Part 1 out of 5
This eBook was created by Charles Aldarondo (email@example.com).
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
CHAPTER I. THE HERO.
CHAPTER II. THE CHRIST OF ANDERNACH.
CHAPTER III. HOMUNCULUS.
CHAPTER IV. THE LANDLADY'S DAUGHTER.
CHAPTER V. JEAN PAUL, THE ONLY-ONE.
CHAPTER VI. HEIDELBERG AND THE BARON.
CHAPTER VII. LIVES OF SCHOLARS.
CHAPTER VIII. LITERARY FAME.
CHAPTER I. SPRING.
CHAPTER II. A COLLOQUY.
CHAPTER III. OWL-TOWERS.
CHAPTER IV. A BEER-SCANDAL.
CHAPTER V. THE WHITE LADY'S SLIPPER AND THE PASSION-FLOWER.
CHAPTER VI. GLIMPSES INTO CLOUD-LAND.
CHAPTER VII. MILL-WHEELS AND OTHER WHEELS.
CHAPTER VIII. OLD HUMBUG.
CHAPTER IX. THE DAYLIGHT OF THE DWARFS, AND THE FALLING STAR.
CHAPTER X. THE PARTING.
CHAPTER I. SUMMER-TIME.
CHAPTER II. FOOT-TRAVELLING.
CHAPTER III. INTERLACHEN.
CHAPTER IV. THE EVENING AND THE MORNING STAR.
CHAPTER V. A RAINY DAY.
CHAPTER VI. AFTER DINNER, AND AFTER THE MANNER OF THE BEST CRITICS.
CHAPTER VII. TAKE CARE!
CHAPTER VIII. THE FOUNTAIN OF OBLIVION.
CHAPTER IX. A TALK ON THE STAIRS.
CHAPTER I. A MISERERE.
CHAPTER II. CURFEW BELLS.
CHAPTER III. SHADOWS ON THE WALL.
CHAPTER IV. MUSICAL SUFFERINGS OF JOHN KREISLER.
CHAPTER V. SAINT GILGEN.
CHAPTER VI. SAINT WOLFGANG.
CHAPTER VII. THE STORY OF BROTHER BERNARDUS.
CHAPTER VIII. FOOT-PRINTS OF ANGELS.
CHAPTER IX. THE LAST PANG.
"Who ne'er his bread in sorrow ate,
Who ne'er the mournful, midnight hours
Weeping upon his bed has sate,
He knows you not, ye Heavenly Powers."
CHAPTER I. THE HERO.
In John Lyly's Endymion, Sir Topas is made to say; "Dost thou
know what a Poet is? Why, fool, a Poet is as much as one should
say,--a Poet!" And thou, reader, dost thou know what a hero is? Why,
a hero is as much as one should say,--a hero! Some romance-writers,
however, say much more than this. Nay, the old Lombard, Matteo Maria
Bojardo, set all the church-bells in Scandiano ringing, merely
because he had found a name for one of his heroes. Here, also, shall
church-bells be rung, but more solemnly.
The setting of a great hope is like the setting of the sun. The
brightness of our life is gone. Shadows of evening fall around us,
and the world seems but a dim reflection,--itself a broader shadow.
We look forward into the coming, lonely night. The soul withdraws
into itself. Then stars arise, and the night is holy.
Paul Flemming had experienced this, though still young. The
friend of his youth was dead. The bough had broken "under the burden
of the unripe fruit." And when, after a season, he looked up again
from the blindness of his sorrow, all things seemed unreal. Like the
man, whose sight had been restored by miracle, he beheld men, as
trees, walking. His household gods were broken. He had no home. His
sympathies cried aloud from his desolate soul, and there came no
answer from the busy, turbulent world around him. He did not
willingly give way to grief. He struggled to be cheerful,--to be
strong. But he could no longer look into the familiar faces of his
friends. He could no longer live alone, where he had lived with her.
He went abroad, that the sea might be between him and the grave.
Alas! betweenhim and his sorrow there could be no sea, but that of
He had already passed many months in lonely wandering, and was
now pursuing his way along the Rhine, to the south of Germany. He
had journeyed the same way before, in brighter days and a brighter
season of the year, in the May of life and in the month of May. He
knew the beauteous river all by heart;--every rock and ruin, every
echo, every legend. The ancient castles, grim and hoar, that had
taken root as it were on the cliffs,--they were all his; for his
thoughts dwelt in them, and the wind told him tales.
He had passed a sleepless night at Rolandseck, and had risen
before daybreak. He opened the window of the balcony to hear the
rushing of the Rhine. It was a damp December morning; and clouds
were passing over the sky,--thin, vapory clouds, whose snow-white
skirts were "often spotted with golden tears, which men call stars."
The day dawned slowly; and, in the mingling of daylightand
starlight, the island and cloister of Nonnenwerth made together but
one broad, dark shadow on the silver breast of the river. Beyond,
rose the summits of the Siebengebirg. Solemn and dark, like a monk,
stood the Drachenfels, in his hood of mist, and rearward extended
the Curtain of Mountains, back to the Wolkenburg,--the Castle of the
But Flemming thought not of the scene before him. Sorrow
unspeakable was upon his spirit in that lonely hour; and, hiding his
face in his hands, he exclaimed aloud;
"Spirit of the past! look not so mournfully at me with thy great,
tearful eyes! Touch me not with thy cold hand! Breathe not upon me
with the icy breath of the grave! Chant no more that dirge of
sorrow, through the long and silent watches of the night!"
Mournful voices from afar seemed to answer, "Treuenfels!" and he
remembered how others had suffered, and his heart grew still.
Slowly the landscape brightened. Down therushing stream came a
boat, with its white wings spread, and darted like a swallow through
the narrow pass of God's-Help. The boatmen were singing, but not the
song of Roland the Brave, which was heard of old by the weeping
Hildegund, as she sat within the walls of that cloister, which now
looked forth in the pale morning from amid the leafless linden
trees. The dim traditions of those gray old times rose in the
traveller's memory; for the ruined tower of Rolandseck was still
looking down upon the Kloster Nonnenwerth, as if the sound of the
funeral bell had changed the faithful Paladin to stone, and he were
watching still to see the form of his beloved one come forth, not
from her cloister, but from her grave. Thus the brazen clasps of the
book of legends were opened, and, on the page illuminated by the
misty rays of the rising sun, he read again the tales of Liba, and
the mournful bride of Argenfels, and Siegfried, the mighty slayer of
the dragon. Meanwhile the mists had risen from the Rhine, and the
whole air was filled with golden vapor, through which hebeheld the
sun, hanging in heaven like a drop of blood. Even thus shone the sun
within him, amid the wintry vapors, uprising from the valley of the
shadow of death, through which flowed the stream of his
CHAPTER II. THE CHRIST OF ANDERNACH.
Paul Flemming resumed his solitary journey. The morning was still
misty, but not cold. Across the Rhine the sun came wading through
the reddish vapors; and soft and silver-white outspread the broad
river, without a ripple upon its surface, or visible motion of the
ever-moving current. A little vessel, with one loose sail, was
riding at anchor, keel to keel with another, that lay right under
it, its own apparition,--and all was silent, and calm, and
The road was for the most part solitary; for there are few
travellers upon the Rhine in winter. Peasant women were at work in
the vineyards; climbing up the slippery hill-sides, like beasts of
burden, with large baskets of manureupon their backs. And once
during the morning, a band of apprentices, with knapsacks, passed
by, singing, "The Rhine! The Rhine! a blessing on the Rhine!"
O, the pride of the German heart in this noble river! And right
it is; for, of all the rivers of this beautiful earth, there is none
so beautiful as this. There is hardly a league of its whole course,
from its cradle in the snowy Alps to its grave in the sands of
Holland, which boasts not its peculiar charms. By heavens! If I were
a German I would be proud of it too; and of the clustering grapes,
that hang about its temples, as it reels onward through vineyards,
in a triumphal march, like Bacchus, crowned and drunken.
But I will not attempt to describe the Rhine; it would make this
chapter much too long. And to do it well, one should write like a
god; and his style flow onward royally with breaks and dashes, like
the waters of that royal river, and antique, quaint, and Gothic
times, be reflected in it. Alas! this evening my style flows not at
all. Flow, then, into this smoke-colored goblet, thou blood of the
Rhine! out of thy prison-house,--out of thy long-necked, tapering
flask, in shape not unlike a church-spire among thy native hills;
and, from the crystal belfry, loud ring the merry tinkling bells,
while I drink a health to my hero, in whose heart is sadness, and in
whose ears the bells of Andernach are ringing noon.
He is threading his way alone through a narrow alley, and now up
a flight of stone steps, and along the city wall, towards that old
round tower, built by the Archbishop Frederick of Cologne in the
twelfth century. It has a romantic interest in his eyes; for he has
still in his mind and heart that beautiful sketch of Carové, in
which is described a day on the tower of Andernach. He finds the old
keeper and his wife still there; and the old keeper closes the door
behind him slowly, as of old, lest he should jam too hard the poor
souls in Purgatory, whose fate it is to suffer in the cracks of
doors and hinges. But alas! alas! the daughter, the maiden with
long, dark eyelashes! she is asleep in her little grave, under the
linden trees of Feldkirche, with rosemary in her folded hands!
Flemming returned to the hotel disappointed. As he passed along
the narrow streets, he was dreaming of many things; but mostly of
the keeper's daughter, asleep in the churchyard of Feldkirche.
Suddenly, on turning the corner of an ancient, gloomy church, his
attention was arrested by a little chapel in an angle of the wall.
It was only a small thatched roof, like a bird's nest; under which
stood a rude wooden image of the Saviour on the Cross. A real crown
of thorns was upon his head, which was bowed downward, as if in the
death agony; and drops of blood were falling down his cheeks, and
from his hands and feet and side. The face was haggard and ghastly
beyond all expression; and wore a look of unutterable bodily
anguish. The rude sculptor had given it this, but his art could go
no farther. The sublimity of death in a dying Saviour, the expiring
God-likeness of Jesus of Nazareth was not there. The artist had
caught no heavenly inspiration from his theme. All was coarse,
harsh, and revolting to a sensitive mind; and Flemming turned away
with a shudder, as he saw this fearful image gazing at him, with its
fixed and half-shut eyes.
He soon reached the hotel, but that face of agony still haunted
him. He could not refrain from speaking of it to a very old woman,
who sat knitting by the window of the dining-room, in a high-backed,
old-fashioned arm-chair. I believe she was the innkeeper's
grandmother. At all events she was old enough to be so. She took off
her owl-eyed spectacles, and, as she wiped the glasses with her
"Thou dear Heaven! Is it possible! Did you never hear of the
Christ of Andernach?"
Flemming answered in the negative.
"Thou dear Heaven!" continued the old woman. "It is a very
wonderful story; and a true one, as every good Christian in
Andernach will tell you. And it all happened before the deathof my
blessed man, four years ago, let me see,--yes, four years ago, come
Here the old woman stopped speaking, but went on with her
knitting. Other thoughts seemed to occupy her mind. She was
thinking, no doubt, of her blessed man, as German widows call their
dead husbands. But Flemming having expressed an ardent wish to hear
the wonderful story, she told it, in nearly the following words.
"There was once a poor old woman in Andernach whose name was Frau
Martha, and she lived all alone in a house by herself, and loved all
the Saints and the blessed Virgin, and was as good as an angel, and
sold pies down by the Rheinkrahn. But her house was very old, and
the roof-tiles were broken, and she was too poor to get new ones,
and the rain kept coming in, and no Christian soul in Andernach
would help her. But the Frau Martha was a good woman, and never did
anybody any harm, but went to mass every morning, and sold pies by
the Rheinkrahn. Now one dark, windy night, when all the good
Christians in Andernachwere abed and asleep in the feathers, Frau
Martha, who slept under the roof, heard a great noise over her head,
and in her chamber, drip! drip! drip! as if the rain were dropping
down through the broken tiles. Dear soul! and sure enough it was.
And then there was a pounding and hammering overhead, as if somebody
were at work on the roof; and she thought it was Pelz-Nickel tearing
the tiles off, because she had not been to confession often enough.
So she began to pray; and the faster she said her Pater-noster and
her Ave-Maria, the faster Pelz-Nickel pounded and pulled; and drip!
drip! drip! it went all round her in the dark chamber, till the poor
woman was frightened out of her wits, and ran to the window to call
for help. Then in a moment all was still,--death-still. But she saw
a light streaming through the mist and rain, and a great shadow on
the house opposite. And then somebody came down from the top of her
house by a ladder, and had a lantern in his hand; and he took the
ladder on his shoulder and went down thestreet. But she could not
see clearly, because the window was streaked with rain. And in the
morning the old broken tiles were found scattered about the street,
and there were new ones on the roof, and the old house has never
leaked to this blessed day.
"As soon as mass was over Frau Martha told the priest what had
happened, and he said it was not Pelz-Nickel, but, without doubt,
St. Castor or St. Florian. Then she went to the market and told Frau
Bridget all about it; and Frau Bridget said, that, two nights
before, Hans Claus, the cooper, had heard a great pounding in his
shop, and in the morning found new hoops on all his old hogsheads;
and that a man with a lantern and a ladder had been seen riding out
of town at midnight on a donkey, and that the same night the old
windmill, at Kloster St. Thomas, had been mended up, and the old
gate of the churchyard at Feldkirche made as good as new, though
nobody knew how the man got across the river. Then Frau Martha went
down to the Rheinkrahn and told all thesestories over again; and the
old ferryman of Fahr said he could tell something about it; for, the
very night that the churchyard-gate was mended, he was lying awake
in his bed, because he could not sleep, and he heard a loud knocking
at the door, and somebody calling to him to get up and set him over
the river. And when he got up, he saw a man down by the river with a
lantern and a ladder; but as he was going down to him, the man blew
out the light, and it was so dark he could not see who he was; and
his boat was old and leaky, and he was afraid to set him over in the
dark; but the man said he must be in Andernach that night; and so he
set him over. And after they had crossed the river, he watched the
man, till he came to an image of the Holy Virgin, and saw him put
the ladder against the wall, and go up and light his lamp, and then
walk along the street. And in the morning he found his old boat all
caulked, and tight, and painted red, and he could not for his
blessed life tell who did it, unless it werethe man with the
lantern. Dear soul! how strange it was!
"And so it went on for some time; and, whenever the man with the
lantern had been seen walking through the street at night, so sure
as the morning came, some work had been done for the sake of some
good soul; and everybody knew he did it; and yet nobody could find
out who he was, nor where he lived;--for, whenever they came near
him, he blew out his light, and turned down another street, and, if
they followed him, he suddenly disappeared, nobody could tell how.
And some said it was Rübezahl; and some, Pelz-Nickel; and some, St.
"Now one stormy night a poor, sinful creature was wandering about
the streets, with her babe in her arms, and she was hungry, and
cold, and no soul in Andernach would take her in. And when she came
to the church, where the great crucifix stands, she saw no light in
the little chapel at the corner; but she sat down on a stone at the
foot of the cross and began to pray, and prayed, till she fell
asleep, with her poor little babe on her bosom. But she did not
sleep long; for a bright light shone full in her face; and, when she
opened her eyes, she saw a pale man, with a lantern, standing right
before her. He was almost naked; and there was blood upon his hands
and body, and great tears in his beautiful eyes, and his face was
like the face of the Saviour on the cross. Not a single word did he
say to the poor woman; but looked at her compassionately, and gave
her a loaf of bread, and took the little babe in his arms, and
kissed it. Then the mother looked up to the great crucifix, but
there was no image there; and she shrieked and fell down as if she
were dead. And there she was found with her child; and a few days
after they both died, and were buried together in one grave. And
nobody would have believed her story, if a woman, who lived at the
corner, had not gone to the window, when she heard the scream, and
seen the figure hang the lantern up in its place, and then set the
ladder against the wall, and go up and nailitself to the cross.
Since that night it has never moved again. Ach! Herr Je!"
Such was the legend of the Christ of Andernach, as the old woman
in spectacles told it to Flemming. It made a painful impression on
his sick and morbid soul; and he felt now for the first time in full
force, how great is the power of popular superstition.
The post-chaise was now at the door, and Flemming was soon on the
road to Coblentz, a city which stands upon the Rhine, at the mouth
of the Mosel, opposite Ehrenbreitstein. It is by no means a long
drive from Andernach to Coblentz; and the only incident which
occurred to enliven the way was the appearance of a fat, red-faced
man on horseback, trotting slowly towards Andernach. As they met,
the mad little postilion gave him a friendly cut with his whip, and
broke out into an exclamation, which showed he was from Münster;
"Jesmariosp! my friend! How is the Man in the Custom-House?"
Now to any candid mind this would seem a fair question enough;
but not so thought the red-faced man on horseback; for he waxed
exceedingly angry, and replied, as the chaise whirled by;
"The devil take you, and your Westphalian ham, and
Flemming called to his servant, and the servant to the postilion,
for an explanation of this short dialogue; and the explanation was,
that on the belfry of the Kaufhaus in Coblentz, is a huge head, with
a brazen helmet and a beard; and whenever the clock strikes, at each
stroke of the hammer, this giant's head opens its great jaws and
smites its teeth together, as if, like the brazen head of Friar
Bacon, it would say; "Time was; Time is; Time is past." This figure
is known through all the country round about, as "The Man in the
Custom-House"; and, when a friend in the country meets a friend from
Coblentz, instead of saying, "How are all the good people in
Coblentz?"--he says, "How is the Man in the Custom-House?" Thus the
giant has a great partto play in the town; and thus ended the first
day of Flemming's Rhine-journey; and the only good deed he had done
was to give an alms to a poor beggar woman, who lifted up her
trembling hands and exclaimed;
"Thou blessed babe!"
CHAPTER III. HOMUNCULUS.
After all, a journey up the Rhine, in the mists and solitude of
December, is not so unpleasant as the reader may perhaps imagine.
You have the whole road and river to yourself. Nobody is on the
wing; hardly a single traveller. The ruins are the same; and the
river, and the outlines of the hills; and there are few living
figures in the landscape to wake you from your musings, distract
your thoughts, and cover you with dust.
Thus, likewise, thought our traveller, as he continued his
journey on the morrow. The day is overcast, and the clouds threaten
rain or snow. Why does he stop at the little village of Capellen?
Because, right above him on the high cliff, the glorious ruin of
Stolzenfels is looking at him with itshollow eyes, and beckoning to
him with its gigantic finger, as if to say; "Come up hither, and I
will tell thee an old tale." Therefore he alights, and goes up the
narrow village lane, and up the stone steps, and up the steep
pathway, and throws himself into the arms of that ancient ruin, and
holds his breath, to hear the quick footsteps of the falling snow,
like the footsteps of angels descending upon earth. And that ancient
ruin speaks to him with its hollow voice, and says;
"Beware of dreams! Beware of the illusions of fancy! Beware of
the solemn deceivings of thy vast desires! Beneath me flows the
Rhine, and, like the stream of Time, it flows amid the ruins of the
Past. I see myself therein, and I know that I am old. Thou, too,
shalt be old. Be wise in season. Like the stream of thy life, runs
the stream beneath us. Down from the distant Alps,--out into the
wide world, it bursts away, like a youth from the house of his
fathers. Broad-breasted and strong, and with earnest endeavours,
like manhood, it makes itself a way through these difficultmountain
passes. And at length, in its old age, its stops, and its steps are
weary and slow, and it sinks into the sand, and, through its grave,
passes into the great ocean, which is its eternity. Thus shall it be
"In ancient times there dwelt within these halls a follower of
Jesus of Jerusalem,--an Archbishop in the church of Christ. He gave
himself up to dreams; to the illusions of fancy; to the vast desires
of the human soul. He sought after the impossible. He sought after
the Elixir of Life,--the Philosopher's Stone. The wealth, that
should have fed the poor, was melted in his crucibles. Within these
walls the Eagle of the clouds sucked the blood of the Red Lion, and
received the spiritual Love of the Green Dragon, but alas! was
childless. In solitude and utter silence did the disciple of the
Hermetic Philosophy toil from day to day, from night to night. From
the place where thou standest, he gazed at evening upon hills, and
vales, and waters spread beneath him; and saw how the setting sun
had changed them allto gold, by an alchymy more cunning than his
own. He saw the world beneath his feet; and said in his heart, that
he alone was wise. Alas! he read more willingly in the book of
Paracelsus, than in the book of Nature; and, believing that `where
reason hath experience, faith hath no mind,' would fain have made
unto himself a child, not as Nature teaches us, but as the
Philosopher taught,--a poor homunculus, in a glass bottle. And he
died poor and childless!"
Whether it were worth while to climb the Stolzenfels to hear such
a homily as this, some persons may perhaps doubt. But Paul Flemming
doubted not. He laid the lesson to heart; and it would have saved
him many an hour of sorrow, if he had learned that lesson better,
and remembered it longer.
In ancient times, there stood in the citadel of Athens three
statues of Minerva. The first was of olive wood, and, according to
popular tradition, had fallen from heaven. The second was of bronze,
commemorating the victory of Marathon; and the third of gold and
ivory,--a great miracle of art, in the age of Pericles. And thus in
the citadel of Time stands Man himself. In childhood, shaped of soft
and delicate wood, just fallen from heaven; in manhood, a statue of
bronze, commemorating struggle and victory; and lastly, in the
maturity of age, perfectly shaped in gold and ivory,--a miracle of
Flemming had already lived through the oliveage. He was passing
into the age of bronze, into his early manhood; and in his hands the
flowers of Paradise were changing to the sword and shield.
And this reminds me, that I have not yet described my hero. I
will do it now, as he stands looking down on the glorious
landscape;--but in few words. Both in person and character he
resembled Harold, the Fair-Hair of Norway, who is described, in the
old Icelandic Death-Song of Regner Hairy-Breeches, as "the young
chief so proud of his flowing locks; he who spent his mornings among
the young maidens; he who loved toconverse with the handsome
widows." This was an amiable weakness; and it sometimes led him into
mischief. Imagination was the ruling power of his mind. His thoughts
were twin-born; the thought itself, and its figurative semblance in
the outer world. Thus, through the quiet, still waters of his soul
each image floated double, "swan and shadow."
These traits of character, a good heart and a poetic imagination,
made his life joyous and the world beautiful; till at length Death
cut down the sweet, blue flower, that bloomed beside him, and
wounded him with that sharp sickle, so that he bowed his head, and
would fain have been bound up in the same sheaf with the sweet, blue
flower. Then the world seemed to him less beautiful, and life became
earnest. It would have been well if he could have forgotten the
past; that he might not so mournfully have lived in it, but might
have enjoyed and improved the present. But this his heart refused to
do; and ever, as he floated upon the great sea of life, he looked
down through thetransparent waters, checkered with sunshine and
shade, into the vast chambers of the mighty deep, in which his
happier days had sunk, and wherein they were lying still visible,
like golden sands, and precious stones, and pearls; and, half in
despair, half in hope, he grasped downward after them again, and
drew back his hand, filled only with seaweed, and dripping with
briny tears!--And between him and those golden sands, a radiant
image floated, like the spirit in Dante's Paradise, singing
"Ave-Maria!" and while it sang, down-sinking, and slowly vanishing
The truth is, that in all things he acted more from impulse than
from fixed principle; as is the case with most young men. Indeed,
his principles hardly had time to take root; for he pulled them all
up, every now and then, as children do the flowers they have
planted,--to see if they are growing. Yet there was much in him
which was good; for underneath the flowers and green-sward of
poetry, and the good principles which would have taken root, had he
given them time, therelay a strong and healthy soil of common
sense,--freshened by living springs of feeling, and enriched by many
faded hopes, that had fallen upon it like dead leaves.
CHAPTER IV. THE LANDLADY'S DAUGHTER.
"Allez Fuchs! allez lustig!" cried the impatient postilion to his
horses, in accents, which, like the wild echo of the Lurley Felsen,
came first from one side of the river, and then from the
other,--that is to say, in words alternately French and German. The
truth is, he was tired of waiting; and when Flemming had at length
resumed his seat in the post-chaise, the poor horses had to make up
the time lost in dreams on the mountain. This is far oftener the
case, than most people imagine. One half of the world has to sweat
and groan, that the other half may dream. It would have been a
difficult task for the traveller or his postilion to persuade the
horses, that these dreams were all for their good.
The next stopping-place was the little tavern of the Star, an
out-of-the-way corner in the town of Salzig. It stands on the banks
of the Rhine; and, directly in front of it, sheer from the water's
edge, rise the mountains of Liebenstein and Sternenfels, each with
its ruined castle. These are the Brothers of the old tradition,
still gazing at each other face to face; and beneath them in the
valley stands a cloister,--meek emblem of that orphan child, they
both so passionately loved.
In a small, flat-bottomed boat did the landlady's daughter row
Flemming "over the Rhine-stream, rapid and roaring wide." She was a
beautiful girl of sixteen; with black hair, and dark, lovely eyes,
and a face that had a story to tell. How different faces are in this
particular! Some of them speak not. They are books in which not a
line is written, save perhaps a date. Others are great family
bibles, with all the Old and New Testament written in them. Others
are Mother Goose and nursery tales;--others bad tragedies or
pickle-herring farces; and others, like that of the landlady's
daughter at the Star, sweet love-anthologies, and songs of the
affections. It was on that account, that Flemming said to her, as
they glided out into the swift stream;
"My dear child! do you know the story of the Liebenstein?"
"The story of the Liebenstein," she answered, "I got by heart,
when I was a little child."
And here her large, dark, passionate eyes looked into Flemming's,
and he doubted not, that she had learned the story far too soon, and
far too well. That story he longed to hear, as if it were unknown to
him; for he knew that the girl, who had got it by heart when a
child, would tell it as it should be told. So he begged her to
repeat the story, which she was but too glad to do; for she loved
and believed it, as if it had all been written in the Bible. But
before she began, she rested a moment on her oars, and taking the
crucifix, which hung suspended from her neck, kissed it, and then
let it sink down into her bosom, as if it were an anchor she was
letting down into her heart. Meanwhile her moist, dark eyes were
turned to heaven. Perhaps her soul was walking with the souls of
Cunizza, and Rahab, and Mary Magdalen. Or perhaps she was thinking
of that Nun, of whom St. Gregory says, in his Dialogues, that,
having greedily eaten a lettuce in a garden, without making the sign
of the cross, she found herself soon after possessed with a
The probability, however, is, that she was looking up to the
ruined castles only, and not to heaven, for she soon began her
story, and told Flemming how, a great, great many years ago, an old
man lived in the Liebenstein with his two sons; and how both the
young men loved the Lady Geraldine, an orphan, under their father's
care; and how the elder brother went away in despair, and the
younger was betrothed to the Lady Geraldine; and how they were as
happy as Aschenputtel and the Prince. And then the holy Saint
Bernard came and carried away all the young men to the war, just as
Napoleon did afterwards; and the young lord went to the Holy Land,
and the Lady Geraldine sat in her tower and wept, and waited for her
lover's return, while the old father built the Sternenfels for them
to live in when they were married. And when it was finished, the old
man died; and the elder brother came back and lived in the
Liebenstein, and took care of the gentle Lady. Ere long there came
news from the Holy Land, that the war was over; and the heart of the
gentle Lady beat with joy, till she heard that her faithless lover
was coming back with a Greek wife,--the wicked man! and then she
went into a convent and became a holy nun. So the young lord of
Sternenfels came home, and lived in his castle in great splendor
with the Greek woman, who was a wicked woman, and did what she ought
not to do. But the elder brother was angry for the wrong done the
gentle Lady, and challenged the lord of Sternenfels to single
combat. And, while they were fighting with their great swords in the
valley of Bornhofen behind the castle, the convent bells began to
ring, and the Lady Geraldine came forth with a train of nuns
alldressed in white, and made the brothers friends again, and told
them she was the bride of Heaven, and happier in her convent than
she could have been in the Liebenstein or the Sternenfels. And when
the brothers returned, they found that the false Greek wife had gone
away with another knight. So they lived together in peace, and were
never married. And when they died--"
"Lisbeth! Lisbeth!" cried a sharp voice from the shore, "Lisbeth!
Where are you taking the gentleman?"
This recalled the poor girl to her senses; and she saw how fast
they were floating down stream. For in telling the story she had
forgotten every thing else, and the swift current had swept them
down to the tall walnut trees of Kamp. They landed in front of the
Capucin Monastery. Lisbeth led the way through the little village,
and turning to the right pointed up the romantic, lonely valley
which leads to the Liebenstein, and even offered to go up. But
Flemming patted her cheek and shook his head. He went up the valley
CHAPTER V. JEAN PAUL, THE ONLY-ONE.
The man in the play, who wished for `some forty pounds of lovely
beef, placed in a Mediterranean sea of brewis,' might have seen his
ample desires almost realized at the table d'hôte of the Rheinischen
Hof, in Mayence, where Flemming dined that day. At the head of the
table sat a gentleman, with a smooth, broad forehead, and large,
intelligent eyes. He was from Baireuth in Franconia; and talked
about poetry and Jean Paul, to a pale, romantic-looking lady on his
right. There was music all dinner-time, at the other end of the
hall; a harp and a horn and a voice; so that a great part of the fat
gentleman's conversation with the pale lady was lost to Flemming,
who sat opposite to her, and could look right into her large,
melancholy eyes. But what heheard, so much interested him,--indeed,
the very name of the beloved Jean Paul would have been enough for
this,--that he ventured to join in the conversation, and asked the
German if he had known the poet personally.
"Yes; I knew him well," replied the stranger. "I am a native of
Baireuth, where he passed the best years of his life. In my mind the
man and the author are closely united. I never read a page of his
writings without hearing his voice, and seeing his form before me.
There he sits, with his majestic, mountainous forehead, his mild
blue eyes, and finely cut nose and mouth; his massive frame clad
loosely and carelessly in an old green frock, from the pockets of
which the corners of books project, and perhaps the end of a loaf of
bread, and the nose of a bottle;--a straw hat, lined with green,
lying near him; a huge walking-stick in his hand, and at his feet a
white poodle, with pink eyes and a string round his neck. You would
sooner have taken him for a master-carpenter than for a poet. Is he
a favorite author of yours?"
Flemming answered in the affirmative.
"But a foreigner must find it exceedingly difficult to understand
him," said the gentleman. "It is by no means an easy task for us
"I have always observed," replied Flemming, "that the true
understanding and appreciation of a poet depend more upon
individual, than upon national character. If there be a sympathy
between the minds of writer and reader, the bounds and barriers of a
foreign tongue are soon overleaped. If you once understand an
author's character, the comprehension of his writings becomes
"Very true," replied the German, "and the character of Richter is
too marked to be easily misunderstood. Its prominent traits are
tenderness and manliness,--qualities, which are seldom found united
in so high a degree as in him. Over all he sees, over all he writes,
are spread the sunbeams of a cheerful spirit,--the light of
inexhaustible human love. Every sound of human joy and of human
sorrow finds a deep-resoundingecho in his bosom. In every man, he
loves his humanity only, not his superiority. The avowed object of
all his literary labors was to raise up again the down-sunken faith
in God, virtue, and immortality; and, in an egotistical,
revolutionary age, to warm again our human sympathies, which have
now grown cold. And not less boundless is his love for nature,--for
this outward, beautiful world. He embraces it all in his arms."
"Yes," answered Flemming, almost taking the words out of the
stranger's mouth, "for in his mind all things become idealized. He
seems to describe himself when he describes the hero of his Titan,
as a child, rocking in a high wind upon the branches of a
full-blossomed apple-tree, and, as its summit, blown abroad by the
wind, now sunk him in deep green, and now tossed him aloft in deep
blue and glancing sunshine,--in his imagination stood that tree
gigantic;--it grew alone in the universe, as if it were the tree of
eternal life; its roots struck down into the abyss; the white and
red clouds hung as blossoms upon it; the moon asfruit; the little
stars sparkled like dew, and Albano reposed in its measureless
summit; and a storm swayed the summit out of Day into Night, and out
of Night into Day."
"Yet the spirit of love," interrupted the Franconian, "was not
weakness, but strength. It was united in him with great manliness.
The sword of his spirit had been forged and beaten by poverty. Its
temper had been tried by a thirty years' war. It was not broken, not
even blunted; but rather strengthened and sharpened by the blows it
gave and received. And, possessing this noble spirit of humanity,
endurance, and self-denial, he made literature his profession; as if
he had been divinely commissioned to write. He seems to have cared
for nothing else, to have thought of nothing else, than living
quietly and making books. He says, that he felt it his duty, not to
enjoy, nor to acquire, but to write; and boasted, that he had made
as many books as he had lived years."
"And what do you Germans consider the prominent characteristics
of his genius?"
"Most undoubtedly his wild imagination and his playfulness. He
throws over all things a strange and magic coloring. You are
startled at the boldness and beauty of his figures and
illustrations, which are scattered everywhere with a reckless
prodigality;--multitudinous, like the blossoms of early summer,--and
as fragrant and beautiful. With a thousand extravagances are mingled
ten thousand beauties of thought and expression, which kindle the
reader's imagination, and lead it onward in a bold flight, through
the glow of sunrise and sunset, and the dewy coldness and starlight
of summer nights. He is difficult to understand,--intricate,--
strange,--drawing his illustrations from every by-corner of science,
art, and nature,--a comet, among the bright stars of German
literature. When you read his works, it is as if you were climbing a
high mountain, in merry company, to see the sun rise. At times you
are enveloped in mist,--the morning wind sweeps by you with a
shout,--you hear the far-off muttering thunders. Wide beneath you
spreads the landscape,--field, meadow, town, and winding river. The
ringing of distant church-bells, or the sound of solemn village
clock, reaches you;--then arises the sweet and manifold fragrance of
flowers,--the birds begin to sing,--the vapors roll away,--up comes
the glorious sun,--you revel like the lark in the sunshine and
bright blue heaven, and all is a delirious dream of soul and
sense,--when suddenly a friend at your elbow laughs aloud, and
offers you a piece of Bologna sausage. As in real life, so in his
writings,--the serious and the comic, the sublime and the grotesque,
the pathetic and the ludicrous are mingled together. At times he is
sententious, energetic, simple; then again, obscure and diffuse. His
thoughts are like mummies embalmed in spices, and wrapped about with
curious envelopements; but within these the thoughts themselves are
kings. At times glad, beautiful images, airy forms, move by you,
graceful, harmonious;--at times the glaring, wild-looking fancies,
chained together by hyphens, brackets, and dashes, brave and base,
high and low, all in their motley dresses, go sweeping down the
dusty page, like the galley-slaves, that sweep the streets of Rome,
where you may chance to see the nobleman and the peasant manacled
Flemming smiled at the German's warmth, to which the presence of
the lady, and the Laubenheimer wine, seemed each to have contributed
something, and then said;
"Better an outlaw, than not free!--These are his own words. And
thus he changes at his will. Like the God Thor, of the old Northern
mythology, he now holds forth the seven bright stars in the bright
heaven above us, and now hides himself in clouds, and pounds away
with his great hammer."
"And yet this is not affectation in him," rejoined the German.
"It is his nature, it is Jean Paul. And the figures and ornaments of
his style, wild, fantastic, and oft-times startling, like those in
Gothic cathedrals, are not merely what they seem, but massive
coignes and buttresses, which support the fabric. Remove them, and
the roofand walls fall in. And through these gurgoyles, these wild
faces, carved upon spouts and gutters, flow out, like gathered rain,
the bright, abundant thoughts, that have fallen from heaven.
"And all he does, is done with a kind of serious playfulness. He
is a sea-monster, disporting himself on the broad ocean; his very
sport is earnest; there is something majestic and serious about it.
In every thing there is strength, a rough good-nature, all sunshine
overhead, and underneath the heavy moaning of the sea. Well may he
be called `Jean Paul, the Only-One.'"
With such discourse the hour of dinner passed; and after dinner
Flemming went to the Cathedral. They were singing vespers. A beadle,
dressed in blue, with a cocked hat, and a crimson sash and collar,
was strutting, like a turkey, along the aisles. This important
gentleman conducted Flemming through the church, and showed him the
choir, with its heavy-sculptured stalls of oak, and the beautiful
figures in brown stone, over the bishops' tombs. He then led him, by
a side-door, into theold and ruined cloisters of St. Willigis.
Through the low gothic arches the sunshine streamed upon the
pavement of tombstones, whose images and inscriptions are mostly
effaced by the footsteps of many generations. There stands the tomb
of Frauenlob, the Minnesinger. His face is sculptured on an
entablature in the wall; a fine, strongly-marked, and serious
countenance. Below it is a bas-relief, representing the poet's
funeral. He is carried to his grave by ladies, whose praise he sang,
and thereby won the name of Frauenlob.
"This then," said Flemming, "is the grave, not of Praise-God
Bare-bones, but of Praise-the-Ladies Meissen, who wrote songs
`somewhat of lust, and somewhat of love.' But where sleeps the dust
of his rival and foe, sweet Master Bartholomew Rainbow?"
He meant this for an aside; but the turkey-cock picked it up and
"I do not know. He did not belong to this parish."
It was already night, when Flemming crossedthe Roman bridge over
the Nahe, and entered the town of Bingen. He stopped at the White
Horse; and, before going to bed, looked out into the dim starlight
from his window towards the Rhine, and his heart leaped up to behold
the bold outline of the neighbouring hills crested with Gothic
ruins;--which in the morning proved to be only a high, slated roof
with fantastic chimneys.
The morning was bright and frosty; and the river tinged with gay
colors from the rising sun. A soft, thin vapor floated in the air.
In the sunbeams flashed the hoar-frost, like silver stars; and
through a long avenue of trees, whose dripping branches bent and
scattered pearls before him, Paul Flemming journeyed on in
I will not prolong this journey, for I am weary and way-worn, and
would fain be at Heidelberg with my readers, and my hero. It was
already night when he reached the Manheim gate, and drove down the
long Hauptstrasse so slowly, that it seemed to him endless. The
shops werelighted on each side of the street, and he saw faces at
the windows here and there, and figures passing in the lamp-light,
visible for a moment and then swallowed up in the darkness. The
thoughts that filled his mind were strange; as are always the
thoughts of a traveller, who enters for the first time a strange
city. This little world had been going on for centuries before he
came; and would go on for centuries after he was gone. Of all the
thousands who inhabited it he knew nothing; and what knew they, or
thought, of the stranger, who, in that close post-chaise, weary with
travel, and chilled by the evening wind, was slowly rumbling over
the paved street! Truly, this world can go on without us, if we
would but think so. If it had been a hearse instead of a
post-chaise, it would have been all the same to the people of
Heidelberg,--though by no means the same to Paul Flemming.
But at the farther end of the city, near the Castle and the
Carls-Thor, one warm heart was waiting to receive him; and this was
the German heart of his friend, the Baron of Hohenfels, with whom he
was to pass the winter in Heidelberg. No sooner had the carriage
stopped at the irongrated gate, and the postilion blown his horn, to
announce the arrival of a traveller, than the Baron was seen among
the servants at the door; and, a few moments afterwards, the two
long-absent friends were in each other's arms, and Flemming received
a kiss upon each cheek, and another on the mouth, as the pledge and
seal of the German's friendship. They held each other long by the
hand, and looked into each other's faces, and saw themselves in each
other's eyes, both literally and figuratively; literally, inasmuch
as the images were there; and figuratively, inasmuch as each was
imagining what the other thought of him, after the lapse of some
years. In friendly hopes and questionings and answers, the evening
glided away at the supper-table, where many more things were
discussed than the roasted hare, and the Johannisberger; and they
sat late into the night, conversing of the thoughts and feelings and
delights, which fill the hearts of young men, who have already
enjoyed and suffered, and hoped and been disappointed.
CHAPTER VI. HEIDELBERG AND THE BARON.
High and hoar on the forehead of the Jettenbühl stands the Castle
of Heidelberg. Behind it rise the oak-crested hills of the Geissberg
and the Kaiserstuhl; and in front, from the broad terrace of
masonry, you can almost throw a stone upon the roofs of the city, so
close do they lie beneath. Above this terrace rises the broad front
of the chapel of Saint Udalrich. On the left, stands the slender
octagon tower of the horologe, and, on the right, a huge round
tower, battered and shattered by the mace of war, shores up with its
broad shoulders the beautiful palace and garden-terrace of
Elisabeth, wife of the Pfalzgraf Frederick. In the rear are older
palaces and towers, forming a vast, irregular quadrangle;--Rodolph's
ancientcastle, with its Gothic gloriette and fantastic gables; the
Giant's Tower, guarding the drawbridge over the moat; the Rent
Tower, with the linden-trees growing on its summit, and the
magnificent Rittersaal of Otho-Henry, Count Palatine of the Rhine
and grand seneschal of the Holy Roman Empire. From the gardens
behind the castle, you pass under the archway of the Giant's Tower
into the great court-yard. The diverse architecture of different
ages strikes the eye; and curious sculptures. In niches on the wall
of Saint Udalrich's chapel stand rows of knights in armour, all
broken and dismembered; and on the front of Otho's Rittersaal, the
heroes of Jewish history and classic fable. You enter the open and
desolate chambers of the ruin; and on every side are medallions and
family arms; the Globe of the Empire and the Golden Fleece, or the
Eagle of the Cĉsars, resting on the escutcheons of Bavaria and the
Palatinate. Over the windows and door-ways and chimney-pieces, are
sculptures and mouldings of exquisite workmanship; and the eyeis
bewildered by the profusion of caryatides, and arabesques, and
rosettes, and fan-like flutings, and garlands of fruits and flowers
and acorns, and bullocks'-heads with draperies of foliage, and
muzzles of lions, holding rings in their teeth. The cunning hand of
Art was busy for six centuries, in raising and adorning these walls;
the mailed hands of Time and War have defaced and overthrown them in
less than two. Next to the Alhambra of Granada, the Castle of
Heidelberg is the most magnificent ruin of the Middle Ages.
In the valley below flows the rushing stream of the Neckar. Close
from its margin, on the opposite side, rises the Mountain of All
Saints, crowned with the ruins of a convent; and up the valley
stretches the mountain-curtain of the Odenwald. So close and many
are the hills, which eastward shut the valley in, that the river
seems a lake. But westward it opens, upon the broad plain of the
Rhine, like the mouth of a trumpet; and like the blast of a trumpet
is at times the wintry wind through this narrow mountain pass. The
blue Alsatian hills rise beyond; and, on a platform or strip of level
land, between the Neckar and the mountains, right under the castle,
stands the city of Heidelberg; as the old song says, "a pleasant
city, when it has done raining."
Something of this did Paul Flemming behold, when he rose the next
morning and looked from his window. It was a warm, vapory morning,
and a struggle was going on between the mist and the rising sun. The
sun had taken the hill-tops, but the mist still kept possession of
the valley and the town. The steeple of the great church rose
through a dense mass of snow-white clouds; and eastward, on the
hills, the dim vapors were rolling across the windows of the ruined
castle, like the fiery smoke of a great conflagration. It seemed to
him an image of the rising of the sun of Truth on a benighted world;
its light streamed through the ruins of centuries; and, down in the
valley of Time, the cross on the Christian church caught its rays,
though the priests were singing in mist and darkness below.
In the warm breakfast-parlour he found the Baron, waiting for
him. He was lying upon a sofa, in morning gown and purple-velvet
slippers, both with flowers upon them. He had a guitar in his hand,
and a pipe in his mouth, at the same time smoking, playing, and
humming his favorite song from Goethe;
"The water rushed, the water swelled,
A fisher sat thereby."
Flemming could hardly refrain from laughing at the sight of his
friend; and told him it reminded him of a street-musician he once
saw in Aix-la-Chapelle, who was playing upon six instruments at
once; having a helmet with bells on his head, a Pan's-reed in his
cravat, a fiddle in his hand, a triangle on his knee, cymbals on his
heels, and on his back a bass-drum, which he played with his elbows.
To tell the truth, the Baron of Hohenfels was rather a miscellaneous
youth, rather a universal genius. He pursued all things with
eagerness, but for a short time only; music, poetry, painting,
pleasure, even the study of the Pandects. Hisfeelings were keenly
alive to the enjoyment of life. His great defect was, that he was
too much in love with human nature. But by the power of imagination,
in him, the bearded goat was changed to a bright Capricornus:--no
longer an animal on earth, but a constellation in heaven. An easy
and indolent disposition made him gentle and childlike in his
manners; and, in short, the beauty of his character, like that of
the precious opal, was owing to a defect in its organization. His
person was tall and slightly built; his hair light; and his eyes
blue, and as beautiful as those of a girl. In the tones of his
voice, there was something indescribably gentle and winning; and he
spoke the German language, with the soft, musical accent of his
native province of Curland. In his manners, if he had not `Antinous'
easy sway,' he had at least an easy sway of his own. Such, in few
words, was the bosom friend of Flemming.
"And what do you think of Heidelberg and the old castle up
there?" said he, as they seated themselves at the
"Last night the town seemed very long to me," replied Flemming; "and
as to the castle, I have as yet had but a glimpse of it through the
mist. They tell me there is nothing finer in its way, excepting the
Alhambra of Granada; and no doubt I shall find it so. Only I wish
the stone were gray and not red. But, red or gray, I foresee that I
shall waste many a long hour in its desolate halls. Pray, does
anybody live up there now-a-days?"
"Nobody," answered the Baron, "but the man, who shows the
Heidelberg Ton, and Monsieur Charles de Grainberg, a Frenchman, who
has been there sketching ever since the year eighteen-hundred and
ten. He has, moreover, written a super-magnificent description of
the ruin, in which he says, that during the day only birds of prey
disturb it with their piercing cries, and at night, screech-owls,
and other fallow deer. These are his own words. You must buy his
book and his sketches."
"Yes, the quotation and the tone of your voice will certainly
persuade me so to do."
"Take his or none, my friend, for you will find no others. And
seriously, his sketches are very good. There is one on the wall
there, which is beautiful, save and except that straddle-bug figure
among the bushes in the corner."
"But is there no ghost, no haunted chamber in the old castle?"
asked Flemming, after casting a hasty glance at the picture.
"Oh, certainly," replied the Baron; "there are two. There is the
ghost of the Virgin Mary in Ruprecht's Tower, and the Devil in the
"Ha! that is grand!" exclaimed Flemming, with evident delight.
"Tell me the whole story, quickly! I am as curious as a child."
"It is a tale of the times of Louis the Debonnaire," said the
Baron, with a smile; "a mouldy tradition of a credulous age. His
brother Frederick lived here in the castle with him, and had a
flirtation with Leonore von Luzelstein, a lady of the court, whom he
afterwards despised, and was consequently most cordially hated by
her. Frompolitical motives he was equally hateful to certain petty
German tyrants, who, in order to effect his ruin, accused him of
heresy. But his brother Louis would not deliver him up to their
fury, and they resolved to effect by stratagem, what they could not
by intrigue. Accordingly, Leonore von Luzelstein, disguised as the
Virgin Mary, and the father confessor of the Elector, in the costume
of Satan, made their appearance in the Elector's bed-chamber at
midnight, and frightened him so horribly, that he consented to
deliver up his brother into the hands of two Black Knights, who
pretended to be ambassadors from the Vehm-Gericht. They proceeded
together to Frederick's chamber; where luckily old Gemmingen, a
brave soldier, kept guard behind the arras. The monk went foremost
in his Satanic garb; but, no sooner had he set foot in the prince's
bed-chamber, than the brave Gemmingen drew his sword, and said
quaintly, `Die, wretch!' and so he died. The rest took to their
heels, and were heard of no more. And now the souls of Leonore and
the monk haunt the scene of their midnight crime. You will find the
story in Grainberg's book, worked up with a kind of red-morocco and
burnt-cork sublimity, and great melo-dramatic clanking of chains,
and hooting of owls, and other fallow deer!"
"After breakfast," said Flemming, "we will go up to the castle. I
must get acquainted with this mirror of owls, this modern Till
Eulenspiegel. See what a glorious morning we have! It is truly a
wondrous winter! what summer sunshine; what soft Venetian fogs! How
the wanton, treacherous air coquets with the old gray-beard trees!
Such weather makes the grass and our beards grow apace! But we have
an old saying in English, that winter never rots in the sky. So he
will come down at last in his old-fashioned, mealy coat. We shall
have snow in spring; and the blossoms will be all snow-flakes. And
afterwards a summer, which will be no summer, but, as Jean Paul
says, only a winter painted green. Is it not so?"
"Unless I am much deceived in the climate of Heidelberg," replied
the Baron, "we shall not have to wait long for snow. We have sudden
changes here, and I should not marvel much if it snowed before
"The greater reason for making good use of the morning sunshine,
then. Let us hasten to the castle, after which my heart yearns."
CHAPTER VII. LIVES OF SCHOLARS.
The forebodings of the Baron proved true. In the afternoon the
weather changed. The western wind began to blow, and its breath drew
a cloud-veil over the face of heaven, as a breath does over the
human face in a mirror. Soon the snow began to fall. Athwart the
distant landscape it swept like a white mist. The storm-wind came
from the Alsatian hills, and struck the dense clouds aslant through
the air. And ever faster fell the snow, a roaring torrent from those
mountainous clouds. The setting sun glared wildly from the summit of
the hills, and sank like a burning ship at sea, wrecked in the
tempest. Thus the evening set in; and winter stood at the gate
wagging his white and shaggy beard, like an old harper, chanting an
old rhyme:--"How cold it is! how cold it is!"
"I like such a storm as this," said Flemming, who stood at the
window, looking out into the tempest and the gathering darkness.
"The silent falling of snow is to me one of the most solemn things
in nature. The fall of autumnal leaves does not so much affect me.
But the driving storm is grand. It startles me; it awakens me. It is
wild and woful, like my own soul. I cannot help thinking of the sea;
how the waves run and toss their arms about,--and the wind plays on
those great harps, made by the shrouds and masts of ships. Winter is
here in earnest! Whew! How the old churl whistles and threshes the
snow! Sleet and rain are falling too. Already the trees are bearded
with icicles; and the two broad branches of yonder pine look like
the white mustache of some old German Baron."
"And to-morrow it will look more wintry still," said his friend.
"We shall wake up and find that the frost-spirit has been at work
all night building Gothic Cathedrals on our windows, just as the
devil built the Cathedral of Cologne. Sodraw the curtains, and come
sit here by the warm fire."
"And now," said Flemming, having done as his friend desired,
"tell me something of Heidelberg and its University. I suppose we
shall lead about as solitary and studious a life here as we did of
yore in little Göttingen, with nothing to amuse us, save our own
"Pretty much so," replied the Baron; "which cannot fail to please
you, since you are in pursuit of tranquillity. As to the University,
it is, as you know, one of the oldest in Germany. It was founded in
the fourteenth century by the Count Palatine Ruprecht, and had in
the first year more than five hundred students, all busily
committing to memory, after the old scholastic wise, the rules of
grammar versified by Alexander de Villa Dei, and the extracts made
by Peter the Spaniard from Michel Psellus's Synopsis of Aristotle's
Organon, and the Categories, with Porphory's Commentaries. Truly, I
do not much wonder, that Eregina Scotus should have been put to
death byhis scholars with their penknives. They must have been
pushed to the very verge of despair."
"What a strange picture a University presents to the imagination.
The lives of scholars in their cloistered stillness;--literary men
of retired habits, and Professors who study sixteen hours a day, and
never see the world but on a Sunday. Nature has, no doubt, for some
wise purpose, placed in their hearts this love of literary labor and
seclusion. Otherwise, who would feed the undying lamp of thought?
But for such men as these, a blast of wind through the chinks and
crannies of this old world, or the flapping of a conqueror's banner,
would blow it out forever. The light of the soul is easily
extinguished. And whenever I reflect upon these things I become
aware of the great importance, in a nation's history, of the
individual fame of scholars and literary men. I fear, that it is far
greater than the world is willing to acknowledge; or, perhaps I
should say, than the world has thought of acknowledging. Blot out
from England's history the names of Chaucer, Shakspere, Spenser, and
Milton only, and how much of her glory would you blot out with them!
Take from Italy such names as Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Michel
Angelo, and Raphael, and how much would still be wanting to the
completeness of her glory! How would the history of Spain look if
the leaves were torn out, on which are written the names of
Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Calderon! What would be the fame of
Portugal, without her Camoens; of France, without her Racine, and
Rabelais, and Voltaire; or Germany, without her Martin Luther, her
Goethe, and Schiller!--Nay, what were the nations of old, without
their philosophers, poets, and historians! Tell me, do not these men
in all ages and in all places, emblazon with bright colors the
armorial bearings of their country? Yes, and far more than this; for
in all ages and all places they give humanity assurance of its
greatness; and say; Call not this time or people wholly barbarous;
for thus much, even then and there, could the human mind achieve!
But the boisterous world has hardlythought of acknowledging all
this. Therein it has shown itself somewhat ungrateful. Else, whence
the great reproach, the general scorn, the loud derision, with
which, to take a familiar example, the monks of the Middle Ages are
regarded! That they slept their lives away is most untrue. For in an
age when books were few,--so few, so precious, that they were often
chained to their oaken shelves with iron chains, like galley-slaves
to their benches, these men, with their laborious hands, copied upon
parchment all the lore and wisdom of the past, and transmitted it to
us. Perhaps it is not too much to say, that, but for these monks,
not one line of the classics would have reached our day. Surely,
then, we can pardon something to those superstitious ages, perhaps
even the mysticism of the scholastic philosophy, since, after all,
we can find no harm in it, only the mistaking of the possible for
the real, and the high aspirings of the human mind after a
long-sought and unknown somewhat. I think the name of Martin Luther,
the monk of Wittemberg, alone sufficient to redeem all monkhoodfrom
the reproach of laziness! If this will not, perhaps the vast folios
of Thomas Aquinas will;--or the countless manuscripts, still
treasured in old libraries, whose yellow and wrinkled pages remind
one of the hands that wrote them, and the faces that once bent over
"An eloquent homily," said the Baron laughing, "a most touching
appeal in behalf of suffering humanity! For my part, I am no friend
of this entire seclusion from the world. It has a very injurious
effect on the mind of a scholar. The Chinese proverb is true; a
single conversation across the table with a wise man, is better than
ten years' mere study of books. I have known some of these literary
men, who thus shut themselves up from the world. Their minds never
come in contact with those of their fellow-men. They read little.
They think much. They are mere dreamers. They know not what is new
nor what is old. They often strike upon trains of thought, which
stand written in good authors some century or so back, and are even
current in the mouths of men aroundthem. But they know it not; and
imagine they are bringing forward something very original, when they
publish their thoughts."
"It reminds me," replied Flemming, "of what Dr. Johnson said of
Goldsmith, when he proposed to travel abroad in order to bring home
improvements;--`He will bring home a wheelbarrow, and call that an
improvement.' It is unfortunately the same with some of these
"And the worst of it is," said the Baron, "that, in solitude,
some fixed idea will often take root in the mind, and grow till it
overshadow all one's thoughts. To this must all opinions come; no
thought can enter there, which shall not be wedded to the fixed
idea. There it remains, and grows. It is like the watchman's wife,
in the tower of Waiblingen, who grew to such a size, that she could
not get down the narrow stair-case; and, when her husband died, his
successor was forced to marry the fat widow in the tower."
"I remember an old English comedy," said Flemming laughing, "in
which a scholar is described, as a creature, that can strike fire in
the morning at his tinder-box,--put on a pair of lined
slippers,--sit ruminating till dinner, and then go to his meat when
the bell rings;--one that hath a peculiar gift in a cough, and a
license to spit;--or, if you will have him defined by negatives, he
is one that cannot make a good leg;--one that cannot eat a mess of
broth cleanly. What think you of that?"
"That it is just as people are always represented in English
comedy," said the Baron. "The portrait is
"And yet," continued Flemming, "no longer ago than yesterday, in
the Preface of a work by Dr. Rosenkranz, Professor of Philosophy in
the University of Halle, I read this passage."
He opened a book and read.
"Here in Halle, where we have no public garden and no Tivoli, no
London Exchange, no Paris Chamber of Deputies, no Berlin nor Vienna
Theatres, no Strassburg Minster, nor Salzburg Alps,--no Grecian
ruins nor fantastic Catholicism, in fine, nothing, which after one's
daily task is finished, can divert and refresh him, without his
knowing or caring how,--I consider the sight of a proof-sheet quite
as delightful as a walk in the Prater of Vienna. I fill my pipe very
quietly, take out my ink-stand and pens, seat myself in the corner
of my sofa, read, correct, and now for the first time really set
about thinking what I have written. To see this origin of a book,
this metamorphosis of manuscript into print, is a delight to which I
give myself up entirely. Look you, this melancholy pleasure, which
would have furnished the departed Voss with worthy matter for more
than one blessed Idyl--(the more so, as on such occasions, I am
generally arrayed in a morning gown, though I am sorry to say, not a
calamanco one, with great flowers;) this melancholy pleasure was
already grown here in Halle to a sweet, pedantic habit. Since I
began my hermit's life here, I have been printing; and so long as I
remain here, I shall keep on printing. In all probability, I shall
die with a proof-sheet in my hand."
"This," said Flemming, closing the book, "is no caricature by a
writer of comedy, but a portrait by a man's own hand. We can see by
it how easily, under certain circumstances, one may glide into
habits of seclusion, and in a kind of undress, slipshod hardihood,
with a pipe and a proof-sheet, defy the world. Into this state
scholars have too often fallen; thus giving some ground for the
prevalent opinion, that scholarship and rusticity are inseparable.
To me, I confess, it is painful to see the scholar and the world
assume so often a hostile attitude, and set each other at defiance.
Surely, it is a characteristic trait of a great and liberal mind,
that it recognises humanity in all its forms and conditions. I am a
student;--and always, when I sit alone at night, I recognise the
divinity of the student, as she reveals herself to me in the smoke
of the midnight lamp. But, because solitude and books are not
unpleasant to me,--nay, wished-for,--sought after,--shall I say to
my brother, Thou fool! Shall I take the world by the beard and say,
Thou art old, and mad!--Shall I look society in the face and say,
Thou art heartless!--Heartless! Beware of that word! Life, says very
wisely the good Jean Paul, Life in every shape, should be precious
to us, for the same reason that the Turks carefully collect every
scrap of paper that comes in their way, because the name of God may
be written upon it. Nothing is more true than this, yet nothing more
"If it be painful to see this misunderstanding between scholars
and the world," said the Baron, "I think it is still more painful to
see the private sufferings of authors by profession. How many have
languished in poverty, how many died broken-hearted, how many gone
mad with over-excitement and disappointed hopes! How instructive and
painfully interesting are their lives! with so many weaknesses,--so
much to pardon,--so much to pity,--so much to admire! I think he was
not so far out of the way, who said, that, next to the Newgate
Calendar, the Biography of Authors is the most sickening chapter in
the history of man."
"It is indeed enough to make one's heart ache!" interrupted
Flemming. "Only think of Johnson and Savage, rambling about the
streets of London at midnight, without a place to sleep in; Otway
starved to death; Cowley mad, and howling like a dog, through the
aisles of Chichester Cathedral, at the sound of church music; and
Goldsmith, strutting up Fleet Street in his peach-blossom coat, to
knock a bookseller over the pate with one of his own volumes; and
then, in his poverty, about to marry his landlady in Green Arbour
"A life of sorrow and privation, a hard life, indeed, do these
poor devil authors have of it," replied the Baron; "and then at last
must get them to the work-house, or creep away into some hospital to
"After all," said Flemming with a sigh, "poverty is not a
"But something worse," interrupted the Baron; "as Dufresny said,
when he married his laundress, because he could not pay her bill.
Hewas the author, as you know, of the opera of Lot; at whose
representation the great pun was made;--I say the great pun, as we
say the great ton of Heidelberg. As one of the performers was
singing the line, `L'amour a vaincu Loth,' (vingt culottes,) a voice
from the pit cried out, `Qu'il en donne une à l'auteur!'"
Flemming laughed at the unseasonable jest; and then, after a
short pause, continued;
"And yet, if you look closely at the causes of these calamities
of authors, you will find, that many of them spring from false and
exaggerated ideas of poetry and the poetic character; and from
disdain of common sense, upon which all character, worth having, is
founded. This comes from keeping aloof from the world, apart from
our fellow-men; disdainful of society, as frivolous. By too much
sitting still the body becomes unhealthy; and soon the mind. This is
nature's law. She will never see her children wronged. If the mind,
which rules the body, ever forgets itself so far as to trample upon
its slave, the slave is never generousenough to forgive the injury;
but will rise and smite its oppressor. Thus has many a monarch mind
"After all," said the Baron, "we must pardon much to men of
genius. A delicate organization renders them keenly susceptible to
pain and pleasure. And then they idealize every thing; and, in the
moonlight of fancy, even the deformity of vice seems beautiful."
"And this you think should be forgiven?"
"At all events it is forgiven. The world loves a spice of
wickedness. Talk as you will about principle, impulse is more
attractive, even when it goes too far. The passions of youth, like
unhooded hawks, fly high, with musical bells upon their jesses; and
we forget the cruelty of the sport in the dauntless bearing of the
"And thus doth the world and society corrupt the scholar!"
Here the Baron rang, and ordered a bottle of Prince Metternich.
He then very slowly filled his pipe, and began to smoke. Flemming
was lost in a day-dream.
CHAPTER VIII. LITERARY FAME.
Time has a Doomsday-Book, upon whose pages he is continually
recording illustrious names. But, as often as a new name is written
there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated
characters, never to be effaced. These are the high nobility of
Nature,--Lords of the Public Domain of Thought. Posterity shall
never question their titles. But those, whose fame lives only in the
indiscreet opinion of unwise men, must soon be as well forgotten, as
if they had never been. To this great oblivion must most men come.
It is better, therefore, that they should soon make up their minds
to this; well knowing, that, as their bodies must ere long be
resolved into dust again, and their graves tell no tales of them; so
musttheir names likewise be utterly forgotten, and their most
cherished thoughts, purposes, and opinions have no longer an
individual being among men; but be resolved and incorporated into
the universe of thought. If, then, the imagination can trace the
noble dust of heroes, till we find it stopping a beer-barrel, and
"Imperial Cĉsar, dead and turned to clay,
May stop a hole to keep the wind away;"
not less can it trace the noble thoughts of great men, till it
finds them mouldered into the common dust of conversation, and used
to stop men's mouths, and patch up theories, to keep out the flaws
of opinion. Such, for example, are all popular adages and wise
proverbs, which are now resolved into the common mass of thought;
their authors forgotten, and having no more an individual being
It is better, therefore, that men should soon make up their minds
to be forgotten, and look about them, or within them, for some
higher motive, in what they do, than the approbation of men, which is
Fame; namely, their duty; that they should be constantly and quietly
at work, each in his sphere, regardless of effects, and leaving
their fame to take care of itself. Difficult must this indeed be, in
our imperfection; impossible perhaps to achieve it wholly. Yet the
resolute, the indomitable will of man can achieve much,--at times
even this victory over himself; being persuaded, that fame comes
only when deserved, and then is as inevitable as destiny, for it is
It has become a common saying, that men of genius are always in
advance of their age; which is true. There is something equally
true, yet not so common; namely, that, of these men of genius, the
best and bravest are in advance not only of their own age, but of
every age. As the German prose-poet says, every possible future is
behind them. We cannot suppose, that a period of time will ever
come, when the world, or any considerable portion of it shall have
come up abreast with these great minds, so as fully to comprehend
And oh! how majestically they walk in history; some like the sun,
with all his travelling glories round him; others wrapped in gloom,
yet glorious as a night with stars. Through the else silent darkness
of the past, the spirit hears their slow and solemn footsteps.
Onward they pass, like those hoary elders seen in the sublime vision
of an earthly Paradise, attendant angels bearing golden lights
before them, and, above and behind, the whole air painted with seven
listed colors, as from the trail of pencils!
And yet, on earth, these men were not happy,--not all happy, in
the outward circumstance of their lives. They were in want, and in
pain, and familiar with prison-bars, and the damp, weeping walls of
dungeons! Oh, I have looked with wonder upon those, who, in sorrow
and privation, and bodily discomfort, and sickness, which is the
shadow of death, have worked right on to the accomplishment of their
great purposes; toiling much, enduring much, fulfilling much;--and
then, with shattered nerves, and sinews all unstrung, have laid
themselves down in the grave, and slept the sleep of death,--and the
world talks of them, while they sleep!
It would seem, indeed, as if all their sufferings had but
sanctified them! As if the death-angel, in passing, had touched them
with the hem of his garment, and made them holy! As if the hand of
disease had been stretched out over them only to make the sign of
the cross upon their souls! And as in the sun's eclipse we can
behold the great stars shining in the heavens, so in this life
eclipse have these men beheld the lights of the great eternity,
burning solemnly and forever!
This was Flemming's reverie. It was broken by the voice of the
Baron, suddenly exclaiming;
"An angel is flying over the house!--Here; in this goblet,
fragrant as the honey of Hymettus, fragrant as the wild flowers in
the Angel's Meadow, I drink to the divinity of thy dreams."
"This is all sunshine," said Flemming, as he drank. "The wine of
the Prince, and the Prince of wines. By the way, did you ever read
that brilliant Italian dithyrambic, Redi's Bacchus in Tuscany? an ode
which seems to have been poured out of the author's soul, as from a
`Filled with the wine
Of the vine
That flames so red in Sansavine.'
He calls the Montepulciano the king of all wines."
"Prince Metternich," said the Baron, "is greater than any king in
Italy; and I wonder, that this precious wine has never inspired a
German poet to write a Bacchus on the Rhine. Many little songs we
have on this theme, but none very extraordinary. The best are Max
Schenkendorf's Song of the Rhine, and the Song of Rhine Wine, by
Claudius, a poet who never drank Rhenish without sugar. We will
drink for him a blessing on the Rhine."
And again the crystal lips of the goblets kissed each other, with
a musical chime, as of evening bells at vintage-time from the
villages on the Rhine. Of a truth, I do not much wonder, that the
Germanpoet Schiller loved to write by candle-light with a bottle of
Rhine-wine upon the table. Nor do I wonder at the worthy
schoolmaster Roger Ascham, when he says, in one of his letters from
Germany to Mr. John Raven, of John's College; `Tell Mr. Maden I will
drink with him now a carouse of wine; and would to God he had a
vessel of Rhenish wine; and perchance, when I come to Cambridge, I
will so provide here, that every year I will have a little piece of
Rhenish wine.' Nor, in fine, do I wonder at the German Emperor of
whom he speaks in another letter to the same John Raven, and says,
`The Emperor drank the best that I ever saw; he had his head in the
glass five times as long as any of us, and never drank less than a
good quart at once of Rhenish wine.' These were scholars and
"But to resume our old theme of scholars and their whereabout,"
said the Baron, with an unusual glow, caught no doubt from the
golden sunshine, imprisoned, like the student Anselmus, in the glass
bottle; "where should the scholar live? In solitudeor in society? In
the green stillness of the country, where he can hear the heart of
nature beat, or in the dark, gray city, where he can hear and feel
the throbbing heart of man? I will make answer for him, and say, in
the dark, gray city. Oh, they do greatly err, who think, that the
stars are all the poetry which cities have; and therefore that the
poet's only dwelling should be in sylvan solitudes, under the green
roof of trees. Beautiful, no doubt, are all the forms of Nature,
when transfigured by the miraculous power of poetry; hamlets and
harvest-fields, and nut-brown waters, flowing ever under the forest,
vast and shadowy, with all the sights and sounds of rural life. But
after all, what are these but the decorations and painted scenery in
the great theatre of human life? What are they but the coarse
materials of the poet's song? Glorious indeed is the world of God
around us, but more glorious the world of God within us. There lies
the Land of Song; there lies the poet's native land. The river of
life, that flows through streets tumultuous, bearingalong so many
gallant hearts, so many wrecks of humanity;--the many homes and
households, each a little world in itself, revolving round its
fireside, as a central sun; all forms of human joy and suffering,
brought into that narrow compass;--and to be in this and be a part
of this; acting, thinking, rejoicing, sorrowing, with his
fellow-men;--such, such should be the poet's life. If he would
describe the world, he should live in the world. The mind of the
scholar, also, if you would have it large and liberal, should come
in contact with other minds. It is better that his armour should be
somewhat bruised even by rude encounters, than hang forever rusting
on the wall. Nor will his themes be few or trivial, because
apparently shut in between the walls of houses, and having merely
the decorations of street scenery. A ruined character is as
picturesque as a ruined castle. There are dark abysses and yawning
gulfs in the human heart, which can be rendered passable only by
bridging them over with iron nerves and sinews, as Challey bridged
the Savine in Switzerland, and Telford the sea between Anglesea and
England, with chain bridges. These are the great themes of human
thought; not green grass, and flowers, and moonshine. Besides, the
mere external forms of Nature we make our own, and carry with us
into the city, by the power of memory."
"I fear, however," interrupted Flemming, "that in cities the soul
of man grows proud. He needs at times to be sent forth, like the
Assyrian monarch, into green fields, `a wonderous wretch and
weedless,' to eat green herbs, and be wakened and chastised by the
rain-shower and winter's bitter weather. Moreover, in cities there
is danger of the soul's becoming wed to pleasure, and forgetful of
its high vocation. There have been souls dedicated to heaven from
childhood and guarded by good angels as sweet seclusions for holy
thoughts, and prayers, and all good purposes; wherein pious wishes
dwelt like nuns, and every image was a saint; and yet in life's
vicissitudes, by the treachery of occasion, by the thronging
passionsof great cities, have become soiled and sinful. They
resemble those convents on the river Rhine, which have been changed
to taverns; from whose chambers the pious inmates have long
departed, and in whose cloisters the footsteps of travellers have
effaced the images of buried saints, and whose walls are written
over with ribaldry and the names of strangers, and resound no more
with holy hymns, but with revelry and loud voices."
"Both town and country have their dangers," said the Baron; "and
therefore, wherever the scholar lives, he must never forget his high
vocation. Other artists give themselves up wholly to the study of
their art. It becomes with them almost religion. For the most part,
and in their youth, at least, they dwell in lands, where the whole
atmosphere of the soul is beauty; laden with it as the air may be
with vapor, till their very nature is saturated with the genius of
their art. Such, for example, is the artist's life in Italy."
"I agree with you," exclaimed Flemming; "and such should be the
Poet's everywhere; forhe has his Rome, his Florence, his whole
glowing Italy within the four walls of his library. He has in his
books the ruins of an antique world,--and the glories of a modern
one,--his Apollo and Transfiguration. He must neither forget nor
undervalue his vocation; but thank God that he is a poet; and
everywhere be true to himself, and to `the vision and the faculty
divine' he feels within him."
"But, at any rate, a city life is most eventful," continued the
Baron. "The men who make, or take, the lives of poets and scholars,
always complain that these lives are barren of incidents. Hardly a
literary biography begins without some such apology, unwisely made.
I confess, however, that it is not made without some show of truth;
if, by incidents, we mean only those startling events, which
suddenly turn aside the stream of Time, and change the world's
history in an hour. There is certainly a uniformity, pleasing or
unpleasing, in literary life, which for the most part makes to-day
seem twin-born with yesterday. But if, byincidents, you mean events
in the history of the human mind, (and why not?) noiseless events,
that do not scar the forehead of the world as battles do, yet change
it not the less, then surely the lives of literary men are most
eventful. The complaint and the apology are both foolish. I do not
see why a successful book is not as great an event as a successful
campaign; only different in kind, and not easily compared."
"Indeed," interrupted Flemming, "in no sense is the complaint
strictly true, though at times apparently so. Events enough there
are, were they all set down. A life, that is worth writing at all,
is worth writing minutely. Besides, all literary men have not lived
in silence and solitude;--not all in stillness, not all in shadow.
For many have lived in troubled times, in the rude and adverse
fortunes of the state and age, and could say with Wallenstein,
`Our life was but a battle and a march;
And, like the wind's blast, never-resting, homeless,
We stormed across the war convulsed earth.'
Of such examples history has recorded many; Dante, Cervantes,
Byron, and others; men of iron; men who have dared to breast the
strong breath of public opinion, and, like spectre-ships, come
sailing right against the wind. Others have been puffed out by the
first adverse wind that blew; disgraced and sorrowful, because they
could not please others. Truly `the tears live in an onion, that
should water such a sorrow.' Had they been men, they would have made
these disappointments their best friends, and learned from them the
needful lesson of self-reliance."
"To confess the truth," added the Baron, "the lives of literary
men, with their hopes and disappointments, and quarrels and
calamities, present a melancholy picture of man's strength and
weakness. On that very account the scholar can make them profitable
"And after all," continued Flemming, "perhaps the greatest
lesson, which the lives of literary men teach us, is told in a
single word; Wait!--Every man must patiently bide his time. He must
wait. More particularly in lands, like my native land, where the
pulse of life beats with such feverish and impatient throbs, is the
lesson needful. Our national character wants the dignity of repose.
We seem to live in the midst of a battle,--there is such a
din,--such a hurrying to and fro. In the streets of a crowded city
it is difficult to walk slowly. You feel the rushing of the crowd,
and rush with it onward. In the press of our life it is difficult to
be calm. In this stress of wind and tide, all professions seem to
drag their anchors, and are swept out into the main. The voices of
the Present say, Come! But the voices of the Past say, Wait! With
calm and solemn footsteps the rising tide bears against the rushing
torrent up stream, and pushes back the hurrying waters. With no less
calm and solemn footsteps, nor less certainly, does a great mind
bear up against public opinion, and push back its hurrying stream.
Therefore should every man wait;--should bide his time. Not in
listless idleness,--not in uselesspastime,--not in querulous
dejection; but in constant, steady, cheerful endeavours, always
willing and fulfilling, and accomplishing his task, that, when the
occasion comes, he may be equal to the occasion. And if it never
comes, what matters it? What matters it to the world whether I, or
you, or another man did such a deed, or wrote such a book, sobeit
the deed and book were well done! It is the part of an indiscreet
and troublesome ambition, to care too much about fame,--about what
the world says of us. To be always looking into the faces of others
for approval;--to be always anxious for the effect of what we do and
say; to be always shouting to hear the echo of our own voices! If
you look about you, you will see men, who are wearing life away in
feverish anxiety of fame, and the last we shall ever hear of them
will be the funeral bell, that tolls them to their early graves!
Unhappy men, and unsuccessful! because their purpose is, not to
accomplish well their task, but to clutch the `trick and fantasy of
fame'; and they go to their graveswith purposes unaccomplished and
wishes unfulfilled. Better for them, and for the world in their
example, had they known how to wait! Believe me, the talent of
success is nothing more than doing what you can do well; and doing
well whatever you do,--without a thought of fame. If it come at all,
it will come because it is deserved, not because it is sought after.
And, moreover, there will be no misgivings,--no disappointment,--no
hasty, feverish, exhausting excitement."
Thus endeth the First Book of Hyperion. I make no record of the
winter. Paul Flemming buried himself in books; in old, dusty books.
He studied diligently the ancient poetic lore of Germany, from
Frankish Legends of Saint George, and Saxon Rhyme-Chronicles, down
through Nibelungen Lieds, and Helden-Buchs, and Songs of the
Minnesingers and Mastersingers, and Ships of Fools, and Reinecke
Foxes, and Death-Dancesand Lamentations of Damned Souls, into the
bright, sunny land of harvests, where, amid the golden grain and the
blue corn-flowers, walk the modern bards, and sing.
"Something the heart must have to cherish,
Must love, and joy, and sorrow learn;
Something with passion clasp, or perish,
And in itself to ashes burn."
CHAPTER I. SPRING.
It was a sweet carol, which the Rhodian children sang of old in
Spring, bearing in their hands, from door to door, a swallow, as
herald of the season;
"The Swallow is come!
The Swallow is come!
O fair are the seasons, and light
Are the days that she brings,
With her dusky wings,
And her bosom snowy white."
A pretty carol, too, is that, which the Hungarian boys, on the
islands of the Danube, sing to the returning stork in Spring;
"Stork! Stork! poor Stork!
Why is thy foot so bloody?
A Turkish boy hath torn it;
Hungarian boy will heal it,
With fiddle, fife, and drum."
But what child has a heart to sing in this capricious clime of
ours, where Spring comes sailing in from the sea, with wet and heavy
cloud-sails, and the misty pennon of the East-wind nailed to the
mast! Yet even here, and in the stormy month of March even, there
are bright, warm mornings, when we open our windows to inhale the
balmy air. The pigeons fly to and fro, and we hear the whirring
sound of wings. Old flies crawl out of the cracks, to sun
themselves; and think it is summer. They die in their conceit; and
so do our hearts within us, when the cold sea-breath comes from the
eastern sea; and again,
"The driving hail
Upon the window beats with icy flail."
The red-flowering maple is first in blossom, its beautiful purple
flowers unfolding a fortnight before the leaves. The moose-wood
follows, with rose-colored buds and leaves; and the dog-wood, robed
in the white of its own pure blossoms. Thencomes the sudden
rain-storm; and the birds fly to and fro, and shriek. Where do they
hide themselves in such storms? at what firesides dry their feathery
cloaks? At the fireside of the great, hospitable sun, to-morrow, not
before;--they must sit in wet garments until then.
In all climates Spring is beautiful. In the South it is
intoxicating, and sets a poet beside himself. The birds begin to
sing;--they utter a few rapturous notes, and then wait for an answer
in the silent woods. Those green-coated musicians, the frogs, make
holiday in the neighbouring marshes. They, too, belong to the
orchestra of Nature; whose vast theatre is again opened, though the
doors have been so long bolted with icicles, and the scenery hung
with snow and frost, like cobwebs. This is the prelude, which
announces the rising of the broad green curtain. Already the grass
shoots forth. The waters leap with thrilling pulse through the veins
of the earth; the sap through the veins of the plants and trees; and
the blood through the veins of man. What a thrill of delight in
spring-time! What a joy in being and moving! Men are at work in
gardens; and in the air there is an odor of the fresh earth. The
leaf-buds begin to swell and blush. The white blossoms of the cherry
hang upon the boughs like snow-flakes; and ere long our next-door
neighbours will be completely hidden from us by the dense green
foliage. The May-flowers open their soft blue eyes. Children are let
loose in the fields and gardens. They hold butter-cups under each
others' chins, to see if they love butter. And the little girls
adorn themselves with chains and curls of dandelions; pull out the
yellow leaves to see if the schoolboy loves them, and blow the down
from the leafless stalk, to find out if their mothers want them at
And at night so cloudless and so still! Not a voice of living
thing,--not a whisper of leaf or waving bough,--not a breath of
wind,--not a sound upon the earth nor in the air! And overhead bends
the blue sky, dewy and soft, and radiant with innumerable stars,
like the inverted bellof some blue flower, sprinkled with golden
dust, and breathing fragrance. Or if the heavens are overcast, it is
no wild storm of wind and rain; but clouds that melt and fall in
showers. One does not wish to sleep; but lies awake to hear the
pleasant sound of the dropping rain.
It was thus the Spring began in Heidelberg.
CHAPTER II. A COLLOQUY.
"And what think you of Tiedge's Urania," said the Baron smiling,
as Paul Flemming closed the book, and laid it upon the table.
"I think," said Flemming, "that it is very much like Jean Paul's
grandfather,--in the highest degree poor and pious."
"Bravo!" exclaimed the Baron. "That is the best criticism I have
heard upon the book. For my part, I dislike the thing as much as
Goethe did. It was once very popular, and lay about in every parlour
and bed-room. This annoyed the old gentleman exceedingly; and I do
not wonder at it. He complains, that at one time nothing was sung or
said but this Urania. He believed in Immortality; but wished to
cherish his belief inquietness. He once told a friend of his, that
he had, however, learned one thing from all this talk about Tiedge
and his Urania; which was, that the saints, as well as the nobility,
constitute an aristocracy. He said he found stupid women, who were
proud because they believed in Immortality with Tiedge, and had to
submit himself to not a few mysterious catechizings and tea-table
lectures on this point; and that he cut them short by saying, that
he had no objection whatever to enter into another state of
existence hereafter, but prayed only that he might be spared the
honor of meeting any of those there, who had believed in it here;
for, if he did, the saints would flock around him on all sides,
exclaiming, Were we not in the right? Did we not tell you so? Has it
not all turned out just as we said? And, with such a conceited
clatter in his ears, he thought that, before the end of six months,
he might die of ennui in Heaven itself."
"How shocked the good old ladies must have been," said
"No doubt, their nerves suffered a little; but the young ladies
loved him all the better for being witty and wicked; and thought if
they could only marry him, how they would reform him."
"Bettina Brentano, for instance."
"O no! That happened long afterwards. Goethe was then a
silver-haired old man of sixty. She had never seen him, and knew him
only by his writings; a romantic girl of seventeen."
"And yet much in love with the Sexagenarian. And surely a more
wild, fantastic, and, excuse me, German passion never sprang up in
woman's breast. She was a flower, that worshipped the sun."
"She afterwards married Achim von Arnim, and is now a widow. And
not the least singular part of the affair, is, that, having grown
older, and I hope colder, she should herself publish the letters
which passed between her and Goethe."
"Particularly the letter in which she describes her first visit
to Weimar, and her interview with the hitherto invisible divinity of
her dreams. The old gentleman took her upon his knees, and she fell
asleep with her head upon his shoulder. It reminds me of Titania and
Nick Bottom, begging your pardon, always, for comparing your
All-sided-One to Nick Bottom. Oberon must have touched her eyes with
the juice of Love-in-idleness. However, this book of Goethe's
Correspondence with a Child is a very singular and valuable
revelation of the feelings, which he excited in female hearts. You
say she afterwards married Achim von Arnim?"
"Yes; and he and her brother, Clemens Brentano, published that
wondrous book, the Boy's Wonder-Horn."
"The Boy's Wonder-Horn!" said Flemming, after a short pause, for
the name seemed to have thrown him into a reverie;--"I know the book
almost by heart. Of all your German books it is the one which
produces upon my imagination the most wild and magic influence. I
have a passion for ballads!"
"And who has not?" said the Baron with asmile. "They are the
gypsy-children of song, born under green hedgerows, in the leafy
lanes and by-paths of literature,--in the genial summer-time."
"Why do you say summer-time and not summer?" inquired Flemming.
"The expression reminds me of your old Minnesingers;--of Heinrich
von Ofterdingen, and Walter von der Vogelweide, and Count Kraft von
Toggenburg, and your own ancestor, I dare say, Burkhart von
Hohenfels. They were always singing of the gentle summer-time. They
seem to have lived poetry, as well as sung it; like the birds who
make their marriage beds in the voluptuous trees."
"Is that from Shakspere?"
"No; from Lope de Vega."
"You are deeply read in the lore of antiquity, and the Aubades
and Watch-Songs of the old Minnesingers. What do you think of the
shoe-maker poets that came after them,--with their guilds and
singing-schools? It makes me laugh to think how the great German
Helicon, shrunk toa rivulet, goes bubbling and gurgling over the
pebbly names of Zwinger, Wurgendrussel, Buchenlin, Hellfire, Old
Stoll, Young Stoll, Strong Bopp, Dang Brotscheim, Batt Spiegel,
Peter Pfort, and Martin Gumpel. And then the Corporation of the
Twelve Wise Masters, with their stumpfereime and klingende-reime,
and their Hans Tindeisen's rosemary-weise; and Joseph Schmierer's
flowery-paradise-weise, and Frauenlob's yellow-weise, and
blue-weise, and frog-weise, and looking-glass-weise!"
"O, I entreat you," exclaimed Flemming, laughing, "do not call
those men poets! You transport me to quaint old Nuremberg, and I see
Hans Sachs making shoes, and Hans Folz shaving the burgomaster."
"By the way," interrupted the Baron, "did you ever read
Hoffmann's beautiful story of Master Martin, the Cooper of
Nuremberg? I will read it to you this very night. It is the most
delightful picture of that age, which you can conceive. But look!
the sun has already set behindthe Alsatian hills. Let us go up to
the castle and look for the ghost in Prince Ruprecht's tower. O,
what a glorious sunset!"
Flemming looked at the evening sky, and a shade of sadness stole
over his countenance. He told not to his friend the sorrow, with
which his heart was heavy; but kept it for himself alone. He knew
that the time, which comes to all men,--the time to suffer and be
silent,--had come to him likewise; and he spake no word. O well has
it been said, that there is no grief like the grief which does not
CHAPTER III. OWL-TOWERS.
"There sits the old Frau Himmelhahn, perched up in her
owl-tower," said the Baron to Flemming, as they passed along the
Hauptstrasse. "She looks down through her round-eyed spectacles from
her nest up there, and watches every one that goes by. I wonder what
mischief she is hatching now? Do you know she has nearly ruined your
character in town? She says you have a rakish look, because you
carry a cane, and your hair curls. Your gloves, also, are a shade
too light for a strictly virtuous man."
"It is very kind in her to take such good care of my character,
particularly as I am a stranger in town. She is doubtless learned in
"And ignorant of every thing else. She asked a friend of mine the
other day, whether Christ was a Catholic or a Protestant."
"That is really too absurd!"
"Not too absurd to be true. And, ignorant as she is, she
contrives to do a good deal of mischief in the course of the year.
Why, the ladies already call you Wilhelm Meister."