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