Part 8 out of 11
You would hinder me from discovering who are enemies of the Crown? I
will open that door.
You defy me? You set yourself in opposition to the King?
Yes. I feel within me the power to do it. Ladies, hear now why I invited
you to these rooms tonight--why I asked you to appear before your queen.
Yes, Sire, the purpose of this hour was that the threads of your
political scheming might be torn apart by two hands destined to be
united for life.
Wilhelmine, I freed you from a captivity unworthy the daughter of a
King. Open that door, Sire; you will find there my nephew, my future
son-in-law, the Prince of Wales.
The Prince of Wales!
KING (_when he has gained control of himself_).
Madame, you have achieved your purpose. You have torn asunder the ties
that bound me to my family, that bound me to life. You know that my
honor, that my good name, are more to me than all political
calculations. You know that this scene here at night, this secret
understanding with one who in my eyes is merely an adventurous stranger,
has ruined Wilhelmine's reputation forever. You may enjoy your triumph
at your future widow's-seat, Oranienbaum, to which place I now banish
you, according to our House's laws, for the few remaining years of my
WILHELMINE (_hurrying to the_ KING's _side_).
No--no, not that.
Madame, admit the Prince of Wales.
_The_ QUEEN, _breathing heavily, staggers to the door. After a moment's
upward glance she opens it. The_ PRINCE OF BAIREUTH _comes in, wrapped
in a white cloak_. HOTHAM _follows, carrying a pointed metal helmet,
such as belonged to the Prussian uniform of that day. The helmet must
not be seen at first_.
What? Whom do I see?
The Prince of Baireuth?
Baronet, what does this mean? Where is the Prince of Wales?
Your Majesty, I am all astonishment. I have but just learned that the
prince is now on a journey to Scotland.
The Prince is not in Berlin?
While some trustworthy witnesses insist that the Prince was actually
here, others again assert that he returned to England the very moment in
which he realized that his patriotic interests--the interests of the
cotton industry--could not be reconciled with the inclinations of his
And what is the Prince of Baireuth doing here?
He seeks, as we do, the Prince of Wales, with whom he desires a duel to
A duel? And why?
Because this poor Prince of a tiny country does not begrudge the heir to
a World-Power his fleet, his army, nor his treasures; but he refuses to
yield _one_ treasure to him except at the price of his heart's
blood--and that treasure is the hand of Princess Wilhelmine, whom
he loves. [_General emotion_.]
Whom he loves? My daughter's hand? But does the Prince of Baireuth
[HOTHAM _takes off the_ PRINCE'S _cloak and places the helmet on his
head. The_ PRINCE _stands there in the uniform of a grenadier of the
period. His hair is braided into a long pigtail. He stands motionless in
a military attitude_.]
What's this I see? The Prince of Baireuth a grenadier?
The equipment of the young recruit of the Glasenapp Regiment. I have the
honor to present him to Your Majesty before his departure for Pasewalk.
A German Prince, who deems it an honor to serve up from the ranks in my
army? [_Commands_.] Battalion--left wheel! Battalion--forward march!
[PRINCE _executes manoeuvers and marches to_ WILHELMINE.]
Halt! [_To_ WILHELMINE] Is the enemy yonder disposed to accept the
capitulation on this side?
Entire regiment--right wheel! Forward march--right, left, twenty-one,
[_All three march over to the_ QUEEN _who stands to the left of the
WILHELMINE AND THE PRINCE (_kneeling at the_ QUEEN'S _feet_).
There was no such order given.
But it was the hearts' impulse.
HOTHAM (_good-naturedly, whispering to the_ QUEEN).
Your Majesty, won't you correct the mistakes of these two young
Out of my sight, you traitor to your Royal House! Arise, Wilhelmine.
[_To the_ KING, _hesitating_.] But we still have Austria....
But Austria hasn't us. The minions--eh, prince! Tomorrow there'll be
dismissals--dismissals and pensionings! Well, mother, shall we take him
for a son-in-law?
On the condition that I--that I fix the amount of the dowry.
And also that you [_embracing the_ QUEEN] remain close to my heart. Now
only Friedrich is lacking. And all this is the result of your--your
cotton industries! Baronet Hotham? Thanks for this splendid recruit.
[_In_ HOTHAM'S _ear, audibly_] How did he sober up so soon?
I crave your forgiveness Your Majesty--I am still drunk with joy.
Forgiveness? For your speech, my son? If that which you have said shall
one day be written into the book of history, then my old heart is quite
content, and has but the wish that they might add: "With his Sword he
would be King, but with his Pigtail--merely the first citizen of his
* * * * *
GERMAN LYRIC POETRY FROM 1830 to 1848
BY JOHN S. NOLLEN, PH.D.
President of Lake Forest College
The years from 1830 to 1848 were distinctively revolutionary years in
Germany, which until then had remained strongly conservative. The spirit
of political and social reformation, which had caused the great upheaval
of the French Revolution late in the eighteenth century, had made itself
felt much more slowly across the Rhine. Even the generous enthusiasm
that animated the German people in the War of Liberation against
Napoleon in 1813 had ebbed away into disappointment and lethargy when
the German princes forgot their pledges of internal reform. The policy
of the German and Austrian rulers was dominated by the reactionary
Austrian Prime Minister, Prince Metternich, a consistent champion of
aristocratic ideas and of the "divine right of Kings." The "Revolution
of July," 1830, however, which overthrew the Bourbon dynasty in France,
had its counterpart in popular movements that forced the granting of
constitutions or other liberal concessions in several German states;
and, though the policy of Metternich still remained dominant, the
liberal sentiment grew in power until the February revolution of 1848 in
Paris inspired similar upheavals in all Germany. Metternich himself was
now compelled to retire, Frederick William IV. of Prussia granted his
people a constitution, and the other German states seethed with revolt;
but the great liberal plan to unify Germany under the leadership of
Prussia was nullified by Frederick William's refusal to accept the
imperial crown from a democratic assembly.
The lyric poetry of Germany in these years inevitably reflected the
liberal sentiment of the time; it is always the radical emotion of any
revolutionary period that finds the most effective lyric expression, the
conservative state of mind being more characteristically prosaic. For
the group of ardent spirits who made themselves the heralds of the new
day, one of their number, the novelist and dramatist Karl Gutzkow, found
the name "Young Germany." Just as the "Storm and Stress" of 1770 to
1780, and the Romantic movement of the opening nineteenth century,
represented a spirit of sharp revolt against the then dominant
pseudo-classicism and rationalism, so "Young Germany" reacted
passionately against the moonlight sentimentality of the popular
romantic poets, as well as against the stupid political conservatism of
the time. The aim of the Young Germans was to bring literature down from
the clouds into vital contact with the immediate problems of the day.
Thus there was developed a body of literature strongly polemic in
purpose, quite hostile to the ideals of detachment and disinterested
worship of beauty that Goethe and Schiller in their classical period had
preached and practised. This literature took the form of fiction, drama,
and journalism, as well as of poetry. Indeed, the only important lyric
poet of the Young German group was HEINRICH HEINE (1797-1856), who had
begun his career with the most intimate poetry of personal confession,
in which the simplicity of the folk-song and the nature-feeling of the
romanticist are strongly tinged with wit and cynicism. Heine's
impatience with German conditions led him to expatriate himself, and
from his retreat in Paris to aim venomous shafts of satire at his native
land, with its "three dozen masters" and its philistine conservative
nightcaps and dumplings. This brilliant poet, with his marvelous mastery
of German lyric tones, expressed a wide range of poetic inspiration; but
he loved particularly to conceive of himself as an apostle of liberty,
an outpost of the revolutionary army, and none so well as he could tip
the barb with biting sarcasm and satire. Heine's personality was full
of seemingly inconsistent traits. He was both fanciful and rational,
serious and flippant, tender and cynical, reverent and impious; and he
could be at once a patriot and an alien. He was, to use his own phrase,
an "unfrocked romanticist"--at once a brilliant representative of the
poetry of self-expression and personal caprice, and an exemplar and
prophet of a new ideal, the "holy alliance of poetry with the cause of
The different attitudes of thoughtful men toward the influences of the
time were variously reflected in the work of three leading poets, all
older than Heine, who contributed largely to the lyric output of the
period. ADELBERT VON CHAMISSO (1781-1835), of aristocratic French
descent, and using all the familiar romantic forms and motives, was yet
thoroughly democratic and prophetically modern in his unalloyed sympathy
with the impoverished victims of the social order. It was something new
for German poetry to find inspiration in the wrath of a beggar who
cannot pay his dog-tax, the sardonic piety of an old widow reduced to
penury by the exactions of the "gracious prince," or the laborious
resignation of an aged washerwoman.--The Silesian nobleman JOSEPH VON
EICHENDORFF (1788-1857), Prussian officer and civil official, was a
consistent conservative in his political attitude, a pious Catholic, and
a romanticist in every fibre of his poetic soul. His lyrics are the
purest echoes of folk-song and folk-lore, and the simplicity and
genuineness of his art give an undying charm to his songs of idyllic
meadows and woodlands, post-chaises, carefree wanderers, and lovely
maidens in picturesque settings; all suffused with gentle yearning and
melting into soft melody. Eichendorff's patriotism was of the
traditional type, echoing faintly the battle-hymns of the War of
Liberation. For the great liberal movement of the thirties and forties
he had neither sympathy nor comprehension.--FRIEDRICH RUeCKERT
(1788-1866), endowed with a fatal facility of lyric expression, a
virtuoso for whom no _tour-de-force_ was too difficult, lived most of
his life aloof from the political and social movements of his time. In
his youth his _Sonnets in Armor_ had done sturdy service in the national
awakening against Napoleon, but his maturer years were devoted to
domestic and academic interests. Every impression of his life, whether
deep or fleeting, was material for a poem or a cycle. He handled with
consummate skill the odd or complicated metres of eastern and southern
lyric forms, and he was most versatile as a translator of foreign
poetry, ancient and modern, occidental and oriental. His unusual formal
talent and mastery of language were a constant temptation to rapid and
superficial versifying; but there are in the vast mass of his production
many genuine poems of great beauty.
Two other poets of quite distinctive quality stood aloof from the
political interests of the time. The talented Westphalian Catholic
poetess ANNETTE VON DROSTE-HUeLSHOFF (1797-1848) has a place apart in her
generation, not only for the fine religious poems of her _Christian
Year_ (similar in plan to Keble's cycle), but also for her nature-lyrics
and songs of common life, which are marked by minute realistic detail
and refreshing originality of observation and sentiment. This pious
gentlewoman, usually so maidenly in her reserve, nevertheless expressed
something of the spirit of emancipation in her quiet protest against the
narrow conventional limits of the feminine life. But she would have
recoiled with horror from the reckless propaganda for sex-freedom that
was a part of the Young German campaign, as she also repudiated the
violence of the revolutionists of 1848.--If there is something masculine
in Fraeulein von Droste's firm and plastic touch, there is something
almost feminine in the finely-chiseled lyrics of the Protestant pastor
EDUARD MOeRIKE (1804-1875), whose _Poems_ appeared in the same year
(1838), and blended the folk-song simplicity and melody of an
Eichendorff with the classical form-sense of a Keats. This Suabian
country vicar, the youngest member of the group about Uhland, lived in
the utmost serenity amid the troubles of revolutionary agitation,
devoted to his art, turning the common experiences of every day into
forms of beauty, or reviving with charming naivete the romantic figures
of medieval poetry.
We emerge completely from the quietude and piety of these individualists
when we come to a group of men who were distinctively political poets.
Here we find the direct lyric expression of the revolutionary movement.
The first in the field was ANASTASIUS GRUeN (the pen-name of Count Anton
von Auersperg, 1806-1876). This Austrian nobleman boldly attacked the
reactionary policy of Metternich in his _Saunterings of a Viennese Poet_
(1831); with biting irony he pictures the fate of the Greek patriot
Hypsilantes, broken in health by the "hospitality" of Austrian
prison-fortresses, or describes the all-powerful minister-of-state
enjoying his social triumphs in the palace ball-room, while Austria
stands outside the gate vainly pleading for liberty. In another
collection entitled _Debris_ (1836) there are whole-hearted protests
against the political martyrdom of the best patriots, and the oppressive
despotism under which Italy groaned, with which Gruen contrasts the
blessings of liberty in America.
Anastasius Gruen was the forerunner. The period of the real dominance of
political poetry began with 1840, when a petty official in a Rhenish
village, Nikolaus Becker, electrified Germany with a martial poem, _The
German Rhine_, inspired by French threats of war with Prussia and of the
conquest of the Rhine territory. The same events inspired Max
Schneckenburger's _Wacht am Rhein_, which at the time could not compete
in popularity with Becker's poem, but in later years has quite
supplanted it as a permanent national song. German officialdom, which
had looked askance at all political poetry, easily saw the value to the
national defense of such patriotic strains, and now encouraged these
national singers with gifts and honors. But political poetry could not
be kept within officially recognized bounds. Inevitably it became
partisan and revolutionary in character. HEINRICH HOFFMANN (who styled
himself VON FALLERS-LEBEN after his birthplace; 1798-1874), one of the
most prolific lyric poets of Germany, had the knack of expressing the
common feeling in poems that became genuine national songs; the most
famous of these, _Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles_ (1841), is still
sung wherever those who love Germany congregate. But from this
expression of the common German tradition Hoffmann went on to espouse
the liberal cause, and he had his taste of martyrdom when he lost his
professorship at Breslau because of his ironical _Unpolitical Songs_
(1840-42). Hoffmann was essentially an improviser, and sang only too
copiously in all the tones and fashions of German verse.
FERDINAND FREILIGRATH (1810-1876) gained immediate fame with the
brilliant color and tropical exuberance of his early oriental lyrics, of
which the much-declaimed _Lion's Ride_ is an excellent example. But
Freiligrath's strongest work was in the field of political poetry. He,
too, made sacrifices for the faith that was in him; he gave up a royal
pension and twice went into voluntary exile in order to be free to
express his liberal sentiments. He began, indeed, with the denial of any
partisan bias; but when the Revolution of 1848 broke, no other poet
found more daring and eloquent words for the spirit of revolt and of
democratic enthusiasm than Freiligrath. And when the war of 1870 again
brought new hope of German unity, Freiligrath sang in stirring measures
this national awakening.
GEORG HERWEGH (1817-1875), also driven into exile by his opposition to
the government, created a sensation with his _Poems of the Living_
(1841), which in ringing refrains incited to revolutionary action. But
when the deed followed the word, and Herwegh led an invading column of
laborers into Baden in 1848, he lacked the courage of the martyr and
fled from the peril of death. _GOTTFRIED KINKEL_ (1815-1882) also took
part in the insurrection in Baden, was captured, and condemned to life
imprisonment, but escaped with the aid of Carl Schurz in 1850. FRANZ
DINGELSTEDT (1814-1881), on the other hand, found his sarcastic _Songs
of a Political Night-Watchman_ (1842) no bar to appointment as director
of the theatres of Munich, Weimar and Vienna.
While the poets of the revolution were busily at work, the conservatives
were not altogether voiceless; nor were the notes of the romantic lyric
silenced. Indeed, men like Hoffmann, Herwegh, and Kinkel could not deny
the strong influence of the romantic motives and tones upon much of
their best poetry. One lyrist greater than any of them was dominated by
the romantic tradition--an Austrian nobleman of mingled German, Slavonic
and Hungarian blood, NIKOLAUS LENAU (the pen-name of Nikolaus Franz
Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau, 1802-1850). A gifted musician, Lenau was
also a master of the melody of words, and his nature-feeling was
unusually deep and true. Abnormally proud, self-centred and sensitive as
he was, Lenau was born to unhappiness and disillusionment; his journey
to America, begun with the most generous anticipations, ended in
homesickness and bitter disappointment. Before he had reached middle
life, his genius went out in the darkness of insanity. The picturesque
and the tragic fascinated Lenau; he could sing with genuine sympathy the
fate of dismembered Poland, or the lawless freedom of Hungarian rebels
and gipsies; but for the great political movements of the day he had
little regard. In the melodious interpretation of nature in sad and
quiet moods he had no rival.
Very different was the wholesome and chivalrous nature of the young
Moravian Count MORITZ VON STRACHWITZ (1822-1847), whose ballads are
unmatched in German literature for spirit and fire. Strachwitz despised
the democratic agitation of the revolutionists, and sang with fine
enthusiasm the coming of the strong man, who, after all the intrigues of
the demagogues, like another Alexander should cut the Gordian knot with
With EMANUEL GEIBEL (1815-1884) we come to the voice of fair compromise
between the extremes. Geibel was a conservative liberal, honestly
patriotic without partisanship. Thus his _Twelve Sonnets for
Schleswig-Holstein_ (1846) were broadly German in inspiration, and his
love of liberty was matched by his aristocratic hatred of the mob.
Geibel succeeded in once more gaining the widest popularity, in days
filled with partisan clamor, for the pure lyric of romantic inspiration.
He was in a true sense the poet-laureate of his generation. Lacking in
real originality, he was yet sincere in the expression of his emotion,
and his faultless form clothed the utterance of a soul of rare purity
As in the days after the War of Liberation, so in the years following
the revolutionary movements of 1848, the generous hopes of the people
seemed doomed to perish in weariness and disappointment, and the voice
of democratic poetry was silenced. In the reaction that followed the
intoxication of liberal enthusiasm, with the failure of the attempt to
unify Germany under Prussian leadership, the German lands relapsed into
dull acquiescence in the old regime. But the seed of the new day had
been sown, and the harvest came in due time. Strachwitz's intuition was
justified; the strong man did appear, in the person of Bismarck, and the
"Gordian knot" was cut with the sword of the war of 1870. But the
liberal dream of 1848 was realized, also, in the creation of a unified
and powerful German Empire on a constitutional basis.
* * * * *
[Illustration: ANASTASIUS GRUeN]
A SALON SCENE (1831)
Evening: In the festive halls the light of many candles gleams,
Shedding from the mirrors' crystal thousand-fold reflected beams.
In the sea of light are gliding, with a stately, solemn air,
Honored, venerable matrons, ladies young and very fair.
And among them wander slowly, clad in festive garments grand,
Here the valiant sons of battle, there the rulers of the land.
But on one that I see moving every eye is fixed with fear--
Few indeed among the chosen have the courage to draw near.
He it is by whose firm guidance Austrians' fortunes rise or sink,
He who in the Princes' Congress for them all must act and think.
But behold him now! How gracious, courteous, gentle he's to all,
And how modest, unassuming, and how kind to great and small!
In the light his orders sparkle with a faint and careless grace,
But a friendly, gentle smile is always playing on his face
When he plucks the ruddy rose leaves that some rounded bosom wears,
Or when, like to withered blossoms, kingdoms he asunder tears.
Equally enchanting is it, when he praises golden curls,
Or when, from anointed heads, the royal crowns away he hurls.
Yes, methinks 'tis heavenly rapture, which delights the happy man
Whom his words to Elba's fastness or to Munkacs' prison ban.
Could all Europe now but see him, so engaging, so gallant,
How the ladies, young and old, his winning smiles delight, enchant;
How the church's pious clergy, and the doughty men of war,
And the state's distinguished servants by his grace enraptured are.
Man of state and man of counsel, since you're in a mood so kind,
Since you're showing to all present such a gracious frame of mind,
See, without, a needy client standing waiting at your door
Whom the slightest sign of favor will make happy evermore.
And you do not need to fear him; he's intelligent and fair;
Hidden 'neath his homely garments, knife nor dagger does he wear.
'Tis the Austrian people, open, honest, courteous as can be.
See, they're pleading: "May we ask you for the freedom to be free?"
* * * * *
[Illustration: NICOLAUS LENAU]
Eye of darkness, dim dominioned,
Stay, enchant me with thy might,
Earnest, gentle, dreamy-pinioned,
Sweet, unfathomable night.
With magician's mantle cover
All this day-world from my sight,
That for aye thy form may hover
O'er my being, lovely night.
* * * * *
SEDGE SONGS (1832)
In the west the sun departing
Leaves the weary day asleep,
And the willows trail their streamers
In these waters still and deep.
Flow, my bitter tears, flow ever;
All I love I leave behind;
Sadly whisper here the willows,
And the reed shakes in the wind.
Into my deep lonely sufferings
Tenderly you shine afar,
As athwart these reeds and rushes
Trembles soft yon evening star.
Oft at eve I love to saunter
Where the sedge sighs drearily,
By entangled hidden footpaths,
Love! and then I think of thee.
When the woods gloom dark and darker,
Sedges in the night-wind moan,
Then a faint mysterious wailing
Bids me weep, still weep alone.
And methinks I hear it wafted,
Thy sweet voice, remote yet clear,
Till thy song, descending slowly,
Sinks into the silent mere.
Angry sunset sky,
Every breeze doth fly,
Sultry air and dead.
From the lurid storm
Pallid lightnings break,
Their swift transient form
Flashes through the lake.
And I seem to see
Thyself, wondrous nigh--
Streaming wild and free
Thy long tresses fly.
* * * * *
[Illustration: EVENING ON THE SHORE HANS AM ENDE]
SONGS BY THE LAKE (1832)
In the sky the sun is failing,
And the weary day would sleep,
Here the willow fronds are trailing
In the water still and deep.
From my darling I must sever:
Stream, oh tears, stream forth amain!
In the breeze the rushes quiver
And the willow sighs in pain.
On my soul in silence grieving
Mild thou gleamest from afar,
As through rushes interweaving
Gleams the mirrored evening star.
Sunset dull and drear;
Dark the clouds drive past;
Sultry, full of fear,
All the winds fly fast.
Through the sky's wild rack
Shoots the lightning pale;
O'er the waters black
Burns its flickering trail.
In the vivid glare
Half I see thy form,
And thy streaming hair
Flutters in the storm.
On the lake as it reposes
Dwells the moon with glow serene
Interweaving pallid roses
With the rushes' crown of green.
Stags from out the hillside bushes
Gaze aloft into the night,
Waterfowl amid the rushes
Vaguely stir with flutterings light
Down my tear-dim glance I bend now,
While through all my soul a rare
Thrill of thought toward thee doth tend now
Like an ecstasy of prayer.
* * * * *
THE POSTILION (1833)
Passing lovely was the night,
Silver clouds flew o'er us,
Spring, methought, with splendor dight
Led the happy chorus.
Sleep-entranced lay wood and dale,
Empty now each by-way;
No one but the moonlight pale
Roamed upon the highway.
Breezes wandering in the gloom
Soft their footsteps numbered
Through Dame Nature's sleeping-room
Where her children slumbered.
Timidly the brook stole by,
While the beds of blossom
Breathed their perfume joyously
On the still night's bosom.
My postilion, heedless all,
Cracked his whip most gaily,
And his merry trumpet-call
Rang o'er hill and valley.
Hoofs beat steadily the while,
As the horses gamboled,
And along the shady aisle
Grove and meadow gliding past
Vanished at a glimmer:
Peaceful towns were gone as fast,
Like to dreams that shimmer.
Midway in the Maytide trance
Tombs were shining whitely;
'Twas the churchyard met our glance--
None might view it lightly.
Close against the mountain braced
Ran the long white wall there,
And the cross, in sorrow placed,
Silent rose o'er all there.
Jehu straight, his humor spent,
Left his tuneful courses;
On the cross his gaze he bent
Then pulled up his horses.
"Here's where horse and coach must wait--
You may think it odd, sir:--
But up yonder, lies my mate
Underneath the sod, sir.
"Better lad was never born--
(Sir 'twas God's own pity!)
No one else could blow the horn
Half as shrill and pretty.
"So I stop beside the wall
Every time I pass here,
And I blow his favorite call
To him under grass here."
Toward the churchyard then he blew
One call after other,
That they might go ringing through
To his sleeping brother.
From the cliff each lively note
As it were the dead man's throat
Answering strains had sounded.
On we went through field and hedge,
Loosened bridles jingling;
Long that echo from the ledge
In my ear kept tingling.
* * * * *
TO THE BELOVED FROM AFAR (1838)
His sweet rose here oversea
I must gather sadly;
Which, beloved, unto thee
I would bring how gladly!
But alas! if o'er the foam
I this flower should carry,
It would fade ere I could come;
Roses may not tarry.
Farther let no mortal fare
Who would be a wooer,
Than unwithered he may bear
Blushing roses to her,
Or than nightingale may fly
For her nesting grasses,
Or than with the west wind's sigh
Her soft warbling passes.
* * * * *
THE THREE GIPSIES
Three gipsy men I saw one day
Stretched out on the grass together,
As wearily o'er the sandy way
My wagon brushed the heather.
The first of the three was fiddling there
In the glow of evening pallid,
Playing a wild and passionate air,
The tune of some gipsy ballad.
From the second's pipe the smoke-wreaths curled,
He watched them melt at his leisure.
So full of content, it seemed the world
Had naught to add to his pleasure.
And what of the third?--He was fast asleep,
His harp to a bough confided;
The breezes across the strings did sweep,
A dream o'er his heart-strings glided.
The garb of all was worn and frayed,
With tatters grotesquely mended;
But flouting the world, and undismayed,
The three with fate contended.
They showed me how, by three-fold scoff,
When cares of life perplex us,
To smoke, or sleep, or fiddle them off,
And scorn the ills that vex us.
I passed them, but my gaze for long
Dwelt on the trio surly--
Their dark bronze features sharp and strong,
Their loose hair black and curly.
* * * * *
MY HEART (1844)
Sleepless night, the rushing rain,
While my heart with ceaseless pain
Hears the mournful past subsiding
Or the uncertain future striding.
Heart, 'tis fatal thus to harken,
Let not fear thy courage darken,
Though the past be all regretting
And the future helpless fretting.
Onward, let what's mortal die.
Is the storm near, beat thou high.
Who came safe o'er Galilee
Makes the voyage now in thee.
* * * * *
AN ERROR CHANCED (1824)
An error chanced in the moonlight garden
Of a once inviolate love.
Shuddering I came on an outworn deceit,
And with sorrowing look, yet cruel,
Bade I the slender
Leave me and wander far.
Alas! her lofty forehead
Was bowed, for she loved me well;
Yet did she go in silence
Into the dim gray
Sick since then,
Wounded and woeful heart!
Never shall it be whole.
Meseems that, spun of the air, a thread of magic
Binds her yet to me, an unrestful bond;
It draws, it draws me faint with love toward her.
Might it yet be some day that on my threshold
I should find her, as erst, in the morning twilight,
Her traveler's bundle beside her,
And her eye true-heartedly looking up to me,
Saying, "See, I've come back,
Back once more from the lonely world!"
* * * * *
A SONG FOR TWO IN THE NIGHT (1825)
_She_. How soft the night wind strokes the meadow grasses
And, breathing music, through the woodland passes!
Now that the upstart day is dumb,
One hears from the still earth a whispering throng
Of forces animate, with murmured song
Joining the zephyrs' well-attuned hum.
_He_. I catch the tone from wondrous voices brimming,
Which sensuous on the warm wind drifts to me,
While, streaked with misty light uncertainly,
The very heavens in the glow are swimming.
_She_. The air like woven fabric seems to wave,
Then more transparent and more lustrous groweth;
Meantime a muted melody outgoeth
From happy fairies in their purple cave.
To sphere-wrought harmony
Sing they, and busily
The thread upon their silver spindles floweth.
_He_. Oh lovely night! how effortless and free
O'er samite black-though green by day--thou movest!
And to the whirring music that thou lovest
Thy foot advances imperceptibly.
Thus hour by hour thy step doth measure--
In tranced self-forgetful pleasure
Thou'rt rapt; creation's soul is rapt with thee!
* * * * *
[Illustration: EDUARD MOeRIKE WEISS]
EARLY AWAY (1828)
The morning frost shines gray
Along the misty field
Beneath the pallid way
Of early dawn revealed.
Amid the glow one sees
The day-star disappear;
Yet o'er the western trees
The moon is shining clear.
So, too, I send my glance
On distant scenes to dwell;
I see in torturing trance
The night of our farewell.
Blue eyes, a lake of bliss,
Swim dark before my sight,
Thy breath, I feel, thy kiss;
I hear thy whispering light.
My cheek upon thy breast
The streaming tears bedew,
Till, purple-black, is cast
A veil across my view.
The sun comes out; he glows,
And straight my dreams depart,
While from the cliffs he throws
A chill across my heart.
* * * * *
THE FORSAKEN MAIDEN (1829)
Early when cocks do crow
Ere the stars dwindle,
Down to the hearth I go,
Fire must I kindle.
Fair leap the flames on high,
Sparks they whirl drunken;
I watch them listlessly
In sorrow sunken.
Sudden it comes to me,
Youth so fair seeming,
That all the night of thee
I have been dreaming.
Tears then on tears do run
For my false lover;
Thus has the day begun--
Would it were over!
* * * * *
WEYLA'S SONG (1831)
Thou art Orplede, my land
The mist arises from thy sun-bright strand
To where the faces of the gods are beaming.
Primeval rivers spring renewed
Thy silver girdle weaving, child!
Before the godhead bow subdued
Kings, thy worshipers and watchers mild.
* * * * *
Let, oh world, ah let me be!
Tempt me not with gifts of pleasure.
Leave alone this heart to treasure
All its joy, its misery.
What my grief I can not say,
'Tis a strange, a wistful sorrow;
Yet through tears at every morrow
I behold the light of day.
When my weary soul finds rest
Oft a beam of rapture brightens
All the gloom of cloud, and lightens
This oppression in my breast.
Let, oh world, all, let me be!
Tempt me not with gifts of pleasure.
Leave alone this heart to treasure
All its joy, its misery.
* * * * *
THE SOLDIER'S BETROTHED (1837)
Oh dear, if the king only knew
How brave is my sweetheart, how true!
He would give his heart's blood for the king,
But for me he would do the same thing.
My love has no ribbon or star,
No cross such as gentlemen wear,
A gen'ral he'll never become;
If only they'd leave him at home!
For stars there are three shining bright
O'er the Church of St. Mary each night;
We are bound by a rose-woven band,
And a house-cross is always at hand.
* * * * *
THE OLD WEATHERCOCK: AN IDYLL (1840, 1852)
At Cleversulzbach in the Underland
A hundred and thirteen years did I stand
Up on the tower in wind and rain,
An ornament and a weathervane.
Through night and tempest gazing down,
Like a good old cock I watched the town.
The lightning oft my form has grazed,
The frost my scarlet comb o'erglazed,
And many a warm long summer's day,
In times when all seek shade who may,
The scorching sun with rage unslaked
My golden body well has baked.
So in my age all black I'd grown,
My beauteous glint and gleam was gone,
Till I at length, despised by all,
Was lifted from my pedestal.
Ah well! 'tis thus we run our race,
Another now must have my place.
Go strut, and preen, but don't forget
What court the wind will pay you yet!
Farewell, sweet landscape, mount and dell!
Vineyard and forest, fare ye well!
Beloved tower, the roof's high ridge,
Churchyard and streamlet with its bridge;
Oh fountain, where the cattle throng
And sheep come trooping all day long,
With Hans to urge them on their way.
And Eva on the piebald gray!
Ye storks and swallows with your clatter,
And sparrows, how I'll miss your chatter!
For every bit of dirt seems dear
Which o'er my form you used to smear.
Goodby, my worthy friend the pastor,
And you, poor driveling old schoolmaster.
'Tis o'er, what cheered my heart so long.
The sound of organ, bells and song.
So from my, lofty perch I crew,
And would have sung much longer too,
When came a crooked devil's minion,
The slater 'twas in my opinion.
Who after many a knock and shake
Detached me wholly from my stake.
My poor old heart was broke at last
When from the roof he pulled me past
The bells which from their station glared
And on my fate in wonder stared,
But vexed themselves no more about me,
Thinking they'd hang as well without me.
Then to the scrap-heap I was brought,
For twopence by the blacksmith bought,
Which as he paid he said 'twas wonder
How much folk wanted for such plunder.
And there at noon of that same day
In grief before his hut I lay.
The time being May, a little tree
Shed snow-white blossoms over me,
While other chickens by the dozen
Unheeding cackled round their cousin.
'Twas then the pastor happened by,
Spoke to the smith, then smiling, "Hi!
And have you come to this, poor cock
A strange bird, Andrew, for your flock!
He'll hardly do to broil or roast;
For me though, I may fairly boast
Things must go hard if I've no place
For old church servants in hard case.
Bring him along then speedily
And drink a glass of wine with me."
The sooty lout with quick assent
Laughed, picked me up, and off we went.
A little more, and from my throat
Toward heaven I'd sent a joyous note.
Within the manse the strange new guest
Astounded all from most to least;
But soon each face, before afraid,
The glowing light of joy displayed.
Wife, maids and menfolks, girls and boys
Surrounded with a seven-fold noise
The giant rooster in the hall,
Welcoming, looking, handling all.
The man of God with jealous care
Took me himself and climbed the stair
To his own study, while the pack
Came stumbling after at his back.
Within these walls is peace enshrined!
Entering, we left the world behind.
I seemed to breathe a magic air,
Essence of books and learning rare,
Geranium scent and mignonette,
And faint tobacco lingering yet.
(To me of course all this was new.)
An ancient stove I noticed, too,
In the left corner in full view.
Quite like a tower its bulk was raised
Until its peak the ceiling grazed,
With pillared strength and flowery grace,
O most delightful resting-place!
On the top wreath as on a mast
The blacksmith set me firm and fast.
Behold my stove with reverent eyes!
Cathedral-like its noble size;
With store of pictures overwrought,
And rhymes that tell of pious thought.
Of such I learned full many a word,
While the old stove from out its hoard
Would draw them forth for young and old,
When the snow fell and winds blew cold.
Here you may see where on the tile
Stands Bishop Hatto's towered isle,
While rats and mice on every side
Swim through the Rhine's opposing tide.
The armed grooms in vain wage war,
The host of tails grows more and more,
Till thousands ranged in close array
Leap from the walls on those at bay
And seize the bishop in his room:
An awful death is now his doom;
Devoured straightway shall he be
To pay the price of perjury.
--There too Belshazzar's banquet shines,
Voluptuous women, costly wines;
But in the amazed sight of all
The dread hand writes upon the wall.
--Lastly the pictures represent
How Sarah listens in the tent
While God Almighty, come to earth,
Foretells to Abraham the birth
Of Isaac and his seed thereafter.
Sarah cannot restrain her laughter,
Since both are well advanced in years.
God asks when he the laughter hears:
"Doth Sarah laugh then at God's will,
And doubt if this he may fulfil?"
Her indiscretion to recall
She says, "I did not laugh at all."
Which commonly would be a lie;
But God prefers to pass it by,
Since 'tis not done with malice dark,
And she's a lady patriarch.
Now that I'm here, I think with reason
That winter is the fairest season
How smooth the daily current flows
To ev'ry week's beloved close!
--Just about nine on Friday night,
Sole by the lamp's reposeful light
My master with a mind perplexed
Sets out to choose his Sunday text.
Before the stove a while he stands,
Walks to and fro with twisted hands,
And vainly struggles to determine
The theme on which to thread his sermon.
Now and again amid his doubt
He lifts the window and looks out.
--Oh cooling surge of starlit air,
Pour on my brow your tide so rare!
I see where Verrenberg doth glimmer,
And Shepherds' Knoll with snows a-shimmer.
He sits him down to write at last,
Dips pen and makes the A and O,
Which o'er his "Preface" always go.
I meanwhile from my post on high
Ne'er from my master turn an eye,
Look at him now, with far-off gaze
Pondering, testing every phrase;
The snuffer once he seizes quick
And cleans of soot the flaming wick;
Then oft in deep abstraction, he
Murmurs a sentence audibly,
Which I with outstretched bill peck up
And fill with lore my eager crop.
So do we come by smooth gradation
To where begins the "Application."
"Eleven!" comes the watchman's shout.
My master hears and turns about.
"Bedtime!" He rises, takes the light,
Nor ever hears my shrill "good-night!"
Alone in darkness then I'd be;
That has no terrors, though, for me.
Behind the wainscot sharply picking
I hear a while the death-clock ticking,
I hear the marten vainly scoop
The earth around the chicken-coop.
Along the eaves the night-wind brushes,
And through far trees the tempest rushes--
Bird Wood's the name that forest bears,
Where rude old Winter raves and tears.
Now splits a beech with such a crack
That all the valleys echo it back.
--My goodness! when these sounds I hear
I'm glad a pious stove's so near,
Which warms you so the long hours through
That night seems fraught with blessings too.
--Just now I well might feel afraid,
When thieves and murderers ply their trade;
'Tis lucky, faith, for those who are
Secured from harm by bolt and bar.
How could I call so men would hear me
If some one raised a ladder near me?
When thoughts like this attack my brain
The sweat runs down my back like rain.
At two, thank God! again at three,
A cock-crow rises clear and free,
And with the morning bell at five
My whole heart, now once more alive,
High in my breast with rapture springs,
When finally the watchman sings
"Arise, good friends, for Jesus' sake,
For bright and fair the day doth break."
Soon after this, an hour at most,
My spurs are growing stiff with frost
When in comes Lisa, hums some snatches,
And rakes the fire until it catches.
Then from below, quite savory too,
I scent the steam of onion stew.
At length my master enters gay,
Fresh for the business of the day.
On Saturday a worthy priest
Should keep his room, his house at least;
Not visit or distract his brain,
Turning his thoughts to things profane.
My master was not tempted so,
But once--don't let it out, you know--
He squandered all his precious wits
Making a titmouse trap for Fritz--
Right here, and talked and had a smoke;
To me, I'll own, it seemed a joke.
The blessed Sabbath now is here.
The church-bells call both far and near,
The organ sounds so loud to me
I think I'm in the sacristy.
There's not a soul in all the house;
I hear a fly, and then a mouse.
The sunlight now the window reaches
And through the cactus stems it stretches,
Fain o'er the walnut desk to glide,
Some ancient cabinet-maker's pride.
There it beholds with searching looks
Concordances and children's books,
On wafer-box and seal it dances
And lights the inkwell with its glances;
Across the sand it strikes its wedge,
Is cut upon the penknife's edge,
Across the armchair freely roams,
Then to the bookcase with its tomes.
There clad in parchment and in leather
The Suabian Fathers stand together:
Andrea, Bengel, Riegers two,
And Oetinger are well in view.
The sun each golden name reads o'er
And with a kiss he gilds yet more.
As Hiller's "Harp" his fingers touch--
Hark! does it ring? It lacks not much.
With that a spider slim and small
Begins upon my frame to crawl,
And, never asking my goodwill,
Suspends his web from neck to bill.
I don't disturb myself a whit,
Just wait and watch him for a bit.
For him it is a lucky hap
That I'm disposed to take a nap.--
But tell me now if anywhere
An old church cock might better fare.
A twinge of longing now and then
Will vex, no doubt, the happiest men.
In summer I could wish outside
Upon the dove-cote roof to bide,
With just beneath the garden bright
And stretch of greensward too in sight.
Or else again in winter time,
When, as today, the weather's prime:--
Now I've begun, I'll say it out
We've got a sleigh here, staunch and stout,
All colored, yellow, black and green;
Just freshly painted, neat and clean;
And on the dashboard proudly strutting
A strange, new-fangled fowl is sitting:
Now if they'd have me fixed up right--
The whole expense would be but slight--
I'd stand there quite as well as he
And none need feel ashamed of me!
--Fool! I reply, accept your fate,
And be not so immoderate.
Perhaps 'twould suit your high behest
If some one, for a common jest,
Would take you, stove and all, away
And set you up there on the sleigh,
With all the family round you too:
Man, woman, child--the whole blest crew!
Old image, what! so shameless yet,
And prone on gauds your mind to set?
Think on your latter end at last!
Your hundredth year's already past.
* * * * *
THINK OF IT, MY SOUL! (1852)
Somewhere a pine is green,
Just where who knoweth,
And in a garth unseen
A rose-tree bloweth.
These are ordained for thee--
Think, oh soul, fixedly--
Over thy grave to be;
Swift the time floweth.
Two black steeds on the down
Briskly are faring,
Or on their way to town
These may with heavy tread
Slowly convey the dead
E'en ere the shoes be shed
They now are wearing.
* * * * *
ERINNA TO SAPPHO (1863)
(Erinna was a Greek poetess, a friend and pupil of Sappho of Lesbos.
She died at the age of nineteen.)
"Many the paths to Hades," an ancient proverb
Tells us, "and one of them thou thyself shalt follow,
Doubt not!" My sweetest Sappho, who can doubt it?
Tells not each day the old tale?
Yet the foreboding word in a youthful bosom
Rankles not, as a fisher bred by the seashore,
Deafened by use, perceives the breaker's thunder no more.
--Strangely, however, today my heart misgave me. Attend:
Sunny the glow of morn-tide, pouring
Through the trees of my well-walled garden,
Roused the slugabed (so of late thou calledst Erinna)
Early up from her sultry couch.
Full was my soul of quiet, although my blood beat
Quick with uncertain waves o'er the thin cheek's pallor.
Then, as I loosed the plaits of my shining tresses,
Parting with nard-moist comb above my forehead
The veil of hair--in the glass my own glance met me.
Eyes, strange eyes, I said, what will ye?
Spirit of me, that within there dwelled securely as yet,
Occultly wed to my living senses--
Demon-like, half smiling thy solemn message,
Thou dost nod to me, Death presaging!
--Ha! all at once like lightning a thrill went through me,
Or as a deadly arrow with sable feathers
Whizzing had grazed my temples,
So that, with hands pressed over my face, a long time
Dumb-struck I sat, while my thought reeled at the frightful abyss.
Tearless at first I pondered,
Weighing the terror of Death;
Till I bethought me of thee, my Sappho,
And of my comrades all,
And of the muses' lore,
When straightway the tears ran fast.
But there on the table gleamed a beautiful hair-net, thy gift,
Costly handwork of Byssos, spangled with golden bees.
This, when next in the flowery festal season
We shall worship the glorious child of Demeter,
This will I offer to her for thy and my sake,
So may she favor us both (for she much availeth),
That no mourning lock thou untimely sever
From thy beloved head for thy poor Erinna.
* * * * *
MOZART'S JOURNEY FROM VIENNA TO PRAGUE
A ROMANCE OF HIS PRIVATE LIFE
BY EDUARD MOeRIKE
TRANSLATED BY FLORENCE LEONARD
In the fall of the year 1787 Mozart and his wife undertook a journey to
Prague, where he was to finish and bring out his masterpiece, _Don
Eleven o'clock of the fourteenth of September found them well on their
way and in the best of spirits. They had been traveling two days, and
were about one hundred and twenty miles from Vienna, among the beautiful
Maehrische mountains. The splendid coach, drawn by three post-horses,
belonged to an elderly Frau Volkstett, wife of General Volkstett, who
prided herself on her intimacy with the Mozarts and on the favors she
had shown them. The carriage was painted a bright yellowish-red, the
body adorned with garlands of gay-colored flowers, the wheels finished
with narrow stripes of gold. The high top was fitted with stiff leather
curtains, now drawn back and fastened.
The dress of the travelers was simple, for the new clothes to be worn at
court were carefully packed in the trunk. Mozart wore an embroidered
waistcoat of a somewhat faded blue, his ordinary brown coat--with a row
of large, curiously fashioned gilt buttons--black silk stockings and
small-clothes, and shoes with gilt buckles. As the day grew warm,
unusually warm for September, he had taken off both hat and coat and was
sitting in his shirt-sleeves, bare headed, serenely chatting. His thick
hair, drawn back into a braid, was powdered even more carelessly than
Frau Mozart's hair, a wealth of light brown curls, never disfigured by
powder, fell, half unfastened, upon her shoulders. She wore a
traveling-suit of striped stuff--light green and white.
They were slowly ascending a gentle slope, where rich fields alternated
with long stretches of woodland, when Mozart exclaimed: "How many woods
we have passed every day of our journey, and I hardly noticed them, much
less thought of going into them! Postilion, stop and let your horses
rest a bit, while we get some of those blue-bells yonder in the shade!"
As they rose to leave the coach they became aware of a slight accident
for which the master had to take the blame. Through his carelessness a
bottle of choice perfume had lost its cork, and its contents had run,
unperceived, over clothing and carriage cushions. "I might have known
it," lamented Frau Mozart, "I have smelled it this long while! Oh dear!
A whole bottle of real 'Rosee d'Aurore!' I was as careful of it as if it
had been gold!"
"Never mind, little goose," was Mozart's comforting answer. "This was
the only way that your sacred smelling-stuff would do us any good. The
air was like an oven here, and all your fanning made it no cooler. But
presently the carriage was comfortable--you said it was because I poured
a couple of drops on my _jabot_--and we could talk and enjoy our journey
instead of hanging our heads like sheep in a butcher's cart. It will
last all the rest of the way. Come now, let us stick our two Vienna
noses into this green wilderness!"
They climbed the bank arm-in-arm, and strolled into the shade of the
pines, which grew deeper and deeper, till only here and there a stray
sunbeam lighted up the green mossy carpet. So cool was the air that
Mozart soon had to put on the coat, which, but for his prudent wife, he
would have left behind.
Presently he stopped and looked up through the rows of lofty
tree-trunks. "How beautiful!" he cried. "It is like being
in church! This is a real wood, a whole family of trees! No human
hand planted them, but they seem to have come and stood there just
because it is pleasant to live and grow in company. To think that I have
traveled half over Europe, have seen the Alps and the ocean, and yet,
happening to come into an ordinary Bohemian pine-woods, I am astonished
that such a thing actually exists; not as a poetic fiction like the
nymphs and fauns, but really living, drawn out of the earth by moisture
and sunshine! Imagine the deer, with his wonderful antlers, at home
here, and the mischievous squirrel, the wood-cock, and the jay!" He
stooped and picked a mushroom, praised its deep red color and delicate
white lines, and put a handful of cones into his pocket.
"Any one would think that you had never walked a dozen steps in the
Prater," said his wife; "these same rare cones and mushrooms are to be
found there too!"
"The Prater! Heavens, how can you mention it! What is there in the
Prater but carriages and swords, gowns and fans, music and hubbub! As
for the trees, large as they are--well, even the acorns on the ground
seem like second cousins to the old corks lying beside them! You could
walk there two hours, and still smell waiters and sauces!"
"Oh, what a speech from a man whose greatest pleasure is to eat a good
supper in the Prater!"
After they had returned to the carriage and sat watching the smiling
fields which stretched away to the mountains behind them, Mozart
exclaimed: "Indeed the earth is beautiful, and no one can be blamed for
wanting to stay on it as long as possible. Thank God, I feel as fresh
and strong as ever, and ready for a thousand things as soon as my new
opera is finished and brought out. But how much there is in the outside
world, and how much at home, both wonderful and beautiful, that I know
nothing about! Beauties of nature, sciences, and both fine arts and
useful arts! That black charcoal-burner there by his kiln knows just as
much as I do about many things. And I should like well enough to look
into some subjects that aren't connected with my own trade!"
"The other day," interrupted his wife, "I came across your old
pocket-calendar for '85. There were three or four special memoranda at
the end. One read: 'About the middle of October they are to cast the
great lions at the imperial brass foundry.' Another was underlined twice
'Call on Professor Gottner.' Who is he?"
"Oh Oh yes, I remember! That kind old gentleman in the observatory, who
invites me there now and then. I meant, long ago, to take you to see the
moon and the man in it. They have a new telescope, so strong that they
can see distinctly mountains and valleys and chasms, and, on the side
where the sun does not fall, the shadows of the mountains. Two years ago
I planned to go there! Shameful!"
"Well, the moon will not run away!"
"But it is so with everything. It is too hard to think of all that one
puts off and loses, not duties to God and to man only, but pure
pleasures--those small innocent pleasures which are within one's grasp
Madame Mozart could not or would not turn his thoughts into another
channel, and could only agree with him as he went on: "Have I ever been
able to have a whole hour of pleasure with my own children? Even they
can be only half enjoyed! The boys have one ride on my knee, chase me
once around the room, and stop. I must shake them off and go! I cannot
remember that we have had once a whole day in the country together, at
Easter or Whitsuntide, in garden or woods or meadows to grow young again
among the children and flowers. And meanwhile life is gradually slipping
and running and rushing away from us! Dear Lord! To think of it!"
With such self-reproach began a serious conversation. How sad that
Mozart, passionate as he was, keenly alive to all the beauties of the
world, and full of the highest aspirations, never knew peace and
contentment, in spite of all that he enjoyed and created
in his short life. The reason is easily found in those weaknesses,
apparently unconquerable, which were so large a part of his
character. The man's needs were many; his fondness for society
extraordinarily great. Honored and sought by all the families of
rank, he seldom refused an invitation to a fete or social gathering of
any sort. He had, besides, his own circle of friends whom he entertained
of a Sunday evening, and often at dinner at his own well-ordered table.
Occasionally, to the inconvenience of his wife, he would bring in
unexpected guests of diverse gifts, any one whom he might happen to
meet--amateurs, fellow-artists, singers, poets. An idle hanger-on whose
only merit lay in his companionable mood or in his jests, was as welcome
as a gifted connoisseur or a distinguished musician. But the greater
part of his recreation Mozart sought away from home. He was to be found
almost every afternoon at billiards in the Kaffeehaus, and many an
evening at the inn. He enjoyed both driving and riding, frequented balls
and masquerades--a finished dancer--and took part in popular
celebrations also, masquerading regularly on St. Bridget's Day as
These pleasures, sometimes wild and extravagant, sometimes quieter in
tone, were designed to refresh the severely taxed brain after extreme
labors; and in the mysterious ways of genius they bore fruit in later
days. But unfortunately he was so bent on enjoying to the full every
moment of pleasure that there was room for no other consideration,
whether of prudence or duty, of self-preservation or of economy. Both in
his amusements and in his creative activity Mozart knew no limits. Part
of the night was always devoted to composition; early in the morning,
often even while in bed, he finished his work. Then, driving or walking,
he made the rounds of his lessons, which generally took a part of the
afternoon also. "We take a great deal of trouble for our pupils, and it
is often hard not to lose patience," he wrote to one of his
patrons. "Because we are well recommended as pianists and
teachers of music we load ourselves down with pupils, and
are always willing to add another; if only the bills are
promptly paid it does not matter whether the new student be a
Hungarian mustachio from the engineer corps, whom Satan has tempted to
wade through thorough-bass and counterpoint, or the haughtiest little
countess who receives us in a fury, as she would Master Coquerel, the
hair-dresser, if we do not arrive on the stroke of the hour." So, when
weary with the occupations of his profession, school-work, and
rehearsals as well as private lessons, and in need of refreshment, he
gave his nerves a seeming restorative only in new excitement. His health
began to suffer, and ever-recurring fits of melancholy were certainly
fostered, if not actually induced, by his ill health; and the
premonition of his early death, which for a long time haunted him, was
finally fulfilled. The deepest melancholy and remorse were the bitter
fruits of every pleasure which he tasted; yet we know that even these
troubled streams emptied pure and clear in the deep spring from which
all joy and all woe flowed in marvelous melodies.
The effects of Mozart's illness showed most plainly when at home. The
temptation to spend his money foolishly and carelessly was very great.
It was due, as a matter of course, to one of his most lovely traits. If
any one in need came to him to borrow money or to ask his name as
security, he consented at once with smiling generosity and without
making arrangements to insure the return of the loan. The means which
such generosity, added to the needs of his household, required, were out
of all proportion to his actual income. The sums which he received from
theatres and concerts, from publishers and pupils, together with the
Emperor's pension, were the smaller because the public taste was far
from declaring itself in favor of Mozart's compositions. The very
beauty, depth, and fulness of his music were, in general, opposed to the
easily understood compositions then in favor. To be sure,
the Viennese public could not get enough of _Die Entfuehrung
aus dem Serail_, thanks to its popular element. But, on the
other hand, several years later _Figaro_ made a most unexpected
and lamentable fiasco, in comparison with the success of its
pleasing, though quite insignificant rival _Cosa rara_--and not
alone through the intrigue of the manager. It was the same _Figaro_
which, soon after, the cultivated and unprejudiced people of Prague
received with such enthusiasm that the master, in gratitude, determined
to write his next great opera for them.
But despite the unfavorable period and the influence of his enemies,
Mozart, if he had been more prudent and circumspect, might have received
a very considerable sum from his art. As it was, he was in arrears after
every enterprise, even when full houses shouted their applause to him.
So circumstances, his own nature, and his own faults conspired to keep
him from prosperity.
And what a sad life was that of Frau Mozart! She was young and of a
cheerful disposition, musical, and of a musical family, and had the best
will in the world to stop the mischief at the outset, and, failing in
that, to make up for the loss in great things by saving in small
affairs. But she lacked, perhaps, skill and experience. She held the
purse, and kept the account of the house expenses. Every claim, every
bill, every vexation was carried to her. How often must she have choked
back the tears when to such distress and want, painful embarrassment,
and fear of open disgrace, was added the melancholy of her husband, in
which he would remain for days, accomplishing nothing, refusing all
comfort, and either sighing and complaining, or sitting silent in a
corner, thinking continually of death! But she seldom lost courage, and
almost always her clear judgment found counsel and relief, though it
might be but temporary. In reality she could make no radical change in
the situation. If she persuaded him in seriousness or in jest, by
entreaties or by coaxing, to eat his supper and spend his
evening with his family, she had gained but little. Perhaps,
touched by the sight of his wife's distress, he would curse his bad
habits and promise all that she asked--even more. But to no purpose; he
would soon, unexpectedly, find himself in the old ruts again. One is
tempted to believe that he could not do otherwise, and that a code of
morals, totally different from our ideas of right and wrong, of
necessity controlled him.
Yet Frau Constanze hoped continually for a favorable turn of affairs, a
great improvement in their financial condition, which could hardly fail
to follow Mozart's increasing fame. If the anxiety which always pressed
upon him, more or less, could be lightened; if, instead of devoting half
his strength and time to earning money he could live only for his art,
and, moreover, could enjoy with a clear conscience those pleasures which
he needed for body and mind, then he would grow calmer and more natural.
She hoped, indeed, for an opportunity to leave Vienna, for, in spite of
his affection for the place, she was convinced that he would never
prosper there. Some decisive step toward the realization of her plans
and wishes she promised herself as the result of the new opera, for
which they were now on their way to Prague.
The composition was more than half written. Trusty friends and competent
judges who had heard the beginning of the work talked of it with such
enthusiasm that many of Mozart's enemies, even, were prepared to hear,
within six months, that his _Don Juan_ had taken all Germany by storm.
His more prudent and moderate friends, who took into consideration the
state of the public taste, hardly expected an immediate and universal
success; and with these the master himself secretly agreed.
Constanze, however, was like all women. If once they hope, particularly
in a righteous cause, they are less apt than men are to give heed to
discouraging features. She still held fast to her favorable opinion, and
had, even now, new occasion to defend it. She did so in her gay and
lively fashion, the more earnestly because Mozart's spirits had fallen
decidedly in the course of the previous conversation. She described
minutely how, after their return, she should use the hundred ducats
which the manager at Prague would pay for the score. That sum would
supply their most pressing needs, and they could live comfortably till
"Your Herr Bondine will make some money with this opera, you may be
sure; and if he is half as honest as you think him, he will give you
later also a fair per cent. of the price that other theatres pay him for
their copies of _Don Juan_. But, even if he doesn't, there are plenty of
other good things that might happen to us; they are more probable too!"
"What, for instance?"
"A little bird told me that the King of Prussia needs a leader for his
"A general music director, I mean. Let me build you an air-castle! That
weakness I got from my mother."
"Build away! The higher the better!"
"No, my air-castles are very real ones! In a year from now they'll be
"If the Pope to Gretchen comes a-courting!"
"Keep quiet, you ridiculous goose! I tell you by the first of next
September there will be no 'Imperial Court Composer' of the name of Wolf
Mozart to be found in Vienna."
"May the foxes bite you for that!"
"I hear already what our old friends are saying and gossiping about us."
"Well, a little after nine o'clock one fine morning our old friend and
admirer Frau Volkstett comes sailing at full speed across the Kahlmarkt.
She has been away for three months. That famous visit to her
brother-in-law in Saxony, that we have heard about every day, has at
last come off. She returned yesterday, and cannot wait any
longer to see her dear friend, the Colonel's wife. Upstairs she goes
and knocks at the door, and does not wait for an answer. You may imagine
the rejoicing and the embracing an both sides. 'Now dearest, best Frau
Colonel,' she begins after the greetings are over, 'I have so many
messages for you. Guess from whom? I didn't come straight from Stendal,
but by way of Brandenburg.'
"'What! Not through Berlin! You haven't been with the Mozarts?' 'Yes,
ten heavenly days!' 'Oh, my dear, good Frau General, tell me all about
them! How are our dear people? Do they like Berlin as well as ever? I
can hardly imagine Mozart living in Berlin! How does he act? How does he
look?' 'Mozart! You should see him! This summer the King sent him to
Karlsbad. When would that have occurred to his dear Emperor Joseph? They
had but just returned when I arrived. He is fairly radiant with health
and good spirits, as sound and solid and lively as quicksilver, with
happiness and comfort beaming from his countenance.'"
And then the speaker began to paint in the brightest colors the glories
of the new position. From their dwelling on Unter den Linden, from their
garden and country-house to the brilliant scenes of public activity and
the smaller circle of the court--where he was to play accompaniments for
the Queen--all were vividly described. She recited, with the greatest
ease, whole conversations, and the most delightful anecdotes. Indeed she
seemed more familiar with Berlin, Potsdam, and Sans Souci than with the
palace at Schoenbrunn and the Emperor Joseph's castle. She was, moreover,
cunning enough to depict our hero with many new domestic virtues which
had developed on the firm ground of the Berlin life, and among which
Frau Volkstett had perceived (as a most remarkable phenomenon and a
proof that extremes sometimes meet) the disposition of a veritable
little miser--and it made him altogether most charming.
"'Yes, think of it! He is sure of his three thousand thalers,
and for what? For directing a chamber concert once a week, and
the opera twice. Ah, Frau Colonel, I have seen him, our dear, precious
little man, in the midst of his excellent orchestra who adore him! I sat
with Frau Mozart in her box almost opposite the King's box. And what was
on the posters, do you think? Look, please! I brought it for you,
wrapped around a little souvenir from the Mozarts and myself. Look, read
it, printed in letters a yard long!' 'Heaven forbid! Not _Tarare_!'
'Yes! What cannot one live to see! Two years ago, when Mozart wrote _Don
Juan_, and the wretched, malicious, yellow, old Salieri was preparing to
repeat in Vienna the triumph which he had won with his piece, in Paris,
and to show our good plain public, contented with _Cosa rara_, a hawk or
two; while he and his arch-accomplice were plotting to present _Don
Juan_ just as they had presented _Figaro_, mutilated, ruined, I vowed
that if the infamous _Tarare_ was ever given, nothing should hire me to
go to see it. And I kept my word. When everybody else ran to hear
it--you too, Frau Colonel--I sat by my fire with my cat in my lap, and
ate my supper. Several times after that, too. But now imagine! _Tarare_
on the Berlin stage, the work of his deadly foe, conducted by Mozart
himself!' 'You must certainly go,' he said, 'if it is only to be able to
say in Vienna whether I had a hair clipped from Absalom's head. I wish
he were here himself! The jealous old sheep should see that I do not
need to bungle another person's composition in order to show off my
"Brava! Bravissima!" shouted Mozart, and taking his wife by the ears he
kissed her and teased her till the play with the bright bubbles of an
imaginary future--which, sad to say, were never in the least to be
realized--ended finally in laughter and jollity.
Meanwhile they had long ago reached the valley, and were approaching a
town, behind which lay the small modern palace of Count Schinzberg. In
this town they were to feed the horses, to rest, and to take their
The inn where they stopped stood alone near the end of the village
where an avenue of poplar trees led to the count's garden, not six
hundred paces away. After they had alighted, Mozart, as usual, left to
his wife the arrangements for dinner, and ordered for himself a glass of
wine, while she asked only for water and a quiet room where she could
get a little sleep. The host led the way upstairs, and Mozart, now
singing, now whistling, brought up the rear. The room was newly
whitewashed, clean, and fresh. The ancient articles of furniture were of
noble descent; they had probably once adorned the dwelling of the Count.
The clean white bed was covered with a painted canopy, resting upon
slender green posts, whose silken curtains were long ago replaced by a
more ordinary stuff. Constanze prepared for her nap, Mozart promising to
wake her in time for dinner. She bolted the door behind him, and he
descended to seek entertainment in the coffee-room. Here, however, no
one but the host was to be seen, and, since his conversation suited
Mozart no better than his wine, the master proposed a walk to the palace
garden while dinner was preparing. Respectable strangers, he was told,
were allowed to enter the grounds; besides, the family were away for the
A short walk brought him to the gate, which stood open; then he slowly
followed a path overhung by tall old linden-trees, till he suddenly came
upon the palace which stood a little to the left. It was a light,
plaster building, in the Italian style, with a broad, double flight of
steps in front; the slate-covered roof was finished in the usual manner,
with a balustrade, and was adorned with statues of gods and goddesses.
Our master turned toward the shrubbery, and, passing many flower-beds
still gay with blossoms, took his leisurely way through a dark grove of
pines until he came to an open space where a fountain was playing. The
rather large oval basin was surrounded with carefully kept orange-trees,
interspersed with laurels and oleanders; a smooth gravel
walk upon which an arbor opened ran around the fountain. It was a most
tempting resting-place, and Mozart threw himself down upon the rustic
bench which stood by a table within the arbor.
Listening to the splash of the water, and watching an orange-tree which
stood, heavy with fruit, apart from the rest, our friend was carried
away by visions of the South and favorite memories of his childhood.
Smiling thoughtfully, he reached toward the nearest orange, as if to
take the tempting fruit in his hand. But closely connected with that
scene of his youth there flashed upon him a long-forgotten,
half-effaced, musical memory, which he pondered long and tried to follow
out. Then his glance brightened, and darted here and there; an idea had
come to him, and he worked it out eagerly. Absently he grasped the
orange again--it broke from the tree and remained in his hand. He looked
at it, but did not see it; indeed, his artistic abstraction went so far
that, after rolling the fragrant fruit back and forth before his nose,
while his lips moved silently with the melody which was singing itself
to him, he presently took from his pocket an enameled case, and with a
small silver-handled knife slowly cut open the fruit. Perhaps he had a
vague sense of thirst, but, if so, the fragrance of the open fruit
allayed it. He looked long at the inner surfaces, then fitted them
gently together, opened them again, and again put them together.
Just then steps approached the arbor. Mozart started, suddenly
remembering where he was and what he had done. He was about to hide the
orange, but stopped, either from pride or because he was too late. A
tall, broad-shouldered man in livery, the head-gardener, stood before
him. He had evidently seen the last guilty movement, and stopped,
amazed. Mozart, likewise, was too much surprised to speak, and, sitting
as if nailed to his chair, half laughing yet blushing, looked the
gardener somewhat boldly in the face with his big, blue eyes. Then--it
would have been most amusing for a third person--with a sort of defiant
courage he set the apparently uninjured orange in the middle of the
"I beg your pardon, sir," began the gardener rather angrily, as he
looked at Mozart's unprepossessing clothing, "I do not know whom I have
"Kapellmeister Mozart, of Vienna."
"You are acquainted in the palace, I presume."
"I am a stranger, merely passing through the village. Is the Count at
"She is engaged and would hardly see you." Mozart rose, as if he would
"With your permission, sir, how do you happen to be pilfering here?"
"What!" cried Mozart. "Pilfering! The devil! Do you believe, then, that
I meant to steal and eat that thing?"
"I believe what I see, sir. Those oranges are counted, and I am
responsible for them. That tree was just to be carried to the house for
an entertainment. I cannot let you go until I have reported the matter
and you yourself have told how it happened."
"Very well. Be assured that I will wait here." The gardener hesitated,
and Mozart, thinking that perhaps he expected a fee, felt in his pocket;
but he found nothing.
Two men now came by, lifted the tree upon a barrow and carried it away.
Meanwhile Mozart had taken a piece of paper from his pocket-book, and,
as the gardener did not stir, began to write:
"_Dear Madam_.--Here I sit, miserable, in your Paradise, like Adam of
old, after he had tasted the apple. The mischief is done, and I cannot
even put the blame on a good Eve, for she is at the inn sleeping the
sleep of innocence in a canopy-bed, surrounded by Graces and Cupids. If
you require it I will give you an account of my offense, which is
incomprehensible even to myself.
"I am covered with confusion, and remain
"Your most obedient servant,
"W. A. MOZART.
"On the way to Prague."
He hastily folded the note and handed it to the impatient servant.
The fellow had scarcely gone when a carriage rolled up to the opposite
side of the palace. In it was the Count, who had brought with him, from
a neighboring estate, his niece and her fiance, a young and wealthy
Baron. The betrothal had just taken place at the house of the latter's
invalid mother; but the event was also to be celebrated at the Count's
palace, which had always been a second home to his niece. The Countess,
with her son, Lieutenant Max, had returned from the betrothal somewhat
earlier, in order to complete arrangements at the palace. Now corridors
and stairways were alive with servants, and only with difficulty did the
gardener finally reach the antechamber and hand the note to the
Countess. She did not stop to open it, but, without noticing what the
messenger said, hurried away. He waited and waited, but she did not come
back. One servant after another ran past him--waiters, chambermaids,
valets; he asked for the Count, only to be told "He is dressing." At
last he found Count Max in his own room; but he was talking with the
Baron, and for fear the gardener would let slip something which the
Baron was not to know beforehand, cut the message short with: "Go along,
I'll be there in a moment." Then there was quite a long while to wait
before father and son at last appeared together, and heard the fatal
"That is outrageous," cried the fat, good-natured, but somewhat hasty
Count. "That is an impossible story! A Vienna musician is he? Some
ragamuffin, who walks along the high-road and helps himself to whatever
"I beg your pardon, sir. He doesn't look just like that. I thinks he's
not quite right in the head, sir, and he seems to be very proud. He says
his name is 'Moser.' He is waiting downstairs. I told Franz to keep an
eye on him."
"The deuce! What good will that do, now? Even if I should have the fool
arrested, it wouldn't mend matters. I've told you a thousand times that
the front gates were to be kept locked! Besides, it couldn't have
happened if you had had things ready at the proper time!"
Just then the Countess, pleased and excited, entered the room with the
open note in her hand. "Do you know who is downstairs?" she exclaimed.
"For goodness' sake, read that note! Mozart from Vienna, the composer!
Some body must go at once and invite him in! I'm afraid he will be gone!
What will he think of me? You treated him very politely, I hope, Velten.
What was it that happened?"
"What happened?" interrupted the Count, whose wrath was not immediately
assuaged by the prospect of a visit from a famous man. "The madman
pulled one of the nine oranges from the tree which was for Eugenie.
Monster! So the point of our joke is gone, and Max may as well tear up
"Oh, no!" she answered, earnestly; "the gap can easily be filled. Leave
that to me. But go, both of you, release the good man, and persuade him
to come in, if you possibly can. He shall not go further today if we can
coax him to stay. If you do not find him in the garden, go to the inn
and bring him and his wife too. Fate could not have provided a greater
gift or a finer surprise for Eugenie today."
"No, indeed," answered Max, "that was my first thought, too. Come, Papa!
And"--as they descended the staircase--"you may be quite easy about the
verses. The ninth Muse will not desert me; instead, I can use the
accident to especial advantage."
"Not at all!"
"Well, if that is so--I take your word for it--we will do the lunatic
all possible honor."
While all this was going on in the palace, our quasi-prisoner, not very
anxious over the outcome of the affair, had busied himself some time in
writing. Then, as no one appeared, he began to walk uneasily up and
down. Presently came an urgent message from the inn, that dinner was
ready long ago and the postilion was anxious to start; would
he please come at once. So he packed up his papers and was just
about to leave, when the two men appeared before the arbor.
The Count greeted him in his jovial, rather noisy fashion, and would
hear not a word of apology, but insisted that Mozart should accompany
him to the house, for the afternoon and evening at least.
"You are so well known to us, my dear Maestro, that I doubt if you could
find a family where your name is spoken more often, or with greater
enthusiasm. My niece sings and plays, she spends almost the whole day at
her piano, knows your works by heart, and has had the greatest desire to
meet you, particularly since the last of your concerts. She had been
promised an invitation from Princess Gallizin, in Vienna, in a few
weeks--a house where you often play, I hear. But now you are going to
Prague, and no one knows whether you will ever come back to us. Take
today and tomorrow for rest; let us send away your traveling carriage
and be responsible for the remainder of your journey."
The composer, who would willingly have sacrificed upon the altar of
friendship or of pleasure ten times as much as was asked of him now, did
not hesitate long. He insisted, however, that very early next morning
they must continue their journey. Count Max craved the pleasure of
bringing Frau Mozart and of attending to all necessary matters at the
inn; he would walk over, and a carriage should follow immediately.
Count Max inherited from both father and mother a lively imagination,
and had, besides, talent and inclination for _belles lettres_. As an
officer he was distinguished rather for his learning and culture than
because of fondness for military life. He was well read in French
literature, and at a time when German verse was of small account in the
higher circles had won appreciation for uncommon ease of style--writing
after such models as Hagedorn and Goetz. The betrothal had offered him,
as we already learned, a particularly happy occasion for the exercise
of his gifts.
He found Madame Mozart seated at the table, where she had already begun
the meal, talking with the inn-keeper's daughter. She was too well used
to Mozart's habits of forming acquaintances and accepting impromptu
invitations to be greatly surprised at the appearance and message of the
young officer. With undisguised pleasure she prepared to accompany him,
and thoughtfully and quickly gave all necessary orders. Satchels were