Part 3 out of 9
his face, and Edward recognized the features of the importunate beggar;
but, happy as he then was, it was impossible for him to be angry with
any one. He could not recollect that, especially for that particular
day, begging had been forbidden under the heaviest penalties--he thrust
his hand into his pocket, took the first coin which he found, and gave
the fellow a piece of gold. His own happiness was so unbounded that he
would have liked to share it with every one.
In the meantime all had gone well at the castle. The skill of the
surgeon, everything which was required being ready at hand, Charlotte's
assistance--all had worked together, and the boy was brought to life
again. The guests dispersed, wishing to catch a glimpse or two of what
was to be seen of the fireworks from the distance; and, after a scene of
such confusion, were glad to get back to their own quiet homes.
The Captain also, after having rapidly changed his dress, had taken an
active part in what required to be done. It was now all quiet again, and
he found himself alone with Charlotte--gently and affectionately he now
told her that his time for leaving them approached. She had gone
through so much that evening, that this discovery made but a slight
impression upon her--she had seen how her friend could sacrifice
himself; how he had saved another, and had himself been saved. These
strange incidents seemed to foretell an important future to her--but not
an unhappy one.
Edward, who now entered with Ottilie, was informed at once of the
impending departure of the Captain. He suspected that Charlotte had
known longer how near it was; but he was far too much occupied with
himself, and with his own plans, to take it amiss, or care about it.
On the contrary, he listened attentively, and with signs of pleasure, to
the account of the excellent and honorable position in which the Captain
was to be placed. The course of the future was hurried impetuously
forward by his own secret wishes. Already he saw the Captain married to
Charlotte, and himself married to Ottilie. It would have been the
richest present which any one could have made him, on the occasion of
the day's festival!
But how surprised was Ottilie, when, on going to her room, she found
upon her table the beautiful box! Instantly she opened it; inside, all
the things were so nicely packed and arranged that she did not venture
to take them out; she scarcely even ventured to lift them. There were
muslin, cambric, silk, shawls and lace, all rivalling one another in
delicacy, beauty, and costliness--nor were ornaments forgotten. The
intention had been, as she saw well, to furnish her with more than one
complete suit of clothes but it was all so costly, so little like what
she had been accustomed to, that she scarcely dared, even in thought, to
believe it could be really for her.
The next morning the Captain had disappeared, having left a grateful,
feeling letter addressed to his friends upon his table.
[Illustration: P. GROTJOHANN OTTILIE EXAMINES EDWARD'S PRESENTS]
He and Charlotte had already taken a half leave of each other the
evening before--she felt that the parting was for ever, and she resigned
herself to it; for in the Count's second letter, which the Captain had
at last shown to her, there was a hint of a prospect of an advantageous
marriage, and, although he had paid no attention to it at all, she
accepted it for as good as certain, and gave him up firmly and fully.
Now, therefore, she thought that she had a right to require of others
the same control over themselves which she had exercised herself: it had
not been impossible to her, and it ought not to be impossible to them.
With this feeling she began the conversation with her husband; and she
entered upon it the more openly and easily, from a sense that the
question must now, once for all, be decisively set at rest.
"Our friend has left us," she said; "we are now once more together as we
were--and it depends upon ourselves whether we choose to return
altogether into our old position."
Edward, who heard nothing except what flattered his own passion,
believed that Charlotte, in these words, was alluding to her previous
widowed state, and, in a roundabout way, was making a suggestion for a
separation; so that he answered, with a laugh, "Why not? all we want is
to come to an understanding." But he found himself sorely enough
undeceived, as Charlotte continued, "And we have now a choice of
opportunities for placing Ottilie in another situation. Two openings
have offered themselves for her, either of which will do very well.
Either she can return to the school, as my daughter has left it and is
with her great-aunt; or she can be received into a desirable family,
where, as the companion of an only child, she will enjoy all the
advantages of a solid education."
Edward, with a tolerably successful effort at commanding himself,
replied, "Ottilie has been so much spoilt, by living so long with us
here, that she will scarcely like to leave us now."
"We have all of us been too much spoilt," said Charlotte; "and yourself
not least. This is an epoch which requires us seriously to bethink
ourselves. It is a solemn warning to us to consider what is really for
the good of all the members of our little circle--and we ourselves must
not be afraid of making sacrifices."
"At any rate I cannot see that it is right that Ottilie should be made a
sacrifice," replied Edward; "and that would be the case if we were now
to allow her to be sent away among strangers. The Captain's good genius
has sought him out here--we can feel easy, we can feel happy, at seeing
him leave us; but who can tell what may be before Ottilie? There is no
occasion for haste."
"What is before us is sufficiently clear," Charlotte answered, with some
emotion; and as she was determined to have it all out at once, she went
on: "You love Ottilie; every day you are becoming more attached to her.
A reciprocal feeling is rising on her side as well, and feeding itself
in the same way. Why should we not acknowledge in words what every hour
makes obvious? and are we not to have the common prudence to ask
ourselves in what it is to end?"
"We may not be able to find an answer on the moment," replied Edward,
collecting himself; "but so much may be said, that if we cannot exactly
tell what will come of it, we may resign ourselves to wait and see what
the future may tell us about it."
"No great wisdom is required to prophesy here," answered Charlotte;
"and, at any rate, we ought to feel that you and I are past the age when
people may walk blindly where they should not or ought not to go. There
is no one else to take care of us--we must be our own friends, our own
managers. No one expects us to commit ourselves in an outrage upon
decency: no one expects that we are going to expose ourselves to censure
or to ridicule."
"How can you so mistake me?" said Edward, unable to reply to his wife's
clear, open words. "Can you find it a fault in me, if I am anxious
about Ottilie's happiness? I do not mean future happiness--no one can
count on that--but what is present, palpable, and immediate. Consider,
don't deceive yourself; consider frankly Ottilie's case, torn away from
us, and sent to live among strangers. I, at least, am not cruel enough
to propose such a change for her!"
Charlotte saw too clearly into her husband's intentions, through this
disguise. For the first time she felt how far he had estranged himself
from her. Her voice shook a little. "Will Ottilie be happy if she
divides us?" she asked. "If she deprives me of a husband, and his
children of a father!"
"Our children, I should have thought, were sufficiently provided for,"
said Edward, with a cold smile; adding, rather more kindly, "but why at
once expect the very worst?"
"The very worst is too sure to follow this passion of yours," returned
Charlotte; "do not refuse good advice while there is yet time; do not
throw away the means which I propose to save us. In troubled cases those
must work and help who see the clearest--this time it is I. Dear,
dearest Edward! listen to me--can you propose to me that now at once I
shall renounce my happiness! renounce my fairest rights! renounce you!"
"Who says that?" replied Edward, with some embarrassment.
"You, yourself," answered Charlotte; "in determining to keep Ottilie
here, are you not acknowledging everything which must arise out of it? I
will urge nothing on you--but if you cannot conquer yourself, at least
you will not be able much longer to deceive yourself."
Edward felt how right she was. It is fearful to hear spoken out, in
words, what the heart has gone on long permitting to itself in secret.
To escape only for a moment, Edward answered, "It is not yet clear to me
what you want."
"My intention," she replied, "was to talk over with you these two
proposals--each of them has its advantages. The school would be best
suited to her, as she now is; but the other situation is larger, and
wider, and promises more, when I think what she may become." She then
detailed to her husband circumstantially what would lie before Ottilie
in each position, and concluded with the words, "For my own part I
should prefer the lady's house to the school, for more reasons than one;
but particularly because I should not like the affection, the love
indeed, of the young man there, which Ottilie has gained, to increase."
Edward appeared to approve; but it was only to find some means of delay.
Charlotte, who desired to commit him to a definite step, seized the
opportunity, as Edward made no immediate opposition, to settle Ottilie's
departure, for which she had already privately made all preparations,
for the next day.
Edward shuddered--he thought he was betrayed. His wife's affectionate
speech he fancied was an artfully contrived trick to separate him for
ever from his happiness. He appeared to leave the thing entirely to her;
but in his heart his resolution was already taken. To gain time to
breathe, to put off the immediate intolerable misery of Ottilie's being
sent away, he determined to leave his house. He told Charlotte he was
going; but he had blinded her to his real reason, by telling her that he
would not be present at Ottilie's departure; indeed, that, from that
moment, he would see her no more. Charlotte, who believed that she had
gained her point, approved most cordially. He ordered his horse, gave
his valet the necessary directions what to pack up, and where he should
follow him; and then, on the point of departure, he sat down and wrote:
"EDWARD TO CHARLOTTE
"The misfortune, my love, which has befallen us, may or may not admit of
remedy; only this I feel, that if I am not at once to be driven to
despair, I must find some means of delay for myself, and for all of us.
In making myself the sacrifice, I have a right to make a request. I am
leaving my home, and I return to it only under happier and more peaceful
auspices. While I am away, you keep possession of it--_but with
Ottilie_. I choose to know that she is with you, and not among
strangers. Take care of her; treat her as you have treated her--only
more lovingly, more kindly, more tenderly! I promise that I will not
attempt any secret intercourse with her. Leave me, as long a time as you
please, without knowing anything about you. I will not allow myself to
be anxious--nor need you be uneasy about me: only, with all my heart and
soul, I beseech you, make no attempt to send Ottilie away, or to
introduce her into any other situation. Beyond the circle of the castle
and the park, placed in the hands of strangers, she belongs to me, and I
will take possession of her! If you have any regard for my affection,
for my wishes, for my sufferings, you will leave me alone to my madness;
and if any hope of recovery from it should ever hereafter offer itself
to me, I will not resist."
Thus last sentence ran off his pen--not out of his heart. Even when he
saw it upon the paper, he began bitterly to weep. That he, under any
circumstances, should renounce the happiness--even the wretchedness--of
loving Ottilie! He only now began to feel what he was doing--he was
going away without knowing what was to be the result. At any rate he was
not to see her again _now_--with what certainty could he promise himself
that he would ever see her again? But the letter was written--the horses
were at the door; every moment he was afraid he might see Ottilie
somewhere, and then his whole purpose would go to the winds. He
collected himself--he remembered that, at any rate, he would be able to
return at any moment he pleased; and that by his absence he would have
advanced nearer to his wishes: on the other side, he pictured Ottilie to
himself forced to leave the house if he stayed. He sealed the letter,
ran down the steps, and sprang upon his horse.
As he rode past the hotel, he saw the beggar to whom he had given so
much money the night before, sitting under the trees; the man was busy
enjoying his dinner, and, as Edward passed, stood up, and made him the
humblest obeisance. That figure had appeared to him yesterday, when
Ottilie was on his arm; now it only served as a bitter reminiscence of
the happiest hour of his life. His grief redoubled. The feeling of what
he was leaving behind was intolerable. He looked again at the beggar.
"Happy wretch!" he cried, "you can still feed upon the alms of
yesterday--and I cannot any more on the happiness of yesterday!"
Ottilie heard some one ride away, and went to the window in time just to
catch a sight of Edward's back. It was strange, she thought, that he
should have left the house without seeing her, without having even
wished her good morning. She grew uncomfortable, and her anxiety did not
diminish when Charlotte took her out for a long walk, and talked of
various other things; but not once, and apparently on purpose,
mentioning her husband. When they returned she found the table laid with
only two covers. It is unpleasant to miss even the most trifling thing
to which we have been accustomed. In serious things such a loss becomes
miserably painful. Edward and the Captain were not there. The first
time, for a long while, Charlotte sat at the head of the table
herself--and it seemed to Ottilie as if she was deposed. The two ladies
sat opposite each other; Charlotte talked, without the least
embarrassment, of the Captain and his appointment, and of the little
hope there was of seeing him again for a long time. The only comfort
Ottilie could find for herself was in the idea that Edward had ridden
after his friend, to accompany him a part of his journey.
On rising from table, however, they saw Edward's traveling carriage
under the window. Charlotte, a little as if she was put out, asked who
had had it brought round there. She was told it was the valet, who had
some things there to pack up. It required all Ottilie Is self-command to
conceal her wonder and her distress.
The valet came in, and asked if they would be so good as to let him have
a drinking cup of his master's, a pair of silver spoons, and a number of
other things, which seemed to Ottilie to imply that he was gone some
distance, and would be away for a long time.
Charlotte gave him a very cold, dry answer. She did not know what he
meant--he had everything belonging to his master under his own care.
What the man wanted was to speak a word to Ottilie, and on some pretence
or other to get her out of the room; he made some clever excuse, and
persisted in his request so far that Ottilie asked if she should go to
look for the things for him? But Charlotte quietly said that she had
better not. The valet had to depart, and the carriage rolled away.
It was a dreadful moment for Ottilie. She understood
nothing--comprehended nothing. She could only feel that Edward had been
parted from her for a long time. Charlotte felt for her situation, and
left her to herself.
We will not attempt to describe what she went through, or how she wept.
She suffered infinitely. She prayed that God would help her only over
this one day. The day passed, and the night, and when she came to
herself again she felt herself a changed being.
She had not grown composed. She was not resigned, but after having lost
what she had lost, she was still alive, and there was still something
for her to fear. Her anxiety, after returning to consciousness, was at
once lest, now that the gentlemen were gone, she might be sent away too.
She never guessed at Edward's threats, which had secured her remaining
with her aunt. Yet Charlotte's manner served partially to reassure her.
The latter exerted herself to find employment for the poor girl, and
hardly ever,--never, if she could help it,--left her out of her sight;
and although she knew well how little words can do against the power of
passion, yet she knew, too, the sure though slow influence of thought
and reflection, and therefore missed no opportunity of inducing Ottilie
to talk with her on every variety of subject.
It was no little comfort to Ottilie when one day Charlotte took an
opportunity of making (she did it on purpose) the wise observation, "How
keenly grateful people were to us when we were able by stilling and
calming them to help them out of the entanglements of passion! Let us
set cheerfully to work," she said, "at what the men have left
incomplete: we shall be preparing the most charming surprise for them
when they return to us, and our temperate proceedings will have carried
through and executed what their impatient natures would have spoilt."
"Speaking of temperance, my dear aunt, I cannot help saying how I am
struck with the intemperance of men, particularly in respect of wine. It
has often pained and distressed me, when I have observed how, for hours
together, clearness of understanding, judgment, considerateness, and
whatever is most amiable about them, will be utterly gone, and instead
of the good which they might have done if they had been themselves, most
disagreeable things sometimes threaten. How often may not wrong, rash
determinations have arisen entirely from that one cause!"
Charlotte assented, but she did not go on with the subject. She saw only
too clearly that it was Edward of whom Ottilie was thinking. It was not
exactly habitual with him, but he allowed himself much more frequently
than was at all desirable to stimulate his enjoyment and his power of
talking and acting by such indulgence. If what Charlotte had just said
had set Ottilie thinking again about men, and particularly about Edward,
she was all the more struck and startled when her aunt began to speak of
the impending marriage of the Captain as of a thing quite settled and
acknowledged. This gave a totally different aspect to affairs from what
Edward had previously led her to entertain. It made her watch every
expression of Charlotte's, every hint, every action, every step. Ottilie
had become jealous, sharp-eyed, and suspicious, without knowing it.
Meanwhile, Charlotte with her clear glance looked through the whole
circumstances of their situation, and made arrangements which would
provide, among other advantages, full employment for Ottilie. She
contracted her household, not parsimoniously, but into narrower
dimensions; and, indeed, in one point of view, these moral aberrations
might be taken for a not unfortunate accident. For in the style in which
they had been going on, they had fallen imperceptibly into extravagance;
and from a want of seasonable reflection, from the rate at which they
had been living, and from the variety of schemes into which they had
been launching out, their fine fortune, which had been in excellent
condition, had been shaken, if not seriously injured.
The improvements which were going on in the park she did not interfere
with; she rather sought to advance whatever might form a basis for
future operations. But here, too, she assigned herself a limit. Her
husband on his return should still find abundance to amuse himself with.
In all this work she could not sufficiently value the assistance of the
young architect. In a short time the lake lay stretched out under her
eyes, its new shores turfed and planted with the most discriminating and
excellent judgment. The rough work at the new house was all finished.
Everything which was necessary to protect it from the weather she took
care to see provided, and there for the present she allowed it to rest
in a condition in which what remained to be done could hereafter be
readily commenced again. Thus hour by hour she recovered her spirits and
her cheerfulness. Ottilie only seemed to have done so. She was only for
ever watching, in all that was said and done, for symptoms which might
show her whether Edward would be soon returning: and this one thought
was the only one in which she felt any interest.
It was, therefore, a very welcome proposal to her when it was suggested
that they should get together the boys of the peasants, and employ them
in keeping the park clean and neat. Edward had long entertained the
idea. A pleasant--looking sort of uniform was made for them, which they
were to put on in the evenings after they had been properly cleaned and
washed. The wardrobe was kept in the castle; the more sensible and ready
of the boys themselves were intrusted with the management of it--the
Architect acting as chief director. In a very short time, the children
acquired a kind of character. It was found easy to mold them into what
was desired; and they went through their work not without a sort of
manoeuvre. As they marched along, with their garden shears, their
long-handled pruning-knives, their rakes, their little spades and hoes,
and sweeping-brooms; others following after these with baskets to carry
off the stones and rubbish; and others, last of all, trailing along the
heavy iron roller--it was a thoroughly pretty, delightful procession.
The Architect observed in it a beautiful series of situations and
occupations to ornament the frieze of a garden-house. Ottilie, on the
other hand, could see nothing in it but a kind of parade, to salute the
master of the house on his near return.
And this stimulated her and made her wish to begin something of the sort
herself. They had before endeavored to encourage the girls of the
village in knitting, and sewing, and spinning, and whatever else women
could do; and since what had been done for the improvement of the
village itself, there had been a perceptible advance in these
descriptions of industry. Ottilie had given what assistance was in her
power, but she had given it at random, as opportunity or inclination
prompted her; now she thought she--would go to work more satisfactorily
and methodically. But a company is not to be formed out of a number of
girls, as easily as out of a number of boys. She followed her own good
sense, and,--without being exactly conscious of it, her efforts were
solely directed toward connecting every girl as closely as possible
each with her own home, her own parents, brothers and sisters: and she
succeeded with many of them. One lively little creature only was
incessantly complained of as showing no capacity for work, and as never
likely to do anything if she were left at home.
Ottilie could not be angry with the girl, for to herself the little
thing was especially attached--she clung to her, went after her, and ran
about with her, whenever she was permitted--and then she would be active
and cheerful and never tire. It appeared to be a necessity of the
child's nature to hang about a beautiful mistress. At first, Ottilie
allowed her to be her companion; then she herself began to feel a sort
of affection for her; and, at last, they never parted at all, and Nanny
attended her mistress wherever she went.
The latter's footsteps were often bent toward the garden, where she
liked to watch the beautiful show of fruit. It was just the end of the
raspberry and cherry season, the few remains of which were no little
delight to Nanny. On the other trees there was a promise of a
magnificent bearing for the autumn, and the gardener talked of nothing
but his master and how he wished that he might be at home to enjoy it.
Ottilie could listen to the good old man forever! He thoroughly
understood his business; and Edward--Edward--Edward--was for ever the
theme of his praise!
Ottilie observed how well all the grafts which had been budded in the
spring had taken. "I only wish," the gardener answered, "my good master
may come to enjoy them. If he were here this autumn, he would see what
beautiful sorts there are in the old castle garden, which the late lord,
his honored father, put there. I think the fruit-gardeners there are now
don't succeed as well as the Carthusians used to do. We find many fine
names in the catalogue, and then we bud from them, and bring up the
shoots, and, at last, when they come to bear, it is not worth while to
have such trees standing in our garden."
Over and over again, whenever the faithful old servant saw Ottilie, he
asked when his master might be expected home; and when Ottilie had
nothing to tell him, he would look vexed, and let her see in his manner
that he thought she did not care to tell him: the sense of uncertainty
which was thus forced upon her became painful beyond measure, and yet
she could never be absent from these beds and borders. What she and
Edward had sown and planted together were now in full flower, requiring
no further care from her, except that Nanny should be at hand with the
watering-pot; and who shall say with what sensations she watched the
later flowers, which were just beginning to show, and which were to be
in the bloom of their beauty on Edward's birthday, the holiday to which
she had looked forward with such eagerness, when these flowers were to
have expressed her affection and her gratitude to him! But the hopes
which she had formed of that festival were dead now, and doubt and
anxiety never ceased to haunt the soul of the poor girl.
Into real open, hearty understanding with Charlotte, there was no more a
chance of her being able to return; for indeed, the position of these
two ladies was very different. If things could remain in their old
state--if it were possible that they could return again into the smooth,
even way of calm, ordered life, Charlotte gained everything; she gained
happiness for the present, and a happy future opened before her. On the
other hand, for Ottilie all was lost--one may say, all; for she had
first found in Edward what life and happiness meant; and, in her present
position, she felt an infinite and dreary chasm of which before she
could have formed no conception. A heart which seeks, feels well that it
wants something; a heart which has lost, feels that something is
gone--its yearning and its longing change into uneasy impatience--and a
woman's spirit, which is accustomed to waiting and to enduring, must now
pass out from its proper sphere, must become active and attempt and do
something to make its own happiness. Ottilie had not given up Edward--how
could she? Although Charlotte, wisely enough, in spite of her
conviction to the contrary, assumed it as a thing of course, and
resolutely took it as decided that a quiet rational regard was possible
between her husband and Ottilie. How often, however, did not Ottilie
remain at nights, after bolting herself into her room, on her knees
before the open box, gazing at the birthday presents, of which as yet
she had not touched a single thing--not cut out or made up a single
dress! How often with the sunrise did the poor girl hurry out of the
house, in which she once had found all her happiness, away into the free
air, into the country which then had had no charms for her. Even on the
solid earth she could not bear to stay; she would spring into the boat,
row out into the middle of the lake, and there, drawing out some book of
travels, lie rocked by the motion of the waves, reading and dreaming
that she was far away, where she would never fail to find her
friend--she remaining ever nearest to his heart, and he to hers.
It may easily be supposed that the strange, busy gentleman, whose
acquaintance we have already made--Mittler--as soon as he received
information of the disorder which had broken out among his friends, felt
desirous, though neither side had as yet called on him for assistance,
to fulfil a friend's part toward them, and do what he could to help them
in their misfortune. He thought it advisable, however, to wait first a
little while; knowing too well, as he did, that it was more difficult to
come to the aid of cultivated persons in their moral perplexities, than
of the uncultivated. He left them, therefore, for some time to
themselves; but at last he could withhold no longer, and he hastened to
seek out Edward, on whose traces he had already lighted. His road led
him to a pleasant, pretty valley, with a range of green, sweetly-wooded
meadows, down the centre of which ran a never-failing stream, sometimes
winding slowly along, then tumbling and rushing among rocks and stones.
The hills sloped gently up on either side, covered with rich corn-fields
and well-kept orchards. The villages were at proper distances from one
another. The whole had a peaceful character about it, and the detached
scenes seemed designed expressly, if not for painting, at least for
At last a neatly kept farm, with a clean, modest dwelling-house,
situated in the middle of a garden, fell under his eye. He conjectured
that this was Edward's present abode; and he was not mistaken.
Of this our friend in his solitude we have only thus much to say--that
in his seclusion he was resigning himself utterly to the feeling of his
passion, thinking out plan after plan, and feeding himself with
innumerable hopes. He could not deny that he longed to see Ottilie
there; that he would like to carry her off there, to tempt her there;
and whatever else (putting, as he now did, no check upon his thoughts)
pleased to suggest itself, whether permitted or unpermitted. Then his
imagination wandered up and down, picturing every sort of possibility.
If he could not have her there, if he could not lawfully possess her, he
would secure to her the possession of the property for her own. There
she should live for herself, silently, independently; she should be
happy in that spot--sometimes his self-torturing mood would lead him
further--be happy in it, perhaps, with another.
So days flowed away in increasing oscillation between hope and
suffering, between tears and happiness--between purposes, preparations,
and despair. The sight of Mittler did not surprise him; he had long
expected that he would come; and now that he did, he was partly welcome
to him. He believed that he had been sent by Charlotte. He had prepared
himself with all manner of excuses and delays; and if these would not
serve, with decided refusals; or else, perhaps, he might hope to learn
something of Ottilie--and then he would be as dear to him as a
messenger from heaven.
Not a little vexed and annoyed was Edward, therefore, when he
understood that Mittler had not come from the castle at all, but of his
own free accord. His heart closed up, and at first the conversation
would not open itself. Mittler, however, knew very well that a heart
that is occupied with love has an urgent necessity to express itself--to
pour out to a friend what is passing within it; and he allowed himself,
therefore, after a few speeches backward and forward, for this once to
go out of his character and play the confidant in place of the mediator.
He had calculated justly. He had been finding fault in a good-natured
way with Edward for burying himself in that lonely place, upon which
"I do not know how I could spend my time more agreeably. I am always
occupied with her; I am always close to her. I have the inestimable
comfort of being able to think where Ottilie is at each moment--where
she is going, where she is standing, where she is reposing. I see her
moving and acting before me as usual; ever doing or designing something
which is to give me pleasure. But this will not always answer; for how
can I be happy away from her? And then my fancy begins to work; I think
what Ottilie should do to come to me; I write sweet, loving letters in
her name to myself, and then I answer them, and keep the sheets
together. I have promised that I will take no steps to seek her; and
that promise I will keep. But what binds her that she should make no
advances to me I Has Charlotte had the barbarity to exact a promise, to
exact an oath from her, not to write to me, not to send me a word, a
hint, about herself? Very likely she has. It is only natural; and yet to
me it is monstrous, it is horrible. If she loves me--as I think, as I
know that she does--why does she not resolve, why does she not venture
to fly to me, and throw herself into my arms? I often think she ought to
do it; and she could do it. If I ever hear a noise in the hall, I look
toward the door. It must be her--she is coming--I look up to see her.
Alas! because the possible is impossible, I let myself imagine that the
impossible must become possible. At night, when I lie awake, and the
lamp flings an uncertain light about the room, her form, her spirit, a
sense of her presence, sweeps over me, approaches me, seizes me. It is
but for a moment; it is that I may have an assurance that she is
thinking of me, that she is mine. Only one pleasure remains to me. When
I was with her I never dreamt of her; now when I am far away, and, oddly
enough, since I have made the acquaintance of other attractive persons
in this neighborhood, for the first time her figure appears to me in my
dreams, as if she would say to me, 'Look on them, and on me. You will
find none more beautiful, more lovely than I.' And so she is present in
every dream I have. In whatever happens to me with her, we are woven in
and in together. Now we are subscribing a contract together. There is
her hand, and there is mine; there is her name, and there is mine; and
they move one into the other, and seem to devour each other. Sometimes
she does something which injures the pure idea which I have of her; and
then I feel how intensely I love her, by the indescribable anguish which
it causes me. Again, unlike herself, she will rally and vex me; and then
at once the figure changes--her sweet, round, heavenly face draws out;
it is not she, it is another; but I lie vexed, dissatisfied and
wretched. Laugh not, dear Mittler, or laugh on as you will. I am not
ashamed of this attachment, of this--if you please to call it
so--foolish, frantic passion. No, I never loved before. It is only now
that I know what to love means. Till now, what I have called life was
nothing but its prelude--amusement, sport to kill the time with. I never
lived till I knew her, till I loved her--entirely and only loved her.
People have often said of me, not to my face, but behind my back, that
in most things I was but a botcher and a bungler. It may be so; for I
had not then found in what I could show myself a master. I should like
to see the man who outdoes me in the talent of love. A miserable life it
is, full of anguish and tears; but it is so natural, so dear to me,
that I could hardly change it for another."
Edward had relieved himself slightly by this violent unloading of his
heart. But in doing so every feature of his strange condition had been
brought out so clearly before his eyes that, overpowered by the pain of
the struggle, he burst into tears, which flowed all the more freely as
his heart had been made weak by telling it all.
Mittler, who was the less disposed to put a check on his inexorable good
sense and strong, vigorous feeling, because by this violent outbreak of
passion on Edward's part he saw himself driven far from the purpose of
his coming, showed sufficiently decided marks of his disapprobation.
Edward should act as a man, he said; he should remember what he owed to
himself as a man. He should not forget that the highest honor was to
command ourselves in misfortune; to bear pain, if it must be so, with
equanimity and self-collectedness. That was what we should do, if we
wished to be valued and looked up to as examples of what was right.
Stirred and penetrated as Edward was with the bitterest feelings, words
like these could but have a hollow, worthless sound.
"It is well," he cried, "for the man who is happy, who has all that he
desires, to talk; but he would be ashamed of it if he could see how
intolerable it was to the sufferer. Nothing short of an infinite
endurance would be enough, and easy and contented as he was, what could
he know of an infinite agony? There are cases," he continued, "yes,
there are, where comfort is a lie, and despair is a duty. Go, heap your
scorn upon the noble Greek, who well knows how to delineate heroes, when
in their anguish he lets those heroes weep. He has even a proverb, 'Men
who can weep are good.' Leave me, all you with dry heart and dry eye.
Curses on the happy, to whom the wretched serve but for a spectacle.
When body and soul are torn in pieces with agony, they are to bear
it--yes, to be noble and bear it, if they are to be allowed to go off
the scene with applause. Like the gladiators, they must die gracefully
before the eyes of the multitude. My dear Mittler, I thank you for your
visit; but really you would oblige me much, if you would go out and look
about you in the garden. We will meet again. I will try to compose
myself, and become more like you."
Mittler was unwilling to let a conversation drop which it might be
difficult to begin again, and still persevered. Edward, too, was quite
ready to go on with it; besides that of itself, it was tending toward
the issue which he desired.
"Indeed," said the latter, "This thinking and arguing backward and
forward leads to nothing. In this very conversation I myself have first
come to understand myself; I have first felt decided as to what I must
make up my mind to do. My present and my future life I see before me; I
have to choose only between misery and happiness. Do you, my best
friend, bring about the separation which must take place, which, in
fact, is already made; gain Charlotte's consent for me. I will not enter
upon the reasons why I believe there will be the less difficulty in
prevailing upon her. You, my dear friend, must go. Go, and give us all
peace; make us all happy."
Mittler hesitated. Edward continued:
"My fate and Ottilie's cannot be divided, and shall not be shipwrecked.
Look at this glass; our initials are engraved upon it. A gay reveller
flung it into the air, that no one should drink of it more. It was to
fall on the rock and be dashed to pieces; but it did not fall; it was
caught. At a high price I bought it back, and now I drink out of it
daily--to convince myself that the connection between us cannot be
broken; that destiny has decided."
"Alas! alas!" cried Mittler, "what must I not endure with my friends?
Here comes superstition, which of all things I hate the worse--the most
mischievous and accursed of all the plagues of mankind. We trifle with
prophecies, with forebodings, and dreams, and give a seriousness to our
every-day life with them; but when the seriousness of life itself begins
to show, when everything around us is heaving and rolling, then come in
these spectres to make the storm more terrible."
"In this uncertainty of life," cried Edward, "poised as it is between
hope and fear, leave the poor heart its guiding-star. It may gaze toward
it, if it cannot steer toward it."
"Yes, I might leave it; and it would be very well," replied Mittler, "if
there were but one consequence to expect; but I have always found that
nobody will attend to symptoms of warning. Man cares for nothing except
what flatters him and promises him fair; and his faith is alive
exclusively for the sunny side."
Mittler, finding himself carried off into the shadowy regions, in which
the longer he remained the more uncomfortable he always felt, was the
more ready to assent to Edward's eager wish that he should go to
Charlotte. Indeed, if he stayed, what was there further which at that
moment he could urge on Edward? To gain time, to inquire in what state
things were with the ladies, was the best thing which even he himself
could suggest as at present possible.
He hastened to Charlotte, whom he found as usual, calm and in good
spirits. She told him readily of everything which had occurred; for from
what Edward had said he had only been able to gather the effects. On his
own side, he felt his way with the utmost caution. He could not prevail
upon himself even cursorily to mention the word separation. It was a
surprise, indeed, to him, but from his point of view an unspeakably
delightful one, when Charlotte, at the end of a number of unpleasant
things, finished with saying:
"I must believe, I must hope, that things will all work round again, and
that Edward will return to me. How can it be otherwise as soon as I
become a mother?"
"Do I understand you right?" returned Mittler.
"Perfectly," Charlotte answered.
"A thousand times blessed be this news!" he cried, clasping his hands
together. "I know the strength of this argument on the mind of a man.
Many a marriage have I seen first cemented by it, and restored again
when broken. Such a good hope as this is worth more than a thousand
words. Now indeed it is the best hope which we can have. For myself,
though," he continued, "I have all reason to be vexed about it. In this
case I can see clearly no self-love of mine will be flattered. I shall
earn no thanks from you by my services; I am in the same case as a
certain medical friend of mine, who succeeds in all cures which he
undertakes with the poor for the love of God; but can seldom do anything
for the rich who will pay him. Here, thank God, the thing cures itself,
after all my talking and trying had proved fruitless."
Charlotte now asked him if he would carry the news to Edward: if he
would take a letter to him from her, and then see what should be done.
But he declined undertaking this. "All is done," he cried; "do you write
your letter--any messenger will do as well as I--I will come back to wish
you joy. I will come to the christening!"
For this refusal she was vexed with him--as she frequently was. His
eager, impetuous character brought about much good; but his over-haste
was the occasion of many a failure. No one was more dependent than he on
the impressions which he formed on the moment. Charlotte's messenger
came to Edward, who received him half in terror. The letter was to
decide his fate, and it might as well contain No as Yes. He did not
venture, for a long time, to open it. At last he tore off the cover, and
stood petrified at the following passage, with which it concluded:
"Remember the night-adventure when you visited your wife as a
lover--how you drew her to you, and clasped her as a well-beloved bride
in your arms. In this strange accident let us revere the providence of
heaven, which has woven a new link to bind us, at the moment when the
happiness of our lives was threatening to fall asunder and to vanish."
What passed from that moment in Edward's soul it would be difficult to
describe! Under the weight of such a stroke, old habits and fancies come
out again to assist to kill the time and fill up the chasms of life.
Hunting and fighting are an ever-ready resource of this kind for a
nobleman; Edward longed for some outward peril, as a counterbalance to
the storm within him. He craved for death, because the burden of life
threatened to become too heavy for him to bear. It comforted him to
think that he would soon cease to be, and so would make those whom he
loved happy by his departure.
No one made any difficulty in his doing what he purposed--because he
kept his intention a secret. He made his will with all due formalities.
It gave him a very sweet feeling to secure Ottilie's fortune--provision
was made for Charlotte, for the unborn child, for the Captain, and for
the servants. The war, which had again broken out, favored his wishes:
he had disliked exceedingly the half-soldiering which had fallen to him
in his youth, and that was the reason why he had left the service. Now
it gave him a fine exhilarating feeling to be able to rejoin it under a
commander of whom it could be said that, under his conduct, death was
likely and victory was sure.
Ottilie, when Charlotte's secret was made known to her, bewildered by
it, like Edward, and more than he, retired into herself--she had nothing
further to say: hope she could not, and wish she dared not. A glimpse
into what was passing in her we can gather from her Diary, some passages
of which we think to communicate.
There often happens to us in common life what, in an epic poem, we are
accustomed to praise as a stroke of art in the poet; namely, that when
the chief figures go off the scene, conceal themselves or retire into
inactivity, some other or others, whom hitherto we have scarcely
observed, come forward and fill their places. And these putting out all
their force, at once fix our attention and sympathy on themselves, and
earn our praise and admiration.
Thus, after the Captain and Edward were gone, the Architect, of whom we
have spoken, appeared every day a more important person. The ordering
and executing of a number of undertakings depended entirely upon him,
and he proved himself thoroughly understanding and businesslike in the
style in which he went to work; while in a number of other ways he was
able also to make himself of assistance to the ladies, and find
amusement for their weary hours. His outward air and appearance were of
the kind which win confidence and awake affection. A youth in the full
sense of the word, well-formed, tall, perhaps a little too stout; modest
without being timid, and easy without being obtrusive, there was no work
and no trouble which he was not delighted to take upon himself; and as
he could keep accounts with great facility, the whole economy of the
household soon was no secret to him, and everywhere his salutary
influence made itself felt. Any stranger who came he was commonly set to
entertain, and he was skilful either at declining unexpected visits, or
at least so far preparing the ladies for them as to spare them any
Among others, he had one day no little trouble with a young lawyer, who
had been sent by a neighboring nobleman to speak about a matter which,
although of no particular moment, yet touched Charlotte to the quick. We
have to mention this incident because it gave occasion for a number of
things which otherwise might perhaps have remained long untouched.
We remember certain alterations which Charlotte had made in the
churchyard. The entire body of the monuments had been removed from their
places, and had been ranged along the walls of the church, leaning
against the string-course. The remaining space had been levelled, except
a broad walk which led up to the church, and past it to the opposite
gate; and it had been all sown with various kinds of trefoil, which had
shot up and flowered most beautifully.
The new graves were to follow one after another in a regular order from
the end, but the spot on each occasion was to be carefully smoothed over
and again sown. No one could deny that on Sundays and holidays when the
people went to church the change had given it a most cheerful and
pleasant appearance. At the same time the clergyman, an old man and
clinging to old customs, who at first had not been especially pleased
with the alteration, had become thoroughly delighted with it, all the
more because when he sat out like Philemon with his Baucis under the old
linden trees at his back door, instead of the humps and mounds he had a
beautiful clean lawn to look out upon; and which, moreover, Charlotte
having secured the use of the spot to the Parsonage, was no little
convenience to his household.
Notwithstanding this, however, many members of the congregation had been
displeased that the means of marking the spots where their forefathers
rested had been removed, and all memorials of them thereby obliterated.
However well preserved the monuments might be, they could only show who
had been buried, but not where he had been buried, and the _where_, as
many maintained, was everything.
Of this opinion was a family in the neighborhood, who for many years had
been in possession of a considerable vault for a general resting-place
of themselves and their relations, and in consequence had settled a
small annual sum for the use of the church. And now this young lawyer
had been sent to cancel this settlement, and to show that his client did
not intend to pay it any more, because the conditions under which it had
been hitherto made had not been observed by the other party, and no
regard had been paid to objection and remonstrance. Charlotte, who was
the originator of the alteration herself, chose to speak to the young
man, who in a decided though not a violent manner, laid down the grounds
on which his client proceeded, and gave occasion in what he said for
much serious reflection.
"You see," he said, after a slight introduction, in which he sought to
justify his peremptoriness; "you see, it is right for the lowest as well
as for the highest to mark the spot which holds those who are dearest to
him. The poorest, peasant, who buries a child, finds it some consolation
to plant a light wooden cross upon the grave, and hang a garland upon
it, to keep alive the memorial, at least as long as the sorrow remains;
although such a mark, like the mourning, will pass away with time. Those
better off change the cross of wood into iron, and fix it down and guard
it in various ways; and here we have endurance for many years. But
because this too will sink at last, and become invisible, those who are
able to bear the expense see nothing fitter than to raise a stone which
shall promise to endure for generations, and which can be restored and
made fresh again by posterity. Yet this stone it is not which attracts
us; it is that which is contained beneath it, which is intrusted, where
it stands, to the earth. It is not the memorial so much of which we
speak, as of the person himself; not of what once was, but of what is.
Far better, far more closely, can I embrace some dear departed one in
the mound which rises over his bed, than in a monumental writing which
only tells us that once he was. In itself, indeed, it is but little; but
around it, as around a central mark, the wife, the husband, the kinsman,
the friend, after their departure, shall gather in again; and the living
shall have the right to keep far off all strangers and evil-wishers
from the side of the dear one who is sleeping there. And, therefore, I
hold it quite fair and fitting that my principal shall withdraw his
grant to you. It is, indeed, but too reasonable that he should do it,
for the members of his family are injured in a way for which no
compensation could be even proposed. They are deprived of the sad sweet
feelings of laying offerings on the remains of their dead, and of the
one comfort in their sorrow of one day lying down at their side."
"The matter is not of that importance," Charlotte answered, "that we
should disquiet ourselves about it with the vexation of a lawsuit. I
regret so little what I have done, that I will gladly myself indemnify
the church for what it loses through you. Only I must confess candidly
to you, your arguments have not convinced me; the pure feeling of an
universal equality at last, after death, seems to me more composing than
this hard determined persistence in our personalities and in the
conditions and circumstances of our lives. What do you say to it?" she
added, turning to the Architect.
"It is not for me," replied he, "either to argue, or to attempt to judge
in such a case. Let me venture, however, to say what my own art and my
own habits of thinking suggest to me. Since we are no longer so happy as
to be able to press to our breasts the in-urned remains of those we have
loved; since we are neither wealthy enough nor of cheerful heart enough
to preserve them undecayed in large elaborate sarcophagi; since, indeed,
we cannot even find place any more for ourselves and ours in the
churches, and are banished out into the open air, we all, I think, ought
to approve the method which you, my gracious lady, have introduced. If
the members of a common congregation are laid out side by side, they are
resting by the side of, and among their kindred; and, if the earth be
once to receive us all, I can find nothing more natural or more
desirable than that the mounds, which, if they are thrown up, are sure
to sink slowly in again together, should be smoothed off at once, and
the covering, which all bear alike, will press lighter upon each."
"And is it all, is it all to pass away," asked Ottilie, "without one
token of remembrance, without anything to call back the past?"
"By no means," continued the Architect; "it is not from remembrance, it
is from place that men should be set free. The architect, the sculptor,
are highly interested that men should look to their art--to their hand,
for a continuance of their being; and, therefore, I should wish to see
well-designed, well-executed monuments; not sown up and down by
themselves at random, but erected all in a single spot, where they can
promise themselves endurance. Inasmuch as even the good and the great
are contented to surrender the privilege of resting in person in the
churches, _we_ may, at least, erect there or in some fair hall near the
burying place, either monuments or monumental writings. A thousand forms
might be suggested for them, and a thousand ornaments with which they
might be decorated."
"If the artists are so rich," replied Charlotte, "then tell me how it is
that they are never able to escape from little obelisks, dwarf pillars,
and urns for ashes? Instead of your thousand forms of which you boast, I
have never seen anything but a thousand repetitions."
"It is very generally so with us," returned the Architect, "but it is
not universal; and very likely the right taste and the proper
application of it may be a peculiar art. In this case especially we have
this great difficulty, that the monument must be something cheerful and
yet commemorate a solemn subject; while its matter is melancholy, it
must not itself be melancholy. As regards designs for monuments of all
kinds, I have collected numbers of them, and I will take some
opportunity of showing them to you; but at all times the fairest
memorial of a man remains some likeness of himself. This better than
anything else, will give a notion of what he was; it is the best text
for many or for few notes, only it ought to be made when he is at his
best age, and that is generally neglected; no one thinks of preserving
forms while they are alive, and if it is done at all, it is done
carelessly and incompletely; and then comes death; a cast is taken
swiftly of the face; this mask is set upon a block of stone, and that is
what is called a bust. How seldom is the artist in a position to put any
real life into such things as these!"
"You have contrived," said Charlotte, "without perhaps knowing it or
wishing it, to lead the conversation altogether in my favor. The
likeness of a man is quite independent; everywhere that it stands, it
stands for itself, and we do not require it to mark the site of a
particular grave. But I must acknowledge to you to having a strange
feeling; even to likenesses I have a kind of disinclination. Whenever I
see them they seem to be silently reproaching me. They point to
something far away from us--gone from us; and they remind me how
difficult it is to pay right honor to the present. If we think how many
people we have seen and known, and consider how little we have been to
them and how little they have been to us, it is no very pleasant
reflection. We have met a man of genius without having enjoyed much with
him--a learned man without having learnt from him--a traveler without
having been instructed,--a man to love without having shown him any
"And, unhappily, this is not the case only with accidental meetings.
Societies and families behave in the same way toward their dearest
members, towns toward their worthiest citizens, people toward their most
admirable princes, nations toward their most distinguished men.
"I have heard it asked why we heard nothing but good spoken of the dead,
while of the living it is never without some exception. It should be
answered, because from the former we have nothing any more to fear,
while the latter may still, here or there, fall in our way. So unreal is
our anxiety to preserve the memory of others--generally no more than a
mere selfish amusement; and the real, holy, earnest feeling would be
what should prompt us to be more diligent and assiduous in our
attentions toward those who still are left to us."
Under the stimulus of this accident, and of the conversations which
arose out of it, they went the following day to look over the
burying-place, for the ornamenting of which and relieving it in some
degree of its sombre look, the Architect made many a happy proposal. His
interest too had to extend itself to the church as well; a building
which had caught his attention from the moment of his arrival.
It had been standing for many centuries, built in old German style, the
proportions good, the decorating elaborate and excellent; and one might
easily gather that the architect of the neighboring monastery had left
the stamp of his art and of his love on this smaller building also; it
worked on the beholder with a solemnity and a sweetness, although the
change in its internal arrangements for the Protestant service had taken
from it something of its repose and majesty.
The Architect found no great difficulty in prevailing on Charlotte to
give him a considerable sum of money to restore it externally and
internally, in the original spirit, and thus, as he thought, to bring it
into harmony with the resurrection-field which lay in front of it. He
had himself much practical skill, and a few laborers who were still busy
at the lodge might easily be kept together, until this pious work too
should be completed.
The building itself, therefore, with all its environs, and whatever was
attached to it, was now carefully and thoroughly examined; and then
showed itself, to the greatest surprise and delight of the Architect, a
little side chapel, which nobody had thought of, beautifully and
delicately proportioned, and displaying still greater care and pains in
its decoration. It contained at the same time many remnants, carved
and painted, of the implements used in the old services, when the
different festivals were distinguished by a variety of pictures and
ceremonies, and each was celebrated in its own peculiar style.
It was impossible for him not at once to take this chapel into his plan;
and he determined to bestow especial pains on the restoring of this
little spot, as a memorial of old times and of their taste. He saw
exactly how he would like to have the vacant surfaces of the walls
ornamented, and delighted himself with the prospect, of exercising his
talent for painting upon them; but of this, at first, he made a secret
to the rest of the party.
Before doing anything else, he fulfilled his promise of showing the
ladies the various imitations of, and designs from, old monuments,
vases, and other such things which he had made, and when they came to
speak of the simple barrow-sepulchres of the northern nations, he
brought a collection of weapons and implements which had been found in
them. He had got them exceedingly nicely and conveniently arranged in
drawers and compartments, laid on boards cut to fit them, and covered
over with cloth; so that these solemn old things, in the way he treated
them, had a smart dressy appearance, and it was like looking into the
box of a trinket merchant.
Having once begun to show his curiosities, and finding them prove
serviceable to entertain our friends in their loneliness, every evening
he would produce one or other of his treasures. They were most of them
of German origin--pieces of metal, old coins, seals, and such like. All
these things directed the imagination back upon old times; and when at
last they came to amuse themselves with the first specimens of printing,
woodcuts, and the earliest copper-plate engraving, and when the church,
in the same spirit, was growing out, every day, more and more in form
and color like the past, they had almost to ask themselves whether they
really were living in a modern time, whether it were not a dream, that
manners, customs, modes of life, and convictions were all really so
After such preparation, a great portfolio, which at last he produced,
had the best possible effect. It contained indeed principally only
outlines and figures, but as these had been traced upon original
pictures, they retained perfectly their ancient character, and most
captivating indeed this character was to the spectators. All the figures
breathed only the purest feeling; every one, if not noble, at any rate
was good; cheerful composure, ready recognition of One above us, to whom
all reverence is due; silent devotion, in love and tranquil expectation,
was expressed on every face, on every gesture. The old bald-headed man,
the curly-pated boy, the light-hearted youth, the earnest man, the
glorified saint, the angel hovering in the air, all seemed happy in an
innocent, satisfied, pious expectation. The commonest object had a trait
of celestial life; and every nature seemed adapted to the service of
God, and to be, in some way or other, employed upon it.
Toward such a region most of them gazed as toward a vanished golden age,
or on some lost paradise; only perhaps Ottilie had a chance of finding
herself among beings of her own nature. Who could offer any proposition
when the Architect asked to be allowed to paint the spaces between the
arches and the walls of the chapel in the style of these old pictures
and thereby leave his own distinct memorial at a place where life had
gone so pleasantly with him?
He spoke of it with some sadness, for he could see, in the state in
which things were, that his sojourn in such delightful society could not
last forever; indeed, that perhaps it would now soon be ended.
For the rest, these days were not rich in incidents; yet full of
occasion for serious entertainment. We therefore take the opportunity of
communicating something of the remarks which Ottilie noted down among
her manuscripts, to which we cannot find a fitter transition than
through a simile which suggested itself to us on contemplating her
There is, we are told, a curious contrivance in the service of the
English marine. The ropes in use in the royal navy, from the largest to
the smallest, are so twisted that a red thread runs through them from
end to end, which cannot be extracted without undoing the whole; and by
which the smallest pieces may be recognized as belonging to the crown.
Just so is there drawn through Ottilie Is diary, a thread of attachment
and affection which connects it all together, and characterizes the
whole. And thus these remarks, these observations, these extracted
sentences, and whatever else it may contain, were, to the writer, of
peculiar meaning. Even the few separate pieces which we select and
transcribe will sufficiently explain our meaning.
FROM OTTILIE'S DIARY
"To rest hereafter at the side of those whom we love is the most
delightful thought which man can have when once he looks out beyond the
boundary of life. What a sweet expression is that--'He was gathered to
"Of the various memorials and tokens which bring nearer to us the
distant and the separated--none is so satisfactory as a picture. To sit
and talk to a beloved picture, even though it be unlike, has a charm in
it, like the charm which there sometimes is in quarrelling with a
friend. We feel, in a strange sweet way, that we are divided and yet
"We entertain ourselves often with a present person as with a picture.
He need not speak to us, he need not look at us, or take any notice of
us; we look at him, we feel the relation in which we stand to him; such
relation can even grow without his doing anything toward it, without his
having any feeling of it: he is to us exactly as a picture."
"One is never satisfied with a portrait of a person that one knows. I
have always felt for the portrait-painter on this account. One so seldom
requires of people what is impossible, and of them we do really require
what is impossible; they must gather up into their picture the relation
of every body to its subject, all their likings and all dislikings; they
must not only paint a man as they see him, but as every one else sees
him. It does not surprise me if such artists become by degrees stunted,
indifferent, and of but one idea; and indeed it would not matter what
came of it, if it were not that in consequence we have to go without the
pictures of so many persons near and dear to us."
"It is too true, the Architect's collection of weapons and old
implements, which were found with the bodies of their owners, covered in
with great hills of earth and rock, proves to us how useless is man's so
great anxiety to preserve his personality after he is dead; and so
inconsistent people are, the Architect confesses to have himself opened
these barrows of his forefathers, and yet goes on occupying himself with
memorials for posterity."
"But after all why should we take it so much to heart? Is all that we
do, done for eternity? Do we not put on our dress in the morning, to
throw it off again at night? Do we not go abroad to return home again?
And why should we not wish to rest by the side of our friends, though it
were but for a century?"
"When we see the many gravestones which have fallen in, which have been
defaced by the footsteps of the congregation, which lie buried under the
ruins of the churches, that have themselves crumbled together over them,
we may fancy the life after death to be as a second life, into which a
man enters in the figure, or the picture, or the inscription, and lives
longer there than when he was really alive. But this figure also, this
second existence, dies out too, sooner or later. Time will not allow
himself to be cheated of his rights with the monuments of men or with
It causes us so agreeable a sensation to occupy ourselves with what we
can only half do, that no person ought to find fault with the
dilettante, when he is spending his time over an art which he can never
learn; nor blame the artist if he chooses to pass out over the border of
his own art, and amuse himself in some neighboring field. With such
complacency of feeling we regard the preparation of the Architect for
painting the chapel. The colors were got ready, the measurements taken,
the cartoons designed. He had made no attempt at originality, but kept
close to his outlines; his only care was to make a proper distribution
of the sitting and floating figures, so as tastefully to ornament his
space with them.
The scaffoldings were erected. The work went forward; and as soon as
anything had been done on which the eye could rest, he could have no
objection to Charlotte and Ottilie coming to see how he was getting on.
The life-like faces of the angels, their robes waving against the blue
sky-ground, delighted the eye, while their still and holy air calmed and
composed the spirit, and produced the most delicate effect.
The ladies ascended the scaffolding to him, and Ottilie had scarcely
observed how easily and regularly the work was being done when the power
which had been fostered in her by her early education at once appeared
to develop. She took a brush, and with a few words of direction, painted
a richly folding robe, with as much delicacy as skill.
Charlotte, who was always glad when Ottilie would occupy or amuse
herself with anything, left them both in the chapel, and went to follow
the train of her own thoughts, and work her way for herself through her
cares and anxieties which she was unable to communicate to a creature.
When ordinary men allow themselves to be worked up by common every-day
difficulties into fever-fits of passion, we can give them nothing but a
compassionate smile. But we look with a kind of awe on a spirit in
which the seed of a great destiny has been sown, which must abide the
unfolding of the germ, and neither dare nor can do anything to
precipitate either the good or the ill, either the happiness or the
misery, which is to arise out of it.
Edward had sent an answer by Charlotte's messenger, who had come to him
in his solitude. It was written with kindness and interest, but it was
rather composed and serious than warm and affectionate. He had vanished
almost immediately after, and Charlotte could learn no news about him;
till at last she accidentally found his name in the newspaper, where he
was mentioned with honor among those who had most distinguished
themselves in a late important engagement. She now understood the method
which he had taken; she perceived that he had escaped from great danger;
only she was convinced at the same time that he would seek out greater;
and it was all too clear to her that in every sense he would hardly be
withheld from any extremity.
She had to bear about this perpetual anxiety in her thoughts, and turn
which way she would, there was no light in which she could look at it
that would give her comfort.
Ottilie, never dreaming of anything of this, had taken to the work in
the chapel with the greatest interest, and she had easily obtained
Charlotte's permission to go on with it regularly. So now all went
swiftly forward, and the azure heaven was soon peopled with worthy
inhabitants. By continual practice both Ottilie and the Architect had
gained more freedom with the last figures; they became perceptibly
better. The faces, too, which had been all left to the Architect to
paint, showed by degrees a very singular peculiarly. They began all of
them to resemble Ottilie. The neighborhood of the beautiful girl had
made so strong an impression on the soul of the young man, who had no
variety of faces preconceived in his mind, that by degrees, on the way
from the eye to the hand, nothing was lost, and both worked in exact
harmony together. Enough; one of the last faces succeeded perfectly; so
that it seemed as if Ottilie herself was looking down out of the spaces
of the sky.
They had finished with the arching of the ceiling. The walls they
proposed to leave plain, and only to cover them over with a bright brown
color. The delicate pillars and the quaintly molded ornaments were to be
distinguished from them by a dark shade. But as in such things one thing
ever leads on to another, they determined at least on having festoons of
flowers and fruit, which should, as it were, unite heaven and earth.
Here Ottilie was in her element. The gardens provided the most perfect
patterns; and although the wreaths were as rich as they could make them,
it was all finished sooner than they had supposed possible.
It was still looking rough and disorderly. The scaffolding poles had
been run together, the planks thrown one on the top of the other; the
uneven pavement was yet more disfigured by the parti-colored stains of
the paint which had been spilt over it.
The Architect begged that the ladies would give him a week to himself,
and during that time would not enter the chapel; at the end of it, one
fine evening, he came to them, and begged them both to go and see it. He
did not wish to accompany them, he said, and at once took his leave.
"Whatever surprise he may have designed for us," said Charlotte, as soon
as he was gone, "I cannot myself just now go down there. You can go by
yourself, and tell me all about it. No doubt he has been doing something
which we shall like. I will enjoy it first in your description, and
afterwards it will be the more charming in the reality."
Ottilie, who knew well that in many cases Charlotte took care to avoid
everything which could produce emotion, and particularly disliked to be
surprised, set off down the walk by herself and looked round
involuntarily for the Architect, who, however, was nowhere to be seen
and must have concealed himself somewhere. She walked into the church,
which she found open. This had been finished before; it had been cleaned
up, and service had been performed in it. She went on to the chapel
door; its heavy mass, all overlaid with iron, yielded easily to her
touch, and she found an unexpected sight in a familiar spot.
A solemn, beautiful light streamed in through the one tall window. It
was filled with stained glass, gracefully put together. The entire
chapel had thus received a strange tone, and a peculiar genius was
thrown over it. The beauty of the vaulted ceiling and the walls was set
off by the elegance of the pavement, which was composed of peculiarly
shaped tiles, fastened together with gypsum, and forming exquisite
patterns as they lay. This and the colored glass for the windows the
Architect had prepared without their knowledge, and a short time was
sufficient to have it put in its place.
Seats had been provided as well. Among the relics of the old church some
finely carved chancel chairs had been discovered, which now were
standing about at convenient places along the walls.
The parts which she knew so well now meeting her as an unfamiliar whole,
delighted Ottilie. She stood still, walked up and down, looked and
looked again; at last she seated herself in one of the chairs, and it
seemed, as she gazed up and down, as if she was, and yet was not--as if
she felt and did not feel--as if all this would vanish from before her,
and she would vanish from herself; and it was only when the sun left the
window, on which before it had been shining full, that she awoke to
possession of herself and hastened back to the castle.
She did not hide from herself the strange epoch at which this surprise
had occurred to her. It was the evening of Edward's birthday. Very
differently she had hoped to keep it. How was not every thing to be
dressed out for this festival and now all the splendor of the autumn
flowers remained ungathered! Those sunflowers still turned their faces
to the sky; those asters still looked out with quiet, modest eye; and
whatever of them all had been wound into wreaths had served as patterns
for the decorating a spot which, if it was not to remain a mere
artist's fancy, was only adapted as a general mausoleum.
And then she had to remember the impetuous eagerness with which Edward
had kept her birthday-feast. She. thought of the newly erected lodge,
under the roof of which they had promised themselves so much enjoyment.
The fireworks flashed and hissed again before her eyes and ears; the
more lonely she was, the more keenly her imagination brought it all
before her. But she felt herself only the more alone. She no longer
leant upon his arm, and she had no hope ever any more to rest herself
FROM OTTILIE'S DIARY
"I have been struck with an observation of the young architect.
"In the case of the creative artist, as in that of the artisan, it is
clear that man is least permitted to appropriate to himself what is most
entirely his own. His works forsake him as the birds forsake the nest in
which they were hatched.
"The fate of the Architect is the strangest of all in this way. How
often he expends his whole soul, his whole heart and passion, to produce
buildings into which he himself may never enter. The halls of kings owe
their magnificence to him; but he has no enjoyment of them in their
splendor. In the temple he draws a partition line between himself and
the Holy of Holies; he may never more set his foot upon the steps which
he has laid down for the heart-thrilling ceremonial, as the goldsmith
may only adore from far off the _monstrance_ whose enamel and whose
jewels he has himself set together. The builder surrenders to the rich
man, with the key of his palace, all pleasure and all right there, and
never shares with him in the enjoyment of it. And must not art in this
way, step by step, draw off from the artist, when the work, like a child
who is provided for, has no more to fall back upon its father? And what
a power there must be in art itself for its own self-advancing, when it
has been obliged to shape itself almost solely out of what was open to
all, only out of what was the property of every one, and therefore also
of the artist!"
"There is a conception among old nations which is awful, and may almost
seem terrible. They pictured their forefathers to themselves sitting
round on thrones, in enormous caverns, in silent converse; when a new
comer entered, if he were worthy enough, they rose up, and inclined
their heads to welcome him. Yesterday, as I was sitting in the chapel,
and other carved chairs stood round like that in which I was, the
thought of this came over me with a soft, pleasant feeling. Why cannot
you stay sitting here? I said to myself; stay here sitting meditating
with yourself long, long, long, till at last your friends come, and you
rise up to them, and with a gentle inclination direct them to their
places. The colored window panes convert the day into a solemn twilight;
and some one should set up for us an ever-burning lamp, that the night
might not be utter darkness."
"We may imagine ourselves in what situation we please, we always
conceive ourselves as _seeing_. I believe men only dream that they may
not cease to see. Some day, perhaps, the inner light will come out from
within us, and we shall not any more require another.
"The year dies away, the wind sweeps over the stubble, and there is
nothing left to stir under its touch. But the red berries on yonder tall
tree seem as if they would still remind us of brighter things; and the
stroke of the thrasher's flail awakes the thought how much of
nourishment and life lie buried in the sickled ear."
How strangely, after all this, with the sense so vividly impressed on
her of mutability and perishableness, must Ottilie have been affected by
the news which could not any longer be kept concealed from her, that
Edward had exposed himself to the uncertain chances of war! Unhappily,
none of the observations which she had occasion to make upon it escaped
her. But it is well for us that man can only endure a certain degree of
unhappiness; what is beyond that either annihilates him, or passes by
him, and leaves him apathetic. There are situations in which hope and
fear run together, in which they mutually destroy one another, and lose
themselves in a dull indifference. If it were not so, how could we bear
to know of those who are most dear to us being in hourly peril, and yet
go on as usual with our ordinary everyday life?
It was therefore as if some good genius was caring for Ottilie, that,
all at once, this stillness, in which she seemed to be sinking from
loneliness and want of occupation, was suddenly invaded by a wild army,
which, while it gave her externally abundance of employment, and so took
her out of herself, at the same time awoke in her the consciousness of
her own power.
Charlotte's daughter, Luciana, had scarcely left the school and gone out
into the great world; scarcely had she found herself at her aunt's house
in the midst of a large society, than her anxiety to please produced its
effect in really pleasing; and a young, very wealthy man, soon
experienced a passionate desire to make her his own. His large property
gave him a right to have the best of everything for his use, and nothing
seemed to be wanting to him except a perfect wife, for whom, as for the
rest of his good fortune, he should be the envy of the world.
This incident in her family had been for some time occupying Charlotte.
It had engaged all her attention, and taken up her whole correspondence,
except so far as this was directed to the obtaining news of Edward; so
that latterly Ottilie had been left more than was usual to herself. She
knew, indeed, of an intended visit from Luciana. She had been making
various changes and arrangements in the house in preparation for it; but
she had no notion that it was so near. Letters, she supposed, would
first have to pass, settling the time, and unsettling it; and at last a
final fixing: when the storm broke suddenly over the castle and over
Up drove, first, lady's maids and men-servants, their carriage loaded
with trunks and boxes. The household was already swelled to double or to
treble its size, and then appeared the visitors themselves. There was
the great aunt, with Luciana and some of her friends; and then the
bridegroom with some of his friends. The entrance-hall was full of
things--bags, portmanteaus, and leather articles of every sort. The
boxes had to be got out of their covers, and that was infinite trouble;
and of luggage and of rummage there was no end. At intervals, moreover,
there were violent showers, giving rise to much inconvenience. Ottilie
encountered all this confusion with the easiest equanimity, and her
happy talent showed in its fairest light. In a very little time she had
brought things to order, and disposed of them. Every one found his
room--every one hand his things exactly as they wished, and all thought
themselves well attended to, because they were not prevented from
attending on themselves.
The journey had been long and fatiguing, and they would all have been
glad of a little rest after it. The bridegroom would have liked to pay
his respects to his mother-in-law, express his pleasure, his gratitude,
and so on. But Luciana could not rest. She had now arrived at the
happiness of being able to mount a horse. The bridegroom had beautiful
horses, and mount they must on the spot. Clouds and wind, rain and
storm, they were nothing to Luciana, and now it was as if they only
lived to get wet through, and to dry themselves again. If she took a
fancy to go out walking, she never thought what sort of dress she had
on, or what her shoes were like; she must go and see the grounds of
which she had heard so much; what could not be done on horseback, she
ran through on foot. In a little while she had seen everything, and
given her opinion about everything; and with such rapidity of character
it was not easy to contradict or oppose her. The whole household had
much to suffer, but most particularly the lady's maids, who were at work
from morning to night, washing, and ironing, and stitching.
As soon as she had exhausted the house and the park, she thought it was
her duty to pay visits all around the neighborhood. Although they rode
and drove fast, "all around the neighborhood" was a goodly distance. The
castle was flooded with return visits, and that they might not miss one
another, it soon came to days being fixed for them.
Charlotte, in the meantime, with her aunt, and the man of business of
the bridegroom, were occupied in determining about the settlements, and
it was left to Ottilie, with those under her, to take care that all this
crowd of people were properly provided for. Gamekeepers and gardeners,
fishermen and shopdealers, were set in motion, Luciana always showing
herself like the blazing nucleus of a comet with its long tail trailing
behind it. The ordinary amusements of the parties soon became too
insipid for her taste. Hardly would she leave the old people in peace at
the card-table. Whoever could by any means be set moving (and who could
resist the charm of being pressed by her into service?) must up, if not
to dance, then to play at forfeits, or some other game, where they were
to be victimized and tormented. Notwithstanding all that, however, and
although afterward the redemption of the forfeits had to be settled with
herself, yet of those who played with her, never any one, especially
never any man, let him be of what sort he would, went quite empty-handed
away. Indeed, some old people of rank who were there she succeeded in
completely winning over to herself, by having contrived to find out
their birthdays or christening days, and marking them with some
particular celebration. In all this she showed a skill not a little
remarkable. Every one saw himself favored, and each considered himself
to be the one most favored, a weakness of which the oldest person of the
party was the most notably guilty.
It seemed to be a sort of pride with her that men who had anything
remarkable about them--rank, character, or fame--she must and would gain
for herself. Gravity and seriousness she made give way to her, and,
wild, strange creature as she was, she found favor even with discretion
itself. Not that the young were at all cut short in consequence.
Everybody had his share, his day, his hour, in which she contrived to
charm and to enchain him. It was therefore natural enough that before
long she should have had the Architect in her eye, looking out so
unconsciously as he did from under his long black hair, and standing so
calm and quiet in the background. To all her questions she received
short, sensible answers; but he did not seem inclined to allow himself
to be carried away further, and at last, half provoked, half in malice,
she resolved that she would make him the hero of a day, and so gain him
for her court.
It was not for nothing that she had brought that quantity of luggage
with her. Much, indeed, had followed her afterward. She had provided
herself with an endless variety of dresses. When it took her fancy she
would change her dress three or four times a day, usually wearing
something of an ordinary kind, but making her appearance suddenly at
intervals in a thorough masquerade dress, as a peasant girl or a
fish-maiden, as a fairy or a flower-girl; and this would go on from
morning till night. Sometimes she would even disguise herself as an old
woman, that her young face might peep out the fresher from under the
cap; and so utterly in this way did she confuse and mix together the
actual and the fantastic, that people thought they were living with a
sort of drawing-room witch.
But the principal use which she had for these disguises were pantomimic
tableaux and dances, in which she was skilful in expressing a variety of
character. A cavalier in her suite had taught himself to accompany her
action on the piano with the little music which was required; they
needed only to exchange a few words and they at once understood each
One day, in a pause of a brilliant ball, they were called upon suddenly
to extemporize (it was on a private hint from themselves) one of these
exhibitions. Luciana seemed embarrassed, taken by surprise, and contrary
to her custom let herself be asked more than once. She could not decide
upon her character, desired the party to choose, and asked, like an
improvisatore, for a subject. At last her piano-playing companion, with
whom it had been all previously arranged, sat down at the instrument,
and began to play a mourning march, calling on her to give them the
Artemisia which she had been studying so admirably. She consented; and
after a short absence reappeared, to the sad tender music of the dead
march, in the form of the royal widow, with measured step, carrying an
urn of ashes before her. A large black tablet was borne in after her,
and a carefully cut piece of chalk in a gold pencil case.
One of her adorers and adjutants, into whose ear she whispered
something, went directly to call the Architect, to desire him, and, if
he would not come, to drag him up, as master-builder, to draw the grave
for the mausoleum, and to tell him at the same time that he was not to
play the statist, but enter earnestly into his part as one of the
Embarrassed as the Architect outwardly appeared (for in his black,
close-fitting, modern civilian's dress, he formed a wonderful contrast
with the gauze crape fringes, tinsel tassels, and crown), he very soon
composed himself internally, and the scene became all the more strange.
With the greatest gravity he placed himself in front of the tablet,
which was supported by a couple of pages, and drew carefully an
elaborate tomb, which indeed would have suited better a Lombard than a
Carian prince; but it was in such beautiful proportions, so solemn in
its parts, so full of genius in its decoration, that the spectators
watched it growing with delight, and wondered at it when it was
All this time he had not once turned toward the queen, but had given his
whole attention to what he was doing. At last he inclined his head
before her, and signified that he believed he had now fulfilled her
commands. She held the urn out to him, expressing her desire to see it
represented on the top of the monument. He complied, although
unwillingly, as it would not suit the character of the rest of his
design. Luciana was now at last released from her impatience. Her
intention had been by no means to get a scientific drawing out of him.
If he had only made a few strokes, sketched out something which should
have looked like a monument, and devoted the rest of his time to her, it
would have been far more what she had wished, and would have pleased her
a great deal better. His manner of proceeding had thrown her into the
greatest embarrassment. For although in her sorrow, in her directions,
in her gestures, in her approbation of the work as it slowly rose before
her, she had tried to manage some sort of change of expression, and
although she had hung about close to him, only to place herself into
some sort of relation to him, yet he had kept himself throughout too
stiff, so that too often she had been driven to take refuge with her
urn; she had to press it to her heart and look up to heaven, and at
last, a situation of that kind having a necessary tendency to intensify,
she made herself more like a widow of Ephesus than a Queen of Caria. The
representation had to lengthen itself out and became tedious. The
pianoforte player, who had usually patience enough, did not know into
what tune he could escape. He thanked God when he saw the urn standing
on the pyramid, and fell involuntarily as the queen was going to express
her gratitude, into a merry air; by which the whole thing lost its
character, the company, however, being thoroughly cheered up by it, who
forthwith divided, some going up to express their delight and admiration
of the lady for her excellent performance, and some praising the
Architect for his most artistlike and beautiful drawing.
[Illustration: LUCIANA POSING AS QUEEN ARTEMISIA P. Grotjohann]
The bridegroom especially paid marked attention to the Architect. "I am
vexed," he said, "that the drawing should be so perishable; you will
permit me, however, to have it taken to my room, where I should much
like to talk to you about it."
"If it would give you any pleasure," said the Architect, "I can lay
before you a number of highly finished designs for buildings and
monuments of this kind, of which this is but a mere hasty sketch."
Ottilie was standing at no great distance, and went up to them. "Do not
forget," she said to the Architect, "to take an opportunity of letting
the Baron see your collection. He is a friend of art and of antiquity. I
should like you to become better acquainted."
Luciana was passing at the moment. "What are they speaking of?" she
"Of a collection of works of art," replied the Baron, "which this
gentleman possesses, and which he is good enough to say that he will
"Oh, let him bring them immediately," cried Luciana. "You will bring
them, will you not?" she added, in a soft and sweet tone, taking both
his hands in hers.
"The present is scarcely a fitting time," the Architect answered.
"What!" Luciana cried, in a tone of authority; "you will not obey the
command of your queen!" and then she begged him again with some piece of
"Do not be obstinate," said Ottilie, in a scarcely audible voice.
The Architect left them with a bow, which said neither yes nor no.
He was hardly gone, when Luciana was flying up and down the saloon with
a greyhound. "Alas!" she exclaimed, as she ran accidentally against her
mother, "am I not an unfortunate creature? I have not brought my monkey
with me. They told me I had better not; but I am sure it was nothing
but the laziness of my people, and it is such a delight to me. But I
will have it brought after me; somebody shall go and fetch it. If I
could only see a picture of the dear creature, it would be a comfort to
me; I certainly will have his picture taken, and it shall never be out
of my sight."
"Perhaps I can comfort you," replied Charlotte. "There is a whole volume
full of the most wonderful ape faces in the library, which you can have
fetched if you like."
Luciana shrieked for joy. The great folio was produced instantly. The
sight of these hideous creatures, so like to men, and with the
resemblance even more caricatured by the artist, gave Luciana the
greatest delight. Her amusement with each of the animals, was to find
some one of her acquaintance whom it resembled. "Is that not like my
uncle?" she remorselessly exclaimed; "and here, look, here is my
milliner M., and here is Parson S., and here the image of that
creature--bodily! After all, these monkeys are the real _incroyables_,
and it is inconceivable why they are not admitted into the best
It was in the best society that she said this, and yet no one took it
ill of her. People had become accustomed to allow her so many liberties
in her prettinesses, that at last they came to allow them in what was
During this time, Ottilie was talking to the bridegroom; she was looking
anxiously for the return of the Architect, whose serious and tasteful
collection was to deliver the party from the apes; and in the
expectation of it, she had made it the subject of her conversation with
the Baron, and directed his attention on various things which he was to
see. But the Architect stayed away, and when at last he made his
appearance, he lost himself in the crowd, without having brought
anything with him, and without seeming as if he had been asked for
For a moment Ottilie became--what shall we call it?--annoyed, put out,
perplexed. She had been saying so much about him--she had promised the
bridegroom an hour of enjoyment after his own heart; and with all the
depth of his love for Luciana, he was evidently suffering from her
The monkeys had to give place to a collation. Round games followed, and
then more dancing; at last, a general uneasy vacancy, with fruitless
attempts at resuscitating exhausted amusements, which lasted this time,
as indeed they usually did, far beyond midnight. It had already become a
habit with Luciana to be never able to get out of bed in the morning or
into it at night.
About this time, the incidents noticed in Ottilie's diary become more
rare, while we find a larger number of maxims and sentences drawn from
life and relating to life. It is not conceivable that the larger
proportion of these could have arisen from her own reflection, and most
likely some one had shown her varieties of them, and she had written out
what took her fancy. Many, however, with an internal bearing, can be
easily recognized by the red thread.
FROM OTTILIE'S DIARY
"We like to look into the future, because the undetermined in it, which
may be affected this or that way, we feel as if we could guide by our
silent wishes in our own favor."
"We seldom find ourselves in a large party without thinking; the
accident which brings so many here together, should bring our friends to
us as well."
"Let us live in as small a circle as we will, we are either debtors or
creditors before we have had time to look round."
"If we meet a person who is under an obligation to us, we remember it
immediately. But how often may we meet people to whom we are, ourselves,
under obligation, without its even occurring to us!"
"It is nature to communicate one's-self; it is culture to receive what
is communicated as it is given."
"No one would talk much in society, if he only knew how often he
"One alters so much what one has heard from others in repeating it, only
because one has not understood it."
"Whoever indulges long in monologue in the presence of others, without
flattering his listeners, provokes ill-will."
"Every word a man utters provokes the opposite opinion."
"Argument and flattery are but poor elements out of which to form a
"The pleasantest society is when the members of it have an easy and
natural respect for one another."
"There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in
what they find to laugh at."
"The ridiculous arises out of a moral contrast, in which two things are
brought together before the mind in an innocent way."
"The foolish man often laughs where there is nothing to laugh at.
Whatever touches him, his inner nature comes to the surface."
"The man of understanding finds almost everything ridiculous; the man of
thought scarcely anything."
"Some one found fault with an elderly man for continuing to pay
attention to young ladies. 'It is the only means,' he replied, 'of
keeping one's-self young, and everybody likes to do that.'"
"People will allow their faults to be shown them; they will let
themselves be punished for them; they will patiently endure many things
because of them; they only become impatient when they have to lay them
"Certain defects are necessary for the existence of individuality. We
should not be pleased, if old friends were to lay aside certain
"There is a saying, 'He will die soon,' when a man acts unlike
"What kind of defects may we bear with and even cultivate in ourselves?
Such as rather give pleasure to others than injure them."
"The passions are defects or excellencies only in excess."
"Our passions are true phoenixes: as the old burn out, the new straight
rise up out of the ashes."
"Violent passions are incurable diseases; the means which will cure them
are what first make them thoroughly dangerous."
"Passion is both raised and softened by confession. In nothing, perhaps,
were the middle way more desirable than in knowing what to say and what
not to say to those we love."
So swept on Luciana in the social whirlpool, driving the rush of life
along before her. Her court multiplied daily, partly because her
impetuosity roused and attracted so many, partly because she knew how to
attach the rest to her by kindness and attention. Generous she was in
the highest degree; her aunt's affection for her, and her bridegroom's
love, had heaped her with beautiful and costly presents, but she seemed
as if nothing which she had was her own, and as if she did not know the
value of the things which had streamed in upon her. One day she saw a
young lady looking rather poorly dressed by the side of the rest of the
party, and she did not hesitate a moment to take off a rich shawl which
she was wearing and hang it over her--doing it, at the same time, in
such a humorous, graceful way that no one could refuse such a present so
given. One of her courtiers always carried about a purse, with orders,
whatever place they passed through, to inquire there for the most aged
and most helpless persons, and give them relief, at least for the
moment. In this way she gained for herself all round the country a
reputation for charitableness which caused her not a little
inconvenience, attracting about her far too many troublesome sufferers.
Nothing, however, so much added to her popularity as her steady and
consistent kindness toward an unhappy young man, who shrank from society
because, while otherwise handsome and well-formed, he had lost his right
hand, although with high honor, in action. This mutilation weighed so
heavily upon his spirits, it was so annoying to him, that every new
acquaintance he made had to be told the story of his misfortune, that he
chose rather to shut himself up altogether, devoting himself to reading
and other studious pursuits, and once for all would have nothing more to
do with society.
She heard of the state of this young man. At once she contrived to
prevail upon him to come to her, first to small parties, then to
greater, and then out into the world with her. She showed more attention
to him than to any other person; particularly she endeavored, by the
services which she pressed upon him, to make him sensible of what he had
lost in laboring herself to supply it. At dinner, she would make him sit
next to her; she cut up his food for him, that he might have to use only
his fork. If people older or of higher rank prevented her from being
close to him, she would stretch her attention across the entire table,
and the servants were hurried off to make up to him what distance
threatened to deprive him of. At last she encouraged him to write with
his left hand. All his attempts he was to address to her and thus,
whether far or near, she always kept herself in correspondence with him.
The young man did not know what had happened to him, and from that
moment a new life opened out before him.
One may perhaps suppose that such behavior must have caused some
uneasiness to her bridegroom. But, in fact, it was quite the reverse. He
admired her exceedingly for her exertions, and he had the more reason
for feeling entirely satisfied about her, as she had certain features in
her character almost in excess, which kept anything in the slightest
degree dangerous utterly at a distance. She would run about with
anybody, just as she fancied; no one was free from danger of a push or a
pull, or of being made the object of some sort of freak. But no person
ever ventured to do the same to her; no person dared to touch her, or
return, in the remotest degree, any liberty which she had taken herself.
She kept every one within the strictest barriers of propriety in their
behavior to herself, while she, in her own behavior, was every moment
On the whole, one might have supposed it had been a maxim with her to
expose herself indifferently to praise or blame, to regard or to
dislike. If in many ways she took pains to gain people, she commonly
herself spoiled all the good she had done, by an ill tongue, which
spared no one. Not a visit was ever paid in the neighborhood, not a
single piece of hospitality was ever shown to herself and her party
among the surrounding castles or mansions, but what, on her return, her
excessive recklessness let it appear that all men and all human things
she was only inclined to see on the ridiculous side.
There were three brothers who, purely out of compliment to one another,
kept up a good-natured and urbane controversy as to which should marry
first, had been overtaken by old age before they had got the question
settled; here was a little young wife with a great old husband; there,
on the other hand, was a dapper little man and an unwieldy giantess. In
one house, every step one took one stumbled over a child; another,
however many people were crammed into it, never would seem full, because
there were no children there at all. Old husbands (supposing the estate
was not entailed) should get themselves buried as quickly as possible,
that such a thing as a laugh might be heard again in the house. Young
married people should travel: housekeeping did not sit well upon them.
And as she treated the persons, so she treated what belonged to them;
their houses, their furniture, their dinner-services--everything. The
ornaments of the walls of the rooms most particularly provoked her saucy
remarks. From the oldest tapestry to the most modern printed paper; from
the noblest family pictures to the most frivolous new copper-plate: one
as well as the other had to suffer--one as well as the other had to be
pulled in pieces by her satirical tongue, so that, indeed, one had to
wonder how, for twenty miles round, anything continued to exist.
It was not, perhaps, exactly malice which produced all this
destructiveness; wilfulness and selfishness were what ordinarily set her
off upon it: but a genuine bitterness grew up in her feelings toward
She looked down with disdain on the calm, uninterrupted activity of the
sweet girl, which every one had observed and admired; and when something
was said of the care which Ottilie took of the garden and of the
hot-houses, she not only spoke scornfully of it, in affecting to be
surprised, if it were so, at there being neither flowers nor fruit to be
seen, not caring to consider that they were living in the depth of
winter, but every faintest scrap of green, every leaf, every bud which
showed, she chose to have picked every day and squandered on ornamenting
the rooms and tables, and Ottilie and the gardener were not a little
distressed to see their hopes for the next year, and perhaps for a
longer time, destroyed in this wanton recklessness.
As little would she be content to leave Ottilie to her quiet work at
home, in which she could live with so much comfort. Ottilie must go with
them on their pleasure-parties and sledging-parties; she must be at the
balls which were being got up all about the neighborhood. She was not to
mind the snow, or the cold, or the night-air, or the storm; other people
did not die of such things, and why should she? The delicate girl
suffered not a little from it all, but Luciana gained nothing. For
although Ottilie went about very simply dressed, she was always, at
least so the men thought, the most beautiful person present. A soft
attractiveness gathered them all about her; no matter whereabouts in
the great rooms she was, first or last, it was always the same. Even
Luciana's bridegroom was constantly occupied with her; the more so,
indeed, because he desired her advice and assistance in a matter with
which he was just then engaged.
He had cultivated the acquaintance of the Architect. On seeing his
collection of works of art, he had taken occasion to talk much with him
on history and on other matters, and especially from seeing the chapel
had learnt to appreciate his talent. The Baron was young and wealthy. He
was a collector; he wished to build. His love for the arts was keen, his
knowledge small. In the Architect he thought that he had found the man
he wanted; that with his assistance there was more than one aim at which
he could arrive at once. He had spoken to his bride of what he wished.
She praised him for it, and was infinitely delighted with the proposal.
But it was more, perhaps, that she might carry off this young man from
Ottilie (for whom she fancied she saw in him a kind of inclination),
than because she thought of applying his talents to any purpose. He had
shown himself, indeed, very ready to help at any of her extemporized
festivities, and had suggested various resources for this thing and
that. But she always thought she understood better than he what should
be done, and as her inventive genius was usually somewhat common, her
designs could be as well executed with the help of a tolerably handy
domestic as with that of the most finished artist. Further than to an
altar on which something was to be offered, or to a crowning, whether of
a living head or of one of plaster of paris, the force of her
imagination could not ascend, when a birthday, or other such occasion,
made her wish to pay some one an especial compliment.
Ottilie was able to give the Baron the most satisfactory answer to his
inquiries as to the relation of the Architect with their family.
Charlotte had already, as she was aware, been exerting herself to find
some situation for him; had it not been indeed for the arrival of the
party, the young man would have left them immediately on the completion
of the chapel, the winter having brought all building operations to a
standstill; and it was, therefore, most fortunate if a new patron could
be found to assist him, and to make use of his talents.
Ottilie's own personal position with the Architect was as pure and
unconscious as possible. His agreeable presence, and his industrious
nature, had charmed and entertained her, as the presence of an elder
brother might. Her feelings for him remained at the calm unimpassioned
level of blood relationship. For in her heart there was no room for
more; it was filled to overflowing with love for Edward; only God, who
interpenetrates all things, could share with him the possession of that
Meanwhile the winter sank deeper; the weather grew wilder, the roads
more impracticable, and therefore it seemed all the pleasanter to spend
the waning days in agreeable society. With short intervals of ebb, the
crowd from time to time flooded up over the house. Officers found their
way there from distant garrison towns; the cultivated among them being a
most welcome addition, the ruder the inconvenience of every one. Of
civilians too there was no lack; and one day the Count and the Baroness
quite unexpectedly came driving up together.
Their presence gave the castle the air of a thorough court. The men of
rank and character formed a circle about the Baron, and the ladies
yielded precedence to the Baroness. The surprise at seeing both
together, and in such high spirits, was not allowed to be of long
continuance. It came out that the Count's wife was dead, and the new
marriage was to take place as soon as ever decency would allow it.
Well did Ottilie remember their first visit, and every word which was
then uttered about marriage and separation, binding and dividing, hope,
expectation, disappointment, renunciation. Here were these two persons,
at that time without prospect for the future, now standing before her,
so near their wished-for happiness, and an involuntary sigh escaped out
of her heart.
No sooner did Luciana hear that the Count was an amateur of music, than
at once she must get up something of a concert. She herself would sing
and accompany herself on the guitar. It was done. The instrument she did
not play without skill; her voice was agreeable: as for the words one
understood about as little of them as one commonly does when a German
beauty sings to the guitar. However, every one assured her that she had
sung with exquisite expression, and she found quite enough approbation
to satisfy her. A singular misfortune befell her, however, on this
occasion. Among the party there happened to be a poet, whom she hoped
particularly to attach to herself, wishing to induce him to write a song
or two, and address them to her. This evening, therefore, she produced
scarcely anything except songs of his composing. Like the rest of the
party he was perfectly courteous to her, but she had looked for more.
She spoke to him several times, going as near the subject as she dared,
but nothing further could she get. At last, unable to bear it any
longer, she sent one of her train to him, to sound him and find out
whether he had not been delighted to hear his beautiful poems so
"My poems?" he replied, with amazement; "pray excuse me, my dear sir,"
he added, "I heard nothing but the vowels, and not all of those;
however, I am in duty bound to express all gratitude for so amiable an
intention." The dandy said nothing and kept his secret; the other
endeavored to get himself out of the scrape by a few well-timed
compliments. She did not conceal her desire to have something of his
which should be written for herself.
If it would not have been too ill-natured, he might have handed her the
alphabet, to imagine for herself, out of that, such laudatory poem as
would please her, and set it to the first melody that came to hand; but
she was not to escape out of this business without mortification. A
short time after, she had to learn that the very same evening he had
written, at the foot of one of Ottilie's favorite melodies, a most
lovely poem, which was something more than complimentary.
Luciana, like all persons of her sort, who never can distinguish between
where they show to advantage and where to disadvantage, now determined
to try her fortune in reciting. Her memory was good, but, if the truth
must be told, her execution was spiritless, and she was vehement without
being passionate. She recited ballad stories, and whatever else is
usually delivered in declamation. At the same time she had contracted an
unhappy habit of accompanying what she delivered with gestures, by
which, in a disagreeable way, what is purely epic and lyric is more
confused than connected with the dramatic.
The Count, a keen-sighted man, soon saw through the party, their
inclinations, dispositions, wishes, and capabilities, and by some means
or other contrived to bring Luciana to a new kind of exhibition, which
was perfectly suited to her.
"I see here," he said, "a number of persons with fine figures, who would
surely be able to imitate pictorial emotions and postures. Suppose they
were to try, if the thing is new to them, to represent some real and
well-known picture. An imitation of this kind, if it requires some labor
in arrangement, has an inconceivably charming effect."
Luciana was quick enough in perceiving that here she was on her own
ground entirely. Her fine shape, her well-rounded form, the regularity
and yet expressiveness of her features, her light-brown braided hair,
her long neck--she ran them all over in her mind, and calculated on
their pictorial effects, and if she had only known that her beauty
showed to more advantage when she was still than when she was in motion,
because in the last case certain ungracefulness continually escaped her,
she would have entered even more eagerly than she did into this natural
They looked out the engravings of celebrated pictures, and the first
which they chose was Van Dyk's Belisarius. A large well-proportioned
man, somewhat advanced in years, was to represent the seated, blind
general. The Architect was to be the affectionate soldier standing
sorrowing before him, there really being some resemblance between them.
Luciana, half from modesty, had chosen the part of the young woman in
the background, counting out some large alms into the palm of his hand,
while an old woman beside her is trying to prevent her, and representing
that she is giving too much. Another woman who is in the act of giving
him something, was not forgotten. Into this and other pictures they
threw themselves with all earnestness. The Count gave the Architect a
few hints as to the best style of arrangement, and he at once set up a
kind of theatre, all necessary pains being taken for the proper lighting
of it. They were already deep in the midst of their preparations, before
they observed how large an outlay what they were undertaking would
require, and that in the country, in the middle of winter, many things
which they required it would be difficult to procure; consequently, to
prevent a stoppage, Luciana had nearly her whole wardrobe cut in pieces,
to supply the various costumes which the original artist had arbitrarily