Part 3 out of 5
favorite occupations and pursuits no longer charm me. The quiet face
of Nature seems to mock me."
"There certainly are seasons," replied the Baron, "when Nature
seems not to sympathizewith her beloved children. She sits there so
eternally calm and self-possessed, so very motherly and serene, and
cares so little whether the heart of her child breaks or not, that
at times I almost lose my patience. About that, too, she cares so
little, that, out of sheer obstinacy, I become good-humored again,
and then she smiles."
"I think we must confess, however," continued Flemming, "that all
this springs from our own imperfection, not from hers. How beautiful
is this green world, which we inhabit! See yonder, how the moonlight
mingles with the mist! What a glorious night is this! Truly every
man has a Paradise around him until he sins, and the angel of an
accusing conscience drives him from his Eden. And even then there
are holy hours, when this angel sleeps, and man comes back, and,
with the innocent eyes of a child, looks into his lost Paradise
again,--into the broad gates and rural solitudes of Nature. I feel
this often. We have much to enjoy in the quiet and retirement of
ourown thoughts. Boisterous mirth and loud laughter are not my mood.
I love that tranquillity of soul, in which we feel the blessing of
existence, and which in itself is a prayer and a thanksgiving. I
find, however, that, as I grow older, I love the country less, and
the city more."
"Yes," interrupted the Baron; "and presently you will love the
city less and the country more. Say at once, that you have an
undefined longing for both; and prefer town or country, according to
the mood you are in. I think a man must be of a very quiet and happy
nature, who can long endure the country; and, moreover, very well
contented with his own insignificant person, very self-complacent,
to be continually occupied with himself and his own thoughts. To say
the least, a city life makes one more tolerant and liberal in his
judgment of others. One is not eternally wrapped up in
self-contemplation; which, after all, is only a more holy kind of
In conversation like this, the hours glided away; till at length,
from the Giant's Tower, the Castleclock struck twelve, with a sound
that seemed to come from the Middle Ages. Like watchmen from their
belfries the city clocks answered it, one by one. Then distant and
muffled sounds were heard. Inarticulate words seemed to blot the
foggy air, as if written on wet paper. These were the bells of
Handschuhsheimer, and of other villages on the broad plain of the
Rhine, and among the hills of the Odenwald; mysterious sounds, that
seemed not of this world.
Beneath them, in the shadow of the hills, lay the valley, like a
fathomless, black gulf; and above were the cloistered stars, that,
nun-like, walk the holy aisles of heaven. The city was asleep in the
valley below; all asleep and silent, save the clocks, that had just
struck twelve, and the veering, golden weathercocks, that were
swimming in the moonshine, like golden fishes, in a glass vase. And
again the wind of the summer night passed through the old Castle,
and the trees, and the nightingales recorded under the dark, shadowy
leaves, and the heart of Flemming was full.
When he had retired to his chamber, a feeling of utter loneliness
came over him. The night before one begins a journey is always a
dismal night; for, as Byron says,
"In leaving even the most unpleasant people
And places, one keeps looking at the steeple!"
And how much more so when the place and people are pleasant; as
was the case with those, that Flemming was now leaving. No wonder he
was sad and sleepless. Thoughts came and went, and bright and gloomy
fancies, and dreams and visions, and sweet faces looked under his
closed eyelids, and vanished away, and came again, and again
departed. He heard the clock strike from hour to hour, and said,
"Another hour is gone." At length the birds began to sing; and ever
and anon the cock crew. He arose, and looked forth into the gray
dawn; and before him lay the city he was so soon to leave, all white
and ghastly, like a city that had arisen from its grave.
"All things must change," said he to the Baron, as he embraced
him, and held him by the hand. "Friends must be torn asunder, and
swept along in the current of events, to see each other seldom, and
perchance no more. For ever and ever in the eddies of time and
accident we whirl away. Besides which, some of us have a perpetual
motion in our wooden heads, as Wodenblock had in his wooden leg; and
like him we travel on, without rest or sleep, and have hardly time
to take a friend by the hand in passing; and at length are seen
hurrying through some distant land, worn to a skeleton, and all
"Take away the lights, too;
The moon lends me too much to find my fears;
And those devotions I am now to pay,
Are written in my heart, not in thy book;
And I shall read them there without a taper."
CHAPTER I. SUMMER-TIME.
They were right,--those old German Minnesingers,--to sing the
pleasant summer-time! What a time it is! How June stands illuminated
in the Calendar! The windows are all wide open; only the Venetian
blinds closed. Here and there a long streak of sunshine streams in
through a crevice. We hear the low sound of the wind among the
trees; and, as it swells and freshens, the distant doors clap to,
with a sudden sound. The trees are heavy with leaves; and the
gardens full of blossoms, red and white. The whole atmosphere is
laden with perfume and sunshine. The birds sing. The cock struts
about, and crows loftily. Insects chirp in the grass. Yellow
butter-cups stud the green carpet like golden buttons, and the red
blossoms of the clover like rubies. The elm-trees reach their long,
pendulous branches almost to the ground. White clouds sail aloft;
and vapors fret the blue sky with silver threads. The white village
gleams afar against the dark hills. Through the meadow winds the
river,--careless, indolent. It seems to love the country, and is in
no haste to reach the sea. The bee only is at work,--the hot and
angry bee. All things else are at play; he never plays, and is vexed
that any one should.
People drive out from town to breathe, and to be happy. Most of
them have flowers in their hands; bunches of apple-blossoms, and
still oftener lilacs. Ye denizens of the crowded city, how pleasant
to you is the change from the sultry streets to the open fields,
fragrant with clover-blossoms! how pleasant the fresh, breezy
country air, dashed with brine from the meadows! howpleasant, above
all, the flowers, the manifold, beautiful flowers!
It is no longer day. Through the trees rises the red moon, and
the stars are scarcely seen. In the vast shadow of night, the
coolness and the dews descend. I sit at the open window to enjoy
them; and hear only the voice of the summer wind. Like black hulks,
the shadows of the great trees ride at anchor on the billowy sea of
grass. I cannot see the red and blue flowers, but I know that they
are there. Far away in the meadow gleams the silver Charles. The
tramp of horses' hoofs sounds from the wooden bridge. Then all is
still, save the continuous wind of the summer night. Sometimes I
know not if it be the wind or the sound of the neighbouring sea. The
village clock strikes; and I feel that I am not alone.
How different is it in the city! It is late, and the crowd is
gone. You step out upon the balcony, and lie in the very bosom of
the cool, dewy night, as if you folded her garments about you. The
whole starry heaven is spread out overhead. Beneath lies the public
walk with trees, like a fathomless, black gulf, into whose silent
darkness the spirit plunges and floats away, with some beloved
spirit clasped in its embrace. The lamps are still burning up and
down the long street. People go by, with grotesque shadows, now
foreshortened and now lengthening away into the darkness and
vanishing, while a new one springs up behind the walker, and seems
to pass him on the sidewalk. The iron gates of the park shut with a
jangling clang. There are footsteps, and loud voices;--a tumult,--a
drunken brawl,--an alarm of fire;--then silence again. And now at
length the city is asleep, and we can see the night. The belated
moon looks over the roofs, and finds no one to welcome her. The
moonlight is broken. It lies here and there in the squares, and the
opening of streets,--angular, like blocks of white marble.
Under such a green, triumphal arch, O Reader! with the odor of
flowers about thee, and the song of birds, shalt thou pass onward
into the enchanted land, as through the Ivory Gate of dreams! And as
a prelude and majestic march, one sweet human voice, I know not
whose, but coming from the bosom of the Alps, sings this sublime
ode, which the Alpine echoes repeat afar.
"Come, golden Evening! In the west
Enthrone the storm-dispelling sun,
And let the triple rainbow rest
O'er all the mountain tops;--'t is done;
The tempest ceases; bold and bright,
The rainbow shoots from hill to hill;
Down sinks the sun; on presses night;
Mont Blanc is lovely still!
"There take thy stand, my spirit;--spread
The world of shadows at thy feet;
And mark how calmly overhead,
The stars, like saints in glory, meet.
While, hid in solitude sublime,
Methinks I muse on Nature's tomb,
And hear the passing foot of Time
Step through the silent gloom.
"All in a moment, crash on crash,
From precipice to precipice,
An avalanche's ruins dash
Down to the nethermost abyss,
Invisible; the ear alone
Pursues the uproar till it dies;
Echo to Echo, groan for groan,
From deep to deep, replies.
"Silence again the darkness seals,
Darkness that may be felt;--but soon
The silver-clouded east reveals
The midnight spectre of the moon;
In half-eclipse she lifts her horn,
Yet, o'er the host of heaven supreme,
Brings the faint semblance of a morn,
With her awakening beam.
"Ah! at her touch, these Alpine heights
Unreal mockeries appear;
With blacker shadows, ghastlier lights,
Emerging as she climbs the sphere;
A crowd of apparitions pale!
I hold my breath in chill suspense,
They seem so exquisitely frail,
Lest they should vanish hence.
"I breathe again, I freely breathe;
Thee, Leman's Lake, once more I trace,
Like Dian's crescent far beneath,
As beautiful as Dian's face:
Pride of the land that gave me birth!
All that thy waves reflect I love,
Where heaven itself, brought down to earth,
Looks fairer than above.
"Safe on thy banks again I stray;
The trance of poesy is o'er,
And I am here at dawn of day,
Gazing on mountains as before,
Where all the strange mutations wrought,
Were magic feats of my own mind;
For, in that fairy land of thought,
Whate'er I seek, I find."
CHAPTER II. FOOT-TRAVELLING.
Tell me, my soul, why art thou restless? Why dost thou look
forward to the future with such strong desire? The present is
thine,--and the past;--and the future shall be! O that thou didst
look forward to the great hereafter with half the longing wherewith
thou longest for an earthly future,--which a few days at most will
bring thee! to the meeting of the dead, as to the meeting of the
absent! Thou glorious spirit-land! O, that I could behold thee as
thou art,--the region of life, and light, and love, and the
dwelling-place of those beloved ones, whose being has flowed onward
like a silver-clear stream into the solemn-sounding main, into the
ocean of Eternity.
Such were the thoughts that passed through thesoul of Flemming,
as he lay in utter solitude and silence on the rounded summit of one
of the mountains of the Furca Pass, and gazed, with tears in his
eyes, and ardent longing in his heart, up into the blue-swimming
heaven overhead, and at the glaciers and snowy mountain-peaks around
him. Highest and whitest of all, stood the peak of the Jungfrau,
which seemed near him, though it rose afar off from the bosom of the
Lauterbrunner Thal. There it stood, holy and high and pure, the
bride of heaven, all veiled and clothed in white, and lifted the
thoughts of the beholder heavenward. O, he little thought then, as
he gazed at it with longing and delight, how soon a form was to
arise in his own soul, as holy, and high, and pure as this, and like
this point heavenward.
Thus lay the traveller on the mountain summit, reposing his weary
limbs on the short, brown grass, which more resembled moss than
grass. He had sent his guide forward, that he might be alone. His
soul within him was wild with a fierce and painful delight. The
mountain air excited him; the mountain solitudes enticed, yet
maddened him. Every peak, every sharp, jagged iceberg, seemed to
pierce him. The silence was awful and sublime. It was like that in
the soul of a dying man, when he hears no more the sounds of earth.
He seemed to be laying aside his earthly garments. The heavens were
near unto him; but between him and heaven every evil deed he had
done arose gigantic, like those mountain-peaks, and breathed an icy
breath upon him. O, let not the soul that suffers, dare to look
Nature in the face, where she sits majestically aloft in the
solitude of the mountains; for her face is hard and stern, and looks
not in compassion upon her weak and erring child. It is the
countenance of an accusing archangel, who summons us to judgment. In
the valley she wears the countenance of a Virgin Mother, looking at
us with tearful eyes, and a face of pity and love!
But yesterday Flemming had come up the valley of the Saint
Gothard Pass, through Amsteg, where the Kerstelenbach comes dashing
down the Maderaner Thal, from its snowy cradle overhead. The road is
steep, and runs on zigzag terraces. The sides of the mountains are
barren cliffs; and from their cloud-capped summits, unheard amid the
roar of the great torrent below, come streams of snowwhite foam,
leaping from rock to rock, like the mountain chamois. As you
advance, the scene grows wilder and more desolate. There is not a
tree in sight,--not a human habitation. Clouds, black as midnight,
lower upon you from the ravines overhead; and the mountain torrent
beneath is but a sheet of foam, and sends up an incessant roar. A
sudden turn in the road brings you in sight of a lofty bridge,
stepping from cliff to cliff with a single stride. A fearful
cataract howls beneath it, like an evil spirit, and fills the air
with mist; and the mountain wind claps its hands and shrieks through
the narrow pass, Ha! ha!--This is the Devil's Bridge. It leads the
traveller across the fearful chasm, and through a mountain gallery
into the broad, green, silent meadow of Andermath.
Even the sunny morning, which followed thisgloomy day, had not
chased the desolate impression from the soul of Flemming. His
excitement increased as he lost himself more and more among the
mountains; and now, as he lay all alone on the summit of the sunny
hill, with only glaciers and snowy peaks about him, his soul, as I
have said, was wild with a fierce and painful delight.
A human voice broke his reverie. He looked, and beheld at a short
distance from him, the athletic form of a mountain herdsman, who was
approaching the spot where he lay. He was a young man, clothed in a
rustic garb, and holding a long staff in his hand. When Flemming
rose, he stood still, and gazed at him, as if he loved the face of
man, even in a stranger, and longed to hear a human voice, though it
might speak in an unknown tongue. He answered Flemming's salutation
in a rude mountain dialect, and in reply to his questions said;
"I, with two others, have charge of two hundred head of cattle on
these mountains. Throughthe two summer months we remain here night
and day; for which we receive each a Napoleon."
Flemming gave him half his summer wages. He was glad to do a good
deed in secret, and yet so near heaven. The man received it as his
due, like a toll-keeper; and soon after departed, leaving the
traveller alone. And the traveller went his way down the mountain,
as one distraught. He stopped only to pluck one bright blue flower,
which bloomed all alone in the vast desert, and looked up at him, as
if to say; "O take me with you! leave me not here
Ere long he reached the magnificent glacier of the Rhone; a
frozen cataract, more than two thousand feet in height, and many
miles broad at its base. It fills the whole valley between two
mountains, running back to their summits. At the base it is arched,
like a dome; and above, jagged and rough, and resembles a mass of
gigantic crystals, of a pale emerald tint, mingled with white. A
snowy crust covers its surface; but at every rent and crevice the
pale green ice shines clear in thesun. Its shape is that of a glove,
lying with the palm downwards, and the fingers crooked and close
together. It is a gauntlet of ice, which, centuries ago, Winter, the
King of these mountains, threw down in defiance to the Sun; and year
by year the Sun strives in vain to lift it from the ground on the
point of his glittering spear. A feeling of wonder and delight came
over the soul of Flemming when he beheld it, and he shouted and
"How wonderful! how glorious!"
After lingering a few hours in the cold, desolate valley, he
climbed in the afternoon the steep Mayen-Wand, on the Grimsel,
passed the Lake of the Dead, with its ink-black waters; and through
the melting snow, and over slippery stepping-stones in the beds of
numberless shallow brooks, descended to the Grimsel Hospital, where
he passed the night, and thought it the most lone and desolate spot,
that man ever slept in.
On the morrow, he rose with the day; and the rising sun found him
already standing on the rusticbridge, which hangs over the verge of
the Falls of the Aar at Handeck, where the river pitches down a
precipice into a narrow and fearful abyss, shut in by perpendicular
cliffs. At right angles with it comes the beautiful Aerlenbach; and
halfway down the double cascade mingles into one. Thus he pursued
his way down the Hasli Thal into the Bernese Oberland, restless,
impatient, he knew not why, stopping seldom, and never long, and
then rushing forward again, like the rushing river whose steps he
followed, and in whose ice-cold waters ever and anon he bathed his
wrists, to cool the fever in his blood; for the noonday sun was
His heart dilated in the dilating valley, that grew broader and
greener at every step. The sight of human faces and human dwellings
soothed him; and through the fields of summer grain, in the broad
meadows of Imgrund, he walked with a heart that ached no more, but
trembled only, as our eyelids when we have done weeping. As he
climbed the opposite hill, which hems in this romanticvalley, and,
like a heavy yoke, chafes the neck of the Aar, he believed the
ancient tradition, which says, that once the valley was a lake. From
the summit of the hill he looked southward upon a beautiful
landscape of gardens, and fields of grain, and woodlands, and
meadows, and the ancient castle of Resti, looking down upon
Meyringen. And now all around him were the singing of birds, and
grateful shadows of the leafy trees; and sheeted waterfalls dropping
from the woodland cliffs, seen only, but unheard, the fluted columns
breaking into mist, and fretted with frequent spires and ornaments
of foam, and not unlike the towers of a Gothic church inverted.
There, in one white sheet of foam, the Riechenbach pours down into
its deep beaker, into which the sun never shines. Face to face it
beholds the Alpbach falling from the opposite hill, "like a downward
smoke." When Flemming saw the innumerable runnels, sliding down the
mountain-side, and leaping, all life and gladness, he would fain
have clasped them in his arms and been their playmate, and revelled
withthem in their freedom and delight. Yet he was weary with the
day's journey, and entered the village of Meyringen, embowered in
cherry-trees, which were then laden with fruit, more like a way-worn
traveller than an enthusiastic poet. As he went up the tavern steps
he said in his heart, with the Italian Aretino; "He who has not been
at a tavern, knows not what a paradise it is. O holy tavern! O
miraculous tavern! holy, because no carking cares are there, nor
weariness, nor pain; and miraculous, because of the spits, which of
themselves turn round and round! Of a truth all courtesy and good
manners come from taverns, so full of bows, and Signor, sì! and
But even in the tavern he could not rest long. The same evening
at sunset he was floating on the lake of Brienz, in an open boat,
close under the cascade of the Giessbach, hearing the peasants sing
the Ranz des Vaches. He slept that night at the other extremity of
the lake, in a large house, which, like Saint Peter's at Joppa,
stood by the water's side. The next day he wasted inwriting letters,
musing in this green nest, and paddling about the lake again; and in
the evening went across the beautiful meadows to Interlachen, where
many things happened to him, and detained him long.
CHAPTER III. INTERLACHEN.
Interlachen! How peacefully, by the margin of the swift-rushing
Aar, thou liest, on the broad lap of those romantic meadows, all
overshadowed by the wide arms of giant trees! Only the round towers
of thine ancient cloister rise above their summits; the round towers
themselves, but a child's playthings under the great church-towers
of the mountains. Close beside thee are lakes, which the flowing
band of the river ties together. Before thee opens the magnificent
valley of Lauterbrunn, where the cloud-hooded Monk and pale Virgin
stand like Saint Francis and his Bride of Snow; and all around thee
are fields, and orchards, and hamlets green, from which the
church-bells answer each other at evening! The eveningsun was
setting when I first beheld thee! The sun of life will set ere I
forget thee! Surely it was a scene like this, that inspired the soul
of the Swiss poet, in his Song of the Bell!
"Bell! thou soundest merrily,
When the bridal party
To the church doth hie!
Bell! thou soundest solemnly,
When, on Sabbath morning,
Fields deserted lie!
"Bell! thou soundest merrily;
Tellest thou at evening,
Bed-time draweth nigh!
Bell! thou soundest mournfully;
Tellest thou the bitter
Parting hath gone by!
"Say! how canst thou mourn?
How canst thou rejoice?
Art but metal dull!
And yet all our sorrowings,
And all our rejoicings,
Thou dost feel them all!
"God hath wonders many,
Which we cannot fathom,
Placed within thy form!
When the heart is sinking,
Thou alone canst raise it,
Trembling in the storm!"
Paul Flemming alighted at one of the principal hotels. The
landlord came out to meet him. He had great eyes and a green coat;
and reminded Flemming of the innkeeper mentioned in the Golden Ass,
who had been changed by magic into a frog, and croaked to his
customers from the lees of a wine-cask. His house, he said, was
full; and so was every house in Interlachen; but, if the gentleman
would walk into the parlour, he would procure a chamber for him, in
On the sofa sat a gentleman, reading; a stout gentleman of
perhaps forty-five, round, ruddy, and with a head, which, being a
little bald on the top, looked not unlike a crow's nest, with one
egg in it. A good-humored face turned from the book as Flemming
entered; and a good-humored voice exclaimed;
"Ha! ha! Mr. Flemming! Is it you, or your apparition! I told you
we should meet again! though you were for taking an eternal farewell
of your fellow-traveller."
Saying these words, the stout gentleman rose and shook Flemming
heartily by the hand. And Flemming returned the shake as heartily,
recognising in this ruddy personage, a former travelling companion,
Mr. Berkley, whom he had left, a week or two previous, toiling up
the Righi. Mr. Berkley was an Englishman of fortune; a good-humored,
humane old bachelor; remarkable alike for his common sense and his
eccentricity. That is to say, the basis of his character was good,
sound common sense, trodden down and smoothed by education; but this
level groundwork his strange and whimsical fancy used as a
dancing-floor, whereon to exhibit her eccentric tricks. His ruling
passion was cold-bathing; and he usually ate his breakfast sitting
in a tub of cold water, and reading a newspaper. He kissed every
child he met; and to every old man, said in passing, "God bless
you!" with such an expression of voice and countenance, that no one
could doubt his sincerity. He reminded one of Roger Bontemps, or the
Little Man in Gray; though with a difference.
"The last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, Mr. Berkley,"
said Flemming, "was at Goldau, just as you were going up the Righi.
I hope you were gratified with a fine sunrise on the mountain
"No, Sir, I was not!" replied Mr. Berkley. "It is all a humbug! a
confounded humbug! They made such a noise about their sunrise, that
I determined I would not see it. So I lay snug in bed; and only
peeped through the window curtain. That was enough. Just above the
house, on the top of the hill, stood some fifty half-dressed,
romantic individuals, shivering in the wet grass; and, a short
distance from them, a miserable wretch, blowing a long, wooden horn.
That's your sunrise on the Righi, is it? said I; and went to sleep
again. The best thing I saw at the Culm, was the advertisement on
the bed-room doors, saying, that, if the ladies would wear the quilts
and blankets for shawls, when they went out to see the sunrise, they
must pay for the washing. Take my word for it, the Righi is a great
"Where have you been since?"
"At Zurich and Schaffhausen. If you go to Zurich, beware how you
stop at the Raven. They will cheat you. They cheated me; but I had
my revenge, for, when we reached Schaffhausen, I wrote in the
Beware of the Raven of Zurich!
'T is a bird of omen ill;
With a noisy and an unclean nest,
And a very, very long bill.
If you go to the Golden Falken you will find it there. I am the
author of those lines!"
"Bitter as Juvenal!" exclaimed Flemming.
"Not in the least bitter," said Mr. Berkley. "It is all true. Go
to the Raven and see. But this Interlachen! this Interlachen! It is
the loveliest spot on the face of the earth," he continued,
stretching out both arms, as if to embrace the objectof his
affection. "There,--only look out there!"
Here he pointed to the window. Flemming looked, and beheld a
scene of transcendent beauty. The plain was covered already by the
brown shade of the summer twilight. From the cottage roofs in
Unterseen rose here and there a thin column of smoke over the tops
of the trees and mingled with the evening shadows. The Valley of
Lauterbrunnen was filled with a blue haze. Far above, in the clear,
cloudless heaven, the white forehead of the Jungfrau blushed at the
last kiss of the departing sun. It was a glorious Transfiguration of
Nature! And when the village bells began to ring, and a single voice
at a great distance was heard yodling forth a ballad, it rather
broke than increased the enchantment of a scene, where silence was
more musical than sound.
For a long time they gazed at the gloaming landscape, and spake
not. At length people came into the parlour, and laid aside their
shawls and hats, and exchanged a word or two with Berkley to Flemming
they were all unknown. To him it was all Mr. Brown and Mrs. Johnson,
and nothing more. The conversation turned upon the various
excursions of the day. Some had been at the Staubbach, others at the
Grindelwald; others at the Lake of Thun; and nobody before had ever
experienced half the rapture, which they had experienced that day.
And thus they sat in the twilight, as people love to do, at the
close of a summer day. As yet the lamps had not been lighted; and
one could not distinguish faces; but voices only, and forms, like
Presently a female figure, clothed in black, entered the room and
sat down by the window. She rather listened to the conversation,
than joined in it; but the few words she said were spoken in a voice
so musical and full of soul, that it moved the soul of Flemming,
like a whisper from heaven.
O, how wonderful is the human voice! It is indeed the organ of
the soul! The intellect of man sits enthroned visibly upon his
forehead and in his eye; and the heart of man is written uponhis
countenance. But the soul reveals itself in the voice only; as God
revealed himself to the prophet of old in the still, small voice;
and in a voice from the burning bush. The soul of man is audible,
not visible. A sound alone betrays the flowing of the eternal
fountain, invisible to man!
Flemming would fain have sat and listened for hours to the sound
of that unknown voice. He felt sure, in his secret heart, that the
being from whom it came was beautiful. His imagination filled up the
faint outline, which the eye beheld in the fading twilight, and the
figure stood already in his mind, like Raphael's beautiful Madonna
in the Dresden gallery. He was never more mistaken in his life. The
voice belonged to a beautiful being, it is true; but her beauty was
different from that of any Madonna which Raphael ever painted; as he
would have seen, had he waited till the lamps were lighted. But in
the midst of his reverie and saint-painting, the landlord came in,
andtold him he had found a chamber, which he begged him to go and
Flemming took his leave and departed. Berkley went with him, to
see, he said, what kind of a nest his young friend was to sleep
"The chamber is not what I could wish," said the landlord, as he
led them across the street. "It is in the old cloister. But
to-morrow or next day, you can no doubt have a room at the
The name of the cloister struck Flemming's imagination
pleasantly. He was owl enough to like ruins and old chambers, where
nuns or friars had slept. And he said to Berkley;
"So, you perceive, my nest is to be in a cloister. It already
makes me think of a bird's-nest I once saw on an old tower of
Heidelberg castle, built in the jaws of a lion, which formerly
served as a spout. But pray tell me, who was that young lady, with
the soft voice?"
"What young lady with the soft voice?"
"The young lady in black, who sat by the window."
"O, she is the daughter of an English officer, who died not long
ago at Naples. She is passing the summer here with her mother, for
"What is her name?"
"Is she beautiful?"
"Not in the least; but very intellectual. A woman of genius, I
And now they had reached the walls of the cloister, and passed
under an arched gateway, and close beneath the round towers, which
Flemming had already seen, rising with their cone-shaped roofs above
the trees, like tall tapers, with extinguishers upon them.
"It is not so bad, as it looks," said the landlord, knocking at a
small door, in the main building. "The Bailiff lives in one part of
A servant girl, with a candle in her hand, opened the door, and
conducted Flemming and Berkley to the chamber which had been
engaged. It was a large room on the lower floor, wainscoted with
pine, and unpainted. Three lofty and narrowwindows, with leaden
lattices and small panes, looked southward towards the valley of
Lauterbrunnen and the mountains. In one corner was a large square
bed, with a tester and checked curtains. In another, a huge stove of
painted tiles, reaching almost to the ceiling. An old sofa, a few
high-backed antique chairs, and a table, completed the furniture of
Thus Flemming took possession of his monkish cell and dormitory.
He ordered tea, and began to feel at home. Berkley passed the
evening with him. On going away he said;
"Good night! I leave you to the care of the Virgin and all the
Saints. If the ghost of any old monk comes back after his
prayer-book, my compliments to him. If I were a younger man, you
certainly should see a ghost. Good night!"
When he had departed, Flemming opened the lattice of one of the
windows. The moon had risen, and silvered the dark outline of the
nearest hills; while, afar off, the snowy summits of the Jungfrau
and the Silver-Horn shone like a white cloud in the sky. Close
beneath the windows was a flower-garden; and the breath of the
summer night came to him with dewy fragrance. There was a grateful
seclusion about the place. He blessed the happy accident, which gave
him such a lodging, and fell asleep that night thinking of the nuns,
who once had slept in the same quiet cells; but neither wimpled nun
nor cowled monk appeared to him in his dreams; not even the face of
Mary Ashburton; nor did he hear her voice.
CHAPTER IV. THE EVENING AND THE MORNING STAR.
Old Froissart tells us, in his Chronicles, that when King Edward
beheld the Countess of Salisbury at her castle gate, he thought he
had never seen before so noble nor so fair a lady; he was stricken
therewith to the heart with a sparkle of fine love, that endured
long after; he thought no lady in the world so worthy to be beloved,
as she. And so likewise thought Paul Flemming, when he beheld the
English lady in the fair light of a summer morning. I will not
disguise the truth. She is my heroine; and I mean to describe her
with great truth and beauty, so that all shall be in love with her,
and I most of all.
Mary Ashburton was in her twentieth summer. Like the fair maiden
Amoret, she was sitting inthe lap of womanhood. They did her wrong,
who said she was not beautiful; and yet
"she was not fair,
Nor beautiful;--those words express her not.
But O, her looks had something excellent,
That wants a name!"
Her face had a wonderful fascination in it. It was such a calm,
quiet face, with the light of the rising soul shining so peacefully
through it. At times it wore an expression of seriousness,--of
sorrow even; and then seemed to make the very air bright with what
the Italian poets so beautifully call the lampeggiar dell' angelico
riso,--the lightning of the angelic smile.
And O, those eyes,--those deep, unutterable eyes, with
"down-falling eyelids, full of dreams and slumber," and within them
a cold, living light, as in mountain lakes at evening, or in the
river of Paradise, forever gliding,
"with a brown, brown current
Under the shade perpetual, that never
Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon."
I dislike an eye that twinkles like a star. Those only are
beautiful which, like the planets, have a steady, lambent
light;--are luminous, but not sparkling. Such eyes the Greek poets
give to the Immortals. But I forget myself.
The lady's figure was striking. Every step, every attitude was
graceful, and yet lofty, as if inspired by the soul within. Angels
in the old poetic philosophy have such forms; it was the soul itself
imprinted on the air. And what a soul was hers! A temple dedicated
to Heaven, and, like the Pantheon at Rome, lighted only from above.
And earthly passions in the form of gods were no longer there, but
the sweet and thoughtful faces of Christ, and the Virgin Mary, and
the Saints. Thus there was not one discordant thing in her; but a
perfect harmony of figure, and face, and soul, in a word of the
whole being. And he who had a soul to comprehend hers, must of
necessity love her, and, having once loved her, could love no other
No wonder, then, that Flemming felt his heartdrawn towards her,
as, in her morning walk, she passed him, sitting alone under the
great walnut trees near the cloister, and thinking of Heaven, but
not of her. She, too, was alone. Her cheek was no longer pale; but
glowing and bright, with the inspiration of the summer air. Flemming
gazed after her till she disappeared, even as a vision of his
dreams, he knew not whither. He was not yet in love, but very near
it; for he thanked God, that he had made such beautiful beings to
walk the earth.
Last night he had heard a voice to which his soul responded; and
he might have gone on his way, and taken no farther heed. But he
would have heard that voice afterwards, whenever at evening he
thought of this evening at Interlachen. To-day he had seen more
clearly the vision, and his restless soul calm. The place seemed
pleasant to him; and he could not go. He did not ask himself whence
came this calm. He felt it; and was happy in the feeling; and
blessed thelandscape and the summer morning, as if they possessed
the wonder-working power.
"A pleasant morning dream to you;" said a friendly voice; and at
the same moment some one laid his hand upon Flemming's shoulder. It
was Berkley. He had approached unseen and unheard.
"I see by the smile on your countenance," he continued, "that it
is no day-incubus."
"You are right," replied Flemming. "It was a pleasant dream,
which you have put to flight."
"And I am glad to see, that you have also put to flight the
gloomy thoughts which used to haunt you. I like to see people
cheerful and happy. What is the use of giving way to sadness in this
"Ah! this beautiful world!" said Flemming, with a smile. "Indeed,
I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all gladness and
sunshine, and Heaven itself lies not far off. And then it changes
suddenly; and is dark and sorrowful, and clouds shut out the sky. In
the lives of the saddestof us, there are bright days like this, when
we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms and kiss it.
Then come the gloomy hours, when the fire will neither burn on our
hearths nor in our hearts; and all without and within is dismal,
cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows,
which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when
he is only sad."
"And who says we don't?" interrupted Berkley. "Come, come! Let us
go to breakfast. The morning air has given me a rude appetite. I
long to say grace over a fresh egg; and eat salt with my worst
enemies; namely, the Cockneys at the hotel. After breakfast you must
give yourself up wholly to me. I shall take you to the
"To-day, then, you do not breakfast like Diogenes, but consent to
leave your tub."
"Yes, for the pleasure of your company. I shall also blow out the
light in my lantern, having found you."
The breakfast passed without any unusual occurrence. Flemming
watched the entrance of every guest; but she came not,--the guest he
most desired to see.
"And now for the Grindelwald!" said Berkley.
"Why such haste? We have the whole day before us. There is time
"Not a moment to loso, I assure you. The carriage is at the
They drove up the valley of Lauterbrunnen, and turned eastward
among the mountains of the Grindelwald. There they passed the day;
half-frozen by the icy breath of the Great Glacier, upon whose
surface stand pyramids and blocks of ice, like the tombstones of a
cemetery. It was a weary day to Flemming. He wished himself at
Interlachen; and was glad when, towards evening, he saw once more
the cone-roofed towers of the cloister rising above the walnut
That evening is written in red letters in his history. It gave
him another revelation of thebeauty and excellence of the female
character and intellect; not wholly new to him, yet now renewed and
fortified. It was from the lips of Mary Ashburton, that the
revelation came. Her form arose, like a tremulous evening star, in
the firmament of his soul. He conversed with her; and with her
alone; and knew not when to go. All others were to him as if they
were not there. He saw their forms, but saw them as the forms of
inanimate things. At length her mother came; and Flemming beheld in
her but another Mary Ashburton, with beauty more mature;--the same
forehead and eyes, the same majestic figure; and, as yet, no trace
of age. He gazed upon her with a feeling of delight, not unmingled
with holy awe. She was to him the rich and glowing Evening, from
whose bosom the tremulous star was born.
Berkley took no active part in the conversation, but did what was
much more to the purpose, that it is to say, arranged a drive for
the next day with the Ashburtons, and of course invited Flemming,
who went home that night with a halo round hishead; and wondering
much at a dandy, who stood at the door of the hotel, and said to his
companion, as Flemming passed;
"What do you call this place? I have been here two hours already,
and find it devilish dull!"
CHAPTER V. A RAINY DAY.
When Flemming awoke the next morning he saw the sky dark and
lowering. From the mountain tops hung a curtain of mist, whose heavy
folds waved to and fro in the valley below. Over all the landscape,
the soft, summer rain was falling. No admiring eyes would look up
that day at the Staubbach.
A rainy day in Switzerland puts a sudden stop to many diversions.
The coachman may drive to the tavern and then back to the stable;
but no farther. The sunburnt guide may sit at the ale-house door,
and welcome; and the boatman whistle and curse the clouds, at his
own sweet will; but no foot stirs abroad for all that; no traveller
moves, if he has time to stay. The rainy daygives him time for
reflection. He has leisure now to take cognizance of his
impressions, and make up his account with the mountains. He
remembers, too, that he has friends at home; and writes up the
Journal, neglected for a week or more; and letters neglected longer;
or finishes the rough pencil-sketch, begun yesterday in the open
air. On the whole he is not sorry it rains; though disappointed.
Flemming was both sorry and disappointed; but he did not on that
account fail to go over to the Ashburtons at the appointed hour. He
found them sitting in the parlour. The mother was reading, and the
daughter retouching a sketch of the Lake of Thun. After the usual
salutations, Flemming seated himself near the daughter, and
"We shall have no Staubbach to-day, I presume; only this
Giessbach from the clouds."
"Nothing more, I suppose. So we must be content to stay in-doors;
and listen to the soundof the eves-dropping rain. It gives me time
to finish some of these rough sketches."
"It is a pleasant pastime," said Flemming; "and I perceive you
are very skilful. I am delighted to see, that you can draw a
straight line. I never before saw a lady's sketch-book, in which all
the towers did not resemble the leaning Tower of Pisa. I always
tremble for the little men under them."
"How absurd!" exclaimed Mary Ashburton, with a smile that passed
through the misty air of Flemming's thoughts, like a sunbeam; "For
one, I succeed much better in straight lines than in any others.
Here I have been trying a half-hour to make this water-wheel round;
and round it never will be."
"Then let it remain as it is. It looks uncommonly picturesque,
and may pass for a new invention."
The lady continued to sketch, and Flemming to gaze at her
beautiful face; often repeating to himself those lines in Marlow's
"O thou art fairer than the evening air,
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars!"
He certainly would have betrayed himself to the maternal eye of
Mrs. Ashburton, had she not been wholly absorbed in the follies of a
fashionable novel. Ere long the fair sketcher had paused for a
moment; and Flemming had taken her sketch-book in his hands and was
looking it through from the beginning with ever-increasing delight,
half of which he dared not express, though he favored her with some
comments and bursts of admiration.
"This is truly a very beautiful sketch of Murten and the
battle-field! How quietly the land-scape sleeps there by the lake,
after the battle! Did you ever read the ballad of Veit Weber, the
shoe-maker, on this subject? He says, the routed Burgundians jumped
into the lake, and the Swiss Leaguers shot them down like wild ducks
among the reeds. He fought in the battle and wrote the ballad
'He had himself laid hand on sword,
He who this rhyme did write;
Till evening mowed he with the sword,
And sang the song at night.'"
"You must give me the whole ballad," said Miss Ashburton; "it
will serve to illustrate the sketch."
"And the sketch to illustrate the ballad. And now we suddenly
slide down the Alps into Italy, and are even in Rome, if I mistake
not. This is surely a head of Homer?"
"Yes," replied the lady, with a little enthusiasm. "Do you not
remember the marble bust at Rome? When I first beheld that bust, it
absolutely inspired me with awe. It is not the face of a man, but of
"And you have done it no injustice in your copy," said Flemming,
catching a new enthusiasm from hers. "With what a classic grace the
fillet, passing round the majestic forehead, confines his flowing
locks, which mingle with his beard! The countenance, too, is calm,
majestic, godlike! Even the fixed and sightless eyeballs do not mar
the imageof the seer! Such were the sightless eyes of the blind old
man of Chios. They seem to look with mournful solemnity into the
mysterious future; and the marble lips to repeat that prophetic
passage in the Hymn to Apollo; 'Let me also hope to be remembered in
ages to come. And when any one, born of the tribes of men, comes
hither, a weary traveller, and inquires, who is the sweetest of the
Singing Men, that resort to your feasts, and whom you most delight
to hear, do you make answer for me. It is the Blind Man, who dwells
in Chios; his songs excel all that can ever be sung!' But do you
really believe, that this is a portrait of Homer?"
"Certainly not! It is only an artist's dream. It was thus, that
Homer appeared to him in his visions of the antique world. Every
one, you know, forms an image in his fancy of persons and things he
has never seen; and the artist reproduces them in marble or on
"And what is the image in your fancy? Is it like this?"
"No; not entirely. I have drawn my impressions from another
source. Whenever I think of Homer, which is not often, he walks
before me, solemn and serene, as in the vision of the great Italian;
in countenance neither sorrowful nor glad, followed by other bards,
and holding in his right hand a sword!"
"That is a finer conception, than even this," said Flemming. "And
I perceive from your words, as well as from this book, that you have
a true feeling for art, and understand what it is. You have had
bright glimpses into the enchanted land."
"I trust," replied the lady modestly, "that I am not wholly
without this feeling. Certainly I have as strong and passionate a
love of Art as of Nature."
"But does it not often offend you to hear people speaking of Art
and Nature as opposite and discordant things? Surely nothing can be
more false. Nature is a revelation of God; Art a revelation of man.
Indeed, Art signifies no more than this. Art is Power. That is the
original meaning of the word. It is the creative power by which the
soul of man makes itself known, through some external manifestation
or outward sign. As we can always hear the voice of God, walking in
the garden, in the cool of the day, or under the star-light, where,
to quote one of this poet's verses, 'high prospects and the brows of
all steep hills and pinnacles thrust up themselves for shows';--so,
under the twilight and the starlight of past ages, do we hear the
voice of man, walking amid the works of his hands, and city walls
and towers and the spires of churches, thrust up themselves for
The lady smiled at his warmth; and he continued;
"This, however, is but a similitude; and Art and Nature are more
nearly allied than by similitudes only. Art is the revelation of
man; and not merely that, but likewise the revelation of Nature,
speaking through man. Art preëxists in Nature, and Nature is
reproduced in Art. As vaporsfrom the ocean, floating landward and
dissolved in rain, are carried back in rivers to the ocean, so
thoughts and the semblances of things that fall upon the soul of man
in showers, flow out again in living streams of Art, and lose
themselves in the great ocean, which is Nature. Art and Nature are
not, then, discordant, but ever harmoniously working in each
Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm. Flemming spake with such evident
interest in the subject, that Miss Ashburton did not fail to
manifest some interest in what he said; and, encouraged by this, he
"Thus in this wondrous world wherein we live, which is the World
of Nature, man has made unto himself another world hardly less
wondrous, which is the World of Art. And it lies infolded and
compassed about by the other,
'And the clear region where 't was born,
Round in itself incloses.'
Taking this view of art, I think we understand more easily the
skill of the artist, and the differencebetween him and the mere
amateur. What we call miracles and wonders of art are not so to him
who created them. For they were created by the natural movements of
his own great soul. Statues, paintings, churches, poems, are but
shadows of himself;--shadows in marble, colors, stone, words. He
feels and recognises their beauty; but he thought these thoughts and
produced these things as easily as inferior minds do thoughts and
things inferior. Perhaps more easily. Vague images and shapes of
beauty floating through the soul, the semblances of things as yet
indefinite or ill-defined, and perfect only when put in art,--this
Possible Intellect, as the Scholastic Philosophers have termed
it,--the artist shares in common with us all. The lovers of art are
many. But the Active Intellect, the creative power,--the power to
put these shapes and images in art, to imbody the indefinite, and
render perfect, is his alone. He shares the gift with few. He knows
not even whence nor how this is. He knows only that it is; that God
has given him the power, which has been denied to others."
"I should have known you were just from Germany," said the lady,
with a smile, "even if you had not told me so. You are an enthusiast
for the Germans. For my part I cannot endure their harsh
"You would like it better, if you knew it better," answered
Flemming. "It is not harsh to me; but homelike, hearty, and full of
feeling, like the sound of happy voices at a fireside, of a winter's
night, when the wind blows, and the fire crackles, and hisses, and
snaps. I do indeed love the Germans; the men are so hale and hearty,
and the Fräuleins so tender and true!"
"I always think of men with pipes and beer, and women with
"O, those are English prejudices," exclaimed Flemming. "Nothing
can be more--"
"And their very literature presents itself to my imagination
under the same forms."
"I see you have read only English criticisms; and have an idea,
that all German books smell, as it were, 'of groceries, of brown
papers, filled withgreasy cakes and slices of bacon; and of fryings
in frowzy back-parlours; and this shuts you out from a glorious
world of poetry, romance, and dreams!"
Mary Ashburton smiled, and Flemming continued to turn over the
leaves of the sketch-book, with an occasional criticism and
witticism. At length he came to a leaf which was written in pencil.
People of a lively imagination are generally curious, and always so
when a little in love.
"Here is a pencil-sketch," said he, with an entreating look,
"which I would fain examine with the rest."
"You may do so, if you wish; but you will find it the poorest
sketch in the book. I was trying one day to draw the picture of an
artist's life in Rome, as it presented itself to my imagination; and
this is the result. Perhaps it may awaken some pleasant recollection
in your mind."
Flemming waited no longer; but read with the eyes of a lover, not
of a critic, the following description, which inspired him with a
new enthusiasm for Art, and for Mary Ashburton.
"I often reflect with delight upon the young artist's life in
Rome. A stranger from the cold and gloomy North, he has crossed the
Alps, and with the devotion of a pilgrim journeyed to the Eternal
City. He dwells perhaps upon the Pincian Hill; and hardly a house
there, which is not inhabited by artists from foreign lands. The
very room he lives in has been their abode from time out of mind.
Their names are written all over the walls; perhaps some further
record of them left in a rough sketch upon the window-shutter, with
an inscription and a date. These things consecrate the place, in his
imagination. Even these names, though unknown to him, are not
without associations in his mind.
"In that warm latitude he rises with the day. The night-vapors
are already rolling away over the Campagna sea-ward. As he looks
from his window, above and beyond their white folds he recognises
the tremulous blue sea at Ostia. Over Soracte rises the sun,--over
his own beloved mountain; though no longer worshipped there, asof
old. Before him, the antique house, where Raphael lived, casts its
long, brown shadow down into the heart of modern Rome. The city lies
still asleep and silent. But above its dark roofs, more than two
hundred steeples catch the sunshine on their gilded weather-cocks.
Presently the bells begin to ring, and, as the artist listens to
their pleasant chimes, he knows that in each of those churches over
the high altar, hangs a painting by some great master's hand, whose
beauty comes between him and heaven, so that he cannot pray, but
"Among these works of art he passes the day; but oftenest in St.
Peter's and the Vatican. Up the vast marble stair-case,--through the
Corridor Chiaramonti,--through vestibules, galleries, chambers,--he
passes, as in a dream. All are filled with busts and statues; or
painted in daring frescoes. What forms of strength and beauty! what
glorious creations of the human mind! and in that last chamber of
all, standing alone upon his pedestal, the Apollo found at
Actium,--in such a majestic attitude,--with such a noble
countenance, life-like, god-like!
"Or perhaps he passes into the chambers of the painters; but goes
no further than the second. For in the middle of that chamber a
large painting stands upon the heavy easel, as if unfinished, though
more than three hundred years ago the great artist completed it, and
then laid his pencil away forever, leaving this last benediction to
the world. It is the Transfiguration of Christ by Raphael. A child
looks not at the stars with greater wonder, than the artist at this
painting. He knows how many studious years are in that picture. He
knows the difficult path that leads to perfection, having himself
taken some of the first steps.--Thus he recalls the hour, when that
broad canvass was first stretched upon its frame, and Raphael stood
before it, and laid the first colors upon it, and beheld the figures
one by one born into life, and 'looked upon the work of his own
hands with a smile, that it should have succeeded so well.' He
recalls too, the hour, when, the task accomplished, the pencil
dropped from the master's dying hand, and his eyes closed to open on
a more glorious transfiguration, and at length the dead Raphael lay
in his own studio, before this wonderful painting, more glorious
than any conqueror under the banners and armorial hatchments of his
"Think you, that such sights and thoughts as these do not move
the heart of a young man and an artist! And when he goes forth into
the open air, the sun is going down, and the gray ruins of an
antique world receive him. From the Palace of the Cæsars he looks
down into the Forum, or towards the Coliseum; or westward sees the
last sunshine strike the bronze Archangel, which stands upon the
Tomb of Adrian. He walks amid a world of Art in ruins. The very
street-lamps, that light him homeward, burn before some painted or
sculptured image of the Madonna! What wonder is it, if dreams visit
him in his sleep,--nay, if his whole life seem to him a dream! What
wonder, if, with a feverish heart and quick hand, he strive to
reproduce those dreams in marble or on canvass."
Foolish Paul Flemming! who both admired and praised this little
sketch, and yet was too blind to see, that it was written from the
heart, and not from the imagination! Foolish Paul Flemming! who
thought, that a girl of twenty could write thus, without a reason!
Close upon this followed another pencil sketch, which he likewise
read, with the lady's permission. It was this.
"The whole period of the Middle Ages seems very strange to me. At
times I cannot persuade myself that such things could have been, as
history tells us; that such a strange world was a part of our
world,--that such a strange life was a part of the life, which seems
to us who are living it now, so passionless and commonplace. It is
only when I stand amid ruined castles, that look at me so
mournfully, and behold the heavy armour of old knights, hanging upon
the wainscot of Gothic chambers; or when I walk amid the aisles of
some dusky minster, whose walls are narrative ofhoar antiquity, and
whose very bells have been baptized, and see the carved oaken stalls
in the choir, where so many generations of monks have sat and sung,
and the tombs, where now they sleep in silence, to awake no more to
their midnight psalms;--it is only at such times, that the history
of the Middle Ages is a reality to me, and not a passage in
"Likewise the illuminated manuscripts of those ages have
something of this power of making the dead Past a living Present in
my mind. What curious figures are emblazoned on the creaking
parchment, making its yellow leaves laugh with gay colors! You seem
to come upon them unawares. Their faces have an expression of
wonder. They seem all to be just startled from their sleep by the
sound you made when you unloosed the brazen clasps, and opened the
curiously-carved oaken covers, that turn on hinges, like the great
gates of a city. To the building of that city some diligent monk
gave the whole of a long life. With what strange denizens he peopled
it! Adam and Eve standing under a tree, she, with the apple in her
hand;--the patriarch Abraham, with a tree growing out of his body,
and his descendants sitting owl-like upon its branches;--ladies with
flowing locks of gold; knights in armour, with most fantastic,
long-toed shoes; jousts and tournaments; and Minnesingers, and
lovers, whose heads reach to the towers, where their ladies
sit;--and all so angular, so simple, so childlike,--all in such
simple attitudes, with such great eyes, and holding up such long,
lank fingers!--These things are characteristic of the Middle Ages,
and persuade me of the truth of history."
At this moment Berkley entered, with a Swiss cottage, which he
had just bought as a present for somebody's child in England; and a
cane with a chamois-horn on the end of it, which he had just bought
for himself. This was the first time, that Flemming had been sorry
to see the good-natured man. His presence interrupted the delightful
conversation he was carrying on "under four eyes," with Mary
Ashburton. He reallythought Berkley a bore, and wondered it had
never occurred to him before. Mrs. Ashburton, too, must needs lay
down her book; and the conversation became general. Strange to say,
the Swiss dinner-hour of one o'clock, did not come a moment too soon
for Flemming. It did not even occur to him that it was early; for he
was seated beside Mary Ashburton, and at dinner one can say so much,
without being overheard.
CHAPTER VI. AFTER DINNER, AND AFTER THE MANNER OF THE BEST CRITICS.
When the learned Thomas Diafoirus wooed the fair Angélique, he
drew from his pocket a medical thesis, and presented it to her, as
the first-fruits of his genius; and at the same time, invited her,
with her father's permission, to attend the dissection of a woman,
upon whom he was to lecture. Paul Flemming did nearly the same
thing; and so often, that it had become a habit. He was continually
drawing, from his pocket or his memory, some scrap of song or story;
and inviting some fair Angélique, either with her father's
permission or without, to attend the dissection of anauthor, upon
whom he was to discourse. He soon gave proofs of this to Mary
"What books have we here for afternoon reading?" said Flemming,
taking a volume from the parlour table, when they had returned from
the dining-room. "O, it is Uhland's Poems. Have you read any thing
of his? He and Tieck are the best living poets of Germany. They
dispute the palm of superiority. Let me give you a lesson in German,
this afternoon, Miss Ashburton; so that no one may accuse you of
'omitting the sweet benefit of time, to clothe your age with
angel-like perfection.' I have opened at random upon the ballad of
the Black Knight. You repeat the German after me, and I will
translate to you. Pfingsten war, das Fest der Freude!"
"I should never persuade my unwilling lips to pronounce such
sounds. So I beg you not to perplex me with your German, but read me
the ballad in English."
"Well, then, listen. I will improvise a translation for your own
"'T was Pentecost, the Feast of Gladness,
When woods and fields put off all sadness.
Thus began the King and spake;
'So from the halls
Of ancient Hofburg's walls,
A luxuriant Spring shall break.'
"Drums and trumpets echo loudly,
Wave the crimson banners proudly.
From balcony the King looked on;
In the play of spears,
Fell all the cavaliers,
Before the monarch's stalwart son.
"To the barrier of the fight,
Rode at last a sable Knight.
'Sir Knight! your name and scutcheon, say!'
'Should I speak it here,
Ye would stand aghast with fear;
Am a Prince of mighty sway!'
"When he rode into the lists,
The arch of heaven grew black with mists,
And the castle 'gan to rock.
At the first blow,
Fell the youth from saddle-bow,
Hardly rises from the shock.
"Pipe and viol call the dances,
Torch-light through the high halls glances;
Waves a mighty shadow in.
With manner bland
Doth ask the maiden's hand,
Doth with her the dance begin.
"Danced in sable iron sark,
Danced a measure weird and dark,
Coldly clasped her limbs around.
From breast and hair
Down fall from her the fair
Flowerets wilted to the ground.
"To the sumptuous banquet came
Every Knight and every Dame.
'Twixt son and daughter all distraught,
With mournful mind
The ancient King reclined,
Gazed at them in silent thought.
"Pale the children both did look,
But the guest a beaker took;
'Golden wine will make you whole!"
The children drank,
Gave many a courteous thank;
'O that draught was very cool!'
"Each the father's breast embraces,
Son and daughter; and their faces
Colorless grow utterly.
Looks the fear-struck father gray,
He beholds his children die.
" 'Woe! the blessed children both,
Takest thou in the joy of youth;
Take me, too, the joyless father!'
Spake the Grim Guest,
From his hollow, cavernous breast;
'Roses in the spring I gather!'"
"That is indeed a striking ballad!" said Miss Ashburton, "but
rather too grim and ghostly for this dull afternoon."
"It begins joyously enough with the feast of Pentecost, and the
crimson banners at the old castle. Then the contrast is well
managed. The Knight in black mail, and the waving in of the mighty
shadow in the dance, and the dropping of the faded flowers, are all
strikingly presented to the imagination. However, it tellsits own
story, and needs no explanation. Here is something in a different
vein, though still melancholy. The Castle by the Sea. Shall I read
"Yes, if you like."
"Hast thou seen that lordly castle,
That Castle by the Sea?
Golden and red above it
The clouds float gorgeously.
"And fain it would stoop downward
To the mirrored wave below;
And fain it would soar upward
In the evening's crimson glow.
" 'Well have I seen that castle,
That Castle by the Sea,
And the moon above it standing,
And the mist rise solemnly.'
"The winds and the waves of ocean,
Had they a merry chime?
Didst thou hear, from those lofty chambers,
The harp and the minstrel's rhyme?
" 'The winds and the waves of ocean,
They rested quietly,
But I heard on the gale a sound of wail,
And tears came to my eye.'
"And sawest thou on the turrets
The King and his royal bride?
And the wave of their crimson mantles?
And the golden crown of pride?
"Led they not forth in rapture
A beauteous maiden there?
Resplendent as the morning sun,
Beaming with golden hair?
" 'Well saw I the ancient parents,
Without the crown of pride;
They were moving slow, in weeds of woe,
No maiden was by their side!'
How do you like that?"
"It is very graceful, and pretty. But Uhland seems to leave a
great deal to his reader's imagination. All his readers should be
poets themselves, or they will hardly comprehend him. I confess,
Ihardly understand the passage where he speaks of the castle's
stooping downward to the mirrored wave below, and then soaring
upward into the gleaming sky. I suppose, however, he wishes to
express the momentary illusion we experience at beholding a perfect
reflection of an old tower in the sea, and look at it as if it were
not a mere shadow in the water; and yet the real tower rises far
above, and seems to float in the crimson evening clouds. Is that the
"I should think it was. To me it is all a beautiful cloud
landscape, which I comprehend and feel, and yet should find some
difficulty perhaps in explaining."
"And why need one always explain? Some feelings are quite
untranslatable. No language has yet been found for them. They gleam
upon us beautifully through the dim twilight of fancy, and yet, when
we bring them close to us, and hold them up to the light of reason,
lose their beauty, all at once; just as glow-worms, which gleam with
such a spiritual light in the shadows of evening, when brought in
where the candlesare lighted, are found to be only worms, like so
"Very true. We ought sometimes to be content with feeling. Here,
now, is an exquisite piece, which soothes one like the fall of
evening shadows,--like the dewy coolness of twilight after a sultry
day. I shall not give you a bald translation of my own, because I
have laid up in my memory another, which, though not very literal,
equals the original in beauty. Observe how finely it commences.
"Many a year is in its grave,
Since I crossed this restless wave;
And the evening, fair as ever,
Shines on ruin, rock, and river.
"Then, in this same boat, beside,
Sat two comrades old and tried;
One with all a father's truth,
One with all the fire of youth.
"One on earth in silence wrought,
And his grave in silence sought;
But the younger, brighter form
Passed in battle and in storm!
"So, whene'er I turn my eye
Back upon the days gone by,
Saddening thoughts of friends come o'er me,--
Friends, who closed their course before me.
"Yet what binds us, friend to friend,
But that soul with soul can blend?
Soul-like were those hours of yore;
Let us walk in soul once more!
"Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee;
Take,--I give it willingly;
For, invisibly to thee,
Spirits twain have crossed with me!"
"O, that is beautiful,--'beautiful exceedingly!' Who translated
"I do not know. I wish I could find him out. It is certainly
admirably done; though in the measure of the original there is
something like the rocking motion of a boat, which is not preserved
in the translation."
"And is Uhland always so soothing and spiritual?"
"Yes, he generally looks into the spirit-world. I am now trying
to find here a little poem on the Death of a Country Clergyman; in
which he introduces a beautiful picture. But I cannot turn to it. No
matter. He describes the spirit of the good old man, returning to
earth on a bright summer morning, and standing amid the golden corn
and the red and blue flowers, and mildly greeting the reapers as of
old. The idea is beautiful, is it not?"
"Yes, very beautiful!"
"But there is nothing morbid in Uhland's mind. He is always fresh
and invigorating, like a breezy morning. In this he differs entirely
from such writers as Salis and Matthisson."
"And who are they?"
"Two melancholy gentlemen to whom life was only a Dismal Swamp,
upon whose margin they walked with cambric handkerchiefs in their
hands, sobbing and sighing, and making signals to Death, to come and
ferry them over the lake. And now their spirits stand in the green
fields of German song, like two weeping-willows, bending over
agrave. To read their poems, is like wandering through a village
churchyard on a summer evening, reading the inscription upon the
grave-stones, and recalling sweet images of the departed; while
'Hark! in the holy grove of palms,
Where the stream of life runs free,
Echoes, in the angels' psalms,
'Sister spirit! hail to thee!'"
"How musically those lines flow! Are they Matthisson's!"
"Yes; and they do indeed flow musically. I wish I had his poems
here. I should like to read to you his Elegy on the Ruins of an
Ancient Castle. It is an imitation of Gray's Elegy. You have been at
"Yes; last summer."
"And have not forgotten--"
"The old castle? Of course not. What a magnificent ruin it
"That is the scene of Matthisson's Poem, andseems to have filled
the melancholy bard with more than wonted inspiration."
"I should like very much to see the poem, I remember that old
ruin with so much delight."
"I am sorry I have not a translation of it for you. Instead of it
I will give you a sweet and mournful poem from Salis. It is called
the Song of the Silent Land.
"Into the Silent Land!
Ah! who shall lead us thither!
Clouds in the evening sky more darkly gather,
And shattered wrecks lie thicker on the strand.
Who leads us with a gentle hand,
Thither, oh, thither.
Into the Silent Land?
"Into the Silent Land!
To you, ye boundless regions
Of all perfection! Tender morning-visions
Of beauteous souls! Eternity's own band!
Who in Life's battle firm doth stand,
Shall bear Hope's tender blossoms
Into the Silent Land!
"O Land! O Land!
For all the broken-hearted
The mildest herald by our fate allotted,
Beckons, and with inverted torch doth stand
To lead us with a gentle hand
Into the land of the great departed,
Into the Silent Land!
Is not that a beautiful poem?"
Mary Ashburton made no answer. She had turned away to hide her
tears. Flemming wondered, that Berkley could say she was not
beautiful. Still he was rather pleased than offended at it. He felt
at that moment how sweet a thing it would be to possess one, who
should seem beautiful to him alone, and yet to him be more beautiful
than all the world beside! How bright the world became to him at
that thought! It was like one of those paintings in which all the
light streams from the face of the Virgin. O, there is nothing
holier in this life of ours, than the first consciousness of
love,--the first fluttering of its silken wings; the first rising
sound and breath of thatwind, which is so soon to sweep through the
soul, to purify or to destroy!
Old histories tell us, that the great Emperor Charlemagne stamped
his edicts with the hilt of his sword. The greater Emperor, Death,
stamps his with the blade; and they are signed and executed with the
same stroke. Flemming received that night a letter from Heidelberg,
which told him, that Emma of Ilmenau was dead. The fate of this poor
girl affected him deeply; and he said in his heart;
"Father in Heaven! Why was the lot of this weak and erring child
so hard! What had she done, to be so tempted in her weakness, and
perish? Why didst thou suffer her gentle affections to lead her thus
And, through the silence of the awful midnight, the voice of an
avalanche answered from the distant mountains, and seemed to
"Peace! peace! Why dost thou question God's providence!"
CHAPTER VII. TAKE CARE!
Fair is the valley of Lauterbrunnen with its green meadows and
overhanging cliffs. The ruined castle of Unspunnen stands like an
armed warder at the gate of the enchanted land. In calm serenity the
snowy mountains rise beyond. Fairer than the Rock of Balmarusa, you
frowning precipice looks down upon us; and, from the topmost cliff,
the white pennon of the Brook of Dust shimmers and waves in the
It was a bright, beautiful morning after nightrain. Every dewdrop
and raindrop had a whole heaven within it; and so had the heart of
Paul Flemming, as, with Mrs. Ashburton and her dark-eyed daughter,
he drove up the Valley of Lauter-brunnen,--the Valley of
"How beautiful the Jungfrau looks this morning!" exclaimed he,
looking at Mary Ashburton.
She thought he meant the mountain, and assented. But he meant her
"And the mountains, beyond," he continued; "the Monk and the
Silver-horn, the Wetter-horn the Schreck-horn, and the Schwarz-horn,
all those sublime apostles of Nature, whose sermons are avalanches!
Did you ever behold anything more grand!"
"O yes. Mont Blanc is more grand, when you behold it from the
hills opposite. It was there that I was most moved by the
magnificence of Swiss scenery. It was a morning like this; and the
clouds, that were hovering about on their huge, shadowy wings, made
the scene only the more magnificent. Before me lay the whole
panorama of the Alps; pine forests standing dark and solemn at the
base of the mountains; and half-way up a veil of mist; above which
rose the snowy summits, and sharp needles of rock, which seemed to
float in the air, like a fairy world. Then the glaciersstood on
either side, winding down through the mountain ravines; and, high
above all, rose the white, dome-like summit of Mont Blanc. And ever
and anon from the shroud of mist came the awful sound of an
avalanche, and a continual roar, as of the wind through a forest of
pines, filled the air. It was the roar of the Arve and Aveiron,
breaking from their icy fountains. Then the mists began to pass
away; and it seemed as if the whole firmament were rolling together.
It recalled to my mind that sublime passage in the Apocalypse; 'I
saw a great white throne; and him that sat thereon; before whose
face the heavens and the earth fled away, and found no place!' O, I
cannot believe that upon this earth there is a more magnificent
"It must be grand, indeed," replied Flemming. "And those mighty
glaciers,--huge monsters with bristling crests, creeping down into
the valley! for it is said they really move."
"Yes; it filled me with a strange sensation of awe to think of
this. They seemed to me like the dragons of Northern Romance, which
come down from the mountains and devour whole villages. A little
hamlet in Chamouni was once abandoned by its inhabitants, terrified
at the approach of the icy dragon. But is it possible you have never
been at Chamouni?
"Never. The great marvel still remains unseen by me."
"Then how can you linger here so long? Were I in your place I
would not lose an hour."
These words passed over the opening blossoms of hope in the soul
of Flemming, like a cold wind over the flowers in spring-time. He
bore it as best he could, and changed the subject.
I do not mean to describe the Valley of Lauterbrunnen, nor the
bright day passed there. I know that my gentle reader is blessed
with the divine gift of a poetic fancy; and can see already how the
mountains rise, and the torrents fall, and the sweet valley lies
between; and how, along the dusty road, the herdsman blows his horn,
and travellers come and go in charabans, like Punch and Judy in a
show-box. He knows already how romantic ladies sketch romantic
scenes; while sweet gentlemen gather sweet flowers; and how cold
meat tastes under the shadow of trees, and how time flies when we
are in love, and the beloved one near. One little incident I must,
however, mention, lest his fancy should not suggest it.
Flemming was still sitting with the ladies, on the green slope
near the Staubbach, or Brook of Dust, when a young man clad in
green, came down the valley. It was a German student, with flaxen
ringlets hanging over his shoulders, and a guitar in his hand. His
step was free and elastic, and his countenance wore the joyous
expression of youth and health. He approached the company with a
courteous salutation; and, after the manner of travelling students,
asked charity with the confident air of one unaccustomed to refusal.
Nor was he refused in this instance. The presence of those we love
makes us compassionate and generous. Flemming gave him a piece of
gold; and after a short conversation he seated himself, at alittle
distance on the grass, and began to play and sing. Wonderful and
many were the sweet accords and plaintive sounds that came from that
little instrument, touched by the student's hand. Every feeling of
the human heart seemed to find an expression there, and awaken a
kindred feeling in the hearts of those who heard him. He sang sweet
German songs, so full of longing, and of pleasing sadness, and hope
and fear, and passionate desire, and soul-subduing sorrow, that the
tears came into Mary Ashburton's eyes, though she understood not the
words he sang. Then his countenance glowed with triumph, and he beat
the strings like a drum, and sang;
"O, how the drum beats so loud!
Close beside me in the fight,
My dying brother says, Good Night!
And the cannon's awful breath
Screams the loud halloo of Death!
And the drum,
And the drum,
Beats so loud!"
Many were the words of praise, when the young musician ended;
and, as he rose to depart, they still entreated for one song more.
Whereupon he played a lively prelude; and, looking full into
Flemming's face, sang with a pleasant smile, and still in German,
this little song.
"I KNOW a maiden fair to see,
She can both false and friendly be,
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!
"She has two eyes, so soft and brown,
She gives a side-glance and looks down,
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!
"And she has hair of a golden hue,
And what she says, it is not true,
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!
"She has a bosom as white as snow,
She knows how much it is best to show,
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!
"She gives thee a garland woven fair,
It is a fool's cap for thee to wear,
Trust her not,
She is fooling thee!"
The last stanza he sung in a laughing, triumphant tone, which
resounded above the loud clang of his guitar, like the jeering laugh
of Till Eulenspiegel. Then slinging his guitar over his shoulder, he
took off his green cap, and made a leg to the ladies, in the style
of Gil Blas; waved his hand in the air, and walked quickly down the
valley, singing "Adé! Adé! Adé!"
CHAPTER VIII. THE FOUNTAIN OF OBLIVION.
The power of magic in the Middle Ages created monsters, who
followed the unhappy magician everywhere. The power of Love in all
ages creates angels, who likewise follow the happy or unhappy lover
everywhere, even in his dreams. By such an angel was Paul Flemming
now haunted, both when he waked and when he slept. He walked as in a
dream; and was hardly conscious of the presence of those around him.
A sweet face looked at him from every page of every book he read;
and it was the face of Mary Ashburton! a sweet voice spake to him in
every sound he heard; and it was the voice of Mary Ashburton! Day
and night succeeded each other, with pleasant interchange of light
and darkness; but to him thepassing of time was only as a dream.
When he arose in the morning, he thought only of her, and wondered
if she were yet awake; and when he lay down at night he thought only
of her, and how, like the Lady Christabel,
"Her gentle limbs she did undress,
And lay down in her loveliness."
And the livelong day he was with her, either in reality or in
day-dreams, hardly less real; for, in each delirious vision of his
waking hours, her beauteous form passed like the form of Beatrice
through Dante's heaven; and, as he lay in the summer afternoon, and
heard at times the sound of the wind in the trees, and the sound of
Sabbath bells ascending up to heaven, holy wishes and prayers
ascended with them from his inmost soul, beseeching that he might