Part 3 out of 5
any work of improvement can be considered national in its character,
the improvement of St. Clair flats, in the manner proposed, may, it is
submitted, justly claim to be placed in that category."
The plan proposed by the United States Engineers for this improvement is
to construct two parallel piers of about four thousand feet long, as a
permanent protection to the channel-way, and to dredge out a channel
between these piers, six hundred feet wide and twelve feet deep. The
cost of this work is estimated at about $533,000. This may seem a large
sum of money; but when it is considered that the value of the commerce
which passed over these flats in the year 1855 was ascertained by
Col. Graham to be over two hundred and fifty millions of dollars, or
considerably more than the whole exports of the Southern States for the
year 1860, more than a million of dollars per day during the period of
navigation, and that the increased charge on freights by reason of this
obstruction is more than two millions of dollars per annum, which of
course has to be paid by the producer, the investment of one quarter of
that annual charge in a work which would do away with the tax might seem
to be a measure of economy.
To show the importance of these lake-harbors, and the vast amount of
commerce which depends upon them, and which has grown up within the last
twenty years, we will give an extract from another of Col. Graham's very
interesting Reports, upon the Chicago harbor.
"The present vast extent and rapidly increasing growth of the commerce
of Chicago render it a matter of absolute necessity, in which not
only Illinois, but also a number of her neighboring States are deeply
interested, that her harbor should be kept in the best and most secure
state of improvement, so as always to afford, during the season of
navigation, a safe and easy entrance and departure for vessels drawing
at least twelve feet water.
"The States which are thus directly interested in the port of Chicago
are New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The shores of all these are washed either by
Lake Michigan or the other Great Lakes, with which Chicago has a direct
and very extensive commerce through the St. Clair flats. The other
States and Territories, which do not reach to the Great Lakes, but which
are nevertheless greatly interested in the preservation of Chicago
harbor, are Iowa and Missouri, and Nebraska and Kansas. A very large
portion of the wheat and other grain produced in those last-mentioned
States and Territories will be brought by railroads to the port of
Chicago, to be shipped thence to the Eastern Atlantic markets.
"The average amount of duties received annually at the Chicago
custom-house for three years, 1853, '54, and '55, was $377,797.86. The
imports at Chicago for 1855 were,--
By lake shipment, $100,752,304.41
" Illinois and Michigan Canal, 7,426,262.35
" Railroads, 68,481,497.90
Total imports in 1855, $196,660,064.66
By lake shipment, $34,817,716.32
" Canal, 79,614,042.70
" Railroads, 98,521,262.86
Total value of exports in 1855, $212,953,021.88
"Aggregate value of imports and exports at Chicago in the year 1855,
[Footnote B: This is more than half of the value of all the exports and
imports of the Union in the year 1860, King Cotton included.]
"These statistics have been obtained by much labor and perseverance,
with a view to the strictest accuracy. The result has amply justified
the labor; for the published statistics of this commerce, which have
gone forth to the country through the newspaper-press of the city, fall
far short of its actual extent. On discovering this fact, I felt it to
be a matter of duty to obtain the information directly from the only
authentic sources, namely, the custom-house, mercantile, and warehouse
"Such are the claims which, in a civil point of view, are presented in
behalf of the preservation of this harbor.
"There is still another, of not less magnitude, which is exclusively
national. It is the influence it would have on the military defence of
this part of our frontier, and the success of our arms in time of war. A
single glance at the general map of the United States will be sufficient
to show the importance of Chicago as a military position in conducting
our operations in defence of our northwestern frontier in time of war.
"The great depth to which Lake Michigan here penetrates into a populous
and fertile country totally devoid of fortifications would constitute an
irresistible inducement to an enemy to aim with all his strength at this
point, should he find it divested of any of the chief means of defence
which are by all nations accorded to maritime ports of chief importance,
He would find Chicago very much in such a state of weakness, if the
harborworks here are allowed to fall into a dilapidated condition; for
then our naval force would not itself be secure in hovering about this
port, or in cruising in its immediate vicinity for purposes of military
defence. There is scarcely a week in the year that a fleet might not
have occasion to take refuge from the lake-gales in a safe harbor.
Deprived of this advantage, the only resort would be to take the open
sea, and there buffet out the storms. On their subsiding, this defensive
fleet, on attempting to resume its proper position, might find it
occupied by an enemy, with all the advantages, in a combat, which ought
to be secured to our side.
"An enemy, once possessing this harbor, could by a powerful fleet cover
the landing of an army in pursuit of the conquest of territory, or
designing to lay heavy pecuniary contributions upon the inhabitants.
Peace is the proper time to prepare against such a catastrophe, and the
protection of the harbor is the first element in the military defence
that should be attended to. With the harbor secured permanently in good
condition, the port of Chicago, through the enterprise of the people
of Illinois and the surrounding States, will possess the elements of
military strength in perhaps a greater degree than any other seaport in
"The immense reticulation of railroads, amounting to an aggregate length
of 2720 miles, which are tributary to this port, now daily brings into
Chicago the vast amount of agricultural produce exhibited in our tables.
These are their peace-offerings to other nations. In the emergency of
war, however, these railroads could in a single day concentrate at
Chicago troops enough for any military campaign, even if designed to
cover our whole northwestern lake-frontier. Besides this, they would be
the means of bringing here, daily, the munitions of war, and, above all,
the necessary articles of subsistence and forage, to sustain an army of
any magnitude, and to keep it in activity throughout any period that
the war might last. In other words, Chicago would be in time of war the
chief _point d'appui_ of military operations in the Northwest."
In regard to the military importance of the command of the Great Lakes,
history ought to teach us a lesson. At the breaking out of the War of
1812, this matter had been entirely neglected by our Government, in
spite of the earnest appeals of the officer in command in this quarter.
The consequence was the utter failure of the campaign against Canada,
and the capture of the principal posts in the Northwest by the British,
who had provided a naval force here, small, indeed, but sufficient where
there was no opponent. It was not until the naval force organized by
Commodore Perry swept the British from Lake Erie that General Harrison
was able to recover the lost territory. From these considerations, the
importance of strong fortifications in the Straits of Mackinac, to
command the entrance of our Mediterranean, would seem to be evident.
The early advocates in Congress of these lake-improvements had to
encounter a very violent opposition from various quarters.
First, the abstractionists of the Virginia school--men who "would cavil
for the ninth part of a hair"--affirmed in general terms, that this
Government was established with the view of regulating our external
affairs, leaving all internal matters to be regulated by the States; and
then, descending to particulars, declared, that, while Congress had the
power to make improvements on salt water, it could do nothing on fresh.
Furthermore, they argued, that, to give the power of spending money, the
water must ebb and flow, and that the improvement must be below a port
of entry, and not above. Another refinement of the Richmond sophists
was this:--If a river be already navigable, Congress has the power to
improve it, because it can "regulate" commerce; but if a sand-bar at
its mouth prevents vessels from passing in or out, Congress cannot
interfere, because that would be "creating," and not "regulating."
Other Southern orators and their Northern followers denounced these
appropriations as a system of plunder and an attack upon Southern
rights, forgetting the fact, that, in these harbor and coast
appropriations, the South, with a much smaller commerce than the North,
had always claimed the larger share of expenditure. Thus, from 1825 to
New England received $ 327,563.21
The Middle States, including
the Lakes, 982,145.20
The South and Southwest 2,233,813.18
Others joined in this opposition, from ignorance of the great commerce
growing up on the lakes; and frequently, where bills have been passed by
Congress, Southern influence has caused the Executive to veto them. In
spite of all these obstacles, however, this great interest forced itself
upon the attention of the country; and in July, 1847, a Convention,
composed of delegates from eighteen States, met in Chicago, to concert
measures for obtaining from Government the necessary improvements for
Western rivers and harbors. This body sent an able memorial to Congress,
and the result has been that larger appropriations have since been made.
Still, however, much remains to be done, and it appears by the last
Report of Colonel Graham, that his estimates for necessary work on lake
harbors and roadsteads amount to nearly three millions of dollars, to
which half a million should be added for the improvement of St. Clair
flats, making an aggregate of three and a half millions of dollars,
which is much needed at this time, for the safe navigation of the lakes.
It may be remarked, in tins connection, that the lakes, with their
tributary streams, are furnished with nearly a hundred light-houses,
four or five of which are revolving, and the remainder fixed
lights,--Lake Ontario having eight, Lake Erie twenty-three, Lake St.
Clair two, Lake Huron nine, Lake Michigan thirty-two, and Lake Superior
When we say that Chicago exports thirty millions of bushels of grain,
and is the largest market in the world, many persons doubtless believe
that these are merely Western figures of speech, and not figures of
arithmetic. Let us, then, compare the exports of those European cities
winch have confessedly the largest corn-trade with those of Chicago.
1854. Bushels of Grain.
Odessa, on the Black Sea, 7,040,000
Galatz and Bruilow, do., 8,320,000
Dantzic, on the Baltic, 4,408,000
Riga, do., 4,000,000
St. Petersburg, Gulf of Finland, 7,200,000
Archangel, on the White Sea, 9,528,000
Chicago, 1860, 30,000,000
or three-quarters of the amount of grain shipped by the seven largest
corn-markets in Europe; and if we add to the shipments from Chicago the
amount from other lake-ports last year, the aggregate will be found to
exceed the shipments of those European cities by ten to twenty millions
of bushels. Will any one doubt that the granary of the world is in the
The internal commerce of the country, as it exists on the lakes,
rivers, canals, and railroads, is not generally appreciated. It goes on
noiselessly, and makes little show in comparison with the foreign trade;
but its superiority may be seen by a few comparisons taken from a speech
of the Hon. J.A. Rockwell, in Congress, in 1846.
In the year 1844, the value of
goods transported on the New
York Canals was..... $92,750,874
The whole exports of the country
in 1844......... 99,716,179
The imports and exports of Cleveland
the same year amounted
to the sum of...... $11,195,703
The whole Mediterranean and
South American trade, in 1844,
amounted to....... 11,202,548
And if, as we have shown, the trade of one of these lake-ports, in 1855,
amounted to over four hundred millions, we may safely claim that the
whole lake-commerce in 1860 exceeds the entire foreign trade of the
A few statistics of the lake-steamboats may not he uninteresting. They
are taken from Mr. Barton's letter, above referred to.
"The 'New York Mercantile Advertiser,' of May--, 1819, contained the
"'The swift steamboat Walk-in-the-Water is intended to make a voyage
early in the summer from Buffalo, on Lake Erie, to Michilimackinac,
on Lake Huron, for the conveyance of company. The trip has so near a
resemblance to the famous Argonautic expedition in the heroic ages of
Greece, that expectation is quite alive on the subject. Many of our most
distinguished citizens are said to have already engaged their passage
for this splendid adventure.'
"Her speed may be judged from the fact that it took her ten days to make
the trip from Buffalo to Detroit and back, and the charge was eighteen
"In 1826 or '27, the majestic waters of Lake Michigan were first
ploughed by steam,--a boat having that year made an excursion with a
pleasure-party to Green Bay. These pleasure-excursions were annually
made by two or three boats, till the year 1832. This year, the
necessities of the Government requiring the transportation of troops and
supplies for the Indian war then existing, steamboats were chartered by
the Government, and made their first appearance at Chicago, then an open
roadstead, in which they were exposed to the full sweep of northerly
storms the whole length of Lake Michigan.
"In 1833, eleven steamboats were employed on the lakes, which carried in
that year 61,485 passengers, and only two trips were made to Chicago.
Time of the round trip, twenty-five days.
"In 1834, eighteen boats were upon the lakes, and three trips were made
to Chicago. The lake-business now increased so much, that in 1839 a
regular line of eight boats was formed to run from Buffalo to Chicago.
"In 1840, the number of steamboats on the lakes was forty-eight.
Cabin-passage from Buffalo to Chicago, twenty dollars."
About 1850 was the height of steamboat-prosperity on the lakes. There
was at that time a line of sixteen first-class steamers from Buffalo to
Chicago, leaving each port twice a day. The boats were elegantly fitted
up, usually carried a band of music, and the table was equal to that
of most American hotels. They usually made the voyage from Buffalo to
Chicago in three or four days, and the charge was about ten dollars.
They went crowded with passengers, four or five hundred not being an
uncommon number, and their profits must have been large. The building of
railroads from East to West, such as the Michigan Central and Southern
lines, and the Lake Shore and Great Western, soon took away the
passenger-business, and the propellers could carry freight at lower
rates than those expensive side-wheel boats could pretend to do. So they
have gradually disappeared from these waters, until at present their
number is very small, compared with what it was ten years ago, while
the number of screw-propellers is increasing yearly, as well as that of
Great as is this lake-commerce now, it is still but in its infancy. The
productive capacities of most of the States which border upon these
waters are only beginning to be developed. If in twenty-five years the
trade has grown to its present proportions, what may be expected from it
in twenty-five years more?
The secession of the Gulf States from the Union, and the closing of the
Mississippi to the products of the Northwest, could we suppose such a
state of things to be possible, would still more clearly show the value
of the lake-route to the ocean.
Run the line of 36 deg. 30' across the continent from sea to sea, and build
a wall upon it, if you will, higher than the old wall of China, and the
Northern Confederacy will contain within itself every element of wealth
and prosperity. Commerce and agriculture, manufactures and mines,
forests and fisheries,--all are there.
THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS YOUNG.
At Munich, last summer, I made the acquaintance of M---y, the famous
painter. I had heard much of him during my stay there, and of his
eccentricities. Just then it was quite the mode to circulate stories
about him, and I listened to so many which were incredible that I was
seized with an irresistible desire to meet him. I took, certainly, a
roundabout way to accomplish this. M---y had a horror of forming new
acquaintances,--so it was said. He fled from letters of introduction
coming in the ordinary way, as from the plague. Neither prince nor
noble could win his intimacy or tempt him out of the pale of his daily
routine. We are most eager in the pursuit of what is forbidden. I became
the more determined to make M---y's acquaintance, the more difficult it
seemed. After revolving the matter carefully, I wrote to America to my
intimate friend R., who I knew had subdued "the savage," as M---y was
sometimes called, and begged him to put me in the way of getting hold
of the strange fellow. In four or five weeks I received an answer.
R. simply inclosed me his own card with the painter's name in pencil
written on it,--advising me to go to the artist's house, deliver the
card in person, and trust the result to fortune. Now I had heard, as
before intimated, all sorts of stories about M---y. He was a bachelor,
at least fifty years old. He lived by himself, as was reported,--in
a superb house in an attractive part of the town. Gossip circulated
various tales about its interior. Sometimes he reigned a Sardanapalus;
at other times, a solitary queen graced but a temporary throne. He was
addicted to various vices. He played high, lost generally large sums,
and was in perpetual fear of the bailiffs. It was even reported that a
royal decree had been issued to exempt so extraordinary a genius from
ordinary arrest. In short, scarcely anything extravagant in the category
of human occurrences was omitted in the daily changing detail of the
scandal-loving society of Magnificent Munich. Only, no one ever imputed
a mean or dishonorable thing to M---y; but for the rest, there was
nothing he did not do or permit to be done. He painted when he liked and
what he liked. His compositions, whether of landscape or history, were
eagerly snatched up at extravagant prices,--for M---y was always
exorbitant in his demands. Besides, when he chose, M---y painted
portraits,--never on application, nor for the aristocracy or the
rich,--but as the mood seized him, of some subject that attracted him
while on his various excursions, or of some of his friends. Yet who
_were_ his friends? Could any one tell? I could not find a person who
claimed to know him intimately. Everybody had something to praise him
for: "But it was such a pity that"--and here would follow one of the
thousand bits of gossip which were floating about and had been floating
for years, I had seen M---y often,--for he was no recluse, and could be
met daily in the streets. His general appearance so fascinated me that
the desire to know the man led me to adopt the course I have just
mentioned. So much by way of explanation.
And now, furnished with the card and the advice contained in my friend
R.'s letter, I proceeded one afternoon to the ---- Strasse, and sought
admittance. A decent-looking servant-woman opened the door, and to my
inquiry replied that Herr M---y was certainly at home, but whether
engaged or not she could not answer. She ushered me into a small
apartment on my right, which seemed intended for a reception-room. I was
about sending some kind of message to the master of the house, for I did
not like to trust the magic card out of my possession, when I heard a
door open and shut at the end of the hall, and the quick, nervous step
of a along the passage. Seeing the servant standing by the door, M---y,
for it was he, walked toward it and presented himself bodily before me.
He wore a cap and dressing-gown, and looked vexed, but not ill-natured,
on seeing me. I was much embarrassed, and, forgetting what I had
proposed to say to him, I put R.'s card into his hand without a word.
His eye lighted up instantly.
"You are from America?--You are welcome!--How is my friend?" were words
rapidly enunciated. "Come with me,--leave your hat there,--so!"--and
we mounted a flight of stairs, passed what I perceived to be a fine
_salon_, then through a charming, domestic-looking apartment into one
still smaller, around the walls of which hung three portraits. Portraits
did I say? I can employ no other name,--but so life-like and so human,
my first impression was that I was entering a room where were three
"Never you mind these," exclaimed M---y, pleasantly, "but sit down
there," pointing to a large _fauteuil_, "and tell me when you reached
Munich, and if you will stay some time: then I can judge better how to
do for you."
My face flushed, for I felt guilty at the little fraud I seemed to have
practised on him. I hesitated only an instant, and then frankly told him
the truth: how it was eighteen months since I left America; how I had
been three months in Munich already; how, hearing so much about him
and observing him frequently in the streets, I became anxious for his
acquaintance, and had written to R. accordingly.
The man has the face of a child: cloud and sunshine pass rapidly over
it. Pleasure and chagrin, sometimes anger, oftener joy, flit across
it, swiftly as the flashing of a meteor. While I was making this
explanation, he looked at me with a searching scrutiny,--at first
angrily, then sadly, as if he were going to cry; but when I finished, he
took my hand in both of his, and said, very seriously,--
"You are welcome just the same."
Soon he commenced laughing: the oddity of the affair was just beginning
to strike him. After conversing awhile, he said,--
"Ah, we shall like each other,--shall we not? Where do you stay? You
shall come and live with me. But will that content you? Have you seen
enough of the outside of Munich?"
I really knew not what to make of so unexpected a demonstration. Should
I accept his invitation, so entirely a stranger as I was? Why not? M---y
was in earnest; he meant what he said; yet I hesitated.
"You need feel no embarrassment," he said, kindly. "I really want you to
come,--unless, indeed, it is not agreeable to you."
"A thousand thanks!" I exclaimed,--"I will come."
"Not a single one," said M---y. "Go and arrange affairs at your hotel,
and make haste back for dinner: it will be served in an hour."
The next day I was domesticated in M---y's house.
I have not the present design to give any account of him. Should the
reader find anything in what is written to interest or attract, it is
possible that in a future number a chapter may be devoted to the great
artist of Munich. Now, however, I remark simply, that the gossip and
strange stories and incidents and other _et ceteras_ told of him proved
to be ridiculous creations, with scarcely a shadow to rest on, having
their inception in M---y's peculiarities,--peculiarities which
originated from an entire and absolute independence of thought and
manner and conduct. A grown-up man in intellect, experience, and
sagacity,--a child in simplicity and feeling, and in the effect produced
by the forms and ceremonies and conventionalities of life: these seemed
always to astonish him, and he never, as he said, could understand why
people should live with masks over their faces, when they would breathe
so much freer and be so much more at their ease by taking them off. This
was the man who invited me to come to his house,--and who would not have
given the invitation, had he not wanted me to accept it.
I have spoken of three paintings which excited my attention the day I
paid my first visit. These were masterpieces,--three portraits, not
life-like, but life itself. They did not attract by the perpetual
stare of the eyes following one, whichever way one turned, as in many
pictures; in these the eyes were not thrown on the spectator. One
portrait was that of a man of at least fifty: an intellectual head;
eyes, I know not what they were,--fierce, defiant, hardly human, but
earthly, devilish; a mouth repulsive to behold, in its eager, absorbing,
selfish expression. Another,--the same person evidently: the same clear
breadth and development of brain, but a subdued and almost heavenly
expression of the eyes, while the mouth was quite a secondary feature,
scarcely disagreeable. The third was the likeness of a young girl,
beautiful, even to perfection. What character, what firmness, what power
to love could be read in those features! What hate, what revulsion, what
undying energy for the true and the right were there! A fair, young
creation,--so fair and so young, it seemed impossible that her destiny
should be an unhappy one: yet her destiny was unhappy. The shadow on the
brow, the melancholy which softened the clear hazel eye, the slightest
possible compression of the mouth, said,--"_Destined to misfortune!_"
Were these actual portraits of living persons, or at least of persons
who had lived? Was there any connection between the man with two faces
and two lives and the maiden with an unhappy destiny? After I became
better acquainted with M---y, I asked him the question, and in reply he
told me the following story, which I now give as nearly as possible in
his own words.
* * * * *
Many years ago, in one of my excursions, I came to Baden-Baden. It was a
favorite resort for me, because I found there so many varieties of the
human countenance, and I liked to study them. One evening I was in the
Conversation-Haus, looking at the players at _rouge-et-noir_. At one end
of the table I saw seated a man apparently past fifty; around him were
three or four young fellows of twenty or twenty-five. It is nothing
unusual to see old men at the gaming-table,--quite the contrary. But
this person's head and forehead gave the lie to his countenance, and
I stopped to regard him. While I was doing so, his eyes met mine.
I suppose my gaze was earnest; for his eyes instantly fell, but,
recovering, he returned my look with a stare so impudently defiant that
I directed my attention at once elsewhere. Ever and anon, however, I
would steal a glance at this person,--for there was something in his
looks which fascinated me. He entered with gusto into the game, won
and lost with a good-natured air, yet so premeditated, so, in fact,
_youthfully-old_, I felt a chill pass over me while I was looking at
him. Later in the evening I encountered him again. It was in the public
room of my own hotel, at supper. He was drinking Rhine-wine with the
same young men who were with him at _rouge-et-noir_. The tone of the
whole company was boisterous, and became more so as each fresh bottle
was emptied. The young fellows were very noisy, but impulsively so. The
man also was turbulent and inclined to be merry in the extreme; but as
I watched his eye, I shuddered, for there enthroned was a permanent
expression indicating _a consciousness in every act which he committed_.
Once again our eyes met, and I turned away and left the apartment.
During my walk half an hour afterwards, I encountered the same party,
still more excited and hilarious, in company with some women, whose
character it was not easy to mistake. As I passed, the Unknown brushed
close by me, and again his glance met my own. He seemed half-maddened
by my curious look, which he could not but perceive, and, as I thought,
made use of some insulting expression. I took no notice of it, but
passed on my way, and saw him no more during my stay in the place.
From Baden I made an excursion into Switzerland. I was stopping at a
pleasant village in the romantic neighborhood of the Bernese Alps. One
afternoon I took a walk of several miles in a new direction. I left the
road and pursued a path used only by pedestrians, which shortened the
distance to another village not far off. A little way from this path was
erected a small chapel, and in a niche stood an image of Christ, well
executed in fine white marble. The work was so superior to the rude
designs we find throughout the country that I stopped to examine it.
I was amply repaid. In place of the painful-looking Christ on the
Cross,--too often a mere caricature,--the image was that of the Youthful
Saviour,--mild, benignant, forgiving. In his left palm, which was not
extended, but held near his person, rested a globe, which he seemed to
regard with a heavenly love and compassion, and the effect on me was so
impressive that the words came impulsively to my lips,--"_I am the light
of the world_."
For several minutes I stood regarding with intense admiration this
beautiful exhibition of the Saviour of Sinners. Presently, I saw the
door of the chapel was open. Should I look in? I did so. What did
I behold? The individual I had seen at Baden,--the gamester, the
bacchanal, the debauchee! Now, how changed! He was kneeling at a
tomb,--the only one in the chapel. The setting sun fell directly on his
features. His fine brow seemed fairer and more intellectual than before.
His eyes were soft and subdued, and destitute of anything which could
partake of an earthly element. Even the mouth, which had so disgusted
me, was no longer disagreeable. Contrition, humility, an earnest,
sincere repentance, were tokens clearly to be read in every line of his
face. I took very quietly some steps backward, so as to quit the spot
unobserved, if possible. In doing so, I stumbled and fell over some
loose stones. The noise startled the stranger, who was, I think, about
to leave the chapel. He came forward just as I was recovering myself. We
stood close together, facing each other. A flush passed over the man's
face. He seized my arm and exclaimed fiercely,--
"What are you doing here?"
Without appearing to recognize him, I hastened to explain that my
presence there was quite accidental, and it was in attempting to retreat
quietly, after discovering I was likely to prove an intruder, that my
falling over some stones had attracted his notice. Thus saying, and
bowing, I was about to proceed homeward, when the stranger suddenly
He came up close to me. Every trace of angry excitement had vanished.
Calm and self-possessed, but very mournfully, he said,--
"Are you willing I should put my arm in yours, and walk back with you
to the inn? I am alone,--and God above knows," he added, after a pause,
"how utterly so."
I could only bow an assent, for this sudden exhibition of weakness was
annoying to me. My new acquaintance took my arm, much in the manner a
child would do, and we walked along together.
"I am staying at the same house with you," he said, as we proceeded.
"Did you know it?"
"No, I did not."
"Yes," he continued,--"I saw you when you dismounted, and I knew you at
once. Don't you recognize me?" he inquired, sadly.
"I do," was all I replied.
"So much the better!" he went on. "I like your countenance,--nay, I love
to look at your face. You are a good man; do you know it? I suppose not:
the good are never conscious, and I should not tell you. Excuse my rude
approach just now: the Devil had for a moment dominion over me. Will you
remain here awhile? Shall we sit and be together? And will you--say,
will you talk with me?"
I promised I would. My feelings, despite his miserable weakness, were
becoming interested, and in this manner we reached the inn. Then I
persuaded this strange person to sit down in my room, where I ordered
something comfortable provided for supper. In fact, I thought it the
best thing I could do for him. Very soon I gained his entire confidence.
After two or three days he exhibited to me a small portrait, exquisitely
painted, of a most lovely young girl, and permitted me to copy it. It is
one of the three which you see on the wall there. The others, I need not
add, are portraits of the man himself in the two moods I have described.
For his history, it teaches its lesson, and I shall tell it to you. He
narrated it to me the evening before he left the inn, where we spent two
weeks or more, and I have neither seen nor heard from him since. Seated
near me, in my room, he gave the following account of himself.
* * * * *
I was born in Frankfort. My parents had several children, all of whom
died in infancy except me. I was the youngest, and I lived through the
periods which had proved so fatal to the rest. The extraordinary care
of my mother, who watched me with a melancholy tenderness, no doubt
contributed to save a life which in boyhood, and indeed to a mature age,
was at the best a precarious one. My parents were respectable people, in
easy circumstances. I grew up selfish and effeminate, in consequence of
being so much indulged. I exhibited early a studious disposition, and it
was decided to give me an accomplished education, with reference to
my occupying, could I attain it at a future day, a chair in some
university. My mother was a very religious woman. From the first, she
had a morbid sense of the responsibility of bringing up a boy. She
believed my way to manhood was beset by innumerable temptations, almost
impossible to escape, difficult to be resisted, and absolutely ruinous
to my soul, if yielded to. She preached to me incessantly. She kept
me from the society of boys of my own age, for fear I should be
contaminated,--and from the approach of any of the other sex, lest my
mind should be diverted from serious matters and led into wantonness
and folly. She would have made a priest of me, had it not been for
my father;--he objected. His brother, for whom I was named, was a
distinguished professor, to whom I bore, as he thought, a close
resemblance, and he desired I should imitate him in my pursuits. I had
good abilities, and was neither inefficient nor wanting in resolution or
industry. At first I longed for natural life and society; but by degrees
habit helped me to endure, and finally to conquer. In fact, I was taught
that I was doing God service in cultivating an ascetic life. My studies
were pursued with success. I rapidly mastered what was placed before
me, and my relations were proud of my progress. At the usual period the
ordinary craving for female society became strong in me. My mother took
great pains to impress on me that here commenced my first struggle with
Satan, and, if I yielded, I should certainly and beyond all peradventure
become a child of the Devil. I was in a degree conscientious. I was
ambitious to attain to a holy life. I believed what my mother had from
my infancy labored so hard to inculcate, and I trod out with an iron
step every fresh rising emotion of my heart, every genuine passion of
my nature. But I suffered much. The imagination could not always be
subdued, and there were periods when. I felt that the "strong man armed"
had possession of me. Nevertheless his time was not come, and at length
the struggle was over. It was not that I had gained a laudable control
of myself; but, having crucified every rebellious thought, there was
nothing left for control. I had marked my victory by extermination.
To live was no joy; neither was it specially the reverse: a long,
monotonous, changeless platitude; yet no desire to quit the terrible
I was forty years old. I had obtained my purpose. I was a learned
professor. As I gained in acquirements and reputation, I became more and
more laborious. My health, which had become quite firm, began to yield
under incessant application. I was advised, indeed commanded, by my
physician to take repose and recreation. I came here among the Alps. I
stopped at this very house. The season was fine, the inns were filled
with tourists, and great glee and hilarity prevailed. It was not without
its effect on me. By slow degrees, with returning health, the pulses
of life beat with what seemed an unnatural excitement. The world, as I
opened my eyes on it from the window of the inn, was for the first time
not without its attractions. I quieted myself with the idea, that, once
back with my books, my thoughts would flow in the regular channel; and I
called to mind something the physician had said about the necessity of
my being amused, and so forth, to quiet my conscience, which began to
reproach me for enjoying the small ray of sunlight which shone in on my
One day, in a little excursion with two or three gentlemen, I was
attracted by the beauty of a spot away from the travelled road. Leaving
my acquaintances resting under some trees to await my return, I strolled
by a narrow path, across the small valley, till I reached the wished-for
place. You know it already. It is where you beheld erected the Christ
and the Tomb. I was looking around with much admiration, when from the
opposite direction came some strolling Savoyards, with a species
of puppet, or _marionnette_, called by these people _Mademoiselle
Catherina._ Without waiting for my assent, the man stopped, and with
the aid of his wife arranged the machine and set _Catherina_ in motion,
accompanying the dance with a song of his own:--
"Ma commere, quand ja danse,
Mon cotillon, va-t-il bien?
Il va d'ici, il va de la,
Ha, ha, ha!
Ma commere, quand je danse," etc.
I stopped and looked, and was amused. The music was rude, but wild, and
carried with it an _abandon_ of feeling. I avow to you, it stole upon
me, penetrating soul and body. How I wished I could, on the spot, throw
off the coil which surrounded me and wander away with these children of
While I stood preoccupied and abstracted, I was roused by a low voice
pronouncing something,--I did not hear what,--and, coming to myself, I
saw standing before me, with her tambourine outstretched, a young girl,
fourteen or fifteen years old. She spoke again,--_"S'il vous plait,
Monsieur."_ Large, lustrous, beaming eyes were turned on me,--not
boldly, not with assurance, neither altogether bashfully,--but honestly
regarding me full in the face, questioning if, after being so attentive
a spectator, I were willing to bestow something. It was strange I had
not noticed this girl before. I had hardly perceived there were three
in the company. Now that I did observe her, I kept looking so earnestly
that I forgot to respond to her request. She was faultless in form and
physical development,--absolutely and unequivocally faultless. Her face,
though browned by constant exposure, was classically beautiful; the foot
and hand very small and delicate. Heavens! how every fibre in my frame
thrilled with an ecstatic emotion, as, for the first time in my life, I
was brought under the influence of female charms! My head swam, my eyes
grew dim,--I staggered. I think I should have fallen, had not the young
girl herself seized my arm and supported me. This brought me to myself.
I bestowed nothing on the strollers, but asked if they were coming to
the village. They answered in the affirmative; and telling them to come
and play at the inn where I was lodging, I hastily quitted the scene.
Do not think I am in the least exaggerating in this narrative. God
knows, what I have to recount is sufficiently extraordinary. I hastened
homeward, my soul in a tumult. On a sudden, the labor of a lifetime was
destroyed, the opinions and convictions of a lifetime stultified and set
at nought. And how?--by what? By a strolling, vagrant Savoyard. Rather
by an exquisite specimen of God's handiwork in flesh and blood! And if
God's handiwork, why might I _not_ be roused and touched and thrilled
and entranced? Something within boldly, in fact audaciously, put that
question to me.
I slept none that night. I was haunted by that form and face. I essayed
to be calm, and to compose myself to slumber. Impossible! For the moment
was swept away my past, with its dreary, lifeless forms, its ghostly
ceremonies, its masked shapes, its soulless, rayless, emotionless
existence. To awake and find life has been one grand error,--to awake
and know that youth and early manhood are gone, and that you have been
cheated of your honest and legitimate enjoyments,--to feel that Pleasure
might have wooed you gracefully when young, and when it would become
you to sacrifice at her shrine,--gods and fiends! I gnashed my teeth in
impotent rage,--I blasphemed,--I was mad!
The morning brought to me composure. While I was dressing, I heard the
music of my Savoyards under the window. I did not trust myself to look
out; but, after breakfasting, I went into the street to search for them.
I was not long unsuccessful, and was immediately recognized with a
profusion of nods and grimaces by the man and a coarse smile by the
woman, who prepared to set _Mademoiselle Catherina_ instantly at work.
The young girl took scarcely any notice of me. I bestowed some money
on the couple, and bade them go to the nearest wine-shop and procure
whatever they desired. They started off, quite willing, I thought, to
leave me alone with the girl. I lost no time. Going close to her, I
"You are not the child of these people?"
"Alas, no, Monsieur!--I have neither father nor mother."
"And no relations?"
"No relations, Monsieur."
"How long have you lived in this way?"
"Almost always, I suppose. But I remember something many years ago--very
strange. I was all the time in one place,--such a beautiful spot, it
makes it hurt here," (putting her hand on her heart) "when I think of
that. Afterwards it was dark a long time. I do not remember any more."
"And do you like to wander about in this way?"
"Oh, no, Monsieur!--no, indeed!"
"Would you be pleased to go to a nice home, and stay, as you say, all
the time in one place, and learn to read and write, and have friends to
love you and take care of you?"
"Yes! oh, yes!"
"Would you be afraid to go with me?"
The young girl regarded me with a look of penetration which was
surprising, and replied calmly, but with some timidity,--
"Then it shall be so," I said.
I bade the child sit down and wait for my return, I took the direction
which the man and his wife had pursued, and found them already busily
engaged in the wine-shop, where they had purchased what for them was a
"You have stolen that girl," I exclaimed, with severity; "and I shall
have the matter investigated before the Syndic."
They were not so frightened as I expected to see them, although a good
"Monsieur mistakes," said the man. "It was we who saved the poor thing's
life, when the father and mother were put to death far away from here
in Hungary, and not a soul to take compassion on her. She was only four
years old; the prison-door was opened and her parents led to execution,
and she left to wander about until she should starve."
I asked if they knew who her parents were. They did not, but were sure
they were people of distinction, condemned for political offences. This
was all I could learn. The child, they said, was in possession of no
relic which betrayed her name or origin. She only wore a small gold
medallion on which was engraved a youthful Christ,--the same in
design as you see erected near the tomb in yonder valley. It has been
It was difficult to induce the couple to part with Eudora,--that was her
name. She was now useful to them, and her marvellous beauty began to
attract and brought additional coin to their collections, after the
performances of the _marionnette_. But I was resolved. I offered to the
strollers so large a sum in gold that they could not resist. It was
arranged on the spot. With very little ceremony they said "Good-bye" to
Eudora, and, taking the path over the mountain, in a few minutes were
out of sight.
What a new, what a strange attitude for me! Could I believe in my own
existence? There I stood, a grave professor of the University of ----,
educated and trained in the discipline I have already explained to you.
There stood Eudora, just as perfect in form and feature as imagination
of poet ever pictured.
My plan was formed on the spot, instantly. It was praiseworthy; but I
deserved no praise for it. A deep, engrossing selfishness, pervading
alike sense and spirit, actuated me. I had already brought under control
the fever of the previous day. I could reason calmly; but my conclusions
had reference only to my own gratification and my own happiness. I
regarded Eudora as mine,--my property,--literally belonging to me. I was
forty,--she not fifteen. Yet what was I to do with her? Recommend her
to the care of my mother, who was still alive? Certainly not; she would
then be lost to me. I had a cousin, a lady of high respectability, well
married, who resided in the same town in which I lived. She had no child
of her own; she had often spoken of adopting one. I frequently visited
her house; and when there, she never ceased to criticize me for leading
such an ascetic life. Here was an excellent opportunity for my new
charge. My cousin would be delighted to have the guardianship of such a
lovely creature. She would be as devoted to her as to an own child. She
would sympathize in my plans, and would be careful to train Eudora _for
Such was the programme. It flashed on me and was definitely settled
before I had time to bid her follow me to the inn. She came
unhesitatingly, and as if she had confidence in my kind intentions. I
did not converse much with her, but, making hasty preparations, we left
the place and proceeded rapidly homeward.
I was not disappointed. My cousin entered readily into my plans. She was
a really good person, seeing all things which she undertook through
the complacent medium of duty. This was, she thought, such a fortunate
incident! It gave her what she had long desired, and it would serve to
distract me from the wretched life I had always led. Thereupon Eudora
was installed in her new home, where she found father and mother in my
cousin and her husband, where her education was commenced and got on
fast. She had a quick intellect, instinctively seizing what was most
important and rapidly forming conclusions. How, day by day, I witnessed
the development of her mind! How I watched every new play of the
emotions! How I saw with a beating heart, as she advanced toward
womanhood, fresh charms displayed and additional beauty manifested! I
shall not tire you with a prolonged narrative of how I enjoyed, month
after month, for more than two years, the society of Eudora,
during which time she made satisfactory advances in education and
accomplishment and attained in grace and loveliness the absolute
perfection of womanhood.
And what, during this period, were my relations with Eudora?--what were
her feelings toward me? I approach the subject with pain. I look back
now on those feelings and on my conduct with an abhorrence and disgust
which I cannot describe. From the first she trusted to me with implicit
confidence. Discriminating in an extraordinary degree, her gratitude
prevented her perceiving my real character. She gave me credit for
absolute, unqualified, disinterested benevolence in rescuing her from
the wretched and precarious condition of a vagrant. Thus she set about
in her own mind to adorn me with every virtue. I was magnanimous, noble,
unselfish, truthful, brave, the soul of honor, incapable of anything
mean or petty. How often has she told me this, holding my hand in hers,
looking full in my face, her own beaming with honest enthusiasm! How my
soul literally shrank within me! How like a guilty wretch I felt to
hear these words! How I wished I could be all Eudora pictured me! How
I essayed to act the part! How careful I was lest ever my real nature
should disclose itself! Even when, despite my efforts, something did
transpire to excite an instant's question, she put it aside at once by
giving an interpretation to it worthy of me. Now, what was I to do?
Eudora had reached a marriageable age. She had seen but little of
society, though by no means living a recluse. My cousin had watched
carefully over her, and was to her, indeed, all a mother could be. I had
remained perfectly tranquil, secure, as I supposed, in her affections. I
thought I had but to wait till the proper period should arrive and then
take her to myself.
My cousin, as I have intimated, understood my views. It was therefore
with no sort of perturbation, that, one day, I heard her ask me to
step into her little sitting-room in order to converse about Eudora.
I supposed she was going to tell me that it was time we were
married,--indeed, I thought so myself. I was therefore very much
astonished when she commenced by saying that I ought now to begin to
treat Eudora as a young lady, especially if I expected ever to win her
hand. I turned deadly pale, and asked her what she meant.
"I mean," she replied, "that you ought to act toward Eudora as men
generally act who wish to win a fair lady. Do not deceive yourself with
the idea that she loves you. She would tell you she did in a moment, if
you asked her,--and wonder, besides, why you thought it necessary to put
the question. But she knows nothing about it. The thought of becoming
your wife never enters her head, and you would frighten her, if you
spoke to her on such a subject. No, my cousin; it is time you behaved
as other men behave. Eudora is grateful to you beyond expression. She
believes you to be perfect; and you seem content to sit and let her tell
you so, when you ought to be a manly wooer."
I will not detail the remarks of my cousin. She talked with me at least
two hours. I was perfectly confounded by what she said. I began to hate
her for the ridiculous advice she gave me. I put it down to a curious,
meddlesome nature. I grew vexed, too, with Eudora, because my cousin
said she did not love me. I did not reflect that I had done nothing
to excite love. I had drawn perpetually on a heart overflowing and
grateful,--selfish caitiff that I was! This, however, I did not then
understand,--so completely were my eyes blinded!
I left my cousin in a petulant spirit, and sought Eudora. She saw I
was troubled, and asked me the cause. I told her. A shadow, a dark,
portentous shadow, suddenly clouded her face;--as suddenly it passed
away, giving place to a look of sharp, painful agony, which was
succeeded by a return of something like her natural expression. Then she
scrutinized my face calmly, critically. All this did not occupy half a
minute. Ere one could say it had been, Eudora was apparently the same as
ever. God alone knows all which in that half-minute rose in that young
girl's heart. She took my hand; she reproached me for my apparent
distrust of her; she said she was mine to love and to honor me forever.
She would go at once to her mother--so she called my cousin--and tell
her so. Thus saying, she left me. And I--I did not then understand
the struggle and the victory of the poor girl over herself. I did not
reflect that no maidenly blush, no charming confusion, announced my
happy destiny,--no kiss, no caress, no sign that the heart's citadel had
surrendered; but, instead, a calmness, a composure, and a hastening from
my presence. No, I thought nothing of this; I only considered that now
the time was at hand when Eudora would be mine!
_I married her._ It was but three weeks after this conversation. I was
in haste, and Eudora herself seemed desirous that the day should be an
early one. My cousin was amazed. I enjoyed her discomfiture; for she did
not relish the thought that I should thus set at nought her advice and
overturn her theory. She shook her head,--she attempted a protest,--and
then began zealously the preparations for the wedding.
I wish I could give you some clear idea of the wife I had gained,
some slight notion of the happiness and delight and bliss in which I
revelled,--that is, if a man purely and unutterably selfish has a right
to call that happiness--which he enjoys. Eudora lived only for me. She
rose, she sat, she came, she went only to pleasure me. She had
one thought, one idea: it was for me. And what was my return?
Nothing,--absolutely and literally nothing. I accepted every service,
every sweet, loving token, every delicate act of devotion, as something
to which I was entitled,--as my right. Forty-four years old, a life with
one idea, a narrow, selfish, overbearing nature, ministered to by such a
creature, noble, lovely, true, with eighteen years of life!
Three years thus passed,--three years which ate slowly into Eudora's
heart,--teaching her she _had_ a heart, and bringing forth such fruit as
such experiences would produce. Yet she had not lost faith in me. She
might have felt that perfection did not belong to man, and therefore I
was not perfect; but she cheated herself as to all the rest. If she were
not perfectly happy with a husband who took no pains to sympathize with
her, who repressed instead of encouraging the natural vivacity of her
nature, who never went abroad with her to places where every one was
accustomed to go, still she did not lay the cause at my door.
I had another cousin: this cousin was a man, twenty-four years old when
he first came, by a mere chance, to the town where we lived. He was,
like you, a painter,--not one of those poor romantic vagabonds who
multiply pictures of themselves in every new composition, and who
starve on their own sighs. This man was in the enjoyment of a handsome
competence, and made painting his profession because he loved the art.
My cousin who resided in the place knew this man-cousin of mine. He paid
her a visit; and while he was in her house, my wife happened to go in.
Thus the acquaintance began. The next day he came to see me. I received
him cordially, and invited him to visit us often. At length he became
perfectly at home in our house. I was pleased with this,--for I began
to feel that Eudora drew heavily on my time, insisting too much on my
society; and I was only glad to escape by leaving her to the society of
my relative,--blind fool that I was! But I must do him justice. He was a
noble specimen of a fresh-hearted young man,--loyal and honorable. Yet
how could he escape the fascination of Eudora's presence?--how tear
himself away from it, when he had no thought that it was dangerous? At
my request, my wife sat to him for a small portrait: this is it which I
have permitted you to copy. By-and-by, and really to keep Eudora from
engrossing too much of my time, I allowed her to go out with our
artist-cousin; and in company they examined paintings, and viewed
scenery, and talked, and walked, and sometimes read together.
One evening, while seated in my library, deeply abstracted, the door
opened and Eudora entered. I looked up, saw who it was, and relapsed
"My husband," exclaimed she, in a soft, sweet tone, "put down your book;
sit upon this sofa; I want to speak with you."
I rose, a little petulantly, and did as she desired. She threw her arms
around my neck, and kissed me tenderly.
"I have something to ask of you," she said,--"something to request."
"What is it?" I exclaimed,--almost sharply.
"It is that you would not invite Alphonse to come here any more,--that
you would never speak of my going out with him again, but encourage his
leaving here,--and that you would give me more of your society."
"Pray, what does all this mean, Eudora?" I demanded. "Alphonse and you
have been quarrelling, I suppose."
"No, my husband."
"Then, what do you mean by such nonsense?" I asked, in an irritated
"I scarcely have courage to tell you," she cried,--"for I fear it will
make us both forever miserable."
Thoroughly aroused by this astounding avowal, I repeated, in a stern
tone and without one touch of sympathy, my demand for an explanation.
She knelt lovingly at my feet,--not in a posture submissive or
humiliating, but as if thus she could get nearer my heart,--and began,
"Sometimes, my husband, I have thought my feelings for you were such as
I ought to entertain for my father or an elder brother. I venerate and
admire your character; I would die for you,--oh, how willingly!--but
sometimes I fear it is not _love_ I feel for you."
She paused, and looked at me earnestly.
"How long have you felt as you now do?" I asked, with an icy calmness.
"I do not know. I cannot tell. But I have not thought of it seriously
till Alphonse came here,--and I want you to send him away."
"And do you love Alphonse?" I asked, slowly.
"Oh, God! I do not know. I cannot tell what is the matter with me.
Perhaps it is mere infatuation. Alas! I cannot tell."
"And why do you come with this to me?" I said sneeringly, devil that I
"Because you are my husband,--because you are wise and strong and good,
and the only one who can advise me,--because I am in danger, and you can
save me," she cried, looking imploringly on my frigid features.
"And for that purpose you come to _me?_"
"I do, I do!" she exclaimed. At the same time she threw her arms around
me passionately, buried her face in my bosom, and wept.
There was a struggle within me,--not violent nor desperate, but calm and
cold,--while the face of that fair young creature was pressed close to
my heart by her own arms thrown clingingly around me. I did not move
the while; I did not respond to her sad embrace even by the slightest
pressure of my hand. Yet I was all the time conscious that a pure and
noble being was supplicating me for help,--a being who had devoted her
life to me,--whose soul was stainless, while mine was spotted with the
leprosy of a selfish nature. Like one under the influence of nightmare,
who knows he does but dream and makes an effort fruitless as imaginary
to lift himself out of it, I did try to follow what my heart said I
should do,--fold my dear wife in my arms, and reassure her in all
things. But I did no such thing. The other spirit--I should say seven
others more hateful and detestable than any which had before possession
of me--conquered. I raised Eudora from her kneeling posture. I placed
her on the sofa beside me. I began to hate her,--to hate her for her
goodness, her gentleness, her truthfulness, her fidelity,--to hate her
because she dared make such an avowal, and because it was true. What
right had she to permit her feelings to be influenced by another,--she,
my lawfully wedded wife? I would not admit the truth to myself that _I_
was the sole, miserable, detestable cause. Oh, no!
"Eudora," I said at length, "I have never seen you manifest so much
nervous excitement. Do you not see how ridiculous is your request? You
want me to bring ridicule, not to say disgrace, on myself, by suddenly
forbidding Alphonse my house. What will he suppose, what will the world
think, except that there has been some extraordinary cause for such a
procedure? And all out of a silly, romantic, imaginary notion which has
got into your head. Now, listen: if you would do your duty and honor me,
let Alphonse come and go as usual; let him perceive no difference in
your manner or in your treatment of him: in this way only I shall escape
mortification and chagrin."
She rose as I finished,--slowly rose,--with a countenance disheartened
and despairing. She uttered no word, and turned slowly to leave the
room. She had reached the door, when, not content with the merciless
outrage on her heart already inflicted, under the instigation of the
demon working within me, I prepared another stab.
"Eudora," I said, "one word more."
She came immediately back, doubtless with a slight hope that I would
show some sympathy for her.
"Eudora," I continued, rising and laying my hand on her shoulder, _"have
you permitted any improper familiarities from Alphonse?"_
Quick as lightning was my hand struck from its resting-place; swift as
thought her face changed to an expression so terrible that instinctively
I stepped back to avoid her. It was but an instant. Then came a last
awful look of _recognition_, whereby I knew I was found out, my soul was
stripped of all hypocritical coverings, and she saw and understood me.
What a scene! To discover in the one she had revered and worshipped so
long her moral assassin! To stand face to face and have the dreadful
truth suddenly revealed! The darkness of despair gathered around her
brow; an agony, like that which finds no comforter, was stamped on her
face; and with these a hate, a horror, a contempt, mingled triumphantly.
The door opened,--it was closed,--and my wife was lost to me forever. I
essayed to call her back. "Eudora" came faintly to my lips. It was too
late. Then a contemptible, jealous hatred took possession of me. Ere I
left my apartment, I said, "She shall pay dear for this! she shall soon
come submissive to my feet! she cannot live away from me; and before I
forgive, she must be humiliated!" How little did I know her!
From that period Eudora simply treated me with the courtesy of a lady.
She never looked in my face,--her eyes never met mine. On my part, to
carry out a plan I had adopted, I encouraged more and more the visits
of Alphonse. He had expected to leave that week; but I persuaded him to
remain another month, and pressed him to stay at my house. I told him
that this would be agreeable to my wife, who could have his society when
I was not able to be with her, and I should insist on his accepting my
invitation. This was after I saw how rebellious, as I termed it, Eudora
was becoming; and I was determined to torture her all I could.
Alphonse was now an inmate of our house, which greatly increased
the opportunities for his being with Eudora. She appeared to enjoy
intercourse with him just as usual; I think, in fact, she did enjoy
it more than usual; and it made me hate her to see that she was not
repentant and miserable. Three weeks passed in this way;--I becoming
more hateful and severe by every petty, petulant, despicable device of
which my nature was capable; she continuing with little change of manner
or conduct; and Alphonse unconsciously growing more devoted.
It was a cold, stormy afternoon: the rain had increased since morning.
Eudora had gone out immediately after breakfast. She did not come back
to dinner, and Alphonse, who had remained in all day, said she spoke of
going to my cousin's. I took it for granted the storm detained her; but
when it was evening and she did not appear, I began to be disturbed
and asked Alphonse to go for her. In a short time he returned with the
information that Eudora had not been at my cousin's that day. I was
alarmed; I could see the shadow of my Nemesis close by me. It had fallen
suddenly, and with no warning. For a moment I suspected Alphonse; but
the distress he manifested was too genuine to be counterfeited, and I
dismissed the thought. In the midst of this confusion and dismay,--now
late in the evening,--a letter was put into my hands, just left by a
messenger at my door. The address was in my wife's hand. I tore open the
envelope, and read,--
"Man! I can endure no longer."
This was the end of the chapter beginning with my introduction to the
strolling Savoyards, the dance of the _marionnette_, the transfer of
Eudora! I attempted no search for her; too well I knew it would be
useless; indeed, I felt a strange sense of freedom. My professor's life
disgusted me: I threw it off. I resigned my chair, and sold my house, my
furniture, my books,--everything. My nature clamored for indulgence, my
senses for enjoyment. I quitted the place. I threw off all restraint.
Literally I let myself loose on the world. I sought the company of the
young. I drank, I gamed, I was as debauched as the worst. But although
_with_ them, I was not _of_ them. _They_--only from the effervescence
of strong animal spirits did they do into excesses. What they did was
without reflection, impulsive, unpremeditated. _Me_ a calm consciousness
pervaded always. Go where I would, do what I would, amidst every
criminal indulgence, every noisy debauch or riotous dissipation, it
always rode the storm and was present in the fury of the tempest;--that
fearful, awful conscious _Egomet_! How I wished I could commit one
After three years, I was passing with a gay company through the Swiss
town of ----. In that place is the convent of the Sisterhood of Our
Mother of Pity. The night I stayed there, one of the number died. I
heard of it in the morning, as we were preparing to leave. From what was
said in connection with the circumstance, I knew it was Eudora. I left
my companions to go on by themselves. I made my way to the convent and
begged permission to look on the dead face of my wife. It was granted.
She was already arrayed for the grave. I came and threw myself on the
lifeless form, and cried as children dry. The fountains of my heart gave
way, the sympathies of my nature were upheaved, and for two hours I wept
on unrestrained. Even consciousness fled for once and left me to the
luxury of grief. At length the worthy people came to me and took me
from the room. I asked many questions, to which they could give me but
unsatisfactory replies. They knew little of Eudora's history. She had
come directly from my house to this place, and had been remarkable for
her acts of untiring benevolence in ministering to the sick and the
destitute. She lost her life from too great exposure in watching at
the bedside of a miserable woman whom all the world seemed to have
abandoned, and who died of some malignant fever. I will not attempt to
describe what I passed through. I became sincerely repentant. I saw my
character in its true light. I prayed that my sins might be forgiven.
The place where Eudora died was not far from the spot where we first
met. I begged the good priest who acted as her confessor to consecrate
a little chapel which I should build there, and permit me to place my
wife's remains in it. He consented. I caused the image of the Christ
which she always wore to be carefully copied in marble and placed before
the chapel, and I spent several weeks there, deploring my sins and
seeking for light from above.
It was not to be that I should thus easily settle the error of a
lifetime. After a while I felt the desperate gnawing of the senses
inexpressible and irresistible. Satan had come again, and I was called
for. And I went! There was no escape,--there _is_ no escape! Once more
I plunged into riotous folly and excess, giving full license to my
unbridled appetites,--but conscious always. When the fever subsided,
I was once more repentant and sorrowful, and I came here,--only to be
carried off again to renew the same wretched scenes. I know not how long
this will last. I know not if Heaven or Hell will triumph. Yet, strange
as you may think it, I believe I am not so bad a man as when I was a
professor in ----, slowly destroying my lovely wife. From each paroxysm
I fancy I escape somewhat stronger, somewhat more manly than before. I
think, too, my periods of excess are shorter, and of repentance longer;
and I sometimes entertain a hope that folly and madness will in me, as
in the young, become exhausted, and that beyond still lies the goal of
peace and wisdom.
Such as it is, strange as it may seem, you have from me a truthful
history. Would that the world might hear it and be wiser! Mark me! Let
not those who undertake to train the young attempt to destroy what
Nature has implanted. Let them direct and modify, but not extinguish.
The impulsive freedom of youth is generally the result of an exuberant
and overflowing spirit, and should be treated accordingly,--else, later
in life, it may burst forth fierce and unconquerable, or, what is worse,
be indulged in secret and make of us hypocrites and dissemblers.
WOE TO THE MAN WHO HAS HAD NO YOUTH!
* * * * *
THE MEN OF SCHWYZ.
As you go from Lucerne in a decorous little steamboat down the pleasant
Vierwaldstaettersee, or Lake of the Four Forest Cantons, with the sloping
hills on either side, and the green meadow-patches and occasional house
among the trees, you come to a sudden turn where the scenery changes
swiftly, and pass between steep and shaggy rocks rising perpendicularly
out of the blue water, which seems to get bluer there, into the frowning
Bay of Uri, guarded, as if it were the last home of freedom, by great
granite hills, lying like sleepy giants with outstretched arms, while
the heavy clouds rest black and broken on their summits, and the white
vapors float below. Just where the lake makes this turn is the hamlet of
Brunnen, which you will not hurry by, if you are wise, but tarry with
the kind little hostess of the Golden Eagle by the pleasant shore, and
learn, if you will, as nowhere else, what the spirit of the Swiss was in
the ancient time, as in this.
As you walk across the little valley which stretches down from the hills
to the lake where Brunnen is, you remember that it is the town of Schwyz
you come to, where dwelt once the hardy, valorous little colony
which gave its name to Switzerland,--famous in the annals of this
stout-hearted mountain-land for the "peculiar fire" with which they have
always fought for their ancient freedom,--worthy to leave their name, in
lasting token of the service they did to their fellows and to mankind.
Schwyz lies at the foot of the Hacken Mountain, which rises with double
peaks known as the Mythen, (Murray and the tourists, with dubious
etymological right, translate _Mitres_,)--with the dark forests above it
on the slopes, and the green openings sparkling in the sunlight,
where men and their herds of cattle breathe a purer air. Behind these
everlasting walls the spirit of freedom has found a resting-place
through the turbulent centuries, during which, on rough Northern soil,
the new civilization was taking root, hereafter to overshadow the earth.
Touching the origin of these men of Schwyz, there is a tradition, handed
down from father to son, which runs in this wise.
"Toward the North; in the land of the Swedes and Frisians, there was
an ancient kingdom, and hunger came upon the people, and they gathered
together, and it was resolved that every tenth man should depart. And
so they went forth from among their friends, in three bands under three
leaders, six thousand fighting men, great like unto giants, with their
wives and children and all their worldly goods. And they swore never
to desert one another, and smote with victorious arm Graf Peter of the
Franks, who would obstruct their progress. They besought of God a land
like that of their ancestors, where they might pasture their cattle in
peace; and God led them into the country of Brochenburg, and they built
there Schwyz; and the people increased, and there was no more room for
them in the valley. Some went forth, therefore, into the country round
about, even as far as the Weissland; and it is still in the memory of
old men how the people went from mountain to mountain, from valley to
valley, to Frutigen, Obersibenthal, Sanen, Afflentsch, and Jaun;--and
beyond Jaun dwell other races."
The time and circumstance of this wandering are unknown, and we may
make what we will of it; but to the men of Schwyz the tradition is an
affirmation of their original primal independence. And of old time,
also, the Emperors have admitted that these people of their own free
will sought and obtained the protection of the Empire,--a privilege by
no means extended to all the dwellers of the Waldstaette, (or Forest
Cantons,) but confined to the men of Schwyz.
As the Emperors were often absent, engaged in great wars, and the times
were very troublous, and there was need of some commanding character
among them, for the administration of the criminal law touching the
shedding of blood, they often made the Count of Lenzburg Bailiff. But no
matter of any moment could be acted upon without the sense of the people
being taken, of the serf as well as the freeman: for these two classes
existed not less among these primitive people than elsewhere, in the
feudal times; and this community of counsel of freeman and serf is
related to have worked harmoniously, "for equality existed of itself, by
nature, there." They chose a _Landammann_, or chief magistrate,--a man
free by birth, of an honorable name and some substance; and for judges
also they were careful to select men of substance, "for he careth most
for freedom and order who hath most to lose"; and for the greater peace
of the land there was a Street-Council, consisting of seven reputable
men, who went through the streets administering justice in small causes
here and there, as in the East the judges sat at the city-gate or at the
door of the palace.
As the people increased, the valleys of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden
were separated and grew to be independent in their own domestic matters,
while united with respect to external affairs, as in the league made in
1251 between Zurich, Schwyz, and Uri;--they were like the Five Nations
of Canada, says the historian, but more human through Christianity.
Their religious belief was simple and fervent; the Goths, as Arians, had
rejected the supremacy of the Pope; and now there came secretly teachers
from the East, through Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Hungary, even into Rhaetia,
and thence to these fastnesses of the Alps. The mind of men, thus left
free, developed itself according to the different character of the
races. The people of Schwyz were strengthened in their adherence to the
authentic Word of God, as it was with the Apostles, without the use of
pictures or the bones of saints; this Word they learned by heart, and
made little of the additions of men; hence they got to be heretics, and
were called Manicheans; but Catholicism conquered them at last.
Thus simple and unknown lived this ancient people,--destined to restore
in the end the Confederacy of Helvetia, lost since the days of Caesar's
victory, thirteen hundred years before,--till Gerhard, Abbot of
Einsiedeln, complained of them to the Emperor Henry V. for pasturing
their cattle upon the slopes which belonged to the convent: for,
forgetful of the people who dwelt in these parts, whose existence,
indeed, was concealed from him by the monks, the Emperor Henry II., in
1018, had bestowed upon the convent the neighboring _desert_; and the
Abbot, of course, did not fail to make the most of the gift. Thus there
occurred a collision. The Abbot pursued these poor peasants with the
spiritual power, which was not light in those days, and summoned them
before the Diet of Nobles of Swabia; but they rejected that tribunal,
for they acknowledged only the authority of the Emperor. Whereupon the
Abbot laid his complaint before Henry V. at Basel, where Graf Rudolph of
Lenzburg, Bailiff of Schwyz, spoke for them. A simple people, innocent
of human learning, they could urge against the patent of the Emperor
only the tradition of their fathers, and judgment went against them
touching the matter, and no question was made in it as to the validity
of the Emperor's patent. It was an unexpected blow to the Schwyzers.
Tradition among people living solitary grows into a religious right,
which they fight for readily. For eleven years their turbulence went
unpunished; for Henry V. had other matters on his hands, and his two
successors conferred other privileges upon the convent. Thirty years
afterwards, however, in 1142 or thereabouts, at the solicitation of the
monks, obedience was commanded by the Emperor Conrad III., then on the
point of departing with his Crusaders to Palestine. But the people
answered,--"If the Emperor, to our injury, contemning the traditions of
our fathers, will give our land to unrighteous priests, the protection
of the Empire is worthless to us." Thereupon the Emperor waxed wroth;
the ban was laid upon them by Hermann, Bishop of Constance; but they
withdrew, nevertheless, from the protection of the Empire, and Uri and
Unterwalden with them,--fearing neither the Emperor nor the ban, for
they could not conceive how it was a sin to maintain the right, and so
they pastured their cattle without fear.
When Friedrich I. came to the throne and wanted soldiers, he sent Graf
Ulrich of Lenzburg, Bailiff of the Waldstaette, into the valleys to speak
to the men of Schwyz. "The heart of the people is in the hands of noble
heroes," says the historian;--gladly did the youths, six hundred strong,
seize their arms and go forth under Graf Ulrich, whom they loved, to
fight for the Emperor his friend, beyond the mountains, in Italy. And
now it came the Emperor's turn for the ban; the whole Imperial House of
Hohenstaufen fell into spiritual disgrace; Friedrich II. was cursed at
Lyons as a blasphemer; but these things did not turn away the hearts of
the men of Schwyz from his House.
Long after the time of this Ulrich, the last reigning Graf of Lenzburg,
shortly after the Swiss Union had been renewed, at the instance of
Walther of Attinghausen, in 1206, Unterwalden chose Rudolph, Count of
Hapsburg, for Bailiff. He endeavored to extend his authority over the
other two Cantons, in which he was aided by the Emperor Otho IV., of the
House of Brunswick, who had been raised to the throne in opposition to
the House of Swabia, and who, for the purpose of conciliating him, made
him Imperial Bailiff of the Waldstaette. An active, vigorous man this
Rudolph, grandfather of the Rudolph who was afterwards called to be King
of the Germans, whom the Swiss, scattered in their hamlets, were little
prepared to make head against, and therefore recognized him with what
grace they might, after an assurance that their freedom and rights
should be maintained; and he smoothed for them their old controversy
with the monks of Einsiedeln, and got a comfortable division of the
property made in 1217. But he was hateful to them, nevertheless; and
although we know nothing of the way in which he administered his office,
we conjecture that it was partly because the Emperor who appointed him
was not of the House of Hohenstaufen, to which they were attached, and
partly because he claimed that the office of Bailiff was hereditary in
his family, whereas the men of Schwyz preferred to offer it of their own
free will to whom they would. They made it a condition of assistance to
the Emperor Friedrich in 1231, when he went down into Italy to fight the
Guelphs, that he should deprive this Rudolph of the office of Imperial
Bailiff; and then they went forth, six hundred strong, and did famous
work against the Guelphs, with such fire in them that the Emperor not
only knighted Struthan von Winkelried of Unterwalden, but gave that
valley a patent of freedom, according to which the Schwyzers voluntarily
chose the protection of the Empire.
And now Rudolph, Count of Hapsburg, founder of the Austrian monarchy,
strides into the history of the men of Schwyz. A tall, slender man this
Rudolph, bald and pale; with much seriousness in his features, but
winning confidence the moment one spoke with him by his friendliness,
loving simplicity; a restless, stirring man, with more wisdom in him
than his companions had, equal or superior to him in birth or power,
working his way by device when he could, by the strong arm when that was
needed. He took the part of the peasants against the nobles, and used
the one to put down the other. In the midst of the turmoils in which he
got involved with Sanct Gallen and Basel, and while encamped before the
walls of the latter city, he was wakened in his tent at midnight by
Friedrich of Hohenzollern, Burgrave of Nuernberg; for there had come from
Frankfort on the Main Heinrich von Pappenheim, Hereditary Marshal of
the Empire, with the news, that, "in the name of the Electors, with
unanimous consent, in consideration of his great virtue and wisdom,
Lewis Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria had named Count
Rudolph of Hapsburg King of the Roman Empire of the Germans": at which
Rudolph was more astonished than those who knew him, it is recorded. Not
because of his genealogy, nor his marriage with Gertrude Anne, daughter
of Burcard, Count of Hohenburg and Hagenlock, did he win this great
fortune, but, as the Elector Engelbrecht of Cologne said, "because he
was just and wise and loved of God and men." And now the world learned
what was in him; and how for eighteen years he kept the throne, which
no king for three-and-twenty years before him had been able to hold,
history will relate to the curious.
Switzerland was divided at this period into small sovereignties and
baronial fiefs; and there were, besides, also the Imperial cities of
Bern and Basel and Zuerich. The nobles were warlike and restless. Rudolph
checked their depredations and composed their dissensions. Upon that
seething age of violence and rapine he laid, as it were, the forming
hand, as if in the darkness the coming time was dimly visible to him;--a
man to be remembered, in the vexed and disheartening history of Austria,
as one of her few heroes. The people of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden,
notwithstanding the dislike they had shown to his ancestor, voluntarily
appointed him their protector; and he gave them, in 1274, the firm
assurance that he would treat them as worthy sons of the Empire in
inalienable independence; and to that assurance he remained true till
his death, which happened in 1291, in the seventy-fourth year of his
It is related in the Rhymed Chronicle of Ottocar, how he had been kept
alive for a whole year by the skill of his physicians, but that they
told him at last, as he sat playing at draughts, that death was upon
him, and that he could live but five days. "Well, then," he said, "on
to Spires!" that he might lay him in the Imperial vault in the great
Cathedral there,--where many Emperors slept their long sleep, till, in
the Orleans Succession War in the time of Louis XIV., as afterwards in
1794, under the revolutionary commander Custine, French soldiers rudely
disturbed it, with every circumstance of outrage which Frenchmen only
could devise. Rudolph went forth thither, but fell by the way, and died
at Germersheim, a dirty little village which he had founded. And in the
Cathedral at Spires, where he rested from his activities, you may see
this day a monumental statue of him, executed by that great artist, the
late Ludwig Schwanthaler of Munich, for his art-loving patron, Ludwig
I., King of Bavaria.
Rudolph was succeeded by his son Albrecht, then forty-three years old,
likewise a vigorous man, whose restless spirit of aggrandizement gave
the Swiss much uneasiness. His purpose seems to have been to acquire the
sovereignty of the ecclesiastical and baronial fiefs, and, having thus
encompassed the free cities and the Three Cantons, to compel submission
to his authority. In the seventh week after Rudolph's death, they
met together to renew the ancient bond with the people of Uri and
Unterwalden; and they swore, in or out of their valleys, to stand by one
another, if harm should be done to any of them. "In this we are as one
man," ran their oath, among other things, "in that we will receive no
judge who is not a countryman and an inhabitant, or who has bought his
After several years of troubles and frights among them, the Emperor sent
to the Forest Cantons to say, that it would be well for them and their
posterity, if they submitted to the protection of the Royal House, as
all neighboring cities and counties had done; he wished them to be his
dear children; he was the descendant of their Bailiff of Lenzburg, son
of their Emperor Rudolph; if he offered them the protection of his
glorious line, it was not that he lusted after their flocks or would
make merchandise of their poverty, but because he knew from his father
and from history what brave men they were, whom he would lead to victory
and knighthood and plunder.
Then spake the nobles and the freemen of the Forest Cantons: "They know
very well, and will ever remember, how his father of blessed memory was
a good leader and Bailiff to them; but they love the condition of their
ancestors, and will abide by it. If the King would but confirm it!"
And thereupon they sent Werner, Baron of Attinghausen, Landammann of
Uri, like his fathers before him and his posterity after him, to the
Imperial Court. But the King was quarrelling with his Electors, and was
in bad humor, and sent to Uri to forbid them from assessing land-rates
on a convent there. Whereupon the men of Schwyz, being without
protection, made a league for ten years with Werner, Count of Honburg;
and that their submission to the Austrian power might not be construed
into a duty, they sent to the King for an Imperial Bailiff. Albrecht
appointed Hermann Gessler of Brunek, and Beringer of Landenberg, whose
cousin Hermann was in much favor with him. Beringer's manners were rough
even at the Court; and to get rid of him, they sent him to tame the
Waldstaette. He appointed Bailiffs whose poverty and avarice were the
cause of much oppression, emboldened as they were by the ill-feeling of
the King towards the men of Schwyz, whose freedom the King had refused
to confirm, and waited only for opportunity to annihilate their ancient
rights, after the example he had already set in Vienna and Styria.
The Imperial Bailiffs resolved to take up their abode in the Forest
Cantons,--Landenberg in Unterwalden, near Sarnen, in a castle of the
King's, while Gessler built a prison-castle by Altorf in Uri; for within
the memory of men no lord had dwelt in Schwyz. They used their power
wantonly;--unjust and weary imprisonments for slightest faults; haughty
manners, and all the stings of insolent authority;--and no redress to
be had at the King's hands. The peace and happy security of the men of
Schwyz were gone, and they looked in one another's faces for the thing
that was to be done. The honored families of their race were despised
and called peasant-nobles;--there was Werner Stauffacher, a well-to-do
and well-meaning man; and the Lord of Attinghausen above all, of an
ancient house, in years, with much experience, and true to his country;
there was Rudolph Redings of Biberek, whose descendants live to this
day in Schwyz, supporting still the honor of their name; and the
Winkelrieds, mindful of the spirit of their ancestor who slew the
dragon. In such persons the people _believed_; they knew them and their
fathers before them; and when they were made light of, there was hatred
between the people and the Bailiffs. As Gessler passed Stauffacher's
house in Steinen, one day, where the little chapel now stands, and saw
how the house was well built, with many windows, and painted over with
mottoes, after the manner of rich farmers' houses, he cried to his face,
"Can one endure that these peasants should live in such houses?"
It came at last to insulting their wives and daughters; and the first
man that attempted this, one Wolfenschiess, was struck dead by an angry
husband; and when the brave wife of Stauffacher reflected how her turn
might come next, she persuaded her husband to anticipate the danger.
Werner Stauffacher at once crossed the lake to Uri, to consult with his
friend Walther, Prince of Attinghausen, with whom he found concealed a
young man of courage and understanding. "He is an Unterwaldner from the
Melchthal," said Walther; "his name is Erni an der Halden, and he is
a relation of mine; for a trifling matter Landenberg has fined him
a couple of oxen; his father Henry complained bitterly of the loss,
whereupon a servant of the Bailiff said, 'If the peasants want to eat
bread, they can draw their own plough'; at which Erni took fire, and
broke one of the fellow's fingers with his stick, and then took refuge
here; meanwhile the Bailiff has caused his father's eyes to be put out."
And then the two friends took counsel together; and Walther bore witness
how the venerable Lord of Attinghausen had said that these Bailiffs were
no longer to be endured. What desolating wrath resistance would bring
upon the Waldstaette they knew and measured, and swore that death was
better than an unrighteous yoke. And they parted, each to sound his
friends,--appointing as a place of conference the Ruetli. It is a little
patch of meadow, which the precipices seem to recede expressly to form,
on the Bay of Uri, sloping down to the water's edge,--so called from the
trees being rooted out (_ausgereutet_) there,--not far from the boundary
between Unterwalden and Uri, where the Mytenstein rises solitary like an
obelisk out of the water. There, in the stillness of night, they often
met together for council touching the work which was to be done; thither
by lonely paths came Fuerst and Melchthal, Stauffacher in his boat,
and from Unterwalden his sister's son, Edelknecht of Rudenz. The more
dangerous the deed, the more solemn the bond which bound them.
On the night of Wednesday before Martinmas, on the 10th of November,
1307, Fuerst, Melchthal, and Stauffacher brought each from his own Canton
ten upright men to the Ruetli, to deliberate honestly together. And when
they came there and remembered their inherited freedom, and the eternal
brotherly bond between them, consecrated by the danger of the times,
they feared neither Albrecht nor the power of Austria; and they took
each other by the hand, and said, that "in these matters no one was
to act after his own fancy; no one was to desert another; that in
friendship they would live and die; each was so to strive to preserve
the ancient rights of the people that the Swiss through all time might
taste of this friendship; neither should the property or the rights of
the Count of Hapsburg be molested, nor the Bailiffs or their servants
lose one drop of blood; but the freedom which their fathers gave them
they would bequeath to their children": and then, when remembering that
upon what they did now the fate of their posterity depended, each looked
upon his friend, consoled. And Walther Fuerst, Werner Stauffacher, and
Arnold an der Halden of Melchthal lifted their hands to heaven, and, in
the name of God, who created emperor and peasant with the inalienable
rights of man, swore to maintain their freedom; and when the thirty
heard this, each one raised his hand and swore the same by God and the
Saints;--and then each went his way to his hut, and was silent, and
wintered his cattle.
In the mean while it happened that the Bailiff Hermann Gessler was
shot dead by Wilhelm Tell, who was of Buerglen, at the entrance of the
Schaechenthal, a half-hour from Altorf, in Uri,--son-in-law of Walther
Fuerst, and a man of some substance, for he had the steward-ship in
fee in Buerglen of the Frauenmuester Abbey in Zuerich,--one of the
conspirators. Out of wanton tyranny, or suspicious of the breaking out
of disturbances, Gessler determined to discover who bore the joke most
impatiently; and, after the symbolical way of the times and the people,
set up a hat, (it was on the 18th of November,) to represent the dignity
of the Duke Albrecht of Austria, and commanded all to do it homage. The
story of Tell's refusal, and of the apple placed on the head of his son
to be shot at, the world knows far and wide. Convinced by his success
that God was with him, Tell confessed, that, if the matter had gone
wrong, he would have had his revenge upon the Bailiff. Gessler did
not dare to detain him in Uri, on account of Tell's many friends and
relations, but took him up the lake, contrary to the traditions of the
people, which forbade foreign imprisonment. They had not got far beyond
the Ruetli, when the foehn-wind, breaking loose from the gulfs of the
Gothard, threw the waves into a rage, and the rocks echoed with its
angry cries. In this moment of deadly danger, Gessler commanded them to
unbind Tell, who, he knew, was an excellent boatman; and as they passed
by the foot of the Axen Mountain, to the right as you come out of the
Bay of Uri, Tell grasped his bow and leaped upon a flat rock there,
climbed up the mountain while the boat tossed to and fro against the
rocks, and fled through the land of the men of Schwyz. But the Bailiff
escaped the storm also, and landed by Kuessnacht, where he fell with
Tell's arrow through him.
It should be remembered that this was Tell's deed alone: the hour which
the people had agreed upon for their deliverance had not come; they had
no part in the death of Gessler. Carlyle has remarked this as appearing
also in Schiller's drama, in the construction of which, he says, "there
is no connection, or a very slight one, between the enterprise of Tell
and that of the men of Ruetli." It was not a deed conformable to law
or the highest ethics, yet it was one which mankind is ever ready to
forgive and applaud; and the echo of it through the ages will die away
only when hatred of tyranny and wrathful impatience under hopeless
oppression die away also from the hearts of men. Tell was an outlaw, and
he took an outlaw's vengeance: it was life against life. And yet it is a
curious fact, that the historian of Switzerland (that wonderful genius,
Johannes Mueller, who is reported to have read more books than any man in
Europe, in proof of which they point you to his fifty folio volumes of
excerpts in the Town Library at Schaffhausen) suggests as a reason why
there were only one hundred and fourteen persons, who had known Tell,
to gather together in 1388, not much more than thirty years after his
death, at the erection of a chapel dedicated to his memory on the rock
where he leaped ashore, that Tell did not often leave Buerglen, where he
dwelt, and that, according to the ethics of that period, the deed was
not one likely to attract inquisitive wonderers to him.
There is hardly an event or character in history which is not to
somebody a myth or a phantom; and so Tell has not escaped the skepticism
of men. But those who doubt his existence have little experience of
history, says Mueller. Grasser was the first to remark the resemblance
between the adventures of Tell and those of a certain Tocco, or Toke, or
Palnatoke, of Denmark, which are related by Saxo Grammaticus, a learned
historian who flourished in Denmark in the twelfth century, of which
kingdom and its dependencies he compiled an elaborate history, first
printed at Paris in 1486; but the Danish Tocco, who is supposed to have
existed in the latter half of the tenth century, was wholly unknown
to the Swiss, who, if ever, came to the Alps before that time. The
Icelanders, also, have a similar story about another hero, which appears
in the "Vilkinasaga" of the fourteenth century. It is more likely that
the Danes and other Northern people got their tradition from the Swiss,
by way of the Hanse Towns perhaps, if we are to be permitted to believe
in but one original tradition, which is not less arbitrary than
Moreover, for what did these one hundred and fourteen people dedicate a
chapel to him thirty years and a little more after his death? And there
is the Chronicle of Klingenberg, which covers the end of the fourteenth
century, which tells his story; and Melchior Russ, of Lucerne, who, in
compiling his book, about the year 1480, had before him a Tell-song, and
the Chronicle of Eglof Etterlins, Town-Clerk of Lucerne in the first
half of the fifteenth century; and since 1387, too, there has been
solemn service by the people of Uri to commemorate him. So that the
"Fable Danoise" of Uriel Freudenberger of Bern (1760) becomes a mere
absurdity, and the indignant Canton of Uri had no less right to burn it
(although to burn was not to answer it, suggests the critic,) than to
honor the "Defence" by Balthasar with two medals of gold. And what
has been written to establish him may be read in Zurlauben, (whose
approbation is almost proof, says Mueller, reverentially,) and elsewhere
[Footnote A: In Balthasar, _Def. de Guill. Tell_ (Lucerne, 1760); Gottl.
Eman. von Haller, _Vorlesung ueber Wilh. Tell_, etc. (Bern, 1772);
Hisely, _Guill. Tell et la Revolution de_ 1307 (Delft, 1826); Ideler,
_Die Sage vom Schuesse des Tell_ (Berlin, 1836); Haeusser, _Die Sage vom
Tell_ (Heidelberg, 1840); Schoenhuth, _Wilh. Tell, Geschichte aus der
Vorzeit_ (Reutlingen, 1836); Henning, _Wilh. Tell_ (Nuernberg, 1836); and
_Histoire de Guill. Tell, Liberateur de la Suisse_ (Paris, 1843).]
Tell's posterity in the male line is reported to have died out with
Johann Martin, in 1684; the female, with Verena, in 1720. Yet it is
certainly a little surprising that the elder Swiss chroniclers, John of
Winterthur, and Justinger of Bern, for instance, who were almost Tell's
contemporaries, make no mention of him in relating the Revolution in the
Waldstaette, and that it should be left to Tschudi and others, almost two
hundred years afterwards, in the sixteenth century, to give his story
that dramatic importance upon which Schiller has set the seal forever.
It can be explained, perhaps, on the ground that it did not at the time
possess that importance which we have been taught to give it; though
roughly, thus, we do away with the poetry of it, to be sure. Let
Voltaire, whose function it was to deny, enjoy his feeble sneer, that
"the difficulty of pronouncing those respectable names"--to wit,
_Melchtad_, and _Stauffager_, and _Valtherfurst_, to say nothing of
_Grisler_--"injures their celebrity." Neither are we to conceal the
fact, that it is doubted, if not denied, that there ever was any Gessler
in Uri to perform all the wicked things ascribed to him, and to get that
arrow through him in such dramatic and effective manner in the Hollow
Way; for has not Kopp published, with edifying explanation, "Documents
for the History of the Confederation," (Lucerne, 1835,) in which, in the
list of Bailiffs (_Landvoigte_) at Kuessnacht, we do not find the name of
Gessler? Perhaps there was a mistake in the name, the critic suggests.
The Revolution thus begun at the Ruetli, and by Tell, went forward
swiftly in January, 1308; and, true to their oath, it was consummated
by the men of Schwyz without harm to the property of the Bailiffs, also
without the spilling of a single drop of blood. The prison at Uri was
captured, and Landenberg also, as he descended to hear mass, by twenty
men from Unterwalden; but, escaping, he fled across the meadows from
Sarnen to Alpnach, where he was overtaken and made to swear that he
would never set foot again in the Waldstaette, and then suffered to
depart safely to the King. And the peasants breathed again; and
Stauffacher's wife opened her house to all who had been at the Ruetli;
and there was joy in the land.
And how in that same year Duke Albrecht met with a bloody end, such as
befell no King or Emperor of the Germans before or after him, at the
hands of Duke John, his nephew, whose inheritance he had kept back, and
other conspirators; and what vengeance overtook the murderers; and how
Duke John, escaping in the habit of a monk into Italy, was no more heard
of, but became a shadow forever, like the rest of them;--and how, eight
years afterwards, came the expedition of Duke Leopold of Austria against
the Waldstaette, and the fight at Morgarten, where the Swiss, thirteen
hundred mountaineers in all, Wilhelm Tell among them, routed twenty
thousand of the well-armed chivalry of Austria,--dating from that heroic
Thermopylae of theirs the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy, as,
larger and perhaps not less resolute, we see it to-day, ready to
defy, if need be, single-handed, the greatest military nation of the
earth;--and how, thirty years afterwards, the men of Schwyz and Uri go
forth, nine hundred strong,--among them Tell, and Werner Stauffacher,
now bent with years,--to the aid of Bern, threatened by the nobles
roundabout;--and how, in 1332, was formed the league with Lucerne,
whereby the beautiful lake gets its name as the Lake of the _Four_
Forest Cantons;--and how, one sultry July day in 1386, the men of Schwyz
and Uri and Unterwalden, together with other Swiss,--some of them armed
with the very halberds with which their fathers defended the pass at
Morgarten,--fought again their hereditary enemy, Austria, by the clear
waters of the little Lake of Sempach; how, when they saw the enemy, they
fell upon their knees, according to their ancient custom, and prayed to
God, and then with loud war-cry dashed at full run upon the Austrian
host, whose shields were like a dazzling wall, and their spears like a
forest, and the Mayor of Lucerne with sixty of his followers went down
in the shock, but not a single one of the Austrians recoiled; and how at
that critical, dreadful moment,--for the flanks of the enemy's phalanx
were advancing to encompass them,--there suddenly strode forth the
Knight Arnold Strutthan von Winkelried, crying, "I will make a path
for you! care for my wife and children!" and, rushing forward, grasped
several spears and buried them in his breast,--a large, strong man, he
bore the soldiers down with him as he fell, and his companions pushed
forward over his dead body into the midst of the host, and the victory
was won, and another book was added to the epic story of the men of
Schwyz and Uri and Unterwalden;--and how Duke Leopold fell fighting
bravely, as became his house, and six hundred and fifty nobles with him,
so that there was mourning at the Court of Austria for many a year, and
men said it was a judgment upon the reckless spirit of the nobles; and
how Martin Malterer, standard-bearer, of Freyburg in the Breisgau,
happening to come upon Leopold as he was dying, was as one petrified,
and the banner fell from his hands, and he threw himself across the body
of Leopold to save it from further outrage, waiting for and finding his
own death there;--and how this ruinous contest between Switzerland and
Austria was not finally closed till the time of Maximilian, in 1499,
when first the right of private war was abolished in Germany;--and how,
through the various fortunes of the succeeding centuries, the character
of the Swiss has remained for the most part the same as in the earlier
time:--these things one may read at large elsewhere; but we hasten to
The story of Tell has been the subject of several dramas. Lemierre, a
popular French dramatist of his day, (though J. J. Rousseau affects to
call him a _scribe_ whom the French Academy once crowned,) produced
a play founded upon it, in Paris, in 1766; but the language of Swiss
freemen on a French stage was little to the taste of those days, and
it was a failure. Voltaire, when asked what he thought of it,
replied,--"_Il n'y a rien a dire; il est ecrit en langue du pays._" But
twenty years afterwards it was revived with prodigious success; for the
truth which was in it flashed out then, forerunner of the storm which
was soon to break over France. Again, when Florian, whom we are to
remember always for his "Fables," banished in 1793 by the decree which
forbade nobles to remain in Paris, taking refuge at Sceaux, was arrested
and thrown into prison, he consoled his captivity by composing his drama
of "Guillaume Tell,"--the worst of his productions, it is recorded.
Lastly, it has been consecrated for all time by the genius of Friedrich
Schiller. The legend was first brought to Schiller's notice, doubtless,
by Goethe, who writes to him concerning it from Switzerland in 1797.
Goethe himself thought of founding an epic on it. It was not, however,
till 1801, before his journey to Dresden, that Schiller's attention was
permanently directed to it. Completed on the 18th of February, it
was brought out at Weimar on the 17th of March, 1804, with the most
extraordinary success: the fifth act, however, was suppressed, in
deference to the intended court alliance with the daughter of a murdered
Russian emperor; it not being considered good taste to represent the
assassination of an autocrat upon such an occasion.
Schiller's drama has been translated into French by Merle d'Aubigne and
others, and many times into English,--among us by the Rev. C. T. Brooks.
It follows the tradition substantially. Carlyle declares, indeed, that
"the incidents of the Swiss Revolution, as detailed in Tschudi or
Mueller, are here faithfully preserved, even to their minutest branches."
We tarried once for several days at Brunnen, and read the play upon the
spot in sight of the Ruetli, in the little balcony of the _pension_ of
the Golden Eagle, with the deep, calm, blue lake at our feet, and the
Hacken and Axen mountains and the Selisberg shutting out the world for
a time; and as we look at the play now, it recalls with the utmost
minuteness the scenery and the coloring of it all: yet Schiller never
was there. It was the last startling effulgence of his comet-like
genius; for when the spring-flowers came again, he was gone from our
In the last act of the great drama, as Tell sits at his cottage-door
in Buerglen in Uri, surrounded by his wife and children, after the
consummation of the deed, there approaches a monk begging alms;--it is
the parricide Duke John, flying the sight and presence of men. In the
contrast of the feelings of these two persons, then and there, one reads
Schiller's justification of his hero. As if to complete by contrast the
moral of the drama of "Tell," it is related also in the tradition, that
in 1354, when the stream of the Schaechen was swollen, Tell, then bowing
under the snowy years, seeing a child fall into it, as he passed that
way, plunged in, and lost his life. Uhland has indicated this in his
"Death of Tell," as only Uhland could:--
"Die Kraft derselben Liebe,
Die du dem Knaben trugst,
Ward einst in dir zum Triebe,
Dass du den Zwingherrn schlugst."
Some liken life to a book to be read in. To us it is rather an unwritten
poem which each age repeats to the next,--melodious sometimes, as when
the blind old mythic bard of Chios sang it under the olive-trees, by the
blue Aegean, to the listening Greeks, thirsty for beauty, drinking it
ever with their eyes, and with their lips lisping it,--or rough and
more full of meaning, as when, with the men of Schwyz and Uri and
Unterwalden, the great idea of freedom, majestic as their mountains,
utters itself, composed and stern, in deeds which for all time make
Switzerland honored and free.
On the 10th of November, 1859, the heart of Germany beat with gladness,
if touched also with a certain sorrow, as in every hamlet, on every
hill-side, from the German Ocean to the Tyrolese Alps, from the Vosges
to the Carpathians and the Slavic border, the people met to celebrate
with simple rites the hundredth birthday of its great poet Schiller,
in whom they recognize not more what he did than what he sought after,
whose striving is their striving, from highest to lowest,--the ideal
man, burning to gather them together, and fold them as one flock under
one shepherd, that, no longer divided, they may face the world and the
future with one heart, with one great trembling hope, to lead the new
civilization to its lasting triumphs.
Schiller had sung of Wilhelm Tell; and the men of Schwyz remembered
him on that occasion, too, on the Ruetli, with their confederates from
Oberwalden and Niederwalden. On the afternoon of the 11th of November,
they met at Brunnen,--on the lake, as we have said,--the men of Schwyz
embarking in one great boat, amidst peals of music, while numberless
little canoes received the others. The wind, blowing strong from the
north, filled the sail, and, as they floated down the Bay of Uri, they
remembered Stauffacher and his friends, who had glided over the same
dark waters at dead of night, past the Mytenstein to the Ruetli, and
the old time lived again; and the little chapel on the spot where Tell
sprang ashore, erected by the Canton Uri, where once a year, since 1388,
mass is said, and a sermon preached to the people, who go up in solemn
procession of little boats, looked friendly over to them; and the
countrymen of Schiller, present for the first time from Stuttgart and
Munich, wondered at the solemn beauty of the snowpeaks reflected in the
waters below. A chorus of many voices broke upon the mountain-stillness,
as the little fleet approached the Ruetli; the men of Uri, already there,
"the first on the spot," and with them the men of Gersau, a valiant
band, answered in a song of welcome; and they shook each other by the
hand, and made a little circle, three hundred in all, upon the Ruetli;
and Lusser of Uri thanked the men of Schwyz for the invitation to
remember their fathers here on the five hundred and fifty-second
anniversary of the deeds which Schiller has so gloriously sung. We best
remember the poet by repeating and upholding his words:--
"Wir wollen seyn ein einzig Volk von Bruedern,
In keiner Noth uns trennen und Gefahr.
Wir wollen frey seyn, wie die Vaeter waren,
Eher den Tod als in der Knechtschaft leben.
Wir wollen trauen auf den hoechsten Gott,
Und uns nicht fuerchten vor der Macht der
"One people will we be,--a band of brothers;
No danger, no distress shall sunder us.
We will be freemen as our fathers were,
And sooner welcome death than live as slaves.
We will rely on God's almighty arm,
And never quail before the power of man." [B]
[Footnote B: Rev. C. T. Brooks's translation, p. 53.]
Then they read the scene of the Ruetli Oath from Schiller's play, and
sing the Swiss national song, "Callest thou, my Fatherland?" And the
pastor Tschuemperlin admonishes them that they best cultivate the spirit
of Schiller and Tell by worthy training of their children. As they are
about to break up at last, the Landammann Styger of Schwyz suggests a
beautiful thing to them:--"As we came from Brunnen, and looked up at the
Mytenstein as we passed it,--the great pyramid rising up there out of
the water as if meant by Nature for a monument,--it seemed to us that a
memorial tablet should be placed there, simple like the column itself,
with words like these: 'To Him who wrote "Tell," on his One Hundredth
Birthday, the Original Cantons.'" And the proposition was received
with unanimous shout of assent. "This was the worthy ending of the
Schiller-Festival on the Ruetli," says the contemporary chronicle.
On the 10th day of November, 1859, also, there was put into the hands
of the Central Committee of the Society of the Swiss Union the deed of
purchase of the Ruetli. It is in the handwriting of Franz Lusser of Uri,
Clerk of the Court, and dated the 10th of November, the birthday of
Schiller. Thus Switzerland owns its sacred places, and the title-deeds
long laid up in its heart are written out at last.
On the 21st of October of last year, on a brilliant afternoon, the
men of Schwyz and Uri went forth again from Brunnen, with the chief
magistracy of the land. From Treib came the Unterwaldners, all in richly
decorated boats, and the inhabitants of Lucerne in two steamboats with
much music, meeting in front of the Mytenstein, which lifts its colossal
front eighty feet above the water there. The top of it was covered with
a large boat-sail, with the arms of the original Cantons and Swiss
mottoes on it; in a wreath of evergreen, the arms of the other Cantons;
in the middle of it, in token of the twenty-two Cantons, a white cross
upon red ground; above all, the flag of the Confederacy spread to the
Foehn. At the foot was a little stand made of twigs for the speaker,
about which the little fleet was grouped, under the charge of the
Landammann Aufdermauer of Brunnen, a gallant gentleman, host of the
Golden Eagle, with his kind little sister, of whom we spoke at the
When all was still, Uri opens the musical trilogy,--the words by P.
Gall. Morell, monk of Einsiedeln, the music by Baumgartner of Zuerich;
Unterwalden takes up the burden; then Schwyz; then all three in
chorus;--and the echo of the fresh voices among the rocks there was as
in a cathedral. Then Landammann Styger climbs to the stand, and makes a
little speech, and reads a letter from Schiller's daughter, (of which
presently,) while the curious shepherd-boys stretch out their necks over
the craggy tops of the Selisberg to look down upon the lively scene
At the end of his speech, Styger lets fall the sail amid the beating of
the drums and the shouts of the multitude; and on the flat sides of the
rock appear the gilded metal letters, a foot high,--"To the Singer of
Tell, Fr. Schiller, the Original Cantons, 1859." And there were other
little speeches,--one by Lusser, who exclaims with much truth, "The
rocks of our mountains can be broken, but not _bent_"; and then followed
the Swiss psalm by Zwysig. And afterwards, in the evening, a feast in
the Golden Eagle in Brunnen, at which, with the ancient sobriety, they
remember the dangers of the present, and affirm their neutrality, which
should not hang upon the caprice of a neighbor, but be grounded in their
own will, for there is no Lord in Christendom for them except Him who is
Thus wrote Schiller's daughter:--
_"Gentlemen of the Committee of the Schiller Memorial on the
"Your friendly words have truly delighted and deeply moved my heart;--
not less the engraving of the Mytenstein, which shall stand as the very
worthy and noble memorial of the Singer of Wilhelm Tell in the land of
the Swiss for all time forever,--a token of recognition of the genius
which, struggling for the highest good of mankind, has found its home in
the hearts of all noble men and women. With infinite joy I greeted the
beautiful idea, so wholly worthy of the land as of the poet,--there,
where magnificent Nature, grown friendly, offers its hand on the very
ground where one of the noblest, most finished creations of Schiller
takes root, to consecrate to him a memorial which, defying time and
storms, shall illumine afar off every heart which turns to it.
"In memory also of my beloved mother, Charlotte, Schiller's earthly
angel, I rejoice in this memorial. She it was who, with deepest love
for Switzerland, which she calls the land of her affections, where she
passed happy youthful days from 1783 to 1784, led Schiller to it, and by
her fresh, lively descriptions made him partake of it; and so prepared
the way for the genius which could embrace and penetrate all things for
the masterly representation of the country, which, unfortunately, his
feet never trod. If, unhappily, I am not able to be present at the
festival on the 21st of October, I am not the less thankful for your
kind invitation; and in that sacred hour I will be with you in spirit,
deeply sympathizing with all that the noble _idea_ brought into life.
"A little memorial of the 10th of November, 1859, representing Schiller
and Charlotte, I pray you, Gentlemen, to accept of me, and, when you
recall the parents, to remember also the daughter.
"EMILIE v. GLEICHEN-RUSSWURM, geb. v. SCHILLER.
"_Greiffenstein ob Bonnland. 12 October, 1860._"
In the churchyard of Cleversulzbach lies buried, since the 2d of May,
1802, the mother of Schiller. Prof. Dr. E. Moerika, when he was preacher
there, erected a simple stone cross over the grave, and with his own
hands engraved upon it the words, "Schiller's Mother." On the famous
10th of November, 1859, woman's hand decorated the grave with flowers,
and put a laurel wreath upon the cross; and in the hour when great
cities with festal processions and banquets and oratory and jubilant
song offered their homage to the son, a few persons gathered around the
grave of the mother, and in the silence there planted a linden-tree;
for in stillness thus, while she lived, had his mother done her part,
lovingly and with faith, to unfold and consecrate the genius of
* * * * *
A NOOK OF THE NORTH.
Adventurous travellers, who penetrated into Canada during the late visit
of the Sovereign-Apparent of that colony, have furnished the public,
through the daily press, with minute and more or less faithful