchman blew his horn, making his "List, gentlemen!" sound over all the hamlet; and for the composure of the timorous astronomer, who still kept feasting his eyes on the splendour of the stars, uplifted a rusty evening-hymn right under his window; so that Franz might easily have carried on a conversation with him, which, for the sake of company, he would willingly have done, had he in the least expected that the watchman would make answer to him.

In a populous city, in the middle of a numerous household, where there is a hubbub equal to that of a bee-hive, it may form a pleasant entertainment for the thinker to philosophise on Solitude, to decorate her as the loveliest playmate of the human spirit, to view her under all her advantageous aspects, and long for her enjoyment as for hidden treasure. But in scenes where she is no exotic, in the isle of Juan Fernandez, where a solitary eremite, escaped from shipwreck, lives with her through long years; or in the dreary night-time, in a deep wood, or in an old uninhabited castle, where empty walls and vaults awaken horror, and nothing breathes of life, but the moping owl in the ruinous turret; there, in good sooth, she is not the most agreeable companion for the timid anchorite that has to pass his time in her abode, especially if he is every moment looking for the entrance of a spectre to augment the party. In such a case it may easily chance that a window conversation with the watchman shall afford a richer entertainment for the spirit and the heart, than a reading of the most attractive eulogy on solitude. If Ritter Zimmermann had been in Franz's place, in the castle of Rummelsburg, on the Westphalian marches, he would doubtless in this position have struck out the fundamental topics of as interesting a treatise on Society, as, inspired to all appearance by the irksomeness of some ceremonious assembly, he has poured out from the fulness of his heart in praise of Solitude.

Midnight is the hour at which the world of spirits acquires activity and life, when hebetated animal nature lies entombed in deep slumber. Franz inclined getting through this critical hour in sleep rather than awake; so he closed his window, went the rounds of his room once more, spying every nook and crevice, to see whether all was safe and earthly; snuffed the lights to make[Pg 37] them burn clearer; and without undressing or delaying, threw himself upon his bed, with which his wearied person felt unusual satisfaction. Yet he could not get asleep so fast as he wished. A slight palpitation at the heart, which he ascribed to a tumult in the blood, arising from the sultriness of the day, kept him waking for a while; and he failed not to employ this respite in offering up such a pithy evening prayer as he had not prayed for many years. This produced the usual effect, that he softly fell asleep while saying it.

After about an hour, as he supposed, he started up with a sudden terror; a thing not at all surprising when there is tumult in the blood. He was broad awake: he listened whether all was quiet, and heard nothing but the clock strike twelve; a piece of news which the watchman forthwith communicated to the hamlet in doleful recitative. Franz listened for a while, turned on the other side, and was again about to sleep, when he caught, as it were, the sound of a door grating in the distance, and immediately it shut with a stifled bang. "Alake! alake!" bawled Fright into his ear; "this is the Ghost in very deed!"—"'Tis nothing but the wind," said Courage manfully. But quickly it came nearer, nearer, like the sound of heavy footsteps. Clink here, clink there, as if a criminal were rattling his irons, or as if the porter were walking about the Castle with his bunch of keys. Alas, here was no wind business! Courage held his peace; and quaking Fear drove all the blood to the heart, and made it thump like a smith's fore-hammer.

The thing was now beyond jesting. If Fear would still have let Courage get a word, the latter would have put the terror-struck watcher in mind of his subsidiary treaty with Mine Host, and incited him to claim the stipulated assistance loudly from the window; but for this there was a want of proper resolution. The quaking Franz had recourse to the bed-clothes, the last fortress of the timorous, and drew them close over his ears, as Bird Ostrich sticks his head in the grass, when he can no longer escape the huntsman. Outside it came along, door up, door to, with hideous uproar; and at last it reached the bed-room. It jerked sharply at the lock, tried several keys till it found the right one; yet the bar still held the door, till a bounce like a thunder-clap made bolt and rivet start, and threw it wide open. Now stalked in a long lean man, with a black beard, in ancient garb, and with a gloomy countenance, his eyebrows hanging down in deep earnestness from his[Pg 38] brow. Over his right shoulder he had a scarlet cloak; and on his head he wore a peaked hat. With a heavy step he walked thrice in silence up and down the chamber; looked at the consecrated tapers, and snuffed them that they might burn brighter. Then he threw aside his cloak, girded on a scissor-pouch which he had under it, produced a set of shaving-tackle, and immediately began to whet a sharp razor on the broad strap which he wore at his girdle.

Franz perspired in mortal agony under his coverlet; recommended himself to the keeping of the Virgin; and anxiously speculated on the object of this manœuvre, not knowing whether it was meant for his throat or his beard. To his comfort, the Goblin poured some water from a silver flask into a basin of silver, and with his skinny hand lathered the soap into light foam; then set a chair, and beckoned with a solemn look to the quaking looker-on to come forth from his recess.

Against so pertinent a sign, remonstrance was as bootless as it is against the rigorous commands of the Grand Turk, when he transmits an exiled vizier to the Angel of Death, the Capichi Bashi with the Silken Cord, to take delivery of his head. The most rational procedure that can be adopted in this critical case, is to comply with necessity, put a good face on a bad business, and with stoical composure let one's throat be noosed. Franz honoured the Spectre's order; the coverlet began to move, he sprang sharply from his couch, and took the place pointed out to him on the seat. However strange this quick transition from the uttermost terror to the boldest resolution may appear, I doubt not but Moritz in his Psychological Journal could explain the matter till it seemed quite natural.

Immediately the Goblin Barber tied the towel about his shivering customer; seized the comb and scissors, and clipped off his hair and beard. Then he soaped him scientifically, first the beard, next the eyebrows, at last the temples and the hind-head; and shaved him from throat to nape as smooth and bald as a Death's-head. This operation finished, he washed his head, dried it clean, made his bow, and buttoned-up his scissor-pouch; wrapped himself in his scarlet mantle, and made for departing. The consecrated tapers had burnt with an exquisite brightness through the whole transaction; and Franz, by the light of them, perceived in the mirror that the shaver had changed him into a Chinese pagoda. In secret he heartily deplored the loss of his fair brown locks; yet[Pg 39] now took fresh breath, as he observed that with this sacrifice the account was settled, and the Ghost had no more power over him.

So it was in fact; Redcloak went towards the door, silently as he had entered, without salutation or good-b'ye; and seemed entirely the contrast of his talkative guild-brethren. But scarcely was he gone three steps, when he paused, looked round with a mournful expression at his well-served customer, and stroked the flat of his hand over his black bushy beard. He did the same a second time; and again, just as he was in the act of stepping out at the door. A thought struck Franz that the Spectre wanted something; and a rapid combination of ideas suggested, that perhaps he was expecting the very service he himself had just performed.

As the Ghost, notwithstanding his rueful look, seemed more disposed for banter than for seriousness, and had played his guest a scurvy trick, not done him any real injury, the panic of the latter had now almost subsided. So he ventured the experiment, and beckoned to the Ghost to take the seat from which he had himself just risen. The Goblin instantly obeyed, threw off his cloak, laid his barber tackle on the table, and placed himself in the chair, in the posture of a man that wishes to be shaved. Franz carefully observed the same procedure which the Spectre had observed to him, clipped his beard with the scissors, cropt away his hair, lathered his whole scalp, and the Ghost all the while sat steady as a wig-block. The awkward journeyman came ill at handling the razor: he had never had another in his hand; and he shore the beard right against the hair; whereat the Goblin made as strange grimaces as Erasmus's Ape, when imitating its master's shaving. Nor was the unpractised bungler himself well at ease, and he thought more than once of the sage aphorism, What is not thy trade make not thy business; yet he struggled through the task, the best way he could, and scraped the Ghost as bald as he himself was.

Hitherto the scene between the Spectre and the traveller had been played pantomimically; the action now became dramatic. "Stranger," said the Ghost, "accept my thanks for the service thou hast done me. By thee I am delivered from the long imprisonment, which has chained me for three hundred years within these walls; to which my departed soul was doomed, till a mortal hand should consent to retaliate on me what I practised on others in my lifetime.

[Pg 40]

"Know that of old a reckless scorner dwelt within this tower, who took his sport on priests as well as laics. Count Hardman, such his name, was no philanthropist, acknowledged no superior and no law, but practised vain caprice and waggery, regarding not the sacredness of hospitable rights: the wanderer who came beneath his roof, the needy man who asked a charitable alms of him, he never sent away unvisited by wicked joke. I was his Castle Barber, still a willing instrument, and did whatever pleased him. Many a pious pilgrim, journeying past us, I allured with friendly speeches to the hall; prepared the bath for him, and when he thought to take good comfort, shaved him smooth and bald, and packed him out of doors. Then would Count Hardman, looking from the window, see with pleasure how the foxes' whelps of children gathered from the hamlet to assail the outcast, and to cry as once their fellows to Elisha: 'Baldhead! Baldhead!' In this the scoffer took his pleasure, laughing with a devilish joy, till he would hold his pot-paunch, and his eyes ran down with water.

"Once came a saintly man, from foreign lands; he carried, like a penitent, a heavy cross upon his shoulder, and had stamped five nail-marks on his hands, and feet, and side; upon his head there was a ring of hair like to the Crown of Thorns. He called upon us here, requesting water for his feet, and a small crust of bread. Immediately I took him to the bath, to serve him in my common way; respected not the sacred ring, but shore it clean from off him. Then the pious pilgrim spoke a heavy malison upon me: 'Know, accursed man, that when thou diest, Heaven, and Hell, and Purgatory's iron gate, are shut against thy soul. As goblin it shall rage within these walls, till unrequired, unbid, a traveller come and exercise retaliation on thee.'

"That hour I sickened, and the marrow in my bones dried up; I faded like a shadow. My spirit left the wasted carcass, and was exiled to this Castle, as the saint had doomed it. In vain I struggled for deliverance from the torturing bonds that fettered me to Earth; for thou must know, that when the soul forsakes her clay, she panteth for her place of rest, and this sick longing spins her years to æons, while in foreign element she languishes for home. Now self-tormenting, I pursued the mournful occupation I had followed in my lifetime. Alas! my uproar soon made desolate this house! But seldom came a pilgrim here to lodge. And though I treated all like thee, no one would understand[Pg 41] me, and perform, as thou, the service which has freed my soul from bondage. Henceforth shall no hobgoblin wander in this Castle; I return to my long-wished-for rest. And now, young stranger, once again my thanks, that thou hast loosed me! Were I keeper of deep-hidden treasures, they were thine; but wealth in life was not my lot, nor in this Castle lies there any cash entombed. Yet mark my counsel. Tarry here till beard and locks again shall cover chin and scalp; then turn thee homewards to thy native town; and on the Weser-bridge of Bremen, at the time when day and night in Autumn are alike, wait for a Friend, who there will meet thee, who will tell thee what to do, that it be well with thee on Earth. If from the golden horn of plenty, blessing and abundance flow to thee, then think of me; and ever as the day thou freedst me from the curse comes round, cause for my soul's repose three masses to be said. Now fare thee well. I go, no more returning."[7]

[7] I know not whether the reader has observed that our Author makes the Spectre speak in iambics; a whim which here and there comes over him in other tales also.—Wieland.

With these words the Ghost, having by his copiousness of talk satisfactorily attested his former existence as court-barber in the Castle of Rummelsburg, vanished into air, and left his deliverer full of wonder at the strange adventure. He stood for a long while motionless; in doubt whether the whole matter had actually happened, or an unquiet dream had deluded his senses; but his bald head convinced him that here had been a real occurrence. He returned to bed, and slept, after the fright he had undergone, till the hour of noon. The treacherous Landlord had been watching since morning, when the traveller with the scalp was to come forth, that he might receive him with jibing speeches under pretext of astonishment at his nocturnal adventure. But as the stranger loitered too long, and mid-day was approaching, the affair became serious; and Mine Host began to dread that the Goblin might have treated his guest a little harshly, have beaten him to a jelly perhaps, or so frightened him that he had died of terror; and to carry his wanton revenge to such a length as this had not been his intention. He therefore rang his people together, hastened out with man and maid to the tower, and reached the door of the apartment where he had observed the light on the previous evening. He found an unknown key in the lock; but the door was barred within; for after the disappearance[Pg 42] of the Goblin, Franz had again secured it. He knocked with a perturbed violence, till the Seven Sleepers themselves would have awoke at the din. Franz started up, and thought in his first confusion that the Ghost was again standing at the door, to favour him with another call. But hearing Mine Host's voice, who required nothing more but that his guest would give some sign of life, he gathered himself up and opened the room.

With seeming horror at the sight of him, Mine Host, striking his hands together, exclaimed: "By Heaven and all the saints! Redcloak" (by this name the Ghost was known among them) "has been here, and has shaved you bald as a block! Now, it is clear as day that the old story is no fable. But tell me how looked the Goblin: what did he say to you? what did he do?"

Franz, who had now seen through the questioner, made answer: "The Goblin looked like a man in a red cloak; what he did is not hidden from you, and what he said I well remember: 'Stranger,' said he, 'trust no innkeeper who is a Turk in grain. What would befall thee here he knew. Be wise and happy. I withdraw from this my ancient dwelling, for my time is run. Henceforth no goblin riots here; I now become a silent Incubus, to plague the Landlord; nip him, tweak him, harass him, unless the Turk do expiate his sin; do freely give thee prog and lodging till brown locks again shall cluster round thy head.'"[8]

[8] Here too, on the Spectre's score, Franz makes extempore iambics.—Wieland.

The Landlord shuddered at these words, cut a large cross in the air before him, vowed by the Holy Virgin to give the traveller free board so long as he liked to continue, led him over to his house, and treated him with the best. By this adventure, Franz had well-nigh got the reputation of a conjuror, as the spirit thenceforth never once showed face. He often passed the night in the tower; and a desperado of the village once kept him company, without having beard or scalp disturbed. The owner of the place, having learned that Redcloak no longer walked in Rummelsburg, was, of course, delighted at the news, and ordered that the stranger, who, as he supposed, had laid him, should be well taken care of.

By the time when the clusters were beginning to be coloured on the vine, and the advancing autumn reddened the apples, Franz's brown locks were again curling over his temples, and he girded up his knapsack; for all his thoughts and meditations were turned[Pg 43] upon the Weser-bridge, to seek the Friend, who, at the behest of the Goblin Barber, was to direct him how to make his fortune. When about taking leave of Mine Host, that charitable person led from his stable a horse well saddled and equipt, which the owner of the Castle had presented to the stranger, for having made his house again habitable; nor had the Count forgot to send a sufficient purse along with it, to bear its travelling charges; and so Franz came riding back into his native city, brisk and light of heart, as he had ridden out of it twelve months ago. He sought out his old quarters in the alley, but kept himself quite still and retired; only inquiring underhand how matters stood with the fair Meta, whether she was still alive and unwedded. To this inquiry he received a satisfactory answer, and contented himself with it in the mean while; for, till his fate were decided, he would not risk appearing in her sight, or making known to her his arrival in Bremen.

With unspeakable longing, he waited the equinox; his impatience made every intervening day a year. At last the long-wished-for term appeared. The night before, he could not close an eye, for thinking of the wonders that were coming. The blood was whirling and beating in his arteries, as it had done at the Castle of Rummelsburg, when he lay in expectation of his spectre visitant. To be sure of not missing his expected Friend, he rose by daybreak, and proceeded with the earliest dawn to the Weser-bridge, which as yet stood empty and untrod by passengers. He walked along it several times in solitude, with that presentiment of coming gladness, which includes in it the real enjoyment of all terrestrial felicity; for it is not the attainment of our wishes, but the undoubted hope of attaining them, which offers to the human soul the full measure of highest and most heartfelt satisfaction. He formed many projects as to how he should present himself to his beloved Meta, when his looked-for happiness should have arrived; whether it would be better to appear before her in full splendour, or to mount from his former darkness with the first gleam of morning radiance, and discover to her by degrees the change in his condition. Curiosity, moreover, put a thousand questions to Reason in regard to the adventure. Who can the Friend be that is to meet me on the Weser-bridge? Will it be one of my old acquaintances, by whom, since my ruin, I have been entirely forgotten? How will he pave the way to me for happiness? And will this way be short or long, easy or toilsome?[Pg 44] To the whole of which Reason, in spite of all her thinking and speculating, answered not a word.

In about an hour, the Bridge began to get awake; there was riding, driving, walking to and fro on it; and much commercial ware passing this way and that. The usual day-guard of beggars and importunate persons also by degrees took up this post, so favourable for their trade, to levy contributions on the public benevolence; for of poor-houses and work-houses, the wisdom of the legislature had as yet formed no scheme. The first of the tattered cohort that applied for alms to the jovial promenader, from whose eyes gay hope laughed forth, was a discharged soldier, provided with the military badge of a timber leg, which had been lent him, seeing he had fought so stoutly in former days for his native country, as the recompense of his valour, with the privilege of begging where he pleased; and who now, in the capacity of physiognomist, pursued the study of man upon the Weser-bridge, with such success, that he very seldom failed in his attempts for charity. Nor did his exploratory glance in anywise mislead him in the present instance; for Franz, in the joy of his heart, threw a white engel-groschen into the cripple's hat.

During the morning hours, when none but the laborious artisan is busy, and the more exalted townsman still lies in sluggish rest, he scarcely looked for his promised Friend; he expected him in the higher classes, and took little notice of the present passengers. About the council-hour, however, when the Proceres of Bremen were driving past to the hall, in their gorgeous robes of office, and about exchange-time, he was all eye and ear; he spied the passengers from afar; and when a right man came along the bridge, his blood began to flutter, and he thought here was the creator of his fortune. Meanwhile hour after hour passed on; the sun rose high; ere long the noontide brought a pause in business; the rushing crowd faded away; and still the expected Friend appeared not. Franz now walked up and down the Bridge quite alone; had no society in view but the beggars, who were serving out their cold collations, without moving from the place. He made no scruple to do the same; and, not being furnished with provisions, he purchased some fruit, and took his dinner inter ambulandum.

The whole club that was dining on the Bridge had remarked the young man, watching here from early morning till noon, without addressing any one, or doing any sort of business. They held[Pg 45] him to be a lounger; and though all of them had tasted his bounty, he did not escape their critical remarks. In jest, they had named him the Bridge-bailiff. The physiognomist with the timber-toe, however, noticed that his countenance was not now so gay as in the morning; he appeared to be reflecting earnestly on something; he had drawn his hat close over his face; his movement was slow and thoughtful; he had nibbled at an apple-rind for some time, without seeming to be conscious that he was doing so. From this appearance of affairs, the man-spier thought he might extract some profit; therefore he put his wooden and his living leg in motion, and stilted off to the other end of the Bridge, and lay in wait for the thinker, that he might assail him, under the appearance of a new arrival, for a fresh alms. This invention prospered to the full: the musing philosopher gave no heed to the mendicant, put his hand into his pocket mechanically, and threw a six-groat piece into the fellow's hat, to be rid of him.

In the afternoon, a thousand new faces once more came abroad. The watcher was now tired of his unknown Friend's delaying, yet hope still kept his attention on the stretch. He stept into the view of every passenger, hoped that one of them would clasp him in his arms; but all proceeded coldly on their way; the most did not observe him at all, and few returned his salute with a slight nod. The sun was already verging to decline, the shadows were becoming longer, the crowd upon the Bridge diminished; and the beggar-piquet by degrees drew back into their barracks in the Mattenburg. A deep sadness sank upon the hopeless Franz, when he saw his expectation mocked, and the lordly prospect which had lain before him in the morning vanish from his eyes at evening. He fell into a sort of sulky desperation; was on the point of springing over the parapet, and dashing himself down from the Bridge into the river. But the thought of Meta kept him back, and induced him to postpone his purpose till he had seen her yet once more. He resolved to watch next day when she should go to church, for the last time to drink delight from her looks, and then forthwith to still his warm love forever in the cold stream of the Weser.

While about to leave the Bridge, he was met by the invalided pikeman with the wooden leg, who, for pastime, had been making many speculations as to what could be the young man's object, that had made him watch upon the Bridge from dawn to darkness. He himself had lingered beyond his usual time, that he might wait[Pg 46] him out; but as the matter hung too long upon the pegs, curiosity incited him to turn to the youth himself, and question him respecting it.

"No offence, young gentleman," said he: "allow me to ask you a question."

Franz, who was not in a very talking humour, and was now meeting, from the mouth of a cripple, the address which he had looked for with such longing from a friend, answered rather testily: "Well, then, what is it? Speak, old graybeard!"

"We two," said the other, "were the first upon the Bridge today, and now, you see, we are the last. As to me and others of my kidney, it is our vocation brings us hither, our trade of alms-gathering; but for you, in sooth you are not of our guild; yet you have watched here the whole blessed day. Now I pray you, tell me, if it is not a secret, what it is that brings you hither; or what stone is lying on your heart, that you wished to roll away."

"What good were it to thee, old blade," said Franz bitterly, "to know where the shoe pinches me, or what concern is lying on my heart? It will give thee small care."

"Sir, I have a kind wish towards you, because you opened your hand to me, and twice gave me alms, for which God reward you; but your countenance at night was not so cheerful as in the morning, and that grieves my heart."

The kindly sympathy of this old warrior pleased the misanthrope, so that he willingly pursued the conversation.

"Why, then," answered he, "if thou wouldst know what has made me battle here all day with tedium, thou must understand that I was waiting for a Friend, who appointed me hither, and now leaves me to expect in vain."

"Under favour," answered Timbertoe, "if I might speak my mind, this Friend of yours, be who he like, is little better than a rogue, to lead you such a dance. If he treated me so, by my faith, his crown should get acquainted with my crutch next time we met. If he could not keep his word, he should have let you know, and not bamboozled you as if you were a child."

"Yet I cannot altogether blame this Friend," said Franz, "for being absent; he did not promise; it was but a dream that told me I should meet him here."

The goblin-tale was too long for him to tell, so he veiled it under cover of a dream.

"Ah! that is another story," said the beggar; "if you build[Pg 47] on dreams, it is little wonder that your hope deceives you. I myself have dreamed much foolish stuff in my time; but I was never such a madman as to heed it. Had I all the treasures that have been allotted to me in dreams, I might buy the city of Bremen, were it sold by auction. But I never credited a jot of them, or stirred hand or foot to prove their worth or worthlessness: I knew well it would be lost. Ha! I must really laugh in your face, to think that on the order of an empty dream, you have squandered a fair day of your life, which you might have spent better at a merry banquet."

"The issue shows that thou art right, old man, and that dreams many times deceive. But," continued Franz, defensively, "I dreamed so vividly and circumstantially, above three months ago, that on this very day, in this very place, I should meet a Friend, who would tell me things of the deepest importance, that it was well worth while to go and see if it would come to pass."

"O, as for vividness," said Timbertoe, "no man can dream more vividly than I. There is one dream I had, which I shall never in my life forget. I dreamed, who knows how many years ago, that my Guardian Angel stood before my bed in the figure of a youth, with golden hair, and two silver wings on his back, and said to me: 'Berthold, listen to the words of my mouth, that none of them be lost from thy heart. There is a treasure appointed thee, which thou shalt dig, to comfort thy heart withal for the remaining days of thy life. Tomorrow, about evening, when the sun is going down, take spade and shovel on thy shoulder; go forth from the Mattenburg on the right, across the Tieber, by the Balkenbrücke, past the Cloister of St. John's, and on to the Great Roland.[9] Then take thy way over the Court of the Cathedral, through the Schüsselkorb, till thou arrive without the city at a garden, which has this mark, that a stair of three stone steps leads down from the highway to its gate. Wait by a side, in secret, till the sickle of the moon shall shine on thee, then push with the strength of a man against the weak-barred gate, which will resist thee little. Enter boldly into the garden, and turn thee to the vine-trellises which overhang the covered-walk;[Pg 48] behind this, on the left, a tall apple-tree overtops the lowly shrubs. Go to the trunk of this tree, thy face turned right against the moon: look three ells before thee on the ground, thou shalt see two cinnamon-rose bushes; there strike in, and dig three spans deep, till thou find a stone plate; under this lies the treasure, buried in an iron chest, full of money and money's worth. Though the chest be heavy and clumsy, avoid not the labour of lifting it from its bed; it will reward thy trouble well, if thou seek the key which lies hid beneath it.'"

[9] The rude figure of a man in armour, usually erected in the public square or market-place of old German towns, is called the Rolandsäule, or Rutlandsäule, from its supposed reference to Roland the famous peer of Charlemagne. The proper and ancient name, it seems, is Rügelandsäule, or Pillar of Judgment; and the stone indicated, of old, that the town possessed an independent jurisdiction.—Ed.

In astonishment at what he heard, Franz stared and gazed upon the dreamer, and could not have concealed his amazement, had not the dusk of night been on his side. By every mark in the description, he had recognised his own garden, left him by his father. It had been the good man's hobby in his life; but on this account had little pleased his son; according to the rule that son and father seldom sympathise in their favourite pursuit, unless indeed it be a vice, in which case, as the adage runs, the apple often falls at no great distance from the trunk. Father Melchior had himself laid out this garden, altogether to his own taste, in a style as wonderful and varied as that of his great-great-grandson, who has immortalised his paradise by an original description in Hirschfeld's Garden-Calendar. He had not, it is true, set up in it any painted menagerie for the deception of the eye; but he kept a very large one, notwithstanding, of springing-horses, winged-lions, eagles, griffins, unicorns and other wondrous beasts, all stamped on pure gold, which he carefully concealed from every eye, and had hid in their iron case beneath the ground. This paternal Tempe the wasteful son, in the days of his extravagance, had sold for an old song.

To Franz the pikeman had at once become extremely interesting, as he perceived that this was the very Friend, to whom the Goblin in the Castle of Rummelsburg had consigned him. Gladly could he have embraced the veteran, and in the first rapture called him friend and father: but he restrained himself, and found it more advisable to keep his thoughts about this piece of news to himself. So he said: "Well, this is what I call a circumstantial dream. But what didst thou do, old master, in the morning, on awakening? Didst thou not follow whither thy Guardian Angel beckoned thee?"

"Pooh," said the dreamer, "why should I toil, and have my labour for my pains? It was nothing, after all, but a mere[Pg 49] dream. If my Guardian Angel had a fancy for appearing to me, I have had enow of sleepless nights in my time, when he might have found me waking. But he takes little charge of me, I think, else I should not, to his shame, be going hitching here on a wooden leg."

Franz took out the last piece of silver he had on him: "There," said he, "old Father, take this other gift from me, to get thee a pint of wine for evening-cup: thy talk has scared away my ill humour. Neglect not diligently to frequent this Bridge; we shall see each other here, I hope, again."

The lame old man had not gathered so rich a stock of alms for many a day, as he was now possessed of; he blessed his benefactor for his kindness, hopped away into a drinking-shop, to do himself a good turn; while Franz, enlivened with new hope, hastened off to his lodging in the alley.

Next day he got in readiness everything that is required for treasure-digging. The unessential equipments, conjurations, magic formulas, magic girdles, hieroglyphic characters, and suchlike, were entirely wanting: but these are not indispensable, provided there be no failure in the three main requisites: shovel, spade, and, before all, a treasure underground. The necessary implements he carried to the place a little before sunset, and hid them for the mean while in a hedge; and as to the treasure itself, he had the firm conviction that the Goblin in the Castle, and the Friend on the Bridge, would prove no liars to him. With longing impatience he expected the rising of the moon; and no sooner did she stretch her silver horns over the bushes, than he briskly set to work; observing exactly everything the Invalid had taught him; and happily accomplished the raising of the treasure, without meeting any adventure in the process; without any black dog having frightened him, or any bluish flame having lighted him to the spot.

Father Melchior, in providently burying this penny for a rainy day, had nowise meant that his son should be deprived of so considerable a part of his inheritance. The mistake lay in this, that Death had escorted the testator out of the world in another way than said testator had expected. He had been completely convinced, that he should take his journey, old and full of days, after regulating his temporal concerns with all the formalities of an ordinary sick-bed; for so it had been prophesied to him in his youth. In consequence he purposed, when, according to the usage[Pg 50] of the Church, extreme unction should have been dispensed to him, to call his beloved son to his bed-side, having previously dismissed all bystanders; there to give him the paternal blessing, and by way of farewell memorial direct him to this treasure buried in the garden. All this, too, would have happened in just order, if the light of the good old man had departed, like that of a wick whose oil is done; but as Death had privily snuffed him out at a feast, he undesignedly took along with him his Mammon secret to the grave; and almost as many fortunate concurrences were required before the secreted patrimony could arrive at the proper heir, as if it had been forwarded to its address by the hand of Justice itself.

With immeasurable joy the treasure-digger took possession of the shapeless Spanish pieces, which, with a vast multitude of other finer coins, the iron chest had faithfully preserved. When the first intoxication of delight had in some degree evaporated, he bethought him how the treasure was to be transported, safe and unobserved, into the narrow alley. The burden was too heavy to be carried without help; thus, with the possession of riches, all the cares attendant on them were awakened. The new Crœsus found no better plan, than to intrust his capital to the hollow trunk of a tree that stood behind the garden, in a meadow: the empty chest he again buried under the rose-bush, and smoothed the place as well as possible. In the space of three days, the treasure had been faithfully transmitted by instalments from the hollow tree into the narrow alley; and now the owner of it thought he might with honour lay aside his strict incognito. He dressed himself with the finest; had his Prayer displaced from the church; and required, instead of it, "a Christian Thanksgiving for a Traveller, on returning to his native town, after happily arranging his affairs." He hid himself in a corner of the church, where he could observe the fair Meta, without himself being seen; he turned not his eye from the maiden, and drank from her looks the actual rapture, which in foretaste had restrained him from the break-neck somerset on the Bridge of the Weser. When the Thanksgiving came in hand, a glad sympathy shone forth from all her features, and the cheeks of the virgin glowed with joy. The customary greeting on the way homewards was so full of emphasis, that even to the third party who had noticed them, it would have been intelligible.

Franz now appeared once more on the Exchange; began a branch of trade which in a few weeks extended to the great scale;[Pg 51] and as his wealth became daily more apparent, Neighbour Grudge, the scandal-chewer, was obliged to conclude, that in the cashing of his old debts, he must have had more luck than sense. He hired a large house, fronting the Roland, in the Market-place; engaged clerks and warehousemen, and carried on his trade unweariedly. Now the sorrowful populace of parasites again diligently handled the knocker of his door; appeared in crowds, and suffocated him with assurances of friendship, and joy-wishings on his fresh prosperity; imagined they should once more catch him in their robber claws. But experience had taught him wisdom; he paid them in their own coin, feasted their false friendship on smooth words, and dismissed them with fasting stomachs; which sovereign means for scaring off the cumbersome brood of pickthanks and toadeaters produced the intended effect, that they betook them elsewhither.

In Bremen, the remounting Melcherson had become the story of the day; the fortune which in some inexplicable manner he had realised, as was supposed, in foreign parts, was the subject-matter of all conversations at formal dinners, in the Courts of Justice and at the Exchange. But in proportion as the fame of his fortune and affluence increased, the contentedness and peace of mind of the fair Meta diminished. The friend in petto was now, in her opinion, well qualified to speak a plain word. Yet still his Love continued Dumb; and except the greeting on the way from church, he gave no tidings of himself. Even this sort of visit was becoming rarer, and such aspects were the sign not of warm, but of cold weather in the atmosphere of Love. Jealousy,[10] the baleful Harpy, fluttered round her little room by night, and when sleep was closing her blue eyes, croaked many a dolorous presage into the ear of the re-awakened Meta. "Forego the flattering hope of binding an inconstant heart, which, like a feather, is the sport of every wind. He loved thee, and was faithful to thee, while his lot was as thy own: like only draws to like. Now a propitious destiny exalts the Changeful far above thee. Ah! now he scorns the truest thoughts in mean apparel, now that pomp, and wealth, and splendour dazzle him once more; and courts who knows what haughty fair one that disdained him when he lay among the pots, and now with siren call allures him back to her. Perhaps her cozening voice has turned him from thee, speaking with false[Pg 52] words: 'For thee, God's garden blossoms in thy native town: friend, thou hast now thy choice of all our maidens; choose with prudence, not by the eye alone. Of girls are many, and of fathers many, who in secret lie in wait for thee; none will withhold his darling daughter. Take happiness and honour with the fairest; likewise birth and fortune. The councillor dignity awaits thee, where vote of friends is potent in the city.'"

[10] Jealousy too (at bottom a very sad spectre, but not here introduced as one) now croaks in iambics, as the Goblin Barber lately spoke in them.—Wieland.

These suggestions of Jealousy disturbed and tormented her heart without ceasing: she reviewed her fair contemporaries in Bremen, estimated the ratio of so many splendid matches to herself and her circumstances; and the result was far from favourable. The first tidings of her lover's change of situation had in secret charmed her; not in the selfish view of becoming participatress in a large fortune; but for her mother's sake, who had abdicated all hopes of earthly happiness, ever since the marriage project with neighbour Hop-King had made shipwreck. But now poor Meta wished that Heaven had not heard the Prayer of the Church, or granted to the traveller any such abundance of success; but rather kept him by the bread and salt, which he would willingly have shared with her.

The fair half of the species are by no means calculated to conceal an inward care: Mother Brigitta soon observed the trouble of her daughter; and without the use of any great penetration, likewise guessed its cause. The talk about the re-ascending star of her former flax-negotiator, who was now celebrated as the pattern of an orderly, judicious, active tradesman, had not escaped her, any more than the feeling of the good Meta towards him; and it was her opinion, that if he loved in earnest, it was needless to hang off so long, without explaining what he meant. Yet out of tenderness to her daughter, she let no hint of this discovery escape her; till at length poor Meta's heart became so full, that of her own accord she made her mother the confidante of her sorrow, and disclosed to her its true origin. The shrewd old lady learned little more by this disclosure than she knew already. But it afforded opportunity to mother and daughter for a full, fair and free discussion of this delicate affair. Brigitta made her no reproaches on the subject; she believed that what was done could not be undone; and directed all her eloquence to strengthen and encourage the dejected Meta to bear the failure of her hopes with a steadfast mind.

With this view, she spelt out to her the extremely reasonable[Pg 53] moral, a, b, ab; discoursing thus: "My child, thou hast already said a, thou must now say b too; thou hast scorned thy fortune when it sought thee, now thou must submit when it will meet thee no longer. Experience has taught me, that the most confident Hope is the first to deceive us. Therefore, follow my example; abandon the fair cozener utterly, and thy peace of mind will no longer be disturbed by her. Count not on any improvement of thy fate; and thou wilt grow contented with thy present situation. Honour the spinning-wheel, which supports thee: what are fortune and riches to thee, when thou canst do without them?"

Close on this stout oration followed a loud humming symphony of snap-reel and spinning-wheel, to make up for the time lost in speaking. Mother Brigitta was in truth philosophising from the heart. After her scheme for the restoration of her former affluence had gone to ruin, she had so simplified the plan of her life, that Fate could not perplex it any more. But Meta was still far from this philosophical centre of indifference; and hence this doctrine, consolation and encouragement affected her quite otherwise than had been intended: the conscientious daughter now looked upon herself as the destroyer of her mother's fair hopes, and suffered from her own mind a thousand reproaches for this fault. Though she had never adopted the maternal scheme of marriage, and had reckoned only upon bread and salt in her future wedlock; yet, on hearing of her lover's riches and spreading commerce, her diet-project had directly mounted to six plates; and it delighted her to think, that by her choice she should still realise her good mother's wish, and see her once more planted in her previous abundance.

This fair dream now vanished by degrees, as Franz continued silent. To make matters worse, there spread a rumour over all the city, that he was furnishing his house in the most splendid fashion for his marriage with a rich Antwerp lady, who was already on her way to Bremen. This Job's-news drove the lovely maiden from her last defence: she passed on the apostate sentence of banishment from her heart; and vowed from that hour never more to think of him; and as she did so, wetted the twining thread with her tears.

In a heavy hour she was breaking this vow, and thinking, against her will, of the faithless lover: for she had just spun off a rock of flax; and there was an old rhyme which had been taught her by her mother for encouragement to diligence:

[Pg 54]

'Spin, daughterkin, spin;
Thy sweetheart's within!'

which she always recollected when her rock was done; and along with it the memory of the Deceitful necessarily occurred to her. In this heavy hour, a finger rapped with a most dainty patter at the door. Mother Brigitta looked forth: the sweetheart was without. And who could it be? Who else but neighbour Franz, from the alley? He had decked himself with a gallant wooing-suit; and his well-dressed, thick brown locks shook forth perfume. This stately decoration boded, at all events, something else than flax-dealing. Mother Brigitta started in alarm; she tried to speak, but words failed her. Meta rose in trepidation from her seat, blushed like a purple rose, and was silent. Franz, however, had the power of utterance; to the soft adagio which he had in former days trilled forth to her, he now appended a suitable text, and explained his dumb love in clear words. Thereupon he made solemn application for her to the mother; justifying his proposal by the statement, that the preparations in his house had been meant for the reception of a bride, and that this bride was the charming Meta.

The pointed old lady, having brought her feelings once more into equilibrium, was for protracting the affair to the customary term of eight days for deliberation; though joyful tears were running down her cheeks, presaging no impediment on her side, but rather answer of approval. Franz, however, was so pressing in his suit, that she fell upon a middle path between the wooer's ardour and maternal use and wont, and empowered the gentle Meta to decide in the affair according to her own good judgment. In the virgin heart there had occurred, since Franz's entrance, an important revolution. His presence here was the most speaking proof of his innocence; and as, in the course of conversation, it distinctly came to light, that his apparent coldness had been nothing else than zeal and diligence in putting his commercial affairs in order, and preparing what was necessary for the coming nuptials, it followed that the secret reconciliation would proceed forthwith without any stone of stumbling in its way. She acted with the outlaw, as Mother Brigitta with her disposted spinning gear, or the First-born Son of the Church with an exiled Parliament; recalled him with honour to her high-beating heart, and reinstated him in all his former rights and privileges there. The decisive three-lettered little word, that ratifies the happiness of[Pg 55] love, came gliding with such unspeakable grace from her soft lips, that the answered lover could not help receiving it with a warm melting kiss.

The tender pair had now time and opportunity for deciphering all the hieroglyphics of their mysterious love; which afforded the most pleasant conversation that ever two lovers carried on. They found, what our commentators ought to pray for, that they had always understood and interpreted the text aright, without once missing the true sense of their reciprocal proceedings. It cost the delighted bridegroom almost as great an effort to part from his charming bride, as on the day when he set out on his crusade to Antwerp. However, he had an important walk to take; so at last it became time to withdraw.

This walk was directed to the Weser-bridge, to find Timbertoe, whom he had not forgotten, though he had long delayed to keep his word to him. Sharply as the physiognomist, ever since his interview with the open-handed Bridge-bailiff, had been on the outlook, he could never catch a glimpse of him among the passengers, although a second visit had been faithfully promised. Yet the figure of his benefactor had not vanished from his memory. The moment he perceived the fair-apparelled youth from a distance, he stilted towards him, and gave him kindly welcome. Franz answered his salutation, and said: "Friend, canst thou take a walk with me into the Neustadt, to transact a small affair? Thy trouble shall not be unpaid."

"Ah! why not?" replied the old blade; "though I have a wooden leg, I can step you with it as stoutly as the lame dwarf that crept round the city-common;[11] for the wooden leg, you must know, has this good property, it never tires. But excuse me a little while till Graycloak is come: he never misses to pass along the Bridge between day and night."

[11] There is an old tradition, that a neighbouring Countess promised in jest to give the Bremers as much land as a cripple, who was just asking her for alms, would creep round in a day. They took her at her word; and the cripple crawled so well, that the town obtained this large common by means of him.

"What of Graycloak?" inquired Franz: "let me know about him."

"Graycloak brings me daily about nightfall a silver groschen, I know not from whom. It is of no use prying into things, so I never mind. Sometimes it occurs to me Graycloak must be the devil, and means to buy my soul with the money. But devil or[Pg 56] no devil, what care I? I did not strike him on the bargain, so it cannot hold."

"I should not wonder," answered Franz, with a smile, "if Graycloak were a piece of a knave. But do thou follow me: the silver groschen shall not fail thee."

Timbertoe set forth, hitched on briskly after his guide, who conducted him up one street and down another, to a distant quarter of the city, near the wall; then halted before a neat little new-built house, and knocked at the door. When it was opened: "Friend," said he, "thou madest one evening of my life cheerful; it is just that I should make the evening of thy life cheerful also. This house, with its appurtenances, and the garden where it stands, are thine; kitchen and cellar are full; an attendant is appointed to wait upon thee; and the silver groschen, over and above, thou wilt find every noon lying under thy plate. Nor will I hide from thee that Graycloak was my servant, whom I sent to give thee daily an honourable alms, till I had got this house made ready for thee. If thou like, thou mayest reckon me thy proper Guardian Angel, since the other has not acted to thy satisfaction."

He then led the old man into his dwelling, where the table was standing covered, and everything arranged for his convenience and comfortable living. The grayhead was so astonished at his fortune, that he could not understand or even believe it. That a rich man should take such pity on a poor one, was incomprehensible: he felt disposed to take the whole affair for magic or jugglery, till Franz removed his doubts. A stream of thankful tears flowed down the old man's cheeks; and his benefactor, satisfied with this, did not wait till he should recover from his amazement and thank him in words, but, after doing this angel-message, vanished from the old man's eyes, as angels are wont; and left him to piece together the affair as he best could.

Next morning, in the habitation of the lovely Meta, all was as a fair. Franz dispatched to her a crowd of merchants, jewellers, milliners, lace-dealers, tailors, sutors and sempstresses, in part to offer her all sorts of wares, in part their own good services. She passed the whole day in choosing stuffs, laces and other requisites for the condition of a bride, or being measured for her various new apparel. The dimensions of her dainty foot, her beautifully-formed arm, and her slim waist, were as often and as carefully meted, as if some skilful statuary had been taking from her the model for a Goddess of Love. Meanwhile the bridegroom[Pg 57] went to appoint the bans; and before three weeks were past, he led his bride to the altar, with a solemnity by which even the gorgeous wedding-pomp of the Hop-King was eclipsed. Mother Brigitta had the happiness of twisting the bridal-garland for her virtuous Meta; she completely attained her wish of spending her woman's-summer in propitious affluence; and deserved this satisfaction, as a recompense for one praiseworthy quality which she possessed: She was the most tolerable mother-in-law that has ever been discovered.

[Pg 58]


Deep in the Bohemian forest, which has now dwindled to a few scattered woodlands, there abode, in the primeval times, while it stretched its umbrage far and wide, a spiritual race of beings, airy and avoiding light, incorporeal also, more delicately fashioned than the clay-formed sons of men; to the coarser sense of feeling imperceptible, but to the finer, half-visible by moonlight; and well known to poets by the name of Dryads, and to ancient bards by that of Elves. From immemorial ages, they had dwelt here undisturbed; till all at once the forest sounded with the din of warriors, for Duke Czech of Hungary, with his Sclavonic hordes, had broken over the mountains, to seek in these wild tracts a new habitation. The fair tenants of the aged oaks, of the rocks, clefts and grottos, and of the flags in the tarns and morasses, fled before the clang of arms and the neighing of chargers: the stout Erl-King himself was annoyed by the uproar, and transferred his court to more sequestered wildernesses. One solitary Elf could not resolve to leave her darling oak; and as the wood began here and there to be felled for the purposes of cultivation, she alone undertook to defend her tree against the violence of the strangers, and chose the towering summit of it for her residence.

[12] From Jo. Dubravii Historia Bohemica, and Æneæ Sylvii Cardinalis de Bohemarum Origine ac Gestis Historia.

Among the retinue of the Duke was a young Squire, Krokus by name, full of spirit and impetuosity; stout and handsome, and of noble mien, to whom the keeping of his master's stud had been entrusted, which at times he drove far into the forest for their[Pg 59] pasture. Frequently he rested beneath the oak which the Elf inhabited: she observed him with satisfaction; and at night, when he was sleeping at the root, she would whisper pleasant dreams into his ear, and announce to him in expressive images the events of the coming day. When any horse had strayed into the desert, and the keeper had lost its tract, and gone to sleep with anxious thoughts, he failed not to see in vision the marks of the hidden path, which led him to the spot where his lost steed was grazing.

The farther the new colonists extended, the nearer came they to the dwelling of the Elf; and as by her gift of divination, she perceived how soon her life-tree would be threatened by the axe, she determined to unfold this sorrow to her guest. One moonshiny summer evening, Krokus had folded his herd somewhat later than usual, and was hastening to his bed under the lofty oak. His path led him round a little fishy lake, on whose silver face the moon was imaging herself like a gleaming ball of gold; and across this glittering portion of the water, on the farther side, he perceived a female form, apparently engaged in walking by the cool shore. This sight surprised the young warrior: What brings the maiden hither, thought he, by herself, in this wilderness, at the season of the nightly dusk? Yet the adventure was of such a sort, that, to a young man, the more strict investigation of it seemed alluring rather than alarming. He redoubled his steps, keeping firmly in view the form which had arrested his attention; and soon reached the place where he had first noticed it, beneath the oak. But now it looked to him as if the thing he saw were a shadow rather than a body; he stood wondering and motionless, a cold shudder crept over him; and he heard a sweet soft voice address to him these words: "Come hither, beloved stranger, and fear not; I am no phantasm, no deceitful shadow: I am the Elf of this grove, the tenant of the oak, under whose leafy boughs thou hast often rested. I rocked thee in sweet delighting dreams, and prefigured to thee thy adventures; and when a brood-mare or a foal had chanced to wander from the herd, I told thee of the place where thou wouldst find it. Repay this favour by a service which I now require of thee; be the Protector of this tree, which has so often screened thee from the shower and the scorching heat; and guard the murderous axes of thy brethren, which lay waste the forest, that they harm not this venerable trunk."

The young warrior, restored to self-possession by this soft still voice, made answer: "Goddess or mortal, whoever thou mayest[Pg 60] be, require of me what thou pleasest; if I can, I will perform it. But I am a man of no account among my people, the servant of the Duke my lord. If he tell me today or tomorrow, Feed here, feed there, how shall I protect thy tree in this distant forest? Yet if thou commandest me, I will renounce the service of princes, and dwell under the shadow of thy oak, and guard it while I live."

"Do so," said the Elf: "thou shalt not repent it."

Hereupon she vanished; and there was a rustling in the branches above, as if some breath of an evening breeze had been entangled in them, and had stirred the leaves. Krokus, for a while, stood enraptured at the heavenly form which had appeared to him. So soft a female, of such slender shape and royal bearing, he had never seen among the short squat damsels of his own Sclavonic race. At last he stretched himself upon the moss, but no sleep descended on his eyes; the dawn overtook him in a whirl of sweet emotions, which were as strange and new to him as the first beam of light to the opened eye of one born blind. With the earliest morning he hastened to the Court of the Duke, required his discharge, packed up his war-accoutrements, and, with rapid steps, his burden on his shoulders, and his head full of glowing enthusiasm, hied him back to his enchanted forest-hermitage.

Meanwhile, in his absence, a craftsman among the people, a miller by trade, had selected for himself the round straight trunk of the oak to be an axle, and was proceeding with his mill-men to fell it. The affrighted Elf sobbed bitterly, as the greedy saw began with iron tooth to devour the foundations of her dwelling. She looked wildly round, from the highest summit, for her faithful guardian, but her glance could find him nowhere; and the gift of prophecy, peculiar to her race, was in the present case so ineffectual, that she could as little read the fate that stood before her, as the sons of Æsculapius, with their vaunted prognosis, can discover ways and means for themselves when Death is knocking at their own door.

Krokus, however, was approaching, and so near the scene of this catastrophe, that the screeching of the busy saw did not escape his ear. Such a sound in the forest boded no good: he quickened his steps, and beheld before his eyes the horror of the devastation that was visiting the tree which he had taken under his protection. Like a fury he rushed upon the wood-cutters, with pike and sword, and scared them from their work; for they[Pg 61] concluded he must be a forest-demon, and fled in great precipitation. By good fortune, the wound of the tree was still curable; and the scar of it disappeared in a few summers.

In the solemn hour of evening, when the stranger had fixed upon the spot for his future habitation; had meted out the space for hedging round as a garden, and was weighing in his mind the whole scheme of his future hermitage; where, in retirement from the society of men, he purposed to pass his days in the service of a shadowy companion, possessed apparently of little more reality than a Saint of the Calendar, whom a pious friar chooses for his spiritual paramour,—the Elf appeared before him at the brink of the lake, and with gentle looks thus spoke:

"Thanks to thee, beloved stranger, that thou hast turned away the wasteful arms of thy brethren from ruining this tree, with which my life is united. For thou shalt know that Mother Nature, who has granted to my race such varied powers and influences, has combined the fortune of our life with the growth and duration of the oak. By us the sovereign of the forest raises his venerable head above the populace of other trees and shrubs; we further the circulation of the sap through his trunk and boughs, that he may gain strength to battle with the tempest, and for long centuries to defy destructive Time. On the other hand, our life is bound to his: when the oak, which the lot of Destiny has appointed for the partner of our existence, fades by years, we fade along with him; and when he dies, we die, and sleep, like mortals, as it were a sort of death-sleep, till, by the everlasting cycle of things, Chance, or some hidden provision of Nature, again weds our being to a new germ; which, unfolded by our enlivening virtue, after the lapse of long years, springs up to be a mighty tree, and affords us the enjoyment of existence anew. From this thou mayest perceive what a service thou hast done me by thy help, and what gratitude I owe thee. Ask of me the recompense of thy noble deed; disclose to me the wish of thy heart, and this hour it shall be granted thee."

Krokus continued silent. The sight of the enchanting Elf had made more impression on him than her speech, of which, indeed, he understood but little. She noticed his embarrassment; and, to extricate him from it, plucked a withered reed from the margin of the lake, broke it into three pieces, and said: "Choose one of these three stalks, or take one without a choice. In the first, lie Honour and Renown; in the second, Riches and[Pg 62] the wise enjoyment of them; in the third is happiness in Love laid up for thee."

The young man cast his eyes upon the ground, and answered: "Daughter of Heaven, if thou wouldst deign to grant the desire of my heart, know that it lies not in these three stalks which thou offerest me; the recompense I aim at is higher. What is Honour but the fuel of Pride? what are Riches but the root of Avarice? and what is Love but the trap-door of Passion, to ensnare the noble freedom of the heart? Grant me my wish, to rest under the shadow of thy oak-tree from the toils of warfare, and to hear from thy sweet mouth the lessons of wisdom, that I may understand by them the secrets of the future."

"Thy request," replied the Elf, "is great; but thy deserving toward me is not less so: be it then as thou hast asked. Nor, with the fruit, shall the shell be wanting to thee; for the wise man is also honoured; he alone is rich, for he desires nothing more than he needs, and he tastes the pure nectar of Love without poisoning it by polluted lips."

So saying, she again presented him the three reed-stalks, and vanished from his sight.

The young Eremite prepared his bed of moss, beneath the oak, exceedingly content with the reception which the Elf had given him. Sleep came upon him like a strong man; gay morning dreams danced round his head, and solaced his fancy with the breath of happy forebodings. On awakening, he joyfully began his day's work; ere long he had built himself a pleasant hermit's-cottage; had dug his garden, and planted in it roses and lilies, with other odoriferous flowers and herbs; not forgetting pulse and cole, and a sufficiency of fruit-trees. The Elf never failed to visit him at twilight; she rejoiced in the prospering of his labours; walked with him, hand in hand, by the sedgy border of the lake; and the wavering reeds, as the wind passed through them, whispered a melodious evening salutation to the trustful pair. She instructed her attentive disciple in the secrets of Nature; showed him the origin and causes of things; taught him their common and their magic properties and effects; and formed the rude soldier into a thinker and philosopher.

In proportion as the feelings and senses of the young man grew refined by this fair spiritual intercourse, it seemed as if the tender form of the Elf were condensing, and acquiring more consistency; her bosom caught warmth and life; her brown eyes[Pg 63] sparkled with the fire of love; and with the shape, she appeared to have adopted the feelings of a young blooming maiden. The sentimental hour of dusk, which is as if expressly calculated to awaken slumbering feelings, had its usual effect; and after a few moons from their first acquaintance, the sighing Krokus found himself possessed of the happiness in Love, which the Third Reed-stalk had appointed him; and did not repent that by the trap-door of Passion the freedom of his heart had been ensnared. Though the marriage of the tender pair took place without witnesses, it was celebrated with as much enjoyment as the most tumultuous espousal; nor were speaking proofs of love's recompense long wanting. The Elf gave her husband three daughters at a birth; and the father, rejoicing in the bounty of his better half, named, at the first embrace, the eldest infant, Bela; the next born, Therba; and the youngest, Libussa. They were all like the Genies in beauty of form; and though not moulded of such light materials as the mother, their corporeal structure was finer than the dull earthy clay of the father. They were also free from all the infirmities of childhood; their swathings did not gall them; they teethed without epileptic fits, needed no calomel taken inwardly, got no rickets; had no small-pox, and, of course, no scars, no scum-eyes, or puckered faces: nor did they require any leading-strings; for after the first nine days, they ran like little partridges; and as they grew up, they manifested all the talents of the mother for discovering hidden things, and predicting what was future.

Krokus himself, by the aid of time, grew skilful in these mysteries also. When the wolf had scattered the flocks through the forest, and the herdsmen were seeking for their sheep and horses; when the woodman missed an axe or bill, they took counsel from the wise Krokus, who showed them where to find what they had lost. When a wicked prowler had abstracted aught from the common stock; had by night broken into the pinfold, or the dwelling of his neighbour, and robbed or slain him, and none could guess the malefactor, the wise Krokus was consulted. He led the people to a green; made them form a ring; then stept into the midst of them, set the faithful sieve a-running, and so failed not to discover the misdoer. By such acts his fame spread over all the country of Bohemia; and whoever had a weighty care, or an important undertaking, took counsel from the wise Krokus about its issue. The lame and the sick, too, required from him[Pg 64] help and recovery; even the unsound cattle of the fold were driven to him; and his gift of curing sick kine by his shadow, was not less than that of the renowned St. Martin of Schierbach. By these means the concourse of the people to him grew more frequent, day by day, no otherwise than if the Tripod of the Delphic Apollo had been transferred to the Bohemian forest: and though Krokus answered all inquiries, and cured the sick and afflicted, without fee or reward, yet the treasure of his secret wisdom paid him richly, and brought him in abundant profit; the people crowded to him with gifts and presents, and almost oppressed him with testimonies of their good-will. It was he that first disclosed the mystery of washing gold from the sands of the Elbe; and for his recompense he had a tenth of all the produce. By these means his wealth and store increased; he built strongholds and palaces; had vast herds of cattle; possessed fertile pasturages, fields and woods; and thus found himself imperceptibly possessed of all the Riches which the beneficently foreboding Elf had enclosed for him in the Second Reed.

One fine summer evening, when Krokus with his train was returning from an excursion, having by special request been settling the disputed marches of two townships, he perceived his spouse on the margin of the sedgy lake, where she had first appeared to him. She waved him with her hand; so he dismissed his servants, and hastened to clasp her in his arms. She received him, as usual, with tender love; but her heart was sad and oppressed; from her eyes trickled down ethereal tears, so fine and fugitive, that as they fell they were greedily inhaled by the air, and not allowed to reach the ground. Krokus was alarmed at this appearance; he had never seen his wife's fair eyes otherwise than cheerful, and sparkling with youthful gaiety. "What ails thee, beloved of my heart?" said he; "black forebodings overcast my soul. Speak, say what mean those tears."

The Elf sobbed, leaned her head sorrowfully on his shoulder, and said: "Beloved husband, in thy absence I have looked into the Book of Destiny; a doleful chance overhangs my life-tree; I must part from thee forever. Follow me into the Castle, till I bless my children; for from this day you will never see me more."

"Dearest wife," said Krokus, "chase away these mournful thoughts. What misfortune is it that can harm thy tree? Behold its sound boughs, how they stretch forth loaded with fruit and leaves, and how it raises its top to the clouds. While this[Pg 65] arm can move, it shall defend thy tree from any miscreant that presumes to wound its stem."

"Impotent defence," replied she, "which a mortal arm can yield! Ants can but secure themselves from ants, flies from flies, and the worms of Earth from other earthly worms. But what can the mightiest among you do against the workings of Nature, or the unalterable decisions of Fate? The kings of the Earth can heap up little hillocks, which they name fortresses and castles; but the weakest breath of air defies their authority, blows where it lists, and mocks at their command. This oak-tree thou hast guarded from the violence of men; canst thou likewise forbid the tempest that it rise not to disleaf its branches; or if a hidden worm is gnawing in its marrow, canst thou draw it out, and tread it under foot?"

Amid such conversation they arrived at the Castle. The slender maidens, as they were wont at the evening visit of their mother, came bounding forth to meet them; gave account of their day's employments, produced their needlework, and their embroideries, to prove their diligence: but now the hour of household happiness was joyless. They soon observed that the traces of deep suffering were imprinted on the countenance of their father; and they looked with sympathising sorrow at their mother's tears, without venturing to inquire their cause. The mother gave them many wise instructions and wholesome admonitions; but her speech was like the singing of a swan, as if she wished to give the world her farewell. She lingered with her husband, till the morning-star went up in the sky; then she embraced him and her children with mournful tenderness; and at dawn of day retired, as was her custom, through the secret door, to her oak-tree, and left her friends to their own sad forebodings.

Nature stood in listening stillness at the rising sun; but heavy black clouds soon veiled his beaming head. The day grew sultry and oppressive; the whole atmosphere was electric. Distant thunder came rolling over the forest; and the hundred-voiced Echo repeated, in the winding valleys, its baleful sound. At the noontide, a forked thunderbolt struck quivering down upon the oak; and in a moment shivered with resistless force the trunk and boughs, and the wreck lay scattered far around it in the forest. When Father Krokus was informed of this, he rent his garments, went forth with his daughters to deplore the life-tree of his spouse, and to collect the fragments of it, and preserve[Pg 66] them as invaluable relics. But the Elf from that day was not seen any more.

In some few years, the tender girls had waxed in stature; their maiden forms blossomed forth, as the rose pushing up from the bud; and the fame of their beauty spread abroad over all the land. The noblest youths of the people crowded round, with cases to submit to Father Krokus for his counsel; but at bottom, these their specious pretexts were directed to the fair maidens, whom they wished to get a glimpse of; as is the mode with young men, who delight to have some business with the master of the household, when his daughters are beautiful. The three sisters lived in great simplicity and unity together; as yet but little conscious of their talents. The gift of prophecy had been communicated to them in an equal degree; and all their words were oracles, although they knew it not. Yet soon their vanity awoke at the voice of flattery; word-catchers eagerly laid hold of every sound proceeding from their lips; Celadons noted down every look, spied out the faintest smile, explored the aspect of their eyes, and drew from it more or less favourable prognostics, conceiving that their own destiny was to be read by means of it; and from this time, it has become the mode with lovers to deduce from the horoscope of the eyes the rising or declining of their star in courtship. Scarcely had Vanity obtained a footing in the virgin heart, till Pride, her dear confidante, with her wicked rabble of a train, Self-love, Self-praise, Self-will, Self-interest, were standing at the door; and all of them in time sneaked in. The elder sisters struggled to outdo the younger in their arts; and envied her in secret her superiority in personal attractions. For though they all were very beautiful, the youngest was the most so. Fräulein Bela turned her chief attention to the science of plants; as Fräulein Medea did in earlier times. She knew their hidden virtues, could extract from them poisons and antidotes; and farther, understood the art of making from them sweet or nauseous odours for the unseen Powers. When her censer steamed, she allured to her Spirits out of the immeasurable depth of æther, from beyond the Moon, and they became her subjects, that with their fine organs they might be allowed to snuff these delicious vapours: and when she scattered villanous perfumes upon the coals, she could have smoked away with it the very Zihim and the Ohim from the Wilderness.

Fräulein Therba was inventive as Circe in devising magic formulas,[Pg 67] which could command the elements, could raise tempests and whirlwinds, also hail and thunder; could shake the bowels of the Earth, or lift itself from the sockets of its axle. She employed these arts to terrify the people, and be feared and honoured by them as a goddess; and she could, in fact, arrange the weather more according to the wish and taste of men than wise old Nature does. Two brothers quarrelled on this subject, for their wishes never were the same. The one was a husbandman, and still desired rain for the growth and strengthening of his crops. The other was a potter, and desired constant sunshine to dry his dishes, which the rain destroyed. And as Heaven never could content them in disposing of this matter, they repaired one day with rich presents to the Castle of the wise Krokus; and submitted their petitions to Therba. The daughter of the Elf gave a smile over their unquiet grumbling at the wise economy of Nature; and contented the demands of each: she made rain fall on the seed-lands of the cultivator; and the sun shone on the potter-field close by. By these enchantments both the sisters gained much fame and riches, for they never used their gifts without a fee. With their treasures they built castles and country-houses; laid out royal pleasure-gardens; to their festivals and divertisements there was no end. The gallants, who solicited their love, they gulled and laughed at.

Fräulein Libussa was no sharer in the vain proud disposition of her sisters. Though she had the same capacities for penetrating the secrets of Nature, and employing its hidden powers in her service, she remained contented with the gifts she had derived from her maternal inheritance, without attempting to increase them, or turn them to a source of gain. Her vanity extended not beyond the consciousness that she was beautiful; she cared not for riches; and neither longed to be feared nor to be honoured like her sisters. Whilst these were gadding up and down among their country-houses, hastening from one tumultuous pleasure to another, with the flower of the Bohemian chivalry fettered to their chariot-wheels, she abode in her father's house, conducting the economy, giving counsel to those who begged it, friendly help to the afflicted and oppressed; and all from good-will, without remuneration.[13] Her temper was soft and modest, and her[Pg 68] conduct virtuous and discreet, as beseems a noble virgin. She might secretly rejoice in the victories which her beauty gained over the hearts of men, and accept the sighing and cooing of her languishing adorers as a just tribute to her charms; but none dared speak a word of love to her, or venture on aspiring to her heart. Yet Amor, the roguish urchin, takes a pleasure in exerting his privileges on the coy; and often hurls his burning torch upon the lowly straw-roof, when he means to set on fire a lofty palace.

[13] Nulla Crocco virilis sexûs proles fuit, sed moriturus tres a morte suâ filias superstites reliquit, omnes ut ipse erat fatidicas, vel magas potius, qualis Medea et Circe fuerant. Nam Bela natu filiarum maxima herbis incantandis Medeam imitabatur, Tetcha (Therba) natu minor carminibus magicis Circem reddebat. Ad utramque frequens multitudinis concursus; dum alii amores sibi conciliare, alii cum bonâ valetudine in gratiam redire, alii res amissas recuperare cupiunt. Illa arcem Belinam, hæc altera arcem Thetin ex mercenariâ pecuniâ, nihil enim gratuito faciebant, ædificandam curavit. Liberalior in hac re Lybussa natu minima apparuit, ut quæ a nemine quidquam extorquebat, et potius fata publica omnibus, quam privata singulis, præcinebat: quâ liberalitate, et quia non gratuitâ solùm sed etiam minus fallace prædictione utebatur, assecuta est ut in locum patris Crocci subrogaretur.—Dubravius.

Far in the bosom of the forest lived an ancient Knight, who had come into the land with the host of Czech. In this seclusion he had fixed his settlement; reduced the desert under cultivation, and formed for himself a small estate, where he thought to pass the remainder of his days in peace, and live upon the produce of his husbandry. A strong-handed neighbour took forcible possession of the land, and expelled the owner, whom a hospitable peasant sheltered in his dwelling. The distressed old Knight had a son, who now formed the sole consolation and support of his age; a bold active youth, but possessed of nothing save a hunting-spear and a practised arm, for the sustenance of his gray-haired father. The injustice of their neighbour stimulated him to revenge, and he had been prepared for resisting force by force; but the command of the anxious father, unwilling to expose his son to danger, had disarmed him. Yet ere long he resumed his former purpose. Then the father called him to his presence, and said:

"Pass over, my son, to the wise Krokus, or to the cunning virgins his daughters, and ask counsel whether the gods approve thy undertaking, and will grant it a prosperous issue. If so, gird on thy sword, and take the spear in thy hand, and go forth to fight for thy inheritance. If not, stay here till thou hast closed my eyes and laid me in the earth; then do what shall seem good to thee."

The youth set forth, and first reached Bela's palace, a building[Pg 69] like a temple for the habitation of a goddess. He knocked at the door, and desired to be admitted; but the porter observing that he came empty-handed, dismissed him as a beggar, and shut the door in his face. He went forward in sadness, and reached the house of sister Therba, where he knocked and requested an audience. The porter looked upon him through his window, and said: "If thou bringest gold in thy bag, which thou canst weigh out to my mistress, she will teach thee one of her good saws to read thy fortune withal. If not, then go and gather of it in the sands of the Elbe as many grains as the tree hath leaves, the sheaf ears, and the bird feathers, then will I open thee this gate." The mocked young man glided off entirely dejected; and the more so, as he learned that Seer Krokus was in Poland, arbitrating the disputes of some contending Grandees. He anticipated from the third sister no more flattering reception; and as he descried her father's castle from a hill in the distance, he could not venture to approach it, but hid himself in a thicket to pursue his bitter thoughts. Ere long he was roused by an approaching noise; he listened, and heard a sound of horses' hoofs. A flying roe dashed through the bushes, followed by a lovely huntress and her maids on stately steeds. She hurled a javelin from her hand; it flew whizzing through the air, but did not hit the game. Instantly the watchful young man seized his bow, and launched from the twanging cord a bolt, which smote the deer through the heart, and stretched it lifeless on the spot. The lady, in astonishment at this phenomenon, looked round to find her unknown hunting partner: and the archer, on observing this, stept forward from his bush, and bent himself humbly before her to the ground. Fräulein Libussa thought she had never seen a finer man. At the first glance, his figure made so deep an impression on her, that she could not but award him that involuntary feeling of goodwill, which a beautiful appearance claims as its prerogative. "Tell me, fair stranger," said she to him, "who art thou, and what chance is it that leads thee to these groves?" The youth guessed rightly that his lucky star had brought him what he was in search of; he disclosed his case to her in modest words; not hiding how disgracefully her sisters had dismissed him, or how the treatment had afflicted him. She cheered his heart with friendly words. "Follow me to my abode," said she; "I will consult the Book of Fate for thee, and answer thy demand tomorrow by the rising of the sun."

[Pg 70]

The young man did as he was ordered. No churlish porter here barred for him the entrance of the palace; the fair lady exercised the rights of hospitality with generous attention. He was charmed by this benignant reception, but still more by the beauty of his gentle hostess. Her enchanting figure hovered all night before his eyes; he carefully defended himself from sleep, that he might not for a moment lose from his thoughts the delightful events of the day. Fräulein Libussa, on the contrary, enjoyed soft slumber: for seclusion from the influences of the external senses, which disturb the finer presentiments of the future, is an indispensable condition for the gift of prophecy. The glowing fancy of the maiden blended the form of this young stranger with all the dreaming images which hovered through her mind that night. She found him where she had not looked for him, in connexion with affairs in which she could not understand how this unknown youth had come to be involved.

On her early awakening, at the hour when the fair prophetess was wont to separate and interpret the visions of the night, she felt inclined to cast away these phantasms from her mind, as errors which had sprung from a disturbance in the operation of her prophetic faculty, and were entitled to no heed from her. Yet a dim feeling signified that this creation of her fancy was not idle dreaming; but had a significant allusion to certain events which the future would unravel; and that last night this presaging Fantasy had spied out the decrees of Fate, and blabbed them to her, more successfully than ever. By help of it, she found that her guest was inflamed with warm love to her; and with equal honesty her heart confessed the same thing in regard to him. But she instantly impressed the seal of silence on the news; as the modest youth had, on his side, set a guard upon his lips and his eyes, that he might not expose himself to a contemptuous refusal; for the chasm which Fortune had interposed between him and the daughter of the wise Krokus seemed impassable.

Although the fair Libussa well knew what she had to say in answer to the young man's question, yet it went against her heart to let him go from her so soon. At sunrise she called him to her in her garden, and said: "The curtain of darkness yet hangs before my eyes; abide with me till sunset;" and at night she said: "Stay till sunrise;" and next morning: "Wait another day;" and the third day: "Have patience till tomorrow." On the fourth day she at last dismissed him; finding no more pretexts[Pg 71] for detaining him, with safety to her secret. At parting, she gave him his response in friendly words: "The gods will not that thou shouldst contend with a man of violence in the land; to bear and suffer is the lot of the weaker. Return to thy father; be the comfort of his old age; and support him by the labour of thy diligent hand. Take two white Steers as a present from my herd; and this Staff to drive them; and when it blossoms and bears fruit, the spirit of prophecy will descend on thee."

The young man felt himself unworthy of the gentle virgin's gift; and blushed that he should receive it and make no return. With ineloquent lips, but with looks so much the more eloquent, he took mournful leave of her; and at the gate below found two white Steers awaiting him, as sleek and glittering as of old the godlike Bull, on whose smooth back the virgin Europa swam across the blue sea waves. Joyfully he loosed them from the post, and drove them softly on before him. The distance home seemed but a few ells, so much was his spirit busied with the fair Libussa: and he vowed, that as he never could obtain her love, he would love no other all his days. The old Knight rejoiced in the return of his son; and still more in learning that the oracle of the fair heiress agreed so completely with his own wishes. As husbandry had been appointed by the gods for the young man's trade, he lingered not in harnessing his white Steers, and yoking them to the plough. The first trial prospered to his wish: the bullocks had such strength and alacrity that they turned over in a single day more land than twelve yoke of oxen commonly can master: for they were fiery and impetuous, as the Bull is painted in the Almanac, where he rushes from the clouds in the sign of April; not sluggish and heavy like the Ox, who plods on with his holy consorts, in our Gospel-Book, phlegmatically, as a Dutch skipper in a calm.

Duke Czech, who had led the first colony of his people into Bohemia, was now long ago committed to his final rest, yet his descendants had not been promoted to succeed him in his princely dignity. The Magnates had in truth, at his decease, assembled for a new election; but their wild stormy tempers would admit of no reasonable resolution. Self-interest and self-sufficiency transformed the first Bohemian Convention of Estates into a Polish Diet: as too many hands laid hold of the princely mantle, they tore it in pieces, and no one of them obtained it. The government had dwindled to a sort of Anarchy; every one did what was right[Pg 72] in his own eyes; the strong oppressed the weak, the rich the poor, the great the little. There was now no public security in the land; yet the frank spirits of the time thought their new republic very well arranged: "All is in order," said they, "every thing goes on its way with us as well as elsewhere; the wolf eats the lamb, the kite the dove, the fox the cock." This artless constitution could not last: when the first debauch of fancied freedom had gone off, and the people were again grown sober, reason asserted its rights; the patriots, the honest citizens, whoever in the nation loved his country, joined together to destroy the idol Hydra, and unite the people once more under a single head. "Let us choose a Prince," said they, "to rule over us, after the manner of our fathers, to tame the froward, and exercise right and justice in the midst of us. Not the strongest, the boldest, or the richest; the wisest be our Duke!" The people, wearied out with the oppressions of their petty tyrants, had on this occasion but one voice, and loudly applauded the proposal. A meeting of Estates was convoked; and the choice unanimously fell upon the wise Krokus. An embassy of honour was appointed, inviting him to take possession of the princely dignity. Though he had never longed for lofty titles, he hesitated not about complying with the people's wish. Invested with the purple, he proceeded, with great pomp, to Vizegrad, the residence of the Dukes; where the people met him with triumphant shouting, and did reverence to him as their Regent. Whereby he perceived, that now the third Reed-stalk of the bountiful Elf was likewise sending forth its gift upon him.

His love of justice, and his wise legislation, soon spread his fame over all the surrounding countries. The Sarmatic Princes, incessantly at feud with one another, brought their contention from afar before his judgment-seat. He weighed it with the undeceitful weights of natural Justice, in the scales of Law; and when he opened his mouth, it was as if the venerable Solon, or the wise Solomon from between the Twelve Lions of his throne, had been pronouncing sentence. Some seditious instigators having leagued against the peace of their country, and kindled war among the Poles, he advanced at the head of his army into Poland; put an end to the civil strife; and a large portion of the people, grateful for the peace which he had given them, chose him for their Duke also. He there built the city Cracow, which is called by his name, and has the privilege of crowning the Polish Kings, even to the present time. Krokus ruled with great glory to the[Pg 73] end of his days. Observing that he was now near their limit, and must soon set out, he caused a coffin to be made from the fragments of the oak which his spouse the Elf had inhabited; and then departed in peace, bewept by the Princesses his three daughters, who deposited the Ducal remains in the coffin, and consigned him to the Earth as he had commanded; and the whole land mourned for him.

When the obsequies were finished, the Estates assembled to deliberate who should now possess the vacant throne. The people were unanimous for one of Krokus's daughters; but which of the three they had not yet determined. Fräulein Bela had, on the whole, the fewest adherents; for her heart was not good; and her magic-lantern was too frequently employed in doing sheer mischief. But she had raised such a terror of herself among the people, that no one liked to take exception at her, lest he might draw down her vengeance on him. When the vote was called, therefore, the Electors all continued dumb; there was no voice for her, but also none against her. At sunset the representatives of the people separated, adjourning their election to another day. Then Fräulein Therba was proposed: but confidence in her incantations had made Fräulein Therba's head giddy; she was proud and overbearing; required to be honoured as a goddess; and if incense did not always smoke for her, she grew peevish, cross, capricious; displaying all the properties by which the fair sex, when they please, can cease to be fair. She was less feared than her elder sister, but not on that account more loved. For these reasons, the election-field continued silent as a lykewake; and the vote was never called for. On the third day came Libussa's turn. No sooner was this name pronounced, than a confidential hum was heard throughout the electing circle; the solemn visages unwrinkled and brightened up, and each of the Electors had some good to whisper of the Fräulein to his neighbour. One praised her virtue, another praised her modesty, a third her prudence, a fourth her infallibility in prophecy, a fifth her disinterestedness in giving counsel, a tenth her chastity, other ninety her beauty, and the last her gifts as a housewife. When a lover draws out such a catalogue of the perfections of his mistress, it remains still doubtful whether she is really the possessor of a single one among them; but the public seldom errs on the favourable side, however often on the other, in the judgments it pronounces on good fame. With so many universally acknowledged[Pg 74] praiseworthy qualities, Fräulein Libussa was undoubtedly the favoured candidate, at least in petto, of the sage Electors: but the preference of the younger sister to the elder has so frequently, in the affair of marriage, as experience testifies, destroyed the peace of the house, that reasonable fear might be entertained lest in affairs of still greater moment it might disturb the peace of the country. This consideration put the sapient guardians of the people into such embarrassment, that they could come to no conclusion whatever. There was wanting a speaker, to hang the clock-weight of his eloquence upon the wheel of the Electors' favourable will, before the business could get into motion, and the good disposition of their minds become active and efficient; and this speaker now appeared, as if appointed for the business.

Wladomir, one of the Bohemian Magnates, the highest after the Duke, had long sighed for the enchanting Libussa, and wooed her during Father Krokus's lifetime. The youth being one of his most faithful vassals, and beloved by him as a son, the worthy Krokus could have wished well that love would unite this pair; but the coyness of the maiden was insuperable, and he would in nowise force her inclination. Prince Wladomir, however, would not be deterred by these doubtful aspects; but still hoped, by fidelity and constancy, to tire out the hard heart of the Fräulein, and by his tender attentions make it soft and pliant. He continued in the Duke's retinue to the end, without appearing by this means to have advanced a hair's-breadth towards the goal of his desires. But now, he thought, an opportunity was offered him for opening her closed heart by a meritorious deed, and earning from her noble-minded gratitude what love did not seem inclined to grant him voluntarily. He determined on braving the hatred and vengeance of the two dreaded sisters, and raising his beloved to her paternal throne. Observing the indecision of the wavering assembly, he addressed them, and said:

"If ye will hear me, ye courageous Knights and Nobles from among the people, I will lay before you a similitude, by which you shall perceive how this coming choice may be accomplished, to the weal and profit of the land."

Silence being ordered, he proceeded thus:

"The Bees had lost their Queen, and the whole hive sat sad and moping; they flew seldom and sluggishly out, had small heart or activity in honey-making, and their trade and sustenance fell into decay. Therefore they resolved upon a new sovereign, to[Pg 75] rule over their community, that discipline and order might not be lost from among them. Then came the Wasp flying towards them, and said: 'Choose me for your Queen, I am mighty and terrible; the strong horse is afraid of my sting; with it I can even defy the lion, your hereditary foe, and prick him in the snout when he approaches your store: I will watch you and defend you.' This speech was pleasant to the Bees; but after deeply considering it, the wisest among them answered: 'Thou art stout and dreadful, but even the sting which is to guard us we fear: thou canst not be our Queen.' Then the Humble-bee came buzzing towards them, and said: 'Choose me for your Queen; hear ye not that the sounding of my wings announces loftiness and dignity? Nor is a sting wanting to me, wherewith to protect you.' The Bees answered: 'We are a peaceable and quiet people; the proud sounding of thy wings would annoy us, and disturb the continuance of our diligence: thou canst not be our Queen.' Then the Royal-bee requested audience: 'Though I am larger and stronger than you,' said she, 'my strength cannot hurt or damage you; for, lo, the dangerous sting is altogether wanting. I am soft of temper, a friend of order and thrift, can guide your honey-making, and further your labour.' 'Then,' said the Bees, 'thou art worthy to rule over us: we obey thee; be our Queen.'"

Wladomir was silent. The whole assembly guessed the meaning of his speech, and the minds of all were in a favourable tone for Fräulein Libussa. But at the moment when the vote was to be put, a croaking raven flew over their heads: this evil omen interrupted all deliberations, and the meeting was adjourned till the morrow. It was Fräulein Bela who had sent this bird of black augury to stop their operations, for she well knew how the minds of the Electors were inclining; and Prince Wladomir had raised her bitterest spleen against him. She held a secret consultation with her sister Therba; when it was determined to take vengeance on their common slanderer, and to dispatch a heavy Incubus to suffocate the soul from his body. The stout Knight, dreaming nothing of this danger, went, as he was wont, to wait upon his mistress, and was favoured by her with the first friendly look; from which he failed not to presage for himself a heaven of delight; and if anything could still have increased his rapture, it must have been the gift of a rose, which was blooming on the Fräulein's breast, and which she reached him, with an injunction to let it wither on his heart. He interpreted these words quite[Pg 76] otherwise than they were meant; for of all the sciences, there is none so deceitful as the science of expounding in matters of love: here errors, as it were, have their home. The enamoured Knight was anxious to preserve his rose as long as possible in freshness and bloom; he put it in a flower-pot among water, and fell asleep with the most flattering hopes.

At gloomy midnight, the destroying angel sent by Fräulein Bela glided towards him; with panting breath blew off the bolts and locks of his apartment; lighted like a mountain of lead upon the slumbering Knight, and so squeezed him together, that he felt on awakening as if a millstone had been hung about his neck. In this agonising suffocation, thinking that the last moment of his life was at hand, he happily remembered the rose, which was standing by his bed in a flower-pot, and pressed it to his breast, saying: "Wither with me, fair rose, and die on my chilled bosom, as a proof that my last thought was directed to thy gentle mistress." In an instant all was light about his heart; the heavy Incubus could not withstand the magic force of the flower; his crushing weight would not now have balanced a feather; his antipathy to the perfume soon scared him from the chamber; and the narcotic virtue of this rose-odour again lulled the Knight into refreshing sleep. He rose with the sun next morning, fresh and alert, and rode to the field, to see what impression his similitude had made on the Electors, and to watch what course the business was about to take; determined at all hazards, should a contrary wind spring up, and threaten with shipwreck the vessel of his hopes, to lay his hand upon the rudder, and steer it into port.

For the present this was not required. The electing Senate had considered Wladomir's parable, and so sedulously ruminated and digested it overnight, that it had passed into their hearts and spirits. A stout Knight, who espied this favourable crisis, and who sympathised in the concerns of his heart with the enamoured Wladomir, was endeavouring to snatch away, or at least to share with him, the honour of exalting Fräulein Libussa to the throne. He stept forth, and drew his sword, and with a loud voice proclaimed Libussa Duchess of Bohemia, calling upon all who thought as he did, to draw their swords and justify the choice. In a moment hundreds of swords were gleaming through the field; a loud huzza announced the new Regent, and on all sides arose the joyful shout: "Libussa be our Duchess!" A commission[Pg 77] was appointed, with Wladomir and the stout sword-drawer at its head, to acquaint the Fräulein with her exaltation to the princely rank. With that modest blush, which gives the highest grace to female charms, she accepted the sovereignty over the people; and the magic of her enrapturing look made all hearts subject to her. The nation celebrated the event with vast rejoicings: and although her two sisters envied her, and employed their secret arts to obtain revenge on her and their country for the slight which had been put upon them, and endeavoured by the leaven of criticism, by censuring all the measures and transactions of their sister, to produce a hurtful fermentation in the state, yet Libussa was enabled wisely to encounter this unsisterly procedure, and to ruin all the hostile projects, magical or other, of these ungentle persons; till at last, weary of assailing her in vain, they ceased to employ their ineffectual arts against her.

The sighing Wladomir awaited, in the mean time, with wistful longing, the unfolding of his fate. More than once he had tried to read the final issue of it in the fair eyes of his Princess; but Libussa had enjoined them strict silence respecting the feelings of her heart; and for a lover, without prior treaty with the eyes and their significant glances, to demand an oral explanation, is at all times an unhappy undertaking. The only favourable sign, which still sustained his hopes, was the unfaded rose; for after a year had passed away, it still bloomed as fresh as on the night when he received it from her fair hand. A flower from a lady's hand, a nosegay, a ribbon, or a lock of hair, is certainly in all cases better than an empty nut; yet all these pretty things are but ambiguous pledges of love, if they have not borrowed meaning from some more trustworthy revelation. Wladomir had nothing for it but to play in silence the part of a sighing shepherd, and to watch what Time and Chance might in the long-run do to help him. The unquiet Mizisla pursued his courtship with far more vivacity: he pressed forward on every occasion where he could obtain her notice. At the coronation, he had been the first that took the oath of fealty to the Princess; he followed her inseparably, as the Moon does the Earth, to express by unbidden offices of zeal his devotion to her person; and on public solemnities and processions, he flourished his sword before her, to keep its good services in her remembrance.

Yet Libussa seemed, like other people in the world, to have very speedily forgotten the promoters of her fortune; for when an[Pg 78] obelisk is once standing perpendicular, one heeds not the levers and implements which raised it; so at least the claimants of her heart explained the Fräulein's coldness. Meanwhile both of them were wrong in their opinion: the Fräulein was neither insensible nor ungrateful; but her heart was no longer a free piece of property, which she could give or sell according to her pleasure. The decree of Love had already passed in favour of the trim Forester with the sure cross-bow. The first impression, which the sight of him had made upon her heart, was still so strong, that no second could efface it. In a period of three years, the colours of imagination, in which that Divinity had painted the image of the graceful youth, had no whit abated in their brightness; and love therefore continued altogether unimpaired. For the passion of the fair sex is of this nature, that if it can endure three moons, it will then last three times three years, or longer if required. In proof of this, see the instances occurring daily before our eyes. When the heroes of Germany sailed over distant seas, to fight out the quarrel of a self-willed daughter of Britain with her motherland, they tore themselves from the arms of their dames with mutual oaths of truth and constancy; yet before the last Buoy of the Weser had got astern of them, the heroic navigators were for most part forgotten of their Chloes. The fickle among these maidens, out of grief to find their hearts unoccupied, hastily supplied the vacuum by the surrogate of new intrigues; but the faithful and true, who had constancy enough to stand the Weser-proof, and had still refrained from infidelity when the conquerors of their hearts had got beyond the Black Buoy, these, it is said, preserved their vow unbroken till the return of the heroic host into their German native country; and are still expecting from the hand of Love the recompense of their unwearied perseverance.

It is therefore less surprising that the fair Libussa, under these circumstances, could withstand the courting of the brilliant chivalry who struggled for her love, than that Penelope of Ithaca could let a whole cohort of wooers sigh for her in vain, when her heart had nothing in reserve but the gray-headed Ulysses. Rank and birth, however, had established such a difference in the situations of the Fräulein and of her beloved youth, that any closer union than Platonic love, a shadowy business which can neither warm nor nourish, was not readily to be expected. Though in those distant times, the pairing of the sexes was as little estimated by parchments and genealogical trees, as the chaffers were[Pg 79] arranged by their antennæ and shell-wings, or the flowers by their pistils, stamina, calix and honey-produce; it was understood that with the lofty elm the precious vine should mate itself, and not the rough tangleweed which creeps along the hedges. A misassortment of marriage from a difference of rank an inch in breadth excited, it is true, less uproar than in these our classic times; yet a difference of an ell in breadth, especially when rivals occupied the interstice, and made the distance of the two extremities more visible, was even then a thing which men could notice. All this, and much more, did the Fräulein accurately ponder in her prudent heart; therefore she granted Passion, the treacherous babbler, no audience, loudly as it spoke in favour of the youth whom Love had honoured. Like a chaste vestal, she made an irrevocable vow to persist through life in her virgin closeness of heart; and to answer no inquiry of a wooer, either with her eyes, or her gestures, or her lips; yet reserving to herself, as a just indemnification, the right of platonising to any length she liked. This nunlike system suited the aspirants' way of thought so ill, that they could not in the least comprehend the killing coldness of their mistress; Jealousy, the confidant of Love, whispered torturing suspicion in their ears; each thought the other was the happy rival, and their penetration spied about unweariedly to make discoveries, which both of them recoiled from. Yet Fräulein Libussa weighed out her scanty graces to the two valiant Ritters with such prudence and acuteness, on so fair a balance, that the scale of neither rose above the other.

Weary of this fruitless waiting, both of them retired from the Court of their Princess, and settled, with secret discontent, upon the affeoffments which Duke Krokus had conferred on them. They brought so much ill-humour home with them, that Wladomir was an oppression to all his vassals and his neighbours; and Ritter Mizisla, on the other hand, became a hunter, followed deer and foxes over the seed-fields and fences of his subjects, and often with his train, to catch one hare, would ride ten acres of corn to nothing. In consequence, arose much sobbing and bewailing in the land; yet no righteous judge stepped forth to stay the mischief; for who would willingly give judgment against the stronger? And so the sufferings of the people never reached the throne of the Duchess. By the virtue of her second-sight, however, no injustice done within the wide limits of her sway could escape her observation; and the disposition of her mind being soft, like the[Pg 80] sweet features of her face, she sorrowed inwardly at the misdeeds of her vassals, and the violence of the powerful. She took counsel with herself how the evil might be remedied, and her wisdom suggested an imitation of the gods, who, in their judicial procedure, do not fall upon the criminal, and cut him off as it were with the red hand; though vengeance, following with slow steps, sooner or later overtakes him. The young Princess appointed a general Convention of her Chivalry and States, and made proclamation, that whoever had a grievance or a wrong to be righted, should come forward free and fearless, under her safe-conduct. Thereupon, from every end and corner of her dominions, the maltreated and oppressed crowded towards her; the wranglers also, and litigious persons, and whoever had a legal cause against his neighbour. Libussa sat upon her throne, like the goddess Themis, and passed sentence, without respect of persons, with unerring judgment; for the labyrinthic mazes of chicane could not lead her astray, as they do the thick heads of city magistrates; and all men were astonished at the wisdom with which she unravelled the perplexed hanks of processes for meum and tuum, and at her unwearied patience in picking out the threads of justice, never once catching a false end, but passing them from side to side of their embroilments, and winding them off to the uttermost thrum.

When the tumult of the parties at her bar had by degrees diminished, and the sittings were about to be concluded, on the last day of these assizes audience was demanded by a free neighbour of the potent Wladomir, and by deputies from the subjects of the hunter Mizisla. They were admitted, and the Freeholder first addressing her, began: "An industrious planter," said he, "fenced-in a little circuit, on the bank of a broad river, whose waters glided down with soft rushing through the green valley; for, he thought, The fair stream will be a guard to me on this side, that no hungry wild-beast eat my crops, and it will moisten the roots of my fruit-trees, that they flourish speedily and bring me fruit. But when the earnings of his toil were about to ripen, the deceitful stream grew troubled; its still waters began to swell and roar, it overflowed its banks, and carried one piece after another of the fruitful soil along with it; and dug itself a bed through the middle of the cultivated land; to the sorrow of the poor planter, who had to give up his little property to the malicious wasting of his strong neighbour, the raging of whose waves he himself escaped with difficulty. Puissant daughter of the wise[Pg 81] Krokus, the poor planter entreats of thee to command the haughty river no longer to roll its proud billows over the field of the toilsome husbandman, or wash away the fruit of his weary arms, his hope of glad harvest; but to flow peacefully along within the limits of its own channel."

During this speech, the cheerful brow of the fair Libussa became overclouded; manly rigour gleamed from her eyes, and all around was ear to catch her sentence, which ran thus: "Thy cause is plain and straight; no force shall disturb thy rightful privileges. A dike, which it shall not overpass, shall set bounds to the tumultuous river; and from its fishes thou shalt be repaid sevenfold the plunder of its wasteful billows." Then she beckoned to the eldest of the Deputies, and he bowed his face to the earth, and said: "Wise daughter of the far-famed Krokus, Whose is the grain upon the field, the sower's, who has hidden the seed-corn in the ground that it spring up and bear fruit; or the tempest's, which breaks it and scatters it away?" She answered: "The sower's."—"Then command the tempest," said the spokesman, "that it choose not our corn-fields for the scene of its caprices, to uproot our crops and shake the fruit from our trees."—"So be it," said the Duchess; "I will tame the tempest, and banish it from your fields; it shall battle with the clouds, and disperse them, where they are rising from the south, and threatening the land with hail and heavy weather."

Prince Wladomir and Ritter Mizisla were both assessors in the general tribunal. On hearing the complaint, and the rigorous sentence passed regarding it, they waxed pale, and looked down upon the ground with suppressed indignation; not daring to discover how sharply it stung them to be condemned by a decree from female lips. For although, out of tenderness to their honour, the complainants had modestly overhung the charge with an allegorical veil, which the righteous sentence of the fair President had also prudently respected, yet the texture of this covering was so fine and transparent, that whoever had an eye might see what stood behind it. But as they dared not venture to appeal from the judgment-seat of the Princess to the people, since the sentence passed upon them had excited universal joy, they submitted to it, though with great reluctance. Wladomir indemnified his freeholding neighbour sevenfold for the mischief done him; and Nimrod Mizisla engaged, on the honour of a knight, no more to select the corn-fields of his subjects as a chase for hare-catching.[Pg 82] Libussa, at the same time, pointed out to them a more respectable employment, for occupying their activity, and restoring to their fame, which now, like a cracked pot when struck, emitted nothing but discords, the sound ring of knightly virtues. She placed them at the head of an army, which she was dispatching to encounter Zornebock, the Prince of the Sorbi, a giant, and a powerful magician withal, who was then meditating war against Bohemia. This commission she accompanied with the penance, that they were not to appear again at Court, till the one could offer her the plume, the other the golden spurs, of the monster, as tokens of their victory.

The unfading rose, during this campaign, displayed its magic virtues once more. By means of it, Prince Wladomir was as invulnerable to mortal weapons, as Achilles the Hero; and as nimble, quick and dextrous, as Achilles the Light-of-foot. The armies met upon the southern boundaries of the Kingdom, and joined in fierce battle. The Bohemian heroes flew through the squadrons, like storm and whirlwind; and cut down the thick spear-crop, as the scythe of the mower cuts a field of hay. Zornebock fell beneath the strong dints of their falchions; they returned in triumph with the stipulated spoils to Vizegrad; and the spots and blemishes, which had soiled their knightly virtue, were now washed clean away in the blood of their enemies. Libussa bestowed on them every mark of princely honour, dismissed them to their homes when the army was discharged; and gave them, as a new token of her favour, a purple-red apple from her pleasure-garden, for a memorial of her by the road, enjoining them to part the same peacefully between them, without cutting it in two. They then went their way; put the apple on a shield, and had it borne before them as a public spectacle, while they consulted together how the parting of it might be prudently effected, according to the meaning of its gentle giver.

While the point where their roads divided lay before them at a distance, they proceeded with their partition-treaty in the most accommodating mood; but at last it became necessary to determine which of the two should have the apple in his keeping, for both had equal shares in it, and only one could get it, though each promised to himself great wonders from the gift, and was eager to obtain possession of it. They split in their opinions on this matter; and things went so far, that it appeared as if the sword must decide, to whom this indivisible apple had been allotted[Pg 83] by the fortune of arms. But a shepherd driving his flock overtook them as they stood debating; him they selected (apparently in imitation of the Three Goddesses, who also applied to a shepherd to decide their famous apple-quarrel), and made arbiter of their dispute, and laid the business in detail before him. The shepherd thought a little, then said: "In the gift of this apple lies a deep-hidden meaning; but who can bring it out, save the sage Virgin who hid it there? For myself, I conceive the apple is a treacherous fruit, that has grown upon the Tree of Discord, and its purple skin may prefigure bloody feud between your worshipful knightships; that each is to cut off the other, and neither of you get enjoyment of the gift. For, tell me, how is it possible to part an apple, without cutting it in twain?" The Knights took the shepherd's speech to heart, and thought there was a deal of truth in it. "Thou hast judged rightly," said they: "Has not this base apple already kindled anger and contention between us? Were we not standing harnessed to fight, for the deceitful gift of this proud Princess? Did she not put us at the head of her army, with intention to destroy us? And having failed in this, she now arms our hands with the weapons of discord against each other! We renounce her crafty present; neither of us will have the apple. Be it thine, as the reward of thy righteous sentence: to the judge belongs the fruit of the process, and to the parties the rind."

The Knights then went their several ways, while the herdsman consumed the objectum litis with all the composure and conveniency common among judges. The ambiguous present of the Duchess cut them to the heart; and as they found, on returning home, that they could no longer treat their subjects and vassals in the former arbitrary fashion, but were forced to obey the laws, which Fräulein Libussa had promulgated for the general security among her people, their ill humour grew more deep and rancorous. They entered into a league offensive and defensive with each other; made a party for themselves in the country; and many mutinous wrongheads joined them, and were sent abroad in packs to decry and calumniate the government of women. "Shame! Shame!" cried they, "that we must obey a woman, who gathers our victorious laurels to decorate a distaff with them! The Man should be master of the house, and not the Wife; this is his special right, and so it is established everywhere, among all people. What is an army without a Duke to go before his warriors, but a[Pg 84] helpless trunk without a head? Let us appoint a Prince, who may be ruler over us, and whom we may obey."

These seditious speeches were no secret to the watchful Princess; nor was she ignorant what wind blew them thither, or what its sounding boded. Therefore she convened a deputation of the States; entered their assembly with the stateliness of an earthly goddess, and the words of her mouth dropped like honey from her virgin lips. "A rumour flies about the land," said she, "that you desire a Duke to go before you to battle, and that you reckon it inglorious to obey me any longer. Yet, in a free and unconstrained election, you yourselves did not choose a man from among you; but called one of the daughters of the people, and clothed her with the purple, to rule over you according to the laws and customs of the land. Whoso can accuse me of error in conducting the government, let him step forward openly and freely, and bear witness against me. But if I, after the manner of my father Krokus, have done prudently and justly in the midst of you, making crooked things straight, and rough places plain; if I have secured your harvests from the spoiler, guarded the fruit-tree, and snatched the flock from the claws of the wolf; if I have bowed the stiff neck of the violent, assisted the down-pressed, and given the weak a staff to rest on; then will it beseem you to live according to your covenant, and be true, gentle and helpful to me, as in doing fealty to me you engaged. If you reckon it inglorious to obey a woman, you should have thought of this before appointing me to be your Princess; if there is disgrace here, it is you alone who ought to bear it. But your procedure shows you not to understand your own advantage: for woman's hand is soft and tender, accustomed only to waft cool air with the fan; and sinewy and rude is the arm of man, heavy and oppressive when it grasps the supreme control. And know ye not that where a woman governs, the rule is in the power of men? For she gives heed to wise counsellors, and these gather round her. But where the distaff excludes from the throne, there is the government of females; for the women, that please the king's eyes, have his heart in their hand. Therefore, consider well of your attempt, lest ye repent your fickleness too late."

The fair speaker ceased; and a deep reverent silence reigned throughout the hall of meeting; none presumed to utter a word against her. Yet Prince Wladomir and his allies desisted not from their intention, but whispered in each other's ear: "The[Pg 85] sly Doe is loath to quit the fat pastures; but the hunter's horn shall sound yet louder, and scare her forth."[14] Next day they prompted the knights to call loudly on the Princess to choose a husband within three days, and by the choice of her heart to give the people a Prince, who might divide with her the cares of government. At this unexpected requisition, coming as it seemed from the voice of the nation, a virgin blush overspread the cheeks of the lovely Princess; her clear eye discerned all the sunken cliffs, which threatened her with peril. For even if, according to the custom of the great world, she should determine upon subjecting her inclination to her state-policy, she could only give her hand to one suitor, and she saw well that all the remaining candidates would take it as a slight, and begin to meditate revenge. Besides, the private vow of her heart was inviolable and sacred in her eyes. Therefore she endeavoured prudently to turn aside this importunate demand of the States; and again attempted to persuade them altogether to renounce their schemes of innovation. "The eagle being dead," said she, "the birds chose the Ring-dove for their queen, and all of them obeyed her soft cooing call. But light and airy, as is the nature of birds, they soon altered their determination, and repented them that they had made it. The proud Peacock thought that it beseemed him better to be ruler; the keen Falcon, accustomed to make the smaller birds his prey, reckoned it disgraceful to obey the peaceful Dove; they formed a party, and appointed the weak-eyed Owl to be the spokesman of their combination, and propose a new election of a sovereign. The sluggish Bustard, the heavy-bodied Heath-cock, the lazy Stork, the small-brained Heron, and all the larger birds chuckled, flapped, and croaked applause to him; and the host of little birds twittered, in their simplicity, and chirped out of bush and grove to the same tune. Then arose the warlike Kite, and soared boldly up into the air, and the birds cried out: 'What a majestic flight! The brave, strong Kite shall be our King!' Scarcely had the plundering bird taken possession of the throne, when he manifested his activity and courage on his winged subjects, in deeds of tyranny and caprice: he plucked the feathers from the larger fowls, and eat the little songsters."

[14] Invita de lætioribus pascuis, autor seditionis inquit, bucula ista decedit; sed jam vi inde deturbanda est, si suâ sponte loco suo concedere viro alicui principi noluerit.—Dubravius.

Significant as this oration was, it made but a small impression[Pg 86] on the minds of the people, hungering and thirsting after change; and they abode by their determination, that within three days, Fräulein Libussa should select herself a husband. At this, Prince Wladomir rejoiced in heart; for now, he thought, he should secure the fair prey, for which he had so long been watching in vain. Love and ambition inflamed his wishes, and put eloquence into his mouth, which had hitherto confined itself to secret sighing. He came to Court, and required audience of the Duchess.

"Gracious ruler of thy people and my heart," thus he addressed her, "from thee no secret is hidden; thou knowest the flames which burn in this bosom, holy and pure as on the altar of the gods, and thou knowest also what fire has kindled them. It is now appointed, that at the behest of thy people, thou give the land a Prince. Wilt thou disdain a heart, which lives and beats for thee? To be worthy of thy love, I risked my life to put thee on the throne of thy father. Grant me the merit of retaining thee upon it by the bond of tender affection: let us divide the possession of thy throne and thy heart; the first be thine, the second be mine, and my happiness will be exalted beyond the lot of mortals."

Fräulein Libussa wore a most maidenlike appearance during this oration, and covered her face with her veil, to hide the soft blush which deepened the colour of her cheeks. On its conclusion, she made a sign with her hand, not opening her lips, for the Prince to step aside; as if she would consider what she should resolve upon, in answer to his suit.

Immediately the brisk Knight Mizisla announced himself, and desired to be admitted.

"Loveliest of the daughters of princes," said he, as he entered the audience-chamber, "the fair Ring-dove, queen of the air, must no longer, as thou well knowest, coo in solitude, but take to herself a mate. The proud Peacock, it is talked, holds up his glittering plumage in her eyes, and thinks to blind her by the splendour of his feathers; but she is prudent and modest, and will not unite herself with the haughty Peacock. The keen Falcon, once a plundering bird, has now changed his nature; is gentle and honest, and without deceit; for he loves the fair Dove, and would fain that she mated with him. That his bill is hooked and his talons, sharp, must not mislead thee: he needs them to protect the fair Dove his darling, that no bird hurt her, or disturb the habitation of her rule; for he is true and kindly to her, and first swore fealty[Pg 87] on the day when she was crowned. Now tell me, wise Princess, if the soft Dove will grant to her trusty Falcon the love which he longs for?"

Fräulein Libussa did as she had done before; beckoned to the Knight to step aside; and, after waiting for a space, she called the two rivals into her presence, and spoke thus:

"I owe you great thanks, noble Knights, for your help in obtaining me the princely crown of Bohemia, which my father Krokus honourably wore. The zeal, of which you remind me, had not faded from my remembrance; nor is it hid from my knowledge, that you virtuously love me, for your looks and gestures have long been the interpreters of your feelings. That I shut up my heart against you, and did not answer love with love, regard not as insensibility; it was not meant for slight or scorn, but for harmoniously determining a choice which was doubtful. I weighed your merits, and the tongue of the trying balance bent to neither side. Therefore I resolved on leaving the decision of your fate to yourselves; and offered you the possession of my heart, under the figure of an enigmatic apple; that it might be seen to which of you the greater measure of judgment and wisdom had been given, in appropriating to himself this gift, which could not be divided. Now tell me without delay, In whose hands is the apple? Whichever of you has won it from the other, let him from this hour receive my throne and my heart as the prize of his skill."

The two rivals looked at one another with amazement; grew pale, and held their peace. At last, after a long pause, Prince Wladomir broke silence, and said:

"The enigmas of the wise are, to the foolish, a nut in a toothless mouth, a pearl which the cock scratches from the sand, a lantern in the hand of the blind. O Princess, be not wroth with us, that we neither knew the use nor the value of thy gift; we misinterpreted thy purpose; thought that thou hadst cast an apple of contention on our path, to awaken us to strife and deadly feud; therefore each gave up his share, and we renounced the divisive fruit, whose sole possession neither of us would have peaceably allowed the other!"

"You have given sentence on yourselves," replied the Fräulein: "if an apple could inflame your jealousy, what fighting would ye not have fought for a myrtle-garland twined about a crown!"

With this response she dismissed the Knights, who now[Pg 88] lamented that they had given ear to the unwise arbiter, and thoughtlessly cast away the pledge of love, which, as it appeared, had been the casket of their fairest hopes. They meditated severally how they might still execute their purpose, and by force or guile get possession of the throne, with its lovely occupant.

Fräulein Libussa, in the mean while, was not spending in idleness the three days given her for consideration; but diligently taking counsel with herself, how she might meet the importunate demand of her people, give Bohemia a Duke, and herself a husband according to the choice of her heart. She dreaded lest Prince Wladomir might still more pressingly assail her, and perhaps deprive her of the throne. Necessity combined with love to make her execute a plan, with which she had often entertained herself as with a pleasant dream; for what mortal's head has not some phantom walking in it, towards which he turns in a vacant hour, to play with it as with a puppet? There is no more pleasing pastime for a strait-shod maiden, when her galled corns are resting from the toils of the pavement, than to think of a stately and commodious equipage; the coy beauty dreams gladly of counts sighing at her feet; Avarice gets prizes in the Lottery; the debtor in the jail falls heir to vast possessions; the squanderer discovers the Hermetic Secret; and the poor woodcutter finds a treasure in the hollow of a tree; all merely in fancy, yet not without the enjoyment of a secret satisfaction. The gift of prophecy has always been united with a warm imagination; thus the fair Libussa had, like others, willingly and frequently given heed to this seductive playmate, which, in kind companionship, had always entertained her with the figure of the young Archer, so indelibly impressed upon her heart. Thousands of projects came into her mind, which Fancy palmed on her as feasible and easy. At one time she formed schemes of drawing forth her darling youth from his obscurity, placing him in the army, and raising him from one post of honour to another; and then instantly she bound a laurel garland about his temples, and led him, crowned with victory and honour, to the throne she could have been so glad to share with him. At other times, she gave a different turn to the romance: she equipped her darling as a knight-errant, seeking for adventures; brought him to her Court, and changed him into a Huon of Bourdeaux; nor was the wondrous furniture wanting, for endowing him as highly as Friend Oberon did his ward. But when Common Sense again got possession of the maiden's soul, the many-coloured forms of the[Pg 89] magic lantern waxed pale in the beam of prudence, and the fair vision vanished into air. She then bethought her what hazards would attend such an enterprise; what mischief for her people, when jealousy and envy raised the hearts of her grandees in rebellion against her, and the alarum beacon of discord gave the signal for uproar and sedition in the land. Therefore she sedulously hid the wishes of her heart from the keen glance of the spy, and disclosed no glimpse of them to any one.

But now, when the people were clamouring for a Prince, the matter had assumed another form: the point would now be attained, could she combine her wishes with the national demand. She strengthened her soul with manly resolution; and as the third day dawned, she adorned herself with all her jewels, and her head was encircled with the myrtle crown. Attended by her maidens, all decorated with flower garlands, she ascended the throne, full of lofty courage and soft dignity. The assemblage of knights and vassals around her stood in breathless attention, to learn from her lips the name of the happy Prince with whom she had resolved to share her heart and throne. "Ye nobles of my people," thus she spoke, "the lot of your destiny still lies untouched in the urn of concealment; you are still free as my coursers that graze in the meadows, before the bridle and the bit have curbed them, or their smooth backs have been pressed by the burden of the saddle and the rider. It now rests with you to signify, Whether, in the space allowed me for the choice of a spouse, your hot desire for a Prince to rule over you has cooled, and given place to more calm scrutiny of this intention; or you still persist inflexibly in your demand." She paused for a moment; but the hum of the multitude, the whispering and buzzing, and looks of the whole Senate, did not long leave her in uncertainty, and their speaker ratified the conclusion, that the vote was still for a Duke. "Then be it so!" said she; "the die is cast, the issue of it stands not with me! The gods have appointed, for the kingdom of Bohemia, a Prince who shall sway its sceptre with justice and wisdom. The young cedar does not yet overtop the firm-set oaks; concealed among the trees of the forest it grows, encircled with ignoble shrubs; but soon it shall send forth branches to give shade to its roots; and its top shall touch the clouds. Choose a deputation, ye nobles of the people, of twelve honourable men from among you, that they hasten to seek out the Prince, and attend him to the throne. My steed will point out your path; unloaded and free it shall course on before[Pg 90] you; and as a token that you have found what you are sent forth to seek, observe that the man whom the gods have selected for your Prince, at the time when you approach him, will be eating his repast on an iron table, under the open sky, in the shadow of a solitary tree. To him you shall do reverence, and clothe his body with the princely robe. The white horse will let him mount it, and bring him hither to the Court, that he may be my husband and your lord."

She then left the assembly, with the cheerful yet abashed countenance which brides wear, when they look for the arrival of the bridegroom. At her speech there was much wondering; and the prophetic spirit breathing from it worked upon the general mind like a divine oracle, which the populace blindly believe, and which thinkers alone attempt investigating. The messengers of honour were selected, the white horse stood in readiness, caparisoned with Asiatic pomp, as if it had been saddled for carrying the Grand Signior to mosque. The cavalcade set forth, attended by the concourse, and the loud huzzaing of the people; and the white horse paced on before. But the train soon vanished from the eyes of the spectators: and nothing could be seen but a little cloud of dust whirling up afar off: for the spirited courser, getting to its mettle when it reached the open air, began a furious gallop, like a British racer, so that the squadron of deputies could hardly keep in sight of it. Though the quick steed seemed abandoned to its own guidance, an unseen power directed its steps, pulled its bridle, and spurred its flanks. Fräulein Libussa, by the magic virtues inherited from her Elfine mother, had contrived so to instruct the courser, that it turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from its path, but with winged steps hastened on to its destination: and she herself, now that all combined to the fulfilment of her wishes, awaited its returning rider with tender longing.

The messengers had in the mean time been soundly galloped; already they had travelled many leagues, up hill and down dale; had swum across the Elbe and the Moldau; and as their gastric juices made them think of dinner, they recalled to mind the strange table, at which, according to the Fräulein's oracle, their new Prince was to be feeding. Their glosses and remarks on it were many. A forward knight observed to his companions: "In my poor view of it, our gracious lady has it in her eye to bilk us, and make April messengers of us; for who ever heard of any man in Bohemia that ate his victuals off an iron table? What use is[Pg 91] it? our sharp galloping will bring us nothing but mockery and scorn." Another, of a more penetrating turn, imagined that the iron table might be allegorical; that they should perhaps fall in with some knight-errant, who, after the manner of the wandering brotherhood, had sat down beneath a tree, and spread out his frugal dinner on his shield. A third said, jesting: "I fear our way will lead us down to the workshop of the Cyclops; and we shall find the lame Vulcan, or one of his journeymen, dining from his stithy, and must bring him to our Venus."

Amid such conversation, they observed their guiding quadruped, which had got a long start of them, turn across a new-ploughed field, and, to their wonder, halt beside the ploughman. They dashed rapidly forward, and found a peasant sitting on an upturned plough, and eating his black bread from the iron ploughshare, which he was using as a table, under the shadow of a fresh pear-tree. He seemed to like the stately horse; he patted it, offered it a bit of bread, and it eat from his hand. The Embassy, of course, was much surprised at this phenomenon; nevertheless, no member of it doubted but that they had found their man. They approached him reverently, and the eldest among them opened his lips, and said: "The Duchess of Bohemia has sent us hither, and bids us signify to thee the will and purpose of the gods, that thou change thy plough with the throne of this kingdom, and thy goad with its sceptre. She selects thee for her husband, to rule with her over the Bohemians." The young peasant thought they meant to banter him; a thing little to his taste, especially as he supposed that they had guessed his love-secret, and were now come to mock his weakness. Therefore he answered somewhat stoutly, to meet mockery with mockery: "But is your dukedom worth this plough? If the prince cannot eat with better relish, drink more joyously, or sleep more soundly than the peasant, then in sooth it is not worth while to change this kindly furrow-field with the Bohemian kingdom, or this smooth ox-goad with its sceptre. For, tell me, Are not three grains of salt as good for seasoning my morsel as three bushels?"

Then one of the Twelve answered: "The purblind mole digs underground for worms to feed upon; for he has no eyes which can endure the daylight, and no feet which are formed for running like the nimble roe; the scaly crab creeps to and fro in the mud of lakes and marshes, delights to dwell under tree-roots and shrubs by the banks of rivers, for he wants the fins for swimming;[Pg 92] and the barn-door cock, cooped up within his hen-fence, risks no flight over the low wall, for he is too timorous to trust in his wings, like the high-soaring bird of prey. Have eyes for seeing, feet for going, fins for swimming, and pinions for flight been allotted thee, thou wilt not grub like a mole underground; nor hide thyself like a dull shell-fish among mud; nor, like the king of the poultry, be content with crowing from the barn-door: but come forward into day; run, swim, or fly into the clouds, as Nature may have furnished thee with gifts. For it suffices not the active man to continue what he is; but he strives to become what he may be. Therefore, do thou try being what the gods have called thee to; then wilt thou judge rightly whether the Bohemian kingdom is worth an acre of corn-land in barter, yea or not."

This earnest oration of the Deputy, in whose face no jesting feature was to be discerned; and still more the insignia of royalty, the purple robe, the sceptre and the golden sword, which the ambassadors brought forward as a reference and certificate of their mission's authenticity, at last overcame the mistrust of the doubting ploughman. All at once, light rose on his soul; a rapturous thought awoke in him, that Libussa had discovered the feelings of his heart; had, by her skill in seeing what was secret, recognised his faithfulness and constancy: and was about to recompense him, so as he had never ventured even in dreams to hope. The gift of prophecy predicted to him by her oracle, then came into his mind; and he thought that now or never it must be fulfilled. Instantly he grasped his hazel staff; stuck it deep into the ploughed land; heaped loose mould about it, as you plant a tree; and, lo, immediately the staff got buds, and shot forth sprouts and boughs with leaves and flowers. Two of the green twigs withered, and their dry leaves became the sport of the wind; but the third grew up the more luxuriantly, and its fruits ripened. Then came the spirit of prophecy upon the rapt ploughman; he opened his mouth, and said: "Ye messengers of the Princess Libussa and of the Bohemian people, hear the words of Primislaus the son of Mnatha, the stout-hearted Knight, for whom, blown upon by the spirit of prophecy, the mists of the Future part asunder. The man who guided the ploughshare, ye have called to seize the handles of your princedom, before his day's work was ended. O that the glebe had been broken by the furrow, to the boundary—stone; so had Bohemia remained an[Pg 93] independent kingdom to the utmost ages! But since ye have disturbed the labour of the plougher too early, the limits of your country will become the heritage of your neighbour, and your distant posterity will be joined to him in unchangeable union. The three twigs of the budding Staff are three sons which your Princess shall bear me: two of them, as unripe shoots, shall speedily wither away; but the third shall inherit the throne, and by him shall the fruit of late grandchildren be matured, till the Eagle soar over your mountains and nestle in the land; yet soon fly thence, and return as to his own possession. And then, when the Son of the Gods arises,[15] who is his plougher's friend, and smites the slave-fetters from his limbs, then mark it, Posterity, for thou shalt bless thy destiny! For when he has trodden under his feet the Dragon of Superstition, he will stretch out his arm against the waxing moon, to pluck it from the firmament, that he may himself illuminate the world as a benignant star."

[15] Emperor Joseph II.

The venerable deputation stood in silent wonder, gazing at the prophetic man, like dumb idols: it was as if a god were speaking by his lips. He himself turned away from them to the two white steers, the associates of his toilsome labour; he unyoked and let them go in freedom from their farm-service; at which they began frisking joyfully upon the grassy lea, but at the same time visibly decreased in bulk; like thin vapour melted into air, and vanished out of sight. Then Primislaus doffed his peasant wooden shoes, and proceeded to the brook to clean himself. The precious robes were laid upon him; he begirt himself with the sword, and had the golden spurs put on him like a knight; then stoutly sprang upon the white horse, which bore him peaceably along. Being now about to quit his still asylum, he commanded the ambassadors to bring his wooden shoes after him, and keep them carefully, as a token that the humblest among the people had once been exalted to the highest dignity in Bohemia; and as a memorial for his posterity to bear their elevation meekly, and, mindful of their origin, to respect and defend the peasantry, from which themselves had sprung. Hence came the ancient practice of exhibiting a pair of wooden shoes before the Kings of Bohemia on their coronation; a custom held in observance till the male line of Primislaus became extinct.

The planted hazel rod bore fruit and grew; striking roots out on every side, and sending forth new shoots, till at last the whole[Pg 94] field was changed into a hazel copse; a circumstance of great advantage to the neighbouring township, which included it within their bounds; for, in memory of this miraculous plantation, they obtained a grant from the Bohemian Kings, exempting them from ever paying any public contribution in the land, except a pint of hazel nuts; which royal privilege their late descendants, as the story runs, are enjoying at this day.[16]

[16] Æneas Sylvius affirms that he saw, with his own eyes, a renewal of this charter from Charles IV. Vidi inter privilegia regni literas Caroli Quarti, Romanorum Imperatoris, divi Sigumundi patris in quibus (villæ illius incolæ) libertate donantur; nec plus tributi pendere jubentur, quam nucum illius arboris exiguam mensuram.

Though the white courser, which was now proudly carrying the bridegroom to his mistress, seemed to outrun the winds, Primislaus did not fail now and then to let him feel the golden spurs, to push him on still faster. The quick gallop seemed to him a tortoise-pace, so keen was his desire to have the fair Libussa, whose form, after seven years, was still so new and lovely in his soul, once more before his eyes; and this not merely as a show, like some bright peculiar anemone in the variegated bed of a flower-garden, but for the blissful appropriation of victorious love. He thought only of the myrtle-crown, which, in the lover's valuation, far outshines the crown of sovereignty; and had he balanced love and rank against each other, the Bohemian throne without Libussa would have darted up, like a clipped ducat in the scales of the money-changer.

The sun was verging to decline, when the new Prince, with his escort, entered Vizegrad. Fräulein Libussa was in her garden, where she had just plucked a basket of ripe plums, when her future husband's arrival was announced to her. She went forth modestly, with all her maidens, to meet him; received him as a bridegroom conducted to her by the gods, veiling the election of her heart under a show of submission to the will of Higher Powers. The eyes of the Court were eagerly directed to the stranger; in whom, however, nothing could be seen but a fair handsome man. In respect of outward form, there were several courtiers who, in thought, did not hesitate to measure with him; and could not understand why the gods should have disdained the anti-chamber, and not selected from it some accomplished and ruddy lord, rather than the sunburnt ploughman, to assist the Princess in her government. Especially in Wladomir and[Pg 95] Mizisla, it was observable that their pretensions were reluctantly withdrawn. It behoved the Fräulein then to vindicate the work of the gods; and show that Squire Primislaus had been indemnified for the defect of splendid birth, by a fair equivalent in sterling common sense and depth of judgment. She had caused a royal banquet to be prepared, no whit inferior to the feast with which the hospitable Dido entertained her pious guest Æneas. The cup of welcome passed diligently round, the presents of the Princess had excited cheerfulness and good-humour, and a part of the night had already vanished amid jests and pleasant pastime, when Libussa set on foot a game at riddles; and, as the discovery of hidden things was her proper trade, she did not fail to solve, with satisfactory decision, all the riddles that were introduced.

When her own turn came to propose one, she called Prince Wladomir, Mizisla and Primislaus to her, and said: "Fair sirs, it is now for you to read a riddle, which I shall submit to you, that it may be seen who among you is the wisest and of keenest judgment. I intended, for you three, a present of this basket of plums, which I plucked in my garden. One of you shall have the half, and one over; the next shall have the half of what remains, and one over; the third shall again have the half, and three over. Now, if so be that the basket is then emptied, tell me, How many plums are in it now?"

The headlong Ritter Mizisla took the measure of the fruit with his eye, not the sense of the riddle with his understanding, and said: "What can be decided with the sword I might undertake to decide; but thy riddles, gracious Princess, are, I fear, too hard for me. Yet at thy request I will risk an arrow at the bull's-eye, let it hit or miss: I suppose there is a matter of some three score plums in the basket."

"Thou hast missed, dear Knight," said Fräulein Libussa. "Were there as many again, half as many, and a third part as many as the basket has in it, and five over, there would then be as many above three score as there are now below it."

Prince Wladomir computed as laboriously and anxiously, as if the post of Comptroller-General of Finances had depended on a right solution; and at last brought out the net product five-and-forty. The Fräulein then said:

"Were there a third, and a half, and a sixth as many again of them, the number would exceed forty-five as much as it now falls short of it."

[Pg 96]

Though, in our days, any man endowed with the arithmetical faculty of a tapster, might have solved this problem without difficulty, yet, for an untaught computant, the gift of divination was essential, if he meant to get out of the affair with honour, and not stick in the middle of it with disgrace. As the wise Primislaus was happily provided with this gift, it cost him neither art nor exertion to find the answer.

"Familiar companion of the heavenly Powers," said he, "whoso undertakes to pierce thy high celestial meaning, undertakes to soar after the eagle when he hides himself in the clouds. Yet I will pursue thy hidden flight, as far as the eye, to which thou hast given its light, will reach. I judge that of the plums which thou hast laid in the basket, there are thirty in number, not one fewer, and none more."

The Fräulein cast a kindly glance on him, and said: "Thou tracest the glimmering ember, which lies deep-hid among the ashes; for thee light dawns out of darkness and vapour: thou hast read my riddle."

Thereupon she opened her basket, and counted out fifteen plums, and one over, into Prince Wladomir's hat, and fourteen remained. Of these she gave Ritter Mizisla seven and one over, and there were still six in the basket; half of these she gave the wise Primislaus and three over, and the basket was empty. The whole Court was lost in wonder at the fair Libussa's ciphering gift, and at the penetration of her cunning spouse. Nobody could comprehend how human wit was able, on the one hand, to enclose a common number so mysteriously in words; or, on the other hand, to drag it forth so accurately from its enigmatical concealment. The empty basket she conferred upon the two Knights, who had failed in soliciting her love, to remind them that, their suit was voided. Hence comes it, that when a wooer is rejected, people say, His love has given him the basket, even to the present day.

So soon as all was ready for the nuptials and coronation, both these ceremonies were transacted with becoming pomp. Thus the Bohemian people had obtained a Duke, and the fair Libussa had obtained a husband, each according to the wish of their hearts; and what was somewhat wonderful, by virtue of Chicane, an agent who has not the character of being too beneficent or prosperous. And if either of the parties had been overreached in any measure, it at least was not the fair Libussa.[Pg 97] Bohemia had a Duke in name, but the administration now, as formerly, continued in the female hand. Primislaus was the proper pattern of a tractable obedient husband, and contested with his Duchess neither the direction of her house nor of her empire. His sentiments and wishes sympathised with hers, as perfectly as two accordant strings, of which when the one is struck, the other voluntarily trembles to the self-same note. Nor was Libussa like those haughty overbearing dames, who would pass for great matches; and having, as they think, made the fortune of some hapless wight, continually remind him of his wooden shoes: but she resembled the renowned Palmyran Queen; and ruled, as Zenobia did her kindly Odenatus, by superiority of mental talent.

The happy couple lived in the enjoyment of unchangeable love; according to the fashion of those times, when the instinct which united hearts was as firm and durable, as the mortar and cement with which they built their indestructible strongholds. Duke Primislaus soon became one of the most accomplished and valiant knights of his time, and the Bohemian Court the most splendid in Germany. By degrees, many knights and nobles, and multitudes of people from all quarters of the empire, drew to it; so that Vizegrad became too narrow for its inhabitants; and, in consequence, Libussa called her officers before her, and commanded them to found a city, on the spot where they should find a man at noontide making the wisest use of his teeth. They set forth, and at the time appointed found a man engaged in sawing a block of wood. They judged that this industrious character was turning his saw-teeth, at noontide, to a far better use than the parasite does his jaw-teeth by the table of the great; and doubted not but they had found the spot, intended by the Princess for the site of their town. They marked out a space upon the green with the ploughshare, for the circuit of the city walls. On asking the workman what he meant to make of his sawed timber, he replied, "Prah," which in the Bohemian language signifies a door-threshold. So Libussa called her new city Praha, that is Prague, the well-known capital upon the Moldau. In process of time, Primislaus's predictions were punctually fulfilled. His spouse became the mother of three Princes; two died in youth, but the third grew to manhood, and from him went forth a glorious royal line, which flourished for long centuries on the Bohemian throne.

[Pg 98]


Father Gregory, the ninth of the name who sat upon St. Peter's chair, had once, in a sleepless night, an inspiration from the spirit, not of prophecy, but of political chicane, to clip the wings of the German Eagle, lest it rose above the head of his own haughty Rome. No sooner had the first sunbeam enlightened the venerable Vatican, than his Holiness summoned his attendant chamberlain, and ordered him to call a meeting of the Sacred College; where Father Gregory, in his pontifical apparel, celebrated high mass, and after its conclusion moved a new Crusade; to which all his cardinals, readily surmising the wise objects of this armament for God's glory and the common weal of Christendom, gave prompt and cordial assent.

Thereupon, a cunning Nuncio started instantly for Naples, where the Emperor Frederick of Swabia had his Court; and took with him in his travelling-bag two boxes, one of which was filled with the sweet honey of persuasion; the other with tinder, steel and flint, to light the fire of excommunication, should the mutinous son of the Church hesitate to pay the Holy Father due obedience. On arriving at Court, the Legate opened his sweet box, and copiously gave out its smooth confectionery. But the Emperor Frederick was a man delicate in palate; he soon smacked the taste of the physic hidden in this sweetness, and he knew too well its effects on the alimentary canal; so he turned away from the treacherous mess, and declined having any more of it. Then the Legate opened his other box, and made it spit some sparks, which singed the Imperial beard, and stung the skin like nettles; whereby the Emperor discovered that the Holy Father's finger might, ere long, be heavier on him than the Legate's loins; therefore plied himself to the purpose, engaged to lead the armies of[Pg 99] the Lord against the Unbelievers in the East, and appointed his Princes to assemble for an expedition to the Holy Land. The Princes communicated the Imperial order to the Counts, the Counts summoned out their vassals, the Knights and Nobles; the Knights equipped their Squires and Horsemen; all mounted, and collected, each under his proper banner.

Except the night of St. Bartholomew, no night has ever caused such sorrow and tribulation in the world, as this, which God's Vicegerent upon Earth had employed in watching to produce a ruinous Crusade. Ah, how many warm tears flowed, as knight and squire pricked off, and blessed their dears! A glorious race of German heroes never saw the light, because of this departure; but languished in embryo, as the germs of plants in the Syrian desert, when the hot Sirocco has passed over them. The ties of a thousand happy marriages were violently torn asunder; ten thousand brides in sorrow hung their garlands, like the daughters of Jerusalem, upon the Babylonian willow-trees, and sat and wept; and a hundred thousand lovely maidens grew up for the bridegroom in vain, and blossomed like a rose-bed in a solitary cloister garden, for there was no hand to pluck them, and they withered away unenjoyed. Among the sighing spouses, whom this sleepless night of his Holiness deprived of their husbands, were St. Elizabeth, the Landgraf of Thuringia's lady, and Ottilia, Countess of Gleichen; a wife not standing, it is true, in the odour of sanctity, yet in respect of personal endowments, and virtuous conduct, inferior to none of her contemporaries.

Landgraf Ludwig, a trusty feudatory of the Emperor, had issued general orders for his vassals to collect, and attend him to the camp. But most of them sought pretexts for politely declining this honour. One was tormented by the gout, another by the stone; one had got his horses foundered, another's armoury had been destroyed by fire. Count Ernst of Gleichen, however, with a little troop of stout retainers, who were free and unencumbered, and took pleasure in the prospect of distant adventures, equipped their squires and followers, obeyed the orders of the Landgraf, and led their people to the place of rendezvous. The Count had been wedded for two years; and in this period his lovely consort had presented him with two children, a little master and a little miss, which, according to the custom of those stalwart ages, had been born without the aid of science, fair and[Pg 100] softly as the dew from the Twilight. A third pledge, which she carried under her heart, was, by virtue of the Pope's insomnolency, destined, when it saw the light, to forego the embraces of its father. Although Count Ernst put on the rugged aspect of a man, Nature maintained her rights in him, and he could not hide his strong feelings of tenderness, when at parting he quitted the embraces of his weeping spouse. As in dumb sorrow he was leaving her, she turned hastily to the cradle of her children; plucked out of it her sleeping boy; pressed it softly to her breast, and held it with tearful eyes to the father, to imprint a parting kiss on its unconscious cheek. With her little girl she did the same. This gave the Count a sharp twinge about the heart: his lips began to quiver, his mouth visibly increased in breadth; and sobbing aloud, he pressed the infants to his steel cuirass, under which there beat a very soft and feeling heart; kissed them from their sleep, and recommended them, together with their much loved mother, to the keeping of God and all the Saints. As he winded down along the castle road with his harnessed troop from the high fortress of Gleichen, she looked after him with desolate sadness, till his banner, upon which she herself had wrought the Red-cross with fine purple silk, no longer floated in her vision.

Landgraf Ludwig was exceedingly contented as he saw his stately vassal, and his knights and squires, advancing with their flag unfurled; but on viewing him more narrowly, and noticing his trouble, he grew wroth; for he thought the Count was faint of heart, and out of humour with the expedition, and following it against his will. Therefore his brow wrinkled down into frowns, and the landgraphic nostrils sniffed displeasure. Count Ernst had a fine pathognomic eye; he soon observed what ailed his lord, and going boldly up, disclosed to him the reason of his cloudy mood. His words were as oil on the vinegar of discontent; the Landgraf, with honest frankness, seized his vassal's hand, and said: "Ah, is it so, good cousin? Then the shoe pinches both of us in one place; Elizabeth's good-b'ye has given me a sore heart too. But be of good cheer! While we are fighting abroad, our wives will be praying at home, that we may return with renown and glory." Such was the custom of the country in those days: while the husband took the field, the wife continued in her chamber, solitary and still, fasting and praying, and making vows without end, for his prosperous return.[Pg 101] This old usage is not universal in the land at present; as the last crusade of our German warriors to the distant West,[17] by the rich increase of families during the absence of their heroic heads, has sufficiently made manifest.

[17] Of the Hessian troops to America, during the Revolutionary War.—Ed.

The pious Elizabeth felt no less pain at parting from her husband than her fair companion in distress, the Countess of Gleichen. Though her lord the Landgraf was rather of a stormy disposition, she had lived with him in the most perfect unity: and his terrestrial mass was by degrees so imbued with the sanctity of his helpmate, that some beneficent historians have appended to him likewise the title of Saint; which, however, must be looked on rather as a charitable compliment than a real statement of the truth; as with us, in these times, the epithets of great, magnanimous, immortal, erudite, profound, for the most part indicate no more than a little outward edge-gilding. So much appears from all the circumstances, that the elevated couple did not always harmonise in works of holiness; nay, that the Powers of Heaven had to interfere at times in the domestic differences thence arising, to maintain the family peace: as the following example will evince. The pious lady, to the great dissatisfaction of her courtiers and lip-licking pages, had the custom of reserving from the Landgraf's table the most savoury dishes for certain hungry beggars, who incessantly beleaguered the castle; and she used to give herself the satisfaction, when the court dinner was concluded, of distributing this kind donation to the poor with her own hands. According to the courtly system, whereby thrift on the small scale is always to make up for wastefulness on the great, the meritorious cook-department every now and then complained of this as earnestly as if the whole dominions of Thuringia had run the risk of being eaten up by these lank-sided guests; and the Landgraf, who dabbled somewhat in economy, regarded it as so important an affair, that, in all seriousness, he strictly forbade his consort this labour of love, which had through time become her spiritual hobby. Nevertheless, one day the impulse of benevolence, and the temptation to break through her husband's orders in pursuit of it, became too strong to be resisted. She beckoned to her women, who were then uncovering the table, to take off some untouched dishes, with a few rolls of wheaten bread, and keep them as smuggled goods. These she packed into a little basket, and stole out with it by a postern gate.

[Pg 102]

But the watchers had got wind of it, and betrayed it to the Landgraf, who gave instant orders for a strict guard upon all the outlets of the castle. Being told that his lady had been seen gliding with a heavy load through the postern, he proceeded with majestic strides across the court-yard, and stept out upon the drawbridge, as if to take a mouthful of fresh air. Alas! The pious lady heard the jingling of his golden spurs; and fear and terror came upon her, till her knees trembled, and she could not move another footstep. She concealed the victual-basket under her apron, that modest covering of female charms and roguery; but whatever privileges this inviolable asylum may enjoy against excisemen and officers of customs, it is no wall of brass for a husband. The Landgraf, smelling mischief, hastened to the place; his sunburnt cheeks were reddened with indignation, and the veins swelled fearfully upon his brow.

"Wife," said he, in a hasty tone, "what hast thou in the basket thou art hiding from me? Is it victuals from my table, for thy vile crew of vagabonds and beggars?"

"Not at all, dear lord," replied Elizabeth, meekly, but with embarrassment, who held herself entitled, without prejudice to her sanctity, to make a little slip in the present critical position of affairs: "it is nothing but a few roses that I gathered in the garden."

Had the Landgraf been one of our contemporaries, he must have believed his lady on her word of honour, and desisted from farther search; but in those wild times the minds of men were not so polished.

"Let us see," said the imperious husband, and sharply pulled the apron to a side. The tender wife had no defence against this violence but by recoiling: "O! softly, softly, my dear husband!" said she, and blushed for shame at being detected in a falsehood, in presence of her servants. But, O wonder upon wonder! the corpus delicti was in very deed transformed into the fairest blooming roses; the rolls had changed to white roses, the sausages to red, the omelets to yellow ones! With joyful amazement the saintly dame observed this metamorphosis, and knew not whether to believe her eyes; for she had never given credit to her Guardian Angel for such delicate politeness, as to work a miracle in favour of a lady, when the point was to cajole a rigorous husband, and make good a female affirmation.

So visible a proof of innocence allayed the fierceness of the[Pg 103] Lion. He now turned his tremendous looks on the down-stricken serving-men, who, as it was apparent, had been groundlessly calumniating his angelic wife; he scornfully rated them, and swore a deep oath, that the first eaves-dropping pickthank who again accused his virtuous wife to him, he would cast into the dungeon, and there let him lie and rot. This done, he took a rose from the basket, and stuck it in his hat, in triumph for his lady's innocence. History has not certified us, whether, on the following day, he found a withered rose or a cold sausage there: in the mean time it assures us, that the saintly wife, when her lord had left her with the kiss of peace, and she herself had recovered from her fright, stept down the hill, much comforted in heart, to the meadow where her nurslings, the lame and blind, the naked and the hungry, were awaiting her, to dole out among them her intended bounty. For she well knew that the miraculous deception would again vanish were she there, as in reality it did; for, on opening her victual-magazine she found no roses at all, but in their stead the nutritious crumbs which she had snatched from the teeth of the castle bone-polishers.

Though now, by the departure of her husband, she was to be freed from his rigorous superintendence, and obtain free scope to execute her labours of love in secret or openly, when and where it pleased her, yet she loved her imperious husband so faithfully and sincerely, that she could not part from him without the deepest sorrow. Ah! she foreboded but too well, that in this world she should not see him any more. And for the enjoyment of him in the other, the aspect of affairs was little better. A canonised Saint has such preferment there, that all other Saints compared with her are but a heavenly mob.

High as the Landgraf had been stationed in this sublunary world, it was a question whether, in the courts of Heaven, he might be found worthy to kneel on the footstool of her throne, and raise his eyes to his former bedmate. Yet, many vows as she made, many good works as she did, much as her prayers in other cases had availed with all the Saints, her credit in the upper world was not sufficient to stretch out her husband's term a span. He died on this march, in the bloom of life, of a malignant fever, at Otranto, before he had acquired the knightly merit of chining a single Saracen. While he was preparing for departure, and the time was come for him to give the world his blessing, he called Count Ernst from among his other servants and vassals to his[Pg 104] bedside; appointed him commander of the troops which he himself had led thus far, and made him swear that he would not return till he had thrice drawn his sword against the Infidel. Then he took the holy viaticum from the hands of his marching chaplain; and ordering as many masses for his soul, as might have brought himself and all his followers triumphantly into the New Jerusalem, he breathed his last. Count Ernst had the corpse of his lord embalmed: he enclosed it in a silver coffin, and sent it to the widowed lady, who wore mourning for her husband like a Roman Empress, for she never laid her weeds aside while she continued in this world.

Count Ernst of Gleichen forwarded the pilgrimage as much as possible, and arrived in safety with his people in the camp at Ptolemais. Here, it was rather a theatrical emblem of war than a serious campaign that met his view. For as on our stages, when they represent a camp or field of battle, there are merely a few tents erected in the foreground, and a little handful of players scuffling together; but in the distance many painted tents and squadrons to assist the illusion, and cheat the eye, the whole being merely intended for an artificial deception of the senses; so also was the crusading army a mixture of fiction and reality. Of the numerous heroic hosts that left their native country, it was always the smallest part that reached the boundaries of the land they had gone forth to conquer. But few were devoured by the swords of the Saracens. These Infidels had powerful allies, whom they sent beyond their frontiers, and who made brisk work among their enemies, though getting neither wages nor thanks for their good service. These allies were, Hunger and Nakedness, Perils by land and water and among bad brethren, Frost and Heat, Pestilence and malignant Boils; and the grinding Home-sickness also fell at times like a heavy Incubus upon the steel harness, and crushed it together like soft pasteboard, and spurred the steed to a quick return. Under these circumstances, Count Ernst had little hope of speedily fulfilling his oath, and thrice dyeing his knightly sword in unbelieving blood, as must be done before he thought of returning. For three days' journey round the camp, no Arab archer was to be seen; the weakness of the Christian host lay concealed behind its bulwarks and entrenchments; they did not venture out to seek the distant enemy, but waited for the slow help of his slumbering Holiness, who, since the wakeful night that gave rise to this Crusade, had enjoyed unbroken[Pg 105] sleep, and about the issue of the Holy War had troubled himself very little.

In this inaction, as inglorious to the Christian army, as of old that loitering was to the Greeks before the walls of bloody but courageous Troy, where the godlike Achilles, with his confederates, moped so long about his fair Briseis,—the chivalry of Christendom kept up much jollity and recreation in their camp, to kill lazy time, and scare away the blue devils; the Italians, with song and harping, to which the nimble-footed Frenchmen danced; the solemn Spaniards with chess; the English with cock-fighting; the Germans with feasting and wassail.

Count Ernst, taking small delight in any of these pastimes, amused himself with hunting; made war on the foxes in the dry wildernesses, and pursued the shy chamois into the barren mountains. The knights of his train "disagreed" with the glowing sun by day, and the damp evening air under the open sky, and sneaked to a side when their lord called for his horses; therefore, in his hunting expeditions, he was generally attended only by his faithful Squire, named the mettled Kurt, and a single groom. Once, his eagerness in clambering after the chamois, had carried him to such a distance, that the sun was dipping in the Mid-sea wave before he thought of returning; and, fast as he hastened homewards, night came upon him at a distance from the camp. The appearance of some treacherous ignes fatui, which he mistook for the watch-fires, led him off still farther. On discovering his error, he resolved to rest beneath a tree till daybreak. The trusty Squire prepared a bed of soft moss for his lord, who, wearied by the heat of the day, fell asleep before he could lift his hand to bless himself, according to custom, with the sign of the cross. But to the mettled Kurt there came no wink of sleep, for he was by nature watchful like a bird of darkness; and though this gift had not belonged to him, his faithful care for his lord would have kept him waking. The night, as usual in the climate of Asia, was serene and still; the stars twinkled in pure diamond light; and solemn silence, as in the Valley of Death, reigned over the wide desert. No breath of air was stirring, yet the nocturnal coolness poured life and refreshment over herb and living thing. But about the third watch, when the morning star had begun to announce the coming day, there arose a din in the dusky remoteness, like the voice of a forest stream rushing over some steep precipice. The watchful squire listened eagerly, and sent his[Pg 106] other senses also out for tidings, as his sharp eye could not pierce the veil of darkness. He hearkened, and snuffed at the same time, like a bloodhound, for a scent came towards him as of sweet-smelling herbs and trodden grass, and the strange noise appeared to be approaching. He laid his ear to the ground, and heard a trampling as of horses' hoofs, which led him to conclude that the Infernal Chase was hunting in these parts. A cold shudder passed over him, and his terror grew extreme. He shook his master from sleep; and the latter, having roused himself, soon saw that here another than a spectral host was to be fronted. Whilst his groom girded up the horses, the Count had his harness buckled on in all haste.

The dim shadows gradually withdrew, and the advancing morning tinted the eastern hem of the horizon with purple light. The Count now discovered, what he had anticipated, a host of Saracens approaching, all equipped for fight, to snatch some booty from the Christians. To escape their hands was hopeless, and the hospitable tree in the wide solitary plain gave no shelter to conceal horse and man behind it. Unluckily the massy steed was not a Hippogryph, but a heavy-bodied Frieslander, to which, by reason of its make, the happy talent of bearing off its master on the wings of the wind had not been allotted; therefore the gallant hero gave his soul to the keeping of God and the Holy Virgin, and resolved on dying like a knight. He bade his servants follow him, and sell their lives as dear as might be. Thereupon he pricked the Frieslander boldly forward, and dashed right into the middle of the hostile squadron, who had been expecting no such sudden onset from a single knight. The Pagans started in astonishment, and flew asunder like light chaff when scattered by the wind. But seeing that the enemy was only three men strong, their courage rose, and there began an unequal battle, in which valour was surpassed by number. The Count meanwhile kept plunging yarely through the ranks; the point of his lance gleamed death and destruction to the Infidel; and when it found its man, he flew inevitably from his saddle. Their Captain himself, who ran at him with grim fury, his manly arm laid low, and with his victorious spear transfixed him writhing in the dust, as St. George of England did the Dragon. The mettled Kurt went on with no less briskness; though availing little for attack, he was a master in the science of dispatching, and sent all to pot who did not make resistance; as a modern critic butchers the[Pg 107] defenceless rabble of the lame and halt, who venture with such courage in our days into the literary tilt-yard: and if now and then some fainting invalid, with furious aim, like an exasperated Reviewer-hunter, did hurl a stone at him with enfeebled fist, he heeded it little; for he knew well that his basnet and iron jack would turn a moderate thump. The groom, too, did his best to make clear ground about him, and kept his master's back unharmed. But as nine gad-flies will beat the strongest horse; four Caffre bulls an African lion; and, by the common tale, one troop of mice an archbishop, as the Mäusethurm, or Mouse-tower, on the Rhine, by Hübner's account, gives open testimony; so the Count of Gleichen, after doing knightly battle, was at length overpowered by the number of his enemies. His arm grew weary, his lance was shivered into splinters, his sword became blunt, and his Friesland horse at last staggered down upon the gory battle-field. The Knight's fall was the watch-word of victory; a hundred valiant arms stormed in on him to wrench away his sword, and his hand had no longer any strength for resistance. As the mettled Kurt observed the Knight come down, his own courage sank also, and along with it the pole-axe, wherewith he had so magnanimously hammered in the Saracenic skulls. He surrendered at discretion, and pressingly entreated quarter. The groom stood in blank rumination; bore himself enduringly; and awaited with oxlike equanimity the stroke of some mace upon his basnet, which should crush him to the ground.

But the Saracens were less inhuman victors than the conquered could have expected; they disarmed their three prisoners of war, and did them no bodily harm whatever. This mild usage took its rise not in any movement of philanthropy, but in mere spy's-mercy: from a dead enemy there is nothing to be learnt, and the special object of this roaming troop had been to get correct intelligence about the state of matters in the Christian host at Ptolemais. The captives, being questioned and heard, were next, according to the Asiatic fashion, furnished with slave-fetters; and as a ship was just then lying ready to set sail for Alexandria, the Bey of Asdod sent them off with it as a present to the Sultan of Egypt, to confirm at Court their description of the Christian resources and position. The rumour of the bold Frank's valour had arrived before him at the gates of Grand Cairo; and so pugnacious a prisoner might, on entering the hostile metropolis, have merited as pompous a reception as the Twelfth of April saw bestowed upon[Pg 108] the Comte de Grasse in London, where the merry capital emulously strove to let the conquered sea-hero feel the honour which their victory had done him: but Moslem self-conceit allows no justice to foreign merit. Count Ernst, in the garb of a felon, loaded with heavy chains, was quietly locked into the Grated Tower, where the Sultan's slaves were wont to be kept.

Here, in long painful nights, and mournful solitary days, he had time and leisure to survey the grim stony aspect of his future life; and it required as much steadfastness and courage to bear up under these contemplations, as to tilt it on the battle-field among a wandering horde of Arabs. The image of his former domestic happiness kept hovering before his eyes; he thought of his gentle wife, and the tender shoots of their chaste love. Ah! how he cursed the miserable feud of Mother-church with the Gog and Magog of the East, which had robbed him of his fair lot in existence, and fettered him in slave-shackles never to be loosed! In such moments he was ready to despair altogether; and his piety had well-nigh made shipwreck on this rock of offence.

In the days of Count Ernst there was current, among anecdotic persons, a wondrous story of Duke Henry the Lion, which at that period, as a thing that had occurred within the memory of man, found great credence in the German Empire. The Duke, so runs the tale, while proceeding over sea to the Holy Land, was, in a tempest, cast away upon a desert part of the African coast; where, escaping alone from shipwreck, he found shelter and succour in the den of a hospitable Lion. This kindness in the savage owner of the cave had its origin not in the heart, but in the left hind-paw; while hunting in the Libyan wilderness, he had run a thorn into his foot, which so tormented him, that he could hardly move, and had entirely forgotten his natural voracity. The acquaintance being formed, and mutual confidence established between the parties, the Duke assumed the office of chirurgeon to the royal beast, and laboriously picked out the thorn from his foot. The patient rapidly recovered, and, mindful of the service, entertained his lodger with his best from the produce of his plunder; and, though a Lion, was as friendly and officious towards him as a lap-dog.

The Duke, however, soon grew weary of the cold collations of his four-footed landlord, and began to long for the flesh-pots of his own far-distant kitchen; for in readying the game handed in to him, he by no means rivalled his Brunswick cook. Then[Pg 109] the home-sickness came upon him like a heavy load; and seeing no possibility of ever getting back to his paternal heritage, the thought of this so grieved his soul, that he wasted visibly, and pined like a wounded hart. Thereupon the Tempter, with his wonted impudence in desert places, came before him, in the figure of a little swart wrinkled manikin, whom the Duke at first sight took for an ourang-outang; but it was the Devil himself, Satan in proper person, and he grinned, and said: "Duke Henry, what ails thee? If thou trust to me, I will put an end to all thy sorrow, and take thee home to thy wife to sup with her this night in the Castle of Brunswick; for a lordly supper is making ready there, seeing she is about to wed another man, having lost hope of thy life."

This despatch came rolling like a thunder-clap into the Duke's ear, and cut him through the heart like a sharp two-edged sword. Rage burnt in his eyes like flames of fire, and desperation uproared in his breast. If Heaven will not help me in this crisis, thought he, then let Hell! It was one of those entangling situations which the Arch-crimp, with his consummate skill in psychological science, can employ so dextrously when the enlisting of a soul that he has cast an eye on is to prosper in his hands. The Duke, without hesitation, buckled on his golden spurs, girded his sword about his loins, and put himself in readiness. "Quick, my good fellow!" said he; "carry me, and this my trusty Lion, to Brunswick, before the varlet reach my bed!"—"Well!" answered Blackbeard, "but dost thou know the carriage-dues?"—"Ask what thou wilt!" said Duke Henry; "it shall be given thee at thy word."—"Thy soul at sight in the other world," replied Beelzebub.—"Done! Be it so!" cried furious jealousy, from Henry's mouth.

The bargain was forthwith concluded in legal form, between the two contracting parties. The Infernal Kite directly changed himself into a winged Griffin, and seizing the Duke in the one clutch, and the trusty Lion in the other, conveyed them both in one night from the Libyan coast to Brunswick, the towering city, founded on the lasting basis of the Harz, which even the lying prophecies of the Zillerfeld vaticinator have not ventured to overthrow. There he set down his burden safely in the middle of the market-place, and vanished, just as the watchman was blowing his horn with intent to proclaim the hour of midnight, and then carol forth a superannuated bridal-song from his rusty mum-washed[Pg 110] weasand. The ducal palace, and the whole city, still gleamed like the starry heaven with the nuptial illumination; every street resounded with the din and tumult of the gay people streaming forward to gaze on the decorated bride, and the solemn torch-dance with which the festival was to conclude. The Aeronaut, unwearied by his voyage, pressed on amid the crowding multitude through the entrance of the Palace; advanced with clanking spurs, under the guidance of his trusty Lion, to the banquet-chamber; drew his sword, and cried: "With me, whoever stands by Duke Henry; and to traitors, death and hell!" The Lion also bellowed, as if seven thunders had been uttering their united voices; shook his awful mane, and furiously erected his tail, as the signal of attack. The cornets and kettle-drums struck silent suddenly, and a horrid sound of battle pealed from the tumult in the wedding-hall, up to the very Gothic roof, till the walls rang with it, and the thresholds shook.

The golden-haired bridegroom, and his party-coloured butterflies of courtiers, fell beneath the sword of the Duke, as the thousand Philistines beneath the ass's jaw-bone, in the sturdy fist of the son of Manoah; and he who escaped the sword, rushed into the Lion's throat, and was butchered like a defenceless lamb. When the forward wooer and his retinue of serving-men and nobles were abolished, Duke Henry, having used his household privilege as sternly as of old the wise Ulysses to the wooing-club of his chaste Penelope, sat down to table, refreshed in spirit, beside his wife, who was just beginning to recover from the deadly fright his entrance had caused her. While briskly enjoying the dainties of his cook, which had not been prepared for him, he cast a glance of triumph on his new conquest, and perceived that she was bathed in ambiguous tears, which might as well refer to loss as to gain. However, like a man that knew the world, he explained them wholly to his own advantage; and merely reproving her in gentle words for the hurry of her heart, he from that hour entered upon all his former rights.

Count Ernst had often listened to this strange story, from the lips of his nurse; yet in riper years, as an enlightened sceptic, entertained doubts of its truth. But in the dreary loneliness of his Grated Tower, the whole incident acquired a form of possibility, and his wavering nursery belief increased almost to conviction. A transit through the air appeared to him the simplest thing in nature, if the Prince of Darkness, in the gloomy[Pg 111] midnight, chose to lend his bat-wings for the purpose. Though in obedience to his religious principles, he no night neglected to cut a large cross before him as he went to sleep; yet a secret longing awoke in his heart, without its own distinct consciousness, to accomplish the same adventure. If a wandering mouse in the night-season happened to scratch upon the wainscot, he immediately supposed the Hellish Proteus was announcing his arrival, and at times in thought he went so far as settling the freight charges beforehand. But except the illusion of a dream, which juggled him into an aerial journey to his German native land, the Count gained nothing by his nursery faith, except employing with these fantasies a few vacant hours; and like a reader of novels, transporting himself into the situation of the acting hero. Why old Abaddon showed himself so sluggish in this case, when the kidnapping of a soul was in the wind, and in all likelihood the enterprise must have succeeded, may be accounted for in two ways. Either the Count's Guardian Angel was more watchful than the one to whom Duke Henry had intrusted the keeping of his soul, and resisted so stoutly that the Evil One could get no advantage over him; or the Prince of the Air had grown disgusted with the transport-trade in this his own element, having been bubbled out of his stipulated freightage by Duke Henry after all their engagements; for when it came to the point with Henry, his soul was found to have so many good works on her side of the account, that the scores on the Infernal tally were altogether cancelled by them.

Whilst Count Ernst was weaving in romantic dreams a feeble shadow of hope for deliverance from his captivity, and for a few moments in the midst of them forgetting his dejection and misery, his returning servants brought the Countess tidings that their master had vanished from the camp, and none knew what had become of him. Some supposed that he had been the prey of snakes or dragons; others that a pestilential blast of wind had met him in the Syrian desert, and killed him; others that he had been robbed and murdered, or taken captive, by some plundering troop of Arabs. In one point all agreed: That he was to be held pro mortuo, dead in law, and that the Countess was entirely relieved and enfranchised from her matrimonial engagements. But to the Countess herself, a secret foreboding still whispered that her lord was alive notwithstanding. Nor did she by any means repress this thought, which so solaced her heart; for hope is[Pg 112] always the stoutest stay of the afflicted, and the sweetest dream of life. To maintain it, she secretly equipped a trusty servant, and sent him out for tidings, over sea into the Holy Land. Like the raven from the Ark, this scout flew to and fro upon the waters, and was no more heard of. Then she sent another forth; who returned after several years' cruising over sea and land; but no olive-leaf of hope was in his bill. Nevertheless the steadfast lady doubted not in the least that she should yet meet her lord in the land of the living: for she had a firm persuasion that so tender and true a husband could not possibly have left the world without in the catastrophe remembering his wife and little children at home, and giving them some token of his death. Now, since the Count's departure, there had nothing happened in the Castle; neither in the armoury by rattling of the harness, nor in the garret by a rolling joist, nor in the bed-chamber by a faint footstep, or heavy-booted tread. Nor had any nightly moaning chanted its Nænia down from the high battlements of the palace; nor had the baleful bird Kreideweiss ever issued its lugubrious death-summons. In the absence of all these signs of evil omen, she inferred by the principles of female common-sense philosophy, which even in our own times are by no means fallen into such desuetude among the fair sex, as Father Aristotle's Organum is among the male, that her much-loved husband was still living; a conclusion, which we know was perfectly correct. The fruitless issue of her first two missions of discovery, the object of which was more important to her than the finding of the Southern Polar Continent is to us, she allowed not in the least to deter her from sending out a third Apostle into All the World. This third was of a slow turn, and had imprinted on his mind the adage, As soon gets the snail to his bed as the swallow; therefore he called at every inn, and treated himself well. And it being infinitely more convenient that the people whom he was to question about his master should come to him, than that he should go tracking and spying them out in the wide world, he determined on choosing a position where he could examine every passenger from the East, with the insolent inquisitiveness of a toll-man behind his barrier; and fixed his quarters by the harbour of Venice. This Queen of the Waters was at that time, as it were, the general gate, which all pilgrims and crusaders from the Holy Land passed through in their way home. Whether this shrewd genius chose the best or the worst means for discharging his appointed function, will appear in the sequel.

[Pg 113]

After a seven-years narrow custody in the Grated Tower at Grand Cairo,—a term which to the Count seemed far longer than to the Seven Sleepers their seventy-years sleep in the Roman catacombs,—he concluded himself to be forsaken of Heaven and Hell, and utterly gave up hope of ever getting out in the body from this melancholy cage, where the kind face of the sun was not allowed to visit him, and the broken daylight struggled faintly in through a window secured with iron bars. His devil-romance was long ago concluded; and his faith in miraculous assistance from his Guardian Saint was lighter than a mustard-seed. He vegetated rather than lived; and if in these circumstances any wish arose in him, it was the wish to be annihilated.

From this lethargic stupor he was suddenly aroused by the rattling of a bunch of keys, before the door of his cell. Since the day of his entrance, his jailor had never more performed for him the office of turnkey; for all the necessaries of the prisoner had been conveyed through a trap-board in the door. Accordingly, it was not without long resistance, and the bribery of a little vegetable oil, that the rusty bolt obeyed him. But the creaking of the iron hinges, as the door went up with reluctant grating, was to the Count a compound of more melodious notes than ever came from the Harmonica of Franklin. A foreboding palpitation of the heart set his stagnant blood in motion; and he expected with impatient longing the intelligence of a change in his fate: for the rest, it was indifferent to him whether it brought life or death. Two black slaves entered with his jailor, at whose signal they loosed the fetters from the prisoner; and a second mute sign from the solemn graybeard commanded him to follow. He obeyed with faltering steps; his feet refused their service, and he needed the support of the two slaves, to totter down the winding stone stair. He was then conducted to the Captain of the Prison, who, looking at him with a reproachful air, thus spoke: "Obstinate Frank, what made thee hide the craft thou art acquainted with, when thou wert put into the Grated Tower? One of thy fellow-prisoners has betrayed thee, and informed us that thou art a master in the art of gardening. Go, whither the will of the Sultan calls thee; lay out a garden in the manner of the Franks, and watch over it like the apple of thy eye; that the Flower of the World may blossom in it pleasantly, for the adorning of the East."

If the Count had got a call to Paris to be Rector of the Sorbonne, the appointment could not have astonished him more, than[Pg 114] this of being gardener to the Sultan of Egypt. About gardening he understood as little as a laic about the secrets of the Church. In Italy, it is true, he had seen many gardens; and at Nürnberg, where the dawn of that art was now first penetrating into Germany, though the horticultural luxury of the Nürnbergers did not yet extend much farther than a bowling-green, and a few beds of roman lettuce. But about the planning of gardens, and the cultivation of plants, like a martial nobleman, he had never troubled his head; and his botanic science was so limited, that the Flower of the World had never once come under his inspection. Hence he knew not in the least by what method it was to be treated; whether like the aloe it must be brought to blossom by the aid of art, or like a common marigold by the genial virtue of nature alone. Nevertheless, he did not venture to acknowledge his ignorance, or decline the preferment offered him; being reasonably apprehensive that they might convince him of his fitness for the post, by a bastinading on the soles.

A pleasant park was assigned him, which he was to change into a European garden. The spot had, either by the hand of bountiful Nature, or of ancient cultivation, been so happily disposed and ornamented already, that the new Abdalonymus, let him cudgel his brains as he would, could perceive no error or defect in it, nothing that admitted of improvement. Besides, the aspect of living and active nature, which for seven long years in his dreary prison he had been obliged to forego, affected him at once so powerfully, that he inhaled rapture from every grass-flower, and looked at all things around him with delight, like the First Man in Paradise, to whom the scientific thought of censuring anything in the arrangement of his Eden did not occur. The Count therefore found himself in no small embarrassment about discharging his commission creditably; he feared that every change would rob the garden of a beauty, and were he detected as a botcher, he must travel back into his Grated Tower.

In the mean time, as Shiek Kiamel, Overseer of the Gardens and favourite of the Sultan, was diligently stimulating him to begin the work, he required fifty slaves, as necessary for the execution of his enterprise. Next morning at dawn, they were all ready, and passed muster before their new commander, who as yet saw not how he should employ a man of them. But how great was his joy as he perceived the mottled Kurt and the ponderous Groom, his two companions of misfortune, ranked among[Pg 115] the troop! A hundredweight of lead rolled off his heart, the wrinkle of dejection vanished from his brow, and his eyes were enlightened, as if he had dipt his staff in honey and tasted thereof. He led the trusty Squire aside, and frankly informed him into what a heterogeneous element he had been cast by the caprices of fate, where he could neither fly nor swim; nor could he in the least comprehend what enigmatical mistake had exchanged his knightly sword with the gardener's spade. No sooner had he done speaking, than the mettled Kurt, with wet eyes, fell at his feet, then lifted up his voice and said: "Pardon, dear master! It is I that have caused your perplexity and your deliverance from the rascally Grated Tower, which has kept you so long in ward. Be not angry that the innocent deceit of your servant has brought you out of it; be glad rather that you see God's sky again above your head. The Sultan required a garden after the manner of the Franks, and had proclamation made to all the Christian captives in the Bazam, that the proper man should step forth, and expect great recompense if the undertaking prospered. No one of them durst meddle with it; but I recollected your heavy durance. Then some good spirit whispered me the lie of announcing you as an adept in the art of gardening, and it has succeeded perfectly. And now never vex yourself about the way of managing the business: the Sultan, like the great people of the world, has a fancy not for something better than he has already, but for something different, that may be new and singular. Therefore, delve and devastate, and cut and carve, in this glorious field, according to your pleasure; and depend upon it, everything you do or purpose will be right in his eyes."

This speech was as the murmur of a running brook in the ears of a tired wanderer in the desert. The Count drew balsam to his soul from it, and courage to commence with boldness the ungainly undertaking. He set his men to work at random, without plan; and proceeded with the well-ordered shady park, as one of your "bold geniuses" proceeds with an antiquated author, who falls into his creative hands, and, nill he will he, must submit to let himself be modernised, that is to say, again made readable and likeable; or as a new pedagogue with the ancient forms of the Schools. He jumbled in variegated confusion what he found before him, making all things different, nothing better. The profitable fruit-trees he rooted out, and planted rosemary and valerian, and exotic shrubs, or scentless amaranths, in their stead.[Pg 116] The rich soil he dug away, and coated the naked bottom with many-coloured gravel, which he carefully stamped hard, and smoothed like a threshing-floor, that no blade of grass might spring in it. The whole space he divided into various terraces, which he begirt with a hem of green; and through these a strangely-twisted flower-bed serpentised along, and ended in a knot of villanously-smelling boxwood. And as from his ignorance of botany, he paid no heed to the proper seasons for sowing and planting, his garden project hovered for a long time between life and death, and had the aspect of a suit of clothes à feuille mourante.

Shiek Kiamel, and the Sultan himself, allowed the Western gardener to take his course, without deranging his conception by their interference or their dictatorial opinion, and by premature hypercriticism interrupting the procedure of his horticultural genius. In this they acted more wisely than our obstreperous public, which, from our famous philanthropic scheme of sowing acorns, expected in a summer or two a stock of strong oaks, fit to be masts for three-deckers; while the plantation was as yet so soft and feeble, that a few frosty nights might have sent it to destruction. Now, indeed, almost in the middle of the second decade of years from the commencement of the enterprise, when the first fruits must certainly be over-ripe, it were in good season for a German Kiamel to step forward with the question: "Planter, what art thou about? Let us see what thy delving, and the loud clatter of thy cars and wheelbarrows have produced?" And if the plantation stood before him like that of the Gleichic Garden at Grand Cairo, in the sere and yellow leaf, then were he well entitled, after due consideration of the matter, like the Shiek, to shake his head in silence, to spit a squirt through his teeth, and think within himself: If this be all, it might have stayed as it was. For one day, as the gardener was surveying his new creation with contentment, sitting in judgment on himself, and pronouncing that the work praised the master, and that, everything considered, it had fallen out better than he could have anticipated, his whole ideal being before his eyes, not only what was then, but what was to be made of it,—the Overseer, the Sultan's favourite, stept into the garden, and said: "Frank, what art thou about? And how far art thou got with thy labour?" The Count easily perceived that the produce of his genius would now have to stand a rigorous criticism; however, he had long been ready for this[Pg 117] accident. He collected all his presence of mind, and answered confidently: "Come, sir, and see! This former wilderness has obeyed the hand of art, and is now moulded, after the pattern of Paradise, into a scene which the Houris would not disdain to select for their abode." The Shiek, hearing a professed artist speak with such apparent warmth and satisfaction of his own performance, and giving the master credit for deeper insight in his own sphere than he himself possessed, restrained the avowal of his discontentment with the whole arrangement, modestly ascribing this dislike to his inacquaintance with foreign taste, and leaving the matter to rest on its own basis. Nevertheless, he could not help putting one or two questions, for his own information; to which the garden satrap was not in the least behindhand with his answers.

"Where are the glorious fruit-trees," began the Shiek, "which stood on this sandy level, loaded with peaches and sweet lemons, which solaced the eye, and invited the promenader to refreshing enjoyment?"

"They are all hewn away by the surface, and their place is no longer to be found."

"And why so?"

"Could the garden of the Sultan admit such trash of trees, which the commonest citizen of Cairo cultivates, and the fruit of which is offered for sale by assloads every day?"

"What moved thee to desolate the pleasant grove of dates and tamarinds, which was the wanderer's shelter against the sultry noontide, and gave him coolness and refection under the vault of its shady boughs?"

"What has shade to do in a garden which, while the sun shoots forth scorching beams, stands solitary and deserted, and only exhales its balsamic odours when fanned by the cool breeze of evening?"

"But did not this grove cover, with an impenetrable veil, the secrets of love, when the Sultan, enchanted by the charms of a fair Circassian, wished to hide his tenderness from the jealous eyes of her companions?"

"An impenetrable veil is to be found in that bower, overarched with honeysuckle and ivy; or in that cool grotto, where a crystal fountain gushes out of artificial rocks into a basin of marble; or in that covered walk with its trellises of clustering vines; or on the sofa, pillowed with soft moss, in the rustic reed-house[Pg 118] by the pond; nor will any of these secret shrines afford lodging for destructive worms, and buzzing insects, or keep away the wafting air, or shut up the free prospect, as the gloomy grove of tamarinds did."

"But why hast thou planted sage, and hyssop which grows upon the wall, here on this spot where formerly the precious balm-tree of Mecca bloomed?"

"Because the Sultan wanted no Arabian, but a European garden. In Italy, and in the German gardens of the Nürnbergers, no dates are ripened, nor does any balm-tree of Mecca bloom."

To this last argument no answer could be made. As neither the Shiek nor any of the Heathen in Cairo had ever been at Nürnberg, he had nothing for it but to take this version of the garden from Arabic into German, on the word of the interpreter. Only, he could not bring himself to think that the present horticultural reform had been managed by the pattern of the Paradise, appointed by the Prophet for believing Mussulmans; and, allowing the pretension to be true, he promised to himself, from the joys of the future life, no very special consolation. There was nothing for him, therefore, but, in the way above mentioned, to shake his head, contemplatively squirt a dash of liquid out over his beard, and go the way whence he had come.

The Sultan who at that time swayed the Egyptian sceptre was the gallant Malek al Aziz Othman, a son of the renowned Saladin. The fame of Sultan Malek rests less upon his qualities in the field or the cabinet, than upon the unexampled numerousness of his offspring. Of princes he had so many, that had every one of them been destined to wear a crown, he might have stocked with them all the kingdoms of the then known world. Seventeen years ago, however, this copious spring had, one hot summer, finally gone dry. Princess Melechsala terminated the long series of the Sultanic progeny; and, in the unanimous opinion of the Court, she was the jewel of the whole. She enjoyed to its full extent the prerogative of youngest children, preference to all the rest; and this distinction was enhanced by the circumstance, that of all the Sultan's daughters, she alone had remained in life; while Nature had adorned her with so many charms, that they enchanted even the paternal eye. For this must in general be conceded to the Oriental Princes, that in the scientific criticism of female beauty they are infinitely more advanced than our Occidentals, who are[Pg 119] every now and then betraying their imperfect culture in this point.[18] Melechsala was the pride of the Sultan's family; her brothers themselves were unremitting in attentions to her, and in efforts to outdo each other in affectionate regard. The grave Divan was frequently employed in considering what Prince, by means of her, might be connected, in the bonds of love, with the interest of the Egyptian state. This her royal father made his smallest care; he was solely and incessantly concerned to grant this darling of his heart her every wish, to keep her spirit always in a cheerful mood, that no cloud might overcast the serene horizon of her brow.

[18] Journal of Fashions, June 1786.

The first years of childhood she had passed under the superintendence of a nurse, who was a Christian, and of Italian extraction. This slave had in early youth been kidnapped from the beach of her native town by a Barbary pirate; sold in Alexandria; and, by the course of trade, transmitted from one hand to another, till at last she had arrived in the palace of the Sultan, where her hale constitution recommended her to this office, which she filled with the greatest reputation. Though less tuneful than the French court-nurse, who used to give the signal for a general chorus over all Versailles, whenever she uplifted, with melodious throat, her Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre; yet nature had sufficiently indemnified her by a glibness of tongue, in which she was unrivalled. She knew as many tales and stories as the fair Sheherazade in the Thousand-and-one Nights; a species of entertainment for which it would appear the race of Sultans, in the privacy of their seraglios, have considerable liking. The Princess, at least, found pleasure in it, not for a thousand nights, but for a thousand weeks; and when once a maiden has attained the age of a thousand weeks, she can no longer be contented with the histories of others, for she sees materials in herself to make a history of her own. In process of time, the gifted waiting-woman changed her nursery-tales with the theory of European manners and customs; and being herself a warm patriot, and recollecting her native country with delight, she painted the superiorities of Italy so vividly, that the fancy of her tender nursling became filled with the subject, and the pleasant impression never afterwards faded from her memory. The more this fair Princess grew in stature, the stronger grew in her the love for foreign decoration; and her whole demeanour shaped itself according to the customs of Europe rather than of Egypt.

[Pg 120]

From youth upwards she had been a great lover of flowers: part of her occupation had consisted in forming, according to the manner of the Arabs, a constant succession of significant nosegays and garlands; with which, in delicate expressiveness, she used to disclose the emotions of her heart. Nay, she at last grew so inventive, that, by combining flowers of various properties, she could compose, and often very happily, whole sentences and texts of the Koran. These she would then submit to her playmates for interpretation, which they seldom failed to hit. Thus one day, for example, she formed with Chalcedonic Lychnis the figure of a heart; surrounded it with white Roses and Lilies; fastened under it two mounting Kingsweeds, enclosing a beautifully marked Anemone between them; and her women, when she showed them, the wreath, unanimously read: Innocence of heart is above Birth and Beauty. She frequently presented her slaves with fresh nosegays: and these flower-donations commonly included praise or blame for their receivers. A garland of Peony-roses censured levity; the swelling Poppy, dulness and vanity; a bunch of odoriferous Hyacinths, with drooping bells, was a panegyric for modesty; the gold Lily, which shuts her leaves at sunset, for prudence; the Marine Convolvulus rebuked eye-service; and the blossoms of the Thorn-Apple, with the Daisy whose roots are poisonous, indicated slander and private envy.

Father Othman took a secret pleasure in this sprightly play of his daughter's fancy, though he himself had no talent for deciphering these witty hieroglyphics, and was frequently obliged to look with the spectacles of his whole Divan before he could pierce their meaning. The exotic taste of the Princess was not hidden from him; and though, as a plain Mussulman, he could not sympathise with her in it, he endeavoured, as a tender and indulgent parent, rather to maintain than to suppress this favourite tendency of his daughter. He fell upon the project of combining her passion for flowers with her preference for foreign parts, and laying out a garden for her in the taste of the Franks. This idea appeared to him so happy, that he lost not a moment in imparting it to his favourite, Shiek Kiamel, and pressing him with the strictest injunctions to realise it as speedily as possible. The Shiek, well knowing that his master's wishes were for him commands, which he must obey without reply, presumed not to mention the difficulties which he saw in the attempt. He himself understood as little about European gardens as the Sultan; and[Pg 121] in all Cairo there was no mortal known to him, with whom he might find counsel in the business. Therefore he made search among the Christian slaves for a man skilful in gardening; and lighted exactly on the wrong hand for extricating him from his difficulty. It was no wonder, then, that Shiek Kiamel shook his head contemplatively as he inspected the procedure of this horticultural improvement; for he was apprehensive, that if it delighted the Sultan as little as it did himself, he might be involved in a heavy responsibility, and his favouriteship, at the very least, might take wings and fly away.

At Court, this project had hitherto been treated as a secret, and the entrance of the place prohibited to every one in the seraglio. The Sultan purposed to surprise his daughter with this present on her birthday; to conduct her with ceremony into the garden, and make it over to her as her own. This day was now approaching; and his Highness had a wish to take a view of everything beforehand, to get acquainted with the new arrangements; that he might give himself the happiness of pointing out in person to his daughter the peculiar beauties of her garden. He communicated this to the Shiek, whom the tidings did not much exhilarate; and who, in consequence, composed a short defensive oration, which he fondly hoped might extricate his head from the noose, if the Sultan showed himself dissatisfied with the appearance of his Christian garden.

"Commander of the Faithful," he purposed to say, "thy nod is the director of my path; my feet hasten whither thou leadest them, and my hand holds fast what thou committest to it. Thou wishedst a garden after the manner of the Franks: here stands it before thy eyes. These untutored barbarians have no gardens; but meagre wastes of sand, which, in their own rude climate, where no dates or lemons ripen, and there is neither Kalaf nor Bahobab,[19] they plant with grass and weeds. For the curse of the Prophet has smitten with perpetual barrenness the plains of the Unbeliever, and forbidden him any foretaste of Paradise by the perfume of the Mecca balm-tree, or the enjoyment of spicy fruits."

[19] Kalaf, a shrub, from whose blossoms a liquor is extracted, resembling our cherry-water, and much used in domestic medicine. Bahobab, a sort of fruit, in great esteem among the Egyptians.

The day was far spent, when the Sultan, attended only by the Shiek, stept into the garden, in high expectation of the wonders[Pg 122] he was to behold. A wide unobstructed prospect over a part of the city, and the mirror surface of the Nile with its Musherns, Shamdecks and Sheomeons[20] sailing to and fro; in the background, the skyward-pointing pyramids, and a chain of blue vapoury mountains, met his eye from the upper terrace, no longer shrouded-in by the leafy grove of palms. A refreshing breath of air was also stirring in the place, and fanning him agreeably. Crowds of new objects pressed on him from every side. The garden had in truth got a strange foreign aspect; and the old park which had been his promenade from youth upwards, and had long since wearied him by its everlasting sameness, was no longer to be recognised. The knowing Kurt had judged wisely, that the charm of novelty would have its influence. The Sultan tried this horticultural metamorphosis not by the principles of a critic, but by its first impression on the senses; and as these are easily decoyed into contentment by the bait of singularity, the whole seemed good and right to him there as he found it. Even the crooked unsymmetrical walks, overlaid with hard stamped gravel, gave his feet an elastic force, and a light firm tread, accustomed as he was to move on nothing else but Persian carpets, or on the soft greensward. He could not satisfy himself with wandering up and down the labyrinthic walks; and he showed himself especially contented with the rich variety of wild flowers, which had been fostered and cultivated with the greatest care, though they were blossoming of their own accord, outside the wall, with equal luxuriance and in greater multitude.

[20] Various sorts of sailing craft in use there.

At last, having placed himself upon a seat, he turned to the Shiek with a cheerful countenance, and said: "Kiamel, thou hast not deceived my expectation: I well anticipated that thou wouldst transform me this old park into something singular, and diverse from the fashion of the land; and now I will not hide my satisfaction from thee. Melechsala may accept thy work as a garden after the manner of the Franks."

The Shiek, when he heard his despot talk in this dialect, marvelled much that all things took so well; and blessed himself that he had held his tongue, and retained his defensive oration to himself. Perceiving that the Sultan seemed to look upon the whole as his invention, he directly turned the rudder of his talk to the favourable breeze which was rustling his sails, and spoke thus: "Puissant Commander of the Faithful, be it known to[Pg 123] thee that thy obedient slave took thought with himself day and night how he might produce out of this old date-grove, at thy beck and order, something unexampled, the like of which had never been in Egypt before. Doubtless it was an inspiration of the Prophet that suggested the idea of planning it according to the pattern of Paradise; for I trusted, that by so doing I should not fail to meet the intention of thy Highness."

The worthy Sultan's conception of the Paradise, which to all appearance by the course of nature he must soon become possessed of, had still been exceedingly confused; or rather, like the favoured of fortune, who take their ease in this lower world, he had never troubled himself much about the other. But whenever any Dervish or Iman, or other spiritual person, mentioned Paradise, some image of his old park used to rise on his fancy; and the park was not by any means his favourite scene. Now, however, his imagination had been steered on quite a different tack. The new picture of his future happiness filled his soul with joy; at least he could now suppose that Paradise might not be so dull as he had hitherto figured it: and believing that he now possessed a model of it on the small scale, he formed a high opinion of the garden; and expressed this forthwith, by directly making Shiek Kiamel a Bey, and presenting him with a splendid caftan. Your thorough-paced courtier belies his nature in no quarter of the world: Kiamel, without the slightest hesitation, modestly appropriated the reward of a service which his functionary had performed; not uttering a syllable about him to the Sultan, and thinking him rather too liberally rewarded by a few aspers which he added to his daily pay.

About the time when the Sun enters the Ram, a celestial phenomenon, which in our climates is the watch-word for winter to commence his operation; but under the milder sky of Egypt announces the finest season of the year, the Flower of the World stept forth into the garden which had been prepared for her, and found it altogether to her foreign taste. She herself was, in truth, its greatest ornament: any scene where she had wandered, had it been a desert in Arabia the Stony, or a Greenland ice-field, would, in the eyes of a gallant person, have been changed into Elysium at her appearance. The wilderness of flowers, which chance had mingled in interminable rows, gave equal occupation to her eye and her spirit: the disorder itself she assimilated, by her sprightly allegories, to methodical arrangement.

[Pg 124]

According to the custom of the country, every time she entered the garden, all specimens of the male sex, planters, diggers, water-carriers, were expelled by her guard of Eunuchs. The Grace for whom our artist worked was thus hidden from his eyes, much as he could have wished for once to behold this Flower of the World, which had so long been a riddle in his botany. But as the Princess used to overstep the fashions of the East in many points, so by degrees, while she grew to like the garden more and more, and to pay it several visits daily, she began to feel obstructed and annoyed by the attendance of her guard sallying out before her in solemn parade, as if the Sultan had been riding to Mosque in the Bairam festival. She frequently appeared alone, or leaning on the arm of some favourite waiting-woman; always, however, with a thin veil over her face, and a little rush basket in her hand: she wandered up and down the walks, plucking flowers, which, according to custom, she arranged into emblems of her thoughts, and distributed among her people.

One morning, before the hot season of the day, while the dewdrops were still reflecting all the colours of the rainbow from the grass, she visited her Tempe to enjoy the cool morning air, just as her gardener was employed in lifting from the ground some faded plants, and replacing them by others newly blown, which he was carefully transporting in flower-pots, and then cunningly inserting in the soil with all their appurtenances, as if by a magic vegetation they had started from the bosom of the earth in a single night. The Princess noticed with pleasure this pretty deception of the senses, and having now found out the secret of the flowers which she plucked away being daily succeeded by fresh ones, so that there was never any want, she thought of turning her discovery to advantage, and instructing the gardener how and when to arrange them, and make them blossom. On raising his eyes, the Count beheld this female Angel, whom he took for the possessor of the garden, for she was encircled with celestial charms as with a halo. He was so surprised by this appearance that he dropped a flower-pot from his hands, forgetful of the precious colocassia contained in it, which ended its tender life as tragically as the Sieur Pilastre de Rosier, though both only fell into the bosom of their mother Earth.

The Count stood petrified like a statue without life or motion; one might have broken off his nose, as the Turks do with stone statues in temples and gardens, and never have aroused him.[Pg 125] But the sweet voice of the Princess, who opened her purple lips, recalled him to his senses. "Christian," said she, "be not afraid! It is my blame that thou art here beside me; go forward with thy work, and order thy flowers as I shall bid thee."—"Glorious Flower of the World!" replied the gardener, "in whose splendour all the colours of this blossomy creation wax pale, thou reignest here as in thy firmament, like the Star-queen on the battlements of Heaven. Let thy nod enliven the hand of the happiest among thy slaves, who kisses his fetters, so thou think him worthy to perform thy commands." The Princess had not expected that a slave would open his mouth to her, still less pay her compliments, and her eyes had been directed rather to the flowers than the planter. She now deigned to cast a glance on him, and was astonished to behold a man of the most noble form, surpassing in masculine grace all that she had ever seen or dreamed of.

Count Ernst of Gleichen had been celebrated for his manly beauty over all Germany. At the tournament of Würzburg, he had been the hero of the dames. When he raised his visor to take air, the running of the boldest spearman was lost for every female eye; all looked on him alone; and when he closed his helmet to begin a course, the chastest bosom heaved higher, and all hearts beat anxious sympathy with the lordly Knight. The partial hand of the Duke of Bavaria's love-sick niece had crowned him with a guerdon, which the young man blushed to receive. His seven years' durance in the Grated Tower, had indeed paled his blooming cheeks, relaxed his firm-set limbs, and dulled the fire of his eyes; but the enjoyment of the free atmosphere, and Labour, the playmate of Health, had now made good the loss, with interest. He was flourishing like a laurel, which has pined throughout the long winter in the greenhouse, and at the return of spring sends forth new leaves, and gets a fair verdant crown.

With her predilection for all foreign things, the Princess could not help contemplating with satisfaction the attractive figure of the stranger; and it never struck her that the sight of an Endymion may have quite another influence on a maiden's heart, than the creation of a milliner, set up for show in her booth. With kind gentle voice, she gave her handsome gardener orders how to manage the arrangement of his flowers; often asked his own, advice respecting it, and talked with him so long as any horticultural idea was in her head. She left him at length, but scarcely was[Pg 126] she gone five paces when she turned to give him fresh commissions; and as she took a promenade along the serpentine-walk, she called him again to her, and put new questions to him, and proposed new improvements before she went away. As the day began to cool, she again felt the want of fresh air, and scarcely had the sun returned to gild the waxing Nile, when a wish to see the awakening flowers unfold their blossoms, brought her back into the garden. Day after day her love of fresh air and awakening flowers increased; and in these visits she never failed to go directly to the place where her florist was labouring, and give him new orders, which he strove punctually and speedily to execute.

One day the Bostangi,[21] when she came to see him, was not to be found; she wandered up and down the intertwisted walks, regardless of the flowers that were blooming around her, and, by the high tints of their colours and the balmy air of their perfumes, as if striving with each other to attract her attention; she expected him behind every bush, searched every branching plant that might conceal him, fancied she should find him in the grotto, and, on his failing to appear, made a pilgrimage to all the groves in the garden, hoping to surprise him somewhere asleep, and enjoying the embarrassment which he would feel when she awoke him; but the head-gardener nowhere met her eye. By chance she came upon the stoical Viet, the Count's Groom, a dull piece of mechanism, whom his master had been able to make nothing out of but a drawer of water. On perceiving her, he wheeled with his water-cans to the left-about, that he might not meet her, but she called him to her, and asked, Where the Bostangi was? "Where else," said he, in his sturdy way, "but in the hands of the Jewish quack-salver, who will sweat the soul from his body in a trice?" These tidings cut the lovely Princess to the heart, for she had never dreamed that it was sickness which prevented her Bostangi from appearing at his post. She immediately returned to her palace, where her women saw, with consternation, that the serene brow of their mistress was overcast, as when the moist breath of the south wind has dimmed the mirror of the sky, and the hovering vapours have collected into clouds. In retiring to the Seraglio, she had plucked a variety of flowers, but all were of a mournful character, and bound with cypress and rosemary, indicating clearly enough the sadness of her mood. She did the same for several days, which brought her council of women into[Pg 127] much perplexity, and many deep debates about the cause of their fair Melechsala's grief; but withal, as in female consultations too often happens, they arrived at no conclusion, as in calling for the vote there was such a dissonance of opinions, that no harmonious note could be discovered in them. The truth was, Count Ernst's too zealous efforts to anticipate every nod of the Princess, and realise whatever she expressed the faintest hint of, had so acted on a frame unused to labour, that his health suffered under it, and he was seized with a fever. Yet the Jewish pupil of Galen, or rather the Count's fine constitution, mastered the disease, and in a few days he was able to resume his tasks. The instant the Princess noticed him, the clouds fled away from her brow; and her female senate, to whom her melancholy humour had remained an inexplicable riddle, now unanimously voted that some flower-plant, of whose progress she had been in doubt, had now taken root and begun to thrive,—a conclusion not inaccurate, if taken allegorically.

[21] Head-gardener.

Princess Melechsala was still as innocent in heart as she had come from the hands of Nature. She had never got the smallest warning or foreboding of the rogueries, which Amor is wont to play on inexperienced beauties. Hitherto, on the whole, there has been a want of Hints for Princesses and Maidens in regard to love; though a satisfactory theory of that kind might do infinitely greater service to the world than any Hints for the Instructors of Princes;[22] a class of persons who regard no hint, however broad, nay sometimes take it ill; whereas maidens never fail to notice every hint, and pay heed to it, their perception being finer, and a secret hint precisely their affair. The Princess was still in the first novitiate of love, and had not the slightest knowledge of its mysteries. She therefore yielded wholly to her feelings, without scrupling in the least, or ever calling a Divan of the three confidantes of her heart, Reason, Prudence and Reflection, to deliberate on the business. Had she done so, doubtless the concern she felt in the circumstances of the Bostangi would have indicated to her that the germ of an unknown passion was already vegetating strongly in her heart, and Reason and Reflection would have whispered to her that this passion was love. Whether in the Count's heart there was any similar process going on in secret, we have no diplomatic evidence before us: his over-anxious zeal[Pg 128] to execute the commands of his mistress might excite some such conjecture; and if so, a bunch of Lovage with a withered stalk of Honesty, tied up together, might have befitted him as an allegorical nosegay. Perhaps, however, it was nothing but an innocent chivalrous feeling which occasioned this distinguished alacrity; for in those times it was the most inviolable law of Knighthood, that its professors should in all things rigorously conform to the injunctions of the fair.

[22] Allusion to a small Treatise, which, about the time Musæus wrote his story, had appeared under that title.—Wieland.

No day now passed without the good Melechsala's holding trustful conversation with her Bostangi. The soft tone of her voice delighted his ear, and every one of her expressions seemed to say something flattering to him. Had he been endowed with the self-confidence of a court lord, he would have turned so fair a situation to profit for making farther advances: but he constantly restrained himself within the bounds of modesty. And as the Princess was entirely inexperienced in the science of coquetry, and knew not how to set about encouraging the timid shepherd to the stealing of her heart, the whole intrigue revolved upon the axis of mutual good-will; and might undoubtedly have long continued so revolving, had not Chance, which we all know commonly officiates as primum mobile in every change of things, ere long given the scene another form.

About sunset, one very beautiful day, the Princess visited the garden; her soul was as bright as the horizon; she talked delightfully with her Bostangi about many indifferent matters, for the mere purpose of speaking to him; and after he had filled her flower-basket, she seated herself in a grove, and bound up a nosegay, with which she presented him. The Count, as a mark of reverence to his fair mistress, fastened it, with a look of surprise and delight, to the breast of his waistcoat, without ever dreaming that the flowers might have a secret import; for these hieroglyphics were hidden from his eyes, as from the eyes of a discerning public the secret wheel-work of the famous Wooden Chess-player. And as the Princess did not afterwards expound that secret import, it has withered away with the blossoms, and been lost to the knowledge of posterity. Meanwhile she herself supposed that the language of flowers must be as plain to all mortals as their mother-tongue; she never doubted, therefore, but her favourite had understood the whole quite right; and as he looked at her with such an air of reverence when he took the nosegay, she accepted his gestures as expressions of modest[Pg 129] thanks for the praise of his activity and zeal, which, in all probability, the flowers had been meant to convey. She now took a thought of putting his inventiveness to proof in her turn, and trying whether in this flowery dialect of thanks he could pay a pretty compliment; or, in a word, translate the present aspect of his countenance, which betrayed the feelings of his heart, into flower-writing; and accordingly, she asked him for a nosegay of his composition. The Count, affected by such a proof of condescending goodness, darted to the end of the garden, into a remote greenhouse, where he had established his flower-dépôt, and out of which he was in the habit of transferring his plants to the soil as they came into blossom, without stirring them from their pots. There chanced to be an aromatic plant just then in bloom, a flower named Mushirumi[23] by the Arabs, and which hitherto had not appeared in the garden. With this novelty Count Ernst imagined he might give a little harmless pleasure to his fair florist; and accordingly, for want of a salver, having put a broad fig-leaf under it, he held it to her on his knees, with a look expressive of humility, yet claiming a little merit; for he thought to earn a word of praise by it. But, with the utmost consternation, he perceived that the Princess turned away her face, and, so far as he could notice through the veil, cast down her eyes as if ashamed, and looked on the ground, without uttering a word. She hesitated, and seemed embarrassed in accepting it; not deigning to cast a look on it, but laying it beside her on the seat. Her gay humour had departed; she assumed a majestic attitude, announcing haughty earnestness; and after a few moments left the grove, without taking any farther notice of her favourite, not, however, leaving her Mushirumi behind her, but carefully concealing it under her veil.

[23] Hyacinthus Muscari.

The Count was thunderstruck at this enigmatical catastrophe; he could not for his life understand the meaning of this strange behaviour, and continued sitting on his knees, in the position of a man doing penance, for some time after his Princess had left the place. It grieved him to the heart that he should have displeased and alienated this divinity, whom, for her condescending kindness, he venerated as a Saint of Heaven. When his first consternation had subsided, he slunk home to his dwelling, timid and rueful, like a man conscious of some heavy crime. The mettled Kurt had supper on the table; but his master would not bite,[Pg 130] and kept forking about in the plate, without carrying a morsel to his lips. By this the trusty Dapifer perceived that all was not right with the Count; wherefore he vanished speedily from the room, and uncorked a flask of Chian wine; which Grecian care-dispeller did not fail in its effect. The Count became communicative, and disclosed to his faithful Squire the adventure in the garden. Their speculations on it were protracted to a late hour, without affording any tenable hypothesis for the displeasure of the Princess; and as with all their pondering nothing could be discovered, master and servant betook them to repose. The latter found it without difficulty; the former sought it in vain, and watched throughout the painful night, till the dawn recalled him to his employments.

At the hour when Melechsala used to visit him, the Count kept an eager eye on the entrance, but the door of the Seraglio did not open. He waited the second day; then the third: the door of the Seraglio was as if walled up within. Had not the Count of Gleichen been a sheer idiot in flower-language, he would readily have found the key to this surprising behaviour of the Princess. By presenting the flower to her, he had, in fact, without knowing a syllable of the matter, made a formal declaration of love, and that in no Platonic sense. For when an Arab lover, by some trusty hand, privily transmits a Mushirumi flower to his mistress, he gives her credit for penetration enough to discover the only rhyme which exists in the Arabian language for the word. This rhyme is Ydskerumi, which, delicately rendered, means reward of love.[24] To this invention it must be conceded, that there cannot be a more compendious method of proceeding in the business than this of the Mushirumi, which might well deserve the imitation of our Western lovers. The whole insipid scribbling of Billets-doux, which often cost their authors so much toil and brain-beating, often when they come into the wrong hand are pitilessly mangled by hard-hearted jesters, often by the fair receivers themselves mistreated or falsely interpreted, might by this means be dispensed with. It need not be objected that the Mushirumi, or Muscadine-hyacinth, flowers but rarely and for a short time in our climates; because an imitation of it might be made by our Parisian or native gumflower-makers, to supply the wants of lovers at all seasons of the year; and an inland trade in this domestic manufacture might easily afford better profit than our present speculations with America.[Pg 131] Nor would a Chevalier in Europe have to dread that the presenting of so eloquent a flower might be charged upon him as a capital offence, for which his life might have to answer, as in the East could very simply happen. Had not Princess Melechsala been so kind and soft a soul, or had not omnipotent Love subdued the pride of the Sultan's daughter, the Count, for this flower-gallantry, innocently as on his part it was intended, must have paid with his head. But the Princess was in the main so little indignant at receiving this expressive flower, that on the contrary the fancied proffer struck a chord in her heart, which had long been vibrating before, and drew from it a melodious tone. Yet her virgin modesty was hard put to proof, when her favourite, as she supposed, presumed to entreat of her the reward of love. It was on this account that she had turned away her face at his proposal. A purple blush, which the veil had hidden from the Count, overspread her tender cheeks, her snow-white bosom heaved, and her heart beat higher beneath it. Bashfulness and tenderness were fighting a fierce battle within it, and her embarrassment was such that she could not utter a word. For a time she had been in doubt what to do with the perplexing Mushirumi; to disdain it, was to rob her lover of all hope; to accept it, was the promise that his wishes should be granted. The balance of resolution wavered, now to this side, now to that, till at length love decided; she took the flower with her, and this at least secured the Count's head, in the first place. But in her solitary chamber, there doubtless ensued much deep deliberation about the consequences which this step might produce; and the situation of the Princess was the more difficult, that in her ignorance of the concerns of the heart, she knew not how to act of herself; and durst not risk disclosing the affair to any other, if she would not leave the life of her beloved and her own fate at the caprice of a third party.

[24] Hasselquist's Travels in Palestine.

It is easier to watch a goddess at the bath than to penetrate the secrets of an Oriental Princess in the bedchamber of the Seraglio. It is therefore difficult for the historian to determine whether Melechsala left the Mushirumi which she had accepted of to wither on her dressing-table; or put it in fresh water, to preserve it for the solace of her eyes as long as possible. In like manner, it is difficult to discover whether this fair Princess spent the night asleep, with gay dreams dancing round her, or awake, a victim to the wasting cares of love. The latter is more probable, since early in the morning there arose great dole and lamentation[Pg 132] in the Palace, as the Princess made her appearance with pale cheeks and languid eyes; so that her female council dreaded the approach of grievous sickness. The Court Physician was called in; the same bearded Hebrew who had floated off the Count's fever in his sweat-bath; he was now to examine the pulse of a more delicate patient. According to the custom of the country, she was lying on a sofa, with a large screen in front of it, provided with a little opening, through which she stretched her beautifully turned arm, twice and three times wrapt with fine muslin, to protect it from the profane glance of a masculine eye, "God help me!" whispered the Doctor into the chief waiting-woman's ear: "Things have a bad look with her Highness; the pulse is quivering like a mouse-tail." At the same time, with practical policy, he shook his head dubitatingly, as cunning doctors are wont; ordered abundance of Kalaf and other cordials, and with a shrug of the shoulders predicted a dangerous fever.

Nevertheless, these alarming symptoms, which the medical gentleman considered as so many heralds announcing the approach of a malignant distemper, appeared to be nothing more than the consequences of a bad night's-rest; for the patient having taken her siesta about noon, found herself, to the Israelite's astonishment, out of danger in the evening; needed no more drugs, and by the orders of her Æsculapius was required merely to keep quiet for a day or two. This space she employed in maturely deliberating her intrigue, and devising ways and means for fulfilling the demands of the Mushirumi. She was diligently occupied, inventing, proving, choosing and rejecting. One hour fancy smoothed away the most impassable mountains; and the next, she saw nothing but clefts and abysses, from the brink of which she shuddered back, and over which the boldest imagination could not build a bridge. Yet on all these rocks of offence she grounded the firm resolution to obey the feelings of her heart, come what come might; a piece of heroism, not unusual with Mother Eve's daughters; which in the mean time they often pay for with the happiness and contentment of their lives.

The bolted gate of the Seraglio at last went up, and the fair Melechsala again passed through it into the garden, like the gay Sun through the portals of the East. The Count observed her entrance from behind a grove of ivy; and there began a knocking in his heart as in a mill; a thumping and hammering as if he had just run a race. Was it joy, was it fear, or anxious expecting[Pg 133] of what this visit would announce to him—forgiveness or disfavour? Who can unfold so accurately the heart of man, as to trace the origin and cause of every start and throb in this irritable muscle? In short, Count Ernst did feel considerable palpitations of the heart, so soon as he descried the Princess from afar; but of their Whence or Why, he could give his own mind no account. She very soon dismissed her suite; and from all the circumstances it was clear that poetical anthology was not her business in the present case. She bent her course to the grove; and as the Count was not playing hide-and-seek with much adroitness or zeal, she found him with great ease. While she was still at some distance, he fell upon his knees with mute eloquence before her, not venturing to raise his eyes, and looked as ruefully as a delinquent when the judge is ready to pass sentence on him. The Princess, however, with a soft voice and friendly gesture, said to him: "Bostangi, rise and follow me into this grove." Bostangi obeyed in silence; and she having taken her seat, spoke thus: "The will of the Prophet be done! I have called on him three days and three nights long, to direct me by a sign if my conduct were wavering between error and folly. He is silent; and approves the purpose of the Ringdove to free the captive Linnet from the chain with which he toilsomely draws water, and to nestle by his side. The Daughter of the Sultan has not disdained the Mushirumi from thy fettered hand. My lot is cast! Loiter not in seeking the Iman, that he lead thee to the Mosque, and confer on thee the Seal of the Faithful. Then will my Father, at my request, cause thee to grow as the Nile-stream, when it oversteps its narrow banks, and pours itself into the valley. And when thou art governing a Province as its Bey, thou mayest confidently raise thy eyes to the throne: the Sultan will not reject the son-in-law whom the Prophet has appointed for his daughter."

Like the conjuration of some potent Fairy, this address again transformed the Count into the image of a stone statue; he gazed at the Princess without life or motion; his cheeks grew pale, and his tongue was chained. On the whole, he had caught the meaning of the speech: but how he was to reach the unexpected honour of becoming the Sultan of Egypt's son-in-law was an unfathomable mystery. In this predicament, he certainly, for an accepted wooer, did not make the most imposing figure in the world; but awakening love, like the rising sun, coats everything[Pg 134] with gold. The Princess took his dumb astonishment for excess of rapture, and attributed his visible perplexity of spirit to the overwhelming feeling of his unexpected success. Yet in her heart there arose some virgin scruples lest she might have gone too fast to work with the ultimatum of the courtship, and outrun the expectations of her lover; therefore she again addressed him, and said: "Thou art silent, Bostangi? Let it not surprise thee that the perfume of thy Mushirumi breathes back on thee the odour of my feelings; in the curtain of deceit my heart has never been shrouded. Ought I by wavering hope to increase the toil of the steep path, which thy foot must climb before the bridal chamber can be opened to thee?"

During this speech the Count had found time to recover his senses; he roused himself, like a warrior from sleep when the alarm is sounded in the camp. "Resplendent Flower of the East," said he, "how shall the tiny herb that grows among the thorns presume to blossom under thy shadow? Would not the watchful hand of the gardener pluck it out as an unseemly weed, and cast it forth, to be trodden under foot on the highway, or withered in the scorching sun? If a breath of air stir up the dust, that it soil thy royal diadem, are not a hundred hands in instant employment wiping it away? How should a slave desire the precious fruit, which ripens in the garden of the Sultan for the palate of Princes? At thy command I sought a pleasant flower for thee, and found the Mushirumi, the name of which was as unknown to me, as its secret import still is. Think not that I meant aught with it but to obey thee."

This response distorted the fair plan of the Princess very considerably. She had not expected that it could be possible for a European not to combine with the Mushirumi, when presented to a lady, the same thought which the two other quarters of the world unite with it. The error was now clear as day; but love, which had once for all taken root in her heart, now dextrously winded and turned the matter; as a seamstress does a piece of work which she has cut wrong, till at last she makes ends meet notwithstanding. The Princess concealed her embarrassment by the playing of her fair hands with the hem of her veil; and, after a few moments' silence, she said, with gentle gracefulness: "Thy modesty resembles the night-violet, which covets not the glitter of the sun, yet is loved for its aromatic odour. A happy chance has been the interpreter of thy heart, and elicited the feelings of[Pg 135] mine. They are no longer hid from thee. Follow the doctrine of the Prophet, and thou art on the way to gain thy wish."

The Count now began to perceive the connection of the matter more and more distinctly; the darkness vanished from his mind by degrees, as the shades of night before the dawn. Here, then, the Tempter, whom, in the durance of the Grated Tower, he had expected under the mask of a horned satyr, or a black shrivelled gnome, appeared to him in the figure of winged Cupid, and was employing all his treacherous arts, persuading him to deny his faith, to forsake his tender spouse, and forget the pledges of her chaste love. "It stands in thy power," said he, "to change thy iron fetters with the kind ties of love. The first beauty in the world is smiling on thee, and with her the enjoyment of all earthly happiness! A flame, pure as the fire of Vesta, burns for thee in her bosom, and would waste her life, should folly and caprice overcloud thy soul to the refusing her favour. Conceal thy faith a little while under the turban; Father Gregory has water enough in his absolution-cistern to wash thee clean from such a sin. Who knows but thou mayest earn the merit of saving the pure maiden's soul, and leading it to the Heaven for which it was intended?" To this deceitful oration the Count would willingly have listened longer, had not his good Angel twitched him by the ear, and warned him to give no farther heed to the voice of temptation. So he thought that he must not speak with flesh and blood any longer, but by one bold effort gain the victory over himself. The word died away more than once in his mouth; but at last he took heart, and said: "The longing of the wanderer, astray in the Libyan wilderness, to cool his parched lips in the fountains of the Nile, but aggravates the torments of his thirsty heart, when he must still languish in the torrid waste. Therefore think not, O best and gentlest of thy sex, that such a wish has awakened within me, which, like a gnawing worm, would consume my heart, since I could not nourish it with hope. Know that, in my home, I am already joined by the indissoluble tie of marriage to a virtuous wife, and her three tender children lisp their father's name. How could a heart, torn asunder by sadness and longing, aspire to the Pearl of Beauty, and offer her a divided love?"

This explanation was distinct; and the Count believed that, as it were by one stroke, and in the spirit of true knighthood, he had ended this strife of love. He conceived that the Princess would now see her over-hasty error, and renounce her plan. But[Pg 136] here he was exceedingly mistaken. The Princess could not bring herself to think that the Count, a young blooming man, could be without eyes for her; she knew that she was lovely; and this frank exposition of the state of his heart made no impression on her whatever. According to the fashion of her country, she had no thought of appropriating to herself the sole possession of it; for, in the parabolic sport of the Seraglio, she had often heard, that man's love is like a thread of silk, which may be split and parted, so that every filament shall still remain a whole. In truth, a sensible similitude; which the wit of our Occidental ladies has never yet lighted on! Her father's Harem, had also, from her earliest years, set before her numerous instances of sociality in love; the favourites of the Sultan lived there with one another in the kindest unity.

"Thou namest me the Flower of the World," replied the Princess; "but behold, in this garden there are many flowers blossoming beside me, to delight eye and heart by their variety of loveliness; nor do I forbid thee to partake in this enjoyment along with me. Should I require of thee, in thy own garden, to plant but a single flower, with the constant sight of which thy eye would grow weary? Thy wife shall be sharer of the happiness I am providing for thee; thou shalt bring her into thy Harem; to me she shall be welcome; for thy sake she shall become my dearest companion, and for thy sake she will love me in return. Her little children also shall be mine; I will give them shade, that they bud pleasantly, and take root in this foreign soil."

The doctrine of Toleration in Love has, in our enlightened century, made far slower progress than that of Toleration in Religion; otherwise this declaration of the Princess could not seem to my fair readers so repulsive, as in all probability it will. But Melechsala was an Oriental; and under that mild sky, Megæra Jealousy has far less influence on the lovelier half of the species than on the stronger; whom, in return, she does indeed rule with an iron sceptre.

Count Ernst was affected by this meek way of thinking; and who knows what he might have resolved on, could he have depended on an equal liberality of sentiment from his Ottilia at home, and contrived in any way to overleap the other stone of stumbling which fronted him,—the renunciation of his creed? He by no means hid this latter difficulty from the goddess who was courting him so frankly; and, easy as it had been for her to[Pg 137] remove all previous obstacles, the present was beyond her skill. The confidential session was adjourned, without any settlement of this contested point. When the conference broke up, the proposals stood as in a frontier conference between two neighbouring states, where neither party will relinquish his rights, and the adjustment of the matter is postponed to another term, while the commissioners in the interim again live in peace with each other, and enjoy good cheer together.

In the secret conclave of the Count, the mettled Kurt, as we know, had a seat and vote; his master opened to him in the evening the whole progress of his adventure, for he was much disquieted; and it is very possible that some spark of love may have sputtered over from the heart of the Princess into his, too keen for the ashes of his lawful fire to quench. An absence of seven years, the relinquished hope of ever being re-united with the first beloved, and the offered opportunity of occupying the heart as it desires, are three critical circumstances, which, in so active a substance as love, may easily produce a fermentation that shall quite change its nature. The sagacious Squire pricked up his ears at hearing of these interesting events; and, as if the narrow passage of the auditory nerves had not been sufficient to convey the tidings fast enough into his brain, he likewise opened the wide doorway of his mouth, and both heard and tasted the unexpected news with great avidity. After maturely weighing everything, his vote ran thus: To lay hold of the seeming hope of release with both hands, and realise the Princess's plan; meanwhile, to do nothing either for it or against it, and leave the issue to Heaven. "You are blotted out from the book of the living," said he, "in your native land; from the abyss of slavery there is no deliverance, if you do not hitch yourself up by the rope of love. Your spouse, good lady, will never return to your embraces. If, in seven years, sorrow for your loss has not overpowered her and cut her off, Time has overpowered her sorrow, and she is happy by the side of another. But, to renounce your religion! That is a hard nut, in good sooth; too hard for you to crack. Yet there are means for this, too. In no country on Earth is it the custom for the wife to teach the husband what road to take for Heaven; no, she follows his steps, and is led and guided by him as the cloud by the wind; looks neither to the right hand nor to the left, nor behind her, like Lot's wife, who was changed into a pillar of salt: for where the husband[Pg 138] arrives, there is her abode. I have a wife at home, too; but think you, if I were stuck in Purgatory, she would hesitate to follow me, and waft fresh air upon my poor soul with her fan? So, depend on it, the Princess will renounce her false Prophet. If she love you truly, she will, to a certainty, be glad to change her Paradise for ours."

The mettled Kurt added much farther speaking to persuade his master that he ought not to resist this royal passion, but to forget all other ties, and free himself from his captivity. It did not strike him, that by his confidence in the affection of his wife, he had recalled to his master's memory the affection of his own amiable spouse; a remembrance which it was his object to abolish. The heart of the Count felt crushed as in a press; he rolled to this side and that on his bed; and his thoughts and purposes ran athwart each other in the strangest perplexity, till, towards morning, wearied out by this internal tumult, he fell into a dead sleep. He dreamed that his fairest front-tooth had dropped, out, at which he felt great grief and heaviness of heart; but on looking at the gap in the mirror, to see whether it deformed him much, a fresh tooth had grown forth in its place, fair and white as the rest, and the loss could not be observed. So soon as he awoke, he felt a wish to have his dream interpreted. The mettled Kurt soon hunted out a prophetic Gipsy, who by trade read fortunes from the hand and brow, and also had the talent of explaining dreams. The Count related his to her in all its circumstances; and the dingy wrinkled Pythoness, after meditating long upon it, opened her puckered mouth, and said: "What was dearest to thee death has taken away, but fate will soon supply thy loss."

Now, then, it was plain that the sage Squire's suppositions had been no idle fancies, but that the good Ottilia, from sorrow at the loss of her beloved husband, had gone down to the grave. The afflicted widower, who as little doubted of this tragic circumstance as if it had been notified to him on black-edged paper with seal and signature, felt all that a man who values the integrity of his jaw must feel when he loses a tooth, which bountiful Nature is about to replace by another; and comforted himself under this dispensation with the well-known balm of widowers: "It is the will of God; I must submit to it!" And now, holding himself free and disengaged, he bent all his sails, hoisted his flags and streamers, and steered directly for the haven of happy love. At[Pg 139] the next interview, he thought the Princess lovelier than ever; his looks languished towards her, and her slender form enchanted his eye, and her light soft gait was like the gait of a goddess, though she actually moved the one foot past the other, in mortal wise, and did not, in the style of goddesses, come hovering along the variegated sand-walk with unbent limbs. "Bostangi," said she, with melodious voice, "hast thou spoken to the Iman?" The Count was silent for a moment; he cast down his beaming eyes, laid his hand submissively on his breast, and sank on his knee before her. In this humble attitude, he answered resolutely: "Exalted daughter of the Sultan! my life is at thy nod, but not my faith. The former I will joyfully offer up to thee; but leave me the latter, which is so interwoven with my soul, that only death can part them." From this, it was apparent to the Princess that her fine enterprise was verging towards shipwreck; wherefore she adopted a heroical expedient, undoubtedly of far more certain effect than our animal magnetism, with all its renowned virtues: she unveiled her face. There stood she, in the full radiance of beauty, like the Sun when he first raised his head from Chaos to hurl his rays over the gloomy Earth. Soft blushes overspread her cheeks, and higher purple glowed upon her lips; two beautifully-curved arches, on which love was sporting like the many-coloured Iris on the rainbow, shaded her spirit-speaking eyes; and two golden tresses kissed each other on her lily breast. The Count was astonished and speechless; the Princess addressed him, and said:

"See, Bostangi, whether this form pleases thy eyes, and whether it deserves the sacrifice which I require of thee."

"It is the form of an Angel," answered he, with looks of the highest rapture, "and deserves to shine, encircled with a glory, in the courts of the Christian Heaven, compared with which, the delights of the Prophet's Paradise are empty shadows."

These words, spoken with warmth and visible conviction, found free entrance into the open heart of the Princess: especially, the glory, it appeared to her, must be a sort of head-dress that would sit not ill upon the face. Her quick fancy fastened on this idea, which she asked to have explained; and the Count with all eagerness embraced this opportunity of painting the Christian Heaven to her as charming as he possibly could; he chose the loveliest images his mind would suggest; and spoke with as much confidence as if he had descended directly from the place on a[Pg 140] mission to the Princess. Now, as it has pleased the Prophet to endow the fair sex with very scanty expectations in the other world, our apostolic preacher failed the less in his intentions; though it cannot be asserted that he was preëminently qualified for the missionary duty. But whether it were that Heaven itself favoured the work of conversion, or that the foreign tastes of the Princess extended to the spiritual conceptions of the Western nations, or that the person of this Preacher to the Heathen mixed in the effect, certain it is she was all ear, and would have listened to her pedagogue with pleasure for many hours longer, had not the approach of night cut short their lesson. For the present, she hastily dropped her veil, and retired to the Seraglio.

It is a well-known fact, that the children of princes are always very docile, and make giant steps in every branch of profitable knowledge, as our Journals often plainly enough testify; while the other citizens of this world must content themselves with dwarf steps. It was not surprising, therefore, that the Sultan of Egypt's daughter had in a short space mastered the whole synopsis of Church doctrine as completely as her teacher could impart it, bating a few heresies, which, in his inacquaintance with the delicate shades of faith, he had undesignedly mingled with it. Nor did this acquisition remain a dead letter with her; it awakened the most zealous wish for proselytising. Accordingly, the plan of the Princess had now in so far altered, that she no longer insisted on converting the Count, but rather felt inclined to let herself be converted by him; and this not only in regard to unity in faith, but also to the purposed unity in love. The whole question now was, by what means this intention could be realised. She took counsel with Bostangi, he with the mettled Kurt, in their nocturnal deliberations on this weighty matter; and the latter voted distinctly to strike the iron while it was hot; to inform the fair proselyte of the Count's rank and birth; propose to her to run away with him; instantly to cross the water for the European shore; and live together in Thuringia as Christian man and wife.

The Count clapped loud applause to this well-grounded scheme of his wise Squire; it was as if the mettled Kurt had read it in his master's eyes. Whether the fulfilment of it might be clogged with difficulties or not, was a point not taken into view in the first fire of the romantic project: Love removes all mountains, overleaps walls and trenches, bounds across abyss and chasm, and steps the[Pg 141] barrier of a city as lightly as it does a straw. At the next lecture, the Count disclosed the plan to his beloved catechumena.

"Thou reflection of the Holy Virgin," said he, "chosen of Heaven from an outcast people, to gain the victory over prejudice and error, and acquire a lot and inheritance in the Abodes of Felicity, hast thou the courage to forsake thy native country, then prepare for speedy flight. I will guide thee to Rome, where dwells the Porter of Heaven, St. Peter's deputy, to whom are committed the keys of Heaven's gate; that he may receive thee into the bosom of the Church, and bless the covenant of our love. Fear not that thy father's potent arm may reach us; every cloud above our heads will be a ship manned with angelic hosts, with diamond shields and flaming swords; invisible indeed to mortal eye, but armed with heavenly might, and appointed to watch and guard thee. Nor will I conceal any longer, that I am, by birth and fortune, all that the Sultan's favour could make me; a Count, that is a Bey born, who rules over land and people. The limits of my lordship include towns and villages, palaces also and strongholds. Knights and squires obey me; horses and carriages stand ready for my service. In my native land, thou thyself, enclosed by no walls of a seraglio, shalt live and rule in freedom as a queen."

This oration of the Count the Princess thought a message from above; she entertained no doubts of his truth; and it seemed to please her that the Ringdove was to nestle, not beside a Linnet, but beside a bird of the family of the Eagle. Her warm fancy was filled with such sweet anticipations, that she consented, with all the alacrity of the Children of Israel, to forsake the land of Egypt, as if a new Canaan, in another quarter of the world, had been waiting her beyond the sea. Confident in the protection of the unseen life-guard promised to her, she would have followed her conductor from the precincts of the Palace forthwith, had he not instructed her that many preparations were required, before the great enterprise could be engaged in with any hope of a happy issue.

Among all privateering transactions by sea or land, there is none more ticklish, or combined with greater difficulties, than that of kidnapping the Grand Signior's favourite from his arms. Such a masterstroke could only be imagined by the teeming fancy of a W*z*l,[25] nor could any but a Kakerlak achieve it. Yet the[Pg 142] undertaking of Count Ernst of Gleichen to carry off the Sultan of Egypt's daughter, was environed with no fewer difficulties; and as these two heroes come, to a certain extent, into competition in this matter, we must say, that the adventure of the Count was infinitely bolder, seeing everything proceeded merely by the course of Nature, and no serviceable Fairy put a finger in the pie: nevertheless, the result of both these corresponding enterprises, in the one as well as in the other, came about entirely to the wish of parties. The Princess filled her jewel-box sufficiently with precious stones; changed her royal garment with a Kaftan; and one evening, under the safe-conduct of her beloved, his trusty Squire and the phlegmatic Water-drawer, glided forth from the Palace into the Garden, unobserved, to enter on her far journey to the West. Her absence could not long remain concealed; her women sought her, as the proverb runs, like a lost pin; and as she did not come to light, the alarm in the Seraglio became boundless. Hints here and there had already been dropped, and surmises made, about the private audiences of the Bostangi; supposition and fact were strung together; and the whole produced, in sooth, no row of pearls, but the horrible discovery of the real nature of the case. The Divan of Dames had nothing for it but to send advice of the occurrence to the higher powers. Father Sultan, whom the virtuous Melechsala, everything considered, might have spared this pang, and avoided flying her country to make purchase of a glory, demeaned himself at this intelligence like an infuriated lion, who shakes his brown mane with dreadful bellowing, when by the uproar of the hunt, and the baying of the hounds, he is frightened from his den. He swore by the Prophet's beard that he would utterly destroy every living soul in the Seraglio, if at sunrise the Princess were not again in her father's power. The Mameluke guard had to mount, and gallop towards the four winds, in chase of the fugitives, by every road from Cairo; and a thousand oars were lashing the broad back of the Nile, in case she might have taken a passage by water.

[25] J. K. Wetzel, author of some plays and novels; among the latter, of Kakerlak.—Ed.

Under such efforts, to elude the far-stretching arm of the Sultan was impossible, unless the Count possessed the secret of rendering himself and his travelling party invisible; or the miraculous gift of smiting all Egypt with blindness. But of these talents neither had been lent him. Only the mettled Kurt had taken certain measures, which, in regard to their effect, might supply the place of miracles. He had rendered his flying caravan[Pg 143] invisible, by the darkness of an unlighted cellar in the house of Adullam the sudorific Hebrew. This Jewish Hermes did not satisfy himself with practising the healing art to good advantage, but drew profit likewise from the gift which he had received by inheritance from his fathers; and thus honoured Mercury in all his three qualities, of Patron to Doctors, to Merchants, and to Thieves. He drove a great trade in spiceries and herbs with the Venetians, from which he had acquired much wealth; and he disdained no branch of business whereby anything was to be made. This worthy Israelite, who for money and money's worth, stood ready, without investigating moral tendencies, for any sort of deed, the trusty Squire had prevailed on, by a jewel from the casket of the Princess, to undertake the transport of the Count, whose rank and intention were not concealed from him, with three servants, to a Venetian ship that was loading at Alexandria; but it had prudently been hidden from him, that in the course of this contraband transaction, he must smuggle out his master's daughter. On first inspecting his cargo, the figure of the fair youth struck him somewhat; but he thought no ill of it, and took him for a page of the Count's. Ere long the report of the Princess Melechsala's disappearance sounded over all the city: then Adullam's eyes were opened; deadly terror took possession of his heart, so that his gray beard began to stir, and he wished with all his soul that his hands had been free of this perilous concern. But now it was too late; his own safety required him to summon all his cunning, and conduct this breakneck business to a happy end. In the first place, he laid his subterranean lodgers under rigorous quarantine; and then, after the sharpest of the search was over, the hope of finding the Princess considerably faded, and the zeal in seeking for her cooled, he packed the whole caravan neatly up in four bales of herbs, put them on board a Nile-boat, and sent them with a proper invoice, under God's guidance, safe and sound to Alexandria; where so soon as the Venetian had gained the open sea, they were liberated, all and sundry, from their strait confinement in the herb-sacks.[26]

[26] The invention of travelling in a sack was several times employed during the Crusades. Dietrich the Hard-bested, Markgraf of Meissen (Misnia), returned from Palestine to his hereditary possessions, under this incognito, and so escaped the snares of the Emperor Henry VI., who had an eye to the productive mines of Freyberg.—M.

Whether the celestial body-guard, with diamond shields and[Pg 144] flaming swords, posted on a gorgeous train of clouds, did follow the swift ship, could not now, as they were invisible, be properly substantiated in a court of justice; yet there are not wanting symptoms in the matter which might lead to some such conjecture. All the four winds of Heaven seem to have combined to make the voyage prosperous; the adverse held their breath; and the favourable blew so gaily in the sails, that the vessel ploughed the soft-playing billows with the speed of an arrow. The friendly moon was stretching her horns from the clouds for the second time, when the Venetian, glad in heart, ran into moorings in the harbour of his native town.

Countess Ottilia's watchful spy was still at Venice; undismayed by the fruitless toil of vain inquiries, from continuing his diets of examination, and diligently questioning all passengers from the Levant. He was at his post when the Count, with the fair Melechsala, came on land. His master's physiognomy was so stamped upon his memory, that he would have undertaken to discover it among a thousand unknown faces. Nevertheless the foreign garb, and the finger of Time, which in seven years produces many changes, made him for some moments doubtful. To be certain of his object, he approached the stranger's suite, made up to the trusty Squire, and asked him: "Comrade, whence come you?"

The mettled Kurt rejoiced to meet a countryman, and hear the sound of his mother-tongue; but saw no profit in submitting his concerns to the questioning of a stranger, and answered briefly: "From sea."

"Who is the gentleman thou followest?"

"My master."

"From what country come you?"

"From the East."

"Whither are you going?"

"To the West."

"To what province?"

"To our home."

"Where is it?"

"Miles of road from this."

"What is thy name?"

"Start-the-game, that is my name. Strike-for-a-word, people call my sword. Sorrow-of-life, so hight my wife. Rise, Lig-a-bed, she cries to her maid. Still-at-a-stand, that is my man.[Pg 145] Hobbletehoy, I christened my boy. Lank-i'-the-bag, I scold my nag. Shamble-and-stalk, we call his walk. Trot-i'-the-bog, I whistle my dog. Saw-ye-that, so jumps my cat. Snug-in-the-rug, he is my bug. Now thou knowest me, with wife and child, and all my household."

"Thou seemest to me to be a queer fellow."

"I am no fellow at all, for I follow no handicraft."

"Answer me one question."

"Let us hear it."

"Hast thou any news of Count Ernst of Gleichen, from the East?"

"Wherefore dost thou ask?"


"Twiddle, twaddle! Wherefore, therefore!"

"Because I am sent into all the world by the Countess Ottilia his wife, to get her word whether her husband is still living, and in what corner of the Earth he may be found."

This answer put the mettled Kurt into some perplexity; and tuned him to another key. "Wait a little, neighbour," said he; "perhaps my master knows about the thing." Thereupon he ran to the Count, and whispered the tidings in his ear. The feeling they awoke was complex; made up in equal proportions of joy and consternation. Count Ernst perceived that his dream, or the interpretation of it, had misled him; and that the conceit of marrying his fair travelling companion might easily be baulked. On the spur of the moment he knew not how he should get out of this embroiled affair: meanwhile, the desire to learn how matters stood at home outweighed all scruples. He beckoned to the emissary, whom he soon recognised for his old valet; and who wetted with joyful tears the hand of his recovered master, and told in many words what jubilee the Countess would make, when she received the happy message of her husband's return. The Count took him with the rest to the inn; and there engaged in earnest meditation on the singular state of his heart, and considered deeply what was to be done with his engagements to the fair Saracen. Without loss of time the watchful spy was dispatched to the Countess with a letter, containing a true statement of the Count's fortunes in slavery at Cairo, and of his deliverance by means of the Sultan's daughter; how she had abandoned throne and country for his sake, under the condition that he was to marry her, which he himself, deceived by a dream,[Pg 146] had promised. By this narrative he meant not only to prepare his wife for a participatress in her marriage rights; but also endeavoured, in the course of it, by many sound arguments, to gain her own consent to the arrangement.

Countess Ottilia was standing at the window in her mourning weeds, as the news-bringer for the last time gave his breathless horse the spur, to hasten it up the steep Castle-path. Her sharp eye recognised him in the distance; and he too being nothing of a blinkard,—a class of persons very rare in the days of the Crusades,—recognised the Countess also, raised the letter-bag aloft over his head, and waved it like a standard in token of good news; and the lady understood his signal, as well as if the Hanau Synthematograph had been on duty there. "Hast thou found him, the husband of my heart?" cried she, as he approached. "Where lingers he, that I may rise and wipe the sweat from his brow, and let him rest in my faithful arms from his toilsome journeying?"—"Joy to you, my lady," said the post; "his lordship is well. I found him in the Port of Venice, from which he sends you this under his hand and seal, to announce his arrival himself." The Countess could not hastily enough undo the seal; and at sight of her husband's hand, she felt as if the breath of life were coming back to her. Three times she pressed the letter to her beating heart, and three times touched it with her languishing lips. A shower of joyful tears streamed over the parchment, as she began reading: but the farther she read, the drops fell the slower; and before the reading was completed, the fountain of tears had dried up altogether.

The contents of the letter could not all interest the good lady equally; her husband's proposed partition treaty of his heart had not the happiness to meet with her approval. Greatly as the spirit of partition has acquired the upper hand nowadays, so that parted love and parted provinces have become the device of our century; these things were little to the taste of old times, when every heart had its own key, and a master-key that would open several was regarded as a scandalous thief-picklock. The intolerance of the Countess in this point was at least a proof of her unvarnished love: "Ah! that doleful Crusade," cried she, "is the cause of it all. I lent the Holy Church a Loaf, of which the Heathen have eaten; and nothing but a Crust of it returns to me." A vision of the night, however, soothed her troubled mind, and gave her whole view of the affair another aspect. She dreamed[Pg 147] that there came two pilgrims from the Holy Sepulchre up the winding Castle-road, and begged a lodging, which she kindly granted them. One of them threw off his cloak, and behold it was the Count her lord! She joyfully embraced him, and was in raptures at his return. The children too came in, and he clasped them in his paternal arms, pressed them to his heart, and praised their looks and growth. Meanwhile his companion laid aside his travelling pouch; drew from it golden chains and precious strings of jewelry, and hung them round the necks of the little ones, who showed delighted with these glittering presents. The Countess was herself surprised at this munificence, and asked the stranger who he was. He answered: "I am the Angel Raphael, the guide of the loving, and have brought thy husband to thee out of foreign lands." His pilgrim garments melted away; and a shining angel stood before her, in an azure robe, with two golden wings on his shoulders. Thereupon she awoke, and, in the absence of an Egyptian Sibyl, herself interpreted the dream according to her best skill; and found so many points of similarity between the Angel Raphael and the Princess Melechsala, that she doubted not the latter had been shadowed forth to her in vision under the figure of the former. At the same time she took into consideration the fact that, without her help, the Count could scarcely ever have escaped from slavery. And as it behoves the owner of a lost piece of property to deal generously with the finder, who might have kept it all to himself, she no longer hesitated to resolve on the surrender. The water-bailiff, well rewarded for his watchfulness, was therefore dispatched forthwith back into Italy, with the formal consent of the Countess for her husband to complete the trefoil of his marriage without loss of time.

The only question now was, whether Father Gregory at Rome would give his benediction to this matrimonial anomaly; and be persuaded, for the Count's sake, to refound, by the word of his mouth, the substance, form and essence of the Sacrament of Marriage. The pilgrimage accordingly set forth from Venice to Rome, where the Princess Melechsala solemnly abjured the Koran, and entered into the bosom of the Church. At this spiritual conquest the Holy Father testified as much delight as if the kingdom of Antichrist had been entirely destroyed, or reduced under subjection to the Romish chair; and after the baptism, on which occasion she had changed her Saracenic name for the more orthodox[Pg 148] Angelica, he caused a pompous Te-deum to be celebrated in St. Peter's. These happy aspects Count Ernst endeavoured to improve for his purpose, before the Pope's good-humour should evaporate. He brought his matrimonial concern to light without delay: but, alas! no sooner asked than rejected. The conscience of St. Peter's Vicar was so tender in this case, that he reckoned it a greater heresy to advocate triplicity in marriage than Tritheism itself. Many plausible arguments as the Count brought forward to accomplish an exception from the common rule in his own favour, they availed no jot in moving the exemplary Pope to wink with one eye of his conscience, and vouchsafe the petitioned dispensation: a result which cut Count Ernst to the heart. His sly counsel, the mettled Kurt, had in the mean time struck out a bright expedient for accomplishing the marriage of his master with the fair convert, to the satisfaction of the Pope and Christendom in general; only he had not risked disclosing it, lest it might cost him his master's favour. Yet at last he found his opportunity, and put the matter into words. "Dear master," said he, "do not vex yourself so much about the Pope's perverseness. If you cannot get round him on the one side, you must try him on the other: there are more roads to the wood than one. If the Holy Father has too tender a conscience to permit your taking two wives, then it is fair for you also to have a tender conscience, though you are no priest but a layman. Conscience is a cloak that covers every hole, and has withal the quality that it can be turned according to the wind: at present, when the wind is cross, you must put the cloak on the other shoulder. Examine whether you are not related to the Countess Ottilia within the prohibited degrees: if so, as will surely be the case, if you have a tender conscience, then the game is your own. Get a divorce; and who the deuce can hinder you from wedding the Princess then?"

The Count had listened to his Squire till the sense of his oration was completely before him; then he answered it with two words, shortly and clearly: "Peace, Dog!" In the same moment, the mettled Kurt found himself lying at full length without the door, and seeking for a tooth or two which had dropped from him in this rapid transit. "Ah! the precious tooth," cried he from without, "has been sacrificed to my faithful zeal!" This tooth monologue reminded the Count of his dream. "Ah! the cursed tooth," cried he from within, "which I dreamed of losing, has[Pg 149] been the cause of all this mischief!" His heart, between self-reproaches for unfaithfulness to his amiable wife, and for prohibited love to the charming Angelica, kept wavering like a bell, which yields a sound on both sides, when set in motion. Still more than the flame of his passion, the fire of indignation burnt and gnawed him, now that he saw the visible impossibility of ever keeping his word to the Princess, and taking her in wedlock. All which distresses, by the way, led him to the just experimental conclusion, that a parted heart is not the most desirable of things; and that the lover, in these circumstances, but too much resembles the Ass Baldwin between his two bundles of hay.

In such a melancholy posture of affairs, he lost his jovial humour altogether, and wore the aspect of an atrabiliar, whom in bad weather the atmosphere oppresses till the spleen is like to crush the soul out of his body. Princess Angelica observed that her lover's looks were no longer as yesterday, and ere-yesterday: it grieved her soft heart, and moved her to resolve on making trial whether she should not be more successful, if she took the dispensation business in her own hand. She requested audience of the conscientious Gregory; and appeared before him closely veiled, according to the fashion of her country. No Roman eye had yet seen her face, except the priest who baptised her. His Holiness received the new-born daughter of the Church with all suitable respect, offered her the palm of his right hand to kiss, and not his perfumed slipper. The fair stranger raised her veil a little to touch the sacred hand with her lips; then opened her mouth, and clothed her petition in a touching address. Yet this insinuation through the Papal ear seemed not sufficiently to know the interior organisation of the Head of the Church; for instead of taking the road to the heart, it passed through the other ear out into the air. Father Gregory expostulated long with the lovely supplicant; and imagined he had found a method for in some degree contenting her desire of union with a bridegroom, without offence to the ordinations of the Church: he proposed to her a spiritual wedlock, if she could resolve on a slight change of the veil, the Saracenic for the Nun's. This proposal suddenly awakened in the Princess such a horror at veils, that she directly tore away her own; sank full of despair before the holy footstool, and with uplifted hands and tearful eyes, conjured the venerable Father by his sacred slipper, not to do violence to her heart, and constrain her to bestow it elsewhere.

[Pg 150]

The sight of her beauty was more eloquent than her lips; it enraptured all present; and the tear which gathered in her heavenly eye fell like a burning drop of naphtha on the Holy Father's heart, and kindled the small fraction of earthly tinder that still lay hid there, and warmed it into sympathy for the petitioner. "Rise, beloved daughter," said he, "and weep not! What has been determined in Heaven, shall be fulfilled in thee on Earth. In three days thou shalt know whether this thy first prayer to the Church can be granted by that gracious Mother, or must be denied." Thereupon he summoned an assembly of all the Casuists in Rome; had a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine distributed to each; and locked them up in the Rotunda, with the warning that no one of them should be let out again till the question had been determined unanimously. So long as the loaves and wine held out, the disputes were so violent, that all the Saints, had they been convened in the church, could not have argued with greater noise. But so soon as the Digestive Faculty began to have a voice in the meeting, he was listened to with the deepest attention, and happily he spoke in favour of the Count, who had got a sumptuous feast made ready for the entertainment of the casuistic Doctors, when the Papal seal should be removed from their door. The Bull of Dispensation was drawn out in proper form of law; in furtherance of which the fair Angelica had, not at all reluctantly, inflicted a determined cut upon the treasures of Egypt. Father Gregory bestowed his benediction on the noble pair, and sent them away betrothed. They lost no time in leaving Peter's Patrimony for the territories of the Count, to celebrate their nuptials on arriving.

When Count Ernst, on this side the Alps, again inhaled his native air, and felt it come soft and kindly round his heart, he mounted his steed; galloped forward, attended only by the heavy Groom, and left the Princess, under the escort of the mettled Kurt, to follow him by easy journeys.

His heart beat high within him, when he saw in azure distance the three towers of Gleichen. He meant to take his gentle Countess by surprise; but the news of his approach had preceded him, as on the wings of the wind; she went forth with man and maid, and met her husband a furlong from the Castle, in a pleasant green, which, in memory of this event, is called the Freudenthal, or Valley of Joy, to this day. The meeting on both sides was as trustful and tender, as if no partition treaty had ever[Pg 151] been thought of: for Countess Ottilia was a proper pattern of the pious wife, that obeys without commentary the marriage precept of subjecting her will to the will of her husband. If at times there did arise some small sedition in her heart, she did not on the instant ring the alarm-bell; but she shut door and window, that no mortal eye might look in and see what passed; and then summoned the rebel Passion to the bar of Reason; gave it over in custody to Prudence, and imposed on herself a voluntary penance.

She could not pardon her heart for having murmured at the rival sun that was to shine beside her on the matrimonial horizon; and to expiate the offence, she had secretly commissioned a triple bedstead, with stout fir posts, painted green, the colour of Hope; and a round vaulted tester, in the form of a dome, adorned with winged puffy-cheeked heads of angels. On the silken coverlet, which lay for show over the downy quilts, was exhibited in fine embroidery, the Angel Raphael, as he had appeared to her in vision, beside the Count in pilgrim weeds. This speaking proof of her ready matrimonial complaisance affected her husband to the soul. He clasped her to his breast, and overpowered her with kisses, at the sight of this arrangement for the completion of his wedded joys.

"Glorious wife!" cried he with rapture, "this temple of love exalts thee above thousands of thy sex; as an honourable memorial, it will transmit thy name to future ages; and while a splinter of this wood remains, husbands will recount to their wives thy exemplary conduct."

In a few days afterwards, the Princess also arrived in safety, and was received by the Count in full gala. Ottilia came to meet her with open arms and heart, and conducted her into the Palace, as the partner in all its privileges. The double bridegroom then set out to Erfurt, for the Bishop to perform the marriage ceremony. This pious prelate was extremely shocked at the proposal, and signified, that in his diocese no such scandal could be tolerated. But, on Count Ernst's bringing out the papal dispensation, signed and sealed in due form, it acted as a lock on his Reverence's lips; though his doubting looks, and shaking of the head, still indicated that the Steersman of the bark of the universal Church had bored a hole in the keel, which bade fair to swamp the vessel, and send it to the bottom of the sea.

The nuptials were celebrated with becoming pomp and splendour;[Pg 152] Countess Ottilia, who acted as mistress of the ceremonies, had invited widely; and the counts and knights, over all Thuringia, far and wide, came crowding to assist at this unusual wedding. Before the Count led his bride to the altar, she opened her jewel-box, and consigned to him all its treasures that remained from the expenses of the dispensation, as a dowry; in return for which, he conferred on her the lands of Ehrenstein, by way of jointure. The chaste myrtle twined itself about the golden crown, which latter ornament the Sultan's daughter, as a testimony of her high birth, retained through life; and was, in consequence, invariably named the Queen by her subjects, and by her domestics reverenced and treated like a queen.

If any of my readers ever purchased for himself, for fifty guineas, the costly pleasure of resting a night in Doctor Graham's Celestial Bed at London, he may form some slender conception of the Count's delight, when the triple bed at Gleichen opened its elastic bosom to receive the twice-betrothed, with both his spouses. Seven days long the nuptial festivities continued; and the Count declared himself richly compensated by them for the seven dreary years which he had been obliged to spend in the Grated Tower at Grand Cairo. Nor would this appear to have been an empty compliment on his part to his two faithful wives, if the experimental apophthegm is just, that a single day of gladness sweetens into oblivion the bitter dole and sorrow of a troublous year.

Next to the Count, there was none who relished this exhilarating period better than his trusty Squire, the mettled Kurt, who, in the well-stored kitchen and cellar, found the elements of royal cheer, and stoutly emptied the cup of joy which circulated fast among the servants; while the full table pricked up their ears as he opened his lips, his inner man once satisfied with good things, and began to recount them his adventures. But when the Gleichic economy returned to its customary frugal routine, he requested permission to set out for Ordruff, to visit his kind wife, and overwhelm her with joy at his unexpected return. During his long absence, he had constantly maintained a rigorous fidelity, and he now longed for the just reward of so exemplary a walk and conversation. Fancy painted to his mind's eye the image of his virtuous Rebecca in the liveliest colours; and the nearer he approached the walls which enclosed her, the brighter grew these hues. He saw her stand before him in the charms which had[Pg 153] delighted him on his wedding-day; he saw how excess of joy at his happy arrival would overpower her spirits, and she would sink in speechless rapture into his arms.

Encircled with this fair retinue of dreams, he arrived at the gate of his native town, without observing it, till the watchful guardian of public tranquillity let down his beam in front of him, and questioned the stranger, Who he was, what business had brought him to the town, and whether his intentions were peaceable or not? The mettled Kurt gave ready answer; and now rode along the streets at a soft pace, lest his horse's tramp might too soon betray the secret of his coming. He fastened his beast to the door-ring, and stole, without noise, into the court of his dwelling, where the old chained house-dog first received him with joyful bark. Yet he wondered somewhat at the sight of two lively chub-faced children, like the Angels in the Gleichen bed-tester, frisking to and fro upon the area. He had no time to speculate on the phenomenon, for the mistress of the house, in her carefulness, stept out of doors to see who was there. Alas, what a difference between ideal and original! The tooth of Time had, in these seven years, been mercilessly busy with her charms; yet the leading features of her physiognomy had been in so far spared, that to the eye of the critic she was still recognisable, like the primary stamp of a worn coin. Joy at meeting somewhat veiled this want of beauty from the mettled Kurt, and the thought that sorrow for his absence had so furrowed the smooth face of his consort put him into a sentimental mood; he embraced her with great cordiality, and said: "Welcome, dear wife of my heart! Forget all thy sorrow. See, I am still alive; thou hast got me back!"

The pious Rebecca answered this piece of tenderness by a heavy thwack on the short ribs, which thwack made the mettled Kurt stagger to the wall; then raised loud shrieks, and shouted to her servants for help against violence, and scolded and stormed like an Infernal Fury. The loving husband excused this unloving reception, on the score of his virtuous spouse's delicacy, which his bold kiss of welcome had offended, she not knowing who he was; and tore his lungs with bawling to undo this error; but his preaching was to deaf ears, and he soon found that there was no misunderstanding in the case. "Thou shameless varlet," cried she, in shrieking treble, "after wandering seven long years up and down the world, following thy wicked courses with other women, dost[Pg 154] thou think that I will take thee back to my chaste bed? Off with thee! Did not I publicly cite thee at three church-doors, and wert not thou, for thy contumacious non-appearance, declared to be dead as mutton? Did not the High Court authorise me to put aside my widow's chair, and marry Bürgermeister Wipprecht? Have not we lived six years as man and wife, and received these children as a blessing of our wedlock? And now comes the Marpeace to perplex my house! Off with thee! Pack, I say, this instant, or the Amtmann shall crop thy ears, and put thee in the pillory, to teach such vagabonds, that run and leave their poor tender wives." This welcome from his once-loved helpmate was a sword's-thrust through the heart of the mettled Kurt; but the gall poured itself as a defence into his blood.

"O thou faithless strumpet!" answered he; "what holds me that I do not take thee and thy bastards, and wring your necks this moment? Dost thou recollect thy promise, and the oath thou hast so often sworn in the trustful marriage-bed, that death itself should not part thee from me? Didst thou not engage, unasked, that should thy soul fly up directly from thy mouth to Heaven, and I were roasting in Purgatory, thou wouldst turn again from Heaven's gate, and come down to me, to fan cool air upon me till I were delivered from the flames? Devil broil thy false tongue, thou gallows carrion!"

Though the Prima Donna of Ordruff was endowed with a glib organ, which, in the faculty of cursing, yielded no whit to that of the tumultuous pretender, she did not judge it good to enter into farther debate with him, but gave her menials an expressive sign; and, in an instant, man and maid seized hold of the mettled Kurt, and brevi manu ejected his body from the house; in which act of domestic jurisdiction Dame Rebecca herself bore a hand with the besom, and so swept away this discarded helpmate from the premises. The mettled Kurt, half-broken on the wheel, then mounted his horse, and dashed full gallop down the street, which he had rode along so gingerly some minutes before.

As his blood, when he was on the road home, began to cool, he counted loss and gain, and found himself not ill contented with the balance; for he found, that except the comfort of having cool air fanned upon his soul in Purgatory after death, his smart amounted to nothing. He never more returned to Ordruff, but continued with the Count at Gleichen all his life, and was an eye-witness of the most incredible occurrence, that two ladies shared[Pg 155] the love of one man without quarrelling or jealousy, and this even under one bed-tester! The fair Angelica continued childless, yet she loved and watched over her associate's children as if they had been her own, and divided with Ottilia the care of their education. In the trefoil of this happy marriage, she was the first leaf which faded away in the autumn of life. Countess Ottilia soon followed her; and the afflicted widower, now all too lonely in his large castle and wide bed, lingered but a few months longer. The firmly-established arrangement of these noble spouses in the marriage-bed through life, was maintained unaltered after their death. They rest all three in one grave, in front of the Gleichen Altar, in St. Peter's Church at Erfurt, on the Hill; where their place of sepulture is still to be seen, overlaid with a stone, on which the noble group are sculptured after the life. To the right lies the Countess Ottilia, with a mirror in her hand, the emblem of her praiseworthy prudence; on the left Angelica, adorned with a royal crown; and in the midst, the Count reposing on his coat-of-arms, the lion-leopard.[27] Their famous triple bedstead is still preserved as a relic in the old Castle; it stands in the room called the Junkernkammer, or Knight's Chamber; and a splinter of it, worn by way of busk in a lady's bodice, is said to have the virtue of dispelling every movement of jealousy from her heart.

[27] A plate of this tombstone may be seen in Falkenstein's Analecta Nordgaviensia.—M.

[Pg 159]



In a district of the Harz dwelt a Knight, whose common designation in that quarter was the Fair-haired Eckbert. He was about forty years of age, scarcely of middle stature, and short light-coloured locks lay close and sleek round his pale and sunken countenance. He led a retired life, had never interfered in the feuds of his neighbours; indeed, beyond the outer wall of his castle he was seldom to be seen. His wife loved solitude as much as he; both seemed heartily attached to one another; only now and then they would lament that Heaven had not blessed their marriage with children.

Few came to visit Eckbert; and when guests did happen to be with him, their presence made but little alteration in his customary way of life. Temperance abode in his household, and Frugality herself appeared to be the mistress of the entertainment. On these occasions Eckbert was always cheerful and lively; but when he was alone, you might observe in him a certain mild reserve, a still, retiring melancholy.

His most frequent guest was Philip Walther; a man to whom he had attached himself, from having found in him a way of thinking like his own. Walther's residence was in Franconia; but he would often stay for half a year in Eckbert's neighbourhood, gathering plants and minerals, and then sorting and arranging them. He lived on a small independency, and was connected with no one. Eckbert frequently attended him in his sequestered walks; year after year a closer friendship grew betwixt them.

[28] Prefatory Introduction to Tieck, suprà, at p. 330, Vol. VI. of Works (Vol. I. of Miscellanies).

[Pg 160]

There are hours in which a man feels grieved that he should have a secret from his friend, which, till then, he may have kept with niggard anxiety; some irresistible desire lays hold of our heart to open itself wholly, to disclose its inmost recesses to our friend, that so he may become our friend still more. It is in such moments that tender souls unveil themselves, and stand face to face; and at times it will happen, that the one recoils affrighted from the countenance of the other.

It was late in Autumn, when Eckbert, one cloudy evening, was sitting, with his friend and his wife Bertha, by the parlour fire. The flame cast a red glimmer through the room, and sported on the ceiling; the night looked sullenly in through the windows, and the trees without rustled in wet coldness. Walther complained of the long road he had to travel; and Eckbert proposed to him to stay where he was, to while away half of the night in friendly talk, and then to take a bed in the house till morning. Walther agreed, and the whole was speedily arranged: by and by wine and supper were brought in; fresh wood was laid upon the fire; the talk grew livelier and more confidential.

The cloth being removed, and the servants gone, Eckbert took his friend's hand, and said to him: "Now you must let my wife tell you the history of her youth; it is curious enough, and you should know it." "With all my heart," said Walther; and the party again drew round the hearth.

It was now midnight; the moon looked fitfully through the breaks of the driving clouds. "You must not reckon me a babbler," began the lady. "My husband says you have so generous a mind, that it is not right in us to hide aught from you. Only do not take my narrative for a fable, however strangely it may sound.

"I was born in a little village; my father was a poor herdsman. Our circumstances were not of the best; often we knew not where to find our daily bread. But what grieved me far more than this, were the quarrels which my father and mother often had about their poverty, and the bitter reproaches they cast on one another. Of myself too, I heard nothing said but ill; they were forever telling me that I was a silly stupid child, that I could not do the simplest turn of work; and in truth I was extremely inexpert and helpless; I let things fall; I neither learned to sew nor spin; I could be of no use to my parents; only their straits I understood too well. Often I would sit in a corner, and[Pg 161] fill my little heart with dreams, how I would help them, if I should all at once grow rich; how I would overflow them with silver and gold, and feast myself on their amazement; and then spirits came hovering up, and showed me buried treasures, or gave me little pebbles which changed into precious stones; in short, the strangest fancies occupied me, and when I had to rise and help with anything, my inexpertness was still greater, as my head was giddy with these motley visions.

"My father in particular was always very cross to me; he scolded me for being such a burden to the house; indeed he often used me rather cruelly, and it was very seldom that I got a friendly word from him. In this way I had struggled on to near the end of my eighth year; and now it was seriously fixed that I should begin to do or learn something. My father still maintained that it was nothing but caprice in me, or a lazy wish to pass my days in idleness: accordingly he set upon me with furious threats; and as these made no improvement, he one day gave me a most cruel chastisement, and added that the same should be repeated day after day, since I was nothing but a useless sluggard.

"That whole night I wept abundantly; I felt myself so utterly forsaken, I had such a sympathy with myself that I even longed to die. I dreaded the break of day; I knew not on earth what I was to do or try. I wished from my very heart to be clever, and could not understand how I should be worse than the other children of the place. I was on the borders of despair.

"At the dawn of day I arose, and scarcely knowing what I did, unfastened the door of our little hut. I stept upon the open field; next minute I was in a wood, where the light of the morning had yet hardly penetrated. I ran along, not looking round; for I felt no fatigue, and I still thought my father would catch me, and in his anger at my flight would beat me worse than ever.

"I had reached the other side of the forest, and the sun was risen a considerable way; I saw something dim lying before me, and a thick fog resting over it. Ere long my path began to mount, at one time I was climbing hills, at another winding among rocks; and I now guessed that I must be among the neighbouring Mountains; a thought that made me shudder in my loneliness. For, living in the plain country, I had never seen a hill; and the very word Mountains, when I heard talk of them, had been a sound of terror to my young ear. I had not the heart to go back, my fear itself drove me on; often I looked round affrighted when the[Pg 162] breezes rustled over me among the trees, or the stroke of some distant woodman sounded far through the still morning. And when I began to meet with charcoal-men and miners, and heard their foreign way of speech, I had nearly fainted for terror.

"I passed through several villages; begging now and then, for I felt hungry and thirsty; and fashioning my answers as I best could when questions were put to me. In this manner I had wandered on some four days, when I came upon a little footpath, which led me farther and farther from the highway. The rocks about me now assumed a different and far stranger form. They were cliffs so piled on one another, that it looked as if the first gust of wind would hurl them all this way and that. I knew not whether to go on or stop. Till now I had slept by night in the woods, for it was the finest season of the year, or in some remote shepherd's hut; but here I saw no human dwelling at all, and could not hope to find one in this wilderness; the crags grew more and more frightful; I had many a time to glide along by the very edge of dreadful abysses; by degrees my footpath became fainter, and at last all traces of it vanished from beneath me. I was utterly comfortless; I wept and screamed; and my voice came echoing back from the rocky valleys with a sound that terrified me. The night now came on, and I sought out a mossy nook to lie down in. I could not sleep; in the darkness I heard the strangest noises; sometimes I took them to proceed from wild-beasts, sometimes from wind moaning through the rocks, sometimes from unknown birds. I prayed; and did not sleep till towards morning.

"When the light came upon my face, I awoke. Before me was a steep rock; I clomb up, in the hope of discovering some outlet from the waste, perhaps of seeing houses or men. But when I reached the top, there was nothing still, so far as my eye could reach, but a wilderness of crags and precipices; all was covered with a dim haze; the day was gray and troubled, and no tree, no meadow, not even a bush could I find, only a few shrubs shooting up stunted and solitary in the narrow clefts of the rocks. I cannot utter what a longing I felt but to see one human creature, any living mortal, even though I had been afraid of hurt from him. At the same time I was tortured by a gnawing hunger; I sat down, and made up my mind to die. After a while, however, the desire of living gained the mastery; I roused myself, and wandered forward amid tears and broken sobs all day;[Pg 163] in the end, I hardly knew what I was doing; I was tired and spent; I scarcely wished to live, and yet I feared to die.

"Towards night the country seemed to grow a little kindlier; my thoughts, my desires revived, the wish for life awoke in all my veins. I thought I heard the rushing of a mill afar off; I redoubled my steps; and how glad, how light of heart was I, when at last I actually gained the limits of the barren rocks, and saw woods and meadows lying before me, with soft green hills in the distance! I felt as if I had stept out of hell into a paradise; my loneliness and helplessness no longer frightened me.

"Instead of the hoped-for mill, I came upon a waterfall, which, in truth, considerably damped my joy. I was lifting a drink from it in the hollow of my hand, when all at once I thought I heard a slight cough some little way from me. Never in my life was I so joyfully surprised as at this moment: I went near, and at the border of the wood I saw an old woman sitting resting on the ground. She was dressed almost wholly in black; a black hood covered her head, and the greater part of her face; in her hand she held a crutch.

"I came up to her, and begged for help; she made me sit by her, and gave me bread, and a little wine. While I ate, she sang in a screeching tone some kind of spiritual song. When she had done, she told me I might follow her.

"The offer charmed me, strange as the old woman's voice and look appeared. With her crutch she limped away pretty fast, and at every step she twisted her face so oddly, that at first I was like to laugh. The wild rocks retired behind us more and more: I never shall forget the aspect and the feeling of that evening. All things were as molten into the softest golden red; the trees were standing with their tops in the glow of the sunset; on the fields lay a mild brightness; the woods and the leaves of the trees were standing motionless; the pure sky looked out like an opened paradise, and the gushing of the brooks, and, from time to time, the rustling of the trees, resounded through the serene stillness, as in pensive joy. My young soul was here first taken with a forethought of the world and its vicissitudes. I forgot myself and my conductress; my spirit and my eyes were wandering among the shining clouds.

"We now mounted an eminence planted with birch-trees; from the top we looked into a green valley, likewise full of birches; and down below, in the middle of them, was a little hut. A glad[Pg 164] barking reached us, and immediately a little nimble dog came springing round the old woman, fawned on her, and wagged its tail; it next came to me, viewed me on all sides, and then turned back with a friendly look to its old mistress.

"On reaching the bottom of the hill, I heard the strangest song, as if coming from the hut, and sung by some bird. It ran thus:

Alone in wood so gay
'Tis good to stay,
Morrow like today,
Forever and aye:
O, I do love to stay
Alone in wood so gay.

"These few words were continually repeated, and to describe the sound, it was as if you heard forest-horns and shalms sounded together from a far distance.

"My curiosity was wonderfully on the stretch; without waiting for the old woman's orders, I stept into the hut. It was already dusk; here all was neatly swept and trimmed; some bowls were standing in a cupboard, some strange-looking casks or pots on a table; in a glittering cage, hanging by the window, was a bird, and this in fact proved to be the singer. The old woman coughed and panted: it seemed as if she never would get over her fatigue: she patted the little dog, she talked with the bird, which only answered her with its accustomed song; and for me, she did not seem to recollect that I was there at all. Looking at her so, many qualms and fears came over me; for her face was in perpetual motion; and, besides, her head shook from old age, so that, for my life, I could not understand what sort of countenance she had.

"Having gathered strength again, she lit a candle, covered a very small table, and brought out supper. She now looked round for me, and bade me take a little cane-chair. I was thus sitting close fronting her, with the light between us. She folded her bony hands, and prayed aloud, still twisting her countenance, so that I was once more on the point of laughing; but I took strict care that I might not make her angry.

"After supper she again prayed, then showed me a bed in a low narrow closet; she herself slept in the room. I did not watch long, for I was half stupefied; but in the night I now and then awoke, and heard the old woman coughing, and between whiles[Pg 165] talking with her dog and her bird, which last seemed dreaming, and replied with only one or two words of its rhyme. This, with the birches rustling before the window, and the song of a distant nightingale, made such a wondrous combination, that I never fairly thought I was awake, but only falling out of one dream into another still stranger.

"The old woman awoke me in the morning, and soon after gave me work. I was put to spin, which I now learned very easily; I had likewise to take charge of the dog and the bird. I soon learned my business in the house: I now felt as if it all must be so; I never once remembered that the old woman had so many singularities, that her dwelling was mysterious, and lay apart from all men, and that the bird must be a very strange creature. Its beauty, indeed, always struck me, for its feathers glittered with all possible colours; the fairest deep blue, and the most burning red, alternated about his neck and body; and when singing, he blew himself proudly out, so that his feathers looked still finer.

"My old mistress often went abroad, and did not come again till night; on these occasions I went out to meet her with the dog, and she used to call me child and daughter. In the end I grew to like her heartily; as our mind, especially in childhood, will become accustomed and attached to anything. In the evenings, she taught me to read; and this was afterwards a source of boundless satisfaction to me in my solitude, for she had several ancient-written books, that contained the strangest stories.

"The recollection of the life I then led is still singular to me: Visited by no human creature, secluded in the circle of so small a family; for the dog and the bird made the same impression on me which in other cases long-known friends produce. I am surprised that I have never since been able to recall the dog's name, a very odd one, often as I then pronounced it.

"Four years I had passed in this way (I must now have been nearly twelve), when my old dame began to put more trust in me, and at length told me a secret. The bird, I found, laid every day an egg, in which there was a pearl or a jewel. I had already noticed that she often went to fettle privately about the cage, but I had never troubled myself farther on the subject. She now gave me charge of gathering these eggs in her absence, and carefully storing them up in the strange-looking pots. She would leave me food, and sometimes stay away longer, for weeks, for months.[Pg 166] My little wheel kept humming round, the dog barked, the bird sang; and withal there was such a stillness in the neighbourhood, that I do not recollect of any storm or foul weather all the time I stayed there. No one wandered thither; no wild-beast came near our dwelling: I was satisfied, and worked along in peace from day to day. One would perhaps be very happy, could he pass his life so undisturbedly to the end.

"From the little that I read, I formed quite marvellous notions of the world and its people; all taken from myself and my society. When I read of witty persons, I could not figure them but like the little shock; great ladies, I conceived, were like the bird; all old women like my mistress. I had read somewhat of love, too; and often, in fancy, I would sport strange stories with myself. I figured out the fairest knight on Earth; adorned him with all perfections, without knowing rightly, after all my labour, how he looked: but I could feel a hearty pity for myself when he ceased to love me; I would then, in thought, make long melting speeches, or perhaps aloud, to try if I could win him back. You smile! These young days are, in truth, far away from us all.

"I now liked better to be left alone, for I was then sole mistress of the house. The dog loved me, and did all I wanted; the bird replied to all my questions with his rhyme; my wheel kept briskly turning, and at bottom I had never any wish for change. When my dame returned from her long wanderings, she would praise my diligence; she said her house, since I belonged to it, was managed far more perfectly; she took a pleasure in my growth and healthy looks; in short, she treated me in all points like her daughter.

"'Thou art a good girl, child,' said she once to me, in her creaking tone; 'if thou continuest so, it will be well with thee: but none ever prospers when he leaves the straight path; punishment will overtake him, though it may be late.' I gave little heed to this remark of hers at the time, for in all my temper and movements I was very lively; but by night it occurred to me again, and I could not understand what she meant by it. I considered all the words attentively; I had read of riches, and at last it struck me that her pearls and jewels might perhaps be something precious. Ere long this thought grew clearer to me. But the straight path, and leaving it? What could she mean by this?

"I was now fourteen; it is the misery of man that he arrives at understanding through the loss of innocence. I now saw well[Pg 167] enough that it lay with me to take the jewels and the bird in the old woman's absence, and go forth with them and see the world which I had read of. Perhaps, too, it would then be possible that I might meet that fairest of all knights, who forever dwelt in my memory.

"At first this thought was nothing more than any other thought; but when I used to be sitting at my wheel, it still returned to me, against my will; and I sometimes followed it so far, that I already saw myself adorned in splendid attire, with princes and knights around me. On awakening from these dreams, I would feel a sadness when I looked up, and found myself still in the little cottage. For the rest, if I went through my duties, the old woman troubled herself little about what I thought or felt.

"One day she went out again, telling me that she should be away on this occasion longer than usual; that I must take strict charge of everything, and not let the time hang heavy on my hands. I had a sort of fear on taking leave of her, for I felt as if I should not see her any more. I looked long after her, and knew not why I felt so sad; it was almost as if my purpose had already stood before me, without myself being conscious of it.

"Never did I tend the dog and the bird with such diligence as now; they were nearer to my heart than formerly. The old woman had been gone some days, when I rose one morning in the firm mind to leave the cottage, and set out with the bird to see this world they talked so much of. I felt pressed and hampered in my heart; I wished to stay where I was, and yet the thought of that afflicted me; there was a strange contention in my soul, as if between two discordant spirits. One moment my peaceful solitude would seem to me so beautiful; the next the image of a new world, with its many wonders, would again enchant me.

"I knew not what to make of it; the dog leaped up continually about me; the sunshine spread abroad over the fields; the green birch-trees glittered; I always felt as if I had something I must do in haste; so I caught the little dog, tied him up in the room, and took the cage with the bird under my arm. The dog writhed and whined at this unusual treatment; he looked at me with begging eyes, but I feared to have him with me. I also took one pot of jewels, and concealed it by me; the rest I left.

"The bird turned its head very strangely when I crossed the[Pg 168] threshold; the dog tugged at his cord to follow me, but he was forced to stay.

"I did not take the road to the wild rocks, but went in the opposite direction. The dog still whined and barked, and it touched me to the heart to hear him; the bird tried once or twice to sing; but as I was carrying him, the shaking put him out.

"The farther I went, the fainter grew the barking, and at last it altogether ceased. I wept, and had almost turned back, but the longing to see something new still hindered me.

"I had got across the hills, and through some forests, when the night came on, and I was forced to turn aside into a village. I blushed exceedingly on entering the inn; they showed me to a room and bed; I slept pretty quietly, only that I dreamed of the old woman, and her threatening me.

"My journey had not much variety; the farther I went, the more was I afflicted by the recollection of my old mistress and the little dog; I considered that in all likelihood the poor shock would die of hunger, and often in the woods I thought my dame would suddenly meet me. Thus amid tears and sobs I went along; when I stopped to rest, and put the cage on the ground, the bird struck up his song, and brought but too keenly to my mind the fair habitation I had left. As human nature is forgetful, I imagined that my former journey, in my childhood, had not been so sad and woful as the present; I wished to be as I was then.

"I had sold some jewels; and now, after wandering on for several days, I reached a village. At the very entrance I was struck with something strange; I felt terrified and knew not why; but I soon bethought myself, for it was the village where I was born! How amazed was I! How the tears ran down my cheeks for gladness, for a thousand singular remembrances! Many things were changed: new houses had been built, some just raised when I went away, were now fallen, and had marks of fire on them; everything was far smaller and more confined than I had fancied. It rejoiced my very heart that I should see my parents once more after such an absence. I found their little cottage, the well-known threshold; the door-latch was standing as of old; it seemed to me as if I had shut it only yesternight. My heart beat violently, I hastily lifted that latch; but faces I had never seen before looked up and gazed at me. I asked for the shepherd Martin; they told me that his wife and he were[Pg 169] dead three years ago. I drew back quickly, and left the village weeping aloud.

"I had figured out so beautifully how I would surprise them with my riches: by the strangest chance, what I had only dreamed in childhood was become reality; and now it was all in vain, they could not rejoice with me, and that which had been my first hope in life was lost forever.

"In a pleasant town I hired a small house and garden, and took to myself a maid. The world, in truth, proved not so wonderful as I had painted it: but I forgot the old woman and my former way of life rather more, and, on the whole, I was contented.

"For a long while the bird had ceased to sing; I was therefore not a little frightened, when one night he suddenly began again, and with a different rhyme. He sang:

Alone in wood so gay,
Ah, far away!
But thou wilt say
Some other day,
'Twere best to stay
Alone in wood so gay.

"Throughout the night I could not close an eye; all things again occurred to my remembrance; and I felt, more than ever, that I had not acted rightly. When I rose, the aspect of the bird distressed me greatly; he looked at me continually, and his presence did me ill. There was now no end to his song; he sang it louder and more shrilly than he had been wont. The more I looked at him, the more he pained and frightened me; at last I opened the cage, put in my hand, and grasped his neck; I squeezed my fingers hard together, he looked at me, I slackened them; but he was dead. I buried him in the garden.

"After this, there often came a fear over me for my maid; I looked back upon myself, and fancied she might rob me or murder me. For a long while I had been acquainted with a young knight, whom I altogether liked: I bestowed on him my hand; and with this, Sir Walther, ends my story."

"Ay, you should have seen her then," said Eckbert warmly; "seen her youth, her loveliness, and what a charm her lonely way of life had given her. I had no fortune; it was through her love these riches came to me; we moved hither, and our marriage has at no time brought us anything but good."

[Pg 170]

"But with our tattling," added Bertha, "it is growing very late; we must go to sleep."

She rose, and proceeded to her chamber; Walther, with a kiss of her hand, wished her good-night, saying: "Many thanks, noble lady; I can well figure you beside your singing bird, and how you fed poor little Strohmian."

Walther likewise went to sleep; Eckbert alone still walked in a restless humour up and down the room. "Are not men fools?" said he at last: "I myself occasioned this recital of my wife's history, and now such confidence appears to me improper! Will he not abuse it? Will he not communicate the secret to others? Will he not, for such is human nature, cast unblessed thoughts on our jewels, and form pretexts and lay plans to get possession of them?"

It now occurred to his mind that Walther had not taken leave of him so cordially as might have been expected after such a mark of trust: the soul once set upon suspicion finds in every trifle something to confirm it. Eckbert, on the other hand, reproached himself for such ignoble feelings to his worthy friend; yet still he could not cast them out. All night he plagued himself with such uneasy thoughts, and got very little sleep.

Bertha was unwell next day, and could not come to breakfast; Walther did not seem to trouble himself much about her illness, but left her husband also rather coolly. Eckbert could not comprehend such conduct; he went to see his wife, and found her in a feverish state; she said her last night's story must have agitated her.

From that day, Walther visited the castle of his friend but seldom; and when he did appear, it was but to say a few unmeaning words and then depart. Eckbert was exceedingly distressed by this demeanour: to Bertha or Walther he indeed said nothing of it; but to any person his internal disquietude was visible enough.

Bertha's sickness wore an aspect more and more serious; the Doctor grew alarmed; the red had vanished from his patient's cheeks, and her eyes were becoming more and more inflamed. One morning she sent for her husband to her bedside; the nurses were ordered to withdraw.

"Dear Eckbert," she began, "I must disclose a secret to thee, which has almost taken away my senses, which is ruining my health, unimportant trifle as it may appear. Thou mayest[Pg 171] remember, often as I talked of my childhood, I could never call to mind the name of the dog that was so long beside me: now, that night on taking leave, Walther all at once said to me: 'I can well figure you, and how you fed poor little Strohmian.' Is it chance? Did he guess the name; did he know it, and speak it on purpose? If so, how stands this man connected with my destiny? At times I struggle with myself, as if I but imagined this mysterious business; but, alas! it is certain, too certain. I felt a shudder that a stranger should help me to recall the memory of my secrets. What sayest thou, Eckbert?"

Eckbert looked at his sick and agitated wife with deep emotion; he stood silent and thoughtful; then spoke some words of comfort to her, and went out. In a distant chamber, he walked to and fro in indescribable disquiet. Walther, for many years, had been his sole companion; and now this person was the only mortal in the world whose existence pained and oppressed him. It seemed as if he should be gay and light of heart, were that one thing but removed. He took his bow, to dissipate these thoughts; and went to hunt.

It was a rough stormy winter-day; the snow was lying deep on the hills, and bending down the branches of the trees. He roved about; the sweat was standing on his brow; he found no game, and this embittered his ill-humour. All at once he saw an object moving in the distance; it was Walther gathering moss from the trunks of trees. Scarce knowing what he did, he bent his bow; Walther looked round, and gave a threatening gesture, but the arrow was already flying, and he sank transfixed by it.

Eckbert felt relieved and calmed, yet a certain horror drove him home to his castle. It was a good way distant; he had wandered far into the woods. On arriving, he found Bertha dead: before her death, she had spoken much of Walther and the old woman.

For a great while after this occurrence, Eckbert lived in the deepest solitude: he had all along been melancholy, for the strange history of his wife disturbed him, and he dreaded some unlucky incident or other; but at present he was utterly at variance with himself. The murder of his friend arose incessantly before his mind; he lived in the anguish of continual remorse.

To dissipate his feelings, he occasionally moved to the neighbouring town, where he mingled in society and its amusements. He longed for a friend to fill the void in his soul; and yet, when[Pg 172] he remembered Walther, he would shudder at the thought of meeting with a friend; for he felt convinced that, with any friend, he must be unhappy. He had lived so long with his Bertha in lovely calmness; the friendship of Walther had cheered him through so many years; and now both of them were suddenly swept away. As he thought of these things, there were many moments when his life appeared to him some fabulous tale, rather than the actual history of a living man.

A young knight, named Hugo, made advances to the silent melancholy Eckbert, and appeared to have a true affection for him. Eckbert felt himself exceedingly surprised; he met the knight's friendship with the greater readiness, the less he had anticipated it. The two were now frequently together; Hugo showed his friend all possible attentions; one scarcely ever went to ride without the other; in all companies they got together. In a word, they seemed inseparable.

Eckbert was never happy longer than a few transitory moments: for he felt too clearly that Hugo loved him only by mistake; that he knew him not, was unacquainted with his history; and he was seized again with the same old longing to unbosom himself wholly, that he might be sure whether Hugo was his friend or not. But again his apprehensions, and the fear of being hated and abhorred, withheld him. There were many hours in which he felt so much impressed with his entire worthlessness, that he believed no mortal not a stranger to his history, could entertain regard for him. Yet still he was unable to withstand himself: on a solitary ride, he disclosed his whole history to Hugo, and asked if he could love a murderer. Hugo seemed touched, and tried to comfort him. Eckbert returned to town with a lighter heart.

But it seemed to be his doom that, in the very hour of confidence, he should always find materials for suspicion. Scarcely had they entered the public hall, when, in the glitter of the many lights, Hugo's looks had ceased to satisfy him. He thought he noticed a malicious smile; he remarked that Hugo did not speak to him as usual; that he talked with the rest, and seemed to pay no heed to him. In the party was an old knight, who had always shown himself the enemy of Eckbert, had often asked about his riches and his wife in a peculiar style. With this man Hugo was conversing; they were speaking privately, and casting looks at Eckbert. The suspicions of the latter seemed confirmed; he[Pg 173] thought himself betrayed, and a tremendous rage took hold of him. As he continued gazing, on a sudden he discerned the countenance of Walther, all his features, all the form so well known to him; he gazed, and looked, and felt convinced that it was none but Walther who was talking to the knight. His horror cannot be described; in a state of frenzy he rushed out of the hall, left the town overnight, and after many wanderings, returned to his castle.

Here, like an unquiet spirit, he hurried to and fro from room to room; no thought would stay with him; out of one frightful idea he fell into another still more frightful, and sleep never visited his eyes. Often he believed that he was mad, that a disturbed imagination was the origin of all this terror; then, again, he recollected Walther's features, and the whole grew more and more a riddle to him. He resolved to take a journey, that he might reduce his thoughts to order; the hope of friendship, the desire of social intercourse, he had now forever given up.

He set out, without prescribing to himself any certain route; indeed, he took small heed of the country he was passing through. Having hastened on some days at the quickest pace of his horse, he, on a sudden, found himself entangled in a labyrinth of rocks, from which he could discover no outlet. At length he met an old peasant, who took him by a path leading past a waterfall: he offered him some coins for his guidance, but the peasant would not have them. "What use is it?" said Eckbert. "I could believe that this man, too, was none but Walther." He looked round once more, and it was none but Walther. Eckbert spurred his horse as fast as it could gallop, over meads and forests, till it sank exhausted to the earth. Regardless of this, he hastened forward on foot.

In a dreamy mood he mounted a hill: he fancied he caught the sound of lively barking at a little distance; the birch-trees whispered in the intervals, and in the strangest notes he heard this song:

Alone in wood so gay,
Once more I stay;
None dare me slay,
The evil far away:
Ah, here I stay,
Alone in wood so gay.

The sense, the consciousness of Eckbert had departed; it was[Pg 174] a riddle which he could not solve, whether he was dreaming now, or had before dreamed of a wife and friend. The marvellous was mingled with the common: the world around him seemed enchanted, and he himself was incapable of thought or recollection.

A crooked, bent old woman, crawled coughing up the hill with a crutch. "Art thou bringing me my bird, my pearls, my dog?" cried she to him. "See how injustice punishes itself! No one but I was Walther, was Hugo."

"God of Heaven!" said Eckbert, muttering to himself; "in what frightful solitude have I passed my life?"

"And Bertha was thy sister."

Eckbert sank to the ground.

"Why did she leave me deceitfully? All would have been fair and well; her time of trial was already finished. She was the daughter of a knight, who had her nursed in a shepherd's house; the daughter of thy father."

"Why have I always had a forecast of this dreadful thought?" cried Eckbert.

"Because in early youth thy father told thee: he could not keep this daughter by him for his second wife, her stepmother."

Eckbert lay distracted and dying on the ground. Faint and bewildered, he heard the old woman speaking, the dog barking, the bird repeating its song.

[Pg 175]


Brave Burgundy no longer
Could fight for fatherland;
The foe they were the stronger,
Upon the bloody sand.
He said: "The foe prevaileth,
My friends and followers fly,
My striving naught availeth,
My spirits sink and die.
No more can I exert me,
Or sword and lance can wield;
O, why did he desert me,
Eckart, our trusty shield!
In fight he used to guide me,
In danger was my stay;
Alas, he's not beside me,
But stays at home today!
The crowds are gathering faster,
Took captive shall I be?
I may not run like dastard,
I'll die like soldier free."
Thus Burgundy so bitter,
Has at his breast his sword;
When, see, breaks-in the Ritter
Eckart, to save his lord!
With cap and armour glancing,
Bold on the foe he rides,
His troop behind him prancing,
And his two sons besides.
Burgundy sees their token,
And cries: "Now, God be praised!
Not yet we're beat or broken,
Since Eckart's flag is raised."[Pg 176]
Then like a true knight, Eckart
Dash'd gaily through the foe:
But with his red blood flecker'd,
His little son lay low.
And when the fight was ended,
Then Burgundy he speaks:
"Thou hast me well befriended,
Yet so as wets my cheeks.
The foe is smote and flying;
Thou'st saved my land and life;
But here thy boy is lying,
Returns not from the strife."
Then Eckart wept almost,
The tear stood in his eye;
He clasp'd the son he'd lost,
Close to his breast the boy.
"Why diedst thou, Heinz, so early,
And scarce wast yet a man?
Thou'rt fallen in battle fairly;
For thee I'll not complain.
Thee, Prince, we have deliver'd;
From danger thou art free:
The boy and I are sever'd;
I give my son to thee."
Then Burgundy our chief,
His eyes grew moist and dim;
He felt such joy and grief,
So great that love to him.
His heart was melting, flaming,
He fell on Eckart's breast,
With sobbing voice exclaiming:
"Eckart, my champion best,
Thou stoodst when every other
Had fled from me away;
Therefore thou art my brother
Forever from this day.
The people shall regard thee
As wert thou of my line;
And could I more reward thee,
How gladly were it thine!"
And when we heard the same,
We joy'd as did our prince;
And Trusty Eckart is the name
We've call'd him ever since.
[Pg 177]

The voice of an old peasant sounded over the rocks, as he sang this ballad; and the Trusty Eckart sat in his grief, on the declivity of the hill, and wept aloud. His youngest boy was standing by him: "Why weepest thou aloud, my father Eckart?" said he: "Art thou not great and strong, taller and braver than any other man? Whom, then, art thou afraid of?"

Meanwhile the Duke of Burgundy was moving homewards to his Tower. Burgundy was mounted on a stately horse, with splendid trappings; and the gold and jewels of the princely Duke were glittering in the evening sun; so that little Conrad could not sate himself with viewing and admiring the magnificent procession. The Trusty Eckart rose, and looked gloomily over it; and young Conrad, when the hunting train had disappeared, struck up this stave:

On good steed,
Sword and shield
Wouldst thou wield,
With spear and arrow;
Then had need
That the marrow
In thy arm,
That thy heart and blood,
Be good,
To save thy head from harm.

The old man clasped his son to his bosom, looking with wistful tenderness on his clear blue eyes. "Didst thou hear that good man's song?" said he.

"Ay, why not?" answered Conrad: "he sang it loud enough, and thou art the Trusty Eckart thyself, so I liked to listen."

"That same Duke is now my enemy," said Eckart; "he keeps my other son in prison, nay has already put him to death, if I may credit what the people say."

"Take down thy broad-sword, and do not suffer it," cried Conrad; "they will tremble to see thee, and all the people in the whole land will stand by thee, for thou art their greatest hero in the land."

"Not so, my son," said the other; "I were then the man my enemies have called me; I dare not be unfaithful to my liege; no, I dare not break the peace which I have pledged to him, and promised on his hand."

"But what wants he with us, then?" said Conrad, impatiently.

[Pg 178]

Eckart sat down again, and said: "My son, the entire story of it would be long, and thou wouldst scarcely understand it. The great have always their worst enemy in their own hearts, and they fear it day and night; so Burgundy has now come to think that he has trusted me too far; that he has nursed in me a serpent in his bosom. People call me the stoutest warrior in our country; they say openly that he owes me land and life; I am named the Trusty Eckart; and thus oppressed and suffering persons turn to me, that I may get them help. All this he cannot suffer. So he has taken up a grudge against me; and every one that wants to rise in favour with him increases his distrust; so that at last he has quite turned away his heart from me."

Hereupon the hero Eckart told, in smooth words, how Burgundy had banished him from his sight, how they had become entire strangers to each other, as the Duke suspected that he even meant to rob him of his dukedom. In trouble and sorrow, he proceeded to relate how the Duke had cast his son into confinement, and was threatening the life of Eckart himself, as of a traitor to the land.

But Conrad said to his father: "Wilt thou let me go, my old father, and speak with the Duke, to make him reasonable and kind to thee? If he has killed my brother, then he is a wicked man, and thou must punish him; but that cannot be, for he could not so falsely forget the great service thou hast done him."

"Dost thou know the old proverb?" said Eckart:

"Doth the king require thy aid,
Thou'rt a friend can ne'er be paid;
Hast thou help'd him through his trouble
Friendship's grown an empty bubble.

Yes; my whole life has been wasted in vain. Why did he make me great, to cast me down the deeper? The friendship of princes is like a deadly poison, which can only be employed against our enemies, and with which at last we unwarily kill ourselves."

"I will to the Duke," cried Conrad: "I will call back into his soul all that thou hast done, that thou hast suffered for him; and he will again be as of old."

"Thou hast forgot," said Eckart, "that they look on us as traitors. Therefore let us fly together to some foreign country, where a better fortune may betide us."

"At thy age," said Conrad, "wilt thou turn away thy face from thy kind home? I will to Burgundy; I will quiet him, and[Pg 179] reconcile him to thee. What can he do to me, even though he still hate and fear thee?"

"I let thee go unwillingly," said Eckart; "for my soul forebodes no good; and yet I would fain be reconciled to him, for he is my old friend; and fain save thy brother, who is pining in the dungeon beside him."

The sun threw his last mild rays on the green Earth: Eckart sat pensively leaning back against a tree; he looked long at Conrad, then said: "If thou wilt go, my little boy, go now, before the night grow altogether dark. The windows in the Duke's Castle are already glittering with lights, and I hear afar off the sound of trumpets from the feast; perhaps his son's bride may have arrived, and his mind may be friendlier to us."

Unwillingly he let him go, for he no longer trusted to his fortune: but Conrad's heart was light; for he thought it would be an easy task to turn the mind of Burgundy, who had played with him so kindly but a short while before. "Wilt thou come back to me, my little boy?" sobbed Eckart: "if I lose thee, no other of my race remains." The boy consoled him; flattered him with caresses: at last they parted.

Conrad knocked at the gate of the Castle, and was let in; old Eckart stayed without in the night alone. "Him too have I lost," moaned he in his solitude; "I shall never see his face again."

Whilst he so lamented, there came tottering towards him a gray-haired man; endeavouring to get down the rocks; and seeming, at every step, to fear that he should stumble into the abyss. Seeing the old man's feebleness, Eckart held out his hand to him, and helped him to descend in safety.

"Which way come ye?" inquired Eckart.

The old man sat down, and began to weep, so that the tears came running over his cheeks. Eckart tried to soothe him and console him with reasonable words; but the sorrowful old man seemed not at all to heed these well-meant speeches, but to yield himself the more immoderately to his sorrows.

"What grief can it be that lies so heavy on you as to overpower you utterly?" said Eckart.

"Ah, my children!" moaned the old man.

Then Eckart thought of Conrad, Heinz and Dietrich, and was himself altogether comfortless. "Yes," said he, "if your children are dead, your misery in truth is very great."

[Pg 180]

"Worse than dead," replied the old man, with his mournful voice; "for they are not dead, but lost forever to me. O, would to Heaven that they were but dead!"

These strange words astonished Eckart, and he asked the old man to explain the riddle; whereupon the latter answered: "The age we live in is indeed a marvellous age, and surely the last days are at hand; for the most dreadful signs are sent into the world, to threaten it. Every sort of wickedness is casting off its old fetters, and stalking bold and free about the Earth; the fear of God is drying up and dispersing, and can find no channel to unite in; and the Powers of Evil are rising audaciously from their dark nooks, and celebrating their triumph. Ah, my dear sir! we are old, but not old enough for such prodigious things. You have doubtless seen the Comet, that wondrous light in the sky, that shines so prophetically down upon us? All men predict evil; and no one thinks of beginning the reform with himself, and so essaying to turn off the rod. Nor is this enough; but portents are also issuing from the Earth, and breaking mysteriously from the depths below, even as the light shines frightfully on us from above. Have you never heard of the Hill, which people call the Hill of Venus?"

"Never," said Eckart, "far as I have travelled."

"I am surprised at that," replied the old man; "for the matter is now grown as notorious as it is true. To this Mountain have the Devils fled, and sought shelter in the desert centre of the Earth, according as the growth of our Holy Faith has cast down the idolatrous worship of the Heathen. Here, they say, before all others, Lady Venus keeps her court, and all her hellish hosts of worldly Lusts and forbidden Wishes gather round her, so that the Hill has been accursed since time immemorial."

"But in what country lies the Hill?" inquired Eckart.

"There is the secret," said the old man, "that no one can tell this, except he have first given himself up to be Satan's servant; and, indeed, no guiltless person ever thinks of seeking it out. A wonderful Musician on a sudden issues from below, whom the Powers of Hell have sent as their ambassador; he roams through the world, and plays, and makes music on a pipe, so that his tones sound far and wide. And whoever hears these sounds is seized by him with visible yet inexplicable force, and drawn on, on, into the wilderness; he sees not the road he travels; he wanders, and wanders, and is not weary; his strength[Pg 181] and his speed go on increasing; no power can restrain him; but he runs frantic into the Mountain, from which he can nevermore return. This power has, in our day, been restored to Hell; and in this inverse direction, the ill-starred, perverted pilgrims are travelling to a Shrine where no deliverance awaits them, or can reach them any more. For a long while, my two sons had given me no contentment; they were dissolute and immoral; they despised their parents, as they did religion; but now the Sound has caught and carried them off, they are gone into unseen kingdoms; the world was too narrow for them, they are seeking room in Hell."

"And what do you intend to do in such a mystery?" said Eckart.

"With this crutch I set out," replied the old man, "to wander through the world, to find them again, or die of weariness and woe."

So saying, he tore himself from his rest with a strong effort; and hastened forth with his utmost speed, as if he had found himself neglecting his most precious earthly hope; and Eckart looked with compassion on his vain toil, and rated him in his thoughts as mad.

It had been night, and was now day, and Conrad came not back. Eckart wandered to and fro among the rocks, and turned his longing eyes on the Castle; still he did not see him. A crowd came issuing through the gate; and Eckart no longer heeded to conceal himself; but mounted his horse, which was grazing in freedom; and rode into the middle of the troop, who were now proceeding merrily and carelessly across the plain. On his reaching them, they recognised him; but no one laid a hand on him, or said a hard word to him; they stood mute for reverence, surrounded him in admiration, and then went their way. One of the squires he called back, and asked him: "Where is my Conrad?"

"O! ask me not," replied the squire; "it would but cause you sorrow and lamenting."

"And Dietrich!" cried the father.

"Name not their names any more," said the aged squire, "for they are gone; the wrath of our master was kindled against them, and he meant to punish you in them."

A hot rage mounted up in Eckart's soul; and, for sorrow and fury, he was no longer master of himself. He dashed the spurs into his horse, and rode through the Castle-gate. All drew back,[Pg 182] with timid reverence, from his way; and thus he rode on to the front of the Palace. He sprang from horseback, and mounted the great steps with wavering pace. "Am I here in the dwelling of the man," said he, within himself, "who was once my friend?" He endeavoured to collect his thoughts; but wilder and wilder images kept moving in his eye, and thus he stept into the Prince's chamber.

Burgundy's presence of mind forsook him, and he trembled as Eckart stood in his presence. "Art thou the Duke of Burgundy?" said Eckart to him. To which the Duke answered, "Yes."

"And thou hast killed my son Dietrich?" The Duke said, "Yes."

"And my little Conrad too," cried Eckart, in his grief, "was not too good for thee, and thou hast killed him also?" To which the Duke again answered, "Yes."

Here Eckart was unmanned, and said, in tears: "O! answer me not so, Burgundy; for I cannot bear these speeches. Tell me but that thou art sorry, that thou wishest it were yet undone, and I will try to comfort myself; but thus thou art utterly offensive to my heart."

The Duke said: "Depart from my sight, false traitor; for thou art the worst enemy I have on Earth."

Eckart said: "Thou hast of old called me thy friend; but these thoughts are now far from thee. Never did I act against thee; still have I honoured and loved thee as my prince; and God forbid that I should now, as I well might, lay my hand upon my sword, and seek revenge of thee. No, I will depart from thy sight, and die in solitude."

So saying, he went out; and Burgundy was moved in his mind; but at his call, the guards appeared with their lances, who encircled him on all sides, and motioned to drive Eckart from the chamber with their weapons.

To horse the hero springs,
Wild through the hills he rideth:
"Of hope in earthly things,
Now none with me abideth.
My sons are slain in youth,
I have no child or wife;
The Prince suspects my truth,
Has sworn to take my life."[Pg 183]
Then to the wood he turns him,
There gallops on and on;
The smart of sorrow burns him,
He cries: "They're gone, they're gone
All living men from me are fled,
New friends I must provide me,
To the oaks and firs beside me,
Complain in desert dead.
There is no child to cheer me,
By cruel wolves they're slain;
Once three of them were near me,
I see them not again."
As Eckart cried thus sadly,
His sense it pass'd away;
He rides in fury madly
Till dawning of the day.
His horse in frantic speed
Sinks down at last exhausted;
And naught does Eckart heed,
Or think or know what caused it;
But on the cold ground lie,
Not fearing, loving longer;
Despair grows strong and stronger,
He wishes but to die.

No one about the Castle knew whither Eckart had gone; for he had lost himself in the waste forests, and let no man see him. The Duke dreaded his intentions; and he now repented that he had let him go, and not laid hold of him. So, one morning, he set forth with a great train of hunters and attendants, to search the woods, and find out Eckart; for he thought, that till Eckart were destroyed, there could be no security. All were unwearied, and regardless of toil; but the sun set without their having found a trace of Eckart.

A storm came on, and great clouds flew blustering over the forest; the thunder rolled, and lightning struck the tall oaks: all present were seized with an unquiet terror, and they gradually dispersed among the bushes, or the open spaces of the wood. The Duke's horse plunged into the thicket; his squires could not follow him: the gallant horse rushed to the ground; and Burgundy in vain called through the tempest to his servants; for there was no one that could hear him.

Like a wild man had Eckart roamed about the woods, unconscious of himself or his misfortunes; he had lost all thought, and in blank stupefaction satisfied his hunger with roots and herbs:[Pg 184] the hero could not now be recognised by any one, so sore had the days of his despair defaced him. As the storm came on, he awoke from his stupefaction, and again felt his existence and his woes, and saw the misery that had befallen him. He raised a loud cry of lamentation for his children; he tore his white hair; and called out, in the bellowing of the storm: "Whither, whither are ye gone, ye parts of my heart? And how is all strength departed from me, that I could not even avenge your death? Why did I hold back my arm, and did not send to death him who had given my heart these deadly stabs? Ha, fool, thou deservest that the tyrant should mock thee, since thy powerless arm and thy silly heart withstood not the murderer. Now, O now were he with me! But it is in vain to wish for vengeance, when the moment is gone by."

Thus came on the night, and Eckart wandered to and fro in his sorrow. From a distance he heard as it were a voice calling for help. Directing his steps by the sound, he came up to a man in the darkness, who was leaning on the stem of a tree, and mournfully entreating to be guided to his road. Eckart started at the voice, for it seemed familiar to him; but he soon recovered, and perceived that the lost wayfarer was the Duke of Burgundy. Then he raised his hand to his sword, to cut down the man who had been the murderer of his children; his fury came on him with new force, and he was upon the point of finishing his bloody task, when all at once he stopped, for his oath and the word he had pledged came into his mind. He took his enemy's hand, and led him to the quarter where he thought the road must be.

The Duke foredone and weary
Sank in the wilder'd breaks;
Him in the tempest dreary
He on his shoulders takes.
Said Burgundy: "I'm giving
Much toil to thee, I fear."
Eckart replied: "The living
On Earth have much to bear."
"Yet," said the Duke, "believe me,
Were we out of the wood,
Since now thou dost relieve me,
Thy sorrows I'll make good."
The hero at this promise
Felt on his cheek the tear;
Said he: "Indeed I nowise
Do look for payment here."[Pg 185]
"Harder our plight is growing,"
The Duke cries, dreading scath,
"Now whither are we going?
Who art thou? Art thou Death?"
"Not Death," said he, still weeping,
"Or any fiend am I;
Thy life is in God's keeping,
Thy ways are in his eye."
"Ah," said the Duke, repenting,
"My breast is foul within;
I tremble, while lamenting,
Lest God requite my sin.
My truest friend I've banish'd,
His children have I slain,
In wrath from me he vanish'd,
As foe he comes again.
To me he was devoted,
Through good report and bad;
My rights he still promoted,
The truest man I had.
Me he can never pardon,
I kill'd his children dear;
This night to pay my guerdon,
I' th' wood he lurks, I fear.
This does my conscience teach me,
A threat'ning voice within;
If here to-night he reach me,
I die a child of sin."
Said Eckart: "The beginning
Of our woes is guilt;
My grief is for thy sinning,
And for the blood thou'st spilt.
And that the man will meet thee
Is likewise surely true;
Yet fear not, I entreat thee,
He'll harm no hair of you."

Thus were they going forward talking, when another person in the forest met them; it was Wolfram, the Duke's Squire, who had long been looking for his master. The dark night was still lying over them, and no star twinkled from between the wet black clouds. The Duke felt weaker, and longed to reach some lodging, where he might sleep till day; besides, he was afraid that he might meet with Eckart, who stood like a spectre before his soul. He imagined he should never see the morning; and shuddered anew when the wind again rustled through the high trees, and the storm[Pg 186] came down from the hollows of the mountains, and went rushing over his head. "Wolfram," cried the Duke, in his anguish, "climb one of these tall pines, and look about if thou canst spy no light, no house or cottage, whither we may turn."

The Squire, at the hazard of his life, clomb up a lofty pine, which the storm was waving from the one side to the other, and ever and anon bending down the top of it to the very ground; so that the Squire wavered to and fro upon it like a little squirrel. At last he reached the top, and cried: "Down there, in the valley, I see the glimmer of a candle; thither must we turn." So he descended and showed the way; and in a while, they all perceived the cheerful light; at which the Duke once more took heart. Eckart still continued mute, and occupied within himself; he spoke no word, and looked at his inward thoughts. On arriving at the hut, they knocked; and a little old housewife let them in: as they entered, the stout Eckart set the Duke down from his shoulders, who threw himself immediately upon his knees, and in a fervent prayer thanked God for his deliverance. Eckart took his seat in a dark corner; and there he found fast asleep the poor old man, who had lately told him of his great misery about his sons, and the search he was making for them.

When the Duke had done praying, he said: "Very strange have my thoughts been this night, and the goodness of God and his almighty power never showed themselves so openly before to my obdurate heart: my mind also tells me that I have not long to live; and I desire nothing save that God would pardon me my manifold and heavy sins. You two, also, who have led me hither, I could wish to recompense, so far as in my power, before my end arrive. To thee, Wolfram, I give both the castles that are on these hills beside us; and in future, in remembrance of this awful night, thou shalt call them the Tannenhäuser, or Pine-houses. But who art thou, strange man," continued he, "that hast placed thyself there in the nook, apart? Come forth, that I may also pay thee for thy toil."

Then rose the hero from his place,
And stept into the light before them;
Deep lines of woe were on his face,
But with a patient mind he bore them.
And Burgundy, his heart forsook him,
To see that mild old gray-hair'd man;
His face grew pale, a trembling took him,
He swoon'd and sank to earth again.[Pg 187]
"O, saints of heaven," he wakes and cries,
"Is't thou that art before my eyes?
How shall I fly? Where shall I hide me?
Was't thou that in the wood didst guide me?
I kill'd thy children young and fair,
Me in thy arms how couldst thou bear?"
Thus Burgundy goes on to wail,
And feels the heart within him fail;
Death is at hand, remorse pursues him,
With streaming eyes he sinks on Eckart's bosom;
And Eckart whispers to him low:
"Henceforth I have forgot the slight,
So thou and all the world may know,
Eckart was still thy trusty knight."

Thus passed the hours till morning, when some other servants of the Duke arrived, and found their dying master. They laid him on a mule, and took him back to his castle. Eckart he could not suffer from his side; he would often take his hand and press it to his breast, and look at him with an imploring look. Then Eckart would embrace him, and speak a few kind words to him, and so the Prince would feel composed. At last he summoned all his Council, and declared to them that he appointed Eckart, the trusty man, to be guardian of his sons, seeing he had proved himself the noblest of all. And thus he died.

Thenceforward Eckart took on him the government with all zeal; and every person in the land admired his high manly spirit. Not long afterwards a rumour spread abroad in all quarters, of a strange Musician, who had come from Venus-Hill, who was travelling through the whole land, and seducing men with his playing, so that they disappeared, and no one could find any traces of them. Many credited the story, others not; Eckart recollected the unhappy old man.

"I have taken you for my sons," said he to the young Princes, as he once stood with them on the hill before the Castle; "your happiness must now be my posterity; when dead, I shall still live in your joy." They lay down on the slope, from which the fair country was visible for many a league; and here Eckart had to guard himself from speaking of his children; for they seemed as if coming towards him from the distant mountains, while he heard afar off a lovely sound.

"Comes it not like dreams
Stealing o'er the vales and streams?
Out of regions far from this,
Like the song of souls in bliss?"[Pg 188]
This to the youths did Eckart say,
And caught the sound from far away;
And as the magic tones came nigher,
A wicked strange desire
Awakens in the breasts of these pure boys,
That drives them forth to seek for unknown joys.
"Come, let's to the fields, to the meadows and mountains,
The forests invite us, the streams and the fountains;
Soft voices in secret for loitering chide us,
Away to the Garden of Pleasure they'll guide us."
The Player comes in foreign guise,
Appears before their wondering eyes;
And higher swells the music's sound,
And brighter glows the emerald ground;
The flowers appear as drunk,
Twilight red has on them sunk;
And through the green grass play, with airy lightness,
Soft, fitful, blue and golden streaks of brightness.
Like a shadow, melts and flits away
All that bound men to this world of clay;
In Earth all toil and tumult cease,
Like one bright flower it blooms in peace;
The mountains rock in purple light,
The valleys shout as with delight;
All rush and whirl in the music's noise,
And long to share of these offer'd joys;
The soul of man is allured to gladness,
And lies entranced in that blissful madness.
The Trusty Eckart felt it,
But wist not of the cause;
His heart the music melted,
He wondered what it was.
The world seems new and fairer,
All blooming like the rose;
Can Eckart be a sharer
In raptures such as those?
"Ha! Are those tones restoring
My wife and bonny sons?
All that I was deploring,
My lost beloved ones?"
Yet soon his sense collected
Brought doubt within his breast;
These hellish arts detected,
A horror him possessed.
And now he sees the raging
Of his young princes dear;
Themselves to Hell engaging,
His voice no more they hear.[Pg 189]
And forth, in wild commotion,
They rush, not knowing where;
In tumult like the ocean,
When mad his billows are.
Then, as these things assail'd him,
He wist not what to do;
His knighthood almost fail'd him
Amid that hellish crew.
Then to his soul appeareth
The hour the Duke did die;
His friend's faint prayer he heareth,
He sees his fading eye.
And so his mind's in armour,
And hope is conquering fear;
When see, the fiendish Charmer
Himself comes piping near!
His sword to draw he essayeth,
And smite the caitiff dead;
But as the music playeth,
His strength is from him fled.
And from the mountains issue
Crowds of distorted forms,
Of Dwarfs a boundless tissue
Come simmering round in swarms.
The youths, possess'd, are running
As frantic in the crowd:
In vain is force or cunning;
In vain to call aloud.
And hurries on by castle,
By tower and town, the rout;
Like imps in hellish wassail,
With cackling laugh and shout.
He too is in the rabble;
May not resist their force,
Must hear their deafening babble,
Attend their frantic course.
But now the Hill appeareth,
And music comes thereout;
And as the Phantoms hear it,
They halt, and raise a shout.
The Mountain starts asunder,
A motley crowd is seen;
This way and that they wander,
In red unearthly sheen.[Pg 190]
Then his broad-sword he drew it,
And says: "Still true, though lost!"
And with mad force he heweth
Through that Infernal host.
His youths he sees (how gladly!)
Escaping through the vale;
The Fiends are fighting madly,
And threatening to prevail.
The Dwarfs, when hurt, fly downward,
And rise up cured again;
And other crowds rush onward,
And fight with might and main.
Then saw he from a distance
The children safe, and cried:
"They need not my assistance,
I care not what betide."
His good broad-sword doth glitter
And flash i' th' noontide ray;
The Dwarfs, with wailing bitter,
And howls, depart away.
Safe at the valley's ending,
The youths far off he spies;
Then faint and wounded, bending,
The hero falls and dies.
So his last hour o'ertook him,
Fighting like lion brave;
His truth, it ne'er forsook him,
He was faithful to the grave.
Now Eckart having perish'd,
The eldest son bore sway;
His memory still he cherish'd,
With grateful heart would say:
"From foes and wreck to save me,
Like lion grim he fought;
My throne, my life, he gave me,
And with his heart's blood bought."
And soon a wondrous rumour
The country round did fill,
That when a desp'rate humour
Doth send one to the Hill,
There straight a Shape will meet him,
The Trusty Eckart's ghost,
And wistfully entreat him
To turn, and not be lost.
There he, though dead, yet ever
True watch and ward doth hold;
Upon the Earth shall never
Be man so true and bold.
[Pg 191]


More than four centuries had elapsed since the Trusty Eckart's death, when a noble Tannenhäuser, in the station of Imperial Counsellor, was living at Court in the highest estimation. The son of this knight surpassed in beauty all the other nobles of the land, and on this account was loved and prized by every one. Suddenly, however, after some mysterious incidents had been observed to happen to him, the young man disappeared; and no one knew or guessed what was become of him. Since the times of the Trusty Eckart, there had always been a story current in the land about the Venus-Hill; and many said that he had wandered thither, and was lost forever.

One of those that most lamented him was his young friend Friedrich von Wolfsburg. They had grown up together, and their mutual attachment seemed to each of them to have become a necessary of life. Tannenhäuser's old father died: Friedrich married some years afterwards; already was a ring of merry children round him, and still he heard no tidings of his youthful friend; so that, in the end, he was forced to conclude him dead.

He was standing one evening under the gate of his Castle, when he perceived afar off a pilgrim travelling towards the mansion. The wayfaring man was clad in a strange garb; and his gait and gestures the Knight thought extremely singular. On his approaching nearer, Wolfsburg thought that he knew him; and at last he became convinced that the stranger was no other than his long-lost friend, the Tannenhäuser. He felt amazed, and a secret horror took possession of him, as he recognised distinctly these much-altered features.

The two friends embraced; then started back next moment; and gazed astonished at each other as at unknown beings. Of questions, of perplexed replies, were many. Friedrich often shuddered at the wild look of his friend, which seemed to burn as with unearthly light. The Tannenhäuser had reposed himself a day or two, when Friedrich learned that he was on a pilgrimage to Rome.

The two friends by and by renewed their former intimacy; took up their old topics, and told stories to each other of their youth; but the Tannenhäuser always carefully concealed where he had been since then. Friedrich, however, pressed him to[Pg 192] disclose it, now that they were once more on their ancient confidential footing: the other long endeavoured to ward off the friendly prayer; but at last he exclaimed: "Well, be it so; thy will be done! Thou shalt know all; but cast no reproaches on me after, should the story fill thee with inquietude and horror."

They went into the open air, and walked a little in a green wood of the pleasure-grounds, where at last they sat down; and now the Tannenhäuser hid his face among the grass, and, with loud sobs, held back his right hand to his friend, who pressed it tenderly in his. The woe-worn pilgrim raised himself, and began his story in the following words:

"Believe me, Wolfsburg, many a man has, at his birth, an Evil Spirit linked to him, that vexes him through life, and never lets him rest, till he has reached his black destination. So has it been with me; my whole existence has been but a continuing birth-pain, and my awakening will be in Hell. For this have I already wandered so many weary steps, and have so many yet before me on the pilgrimage which I am making to the Holy Father, that I may endeavour to obtain forgiveness at Rome. In his presence will I lay down the heavy burden of my sins; or fall beneath it, and die despairing."

Friedrich attempted to console him, but the Tannenhäuser seemed to pay little heed to what he said; and, after a short while, he proceeded in the following words: "There is an old legend of a Knight who is said to have lived many centuries ago, under the name of the Trusty Eckart. They tell how, in those days, a Musician issued from some marvellous Hill; and, by his magic tones, awoke in the hearts of all that heard him so deep a longing, such wild wishes, that he led them irresistibly along with his music, and forced them to rush in with him to the Hill. Hell had then opened wide her gates to poor mortals, and enticed them in with seductive music. In boyhood I often heard this story, and at first without particularly minding it; yet ere long it so took hold of me, that all Nature, every sound, every flower, recalled to me the story of these heart-subduing tones. I cannot tell thee what a sadness, what an unutterable longing used to seize me, when I looked on the driving of the clouds, and saw the light lordly blue peering out between them; or what remembrances the meadows and the woods would awaken in my deepest heart. Oftentimes the loveliness and fulness of royal Nature so affected me, that I stretched out my arms, as if to fly away with[Pg 193] wings; that I might pour myself out like the Spirit of Nature over mountain and valley; that I might brood over grass and forest, and inhale the riches of her blessedness. And if by day the free landscape charmed me, by night dark dreaming fantasies tormented me; and set themselves in louring grimness before me, as if to shut up my path of life forever. Above all, there was one dream that left an ineffaceable impression on my feelings, though I never could distinctly call the forms of it to memory. Methought there was a vast tumult in the streets; I heard confused unintelligible speaking; it was dark night; I went to my parents' house; none but my father was there, and he sick. Next morning I clasped my parents in my arms, and pressed them with melting tenderness to my breast, as if some hostile power had been about to tear them from me. 'Am I to lose thee?' said I to my father. 'O! how wretched and lonely were I without thee in this world!' They tried to comfort me, but could not wipe away the dim image from my remembrance.

"I grew older, still keeping myself apart from other boys of my age. I often roamed solitary through the fields: and it happened one morning, in my rambles, that I had lost my way; and so was wandering to and fro in a thick wood, not knowing whither to turn. After long seeking vainly for a road, I at last on a sudden came upon an iron-grated fence, within which lay a garden. Through the bars, I saw fair shady walks before me; fruit-trees and flowers; and close by me were rose-bushes glittering in the sun. A nameless longing for these roses seized me; I could not help rushing on; I pressed myself by force through between the bars, and was now standing in the garden. Immediately I sank on my knees; clasped the bushes in my arms; kissed the roses on their red lips, and melted into tears. I had knelt a while, absorbed in a sort of rapture, when there came two maidens through the alleys; the one of my own years, the other elder. I awoke from my trance, to fall into a higher ecstasy. My eye lighted on the younger, and I felt at this moment as if all my unknown woe was healed. They took me to the house; their parents, having learned my name, sent notice to my father, who, in the evening, came himself, and brought me back.

"From this day, the uncertain current of my life had got a fixed direction; my thoughts forever hastened back to the castle and the maiden; for here, it seemed to me, was the home of all my wishes. I forgot my customary pleasures, I forsook my playmates,[Pg 194] and often visited the garden, the castle and Emma. Here I had, in a little time, grown, as it were, an inmate of the house, so that they no longer thought it strange to see me; and Emma was becoming dearer to me every day. Thus passed my hours; and a tenderness had taken my heart captive, though I myself was not aware of it. My whole destination seemed to me fulfilled; I had no wish but still to come again; and when I went away, to have the same prospect for the morrow.

"Matters were in this state, when a young knight became acquainted in the family; he was a friend of my parents; and he soon, like me, attached himself to Emma. I hated him, from that moment, as my deadly enemy; but nothing can describe my feelings, when I fancied I perceived that Emma liked him more than me. From this hour, it was as if the music, which had hitherto accompanied me, went silent in my bosom. I meditated but on death and hatred; wild thoughts now awoke in my breast, when Emma sang her well-known songs to her lute. Nor did I hide the aversion which I felt; and when my parents tried to reason and remonstrate with me, I grew fierce and contradictory.

"I now roved about the woods and rocky wastes, infuriated against myself. The death of my rival was a thing I had determined on. The young knight, after some few months, made a formal offer of himself to the parents of my mistress, and she was betrothed to him. All that was rare and beautiful in Nature, all that had charmed me in her magnificence, had been united in my soul with Emma's image; I fancied, knew or wished for no other happiness but Emma; nay I had wilfully determined that the day, which brought the loss of her, should also bring my own destruction.

"My parents sorrowed in heart at such perversion; my mother had fallen sick, but I paid no heed to this; her situation gave me little trouble, and I saw her seldom. The wedding-day of my enemy was coming on; and with its approach increased the agony of mind which drove me over woods and mountains. I execrated Emma and myself with the most horrid curses. At this time I had no friend; no man would take any charge of me, for all had given me up for lost.

"The fearful marriage-eve came on. I had wandered deep among the cliffs, I heard the rushing of the forest-streams below; I often shuddered at myself. When the morning came, I saw my enemy proceeding down the mountains; I assailed him with injurious[Pg 195] speeches; he replied; we drew our swords, and he soon fell beneath my furious strokes.

"I hastened on, not looking after him, but his attendants took the corpse away. At night, I hovered round the dwelling which enclosed my Emma; and a few days afterwards, I heard in the neighbouring cloister the sound of the funeral-bell, and the grave-song of the nuns. I inquired; and was told that Fräulein Emma, out of sorrow for her bridegroom's death, was dead.

"I could stay no longer; I doubted whether I was living, whether it was all truth or not. I hastened back to my parents; and came next night, at a late hour, to the town where they lived. Here all was in confusion; horses and military wagons filled the streets, soldiers were jostling one another this way and that, and speaking in disordered haste: the Emperor was on the point of undertaking a campaign against his enemies. A solitary light was burning in my father's house when I entered; a strangling oppression lay upon my breast. As I knocked, my father himself, with slow, thoughtful steps, advanced to meet me; and immediately I recollected the old dream of my childhood; and felt, with cutting emotion, that now it was receiving its fulfilment. In perplexity, I asked: 'Why are you up so late, Father?' He led me in, and said: 'I may well be up, for thy mother is even now dead.'

"His words struck through my soul like thunderbolts. He took a seat with a meditative air; I sat down beside him. The corpse was lying in a bed, and strangely wound in linen. My heart was like to burst. 'I wake here,' said the old man, 'for my wife is still sitting by me.' My senses failed; I fixed my eyes upon a corner; and, after a little while, there rose, as it were, a vapour; it mounted and wavered; and the well-known figure of my mother gathered itself visibly together from the midst of it, and looked at me with an earnest mien. I wished to go, but I could not; for the form of my mother beckoned to me, and my father held me in his arms, and whispered to me, in a low voice: 'She died of grief for thee.' I embraced him with a childlike transport of affection; I poured burning tears on his breast. He kissed me; and I shuddered; for his lips, as they touched me, were cold, like the lips of one dead. 'How art thou, Father?' cried I, in horror. He writhed painfully together, and made no reply. In a few moments, I felt him growing colder; I laid my hand on his heart, but it was still; and, in wailing delirium, I held the body fast clasped in my embrace.

[Pg 196]

"As it were a gleam, like the first streak of dawn, went through the dark room; and behold, the spirit of my father sat beside my mother's form; and both looked at me compassionately, as I held the dear corpse in my arms. After this my consciousness was over: exhausted and delirious, the servants found me next morning in the chamber of the dead."

So far the Tannenhäuser had proceeded with his narrative: Friedrich was listening to him with the deepest astonishment, when all on a sudden he broke off, and paused with an expression of the keenest pain. Friedrich felt embarrassed and immersed in thought; they both returned in company to the Castle, but stayed in the same room apart from others.

The Tannenhäuser had kept silence for a while, then he again began: "The remembrance of those hours still agitates me deeply; I understand not how I have survived them. The world, and its life, now appeared to me as if dead and utterly desolate; without thoughts or wishes I lived on from day to day. I then became acquainted with a set of wild young people; and endeavoured, in the whirl of pleasure and intoxication, to lay the tumultuous Evil Spirit that was in me. My ancient burning impatience again awoke; and I could no longer understand myself or my wishes. A debauchee, named Rudolf, had become my confidant; he, however, always laughed to scorn my longings and complaints. About a year had passed in this way, when my misery of spirit rose to desperation; there was something drove me onwards, onwards, into unknown space; I could have dashed myself down from the high mountains into the glowing green of the meadows, into the cool rushing of the waters, to slake the burning thirst, to stay the insatiability of my soul: I longed for annihilation; and again, like golden morning clouds, did hope and love of life arise before me, and entice me on. The thought then struck me, that Hell was hungering for me, and was sending me my sorrows as well as my pleasures to destroy me; that some malignant Spirit was directing all the powers of my soul to the Infernal Abode; and leading me, as with a bridle, to my doom. And I surrendered to him; that so these torments, these alternating raptures and agonies, might leave me. In the darkest night, I mounted a lofty hill; and called on the Enemy of God and man, with all the energies of my heart, so that I felt he would be forced to hear me. My words brought him: he stood suddenly before me, and I felt no horror. Then in talking with[Pg 197] him, the belief in that strange Hill again rose within me; and he taught me a Song, which of itself would lead me by the straight road thither. He disappeared, and for the first time since I had begun to live, I was alone with myself; for I now understood my wandering thoughts, which rushed as from a centre to find out another world. I set forth on my journey; and the Song, which I sang with a loud voice, led me over strange deserts; but all other things besides myself I had forgotten. There was something carrying me, as on the strong wings of desire, to my home: I wished to escape the shadow which, amid the sunshine, threatens us; the wild tones which, amid the softest music, chide us. So travelling on, I reached the Mountain, one night when the moon was shining faintly from behind dim clouds. I proceeded with my Song; and a giant form stood by me, and beckoned me back with his staff. I went nearer: 'I am the Trusty Eckart,' said the superhuman figure; 'by God's goodness, I am placed here as watchman, to warn men back from their sinful rashness.'—I pressed through.

"My path was now as in a subterraneous mine. The passage was so narrow, that I had to press myself along; I caught the gurgling of hidden waters; I heard spirits forming ore, and gold and silver, to entice the soul of man; I found here concealed and separate the deep sounds and tones from which earthly music springs: the farther I went, the more did there fall, as it were, a veil from my sight.

"I rested, and saw other forms of men come gliding towards me; my friend Rudolf was among the number. I could not understand how they were to pass me, so narrow was the way; but they went along, through the middle of the rock, without perceiving me.

"Anon I heard the sound of music; but music altogether different from any that had ever struck my ear before. My thoughts within me strove towards the notes: I came into an open space; and strange radiant colours glittered on me from every side. This it was that I had always been in search of. Close to my heart I felt the presence of the long-sought, now-discovered glory; and its ravishments thrilled into me with all their power. And then the whole crowd of jocund Pagan gods came forth to meet me, Lady Venus at their head, and all saluted me. They have been banished thither by the power of the Almighty; their worship is abolished from the Earth; and now they work upon us from their concealment.

[Pg 198]

"All pleasures that Earth affords I here possessed and partook of in their fullest bloom; insatiable was my heart, and endless my enjoyment. The famed Beauties of the ancient world were present; what my thought coveted was mine; one delirium of rapture was followed by another; and day after day, the world appeared to burn round me in more glorious hues. Streams of the richest wine allayed my fierce thirst; and beauteous forms sported in the air, and soft eyes invited me; vapours rose enchanting around my head: as if from the inmost heart of blissful Nature, came a music and cooled with its fresh waves the wild tumult of desire; and a horror, that glided faint and secret over the rose-fields, heightened the delicious revel. How many years passed over me in this abode I know not: for here there was no time and no distinctions; the flowers here glowed with the charms of women; and in the forms of the women bloomed the magic of flowers; colours here had another language; the whole world of sense was bound together into one blossom, and the spirits within it forever held their rejoicing.

"Now, how it happened, I can neither say nor comprehend; but so it was, that in all this pomp of sin, a love of rest, a longing for the old innocent Earth, with her scanty joys, took hold of me here, as keenly as of old the impulse which had driven me hither. I was again drawn on to live that life which men, in their unconsciousness, go on leading: I was sated with this splendour, and gladly sought my former home once more. An unspeakable grace of the Almighty permitted my return; I found myself suddenly again in the world; and now it is my intention to pour out my guilty breast before the chair of our Holy Father in Rome; that so he may forgive me, and I may again be reckoned among men."

The Tannenhäuser ceased; and Friedrich long viewed him with an investigating look, then took his hand, and said: "I cannot yet recover from my wonder, nor can I understand thy narrative; for it is impossible that all thou hast told me can be aught but an imagination. Emma still lives, she is my wife; thou and I never quarrelled, or hated one another, as thou thinkest: yet before our marriage, thou wert gone on a sudden from the neighbourhood; nor didst thou ever tell me, by a single hint, that Emma was dear to thee."

Hereupon he took the bewildered Tannenhäuser by the hand, and led him into another room to his wife, who had just then returned[Pg 199] from a visit to her sister, which had kept her for the last few days from home. The Tannenhäuser spoke not, and seemed immersed in thought; he viewed in silence the form and face of the lady, then shook his head, and said: "By Heaven, that is the strangest incident of all!"

Friedrich, with precision and connectedness, related all that had befallen him since that time; and tried to make his friend perceive that it had been some singular madness which had, in the mean while, harassed him. "I know very well how it stands," exclaimed the Tannenhäuser. "It is now that I am crazy; and Hell has cast this juggling show before me, that I may not go to Rome, and seek the pardon of my sins."

Emma tried to bring his childhood to his recollection; but the Tannenhäuser would not be persuaded. He speedily set out on his journey; that he might the sooner get his absolution from the Pope.

Friedrich and Emma often spoke of the mysterious pilgrim. Some months had gone by, when the Tannenhäuser, pale and wasted, in a tattered pilgrim's dress, and barefoot, one morning entered Friedrich's chamber, while the latter was in bed asleep. He kissed his lips, and then said, in breathless haste: "The Holy Father cannot, and will not, forgive me; I must back to my old dwelling." And with this he went hurriedly away.

Friedrich roused himself; but the ill-fated pilgrim was already gone. He went to his lady's room; and her maids rushed out to meet him, crying that the Tannenhäuser had pressed into the apartment early in the morning, with the words: "She shall not obstruct me in my course!"—Emma was lying murdered.

Friedrich had not yet recalled his thoughts, when a horror came over him: he could not rest; he ran into the open air. They wished to keep him back; but he told them that the pilgrim had kissed his lips, and that the kiss was burning him till he found the man again. And so, with inconceivable rapidity, he ran away to seek the Tannenhäuser, and the mysterious Hill; and, since that day, he was never seen any more. People say, that whoever gets a kiss from any emissary of the Hill, is thenceforth unable to withstand the lure that draws him with magic force into the subterraneous chasm.

[Pg 200]


A young hunter was sitting in the heart of the Mountains, in a thoughtful mood, beside his fowling-floor, while the noise of the waters and the woods was sounding through the solitude. He was musing on his destiny; how he was so young, and had forsaken his father and mother, and accustomed home, and all his comrades in his native village, to seek out new acquaintances, to escape from the circle of returning habitude; and he looked up with a sort of surprise that he was here, that he found himself in this valley, in this employment. Great clouds were passing over him, and sinking behind the mountains; birds were singing from the bushes, and an echo was replying to them. He slowly descended the hill; and seated himself on the margin of a brook, that was gushing down among the rocks with foamy murmur. He listened to the fitful melody of the water; and it seemed to him as if the waves were saying to him, in unintelligible words, a thousand things that concerned him nearly; and he felt an inward trouble that he could not understand their speeches. Then again he looked aloft, and thought that he was glad and happy; so he took new heart, and sang aloud this hunting-song:

Blithe and cheery through the mountains
Goes the huntsman to the chase,
By the lonesome shady fountains,
Till he finds the red-deer's trace.
Hark! his trusty dogs are baying
Through the bright-green solitude;
Through the groves the horns are playing:
O, thou merry gay green wood!
In some dell, when luck hath blest him,
And his shot hath stretch'd the deer,
Lies he down, content, to rest him,
While the brooks are murmuring clear.[Pg 201]
Leave the husbandman his sowing,
Let the shipman sail the sea;
None, when bright the morn is glowing,
Sees its red so fair as he,
Wood and wold and game that prizes,
While Diana loves his art;
And, at last, some bright face rises:
Happy huntsman that thou art!

Whilst he sung, the sun had sunk deeper, and broad shadows fell across the narrow glen. A cooling twilight glided over the ground; and now only the tops of the trees, and the round summits of the mountains, were gilded by the glow of evening. Christian's heart grew sadder and sadder: he could not think of going back to his birdfold, and yet he could not stay; he felt himself alone, and longed to meet with men. He now remembered with regret those old books, which he used to see at home, and would never read, often as his father had advised him to it: the habitation of his childhood came before him, his sports with the youth of the village, his acquaintances among the children, the school that had afflicted him so much; and he wished he were again amid these scenes, which he had wilfully forsaken, to seek his fortune in unknown regions, in the mountains, among strange people, in a new employment. Meanwhile it grew darker; and the brook rushed louder; and the birds of night began to shoot, with fitful wing, along their mazy courses. Christian still sat disconsolate, and immersed in sad reflection; he was like to weep, and altogether undecided what to do or purpose. Unthinkingly, he pulled a straggling root from the earth; and on the instant, heard, with affright, a stifled moan underground, which winded downwards in doleful tones, and died plaintively away in the deep distance. The sound went through his inmost heart; it seized him as if he had unwittingly touched the wound, of which the dying frame of Nature was expiring in its agony. He started up to fly; for he had already heard of the mysterious mandrake-root, which, when torn, yields such heart-rending moans, that the person who has hurt it runs distracted by its wailing. As he turned to go, a stranger man was standing at his back, who looked at him with a friendly countenance, and asked him whither he was going. Christian had been longing for society, and yet he started in alarm at this friendly presence.

"Whither so fast?" said the stranger again.

The young hunter made an effort to collect himself, and told[Pg 202] how all at once the solitude had seemed so frightful to him, he had meant to get away; the evening was so dark, the green shades of the wood so dreary, the brook seemed uttering lamentations, and his longing drew him over to the other side of the hills.

"You are but young," said the stranger, "and cannot yet endure the rigour of solitude: I will accompany you, for you will find no house or hamlet within a league of this; and in the way we may talk, and tell each other tales, and so your sad thoughts will leave you: in an hour the moon will rise behind the hills; its light also will help to chase away the darkness of your mind."

They went along, and the stranger soon appeared to Christian as if he had been an old acquaintance. "Who are you?" said the man; "by your speech I hear that you belong not to this part."

"Ah!" replied the other, "upon this I could say much, and yet it is not worth the telling you, or talking of. There was something dragged me, with a foreign force, from the circle of my parents and relations; my spirit was not master of itself: like a bird which is taken in a net, and struggles to no purpose, so my soul was meshed in strange imaginations and desires. We dwelt far hence, in a plain, where all round you could see no hill, scarce even a height: few trees adorned the green level; but meadows, fertile corn-fields, gardens stretched away as far as the eye could reach; and a broad river glittered like a potent spirit through the midst of them. My father was gardener to a nobleman, and meant to breed me to the same employment. He delighted in plants and flowers beyond aught else, and could unweariedly pass day by day in watching them and tending them. Nay he went so far as to maintain, that he could almost speak with them; that he got knowledge from their growth and spreading, as well as from the varied form and colour of their leaves. To me, however, gardening was a tiresome occupation; and the more so as my father kept persuading me to take it up, or even attempted to compel me to it with threats. I wished to be a fisherman, and tried that business for a time; but a life on the waters would not suit me: I was then apprenticed to a tradesman in the town; but soon came home from this employment also. My father happened to be talking of the Mountains, which he had travelled over in his youth; of the subterranean mines and their workmen; of hunters and their occupation; and that instant there arose in me the most decided wish,[Pg 203] the feeling that at last I had found out the way of life which would entirely fit me. Day and night I meditated on the matter; representing to myself high mountains, chasms and pine-forests; my imagination shaped wild rocks; I heard the tumult of the chase, the horns, the cry of the hounds and the game; all my dreams were filled with these things, and they left me neither peace nor rest any more. The plain, our patron's castle, and my father's little hampered garden, with its trimmed flower-beds; our narrow dwelling; the wide sky which stretched above us in its dreary vastness, embracing no hill, no lofty mountain, all became more dull and odious to me. It seemed as if the people about me were living in most lamentable ignorance; that every one of them would think and long as I did, should the feeling of their wretchedness but once arise within their souls. Thus did I bait my heart with restless fancies; till one morning I resolved on leaving my father's house directly and forever. In a book I had found some notice of the nearest mountains, some charts of the neighbouring districts, and by them I shaped my course. It was early in spring, and I felt myself cheerful, and altogether light of heart. I hastened on, to get away the faster from the level country; and one evening, in the distance, I descried the dim outline of the Mountains, lying on the sky before me. I could scarcely sleep in my inn, so impatient did I feel to have my foot upon the region which I regarded as my home: with the earliest dawn I was awake, and again in motion. By the afternoon, I had got among my beloved hills; and here, as if intoxicated, I went on, then stopped a while, looked back; and drank, as in inspiring draughts, the aspect of these foreign yet well-known objects. Ere long, the plain was out of sight; the forest-streams were rushing down to meet me; the oaks and beeches sounded to me from their steep precipices with wavering boughs; my path led me by the edge of dizzy abysses; blue hills were standing vast and solemn in the distance. A new world was opened to me; I was never weary. Thus, after some days, having roamed over great part of the Mountains, I reached the dwelling of an old forester, who consented, at my urgent request, to take me in, and instruct me in the business of the chase. It is now three months since I entered his service. I took possession of the district where I was to live, as of my kingdom. I got acquainted with every cliff and dell among the mountains; in my occupation, when at dawn of day we moved to the forest, when felling trees in the wood, when practising my[Pg 204] fowling-piece, or training my trusty attendants, our dogs, to do their feats, I felt completely happy. But for the last eight days I have stayed up here at the fowling-floor, in the loneliest quarter of the hills; and tonight I grew so sad as I never was in my life before; I seemed so lost, so utterly unhappy; and even yet I cannot shake aside that melancholy humour."

The stranger had listened with attention, while they both wandered on through a dark alley of the wood. They now came out into the open country, and the light of the moon, which was standing with its horns over the summit of the hill, saluted them like a friend. In undistinguishable forms, and many separated masses, which the pale gleam again perplexingly combined, lay the cleft mountain-range before them; in the background a steep hill, on the top of which an antique weathered ruin rose ghastly in the white light. "Our roads part here," said the stranger; "I am going down into this hollow; there, by that old mine-shaft, is my dwelling: the metal ores are my neighbours; the mine-streams tell me wonders in the night; thither thou canst not follow me. But look, there stands the Runenberg, with its wild ragged walls; how beautiful and alluring the grim old rock looks down on us! Wert thou never there?"

"Never," said the hunter. "Once I heard my old forester relating strange stories of that hill, which I, like a fool, have forgotten; only I remember that my mind that night was full of dread and unearthly notions. I could like to mount the hill some time; for the colours there are of the fairest, the grass must be very green, the world around one very strange; who knows, too, but one might chance to find some curious relic of the ancient time up there?"

"You could scarcely fail," replied the stranger; "whoever knows how to seek, whoever feels his heart drawn towards it with a right inward longing, will find friends of former ages there, and glorious things, and all that he wishes most." With these words the stranger rapidly descended to a side, without bidding his companion farewell; he soon vanished in the tangles of the thicket, and after some few instants, the sound of his footsteps also died away. The young hunter did not feel surprised, he but went on with quicker speed towards the Runenberg: thither all things seemed to beckon him; the stars were shining towards it; the moon pointed out as it were a bright road to the ruins; light clouds rose up to them; and from the depths, the waters and[Pg 205] sounding woods spoke new courage into him. His steps were as if winged; his heart throbbed; he felt so great a joy within him, that it rose to pain. He came into places he had never seen before; the rocks grew steeper; the green disappeared; the bald cliffs called to him, as with angry voices, and a lone moaning wind drove him on before it. Thus he hurried forward without pause; and late after midnight he came upon a narrow footpath, which ran along by the brink of an abyss. He heeded not the depth which yawned beneath, and threatened to swallow him forever; so keenly was he driven along by wild imaginations and vague wishes. At last his perilous track led him close by a high wall, which seemed to lose itself in the clouds; the path grew narrower every step; and Christian had to cling by projecting stones to keep himself from rushing down into the gulf. Ere long, he could get no farther; his path ended underneath a window: he was obliged to pause, and knew not whether he should turn or stay. Suddenly he saw a light, which seemed to move within the ruined edifice. He looked towards the gleam; and found that he could see into an ancient spacious hall, strangely decorated, and glittering in manifold splendour, with multitudes of precious stones and crystals, the hues of which played through each other in mysterious changes, as the light moved to and fro; and this was in the hand of a stately female, who kept walking with a thoughtful aspect up and down the apartment. She seemed of a different race from mortals; so large, so strong was her form, so earnest her look; yet the enraptured huntsman thought he had never seen or fancied such surpassing beauty. He trembled, yet secretly wished she might come near the window and observe him. At last she stopped, set down the light on a crystal table, looked aloft, and sang with a piercing voice:

What can the Ancient keep
That they come not at my call?
The crystal pillars weep,
From the diamonds on the wall
The trickling tear-drops fall;
And within is heard a moan,
A chiding fitful tone:
In these waves of brightness,
Lovely changeful lightness,
Has the Shape been form'd,
By which the soul is charm'd,
And the longing heart is warm'd.
Come, ye Spirits, at my call,
Haste ye to the Golden Hall;[Pg 206]
Raise, from your abysses gloomy,
Heads that sparkle; faster
Come, ye Ancient Ones, come to me!
Let your power be master
Of the longing hearts and souls,
Where the flood of passion rolls,
Let your power be master!

On finishing the song, she began undressing; laying her apparel in a costly press. First, she took a golden veil from her head; and her long black hair streamed down in curling fulness over her loins: then she loosed her bosom-dress; and the youth forgot himself and all the world in gazing at that more than earthly beauty. He scarcely dared to breathe, as by degrees she laid aside her other garments: at last she walked about the chamber naked; and her heavy waving locks formed round her, as it were, a dark billowy sea, out of which, like marble, the glancing limbs of her form beamed forth, in alternating splendour. After a while, she went forward to another golden press; and took from it a tablet, glittering with many inlaid stones, rubies, diamonds and all kinds of jewels; and viewed it long with an investigating look. The tablet seemed to form a strange inexplicable figure, from its individual lines and colours; sometimes, when the glance of it came towards the hunter, he was painfully dazzled by it; then, again, soft green and blue playing over it, refreshed his eye: he stood, however, devouring the objects with his looks, and at the same time sunk in deep thought. Within his soul, an abyss of forms and harmony, of longing and voluptuousness, was opened: hosts of winged tones, and sad and joyful melodies flew through his spirit, which was moved to its foundations: he saw a world of Pain and Hope arise within him; strong towering crags of Trust and defiant Confidence, and deep rivers of Sadness flowing by. He no longer knew himself: and he started as the fair woman opened the window; handed him the magic tablet of stones, and spoke these words: "Take this in memory of me!" He caught the tablet; and felt the figure, which, unseen, at once went through his inmost heart; and the light, and the fair woman, and the wondrous hall, had disappeared. As it were, a dark night, with curtains of cloud, fell down over his soul: he searched for his former feelings, for that inspiration and unutterable love; he looked at the precious tablet, and the sinking moon was imaged in it faint and bluish.

He had still the tablet firmly grasped in his hands when the[Pg 207] morning dawned; and he, exhausted, giddy and half-asleep, fell headlong down the precipice.—

The sun shone bright on the face of the stupefied sleeper; and, awakening, he found himself upon a pleasant hill. He looked round, and saw far behind him, and scarce discernible at the extreme horizon, the ruins of the Runenberg; he searched for his tablet, and could find it nowhere. Astonished and perplexed, he tried to gather his thoughts, and connect together his remembrances; but his memory was as if filled with a waste haze, in which vague irrecognisable shapes were wildly jostling to and fro. His whole previous life lay behind him, as in a far distance; the strangest and the commonest were so mingled, that all his efforts could not separate them. After long struggling with himself, he at last concluded that a dream, or sudden madness, had come over him that night; only he could never understand how he had strayed so far into a strange and remote quarter.

Still scarcely waking, he went down the hill; and came upon a beaten way, which led him out from the mountains into the plain country. All was strange to him: he at first thought that he would find his old home; but the country which he saw was quite unknown to him; and at length he concluded that he must be upon the south side of the Mountains, which, in spring, he had entered from the north. Towards noon, he perceived a little town below him: from its cottages a peaceful smoke was mounting up; children, dressed as for a holiday, were sporting on the green; and from a small church came the sound of the organ, and the singing of the congregation. All this laid hold of him with a sweet, inexpressible sadness; it so moved him, that he was forced to weep. The narrow gardens, the little huts with their smoking chimneys, the accurately-parted corn-fields, reminded him of the necessities of poor human nature; of man's dependence on the friendly Earth, to whose benignity he must commit himself; while the singing, and the music of the organ, filled the stranger's heart with a devoutness it had never felt before. The desires and emotions of the bygone night seemed reckless and wicked; he wished once more, in childlike meekness, helplessly and humbly to unite himself to men as to his brethren, and fly from his ungodly purposes and feelings. The plain, with its little river, which, in manifold windings, clasped itself about the gardens and meadows, seemed to him inviting and delightful: he thought with fear of his abode among the lonely mountains[Pg 208] amid waste rocks; he wished that he could be allowed to live in this peaceful village; and so feeling, he went into its crowded church.

The psalm was just over, and the preacher had begun his sermon. It was on the kindness of God in regard to Harvest; how His goodness feeds and satisfies all things that live; how marvellously He has, in the fruits of the Earth, provided support for men; how the love of God incessantly displays itself in the bread He sends us; and how the humble Christian may therefore, with a thankful spirit, perpetually celebrate a Holy Supper. The congregation were affected; the eyes of the hunter rested on the pious priest, and observed, close by the pulpit, a young maiden, who appeared beyond all others reverent and attentive. She was slim and fair; her blue eye gleamed with the most piercing softness; her face was as if transparent, and blooming in the tenderest colours. The stranger youth had never been as he now was; so full of charity, so calm, so abandoned to the stillest, most refreshing feelings. He bowed himself in tears, when the clergyman pronounced his blessing; he felt these holy words thrill through him like an unseen power; and the vision of the night drew back before them to the deepest distance, as a spectre at the dawn. He issued from the church; stopped beneath a large lime-tree; and thanked God, in a heartfelt prayer, that He had saved him, sinful and undeserving, from the nets of the Wicked Spirit.

The people were engaged in holding harvest-home that day, and every one was in a cheerful mood; the children, with their gay dresses, were rejoicing in the prospect of the sweetmeats and the dance; in the village square, a space encircled with young trees, the youths were arranging the preparations for their harvest sport; the players were seated, and essaying their instruments. Christian went into the fields again, to collect his thoughts and pursue his meditations; and on his returning to the village, all had joined in mirth, and actual celebration of their festival. The fair-haired Elizabeth was there, too, with her parents; and the stranger mingled in the jocund throng. Elizabeth was dancing; and Christian, in the mean time, had entered into conversation with her father, a farmer, and one of the richest people in the village. The man seemed pleased with his youth and way of speech; so, in a short time, both of them agreed that Christian should remain with him as gardener. This office Christian could[Pg 209] engage with; for he hoped that now the knowledge and employments, which he had so much despised at home, would stand him in good stead.

From this period a new life began for him. He went to live with the farmer, and was numbered among his family. With his trade, he likewise changed his garb. He was so good, so helpful and kindly; he stood to his task so honestly, that ere long every member of the house, especially the daughter, had a friendly feeling to him. Every Sunday, when he saw her going to church, he was standing with a fair nosegay ready for Elizabeth; and then she used to thank him with blushing kindliness: he felt her absence, on days when he did not chance to see her; and at night, she would tell him tales and pleasant histories. Day by day they grew more necessary to each other; and the parents, who observed it, did not seem to think it wrong; for Christian was the most industrious and handsomest youth in the village. They themselves had, at first sight, felt a touch of love and friendship for him. After half a year, Elizabeth became his wife. Spring was come back; the swallows and the singing-birds had revisited the land; the garden was standing in its fairest trim; the marriage was celebrated with abundant mirth; bride and bridegroom seemed intoxicated with their happiness. Late at night, when they retired to their chamber, the husband whispered to his wife: "No, thou art not that form which once charmed me in a dream, and which I never can entirely forget; but I am happy beside thee, and blessed that thou art mine."

How delighted was the family, when, within a year, it became augmented by a little daughter, who was baptised Leonora. Christian's looks, indeed, would sometimes take a rather grave expression as he gazed on the child; but his youthful cheeriness continually returned. He scarcely ever thought of his former way of life, for he felt himself entirely domesticated and contented. Yet, some months afterwards, his parents came into his mind; and he thought how much his father, in particular, would be rejoiced to see his peaceful happiness, his station as husbandman and gardener; it grieved him that he should have utterly forgotten his father and mother for so long a time; his own only child made known to him the joy which children afford to parents; so at last he took the resolution to set out, and again revisit home.

Unwillingly he left his wife; all wished him speed; and the season being fine, he went off on foot. Already at the distance of[Pg 210] a few miles, he felt how much the parting grieved him; for the first time in his life, he experienced the pains of separation; the foreign objects seemed to him almost savage; he felt as if he had been lost in some unfriendly solitude. Then the thought came on him, that his youth was over; that he had found a home to which he now belonged, in which his heart had taken root; he was almost ready to lament the lost levity of younger years; and his mind was in the saddest mood, when he turned aside into a village inn to pass the night. He could not understand how he had come to leave his kind wife, and the parents she had given him; and he felt dispirited and discontented, when he rose next morning to pursue his journey.

His pain increased as he approached the hills: the distant ruins were already visible, and by degrees grew more distinguishable; many summits rose defined and clear amid the blue vapour. His step grew timid; frequently he paused, astonished at his fear; at the horror which, with every step, fell closer on him. "Madness!" cried he, "I know thee well, and thy perilous seductions; but I will withstand thee manfully. Elizabeth is no vain dream; I know that even now she thinks of me, that she waits for me, and fondly counts the hours of my absence. Do I not already see forests like black hair before me? Do not the glancing eyes look to me from the brook? Does not the stately form step towards me from the mountains?" So saying, he was about to lay himself beneath a tree, and take some rest; when he perceived an old man seated in the shade of it, examining a flower with extreme attention; now holding it to the sun, now shading it with his hands, now counting its leaves; as if striving in every way to stamp it accurately in his memory. On approaching nearer, he thought he knew the form; and soon no doubt remained that the old man with the flower was his father. With an exclamation of the liveliest joy, he rushed into his arms; the old man seemed delighted, but not much surprised, at meeting him so suddenly.

"Art thou with me already, my son?" said he: "I knew that I should find thee soon, but I did not think such joy had been in store for me this very day."

"How did you know, father, that you would meet me?"

"By this flower," replied the old gardener; "all my days I have had a wish to see it; but never had I the fortune; for it is very scarce, and grows only among the mountains. I set out to seek thee, for thy mother is dead, and the loneliness at home[Pg 211] made me sad and heavy. I knew not whither I should turn my steps; at last I came among the mountains, dreary as the journey through them had appeared to me. By the road, I sought for this flower, but could find it nowhere; and now, quite unexpectedly, I see it here, where the fair plain is lying stretched before me. From this I knew that I should meet thee soon; and, lo, how true the fair flower's prophecy has proved!"

They embraced again, and Christian wept for his mother; but the old man grasped his hand, and said: "Let us go, that the shadows of the mountains may be soon out of view; it always makes me sorrowful in the heart to see these wild steep shapes, these horrid chasms, these torrents gurgling down into their caverns. Let us get upon the good, kind, guileless level ground again."

They went back, and Christian recovered his cheerfulness. He told his father of his new fortune, of his child and home: his speech made himself as if intoxicated; and he now, in talking of it, for the first time truly felt that nothing more was wanting to his happiness. Thus, amid narrations sad and cheerful, they returned into the village. All were delighted at the speedy ending of the journey; most of all, Elizabeth. The old father stayed with them, and joined his little fortune to their stock; they formed the most contented and united circle in the world. Their crops were good, their cattle throve; and in a few years Christian's house was among the wealthiest in the quarter. Elizabeth had also given him several other children.

Five years had passed away in this manner, when a stranger halted from his journey in their village; and took up his lodging in Christian's house, as being the most respectable the place contained. He was a friendly, talking man; he told them many stories of his travels; sported with the children, and made presents to them: in a short time, all were growing fond of him. He liked the neighbourhood so well, that he proposed remaining in it for a day or two; but the days grew weeks, and the weeks months. No one seemed to wonder at his loitering; for all of them had grown accustomed to regard him as a member of the family. Christian alone would often sit in a thoughtful mood; for it seemed to him as if he knew this traveller of old, and yet he could not think of any time when he had met with him. Three months had passed away, when the stranger at last took his leave, and said: "My dear friends, a wondrous destiny, and singular[Pg 212] anticipations, drive me to the neighbouring mountains; a magic image, not to be withstood, allures me: I leave you now, and I know not whether I shall ever see you any more. I have a sum of money by me, which in your hands will be safer than in mine; so I ask you to take charge of it; and if within a year I come not back, then keep it, and accept my thanks along with it for the kindness you have shown me."

So the traveller went his way, and Christian took the money in charge. He locked it carefully up; and now and then, in the excess of his anxiety, looked over it; he counted it to see that none was missing, and in all respects took no little pains with it. "This sum might make us very happy," said he once to his father; "should the stranger not return, both we and our children were well provided for."

"Heed not the gold," said the old man; "not in it can happiness be found: hitherto, thank God, we have never wanted aught; and do thou put away such thoughts far from thee."

Christian often rose in the night to set his servants to their labour, and look after everything himself: his father was afraid lest this excessive diligence might harm his youth and health; so one night he rose to speak with him about remitting such unreasonable efforts; when, to his astonishment, he found him sitting with a little lamp at his table, and counting, with the greatest eagerness, the stranger's gold. "My son," said the old man, full of sadness, "must it come to this with thee? Was this accursed metal brought beneath our roof to make us wretched? Bethink thee, my son, or the Evil One will consume thy blood and life out of thee."

"Yes," replied he; "it is true, I know myself no more; neither day nor night does it give me any rest: see how it looks on me even now, till the red glance of it goes into my very heart! Hark how it clinks, this golden stuff! It calls me when I sleep; I hear it when music sounds, when the wind blows, when people speak together on the street; if the sun shines, I see nothing but these yellow eyes, with which it beckons to me, as it were, to whisper words of love into my ear: and therefore I am forced to rise in the night-time, though it were but to satisfy its eagerness; and then I feel it triumphing and inwardly rejoicing when I touch it with my fingers; in its joy it grows still redder and lordlier. Do but look yourself at the glow of its rapture!" The old man, shuddering and weeping, took his son in his arms; he[Pg 213] said a prayer, and then spoke: "Christel, thou must turn again to the Word of God; thou must go more zealously and reverently to church, or else, alas! my poor child, thou wilt droop and die away in the most mournful wretchedness."

The money was again locked up; Christian promised to take thought and change his conduct, and the old man was composed. A year and more had passed, and no tidings had been heard of the stranger: the old man at last gave in to the entreaties of his son; and the money was laid out in land, and other property. The young farmer's riches soon became the talk of the village; and Christian seemed contented and comfortable, and his father felt delighted at beholding him so well and cheerful; all fear had now vanished from his mind. What then must have been his consternation, when Elizabeth one evening took him aside; and told him, with tears, that she could no longer understand her husband; how he spoke so wildly, especially at night; how he dreamed strange dreams, and would often in his sleep walk long about the room, not knowing it; how he spoke strange things to her, at which she often shuddered. But what terrified her most, she said, was his pleasantry by day; for his laugh was wild and hollow, his look wandering and strange. The father stood amazed, and the sorrowing wife proceeded: "He is always talking of the traveller, and maintaining that he knew him formerly, and that the stranger man was in truth a woman of unearthly beauty; nor will he go any more into the fields or the garden to work, for he says he hears underneath the ground a fearful moaning when he but pulls out a root; he starts and seems to feel a horror at all plants and herbs."

"Good God!" exclaimed the father, "is the frightful hunger in him grown so rooted and strong, that it is come to this? Then is his spell-bound heart no longer human, but of cold metal; he who does not love a flower, has lost all love and fear of God."

Next day the old man went to walk with his son, and told him much of what Elizabeth had said; calling on him to be pious, and devote his soul to holy contemplations. "Willingly, my father," answered Christian; "and I often do so with success, and all is well with me: for long periods of time, for years, I can forget the true form of my inward man, and lead a life that is foreign to me, as it were, with cheerfulness: but then on a sudden, like a new moon, the ruling star, which I myself am, arises again in my heart, and conquers this other influence. I might[Pg 214] be altogether happy; but once, in a mysterious night, a secret sign was imprinted through my hand deep on my soul; frequently the magic figure sleeps and is at rest; I imagine it has passed away; but in a moment, like a poison, it darts up and lives over all its lineaments. And then I can think or feel nothing else but it; and all around me is transformed, or rather swallowed up, by this subduing shape. As the rabid man recoils at the sight of water, and the poison in him grows more fell; so too it is with me at the sight of any cornered figure, any line, any gleam of brightness; anything will then rouse the form that dwells in me, and make it start into being; and my soul and body feel the throes of birth; for as my mind received it by a feeling from without, she strives in agony and bitter labour to work it forth again into an outward feeling, that she may be rid of it, and at rest."

"It was an evil star that took thee from us to the Mountains," said the old man; "thou wert born for calm life, thy mind inclined to peace and the love of plants; then thy impatience hurried thee away to the company of savage stones: the crags, the torn cliffs, with their jagged shapes, have overturned thy soul, and planted in thee the wasting hunger for metals. Thou shouldst still have been on thy guard, and kept thyself away from the view of mountains; so I meant to bring thee up, but it has not so been to be. Thy humility, thy peace, thy childlike feeling, have been thrust away by scorn, boisterousness and caprice."

"No," said the son; "I remember well that it was a plant which first made known to me the misery of the Earth; never, till then, did I understand the sighs and lamentations one may hear on every side, throughout the whole of Nature, if one but give ear to them. In plants and herbs, in trees and flowers, it is the painful writhing of one universal wound that moves and works; they are the corpse of foregone glorious worlds of rock, they offer to our eye a horrid universe of putrefaction. I now see clearly it was this, which the root with its deep-drawn sigh was saying to me; in its sorrow it forgot itself, and told me all. It is because of this that all green shrubs are so enraged at me, and lie in wait for my life; they wish to obliterate that lovely figure in my heart; and every spring, with their distorted deathlike looks, they try to win my soul. Truly it is piteous to consider how they have betrayed and cozened thee, old man; for they have gained complete possession of thy spirit. Do but question[Pg 215] the rocks, and thou wilt be amazed when thou shalt hear them speak."

The father looked at him a long while, and could answer nothing. They went home again in silence, and the old man was as frightened as Elizabeth at Christian's mirth; for it seemed a thing quite foreign; and as if another being from within were working out of him, awkwardly and ineffectually, as out of some machine.

The harvest-home was once more to be held; the people went to church, and Elizabeth, with her little ones, set out to join the service; her husband also seemed intending to accompany them, but at the threshold of the church he turned aside; and with an air of deep thought, walked out of the village. He set himself on the height, and again looked over upon the smoking cottages; he heard the music of the psalm and organ coming from the little church; children, in holiday dresses, were dancing and sporting on the green. "How have I lost my life as in a dream!" said he to himself: "years have passed away since I went down this hill to the merry children; they who were then sportful on the green, are now serious in the church; I also once went into it, but Elizabeth is now no more a blooming childlike maiden; her youth is gone; I cannot seek for the glance of her eyes with the longing of those days; I have wilfully neglected a high eternal happiness, to win one which is finite and transitory."

With a heart full of wild desire, he walked to the neighbouring wood, and immersed himself in its thickest shades. A ghastly silence encompassed him; no breath of air was stirring in the leaves. Meanwhile he saw a man approaching him from a distance, whom he recognised for the stranger; he started in affright, and his first thought was, that the man would ask him for his money. But as the form came nearer, he perceived how greatly he had been mistaken; for the features, which he had imagined known to him, melted into one another; an old woman of the utmost hideousness approached; she was clad in dirty rags; a tattered clout bound up her few gray hairs; she was limping on a crutch. With a dreadful voice she spoke to him, and asked his name and situation; he replied to both inquiries, and then said, "But who art thou?"

"I am called the Woodwoman," answered she; "and every child can tell of me. Didst thou never see me before?" With the last words she whirled about, and Christian thought he recognised among the trees the golden veil, the lofty gait, the large[Pg 216] stately form which he had once beheld of old. He turned to hasten after her, but nowhere was she to be seen.

Meanwhile something glittered in the grass, and drew his eye to it. He picked it up; it was the magic tablet with the coloured jewels, and the wondrous figure, which he had lost so many years before. The shape and the changeful gleams struck over all his senses with an instantaneous power. He grasped it firmly, to convince himself that it was really once more in his hands, and then hastened back with it to the village. His father met him. "See," cried Christian, "the thing which I was telling you about so often, which I thought must have been shown to me only in a dream, is now sure and true."

The old man looked a long while at the tablet, and then said: "My son, I am struck with horror in my heart when I view these stones, and dimly guess the meaning of the words on them. Look here, how cold they glitter, what cruel looks they cast from them, bloodthirsty, like the red eye of the tiger! Cast this writing from thee, which makes thee cold and cruel, which will turn thy heart to stone:

See the flowers, when morn is beaming,
Waken in their dewy place;
And, like children roused from dreaming,
Smiling look thee in the face.
By degrees, that way and this,
To the golden Sun they're turning,
Till they meet his glowing kiss,
And their hearts with love are burning:
For, with fond and sad desire,
In their lover's looks to languish,
On his melting kisses to expire,
And to die of love's sweet anguish:
This is what they joy in most;
To depart in fondest weakness;
In their lover's being lost,
Faded stand in silent meekness.
Then they pour away the treasure
Of their perfumes, their soft souls,
And the air grows drunk with pleasure,
As in wanton floods it rolls.
Love comes to us here below,
Discord harsh away removing;
And the heart cries: Now I know
Sadness, Fondness, Pain of Loving."
[Pg 217]

"What wonderful incalculable treasures," said the other, "must there still be in the depths of the Earth! Could one but sound into their secret beds and raise them up, and snatch them to one's-self! Could one but clasp this Earth like a beloved bride to one's bosom, so that in pain and love she would willingly grant one her costliest riches! The Woodwoman has called me; I go to seek for her. Near by is an old ruined shaft, which some miner has hollowed out many centuries ago; perhaps I shall find her there!"

He hastened off. In vain did the old man strive to detain him; in a few moments Christian had vanished from his sight. Some hours afterwards, the father, with a strong effort, reached the ruined shaft: he saw footprints in the sand at the entrance, and returned in tears; persuaded that his son, in a state of madness, had gone in and been drowned in the old collected waters and horrid caves of the mine.

From that day his heart seemed broken, and he was incessantly in tears. The whole neighbourhood deplored the fortune of the young farmer. Elizabeth was inconsolable, the children lamented aloud. In half a year the aged gardener died; the parents of Elizabeth soon followed him; and she was forced herself to take charge of everything. Her multiplied engagements helped a little to withdraw her from her sorrow; the education of her children, and the management of so much property, left little time for mourning. After two years, she determined on a new marriage; she bestowed her hand on a young light-hearted man, who had loved her from his youth. But, ere long, everything in their establishment assumed another form. The cattle died; men and maid servants proved dishonest; barns full of grain were burnt; people in the town who owed them sums of money, fled and made no payment. In a little while, the landlord found himself obliged to sell some fields and meadows; but a mildew, and a year of scarcity, brought new embarrassments. It seemed as if the gold, so strangely acquired, were taking speedy flight in all directions. Meanwhile the family was on the increase; and Elizabeth, as well as her husband, grew reckless and sluggish in this scene of despair: he fled for consolation to the bottle, he was often drunk, and therefore quarrelsome and sullen; so that frequently Elizabeth bewailed her state with bitter tears. As their fortune declined, their friends in the village stood aloof from them more and more; so that after some few years they saw themselves[Pg 218] entirely forsaken, and were forced to struggle on, in penury and straits, from week to week.

They had nothing but a cow and a few sheep left them; these Elizabeth herself, with her children, often tended at their grass. She was sitting one day with her work in the field, Leonora at her side, and a sucking child on her breast, when they saw from afar a strange-looking shape approaching towards them. It was a man with a garment all in tatters, barefoot, sunburnt to a black-brown colour in the face, deformed still farther by a long matted beard: he wore no covering on his head; but had twisted a garland of green branches through his hair, which made his wild appearance still more strange and haggard. On his back he bore some heavy burden in a sack, very carefully tied, and as he walked he leaned upon a young fir.

On coming nearer, he put down his load, and drew deep draughts of breath. He bade Elizabeth good-day; she shuddered at the sight of him, the girl crouched close to her mother. Having rested for a little while, he said: "I am getting back from a very hard journey among the wildest mountains of the Earth; but to pay me for it, I have brought along with me the richest treasures which imagination can conceive, or heart desire. Look here, and wonder!" Thereupon he loosed his sack, and shook it empty: it was full of gravel, among which were to be seen large bits of chuck-stone, and other pebbles. "These jewels," he continued, "are not ground and polished yet, so they want the glance and the eye; the outward fire, with its glitter, is too deeply buried in their inmost heart; yet you have but to strike it out and frighten them, and show that no deceit will serve, and then you see what sort of stuff they are." So saying, he took a piece of flinty stone, and struck it hard against another, till they gave red sparks between them. "Did you see the glance?" cried he. "Ay, they are all fire and light; they illuminate the darkness with their laugh, though as yet it is against their will." With this he carefully repacked his pebbles in the bag, and tied it hard and fast. "I know thee very well," said he then, with a saddened tone; "thou art Elizabeth." The woman started.

"How comest thou to know my name?" cried she, with a forecasting shudder.

"Ah, good God!" said the unhappy creature, "I am Christian, he that was a hunter: dost thou not know me, then?"

She knew not, in her horror and deepest compassion, what to[Pg 219] say. He fell upon her neck and kissed her. Elizabeth exclaimed: "O Heaven! my husband is coming!"

"Be at thy ease," said he; "I am as good as dead to thee: in the forest, there, my fair one waits for me; she that is tall and stately, with the black hair and the golden veil. This is my dearest child, Leonora. Come hither, darling: come, my pretty child; and give me a kiss, too; one kiss, that I may feel thy mouth upon my lips once again, and then I leave you."

Leonora wept; she clasped close to her mother, who, in sobs and tears, half held her towards the wanderer, while he half drew her towards him, took her in his arms, and pressed her to his breast. Then he went away in silence, and in the wood they saw him speaking with the hideous Woodwoman.

"What ails you?" said the husband, as he found mother and daughter pale and melting in tears. Neither of them answered.

The ill-fated creature was never seen again from that day.

[Pg 220]


"Where is our little Mary?" said the father.

"She is playing out upon the green there with our neighbour's boy," replied the mother.

"I wish they may not run away and lose themselves," said he; "they are so thoughtless."

The mother looked for the little ones, and brought them their evening luncheon. "It is warm," said the boy; "and Mary had a longing for the red cherries."

"Have a care, children," said the mother, "and do not run too far from home, and not into the wood; Father and I are going to the fields."

Little Andres answered: "Never fear, the wood frightens us; we shall sit here by the house, where there are people near us."

The mother went in, and soon came out again with her husband. They locked the door, and turned towards the fields to look after their labourers, and see their hay-harvest in the meadow. Their house lay upon a little green height, encircled by a pretty ring of paling, which likewise enclosed their fruit and flower garden. The hamlet stretched somewhat deeper down, and on the other side lay the castle of the Count. Martin rented the large farm from this nobleman; and was living in contentment with his wife and only child; for he yearly saved some money, and had the prospect of becoming a man of substance by his industry, for the ground was productive, and the Count not illiberal.

As he walked with his wife to the fields, he gazed cheerfully[Pg 221] round, and said: "What a different look this quarter has, Brigitta, from the place we lived in formerly! Here it is all so green; the whole village is bedecked with thick-spreading fruit-trees; the ground is full of beautiful herbs and flowers; all the houses are cheerful and cleanly, the inhabitants are at their ease: nay I could almost fancy that the woods are greener here than elsewhere, and the sky bluer; and, so far as the eye can reach, you have pleasure and delight in beholding the bountiful Earth."

"And whenever you cross the stream," said Brigitta, "you are, as it were, in another world, all is so dreary and withered; but every traveller declares that our village is the fairest in the country far and near."

"All but that fir-ground," said her husband; "do but look back to it, how dark and dismal that solitary spot is lying in the gay scene: the dingy fir-trees with the smoky huts behind them, the ruined stalls, the brook flowing past with a sluggish melancholy."

"It is true," replied Brigitta; "if you but approach that spot, you grow disconsolate and sad, you know not why. What sort of people can they be that live there, and keep themselves so separate from the rest of us, as if they had an evil conscience?"

"A miserable crew," replied the young Farmer: "gipsies, seemingly, that steal and cheat in other quarters, and have their hoard and hiding-place here. I wonder only that his Lordship suffers them."

"Who knows," said the wife, with an accent of pity, "but perhaps they may be poor people, wishing, out of shame, to conceal their poverty; for, after all, no one can say aught ill of them; the only thing is, that they do not go to church, and none knows how they live; for the little garden, which indeed seems altogether waste, cannot possibly support them; and fields they have none."

"God knows," said Martin, as they went along, "what trade they follow; no mortal comes to them; for the place they live in is as if bewitched and excommunicated, so that even our wildest fellows will not venture into it."

Such conversation they pursued, while walking to the fields. That gloomy spot they spoke of lay aside from the hamlet. In a dell, begirt with firs, you might behold a hut, and various ruined office-houses; rarely was smoke seen to mount from it, still more[Pg 222] rarely did men appear there; though at times curious people, venturing somewhat nearer, had perceived upon the bench before the hut, some hideous women, in ragged clothes, dandling in their arms some children equally dirty and ill-favoured; black dogs were running up and down upon the boundary; and, of an evening, a man of monstrous size was seen to cross the footbridge of the brook, and disappear in the hut; and, in the darkness, various shapes were observed, moving like shadows round a fire in the open air. This piece of ground, the firs and the ruined huts, formed in truth a strange contrast with the bright green landscape, the white houses of the hamlet, and the stately new-built castle.

The two little ones had now eaten their fruit; it came into their heads to run races; and the little nimble Mary always got the start of the less active Andres. "It is not fair," cried Andres at last: "let us try it for some length, then we shall see who wins."

"As thou wilt," said Mary; "only to the brook we must not run."

"No," said Andres; "but there, on the hill, stands the large pear-tree, a quarter of a mile from this. I shall run by the left, round past the fir-ground; thou canst try it by the right over the fields; so we do not meet till we get up, and then we shall see which of us is swifter."

"Done," cried Mary, and began to run; "for we shall not mar one another by the way, and my father says it is as far to the hill by that side of the Gipsies' house as by this."

Andres had already started, and Mary, turning to the right, could no longer see him. "It is very silly," said she to herself: "I have only to take heart, and run along the bridge, past the hut, and through the yard, and I shall certainly be first." She was already standing by the brook and the clump of firs. "Shall I? No; it is too frightful," said she. A little white dog was standing on the farther side, and barking with might and main. In her terror, Mary thought the dog some monster, and sprang back. "Fy! fy!" said she: "the dolt is gone half way by this time, while I stand here considering." The little dog kept barking, and, as she looked at it more narrowly, it seemed no longer frightful, but, on the contrary, quite pretty: it had a red collar round its neck, with a glittering bell; and as it raised its head, and shook itself in barking, the little bell sounded with the finest[Pg 223] tinkle. "Well, I must risk it!" cried she: "I will run for life; quick, quick, I am through; certainly to Heaven, they cannot eat me up alive in half a minute!" And with this, the gay, courageous little Mary sprang along the footbridge; passed the dog, which ceased its barking and began to fawn on her; and in a moment she was standing on the other bank, and the black firs all round concealed from view her father's house, and the rest of the landscape.

But what was her astonishment when here! The loveliest, most variegated flower-garden, lay round her; tulips, roses and lilies were glittering in the fairest colours; blue and gold-red butterflies were wavering in the blossoms; cages of shining wire were hung on the espaliers, with many-coloured birds in them, singing beautiful songs; and children, in short white frocks, with flowing yellow hair and brilliant eyes, were frolicking about; some playing with lambkins, some feeding the birds, or gathering flowers, and giving them to one another; some, again, were eating cherries, grapes and ruddy apricots. No hut was to be seen; but instead of it, a large fair house, with a brazen door and lofty statues, stood glancing in the middle of the space. Mary was confounded with surprise, and knew not what to think; but, not being bashful, she went right up to the first of the children, held out her hand, and wished the little creature good-even.

"Art thou come to visit us, then?" said the glittering child; "I saw thee running, playing on the other side, but thou wert frightened at our little dog."

"So you are not gipsies and rogues," said Mary, "as Andres always told me? He is a stupid thing, and talks of much he does not understand."

"Stay with us," said the strange little girl; "thou wilt like it well."

"But we are running a race."

"Thou wilt find thy comrade soon enough. There, take and eat."

Mary ate, and found the fruit more sweet than any she had ever tasted in her life before; and Andres, and the race, and the prohibition of her parents, were entirely forgotten.

A stately woman, in a shining robe, came towards them, and asked about the stranger child. "Fairest lady," said Mary, "I came running hither by chance, and now they wish to keep me."

"Thou art aware, Zerina," said the lady, "that she can be[Pg 224] here but for a little while; besides, thou shouldst have asked my leave."

"I thought," said Zerina, "when I saw her admitted across the bridge, that I might do it; we have often seen her running in the fields, and thou thyself hast taken pleasure in her lively temper. She will have to leave us soon enough."

"No, I will stay here," said the little stranger; "for here it is so beautiful, and here I shall find the prettiest playthings, and store of berries and cherries to boot. On the other side it is not half so grand."

The gold-robed lady went away with a smile; and many of the children now came bounding round the happy Mary in their mirth, and twitched her, and incited her to dance; others brought her lambs, or curious playthings; others made music on instruments, and sang to it.

She kept, however, by the playmate who had first met her; for Zerina was the kindest and loveliest of them all. Little Mary cried and cried again: "I will stay with you forever; I will stay with you, and you shall be my sisters;" at which the children all laughed, and embraced her. "Now we shall have a royal sport," said Zerina. She ran into the Palace, and returned with a little golden box, in which lay a quantity of seeds, like glittering dust. She lifted of it with her little hand, and scattered some grains on the green earth. Instantly the grass began to move, as in waves; and, after a few moments, bright rose-bushes started from the ground, shot rapidly up, and budded all at once, while the sweetest perfume filled the place. Mary also took a little of the dust, and, having scattered it, she saw white lilies, and the most variegated pinks, pushing up. At a signal from Zerina, the flowers disappeared, and others rose in their room. "Now," said Zerina, "look for something greater." She laid two pine-seeds in the ground, and stamped them in sharply with her foot. Two green bushes stood before them. "Grasp me fast," said she; and Mary threw her arms about the slender form. She felt herself borne upwards; for the trees were springing under them with the greatest speed; the tall pines waved to and fro, and the two children held each other fast embraced, swinging this way and that in the red clouds of the twilight, and kissed each other; while the rest were climbing up and down the trunks with quick dexterity, pushing and teasing one another with loud laughter when they met; if any one fell down in the press, it flew through the air, and sank slowly and[Pg 225] surely to the ground. At length Mary was beginning to be frightened; and the other little child sang a few loud tones, and the trees again sank down, and set them on the ground as gradually as they had lifted them before to the clouds.

They next went through the brazen door of the palace. Here many fair women, elderly and young, were sitting in the round hall, partaking of the fairest fruits, and listening to glorious invisible music. In the vaulting of the ceiling, palms, flowers and groves stood painted, among which little figures of children were sporting and winding in every graceful posture; and with the tones of the music, the images altered and glowed with the most burning colours; now the blue and green were sparkling like radiant light, now these tints faded back in paleness, the purple flamed up, and the gold took fire; and then the naked children seemed to be alive among the flower-garlands, and to draw breath, and emit it through their ruby-coloured lips; so that by fits you could see the glance of their little white teeth, and the lighting up of their azure eyes.

From the hall, a stair of brass led down to a subterranean chamber. Here lay much gold and silver, and precious stones of every hue shone out between them. Strange vessels stood along the walls, and all seemed filled with costly things. The gold was worked into many forms, and glittered with the friendliest red. Many little dwarfs were busied sorting the pieces from the heap, and putting them in the vessels; others, hunchbacked and bandy-legged, with long red noses, were tottering slowly along, half-bent to the ground, under full sacks, which they bore as millers do their grain; and, with much panting, shaking out the gold-dust on the ground. Then they darted awkwardly to the right and left, and caught the rolling balls that were like to run away; and it happened now and then that one in his eagerness overset the other, so that both fell heavily and clumsily to the ground. They made angry faces, and looked askance, as Mary laughed at their gestures and their ugliness. Behind them sat an old crumpled little man, whom Zerina reverently greeted; he thanked her with a grave inclination of his head. He held a sceptre in his hand, and wore a crown upon his brow, and all the other dwarfs appeared to regard him as their master, and obey his nod.

"What more wanted?" asked he, with a surly voice, as the children came a little nearer. Mary was afraid, and did not speak; but her companion answered; they were only come to look about[Pg 226] them in the chambers. "Still your old child's tricks!" replied the dwarf: "Will there never be an end to idleness?" With this, he turned again to his employment, kept his people weighing and sorting the ingots; some he sent away on errands, some he chid with angry tones.

"Who is the gentleman?" said Mary.

"Our Metal-Prince," replied Zerina, as they walked along.

They seemed once more to reach the open air, for they were standing by a lake, yet no sun appeared, and they saw no sky above their heads. A little boat received them, and Zerina steered it diligently forwards. It shot rapidly along. On gaining the middle of the lake, the stranger saw that multitudes of pipes, channels and brooks, were spreading from the little sea in every direction. "These waters to the right," said Zerina, "flow beneath your garden, and this is why it blooms so freshly; by the other side we get down into the great stream." On a sudden, out of all the channels, and from every quarter of the lake, came a crowd of little children swimming up; some wore garlands of sedge and water-lily; some had red stems of coral, others were blowing on crooked shells; a tumultuous noise echoed merrily from the dark shores; among the children might be seen the fairest women sporting in the waters, and often several of the children sprang about some one of them, and with kisses hung upon her neck and shoulders. All saluted the strangers; and these steered onwards through the revelry out of the lake, into a little river, which grew narrower and narrower. At last the boat came aground. The strangers took their leave, and Zerina knocked against the cliff. This opened like a door, and a female form, all red, assisted them to mount. "Are you all brisk here?" inquired Zerina. "They are just at work," replied the other, "and happy as they could wish; indeed, the heat is very pleasant."

They went up a winding stair, and on a sudden Mary found herself in a most resplendent hall, so that as she entered, her eyes were dazzled by the radiance. Flame-coloured tapestry covered the walls with a purple glow; and when her eye had grown a little used to it, the stranger saw, to her astonishment, that, in the tapestry, there were figures moving up and down in dancing joyfulness; in form so beautiful, and of so fair proportions, that nothing could be seen more graceful; their bodies were as of red crystal, so that it appeared as if the blood were visible within them, flowing and playing in its courses. They[Pg 227] smiled on the stranger, and saluted her with various bows; but as Mary was about approaching nearer them, Zerina plucked her sharply back, crying: "Thou wilt burn thyself, my little Mary, for the whole of it is fire."

Mary felt the heat. "Why do the pretty creatures not come out," said she, "and play with us?"

"As thou livest in the Air," replied the other, "so are they obliged to stay continually in Fire, and would faint and languish if they left it. Look now, how glad they are, how they laugh and shout; those down below spread out the fire-floods everywhere beneath the earth, and thereby the flowers, and fruits, and wine, are made to flourish; these red streams again, are to run beside the brooks of water; and thus the fiery creatures are kept ever busy and glad. But for thee it is too hot here; let us return to the garden."

In the garden, the scene had changed since they left it. The moonshine was lying on every flower; the birds were silent, and the children were asleep in complicated groups, among the green groves. Mary and her friend, however, did not feel fatigue, but walked about in the warm summer night, in abundant talk, till morning.

When the day dawned, they refreshed themselves on fruit and milk, and Mary said: "Suppose we go, by way of change, to the firs, and see how things look there?"

"With all my heart," replied Zerina; "thou wilt see our watchmen too, and they will surely please thee; they are standing up among the trees on the mound." The two proceeded through the flower-garden by pleasant groves, full of nightingales; then they ascended a vine-hill; and at last, after long following the windings of a clear brook, arrived at the firs, and the height which bounded the domain. "How does it come," said Mary, "that we have to walk so far here, when without, the circuit is so narrow?"

"I know not," said her friend; "but so it is."

They mounted to the dark firs, and a chill wind blew from without in their faces; a haze seemed lying far and wide over the landscape. On the top were many strange forms standing; with mealy, dusty faces; their misshapen heads not unlike those of white owls; they were clad in folded cloaks of shaggy wool; they held umbrellas of curious skins stretched out above them; and they waved and fanned themselves incessantly with large bat's[Pg 228] wings, which flared out curiously beside the woollen roquelaures. "I could laugh, yet I am frightened," cried Mary.

"These are our good trusty watchmen," said her playmate; "they stand here and wave their fans, that cold anxiety and inexplicable fear may fall on every one that attempts to approach us. They are covered so, because without it is now cold and rainy, which they cannot bear. But snow, or wind, or cold air, never reaches down to us; here is an everlasting spring and summer: yet if these poor people on the top were not frequently relieved, they would certainly perish."

"But who are you, then?" said Mary, while again descending to the flowery fragrance; "or have you no name at all?"

"We are called the Elves," replied the friendly child; "people talk about us in the Earth, as I have heard."

They now perceived a mighty bustle on the green. "The fair Bird is come!" cried the children to them: all hastened to the hall. Here, as they approached, young and old were crowding over the threshold, all shouting for joy; and from within resounded a triumphant peal of music. Having entered, they perceived the vast circuit filled with the most varied forms, and all were looking upwards to a large Bird with glancing plumage, that was sweeping slowly round in the dome, and in its stately flight describing many a circle. The music sounded more gaily than before; the colours and lights alternated more rapidly. At last the music ceased; and the Bird, with a rustling noise, floated down upon a glittering crown that hung hovering in air under the high window, by which the hall was lighted from above. His plumage was purple and green, and shining golden streaks played through it; on his head there waved a diadem of feathers, so resplendent that they glanced like jewels. His bill was red, and his legs of a glancing blue. As he moved, the tints gleamed through each other, and the eye was charmed with their radiance. His size was as that of an eagle. But now he opened his glittering beak; and sweetest melodies came pouring from his moved breast, in finer tones than the lovesick nightingale gives forth; still stronger rose the song, and streamed like floods of Light, so that all, the very children themselves, were moved by it to tears of joy and rapture. When he ceased, all bowed before him; he again flew round the dome in circles, then darted through the door, and soared into the light heaven, where he shone far up like a red point, and then soon vanished from their eyes.

[Pg 229]

"Why are ye all so glad?" inquired Mary, bending to her fair playmate, who seemed smaller than yesterday.

"The King is coming!" said the little one; "many of us have never seen him, and whithersoever he turns his face, there is happiness and mirth; we have long looked for him, more anxiously than you look for spring when winter lingers with you; and now he has announced, by his fair herald, that he is at hand. This wise and glorious Bird, that has been sent to us by the King, is called Phœnix; he dwells far off in Arabia, on a tree, which there is no other that resembles on Earth, as in like manner there is no second Phœnix. When he feels himself grown old, he builds a pile of balm and incense, kindles it, and dies singing; and then from the fragrant ashes, soars up the renewed Phœnix with unlessened beauty. It is seldom he so wings his course that men behold him; and when once in centuries this does occur, they note it in their annals, and expect remarkable events. But now, my friend, thou and I must part; for the sight of the King is not permitted thee."

Then the lady with the golden robe came through the throng, and beckoning Mary to her, led her into a sequestered walk. "Thou must leave us, my dear child," said she; "the King is to hold his court here for twenty years, perhaps longer; and fruitfulness and blessings will spread far over the land, but chiefly here beside us; all the brooks and rivulets will become more bountiful, all the fields and gardens richer, the wine more generous, the meadows more fertile, and the woods more fresh and green; a milder air will blow, no hail shall hurt, no flood shall threaten. Take this ring, and think of us: but beware of telling any one of our existence; or we must fly this land, and thou and all around will lose the happiness and blessing of our neighbourhood. Once more, kiss thy playmate, and farewell." They issued from the walk; Zerina wept, Mary stooped to embrace her, and they parted. Already she was on the narrow bridge; the cold air was blowing on her back from the firs; the little dog barked with all its might, and rang its little bell; she looked round, then hastened over, for the darkness of the firs, the bleakness of the ruined huts, the shadows of the twilight, were filling her with terror.

"What a night my parents must have had on my account!" said she within herself, as she stept on the green; "and I dare not tell them where I have been, or what wonders I have witnessed,[Pg 230] nor indeed would they believe me." Two men passing by saluted her; and as they went along, she heard them say: "What a pretty girl! Where can she come from?" With quickened steps she approached the house: but the trees which were hanging last night loaded with fruit, were now standing dry and leafless; the house was differently painted, and a new barn had been built beside it. Mary was amazed, and thought she must be dreaming. In this perplexity she opened the door; and behind the table sat her father, between an unknown woman and a stranger youth. "Good God! Father," cried she, "where is my mother?"

"Thy mother!" said the woman, with a forecasting tone, and sprang towards her: "Ha, thou surely canst not—Yes, indeed, indeed thou art my lost, long-lost dear, only Mary!" She had recognised her by a little brown mole beneath the chin, as well as by her eyes and shape. All embraced her, all were moved with joy, and the parents wept. Mary was astonished that she almost reached to her father's stature; and she could not understand how her mother had become so changed and faded; she asked the name of the stranger youth. "It is our neighbour's Andres," said Martin. "How comest thou to us again, so unexpectedly, after seven long years? Where hast thou been? Why didst thou never send us tidings of thee?"

"Seven years!" said Mary, and could not order her ideas and recollections. "Seven whole years?"

"Yes, yes," said Andres, laughing, and shaking her trustfully by the hand; "I have won the race, good Mary; I was at the pear-tree and back again seven years ago, and thou, sluggish creature, art but just returned!"

They again asked, they pressed her; but remembering her instruction, she could answer nothing. It was they themselves chiefly that, by degrees, shaped a story for her: How, having lost her way, she had been taken up by a coach, and carried to a strange remote part, where she could not give the people any notion of her parents' residence; how she was conducted to a distant town, where certain worthy persons brought her up and loved her; how they had lately died, and at length she had recollected her birthplace, and so returned. "No matter how it is!" exclaimed her mother; "enough, that we have thee again, my little daughter, my own, my all!"

Andres waited supper, and Mary could not be at home in anything she saw. The house seemed small and dark; she felt[Pg 231] astonished at her dress, which was clean and simple, but appeared quite foreign; she looked at the ring on her finger, and the gold of it glittered strangely, enclosing a stone of burning red. To her father's question, she replied that the ring also was a present from her benefactors.

She was glad when the hour of sleep arrived, and she hastened to her bed. Next morning she felt much more collected; she had now arranged her thoughts a little, and could better stand the questions of the people in the village, all of whom came in to bid her welcome. Andres was there too with the earliest, active, glad, and serviceable beyond all others. The blooming maiden of fifteen had made a deep impression on him; he had passed a sleepless night. The people of the castle likewise sent for Mary, and she had once more to tell her story to them, which was now grown quite familiar to her. The old Count and his Lady were surprised at her good-breeding; she was modest, but not embarrassed; she made answer courteously in good phrases to all their questions; all fear of noble persons and their equipage had passed away from her; for when she measured these halls and forms by the wonders and the high beauty she had seen with the Elves in their hidden abode, this earthly splendour seemed but dim to her, the presence of men was almost mean. The young lords were charmed with her beauty.

It was now February. The trees were budding earlier than usual; the nightingale had never come so soon; the spring rose fairer in the land than the oldest men could recollect it. In every quarter, little brooks gushed out to irrigate the pastures and meadows; the hills seemed heaving, the vines rose higher and higher, the fruit-trees blossomed as they had never done; and a swelling fragrant blessedness hung suspended heavily in rosy clouds over the scene. All prospered beyond expectation: no rude day, no tempest injured the fruits; the wine flowed blushing in immense grapes; and the inhabitants of the place felt astonished, and were captivated as in a sweet dream. The next year was like its forerunner; but men had now become accustomed to the marvellous. In autumn, Mary yielded to the pressing entreaties of Andres and her parents; she was betrothed to him, and in winter they were married.

She often thought with inward longing of her residence behind the fir-trees; she continued serious and still. Beautiful as all that lay around her was, she knew of something yet more beautiful;[Pg 232] and from the remembrance of this, a faint regret attuned her nature to soft melancholy. It smote her painfully when her father and mother talked about the gipsies and vagabonds, that dwelt in the dark spot of ground. Often she was on the point of speaking out in defence of those good beings, whom she knew to be the benefactors of the land; especially to Andres, who appeared to take delight in zealously abusing them: yet still she repressed the word that was struggling to escape her bosom. So passed this year; in the next, she was solaced by a little daughter, whom she named Elfrida, thinking of the designation of her friendly Elves.

The young people lived with Martin and Brigitta, the house being large enough for all; and helped their parents in conducting their now extended husbandry. The little Elfrida soon displayed peculiar faculties and gifts; for she could walk at a very early age, and could speak perfectly before she was a twelvemonth old; and after some few years, she had become so wise and clever, and of such wondrous beauty, that all people regarded her with astonishment; and her mother could not keep away the thought that her child resembled one of those shining little ones in the space behind the Firs. Elfrida cared not to be with other children; but seemed to avoid, with a sort of horror, their tumultuous amusements; and liked best to be alone. She would then retire into a corner of the garden, and read, or work diligently with her needle; often also you might see her sitting, as if deep sunk in thought; or violently walking up and down the alleys, speaking to herself. Her parents readily allowed her to have her will in these things, for she was healthy, and waxed apace; only her strange sagacious answers and observations often made them anxious. "Such wise children do not grow to age," her grandmother, Brigitta, many times observed; "they are too good for this world; the child, besides, is beautiful beyond nature, and will never find its proper place on Earth."

The little girl had this peculiarity, that she was very loath to let herself be served by any one, but endeavoured to do everything herself. She was almost the earliest riser in the house; she washed herself carefully, and dressed without assistance: at night she was equally careful; she took special heed to pack up her clothes and washes with her own hands, allowing no one, not even her mother, to meddle with her articles. The mother humoured her in this caprice, not thinking it of any consequence. But what[Pg 233] was her astonishment, when, happening one holiday to insist, regardless of Elfrida's tears and screams, on dressing her out for a visit to the castle, she found upon her breast, suspended by a string, a piece of gold of a strange form, which she directly recognised as one of that sort she had seen in such abundance in the subterranean vault! The little thing was greatly frightened; and at last confessed that she had found it in the garden, and as she liked it much, had kept it carefully: she at the same time prayed so earnestly and pressingly to have it back, that Mary fastened it again on its former place, and, full of thoughts, went out with her in silence to the castle.

Sidewards from the farmhouse lay some offices for the storing of produce and implements; and behind these there was a little green, with an old grove, now visited by no one, as, from the new arrangement of the buildings, it lay too far from the garden. In this solitude Elfrida delighted most; and it occurred to nobody to interrupt her here, so that frequently her parents did not see her for half a day. One afternoon her mother chanced to be in these buildings, seeking for some lost article among the lumber; and she noticed that a beam of light was coming in, through a chink in the wall. She took a thought of looking through this aperture, and seeing what her child was busied with; and it happened that a stone was lying loose, and could be pushed aside, so that she obtained a view right into the grove. Elfrida was sitting there on a little bench, and beside her the well-known Zerina; and the children were playing, and amusing one another, in the kindliest unity. The Elf embraced her beautiful companion, and said mournfully: "Ah! dear little creature, as I sport with thee, so have I sported with thy mother, when she was a child; but you mortals so soon grow tall and thoughtful! It is very hard: wert thou but to be a child as long as I!"

"Willingly would I do it," said Elfrida; "but they all say, I shall come to sense, and give over playing altogether; for I have great gifts, as they think, for growing wise. Ah! and then I shall see thee no more, thou dear Zerina! Yet it is with us as with the fruit-tree flowers: how glorious the blossoming apple-tree, with its red bursting buds! It looks so stately and broad; and every one, that passes under it, thinks surely something great will come of it; then the sun grows hot, and the buds come joyfully forth; but the wicked kernel is already there, which pushes off and casts away the fair flower's dress; and now, in pain and waxing, it can[Pg 234] do nothing more, but must grow to fruit in harvest. An apple, to be sure, is pretty and refreshing; yet nothing to the blossom of spring. So is it also with us mortals: I am not glad in the least at growing to be a tall girl. Ah! could I but once visit you!"

"Since the King is with us," said Zerina, "it is quite impossible; but I will come to thee, my darling, often, often; and none shall see me either here or there. I will pass invisible through the air, or fly over to thee like a bird. O! we will be much, much together, while thou art still little. What can I do to please thee?"

"Thou must like me very dearly," said Elfrida, "as I like thee in my heart. But come, let us make another rose."

Zerina took the well-known box from her bosom, threw two grains from it on the ground; and instantly a green bush stood before them, with two deep-red roses, bending their heads, as if to kiss each other. The children plucked them smiling, and the bush disappeared. "O that it would not die so soon!" said Elfrida; "this red child, this wonder of the Earth!"

"Give it me here," said the little Elf; then breathed thrice upon the budding rose, and kissed it thrice. "Now," said she, giving back the rose, "it will continue fresh and blooming till winter."

"I will keep it," said Elfrida, "as an image of thee; I will guard it in my little room, and kiss it night and morning, as if it were thyself."

"The sun is setting," said the other; "I must home." They embraced again, and Zerina vanished.

In the evening, Mary clasped her child to her breast, with a feeling of alarm and veneration. She henceforth allowed the good little girl more liberty than formerly; and often calmed her husband, when he came to search for the child; which for some time he was wont to do, as her retiredness did not please him; and he feared that, in the end, it might make her silly, or even pervert her understanding. The mother often glided to the chink; and almost always found the bright Elf beside her child, employed in sport, or in earnest conversation.

"Wouldst thou like to fly?" inquired Zerina once.

"O well! How well!" replied Elfrida; and the fairy clasped her mortal playmate in her arms, and mounted with her from the ground, till they hovered above the grove. The mother, in alarm, forgot herself, and pushed out her head in terror to look after[Pg 235] them; when Zerina, from the air, held up her finger, and threatened yet smiled; then descended with the child, embraced her, and disappeared. After this, it happened more than once that Mary was observed by her; and every time, the shining little creature shook her head, or threatened, yet with friendly looks.

Often, in disputing with her husband, Mary had said in her zeal: "Thou dost injustice to the poor people in the hut!" But when Andres pressed her to explain why she differed in opinion from the whole village, nay from his Lordship himself; and how she could understand it better than the whole of them, she still broke off embarrassed, and became silent. One day, after dinner, Andres grew more violent than ever; and maintained that, by one means or another, the crew must be packed away, as a nuisance to the country; when his wife, in anger, said to him: "Hush! for they are benefactors to thee and to everyone of us."

"Benefactors!" cried the other, in astonishment: "These rogues and vagabonds?"

In her indignation, she was now at last tempted to relate to him, under promise of the strictest secrecy, the history of her youth: and as Andres at every word grew more incredulous, and shook his head in mockery, she took him by the hand, and led him to the chink; where, to his amazement, he beheld the glittering Elf sporting with his child, and caressing her in the grove. He knew not what to say; an exclamation of astonishment escaped him, and Zerina raised her eyes. On the instant she grew pale, and trembled violently; not with friendly, but with indignant looks, she made the sign of threatening, and then said to Elfrida: "Thou canst not help it, dearest heart; but they will never learn sense, wise as they believe themselves." She embraced the little one with stormy haste; and then, in the shape of a raven, flew with hoarse cries over the garden, towards the Firs.

In the evening, the little one was very still; she kissed her rose with tears; Mary felt depressed and frightened, Andres scarcely spoke. It grew dark. Suddenly there went a rustling through the trees; birds flew to and fro with wild screaming, thunder was heard to roll, the Earth shook, and tones of lamentation moaned in the air. Andres and his wife had not courage to rise; they shrouded themselves within the curtains, and with fear and trembling awaited the day. Towards morning, it grew calmer; and all was silent when the Sun, with his cheerful light, rose over the wood.

[Pg 236]

Andres dressed himself; and Mary now observed that the stone of the ring upon her finger had become quite pale. On opening the door, the sun shone clear on their faces, but the scene around them they could scarcely recognise. The freshness of the wood was gone; the hills were shrunk, the brooks were flowing languidly with scanty streams, the sky seemed gray; and when you turned to the Firs, they were standing there no darker or more dreary than the other trees. The huts behind them were no longer frightful; and several inhabitants of the village came and told about the fearful night, and how they had been across the spot where the gipsies had lived; how these people must have left the place at last, for their huts were standing empty, and within had quite a common look, just like the dwellings of other poor people: some of their household gear was left behind.

Elfrida in secret said to her mother: "I could not sleep last night; and in my fright at the noise, I was praying from the bottom of my heart, when the door suddenly opened, and my playmate entered to take leave of me. She had a travelling-pouch slung round her, a hat on her head, and a large staff in her hand. She was very angry at thee; since on thy account she had now to suffer the severest and most painful punishments, as she had always been so fond of thee; for all of them, she said, were very loath to leave this quarter."

Mary forbade her to speak of this; and now the ferryman came across the river, and told them new wonders. As it was growing dark, a stranger man of large size had come to him, and hired his boat till sunrise; and with this condition, that the boatman should remain quiet in his house, at least should not cross the threshold of his door. "I was frightened," continued the old man, "and the strange bargain would not let me sleep. I slipped softly to the window, and looked towards the river. Great clouds were driving restlessly through the sky, and the distant woods were rustling fearfully; it was as if my cottage shook, and moans and lamentations glided round it. On a sudden, I perceived a white streaming light, that grew broader and broader, like many thousands of falling stars; sparkling and waving, it proceeded forward from the dark Fir-ground, moved over the fields, and spread itself along towards the river. Then I heard a trampling, a jingling, a bustling, and rushing, nearer and nearer; it went forwards to my boat, and all stept into it, men and women, as it seemed, and children; and the tall stranger ferried them[Pg 237] over. In the river were by the boat swimming many thousands of glittering forms; in the air white clouds and lights were wavering; and all lamented and bewailed that they must travel forth so far, far away, and leave their beloved dwelling. The noise of the rudder and the water creaked and gurgled between whiles, and then suddenly there would be silence. Many a time the boat landed, and went back, and was again laden; many heavy casks, too, they took along with them, which multitudes of horrid-looking little fellows carried and rolled; whether they were devils or goblins, Heaven only knows. Then came, in waving brightness, a stately freight; it seemed an old man, mounted on a small white horse, and all were crowding round him. I saw nothing of the horse but its head; for the rest of it was covered with costly glittering cloths and trappings: on his brow the old man had a crown, so bright that, as he came across, I thought the sun was rising there, and the redness of the dawn glimmering in my eyes. Thus it went on all night; I at last fell asleep in the tumult, half in joy, half in terror. In the morning all was still; but the river is, as it were, run off, and I know not how I am to steer my boat in it now."

The same year there came a blight; the woods died away, the springs ran dry; and the scene, which had once been the joy of every traveller, was in autumn standing waste, naked and bald; scarcely showing here and there, in the sea of sand, a spot or two where grass, with a dingy greenness, still grew up. The fruit-trees all withered, the vines faded away, and the aspect of the place became so melancholy, that the Count, with his people, next year left the castle, which in time decayed and fell to ruins.

Elfrida gazed on her rose day and night with deep longing, and thought of her kind playmate; and as it drooped and withered, so did she also hang her head; and before the spring, the little maiden had herself faded away. Mary often stood upon the spot before the hut, and wept for the happiness that had departed. She wasted herself away like her child, and in a few years she too was gone. Old Martin, with his son-in-law, returned to the quarter where he had lived before.

[Pg 238]


The forenoon bells were sounding from the high cathedral. Over the wide square in front of it were men and women walking to and fro, carriages rolling along, and priests proceeding to their various churches. Ferdinand was standing on the broad stair, with his eyes over the multitude, looking at them as they came up to attend the service. The sunshine glittered on the white stones, all were seeking shelter from the heat. He alone had stood for a long time leaning on a pillar, amid the burning beams, without regarding them; for he was lost in the remembrances which mounted up within his mind. He was calling back his bygone life; and inspiring his soul with the feeling which had penetrated all his being, and swallowed up every other wish in itself. At the same hour, in the past year, had he been standing here, looking at the women and the maidens coming to mass; with indifferent heart, and smiling face, he had viewed the variegated procession; many a kind look had roguishly met his, and many a virgin cheek had blushed; his busy eye had observed the pretty feet, how they mounted the steps, and how the wavering robe fell more or less aside, to let the dainty little ankles come to sight. Then a youthful form had crossed the square: clad in black; slender, and of noble mien, her eyes modestly cast down before her, carelessly she hovered up the steps with lovely grace; the silken robe lay round that fairest of forms, and rocked itself as in music about the moving limbs; she was mounting the highest step, when by chance she raised her head, and struck his eye with a ray of the purest azure. He was pierced as if by lightning. Her foot caught the robe; and quickly as he darted towards[Pg 239] her, he could not prevent her having, for a moment, in the most charming posture, lain kneeling at his feet. He raised her; she did not look at him, she was all one blush; nor did she answer his inquiry whether she was hurt. He followed her into the church: his soul saw nothing but the image of that form kneeling before him, and that loveliest of bosoms bent towards him. Next day he visited the threshold of the church again; for him that spot was consecrated ground. He had been intending to pursue his travels, his friends were expecting him impatiently at home; but from henceforth his native country was here, his heart and its wishes were inverted. He saw her often, she did not shun him; yet it was but for a few separate and stolen moments; for her wealthy family observed her strictly, and still more a powerful and jealous bridegroom. They mutually confessed their love, but knew not what to do; for he was a stranger, and could offer his beloved no such splendid fortune as she was entitled to expect. He now felt his poverty; yet when he reflected on his former way of life, it seemed to him that he was passing rich; for his existence was rendered holy, his heart floated forever in the fairest emotion; Nature was now become his friend, and her beauty lay revealed to him; he felt himself no longer alien from worship and religion; and he now crossed this threshold, and the mysterious dimness of the temple, with far other feelings than in former days of levity. He withdrew from his acquaintances, and lived only to love. When he walked through her street, and saw her at the window, he was happy for the day. He had often spoken to her in the dusk of the evening; her garden was adjacent to a friend's, who, however, did not know his secret. Thus a year had passed away.

All these scenes of his new existence again moved through his remembrance. He raised his eyes; that noble form was even then gliding over the square; she shone out of the confused multitude like a sun. A lovely music sounded in his longing heart; and as she approached, he retired into the church. He offered her the holy water; her white fingers trembled as they touched his, she bowed with grateful kindness. He followed her, and knelt down near her. His whole heart was melting in sadness and love; it seemed to him as if, from the wounds of longing, his being were bleeding away in fervent prayers; every word of the priest went through him, every tone of the music poured new devotion into his bosom; his lips quivered, as the fair maiden[Pg 240] pressed the crucifix of her rosary to her ruby mouth. How dim had been his apprehension of this Faith and this Love before! The priest elevated the Host, and the bell sounded; she bowed more humbly, and crossed her breast; and, like a flash, it struck through all his powers and feelings, and the image on the altar seemed alive, and the coloured dimness of the windows as a light of paradise; tears flowed fast from his eyes, and allayed the swelling fervour of his heart.

The service was concluded. He again offered her the consecrated font; they spoke some words, and she withdrew. He stayed behind, in order to excite no notice; he looked after her till the hem of her garment vanished round the corner; and he felt like the wanderer, weary and astray, from whom, in the thick forest, the last gleam of the setting sun departs. He awoke from his dream, as an old withered hand slapped him on the shoulder, and some one called him by name.

He started back, and recognised his friend, the testy old Albert, who lived apart from men, and whose solitary house was open to Ferdinand alone: "Do you remember our engagement?" said the hoarse husky voice. "O yes," said Ferdinand: "and will you perform your promise today?"

"This very hour," replied the other, "if you like to follow me."

They walked through the city to a remote street, and there entered a large edifice. "Today," said the old man, "you must push through with me into my most solitary chamber, that we may not be disturbed." They passed through many rooms, then along some stairs; they wound their way through passages: and Ferdinand, who had thought himself familiar with the house, was now astonished at the multitude of apartments, and the singular arrangement of the spacious building; but still more that the old man, a bachelor, and without family, should inhabit it by himself, with a few servants, and never let out any part of the superfluous room to strangers. Albert at length unbolted the door, and said: "Now, here is the place." They entered a large high chamber, hung round with red damask, which was trimmed with golden listings; the chairs were of the same stuff; and, through heavy red silk curtains covering the windows, came a purple light. "Wait a little," said the old man, and went into another room. Ferdinand took up some books: he found them to contain strange unintelligible characters, circles and lines, with many curious[Pg 241] plates; and from the little he could read, they seemed to be works on alchemy; he was aware already that the old man had the reputation of a gold-maker. A lute was lying on the table, singularly overlaid with mother-of-pearl, and coloured wood; and representing birds and flowers in very splendid forms. The star in the middle was a large piece of mother-of-pearl, worked in the most skilful manner into many intersecting circular figures, almost like the centre of a window in a Gothic church. "You are looking at my instrument," said Albert, coming back; "it is two hundred years old: I brought it with me as a memorial of my journey into Spain. But let us leave all that, and do you take a seat."

They sat down beside the table, which was likewise covered with a red cloth; and the old man placed upon it something which was carefully wrapped up. "From pity to your youth," he began, "I promised lately to predict to you whether you could ever become happy or not; and this promise I will in the present hour perform, though you hold the matter only as a jest. You need not be alarmed; for what I purpose will take place without danger; no dread invocations shall be made by me, nor shall any horrid apparition terrify your senses. The business I am on may fail in two ways: either if you do not love so truly as you have been willing to persuade me; for then my labour is in vain, and nothing will disclose itself; or, if you shall disturb the oracle and destroy it by a useless question, or a hasty movement, should you leave your seat and dissipate the figure; you must therefore promise me to keep yourself quite still."

Ferdinand gave his word, and the old man unfolded from its cloths the packet he had placed on the table. It was a golden goblet, of very skilful and beautiful workmanship. Round its broad foot ran a garland of flowers, intertwined with myrtles, and various other leaves and fruits, worked out in high chasing with dim and with brilliant gold. A corresponding ring, but still richer, with figures of children, and wild little animals playing with them, or flying from them, wound itself about the middle of the cup. The bowl was beautifully turned; it bent itself back at the top as if to meet the lips; and within, the gold sparkled with a red glow. Old Albert placed the cup between him and the youth, whom he then beckoned to come nearer. "Do you not feel something," said he, "when your eye loses itself in this splendour?"

[Pg 242]

"Yes," answered Ferdinand, "this brightness glances into my inmost heart; I might almost say I felt it like a kiss in my longing bosom."

"It is right, then!" said the old man. "Now let not your eyes wander any more, but fix them steadfastly on the glittering of this gold, and think as intensely as you can of the woman whom you love."

Both sat quiet for a while, looking earnestly upon the gleaming cup. Ere long, however, Albert, with mute gestures, began, at first slowly, then faster, and at last in rapid movements, to whirl his outstretched finger in a constant circle round the glitter of the bowl. Then he paused, and recommenced his circles in the opposite direction. After this had lasted for a little, Ferdinand began to think he heard the sound of music; it came as from without, in some distant street, but soon the tones approached, they quivered more distinctly through the air; and at last no doubt remained with him that they were flowing from the hollow of the cup. The music became stronger, and of such piercing power, that the young man's heart was throbbing to the notes, and tears were flowing from his eyes. Busily old Albert's hand now moved in various lines across the mouth of the goblet; and it seemed as if sparks were issuing from his fingers, and darting in forked courses to the gold, and tinkling as they met it. The glittering points increased; and followed, as if strung on threads, the movements of his finger to and fro; they shone with various hues, and crowded more and more together till they joined in unbroken lines. And now it seemed as if the old man, in the red dusk, were stretching a wondrous net over the gleaming gold; for he drew the beams this way and that at pleasure, and wove up with them the opening of the bowl; they obeyed him, and remained there like a cover, wavering to and fro, and playing into one another. Having so fixed them, he again described the circle round the rim; the music then moved off, grew fainter and fainter, and at last died away. While the tones departed, the sparkling net quivered to and fro as in pain. In its increasing agitation it broke in pieces; and the beaming threads rained down in drops into the cup; but as the drops fell, there arose from them a ruddy cloud, which moved within itself in manifold eddies, and mounted over the brim like foam. A bright point darted with exceeding swiftness through the cloudy circle, and began to form the Image in the midst of it. On a sudden[Pg 243] there looked out from the vapour as it were an eye; over this came a playing and curling as of golden locks; and soon there went a soft blush up and down the shadow, and Ferdinand beheld the smiling face of his beloved, the blue eyes, the tender cheeks, the fair red mouth. The head waved to and fro; rose clearer and more visible upon the slim white neck, and nodded towards the enraptured youth. Old Albert still kept casting circles round the cup; and out of it emerged the glancing shoulders; and as the fair form mounted more and more from its golden couch, and bent in lovely kindness this way and that, the soft curved parted breasts appeared, and on their summits two loveliest rose-buds glancing with sweet secret red. Ferdinand fancied he felt the breath, as the beloved form bent waving towards him, and almost touched him with its glowing lips; in his rapture he forgot his promise and himself; he started up and clasped that ruby mouth to him with a kiss, and meant to seize those lovely arms, and lift the enrapturing form from its golden prison. Instantly a violent trembling quivered through the lovely shape; the head and body broke away as in a thousand lines; and a rose was lying at the bottom of the goblet, in whose redness that sweet smile still seemed to play. The longing young man caught it and pressed it to his lips; and in his burning ardour it withered and melted into air.

"Thou hast kept thy promise badly," said the old man, with an angry tone; "thou hast none but thyself to blame." He again wrapped up the goblet, drew aside the curtains, and opened a window: the clear daylight broke in; and Ferdinand, in sadness, and with many fruitless excuses, left old Albert still in anger.

In an agitated mood, he hastened through the streets of the city. Without the gate, he sat down beneath the trees. She had told him in the morning that she was to go that night, with some relations, to the country. Intoxicated with love, he rose, he sat, he wandered in the wood: that fair kind form was still before him, as it flowed and mounted from the glowing gold; he looked that she would now step forth to meet him in the splendour of her beauty, and again that loveliest image broke away in pieces from his eyes; and he was indignant at himself that, by his restless passion and the tumult of his senses, he should have destroyed the shape, and perhaps his hopes, forever.

As the walk, in the afternoon, became crowded, he withdrew deeper into the thickets; but he still kept the distant highway[Pg 244] in his eye; and every coach that issued from the gate was carefully examined by him.

The night approached. The setting sun was throwing forth its red splendour, when from the gate rushed out the richly gilded coach, gleaming with a fiery brightness in the glow of evening. He hastened towards it. Her eye had already seized him. Kindly and smilingly she leaned her glittering bosom from the window; he caught her soft salutation and signal; he was standing by the coach, her full look fell on his, and as she drew back to move away, the rose which had adorned her bosom flew out, and lay at his feet. He lifted it, and kissed it; and he felt as if it presaged to him that he should not see his loved one any more, that now his happiness had faded away from him forever.

Hurried steps were passing up stairs and down; the whole house was in commotion; all was bustle and tumult, preparing for the great festivities of the morrow. The mother was the gladdest and most active; the bride heeded nothing, but retired into her chamber to meditate upon her changing destiny. The family were still looking for their elder son, the captain, with his wife; and for two elder daughters, with their husbands: Leopold, the younger, was maliciously busied in increasing the disorder, and deepening the tumult; perplexing all, while he pretended to be furthering it. Agatha, his still unmarried sister, was in vain endeavouring to make him reasonable, and persuade him simply to do nothing, and to let the rest have peace; but her mother said: "Never mind him and his folly; for today a little more or less of it amounts to nothing; only this I beg of one and all of you, that as I have so much to think about already, you would trouble me with no fresh tidings, unless it be of something that especially concerns us. I care not whether any one have let some china fall, whether one spoon or two spoons are wanting, whether any of the stranger servants have been breaking windows; with all such freaks as these, I beg you would not vex me by recounting them. Were these days of tumult over, we will reckon matters; not till then."

"Bravely spoken, mother!" cried her son; "these sentiments are worthy of a governor. And if it chance that any of the maids should break her neck; the cook get tipsy, or set the chimney on[Pg 245] fire; the butler, for joy, let all the malmsey run upon the floor, or down his throat, you shall not hear a word of such small tricks. If, indeed, an earthquake were to overset the house! that, my dear mother, could not be kept secret."

"When will he leave his folly!" said the mother: "What must thy sisters think, when they find thee every jot as riotous as when they left thee two years ago?"

"They must do justice to my force of character," said Leopold, "and grant that I am not so changeable as they or their husbands, who have altered so much within these few years, and so little to their advantage."

The bridegroom now entered, and inquired for the bride. Her maid was sent to call her. "Has Leopold made my request to you, my dear mother?" said he.

"I did, forsooth!" said Leopold. "There is such confusion here among us, not one of them can think a reasonable thought."

The bride entered, and the young pair joyfully saluted one another. "The request I meant," continued the bridegroom, "is this: That you would not take it ill, if I should bring another guest into your house, which, in truth, is full enough already."

"You are aware yourself," replied the mother, "that extensive as it is, I could scarcely find another chamber."

"Notwithstanding, I have partly managed it already," cried Leopold; "I have had the large apartment furbished up."

"Why, that is quite a miserable place," replied the mother; "for many years it has been nothing but a lumber-room."

"But it is splendidly repaired," said Leopold; "and our friend, for whom it is intended, does not mind such matters, he desires nothing but our love. Besides, he has no wife, and likes to be alone; it is the very place for him. We have had enough of trouble in persuading him to come, and show himself again among his fellow-creatures."

"Not your dismal conjuror and gold-maker, certainly?" cried Agatha.

"No other," said the bridegroom, "if you will still call him so."

"Then do not let him, mother," said the sister. "What should a man like that do here? I have seen him on the street with Leopold, and I was positively frightened at his face. The old sinner, too, almost never goes to church; he loves neither God nor man; and it cannot come to good to bring such infidels[Pg 246] under the roof, on a solemnity like this. Who knows what may be the consequence!"

"To hear her talk!" said Leopold, in anger. "Thou condemnest without knowing him; and because the cut of his nose does not please thee, and he is no longer young and handsome, thou concludest him a wizard, and a servant of the Devil."

"Grant a place in your house, dear mother," said the bridegroom, "to our old friend, and let him take a part in our general joy. He seems, my dear Agatha, to have endured much suffering, which has rendered him distrustful and misanthropic; he avoids all society, his only exceptions are Leopold and myself. I owe him much; it was he that first gave my mind a good direction; nay, I may say, it is he alone that has rendered me perhaps worthy of my Julia's love."

"He lends me all his books," continued Leopold; "and, what is more, his old manuscripts; and what is more still, his money, on my bare word. He is a man of the most christian turn, my little sister. And who knows, when thou hast seen him better, whether thou wilt not throw off thy coyness, and take a fancy to him, ugly as he now appears to thee?"

"Well, bring him to us," said the mother; "I have had to hear so much of him from Leopold already, that I have a curiosity to be acquainted with him. Only you must answer for it, that I cannot lodge him better."

Meantime strangers were announced. They were members of the family, the married daughters, and the officer; they had brought their children with them. The good old lady was delighted to behold her grandsons; all was welcoming, and joyful talk; and Leopold and the bridegroom, having also given and received their greeting, went away to seek their ancient melancholic friend.

The latter lived most part of the year in the country, about a league from town; but he also kept a little dwelling for himself in a garden near the gate. Here, by chance, the young men had become acquainted with him. They now found him in a coffee-house, where they had previously agreed to meet. As the evening had come on, they brought him, after some little conversation, directly to the house.

The stranger met a kindly welcome from the mother; the daughters stood a little more aloof from him. Agatha especially was shy, and carefully avoided his looks. But the first general[Pg 247] compliments were scarcely over, when the old man's eye appeared to settle on the bride, who had entered the apartment later; he seemed as if transported, and it was observed that he was struggling to conceal a tear. The bridegroom rejoiced in his joy, and happening sometime after to be standing with him by a side at the window, he took his hand, and asked him: "Now, what think you of my lovely Julia? Is she not an angel?"

"O my friend!" replied the old man, with emotion, "such grace and beauty I have never seen; or rather, I should say (for that expression was not just), she is so fair, so ravishing, so heavenly, that I feel as if I had long known her; as if she were to me, utter stranger though she is, the most familiar form of my imagination, some shape which had always been an inmate of my heart."

"I understand you," said the young man: "yes, the truly beautiful, the great and sublime, when it overpowers us with astonishment and admiration, still does not surprise us as a thing foreign, never heard of, never seen; but, on the other hand, our own inmost nature in such moments becomes clear to us, our deepest remembrances are awakened, our dearest feelings made alive."

The stranger, during supper, mixed but little in the conversation; his looks were fixed on the bride, so earnestly and constantly, that she at last became embarrassed and alarmed. The captain told of a campaign which he had served in; the rich merchant of his speculations and the bad times; the country gentleman of the improvements which he meant to make in his estate.

Supper being done, the bridegroom took his leave, returning for the last time to his lonely chamber; for in future it was settled that the married pair were to live in the mother's house, their chambers were already furnished. The company dispersed, and Leopold conducted the stranger to his room. "You will excuse us," said he, as they went along, "for having been obliged to lodge you rather far away, and not so comfortably as our mother wished; but you see, yourself, how numerous our family is, and more relations are to come tomorrow. For one thing, you will not run away from us; there is no finding of your course through this enormous house."

They went through several passages, and Leopold at last took leave, and bade his guest good-night. The servant placed two[Pg 248] wax-lights on the table; then asked the stranger whether he should help him to undress, and as the latter waived his help in that particular, he also went away, and the stranger found himself alone.

"How does it chance, then," said he, walking up and down, "that this Image springs so vividly from my heart today? I forgot the long past, and thought I saw herself. I was again young, and her voice sounded as of old; I thought I was awakening from a heavy dream; but no, I am now awake, and those fair moments were but a sweet delusion."

He was too restless to sleep; he looked at some pictures on the walls, and then round on the chamber. "Today," cried he, "all is so familiar to me, I could almost fancy I had known this house and this apartment of old." He tried to settle his remembrances, and lifted some large books which were standing in a corner. As he turned their leaves, he shook his head. A lute-case was leaning on the wall; he opened it, and found a strange old instrument, time-worn, and without the strings. "No, I am not mistaken!" cried he, in astonishment; "this lute is too remarkable; it is the Spanish lute of my long-departed friend, old Albert! Here are his magic books; this is the chamber where he raised for me that blissful vision; the red of the tapestry is faded, its golden hem is become dim; but strangely vivid in my heart is all pertaining to those hours. It was for this the fear went over me as I was coming hither, through these long complicated passages where Leopold conducted me. O Heaven! On this very table did the Shape rise budding forth, and grow up as if watered and refreshed by the redness of the gold. The same image smiled upon me here, which has almost driven me crazy in the hall tonight; in that hall where I have walked so often in trustful speech with Albert!"

He undressed, but slept very little. Early in the morning he was up, and looking at the room again; he opened the window, and the same gardens and buildings were lying before him as of old, only many other houses had been built since then. "Forty years have vanished," sighed he, "since that afternoon; and every day of those bright times has a longer life than all the intervening space."

He was called to the company. The morning passed in varied talk: at last the bride entered in her marriage-dress. As the old man noticed her, he fell into a state of agitation, such that every[Pg 249] one observed it. They proceeded to the church, and the marriage-ceremony was performed. The party was again at home, when Leopold inquired: "Now, mother, how do you like our friend, the good morose old gentleman?"

"I had figured him, by your description," said she, "much more frightful; he is mild and sympathetic, and might gain from one an honest trust in him."

"Trust?" cried Agatha; "in these burning frightful eyes, these thousandfold wrinkles, that pale sunk mouth, that strange laugh of his, which looks and sounds so mockingly? No; God keep me from such friends! If evil spirits ever take the shape of men, they must assume some shape like this."

"Perhaps a younger and more handsome one," replied the mother; "but I cannot recognise the good old man in thy description. One easily observes that he is of a violent temperament, and has inured himself to lock up his feelings in his own bosom; perhaps, too, as Leopold was saying, he may have encountered many miseries; so he is grown mistrustful, and has lost that simple openness, which is especially the portion of the happy."

The rest of the party entered, and broke off their conversation. Dinner was served up; and the stranger sat between Agatha and the rich merchant. When the toasts were beginning, Leopold cried out: "Now, stop a little, worthy friends; we must have the golden goblet down for this, then let it travel round."

He was rising, but his mother beckoned him to keep his seat: "Thou wilt not find it," said she, "for the plate is all stowed elsewhere." She walked out rapidly to seek it herself.

"How brisk and busy is our good old lady still!" observed the merchant. "See how nimbly she can move, with all her breadth and weight, and reckoning sixty by this time of day. Her face is always bright and joyful, and today she is particularly happy, for she sees herself made young again in Julia."

The stranger gave assent, and the lady entered with the goblet. It was filled with wine, and began to circulate, each toasting what was dearest and most precious to him. Julia gave the welfare of her husband, he the love of his fair Julia; and thus did every one as it became his turn. The mother lingered, as the goblet came to her.

"Come, quick with it," said the captain, somewhat hastily[Pg 250] and rudely; "we know, you reckon all men faithless, and not one among them worthy of a woman's love. What, then, is dearest to you?"

His mother looked at him, while the mildness of her brow was on a sudden overspread with angry seriousness. "Since my son," said she, "knows me so well, and can judge my mind so rigorously, let me be permitted not to speak what I was thinking of, and let him endeavour, by a life of constant love, to falsify what he gives out as my opinion." She pushed the goblet on, without drinking, and the company was for a while embarrassed and disturbed.

"It is reported," said the merchant, in a whisper, turning to the stranger, "that she did not love her husband; but another, who proved faithless to her. She was then, it seems, the finest woman in the city."

When the cup reached Ferdinand, he gazed upon it with astonishment; for it was the very goblet out of which old Albert had called forth to him the lovely shadow. He looked in upon the gold, and the waving of the wine; his hand shook; it would not have surprised him, if from the magic bowl that glowing Form had again mounted up, and brought with it his vanished youth. "No!" said he, after some time, half-aloud, "it is wine that is gleaming here!"

"Ay, what else?" cried the merchant, laughing: "Drink and be merry."

A thrill of terror passed over the old man; he pronounced the name "Francesca" in a vehement tone, and set the goblet to his lips. The mother cast upon him an inquiring and astonished look.

"Whence is this bright goblet?" said Ferdinand, who also felt ashamed of his embarrassment.

"Many years ago, long ere I was born," said Leopold, "my father bought it, with this house and all its furniture, from an old solitary bachelor; a silent man, whom the neighbours thought a dealer in the Black Art."

The stranger did not say that he had known this old man; for his whole being was too much perplexed, too like an enigmatic dream, to let the rest look into it, even from afar.

The cloth being withdrawn, he was left alone with the mother, as the young ones had retired to make ready for the ball. "Sit down by me," said the mother; "we will rest, for our dancing[Pg 251] years are past; and if it is not rude, allow me to inquire whether you have seen our goblet elsewhere, or what it was that moved you so intensely?"

"O my lady," said the old man, "pardon my foolish violence and emotion; but ever since I crossed your threshold, I feel as if I were no longer myself; every moment I forget that my head is gray, that the hearts which loved me are dead. Your beautiful daughter, who is now celebrating the gladdest day of her existence, is so like a maiden whom I knew and adored in my youth, that I could reckon it a miracle. Like, did I say? No, she is not like; it is she herself! In this house, too, I have often been; and once I became acquainted with this cup in a manner I shall not forget." Here he told her his adventure. "On the evening of that day," concluded he, "in the park, I saw my loved one for the last time, as she was passing in her coach. A rose fell from her bosom; this I gathered; she herself was lost to me, for she proved faithless, and soon after married."

"God in Heaven!" cried the lady, violently moved, and starting up, "thou art not Ferdinand?"

"It is my name," replied he.

"I am Francesca," said the lady.

They sprang forward to embrace, then started suddenly back. Each viewed the other with investigating looks: both strove again to evolve from the ruins of Time those lineaments which of old they had known and loved in one another; and as, in dark tempestuous nights, amid the flight of black clouds, there are moments when solitary stars ambiguously twinkle forth, to disappear next instant, so to these two was there shown now and then from the eyes, from the brow and lips, the transitory gleam of some well-known feature; and it seemed as if their Youth stood in the distance, weeping smiles. He bowed down, and kissed her hand, while two big drops rolled from his eyes. They then embraced each other cordially.

"Is thy wife dead?" inquired she.

"I was never married," sobbed the other.

"Heavens!" cried she, wringing her hands, "then it is I who have been faithless! But no, not faithless. On returning from the country, where I stayed two months, I heard from every one, thy friends as well as mine, that thou wert long ago gone home, and married in thy own country. They showed me the[Pg 252] most convincing letters, they pressed me vehemently, they profited by my despondency, my indignation; and so it was that I gave my hand to another, a deserving husband; but my heart and my thoughts were always thine."

"I never left this town," said Ferdinand; "but after a while I heard that thou wert married. They wished to part us, and they have succeeded. Thou art a happy mother; I live in the past, and all thy children I will love as if they were my own. But how strange that we should never once have met!"

"I seldom went abroad," said she; "and as my husband took another name, soon after we were married, from a property which he inherited, thou couldst have no suspicion that we were so near together."

"I avoided men," said Ferdinand, "and lived for solitude. Leopold is almost the only one that has attracted me, and led me out amongst my fellows. O my beloved friend, it is like a frightful spectre-story, to think how we lost, and have again found each other!"

As the young people entered, the two were dissolved in tears, and in the deepest emotion. Neither of them told what had occurred, the secret seemed too holy. But ever after, the old man was the friend of the house; and Death alone parted these two beings, who had found each other so strangely, to reunite them in a short time, beyond the power of separation.

[Pg 255]






This, I conceive, may be managed in two words.

The first word must relate to the Circular Letter of Army-chaplain Schmelzle, wherein he describes to his friends his Journey to the metropolitan city of Flätz; after having, in an Introduction, premised some proofs and assurances of his valour. Properly speaking, the Journey itself has been written purely with a view that his courageousness, impugned by rumour, may be fully evinced and demonstrated by the plain facts which he therein records. Whether, in the mean-time, there shall not be found certain quick-scented readers, who may infer, directly contrariwise, that his breast is not everywhere bomb-proof, especially in the left side: on this point I keep my judgment suspended.

[1] Prefatory Introduction to Richter, suprà, at p. 354, Vol. VI. of Works (Vol. I. of Miscellanies).

For the rest, I beg the judges of literature, as well as their satellites, the critics of literature, to regard this Journey, for whose literary contents I, as Editor, am answerable, solely in the light of a Portrait (in the French sense), a little Sketch of Character. It is a voluntary or involuntary comedy-piece, at which I have laughed so often, that I purpose in time coming to paint some similar Pictures of Character myself. And, for the present, when could such a little comic toy be more fitly imparted and set forth to the world, than in these very days, when the sound both of heavy money and of light laughter has died away from among us; when, like the Turks, we count and pay merely with sealed purses, and the coin within them has vanished?

Despicable would it seem to me, if any clownish squire of the goose-quill should publicly and censoriously demand of me, in what way this self-cabinet-piece of Schmelzle's has come into my hands? I know it well, and do not disclose it. This comedy-piece, for which I, at all events, as my Bookseller will testify, draw the profit myself, I got hold of so unblamably, that I await, with unspeakable composure, what the Army-chaplain shall please to say against the publication of it, in case he say anything at all. My conscience bears me witness, that I acquired this article, at least by more honourable methods than are those of the learned persons who steal with their ears, who, in the character of spiritual auditory-thieves, and classroom cutpurses and pirates, are in the habit of disloading their plundered Lectures, and vending them up and down the country as productions of their own. Hitherto, in my whole life, I have stolen little, except now and then in youth some—glances.

The second word must explain or apologise for the singular form of this little[Pg 256] Work, standing as it does on a substratum of Notes. I myself am not contented with it. Let the World open, and look, and determine, in like manner. But the truth is, this line of demarcation, stretching through the whole book, originated in the following accident: certain thoughts (or digressions) of my own, with which it was not permitted me to disturb those of the Army-chaplain, and which could only he allowed to fight behind the lines, in the shape of Notes, I, with a view to conveniency and order, had written down in a separate paper; at the same time, as will he observed, regularly providing every Note with its Number, and thus referring it to the proper page of the main Manuscript. But, in the copying of the latter, I had forgotten to insert the corresponding numbers in the Text itself. Therefore, let no man, any more than I do, cast a stone at my worthy Printer, inasmuch as he (perhaps in the thought that it was my way, that I had some purpose in it) took these Notes, just as they stood, pell-mell, without arrangement of Numbers, and clapped them under the Text; at the same time, by a praiseworthy artful computation, taking care at least, that, at the bottom of every page in the Text, there should some portion of this glittering Note-precipitate make its appearance. Well, the thing at any rate is done, nay perpetuated, namely printed. After all, I might almost partly rejoice at it. For, in good truth, had I meditated for years (as I have done for the last twenty) how to provide for my digression-comets new orbits, if not focal suns, for my episodes new epopees,—I could scarce possibly have hit upon a better or more spacious Limbo for such Vanities than Chance and Printer here accidentally offer me ready-made. I have only to regret, that the thing has been printed, before I could turn it to account. Heavens! what remotest allusions (had I known it before printing) might not have been privily introduced in every Text-page and Note-number; and what apparent incongruity in the real congruity between this upper and under side of the cards! How vehemently and devilishly might one not have cut aloft, and to the right and left, from these impregnable casemates and covered ways; and what læsio ultra dimidium (injury beyond the half of the Text) might not, with these satirical injuries, have been effected and completed!

But Fate meant not so kindly with me: of this golden harvest-field of satire I was not to be informed till three days before the Preface.

Perhaps, however, the writing world, by the little blue flame of this accident, may be guided to a weightier acquisition, to a larger subterranean treasure, than I, alas, have dug up! For, to the writer, there is now a way pointed out of producing in one marbled volume a group of altogether different works; of writing in one leaf, for both sexes at the same time, without confounding them, nay, for the five faculties all at once, without disturbing their limitations; since now, instead of boiling up a vile fermenting shove-together, fit for nobody, he has nothing to do but draw his note-lines or partition-lines; and so on his five-story leaf give board and lodging to the most discordant heads. Perhaps one might then read many a book for the fourth time, simply because every time one had read but a fourth part of it.

On the whole, this Work has at least the property of being a short one; so that the reader, I hope, may almost run through it, and read it at the bookseller's counter, without, as in the case of thicker volumes, first needing to buy it. And why, indeed, in this world of Matter should anything whatever be great, except only what belongs not to it, the world of Spirit?

Jean Paul Fr. Richter.

Bayreuth, in the Hay and Peace Month, 1807.

[Pg 257]


Circular Letter of the proposed Catechetical Professor Attila Schmelzle to his Friends; containing some Account of a Holidays' Journey to Flätz, with an Introduction, touching his Plight and his Courage as former Army-chaplain.

Nothing can be more ludicrous, my esteemed Friends, than to hear people stigmatising a man as cowardly and hare-hearted, who perhaps is struggling all the while with precisely the opposite faults, those of a lion; though indeed the African lion himself, since the time of Sparrmann's Travels, passes among us for a poltroon. Yet this case is mine, worthy Friends; and I purpose to say a few words thereupon, before describing my Journey.

You in truth are all aware that, directly in the teeth of this calumny, it is courage, it is desperadoes (provided they be not braggarts and tumultuous persons), whom I chiefly venerate; for example, my brother-in-law, the Dragoon, who never in his life bastinadoed one man, but always a whole social circle at the same time. How truculent was my fancy, even in childhood, when I, as the parson was toning away to the silent congregation, used to take it into my head: "How now, if thou shouldst start up from the pew, and shout aloud: I am here too, Mr. Parson!" and to paint out this thought in such glowing colours, that for very dread, I have often been obliged to leave the church! Anything like Rugenda's battle-pieces; horrid murder-tumults, sea-fights or Stormings of Toulon, exploding fleets; and, in my childhood, Battles of Prague on the harpsichord; nay, in short, every map of any remarkable scene of war: these are perhaps too much my favourite objects; and I read—and purchase nothing sooner; and doubtless, they might lead me into many errors, were it not that, my circumstances restrain me. Now, if it be objected that true courage is something higher than mere thinking and willing, then[Pg 258] you, my worthy Friends, will be the first to recognise mine, when it shall break forth into, not barren and empty, but active and effective words, while I strengthen my future Catechetical Pupils, as well as can be done in a course of College Lectures, and steel them into Christian heroes.

103: Good princes easily obtain good subjects; not so easily good subjects good princes: thus Adam, in the state of innocence, ruled over animals all tame and gentle, till simply through his means they fell and grew savage.

5: For a good Physician saves, if not always from the disease, at least from a bad Physician.

It is well known that, out of care for the preservation of my life, I never walk within at least ten fields of any shore full of bathers or swimmers; merely because I foresee to a certainty, that in case one of them were drowning, I should that moment (for the heart overbalances the head) plunge after the fool to save him, into some bottomless depth or other, where we should both perish. And if dreaming is the reflex of waking, let me ask you, true Hearts, if you have forgotten my relating to you dreams of mine, which no Cæsar, no Alexander or Luther, need have felt ashamed of? Have I not, to mention a few instances, taken Rome by storm; and done battle with the Pope, and the whole elephantine body of the Cardinal College, at one and the same time? Did I not once on horseback, while simply looking at a review of military, dash headlong into a bataillon quarré; and then capture, in Aix-la-Chapelle, the Peruke of Charlemagne, for which the town pays yearly ten reichsthalers of barber-money; and carrying it off to Halberstadt and Herr Gleim's, there in like manner seize the Great Frederick's Hat; put both Peruke and Hat on my head, and yet return home, after I had stormed their batteries, and turned the cannon against the cannoneers themselves? Did I not once submit to be made a Jew of, and then be regaled with hams; though they were ape-hams on the Orinocco (see Humboldt)? And a thousand such things; for I have thrown the Consistorial President of Flätz; out of the Palace window; those alarm-fulminators, sold by Heinrich Backofen in Gotha, at six groschen the dozen, and each going off like a cannon, I have listened to so calmly that the fulminators did not even awaken me; and more of the like sort.

But enough! It is now time briefly to touch that farther slander of my chaplainship, which unhappily has likewise gained some circulation in Flätz, but which, as Cæsar did Alexander, I shall now by my touch dissipate into dust. Be what truth in it[Pg 259] there can, it is still little or nothing. Your great Minister and General in Flätz (perhaps the very greatest in the world, for there are not many Schabackers) may indeed, like any other great man, be turned against me, but not with the Artillery of Truth; for this Artillery I here set before you, my good Hearts, and do you but fire it off for my advantage! The matter is this: Certain foolish rumours are afloat in the Flätz country, that I, on occasion of some important battles, took leg-bail (such is their plebeian phrase), and that afterwards, on the chaplain's being called-for to preach a Thanksgiving sermon for the victory, no chaplain whatever was to be found. The ridiculousness of this story will best appear, when I tell you that I never was in any action; but have always been accustomed, several hours prior to such an event, to withdraw so many miles to the rear, that our men, so soon as they were beaten, would be sure to find me. A good retreat is reckoned the masterpiece in the art of war; and at no time can a retreat be executed with such order, force and security, as just before the battle, when you are not yet beaten.

100: In books lie the Phœnix-ashes of a past Millennium and Paradise; but War blows, and much ashes are scattered away.

102: Dear Political or Religious Inquisitor! art thou aware that Turin tapers never rightly begin shining, till thou breakest them, and then they take fire?

It is true, I might perhaps, as expectant Professor of Catechetics, sit still and smile at such nugatory speculations on my courage; for if by Socratic questioning I can hammer my future Catechist Pupils into the habit of asking questions in their turn, I shall thereby have tempered them into heroes, seeing they have nothing to fight with but children—(Catechists at all events, though dreading fire, have no reason to dread light, since in our days, as in London illuminations, it is only the unlighted windows that are battered in; whereas, in other ages, it was with nations and light, as it is with dogs and water; if you give them none for a long time, they at last get a horror at it);—and on the whole, for Catechists, any park looks kindlier, and smiles more sweetly, than a sulphurous park of artillery; and the Warlike Foot, which the age is placed on, is to them the true Devil's cloven-foot of human nature.

But for my part I think not so: almost as if the party-spirit influence of my christian name, Attila, had passed into me more strongly than was proper, I feel myself impelled still farther to prove my courageousness; which, dearest Friends! I shall here[Pg 260] in a few lines again do. This proof I could manage by mere inferences and learned citations. For example, if Galen remarks that animals with large hind-quarters are timid, I have nothing to do but turn round, and show the enemy my back, and what is under it, in order to convince him that I am not deficient in valour, but in flesh. Again, if by well-known experiences it has been found that flesh-eating produces courage, I can evince, that in this particular I yield to no officer of the service; though it is the habit of these gentlemen not only to run up long scores of roast-meat with their landlords, but also to leave them unpaid, that so at every hour they may have an open document in the hands of the enemy himself (the landlord), testifying that they have eaten their own share (with some of other people's too), and so put common butcher's-meat on a War-footing, living not like others by bravery, but for bravery. As little have I ever, in my character of chaplain, shrunk from comparison with any officer in the regiment, who may be a true lion, and so snatch every sort of plunder, but yet, like this King of the Beasts, is afraid of fire; or who,—like King James of England, that scampered off at sight of drawn swords, yet so much the more gallantly, before all Europe, went out against the storming Luther with book and pen,[2]—does, from a similar idiosyncrasy, attack all warlike armaments, both by word and writing. And here I recollect with satisfaction a brave sub-lieutenant, whose confessor I was (he still owes me the confession-money), and who, in respect of stout-heartedness, had in him perhaps something of that Indian dog which Alexander had presented to him, as a sort of Dog-Alexander. By way of trying this crack dog, the Macedonian made various heroic or heraldic beasts be let loose against him: first a stag; but the dog lay still: then a sow; he lay still: then a bear; he lay still. Alexander was on the point of condemning him; when a lion was let forth: the dog rose, and tore the lion in pieces. So likewise the sub-lieutenant. A challenger, a foreign enemy, a Frenchman, are to him only stag, and sow, and bear, and he[Pg 261] lies still in his place; but let his oldest enemy, his creditor, come and knock at his gate, and demand of him actual smart-money for long bygone pleasures, thus presuming to rob him both of past and present; the sub-lieutenant rises, and throws his creditor down stairs. I, alas, am still standing by the sow; and thus, naturally enough, misunderstood.

86: Very true! In youth we love and enjoy the most ill-assorted friends, perhaps more than, in old age, the best-assorted.

128: In Love there are Summer Holidays; but in Marriage also there are Winter Holidays, I hope.

143: Women have weekly at least one active and passive day of glory, the holy day, the Sunday. The higher ranks alone have more Sundays than workdays; as in great towns, you can celebrate your Sunday on Friday with the Turks, on Saturday with the Jews, and on Sunday with yourself.

[2]The good Professor of Catechetics is out here. Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Schmelzlæus!Ed.

Quo, says Livy, xii. 5, and with great justice, quo timoris minus est, eo minus ferme periculi est, The less fear you have, the less danger you are likely to be in. With equal justice I invert the maxim, and say: The less the danger, the smaller the fear; nay, there may be situations, in which one has absolutely no knowledge of fear; and, among these, mine is to be reckoned. The more hateful, therefore, must that calumny about hare-heartedness appear to me.

To my Holidays' Journey I shall prefix a few facts, which prove how easily foresight—that is to say, when a person would not resemble the stupid marmot, that will even attack a man on horseback—may pass for cowardice. For the rest, I wish only that I could with equal ease wipe away a quite different reproach, that of being a foolhardy desperado; though I trust, in the sequel, I shall be able to advance some facts which invalidate it.

What boots the heroic arm, without a hero's eye? The former readily grows stronger and more nervous; but the latter is not so soon ground sharper, like glasses. Nevertheless, the merits of foresight obtain from the mass of men less admiration (nay, I should say, more ridicule) than those of courage. Whoso, for instance, shall see me walking under quite cloudless skies, with a wax-cloth umbrella over me, to him I shall probably appear ridiculous, so long as he is not aware that I carry this umbrella as a thunder-screen, to keep off any bolt out of the blue heaven (whereof there are several examples in the history of the Middle Ages) from striking me to death. My thunder-screen, in fact, is exactly that of Reimarus: on a long walking-stick, I carry the wax-cloth roof; from the peak of which depends a string of gold-lace as a conductor; and this, by means of a key fastened to it, which it trails along the ground, will lead off every possible bolt, and easily distribute it over the whole superficies of the Earth.[Pg 262] With this Paratonnerre Portatif in my hand, I can walk about for weeks, under the clear sky, without the smallest danger. This Diving-bell, moreover, protects me against something else; against shot. For who, in the latter end of Harvest, will give me black on white that no lurking ninny of a sportsman somewhere, when I am out enjoying Nature, shall so fire off his piece, at an angle of 45°, that in falling down again, the shot needs only light directly on my crown, and so come to the same as if I had been shot through the brain from a side?

21: Schiller and Klopstock are Poetic Mirrors held up to the Sun-god: the Mirrors reflect the Sun with such dazzling brightness, that you cannot find the Picture of the World imaged forth in them.

It is bad enough, at any rate, that we have nothing to guard us from the Moon; which at present is bombarding us with stones like a very Turk: for this paltry little Earth's trainbearer and errand-maid thinks, in these rebellious times, that she too must begin, forsooth, to sling somewhat against her Mother! In good truth, as matters stand, any young Catechist of feeling may go out o' nights, with whole limbs, into the moonshine, a-meditating; and ere long (in the midst of his meditation the villanous Satellite hits him) come home a pounded jelly. By heaven! new proofs of courage are required of us on every hand! No sooner have we, with great effort, got thunder-rods manufactured, and comet-tails explained away, than the enemy opens new batteries in the Moon, or somewhere else in the Blue!

Suffice one other story to manifest how ludicrous the most serious foresight, with all imaginable inward courage, often externally appears in the eyes of the many. Equestrians are well acquainted with the dangers of a horse that runs away. My evil star would have it, that I should once in Vienna get upon a hack-horse; a pretty enough honey-coloured nag, but old and hard-mouthed as Satan; so that the beast, in the next street, went off with me; and this in truth—only at a walk. No pulling, no tugging, took effect; I, at last, on the back of this Self-riding-horse, made signals of distress, and cried: "Stop him, good people, for God's sake stop him, my horse is off!" But these simple persons seeing the beast move along as slowly as a Reichshofrath law-suit, or the Daily Postwagen, could not in the least understand the matter, till I cried as if possessed: "Stop him[Pg 263] then, ye blockheads and joltheads; don't you see that I cannot hold the nag?" But now, to these noodles, the sight of a hard-mouthed horse going off with its rider step by step, seemed ridiculous rather than otherwise; half Vienna gathered itself like a comet-tail behind my beast and me. Prince Kaunitz, the best horseman of the century (the last), pulled up to follow me. I myself sat and swam like a perpendicular piece of drift-ice on my honey-coloured nag, which stalked on, on, step by step: a many-cornered, red-coated letter-carrier, was delivering his letters, to the right and left, in the various stories, and he still crossed over before me again, with satirical features, because the nag went along too slowly. The Schwanzschleuderer, or Train-dasher (the person, as you know, who drives along the streets with a huge barrel of water, and besplashes them with a leathern pipe of three ells long from an iron trough), came across the haunches of my horse, and, in the course of his duty, wetted both these and myself in a very cooling manner, though, for my part, I had too much cold sweat on me already, to need any fresh refrigeration. On my infernal Trojan Horse (only I myself was Troy, not beridden but riding to destruction), I arrived at Malzlein (a suburb of Vienna), or perhaps, so confused were my senses, it might be quite another range of streets. At last, late in the dusk, I had to turn into the Prater; and here, long after the Evening Gun, to my horror, and quite against the police-rules, keep riding to and fro on my honey-coloured nag; and possibly I might even have passed the night on him, had not my brother-in-law, the Dragoon, observed my plight, and so found me still sitting firm as a rock on my runaway steed. He made no ceremonies; caught the brute; and put the pleasant question: Why I had not vaulted, and come off by ground-and-lofty tumbling? though he knew full well, that for this a wooden-horse, which stands still, is requisite. However, he took me down; and so, after all this riding, horse and man got home with whole skins and unbroken bones.

But now at last to my Journey!

34: Women are like precious carved works of ivory; nothing is whiter and smoother, and nothing sooner grows yellow.

72: The Half-learned is adored by the Quarter-learned; the latter by the Sixteenth-part-learned; and so on; but not the Whole-learned by the Half-learned.

Journey to Flätz.

You are aware, my friends, that this Journey to Flätz was necessarily to take place in Vacation time; not only because the[Pg 264] Cattle-market, and consequently the Minister and General von Schabacker, was there then; but more especially, because the latter (as I had it positively from a private hand) did annually, on the 23d of July, the market-eve, about five o'clock, become so full of gaudium and graciousness, that in many cases he did not so much snarl on people, as listen to them, and grant their prayers. The cause of this gaudium I had rather not trust to paper. In short, my Petition, praying that he would be pleased to indemnify and reward me, as an unjustly deposed Army-chaplain, by a Catechetical Professorship, could plainly be presented to him at no better season, than exactly about five o'clock in the evening of the first dog-day. In less than a week, I had finished writing my Petition. As I spared neither summaries nor copies of it, I had soon got so far as to see the relatively best lying completed before me; when, to my terror, I observed, that, in this paper, I had introduced above thirty dashes, or breaks, in the middle of my sentences! Nowadays, alas, these stings shoot forth involuntarily from learned pens, as from the tails of wasps. I debated long within myself whether a private scholar could justly be entitled to approach a minister with dashes,—greatly as this level interlineation of thoughts, these horizontal note-marks of poetical music-pieces, and these rope-ladders or Achilles' tendons of philosophical see-pieces, are at present fashionable and indispensable: but, at last, I was obliged (as erasures may offend people of quality) to write my best proof-petition over again; and then to afflict myself for another quarter of an hour over the name Attila Schmelzle, seeing it is always my principle that this and the address of the letter, the two cardinal points of the whole, can never be written legibly enough.

35: Bien écouter c'est presque répondre, says Marivaux justly of social circles: but I extend it to round Councillor-tables and Cabinet-tables, where reports are made, and the Prince listens.

First Stage; from Neusattel to Vierstädten.

The 22d of July, or Wednesday, about five in the afternoon, was now, by the way-bill of the regular Post-coach, irrevocably fixed for my departure. I had still half a day to order my house; from which, for two nights and two days and a half, my breast, its breastwork and palisado, was now, along with my Self, to be withdrawn. Besides this, my good wife Bergelchen, as I call my Teutoberga, was immediately to travel after me, on Friday the[Pg 265] 24th, in order to see and to make purchases at the yearly Fair; nay, she was ready to have gone along with me, the faithful spouse. I therefore assembled my little knot of domestics, and promulgated to them the Household Law and Valedictory Rescript, which, after my departure, in the first place before the outset of my wife, and in the second place after this outset, they had rigorously to obey; explaining to them especially whatever, in case of conflagrations, house-breakings, thunder-storms, or transits of troops, it would behove them to do. To my wife I delivered an inventory of the best goods in our little Registership; which goods she, in case the house took fire, had, in the first place, to secure. I ordered her, in stormy nights (the peculiar thief-weather), to put our Eolian harp in the window, that so any villanous prowler might imagine I was fantasying on my instrument, and therefore awake: for like reasons, also, to take the house-dog within doors by day, that he might sleep then, and so be livelier at night. I farther counselled her to have an eye on the focus of every knot in the panes of the stable-window, nay, on every glass of water she might set down in the house; as I had already often recounted to her examples of such accidental burning-glasses having set whole buildings in flames. I then appointed her the hour when she was to set out on Friday morning to follow me; and recapitulated more emphatically the household precepts, which, prior to her departure, she must afresh inculcate on her domestics. My dear, heart-sound, blooming Berga answered her faithful lord, as it seemed very seriously: "Go thy ways, little old one; it shall all be done as smooth as velvet. Wert thou but away! There is no end of thee!" Her brother, my brother-in-law the Dragoon, for whom, out of complaisance, I had paid the coach-fare, in order to have in the vehicle along with me a stout swordsman and hector, as spiritual relative and bully-rock, so to speak; the Dragoon, I say, on hearing these my regulations, puckered up (which I easily forgave the wild soldier and bachelor) his sunburnt face considerably into ridicule, and said: "Were I in thy place, sister, I should do what I liked, and then afterwards take a peep into these regulation-papers of his."

17: The Bed of Honour, since so frequently whole regiments lie on it, and receive their last unction, and last honour but one, really ought from time to time to be new-filled, beaten and sunned.

120: Many a one becomes a free-spoken Diogenes, not when he dwells in the Cask, but when the Cask dwells in him.

3: Culture makes whole lands, for instance Germany, Gaul, and others, physically warmer, but spiritually colder.

[Pg 266]

"O!" answered I, "misfortune may conceal itself like a scorpion in any corner: I might say, we are like children, who, looking at their gaily painted toy-box, soon pull off the lid, and, pop! out springs a mouse who has young ones."

"Mouse, mouse!" said he, stepping up and down. "But, good brother, it is five o'clock; and you will find, when you return, that all looks exactly as it does today; the dog like the dog, and my sister like a pretty woman: allons donc!" It was purely his blame that I, fearing his misconceptions, had not previously made a sort of testament.

I now packed-in two different sorts of medicines, heating as well as cooling, against two different possibilities; also my old splints for arm or leg breakages, in case the coach overset; and (out of foresight) two times the money I was likely to need. Only here I could have wished, so uncertain is the stowage of such things, that I had been an Ape with cheek-pouches, or some sort of Opossum with a natural bag, that so I might have reposited these necessaries of existence in pockets which were sensitive. Shaving is a task I always go through before setting out on journeys; having a rational mistrust against stranger bloodthirsty barbers: but, on this occasion, I retained my beard; since, however close shaved, it would have grown again by the road to such a length that I could have fronted no Minister and General with it.

With a vehement emotion, I threw myself on the pith-heart of my Berga, and, with a still more vehement one, tore myself away: in her, however, this our first marriage-separation seemed to produce less lamentation than triumph, less consternation than rejoicing; simply because she turned her eye not half so much on the parting, as on the meeting, and the journey after me, and the wonders of the Fair. Yet she threw and hung herself on my somewhat long and thin neck and body, almost painfully, being indeed a too fleshy and weighty load, and said to me: "Whisk thee off quick, my charming Attel (Attila), and trouble thy head with no cares by the way, thou singular man! A whiff or two of ill luck we can stand, by God's help, so long as my father is no beggar. And for thee, Franz," continued she, turning with some heat to her brother, "I leave my Attel on thy soul: thou[Pg 267] well knowest, thou wild fly, what I will do, if thou play the fool, and leave him anywhere in the lurch." Her meaning here was good, and I could not take it ill: to you also, my Friends, her wealth and her open-heartedness are nothing new.

1: The more Weakness the more Lying: Force goes straight; any cannonball with holes or cavities in it goes crooked.

Melted into sensibility, I said: "Now, Berga, if there be a reunion appointed for us, surely it is either in Heaven or in Flätz; and I hope in God, the latter." With these words, we whirled stoutly away. I looked round through the back-window of the coach at my good little village of Neusattel, and it seemed to me, in my melting mood, as if its steeples were rising aloft like an epitaphium over my life, or over my body, perhaps to return a lifeless corpse. "How will it all be," thought I, "when thou at last, after two or three days, comest back?" And now I noticed my Bergelchen looking after us from the garret-window. I leaned far out from the coach-door, and her falcon eye instantly distinguished my head; kiss on kiss she threw with both hands after the carriage, as it rolled down into the valley. "Thou true-hearted wife," thought I, "how is thy lowly birth, by thy spiritual new-birth, made forgettable, nay remarkable!"

I must confess, the assemblage and conversational picnic of the stage-coach was much less to my taste: the whole of them suspicious, unknown rabble, whom (as markets usually do) the Flätz cattle-market was alluring by its scent. I dislike becoming acquainted with strangers: not so my brother-in-law, the Dragoon; who now, as he always does, had in a few minutes elbowed himself into close quarters with the whole ragamuffin posse of them. Beside me sat a person who, in all human probability, was a Harlot; on her breast, a Dwarf intending to exhibit himself at the Fair; on the other side was a Ratcatcher gazing at me; and a Blind Passenger,[3] in a red mantle, had joined us down in the valley. No one of them, except my brother-in-law, pleased me. That rascals among these people would not study me and my properties and accidents, to entangle me in their[Pg 268] snares, no man could be my surety. In strange places, I even, out of prudence, avoid looking long up at any jail-window; because some losel, sitting behind the bars, may in a moment call down out of mere malice: "How goes it, comrade Schmelzle?" or farther, because any lurking catchpole may fancy I am planning a rescue for some confederate above. From another sort of prudence, little different from this, I also make a point of never turning round when any booby calls, Thief! behind me.

38: Epictetus advises us to travel, because our old acquaintances, by the influence of shame, impede our transition to higher virtues; as a bashful man will rather lay aside his provincial accent in some foreign quarter, and then return wholly purified to his own countrymen: in our days, people of rank and virtue follow this advice, but inversely; and travel because their old acquaintances, by the influence of shame, would too much deter them from new sins.


'Live Passenger,' 'Nip;' a passenger taken up only by Jarvie's authority, and for Jarvie's profit.—Ed.

As to the Dwarf himself, I had no objection to his travelling with me whithersoever he pleased; but he thought to raise a particular delectation in our minds, by promising that his Pollux and Brother in Trade, an extraordinary Giant, who was also making for the Fair to exhibit himself, would by midnight, with his elephantine pace, infallibly overtake the coach, and plant himself among us, or behind on the outside. Both these noodles, it appeared, are in the habit of going in company to fairs, as reciprocal exaggerators of opposite magnitudes: the Dwarf is the convex magnifying-glass of the Giant, the Giant the concave diminishing-glass of the Dwarf. Nobody expressed much joy at the prospective arrival of this Anti-dwarf, except my brother-in-law, who (if I may venture on a play of words) seems made, like a clock, solely for the purpose of striking, and once actually said to me: "That if in the Upper world he could not get a soul to curry and towzle by a time, he would rather go to the Under, where most probably there would be plenty of cuffing and to spare." The Ratcatcher, besides the circumstance that no man can prepossess us much in his favour, who lives solely by poisoning, like this Destroying Angel of rats, this mouse-Atropos; and also, which is still worse, that such a fellow bids fair to become an increaser of the vermin kingdom, the moment he may cease to be a lessener of it; besides all this, I say, the present Ratcatcher had many baneful features about him: first, his stabbing look, piercing you like a stiletto; then the lean sharp bony visage, conjoined with his enumeration of his considerable stock of poisons; then (for I hated him more and more) his sly stillness, his sly smile, as if in some corner he noticed a mouse, as he would notice a man! To me, I declare, though usually I take not the slightest exception against people's[Pg 269] looks, it seemed at last as if his throat were a Dog-grotto, a Grotta del cane, his cheek-bones cliffs and breakers, his hot breath the wind of a calcining furnace, and his black hairy breast a kiln for parching and roasting.

32: Our Age (by some called the Paper Age, as if it were made from the rags of some better-dressed one) is improving in so far, as it now tears its rags rather into Bandages than into Papers; although, or because, the Rag-hacker (the Devil as they call it) will not altogether be at rest. Meanwhile, if Learned Heads transform themselves into Books, Crowned Heads transform and coin themselves into Government-paper: in Norway, according to the Universal Indicator, the people have even paper-houses; and in many good German States, the Exchequer Collegium (to say nothing of the Justice Collegium) keeps its own paper-mills, to furnish wrappage enough for the meal of its wind-mills. I could wish, however, that our Collegiums would take pattern from that Glass Manufactory at Madrid, in which (according to Baumgartner) there were indeed nineteen clerks stationed, but also eleven workmen.

Nor was I far wrong, I believe; for soon after this, he began quite coolly to inform the company, in which were a dwarf and a female, that, in his time, he had, not without enjoyment, run ten men through the body; had with great convenience hewed off a dozen men's arms; slowly split four heads, torn out two hearts, and more of the like sort; while none of them, otherwise persons of spirit, had in the least resisted: "but why?" added he, with a poisonous smile, and taking the hat from his odious bald pate: "I am invulnerable. Let any one of the company that chooses lay as much fire on my bare crown as he likes, I shall not mind it."

My brother-in-law, the Dragoon, directly kindled his tinder-box, and put a heap of the burning matter on the Ratcatcher's pole; but the fellow stood it, as if it had been a mere picture of fire, and the two looked expectingly at one another; and the former smiled very foolishly, saying: "It was simply pleasant to him, like a good warming-plaster; for this was always the wintry region of his body."

Here the Dragoon groped a little on the naked scull, and cried with amazement, that "it was as cold as a knee-pan."

But now the fellow, to our horror, after some preparations, actually lifted off the quarter-scull and held it out to us, saying: "He had sawed it off a murderer, his own having accidentally been broken;" and withal explained, that the stabbing and arm-cutting he had talked of was to be understood as a jest, seeing he had merely done it in the character of Famulus at an Anatomical Theatre. However, the jester seemed to rise little in favour with any of us; and for my part, as he put his brain-lid and sham-scull on again, I thought to myself; "This dungbed-bell has changed its place indeed, but not the hemlock it was made to cover."

[Pg 270]

Farther, I could not but reckon it a suspicious circumstance, that he as well as all the company (the Blind Passenger too) were making for this very Flätz, to which I myself was bound: much good I could not expect of this; and, in truth, turning home again would have been as pleasant to me as going on, had I not rather felt a pleasure in defying the future.

I come now to the red-mantled Blind Passenger; most probably an Emigré or Réfugié; for he speaks German not worse than he does French; and his name, I think, was Jean Pierre or Jean Paul, or some such thing, if indeed he had any name. His red cloak, notwithstanding this his identity of colour with the Hangman, would in itself have remained heartily indifferent to me, had it not been for this singular circumstance, that he had already five times, contrary to all expectation, come upon me in five different towns (in great Berlin, in little Hof, in Coburg, Meiningen and Bayreuth), and each of these times had looked at me significantly enough, and then gone his ways. Whether this Jean Pierre is dogging me with hostile intent or not, I cannot say; but to our fancy, at any rate, no object can be gratifying that thus, with corps of observation, or out of loopholes, holds and aims at us with muskets, which for year after year it shall move to this side and that, without our knowing on whom it is to fire. Still more offensive did Redcloak become to me, when he began to talk about his soft mildness of soul; a thing which seemed either to betoken pumping you or undermining you.

I replied: "Sir, I am just come, with my brother-in-law here, from the field of battle (the last affair was at Pimpelstadt), and so perhaps am too much of a humour for fire, pluck and war-fury; and to many a one, who happens to have a roaring waterspout of a heart, it may be well if his clerical character (which is mine) rather enjoins on him mildness than wildness. However, all mildness has its iron limit. If any thoughtless dog chance to anger me, in the first heat of rage I kick my foot through him; and after me, my good brother here will perhaps drive matters twice as far, for he is the man to do it. Perhaps it may be singular; but I confess I regret to this day, that once when a boy I received three blows from another, without tightly returning[Pg 271] them; and I often feel as if I must still pay them to his descendants. In sooth, if I but chance to see a child running off like a dastard from the weak attack of a child like himself, I cannot for my life understand his running, and can scarcely keep from interfering to save him by a decisive knock."

2: In his Prince, a soldier reverences and obeys at once his Prince and his Generalissimo; a Citizen only his Prince.

The Passenger meanwhile was smiling, not in the best fashion. He gave himself out for a Legations-Rath, and seemed fox enough for such a post; but a mad fox will, in the long-run, bite me as rabidly as a mad wolf will. For the rest, I calmly went on with my eulogy on courage; only that, instead of ludicrous gasconading, which directly betrays the coward, I purposely expressed myself in words at once cool, clear and firm.

"I am altogether for Montaigne's advice," said I: "Fear nothing but fear."

"I again," replied the Legations-man, with useless wire-drawing, "I should fear again that I did not sufficiently fear fear, but continued too dastardly."

"To this fear also," replied I coldly, "I set limits. A man, for instance, may not in the least believe in, or be afraid of ghosts; and yet by night may bathe himself in cold sweat, and this purely out of terror at the dreadful fright he should be in (especially with what whiffs of apoplexies, falling-sicknesses and so forth, he might be visited), in case simply his own too vivid fancy should create any wild fever-image, and hang it up in the air before him."

"One should not, therefore," added my brother-in-law the Dragoon, contrary to his custom, moralising a little, "one should not bamboozle the poor sheep, man, with any ghost-tricks; the hen-heart may die on the spot."

A loud storm of thunder, overtaking the stage-coach, altered the discourse. You, my Friends, knowing me as a man not quite destitute of some tincture of Natural Philosophy, will easily guess my precautions against thunder. I place myself on a chair in the middle of the room (often, when suspicious clouds are out, I stay whole nights on it), and by careful removal of all conductors, rings, buckles, and so forth, I here sit thunder-proof, and listen with a cool spirit to this elemental music of the cloud-kettledrum. These precautions have never harmed me, for I am still alive at[Pg 272] this date; and to the present hour I congratulate myself on once hurrying out of church, though I had confessed but the day previous; and running, without more ceremony, and before I had received the sacrament, into the charnel-house, because a heavy thunder-cloud (which did, in fact, strike the churchyard linden-tree) was hovering over it. So soon as the cloud had disloaded itself, I returned from the charnel-house into the church, and was happy enough to come in after the Hangman (usually the last), and so still participate in the Feast of Love.

45: Our present writers shrug their shoulders most at those on whose shoulders they stand; and exalt those most who crawl up along them.

Such, for my own part, is my manner of proceeding: but in the full stage-coach I met with men to whom Natural Philosophy was no philosophy at all. For when the clouds gathered dreadfully together over our coach-canopy, and sparkling, began to play through the air like so many fire-flies, and I at last could not but request that the sweating coach-conclave would at least bring out their watches, rings, money and suchlike, and put them all into one of the carriage-pockets, that none of us might have a conductor on his body; not only would no one of them do it, but my own brother-in-law the Dragoon even sprang out, with naked drawn sword, to the coach-box, and swore that he would conduct the thunder all away himself. Nor do I know whether this desperate mortal was not acting prudently; for our position within was frightful, and any one of us might every moment be a dead man. At last, to crown all, I got into a half altercation with two of the rude members of our leathern household, the Poisoner and the Harlot; seeing, by their questions, they almost gave me to understand that, in our conversational picnic, especially with the Blind Passenger, I had not always come off with the best share. Such an imputation wounds your honour to the quick; and in my breast there was a thunder louder than that above us: however, I was obliged to carry on the needful exchange of sharp words as quietly and slowly as possible; and I quarrelled softly, and in a low tone, lest in the end a whole coachful of people, set in arms against each other, might get into heat and perspiration; and so, by vapour steaming through the coach-roof, conduct the too-near thunderbolt down into the midst of us. At last, I laid before the[Pg 273] company the whole theory of Electricity, in clear words, but low and slow (striving to avoid all emission of vapour); and especially endeavoured to frighten them away from fear. For indeed, through fear, the stroke—nay two strokes, the electric or the apoplectic—might hit any one of us; since in Erxleben and Reimarus, it is sufficiently proved, that violent fear, by the transpiration it causes, may attract the lightning. I accordingly, in some fear of my own and other people's fear, represented to the passengers that now, in a coach so hot and crowded, with a drawn sword on the coach-box piercing the very lightning, with the thunder-cloud hanging over us, and even with so many transpirations from incipient fear; in short, with such visible danger on every hand, they must absolutely fear nothing, if they would not, all and sundry, be smitten to death in a few minutes.

103: The Great perhaps take as good charge of their posterity as the Ants: the eggs once laid, the male and female Ants fly about their business, and confide them to the trusty working-Ants.

10: And does Life offer us, in regard to our ideal hopes and purposes, anything but a prosaic, unrhymed, unmetrical Translation?

"O Heaven!" cried I, "Courage! only courage! No fear, not even fear of fear! Would you have Providence to shoot you here sitting, like so many hares hunted into a pinfold? Fear, if you like, when you are out of the coach; fear to your heart's content in other places, where there is less to be afraid of; only not here, not here!"

I shall not determine—since among millions scarcely one man dies by thunder-clouds, but millions perhaps by snow-clouds, and rain-clouds, and thin mist—whether my Coach-sermon could have made any claim to a prize for man-saving; however, at last, all uninjured, and driving towards a rainbow, we entered the town of Vierstädten, where dwelt a Postmaster, in the only street which the place had.

Second Stage; from Vierstädten to Niederschöna.

The Postmaster was a churl and a striker; a class of mortals whom I inexpressibly detest, as my fancy always whispers to me, in their presence, that by accident or dislike I might happen to put on a scornful or impertinent look, and hound these mastiffs on my own throat; and so, from the very first, I must incessantly watch them. Happily, in this case (supposing I even had[Pg 274] made a wrong face), I could have shielded myself with the Dragoon; for whose giant force such matter are a tidbit. This brother-in-law of mine, for example, cannot pass any tavern where he hears a sound of battle, without entering, and, as he crosses the threshold, shouting: "Peace, dogs!"—and therewith, under show of a peace-deputation, he directly snatches up the first chair-leg in his hand, as if it were an American peace-calumet, and cuts to the right and left among the belligerent powers, or he gnashes the hard heads of the parties together (he himself takes no side), catching each by the hind-lock; in such cases the rogue is in Heaven!

78: Our German frame of Government, cased in its harness, had much difficulty in moving, for the same reason why Beetles cannot fly, when their wings have wing-shells, of very sufficient strength, and—grown together.

8: Constitutions of Government are like highways: on a new and quite untrodden one, where every carriage helps in the process of bruising and smoothing, you are as much jolted and pitched as on an old worn-out one, full of holes? What is to be done then? Travel on.

I, for my part, rather avoid discrepant circles than seek them; as I likewise avoid all dead or killed people: the prudent man easily foresees what is to be got by them; either vexatious and injurious witnessing, or often even (when circumstances conspire) painful investigation, and suspicions of your being an accomplice.

In Vierstädten, nothing of importance presented itself, except—to my horror—a dog without tail, which came running along the town or street. In the first fire of passion at this sight, I pointed it out to the passengers, and then put the question, Whether they could reckon a system of Medical Police well arranged, which, like this of Vierstädten, allowed dogs openly to scour about, when their tails were wanting? "What am I to do," said I, "when this member is cut away, and any such beast comes running towards me, and I cannot, either by the tail being cocked up or being drawn in, since the whole is snipt off, come to any conclusion whether the vermin is mad or not? In this way, the most prudent man may be bit, and become rabid, and so make shipwreck purely for want of a tail-compass."

The Blind Passenger (he now got himself inscribed as a Seeing one, God knows for what objects) had heard my observation; which he now spun out in my presence almost into ridicule, and at last awakened in me the suspicion, that by an overdone flattery in imitating my style of speech, he meant to banter me. "The Dog-tail," said he, "is, in truth, an alarm-beacon, and finger-post for us, that we come not even into the outmost precincts of[Pg 275] madness: cut away from Comets their tails, from Bashaws theirs, from Crabs theirs (outstretched it denotes that they are burst); and in the most dangerous predicaments of life we are left without clew, without indicator, without hand in margine; and we perish, not so much as knowing how."

3: In Criminal Courts, murdered children are often represented as still-born; in Anticritiques, still-born as murdered.

101: Not only were the Rhodians, from their Colossus, called Colossians; but also innumerable Germans are, from their Luther, called Lutherans.

For the rest, this stage passed over without quarrelling or peril. About ten o'clock, the whole party, including even the Postillion, myself excepted, fell asleep. I indeed pretended to be sleeping, that I might observe whether some one, for his own good reasons, might not also be pretending it; but all continued snoring; the moon threw its brightening beams on nothing but down-pressed eyelids.

I had now a glorious opportunity of following Lavater's counsel, to apply the physiognomical ellwand specially to sleepers, since sleep, like death, expresses the genuine form in coarser lines. Other sleepers not in stage-coaches I think it less advisable to mete with this ellwand; having always an apprehension lest some fellow, but pretending to be asleep, may, the instant I am near enough, start up as in a dream, and deceitfully plant such a knock on the physiognomical mensurator's own facial structure, as to exclude it forever from appearing in any Physiognomical Fragments (itself being reduced to one), either in the stippled or line style. Nay, might not the most honest sleeper in the world, just while you are in hand with his physiognomical dissection, lay about him, spurred on by honour in some cudgelling-scene he may be dreaming; and in a few instants of clapper-clawing, and kicking, and trampling, lull you into a much more lasting sleep than that out of which he was awakened?

In my Adumbrating Magic-lantern, as I have named the Work, the whole physiognomical contents of this same sleeping stage-coach will be given to the world: there I shall explain to you at large how the Poisoner, with the murder-cupola, appeared to me devil-like; the Dwarf old-childlike; the Harlot languidly shameless; my Brother-in-law peacefully satisfied, with revenge or food; and the Legations-Rath, Jean Pierre, Heaven only[Pg 276] knows why, like a half angel,—though, perhaps, it might be because only the fair body, not the other half, the soul, which had passed away in sleep, was affecting me.

88: Hitherto I have always regarded the Polemical writings of our present philosophic and æsthetic Idealist Logic-buffers,—in which, certainly, a few contumelies, and misconceptions, and misconclusions do make their appearance,—rather on the fair side; observing in it merely an imitation of classical Antiquity, in particular of the ancient Athletes, who (according to Schottgen) besmeared their bodies with mud, that they might not be laid hold of; and filled their hands with sand, that they might lay hold of their antagonists.

I had almost forgotten to mention, that in a little village, while my Brother-in-law and the Postillion were sitting at their liquor, I happily fronted a small terror, Destiny having twice been on my side. Not far from a Hunting Box, beside a pretty clump of trees, I noticed a white tablet, with a black inscription on it. This gave me hopes that perhaps some little monumental piece, some pillar of honour, some battle memento, might here be awaiting me. Over an untrodden flowery tangle, I reach the black on white; and to my horror and amazement, I decipher in the moonshine: Beware of Spring-guns! Thus was I standing perhaps half a nail's breadth from the trigger, with which, if I but stirred my heel, I should shoot myself off like a forgotten ramrod, into the other world, beyond the verge of Time! The first thing I did was to cramp-down my toe-nails, to bite, and, as it were, eat myself into the ground with them; since I might at least continue in warm life so long as I pegged my body firmly in beside the Atropos-scissors and hangman's block, which lay beside me; then I endeavoured to recollect by what steps the fiend had let me hither unshot, but in my agony I had perspired the whole of it, and could remember nothing. In the Devil's village close at hand, there was no dog to be seen and called to, who might have plucked me from the water; and my Brother-in-law and the Postillion were both carousing with full can. However, I summoned my courage and determination; wrote down on a leaf of my pocket-book my last will, the accidental manner of my death, and my dying remembrance of Berga; and then, with full sails, flew helterskelter through the midst of it the shortest way; expecting at every step to awaken the murderous engine, and thus to clap over my still long candle of life the bonsoir, or extinguisher, with my own hand. However, I got off without shot. In the tavern, indeed, there was more than one fool to laugh at[Pg 277] me; because, forsooth, what none but a fool could know, this Notice had stood there for the last ten years, without any gun, as guns often do without any notice. But so it is, my Friends, with our game-police, which warns against all things, only not against warnings.

103: Or are all Mosques, Episcopal-churches, Pagodas, Chapels-of-Ease, Tabernacles and Pantheons, anything else than the Ethnic Forecourt of the Invisible Temple and its Holy of Holies?

40: The common man is copious only in narration, not in reasoning; the cultivated man is brief only in the former, not in the latter: because the common man's reasons are a sort of sensations, which, as well as things visible, he merely looks at; by the cultivated man, again, both reasons and things visible are rather thought than looked at.

For the rest, throughout the whole stage, I had a constant source of altercation with the coachman, because he grudged stopping perhaps once in the quarter of an hour, when I chose to come out for a natural purpose. Unhappily, in truth, one has little reason to expect water-doctors among the postillion class, since Physicians themselves have so seldom learned from Haller's large Physiology, that a postponement of the above operation will precipitate devilish stoneware, and at last precipitate the proprietor himself; this stone-manufactory being generally concluded, not by the Lithotomist, but by Death. Had postillions read that Tycho Brahe died like a bombshell by bursting, they would rather pull up for a moment; with such unlooked-for knowledge, they would see it to be reasonable that a man, though expecting some time to carry his death-stone on him, should not incline, for the time being, to carry it in him. Nay, have I not often, at Weimar, in the longest concluding scenes of Schiller, run out with tears in my eyes; purely that, while his Minerva was melting me on the whole, I might not by the Gorgon's head on her breast be partially turned to stone? And did I not return to the weeping playhouse, and fall into the general emotion so much the more briskly, as now I had nothing to give vent to but my heart?

Deep in the dark we arrived at Niederschöna.

Third Stage; from Niederschöna to Flätz.

While I am standing at the Posthouse musing, with my eye fixed on my portmanteau, comes a beast of a watchman, and bellows and brays in his night-tube so close by my ear, that I start back in trepidation, I whom even a too hasty accosting will vex. Is there no medical police, then, against such efflated hour fulminators and alarm-cannon, by which notwithstanding no gunpowder cannon are saved? In my opinion, nobody should be invested with the watchman-horn but some reasonable man, who[Pg 278] had already blown himself into an asthma, and who would consequently be in case to sing out his hour-verse so low, that you could not hear it.

9: In any national calamity, the ancient Egyptians took revenge on the god Typhon, whom they blamed for it, by hurling his favourites, the Asses, down over rocks. In similar wise have countries of a different religion now and then taken their revenge.

What I had long expected, and the Dwarf predicted, now took place: deeply stooping, through the high Posthouse door, issued the Giant, and raised, in the open air, a most unreasonably high figure, heightened by the ell-long bonnet and feather on his huge jobber-nowl. My Brother-in-law, beside him, looked but like his son of fourteen years; the Dwarf like his lap-dog waiting for him on its two hind legs. "Good friend," said my bantering Brother-in-law, leading him towards me and the stage-coach, "just step softly in, we shall all be happy to make room for you. Fold yourself neatly together, lay your head on your knee, and it will do." The unseasonable banterer would willingly have seen the almost stupid Giant (of whom he had soon observed that his brain was no active substance, but in the inverse ratio of his trunk) squeezed in among us in the post-chest, and lying kneaded together like a sand-bag before him. "Won't do! Won't do!" said the Giant, looking in. "The gentleman perhaps does not know," said the Dwarf, "how big the Giant is; and so he thinks that because I go in—But that is another story; I will creep into any hole, do but tell me where."

In short, there was no resource for the Postmaster and the Giant, but that the latter should plant himself behind, in the character of luggage, and there lie bending down like a weeping willow over the whole vehicle. To me such a back-wall and rear-guard could not be particularly gratifying: and I may refer it, I hope, to any one of you, ye Friends, if with such ware at your back, you would not, as clearly and earnestly as I, have considered what manifold murderous projects a knave of a Giant behind you, a pursuer in all senses, might not maliciously attempt; say, that he broke in and assailed you by the back-window, or with Titanian strength laid hold of the coach-roof and demolished the whole party in a lump. However, this Elephant (who indeed seemed to owe the similarity more to his overpowering mass than to his[Pg 279] quick light of inward faculty), crossing his arms over the top of the vehicle, soon began to sleep and snore above us; an Elephant, of whom, as I more and more joyfully observed, my Brother-in-law the Dragoon could easily be the tamer and bridle-holder, nay had already been so.

70: Let Poetry veil itself in Philosophy, but only as the latter does in the former. Philosophy in poetised Prose resembles those tavern drinking-glasses, encircled with parti-coloured wreaths of figures, which disturb your enjoyment both of the drink, and (often awkwardly eclipsing and covering each other) of the carving also.

As more than one person now felt inclined to sleep, but I, on the contrary, as was proper, to wake, I freely offered my seat of honour, the front place in the coach (meaning thereby to abolish many little flaws of envy in my fellow-passengers), to such persons as wished to take a nap thereon. The Legations-man accepted the offer with eagerness, and soon fell asleep there sitting, under the Titan.[4] To me this sort of coach-sleeping of a diplomatic chargé d'affaires remained a thing incomprehensible. A man that, in the middle of a stranger and often barbarously-minded company, permits himself to slumber, may easily, supposing him to talk in his sleep and coach (think of the Saxon minister[5] before the Seven-Years War!), blab out a thousand secrets, and crimes, some of which, perhaps, he has not committed. Should not every minister, ambassador, or other man of honour and rank, really shudder at the thought of insanity or violent fevers; seeing no mortal can be his surety that he shall not in such cases publish the greatest scandals, of which, it may be, the half are lies?


Titan is also the title of this Legations-Rath Jean Pierre or Jean Paul (Friedrich Richter)'s chief novel.—Ed.


Brühl, I suppose; but the historical edition of the matter is, that Brühl's treasonable secrets were come at by the more ordinary means of wax impressions of his keys.—Ed.

At last, after the long July night, we passengers, together with Aurora, arrived in the precincts of Flätz, I looked with a sharp yet moistened eye at the steeples: I believe, every man who has anything decisive to seek in a town, and to whom it is either to be a judgment-seat of his hopes, or their anchoring-station, either a battle-field or a sugar-field, first and longest directs his eye on the steeples of the town, as upon the indexes and balance-tongues of his future destiny; these artificial peaks, which, like natural ones, are the thrones of our Future. As I happened to express myself on this point perhaps too poetically to Jean Pierre, he answered, with sufficient want of taste: "The steeples of such towns are indeed the Swiss Alpine peaks, on which we milk and manufacture the Swiss cheese of our Future." Did the Legations-Peter mean with this style to make me ridiculous, or only himself? Determine!

[Pg 280]

"Here is the place, the town," said I in secret, "where today much and for many years is to be determined; where thou, this evening, about five o'clock, art to present thy petition and thyself: May it prosper! May it be successful! Let Flätz, this arena of thy little efforts among the rest, become a building-space for fair castles and air-castles to two hearts, thy own and thy Berga's!"

At the Tiger Inn I alighted.

First Day in Flätz.

No mortal, in my situation at this Tiger-hotel, would have triumphed much in his more immediate prospects. I, as the only man known to me, especially in the way of love (of the runaway Dragoon anon!), looked out from the windows of the overflowing Inn, and down on the rushing sea of marketers, and very soon began to reflect, that except Heaven and the rascals and murderers, none knew how many of the latter two classes were floating among the tide; purposing perhaps to lay hold of the most innocent strangers, and in part cut their purses, in part their throats. My situation had a special circumstance against it. My Brother-in-law, who still comes plump out with everything, had mentioned that I was to put up at the Tiger: O Heaven, when will such people learn to be secret, and to cover even the meanest pettinesses of life under mantles and veils, were it only that a silly mouse may as often give birth to a mountain, as a mountain to a mouse! The whole rabble of the stage-coach stopped at the Tiger; the Harlot, the Ratcatcher, Jean Pierre, the Giant, who had dismounted at the Gate of the town, and carrying the huge block-head of the Dwarf on his shoulders as his own (cloaking over the deception by his cloak), had thus, like a ninny, exhibited himself gratis by half a dwarf more gigantic than he could be seen for money.

158: Governments should not too often change the penny-trumps and child's-drums of the Poets for the regimental trumpet and fire-drum: on the other hand, good subjects should regard many a princely drum-tendency simply as a disease, in which the patient, by air insinuating under the skin, has got dreadfully swoln.

89: In great towns, a stranger, for the first day or two after his arrival, lives purely at his own expense in an inn; afterwards, in the houses of his friends, without expense: on the other hand, if you arrive at the Earth, as, for instance, I have done, you are courteously maintained, precisely for the first few years, free of charges; but in the next and longer series—for you often stay sixty—you are actually obliged (I have the documents in my hands) to pay for every drop and morsel, as if you were in the great Earth Inn, which indeed you are.

[Pg 281]

And now for each of the Passengers, the question was, how he could make the Tiger, the heraldic emblem of the Inn, his prototype; and so, what lamb he might suck the blood of, and tear in pieces, and devour. My Brother-in-law too left me, having gone in quest of some horse-dealer; but he retained the chamber next mine for his sister: this, it appeared, was to denote attention on his part. I remained solitary, left to my own intrepidity and force of purpose.

Yet among so many villains, encompassing if not even beleaguering me, I thought warmly of one far distant, faithful soul, of my Berga in Neusattel; a true heart of pith, which perhaps with many a weak marriage-partner might have given protection rather than sought it.

"Appear, then, quickly tomorrow at noon, Berga," said my heart; "and if possible before noon, that I may lengthen thy market paradise so many hours as thou arrivest earlier!"

A clergyman, amid the tempests of the world, readily makes for a free harbour, for the church: the church-wall is his casemate-wall and fortification; and behind are to be found more peaceful and more accordant souls than on the market-place: in short, I went into the High Church. However, in the course of the psalm, I was somewhat disturbed by a Heiduc, who came up to a well-dressed young gentleman sitting opposite me, and tore the double opera-glass from his nose, it being against rule in Flätz, as it is in Dresden, to look at the Court with glasses which diminish and approximate. I myself had on a pair of spectacles, but they were magnifiers. It was impossible for me to resolve on taking them off; and here again, I am afraid, I shall pass for a foolhardy person and a desperado; so much only I reckoned fit, to look invariably into my psalm-book; not once lifting my eyes while the Court was rustling and entering, thereby to denote[Pg 282] that my glasses were ground convex. For the rest, the sermon was good, if not always finely conceived for a Court-church; it admonished the hearers against innumerable vices, to whose counterparts, the virtues, another preacher might so readily have exhorted us. During the whole service, I made it my business to exhibit true deep reverence, not only towards God, but also towards my illustrious Prince. For the latter reverence I had my private reason: I wished to stamp this sentiment strongly and openly as with raised letters on my countenance, and so give the lie to any malicious imp about Court, by whom my contravention of the Panegyric on Nero, and my free German satire on this real tyrant himself, which I had inserted in the Flätz Weekly Journal, might have been perverted into a secret characteristic portrait of my own Sovereign. We live in such times at present, that scarcely can we compose a pasquinade on the Devil in Hell, but some human Devil on Earth will apply it to an angel.

107: Germany is a long lofty mountain—under the sea.

144: The Reviewer does not in reality employ his pen for writing; but he burns it, to awaken weak people from their swoons, with the smell; he tickles with it the throat of the plagiary, to make him render back; and he picks with it his own teeth. He is the only individual in the whole learned lexicon that can never exhaust himself, never write himself out, let him sit before the ink-glass for centuries or tens of centuries. For while the Scholar, the Philosopher, and the Poet, produce their new book solely from new materials and growth, the Reviewer merely lays his old gage of taste and knowledge on a thousand new works; and his light, in the ever-passing, ever-differently-cut glass-world which he elucidates, is still refracted into new colours.

When the Court at last issued from church, and were getting into their carriages, I kept at such a distance that my face could not possibly be noticed, in case I had happened to assume no reverent look, but an indifferent or even proud one. God knows, who has kneaded into me those mad desperate fancies and crotchets, which perhaps would sit better on a Hero Schabacker than on an Army-chaplain under him. I cannot here forbear recording to you, my Friends, one of the maddest among them, though at first it may throw too glaring a light on me. It was at my ordination to be Army-chaplain, while about to participate in the Sacrament, on the first day of Easter. Now, here while I was standing, moved into softness, before the balustrade of the altar, in the middle of the whole male congregation,—nay, I perhaps more deeply moved than any among them, since, as a person going to war, I might consider myself a half-dead man, that was now partaking in the last Feast of Souls, as it were like a person to be hanged on the morrow,—here then, amid the pathetic effects of the organ and singing, there rose something—were it the first Easter-day which awoke in me what primitive Christians called their Easter-laughter, or merely the contrast between the[Pg 283] most devilish predicaments and the most holy,—in short there rose something in me (for which reason, I have ever since taken the part of every simple person, who might ascribe such things to the Devil), and this something started the question: "Now, could there be aught more diabolical than if thou, just in receiving the Holy Supper, wert madly and blasphemously to begin laughing?" Instantly I took to wrestling with this hell-dog of a thought; neglected the most precious feelings, merely to keep the dog in my eye, and scare him away; yet was forced to draw back from him, exhausted and unsuccessful, and arrived at the step of the altar with the mournful certainty that in a little while I should, without more ado, begin laughing, let me weep and moan inwardly as I liked. Accordingly, while I and a very worthy old Bürgermeister were bowing down together before the long parson, and the latter (perhaps kneeling on the low cushion, I fancied him too long) put the wafer in my clenched mouth, I felt all the muscles of laughter already beginning sardonically to contract; and these had not long acted on the guiltless integument, till an actual smile appeared there; and as we bowed the second time, I was grinning like an ape. My companion the Bürgermeister justly expostulated with me, in a low voice, as we walked round behind the altar: "In Heaven's name, are you an ordained Preacher of the Gospel, or a Merry-Andrew? Is it Satan that is laughing out of you?"

71: The Youth is singular from caprice, and takes pleasure in it; the Man is so from constraint, unintentionally, and feels pain in it.

198: The Populace and Cattle grow giddy on the edge of no abyss; with the Man it is otherwise.

"Ah, Heaven! who else?" said I; and this being over, I finished my devotions in a more becoming fashion.

From the church (I now return to the Flätz one), I proceeded to the Tiger Inn, and dined at the table-d'hôte, being at no time shy of encountering men. Previous to the second course, a waiter handed me an empty plate, on which, to my astonishment, I noticed a French verse scratched-in with a fork, containing nothing less than a lampoon on the Commandant of Flätz. Without ceremony, I held out the plate to the company; saying, I had just, as they saw, got this lampooning cover presented to me, and must request them to bear witness that I had nothing[Pg 284] to do with the matter. An officer directly changed plates with me. During the fifth course, I could not but admire the chemico-medical ignorance of the company; for a hare, out of which a gentleman extracted and exhibited several grains of shot, that is to say, therefore, of lead alloyed with arsenic, and then cleaned by hot vinegar, did, nevertheless, by the spectators (I excepted) continue to be pleasantly eaten.

11: The Golden Calf of Self-love soon waxes to be a burning Phalaris' Bull, which reduces its father and adorer to ashes.

103: The male Beau-crop which surrounds the female Roses and Lilies, must (if I rightly comprehend its flatteries) most probably presuppose in the fair the manners of the Spaniards and Italians, who offer any valuable, by way of present, to the man who praises it excessively.

In the course of our table-talk, one topic seized me keenly by my weak side, I mean by my honour. The law custom of the city happened to be mentioned, as it affects natural children; and I learned that here a loose girl may convert any man she pleases to select into the father of her brat, simply by her oath. "Horrible!" said I, and my hair stood on end. "In this way may the worthiest head of a family, with a wife and children, or a clergyman lodging in the Tiger, be stript of honour and innocence, by any wicked chambermaid whom he may have seen, or who may have seen him, in the course of her employment!"

An elderly officer observed: "But will the girl swear herself to the Devil so readily?"

What logic! "Or suppose," continued I, without answer, "a man happened to be travelling with that Vienna Locksmith, who afterwards became a mother, and was brought to bed of a baby son; or with any disguised Chevalier d'Eon, who often passes the night in his company, whereby the Locksmith or the Chevalier can swear to their private interviews: no delicate man of honour will in the end risk travelling with another; seeing he knows not how soon the latter may pull off his boots, and pull on his women's-pumps, and swear his companion into fatherhood, and himself to the Devil!"

Some of the company, however, misunderstood my oratorical fire so much, that they, sheep-wise, gave some insinuations as if I myself were not strict in this point, but lax. By Heaven! I no longer knew what I was eating or speaking. Happily, on the[Pg 285] opposite side of the table, some lying story of a French defeat was started: now, as I had read on the street-corners that French and German Proclamation, calling before the Court Martial any one who had heard war-rumours (disadvantageous, namely), without giving notice of them,—I, as a man not willing ever to forget himself, had nothing more prudent to do in this case, than to withdraw with empty ears, telling none but the landlord why.

199: But not many existing Governments, I believe, do behead under pretext of trepanning; or sew (in a more choice allegory) the people's lips together, under pretence of sewing the harelips in them.

67: Hospitable Entertainer, wouldst thou search into thy guest? Accompany him to another Entertainer, and listen to him. Just so: Wouldst thou become better acquainted with Mistress in an hour, than by living with her for a month? Accompany her among her female friends and female enemies (if that is no pleonasm), and look at her!

It was no improper time; for I had previously determined to have my beard shaven about half-past four, that so, towards five I might present myself with a chin just polished by the razor smoothing-iron, and sleek as wove-paper, without the smallest root-stump of a hair left on it. By way of preparation, like Pitt before Parliamentary debates, I poured a devilish deal of Pontac into my stomach, with true disgust, and contrary to all sanitary rules; not so much for fronting the light stranger Barber, as the Minister and General von Schabacker, with whom I had it in view to exchange perhaps more than one fiery statement.

The common Hotel Barber was ushered in to me; but at first view you noticed in his polygonal zigzag visage, more of a man that would finally go mad, than of one growing wiser. Now, madmen are a class of persons whom I hate incredibly; and nothing can take me to see any madhouse, simply because the first maniac among them may clutch me in his giant fists if he like; and because, owing to infection, I cannot be sure that I shall ever get out again with the sense which I brought in. In a general way, I sit (when once I am lathered) in such a posture on my chair as to keep both my hands (the eyes I fix intently on the barbering countenance) lying clenched along my sides, and pointed directly at the midriff of the barber; that so, on the smallest ambiguity of movement, I may dash in upon him, and overset him in a twinkling.

I scarce know rightly how it happened; but here, while I am anxiously studying the foolish twisted visage of the shaver, and[Pg 286] he just then chanced to lay his long-whetted weapon a little too abruptly against my bare throat, I gave him such a sudden bounce on the abdominal viscera, that the silly varlet had well-nigh suicidally slit his own windpipe. For me, truly, nothing remained but to indemnify the man; and then, contrary to my usual principles, to tie round a broad stuffed cravat, by way of cloak to what remained unshorn.

80: In the summer of life, men keep digging and filling ice-pits as well as circumstances will admit; that so, in their Winter, they may have something in store to give them coolness.

28: It is impossible for me, amid the tendril-forest of allusions (even this again is a tendril-twig), to state and declare on the spot whether all the Courts or Heights, the (Bougouer) Snowline of Europe, have ever been mentioned in my Writings or not; but I could wish for information on the subject, that if not, I may try to do it still.

And now at last I sallied forth to the General, drinking out the remnant of the Pontac, as I crossed the threshold. I hope, there were plans lying ready within me for answering rightly, nay for asking. The Petition I carried in my pocket, and in my right hand. In the left I had a duplicate of it. My fire of spirit easily helped over the living fence of ministerial obstructions; and soon I unexpectedly found myself in the ante-chamber, among his most distinguished lackeys; persons, so far as I could see, not inclined to change flour for bran with any one. Selecting the most respectable individual of the number, I delivered him my paper request, accompanied with the verbal one that he would hand it in. He took it, but ungraciously: I waited in vain till far in the sixth hour, at which season alone the gay General can safely be applied to. At last I pitch upon another lackey, and repeat my request: he runs about seeking his runaway brother, or my Petition; to no purpose, neither of them could be found. How happy was it that in the midst of my Pontac, before shaving, I had written out the duplicate of this paper; and therefore—simply on the principle that you should always keep a second wooden leg packed into your knapsack when you have the first on your body—and out of fear that if the original petition chanced to drop from me in the way between the Tiger and Schabacker's, my whole journey and hope would melt into water—and therefore, I say, having stuck the repeating work of that original paper into my pocket, I had, in any case, something to hand in, and that something truly a Ditto. I handed it in.

36: And so I should like, in all cases, to be the First, especially in Begging. The first prisoner-of-war, the first cripple, the first man ruined by burning (like him who brings the first fire-engine), gains the head-subscription and the heart; the next-comer finds nothing but Duty to address; and at last, in this melodious mancando of sympathy, matters sink so far, that the last (if the last but one may at least have retired laden with a rich "God help you!") obtains from the benignant hand nothing more than its fist. And as in Begging the first, so in Giving I should like to be the last: one obliterates the other, especially the last the first. So, however, is the world ordered.

[Pg 287]

Unhappily six o'clock was already past. The lackey, however, did not keep me long waiting; but returned with—I may say, the text of this whole Circular—the almost rude answer (which you, my Friends, out of regard for me and Schabacker, will not divulge) that: "In case I were the Attila Schmelzle of Schabacker's Regiment, I might lift my pigeon-liver flag again, and fly to the Devil, as I did at Pimpelstadt." Another man would have dropt dead on the spot: I, however, walked quite stoutly off, answering the fellow: "With great pleasure indeed, I fly to the Devil; and so Devil a fly I care." On the road home I examined myself whether it had not been the Pontac that spoke out of me (though the very examination contradicted this, for Pontac never examines); but I found that nothing but I, my heart, my courage perhaps, had spoken: and why, after all, any whimpering? Does not the patrimony of my good wife endow me better than ten Catechetical Professorships? And has she not furnished all the corners of my book of Life with so many golden clasps, that I can open it forever without wearing it? Let henhearts cackle and pip; I flapped my pinions, and said: "Dash boldly through it, come what may!" I felt myself excited and exalted; I fancied Republics, in which I, as a hero, might be at home; I longed to be in that noble Grecian time, when one hero readily put up with bastinadoes from another, and said: "Strike, but hear!" and out of this ignoble one, where men will scarcely put up with hard words, to say nothing of more. I painted out to my mind how I should feel, if, in happier circumstances, I were uprooting hollow Thrones, and before whole nations mounting on mighty deeds as on the Temple-steps of Immortality; and in gigantic ages, finding quite other men to outman and outstrip, than the mite-populace about me, or, at the best, here and there a Vulcanello. I thought and thought, and grew wilder and wilder, and intoxicated myself (no Pontac intoxication therefore, which, you know, increases more by continuance than cessation of drinking), and gesticulated openly, as I put the question to myself: "Wilt thou be a mere state-lapdog? A dog's-dog, a pium desiderium of an impium desiderium, an Ex-Ex, a Nothing's-Nothing?—Fire and Fury!" With this, however, I dashed down my hat[Pg 288] into the mud of the market. On lifting and cleaning this old servant, I could not but perceive how worn and faded it was; and I therefore determined instantly to purchase a new one, and carry the same home in my hand.

136: If you mount too high above your time, your ears (on the side of Fame) are little better off than if you sink too deep below it: in truth, Charles up in his Balloon, and Halley down in his Diving-bell, felt equally the same strange pain in their ears.

I accomplished this; I bought one of the finest cut. Strangely enough, by this hat, as if it had been a graduation-hat, was my head tried and examined, in the Ziegengasse or Goat-gate of Flätz. For as General Schabacker came driving along that street in his carriage, and I (it need not be said) was determined to avenge myself, not by vulgar clownishness, but by courtesy, I had here got one of the most ticklish problems imaginable to solve on the spur of the instant. You observe, if I swung only the fine hat which I carried in my hand, and kept the faded one on my head,—I might have the appearance of a perfect clown, who does not doff at all: if, on the other hand, I pulled the old hat from my head, and therewith did my reverence, then two hats, both in play at once (let me swing the other at the same time or not), brought my salute within the verge of ridicule. Now do you, my Friends, before reading farther, bethink you how a man was to extricate himself from such a plight, without losing head! I think, perhaps, by this means: by merely losing hat. In one word, then, I simply dropped the new hat from my hand into the mud, to put myself in a condition for taking off the old hat by itself, and swaying it in needful courtesy, without any shade of ridicule.

Arrived at the Tiger,—to avoid misconstructions, I first had the glossy, fine and superfine hat cleaned, and some time afterwards the mud-hat or rubbish-hat.

And now, weighing my momentous Past in the adjusting balance within me, I walked in fiery mood to and fro. The Pontac must—I know that there is no unadulterated liquor here below—have been more than usually adulterated; so keenly did it chase my fancy out of one fire into the other. I now looked forth into a wide glittering life, in which I lived without post, merely on money; and which I beheld, as it were, sowed with the Delphic caves, and Zenonic walks, and Muse-hills of all the Sciences,[Pg 289] which I might now cultivate at my ease. In particular, I should have it in my power to apply more diligently to writing Prize-essays for Academies; of which (that is to say, of the Prize-essays) no author need ever be ashamed, since, in all cases, there is a whole crowning Academy to stand and blush for the crownee. And even if the Prize-marksman does not hit the crown, he still continues more unknown and more anonymous (his Device not being unsealed) than any other author, who indeed can publish some nameless Long-ear of a book, but not hinder it from being, by a Literary Ass-burial (sepultura asinina), publicly interred, in a short time, before half the world.

25: In youth, like a blind man just couched (and what is birth but a couching of the sight?), you take the Distant for the Near, the starry heaven for tangible room-furniture, pictures for objects; and, to the young man, the whole world is sitting on his very nose, till repeated bandaging and unbandaging have at last taught him, like the blind patient, to estimate Distance and Appearance.

Only one thing grieved me by anticipation; the sorrow of my Berga, for whom, dear tired wayfarer, I on the morrow must overcloud her arrival, and her shortened market-spectacle, by my negatory intelligence. She would so gladly (and who can take it ill of a rich farmer's daughter?) have made herself somebody in Neusattel, and overshone many a female dignitary! Every mortal longs for his parade-place, and some earlier living honour than the last honours. Especially so good a lowly-born housewife as my Berga, conscious perhaps rather of her metallic than of her spiritual treasure, would still wish at banquets to be mistress of some seat or other, and so in place to overtop this or that plucked goose of the neighbourhood.

It is in this point of view that husbands are so indispensable. I therefore resolved to purchase for myself, and consequently for her, one of the best of those titles, which our Courts in Germany (as in a Leipzig sale-room) stand offering to buyers, in all sizes and sorts, from Noble and Half-noble down to Rath or Councillor; and once invested therewith, to reflect from my own Quarter-nobility such an Eighth-part-nobility on this true soul, that many a Neusattelitess (I hope) shall half burst with envy, and say and cry: "Pooh, the stupid farmer thing! See how it wabbles and bridles! It has forgot how matters stood when it had no money-bag, and no Hofrath!" For to the Hofrathship I shall before this have attained.

But in the cold solitude of my room, and the fire of my remembrances,[Pg 290] I longed unspeakably for my Bergelchen: I and my heart were wearied with the foreign busy day; no one here said a kind word to me, which he did not hope to put in the bill. Friends! I languished for my friend, whose heart would pour out its blood as a balsam for a second heart; I cursed my over-prudent regulations, and wished that, to have the good Berga at my side, I had given up the stupid houseware to all thieves and fires whatsoever: as I walked to and fro, it seemed to me easier and easier to become all things, an Exchequer-Rath, an Excise-Rath, any Rath in the world, and whatever she required when she came.

125: In the long-run, out of mere fear and necessity, we shall become the warmest cosmopolites I know of; so rapidly do ships shoot to and fro, and, like shuttles, weave Islands and Quarters of the World together. For, let but the political weatherglass fall today in South America, tomorrow we in Europe have storm and thunder.

"See thou take thy pleasure in the town!" had Bergelchen kept saying the whole week through. But how, without her, can I take any? Our tears of sorrow friends dry up, and accompany with their own: but our tears of joy we find most readily repeated in the eyes of our wives. Pardon me, good Friends, these libations of my sensibility; I am but showing you my heart and my Berga. If I need an Absolution-merchant, the Pontac-merchant is the man.

First Night in Flätz.

Yet the wine did not take from me the good sense to look under the bed, before going into it, and examine whether any one was lurking there; for example, the Dwarf, or the Ratcatcher, or the Legations-Rath; also to shove the key under the latch (which I reckon the best bolting arrangement of all), and then, by way of farther assurance, to bore my night-screws into the door, and pile all the chairs in a heap behind it; and, lastly, to keep on my breeches and shoes, wishing absolutely to have no care upon my mind.

But I had still other precautions to take in regard to sleepwalking. To me it has always been incomprehensible how so[Pg 291] many men can go to bed, and lie down at their ease there, without reflecting that perhaps, in the first sleep, they may get up again as Somnambulists, and crawl over the tops of roofs and the like; awakening in some spot where they may fall in a moment and break their necks. While at home, there is little risk in my sleep: because, my right toe being fastened every night with three ells of tape (I call it in jest our marriage-tie) to my wife's left hand, I feel a certainty that, in case I should start up from this bed-arrest, I must with the tether infallibly awaken her, and so by my Berga, as by my living bridle, be again led back to bed. But here in the Inn, I had nothing for it but to knot myself once or twice to the bed-foot, that I might not wander; though in this way, an irruption of villains would have brought double peril with it.—Alas! so dangerous is sleep at all times, that every man, who is not lying on his back a corpse, must be on his guard lest with the general system some limb or other also fall asleep; in which case the sleeping limb (there are not wanting examples of it in Medical History) may next morning be lying ripe for amputation. For this reason, I have myself frequently awakened, that no part of me fall asleep.

19: It is easier, they say, to climb a hill when you ascend back foremost. This, perhaps, might admit of application to political eminences; if you still turned towards them that part of the body on which you sit, and kept your face directed down to the people; all the while, however, removing and mounting.

26: Few German writers are not original, if we may ascribe originality (as is at least the conversational practice of all people) to a man, who merely dishes out his own thoughts without foreign admixture. For as, between their Memory, where their reading or foreign matter dwells, and their Imagination or Productive Power, where their writing or own peculiar matter originates, a sufficient space intervenes, and the boundary-stones are fixed-in so conscientiously and firmly that nothing foreign may pass over into their own, or inversely, so that they may really read a hundred works without losing their own primitive flavour, or even altering it,—their individuality may, I believe, be considered as secured; and their spiritual nourishment, their pancakes, loaves, fritters, caviare and meat-balls, are not assimilated to their system, but given back pure and unaltered. Often in my own mind I figure such writers as living but thousandfold more artificial Ducklings from Vaucanson's Artificial Duck of Wood. For in fact they are not less cunningly put together than this timber Duck, which will gobble meat, and apparently void it again, under show of having digested it, and derived from it blood and juices; though the secret of the business is, the artist has merely introduced an ingenious compound ejective matter behind, with which concoction and nourishment have nothing to do, but which the Duck illusorily gives forth and publishes to the world.

Having properly tied myself to the bed-posts, and at length got under the coverlid, I now began to be dubious about my Pontac Fire-bath, and apprehensive of the valorous and tumultuous dreams too likely to ensue; which, alas, did actually prove to be nothing better than heroic and monarchic feats, castle-stormings, rock-throwings, and the like. This point also I am sorry to see so little attended to in medicine. Medical gentlemen, as well as their customers, all stretch themselves quietly in their beds, without one among them considering whether a furious rage (supposing him also directly after to drink cold water in his dream), or a heart-devouring grief, all which he may undergo in vision, does harm to life or not.

[Pg 292]

Shortly before midnight, I awoke from a heavy dream, to encounter a ghost-trick much too ghostly for my fancy. My Brother-in-law, who manufactured it, deserves for such vapid cookery to be named before you without reserve, as the malt-master of this washy brewage. Had suspicion been more compatible with intrepidity, I might perhaps, by his moral maxim about this matter, on the road, as well as by his taking up the side-room, at the middle door of which stood my couch, have easily divined the whole. But now, on awakening, I felt myself blown upon by a cold ghost-breath, which I could nowise deduce from the distant bolted window; a point I had rightly decided, for the Dragoon was producing the phenomenon, through the keyhole, by a pair of bellows. Every sort of coldness, in the night-season, reminds you of clay-coldness and spectre-coldness. I summoned my resolution, however, and abode the issue: but now the very coverlid began to get in motion; I pulled it towards me; it would not stay; sharply I sit upright in my bed, and cry: "What is that?" No answer; everywhere silence in the Inn; the whole room full of moonshine. And now my drawing-plaster, my coverlid, actually rose up, and let in the air; at which I felt like a wounded man whose cataplasm you suddenly pull off. In this crisis, I made a bold leap from this Devil's-torus, and, leaping, snapped asunder my somnambulist tether. "Where is the silly human fool," cried I, "that dares to ape the unseen sublime world of Spirits, which may, in the instant, open before him?" But on, above, under the bed, there was nothing to be heard or seen. I looked out of the window: everywhere spectral moonlight and street-stillness; nothing moving except (probably from the wind), on the distant Gallows-hill, a person lately hanged.

Any man would have taken it for self-deception as well as I: therefore I again wrapped myself in my passive lit de justice and air-bed, and waited with calmness to see whether my fright would subside or not.

15: After the manner of the fine polished English folding-knives, there are now also folding-war-swords, or in other words—Treaties of Peace.

13: Omnibus una salus Sanctis, sed gloria dispar: that is to say (as Divines once taught) according to Saint Paul, we have all the same Beatitude in Heaven, but different degrees of Honour. Here, on Earth, we find a shadow of this in the writing world; for the Beatitude of authors once beatified by Criticism, whether they be genial, good, mediocre, or poor, is the same throughout; they all obtain the same pecuniary Felicity, the same slender profit. But, Heavens! in regard to the degrees of Fame, again, how far (in spite of the same emolument and sale) will a Dunce, even in his lifetime, be put below a Genius! Is not a shallow writer frequently forgotten in a single Fair, while a deep writer, or even a writer of genius, will blossom through fifty Fairs, and so may celebrate his Twenty-five Years' Jubilee, before, late forgotten, he is lowered into the German Temple of Fame; a Temple imitating the peculiarity of the Padri Luichesi churches in Naples, which (according to Volkmann) permit burials under their roofs, but no tombstone.

[Pg 293]

In a few minutes, the coverlid, the infernal Faust's-mantle, again began flying and towing; also, by way of change, the invisible bed-maker again lifted me up. Accursed hour!—I should beg to know whether, in the whole of cultivated Europe, there is one cultivated or uncultivated man, who, in a case of this kind, would not have lighted on ghost-devilry? I lighted on it, under my piece of (self) movable property, my coverlid: and thought Berga had died suddenly, and was now, in spirit, laying hold of my bed. However, I could not speak to her, nor as little to the Devil, who might well be supposed to have a hand in the game; but I turned myself solely to Heaven, and prayed aloud: "To thee I commit myself; thou alone heretofore hast cared for thy weak servant; and I swear that I will turn a new leaf,"—a promise which shall be kept nevertheless, though the whole was but stupid treachery and trick.

My prayer had no effect with the unchristian Dragoon, who now, once for all, had got me prisoner in the dragnet of a coverlid; and heeded little whether a guest's bed were, by his means, made a state-bed and death-bed or not. He span out my nerves, like gold-wire through smaller and smaller holes, to utter inanition and evanition; for the bed-clothes at last literally marched off to the door of the room.

Now was the moment to rise into the sublime; and to trouble myself no longer about aught here below, but softly to devote myself to death. "Snatch me away," cried I, and, without thinking, cut three crosses; "quick, dispatch me, ye ghosts: I die more innocent than thousands of tyrants and blasphemers, to whom ye yet appear not, but to unpolluted me." Here I heard a sort of laugh, either on the street or in the side-room: at this warm human tone, I suddenly bloomed up again, as at the coming of a new Spring, in every twig and leaf. Wholly despising the winged coverlid, which was not now to be picked from the door, I laid myself down uncovered, but warm and perspiring from other causes, and soon fell asleep. For the rest, I am not the[Pg 294] least ashamed, in the face of all refined capital cities,—though they were standing here at my hand,—that by this Devil-belief and Devil-address I have attained some likeness to our great German Lion, to Luther.

Second Day in Flätz.

Early in the morning, I felt myself awakened by the well-known coverlid; it had laid itself on me like a nightmare: I gaped up; quiet, in a corner of the room, sat a red, round, blooming, decorated girl, like a full-blown tulip in the freshness of life, and gently rustling with gay ribbons as with leaves.

"Who's there—how came you in?" cried I, half-blind.

"I covered thee softly, and thought to let thee sleep," said Bergelchen; "I have walked all night to be here early; do but look!"

She showed me her boots, the only remnant of her travelling-gear, which, in the moulting process of the toilette, she had not stript at the gate of Flätz.

"Is there," said I, alarmed at her coming six hours sooner, and the more, as I had been alarmed all night and was still so, at her mysterious entrance,—"is there some fresh woe come over us, fire, murder, robbery?"

She answered: "The old Rat thou hast chased so long died yesterday; farther, there was nothing of importance."

"And all has been managed rightly, and according to my Letter of Instructions, at home?" inquired I.

"Yes, truly," answered she; "only I did not see the Letter; it is lost; thou hast packed it among thy clothes."

Well, I could not but forgive the blooming brave pedestrian all omissions. Her eye, then her heart was bringing fresh cool morning air and morning red into my sultry hours. And yet, for this kind soul, looking into life with such love and hope, I must in a little while overcloud the merited Heaven of today, with tidings of my failure in the Catechetical Professorship! I dallied and postponed to the utmost. I asked how she had got[Pg 295] in, as the whole chevaux-de-frise barricado of chairs was still standing fast at the door. She laughed heartily, curtseying in village fashion, and said, she had planned it with her brother the day before yesterday, knowing my precautions in locking, that he should admit her into my room, that so she might cunningly awaken me. And now bolted the Dragoon with loud laughter into the apartment, and cried: "Slept well, brother?"

79: Weak and wrong heads are the hardest to change; and their inward man acquires a scanty covering: thus capons never moult.

89: In times of misfortune, the Ancients supported themselves with Philosophy or Christianity; the moderns again (for example, in the reign of Terror), take to Pleasure; as the wounded Buffalo, for bandage and salve, rolls himself in the mire.

In this wise truly the whole ghost-story was now solved and expounded, as if by the pen of a Biester or a Hennings; I instantly saw through the entire ghost-scheme, which our Dragoon had executed. With some bitterness I told him my conjecture, and his sister my story. But he lied and laughed; nay, attempted shamelessly enough to palm spectre-notions on me a second time, in open day. I answered coldly, that in me he had found the wrong man, granting even that I had some similarity with Luther, with Hobbes, with Brutus, all of whom had seen and dreaded ghosts. He replied, tearing the facts away from their originating causes: "All he could say was, that last night he had heard some poor sinner creaking and lamenting dolefully enough; and from this he had inferred, it must be an unhappy brother set upon by goblins."

In the end, his sister's eyes also were opened to the low character which he had tried to act with me: she sharply flew at him, pushed him with both hands out of his and my door, and called after him: "Wait, thou villain, I will mind it!"

Then hastily turning round, she fell on my neck, and (at the wrong place) into laughter, and said: "The wild fool! But I could not keep my laugh another minute, and he was not to see it. Forgive the ninny, thou a learned man, his ass pranks: what can one expect?"

I inquired whether she, in her nocturnal travelling, had not met with any spectral persons; though I knew that to her, a wild beast, a river, a half abyss, are nothing. No, she had not; but the gay-dressed town's-people, she said, had scared her in the[Pg 296] morning. O! how I do love these soft Harmonica-quiverings of female fright!

181: God be thanked that we live nowhere forever except in Hell or Heaven; on Earth otherwise we should grow to be the veriest rascals, and the World a House of Incurables, for want of the dog-doctor (the Hangman), and the issue-cord (on the Gallows), and the sulphur and chalybeate medicines (on Battlefields). So that we too find our gigantic moral force dependent on the Debt of Nature which we have to pay, exactly as your politicians (for example, the Author of the New Leviathan) demonstrate that the English have their National Debt to thank for their superiority.

At last, however, I was forced to bite or cut the coloquinta-apple, and give her the half of it; I mean the news of my rejected petition for the Catechetical Professorship. Wishing to spare this joyful heart the rudeness of the whole truth, and to subtract something from a heavy burden, more fit for the shoulders of a man, I began: "Bergelchen, the Professorship affair is taking another, though still a good enough course: the General, whom may the Devil and his Grandmother teach sense, will not be taken except by storm; and storm he shall have, as certainly as I have on my nightcap."

"Then, thou art nothing yet?" inquired she.

"For the moment, indeed, not!" answered I.

"But before Saturday night?" said she.

"Not quite," said I.

"Then am I sore stricken, and could leap out of the window," said she, and turned away her rosy face, to hide its wet eyes, and was silent very long. Then, with painfully quivering voice, she began: "Good Christ stand by me at Neusattel on Sunday, when these high-prancing prideful dames look at me in church, and I grow scarlet for shame!"

Here in sympathetic woe I sprang out of bed to the dear soul, over whose brightly blooming cheeks warm tears were rolling, and cried: "Thou true heart, do not tear me in pieces so! May I die, if yet in these dog-days I become not all and everything that thou wishest! Speak, wilt thou be Mining-räthin, Build-räthin, Court-räthin, War-räthin, Chamber-räthin, Commerce-räthin, Legations-räthin, or Devil and his Dam's räthin: I am here, and will buy it, and be it. Tomorrow I send riding posts to Saxony and Hessia, to Prussia and Russia, to Friesland and Katzenellenbogen, and demand patents. Nay, I will carry matters farther than another, and be all things at once, Flachsenfingen Court-rath, Scheerau Excise-rath, Haarhaar Building-rath, Pestitz[6][Pg 297] Chamber-rath (for we have the cash); and thus, alone and single-handed, represent with one podex and corpus a whole Rath-session of select Raths; and stand, a complete Legion of Honour, on one single pair of legs: the like no man ever did."

63: To apprehend danger from the Education of the People, is like fearing lest the thunderbolt strike into the house because it has windows; whereas the lightning never comes through these, but through their lead framing, or down by the smoke of the chimney.


Cities of Richter's romance kingdom. Flachsenfingen he sometimes calls Klein-Wien, Little Vienna.—Ed.

"O! now thou art angel-good!" said she, and gladder tears rolled down; "thou shalt counsel me thyself which are the finest Raths, and these we will be."

"No," continued I, in the fire of the moment, "neither shall this serve us: to me it is not enough that to Mrs. Chaplain thou canst announce thyself as Building-räthin, to Mrs. Town-parson as Legations-räthin, to Mrs. Bürgermeister as Court-räthin, to Mrs. Road-and-toll-surveyor as Commerce-räthin, or how and where thou pleasest——"

"Ah! my own too good Attelchen!" said she.

"—But," continued I, "I shall likewise become corresponding member of the several Learned Societies in the several best capital cities (among which I have only to choose); and truly no common actual member, but a whole honorary member; then thee, as another honorary member, growing out of my honorary membership, I uplift and exalt."

Pardon me, my Friends, this warm cataplasm, or deception-balsam for a wounded breast, whose blood is so pure and precious, that one may be permitted to endeavour, with all possible stanching-lints and spider-webs, to drive it back into the fair heart, its home.

But now came bright and brightest hours. I had conquered Time, I had conquered myself and Berga: seldom does a conqueror, as I did, bless both the victorious and the vanquished party. Berga called back her former Heaven, and pulled off her dusty boots, and on her flowery shoes. Precious morning beverage, intoxicating to a heart that loves! I felt (if the low figure may be permitted) a double-beer of courage in me, now that I had one being more to protect. In general it is my nature—which the honourable Premier seems not to be fully aware of—to grow bolder not among the bold, but fastest among poltroons, the bad example acting on me by the rule of contraries. Little touches may in this case shadow forth man and wife, without casting them into the shade: When the trim waiter with his[Pg 298] green silk apron brought up cracknels for breakfast, and I told him: "Johann, for two!" Berga said: "He would oblige her very much," and called him Herr Johann.

76: Your economical, preaching Poetry, apparently supposes that a surgical Stone-cutter is an Artistical one; and a Pulpit or a Sinai a Hill of the Muses.

Bergelchen, more familiar with rural burghs than capital cities, felt a good deal amazed and alarmed at the coffee-trays, dressing-tables, paper-hangings, sconces, alabaster inkholders, with Egyptian emblems, as well as at the gilt bell-handle, lying ready for any one to pull out or to push in. Accordingly, she had not courage to walk through the hall, with its lustres, purely because a whistling, whiffling Cap-and-feather was gesturing up and down in it. Nay, her poor heart was like to fail when she peeped out of the window at so many gay promenading town's-people (I was briskly whistling a Gascon air down over them); and thought that in a little while, at my side, she must break into the middle of this dazzling courtly throng. In a case like this, reasons are of less avail than examples. I tried to elevate my Bergelchen, by reciting some of my nocturnal dream-feats; for example, how, riding on a whale's back, with a three-pronged fork, I had pierced and eaten three eagles; and by more of the like sort: but I produced no effect; perhaps, because to the timid female heart the battle-field was presented rather than the conqueror, the abyss rather than the overleaper of it.

At this time a sheaf of newspapers was brought me, full of gallant decisive victories. And though these happen only on one side, and on the other are just so many defeats, yet the former somehow assimilate more with my blood than the latter, and inspire me (as Schiller's Robbers used to do) with a strange inclination to lay hold of some one, and thrash and curry him on the spot. Unluckily for the waiter, he had chanced, even now, like a military host, to stand a triple bell-order for march, before he would leave his ground and come up. "Sir," began I, my head full of battle-fields, and my arm of inclination to baste him; and Berga feared the very worst, as I gave her the well-known anger and alarm signal, namely, shoved up my cap to my hindhead—"Sir, is this your way of treating guests? Why don't you come promptly? Don't come so again; and now be going, friend!"[Pg 299] Although his retreat was my victory, I still kept briskly cannonading on the field of action, and fired the louder (to let him hear it), the more steps he descended in his flight. Bergelchen,—who felt quite horrorstruck at my fury, particularly in a quite strange house, and at a quality waiter with silk apron,—mustered all her soft words against the wild ones of a man-of-war, and spoke of dangers that might follow. "Dangers," answered I, "are just what I seek; but for a man there are none; in all cases he will either conquer or evade them, either show them front or back."

115: According to Smith, the universal measure of economical value is Labour. This fact, at least in regard to spiritual and poetical value, we Germans had discovered before Smith; and to my knowledge we have always preferred the learned poet to the poet of genius, and the heavy book full of labour to the light one full of sport.

I could scarcely lay aside this indignant mood, so sweet was it to me, and so much did I feel refreshed by the fire of rage, and quickened in my breast as by a benignant stimulant. It belongs certainly to the class of Unrecognised Mercies (on which, in ancient times, special sermons were preached), that one is never more completely in his Heaven and Monplaisir (a pleasure-palace) than while in the midst of right hearty storming and indignation. Heavens! what might not a man of weight accomplish in this new walk of charity! The gall-bladder is for us the chief swimming-bladder and Montgolfier; and the filling of it costs us nothing but a contumelious word or two from some bystander. And does not the whirlwind Luther, with whom I nowise compare myself, confess, in his Table-talk, that he never preached, sung, or prayed so well, as while in a rage? Truly, he was a man sufficient of himself to rouse many others into rage.

The whole morning till noon now passed in viewing sights, and trafficking for wares; and indeed, for the greatest part, in the broad street of our Hotel. Berga needed but to press along with me into the market throng; needed but to look, and see that she was decorated more according to the fashion than hundreds like her. But soon, in her care for household gear, she forgot that of dress, and in the potter-market the toilette-table faded from her thoughts.

I, for my share, full of true tedium, while gliding after her through her various marts, with their long cheapenings and chafferings, merely acted the Philosopher hid within me: I weighed[Pg 300] this empty Life, and the heavy value which is put upon it, and the daily anxiety of man lest it, this lightest down-feather of the Earth, fly off, and feather him, and take him with it. These thoughts, perhaps, I owe to the street-fry of boys, who were turning their market-freedom to account, by throwing stones at one another all round me: for, in the midst of this tumult, I vividly figured myself to be a man who had never seen war; and who, therefore, never having experienced, that often of a thousand bullets not one will hit, feels apprehensive of these few silly stones lest they beat-in his nose and eyes. O! it is the battle-field alone that sows, manures and nourishes true courage, courage even for daily, domestic and smallest perils. For not till he comes from the battle-field can a man both sing and cannonade; like the canary-bird, which, though so melodious, so timid, so small, so tender, so solitary, so soft-feathered, can yet be trained to fire off cannon, though cannon of smaller calibre.

4: The Hypocrite does not imitate the old practice, of cutting fruit by a knife poisoned only on the one side, and giving the poisoned side to the victim, the cutter eating the sound side himself; on the contrary, he so disinterestedly inverts this practice, that to others he shows and gives the sound moral half, or side, and retains for himself the poisoned one. Heavens! compared with such a man, how wicked does the Devil seem!

After dinner (in our room), we issued from the Purgatory of the market-tumult,—where Berga, at every booth, had something to order, and load her attendant maid with,—into Heaven, into the Dog Inn, as the best Flätz public and pleasure-house without the gates is named, where, in market-time, hundreds turn in, and see thousands going by. On the way thither, my little wife, my elbow-tendril, as it were, had extracted from me such a measure of courage, that, while going through the Gate (where I, aware of the military order that you must not pass near the sentry, threw myself over to the other side), she quietly glided on, close by the very guns and fixed bayonets of the City Guard. Outside the wall, I could direct her with my finger, to the bechained, begrated, gigantic Schabacker-Palace, mounting up even externally on stairs, where I last night had called and (it may be) stormed: "I had rather take a peep at the Giant," said she, "and the Dwarf: why else are we under one roof with them?"

In the pleasure-house itself we found sufficient pleasure; encircled, as we were, with blooming faces and meadows. In my secret heart, I all along kept looking down, with success, on Schabacker's refusal; and till midnight made myself a happy day of it:[Pg 301] I had deserved it, Berga still more. Nevertheless, about one in the morning, I was destined to find a windmill to tilt with; a windmill, which truly lays about it with somewhat longer, stronger and more numerous arms than a giant, for which Don Quixote might readily enough have taken it. On the market-place, for reasons more easily fancied than specified in words, I let Berga go along some twenty paces before me; and I myself, for these foresaid reasons, retire without malice behind a covered booth, the tent most probably of some rude trader; and linger there a moment according to circumstances: lo! steering hither with dart and spear, comes the Booth-watcher, and coins and stamps me, on the spot, into a filcher and housebreaker of his Booth-street; though the simpleton sees nothing but that I am standing in the corner, and doing anything but—taking. A sense of honour without callosity is never blunted for such attacks. But how in the dead of night was a man of this kind, who had nothing in his head—at the utmost beer, instead of brains—to be enlightened on the truth of the matter?

67: Individual Minds, nay Political Bodies, are like organic bodies: extract the interior air from them, the atmosphere crushes them together; pump off under the bell the exterior resisting air, the interior inflates and bursts them. Therefore, let every State keep up its internal and its external resistance both at once.

I shall not conceal my perilous resource: I seized the fox by the tail, as we say; in other words, I made as if I had been muddled, and knew not rightly, in my liquor, what I was about: I therefore mimicked everything I was master of in this department; staggered hither and thither; splayed out my feet like a dancing-master; got into zigzag in spite of all efforts at the straight line; nay, I knocked my good head (perhaps one of the clearest and emptiest of the night), like a full one, against real posts.

However, the Booth-bailiff, who probably had been oftener drunk than I, and knew the symptoms better, or even felt them in himself at this moment, looked upon the whole exhibition as mere craft, and shouted dreadfully: "Stop, rascal; thou art no more drunk than I! I know thee of old. Stand, I say, till I speak to thee! Wouldst have thy long finger in the market, too? Stand, dog, or I'll make thee!"

You see the whole nodus of the matter: I whisked away zigzag among the booths as fast as possible, from the claws of this[Pg 302] rude Tosspot; yet he still hobbled after me. But my Teutoberga, who had heard somewhat of it, came running back; clutched the tipsy market-warder by the collar, and said (shrieking, it is true, in village-wise): "Stupid sot, go sleep the drink out of thy head, or I'll teach thee! Dost know, then, whom thou art speaking to? My husband, Army-chaplain Schmelzle under General and Minister von Schabacker at Pimpelstadt, thou blockhead!—Fye! Take shame, fellow!" The watchman mumbled: "Meant no harm," and reeled about his business. "O thou Lioness!" said I, in the transport of love, "why hast thou never been in any deadly peril, that I might show thee the Lion in thy husband?"

8: In great Saloons, the real stove is masked into a pretty ornamented sham stove; so likewise, it is fit and pretty that a virgin Love should always hide itself in an interesting virgin Friendship.

12: Nations—unlike rivers, which precipitate their impurities in level places and when at rest—drop their baseness just whilst in the most violent motion; and become the dirtier the farther they flow along through lazy flats.

Thus lovingly we both reached home; and perhaps in the sequel of this Fair day might still have enjoyed a glorious after-midnight, had not the Devil led my eye to the ninth volume of Lichtenberg's Works, and the 206th page, where this passage occurs: "It is not impossible that at a future period, our Chemists may light on some means of suddenly decomposing the Atmosphere by a sort of Ferment. In this way the world may be destroyed." Ah! true indeed! Since the Earth-ball is lapped up in the larger Atmospheric ball, let but any chemical scoundrel, in the remotest scoundrel-island, say in New Holland, devise some decomposing substance for the Atmosphere, like what a spark of fire would be for a powder-wagon: in a few seconds, the monstrous devouring world-storm catches me and you in Flätz by the throat; my breathing, and the like, in this choke-air is over, and the whole game ended! The Earth becomes a boundless gallows, where the very cattle are hanged: worm-powder, and bug-liquor, Bradly ant-ploughs, and rat-poison, and wolf-traps are, in this universal world-trap and world-poison, no longer specially needful; and the Devil takes the whole, in the Bartholomew-night, when this cursed "Ferment" is invented.

From the true soul, however, I concealed these deadly Night Thoughts; seeing she would either painfully have sympathised in[Pg 303] them, or else mirthfully laughed at them. I merely gave orders that next morning (Saturday) she was to be standing booted and ready, at the outset of the returning coach; if so were she would have me speedily fulfil her wishes in regard to that stock of Rathships which lay so near her heart. She rejoiced in my purpose, gladly surrendering the market for such prospects. I too slept sound, my great toe tied to her finger, the whole night through.

28: When Nature takes the huge old Earth-round, the Earth-loaf, and kneads it up again, for the purpose of introducing under this pie-crust new stuffing and Dwarfs,—she then, for most part, as a mother when baking will do to her daughters, gives in jest a little fraction of the dough (two or three thousand square leagues of such dough are enough for a child) to some Poetical or Philosophical, or Legislative polisher, that so the little elf may have something to be shaping and manufacturing beside its mother. And when the other young ones get a taste of sisterkin's baking, they all clap hands, and cry: "Aha, Mother! canst; bake, like Suky here?"

The Dragoon, next morning, twitched me by the ear, and secretly whispered into it that he had a pleasant fairing to give his sister; and so would ride off somewhat early, on the nag he had yesterday purchased of the horse-dealer. I thanked him beforehand.

At the appointed hour, all gaily started from the Staple, I excepted; for I still retained, even in the fairest daylight, that nocturnal Devil's-Ferment and Decomposition (of my cerebral globe as well as of the Earth-globe) fermenting in my head; a proof that the night had not affected me, or exaggerated my fear. The Blind Passenger, whom I liked so ill, also mounted along with us, and looked at me as usual, but without effect; for on this occasion, when the destruction not of myself only, but of worlds, was occupying my thoughts, the Passenger was nothing to me but a joke and a show: as a man, while his leg is being sawed off, does not feel the throbbing of his heart; or amid the humming of cannon, does not guard himself from that of wasps; so to me any Passenger, with all the fire-brands he might throw into my near or distant Future, could appear but ludicrous, at a time when I was reflecting that the "Ferment" might, even in my journey between Flätz and Neusattel, be, by some American or European man of science, quite guiltlessly experimenting and decomposing, hit upon by accident and let loose. The question, nay prize-question now, however, were this: "In how far, since Lichtenberg's threatening, it may not appear world-murderous and self-murderous, if enlightened Potentates of chemical nations do not enjoin it on their chemical subjects, who in their decompositions and separations may so easily separate the soul from their body, and unite Heaven with Earth,—not in future to make any other chemical experiments than those already made, which hitherto have profited the State rather than harmed it?"

Unfortunately, I continued sunk in this Domsday of the Ferment with all my thoughts and meditations, without, in the whole[Pg 304] course of our return from Flätz to Neusattel, suffering or observing anything, except that I actually arrived there, and at the same time saw the Blind Passenger once more go his ways.

My Bergelchen alone had I constantly looked at by the road, partly that I might still see her, so long as life and eyes endured; partly that, even at the smallest danger to her, be it a great, or even all-over-sweeping Deluge and World's-doom, I might die, if not for her, at least by her, and so united with that stanch true heart, cast away a plagued and plaguing life, in which, at any rate, not half of my wishes for her have been fulfilled.

So then were my Journey over,—crowned with some Historiolæ; and in time coming, perhaps, still more rewarded through you, ye Friends about Flätz, if in these pages you shall find any well-ground pruning-knives, whereby you may more readily out-root the weedy tangle of Lies, which for the present excludes me from the gallant Schabacker:—Only this cursed Ferment still sits in my head. Farewell then, so long as there are Atmospheres left us to breathe. I wish I had that Ferment out of my head.

Yours always,

Attila Schmelzle.

P.S.—My Brother-in-law has kept his promise well, and Berga is dancing. Particulars in my next!

[Pg 305]







Merchants, Authors, young Ladies and Quakers, call all persons, with whom they have any business, Friends; and my readers accordingly are my table and college Friends. Now, at this time, I am about presenting so many hundred Friends with just as many hundred gratis copies; and my Bookseller has orders to supply each on request, after the Fair, with his copy—in return for a trifling consideration and don gratuit to printers, pressmen and other such persons. But as I could not, like the French authors, send the whole Edition to the binder, the blank leaf in front was necessarily wanting; and thus to write a complimentary word or two upon it was out of my power. I have therefore caused a few white leaves to be inserted directly after the title-page: on these we are now printing.

My Book contains the Life of a Schoolmaster, extracted and compiled from various public and private documents. With this Biography, dear Friends, it is the purpose of the Author not so much to procure you a pleasure, as to teach you how to enjoy one. In truth, King Xerxes should have offered his prize-medals not for the invention of new pleasures, but for a good methodology and directory to use the old ones.

Of ways for becoming happier (not happy) I could never inquire out more than three. The first, rather an elevated road, is this: To soar away so far above the clouds of life, that you see the whole external world, with its wolf-dens, charnel-houses and thunder-rods, lying far down beneath you, shrunk into a little child's garden. The second is: Simply to sink down into this little garden; and there to nestle yourself so snugly, so homewise, in some furrow, that in looking out from your warm lark-nest, you likewise can discern no wolf-dens, charnel-houses or thunder-rods, but only blades and ears, every one of which, for the nest-bird, is a tree, and a sun-screen, and rain-screen. The third, finally, which I look upon as the hardest and cunningest, is that of alternating between the other two.

[Pg 306]

This I shall now satisfactorily expound to men at large.

The Hero, the Reformer, your Brutus, your Howard, your Republican, he whom civic storm, or genius, poetic storm, impels; in short, every mortal with a great Purpose, or even a perennial Passion (were it but that of writing the largest folios), all these men fence themselves in by their internal world against the frosts and heats of the external, as the madman in a worse sense does: every fixed idea, such as rules every genius, every enthusiast, at least periodically, separates and elevates a man above the bed and board of this Earth, above its Dog's-grottoes, buckthorns and Devil's-walls; like the Bird of Paradise, he slumbers flying; and on his outspread pinions, oversleeps unconsciously the earthquakes and conflagrations of Life, in his long fair dream of his ideal Motherland,—Alas! to few is this dream granted; and these few are so often awakened by Flying Dogs![30]

[30] So are the Vampires called.

This skyward track, however, is fit only for the winged portion of the human species, for the smallest. What can it profit poor quill-driving brethren, whose souls have not even wing-shells, to say nothing of wings? Or these tethered persons with the best back, breast and neck fins, who float motionless in the wicker Fish-box of the State, and are not allowed to swim, because the Box or State, long ago tied to the shore, itself swims in the name of the Fishes? To the whole standing and writing host of heavy-laden State-domestics, Purveyors, Clerks of all departments, and all the lobsters packed together heels over head into the Lobster-basket of the Government office-rooms, and for refreshment, sprinkled over with a few nettles; to these persons, what way of becoming happy here, can I possibly point out?

My second merely; and that is as follows: To take a compound microscope, and with it to discover, and convince themselves, that their drop of Burgundy is properly a Red Sea, that butterfly-dust is peacock-feathers, mouldiness a flowery-field, and sand a heap of jewels. These microscopic recreations are more lasting than all costly watering-place recreations.—But I must explain these metaphors by new ones. The purpose, for which I have sent Fixleins Life into the Messrs. Lübeks' Warehouse, is simply that in this same Life,—therefore in this Preface it is less needful,—I may show to the whole Earth that we ought to value little joys more than great ones, the nightgown more than the dresscoat; that Plutus' heaps are worth less than his handfuls, the plum than the penny for a rainy day; and that not great, but little good-haps can make us happy.—Can I accomplish this, I shall, through means of my Book, bring up for Posterity, a race of men finding refreshment in all things; in the warmth of their rooms and of their nightcaps; in their pillows; in the three High Festivals; in mere Apostles' days; in the Evening Moral Tales of their wives, when these gentle persons have been forth as ambassadresses visiting some Dowager Residence, whither the husband could not be persuaded; in the bloodletting-day of these their news-bringers; in the day of slaughtering, salting, potting against the rigour of grim winter; and in all such days. You perceive, my drift is that man must become a little Tailor-bird, which, not amid the crashing boughs of the storm-tost, roaring,[Pg 307] immeasurable tree of Life, but on one of its leaves, sews itself a nest together, and there lies snug. The most essential sermon one could preach to our century, were a sermon on the duty of staying at home.

The third skyward road is the alternation between the other two. The foregoing second way is not good enough for man, who here on Earth should take into his hand not the Sickle only, but also the Plough. The first is too good for him. He has not always the force, like Rugendas, in the midst of the Battle to compose Battle-pieces; and, like Backhuysen in the Shipwreck, to clutch at no board but the drawing-board to paint it on. And then his pains are not less lasting than his fatigues. Still oftener is Strength denied its Arena: it is but the smallest portion of life that, to a working soul, offers Alps, Revolutions, Rhine-falls, Worms Diets, and Wars with Xerxes; and for the whole it is better so: the longer portion of life is a field beaten flat as a threshing-floor, without lofty Gothard Mountains; often it is a tedious ice-field, without a single glacier tinged with dawn.

But even by walking, a man rests and recovers himself for climbing; by little joys and duties, for great. The victorious Dictator must contrive to plough down his battle Mars-field into a flax and carrot field; to transform his theatre of war into a parlour theatre, on which his children may enact some good pieces from the Children's Friend. Can he accomplish this, can he turn so softly from the path of poetical happiness into that of household happiness,—then is he little different from myself, who even now, though modesty might forbid me to disclose it—who even now, I say, amid the creation of this Letter, have been enabled to reflect, that when it is done, so also will the Roses and Elder-berries of pastry be done, which a sure hand is seething in butter for the Author of this Work.

As I purpose appending to this Letter a Postscript (at the end of the Book), I reserve somewhat which I had to say about the Third[31] half-satirical half-philosophical part of the Work, till that opportunity.

Here, out of respect for the rights of a Letter, the Author drops his half anonymity,[32] and for the first time subscribes himself with his whole true name,

Jean Paul Friedrich Richter.

Hof in Voigtland, 29th June 1795.

[31] Fixlein stands in the middle of the volume; preceded by Einer Mustheil für Madchen (A Jelly-course for Young Ladies); and followed by Some Jus de Tablette for Men. A small portion of the Preface relating to the first I have already omitted. Neither of the two has the smallest relation to Fixlein.—Ed.

[32] J. P. H., Jean Paul Hasus, Jean Paul, &c. have in succession been Richter's signatures. At present even, his German designation, either in writing or speech, is never Richter, but Jean Paul.—Ed.[Pg 308]



Dog-days Vacation. Visits. An Indigent of Quality.

Egidius Zebedæus Fixlein had just for eight days been Quintus,[33] and fairly commenced his teaching duties, when Fortune tabled out for him four refreshing courses and collations, besprinkled with flowers and sugar. These were the four canicular weeks. I could find in my heart, at this hour, to pat the cranium of that good-man who invented the Dog-days Vacation: I never go to walk in that season, without thinking how a thousand down-pressed pedagogic persons are now erecting themselves in the open air; and the stiff knapsack is lying unbuckled at their feet, and they can seek whatsoever their soul desires; butterflies,—or roots of numbers,—or roots of words,—or herbs,—or their native villages.

[33] For understanding many little hints which occur in this Life of Fixlein, it will be necessary to bear in mind the following particulars: A German Gymnasium, in its complete state, appears to include eight Masters; Rector, Conrector, Subrector, Quintus, Quartus, Tertius, &c., to the first or lowest. The forms, or classes, again, are arranged in an inverse order; the Primaner (boys of the Prima, or first form) being the most advanced, and taught by the Rector; the Secundaner, by the Conrector, &c., and therefore the Quartaner by the Quintus. In many cases, it would seem, the number of Teachers is only six; but, in this Flachsenfingen Gymnasium, we have express evidence that there was no curtailment.—Ed.

The last did our Fixlein. He moved not, however, till Sunday,—for you like to know how holidays taste in the city; and then, in company with his Shock and a Quintaner, or Fifth-Form boy, who carried his Green nightgown, he issued through the gate in the morning. The dew was still lying; and as he reached the back of the gardens, the children of the Orphan Hospital were uplifting with clear voices their morning hymn. The city was Flachsenfingen, the village Hukelum, the dog Schil, and the year of Grace 1791.

[Pg 309]

"Manikin," said he to the Quintaner, for he liked to speak as Love, children, and the people of Vienna do, in diminutives, "Manikin, give me the bundle to the village: run about, and seek thee a little bird, as thou art thyself, and so have something to pet too in vacation-time." For the manikin was at once his page, lackey, room-comrade, train-bearer and gentleman-in-waiting; and the Shock also was his manikin.

He stept slowly along, through the crisped cole-beds, overlaid with coloured beads of dew; and looked at the bushes, out of which, when the morning wind bent them asunder, there seemed to start a flight of jewel-colibri, so brightly did they glitter. From time to time he drew the bell-rope of his—whistle, that the manikin might not skip away too far; and he shortened his league and half of road, by measuring it not in leagues, but in villages. It is more pleasant for pedestrians—for geographers it is not—to count by wersts than by miles. In walking, our Quintus farthermore got by heart the few fields, on which the grain was already reaped.

But now roam slower, Fixlein, through his Lordship's garden of Hukelum; not, indeed, lest thy coat sweep away any tulip-stamina, but that thy good mother may have time to lay her Cupid's-band of black taffeta about her smooth brow. I am grieved to think my fair readers take it ill of her, that she means first to iron this same band: they cannot know that she has no maid; and that today the whole Preceptorial dinner—the money purveyances the guest has made over to her three days before—is to be arranged and prepared by herself, without the aid of any Mistress of the Household whatever; for indeed she belongs to the Tiers Etat, being neither more nor less than a gardener's widow.

You can figure how this true, warm-hearted mother may have lain in wait all morning for her Schoolman, whom she loved as the apple of her eye; since, on the whole populous Earth, she had not (her first son, as well as her husband, was dead) any other for her soul, which indeed overflowed with love; not any other but her Zebedäus. Could she ever tell you aught about him, I mean aught joyful, without ten times wiping her eyes? Nay, did she not once divide her solitary Kirmes (or Churchale) cake between two mendicant students, because she thought Heaven would punish her for so feasting, while her boy in Leipzig had nothing to feast on, and must pass the cake-garden like other gardens, merely smelling at it?

[Pg 310]

"Dickens! Thou already, Zebedäus!" said the mother, giving an embarrassed smile, to keep from weeping, as the son, who, had ducked past the window, and crossed the grassy threshold without knocking, suddenly entered. For joy she forgot to put the heater into the smoothing-iron, as her illustrious scholar, amid the loud boiling of the soup, tenderly kissed her brow, and even said Mamma; a name which lighted on her breast like downy silk. All the windows were open; and the garden, with its flower-essences, and bird-music, and butterfly-collections, was almost half within the room: but I suppose I have not yet mentioned that the little garden-house, rather a chamber than a house, was situated on the western cape of the Castle garden. The owner had graciously allowed the widow to retain this dowager-mansion; as indeed the mansion would otherwise have stood empty, for he now kept no gardener.

But Fixlein, in spite of his joy, could not stay long with her; being bound for the Church, which, to his spiritual appetite, was at all times a king's kitchen; a mother's. A sermon pleased him simply because it was a sermon, and because he himself had once preached one. The mother was contented he should go: these good women think they enjoy their guests, if they can only give them aught to enjoy.

In the choir, this Free-haven and Ethnic Forecourt of stranger church-goers, he smiled on all parishioners; and, as in his childhood, standing under the wooden wing of an archangel, he looked down on the coifed parterre. His young years now enclosed him like children in their smiling circle; and a long garland wound itself in rings among them, and by fits they plucked flowers from it, and threw them in his face: Was it not old Senior Astman that stood there on the pulpit Parnassus, the man by whom he had been so often flogged, while acquiring Greek with him from a grammar written in Latin, which he could not explain, yet was forced to walk by the light of? Stood there not behind the pulpit-stairs the sacristy-cabin, and in this was there not a church-library of consequence—no schoolboy could have buckled it wholly in his book-strap—lying under the minever cover of pastil dust? And did it not consist of the Polyglott in folio, which he, spurred on by Pfeiffer's Critica Sacra, had turned up leaf by leaf, in his early years, excerpting therefrom the literæ inversæ, majusculæ, minusculæ, and so forth, with an immensity of toil? And could he not at present, the sooner the more readily, have wished to[Pg 311] cast this alphabetic soft-fodder into the Hebrew letter-trough, whereto your Oriental Rhizophagi (Root-eaters) are tied, especially as here they get so little vowel hard-fodder to keep them in heart?—Stood there not close by him the organ-stool, the throne to which, every Apostle-day, the Schoolmaster had by three nods elevated him, thence to fetch down the sacred hyssop, the sprinkler of the Church?

My readers themselves will gather spirits when they now hear that our Quintus, during the outshaking of the poor-bag, was invited by the Senior to come over in the afternoon; and to them, it will be little less gratifying than if he had invited themselves. But what will they say, when they get home with him to mother and dinner-table, both already clad in their white Sunday dress; and behold the large cake which Fräulein Thiennette (Stephanie) has rolled from her peel? In the first place, however, they will wish to know who she is?

She is,—for if (according to Lessing) in the very excellence of the Iliad, we neglect the personalities of its author; the same thing will apply to the fate of several authors, for instance to my own; but an authoress of cakes must not be forgotten in the excellence of her baking,—Thiennette is a poor, indigent, insolvent young lady; has not much, except years, of which she counts five-and-twenty; no near relations living now; no acquirements (for in literature she does not even know Werter) except economical; reads no books, not even mine; inhabits, that is, watches like a wardeness, quite alone, the thirteen void disfurnished chambers of the Castle of Hukelum, which belongs to the Dragoon Rittmeister Aufhammer, at present resident in his other mansion of Schadeck: on occasion, she commands and feeds his soccagers and handmaids; and can write herself By the grace of God,—which, in the thirteenth century, the country nobles did as well as princes,—for she lives by the grace of man, at least of woman, the Lady Rittmeisterinn Aufhammer's grace, who, at all times, blesses those vassals whom her husband curses. But, in the breast of the orphaned Thiennette lay a sugared marchpane heart, which, for very love, you could have devoured: her fate was hard, but her soul was soft; she was modest, courteous and timid, but too much so;—cheerfully and coldly she received the most cutting humiliations in Schadeck, and felt no pain, and not till some days after did she see it all clearly, and then these cuts began sharply to bleed, and she wept in her loneliness over her lot.

[Pg 312]

It is hard for me to give a light tone, after this deep one, and to add, that Fixlein had been almost brought up beside her, and that she, his school-moiety over with the Senior, while the latter was training him for the dignities of the Third Form, had learned the Verba Anomala along with him.

The Achilles'-shield of the cake, jagged and embossed with carved work of brown scales, was whirling round in the Quintus like a swing-wheel of hungry and thankful ideas. Of that philosophy which despises eating, and of that high breeding which wastes it, he had not so much about him as belongs to the ungratefulness of such cultivated persons; but for his platter of meat, for his dinner of herbs, he could never give thanks enough.

Innocent and contented, the quadruple dinner-party,—for the Shock with his cover under the stove cannot be omitted,—now began their Feast of Sweet Bread, their Feast of Honour for Thiennette, their Grove-feast in the garden. It may truly be a subject of wonder how a man who has not, like the King of France, four hundred and forty-eight persons (the hundred and sixty-one Garçons de la Maison-bouche I do not reckon) in his kitchen, nor a Fruiterie of thirty-one human bipeds, nor a Pastry-cookery of three-and-twenty, nor a daily expenditure of 387 livres 21 sous,—how such a man, I say, can eat with any satisfaction. Nevertheless, to me, a cooking mother is as dear as a whole royal cooking household, given rather to feed upon me than to feed me.—The most precious fragments which the Biographer and the World can gather from this meal, consist of here and there an edifying piece of table-talk. The mother had much to tell. Thiennette is this night, she mentions, for the first time, to put on her morning promenade-dress of white muslin, as also a satin girdle and steel buckle: but, adds she, it will not sit her; as the Rittmeisterinn (for this lady used to hang her cast clothes on Thiennette, as Catholics do their cast crutches and sores on their patron Saints) was much thicker. Good women grudge each other nothing, save only clothes, husbands and flax. In the fancy of the Quintus, by virtue of this apparel, a pair of angel pinions were sprouting forth from the shoulder-blades of Thiennette: for him a garment was a sort of hollow half-man, to whom only the nobler parts and the first principles were wanting: he honoured these wrappages and hulls of our interior, not as an Elegant, or a Critic of Beauty, but because it was not possible for him to despise aught which he saw others honouring. Farther, the[Pg 313] good mother read to him, as it were, the monumental inscription of his father, who had sunk into the arms of Death in the thirty-second year of his age, from a cause which I explain not here, but in a future Letter-box, having too much affection for the reader. Our Quintus could not sate himself with hearing of his father.

The fairest piece of news was, that Fräulein Thiennette had sent word today: "he might visit Her Ladyship tomorrow, as My Lord, his godfather, was to be absent in town." This, however, I must explain. Old Aufhammer was called Egidius, and was Fixlein's godfather: but he,—though the Rittmeisterinn duly covered the cradle of the child with nightly offerings, with flesh-tithes and grain-tithes,—had frugally made him no christening present, except that of his name, which proved to be the very balefulest. For, our Egidius Fixlein, with his Shock, which, by reason of the French convulsions, had, in company with other emigrants, run off from Nantes, was but lately returned from college,—when he and his dog, as ill luck would have it, went to walk in the Hukelum wood. Now, as the Quintus was ever and anon crying out to his attendant: "Coosh, Schil" (Couche, Gilles), it must apparently have been the Devil that had just then planted the Lord of Aufhammer among the trees and bushes in such a way, that this whole travestying and docking of his name,—for Gilles means Egidius,—must fall directly into his ear. Fixlein could neither speak French, nor any offence to mortal: he knew not head or tail of what couche signified; a word, which, in Paris, even the plebeian dogs are now in the habit of saying to their valets de chiens. But there were three things which Von Aufhammer never recalled; his error, his anger and his word. The provokee, therefore, determined that the plebeian provoker and honour-stealer should never more speak to him, or—get a doit from him.

I return. After dinner he gazed out of the little window into the garden, and saw his path of life dividing into four branches, leading towards just as many skyward Ascensions; towards the Ascension into the Parsonage, and that into the Castle to Thiennette, for this day; and towards the third into Schadeck for the morrow; and lastly, into every house in Hukelum as the fourth. And now when the mother had long enough kept cheerfully gliding about on tiptoe, "not to disturb him in studying his Latin Bible" (the Vulgata), that is, in reading the Litteratur-zeitung,[Pg 314] he at last rose to his own feet; and the humble joy of the mother ran long after the courageous son, who dared to go forth and speak to a Senior, quite unappalled. Yet it was not without reverence that he entered the dwelling of his old, rather gray than bald-headed teacher, who was not only Virtue itself, but also Hunger, eating frequently, and with the appetite of Pharaoh's lean kine. A schoolman, that expects to become a professor, will scarcely deign to cast an eye on a pastor; but one, who is himself looking up to a parsonage as to his working-house and breeding-house, knows how to value such a character. The new parsonage,—as if it had, like a Casa Santa, come flying out of Erlangen, or the Berlin Friedrichs-strasse, and alighted in Hukelum,—was for the Quintus a Temple of the Sun, and the Senior a Priest of the Sun. To be Parson there himself, was a thought overlaid with virgin honey; such a thought as occurs but one other time in History, namely, in the head of Hannibal, when he projected stepping over the Alps, that is to say, over the threshold of Rome.

The landlord and his guest formed an excellent bureau d'esprit: people of office, especially of the same office, have more to tell each other, namely, their own history, than your idle May-chafers and Court-celestials, who must speak only of other people's.—The Senior made a soft transition from his iron-ware (in the stable furniture), to the golden age of his Academic life, of which such people like as much to think, as poets do of their childhood. So good as he was, he still half joyfully recollected that he had once been less so: but joyful remembrances of wrong actions are their half repetition, as repentant remembrances of good ones are their half abolishment.

Courteously and kindly did Zebedäus (who could not even enter in his Notebook the name of a person of quality without writing an H. for Herr before it) listen to the Academic Saturnalia of the old gentleman, who in Wittenberg had toped as well as written, and thirsted not more for the Hippocrene than for Guk-guk.[34]

[34] A university beer.

Herr Jerusalem has observed, that the barbarism which often springs up, close on the brightest efflorescence of the sciences, is a sort of strengthening mudbath, good for averting the over-refinement, wherewith such efflorescence always threatens us. I believe that a man who considers how high the sciences have[Pg 315] mounted with our upper classes,—for instance with every Patrician's son in Nürnberg, to whom the public must present 1000 florins for studying with,—I believe that such a man will not grudge the Son of the Muses a certain barbarous Middle-age (the Burschen or Student Life, as it is called), which may again so case-harden him that his refinement shall not go beyond the limits. The Senior, while in Wittenberg, had protected the one hundred and eighty Academic Freedoms,—so many of them has Petrus Rebuffus summed up,[35]—against prescription, and lost none except his moral one, of which truly a man, even in a convent, can seldom make much. This gave our Quintus courage to relate certain pleasant somersets of his own, which at Leipzig, under the Incubus-pressure of poverty, he had contrived to execute. Let us hear him: His landlord, who was at the same time Professor and Miser, maintained in his enclosed court a whole community of hens: Fixlein, in company with three room-mates, without difficulty mastered the rent of a chamber, or closet: in general their main equipments, like Phœnixes, existed but in the singular number; one bed, in which always the one pair slept before midnight, the other after midnight, like nocturnal watchmen; one coat, in which one after the other they appeared in public, and which, like a watch-coat, was the national uniform of the company; and several other ones, Unities both of Interest and Place. Nowhere can you collect the stress-memorials and siege-medals of Poverty more pleasantly and philosophically than at College; the Academic burgher exhibits to us how many humorists and Diogeneses Germany has in it. Our Unitarians had just one thing four times, and that was hunger. The Quintus related, perhaps with a too pleasurable enjoyment of the recollection, how one of this famishing coro invented means of appropriating the Professor's hens as just tribute, or subsidies. He said (he was a Jurist), they must once for all borrow a legal fiction from the Feudal code, and look on the Professor as the soccage tenant, to whom the usufruct of the hen-yard and hen-house belonged; but[Pg 316] on themselves, as the feudal superiors of the same, to whom accordingly the vassal was bound to pay his feudal dues. And now, that the Fiction might follow Nature, continued he,—"fictio sequitur naturam,"—it behoved them to lay hold of said Yule-hens, by direct personal distraint. But into the court-yard there was no getting. The feudalist, therefore, prepared a fishing-line; stuck a bread-pill on the hook, and lowered his fishing-tackle, anglerwise, down into the court. In a few seconds the barb stuck in a hen's throat, and the hen now communicating with its feudal superior, could silently, like ships by Archimedes, be heaved aloft to the hungry air-fishing society, where, according to circumstances, the proper feudal name and title of possession failed not to be awaiting her: for the updrawn fowls were now denominated Christmas-fowls, now Forest-hens, Bailiff-hens, Pentecost and Summer-hens. "I begin," said the angling lord of the manor, "with taking Rutcher-dues, for so we call the triple and quintuple of the original quit-rent, when the vassal, as is the case here, has long neglected payment." The Professor, like any other prince, observed with sorrow the decreasing population of his hen-yard, for his subjects, like the Hebrews, were dying by enumeration. At last he had the happiness, while reading his lecture,—he was just come to the subject of Forest Salt and Coin Regalities,—to descry, through the window of his auditorium, a quit-rent hen suspended, like Ignatius Loyola in prayer, or Juno in her punishment, in middle air: he followed the incomprehensible direct ascension of the aeronautic animal, and at last descried at the upper window the attracting artist, and animal-magnetiser, who had drawn his lot for dinner from the hen-yard below. Contrary to all expectation, he terminated this fowling sport sooner than his Lecture on Regalities.

[35] From Peter I will copy one or two of these privileges; the whole of which were once, at the origin of universities, in full force. For instance, a student can compel a citizen to let him his house and his horse; an injury, done even to his relations, must be made good fourfold; he is not obliged to fulfil the written commands of the Pope; the neighbourhood must indemnify him for what is stolen from him; if he and a non-student are living at variance, the latter only can be expelled from the boarding-house; a Doctor is obliged to support a poor student; if he is killed, the next ten houses are laid under interdict till the murderer is discovered; his legacies are not abridged by falcidia, &c. &c.

Fixlein walked home, amid the vesperal melodies of the steeple sounding-holes; and by the road, courteously took off his hat before the empty windows of the Castle: houses of quality were to him like persons of quality, as in India the Pagoda at once represents the temple and the god. To the mother he brought feigned compliments, which she repaid with authentic ones; for this afternoon she had been over, with her historical tongue and nature-interrogating eye, visiting the white-muslin Thiennette. The mother was wont to show her every spare penny which he dropped into her large empty purse, and so raise him in the good graces of the Fräulein; for women feel their hearts much more attracted[Pg 317] towards a son, who tenderly reserves for a mother some of his benefits, than we do to a daughter anxiously caring for her father; perhaps from a hundred causes, and this among the rest, that in their experience of sons and husbands they are more used to find these persons mere six-feet thunder-clouds, forked waterspouts, or even reposing tornadoes.

Blessed Quintus! on whose Life this other distinction like an order of nobility does also shine, that thou canst tell it over to thy mother; as, for example, this past afternoon in the parsonage. Thy joy flows into another heart, and streams back from it, redoubled, into thy own. There is a closer approximating of hearts, and also of sounds, than that of the Echo; the highest approximation melts Tone and Echo into Resonance together.

It is historically certain that both of them supped this evening; and that instead of the whole dinner fragments which tomorrow might themselves represent a dinner, nothing but the cake-offering or pudding was laid upon the altar of the table. The mother, who for her own child would willingly have neglected not herself only, but all other people, now made a motion that to the Quintaner, who was sporting out of doors and baiting a bird instead of himself, there should no crum of the precious pastry be given, but only table-bread without the crust. But the Schoolman had a Christian disposition, and said that it was Sunday, and the young man liked something delicate to eat as well as he. Fixlein,—the counterpart of great men and geniuses,—was inclined to treat, to gift, to gratify a serving house-mate, rather than a man who is for the first time passing through the gate, and at the next post-stage will forget both his hospitable landlord and the last postmaster. On the whole, our Quintus had a touch of honour in him, and notwithstanding his thrift and sacred regard for money, he willingly gave it away in cases of honour, and unwillingly in cases of overpowering sympathy, which too painfully filled the cavities of his heart, and emptied those of his purse. Whilst the Quintaner was exercising the jus compascui on the cake, and six arms were peacefully resting on Thiennette's free-table, Fixlein read to himself and the company the Flachsenfingen Address-calendar; any higher thing, except Meusel's Gelehrtes Deutschland,[36] he could not figure: the Kammerherrs and Raths of the Calendar went tickling over his tongue like the[Pg 318] raisins of the cake; and of the more rich church-livings he, by reading, as it were levied a tithe.

[36] Literary Germany; a work (I believe of no great merit) which Richter often twitches in the same style.—Ed.

He purposely remained his own Edition in Sunday Wove-paper; I mean, he did not lay away his Sunday coat, even when the Prayer-bell tolled; for he had still much to do.

After supper, he was just about visiting the Fräulein, when he descried her in person, like a lily dipt in the red twilight, in the Castle-garden, whose western limit his house constituted, the southern one being the Chinese wall of the Castle.... By the way, how I got to the knowledge of all this, what Letter-boxes are, whether I myself was ever there, &c. &c.,—the whole of this shall, upon my life, be soon and faithfully communicated to the reader, and that too in the present Book.

Fixlein hopped forth like a Will-o'-wisp into the garden, whose flower-perfume was mingling with his supper-perfume. No one bowed lower to a nobleman than he, not out of plebeian servility, nor of self-interested cringing, but because he thought "a nobleman was a nobleman." But in this case his bow, instead of falling forwards, fell obliquely to the right, as it were after his hat: for he had not risked taking a stick with him; and hat and stick were his proppage and balance-wheel, in short, his bowing-gear, without which it was out of his power to produce any courtly bow, had you offered him the High Church of Hamburg for so doing. Thiennette's mirthfulness soon unfolded his crumpled soul into straight form, and into the proper tone. He delivered her a long neat Thanksgiving and Harvest sermon for the scaly cake; which appeared to her at once kind and tedious. Young women without the polish of high life reckon tedious pedantry, merely like snuffing, one of the necessary ingredients of a man: they reverence us infinitely; and as Lambert could never speak to the King of Prussia, by reason of his sun-eyes, except in the dark, so they, I believe, often like better,—also by reason of our sublime air,—if they can catch us in the dark too. Him Thiennette edified by the Imperial History of Herr von Aufhammer and Her Ladyship his spouse, who meant to put him, the Quintus, in her will: her he edified by his Literary History, as relating to himself and the Subrector; how, for instance, he was at present vicariating in the Second Form, and ruling over scholars as long in stature as himself. And thus did the two in happiness, among red bean-blossoms, red may-chafers, before the red of the twilight burning lower and lower on the horizon, walk to and fro in the garden;[Pg 319] and turn always with a smile as they approached the head of the ancient gardeneress, standing like a window-bust through the little lattice, which opened in the bottom of a larger one.

To me it is incomprehensible he did not fall in love. I know his reasons, indeed: in the first place, she had nothing; secondly, he had nothing, and school-debts to boot; thirdly, her genealogical tree was a boundary-tree and warning-post; fourthly, his hands were tied up by another nobler thought, which, for good cause, is yet reserved from the reader. Nevertheless—Fixlein! I durst not have been in thy place! I should have looked at her, and remembered her virtues and our school-years, and then have drawn forth my too fusible heart, and presented it to her as a bill of exchange, or insinuated it as a summons. For I should have considered that she resembled a nun in two senses, in her good heart and in her good pastry; that, in spite of her intercourse with male vassals, she was no Charles Genevieve Louise Auguste Timothé Eon de Beaumont,[37] but a smooth, fair-haired, white-capped dove; that she sought more to please her own sex than ours; that she showed a melting heart, not previously borrowed from the Circulating Library, in tears, for which in her innocence she rather took shame than credit.—At the very first cheapening, I should, on these grounds, have been out with my heart.—Had I fully reflected, Quintus! that I knew her as myself; that her hands and mine (to wit, had I been thou) had both been guided by the same Senior to Latin penmanship; that we two, when little children, had kissed each other before the glass, to see whether the two image-children would do it likewise in the mirror; that often we had put hands of both sexes into the same muff, and there played with them in secret; had I, lastly, considered that we were here standing before the glass-house, now splendent in the enamel of twilight, and that on the cold panes of this glass-house we two (she within, I without) had often pressed our warm cheeks together, parted only by the thickness of the glass,—then had I taken this poor gentle soul, pressed asunder by Fate, and seeing, amid her thunder-clouds, no higher elevation to part them and protect her than the grave, and had drawn her to my own soul, and warmed her on my heart, and encompassed her about with my eyes.

[37] See Schmelzle's Journey, p. 284.Ed.

In truth, the Quintus would have done so too, had not the above-mentioned nobler thought, which I yet disclose not, kept[Pg 320] him back. Softened, without knowing the cause—(accordingly he gave his mother a kiss)—and blessed without having had a literary conversation; and dismissed with a freight of humble compliments, which he was to disload on the morrow before the Dragoon Rittmeisterinn, he returned to his little cottage, and looked yet a long while out of its dark windows, at the light ones of the Castle. And then, when the first quarter of the moon was setting, that is, about midnight, he again, in the cool sigh of a mild, fanning, moist and directly heart-addressing night-breeze, opened the eyelids of a sight already sunk in dreaming....

Sleep, for today thou hast done naught ill! I, whilst the drooping shut flower-bell of thy spirit sinks on thy pillow, will look forth into the breezy night over thy morning footpath, which, through the translucent little wood, is to lead thee to Schadeck, to thy patroness. All prosperity attend thee, thou foolish Quintus!—


Frau von Aufhammer. Childhood-Resonance. Authorcraft.

The early piping which the little thrush last night adopted by the Quintaner from its nest, started for victual about two o'clock, soon drove our Quintus into his clothes; whose calender-press and parallel-ruler the hands of his careful mother had been, for she would not send him to the Rittmeisterinn "like a runagate dog." The Shock was incarcerated, the Quintaner taken with him, as likewise many wholesome rules from Mother Fixlein, how to conduct himself towards the Rittmeisterinn. But the son answered: "Mamma, when a man has been in company, like me, with high people, with a Fräulein Thiennette, he soon knows whom he is speaking to, and what polished manners and Saver di veaver (Savoir vivre) require."

He arrived with the Quintaner, and green fingers (dyed with the leaves he had plucked on the path), and with a half-nibbled rose between his teeth, in presence of the sleek lackeys of Schadeck.—If women are flowers,—though as often silk and Italian and gum-flowers as botanical ones,—then was Frau von Aufhammer a ripe flower, with (adipose) neck-bulb, and tuberosity (of lard). Already, in the half of her body, cut away from life by the apoplexy, she lay upon her lard-pillow but as on a softer[Pg 321] grave: nevertheless, the portion of her that remained was at once lively, pious and proud. Her heart was a flowing cornucopia to all men, yet this not from philanthropy, but from rigid devotion: the lower classes she assisted, cherished and despised, regarding nothing in them, except it were their piety. She received the bowing Quintus with the back-bowing air of a patroness; yet she brightened into a look of kindliness at his disloading of the compliments from Thiennette.

She began the conversation, and long continued it alone, and said,—yet without losing the inflation of pride from her countenance: "She should soon die; but the god-children of her husband she would remember in her will." Farther, she told him directly in the face, which stood there all over-written with the Fourth Commandment before her, that "he must not build upon a settlement in Hukelum; but to the Flachsenfingen Conrectorate (to which the Bürgermeister and Council had the right of nomination), she hoped to promote him, as it was from the then Bürgermeister that she bought her coffee, and from the Town-Syndic (he drove a considerable wholesale and retail trade in Hamburg candles) that she bought both her wax and tallow lights."

And now by degrees he arrived at his humble petition, when she asked him sick-news of Senior Astmann, who guided himself more by Luther's Catechism than by the Catechism of Health. She was Astmann's patroness in a stricter than ecclesiastical sense; and she even confessed that she would soon follow this, true shepherd of souls, when she heard, here at Shadeck, the sound of his funeral-bell. Such strange chemical affinities exist between our dross and our silver veins; as, for example, here between Pride and Love: and I could wish that we would pardon this hypostatic union in all persons, as readily as we do it in the fair, who, with all their faults, are nevertheless by us,—as, according to Du Fay, iron, though mixed with any other metal, is, by the magnet,—attracted and held fast.

Supposing even that the Devil had, in some idle minute, sown a handful or two of the seeds of Envy in our Quintus' soul, yet they had not sprouted; and today especially they did not, when he heard the praises of a man who had been his teacher, and who,—what he reckoned a Titulado of the Earth, not from vanity but from piety,—was a clergyman. So much, however, is, according to History, not to be denied: That he now straight-way came forth with his petition to the noble lady, signifying[Pg 322] that "indeed he would cheerfully content himself for a few years in the school; but yet in the end he longed to be in some small quiet priestly office." To her question, "But was he orthodox?" he answered, that "he hoped so; he had in Leipzig, not only attended all the public lectures of Dr. Burscher, but also had taken private instructions from several sound teachers of the faith, well knowing that the Consistorium, in its examinations as to purity of doctrine, was now more strict than formerly."

The sick lady required him to make a proof-shot, namely, to administer to her a sick-bed exhortation. By Heaven! he administered to her one of the best. Her pride of birth now crouched before his pride of office and priesthood; for though he could not, with the Dominican monk, Alanus de Rupe, believe that a priest was greater than God, inasmuch as the latter could only make a World, but the former a God (in the mass); yet he could not but fall-in with Hostiensis, who shows that the priestly dignity is seven thousand six hundred and forty-four times greater than the kingly, the Sun being just so many times greater than the Moon.—But a Rittmeisterinn—she shrinks into absolute nothing before a parson.

In the servants' hall he applied to the lackeys for the last annual series of the Hamburg Political Journal; perceiving, that with these historical documents of the time, they were scandalously papering the buttons of travelling raiment. In gloomy harvest evenings, he could now sit down and read for himself what good news were transpiring in the political world—twelve months ago.

On a Triumphal Car, full-laden with laurel, and to which Hopes alone were yoked, he drove home at night, and by the road advised the Quintaner not to be puffed up with any earthly honour, but silently to thank God, as himself was now doing.

The thickset blooming grove of his four canicular weeks, and the flying tumult of blossoms therein, are already painted on three of the sides. I will now clutch blindfold into his days, and bring out one of them: one smiles and sends forth its perfumes like another.

Let us take, for instance, the Saint's day of his mother, Clara, the twelfth of August. In the morning, he had perennial, fireproof joys, that is to say, Employments. For he was writing, as I am doing. Truly, if Xerxes proposed a prize for the invention[Pg 323] of a new pleasure, any man who had sat down to write his thoughts on the prize-question, had the new pleasure already among his fingers. I know only one thing sweeter than making a book, and that is, to project one. Fixlein used to write little works, of the twelfth part of an alphabet in size, which in their manuscript state he got bound by the bookbinder in gilt boards, and betitled with printed letters, and then inserted them among the literary ranks of his book-board. Every one thought they were novelties printed in writing types. He had laboured,—I shall omit his less interesting performances,—at a Collection of Errors of the Press, in German writings: he compared Errata with each other; showed which occurred most frequently; observed that important results were to be drawn from this, and advised the reader to draw them.

Moreover, he took his place among the German Masorites. He observes with great justice in his Preface: "The Jews had their Masora to show, which told them how often every letter was to be found in their Bible; for example, the Aleph (the A) 42,377 times; how many verses there are in which all the consonants appear (there are 26 verses), or only eighty (there are 3); how many verses we have into which 42 words and 160 consonants enter (there is just one, Jeremiah xxi. 7); which is the middle letter in certain books (in the Pentateuch, it is in Leviticus xi. 42, the noble V[38]), or in the whole Bible itself. But where have we Christians any similar Masora for Luther's Bible to show? Has it been accurately investigated which is the middle word, or the middle letter here, which vowel appears seldomest, and how often each vowel? Thousands of Bible-Christians go out of the world, without ever knowing that the German A occurs 323,015 times (therefore above 7 times oftener than the Hebrew one) in their Bible."

[38] As in the State.—V. or Von, de, of, being the symbol of the nobility, the middle order of the State.—Ed.

I could wish that inquirers into Biblical Literature among our Reviewers would publicly let me know, if on a more accurate summation they find this number incorrect.[39]

[39] In Erlang, my petition has been granted. The Bible Institution of that town have found instead of the 116,301 A's, which Fixlein at first pretended with such certainty to find in the Bible-books (which false number was accordingly given in the first Edition of this Work, p. 81), the above-mentioned 323,015; which (uncommonly singular) is precisely the sum of all the letters in the Koran put together. See Lüdeke's Beschr. des Türk. Reichs (Lüdeke's Description of the Turkish Empire. New edition, 1780).

[Pg 324]

Much also did the Quintus collect: he had a fine Almanac Collection, a Catechism and Pamphlet Collection; also a Collection of Advertisements, which he began, is not so incomplete as you most frequently see such things. He puts high value on his Alphabetical Lexicon of German Subscribers for Books, where my name also occurs among the J's.

But what he liked best to produce were Schemes of Books. Accordingly, he sewed together a large work, wherein he merely advised the Learned of things they ought to introduce in Literary History, which History he rated some ells higher than Universal or Imperial History. In his Prolegomena to this performance, he transiently submitted to the Literary republic that Hommel had given a register of Jurists who were sons of wh—, of others who had become Saints; that Baillet enumerates the Learned who meant to write something; and Ancillon those who wrote nothing at all; and the Lübeck Superintendent Götze, those who were shoemakers, those who were drowned; and Bernhard those whose fortunes and history before birth were interesting. This (he could now continue) should, as it seems, have excited us to similar muster-rolls and matriculations of other kinds of Learned; whereof he proposed a few: for example, of the Learned, who were unlearned; of those who were entire rascals; of such as wore their own hair,—of cue-preachers, cue-psalmists, cue-annalists, and so forth; of the Learned who had worn black leather breeches, of others who had worn rapiers; of the Learned who had died in their eleventh year,—in their twentieth—twenty-first, &c.,—in their hundred and fiftieth, of which he knew no instance, unless the Beggar Thomas Parr might be adduced; of the Learned who wrote a more abominable hand than the other Learned (whereof we know only Rolfinken and his letters, which were as long as his hands[40]); or of the Learned who had clipt nothing from each other but the beard (whereof no instance is known, save that of Philelphus and Timotheus[41]).

[40] Paravicini Singularia de viris claris. Cent. I. 2.

[41] Ejusd. Cent. II. Philelphus quarrelled with the Greek about the quantity of a syllable: the prize or bet was the beard of the vanquished. Timotheus lost his.

Such by-studies did he carry on along with his official labours: but I think the State in viewing these matters is actually mad; it compares the man who is great in Philosophy and Belles Lettres at the expense of his jog-trot officialities, to concert-clocks, which,[Pg 325] though striking their hours in flute-melodies, are worse time-keepers than your gross stupid steeple-clocks.

To return to St. Clara's day. Fixlein, after such mental exertions, bolted out under the music-bushes and rustling-trees; and returned not again out of warm Nature, till plate and chair were already placed at the table. In the course of the repast, something occurred which a Biographer must not omit: for his mother had, by request, been wont to map out for him, during the process of mastication, the chart of his child's-world, relating all the traits which in any way prefigured what he had now grown to. This perspective sketch of his early Past, he committed to certain little leaves, which merit our undivided attention. For such leaves exclusively, containing scenes, acts, plays of his childhood, he used chronologically to file and arrange in separate drawers in a little child's-desk of his; and thus to divide his Biography, as Moser did his Publicistic Materials, into separate letter-boxes. He had boxes or drawers for memorial-letters of his twelfth, of his thirteenth, fourteenth, &c. of his twenty-first year, and so on. Whenever he chose to conclude a day of pedagogic drudgery by an evening of peculiar rest, he simply pulled out a letter-drawer, a register-bar in his Life-hand-organ, and recollected the whole.

And here must I in reference to those reviewing Mutes, who may be for casting the noose of strangulation round my neck, most particularly beg, that, before doing so on account of my Chapters being called Letter-boxes, they would have the goodness to look whose blame it was, and to think whether I could possibly help it, seeing the Quintus had divided his Biography into such Boxes himself: they have Christian bowels.

But about his elder brother he put no saddening question to his mother: this poor boy a peculiar Fate had laid hold of, and with all his genial endowment, dashed to pieces on the iceberg of Death. For he chanced to leap on an ice-board that had jammed itself among several others; but these recoiled, and his shot forth with him; melted away as it floated under his feet, and so sunk his heart of fire amid the ice and waves. It grieved his mother that he was not found, that her heart had not been harrowed by the look of the swoln corpse.—O good mother, rather thank God for it!—

After breakfast, to fortify himself with new vigour for his desk,[Pg 326] he for some time strolled idly over the house, and, like a Police Fire-inspector, visited all the nooks of his cottage, to gather from them here and there a live ember from the ash-covered rejoicing-fire of his childhood. He mounted to the garret, to the empty bird-coops of his father, who in winter had been a birder; and he transiently reviewed the lumber of his old playthings, which were lying in the netted enclosure of a large canary breeding-cage. In the minds of children, it is regular little forms, such as those of balls and dies, that impress and express themselves most forcibly. From this may the reader explain to himself Fixlein's delight in the red acorn-blockhouse, in the sparwork glued together out of white chips and husks of potato-plums, in the cheerful glass-house of a cube-shaped lantern, and other the like products of his early architecture. The following, however, I explain quite differently: he had ventured, without leave given from any lord of the manor, to build a clay house; not for cottagers, but for flies; and which, therefore, you could readily enough have put in your pocket. This fly-hospital had its glass windows, and a red coat of colouring, and very many alcoves, and three balconies: balconies, as a sort of house within a house, he had loved from of old so much, that he could scarcely have liked Jerusalem well, where (according to Lightfoot) no such thing is permitted to be built. From the glistening eyes, with which the architect had viewed his tenantry creeping about the windows or feeding out of the sugar-trough,—for, like the Count St. Germain, they ate nothing but sugar,—from this joy an adept in the art of education might easily have prophesied his turn for household contraction; to his fancy, in those times, even gardeners'-huts were like large waste Arks and Halls, and nothing bigger than such a fly-Louvre seemed a true, snug, citizen's-house. He now felt and handled his old high child's-stool, which had, in former days, resembled the Sedes Exploratoria of the Pope; he gave his child's-coach a tug and made it run; but he could not understand what balsam and holiness so much distinguished it from all other child's-coaches. He wondered that the real sports of children should not so delight him, as the emblems of these sports, when the child that had carried them on was standing grown up to manhood in his presence.

Before one article in the house he stood heart-melted and sad; before a little angular clothes-press, which was no higher than my table, and which had belonged to his poor drowned brother.[Pg 327] When the boy with the key of it was swallowed by the waves, the excruciated mother had made a vow that this toy-press of his should never be broken up by violence. Most probably there is nothing in it, but the poor soul's playthings. Let us look away from this bloody urn.——

Bacon reckons the remembrances of childhood among wholesome medicinal things; naturally enough, therefore, they acted like a salutary digestive on the Quintus. He could now again betake him with new heart to his desk, and produce something quite peculiar—petitions for church-livings. He took the Address-calendar, and for every country parish that he found in it, got a petition in readiness; which he then laid aside, till such time as the present incumbent should decease. For Hukelum alone he did not solicit.—It is a pretty custom in Flachsenfingen that for every office which is vacant, you are required, if you want it, to sue. As the higher use of Prayer consists not in its fulfilment, but in its accustoming you to pray; so likewise petitionary papers ought to be given in, not indeed that you may get the office,—this nothing but your money can do,—but that you may learn to write petitions. In truth, if among the Calmucks, the turning of a calabash[42] stands in the place of Prayer, a slight movement of the purse may be as much as if you supplicated in words.

[42] Their prayer-barrel, Kürüdu, is a hollowed shell, a calabash, full of unrolled formulas of prayer; they sway it from side to side, and then it works. More philosophically viewed, since in prayer the feeling only is of consequence, it is much the same whether this express itself by motion of the mouth or of the calabash.

Towards evening—it was Sunday—he went out roving over the village; he pilgrimed to his old sporting-places, and to the common where he had so often driven his snails to pasture; visited the peasant, who, from school-times upwards, had been wont, to the amazement of the rest, to thou[43] him; went, an Academic Tutor, to the Schoolmaster; then to the Senior; then to the Episcopal-barn or church. This last no mortal understands, till I explain it. The case was this: some three-and-forty years ago,[Pg 328] a fire had destroyed the church (not the steeple), the parsonage, and—what was not to be replaced—the church-records. (For this reason, it was only the smallest portion of the Hukelum people that knew exactly how old they were; and the memory of our Quintus himself vibrated between adopting the thirty-third year and the thirty-second.) In consequence, the preaching had now to be carried on where formerly there had been thrashing; and the seed of the divine word to be turned over on the same threshing-floor with natural corn-seed. The Chanter and the Schoolboys took up the threshing-floor; the female mother-church-people stood on the one sheaves-loft, the Schadeck womankind on the other; and their husbands clustered pyramidically, like groschen and farthing-gallery men, about the barn-stairs; and far up on the straw-loft, mixed souls stood listening. A little flute was their organ, an upturned beer-cask their altar, round which they had to walk. I confess, I myself could have preached in such a place, not without humour. The Senior (at that time still a Junior), while the parsonage was building, dwelt and taught in the Castle: it was here, accordingly, that Fixlein had learned the Irregular Verbs with Thiennette.

[43] In German, as in some other languages, the common mode of address is by the third person: plural, it indicates respect; singular, command: the second person is also used; plural, it generally denotes indifference; singular, great familiarity, and sometimes its product, contempt. Dutzenfreund, Thouing-friend, is the strictest term of intimacy; and among the wild Burschen (Students) many a duel (happily, however, often ending like the Polemo-Midinia in one drop of blood) has been fought, in consequence of saying Du (thou) and Sie (they) in the wrong place.—Ed.

These voyages of discovery completed, our Hukelum voyager could still, after evening prayers, pick leaf-insects, with Thiennette, from the roses; worms from the beds, and a Heaven of joy from every minute. Every dew-drop was coloured as with oil of cloves and oil of gladness; every star was a sparkle from the sun of happiness; and in the closed heart of the maiden, there lay near to him, behind a little wall of separation (as near to the Righteous man behind the thin wall of Life), an outstretched blooming Paradise.... I mean, she loved him a little.

He might have known it, perhaps. But to his compressed delight he gave freer vent, as he went to bed, by early recollections on the stair. For in his childhood he had been accustomed, by way of evening-prayer, to go over, under his coverlid, as it were, a rosary, including fourteen Bible Proverbs, the first verse of the Psalm, "All people that on Earth," the Tenth Commandment, and, lastly, a long blessing. To get the sooner done with it, he had used to begin his devotion, not only on the stair, but before leaving that place where Alexander studied men, and Semler stupid books. Moored in the haven of the down-waves, he was already over with his evening supplication; and could now,[Pg 329] without farther exertion, shut his eyes and plump into sleep.——Thus does there lurk, in the smallest homunculus, the model of—the Catholic Church.

So far the Dog-days of Quintus Zebedäus Egidius Fixlein.—I, for the second time, close a Chapter of this Life, as Life itself is closed, with a sleep.


Christmas Recollections. New Occurrence.

For all of us the passage to the grave is, alas! a string of empty insipid days, as of glass pearls, only here and there divided by an orient one of price. But you die murmuring, unless, like the Quintus, you regard your existence as a drum: this has only one single tone, but variety of time gives the sound of it cheerfulness enough. Our Quintus taught in the Fourth Class; vicariated in the Second; wrote at his desk by night; and so lived on in the usual monotonous fashion—all the time from the Holidays—till Christmas-eve, 1791; and nothing was remarkable in his history except this same eve, which I am now about to paint.

But I shall still have time to paint it, after, in the first place, explaining shortly how, like birds of passage, he had contrived to soar away over the dim cloudy Harvest. The secret was, he set upon the Hamburg Political Journal, with which the lackeys of Schadeck had been for papering their buttons. He could now calmly, with his back at the stove, accompany the winter campaigns of the foregoing year; and fly after every battle, as the ravens did after that of Pharsalia. On the printed paper he could still, with joy and admiration, walk round our German triumphal arches and scaffoldings for fireworks: while to the people in the town, who got only the newest newspapers, the very fragments of these our trophies, maliciously torn down by the French, were scarcely discernible; nay, with old plans he could drive back and discomfit the enemy, while later readers in vain tried to resist them with new ones.

Moreover, not only did the facility of conquering the French prepossess him in favour of this journal; but also the circumstance that it—cost him nothing. His attachment to gratis reading was decided. And does not this throw light on the fact, that[Pg 330] he, as Morhof advised, was wont sedulously to collect the separate leaves of waste-paper books as they came from the grocer, and to rake among the same, as Virgil did in Ennius? Nay, for him the grocer was a Fortius (the scholar), or a Frederick (the king), both which persons were in the habit of simply cutting from complete books such leaves as contained anything. It was also this respect for all waste-paper that inspired him with such esteem for the aprons of French cooks, which it is well known consist of printed paper; and he often wished some German would translate these aprons: indeed I am willing to believe that a good version of more than one of such paper aprons might contribute to elevate our Literature (this Muse à belles fesses), and serve her in place of drivel-bib.—On many things a man puts a pretium affectionis, simply because he hopes he may have half stolen them: on this principle, combined with the former, our Quintus adopted into his belief anything he could snap away from an open Lecture, or as a visitor in class-rooms; opinions only for which the Professor must be paid, he rigorously examined.—I return to the Christmas-eve.

At the very first, Egidius was glad, because out of doors millers and bakers were at fisty-cuffs (as we say of drifting snow in large flakes), and the ice-flowers of the window were blossoming; for external frost, with a snug warm room, was what he liked. He could now put fir-wood into his stove, and Mocha coffee into his stomach; and shove his right foot (not into the slipper, but) under the warm side of his Shock, and also on the left keep swinging his pet Starling, which was pecking at the snout of old Schil; and then with the right hand—with the left he was holding his pipe—proceed, so undisturbed, so intrenched, so cloud-capt, without the smallest breath of frost, to the highest enterprise which a Quintus can attempt,—to writing the Class-prodromus of the Flachsenfingen Gymnasium, namely, the eighth part thereof. I hold the first printing in the history of a literary man to be more important than the first printing in the history of Letters: Fixlein could not sate himself with specifying what he purposed, God willing, in the following year, to treat of; and accordingly, more for the sake of printing than of use, he farther inserted three or four pedagogic glances at the plan of operations to be followed by his schoolmaster colleagues as a body.

He lastly introduced a few dashes, by way of hooking his thoughts together; and then laid aside the Opus, and would no[Pg 331] longer look at it, that so, when printed, he might stand astonished at his own thoughts. And now he could take the Leipzig Fair Catalogue, which he purchased yearly, instead of the books therein, and open it without a sigh: he too was in print, as well as I am.

The happy fool, while writing, had shaken his head, rubbed his hands, hitched about on his chair, puckered his face, and sucked the end of his cue.—He could now spring up about five o'clock in the evening, to recreate himself; and across the magic vapour of his pipe, like a new-caught bird, move up and down in his cage. On the warm smoke, the long galaxy of street-lamps was gleaming; and red on his bed-curtains lay the fitful reflection of the blazing windows, and illuminated trees in the neighbourhood. And now he shook away the snow of Time from the winter-green of Memory; and beheld the fair years of his childhood, uncovered, fresh, green and balmy, standing afar off before him. From his distance of twenty years, he looked into the quiet cottage of his parents, where his father and his brother had not yet been reaped away by the sickle of Death. He said to himself: "I will go through the whole Christmas-eve from the very dawn, as I had it of old."

At his very rising he finds spangles on the table; sacred spangles from the gold-leaf and silver-leaf, with which the Christ-child[44] has been emblazoning and coating his apples and nuts, the presents of the night.—On the mint-balance of joy, this metallic foam pulls heavier than the golden calves, and golden Pythagoras'-legs, and golden Philistine-mice of wealthier capitalists.—Then came his mother, bringing him both Christianity and clothes: for in drawing on his trousers, she easily recapitulated the Ten Commandments, and, in tying his garters, the Apostles' Creed. So soon as candle-light was over, and day-light come, he clambers to the arm of the settle, and then measures the nocturnal growth of the yellow wiry grove of Christmas-Birch; and devotes far less attention than usual to the little white winter-flowerage, which the seeds shaken from the bird-cage are sending forth in the wet joints of the window-panes.—I nowise[Pg 332] grudge J. J. Rousseau his Flora Petrinsularis;[45] but let him also allow our Quintus his Window-flora.—There was no such thing as school all day; so he had time enough to seek his Butcher (his brother), and commence (when could there be finer frost for it?) the slaughtering of their winter-meat. Some days before, the brother, at the peril of his life and of a cudgelling, had caught their stalled-beast—so they called the sparrow—under a window-sill in the Castle. Their slaughtering wants not an axe (of wood), nor puddings, nor potted meat.—About three o'clock the old Gardener, whom neighbours have to call the Professor of Gardening, takes his place on his large chair, with his Cologne tobacco-pipe; and after this no mortal shall work a stroke. He tells nothing but lies; of the aeronautic Christ-child, and the jingling Ruprecht with his bells. In the dusk, our little Quintus takes an apple; divides it into all the figures of stereometry, and spreads the fragments in two heaps on the table: then as the lighted candle enters, he starts up in amazement at the unexpected present, and says to his brother: "Look what the good Christ-child has given thee and me; and I saw one of his wings glittering." And for this same glittering he himself lies in wait the whole evening.

[44] These antique Christmas festivities Richter describes with equal gusto in another work (Briefe und Zukünftige Lebenslemf); where the Christ-child (falsely reported to the young ones, to have been seen flying through the air, with gold wings); the Birch-bough fixed in a corner of the room, and by him made to grow; the fruit, of gilt sweetmeats, apples, nuts, which (for good boys) it suddenly produces, &c. &c. are specified with the same fidelity as here.—Ed.

[45] Which he purposed to make for his Island of St. Pierre in the Bienne Lake.

About eight o'clock,—here he walks chiefly by the chronicle of his letter-drawer,—both of them, with necks almost excoriated with washing, and in clean linen, and in universal anxiety lest the Holy Christ-child find them up, are put to bed. What a magic night!—What tumult of dreaming hopes!—The populous, motley, glittering cave of Fancy opens itself, in the length of the night, and in the exhaustion of dreamy effort, still darker and darker, fuller and more grotesque; but the awakening gives back to the thirsty heart its hopes. All accidental tones, the cries of animals, of watchmen, are, for the timidly devout Fancy, sounds out of Heaven; singing voices of Angels in the air, church-music of the morning worship.

Ah! it was not the mere Lubberland of sweetmeats and playthings which then, with its perspective, stormed like a river of joy against the chambers of our hearts; and which yet, in the moonlight of memory, with its dusky landscapes, melts our souls in sweetness. Ah! this was it, that then for our boundless wishes there were still boundless hopes: but now reality is round us, and the wishes are all that we have left!

[Pg 333]

At last came rapid lights from the neighbourhood playing through the window on the walls, and the Christmas trumpets, and the crowing from the steeple, hurries both the boys from their bed. With their clothes in their hands, without fear for the darkness, without feeling for the morning-frost, rushing, intoxicated, shouting, they hurry down-stairs into the dark room. Fancy riots in the pastry and fruit-perfume of the still eclipsed treasures, and paints her air-castles by the glimmering of the Hesperides-fruit with which the Birch-tree is loaded. While their mother strikes a light, the falling sparks sportfully open and shroud the dainties on the table, and the many-coloured grove on the wall; and a single atom of that fire bears on it a hanging garden of Eden.——

—On a sudden all grew light; and the Quintus got—the Conrectorship, and a table-clock.


Office-brokage. Discovery of the promised Secret. Hans van Füchslein.

For while the Quintus, in his vapoury chamber, was thus running over the sounding-board of his early years, the Rathsdiener, or City-officer, entered with a lantern and the Presentation; and behind him the courier of the Frau von Aufhammer with a note and a table-clock. The Rittmeisterinn had transformed her payment for the Dog-days sickbed-exhortation into a Christmas present; which consisted, first, of a table-clock, with a wooden ape thereon, starting out when the hours struck, and drumming along with every stroke; secondly, of the Conrectorate, which she had procured for him.

As in the public this appointment from the private Flachsenfingen Council has not been judged of as it deserved, I consider it my duty to offer a defence for the body corporate; and that rather here, than in the Reichsanzeiger, or Imperial Indicator.—I have already mentioned, in the Second Letter-Box, that the Town-Syndic drove a trade in Hamburg candles; and the then Bürgermeister in coffee-beans, which he sold as well whole as ground. Their joint traffic, however, which they carried on exclusively, was in the eight School-offices of Flachsenfingen: the other members of the Council acting only as bale-wrappers, shopmen[Pg 334] and accountants in the Council wareroom. A Council-house, indeed, is like an India-house, where not only resolutions or appointments, but also shoes and cloth, are exposed to sale. Properly speaking, the Councillor derives his freedom of office-trading from that principle of the Roman law: Cui jus est donandi, eidem et vendendi jus est, that is to say, He who has the right of giving anything away, has also a right to dispose of it for money, if he can. Now as the Council-members have palpably the right of conferring offices gratis, the right of selling them must follow of course.

Short Extra-word on Appointment-brokers in general.

My chief anxiety is lest the Academy-product-sale-Commission[46] of the State carry on its office-trade too slackly. And what but the commonweal must suffer in the long-run, if important posts are distributed, not according to the current cash, which is laid down for them, but according to connexions, relationships, party recommendations, and bowings and cringings? Is it not a contradiction, to charge titulary offices dearer than real ones? Should not one rather expect that the real Hofrath would pay higher by the alterum tantum than the mere titulary Hofrath?—Money, among European nations, is now the equivalent and representative of value in all things, and consequently in understanding; the rather as a head is stamped on it: to pay down the purchase-money of an office is therefore neither more nor less than to stand an examen rigorosum, which is held by a good schema examinandi. To invert this, to pretend exhibiting your qualifications, in place of these their surrogates, and assignates and monnoie de confiance, is simply to resemble the crazy philosophers in Gulliver's Travels, who, for social converse, instead of names of things, brought the things themselves tied up in a bag; it is, indeed, plainly as much as trying to fall back into the barbarous times of trade by barter, when the Romans, instead of the figured cattle on their leather money, drove forth the beeves themselves.

[46] Borrowed from the "Imperial Mine-product-sale-Commission," in Vienna: in their very names these Vienna people show taste.

From all such injudicious notions I myself am so far removed, that often when I used to read that the King of France was devising new offices, to stand and sell them under the booth of his Baldaquin, I have set myself to do something of the like. This I shall now at least calmly propose; not vexing my heart whether[Pg 335] Governments choose to adopt it or not. As our Sovereign will not allow us to multiply offices purely for sale, nay, on the contrary, is day and night (like managers of strolling companies) meditating how to give more parts to one State-actor; and thus to the Three Stage Unities to add a Fourth, that of Players; as the above French method, therefore, will not apply, could not we at least contrive to invent some Virtues harmonising with the offices, along with which they might be sold as titles? Might we not, for instance, with the office of a Referendary, put off at the same time a titular Incorruptibility, for a fair consideration; and so that this virtue, as not belonging to the office, must be separately paid for by the candidate? Such a market-title and patent of nobility could not but be ornamental to a Referendary. We forget that in former times such high titles were appended to all posts whatsoever: the scholastic Professor then wrote himself (besides his official designation) "The Seraphic," "The Incontrovertible," "The Penetrating;" the King wrote himself "The Great," "The Bald," "The Bold," and so also did the Rabbins. Could it be unpleasant to gentlemen in the higher stations of Justice, if the titles of Impartiality, Rapidity, &c. might be conferred on them by sale, as well as the posts themselves? Thus with the appointment of a Kammerrath, or Councillor of Revenue, the virtue of Patriotism might fitly be conjoined; and I believe, few Advocates would grudge purchasing the title of Integrity (as well as their common one of Government-advocacy), were it to be had in the market. If, however, any candidate chose to take his post without the virtues, then it would stand with himself to do so, and in the adoption of this reflex morality, Government should not constrain him.

It might be that, as, according to Tristram Shandy, clothes; according to Walter Shandy and Lavater, proper names exert an influence on men, appellatives would do so still more; since, on us, as on testaceous animals, the foam so often hardens into shell: but such internal morality is not a thing the State can have an eye to; for, as in the fine arts, it is not this, but the representation of it, which forms her true aim.

I have found it rather difficult to devise for our different offices different verbal-virtues; but I should think there might many such divisions of Virtue (at this moment, Love of Freedom, Public-spirit, Sincerity and Uprightness occur to me) be hunted out; were but some well-disposed minister of state to appoint a[Pg 336] Virtue-board or Moral Address Department, with some half dozen secretaries, who, for a small salary, might devise various virtues for the various posts. Were I in their place, I should hold a good prism before the white ray of Virtue, and divide it completely. Pity that it were not crimes we wanted—their subdivision I mean;—our country Judges might then be selected for this purpose. For in their tribunals, where only inferior jurisdiction, and no penalty above five florins Frankish, is admitted, they have a daily training how out of every mischief to make several small ones, none of which they ever punish to a greater amount than their five florins. This is a precious moral Rolfinkenism, which our Jurists have learned from the great Sin-cutters, St. Augustin and his Sorbonne, who together have carved more sins on Adam's Sin-apple than ever Rolfinken did faces on a cherry-stone. How different one of our Judges from a Papal Casuist, who, by side-scrapings, will rasp you down the best deadly sin into a venial!—

School-offices (to come to these) are a small branch of traffic certainly; yet still they are monarchies,—school-monarchies, to wit,—resembling the Polish crown, which, according to Pope's verse, is twice exposed to sale in the century; a statement, I need hardly say, arithmetically false, Newton having settled the average duration of a reign at twenty-two years. For the rest, whether the city Council bring the young of the community a Hameln Rat-and-Child-catcher; or a Weisse's Child's-friend,—this to the Council can make no difference; seeing the Schoolmaster is not a horse, for whose secret defects the horse-dealer is to be responsible. It is enough if Town-Syndic and Co. cannot reproach themselves with having picked out any fellow of genius; for a genius, as he is useless to the State, except for recreation and ornament, would at the very least exclude the duller, cooler head, who properly forms the true care and profit of the State; as your costly carat-pearl is good for show alone, but coarse grain-pearls for medicine. On the whole, if a schoolmaster be adequate to flog his scholars, it should suffice; and I cannot but blame our Commission of Inspectors when they go examining schools, that they do not make the schoolmaster go through the duty of firking one or two young persons of his class in their presence, by way of trial, to see what is in him.

End of the Extra-word on Appointment-brokers in general.

[Pg 337]

Now again to our history! The Councillor Heads of the Firm had conferred the Conrectorate on my hero, not only with a view to the continued consumpt of candles and beans, but also on the strength of a quite mad notion: they believed, the Quintus would very soon die.

—And here I have reached a most important circumstance in this History, and one into which I have yet let no mortal look: now, however, it no longer depends on my will whether I shall shove aside the folding-screen from it or not; but I must positively lay it open, nay hang a reverberating-lamp over it.

In medical history, it is a well-known fact that in certain families the people all die precisely at the same age, just as in these families they are all born at the same age (of nine months); nay, from Voltaire, I recollect one family, the members of which at the same age all killed themselves. Now, in the Fixleinic lineage, it was the custom that the male ascendants uniformly on Cantata-Sunday, in their thirty-second year, took to bed and died: every one of my readers would do well to insert in his copy of the Thirty-Years War, Schiller having entirely omitted it, the fact, that in the course thereof, one Fixlein died of the plague, another of hunger, another of a musket-bullet; all in their thirty-second year. True Philosophy explains the matter thus: "The first two or three times, it happened purely by accident; and the other times, the people died of sheer fright: if not so, the whole fact is rather to be questioned."

But what did Fixlein make of the affair? Little or nothing: the only thing he did was, that he took little or no pains to fall in love with Thiennette; that so no other might have cause for fear on his account. He himself, however, for five reasons, minded it so little, that he hoped to be older than Senior Astmann before he died: First, because three Gipsies, in three different places and at three different times, had each shown him the same long vista of years in her magic mirror. Secondly, because he had a sound constitution. Thirdly, because his own brother had formed an exception, and perished before the thirties. Fourthly, on this ground: When a boy he had fallen sick of sorrow, on the very Cantata-Sunday when his father was lying in the winding-sheet, and only been saved from death by his playthings; and with this Cantata-sickness, he conceived that he had given the murderous Genius of his race the slip. Fifthly, the church-books being destroyed, and with them the certainty of his age, he could never[Pg 338] fall into a right definite deadly fear: "It may be," said he, "that I have got whisked away over this whoreson year, and no one the wiser." I will not deny that last year he had fancied he was two-and-thirty: "however," said he, "if I am not to be so till, God willing, the next (1792), it may run away as smoothly as the last; am I not always in His keeping? And were it unjust if the pretty years that were broken off from the life of my brother should be added to mine?"—Thus, under the cold snow of the Present, does poor man strive to warm himself, or to mould out of it a fair snow-man.

The Councillor Oligarchy, however, built upon the opposite opinion; and, like a Divinity, elevated our Quintus all at once from the Quintusship to the Conrectorate; swearing to themselves, that he would soon vacate it again. Properly speaking, by school-seniority, this holy chair should have belonged to the Subrector Hans von Füchslein; but he wished it not; being minded to become Hukelum Parson; especially, as Astmann's Death-angel, according to sure intelligence, was opening more and more widely the door of this spiritual sheepfold. "If the fellow weather another year, 'tis more than I expect," said Hans.

This Hans was such a churl, that it is pity he had not been a Hanoverian Postboy; that so, by the Mandate of the Hanoverian Government, enjoining on all its Post-officers an elegant style of manners, he might have somewhat refined himself. To our poor Quintus, whom no mortal disliked, and who again could hate no mortal, he alone bore a grudge; simply because Fixlein did not write himself Füchslein, and had not chosen along with him to purchase a Patent of Nobility. The Subrector, on this his Patent triumphal chariot, drawn by a team of four specified ancestors, was obliged to see the Quintus, who was related to him, clutching by the lackey-straps behind the carriage; and to hear him, in the most despicable raiment, saying to the train: "He that rides there is my cousin, and a mortal, and I always remind him of it." The mild compliant Quintus never noticed this large wasp-poisonbag in the Subrector, but took it for a honeybag; nay, by his brotherly warmness, which the nobleman regarded as mere show, he concreted these venomous juices into still feller consistency. The Quintus, in his simplicity, took Füchslein's contempt for envy of his pedagogic talents.

A Catherinenhof, an Annenhof, an Elizabethhof, Stralenhof and Petershof, all these Russian pleasure palaces, a man can dispense[Pg 339] with (if not despise), who has a room, in which on Christmas-eve he walks about with a Presentation in his hand. The new Conrector now longed for nothing but—daylight: joys always (cares never) nibbled from him, like sparrows, his sleep-grains; and tonight, moreover, the registrator of his glad time, the clock-ape, drummed out every hour to him, which, accordingly, he spent in gay dreaming, rather than in sound snoring.

On Christmas-morn, he looked at his Class-prodromus, and thought but little of it; he scarcely knew what to make of his last night's foolish inflation about his Quintusship: "the Quintus-post," said he to himself, "is not to be named in the same day with the Conrectorate; I wonder how I could parade so last night before my promotion; at present, I had more reason." Today he ate, as on all Sundays and holydays, with the Master-Butcher Steinberger, his former Guardian. To this man, Fixlein was, what common people are always, but polished philosophical and sentimental people very seldom are,—thankful: a man thanks you the less for presents, the more inclined he is to give presents of his own; and the beneficent is rarely a grateful person. Meister Steinberger, in the character of store-master, had introduced into the wire-cage of a garret, where Fixlein, while a Student at Leipzig, was suspended, many a well-filled trough with good canary-meat, of hung-beef, of household bread and Sauerkraut. Money indeed was never to be wrung from him: it is well known that he often sent the best calfskins gratis to the tanner, to be boots for our Quintus; but the tanning-charges the Ward himself had to bear.—On Fixlein's entrance, as was at all times customary, a smaller damask table-cloth was laid upon the large coarser one; the armchair; silver implements, and a wine-stoup were handed him; mere waste, which, as the Guardian used to say, suited well enough for a Scholar; but for a Flesher not at all. Fixlein first took his victuals, and then signified that he was made Conrector. "Ward," said Steinberger, "if you are made that, it is well.—Seest thou, Eva, I cannot buy a tail of thy cows now; I must have smelt it beforehand." He was hereby informing his daughter that the cash set apart for the fatted cattle must now be applied to the Conrectorate; for he was in the habit of advancing all instalment-dues to his ward, at an interest of four and a half per cent. Fifty gulden he had already lent the Quintus on his advancement to the Quintusship: of these the interest had to be duly paid; yet, on the day of payment, the Quintus always got[Pg 340] some abatement; being wont every Sunday after dinner to instruct his guardian's daughter in arithmetic, writing and geography. Steinberger with justice required of his own grown-up daughter that she should know all the towns, where he in his wanderings as a journeyman had slain fat oxen; and if she slipped, or wrote crookedly, or subtracted wrong, he himself, as Academical Senate and Justiciary, was standing behind her chair, ready, so to speak, with the forge-hammer of his fist to beat out the dross from her brain, and at a few strokes hammer it into right ductility. The soft Quintus, for his part, had never struck her. On this account she had perhaps, with a few glances, appointed him executor and assignee of her heart. The old Flesher—simply because his wife was dead—had constantly been in the habit of searching with mine-lamps and pokers into all the corners of Eva's heart; and had in consequence long ago observed—what the Quintus never did—that she had a mind for the said Quintus. Young women conceal their sorrows more easily than their joys: today at the mention of this Conrectorate, Eva had become unusually red.

When she went after breakfast to bring in coffee, which the Ward had to drink down to the grounds: "I beat Eva to death if she but look at him," said he. Then addressing Fixlein: "Hear you, Ward, did you never cast an eye on my Eva? She can suffer you, and if you want her, you get her; but we have done with one another: for a learned man needs quite another sort of thing."

"Herr Regiments-Quartermaster," said Fixlein (for this post Steinberger filled in the provincial Militia), "such a match were far too rich, at any rate, for a Schoolman." The Quartermaster nodded fifty times; and then said to Eva, as she returned,—at the same time taking down from the shelf a wooden crook, on which he used to rack out and suspend his slain calves: "Stop!—Hark, dost wish the present Herr Conrector here for thy husband?"

"Ah, good Heaven!" said Eva.

"Mayst wish him or not," continued the Flesher; "with this crook, thy father knocks thy brains out, if thou but think of a learned man. Now make his coffee." And so by the dissevering stroke of this wooden crook was a love easily smitten asunder, which in a higher rank, by such cutting through it with the sword, would only have foamed and hissed the keenlier.

Fixlein might now, at any hour he liked, lay hold of fifty florins Frankish, and clutch the pedagogic sceptre, and become coadjutor of the Rector, that is, Conrector. We may assert, that it is with[Pg 341] debts, as with proportions in Architecture; of which Wolf has shown that those are the best, which can be expressed in the smallest numbers. Nevertheless, the Quartermaster cheerfully took learned men under his arm: for the notion that his debtor would decease in his thirty-second year, and that so Death, as creditor in the first rank, must be paid his Debt of Nature, before the other creditors could come forward with their debts—this notion he named stuff and oldwifery; he was neither superstitious nor fanatical, and he walked by firm principles of action, such as the common man much oftener has than your vapouring man of letters, or your empty dainty man of rank.

As it is but a few clear Ladydays, warm Mayday-nights, at the most a few odorous Rose-weeks, which I am digging from this Fixleinic Life, embedded in the dross of week-day cares; and as if they were so many veins of silver, am separating, stamping, smelting and burnishing for the reader,—I must now travel on with the stream of his history to Cantata-Sunday, 1792, before I can gather a few handfuls of this gold-dust, to carry in and wash in my biographical gold-hut. That Sunday, on the contrary, is very metalliferous: do but consider that Fixlein is yet uncertain (the ashes of the Church-books not being legible) whether it is conducting him into his thirty-second or his thirty-third year.

From Christmas till then he did nothing, but simply became Conrector. The new chair of office was a Sun-altar, on which, from his Quintus-ashes, a young Phœnix combined itself together. Great changes—in offices, marriages, travels—make us younger; we always date our history from the last revolution, as the French have done from theirs. A colonel, who first set foot on the ladder of seniority as corporal, is five times younger than a king, who in his whole life has never been aught else except a—crown-prince.


Cantata-Sunday. Two Testaments. Pontac; Blood; Love.

The Spring months clothe the earth in new variegated hues; but man they usually dress in black. Just when our icy regions are becoming fruitful, and the flower-waves of the meadows are rolling together over our quarter of the globe, we on all hands meet with men in sables, the beginning of whose Spring is full[Pg 342] of tears. But, on the other hand, this very upblooming of the renovated earth is itself the best balm for sorrow over those who lie under it; and graves are better hid by blossoms than by snow.

In April, which is no less deadly than it is fickle, old Senior Astmann, our Conrector's teacher, was overtaken by death. His departure it was meant to hide from the Rittmeisterinn; but the unusual ringing of funereal peals carried his swan-song to her heart; and gradually set the curfew-bell of her life into similar movement. Age and sufferings had already marked out the first incisions for Death, so that he required but little effort to cut her down; for it is with men as with trees, they are notched long before felling, that their life-sap may exude. The second stroke of apoplexy was soon followed by the last: it is strange that Death, like criminal courts, cites the apoplectic thrice.

Men are apt to postpone their last will as long as their better one: the Rittmeisterinn would perhaps have let all her hours, till the speechless and deaf one, roll away without testament, had not Thiennette, during the last night, before from sick-nurse she became corpse-watcher, reminded the patient of the poor Conrector, and of his meagre hunger-bitten existence, and of the scanty aliment and board-wages which Fortune had thrown him, and of his empty Future, where, like a drooping yellow plant in the parched deal-box of the schoolroom between scholars and creditors, he must languish to the end. Her own poverty offered her a model of his; and her inward tears were the fluid tints with which she coloured her picture. As the Rittmeisterinn's testament related solely to domestics and dependents, and as she began with the male ones, Fixlein stood at the top; and Death, who must have been a special friend of the Conrector's, did not lift his scythe and give the last stroke till his protegee had been with audible voice declared testamentary heir; then he cut all away, life, testament and hopes.

When the Conrector, in a wash-bill from his mother, received these two Death's-posts and Job's-posts in his class, the first thing he did was to dismiss his class-boys, and break into tears before reaching home. Though the mother had informed him that he had been remembered in the will (I could wish, however, that the Notary had blabbed how much it was), yet almost with every O which he masoretically excerpted from his German Bible, and entered in his Masoretic Work, great drops fell down on his pen, and made his black ink pale. His sorrow was not the gorgeous[Pg 343] sorrow of the Poet, who veils the gaping wounds of the departed in the winding-sheet, and breaks the cry of anguish in soft tones of plaintiveness; nor the sorrow of the Philosopher, who, through one open grave, must look into the whole catacomb-Necropolis of the Past, and before whom the spectre of a friend expands into the spectral Shadow of this whole Earth: but it was the woe of a child, of a mother, whom this thought itself, without subsidiary reflections, bitterly cuts asunder: "So I shall never more see thee; so must thou moulder away, and I shall never see thee, thou good soul, never, never any more!"—And even because he neither felt the philosophical nor the poetical sadness, every trifle could make a division, a break in his mourning; and, like a woman, he was that very evening capable of sketching some plans for the future employment of his legacy.

Four weeks after, to wit, on the 5th of May, the testament was unsealed; but not till the 6th (Cantata-Sunday) did he go down to Hukelum. His mother met his salutations with tears; which she shed, over the corpse for grief, over the testament for joy.—To the now Conrector Egidius Zebedäus was left: In the first place, a large sumptuous bed, with a mirror-tester, in which the giant Goliath might have rolled at his ease, and to which I and my fair readers will by and by approach nearer, to examine it; secondly, there was devised to him, as unpaid Easter-godchild-money, for every year that he had lived, one ducat; thirdly, all the admittance and instalment dues, which his elevation to the Quintate and Conrectorate had cost him, were to be made good to the utmost penny. "And dost thou know, then," proceeded the mother, "what the poor Fräulein has got? Ah Heaven! Nothing! Not one brass farthing!" For Death had stiffened the hand which was just stretching itself out to reach the poor Thiennette a little rain-screen against the foul weather of life. The mother related this perverse trick of Fortune with true condolence; which in women dissipates envy, and comes easier to them than congratulation, a feeling belonging rather to men. In many female hearts sympathy and envy are such near door-neighbours that they could be virtuous nowhere except in Hell, where men have such frightful times of it; and vicious nowhere except in Heaven, where people have more happiness than they know what to do with.

The Conrector was now enjoying on Earth that Heaven to which his benefactress had ascended. First of all, he started off—without so much as putting up his handkerchief, in which lay[Pg 344] his emotion—up-stairs to see the legacy-bed unshrouded; for he had a female predilection for furniture. I know not whether the reader ever looked at or mounted any of these ancient chivalric beds, into which, by means of a little stair without balustrades, you can easily ascend; and in which you, properly speaking, sleep always at least one story above ground. Nazianzen informs us (Orat. XVI.) that the Jews, in old times, had high beds with cock-ladders of this sort; but simply because of vermin. The legacy bed-Ark was quite as large as one of these; and a flea would have measured it not in Diameters of the Earth, but in Distances of Sirius. When Fixlein beheld this colossal dormitory, with the curtains drawn asunder, and its canopy of looking-glass, he could have longed to be in it; and had it been in his power to cut from the opaque hemisphere of Night, at that time in America, a small section, he would have established himself there along with it, just to swim about, for one half hour, with his thin lath figure, in this sea of down. The mother, by longer chains of reasoning and chains of calculation than the bed was, had not succeeded in persuading him to have the broad mirror on the top cut in pieces, though his large dressing-table had nothing to see itself in but a mere shaving-glass: he let the mirror lie where it was for this reason: "Should I ever, God willing, get married," said he, "I shall then, towards morning, be able to look at my sleeping wife, without sitting up in bed."

As to the second article of the testament, the godchild Easter-pence, his mother had, last night, arranged it perfectly. The Lawyer took her evidence on the years of the heir; and these she had stated at exactly the teeth-number, two-and-thirty. She would willingly have lied, and passed off her son, like an Inscription, for older than he was: but against this venia ætatis, she saw too well, the authorities would have taken exception, "that it was falsehood and cozenage; had the son been two-and-thirty, he must have been dead some time ago, as it could not but be presumed that he then was."

And just as she was recounting this, a servant from Schadeck called, and delivered to the Conrector, in return for a discharge and ratification of the birth-certificate given out by his mother, a gold bar of two-and-thirty ducat age-counters, like a helm-bar for the voyage of his life: Herr von Aufhammer was too proud to engage in any pettifogging discussion over a plebeian birth-certificate.

And thus, by a proud open-handedness, was one of the best[Pg 345] lawsuits thrown to the dogs: seeing this gold bar might, in the wire-mill of the judgment-bench, have been drawn out into the finest threads. From such a tangled lock, which was not to be unravelled—for, in the first place, there was no document to prove Fixlein's age; in the second place, so long as he lived, the necessary conclusion was, that he was not yet thirty-two[47]—from such a lock, might not only silk and hanging-cords, but whole dragnets have been spun and twisted. Clients in general would have less reason to complain of their causes, if these lasted longer: Philosophers contend for thousands of years over philosophical questions; and it seems an unaccountable thing, therefore, that Advocates should attempt to end their juristical questions in a space of eighty, or even sometimes of sixty years. But the professors of law are not to blame for this: on the other hand, as Lessing asserts of Truth, that not the finding but the seeking of it profits men, and that he himself would willingly make over his claim to all truths in return for the sweet labour of investigation, so is the professor of Law not profited by the finding and deciding, but by the investigation of a juridical truth,—which is called pleading and practising,—and he would willingly consent to approximate to Truth forever, like an hyperbola to its asymptote, without ever meeting it, seeing he can subsist as an honourable man with wife and child, let such approximation be as tedious as it likes.

[47] As, by the evidence at present before us, we can found on no other presumption, than that he must die in his thirty-second year; it would follow, that, in case he died two-and-thirty years after the death of the testatrix, no farthing could he claimed by him; since, according to our notion, at the making of the testament he was not even one year old.

The Schadeck servant had, besides the gold legacy, a farther commission from the Lawyer, whereby the testamentary heir was directed to sum up the mint-dues which he had been obliged to pay while lying under the coining-press of his superiors, as Quintus and Conrector; the which, properly documented and authenticated, were forthwith to be made good to him.

Our Conrector, who now rated himself among the great capitalists of the world, held his short gold-roll like a sceptre in his hand; like a basket-net lifted from the sea of the Future, which was now to run on, and bring him all manner of fed-fishes, well-washed, sound and in good season.

I cannot relate all things at once; else I should ere now have told the reader, who must long have been waiting for it, that to[Pg 346] the moneyed Conrector his two-and-thirty godchild-pennies but too much prefigured the two-and-thirty years of his age; besides which, today the Cantata-Sunday, this Bartholomew-night and Second of September of his family, came in as a farther aggravation. The mother, who should have known the age of her child, said she had forgotten it; but durst wager he was thirty-two a year ago; only the Lawyer was a man you could not speak to. "I could swear it myself," said the capitalist; "I recollect how stupid I felt on Cantata-Sunday last year." Fixlein beheld Death, not as the poet does, in the up-towering, asunder-driving concave-mirror of Imagination; but as the child, as the savage, as the peasant, as the woman does, in the plane octavo-mirror on the board of a Prayer-book; and Death looked to him like an old white-headed man, sunk down into slumber in some latticed pew.—

And yet he thought oftener of him than last year: for joy readily melts us into softness; and the lackered Wheel of Fortune is a cistern-wheel that empties its water in our eyes.... But the friendly Genius of this terrestrial, or rather aquatic Ball,—for, in the physical and in the moral world, there are more tear-seas than firm land,—has provided for the poor water-insects that float about in it, for us namely, a quite special elixir against spasms in the soul: I declare this same Genius must have studied the whole pathology of man with care; for to the poor devil who is no Stoic, and can pay no Soul-doctor, that for the fissures of his cranium and his breast might prepare costly prescriptions of simples, he has stowed up cask-wise in all cellarages a precious wound-water, which the patient has only to take and pour over his slashes and bone-breakages—gin-twist, I mean, or beer, or a touch of wine.... By Heaven! it is either stupid ingratitude towards this medicinal Genius on the one hand, or theological confusion of permitted tippling with prohibited drunkenness on the other, if men do not thank God that they have something at hand, which, in the nervous vertigos of life, will instantly supply the place of Philosophy, Christianity, Judaism, Paganism and Time;—liquor, as I said.

The Conrector had long before sunset given the village post three groschens of post-money, and commissioned,—for he had a whole cabinet of ducats in his pocket, which all day he was surveying in the dark with his hand,—three thalers' worth of Pontac from the town. "I must have a Cantata merrying-making," said[Pg 347] he; "if it be my last day, let it be my gayest too!" I could wish he had given a larger order; but he kept the bit of moderation between his teeth at all times; even in a threatened sham-death-night, and in the midst of jubilee. The question is, Whether he would not have restricted himself to a single bottle, if he had not wished to treat his mother and the Fräulein. Had he lived in the tenth century, when the Day of Judgment was thought to be at hand, or in other centuries, when new Noah's Deluges were expected, and when, accordingly, like sailors in a shipwreck, people bouzed up all,—he would not have spent one kreutzer more on that account. His joy was, that with his legacy he could now satisfy his head-creditor Steinberger, and leave the world an honest man: just people, who make much of money, pay their debts the most punctually.

The purple Pontac arrived at a time when Fixlein could compare the red-chalk-drawings and red-letter-titles of joy, which it would bring out on the cheeks of its drinker and drinkeresses,—with the Evening-carnation of the last clouds about the Sun....

I declare, among all the spectators of this History, no one can be thinking more about poor Thiennette than I; nevertheless, it is not permitted me to bring her out from her tiring-room to my historical scene, before the time. Poor girl! The Conrector cannot wish more warmly than his Biographer, that, in the Temple of Nature as in that of Jerusalem, there were a special door—besides that of Death—standing open, through which only the afflicted entered, that a Priest might give them solace. But Thiennette's heart-sickness over all her vanished prospects, over her entombed benefactress, over a whole life enwrapped in the pall, had hitherto, in a grief which the stony Rittmeister rather made to bleed than alleviated, swept all away from her, occupations excepted; had fettered all her steps which led not to some task, and granted to her eyes nothing to dry them or gladden them, save down-falling eyelids full of dreams and sleep.

All sorrow raises us above the civic Ceremonial-law, and makes the Prosaist a Psalmist: in sorrow alone have women courage to front opinion. Thiennette walked out only in the evening, and then only in the garden.

The Conrector could scarcely wait for the appearance of his fair friend, to offer his thanks,—and tonight also—his Pontac. Three Pontac decanters and three wine-glasses were placed outside on the projecting window-sill of his cottage; and every time[Pg 348] he returned from the dusky covered-way amid the flower-forests, he drank a little from his glass,—and the mother sipped now and then from within through the opened window.

I have already said, his Life-laboratory lay in the south-west corner of the garden or park, over against the Castle-Escurial, which stretched back into the village. In the north-west corner bloomed an acacia-grove, like the floral crown of the garden. Fixlein turned his steps in that direction also; to see if, perhaps, he might not cast a happy glance through the wide-latticed grove over the intervening meads to Thiennette. He recoiled a little before two stone steps leading down into a pond before this grove, which were sprinkled with fresh blood. On the flags, also, there was blood hanging. Man shudders at this oil of our life's lamp where he finds it shed: to him it is the red death-signature of the Destroying Angel. Fixlein hurried apprehensively into the grove; and found here his paler benefactress leaning on the flower-bushes; her hands with their knitting-ware sunk into her bosom, her eyes lying under their lids as if in the bandage of slumber; her left arm in the real bandage of blood-letting; and with cheeks to which the twilight was lending as much red, as late woundings—this day's included—had taken from them. Fixlein, after his first terror—not at this flower's-sleep, but at his own abrupt entrance—began to unrol the spiral butterfly's-sucker of his vision, and to lay it on the motionless leaves of this same sleeping flower. At bottom, I may assert, that this was the first time he had ever looked at her: he was now among the thirties; and he still continued to believe, that, in a young lady, he must look at the clothes only, not the person, and wait on her with his ears, not with his eyes.

I impute it to the elevating influences of the Pontac, that the Conrector plucked up courage to—turn, to come back, and employ the resuscitating means of coughing, sneezing, trampling and calling to his Shock, in stronger and stronger doses on the fair sleeper. To take her by the hand, and, with some medical apology, gently pull her out of sleep, this was an audacity of which the Conrector, so long as he could stand for Pontac, and had any grain of judgment left, could never dream.

However, he did awake her, by those other means.

Wearied, heavy-laden Thiennette! how slowly does thy eye open! The warmest balsam of this earth, soft sleep has shifted aside, and the night-air of memory is again blowing on thy naked[Pg 349] wounds!—And yet was the smiling friend of thy youth the fairest object which thy eye could light on, when it sank from the hanging garden of Dreams into this lower one round thee.

She herself was little conscious,—and the Conrector not at all,—that she was bending her flower-leaves imperceptibly towards a terrestrial body, namely towards Fixlein: she resembled an Italian flower, that contains cunningly concealed within it a newyear's gift, which the receiver knows not at first how to extract. But now the golden chain of her late kind deed attracted her as well towards him, as him towards her.—She at once gave her eye and her voice a mask of joy; for she did not put her tears, as Catholics do those of Christ, in relic-vials, upon altars to be worshiped. He could very suitably preface his invitation to the Pontac festival, with a long acknowledgment of thanks for the kind intervention which had opened to him the sources for procuring it. She rose slowly, and walked with him to the banquet of wine; but he was not so discreet, as at first to attempt leading her, or rather not so courageous; he could more easily have offered a young lady his hand (that is, with marriage ring) than offered her his arm. One only time in his life had he escorted a female, a Lombard Countess from the theatre; a thing truly not to be believed, were not this the secret of it, that he was obliged; for the lady, a foreigner, parted in the press from all her people, in a bad night, had laid hold of him as a sable Abbé by the arm, and requested him to take her to her inn. He, however, knew the fashions of society, and attended her no farther than the porch of his Quintus-mansion, and there directed her with his finger to her inn, which, with thirty blazing windows, was looking down from another street.

These things he cannot help. But tonight he had scarcely, with his fair faint companion, reached the bank of the pond, into which some superstitious dread of water-sprites had lately poured the pure blood of her left arm,—when, in his terror lest she fell in, with the rest of her blood, over the brink, he quite valiantly laid hold of the sick arm. Thus will much Pontac and a little courage at all times put a Conrector in case to lay hold of a Fräulein. I aver, that, at the banquet-board of the wine, at the window-sill, he continued in the same conducting position. What a soft group in the penumbra of the Earth, while Night, with its dusky waters, was falling deeper and deeper, and the silver-light of the Moon was already glancing back from the copper-ball of[Pg 350] the steeple! I call the group soft, because it consists of a maiden that in two senses has been bleeding; of a mother again with tears giving her thanks for the happiness of her child; and of a pious, modest man, pouring wine, and drinking health to both, and who traces in his veins a burning lava-stream, which is boiling through his heart, and threatening piece by piece to melt it and bear it away.—A candle stood without among the three bottles, like Reason among the Passions; on this account the Conrector looked without intermission at the window-panes, for on them (the darkness of the room served as mirror-foil) was painted, among other faces which Fixlein liked, the face he liked best of all, and which he dared to look at only in reflection, the face of Thiennette.

Every minute was a Federation-festival, and every second a Preparation-Sabbath for it. The Moon was gleaming from the evening dew, and the Pontac from their eyes, and the bean-stalks were casting a shorter grating of shadow.—The quicksilver-drops of stars were hanging more and more continuous in the sable of night.—The warm vapour of the wine set our two friends (like steam-engines) again in motion.

Nothing makes the heart fuller and bolder than walking to and fro in the night. Fixlein now led the Fräulein in his arm without scruple. By reason of her lancet-wound, Thiennette could only put her hand, in a clasping position, in his arm; and he, to save her the trouble of holding fast, held fast himself, and pressed her fingers as well as might be with his arm to his heart. It would betray a total want of polished manners to censure his. At the same time, trifles are the provender of Love; the fingers are electric dischargers of a fire sparkling along every fibre; sighs are the guiding tones of two approximating hearts; and the worst and most effectual thing of all in such a case is some misfortune; for the fire of Love, like that of naphtha, likes to swim on water. Two teardrops, one in another's, one in your own eyes, compose, as with two convex lenses, a microscope which enlarges everything, and changes all sorrows into charms. Good sex! I too consider every sister in misfortune as fair; and perhaps thou wouldst deserve the name of the Fair, even because thou art the Suffering sex!

And if Professor Hunczogsky in Vienna modelled all the wounds of the human frame in wax, to teach his pupils how to cure them, I also, thou good sex, am representing in little figures[Pg 351] the cuts and scars of thy spirit, though only to keep away rude hands from inflicting new ones....

Thiennette felt not the loss of the inheritance, but of her that should have left it; and this more deeply for one little trait, which she had already told his mother, as she now told him: In the last two nights of the Rittmeisterinn, when the feverish watching was holding up to Thiennette's imagination nothing but the winding-sheet and the mourning-coaches of her protectress; while she was sitting at the foot of the bed, looking on those fixed eyes, unconsciously quick drops often trickled over her cheeks, while in thought she prefigured the heavy, cumbrous dressing of her benefactress for the coffin. Once, after midnight, the dying lady pointed with her finger to her own lips. Thiennette understood her not; but rose and bent over her face. The Enfeebled tried to lift her head, but could not,—and only rounded her lips. At last, a thought glanced through Thiennette, that the Departing, whose dead arms could now press no beloved heart to her own, wished that she herself should embrace her. O then, that instant, keen and tearful she pressed her warm lips on the colder,—and she was silent like her that was to speak no more,—and she embraced alone and was not embraced. About four o'clock, the finger waved again;—she sank down on the stiffened lips—but this had been no signal, for the lips of her friend under the long kiss had grown stiff and cold....

How deeply now, before the infinite Eternity's-countenance of Night, did the cutting of this thought pass through Fixlein's warm soul: "O thou forsaken one beside me! No happy accident, no twilight hast thou, like that now glimmering in the heavens, to point to the prospect of a sunny day: without parents art thou, without brother, without friend; here alone on a disblossomed, emptied corner of the Earth; and thou, left Harvest-flower, must wave lonely and frozen over the withered stubble of the Past." That was the meaning of his thoughts, whose internal words were: "Poor young lady! Not so much as a half-cousin left; no nobleman will seek her, and she grows old so forgotten, and she is so good from the very heart—Me she has made happy—Ah, had I the presentation to the parish of Hukelum in my pocket, I should make a trial.".... Their mutual lives, which a straitcutting bond of Destiny was binding so closely together, now rose before him overhung with sable,—and he forthwith conducted his friend (for a bashful man may in an hour and a half be[Pg 352] transformed into the boldest, and then continues so) back to the last flask, that all these upsprouting thistles and passion-flowers of sorrow might therewith be swept away. I remark, in passing, that this was stupid: the torn vine is full of water-veins as well as grapes; and a soft oppressed heart the beverage of joy can melt only into tears.

If any man disagree with me, I shall desire him to look at the Conrector, who demonstrates my experimental maxim like a very syllogism.—One might arrive at some philosophic views, if one traced out the causes, why liquors—that is to say, in the long-run, more plentiful secretion of the nervous spirits—make men at once pious, soft and poetical. The Poet, like Apollo his father, is forever a youth; and is, what other men are only once, namely in love,—or only after Pontac, namely intoxicated,—all his life long. Fixlein, who had been no poet in the morning, now became one at night: wine made him pious and soft; the Harmonica-bells in man, which sound to the tones of a higher world, must, like the glass Harmonica-bells, if they are to act, be kept moist.

He was now standing with her again beside the wavering pond, in which the second blue hemisphere of heaven, with dancing stars and amid quivering trees, was playing; over the green hills ran the white crooked footpaths dimly along; on the one mountain was the twilight sinking together, on the other was the mist of night rising up; and over all these vapours of life, hung motionless and flaming the thousand-armed lustre of the starry heaven, and every arm held in it a burning galaxy....

It now struck eleven.... Amid such scenes, an unknown hand stretches itself out in man, and writes in foreign language on his heart, a dread Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. "Perhaps by twelve I am dead," thought our friend, in whose soul the Cantata-Sunday, with all its black funeral piles, was mounting up.

The whole future Crucifixion-path of his friend lay prickly and bethorned before him; and he saw every bloody trace from which she lifted her foot,—she who had made his own way soft with flowers and leaves. He could no longer restrain himself; trembling in his whole frame, and with a trembling voice, he solemnly said to her: "If the Lord this night call me away, let the half of my fortune be yours; for it is your goodness I must thank that I am free of debts, as few Teachers are."

Thiennette, unacquainted with our sex, naturally mistook this[Pg 353] speech for a proposal of marriage; and the fingers of her wounded arm, tonight for the first time, pressed suddenly against the arm in which they lay; the only living mortal's arm, by which Joy, Love and the Earth, were still united with her bosom. The Conrector, rapturously terrified at the first pressure of a female hand, bent over his right to take hold of her left; and Thiennette, observing his unsuccessful movement, lifted her fingers, and laid her whole wounded arm in his, and her whole left hand in his right. Two lovers dwell in the Whispering-gallery,[48] where the faintest breath bodies itself forth into a sound. The good Conrector received and returned this blissful love-pressure, wherewith our poor powerless soul, stammering, hemmed in, longing, distracted, seeks for a warmer language, which exists not: he was overpowered; he had not the courage to look at her; but he looked into the gleam of the twilight, and said (and here for unspeakable love the tears were running warm over his cheeks): "Ah, I will give you all; fortune, life and all that I have, my heart and my hand."

[48] In St. Paul's Church at London, where the slightest whisper sounds over across a space of 143 feet.

She was about to answer, but casting a side-glance, she cried, with a shriek: "Ah, Heaven!" He started round; and perceived the white muslin sleeve all dyed with blood; for in putting her arm into his, she had pushed away the bandage from the open vein. With the speed of lightning, he hurried her into the acacia-grove; the blood was already running from the muslin; he grew paler than she, for every drop of it was coming from his heart. The blue-white arm was bared; the bandage was put on; he tore a piece of gold from his pocket; clapped it, as one does, with open arteries, on the spouting fountain, and bolted with this golden bar, and with the bandage over it, the door out of which her afflicted life was hurrying.—

When it was over, she looked up to him; pale, languid, but her eyes were two glistening fountains of an unspeakable love, full of sorrow and full of gratitude.—The exhausting loss of blood was spreading her soul asunder in sighs. Thiennette was dissolved into inexpressible softness; and the heart, lacerated by so many years, by so many arrows, was plunging with all its wounds in warm streams of tears, to be healed; as chapped flutes close together by lying in water, and get back their tones.—Before such a magic form, before such a pure heavenly love, her sympathising friend was melted between the flames of joy and grief;[Pg 354] and sank, with stifled voice, and bent down by love and rapture, on the pale angelic face, the lips of which he timidly pressed, but did not kiss, till all-powerful Love bound its girdles round them, and drew the two closer and closer together, and their two souls, like two tears, melted into one. O now, when it struck twelve, the hour of death, did not the lover fancy that her lips were drawing his soul away, and all the fibres and all the nerves of his life closed spasmodically round the last heart in this world, round the last rapture of existence?... Yes, happy man, thou didst express thy love; for in thy love thou thoughtest to die....

However, he did not die. After midnight, there floated a balmy morning air through the shaken flowers, and the whole spring was breathing. The blissful lover, setting bounds even to his sea of joy, reminded his delicate beloved, who was now his bride, of the dangers from night-cold; and himself of the longer night-cold of Death, which was now for long years passed over.—Innocent and blessed, they rose from the grove of their betrothment, from its dusk broken by white acacia-flowers and straggling moonbeams. And without, they felt as if a whole wide Past had sunk away in a convulsion of the world; all was new, light and young. The sky stood full of glittering dewdrops from the everlasting Morning; and the stars quivered joyfully asunder, and sank, resolved into beams, down into the hearts of men.—The Moon, with her fountain of light, had overspread and kindled all the garden; and was hanging above in a starless Blue, as if she had consumed the nearest stars; and she seemed like a smaller wandering Spring, like a Christ's-face smiling in love of man.—

Under this light they looked at one another for the first time, after the first words of love; and the sky gleamed magically down on the disordered features with which the first rapture of love was still standing written on their faces....

Dream, ye beloved, as ye wake, happy as in Paradise, innocent as in Paradise!


Office-impost. One of the most important of Petitions.

The finest thing was his awakening in his European Settlement in the giant Schadeck bed!—With the inflammatory, tickling,[Pg 355] eating fever of love in his breast; with the triumphant feeling, that he had now got the introductory program of love put happily by; and with the sweet resurrection from his living prophetic burial; and with the joy that now, among his thirties, he could, for the first time, cherish hopes of a longer life (and did not longer mean at least till seventy?) than he could ten years ago;—with all this stirring life-balsam, in which the living fire-wheel of his heart was rapidly revolving, he lay here, and laughed at his glancing portrait in the bed-canopy; but he could not do it long, he was obliged to move. For a less happy man, it would have been gratifying to have measured,—as pilgrims measure the length of their pilgrimage,—not so much by steps as by body-lengths, like Earth-diameters, the superficial content of the bed. But Fixlein, for his own part, had to launch from his bed into warm billowy Life, he had now his dear good Earth again to look after, and a Conrectorship thereon, and a bride to boot. Besides all this, his mother downstairs now admitted that he had last night actually glided through beneath the scythe of Death, like supple-grass, and that yesterday she had not told him merely out of fear of his fear. Still a cold shudder went over him,—especially as he was sober now,—when he looked round at the high Tarpeian Rock, four hours' distance behind him, on the battlements of which he had last night walked hand in hand with Death.

The only thing that grieved him was, that it was Monday, and that he must back to the Gymnasium. Such a freightage of joys he had never taken with him on his road to town. After four he issued from his house, satisfied with coffee (which he drank in Hukelum merely for his mother's sake, who, for two days after, would still have portions of this woman's-wine to draw from the lees of the pot-sediment) into the cooling dawning May-morning (for joy needs coolness, sorrow sun); his Betrothed comes—not indeed to meet him, but still—into his hearing, by her distant morning hymn; he makes but one momentary turn into the blissful haven of the blooming acacia-grove, which still, like the covenant sealed in it, has no thorns; he dips his warm hand in the cold-bath of the dewy leaves; he wades with pleasure through the beautifying-water of the dew, which, as it imparts colour to faces, eats it away from boots ("but with thirty ducats, a Conrector may make shift to keep two pairs of boots on the hook").—And now the Moon, as it were the hanging seal of his last[Pg 356] night's happiness, dips down into the West, like an emptied bucket of light, and in the East the other overrunning bucket, the Sun, mounts up, and the gushes of light flow broader and broader.—

The city stood in the celestial flames of Morning. Here his divining-rod (his gold-roll, which, excepting one sixteenth of an inch broken off from it, he carried along with him) began to quiver over all the spots where booty and silver-veins of enjoyment were concealed; and our rod-diviner easily discovered that the city and the future were a true entire Potosi of delights.

In his Conrectorate closet he fell upon his knees, and thanked God—not so much for his heritage and bride as—for his life: for he had gone away on Sunday morning with doubts whether he should ever come back; and it was purely out of love to the reader, and fear lest he might fret himself too much with apprehension, that I cunningly imputed Fixlein's journey more to his desire of knowing what was in the will, than of making his own will in presence of his mother. Every recovery is a bringing back and palingenesia of our youth: one loves the Earth and those that are on it with a new love.—The Conrector could have found in his heart to take all his class by the locks, and press them to his breast; but he only did so to his adjutant, the Quartaner, who, in the first Letter-box, was still sitting in the rank of a Quintaner....

His first expedition, after school-hours, was to the house of Meister Steinberger, where, without speaking a word, he counted down fifty florins cash, in ducats, on the table: "At last I repay you," said Fixlein, "the moiety of my debt, and give you many thanks."

"Ey, Herr Conrector," said the Quartermaster, and continued calmly stuffing puddings as before, "in my bond it is said, payable at three months' mutual notice. How could a man like me go on, else?—However, I will change you the gold pieces." Thereupon he advised him that it might be more judicious to take back a florin or two, and buy himself a better hat, and whole shoes: "if you like," added he, "to get a calfskin and half a dozen hareskins dressed, they are lying upstairs."—I should think, for my own part, that to the reader it must be as little a matter of indifference as it was to the Butcher, whether the hero of such a History appear before him with an old tattered potlid of a hat, and a pump-sucker and leg-harness pair of boots,[Pg 357] or in suitable apparel.—In short, before St. John's day, the man was dressed with taste and pomp.

But now came two most peculiarly important papers—at bottom only one, the Petition for the Hukelum parsonship—to be elaborated; in regard to which I feel as if I myself must assist.... It were a simple turn, if now at least the assembled public did not pay attention.

In the first place, the Conrector searched out and sorted all the Consistorial and Councillor quittances, or rather the toll-bills of the road-money, which he had been obliged to pay, before the toll-gates at the Quintusship and Conrectorship had been thrown open: for the executor of the Schadeck testament had to reimburse him the whole, as his discharge would express it, "to penny and farthing." Another would have summed up this post-excise much more readily; by merely looking what he—owed; as these debt-bills and those toll-bills, like parallel passages, elucidate and confirm each other. But in Fixlein's case, there was a small circumstance of peculiarity at work; which I cannot explain till after what follows.

It grieved him a little that for his two offices he had been obliged to pay and to borrow no larger a sum than 135 florins, 41 kreutzers and one halfpenny. The legacy, it is true, was to pass directly from the hands of the testamentary executor into those of the Regiments-Quartermaster; but yet he could have liked well, had he—for man is a fool from the very foundation of him—had more to pay, and therefore to inherit. The whole Conrectorate he had, by a slight deposit of 90 florins, plucked, as it were, from the Wheel of Fortune; and so small a sum must surprise my reader: but what will he say, when I tell him that there are countries where the entry-money into schoolrooms is even more moderate? In Scherau, a Conrector is charged only 88 florins, and perhaps he may have an income triple of this sum. Not to speak of Saxony (what, in truth, was to be expected from the cradle of the Reformation, in Religion and Polite Literature), where a schoolmaster and a parson have nothing to pay,—even in Bayreuth, for example, in Hof, the progress of improvement has been such, that a Quartus—a Quartus do I say,—a Tertius—a Tertius do I say,—a Conrector, at entrance on his post, is not required to pay down more than:

[Pg 358]

 Fl. rhen.Kr. rhen. 
 3049  For taking the oaths at the Consistorium.
 40  To the Syndic for the Presentation.
 20  To the then Bürgermeister.
 45For the Government-sanction.
Total81 fl.56½ kr. 

If the printing-charges of a Rector do stand a little higher in some points, yet, on the other hand, a Tertius, Quartus &c. come cheaper from the press than even a Conrector. Now it is clear that in this case a schoolmaster can subsist; since, in the course of the very first year, he gets an overplus beyond this dock-money of his office. A schoolmaster must, like his scholars, have been advanced from class to class, before these his loans to Government, together with the interest for delay of payment, can jointly amount to so much as his yearly income in the highest class. Another thing in his favour is, that our institutions do not—as those of Athens did—prohibit people from entering on office while in debt; but every man, with his debt-knapsack on his shoulders, mounts up, step after step, without obstruction. The Pope, in large benefices, appropriates the income of the first year under the title of Annates, or First Fruits; and accordingly he, in all cases, bestows any large benefice on the possessor of a smaller one, thereby to augment both his own revenues and those of others; but it shows, in my opinion, a bright distinction between Popery and Lutheranism, that the Consistoriums of the latter abstract from their school-ministers and church-ministers not perhaps above two-thirds of their first yearly income; though they too, like the Pope, must naturally have an eye to vacancies.

It may be that I shall here come in collision with the Elector of Mentz, when I confess, that in Schmausen's Corp. Jur. Pub. Germ. I have turned up the Mentz-Imperial-Court-Chancery-tax-ordinance of the 6th January 1659; and there investigated how much this same Imperial-Court-Chancery demands, as contrasted with a Consistorium. For example, any man that wishes to be baked or sodden into a Poet Laureate, has 50 florins tax-dues, and 20 florins Chancery-dues to pay down; whereas, for 20 florins more, he might have been made a Conrector, who is a poet of this species, as it were by the by and ex officio.—The institution of a Gymnasium is permitted for 1000 florins; an extraordinary sum, with which the whole body of the teachers in the instituted Gymnasium might with us clear off the entrymoneys of their[Pg 359] schoolrooms. Again, a Freiherr, who, at any rate, often enough grows old without knowing how, must purchase the venia ætatis with 200 hard florins; while with the half sum he might have become a schoolmaster, and here age would have come of its own accord.—And a thousand such things!—They prove, however, that matters can be at no bad pass in our Governments and Circles, where promotions are sold dearer to Folly than to Diligence, and where it costs more to institute a school than to serve in one.

The remarks I made on this subject to a Prince, as well as the remarks a Town-Syndic made on it to myself, are too remarkable to be omitted for mere dread of digressiveness.

The Syndic—a man of enlarged views, and of fiery patriotism, the warmth of which was the more beneficent that he collected all the beams of it into one focus, and directed them to himself and his family—gave me (I had perhaps been comparing the School-bench and the School-stair to the bench and the ladder, on which people are laid when about to be tortured) the best reply: "If a schoolmaster consume nothing but 30 reichsthalers;[49] if he annually purchase manufactured goods, according as Political Economists have calculated for each individual, namely, to the amount of 5 reichsthalers; and no more hundredweights of victual than these assume, namely 10; in short, if he live like a substantial wood-cutter,—then the Devil must be in it, if he cannot yearly lay by so much net profit, as shall, in the long-run, pay the interest of his entry-debts."

[49] So much, according to Political Economists, a man yearly requires in Germany.

The Syndic must have failed to convince me at the time, since I afterwards told the Flachsenfingen Prince:[50] "Illustrious Sir, you know not, but I do—not a player in your Theatre would act the Schoolmaster in Engel's Prodigal Son, three nights running, for such a sum as every real Schoolmaster has to take for acting it all the days of the year.—In Prussia, Invalids are made Schoolmasters; with us, Schoolmasters are made Invalids."...

[50] This singular tone of my address to a Prince can only be excused by the equally singular relation, wherein the Biographer stands to the Flachsenfingen Sovereign, and which I would willingly unfold here, were it not that, in my Book, which, under the title of Dog-post-days, I mean to give to the world at Easter-fair 1795, I hoped to expound the matter to universal satisfaction.

But to our story! Fixlein wrote out the inventory of his[Pg 360] Crown-debts; but with quite a different purpose than the reader will guess, who has still the Schadeck testament in his head. In one word, he wanted to be Parson of Hukelum. To be a clergyman, and in the place where his cradle stood, and all the little gardens of his childhood, his mother also, and the grove of betrothment,—this was an open gate into a New Jerusalem, supposing even that the living had been nothing but a meagre penitentiary. The main point was, he might marry, if he were appointed. For, in the capacity of lank Conrector, supported only by the strengthening-girth of his waistcoat, and with emoluments whereby scarcely the purchase-money of a—purse was to be come at; in this way he was more like collecting wick and tallow for his burial-torch than for his bridal one.

For the Schoolmaster class are, in well-ordered States, as little permitted to marry as the Soldiery. In Conringius de Antiquitutibus Academicis, where in every leaf it is proved that all cloisters were originally schools, I hit upon the reason. Our schools are now cloisters, and consequently we endeavour to maintain in our teachers at least an imitation of the Three Monastic Vows. The vow of Obedience might perhaps be sufficiently enforced by School-Inspectors; but the second vow, that of Celibacy, would be more hard of attainment, were it not that, by one of the best political arrangements, the third vow, I mean a beautiful equality in Poverty, is so admirably attended to, that no man who has made it needs any farther testimonium paupertatis;—and now let this man, if he likes, lay hold of a matrimonial half, when of the two halves each has a whole stomach, and nothing for it but half-coins and half-beer!...

I know well, millions of my readers would themselves compose this Petition for the Conrector, and ride with it to Schadeck to his Lordship, that so the poor rogue might get the sheepfold, with the annexed wedding-mansion: for they see clearly enough, that directly thereafter one of the best Letter-Boxes would be written that ever came from such a repository.

Fixlein's Petition was particularly good and striking: it submitted to the Rittmeister four grounds of preference: 1. "He was a native of the parish: his parents and ancestors had already done Hukelum service; therefore he prayed," &c.

2. "The here-documented official debts of 135 florins, 41 kreutzers and one halfpenny, the cancelling of which a never-to-be-forgotten testament secured him, he himself could clear, in[Pg 361] case he obtained the living, and so hereby give up his claim to the legacy," &c.

Voluntary Note by me. It is plain he means to bribe his Godfather, whom the lady's testament has put into a fume. But, gentle reader, blame not without mercy a poor, oppressed, heavy-laden school-man and school-horse for an indelicate insinuation, which truly was never mine. Consider, Fixlein knew that the Rittmeister was a cormorant towards the poor, as he was a squanderer towards the rich. It may be, too, the Conrector might once or twice have heard, in the Law Courts, of patrons, by whom not indeed the church and churchyard—though these things are articles of commerce in England—so much as the true management of them had been sold, or rather farmed to farming-candidates. I know from Lange,[51] that the Church must support its patron, when he has nothing to live upon: and might not a nobleman, before he actually began begging, be justified in taking a little advance, a fore-payment of his alimentary moneys, from the hands of his pulpit-farmer?—

[51] His Clerical Law, p. 551.

3. "He had lately betrothed himself with Fräulein von Thiennette, and given her a piece of gold, as marriage-pledge; and could therefore wed the said Fräulein were he once provided for," &c.

Voluntary Note by me. I hold this ground to be the strongest in the whole Petition. In the eyes of Herr von Aufhammer, Thiennette's genealogical tree was long since stubbed, disleaved, worm-eaten and full of millepedes: she was his Œconoma, his Castle-Stewardess and Legatess a Latere for his domestics; and with her pretensions for an alms-coffer, was threatening in the end to become a burden to him. His indignant wish that she had been provided for with Fixlein's legacy might now be fulfilled. In a word, if Fixlein become Parson, he will have the third ground to thank for it; not at all the mad fourth....

4. "He had learned with sorrow, that the name of his Shock, which he had purchased from an Emigrant at Leipzig, meant Egidius in German; and that the dog had drawn upon him the displeasure of his Lordship. Far be it from him so to designate the Shock in future; but he would take it as a special grace, if for the dog, which he at present called without any name, his Lordship would be pleased to appoint one himself."

My Voluntary Note. The dog then, it seems, to which the[Pg 362] nobleman has hitherto been godfather, is to receive its name a second time from him!—But how can the famishing gardener's son, whose career never mounted higher than from the school-bench to the school-chair, and who never spoke with polished ladies, except singing, namely in the church, how can he be expected, in fingering such a string, to educe from it any finer tone than the pedantic one? And yet the source of it lies deeper: not the contracted situation, but the contracted eye, not a favourite science, but a narrow plebeian soul, makes us pedantic, a soul that cannot measure and separate the concentric circles of human knowledge and activity, that confounds the focus of universal human life, by reason of the focal distance, with every two or three converging rays; and that cannot see all, and tolerate all——In short, the true Pedant is the Intolerant.

The Conrector wrote out his petition splendidly in five propitious evenings; employed a peculiar ink for the purpose; worked not indeed so long over it as the stupid Manucius over a Latin letter, namely, some months, if Scioppius' word is to be taken; still less so long as another scholar at a Latin epistle, who—truly we have nothing but Morhof's word for it—hatched it during four whole months; inserting his variations, adjectives, feet, with the authorities for his phrases, accurately marked between the lines. Fixlein possessed a more thorough-going genius, and had completely mastered the whole enterprise in sixteen days. While sealing, he thought, as we all do, how this cover was the seed-husk of a great entire Future, the rind of many sweet or bitter fruits, the swathing of his whole after-life.

Heaven bless his cover; but I let you throw me from the Tower of Babel, if he get the parsonage: can't you see, then, that Aufhammer's hands are tied? In spite of all his other faults, or even because of them, he will stand like iron by his word, which he has given so long ago to the Subrector. It were another matter had he been resident at Court; for there, where old German manners still are, no promise is kept; for as, according to Möser, the Ancient Germans kept only such promises as they made in the forenoon (in the afternoon they were all dead-drunk),—so the Court Germans likewise keep no afternoon promise; forenoon ones they would keep if they made any, which, however, cannot possibly happen, as at those hours they are—sleeping.

[Pg 363]


Sermon. School-Exhibition. Splendid Mistake.

The Conrector received his 135 florins, 43 kreutzers, one halfpenny Frankish; but no answer: the dog remained without name, his master without parsonage. Meanwhile the summer passed away; and the Dragoon Rittmeister had yet drawn out no pike from the Candidate breeding-pond, and thrown him into the feeding-pond of the Hukelum parsonage. It gratified him to be behung with prayers like a Spanish guardian Saint; and he postponed (though determined to prefer the Subrector) granting any one petition, till he had seven-and-thirty dyers', buttonmakers', tinsmiths' sons, whose petitions he could at the same time refuse. Grudge not him of Aufhammer this outlengthening of his electorial power! He knows the privileges of rank; feels that a nobleman is like Timoleon, who gained his greatest victories on his birthday, and had nothing more to do than name some squiress, countess, or the like, as his mother. A man, however, who has been exalted to the Peerage, while still a fœtus, may with more propriety be likened to the spinner, which, contrariwise to all other insects, passes from the chrysalis state, and becomes a perfect insect in its mother's womb.—

But to proceed! Fixlein was at present not without cash. It will be the same as if I made a present of it to the reader, when I reveal to him, that of the legacy, which was clearing off old scores, he had still thirty-five florins left to himself, as allodium and pocket-money, wherewith he might purchase whatsoever seemed good to him. And how came he by so large a sum, by so considerable a competence? Simply by this means: Every time he changed a piece of gold, and especially at every payment he received, it had been his custom to throw in, blindly at random, two, three, or four small coins, among the papers of his trunk. His purpose was to astonish himself one day, when he summed up and took possession of this sleeping capital. And, by Heaven! he reached it too, when on mounting the throne of his Conrectorate, he drew out these funds from among his papers, and applied them to the coronation charges. For the present, he sowed them in again among his waste letters. Foolish Fixlein! I mean, had he not luckily exposed his legacy to jeopardy, having offered it as bounty-money, and luck-penny to the patron, this false clutch of his at the knocker of the Hukelum church-door[Pg 364] would certainly have vexed him; but now if he had missed the knocker, he had the luck-penny again, and could be merry.

I now advance a little way in his History, and hit, in the rock of his Life, upon so fine a vein of silver, I mean upon so fine a day, that I must (I believe) content myself even in regard to the twenty-third of Trinity-term, when he preached a vacation sermon in his dear native village, with a brief transitory notice.

In itself the sermon was good and glorious; and the day a rich day of pleasure; but I should really need to have more hours at my disposal than I can steal from May, in which I am at present living and writing; and more strength than wandering through this fine weather has left me for landscape pictures of the same, before I could attempt, with any well-founded hope, to draw out a mathematical estimate of the length and thickness, and the vibrations and accordant relations to each other, of the various strings, which combined together to form for his heart a Music of the Spheres, on this day of Trinity-term, though such a thing would please myself as much as another.... Do not ask me! In my opinion, when a man preaches on Sunday before all the peasants, who had carried him in their arms when a gardener's boy; farther, before his mother, who is leading off her tears through the conduit of her satin muff; farther, before his Lordship, whom he can positively command to be blessed; and finally, before his muslin bride, who is already blessed, and changing almost into stone, to find that the same lips can both kiss and preach: in my opinion, I say, when a man effects all this, he has some right to require of any Biographer who would paint his situation, that he—hold his jaw; and of the reader who would sympathise with it, that he open his, and preach himself.——

But what I must ex officio depict, is the day to which this Sunday was but the prelude, the vigil and the whet; I mean the prelude, the vigil and the whet to the Martini Actus, or Martinmas Exhibition, of his school. On Sunday was the Sermon, on Wednesday the Actus, on Tuesday the Rehearsal. This Tuesday shall now be delineated to the universe.

I count upon it that I shall not be read by mere people of the world alone, to whom a School-Actus cannot truly appear much better, or more interesting, than some Investiture of a Bishop, or the opera seria of a Frankfort Coronation; but that I likewise have people before me, who have been at schools, and who know how the school-drama of an Actus, and the stage-manager, and[Pg 365] the playbill (the Program) thereof are to be estimated, still without overrating their importance.

Before proceeding to the Rehearsal of the Martini Actus, I impose upon myself, as dramaturgist of the play, the duty, if not of extracting, at least of recording the Conrector's Letter of Invitation. In this composition he said many things; and (what an author likes so well) made proposals rather than reproaches; interrogatively reminding the public, Whether in regard to the well-known head-breakages of Priscian on the part of the Magnates in Pest and Poland, our school-houses were not the best quarantine and lazar-houses to protect us against infectious barbarisms? Moreover, he defended in schools what could be defended (and nothing in the world is sweeter or easier than a defence); and said, Schoolmasters, who not quite justifiably, like certain Courts, spoke nothing, and let nothing be spoken to them but Latin, might plead the Romans in excuse, whose subjects, and whose kings, at least in their epistles and public transactions, were obliged to make use of the Latin tongue. He wondered why only our Greek, and not also our Latin Grammars, were composed in Latin, and put the pregnant question: Whether the Romans, when they taught their little children the Latin tongue, did it in any other than in this same? Thereupon he went over to the Actus, and said what follows, in his own words:

"I am minded to prove, in a subsequent Invitation, that everything which can be said or known about the great founder of the Reformation, the subject of our present Martini Prolusions, has been long ago exhausted, as well by Seckendorf as others. In fact, with regard to Luther's personalities, his table-talk, incomes, journeys, clothes, and so forth, there can now nothing new be brought forward, if at the same time it is to be true. Nevertheless, the field of the Reformation history is, to speak in a figure, by no means wholly cultivated; and it does appear to me as if the inquirer even of the present day might in vain look about for correct intelligence respecting the children, grandchildren and children's children, down to our own times, of this great Reformer; all of whom, however, appertain, in a more remote degree, to the Reformation history, as he himself in a nearer. Thou shalt not perhaps be threshing, said I to myself, altogether empty straw, if, according to thy small ability, thou bring forward and cultivate this neglected branch of History. And so have I ventured, with the last male descendant of Luther, namely, with[Pg 366] the Advocate Martin Gottlob Luther, who practised in Dresden, and deceased there in 1759, to make a beginning of a more special Reformation history. My feeble attempt, in regard to this Reformationary Advocate, will be sufficiently rewarded, should it excite to better works on the subject: however, the little which I have succeeded in digging up and collecting with regard to him I here submissively, obediently, and humbly request all friends and patrons of the Flachsenfingen Gymnasium to listen to, on the 14th of November, from the mouths of sis well-conditioned perorators. In the first place, shall

"Gottlieb Spiesglass, a Flachsenfinger, endeavour to show, in a Latin oration, that Martin Gottlob Luther was certainly descended of the Luther family. After him strives

"Friedrich Christian Krabbler, from Hukelum, in German prose, to appreciate the influence which Martin Gottlob Luther exercised on the then existing Reformation; whereupon, after him, will

"Daniel Lorenz Stenzinger deliver, in Latin verse, an account of Martin Gottlob Luther's lawsuits; embracing the probable merits of Advocates generally, in regard to the Reformation. Which then will give opportunity to

"Nikol Tobias Pfizman to come forward in French, and recount the most important circumstances of Martin Gottlob Luther's school-years, university-life and riper age. And now, when

"Andreas Eintarm shall have endeavoured, in German verse, to apologise for the possible failings of this representative of the great Luther, will

"Justus Strobel, in Latin verse according to ability, sing his uprightness and integrity in the Advocate profession; whereafter I myself shall mount the cathedra, and most humbly thank all the patrons of the Flachsenfingen School, and then farther bring forward those portions in the life of this remarkable man, of which we yet know absolutely nothing, they being spared Deo volente for the speakers of the next Martini Actus."

The day before the Actus offered as it were the proof-shot and sample-sheet of the Wednesday. Persons who on account of dress could not be present at the great school-festival, especially[Pg 367] ladies, made their appearance on Tuesday, during the six proof-orations. No one can be readier than I to subordinate the proof-Actus to the Wednesday-Actus; and I do anything but need being stimulated suitably to estimate the solemn feast of a School; but on the other hand I am equally convinced that no one, who did not go to the real Actus of Wednesday, could possibly figure anything more splendid than the proof-day preceding; because he could have no object wherewith to compare the pomp in which the Primate of the festival drove in with his triumphal chariot and six—to call the six brethren-speakers coach-horses—next morning in presence of ladies and Councillor gentlemen. Smile away, Fixlein, at this astonishment over thy today's Ovation, which is leading on tomorrow's Triumph: on thy dissolving countenance quivers happy Self, feeding on these incense-fumes; but a vanity like thine, and that only, which enjoys without comparing or despising, can one tolerate, will one foster. But what flowed over all his heart, like a melting sunbeam over wax, was his mother, who after much persuasion had ventured in her Sunday clothes humbly to place herself quite low down, beside the door of the Prima class-room. It were difficult to say who is happier, the mother, beholding how he whom she has borne under her heart can direct such noble young gentlemen, and hearing how he along with them can talk of these really high things and understand them too;—or the son, who, like some of the heroes of Antiquity, has the felicity of triumphing in the lifetime of his mother. I have never in my writings or doings cast a stone upon the late Burchardt Grossmann, who under the initial letters of the stanzas in his song, "Brich an, du liebe Morgenröthe," inserted the letters of his own name; and still less have I ever censured any poor herbwoman for smoothing out her winding-sheet, while still living, and making herself one-twelfth of a dozen of grave-shifts. Nor do I regard the man as wise—though indeed as very clever and pedantic—who can fret his gall-bladder full because every one of us leaf-miners views the leaf whereon he is mining as a park-garden, as a fifth Quarter of the World (so near and rich is it); the leaf-pores as so many Valleys of Tempe, the leaf-skeleton as a Liberty-tree, a Bread-tree and Life-tree, and the dew-drops as the Ocean. We poor day-moths, evening-moths and night-moths, fall universally into the same error, only on different leaves; and whosoever (as I do) laughs at the important airs with which the schoolmaster issues his[Pg 368] programs, the dramaturgist his playbills, the classical variation-alms-gatherer his alphabetic letters,—does it, if he is wise (as is the case here), with the consciousness of his own similar folly; and laughs in regard to his neighbour, at nothing but mankind and himself.

The mother was not to be detained; she must off, this very night, to Hukelum, to give the Fräulein Thiennette at least some tidings of this glorious business.—

And now the World will bet a hundred to one, that I forthwith take biographical wax, and emboss such a wax-figure cabinet of the Actus itself as shall be single of its kind.

But on Wednesday morning, while the hope-intoxicated Conrector was just about putting on his fine raiment, something knocked.——

It was the well-known servant of the Rittmeister, carrying the Hukelum Presentation for the Subrector Füchslein in his pocket. To the last-named gentleman he had been sent with this call to the parsonage: but he had distinguished ill betwixt Sub and Conrector; and had besides his own good reasons for directing his steps to the latter; for he thought: "Who can it be that gets it, but the parson that preached last Sunday, and that comes from the village, and is engaged to our Fräulein Thiennette, and to whom I brought a clock and a roll of ducats already?" That his Lordship could pass over his own godson, never entered the man's head.

Fixlein read the address of the Appointment: "To the Reverend the Parson Fixlein of Hukelum." He naturally enough made the same mistake as the lackey; and broke up the Presentation as his own: and finding moreover in the body of the paper no special mention of persons, but only of a Schul-unter-befehlslaber or School-undergovernor (instead of Subrector), he could not but persist in his error. Before I properly explain why the Rittmeister's Lawyer, the framer of the Presentation, had so designated a Subrector—we two, the reader and myself, will keep an eye for a moment on Fixlein's joyful saltations—on his gratefully-streaming eyes—on his full hands so laden with bounty—on the present of two ducats, which he drops into the hands of the mitre-bearer, as willingly as he will soon drop his own pedagogic office. Could he tell what to think (of the Rittmeister), or to write (to the same), or to table (for the lackey)? Did he not ask tidings of the noble health of his benefactor over and over,[Pg 369] though the servant answered him with all distinctness at the very first? And was not this same man, who belonged to the nose-upturning, shoulder-shrugging, shoulder-knotted, toad-eating species of men, at last so moved by the joy which he had imparted, that he determined on the spot, to bestow his presence on the new clergyman's School-Actus, though no person of quality whatever was to be there? Fixlein, in the first place, sealed his letter of thanks; and courteously invited this messenger of good news to visit him frequently in the Parsonage; and to call this evening in passing at his mother's, and give her a lecture for not staying last night, when she might have seen the Presentation from his Lordship arrive today.

The lackey being gone, Fixlein for joy began to grow sceptical—and timorous (wherefore, to prevent filching, he stowed his Presentation securely in his coffer, under keeping of two padlocks); and devout and softened, since he thanked God without scruple for all good that happened to him, and never wrote this Eternal Name but in pulpit characters and with coloured ink, as the Jewish copyists never wrote it except in ornamental letters and when newly washed;[52]—and deaf also did the parson grow, so that he scarcely heard the soft wooing-hour of the Actus—for a still softer one beside Thiennette, with its rose-bushes and rose-honey, would not leave his thoughts. He who of old, when Fortune made a wry face at him, was wont, like children in their sport at one another, to laugh at her so long till she herself was obliged to begin smiling,—he was now flying as on a huge seesaw higher and higher, quicker and quicker aloft.

[52] Eichhorn's Einleit. ins A. T. (Introduction to the Old Testament), vol. ii.

But before the Actus, let us examine the Schadeck Lawyer. Fixlein instead of Füchslein[53] he had written from uncertainty about the spelling of the name; the more naturally as in transcribing the Rittmeisterinn's will, the former had occurred so often. Von, this triumphal arch he durst not set up before Füchslein's new name, because Aufhammer forbade it, considering Hans Füchslein as a mushroom who had no right to vons and titles of nobility, for all his patents. In fine, the Presentation-writer was possessed with Campe's[54] whim of Germanising everything, minding[Pg 370] little though when Germanised it should cease to be intelligible;—as if a word needed any better act of naturalisation than that which universal intelligibility imparts to it. In itself it is the same—the rather as all languages, like all men, are cognate, intermarried and intermixed—whether a word was invented by a savage or a foreigner; whether it grew up like moss amid the German forests, or like street-grass, in the pavement of the Roman forum. The Lawyer, on the other hand, contended that it was different; and accordingly he hid not from any of his clients that Tagefarth (Day-turn) meant Term, and that Appealing was Berufen (Becalling). On this principle he dressed the word Subrector in the new livery of School-undergovernor. And this version farther converted the Schoolmaster into Parson: to such a degree does our civic fortune—not our personal well-being, which supports itself on our own internal soil and resources—grow merely on the drift-mould of accidents, connexions, acquaintances, and Heaven or the Devil knows what!—

[53] Both have the same sound. Füchslein means Foxling, Foxwhelp.—Ed.

[54] Campe, a German philologist, who, along with several others of that class, has really proposed, as represented in the Text, to substitute for all Greek or Latin derivatives corresponding German terms of the like import. Geography, which may be Erdbeschreibung (Earth-description), was thenceforth to be nothing else; a Geometer became an Earthmeasurer, &c. &c. School-undergovernor, instead of Subrector, is by no means the happiest example of the system, and seems due rather to the Schadeck Lawyer than to Campe, whom our Author has elsewhere more than once eulogised for his project in similar style.—Ed.

By the by, from a Lawyer, at the same time a Country Judge, I should certainly have looked for more sense; I should (I may be mistaken) have presumed he knew that the Acts or Reports, which in former times (see Hoffmann's German or un-German Law-practice) were written in Latin, as before the times of Joseph the Hungarian,—are now, if we may say so without offence, perhaps written fully more in the German dialect than in the Latin; and in support of this opinion, I can point to whole lines of German language, to be found in these Imperial-Court-Confessions. However, I will not believe that the Jurist is endeavouring, because Imhofer declares the Roman tongue to be the mother tongue in the other world, to disengage himself from a language, by means of which, like the Roman Eagle, or later, like the Roman Fish-heron (Pope), he has clutched such abundant booty in his talons.——

Toll, toll your bell for the Actus; stream in, in to the ceremony: who cares for it? Neither I nor the Ex-Conrector. The six pigmy Ciceros will in vain set forth before us in sumptuous dress their thoughts and bodies. The draught-wind of Chance has blown away from the Actus its powder-nimbus of glory; and[Pg 371] the Conrector that was has discovered how small a matter a cathedra is, and how great a one a pulpit: "I should not have thought," thought he now, "when I became Conrector, that there could he anything grander, I mean a Parson." Man, behind his everlasting blind, which he only colours differently, and makes no thinner, carries his pride with him from one step to another; and, on the higher step, blames only the pride of the lower.

The best of the Actus was, that the Regiments-Quartermaster, and Master Butcher, Steinberg, attended there, embaled in a long woollen shag. During the solemnity, the Subrector Hans von Füchslein cast several gratified and inquiring glances on the Schadeck servant, who did not once look at him: Hans would have staked his head, that after the Actus, the fellow would wait upon him. When at last the sextuple cockerel-brood had on their dunghill done crowing, that is to say, had perorated, the scholastic cocker, over whom a higher banner was now waving, himself came upon the stage; and delivered to the School-Inspectorships, to the Subrectorship, to the Guardianship and the Lackeyship, his most grateful thanks for their attendance; shortly announcing to them at the same time, "that Providence had now called him from his post to another; and committed to him, unworthy as he was, the cure of souls in the Hukelum parish, as well as in the Schadeck chapel of ease."

This little address, to appearance, well-nigh blew up the then Subrector Hans von Füchslein from his chair; and his face looked of a mingled colour, like red bole, green chalk, tinsel-yellow and vomissement de la reine.

The tall Quartermaster erected himself considerably in his shag, and hummed loud enough in happy forgetfulness: "The Dickens!—Parson?"——

The Subrector dashed by like a comet before the lackey: ordered him to call and take a letter for his master; strode home, and prepared for his patron, who at Schadeck was waiting for a long thanksgiving psalm, a short satirical epistle, as nervous as haste would permit, and mingled a few nicknames and verbal injuries along with it.

The courier handed in, to his master, Fixlein's song of gratitude, and Füchslein's invectives, with the same hand. The Dragoon Rittmeister, incensed at the ill-mannered churl, and bound to his word, which Fixlein had publicly announced in his Actus,[Pg 372] forthwith wrote back to the new Parson an acceptance and ratification; and Fixlein is and remains, to the joy of us all, incontestable ordained parson of Hukelum.

His disappointed rival has still this consolation, that he holds a seat in the wasp-nest of the Neue Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek.[55] Should the Parson ever chrysalise himself into an author, the watch-wasp may then buzz out, and dart its sting into the chrysalis, and put its own brood in the room of the murdered butterfly. As the Subrector everywhere went about, and threatened in plain terms that he would review his colleague, let not the public be surprised that Fixlein's Errata, and his Masoretic Exercitationes, are to this hour withheld from it.

[55] New Universal German Library, a reviewing periodical; in those days conducted by Nicolai, a sworn enemy to what has since been called the New School. (See Tieck, ante)—Ed.

In spring, the widowed church receives her new husband; and how it will be, when Fixlein, under a canopy of flower-trees, takes the Sponsa Christi in one hand, and his own Sponsa in the other,—this, without an Eighth Letter-Box, which, in the present case, may be a true jewel-box and rainbow-key,[56] can no mortal figure, except the Sponsus himself.

[56] Superstition declares, that on the spot where the rainbow rises, a golden key is left.


Instalment in the Parsonage.

On the 15th of April 1793, the reader may observe, far down in the hollow, three baggage-wagons groaning along. These baggage-wagons are transporting the house-gear of the new Parson to Hukelum: the proprietor himself, with a little escort of his parishioners, is marching at their side, that of his china sets and household furniture there may be nothing broken in the eighteenth century, as the whole came down to him unbroken from the seventeenth. Fixlein hears the School-bell ringing behind him; but this chime now sings to him, like a curfew, the songs of future rest: he is now escaped from the Death-valley of the Gymnasium, and admitted into the abodes of the Blessed. Here dwells no envy, no colleague, no Subrector; here in the heavenly country, no man works in the New Universal German Library; here, in[Pg 373] the heavenly Hukelumic Jerusalem, they do nothing but sing praises in the church; and here the Perfected requires no more increase of knowledge.... Here too one need not sorrow that Sunday and Saint's day so often fall together into one.

Truth to tell, the Parson goes too far: but it was his way from of old never to paint out the whole and half shadows of a situation, till he was got into a new one; the beauties of which he could then enhance by contrast with the former. For it requires little reflection to discover that the torments of a schoolmaster are nothing so extraordinary; but, on the contrary, as in the Gymnasium, he mounts from one degree to another, not very dissimilar to the common torments of Hell, which, in spite of their eternity, grow weaker from century to century. Moreover, since, according to the saying of a Frenchman, deux afflictions mises ensemble peuvent devenir une consolation, a man gets afflictions enow in a school to console him; seeing out of eight combined afflictions—I reckon only one for every teacher—certainly more comfort is to be extracted than out of two. The only pity is, that school-people will never act towards each other as court-people do: none but polished men and polished glasses will readily cohere. In addition to all this, in schools—and in offices generally—one is always recompensed: for, as in the second life, a greater virtue is the recompense of an earthly one, so, in the Schoolmaster's case, his merits are always rewarded by more opportunities for new merits; and often enough he is not dismissed from his post at all.—

Eight Gymnasiasts are trotting about in the Parsonage, setting up, nailing to, hauling in. I think, as a scholar of Plutarch, I am right to introduce such seeming minutiæ. A man whom grown-up people love, children love still more. The whole school had smiled on the smiling Fixlein, and liked him in their hearts, because he did not thunder, but sport with them; because he said Sie (They) to the Secundaners, and the Subrector said Ihr (Ye); because his uprearing forefinger was his only sceptre and baculus; because in the Secunda he had interchanged Latin epistles with his scholars; and in the Quinta, had taught not with Napier's Rods (or rods of a sharper description), but with sticks of barley-sugar.

Today his churchyard appeared to him so solemn and festive, that he wondered (though it was Monday) why his parishioners were not in their holiday, but merely in their weekday drapery.[Pg 374] Under the door of the Parsonage stood a weeping woman; for she was too happy, and he was her—son. Yet the mother, in the height of her emotion, contrives quite readily to call upon the carriers, while disloading, not to twist off the four corner globes from the old Frankish chest of drawers. Her son now appeared to her as venerable, as if he had sat for one of the copperplates in her pictured Bible; and that simply, because he had cast off his pedagogue hair-cue, as the ripening tadpole does its tail; and was now standing in a clerical periwig before her: he was now a Comet, soaring away from the profane Earth, and had accordingly changed from a stella caudata into a stella crinita.

His bride also had, on former days, given sedulous assistance in this new improved edition of his house, and laboured faithfully among the other furnishers and furbishers. But today she kept aloof; for she was too good to forget the maiden in the bride. Love, like men, dies oftener of excess than of hunger; it lives on love, but it resembles those Alpine flowers, which feed themselves by suction from the wet clouds, and die if you besprinkle them.—

At length the Parson is settled, and of course he must—for I know my fair readers, who are bent on it as if they were bridemaids—without delay get married. But he may not: before Ascension-day there can nothing be done, and till then are full four weeks and a half. The matter was this: He wished in the first place to have the murder-Sunday, the Cantata, behind him; not indeed because he doubted of his earthly continuance, but because he would not (even for the bride's sake) that the slightest apprehension should mingle with these weeks of glory.

The main reason was, He did not wish to marry till he were betrothed: which latter ceremony was appointed, with the Introduction Sermon, to take place next Sunday. It is the Cantata-Sunday. Let not the reader afflict himself with fears. Indeed, I should not have molested an enlightened century with this Sunday-Wauwau at all, were it not that I delineate with such extreme fidelity. Fixlein himself—especially as the Quartermaster asked him if he was a baby—at last grew so sensible, that he saw the folly of it; nay, he went so far, that he committed a greater folly. For as dreaming that you die signifies, according to the exegetic rule of false, nothing else than long life and welfare, so did Fixlein easily infer that his death-imagination was[Pg 375] just such a lucky dream; the rather as it was precisely on this Cantata-Sunday that Fortune had turned up her cornucopia over him, and at once showered down out of it a bride, a presentation and a roll of ducats. Thus can Superstition imp its wings, let Chance favour it or not.

A Secretary of State, a Peace-treaty writer, a Notary, any such incarcerated Slave of the Desk, feels excellently well how far he is beneath a Parson composing his inaugural sermon. The latter (do but look at my Fixlein) lays himself heartily over the paper—injects the venous system of his sermon-preparation with coloured ink—has a Text-Concordance on the right side, and a Song-Concordance on the left; is there digging out a marrowy sentence, here clipping off a song-blossom, with both to garnish his homiletic pastry;—sketches out the finest plan of operations, not, like a man of the world, to subdue the heart of one woman, but the hearts of all women that hear him, and of their husbands to boot;—draws every peasant passing by his window into some niche of his discourse, to coöperate with the result;—and, finally, scoops out the butter of the smooth soft hymn-book, and therewith exquisitely fattens the black broth of his sermon, which is to feed five thousand men.——

At last, in the evening, as the red sun is dazzling him at the desk, he can rise with heart free from guilt; and, amid twittering sparrows and finches, over the cherry-trees encircling the parsonage, look toward the west, till there is nothing more in the sky but a faint gleam among the clouds. And then when Fixlein, amid the tolling of the evening prayer-bell, slowly descends the stair to his cooking mother, there must be some miracle in the case, if for him whatever has been done or baked, or served up in the lower regions, is not right and good.... A bound, after supper, into the Castle; a look into a pure loving eye; a word without falseness to a bride without falseness; and then under the coverlid, a soft-breathing breast, in which there is nothing but Paradise, a sermon and evening prayer.... I swear, with this I will satisfy a Mythic God, who has left his Heaven, and is seeking a new one among us here below!

Can a mortal, can a Me in the wet clay of Earth, which Death will soon dry into dust, ask more in one week than Fixlein is gathering into his heart? I see not how: At least I should suppose, if such a dust-framed being, after such a twenty-thousand prize from the Lottery of Chance, could require aught more, it[Pg 376] would at most be the twenty-one-thousand prize, namely, the inaugural discourse itself.

And this prize our Zebedäus actually drew on Sunday: he preached—he preached with unction,——he did it before the crowding, rustling press of people; before his Guardian, and before the Lord of Aufhammer, the godfather of the priest and the dog;—a flock with whom in childhood he had driven out the Castle herds about the pasture, he was now, himself a spiritual sheep-smearer, leading out to pasture;—he was standing to the ankles among Candidates and Schoolmasters, for today (what none of them could) at the altar, with the nail of his finger, he might scratch a large cross in the air, baptisms and marriages not once mentioned.... I believe, I should feel less scrupulous than I do to chequer this sunshiny esplanade with that thin shadow of the grave, which the preacher threw over it, when, in the application, with wet heavy eyes, he looked round over the mute attentive church, as if in some corner of it he would seek the mouldering teacher of his youth and of this congregation, who without, under the white tombstone, the wrong-side of life, had laid away the garment of his pious spirit. And when he, himself hurried on by the internal stream, inexpressibly softened by the farther recollections of his own fear of death on this day, of his life now overspread with flowers and benefits, of his entombed benefactress resting here in her narrow bed—when he now—before the dissolving countenance of her friend, his Thiennette—overpowered, motionless and weeping, looked down from the pulpit to the door of the Schadeck vault, and said: "Thanks, thou pious soul, for the good thou hast done to this flock and to their new teacher; and, in the fulness of time, may the dust of thy god-fearing and man-loving breast gather itself, transfigured as gold-dust, round thy reawakened heavenly heart,"—was there an eye in the audience dry? Her husband sobbed aloud; and Thiennette, her beloved, bowed her head, sinking down with inconsolable remembrances, over the front of the seat, like kindred mourners in a funeral train.

No fairer forenoon could prepare the way for an afternoon in which a man was to betroth himself forever, and to unite the exchanged rings with the Ring of Eternity. Except the bridal pair, there was none present but an ancient pair; the mother and the long Guardian. The bridegroom wrote out the marriage-contract or marriage-charter with his own hand; hereby making over to[Pg 377] his bride, from this day, his whole moveable property (not, as you may suppose, his pocket-library, but his whole library; whereas, in the Middle Ages, the daughter of a noble was glad to get one or two books for marriage-portion);—in return for which, she liberally enough contributed—a whole nuptial coach or car, laden as follows: with nine pounds of feathers, not feathers for the cap such as we carry, but of the lighter sort such as carry us;—with a sumptuous dozen of godchild-plates and godchild-spoons (gifts from Schadeck), together with a fish-knife;—of silk, not only stockings (though even King Henri II. of France could dress no more than his legs in silk), but whole gowns;—with jewels and other furnishings of smaller value. Good Thiennette! in the chariot of thy spirit lies the true dowry; namely, thy noble, soft, modest heart, the morning-gift of Nature!

The Parson,—who, not from mistrust but from "the uncertainty of life," could have wished for a notary's seal on everything; to whom no security but a hypothecary one appeared sufficient, and who, in the depositing of every barleycorn, required quittances and contracts,—had now, when the marriage-charter was completed, a lighter heart; and through the whole evening the good man ceased not to thank his bride for what she had given him. To me, however, a marriage-contract were a thing as painful and repulsive,—I confess it candidly, though you should in consequence upbraid me with my great youth,—as if I had to take my love-letter to a Notary Imperial, and make him docket and countersign it before it could be sent. Heavens! to see the light flower of Love, whose perfume acts not on the balance, so laid like tulip-bulbs on the hay-beam of Law; two hearts on the cold councillor-and flesh-beam of relatives and advocates, who are heaping on the scales nothing but houses, fields and tin—this, to the interested party, may be as delightful as, to the intoxicated suckling and nursling of the Muses and Philosophy, it is to carry the evening and morning sacrifices he has offered up to his goddess into the book-shop, and there to change his devotions into money, and sell them by weight and measure.——

From Cantata-Sunday to Ascension, that is, to marriage-day, are one and a half weeks—or one and a half blissful eternities. If it is pleasant that nights or winter separate the days and seasons of joy to a comfortable distance; if, for example, it is pleasant that birthday, Saint's-day, betrothment, marriage and baptismal day, do not all occur on the same day (for with very[Pg 378] few do those festivities, like Holiday and Apostle's day, commerge),—then is it still more pleasant to make the interval, the flower-border, between betrothment and marriage, of an extraordinary breadth. Before the marriage-day are the true honey-weeks; then come the wax-weeks; then the honey-vinegar-weeks.

In the Ninth Letter-Box, our Parson celebrates his wedding; and here, in the Eighth, I shall just briefly skim over his way and manner of existence till then; an existence, as might have been expected, celestial enough. To few is it allotted, as it was to him, to have at once such wings and such flowers (to fly over) before his nuptials; to few is it allotted, I imagine, to purchase flour and poultry on the same day, as Fixlein did;—to stuff the wedding-turkey with hangman-meals;—to go every night into the stall, and see whether the wedding-pig, which his Guardian has given him by way of marriage-present, is still standing and eating;—to spy out for his future wife the flax-magazines and clothes-press-niches in the house;—to lay in new wood-stores in the prospect of winter;—to obtain from the Consistorium directly, and for little smart-money, their Bull of Dispensation, their remission of the threefold proclamation of banns;—to live not in a city, where you must send to every fool (because you are one yourself), and disclose to him that you are going to be married; but in a little angular hamlet, where you have no one to tell aught, but simply the Schoolmaster that he is to ring a little later, and put a knee-cushion before the altar.——

O! if the Ritter Michaelis maintains that Paradise was little, because otherwise the people would not have found each other,—a hamlet and its joys are little and narrow, so that some shadow of Eden may still linger on our Ball.——

I have not even hinted that, the day before the wedding, the Regiments-Quartermaster came uncalled, and killed the pig, and made puddings gratis, such as were never eaten at any Court.

And besides, dear Fixlein, on this soft rich oil of joy there was also floating gratis a vernal sun,—and red twilights,—and flower-garlands,—and a bursting half world of buds!...

How didst thou behave thee in these hot whirlpools of pleasure?—Thou movedst thy Fishtail (Reason), and therewith describedst for thyself a rectilineal course through the billows. For even half as much would have hurried another Parson from his study; but the very crowning felicity of ours was, that he stood as if rooted to the boundary-hill of Moderation, and from thence[Pg 379] looked down on what thousands flout away. Sitting opposite the Castle-windows, he was still in a condition to reckon up that Amen occurs in the Bible one hundred and thirty times. Nay, to his old learned laboratory he now appended a new chemical stove: he purposed writing to Nürnberg and Bayreuth, and there offering his pen to the Brothers Senft, not only for composing practical Receipts at the end of their Almanacs, but also for separate Essays in front under the copperplate title of each Month, because he had a thought of making some reformatory cuts at the common people's mental habitudes.... And now, when in the capacity of Parson he had less to do, and could add to the holy resting-day of the congregation six literary creating-days, he determined (even in these Carnival weeks) to strike his plough into the hitherto quite fallow History of Hukelum, and soon to follow the plough with his drill....

Thus roll his minutes, on golden wheels-of-fortune, over the twelve days, which form the glancing star-paved road to the third-heaven of the thirteenth, that is to the


Or to the Marriage.

Rise, fair Ascension and Marriage day, and gladden readers also! Adorn thyself with the fairest jewel, with the bride, whose soul is as pure and glittering as its vesture; like pearl and pearl-muscle, the one as the other, lustrous and ornamental! And so over the espalier, whose fruit-hedge has hitherto divided our darling from his Eden, every reader now presses after him!—

On the 9th of May 1793, about three in the morning, there came a sharp peal of trumpets, like a light-beam, through the dim-red May-dawn: two twisted horns, with a straight trumpet between them, like a note of admiration between interrogation-points, were clanging from a house in which only a parishioner (not the Parson) dwelt and blew: for this parishioner had last night been celebrating the same ceremony which the pastor had this day before him. The joyful tallyho raised our Parson from his broad bed (and the Shock from beneath it, who some weeks ago had been exiled from the white sleek coverlid), and this so early, that in the portraying tester, where on every former morning[Pg 380] he had observed his ruddy visage and his white bedclothes, all was at present dim and crayonned.

I confess, the new-painted room, and a gleam of dawn on the wall, made it so light, that he could see his knee-buckles glancing on the chair. He then softly awakened his mother (the other guests were to lie for hours in the sheets), and she had the city cookmaid to awaken, who, like several other articles of wedding-furniture, had been borrowed for a day or two from Flachsenfingen. At two doors he knocked in vain, and without answer; for all were already down at the hearth, cooking, blowing and arranging.

How softly does the Spring day gradually fold back its nun-veil, and the Earth grow bright, as if it were the morning of a Resurrection!—The quicksilver-pillar of the barometer, the guiding Fire-pillar of the weather-prophet, rests firmly on Fixlein's Ark of the Covenant. The Sun raises himself, pure and cool, into the morning-blue, instead of into the morning-red. Swallows, instead of clouds, shoot skimming through the melodious air.... O, the good Genius of Fair Weather, who deserves many temples and festivals (because without him no festival could be held), lifted an ethereal azure Day, as it were, from the well-clear atmosphere of the Moon, and sent it down, on blue butterfly-wings—as if it were a blue Monday—glittering below the Sun, in the zigzag of joyful quivering descent, upon the narrow spot of Earth, which our heated fancies are now viewing.... And on this balmy vernal spot, stand amid flowers, over which the trees are shaking blossoms instead of leaves, a bride and a bridegroom.... Happy Fixlein! how shall I paint thee without deepening the sighs of longing in the fairest souls?—

But soft! we will not drink the magic cup of Fancy to the bottom at six in the morning; but keep sober till towards night!

At the sound of the morning prayer-bell, the bridegroom, for the din of preparation was disturbing his quiet orison, went out into the churchyard, which (as in many other places), together with the church, lay round his mansion like a court. Here on the moist green, over whose closed flowers the churchyard-wall was still spreading broad shadows, did his spirit cool itself from the warm dreams of Earth: here, where the white flat grave-stone of his Teacher lay before him like the fallen-in door on the Janus'-temple of Life, or like the windward side of the narrow house, turned towards the tempests of the world: here, where the little shrunk metallic door on the grated cross of his father uttered to[Pg 381] him the inscriptions of death, and the year when his parent departed, and all the admonitions and mementos, graven on the lead;—there, I say, his mood grew softer and more solemn; and he now lifted up by heart his morning prayer, which usually he read; and entreated God to bless him in his office, and to spare his mother's life; and to look with favour and acceptance on the purpose of today.—Then over the graves he walked into his fenceless little angular flower-garden; and here, composed and confident in the divine keeping, he pressed the stalks of his tulips deeper into the mellow earth.

But on returning to the house, he was met on all hands by the bell-ringing and the janissary-music of wedding-gladness;—the marriage-guests had all thrown off their nightcaps, and were drinking diligently;—there was a clattering, a cooking, a frizzling;—tea-services, coffee-services and warm-beer-services, were advancing in succession; and plates full of bride-cakes were going round like potter's frames or cistern-wheels.—The Schoolmaster, with three young lads, was heard rehearsing from his own house an Arioso, with which, so soon as they were perfect, he purposed to surprise his clerical superior.—But now rushed all the arms of the foaming joy-streams into one, when the sky-queen besprinkled with blossoms, the bride, descended upon Earth in her timid joy, full of quivering humble love;—when the bells began;—when the procession-column set forth with the whole village round and before it;—when the organ, the congregation, the officiating priest and the sparrows on the trees of the church-window, struck louder and louder their rolling peals on the drum of the jubilee-festival.... The heart of the singing bridegroom was like to leap from its place for joy, "that on his bridal-day it was all so respectable and grand."—Not till the marriage-benediction could he pray a little.

Still worse and louder grew the business during dinner, when pastry-work and marchpane-devices were brought forward,—when glasses and slain fishes (laid under the napkins to frighten the guests) went round;—and when the guests rose, and themselves rent round, and at length danced round: for they had instrumental music from the city there.

One minute handed over to the other the sugar-bowl and bottle-case of joy: the guests heard and saw less and less, and the villagers began to see and hear more and more, and towards night they penetrated like a wedge into the open door,—nay two[Pg 382] youths ventured even in the middle of the parsonage-court, to mount a plank over a beam, and commence seesawing.—Out of doors, the gleaming vapour of the departed Sun was encircling the Earth, the evening-star was glittering over parsonage and churchyard; no one heeded it.

However, about nine o'clock,—when the marriage-guests had well-nigh forgotten the marriage-pair, and were drinking or dancing along for their own behoof; when poor mortals, in this sunshine of Fate, like fishes in the sunshine of the sky, were leaping up from their wet cold element; and when the bridegroom under the star of happiness and love, casting like a comet its long train of radiance over all his heaven, had in secret pressed to his joy-filled breast his bride and his mother,—then did he lock a slice of wedding-bread privily into a press, in the old superstitious belief that this residue secured continuance of bread for the whole marriage. As he returned, with greater love for the sole partner of his life, she herself met him with his mother, to deliver him in private the bridal-nightgown and bridal-shirt, as is the ancient usage. Many a countenance grows pale in violent emotions, even of joy: Thiennette's wax-face was bleaching still whiter under the sunbeams of Happiness. O never fall, thou lily of Heaven, and may four springs instead of four seasons open and shut thy flower-bells to the sun!—All the arms of his soul, as he floated on the sea of joy, were quivering to clasp the soft warm heart of his beloved, to encircle it gently and fast, and draw it to his own....

He led her from the crowded dancing-room into the cool evening. Why does the evening, does the night put warmer love in our hearts? Is it the nightly pressure of helplessness; or is it the exalting separation from the turmoil of life; that veiling of the world, in which for the soul nothing more remains but souls;—is it therefore, that the letters in which the loved name stands written on our spirit appear, like phosphorus-writing, by night in fire, while by day in their cloudy traces they but smoke?

He walked with his bride into the Castle-garden: she hastened quickly through the Castle, and past its servants'-hall, where the fair flowers of her young life had been crushed broad and dry, under a long dreary pressure; and her soul expanded and breathed in the free open garden, on whose flowery soil destiny had cast forth the first seeds of the blossoms which today were gladdening her existence. Still Eden! green flower-chequered chiaroscuro!—The[Pg 383] moon is sleeping underground like a dead one; but beyond the garden the sun's red evening-clouds have fallen down like rose-leaves; and the evening-star, the brideman of the sun, hovers, like a glancing butterfly, above the rosy red, and, modest as a bride, deprives no single starlet of its light.

The wandering pair arrived at the old gardener's hut; now standing locked and dumb, with dark windows in the light garden, like a fragment of the Past surviving in the Present. Bared twigs of trees were folding, with clammy half-formed leaves, over the thick intertwisted tangles of the bushes.—The Spring was standing, like a conqueror, with Winter at his feet.—In the blue pond, now bloodless, a dusky evening-sky lay hollowed out, and the gushing waters were moistening the flower-beds.—The silver sparks of stars were rising on the altar of the East, and falling down extinguished in the red sea of the West.

The wind whirred, like a night-bird, louder through the trees; and gave tones to the acacia-grove, and the tones called to the pair who had first become happy within it: "Enter, new mortal pair, and think of what is past, and of my withering and your own; and be holy as Eternity, and weep not only for joy, but for gratitude also!"—And the wet-eyed bridegroom led his wet-eyed bride under the blossoms, and laid his soul, like a flower, on her heart, and said: "Best Thiennette, I am unspeakably happy, and would say much, and cannot.—Ah, thou Dearest, we will live like angels, like children together! Surely I will do all that is good to thee; two years ago I had nothing, no nothing; ah, it is through thee, best Love, that I am happy. I call thee Thou, now, thou dear good soul!" She drew him closer to her, and said, though without kissing him: "Call me Thou always, Dearest!"

And as they stept forth again from the sacred grove into the magic-dusky garden, he took off his hat; first, that he might internally thank God, and secondly, because he wished to look into this fairest evening sky.

They reached the blazing, rustling marriage-house, but their softened hearts sought stillness; and a foreign touch, as in the blossoming vine, would have disturbed the flower-nuptials of their souls. They turned rather, and winded up into the churchyard to preserve their mood. Majestic on the groves and mountains stood the Night before man's heart, and made it also great. Over the white steeple-obelisk the sky rested bluer and darker; and behind it wavered the withered summit of the May-pole with faded flag.[Pg 384] The son noticed his father's grave, on which the wind was opening and shutting, with harsh noise, the little door of the metal cross, to let the year of his death be read on the brass plate within. An overpowering sadness seized his heart with violent streams of tears, and drove him to the sunk hillock, and he led his bride to the grave, and said: "Here sleeps he, my good father; in his thirty-second year, he was carried hither to his long rest. O thou good, dear father, couldst thou today but see the happiness of thy son, like my mother! But thy eyes are empty, and thy breast is full of ashes, and thou seest us not."—He was silent. The bride wept aloud; she saw the mouldering coffins of her parents open, and the two dead arise and look round for their daughter, who had stayed so long behind them, forsaken on the Earth. She fell upon his heart, and faltered: "O beloved, I have neither father nor mother, do not forsake me!"

O thou who hast still a father and a mother, thank God for it, on the day when thy soul is full of joyful tears, and needs a bosom wherein to shed them....

And with this embracing at a father's grave, let this day of joy be holily concluded.—


St. Thomas's Day and Birthday.

An Author is a sort of bee-keeper for his reader-swarm; in whose behalf he separates the Flora kept for their use into different seasons, and here accelerates, and there retards, the blossoming of many a flower, that so in all chapters there be blooming.

The goddess of Love and the angel of Peace conducted our married pair on tracks running over full meadows, through the Spring; and on footpaths hidden by high cornfields, through the Summer; and Autumn, as they advanced towards Winter, spread her marbled leaves under their feet. And thus they arrived before the low dark gate of Winter, full of life, full of love, trustful, contented, sound and ruddy.

On St. Thomas's day was Thiennette's birthday as well as Winter's. About a quarter past nine, just when the singing ceases in the church, we shall take a peep through the window into the interior of the parsonage. There is nothing here but the old mother, who has all day (the son having restricted her to rest,[Pg 385] and not work) been gliding about, and brushing, and burnishing, and scouring, and wiping: every carved chair-leg, and every brass nail of the waxcloth-covered table, she has polished into brightness;—everything hangs, as with all married people who have no children, in its right place, brushes, fly-flaps and almanacs;—the chairs are stationed by the room-police in their ancient corners;—a flax-rock, encircled with a diadem, or scarf of azure ribbon, is lying in the Schadeckbed, because, though it is a half holiday, some spinning may go on;—the narrow slips of paper, whereon heads of sermons are to be arranged, lie white beside the sermons themselves, that is, beside the octavo paper-book which holds them, for the Parson and his work-table, by reason of the cold, have migrated from the study to the sitting-room;—his large furred doublet is hanging beside his clean bridegroom nightgown: there is nothing wanting in the room but He and She. For he had preached her with him tonight into the empty Apostle's-day church, that so her mother, without witnesses—except the two or three thousand readers who are peeping with me through the window—might arrange the provender-baking, and whole commissariat department of the birthday-festival, and spread out her best table-gear and victual-stores without obstruction.

The soul-curer reckoned it no sin to admonish, and exhort, and encourage, and threaten his parishioners, till he felt pretty certain that the soup must be smoking on the plates. Then he led his birthday helpmate home, and suddenly placed her before the altar of meat-offering, before a sweet title-page of bread-tart, on which her name stood baked, in true monastic characters, in tooth-letters of almonds. In the background of time and of the room, I yet conceal two—bottles of Pontac. How quickly, under the sunshine of joy, do thy cheeks grow ripe, Thiennette, when thy husband solemnly says: "This is thy birthday; and may the Lord bless thee and watch over thee, and cause his countenance to shine on thee, and send thee, to the joy of our mother and thy husband especially, a happy glad recovery. Amen!"—And when Thiennette perceived that it was the old mistress who had cooked and served up all this herself, she fell upon her neck, as if it had been not her husband's mother, but her own.

Emotion conquers the appetite. But Fixlein's stomach was as strong as his heart; and with him no species of movement could subdue the peristaltic. Drink is the friction-oil of the tongue, as eating is its drag. Yet, not till he had eaten and[Pg 386] spoken much, did the pastor fill the glasses. Then indeed he drew the cork-sluice from the bottle, and set forth its streams. The sickly mother, of a being still hid beneath her heart, turned her eyes, in embarrassed emotion, on the old woman only; and could scarcely chide him for sending to the city wine-merchant on her account. He took a glass in each hand, for each of the two whom he loved, and handed them to his mother and his wife, and said: "To thy long, long life, Thiennette!—And your health and happiness, Mamma!—And a glad arrival to our little one, if God so bless us!"—"My son," said the gardeneress, "it is to thy long life that we must drink; for it is by thee we are supported. God grant thee length of days!" added she, with stifled voice, and her eyes betrayed her tears.

I nowhere find a livelier emblem of the female sex in all its boundless levity, than in the case where a woman is carrying the angel of Death beneath her heart, and yet in these nine months full of mortal tokens thinks of nothing more important, than of who shall be the gossips, and what shall be cooked at the christening. But thou, Thiennette, hadst nobler thoughts, though these too along with them. The still-hidden darling of thy heart was resting before thy eyes like a little angel sculptured on a grave-stone, and pointing with its small finger to the hour when thou shouldst die; and every morning and every evening, thou thoughtest of death, with a certainty, of which I yet knew not the reasons; and to thee it was as if the Earth were a dark mineral cave where man's blood like stalactitic water drops down, and in dropping raises shapes which gleam so transiently, and so quickly fade away! And that was the cause why tears were continually trickling from thy soft eyes, and betraying all thy anxious thoughts about thy child: but thou repaidst these sad effusions of thy heart by the embrace in which, with new-awakened love, thou fellest on thy husband's neck, and saidst: "Be as it may, God's will be done, so thou and my child are left alive!—But I know well that thou, Dearest, lovest me as I do thee.".... Lay thy hand, good mother, full of blessings, on the two; and thou kind Fate, never lift thine away from them!—

It is with emotion and good wishes that I witness the kiss of two fair friends, or the embracing of two virtuous lovers; and from the fire of their altar sparks fly over to me: but what is this to our sympathetic exaltation, when we see two mortals, bending under the same burden, bound to the same duties, animated by[Pg 387] the same care for the same little darlings—fall on one another's overflowing hearts, in some fair hour? And if these, moreover, are two mortals who already wear the mourning-weeds of life, I mean old age, whose hair and cheeks are now grown colourless, and eyes grown dim, and whose faces a thousand thorns have marred into images of Sorrow;—when these two clasp each other with such wearied aged arms, and so near to the precipice of the grave, and when they say or think: "All in us is dead, but not our love—O, we have lived and suffered long together, and now we will hold out our hands to Death together also, and let him carry us away together,"—does not all within us cry: O Love, thy spark is superior to Time; it burns neither in joy nor in the cheek of roses; it dies not, neither under a thousand tears, nor under the snow of old age, nor under the ashes of thy—beloved? It never dies: and Thou, All-good! if there were no eternal love, there were no love at all....

To the Parson it was easier than it is to me to pave for himself a transition from the heart to the digestive faculty. He now submitted to Thiennette (whose voice at once grew cheerful, while her eyes time after time began to sparkle) his purpose to take advantage of the frosty weather, and have the winter meat slaughtered and salted: "the pig can scarcely rise," said he; and forthwith he fixed the determination of the women, farther the butcher, and the day, and all et ceteras; appointing everything with a degree of punctuality, such as the war-college (when it applies the cupping-glass, the battle-sword, to the overfull system of mankind) exhibits on the previous day, in its arrangements, before it drives a province into the baiting-ring and slaughter-house.

This settled, he began to talk and feel quite joyously about the course of winter, which had commenced today at two-and-twenty minutes past eight in the morning: "for," said he, "new-year is close at hand; and we shall not need so much candle tomorrow night as tonight." His mother, it is true, came athwart him with the weapons of her five senses: but he fronted her with his Astronomical Tables, and proved that the lengthening of the day was no less undeniable than imperceptible. In the last place, like most official and married persons, heeding little whether his women took him or not, he informed them in juristico-theological phrase: "That he would put off no longer, but write this very afternoon to the venerable Consistorium, in whose hands lay the[Pg 388] jus circa sacra, for a new Ball to the church-steeple; and the rather, as he hoped before newyear's day to raise a bountiful subscription from the parish for this purpose.—If God spare us till Spring," added he with peculiar cheerfulness, "and thou wert happily recovered, I might so arrange the whole that the Ball should be set up at thy first church-going, dame!"

Thereupon he shifted his chair from the dinner and dessert table to the work-table; and spent the half of his afternoon over the petition for the steeple-ball. As there still remained a little space till dusk, he clapped his tackle to his new learned Opus, of which I must now afford a little glimpse. Out of doors among the snow, there stood near Hukelum an old Robber-Castle, which Fixlein, every day in Autumn, had hovered round like a revenant, with a view to gauge it, ichnographically to delineate it, to put every window-bar and every bridle-hook of it correctly on paper. He believed he was not expecting too much, if thereby—and by some drawings of the not so much vertical as horizontal walls—he hoped to impart to his "Architectural Correspondence of two Friends concerning the Hukelum Robber-Castle" that last polish and labor limæ which contents Reviewers. For towards the critical Starchamber of the Reviewers he entertained not that contempt which some authors actually feel—or only affect, as for instance, I. From this mouldered Robber-Louvre, there grew for him more flowers of joy, than ever in all probability had grown from it of old for its owners.—To my knowledge, it is an anecdote not hitherto made public, that for all this no man but Büsching has to answer. Fixlein had not long ago, among the rubbish of the church letter-room, stumbled on a paper wherein the Geographer had been requesting special information about the statistics of the village. Büsching, it is true, had picked up nothing—accordingly, indeed, Hukelum, in his Geography, is still omitted altogether;—but this pestilential letter had infected Fixlein with the spring-fever of Ambition, so that his palpitating heart was no longer to be stilled or held in check, except by the assafœtida-emulsion of a review. It is with authorcraft as with love: both of them for decades long one may equally desire and forbear: but is the first spark once thrown into the powder-magazine, it burns to the end of the chapter.

Simply because winter had commenced by the Almanac, the fire must be larger than usual; for warm rooms, like large furs and bearskin-caps, were things which he loved more than you[Pg 389] would figure. The dusk, this fair chiaroscuro of the day, this coloured foreground of the night, he lengthened out as far as possible, that he might study Christmas discourses therein: and yet could his wife, without scruple, just as he was pacing up and down the room, with the sowing-sheet full of divine word-seeds hung round his shoulder,—hold up to him a spoonful of alegar, that he might try the same in his palate, and decide whether she should yet draw it off. Nay, did he not in all cases, though fonder of roe-fishes himself, order a milter to be drawn from the herring-barrel, because his good-wife liked it better?—

Here light was brought in; and as Winter was just now commencing his glass-painting on the windows, his ice flower-pieces, and his snow-foliage, our Parson felt that it was time to read something cold, which he pleasantly named his cold collation; namely, the description of some unutterably frosty land. On the present occasion, it was the winter history of the four Russian sailors on Nova Zembla. I, for my share, do often in summer, when the sultry zephyr is inflating the flower-bells, append certain charts and sketches of Italy, or the East, as additional landscapes to those among which I am sitting. And yet tonight he farther took up the Weekly Chronicle of Flachsenfingen; and amid the bombshells, pestilences, famines, comets with long tails, and the roaring of all the Hell-floods of another Thirty-Years War, he could still listen with the one ear towards the kitchen, where the salad for his roast-duck was just a-cutting.

Good-night, old Fixlein! I am tired. May kind Heaven send thee with the young year 1794, when the Earth shall again carry her people, like precious night-moths, on leaves and flowers, the new steeple-ball, and a thick handsome—boy to boot!


Spring; Investiture; and Childbirth.

I have just risen from a singular dream; but the foregoing Box makes it natural. I dreamed that all was verdant, all full of odours; and I was looking up at a steeple-ball glittering in the sun, from my station in the window of a little white garden-house, my eyelids full of flower-pollen, my shoulders full of thin cherry-blossoms, and my ears full of humming from the neighbouring[Pg 390] bee-hives. Then, methought, advancing slowly through the beds, came the Hukelum Parson, and stept into the garden-house, and solemnly said to me: "Honoured Sir, my wife has just brought me a little boy; and I make bold to solicit your Honour to do the holy office for the same, when it shall be received into the bosom of the church."

I naturally started up, and there was—Parson Fixlein standing bodily at my bedside, and requesting me to be godfather: for Thiennette had given him a son last night about one o'clock. The confinement had been as light and happy as could be conceived; for this reason, that the father had, some months before, been careful to provide one of those Klappersteins, as we call them, which are found in the aerie of the eagle, and therewith to alleviate the travail: for this stone performs, in its way, all the service which the bonnet of that old Minorite monk in Naples, of whom Gorani informs us, could accomplish for people in such circumstances, who put it on....

—I might vex the reader still longer; but I willingly give up, and show him how the matter stood.

Such a May as the present (of 1794), Nature has not, in the memory of man—begun: for this is but the fifteenth of it. People of reflection have for centuries been vexed once every year, that our German singers should indite May-songs, since several other months deserve such a poetical night-music much better; and I myself have often gone so far as to adopt the idiom of our market-women, and instead of May butter, to say June butter, as also June, March, April songs.—But thou, kind May of this year, thou deservest to thyself all the songs which were ever made on thy rude namesakes! By Heaven! when I now issue from the wavering chequered acacia-grove of the Castle-garden, in which I am writing this Chapter, and come forth into the broad living day, and look up to the warming Heaven, and over its Earth budding out beneath it,—the Spring rises before me like a vast full cloud, with a splendour of blue and green. I see the Sun standing amid roses in the western sky, into which he has thrown his ray-brush, wherewith he has today been painting the Earth;—and when I look round a little in our picture-exhibition, his enamelling is still hot on the mountains; on the moist chalk of the moist Earth, the flowers full of sap-colours are laid out to dry, and the forget-me-not with miniature colours; under the varnish of the streams, the skyey Painter has pencilled his own eye; and the clouds, like a[Pg 391] decoration-painter, he has touched off with wild outlines and single tints: and so he stands at the border of the Earth, and looks back upon his stately Spring, whose robe-folds are valleys, whose breast-bouquet is gardens, and whose blush is a vernal evening, and who, when she arises, shall be—Summer.

But to proceed! Every spring—and especially in such a spring—I imitate on foot our birds of passage; and travel off the hypochondriacal sediment of winter: but I do not think I should have seen even the steeple-ball of Hukelum, which is to be set up one of these days, to say nothing of the Parson's family, had not I happened to be visiting the Flachsenfingen Superintendent and Consistorialrath. From him I got acquainted with Fixlein's history (every Candidatus must deliver an account of his life to the Consistorium), and with his still madder petition for a steeple-ball. I observed, with pleasure, how gaily the cob was diving and swashing about in his duck-pool and milk-bath of life; and forthwith determined on a journey to his shore. It is singular, that is to say, manlike, that when we have for years kept prizing and describing some original person or original book, yet the moment we see such, they anger us: we would have them fit us and delight us in all points, as if any originality could do this but our own.

It was Saturday the third of May, when I, with the Superintendent, the Senior Capituli, and some temporal Raths, mounted and rolled off, and in two carriages were driven to the Parson's door. The matter was, he was not yet—invested, and tomorrow this was to be done. I little thought, while we whirled by the white espalier of the Castle-garden, that there I was to write another book.

I still see the Parson, in his peruke-minever and head-case, come springing to the coach-door and lead us out; so smiling—so courteous—so vain of the disloaded freight, and so attentive to it. He looked as if in the journey of life he had never once put on the travelling-gauze of Sorrow: Thiennette again seemed never to have thrown hers back. How neat was everything in the house, how dainty, decorated and polished! And yet so quiet, without the cursed alarm-ringing of servants' bells, and without the bass-drum tumult of stair-pedaling. Whilst the gentlemen, my road-companions, were sitting in state in the upper room, I flitted, as my way is, like a smell, over the whole house, and my path led me through the sitting-room over the kitchen, and at[Pg 392] last into the churchyard beside the house. Good Saturday! I will paint thy hours as I may, with the black asphaltos of ink, on the tablets of other souls! In the sitting-room, I lifted from the desk a volume gilt on the back and edges, and bearing this title: "Holy Sayings, by Fixlein. First Collection." And as I looked to see where it had been printed, the Holy Collection turned out to be in writing. I handled the quills, and dipped into the negro-black of the ink, and I found that all was right and good: with your fluttering gentlemen of letters, who hold only a department of the foreign, and none of the home affairs, nothing (except some other things about them) can be worse than their ink and pens. I also found a little copperplate, to which I shall in due time return.

In the kitchen, a place not more essential for the writing of an English novel, than for the acting of a German one, I could plant myself beside Thiennette, and help her to blow the fire, and look at once into her face and her burning coals. Though she was in wedlock, a state in which white roses on the cheeks are changed for red ones, and young women are similar to a similitude given in my Note;[57]—and although the blazing wood threw a false rouge over her, I guessed how pale she must have been; and my sympathy in her paleness rose still higher at the thought of the burden which Fate had now not so much taken from her, as laid in her arms and nearer to her heart. In truth, a man must never have reflected on the Creation-moment, when the Universe first rose from the bosom of an Eternity, if he does not view with philosophic reverence a woman, whose thread of life a secret all-wondrous Hand is spinning to a second thread, and who veils within her the transition from Nothingness to Existence, from Eternity to Time;—but still less can a man have any heart of flesh, if his soul, in presence of a woman, who, to an unknown unseen being, is sacrificing more than we will sacrifice when it is seen and known, namely, her nights, her joys, often her life, does not bow lower, and with deeper emotion, than in presence of a whole nun-orchestra on their Sahara-desert;—and worse than either is the man for whom his own mother has not made all other mothers venerable.

[57] To the Spring, namely, which begins with snowdrops, and ends with roses and pinks.—

"It is little serviceable to thee, poor Thiennette," thought I, "that now, when thy bitter cup of sickness is made to run over,[Pg 393] thou must have loud festivities come crowding round thee." I meant the Investiture and the Ball-raising. My rank, the diploma of which the reader will find stitched in with the Dog-post-days, and which had formerly been hers, brought about my ears a host of repelling, embarrassed, wavering titles of address from her; which people, to whom they have once belonged, are at all times apt to parade before superiors or inferiors, and which it now cost me no little trouble to disperse. Through the whole Saturday and Sunday, I could never get into the right track either with her or him, till the other guests were gone. As for the mother, she acted, like obscure ideas, powerfully and constantly, but out of view: this arose in part from her idolatrous fear of us; and partly also from a slight shade of care (probably springing from the state of her daughter), which had spread over her like a little cloud.

I cruised about, so long as the moon-crescent glimmered in the sky, over the churchyard; and softened my fantasies, which are at any rate too prone to paint with the brown of crumbling mummies, not only by the red of twilight, but also by reflecting how easily our eyes and our hearts can become reconciled even to the ruins of Death; a reflection which the Schoolmaster, whistling as he arranged the charnel-house for the morrow, and the Parson's maid singing, as she reaped away the grass from the graves, readily enough suggested to me. And why should not this habituation to all forms of Fate in the other world, also, be a gift reserved for us in our nature by the bounty of our great Preserver?—I perused the grave-stones; and I think even now that Superstition[58] is right in connecting with the reading of such things a loss of memory; at all events, one does forget a thousand things belonging to this world....

[58] This Christian superstition is not only a Rabbinical, but also a Roman one. Cicero de Senectute.

The Investiture on Sunday (whose Gospel, of the good shepherd, suited well with the ceremony) I must dispatch in few words; because nothing truly sublime can bear to be treated of in many. However, I shall impart the most memorable circumstances, when I say that there was—drinking (in the Parsonage),—music-making (in the Choir),—reading (of the Presentation by the Senior, and of the Ratification-rescript by the lay Rath),—and preaching, by the Consistorialrath, who took the soul-curer by the hand, and presented, made over and guaranteed him to[Pg 394] the congregation, and them to him. Fixlein felt that he was departing as a high-priest from the church, which he had entered as a country parson; and all day he had not once the heart to ban. When a man is treated with solemnity, he looks upon himself as a higher nature, and goes through his solemn feasts devoutly.

This indenturing, this monastic profession, our Head-Rabbis and Lodge-masters (our Superintendents) have usually a taste for putting off till once the pastor has been some years ministering among the people, to whom they hereby present him; as the early Christians frequently postponed their consecration and investiture to Christianity, their baptism namely, till the day when they died: nay, I do not even think this clerical Investiture would lose much of its usefulness, if it and the declaring-vacant of the office were reserved for the same day; the rather as this usefulness consists entirely in two items; what the Superintendent and his Raths can eat, and what they can pocket.

Not till towards evening did the Parson and I get acquainted. The Investiture officials, and elevation pulley-men, had, throughout the whole evening, been very violently—breathing. I mean thus: as these gentlemen could not but be aware, by the most ancient theories and the latest experiments, that air was nothing else than a sort of rarefied and exploded water, it became easy for them to infer that, conversely, water was nothing else than a denser sort of air. Wine-drinking, therefore, is nothing else but the breathing of an air pressed together into proper spissitude, and sprinkled over with a few perfumes. Now, in our days, by clerical persons too much (fluid) breath can never be inhaled through the mouth; seeing the dignity of their station excludes them from that breathing through the smaller pores, which Abernethy so highly recommends under the name of air-bath: and can the Gullet in their case be aught else than door-neighbour to the Windpipe, the consonant and fellow-shoot of the Windpipe?—I am running astray: I meant to signify, that I this evening had adopted the same opinion; only that I used this air or ether, not like the rest for loud laughter, but for the more quiet contemplation of life in general. I even shot forth at my gossip certain speeches, which betrayed devoutness: these he at first took for jests, being aware that I was from Court, and of quality. But the concave mirror of the wine-mist at length suspended the images of my soul, enlarged and embodied like spiritual shapes,[Pg 395] in the air before me.—Life shaded itself off to my eyes like a hasty summer night, which we little fire-flies shoot across with transient gleam;—I said to him that man must turn himself like the leaves of the great mallow, at the different day-seasons of his life, now to the rising sun, now to the setting, now to the night, towards the Earth and its graves;—I said, the omnipotence of Goodness was driving us and the centuries of the world towards the gates of the City of God, as, according to Euler, the resistance of the Ether leads the circling Earth towards the Sun, &c. &c.

On the strength of these entremets, he considered me the first theologian of his age; and had he been obliged to go to war, would previously have taken my advice on the matter, as belligerent powers were wont of old from the theologians of the Reformation. I hide not from myself, however, that what preachers call vanity of the world, is something altogether different from what philosophy so calls. When I, moreover, signified to him that I was not ashamed to be an Author; but had a turn for working up this and the other biography; and that I had got a sight of his Life in the hands of the Superintendent; and might be in case to prepare a printed one therefrom, if so were he would assist me with here and there a tint of flesh-colour,—then was my silk, which, alas! not only isolates one from electric fire, but also from a kindlier sort of it, the only grate which rose between his arms and me; for, like the most part of poor country parsons, it was not in his power to forget the rank of any man, or to vivify his own on a higher one. He said: "He would acknowledge it with veneration, if I should mention him in print; but he was much afraid his life was too common and too poor for a biography." Nevertheless, he opened me the drawer of his Letter-boxes; and said, perhaps, he had hereby been paving the way for me.

The main point, however, was, he hoped that his Errata, his Exercitationes, and his Letters on the Robber-Castle, if I should previously send forth a Life of the Author, might be better received; and that it would be much the same as if I accompanied them with a Preface.

In short, when on Monday the other dignitaries with their nimbus of splendour had dissipated, I alone, like a precipitate, abode with him; and am still abiding, that is, from the fifth of May (the Public should take the Almanac of 1794, and keep it[Pg 396] open beside them) to the fifteenth: today is Thursday, tomorrow is the sixteenth and Friday, when comes the Spinat-Kirmes, or Spinage-Wake, as they call it, and the uplifting of the steeple-ball, which I just purposed to await before I went. Now, however, I do not go so soon; for on Sunday I have to assist at the baptismal ceremony, as baptismal agent for my little future godson. Whoever pays attention to me, and keeps the Almanac open, may readily guess why the christening is put off till Sunday: for it is that memorable Cantata-Sunday, which once, for its mad narcotic hemlock-virtues, was of importance in our History; but is now so only for the fair betrothment, which after two years we mean to celebrate with a baptism.

Truly it is not in my power—for want of colours and presses—to paint or print upon my paper the soft balmy flower-garland of a fortnight which has here wound itself about my sickly life; but with a single day I shall attempt it. Man, I know well, cannot prognosticate either his joys or his sorrows, still less repeat them, either in living or writing.

The black hour of coffee has gold in its mouth for us and honey; here, in the morning coolness, we are all gathered; we maintain popular conversation, that so the parsoness and the gardeneress may be able to take share in it. The morning-service in the church, where often the whole people[59] are sitting and singing, divides us. While the bell is sounding, I march with my writing-gear into the singing Castle-garden; and seat myself in the fresh acacia-grove, at the dewy two-legged table. Fixlein's Letter-boxes I keep by me in my pocket; and I have only to look and abstract from his what can be of use in my own.—Strange enough! so easily do we forget a thing in describing it, I really did not recollect for a moment that I am now sitting at the very grove-table, of which I speak, and writing all this.—

[59] For according to the Jurists, fifteen persons make a people.

My gossip in the mean time is also labouring for the world. His study is a sort of sacristy, and his printing-press a pulpit, wherefrom he preaches to all men; for an Author is the Town-chaplain of the Universe. A man, who is making a Book, will scarcely hang himself; all rich Lords'-sons, therefore, should labour for the press; for, in that case, when you awake too early in bed, you have always a plan, an aim, and therefore a cause before you why you should get out of it. Better off too is the author who collects rather than invents,—for the latter with its[Pg 397] eating fire calcines the heart: I praise the Antiquary, the Heraldist, Notemaker, Compiler; I esteem the Title-perch (a fish called Perca-Diagramma, because of the letters on its scales), and the Printer (a chafer, called Scarabæus Typographus, which eats letters in the bark of fir),—neither of them needs any greater or fairer arena in the world than a piece of rag-paper, or any other laying-apparatus than